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‘Patience Doesn’t Feel Patient’ by Sarah Sprague – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

mom and daughterThey say that bravery doesn’t feel brave or fearless because if you’re not afraid it is something other than bravery. I guess that patience is one of those things, as well.

From the outside it looks like calm and peace but from the inside it can feel more like the tested limits of self control.

Learning to be patient is learning how to separate what we feel from how we act. It is learning to accept our feelings while choosing to not act on them. It is learning to say to ourselves:

I can be angry without acting angry.
I can be impatient without acting impatient.
I can be upset without acting upset.
I can be hurt without acting hurt.
I can feel without acting on my feelings.
I can feel without reacting to what I feel.

When I choose to act patient I slow down. I speak more slowly than I normally would. I lower my volume and I pace my words so that they won’t rush together in an explosion of words that no one will understand and that will act as a precursor to yelling. There’s a rhythm to this patience that doesn’t feel patient. A slow rhythm. A careful spacing of words. A slowness to how my body moves as I make sure that no part of me will gain a momentum that will feel like hitting or grabbing or being anything other than soft and gentle.

  • When my toddler hits again.
  • When my seven year old is upset that he doesn’t understand his homework and is avoiding doing it instead of asking questions.
  • When my four year old has snuck his safety scissors into the other room so that he can cut apart a travel pillow to see what is inside, and the entire world feels like it’s covered with tiny Styrofoam pellets.
  • When the two-and-a-half gallon water dispenser has been opened by someone curious and it has flooded the kitchen.
  • When my three year old fed the fish every container of fish food all at once and the twenty nine gallon aquarium needed to have all of its water cleaned and replaced at bedtime.

I slow down to try and run in quicksand. I go slow-motion like walking through an empty room with a strobe light. I try and move my body through a thickened air. And I try to slow every word down so that it comes with a peace and gentleness that doesn’t show any of the frustration that I feel.

I grasp at all of the excuses that my child doesn’t yet have the words to offer. I try and see what positive or curious motivations they  might have, or what stresses may be driving them to this place. I try to wrap every part of my heart and brain around empathy and love.

He sits at the table fiddling with his pencil. Nothing has been done on his worksheet, not even his name. He has gotten up to do half a dozen things. I have to make dinner. I have to sweep the floors. I have to do all the things on my to-do list.

“Issac.. Can you please do your homework?” I ask.

“Okay.” He says. And he picks up his pencil and stares off into space.

I am feeling anything but patient. My daughter has not napped today and she claws at my knees to be picked up, asks to draw on his homework with his pencil, and wants no substitutes for this thing that she cannot have. So now I’m being screamed at. I tap at his worksheet and he tells me to help Keenie calm down. So I walk away to find her some playdoh so that we can work on his homework together.

I come back. Nothing’s been done.

Breathe. Slow down. Find the reasons. Seven hour days at school with fifteen minute recesses. Not nearly enough time to decompress after school. He’s having a hard time reconnecting to what he’s trying to do.

I move slowly, lay my hand on his shoulder as softly and gently as I can. On contact my own tense muscles relax. This is my child. My son. He is seven and I love him dearly.

I plant a kiss on his head, and sniff his hair the way I used to when he was tiny, when he was a toddler. It smells just like him.

My other hand comes down to his worksheet. I’m standing behind him, my body enveloping his. Supporting and soft and patient, not angry and looming. My finger pointing to where he needs to write his name. Slow voice. Quiet voice. “Isaac, what does this say?” I ask. Trying to get him to look at the worksheet long enough to begin writing.

He writes his name.

“Now what’s the next question?” I ask. Soft. Slow. Clear. Strong.

He doesn’t answer. He doesn’t move.

I tap the paper. His eyes move to where I’m pointing.

“Can you read this for me?” I ask. He reads the question out loud.

“Do you understand what the question is asking?” I ask.

The dam breaks. He doesn’t understand. He screeches frustration and tells me that he didn’t understand in class.

My frustration is gone. I understand now. We go over what he can do if he doesn’t understand something in class. I ask him if he wants me to help him figure out how he can answer the questions or if he wants me to write a note on the top so that his teachers will know he needs more help with this topic. He chooses to have me try and show him how to work out the answers.

I sit down next to him. He’s fully engaged now.

Patience did not feel patient at first.  But then. At the end of it, when I’ve responded well? When the crisis is past. When the messes have been cleaned up? When I’ve helped my seven year old slow down to re-focus and understand what he refuses to understand? When I’ve had self control and when I have acted patient?

That is when patience feels patient. When we’re past the thing that has me pulling my hair out. When we’re past the thing that has me wanting to move faster and raise my voice. When we’re past the thing that has me wanting to throw a tantrum all of my own.

That.. Is when I feel patient. Radiant. Powerful.

And it takes my breath away.

Sarah Sprague, creator of the ‘Wait-It-Out’ gentle sleep learning method (WIO), writes at Nurshable: Joy in Gentle Parenting and can be found on Facebook at Nurshable.

Related posts:

‘Encouraging Safe Negative Emotional Expression (i.e. Stopping the Peeing, Spitting & Kicking)’ by Guggie Daly – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

‘The Myth of Baby Sleep Regressions: What’s Really Happening to Your Baby’s Sleep?’ by Pinky McKay – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts While She Battles Cancer

’12 Ways to Get Past No’ by Dr. Laura Markham – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

‘5 Keys to Setting Limits that Minimize Tantrums and Meltdowns’ by Amy Bryant – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

‘What I Believe He Will Believe’ by Abby Theuring, MSW – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

My Cancer Story, Part 1: The Diagnosis

 

L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.


‘The Myth of Baby Sleep Regressions: What’s Really Happening to Your Baby’s Sleep?’ by Pinky McKay – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts While She Battles Cancer

baby-sleep-eye.jpgThe 4 month sleep regression, the 12 month sleep regression, the 18 month sleep regression – what is happening?

Of course, any time your baby’s sleep suddenly seems to go pear shaped , you wonder what am I doing wrong? Having a neat little term like ‘sleep regression’ gets you off the hook – it’s not you, it’s your baby. It’s a sleep regression. It’s normal and common and it will pass.

The term ‘sleep regression’ sounds more helpful than the patronising label ‘accidental parenting’ which implies you have done something to create your wakeful baby but you are such a half-wit you didn’t even realize you were doing something ‘wrong’. It sounds much smarter too and even a little bit intellectual, as though you have done your homework about infant sleep.

But here’s the thing: your baby isn’t having a ‘regression’. Sleep isn’t a milestone – even though it certainly feels like an achievement when your baby starts snoozing for several hours at a stretch. By the way, ‘all night’ in infant sleep studies means five hours sleep in a row –not eight hours like an adult or twelve hours like some baby books will tell you. The real, measurable, important milestones that signal your baby’s actual development can influence your baby’s sleep, or lack of it. So, when your baby, who has been sleeping in peaceful blocks, suddenly starts waking more frequently, it usually means he is approaching a real developmental milestone – he is not ‘regressing’, he is ‘progressing.’

Developmental milestones can be physical (rolling, crawling, cruising, walking), emotional (separation anxiety) and neurological. Neurological milestones are outlined in ‘The Wonder Weeks’ , a book by Dutch researchers, psychologists Franz Plooij and Hetty Van Der Rit , who observed many children in their homes over a number of years. They describe the ‘wonder weeks’ as critical periods of development that change the baby’s perception of his world. For instance, at 26 weeks, babies start to perceive distance. This means that as you walk away, your baby is now more aware of the distance that separates you and he will yell at you because the increasing distance between you and him is confusing and a bit scary.

As babies approach any new developmental phase, their perception of the world changes so, although this can be just a blip on the radar for some babies, more sensitive babies will need extra reassurance and can become quite clingy or generally unsettled at these times.

Because babies process information during their sleep – circulation to the brain almost doubles during REM sleep – it’s perfectly normal for them to wake more often as they are approaching new milestones. For instance, at around four months (the four month sleep ‘regression’ that everyone is talking about), babies are becoming much more aware of the world – they are babbling (this is the beginning of language acquisition), exploring things with their mouth (soon that will include their feet too as they suck their toes), they are recognizing familiar people (and becoming anxious around strangers – separation anxiety is kicking in), many babies are starting to roll over so they wake because they have unintentionally rolled onto their belly and this has woken them. They are confused and upset because they really wanted to be sleeping but that tiny brain processing information has resulted in some extra ‘practice’ of their new skill. All of this adds up to a very busy little brain that finds it difficult to switch off. And, as well as often having difficulty getting to sleep in the first place or resettling after being woken by their busy brains and bodies, when he wakes, confused, your baby will call for help from the most important person in his world – you.

Of course at any time if your baby suddenly becomes unsettled or wakeful, it’s important to check that there isn’t a medical reason for this or an impending illness such as sore ears or a urinary tract infection (babies generally wake when they wee if they have a UTI because it hurts), or if your baby has recently started family foods she isn’t upset by food sensitivities.

Once you have ruled out illness as a reason for sudden changes in your baby’s sleep patterns, consider your baby’s development: what new skills is your baby learning? Is she a bit more clingy during her awake times? Does she seem more sensitive right now? And try to see her wakefulness as a positive – she is not regressing, she is progressing. She is learning and developing in leaps and bounds. She isn’t waking because you have done anything wrong. You aren’t encouraging ‘bad habits’ you are helping your baby feel secure as she grows through these intense developmental stages. You don’t have to justify your baby’s behavior with fancy labels or reasons for her waking (except perhaps, to yourself if it makes you feel better).

The good news is that, as your baby masters each new milestone, there will be spells of sound sleep again – until the next developmental leap!

pinky mckayPinky McKay is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and best selling author of Sleeping Like a Baby, 100 Ways to Calm the Crying, Parenting By Heart and Toddler Tactics.  For more baby sleep tips, check out her bundle – Sleeping Like a Baby plus the recording package of interviews by leading international sleep researchers ‘The Truth About Infant Sleep – Science, Wisdom and Gentle Solutions’ 

Related posts:

’12 Ways to Get Past No’ by Dr. Laura Markham – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

‘5 Keys to Setting Limits that Minimize Tantrums and Meltdowns’ by Amy Bryant – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

‘What I Believe He Will Believe’ by Abby Theuring, MSW – Friends of L.R.Knost Rock the Guest Posts while She Battles Cancer

My Cancer Story, Part 1: The Diagnosis

L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.


Toddler Fighting Sleep? 20 Peaceful Sleepy-Time Tips

[By L.R.Knost, author of Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages, Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood, and The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]

Sleeping toddlerToddlers are infinitely curious little dynamos that may seem like clones of the Energizer Bunny…they keep going and going and going and…well, you get the idea! Even little ones who were supposedly ‘good’ sleepers in infancy often seem to lose the ability and/or the desire to sleep once they reach toddlerhood. Add a baby sibling (or one on the way!) to the mix, and you can find yourself right back to that zombie-mama state you thought you’d left behind after those first few exhausting newborn months. So what’s a zombie-mama to do? Here are a few tips to try and recapture some precious zzz’s for both yourself and your little one(s) and to turn those dreaded bedtime battles into peaceful bedtime snuggles:

  1. Stop stressing. Sometimes we get so focused on the latest study or research that tells us that the average child needs ‘x’ amount of sleep for optimal brain development, or how many naps the average child needs, or what time the average child should go to bed or wake up that we forget we aren’t growing an ‘average’ child. We’re growing a unique individual who may need more sleep or less sleep, or may be an early bird or a night owl, or may naturally sleep in long stretches or may sleep in shorter spurts. There is a wide range of normal, so try to stop focusing on the latest research and start focusing on discovering the normal sleep rhythms and needs of your own perfect little person!
  2. Speaking of sleep rhythms, start keeping a log of your little one’s sleep patterns. You may be surprised to find that they are getting more sleep than you think they are! For two weeks, write down what time your child falls asleep for naps and bedtimes, what time your child gets up, what activities precede nap and bedtimes (play, tv, bathtimes, books, etc.), how long before falling asleep those activities take place, how long the bedtime routine takes each night, how long it takes your child to fall asleep, etc. Keep in mind, the more detailed you make the log, the more information you’ll have to work with in addressing any sleep issues you’re having.
  3. Once you have a good idea of where you are, you can decide where you want to go. If your sleep log reveals that your little one is getting enough sleep (which, believe it or not, is normally the case since children are typically quite adept at knowing what they need and following their body’s cues!), you can relax and go with their own unique flow. Sometimes, though, when you have other children or need your child’s sleep patterns to fit your work schedule better or if your little one has adopted some sleep habits that are making life a bit difficult, you might want to tweak your little one’s sleep rhythms to fit more easily into your lifestyle. If that is the case, remember that tiny changes make for an easier transition than big ones.
  4. If you do need to tweak you little one’s sleep patterns, start by making a list of priorities. Do you want them to go to sleep earlier? Do you want them to sleep for longer stretches? Do you want to shift their naps to a different time of day? Write down the changes you want to make in order of importance, then write a specific plan to work with your child’s rhythms and personality to try to implement those changes.
  5. If your little one is taking forever to fall asleep at night, look at your sleep log and see if there is anything that could be contributing to the problem. For instance, if they’re watching tv in the evenings it may seem like they’re settling down in preparation for going to bed, but in actuality all that stillness combined with the stimulation of the lights and sounds are building up a kinetic energy in their little body that’s likely to come out in a burst of activity just when you’re ready for them to go to sleep! Other things that may be contributing to bedtime battles are hunger, a too-short or too-stimulating bedtime routine, a too-late nap, over-tiredness, or even just not being tired that early in the evening.
  6. To eliminate hunger as a contributor to bedtime battles, and also to help your toddler sleep for longer stretches, try adding a late snack with sleep-inducing foods rich in tryptophan and calming magnesium such as almonds, sunflower seeds, milk, yogurt, bananas, apples and peanut butter.
  7. A consistent bedtime routine isn’t just about performing the same rituals in the same order every night. It’s far more about starting bedtime consistently at around the same time each evening. Look at the log you created to find clues as to whether you’ve got a night owl or an early bird on your hands, and take your little one’s natural rhythms into consideration along with your own needs (i.e. getting up early for work, needing time with your spouse, etc.) when establishing their routine.
  8. A slow nighttime routine is always better than a speedy one, and toddlers tend to respond better when they have some semblance of control over their lives, so slow down in the evenings and give your toddler some control over their bedtime by cutting out colorful pictures of each element of the routine and pasting them on magnets or ping-pong balls, then let your toddler arrange the magnets in the order they want to do bedtime or pick the ping-pong balls out of a jar for a fun element of surprise.
  9. If there’s a particular element of the bedtime routine that your toddler resists, such as tooth-brushing, move that element entirely out of the routine so your toddler doesn’t relate it with bedtime. Try some of these toddler tooth-brushing tips and brush your little one’s teeth at least half an hour before starting your bedtime routine.
  10. Too little outside time and not enough rough-and-tumble play is a big contributor to sleep issues, so make sure that your little one is getting a daily dose of sunshine along with plenty of free play time to run and climb and jump and explore. Don’t forget to join them with some tickles and giggles to get those delightful belly laughs going and to fill their little lungs with healthy doses of oxygen and their little hearts with healthy doses of love.
  11. Another thing your sleep log may reveal is that your toddler just isn’t tired at the time you are trying to get them to sleep. If your log shows a consistent, quiet bedtime routine that your toddler enjoys and participates in, but they still don’t fall asleep within 15 to 20 minutes of laying down, try shifting bedtime later in 15 minute increments to see if that helps.
  12. If naptime is a problem, first check your daily routine to see if it’s just too busy for your little one to have enough time to relax and go to sleep easily. Remember that, while we may be able to work with our little ones to help their sleep patterns to fit our lifestyles a bit better, we can’t expect these tiny people who are so new to the world and have so many needs that may conflict with our plans to be the ones to do all the compromising!
  13. To shift the timing of your toddler’s nap, first look at your log and see if it’s reasonable to expect them to go to sleep earlier or later based on their current bedtime and wake time. It may be that you need to gradually shift their bedtime and/or wake time before you begin to try to shift their naptime. Any changes you want to make should be done in no more than 15 minute increments, and you should wait a several days between each shift for your child time to adjust.
  14. If you are making adjustments to your child’s sleep routine and they start resisting, slow down. You may even need to take a step or two back and wait a bit before moving forward again. Remember, the objective is to work with your child’s natural sleep rhythms and personality. If they resist, they are communicating their needs to you, and, as the adult, it’s up to you to ‘read’ your little one’s behavior and respond to the needs they don’t know how to articulate any other way so that you can make sleeping a peaceful part of each day instead of a daily battleground.
  15. Don’t discount the value of darkness to lull little ones to sleep and white noise to block out ambient noises. Also, make sure to use dim reddish or orangish lights for nightlights. Blue lights have been shown to suppress the release of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin.
  16. If you have an infant whose sleep rhythms you’re juggling as well as a toddler with sleep issues, start by creating a log for each of them. Follow the same suggestions above for your toddler as needed while letting your spouse have some one-on-one time with your infant. If you don’t have help, try wearing your baby in a wrap while going through your nighttime routine with your toddler or putting your baby to sleep before your toddler’s bedtime, if possible.
  17. If you have issues with getting your infant to sleep because of your toddler’s noisy interruptions, try putting together a basket of quiet time toys that only comes out when it’s your baby’s bedtime to keep their novelty value for your toddler.
  18. Remember, often what parents interpret as a toddler (or an infant) fighting sleep is actually them fighting separation from their primary attachment figures. Nighttime can be a dark and scary time for a little person, and being forcibly separated from the people they count on all day to take care of their needs and comfort them when they’re afraid merely compounds the issue. Laying down with your little one and softly humming or telling a quiet story or simply being near can allay those fears and help them to drift off to sleep more quickly and peacefully.
  19. If you’ve been cosleeping and are ready to transition your toddler to their own space, try these gentle transitioning tips.
  20. Last, but certainly not least, keep in mind that these early days of childhood will pass quickly and your little one will mature in their sleep rhythms as surely as they will grow in stature and independence, and soon they won’t need the same time-intensive parenting they need now, though they’ll always need the same intense love, just in different ways.

Related posts:

25 Tips to Prepare Children for a New Sibling

Love in the Time of Cosleeping

Transitioning from Cosleeping: A Toddler’s Own Space

Babywearing Basics Resource Guide

The Terrible Trouble with Toothbrushing: A Toddler’s Perspective

The Thoughtful Parent’s Guide to Positive Parenting Guides

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

The Taming of the Tantrum: A Toddler’s Perspective

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

10 Ways to Play with your Children when Play is the Last Thing on your Mind

200 Ways to Bless Your Children with a Happy Childhood

L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.


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