Thursday, 9 March 2017

Handling Toddlerhood Gently And Respectfully

Baobao turned 2 a month ago. She is fiercely independent and already has a good idea of how things should be, and so she tends to have tantrums at least once a day. We try to handle these moments in her day as gently and respectfully as possible.

In order to do this, we try to implement ideas from Attachment Parenting, Gentle Parenting and RIE that chime with us. One of the ideas we try to use all the time is Sarah Ockwell-Smith's 7 Cs of Gentle Parenting. Here is how we try to implement them at home:

  • Connection
    Connection is incredibly important to both Baobao and I. We worked hard to build a connection over her first year, when I struggled to bond after a long labour and difficulty breastfeeding. Bedsharing easily saved me in that first year. With the birth of Xiaobao though, we felt that connection being weakened, so we have been working hard again to repair our connection.

    Ways we have done that is to include a time each day, while Xiaobao naps, where we do activities together. This allows Baobao some special mama time. She also comes into our bed whenever she wakes in the middle of the night, where we will snuggle together.
  • Communication
    Baobao is quite good with communication. She can name her feelings, as well as verbalise what would make her feel happy. To communicate respectfully with Baobao, we get down on their level and try to be very clear in what we mean. We don't shy away from using "grown-up" words. Instead we explain what they mean. We try to speak positively, telling her what we want her to do, instead of what we don't want her to do. Most of all, we try not to shout.
  • Control
    Baobao is very independent and we try to fascilitate that independence, while setting appropriate boundaries. Following montessori principles is brilliant for this. Baobao is able to access snacks and water independently, and supports me in caring for Xiaobao. 
  • Containment
    Baobao, like other children this age, has very big emotions. She can be like a container ready to boil over. I see it as my job to allow her to feel those emotions, by calmly supporting her. At times it is hugely difficult and those are the times that I need to empty my own container. I do this by crafting, reading and talking to friends and my partner.
  • Champion
    I champion Baobao at all times. I do this by trying to think things through and decide whether they are for Baobao's benefit or for my own or somebody else's. I also do this, by following the same principals and steps when she tantrums outside of the home, as if she were tantruming at home, defending her if omebody comments negatively.
  • Confidence
    Baobao is generally quite confident, but he also has times when she is more introverted and quiet. During these times, I don't force her to socialise or seperate from me. Instead I allow her to explore in her own time, returning to me for reassurance as often as she needs. 
  • Consistency
    Consistency is important at any age, but more so during toddlerhood when children are first learning about boundaries. Sometimes it feels like we are constantly repeating ourselves, but this repetition is part of how children learn. It can become frustrating, at which point I need to go back to containment and emptying my own container.
 Are you parenting gently and respectfully? How do you implement the 7 Cs at home? Would you do anything differently?

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