The boys had their first parent/teacher conferences recently. MIND. BLOWN.
I mean, I don’t even know where to start. I guess the best place is to say that my kids are pretty much polar opposites. From their eye color to their hair color to their senses of humor and general disposition. Even their taste in clothing. They are so different. And have been from the second they came into this world.
And yet, I realized at their parent/teacher conferences that I was treating them like the same person. As a parent of multiples, sometimes it is hard work to avoid comparing one to the other, to not track milestones based on the other’s pace. With my kids being so blatantly different from each other, that’s an area I felt less challenged with. And here I was. Here I am. Realizing that I had totally missed understanding their language. Again.
Cue brief moment of total inadequacy and failure. Boy, did I blow it.
And then I got excited. Holy heck, I felt like I had cracked the puzzle, unlocked the door. Thanks to their amazingly attentive teachers, I felt like I got handed the dictionary that translated my children’s language even further by identifying their unique strengths.
The tantrums we’ve been battling with J make sense now. B is our verbal one. You ask, he answers. In depth. We were so excited to hear B talk that we forgot J might have something to say too. We just figured he was more physical and the words would come later for him. It never occurred to me that he was frustrated because we didn’t ask him (or if we did, he didn’t get a chance to answer because B answered for him). J wants to be heard. So he screams because I’m not listening.
His screams generally warrant more attention. Which made me spend more time with him, leaving happy B to “fend for himself” with quiet play. He did/does this without complaint and when his teacher told me he struggled with independent work in school, I was floored. But he does it so well at home! Then she told me he is a social butterfly and he always wants to be near to someone. Read to them, chat with them, work with them. He wants a warm body close. And I realized, he was lonely at home. I was so busy calming J’s tears, I didn’t see that B was missing me.
Their teacher was able to suggest some very specific activities and toys that catered to each boy’s unique strengths. J loves math and sorting, so puzzles and cognitive thinking it is! B loves to read to others and enjoys songs and interactive play, so we’re stocking up on books and music. Now that I understand their unique strengths and am aiming not only their play but my interpretation of their learning to their unique characters as TWO SEPARATE PEOPLE, I’m starting to see less tears and more engaged play because I’m meeting them where they’re strongest. I’m taking one more step towards understanding their cues.
Thank God for those teachers. It was a harsh, but uplifting reminder. Sometimes a little change in perspective is all you need.
And thank you to Somer Anne Photography for the amazing pictures. They are near and dear to my heart.
How to Avoid the Epic Meltdown: Understanding Your Child’s Cues
Duh, duh, duh….the dreaded meltdown. With one kid, this can bring the strongest mommy to her knees. With multiples, well…the word “epic” takes on a completely new meaning. In the worst possible way.
Moral of the story? A little organization and forethought can go a long way. Considering WHY my kids were throwing tantrums and then exploring what I could do to prevent them before they started has saved me a million tears. Like I said, it’s not a perfect system. But every little bit helps.
How to Speak the Right Language: Understanding Your Child’s Cues
Every day I pick up my children from day care to hear “They are such great kids! They had a blast today and are some of the best listeners we’ve ever had. They’re so well-behaved!” Yay, Mama win! And then we go home and they act like total demon-infested, hell-raising psychos and won’t listen to a word I say. Weekends can be brutal and I sometimes find myself praising Jesus that I decided to keep working and not stay-at-home.
sweet kids from day care?
Best Thing I Ever Did: I went to pick the kids up one day and they were enjoying themselves, so I decided to just sit and watch for a bit and let them play. Funny thing happened. I started listening to how the day care teachers communicated with my children and how they responded. And the light bulb went off. I don’t know how to speak the language my kids understand.
I started listening harder. And then I came back the next day and did it again. Now, every time I drop off or pick up, I listen. How are they talking to my kids? What are they saying? How are the kids responding? And then I mimick it at home.
Major win!!! My kids are starting to see an extension of their daily routine back into the home and it’s making sense. I say certain words they’re used to hearing and like magic, they listen. Not every time (which I suspect also happens at day care), but the majority of time. Major improvement. We are starting to speak the same language.
Sometimes I forget (or refuse to admit) that I am not my children’s primary care provider. For those of us that work outside the home, most often our kids spend the majority of their time somewhere other than with us. Sometimes, being reminded of that hurts. A lot. But truth is, they develop routines, cues and references that we’re not familiar with. We need to learn the language they are used to hearing every day so that we can communicate our needs in a way they understand. I need to speak my children’s language.
Phrase Adjustments that Worked for Me:
- “Walk away please” instead of “No!” or “Don’t Touch!”
- “Are you using your listening ears?” instead of “Listen to me!”
- “I’m going to go to work for awhile, but Mommies always come back!” instead of “Say bye to Mommy. I have to go to work.”
11 Alternatives to Self Harm: Emily Speaks
If you’re just connecting with the Emily Speaks series, be sure to check out her first post, Cyber Bullying and Self-Harm, to catch up. Today, Emily will be sharing 11 alternatives to self harm to help those hurting to make healthier choices to cope with emotional struggles.
I know it can be hard not to self-harm if you’re being bullied, but you need to try to think of other ways to deal with the pain. Cutting leaves angry scars on your body. You should try to deal with your hurt in other ways. Here are 11 good examples that will hopefully help you out a little bit.
1. Try talking to somebody about what’s going on so that you can get it out of your system.
2. Go outside where nobody is around and just scream as loud as you can for as long as you want.
3. Take a rubber band and keep it on your wrist so whenever you feel like cutting you can just take that rubber band and snap it on your wrist (softly – not to where it harms you).
4. Get an old teddy bear or stuffed animal that you don’t want and take your anger out on that.
5. Go on a jog or go out and ride your bike or long board or whatever you have and just ride around to calm yourself down.
6. Go hang out with your friend(s) and get your mind off things that would make you want to cut or do anything else to harm yourself.
7. Sleep it out and take a long nap and see how you’re feeling when you wake up.
8. Go hang out with your family and just relax.
9. Listen to some music.
10. Read a book.
11. Get an art journal and draw out your feelings. You can paint, draw pictures, even just scribble hard.
These are some of the ways that I stop myself from cutting, because I do still think about it when things get rough. When that happens, I try to do these instead and it helps. It does! You need to do anything that would take your mind off of any bad thoughts you are having and make you want to hurt yourself. This might not be the best list of ideas, but if you take a chance and try them out, they might end up working for you. You’re not only helping yourself, but you’re helping everyone else around you by making a better choice to not self-harm.