I'm literally writing this email to you from a motel in Northern Tasmania, Devonport, to be exact.
If you caught our Instagram stories you would have seen I've taken a road trip up North with Eva for her 5th birthday present - a new kitten. Her name is Olive (Ollie for short, because that's exactly what we do here in Australia! Shorten all names..Ha!)
It's been really nice to spend some quality one on one time with Eva on the drive and stay-cation. It's a 3.5 hour drive each way, so we've had time to chat, sing and just be in the moment. And boy did we need it.
Remember the other week I said, "After going on a holiday, children typically go through a development leap..." Well just like clockwork, it's happening. We took an our overseas holidays a few weeks back, add in another rotation around the Sun and here we are - the tell-tale signs of a developmental leap. Taking more risks than she normally would, whether it be physical (jumping from new heights in the playground or off furniture at home), sensory (trying new food, that I could never convince her otherwise - P.S. she ate a whole bowl of Linguine Marina with scallops, prawns, fish and mussels last night - I almost fell off my chair!) or intellectually (asking new a profound questions like, "Why do clouds float?").
She's also daring to do more things that I would otherwise so 'no' to. I see her taking those extra steps to cross the road without holding my hand. Not 'listening' to me when I say, 'it's time to pack up now'. Things that are constantly testing her and my boundaries. Classic developmental leap behaviours. And I'm going to be really honest here...it is taking everything in my being to not get cross or lose my patience. I continue to repeat to myself that this is her growing, not intentionally being 'bad' as some may frame it.
Eva and I have a very good relationship. We chat a lot. We discuss our feelings. We (try) to talk about when either one of us is having big emotions and what we need in that moment, whether it be space or a hug. But it wasn't always like this.
I remember when she was two and she had her first really big emotional outburst after childcare one night. She was howling, tears pouring down her face and began hitting the wall with her fist. I was parenting solo and remember thinking, 'Oh my goodness, did something horrible happen to her today at childcare? Why is my baby reacting like this?'
I was helpless in that moment. I could not calm her, every time I tried to move closer to her it would set her off again. All I could do was sit and watch and wait with tears rolling down my cheeks. I had to be the calm in the storm.
That night really frightened me, I felt unequipped with how to comfort her. I felt uneducated as to 'why' this was happening and although my motherly instinct was, 'how do I stop this from happening again?' I knew all to well it was just the beginning of self-discovery for her and I was going to have to work out a way to help her through it, not fight against it.
So my science-brain went into overdrive and I researched all about it. These two resources were the best that I had found. What I loved most about them is that they were evidenced-based and also provided an understanding of the child's psychology and brain as they got older.
They provided me with a road-map, a resource that I could keep coming back to month after month, year after year of how to best support Eva through her mental development. Here they are:
My Two Favourite Resources for Developmental Leaps
The book is described as "12 revolutionary strategies to nurture your child's developing mind, survive everyday parenting struggles, and help your family thrive. Daniel J. Siegel, neuropsychiatrist and author of the bestselling Mindsight, and parenting expert Tina Payne Bryson demystify the meltdowns and aggravation, explaining the new science of how a child's brain is wired and how it matures. The 'upstairs brain', which makes decisions and balances emotions, is under construction until the mid-20s. And especially in young children, the right brain and its emotions tend to rule over the logic of the left brain"
Why I LOVE It: Apart from deep diving into the biology and psychology of the child's brain Dan and Tina provide practical tips and scenarios with suggestive actions for parents to follow. There is even a grid format at the end of the book which matches scenarios and age groups to you can formulate the best action based on their age.
Steve is a family therapist who lives in Australia and has the most wonderful books dedicated to raising well-rounded children, both boys and girls. He has been known to team up with Maggie Dent, who is renowned for her work on raising boys if you want to check that out as well.
This particular book again has age appropriate chapter and is always within arms reach. If I'm having a tough time helping Eva work through her emotions or something crops up that I'm just not sure with how to deal with, I typically start flicking through the pages of this book as well as Dan's above.
So there you have it, my two favourite resources for getting unstuck in parenthood. When big emotions start bubbling in our house, I call on Dan, Tina and Steve for some advice. (My other go-to, is my Village. Talking with other parents, particularly those with older kids who've already walked this path about strategies and support).
Hope these books help you too!
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