Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Return to Normal

Timm's return home is great evidence that kids need a mom and a dad. When he gets home he can instantly have her in peals of laughter, the kind that I never hear during the day when it's just she and I. I don't have the energy (or the desire for that matter) to crawl around on the floor playing peek-a-boo, tickling, wrestling, giving rides and all the kinds of physical play Timm engages her in.
On Sunday morning he offered on his own accord to paint her finger and toenails. He paid exquisite attention to detail as he applied no less than a bottom coat, 2 coats of polish, and a top coat.
She loved it and was pretty patient, but despite his careful and many applications, most of her fingers were chipped off by the end of the day due to picking at them. She told several people at church that her daddy painted her nails and I think they got a kick out of that.
About 2 or 3 days before Timm got home she started to settle down again and resemble the good-natured girl I've always enjoyed. In trying to examine what I did differently that may have helped her calm down, I came up with just a few things. I tried to get her out more, but most importantly I think was my deliberate breaks of time devoted solely to her. I made sure that I took many breaks out of my day to ask what she wanted to do and then sat and did them with her with no distractions. It was usually coloring or reading, but sometimes pretend play, and I would engage her in 'helping' me bake. The important thing is, I think I made her feel important and loved and valued. I also made sure that there was not a lot of talk about the baby and tried to praise her excessively when she was sweet. I made a point to stop talking about tantrums or bad behavior where she could hear me and make special calls to tell daddy how good she was that day and how happy it made me when she talked nicely and did what mama asked. Taking the focus off of the bad behavior and placing it on the good as much as possible seemed to make a big difference. I am recording all this so I can remember how I got through this phase. It was a really difficult 2 weeks, but all seemed to settle down as abruptly as it appeared. Now she's totally back to normal in terms of behavior and I am treated to her typical good company and only occasional resistance and crying, which is usually quelled quickly. I know there will always be more tumultuous stages and phases ahead, but for now I am happy to settle back in with my little girl and tell myself 'I can do this' as the baby's arrival looms ever closer. So for next time, I will try to remember: 'It's only a phase, It's only a phase...'


Denise said...

I'm so glad that Timm is home and life is returning to normal for you! I love your insightful comments; they have inspired me to try the same tactics with Sarah, who--though almost ten--is in the middle of quite a long phase of horrid tantrums and fits when she is disappointed or doesn't get what she wants. I'm at my wit's end! I will try to focus on her good behavior more often and give her positive reinforcement.

I love the picture of Timm painting Bella's nails--too cute!

michelle said...

Great work, Jess. It can be so hard to focus on the positive and reward it with praise, but what a great strategy. I'm trying to work on that more with all of my kids.

Those pictures of Timm painting her nails are adorable.

Diana said...

You sounded so happy on the phone. I agree with you about remaining positive I know when I freak out it makes things oh so much worse than they need to be.
I hope things continue to stay normal for you guys.
Timm is so cute to paint her nails. I can only imagine Bella telling everyone.

Jill said...

Hooray for a return to normal! It sounds like everyone needed to regroup.

I think dads play different than moms do, so they definitely fill in the gaps for the kids.

charlotte said...

Yay for Timm being home! I love the picture of Timm painting Bella's nails--so cute.

charlotte said...

Ha, I just noticed the palm tree pajama pants of Timm's! Oh that was a funny day.

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