Toddlercalm – week 1 (part #2 of 2)

Task of parenting – to regulate my own emotions and strike a balance between empathic parenting and respectful parenting

► How to be a Toddlercalm mom?
– Manage expectations for our children
– Get enough sleep / exercise: we need to keep ourselves partially ’empty’ so that we can receive emotions from our kids calmly
– Not overschedule
– Talk to friends/husband
– Be more flexible and less rigid about cleanliness, orderliness of house etc.

► Job description of a toddler: Skills & qualities
– Curious / questioning
– Motor skills
– Energetic
– Confident
– Independent
– Persistent
– Testing
– Cheeky
– Strong-willed
– Single-minded
– Disregard for what they can’t do
– Willful

Note that the job description correlates with our long-term goals. Our toddlers, as they are, are already our dream child if we see it in another perspective. If nurtured correctly, they will grow up to be wonderful people.

► A child’s brain is not fully developed before 7 years old. There are three layers to the brain; the reptilian complex (the most primitive part that is related to physical survival, body maintenance and instinctive behaviour patterns) is the first to develop. This layer is responsible for automatic behaviours associated with territoriality, social dominance, obsession, rigidness, compulsiveness, paranoia – very much explaining the reason why toddlers are self-centred and only focused on their self-interest ie. the “I want! I want!” part.

brain

The second layer is the limbic system and finally, the last layer to develop is the neocortex which is responsible for skills of rationale.

This explains why our toddlers are strong-willed and seemed to always be doing something we do not approve of, simply because their brains think “I want” all the time and not “I want but I can’t”. For example, when they see another child holding a toy they like, they think “I want that toy” instead of “I want that toy but if I take it, my mommy will be upset”.

There’s no point rationalising with a child during a tantrum when their reptilian complex is at its highest peak. Kids DO NOT think like adults. They should NOT be expected to think like we do. They are egocentric.

My progress – week 1
After getting a bigger picture of parenting and understanding a brief overview of a child’s behaviour/mind, I began to set my expectations right. I put myself in his shoes and thought of the possibilities of his behaviour and antics before jumping to conclusion. As hard as it could be, I gritted my teeth and acknowledged his feelings instead of exploding and punishing right away.

A good example happened a few days ago when he woke up from his nap and started whining. Xan just fell asleep after fussing with my boobs for more than an hour. I was dead tired from a sleepless night due to Xan’s teething bout and was planning to take a quick nap but obviously I had to scrap that idea right away. At that moment, Xan began to stir after hearing her brother’s commotion. I took a deep breath, calmly asked him to leave the room and patted Xan back to sleep. He continued crying and when nobody entertained him, he went to the reading corner and flipped a book. When I saw him doing that, I praised him immediately. Then he remembered that he was supposed to fuss and started whining again. He decided to put back the book into the shelf but couldn’t and burst into tears.

In the kitchen – seething with anger – I reached for the rotan and dashed out. As I quickened my pace, my mind told me “This is not the way to do it. He’s frustrated, he’s agitated. Acknowledge that.” Holding my fists tightly – still with the rotan in my hand – I let out a half angry, half concerned tiny voice. I asked him, “Why, are you upset because you can’t put back the book? I know it’s hard but there’s no more space in there unless you arrange it nicely. I’ll help you in a while ok? Meanwhile, you may leave it on top of the books first.”

He said “yes” and stopped crying. A moment later, he walked into the kitchen and told me “Mommy, my mouth hurts”. It turned out that he had a mouth ulcer but didn’t know how to verbalise it. If I were to spank and scold him, it would have added salt to his injury…literally. I managed my anger and beat my ego that day.

Stay tuned for week 2!

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