Guys. I have a confession to make. Writing these posts has been
H-A-R-D. Like harder than I imagined, and I imagined that it would be hard.
Once I get writing, the words start to flow, but it's the actual making myself sit down and do it that has been the hard task. Why? I'm not sure. I feel like I should share things I have learned, but sometimes I feel like if I am supposed to be writing these posts, it should be easier, shouldn't it?
*SIGH.* I don't know. Maybe it comes back to the thing that writing posts vs. not writing posts is ALWAYS about...does anyone really care? Is it worth my time to write? The answer to those questions is...I don't know. Maybe I will never know. I guess I will just keep doing what I am doing and someday, maybe I will have an answer to one or both of those questions...
Abbie has been an independent child from the very beginning...from before her life on this earth began, actually. She was an unexpected pregnancy because, as I like to say, "She has been doing exactly what she wants to do from before she was even born."
When Abbie was a baby, it was obviously impossible to know that she was destined to wage a war with anxiety and depression. The only thing we knew for sure was that she was an independent firecracker with a zest for life, intense personality, and highly attuned senses.
Where other kids would simply cry if something was too loud, too bright, or too obnoxious, Abbie would scream and pitch a huge fit. Often times, she would be inconsolable. This was a challenge, to say the very least. It was like parenting a ticking time bomb with no knowledge about when the next explosion would be.
One answer that I kept getting was, "This girl needs her independent spirit to do some really hard and amazing things, so you need to be patient with her."
Okay. Much easier said than done. Especially for a mother who has (or had, I am much better now) a short fuse. Some days would go really well, I was able to stay patient, and deal with the independence in a healthy manner. Other days...not so much. Those were the really hard days; the days I would go to bed in tears because I knew I was the most terrible mother in the world. What mother loses her patience with a baby/toddler? (Well, actually, I think it's safe to say that all mothers have done that at one point or another. The adversary just wanted to make sure that I felt alone in my trials. He's good at that. I don't like that about him.) But, that's a story for another blog post. Let's get on with some suggestions.
Suggestions for Birth-Toddler Years
*Don't forget to breathe.
-Step back. Take some deep breaths. Reset your frustrated brain.
-Not too loud. If you're dealing with a baby/toddler who may have sensory issues, loud music will be a problem. Play around with different genres and artists until you find a style that your baby/toddler reacts calmly to.
*Establish a daily routine, including a bedtime routine.
-I know this is easier said than done a lot of the time. However, the more you can stick to a routine with any baby or toddler, the better. Especially with
a baby who has any sort of sensory issues. Some of the things that Abbie enjoyed with her bedtime routine was a song from mom, a story or two, and
some lavender-scented lotion on her little feet.
*Don't forget to pray.
-Whatever religion you practice, whatever God you believe in, prayer is the key. God knows you and He knows your child. He knows how to help you
become a better parent. Trust in His wisdom and guidance.
This is what I wrote on my family's blog the day Abbie started preschool...
"Yeah! The day has finally come! Abbie started preschool today. I was praying that she would wake up in a good mood so that she would go without crying and my prayers were answered! (Abbie in a bad mood = NO FUN AT ALL!)..."
Well, there you have it. The preschool years were a bit of a struggle. If I would have known then what I know now, I maybe would have been more patient, more understanding. I didn't know that her brain wasn't working properly, I just chalked it up to being a fireball of personality--for good or bad.
But, even if I would have talked to a specialist sooner, I don't know that I would have been willing to do medication. I wasn't there yet. I could have learned better tools, however, which would have saved me a lot of stress and worry myself.
It was during this time that I was introduced to the book, Parenting the Ephraims' Child by Deborah Talmadge and Jaime Theler. It helped me A TON! I highly recommend it if you are experiencing a child with any of these traits:
*Upcoming family vacations involving eating out, amusement parks, condos with balconies, plane rides, or car rides give you nightmares.
*Silence is a foreshadowing of disaster.
*Your child doesn't cry--he wails.
*Taking your child to a movie is more of a workout than going to the gym.
*You are already exhausted by the end of breakfast.
*You are afraid to program your phone's memory dial because you know your child will call Grandma at 5:30 a.m. when he bounds out of bed.
*Your list of instructions to your child takes five minutes. For example: do not hit your brother, or punch him, or kick him, or push him, or head-butt him, or
tackle him; do not get off your bed, take off the blankets, throw pillows, toys, or books into your brother's crib; do not climb on the dresser, pull the
clothes out of the drawers, jump on the bed, yell, kick the wall, open the blinds, or take all your clothes off.
*Your child's whole world crashes because you cut her waffle into bite-size pieces and she wanted it whole.
*During your child's 30-minute TV show he has managed to climb all over every piece of furniture in the room--multiple times.
*Others look at you, shake their heads and say, "You are in for it."
*You receive parenting books for Christmas.
Talmadge, D., & Theler, J. (2004). Parenting the Ephraim's Child (1st ed.). Springville, UT: Horizon. (15-16).
Suggestions for Preschool Years
*Don't forget to breathe.
-Step back. Take a few breaths. Reset your brain.
*Establish a daily routine, especially a bedtime routine.
-Same reasons as the baby/toddler section. Routines are key for kids. "Establishing a consistent routine can reduce some of your child's tyrannical behavior. If he knows what to expect, then he will feel more in control." Talmadge, D., & Theler, J. (2004). Parenting the Ephraim's Child (1st ed.). Springville, UT: Horizon. (151).
-Not too many choices, but offering a couple of different options helps your anxious child to feel more in control of situations.
*Practice Active Listening
-Active listening includes getting down at your child's level; looking them in the eye when you are having a conversation with him/her. Active listening
also includes actually listening and not interrupting. This was one of my pitfalls--I have learned over the years that listening is so much more important
and helpful than constantly interrupting with my "good" ideas.
*Don't forget to pray.
-Again, God knows you and He knows your child. He knows that she has been throwing tantrum after tantrum all day. He knows about the
communication barrier and the high level of frustration. ASK HIM FOR HELP, and then be willing to do what you feel is right, OR accept help from that
neighbor/mom/sister/friend/husband who calls out of the blue and says, "I felt like you needed me today. What can I do to help?"