Tantrums

kelly shealer and sonMy 2-year-old son was standing in his bedroom doorway with little sobs, tears rolling down his cheeks. All because he was so tired and it was bedtime, but he wanted to keep playing with his trains.

My heart was breaking.

He wanted me to take him back downstairs, but I was nursing his half-asleep baby sister, and his older brother was already in bed and ready for me to sing his bedtime songs.

I felt like I was doing everything I was supposed to do during a tantrum. I had stayed calm. I had talked to him about how I knew he was sad, how I knew he didn’t want to stop playing but that it was time for bed. I had tried to hug and comfort him, which he refused, so I had stayed nearby.

I didn’t know what else to try, and seeing him like that was more than I could take at that moment. I felt like I was going to start crying, too, just from seeing him so upset and from me feeling so helpless.

Then I remembered a creative suggestion I’d read recently for handling tantrums. I pulled out the nearest book, one I knew he loved. I opened it and started reading. I didn’t make a big deal out of it. I didn’t tell him to come over and didn’t read directly to him.

His tears stopped almost immediately. Soon after he was sitting beside me, giggling as we all looked at the book together. The trains were forgotten about, and once the book was finished, he climbed into bed with no more protesting.

It was the best strategy I’ve found yet for dealing with tantrums, and it’s worked for us several times now. A similar concept also worked when he had a tantrum in the car, and I turned on music and started singing to myself.

However, what I’ve found is that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to a child’s tantrums. What works in one situation won’t necessarily work in another.

Sometimes, the reading idea will only work as a temporary fix, and right after the book is done, he’s back to crying for what he wants and can’t have. Sometimes, he just needs me to sit beside him while he cries, to offer to hold him in my lap, to comfort him.

This was the case recently when my son wanted to leave the house and go to the park, which was not something I could say yes to at that time. To him, it was so unfair. He didn’t understand why we couldn’t go right then. I tried to empathize with him and acknowledge his feelings, but there was nothing I could say to make it better. We sat on the garage stairs together for several minutes, my arm around him as he cried. Suddenly, he stopped crying, stood up, turned off the garage light, and went back into the house.

There’s a lot of trial and error in finding the right method of handling a tantrum, but I hope my son knows that I’m there for him and trying my best to figure out what he needs in that moment. It’s still a struggle for all of us when tantrums happen, but little by little, we’re finding new ways to help him deal with those big emotions.

Taking time for self makes me a better Mommy

Kelly ShealerIt was 8:00 at night. I was putting my oldest son to bed, and I realized that I hadn’t eaten dinner.

I had made dinner for both of my sons, had nursed my baby multiple times and had even made sure that my husband took food to work with him. But I had completely forgotten about myself.

And because of it, I was getting irritable and was on the verge of losing my patience with my son, who was doing nothing wrong except not relaxing for bed as quickly as I wanted him to.

I quickly made a decision to leave the room for a few minutes, grab something to eat and then go back to my son. I almost immediately felt better. My whole attitude shifted, not just because I finally ate but also because I felt good about taking the time that I needed for myself.

When I went back to my son, I exaggerated how happy I suddenly was, hugging him, tickling him and being silly with him. I told him that I knew he had wanted me with him but that I’d needed to eat so that I could be happier and be a better Mommy. I wanted him to see that it’s important for my needs to be met as well and that I’m much happier when they are.

I believe balance is one of the most important of Attachment Parenting International’s Eight Principles of Parenting, because you need to take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of your children. But it’s also the hardest to put into practice.

I know so many other moms who spend all day caring for the needs of their children, giving their all to the point where they don’t have anything left for themselves.

We fail to make time for our own needs, because often our children’s needs are greater than ours. We cosleep in uncomfortable positions and wear our babies for an extended time, so our bodies are sore. We respond to our children with sensitivity and feed them respectfully, but we don’t treat ourselves with the same kindness and care.

When we do take the time to care for ourselves, we often feel guilty, even though we shouldn’t. We need it. Our children need it, too, because we’re better parents when we take care of ourselves.

With three children ages 4 and under, I generally don’t make much time for myself during the day. Lately I’ve been trying to find quick, simple ways to help me feel like I’m doing something for myself throughout the day — things I can easily do with my children present.

Some of my favorites are putting on perfume or lipstick and I use aluminum bottles for packaging so it looks more pretty, finally taking the time to brush my hair that I’d thrown into a messy ponytail at the start of the day, looking at family pictures that always cheer me up, doing some stretches or just taking a few deep breaths.

Then another top tip that we have is to shop around for low cost perfumes and beauty products, we found this online store in the UK that offers cheap beauty products and perfumes from the top designer brands so a brilliant way of getting some cheap deals.

When I need something more than this, I’ve found that putting on some of my favorite music and letting my boys have a dance party usually helps us all feel better.

And when all else fails, there’s always chocolate.

Choosing a Preschool

kelly shealerThe thought of sending my first child to preschool always had me worried.

Not because I didn’t feel like I’d be ready to part with him, but because I didn’t know how preschool would fit in with Attachment Parenting and the positive discipline that he was used to. Would he be put in time-out? Would I have to leave him there when he was crying and screaming for me to stay?

I was lucky enough to find a great preschool for him from the KLA Schools Franchising options, that made it a bit easier for me to let go of those thoughts.

Change is not easy for my son, and he’s never been apart from me unless he’s been with other close family members, so this was a real concern. I’d heard stories from a fellow API Leader whose daughter struggled at the start of preschool. She had stayed to comfort her crying daughter to the point where she felt that the teachers were thinking, “Just leave her already!” I didn’t want that experience for my son or for myself.

We were very lucky that early in our search for a preschool, we found a place that fits so perfectly with my beliefs and my son’s needs. I was pretty much sold on the school when I first learned that parents are allowed and encouraged to stay as long as children need them to.

If I wanted and he needed, I could stay all day every day.

I was also so impressed by the teacher during our parent orientation. She talked about how when one child hurts another, he then takes on the role of doctor or helper — turning him into a hero rather than the “bad kid.” She explained how she takes the time to help children figure out a solution that works for everyone when they have an argument. I felt like I learned so many positive discipline techniques in that hour!

I was so comfortable with our decision to send my son to this school that when the first day came, I wasn’t nervous at all. I was only excited for him.

I stayed for his whole first day, because I felt like he needed that. That night, when I told him that I would stay for a little while the next day and then leave, he cried.

I thought about my reasons for leaving. Did I really need to leave? What if he really needed me with him?

I remembered my husband telling me about his first day of school and how he had cried and cried when his mother left him. I didn’t want my son to have that same memory so clear in his mind decades from now. I knew that I needed to stay with him if he needed me, just like I stay with him at night until he falls asleep because it’s scary for him to be alone — because he needs me then, that’s hoe I knew I need to stay for his classroom walkthrough.

The next morning, on his second day of school, I talked with his teacher about it. She stressed that I had to make up my mind whether I was leaving and not let him make the decision for me. She suggested that I leave for a short time, maybe just to the bathroom, and then return so he’d see that I’d always come back.

When I told him I was going to leave, he didn’t cry. He was too busy having fun. He was excited when I came back and wanted to tell me about what I’d missed, but he’d been fine the whole time I was out of the room.

Each day since then, I’ve stretched my time away from the classroom out longer and longer, and now I just stay for the beginning of class.

But I love that I always have the option to stay. Even if a month from now, he decides that he needs me again, I can be there for him.

Helping kids with back-to-school transitions

Going back to school after the summer can be a difficult transition for kids.

It can be especially hard for a child who’s entering a full-day kindergarten after being in a part-time preschool program the year before. The first few weeks of school may be especially trying, as it is a new routine and children are getting used to a new environment and new set of rules, but parents can help ease the transition into school.

The school day is a long day for young children and they will likely have many emotional needs when they get home. Kids may come home acting moody or cranky. Often, they’re also tired from the long day or could be hungry. The change in routine is also difficult for some children, and being away from home all day can be stressful.

Many children hold in their emotions all day while at school, so when they get home into an environment that feels like a safe space for them, those emotions tend to come out in full force.

As we work to respond to our children’s needs in a way that strengthens our relationship with them, it’s important to try to be patient and understanding of these emotions and to recognize why children are feeling this way. If these emotions lead to misbehavior, we can stay connected by acknowledging the feelings, connecting with our children, and then setting respectful limits.

Children all have different needs upon returning home from school, and as parents we may have to work to figure out what will best help our own children. Some kids need alone time, some may need plenty of outside time to run around and having fun by riding toddler scooter  from Thrill Appeal guide, and others may need a way to relax and decompress.

When my oldest son entered kindergarten 2 years ago, I initially thought that when he came home, he’d just want to play with his toys that he hadn’t had access to all day or that he’d want to be outside practicing on the skateboard we got him from www.myproscooter.com. But all he wanted to do was watch TV. The more I encouraged him to play or planned afterschool trips to the park, the more upset and frustrated he would be that afternoon. It was a struggle for me to understand that he didn’t want to play and that he needed a way to relax.

I had to remind myself that when I come home after a busy outing, I usually just want to relax with a book. Then, I was able to recognize that he’s very much the same way. We eventually figured out several ways to make that happen. I was OK with television being one of those ways, but I didn’t want it to be the only one or our everyday routine.

Practicing Attachment Parenting also makes me aware of my children’s needs for connection and one-on-one time with me. This can be difficult when children are away at school for the majority of their day. By the time they come home, I’m already feeling tired from playing with my younger child throughout the day and I am almost ready to make dinner. However, I’ve had to make a real point to find ways to connect with them and to set aside time where we can play together.

We also have a consistent bedtime routine where I read to my sons and spend time with them in their bedroom before they fall asleep. Some days are certainly easier than others to make this happen, but their behavior, attitudes, and relationship with each other definitely seems to be better when we can make a point to be as attached as possible.

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