Toddlercalm – WIP #1

Classes have been cancelled for the past two weeks as our teacher fell sick and needed rest. Meantime, I have started reading “Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids” by Dr Laura Markham and continued applying what I have learned.

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This is possibly one of the best parenting books I have ever read! Markham’s method is very much in sync with Toddlercalm’s. It’s very easy to understand, concise and makes sense. No time-wasting, long-winded granny stories. It’s straight to the point, offers real-life scenarios and gives practical tips and solutions. If your child is still a baby or young toddler, go grab a copy and read up. It will give you a whole new perspective on parenting. I wished I have read this before E was born. Highly recommended!

Work in progress (WIP)
I told Hubby that if I can completely live and breathe the Toddlercalm method, I should probably change my name to Saint Joey. Seriously, even for someone who only snaps at unreasonable behaviours, it’s very tough. It requires so MUCH patience, empathy and understanding that I felt myself being ridiculous at times. Lots of eyes-rolling and deep breath-inhaling moments. I had to fake it at times too (at least I’m trying!) and find myself gritting my teeth more often than not.

In my determination to become an empathic parent, I pulled in a partner in crime (Hubby). I filled him up on what I have learned in the course and through the book. We motivated and gave each other a pat on the back for a job well done eg. when he remained calm to E’s whines or when I made an effort to validate E’s feelings.

One particular day was unusually challenging. I haven’t been sleeping well the whole of October. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I woke up feeling rested. Xan’s teeth were popping out like mushrooms. As zombie as I was, I still had to run the errands and take care of the kids. I could only pray that the kids would not give me any unwelcomed surprises.

But E did on that day. Despite waking up at 7am and down with rather bad allergy symptoms, he refused to take a nap. He wanted to continue playing although I had given him 10-minute and 5-minute advance notices. The crying began. He repeated “I want to play” and “I don’t want to nap” for probably a hundred times. He continued whining and crying non-stop. At one point, he imitated Xan’s way of crying too. It was highly annoying.

The old scenario would see me trying to distract him – if I had the energy – or threatening him with all sorts of things if I didn’t. If both failed, I would scream at him and ask him to leave the room. He would refuse to and I would pull him outside. He would then be hysterical, give in and comply with my order. We would then fall asleep in anger and frustration.

Instead, I responded with:
► “I know it’s hard when you don’t get to do what you want to do but noooo, it’s time for a nap”
► “You’re upset because you want to play but mommy said it’s nap time. You’re upset, I know”
► “Yes you want to play, you want to play. It’s so fun to play, you want to build a fire station with your Lego, you want to make buildings with your Junior Engineer. There are so many things you want to play with, but no, you need a rest now. We can play after you wake up”
► “Now you’re crying. You’re sad. Angry because you want to play but mommy said nap time. You want, you want, you want!”
► “You’re having a bad time. Let me give you a big hug”

Let’s just say I comforted him until my throat dried up. But he continued crying. I reminded myself to stay calm. I played the words “acknowledge“, “accept“, “evaporate” and “validate” in my mind again and again. That he’s just detoxifying negative emotions. Let him be. Be there for him. That what he was feeling is normal. I took deep, long breaths in between – utilising Hypnobirthing breathing techniques. I was very, VERY close to yelling and smacking him but told myself to keep going. I can do this. I summoned myself up to hug him. Loved him when he least deserved it. Stroked his hair. Kissed him. This went on for one freaking hour. Then he finally napped. I thanked God…profusely.

The meltdown apparently washed away his accumulated anger and frustration. He woke up a happy boy. Without my barking orders at him, he followed me to the kitchen, asked for snacks politely, ate them and then went to the reading corner. When Xan woke up, he automatically volunteered to watch her while I cooked. When he needed the toilet, he ran to me and said, “Mommy, can you watch meimei for a while? I need to pee” while jumping around trying to hold his pee. It was really nice. He also told me that he felt like biting Xan but he bit the pillow instead. During dinner time, he finished his meal quickly without much fuss.

THEN, it happened again – the same day, during bedtime. I named it the ‘second detox’ session. Same issue – he wanted to play and didn’t want to sleep. The crying and whining commenced again. On the bright side, it lasted 30 minutes this time. And we, both parents, held it strong together. That night, he went to bed with my assurance that I love him 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Toddlercalm – WIP #1

  1. Mei Chen

    Really amazed with your skill of calming your boy while not giving in his request, no easy task…hope to change my way of respond too and learn from what you have shared, thanks Luan Luan!

    1. It wasn’t easy and trust me, I was on the verge of exploding any second then. Then again, that was a good day. Many other bad days haha! I’m still trying, maybe not hard enough.

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