Friday, September 26, 2008

Preventing meltdowns

In every aspect of his life, my son is a "good" baby. Since two months old he has slept through the night. Until very recently he has never been sick. Most of the day he is pleasant and happy. He was smiling before a month old and laughing not long after that. During his last doctor's visit he didn't even flinch when he received his shots. My husband and I say it often: "we are so blessed with this baby." 
BUT with all that in our favor, there are still days that I think I am going to lose it. The occasional baby meltdown or the constant need for my attention is sometimes enough to make me wonder if I can handle being a mom. And I have a good baby. I cannot even imagine life with an overly-fussy or colicky baby. I have concluded that those parents are modern-day superheroes.
So when my mom sent me this article, 9 Ways to Prevent a Meltdown - Your Kid's and Yours, Too, I thought, "thank goodness, realistic meltdown techniques for both my son and me."
I enjoyed the nine tips because each one is appropriate for the child and the adult. Although many of the tips are best for children older than my son, all of the tips are perfect for the parent no matter how old the child. 
Here are three of my favorites:
  • Take a Time-Out: Although my son is not old enough to be in time-out, I intend on using this behavior management technique often when he is older. I am a big fan of giving children space to cool-down, especially boys. Girls benefit from time-out as well, but sometimes girls want to talk about the situation. Boys tend to need space, and I want to provide that for my son. Additionally, I know the power of a time-out for me. When my son is SCREAMING for no apparent reason, sometimes I just have to walk away for a couple minutes so that I can soothe him calmly and carefully.
  • Tap into Your Creative Side: This isn't for everybody, but it is definitely for me. My creative outlets are my sanity. Without them I would certainly be a surly person. And encouraging children to be creative when they are hurting or upset is brilliant because there is no more creative time in a person's life than during childhood. Kids can dream up the greatest stories and ideas. Allowing your angry child to scribble or write in a journal is therapeutic. As a school counselor, I used this stress-management technique often with students.
  • Lighten Up: This one can be so hard because when I am stressed and the baby is crying, it is a challenge to relax and make light of the situation. But on the rare occasion that I am able to do that, the outcome is wonderful. My son loves songs, so if we are in the car and he starts to fuss, the sound of a favorite song is usually enough to calm him down. And parents must admit, while many childhood songs are goofy and maybe even annoying, they can be quite fun. My son's name is Henry so I have learned the words to "I'm Henry the VIII, I am." The lyrics are bizarre (about a widow and her 8 husbands all named Henry), but the song has the best catchy tune. I enjoy singing it, and my son smiles every time he hears it.
Unfortunately there are no rules to parenting, and each parent-child relationship is different. Hopefully you can find a trick or two or three that works for you and your child. 

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