5 ways to overcome common toddler fears

Common Toddler Fears

I recently did a straw poll of over 50 mums and dads with toddlers to identify a list of common toddler fears; the following were identified as common:

Hand driers

Dogs

Mannequins or people in fancy dress

Bugs and creepy crawlies

Public toilets

Lawnmower

Vacuum cleaner or hoover

common toddler fears

Not so common toddler fears

As this was an unscientific poll it did throw up some really interesting fears, some very specific and as a precursor to saying that we shouldn’t belittle our little one’s fears later in this article there are some that were too funny not to mention.  These included:

“My daughter 2 year old is scared of the toilet because it has eyes on the inside of the lid…And she is scared of mannequins, especially the ones that don’t have any facial features… in a nutshell- if it has a face she probably won’t like it and if it doesn’t have a face she’s not happy either..”

“Fat men he doesn’t know. Not even joking. It’s embarrassing when he starts getting upset and hiding because of the big fat man”

“Oh and the wheat bag thing you stick in the microwave. He’s 2″

“The wobbly shed! PS it doesn’t wobble”

“Big mega poos until they come out”

5 ways to overcome common toddler fears

We had a spell recently where Joss started asking ‘what’s that noise’ and asking to be carried or hugged if we heard a hoover, lawnmower, loud roadworks, car alarm etc.

More concerning for us as parents though was a really tough time where she was scared of M.O.N.S.T.E.R.S (yep monsters, we had to spell it out to avoid using the word for a good month and a half).

From the scary – “there’s a monster in my bed Mammy, it’s purple and I don’t like it” –  to the ridiculous – hearing “what’s that coming over the hill, is it a monster, is it a monster” by The Automatic in a charity shop and Joss needing to leave the store NOW to get away from it! – it wasn’t an easy time as it really disrupted her sleep and disturbed her.

The problem was, Joss was unable to say what a monster was or where she’d heard the word or got the idea to be scared so it was hard for us to tackle.  Here’s what we found worked after some research, these form our 5 ways to overcome common toddler fears

1) Recognise the fear

Don’t belittle their fear, it’s very real for them however imagined or surreal it might seem to us big people.  We acknowledged that Joss was scared of monsters and talked about them in a way she could understand, I said that I could understand how it felt to be afraid – “it’s hard when something is scary, I understand you don’t want to go into the living room, let’s hold hands and go in together”

2) Talk about the fear truthfully, use books or other tools

Rather than saying that there’s no reason to be afraid or that monsters are not real we talked about them instead.  She had some books about monsters, we talked about how they looked silly, what colours they were, that they made us laugh.  She still had this dialogue of ‘monsters are scary’ but that slowly started to be replaced by ‘monsters are silly…’  We had some tough decisions about whether to start with monster spray or clear the room rituals that Id read about, I am glad we avoided these as I think they may have sustained or reinforced the fears instead, I think it helped more to be consistent and offer lots of repetition and praise.  For slightly older children asking them to draw a monster or another fear might be a useful tool

3) Use lots of praise

I praised Joss’ efforts to overcome her fears, we had a spell where she insisted there was a scary monster under her chair, I encouraged her to point to the scary monster and say you’re not scary, you’re silly, and when she did I used lots of praise and encouragement, when she started to get scared of loud noises we did the same.

4) Use humour but don’t laugh about it if they’re upset

Children can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s imaginary so don’t laugh at them when they’re afraid, help them talk their way through the fear with you instead.

5) Make nighttime less scary

At the height of our time exploring monster fears Joss started to show signs of becoming afraid during bedtime, we did a lot of work to reassure her that Mammy and Daddy are here for her and we kept the hall light on for a few evenings.  Over time her fears started to subside.  Then we noticed that at times of change, my working away for a few days or her grandparents going on holiday and not seeing them for a little while seemed to unsettle her and bring back the fears again.  With lots of praise and reassurance we have been helping her to understand change and prepare her for change by talking to her about where she is going for the day, what we are doing and building a strong sense of attachment.

As her fears decrease she has become bolder, sometimes shouting monster, run! She has also started to draw monsters and give them names so we’re moving away from something she’s too scared to speak about to her being able to be much more vocal about the fear and work it out for herself.

Do your little ones have any fears?  How do you help them through?

Mums' Days

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Christmas Gift Guide: Slow Toys from Babi Pur and Discount Code

Given this blog’s focus on eco-parenting I was delighted to strike up a relationship with Babi Pur who bring together the best ethical and organic brands under one roof, with second to none customer service. Babi Pur have always been our go-to website for cloth nappies offering choice at a great price, and brilliantly speedy delivery.

Babi Pur are stockists of HAPE Toys, a great toy company offering high quality environmentally friendly wooden toys. I would call these toys ‘slow toys’ giving the freedom for creative play without the ubiquitous plastic!

For our first Babi Pur Boaster testing assignment they kindly sent us the HAPE Toys Musical Band Set complete with xylophone, drum, cymbal, guiro and clacker. This makes its way onto our Christmas Gift Guide because it offers great opportunities for independent play, development, and music making, which Joss absolutely loves! Photos are very much shot ‘in action’ for this post as musical toys are played with really vigorously in this house!

stck

I love the idea of having a single board hosting a range of instruments, and this is really tactile and toddler friendly. Joss picked up the drumsticks straight away and bashed out a merry tune on the xylophone!

This photo captures the moment she discovered the cymbal, what fun!

Cymbal

The xylophone is really lovely and has a brilliant sound quality to it and the colours and quality of the materials really shine through.

xylo

The clacker is currently being used as a ‘hairbrush’ demonstrating the depth of creativity that slow toys bring, and she doesn’t quite get what the guiro is about yet, so there’s plenty to explore and discover as she grows. I like that there is space built in to store the accessories as it’s really hard to keep toys together when you have an inquisitive toddler.

With an rrp of £34.99 these are toys to keep and treasure, which is what the slow toy movement is all about, the quality of the product is really high.

In our role as the first Babi Pur Boaster we have a special code for our lovely blog readers, if you have not ordered with Babi Pur in the past you can claim 15% off your first order with the code NELLY – this works on all non-sale items for the first order only.

Disclaimer: I received this HAPE toy for review purposes, all views are my own

Psychologies Magazine Review

I was delighted to have been sent a copy of Psychologies as a regular reader and blogger interested in the new design. I am a Sociology student with an interest in the psyche and this is a mag I’ve always liked to dip into, great ideas, brilliant interviews and they always have some good suggestions for reading appropriate to how we might be feeling at different times in our lives.

I settled down with a cuppa over a couple of evenings and still have plenty left to go back and mull over!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I really liked the new features; sometimes when a loved magazine has a refresh it loses focus but not so with Psychologies.  The focus this month is on making small changes that stick, for a happier or more fulfilled life.  When I was having a rough patch last year I took a course of CBT and learned two key things:

1) That in order to change something we sometimes have to expose ourselves to uncomfortable situations, even just in short bursts

2) It takes time for a change to become a new way of life.

The new mag recognises both of these things, there are some brilliant short experiments to try, which give the opportunity for such exposure, and my favourite piece from the December edition, on making a change for life was full of great advice, did you know it takes an average of 66 days to make a new habit a way of living?  Of course this means there will be ups and downs on the way, days when we feel we’ve ‘failed’ at the change or it’s not happening quickly enough, this edition responded to these concerns thoroughly and with the supportive tone that I’ve come to expect from Psychologies.

 

There are still the old favourite features, for example I always like to see a spot of beauty, health and homemaking amongst the learning and development features, and some familiar faces, like Sally Brampton, who writes with wit and an eye for spotting gems in the everyday mundane.

I love the new look and I think a subscription is likely to appear on my list for Santa!

Psychologies are offering a trial ‘3 issues for £3’ of the magazine which is available until the end of December, you can find out more here

 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the Magazine for review, all views are my own, the terms and conditions of the offer presented are available on the Psychologies web page and are not affiliated with thereandbackagainamotherstale.com

Children’s Centre Funding Proposals

This week at work I was engaged in responding to Budget Proposals around Adult Social Care.  In doing some research and reading I came across a campaign urging me to respond to proposals around our local children’s centres.  I have blogged about their importance before here.

The local campaign page can be found here:

The Facts

  • The proposed budget cuts may result in a 56% reduction in Gateshead Sure Start centre funding.
  • If these cuts go ahead some of Gateshead Sure Start centres may be closed.
  • It is not known yet what the criteria will be for closing centres; it may be down to areas of higher disadvantage or it may be down to current centre usage.
  • Sure Start staff members may face disciplinary action if they help with this campaign.

You however, can help!

I was doing some further reading around policy and development this week for a secondment I applied for recently, more on that later, but I came across a great read arguing for longer term thinking about children’s services, you can read more here

This was my response on Facebook:

As their parents face cuts in other areas of their lives, job losses, reduced family budgets and increasing prices the idea of cutting their children’s opportunities to access play and learning facilities that support their development, whilst often supporting parents’ mental health and opportunities to engage with other parents is not a sustainable long term solution. Children’s Centres should be seen as a long term community asset, and other options for their future explored. As a new parent last year I was offered no antenatal classes, there were no support services for new parents, and I had three health visitors in six months. The Children’s Centre baby massage class was where I learned to parent, the sensory rooms provided free opportunities to talk to other new parents and the brilliant parent outreach workers provided a friendly welcome and sympathetic ear. I fear for new parents who couldn’t access these opportunities, there is very little available for under fives outside of them.

Please do respond to similar consultations in your own local authority areas and get involved in the debate about funding our children’s futures, its vital we speak up now before it’s too late.

What’s the Story?

What's the Story?

Last week Northern Mum shared a post about her daughter’s hip dysplasia here http://www.northernmum.com/2013/09/hip-dysplasia-why-we-should-burn-forward-facing-baby-carriers/ and talked about forward facing children’s carriers where little one is not knee to knee. I read some of the comments with interest, particularly those about little one’s not being able to see properly when facing in, and I wanted to share another option. My what’s the story features a soft structured carrier or ‘buckles’ carrier that allows for a baby on the back positioning, knee to knee, as you can see Jossy has a great view and the carrier suits from birth to toddler and beyond, and we’re both really comfy as you can see, two miles into a three mile walk with a 21lb 16 month old!

I don’t want to weigh in on the debate about carriers, but I do think people should do their own research, so I would recommend the TICKS carrying card http://slumber-roo.co.uk/downloads/TICKS.pdf and hip dysplasia resources http://www.hipdysplasia.org/developmental-dysplasia-of-the-hip/prevention/baby-carriers-seats-and-other-equipment/

Cuddly girl

A short small steps amazing achievements linky post this week as I’m trying to keep up with my uni work, but will try to visit as many as possible fellow linkers!  Joss has recently started to show affection for her toys and now gives them a cuddle saying ahhhhh and patting them on the back!  This is a lovely sociable development step and has extended into cuddles with ahhhhh for daddy and I too!

Here she is with cuddles for Tramp and Little Ted :-)

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First words

I’m so pleased to have a place to record Joss’ development and funny little ways!  We have had some really good first words in the last week or two, and a tooth at 14m at last!

Here’s a sample conversation with Jossy!

Mammy: What does a doggy do?

Jossy: Wuff!

Mammy: That’s right, wuff, what about a snake?

Jossy: sssssssss! (this kills me!)

Mammy:  Shall we blow some bubbles?

Jossy: Bubbas

She also says tikotiko which are tickles and says this when stroking cats and dogs (she’s totally animal mad but we live next to an urban farm so no surprise there then!) and duckaduckaducka which started off as a noise she liked along with doardoardoar but if I ask her to bring the duck she now says duck and brings it over!

 Here she is chatting to the animals on TV!

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PND and Mother’s guilt? When does it get too much?

“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” – Benjamin Spock

(This post is written purely from my own experience, it is about mental health, it makes no claims to advise, only to encourage parents who may be experiencing PND)

When I had Joss I quickly developed an early onset anxiety.  In the early days I worried I wasn’t going to be a good mama, when she was six months old it got too much to bear.  These six statements are intended to encourage and support mamas experiencing similar feelings and issues.  In my case this was probably more postnatal anxiety than postnatal depression, but I hope that talking about my experiences might help other mamas, without the labels as I’m no expert!

Number one:  You know more than you think you know
This has become a bit of a mantra when I meet new mums at baby groups and the likes.  I remember Joss being about five days old and I couldn’t rest, couldn’t sleep, I was frantic, reading books about breastfeeding, routines, anti-routines, turning night into day and day into night, child development, I felt overwhelmed!  Things came to a head when my husband hid a copy of Gina Ford under the bookcase and a copy of Your Baby, the First Year in the shoe cupboard.  How could I be the best for her?  Was I meeting her needs?  What more did she need? What about her development? Her weight?  Oh my, her weight, was she putting it on, was she swallowing milk, how could I keep her awake to feed, questions, questions, questions.  It was that classic anxiety, that old what if? that has followed me through most of my life.  It was back, last seen at uni, 2005, back in 2012 with a vengeance.  Looking back I knew more than I gave myself credit for, she is my daughter, she just sort of fits with me, I got to know her whims, wants and needs quickly and all seems to be well, so have faith mama, you know more than you think you know.
spiral
Number two: You’re doing the best you can
Try to let bad days be just that, a bad day, don’t fret and let it turn into a bad week, a bad month, this too shall pass and you are doing the very best you can.

Number three: If you’re worried it’s a good thing, it shows you care
When I was really really anxious, I remember it well, it was about weaning and whether Joss was eating enough and whether I was feeding her a good enough balance, at that time I was really worried that I was worrying too much.  Someone said to me, what would happen if you didn’t worry about your little girl?  It taught me that worry is on a continuum, too much and we tip over, too little and we don’t do enough, so a little worry is healthy, don’t beat yourself up if you’re an anxious sort, we’re ok, there are a lot of us out there!

Lesson four:  You know they will do it in their own time
Someone asked me recently whether Joss is walking, she isn’t.  You know at baby groups, there’s always someone who wants to know what all the babies are doing, usually because their child is ahead?  That used to get to me, not anymore, I look at that smiling face and think to myself, if I can make you smile every day and you make me smile too then the rest will follow, and it will!

Number five: If mama aint happy aint nobody happy
We had this on a babygro, I liked it, when I read it and realised it meant I needed to slow down and have some time for me it sort of became a mantra.  Don’t burn yourself out, I sometimes (ok often) worry that I shouldn’t be away from Joss, mamas at baby group would gloat about never having been away from their little ones.  If you want to stay with your baby that’s cool, if you want and need a break then ask for one, and don’t feel guilty, a little time may just refresh you, this is especially important for me now Joss is teething – on those days when you can do no right you sometimes just need five minutes peace and quiet just to catch your breath and head back into the fray with a smile.

Number six: It might help to do some sense checking
This won’t work for everyone, I used to do my sense checking via Google, see something I didn’t like and spiral away into anxiety.  I learned through CBT to do it in my own head, so when I was anxious that Joss wasn’t eating well and skipping meals I looked to how energetic she was, windmilling away and rolling, I learned that babies can regulate their own appetites quite well thank you very much, and let her take the lead, it helped to work through my worries logically sometimes.

If you’re interested in CBT you could speak to your GP, many areas have self-referral into CBT now too.  There are also lots of mental health and post partum networks online, just search #ppd or #pnd on twitter and a lot comes up.