Tag Archives: RIE

Taking the Fight Out of a Toddler Tooth Brush (Guest post by Dr. Therese O’Sullivan)


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.

Taking the Fight Out of a Toddler Tooth Brush - Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

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Supporting the Development of Empathy in Children

Empathy2When do children develop empathy – I mean true empathy?  I have always considered empathy quite a complex emotion. According to Psych Central, to empathise with someone is to understand what another is feeling or, more properly, to understand what you would feel like if you were in their situation.

Considering the feelings of others and showing them support through words or actions is a concept that even adults sometimes struggle with. Often our life experiences help to strengthen our empathetic nature, particularly experiences of hardship. Empathy in children is therefore not something I have really paid too much mind to, confident that this, like many of my children’s blossoming traits, will develop over time. Continue reading

Why I Allow my Kids to Struggle Over Toys

My daughters have always had a rather volatile relationship. Born just 13 months apart and with polar opposite personalities, they have often struggled living their daily lives in each other’s company particularly when it comes to sharing toys.

Why I Allow my Kids to Struggle Over Toys - Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

 

In the beginning it was quite easy to get caught in the trap of seeing my eldest, Lucy, as the aggressor in many of their altercations (because, in reality, she was), leaving my youngest, Penny, with no choice but to be considered the victim, always having to be rescued by us.

Over time, and after learning about RIE and reading many expert articles cautioning against not only using these labels for children but also against even perceiving one child as the victim and the other as the perpetrator, we changed how we considered the children’s roles in these struggles. I have previously written about the importance of this shift in mindset and for the most part we have managed to remain neutral umpires during our children’s scuffles.

As the girls have gotten older and wiser, we have been able to enjoy more and more beautiful moments watching them play harmoniously together for extended periods of time. However, with their developing age, significant physical strength has emerged from both of them. Their previously lop-sided battles for toys that used to end quite quickly with Lucy gaining possession of the hot items, were now becoming a much more even contest involving far more drawn-out struggles.

With the drama surrounding these struggles, it can be easy, as parents, to want it ended quickly to restore peace in the house. It is tempting to step in and break up the fight, putting the toy away or giving it to its original owner. We made the decision quite some time ago to allow our children to work through these struggles in their entirety, stepping in only to prevent physical hurt from ensuing.

Tonight, for example, Penny (my 2.5 year old) was initiating a game of hide and seek, crawling under a table and calling out, “You can’t find me!” Whilst under the table she discovered a bead maze that her older sister had left there hours earlier. She picked it up and began playing with it whilst I proceeded to ‘try’ to find her. Hearing a game in progress, Lucy came racing in excitedly and dove under the table only to find Penny with ‘her’ toy.

Hide and seek quickly became a duel between the two as each staked their claim on the maze and fought furiously to defend it. As I crouched under the table beside them, blocking their attempts to grab each other’s hands to prize them off or push each other over, and sportscasting the event, I admired their tenacity and found myself appreciating the courage, strength and determination each of them displayed in this volatile situation.

I could see how healthy this battle was for their strength and resilience in the following ways.

It was loud. To remain assertive in a situation where someone is screaming at you from just centimetres away takes bravery.

It was physical. Gripping an item tightly for an extended period of time whilst someone struggles against you, pushing, pulling and occasionally swiping at you takes immeasurable strength and determination.

It was emotional. Feeling these emotions and conquering them takes resilience and it is liberating and empowering for young children to know they can survive these emotions and come back stronger.

It was authentic. After what seemed an eternity (probably one minute), one of the girls emerged with the item, leaving the other devastated and flailing on the floor. A short time later, that same child had picked herself up, dusted herself off and moved confidently onto a new toy. To feel genuine loss and grieve that loss only to rise again, finding contentment in another toy soon after, empowers them to cope with other forms of hurt, loss and grief they may experience in the future.

As I have come to terms with my children expressing their emotions freely after practicing Magda Gerber’s RIE parenting for nearly two years, I now feel confident to allow my girls the time and space they need to come to their own natural conclusions in their fights for a particular hot item. I am realising that despite the trauma they seem to be going through at the time, they are actually learning so many valuable skills during these scuffles. My interference would only rob them of the chance to grow from these altercations.

Toddler Toy Battles- Interventions that Work (Podcast) ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury- Elevating Childcare)

5 Reasons to Love Conflict ~ Emily Plank – Abundant Life Children

7 Things I Should Know About Helping my Children to Share (From my Toddler Coach) Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)

 

Creating Bonds: Accepting A Child’s Emotions

Accepting a child’s emotions is not something that comes easily to most people. As humans we are conditioned to be comfortable with emotions such as joy, excitement and serenity. Feelings like anger, frustration, sadness and disappointment are more difficult to deal with and as such we do what we can to turn these emotions back towards the happiness end of the emotional spectrum.

Accepting a Child's Emotions ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids Continue reading

The Hard Truth About Parenting


Parenting is not for everyone but all parents are doing it. Doing it does not always mean getting it right. Getting it right does not mean life is easy and life being easy does not always mean we are getting it right. Respectful parenting is perhaps the hardest form of parenting to pull off but believing in its powers and incredible impact on children is enough to keep this mama steadfast in her quest.

The Hard Truth About Parenting ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids Continue reading

Making it Through Witching Hour… Without Losing It!

Making it Through Witching Hour... Without Losing it! ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident KidsI often wonder what our neighbours think we are doing to our children as their screams echo around the walls of our house during the afternoon witching or arsenic hour as it is commonly known. As much as we thoroughly prepare for this time of the day, rarely are my children able to remain cool, calm or collected as we work towards the evening meal, bath and ultimately, bedtime. I have learned to let go of my worries about the neighbours. I know that as long as I am able to remain cool, calm and collected, my children’s emotional releases are healthy, normal and an important part of a toddler’s development.

In the past though, I would be on the phone to my husband every five minutes from about 4pm onwards, getting an update on his eta. I found the meltdowns difficult to handle and impossible to stay unruffled through. Now, I am finding a strength in my resolve to be confident, peaceful and firm during these times that I never thought I had in me. My eldest daughter put me through a pretty gruelling test recently when she melted down just before dinner. This is how I made it through unruffled.

The first and most important thing was that I was prepared. Staying calm is always hardest when you are taken off guard and caught by surprise. I knew this time was approaching, as I do everyday. I had made a batch of bolognaise sauce on the weekend which just needed heating so all I needed to do was to pop some spaghetti in some boiling water to cook. Dinner time is between 5:00 and 5:30 in our house (this is as early as we can make it usually) so as 4:30 approached and I heard intolerance build in my children’s interactions I decided to put the pot on the stove a little earlier than normal.

Sure enough, just as the water started boiling I had both children raiding the pantry for some cereal. Obviously, it was too close to dinner for more snacks so I had to get them through 10 -15 mins before I could have dinner on the table. Sending them away to play was not going to happen, so I set the timer for 10 minutes for the spaghetti to cook and gave the girls some wants nothing quality time. I took them to the lounge for some pre-dinner dancing. We turned on Pandora for some bopping music and danced together for about 5 minutes before the girls raided the puzzle drawer and settled in for some puzzle time on their own. I was able to duck away at this point to serve up the dinner and set it at the table all ready for the girls.

Tiredness overcame my eldest during dinner (as it often does). She asked for/ demanded some milk and I rephrased this for her, “May I have some milk please, Mum?” I gave her a small amount in a cup which she quickly gulped down. She whined “I want some moooore!”. I set an expectation that she eat her dinner before having more milk as I didn’t want her filling up on just milk. She repeatedly screamed for milk. Sitting by her, I acknowledged, “I hear you asking for some more milk. You may have some when you have eaten your dinner.” As her screams continued I validated her emotions “Wow! You are really upset that I am not giving you any milk. It can be hard to wait.” In my head I kept repeating to myself my mantra, “She needs me to be calm.”

She eventually calmed but wouldn’t eat. Instead she pushed the food around her plate and then eventually slid off her chair and underneath the table. I set the limit, “Lucy, you have left your chair. Are you telling me you are done with your dinner?” “NO!” came the reply as she scrambled back up. I reminded her: “I would like you to stay sitting on your chair for dinner. When you leave your chair, you are telling me you have had enough to eat so I will take your plate away.”

Lucy squirmed around on her chair for a while longer before climbing down again to retrieve a book from the bookshelf. I told her I could see she was done with her dinner and that I would remove her plate. She screamed and ran after me, clawing to have her plate back. I explained that she had left the table and her dinner was going away. I let her know it was bath time now and acknowledged, “You seem disappointed that you are not able to eat your dinner. After your bath you might feel a little more hungry and you could try again.” (I don’t always offer the eat later option but tonight I felt her emotions were getting in the way of her eating and that given some time to release these emotions, she may be able to eat more peacefully)

As I ran the waters for her bath I took some deep breaths and reminded myself how hard this was for her. I resolved to support her through it and calculated that I only had just over an hour until she would be soundly tucked up in bed and I would be able to have a much needed shower and cuppa in peace. I think of it like an hour until I clock off from work. This works for me at this time of day but I try not to count down from too early on or it can have the reverse effect!

Through Lucy’s bath, the testing behaviour continued. it was clear to me that a mixture of tiredness, hunger and possibly some pent up emotions were rendering her irrational. She asked for some blue colour in her bath which I happily obliged. However, as the blue drops landed in her bath and swirled out in spectacular patterns, she screamed, “No not blue, RED!!” I had not misheard her, she had changed her mind which is what she often does when her rational brain begins spiralling out of control. It is as though she wants to create an issue worthy of her spilling out her emotions.  This was a sure sign for me that she desperately needed help.

I acknowledged “You don’t want blue in the bath. You really want red. I can put some red in with the blue if you’d like?” But she wasn’t listening “GET THAT BLUE OUT!” Came the scream as she madly started scooping water out of the bath tub, all over the floor and me. Now soaking wet, I could feel my patience waning. I needed to get her out but I needed to do so respectfully. I blocked Lucy’s frantic hands from splashing the water and calmly explained that the water needed to stay in the bath and that I would help her by holding her hands. She fought and became very agitated with me, screaming at me to let go.

“I hear you asking me to let go. If you splash the water, you are telling me you are done having a bath and I will have to help you out.” As soon as I let go of her hands she splashed the water at me once more. I explained, “Bath time is over. I will now lift you out of the bath.” She needed me to take control and over her screams of protest I spoke to her (but really I spoke to myself). This was how I was going to stay calm. “You are tired and hungry. You are having a hard time making decisions so I am going to help you by taking charge. It is so hard for you in afternoons sometimes but I want you to know that I am here for you and I want to help you. I will keep you safe.”

Now I don’t know how much she took in but saying these things definitely allowed me to keep a compassionate, confident demeanour which is what she desperately needed. This would have given her a sense of relief in my ability to parent her even when the going got tough.

I wrapped her in a towel and carried her to her bedroom. Here she was in a safe space where we could both sit and she could freely express the emotions that were taking over her little body. It wasn’t long before her wails of anger turned to healing sobs as the cortisol flushing through her body dissipated. Finally these turned to relieved sniffles. She crawled into my lap and physically relaxed as I stroked her back and told her I loved her and would always do so. She became so still that I thought she was falling asleep right then and there but eventually a little voice squeaked, “I’m hungry. Could I please have my dinner now?” I replied, “Sure, let’s get dressed.” She willingly did so and then went to eat her dinner with her Father who had by then arrived home.

When she finished she announced that she would like to go to bed (an hour earlier than her usual 7:00 bed time) so we took her to bed and she drifted off happily as I read to her.

I breathed a deep sigh of relief as I put the kettle on and slumped into the lounge chair. I listened as my husband read stories to my youngest in her room and quietly praised myself for helping a child work through her despair with the kindness and empathy that I am starting to see reflected in her own behaviours more and more.

Tantrums and Meltdowns – My Tips For Staying Calm When the Kids Aren’t – Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)

9 Best Ways to Stay (Mostly) Unruffled With Toddlers – Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)

5 Tips For Staying Calm With Children – Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)

 

 

 

5 Steps to a Peaceful Day Care Drop Off

day care drop off 3

Recently, Miss 3 has begun to demonstrate significant separation anxiety at her day care drop offs. She becomes clingy, and desperately upset when I tell her I am leaving for work.

I know this type of separation anxiety is extremely common and although difficult to experience, I have taken some comfort in the fact that she genuinely feels she needs me and would rather be with me than in the care of others.

I also know, however, that I need to help more with her transition into care. It has been getting increasingly more difficult for me to get away on time and her stress levels must also be through the roof. Continue reading

Staying Calm With Children: 5 Practical Tips

Staying calm with children can be extraordinarily difficult at times. It seems our children are wired to wind us up until we snap. Many parents, including myself, strive to be mindful and considered in our parenting choices but in one moment of distraction it is easy to find ourselves being triggered and unable to stop the barrage that results.

5 Practical Tips for Staying Calm With Children ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

For respectful parenting to work, it is vital that parents are able to keep a cool and unruffled exterior when dealing with a child’s behaviour – that, for me, is the hard part. It sometimes takes all my strength, determination and most of all self-belief to achieve this but I can truly attest to the fact that my children respond far better and thrive the most when I am consistently able to steady myself and keep a peaceful yet firm exterior when they push me to my limits.

The days I am feeling sluggish, stressed or overwhelmed by accumulating housework are usually the days my tolerance levels are lowest. Coincidentally (or not), these days also usually happen to be the days my children seem especially clingy, whingey, demanding and testing!

When I have my own agenda for the day; things I am trying to achieve around the house, this is when I find myself less tolerant and less able to stay calm and accepting of difficult behaviours.

So I have, over time, developed practices which all contribute to me being more mindful, less stressed and better able to remain the peaceful parent I strive to be.

1. Mentally prepare for the day ahead

I do this by reading inspiring blog posts or a chapter of a great parenting book. I am usually woken early in the morning by my children so I normally do this the night before, resolving to put into practice, a new technique or idea I have read the next day. Often just reading a success story or a profound Janet Lansbury post is enough to help me stay confident in my parenting throughout the day.

I write inspiring words or helpful phrases in the notebook beside my bed.

In the morning, I quickly scan these notes and I remind myself how important it is that I stay on top of my emotions and parent calmly throughout the day. Being conscious of my actions rather than just drifting mindlessly through the day really helps me stay focused on the role I have taken on. Like an actor in a play I guess.

Much of this mental preparation is centered around shifting my perspectives of the behaviours. Educating myself about the reasons behind challenging behaviours such as limit testing and tantrums really helps me to deal with them with more empathy when they occur.

2. Prepare meals on the weekend

Freeing up time during the day so I am not stressed about trying to get dinner made by a deadline with children either clinging to me or trashing something elsewhere in the house, is invaluable.

I now try to prepare the week’s meals on Sundays whilst my husband is home to help with the children. This way the weight of this daily chore is lifted. Instead I can use the week days to invite the girls into the kitchen to help, inspiring in them a love of food and cooking as we bake and create healthy goodies together with no stress or pressure to achieve a goal.

3. Make lunches and snacks at breakfast

When my children are happily occupied eating their toast, I often make lunch for my husband to take to work. It occurred to me one day that it would be little extra effort to do the same for my children. So I bought them both lunch boxes with separate compartments for snacks, sandwiches etc and now I fill their boxes ready to pull out when hunger strikes.

So often I have been caught out having nothing prepared and having to scramble something together whilst my children bite chunks out of the cheese, dip their fingers in the butter or cry because I am not doing it the right way.

My stress levels inevitably increase and I sometimes have a hard time staying calm in such moments. Having everything pre-made eliminates this occurrence and also means the kitchen only needs clearing once, after breakfast, because I am not continually preparing food and dirtying dishes.

These Yumbox Original lunch boxes (affiliate link) are fantastic for organising the snacks into containers and keeping them all together. The kids love them!

4. Use care giving moments to connect

The realisation that my babies will all too soon be old enough to take care of themselves and no longer need me to look after them hit me like a tonne of bricks recently. I already knew that care giving tasks were precious bonding occasions but when I truly cherish each one, not only do my children feel more connected and better able to break away from me for extended play periods, I get my own feelings of love, joy and a sense of calm come over me when I give myself fully to my children for periods throughout the day. This further steadies my resolve to parent my children with care.

5. Reflect on the day

This is probably the most effective practice I use for becoming a more mindful, peaceful parent. There is rarely a day go by where I don’t discuss with my husband, a situation involving the children which occurred during the course of the day.

I recount blow by blow, the events leading up to the situation, the dialogue used and the ultimate outcome. Through this reflection I can think, without the pressure of the moment, and decide whether I could improve upon or change my involvement for future occurrences or whether it seemed to be quite successful as it was.

My blog writing further cements this reflection for me as I get the sense that by putting things down on paper, I am owning my actions and becoming more accountable.

I am also given so many opportunities to answer questions from readers which contributes to my reflective practice. It makes me think about scenarios that could come up for us as a family and how I would like to deal with them. It takes out some of the element of surprise, ensuring I am not having to always think on my feet with my own children.

Joining online forums and groups with like-minded parents, is also a great way to read about other people’s dilemmas and give you a chance to think about what you might do in that situation.

These are just a few of the things I have found have helped me remain the peaceful parent I am determined to be. I’m interested to hear what you do to stay unruffled when your children become challenging throughout the day.

You may also enjoy reading:

Tantrums and Meltdowns – My Secrets For Staying calm When The Kids Aren’t ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury- Elevating Childcare)

9 Best Ways to Stay (Mostly) Unruffled With Toddlers ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury- Elevating Childcare)

Self Soothing (It’s Not Just For Babies) ~ Christina Kessler (Respectful Caregiving)

5 Practical Tips for Staying Calm With Children ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids