“Meha, Arya hasta kyu nahi hai ?” (Why doesn’t Arya Laugh ?) My mother was asking me seemingly worried…. Pat came my reply ‘He has gone on his father !’ … and I laughed it off…. My son was 2 at that time… I must say it took me 4 years to realize that he could really laugh… I mean laughter that reached his eyes and made his whole body lighten up …. and that happened when I made some big changes in my parenting style… Am sharing some with you today … It’s a long post again but more or less sums up what I learnt in 4 years !
1. I stopped pushing him for food and other unnecessary things : I think this is one of the biggest reason both he and me were not enjoying the first 3 years of his life… It was more of a war .. As soon as he started on solids, I noticed that he was too particular about his food.. for e.g. roti (Indian bread) needs to be dry… roti dipped in dal (legumes) is rejected…. the khichdi should look pretty without any ‘blemishes’ like jeera (cumin seeds) or tiny red spots of mirchi powder (chilli powder)… the list is endless… How I got around this is mentioned in detail in my blog ‘https://enjoyingyourkids.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/hello-world/‘ … In fact , even today, if I or any of my relatives start pushing him to eat something he doesn’t want to, I can see his mood getting affected for the whole day !
Similarly, if we go to a class like Gymboree, I don’t force him to try out all the activity structures in the stipulated time. Earlier I would push him to complete each and every activity to get my money’s worth. Now I let him choose what he wants to do and for how long. Even if its one structure for the entire time so be it…what’s the hurry ? It gives him some peaceful time to ‘know’ what he likes and spend time doing it rather than me herding him like cattle !
But I still push him for hygiene activities like Brushing his teeth and Bath 🙂 !
2. I understood the primary nature of kids and worked with it: I was never a “kid’s person”… They didn’t really exist in my world till I had my own kids… Yes I did appreciate kids but only from a distance… So when I had my son, I expected him to be mature and understanding like us adults… I was more of a textbook parent….
I didn’t know that when he is playing with his Lego and refusing to come for dinner, it’s not because he wants to defy me… It’s because he is so engrossed in what he is making that he doesn’t feel hunger ! and that I need to touch him on his shoulders to get him back into reality and personally bring him to the table …. Or when he wants to sit on the bed just when the soft bedsheet is landing on the bed, he is not troubling me when I am making the bed… He just wants to have fun with me… Or when he refuses to sleep at bed time, he ‘just isn’t sleepy’.. he needs me to help him calm down with a book and some warm milk instead of hearing me shout ‘Get in bed,…why can’t you ever sleep in time?? ‘! It’s in their nature to go to the bathroom to pee but get distracted by the mirror and start making funny faces instead ! Now I don’t freak out on the thought of having to clean the floor…I laugh at the faces ! It’s in their nature to be inquisitive about things and walk all around a new person’s home…he is not being nosey ! I just take my child around the home on my own before we settle into the play area !
3. I relaxed the schedule and myself ! : I still have a schedule but only some part of it is fixed like going to bed time… Earlier, I was very particular about each and every part of the schedule so much so that I had stuck it in the hall and every half an hour I would read it to my son and get him to do the next activity… it was very strenuous for him, me and my husband !
Now I let it flow… I take each day as it comes and I find its simpler when you sit back and start enjoying the moment you are in without worrying about any damn schedule !
To quote from this book ‘Moms Come First’ by Dvorh Adler :
“Life may look like a chaotic mess, but it’s really very orderly and quite happy in its organic state. Look at nature and you can see there is a time and purpose for everything under heaven. You plant an apple seed and at the appropriate time you get apples, not oranges or figs. There is a natural , right rhythm in life that brings everything to fruition.We are a part of that rhythm . Unfortunately, man is the only one who wants to push and manipulate that rhythm to his own advantage. He doesn’t realise that his best advantage is the natural rhythm expressed through him.
Have you ever experienced waking up in the morning and everything starts out right. You didn’t have to do a thing. The phone call came at the right time. You got the last parking lot. Everything flowed naturally without you forcing it.
There are other times when you wake up and immediately start pushing and manipulating everything and everybody. You have a ‘lot of things to do’ and must get them done. You yell at the kids to hurry and get dressed. You growl at your husband for using the bathroom too long.Finally you shovel everyone into the car and everyone is upset. Everything feels out of order and you never do complete the things you set out to do.
Its times like these that you have a choice. you can fight the situation, going against the natural rhythm or you can choose to be happy and flow with whats happening. You will find whatever needs to be done, gets done without causing much tension.”
4. I slept more and ate first ! I used to always think that my son’s foul mood or tantrum was either because he was hungry, hadn’t slept enough or didn’t have a bowel movement !
I realised after 4 YEARS that HE was so when “I” was hungry or sleepy or dissatisfied with my life…. ! So I adopted four techniques to change the situation and have more happy times with my kids..:
a) I always eat before I feed my kids… I never ever feed them when I am starving.. That’s a recipe for disaster… I might be seen as selfish but its better for my kids and me both !
b) I do yoga nidra daily ! This is a 25 minute meditation which when done lying down, gives 3 hours worth of deep sleep ! You could do it too at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvldC6mzLvA
c) I lightened up my personal schedule ! I have a tendency of cramming up too many things in my day and running after them… I consciously prioritize my list of to-dos and take up new projects only if I think I can manage comfortably! Same goes for my son…There is always quiet time in the day for him to laze around and recharge his senses.
d) I outsourced ‘my weakness’ – I hired a cook . Cooking is not my cup of tea and it takes me hours. It consumed all my time leaving very little time for anything else and hence making me feel frustrated. Now I pay extra for a part-time cook but it gives me invaluable peace of mind! Also, I still do cook occasionally but its more cooking for fun with my son now !
I love this article on the same concept http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1994-03-20/features/9403200132_1_parenting-books-situations-mom
5) I started feeding a tantrum with hugs ! Most parenting books tell you that the best way to deal with a tantrum is ‘to starve it’ . I completely disagree… It doesn’t work for me and only worsens the situation. Ignoring my crying toddler or confining him to his room alone till he sorts out his feelings just makes him feel unloved ! He stops crying but it is more out of fear of losing my presence rather than resolving the issue.
I feel like starving / ignoring a tantrum is like “Allopathy”- suppressing the symptoms of a bigger issue for it to resurface later with greater intensity !
I use LOVE to heal tantrums. I know that if I am unhappy with my husband I don’t want him to shut me out. I want him to sit with me…give me his time to understand the problem…. ask me hundred times before I open up about it…
And this is exactly what I do with my son.. I seat him on my lap while he is sobbing uncontrollably…hug him …I give words to his feelings – I understand you are angry…..joke with him…make him ‘laugh’ and then understand his problem… And I don’t dismiss his issue as if its nothing ! It might be small for me but it’s definitely big for him ! So I agree with him, empathise and keep saying kind / funny words till he has calmed down…. We talk about the practical aspect of that issue only once he is fine and in control…
6) Biting, hitting, peeing in the pants are not problems. They are only symptoms ! Let me give you an example. you go to school and you find out your child bit another kid. What will you do ? Feel humiliated that his behavior reflects on your bad parenting ? Reprimand him when he meets you after school ? Punish him ? Force him to say sorry to the other child ?
You know what I would do ? I would not even talk about it ! I would just HUG him …HUG him till he wants to let go… he has been through a lot already… getting irked to the level of losing self control…feeling guilty about the episode…being informed by his teacher that what he did is wrong , which by the way, he already knows….thinking that he is a bad person…
I know that when he is ready, he will confess to me himself.. whether it’s at bed time or in the car after a few days… he will tell me himself that it was wrong and why he did it and we will discuss how to avoid it next time…but at that moment he needs to know that when the whole world is hating him, there is one person in this world who still loves him !
7) Show TRUST and BELIEF ! When my son used to get hurt and would cry, I would say stop crying…it’s not that bad…its just a scrape…don’t cry like a girl…stop crying for god’s sake !
Now… I ‘trust’ him when he says he got hurt.. I hug him and say ‘awwww’… that must be painful… lets put a band-aid (even if its nothing)… you know what he says now ‘Mooom, its not that Bad !!’
I will give you another example. Once while leaving school my son was crying inconsolably. He had brought a small toy to school (I didn’t know that) but now he wasn’t allowed to take it back home because the teacher thought it was the school’s. The teacher kept telling him, “Go home now and check at home. If you don’t find yours at home you can take this tomorrow”… My son was inconsolable the whole day looking for it at home till he went next day and told the teacher it was rightfully his ! You know what should have been done instead ? I should have just told the teacher that let him have this toy today. If we find the other one at home, we will give it back tomorrow. That trust should be shown in a child…Its just a matter of a small toy…But its the ‘trust’ that you are actually ‘playing with’ when you say ‘I don’t believe you’!
Another example is my baby sitter.. I had an excellent baby sitter who helped me sometimes… Once I came home to see she was a wreck.. The baby didn’t sleep.. She (nanny) didn’t get to eat and my son barged into the room shouting “spider spider” when the baby was about to fall asleep…She was annoyed with him and in the same breath she told me that she didn’t believe that he saw a spider… That was the END of my relationship with her… If you don’t trust my children I cannot have you damage their self esteem !
8) RESPECT ! I once heard a scary story ! My friend family went for a car trip in India with another relatives family. It was a long journey and they had to make several stops because one of the kid’s wanted to poop frequently. The father got fed up and complained ‘How many times do you have to go’!! Now..would you ever say this to an adult ? NO…But you will tell a child because he is small and you can feel you can talk to him any way you want ! Anyway…the child felt soooooo bad that he refused to eat anything after that for the remaining trip !!!!…
This story makes me tearful even now and I make it a point to RESPECT my child ALL the time ! His jokes…his views… his potty time… his peeing in the pants…. his dropping food on the table while eating…. NOTHING can make me TAUNT or DISRESPECT him.. I don’t even touch him in a disrespectful way like touching his pants to see if they are wet …. If ‘I’ don’t RESPECT him, how will he learn to RESPECT himself and OTHERS ??? and the easy way to do this is to talk to him the way I would like people to talk to me.
I don’t trick him to. Earlier I used to trick him into eating vegetables, going to a daycare / school he didn’t like , going for a bath… Now I am straightforward with him. It prevents a lot of hard feelings.
9) Give him independent projects: My son loves the term ‘Project’ because every day I give him a project that makes him feel good about himself and gets him appreciation from me.
For e.g. he can get to refill the wipes in the wipe warmer. He gets to find something for me after I describe the location in words. He gets to serve and bring desert for me in a buffet without knowing to read but just by matching the description that I gave him…and so on and so forth… I don’t plan for it.. I just offload many of my jobs on him 😉
And I dont dissuade him by showing that I think he will fail…For e.g. when he wants to carry a glass bowl I don’t tell him ‘No, You can’t do it…You will drop it ‘! I say its heavy and made of glass…If it falls you can get hurt…Here hold it and see..If you think you can carry it, just wear closed shoes and I can help you hold it from one side…
10) Allowing him to sleep : My son fell sick several times in the first few years and I find that its connected to sleep in a big way…So my policy is ‘Never wake up a sleeping child’..
I used to send him to a playschool in India when he was 2.5 and it was a pain to get him up and ready by 9 a.m. Now I realise it was unnecessary stress… I should have just gone for an afternoon school or no school at all… It is wrong to expect kids to have a fixed schedule at that age and bet so much money on it and then chase them to be on time !
In fact in the US , kids start school at only age 5 ! It’s perfectly ok for the child to be home with his mother the whole day too…!! So completing his sleep requirement keeps him happy and healthy.
11) MOMMY TIME : this is the most crucial one.. When Arya was 4 years old and at home with me I decided to send him to an Indian daycare once a week from 9 to 6 just to get all my errands done and to get some me time. I noticed that on that day he used to be particularly touchy and in a bad mood …not listening …more demanding…more sensitive… So, I changed it to half a day and observed that spending the other half with me made him so calm and normal ! So I make sure I spend quality mommy time with him at least once a day !
I must say that my son’s smile is back… His carefree nature is back …. Now people don’t ask me why he looks older than his age…. Now he doesn’t fear being a child and listening to his heart… Now I enjoy his spontaneity and get a lot of satisfaction in it… I lost the first 4 years of his laughter but am glad I can enjoy the rest of my lifetime now..Like they say in Hindi ‘Der aaye Durust Aaye’ (Better late than never) !
25 thoughts on “How my child got back his laugh :) !”
Very interesting and an eye opener. I can see for myself,the change in Arya. He has become such a caring & loving child that I am proud of him, as his Nani.
Once he came to me complaining, Nani, one boy hit me. I told him not to complain and to hit him back lightly so that the fight stops. From next day he stopped complaining & the boy became his best friend.
I am proud of you also as to how you are helping new age mothers with your experiences. This blog was after a long wait.hope you write more frequently.
Thanks Mom 🙂
Learning from you and Papa 🙂
This is indeed a very good article. Though some points I had tried earlier, but there is a lot more which I can still follow. Thanks for putting them at a single place.
Lovely read and an eyeopener for most mothers 🙂
Wow, I feel so bad for the kid. I fail to understand how you were so inhumane and cruel to your kid?! “Stop crying for god’s sake”? “Why can’t you sleep on time”: shouting at a two year old?!
You don’t need to read any parenting book or be a ‘kids’ person’ to tell you that’s wrong! It’s plain cruel. And you claimed in your other post that parenting comes natural to mothers. Contradicting statements, huh?
Now I kind of get it: your other blog posts ( issues with husband, issues with working vs. non working) and this one ( issues with kids) is a reflection of your psychological issues. You definitely need help. I am glad you are working on your issues. When you yourself had so many issues you are working on ( looks like it’s still a work in progress), it’s unfathomable how you can be so judgemental about others’ choices?!
My only advice to you: be human, be kind.
Dear deathofsoul , here I was thinking that my blogs revive the soul !! However it seems that something in my blogs has irked you too much for you to write such a harsh comment. If you can put a finger on what exactly it was, we can discus it separately on email. my id is firstname.lastname@example.org !
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Lovely article. I have a 14 month old princess. I am not a stay at home mom but I really admire you ! I want to bring my daughter the way you are bringing up your kids.
The only challenging part is, how to not push them to eat what I want to feed. I really feel miserable when my daughter refuses to eat dinner. Can you please share that blog . The link in section 1 is not working ‘https://enjoyingyourkids.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/hello-world/’ …
Hi Farah … Thank you so much … The link is working now … 🙂
I’ve read a few of your articles. Have to say, I don’t agree with your style of parenting. Why would you let your child eat toast and crackers if he says no to dinner?
You eat before the kids? What happened to eating together?
Good Luck with what you do. Not my cup of tea.
Hi Madhura, yes I do give toast and crackers because even if my son is starving, he will not eat the Indian food I cooked… In fact now I make separate dinner for him because atleast I am sure he will eat that happily… Only thing is that I try to make a healthier version of the pasta, pizza etc that he likes and I make it before he demands for it… So my position is strong and I am not giving in after a tantrum ! and I eat before my kids if I am starving …We only get to eat dinner together…for other meals, the schedule doesn’t match for all of us…! Its alright if you don’t agree with my style coz all kids are unique and so the parenting styles also have to be customized 🙂
Wait, did I just read that right? Parenting styles have to be customized? I thought you said in your other blog posts that yours was the only style that was right and everyone else was wrong?
In this post you write like you are the coolest mom, but sorry to say you came across like an idiot then and still do.
I will pray for those children that they turn out half decent and don’t end out like judgmental fools like yourself.
Hi Tulip… I write about myself.. In fact while most bloggers generalize, I personalize… When did I say that what I do is the eternal truth and others are wrong ? And about judging you ? I don’t even know you to judge you ! Anyway… I hate being judged and one of my blogs is just my reply to all the judgement I get… https://enjoyingyourkids.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/no-i-dont-want-to-stop-being-a-sahm-to-make-you-happy/
My children are growing up very well, thank you and am sure yours are growing up well too… We all do our best… Thank you for giving your time to read my blogs. Keep reading and writing in 🙂
Very nice article !
lovely read.. there are some things that we know but it comes to implementation time we just let the situation decide our action but articles like these come handy as a remind and give us a check.. will love to follow ur blog.!!
thanks Ayesha 🙂
I wholly agree with you. As a SAHM of two kids, it’s been unnatural for me to be at home as I spent nearly my entire life since 16 working. It’s been a big adjustment and almost all the points from 1-5 are relate-able for me. I get annoyed too when they don’t eat and I’m waiting though we all eat together on the dining table at most lunches and dinner. So taking care of me helps me take care of them better too. Thank you this is great help to hear from another mom who’s had the same issues as me! I feel so much better!
Thanks for writing Naina… Even i feel reassured when I find people facing similar issues as me… Glad that you found this blog useful…:)
Loved the post, as a mom I realise how some notions that we have about raising our kids.That’s why I liked it how you went about the unconventional way :).
Not ready for school by 9AM? What time does your son go to sleep at?
I am that ABCD SAHM that follows the “American” way of parenting which means my kid is in bed by 8:30PM on school nights which means she wakes up on her own at 6:30 or 7 at the latest (and asks for breakfast upon waking!). The “Desi” way of having kids up at midnight on school nights means incredibly overtired kids. I realize that the family sleeps in the same bed but what about laying down with your kid on school nights so they go to sleep early and then join them later when you’re ready to bed. Most kindergartens and elementary schools start at 8AM and most preschools want your kid there by 9AM (I send my daughter to a play-based preschool that runs from 8:30 to noon. They want kids there by 9AM.
I believe on occasional late night out on the weekends is fine but school nights, I think the whole family should work on a calming evening routine that gets the kid(s) ready for bed so that they can easily get 10+ hours of sleep at night and have at least an 1 hour of awake time before leaving for school.
We really enjoyed going through your experience and learning with your child. If you are interested, it’d be great to have you guest post on our blog – blog.credihealth.com. We have articles where several moms share their delivery experiences- both normal and c-section. Would be great if we could connect. Let us know. 🙂
Hi Credihealth, I would love to connect with you. Kindly send me your details at email@example.com and we can take this forward.
I appreciate the fact that you are honest about your feelings and found a way to positively channel them.. no.1 mom’s are not true to themselves they want to live upto the persona that they have to perfect. I am a working mom i have my flaws but i do try my best to give them best. I have occasional melt down i am human.. but yes expected too much when they are 2-4 year old instead of enjoying them what starts it all .. We are afraid to face the comments of our family and friends on our parenting.
Copying this from your blog post about cooking “ayurveda” style:
“I try to prepare her food with love as often as possible. The energy of the cook is always in the food. We eat not only the food but the emotions of the chef !”
That was the absolute most idiotic thing I had ever heard before so when I read this current post where you say you have hired a cook, I had to go dig this paragraph you wrote a few months ago. LOL.
I hope you are now able to realize that what you think at this particular moment is not THE ultimate truth that you and everyone has to follow to the T. Circumstances and situations change. People have different needs, wants and priorities. So next time when you write a post preaching crap to people, think about this.
Hi Tulip… Thanks for reading all my blogs and remembering them too… You seem to be a smart woman… Well, I still believe that the energy of the chef is transferred to the food. You are entitled to your opinion. You don’t need to agree with me. I still cook one meal daily in spite of having a cook and after testing several cooks, I have found one who cooks with love 🙂