No parent wants to yell at their children but when kids test limits, it can be hard to hold your patience. Even committing to being a respectful and peaceful parent, doesn’t always protect parents from being triggered by certain behaviours in their children.
It is part of a child’s natural learning and developmental progression to experiment, test limits and assert their independence. You want your children to be able to play and explore freely wherever possible but not at the expense of your sanity. For it’s when a parent’s sanity gets compromised that they usually find themselves on that quick path to Yellsville.
We stopped using time outs in our household about three years ago when we discovered Janet Lansbury’s wonderful blog and began to follow Magda Gerber’s RIE parenting philosophies. Prior to that time, we followed popular advice to enforce a short time out (1 minute per every year of age) to try to steer our spirited and strong-willed child towards more suitable and compliant behaviour.
Supporting an emotional child and helping them learn to cope with their emotions is a complex task. It is important that in our efforts to provide children with skills and techniques to become more self-regulatory when they are feeling emotional, we do not inadvertently invalidate their emotions or cause our children to feel abnormal simply because they feel things more deeply than others.
Children create mess, that we can be sure of. But how much mess is too much? Should children take more responsibility and tidy up after themselves? It obviously comes down to the ages of our children and our own tolerance levels but when children upend baskets of toys, take their art work to the wall, pull towels out of the linen cupboard as props for their play and empty the clothes out of their drawers to make jumping castles, there comes a time when it is ok to say ENOUGH!
I once read that the teenage years can be likened to the toddler years. Both stages of life are a time of significant developmental change. Toddlers and teens alike experience significant body and mind development that can have them behaving in ways you have never seen. Just as they are figuring out who they are, we, as parents, struggle to understand the child we once thought we knew inside out.
But the thing is, that is what they need from us most of all; to understand. The way we interact with our young children, the words we use, the intonation in our voice and even our body language can have a huge impact on whether they will feel comfortable talking to us about the big issues they will inevitably face as teens. If we are not empathetic and understanding to the ‘little things’ they face in their early years (which are actually big things to them) then the chances are they will have a hard time opening up about the big things when they grow.
Dr. Therese O’Sullivan is a dietitian, lecturer and mother to two young boys. She also happens to one of my closest friends, having spent many mornings and afternoons sharing a commute with her to and from school each day on the train, playing in sporting teams together, sitting through classes together and hanging out every lunch break.
Over the years, life circumstances and distance meant our relationship grew apart somewhat until the powerful bond of motherhood drew us back together. I was so grateful and honoured, therefore, when Therese agreed to write the very first guest post for PPCK on a topic that I am sure we have all struggled with at some point – nappy changes and tooth brushing.
Upon hearing about RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) from Kate when my first-born was little, many of the principles made sense. However, it wasn’t until my cheeky monkey started pushing boundaries that I really saw RIE work its magic.
Two experiences have stood out – nappy changing and tooth brushing.
My child is not afraid to defy authority and I am not afraid to let her.
Ever since she could talk, my daughter has had something to say about the expectations placed upon her. Keen to stamp her independence firmly on every task or undertaking, L (3.5 years) has always ensured that if it involves her, she has a say in it.
Luckily for her, early on in her life we discovered the work of Magda Gerber and chose to adopt the respectful parenting practices that have guided new parents for decades, RIE. This practise has encouraged her freedom of expression and given her the opportunity to voice her opinion on matters big and small, whilst still being guided gently by her parents.
Sibling squabbles are a common occurrence in our house as I am sure they are in many other’s. I have posted relatively frequently on this topic in the past. You can read some of these posts here(Could NOT Forcing Toddlers to Share Help With Sharing Conflicts?) and here(7 Things I Should Know About Helping My Children to Share) and here(Why I Allow My Children to Struggle Over Toys).
There is a common theme amongst my previous posts and that is that my eldest daughter (3.5 years) is quite often the one inflicting pain and misery on her younger sister (2.5 years).
I have learned better than to label my children as bullies or victims, however, and I work hard not to so much as even perceive either of my children in these roles. Doing away with the bully label was quite easy once I started viewing my eldest as a victim of her own unregulated impulses and strong emotions as well as recognising the difficulty she has always had in accepting her younger sister into the household. I have subsequently spent a great deal of time focused on helping her manage these emotions and ensuring she feels understood during her outbursts.
It has recently dawned on me, though, that my focus on this has limited my opportunities to help my youngest daughter develop the skills that could help her to stand up for herself during heated arguments and tussles. Continue reading →