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!
If you are like me, you are starting to get invitations to Birthday parties for kids as young as 1 or 2. A trend in this neck of the woods is that most parents write “no gifts. Just come enjoy!” on the invitation. Boy did I mess that one up the first time around. I got to the party and apparently everyone but me knew they should still bring a gift. whoops!
In talking with friends, I think most parents write “no gifts” because their living rooms and play rooms are already bursting at the seams with gifts from family members. So, they are really trying to say, “Please don’t get me something that I am going to start storing on my kitching table because that’s the only place left with space!”
So, now I come prepared with what I think is a good compromise. I bring a batch of home-made bubbles and play dough, with the recipe included. Parents seem to love this. It’s useful and something every child will enjoy…and yet, it can also be thrown away guilt free when they are done playing with it. Completely sustainable!:-) Here is the bubble and play dough recipe that I love (below). They come from my post on activities to do with a 1-year old, so I think they could make a great gift for any 1, 2, or even 3-year old. Hope you enjoy! Would love to hear if you have a favorite gift to buy/make for friends’ children.
BEST HOMEMADE BUBBLES RECIPE (http://artfulparent.com/2014/04/how-to-make-homemade-bubbles.html)
- 4 cups warm water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup Dawn dish soap
- Whisk the sugar into the warm water until the sugar dissolves.
- Add the dish soap and whisk to combine.
- Blow bubbles with your new bubble solution!
Best Homemade Playdough Recipe (http://welovebeingmoms.blogspot.com/2013/05/10-homemade-play-dough-recipes.html)
1 C Flour
1 C Water
1/4 C Salt
1 T Vegetable Oil
2 t Cream of Tarter
Food Coloring (4 drops)
Sauce Pan and Wooden Spoon
Directions (Cook all ingredients over stove)
1- Pour all ingredients (order does not matter) into sauce pan.
2- Stir until everything is mixed well.
3- Once the mixture is mostly clump free heat over medium heat.
4- Stir and keep stirring, after a few minutes it will start to clump up.
5- Stir until one big clump is formed and remove from heat.
6- Knead by hand
So…… we tried to start potty training. I had been convinced by others that 20 months was too early (and the summer schedule was so busy, there wasn’t a convenient time anyway). But now Chunky Monkey is 23 months and I have started to see so many other children around me (around age 2), who were starting to use the potty. So, I thought, “I must not be too crazy to think about trying”. Right?
Well…..like everything else with our son, it has not been a text book experience. With tummy time, crawling, walking, eating…and now peeing/pooping – it seems my son doesn’t ever fit the mold of what has worked for so many others. Countless moms and dads have told me that if you try a 3-day sort of Potty boot camp, the child will figure it out. Well, I’m here to say that on day 4….my child is nowhere close to figuring it out.
We have had minor successes, so I’m not giving up completely. But I am frustrated that the well-meaning promises from experienced parents who said, “It will totally work!” have not come to fruition in this household. And believe me – we tried so many things that Pinterest promised me would work! We used a star chart, prizes, candy (which he never gets), a “potty party” for him and his dog, an Elmo potty video…and the list goes on. We celebrated every fake time his dog took a poop or pee in the potty (using a small snickers as fake poo was fun!), and did countless celebratory dances when he got even a drop of pee in the potty. Really all we could get was for him to stand on the seat of the potty with pee dripping out of his underwear that he insisted he keep on. And yes – we celebrated. I’m exhausted! This has felt like the longest 4 days of my life.
All I can say is that it seems like this child is really teaching me a lot about how to let go of my expectations and be willing to be patient with his unique process of adjusting or learning new things. Today I found an awesome video on toilet learning from the Montessori perspective. I’m past their 18 month suggested time frame, but I did appreciate the reminder that children will learn in their own time, and that it is a process. Even if they are just doing part of the process, it is a step in the right direction.:-)