Giggle Parenting for Night Waking – Reader Question N.O 4

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Hi Kate, I loved your blog post on giggle discipline!

We were wondering if you had any tips for 2 years olds who wake in the night and only want to be comforted by one parent and not the other?

My daughter has a really close relationship with her Dad who does most of the daycare while I work four days a week. But if she wakes at night she cries out for me and screams if her Dad goes to comfort her. My husband used to be able to comfort her wonderfully at night – we think the switch might have happened shortly after she moved from a cot to a bed but we can’t really piece it together.

She also now strongly (and quite vocally!) prefers me to put her to bed at night. Interestingly if I’m away she won’t wake up or will settle very quickly with her Dad – it’s only a problem when I’m here! Thanks! ‘V’

Dear ‘V’,

Thanks for your message. Giggle Parenting is a great resource for helping children to fall asleep easily, and sleep through the night well. Scientific research has shown that laughter actually releases melatonin – the sleep hormone, so adding some giggles to your bedtime routine can be really effective.

Children view sleep as a separation, so laughter play can help give an increased sense of connection so children sleep through the night. Pillow fights, rough-and-tumble, or any ways you can bring laughter into the bedtime routine can be helpful. I wrote a post about sleep and laughter here which has some more suggestions. It might be something that  you or your husband could try so she gradually becomes comfortable with either one of you putting her to bed.

You can also try giggle parenting around the theme of separation at other times of day.  I have a list here of 20 playful solutions for separation anxiety. Some are great if you’ve got a few extra minutes before leaving the house for work, to have a bit of a giggle first. Every little bit helps.

This may help your daughter sleep better, but Giggle Parenting is probably only part of what’s needed. Sometimes upset feelings can bubble up about separation anxiety, which your daughter then attaches to a strong preference to having one parent with her. Sometimes it might actually be helpful to set a limit, and slowly work towards daddy putting her to bed or resettling her in bed.

One thing you could do is to tell your daughter earlier in the evening that daddy will put her to bed that night. Then perhaps you could have a fun, connected, pillow fight where the whole family gets involved.

Then you could gently set a limit with your daughter, and start to leave but listening to any upsets that arise. Crying is actually a healing process for children when there is an adult close by to give them cuddles and empathy. Through crying children can release stress and upset about underlying feelings. If your daughter gets to cry, and express how she feels about separation, while you are close to her, then this can help her to release the feelings that cause her strong preference to be with you in the night. Then she can feel safe and happy to be put to bed by either parent, and she will probably sleep much better too.

I have written a couple of articles for dad’s websites about how this kind of listening approach works. How Staylistening Builds Family Connections, and I only want mummy!

If you’d like to learn more about how listening to feelings helps with sleep you might want to check out my article 5 Sleep Secrets For Peaceful Nights.

I hope these resources help! Let me know how it goes 🙂

Kate

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Have you got a problem you’d like a Giggle Parenting solution for? Leave me a comment or pm me via facebookand your challenge could be the subject of my next post! 

If you’d like an in-depth look at how laughter can solve behavioural challenges, then check out Playful Parenting by Dr. Lawrence J. Cohen. 

Giggle parenting With Squabbling Siblings – Reader Question N.O 3

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‘E’ and ‘C’ wrote to me to ask for some Giggle Parenting solutions for squabbling siblings. Here’s a few suggestions and links for further reading.

I’m actually the parent of an only child but what I realised very quickly was that my daughter would have her sibling rivalry moments with her best friend. I used to look after both girls, and I found laughter was my number one tool for dissolving tension between them.

One of the ways that was really effective was to diffuse the situation by having the two girls conspire against me instead of each other. So if they were fighting over a toy for example I would take another toy and hold it tight, declare it was mine, and say, ”I hope neither of you try and pull this off me. And they would have lots of fun wrestling it off me, letting go of all that tension between them by laughing.

Each time I babysat for my daughter’s best friend I’d cook them dinner, and one of their all-time favourite games was to get musical instruments from a drawer, and come into the kitchen and play them really loudly. I’d cower in the corner, exclaiming, ”oh no! Not those noisy instruments again!”

These scenarios really tick all the boxes for Giggle Parenting, the children are in the more powerful role, and they are united against the adult. Any situation you can orchestrate like this is bound to get your kids giggling.

Although I’m including a few ideas here, a lot of Giggle parenting will be spontaneous and in the moment. For example when my daughter didn’t want to hold hands but her friend did. I could see them both getting grumpy. I suddenly started waving my hand around and declaring, ”please no-one hold my hand!” and trying to run away. Immediately both girls were laughing and trying to grab hold of my hand, and very soon they were best friends again.

When things are all too much you might want to set up a pillow or water fight to release tension, but instead of having the siblings go against each other – have them fight against you. Declare how strong you are, and that no-one can knock you down with a pillow, or tell them you really don’t want to get wet.

For E who has a 4 year old and 16month old, one thing I found that worked really well with a younger toddler is to build a tower out of blocks, and then say to the toddler, ”I hope you don’t knock it down.” Then turn away for a few minutes and look back, and perhaps your toddler will knock it down and run away giggling. Who knows maybe the 4-year old will even join in too.

When children are squabbling, they’re getting into ‘non-thinking’ mode where they can’t always control their behaviour, they need us as the adult to step in, and give them the connection they need to get their thinking back on track. Giggle parenting is a great way to intervene before things escalate. I love this story from Hand in Hand instructor  Kristen Volk, about how she literally gets in between her two children and completely diffuses the situation.

There’s one time when Giggle Parenting isn’t a good idea, and that’s when children are crying, or really upset, and need someone to listen to them. Although Giggle parenting is great for releasing tension, we also need to be where our children are at in this moment. If they need to talk and vent and cry, then sometimes giggling can be a distraction that can make them feel as if they’re not being heard. So we can try to figure out in the moment if giggling is appropriate or not. Crying is also a natural way to release tension that can get in between sibling relationships, so if we can empathise and hear each child’s concerns then this can really help too.

I hope these suggestions help. Have fun giggling!

If you’re looking for more help, check out this fabulous collection of Sibling Rivalry links from Hand in Hand parenting. You can also try their online self-study course Taming Sibling Rivalry, which is full of great solutions.

For further reading Larry Cohen’s Playful Parenting is packed full of Giggle Parenting ideas. 

Do you have a family challenge you’d like to find a Giggle Parenting solution for? Leave me a comment here or PM me via facebook

Giggle Parenting: The Best ‘Discipline’ Tool Out There!

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Laughter is the shortest distance between two people– Victor Borge

Ever since she was old enough to leave me my daughter has gone shopping with her dad on Saturday mornings. She loves it. But one morning when she was two years old she absolutely refused to get dressed. It was clear she really did want to go out, but as soon as I tried to put her clothes on, she would wriggle and run away. I tried reasoning with her, talking in a serious voice, and explaining that if she didn’t get dressed it would be too late to go, but it didn’t work.

I’m sure most parents of toddlers are familiar with a scenario like this. Our child behaves in a way that seems completely irrational. But what can we do about it? The shouting, grumpy approach may work, but we may also get a sinking feeling that it isn’t the best way to go about parenting.

Suddenly I remembered my training as a Hand in Hand parenting instructor!

In that heat of the moment, like any stressed out parent, I sometimes ‘forget’ there is a more effective method. All that rationalising and reasoning with our kids is not the language of children. The language that gets through to children is one of play and laughter.

I began putting my daughter’s socks on her hands and her trousers on her head. She laughed a lot, and I kept repeating this game as she continued to laugh. Then I got her teddy dressed in her clothes, picked him up and said, ‘’Come on R it’s time to go!’’ Then when I got to the front door I would look at the teddy and say, ‘’Oh no! That’s not R that’s Teddy!’’ She would laugh and laugh at my ‘mistake.’

After a few minutes of playing like this she was trying to dress herself. A short while later she left with her dad and I was enjoying a nice, quiet morning to myself.

Believe it or not, toddlers are not completely irrational beings. When children feel closely connected to the adults around them they are naturally, good, loving and co-operative. They don’t actually want to make our lives difficult. They want to get on well with us, and co-operate with daily tasks.

However sometimes their feelings get in the way. When children experience stress or upset, they can no longer feel that sense of close connection. The limbic – the socio-emotional part of the brain senses a kind of ‘emotional emergency’ and the pre-frontal cortex- the part of the brain responsible for rational, reasonable behaviour, can’t function well.

So when a child feels upset they literally can’t think clearly. They can’t listen well to our reasoning. Their behaviour may go off-track because they can’t think through what is appropriate in the moment. In a sense it’s like they’re misbehaviour is like a red flag that they’re sending out saying, ‘’help! I can’t think, I need some connection.’’

When our child is behaving in off-track ways, we literally can’t get through to them by trying to speak to the rational, reasoning side of our child’s brain. We need to speak the language of emotion. With this understanding of emotions we have to have compassion for our children. We have to say goodbye to the old behavioural model of punishment and reward. A lot of the parenting methods out there are about manipulating our child and getting a quick ‘fix’ in the moment. But in the long run these parenting methods actually make things harder because they don’t address the underlying emotional cause of the behaviour.

Luckily, giggle parenting does! It’s fun and simple, way to connect with our children when they are acting off track. And it works. Laughter is a way to release stress and emotions, it lowers blood pressure, releases feel-good endorphins and builds connection between parent and child. When children get well-connected again, they can think and co-operate with us again.

Giggle parenting can be applied to many of the power struggles we face as the parent of a toddler. I remember when my daughter went through a phase where whenever she was her pyjamas come out a bedtime she would make a dash for it, crawling across the floor away from me.

This was a sure sign she still had some energy ready from the rest of the day, need for fun play and connection go with the play, let her laugh and play (and factor in time for that in the bedtime routine, was a sure fire way to help her sleep more deeply (laughter releases melatonin the hormone responsible for sleep), and children sleep better when they feel closely connected to us.

A toothbrush that keeps getting ears, or noses instead of a mouth, or flys out of the bathroom and into random places.

Giggle parenting takes time, but it’s an investment of time. It’s investing in fun and laughter as the currency of parenting. When we sprinkle play and laughter amidst our daily tasks, life goes much more smoothly.

Bribes, rewards, and manipulation creates a more transactional relationship, where both parent and child are thinking about what they want to ‘get’ out of a situation. These short-term fixes also don’t address the underlying feelings that caused the behaviour.

Giggle parenting strengthens the connection between you and your child. laughter and play, is about building the relationship, and releasing the feelings that get in the way of your child feeling closely connected to you.

It means that you save time in the long run, because children won’t need to giggle to get everything done. so when you ask them to get dressed they co-operate without a fuss, at least- most of the time!

They internalise the deep sense of fun and love and connection they have with you. And a laugh and a fun today, can cement the close connections, to stay close to your kids beyond toddlerhood, into the teenage years and beyond. Laughter is how we build relationships.

Disclaimer! Sometimes parents warn children away from laughter play. We all know the saying, “It’ll all end in tears.’’ It’s worth bearing in mind that if our child gets upset shortly after laughing a lot (or the next day), it’s not necessarily a sign that there’s anything wrong in the present moment.

Play and connection give children the sense that we are available to listen to them, and they may bring up feelings that have been simmering under the surface. Tears have been found to contain the stress hormone cortisol, so  children, and even adults! cry for what seems like no apparent reason (or for a small and petty reason!), because they are releasing stress. It could be from an over-stimulating day or from any big or small upsets that they have experienced in the past.

Being there to listen and give your child warmth and empathy helps them tune in to your calm, loving state. They can release their feelings and regulate their emotions, as long as you stay with them offering cuddles when needed. It won’t be long until they’re giggling again!

For further reading Larry Cohen’s Playful Parenting is packed full of Giggle Parenting ideas.

Are you looking for some giggle parenting inspiration? Sign up to follow my blog for weekly ‘giggle games’ for all your family challenges. You’ll find a button to sign up in the top right hand corner of this page. Click here for the giggle parenting archives

Do you have a family challenge you’d like a laughter cure for? Just leave me a comment or connect with me via facebook and I can find a giggle answer for you!

Diary of an imperfect mum
Cuddle Fairy

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Giggle Parenting Inspiration N.o 8 – Tidying up Mistakes

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Yesterday my daughter and I did special time, and then I need to tidy up the kitchen a bit before going out. As soon as I started my daughter was complaining of being bored, and having nothing to do. I could of gently set a limit with her, and told her in a more serious way that I needed to tidy up, but my intuition was telling me that she needed to laugh.  I thought of another idea. I saw the oven gloves, hanging by the oven, and flung them into the dishwasher, and then said, ”oh no! What are they doing in there?”

She started laughing so I began repeating it with different objects, tea towels, food, tea bags, toys and even my mobile phone and a broom with the handle sticking out. The more outlandish the object, the more my daughter laughed.

Pretty soon, she’d forgotten all about that moment of boredom. I was able to tidy up in between the laughs as the game expanded and developed. As I put away stuff from the dishwasher I accidentally put mugs in the blender, or forks in the fridge, then I’d get a confused look on my face, and say, ”hang on, that’s not right! Let me try again.” In the end we did get everything tidied up, and the bonus was that after the laughter she felt much more connected, and getting out of the house was much easier.

I’ve been talking to my daughter about the ‘giggle games,’ that I write down to remember for later and as we were playing this one she told me ”you should write this giggle game down, this will make me happy.” It’s interesting as she gets older that she’s beginning to gain an awareness of the purpose of playlistening, simply to make our children happy! And when they are happy, life also becomes a little easier for the parents too 😉

Wondering what playlistening is?  Check out this intro here. And if you’re looking for fun ways to involve your children in the tidying up check out these 25 tips for having fun tidying up with kids 


 

Giggle Parenting Inspiration N.O 7 – Unsticking Limpets

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My daughter was going through a clingy phase, and we had invented a fun game to play to help her feel secure – I was the mummy limpet and she was the baby limpet and she had to stay stuck to me the whole time.

Then one day she was getting bored walking along. I sensed she had a lot of emotions attached to not wanting to walk rather than actual physical tiredness. Suddenly I had an idea. I suddenly got all unsticky, and wriggled my hand out of hers. Then I said to my daughter, ”oh no! Baby limpet, I’m unsticking, help quick catch me!” Then I’d run ahead of her, and tell her ‘quick, catch up with me!”

With a fun game to play she would fun forward chasing me. When we got stuck together I’d keep roleplaying being limpets, saying, ”phew, we’re stuck together. I hope we don’t get unstuck again. Please hold me tight!” And then I would keep repeating the game.

It’s funny how my daughter was complaining about being too tired to walk, but with a game she was able to run and chase me, so we got to where we were going much quicker. Kids have so much physical energy, but often find walking with grown-ups a bit too boring. A bit of playlistening can make it much more fun.

Wondering what playlistening is? Visit Hand in Hand parenting to learn more.

Playlistening Inspiration No.6 – Doctor Giggles

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Does your child like playing doctor? It’s often the case that children try to work through difficult or traumatic experiences through play. Sometimes playing doctor can be a way to work through feelings about a difficult birth, or medical intervention in their early lives. Our children may not even consciously remember these incidents, but they can effect their overall wellbeing and confidence.

Bringing a bit of laughter to this kind of play using the Hand in Hand tool of playlistening helps children to heal. Through laughter they can work through their feelings, and release some of the stress and tension. It can also help build children’s confidence for when they really need to go to the doctor.

If your child had difficult early medical experiences it can be great to buy a doctor’s kit and see if this inspires any play. Then you can see if there are ways to bring laughter into the play. For example if you’re the doctor perhaps you can act silly and make mistakes. You could give yourself an injection instead of a teddy, or try to take the blood pressure and get all muddled up about what you’re supposed to do. Making mistakes helps your child to release tension, as the ‘all-powerful’ doctor isn’t so powerful at all.

If you child decides to treat you, perhaps you can try running away, but always get caught or, act all reluctant saying you don’t want to go to the doctor and would rather stay at home. If you’re playing with cuddly toys you might want to role play them ‘escaping’ from the hospital saying ”I don’t like it here, I think I’m going to go home.” Then your child can be in the more powerful role, catching the toy and bringing them back.

My daughter recently had a blood test, and today while we were travelling by train, she grabbed my hand, and put it into my rucksack strap and told me it had to go to the doctor. She started ‘pinching’ my hand, and I would wriggle around and object as she giggled and held me tight. I complained that it made me feel itchy and scratchy, so that I was acting powerless. It was clear to me that she was working on feelings about the blood test, this time in the more powerful role.

This play can build safety and trust for your child to show big feelings, about any times they were hurt or scared by medical intervention. If you notice that later after lots of giggly doctor play your child has a big meltdown or upset about something small, it’s possible that they are healing from their early experiences. In these moments, it’s good just to stay close and listen. You can read more about how children heal through play and crying on the Hand in Hand parenting website.

 

10 Ways That Laughter Can Transform Your Day

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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

What to do when your child ‘just’ wants your attention

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We recently got back from a three week trip to the UK. Lots of travelling, and stressful at times, even if it was fun.

One morning, I started tidying up the house, as a friend was coming over. My two year old daughter immediately started ‘untidying,’ pulling books off the shelves and putting them on the sofa, and putting pillows in the kitchen. Suddenly all sorts of random objects appeared in random places, and all my time was taken up, rectifying the mess she was making! I felt frustrated, and only hoped my friend would forgive me for the state of my house!

This behaviour was certainly ‘attention-seeking’, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t for a good reason. I’d noticed in the evenings she’d take ages to fall asleep, sucking her fingers — a sure sign she was feeling tense. I suspected that the stress of the holiday was coming out in her behaviour. Making a mess became the theme of the next few days. She would pull all her alphabet letters off the fridge, and throw clothes onto the floor.

One mainstream response to ”attention seeking behaviour” is to ignore the bad and praise the good. But this doesn’t address the underlying upset feelings that are always beneath our child’s off-track behaviour. So these feelings are going to come up again at some point, possibly in worse behaviour, or our child will feel withdrawn and distance from us, angry, and hurt.

Attention is a biological need, the same as eating and drinking, and it literally builds a child’s brain, to have adults connecting with them. Contrary to popular opinion, children only ask for the attention they need, even if they ask for it in infuriating ways.

I responded by playing the role of the exasperated parent but in a very playful way. I’d exclaim”oh no, what are all these letters doing on the floor!!”, making sure she knew that I was turning it into a game, and not really annoyed. Then I’d pick all the letters back up and invite her to make mess again. Soon she was running around pulling books off the shelves, clothes out of my drawers, all the while giggling hysterically as I fumbled around making failed attempts to get her to stop.

Then when I sensed that my patience was beginning to wear thin, and the mess was starting to overwhelm me, I gently set a limit, and said it was time to stop playing. I asked my daughter to help clean up a bit, and she happily put books back on the shelf with me.

After a few evenings of playing this game, my daughter was back to her normal self, respecting our living environment and not making a mess just for the sake of it. She was always happy to help me clean up.

It might sound crazy to allow our children to do something ‘naughty,’ but this kind of ‘sanctioned disobedience,’ gets feelings out of their system, so it doesn’t result in larger off-track behaviours later on. If we can relax our limit of what is acceptable and have some fun, our children do understand it’s just a game. And afterwards, they’ll be more likely to co-operate with us, because they are no longer full of the upset feelings that were driving their misbehaviour. And they’ll be less attention-seeking because we’ve actually given them the attention they were asking for.

If you don’t want your child bashing up your favourite paperbacks, or messing up your clean laundry, then you can create a harmless scenario, and invite them to make a mess. You could put a stack of scrap paper on the table and say, ”I hope you don’t mess up my important paperwork!” in an inviting tone, or create a drawer of old junk, and say to yourself, ”I hope you don’t empty that drawer!”

Understanding the benefits can help us let go of those old ideas about behaviour being ‘just attention seeking,’ as can seeing the result of having a more co-operative child afterwards. Have fun, and monitor your own feelings, so you can end the game while you still have some patience left. Listening time helps too!

Remembering the language of children

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Yesterday morning we were due to leave the house and go to visit some friends. My daughter didn’t want to go and was quite adamant about it. I was surprised, as she normally loves visiting her friends, and enjoys going out. She’d had plenty of downtime at home this week, and I felt like we both needed to get out and be sociable. I was concerned that there were some upset feelings, making her feel like she didn’t want to leave the house. Should I listen to her, and just stay home like she appeared to want? I wasn’t sure I could face a long day at home without adult company!

I started explaining to her, explaining that we’d already said we would go, explaining that I didn’t want to let my friend down as she was cooking lunch for us, and explaining that needed to get out of the house. I started trying to persuade her to do the things she need to leave the house, like go to the toilet as she hadn’t gone all morning. No response.

Then I snapped out of lecture mode.  I held her hand and found myself leading her into the bedroom, saying in a mock serious voice, ‘we need to go to the toilet,” and then ”oh no that’s not the toilet!!’ She laughed. Then I would lead her to the sofa, and say the same thing, then to the balcony, a cupboard or outside. She laughed and laughed at my inability to find the toilet, and then when we went into the bathroom. she was happy to go. Five minutes later we were out of the house! She had a great time with her friends, with much laughter and giggling, as they all jumped on the beds together. By the end of the visit she was asking if she could stay there for a sleepover!

We adults can get serious sometimes. We have a lot of responsibility and weight on our shoulders. It can be hard to meet everyone’s needs at the same time. But when we can find the laughter, play, and connection, we can often find co-operation and a solution that works for everyone.

So if you find yourself slipping into lecture mode, just remember the language of children, and put on your clown hat instead!

The Wrong Way

 

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I went to the supermarket with my daughter, and it was so frustrating! She was constantly picking up things from the shelves, and running away from me, which she found hilarious. I was not so amused, although I tried to let her have a good laugh about pulling some toilet rolls off the shelves, because I know that she needed to release some emotions. But my self-consciousness was getting the better of me, and I quickly rushed us away to pay.

We hadn’t been laughing much together recently, and I was wondering when my ‘laughter inspiration’ was going to strike. It seemed like I just couldn’t seem to think of anything to get her laughing, and it was showing in her behaviour. I felt like I was constantly being serious, and setting limits, which wasn’t making us feel very well connected. I was feeling stressed by her whining, and other off-track behaviour, such as shouting ‘bum bum’ and ‘poo poo’ very loudly when we were in public!

On the way to catch the train home, my daughter started complaining that I was going the wrong way, because I’d chosen to go a slightly shadier route to stay out of the sun. Suddenly I had an idea, I saw a flight of steps, and turned her buggy, so we suddenly stopped in front of them. ”Whoops! We went the wrong way.” I said, and she started giggling. We carried on walking for a bit, and I saw an alleyway, so I turned down there, ”oh no, the wrong way!” I said, and she was giggling again. We carried on the game for the whole journey, bumping into lampposts and fences, spinning the buggy round in a circle, or tipping it up as we made a sudden turning and went the wrong way. My daughter joined in pointing out ways, and saying ‘lets try this way,” and every time I exclaimed, ‘whoops, it’s the wrong way!” she laughed and laughed. When we got home, we were still going the wrong way, bumping into the wall in the basement, and stopping suddenly in front of a doorway instead of the elevator.  We felt much more happy and connected.

Laughter is such a vital connection tool, and I’ve seen time and time again, that after my daughter laughs a lot, tears will come later. Like the rain after the sunshine, it’s all part of our innate natural healing process, to get rid of all the yucky feelings we can get filled up with. I’m not always filled with laughter inspiration, and it can sometimes be emotionally exhausting listening to my daughter’s upsets. But it’s a million times more rewarding than having to deal with the kind of behaviours that drive me crazy, and leave me feeling stressed and exhausted anyway! Listening partnerships help a lot, we need to release stress, with laughter and tears too.

If you have a toddler, and want to brighten up your day a bit, why not try going the wrong way? I’d love to hear how it goes. A variation of this game is if you are walking on a shopping street, holding hands with your child, you could try going into the wrong shop, turning and then stopping outside different shops. It’s even more amusing and a bit naughty if the shop has automatic doors, and the benefit in a bit of ‘prescribed naughtiness,’ is that it improves our child’s co-operation the rest of the time. So maybe next time that trip to the supermarket won’t be so frustrating after all.

And if you’re stuck for laughter inspiration too, then check out this list of laughter games, which is fantastic for young children.