Toddlers , eh?

My baby has become a fully-fledged toddler. Now she has been two since April, but what I mean is that she is at that delightful ‘no I wont!’, ‘do it myself!’, and ‘I WANT to!’ stage – all with the accompanying meltdowns when she (usually) doesn’t get her way. She gets over her tantrums fairly quickly but I am all about avoiding them in the first place!

It is no accident that ‘the toddler years’ have had volumes written about them, and we need all the information we can get to keep the battleground as even as possible! Yet we still struggle (well at least I do ) with the daily hassles that doing nearly everything with a toddler can bring. So I am writing down a few techniques that I use not only for the purpose of this blog but also to refresh my own memory.

Time:

Whether it is the morning rush, heading out on a play-date or picking up the siblings from school, give yourself at least double the time. Any parents from my children’s school could tell you that I am nearly always making a mad dash to get there before the bell rings! Why? Because I still (somehow..) forget that jumping into the car and making the five minute journey is no longer an option. I need to add on 10 minute wake up and cuddle time (after nap), 3 minute change inevitable ‘stinky nappy’ time, 2 minute ‘explain what we are doing next’ time, and a good 15 minute put on ‘mine own’ shoes/coat time. So whereas I used to prepare for a 1.40pm pick up at 1.25pm, I really need to begin the process at 1.00pm. Next week I’ll be better I swear.

Independence:

As time consuming as it is, letting toddlers do what they can on their own is not only brilliant for their personal development, it can also take the angst out of trying to get things done. Rather than battling them into their coats or hurrying them through a meal they don’t like, encourage some independence. For example, my little girl is growing less and less appreciative of naptime, manifesting in a regular ‘I AM NOT GOING FOR A NAP’. So today, as she was protesting all the way up the stairs, I finally said, ‘can you climb into your cot (*) on your own?’ Well she was delighted to show off her skills and once in was happy to have a song and snuggle down. Result! So, if they can do it, let them do it. If toddlers have an element of control of the situation they will be far happier to go along with the plan.

'I DO IT!'

‘I DO IT!’

Communication:

Talk to your toddler. Tell them the whys and wherefores of what you want them to do before it becomes an issue.They may not necessarily understand it but if you take the time to say e.g. ‘we are getting dressed because we have to go to the shops and then when we get home we will have a story’, at least you are explaining the reason why; just remember to read the story when you get home. Which handily leads on to my next point.

Don’t cut corners:

When all the ‘I won’ts’ start, it can become increasingly tempting to skip a few of the normal steps that lead to a happy day. This is because (a) you are exhauted from the constant ‘toddlering’ and (b) you want to grapple back some of your own time as much as possible. The other day for example after I had gotten her into the cot I sang her a quick song and got ready to leave. Normally I sing two songs but I had loads to do so thought one would suffice. She called me out on it, as is a toddler’s wont, and after trying in vain to wriggle out of it, I inevitably sang the second song – I saved no time and in fact it cost me more time! So if you have an established routine, stick to it even if it takes a little longer than normal.

Count to 10:

When all you really want to do is fall to the floor screaming and crying that ‘no it is indeed not fair’ – step aside! Removing yourself and counting to ten when either yourself or your toddler is about to kick off is the best way to keep calm – the power of deep breathing is phenomenal in these cases too.

So when I remember to use these methods we get along like a house on fire. Hopefully it will help you too!

Thanks for reading

Aisling

(*) The side of the cot is put up after she climbs in and I am in no way advocating letting your children climb where it could be dangerous!

I love feedback . Please feel free to add any thoughts or insights in comments below.

Tackling Tantrums

 

Parents or not, we are all aware and have witnessed at least one tantrum in our lives. As parents, we research the cause of tantrums and learn how to handle them so that we won’t be that embarrassed mum in the shop. Right?!?

Have you noticed that your children are more prone to tantrums since school/creche closed for Summer, or when you head off on your long-awaited two week relaxing summer holiday? Summer holidays change the routine, along with us being a little more relaxed, and so can be the perfect recipe for tantruming hell! My three children have been melting down on a regular basis (and it is not just from the heat), sometimes one at a time, but we have had a few glorious ‘all together now’s too. So I have started trying to anticipate and avoid the tantrums rather than the end result of us all marching into separate rooms and slamming the doors.

Here’s my ‘how to’:-

  • Television: I am all for a bit of television, but before the television goes on I tell them (a) that they must agree between themselves what they are watching or it goes off, (b) the number of cartoons they can watch, usually either a short movie or three cartoons, (c) that the television is going off after the last cartoon (with a reminder before it starts). While making these points, I make sure that the children look at me and verbally agree to each, as opposed to nodding whilst staring at the tv or remote!
  • Give them a plan: If we are staying home for the day, then I try and break it up between indoors and outdoors, so they might play on their bikes first time outside and then have a teddy-bears picnic next time – then they might do some drawing, reading or play lego indoors. I don’t generally have time to do these things with them, but I find suggesting activities to them helps to limit the bickering and ‘I’m bored’s that can result in leaving them to it!
  • Anticipate snacks: The lack of routine in the summer means meals can be delayed or even forgotten. So after breakfast I have taken to filling a plastic jug with water and putting it and some beakers beside the fruit bowl giving them easy and self-led access to drinks and fruit all day. I am lucky enough to have a child old enough to pour drinks for the others but even if your children are too young, just having the stuff ready gives you a chance to beat them to the hunger/thirst, and a chance to remember to feed them!
  • Wait and see: Don’t agree to anything until you have thought it through. So when asked to go the beach/ playground/a walk, tell them it depends on the weather, or their behaviour, or enough time. Don’t agree and then change plans due to the above conditions – children are very definite people – if you tell them you are going to do something, then I would advise that you do it.
  • The element of surprise: If you can sense tensions rising, have a trick up your sleeve; for example, ‘oh I forgot, it’s time for ice-creams / a trip to the library / this new book / or even baking’. Never underestimate the power of distraction but make sure it is something that suits you too!
  • Be prepared: When you make a plan for the day, tell the children about it and get them to agree – then warn them that any bad behaviour will halt those activities. During the day, if you sense things are going to kick off, warn them again and carry through with the threat if needs be.

Tantrums are an unfortunate and unavoidable part of childhood but hopefully these tips will help keep them to a minimum, and make for a relaxing summer all round.

I love feedback so please leave any thoughts or comments below.

Thanks for reading,

Aisling

 

No, is ok.

2011-11-27 14.39.46Worryingly, I think disciplining children is an area where our modern society falters. Obviously we know that corporal punishment does not work. In my opinion, hitting or slapping your child as a form of discipline is unnesscessary and ineffective. However, the ‘softly, softly’ approach can lead to precocious, unmannerly and downright rude children – traits we wouldn’t find endearing in anyone, let alone in our children.

I guess what I am suggesting is to ‘spare the rod’ but don’t ‘spoil the child’. I have always firmly believed that I would never, ever hit my children. Then one day last Summer, I was pushed to the limit and instinctively slapped my child across the face. They were stunned and I was devastated. I couldn’t believe that I had lost control and done the one thing I always swore blind I would never do. I can now appreciate how people resort to the occasional slap – I dont agree with it, but I absolutely understand it. Our children will test us and push us to the brink, and we need to have disciplinary measures in place so that they don’t push us over the edge. Once you lose control of your temper, you lose control of the situation.

So at what age do you start to discipline your little one? As the title suggests, it is okay to say ‘no’ to your baby. When your baby throws a toy, upends his dinner or hits another child, you act. You may be reading this thinking ‘but that is just what babies do, I can’t be giving out to them all the time’. Yes, these are all examples of typical infant behaviour. They are testing their boundaries and it is up to us as their parents and guardians to teach them these boundaries. Taking steps to encourage good behaviour in your infant will help you immeasurably during the terrible-twos (a misnomer by the way, as this joyful period in your child’s life usually starts around 18 months), and all the way through childhood. Encouraging good behaviour from an early age will stand to your child their entire life.

The main mistake we make in disciplining our children is biting their heads off for something one day, and then letting that exact thing slide the very next day. Whatever the behaviour you are trying to correct, you must (and this is essential) always use the same measures every time your child misbehaves. There are various methods of disciplining children but here are some general ‘do’s and don’ts’ that may help you along the way.

Do:

  1. Say No: it is not a bad word and it is important for your child to hear it when their behaviour is unacceptable.
  2. Count to 10: you want to be calm when dealing with the situation so as to avoid overdoing it.
  3. Explain why: there is no point in correcting your child if they don’t understand what they did wrong.
  4. Act immediately: children live in the present – berating them for something they did last night is a waste of time.
  5. Use positivity: when telling them not to hit Sean, for example, offer them a more positive solution
  6. Ensure the punishment meets the crime: locking them in the attic for ripping a book may be a little extreme!
  7. Reassure while correcting: your child needs to know they can come to you with the worst news so reassure them that, although what they did was wrong, you understand their actions. They’ll still need to be corrected however!
  8. Follow through: whatever the punishment is, follow through and then move on.
  9. Be consistent: correct your child every time they need correcting, and not just when you have had enough.

Don’t:

  1. Make excuses: no matter where the behaviour stems from, it still needs to be corrected.
  2. Correct your child in front of their peers: take your child aside to correct them; if you do it in front of their mates, they will be so embarassed they will not hear what you are saying.
  3. Fly off the handle: you will inevitably end up going over the top, so calm down first.
  4. Retread old ground: once you have dealt with them, assume your child has learnt their lesson and stop referring to it – all this will do is undermine their self-confidence.
  5. Make hollow threats: the one way to make a mockery of your discipline is to threaten something that you have no intention of doing.
  6. Give mixed messages: shouting at them that it is not okay to shout for example!

There is an onus on us to help our children to become adults that will enhance the society we live in. Discipline is an absolute must if we are even attempting to achieve this.

 

Thanks for reading

Aisling

I love feedback, please leave any thoughts and comments below.

 

 

 

A Spoonful of Sugar

So following on from feedback from one of my readers, I was asked if I could help with a specific problem of giving toddlers medicine. Fun times!!

When our child is prescribed medicine, we usually show it to them and tell them that it will make them feel better, and it is just for them. In my general experience, they take it without much fuss as medicine these days is much, much sweeter then the cod liver oil of the 70’s! However, the novelty of taking medicine can wear off pretty quickly and you end up with a little toddler who absolutely refuses, point blank, to entertain the idea of co-operating. Instead, said toddler will in fact, run, hide and clamp their mouth shut (often whilst kicking..) until you feel like self-medicating with a stiff drink!! 😉

What you might want to do, is to try to prevent the medicine from becoming an issue in the first place. If you know that your toddler will inevitably react as above, then do not tell them that they need medicine. Also, it’s best to try to avoid a potential bribery situation, as this is not a great life lesson for your toddler.

So here is what I suggest – invest in a few novelty spoons, which you only use when your children are sick. When it is time to administer their medicine, stay calm, casually get the bottle, pour medicine onto a novelty spoon and then give it to them. If that doesn’t work, let them administer their own medicine – pour it into the spoon and allow them to give it to themselves. To avoid spills, put small amount into a big spoon i.e 2.5mls in 5ml spoon, and so on. Still having problems? OK, try putting the medicine into a small amount of juice or ice cream, and again allow them to feed it to themselves.

If you have tried all these and are still having no joy, make up some jelly, pour it into ice cube moulds and add prescribed amount of medicine into each mould. A small portion of jelly every four hours (or whatever prescribed time) is great ‘medicine’ for whatever ails you! Just make sure to keep the jelly away from  where little ones might grab it themselves!

Hope this helps
Thanks for reading
Aisling

I love feedback, please leave any thoughts and comments below.

Manners Matter

20130609_130951It seems to me these days that manners are almost politically incorrect. There is a feeling that you may harm your child’s sense of themselves if you expect them to show a degree of courtesey. In a word, balderdash!

Ok I know that I am coming on a bit strong, but I am passionate about teaching children manners from an early age. Why? Because you are giving them the cement that holds the bricks of their independence, self-confidence, and overall happiness together!

Now, I am not talking ‘being seen and not heard’ here, or ‘only speaking when spoken to’, or even adressing all adults as ‘sir’ or ‘madam’. I am only delighted that these restrictive ‘manners’ are a thing of the past. I am talking about the manner in which your children deport themselves.

We all, at some stage, ask our children to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ – surely that is enough?! But, what would happen if we extended the list a little bit to include: Not interupting, taking turns, asking to be excused from the table, not shouting and apologising. How could this help them?

It helps your children to learn patience (not a gift that comes naturally to them), to appreciate others, to learn to listen, to respect others, and it enhances their ability to socialise. With these values, your child will develop into a happy, self-led and confident individual.

It also helps you to grow in confidence as a family – not constantly shouting each other down or bickering about the small stuff. It helps you enjoy each others company, and saves the chore of running around after unmannerly children!
It can help you to conquer (and perhaps even avoid altogether) the bigger problems that challenging behviour and bad communication can bring to family life.

So how do we encourage good manners in our children? Well, get them to follow your lead! As tempting as it might be, do not interrupt your children when they are telling you a story/singing a song/cracking a (rarely funny..) joke for the 100th time!! Take turns, not only during play, but also whilst having conversations about anything and everything. Dine together as often as you can and stay at the table until everyone is finished. Avoid shouting as much as possible – not easy in our house! Admit when you are wrong and apologise. Finally, always say please and thank you to each other.. 😉

Children do as they see – if you bring your child up with respect, appreciation and patience, they will learn to live with respect, appreciation and patience.
By encouraging basic good manners, you are not hindering their sense of self; you are, in fact, giving them the tools to be all that they can be!

Thanks for reading.
Aisling

I love feedback, please leave any thoughts and comments below.

Please get dressed!

'Wanna wear this!'

‘Wanna wear this!’

So you know the way your little one used to love it when you dressed them and would happily sit patiently whilst you did up their buttons and pulled up their tights and then suddenly one day that just stops? In their place you get a little demon who runs screaming from any and all clothes.This is simply a sign that your child is ready to take on the task of getting themselves dressed.

So first rule of engagement is to give yourself time and lots of it.If it usually takes 40 minutes to get dressed and out the door give yourself 80 minutes.

Plan and prepare clothes for next day, take out three outfits and then let your child select which one they would like

(it really does not matter if they mismatch their clothes they are infants!).

 

Lay out the clothes where your child can reach them themselves Remind your tot that they are the clothes they will be wearing tomorrow, with emphasis on what a great outfit they picked out for themselves.

The next morning allow your tot to dress themselves, reassuring them that you will help with any tricky bits.

Leave the room and let them get on with it, pop back in and offer assistance and continue this until you are both dressed 😉

Avoid any flash points such as saying ‘hurry up we will be late’ – you have given yourself extra time to avoid this,

or if your child point blank refuses to dress, remove any impetus on getting dressed, have breakfast first and then get dressed, or say ‘come help me get dressed first and then we will do you’ .

When your tot is dressed give lots of praise and encouragement;  show pride and appreciation for  the effort they have put in.

Before you leave the house take time to look in the mirror and see how smart/pretty/fabulous they look and remind them that they did it by themselves.

Encouraging children to be self-led really does take the angst and stress out of lots of childhood hurdles whilst creating confident and self-assured children.

So give it a go and let me know how you get on!

Thanks for reading

Aisling

I love feedback, please leave any thoughts and comments below.

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