“Turn off my brain”

“Turn off my brain”

The first time our son said “Mommy can you help me turn off my brain” my heart felt like it weighed 1000lbs. I scooped him up and gave him a huge hug. We chatted for a bit and I introduced a few techniques to teach him how to stop the racing thoughts he was experiencing (more on this later).

Our son has always been a young one that thought things through or over thinks. I have had to have many conversations with him that his friends have just not asked. Saying things like “that will not happen” or “do not worry about that” just does not work.

Here is an example of something he has said:

I am giving him his snuggle before bed and he was about 5 years old. I was going out with a friend that evening. He says “what happens if you do not come home?” and I reply “I will”. Then he says “what if you do not?”. Knowing him I then said, “Your Daddy will take care of you”. You can imagine the next question, “what if something happens to Daddy?”.

Okay, time to pick up my heart off the floor and cancel my night out.

That would have been one solution. Instead, we talked about the plan of who would care for him if something happened to one or both of us. This helped him and he was able to go to sleep. Taking the time to process and not get frustrated was key in this situation.

It does seem like a number of these conversations come up at bedtime. I could be extremely frustrated by bedtime stalling but instead, I choose to see that bedtime is when he lays there and thinks. (This could be a family trait 🙂 )

 
So what do I do to help him??

Well, I have taught him some strategies to change his thought patterns. How do you do this with a child?

1. Hear what he has to say.

2. Be Empathetic: “that sounds scary”, “wow that is hard”, “that is a yucky thought”.

3. Offer comfort: “would you like a hug”.

4. Get him to think about something funny or guide him to happier thoughts.

5. Turn on a guided meditative story so he has something else to focus on.

6. Check in after a few minutes to let him know I am there

7. Move on

 
Some additional strategies:

1. Talk Time: Have a time you set aside each day for your child to discuss anything that is bothering them. We do this at supper.

2. Worry Box: your child can write down or draw (or have you write down) their worries and put the papers in a box.

3. Worry Dolls or Rocks: Give your child a small rock or doll to tell their worries too. Then the item gets placed in a safe place (under their pillow or and the dresser). The item takes the worries from the child.

4. Deep Breathing: “smell the flower and blow out the candle”.

5. Guided meditation: There are a number of good apps that can help you teach your child how to meditate or you can lead by example.

 

If you have a little thinker and would like more support feel free to join Parenting Foundations Membership or book a free 15-minute call to learn how you can work with Brenda from Parenting Foundations.

Tantrums on the go!

Tantrums on the go!

Traveling with young children is an amazing opportunity to create so many memories with your children. The most memorable memories for you may be when your child is throwing himself/herself down on the floor in the airport or screaming bloody murder of the plane! Unfortunately, these things do happen!

Toddlers are going through some major developmental changes, which can contribute, to their increased tantrums. At this stage of development, our little ones have discovered that they can do things themselves. They have gone from having things done for them, to trying to figure out how to do things themselves. During this learning period, children will often throw a number of tantrums out of frustration, exhaustion, hunger, worrying about what is happening next, etc.

 

So how can you deal with these behaviours while you are traveling?

 

There are basically two types of strategies that you can use. These strategies can be broken down into 2 different types of reactions. The reactions are as follows:

 
1. Proactive Reactions:

A proactive reaction is when you consciously choose to do things that may help with your child’s feelings that can stop your child’s need to tantrum to express his/her feelings.

Some examples of Proactive Reactions are:

  1. Having snacks ready at any given moment. “Hangry” is a real thing.
  2. Giving your child reminders of what is happening next. Warnings of when they will have to transfer on to the plane. A warning before preparing for take-off and landing so the seat is in the right position.
  3. Play for a minimum of 10 minutes with your child. This is child-directed play! This can happen on the plane, in the airport, on the bus, in a vehicle, and so on. The child led play adds to your child’s feeling of connection with you. This simple act has a powerful impact on your child’s day.
  4. Bringing a transitional object with them like a blanket or stuffy that provides comfort when you can’t.
  5. Keeping to a routine that is similar to home when possible. This simply means having meals, snacks, and naps in the same order that they occur at home. I fully expect that these meals, snacks, and naps may be happening on the fly!
2. Reactive Reactions:

A reactive reaction is what you do after the tantrum has occurred or while it is in progress.

Some examples of Reactive Reactions are:

  1. Distraction is a common tactic used. There is a time and a place to use this technique. In the middle of a crowded area or in an unsafe place like the water or in the street. With the distraction, you may find that your child has a few more tantrums before he/ she seems ready to move on. I used to carry a few toys in my purse or backpack that I could pull out and use in these moments. If you are willing a movie or tv show can be a great distraction on the plane.
  2. Giving your child a few minutes on his/her own to calm down and process the moment. I personally find that timeouts are not always effective when we are in a strange place. An alternative is to you time in which is where you go with your child when he/she is taking a break away from the activity where the tantrum occurred.
  3. Letting the tantrum happen and then offering comfort when it is done. This can be referred to as offering connection. Children will often tantrum when they feel that their connection with a loved one has been affected.

 

As with all things related to children, you will find that some strategies work really well for one child and not well for another child. With time and patience, you will discover what works best for your child. I wish you all the best traveling with your child!

Early Mornings Getting the Best of you??

Early Mornings Getting the Best of you??

This time of year I get a flood of inquiries about early morning wakings. If your child is waking up way before you are ready to wake up, know that you are not alone!

What is it about this time of year that causes this common theme?..any guesses??

The answer…the longest day of the year is fast approaching!! What??? With the longest day of the year comes a great deal of sunshine. That light creeps in really early which affects your child’s circadian rhythm (body’s internal clock). How do you fix this?

Blackout the light as much as possible. The light can creep in where you least expect it!

So your child has a very dark room and your child is still waking early. Now what??

Well with the increased daylight often comes increased outside activity. The outside activity can lead to your child getting tired a bit earlier. This can be an issue because the earlier bedtime can lead to your child being ready to wake up sooner.

If your child is not going to bed earlier your child may be getting overtired. A child that is overtired can also lead to early mornings.

It may seem like you are darned if you do and darned if you do not.

I would recommend that you bring your child’s bedtime 15 minutes earlier than usual which may still seem like your child is still wanting to go to bed a bit earlier. You can keep your child awake with mild activity and child-directed play.

If you are still experiencing the early mornings then send me a private message or post in the facebook group if you are a member of Parenting Foundations (Parenting Foundations Membership). If you are not a Parenting Foundations member then you can book a free 15-minute call.

 

Naps: When do I just give up!

Naps: When do I just give up!

“What do I do if my child just will not fall asleep?”…sound familiar. It should because it is a very common question.

Many families that I work with wonder what they should do if their child is simply refusing to nap. You would think that if your child is tired they would simply go to sleep; however, this is not the case for all babies. When this starts to happen there are a number of things to consider.

1. Are you offering a nap at the right time?

If your little one was sleeping fine and all of a sudden refuses to go for a nap when you offer it then it is time to either increase or decrease the time your child is awake from wake up to nap, I lovingly refer to this as wake time! (you may have heard me say this once or twice 🙂 )

Sleep Learning 101: Wake Time

Wake Times

2.  Are you in the process of reducing a sleep association?

If you are trying to make changes to your child’s sleep so you are offering sleep in a different manner. For example: reducing the feed to sleep association, rock to sleep association or sleeping on an adult. This takes time, persistence and consistency for improvement to be noticed. 

Sleep Learning 101: Sleep Prop

3. Developmental Milestone

If your child is in the midst of a developmental milestone they may struggle with going to sleep. The reason for the struggle going to sleep is that nap time seems to be when our little ones attempt to practice their new skill instead of going to sleep. Once your child has mastered the new sill they typically tend to go back to their regular sleeping skills.

So now you know why your child is refusing a nap but you are probably wondering…

What can I do? When do I give up? 

 

Typically I recommend that you continue to offer the nap. I would give your little one the chance to go to sleep by using the sleep teaching method of your choice for naps. 

So you have been trying for over 30 minutes, now what. Depending on your tolerance/frustration level. You can get your little one up and try again in 30 minutes or try for 1 hour and 15 minutes and see if your little one will fall to sleep.  If your little one has not fallen asleep at the end of the 1 hour 15 minutes then I would get your child up and try again in 30 minutes or go to an Emergency nap.

 

Emergency Nap?

 

You may be wondering what I mean by an emergency nap. An emergency nap is when you take your child for a walk in the stroller or for a drive in the car. Some families will place their child in a swing. I usually do not recommend the swing as this is often a sleep association the family is trying to remove. 

The reason for the emergency nap is that “sleep does beget sleep”. If your child is overtired your child’s nighttime sleep will be affected. An emergency nap is better than no nap. 

Using an emergency nap once or twice a week is okay. When you are sleep teaching you may find that you are going to emergency nap at least once a day. This will get better with time and consistency.

 

If you have any questions please feel free to comment on this post or send Parenting Foundations a Private message if you are a member of Parenting Foundations membership. Not a member yet? Click here for more information.

 

Parenting Styles: Conscious Parenting

Parenting Styles: Conscious Parenting

 

In recent years, there has been an overwhelming amount of information about how our parenting can impact our children. There are times when the information presented can make you feel like a failure as a parent. This feeling then affects your ability to parent.

I have had several families contact me to get clarity on all the different parenting styles. One style that is on the rise in the media and parenting networks is Conscious Parenting.

It is not uncommon for me to hear…”WTF is Conscious Parenting?”.

 

Conscious Parenting in a Nutshell

Conscious Parenting’s main focus is not the child. Say what??? You read that correctly. The main focus with this parenting style is the parent.

It took me a bit of time to wrap my head around the difference between positive parenting, mindful parenting and conscious parenting. The biggest takeaway I have had from my research and practice of the different methods is that they all focus on a positive approach to parenting.

Both positive parenting and mindful parenting focus on interacting with your child in a way that helps your child produce the positive behaviour because you are focused on molding your child’s behaviour using positive interaction or you are aware of (mindful) of your child’s needs.

Conscious parenting focuses on your feelings and the way you are dealing with certain behaviours. It takes the pressure off trying to fix your child and focuses on fixing your view or the way you handle a certain situation.

Tell Me More….

When you are parenting in a Conscious manner you are analyzing and reviewing how your feelings are gearing your reactions or the way you help your child with undesired behaviour.

You look for triggers. I am constantly asking myself..”is this my issue or his?”.

A great example of this is when he struggled with the beginning of grade 2. He would come home pretty upset and concerned that he was not going to be able to complete his work.

After much reflecting I realized I was not helping. My school based anxieties were preventing me from listening to him. All he needed was a safe place to vent and then he was fine but I dragged it out. I was trying to help him learn to write properly and it was becoming a battle. I backed off and listened. Helped when he asked for it and in time things got much better. He felt confident and flourished at school.

As a Sleep Consultant I have a number of parents that I work with that take it personally if their child is not sleeping well. I help parents reduce the stress they put on themselves to improve their child’s sleep and the work on things in a slow progressive manner. Even infants feed off their parents emotions. 

So to parent in a more conscious manner, it is important to work through your issues, identify ways that you can empower your child, set your child up with the tools needed to accomplish the desired behaviours and remove your emotions from the equation.

I actually find this style of parenting to be freeing and less exhausting. I can let way more things go and get the bottom of things way sooner. There is a lot of deep breathing going on.

Please feel free to reach out for support on how you may be able to parent in a more conscious manner.