raisingkidswithlove

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

Even a little bit of lead exposure is too much in children!


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What do you know about lead screening in children?  Many parents think that lead exposure is a thing of the past.  It is true that the risk of lead poisoning in children has improved over the years with removal of lead from gasoline, paint, and other environmental improvements, but the fact is many of our children are still at risk.  Lead affects nearly every bodily system and is especially harmful to the developing brain in unborn children and young children.  Even low levels of lead in the blood can affect IQ and academic achievement so it is important that we screen children who are at risk.

In the past, lead levels in children below 10 were not of concern.  Recently the Center for Disease Control has lowered that level of concern to 5.  This allows parents and health care providers to address the lead exposure quickly and prevent higher levels and damage to a child’s developing brain.  The recommendation for chelation (treatment to remove lead from the blood) remains the same.  This therapy may be provided when a child’s blood test results show lead at 45 micrograms per deciliter or more.  However, we know that even small amounts of lead can be a problem, and there are steps parents can take to reduce a child’s exposure.

What can you do?  What child should be screened?

  1. Share with your child’s health care provider if your home was built before 1978.  There are lead testing kits that can be obtained from the local health department to test if your home has lead paint and dust.
  2. Test your home prior to doing renovation like sanding, painting, or other repair that could disturb paint.
  3. If you see dust or paint chips on window sills or other areas due to peeling paint, dust the areas frequently with a damp cloth. Clean your home regularly damp mopping frequently.
  4. Don’t let your child play in the dirt next to an older home, plant grass in bare areas in the yard.
  5. Remove shoes when you come in the home to prevent tracking in dirt with lead.
  6. Wash hands before eating and provide a healthy diet. Children who eat a healthy diet absorb less lead.
  7. If you live in an older home, run your tap water for a few minutes before using it to cook or drink or mix formula.

The only way you can know if your child’s lead level may be elevated is with a blood test. Your child usually will have no symptoms of lead exposure.  If you are concerned that your child may have lead exposure, especially if you live in a home built before 1978, talk to your doctor about screening.  Children often are screened starting at about the 9 month checkup.  Be your child’s advocate!  Learn about how to protect your child from lead exposure, because even a little is too much.   For more information visit http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/ and www.healthychildren.org.

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

 

 

“Sleep like a baby” Really?


Establishing a calming routine before bed is important!

When I brought our oldest Corri home from the hospital, I thought I knew about the sleep patterns of infants.  After all, I had the degrees to prove that I was an “educated” Mom!  The truth is, nothing can prepare you for the lack of sleep that new parents usually experience.  Quickly my plans to reorganize my closets during Corri’s long daytime naps (don’t newborns sleep all the time?) went by the way side.  Yes, newborns DO sleep a lot…just in very short intervals.  Corri never slept long enough for any reorganization of closets, and when she did sleep I was too tired to reorganize.  Oh, the lessons of a new parent!

Sleep is VERY important for our babies, and for you!  There are some sleep tips for new parents that will help your baby “learn” to sleep and establish good patterns for the future.  I firmly believe that our children are largely sleep deprived because of our busy schedules.  Good sleep is essential for healthy children, clear through the teen years!  Many of the healthy sleep habits you establish with your young children will result in healthy sleep habits for a lifetime.

The first 3 months of a baby’s life there is no real routine.  Anything that you read that tells you that you can establish or “force” routine at this age is mistaken.  I do not think that baby  sleep training books are valuable at this age, and they can really be destructive to your baby’s establishment of good sleep habits.  Your job as a parent during the first year is to help your baby realize that the world is a great place!  When your baby cries, you need to respond.  Baby will quickly learn to trust you and feel loved.  You cannot spoil a newborn!  You CAN spoil an older child, but that discussion is for another day!

Newborn sleep patterns are different from adults.  They have sleep cycles that are much shorter than ours, and have longer patterns of active sleep rather than deep sleep, especially in the first 3 months.  Parents often complain that their infant will “cat nap” .  This is a fairly normal pattern during the first 3 months of life.  Very young infants do not know how to self soothe either.  Those skills develop after the first 3 months also.  Here are a few tips that will help establish good sleep habits for the future.  Remember, there is light at the end of the tunnel, life will become easier after the first few months.

1.  Know your baby’s sleep cues…do not let your baby become over tired.

Most parents in the beginning have a bit of a difficult time learning sleep cues.  Newborn babies should not be up longer than an hour and a half to two hours maximum.  If your baby becomes overly tired, it is much more difficult for your baby to sleep!  Look for your baby to rub at his or her eyes, begin to blank stare and not engage, yawn, and fuss.  When you see some cues, take a look at the length of time your baby has been awake.  The next time your baby is awake, start the process of putting him or her down for a nap 15 minutes earlier.  This way you never miss the window of opportunity, an overstimulated baby does not sleep well.  You often will feel like all you have time for is a feeding, a diaper change, a small amount of interaction and then your baby is ready to sleep again!

2.  Swaddle your baby.

Newborns until the end of the 4th month have a reflex that causes them to startle.  You often will see your baby twitch, grimace, have a sweet sleep grin and jump during the early active sleep pattern.  The twitching and jumping or moro reflex as it is called, will wake your baby.  If you swaddle using a light blanket or a swaddle sleep sack, your baby will not wake with a startle as often and will feel more secure.   Many moms and dads will tell me their baby does not like the swaddle.  I encourage you to try it again.  Try swaddling your baby before a nursing or feeding, or before you begin to rock your child to calm.  Most of the time babies will relax into the swaddle and love it!  They look like a cute baby burrito!

3.  Try white noise.

Babies heard white noise inside mom’s womb during the entire pregnancy.  This sound is very calming to a newborn.  My 2nd daughter loved the sound of a blow dryer.  She was a fussy baby, and quickly my blow dryer became part of the decor of my family room.  Now, there are white noise machines, white noise phone apps, and white noise CDs that parents swear by, a much better look than the blow dryer!  White noise can be part of a “switch” that helps soothe a fussy baby.  You might even try getting your face down by your baby’s ear and “shsh shsh shsh”, which will work too.

4.  Provide day and night light rhythm. 

Many newborns get their days and nights mixed up.  There is nothing worse than an infant that sleeps well during the day and is up all night!  Moms often notice that babies before birth are more active at night too!  To help your baby learn the day and night pattern, keep the daytime hours light with normal noise patterns in your home.  Light on our eyes helps to cue our bodies to when it is time to be awake and when it is time to be asleep.  That is part of the reason we feel so sleepy during the gloom of dark winter days!  Stand in front of a window with your baby and expose your baby to natural light.  Do not darken the rooms for your baby to nap during the day and keep regular noise in the house.  No tip toeing!  In the evening, start to dim lights and keep things calm and quiet about an hour before “bedtime”.  Then with every nighttime feeding keep the room dark, do not change the diaper unless it is dirty, and do not interact.  Just feed your baby and put back to bed.  Eventually your baby will learn the difference between day and night and sleep more soundly and longer during the night hours.  This pattern of day and night will help older children and adults fall to sleep more easily too!

5.  Wake your baby to eat during the day.

Do not let your baby sleep longer than 3 hours during the day.  Wake your baby to eat, and unless your doctor advises you differently, never wake a sleeping baby at night!  You want your baby to receive most of their nutrition during the waking hours, and less at night.

6.  Move with your baby!

Movement will calm a baby to sleep.  Rocking, swinging, and wearing your baby will all help lull your little one into a deep sleep pattern.  Rocking to sleep is fine in the early months.  Many parents have a hard time transitioning from the swing or arms to bed without the baby waking.  Do the limp arm test!  Remember that babies have a very active sleep pattern before they move into a deep sleep.  If you try to transfer when your little one is still grimacing, sleep grinning, or you see rapid eye movement under closed eye lids, most likely your baby will wake quickly.   Rock or provide movement until your baby has transitioned from the active sleep pattern to a deep sleep.  You will be able to pick up your baby’s arm and feel that it is limp.  When you see that, then it is much easier to place your baby in the crib and your baby stay asleep.

7.  Use a pacifier.

Babies need to suck many times to sleep soundly.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using a pacifier at sleep as a deterrent to SIDS.  Sucking calms a baby.  A baby that tends to become over stimulated easily often needs more suck time.  I am a big believer in the pacifier or a thumb or finger sucker resulting in a calm baby.  We can worry about the habit later!

8.  Establish a sleep routine.

The earlier your baby connects routine with sleep the better.  Do the same thing every time you put your baby to bed and quickly your child will connect those activities with sleep.  This pattern will develop good sleep patterns all the way to adulthood!  So, plan the feeding, bathing, massage, rocking, singing, reading pattern that works for you!  Keep the routine simple and repeatable.  The bedtime or nap time routine should not be longer than about 20 minutes.  You can establish a bedtime for your baby even though you know you will be up again!  Just treat every feeding after “bedtime” as a night-time feeding.  Children in general are wired early to bed early to rise!  Have an early bedtime for a good sleeper and for you to have an evening of “adult time”.

9.  Do not let your baby “cry it out” until after 6 months.

The first 6 months parents need to respond to a crying baby at night.  After 6 months, most babies are developmentally ready to sleep a stretch through the night. When you are emotionally ready and after your baby is at least 6 months old, you can do the “baby shuffle” and check on your baby every 5 to 10 minutes without picking your baby up.  Comfort your baby with a “shh” go to sleep, a pat and then leave.  The first night you may be “shuffling” in and out of the nursery for an hour or more. The 2nd night will be shorter and usually by the 3rd or 4th night your baby will comfort to sleep on his or her own.  You must be consistent and not give in.  Soon you will put a drowsy baby to bed and your baby will be able to fall asleep without your assistance!

10.  Even with doing all the “right things” babies have sleep disturbances.

Children will have periods of sleep disturbances through all developmental stages.  With each new skill a baby learns, example rolling over, there will often be a sleep pattern disturbance.  Babies like to practice at night!  There is also teething, separation anxiety, illness….many reasons you will see disturbances even when you are doing all the right things in establishing good sleep patterns.  Always go back to the basics each time.  Good sleep is essential! Teaching healthy sleep patterns is a huge gift to your child, and you!

Soon you will be getting longer stretches of sleep….until those darn teen years creep up and you find yourself waiting up for your child!  That is another issue another day!  🙂

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

I love these sleep resources:

Sleep What Every Parent Needs to Know

American Academy of Pediatrics Rachel Y. Moon, MD, FAAP Editor in Chief

The No-Cry Sleep Solution 

Elizabeth Pantley

The Happiest Baby on the Block

Dr. Harvey Karp

Sweet Dreams

Paul M Fleiss, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P

Tylenol or acetaminophen with vaccines…should you or shouldn’t you?


Think twice before giving your child Tylenol or acetaminophen BEFORE their shots!

When my kids were little, a dose of Tylenol or acetaminophen (generic Tylenol) was just routine either immediately before a vaccine or immediately after.  I hated to see my baby fussy and feverish after a vaccine, so I was armed with Tylenol before every shot.   I often gave that advice to parents of children receiving routine vaccines too.  Acetaminophen is a great choice for kids who are not feeling well and are uncomfortable during an illness with fever or are experiencing pain from teething or ear infections. It turns out that it might not be a good choice for kids routinely before or after vaccines.  A  study published in 2009  tells us that preventing the fever that often happens with vaccines may also prevent  some of the immune response of your child.  Fever is a body’s reaction to a virus or bacteria and a fever after vaccines shows that the vaccine is working!  That vaccine has sent a message to your child’s body to build immunity to that disease; so we don’t want to stop that immune response with acetaminophen or Tylenol.

Easier said than done, right?  It is hard for a parent to see their child uncomfortable after a vaccine and fever causes anxiety in many parents.  However, after reading the results of the study, it might be easier for parents to skip that Tylenol!  The study published in The Lancet had these results:

  • High fevers were uncommon in infants after vaccines.  Less than 1% had a fever over 103.
  • Low-grade fevers or temperatures around 100 were very common.  42% of babies that received Tylenol and 66% of babies who did not have Tylenol developed a low-grade fever.
  • Babies who were given Tylenol had a lower immune response to the vaccine.  The study found lower concentrations of antibodies in those babies that had received Tylenol routinely.

Remember, a fever is a body’s natural response to a vaccine…we want your child to develop antibodies to the disease we are trying to prevent with the vaccine.  The fever shows us the vaccine is working!  We don’t want to use a medicine that might prevent the vaccine from doing its job!  So, my advice is:

  • Don’t give Tylenol or acetaminophen before your child receives vaccines.  This may decrease your child’s immune response.  A low-grade fever is a normal response to a vaccine.
  • Give Tylenol or acetaminophen only if your child is very fussy, seems uncomfortable or has a fever of 101 or higher after a vaccine.  Mom and Dad, you know your child best…you can tell if they are not feeling well after a vaccine!
  • Fever causes fear for many parents, I hated fevers in my kids too!  Have a conversation with your child’s pediatrician about ways to make your child comfortable after vaccines and what his or her recommendation is for treating fever after a vaccine.

If you have given Tylenol routinely for your child’s shots, as I did, don’t worry!  This study did not prove that these babies did not develop immunity to the disease and were unprotected, it only showed that Tylenol or acetaminophen resulted in a decreased immune response.  After learning this, my advice is:  let your child’s body do its job…wait on the Tylenol and comfort your baby with lots of snuggles and TLC those first 24 to 48 hours after shots.  Give the Tylenol or acetaminophen only when necessary.

As with many parenting tips, things change as we learn new information.  Changing recommendations doesn’t mean we had been doing anything wrong in the past; we are now just doing things more correctly based on new information.  So, think twice before you reach for the acetaminophen or Tylenol routinely before or after shots…use it only when really needed!

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

Vaccines….are they safe? Do they work?


Vaccines do work!  Don’t wait…vaccinate!

How Can a Parent Decide if Vaccines are Safe?

Every day parents are bombarded with information from doctors, nurses, TV hosts, books and the list goes on.  Parents are best served by listening to a team of experts.  We must trust the health care system that has given us the tools to prevent diseases that were so prevalent in children just a few years ago.  Committees of expert scientists, clinicians and health care providers serve on the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), the Infectious Diseases Society of America and other groups.  These experts look at scientific studies to see if they are performed carefully, are published in reputable journals and can be reproduced.  Studies that do not meet these standards are not considered reliable.  These groups have pulled vaccines in the past that have been determined to have unsafe side effects or side effects that outweigh the benefit of the vaccine.  The groups have also repeatedly looked at studies regarding vaccines and asthma, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, SIDS and autism.  No studies have shown a reliable causal relationship between vaccines and these illnesses.  Be careful what you read…be sure it is reliable!

How vaccines work:

  1. A vaccine is usually given by a shot.  At this time, there is one oral vaccine for rotavirus.
  2. The vaccine contains a dead or weakened germ that will NOT cause the disease.
  3. The body makes antibodies to fight the weak or dead germs in the vaccine.
  4. These antibodies practice on the weak germs so when the real strong disease germs, which are still out there, enter the child’s body the ready antibodies will know how to destroy them and the child will not become sick.
  5. Antibodies fight infectious diseases and usually stay in a person’s system even after the disease is gone to protect him or her from getting sick again–that is immunity.
  6. Newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies from their mothers—this only lasts about a year.  The timing of the vaccine schedule is such that a child will develop immunity to a disease before he or she is most vulnerable.
  7. Immunizations protect your child and the community—herd immunity.  Herd immunity protects unborn children, the elderly whose immunity may have waned and babies that are not yet fully immunized.
  8. When you choose to immunize your child and follow the recommended guidelines, your child is protected from diseases that can cause death, disability, or severe illness and even though we don’t often see these diseases; they are still out there today!

What About Side Effects?

If your definition of  safety is something that does not have any side effects–then a vaccine is not 100% safe.   All vaccines have side effects, but most of them are very mild.  This might include a fever, soreness, redness or swelling at the vaccine site, and fussiness.  Some side effects are more severe, but these are much rarer.  Some parents ask if it would be safer to avoid the vaccine and the possible side effects.  This is a choice that also has side effects, ones that are much more serious.  The risk of your child being infected with the disease the vaccine prevents is greater than the risk of the serious side effects.

I Never See These Diseases, Why Get a Vaccine?

Many of the diseases that vaccines prevent are common.  Pertussis or whooping cough is a very common disease that if your child is not immunized against–they are very likely to become ill with the disease.  This is a serious disease especially in infants and the elderly.  Last year in the Indianapolis area, there were large pockets of whooping cough outbreaks in several schools.

Many of the diseases could become common again.  H-flu diseases such as meningitis and measles mumps and rubella have all “popped up” in areas where the immunization rates have fallen.  A measles outbreak in the Indianapolis area during the Super Bowl a few winters ago and a more recent outbreak beginning in Disneyland both demonstrated how contagious this disease is and how quickly the disease can spread among children and adults who are not fully immunized.

Some diseases such as polio and diphtheria have essentially been eliminated from this country, but still occur in other countries.  We are a small world with many people traveling internationally; your child can be exposed to these diseases by traveling or by people who have entered this country.

Following the recommended immunization schedule is one of the best decisions you can make for your child’s health.  Don’t wait, vaccinate!

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

Childproofing 101


childproofing

Staying ahead of kids in order to keep the house safe is no easy task….some days I would have been better off wrapping my four in bubble wrap!  

New parents have so much to do!  It seems the “to do” list is never-ending.  At the top of every parent’s “to do” list should be child proofing.  Keeping your precious little one safe is a #1 priority, and no simple task.   Children are curious, quick, and smart!  Just when you think that you have your child protected, you find your child standing in the center of the kitchen table swinging from the overhead light….or at least it seems that way!  The truth is, accidents are the leading cause of injury and death in children.  So many of these tragedies can be prevented with a little preparation.  Child proofing is a MUST but, NOTHING replaces supervision.  Child proofing slows a child down but does not totally prevent injury.  Think about child proofing in layers….putting dangerous items in an upper cabinet and then latching the cabinet.  We all know that any self-respecting toddler can push a chair over and reach that cabinet!  Over the next few days, check back and we will go over a room by room check for child proofing and common mistakes that parents make!

General tips:

  • Child proof ahead of your child!  You never know the first time your child will roll over, begin to crawl, or pull up.  Child proof before it is a must.
  • Get on your child’ level to child proof.  That’s right, crawl around and see what your child sees.  You will be surprised at the number of dangers that lurk at your child’s eye level and not yours.
  • Sign up to receive e-mail recall notifications at www.cpsc.gov  New parents have so much baby equipment!  It is hard to keep track of any recalls or safety notices.  By signing up for e-mails on recalls you will be able to make sure your baby equipment is safe.
  • Keep a notebook or spreadsheet with a list of all your baby equipment including serial numbers, and date and place of purchase.  This is a quick reference guide for you to flip to when you receive a recall notice.  Much easier than trying to find the numbers on your baby equipment and remember when and where you purchased it!
  • Take a CPR class for parents!  Local hospitals, the Red Cross, and other agencies offer CPR classes for parents.  Sign up and be a prepared parent….knowledge is the key to peace of mind for you and protection for your child.
  • Install outlet covers in every room.  There are sliding outlet plates that replace your existing outlet plate and have a sliding “door” that slides to cover the outlet.  These are less of a choking hazard.
  • Remove rubber caps off of all door stoppers, they are choking hazards.
  • Keep dangerous chemicals out of reach and locked up, provide a double layer of protection.
  • Program the Poison Control phone number in your cell phone for quick use 1-800-222-1222.
  • Use cabinet and drawer latches.  There are many to choose from!  Pick one that can be installed easily, there are adhesive mount latches for those areas that a parent may not want permanent mountings.
  • Always use the safety belts in bouncy chairs, high chairs, swings…whenever there is one provided!
  • Shorten or go cordless on curtain and blind cords.
  • Know the names of the plants you have in the house, in case one is eaten!  Put all plants out of your child’s reach.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors on every floor.  Make sure there is one outside of bedrooms.
  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom and on every level of your home.  Check the batteries every 6 months.
  • Use corner bumpers on furniture with sharp edges.
  • Install window guards for all windows above the first level of a home.  Windows that can be opened more than 4 inches are dangerous.
  • Secure all heavy furniture to the wall.  Every year thousands of children are hurt when furniture is pulled over on them.  Children pull out dresser drawers and use them as steps too.  Keep the tops of furniture cleared of tempting items like toys, and knickknacks to deter a child from climbing up to reach them. This would include tall dressers, entertainment centers, book cases, and large screen televisions.
  • Turn the water heater down to a maximum temperature of 120 degrees F.
  • Keep lighters, matches and lit candles out of reach.
  • Install gates at the top and bottom of stairways.  Do not use pressure mounted gates at the top of stairs.
  • Fire arms should be locked up with a trigger lock in place.  Ammunition should be stored and locked separately from the fire arm. Do not keep fire arms loaded in the home. Teaching children about gun safety does NOT negate the need to lock up your guns.  Children can’t be trusted around fire arms!
  • Make a plan for fire evacuation.  Talk with all members of the family and practice with a fire drill! Buy an escape ladder to store under your bed if you live in a two story home.
  • Test homes built before 1978 for lead paint.  For information about getting paint samples go to the National Lead Information Center’s website.
  • Look for a safety store at your closest children’s hospital.  These stores will sell child proofing products at cost and have safety experts there to answer questions.  If you live in Indiana, the Riley Safety Store is available at several Indiana University Hospital sites.  For more information visit RileyHospital.org, or call toll free 1-888-365-2022 or e-mail kids1st@iupui.edu.
This will give you a start!  Remember, a little prevention goes a long way, but never replaces supervision.  So, get down on those hands and knees and take a look at your home…then make your home as safe as it can be so your child can explore their world!

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 is in your discipline “bag of tricks”?


discipline tricks

What is in your discipline bag of tricks?

It was 7:30 am and my day was in full swing. I was chasing a two year old trying to get him dressed again. It is barely an hour into the day and I felt like I was on the verge of yelling and a time out before breakfast just didn’t seem right. Sound familiar? I am a big believer that spanking and yelling are not the best choices for discipline. I have taught 1,2,3 Magic for years….but sometimes you just need something else. Discipline is a parenting must. Children need guidelines, boundaries, expectations, consistency and consequences. I think parents really need a “bag of discipline tricks” to parent effectively. These “tricks” can help prevent physical punishment, increase cooperation, take away some of the No’s in your child’s life and quite honestly maybe bring a smile to you both. Here are a few “tricks” to keep in your repertoire….share a few of your own too!

  1. 1,2,3 Magic

This is my favorite discipline technique which is very effective when used consistently and according to the rules. Do not use it for everything….save it for behaviors you want to eliminate quickly.

  1. Remove your child from the conflict and give attention.

I know I always say that we should never give attention to a negative behavior, but if a child is acting inappropriately sometimes simply removing him from the conflict gently and bringing him to another activity of cooperation is effective. Example…You see your child grabbing toys from others and becoming aggressive, you walk up and take him by the hand and say “Come with me I need help getting snack ready.” You have just removed him from the behavior that is inappropriate, not used the word NO, and given positive attention for the cooperative activity. Usually works!

  1. Change your requests from “go” to “come”.

If you are trying to get your child to do something, approach from a cooperative view-point. Instead of “Go put your coat on.” Try “Come with me to put your coat on.” The tone totally changes and cooperation increases!

  1. Turn your no to a yes.

Telling a child “no” to a request will often result in a meltdown. When possible, change that “no” to “yes”. Example   “I know you want to go outside, we can’t now but yes, we will after lunch.” “Let’s play with the water here in the sink, not the water in the dog’s bowl.” “Leave your shoes on now, we will take them off at home!”

  1. Try using the “not for” phrase.

“Hands are not for hitting they are for patting and loving.” “Trucks are not for throwing, they are for pushing.” “Food is not for throwing it is for eating.” Soon you may hear your child repeating those phrases to keep himself from the activity!

  1. Get Goofy.

Nothing like a little humor to diffuse a situation! Try putting that jacket on your child’s leg, or hopping to bed, or singing a silly song. Once you both are smiling cooperation increases.

  1. Think Like A Toddler.

Why did your child just dump the dog food out again….or throw the ball in the house again…or dump a box of cereal out and stomp on them…??? Yelling “STOP WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” just doesn’t work. A young child doesn’t think about why he is dumping dog food or stomping on cereal, he is thinking this is so fun! When you think like a child you will have more patience and will react a little calmer. Tell your child that the activity looks like so much fun…redirect to something appropriate and have them help you clean up! (as much as a 2 or 3 year old can!)

  1. Behavior charts and rewards.

Time In is as important as Time Out. What does that mean? Reward your child throughout the day with positive words, stickers, hugs, stories or other positive reinforcements for behavior you like. That positive attention increases that behavior and then allows your child to really FEEL the removal of that positive attention if you give a Time Out for unacceptable behavior. Sticker charts work well at age 2 and older. Younger toddlers…and even older children will often just love a sticker to wear or a stamp on their hand for positive behaviors. If you have ever been to a Gymboree class you know how important that stamp on the hand is! Get creative! I heard of a Mom sending her child to bed with a brown bag every night. If he did not get up, there was something in it in the morning! Ignore unacceptable or annoying behavior when you can and reinforce the positive. Rewards should not always be bought…rewards of time make the most impact.

  1. Use consistent words to help your child.

“No touch”, “Kind words”, “Good choices”, “Gentle touch”, “Walking feet”….think of a few of your own. The more often your child hears the same consistent phrase, the more likely he will comply with the behavior. A reminder that results in cooperation is better than a punishment after the fact.

  1. Substitute appropriate behavior.

“Let’s climb on the couch cushions not on the table.” “Let’s throw the ball, not the truck.” “Let’s sing a loud song instead of scream.” Simply saying “no” without an alternative will often result in a meltdown or defiance. Give an alternative to the behavior you don’t want, and make it a similar activity to gain cooperation. Often your child is working on a skill like climbing or throwing!

  1. Try playing a game to get your child to cooperate.

“Let’s play a pretend game when you get dressed. It is all pretend, but if you do what I say you will get to wear a sticker! Are you ready? OK, Connor let’s pretend….Put your shirt on please.” If he does it you respond, “Wow I can’t believe you could put your shirt on! Are you sure you haven’t played this game before?” Give a big hug and a sticker. Because it is a “game” your little one will be excited about trying it out. Soon it will become merely cooperation.

  1. Intervene early.

You know your child and their behavior. If you see the unacceptable behavior beginning….redirect early. Don’t let the hit, bite, or shove actually happen. As your child becomes aggressive step in and redirect.

  1. Be assertive but also a cheer leader.

Don’t be wishy-washy and ask “Would you want to pick up the toys?” or “I am thinking it might be time to pick up and leave.” Be assertive and tell your child what is going to happen so there is no question on who is in charge, then be cheerful and firm on what will happen next. Cheer your child on as they begin to cooperate. Giving the impression that there is a choice or a chance to negotiate when there isn’t always results in conflict.

  1. Redirect physically.

A child may need to be physically moved from an area to redirect. Sometimes your words will not work. A child who is becoming aggressive should be carried or walked to another activity quickly.

  1. Praise ten times more than you correct.

Yep, you heard me correctly. Praise effort and not outcome and praise a lot. That is what a Time In is. Time Out removes your attention….the rest of the day should be a Time IN. Time Outs will not work if your child doesn’t feel the difference of the removal of your attention.

  1. Calm Down Bottles.

Another tool to help your child learn to “flip the switch” to calm down on his own. That is the skill we want all of our children to develop!

  1. Have an older child determine his or her punishment.

An older preschooler, school age children and teens are very good at deciding what the consequence for their unacceptable behavior should be. Often they are tougher on themselves than you would be. The consequences they decide usually make sense and are remembered.

  1. Start over….over and over again.

Rewind. This was one of my favorite tools. If your child is just starting off on the wrong foot, or you see a behavior that is inappropriate and can be fixed immediately; simply turn your child in a circle and make a “rewind” sound and let your child try again. I love the second chance to make things right. Sometimes my husband will actually do this to me in the morning if I am grumpy before that morning coffee kicks in!

So, those are a few tricks to put in that discipline bag. Be sure you are taking care of yourself, because we all know that we aren’t able to tap into our patience or discipline approach if we are on empty ourselves. You and your child deserve parents who “fill themselves up” so they are at their best. As time goes on, you will find the discipline approaches that work the best for each of your children. No child’s day should be filled with more “no” than “yes”, more boundary setting than free play, or more tears than smiles. We all will have bad days, but the good moments should outnumber the difficult. Remember, the purpose of boundary setting and discipline is to teach….not to upset your child.

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

This Valentine’s Day, Commit to 4 Goals….


Valentine

Commit to your relationships with 4 simple goals…..

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Walking into Target, the aisles are full of pink and red and signage promising if you purchase this your Valentine will forever be yours! Yes, Valentine’s Day may be a marketing ploy more than a real day to celebrate love, but it is a great time to stop and think about your relationship at home. Let’s be honest, parenting can be tough. It takes a lot of effort to raise children, and there are points during the child raising process that there just does not seem time for anything else! Bu the fact is, time spent on your relationship with each other is vitally important for your happiness and your child’s. So often the blessing of children results in both parents totally concentrating on their children and not putting any effort into their relationship with each other. I was guilty of this at times. When our four children were younger, I can remember times when the only conversation I had with my husband revolved around if we had enough milk and who was driving to the next sporting event! Not a whole lot of romance there….but more importantly not a whole lot of relationship building. A relationship will not stay healthy for 18 years if there is only effort put forth on raising children! So as Valentine’s Day approaches, take a moment and thing about investing in each other……a few thoughts to get the process going….

One of the best pieces of advice I ever read was from a book Creative Counterpart. Over the years I have put this philosophy to work, recommitting to this over and over again when life became unbalanced.

Set four goals each day.

  • One goal should be for you. Something that you will do that day to “fill yourself up.” Remember an empty pitcher cannot give anything. Some days that might be 30 minutes of reading, maybe time to reflect, maybe a run, or possibly a big bowl of ice cream and chocolate! Something for yourself.
  • A second goal should be for your husband. Not something for him to DO, but something you do for him. I call it every day intimacy…this might be concentrating that day on giving a compliment or two, maybe leaving a post-it love note, an extra kiss or cuddle for no reason…something to build relationship.  Get creative!
  • A third goal should be for your child. Something little you will do extra with him or her. Maybe you will read an extra story, or you finally will get the finger paints out, or bake cookies, or just a few minutes of extra cuddle time before bed.  Again, these are small goals…nothing crazy like trips to Disney.
  • Finally a goal for your home. Kids and life can result in chaos in a home. I am not talking about a goal to wash walls and baseboards, but a small daily goal to control the chaos. Maybe today you will wipe out all the bathroom sinks, tomorrow you will put the laundry away, or maybe you will dust or vacuum one room.  These small goals will result in a home that feels more content rather than chaotic.

Those four daily goals will bring balance to your life. Every day kindness will become a habit and some of the negativity that creeps into many relationships when kids become the center of life will be squelched. Take time to remember why you fell in love.

Recommit to living your life and not being dragged along for the ride. Fill yourself up, give to your relationships, and take a bit of control in your home. Now fold to the pressure and go buy Valentines for your special someones…everyone needs to be reminded that they are loved.

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

Milk…it does the body good….in the right amount!


milk glass

Milk…it does the body good, in the right amount!  16 oz a day is what your young child needs!

When your child is an infant, you are asked how nursing is progressing, how many times a day your baby nurses, or how many ounces of formula a day your baby drinks.  Your baby’s main nutrition in the first year is from breast milk or formula!  The first year flies by and then you are hearing….introduce cow’s milk in a cup and don’t let your child “drink too many calories”.  Wow what a difference a year makes and what happened to the age-old advice to “drink all of your milk”?

During the toddler years your child should be consuming healthy calories through eating solid foods and drinking some milk.  Full fat milk is usually recommended until age 2, unless your child is overweight or there is a strong history of heart disease in the family.  After age 2 your child should transition to 1% or skim milk to decrease fat intake.  After infancy, your child’s diet should not center on milk, it becomes complimentary to your child’s diet.  So how much milk does the typical young child need?

A recent study published in the January 2013 issue of Pediatrics shows that two cups (16 oz) of cow’s milk a day is probably about perfect.  Two cups a day provided an adequate amount of vitamin D for most children and maintained good iron stores too.  Milk is fortified with vitamin D and is an easy and convenient  source of vitamin D and calcium for most children.  However, too much milk consumption can lower iron stores in children.  Milk has no iron and if a child drinks too much, he or she may consume less iron rich foods, and the increase in calcium will prevent the absorption of iron in the body.  Children who drink too much milk often will become anemic (low iron) which can have a detrimental effect on learning and development.

So, it is important that children have vitamin D fortified dairy in their diet, but just not too much!  Two cups a day seems to be the perfect balance for vitamin D intake and to maintain iron levels.  So…milk does do the body good, but in the right amount!

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 right amount!

 

Baby Sign…why?


Signing with your child opens up his world to communication!  

Picture this:  your sweet 1-year-old child is lying on the floor screaming.  You ask what this sweet child wants, and the screaming escalates.  You then run around the room holding items up…”Do you want your milk?”  “Oh I bet you want your paci!”  “You want to read your book?”….and the game continues.  Waiting for your child to be able to express a want or need can feel like an eternity, especially when you have a 1-year-old lying on the floor in a meltdown.  It is a frustrating experience for you and your child when your child is not able to communicate a need or something he or she is excited about.  In recent years many parents have begun signing with their children.  Some ask, “Is this just another passing fad or another attempt to make our children “super kids”?”  Others ask, “Won’t this delay verbal speech?”

The fact is, parents have used “sign language” for years with their babies.  Babies need to express needs and parents want desperately to find out what their child wants or needs.  So, often we will see gestures, whines, and partial syllables that mean something to a parent.

We know that children develop the fine motor muscles in their hands before they develop those needed for speech.  Most babies develop their own “signs” to communicate.  Games like “Patty Cake”, “How Big is Baby?”, “Waving bye-bye” and other finger plays show that babies can communicate before they are actually verbal.  Children follow directions and understand verbal commands before they are able to verbally communicate also.  So, it seems natural that American Sign Language (ASL) could allow a child to express needs, emotions, fears and memories without using words.

Imagine the decrease in frustration, the increase in interaction, and how much fun it would be if your child could express wants, needs, and excitement to you about all the new discoveries in his toddler life.  Often children that have signed also develop verbal speech earlier.  Kids that sign understand that a symbol, the sign, actually means something, a gesture connects to an item.  These connections help link words to things too, and even the written word to the verbal word.  It is all about connections or links.

So besides decreasing your child’s frustration and helping your sanity….here are a few more advantages to Baby Sign:

  • A child who signs can communicate needs at an early age.
  • A child who signs learns the art of conversation.
  • A child who signs will have an understanding of language at an early age.
  • A child who signs may learn to speak verbally at an earlier age.
  • A child who signs may have an above average ability to learn a second language. Learning ASL develops that portion of the brain that learns language!
  • A child who signs may have an increased love of books.  Think about the interactive reading that can occur with both of you signing as you read!
  • A child who signs often will be more expressive later using gestures.
  • A child who signs feel empowered!
  • A parent who signs will have a lower frustration level.
  • A parent who signs may have an increase in bonding because of better communication.
  • A parent who signs may experience a higher level of satisfaction in parenting.

So there are many reasons to start signing with your child.   If your child is between 6 months and 36 months, it is the perfect time to introduce the concept.  There are few things more exciting for a parent and a child than the realization that a child has linked a sign or a word to a meaning and can communicate.  Warm up those hands, and get started “talking” with your baby!

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, suckers, 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 them 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

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