I’ve been itching to share my recent love and practicing of Gentle Parenting but it is so wide and complex I figured I could break it down into sections instead.
I’m not going to go into detail of what gentle parenting is as it is quite explanatory and I don’t necessarily follow it all. You can check out the Gentle Parents Unite Facebook page if you’d like to know some more information!
So anyways, since Nora has started becoming her own little person and testing new boundaries and limits, she has also been exposed to new emotions. I knew “the terrible twos” were coming but I really had no idea how to deal with them. With my introduction to Gentle Parenting, they are HUGE on speaking to your child and relating to them. They say to make your child feel validated, that it’s ok to be feeling those feelings and teach them how to deal with it. I was so amazed by this simple concept, that I told everyone and anyone who would listen to it about it. What happened next amazed me. Everyone around Nora caught on immediately. The second anyone sees her start to spiral and get upset, we get down to her level and talk her through it. It worked wonders. I was so impressed and proud of us!
Then a few weeks ago, it stopped working. Instead of having huge outbursts we could catch on to, Nora started shutting down and hiding when she’s upset. She would take off to her room, or hide her face and refuse to talk to anyone. This broke my heart into a million pieces. I was no longer her safe space. I could no longer comfort or talk her through her big emotions. I felt like a failure. The last thing I wanted was for her to shut off and hide her emotions. I was trying to teach her it was ok to have big feelings.
Along with this new change of behaviour also came a new side of my sweet child. She started to become sneaky. She would hide when she knew she was doing something she wasn’t supposed to be doing. Like eating crayons, or colouring on herself. Again, I never yell or punish her, I couldn’t figure out why she felt the need to hide. Now though, when she was hiding, I didn’t know if it was because she needed some space or was being sneaky. She also started hitting and pushing.
I knew hitting back and time outs weren’t the route I wanted to go since she was already distancing herself from me so through some research on the Gentle Parents Facebook group, I discovered two options I really liked. Give her something/a way to let her anger out, and give her a safe space or a calm down corner.
I don’t have the space right now for a “real” calm down corner like I would have liked, but through trial and error, Nora took to the corner on the couch. She has a certain pillow she lies on, climbs under the blanket and often covers her face with another pillow. While she lays there, no one bothers her until she calls for one of us, if she does. So when she gets upset, we try to talk it out, but if I see she’s getting too worked up, I ask her if she wants to go in her quiet spot. She immediately stops crying and yelling, and you can almost see the breath of relief. Because it’s exactly what she needs.
Even though the quiet spot was working, I was still feeling defeated. It wasn’t how I wanted our relationship to be like. But then two weeks ago, she had a meltdown at a restaurant with her grandmother. Her grandmother told her no and Nora froze up, covered her eyes and refused to speak to anyone. I was so embarrassed and apologized for her behaviour but her grandmother’s boyfriend was appalled. He said “what do you mean?! That’s an amazing skill for her to already have!” He said he could see her processing what was happening, could see her breathing and working through her emotions.
I’m a confrontational person, I need to talk it out right now and deal with it right now. My sister on the other hand, needs her space. She gets upset, and goes off by herself for awhile. So I guess my daughter takes after her. I know I will struggle in the future with my child that is nothing like me, but for right now, what an amazing feeling it is to have found something that works for HER.
This is why we gentle parent, to encourage partnership, and to find a balance in this crazy world. I actually saw her stop midway to hitting her brother the other day, so we’re improving in all areas. She didn’t hit him so she wouldn’t get in trouble, she didn’t hit him because she’s learning it upsets him and it’s not what we do when we are angry. How amazing is that!
I’m so excited to see where the rest of our gentle parenting experience will take us.