Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My Son is Well Adjusted At Daycare...I Should Be Happy, Right?

My son seems happy with his daycare. He gets excited when the caregiver opens the door and he runs in to see his friends. He is THRILLED (but in a good way) when I come to pick him up and is usually in really good spirits. You can tell he's happy and has had a good day but happy to see his mama. He's not the kid that is afraid to see me go in the morning or is crying by the end of the day because he misses mommy so much. He seems really happy and well adjusted.

This of course has curbed my feelings of anxiety and guilt for having him in daycare full time. It was a hard decision; one that I knew was necessary, but I am glad I was able to hold off until he was a year and a half before putting him in. 

Yesterday morning when I was dropping him off, another mom was dropping her son off who I know has been at the daycare center for at least a few months because I see him on a regular basis when I drop my son off and pick him up. He was hesitant to go inside and his mother repeatedly said bye, gave him lots of hugs and kisses until he felt comfortable to go in. My son on the other hand will barely give me a hug and race to see his friends. Now of course this leaves me thinking...is this a sign my son is feeling disconnected from me?

I finally finished reading Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids and as good as I should feel to have proven, helpful parenting advice, I can't help but feel as if I've done too many wrongs by yelling, focusing on time outs and keeping him in daycare as long as I do. I wonder if him running into daycare, not really caring whether I'm there or not is a sign of my bad parenting because he feels disconnected from me and will continue to do so as an older child by acting out or giving into peer pressure. 

I'm getting all of this from seeing this little boy, sad and timid who is afraid to leave his mom when I know it would break my heart to see my son react that way every morning and it would hurt just as much to arrive to pick him up crying because he's unhappy. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Get Ready To Laugh

When I was pregnant I found this deal for like 7 Dr. Seuss Books along with a book bag, tote and free shipping for $13. I didn't think we would enjoy the books while my little one was a baby but boy was I wrong, Dr. Seuss Books are our favorite to read together. 

Fox In Socks is bound to make anyone laugh. I dare you to say this and keep a straight face:

Through three cheese trees three free fleas flew.
While these fleas flew, freezy breeze blew.
Freezy breeze made these three trees freeze.
Freezy trees made these trees' cheese freeze.
That's what made these three free fleas sneeze.

Now try this:

Bim bends Ben's broom.
Bim's bends.
Ben's bends.
Ben's bent broom breaks.
Bim's bent broom breaks.
Funny thing is, my son NEVER lets me get through the entire book because I sound like a bumbling fool so as much fun as I have reading this book, he would rather read this. 

When beetles battle beetles in a puddle paddle battle 
and the beetle battle puddle is a puddle in a bottle...
...they call this a tweetle beetle bottle puddle paddle battle muddle.

I got the hubby involved and he was able to complete the book; our son moved away to do something else while he continued reading on in a room by himself because who wants to sit and listen to someone stumble through his words? As foolish as we may seem to our son its nice for him to see us laugh a little more. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Time Out

Even though I wrote my last post yesterday, I had been meaning to write it for nearly two weeks. I was feeling confused, conflicted and overcome with feelings of guilt with how to handle my son’s behavior and my emotions. My boyfriend and I know that spanking isn't an option, which is I why I think the yelling came in as an alternative; but when I realized my yelling was a sign of anger within me and was clearly not working, I decided to take the time out approach.

As I mentioned in my previous post we did the time out thing in the past, but in an attempt to not yell I made time outs the primary form of discipline. Even though it didn't seem to work, I figured it would eventually stick that certain behavior would result in time outs without TV and toys. After about a week he would act out and before I could even say “time out” he would beat me to it. “Time out Mommy”, “yes, you get time out now”, I would say. “OK” he would reply as if it didn't really matter to him. When he started saying “Mommy I want time out”, I felt even more confused and frustrated and realized this method was not working either.

I decided to pick my Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids book up again because you know what? If spanking, yelling and time outs aren't the answer then what is? I knew something was missing and I was willing to try anything. As I started where I left off I felt as if something clicked. I wasn't open to reading about how to handle MY emotions and MY behaviors when I originally began the book, I was looking for a way to control his behavior.

I did mention in my earlier post I understood my negative energy was having an effect on him and I needed to make changes. My attitude, my disposition, my way of treating him and connecting with him are essential for him to thrive as a toddler and continue into his preschool and teenage years. As emotional as I am, my emotional IQ is practically zero because I apparently only see things from my perspective (maybe that’s because I am a narcissistic millennial) and need to learn how to see things from his perspective, also known as empathy

The author discusses the need for us to have meaningful connections with our children and try to set aside at least 15 minutes each day for “special time”; time that is spent without any distractions doing whatever our little one wants to do. Whether it be playing trucks, roughhousing (she mentions this a lot) or coloring, our children need quality time with us to connect each day.

I have dealt with feelings of guilt because he is in daycare nearly 10 hours each day. He would normally wake up at about 7:30am and we’re out the house on our way by 8:45am. That’s a little over an hour in the morning and the time we spent would be getting ready and me yelling at him for fooling around when he should be brushing his teeth. His father is normally gone by the time he wakes up so he doesn't have any time to connect with him in the morning either. We normally get home at 7:15pm with him going to bed at 8:30pm and when I come to think of it, we really don’t have that much time to spend during the week so why and how could I use the little bit of time we have to bond pushing him away and ignoring him to do housework when all he really wants is my love and affection?

That’s what the book really comes down to. Showing love, empathy and creating deep meaningful connections with our children. When we ignore our children, we are passing up on an opportunity to share a loving embrace with our child. When we focus on our cellphones and television we show our children they are not important and when we yell and put them in time out we make them feel shame, anger and feelings of abandonment. When they have those feelings they only continue to act out because they feel bad. When they feel bad they act bad. If we miss out on opportunities to connect now, we may not be the influence we need to be for our children when they’re faced with peer pressure when they’re older.

Wow. This book really hit me like a ton of bricks. Now don’t get me wrong, I tell my son I love him everyday and I am incredibly affectionate toward him. At the same time I do yell and push him off to do other things and not give him the time he needs with me. How could I be so selfish? I placed most of my focus making sure he was well taken care of physically but I was completely ignoring his emotional development. How could I expect him to control his temper when I, as an adult, cannot set the example he needs? How could I expect him to feel loved and secure and happy when his emotional needs are not being met? He’s still developing and does not understand the concept of time when I’m in a rush or my need to cook dinner in that hour and a half we have between getting home and him going to bed. He feels lonely, confused by my behavior and feels bad inside and THAT is why he acts out.

Finding Ways To De-Stress

Since I have accepted I have issues controlling my emotions I decided to find ways to de-stress. I used to go to yoga frequently years ago and remember it not only doing wonders for my bad back, but it made me feel so good inside as well. Its pretty hard to explain, but I used to leave class feeling a light heart and as if a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I also used to be a runner. In high school I ran track and I picked up running again right before I got pregnant and never really got back into the swing of things after giving birth.

I found myself with a day off during the week last week and thought it would be cool to send my son to daycare so I could have the day to myself. I went to the park for a run and when I was in so much pain I could barely move, I sat by the lake for about 30 minutes to relax and recharge. It was nice. Introverts like myself need time alone to think, reflect, gather our thoughts and recharge. I felt nice for a few hours but then I started to feel like my old self again.

I took a couple of yoga classes and while it was great getting out of the house for some "me" time, the pain in my neck and shoulders from attempting a headstand didn't give me the “weight off my shoulders” feeling I was hoping to have. The deep breathing exercises and meditation was pretty cool and the studio I went to is donation based which is great since I’m on a budget. While I did feel good and relaxed for the remainder of the day, I still questioned if I were doing enough to control my emotions.

It’s common knowledge that exercise does wonders for the mind and body. It releases all sorts of good chemicals to improve our mood, it builds and repairs cells which is great for those under a great deal of stress or suffering depression and gives us more energy. I have decided to make exercise an important part of my routine because who wouldn't benefit from an improved mood and increased energy to deal with a toddler? While I know this is important, I also know it’s not the answer to everything and I need to still dig deeper to find the root of my emotional state.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Learning To Control My Emotions

“DADDY DON’T DO THAT!” my son screams at his father who was adjusting the fan. “DON’T TOUCH! LISTEN TO ME!”. He even did the eye roll and deep sigh. My boyfriend turned and gave me a disapproving look. Our son was acting just like me.

He’s turning into me. He yells to get his point across, acts sassy and recently started hitting us. I know I have a tendency to yell and lose my cool, my boyfriend even told me I need “to get my emotions under control”, but at times I feel so frustrated everything just boils over. Recently while getting him ready for daycare I found myself getting angrier and angrier by the second because he was doing everything possible but brush his teeth. He was talking, turning the water on and off and fiddling with my hair products and we were running late.


I immediately felt terrible. I felt terrible for getting so angry and screaming at him when I knew I was only setting a bad example which made me feel guilty and like a horrible person and then I started crying hysterically. It’s an ugly cycle. I get upset, scream then feel like crap. And you know what? The screaming doesn't make him “learn” not to do whatever he was doing because he does it again.

I stumbled upon  The Orange Rhino about a year ago, but didn't really go through it because it didn't apply to me at the time. I was happy when I found it again. The author, mom to four boys, started a challenge which is now in day 500+ to stop yelling and has found her relationship with her family has improved immensely and she feels better about herself. Her site is incredibly inspiring but it leaves me to wonder, how to I teach my son right from wrong? I can not yell, but I don’t want him to think he can get away with everything. I decided to get a parenting book to teach me some tactics.

I ordered Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham and after the first twenty pages or so I decided to put it down. Based on the introduction and the first few pages I could tell the book was about controlling my emotions and attachment parenting which is something I clearly do not do because my son is in daycare. OK, but then what? How do I get him from throwing his food, spilling his juice and touching the fan? How do I get him to hold my hand when we’re about to cross the street instead of throwing himself down and having a meltdown?

I figured a great alternative to yelling was putting him in time out which is something I already did but maybe not as often as I should have. You hit mommy or daddy? Time out. You throw your food all over the floor? Time out. You spit your juice out? Time out. You throw your toys down in anger? Time out. A couple of weekends ago he spent more time than not in time out while we were in the house. Then he started biting.

I know its normal for babies to bite but for him to start now at almost 2 1/2, when he knows how to verbally express himself and knows that biting hurts seemed alarming. I think the negative energy I walk around with because of my current financial situation and the pressure of having to move has created even more waves of tension and anxiety that I’m passing off to my son.

I get it. My unhappiness and my energy is the reason why my son is acting out. Instead of trying to control his behavior I need to control my emotions and reactions first. I started to feel really bad but then I stopped myself. Feeling bad is fine, for that moment but I have to make changes. Real positive changes because feeling guilty and self loathing will only bring more negative energy toward my son.

I think acknowledging that the problem lies within me and not my typical 2 year old is the first step toward making real progress. For now I will focus on ways to improve my relationships with my son, his father and myself.