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.
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:
- Having snacks ready at any given moment. “Hangry” is a real thing.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bringing a transitional object with them like a blanket or stuffy that provides comfort when you can’t.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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.