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 Questions, Concerns and Responses

Should We Get A Play Kitchen?


Question:

My son is very very interested in pretend cooking. He’s 19 months old. I am leaning towards getting a play kitchen. But at the same time I am aware that I don’t want to invest in another toy that takes up space and isn’t open ended. Any other ideas to offer the same experience without actually buying a play kitchen?

The Judgemental Mom’s Response:

Let him cook with you.
Show him how to take a piece of bread of out of the bag and put it in the toaster and push it down.
Let him try to butter his toast/crackers, what-have-you. Get him in on baking and mixing – get the the ingredients ready in their own dishes before hand so that when you start you just instruct your LO what to put in first and when to stir. If you’re making muffins or something, let him fill up the muffin tray with the batter he made. Let him help you put away some groceries. If you’re making a can of soup you can show him how to open the can, pour it into the pot, fill the can with water , add it to the pot, stir, then put it on the stove (I would do the stove stuff of course until they’re more familiar).
That sort of thing.

But if this is what you already do, do you have any extra cabinet or drawer space you could make available to him? Something that he could use as a pretend kitchen area for him when he wants to? We happened to have extra space in our kitchen for this, so we dedicated a lower cupboard and two drawers to our little one that he pretends is a fridge and stove. Then we put his table and chairs in there as well so that he could use them as “counter space” when he was in the kitchen-play mood.

If you want to get creative with it, you could even draw and cut out some appliance accents and tape them to the cabinet for added kitchen theme. Like making pretend knobs or fridge handles to put on the draws and cabinet doors. You could even print off pictures of some things and tape them the wall. Utilize a small carboard box and make it into a microwave. All the fancy toys out there do not always satisfy a child’s imagination and creativity! Often it is more fun for them when they get to use the real items in their pretend play.

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.