Tag Archives: Toddler emotion

Taking the Brunt of a Child’s Anger… And Still Finding Connection

Taking the Brunt of a Child's Anger ~ Peaceful parents, Confident Kids

When I arrived home from work the other day, I was looking forward to cuddling my children and having some fun spending time with and connecting with them. Instead, I was greeted with the sounds of children in distress and a husband at the end of his tether. It had been a long, sick week for the family and being the only healthy body in the house, my husband had been on night wake-up and child minding duty all week.

As he began reluctantly to make his way towards his screaming youngest child, I told him to stop, sit down, relax, have a drink; I would get this. I was feeling better. I missed spending time with my girls and this was my opportunity to reconnect with them.

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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)

 

 

 

Toddler Tantrum Therapy

Toddler Tantrum Therapy - Peaceful parents, Confident KidsTantrums in shopping centres are never good but much good can come of them. When a toddler tests limits it can be a sure sign they are in need of an emotional release. Time for some healing therapy.

We had one of these today. A big one. In the past, this was the type of tantrum that would result in me either losing it and joining in my toddler’s tantrum with my own screams and shouts or giving in to my toddler’s desire just to keep the peace and restore calm. But not today. Today I donned my Supermum cape to support my child through her strong feelings, ignoring the stares of onlookers and managing to calmly and confidently lead my child out of the centre and back to her own peaceful equilibrium.

We arrived at the shopping centre fairly early in the morning for the soul purpose of playing on the indoor play equipment. It has been recently set up for children five and under and consists of mostly soft play including a padded adventure climb, slide and a small immobile car with steering wheel.

The children adore playing here and there is often only two or three other families using it so it is never crowded and best of all it’s free. There are a number of rules sign posted which are fairly typical for the protection of both the children and the equipment. For a number of reasons I am a bit of a stickler for rules – 1. because I’m a teacher and 2. because I really appreciate having the use of this area and would like to see it preserved into the future so we can continue to enjoy it.

So I have always requested my children remove their shoes before playing (as per the rules) even though many other children do not. The girls had no problem taking off their shoes when we first arrived and even after a trip to the toilet and back again, there were no protests. But when we once again had to don our shoes for another toilet stop a relatively short time later, Penny was adamant her shoes were not coming back off.

I could kind of see her point. It must have seemed to her a waste of precious play time especially seeing she was not the one needing the toilet each time. But the rules remained and if she wanted to continue to play, she was going to need to remove them. Initially, she simply ignored the instruction and stepped into the play area. I restrained her gently and restated the expectation, “If you would like to play on the equipment you need to take your shoes off.”

She tried to wriggle free from me as her cries of protest began to escalate. I acknowledged, “You don’t want to take your shoes off again” and repeated, “I can’t let you go in there with your shoes on.” She fought hard and I carefully released my grip so she could have some space on the floor to voice her anger and frustration.

I stayed close by to let her know I heard her anguish and understood. She was not open to any words of comfort and eventually crawled under the table away from me and continued tantruming there.

I let her be. I stayed where I was and resolved to let it run its own course whilst keeping my eye on her older sister who was happily playing.

A short while later a ball rolled under the table to Penny which momentarily distracted her from her emotions. She crawled out with it and I asked her to hand it back to the small boy who had thrown it out of his pram. She did so willingly and then crawled back under the table to resume her cries. But the moment was lost by the distraction and she couldn’t get back to the intensity of the release she had been having previously.

I guessed that her emotional release had not been complete and predicted further upsets were abound so decided that now would be a good time to head home. I called to her sister, Lucy, that we would be leaving in five minutes and then explained to Penny we would be leaving soon and if she would like a quick play before we went she needed to do so now.

Having given up on her outburst she considered my proposal. She headed towards the play area slowly. She stopped at the entrance and looked at me, testing the limit to see if I had changed my mind about her shoes. I said, “You will need to take your shoes off to play in there.” She whinged but remained steady. She knew I would not change my mind on this limit and was weighing up the effectiveness of continuing the test. She took one more step inside and I repeated, “I won’t let you go in there with your shoes on.” She sat down and removed her shoes, seeking help when one got stuck.

She then made her way to where her sister was playing in the car whilst I collected her shoes and put them in the pram. Within 20 seconds I heard familiar shouts of anger and frustration. My children had come to blows. I looked over and saw Penny trying to push her way into the car whilst her sister remained steadfast in her seat.

They both screamed as they tried to assert themselves to each other. I moved over swiftly but calmly and used my arms and hands to block swipes and prevent pushes as I stated, “Lucy you are in the car and Penny wants to hop in with you. It seems like you are not finished yet.”

The screams escalated as Penny managed to manoeuvre herself onto the seat beside Lucy. I explained to the girls that if they couldn’t work it out we would need to go home now. The screams and pushes continued so I then said, “It seems too difficult for you to come to a solution so we will head home.”

With both children quite upset I made the decision to pick them up and take them to the pram. I placed Penny down whilst I buckled (a calming) Lucy in. Penny threw herself on the ground, where she resumed her earlier tantrum. I acknowledged, “I hear you are upset. We are going home now so I will place you in the pram.”

She fought me whilst I strapped her in and I continued to acknowledge, “You don’t want to be strapped in. You are having a really hard time and I need to get you home.” I ignored the stares of the onlookers and resisted the urge to give in to her request to walk. Given we had to walk the length of the shopping centre and through a car park, this would only result in further issues.

I pushed the pram with Penny screaming through the centre and out to the car park. Lucy was calm and collected so I helped her into her car seat first before pausing to decide how best to deal with Penny. I briefly thought about stopping and slowing down, giving Penny some time to get through her emotions before trying to put her in her seat. She’s a strong fighter and I knew how physically hard strapping her in would be with her being uncooperative. I decided against it.

While Lucy was currently ok, I knew her patience was not as resolved as mine and I could not expect her to sit in her seat indefinitely whilst I waited for Penny to come around. Besides, there was every chance that she would calm down only to be set off again once I required her to be in her seat.

So I steadied myself and moved confidently all the while talking Penny through the ordeal. “I am going to place you in your car seat now. I don’t want to hurt you so I will be as gentle as I can. I am picking you up now. You are not happy. I can hear how hard it is for you right now. I am placing you in your seat. You are very strong. I am going to hold you upright so I can buckle the straps. I’m sorry if this is hurting you. I am putting your arms through the straps. We are nearly done. You are all strapped in now. You are very upset and need to cry. It’s ok to cry as much as you need. I love you very much.”

I moved to kiss her little forehead but she let me know with a swinging arm that she did not want me close. That was ok and I backed off.

As I drove home I listened to her sobs as if each one was telling me a story of her tough day. This helped me listen with empathy and I never once felt so much as a pinch of anger or annoyance come over me. My little girl was hurting and I empathised. I drove the long way home, only turning towards our house once I heard her cries had diminished and an air of calm had come over her.

At home I unbuckled her and then asked if she would like a cuddle as I lifted her from her seat. I stated, “You were very upset. I could tell by your strong cries.” She wrapped her little arms around me and I held her tenderly as I felt her body relax in my arms. The skies had cleared. The release was over and she was once again unburdened of strong feelings. She was free to play peacefully for the rest of the day. Her tolerance and contentedness was remarkable in her interactions with her sister, her toys and my requests.

You might also like to read:

Coping With a Toddler Tantrum in a Stressful Situation ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)

Testing Toddlers Crave Limits ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)

No Ifs, Ands or Buts: Setting Limits With Empathy ~ Lisa Sunbury (Regarding Baby)

Setting Limits With Respect – What it Sounds Like (Podcast) ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)

Coping With a Toddler Tantrum When You Can’t be 100% Present

Coping With a Toddler Tantrum in a Stressful Situation ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

I am a relief teacher. Sometimes I get called into work early in the morning and have to rush to be ready in time but luckily, more often I am given advanced warning. Today I had received the call the night before and so was able to ensure I was up early with lunches made and bags packed, ready to have everyone out of the house by 7:30am. But even with warning, getting out of the house in the morning is quite stressful and everything needs to run smoothly in order for me to make it to school before the bell rings for class. Continue reading

Easing the Stress of Day Care Pick Ups

day care pick upsBalancing work with family life is a challenge many families deal with at some stage or another. We have been juggling this reality in our house for just over a year now and it hasn’t been easy.

Returning to work was not something I was comfortable with after the birth of my children but unfortunately we have been unable to make the budget stretch for me to be a full time, Stay-At-Home Mum. So we made the decision for me to resume working as a teacher on a part time, casual basis and to enroll our children into day care for three days a week.

We did our background checks on some local day care providers and finally settled on a centre we felt would look after the needs of our children whilst my husband and I worked. We knew there would be a few changes in our daily lives but what we hadn’t banked on was how hard this transition would be for our children and how much it would cost us in emotional turmoil.

The early days of day care drop offs were uneventful and the children seemed accepting of this change in their lives. It was always a puzzle to me, however, when my children would break down in full sobbing tears the moment they set eyes on me at pick up at the end of the day.

Initially I thought it was because they didn’t want to leave but then I wondered if they were unhappy at their day care. I was always reassured by their teachers that they had had a lovely day and whenever I arrived I would take a moment to observe them in play before announcing my presence. They always seemed settled and engaged.

As the months went on, these post care tears diminished and in their place came post care tantrums and extremely testing behaviours. It got to the point where just leaving the day care centre was a huge ordeal. I used to dread the drop offs but now the pick ups were ten times worse! As I gathered up the girls and their belongings I was met with opposition and defiance all the way to the car. Running through doors and shutting them behind themselves to block me from getting through and then screaming when I finally made it through. Climbing onto the rocking horse in the foyer and refusing to get off and then the other wanting to do the same. Screaming because I walked down the steps and not the ramp and then another tantrum after I back-tracked to the ramp but wouldn’t do it a second time over. Climbing into the car and diving over into the boot before I could strap them in and flatly refusing to move back into the seat area. These were just a few of the hurdles I faced every single time I picked them up.

Making matters worse was the fact that I too was tired after working all day and the pressure was on to get the children home, bathed and fed so they could be put to bed at a reasonable hour before full blown over tiredness caused them to stay up well past the time their little bodies needed to close down for the evening. The girls sensed my anxiety and ensured that my patience was completely tested by digging their heels in at every opportunity.

I started using snacks and offers of treats as a form of coercion just to get them into their seats. This worked but was clearly not getting to the root of the problem because as soon as we arrived home, more testing behaviour ensued and by this stage it had kicked into a higher gear. Furthermore, it got to the point where they would demand a treat before getting in. I didn’t want it to be this way, I didn’t want to have to bribe my children into the car.

So, as I usually try to do when I am met with a challenge in my parenting journey, I spent some time trying to determine the underlying cause of the problem rather than trying to smooth it over with a band aid treatment.

I did some self-analysis and personal reflection. What I knew was that I had two children charged full of emotion, tired, hungry and vying for my attention. Cooperation was off the agenda and defiance and limit testing on. From all accounts, I was fairly confident that my children’s time at care was enjoyable, emotionally supportive and had met all their basic needs.

The only thing they did not have during the day was me (or Dad). We are our children’s safe place. We are their rock. We have been since the day they were born. We have seen the best of them and the worst of them and our love for them has never wavered. They know this and are therefore comfortable in letting us in on the strong emotions that bubble up inside them.

When they are in the care of others, however, they have learnt to suppress their emotions and save them up. They never tantrum for their carers. They don’t show them the raw anger and frustrations that we have the privilege of witnessing on a regular basis. Our children trust us and so, when they are back in the safety of our arms at the end of their day in care, they slowly let it all out.

All those genuine feelings they have so valiantly suppressed throughout the day need to be heard, validated and understood. It is a sign that we are doing something right as parents for them to trust us so implicitly that they let us experience the worst of them, confident in our love for them.

So, to help make day care pick ups less stressful for all of us my approach has changed in three ways.

1. Better preparation

To make the afternoons at home less rushed and chaotic, I have begun cooking the week’s meals on a Sunday. This way I am not under so much pressure to get home and get things moving, giving me the time to slow right down and connect properly with the children at the point of pick up.

I usually make two large batches of something and have these on alternating nights for four nights. Friday nights is usually a whatever goes night or takeaway. The girls aren’t in care on a Friday so my husband looks after them during the day and is there when I get home from work, giving me time to prepare dinner if needed.

2. Setting stronger limits

My children are sending me fairly clear messages that they want to release some negative emotions. Setting the limits they need in the afternoon is certainly difficult for all of us and results in some pretty ferocious meltdowns but it also gives them that much needed opportunity, in my loving presence, to be comforted and understood whilst they express the emotions they have saved up.

3. Acknowledging feelings

I have found it hugely helpful to talk to my children about their emotions if I can see they are heading over the edge or even after they have already gone over. I let them know how hard it can be being away from home and us all day. I tell them it is normal to feel sad/mad/frustrated and generally emotional when we come to collect them. I let them know that I want to help them and will be strong for them when they need me to be.

Day care pick ups have become a lot less stressful over the past few weeks since I have been able to slow down and give the the time and space to express. They sense my agenda has disappeared and are digging their heels in less and less.

You may also enjoy reading:

5 Steps to a Peaceful Day Care Drop off ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)

Bonding With Our Children Through Conflict ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)

How Do Children Learn to Regulate Their Emotion ~ Kenneth Barish, Ph. D (The Huffington Post)

Car Seat Tantrums  – Handled With Respect ~ Janet Lansbury  (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)

 

A Comprehensive Guide to RIE Parenting

I have been learning about and implementing RIE (pronounced Rye and short for Resources for Infant Educarers) parenting for about three years now. Over that time, I have experimented with different parenting techniques, including some that have not been so respectful, but I have always found my footing and the way forward when I have come back to RIE.

A Comprehensive Guide to RIE Continue reading

Learning to be a Respectful Parent

It took 18 months of parenting before I realised I was on a dangerously downward spiralling path with my children, pushing them further away and slowly undermining their sense of confidence in themselves and trust in me. As I read more and more about the RIE philosophy, I made significant changes to my parenting approach to become a more respectful and reflective parent for my children. The changes subsequently seen in our household were instant and considerable. Suddenly parenting made more sense. I began really communicating with the girls and was able to slow down and enjoy so many more moments with them – yep even the hard ones! You can read more about my introduction to RIE here.

I began this blog just over six months ago with the hopes to inspire even just one person to become a more mindful and respectful parent as they take on one of life’s greatest roles. I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams that my little stories would be so well received and that people from all over the world would read them. I have learned so much about myself and my family along the way and feel blessed to be a part of such a supportive community both on the blog and through my Facebook page (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids) I still continually find such strength and encouragement in talking to people about their own respectful parenting journey through these mediums.

If you are visiting for the first time, thank you for taking the time to pop by. My name is Kate and I am a mother of two beautiful toddlers 13 months apart in age. These two munchkins feature heavily in my posts as they are my inspiration and my guides as I negotiate the twists and turns of the Lucy and Penny roller coaster.

I have put together some of my favourite posts here if you wanted to read a little more about some of our stories.

Caring for Emotions

Intense Emotions - Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

When Extreme Emotions Take Over a Toddler

I have a Daughter With Intense Emotions

Coping With a Toddler’s Emotional Outbursts

Damage Limitation Following a Parental Meltdown

Discipline

Emotions ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

Coping With a Limit Tester

Punitive vs Nurturing Discipline

‘That’s Too Loud, Mummy!’

Could NOT Forcing a Toddler to Share Help With Sharing Conflicts?

The Secrets to Successfully Sportscasting my Children’s Struggles

Confidence and Natural Development

Confidence ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

Rebuilding a Child’s Confidence

Can Young Children be Better Served by Not Teaching Them?

Allowing Children to Play For Their Age and Stage

The Joy of Natural Development

Communication

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Changing The Change Table Relationship

How RIE helped Diagnose a Potentially Serious Condition in Our Baby

Play

Play ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

What’s in a Toy?

Taming the Toys

Our Weekly Play Series (Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7)

Increasing Attention Span in Toddlers Through Purposeful Play

Using Provocations to Extend an Interest

I Have a Daughter With Extreme Emotions

I have a daughter with extreme emotions…

She is strong but she is sensitive. Her emotions are bold and bright and always simmer close to the surface, ready to boil over at the slightest indiscretion. I have written about my daughter’s emotions in the past, but as i sit here once again penning my thoughts on this phenomenon which seems to occupy much of our day, I wonder if I do enough for my daughter.

I Have a Daughter With Intense Emotions ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids Continue reading