By Kelly Winder
It’s many a parent’s frustration: your baby has finally fallen asleep in your arms, and you want to put her down so you can have a break, go to the toilet or even feed yourself! You quietly tiptoe towards your baby’s bed, doing your very best not to disturb her. At a painfully slow speed and with super smooth motion, you lower her into bed. But no, the minute she hits the mattress, she looks at you with those, ‘I can’t believe you tried put me down!’ puppy dog eyes. She’s wide awake. It’s all over. She wants to be back in your arms. No matter how many times you try, or how deep a sleep you think she is in, it happens again. And again. Why? Why Does My Baby Wake Up When I Put Her Down? There are two main reasons: Firstly, it’s important to understand that a baby’s sleep cycle is different from that of an adult. It takes up to 20 minutes for babies to reach a deep sleep. This means your baby will wake easily, if disturbed before this time. Part of the problem could be you’ve tried to put your baby down too soon. However, some parents find that even waiting longer doesn’t seem to help – which brings us to the second reason. Unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on how you look at it — it’s not something you can control or change. –
by Aha Parenting
“Whenever I held my newborn baby in my arms, I used to think that what I said and did to him could have an influence not only on him but on all whom he met, not only for a day or a month or a year, but for all eternity – a very challenging and exciting thought for a mother.” — Rose Kennedy
Most parents take their job as teachers very seriously. We teach our kids colors. ABCs. Taking turns. Right from wrong.
But sometimes we don’t even notice a much more important lesson we’re imparting to our children: how to manage their feelings, and therefore their behavior. This is the basis of emotional intelligence (EQ), which will determine their quality of life much more fundamentally than their IQ.
Kids learn how to manage “big feelings” when we:
- Stay calm and kind in the face of their upset.
- Accept their feelings even while we limit their actions.
- Respond to their anger with compassion, so they can show us the tears and fears behind their anger.
Research shows that their brains learn to self soothe through this process. Eventually, they learn to stabilize themselves even in the face of stressful situations and emotions.
That’s the unconditional love that we all know every child needs.
1. Permissive: Say “yes” (then prepare to serve cookies for lunch and cake for dinner).
2. Authoritative: Say “no” directly and firmly (then prepare to stand your ground as there will likely be a protest).
3. Exhausted: Scream “never” (because it’s only 7:15 a.m. and you’re already exhausted).
4. Denial: Pretend none of it is happening and hide in the bathroom for a while. (It is the morning after all; you could conceivably be getting ready.)
5. Connected: Empathize (e.g., “I hear you—yum!”); be playful (e.g., “Why not make it a sundae?”); and then guide your child toward another option (e.g., “How about we save that for the weekend and we eat it together?”)
Although many of us probably use a mix of the styles above, most may lean in one direction or another. I try to practice as well as advocate for connected parenting, aligned with a conscious, positive and peaceful approach. Yet this approach is not for the faint of heart.
Connected parenting is really just what it sounds like—in every situation, you try to empathically connect with your children and see their perspective before guiding them.
While I firmly believe connected parenting reaps meaningful relationships for both parents and children, I also feel that a vital piece of the discourse is missing. We fail to be open about the amount of energy this parenting style requires.
In fact, of all the parenting examples above, connected parenting requires the most effort in many respects.
My 4-year-old was climbing into bed, his face turned away from me and toward the wall, when he asked the question.
His tone made the question sound like an afterthought, but I know better. Glenn is the opposite of an afterthought; he’s the tiger lovey blanket my son has been carting around with him since he was old enough to maintain a tight grasp.
My husband offered to head back downstairs to search, and I absently commented that I actually hadn’t seen Glenn around that evening, which was unusual.
At that, my son slowly turned around to face me but without making eye contact, his mind racing. His eyes were fixed on some background point as his mouth twisted and turned with each darting thought. They met mine only as he realized it, his shoulders straightening and his back growing taller as the panic scaled him.
Finally, the shout: “I left Glenn in the back of Gigi’s car!!!”
Gigi, of course, was one state away by this point, which means we were facing my son’s first night since he was an infant—the first night ever in his little memory—without Glenn curled up in the crook of his arm.
Oh, sure, we’d lost Glenn before, but he’d always been found before bedtime, even if sometimes it required what felt like hours of searching. And then there was the time my son held him out the car window and accidentally let go, so Glenn spent a bit of time playing chicken on the yellow lines of a busy street.
But still, there had never been a bedtime without Glenn.
The initial shock was, of course, followed by electric currents of anger that coursed through my son’s little body. He punched the air and gritted his teeth and screamed, “I WILL NOT SLEEP WITHOUT GLENN! I WILL NOT GO TO BED UNTIL HE’S HERE! I WILL NOT GO TO BED EVER AGAIN!” More punching, more gritting, a few angry flops onto the floor.
At this point my husband had returned from his futile search, and was looking at me for direction. How are we handling this one, mama?
I don’t know if the look I shot back reflected confidence, wisdom, and clarity, but believe it or not, that’s what I felt.
Because right when I needed it most, I remembered the train analogy.
Popular parenting wisdom advises dealing with toddler tantrums in one of two ways. Ignore the ‘attention seeking behaviour’ and reward the toddler when they are good, or discipline the toddler by punishing them through exclusion. The naughty step and time out are commonplace in millions of homes around the world. Do they really work though? Child psychology and neuroscience says otherwise. Here are four reasons why you may want to reconsider your response the next time your toddler has a tantrum.
1. Toddlers can’t help tantruming.
Toddlers tantrum for one simple reason, their brains are not like adults. The immature connections in their brain don’t afford them the same emotion control as us. Our sophisticated brains allow us to control our impulses, act in a way that we know to be socially acceptable and calm our emotions before we become violent or out of control. Toddlers physically can’t do this. When they tantrum they are not being naughty or manipulative, they’re just being toddlers struggling with big feelings, poor communication skills and even poorer emotion regulation skills. To us it may seem ridiculous to tantrum over the colour of a cup or the shape sandwiches are cut into, but to a toddler these things are as important as paying our rent or our mortgage is to us. Just because it’s not ‘big stuff’ to us, it doesn’t mean it isn’t to the toddler.