In the past month my little wonderful two year-old has been more two than wonderful. Having a new little sister arrive has undoubtedly been influencing some of his behaviors, but I also think he has just hit a stage of development were he has a deep need for lots of large motor movement. After I had a couple rough days in a row with him, I spent an evening trying to “get curious, not furious” (as a mentor of mine, John Sommers-Flannagan, once said).
I do this often with my son when I feel like we have come to a “stuck” place in our relationship (or in my parenting). It’s about reflecting and trying to think through what common factors seems to be related to the troubled situations, and what I haven’t tried yet. In this case, I started realizing that my son’s challenging behavior was coming on the heels of 1 week sick (& stuck in the house sitting on the couch a lot), and another week of rain (again stuck in the house a lot).
So, we decided to have as much outside and large motor movement activities as possible for the next few days to see if it impacted his behavior. It did!
We took an afternoon to throw rocks in the river, search for bugs, and chase dogs that were nearby. It was a blast! AND, he was his best version of himself that afternoon and evening. So… this was a great reminder for me that kids this age NEED lots of time to move. We will be continuing to make room for as much outside time as possible!
Well, it’s been a long time since I have written a post. Here is why!
In March we welcomed baby #2 into our family. Little Eva has already stolen our hearts. She came into this world at 1pm on a Saturday – giving Dad a full weekend to enjoy her before he had to go back to work. Thank you Eva!
Life with a 2 year-old and 2 month-old is quite a whirl wind of exhaustion, patience-testing, and joy….all at the same time. The first month was particularly challenging as I faced those days and nights that feel like they will never end. I called my brother and sister crying, begging for some magical secret on how to get my newborn to sleep. I was T-I-R-E-D!
At 2 months of age, she is now waking up only 2 times a night (on average), and has had a few nights of sleeping 6 hours or more in a row. Those nights are much appreciated by mama. Keep it up Eva.;-)
As for the 2 year old. Well….. we have seen better days. He is definitely beginning to show the signs of jealousy that he has to share his mom and dad with this new little person. Outwardly, he couldn’t be sweeter with Eva. He wants to hug and kiss her every chance he gets. Inwardly, though, he is obviously struggling because his behaviors have really turned very challenging. It feels like he is pushing every boundary that is set – again and again and again x 2,000. Trying to use all my Positive Discipline tools while exhausted from sleep deprivation is not always pretty. I must admit, I have had my most challenging moments in parenting yet. I have said things I am NOT proud of, and disciplined WITHOUT kindness.
Why am I sharing that? Well, I am betting that a lot of parents can related. In my parent coaching, I have always told parents that it is our job to try to be “good enough” parents – not perfect parents. I have defined that by saying “If you are remembering 20% of the parenting tips you have learned 80% of the time…you are doing great”. Well, now I have to swallow my own medicine and forgive myself for the 20% mess-up moments. I have been living them lately BIG time. But I do believe in the idea that mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn. So, here’s to a lot more learning!:-)
With toddlers (children under 3), Distract and Redirect is one of the most powerful parenting tools you can use!
Children at this young age are often interested in doing things that they can’t really do appropriately. Ie. They want to touch baby sister, but even when you show them 3 times how to do so gently, they might still slam their hand down over baby’s face. Taking time to teach the appropriate skill is important (ie. “Here is how we can touch sister gently…” – and show them and guide their hand to do it gently). However, some children at this age might not have the muscle control or self-control to be able to follow through appropriately. There is so much still developing in their little neurons that they may not fully understand the speed and location of their touching sister is not the same as when mom demonstrated. In this case, after a few tries, it is totally okay to distract the child and redirect them to another activity that they can do appropriately. This might mean redirecting to a toy, an activity, or a different way to interact with sister: “Hey, could you bring over that toy for sister?” All are effective ways to use distract & redirect with a toddler. It’s also the perfect alternative for using “No” too often. Instead of “no”, you can just focus on distracting and redirecting the child to what they CAN do. I will write some more on this soon because it’s been on my mind a lot lately.
Read more about this great parenting tool: Distraction & Redirection here. Cheers to your happy toddler parenting!