Posts Tagged ‘coping’

When Big Brother or Sister Goes Off to School

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

When Big Brother or Sister Goes off to SchoolThis summer, my soon-to-be kindergartener went to summer school to get ready for the big K. It was only two hours a day, but I was curious to see how my other kids would react to having her gone. We have all been home together for most of my kids’ lives, so I anticipated a big change.

I did see some big changes, but they weren’t what I expected.

  • Some kids may not notice. My toddler just isn’t old enough to express any changes she noticed in our day, and really, not much changed. We still went to the park, she still took naps, we still ate lunch together.
  • Some kids may ask about them. My three year old definitely missed older sister. She wasn’t upset by the change, but she did ask where Maisie was several times a day. It was so fun to see her run to greet Maisie when the bus came, but I had to be very careful about pick up and not letting little sister get too close to the bus lest she think she could hitch a ride with sister.
  • Some things will be easier without your oldest around. The younger kids don’t realize that they can ask for snacks, drinks, to go places and do other things. They are more used to just coming along for the ride and doing what they’re told. So I found I was more easily able to set them up with an activity and get things started, and then step away to get things done around the house or work on the computer for a bit without being interrupted. Of course, we’re talking about 10 minutes at a time or so, but I’ll take it.
  • Some things are actually much harder without your oldest. I did think maybe the grocery store would be easier with fewer kids, but I was wrong. So wrong. I highly underestimated how much calming, negotiating and entertaining my oldest did on trips to the store. She often convinced the three year old to stay put and entertained her by singing songs or making up stories while I flew through the store as fast as humanly possible. Without the distraction of big sister, the store was much harder.
  • It brings new energy to your house. Having someone come home in the middle of the afternoon makes the day a little different. Sometimes big sister would come home bubbly and full of things to tell me and ideas to play and pretend, and sometimes she would come home completely pooped and drained of energy. I found an afterschool snack helped mitigate the ulcer hour-ness of this time. (We generally don’t snack because with three kids in the house, I’d be playing waiter ALL day long.) It also helped bring a little routine to this time when I didn’t know what to expect from the day at school.

Here’s how you can help a toddler who really misses big brother or sister or is upset by the new change in routine:

  • Include them in the big celebration. When big brother or sister goes back to school shopping, grab some items for little brother or sister, too. Coloring books, crayons, maybe even a “back to school” shirt that they can wear the first day of school to see off their older sibling. Kids hate feeling left out, no matter how young they are.
  • Keep a routine. Routines are so helpful for toddlers and preschoolers. Have a general order in which you do things each day, and including seeing off your older child in that routine. Whether it’s going by the park after pick-up or getting out the crayons after the bus comes, giving your little something to look forward to makes them feel happy rather than sad when big brother or sister leaves.
  • Listen. You don’t have to make everything better. If your little one is old enough to put their feelings into words, listen to them. Tell them that you miss your big kid too, but that you are so glad to have big-kid time alone with them! I know so many of us experience mama-guilt when we have baby number two because we don’t have as much time to devote just to them. This is that time! Find a way for both of you to make the most of it.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.   

Taming Tantrums

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

011Your child’s first birthday has just passed, and you just love all of the smiles and giggles you get from them. All of a sudden, your child starts showing that they have an opinion, in this a voice–a very loud voice. Tantrums begin.

I can remember the moment when my daughter had her first tantrum. Walmart. August ’13. Checkout lane 14. I was so confused. I thought tantrums started at the “terrible twos.” No one told me that a 1-year-old was capable of such drama.

What to Expect at This Age

Little ones 12-18 months old mostly just want to please mommy and daddy. However, they are starting to realize that sometimes you are pleased with their behavior and choices, and other times you are not. Cue meltdowns. Little ones at this age have a wide range of emotions, and they are still too small to understand to express them. Ever been hit, bit, or publicly shamed by your little one? It’s normal. This was not easy for me to accept. I viewed my daughter as an angel. She couldn’t possibly hit her mommy. Then, one day, when mommy didn’t give into what she wanted, she hit me.

The good news is that this too shall pass. As children grow older, they gain the interpersonal skills they need to deal with the little challenges of everyday life—delay of gratification, negotiating, impulse control, communication, and the ability to self-soothe. Tantrums are not done on purpose. They are the only way your child can express themselves when they lack the skills necessary to say what’s wrong.

Practical Tips on Taming Tantrums:

  • Remember your child is trying to tell you something. When little ones can’t express themselves verbally, they act out. Sometimes just acknowledging out loud that they are angry or sad or ready to go can be helpful.
  • Sometimes you just have to ignore the behavior. Crying in Target because mommy won’t buy a certain toy? Ignore. Don’t give into the need for attention. Let your little one know that this is not how you get rewarded.
  • Distract, distract, distract! It’s amazing how easily you can change their focus. Find a new toy. Pick a safer place to play. Cry with them. Make them laugh!
  • Give them a say. Give them some choices and include them in your activity.
  • Reward good behavior. When your child is acting appropriately, praise them. Let them see how much fun it is to make good choices.
  • Keep them safe. Grab their hand while walking. Stop physical behaviors like hitting and biting and have zero tolerance for dangerous behavior towards others. Show them how to touch gently.

And now, the real stuff…

Remember….

  • Don’t make eye contact with strangers during a tantrum—just focus on your child. Retreat if necessary. Chances are you won’t bump into that lady in Walmart ever again, so who cares if she disapproves of your child’s behavior or how you are handling it?
  • It’s okay to just leave if you want. Take your child to the car and leave that shopping cart full of groceries. Moms do it all the time. Kroger will understand.
  • Don’t laugh at your child’s behavior. Just remember that you are supermom. Your cape may have a few snags and wrinkles in it today, but tomorrow is a fresh start.
  • Stop at Starbucks on the way home or your favorite drive-thru for a treat if you need it. It’s okay to take a mommy break. Baristas understand.

Remember moms, you can tame those tantrums! They’re a normal part of growing up, and our kiddos need us to guide them in the right direction.

What’s worked for you?

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of a 23 month old and a brand-new baby boy. She is still figuring it all out and often eats a cookie or two during naptime.