Posts tagged Toddlers

The Best Toddler Distraction Tool EVER (Meltdown Support, Right Here)

Toddler tantrum

With children of every age, the key to supporting them through their emotions is to be able to identify when the emotion has processed enough that the child can move on.

To identify when the child is ready to move on, first allow the feeling in the first place (reflect, reflect, reflect).

Then, listen for tone to change – when the child’s expression shifts from a heartfelt cry to an “I’m stuck in this and need help out” sort of a whine, you know that you can stop reflecting and start helping your child to move on. 

For a young child, this usually means being distracted by something else (and forgetting about the little truck), and for an older child it may be just letting it go, or it may be getting started thinking on solving the problem.

And here it is! The best toddler distraction tool EVER…. is to describe something that interests the child in detail, because children around this age are fascinated by interesting language: “Look at the puppy’s fluffy black tail! It is waving back and forth! And his nose is all shiny and wet! Look, he is coming over here to lick you with his pink tongue…Let’s give him gentle touches by his soft ears.”

In general, for toddlers, choices, descriptions, and invitations to action are usually effective distractions.

Please comment below and share about your favourite toddler distraction tool, or best toddler distraction story! We’d love to hear.

And if you need more help with your particular toddler, let’s connect. If you’ve got a toddler, this is a great time to get yourself on track to being the parent you really want to be. I’d love to help! Call me to see if coaching might be a fit for you…. 403-607-1463…or take a look at my coaching packages here.

How to Handle Tantrums, Meltdowns, and General Unrest

mama holding children

When I was coaching one time, I asked the dad in the family what he did to express his feelings in a healthy way. He stared blankly at me as if to ask, “What feelings? Are parents allowed to have feelings?”

This is a very common theme amongst parents. We often think that in order to be “good” parents, we shouldn’t have feelings.

That is just plain not true. In fact, the worst thing you can do for your kids is to act like you don’t have feelings. How will they know how to express their feelings in a healthy way if you don’t provide a strong example for them?

Kids have big feelings. Parents do, too. Click <here> to find out how to support your kids when they are having big feelings, and how to set the example for them.

First, shift your perception. I prefer the word “meltdown” to “tantrum”. “Tantrum” implies anger, defiance, and disobedience, and inspires your opposition. “Meltdown” implies overwhelm, lack of control, and a need for help, and inspires your compassion. When your child is overwhelmed by big feelings, he or she needs your compassion, not your opposition.

Next, think ahead and set your child up for success. Meltdowns are caused by overwhelm, lack of control OR hunger, thirst, or tiredness. DON’T spend a whole day at the mall when you know that your child can’t handle it. DO bring along healthy snacks and drinks. Every child is different. Know your children and plan ahead to meet their needs.

No matter how much you plan ahead, most children will have meltdowns sometimes. It’s a normal and natural part of growing up. To support your child’s big feelings, no matter the age of the child, show them that you hear and understand them by reflecting what you see about their feelings, needs, and wants. For a toddler, use very simple language. For all ages, reflect tone and body language, too.

For a toddler: “Yes! You WANT that little truck!” (Stomp your foot.)

For your elementary child: “I hear you! You really are NOT in the mood for spaghetti AGAIN!” (Speak emphatically.)

For your teenager: “I get it! This whole situation is really, really frustrating for you.” (Reflect your teen’s tone.)

Then, KEEP LISTENING while your child talks or shows you his or her feelings. Your child may be kicking and screaming, but the more you reflect and listen, the shorter the meltdown will be. (Unless you have been shutting down feelings for a while – if so, reflecting will give your child permission to let it ALLLL out, and meltdowns may get worse before they get better.)

At another time, when your child is NOT melting down, clarify which behaviours are okay with big feelings, and which aren’t. (These will likely be different at home or when out.) During the meltdown, if your child is doing things that are unacceptable, firmly repeat, “You CAN stomp feet, yell, jump up and down, punch pillows, run around, or growl when you’re upset.” With smaller children, give fewer options to keep it simple.

Then manage the situation to prevent the unacceptable behaviour (ie put away things your child is breaking, lovingly hold the child so they cannot hit their sister, take a loud child outside if they are disrupting the restaurant).

Lastly, help your child say what they need to say. “You CAN say, ‘I did NOT like that ONE BIT!!!'” or “You CAN say, ‘I need you to be fair when you play games with me!!'”

And, all the time, set the example. If you’ve been yelling AT your children or expressing your feelings in an aggressive or unacceptable way when you’re upset, instead growl and stomp around, do the “mad dance”, or otherwise release your energy harmlessly into the Universe, then come back into conversation with your child when you’ve gotten it all out and are able to be respectful.

YES, mom and dad! You CAN stomp around, yell, jump up and down, punch pillows, run around, or growl when you’re upset! Just don’t direct negative energy AT anyone or at breakable things. What’s acceptable in every home is different, but I encourage you to broaden your idea of what is acceptable behaviour to express emotions.

As your next step, if you need extra support, give me a call and let’s set up some coaching time – I’d love to help you to stay connected with your kids, and to help you to help them thrive in today’s rapidly changing world. Enjoy, and please comment below about how YOU help your children through tantrums, meltdowns, and general unrest…I love to hear from you!



Sleep – What to Expect & Do 2 Year-Olds ‘Need’ Naps?

Baby Sleep

A very key piece of supporting your baby’s sleep is knowing what to expect. Remember how I said in my last sleep blog post that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for sleep?

There is also no “right” sleep pattern.

I received a text from a friend today, asking “Do 2-year-olds ‘need’ naps?” This question always makes me think of Spain. In Spain, still now, many grown-ups do still take an afternoon nap. It makes me wonder if their parents ever asked, while they were growing up, if their 2-year-old needed a nap! They’d have assumed they did. So the answer to the question is cultural, but, I believe, also individual.

I answered my friend’s question like this: “Depends on the 2 year-old! Some absolutely do and some definitely do NOT. It’s okay to have naps only when he seems to need one. He’ll probably be up till ten on the nights he has naps – that’s okay, too.” In my experience doing baby and toddler sleep coaching and consults, and offering baby sleep classes to hundreds of parents in Calgary, I’ve figured out for sure that every child is different.

If texting were as easy as emailing, I’d probably have added that the family’s rhythm matters, too. It may work better for the 2-year-old to stay up late some nights so that he can spend some time with his working mom every evening. It may work better for him to skip naps so that he’s in bed early and mom and dad can have some me-time or together-time.

Similarly, your baby may take shorter or longer naps, and may sleep shorter or longer cycles at night. She may need to pee twice every night until she’s 2, or she may be done with night-time pottying at one year, and have a dry diaper and sleep right through every night. Your baby may sleep a total of 11 hours every day, happily, healthily, and with tonnes of energy, while the books all say babies of your child’s age need 12 hours of sleep. (I personally believe that children who are less stressed need less sleep than average. Common sense, right?)

As you figure out your babe’s natural sleep rhythms, you will eventually also learn how to support your baby in adjusting to the family’s schedule, and you’ll learn how to work with your baby to create sleep habits that work for everyone. Maybe pushing through the morning nap by having a relaxing bath instead creates a 3-hour afternoon nap on some days so that you can get more work done in a stretch, or so that you can pick up big brother from preschool and picnic with baby, then have one-on-one time with brother while baby naps. On the other hand (it’s individual, right?) maybe pushing through the morning nap messes up your baby’s sleep for a week, and causes havoc for everyone in the house, day and night. In that case, it may be worth it to have a friend pick big brother up from school and zip him home for one-on-one time with you in the yard while baby has an 11-1 o’clock nap.

If you are having a difficult time with sleep, don’t rush the adjusting. First establish your baby’s natural rhythms, and stick with them as much as possible. Once your baby is good at sleeping, then you can gradually work with how and when and where.

So the question of knowing what to expect is really about NOT expecting that your child will necessarily fit into a pattern that other babies fit into. Every one of us is different, and your job is to observe, respond and be creative about finding ways to meet your baby’s needs, your needs, and your family’s needs.

This is the second in a series of 4 posts that will help you support your little one (and yourself!) to sleep better. I’ll be covering some key pieces of each of my Three Keys to Night-time Parenting (Know What to Expect and Choose Your Attitude in Advance, Help Baby Sleep Better, and Take Care of Yourself). When all three keys are addressed, sleep improves for everyone.

This second post is focused on one aspect of knowing what to expect, so that you can relax and respond to your baby without worrying if he or she is following the “right” sleep pattern.

If you need more help with sleep, I’d love to invite you to check out Get Sleep Now: Gentle Sleep Solutions for Baby & You. Get Sleep Now baby sleep classes in Calgary will support you with gentle, responsive sleep solutions, to help your whole family sleep better. I will never advise that you leave your baby to “cry it out” alone, and “Get Sleep Now!” will walk you through how to plan and implement a sleep strategy that will support your baby, and you!

Sleep coaching is also available in-home, by phone, or by Skype. I’d love to connect with you! Give me a call at 403-607-1463, or connect with me through the “Contact Us” tab.

Helping Your Baby to Sleep Better

Sleeping Baby

There are two ways for your baby to learn to sleep better – you can force him to learn, or you can help him to learn.  The first way, forcing the learning, sometimes appears to “work” in the short-term, but often results in sleep regressions later on, and is associated with a myriad of later issues in adults, including trust issues, sleep issues, physical illness, and depression.

I can say for certain, based on offering baby sleep classes in Calgary to hundreds of families, and doing baby sleep coaching in hundreds of homes, that the good news is that there are lots of ways to achieve the end result – good sleep for everyone, in a more gradual and healthy way.

We learn to fall asleep in a variety of different ways, and when a person connects falling asleep with a certain song, touch, sound, activity or object, that is called a sleep association.  One of the key elements of helping your baby learn to sleep better is helping them to develop new sleep associations, and gradually replacing their current sleep associations with the new ones.

Some sleep associations are easier on parents than others.  For example, if your child’s only sleep association is carrying and rocking, and she wakes up 3 or 4 times a night, you are going to have some long nights.  But if your child has strong sleep associations with patting and sighing (TIP: when you’re exhausted, a loud sigh or exhale is the easiest possible sound you can make), a 2 am wake-up will have a lesser effect on you – you can have your baby sleep nearby (in a sidecar crib for example) or even (gasp!) in your bed, and pat and sigh until he or she falls back to sleep.

Please remember that I am not recommending any particular sleeping arrangement.  Every family is different, and children’s sleep can be improved regardless of where they are sleeping.  Depending on what your ideal situation looks like, and your babe’s natural preferences, you can work together to move towards solutions that work for everyone.  As you are making the transition to better sleep, I recommend considering your sleeping arrangements to support a gentle transition for everyone.  (**If you choose to co-sleep/share a bed with your baby, please be sure to follow all safe co-sleeping guidelines.)

Most babies fall BACK to sleep most easily the way they fell asleep in the first place, so integrating in a new sleep association during the bedtime routine can have a very powerful effect on shortening and reducing middle of the night wake-ups.

Sleep work is detective work.  First you need to figure out WHY baby is sleeping how she is, then you need to find ways to support her to develop new sleeping patterns, WHILE taking care of yourself.  There are so many elements to this in our culture today, and if you’re having sleep issues in your home, go here for all of our baby sleep support services, including consults and sleep coaching or check out our baby sleep classes in Calgary, Get Sleep Now: Gentle Sleep Support for Baby & You.

Please go below and share the gentle sleep tips that have made a difference in your family!
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