August 30, 2016

Handling toddler's momentary mood

I pick A at her school and get into the hire-cab. A cries saying 'I don't want this car seat, I don't want to sit on this seat'. She tries to place herself at the very edge so that she doesn't get a feel of that car seat, still crying. Then, she moves up, crying, 'I want to remove my shoes'. Then she makes herself comfortable on my lap and continues in a similar fashion for some time of our journey back home.

Upon reaching home, right when we need to get off the cab, she cries 'saying she wants to wear her slippers herself, she wants to move out of the car seat herself, she wants to get down the cab herself'. Slight touch of my hand on hers results in a screeching cry saying 'I will get down myself, don't help me'. All this while, the cab driver is busy looking at me and wondering when I would vacate his cab.

She is now off the cab, standing on the ground. Just after I arrange all the four bags I get to carry everyday and turn to take a step(just turned, didn't move yet), there comes the next cry 'Wait until I put on the belt of my slippers'. I stand there waiting for her. Next, she says, 'I want to remove the belt'. I say, OK and wait further. Next, she says 'I want to put on the belt' and this time, she pulls her pant little up. I ask her if she wants to put it down for which i get the reply 'No, the bow at the bottom of my pant is pricking me, I don't want this'. I am still standing there acknowledging whatever she says.
Just when I say, 'Come, let's go home', I hear another cry saying 'No, I don't want to move'.

After managing to get her until the entrance of my house, she steps inside and again cries 'Let's stand here, do not move'. I did what she said.

Another evening, she cries, 'I don't want to put on the belt of my shoes'. Walked for a while with the belt open and next moment, she suddenly breaks into tears saying 'I want to put on the belt'.

We reach the floor of our house and start walking from the elevator towards home. She runs towards the house while I am walking slowly. She then comes back crying towards the elevator saying 'she would count numbers and then start running'. I said 'OK' and started walking back towards her. By the time I reach her, she is again crying 'You should also stand at the elevator'. Just as I was explaining to her that I was walking towards it, she is already broken in tears and on the ground.

A needs to wash her hands and I ask her to follow me to the kitchen by gently patting on her shoulder. Next moment, she is on the ground saying, 'I will come to the kitchen myself, you should not hold me'.

After washing, she wipes her hand with towel and tries to hang it on the rod in a particular way. When she doesn't get it right, she doesn't want us to take the towel and put it properly. She shouldn't be disturbed in her attempts, else, it is crying on the floor that we need to face.

A needs to go potty and I pick up the step stool to put it for her to climb over. All I hear is her cry saying 'I will put it myself, you shouldn't get it'.

When walking along with A, she sometimes wants me to walk behind her, sometimes by her side and sometimes ahead of her while she says she wants to walk like a tortoise. Just as we start walking, as soon as I get a hint of her cry that was going to start, I immediately assess her mood and make a guess of how she wants me to walk along. I continue talking to her in a rhythmic, calm tone all along my trials of making the guess work. Talking soothingly and listening to your child even before the need is expressed(young children CANNOT express their needs yet) are the key things that work to make peace in the relation.

I am sure, every parent has a list of hundred such scenarios with young children and toddlers.
So, how do you handle them? How do you react? What do you speak at that moment when you know no reason for your child's cry? Do you yell? Do you get irritated? Do you ignore them? Do you reply 'OK, do whatever, I am leaving'?

Of course, each one of us is unique and would have different kinds of reaction, different mindsets to handle such cranky situations.

All I wish to share here is, 'watch your reaction'. If you are irritated, you get back irritation. If you are loving, you get back love. If you are willing to hear, you get back patience from your innocent child. If you are yelling, you get back an angry reaction from the child. If you are gentle, you get back peaceful reaction from the child.

Every action of the child, here called as an event, has a cause for it. But, when we look at that event alone, all we see is the doer who is the child and the action at that moment. If you go a little beyond that moment and analyse what thought pattern could have caused that action, I am sure you could trace and shortlist some possible reasons for your child's behaviour in that event. (Refer # 2 below)

The point is, we do not tend to think beyond what we see. We don't expand our horizon of imagination. We only focus on what is visible in front of our eyes at any given moment and assume that the event contains all the necessary details for our analysis - the doer, the act and the reason for that act. Next is, we draw conclusions based on this limited thinking and judge the event, judge our little children, giving them names and attributes such as stubborn, greedy, angry, short-tempered, moody, naughty, disobedient etc.

How did the child develop a behavioural pattern, in the first place? It is by observing the visible and invisible behavioural patterns of their immediate caretakers, the parents. Yes, some are visible to the child and some invisible, yet, the child has the ability to perceive them. For example, you are irritated and just when you wanted to yell, you don't yell trying to control it and think that the child didn't know your immediate reaction to her action. But, children understand everything right from when they are in mother's womb. Even newborns understand all what is going on around them, not necessarily conveyed in speech or showed in actions. Children have the spiritual power to feel the vibrations of their surrounding. Whatever is the vibration surrounding them, it is the same vibration that they pick up. Hence, the primary behavioural pattern of children is set based on the immediate family members. I could write on behavioural patterns more elaborately, but, the main intention of this post would be lost. Let me halt for now.

Coming back to our analysis of the 'event', where, we do not know the reason why the toddler is crying, why she is rolling on the floor, why she is singing happily at one moment and crying on the floor the next moment, what should be our reaction? The child herself doesn't know why she behaves that way, she doesn't know how her mind functions, she doesn't know how and why her body acts in a particular way. How can she answer the infinite questions that you get on her actions?

So, here are some points to remember:
  1. Their brain is not completely developed to tune their behaviour in public places.
  2. A child might have had a tiring day, just as an adult, and hence the irritation. Or, may be, the child was wanting some personal time with caregiver for which she kept waiting and hence, the sudden down pour of tears refusing all that is offered to her. Spending some quality time with young children is very important for their emotional development. Don't just focus on engaging her someway, try to have some quiet time talking about various things with your child. The child has to be emotionally content for her to develop a sound behaviour as she grows up. Another reason could be strong-will, having a strong will to do things on own. Best way to react to such children is to encourage them with a little guidance. You should appreciate the fact that the child is making an attempt to do things on her own. Do you want to discourage her by yelling 'See, I told you, you cannot do it, I would do, but you refuse to listen' or encourage her by teaching the right way to do it?
  3. A toddler cannot tell you 'Ma, I am very tired today, I want to rest'. She simply screams and gets irritated to whatever you offer. Hug her tight and talk to her soothingly, everything comes to peace.
  4. So, you had a hectic day and you expect your child would co-operate with you staying calm however hectic her day was? Leave alone how she handles her tiredness, she doesn't even know how to express her thoughts to you. 
  5. Who should be calm? Who is expected to be cranky?
  6. Remember that your child is continuously learning from the way you react to her actions. Do you want to teach her a better way of handling the self or do you want to get irritated and make her further cranky?
  7. Whatever mood you are in, it is immediately transferred to your child. That is how the child learns from surrounding and develops her personality. If you are cheerful(despite your hectic day) and handle your child with patience, your child will get into peaceful terms with you. If you are irritated, start yelling at your child, your child will surely pick up the negative frequency and develop the same irritable mood.
  8. Before you react to any of your child's actions, question yourself 'What are you teaching your child with that reaction of yours?' and your reactions would surely move to the positive plane of energy.
  9. Most of adult behaviour stems from his/her early childhood experiences. When the child is emotionally content, learning peace from family members, he/she is sure growing up to an adult who can handle pain/violence in the world in a positive manner.
  10. To teach any child, techniques of staying calm, first, the parent has to learn to stay calm. 
Hoping to see more of positive parenting in the view to raise a whole generation of kids who would have a better perspective of life. 

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August 21, 2016

Race track for balls, cars

The one I made may not look very colourful to kids but is definitely very interesting to play and learn about tracks. You could try making it with better finish/colours/paint etc.
I couldn't spend much time on it as I was making it while A was waiting to get her hands on what I was making. She was asking me what I was making and what we could do with it. Hence, I finished it with just the basic materials I had around me.

You can have a race between balls or cars. Explain to your child what a track is and how the ball/car goes only on its own track. They cannot change track because of the barricade placed. Whoever reaches the finish point first will be the winner.

Teach your child what winning is while also talking about what 'not winning' is. Maker her friendly even to the concept of 'not winning' and ask her to be more determined the next time she's playing and she could win it. Do not focus only on making your child a winner every time. Let her come second and tell her there's nothing wrong in it. All we do is make a genuine effort, analyse what went wrong and rectify our next attempt.

Usually, 5-6 year olds feel disheartened upon losing to their play mates. Instead of taking it in positive spirit, they take to crying/cursing/finding faults in the other person's play Make sure you often talk to your child what winning and losing is.

Materials required:
Card board box, cardboard sheets, paper, gift paper, cello tape, scissors.

Glue the card board sheets across one dimension of the cardboard box - to represent tracks.

Make tiny holes just to fit in some balls/cars at one end of the track.

This is how it looks. You could make it more colourful. As A was waiting for me to finish, I could not work on it more.

Tiny holes made just to fit in balls/cars.

Each of us inserts a balls into the hole and gives a small push.

Balls reaching finish point in their own tracks.

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Revealing figures/stories in parts

I tried this randomly with just cat and mickey mouse when I observed that A was quite surprised in how the cat took shape while asking me to repeat. Of course, along with just showing the paper, it is also important to talk in order to hold the child's attention by expressing your enthusiasm in your tone.

Materials needed: Paper, scissors, pen

Depending on how much width your figure/story would occupy, cut vertical strips of paper.

Fold the paper vertically, not exactly to half, but after leaving some crease on the bottom paper.

Repeat these folds depending on how big your paper(figure/story) is.

Draw figure/story across the whole length of paper (spreads across two folds).

Now, start with showing the completely opened paper to child and ask her/him to guess what it is.

Then, shoot similar questions after folding the paper once.

Then complete the story/figure by folding it the second time


When concluding, enact being a cat while making some funny sounds and greeting your child.

Row, row, row your boat on a sunny day:

Jingle bells, jingle bells: Jingle bells is one of the songs that A likes to keep humming and singing. Hence I usually make a story out of it too. Saying, on the evening of christmas, children decorate each of their X-Mas tree wait for Santa Claus to arrive and so on..

Mickey Mouse:

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August 20, 2016

Making Alphabets and Numbers

This one is very interesting way to learn alphabets and numbers.

Letter K:

K for Kite:

Number 5:

Letter I:

I for Icecream:

Letter D:

Letter B:

B for Ball and B for Butterfly:

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Counting while sticking

Most children love handling glue and sticking things around. It would be good to combine counting along with the sticking activity. While teaching counting, it is very important to teach the value of zero, i.e., zero means there is nothing. 

This is a simple activity where she is asked to stick the mentioned number of pieces in each block.

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Making Shapes - Circle

Understanding shapes is very interesting to young children. How about getting their hands-on in making some of them?

This one is to depict a circle. We had made a clock with movable hands. Though A doesn't understand how to read a clock, when asked what time is it, she says some random time that comes to her mind. Also, she keeps asking me what time is her breakfast time, lunch time, dinner time and sleep time. This sounds very interesting.

Materials required: Cardboard, chart paper, sketch pen, scissors, glue, thread, needle

Here is what we did:

  • Cut the cardboard and chart paper in circle shape. 
  • Stick the cut chart paper on cardboard. 
  • Write number 1-12 while explaining to your child what they are about
  • Cut two strips of hard paper for hour and minute hand
  • Insert needle into the thread and make a knot with both ends of thread across the needle.
  • Insert the needle along with thread, at the center of the circle
  • At the other side of the circle, cut off the needle and knot the ends of thread.
  • Now show your child how she could move the hour hand and minute hand to depict time

Simple, isn't it?

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August 08, 2016

Toddler: Feelings and Emotions

A is in that phase of toddlerhood where she is able to communicate fluently but right when she is stuck with something it doesn't strike to her that she needs to TALK about it, ASK what went wrong and then try to fix it (with help).

Yes, she speaks out all her wants and needs, but, what about feelings and emotions? No, they cannot yet put their feelings in words. It is not that they just cannot. The moment you realise that the child is not able to speak her feelings is when she is in the right stage to learn to speak out her feelings. Yes, she needs to learn, she learns from parents who hear her disturbed voice, she learns from the mother who understands her screeching cry, she learns from a patient observer of her behaviour.

It feels like she talks almost everything that the world contains but right when it comes to sharing her feelings, or conveying her mood swings, it's all down there where she may be just crying out ot showing her frustration in her tone to catch our attention and try to get some comfort from us.

So, are you teaching what has to be done, how the child can deal with various seemingly simple things that seem to go nowhere to her. Or, are you in turn getting frustrated and teaching just the disturbed feelings during those times of need?

Like, say the child has running nose, child may show irritation in tone while calling out for mother, or, child is drawing something that she wants to show to her mother while the mother is busy cooking, child is trying to open the door while it got stuck for which the child seems to scream out loud, I am sure there would be many more for which toddlers get to crying to vent out their feelings.
Remember one important point, every action of toddler depends on how the mother is reacting to her/his desire and talking always helps. Say, you are very  busy in the kitchen so immersed in cooking that you don't pay heed to what your child is asking for and you yell 'not now, just wait'. This moment, the second right at that moment, the child feels some sort of emptiness in whatever she is doing and feeling. She wanted a person to share something and her desire was rejected. Imagine yourself in that situation, calling out for someone for which you receive the same yelling response. Would you stay calm? Would you want to talk to that person even more to understand what exactly went wrong and why the reaction was such? Would you want to ask him the reason for his violent reaction? Would you make him understand that he could have conveyed the same message little pleasantly? Answer is YOU WOULD.

Yes, most adults see children as just a child over whom they have a right to yell/scream to set things right and not as just another individual who should be respected every moment whatever is the phase of life the child is going through.

Talk to your child just as you would talk to another adult or even to yourself and see how much different your tone,voice and behaviour would be when you shift your mindset.

Not many days ago, A had a bow tied behind her dress. She wanted to see how the bow at her back exactly looked and tried to turn over to reach her sight just to that point where the bow was. Undoubtedly, she couldn't do it, she was not able to see the bow and she started to communicate her inability of seeing it in her behaviour and voice - restlessly looking this way, that way with some uhs and ahs. I heard her, I heard her communicate not in proper words but in her voice and body language. This is the most important means of communication with little kids. And, I took over the talking, as usual. 'A, you can't completely see your own back. See, I turn behind but I cannot see my back completely. Now, can you see my back?'. 'Yes, I can see your back'. 'True, and, I can see your back. But when I try to look at my back, I cannot do it completely. We can see all that is in front of us but not that which is behind us' and gave her some examples. She was convinced, got her answer, emotionally content with my reaction and now, yet another, happy child. All they want is our support in understanding things.

In another incident, on a routine morning when the school rush begins, she came right to me for her brush and bath time. In just 5 seconds, her mood changed, she doesn't want to brush her teeth, she only wants to bathe and play with water. All this - what she wants and what she doesn't want - how does the mother know all this? The child doesn't put all that in words, obviously. All that the child does is crying or saying no to everything you offer her. This is when you start questioning. Try not to focus on just getting the work done. Work will any way be done. do you want it to be completed with a pleasant atmosphere or do you want chaos? Choice is yours. Child behaves as per the adult's reaction. So, without losing a moment(remember, it is time to rush to school), you question your child. 'Let me know what you want to do. Give some options if available at that instant'. 'Bath, no brush (with moist eyes and dragging tone)'. 'OK. 3 or 4 mugs of  water, then brush, then again water and only water. OK?' 'OK. (smiling) I want 3, 3 mugs of water'. 'OK, brush, right?'. 'Just another mug, it will make 4 mugs of water'. 'OK, the last mug and then brush?'. 'Yes, yes, 4'. 'OK, 4...and n-o-w b-r-u-s-h(in a rhythmic tone, not just ordering the child) and then back to water. yay!. 'Yes, brush. (opens her mouth)'. (brush complete'. 'Back to water and bath'. Child gets back to cheerful mood.

You see, it is not about the destination but the journey that keeps us going and cheerful. Your child will any way eat, sleep, brush, bath, get ready and do all that you want her to do. But it is the process that you choose to get it done is what that matters more.

When each one of us analyses any of the incidents that she/he might have faced with their own child, starts thinking if the reaction was apt, if the child's behaviour was satisfying or could have been better, knowing the change in their reaction that could cause the child to learn better behaviour and body language and modifies the parenting style, we can raise a whole generation of emotionally content and happy individuals who can contribute better to the society around us.

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