Simple Sunday-Simply looking beyond the “seen”

Last week at nap time, admitedly the roughest part of my school day with Collin, we lost connection.  He was yelling at the top of his lungs, other children were trying to sleep, my co-teacher and I had things to do (wash dishes, take lunch breaks) and he just. would. not. stop.  In anger I walked out of the classroom leaving him with another teacher to help him fall asleep.  I am sure this may seem fairly benign to some, but I have NEVER left him without a proper ‘bye-bye’ I always let him know where I’ll be even if it means a few tears and he is usually fine with this arrangement.  On this day however I said “Fine! If you don’t want mommy to put you to sleep then Sandra can” I grabbed the dishes and left the room as he began to scream and sob for me.

I wasn’t gone long, I did my dishes and came back to the room to my boy sweating, sobbing, and gagging.  He wasn’t just angry that I left he was heartbroken because in essence I had said “Fine, if you won’t listen to me you don’t get my love right now” He was confused, sad and disconnected from his Mamma.  It hurt us both.

The beauty of something like this though is that we can grow as parents.  Our relationship can grow as Mamma and son.  We can reconginze our selves as fallible human beings with emotions that pass through us.  As the emotioal cloud lifted I looked to others for support and discussion.  My husband is always great at talking me down and reminding me that it is no good for a child to have a mother who never feels, mistakes happen and you will work through this.  I checked my phone and found this wonderful writing from Lu at Parent2ParentU

Imagine that, instead of LOOKING at our child’s BEHAVIOR, we thought of what is happening behind the scene…BEHIND THE SEEN. 🙂

So, our child is screaming and writhing on the floor, and we think immediately about the state of her BRAIN in that moment. 

Or our child is sullen, anxious, withdrawn, and we think immediately about the state of his brain and what’s weighing on his HEART.

Our child is agitated, hiding, dangerously impulsive, quick to blame, and we think immediately about his learned STORY, his internal TURMOIL.

Behavior is NOT automatically a story of (im)morality, future trouble, failure, or deficiency. But, if we don’t practice “parenting BEHIND THE SEEN”…we can unwittingly co-create this story! ♥ Lu Parent2ParentU

Aha! That is exactly what I was doing! I was focusing on just what I saw, just the immediate moment of him not being quiet.  I was already worked up and ready for a break.  This was a beautiful reminder to look beyond what is going on right in front of us and look deeply into our children’s emotional lives.

I don’t know about you but it can be hard for me to ‘take a deep breath’ or just calm down when I have anger coursing through my veins.  My mind knows I am not reacting in the most compassionate or considerate way but I need a tool to get me back to ‘home’.  After reading this I jotted down three simple questions to ask myself next time I was in a similar situation (read: a situation where a power struggle was brewing and a behavior was escalating)

So for next time, my “Three questions to see behind the seen” :

  1. What need of mine am I expecting him to meet? My need to not have people or property harmed? Alright…but my need to have calm and quiet? How can I reasonably expect that from a 23 month old? In many cases where a power struggle is brewing we see a parent expecting some need to be fulfilled by a child.  A need for order, a need for quiet, a need for them to eat ‘healty’ food.  This reflection allows me to look more deeply into what may be causing him to behave in a certain manner instead of continuing down a path of control.
  2. Have I stopped to think about the his need behind the action? If I have yet to stop and think about why (in this case Collin is rarely if ever tired at the time I was trying to lay him down for nap) If I neglect to take this step I will be fighting a losing battle from the beginning.
  3. Who has the ‘burden’ of solving this problem? If Collin reaches out to hit someone I hope to be able to hold his arm and say “I can’t let you hit him” The burden of solving the issue should be on me as I am the adult in any situation (even if I forget to act like it on occasion) As he grows he will be able to take more responsibility for himself and his problem solving but I will always be there to offer support and suggestions.  I never plan on leaving the entire burden of solving any major problem on him if he is making it clear (with behavior or otherwise) that he needs the help.

There you have it…here’s hoping I’ll just do better next time!

Thanks for reading!

Naps in Toy Land

There is a time of the day that is slowly becoming more and more difficult for me. Naptime. This is not your normal “toddler resisting nap” story. This is the story of one woman, six toddlers and some new challenges.
In the past I have always been somewhat proud of my ability to gently calm a group of toddlers to sleep and keep them asleep for 2+ hours. That was before my son was in the mix.
Now most days I struggle to get him down around noon when the others sleep and am lucky if he gets a good hour and a half sleep.
This struggle is two fold. My boy is a great sleeper at home. Through gentle sleep techniques we have helped guide him to a place where he puts himself to sleep and sleeps comfortably. We read books, give cuddles and say night night. He talks himself to sleep most days saying good night to the experiences and people he has come in contact with through the day. School days consist of a totally different routine. It is eat, lay down on your mat, go to sleep. For a child who hasn’t slept while out ‘n about since about four months this is a most difficult task! It is quite a struggle for me to stay calm and consistent with the message that it’s time to lay down, calm our body, rest our voice.
I also feel an internal struggle as I pat his back everyday. I love that he knows his body so well and is able to get himself comfortable, I hate feeling like I am interfering in this process. Somedays (like today) he needs more help to calm his body down and that means I take some of this control away from him. I also know he would love more of a calming routine prior to nap but how can I fairly read to him while telling others to lie down? Personally I couldn’t sleep in a room full of light and exciting toys so I am empathetic to the difficulty he has. In a perfect world we would have more control of our napping situation.
In many ways we are an anomaly. He and I in the classroom together in center based care. Having to be responsive to many children’s and teacher’s needs. Without the freedom to change much. The burden is on me to stay consistent and calm. To model appropriate behavior and do what’s best for all of us. Here’s hoping…

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