On Parenting: Meghan Leahy took your questions

(by Katie Jett Walls)
Jun 24, 2020

Meghan Leahy, a parenting coach with Positively Parenting, joined On Parenting editor Amy Joyce to talk about parenting children of all ages.

Good morning, everyone. Thanks for joining us this Wednesday. 

Here's what Meghan has been up to lately, and here's what we've been covering at On Parenting

Many questions await, so let's get started, shall we? 

So, due to COVID we’ve been in lockdown since March. Until this weekend, we have not seen anyone in person for more than a 10 minute socially distanced conversation. This means that our baby, who is coming up to 9 months old, has not meaningfully interacted with anyone outside her parents and sister for the last 3 months. This weekend we’ve finally been able to visit with her grandfather due to some easing of lockdown rules. She cries if he tries to hold her, and stares at him suspiciously when he enters the room. She’s been coping okay but needs lots of cuddles and reassurance from her parents. All of which is fine, it is what it is. However, she’s due to start attending a very small childcare setting in a week (her big sister and one other child). Due to work commitments, we really do need her to go. I’m now really worried that she won’t settle and be miserable the whole time. Any tips on how to ease the transition? She’s normally a really happy, smiley baby and pre lockdown she was happy to be held and passed around to everyone. She’s not too scared of new places (when her grandfather leaves the room she’s keen to explore his house!), it’s definitely a “new people” issue. 

Yeah, this is an interesting time for babies born in the pandemic. They really haven't seen other humans, so the "stranger fear" that most babies have will be there and may be a bit stronger.

BUT.

Babies are meant to have few attachments and not easily go to just anyone, anywhere. So take heart that she's just also being a typical baby!

She will eventually get used to seeing grandfather, and your best bet is to have her sit on your lap while you talk to him. As she continues to see YOUR calm with him, she will follow suit.

As for daycare, it will be tough, but can you go in and sit with her and talk to the other adults in the room? Can she watch you have fun and feel at ease? Small gesture like this will help your daughter to feel safer and calm.

But the reality is that this may be a rough time for your daughter (at first), so expect clinginess, sleep interruptions, etc. until she gets used to the daycare and connects to the adults there. But take heart! You can love her through this!

Good luck.

Meghan, I wrote you in the live chat almost a year ago. And you ended up using my question on a column instead. I’m a survivor of domestic violence and my son while never physically harmed probably heard a lot. I was wondering why my chatty boy wasn’t talking and if I should continue with the two therapists my son was seeing, one play therapist and one for preparing kids suffering from trauma for kindergarten. You advised me at the time to continue both among other things. I followed through, though switched from the free county provided play therapy to another amazing one when my free therapy ran out. I am so grateful! My son is currently 5 and entering kindergarten this fall. I received this text message from one of my son’s friend’s mother yesterday. “ I wanted to pas along something D said the other day. He commented what a good friend A was. He noted that when his other friends hadn’t wanted to play with him they would exclude him, whisper and run away from him . He said that it upset them because they just wouldn’t tell him they didn’t want to play. He said if A doesn’t want to play he tells him and not in a mean way. He told me how much he appreciates A’s ability to communicate this kindly. He said that shows what a good friend A is. I thought you would want to know. You are raising a kind and considerate little man. you knew that already but it’s always nice to hear. :)“ while my son (and I) still have a long way to go, he is talking to me a lot, and I’m finding the right balance. We are on the right track and survivors of domestic violence and domestic abuse. 

ACKKKKK.

Thank you so much for writing in. Amy and I often don't see the what happens after the chat closes, so this means so very much.

And well done. Well done on taking care of yourself and persevering with your son. The fact that he is talking to you now is a good sign...one day at a time, friend! And YES, you are both survivors and THRIVERS.

Hi! We have a one month old baby boy. His three year old big brother loves him, but big bro gets very scared, and often melts down, cries and screams - atypical, ear piercing screams - when baby bro cries, or even sometimes when baby bro just makes normal baby sounds. Even the smallest baby whimper is often met with "pick him up!" Anything we can do to help big bro with the adjustment?

Hmmmm.

I want to know more about his big brother's sound sensitivity, and if this is how he reacts to all sorts of high-pitch sounds (it could indicate a sensory processing disorder and there are lots of therapies for that).

But this baby is brand new, so  let's keep an eye out to see if your older son will get used to the baby. I would double down on the special time and extra love for the older son, and keep showing him how normal it is for babies to cry and that the adults have got this under control.

In the meanwhile, if the noise is simply too much for your three year old, look at headphones! (and talk to his pediatrician)

So I struggle with anxiety on any given day and now I'm pregnant and not able to take my usual med. Meanwhile I have an intense 3 year old. I love her more than life itself, but she never stops moving, never stops talking and is SO LOUD. And of course one of my biggest triggers is noise. I joke that the universe was like "Hey, you struggle with anxiety, know what you need? Most intense kid possible." AAH! Any tips on managing with an intense toddler? TIA!

You have short, medium, and long-term goals here.

Short-term: talk to your doctors and make sure there isn't anything you can take SAFELY during this pregnancy to give you some relief. I am sure you already pursued this, but I want to mention it (just in case). 

Medium term: as safely as you can, get some help. A mother's helper, a babysitter, ANYONE who is safe and can come over and simply play play play with your three year old. You need the emotional and physical support.

Long term: pick up Aron's book The Highly Sensitive Parent, and find support for parenting two kids while anxious. There are coaches, therapists, and specialists that can help you navigate this parenting life. 

Good luck.

Hi Amy and Meghan, My 22 year old gay son with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) is sheltering at home with us during the pandemic. We live in the Catskills and all his college courses are online until the middle of August. I feel guilty that during the pandemic, life with him is easier; he doesn't drive, but his weekly therapy and other appointments are via telehealth now, so I can be present to support him safely but don't have to drive him then wait; also he is socially awkward, but is videochatting with acquaintances online and feeling less anxiety in doing so. My question is how to cope with the guilt of having this time at home with him with less stress, easier than usual, while so many other families are sick, working at essential jobs, and/or suffering financially at this extraordinary time. 

How do you cope with your guilt?

Huh.

I am thrilled for you, but you gotta feel that for yourself.

I would begin with the five WHY'S for this and see where it gets you. For example:

"I am guilty for enjoying this time with my son." WHY?

Because other people are struggling and we aren't. Why?

Because my son has all these extra needs that other 22 yo's don't. WHY?

Because he has ASD, and college and and socializing is difficult for him and he feels safe and easy at home (and so do I.) Why?

Because raising my son has been a joy but also incredibly hard and worrying. Why?

Because I am afraid the larger culture will hurt him, and not understand him.

 

Do you see where that went? It is just an example, but you want to drill down to understand what your guilt is place holding.

 

 

Thanks, Meghan and chatters! Apologies to those we couldn't get to. We'll be back again in two weeks. In the meantime, check out Meghan's columns and chats here, and read lots more about adjusting to our new normal amid the pandemic here.

And to make sure you don't miss anything from Meghan or On Parenting, you can sign up for the On Parenting newsletter here!

In This Chat
Meghan Leahy
Meghan Leahy is a D.C.-based parent coach. She holds a master’s degree in school counseling from Johns Hopkins, taught high school English, and was a Parent Educator with PEP. She is the mom of three girls.
Amy Joyce
Amy Joyce has been at The Post, well, for a long time. Her first foray in to online chats were related to work. Now she's happy to chat about fun (but would like to believe the two can be one). She has been a Business reporter, editor for Weekend and the Going Out guide, and is now editing and writing for On Parenting. When not at work, she can be seen unsuccessfully dodging wiffle balls in her front yard.
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