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

How to handle separation anxiety…or how to leave with a child holding on to your leg!

Nothing worse than leaving a child screaming for you not to go…but most kids will have separation anxiety at some point!

I watched a poor Mom try to leave her toddler in the child care area of the place I work out in the other day.  The toddler was screaming, hanging on her leg, and Mom looked like she felt like the worst Mom in the world as she pried the child off her leg promising she would be back soon.  I smiled at her and said, “It is hard, but I am sure he will be happy by the time you get a ½ mile in on that treadmill.”   She peeked her head back in just a moment later (I know she couldn’t have run a 1/2 mile that fast!), and he was playing happily.   I remember that feeling of dread when I would leave especially with our 3rd daughter; she always melted down and was totally pitiful.  I remember resorting to promising all kinds of fun activities and treats when I returned.  Not sure that was the best tactic, but it helped my “Mommy guilt” a little.

Separation anxiety is a given in most children.  Some children experience greater anxiety than others, and almost all parents feel just as bad if not worse than their screaming child when they leave.  Separation anxiety can start in infancy, peak in the toddler years, and then hopefully decrease by the end of the preschool years.

  • Infants usually will not start to show separation anxiety until they develop the concept of object permanence at about 9 months of age.  Before that point, out of sight is out of  mind for an infant.
  • Toddlers will usually experience separation anxiety, even if they did not seem to experience it as an infant.  Separation anxiety will be at its peak between 18 and 24 months of age.  Toddlers will express their dislike of separation very loudly!
  • Preschoolers will start to be able to handle separation a bit more easily.  Some 3 and 4-year-olds will learn that their expression of discontent when parents leave will have an effect on Mom and Dad, and often will manipulate parents when they find out it works!


  • Always say good-bye.  It is tempting to sneak out when your child is involved in an activity.  This makes it easier on you, but harder on your child.  Sneaking out can actually increase separation anxiety in a child.  A child will start to become anxious every time he doesn’t see you fearing you have left.  Always say good-bye but keep it short and sweet, the longer the good-bye, the greater the anxiety.  Be sure that you give your child a hug, kiss and  your total attention before leaving.  Do not be multi-tasking as you say good-bye.
  • Tell your child you will return and give them a “time”.  This means “kid time”.  Tell them what time by what they will be doing.  “I will be back after you sleep.”  “I will be back after snack time.”
  • Separate often.  That is the key to getting over separation anxiety.  A child will learn that Mommy and Daddy leave, but they come back.  Separation does not have to be long, but it needs to happen enough that your child can remember the last time.  If you are a stay-at-home-Mom, you need to plan time away from your child.  It is good for you and your child.  If your child is starting daycare or preschool, practice being away and leaving your child for periods of time.

Soon your child will learn that he or she can handle the world when Mom or Dad is not always in eye view, that means you will have to learn that your child can handle the world without you too.  I am still learning that lesson.

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


Breaks, Sprains, and Nursemaid Elbow….oh my!

Nursemaid’s elbow is a common toddler injury…and this is one of the most common ways for it to happen!

Unfortunately, sometimes childhood comes with broken bones, sprains or the common nursemaid’s elbow injury.  Best treatment for all three is staying calm, immobilizing the area and seeking medical help.  That bubble wrap sounds better and better, right?  :)

Suspected Broken Bone or Sprain

  1. If the injury involves your child’s back or neck, keep your child and yourself calm, and do not let anyone move your child.  Call 911.
  2. If you suspect a broken bone, leave it in the position you found it and splint the injured limb.  A splint can be made from boards, broom handles, a piece of cardboard or a couple of magazines wrapped around the injured area.  The splint should extend beyond the joint above and below where the suspected injury is.
  3. Put ice or a cold pack on the area.  Do not put the ice or cold pack directly on your child’s skin, place a towel between it.  A bag of frozen vegetables works great!
  4. Stay calm, and try to keep your child calm.  Call your child’s medical provider or go directly to the Emergency Room.
  5. Sprains are very painful and usually swell and bruise fairly quickly.  It is often difficult to tell the difference between a sprain and a break.  If you are unsure, call your child’s health care provider or head to the Emergency Room.
  6. Sprains are best treated with RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation).  Do not put heat in any form on the injured area for at least 24 hours.  Heat will increase swelling and pain.  Elevate the injured limb and try wrapping it with an elastic bandage.  This will help control the swelling…but not too tight!  Be sure fingers or toes are still pink and warm!
  7. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen will  help with the discomfort.

Nursemaid’s Elbow

Nursemaid’s elbow is a very common injury especially during the toddler years.  It is sometimes called “toddler elbow”.  This injury usually happens when a child’s arm is pulled when it is extended, so when a parent is holding a toddler’s hand and the child falls, or a parent swings a child while holding his hand or a “wet noodle” toddler is picked up by the hands when he is refusing to go somewhere.  This injury is when the radius (a bone in the forearm) slips partially out of place at the elbow.  It is common in young children because often their little joints are loose.  A child with a nursemaid’s elbow will usually have pain in the elbow and then refuse to use it.  There is not a lot of pain after the initial moment, no swelling, and no real deformity.  The child will just hold the arm at his side or slightly bent and will often cry if you try to get him to use the arm.

  1. Apply ice or cold pack at the joint.  Remember, not directly on your child’s skin!
  2. Splint the arm in the position your child is holding it.
  3. Call your health care provider or go to the Emergency Room.
  4. The “fix” is simple and quick, usually just a simple movement of the arm.  There is very little discomfort with the “fix” and the child will be using the arm again within a few minutes.
  5. A child who has had this injury is more prone to it again…be careful about lifting a child by the hands!  I always cringe when I see a parent swinging their child playing “airplane”!

We parents never want to see our child injured, but sometimes it just is part of life with a child.  We can’t protect our children from all injury, but we can provide a safe home and play area and if an injury occurs, we can be prepared.  Stay tuned, the best items for a first aid kit is next.

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


Preparing your child (and YOU) for the start of preschool!

The first day of preschool can be difficult for your child and you!

The big yellow school buses are starting to show up around my house again.  My daughter has her first day of teaching 4th grade soon and my son will be heading back to college again soon. That familiar feeling of excitement for them and some sadness about them leaving and starting new beginnings has begun to creep back into my heart.  Transitions can be difficult for parents and children.  (in my case transition is more difficult for me than my older kids!  :) )  Many of your little ones will soon be starting Moms Day Out Programs or Preschool…are you and your child ready for that transition?  Sometimes dropping your child off at their school can result in a few tears from you and a few from your child.  Almost all children (and parents) have some separation anxiety at the start of preschool.  Sometimes children (and parents) revisit these feelings after holiday breaks, long weekends, and of course every fall as the new school year begins.  It is hard developmental work for a preschooler to transition to new routines, new places, meet new people and separate from Mom and Dad!  So give your child a little time and try a few of these tips to get through those first few weeks of school:

  1. Talk about school! Don’t just make general statements like “You will love it!”  “It will be so much fun!”  Talk about specifics.  What will your child do?  What kind of toys and activities will be there?  What is the daily schedule?  Drive by and point out where the school is.  Be sure to visit the school with your child at least once before the first official day.
  2. Add routine at home.  Start to structure your day at home a couple of weeks before school starts.  Practice transitioning in activities like snack, play time, and cleaning up.  Start earlier bedtime routines and wake up times if your child will be rising earlier for school.  Start laying out clothes the night before and eating breakfast quickly in the morning.  Practicing the morning routine helps remove stress that first few weeks of school.
  3. Read books about preschool.  Reading about the start of school helps open the door for conversations.  One of my favorites is The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.
  4. Have your own good-bye ritual.  Remember preschoolers have no real concept of time.  Saying  “I will be back in 3 hours!” means nothing.  Learn what the schedule is at school and tell your child that you will be back after the last story, or after snack…whatever the schedule is at school.  Keep your good-bye ritual simple.  If the good-bye is long and emotional (for you both) it will make your child more anxious (and you).  A simple hug, kiss, and a special private ritual like a high-five will work.  Using the same good-bye ritual will make transition easier.
  5. Never sneak away.  If you actually drop off in the classroom, get your child started with an activity and then say your good-bye.  Sneaking away will only increase your child’s anxiety.
  6. Get your emotions under control.  Your child will feed off of your anxiety.  Take a deep breath and save the tears for after you leave.  Your tears and constant “You will be fine…don’t worry!” comments only make your child more anxious!
  7. Try a transitional object.  Check with the school to see if your child may bring a comfort object “just in case”.  I sent a tissue with a lipstick “kiss” on it tucked in the pocket of my #3 daughter’s pocket when she had difficulty heading into kindergarten.  A lovey, family picture tucked in a backpack, or some other similar item can provide a little comfort when needed.
  8. Don’t be late…be early!  Being on time for pick up is so important! Children become very anxious if they are one of the last ones to be picked up, or they can’t see your car waiting in carpool line.  It is easy to try to  run one more errand when you have that free morning, but make being on time a priority.
  9. Give your child a big hug, kiss, and smile at pick up.  Sometimes a child will have an emotional reaction when he or she sees you at pick up, that often just means they have “held it together” for the day, and now the emotions flow.  That doesn’t mean the day was awful!
  10. Talk about the day.  Ask questions, “ooh and ahh” over the art projects, and talk about feelings if your child had a difficult time separating.  Give labels to those feelings and talk about strategies for the next time your child goes to school.  Talk about times when you were sad or nervous and what you did.  Don’t ignore the feelings…acknowledge and empathize.

Preschool, daycare,  grade school, high school (and college) are big transitions for your child and you!  A little preparation for both of you will help with the transition, but it still will tug at your heart-strings.  That is part of parenting…one heart tug after another…and the growth and development of one amazing child to an amazing adult.

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


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.


It is Summer…and the season for Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

hand foot and mouth

Hand foot and mouth disease is very contagious and often presents with fever, sore throat, mouth sores, and a flat red rash on hands and feet…

It is summer! Summer brings wonderful weather, outdoor play, fewer colds and flu; but more cases of hand , foot and mouth disease. Every summer I see cases of this common viral illness that usually affects infants and young children. This summer is no exception…it seems that it is spreading quickly in our area.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a contagious viral illness most commonly seen from spring to early fall. Most of the time a child will run a fever, not eat well, have a sore throat and just not feel well. A day or so after the fever begins; sores can develop in the mouth. Sometimes we see a flat red rash on the palms of hands and the soles of feet too. A rash can also pop up on a child’s knees, elbows, and bottom. The rash may blister but it won’t itch. After the rash disappears, there is often a peeling of the hands and feet. Not everyone will develop all of these symptoms, sometimes there may be little or no symptoms but the child can still pass the virus on to others.

There is no medicine to “cure” the virus….just time, fever reducing over the counter medicine, lots of fluids, cold foods to soothe the mouth sores, and lots of TLC. The illness is usually not serious and most children are feeling better in 7 to 10 days.

The reason this virus is sooo contagious is that it is passed child to child from nose and throat secretions (think runny noses and drooling kids!), in stool (dirty diapers!), and from any fluid from the blisters or rash. People are most contagious during the first few days of their illness, but may also still remain contagious for several weeks after the symptoms go away. Some people (especially adults) may never have any symptoms but can still spread the virus to others.

Call your child’s pediatrician if he is not drinking well because of mouth sores or a very sore throat, if your child complains of neck pain, chest pain, has difficulty breathing or you are just worried because your child is acting very ill. MOST of the time children recover without any serious problems…just a week of not feeling well.

Since we know that Hand Foot and Mouth is being shared by several families…be sure that your family is washing hands well. If your child is ill, keep them home and away from other children for the first few days of the sickness until the child is fever free. Disinfect commonly touched things like toys, doorknobs, and light switches.

Yes, it is summer….and summer always brings lots of fun…and the occasional irritating virus, right now it is hand foot and mouth…this too will pass!

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


Your Child’s Disappointments are Life Lessons


I will never forget standing next to our oldest daughter as her and my eyes searched the list of names of who made the “A” basketball team.  Her 7th grade friends were on the list….but her name was not.  I saw her shoulders slump and the tears come.  My heart ached as I thought about the disappointment washing over her.  In the scheme of life, this was such a minor disappointment, but for a 12 year old girl, it was catastrophic.  My initial thought was that the system was flawed.  No child should have this much disappointment…why should there be an “A” squad and a “B” squad?  I saw her free throws…she made as many as anyone else…maybe they scored her wrong!

Over the years I have seen all four of our children dealing with disappointments, and it has not been easy, but I have certainly gained perspective since that night.  I have learned that the disappointments my children have experienced in life have provided the backbone of their successes later.  I have learned that “fixing” all of their disappointments actually gets in the way of their growth.  The most valuable lesson through disappointment is perseverance.  Our kids will always have disappointments in life, there are birthday parties they won’t be invited to, elections they will lose, teams they won’t make, championships that will be lost, denial letters from first choice colleges, and “thanks for applying” letters from jobs.  You know that life brings disappointments.  How our children learn to handle and use these disappointments will determine how they will handle them later in life.  Our response to their disappointments will shape their responses.

So, I shed a few silent tears with her as we sat in the car that night after learning she didn’t make the team with her friends.  We talked about the positives of being able to play more on the “B” team and not sit the bench, we talked about meeting some new friends, and we talked about working hard to improve.  I watched her work a little harder at her game, make a few new friends and have a fun season.  This story does not end with her becoming a star basketball player in high school….she played but sat the bench a lot.  But the lessons she learned far outweighed the disappointment she felt that night at 12.

We as parents need to remember that we can’t always rescue our children from sadness, disappointment, and hurt.  We never like to see our children suffer those emotions, but preventing them or “fixing” the situation doesn’t really fix anything at all.  We need to learn to step back and let our children navigate the disappointment….thus building their will and character.  Wrap them up in your love, stand with them shoulder to shoulder and help them embrace their disappointments as opportunities. What a gift to give your child, learning that they will be loved through hardships in life, and they are strong enough to grow from them.

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


The heat is on!

The heat is on!

Summer heat is here, and we haven’t had much of it this year.  It will be over the 90 degree mark today, so there might be milkshakes for dinner in the Love house.  Many summers ago on a very hot evening we did have milkshakes for dinner, and it was one of those traditions that stuck.  I really don’t remember why we did it, to be honest  I probably was tired, had nothing planned for dinner, the kids were hot, and what the heck….ice cream sounded good.  Since that night, it is “tradition” to have ice cream for dinner on the first very hot day of summer.  (all four of my children have grown up healthy and strong, no real detriment to their health!) :) Today will be one of those hot days…in fact it will be dangerously hot this week as it is predicted to be 100 degrees or hotter with the heat index.  With sports beginning with the start of school and active children at home, a few reminders about the heat just might be necessary.

We need to be aware of the risks of extreme heat and our children.  Children don’t realize the affect of the extreme heat on their bodies.  Children produce more body heat during physical activity and they sweat less than adults and children tend to drink less than adults.  This is the perfect set up for dehydration and heat related illness for a child. What can you do to help your child handle the heat?

  • If you have an infant or young child, keep your child inside in the cool to play today, especially during the hottest part of the day between noon and 4:00 pm.
  • Be aware of the humidity.  Often the humidity makes the temperature much more dangerous.  With high humidity, perspiration is not able to evaporate and cool your child’s body.
  • If you are outside, dress your child lightly in loose clothing and keep your child in the shade.  Always use a broad spectrum sunscreen.
  • Take extra water to any outdoor activities.  Remind your older children to drink even if they say they are not thirsty.  Remember that nursing babies and formula fed babies under 6 months of age don’t need extra fluids.  Breast feeding and bottle feeding will provide the fluids they need.
  • Interrupt play and give your child a drink.  Use Popsicles, shaved ice and juice, fun straws, and other creative, fun ways to encourage fluids for older children.
  • Be your child’s advocate if he or she is participating in sports practices or games during heat waves.  Children and teens should cut back their practice time and take more frequent breaks during games.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) tells coaches and parents that a child should be well hydrated before a practice or game and should drink often, about every 20 minutes.  The AAP recommends five ounces of cool water every 20 minutes for a child weighing under 90 pounds and 9 oz for a child weighing over 90 pounds.  Be sure that children drink after the activity to replace fluids that were lost.  FYI:  an ounce is about 2 gulps.
  • Be sure that coaches have the philosophy of no limited water intake and know the signs and symptoms of heat related illnesses.  All coaches should take precaution during days of extreme heat, be sure that your child’s coach does!  (I have been the crazy Mom watching the football practice to be sure the kids were getting water breaks!)
  • Prickly heat rash are small red bumps that are common in young children in areas with perspiration. It is often seen in the crooks of elbows, back necks, and on tummys.  Dress your child lightly in breathable fabrics, and keep the area dry and cool.
  • Never leave your child in the car seat in the car even for a short time…“Beat the heat and check the back seat”

Signs of dehydration include:

  • Thirst
  • Dry or tacky mouth
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Irritability/fussiness
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness

Signs of heat exhaustion may include:

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Profuse sweating
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Cool, moist, pale skin
  • Cramps
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

Signs of Heat Stroke may include:  (call 911 immediately)

  • Dry hot skin
  • Extremely high body temperature
  • No sweating
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Rapid weak pulse

If your child is mildly dehydrated or has some minor signs of heat exhaustion, bring them to a cool place, give cool fluids to drink, cool them off with a cool bath or wet cloths placed on their neck and groin area.  If your child does not feel better or has any signs of severe heat exhaustion or heat stroke, do not wait…call 911.

So on days like today, sit back, dress cool, relax, stay inside, play something quiet and drink a big glass of lemonade, or maybe a Popsicle, the heat is a perfect excuse to slow it down and keep it simple.  Hmmm ice cream for dinner anyone?

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


Raising an unspoiled child…how to strike that parenting balance


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??

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Watch how much screen time your child has. Advertising knows how to send the message to your child on what he “needs”!
  5. 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!
  6. Let natural consequences of life happen for your child…bumps in the road happen, learning to handle that is essential.
  7. 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!
  8. Give your child chores and responsibility. In the real world, we are all responsible for something. This fosters a good work ethic too.
  9. Remember, giving your child things does not replace your child’s need for your time.
  10. 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.




Stuttering or stammering…should you worry?

excited child

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.


Baby talk! Encouraging language development in your child.

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

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

Believe me, hearing the sweet voice of your child say “Ma Ma” or “Da Da” is one of those moments you always remember.  Later, I can remember thinking….”Maybe I should change my name, I am tired of hearing ‘MO-OMMMM!’ ”  Suddenly it was a two syllable word that rocked the house!  Now, I love hearing “Mom” when I get that phone call 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

0-3 Months

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

4-6 Months

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

7 Months – 1 Year

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

1 Year – 2 Year

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

2 Year – 3 Year

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

When do you refer?

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

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

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



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