Building a home in each other

After two and a half years of hardcore saving and budgeting, hubby and I are finally in the process of buying our first house, and just in time for baby Sabrina!

Up until this point, I think we’ve moved enough times to be classified as semi nomadic. The thought of having our little home for us to spend years in making memories is more exciting than I can say.

Although we’ve moved around several times, we’ve always had a home. By home I don’t mean a house. Home is an immaterial thing. Home, is the love and security between family members. There is a quote, and I forgot by who, but it says that it doesn’t matter where a child is going, as long as they are attached to the parent, they will never feel lost. I couldn’t agree more.

Sure, Eder and I will be painting our house, redoing floors and all kinds of other little Saturday projects that we’ve already planned, but that doesn’t constitute the building of our home. Our home is already built. In fact, we started building that home together on our first date.

The foundation of our home is our marriage. I believe our relationship really sets the atmosphere of our home. We work hard to have a balance in our relationship. I’m a huge believer in opposites attract, and we are definitely opposites!

While most of the time it results in us balancing each other’s personalities, it can also make for some major arguments. It took us a while to learn to compromise, and really listen to the other persons point of view. But the more we get that communication down, the better can display it for our children, and bring a better sense of togetherness to our home.

We’ve definitely chosen an alternative style of parenting, but we’ve both done our research, and had some deep conversations about every decision we’ve made.

For me those decisions are a big part of what makes our home. Our marriage doesn’t have one person who gets to make all of the decisions, so neither does our family. Our children will always have their say so as well, because a family is a team, not a hierarchical system. A successful team requires, honesty, trust, open communication, and strong relationships, and that’s what Eder and I want for our family. We don’t want to be the Because I said so parents, we want to be the kind of parents who actively teach our children to reach solutions through compromise – not force, even if it takes more effort on our part. When we compromise, we are respecting and valuing the other persons point of view. Because we respect our children’s point of view, we don’t want to be the My roof, my rules parents, because it’s our roof, that we all share. Our home isn’t something that any one of us owns, it is a safe place that any one of us can come to when we need relaxation, peace, understanding, and friendship.

Whatever roof my husband, my children and I are under is just a roof. Our home is the love we have for each other, the traditions we share, the memories we make, and the things we learn from each other – and I say from each other because kids can often teach just as many valuable lessons as parents can.

Advertisements

Bath time blues

Laila loves the water. When she was about six months old I used to take her to the pool. I had bought her the cutest Minnie Mouse boat that I thought she would just adore. I pictured myself easily pushing her around the pool, arms free of holding a baby, maybe even free to swim a little myself.

20140521-092122.jpg
Nope, Laila tolerated the boat long enough to take that picture and that was it. Sigh*, maybe Sabrina will use the boat.

Laila, however, has aspirations to swim! As a baby she splashed and swung her chubby little legs tirelessly with a huge grin on her face. Now as a toddler she flips herself onto her stomach, kicks with her legs, pushes with her arms, and is undeterred if any water gets in her face. I can’t tell if this is just an instinct in babies or if I’m an overly proud mother convinced my child is a prodigy. Either way, swimming lessons are definitely on the horizon.

Now with how much Laila loves the pool, you’d think that bath time is the best part of the day right? Wrong. Laila has a love hate relationship with bath time. This has been a lifelong love hate relationship, so my hubby and I have been able to come up with several solutions. In the beginning Laila only enjoyed the shower if she was held the entire time. I tried to hold her while I showered, but at the ages of five to six months, she just saw my boobs and thought it was time to eat. This made for a lot of wasted water and not much showering, so we ended up letting her get in the shower with daddy, and nurse with mommy after bath time. This was a two person job, but it worked!

Around one year (Laila had been walking since about ten months) Laila was confident enough to stand up in the shower herself. This made showering so easy! Within about a month she would even walk into the water and rinse herself off.

Then came a day that she suddenly hated showers. She didn’t want to be held, but she didn’t want to be on the ground either. I decided maybe we could find a way to make showers more fun. Enter the bubble bath.

Laila loved the bubble bath, she would lay on her stomach and pretend to swim. Some mornings she’d stay in the bath for thirty minutes. This was actually perfect. I was in my first trimester, so mornings were the worst. Every morning I could just plop Laila into the bubble bath, and lay in my bed (My bed was directly across from the bathtub) and rest while I watched her play. When she was done she would stand up, balance one leg on the tub and announce “ahh dun”

The bubble bath was great, but all good things come to an end. As the eighteen month leap set in, Laila came to hate baths, so we went back to the shower. Now she will shower, but only if she has plenty of toys and I sit down in the shower with her. It will be interesting to say the least to see what happens when little sister gets here.

Another factor in Laila’s bath time routine is her eczema. We discovered it at about three months of age. Our doctor recommended that we bathe Laila every other day. If she really doesn’t want to take a shower, I’ll let her go one more day. At this age, she’s really not dirty anyway. More importantly I want to teach her that I respect her body, and that she does have a say so with her body. If she’s having a flare up I let her go two days. Warm water can make dry skin worse, so I give her lukewarm baths. Perfumes also irritate the skin, so we use all free and clear detergent and very gentle soaps. I’m also one of those shampoo free people for the most part.

With all of Laila’s quirky little preferences, bath time can either be a huge battle, or it can be an opportunity to serve Laila and show her that I care about her preferences, that they’re not an inconvenience, and I will always do my best to accommodate her within reason. I can make it a part of the day that Laila dreads, or I can make hygiene a fun and regular part of our routine. I choose the latter in both cases. There are no “battles” in our house because Laila and I are on the same team. With bathtime, or anything else, neither person gets to have complete control, we work together, and because I’m the parent, sometimes I have to take on a little more of the work. That’s ok, that’s what true leadership is, and that’s how I want Laila to view leaders, as people who take on more responsibility in an effort to serve, not to control.

Playing with barbies and teaching my daughter about self esteem.

Lately it seems like I am always hearing something about how unrealisticly the media portrays women’s bodies. Many women say that it’s because of the media that women can’t be happy with themselves. Ok, that’s probably true for many women. What bothers me is not so much the cultural idea of beauty, but why any woman actually gives a flip what the media, or society for that matter, portrays as a golden standard.

First women were too curvy, so every girl wanted a space between her thighs and a completely flat stomach. Girls were doing everything they could to look like walking skeletons. Eventually this look was denounced as unhealthy and the Kardashian sisters along with a bevy of curvy women ala Sofia Vergara popped onto the scene and bam! Girls did a 180. Now they are are doing hundreds of squats and taking “belfies.” The cultural standard of beauty is fickle. It changes every few years, and there’s always a push from women on both sides to make the standard fit their bodies. Tina Fey actually sums it up perfectly.

But I think the first real change in women’s body image was when JLo turned it butt style. That was the first time having a large scale situation in the back was a part of mainstream American beauty. Girls wanted butts now. Men were free to admit that they had always enjoyed them. And then, what felt like moments later, boom- Beyoncé brought the leg meat. A back porch and thick muscular legs were now widely admired. And from that day forward women embraced their diversity and realized that all shapes and sizes are beautiful. Haha no. I’m totally messing with you. All Beyoncé and JLo have done is add the laundry list of attributes women must have to qualify as beautiful. Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, small nine year old hips, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, and doll tits.

Obviously no woman looks like that, or even can look like that. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like a lot of women want to blame the images in the media for how they feel about themselves. Remember when women all but showed up in target parking lots armed with pitchforks over the photoshopping scandal? Or what about all the “proportional, real life” barbies?

There is so much talk among women about changing how women see themselves in the media, providing healthy alternatives for girls and so and and so on. While I agree that these images are unrealistic, and that dolls like bratz are highly sexualized, inappropriate even, I’m not really interested in changing how the media portrays women.

While I wholeheartedly want to see my daughter grow up to be confident and happy with herself, I don’t try to isolate her from the media. She already has a few barbies, we watch disney princesses pretty much everyday. When she asks me to put make up and dresses on her, I won’t be horrified by the social constructs of beauty that are already seeping in to poison her, I’ll enjoy playing with her. I’ll even let her gorge herself on tabloid magazines (despite my feelings towards celebrity fawning)in her teen years should she choose to do so.

I’m just not that concerned about what the media “teaches” her. I know that as long as I have a close relationship with my daughter she will be more influenced by me – and the rest of her family- than she will be by some airhead on a magazine cover.

I can remove every ounce of media from Laila’s life and that won’t give her any confidence. I can overload her with unrealistic images of women and shatter her self esteem. The difference between the two extremes, is me, the parent. The whole issue here is women and their self esteem. The media is neither the teacher, nor the destroyer of a girls self esteem, parents are. It’s important what we teach our children about body image. We can’t let the media do it (or fail to do it) for us.

Growing up I was a girly girl 100%. I loved my barbies, I loved Disney princesses, I loved make up and clothes. I read seventeen every month. I never felt bad about myself at all. Sure I had my off days, but most days I felt gorgeous!

When I played with my barbies, my mom reminded that if a woman actually had barbies proportions, she’d be walking on all fours. When I watched princess movies, my mom told me that “happily ever after” was just a nice way to end stories, but that’s not real life, because everyone has ups and downs. When I put on make up, my mother taught me that it’s supposed to be natural and enhance features, not change them. When I read seventeen, my mom and I laughed at the over done articles and the girls that were obviously a little too concerned with themselves.

As the ultra skinny girl trend morphed into the curvy girl trend, my mother conceded that of course Jlo was a beautiful woman, and much more realistic than the stick thin celebrities. However, she also reminded me that there is no perfect type of woman, all men have different tastes. Besides a woman’s body is about more than catering to a mans “type”. I never concerned myself much with looking like any celebrity, because my family talked enough about educated subjects for me to understand things like genetics, and that my body was going to resemble my mothers. Even when my mothers hair started to grey and I encouraged her to dye it, she remarked that there is a verse in the Bible that says gray hair is a sign of wisdom, she also added that she wasn’t young anymore anyway. Age is a natural thing.

Now my mom does take pride in her appearance. Serious pride actually, she doesn’t even go to target without doing her makeup, but her appearance doesn’t define her.

She taught me that beauty is more than just surface deep, beauty is the heart. Both of my parents always told me that a beautiful woman who was ugly on the inside would begin to look ugly on the outside very quickly, and that’s completely true! I carried that lesson through my childhood and into my teen years. When I began dating I never dated a single guy because I thought he was hot, I dated based on personality. I also knew that most of the guys with better looks were conceited, and that made them very ugly to me. As a result I weeded out the guys that were a waste of time pretty quickly. When I met my husband, external things weren’t a distraction for me, all I saw was his heart. I knew on our first date, that he had a beautiful heart, and we’ve always had a deep relationship with eachother based on that.

Self esteem isn’t about looking at others and judging yourself based on that. That’s insecurity, because confidence will waver every time someone “prettier” is in the room. That’s why I don’t care what the media portrays women as. If the media is what is building up my daughters self esteem, then she doesn’t have true self esteem!

I plan to teach Laila the same lessons my mother taught me, that beauty is the heart. Self esteem is about judging yourself based on your heart, and judging others based on their hearts. In fact I was having a conversation with my mother today, about summer time and how I wanted to get a tan, and how my husband, who has a much darker complexion than me was worried about getting too tan and didn’t want to get in the sun because of that. The first words out of my mothers mouth were, “Skin color doesn’t matter, God looks at the heart- just enjoy summer.” She was exactly right.

Casting out fear

In my home, my husband and I do not use punishment with our daughter, nor do we ever intend to use punishment with any of our children, because we do not believe in punishment. Although this statement may sound radical, we are completely confident in the way we have chosen to parent.

To some ears, saying that I won’t use punishment sounds like I will let my children run wild. It sounds like
I’m too lazy and indifferent to discipline or teach them anything. It may even sound like I am incredibly naive and believe that my children will never misstep because they were born perfect angels. Maybe it sounds like a combination of all of those things, but hear me out.

Our home has boundaries. Our home has rules. But our home does not have control, fear, or punishment because these three things are one in the same. In our home we strive for perfect love and Perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18

Punishment is an attempt to control a child’s behavior. For example, if my daughter were to get angry and she hit me, and I punished her by hitting her back, that was an attempt to control her action. I would be controlling her through fear. She wouldn’t hit me because she would fear me hitting her back. Even though she may never hit me again, the issue isn’t solved. She just learned that when someone hits you, even if you aren’t threatened, the correct response is retaliation. She also learned not to hit me in order to avoid punishment. I controlled her behavior, but I did not change it. I didn’t even get close to her heart, which is what matters most.

Punishment only works from the outside, it only solves the external problem. The child will only behave when someone is watching. I am not content with solving a problem externally, I want to solve Laila’s problems internally. That is how she will learn self discipline.

I was listening to a podcast on parenting from bethel church the other day. A mother called in and expressed her frustration with feeling like she wasn’t in control of her children in her home. The pastor replied that when we feel like we should be in control, we feel like we can be in control.

Control is toxic in any relationship because control is rooted in fear. Fear is a thief. It steals away the here and now and forces us to live in a perpetual what if. If we as parents allow ourselves to live in fear of our children’s negative behavior, to try and control it, and punish it for existing rather than to view is a problem that we can solve alongside our children, we become locked in a power struggle. We live in fear that our children won’t learn the lessons we want to teach them. When fear really takes it’s hold, we miss out on the lessons they are learning.

Parenting can be scary. It’s a monumental responsibility. Every parent wants to see their child mature into a healthy, happy, and successful person. It’s comforting to think that there is a formula that can make that happen. It’s simple to believe that through punishment we can control and shape a child. But that’s not how it works.

The true goal of parenting is to teach discipline. Discipline is different from punishment. To quote one of my favorite parenting authors, L.R. Knost, “Discipline is helping a child solve a problem. Punishment is making a child suffer for having a problem. To raise problem solvers, focus on solutions, not retribution.”

Discipline also has a biblical meaning. It comes from the word disciple. I want my children to be my disciples, I want them to follow me. How did Jesus gain followers, and how did he teach his followers? Through reaching their hearts, and through giving grace, not through forcing their behavior.

Think of the story of zachaeus, the corrupt tax collector. Did Jesus punish him by taking all of his wealth and publicly shaming him? No! He reached the heart of zachaeus and zachaeus chose to give back all that he had stolen. Jesus did not seek to control zachaeus, he sought to make a relationship with him and teach him through a heart encounter.

Yesterday Laila got very angry with me. She hit me and threw my phone across the room. My response was not to punish her by hitting her back, by separating her from me, or by yelling at her. Instead I held her hands and explained to her that God did not make hands for hitting, he made hands for helping. I told her that I would hold her hands for her until she could control herself, that I knew she was just angry and didn’t really want to hurt mommy because she loves mommy, and mommy loves her. She cried for a minute and I held her. When she was done crying she brought my phone back to me, wrapped her little arms around my neck and showered me in sweet little kisses. No more tantrums for the rest of the day.

Holding Laila’s hands, validating her feelings and explaining the situation was discipline, and discipline reaches the heart. It solves internal problems. Laila apologized to me because she chose to. An apology from the heart is a thousand times more valuable than an apology coerced through punishment.

Every misbehavior has a root issue. Punishment is like cutting the branches off a of a tree. For every branch that is cut, a new one will grow. Discipline is cutting the roots. When we focus on cutting branches and ignore the roots, we miss the opportunity to permanently solve a problem with our child. In my post When parents throw the first stone, I gave the example of the mother who punished her daughter for posting promiscuous photos, but failed to address the girls lack of self respect and self esteem. Through punishing her daughter so severely, she may never post a photo like that again while under her mothers roof, but I can almost garuantee that she will act out promiscuously in other ways. A branch was cut while the roots of her poor self image were left to deepen.

Punishment and control are so ingrained into mainstream parenting, it can be terrifying to let go. Using gentle discipline can be emotionally exhausting. Trying to reach out to the hearts of children is difficult. They don’t always know how to express their feelings, wants, and needs, and sometimes we have to do it for them. In the same podcast the pastor also said, parenting is 90% the parent, and 10% on the part of the child. As a parent who practices gentle discipline, I spend more time analyzing myself and my own behaviors, because what I model to Laila is how she will behave. If I want to teach her not to hit, and see it sink into her heart, I have to control my own temper, and model to her the appropriate reaction when she hits me.

A few weeks ago she was playing with her cousin who is about 22 months. The 22 month old hit Laila several times. I expected Laila to hit back, or run away, instead she wrapped her arms around her cousin and tried to calm her down, just like I did with her the times that she hit me. Punishment would have taught her to hit back, discipline taught her to reach for her cousins heart.

Parenting is not about controlling a child’s behavior. Parenting is about teaching a child self discipline through reaching their hearts. Eliminating punishment allows the parent and the child to focus on solving the internal problems. It frees them to build a stronger, deeper relationship without fear, based on perfect love.

Time in instead of time out

Time out has become a very popular punishment lately. It’s generally considered the humane or even “gentle” approach when compared to the use of corporal punishment. Regardless, I believe that in the long term, time out is very ineffective. Although most parents are using it in an attempt to get their child to step back from a situation, that’s not what time out really does.

In time out a child is sent away for a set amount of time and told to to think about what they’ve done. I sincerely doubt that kids truly think about what they’ve done and feel remorse when they’re sent to time out. I don’t think they quite have the emotional skills for that. In fact most kids sit in time out and cry – because of separation and humiliation- or ask when they can get up. That’s a clear sign they’re just upset at being punished, not learning a genuine lesson.

You know what I immediately think of when I see a child in time out? I think of the dunce cap that schools used years ago. In looking up a picture to show, I ran across a Wikipedia page explaining the dunce cap. Within the first few paragraphs the dunce cap was described as an outdated punishment by means of public humiliation used in schools. The page then went on to explain that this method is no longer in schools because it has been shown to be psychologically damaging to children. Time out is the same thing as the dunce cap method, minus the hat! So why is it being touted as a an effective method, or even a gentler approach?

Time out operates under the principles of rejection and shame, neither of which is healthy.
Why is a child afraid of time out. Because no matter how bad their behavior, they don’t want to be separated from their parent. As a parent you are meant to be a child’s place of refuge. A parent telling a child to leave their presence due to behavior is rejection. While the child’s behavior might seem to improve, it’s only because they are seeking our their parents presence.

If a child is acting out, it’s because they are having a problem that they don’t know how to properly deal with. Who wants to be rejected and then isolated when they’re dealing with a problem? Wouldn’t it be better to be offered a solution and helped? When time out is used in a public place, like a classroom, it is operating not only under rejection and isolation, but under shame because the child is being rejected in front of their peers.

Shame is a toxic emotion. Caretakers who use time out are actually trying to induce guilt, which is very different than shame. Guilt is to realize that your action was wrong and to have a desire to make amends. Shame is to connect your wrong action with who you are. Instead of seeking to make amends, a shamed person believes that they cannot be separated from their actions, and they become defensive and unreceptive to correction. Children cannot feel guilt if they are hurt due to rejection, and defending themselves due to shame.

Let’s say you did something wrong, and you’re publicly berated and humiliated, isn’t it natural to forget what you did wrong and instead focus on defending yourself? The bible says speak the truth in love. I believe that children are much more receptive when spoken to with love and respect, the same as any other person. It isn’t possible to speak the truth in love if you are disconnecting yourself from your child, which is what time out does.

Discipline is managing your child’s behavior, so that they know what well managed behavior feels like, and their brain, as it matures, will begin to implement it on it’s own. Well managed behavior does not feel like shame or pain. – Joy Jordan

In contrast to a time out, a time in is effective in the long term because it operates under the principles of connection and trust. Before I explain why time in is a healthier alternative, let me explain what a time in is for those who don’t know.

In time in, the parent stays with the child. If the child is crying hysterically, the parent comforts the child until they are calm. Once they are calm, the parent explains the situation, what went wrong, why it went wrong, and how to fix it. Children need their parents to tell them how to react in a situation, and why. I recently wrote a post, pressing the reset button, about calming children through connection. Time in is like a mini reset button.

Children are not mature enough to say “Hey, mom, dad, I’m really frustrated in this particular situation, and I’m not sure how I should react” Their communication is often through crying, whining, hitting, all signs of frustration and confusion. Their bad behavior is a cry for help.

Isaiah 65:24 says “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear” When we call upon God, he is there as our father. He listens to us, and helps us solve our problems. As Laila’s mother I will be there every time she calls me, even if her call is masked beneath a temper tantrum. I will listen to her as she speaks, even if her speaking comes in the form of crying or screaming.

In our house there will never be a time out, because I want Laila to know that no matter what her behavior is like, she deserves my help and my presence because she is my child. I want to teach her that I am her safe place, that there is nothing she can do to push me away, just like there is nothing we can do to push God, our father, away.

Instead of punishing Laila with the absence of my presence, I would rather solve her problem through my presence.

That’s really what time in is all about, realizing that children can’t solve problems on their own. As parents it’s our responsibility to solve problems with them instead of expecting them to solve them alone.

Breastfeeding a toddler

Odds are, if you aren’t a more “crunchy” minded mama, the title of this post probably sounds crazy, unheard of, maybe even gross in the way of If they’re old enough to ask for it, they’re too old to have it. What many people don’t know is that the American academy of pediatrics, as well as the world health organization recommend a minimum of two years of breastfeeding.

I think the picture above says it all. Breast milk continues to be very important source of nutrition into the toddler years. Although I never planned to wean my daughter at a year (I believe children should choose to wean for themselves when they feel ready) I do remember asking my pediatrician if I should additionally provide her with a little goats milk or almond milk after a year. She just stared at me for a minute and then said, What are these different milks? You have breast milk! Give her that until she’s two, that’s all she needs.

It’s very sad to me that many mothers are unaware of the benefits and normality of breastfeeding beyond one year. In my opinion we are still recovering from the years of Formula is better than Breast milk because it’s science and we can put more nutrients into it . Yeah right formula makers. Breast milk is a living organism, and it’s nutrients can’t be replicated.

20140502-150157.jpg

This is the thing, most mothers give their toddlers cows milk or some type of formula. They are acknowledging that toddlers still need some sort of milk after the one year mark. So why not give them human milk suited for their needs? Most toddlers drink the cows milk or formula out of a bottle. A bottle is an imitation of the breast, so why not just give them the breast? It’s what nature designed!

So what does breastfeeding a toddler look like? Before I had a child and I heard about extended breastfeeding I imagined that scene out of the Back up plan. The one where Jennifer Lopez attends the crunchy mom home birth
and there is a four year old boy very awkwardly nursing and and his mother refers to him as being “forty eight months”. That’s definitely a dramatization of what really happens.

Nursing sessions will decrease as a child eats more. Laila is currently eighteen months and she nurses twice a day. Once at nap time and once at bed time. Although she isn’t talking in complete sentences, she does ask for “chi chi” and it’s not weird at all! It’s cute to see her pull the blanket over herself and nestle up against me and ask for chi chi. She’s really still a baby, and for us nursing is a bonding time.

Bed time feedings are shortening. I suspect she’ll wean on her own when her sister arrives, which will be right before her second birthday, and that’s perfectly fine. Ill know that she’s gotten the nutrients she needed and that I haven’t prematurely weaned her. And then of course the cycle of breastfeeding will begin anew with Sabrina.

Pressing the reset button

So with Laila going through the 18 month leap, we’ve had our share of off days. It typically goes like this, Laila wakes up an hour or so earlier than usual after a long and difficult sleepless night. This makes for a cranky mom and a very cranky little toddler, but we both try to ignore it. I make us breakfast, we eat, get dressed and then Laila goes off to play while I begin my chores for the day. 

It’s usually in these mid morning hours that Laila has a meltdown, or otherwise gets extremely fussy. Of course this always happens when I’m in the middle of something. The other day it was in the middle of making a souffle. You don’t know what stress is if you’ve never had a toddler throw a fit in the middle of making a souffle- ugh! Anyway, when I sense myself being frustrated with Laila for being frustrated, I know that it’s time to hit the reset button.

The reset button is actually an idea I stole from another mom and tweaked a little to better fit Laila’s age and needs. Basically what we do is stop our day, and start over. We crawl back into bed, get under the covers and put on a movie. I dig into my emergency junk food stash and make a little treat for Laila and I to munch on while she lays in my arms. (Today was actually a reset day and we had Talenti’s Belgian chocolate gelato- so good. I think gelato will be our go to snack for the rest of this pregnancy) We have a habit of scratching each others backs, and not only is it relaxing, it’s therapeutic for both of us I think. Doing something sweet for Laila, and seeing her return the favor melts my heart every time. It never takes more than five minutes for us both to totally relax and forget about whatever it was that had us flustered. By the end of the movie Laila will cover me in wet little kisses, climb down from the bed, and happily go back to playing. I go back to my chores and the tantrum never happened. It’s also extremely rare that there is another tantrum for the rest of the day. 

A punitive minded parent would read this and immediately say, But you’re rewarding bad behavior!! Then they would probably stress the importance of time outs, taking away toys and other similar punitive measures. 

Well first of all let me say that I will never punish my daughter just for being in a bad mood on a bad day. Why? Because I have plenty of bad moods of my own on bad days. Just ask my husband! How many of us lose our temper? What calms you down faster, someone being angry with you because you’re having an off day, or someone showing you a little kindness and understanding to help you get through the day? Hitting the reset button is about taking a step back from a situation, regrouping, and showing Laila that I am there to help her when she can’t handle her anger. Punishing or ignoring her does not teach her to solve a problem, it just teaches her to take her feelings into the other room so I don’t see them. That’s not something I want to teach Laila. I want to teach her that there isn’t a problem in the world that she can’t bring to me.

Toddlers have very little emotional regulation. Their brains are still developing! Tantrums are normal. When a toddler is potty learning, and they have an accident on the way to the bathroom, no one assumes they did it on purpose and need to be punished. That’s ridiculous! Their bladders are tiny and it takes a practice to learn how to regulate them. Many children have bladder spasms that they outgrow as the age. Tantrums are very similar, they’re like a spasm of the brain. Sometimes kids just can’t hold their emotions in. It’s our job to model to them how to take a step back, calm down, and then re approach the situation. 

Some days hitting the reset button is more necessary for me as a tired mother, than it is for Laila. I need a little break from my busy days here and there. Everyone needs that! If I know as a grown woman, that I need a reset button, of course Laila will be allowed the same luxury. 

Connection is so vital in a parent child relationship. It can prevent, or stop, so many tantrums. Reset buttons days are such an awesome way to reconnect! There are times when Laila isn’t doing anything wrong, but I’m just in a bad mood, so everything gets on my nerves. Taking a few minutes to just let everything go and hold her, and marvel at her sweet little smile can snap me out of a bad mood pretty quickly. In the same way, when Laila is having a bad day, I think having mama hold her and remind her that she loves her, and loves being with her, snaps Laila out of a lot of bad moods. 

There are so many times when a kid is acting out and an adult will dismissively say, Oh they’re just doing that for attention, Like it’s a bad thing. Well if a child is resorting to negative behaviors for attention, then they already needed attention a long time ago! Children need their parents and they need their parents attention. As they grow, they will learn more appropriate ways to ask for it. But when they’re this little, crying and tantrums are often the only language they have. 

Giving your child attention will not “spoil” them, or make them “needy”. Does doting on a spouse make them “needy” and teach them to expect attention? No! It deepens the relationship and reminds them that they are loved, cared for, and that their feelings are valued.

Reset button days are all about reconnection, being able to stop ourselves, and our kids before a blow up. They’re about learning to let go of whatever was bothering us and move on and enjoy the rest of the day! My favorite part of the reset day, is that it gives me an opportunity to remind Laila time after time, that no matter how she reacts to a problem, no matter difficult she is to deal with in the midst of an emotional meltdown, I am here for her. I will always love her, and I will always love to be with her, no matter what she’s like. Isn’t that how God loves us? 

Daily, I see that parenting Laila this way has made a difference. I see that she treats me how I treat her. There have been days when I’ve snapped at her, and her response has been to wrap her little arms around me and kiss me on the cheek. She just let’s it go! I’m already very emotional this pregnancy, but seriously, the times that she’s done that, I’ve just cried my eyes out. That was her way of pressing the reset button with me.