A spoiled child grows into an adult who feels entitled…how do you strike the balance between wants and needs as a parent?
It is so difficult to see your child upset, disappointed, or wanting something that you don’t feel is necessary or maybe can’t afford. There were many days when I questioned whether we should break down and buy an item that one of our kids “just HAD to have”, fold and give that cookie before dinner to keep the peace, or rescue a child from the consequence of a behavior because their tears broke my heart. There were days that I did…but I know that the lessons the kids learned when I did NOT were much more valuable.
When you bring home your precious baby, that first year there is very little difference between your child’s wants and needs. Everything your child wants IS a need. Your sweet baby communicates those needs loudly and clearly resulting in you feeding, holding, rocking, changing, and responding. As a parent, your quick response to those needs lets your child learn that he is loved and safe. Very important lessons!
Fast forward to a 3-year-old laying on the floor at the grocery store check-out line screaming for a package of M & Ms at 9:00 am. Does he need them? No, but he sure wants them! Is the behavior annoying, do you want to make it go away quickly? Yes, but purchasing the candy may not be the best lesson for your child!
What exactly is spoiling?
As parents we must teach our children how to navigate the world even when there is frustration or disappointment. Think no M&Ms at 9:00 am, not getting your attention when you are speaking with another adult, having to save money to buy those designer jeans, and dealing with sitting the bench during a basketball game. Our children must learn that when disappointment in life happens, when they must wait for something they want, or the world doesn’t revolve around their desires, that life doesn’t crash down around them and that they are still loved. Your child must learn that in life you must work hard, be patient, and “play nicely” to be happy and successful. Being loved does not mean there are no bumps in the road, being loved means you are taught how to navigate them.
Spoiling means your child will learn that they are entitled to things. This entitlement replaces the idea of hard work and patience to get or achieve things. Children who are spoiled often do not learn the difference between wants and needs. Spoiling is never due to giving your child the things he or she needs, the opposite is true. When your child has what they need, good behavior patterns can follow. Children need loving physical contact, soothing when upset, structure, routine, positive words, food, clothing, shelter, medical care, toys, …basics…these basics bring an emotionally solid foundation and feeling of security. How do you prevent the “spoiled brat” that none of us want to raise? How do you strike the balance as a parent? Of course there are times will give our children things they simply want; there is nothing better than seeing the excitement of getting something that is special Of course we are going to fold and stop the “madness” in the grocery store and give in to the M&Ms occasionally. Of course we will respond to the whining….but how do we strike the balance??
- Don’t buy things your child wants constantly. Gifts are important parts of childhood…the holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions are wonderful, exciting times for your child. Receiving a gift every time you walk through Target and see the latest toy is not the best parenting choice. This results in a child who no longer appreciates but expects.
- Delay gratification. Help your child develop patience. It is fine to tell your child “I will help in a minute when I finish this.” “That new Barbie is very nice, let’s write it down on your birthday wish list.” This will help your child learn that his world will not collapse when he does not get what he wants NOW. Delayed gratification teaches the difference between wants and needs and that others have needs too.
- Develop strong values and morals as a family, give together. Raising an unspoiled child is not just about saying “no” to things, it is about developing a value based home. A home that has kindness, generosity, gratitude, hard work, and feelings as its core. Teach what it feels like to make someone else happy. Point out when your child is kind. Start talking about gratitude. Share what you are thankful for each day. A great time is during family dinners or right before bed. Ask your child to share 3 things each day he is thankful for….you share too! Share as a family, donate used toys your child no longer needs, participate as a family in donations to charities…be sure your child is included! This is a great way to teach your child about the joy of giving and appreciation for what he has. There is happiness in appreciation; there is misery in concentrating on what you don’t have.
- Watch how much screen time your child has. Advertising knows how to send the message to your child on what he “needs”!
- Spoiling is not just too many things, it is an attitude too. Don’t give into temper tantrums, this teaches that those actions result in “getting what I want”. Have consistent consequences for unacceptable behavior; try not to fold because it is easier. Parenting is hard work!
- Let natural consequences of life happen for your child…bumps in the road happen, learning to handle that is essential.
- Give your child praise, but praise for specific behaviors or accomplishments. Constant blanket praising results in a child who feels the world owes him this. Let your child learn that positive actions feel good INTERNALLY!
- Give your child chores and responsibility. In the real world, we are all responsible for something. This fosters a good work ethic too.
- Remember, giving your child things does not replace your child’s need for your time.
- Live the values you teach. Your child learns what he sees. Does your child see you buying the newest and the best? Do you show your child that you often sacrifice and delay gratification? Talk to your child about what you want, but demonstrate that you might not need it!
Fostering an environment that doesn’t result in a child who feels entitled is not always easy. There will be times when your child may be unhappy, angry, or even throw a fit, but it is only for a brief time. Giving in affects behavior for the long-term. I am not telling you to make your child’s life difficult. There are certainly times that we will and should indulge our child. But remember, a spoiled child learns that behavior, it is a result of parenting. You cannot love your child too much…but sometimes loving your child means your child will not get everything he wants. :)
Nothing harder as a parent than seeing your child disappointed about something he or she wants but can’t have, but nothing makes you prouder as a parent than seeing your child handle the ups and downs of life with grace and a “can do” attitude.
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
Often toddlers who are excited or hurried will begin to stutter…it often will correct itself over time!
I love watching old video movies of our kids. There little faces are darling, but what I love most are their voices. Those sweet “little kid” voices…full of excitement, wonder and curiosity. I can close my eyes and just remember the moment. Often their voices bring back more sweet memories to me than their pictures! The excitement in the videos results in squeals, giggles, and words that are fast and furious….sometimes there might be a bit of stuttering as their little brains worked so much faster than the words could be spoken.
Parents of toddlers will often worry about the development of the occasional stutter, or speech disfluency with their child’s speech. Often this can come off your worry list. Many toddlers between the age of 2 and 5 will have some disfluency when they are excited, there is a lot of stimulation or distraction. It occurs more often in boys. A 2-year-old who starts to repeat syllables or short words and begins to use more words like “um”, “uh” or has long pauses is most likely having some normal disfluency. Most often this disfluency begins when there is a burst of new vocabulary. Children who begin to stutter before the age of 5 usually will not need speech therapy…it will go away on its own. What can a parent do to help???
- When your child begins to stutter or gets stuck on a word, keep normal eye contact and wait calmly for him to finish. Do not jump in and finish the sentence for him.
- Talk in a slow relaxed way. If you are rushed, your child may try to speak in a rush to keep up with you in the conversation.
- Keep a relaxed expression on your face when your child is speaking…if you look frustrated or worried your child will become more self-conscious. If your child senses your worry….he will too!
- Don’t correct him, just repeat the sentence fluently so he hears how it should sound and knows you understood him.
- Have time every day for just casual non hurried conversation.
- If you are busy, your child may feel hurried and pressured to get the whole sentence out fast. If you are busy, promise that in a moment you will sit down to listen, and then don’t break that promise!
- Don’t tell your child to “slow down” or “take a breath”. This only points out the problem and could make him more nervous which can increase the stuttering.
- When your child finishes a difficult sentence, let him know that you are proud and that “Wow, sometimes talking can be tough!” Sympathize with his learning of a new skill.
- Encourage your child to tell you stories that he knows well…ones that don’t take a lot of thought. Have him “read” a familiar story to you.
- Sing lots of simple songs and recite nursery rhymes. Songs and rhymes are usually easier than just free speech.
If your child continues to have stuttering or disfluency at age 3, you might consider having your child evaluated by a speech and language pathologist. Earlier treatment may be more effective. Red flags of a possible more long-term problem with speech fluency often will have some of these signs:
- Tension in facial muscles as they struggle for a word.
- A rise in pitch of their voice with the stutter.
- Real effort noted when trying to speak.
- Attempts to avoid the stutter by changing words or will begin to give up or refuse to speak.
- An increase in stuttering that has become worse instead of better over time.
- Stuttering that continues after the age 5.
So, most often disfluency, stuttering or stammering will correct itself in young children. Be sure and record your child’s sweet little voice…there is nothing like it! It will be wonderful to listen to it in the future; especially during those challenging preteen and teen years…there is something about that voice with the eye roll that isn’t near as sweet…… :)
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
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 from college, 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
- Baby will startle to sound
- Quiets or smiles when you speak to him
- Recognizes your voice
- Smiles at you
- Babbles and uses sounds with p, b and m
- 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.
From one day to one year, what a difference a year makes!
The first few months of my children’s lives sometimes felt like a blur. Parents get VERY little sleep and are just trying to get to know their baby. I can remember feeling that the first year just flew by and all of a sudden I would have a toddler on my hands! There are so many changes that come so quickly with your baby that first year!
During that first year, your baby is learning that he or she will be loved and cared for. It is important to foster that development of trust. Don’t let your baby cry for long periods of time, especially in the first 6 months. Crying is your baby’s way of communicating. Soon you will learn what different cries mean, like “I’m tired”, “I’m hungry”, “I’m wet”, “I need to be held”, “I am bored”….Responding to your baby’s needs helps your little one develop trust in you and the world. You cannot spoil a baby! Older children can be spoiled, but not infants, so just enjoy catering to their needs and loving your baby.
Growth and development should be steady and progressive. That is more important than comparisons with other children. It is common for new parents to look at other babies and start to worry and compare. Try not to compare, just know what important milestones your baby should be reaching.
How big your baby is at birth is a poor predictor about the size of your child by adulthood. The size at birth has more to do with the conditions of uterine development. Most children will find their growth curve and stay at that curve. A child that is smaller than 75 percent of other babies his or her age can be perfectly healthy, that may just be the growth curve that child has. By the end of the 2nd year, the size of your child will more truly reflect his or her adult size.
We parents know that our children are special! However, reaching developmental milestones faster than other children does not necessarily predict your child’s intelligence. As long as your child is reaching his or her developmental milestones on target, there are no worries!
By the end of the 2nd month your baby should:
- Look at you!
- Start to try to self soothe. May bring hands to mouth and suck
- Begin to smile at people
- Start to coo
- Turn towards sounds
- Follow things with eyes
- Pay attention to faces
- Hold up head and begin to push up during tummy time
Activities for parents:
- Talk to your baby
- Show simple objects
- Give your baby different looks at the world, change his or her scenery!
- Play the silly face game, open and close your eyes, stick out your tongue etc.
- Start the routine of a daily walk weather permitting
- Help baby with tracking objects, babies love mobiles, shapes and movements
- Imitate your baby’s sounds and expressions as your baby starts to learn to communicate
Your baby’s growth:
- Growth will be about an ounce per day in the first 2 months
- Growth will continue at about a pound a month after the first couple of months
- Birth weight doubles by 5 months
- Birth weight triples by one year
By the end of the 4th month your baby should:
- Like to play and interact with you!
- Copy some movements and even facial expressions like smiling
- Babble even with expression
- Cry in different ways for different needs like hunger, or being tired, or lonely
- Reach for a toy or rattle
- Track with eyes well side to side
- Be able to roll from tummy to back
- Push up on elbows during tummy time
- Like colors now and be drawn to them
- Continue to talk, talk, talk
- Build reading into your daily routine
- Respond to your baby’s coos and babbles…carry on a conversation!
- Continue to show your baby the world!
By the end of the 6th month your baby should:
- Recognize a familiar face and begin to have some stranger anxiety
- Like to look at self in the mirror
- Use vowel sounds when babbling and takes turns in a “conversation” with you!
- Begin some consonant sounds when babbling
- Respond when you say his or her name
- Transfer things from hand to hand, easy to hold toys are important
- Try to get things that are out of reach
- Roll over in both directions
- Sit with support
- Like to “stand” with you holding and might bounce
- Start to push up and may rock back and forth on hands and knees
- Start to scoot and move arms like a swimmer
- Sometimes show frustration if he can’t reach something he wants
- Teething may begin with the average baby cutting their first tooth by the end of the 6th month
- Should start the “dropping game” between 7 and 8 months (helps your baby learn object permanence)
- Should begin clapping between 7 and 8 months
- Remember stranger anxiety starts at about 6 months and peaks at about 9 months. This is normal. Help your baby by gradually introducing strangers. A stranger is someone your baby does not see everyday! Never force a situation quickly when your baby is afraid of a new face. Hold your baby, sit on the floor and let your baby explore with you holding him or staying near at first.
- Start to teach finger games like “so big”, waving “bye-bye”, playing patty cake
- Continue to read and talk to your baby
- Make sure you are establishing routines, especially bed time and nap time routines
By the end of the 9th month your baby should:
- Begin to have favorite toys
- Understand the word “no”
- Copy sounds you make and gestures you make
- Pick up small things with thumb and index finger “pincer grasp”
- Play peak a boo
- Look for hidden items
- Look where you point
- Sit well without support
- Start to scoot and crawl
- Start to pull up to stand between 9 and 12 months
- Continue to play finger games like “Itsy Bitsy Spider”
- Continue waving bye-bye
- Build things for baby to crawl under and over
- Let your baby play with every day objects like pots, pans, plastic containers
- Encourage your baby to imitate your behavior like brushing hair, talking on the phone
- Encourage pretend play with keys, phones, dolls, chunky trucks etc.
- Play with pop up toys, a jack-in-the-box is a great way to teach object permanence
- Play in and out games
- Let your baby hold your fingers to walk
By the end of the 12th month your baby should:
- Point at items
- Pull up to stand and may walk
- Cruise around furniture
- Squat and stoop to pick up things
- Throw a ball
- Understand one step directions from you
- Turn pages of a toddler board book
- Look for missing objects in last seen location
- Say Ma Ma and Da Da and maybe a few other words like ball, dog
- Start to show fear, will cry when you leave
- “Help” get dressed by holding out arms etc.
- Put things in a container, takes things out, likes to dump items
- Help baby with push toys, wide based push toys that children can walk behind are fun!
- Play games that the baby has a part in like puffing up your cheeks and letting her push the air out
- Look at books and make up stories about the pictures
- Teach body parts Where is your nose? Where is your tummy?
- Play with musical instruments that shake and bang
- Play music your baby loves to move and dance
Back to sleep….tummy to play at least 20 minutes every day!
You are holding your precious baby and suddenly you realize that your beautiful baby’s head is a little flat…! What has happened? First there is no need to panic. Since the American Pediatrics (AAP) began encouraging us to put our babies to sleep on their backs, there has been a decrease in SIDS deaths by about half. This shows us that the “back to sleep” campaign is working but there also has been an increase in babies developing flattening on the back and/or sides of their heads. A study published in Pediatrics in July of 2013 showed that almost 1/2 of all 2 month olds had some flattening of their heads. This is called positional plagiocephaly which is just a big word for a little flat head due to positioning! This is caused when a baby spends too much time sleeping or sitting with his head in the same position. Babies are on their backs to sleep, and on their backs in car seats, strollers, swings and bouncy seats. All this back time can cause a baby’s soft bones in the skull to flatten out. Parents often begin to worry when their baby’s pretty little head doesn’t look so round anymore! The AAP tells parents not to panic, most head flattening is not serious at all and will go away on its own over time. We can prevent that flattening of your baby’s cute little head with a little tummy time.
Tummy time is important to help prevent positional flattening of your baby’s head but it also helps develop your baby’s neck muscles and upper body and core strength. This will help your baby reach important developmental milestones like rolling over, sitting up, scooting, crawling, and eventually standing and walking. Babies that have not had much tummy time can be delayed in hitting these important milestones in the first year.
How much tummy time does your baby need?
- You should begin tummy time as soon as you bring your baby home. Your baby needs just a few minutes several times a day at the beginning, and then building up to at least 20 minutes a day. Always supervise your baby when he is having tummy time. Do not leave him alone for safety reasons.
What if your baby fusses every time you try tummy time?
Many babies don’t like tummy time in the beginning. Start out slowly and soon your baby will get used to lying on his tummy. Try these tips:
- Distract your baby. Lie in front of your baby so he can see your face. Sing songs, make funny faces, play peek-a-boo, shake a rattle or place bright colored toys or a mirror in front of your baby.
- Try propping your baby up on his tummy with a nursing pillow or rolled blanket by placing the roll or pillow under his chest and underarms. This may help your baby see better and feel more supported.
- Lie on your back and place your baby on your chest. Many babies love this and this counts as tummy time too!
- Don’t put your baby on his tummy right after eating; this may increase his likelihood of spitting up!
Other tips to prevent head flattening.
- Alternate ends of the bed when you put your baby to bed. Babies naturally will look towards the light, so by alternating ends of the bed, your baby will turn his head to one side or the other. This will keep your baby’s head from flattening on one side. Don’t ever use positioners or rolled blankets to position your baby’s head while in the crib, this can increase the risk of SIDS.
- When your baby is awake, alter his position frequently. Place your baby on his tummy, in a swing briefly, on your chest, in a bouncy seat, and hold him upright. Alternating positions keeps constant pressure off one area of your baby’s head.
- A breast-fed baby will normally switch sides when nursing. If your baby is bottle fed, switch sides that you hold him to bottle feed. Switching sides to feed will keep pressure off just one side of your baby’s head.
So encourage that tummy time, keep changing your baby’s position when he is awake, switch up sides when you are nursing or bottle feeding, alternate ends of the bed when you put your baby to sleep and your baby’s head will keep it’s pretty round shape…unless Mom or Dad’s head is a little flat too! :)
So, your little one is growing up! You are starting to see signs that potty training just might be in your child’s immediate future. You are ready to help this process along….so what next?
When you think the time is right…
- When you are ready and have no major stresses in your life.
- When your child is showing increased interest in the potty.
1. Go buy “big girl” or “big boy” pants together. Talk about not getting those special pants wet and dirty!
2. Start by using the potty several times a day on a routine. Put your child on the toilet 20 to 30 minutes after every meal, before naps, right after naps, before bath…develop a routine.
3. Feed your child fruits and fibers to keep stool soft. Give your child plenty to drink so there are many opportunities to potty.
4. You might try letting your child play in lukewarm water with toys as he or her sits on the potty…..it may encourage “peeing”.
5. When you are ready to potty train full go—-ditch the diapers!! Diapers or pull ups make it difficult for a child to feel when they start to wet and give a sense of security. Even the feel and learn type pull ups are not like the good ole’ fashioned cotton underwear! You can put rubber pants or a disposable pull up over the underwear to help contain accidents. Do not switch back and forth from diapers to underwear, this becomes very confusing for a child. You can purchase car seat protectors for your trips out and about.
6. Start setting the timer for every hour and a half to two hours and announcing “it’s potty time!” Try staying home for a few days and close to the potty to get the process started. A weekend is a great time to start!
7. Try letting your child run naked with a long t-shirt outside or inside on non carpeted floors for periods of time. When you see your child begin to pee or poop, bring them to the potty. This allows your toddler to feel and learn very easily.
8. Handle accidents with patience. Very little reaction…just “oops next time we will use the potty!” Remember this is a process! When there is an accident, place your child immediately on the potty to “finish”. This will help them equate the potty with the action.
9. Be sure your child is really ready. If you start too soon the road will be more difficult. If you meet resistance, take a break for a couple of weeks and then try again.
10. Adjust your attitude. It is important that children are never forced, shamed or manipulated into using the toilet.
11. Celebrate success. Success is just sitting on the potty at first! Decide what reward system you will use and what works for your child. Some parents find sticker charts, songs, high fives, M & Ms or other special treats will do the trick. M & Ms were perfect for us….one for my child and two for me! Do not over celebrate as this can cause stress for some children, especially children who are real “pleasers”.
12. Do not teach any other difficult tasks during this time.
13. Remember the mantra “two steps forward one-step back”. Often children start well and then lose some interest or start having accidents. Remember, it takes a lot of work for a toddler to figure this out! Sometimes concentration is lost!
14. Be sure to teach good hygiene. Teach toddlers how to wipe bottoms, wash hands, and flush toilets with the lid closed. Toddlers will not be able to completely wipe themselves, especially after a bowel movement, without help for some time, often until about age 5.
15. Potty train for daytime only…leave night time training for later. This is a different process! Use diapers or disposable training pants for night time use, you can call them “sleeping pants” to keep from confusing your child.
So, give it a try if the timing is right! Both you and your child will feel so accomplished. Practice that celebratory “potty dance” and pick up some M & Ms to reward your child and yourself. Tomorrow…a few “potty pitfalls” that can make potty training a little more challenging.
Image courtesy of American Dental Association
I can remember that feeling of excitement when I first saw the top of a little tooth poking through our oldest child’s gum….I must admit I remember the shock the first time I felt that tooth when I was nursing too!
(Remember, children can bite only if latched incorrectly, and that is usually when they are “playing” at the end of a nursing. Put your child down and say, “that hurts!” If you put your baby down every time he or she bites or you break the nursing latch when you realize your baby is no longer sucking to eat…there will be no problems. Just because your baby is teething or has teeth is not a reason in itself to wean from the breast!)
We have always known that care of those cute little teeth was important, but there has been some recent changes in the recommendations of care. How we care for our child’s teeth will affect his or her health. Those baby teeth ARE important! Dental decay is an active infection in a mouth…and we want to protect those little pearly whites for the best smiles now and down the road!
Dental decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood! 24 percent of children in the U. S. have a cavity before age four! 53 percent by age 8 and 56 percent by age 15. There has been a significant increase of dental decay in children in the 2-4 year old age group. So, what are parents supposed to do to protect our little ones’ precious smiles? There is a plan! http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/11/18/peds.2014-2984.full.pdf+html
- Brush with fluoridated toothpaste at the first sign of a tooth. (Yes you heard me right…that is a big change. Past recommendation was to use “baby toothpaste” without fluoride until age 2!) Starting to brush teeth from moment one teaches a lifelong habit for your child. At a minimum, the recommendation is to brush twice daily, morning and night. The most important brushing is the nighttime one before bed. Parents should use a very small amount of fluoridated toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice) until age 3. (see picture above) After age 3, children and adults should use about a pea size amount of toothpaste. Parents should supervise tooth brushing until about age 8 when most children are proficient. It is not important to worry about what direction to brush on the tooth….just that all sides of the tooth and the gum line are brushed.
- Drink tap water! Many of us have become a bit of “water snobs” drinking only a certain brand of bottled water! Most bottled water does not have fluoride. Fluoridated water has been proven to prevent dental decay in children and adults! So fill up your child’s straw cup and get a glass for yourself too!
- Monitor sugar and sticky foods. We know that tooth decay increases when there is sugar on teeth for long periods of time. Children who drink sugared drinks (this includes juice!) sleep with bottles, or use a sippy cup with milk or juice in it all day are more prone to decay. Keep water in your child’s cup except at meals and stay away from a lot of sugared or sticky foods and treats.
- Prevent bacteria in the mouth. Tooth decay is caused by a bacteria called streptococcus mutans. Parents who have a history of poor dental health (lots of cavities) should be very cautious about sharing cups and cleaning those pacifiers in their own mouths! Transfer of that bacteria early on increases your child’s risk of early dental decay. Most importantly, parents should be sure that their own dental health is good…having active decay that is untreated increases the streptococcus mutans in your mouth increasing the likelihood your child’s mouth will colonize with it too. We want to be sure that the snuggles and kisses you give your child does not transfer bad bacteria…because those kisses are a necessity!!
- Find a dental home for your child. Your child should have a dental visit by age 1. Dentists are a huge part of your child’s health care just like your child’s doctor! Make every 6 month visits to your child’s dentist to promote good dental health. If your child sees the dentist for preventative care, there may never be a need to develop a fear…there will be no cavities!
- Ask about fluoride varnish. Fluoride varnish is a sticky resin of highly concentrated fluoride. Your child can have two or more applications per year and it is very effective in preventing dental decay. Some pediatricians are applying this at well child visits, and often dentists are using this instead of the fluoride rinse or gel of the past. A child can eat right away after this application and it actually will stay on the teeth for a longer time and can help restore early decay.
So those are some of the best tips to prevent dental decay in your child. The habits we form early in our child’s life will have long -lasting effects on their dental health and smiles in the future. Keep your child’s sweet smile bright!
This cute little smile cost us several thousand dollars later to straighten it out….but worth it!
There is nothing cuter than a toothless grin of a baby. Next the cute little pearly whites that erupt create a darling smile, then there is a toothless grin again as the tooth fairy starts to make visits to your home, and then soon your child will have two big front teeth that look way too big for their mouth. As your child grows, their dental needs change too. Why is dental health so important for children? Dental decay is the most common chronic childhood illness. There are at least 4 million preschoolers that have had at least one cavity. Forty to fifty percent of children will have cavities before the age of five. 51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental health problems. The American diet is high in sugar, and we are using more and more non-fluoridated bottled water for drinking. This all adds up to an increase in dental cavities, and a decrease in dental health of our children. Children with cavities in their primary or “baby” teeth have more problems with poor weight gain, iron deficiency, speech problems and poor dental health as adults. Taking care of our children’s teeth is part of good health care!
I. When do baby teeth form and erupt?
- The primary teeth or baby teeth begin to form before your baby is born at about the 14th 19th week of pregnancy. The crown, or the white part of the tooth that is seen, continues to develop until several weeks to several months after your child is born.
- Total of 20 baby teeth, 10 on top and 10 on the bottom by about age 3.
- The first tooth to appear usually is the lower central incisors (the bottom two teeth) around 6 months of age. Don’t panic if your baby’s first tooth isn’t the lower two teeth…some babies teeth to the beat of their own drummer!
- Teething can be painful for infants. Babies explore their world with their mouths, and during teething this can be uncomfortable. There can be redness, swelling in the gums, drooling, increase in finger sucking, and the need to bite and chew on any object. Some babies will pull at ears or rub their jaw line, teething pain is often referred to the ear area.
- Sometimes parents will see a “blister” where the tooth is about to erupt, this is normal.
- Many babies like a clean teething ring, frozen wash cloth, frozen fruit in a mesh feeder, frozen bagel or mom’s fingers to rub the gums.
- You can give acetaminophen, or ibuprofen (after 6 months of age) to help with the pain. Ibuprofen is a bit more effective for inflammation of the gums, but wait until your baby is at least 6 months to use this!
- Do NOT place oral numbing ointments on your baby’s gums. This can cause a decrease in the gag reflex and could be dangerous.
- Teething pain usually occurs for 3 to 4 days prior to the tooth breaking through the gum. Pain should decrease once the tooth breaks through the gum line. There may still be some discomfort for a few days after. It is not a month-long process unless your baby is cutting multiple teeth one after the other.
- Teething does NOT cause a fever, vomiting, diarrhea or cold symptoms. If your baby has any of these symptoms with teething, he or she is probably ill too.
- Teething can cause an increase in drooling which can lead to a rash or irritation around the mouth and on a baby’s chest. Keep the area dry by changing shirts frequently, using absorbent bibs, and “water proofing” the skin with ointments.
II. When is the first dental visit?
- The first dental visit should be at about age one or 6 months after the first tooth. It is important to have your child’s first teeth examined. Dental problems can begin early. Children with healthy teeth can eat better, develop better speech, and dental cavities can cause a permanent state of infection in your child.
- Usually the first visit is just a visual exam—usually on mom of dad’s lap. Going to the dentist is just like a well child exam at your child’s doctor. We want to be sure we support healthy teeth, not just see the dentist when there is a problem!
III. How do you care for the first teeth?
- Wipe your baby’s first teeth using a wash cloth or gauze or a soft bristled baby toothbrush. Ideally, your baby’s teeth should be wiped or brushed twice a day. Once in the morning and once before bed. The earlier your child becomes accustomed to wiping or brushing their teeth, the easier it will be.
- You can use a small smear (about the size of a grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste on your child’s tooth or teeth until age 3 and then a pea size amount after age 3. Fluoride is important! It helps strengthen your child’s teeth and prevent decay.
- You should help your child brush teeth until at least age 6. Children are not coordinated enough to brush teeth well before that. Sometimes this will be a battle, but it is worth the battle. We want to form good dental hygiene habits early! Do what you have to do to get teeth brushed.
- Have your child sit on your lap facing out, or you sit on the floor and lean your child back into your lap to brush.
- Let your child brush after you brush. Use circular motions on the teeth and brush along the gum line.
- Use stickers, games, songs, whatever it takes to get the tooth brushing done. If your child cries, brush quickly…but at least the mouth will be open!
- Never put your baby to bed with a bottle of formula or breast milk. This will result in decay in your baby’s first teeth!
- Never put juice or any other sugared drink in a bottle.
- Do not allow your child to walk around with a sippy cup of juice or milk all day long. This will leave a continual coating of sugars on your child’s teeth.
- You can begin to floss your child’s teeth when they start to touch. Again, this is a good habit to start young!
- As your child begins to eat table food, try to avoid high sugar snacks. Sticky snacks are the worst. Fruit snacks, dried fruit like raisins and any other sticky food must be brushed out of your child’s teeth.
IV. When do I worry about thumb sucking, finger sucking and pacifiers?
- It is perfectly normal for infants and young children to need to suck. Sucking decreases stress in young children and makes for a happier child!
- It should be discouraged starting at about age 18 months. Parents should limit pacifier use to bedtime and nap time.
- All thumb sucking and pacifier use should be discouraged after age 3.
- Most children stop on their own, but some need help. Most will then quit with encouragement from the dentist and parents. Do not use negative reinforcement like hot sauce on a thumb, taping fingers, or putting mittens on your child.
- Prolonged sucking can create crowded, crooked teeth or bite problem. The fingers, thumb and pacifier all affect the teeth the same way.
VI. My child grinds his teeth, is this bad?
- Teeth grinding happens in many toddlers. The toddler’s molars are very smooth, and children will often grind.
- Most children outgrow the habit by about age 6.
- If teeth grinding continues after permanent teeth arrive, then speak with your child’s dentist.
VII. What should I do if my child injures his mouth and teeth?
- Be sure and ask your dentist when he or she would like to be contacted for a tooth injury.
- If a child knocks out a permanent tooth, keep it moist or drop it into cup of milk and call the dentist immediately or head to the ER.
- If a child is hit in the mouth–always call the dentist for an exam even if there is no obvious damage.
- If a child chips a tooth–call the dentist even if there is no sensitivity.
- Your child should use a mouth guard for sporting activities!
Start good dental habits early…find your child a dental office home where both you and your child are comfortable. Dental care should not be scary but just a part of good health. Take care of your child’s smile, it is one of the most beautiful things a parent sees!