Toddlers, Whining, and Shark Music

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I first planned to write how challenging my 15 month old is due to her developmental stage, and how it doesn’t coincide with how our adult world functions.

After talking through my feelings with my husband, I realized I needed to change my attitude and reframe her behaviors as her needs opposed to my inconveniences.

So, I decided to write about changing my perspective and having more compassion for Charlotte.

This morning, I tried to get ready for Bible Study and the frustrated Mom came out once again. I felt crazy, like I was on a roller coaster.

Now, as I’m writing this, I can empathize. Charlotte feels the same way all the time. She needs support all day long to organize her feelings. She’s often disappointed because she can’t play with something (like an outlet) or feels frustrated trying to tell me something but she doesn’t yet know how to verbalize it.

She’s moving along in the world making new connections every moment and looking to me to guide her. Whereas I’m over here trying to get my tasks done and frustrated that her whining is getting in the way.

It reminded me of the shark music we talk about in the Circle of Security groups. Shark music is our triggers when our child expresses a feeling that causes us discomfort.

This discomfort with feelings stems from past experiences and the ways our caregivers responded to us. Now, as the caregiver, our children’s needs and emotions can trigger fear and discomfort in us, even when we can rationalize their need as safe. As a result, our children begin to fear their emotions instead of using them as helpful information.

Good news! We, as adults, can name and call out our “shark music” when it is happening to turn the volume down. We can put our discomfort aside for the moment and be with our children when they need us the most. Watch this short video to learn more about shark music! I love the illustration they’ve created.

Back to the story! My shark music is triggered most recently when Charlotte is whining because she’s showing a need and I don’t know what it is.

I feel helpless.

I want to give her what she wants, but I have no clue what she’s saying or pointing to. I worry she doesn’t say as many words as friends her age. I worry that I haven’t read her enough books, or taught her all the words. Or that maybe I’m not a good enough Mom that I can’t decipher what she’s saying.

I know, guys. These aren’t truths.

But in that moment when she’s whining, my shark music goes off and I say those lies in my head. Which causes me to act huffily (I thought I made that word up, but it is, in fact a word!) I bring her over to where she’s pointing and say “What do you want?” but it’s not my super kind: “What is it that you’d like, sweetie?”

By this time, I realize I’m upset because my 15 month old can’t articulate her needs and I’ve calmed myself down. I then apologize to her for acting that way. I don’t want her to stop coming to me when she needs something. I don’t want her to avoid my huffy self when she’s distressed!!

This is how things have been going in our house the past few days. A loop of whining, frustration, identifying shark music, taking deep breaths, delighting in each other, and repeating it all over again. I know this is just a stage. However, an important stage for me to reconcile my shark music so I can “be with” her during these pivotal moments.

These early stages set up her roadmap for navigating emotions and how she can trust I will support her even when her emotions are difficult.

I’m here to remind you to identify your “shark music” triggers. Call them out and put them aside when your child needs you. When you have the space, ask yourself what’s making you uncomfortable and get curious about where these triggers are coming from.

If you need support in identifying your shark music and what to do with it whe is surfaces, contact me to set up a time to explore this further and support you in Motherhood!