10 Ways That Laughter Can Transform Your Day

swinggiggles2

In our lives with a young child there may be many challenging moments, that make us feel stressed out, serious and frustrated, getting locked in a power struggle with our kids. A lot of these occur when we want our child to do something that they don’t want to do. The more we try to force the issue the more our child resists.

Hand in Hand parenting, is all about redistributing the power balance, being flexible with our kids, and then seeing their own flexibility and natural co-operation shining through.

Playlistening is what we call it, when we put ourselves in the less powerful role, to get the giggles going. Laughter releases the tension our child feels and builds connection between ourselves and our child. After a bit of laughter our child is often much more likely to co-operate with us. It’s a powerful effective way to get out of a power struggle and on with the day.

Here are ten awkward moments where laughter can save the day. Repeat as necessary until the giggles (or you!) are exhausted.

  1. Getting Dressed – If you’re toddler’s refusing to get dressed it can leave you feeling irritated and impatient, but luckily there’s plenty of fuel for giggles in the dressing process. Try putting on a ‘serious,’ voice and say, ”come on now lets put these trousers on’ and end up putting them on their arms. Put their socks on their hands, or their pants on their head. Put their cardigan on back to front, or their feet in the arm holes. Children absolutely love it when we make mistakes. It helps to build their confidence when they can be the competent one, telling us that we are getting it all wrong. And then they’ll be sure to tell us the right way to put on their clothes, and maybe even co-operate!
  2. Brushing Hair – When my daughter refused to let me brush her hair she would instantly change her mind if a teddy or doll wanted to do it. Somehow the teddy was always much more gentle than me, and never accidentally pulled too hard. If a bit of laughter is needed try brushing your child’s hair with other household objects like a spoon or a sock, and then exclaim, ”Oh dear! That’s not a hairbrush, I keep getting it wrong.”
  3. Getting Out of The House – Grab a teddy or doll, and try to put your child’s coat and shoes on. Take them to do the door, and say ”come on (child’s name) it’s time to go,” then suddenly realise your mistake, and exclaim, ‘oh dear, that’s not the right person! Let me try again.”
  4. During Mealtimes – Toddler’s can be fussy, and often their fears and anxieties can be projected onto food. Put yourself in the less powerful role, by being playfully afraid of your food. Pick up a fork of food, scrunch up your nose and ”oooh I don’t know what this strange food is.” Or try picking food up with your fork, and keep dropping it by ‘mistake.’ Or try feeding your ears or nose, and then exclaim with mock frustration that you keep getting it wrong. After a few giggles your toddler may forget all about being cautious and get on with the meal.
  5. If your toddler is having trouble sharing – then grab an object and say invitingly, this is my car/doll/toy, and I don’t want anyone to take it off me. Let your child creep up to you, grab the object and run away. Chase them but always let them win, so they are the powerful role. Repeat with another object or the same one if they put it down. This and similar games help your child to release competitive feelings and be more generous with friends.
  6. When your toddler’s being clingy – Say, ”oh there’s a baby stuck to me, how did she get there? ” Try to unstick yourself but always let them win. As you shower them in playful affection, they can release their clingyness with giggles.
  7. If your toddler is aggressive – then turn the tables around, and let them fight you. Playfully catch their kicks, or punches, have a pillow fight, or try some roughousing which has been shown to reduce aggression in children. Giving children an outlet for their feelings in play with you, means they don’t need to bring them up with other children.
  8. When your toddler is whiny or moaning, or complaining abut being bored – Have a clothes fight! Grab some clothes, and divide family members into teams. Have one team on a bed trying to throw clothes onto the floor, and another team on the floor trying to throw the clothes onto the bed. This is a great mood shifter. Let the fun and giggles commence!
  9. Cleaning Teeth – Pretend to clean your kids ears, or nose, and keep exclaiming that you are getting it wrong. Or try to brush your kid’s teeth and end up with a flying toothbrush that keeps landing in surprising places like the bath, sink, or even another room instead of your child’s mouth.
  10. Bedtime – When there’s still time to play in the evening, put your child into their bed, and then say invitingly, ”I hope you don’t get out of bed ” and leave the door open, as you leave. Let them run out of the room and appear. Act all surprised and then say, ”oh dear, I better get you back to bed again.” Repeat until any excess energy or tension has disappeared, and your child is happy to go to sleep for real. Laughter induces melatonin the sleep hormone, so this is the perfect way to end the day.

I hope this list makes your day go more smoothly. Are there any other scenarios that you’d like a ‘laughter cure’ for? Leave me a comment, and I’ll try to think up some games!

For more info about the Hand in Hand approach to aggression check out their online self-study course, Help Your Child With Aggression

Diary of an imperfect mum

10 Ways To Use Special Time To Transform Your Day

 

specitla

Special time is a simple yet powerful tool that can transform family life. Simply tell your child they have 10-15 minutes to do whatever they like with you there to shower them with warmth love and attention.

Set a timer so you and your child has a clear idea of how long it will last. Don’t skip this step! There’s something magical that happens when we put the timer on, and set the intention to really give our child our complete  attention. No mobile phone checking or dinner preparing allowed!

Here are ten ways that you can use short bursts of special time to transform your day, and make things go more smoothly. Even 5-10 minutes can make a difference.

  1. First thing in the morning – If we have to rush out of the house to go to daycare and school then our focus can be on results rather than connection. But before trying to persuade our child to get dressed, brush hair and clean teeth, it can be really powerful to start the day on their terms instead. Connection builds co-operation with our children. It’s been scientifically proven. So if we spend 5-10 minutes doing special time, we’ll often find that it’s an investment of time that makes our kids more likely to co-operate when we tell them to get dressed etc. I love this story of how just 5 minutes can make a difference.
  2. Before doing household chores – When we do special time with our children something magical happens. They begin to internalise that close connection with us, so that after special time is finished they’ll be more likely to be happy to continue to play independently while we get on with a bit of cooking and tidying up. You can read more in  this story. This isn’t 100% guaranteed to happen all of the time. Sometimes our kids might be upset that special time has finished. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After soaking up our warm attention often children’s feelings of upset bubble up to the surface, and crying can be a healing process to let them go so they feel better connected to us. Staylistening through the upset can help us stay calm until we get to the other side.
  3. Coming home at the end of the day After a busy day out of the house, whether or not that involves being separated from us, our children may hunger for some warm 1-1 time with us. Special time can act as a bridge between the outside world and home life, helping our child to relax, and get connected to us again.
  4. When your child is whiney, moany or acting off-track – The brain science behind children’s ‘misbehaviour’ points to the fact that they don’t want to act in ways that drive us crazy. It’s just that when children feel disconnected from us, they literally can’t think. The emotional part of their brain, the limbic system senses a kind of ’emotional emergency’ so the pre-frontal cortex – the part of the brain responsible for rationalising and reasoning can’t function well. When children act off-track it’s like they’re sending a red flag saying, ”hey I can’t think I need some connection!” Giving special time during these moments is the ultimate unconditional connection, so our children know we will be there for them no matter how off-track they are. They can soak up our connection, and that along with the other Hand in Hand parenting listening tools is how their behaviour gets back on track.
  5. When you are feeling slightly off-track If you are not having a good day, and are feeling a bit low yourself, but still have a bit of attention to give, then special time can help the parent too! Just like our children long for deep, quality attention with us, we also of course long for those deep, connections with our children. It’s just that sometimes our own responsibilities, and stress can make it hard to give. If we take a leap, and offer a short 1o minute special time, then we get to soak up that warm sense of connection too. If even a short special time feels like too much, then we have a tool that can help!
  6. Before a playdate or when company are coming over Does your child have trouble sharing when their friends come over? Or do they struggle to let you have an adult conversation when extended family or your friends are round? Special time can help to give your child the warm sense of connection they need to be able to share you with others. Also when children are well-connected they can think well, they’ll be more likely to be able to share their toys naturally without us having to persuade them to do so.
  7. Before bed – Children experience sleep as a separation, and often it’s late at night that feelings bubble up that they need our help to deal with. Adding 5 or 10 minutes of special time to our evening routine can be really helpful for children who take a long time to fall asleep, or wake in the night. They internalise a close connection with us, so don’t wake in the night feeling disconnected and needing us.
  8. When you need your child to do something and they aren’t co-operating – If you need to leave the house, or brush your child’s hair and they just aren’t co-operating then special time can help you both take a breather from a frustrating power struggle. After a short special time, they may be feeling more connected and be more able to co-operate with you.
  9. If your child has been watching TV or using electronics – Sometimes the lure of a screen can make our children feel disconnected from us. They don’t seem to ask or need our connection as much while they’re having screen time, but later they may need an extra dose of connection with us. If I’m worried my daughter’s been glued to the screen a lot. I’ll offer her special time, and she often prefers this to TV! I just need enough energy myself to be able to give attention rather than rely on an ‘electronic babysitter.’ Listening time is essential!
  10. If you need to go out – So if you’re lucky enough to have the time and energy for a date night, or night out with friends, then special time can be the perfect way to say goodbye. A 5-10 minute dose of quality attention, can help your child to internalise that deep sense of connection with you, so even if you’re away for an evening or a night, they feel safe and secure.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of ways to make special time a part of your daily life.  Feel free to comment if you have any stories or questions. I’d love to hear how you get on with this wonderful tool!

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Tiny Tips Tuesday: 19 Tips for Taking Care of Yourself While Also Taking Care of Your Loved Ones

great tips for parents to build support for ourselves and each other. We need it!

Teacher Goes Back to School

Dear Friend,

I am not going to lie. This past week was HARD. Quite possibly one of the hardest of my life. Something about parenting a small child while being far away from my own ailing mama plus the reality of our situation settling in and really making itself known. And let’s not forget the seemingly never ending cold virus.

Today I offer you some tips on taking care of yourself while in the middle of taking care of the people you love.

[DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional and if you are in crisis please seek immediate medical attention from a medical professional.]

A vast majority of these helpful ideas were crowd-sourced from my Facebook friends, many of whom have experienced parenting while caring for their own parents through long-term illness and transitioning into end of life.

I offer these tips to you because they’ve already begun to…

View original post 832 more words

How Setting Limits Can Heal Separation Anxiety

 

 

 

Patty Wipfler says that setting limits can be like a gift to our children. Here’s one example of how the Hand in Hand Parenting approach to setting limits works.

I am a full time mum to my 2 year old daughter, but occasionally I have to go to an all day meeting for my freelance work as an editor. Yesterday was one of those days, and my friend would be babysitting her. She has a daughter the same age as mine and they are ‘best friends.’ Before the day I’d talked a lot with my daughter about how she was going to the zoo with our friends, to prepare her, and check in to see how she felt about the separation. She always had a big smile on her face when I talked about it. When we met my friend to drop her off my daughter was so excited, and when I strapped her into my friend’s car seat, and continued chatting for a bit, my daughter pushed me away and said ‘bye.’ It was clear she wanted met to go so she could start her adventure! I felt so relieved.

When I got home in the evening my daughter was happy and animated, telling me about everything they’d done. It was clear she’d had a great time.

Then she started asking if she could play with my mobile phone, which I’ve been letting her do recently for our special time. She seemed really desperate to have it, and often I notice this desperation, when it’s not really about the thing she wants, but the feelings behind it. I decided to set a limit, and told her that she couldn’t play with my phone now. I felt like we needed some time to reconnect free of technology! She started to cry, and my husband picked her up. She started saying she wanted the phone, but then as she continued crying, she said, ”I want my mummy.” It became clear the feelings weren’t really about  the phone, but I assumed because she’d missed me a bit in the day. I held her and gave her lots of hugs till she felt better.

Thanks to learning about the Hand in Hand listening tool of setting limits, I could see when I could say no to something, and it could be like a gift to her, helping us connect so she could show me how she really felt. It had been a great adventure for her to spend the day away from me, but I guess because it was something new and different she had mixed feelings about it too. We felt close and connected for the rest of the evening, and I spent lots of time, reading books, playing and laughing. This morning she was joking about mummy saying bye bye, so she could go off with her friend again!

I’m really grateful to have learnt the Hand in Hand parenting tools, to know that releasing feelings  is a natural part of helping our children grow in confidence so they can take little steps away from us as they grow older.

Here’s some tips for helping with separation anxiety.

  1. Prepare your child beforehand. Even if they’re young, talk about where you’re going and how long the separation will last. If it’s an unusual separation that doesn’t normally happen you might want to start talking to them a week or so in advance. Sometimes hearing about the separation might bring up strong feelings. Listen to your child – Hand in Hand calls this staylistening) to help them release their anxiety. This can help your child to feel confident about the separation by the time it comes around.
  2. Have a long goodbye. It’s common that if our child gets upset when we separate from them we may be encouraged to rush off, and hear from the caregiver that they stopped crying once we left, and were fine. However we may find, that our child continues to get upset when we leave, or shows other signs of separation anxiety such as clingyness. If we take the time to listen and have a long goodbye with our child, then they can fully release their feelings, about how it feels to separate from us. Once their mind is no longer clouded by feelings of upset, they can think clearly, be confident we will return, and feel okay with us leaving. You can read more about the long goodbye here.
  3. Be Prepared For Feelings When We Return. Even if our child was fine with us leaving, they may have some feelings of upset that come up when we return. As in my example above these feelings may be projected onto a ‘pretext’ that masks the real reason for the upset. If our child seems to have strong feelings about something small there may be a deeper reason for the upset, we can try to set limits, and listen to the feelings to help our child heal.

Separation anxiety can make us feel powerless or guilty. We often feel like we have two choices. Either we stay with our clingy child even though we desperately need some ‘me’ time.

Or we rush away , feeling bad about our child’s protests about our leaving.

With Hand in Hand Parenting there is a third way, with setting limits and listening to feelings, we can both be at peace with separation.

Learn more –You can download a free setting limits booklet, from Hand in Hand parenting. There are also online self-study courses on Setting limits and Say Goodbye To Separation Anxiety.

You can also check out the separation anxiety chapter in my book Tears Heal: How to listen to our children