How to recover from a mama tantrum

mama
S#%^t it happened again… an other mama tantrum, and a big one. I wish it didn’t happen but it did. Once you become mindful, you just can’t go back – you know that attachment drives connection and that disconnection is the worse thing of all…

I am very proud to say that I don’t yell, yet, my mama trantrums are not pretty at all – I am stubborn, I want things done my way and immediately – this big “ego” of mine doesn’t understand that another little person wants and is allowed to want things her way too!

Unfortunately I was not able to stay calm and show empathy when my daughter needed it, I wasn’t able to understand her discomfort and help her get over it because I only saw mine. What happened doesn’t really matter, I can loose my temper for a lot of reasons – so can everyone. I am taking full responsibility for the situation, her tantrums and mine are just the same: we express discomfort – the difference is I can and should be able to control mine!

Kate, from Peacefulparentsconfidentkids wrote:

I don’t always get it when my daughter is screaming at me or her sister and sometimes I don’t even really try. Sometimes it is easier to pass it off as tiredness or hunger and just simply her personality, rather than to truly see what is going on. It can be exasperating and if my mind is not strong, it can be easy to show annoyance and reflect my own hardships at having to deal with it, back at her. I am now beginning to realise that when I let myself become affected by her behaviour and begin to believe that my hard time is harder than her hard time, I am no longer being the respectful parent I am aiming to be. My reactions become intolerant and unempathetic. The effects of these reactions for my beautiful, sensitive girl are long lasting

I work on myself to get rid of old patterns, to be present just where I am and to fully embrace the moment… being mindful takes time and practice so until I know better here are the steps I try to focus on to move forward as quick as possible:

  1. Forgive myself: yes I know, this is cliché but otherwise, guilt is there right in the corner. Big tantrum = big guilt = longer disconnection = longer recovery = child in pain
  2. Apologize and move forward: If Big tantrum = disconnection = child in pain – I should apologize. I realize that apologizing gives me perspective.
  3. Offer closeness & big hugs… Reconnect: If of course we both can offer / accept hugs… otherwise, I try to give some space

In general, to prevent those situations where my mind is weak and I’m intolerant or annoyed I try to focus on the bigger picture:

  1. Lower expectations: I try to remember that my child is ONLY 3.5. I often get frustrated because of the gap between my expectations and the reality (which is often the case most of the time)
  2. Stay positive: “Set your child up for success rather than challenging him/her to fail. For younger children, that often means expecting that they will need assistance from you to complete tasks or follow certain directions” (3 Ways to Stop Parental Frustration Before it Starts) I try to ask her if she needs my help when I ask her for something.
  3. Perspective, perspective, perspective: My girl is doing her best, always, you know what: she really is! she wants to succeed in what she does as much as I do. Mistakes is a learning process – and to be honest, this is exactly what I preach, so this is what I need to allow.
  4. Context: understand, see and always allow, accept and validate big feelings…

Children act aggressively to express a variety of feelings that all come under one heading: Discomfort. Understanding this truth is crucial for parents committed to respectful care, because our perceptions of our children’s behavior will always dictate our responses. When we treat an uncomfortable child in need of our help and safety like a bad kid needing scolding, a lesson, or punishment, we create distance, fear, and even more discomfort. And so the cycle continues. (The Most Important Thing to Know About Your Child’s Aggression)

 

Rumi-Listen

“There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen” – Rumi

I do my best to work on connection, because nothing else matters. What are you working on? ♥

Find yourself first

find-yourself-rumi

“Go find yourself first, so you can also find me”.

What do you think about that?

Lately, this resonates with me a lot… as hard as it is to accept, I believe that, for me, there is no other way. I try very hard – very very hard – to parent respectfully, to give my child what she deserves: respect, a healthy relationship model, available parents… I am focusing on learning, listening, responding, improving ALL the time. I am focusing on her. I feel the pressure, I want to find the right words, turn No into Yes as much as possible, pick my battles and give her space when possible.

So yes, I have been focusing on her, sometime exclusively, forgetting other important things: Focusing on ME! Finding ME 1st , healing ME 1st, knowing ME 1st, understanding ME 1st and respect ME 1st. I am focusing on her not only because I want to, but also because, to be honest, it’s easier to focus on her than on myself.

I want to be an available parent, a respectful parent who can accept & understand all my child’s emotional states – no just the good ones. I want to remain calm & handle my own emotions right 1st to remain connected. Children are learning everyday, small children have trouble coping with a lot of their emotions, so they turn to us – their only source of regulation available – because if everything is right, they feel secure to be themselves around us, & because they feel loved and validated.

After reading a lot on that subject, I found that, our children push our buttons because they are our children, it’s as simple as that. Unconsciously our children stimulate feelings of our own childhoods (especially strong feelings, probably unprocessed) when they act out. We too, are overwhelmed by their strong emotions. My child may be pushing my buttons, but I AM responsible for my actions and what I choose to do with the situation – in other words: “my buttons” are my responsibilities & I am the adult in the relationship with my child.

I need to find ME 1st, support ME 1st, understand ME 1st in order to also find her – in order to be fully present for her & show real empathy when she needs it.

The steps I take to “Find ME 1st” (thank you dear husband for helping me find them!).

  1. Work on myself: 1st step, recognize that this is a priority and that the journey is long. I learn self-acceptance once a week (for over a year now)
  2. Go to the gym
  3. or / and take yoga classes
  4. Practice meditation

May 2015 be the year you find yourself. May this year bring you calm, happiness and rest.

 

 

The gift of time: Tips for slowing down

time

The best thing that you give to children is time…

Time… what a simple and beautiful word.

We live in a world where multi-tasking is praised, where multi-tasking is a talent that we – women – *have*. We *are able* to cook, clean, get dressed while talking on the phone. Well in fact, slowing down, enjoying the moment has become a “gift”, a state of mind I would really like to return to. I feel that I’m always rushing, I run to go to work, I run from work, I want to be “on time” for everything and everyone… I’m stressed, sometimes I’m annoyed as I’m always late. I begin my day with “hurry up” rushing from 1 place to another – I finish that day with “hurry up” because there is always something else. I hurry so much that I often miss the small things in life that are the most important ones.

I don’t have time to slow down in those situations because it’s a waste of time…

I try to squeeze an entire day in just a few hours, because this is the only time I have.

I try to be at my best everywhere I am, because this is the only time I have.

I try to have the most enjoyable time with my family, because this is the only time I have.

The pressure of always having something on my plate, the stress, takes a huge part of my mind, then I become very irritable and unpleasant to be with. Mornings are crazy – transitions are not easy for our little ones – I find myself dressing my 3-year-old daughter through tears, although she is fully capable of getting dressed on her own – I find myself doing the exact opposite of what I want for her: Autonomy.

In order to restore a sense of sanity and spread happiness instead of stress to my family, I felt I had to do something. I felt I needed to slow down, or at least, spend my time right.

This is how I try to spend my time better: Tips for empowering what really matters:

1. For big changes, start small

Pause, stop and think – Simple reminders like “Does this really matter?”, “Is that really what you want?” can be very useful

2. Stay focused

I started focusing on doing just one thing at a time, so that the time I spend doing 1 thing is dedicated to that 1 specific thing I’m doing – and you know what? it’s not that simple! When someone talks to me (especially my 3-year-old daughter), I try to stop what I’m doing to give my *undivided* attention – and you know what? it’s not that simple! when I focus on fully listening and looking to the person in front of me, I can’t do something else basically.

3. Wherever and Whenever you are, Be there!

Be present! (even for a small amount of time). No phone, no “just a quick look”, no Facebook… when someone calls I usually say “I’m not going to answer, it’s our You & Me time now”. When possible I try to avoid screen time of any kind

4. Understand that transitions can be hard to handle

Transitions are a bit tricky for me, there are a lot of tips on how to help a child with transitions on http://www.janetlansbury.com. Basically, let the child know in advance what you/they are going to do helps them know what to expect + it helps me stay focused too. Going from 1 thing to another is not easy – there too – slowing down is usually a good place to start

5. Acknowledgment

Acknowledgment is fundamental. It can take a while, but once you master – you master for life. I would define Acknowledgment by recognizing, accepting and validating the other person feelings or behavior – it doesn’t mean you agree with it, it means that you understand and accept that the other person have other opinions than yours and that he/she has the right to fully express them, that you accept your child displeasure instead of trying to make it go away or telling your child what to feel instead.

Once I understood that tantrums or all other behaviors were not personal, it helped me being present for my child – it helped me stay connected instead of disconnected.

6. Say thank you

I try very hard to focus on how blessed I am instead of How stressed I am. It slowly changes my mindset.

It requires awareness and attention, and even those are very little steps, I know they can make a difference. I believe that day by day, step by step, it is possible to make a difference. I have decided to focus on spending my time right, and enjoying. Focus on those little moments, on those little smiles and welcome them because those are the moments that matter.

 

Enjoy more, do less ♥

The best thing that you give to children is time…

 

Fake it until you make it!

be a good mama

Being a parent has become the definition of who I am – I’m Sarah’s mama, this is who I am.

I am a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a “food lover”,… none of those define me better than “being a mother” because being a mother has changed me, none of the other statuses did. It has been hard, it still is – but raising healthy and “happy” children is not easy. There are no shortcuts, no easy way – you do what you have to do Every Single Day.

About a year ago, I started reading parenting blogs, watching video about children development, I started spending every moment that I had on how to improve myself as a mom… as a person. I didn’t know what I was looking for, I didn’t know what to do but I knew while reading that seeing my child as a whole person, who has something to say and deserves to be heard was the way I wanted to follow. I *just* want her to be happy, I want her to be self-confident and self-motivated, I want her to know that she’s enough, that she’s a good person and I wanted her to feel welcomed and loved for who she is – no matter what.

Respectful parenting has become – for me – a goal to achieve, a way of life. I make mistakes, I try my best to fix them – I get angry – a lot: i apologize – a lot, I get frustrated, tired and stressed from time to time but I do the best I can until I know better. There are really great blogs on that matter, a lot of resources can be found. I follow a lot of blogs, I read a lot of stories… the thing is, you have to start somewhere, and starting is always the hardest thing to do.

From all the techniques, tips and stories, I found great comfort and “knew” what to do, but I just didn’t how. How to be respectful? How to set clear boundaries respectfully? what is a limit / boundary anyway?

From there, I searched more… and I couldn’t find how.

I started with 1 element: Make a connection. How? very simple: stop what you’re doing when you talk to your child, give him/her undivided attention. Get own your knees to look into his / her eyes – make eye contact (that implies undivided attention from both side) – seem obvious and easy right? I was amazed that I had to focus on stopping, that it required my attention. And you what, it works. From that point, I stop saying my child “doesn’t listen”, from that moment I knew that the connection has to be readjusted

I took baby steps and when I couldn’t answer the question ” How?”my answer was that: do it anyway, start, adjust when needed… FAKE IT UNTIL YOU MAKE IT! in order to adjust the patterns you have to stop and think

Yes, to me there were no other way. Saying “It’s OK to be scared”, “it’s OK to cry” “oh, I see that you really wanted a 3rd candy, I didn’t give it to you and now you’re upset” and chase lions while all you want to say is “don’t cry, you’re a big girl now, you’re OK, there are no lions in our home” or “it’s just a candy, I’ll fix it for you, take as much as you want” is awkward, it seems fake, unnatural. Soon enough it became mine, my way of thinking, my way of seeing the world around me… all feelings are OK, even the hardest, even the “bad” ones.

If you fell down, you cry and that’s OK. If someone takes from you the most important thing you had, you would feel devastated, and that’s OK – just because the most important thing my child wanted is a candy she didn’t get, doesn’t make the situation easier for her – even if for me, it is “just a candy”. It IS hard to see differently, it is hard to realize that all I’ve been doing to “help”, “make my daughter happy” or “feel safe” made her feel less understood, less confident – and that’s OK, because I did my best until I “knew” better, there is always a wake up call somehow.

The journey is long and full of surprise, but I have set the path and I will fake it until I make it, until I make respectful decisions without even thinking about it.

Fake it until you make it, that is my new way.

 

 

 

Montessori anyone?

montessoriA great friend of mine sent me this video that introduced me to the Montessori approach in just a few minutes. I have heard about the Montessori approach before, and liked it because I thought it was cute – but I just had the vision of small furniture, mattresses on the floor and tiny wooden toys… everything at the child’s level – that was Montessori to me.

Look at those happy and well-behaved kids!

Well, some might say that it’s just a few minutes video, and yes, of course it is – but still, this little Hazel is just amazing. Those little kids are patient, social and they seem to enjoy themselves so much. Little Hazel, finishes what she started and expresses herself so beautifully – she is so proud of herself when she finishes to set the table. Look at the “teachers”, the way they talk is so empowering, they ask questions and listen!

3 months ago, after reading a considerable amount of blogs, tips, parenting approaches summaries and watching educating videos, I found the RIE approach that I could relate to – like a revelation. I feel quite the same about Montessori too… Look at those happy, confident kids, isn’t that beautiful?

Those respectful parenting approaches are just “revolutionary” they look so simple, they make sense to me, and feel so right once I get to know them – yet, they are not intuitive at all as they are the opposite of most new parent instincts… Not helping my child – Is that really what you meant???? no really, seriously????

This system of education is based on two important developmental needs of children:

  1. The need for freedom within limits
  2. A carefully prepared environment which guarantees exposure to materials and experiences.

It is so important because: “The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six. For that is the time when man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement is being formed. But not only his intelligence; the full totality of his psychic powers… At no other age has the child a greater need of an intelligent help, and any obstacle that impedes his creative work will lessen the chance he has of achieving perfection.” (Dr. Montessori)

I want my Sarah to be prepared for life with the best tools – not the best toys, not the best books, not the best clothes… but prepared for life with a great mind and a great attitude toward herself and others. I want her to be confident, respectful, independent yet social and a problem solver… Thank you dear Susanne for this great video, you opened my mind.

Here is the video

Hazel Sets Table from Montessori Guide on Vimeo.

Tomorrow Is Another Day

Tomorrow is another dayAre we really there? I mean, really…

I’ve been reading a great blog lately: Hands Free Mama about being REALLY there, not just there but really there – about making a connection, and basically about the important stuff in life. I can’t really say that my life has changed, but, among the other stuff I’m reading, this blog made me realize that every moment is important – because there is just one today, just ONE

Tomorrow is another day, has always been a sentence I liked. I liked it a lot actually because it meant a lot to me. It was like an excuse to make things better next time, not now, not today. Today, I’m going to let things happen and see how it goes – I’m there anyway. Today, everything will be OK, and of course if not, Tomorrow is another day. So, my day looked like:

  • Today, I yelled, nevermind: Tomorrow is another day.
  • I stayed late at work today, nevermind: Tomorrow is another day
  • I haven’t been paying attention to my husband for the past 2 years… nevermind: Tomorrow is another day
  • I’ve been trying to cope with the whole mamaHood situation, giving a lot of excuses, nevermind: Tomorrow WILL be a better day

This is true, Tomorrow is another day. Assuming that there will be tomorrow, tomorrow I will:

  • Pay attention
  • Make a connection
  • Play
  • Cook / Bake with my daughter
  • ENJOY the day
  • Say I love you
  • Breathe, breathe and breathe some more when she pushes my buttons, be respectful and try to understand her
  • Say YES as much as I can

What different does it make, today – tomorrow? Well, this is what I realized – again, assuming that there will be tomorrow, one day makes a huge difference.

One day made a huge difference when my baby smiled, when my baby crawled, when my baby said “mama”, when my baby talked, my baby walked, when my baby said “I love you” for the 1st time – Just one day! 1 day before all those important days in her life, she didn’t

winnie-the-pooh-today-quote-bigOne day… only 1. So, as there is just 1 today, I want to appreciate it, and if I can I want today to be good.

In order to do all that, today I will learn, today I will read all I can to make a difference. Today I will be kind, respectful to my child. Today I will try to see with her eyes, not mine and show empathy. Today I will play with her, today I will bake a cake with her… Today. Today I will walk to the park, today I will laugh… Today

The paradox is that I want everything today, but big changes can’t be made in a day. So 1 step at a time, I am doing those changes, and I am doing 1 little thing each time… Today

After only 2 months of implementing the basics of RIE and other Positive Parenting basics (really the basics, I’m not ready for the advanced stuff) I really see the difference. I’m calm and more peaceful, which makes today easier… which makes today a better day.

All you need is love

All you need is loveAll you need is love… All you need is love… All you need is love… LOVE, LOVE, LOVE is all you need

If only this was true…

I’ve been learning that the 1st years of a child’s life are critical. Critical because those years are building who this person will be, even as an adult… Knowing that makes every decision critical – not because everything is important, but because you’re building memories, feelings and reactions.

So, All you need is love, patience, confidence, basic understanding of what your child needs, guidance, and of course hope that you’re doing the good thing. All you need is a Zen atmosphere, inner-peace, a great Yes attitude and positiveness…

How hard can this be, well pretty hard, when all you can offer is Love, Love, Love.

How do you get confidence, basic understanding, guidance when you’re a mama for the 1st time?

How can you know that you’re doing great? that you treat your child with respect? that you’re on the right path?

I’ve been asking and getting all kind of advice, all kind of tips that would help me go through everything. I’ve been feeling guilty, feeling a failure of what I thought would come naturally: Why is that so hard, aren’t we supposed to be good mamas? I’ve come to realize that we’re not born mamas, we become mamas – so we learn

I’ve been reading a lot lately and realized that yes: Respect is the key! but then, how do you know how to set limits? how do you know your limits are fair and respectful? well, again: you don’t – you learn!

I’m learning the basics of RIE, and I’m proud of it. How come those principles are not obvious? I feel blessed, and even special that I finally have found what I want to follow…

I’m starting now, because every day counts
Claire H