Toddlers

Potty Training and Giving up the Pacifier: A Relaxed (and Attached) Mom’s Perspective

My child is three years and three months old and she occasionally she pee-pees and poo-poos in her pants. Not every time, not all the time. But often enough.

Recently when my daughter started at a new daycare she was not potty trained as was required by the program. She was still in pull-ups full time and had not been showing any interest in moving towards full time use of the potty. At the daycare’s advice, I took the pull-ups away cold turkey and put her in underwear during the day. This worked to some extent but not completely.

To add another layer to this, she was not allowed to use her pacifier during naptime because the program was for preschoolers and not for toddlers. I’ve heard from others that this is not unheard of, that many preschool programs except a child to be completely potty trained and do not permit use of the pacifier. The potty training I can understand due to the license and the teacher-child ratio, but the pacifier at naptime? That I do not understand.

Having come directly from a smaller toddler classroom in a daycare where they put her on the changing table to change her, sat her on the potty once a day to practice, and let her have her pacifier whenever she was upset or taking a nap, this changes were a pretty big shock to her and seriously turned her world upside down.

In the end, she was not able to potty train fast enough and the amount of help she needed was more than the daycare could offer. I was also encouraged to raise my expectations for my child and to consistently send her the message that she is a big girl and to not offer help around pottying and dressing.

Some of society’s ideas about child development fly in the face of what I feel is right for my daughter. At three she’s been on the earth for approximately 820 days. At day 821 she’s supposed to give up the warmth and comfort and security that comes along with having a mother guide her and carry her through some pretty major developmental changes? She’s also supposed to give up her pacifier because she’s crossed some arbitrary line into preschoolhood rather than toddlerhood?

This is the crux of the clash of my world view, as it applies to parenting and childrearing, and some other mainstream ways of thinking about child development.

When I posted my potty training dilemma on Facebook, some provided sympathy, whereas others felt that I needed to examine why my daughter, at three years old, was so “late” in being weaned off the pacifier and why she wasn’t potty trained.

This reaction shocked me. It had gone from being an issue whereby my child simply wasn’t potty trained to an implication that I was infantalizing my child.

My approach to parenting is definitely an “It’ll happen when it happens” type of attitude, whereby the child takes the lead in his or her developmental changes. I believe that a child will hold onto what they need until they no longer need it and that a child will make their emotional needs known somehow or another.

I also don’t see a problem with helping my child with new tasks that she is starting to master. There may be times when she can do it completely independently and times when she wants me to do it for her. When she’s tired or crabby or has had a long day, it is natural that she will want her mother’s assistance. She needs me as her object of security. There are times when she wants me to dress her and feed her and hold her hand and rock her. And I do—with pleasure. I do it because I know that I am meeting her emotional needs at that moment and that even though she is capable of pulling up her pants by herself, she simply wants the comfort of knowing her mother is there to do it for her when she asks her to.

Through all of this it has become even clearer to me that my views of parenting and childrearing, which are primarily based in attachment theory, don’t always mesh with the world at large, especially a world in which individuality and self reliance is valued over all else. In my view and practices, the relationship between me and my child is prioritized over independence. If independence is going to come at the cost of a sense of comfort then I choose comfort and security.

As for the transition to a new placement, I can only imagine that for my child,  this move to a center where they are better able to meet her needs will provide her with a renewed sense of being allowed to be who she is at this moment in time—to be the half baby/half big girl that she is; to be able to pee in the potty, or in her panties or on someone else’s lawn (if that’s where she is when she needs to go!); and to become a big girl over time and at her own pace.

As for now she’ll continue to pee in her pants from time to time and she’ll continue to suck on her pacifier when she’s feeling the need for comfort, and that’s okay with me. She’ll stay with some of these “baby things” until she’s good and ready to give them up completely. In the meantime I’ll help out by spoon feeding her when she’s tired and hungry and pull up her pants when she wants me to. I’ll encourage her and teach her to do things on her own while remaining there as a safety net when she falls. On the way I’ll gently move her towards being the big girl that she’s on her way to becoming without any rush and without any urgency.

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Imaginary Play from BabyCenter

http://www.babycenter.com/0_how-to-raise-an-imaginative-child_65586.bc?scid=preschooler_20120626:3&pe=MlVBUVFYYnwyMDEyMDYyNg

It’s no surprise if by now you find yourself living with a princess, a unicorn, Batman, or a Tyrannosaurus rex. Children are hardwired to be imaginative, and your preschooler’s imagination has really gotten rolling. And you get to be privy to more and more of her make-believe world, now that she has more sophisticated verbal skills.

Although you could sit by and watch the fun, it’s even better if you join in now and then. “A preschooler’s imagination develops naturally, but there’s a lot you can do to spark it,” says Kristi Alexander, a pediatric psychologist at AlliantInternationalUniversity in San Diego. “As you expose her to new sights, sounds, and sensations, you open her mind to a bigger world.” At each stage of your child’s imaginative development, listening to her and taking part in her games (when you’re welcome, of course) will help you keep up with what she’s thinking. And who knows? You might revitalize your own imagination in the process.

How your preschooler’s imagination works

Your preschooler has probably gotten the hang of thinking abstractly: The couch can easily become a ship at sea, and her toast makes a perfectly plausible telephone. Now she may also engage in increasingly social games of pretend — playing “kitty family” with you, for example. (Warning: She’ll probably be the mama cat, and you’ll get the role of helpless kitten.)

Why encouraging imagination is important

An active imagination helps your preschooler in more ways than you might think.

Improving vocabulary. Children who play imaginary games or listen to lots of fairy tales, stories read aloud from books, or tales spun by those around them tend to have noticeably better vocabularies.

Taking control. Pretending lets your preschooler be anyone he wants, practice things he’s learned, and make situations turn out the way he wants. Stories where the brave little boy thwarts the evil witch or playacted fantasies of being the one to rescue his fellow pirates from that sinking ship give him a sense that he can be powerful and in control even in unfamiliar or scary situations.

Learning social rules. Getting along socially can be tricky at any age. When your preschooler joins the other kids in the sandbox to create a castle out of sand, sticks, and leaves, she’s not only exploring a fantasy world, she’s learning complex, real-world rules about sharing, social interaction, and resolving conflicts.

Solving problems. Dreaming up imaginary situations teaches your child to think creatively in real life. Whether at school or at home, it’s often adults who decide what children will do and how they’ll do it, and it’s adults who solve any problems that arise. But in play, kids decide what to do and how to do it (how to capture the monster, for example), and how to solve problems (anything from what to do about Bobby’s skinned knee to how to include a pouty playmate who feels left out).

What you can do to spark your preschooler’s imagination

Read books. Reading stories together about unfamiliar lands and people is a good way to fuel your child’s fantasy life, and books that expand her vocabulary of words and images will help, too. (How can you imagine sailing a pirate ship if you’ve never seen one?) With storybooks, she can explore visual details, make up stories, and “read” to herself. If you’re reading the text, stop often to explore the pictures and talk about what’s happening: “Imagine how Annie must have felt when she lost her sister’s ring!” Encourage your preschooler to make up her own endings to the stories you read. Read about the world, show her pictures of everything from beetles to pinwheels, and explore in further detail those things that interest her most.

Share stories. Telling your own made-up stories is just as good for your child’s imagination as reading a book together. Not only will your tales provide a sense of possibilities for his inventive thinking, they’ll demonstrate the basics of creating characters and plots. And using your child as the main character is a great way to expand his sense of self.

Before long, your preschooler will offer her own narratives and adventures. In fact, because her understanding of the difference between reality and fantasy is still limited, she may occasionally make up a wild story she fully expects everyone to believe. Play along and enjoy her creativity — as long as it’s all in good fun. If your child is frightening herself with a scary tale (e.g., there’s a monster in her closet), put on the brakes and clarify what’s real and what’s not.

Another idea: Trade off lines of a story. While you’re driving, say to her, “Once upon a time there was a dog. She lived with a little girl, and they liked to go to the park. One day…” Then give your child a turn. Let her tell the fun parts, like naming the girl and the dog and describing the climax and the ending.

Relish her artwork. For most preschoolers, exploration of materials is the most important aspect of making art. So as she works with the supplies you’ve given her — water, clay, sand, dough, paints, papers, buttons, ribbons — respect the process. For her, a piece of cardboard glued onto some colored paper is a good enough result. She doesn’t want or need to hear that her finished puppet “should look like this.”

Even “pictures” at this point will be largely lines and shapes on the page, though by age 4 many kids start dabbling in representational drawing. When your preschooler draws a picture, rather than trying to guess what it is (unless she’s a budding Rembrandt, chances are you’ll guess wrong anyway), ask her to interpret it for you. Instead of “What a beautiful house!” say, “What cool colors you’ve used! What’s happening in this picture?”

Make music. Although your child probably isn’t ready for structured piano lessons, you can still fill her world with music. Listen to a variety of tunes together, and encourage her to participate by singing, dancing, or playing homemade or toy instruments. She can follow along with a song being played, or make up her own, complete with lyrics. (Be sure to have a video or audio recorder on hand!)

Encourage pretend play. Children learn a lot from dramatizing events from their daily — and fantasy — lives. When your preschooler invents a scenario and plot line and peoples it with characters (“I’m the daddy and you’re the baby and you’re sick”), he develops social and verbal skills. He’ll work out emotional issues as he replays scenarios that involve feeling sad, happy, frightened, or safe. Imagining himself as a superhero, a horse, or a wizard makes him feel powerful and gives him a sense of what it’s like to be in charge. And he develops his understanding of cause and effect as he imagines how you or his friend or his cat would behave in a particular situation. He’s also exploring the world of discipline, since he’s making the rules, either by himself or with the help of a playmate (the array of intricate rules kids come up with always astounds adults).

Provide props. Towels become turbans, plastic bracelets become precious jewels, old bathroom rugs turn into magic carpets, and that moth-eaten collection of stuffed animals transforms itself into a rain forest, animal hospital, or farm. Because preschoolers love to take on the role of someone else — a parent, a baby, a pet — a simple object like a toy cash register or a chalkboard can be all that’s needed to spark creative play. Since most of the action takes place inside your child’s head, the best props are often generic, and detailed costumes modeled after specific cartoon characters or action figures aren’t really the ticket here.

Providing a special box or trunk to hold pretending paraphernalia can make fantasy play even more of an adventure, especially if you occasionally restock when your child’s not looking (“Let’s see what’s in the trunk today!”). Including more than one of the same item can help, too, since two pirates or princesses are always better than one.

Use the computer judiciously. Just because tech companies are churning out software for kids doesn’t mean your child will turn out computer-illiterate if she doesn’t do daily computer time. Still, there are some quality programs for preschoolers that can spark your child’s imagination, from drawing, painting, and music software to virtual treasure hunts. And the Internet can be an invaluable resource for looking up topics of interest — hunting down the latest photos of Jupiter or colorful pictures of a coral reef — and for exposing your child to different cultures and ideas from around the world.

Limit TV time. When it comes to your child’s TV viewing, less is better. There are some excellent programs out there that teach kids, say, how a baby kangaroo behaves or how other kids their age live in Japan, and you can record shows to provide quality programming at convenient times. But don’t overdo it.

Movies and TV shows tend to limit a budding imagination since they do the visualizing for your child. The AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics recommends that children aged 2 and over stick to no more than one to two hours of entertainment media per day. Resist the temptation to use TV as an electronic babysitter; instead, sit and watch along with her, posing questions, expanding on ideas presented in the show or movie, and finding out what strikes her as most interesting.

How to live with your preschooler’s imagination

Set limits. Creating and enforcing rules — no hitting with the “sword” — is crucial for everyone’s sake. But if you can, let your child live for a bit with the reminders of her flights of fancy. The fact that the dining room table isn’t available for dinner because it’s currently serving as an igloo gives you the perfect excuse to have a “picnic” on the living room floor.

Accept her imaginary friend. Experts believe that having an imaginary friend is a sign of a creative, social child who’s found a way to help manage her own fears or concerns. Some studies suggest as many as half of kids have an imaginary pal at some point.

However, if your child starts blaming the buddy for something she did, it’s time for a reality check. You don’t need to accuse her of lying, but do address the behavior. Have your child, along with the imaginary sidekick, rectify the situation (clean up the mess, apologize, etc.) and make it clear the act was unacceptable.

Keep messes manageable. Yes, reenacting the story of Hansel and Gretel might lead to a trail of crumbs through the living room. If you have the space, it’s a good idea to designate a room, or part of a room, as an arts and crafts corner, where your child is free to create without worrying about making a mess.

Some containment strategies can also help: Old button-down shirts make great smocks when worn backwards with the sleeves cut off, plastic sheeting under the Play-Doh construction site can protect the rug, and large sheets of butcher paper over the crafts table can prevent an encrusted layer of multicolored paints or glue.

Enjoy the offbeat. When your child wants to wear his space commander outfit to preschool for the third day in a row, it’s tempting to say no. Adults are socialized to draw strict lines between “public” and “private” behavior — your funky gray sweatpants and rabbit slippers are fine around the house, but not at a restaurant — and it’s hard to realize children don’t think that way. But if you find yourself forcing a confrontation (“Take off your Halloween costume now“), remember that your preschooler doesn’t recognize these boundaries yet, and consider letting it go. In the grand scheme of things, a kid in a kooky outfit may not be worth worrying about.

The Power of Modeling Behavior for Children: A Run-in with a Caterpillar

The power of a mother, father or other trusted adult figure to shape a young child’s life is amazing and at times seemingly limitless.

This last week, while out on a walk, I looked down and saw a very beautiful caterpillar. I stopped to point it out to my daughter so that she could admire and experience its beauty as well.

And then I came to a fork in the road. Should I pick it up or leave it on the ground?

Honestly…I had no desire to touch that creepy, crawly, little caterpillar with sticky legs. Yuck.

But I did. I went down the fork I didn’t want to go down. I put my hand in front of it, put a big smile on my face and let that little creature crawl up my hand. Surprisingly, I found myself thinking, “Hey, this isn’t so creepy after all. Not as bad as I thought!” I remembered when I was young and collected caterpillars in a box. Did I let them crawl up my hand then? I can’t remember.

No less than two seconds later the little one below me cries…”I wanna hold it.” The little guy crawled freely around her hand and on her sweatshirt for a long time. She never showed one sign of distress or discomfort. Five minutes later we put it back on the grass to let it go and as we walked away she turned back, crying for the caterpillar, “I wann caerpiwarrrr…”

She was so distressed we went back for a little more of that little guy marching up and down her sleeve.

Wow! She was in heaven. You can see a really genuine, calm happiness peeking out from behind that binky.

Had I said, “No, don’t touch…Icky,” she most likely would never have experienced the beauty of that little crawly thing and would have been one step further away from nature and its glory.

I’m happy for her and proud of myself for taking a leap and putting my finger in front of those sticky little legs. I knew it was the right thing to do and I did it.

It may seem like just a little thing but I would like to believe that the outcome was bigger than that small act.  Little did I know how much the power of modeling would hold for a child of this age and how much joy she would gain as a result.

Teaching Toddlers Values: The Creation of a Person

I’ve recently come to realize that parenting a toddler is a full time job, and not just in the tedious, labor intensive way that building a house or plowing snow is.

It’s about something much more critical to the long-term well being of our children. It’s about the oh-so-important job of creating a person.

CREATING A PERSON?

Yes, creating a person—a person that we as parents can be proud of. A person that is steal, lie or cheat in order to get their basic needs met. It’s about creating a person who can move through the world with ease and with dignity. It’s about creating a person who knows right from wrong and acts according and about creating a person who gives and receives love and charity easily and with grace.

And it takes every second of every single minute that you’re with this little being-in-the-making.

There is no time for a break, no time to relax. If you stop to breathe for a moment you will miss a teachable moment.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I like to relax and I don’t think I go toooverboard on the whole parenting business. It’s just that these little free-spirited toddlers that know no impulse control and are running around like little savages don’t give you the opportunity to take a moment to rest and to breathe.

When they smack the dog in the head you are forced to take the opportunity to teach the value of kindness and gentleness towards others. When they march into the Director’s office of the daycare and say “I have sticker?” you have to teach them the value of good manners. “Say ‘por favor’! Say ‘gracias’! Say ‘adios’!” (My daughter actually goes to an amazing daycare where the staff are all native Spanish speakers and they speak Spanish all day to the children.)

Here’s a short list of some of the values I’ve identified as ones that I subconsciously and consciously have been trying to teach my toddler:

1. Expressing and Exuding Kindness of Spirit

I want my child to be a warm and good person. I want her to show her friends that she loves them and appreciates them. I want her to be kind and friendly to people she knows and to strangers she meets in the street. I encourage her to approach people and when she spontaneously smiles and engages in conversation with strangers, I facilitate the conversation whether the person on the receiving end is interested or not. I don’t want to squelch the natural social behaviors that I see coming from her on a daily basis.

2. Sharing

Every toddler needs to learn how to share and aren’t we given the daily opportunity to encourage that? I feel very fortunate that my child loves to share with her peers even when she is not asked to. Mostly this comes in the form of food. I have to ask myself if she is imitating me (given that 99% of what she does is mimicking my behavior), and if I think about it, she may certainly be doing so. I love to cook and I always offer some of what I have made to everyone around me.

3. Generosity

Similar to sharing. I want her to be generous to others and to share her belongings or her food or her toys. Generosity is a value that was instilled in me and I want to instill that in her as well. I want her to give and give freely. I want her to enjoy the warm feelings one gets from sharing and giving to others.

4. Expressing Love

I want my child to be warm, to give hugs, to show her friends and family that she likes and loves them.

5. Connecting with Others in a Meaningful Way

I want my daughter to develop meaningful relationships. I want her to greet others when she sees them after they’ve been gone and to say hello and good-bye and good-night to show that she cares about the presence they play in her life. It would be easy enough for her to not greet her peers and to just start playing but I make a point of having her go up to her friends and to say hello, to have her hold hands with them, to have her appreciate their friendship.

6. Engaging in Good Manners and Appropriate Social Behavior

Of course she needs to engage in the standard social niceties: Please, thank you, you’re welcome, hello, good-bye. No hitting, shoving, biting, etc.

7. Patience

This is a hard one to teach a toddler as they like to push the limits and to act as if nothing short of immediate gratification is acceptable. I deliberately use the word “patience” with her while she is waiting for something. I sit by her side and hold her close to me. “We need to be patient,” I tell her. “It’s hard, I know. Sometimes we need to wait. That is being patient.” I am trying to teach her the concept of patience rather than just the behavior of needing to wait. I think it will have more value in the long run this way.

8. Turn-taking

Turn-taking is about recognizing and understanding that there are other people in the world besides herself. As a concept and a behavior it goes beyond playing games or using the playground equipment. It is the understanding that we have our own needs but that we need to watch for and meet the needs of others, even if they do not ask us to.

9. Understanding and Acceptance of Diversity

This is harder to teach to toddlers but when she asks me questions about people who look different from her I explain the difference in a way that is factual, accepting and open, without secrets. I help her to understand what makes people different from each other.

10. To Love, Respect and Appreciate Nature

How could I forget this? In some ways it is the most important value in a technology-laden , eyes-glued-to-the-screen age. Because of an ever-increasing dependence on electronics, it is imperative that we teach our youngsters that the world is bigger than they are, that getting dirty is okay, and that food comes from the earth. Giving them the opportunity to feel leaves crunch under their feet, rain falling on their faces and dirt in their hands, are all ways we engage in the enormous job of teaching them to love and appreciate the earth and the world we live in.

How do you teach these values to little people?

Well, I’ve examined how my time is spent engaging in this ongoing task of facilitating the development of one (hopefully) amazing human being and this is what I’ve come up with…

  1. One of the ways is to model the behavior or action for her. Saying please to her; saying thank you to her; showing her how her momma does it. I read somewhere that this is actually more effective than continually reminding them of how to behave.
  2. Another way is reinforcing her positive behaviors. Anytime a “positive” behavior is produced you praise the heck out of them. If she spontaneously shares or offers a cookie to a friend, “That was wonderful! What a nice job you did sharing! You are sooo sweet!” Watch the happy look that comes over their face. They feel good having pleased you and are likely to repeat the behavior simply because of the praise they received.
  3. A third way is correcting negative behaviors. “We don’t hit when we’re angry. We say, ‘That makes me mad.” In addition to pointing out what they did wrong, and even more importantly, is to tell them what TO DO rather than what not to do. This can be very helpful when you’re in the moment. If your child is reaching out to hit, you can catch the hand and say… “No, no…we don’t hit to get what we want. We ask for what we need. Can you ask your friend for the ball?” Telling them what to do gives them a behavior they can act on rather than just feeling reprimanded or punished.

Well, those are my thoughts on teaching toddlers values. Interestingly, these are probably the values that will continue on as my child ages and develops. So, in essence, as parents we are creating the core values that our children will carry forth with them for the rest of their lives. It’s an amazing time in their development as they are soaking up everything like little sponges and imitating every little thing we do. This is the prime time for developing all of those pro-social behaviors that we want to see in our children. In essence, we’re in the throes of helping to create the people we want our children to be in ten and twenty years. It’s a big job – bigger than I ever imagined – but one that I signed up to do and one that I do not take lightly!

Positive Parenting: Time Outs May Not Be the Best Choice

http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/805746/positive-discipline-why-timeouts-dont-work

 

By Susan Stiffelman

Susan Stiffelman is a licensed marriage and family therapist, educational consultant and parenting coach. Through her private practice, public presentations, workshops, teleclasses and website, she has become a source of advice and support for parents around the world. Her book, Cool, Calm and Connected: How to Avoid Negotiations, Arguments and Meltdowns With Your Kids is now available in bookstores. Susan can be reached at www.passionateparenting.net.

Do time-outs work as punishment for children? Family therapist and author Susan Stiffelman explains why they don’t work, why they can actually cause clinginess in your child — and what techniques are much more effective.

There’s no doubt about it: Time-outs work. Sort of. They work because unless a child has become hardened and aloof, the experience of being separated from a parent’s comforting presence is unpleasant at best and intolerable at worst. But they come at a price, and eventually they stop working –because they violate one of the three primary drives of a child’s brain: the need for close and secure attachment.

Children need a secure attachment

Children are wired to be closely connected to their caretakers. Attachment is vital to their survival and well-being. Unlike the young of other mammals, little humans are utterly dependent on their guardians to provide food, warmth, shelter and nurturing; we simply cannot survive without being connected to those who care for us.

When a misbehaving child is sent to their room to “think about” their offense, the only thing they’re really thinking about is either how soon they can get back to Mommy or Daddy or how much they hate their parent for sending them away.

The former response is what we initially see in a younger child whose experience of anxiety at being separated from the parent shoots through the roof. The latter response — anger and contempt — happens when the child feels outraged at being ostracized.

What role does discipline play in parenting?

Why time-outs don’t work

The problems with time-outs are numerous. First, at the very time when the angry or misbehaving child is out of control and in need of the calming influence of a caring parent, they’re left to settle down entirely on their own. Most children are incapable of doing this. They need a grown up to help them come back to themselves when they’re swept up in the storm of their emotions. A child whose behavior has been so impulsive or destructive as to warrant being sent away shouldn’t be left to his own devices to become centered again.
 
Sending a child away when they’re distressed is essentially saying to them, “I can’t handle you when you show this side of yourself. Come back when you can be the manageable Susie or Johnny that I can handle.” Not only are we telling the child that we only find the good, compliant version of themselves acceptable, we’re also declaring our inability to cope with all of who they are.

As I’ve said in many other articles, a child deeply needs their parent to function as the confident Captain of the ship in their life. When a parent sends a child away because they can’t handle their misbehavior, they’re effectively telling them that they (the child) have the power to render them (the parent) incompetent and helpless.

Time-outs increase separation anxiety

One of the characteristics I see in children whose parents routinely use time-outs is clinginess. Unless (or until) these kids become hardened and indifferent, they handle separation badly. While it usually works to tell a child who refuses to leave the park, “Okay, then, I’m leaving without you!” (most kids will indeed come running), the anxiety created by chronically threatening a child with separation damages their core sense of security and connection.

Time out for time outs?

What can you do?

When a parent functions as the Captain of the ship in their child’s life, there’s a natural dynamic at play that makes time-outs largely unnecessary. Sure, there are always times when our kids are cranky, hungry, jealous or running on empty, but if we do our best to anticipate problems before they manifest, we can usually avoid behavior getting out of hand.

For all practical purposes, time-outs are the equivalent of shunning a child. In most societies, shunning is considered the most dreadful form of punishment. When we instead manage a child’s misbehavior while preserving their sense of connection with us, we avoid the harmful effects of time-outs — which in the long run, create more problems than they solve.

How can you become the Captain of the ship in your child’s life, parenting without needing to bribe, threaten or resort to time-outs? Click here to read, “Avoiding power struggles: Parenting without bribes or threats.”

More on discipline

Shopping for and Choosing Infant and Toddler Shoes: Oh, the Places You Can Go!!

Choosing and buying shoes for your child can be an overwhelming and expensive endeavor, especially because each developmental stage and seasonal change brings forth a new selection of shoes, boots and slippers.

I love shoes – as you will find out below – and it’s been fun for me to buy my daughter shoes. Here are a few tips and some pointers from someone who is way too familiar with the infant-toddler shoe scene! 

CRIB SHOES OR INFANT SHOES (PRE-WALKING)
Infant shoes (also called crib shoes) are the little leather slipper type shoe that the baby wears up until he or she can walk and a little past that point. In my opinion Robeez are probably the best but part of that is because I didn’t buy other brands.

I did have one pair of non-Robeez crib shoes. They were from Target and were given to me as a gift. They were cute and comfortable but they didn’t last very long. The leather on top started peeling off and they wore out VERY quickly. They did not hold up well compared to the Robeez.

A friend of mine swears by the Soft Star shoes. She had her boy in them from the time he was crawling until he started walking and then she bought him another pair. They were the only shoes he wore. According to their website, the company is “passionate about minimal footwear for healthy development of bones, muscles and balance.” They make all of their shoes by hand.

The Soft Star mocassins are described as having “soft suede uppers and our strong, soft suede sole…[with] genuine sheepskin innersoles that keep the foot protected, dry and comfortable. Sheepskin is nature’s heat regulator – and keeps feet dry in the summer, and cozy in the winter. Inner elastic hugs the ankle which makes the shoe easy to slip on, and they stay on.” You can also design your own but that would just leave me feeling completely overwhelmed!

They also have an option for regular or wide so if your child has wide feet this might be the place to go. I think they also will use an outline drawn of your child’s foot if you are custom ordering.

I also just noticed while researching for this post that they have “classroom shoes” and Waldorf or Montessori shoes. That kind of cracked me up—But then I ordered a pair! My girl is starting at Montessori preschool in a couple of months and doesn’t have any soft-soled shoes. The kids don’t wear their street shoes in the classroom so I figured it’d be a good way to go. I got a pair on clearance for twenty-something.

WHEN THEY START WALKING
When the babies start walking outside you can still put Robeez on them but realize the soft leather will wear out very quickly on the cement and other hard surfaces. There are some models of Robeez shoes that have a sturdier bottom and they are better for walking outside. We had a pair with sheep on them that my daughter LOVED. She liked them so much that we ended up buying a second pair when she outgrew the first pair.

They held up really well. In part because of the thicker bottom, which was still quite flexible but doesn’t wear out like the soft leather.

We both LOVED the Riley Roos that I bought her, even more than Robeez. They were by far my favorite of all of her shoes. The orange Riley Roos shown below are the exact shoe we had, except we had them in brown.

They are comfortable and soft and have a sturdy bottom. She wore them until her toe was all the way up to the end of the shoe!

Here’s a pair of the Soft Star shoes that look like they have a sturdier sole. Soft Star also makes shoes for adults. I think they also have a sale once a year where the percentage off starts out low (like 10%) and then increases as the end of the sale nears.

BOOTS
We also had these pink Riley Roos boots. She wore them quite a bit. They were very cute and comfortable but they did not hold up very well. They leather pulled away at the seams. They were good for the one winter season but have pretty much come apart to the point that I can’t resell them on Ebay.

We also had these Robeez boots. I loved them. They were soft and supple but had a lot of warm foot coverage. They looked really cozy and if they made them for adults I would totally buy myself a pair. They also come in pink. I’m surprised I didn’t have them in both colors!

Of course, when the snow starts to fall, you will need a pair of snowboots. I don’t recommend spending a lot of money on snowboots but there’s one thing you have to watch for…Access into the boot! If there’s a once inch zipper that goes down and you’re expected to cram a moving child’s food into it, don’t buy them. Look for boots that have zippers on both the left and the right side of the shoe or some way that the tounge goes WAY down. The more you can open up the boot the better, otherwise you’ll be banging and pulling and tugging and pushing trying to get your child’s foot down into the boot and ultimately you won’t know how successful you are because they can’t tell you. You’ll know when they get up and start walking and trip over the boot and land on their face. Then it’s back to the drawing board. It can be quite frustrating, amusing and time-consuming. Oh, and if the kid isn’t into having the boot put on in the first place, good luck. The meltdown will just be prolonged and you’ll end up carrying your child to the car and throwing the boots in the back seat. My advice: Find a boot that opens up!!!!

HOUSE SLIPPERS
Honestly, I have not found a pair of slippers that I have liked for my child, either as an infant or a toddler. For infants, I have found that socks with good ribbing around the ankle are the best. As for toddler slippers, 90% of them have either fallen off or ended up around her ankles as she was running around. Maybe that’s because she has skinny feet. Not sure. She does have a pair of Elmo slippers from Target that have worked out well. They stay on and they are cute. They have an enormous amount of ribbing around the top which might be why they stay on. The Minnetonka Moccasins did not work for us either. I had one pair that I couldn’t get on her feet – they were too tight in the toes. Another pair wouldn’t stay on her, even with socks.

SUMMER SANDALS
I prefer close-toes sandals to open-toed just because the open toe can get hung up on surfaces causing them to trip and fall especially on the playground.

I bought my daughter these Nike sandals this summer because they were so darn cute. She loves them. They are even a little bit long for her yet they stay on. They’re made from a neoprene type of material so they are quite good in the pool or the lake. They are close-toed so she can go on the playground in them. Plus they look good even when she’s wearing a little dress or a shorts outfit.

I’m not a fan of Crocs even if they are super cute; they don’t really seem to stay on or to be that practical. On playground equipment they seem to be too loose and unsafe.

KEEN
Keen makes great sandals and shoes but they tend to be too wide for my girl’s skinny little feet. They are great for our roommate’s two and half year old chubby little feet. I bought the blue tennis shoes below from Sierra Trading Post and they were too wide so my roommate’s little boy acquired them and they fit just right.

Hello, cute girl Keen shoes which I can’t buy because they will be too wide! (Click on the shoe pictures and it will take you to Sierra Trading Post.)

VELCRO MARY JANES
My girl loves the Mary Jane style of shoes that allow her to pull the strap over and velcro them herself. The Robeez sheep shoes and the Nike summer sandals are both like that and have been her favorite shoes. I can go tell her to put on her shoes and she does it all by herself.

JUST FOR FUN
Babies-R-Us has a very cute selection of shoes and you can usually find them at a good price on sale especially at the end of a season. I bought a couple of cute pairs of velcro tennis shoes when they were having a good sale once. I just bought a pair of pink converse for my baby girl at Target for $12.99.

LACE-UP SHOES
We have a lovely pair of Ecco brand lace up shoes that are great for walking, especially if you’re going to be outside or in colder weather. She does wear them quite a bit but on several occasions when I went to get her out of her carseat I found she had removed the laces and had thrown them on the floor.

Here are the Ecco first walk shoes. New they are quite expensive. The walkers below are $58.00 but I’ll tell you, they are really good shoes! The leather is both sturdy yet flexible and they seem to fit the foot really well.


FAVORITE BRANDS
Robeez
Riley Roos
Ecco
Softstar Shoes
Keen

WHERE TO BUY SHOES
www.ebay.com (my personal favorite)
www.zulily.com
www.store.onlinepacifier.com
www.meandmyfeet.com
www.softstarshoes.com
Babies-R-Us
http://www.shoezoo.us/ecco.htm
Once Upon a Child
www.sierratradingpost.com (also a favorite – great prices!)
Little Feet
Goodwill
Consignment stores

WHERE I PERSONALLY HAVE BOUGHT HER SHOES
The place I have gone to most for shoes has been Ebay. I also resell her nice shoes on Ebay. I think I got her Riley Roos on sale from a store on Zulily. Zulily is a shopping website that you have to register on. Once you get registered you can go into the site and look at the different stores and the items they have on clearnace. They stores have amazing sales but the stuff goes fast! I have also bought a few pairs at the Pacifier store, which is local, because I had Groupons for their store. I haven’t shopped outright there for shoes, but they do have a good selection of Robeez. I also bought Robeez at the hospital gift store where I had my baby! The Ecco walkers I got a consignment shop for around $20.00. I also recently found a pair of Ecco Mary Jane’s at Goodwill for $2.99. I was psyched! I bought a pair of Columbia sandals for her on Sierra Trading Post last summer. They have reduced prices on their merchandise. The brown Robeez boots I got on Ebay for a decent price.

Well, anyway, happy shoe shopping with whatever brand you decide to go with. Let us know what you purchase and what has worked well for you and your child. I’ll be interested to hear from any other shoe lovers out there!

Update: Just got these shoes for my three year old daughter and she LOVES them! She’s been wearing them everywhere and she can take them off and put them on herself without any help. They are made by Minnetonka Moccasin.

 

Minnetonka Moccasin Kids' Girls Britta Trapper Shoe

Edible Play Dough – Oatmeal Flavor!

Everytime my little girl puts store bought playdough into her mouth, chews it up and swallows, I cringe. Icky!

So I decided to try an edible playdough recipe that I found on Inspiration Laboratories:

Oatmeal Play Dough:

  • 1 cup of oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of flour

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl.  Knead with your hands and enjoy. If the dough is a little too dry, add a touch more water.  If it’s too wet, add a bit more flour.

Here’s what happened when WE gave it a whirl!

1. First we added the flour into the bowl. She liked to shift her fingers through the flour.

2. Then  I added the water. She wasn’t a fan of the sticky feel of this so grandma helped out.

3. Next came the oatmeal. I didn’t have plain oatmeal so I used packets of Apple Cinnamon and Peaches and Cream. The dough smelled great!

4. For a little bit of fun I brought out the food coloring.

5. This was her favorite part. It was a great hit! She really liked taking the different colors and putting them into the dough.

Her hands reflect the great pleasure derived from the food coloring:

We made birds and squirrels and bird baths and had a whole imaginary garden going on. It was great fun; I would definitely do it again.

Breastfeeding My Toddler: A Mamapedia Repost

Photo

Photo by: Shutterstock

Breastfeeding My Toddler—Why I Let My Children Decide When to Stop, Not Society!

June 13, 2012
I was 23 when I had my first child, and 41 when I gave birth to my last. Fifteen years separate my second and third. While much had changed during the intervening 15 years, one thing most certainly has not—the stigma attached to breastfeeding. More specifically, breastfeeding a child over the age of one.
 
Just as I did with my first two children, I let my youngest daughter decide when it was time to stop nursing, not society!
 
When I was pregnant for the first time, I lived 500 miles from both my mother and my mother-in-law. In this case, it worked out well for everyone involved because I have never been particularly inclined to listen to well-meaning advice on anything, and I was not about to start when it came to motherhood. Not that I didn’t value their experience, I just didn’t want to be pressured to do things as they had done.
 
As I do with everything else important, I read up on the subject, and decided early on in my pregnancy that I would breastfeed my child. At the time, I gave little thought to how long I would breastfeed. Little did I know that in years to come, it would be the focus of much controversy.
 
As my first born grew, he ate everything in sight. At 21, he is now 6’3” and about 200 pounds, so I guess he was getting an early start! He took the breast, the bottle and baby food by the time he was about 6 months old. By about a year and a half, he essentially weaned himself off of the breast.
 
My second child, who came along when my son was almost three, would have nothing to do with a bottle. Nothing! It didn’t matter what I put in there—breast milk, formula, juice—she was only interested in the breast. As she neared her second birthday, I listened to more than my fair share of advice from people who informed me that she was far too old to be breastfeeding.
 
I’m not sure when we—meaning Americans—came up with the idea that there is a ‘cutoff’ age for breastfeeding. Breastfeeding past the age of two is far from uncommon in many other countries. According to the World Health Organization, the world average is 4.2 years and they recommend breastfeeding until at least two years of age. Additionally, anthropologists tell us that weaning naturally takes place for humans somewhere between two and a half and seven years. Obviously, I am in good company and not alone in my beliefs.
 
For the record, I did make some effort to wean my older daughter close to her third birthday. I made no such attempt, however, with my youngest. She weaned herself of all but bedtime nursing shortly after she turned three, and continued at bedtime for about six months more.
 
About the time each of my children turned a year old, I began to feel pressure from well-meaning family members to stop nursing. I also learned to brace myself for a debate if the subject of breastfeeding came up in conversation with other mothers. Aside from healthcare providers and a few very close friends, I think just about everyone thought I was crazy to continue breastfeeding a toddler. The bottom line is that it was the right for me, and for my children. Going against the grain isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but when it is something you truly believe in, it suddenly becomes much easier.
 
Have you had a similar experience to mine? Glad you continued or sorry you stopped? I would love to hear your thoughts.
 
—Proud mother of three happy, healthy children.

Thank you, Leigia, for sharing your experience with the Mamapedia community.

Extended Breastfeeding (EBF): A Stigmatizing Term

Recently when the Time Magazine sported a front page spread of a young boy standing on stool breastfeeding, the media and public went wild with debate, furry, outrage and reaction over a behavior that some people call “Extended Breastfeeding.”

Since the article’s publication, I’ve been tossing this term around in my head and I realize that I’m not a fan of the term.

Why am I not a fan?

Well, first of all, the term Extended Breastfeeding inherently applies that the breastfeeding is being extended past some arbitrary line that is being drawn in sand that defines the child-breast relationship.

The term extended breastfeeding implies that the mother is breastfeeding her child longer than…longer than….well, longer than something.

Let’s debunk some of these myths.

There is not a point at which a parent “should” stop nursing.

What do we mean by should? Who defines what should is? Who gets to make the ultimate decision on should?

If we listened to the young mothers commenting on mothering forums, as I have, the line would be 15 months. Nursing beyond that age, as one contributor said “is just sick.” I think that sums up the general opinion some women regarding nursing a toddler. This perception needs to change regardless of what another mother chooses for herself and her child.

Nursing into toddlerhood has no negative health effects on the child.

The AmericanAcademyof Pediatrics (AAP) doesn’t have a problem with a mother nursing a child past infancy. Because of the clear health benefits the AAP recommends “exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months…with continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant.” 1 Additionally, they state that “mothers should be encouraged to continue breastfeeding through the first year and beyond as more and varied complementary foods are introduced.” 1

Nursing into toddlerhood is not emotionally detrimental for the child nor is the mother nursing to meet her own emotional needs.

There is no evidence to suggest that breastfeeding past a year or even into later years is emotionally unhealthy for the child.2 The assertion that the mother is breastfeeding her child for her own benefit is ludicrous. First of all, no toddler would participate in breastfeeding if he or she did not want to. For all of you parents out there, I’m sure you remember your 2 to 3 year old child’s favorite word: NO!

Forcing a toddler to do something is not very easy, especially if it requires them to curl up on your lap and hold still.

A mother cannot force a child to breastfeed.

Of course a mother can wean a child, but why wean a child if he or she is not showing signs of readiness?  Children will wean themselves naturally when they no longer need the emotional security of the mother’s breast. Weaning a two year old child before she was ready would be like taking away her security blanket or favorite stuffed animal.

There is a misconception about toddlers and breastfeeding: Toddlers don’t nurse the way that infants do.

It would be the rare toddler who would go to mom for a long, nutritional nursing session at the age of two or three. Most children seek the breast out for comfort or security. By the time a child is in their toddler years most children are only nursing for short periods of time and usually before or after sleep. Even if they were seeking the breast out during the day, the mother is most likely starting to set limits on that behavior as well. It’s a process and one that is not easily controlled or defined by external forces. It varies greatly depending on the child, the mother and on the mother-child relationship.

The general rule of thumb is that nursing can and should continue as long as it is a mutually beneficial relationship.

After a couple of years, there are plenty of mothers who will tell you that the joy of nursing is fading. At that point the nursing relationship is no longer mutually beneficial and a mother may choose to encourage her child to wean. On the flip side, a child may choose to no longer nurse because he is ready to be done even if the mother enjoys that bonding time. However, the child-centered parent will follow her child’s lead and bring an end to the nursing relationship.

Between a combination of baby or toddler-led weaning and a mother’s desire to wean her child, nursing will always come to an end at some point in time.

Given the health benefits of nursing to both mother and child, as a society we should be supportive of any nursing relationship between mother and child.

Currently, breastfeeding rates are much lower than the government would like them to be and both the AAP and the Surgeon General are trying to encourage more mothers to breastfeed and for longer periods of time. The Surgeon Generals Healthy People 2020 objectives for the year are “82% ever breastfed, 61% at 6 months, and 34% at 1 year.”3 Although most mothers try to breastfeed upon giving birth, “within only three months after giving birth, more than two-thirds of breastfeeding mothers have already begun using formula. By six months postpartum, more than half of mothers have given up on breastfeeding, and mothers who breastfeed one-year olds or toddlers are a rarity in our society.” 4

By continuing to use the term “extended breastfeeding,” we as a culture, and as a group of informed, conscientious parents, are perpetuating the notion that breastfeeding has some finite, culturally-defined end and that it is the rare mother, the anomaly, the outlier, the “strange mom,” who nurses past this “normal” point. If we wish to change this we might want to be more cognizant of our choice of words. Nursing into toddlerhood is a normal way to nurse and perhaps we should be calling it just that. Nursing. Nursing into toddlerhood. Nursing an older child. Non-infant nursing. Let’s be creative and start talking about it in a way that will normalize the behavior rather than continuing to set ourselves and our healthy parenting behaviors apart from the rest of society.

References:

1http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/3/e827.full.pdf+html

2http://www.llli.org/ba/feb01.html

3http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/calls/breastfeeding/factsheet.html

4http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/calls/breastfeeding/calltoactiontosupportbreastfeeding.pdf

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