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Posted by Megan | Posted in Megan Savage | Posted on August-24-2014

Kids Birthday’s are Mom’s Birthday’s Too

Ever since I have had kids their birthdays are extremely sentimental and important to me. I remember before having kids I would thank my mom for having me. Now I literally want to celebrate her instead of myself. So much energy goes into the celebrations either big or small. Hours are spent scouring Pinterest.

I love how universal motherhood is. The first year struggles are similar anywhere you go in the world. We feel the same, experience the same but in different languages and environments. I loved having the thought when I was up nursing for the umpteenth time in the middle
of the night that there are other mothers all around the world doing the same thing. I recently watched a video on Facebook where dad’s got to express how they feel about their partners after the first year of their child’s life. Wow is it a tear jerker. It was beautifully done. We all have the same concerns and worries and celebrations we take to our well checks. We all have the same struggles and triumphs throughout parenthood. It really is the hardest job on this planet.

More On Making Feelings OK

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Posted by David Maddalena | Posted in Anghelika and David Maddalena | Posted on August-19-2014

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Last week we wrote about the important role that adults play in helping children to be OK with feelings. We have a few more things to say about this, befitting the huge impact emotions have on our lives. 7655456286_073299fa81_z It feels like a fools errand to talk about a subject so complex as emotions in a short blog post. The impact of emotions on our experience of life is huge. The great majority of psychological disorders that can be diagnosed today have at their root problems with emotional regulation. But everyone has emotions and you don’t have to have a disorder to be affected. And what are we talking about anyways? Emotions and their effect might be connected to the experience of a family escaping a war zone (who feel anxiety, vulnerability, dread, fear …), or celebrating a wedding (… joy, happiness, delight, hope) or saying goodbye to a beloved grandparent (… sorrow, grief, loneliness).

We can’t make simple assumptions about what emotions run hot in your home, but we can say, simply, that big emotions have big effects: those who study stress tell us that we are equally stressed by weddings and divorces. And as we said last week, children can be pretty taxed by even simple emotions, though we can expect that situations that make us emotional can have a greater effect on them. Hopefully the balance of situations a child faces will be positive! Even then, don’t think positive emotions only add up to peace and serenity.

We remember the day that our daughter first laughed. She was so young that she was barely able to role over on the bed. We tickled her with a blue and white plaid stuffed bear from France (that we called Trés Bear). She began to giggle uncontrollably, and we laughed along with her. It was perfectly cute … until she started crying. It had become too stressful on her little body, and she didn’t know if this new feeling would ever end! She got tired and, we guess, afraid. So we stopped, of course, and tried to meet her in this new emotion, offering some comfort. We said last week that adults play a great role in helping children come to accept and understand that their emotions are a part of their life.

But what to do if an adult can’t regulate their own emotions? What if we had no one to meet us and to help us with our emotions when we were young? If we never learned to be comfortable in our own emotional skins, then the raw and unbridled emotions of our little ones are likely to be a bit of a threat to us. But anybody reading this would agree that we want better for our kids than we got, and that we don’t want to pass on the wrong kinds of lessons. What’s an adult with emotional troubles to do?

Emotional regulation is a great problem for adults who did not feel safe being emotional when young. It is hard to replicate the great classroom of a loving family, but if we grew into adulthood without that advantage, we are not doomed to constant troubled feelings. The truth is that we need the same help that our young ones need, only we might be our own first line of defense. Can we acknowledge that we feel, sometimes quite strongly? Can we tell ourselves that emotions are OK? One of the things that we offer a child is to name the emotion they feel, and we also name the cause of it; “you were scared by that big dog!” But we adults are a bit more complicated: our emotions are somewhat more loaded because we have longer histories of emotional trauma, memories that get stirred up when we face stressful situations today. This means that we may find it hard to understand why we feel huge emotions in a situation … are the emotions linked exclusively to the present moment? If so, we can reassure ourselves that our feelings match the situation. If our fear is greater than the current situation warrants, we may not understand why.

For the adult with big emotions, who struggles to understand their feelings, or who is not comfortable in their own emotional skin, it can be a great help to seek out someone to do for us what our parents might not have been able to. To help us name the things we feel, to help us understand the complex origins of our big emotions, to help us be OK with our feelings. By the time we reach adulthood, we don’t like to be treated like children. But, really, most of us could use a little loving care now and then. We may have a friend who can help us talk through our responses to the stressors in our lives. We may seek the help of professionals. The point we are trying to make is that it isn’t only children who need to understand that feelings are OK.

Image by Flickr user marvelousRoland

 

Making Feelings OK

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Posted by David Maddalena | Posted in Anghelika and David Maddalena | Posted on August-12-2014

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Adults who spend time with young children teach terribly important lessons about emotions. The “lesson” might be, “You’re feeling strong emotions and strong emotions are OK to feel!”, which is to say (in a child’s logic) that the child is OK, that they are healthy and respond appropriately to life. Or we might teach a child, “Your feelings are upsetting or unwelcome to me!”, which is to say (in a child’s logic) that the child is upsetting or unwelcome.

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Of course when we talk about feelings, we are not talking about something essential about a child’s nature, but about simple emotional reactions to a situation. Emotions are not under our control, are not individually part of what is essential to us (that is, just because we are ‘sad’ doesn’t mean we are a sad person, just that sad is what we are feeling in response to a situation). But, of course, a child does not know this: when a young child feels strong emotions it can be frightening, like something is wrong with them and maybe even with the universe, and an adult’s reaction helps the child understand how to accept and think about their own feelings. Adults who are comfortable with strong feelings, knowing that they come and go, are able to simply acknowledge their presence (“You’re very angry.”) without being threatened by them, which validates the child’s inner world, helping them understand that their feelings are not a cause for alarm.

However some adults are threatened by strong emotions. They may experience emotions as a judgement against them or as destabilizing (or, just exhausting), and reject or threaten a child’s feelings (“You’re not really sad!” or “You’d better calm down!”). There are times when every adult wishes a child could regulate their emotions, turning down the intensity. But the hard reality is that causing a child to feel that their emotional responses are not OK makes regulation so much more difficult. At any age, having our feelings acknowledged, which is to say validated, effectively makes the emotions themselves less powerful. But when a young child is given the impression that their emotions are wrong, that causes a whole other range of complicated emotions to arise: shame, fear, anxiety, etc.

When a child is having a tantrum, we might naturally think that if we “validate” all this emotion it will simply encourage it. However, to validate an emotion is to acknowledge a child’s predicament, which has the effect of reducing the fear, shame, and anxiety that comes along with strong feelings.

A common occurrence on a preschool playground: child A is riding a trike on the track, gets off to go get a toy that needs to be held or put on the passenger seat of the trike; child B sees trike is free and gets on; child A returns to continue the trike ride, sees child B on the trike and screams and grabs handles pushing child B off the bike. Yowza.

There can be a lot of emotion swirling by the time an adult steps in to help. Before there can be any kind of reasonable-ness, justice, or fairness, you have to deal with emotions. In fact, while most of us grown-ups will think that our main job is to enforce an environment of fairness or justice on the playground, often all we need to do is help children recognize the strong emotions at play. In a conflict, naming the feelings of both parties, and helping each to consider the other’s, not only makes it OK to feel, but empowers each child to come up with their own plan to help the other child feel better. Justice and fairness is a tough sell to any pre-schooler. But helping another child who is feeling bad? Easy (and priceless).

 

Image by Flickr user Mindaugas Danys

Experiencing Camp

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Posted by Megan | Posted in Megan Savage | Posted on August-10-2014

I have written previously about a camp that D will attend in the fall. This is a special needs camp that provides respite for the parents and an oasis of fun for the kids. Seriously a win win for everyone involved. I had wanted to get involved with this organization before I was catapulted into this community with my own kid. After I enrolled D my irrational side of the brain started to really question if this was the right decision and had so many questions as a mom what camp would be like, is he to young to send off.

I decided to volunteer at one of the two sessions this summer before the fall. I went and got fingerprinted and found daycare for my kiddos. I was in charge of assisting the YMCA with pool agility tests and then checking kids and their counselors in and out of the pool. I felt like I was starting a new job. I was nervous and did not know what to expect. I got a quick training and ate your typical camp style lunch with the kids and counselors and activity aides. I had met a few of the families on our tour of the camp that we had done a month or so prior. I knew some of their stories and struggles. It made me experience camp that much more having known who they were and what their family was planning on doing during their time away from all that comes with raising a special needs kiddo.

My first impression was…..wow! What a well oiled machine. They had it down. From their check lists and lists of when meds needed to be administered to who were picky eaters and ideas to sneak in nutrients. What I really loved is pretty much any adult at the camp knew all the kids names. It is such a simple thing to address someone by their name….yet goes a long way.

I have no question now about sending my kiddo there for two nights. But more importantly I am so touched by the amount of caring, compassion and love that goes on during this camp. Each and every counselor was so thoughtful with every next move with their camper( which they are with their camper every moment). The theme of the camp is whatever that child wants to do they do. So if kids want to float from activity to activity or if they want to spend the entire time in the pool. We had a few kids who spent the INTIRE afternoon in the pool which their counselor does as well. Boy were they water logged by 5:00.

My second day there I met a women that was caring for a boy with cerebral palsy and was in a wheel chair and needed to be carried into the pool. She told me how she has been his counselor for a few years and his parents were on a vacation with the other siblings. I can only imagine how much easier it was to fly without their kiddo. I could not help but weep as this kind counselor talked him through her every next move getting him prepared for the pool. She massaged his muscles as he hung out on the steps of the pool. I loved hearing the stories every family and or counselor had.

Everyone always says Disneyland is the happiest place on earth. After this experience I would beg to differ. A camp full of kids with different abilities and kind people who make an impact and make having fun a priority for these kiddos that struggle daily.

Shhh!

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Posted by David Maddalena | Posted in Anghelika and David Maddalena | Posted on August-5-2014

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We were visiting Dave’s parents this last weekend, and mooching their nice fat weekend newspaper. While Dave honed in on the comics page, Anghelika announced her find: a couple articles on what makes a great teacher. Before she got a chance to read them, Dave’s father asked her what she thought the secret was. The answer: “Engagement”. A great teacher is one that engages kids’ interest. We believe you can teach kids simple, mundane, even dull things in an interesting way. That’s the magic behind the best lessons. Indeed this was the essence of one of the articles, but it went on to highlight several key skills of a great teacher. (adapted from Building a Better Teacher by Elizabeth Green, out this month.)

We’re going to focus on one of the key skills – the one that caught us. (To read the whole article go to http://parade.condenast.com)

The rule: a great teacher should never say, “Shhh!”

According to the article, when a teacher says, “Shhh!” it could mean a number of things. It might mean “Don’t talk now”. Or, it might mean that the teacher simply wants the student to talk quieter.

But what does it do when a teacher says, “Shhh”?

According to the article, shushing is ambiguous. Is it meant to be instruction or a correction? Is it about setting a mood, or is it about one child’s interruption or misbehavior?. One thing is certain: it’s rarely clear what positive behavior a shushing adult is expecting. Imagine a child excitedly blurting out an answer only to be corrected for their disruption with nothing but a “Shhh!” Will that child be excited to try again? … be motivated to continue to participate? … be encouraged?

How can a teacher keep an excited student engaged?

Both parents and teachers in training learn that encouraging and guiding children towards positive behavior is more effective than highlighting bad behavior. So when a child has an enthusiastic, noisy eruption, what is an adult to do? Avoid the ambiguity of the “Shhh!”, and go for specific, positive, and direct. Encourage a child to share their enthusiasm in a way that helps you hear them. Think through the environment that you want, the environment that provides the best chance for the most success for the greatest number and then describe that environment positively as often as possible. How loud or quiet will work? How wild or mellow? Describe, model and reinforce successes with your attention.

And if you are ever tempted to let loose a great “Shhh!”, we think it’s ok to say it, once … to yourself!

Speaking the Same Language

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Posted by Megan | Posted in Megan Savage | Posted on August-3-2014

I enrolled D in a special needs swim program for the summer. It is a little slice of heaven for us. It is at a fancy sport club which I could never afford to be a member of so in the summer we get to pretend that is our lifestyle. This club has opened up a time during the day to work with a special needs non profit we are members of. Therefore the time D is swimming there are a huge group of special needs kids in the pool. He has made certain friends and gotten quite comfortable in the pool. During a class last week the teachers were letting him horse around with another student in the class. Our normal routine is after class we swim in the baby pool for a bit while D and Bubba can frolic together and by the time we get into the locker room a family bathroom is open for us. We walked into the room and it was a mess towels everywhere and chairs turned over and one of Dane’s swim mates and his mom on the floor. I Immediately asked her if she needed any help and what happened….. To my surprise D was the trigger for this tantrum. The teachers let D get on his back and get a piggy back ride. As a result made him go underwater and he was very frightened and thought D did on purpose. The mom was drenched in sweat. He was kicking screaming and she had an audience of people either starring or trying to help. I felt so incredibly responsible and wanted to fix this for her. I instantly felt for her and have been in this position.

D impressed me and reluctantly went up to him and apologized and tried to explain he did not do it on purpose. The interaction with his trigger did not go over so well. D watched me struggle and ponder about how I was going to handle this situation. He instantly starts screaming ” I am the worse kid In swim class”. I was struggling with holding back my own tears. I knew exactly how she felt. I just kept asking how long does the storm normally last, this just takes so much out of you. There were staff members that tried to offer him anything to calm down ice cream a soda. I respectfully told them he does not need anyone asking him questions right now. Including myself but I just could not walk away. The mom called her husband in desperation and said it was his worse tantrum he has ever had. In between taking care of my own kids and pondering if I should continue to interact or leave them alone I decided to ask her permission to use a visual timer on my phone to see if he would calm down if I gave him a visual and did some deep breathes. He was not use to this technique and not sure it did to much to calm him down but gave his mom and I two minutes to breathe and connect. She said what bugs him one day he will be fine with the next day. I agreed and compared it to plying Russian roulette you never know what behavior you are going to get. I sympathized with her and said how tired she must be. I wish I had thought of giving her a compliment at the time. She looked at me with an exhausted YES TOTALLY! kind of look. Of course the mom had her tools she played some of his favorite music on her phone and he started to calm down. I heard a mom go up to her and ask if she could go get her something to drink. Then that sweet mom came over to us and knelt down where I was changing Bubba on the floor and said ” that was really sweet of you” little does she know my son played a part in this. He had calmed down enough where I thought I could go into the family bathroom and take my suit off. By the time I came out they were gone. In hind sight it might not have been the best idea to stick around but I have been in that situation many times with little to no help. People may think they are helping but don’t know enough. One employee started to raise her voice and try and get stern with the little boy. The poor mom had no energy to deal with her as well. This is where I figured I could help. Just be a buffer and defender. I told the women that would not be helpful and that he has special needs and had to ride the tantrum out. The mom was helping him do that.

Unfortunately at this families expense it was a great platform for discussion with D and I. He really impressed me in this situation. I am so proud of him. Our swim class the next day was like nothing happened. The two frolicked in the water and were playing. It just goes to show you how much junk an adult can carry around. I re-played and worried about the incident all night long. One thing I really wanted to do was tell the mom what a great job she did. I know those compliments go a long way. D had written him a note. I gave her the note and I put my hand on her shoulder and told her what a great job she did with her son. Her eyes instantly welled up. I hope that this compliment that she received will help her not doubt herself the next tantrum. Compliments from a stranger can go such a long way.

Lifetime Learning

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Posted by David Maddalena | Posted in Anghelika and David Maddalena | Posted on July-29-2014

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Everybody’s heard one adult or another say something like, “education never stops!” It might’ve been a teacher, encouraging students to see education as a part of life, rather than something in the way of their summertime. It might have been a commencement speaker, challenging graduates to see their recent success as ‘just the beginning’ of a lifetime of learning. Wherever you heard it first, we bet you’ve thought about it since. If you’re a parent, you want your child to learn good study habits in order to become a lifetime learner. If you’re a teacher, you want people to embrace every day as another opportunity to grow in wisdom and skill. If you’re a human being, you want to work and live with people who never stop learning.

It says, "Don't stop now!"

It says, “Don’t stop now!”

Sure it can seem a bit of a cliché, or trite. But it’s also true: the world never stops teaching us. We never reach the end of the great lesson that life is. We never do graduate into any kind of real expertise. We just get better … but we never really feel smart enough. We’re thinking about these things, because of Dave’s summer job. He’s working at a clinic in Menlo Park for students in need of a boost with their spelling, reading, and comprehension skills. Usually he works with school-age children, but occasionally someone older will come through the doors, a late high schooler or a college-age kid. This week he’s begun to work with a 32-year-old PhD candidate. This gentleman already has a masters under his belt, but testing reveals some weaknesses in certain comprehension areas, and he wants to up his game before he starts his doctoral program.

And though he’s chosen to submit to the process offered in the clinic, it’s been a struggle for him to begin with basic instruction, a necessity in this clinic’s process, as we build a new way for students to perceive and express information. Dave was particularly excited to work with him, primarily because they are studying in the same field. But in addition to shared interests, Dave was also able to offer this: even though he didn’t come to the clinic in need of remedial help, the training and subsequent work has been extraordinarily helpful in his own learning process. So here we have another aspect of that old trope: there’s always something new to learn. You can be working on a second Masters degree, doing fine in school, getting all the information you need in your field, and still have plenty to learn about how to learn. That’s been Dave’s experience.

Maybe there’s no way to convince a child that endless education is a good thing, but we can always model it for them.

Sensational Moments

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Posted by Megan | Posted in Megan Savage | Posted on July-27-2014

I wrote this post for SPD blogger network a few years ago. Reading those blogs helped me immensely dealing with a diagnosis that many have not heard of. Unfortunately they have since closed down the blog due to low funding. I was in Tahoe this past week and could not help to reflect back to this post. I still love to watch D frolic on the beach and now swim. I never take any of it for granted. Bubba will also need to get over some sensory challenges. He is scared of the sounds of the waves. He is nervous around the water. Again we use the same approach with him and nudge/push to have experiences in these environments so he is able to regulate and function in them.

As the summer is coming to a fast halt I reflect at the activities we have done and within those activities there has been many many obstacles and achievements.

Sensational Moments Equal
Sensationalimage Achievements

I have always been the type of person to get up and go. It was not until I had my son that I had to put the breaks on a bit. Since day one he has not been a pick up and go kind of baby now pre-schooler. I go back and forth with nudging him out of his comfort zone but having my back-ups of course. I always ask myself on the way to our destinations and in the midst of tantrums while we are stranded at a vacation spot is this worth it? Does the tantrums and sensory overload moments outweigh the moments of fun? I have yet to answer that. Having a child on the spectrum and tons of sensory challenges is like playing roulette daily. You never know what the outcome will be and I am always surprised in good times and bad.

I am glad we have nudged…… Ok pushed him to get over some of these challenges and break away from our rigid routine at home. It is these extremely dark yet exciting voyages that have helped me as a mom of a sensational kiddo gain some more tools in my tool box and my son an opportunity to overcome obstacles with a zillion back up plans in place.
Maybe a bit selfish but these trips keep me sane it is a little slice of therapy for me to go to a favorite scenic place. It is good and necessary for my soul.

After a particular difficult trip in Tahoe this summer I was able to reflect and look at our challenges last year and look at our current challenges. It was not until my reflection I was able to find a few achievements that were going unappreciated. I was standing at the beach paralyzed with knowledge ending and frustration had kicked in full force that quickly transformed to tears streaming behind my glasses. I froze and was unable to access any of those tools I had spent so much time researching. It was like he had never done this before. At the moment I was regretting I drove 4 hours with a screaming kid to then be miserable at our dreamy beach spot. My sister who “gets it” jokingly asked me if I was having fun yet and I was speechless.

After almost two hours of tantrums which brought us close to nap time at this point we resorted to going in our sensory break pop up porta-crib where no dogs or bugs could disturb him. I often repeat to myself during these lengthy tantrums it is harder for him than it is for me. Thank god for naps. It was the clean slate we needed to make this day a good one. I was able to re-fuel in order to deal with whatever the afternoons obstacles might be. During my break on the beach I was thinking how thankful I was to be around family who got it and could support us.

Last year he would go nowhere near the sand or water. This year he would sit in the sand and play in the water. This was HUGE!!! It is easy to get stuck, compare to other kids and make sand castles out of pity parties. I need that precious energy to help nurture the journey to these achievements that may seem minuscule to the typical family. The highlight of our trip was a walk on the pier where families were jumping off. After much observation my son had decided he wanted to jump in with me. I warned him that it was freezing and he does not do well with extreme temperature change. He is extremely cautious and hates not having control so this surprised me. He often will surprise me like this and it makes for an exciting ride up or down. I planned out my jump ahead of time to help him feel more comfortable. He freaked out for a second until he heard the whole pier clapping for him including his aunt, uncle and cousins. The look of pride on his face that lasted the whole afternoon outweighed the treturous morning we had.

This leap of faith decision he had made confirmed for me moments like this make all the struggles worth while. I can hang onto that colorful moment during the not so colorful times ahead. I always look back at my Facebook pictures and pretend I am a distant friend with no information about my kiddos jumbled up central nervous system. We look so happy. These happy snapshots of us jumping into freezing cold snow melt off look so seamless. If they only knew the blood, sweat and tears that go into every trip.

Tahoe was one of three trips this summer and who would have thought that the happiest place on earth was the hardest. We took him when he was 18 months and I joked I was going to move there because my guy is such a sensory seeker that all the stimulation was great for him. Not one single spout or scream in four days. We decided to visit a year and a half later. What we had not thought about was his new fear of the dark after spending a week in alaska where it is light out all the time. He also is older and has more schema of his world. Which resulted of him being scared and terrified of everything Disneyland had to offer besides the monorail and autopia. It was one of our toughest trips yet.

To get through such a tricky trip like this it helps me to pump myself up and tell myself I was handed it because I can handle it!!! May sound a tad egotistical. When in reality I was handed my son to learn and grow. I have learned so much about kids on the spectrum and SPD. For that I am extremely thankful!

In Defense of The Blankey

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Posted by David Maddalena | Posted in Anghelika and David Maddalena | Posted on July-23-2014

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Most of us can remember that special object that traveled with us through the years (usually between ages 1 and 6 or older), spent as much time near our skin as a piece of clothing, was privy to secrets and confidences like a good friend, and had an unparalleled power to derail a day’s plans if it went missing. Yes, we are talking about the humble blankey. Our security blanket, stuffed animal, or whatever it was that gave us that feeling of comfort when we held it to our faces, was at its post, steadfast, right there next to our thumbs, whenever we needed it. We may or may not remember how much it meant to us when we were children … but it is always a bit jarring to see how powerful this connection can be in a child, when we look at it from an adult perspective.

To see a child panic and freeze just when you need to get out the door for a day of errands–or worse, just after the car is packed for vacation–is to to witness a force of nature: “OH NO! Where’s Blankey?!”. We might be tempted at times like this to gently argue the relative unimportance of a piece of cloth when compared with the exciting wonders of the world that await just outside the door, or, when that utterly fails, to weakly suggest that we’ll look for a stuffed animal at the gift shop. Woe to the parent who leaks out the very adult perspective: “It’s only a piece of fabric (and one that seriously needs a wash)!”

It is never ‘only a piece of fabric’.

Donald Winnicott, the English pediatrician famous for his psychoanalytic insights into relationships, wrote about these Transitional objects–blankets, teddy bears or whatnot–and how important they are. Transitional objects, he taught, serve as bridges between that time when a child could magically summon a parent with a cry (he used the word, omnipotence to describe the child’s role in this amazing stage) and the later times, marked by a more a more realistic understanding about our separateness as individuals.

At some point every child recognizes that things are changing: parents respond with less promptness, and perhaps a little less unbridled joy when baby cries out. Whether this transition is gradual (as it should be) or sudden and traumatic (as it can be for a number of reasons), it will be hard for a young mind to adjust. And while it is a normal kind of stress for an infant to face, many children need extra comfort to ease this transition.

For a child, the blanket is there to make the transition from omnipotence a little easier. The chosen object is infused with the qualities that are needed: comfort, availability, protection, love. Objects are always satiny soft, furry, or fleecy to match the comforting touch of mother or her clothes. And they become a surrogate for parents who can’t be on soothing-duty 24/7. The presence of a blanket or other transitional object is a sign that a child is learning to soothe themselves.

Parents shouldn’t question their meaning or value, at least not in the presence of the child for whom they have significance. Though we may think, “It’s just a blanket, silly”, let’s remember that life can be a challenge at any age, and we often reach outside of ourselves for comfort. In fact, consider some of the things adults reach for when stressed. Could reaching for a blanket really be that wrong?

Saving Grace Moments

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Posted by Megan | Posted in Megan Savage | Posted on July-20-2014

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Not sure if I have really written about this or not since my mommy brain pretty much prevents me from remembering anything….let-alone a years-plus worth of blogs. We are in the middle of summer and D has extreme difficulty with change and lack of routine and I use to hate to admit this but I am quite comfortable with now….. D and I are not the best at staying home with each other full time. I always thought prior to having kids I might want to be a stay at home mom. After D was born and as I have written about before he was not the easiest baby , toddler, pre-schooler and now school age kiddo due to sensory challenges and autism. While I had extreme anxiety and separation anxiety when I went back to work ~ I learned that he and I could not stay home with each other full time. Even though I hate guilt and I rarely use that word I felt guilty that I would not want to stay home with him. Although it was not an option for me. It did not sit well in my heart. After a good amount of work on myself personally with a professional I have learned that it is ok and it is just a fact. So fast forward 6 years and He is in school and is off all summer and we are on a budget so camps are not really an option therefore that makes me a stay at home summer mom. It is not easy for us. While I am extremely grateful for the feathers in my cap that D has helped me earn… Those hard moments are stressful and take a tremendous amount of energy out of me.

Lately I have been really appreciative of one of the many wonderful things that my second kiddo does. Bubba is a love-bug naturally at an early age. As
I mentioned above the summer is hard for us, traveling is hard for us. There has been a few moments with D that sucked the energy out of my entire body for that I can remember three times one was in San Diego while D was having a pretty major meltdown at the beach at night trying to find a place to eat. It was a pretty long and drawn out tantrum that stressed the whole family out except for Bubba who just sits in his stroller and goes with the flow( thank you universe tremendously!) after the storm was over I sat there deflated and not hungry and wondering how we were going to survive the rest of
the trip. I was holding Bubba and he cupped both of his chubby little hands on my face and kissed my lips, forehead, each side of my cheeks and nose. I felt like he filled me up with the energy that was sucked out of me. There have been a few more occasions where he has done that….today at a park being one of them. It was such a long day of tantrums and complaining. I was wavering back and forth with being the mom D needed and trying to get in his brain and understand
what he needed and what was the root of this Or….. telling him to F off( in my head of course :) but definitely an incognito middle finger). I told him I was trying to understand what his brain needed and he finally was able to communicate that he wanted to be left alone. ✅ Done! I could do that but my energy level was getting low. Once again Bubba came up behind me with a big bear hug, twirled my hair and said ” I uv you momma”. That is what I needed to have the ability to turn his mood around again and have the energy to play something that would be a game changer and flip his switch. I am so great-full for those saving grace moments. D is full of them as well during our many toddler meltdowns….D is so extremely observant that he has so many tools to calm bubba down and flip his switch.

I love that both my kids have this graceful and emotional intuition. It is extremely crucial to develop strong relationships in this crazy world.