I have an emotionally sensitive child

I have an emotionally sensitive child. And it is sometimes hard not to wear his emotions too!

Rather than ‘brush off’ his feelings with comments like ‘it’s okay’, ‘don’t worry about it’, ‘just let it go’, it works much better to identify with his strong feelings. I might say ‘you are really disappointed aren’t you?’, ‘that must’ve worried you a lot’ or ‘I know you wanted a turn first’.

Instead of firing him up more, he relaxes because he feels understood and supported.

This is one of the first steps in helping him to calm down and regulate his emotions. Without an understanding adult on his side, he is pretty much sure to ‘flip his lid’, where he can’t think straight, won’t let anyone in to help him and struggles to calm down for what seems like an eternity.

And of course, a hug to go with it brings even more success!

Who else can identify with one of these little sensitive ones?

I wasn’t being mindful….and I paid for it!

So today I experienced one of those days where you just want to yell out ‘Universe, stop playing against me today!’.  Well, when I actually analysed where it all went wrong, I realised it was actually ME that let the present and past get in the way of what should have been just a ‘normal’ day.  Where did my mindfulness go?

Here’s how it went:

Last night, I realised how many activities I had to get done today and with my husband away, it all rested on me.  There was swimming, get the casserole on, bake banana bread (one of our staples) and deal with organising the third neighbour to come over and rescue the calculator Master 2 managed to wedge between our 2 glass sliding doors, so that we couldn’t actually close it.  Not to mention the usual loads of washing, packing lunchboxes, preparing food for the daycare days ahead oh and entertain the boys…

Tuesdays when my husband is away is always a stretch as we have to have both boys (and myself) ready to get in the pool for swimming lessons at 7.30am.  Normally we just sail in with not one minute to spare.  But today, we had Master 2 toilet training, which meant cleaning up two accidents as I was so focussed on getting out of the house.  I also noticed we finished the probiotics which meant adding a trip to the chemist (a dreaded trip with two boys in tow) to the list.  Mistake #1 I focussed so much on what was ahead, I didn’t stay on top of the present.  Mistake #2 I didn’t leave extra time for toilet training.

So we left late for swimming with me feeling guilty I’d had to call ‘time’ and leave without brushing the boys’ teeth.

Swimming lessons are not something I look forward to.  For half the class when I am in the pool for Master 2’s lesson, Master 4 is waiting on the side.  He has gotten up to every type of mischief you can imagine and I count the minutes until I can get out of the pool and put everyone else out of the misery!  Today, I was more tired than usual and was so focussed on getting out of there and home to face the rest of the day’s tasks that I didn’t realise I left our whole bag of wet swimming gear there…until we got home.  Swear words were sitting on my lips as I realised that now took nearly an extra hour out of our day for the round trip with the two boys… Mistake #3 I let myself get swept away with events approaching and instead made mistakes in the present.

Unfortunately, I let the hectic schedule get the better of me and focussed so much on getting my tasks done, that the rest of the place went into chaos.

Here’s a taste of what went on all before midday:

  • Whilst throwing food in the slow cooker, Master 2 threw a plate into the kitchen and smashed a glass jar of coconut milk all over the floor.  I of course cut my hand cleaning up.  All the while, Master 4 insisting on talking to me about anything and everything.
  • The cut on my hand stinging while I cleaned up about three accidents from Master 2, including one on our suede dining chair.  And plenty more loads in the washing machine.  And Master 4 still talking.
  • Chickens all of a sudden deciding to scratch the vege patch apart, which had me running out like a wild lady to shoo them away every 10 minutes.  Lucky Master 4 was there to ‘dob’ on the chickens each time.
  • The boys getting out more toys than they could play with.  This left that many obstacles to walk over I couldn’t help but kick them around as I ran from chickens to accidents to the clothesline and back to the kitchen.  Whilst Master 4 nearly tripped me up trying to talk about I’m-not-sure-what-by-this-stage.
  • The boys playing outside in the pouring rain which of course ended up with Master 2 coming down the wet playground slide with no undies on, flying off the end and scratching his bottom to bits.  And Master 4 insisting on a blow by blow.
  • The boys ending up in mud and bark up to their teeth, requiring full wash downs.  Master 2 who hates the bath on a good day fought me every bit of the way with his sore bottom… and Master 4 was still trying to tell me about exactly which imaginary friends had/hadn’t been playing out in the rain with them.
  • Fielding drop ins from the post man and 2 other people.  With Master 4 at the door to get a few more words out.
  • Organising the neighbour to help with our sliding doors and selling a port-a-cot on Gumtree.

Whew!

So if I rewind and look at how I could’ve been mindful in all of this and NOT ended up with the universe against me, I would have:

  • gone to bed earlier the night before, knowing it would be a big day and I’d need my energy and patience
  • I would have stayed present whilst preparing to get out of the house to swimming and stayed on top of Master 2 getting to the toilet
  • I would have regrouped myself on the way to swimming, taking the time to breathe and realised there were some things on my list I could drop if I had to.
  • I would have faced the swimming class with more energy knowing I would just ‘plod on’ with my tasks when we got home, which would have saved me the second trip back to swimming later.
  • Not being in such a rush, I would have taken the time to set the boys up with better entertainment to begin with, and had more energy to entertain whilst on the run with my tasks, saving me massive clean-ups and tidy ups.

And! The chickens probably still would’ve done their thing (or did they sense the chaos?) and the boys probably still would’ve had their fun out in the mud, but I wouldn’t be writing about a crazy day if I’d just had to cope with this!

Well thanks for anyone who is still listening.  It feels good just to pick this day apart and get it off my chest!  At least I went to bed early last night.  Master 4 up at 4am who’d wet the bed and wouldn’t go back to sleep, then Master 2 tagging him at 5am.  But that’s another story 😉  Heidi

Our creation table

Cool parents = relaxed kids when it comes to art, craft & all the ‘messy’ play.  So I commissioned my husband into making our own outdoors creation table.  Free to be loved and used JUST for creating, having fun, sensory exploration and learning!
We take it to all corners of our yard for different inspiration from a different setting.  We don’t clean it so we don’t worry about mess.  And we chose to use blackboard paint so we can love our table with chalk too..
But yes I’ve still had some crazy sessions with little painted hands making it to the house.  I guess that’s what you get for painting with a 1 & 3yo.  More on that later!
For now, let me know if you have a wonderful creation table!  OR if your husband has the skills to whip up a basic table…  Weekend project??

It’s time to entertain yourselves..it’s called ‘free play’!

Do your schedule time in your children’s day as ‘free play’?  Do you let your kids get bored (& let them find their own games)?
A few ideas I use to encourage free play:
– send them outside…and lock the door (just kidding, but it can sometimes be tricky to shake the kids off you)
– give your children tasks to complete outside (& with any luck they’ll get swept up in their own play)
You can find language in your backyard – my backyard treasure hunt that can entice kids outside
– set up ‘play invitations’ inside – think my weekly play themes or even just setting up a few toys here and there to encourage them to be discovered and play with
– encourage collaborative play with spare boxes or a pile of dress up gear or a big bag of blocks
– make yourself look BUSY! too busy to get involved in case the kids try to include you.
 Here is a link about the importance of free play by Dr Helen Street. ‘Why over scheduling kids is robbing them of a life worth living’. Worth a read!
Don’t forget to take a look around in the different categories to see if I Raise My Kids is worth following for you! 🙂 Heidi

Crusts, ends, skin and peel…

So who finds themselves peeling apples, cutting the crusts off bread or picking out the ‘bits’ in say yoghurt?  By giving a name to say ‘yolk’ or ‘crust’ or ‘lumps’, it draws attention to that part of the food being different to the rest…and possibly something a child should avoid.  Particularly if the parent offers to remove that part of the food.
Let’s consider what might be going on:
  • the child’s sensory system is still developing. The feel of a lump or the look of a different colour on the egg may be enough to make your child think twice.
  • the child wants to stay with what’s ‘normal’. If they’ve always had fruit or cucumber peeled or the ends of beans cut off or smooth yoghurt, they might need warming up to eat this unfamiliar part.
  • the child is finding it extra work. Chewing through crusts for little developing jaws can be hard work.

What can you do to work through these stages?

  • for the little ones (pre 12mths), give achievable lumps. Instead of store-bought yoghurt with fruit, why not add cooked fruit, fruit purée, dessicated coconut or say some banana bread bits to plain yogurt. These create more even texture until they are ready for bigger lumps.
  • most children can and will work around peel and crusts from an early age.  But be prepared for them to avoid the skin or crusts.  There is no need to draw any attention to it though.  You might simply ask if they’ve had enough and remove it. Sometimes just breaking the crusts up into more manageable pieces will have your child finishing all their bread.
  • keep persisting.  As with introducing any new food, if you persist, you ‘should’ win. (Short of further sensory processing issues or difficulty chewing).
  • be prepared for regression.  Once a child works out ‘no’, they might put up some protests.  This is NOT the time to go with their requests.  Keep persisting, with no pressure.
  • model eating it all yourself.  You might show them how you bite into a whole apple with the peel or crunch the rest of the cucumber skin.
  • start slowly.  You might present sweet potato with just some of it’s skin on.  Or peel stripes down the cucumber.  You could cut just one end off each bean.

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Always remember, no matter what, there is no pressure to eat and thus no drawing attention to these parts of food.  Eventually your child will be ready to eat it all…and they won’t realise the game you’ve just played with them!  🙂  Heidi
Please let me know if you have any questions in this area.

Feel free to come and follow ‘I Raise My Kids’ to receive more information on feeding, play, communication and literacy development. 🙂

Learning foods

Does your child eat the family meal?  Or could they do with a ‘learning food’ on their plate?  This could be anything from your plate or another food from the fridge or pantry. Eg a line of sauce, a dollop of a spread or a new nut/seed trail.

Think outside the box and bring enthusiasm to the table!

Sign of the week – NO

No means NO!
Who has a little toddler that likes to test the boundaries? What do you do when you really mean ‘no’?
A sign can really help your child to understand ‘no’ means ‘no’, in a visual and concrete way.

The good thing is, you can sign ‘no’ into your little one’s visual field, even if they choose not to look at you.  It is also a good one to be able to sign when you can’t talk, like when you’re on the phone or have a mouthful of water.

The sign site for Auslan is not working tonight, so here is my description!  Make a fist and shake it back and forward like you would shake your head ‘no’, moving from your wrist.
Happy signing!

Our mysterious salt bath…with benefits

Look at this fun way to help calm and detoxify your children, just before bed!  A good handful of Epsom salts thrown into the bath will help to calm your child’s nervous system.  This is the MAGNESIUM of which many children can be deficient in.  You’ll want to know about the benefits of magnesium, for those deficient…
Relaxes the mind – it helps the brain to think clearer and concentrate better.  It is also the key to producing serotonin which help children who are irritable, moody or depressed.
Relaxes the body – it helps hyperactive children to behave calmly.  Who would say no to the above?
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The kids were intrigued yet loved the idea of a special ‘salty’ bath.  Especially as I added some glow sticks to help the boys stay in the bath for about 20 minutes!  Songs and nursery rhymes with actions also work well to keep them entertained whilst essential oils, fresh mint leaves and/or bicarb make for an extra cleansing and relaxing bath..
Look for Epsom salts at a health food shop. 
Oh and the added bonus was the boys settling to bed so well afterwards!
Don’t forget to ‘follow’ I Raise My Kids for further posts 🙂 Heidi

Why you should explain WHY!

[18 mths +]  A child will always be more compliant, if they understand WHY.
So don’t wait for your children to ask (especially if they’re too young to know how to), but give them the answer.
Instead of just:
  • ‘close the door’, offer ‘flies will come in, bzz bzz, no no!’
  • ‘don’t touch that’, offer ‘it’s not ours’ or ‘we don’t need that today’ or ‘just for grown ups, it might break’ etc
  • ‘sit down’, offer ‘on your bottom, no falling….OWWW!’
  • ‘get your shoes on’, offer ‘no standing on rocks & hurt your feet…OWW’ or ‘the other kids will all have shoes on, protecting their feet….’

When you explain WHY at the same time you give the direction, you will literally see brains tick over…and hopefully see why you’re asking them to do so.  The catch is, make sure you’ve used words that your child will understand for their age!