Parents of toddlers: Peaceful ways to deal with specific situations

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Parents of toddlers: Peaceful ways to deal with specific situations

  • Matt Phillips

    Many of the folks who aren’t familiar with peaceful parenting would probably like to see real world examples, and parents who have already adopted the ideas would probably love to hear other parents’ ideas and methods for dealing with specific situations.

     

    Let’s add some discussion of practice to the great discussions surrounding theory that are already ongoing.

     

    I think it would be really constructive for a discussion to start like this:

    My kid is doing X. Do you guys have ideas or solutions for dealing with it?

     

    I’ll get as much use out of this type of conversation as anyone, since my son is 2.5 and my daughter is seven weeks. So I’d love to see some posts!

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  • Audra Flammang

    I agree, this is a useful discussion. As great and helpful as some books can be,the examples provided within are typically about as helpful as those little cards in the back of airplane seats that show people calmly evacuating a crashed plane, LOL.

    I have found it extremely helpful to research the components of temperament.

    http://kera-kids.kera-interactive.org/ready-for-life/teachers/temperament/key-temperament-traits/

    Looking at behavior that frustrates or angers me from this standpoint is extremely informative and shifts my thinking. It doesn’t mean I don’t still have the initial emotional response, but it helps me get over it faster and shift into a mode of empathy or curiosity. Where is this behavior coming from? How can I help?

    I know this is not addressing the “specific situation” part, so I’ll try.  my younger son has meltdowns, often in public, when we tell him it is time to leave a playdate, party, etc. To deal with it, I’ve tried to first and foremost understand what in his temperament traits makes him go off like that. (Intensity, activity, flexibility, etc) Second, we try to have a conversation before we go places. No threats, just more like, let’s plan ahead and remember what’s going to happen, so we don’t get overwhelmed when it’s time to go. I can’t stress enough that with an intense kid, in my experience, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s damn near impossible to help him when he’s already screaming, crying, and kicking at me when I try to talk to him, not to mention dangerously tempting to be very harsh with him to make it stop and curb my own embarrassment.  We also invented a code word: LIMITS. after pre-emptive talking we remind him that if he’s getting caught up in the moment and forgetting to respect other kids or property or limits, we will remind him with one word- LIMITS. This has been probably the most helpful of all. It’s not a lecture he tunes out or even an admonishment to embarrass him. It’s a hand on the shoulder, look me in the eyes, kind reminder. But he still, I think, remembers what we’ve talked about when he hears it. It just helps him when he’s starting to go off the rails.

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    Mike Reid

    Wow. This parent of a 1.5 year-old trembles in anticipation of full-blown tantrums.

    So far, the craziest of my daughter’s behaviours has been that when upset she flops on the floor. It’s like in her sorrow, she loses the strength to stand.

    Luckily, we’ve been reading the Knuffle Bunny books by Mo Willems. In one of these books, a justifiably enraged toddler goes “boneless” as a way of protesting her father.

    So now, when my kid flops down, we shout “boneless!” and flop down on the floor alongside her. 9 times out of 10, that makes her laugh and forget her worries. It also makes me look kind of silly in public.

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    Dan B

    My wife and I are raising seven children; three biological and four adopted. They range in age from four months to nine years. We get plenty of practice working out different peaceful parenting tactics we’ve come up with for our three toddlers: N (1 1/2), M (2 1/2) and S (2 1/2). They were all drug exposed throughout the pregnancies. N was even in the NICU for a month after birth, and she was born 9 weeks premature. Sometimes it’s a challenge, but we’ve found that we can ALWAYS find a resolution, even if that resolution is just bearing with them as they struggle through a meltdown.

    Most of the time we just give them a chance to talk it out and try to let them communicate, which is much easier with M and S now that have more refined language skills. I think the majority of the issues we’ve dealt with have a lot to do with their inability to communicate their wants and needs. One thing that has always helped us is that we’ve always used sign language from birth with our kids. Not only does it help to cut down on communication-related issues, but our kids just love to sign.

    Another issue we deal with is that all three of them have sensory issues, and something as simple as a loud noise or being touched the wrong way can be the catalyst to an episode. Sometimes there is just too many people around, too much going on, or things just don’t feel right to them. I imagine that it feels something like their skin is crawling, and they don’t know how to fix it. It makes it much easier for me to remain calm myself. However, we’ve found that something as simple as taking them to a quiet place and just talking calmly with them usually snaps them out of it. For the M and N, it’s sometimes as easy as just giving them a blanket and sitting them in a cozy spot for a minute.

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    Jesse Mason

    I love the “LIMITS” reminder! That’s a great idea.

    I’ve got two wonderful little ladies, 2 and 4. My 4-year-old has been having tantrums  (mostly minor) for a while now. Mostly it’s about control. (We’re all born anarchists, right?) She wants to eat a cookie for breakfast and not the things we’ve prepared. (This week she’s hating on eggs for some reason. Every food seems to wax and wane in her favor.) And clothes. She never wants to wear what we set out for her. Fine, fine. Suit yourself. (Literally.) So she tries on an outfit. Hates how it feels. Tries another, then breaks down and cries. Ten outfits later and she’s suddenly chipper – like nothing ever happened.

    I can manage her passionate exercising of choice and volition but it’s killing my wife. (Admittedly, she’s not a hundred percent behind the peaceful parenting thing… but she goes along with it because of how important it is to me.)

    Our 2-year-old is far less temperamental – in fact, she’s quite resilient emotionally – but she has started to ape her sister during her outbursts. Pair them together on a bad day and it’s one helluva time.

    Would love to hear more stories and even advice if anyone has any regarding my little libertarian.

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    Matt Phillips

    “Boneless” and “Limits,” you guys are great. There’s a lot of patience and love around here, and I love it.

     

    My 2.5yo absolutely loves being outside, taking walks, digging in dirt, etc.  It’s rough because no matter how long he’s been outside, it’s never long enough. He doesn’t even care if he’s outside alone. And the kid has an amazing ability to focus, and can detect a manipulation a mile away. It makes coaxing him inside the most difficult of tasks. Now that the weather is nice, we can move meals outside to help foster his love of the outdoors, and get some outdoors family time ourselves. His outdoors time just gets in the way of everything else.

    He endures some pretty rough weather, doesn’t seem to mind if he’s out there alone.. And so sometimes we just leave him outside alone. I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do, but we do it in a positive manner, and we let him know that we’ll be right inside if he needs us.

     

    But yeah, a lot of our tantrums tend to revolve around breaking his focus from certain items or from being outside in general. I hope it means he’s brilliant, but it’s certainly testing my brain in the meantime.

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    Jesse Mason

    Just had to relate my “boneless” experience last night. My four-year-old went limp when asked to leave the cooking area in our kitchen. I yelled “Boneless!” and asked my two-year-old to come over and help us find her sister’s bones. “She lost her bones and we gotta find them!” We poked at her ribs and grasped at her leg bones and everyone had a great laugh before she left the cooking area. Reminds me something I heard Chelsea Lately (is that her name?) say: comedy can help us connect with our kids in difficult times. (Well, they’re almost always one tickle or one funny face away from hearty laughs.) Anyways, thanks for the incredibly useful idea!

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      Mike Reid

      Wow, Jesse! Great combo use of “boneless,” bringing your 2yo into the game. Very cool. I never dreamed anybody else would use that.

      I’ll have to remember to include the new one in such things when our #2 comes along.

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    Matt Phillips

    Hey guys: I need some ideas!

    Our 2 1/2 year old boy has been hurting our dogs a bit more than usual lately. At first it began as a cause & effect curiosity (akin to flushing the toilet) to make them yelp or fake nips at him , but lately it’s become a bit more malicious, and sometimes he even does it when he’s angry.

     

    Before having children we carefully trained our dogs not to bite, in hopes that we’d save our future children from bad interactions. The problem now is that there is no natural consequence for hurting the dogs (which a gentle nip may have otherwise solved [or is that not peaceful parenting?]) so it’s just me and my wife, the bad guys, redirecting ad infinitum or explaining until we’re blue in the face that “we don’t hurt the dogs. Be gentle.”

     

    I’m sure that a part (or maybe all) of it is that he has a 2 1/2 month old sister, and that he knows that hurting the dogs will get him some of the attention that he may have lost to his sister. And he’s apparently ok if that attention is negative. I don’t want to ignore the bad behavior because it does involve harming animals, but I don’t want to focus on it and fan the flames of the negative attention issue.

     

    Has anyone dealt with this? Does anyone have any ideas? I’d appreciate feedback.

     

    Thanks!!

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      Matt Phillips

      And before you think “PSYCHO!!” please know that he’s very thoughtful and empathetic otherwise.

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      Jack Wahlquist

      If what your kid wants is attention, the reward-and-punishment system will only fuel the problem. By coming to the dogs’ defense you could lead the dogs away from your kid, focusing on their wellbeing instead of your child. Many things are achieved here at once: your kid doesn’t get the attention he wants; they are shown an example of how to treat animals kindly, and the dogs are treated well.

      I don’t know how good your kid’s communication skills are yet, but if they are decent enough you could just ask WHY they are mean or angry with the dogs. If you are right that your kid wants your attention away from their younger sibling, then maybe the kid doesn’t have enough interaction with other kids/adults in their life. You the parents could be too heavy of a source of entertainment and human connection.

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      Matt Phillips

      Thanks Jack. We’ve tried separating the dogs, but never with any consistency and not really stressing focus on the dogs’ well-being for our son to see. I’ll try it with consistency. I appreciate your sound reasoning on that.

       

      We make sure that he’s around other kids &/or adults almost every day of the week. Lately it’s been every day. I just fear that sometimes he’s not getting the challenges that he needs. He doesn’t seem like a “joiner,” and he tends to connect more intimately with a few people as opposed to having fun with new people or groups of people. I’m guessing we’ll have to focus our efforts on getting him more exposure to those specific relationships, and reduce the time spent taking him to the more anonymous play groups and classes that most of the other kids his age seem to enjoy.

       

      I need to find a way to work from home so that I can be there to help out my wife! (Well that, and hanging out with my kids sounds a hell of a lot better than moping around a bank all day.)

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    Paramedic

    I would just like to take a moment to tip my hat to those of you within the larger NAP movement who have done so much work in the specific area of peaceful parenting. It is amazing to me how 3 years ago I read a few Ron Paul quotes on someone’s Facebook and now I find myself diving deep into all the ways to apply the NAP to real life. Those few “chinks in the armor” of the exisiting traditional order that Ron Paul exposed to me have lead to me standing aghast as I question so many “truths” I never questioned. In short, thank you to all of those of you who dare to question what is peddled as “common knowledge”.

     

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    Jesse Mason

    Matt,

    Been stewing on the dog issue. Wonder if it’s in any way similar to an issue I’ve been having with my 4yr-old. She keeps taking things from her 2yr-old sister. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does it drives us nuts. I’ve read a bit on this and it seems to be a common phase of childhood – an experiment in exercising power over weaker people. Perhaps she’s emulating what she experiences as a weaker person? (“Nora, give me the knife… you’re too young to use that.”)

    Anyone else experience this arbitrary wielding of power by their toddler? Besides patience and consistency, any peaceful parenting hacks for this situation?

    And Paramedic: I feel ya, brother. It’s been a helluva six years for me since I first heard the message of freedom via Dr. Paul.

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    Mike Reid

    My toddler went into a tantrum frenzy immediately after I lifted her out of her crib in the morning yesterday. Screaming incoherently, flailing on the ground, etc. I still have no idea what caused it.

    We couldn’t get through to her with words. We didn’t want to force her into a hug for comfort.

    After about 10 minutes of futility and insanity, I just started singing and doing somersaults in the bedroom. My wife nearly busted a gut laughing at me, but my kid’s sobbing subsided and was replaced with laughter and clapping.

    Sometimes, reason has no power to conquer madness.

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      Jack Wahlquist

      Kids present us with all these opportunities to make fools of ourselves, and value relationships and emotional health above all unnecessary reputations. Props to you for turning into a spontaneous circus performer 😉 Not many people know how to jump out of their shell.

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    Jesse Mason

    Hello fellow peaceful parents,

    I’m reviving this discussion to get some advice about my 4.5 year-old. She is going through some sort of clothing issue where she hates how everything fits or feels. Even the pants/shirt she loved yesterday she’ll find intolerably uncomfortable today. We’re trying to be supportive and empathetic but we’re having a heck of a time getting her dressed every day.

    Anyone else have this sort of issue? Any words of advice?

    Cheers from Detroit,

    Jesse

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      Mike Reid

      Hey, Jesse.

      My 2yo daughter gave us some real difficulty dressing her a couple of months ago. I’m still not sure what was the real cause, but I think she was just testing the limits of her autonomy.

      We argued with her, pleaded with her, offered her treats, etc., to no avail. We just got more crying, more running away from the clothing, etc.

      What has worked, in the end, has been to talk about the thing we’re going to do AFTER getting dressed, so that she has a real idea of what she’s working toward. So the night before an adventure, I’ll say things like “Well, Lizzy, tomorrow we’re going to go see grandma! We’re going to get dressed, get in the van, and then drive to grandma’s house. So first thing in the morning you can start by calling out ‘Clooooothiiiing, where are you?’ And then we can get dressed and say ‘Vaaaaan, we’re coommming!’ And then we can say ‘Graaaandmaaa, we’re on our waayyy!'”

      This way, Lizzy feels like getting dressed is something she wants to achieve, and she has concrete, fun things that she can do to make it happen.

      Dunno if that will help in your situation, Jesse.

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