Category Archives: Older kid Parenting

How To Fill Your Child’s Cup-A Playful Challenge

I have the hardest time playing. I want to have one of those families that laugh and play together. I want to feel okay being silly and at the same time, have a major problem with this. Most parents find it easy to be silly when they have babies and I certainly didn’t have a problem being goofy with my oldest, Jade, when she was young. Toddlers think you are amazing and super funny. You don’t have to do much to entertain them when they are little. As they get older, their play gets more involved and before you know it they want you to play with Barbie dolls or some other form of role-playing. I cannot for the life of me make myself do pretend Barbie dialog with Jade. I end up feeling stupid and like it is forced. I cringe just thinking about it. I need to learn to lighten up and be a fun mom. I don’t want to be too serious. I want my children to remember me laughing and playing, not scolding and nagging. I want there to be fond memories of their childhood.

Enter My Challenge
I will be reading Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen and implementing the ideas as I go through it. It is a book that has been recommended to me by many of my Attachment Parenting friends. As new discoveries are made, I will share them here! I am really excited about this challenge, and would love for some people to join me.

Cool Analogy On Children’s Emotional Needs
This book likens children’s emotional needs to a cup and states that children have a strong emotional need for connection. When this cup is emptied by anger, stress, hunger or upsets, children act in different ways to try to get their cup filled up. Some will get antsy and rush around the room begging for attention to fill their cups. Some will lock up and make it hard for their cup to be filled.

For children with a secure attachment to their primary caregivers, their cup always seems to stay full and need occasional refilling.  These children can also find refilling easily with connections with their friends or other activities that they enjoy.  For children with an insecure attachment they seem to have a cup that stays empty and needs more constant refilling from the primary caregiver.  These children can appear a little more clingy or withdrawn than children with a secure attachment.  These children may try to withdraw from the cups of other children by force or fighting and may act out in inappropriate ways to get their cup filled and this is where the phrase, “Bad attention is better than no attention at all”, comes from.  Connecting with our children in many ways can ensure that they keep a full cup and that their attachment remains secure. Connecting with children on their level is very important.

How To Fill A Baby’s Cup

  • Peek A Boo
  • Copy Cat-Copy your baby’s noises/gurgles.
  • Infant Massage
  • Gentle Baby Yoga Stretches
  • Kissing
  • Cuddling
  • Baby Wearing

So How Can We Fill A Young Child’s Cup

  • Start by figuring out what your child really likes and offer to do that with them.  The more you do with them, the more you will get to know your child.
  • Watch a TV program sitting next to them.
  • Be lavish with your hugs.  As stated on The Happiness Project, hugs held for at least 6 seconds increase the flow of mood-boosting hormones.
  • Make up silly rhymes.
  • Color with your children.
  • Read with your children.
  • Play Tag.
  • Volunteer-helps to build a connection and gives them a lesson in giving.
  • Go for a family walk.

There are many things that can be done to fill up your children’s cups.  It can be hard to take the first step if you are not in the habit of playing with your child.

The key is to just take the first step.  Once you take the first step, no matter how hard that first step is, just take it and it will get the ball rolling.  As much as I feel uncomfortable playing with my oldest daughter, yesterday, I decided to color with her when she asked me.  At first I felt very awkward.  Before it was over though, I learned about some things she hated at school and we ended up doing silly rhymes.  Before she went to bed she told me how thankful she was that I played with her.

It was totally worth it.  I didn’t do as good today, but each day is part of this journey!

Hopefully our Children Watch Us?

In the morning when I get up, I stay in my room for a few extra minutes to soak up every minute of silence that I can get.  Sometimes while the baby is eating I will meditate. This is necessary preparation.  If I do not prepare I will surely fail in my task to be a peaceful mommy. My bedroom and the adjoining office is what I call the sanctuary. It is very peaceful as it is usually quiet in the morning. It is very peaceful. There is nothing demanding my attention there and I can take a few minutes for myself before I start my day.

I do this preparation daily to prepare for the awakening of my oldest daughter, J and her little sister R.  J is a whirlwind of constant moving and constant talking. She is also bright and inquisitive.  From the moment I come out of my room it is much like being a one-woman trivia team and a cheering section. There are a million topics covered from awakening to sleep and some days my brain goes into shut-down mode.  I want to stay focused and give the right answers. I want J to be happy. There are days it is hard to keep up especially when there is a for month old who doesn’t sleep well that needs you too. Don’t get me wrong, I think J is going places.  She is determined to be rich and famous some day and I believe she will.  She feels that she is the best, brightest, prettiest and smartest out of anyone.  She definitely didn’t lack self esteem but believe me, I am also trying to teach humility…we are moving slowly into developing an understanding of that word. Ha!

Lately J has been doing things that will not make her the most popular kid on the block.  I have warned, but not been heeded. Do you ever feel as a mom that you are nagging and nagging but there is no response…so then you bag more?  I try to tell her that friends don’t like you putting them in head locks.  They don’t like being manipulated, bullied and guilted into giving up their belongings.  They don’t really care for being knocked down and they also don’t tend to care for the class tattle tail.  My coaching doesn’t do much good. In the moment it can be frustrating but I really don’t think it is from her not listening. I think that deep down her personality is just wired to want to be in charge of everything, people included and she hasn’t grown into her personality yet. It is hard to remember that when I’ve said the same things over and over again to no avail. It is hard not to get frustrated and launch into a nag session when I feel like we are having the same problem that I just coached her on. Here’s an example:

So the other night she developed a magic cough at bedtime.  When I went to tuck her in, I asked her why she was fake coughing.  She shook her head and asked how I knew these things.  As she asked this her eyes were filled with wondering amazement like I just had a genie fly out of my butt.  I told her that I just know these things.  She responded to that by coughing half-heartedly a couple more times and she said she was sick.  I finally grinned at her and told her she was full of crap.  She hesitates for a second and exclaimed, “No I’m not!  I just went to the bathroom and got rid of it all!”

Trying to hold in my laughter, I tucked her in and as I was closing the door I could swear that she muttered something about kids being mean to her at school.  I guess the good mom in me must be really tired as hell because I didn’t even have the strength to turn back and get into the why kids are mean drama.  The next morning, however, I mentioned again that we have to treat friends nicely for them to return the favor. I reminded her that if people are being physically mean she needs to tell the teacher. I have tried and tried to tell her how certain behaviors will alienate people, but she is who she is.

So what is left to do when talking isn’t working? 

I guess as her mom it is my job to teach her what behaviors might cause her problems in the future and to try to guide her toward opportunities for growth.  I should try to help her find the best environments that will enhance the best of what her personality has to offer.  I am just trying to help her navigate through the world of growing up.  It is hard to explain that friendships should be built on give and take and should never be built on only take.   It is also hard to explain why we shouldn’t pay our friends to give us back rubs and why people don’t like to be bossed.   Especially when these behaviors, bossing and negotiating, might be useful in the business world.  If I crush those tendencies now, who knows how it will affect her future.  If I try to crush the key facets of her personality and not let her grow into them, she might end up as an adult not know what or who she is.  All she might know is who I expect her to be.  Since most days, her personality type is so very different from my own, I do not always handle things the best.  As a person, I am very giving and think of the other person first and foremost, so self-serving and self-absorbed personality traits drive me up the walls.  It is hitting me the last few days that I cannot change who she is as a person.  I am convinced that children’s personalities come hard-wired.  We can’t change that.  I can only model the behaviors that I would like her to exhibit and provide guidance where needed.  I can only be who I am as a person and take her along with me.  Children do watch us and incorporate pieces of who we are into their personality.  I want what I model to enhance her personality.  I want to make sure that she takes the best of me.  As a teenager and young adult, I do not want my children to mirror the worst aspects of my personality! 

I  am not perfect, and sometimes I yell despite my best intentions to be a positive parent.  I roll my eyes sometimes.  And sometimes I can feel the disgusted look creep across my face at certain behaviors.  Are these the facets of my personality that I want my daughter to copy and use later in life?  No.  So there is only one thing I can do.  I need to do everything that I can to try to change the behaviors that I don’t want to see her use later.  I, personally, will have to try harder to model the parts of my personality that I want her to adopt. 

What about you?  Are you modelling the best of your personality?  Or are you modelling your anger, frustration, lack of patience every day?  I know I have been modeling the bad and I intend to do better because…

Our children really are watching us…

 

These are the eyes of my two children…I put them together to remind me that they are always watching?  What are they seeing?

Toddlerhood scares the crap out of me

I know…I know my baby is only 4 months old.  Right now I can put R down and she stays there.  She also laughs and coos at me when I am making no sense.  She is, however, starting to get more and more wiggly and squirmy and that got me to thinking.  Toddlerhood is coming.  It is approaching faster than I can even imagine and that strikes fear in my heart.  Like the kind of terror that really makes me go into a cold sweat.  In fact, writing about it now makes me a feel a little bit off-balance in my brain.  I am gobbling up book after book about how to be better at it this time.  The last time I faced the toddler stage I was left questioning my sanity and having a few too many margaritas. I am reading Nonviolent Communication in the hopes that it will help me tame my propensity toward anger.  I am also reading Thich Nhat Hahn’s book on Anger.  I am trying to meditate and just breathe instead of constant worry.  I fear toddlers.  How can someone so small mirror our largest weaknesses?  How can someone so small hit all the right buttons?

Let me explain why I am so fearful of these small humans.  To go there, I have to give you some history on my oldest daughter.  My daughter J, who is 8, is what you could call spirited…yea let’s just call it that.  She is the type of kid who bounces off the walls.  She does EVERYTHING loudly and with gusto.  She doesn’t look before she leaps and doesn’t really give much thought to things before she acts.  Today, in fact, we went out to play in the snow.  A layer of ice had fallen over the snow.  I knew her favorite part is throwing snowballs.  I scraped the layer of ice off the top to get to the soft snow below.  I wadded up a ball of snow and tossed it at her.  She didn’t really see what I did and next thing I knew, a huge, sharp and pointy piece of ice was whizzing past my head!  I had to explain to her that the ice has to be moved to get to the snow underneath!  I am so glad she didn’t hit me!  Everything is more with her.  If she is sitting next to you on the couch she is moving so much that you lose concentration on whatever it is you are trying to do at the moment.  Imagine sitting next to a tornado and trying to successfully read, blog or whatever.  She is a talker and a questioner.  She says some of the funniest things.

Here are some J-isms:

  1. She tells me that she is going to be rich and famous.  When she is rich and famous she will have a maid and she will be nice to her maid…”Mom, I will only make her shine my crown a couple of times a week.
  2. When I grow up and am rich I will have my own pink private jet with my picture on the side of it.   
  3. She tells her teacher that certain boys are her boyfriend, even if they are unaware of it.
  4. She asks me repeatedly why I don’t become famous for something…and acts like there is something wrong with me when I don’t want to become famous.  When I explain to her that I don’t really do anything that would make me become famous, she asks, “Well why don’t you make a famous peach cobbler or something?”
  5. Our neighbor’s daughter loves Justin Bieber and had a birthday party and the cake had a picture of him on it.  J promptly told everyone at the party that Justin Bieber was a no-talent has been and Jade could sing better than him.
  6. J determined the other day that she wanted a private rocket as well.  The reason for this rocket, I am informed was that she was going to get in it and pick up Taylor Swift whenever she wanted to and MAKE her sing to her.  When I told her that we couldn’t just kidnap people, she replied with, “Well Taylor Swift isn’t a kid.”  I had to explain to her that we couldn’t just interrupt people’s lives and make them do stuff for us.  She seemed genuinely perplexed. 
  7. J will respond to any work-like discipline with, “Well at least I helped.”  She has an amazing ability to find the positive in things…ALWAYS and even when inappropriate. 

J hasn’t always been so intense.  As a baby she was fairly easy-going.  She only got intense when it came to food.  She still wants to know every meal she is going to have from the time she wakes up to the time she goes to bed every day.  But other than food she could be put anywhere and would be content where you had her.  She enjoyed going and doing, so you could take her anywhere.  We hit a snag when she turned into a toddler.  She drove me to the end of my rope daily and although some of the stories I will share now seem funny, I didn’t see the humor back then.  Toddlerhood was when I first realized that she never wanted to sit still.  While I was asleep, she scaled the counters and the refrigerator and got the fabric glue…she then promptly glued herself and her blanket to the floor under the table in the dining room.  She sat still enough until her pants and blanket were adhered to the floor.  When I woke up, she was just hanging out under the table waiting for me to come rescue her.  This was in an apartment and that one move cost me the WHOLE deposit.  At her daycare, she had the miniature pottys that are toddler-sized.  She would wait until all the teachers were busy and go to the bathroom.  She would lift the seat and cram her butt down in the water to block up the hole.  She would then wedge the seat over her shoulders so she was stuck and would reach around and start flushing.  This would cause the toilet to overflow.  She managed to flood bathroom using this maneuver…twice.  She would also climb boxes and get in the breaker box and turn everything off leaving teachers tripping over themselves in the dark.  She ate things that shouldn’t be eaten and knocked little boys out of their chairs to take their food.  My things got destroyed.  Toddlerhood and childhood with her has been busy!  There were times when my anger would flair and I didn’t have enough patience to stay calm.  She was also loving so I always felt guilty when I lost it.  Those are not feelings you want to have a lot of…guilt and anger.  I just wasn’t prepared for the energy and willpower that was Jade.  I wasn’t prepared for the messes and the defiance.  She would get disciplined and her attitude as a toddler was give me more!

Flash forward to today with a 4 month old.  I am terrified…R can be fussy.  She will scream with rage if we don’t respond to her promptly.  She gets furious.  I am talking about scream so hard that veins bulge on the side of her head.  She is already showing signs of being stubborn and likes to have things her way.  I don’t know which of her parents she gets that from.  Ha!  We watched a documentary while I was pregnant with her about badgers and saw a part where a badger chased a big ass bear off.  The bear didn’t want no part of that badger.  In the womb R didn’t want anyone messing with her.  She would move away from any attempt to touch or listen to her.  She would pull her limbs in if you touched her.  Even today she doesn’t want me massaging her and she gets furious if people try to mess with her too much.  She rages when put on her tummy for tummy time.  She doesn’t like to sit but loves to stand.  She likes her routine and wants us to follow that routine daily.  Woe be to you if you mess up her schedule.  Her daddy lovingly calls her the little badger.  She has badger attacks of epic proportions. 

J was so easygoing as a baby and quickly challenged me to my very limits in the toddler years.  I didn’t get to sit down and relax for what seemed like three years!  I felt like a horrible mother because I got angry so often.  Trust me, I wanted to be that peaceful, fun, wonderful, perfect mom you see in pictures.  R’s stubbornness is cute right now and we smile about it.  But my question is, how is her personality going to translate into the toddler years?  I can see the battles coming over shoes and rules!!!  So this is why I am scared. 

Oh Lord, give me patience.  For R’s sake I hope I gained some during my time in the trenches with J!  I certainly hope that they will one day look back and say I did a good job.  That is all I really want.