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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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Toddlers and the Power of Choice

Children NEED limits in order to feel safe; when they act out through attention seeking or challenging behaviour this is often a result of craving the boundaries and leadership needed to feel secure. 

A child’s job is to consistently test or push the boundaries to check to see which ones are rock solid (generally safety based – holding hands in a parking lot, keeping hands off the stove) and which ones are written in the sand (ex. we wear shoes outside but they can decide on what pair). Without boundaries children will take on too much of the parenting role and this causes them to become overwhelmed; this triggers an anxious response and causes them to question whether they are safe.  

Around the age of two, toddlers begin to explore their own individuality and independence. Parenting isn’t a dictatorship; it is a partnership.

You need to give respect to get it and in order to build a secure, safe, attachment you need to establish clear boundaries.

The power of choice is the most underused parenting strategy out there. If you can give your toddler as many choices throughout the day as possible, when situations arise where there isn’t a choice, your child is going to be more willing to co-operate and comply. 

Examples of creating opportunities for choice:

  • Choosing clothes in the morning

    • Josephine, would you like to wear the green pants or the blue? 

    • Would you like to wear your running shoes or boots? 

    • Which jacket do you think would be best when it’ snowy? 

  • Providing options at mealtimes

    • Michael, would you like cereal or eggs this morning? 

    • How is your tummy feeling? Do you think it would like an apple or banana? 

  • Changing diapers

    • Your diaper looks quite full. Would you like to change it now or in two minutes? 

Giving your little one the opportunity to make decisions and live with the choices they have made is incredibly important. There are going to be strong emotions attached to these boundaries and it is important to hold the space for them, but not to give in to them. Providing your child with empathy and compassion when they are disappointed, have changed their mind, or are upset is not “giving in.” This is being respectful and caring – you are showing your child that you understand that this is hard for them and they are struggling but unfortunately they made that choice so we are going to stick with it. Just because you are empathizing doesn’t mean you are giving in. 

While we strongly advocate for providing choices and involving your child as much as possible, some children can’t handle the decisions. They become paralyzed into inaction with the overwhelming options. You can support them by making the choices for them in scenarios where they will not push back (ex. clothing, shoes, breakfast, etc.) or you can ask, “Would you like to ______ or would you like me to do it?” This gives them the opportunity to give it a try or if they don’t want to they can verbalize that. If they don’t respond, wait 1-2 minutes and then say, “Ok, I’ll choose today.” 

Setting boundaries and seeing them through is hard. Don’t overwhelm yourself and set yourself up to fail by attempting Boundary Bootcamp where you set every boundary and stand your ground. Chances are you’re going to burn out and your child is going to be an emotional disaster. Pick one thing that really bothers you (this gives you the motivation to stand strong!) and then start setting a boundary around that one situation. Once your little one understands the cause and effect his behaviours and actions have and that you will do what you say, all of the other limits that you set just come together and become much easier! 

If you are struggling with boundaries and limits and need more support, reach out for a complimentary discovery call to see if a behavioural support package might be part of your solution! 

XO

Amy

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Why is my toddler doing this?! The beginning of boundary setting.

The transition from babyhood to toddlerhood happens seemingly overnight. Your child becomes more capable, curious, and communicative. They are ready and (almost) able to tackle things they previously could not do (choose their clothing, pick their own breakfast, select their shoes, decide on the route to the car, etc.) and are willing to go to great lengths to coerce (force) you into letting them show you.

Toddlers crave autonomy – they want to be an active participant in their life. Gone are the days where you can grab the first thing your hand reaches in the closet, pop them into that, put shoes and a coat on, grab the diaper bag and head out the door. Now you are entering negotiating territory – you finally get her dressed with cajoling, bribery, and maybe even a threat or two about taking away a coveted toy but then there are the shoes. She flat out refuses the shoes and the coat for that matter. You start to see red and wonder how your sweet cooperative little tyke has become so defiant?!

Take a deep breath.

Everything described above is completely NORMAL toddler behaviour.

Toddlers want to feel like they have a sense of control over their lives. They want to know that they have a say in things. The terrible twos are simply toddlers who are becoming more independent and parents who aren’t ready (or haven’t realized the need) to provide a little more freedom. So where do we go from here?

Boundaries. Boundaries with a (BIG) dollop of consistency are what will help you maintain your sanity while parenting your toddler. And the amazing part is, the more time and work you put into it now, the more benefits you reap when they are older.

Boundaries are an integral component of raising a happy, healthy, and emotionally well-adjusted child. These secure boundaries help create predictability to everyday routines and reduce child anxiety and uncertainty. These limits support children in discovering what is acceptable and what is not so that they can develop self-regulation, self-discipline and self-control skills.

A child’s brain is not fully developed; therefore they should not be given the responsibility of making big decisions. It is important to consider each child’s unique stage of development when determining where to set that limit. What is an appropriate level of choice for them?

So what is the first step that you can take to try and find harmony in your home again? Think about the limits that you set, and then challenge them! Why is this a rule? What happens if we didn’t have this limit? What is my child learning from me preventing this activity? How will my child benefit if I were to let her do it?

Some boundaries that you have in place will be there for a reason; these are primarily safety boundaries. These are not the limits we want you to re-evaluate. But consider picking your battles – does it REALLY matter if he wears two different socks to daycare? Is it the end of the world if she wears princess sandals to school on a rainy day? Pack her rain boots and socks – she will figure out pretty quickly that it’s not comfortable or pleasant and will know for next time.

Give your toddler the opportunity to learn from THEIR choices.

Natural and logical consequences allow children to further investigate the concept of cause and effect. It helps them learn about the world around them, how their family works, and how far they can push you. Toddlers constantly test those boundaries to find out which are rock solid, and which are written in the sand.

Stay tuned for next weeks blog where we go a little deeper on the “establishing” of said boundaries!

Comment below on your favourite toddler COMPROMISE. I once let a toddler wear one rain boot and one running shoe to school because.. COMPROMISE. When I picked up? “This boot stinky. My feet be wet.” He definitely didn’t choose that combo again! What have you done to keep a little bit of peace?

If we can support you with your child’s more challenging toddler behaviours, please send us a note to amy@heavyeyeshappyhearts.com.

XO

Amy