Parenting kids, Seriously, Parenting Questions, Concerns and Responses

Big Emotions With My 2 Year Old


Question:

I need some advice on how to teach a very emotional 2 year old about emotions, feelings, and calm mindfulness? I am in no way trying to stop her feelings or emotions. I just need help teaching what each emotion means and just helping her understand what feelings are. I could really use some resources or tools to help us!

The Judgemental Mom’s Response:

Start with helping identify her emotions. Talk to her about why she is feeling the way she is and what she “wishes”. Until she is older and commication is more established, I would say back to her what she says for both her sake and yours – to acknowledge you understand how she is feeling and why.

Try not to invalidate her feelings with statements like:
• “you’re okay”
• “it’s not that bad”
• “you just ate, you can’t be hungry”

These statements often don’t have the intention of disregarding their feelings, but this is how they are interpreted by our littles as they take things very literally.

You can respond instead by just acknowledging her feeling:
• “you’re still hungry after all that food”,
• “you sound really hurt”
• “You are frustrated because you still want to play”

You can help her connect with you in these moments and trust you by validating her feelings and letting her know that they have a big importance to her -regardless how miniscule the reason behind her feelings are to an adult.

Some connecting statements in example:
• It must be so FRUSTRATING when you want to finish your show but we have to get going
• I know it’s really DISAPPOINTING for you that you couldn’t have that toy from the store. I WISH that you can have that toy for your birthday!
• I bet when your brother took your book it made you so ANGRY. If someone just took something from me like I would be so mad!

The point in these examples is not encouraging the child’s tough emotions, but connecting WITH the child about their tough emotions.

At this age, your daughter may have a hard time understanding the different emotions. You could start simple, with 4 or 5 main emotions with a picture on the wall to help her find which one she identifies with (shown below).

Even letting them look in the mirror during their upset can be helpful so THEY can see how THEY look. Once you have talked about what happened, help her find how to do something differently or alternatively when possible.

To help her find her stopping point, consider these statements:
• How about you leave your game/show right here, so it will be waiting for you when we get back
• Let’s take a picture of that toy you really want so maybe I can get it for your birthday
• Your brother is still learning about waiting his turn for things. Let’s make sure your spot is saved in the book so when you get it back you can keep reading

Now is also a good age to start reading books about emotions together. Pick a calm time to learn about them though, as littles won’t absorb much in the heat of a feeling.

Some safe ways to express tough emotions:
• Stomping her feet
• Hitting the carpet
• Hitting a pillow
• If she wants to yell, show her how to yell what she’s feeling i.e., “I’m so ANGRY!!” and scream as hard as she can into a pillow.

You may find it beneficial to also begin teaching your daughter breathing exercises. A wonderful tool for guided breathing and meditation for both adults and kids is an app called Relax Melodies, found on the Play Store

Reccomended books about kids and their emotions for parents:

• The Whole Brain Child by Daniel Siegel
• How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Reccomended books about emotions for preschoolers:

• The Feelings Book by Todo Parr
• Happy Hippo Angry Duck by Sandra Boyington
• Moody Monster Manor by Jenn Simon (Scholastic book)
• Baby Faces by Kate Merrit
• When Sophie Gets Angry – Really Really Angry by Molly Bang

For more helpful information regarding children’s big emotions, selecting your response with your children, and guiding them to talk about their struggles, visit https://thejudgementalmom.com/kids-seriously/5/

Parenting kids, Seriously, Parenting Yourself, Seriously

Ways For Kids to Burn Off Energy Indoors


Sometimes being outside isn’t always an option, so kids get pent up energy – resulting in them finding ways to burn off the energy that are often frowned upon or unsafe. While some parents resort to tv, it only temporarily suspends the energy but doesn’t solve the problem itself – that children’s muscles are seeking stimulation for both sensory and growth purposes.


The answer?


What’s called “maximum effort activities”. See below for a list of easy, at-home activities that will burn off some steam.

Parenting kids, Seriously, Parenting Yourself, Seriously, Voice boxing it

8 Benefits of Classical Music


Did you know classical music is soothing for all ages? Both parents and children finding themselves stressed out can try dim lighting and soft classical music – piano is optimum.

Research shows classical music can actually raise dopamine levels too – helping with depressive moods, trouble focusing, over stimulation, and chaotic thoughts.

• Positive auditory sensory stimulation
• Calming
• Clears chaotic thoughts
• Inspiration
• Healing and nurturing to the mental and emotional spirit
• Improves sleep
• Improves focus
• Lowers blood pressure

Reccomendations

Some of my favorites are Claire du Lune and Reverie by debussy, feure de leis by Beethoven, Nocturne by Chopin, BWV 988 by Bach, and Piano Concerto 21 by Mozart.

Parenting kids, Seriously

“Misbehaviour” Could Actually Be a Sign of This…


Children are simple yet complex human beings.  They may be able to talk, ask for food, or ask to go outside, but they still lack the ability to communicate things and feelings they don’t understand. Heck even some adults have this problem! 

When kids (babies, toddlers, preschoolers) can’t communicate what they don’t understand, their body dictates for them on their behalf.

Problem is, they can never understand if we don’t understand either. And then what happens? They grow up to be adults who struggle when their body signals to them urging for “more of this” and “less of that”.

Regardless, all parents should learn about sensory processing so they can better understand their children’s behaviours – or as some would call, misbehaviors. And of course, all parents should contact their doctor if they have any concerns about their child rather than diagnosing them theirselves as they could be missing something bigger.

So let’s talk about SPD.

Anyone can have Sensory Processing Disorder. The name can sound scary as many fear a title that ends with “disorder”. But SPD can be very deceiving, as parents typically see the symptoms as an issue with the child’s behaviour and discipline – and not as symptoms of sensory input and output struggles.

Any child, any human being actually, processes sensory input and output. Kids and babies are especially sensitive to this because, well, everything is developing still.
They don’t necessarily have to have a disorder, per se, to be reacting to their sensory input and output. However, any child that’s more sensitive than others and are more active than others will show signs of under or over stimulation more easily than the rest.

The reality is that any child will start getting restless or irritated from under or over stimulation in one or all of the 8 (not 5) areas of their sensory inputs. Any child can have sensory processing struggles without it being a disorder. Its the degree and frequency of the struggles that determines that its an actual disorder.

The eight areas of sensory input:

• Visual
• Auditory
• Tactile
• Olfactory
• Gustatory
• Vestibular
• Proprioception
• Interoception

For more information about identifying sensory under and over stimulation, I highly recommend the book, “Understanding Your Child’s Sensory Signals” and  “Understanding Your Baby’s Sensory Signals”, both by Angie Voss, OTR.

Parenting kids, Seriously, Parenting Yourself, Seriously, Voice boxing it

Rome Wasn’t Built In a Day


Many parents that grew up in an athoritarian, strict, cold environment remember how difficult it was on them as kids, and chose to parent differently with their own kids.

Those parents face many hard situations feeling alone, as they try to teach their children understanding, empathy, compassion, and patience in situations when big emotions are being felt because they lack some of these skills themselves.

If you’re not sure if this is you, you can read up here on what it’s like to have unknown, unresolved issues from your childhood.

It’s hard to parent differently, because we only know what we have been taught. So I’m just here to remind you today, that you’re not alone with this battle to do better than what you know, and that your efforts alone are doing great work for your babies and future generations.

Don’t listen to those voices telling you “its not working”, or “you’re spoiling your kids”, or “you need to be harder on them”.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. 💕💕

Parenting kids, Seriously, Parenting Questions, Concerns and Responses, Parenting Yourself, Seriously, Voice boxing it

Parenting Regimen and Origin


Hello everyone! I have created a short survey/questionnaire so I can learn more about other parents. It is completely anonymous and I would greatly appreciate all responses.

Thank you!

Parenting kids, Seriously, Parenting Yourself, Seriously

Adversarial Relationships


(Synopsis from Raising Your Spirited: Chapter 6)

Researchers tell us that when we get caught in an adversarial relationship with our children, we end up with more, not fewer, behavioural issues in the long run. More troubling, we fall out of love with our sons and daughters.

Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

When parents let their emotions get to them during situations with their kids (when they are not doing what the parents want), it begins to wear away at the relationship between the parent and child.

It can be frustrating when your child is refusing to get their shoes on, or get out the door or follow your plans for the day. You tell them once, you told them twice, and by the third time you’re screaming through tight lips, and they are returning the disposition because their agendas are different than yours. When parents allow the frustration and heightened emotions to take over them, they end up taking a step back from their relationship because they are trying to control the situation by controlling the child. Often with parents it comes down to putting threats or manipulation on the table, such as, “if you don’t put your shoes on right now, no more TV for the rest of the day!” Or, “if you put your shoes on and get in the car, you can have some juice”.

Oftentimes there’s no acknowledgement of the child’s agenda or feelings. Which in turn heightens the child’s want to push them away, especially in the moment, and disregard the parent’s wishes to do as they wish.

Until children are afraid of their parents, they will match the attitude and responses presented.

It’s not about obedience, its about kids’ feeling respected and heard, and not understanding why their parent’s agenda is more important than their own.

At the end of it, both parent and child are worn down from the intense emotions and situation; feeling emotionally bruised and battered as well as distanced from each other.

Have you ever wondered whether parents who always seem to stay calm, have a secret?

They do. It’s how they view their child.

So how do you change these outcomes in the situations? You have to enter them and exit them with your energy being calm. With your body and mind being peaceful. With calm energy you are focussed on each other; able to listen and enjoy each other’s presence. You can ask your daughter to get in the car and she simply does it. Or if she resists it,

you are able to think quickly enough to squat down on her eye level and commiserate with her about how frustrating it is to discontinue her activity, and then help her find a stopping point.

The two of you remain calm, listen to one another, and work together. The power struggle never occurs. There never has to be a power struggle.

Remember to pay attention to your interpretation of your child’s reactions.

As Author and Doctor Mary Sheedy Kurcinka writes, parents are quick to assume that: she’s manipulating me, he’s testing me, he’s being defiant, he doesn’t like me, she’s being out of control, she’s trying to get away with everything, he intentionally makes me late for work.

We need to realize that children lack the ability to communicate what their heart and mind truly desires. So their body shows it in their actions. They don’t have the reasoning of an adult. We all know an adult would think to themselves, “well I don’t want to be passive aggressive, or even outright aggressive, I should just tell them how I’m feeling” right? Your job as parents to teach them how to do that

I’ve learned that sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.”

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Dr. Kurcinka is an award-winning lecturer and parent educator. She provides private consultations and workshops nationally and internationally for parents and professionals serving Children.

For more information, learning, and material from Dr. Kurcinka, visit http://www.parentchildhelp.com

Parenting kids, Seriously

Is your instinct to tell kids that they’re okay?


When kids are upset, is it your instinct to tell them that they’re okay?

Whether a child (or anyone really) is physically or emotionally hurt, it is really important for you to recognize how they feel and validate that. Help them label how they’re feeling so they can learn to acknowledge what emotions they are feeling. Acknowledge that it is tough. Walk them through how they’re feeling, what made them feel that way, what happened after, etc.; They need to know that it’s okay not to feel okay – no matter how minor it is. It is up to you as a parent to teach them that.

What happens when kids are told they are feeling something that they actually aren’t?

It hinders their reality of how they’re feeling – in that moment and during future moments to come. As they grow up, they begin to question how they’re feeling. They deny how they’re feeling and push themselves through emotions that sometimes they shouldn’t ignore.

What would you tell an adult who is clearly upset or burning out, but is powering through because they keep telling themselves that they are okay even though they are not?

When you tell kids that they’re okay when they’re not feeling okay, they grow up to tell themselves that they’re okay when they’re not actually – in much bigger situations than just spilling their milk. Emotions and feelings are there for a reason, your body is meant to acknowledge them. Our role as parents is to help them not feel so overwhelmed by emotions and/or at the least, accept them for what they are.
Maybe the next time your little one – or your kids of any age – are upset, try asking them, “Are you okay?” instead of telling them “You are okay.” Let them, tell you, how they feel. Help them recognize what they are feeling. If they’re not sure, help them out by asking them, “Did that scare you?”, “Did you get hurt?”, “Do you feel sad?”.

You can also find an emotions wheel chart for examples here.


Many times kids can also just get overwhelmed with whatever made them feel the way they did, plus the feeling that it caused. You can help them through storytelling. Going through everything that happened and then reminding them how it ended with love and support. I.e., “I know that was scary and you got hurt. When Mommy/Daddy saw/heard I picked you up and held you tight.”

For younger kids, CoComelon has a great clip on YouTube called “The Boo-Boo Song” which shows kids the start-to-finish of a situation in which someone gets hurts and their parents look after them.

So what are the more positive notes about accepting kids’ feelings?

  • They learn to trust their instincts, respecting their bodies natural responses wired intentionally to guide them.
  • They learn to respect their own boundaries, saying “no” when needed.
  • They learn to not bottle up their emotions.
  • They learn to reach out for support and help when needed.
  • They learn to communicate their feelings and needs.
  • They learn its okay not to always feel okay.

What can we say instead?

You might be wondering, well what am I supposed to say anymore if my child fell down, or got up hurt, or is upset? Just so you know, it’s not always easy to rewire or automatic responses. Especially when your intentions never were to dismiss their feelings. No one expects you to wake up the next day and just drop all your other habits that you learned from growing up. For starters, you have to be patient with yourself. If you find it difficult to remember that it’s time to focus on changing somw of your automatic responses, pick one and try to use it throughout the day in any scenario. If you catch yourself saying “it’s/you’re okay”, try to just follow up with the alternative language after. Here are some examples of phrases you can start with.

  • Uh oh
  • I know (in an understanding tone)
  • Did you get hurt?
  • Are you okay?
  • What happened?
  • Can you tell me about it?
  • That was scary
  • I see you’re upset/sad/really excited/angry/scared
  • It’s hard
  • I’m here
  • You fell down/hit your toe/bonked your head/etc.
  • You really want ______, but right now we are going to _______.

Interested in a little extra reading material?

A great, easy book to read and understand that I highly suggest to any parent is “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, & Listen So Kids Will Talk”. Information about this book can be found in my Goodreads widget at the very bottom of this page!

Parenting kids, Seriously, Parenting Yourself, Seriously, Voice boxing it

Emotional Dysregulation And Invalidating Environments


Emotional vulnerability is emotional sensitivity, emotional reactivity, and a slow return to emotional baseline.
(Linehan 1993a)

An invalidating environment is when people/parents tell you you’re wrong for experiencing your emotions. They may even punish you or ignore you when you get emotional. In some cases, people may acknowledge your emotions, but in a case where they are the ones causing them, they will not stop and instead keep doing what they’re doing to hurt you.

Another example of an invalidating environment, is when you are punished for being defensive or reacting in a defensive or emotional way during a conversation or argument. For example, if someone does or says something and you tell them that’s not fair to you or that what they have done has hurt you and their response is ‘waah, it’s all about you isn’t’, then in turn you get defensive and upset because they didn’t care how you felt, and finally their response is ‘i’m not your emotional punching bag’.

This will make anyone go crazy.

Now put someone like a child a who naturally is emotionally dysregulated and its adults jobs to guide them into regulation.

Invalidating children and any adult plants a seed of mental distress and disorders; that over time, without help and WITH persistent unhelpful invalidating environments, blossom into a plethora of mental and emotional struggles.