Monday, May 6, 2013

Handling Toddler Meltdowns-Bethany

I stumbled across this blog shared on my friend's Facebook page. A fantastic read and I will absolutely be putting these tips to good use :-) To make this entry a little more interesting, I'll post my favorites.

Acknowledge your own feelings and remind yourself that this isn't an emergency.
 It's so easy for me to get caught up in my emotions. To forget that feelings are temporary, no matter how extreme or never-ending they may seem. This could go along with my rule of "Counting to 10" when all I want to do is flip out (Like I did two days ago). When something is broken or a child won't stop screaming or acting up, I should stop, count to ten and acknowledge that, "Hey, I'm upset at whatever is happening. This emotion will pass, and it's not worth yelling over. The damage of yelling is far worse than this one sucky moment."

Remind yourself that expressing feelings is a GOOD thing. 
This is so important! I had a lot of issues growing up where I just bottled up my feelings. With a certain person in my life, this led to a huge blowup when I was 18. It was ugly, and I didn't know how to handle that overwhelming load of emotion. Feelings are so natural, they should never be shoved down and ignored. I want to teach my kids that whatever they are's ok...we'll tackle it together and find the best way to express them. I've started this with my 4 1/2 year old stepson, Landon. When he gets angry, he tends to raise his fists in frustration. I am working with him to let him know that it is ok to be frustrated with something, or at someone (Like when Little Sister hits him or has a toy that he wants). Instead of making fists, or hitting back, I want him to find a better way to express his feelings. Like using his words, or coming to me or Daddy, or even screaming into a pillow.

The rest of her entry is great as well, but those two really stuck out for me!

My Day Two is going swimmingly so far. Poor Savannah got a papercut when I let her play with a piece of scrap paper. A Lightening McQueen bandaide and tons of kisses later, and we're all better <3

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The yell snuck up on me-Bethany

Today should have been Day Twelve of no yelling. Instead, I am restarting on Day One.

I blew it last night.

It had been a really good day. Laying on a blanket in the grass with the girls, reading books and enjoying the sunshine. A splurge on pizza for dinner. My girls were happy, and I was happy. Chris was at a class all day so it was just us three.

And then Savannah got sleepy. For the past few weeks she has really been fighting going to bed. Arching her back, screaming, spitting out her paci, biting me if I try to nurse her to sleep. It takes a lot of patience and lullabies to get her to sleep. She's just like I was as a baby (and a kid) I never wanted to miss anything. So the best way to get her to sleep is to have a quiet surrounding.

With a 2 1/2 year old? HA!
Nevaeh is usually so good about keeping her voice down when I ask her to. She'll come running into our room in the morning and if she sees that Savannah is still sleeping, she'll put her finger to her lips and whisper, "Shh! baby sister still sleeping!" Likewise, if I am trying to get her to sleep, Nevaeh is usually good at being relatively quiet.

She was last night too, during the hour it took for me to get Savannah to sleep. Rocking, bouncing, walking, butt patting, shh'ing, singing. Putting her down in her crib once to use the bathroom and hoping she'd just fall asleep (hahaha...ha). Finally her eyes grew very heavy and she stopped fighting. Stared at me with a sleepy grin while I sang her Her Song.

Just a little more...her eyes were almost closed....

There. Thank God. She was asleep.

"MOMMY!!!!!!!!!!! MOOOOOMMYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"


Instant awake. Crying. Stress.

Without even stopping to think about why Nevaeh had screamed my name, I shouted, "DAMMIT Nevaeh! She was asleep! I just got her to sleep! You just woke her up! ARRRRRRRGGGGGGG!"

That's all it took, was one moment to completely lose my cool. I was so beyond frustrated.

I sent her to bed. A bit nicer but still loaded with frustration. I told her I would be in to get her into her PJ's when I got Savannah back to sleep. Which took all of 5 minutes. She was already so sleepy, it wouldn't have taken that long to get her back to sleep.

So why did I yell?! I snapped. I didn't even think about it. I was just so frustrated for that hour, working to keep from getting upset at my sweet little baby. Then I finally had that relief of her falling asleep, and then it was undone. And I just snapped.

The yell snuck up on me.

I laid Savannah in her crib and went in to Nevaeh's room. She had a super sad look on her face, and my heart was so broken. Her feelings were hurt. I realized I had never even asked her what she needed earlier when she yelled for me.

"I am so sorry Nevaeh. I am so sorry that I yelled at you."
"It's ok, Mommy. I forgive you." She looked me in the eyes and I felt that unconditional love pour from her. I cried. Here she was, so ready to just love her mommy and forgive having her feelings hurt for no good reason at all. My sweet, sweet girl. I hugged her to me, told her I loved her a million times over. I lightly explained that Mommy had been frustrated, and should not have taken it out on her. She stroked my hair and gave me hugs back. All this compassion in such a small little girl. I felt so undeserving at that moment! I snuggled her until she fell asleep, then sat myself down to reflect on my undoing.

It was unfair. I yelled for nothing. I'll never know why she shouted for me. Probably to show me something she did or made or saw. Something innocent and sweet, I'm sure.

Today is Day One, and I have a new determination. I don't want to see that hurt expression on her face. Ever, especially when I'm the one that caused it.

Day One, Orange Rhino. I can do this!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Orange Rhino Challenge...It's not just for the kids.... -Erika

Let me be honest.....
1. I can't seem to get past day one. I am not having any luck getting my yelling under control
2. Most of the time when I'm yelling at my kids, it's because I'm frustrated or angry about something that has nothing to do with them.

Hows is this fair?

It's not. I'm starting to learn that the Orange Rhino Challenge isn't just about not yelling at the kids, it's about making a lifestyle change. Changing the way I handle frustration, changing the way I discipline my children. I really want to do this. The one time I went 2 days without yelling I noticed an improvement in Timmy's behavior, so why is this not enough for me to be able to get it right.

Today, I yelled at Timmy for spraying vegetable oil in the kitchen. I got mad at him for bringing too many toys in the living room. How ridiculous is that? The worst part is, I'm in a bad mood because today has been so busy, because I still have a ton of stuff to do and it feels like I have no time to do it. I put off some housework to enjoy some time with my kids, but I blew it when we got home and I wasn't nice to my toddler. 

I really need to think about what kind of mother I want to be. I LOVE my kids! I'm so blessed to get to stay home with them. On a beautiful day like today, I got to pack our lunch for an afternoon at the park. I want my kids to grow up feeling like Mom is an active participant in their lives, and I am quite successful at that, away from the home. They deserve so much more of my attention at home. Most of the attention paid is negative, that is how often I'm mad. It has to stop. 

I CAN do better, I NEED to do better! 

The Orange Rhino Challenge is challenging me more ways than I ever expected! It's not just for the kids, it's for me.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Day One.....again! -Erika

Every day has been day one for me for the last 3-4 days, I just can't seem to remember what I'm trying to accomplish here. Then I realized it's because I'm not even trying. Not yelling at your kids, it takes work, it takes self discipline, it takes LOADS of patience, and I haven't even been attempting it lately. 
The woman who started the the Orange Rhino says that she uses orange napkins when she eats, as a reminder not to yell at her children, since dinner time is always such a struggle. Well, the living room is where my family spends most of it's time, and Tim took Timmy to get some new fish for the tank yesterday, and he picked out, mostly orange fish! It's almost as if he's trying to tell me to keep at it. "Here is your reminder Mom." There are about 15 orange fish swimming around our fish tank now :) He also picked out a crab and shrimp, and he loves them! He is such a sweet child and deserves a Mom who is going to push herself to be the best mom she can be!

One thing I noticed is that for the my first go around when I went 2 days without yelling, Timmy was listening and behaving so much better. I also noticed that the more days I went yelling at him for doing things I didn't like, the worse he was getting, the worse he was listening. When you take this challenge, and fail at this challenge, you begin to realize just how major of an impact it has on your child's behavior.
So as difficult as it is, I absolutely recommend to everyone to take this challenge, and put 100% into it, as I am prepared to start doing again today. I will complete this challenge, even if I have to start over 10 more times I'll get there. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Day 6, pick up sticks-Bethany

Well, we didn't literally pick up sticks ;-) But it rhymes!

Which brings me to another "technique" I've figured out. It diffuses a meltdown (unless said meltdown is the result of tiredness, in which case only a nap can fix it).

Sing a song! Patty cake, It's Raining, Itsy Bitsy, or the lullaby I wrote for my biggest girl when she was a sweet, smooth cheeked baby. That's my favorite one to sing, because she gets this sweet smile on her face. Like she just knows that song is special and just for her. It helps remind me of the gut wrenching love I have for her, in the midst of what could easily become chaos that would end in me yelling, and her precious feelings hurt.

I wrote a lullaby for Savannah as well, and am sure it will come to use down the road when tantrums are thrown or just when she needs some special lovin'.

Today was a great day by the way, as was Friday and Saturday. The husband was off work and we spent lots of time together as a family! (Minus our sweet Landon).

 Daddy teaching Vae tic-tac-toe....good way to avoid "out to dinner tantrums"
 One happy outside baby!
Nevaeh got her first haircut today! She flipped out at first, nervous about scissors coming at her. Instead of getting frustrated, I calmly talked to her, let the stylist cut a small piece of my hair to show her it wasn't scary, and finally bribed her with a sucker. After the first snip, she was super excited! A lot of times she "acts up" because she isn't sure about something. That's what I need to constantly remind myself of.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Thinking Chair-Bethany

A while back, before the Orange Rhino was a figurative animal in my mind or household, I tried to think of a more creative discipline for my kids. I didn't like sticking them in the corner (and my poor walls were hopelessly stained with tear streaks, which was ugly and heartbreaking), and it never worked anyway. All it was, was me yelling "Get in the corner!" "Be quiet!" "Stand still!" "Get BACK in the CORNER!"

It was way more hassle than help.

Thus was born the Thinking Chair.
 Time to think
Time to stew
Reflect upon the things you do
And when you're done
Be on your way
Please behave while you play!
She is not in trouble. She saw me taking a picture and insisted on demonstrating :-)

Nice chair off of ebay (That I put together wrong the first time, and yelled at my kids several times during assembly -give me back that screw driver! Don't hit your sister with that leg!-)
Stenciled with a poem I wrote to help them concentrate on why they're sitting on the chair in the first place.

Now I must admit. I was a lot more gung ho about this chair when it was still an idea in my head. Once I actually made the chair, it didn't serve the proper purpose. It became somewhere to sit in time out, instead of standing in the corner. I didn't put that clever poem to good use.

Luckily the Orange Rhino has reared her horn at me and reminded me that this Thinking Chair is in fact a great idea. Sometimes kids need to just chill out and relax, without being sent to bed for a nap (and certainly not yelled at to shut up).

So the Thinking Chair will now be used properly. With love, understanding, and a good explanation of why they are sitting on it, instead of a half hearted "Go sit in the chair in time out!"

Landon, Nevaeh and Savannah....I love you! Day 4 of no yelling <3

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Well it had to happen sometime -Erika

Well, I really didn't expect to get through a whole year or even close on my first attempt. Let's face it, I am human, I am not perfect, and I yelled at my children today. I didn't completely lose it, but I yelled at each of them once and I more than got a little irritated with Timmy for being a toddler getting into things when he didn't at all deserve my unpleasant words. So here we go again. Orange Rhino Challenge, day 1. 
It started when I was in the living room rocking Billy to sleep while the mac n cheese was cooking on the stove and I hear Timmy start crying. I knew what happened before even checking on him, he was standing on a chair at the stove crying. So I yelled, "Timmy, NO!" He got hurt, and I got mad, when I should have been sympathetic but stern. Not the first time I got mad when he got hurt. Why should I though? He's already hurting and my sharp tongue doesn't make matters any better.
A little while later, Billy was having an all out fit, and I screamed over him to get his attention, hoping it would stop the crying. It didn't, and now I have to start over because of it. Aside from that it was the little things, little irritants. It's like a chain reaction. You yell once it's easy to do it again. And now I'm feeling very guilty, so it's time to wind down a little and  relax. Billy is quiet now, about to take a nap, and I'm going to spend a little time reflecting on the mistakes I made. Tomorrow is a new day.