I’m no expert in parenting and half the time I am holding my breath waiting for something to explode but lately, dare I say it, I feel like we’ve settled into a good routine with Super Cooper.
When Cooper gets stressed out we immediately do a hug, tickle or throw him up in the air. If we are home one of us may even softly tackle him and wrestle. This was the BEST advice we got from OT. It takes Coops mind of the stress and makes him laugh. Honestly, try this. Today he had a horrible speech appointment. I would say top three worst appointment ever. Once we got to the therapy room I squeezed him super tight and began singing his favorite songs. Within seconds he was in hysterics.
We do a lot of explaining to Cooper about what’s going to happen. The first time I did this was on the way to his first speech appointment at the Scottish Rite clinic. He was a little monster during the evaluation and I was a nervous wreck about it. The whole 20 minute drive I talked to him about the appointment to come. I honestly didn’t get one ounce of interest or recognition while I was talking. I thought it wouldn’t work. I was wrong. He was relaxed and calm. Talking it through helps. I will say it did backfire one time though. I was told by the school district to bring Cooper in for an evaluation that would be mostly playing. I talked to him for two days about going to school to play. When we got there we were ushered into a small room with zero toys. Holy mother of meltdown city. Backfire.
We do a lot if ‘first do this and then you can do this.’ And we do a lot of repeating. First you brush your teeth and then you can have a treat.
We’ve ALWAYS focused on every day life skills. Brushing teeth, getting dressed, clipping nails, etc. These are important skills. Yes, learning colors and shapes matter. But honestly, so is being able to brush your teeth without hitting your head. As a mom, I struggle to teach coop at this age so I took a stance a year ago to work on life skills. And I’m glad I did. Cooper is succeeding at these skills.
Celebrate everything. I clap and cheer and dance over the littlest things. We celebrate Coopers victories small and big.
Stop being in a hurry. This one was harder to accept but it’s made a huge impact. If Cooper wants to stop and throw rocks we usually let him. Forcing him during a social situation will never work. We also have amazing follow through.
We added music into Coops life. It’s been life changing. We put a CD player in his room with a children’s cd that he can operate. He now spends time in his room and often laughs at the lyrics. Music is great.
Cooper rarely eats dinner with us anymore. THANK YOU to the fellow blogger that recommended this. After daycare Cooper is exhausted and can’t handle meal time right away. So now, we make dinner and eat. Cooper is right next to us watching cartoons and still included with us. Once we are done and cleaned up we get Coops dinner ready. At our house, during the summer, the tv goes off after dinner and we go outside. It’s the perfect bribe to get Cooper to eat and 9 out of 10 times it works great.
I’ve given up on technology. Or more so, fighting technology. Thank you Amber for advice on this one. Cooper loves his movies. His new favorite is Cars. We can’t force him to play with toys no more than we could force an adult. So now we have a loose schedule on TV time. My mommy guilt struggled with this one. I’m in a good place now though.
I may get flack for this but I still try and get Cooper to take a bite of a variety of foods at dinner. One bite. And I’m not talking fish or something weird. Usually it’s a food that’s similar to one of his likes. I FIRMLY believe in my heart that many of coops stresses are amplified by his poor dirt. Sugar and crap food are not giving him what he needs to grow. This is important to me and I’m sticking with it. Now, after saying that, 100% of the time we give Cooper foods that he likes.
Lastly, we do lots and lots of physical play. Boys are like puppies. Run them till they collapse. Run, jump, pretend to be bears and frogs. Wrestle, go for walks, throw rocks, etc.
And lastly, and maybe most important, I eased up on all of us. I’m slowly letting go of who I thought Cooper was going to be. We celebrate Cooper just as he is. We are in a good place.