I saw your post Giggle Parenting – The Best Discipline Tool Out There!. I’m facing a huge challenge with my three year old. Im finding it hard to connect with her.
A little backstory almost fourteen months ago I had her sister first two weeks after she was born i was bed bound so my mil stepped in and took over the care for my oldest, rules were changed etc. Then both girls got sick my oldest with pneumonia and my youngest with rhinovirus.
At three weeks old my youngest ended up in nicu an hour away. I stayed with her the whole time as i nurse and she needed me. I had to abruptly stop breastfeeding my oldest and literally was home one day gone the next morning as i had to take her sister to er then my youngest was airlifted out to the nicu. My husband ended up taking off work to take care of my oldest as mil had left by that time. Again rules got changed. Baby was in nicu a little over a week.
Fast forward and i have had to deal with ppd and ptsd. My daughter doesn’t listen to me everything is a struggle, eating, hair brushing, listening etc. She throws massive screaming fits.she hits me bites me, screams at me, throws stuff. I am at a loss as to what to try. I believe firmly in gentle parenting. I feel as though nothing is working and im getting very frustrated and heart broken as to how to rebond, be an authority figure. I hope this novel makes sense, and would appreciate any tips.I should also mention im a stay at home mom. My husband works from six am to five thirty pm.
Dear R, I’m so sorry you had such a tough time, with so many difficult and stressful events. I so admire you for sticking to believing in gentle parenting, despite so many challenges. And I’m so glad you’re reaching out for some solutions.
Giggle parenting can really help when we are locked in power struggles with our children. So for example when your daughter doesn’t want her hair brushed you can try making mistakes that get her laughing (Hand in Hand parenting calls this playlistening).
You could tell her ‘’come on now lets brush your hair,’’ in a serious (but playful voice) and then end up brushing your own instead, and say ‘’oh whoops! That’s not right I meant to brush your hair, not mine!’’ You can repeat this as long as she’s laughing and try variations. For example say, ‘’okay now I’m really going to brush your hair’’ and then go and pick up a teddy or doll instead, and then start brushing, and then notice your mistake and then say, ‘’Oh no! I don’t believe it! I did it wrong again.’’
My daughter loves it when these games get wild and outlandish, and involve running around our apartment giggling. You could even try brushing all different objects such as the sofa, dining room tables, fridge etc. All of those giggle build connection.
These games can take a bit of time, so you need to play them when you aren’t in a massive rush to go out and when you know you’ve got enough patience. When you first introduce giggle parenting, you may find that your child wants to play and play endlessly, because they want to soak up all that warm attention, particularly after difficult times. But, each time you play and laugh like this it is an investment in the future co-operation of your child. If you are pushed for time, just sprinkling a few giggles here and there also helps.
Here are some articles that might help you. This one is about using laughter to help with power struggles. This one is all sorts of playful ways to channel children’s aggression into play.Here’s one on playful ways to help with eating. And this one is a story of my own journey when my daughter was biting me on a daily basis, and how laughter and listening to feelings helped.
There is one disclaimer I should mention about giggle parenting, and that is that although it can help almost all behaviour challenges, it is only part of the solution. Sometimes what happens is that after children laugh a lot, their feelings bubble up to the surface, feelings they need to process about times that were not so fun and joyful.
My blog is all about how crying is a healing process, and that there are actually stress hormones released when children cry. You might find that after laughing a lot your daughter has a big meltdown about something seemingly small, like the wrong colour socks or a broken biscuit. Often this small reason is just a bigger trigger for deeper feelings. If you can stay and listen, giving cuddles when needed, and let your child get to the end of a cry, rather than trying to distract or stop the emotions then this can help her heal from the difficult times she experienced.
All of this emotional work isn’t easy for us parents. To keep coming back to our child’s challenging behaviour with love and connection is hard for us, often because we didn’t get this kind of deep attention when we were children, and we have emotional challenges of our own.
Hand in Hand parenting works well when we can also nurture ourselves as parents. One of the ways we can do that is with talking with another parent who understands the Hand in Hand parenting approach to listening and supporting parents. You can do this through workshops or consultations with a Hand in Hand parenting instructor. There is also a free listening partnership scheme where you can arrange to exchange time with another parent talking and listening so that we can de-stress about parenting. This can really help fuel us with the energy and creativity we need for giggle parenting, so we can be the parent we want to be. You can read more about listening partnerships here.
It’s always possible to recover and repair to rebuild our connection with our children, and I hope these ideas are helpful. Feel free to get back in touch if you are looking for more resources and support, and check out the main Hand in Hand parenting website here, which has a vast collection of articles about different parenting challenges.
Related Posts – Giggle Parenting – The Best Discipline Tool Out There!
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For further reading Larry Cohen’s Playful Parenting is packed full of Giggle Parenting ideas.