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Monday, January 18, 2016

Working Through The Grumpiness - Learning WITH Your Toddler

The lazy emotion we get onto our kids about.
And yet, I find myself falling into it with greater ease than I would like to admit.  So, what can be done when we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, we've had a lousy day, spilled our coffee, the kids are whining, and your initial instinct is to lash out at the closest person near you?
Not surprisingly, the same things we tell our students/kids work for us too.  We just have to have the self-awareness to recognize our own need for them.  We all have bad days.  What's important is learning how to overcome them, and not let it define who we are.  Aidan being a toddler, gets grumpy on a regular basis.  Through helping him gain the tools to deal with his grumpiness in a constructive way, I've also been reminded of how important it is for us, adults to practice disciple in this area as well.  So, these tips are for you, and the little person in your life.

1. Find An Outlet
Find a healthy way to express your negative emotions, and channel it into something physical.  Some things we've tried (and by we, I really mean "we") are:

a) Going outside and throwing oranges - our house has an orange tree in the back, and like with any fruit tree, some fall off the tree before they're ripe.  We have been known to use them for our grumpiness-remedy!


b) Going for a tricycle ride - Aidan got a tricycle for Christmas from some friends, and he LOVES it!  We both came home the other day in REALLY BAD moods.  So, I suggested we take that thing out, and give it whirl.  His feet don't quite touch the pedals, which actually worked out perfectly.  I sat on the back, and pushed him along.  It was a great work-out, and the fresh air did us wonders!

Whatever you find around you to do, we've found that having it involve actual physical exertion seems to help.

2. Take a minute
Sometimes, we need to just take a minute, remove ourselves from the situation, and breathe.  All on his own, the other day Aidan started going into his room when we get home, shutting the door, and being very, very quiet.  This was new, and out of the ordinary, so I went to check on him, and he said, "no mama, my door!  My room!"  So I turned his baby monitor camera to where he was sitting, told him I love him, and that it's okay to need some space sometimes, and left him alone.  This was so foreign to me, but he has always been a good self-soother, and I thought this might be an extension of that.  I also came to the realization, that he has to be "on" all day, from 8 am to usually 5 pm, he is forced to share, vie for his teacher's attention, follow classroom directions, etc.  I know how tired I am by the end of the day, and can't even IMAGINE how tired my little nearly-two-year old boy is.  So, I've been letting him go to his room in the afternoons for a while.  After about 10 minutes, he sweetly says, "Mommy!  Com'ere!", and I join him, sit on the floor, and join in what he is doing.


(Note the same outfit as the last post.  Yeah, it was a rough day.  Also, that is an "Anger" Tsum Tsum from Inside Out.  Not accidental.)

3. Be Goofy
When you're in the middle of feeling sorry for yourself, and letting it all "hang out", to the outsider, there really is an element of humor.  It's not usually as bad as it seems.  In moments like this, it's important to take a step back, and let your "Goofball Island" out.

4. Take A Bath
I don't know what it is about people and bath time, but it doesn't seem to matter what your age is, a bath is always a good idea.  So, when grumpy Gus gets to be too much for this mama, I shout, "BATH TIME!"  You've never seen a little boy try to get out of his clothes so fast! Of course, then there's the tears when you turn the water off, or he can't find his favorite toys, or he keeps telling the mama turtle that the babies are "my babies", and she's "not nice", because she "won't share", but at least he's contained!  I find for myself too, that taking an extra 20-30 minutes at the end of the day to relax really helps me sleep and wake up in a better mood the next day.


5. Mamas, Take Some Time For Yourself
If you're grumpy, it'll inevitably trickle down to your kids.  I find this in my classroom, as well as at home.  I decided that I needed to make a change, and for me that was asking for a Journaling Bible for my birthday.  Honestly, I've always struggled with making time to read God's Word, but I feel like I've found something that will help me (not that God's Word needs help to be interesting -it's a self-discipline issue).  I've been making an effort to honestly meditate on a couple verses at a time, and instead of hurrying through a certain passage, take my time, and let it seep into my heart.  This way I'm reminded of a specific thought throughout the day.

I can only pour into Aidan if I am not running on empty.  I can't teach him to love the Word of God, if I don't.  He has a Storybook Bible that he loves to read together.  He knows some of the story titles, and says, "Jesus" and "cross", which makes this mama's heart very happy!

I know I'm not saying anything new, or monumental, but sometimes it's good to be reminded that being grumpy is a choice, although we don't like to admit it.  And in the same way we try to give our children to tools to cope with them, we should also take on the responsibility of doing so ourselves.

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