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Why does self care HELP your toddler?

When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, they need for us to share our calm, not join their chaos.”~ L.R Knost

This is one of our favourite quotes and it is often used in our consultations. It can be really difficult when you’re tired, frustrated, have an endless list of things you need to do, and your child just WONT cooperate.

Your child is not out to wind you up intentionally (despite the way it might feel sometimes!) – they aren’t born with the ability to regulate or manage their emotions.  Right from birth, we are our children’s first teachers. Their emotions will mirror ours; so if you are feeling anxious, stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated or another myriad of emotions, those are the feelings your child is taking on as well. 

Have you ever noticed that if you are in a good place emotionally that your child also seems to have less meltdowns or challenges? But when things start getting tough that’s when your child’s behaviour deteriorates as well which increases your stress level?

This is why self-care is so important.

If you aren’t able to take care of your own physical and emotional needs, then you aren’t equipped to take care of your child’s. Self-care is the least selfish thing that you can do. It will make you a better parent, partner, friend, son or daughter, aunt or uncle. Your child deserves to have you at your best, so make the time to get yourself there. 

We find the majority of parents are terrible for actually following through with self-care because they always put others first. Find someone to help keep you accountable! Whether its your partner, a friend, your mum, anyone who can check in on you to make sure you are taking time for yourself. There is no right or wrong way to engage in self-care – many people assume that you should be doing some sort of exercise or personal development (and if that’s something you like to do then yes!) but taking time out for self-care means doing something for yourself that you previously really enjoyed and makes you FEEL good and rejuvenated. 

I am someone who tends to be paralyzed into inaction by having to come up with things to do for myself. To help others who may fall into that category, here is a list of ideas that may or may not interest you:

  • Nap

  • Read a book

  • Have a cup of tea and stare out of the window

  • Go for a walk / run

  • Take a zumba class (if nothing else, you will get a good sweat on and learn to laugh at yourself!)

  • As a friend to meet you for coffee

  • Take a bath

  • Yoga class

  • Explore essential oils and make yourself a roller for stressful times

  • Make jewellery (youtube has lots of videos and you can get supplies off etsy and amazon)

  • Make bath bombs (amazon has 

  • Organize (This might sound strange, but if it makes you feel good then go with it! I get a lot of pleasure out of organizing and having things sorted into containers etc. When I feel anxious, I organize.)

  • Knitting (Again, youtube has tons of videos, your local yarn store would help you get started and often have knitting groups once a week) 

  • Go to the gym

  • Go to bed early

  • Cook or bake 

I could go on for ages, so if none of these appeal to you keep on digging! You are sure to find something soon enough.

So you have someone to keep you accountable, you have an activity that you are planning on doing (napping count’s as an activity) what is going to make it happen? The number one reason I hear for why self-care didn’t happen is because they didn’t have childcare or something happened and you didn’t get the time. So here is another list of strategies for making sure you are taking time to be the best version of you: 

  • Make a plan and schedule it into your calendar 

  • Make sure you have someone to take over your childcare responsibilities 

    • Self-care isn’t as restorative if you have to be “on” in case your child wakes up, etc.

    • Ask Grandma to come over during nap time

    • Put it in your partners schedule that they are on bedtime duty

    • Hire a babysitter to come over

      • If funds are tight and you are planning on being in the home, ask a teenage neighbour to come round and play with your toddler while you take time for yourself

    • Do a childcare switch with a friend – look after her tot while she takes care of herself and vice versa (this also works well for date nights!)

What are some of your favourite self-care activities? Comment below to help a fellow parent out! 

XO

Amy

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Handling Big Emotions

Children are emotional beings.

They feel so passionately and so strongly but they haven’t yet developed the ability to self-regulate. These emotions can often engulf children in a wave of sensations and they temporarily lose all control. Most children go through phases where they are constantly “melting down” over one thing or another but often as language develops, they become a bit older, or their ability to self regulate and handle challenging situations becomes more refined these emotions tend to reduce. There are some children however, who continue to struggle with how to handle these big emotions and as a result their parents become lost, frustrated and confused as to how to help their children.

It is easy for parents to become frustrated with their children – “I’ve told them over and over that we don’t _____!” insert whatever behaviour your child typically resorts to hitting, biting, pushing, hair pulling, screaming, throwing, etc. Or “No matter what I do or say, I’m in for a fight or tantrum.” Does any of this sound familiar?

Children are not good or bad. They don’t enjoy losing control, and they don’t mean to hurt people. But when these trying times do happen, they need us to help them deal with those emotions BEFORE the incident, DURING the incident, and AFTERWARDS. How we respond to young children and their emotions can impact their lives for years. It is so important to address these challenges with compassion, understanding and keep any judgements out of the conversation.

When children are at the peak of feeling – emotions are heightened, they may be crying, screaming, very angry, or appear out of control – they are unable to process any information. When you see your child in this phase your only goal is to help them calm down. This might mean giving them space while keeping them safe and any other children around them. It could also look like giving them a big hug – the deep pressure of a hug can help relax their body and calm them down. It might even be as simple as providing them with a comfort item and saying, “I’m here when you’re ready.”

Once they have calmed down, that is your teachable moment.

You can talk through the event, the emotions and the actions that took place and address any safety concerns that occurred. If someone was hurt in the process it is important to follow up with that person and ask if they are ok and if the child can do anything to help them feel better. This can be a hug (if the child is open to offering / providing one, but is not necessary), a cold cloth, an ice pack, getting a comfort item for the hurt person, etc.

Challenging behaviours can be overwhelming and distressing for parents to deal with. We have many years of experience supporting children with challenging behaviours and extra support needs. We would love to support you through this difficult time.

We came across a post by Childhood101 about how to manage big emotions. We think it’s an excellent read and a great place to start. We would love to hear your feedback!