5 Practical tips to help your child through big feelings

As parents, we can help our children learn to process their emotions in a healthy way.

Often, people have trouble accepting BIG feelings like anger, frustration, disappointment and sadness from small children. They are expected to be light-hearted and happy little bunnies all the time.

Mom holding  crying child

The truth is though, that we all have a whole range of emotions. Only, children are still learning how to deal with them and express themselves appropriately. We all experience things like anger, frustration, disappointment and sadness from time to time. As humans it is healthy to process these feelings and express them from our bodies. If we bottle them up, they become stagnant and will bubble up again a later time. Manifesting as things like aggression or biting and in adults as things like addictions or depression.

We can help our children become emotionally literate by teaching them that ALL emotions are perfectly normal and needn’t be hidden away. We can help them learn to recognise what they are feeling, let it flow through them and then release it in a healthy way.

How? Here’s an example:

Recently, my 5 year old was very tired (when children are tired they find it harder to repress emotions – we all do – which is why you’ll often get tears and tantrums towards the end of the day) Anyway, he got very frustrated with his Dad and started hitting him. I stepped in and held his arms firmly, telling him that I could see how angry he was but that in our family we don’t hit each other. I picked him up and carried him to the bedroom. As I closed the door, I see him physically relax a little into the quieter, darker space. I told him it was ok to be angry but that we can’t hurt people when we feel that way. He told me why he got angry. I listened to him and validated his feelings, letting him know that I understood.

He asked me for a wrestle.

This is one of his favourite things to do, especially when he needs to release some strong emotions. This is a good physical way to let out such feelings without hurting anyone.

Afterwards, I asked him to paint.20150510-164717-60437151.jpg

Watercolours are another wonderful tool for releasing emotions. Not surprisingly his painting is dominated by red. Then he goes off to play happily.

About an hour later though, the feelings bubbled up again and it seemed that he hadn’t finished releasing his angry feelings. We went back to the bed. It was safe. Peaceful. Archie told me to go away. I told him I would not leave him alone with such big feelings. I would stay with him while he’s upset.

There’s a great article about this type of scenario called “Go away!What to do when your child won’t let you connect” here

Archie talked about the little rabbit from the book “When I’m feeling Angry” and how he hides by himself when he is angry.when i'm feeling angry

Then he burrowed under the doona and told me that he’s hiding in there like little rabbit and won’t come out.

(By the way – these books are amazing! We have the whole set and love them!)

I cuddled the lump under the doona and told him that Mummy Rabbit loves Little Rabbit so much and is just going  to run him a lovely bubbly bath (in the ensuite)

I added lavender essential oil to help calm and ground him.

As with the watercolour painting, a bath is great to soothe the soul and help release emotions.

Emotions are governed by our Sacral chakra and the element of Water. This is why water seems to help them flow so much.

We maintained our connection throughout the anger. He was never punished. His feelings were validated and he was given love, acceptance and tools to help him work through the emotions.

We used:

 

1. wrestling/ physical play

 

2. watercolour painting

 

3. bath

 

4. essential oils

 

5. a book

What do you use to help weather the storms of your kids emotions?

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a Blueprint for Blissful Bedtimes

5 Steps to Bed

Step 1: Follow the same rhythm every night

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Children are creatures of habit, they thrive on predictability, so your bedtime routine plays such an important role in the emotional security of your child. You might think that following the same rhythm day in and day out would be incredibly boring… but it isn’t! Surprisingly, it actually makes this part of the day so much more enjoyable. It allows you to slow down and savour the small moments that you might otherwise rush over. It kind of puts a lot stuff onto autopilot so you don’t have to think about and ‘re-invent the wheel’ every day. When you don’t have to think about and orchestrate every little thing, it leaves more space for fun and to enjoy. It allows you to be present with your child. Especially at bedtime, a child needs to be held by those secure rhythms that we have created. They can feel the heartbeat of them, predictable and continuous. They know what will happen next and how the evening will unfold. This doesn’t mean to say we should mindlessly do exactly the same thing at exactly the same time everyday like a robot! It just means loosley following the same pattern.

Step 2: Begin winding down to bedtime earlier 

Children don’t switch off automatically at bedtime. It’s a process that begins slowly. Bringing them closer, turning down the volume, the lighting. I try to be mindful that everything I do during the evening contributes to the mood and flow of our bedtime rhythm… will it be calm or will it chaotic? I want to create a peaceful, calm space where we do not need to hurry and have time to enjoy. A friend once referred to this time of the day as ‘bringing home the cows’. I love the imagery of this. Picturing the farmer on his horse slowly, slowly pushing the cows down the road towards the cow shed in the evening. Try not to hurry through this last part of the day. When your child is tired (and you probably are too) it is easy to find lots of frustration, reasons to rush and try to ‘get it over with’. If you can find the space to slow it down though, there are many things to actually enjoy about the bedtime.

 

Step 3: Use your bathtub to make the perfect bedtime potion

herbal lavender salt and essential oil
Water is wonderfully nourishing for the spiritual and physical body; Add in some epsom salts and essential oils to make it even more soothing, calming and relaxing. Epsom salts increase magnesium levels and help to detoxify the body.

 

Step 4: Unplug from electronics

There are many reasons to reduce or eliminate your child’s screen time but it is especially important in the evenings when winding down to bed. Screens and electronics tend to cause overstimulation for children. This makes it difficult for their brains to switch off at the end of the day and negatively impacts their sleep patterns. They may enter a silent trance for a while but it is guaranteed that all that noise, colour, light and movement is being absorbed and will need to be regurgitated in some form or another before they can rest peacefully. Sometimes they will have a ‘tantrum’ immediately after the TV is turned off, which is just a way for them release all that they have seen. Or perhaps your child will have trouble falling off to sleep, becoming fidgety and restless. Perhaps their sleep will be fitful and disruptive. Or even filled with wild dreams. The same is true for getting the best sleep for yourself! Ideally, you should do something not involving a screen before you head off to bed to make for the most restful sleep.

Step 5: Tell me a story

Being able to make up your own story is another fabulous tool to have in your parenting kit. Stories can be amazingly therapeutic and can help children to overcome many challenging situations/ behaviours/ fears and changes. What a joyful, gentle, soothing way to integrate growth. Would you like to make up your own story but not sure how to start? Here’s my cheat sheet:

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OR, YOU CAN LISTEN TO ONE OF MY EASY PEASY, READY-MADE STORIES:

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Now it’s lights out and I hope this post has given you some ideas to create some truly blissful bedtimes for your little loves.

 

 

What to do with your cranky child

  

 Take 1 Cup of Sand, a good splosh of water, a sprinkling of sunshine and mix it all together with a generous serve of play time.

My go-to remedy for crankiness (the kids or mine!) is to go to the beach. The perfect combo of water, sand and sunshine means we leave feeling more connected to ourselves, each other and the world we live in.

Through playing with sand and water children use their senses to explore the natural environment. The exploratory and imaginative nature of the young child thrives on the possibilities presented by open ended materials such as these. There are so many benefits  in providing your child with a safe place to play in nature with sand/ mud/ rocks/ water/ sticks etc.

 

  • Physically: children use gross and fine motor muscles in digging, scooping and pouring
  • Emotionally: an imaginative disposition is encouraged through creativity and dramatic play . Children learn to work with others, cooperate, share, compromise, negotiate and empathise.
  • Cognitively: children become confident and involved learners as they explore concepts through play such as: measuring, volume, estimating, mathematical language (full/ empty, heavy/light, more/ less). Children develop a range of skills and processes that they will continue to use throughout life such as problem solving, experimenting, hypothesising, investigating.
  • Creativity: children express themselves using natural materials through sculpting and modelling. They learn to make abstract representations of objects which is a pre-cursor to later literacy learning.
  • Wellbeing: Children reconnect with the Earth with their hands and feet, helping them to feel calm and grounded.

Do you have a natural space nearby where your kids could play? A creek, the ocean or a lake perhaps? Or maybe you could create a mud kitchen in your own backyard for ours of fun!

Belinda 💛

 

 

Strengthen your bond through stories

  The other day, I read a post talking about an older mother looking on at a young mum at the supermarket with her children, wishing that were her. Back in that time when she was the shiniest star in her children’s sky. When they were each other’s everything. It makes me a little sad to think of that. The magic of early childhood coming to an end. But, it also makes me more determined to drink everything in now, make magic and make memories.

I planned to write this post and tell you about how stories are so beneficial for children’s literacy development.

And they are. But that’s kind of a boring reason to do something isn’t it?

What I REALLY love about storytelling and why I do it is because it creates connection with my children.

Building relationships with them that will last a lifetime as we snuggle up, solve problems together, create memories and lasting traditions. We weave them around our life. We act them out with toys, we tell them on car trips and we tell them at bedtime. Stories can be magical; igniting belief, hope and imagination. They can be a gentle and soothing way to heal, grow and work through emotional challenges.

So yes, telling stories absolutely helps with literacy development. But it also does so much more!

I’ve been working on this beautiful little audio story for you to share with your children and I’m sure you are going to LOVE it. I certainly loved making it!

“The Dream Catcher”

A magical story about a little boy and his dragon who adventure through the kingdom on a very special quest. This gentle and soothing story is perfect for bedtime. It helps to convey feelings of loving support and security whilst instilling children with the confidence they need to sleep soundly and put aside anxieties over bad dreams or restlessness at bedtime.

Just click on the picture below to get your copy now!

 

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Creating Christmas Memories

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What kind of Christmas traditions do you have in your house?  I am trying to focus on simplicity and less consumerism. I want to work out what Christmas means for our family and I want to find ways to celebrate this season that are relevant to our coastal Australian surroundings.

These are a few things that we started last Christmas that we have really enjoyed again this year:

Christmas books

I got this lovely idea from Zuzu & me‘s Advent Activity cards. I’ve wrapped all our existing Christmas books (and a couple of new ones) and popped them under the tree. I would like to open one each day until Christmas but don’t have enough… I think I will pay a trip to the local library. Christmas fun doesn’t have to be about spending loads of money!

Advent Calendar

When I was a child, we had an advent calendar with teeny little boxes to open. My Mum would put in tiny toys like super balls and matchbox cars. Which was awesome as a kid – we loved it. But from the perspective of trying to consume less (considering these type of small, cheap toys are generally only played with for a day or two) it’s not so good. I remember the tradition of getting the advent calendar out each year though and wondering, the anticipation, excitement and the surprises. And now looking back, the love and thought that my mother put into making this special for my brother and I. A couple of years ago I decided to make something special for Archie, something that would become a childhood memory for him, a tradition,  something full of love. So I drew 24 patterns and made 24 felt Christmas ornaments to hang on the tree. We have a soft, hanging Father Christmas with 24 little pockets on his suit that I filled up. The last two years Archie has  loved it and this year even more so because he remembers some of them and is waiting with anticipation to pull out and hang on the tree his favourite ones.

Do you do a count down to Christmas? What type of calendar do you use?

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The Spirit of Giving…

This year I’d really like to give more than we receive and show my boys how we can offer compassion and empathy to others in our community.

Last Advent, we visited our local animal shelter and donated a bundle of soft baby blankets to keep the cats cosy. We said hello to all the dogs and cats and were given a bucket of dog treats so we could help to train the dogs to sit. It was fun and made our hearts happy. I wanted to make it a regular occurence throughout the year but I’m really disappointed to say that hasn’t happened…We will try for more visits in 2016! I will let the boys pick out some pet food when we go grocery shopping next. I think it really helps kids to understand the concepts of giving and compassion when it’s something tangible and concrete rather than just giving money (although that is great too!) One of our very favourite books (with dog eared pages from so many readings!) is about a little stray dog who is lucky enough to find a loving family. Reading this helps form a connection between the cats and dogs at the shelter and something the children are familiar with.

mutt dog

I also enjoy culling excess clothes/ books and toys before Christmas and have just donated two big boxes.

Do you have any other ideas? I’d love to do some volunteering but still thinking  on what we could do together…

Gingerbread House

Last year, Archie has asked to make a Gingerbread House. I’d always wanted to as well. We made it on Christmas Eve with my Mum and Archie has asked to do it again this year too.

We are going to try this one by Jude Blereau:

GB House 2

The Beach…

Living by coast in Australia we naturally spend a fair amount of time at the beach in Summer. Last year, I discovered a lovely story about the little grass stars that appear in the sand dunes each year in early December. I love that this story is relevant to our climate and surroundings. This year, when we first saw them,  I was so excited and gathered up a big bundle. I have been telling the story of the ‘Grass Star Man’ to the children at rest time and we painted the ones I collected with glittery gold and hung them as a mobile on a piece of driftwood.

grass star man

I’d love to know what kind of memories you are creating with your children this Christmas!

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