Mamas, ever feel like there’s just a little too much yelling going on in the house for your liking (and I don’t mean from the kids)? I suddenly found myself unable to deal with my 4 year old’s mood swings, tantrums and objections to the smallest detail from whether his toast was cut the right way to if he was the first to get into the car and was resorting to shouting, time-outs and all sorts of other tactics recommended by most of the books and parenting experts these days but all with little positive effect. Apart from being worn out by the constant battles, I really felt as though nothing was working and I wasn’t connecting with my little boy anymore – in fact, everything I tried just seemed to make the situation worse.
In desperate need of fixing the situation, reducing the shouting and finding a sustainable solution to dealing with my toddler, I reached out to Jasmine Collin, a mama of two who runs ToddlerCalm courses that have specifically been developed by UK-based toddler parenting expert and mama of four, Sarah Ockwell-Smith, in conjunction with mama of 2 and Clinical Child Psychologist and toddler expert Dr. Victoria Montgomery, to help parents understand their toddler’s world. The course is aimed at parents of 1-4 year olds (but I think are relevant for all ages) and aim to avoid tantrums, cope with unwanted behavior while encouraging a better family dynamic. All good stuff right?
I assumed that ToddlerCalm would just rehash the stuff I already knew and that I would go home armed with a variation of time-out, reward charts and naughty steps. But no mamas, ToddlerCalm opened my eyes to a whole different parenting style that has quite literally transformed my household in just four sessions. In fact, the first thing that Jasmine said to us was that she thought the methods used by ToddlerCalm could change the world and make it a better place. Pah! I thought, I doubt it. But now having completed my sessions I am convinced that she is absolutely right. In my opinion, everybody, mama or not, would benefit from using ToddlerCalm tactics.
Four of us mamas met at Horizon Nursery in Umm Suqeim for 2.5 hours each week for four weeks over tea and cookies and learned how to be better parents (and people!) – communicating our problems, shedding a few tears and listening to each other without being judgmental.
During the first class, we were all encouraged to share our reasons for signing up and the goals we hoped to achieve – from promoting better sleep to understanding why our toddlers were melting down at any opportunity, from fussy eating and sibling rivalry to biting and all the stuff that comes with toddler territory. Within minutes, Jasmine had flipped our way of thinking on its head, helping us to understand a child’s brain development and capabilities and also to see that some of the expectations we place on our little ones are completely unrealistic for their ages.
Imagine responding to a tantrum with compassion? Well mamas, neither could I. A tantrum in our house meant time-out, naughty step, toys and tv taken away, bribes and a whole lot of yelling from both sides. ToddlerCalm teaches mamas (and papas too) about a child’s brain development and reasons for behaving in certain ways, while teaching us to look at these situations as opportunities to help our children grow and manage their own emotions. The thing that we must all realise (and I didn’t) is that between the ages of 0 and 7, children are naturally egocentric so it’s actually unrealistic of us to expect certain behaviour – instead, we must model it. And mamas, that means no shouting when we tell them yelling is unacceptable – makes sense, right?!
Modern parenting books often allude to parents needing to ‘tame’ their children. What ToddlerCalm helps us to remember is that our kids are little human beings, not animals. However they are also not yet young adults, so it’s up to us to teach them and model the sort of behaviour we expect. The classes also emphasise that empathy goes a long way and that our toddlers need to feel understood in order to grow. When I told my son that I ‘understood that he wanted a biscuit’, instead of muttering my usual ‘no you can’t have one’ and went on to explain that he’d need to wait until after his supper, he quite literally almost yelled, ‘Hallelujah, you are listening to me!’ (We still had a little debate about when said biscuit would be allowed, but there was definite progress.)
Through various techniques and very easy to follow explanations, Jasmine helped us understand a toddler’s world from their perspective and from their capabilities. She instilled the message that our little ones need to feel loved unconditionally and not only if they behave well, eat everything on their plate and sleep for 12 hours straight each night.
ToddlerCalm is not a ‘miracle cure’ for the tricky toddler behaviour we all face, but it does empower parents to manage and understand their children through very simple, very obvious and oh-so-effective explanation and methods. I’m delighted to say that it has honestly transformed my approach to parenting and my toddler’s behaviour and that I’ve booked my husband in for the condensed version at the end of the month. Yes mamas, ToddlerCalm really could change the world, one mama and papa at a time.