The all-powerful Amalah,

I wanted to follow up on the wonderful advice you and commenters gave to help us get through the surprising onset of severe emotions in reaction to daily challenges with our oldest son. Your advice, and one commenters in particular ended up magically flipping the switch (I realize with kids, there is almost never a “this solved the problem!” moment, but we were lucky enough to have one). You recommended a quiet area as a tent or fort, and emphasizing it’s not a punishment but rather a place to feel all the emotions, at daycare. A commenter, a longtime preschool teacher, also commented that for kids who have constantly been in that group setting with others (ours both have full time since 11 weeks old), at some point their subconscious just might need a break for some 1:1 time with an adult.

So we took all of that advice, meshed it together, and used it. Daycare did change their quiet area to be much more of a comfy, chill area that is not mobile as needed, but a designated space. My son even uses it in the morning sometimes when he’s cranky upon first arriving at school. Heck, I would totally use it if I had time in the mornings too! They weren’t able to accommodate a staffer getting him out of the classroom a couple of times a day because they were unexpectedly very short on staffing at that point in time, so my husband and I installed intentional 1:1 time at home multiple times/day, and upped our sometimes visits to school both in number and to take him out of the classroom on a walk with us for 10 minutes. I didn’t even realize this is something I should/could have been thinking about – we’re big on lots of family time, and we have 1:1 time with each of our kids occasionally with a mommy/son date night or daddy/son trip to Lowe’s, but I’ve not sought out special 1:1 time very often. I guess my oldest seemed to adjust to having a brother A-OK, so I figured it was all good! But two years into having a pretty needy younger brother, is two years of seeing that attention, especially from Mommy, zapped away consistently. So we have a reading time in the morning, just me and him. We also have designated time sometime in the evening where he gets 100% attention from only one parent, and his brother isn’t around to interrupt. Just 10 minutes of making paper airplanes, having a pillow fight, walking around the block, or making some LEGO or play-dough creations. I kid you not, we instituted this game plan on a Thursday evening, and the NEXT DAY he had the best day at school he’d had in six weeks. And he hasn’t had an incident report since! Still with the whining, frustration, or general grumpiness as circumstances change (let’s be honest, we all act like that without the excuse of being 4…), but no more of the throwing chairs, hitting, biting, unable to calm himself down.

In many ways, I felt awful for a bit, because why didn’t I, his own mother, who knows how much like me he is (I’m an introvert, but I’m just over the border from extrovert, so sometimes I forget that he’s similar) even think to say hey, let’s give him more attention in a very specific, uninterrupted way. A way that makes him feel refreshed, instead of depleting his energy. But then I remember that most parents, myself included, don’t know what the heck we’re doing half the time, and I felt slightly better :)

This is particularly good because my younger son will be two in one week, and has almost to the day at 23 months started having small tantrums, not listening, and generally acting like he’s in charge of his o’n self. Oh, and croup symptoms started cropping up in both of them this week. LIFE, I tell ya. Magnificent and terrifying.

So thank you. For listening, which is really what all of us seem to need. And for being in the trenches with us.


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