The calm-down chair

We’ve recently moved from using the cane to another item less likely to induce an anxiety attack – a comfy kiddy chair.

We felt the caning was getting us nowhere although it was effective in deterring tantrums – occasionally. More often though, it was making us feel angry, abusive, and overall horrible on the inside. While we do the debrief (why we caned you/what you did wrong) part, the hug and make up part, and praying and asking for forgiveness part, it still didn’t seem to be getting us nearer to sanity (or me to mama-haven). JJ was still having trouble managing the big boy emotions wreaking havoc in his little toddler mind.

Then one day the big idea sat on me. Like a chicken on an egg. And then it hatched. (I mean the grand plan, not the egg.) So the little guy has trouble managing his emotions. He gets upset over little crazy unexpected things that happen (mostly normal daily things like trying to get up his high chair and his precious smelly bolster and blankie drops) and he goes bazookas.

In essence his little perfect world caves in on him and we desperately try to get him back from crazy to normal by…? Waving the cane at him and hitting his bottom?

Thinking back, I think we were more crazy (than him) to do that.

He needs help to manage his emotions. Yes, it’s common knowledge – human emotions do go haywire at times. Sometimes I get mad and upset at the hubby too – and thankfully he doesn’t try to spank my behind.

So… enter this cute little orange kiddy chair that we bought some years ago. It’s been drawn on, and drooled upon, but no matter, it’s still usable and comfy.

We now call it the calm down chair. We get JJ to sit on it when he’s out of control and stay by him until he calms down. That means no raging, no yelling and no loud crying – leftover sobs are fine though since those take a bit of time to stop completely.

Every time he calms down quickly (well anything less than 5 minutes is quick enough), we acknowledge and affirm him, reinforce the fact that he is capable of calming down and regaining control over his emotions and anger.

We try not to focus on the chair as some kind of magical tool (although deep down I secretly think it is), and focus on him being able to grow his ability to regulate himself – this thing called emotional management.

It’s been some two to three months now of using the calm-down chair, and as much as it’s served us well, I find he has less need for it these days. I also acknowledge (and fervently give thanks) that we are starting to see the light at the end of the temper tunnel as JJ approaches his three-year-old milestone. Sure he still gets upset sometimes. But he’s demonstrating to us more and more than he can pull himself back, provided we stay calm and stay close to him.

Ahh, my little JJ…You’ve come a long way.

Do you have a raging toddler in your house too? What’s your favourite tantrum deterrent or calming down tool for your child?

a quote about tantrums

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Little lessons: The gift of roots and wings

roots and wings poem

You know how they say that it’s good to work ourselves out of a job? Because that means we have trained our juniors so well that they can stand on their own two feet and no longer need our supervision.

I think the same principle applies to parenting. And that’s what this poem written by Denis Waitley reminded me of.

I don’t mean that we ever stop being a mum or a dad. (How is that ever possible?) But it does mean that our children grow strong and independent enough to stand their own ground. (And feel safe enough to shout for help when necessary.)

We are to give our children roots – a strong identity, values and foundation, a home and family to belong to. And also wings – independence, freedom to make mistakes, wisdom to make good choices, and eventually the ability to leave home to form their own families.

So may we not hesitate to use everyday opportunities to strengthen our children’s growing wings, as well as to deepen their roots in love.

And when the time comes to send them off to pursue their destiny, may we not hold them back because of our own fears.

After all if they have strong roots and wings, I’m sure that no matter where life leads them, they will still find their way back home.

How to dig deep roots:

  • Live out and speak your values. Whether it’s honesty, diligence or perseverance, our kids need to hear and see it to believe.
  • Create family traditions such as celebrating birthdays and festivals like Christmas and Chinese new year
  • Cultivate a strong sense of belonging and community through simple ways such as keeping a memory album, or looking through old photos from time to time
  • Build close community ties with like-minded family and friends
  • Create playful, enjoyable moments together such as Mum-daughter dates or daddy-son dates (or vice versa)

How to strengthen their wings:

  • Let them take on appropriate challenges such as allowing your toddler to help in the kitchen, and your preschooler to manoeuvre social situations herself (knowing you are near should she need help)
  • Let them take on responsibilities such as packing their own bag or lunchbox daily, remembering to take out their homework, etc.
  • Encourage them when they make mistakes by acknowledging the effort they made. Tell them stories of the mistakes you’ve made before and how you learnt from them.
  • Give them the tools to achieve a specific goal, such as baking a cake, but let them try it out themselves

This is week 11 of the Little Lessons series, which runs on the blog every Thursday. Do grab our badge and link up your little lessons / learning activities here!

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Pens devotional book for kids {giveaway}

 We recently started on the Pens: God Cares 30-day devotional series with Vera.

I’ve actually been thinking about ways to explore bible verses with her together, so this came at a good time.

The devotional stories are easy to understand, and are suitable for kids above the age of 3.

The characters are lively stationery, ranging from Charlotte Chalk, Denzil the Pencil, to Sharpy the dog and Squiggle and Splodge.

The A5 format book is also filled with colourful pictures to capture little kiddos’ attention. Vera enjoys learning about the various characters and her favourite is Gloria Glitterpen, because (in her own words) “she is so sparkly and lovely”.

What we like most:

  • The stories are short, simple, and reinforces the particular theme being explored, such as “Everything I need” and “A place to be safe.”
  • Each theme is repeated over a few days so it gives Vera time to digest the lesson.
  • The stories portray everyday life experiences such as getting lost and then being found, or throwing a party to cheer a friend up. I find that these make the key verse very accessible and easily grasped by young children.
  • Each devotional story ends with a simple prayer and a practical tip.

~~~ Giveaway ~~~

Thanks to the folks at Little Good Books, I have one copy of the Pens: Friends series to give away to readers. To participate, just follow the instructions via the Rafflecopter app below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:

  1. Open to Singapore residents only.
  2. Participants must Like Little Good Books’ Facebook Page to be eligible.
  3. Contest closes 13 December, 10.30pm, and winners will be announced on mamawearpapashirt’s Facebook Page.

Sponsored by Little Good Books, a Singapore-based online book store that specialises in books for 0-7 years old. Most of LGB’s picture books comes with an ACE (Artwork, Coacher, Entertainment) review to help parents in their book selection (more details here). Little Good Books is now having a Christmas sale on selected items with free delivery. Stay tuned for their new range of books coming your way soon.

Little Lessons: Slowing down and taking stock

Time flies. Two more days and we say hello to December.

Where did all that time go?

Four more weeks, and we’ll usher baby Joshua into this world. (It’s taking me all my wits to not work myself into a frenzy, and getting caught in the “things I need to do before I pop” mania.)

Some days, the little ones teach me to take life a little slower.

They who are always in their own worlds, exploring with their itsy bitsy fingers, figuring out new ways to play old things.

They who seem to constantly defy the demands of time.

They who are naturally curious.

The most beautiful, inspiring parts of childhood are best enjoyed in a leisurely manner. A walk in the garden is punctuated with stops and starts, “mummy look at this”, and curious pokes at leaves and twigs.

I hope I never rush them to grow up. (Although I must admit one of my most frequently-used phrases is “Quick, hurry up!”)

Having kids…actually force us to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n.

Some of us lay our careers on the line; some of us sacrifice our desires for further study or personal development; some of us place our dreams on the backburner, hoping for that one day where we will get to rekindle them again.

Life is never quite the same after kids.

They teach me to schedule in play and down-time, ignore the ticking clock and burgeoning to-do lists, and learn to appreciate the wonder of even the mundane everyday things.

Mummy, that cloud looks like a rabbit with three ears!

How come that tree is so tall?

When will we be able to go to the moon? Do we need a ladder?

Often, we who are jaded and tired wish they would stop asking, stop wondering. Still despite myself, I learn to set my own worries aside when the kids ask me for a bedtime story.

At bedtime, I try to be present in those dark, quiet moments too, thanking God for the day we had, or just praying in my heart for the kids. (We can never do this enough, can we?)

When they’re finally asleep, I can ruffle their hair, take in their fuzzy kiddy smells, and then head out to the world again to tackle the tasks I have ahead.

Kids are funny like that. They have the ability to wear you out. They also have the ability to charge you up again.

They may slow you down in some aspects, but they also give you new hope and energy to build a stronger family and a better future.

“The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won’t wait while you do the work.” – unknown

~~~

In the spirit of slowing down and focusing on the things close to my heart, I will be doing a wrap up on Little Lessons for the year.

Tomorrow I will share 3 Little Lessons posts by other mums that spoke to me, plus 2 of my own.

Come first and second week December, I have a few giveaways in store. And for the rest of the month, I will be preparing both home and heart for baby’s homecoming. (I may still write about the things that inspire me this season or share some thoughts here and there.)

Most of all, it’s a time of Thanksgiving, and I wish to thank you guys for journeying with me, and showing your love and support.

A little thought came to me one day:

Though the journey of parenting may be full of challenges and change, it is above all a journey of love. When God “multiplies”, he also multiplies the love. When he gives the gift of a child, he also gives us the supernatural ability to love and nurture him.

And that’s a promise I’m clinging to this season. 🙂

This Christmas,

  • May you be able to focus on the things that matter, and be able to sift out the things that don’t.
  • May love and peace fill your heart and home.
  • May you find delight and satisfaction in all that you undertake.
  • May we do small things with great love.

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Little Lessons: Beauty happens when we least expect it

Vera’s artwork never fails to bring a smile to my face, especially her recent ones…

We do leaf prints from time to time. One day, she transformed her red leaf print into a strawberry, just by adding black dots with a pencil.

from leaf to strawberry

Another day, I returned home from work to find this. Her portrait of our family, with JJ, herself (with the long crazy hair), and…little baby J! I was most surprised to find that she is already including baby #3 into the mix…I take it to mean that she just can’t wait to welcome him into the family. 🙂

I love her colours… (Left: “hairy” fireworks. Right: colourful ice-cream cones filled with purple and yellow rolled-up paper tissue, and topped with a Cornetto-style cover.)

Finally, this drawing of herself, with long earrings (yes she’s girly like that), and rainbows and flowers – just a handful of her favourite things. It now hangs on our family photo wall in our master bedroom.

I know I sound like “proud mama” all over this post, but I can’t help it.

These may not be Picasso, but they are lovely works by the hands of my little girl. Through the bright colours and happy expressions on her drawings, I see her joy and zest for life.

I can also recall three things I learnt from an art workshop long ago. [Read: Every child can draw]

  1. There are only two areas where a child can be free and enjoy full control. One of them is play, the other is art.
  2. A supportive environment is all you need to help grow your child’s interest in art.
  3. Allow your child to enjoy the creative process, and refrain from judging the outcome.

I’ve never placed much expectations or pressure on her to colour well, or to draw something neatly, or to paint a logical scene. To the adult eye, her art may come across messy and unrefined, but I enjoy hearing her talk about her work, her craft, and seeing how proud she is of them.

I hope to cheer her little passion for art on simply by being there…and by allowing her to make her own choices and explore freely with different materials/medium.

May the creativity and imagination of our children thrive. And may we adults learn to never hinder, judge or discourage this beautiful process.

This is the post #6 of the Little Lessons series – because as parents we are always learning with and from our children. If you want to follow the entire series, you’ll find each new post listed here every week.

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