Monday, June 20, 2011


My sweet, almost 4 year old, Ivy!

As summer has kicked off, I have noticed some struggle areas in Ivy's life. Just as I posted about our almost 3 year old behavior last June we are now almost 4.... and have new things to be working on! People talk about the terrible 2's, the trying 3's, and the freakin' (that is the nice word) 4's- and I would say every age has it's ups and downs and as parents we are constantly figuring out what is going to work with our child.

At 2- we worked on setting limits, giving warnings, praising, and the beginning of time out.

At 3- we have continued being very consistent, created SEVERAL positive behavior charts with specific goals, and have pin-pointed our "non-negotiables."

Now at almost 4- we feel it is important to teach Ivy some coping skills.

Gone are the days of simply scolding Ivy for her ugly behavior again and again. This has stopped working- in fact, I believe it may even fuel her fire. Now we are on to identifying (or trying to!) the cause or feeling behind it and then teaching Ivy how to cope with those feelings. As an adult- I get angry, mad, sad, tired, jealous, annoyed, etc. but you won't catch me stomping, screaming, and sobbing like the Rite Aid cameras, Nana and Pops, and innocent Tula caught Ivy doing this weekend! All separate occasions.... of course!

So here are some of the strategies that we are beginning to teach and really practice in our house- we are doing a lot of reminding and modeling and are already seeing Ivy do some of these things independently!

When you are feeling sad....
It is not always acceptable to cry (loudly) or whine incessantly so let's talk about it instead because often times someone else can help you. I want Ivy to say, "Mommy, I feel sad because I want to play longer." If I hear her say she feels sad, I don't want to argue or scold her but rather I am going to try to stop and take time to love on her and explain the why. I hope that this extra GOOD attention will ward off any tantrums and we will move on much quicker.

This morning I heard Ivy use this- "Mommy, I feel sad because I can't find my special markers and you are busy feeding Tula." I was so proud that she didn't begin stomping and screaming so I said, "Ivy, why don't you bring your coloring book to the table and sit with me until I am done?" Worked like a charm, she helped feed Tula some bites and waited for me to help her look for the markers when I was finished.... Go, Ivy!

When you are feeling mad....
It is NOT okay to stomp, scream, and kick like Ivy is known to do. Instead walk away... and let it be your choice. I told Ivy that sometimes Mommy walks away when I feel mad because if I stay around I might say something that is hurtful. I gave her examples of when I CHOOSE to walk away and told her that at home, at Nana's, and even at the pool or park she can always CHOOSE to walk safely away (over to our chairs at the pool or to a bench at the park). When you walk away it gives you time to calm down before you talk about it. And it keeps you out of trouble when you can use nice words or nice behaviors EVEN when you are mad.

Before Ivy used the "I feel sad when I can't find my markers...." she used this technique. She had looked in the basket and two drawers and she was getting mad that she couldn't find them. She put the coloring book down and chose to go to her room. I didn't follow her or interrupt but in less than a minute she was able to collect her thoughts and come and communicate that she was sad because I was busy when she needed my help. Go, Ivy!

When you are feeling angry....
It is not okay to hurt someone else. But I am teaching her to take deep breaths and count to 10! It has been fun to model this with her today. :) Right now I think that she thinks this is silly but I hope in time I will see her use this. I have modeled that in just a few breaths and counting to 1o I get GOOD energy to push through what ever is making me angry.... finding a shirt that fits just right or having to pick up 100 cheerios off the floor! I see her little eyes watching and taking it all in and I hope that she thinks about coping with her anger like this next time.

We are starting small with just a few skills but hope that it makes her feel in control- which is what she wants more than anything! I know that some rough spots are just part of growing up but I hope to provide her with some tools that can last a lifetime. And for the mean time if Ivy can cope with her feelings it may provide some peace in our home. :)

What coping skills do you think are important for little ones to learn?


  1. What a great post! And it sounds like Ivy is really responding well. As I just commented on Brooke's post about the same type of issues, we're having a big problem with the crying and whining. It's always Bailey's first response to anything, and it drives me crazy! We've tried telling her she just needs to tell us what it is that she needs or is wrong and we will help her, that crying doesn't solve anything. We've seen a little improvement and hopefully it will continue getting better. Again, great post with great ideas! Good luck with Miss Ivy!

  2. Um, could you come to my house and enforce these EXACT same lessons with Colin? I'm not the world's best at expressing my own feelings, so that is probably where the disconnect is. I'm seriously going to print out your list and read it until it soaks in and I'm able to use it in our house. Colin suffers in the much of the same ways as you mentioned and I've been trying to get to the root of them but he has a tendency to just agree with whatever I ask. If I ask if he's mad, he says yes. If I ask if he's sad, he says yes. Maybe I need to verbalize more so he can see the example.

    By the way, my mouth dropped when you described the words and actions Ivy used today with the markers! It is possible!!

  3. This is AWESOME. Seriously. I remember when you posted before about a chart you were making for Ivy & I thought that was amazing, too. I feel like one day we're going to have to have a sit-down talk about discipline with Isis. I love the fact that you're really purposeful about it. That's exactly how I want to be with Isis!

  4. You and Greg are wonderful parents--love you!

  5. You are such a good Momma!!! Geez! You've GOT to help me parent - advice will always be welcomed!

  6. You seem like such a great momma! I want to copy all your things for my Harper!

  7. You are teaching me.........hehehehehe.

    I think these are EXCELLENT and a very tangible to learn and cope with normal emotions. I often feel like I didn't learn many of these same coping skills until I was a young adult, so it is awesome that you are teaching her this now.

  8. I am impressed!!! Although I have to say even at 27 I sometimes wish I could have a meltdown in a Rite Aid:)


Thanks for your encouragement as I travel through this season of life called mommyhood!