My baby Samuel is turning 3 next month! (Tears of joy!!!)
I cannot believe that I have done not too bad the last 3 years for him. (Self-praise :))))
As a firstborn of the family, he was a test subject for my many FIRSTS. This is something that many parents will identify. We make the most mistakes because we hardly know anything as first time parents.
One of my greatest mistakes was Samuel's sleeping habits.
When Samuel was an infant, he was difficult to put to sleep. He also vomited and 'merlioned' a lot of milk. There were incidences when his puked will spray out from his nose because he literally puked so much milk.
In my efforts of helping him get better, I did bring him to the TCM and for a season did 'Tuina'.
But sadly, I did not read enough and was not equipped with enough knowledge to understand 'Colic'. And little did I know, Samuel actually had 'Colic'. And hence, I did not help improve his situation through practical ways.
We all know, Colic babies are hard to put to sleep. They have excess gas in their stomachs, giving them a lot of discomfort. Sleep is a problem for Colicky babies. And sleep was definitely a terrible feat for Samuel.
At the same time, my husband was adamant after the many advices of parents that our child must never co-sleep with us. (He is scared he will lose his bed)
Because of that, my husband was against the idea of having Samuel co-sleep with us. Hence, till today, Samuel sleeps on his own.
Samuel's sleep problems was as bad as taking 2hours plus to sleep. And he wakes every 2hours for milk. In worst days, he can wake every hourly. There was a phase, he will wake at 2am and have difficulty falling back asleep for 3 hours. The frustration for us was real..
We had to rock him to sleep prolly till he was about 1 plus.
And the persistent rocking habit all started because we could not figure a way why he couldn't sleep well, hence we resorted to rocking him to sleep. And soon it became a vicious habit that Samuel has.
And this reliance having us to rock him, also caused him to have a lot of dependance wanting us to be around him when he sleeps.
By nature, Samuel was already a psycho for fun. He loves playing so much, he could forget about eating or sleeping.
The last 3 years, we have always been trying to tackle his sleep problems and we celebrate his little milestones like, sleeping through the night; - which he only did when his little bro came along (miracle...he slept through the night, the first night Levi was home). Yet it was not fully consistent. (Now better la...)
We celebrate that he is willing to allow us to leave the room before he falls asleep. Because for 2 years plus, my husband and I were the creepy crawlies. Trying to creep out quietly after he sleeps so that he never discovers.
Recently, Samuel refused to allow my hubby to leave him. After saying 3 stories, praying and all the chit chat, he will only allow me to leave. (He allows me to leave because he knows I will be so pissed if he keeps asking me to stay).
In my efforts of helping him to understand that we are always hungry and tired after 1hour plus long stretchy bedtime routine with him, we still had to negotiate our way around the situation by explaining that we do need to rest, eat dinner and do chores and promising to return. Or stay another 5 mins.
We tried to help him understand that when it is bedtime, he do need to be faithful to close his eyes to sleep. In order to help him transit, we will promise him that we will come up and check with him after awhile.
During this period, I will make it a point at some days to go up when he is still awake. Because I want him to know that we are keepers of our promise. Just tonight, as usual, because I promised him I would be back up for him (He sleep upstairs), I went back to him, had a 5 min conversation with him about why it is important for papa and mama to chit chat, I sang a song to him and he slept.
Watching at how he has grown, feeling secure once again, that when he feels tired, he will actually say good night to me himself; watching him sleep peacefully was great achievement for me... And it dawned unto me that the security of children lies in the level of trust they have with the caregivers at home.
In my 3years as a mom, I will tell you that I have really never broken my promise to my children.
Hardly hardly. If I ever did, maybe once.
It is important for our children to FEEL, TO SEE, TO HEAR, THAT WE REALLY CARE. That they know that whatever matters to them, matters to us.
If a parent often makes promises that he don't keep, soon enough; the child will have no trust. And temper tantrums sometimes stems from the fact that the child knows that his needs are not deemed important to the parent.
You got to INCLINE TO LISTEN. Parents ought to practise good listening skills. It is good to practice respectful communication when your children are young. If else, when they are in pre-teens, you will have a lot of problems.
I often see my husband failing to hear Samuel talking to him. It is really because he wasn't incline to want to hear. (stoning la...) It is a deliberate decision to want to make sure we hear our children and we are patient to listen to them. Because based on my experience, 2 year olds are really very lengthy in their words.
I hardly say no to my children. If I really say No, then it is No. And No comes with a reason. Even if I feel some of his requests aren't timely, I always reply ... "sure.. we will do it after when when when."
It is a technique but it is also the heart of having empathy. Young kids have no sense of time, space; the things they requests or demands are usually untimely and sometimes inappropriate. And if you only know how to reply 'No', then your child will only be more demanding because they somehow know it is always 'No'. (Imagine someone always saying No to you)
Trust is built over time and our children will slowly realised that they can feel safe because they can trust in the adults that their needs or wants are being considered. That their requests aren't being brushed aside as unimportant.
In showing empathy to my son, rather than being harsh to him, we negotiate a method with him for him to be more comfortable to allow us to leave his room. I returned as promised and build the trust. I stay on longer than I say I would sometimes, to let him know that we are not rigid and if we can, we will always want to be around to stay close to him.
Seeing him also learning to be brave to say good night to us, masking his tinsy bit of unwillingness that we are leaving his room it in his loud voice, makes me want to stay with him so much but yet knowing it will not help him grow.
The pain of growing; many times is really just learning to trust one another. The relationships. And also to trust ourselves that we can grow to be more.
Trust is an important commodity. Build it and don't lose it.