Power No-Struggles

Right on schedule, around his second birthday, my son began practicing the word No. I read that kids use no as a way to individuate and to experiment with their personal power. The more attached they are, the more they need to individuate. Well, we were mighty attached because he started saying No frequently. I wasn’t used to our having such different agendas. If I ever felt myself getting frustrated or impatient, I would play Yes No. He would say, “No” and I would shake my head while also saying “No.” Then I would say, “Yes” and nod vigorously. We’d go back and forth until we were distracted from our original difference of opinion and were just playing a game.

Now, we play Yes No without ever having had a conflict to begin with. Cavanaugh looks at me and starts shaking his head. I shake mine. He starts nodding. I nod too. It’s fun, looking into each others’ eyes to watch for a direction shift, mimicking each other and taking turns leading the nod/shake action. Cavanaugh often initiates the game on days when we’ve been busy with activities and haven’t had a lot of alone quiet time with each other. It allows us to reconnect and having Yes No in reserve for those times when I feel us getting into a power struggle is a nice tool too.

Besides Yes No, we play variations of Kisses. A couple of months ago, Cavanaugh started refusing my kisses or I would give him a kiss and he’d wipe it off his cheek, “No kisses, Mama.” It turned out the kisses weren’t actually a problem for him; he liked getting them. He was just experimenting with body boundaries and whether he could say Stop or Go and have me follow his lead. So, I’d stop kissing his cheek and then he’d say, “More” and I’d kiss him some more. He giggled liked crazy and our original game has turned into Kiss Variations. Eskimo kisses with nose rubs turned to cheeks against each other, or chins. All of it accomplishes the same goal though: much fun and laughter, a lot of nurturing touch, and Cavanaugh getting to set boundaries and experiment with his personal power.

At an age when I was led to believe we’d be fighting or I’d be trying to hide my embarrassment during a two-year-olds tantrum at the store, both of us are experimenting with setting limits. Do you have any suggestions for dealing with the power struggles that inevitably come up between parents and toddlers?

Sonya Feher is a writer and mama living in Austin, Texas. She blogs at http://mamatrue.com .

They Swam and They Swam All Over the Dam

As we finished putting dinner on the table tonight, my two-year old burst into hysterical tears. It was the kind of cry that happens when he’s injured or very scared. My best friend Jocelyn and her daughter are staying with us this week and they were in the dining room with Cavanaugh but neither of them had any idea what had happened. Jocelyn held Cavanaugh while he sobbed and when he’d finished crying, he wanted to draw. I asked if he’d hit his head or if he’d slipped trying to get up in his chair, but he only hugged me tighter. He refused to sit at the dining table with us. We brought one of his little tables and a chair into the dining room and he drew while my husband sat across from him and offered him food. Cavanaugh wouldn’t eat.

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Weaning in the Context of AP

My son Cavanaugh is a little over two now and we recently embarked on night weaning. Night weaning then researching weaning for our API meeting last month got me thinking about breastfeeding in the Attachment Parenting  community. So many of the AP mamas I know were planning on child-led weaning and many of them are changing their minds as their kids move further into toddlerhood. But a lot of us have mixed feelings about weaning, whether we decide to partially, gradually, or abruptly wean or to nurse as long as our kids feel like they need it.

So here’s how I’ve been thinking about weaning in relation to the Eight Principles of API

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The Gift of a Day

My birthday is three days before Christmas. My husband took the day off of work and my mom said she’d help with whatever I needed so it could be my day. Even with those generous offers, I’ve had a very hard time figuring out how I’d like to spend my time. I don’t want to go shopping or out to dinner. I couldn’t even decide if I wanted a cake.

Figuring out what I wanted to do for me was challenging, I think, because I spend most of my days looking after people I love. The ubiquitous warnings about how your life changes when you have a child, how you should go to the movies or grown-up restaurants didn’t prepare me for the utter transition of self that comes with becoming a mama, especially an AP mama. For my last two birthdays, I couldn’t imagine wanting to be away from my son. The best way I could spend my birthdays was being with a person I had birthed into the world, but he just turned two and I feel differently this year. Continue reading “The Gift of a Day”

Gratitude and Rest

My husband and I have been trying to figure out what to do for Thanksgiving this year. We’re feeling exhausted from work, house and garden projects, my mom moving to town. Having a big Thanksgiving event just seems like another project, one we wouldn’t necessarily feel thankful for.

When I was pregnant, Mike and I talked about what holiday traditions we’d grown up with and what we wanted to create or continue for our son. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I love the time in the kitchen, eating and serving food that I may only make on that day of the year.
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