Building routines for your toddler

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Thought Series : Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 11

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As humans we have an inbuilt need for security, for feeling safe. And, one of the ways in which we feel safe is when ‘everything is predictable’ or when we know what can happen next. Sadly, in our adult life, this is not always possible. But as parents, we can surely make this possible for our toddlers.

That’s the next need in line for a HAPPIE toddler – Predictability.

Like us, our toddlers also seek ‘predictability’. When they know what’s going to happen next – it makes them feel safe, it gives them a sense of power & control.

Toddlers tend to meltdown more often, when their days are haywire – that’s because it makes them feel out of control & unsafe, thus activating their brain’s stress hormones and then causing the meltdowns, crankiness & clinginess.

The simplest way to give them predictability on a daily basis is through a ‘consistent routine‘.

When it comes to routines, most parents are often at two extremes – either following a strict timetable or not following any routine at all. Let me explain what a balanced routine looks like that’s enough to give your toddler the much-needed predictability and a sense of power, control & safety.

A strict timetable looks like :
We get up at 8 am,
Brush at 8.15am
Breakfast at 8.30am & so on.

The problem with this approach is that – toddlers have a way of ‘extending’ every little normal chore in some way or form. If you’re too strict with the time, it can cause unnecessary stress to you – when your toddler wants to have a bit of fun while brushing or is taking longer for breakfast. That stress will cause you to react with unnecessary scolding or yelling, spoiling the day for you & your toddler.

A more balanced approach to having a daily routine is to have a FLOW.
For example:
We wake up — Then we brush — Then Breakfast — Then playtime — Then Bath — Then Lunch… and so on.
Toddlers don’t understand time, but they understand FLOW. When done consistently, it helps them predict what comes next (after brushing), giving them a feeling of control over their day.

You can definitely have a rough timeline behind the flow, in your mind – but make sure you’re flexible to incorporate some special fun requests or tantrum that your toddler might decide to have.

Handling change in routine

Toddlers need and love routines! Now, the downside to this is – if you’ve been following a set flow & routine consistently, and your child is used to that – any change in routine can also easily upset him/her.

For example, if you decide to visit your Mom and stay there for a week, or a change in Nanny, or a new playschool / daycare. These changes can be difficult for your toddler, and she might take time to adapt.

How you can help in the process : Through PREP.
Whenever the change is predictable (which it often is) – Make sure you’re informing your child much beforehand, helping her imagine how the new change would look & feel like, validating her fears and reassuring her of your presence.

Prepping your toddler beforehand can work for all of the above situations plus other common scenarios like guests visiting, doctor’s appointment or anything new & different from their normal routine. Yes, even after prep, it’s possible that your child might resist or cry, but prepping helps you calm their nerves, most of the time!

Thought for Today:

Reflect and share : Do you think your toddler prefers having a consistent routine? Does he/she have trouble with change in routines?

What kind of routine do you prefer or which one would you like to adopt?
Strict / Flexible with Flow / No specific routine

Next:

How to bring in ‘predictability’ in the rules & responses towards our toddler?

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Access Previous Days In This Series: Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 0 : Laying out Universal Human Needs
Day 1 : Healthy Parent = HAPPIE Child
Day 2 : Making Self-Care A Habit
Day 3 : Meeting your toddler’s physical needs
Day 4: Identifying your own triggers before you tend to your child’s
Day 5: Dealing with feelings of guilt & inadequacy (Moms!)
Day 6: Attention v/s Connection Parenting
Day 7: Ways to connect with your Toddler
Day 8: Making way for ‘special time’
Day 9: Identifying Power Struggles
Day 10: How to end Power Struggles with your toddler



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How to end Power Struggles with your toddler

Sharing is Caring!

Thought Series : Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 10

Well, with the previous post and the deep-dive that we did, we could identify the most common daily activities that end up as ‘power struggles’ with our toddler.

And the ones that top the list are:
1. Screen time
2. Food Struggles
3. Bath Time
4. Brushing
5. Dress changes
5. Diaper changes (God help us with this one!!)

In this post, we’ll explore some tried and tested tips that can help you end the power struggles (99%.. or let’s say… 95% of the times!!)

The TWO RULES to remember to end power struggles, even before they begin:

1. MAKE IT FUN! – Kids cannot, they just CANNOT – resist FUN!
Yes, it’s demanding and frustrating when you have to strain your creative muscles, and find a way to giggle your way through a diaper change when all you want is to GET DONE WITH IT!
But, from my own experience, you get better at being creative and funny with some practice!!

2. GIVE THEM THE POWER – Well, that’s what they’re seeking, right? Power? Control? When we try to pull our end of the rope as hard as they’re pulling it – that’s when the struggle begins. When you leave your end of the rope, or refuse to even pick it up – what happens? There is no struggle. Period.
One of the simplest ways to give your toddler ‘Power’ is by offering simple choices / options – where you’re OK with whichever option your toddler chooses.

Let’s explore some examples that will help you understand this better –

Brushing:
Make it fun – Sing a song while or before brushing, brush a doll’s teeth before you brush your child’s.
Give her control – “Do you want to put the paste on?” “You can show Dolly how to brush, and then I’ll do the same for you.” “Do you want Mumma to brush for you or Pappa?”
What works for us – For a long time, singing a song while we brushed helped. But then it got boring. And then each time I’d say “Let’s brush”, my daughter (now 2y7m) would say, “No, I don’t want to brush”. So, somehow one day, I just said, “Ok! Today we’ll not brush, we’ll CRUSH”. That seemed to excite her, and I invented a funny way to brush and we were done. So we continued with that – inventing a new name and way everyday! Nowadays, she invents the name & the way to do it, then I do it for her. So far, so good. Let’s see how long this works!

Bath time:
Make it fun – Get some bath toys / water balloons, allow some time for supervised water play – kids love playing with water!
Give her control – “Do you want to put on the soap?” “Do you want to use the red mug or the blue mug?”
What works for us – Water play!! All the way!
Yes! Shampooing is scary for them, with water coming on their face, shampoo going into their eyes. It’s really upon us to make it less scary for them with the right technique / mild shampoo or I’ve seen these hat-like shower caps that’s open in the hair portion – that prevents the shampoo from coming on the face. You can check that out, if it helps!

Dress changes:
Make it fun – Bring the soft toys to life and dress them up, if it helps!
Give her control – “Do you want to wear the red dress or the pink dress?” “You can keep your clothes out from this drawer, we can wear them after bathing.”
What works for us – Offering choices worked for sometime, but then we stumbled upon “Neither A nor B”. So, then we had to go back to storytelling, explaining how some kids don’t have the luxury of so many choices, and everyday while we are saying all of this – we dress her up in something that we’ve chosen. (Hoping this continues to work!)

Diaper changes: (Can I skip this please!!!)
Make it fun – Well, I can’t think of how you can make it fun – except that singing to my daughter while changing the diaper really helped calm her down and co-operate in the process. Looking into their eyes, and engaging them in a story can help too.
Give her control – “Let’s get the diaper from the drawer.” As your toddler grows, you can help her wear her own pull-ups.

Food Struggles:
Make it fun – Involving them in the cooking process does help. I wouldn’t recommend going the extra mile everytime to make food look fancy, as it’s unnecessary and not setting the right expectations for your child – also increasing your workload with no proven benefits.
Give her control – Frankly, this is an area where you cannot and should not control. Our job as parents is to PROVIDE, the kid can choose WHAT to eat and HOW MUCH to eat. Yes, this can sound scary to a lot of parents – but this is the healthiest approach for your child & your family in the long run.
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It requires patience, it demands you to observe and adapt, it needs you to not offer ‘one more bite’ when your child says she’s full. This is an area where you want your child to learn to listen to her body, know her hunger cues and when she’s full – because frankly, we can’t know that.
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As long as your child is active and meeting milestones, you don’t have to stress about food.

Screen-time struggles:
Make it fun – Well, it’s fun already, that’s why they’re demanding more and more of it. So, what’s a healthy limit here?
Quoting from the AAP website – “Avoid digital media for toddlers younger than 18 to 24 months other than video chatting. For children 18 to 24 months, watch digital media with them because they learn from watching and talking with you. Limit screen use for preschool children, ages 2 to 5, to just 1 hour a day of high-quality programming.”
Now, coming to the more difficult part – HOW do you exercise this limit and get your child to co-operate? The answer is – – –
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Give her control – Yes, you’ll be surprised at how well your toddler uses power if you couple it with the right strategies. This is something that has worked beautifully for us, and I’d encourage you to try and adapt this to your child & family as well.
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What works for us – So, till my daughter turned 2, she had zero screentime – except some instances with grandparents or relatives, and video calls. Later, once we introduced her to screens – we noticed the demands would always keep increasing.
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So we decided this must stop and we told her, “Yes, you can watch, but after ONE song – you must switch off the phone by yourself, will you?” She agreed. We helped her out the first few times, reminding her that the song is over, now she must shut the phone (as in ‘sleep mode’) and we showed her how she could do that. Roughly, after the 1oth time – she became a Pro at controlling herself, and shutting the phone after 1 song – and she really enjoyed the ‘power’ she had over the whole thing!
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But then, we hit another roadblock – the request to watch would prop up anytime during the day, whenever she felt bored. Saying No each time would lead to meltdowns, and I realized it was quite vague – like – when do we say ‘Yes’ and when do we say ‘No’?
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So, once again we laid out a plan and told her, “Ok, from today, you can watch one song after every meal.” Note that – we’ve set the limit based on things that she can relate to and understand – Like she can count ONE song, and she knows when she’s had a meal. It’s been working very well so far, and she’s been surprising us with her self-control and mature use of power!
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Try this out with your toddler, and let me know if it works for you. Make sure you try this with an experimentative approach and adapt based on how your child responds, also giving your child TIME to soak in the limit and adapt to it.

Last, but an important piece:
Handling transitions: Often it’s not the act of eating breakfast or dressing up that’s being resisted by your child – but the transition from one activity to the next. Yes, toddlers (and adults, too!) have a tough time transitioning.

A good way to handle transitions is to PREP – telling them in advance about the next activity and talking about how FUN it will be. It works!
Say, “Now, once we’re done with our bath, we’ll go to our bedroom and wear your favorite red dress, and then I’ll tell you a funny story. Yayyy!!”
Or, “Once we’re done brushing, will you give Mumma your pink plate, we’ll have your favorite (food) in it.”

Well…well…well – If you’ve read this far, I hope you’re feeling enlightened, and not overwhelmed!

Thought for Today:

I’d love to hear about your success stories with these strategies, and if they FLOP – do let me know what worked instead, so I can add that to my own repository of ideas – to pull out from when the usual ones don’t work! 😉

NEXT:

We move to the next need for a HAPPIE Toddler i.e. Predictability.

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Access Previous Days In This Series: Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 0 : Laying out Universal Human Needs
Day 1 : Healthy Parent = HAPPIE Child
Day 2 : Making Self-Care A Habit
Day 3 : Meeting your toddler’s physical needs
Day 4: Identifying your own triggers before you tend to your child’s
Day 5: Dealing with feelings of guilt & inadequacy (Moms!)
Day 6: Attention v/s Connection Parenting
Day 7: Ways to connect with your Toddler
Day 8: Making way for ‘special time’
Day 9: Identifying Power Struggles

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Identifying Power Struggles

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Thought Series : Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 9

Moving on to the next most important need that must be satisfied for a HAPPIE Toddler, the need for POWER.

Well, who does not like Power? Let me rephrase it – Who likes to feel ‘powerless’?

As humans, we feel good when we have power over something or someone – it’s natural, and that’s why we knowingly or unknowingly crave for it. And the same is true for your toddler, too.

When your child was born, you saw her like this innocent little tiny and ‘powerless’ being – who was really incapable of doing anything without you! And that image of your baby stays with you, much beyond infancy! But your child grows out of it sooner than you do.

As soon as your child enters toddlerhood, you will see him/her seeking power – often in ways that are irritating and frustrating. And that’s what we call a ‘Power struggle’.

You might have had several encounters with your child, when either one of you ends up being angry / frustrated – that’s when you know it’s a ‘Power Struggle’. It’s like tug of war – only one side can win! The other has to be disappointed.

Today, I want to help you identify the power equation you share with your child, and in which situations do you often have a ‘Struggle for Power’?

Then in the upcoming posts we’ll see how we can ‘not’ engage in the tug of war with our child, and arrive at win-win solutions!

Thought for Today:

What are situations where you are calling the shots i.e. you have the power?
(NOTE: One way to identify these areas is to think when does your child resist the most)
Examples: Food, Clothes, Sleep, Bathtime, Diaper change, Brushing, Other chores

Are there any scenarios where your child can call the shots i.e. the power lies with him / her? If yes, what are they?
Examples: Play (maybe)?

Based on the above evaluation, give a judgement about the Power Equation you have with your child (Parent : Child)
Example: Power equation (Me:My child) = 70:30
I’m sure, you’ll be surprised with this evaluation because you never saw it this way.

Be as authentic as possible, there’s no right or perfect equation here – let this be an objective evaluation of your current situation, so we can know how we can balance it out a little more – and help our little toddler have power in a measure that she can safely handle!

NEXT

We’ll learn how we can balance the power equation through simple actions.

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Access Previous Days In This Series: Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 0 : Laying out Universal Human Needs
Day 1 : Healthy Parent = HAPPIE Child
Day 2 : Making Self-Care A Habit
Day 3 : Meeting your toddler’s physical needs
Day 4: Identifying your own triggers before you tend to your child’s
Day 5: Dealing with feelings of guilt & inadequacy (Moms!)
Day 6: Attention v/s Connection Parenting
Day 7: Ways to connect with your Toddler
Day 8: Making way for ‘special time’

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Making way for ‘special time’

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Thought Series : Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 7

Special Time is a adaptation of ‘Quality Time’ that we all would like to spend with our child. The below article outlines how you can do it.

Read more : How to Special Time

Thought for Today:

When can you make time for ‘special time’ during the day?

What can you do during that time?

How – For younger toddlers, the child-led method that’s suggested would have to be slightly modified,

Use the next few days to try different things and let us know how you’re doing ‘special time’ between you and your child?

NEXT

We’ll delve deeper into the next need for raising a HAPPIE Toddler i.e. POWER.

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Access Previous Days In This Series: Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 0 : Laying out Universal Human Needs
Day 1 : Healthy Parent = HAPPIE Child
Day 2 : Making Self-Care A Habit
Day 3 : Meeting your toddler’s physical needs
Day 4: Identifying your own triggers before you tend to your child’s
Day 5: Dealing with feelings of guilt & inadequacy (Moms!)
Day 6: Attention v/s Connection Parenting
Day 7: Ways to connect with your Toddler

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Ways to connect with your toddler

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Thought Series : Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 7

Continuing our focus on Attention & Connection to raise a HAPPIE Toddler.

Pam Leo, Author of Connection Parenting defines:
Connection as ‘Feeling loved & listened to’, and
Disconnection as ‘Feeling hurt & unheard’.

She says – Provide children with a consistent, loving connection through eye contact, loving touch, respect, listening, and spending time working and playing together.

We’ll use these definitions as a compass throughout our discussions on ‘Connecting with our Toddler’. It sounds pretty simple, isn’t it?

To put it even more simply, you can connect with your child by offering them your undivided time (for listening, playing…) and undivided attention (through eye contact, your loving touch…)

Many a times, thanks to our crazy schedules, work load and other stress, we try to give our kids our time and attention, but often it’s not UNDIVIDED. We’re interrupted by mails or messages or our own wandering thoughts about incomplete tasks and what’s next on our to-do-list.

You’d know how annoying it is when you’re speaking to your spouse, and they keep checking their phone! Do you feel loved, listened to & connected when that happens? Well, imagine the same with your child.

Today, I’d like to explore with you some simple ways in which you can connect with your child. All of the below suggestions are simple things which can help you build trust & connect with your child, IF you couple it with UNDIVIDED TIME & ATTENTION.

  1. Your kid’s daily chores : Brushing, bathing, feeding time, nap time which we often frown upon due to the struggle they often are – can actually be great opportunities to connect if you can infuse some fun in them.
  2. Your daily chores : Cooking, Drying clothes, Dusting are some activities where toddlers love to ‘help’. Including them in safe ways not only helps your child feel involved and loved, but is also a great learning opportunity for them.
  3. Reading & Storytelling : While most toddlers might not show great interest at first due to their short attention spans, being consistent and interesting in your methods can go a long way in instilling creativity and a love for books and reading from an early age. Plus the touch, warmth, glances & time you share during the process creates deep bonds over time.
  4. Play : Play is the ‘work’ of childhood. Play for connection, Play for learning & teaching, child-led play, adult-led / guided play – there are many forms of play, which we’ll try to delve deeper into in future posts. Fun & Play can be infused in about anything and everything you do with your child, and you’ll find yourself magically connecting and bonding!

In short, anything that includes smiles, laughs, giggles, hugs and cuddles – are all ways to fill your child’s cup with connection & meet their need positively so that they don’t have to seek attention through negative behaviors.

Thought for Today:

What are some things you and your child enjoy doing together that involves smiles, laughs, giggles, hugs and cuddles?

If you’d like to add some connection rituals, which of the above suggestions would you like to start experimenting with?

NEXT:

We’ll learn about ‘special time’ and how you can incorporate that in your day or week to connect deeply in a short span of time.

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Access Previous Days In This Series: Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 0 : Laying out Universal Human Needs
Day 1 : Healthy Parent = HAPPIE Child
Day 2 : Making Self-Care A Habit
Day 3 : Meeting your toddler’s physical needs
Day 4: Identifying your own triggers before you tend to your child’s
Day 5: Dealing with feelings of guilt & inadequacy (Moms!)
Day 6: Attention v/s Connection Parenting

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Attention v/s Connection Parenting

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Thought Series : Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 6

This week, we begin our focus on the next need in line – to raise a HAPPIE Toddler – and that’s the need for Attention / Connection.

Now, though I used both the words synonymously, I’d like to begin with dissecting how different these words are and what they mean for your toddler.

Going simply by the dictionary definition of both:
ATTENTION :
* notice taken of someone or something;
* the regarding of someone or something as interesting or important.
* the action of dealing with or taking special care of someone or something.

CONNECTION:
* a relationship in which a person or thing is linked or associated with something/someone else.
* a relation of personal intimacy (as of family ties)

Well, it seems like I can just stop here! It’s so clear, isn’t it!?

Attention is something that anybody can offer, it’s about taking notice of something as important, and taking the necessary action. The need for attention can be fulfilled quickly, with little effort.

But, Connection – is much deeper, and it marks and arises out of the intimate relationship you share with the person, and it’s not something that can happen overnight or in an instant.

A simpler analogy to understand connection would be the idea of ‘soulmates’. We’ve all dreamed of finding our ‘soulmate’ and marrying that person, haven’t we? Someone who could understand us, even when we said nothing! Someone who could see through our eyes, into our hearts and know what we wanted. Haven’t we craved for that kind of connection!? Well, been there.. done that!

What I realized (as I grew older and wiser) was that – there’s no one who’s born as my soulmate, but I can become someone’s soulmate (and vice versa) by trying each day, to understand, to be and to do the best I can!

What if, each day, we work towards becoming our child’s soulmate, and understanding his/her said and unsaid needs!

Our toddlers (and humans, in general) crave for connection. Seeking attention is just one of the ways in which they’re communicating their deeper need for connection.

For today, I’d just like you to mull over this.

Thought for Today

On a scale of 1 to 10 (One being the minimum) –
How would you rate the attention you are giving your child every day?
How would you rate the connection you feel with your child every day?

TOMORROW:

We’ll begin looking at ‘connection rituals’ you can establish in your day in short spurts of time.

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Access Previous Days In This Series: Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 0 : Laying out Universal Human Needs
Day 1 : Healthy Parent = HAPPIE Child
Day 2 : Making Self-Care A Habit
Day 3 : Meeting your toddler’s physical needs
Day 4: Identifying your own triggers before you tend to your child’s
Day 5: Dealing with feelings of guilt & inadequacy (Moms!)

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Dealing with feelings of guilt & inadequacy (Moms!)

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Thought Series : Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 5

Hi everyone – Last thought for our focus on ‘HEALTH’ – You & Your child’s.

A small exercise to help all the Stay-At-Home (SAH) Mums & Working Mums align their priorities, values & actions.

Why? Because based on my discussions with a lot of Moms – I realized that there’s a common feeling of guilt & inadequacy in ALL moms !!
Working Mums feel like, “I can’t spend enough time with my child. Am I doing enough?”
SAH Mums feel like, “All day, I’m JUST at home looking after my child. Am I doing enough?”

These feelings constantly drain our mental and emotional energy, leaving us with little or no juice left for our child. And so, it’s important that we deal with it, again so that we can offer our best to our child.

I believe, a lot of the feeling of inadequacy stems from our own lack of appreciation for ‘What we want from ourselves & our lives?’ We all have our kids as our FIRST priority – but what else is most important to us.

We must clearly identify that and take whatever steps we can to fulfill those other priorities also. What could the other priorities be?

  • Your hobbies / interests
  • Your work
  • In general, actions that relate to & satisfy your core values

Thought for Today

  1. Today, let’s choose 5 core values from the below list (image) and think of what are we doing / what can we do to fulfill those core values on a regular basis:
From my course ‘Find your Focus’ on Skillshare

2. Once you have listed your 5 core values, create ‘I want’ statements based on those core values. Below is an example of how I’ve done it.

From my course ‘Find your Focus’ on Skillshare

3. Once you have these goals before you, list what can you do / what are you doing to meet these goals and core values.

In my case, whatever I’m doing now – teaching, blogging, working from home – all of it aligns with these core values & life goals – and it gives me a sense of peace and accomplishment, a feeling of adequacy whenever I feel low.

All this did not happen overnight. It has taken me more than a year to reach this state of alignment where I feel worthy and useful, in whatever I’m doing.

I’d love to see all Moms – SAHM or Working – to feel fulfilled EACH and EVERYday – because you really are doing a GREAT JOB!!!

Let me know your thoughts!!

TOMORROW:

We begin our focus on the next need to raise a HAPPIE Toddler, that’s Attention / Connection.

Access Previous Days In This Series: Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 0 : Laying out Universal Human Needs
Day 1 : Healthy Parent = HAPPIE Child
Day 2 : Making Self-Care A Habit
Day 3 : Meeting your toddler’s physical needs
Day 4: Identifying your own triggers before you tend to your child’s

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Identifying your own triggers before you tend to your child’s

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Thought Series : Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 4

From the moment, I’ve experienced ‘being a parent’ – I can say with all my heart & might that ‘Parenting is not for the faint-hearted.’

The cuteness, the excitement – everything wears off, and then you’re left squandering in the muck with your toddler, his/her struggles plus the tantrums, your chores, office stress, the guilt and the nagging thought that “you’re not doing enough!”.

With all the physical, mental and emotional weariness – it’s no surprise that we often lose it, and end up venting out our frustrations on our children. Sadly, they often become easy targets, because we know we can’t safely vent out by hitting or yelling at another adult in the family!

What’s worse, is the guilt-trip that ensues later!! Driving us into a deeper pit!

Let me tell you – this is not how motherhood or parenting a toddler is meant to be. It can be far more civil, peaceful and fun – if only we achieve two things:

  1. Understand our toddler better (especially his/her needs)
  2. Understand ourselves better ( our needs, priorities & triggers)

Throughout this thought series ‘Raising a HAPPIE Toddler’ – we will delve much deeper into your toddler’s needs. But I want to take a day or two out to help us sort ourselves first – as mothers, as human beings – so that we can serve our best selves to our children, when they need us the most.

Today, in specific, I’d like to focus on OUR TRIGGERS.

We’ve cursorily discussed before that ‘Unmet needs lead to Misbehavior’ in toddlers, which means that misbehavior is always triggered.

The same holds true for you, Momma!

If you’ve misbehaved – by yelling, scolding or hitting your child (when you know you could have handled it better, often as an after-thought) – it’s important to acknowledge that you were triggered!

What could those triggers be?

  • Office stress, bad boss, bitching colleagues, office politics…….
  • A family member saying something
  • Your spouse not saying something, when you wanted or expected
  • Physical weariness
  • Not feeling good about yourself – for not spending the day, the way you had planned or wished
  • Your child did something!!

A BIG FAT NOTE : You might often feel your child’s misbehavior was the trigger for your misbehavior. But if you dig deeper into your own heart & mind, you will know – that the REAL trigger was hidden deep within. Your child just pushed you off the edge.

“When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it’s our job to share our calm, not join their chaos.”

L.R. Knost

How can we share our calm with our child, if our inner self – our mind and heart – is in chaos?

A little step we can take today is to at least identify our triggers. Becoming aware of our triggers, will help us identify when we must be careful with our actions, especially towards our child.

And next time, you realize a hidden trigger which can potentially harm your child (through words/actions) – it’s best to ‘LEAVE’.

Leave your child with another caring adult, and
Leave the scene to take care of your own self first!
Come back renewed, and share your peace, calm and joy with your child!

THOUGHT for TODAY

What are your triggers? Identify & list them down.
Next time, you feel triggered, you know what to do (and what NOT to do!)

Reminder: Are you keeping your self-care promise from Day2?

TOMORROW:

We take a quick look at our PRIORITIES, and are we really living up to them.
That will mark the end of our focus on ‘Physical Well Being /Health’ – Ours & Our Child’s.

Access Previous Days In This Series: Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 0 : Laying out Universal Human Needs
Day 1 : Healthy Parent = HAPPIE Child
Day 2 : Making Self-Care A Habit
Day 3 : Meeting your toddler’s physical needs

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Meeting your toddler’s physical needs

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Thought Series : Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 3

It’s never very challenging for a mother to judge and provide for her toddler’s physical needs.

With the experience of heeding to her infant’s needs with almost 100% accuracy, even when the baby could not say a single word – mothers are often masters at watching out for cues of hunger, thirst, sleep and pee/poop.

Besides this, it’s also worthwhile to check if your toddler gets a regular dose of :

  • touch & warmth: that provides a sense of safety & security
  • physical movement/exercise: indoor & outdoor (with daylight exposure)
Universal Human Needs – For Physical Well Being

All of the above are pretty much taken care of by most parents. But, there’s one mostly unexplored territory of physical needs.

Often parents notice their toddler to be excessively clingy or cranky for no apparent reason. Here’s when you might be dealing with a – Growth Spurt

What is a Growth Spurt?

A growth spurt is a sudden peak in your child’s physical or cognitive development.

Signs of Growth Spurt in Toddlers

A growth spurt can last for a few days during which your toddler will show one or more of the below signs:

  • Your child eats more or becomes ‘unusually’ fussy about food.
  • Sleeps more or has ‘unusual’ trouble sleeping
  • Is more cranky than usual (often because of growth pains)
  • Is more clingy than usual and demands more attention
  • Could be shyer with strangers
  • Younger toddlers demand more breastfeeds.

In short, your toddler behaves ‘unusually’ – they are going through something they don’t / can’t understand, and you can expect the unease to be expressed in any of the above extremes.

The best help you can be for your child during a growth spurt, is to ‘Be Present‘.

If your child is (unusually) super clingy / cranky for a few days – it’s best to tick off any other basic needs of hunger/sleep – and then understand that this could be a growth spurt.

During this phase, provide your child your warmth and presence, nothing heals their bodies and minds better.

The brighter side to a growth spurt

The brighter side to a growth spurt is that – at the end of it – you will find your toddler having gained a little weight,
or added a few inches in height or ,
or a new tooth in younger toddlers,
or your toddler would have mastered a skill that she had been trying for sometime – like starting to speak using more words.

THOUGHT for TODAY

Have you noticed any signs of growth spurt in your toddler?

What were they?

Reminder: Have you created your self-care promise from Day2, and are you keeping it?

TOMORROW:

Before we delve deeper into the other needs for a HAPPIE Toddler, there are two things we need to deal with as parents – Our Triggers & Our Priorities.

Access Previous Days In This Series: Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 0 : Laying out Universal Human Needs
Day 1 : Healthy Parent = HAPPIE Child
Day 2 : Making Self-Care A Habit

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Making Self-Care A Habit

Sharing is Caring!

Thought Series : Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 2

This week, we’re focusing on the most basic and fundamental human need : Health / Physical well-being.

We’ve already established why we’re focusing on Self-Love and Self-Care first, before we deep-dive into loving & caring for our toddler’s needs. It’s because – it is impossible to give our BEST to our child, when we are feeling our WORST.

Sacrificing your own needs, in little things, on a daily basis – knowingly or unknowingly builds up frustration within you. As your own unmet needs begin to pile up, you drown deeper into your own misery – and how can you help your child with his/her needs from a deep pit?

And so, I really want you and me to first cater to our own self so that we can tend to our dear child, in our best capacity. It’s like the announcement made before every flight –

During an emergency, make sure you wear your own oxygen mask FIRST, before you help your child with his.

Today, we’ll learn how we can make self-love & self-care a sustainable habit. It does not have to be something elaborate. Just a tiny little habit or a bunch of tiny habits throughout the day, to help you function at your optimum – for your child.

(A side note: This time, last year – I had published a course on ‘How to make/break habits’ based on my learnings from the classics – The Habit Loop by Charles Duhigg, Atomic Habits by James Clear and B J Fogg’s work on Tiny Habits. Here below, I’m trying to put all of it in the smallest nutshell possible!)

So, here’s how we do it: Establishing a Self-Love/Care Habit

Step 1: Choose a tiny self-care action that can be done in less than 15 mins.

Example: For my physical well-being, I want to take my vitamins daily.

Step 2: Choose a time – before / after an already established habit or routine.

Example: After breakfast, I will take my vitamins.

Step 3: Reward yourself – Put a tick on the calendar, earn a streak of 3 days and treat yourself & your child to an ice-cream – anything small to help you stick with the routine & make it a habit.

Now, the secret : If you do this chose self-care action everyday – for 3 days in a row, then 7 days, then 10 days – till the end of 10 weeks – you have a NEW HABIT in place, and you will no longer have to put any effort into doing it. It becomes automatic!

Let’s take a few more examples:

  1. For my physical well-being, after I wake up – I’ll exercise for at least 15 minutes.
  2. For my mental well-being, after my daughter naps – I’ll spend at least 15 mins reading.
  3. For my emotional well-being, before lunch – I’ll spend at least 15 minutes with my

Hope you’ve got the flow: The KEY to successfully building a habit – is to be as SPECIFIC as possible, and to keep the habit as TINY as possible, and to do it DAILY till the end of 10 weeks.

THOUGHT for TODAY

Create and share your own Self-Care/Love Promise using this template:
For my ___________ (physical/mental/emotional) well-being,
before/after ____________(an established routine),
I will _________________ (new habit)

Put it up on the mirror, as a daily reminder – Along with this quote:

When I became a Mom, I did not stop being ‘human’ – my well-being is important for my child’s well-being. So, just like always – I’ll do this for ______ (your child’s name).

TOMORROW

I’ll remind you about your self-love promise at least for the next 7 days.
We’ll deep-dive into the different aspects of your child’s physical well-being & health.

Access Previous Days In This Series: Raising a HAPPIE Toddler

Day 0 : Laying out Universal Human Needs
Day 1 : Healthy Parent = HAPPIE Child

Sharing is Caring!