The Perfume And The Empty Spray Bottle: Redirecting And Play Schemas :-)


I found my little boy perched up on a stool in the bathroom, reaching for my perfume… He has shown interest in wanting to spray these days. I’ve seen him fiddling with my perfumes a few times now, and I let him explore but its the spraying action he’s interested in and he tries to spray… near his eyes. A few times I’ve moved him away from the perfumes, but of course, he isn’t best pleased when his exploration is halted. But his week, I remembered that we have these little plastic empty spray bottles. So when I took away the perfume bottles, I explained to him why and filled up the empty spray bottle and gave him that to play with instead. He was more than happy with that! Spraying galore for him, and no vigilance or solely taking something away for me.

I try to substitute my younger son’s urges to throw, to pour, etc, into a safe or contained space, so that he can fulfill those urges and I can keep it safe for him and all of us (and easier to clean up!) But it can be quite triggering! With my elder son, it used to uber triggering for me when we’d sit down for a meal and he’d try and mix up my pasta with other things. If I understood that he just wanted to mix (I didn’t back then!), I could have facilitated some mixing for him in some other way. He would’ve enjoyed it and I would’ve enjoyed my dinner

I do sometimes still get triggered and say ‘no throwing’ to my younger son (2). But what works better is when I give him a replacement to fulfill that urge in a different way. To redirect his need. He wants to throw? We can’t throw the hard thing he just threw, but why don’t we throw those soft, foamy letters around? Fun! He wants to pour the milk I’ve left out into an empty cup? I’m not down with the milk being poured (no thanks to cleaning the milk!) but why don’t we grab some water, some containers and a towel to put on the floor? Then he can pour to his hearts content.

Redirection in the spray bottle incident also reminded me of Allah azza wa jall. Allah only prohibits that which is harmful/potentially harmful to us to us (subhanAllah ), and we generally have a better halal alternative that fills the drive.

Below is a video about schemas (I.e. urges) that young children engage in in their play. Learning about them helped me to understand my now 4 year old’s play when was a toddler, and help in redirecting it.


©AtHomeWithThePrinces. Dec, 2016


The Yellow Pen: A Tale of Sibling Squabbles :-)


Hear some kind of discontent in the living room and then Mr 2 (aged 2) crying.

Context: The kids were playing with felt tip pens and paper. Mr 4 (aged 4) is drawing, Mr 2 is taking the lids off the pens and occasionally drawing.

I go into the living room after hearing the crying

Mr 4: “I’m using the yellow pen, but Mr. 2 had it, but he put it on the floor and now I’m using it”

Me: *Pulled Mr 2 close to comfort him*

Me: “Okay, so Mr. 2 is crying because he’s not done with the yellow pen and you have it because he put it on the floor?”

Mr 4: *showed some sign of agreement*

Me: “So the problem is that you both want the yellow pen. What should we do?”

Mr 4: “Share: let’s take turns! I’m going first”

Me: (pause) “Mr 2, Mr 4 wants to go first”

Mr 2: “No”

Me: “That solution doesn’t work for Mr 2, hun. Hmm…What should we do?”

*silence for all of us; it looks like Mr 4 is thinking in the pause*. Mr 2 is paused too, not crying any more but pulled close to me. Literally a second later:

Mr 4: *hands over the yellow pen to his brother*

Me: “Aww, you gave it to him? Jazakillahu khairan, Hooyo, you made him happy”

So that was our solution. Chosen by them. My role? Commentator of what’s going on, without judgment and whilst working to remain calm internally, and then facilitating problem solving for them. Not rushing to solve it for them (which I fall into often as this is new to me). It doesn’t always go down like this at all. And it doesn’t always end as smoothly. And I fail this scenario too: my voice – and unfortunately my words – reek of judgment: ‘Did you hit him?’ Eek). But I am trying to transition more into this way instead of just sorting it for them. So that they think. In the hope that they are empowered with problem solving skills, so they actually have the tools to sort their problems out in general and with others, insha’Allah. In the hope that they look for solutions that work for everybody as much as possible, insha’Allah.

-Learning from ‘Peaceful Parents, Happy Siblings: How To Stop The Fighting and Raise Friends For Life’ by Dr. Laura Markham (currently listening to this in audiobook format on Audible)
©AtHomeWithThePrinces. Jan, 2017