Self-Regulation is a Parenting Skill

Imagine this (and some of you won’t need to imagine it, this will have been just like your day!)….

It’s 5pm, and you haven’t started dinner yet. In fact, you don’t even know what you are going to have for dinner, because you just remembered to take the mince out of the freezer at 4pm! Your toddler is getting cranky and really should be in the bath, but your 6 year old needs your help with listening to him read his school reader. The cat is circling you waiting for it’s dinner. The phone rings and you have a headache. Now if that was your day, then you may well want to scream, to pass the kids over to hubby when he gets home, or to run away. Our impulse is to go away. The reality is that we can’t do that, and we know that somehow we will muddle our way through it. We’ll decide that the toddler needs bed more than a bath, that toast is dinner tonight, and that headache pills come before the cats miaowing. We know we will get through it, because we have succeeded before, and we’ve learnt some skills along the way – thank goodness!

We weren’t born knowing how to do that – how to regulate our emotions and systematically work through the tasks in a priority, skillful manner. It is a learnt skill.

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Two young children playing in the creek

Developing a Curious Child

“Oh he’s into everything” complains a Mother. “She’s always pulling things apart”, states a Dad. It’s always said to me like a complaint, as if it’s a bad thing to have a curious child!

Curious children are GREAT – it means their developing brain is seeking to understand, to know how and why things work (or don’t work), to understand ‘what happens if I do xyz…..’ and does the same thing happen if I do it twice, or 12 times? A curious child is the result of a learning brain, and that’s a GREAT thing! People who are curious are the ones who become explorers, researchers, musical composers or inventors. This may be in any field of science, music, the environment, the arts etc Or it may be in the social world, or understanding how people interact or communicate – so many possibilities!

How do we assist the growth of curiosity in our developing children?

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Image of a nice kids bed in a neat room

When Do I Move my Toddler into a Bed?

This is a question many parents wonder about. There is no ‘right’ time to move them into a bed, and your decision may be based on a variety of things….

  • You may have a new baby arriving and know that they will only sleep in a bassinet for the first few months;
  • You may be concerned that your toddler is attempting to climb out of their cot;
  • The toddler may be indicating that they want a big bed like their sister/ brother/ cousin, or
  • You may be renovating and want to include the child’s bedroom in that.

There are many reasons ‘why’ you might want to move them. From a safety point of view, they can stay in the cot until they are getting too big for it, or until they start to climb out – as then they may be at risk of falling or injury.

Whatever your reason for moving them, here are a few suggestions to make the transition easier:

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Every day when I spend time with you, my life gets better and better.

Yesterday as I was walking along the street in the mall area, I was walking near a Mother and her daughter aged about 4. They were holding hands, and the Mum looked at the little girl and said: “Every day when I spend time with you, my life gets better and better.” The daughter beamed a big smile to her Mum.

 

I said to the mother: “What a beautiful thing you just said to her – it’s such a positive message.’ And the Mum beamed back to me.

 

There are two things which are truly wonderful about the happening…..

 

The first is that the mother clearly cares deeply about her daughter and is taking steps to ensure that the daughter knows she is loved and valued, on a regularly basis. She told her daughter that this continues to happen each and every day – giving her daughter the message that their love and connection will continue, and that it is an important thing. Read more

Child sitting on the floor, intently doing puzzle

What are the best toys for children? One is…. Jigsaw Puzzles.

 

In my role as a Parenting Consultant, parents and grandparents often ask me about buying toys for their children or grandchildren. They want to know what are the ‘best’ ones. Obviously the age and ability of the child is a consideration, but 2 of my favourites are jigsaw puzzles and board games.

Puzzles can be introduced to toddlers around age one, with a toy which has balls to drop into a hole. This starts to teach them to hold an object, to position it, and then to let it drop through. The easiest shape to insert is a circle, as it will fit which ever way you hold it!

Next comes a shape sorter toy. You hold the container and let baby select a shape. Read more

Image by Woodley Wonder Works via Flickr

Music and Maths – an Unlikely Relationship?

This morning over breakfast I was listening to the radio, and was aware how the different pieces impacted on me – some more upbeat, some more gentle and calming. I don’t know about you, but I play different types of music for specific moods – if I’m feeling a bit ‘flat’ I put on something like “Pink”, and if I’m feeling hassled, I put on gentle classical music, or “Enya”. We can utilise this with children too – you can use music to enhance their moods, to help ‘lift’ them when needed, or to calm them at other times.

From an early age we use lullabies to soothe our babies, and often sing them to sleep – this is true whatever your cultural background. It’s the tone of your voice, which settles them. As they get older, they like things with a stronger beat – you’ll often see toddlers bopping to a beat. Toddlers also like nursery rhymes and songs, and will join in with the words and actions. Even a 1 year old will often wave their hands in the  air, to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

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Image by scjn via Flickr

How to help our children learn about consequences

What happens when you pay your electricity bill late? – you get one reminder, and then a late fee is applied if you still don’t comply.

What happens when you bring your wife a bunch of flowers? – she shows gratitude to you!

What happens when you don’t prop the ladder correctly before climbing up? – it wobbles, putting you in danger.

All of these are consequences of our actions. As adults we know what the consequences are, and we choose to comply, or not comply, knowing there will be consequences.

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Superman as a 3yr old

Superman is a 3 year old!

You know how Superman wears a disguise, as the ordinary Clark Kent?

Yesterday I saw Superman in another disguise – as a 3 year old boy!

I was in a department store, in a very long queue of people, waiting to make our purchases. Ahead of me was a Mum, with her 3 year old son (aka Superman). She had a large purchase, with a few smaller items sitting on top and was pushing it along in the line. Superman was looking at all the items which shops insist on putting just at children’s eye level – lollies, chocolates, drinks and small items. He picked various ones up and carefully replaced them.

Then, waiting in a long line became less appealing for him, and he started playing a game with the soft drink bottles – pushing them over, one at a time. Mum noticed and asked him to stop. He promptly decided to ignore her, and pushed another couple over. At this point Mum said: “If you don’t stop that, you can’t have this toy” (the one about to be purchased). He continued pushing them over, and she said: “Okay, no toy.” At this point Superman had a mini-tantrum, which stopped quickly when no-one took any notice. Great work Mum!
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Lessons-from-the-Beach

Lessons from the Beach

I had a mini-holiday recently, in a beautiful little seaside town. Daily I would walk to the beach, to absorb the sunshine and heat, as well as hear the sounds of the waves crashing, and the smell the scent of the sea and the bush surrounds.

On the beach were so many families from India, Asian, the Middle East and Anglos. There were Mums with kids, families with cousins & Grandparents, group of friends, surfers, and couples walking hand in hand.

What they all had in common, was a day of fun. There were so many smiles and the sound of laughter, and it was wonderful to participate in this event.

It made me reflect on all the amazing messages which were intentionally and unintentionally being shared with the children present.

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Image by ECOhen via Flickr

The Three Basic Truths about Parenting

1. If you are happy, your child is probably happy.

Have you ever noticed that when you are having a bad day – when the dog chews your new shoes, or it’s suddenly started to rain and you have almost dry clothes on the line or, you didn’t sleep well last night, and there’s no milk for your morning coffee – that this is the day your child seems to be really difficult – whinging a lot, accidentally spilling his drink, and crying because the puzzle piece won’t fit. Have you seen that correlation? It happens in the reverse too – when you’ve slept well, and the sun is shining and you managed to drink ½ a cup of hot coffee before you got distracted – that on these days, your children play happily with each other, they are more cuddly, and they use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ more often – have you noticed that?

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