Dealing with Your Emotions After Pregnancy
Setting Sleep Routine for Children
As with all recurring problems with kids, the best thing you can do is talk about this when it’s not occurring. So, I really encourage you to have a regular family meeting to solve this type of problem. So, it’s bedtime right now. We get together, talk to the kids about the fact that here’s how bedtime looks in our family. I say it’s time for bed, there’s some stalling. I say time for bed a little louder, there’s some running upstairs. I say time for bed and I’m nagging, and I’m getting upset with you, and there’s playing with the dog. And pretty soon, you know, to get the pajamas on, to get the teeth brushed, to get the book read, to turn off the light and say goodnight, that involves all kinds of yelling and nagging and upset and sometimes even tears.
So, what you say to your kids in the family meeting setting is, “This is no way for us to go to bed every night. Let’s have our family set up so that we know exactly what bedtime’s going to look like: what time we’re going to start, what the steps are, and we’re just going to do that without all that nagging that I’ve been doing to you. Would you kids like that, not to have so much nagging?” And, of course, they’re going to say, “Absolutely.” And so you help them with rehearsing bedtime on a Saturday afternoon. This is a funny thing that a lot of my clients do, and they have a wonderful time with it. They just say, “Time for bed,” and everyone goes and gets their pajamas on, brushes their teeth, gets their book, reads, says their prayers, say goodnight to each other, the whole thing. And they do that so that their bodies can feel what it feels like to have a peaceful bedtime. And once it’s been rehearsed like that, the kids understand it. They actually know how to do it by experience, and it just takes all the stress out of it. It’s so much fun.
Helping Children Deal with Social Issues
The best way to find out what’s happening with your child at school is to not ask directly “how was your day” because most kids can’t answer that question, its just too big of a question, so they’ll just say “fine” and then try to get on to the next subject. If you ask a specific question such as “who did you sit next to at lunch today” or “who was the student of the week” and “what did you learn about that student of the week” then you’ve got a conversation rolling when you hook it to specific information.
Another really good way to help a child talk about what happened at school is to go for a walk or a car ride with your child because if you’re both moving together in the same direction its much easier for the communication to flow from your child.
If your child is having some problems with particular kids at school you could roll play, you could be your child and he or she could be the other kid. And just go through the situation exactly as your child tells you that it happened and then replay it with maybe a better response from your child so that he or she can get along better with the kids or feel more included with the kids. If things continue and you see that over several months things aren’t getting better even though you’re doing regular, you know, finding out what’s going on with your child and roll playing a better way of doing things then you want to involve the teacher, the school counselor, the school social worker. And they’re all well trained to help kids get along socially in school. And some of them might even have contacted you because they’re usually very tuned in to this kind of thing. And so what you want to do is seek their advice on ways kids can get along better and maybe they’ll have a few sessions with your child in school and you can reinforce what they’re doing at home.
And please note that it’s not etched in stone that your child will never get along socially because childhood friendships are very fluid; they come and go; kids are fickle at this age and so please note that they will change. They may find just the perfect kid next year or next month the perfect kid might move in to the school district, and then problem solved. There’s a lot of hope, so just stick with your child. Be in the present moment, find out what’s in his or her heart, do some roll playing and give her some alternative ways to interact with other kids, and she’ll probably be just fine.
Developing Good Eating Habits in Children
Well, it depends on the age of the child. Little kids who are, like, in the eighteen month to twenty-four month age range seem to go on almost no calories at all because they’re so busy exploring the world. You think they’re running on fumes sometimes. So that’s a normal child development stage; all of my kids went through that, and I see kids go through it all the time, so that’s not a time to be concerned.
There are some children, as they get older, though, who have something called Sensory Processing Disorder. Sometimes it’s a disorder, sometimes it’s just a sensitivity. Some kids are very sensitive to smell, some kids are very sensitive to taste, and some are very sensitive to the texture of the food in their mouths. So if you are noticing that kids can’t take food that has a lot of texture to it, you might start to realize that that body is receiving the texture, the feel in the mouth of the food, like, a thousand times more than the average person perceives it. And that’s a high sensory sensitivity. So don’t get mad at these kids, because they’re actually sometimes being tortured by what their senses are telling them. And occupational therapists can help kids with this, so this is a really good opportunity to have your child evaluated by an occupational therapist to see if there’s something they can do to give little increments of different types of food to the child so that, in stages, they get a little bit more tolerance for the foods built up.
Some people just live with this with their children, and they just don’t require them to sit at the table when the food smells are intense. I have one little girl whose parents I coached, she just takes her plate in the other room and she can eat where there aren’t other plates around. She can eat her own plate, but she can’t be in the smell of the other food. Isn’t that interesting? And she can’t be too close to the kitchen. So if they allow her to take her food someplace else, she can eat. So there’s all kinds of ranges.
Sometimes kids are picky just because there’s been a lot of pressure put on them to eat food. So try not to pressure. Sit down, enjoy your own food, put good food in front of the children, allow them time to eat, take the food away, and don’t make a big deal about whether they eat or not. If they’re hungry an hour later, provide a snack. Really, the natural way of eating for children is to graze, so they should have lots of different small meals during the day. A three meal a day model isn’t really built for growing children. So kind of relax about this. Control your own sense of anxiety around what they eat; don’t express it to your children, and just offer food when they’re hungry. That’s really the best way to prevent an eating disorder later on down the road.