raisingkidswithlove

You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

“Hurry up or I will leave without you!” and other discipline techniques that don’t work!


There are some discipline techniques that just don’t work as well as others!

I can remember sometimes simply reacting to a behavior of one of my kids, but not really using a discipline approach.  The result was never very effective.  Some typical reactions just don’t work, or result in other issues later.  Here are some of the most common “discipline reactions” that are usually not very effective:

 

  • “If you don’t hurry we’ll leave you here.”

Threats teach children not to take their parents seriously.  Give a child a consequence that you know you will follow through with and makes sense.  Your child knows that you will not leave them at home alone.  It is an empty threat, one that you will not follow through with.  Think twice, do what you will say!  A better choice if you have a child that is dawdling would be:

“If you don’t hurry we will not have time to play at the park on the way home from the store.”

Logical consequence and something you can follow through with.  So, those times I grounded a child for life….hmmmm

  • “No dessert unless you clean your plate.”

Do not use food as a punishment.  “No dessert unless you eat your broccoli” can result in two things.  Number one, you have told your child that dessert is better than broccoli…now in your opinion that may be true, 🙂 but you want your child to think that nutritious food is on the same level as desserts!  Number two, children learn very quickly to negotiate and then parents usually back down.

“If I take one bit can I have dessert?”

 “No take two.”  

“How about one and a half?”  

“Take one.”

Child cries and whines.  Parent responds by giving in.  Soon a child figures out that negotiation works and  everything becomes a negotiation and is exhausting!

  • “What a good boy you are!”

Complimenting your child is wonderful.  We want to encourage behavior we like, but be specific as to why your child is good.

“You have been so good in the grocery store, I like how you sat in the grocery cart without trying to stand up!”

This type of statement  lets your child know what kind of behavior you expect and like, blanket praise does not work as well.

  • “If you loved me, you wouldn’t do that.”

Never connect behavior to love.  Your child loves you and you love your child unconditionally.  Do not try to control behavior by using guilt.  Give your child a reason to behave the way you would like.

 “It would be such a big help if  you picked up your toys out of the kitchen so I can make us dinner.”

“Help me put your shoes on so we can get to the store and buy food for lunch, what is your favorite for lunch?”

  • “If you don’t behave I’m going to call your father or mother or grandparent or Santa….”

This undermines your authority.  It is risky to show that you have no recourse other than to tell dad or another person.  You are the parent, don’t give your authority to someone else!  Besides, what can Santa do??

  • “Why did you do that?”  or   “What is wrong with you?”

Children don’t know why they behave wrong or can’t articulate a reason.  Asking won’t help them find a reason.  You can walk your child through the problem and help them find a reason for their behavior, describe the emotion your child is feeling, but asking why doesn’t work.  A child really doesn’t know why he or she just squirted all the lotion from the bottle  out on the floor!  Asking only frustrates you!

  • “Why can’t you be more like your sister or friend?”

Comparison is damaging.  Children should never feel like they need to compete for parental love.  Comparing siblings results in an increase in sibling rivalry and can damage the relationship between sisters and brothers.  Your child is unique!  I believe that rules in a home should be the same for all your children, but your discipline approach to each child may be slightly different depending on the temperament of the child.  Remember each child has special gifts and special challenges…your role as a parent is to embrace both.

  • “You are naughty!!”

You want to send the message that the behavior is bad—not the child.  Parents need to make it clear that they believe their kids are good at heart.

“Why did a kind kid like you say something so mean to your friend?”  “This is not like you behaving this way…”

Your child is not bad, the behavior is.

  • “If you behave, I’ll buy you a toy.”

Bribes won’t win you anything and makes it just plain expensive to get out of the grocery store every week if you are buying something in the check out lane!   If a parent uses bribes you may end up having to buy good behavior on an ongoing basis.  Reward charts do work, but reward charts are a temporary incentive and the best rewards are your time or a special activity not an item that is bought.  The toy you buy brings temporary excitement, your time tends to be a more lasting reward.  Continual bribing molds a child into an externally motivated child, as parents we would rather have a child develop internal motivation for good behavior.

  • Spanking 
Spanking is not an effective discipline tool.  Spanking or hand slapping may stop the behavior at the moment, but it does not teach.  Remember the root of discipline is teaching.  We have also learned that children that have a more aggressive temperament will increase their aggression if spanking is used as the discipline approach at home.  This type of discipline also sends a very confusing message.  There are other approaches that work better and are a better example for your child.  Parents also don’t want to spank when they are very angry or frustrated, this can result in taking your anger or frustration out on your child a little more aggressively than you had planned.

There were certainly times when I did not discipline in the most effective way!  We all react out of anger and frustration at times.  I can remember thinking, “Did I just say that?”  The key is using effective discipline MOST of the time, and not beating yourself up when you are not effective.  Remember too, there is a great lesson to your child when you apologize for not handling a situation well.

“I did not like the way you treated your sister a few minutes ago, but Mommy should not have said what she did.  I am sorry.”

We are parents, we are not perfect, but having an effective discipline plan and not simply reacting with emotion to an inappropriate behavior by your child is important!  Tomorrow….the plan!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Introducing Solid Foods to Your Baby


Our daughter Kelsey loving her solid foods!  She was needing a dunk in the tub after this meal!

I can remember the excitement of introducing the kids to their first tastes of “real food”.  The camera was ready, they were sitting up and eager, and that first bite often resulted in the funniest look as they had that first taste.

I know that starting solid foods often comes along with many questions.  What food is first?  What about allergies?  How much?  When?  And the list goes on and on.  To be honest, there are not many hard and fast “rules” that come with starting your little one on solids.  As with many issue of parenting, you may see many different suggestions and contradictory information which can increase your anxiety.    Like many of my parenting tips, I start by saying “Relax!”  There really is not a “wrong” way to do this!  So get your cameras ready….the introduction to solid food is a milestone for every parent and baby, and is darn cute too!

When is my baby ready?

The American Academy of Pediatrics tells parents that solid foods should be introduced between 4 and 6 months of age.  At any point between 4 and 6 months, it is just fine!  More important than age, we like to see that the baby is developmentally ready for solids.

Why should I wait until my baby is 4 to 6 months old?

Ideally, breast milk or formula should be the main nutrition for a baby’s first 4 to 6 months.  The foods that you introduce after that are really just supplemental to the nutrients in the breast milk and formula.  Solids are really an education in taste and texture for the first year of life.  Breast milk or formula is the core of your baby’s diet for the first full year providing at least 75% of your baby’s calories.  After a year, your baby will start to meet more and more of their nutritional needs through solid foods.  By age 3, a child should only be getting about 10-20% of their calories from milk, and the rest from solid foods.

Isn’t this different from when I grew up?

Maybe.  The school of thought regarding solids has changed over the years.   In the 1920’s, solid foods were seldom offered to babies before a year.  During the 1960’s and 1970’s solid foods often were fed to infants in the first three months.  There are pictures of me being fed rice cereal at just a few weeks of age.  (I AM pretty old!)  Moms were often told then that the cereal would help a young infant sleep through the night.  I promise it doesn’t!   Slowly, we have come almost full circle with the recommendation now to wait until your baby is at least 4 months old.

Why do we wait now?

We have learned that babies are just not developmentally ready for solids.  More important than actual age is your baby’s development.

  • Before 4 months of age, a baby’s digestive system is too immature for solids.
  • Before 4 months of age, a baby’s throat muscles are not developed for swallowing solids and there is a tongue thrust…food that is placed in the mouth is pushed back out with his tongue.  Most babies no longer have this tongue thrust by 6 months.
  • Before 4 months of age, your baby has no ability to tell you that he is full.  Until around 4 to 5 months, babies will not turn their head to refuse food.
  • Before 4 months of age, solid foods will result in your baby taking less breast milk or formula that has the correct amount of nutrients and fat for growth.
  • Solids should be introduced no later than 6 months.  Waiting too long for the introduction of solids can result in a delay in your baby’s eating and chewing skills, and recent studies now show that waiting longer than 6 months of age may actually increase food allergies.

What are some signs that might show my baby is developmentally ready for solids?

  • Your baby is between 4 and 6 months in age.
  • Your baby has at least doubled his birth weight.
  • Your baby can sit with support.
  • Your baby has good head and neck control and is able to turn his head to refuse food.
  • Your baby’s tongue thrust reflex is diminishing.
  • Your baby is breast-feeding more than 8 to 10 times a day and still wants more or your baby is taking 32 to 36 ounces of formula and wants more.
  • Your baby is reaching for your food, or shows an interest when you are eating.

What food should be first?

Traditionally babies have been started on an iron fortified, easily digested cereal, like rice.  This is because at 6 months of age, a baby’s natural iron stores from Mom are beginning to diminish.  So, most parents start with some type of cereal, often rice.  Other than the iron, there is not much nutrition in the rice cereal. I feel that a white rice cereal is not the best choice for a first food….there really is no hard and fast rule regarding what food you should start first.  There are many good options such as:

  • Bananas
  • Avocado
  • Sweet potato
  • Pears
  • Applesauce
  • Carrots
  • Squash
  • Strained meats
  • Whole milk yogurt if a baby is 6 months of age or older

First foods should be single ingredients.  Foods should be introduced one at a time with a couple of days in between each new food so if there is any type of reaction you will know which food is likely the culprit!

Some will suggest that a parent introduce vegetables before fruits so the baby does not taste the sweet food first.  I don’t feel this is necessary.  Babies who are breast-fed have tasted sweet…breast milk is sweet!  No matter if a parent introduces fruits or vegetables first, babies will always prefer the sweeter taste.  So, it really doesn’t matter!  Introduce a vegetable, then a fruit, then a meat….whatever works for you and your child!

How do I start?

  1. Start with 1 to 2 tablespoons of a single ingredient pureed food.  It should be a liquid consistency in the beginning.  Your goal is not to fill up your child’s tummy, but to expose him to the new taste and texture.  Be careful not to substitute food for breast milk or formula.  During the first year babies should still have 4-6 breast feedings or 24-36 ounces of formula in 24 hours.  If milk consumption drops, you may be feeding too many solids.
  2. Use your finger as the first spoon and have your baby suck the food off your finger.  You then can move to a rubber coated spoon.
  3. Offer the first meal when you are not in a hurry and your baby is not overly tired or too hungry.  I suggest you nurse or bottle feed first, and then an hour later try the solids.
  4. Always offer the new food in the morning so if your baby would have any kind of reaction or upset tummy, it doesn’t happen at night!
  5. Watch your facial expressions.  Babies learn what foods you like and don’t like!  Everything should be yummy!
  6. If your baby makes a face or gags with the new taste or texture, it does not mean that he doesn’t like the food.  It takes at least 10 to 15 introductions of a food before a baby can develop a like or dislike!  We want our babies to have a wide taste pallet!  Don’t limit your baby to only the foods you like, especially if you are picky!
  7. Watch carefully to see when your baby has had enough.  A baby may turn his head, close his mouth, bat the spoon away, or become fussy.  Do not force food.  Remember, the majority of your baby’s calories should be coming from breast milk or formula.
  8. It makes no difference to a baby if he gets green beans for breakfast!  There is no right or wrong food for each meal.
  9. Start with one meal a day and then move to twice a day.  By 9 months of age, most babies are enjoying solid foods and are eating 3 meals a day.
  10. There should be “dinner and a show!”  Babies like smiles, airplane spoons, songs, and fun with the meal.  Enjoy it!

Tips for making mealtime easier?

  1. Show your baby how you take a bite and enjoy your food.  This may encourage a reluctant eater.
  2. Use the upper lip to sweep food off the spoon.
  3. Dress yourself and your baby in clothes that won’t be hurt by a messy eater!  Many times I stripped my little ones down and sometimes a bath was necessary after the meal!  Babies are messy eaters….no way to get around that!
  4. Use suction cup bottomed bowels.  Keep your baby’s hands busy, give him a spoon to hold too!
  5. No pressure.  It is O.K. if your baby misses a meal.  If your baby is fighting the solid foods, skip a meal or two and then try again.  Remember, solids are mainly an education to taste and texture.  Your baby should be receiving most of his nutrition from breast milk or formula.

What about water and  juice?

Babies do not need any other liquid besides breast milk or formula for the first 4 to 6 months.  This means no juice or water.  Once solid foods are introduced, a baby should be introduced to a cup.  Water may be given in a cup with a meal.  Your baby will probably just take a few sips.  Juice is not recommended for the first year.  Juice provides very little nutritional value and has a lot of empty calories.

What about allergies?

Some health care providers may suggest waiting to start foods like eggs, fish, or peanut butter until your baby is older because of the risk of food allergies.  Studies have shown that avoidance of foods does not prevent the allergy and may actually increase the incidence of food allergies.  In January of 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidelines recommending that foods should not be avoided unless there was a significant family history of food allergies.  Check with your health care provider regarding his or her suggestions about these foods.

One food that should be avoided until after the first birthday is honey.  Honey carries the risk of your baby developing botulism.  This does not include honey that is in foods like crackers or cereal, only pure honey.

How will I know if my baby is allergic to a food?

If your baby has vomiting, diarrhea, a new diaper rash or skin rash including hives, or develops wheezing, then this could be a food allergy.  If your baby has gas, or a tummy ache it may just be a food intolerance.  If you think your baby has had an allergic response or an intolerance, you should stop giving the food to your baby.  You might try the food again in a couple of months if the reaction was mild and your baby may do just fine.  If there was a more severe reaction like vomiting, hives, or wheezing talk to your health care provider before giving the food again.

What about homemade baby food?

Some parents choose to make baby food.  To be honest, if you are waiting to start solids until your baby is 6 months old, your little one will not eat true puree food for very long.  Most babies will start finger foods at about 8 months and are eating mostly table food by  11 months of age.    It is not terribly difficult or time-consuming to make baby food.  You may choose to make all of your own, or use some store-bought and some homemade.  Your baby will also do just fine if you choose to use all store-bought.  Here are some tips for making your own.

  • You will need something to grind or puree food.  You might use a blender, food processor or simply a fork as your little one gets used to texture.
  • You will need storage containers like ice-cube trays or something similar.  There are trays made just for baby food, but ice-cube trays will work just the same.
  • Choose fruits and vegetables that are in season and fresh, or frozen for the best nutritional value.
  • Wash your hands well.
  • Wash the fruit and vegetables well!
  • Bake, boil, or steam the vegetables or fruit.  You then can mash or puree using water or breast milk/formula.  If you boil the vegetables/fruit, use the leftover liquid to mash the food to prevent loss of nutrients in the water.
  • Peel and pit fruits and vegetables and strain if necessary.
  • You can use seasoning!  Babies like flavor!  Try to stay away from salt.
  • Remove skin and trim fat from meat.  You can puree cooked meat, or grind it, or simply cut it up into very small pieces for an older baby.
  • Freeze the food  in ice-cube trays.  Remove the cubes of food and store in labeled freezer bags.  One cube is about 1 ounce of food.
  • When ready, thaw the amount you will use.  If your baby does not eat all the food prepared in the dish, it must be thrown out, it cannot be saved.
  • Use caution heating with a microwave.  Microwaves can cause hot spots..be sure to stir and test the food.

There are many books with tips and recipes for making baby food.  Some of my favorites include:

Super Baby Food   By:  RuthYaron

Baby Bites   By:   Bridget Swinney

Top 100 Baby Purees:  100 Quick and Easy Meals for a Healthy and Happy Baby   By:   Annabel Karmel

So, the introduction of solids really should not make you anxious, it should be exciting and fun!  Enjoy this milestone for you and your baby!  Your baby’s first taste of solid food only happens once!  Don’t over think the process.  Get ready for dinner and a show!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Resources

American Academy of Pediatrics

www.askdrsears.com

www.napnap.org

www.superbabyfood.com

www.wholsomebabyfood.com

 

Picky Toddler Eating


Our daughter, Kaitlyn, the picture of  toddler pickiness!

Why is it that we parents worry so much about how much our child is eating?  I can remember thinking that how well Kaitlyn ate that day, determined how well I had parented.  Not true!  Children under the age of one usually nurse or formula feed well, and are eager for the introduction of solid foods.  But seemingly over night, our toddlers start to have an opinion about what we feed them!  I can remember being very frustrated because I was providing her with this wonderfully healthy meal, and often all she wanted was bananas!  To make it more confusing, the next day she may have thrown all those bananas off her tray!  My darling daughter was a typical toddler, and with toddlers, meals are often a challenge.  Why?

1.Toddlers have slowed down in growth.

The first year of life a child grows very quickly, between birth and a year most children triple their birth weight!  A toddler grows much more slowly and seems less hungry.

2.  Eating interrupts a toddler’s activity.

Toddlers are busy…any parent can tell you that.  Sitting for any length of time just isn’t on the toddler’s agenda!

3.  You can’t force a toddler to eat.

A parent’s job is to present a toddler with a wide taste pallet of healthy foods every day.  It is up to the child to eat them!  The more you force, the more most toddlers turn up their noses.  A healthy child offered healthy food will NOT starve themself!  A parent’s job is to provide a toddler’s job is to decide!

4.  Toddlers usually eat one good meal a day.

Often toddlers will eat a good breakfast, an OK lunch and pick at dinner. Toddlers only need about 40 calories an inch. (Now don’t get that calculator out for your child!)  Most will only need about 1000 to 1200 calories a day.  By dinner, many toddlers have eaten their required calories for the day!

5.  Toddlers like to binge on one food.

Food jags are common in toddlers.  One day you can’t fill them up on green beans, and then two days later it is bananas.    Some days a toddler may eat only fruit, the next day they may fill up on protein.  What a toddler eats over a week is a better picture of their diet intake.

So what is a parent to do….

  • Relax!
  •  Offer food frequently!  Toddlers need 3 meals and at least 2 snacks offered each day.  Toddlers behave better when they are eating frequently.  Their tummies are small and temper tantrums increase when blood sugars are low.  Try planning snacks from at least 2 food groups 2 to 3 times a day.
  • Dip it!  Toddlers like to dip everything.  It is fun, and it is messy…two essentials for toddler eating!  Humus, yogurt, cottage cheese, guacamole, melted cheese, salsa, peanut butter and even ranch dressing are some essential dips for toddlers.
  • Hide it!  Hide the broccoli under cheese sauce, shred the veggies and mix them in humus or cream cheese and spread on a tortilla and cut into pin wheels, puree veggies and add them to pasta sauce, lasagna, meatloaf.  Make “orange ” pancakes with sweet potato puree or carrot puree and a dash of cinnamon.  Get sneaky!   When you hide vegetables, make sure you include some on your child’s plate so they learn what a balanced diet looks like.
  • Be creative!  Kids like fun.  Make faces on sandwiches, use cookie cutters and cut shapes in pancakes and bread, make shish-ka-bobs with fruit and pretzel sticks, make party bananas with sprinkles, serve fruit and yogurt in an ice cream cone, try smoothies….
  • Remember the toddler serving size!  A serving size is a tablespoon per year.  One serving of vegetables for a 2-year-old is two tablespoons!  Many times we are trying to serve our toddlers adult size portions!  The American Academy of Pediatrics has a great “sample” daily meal plan.  Take a look!
  •  Don’t let your toddler “drink” his calories.  A toddler should only have  16 to a maximum of 20 ounces of milk a day.  That is much less than the 28 to 32 ounces most were drinking before becoming toddlers!  If your child drinks too much cow’s milk, he will not eat solid food calories!  Too much milk provides too little iron and other needed nutrients!  Juice should be limited to only 4 to 6 ounces a day, better to have the whole fruit than just the juice!
  • Let your child “shop” for food.  Give your child a few dollars and let them “shop” in the produce section.  Your child will be more likely to eat the food he or she “buys”!  You might learn to cook and eat a new fruit or vegetable too….you never know what your child may pick out!  (this is how I learned to fix spaghetti squash!)
  • Let your child “help” prepare food.  A child who watches a parent make dinner and “helps” will often be more likely to eat!  Let your child have a few choices, control is important for toddlers.
  • Let your child be messy.  Toddlers explore food with their mouths, taste buds, and hands.  They smash food, throw food, spread food, “paint” with food and generally need a bath after most meals.  You must allow your toddler to feed himself.  You must introduce spoons and forks, and be patient with the fact that it takes time and messes to learn how to use them!
  • Don’t battle…try a “No thank you bite”.  Toddlers have opinions, and sometimes they are very strong!  The more battle there is in a meal, the more likely you will lose!  Offer healthy foods and a variety of foods.  If your toddler refuses to try something, introduce a “no thank you bite”.  One bite and then he can refuse more.  You might even ask your child to “kiss” the food, not even take a bite.  This may provide just a small enough taste to convince your child to take a bite!  Remember, it takes 15 to 20 introductions to a food before your child will develop a definite like or dislike!

Remember, a parent’s job is to PROVIDE healthy meals and snacks….a toddler’s job is to DECIDE what he or she will eat that day. If left alone, toddlers will usually balance their own diet if we just provide good choices.  Relax….

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Helpful Websites:

www.annabelkarmel.com

www.wholesometoddlerfood.com

http://weelicious.com/tag/toddler-recipes

Don’t let comparisons steal your joy and contentment!


comparison

Comparisons steal your joy and contentment as a Mom!

I caught myself doing it again this morning….thinking “Why can’t I be more like “so and so” who always has time to…..”  As I said this to myself, I could feel the negativity creep into my morning, the joy being sucked out of my morning cup of coffee.  The fact is…when we compare ourselves to someone else, or wish we could trade places, all we are doing is stealing the joy we have in OUR life.  If we “switched” into someone else’s “perfect life” we would also have their “imperfect” challenges which may be very different from ours!  Comparison only leads to anxiety and discontent.  We must choose to be intentional and purposeful in our life so that we can make the most of where we are instead of wishing we were at some other stage in life or in a different situation.

Comparisons tend to creep into many aspects of our lives…she is more fit, she cooks more than I do, her TV screen doesn’t have fingerprints, her child is rolling over already, her son is speaking in full sentences, her husband pitches in more and the list goes on…..All these comparisons bring unnecessary stress and discontent into our lives.  Wondering why your friend’s 11 month old is toddling about and your 13 month old is still holding on to the coffee table steals your moment of joy when your child grins at you.  Here are a few reasons to stay away from comparisons:

  • A child who is developing at a “normal” rate (remember there is a wide range of normal) is perfect!  A child who is developing a bit quicker is not more likely to be successful than your child! Relax and enjoy.
  • What works for one Mom may not work for you and your child, no matter how wonderful it seems.  Relax and trust what works for you and your family.
  • Working outside the home, working inside the home, childcare, breastfeeding, formula feeding, organic food…all these are personal decisions.  If you are content and your child is happy and developing well, ignore the chatter or arguments.  You don’t know their whole story and they don’t know yours. Relax and trust your choices for your family.
  • No one is as perfect as they seem on Pinterest! Pinterest fails are more common than Pinterest perfection. Relax and enjoy, children don’t need the perfect birthday party decorations to have fun!

If we keep telling ourselves that we are exactly where we are supposed to be…our children will grow up knowing that the life you have at this moment is full of challenge at times, but also so full of joy if we choose to see it. What a better lesson than an example of continuous discontent!   The simple joy of my quiet morning cup of coffee is much better than wondering if I should be doing or accomplishing something else.  Once again, I have vowed this morning not to let comparisons steal my joy and contentment today.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

“We always do that!” Why Family Tradition is Important!


christmas tree 2013

Our “traditional” Christmas tree.  A little more “perfectly” decorated than years past….there are ornaments even on the bottom of the tree now! 

If we are smart we listen to our children when they say “That is how we always do it!” or “That is what we always do!” even when we have only done it that way one other time.  Your child is not just talking about the good time he had, but the fact that it meant something to him and he thinks to you too.  One of my favorite quotes is from the book The Little Prince by  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “We live not by things, but the meaning of things.”  It is not what you do or eat that is important, it is the meaning and feeling that comes with what you are doing that is so important to your child.

There are 3 important “pillars” in a family, our family values, our family norms, and our family rituals and traditions.  If we don’t take time to develop each of these pillars….we usually will run on a “default” mode of doing what is easy at the time.  Being intentional as a family is very important.

Values… what is most important to your family.  Values are what you want as a parent to pass to your children.  For some these values may center around Religion, or the value of education, or the value of respect and kindness, or the value of taking care of our earth. In order for a value to become engrained in your child there must be norms or “rules and rituals” that follow these values.  If Religion is a value, your family will attend church together, participate in family prayer, and become involved in activities which reflect your beliefs. If education is a value, your family might read together, limit screen time and have rules regarding homework and effort in school. If kindness and respect are values, your family may have norms or rules about conflict resolution, sharing, and rules around words that are spoken.

Traditions and rituals are very intentional.  These are family activities that have a purpose or meaning behind them and support your family values. Some are simply daily rituals, like bedtime routines and family dinners.  Some are weekly rituals like Friday pizza nights or movie nights.  Some occur with the season or with family milestones like the traditions of the holidays or 1st day of school pictures. The daily, weekly, and seasonal rituals and traditions tell your child what is important to your family.

Creating your own special rituals and traditions now and repeating them throughout your child’s life will help during periods of stress in a family. Faithfully repeating these rituals and traditions helps a child feel secure, provides stability, and a sense of pride and belonging to your family. Even during a family crises, the fact that a bedtime ritual or a Christmas celebration looks somewhat the same brings a sense of security and stability to a child.

Four reasons tradition is important to a family:

1.  Traditions help make life predictable.  Rituals that are followed daily, weekly, and yearly such as family dinners, nightly stories, spring picnics; holiday songs etc. helps make children feel secure.  Their world is often unpredictable—keeping things predictable at home gives security.

2.  Traditions give families a time to connect.  Sometimes we can feel unconnected when we get busy.  Family meals, stories, game nights etc. help us reconnect and start talking.  Soon we know what is going on in our children’s lives.

3.  Family traditions teach children family values.  Service work, religious ceremonies, concern for the environment and many other values can be established through family traditions and rituals.  These are values that when they are reinforced with traditional activities, your child will bring them with him to adulthood.

4.  Traditions form a family identity.  Build a family group for your child to feel connected to and this will often prevent them from trying to find other less suitable groups to identify with.  A child’s family is a huge piece of their identity.

Traditions and rituals can be very simple…it is the act of repeating them, allowing them to change with your family’s “season in life” and keeping them fun that is the key.  If something is not fun anymore, then let it go!

Don’t get hung up on creating the perfect rituals, let them happen naturally based on what your family enjoys. Many rituals and traditions just happen.  The wonderful thing about becoming your own family is that you have the opportunity to create your own traditions  and rituals from scratch.  Some you will come up with on your own, some you will borrow, and some you will discard from your past, but the traditions you repeat will become part of who your unique family is.

Some suggestions to try during the holiday season:

  1. Take a drive in pajamas to see the holiday lights.
  2. Take a hike in a local park and find some natural decorations for your tree or to make other holiday decorations.
  3. Make a homemade Christmas tree ornament.  Date it, and each year you will add to the collection.
  4. Bake Christmas cookies or Hanukkah treats and share with friends and neighbors.
  5. Draw Secret Santas in the family.  Each Secret Santa will complete a kind deed for the family member he or she drew.
  6. Have a traditional Christmas breakfast, or Christmas Eve dinner.
  7. Attend religious services together.
  8. Lay a piece of straw in the Baby Jesus’ bed each day if a child has done a good deed.
  9. Read a holiday story each night.
  10. Have a traditional Advent wreath or Advent calendar.
  11. Have a Christmas countdown chain.  Make a construction paper chain and tear one link off each day until Christmas.  Write an activity on each chain link that you will do that day.
  12. Camp out under your Christmas tree one night.
  13. Go caroling.
  14. Make a birthday cake for Jesus.
  15. String popcorn for your tree.

And the list can go on and on….share some of your favorite traditions and rituals!

Remember, family tradition endears your child to your family and establishes an everlasting family bond. The celebration, the meal, and the activities do not need to be perfect, the perfection comes from a celebration steeped in tradition and full of fun memories that draw a family together….that is perfection

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Keeping the Fun in the Holidays, and the Stress Out!


Every year when the holidays approach there is a “to do list” that can seem daunting.  The fact is, your child will enjoy the season more, and you will too, if you limit that list and some of the stress that comes with it! 

This year, promise yourself to enjoy the season and its magic with your child….here are a few suggestion that might help your level of holiday stress.  Share your tips with us too!

  1. Set priorities.  Sit down and discuss which traditions, decorations, parties truly matter to you and your family.  Sometimes more fun results from doing less!
  2. Accept help.  Consider if you really need and want to host family gatherings this year, and if so split the responsibilities with others.  Remember, a clean house only lasts a minute when you expect a houseful of guests!  Make your home presentable but not necessarily ready to pass the white glove test!
  3. Plan ahead.  Break big jobs down into small steps.  Try to be realistic about how long it takes to get things done with young children in the house and allow for the unexpected.
  4. Stop negative thoughts.  If you find yourself feeling inadequate or thinking that you are letting others down remind yourself that your little one is who is most important.  You are a Mom or Dad first!
  5. Keep a sense of humor.  Even the worst holiday disasters have the makings of great family memories.  Everything looks more perfect when looking back!
  6. Keep your child’s age and temperament in mind when planning the schedule.  Do not schedule too many special events in a row.  Try to be sure that your child has quiet time or “down time”.  Touch can calm stress in a child and you.
  7. Shop on-line. Buy the same gift for as many people as possible. (Think picture gifts…your child smiling face is the perfect gift for so many!)  Think about limiting your gift list now.  What about a family name draw? White elephant gift? Shopping takes patience and shopping with a young child takes a saint!  Try to swap babysitting.  Have a plan when you do shop, children do best when on the move.  Bring plenty of snacks and know when it is time to stop.  Be the adult, don’t melt down when your child does!
  8. Make Santa a solo event! If a visit to Santa is in the plans, do just that!  Visit Santa when your child is well rested.  Children that have entered the stranger anxiety phase, which can begin around 7 to 8 months and last into toddler hood, often don’t enjoy the Santa visit.  Read about Santa, talk about Santa, wave at Santa from a distance and then try a visit.  TRY…don’t force your child to sit on Santa’s lap if there is anxiety and tears. Stand next to Santa for the picture or sit on his lap with you holding your child.  If all fails…photo shop Santa into your picture!  www.icaughtsanta.com  Love this website!!! 
  9. Make 12 dozen of the same kind of cookie rather than 12 different types.  Concentrate on the people rather than objects.  It is more important to have fun making cookies than have beautiful cookies.
  10. Make your tree child friendly!  I am often asked if I think a tree is worth it when there are active toddlers in the house.  ABSOLUTELY, remember family traditions glue your family together.  Make your tree family friendly.  Decorate it from your child’s eye level down with safe unbreakable ornaments with plastic hooks.  Let your child explore those ornaments.  (Our tree was redecorated from 2 feet down on many days!  That is what made it so beautiful!)  You might think about anchoring the top of your tree with fishing line to the wall, which will prevent a little one from pulling it over.  A wide based tree stand is a must.
  11. Don’t expect perfection from yourself or your extended family.  Family visits are not times to reform your nieces and nephews or discuss parenting views!  Your child is your responsibility!  Any comparisons of children are not important.  If your child or you are criticized, ignore, if you or your child is complimented…enjoy!  Do not pick battles with family members during gatherings, those battles are seldom worth it to you or your child.  Be flexible!
  12. Exercise, breathe, remember to eat well and take a break each day. 
  13. Include your child in holiday activities—it creates roots, bonds, and traditions that will strengthen your family and will create joy and many memories.  Appreciate the moments, they are but a moment!

What are your tips to enjoy more and stress less???

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

 

What should be in your child’s playroom?


The Holiday Season is here and the shopping has begun!  I was in Target this past weekend, the toy choices are overwhelming and expensive!  What are the best toys for your child?  Which toys will be fun and valuable for your child’s development? It is difficult to decide what toys are the best choice!

I can remember feeling like toys in our house multiplied every night. SURELY we didn’t have THAT many stuffed animals yesterday! Too many toys results in a child who doesn’t play with anything well, they become overwhelmed with the number of toys. Parents also can fall into the trap of buying the newest flashiest toy on the market. We all love our kids, so why wouldn’t we stand in line to buy the “most popular” toy of the season? Many of these flashy toys encourage a child to play passively, using no imagination or creativity. Toys should allow a child to play in several different ways. A child should be able to decide how to play with a toy, the toy should not determine how a child plays. Play is a child’s work, it is through play that a child learns how the world works. As you make that holiday wish list, here are what I think every child needs in his playroom. You might be surprised!

  1. Blocks and construction type toys

Wooden blocks, cardboard bricks, Legos, and magnetic tiles are all great choices. Depending on your child’s age, you will see children build towers, knock towers over, sort blocks by color, create designs, make roads for cars and tracks for trains and more.

  1. Art supplies

Creative juices start flowing when a child has a blank piece of paper, crayons, paints, markers, stickers, scissors and any other item you can find in the craft aisle to help with their masterpiece. Blank paper rather than coloring books will provide more encouragement for a child to create. Children age 2 and older love to create on an easel which allows for larger muscle movement which makes drawing and painting easier.

  1. Books….lots of them!

Provide books in bins so children can see the front of them.  The front of the book will interest a child more than the words on the spine of the book on a shelf. Provide books that have flaps, pop ups, and colorful pictures. A corner with a small chair or big floor pillow encourages reading.

  1. Play kitchen supplies and other child sized house hold items like keys, phones, brooms, rakes etc.

If space allows, a play kitchen is a great investment. Play food, dishes and utensils and other child sized household items encourages great imaginative play and cooperative play with others.

  1. Doll stroller or shopping cart

All children like to push dolls, stuffed animals, and other toys around.  Toddlers and preschoolers are “gatherers” and a doll stroller or shopping cart provides a way for them to collect “treasures” on walks outside or around your home.

  1. Dress up clothes

Role play is a great way to encourage imagination and development of social skills and empathy.  Keep those Halloween costumes out all year in an easily accessible dress up box.

  1. Puzzles

Puzzles help a child learn to problem solve, develop patience, practice persistence, and develop spatial awareness.

  1. Medical kit

Play helps a child work through scary or anxiety producing experiences.  All children like to give Teddy or Baby a check up and/or shot after a visit to the doctor.

  1. Musical instruments

Children love to create music.  Drums, xylophones, tambourines, shakers all help develop rhythm and a love of music. Children exposed to music and rhythm often are more successful in Math!

  1. Tool bench

Boys and girls love to hammer and build with “tools”. Allow your child to build. This is the basis of STEM education.

  1. Tent or play house

Children love small places to hide, read, play quietly or play house, school, or camping. This play house or tent could be as simple as a large box or a blanket thrown over a card table.

  1. Dolls/stuffed animals

Playing with dolls or stuffed animals fosters empathy development. Pretend role play of Mommy and Daddy is very important.

  1. Balls

Throwing, catching, kicking are all developmental milestones.  Simple games with balls introduce cooperative play and turn taking along with fine and gross motor development.

  1. Shape sorter

This is a basic toy that will grow with your child.  Young toddlers will fill and dump, older toddlers will sort by shape and color, and often children will use it to gather other items. Another great sorting tool is your kitchen muffin tins! Have your child sort different cereals, different colored pompons, or any other item!

  1. Stacking cups

This less than $10.00 toy is a bargain!  This will last a child from 6 months through preschool.  Children bang them, stack them, pour and dump water and sand, “drink” from them and learn size and volume with them!

  1. Clay/Play-dough

Children will love to squish, roll, and create with clay. The use of hands to roll and shape creations develops fine motors skills used for writing.

  1. Pedal powered ride on toy

Learning to pedal is a developmental milestone for 2 to 3 year olds. Ride on toys get children needed outdoor time and exercise along with development of coordination.

  1. Cars, trucks, and or train

Children love toys that move. Purchase cars, trucks, and trains that are easy to handle and run on “kid power”.

  1. Farm or other toy with animals

Farm animals, dinosaurs, and/or zoo animals are a great way for children to learn about animals, habitats, and encourages imaginative play.

  1. Board games

Even preschooler can participate in board games. Board games help a child develop skills in handling winning  and losing, taking turns, and cooperative play. Board games are much more valuable than video games which do not provide as much person to person interaction.

And yes, sometimes just a large box or two, plastic containers or a few laundry baskets will provide hours of entertainment and imaginative play for your child! Toys do not need to be expensive!  Remember that a toy is only valuable if your child plays with it! Quality is more important than quantity of toys.  Often the best toys don’t come with batteries. And most important, allow your child to play freely…a child who plays well is learning!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Baby talk! Encouraging language development in your child.


Facial expressions are important in the development of language in children!

Talking to your child and using lots of animated facial expressions are important for your child’s language development!

Believe me, hearing the sweet voice of your child say “Ma Ma” or “Da Da” is one of those moments you always remember.  Later, I can remember thinking….”Maybe I should change my name, I am tired of hearing “MO-OMMMM!” Suddenly it was a two syllable word that rocked the house!  Now, I love hearing “Mom” when I get that phone call or one of the kids bursts through the door for a visit!  The fact is, language development in your child is exciting and fun, and early development is important.  Studies show us that the number of words your child hears is proportionate to the size of his or her vocabulary that is developed.  This is through direct spoken words to your child, through conversation or reading, not words heard from the TV or radio, or conversations around your child.  Some experts tell us that a parent should be saying 30,000 words per day to their child.  Wow, that is a lot of talking!  Now I tell you this as a fun fact, not to have you tally mark each word you say to your child!  I don’t want to add another task to your day, or worry to your list!  The 30,000 per day number does send the message home though that talk is important, and as parents we have to work at talking and reading to our children!  In this age of TV, computers, I-Pods and I-Pads, and smart phones; sometimes the spoken word and art of conversation is lost.  As a parent we need to bring that art of truly talking with our children back!

What can we do to foster language development in our children?

  • Talk to your child!  When your infant is looking at you or an object…talk to your child!  When your child coos, coo back…this is the start of the art of conversing.  Describe what your baby is seeing.  Talk about what you are doing during the day.  Read stories and talk about the pictures in board books.  Studies show that children that hear 30,000 words a day from birth to age 3 have better language skills at 3 but also have an academic edge still in 3rd grade…no matter the socioeconomic level!  TALK A LOT TO YOUR CHILD!  It can be the great equalizer for academic success!
  • Repeat.  This helps a child link sound and the meaning of words.  By the time a child is about 1, they have most of the sounds that put words together, they just don’t have the words!  Repetition helps a child put those sounds into words.
  • Always respond to any sound your child makes.  When your baby coos, talk back.  When your child squeals with a favorite toy, talk about how much your child likes that special toy.  When your child babbles and reaches for an item, say what the item is before you give it to your child.
  • Play taking turn games.  This teaches conversation!  Blow on your baby’s tummy and wait for his response.  Repeat it again.  Play peek-a-boo and other games that encourage taking turns in conversation…cause and effect.
  • Eye contact.  Your child needs to see your face when you are talking.  This helps your child see how the words are formed by watching your mouth.  Your smiles, facial expressions and encouragement gives your child positive reinforcement for their attempts in communicating.
  • “Motherese” is good!  The high-pitched sing-song voice most moms use to talk to their baby is good!  Babies like the pitch of this type of talk and the slow pace helps them understand better.  Teach Dad how to do it!  It tends to come more naturally to Moms.
  • Give your child the opportunity to talk.  Don’t anticipate every need, allow your child to point and make attempts to ask for what he or she wants.
  • Narrate your day.  Talk to your baby as you change a diaper, give a bath, cook a meal.  Describe what you are doing and what your child is doing.
  • Expand your child’s communication.  When your child says “dog”, you can say “Yes that is a dog!  It is a brown dog!”
  • Read.  Reading is a great opportunity to engage with your child.  Your child will learn more words and will develop a love of books.  Hearing the same book over and over helps to make language connections in your child’s brain.
  • Go on field trips!  Take your child to the grocery, the post office, on hikes…talk about what you see!  Watch your child, and see what he or she is interested in or excited about.  Talk about that rock or stick he or she picks up!
  • Use music.  Music encourages your child to pronounce words and practice putting sentences together.  Songs also help children remember things…I still can’t put things in alphabetical order without singing my A B C’s!  🙂
  • Play language games.  Point and name games like “Where is your nose?” “This is Mommy’s toes, where are your toes?”  Helps your child become
  • aware of himself and make language connections, plus it is fun!
  • Don’t worry but refer early.  There is a wide range of normal with speech development.  Don’t obsess and worry over your child’s development of speech.  Every day work on providing the opportunities to allow your child’s speech to develop.  If you have questions or concerns, the earlier you refer for evaluation, the easier most speech delays can be handled.

Language Milestones from The American Speech – Language – Hearing Association

0-3 Months

  • Baby will startle to sound
  • Quiets or smiles when you speak to him
  • Recognizes your voice
  • Smiles at you
  • Coos

4-6 Months

  • Babbles and uses sounds with p, b and m
  • Laughs
  • Makes excitement sounds and unhappy sounds
  • Makes gurgling sounds
  • Likes music

7 Months – 1 Year

  • Likes “peek-a-boo”, “patty cake”, “soo big!”
  • Uses “speech” not crying to sometimes get your attention.
  • Uses gestures like pointing, putting arms up, waving.
  • Recognizes words that you say like “cup” and other common words.
  • Starts to follow 1 step directions.
  • About the first birthday will have about 2 or 3 words like ball, ma ma, da da, dog.

1 Year – 2 Year

  • Points to pictures in a book when named.
  • Knows animal sounds.
  • Points to a few body parts when asked.
  • Can say a two word question or sentence by age 2.
  • Vocabulary expanding every month.

2 Year – 3 Year

  • Follows two step directions.
  • Has a word for almost everything.
  • Is understood most of the time by those with him often.
  • Speaks in 2 to 3 word sentences.
  • Starting to understand concepts like big and little, up and down, in and on.

When do you refer?

  • A baby who doesn’t respond to sound or who doesn’t make vocal sound.
  • A child who does not point, or wave “bye bye” at 12 months.
  • A child at 18 months that uses gestures over words to communicate.
  • A child at age 2 or older that only imitates speech and does not speak spontaneously.
  • A child at age 2 who can’t follow simple 1 or 2 step directions.
  • A child at age 2 who parents are unable to understand at least 1/2 of the child’s speech, or a 3 year old child that a parent cannot understand 3/4 of the child’s speech.
  • A 4 year old child who is not understandable by others.
  • Don’t sit and worry….refer early.  Most speech referrals are made between 15 months and 2 years of age.

Remember, infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are like little language sponges.  Talk, talk, talk, and turn that TV off!  Your child will soon be yelling “MO-OMMMMM!”….be careful what you wish for!!  🙂

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

The potty dance, M&Ms and other potty rewards!


The reward of choice at our house during potty training… one M&M for peeing, two M&Ms for pooping and Mommy always got some too!

We have talked about when to start potty training, how to “ditch the diapers” and get moving on the process, what to do with some “potty pitfalls” and a technique to help a resistant trainer…now, for the question your toddler will think is the most important…“What do I get when I potty?”  

As a parent, we quickly learn that children respond to reinforcement.  We can encourage behavior that we like with reinforcement, and unintentionally, we can encourage behavior we don’t like with reinforcement!  Rewards or reinforcement come in many different forms and different ones work for different kids!

The first thing to remember about children is that your attention is the biggest reward or incentive to a child.  That attention is so important in your child’s development.  This is the important part, attention is attention to a child.   Negative attention, lots of yelling, words, emotion and time spent on a negative behavior will probably increase that behavior!  So lots of yelling, words, emotion and time spent on potty accidents or pottying resistance will increase that type of behavior.  Ignoring or giving very little attention to potty accidents or pottying resistance will decrease that type of behavior.

So let’s talk about some incentives that have worked for toddlers that are working on that huge task of potty training.

  • Positive attention.  Hugs, words of praise, clapping, high fives, song singing, and yes the potty dance.  A little dance celebrating that poop or pee in the potty!
  • Stickers.  Many children after the age of 2 respond well to stickers and a sticker chart.  Let your child pick out stickers at the store and place that sticker on a chart when your child sits on the potty at first, and then later as they go poop or pee.  Some children prefer to “wear” their sticker, or even get to wear one and place one on the chart too.
  • Treats.  M & Ms were the treat of choice in my house with potty training.  As I have said, I used them to reward myself too for the success!  Again, you would start out rewarding for sitting on the potty and then eventually for going potty.  Other suggestions would be raisins, marshmallows, or any other treat that your child would not receive routinely.  Sometimes a jar of these treats placed in plain view is a motivator for children.
  • Dye the toilet water.  Put a few drops of red or blue food coloring in the water, when your child pees…wow it changes to orange or green!  A motivator for learning to pee on the toilet!  Also helpful when little boys are learning to aim a bit better.  A handful of Cheerios as targets also work.
  • Stamps.  Some children are more excited about stamps than stickers.  Put a stamp on your child’s hand, cheek, tummy, let them decide!  The problem may be convincing them to wash them off in the tub!
  • Coloring book.  Pick out a coloring book together.  Every time your child has success, let him color a page.
  • Marbles or coins.  Every time your child is successful, let him place a marble or coin in a jar.  After a certain number of marbles or coins, he gets a prize.  This works well for a child that has been progressing in potty training and is trying to go several days without accidents.  Not a good choice for the very start when children need an immediate reinforcement every time there is a success.

I know there are other incentives or reinforcements that have worked.  The point is, your child has to think the reward has value to him and it must be a reward and not a bribe.  A bribe is given before the potty success…a reward is given after a potty success.  Always reward, don’t bribe.  Rewards that are temporary also seem to be more effective too.  The sticker will be taken off, the stamp washes off, the candy is eaten…..this gives incentive to get another!

All of us respond well to positive reinforcement.  All of us like to be rewarded.  Find one that works for your child and your potty training experience will be a little easier.  It might be nice to find one for yourself too….wish they would have had peanut butter M & Ms when I was potty training my kids!

Share a potty training incentive that worked for you and your child!!  We all are in this together.  🙂

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Tell the people you love, “You rock!”


Don’t just tell your kids they “rock”…tell them why!

A little “Throw back Thursday”…..a post that helps us to remember to tell those we love the most why we do!  Happy Thursday!

I was getting ready to mail a card to my college aged kids the other day.  I try to send a “snail mail” card every couple of weeks.  I have a lot of contact with my college kids by texting and cell phones, but there is something about that written piece of mail in a mailbox that I think kids still love.  The cards I send usually are “miss you” or “hang in there” or just “love you” with a little bit of news and maybe a few dollars just because.  As I was writing a quick note on one of the cards I had purchased, I read it again.  It was simply “you rock”.  Nice thought…because my kids do rock…but the more I thought about it, I realized that I often tell them how proud I am, or that I love them, or that they are great but I don’t often tell them what specifically makes them so wonderful!   I then wrote why my daughter “rocked”; the things that were special and unique about her that I loved.  I received a text later thanking me for the card and saying it would be one she would “save forever.” (Not even a mention of the money!) 🙂

How often do we give our kids and other special people in our lives compliments, but have no specifics, just words?  Studies show us that compliments that specifically tell our children what they are doing is right or what is special about them helps them build high self-esteem.  It is nice to hear that you are a good kid, but better to hear why.  I thought about myself, it is great when I hear “I love you” but better when someone tells me what about me they love.

So, I challenge all of us this next week to take a moment and write or say why those special people in our lives are so great.  What makes you proud of them?  Why is your child or spouse so special?  What are some of your favorite qualities in your loved ones?  Let’s look at our partners and kids this next week and truly tell them why “they rock!”

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

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