The Most common question people ask me about my two yr old is; “Is he always so calm? Even at home?”. It’s his innate nature. But, I also think accepting them for who they are instead of trying to teach them something all the time, helping everyone feel comfortable and keep calm.
I have often been commented on what a cool dude he is. He is a calm and happy clamp. Hence, I felt the need to share the few parenting rules that we have, that I think to reinforce his calm personality.
I cannot stress how important this trait is; a calm person is liked by everyone. They are comfortable, happy and content people. Everyone goes through bouts of anxiousness, but think about how good we feel when we are back to normal. For kids too, being calm and active is normal, while hyperactivity and whining are signs of frustration, which comes either from our behavior or inappropriate limits set by us.
I will not take any credit for him being so cool. It’s his innate nature and all the credit for him being so calm goes to him. By sharing our rules my hope is that these can help someone dealing with a more active and resistant toddler. They are not in any order or preference, everyone in the house follows all the rules equally since a rule is a rule for us.
1. Let them explore; it’s comforting to them
I know a lot of people can’t stand mess or dirt. But Toddlers are explorers and they are messy. When you let them do what they are doing they feel accepted and are more likely to be happy and calm. Think about how good and comfortable you feel around people who accept you for who you are and don’t boss you around. Aren’t you more likely to listen to them when they say something as opposed to someone who shuns you at every sentence?
2. Limit Screens; they are overstimulating
I know this is so much talked about lately; most people don’t want to hear it again. Kids have a lot of energy they have to release, and when they sit in front of a screen, they are sitting! Thus not moving around as much as they would otherwise, they have to release all their energy altogether before they can sleep, so they become hyperactive, often towards the end of the night. While you want them to go to bed, they have to relieve their energy, get tired before they can sleep.
Screens or moving media stimulates them way more than they can handle and not in a constructive way. It reduces their attention span drastically, and it is very difficult for kids younger than 2 to comprehend what is going on, they can’t distinguish between real and reel.
3. Let them play independently
Give them lots of time to play by themselves in a safe place, where you don’t have to intervene or rather disturb them. You don’t have to sit by your child while they are playing. It takes time for them to play independently, but once they start doing this it’s extremely constructive for them, it increases their attention span, and helps them be a lot more comfortable within themselves and thus calm down.
4. Have rules
Having rules and following through; brings consistency in life. Consistency and predictability is comforting to kids and adults equally.
It’s important to have these rules in place beforehand and not set them as they do something they shouldn’t be doing, or we get into the redundant cycle of “No, you can’t”. If I don’t want something to be repeated I still let them do it the first time, and a rule against it is formed from there on. It’s not easy to have kids follow rules for the first few times, there will be a lot of whining, but once they get it, they are happy to play within the rules.
One of our rules is outdoor play objects don’t come inside, and indoor ones don’t go out. My son had a very difficult time with letting the chalk and bubble wands stay outside, it took him over a month to understand if he wants to blow bubbles, he’ll have to go in patio and that he can’t bring chalk inside. (well, he’s still not over the chalk obsession)
5. Resist saying NO promptly
I understand that as toddler parents we have to keep saying NO to a lot of things. However, when we keep saying NO without preset rules, their whining increases. They can’t decide when will you let them do something or and when you won’t, for them everything that they want to do is genuinely okay to do.
Lately, I have been saying a lot of NO to my toddler; he loves being outdoors, and it’s been a little chilly outside, hence we are not playing outside, which is what he wants to do all the time and I keep saying NO we can’t. I realized he’s a lot whinier for everything else too, even for things like I wanna read this book, I want water etc. Because he doesn’t know how I’ll respond to his requests.
For situations like these there is only so much you can do, but if we keep saying no you can’t play in the kitchen because he’s pulling pots n pans off shelves, or you cant’s play with the mail on the spot, it’s only going to puzzle them. However, if you have a rule in the house of no playing in the kitchen, by all means, stop him/her.
6. Keep yourself grounded
Kids sense the kind of emotions you express, even before they are obvious. If you stay calm kids will be calmer a lot more easily. I read somewhere; don’t lose your sense of humor after you have kids, which’s been so helpful. That spilled cereal on the floor can be a counting game or a stressful clean up while your toddler wants to spread it more. The choice is yours.
Looking for a quicker Solution of a current meltdown? Empathize and keep your cool.
While I realize these are long term solutions, to help develop a general calmness in a child, a quick fix to an already happening meltdown or an hr of whining is empathy. If I genuinely empathize with my child’s feelings towards a turmoil, it usually results in a higher peaked meltdown for less than a minute, but then a permanent calmness towards whatever has upset him. I do this even when I am out and about, to me a couple of minutes of a complete meltdown in public is more doable than an hr of whining.
I hope these rules help you as much as they help us. Most days my little one is happy to play within the rules and I am also cool about him putting kitchen utensils in his mouth or playing with them on the floor. But, we have our days when he puts up a fight and so does I. A lot of times I let go of some of my rules to keep my sanity, a lot of times he is whiny because I am giving more attention of my baby than him.
We are all a work in progress. So let’s remember to enjoy every moment of our kids’ childhood, coz it’s all a phase that shall pass away too quickly.
Until next time!