When “I will be back” is not good enough

When “I will be back” is not good enough

 

Does this sound familiar…

You are super excited to go out. Your little one starts to scream when you are getting ready. You begin to doubt yourself. You start to think it would be so much easier to just stay home.

Or what about this…

Your child is enrolled in a program or class that it just for them. Your child was pretty excited about it. The day comes when the program happens. Your little one is refusing to get ready, crying as you are going out the door or starts to cry when you get there.

 

It can be so hard as a parent when your child is struggling with separating from you. I understand this completely!! Our young man has gone through struggles with separating from us, especially me. I honestly have shed many tears over this.

The fact is, it is very normal for children to experience separation anxiety.  

There are a few steps that will help your child with transitions and separation. The steps are as follows:

1. Allow your child to be upset.

We will often try to stop our child from being upset. If they are expressing their emotions we will ask them to stop crying. My belief is that the emotion is better out than in. Once your child is able to express their feelings it gives you an opportunity to figure out what is driving their behaviour.

2. Transitional Object

Giving your child a comfort object to keep with them. If your child already has a lovey this may work. I find that the best object is something of mine that my son really thinks I need. I used to give him my key ring and a business card. The key ring is something I always use. Whenever I came home or picked him up he would give it back to me.

Another really good item to use as a transitional object, especially for bedtime, is a piece of your clothing that has your scent on it. Our little man will go into my closet when I am not home at bedtime and help himself to a shirt of mine he wants to sleep with. He has even ended up with my pyjama bottoms on more than one occasion.

3. Keeping your emotions in check

This can be easier said than done. When your little one is struggling with the separation it can be heart-wrenching. It is not the end of the world if your child sees you cry; however, it is important for your child to see you express your emotion while you move forward with the plan.

4. Practice

This means that you keep going out or you continue to bring your child to the program. Over time the separation anxiety will reduce. If there are still issues than I would look at the program to make sure it is a good fit for your child. I would do this after 8 weeks. All behaviour can take up to 8 weeks to see a complete change.

5. Be Present

When you return to pick your child up or when you see your child after you return from your outing, make sure you pay attention to your child. Spend lots of time connecting and playing with your child.

 

As with all things parenting there is no one solution that is right for all children; however, these tips should help get you on your way. If you would like to have solutions that are suited for your particular situation, please book a free 15 minute consultation by clicking on this link.

If the separation anxiety is something that has been going on for a long time you may want to inform your child’s doctor and/or speak with a child psychologist. 

 

Bye for now,

Brenda

 

 

It’s Okay to be a Little Playful

It’s Okay to be a Little Playful

parenting foundationsWhat does it mean to be playful? Why is it important? Why does it matter? 

Well, here’s the thing. You don’t have to be playful. If you don’t want to be playful, you don’t need to be playful. But when you add a little bit of being playful into your life, and especially into your parenting world, you will find that your children are a little bit more compliant and the overall mood is happier.

 

Yes, you read that correctly, being playful can add more compliance to your child’s reactions. 

Why does being playful have such an impact??  They’re having fun!

Now, does this mean that you need to sit down and play with your child all day long? No, it doesn’t. 

There’s a difference between being playful and playing. 

Playing is when you’re physically getting down and playing with toys, playing a game, and/or doing crafts. 

Playful is when you are being a little silly, being a little goofy, you make something you want your child to do into a game, and/or something fun for your child to do. 

Children between the ages of two and about eight often respond really well to playfulness.  

Older children may roll their eyes but they like it too. I am still playful at times with our 10-year-old. There is a time and a place for it. Heck, there is even a place for it with our 27-year-old.

Okay. So how are you playful? What do you do? 

There are so many things you can do! Here is a list of some simple things I do:

Use a silly voice

Run and hide from your child, then pop out

Peek-a-boo

Make silly faces

Making silly noises

Hop like a bunny or walk like a bear

Drop a little joke

 

Here is a great example of being playful in action:

 

When our youngest comes out of the school and he is super serious looking or has that look of defeat on his face, I will turn and run away. 🙂

 

He then starts running after me. He will ask what I am doing and I will tell him “I am running away from you”!  By this time, he’s laughing a little bit, he’s able to take life less seriously. And then we can actually talk about what’s going on. 

 

Another example is when our youngest was little (now I would not be able to move) I would ask him if he wants to use his feet or my feet to get to the bathroom. He usually choose my feet and then he would put his feet on mine. Then I would hold his hands and walk to the bathroom with his feet on top of mine.

Let’s face it there are many adults that can benefit from being a little playful. Sometimes it can be a lot of work for us, though. So take it with a grain of salt and do what you can. 

 

There’s a time and a place to be playful. There will be times when you need to be serious. 

 

Embrace being playful and bring a few extra laughs into your day!

 

Be the Parent You Want to Be,

Brenda

 

**Did you know that Parenting Support from Brenda McSween at Parenting Foundations is just a few clicks away? Monday to Friday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, I answer questions from parents via my membership website. Click here to learn more. Not interested in the membership, you can book a Mini Consult (1-hour call and 2 follow-up emails). Looking forward to speaking with you soon.

 

Routines and Schedules

Routines and Schedules

It is times like this that I want to go back to my past self and give myself a high five!! The routines we put in place when our son was 3 years old or younger are still in place with some minor changes through the years and they are still working well 7 years later!! Bliss I tell you!

A routine is a series of things we do before or after an event. A schedule is based on set times certain events occur.

Schedules and Routines both have their place.

I find that set schedules do not work as well with infants but having a variety of routines in place does work really well.

We have a screen time schedule here which works like a charm! Our son watches a show at about 8 am, 11 am (when he is home), and 4 pm. We do have to be a bit flexible but we put in this place we would focus hugely on watching his programs. Once the set times were in place the constant asking for a show came to a complete stop. My response is “yes you can at __ time”.  After staying consistent with this for a while he really took to it.

I often have parents ask why their child is so well-behaved at daycare or school and not as much at home. The first thing is that children will unload their feelings at home where they feel safe. The second thing is that there is a great deal of structure with routines and schedules so the children know what to expect.

I often recommend that parents maintain similar schedules and routines at home.

You may find that you continue certain routines from your childhood. It is really cool how routines and schedules can really help children feel safe, secure, and be willing to do the steps without even realizing it.

I have to admit that our morning routine is my favorite.

Morning routine:

  1. Come in and give mom a hug
  2. Bathroom
  3. Snuggles with Mom and/or Dad
  4. Get Dressed
  5. Start watching You-Tube (Pause when breakfast is ready)
  6. Eat Breakfast
  7. Call Grandma (does not happen as often – he sleeps in!)
  8. Brush Teeth
  9. Put on socks
  10. Finishing watching You-Tube while getting the outdoor gear on
  11. Out the Door

It typically is very smooth and we have been doing a routine similar to this since he was 3!

There are a few things that you can do to help your child get familiar with a routine.

  1. Be consistent
  2. Use visuals (written list for older children and list using pictures for younger children)
  3. Use verbal reminders
  4. Use a timer to remind your child when they have to move to the next step

You can use routines throughout your day! Have fun fitting in the routines and do not forget to make them a little fun for your child as well!!

If you would like some help figuring out how routines and schedules can help your family, please feel free to book a free 15 minute consult to ask how I can help. You can book the free call by clicking on the following link https://calendly.com/brenda-mcsween/15min.

Below is the video I did and based this blog post on. Feel free to listen…​

White Noise or Not?

White Noise or Not?

There seems to be this constant issue where something is good for a bit; then, bang now it is bad.  I have also seen when bad things are now good (do not introduce certain foods until 1, now do it as soon as you introduce solids).  Let the confusion about what to do with a baby happen again: Should you use or not use a white noise machine or device?

If something is too loud it can affect a child’s hearing.  Now do I think you should run into your child’s room and remove the white noise device you are using, NO!  I do think you should make sure it is not on a loud setting and it is placed away from your child’s crib, bassinet, or bed.

What is the purpose of white noise anyways?  In my opinion, the purpose of white noise is to reduce the effect everyday noises have on a child’s ability to remain asleep.  The steady quiet hum in the background appears to reduce the number of times my child is startled awake.  I have put a fan on in my little man’s room since he was just over 6 months.  This has reduced the amount of tip-toeing the other people in the house have had to partake in.

Here are some of the tips/points to consider if you choose to use white noise:

  1. It should be on a low setting.
  2. The device should not be right beside your child.
  3. Constant is better than intermittent.  Some children will wake up if the white noise shuts off.
  4. If your child really likes the background noise you may find yourself having to pack a white noise machine or similar device when you travel.

Ultimately, the final decision is up to you as a parent.  If you are concerned, do not hesitate to remove the device or talk to your child’s doctor.  I hope this post has reduced your questions or sense of uncertainty around using white noise as a tool in your home.

Happy sleeping, everyone!!

 

 

 

Key Night Time Phrase..What is the Point?

Key Night Time Phrase..What is the Point?

 

When we use a key phrase to identify that it is time to sleep, it can help with our little ones settling down and preparing for sleep. This settling down period can cause their bodies to start to produce melatonin.

Once a child is over 4.5 months of age they will begin the process of producing melatonin. Melatonin is the sleep hormone that allows our little ones to go to sleep and stay asleep for long periods of time.

I have had the opportunity to hear many different key phrases that people use for sleep. The following are some of the most common:

  • “Night Night”
  • “Sleepy Time”
  • “Good Night”
  • “Do do”
  • “Time for Sleep”

This key phrase comes in really handy in the middle of the night or early morning when your child requires a reminder that it is still time for sleep. When you use your key phrase it is often enough to help your little one attempt to go back to sleep. It basically does 2 things. It reminds them that it is still time for sleep and it allows them to hear your voice which can be very calming.

A key phrase may seem like a very simple tool; however, sometimes it is the small things that make a huge impact!!

 

As Always, Be the Parent You Want to Be!

PS. If you would like more help with help to improve your child’s sleep click here to book a free 15-minute consultation with me (Brenda McSween) or click on the Work with me Tab above to book a service.

Back to School During Covid Times

Back to School During Covid Times

 

Back to school season is upon us. Some children are already back to school and some are preparing for this adventure to begin! This can be a huge adjustment for our precious little ones. This year throws in a whole new level of adjustment.

Some children are going to school for the first time, some are returning after being away from in-person school for over a year, and others were in school but they have no idea what is going to happen at their school this year. The beginning of this school year may be very taxing for you and your child.

There are many things that you can do to help ease any anxiety.

Often our little ones do not have the words to express their worries, questions, fears, or excitement. This is why a safe place to let things out is important.

 

How can you help if they cannot tell you what they need?

First, it would be important to note that they are not trying to avoid talking.

I have spoken to many parents that get frustrated because their child has the words.  It appears that they are not using them.

Having the words is one thing, having the actual connections in the brain that allows the child to control their emotional responses is the issue. The part of the brain responsible for helping people to rationally talk and plan things out is not fully developed until the age of at least 25.

Yes, you read that correctly! At least the age of 25 is when the brain is fully developed. No, you do not need to wait until your child is 25 to help them learn skills to be able to cope with their big feelings. This is something that you can help with but it does take a great deal of patience.

 

What can you do to help??? 

The following are some things that you can do to help your child deal with the big emotions they may be experiencing in the evenings during the first few weeks back at school:

1. Be prepared: Be ready for emotional outbursts.

2. Label the feelings you see: “I can see that you are frustrated (or insert emotion here)…”. Understand that your child will say “NO I AM NOT……”

3. Do not take the outburst personally: Easier said than done but remind yourself that this is not about you at all. In fact, it is because your child feels connected to you that they are able to unload their feelings).

4. Bear Hugs: If your child is one that loves hugs, meet him with open arms! The pressure from the hug can be very calming.

5. Have a snack prepared: Hangry is a real thing! Anger is the secondary emotion that we can see when someone is hungry. (I pack snacks for all family members, not just the children)

6. Plan a low-key evening: This is not a great time to have a number of activities to do in the evenings that your child does not love doing (I do realize that this is hockey season for many families).

7. Put your phone or other electronics away: This is the time to give your child your full attention.

8. Have fun: Engage in some fun play or roughhousing. Laughter can be just as therapeutic as crying.

9. Child-Led Play: Let your child guide the play with you for about 10 to 15 minutes. This is when you do something that your child wants to do and you follow what they want. Child Directed play rocks because it can increase your child’s feeling of connection with you.

If all of the above is not working it could very well be that you need to create space for your child to unload their feelings.

 

What does unload their feelings mean??

This can look different for each child.

This often means that you allow your child the opportunity to cry, scream, yell, jump up and down, and do whatever your child does without hurting themselves or others.

(You may have to intervene if your child is hurting themselves or others)

By allowing a safe place for your child to unload their feelings you are giving them an opportunity to rid themselves of toxic stress. I refer to this as providing your child with a Safe Place to Land.

What do you do after the feelings have been unloaded?

You take your child’s lead. Your child may want to talk the stressors through or they want to move on.

If your child wants to process their feelings, it is important to empathize with them and then you can brainstorm with your child. You will brainstorm ways they can deal with their stress in a productive manner.

If your child wants to move on, allow that to happen. It is the same thing that happens when we as adults will vent our friends. We may drop a few f-bombs. After we are done talking we feel ready to move and do not have a need to discuss things at that time.

A little while after the meltdown or unloading happens, you can thank your child for letting you know how they were feeling and provide them with a few things they can try to reduce their stress.

Over the first few weeks of school be prepared to be the safe place for your child to land when needed and engage in lots of family time with low expectations.

Slowly over time, you will see a major reduction in your child’s emotional reactions. This will be your cue that your child is beginning to adjust to the new grade.

If the behavior does not change then feel free to reach out so we can chat (free 15-minute chat) about ways I can help.