First, I need to clarify that nobody wants to see a child upset, especially a young one–I know I don’t like it. I’d also like to point out that I don’t have images of the girls upset. I’ve taken video of them frustrated while trying to accomplish a milestone task, like rolling over, but have only shared when there’s an end result of success. This is out of respect to them.
So how do we decide when we need to step in or let them figure their emotions and situations out on their own?
-Are the girls disagreeing on something? We allow them to figure it out as long as they aren’t harming each other, themselves, or property. We may sportscast, “V would like the book, but E is looking at the book right now. Maybe V would like to look at a different book.” We only intervene if necessary, but we try to allow them to work through their issues together. They have a lifetime of potential oppositions, so it’s best they start learning how to start settling conflicts now.
-Frustration over material or trying to accomplish a new milestone? We observe. Are they still actively trying to accomplish the task or are they just overwhelmed? If they are still working toward success, we keep monitoring to make sure they they don’t become overcome with distress. If they are overwhelmed, we try to offer them as minimal assistance as possible to aid them in accomplishing their goal.
-Are they upset because they aren’t getting their way?
- What is their intention? -The other day V wanted the picture of daddy I keep on my desk. I was holding E and attempting to get V to leave the bedroom so I could close the door. She refused and kept pointing to the picture. When I held my hand close to her hand, hoping she would walk out with me, she instead used it to point to the photo. I moved the photo further away so that she could not grab it, which caused her to verbalized her agitation. Why couldn’t she have the photo? While it was a glass frame with crystals (choking hazards), why couldn’t she have it where she could see it when being supervised? So I grabbed the photo, told her it was going to the sitting-area with us, and asked her to please join us. She was happy to come along. I placed the photo atop their little piano where both girls happily looked at it. I had to remind them a few times that we don’t want to grab the photo, but look at it.
- Is it necessary for safety? If they are upset about something that is necessary due to safety, we try to make them as comfortable as possible and explain. “We are going to your doctor appointment so we need to put you in your carseat. I know you don’t care for your seat, but it keeps you safe. We love you so very much and want to protect you, so we use your seat. Lets pick out a lovie or a book for you to bring along on the car ride.”
-Patience. As much as I’d like to tend to both girls 24/7, I’m only one person. So there are times that waiting is necessary, this can be frustrating and lead to certain feelings. One may be upset while the other is being helped with the toilet or cleaning. (In time, they will be able to ask for my time differently, like placing a hand on my shoulder while I’m assisting their sister. This will allow me to know that they need my attention with distracting from the needs of the child I am currently with. They don’t feel ignored knowing they will have my undivided attention in a moment and their sister can see their sibling needs me.)
I’m someone who believes that most things can wait if a child needs a cuddle–time is too short and their needs come first. There are times that someone is upset while I’m preparing a meal. While I try to hold or have there near me in their learning tower, this doesn’t always satisfy them and food is a must. If emotions are high, I obviously try to make something quick and easy, although it’s never as quick as we wish it could be.
I try to make sure they have access to kitchen materials that are their size and easily available. I also try to involve them as much as possible, if they are interested in assisting. Unfortunately there are times that, if daddy isn’t home, I have someone at my feet who is upset and I’m not able to soothe them.
Learning to self-soothe is one of the first dilemmas a child faces. Mastering certain predicaments, helps prepare them for the lifelong ability to solve their own problems. This makes for an independent and happier child who is confident in their decisions. By not always rushing to assist and by allowing them a little time to self-soothe (we call this Le Pause), we are actually helping our child long-term. Some parents use Le Pause at night, but it’s something we remind ourselves regularly, to take a pause before “aiding” them when we aren’t really needed. If we “save” them prematurely, or when we aren’t really needed, we hinder them learning to self-sooth.
Do you practice Le Pause during the day?
*There seems to be such a stigma in our society, and so much mommy-shaming, to maintain 24/7 perfection. If you’re becoming overwhelmed or upset, it’s ok to lay your child in a safe place and take a shower. For some reason, a warm shower helps soothe the mind and calm the nerves. Now, I’m not talking a half hour shower, just a short one that makes you feel like a new person.