Communication: It’s all in the actions..

Are you thinking “she is off track”? “What the heck does action have to do with communication??”

Well hear me out..

If you pay attention to what your child is doing you will quickly see that they can communicate with you through their actions or behaviour.

When a toddler is throwing an epic tantrum what are they saying? “Help me”, “I’m done”, “I don’t like not getting my way”, “It is frustrating not being able to do what you can do”, and the best one “Why don’t your understand what I am trying to tell you?”

When you lay an infant down on the floor and he begins to cry what is he telling you? At first, you may think “He doe not like tummy time” or “he only wants to be held”. When in fact he may be hungry, tired, or not sure what is going on. If you get down on the floor close to him and give him eye contact or talk in a soothing manner the crying could stop before you even pick him up. Does this mean you have to stay on the floor with him all the time? Nope, it is just something to try to help him like it. You can sing or talk to him from a distance as well.

An older child may have a number of words but they often cannot use them to effectively express how they are really feeling. Their behaviour can be a very clear sign of how they are feeling or what is going on in their world. A great example of this is when our little (not so little guy – 7) is bouncing off of the walls or not able to follow simple requests. It can mean that he is super excited about something, he is worried about something, he has the energy to burn, or he is just having fun.

So I do believe that I have made my point very clear that children communicate with their actions or behaviour. You may be thinking that is great but what can I do?

Ways to Help Your Child Improve their Communication through actions?

1. Pair their action with words:

Give them the words. For example: when your infant is crying and you know they are hungry crying say ” I think you are hungry”. It sounds ridiculous but honestly, it is very helpful. This is especially helpful with a toddler and preschool-aged children.

2. Respond to the Action

Give them the chance to communicate their needs. Children as young as 8 months can gesture but usually it is closer to 10 months before a child can gesture for what they need. If you acknowledge that you know what they are asking for they will continue to use gestures.

3. Teach Sign

When children are responding with gestures you can teach simple baby language signs. The key is to pair the sign with words so they learn to communicate with words as well.

4. Use Visuals

You can have a series of pictures available for your child to use to express their needs. A child around 16 months can start to use this technique. Ask your child to “show me” what they want and they can start that at just over 12 months but it gets better closer to 16 months.

 

What do some actions mean:

Rooting:

This is when a child shows an action towards a breast. This can mean that the child is hungry (most common reason); however, it can also indicate that a child is tired.

Crying:

When your child is crying you will be able to figure out what the various ones mean. Obviously the high pitch very loud wail means “I want you now”. you will also know what tone of cry your child uses to let you know that are tired or hungry, trust your instincts on this.

Hitting:

This can often mean that child is frustrated or angry; however it can also mean that a child is really excited. So depending on the reason, you can act accordingly.

Biting:

The main reason for this is pain or discomfort while teething. In infants this can be a sign of hunger. With Toddlers and Preschool-aged children it can be a way for a child to indicate that they are frustrated, angry or excited. Here is a link to a previous blog post that can help with biting,

Twirling hair:

This can mean that a child is trying to seek comfort from anxious moments.This is another behaviour that can indicate that a child is frustrated.

 

Do you witness other behaviours from your child that you have figured out what they mean? Please post any behaviours that you commonly see in the comments section under this post.

 

Dealing with the Unexpected

Children (like most humans) are creatures of habit. When something unexpected happens it can throw things upside down in their little world.

Children, especially young children, will struggle to discuss the changes that happened but you will know they are affected by it through their behaviour.

 

The following are some common things that happen when the unexpected happens:

1. Increased Tantrums

2. Non-compliance/Defiance

3. Increased Emotion (tears and whining)

4. Interrupted Sleep

5. Decreased/Increased Appetite

 

Your child is being affected by the unexpected event, Now What???

First, let’s talk about a situation that we went through about a year and a half ago…

Unexpectedly, my husband and father of our then 5-year-old ended up in the hospital for just under a week. This event rocked us all to the core. I wanted to curl up and separate from the world; however, this adorable little 5-year-old had a different plan.

The little guy kept asking the same questions over and over again. He would replay the situation with his words. He would tell anyone that would listen (sometimes that meant he was telling strangers details). This was hard for me to process; however, I knew the importance of letting him talk so I did. We never shut him down. He slowly stopped talking about it on his own.

He asked to stick with his routine. I thought it was best to keep him home from school the day after his dad ended up in the hospital. He wanted to go to school. I then sent him to school. Children thrive on the expected! He was comfortable going to school and wanted to be there. So off to school he went. He also wanted to go to Beavers that night so he did.

He needed to see that Daddy was okay so we went to the hospital to see him but did not stay long. We kept the visit short and sweet.

Then he asked for answers. He needed to know why things happened the way they did so I explained things in terms I knew he would understand. I did not shelter him from the experience. Instead, I involved him and kept things as age appropriate as possible.

We often try to protect our kids. In protecting them we do not give them the information they need. This can be harmful.  Children will start to use their imaginations to come up with reasons that things happen. It is best to keep them in the loop. This really helped our little man.

In time, he was able to move on from the situation. He actually moved on much quicker then the adults did.

 

Steps to Take when the Unexpected Happens:

1. Keep to the regular routine as much as possible

2. Let your child talk (no shutting them down)

3. Do not take any outbursts personally

4. Keep things age appropriate

 

In summary, do not underestimate your child’s ability to handle the situation. Your child will thrive if you keep things age appropriate and as close to their routine as possible. If you have any further comments, please feel free to comment in the comments section under this post.

Night Waking: How do I respond??

Night Waking: How do I respond??

Your little one has been sleeping for an hour or more and now appears to be waking up… Now What???

Before you feel like running out the door there is a way to respond that may assist your little one with getting back to sleep in a timely fashion (in some cases 🙂 ).

Time

When our little ones wake up we often run to them which does not give our little ones a chance to try to go back to sleep. Sometimes we actually end up waking our little ones up because they were making noise or moving around in the REM stage of sleep. When we run in we end up waking our littles.

Now, Am I saying you have to wait 10 to 15 minutes? Nope, 2 minutes will do. If you can wait 5 to 10 minutes there is no harm. I was never able to wait so I do not expect others to wait.

If time does not help them I would move on to the next step.

Presence
There were a number of times that as soon as I walked in the room our son would roll over and go back to sleep. This was after I jumped up and rushed to prepare a bottle. I learned to go in first before preparing a bottle.

If you go close to your child and they are still in distress then I would move on to the next step.

Voice
This is when you state your nighttime phrase, shush, talk lightly, sing or hum to your child. If they calm then you slowly reduce how much you are saying to give them a chance to get drowsy. If they just get upset then talk, sing, hum or shush until they go to sleep.

If this does not work after a minute or 2 then move on to the next stage.

Touch
This is when you reach into the bassinet or crib and provide the soothing touch your child responds to. Sometimes all you need to do is to put your hand by or on your child.

If this does not begin to calm your child after a minute or 2 your move on to the next step.

Pick up
Some children get very agitated when waking up and try as you may, they will not go back to sleep after trying all the previous steps. I would then pick your little one up. I would give them comfort. When your little one is calm I would lay him/her back in the crib. You may have to start back to step one if your child starts to scream.

What if you have tried all the above steps and there is no change. Every time you put your child down the crying starts. Well, you have a few choices. You can hold your little one a little longer until he/she is in a very drowsy state or asleep. If you choose this path, know that it may take longer for your child to go back to sleep without assistance.

I was perfectly fine with the sleep teaching process taking a longer period of time. If you believe that you or your child would be better off if your child fell back to sleep faster I would recommend that you do not respond to your child right away. You may have more intense crying for a shorter period. I would then move to a timed check-in approach to sleep teaching.

If you have any additional questions please ask in a private message, on the website or in the private Facebook group.

Sleep Sack: Is it really necessary?

There are so many different gadgets and things available for infants and toddlers now that is can be overwhelming as a parent. You may find yourself asking…Is this really necessary?

Is a sleep sack something that is needed or not??

If you are reading this as a new parent I want you to fast forward in your thoughts to when your child is climbing out of the crib way before you want them to! Now stop and think about how a sleep sack can prevent a child from lifting their leg over the rail. Run do not walk to the store and get your child a sleep sack!

It is much easier to get your child into a sleep sack as a baby then it is as a toddler to prevent the crib climbing. This is the main reason I recommend a sleep sack. It is not the only reason though.

Another reason for a sleep sack is for warmth. Both the American and Canadian Pediatric Societies do not recommend blankets in the crib until at least one year of age. The sleep sack is wearable and moves with the child; therefore, it is acceptable.

How do I know which one is best?

There are so many different types of sleep sacks out there these days that he can be overwhelming. The main things I look for is temperature regulation and how easy is it for a toddler to get out of it.

You can get a sleep sack for different temperatures. Each sleep sack has a TOG label. This label will help you decide which one will keep your child warm without causing him to overheat. I had one that was made from bamboo which would flex with the temperature. You can spend a fortune on finding one that works so I would ask your local mom’s group for their favourite one and TOG level. The TOG level best for my son may be different for your child is you live in a warmer or colder climate.

To keep our little man warmer in the winter he would wear a fleece sleeper under the sleep sack. In the summer he could often be found in a light sleeper or just a diaper shirt in his sleep sack.

In my personal opinion, the most important thing to look for is how a child can get out of the sleep sack with ease. The ones with the button on the shoulder were easy for our little man to get out of. We had one with a zipper down the middle. The zipper started at the top of the sack and zipped down. The good thing with the zipper in the middle was when he started experimenting with unzipping it, I was able to turn it around so the zipper was in the back. I did this a few times and then he stopped trying to undo it.

 

As with all decisions we make as a parent the best decision is the one you make for your child. This post is my opinion of why I like a sleep sack. As always be the parent you want to be!

Have I ruined my child’s sleep?

Have I ruined my child’s sleep?

I will often get asked if a child’s sleep is now ruined because a parent had to sleep with the child or had to offer more support.

There are times when my little man puts things into a perspective way better than I can. Last night he was struggling with going to sleep, Thank You Day Light Savings! When he really struggles my husband or I will lay with him.

As we were laying there I was holding him (a great big snuggle and a hug). We were listening to a guided meditation about a Koala Bear that was not able to go to sleep (here is a link to it). The meditation was talking about how the bear was not able to lay still in his bed. My little man said to me “someone needs to hold that bear down”. I laughed to myself. Then I realized that my little man understood what I was doing. I was holding him down to help him sleep. After he made that comment I was even happier about the fact that I was able to assist him and he knew exactly what I was there for.

A short time after our snuggle our little man was able to go to sleep. Does this mean I will have to do this every night? No, it does not. After children have mastered the skill of falling to sleep with minimal assistance they often do not want you there. There will be a time or two thousand, that they require extra support. There is no harm to offer the support. Some children may need you to slowly remove the support and others will adapt quickly without issue.

The point of this post is to remind you to do what you feel is right for your child. Slowly but surely you will get them to be doing exactly what is best for them.

Take care and as always, Be the Parent you want to Be!!