Friday, February 26, 2010

Tricky Two-Year-Olds: How To Stop Tantrums

Winning is everything to two-year-olds! While getting smarter everyday, they have decided that you are living in their world, and that if they throw a big enough tantrum, they WILL win. Stubborn, hot-headed, ill-tempered two-year-olds like mine will, inevitably, get their point across and demand what they believe is rightfully theirs.

People will say that it's because we don't discipline our children the way we should. Myriads of mothers are inquiring how to discipline their child (Google it! "How to discipline my two-year-old"), and the other side of the fence is accusing parents today of sending their horrible, undisciplined children into OUR world. Need I mention the shows "Nanny 911", "Supernanny", and the newest reality based television show starring Mike Ruggles (a man!), "Super-Manny"?

In my opinion, for those of us parents that know how to discipline, calming a full-blown two-year-old temper tantrum has nothing to do with time-outs and spankings. It takes an ingenious thinking-outside-of-the-box type of parent to handle that.

Here are a few techniques that work for me:

1. "Woah! Did you see that?" Yes, even in the middle of the tantrum of the century, I have found that a quick, "Woah! Did you see that?" (while looking in ANY direction away from the child) will achieve at least a moment's worth of curiosity. I think I've even gotten a response, "See what?" Fortunately, because they ARE still discovering their world, they don't want to miss a thing. Instinctively, the thought of missing out on something far overrides whatever it was that they were having a hissy fit over. 

2. Tickle torture. Warning: this could escalate the tantrum by exponential amounts! This, of course, only works on ticklish tots.  I, personally, like to tickle until they have totally forgotten their tantrum, and what they were screaming about.

3. Throw your own tantrum. Yes, I admit it. I have thrown a temper tantrum to gain the attention of my momentarily crazy two-year-old. Again, curiosity will get them. At first, I get a "what-are-you-doing-this-is-my-tantrum!" look from him, then he'll go back into his wailing. But, the louder her gets, the louder I get. Eventually, someone's got to give.

4. Walk away. This is hard, because, at first, the tantrum is going to get worse. He has lost your attention, and he wants to get it back. He has a point to make! But, if you walk away, he is not getting the attention to fuel the tantrum. Sooner or later, he is going to figure out that what he is doing to call attention to himself is not working.

My techniques for handling my two-year-old fall more into the "distraction" category, and there are tantrums that will NOT be distracted, no matter which method you try. I try to address the reason for the flare-up once the anger has subsided. I like to start with, "You were really angry about..." and then see if we can talk about better ways to handle the anger in the future. Teaching our children how to understand their feelings and how to handle them is difficult, but lengthy outbursts can be used to our advantage as parents, turning a bad situation into a win-win situation.

It's all about winning! When you are facing an explosion, or even a potentially explosive little darling, remember that if you can peak their curiosity with a little bit of ingenious distraction, you could win. But don't let the tot know that you are winning-make him feel like a winner by discussing his feelings and how he can better get his point across to get the things that he wants.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Would You Be Embarrassed?

Children can teach us a lot with just one question.

My ten-year-old son asked me recently, "If there was a projector that posted all your private thoughts on a billboard for the whole world to see, would you be embarrassed?"

I had to think about that one for a moment before responding.

The answer was easy: Of course, I would be embarrassed! Who wouldn't be? But, how do you answer that question to your 10-year-old?

A trick question! I started giggling, and then tossed the ball back in his direction, "Would you be embarrassed?"

"By what your billboard said or by what MY billboard said?" he tossed back. Now, I was really giggling! Seeing that I was in no condition to answer his question, he continued, "If it was MY billboard, I would probably be embarrassed, and if it was your billboard..."

He paused. I waited, still giggling.

"I think, by the way you are laughing, I'd be embarrassed, too."

Okay, I lost it. I was really giggling; belly hurting by now. He was so brutally honest, I wanted to grant him the same honesty with my own answer.

Confession time. "Yes, I would be embarrassed. But don't tell anybody I said that," I instructed him, still giggling.

He was giggling, too. Because he knew, like I know, that if ANYBODY had their private thoughts projected up on a billboard, they'd definitely be embarrassed!

The Hair Dilemma

I have become one of those mothers that I used to talk about, I'm ashamed to say.

"Boys should not have long hair! She needs to cut that boy's hair!" I would rant.

Just recently, I was asked if my two-year-old was my daughter. "Is this your daughter?"

"No..." I responded, "He's my son."

Yes, my son has "hair too long for a boy". Straight with curls on the ends, and just so pretty that I cannot convince myself to cut the curls off. Yes, he's almost 3, and he has never had a haircut. Do I have to cut it now? What are the real rules for boy's hair?

We laugh and joke that he has a mullet, with straight hair in the back that will twirl into one long, pretty curl at the nape of his neck. In the eighties, his hair would have been perfect. But it's 2010, not 1987.

I find myself justifying his too-long hair to myself, "He looks so cute", "It's too pretty to cut", "I can't cut those curls!", "It's not like he's in school or daycare or anything, he's at home with me". I don't keep him home all the time, though. He goes to the grocery store, church, running errands.

People see him, and they think the same thing about me that I used to say about other moms, "She needs to cut his hair! Boys should have short hair!"

But, for anyone who's ever known me, I don't live my life worried about what other people think of me. If you think my son's hair is too long, tell someone who cares, because I've changed my mind...

I've finally found the beauty of boys with longer-than-it-should-be hair. And, you know what??? I'll cut his darn hair when I'm ready! So there!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Six Little Monkeys

I gave birth to monkeys!

Or, so you would think. With a 5 year old down the hall jumping on the bed. Boing! Boing! Boing! (No more monkeys jumping on the bed!) A 2 year old that likes to, somehow, climb everything. Ah, yes! He's currently standing on the kitchen counter. How did he get there???

You can hear them talking to each other..."ooo ooo ooo, ah ah ah ah!" Pounding on their chests...

And, the youngest? Uh-huh, at merely nine months old, he is making the monkey sounds, and trying to figure out how to imitate his primate siblings. You can see in his eyes how he wishes he could climb and jump around like the rest of them, creating havoc wherever he is.

Oh, and right on cue, as I type this, my wonderful 5 year old just came up to me and said "Ah ah ah!" in my face.

Let's not leave out the way my little monkeys will not keep their clothes on...monkeys are more comfortable in their own climate in the buff.

They spend their free time figuring out how they can get from here to there without touching the floor. What can I swing on? I can make it over there to that couch in ONE BIG MONKEY STEP!

Once in a while, my little monkeys settle down quietly and I wonder...what happened to my monkeys? And, then I find one of them in the corner, sticking play dough up their nose or in their ears. And I think, There's my little monkey!

Enjoy your babies when they are in the infant stages, because when they start "talking" and moving around, you may find out that you, too, gave birth to monkeys!

Pants On Fi-Ya!

They say "kids say the funniest things!", and boy, can I back that up! With six children, someone's always saying something funny (and, to my embarrassment, inappropriate, at times!). So, it won't be surprising if I throw in a post on my blog about the funny things my kids say every now and then.

When my now five-year-old, W, was two and my now two-year-old, D, was an infant, W would give me updates from the seat behind me in the van when we ran errands. "The baby is sweeping!" or "the baby is awake!" But, there was one thing he kept saying that I just could not figure out.

"Mom, I think the baby needs his pants on fi-ya," he told me one day.

"Oh, really?" I asked, treading carefully. Did my child really want to set the baby's pants on fire? I'm well aware that it's normal for a child to feel like the baby is moving in on their space, but did we have to be so drastic?

His only response to me was, "Yep." And, that was that.

The next day, he said it again, "Mom, I think the baby needs his pants on fi-ya!"

Okay, what could that mean?

"You think he needs a diaper change?" I asked.

"No, he needs his!" he enunciated.

"Pants on fire?"

"No, his PANTS ON FI YA!" He said again, like I was an idiot.

Not wanting to seem like I didn't understand him, I just said, "Oh! Okay." I was so glad he didn't want to set the baby's pants on fire, I was willing to pretend that I understood what he was saying.

Later on that day, he mentioned it again, "Mom, I think he needs his pants on fi-ya."

"Show me," I said, and he did! He ran out of the room, scooped up something quickly from the kitchen, and brought it to the baby.

Of course, I should have known that my son did not want to set my infant's pants on fire, but with children, you never know. He produced the "pants on fi-ya", and tried to stick it in the baby's mouth. And, the baby immediately starting sucking on what WE know as his pacifier.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Motherly Nagging

I hate to admit it, but I nag my children.

There are days where I ask at least three of the children to pick up a pair of underwear, or a piece of candy wrapper, or misplaced shoes, five to seven times. The same item!

I hear familiar words coming out of my mouth that are not my words...

"If I tell you to do something, you are supposed to do it!"

"Do I look like your maid?"

"Did you brush your teeth?" (comb your hair, do your homework)

"When are you going to do what I asked you to do?"

"I can't believe you want to live like some pigs!"

"If you make a mess...clean it up"

"Who peed on the seat?" or "Who left the toilet seat up?"

"I might as well do it myself!"

"Get it done!" "Get it done!" "Get it done!"

I have come to the conclusion that it's not my fault. Why do they make me nag?

I grew up with the old-school thought that children should only "speak when spoken to", and "do as they are asked". Boy, have I been mislead!

Looking back now, as parents...way back when WE were the children that had terrible parents that nagged US, we heard the above sayings in one form or another, and our parents were asking themselves the same question:

What is wrong with kids nowadays? Because..."When I was younger, I used to have to walk a country mile to the school bus, in five feet of snow, uphill both ways....backwards!"

I still hate to admit that I'm a nag, and wish, on a daily basis, that my children would stop making me nag!

Vick's Vapor Rub with Socks?

We ALL want winter over sooner than later! Especially those of us who have children with respiratory issues. Just the runny noses and coughs can drive a parent mad.

Just recently, as I was fancying my latest addiction, Facebook, one of my "fellow mom" (now, also a grandma) aunts complained about her insistent cold symptoms. and a "fellow mom" cousin of mine commented on her post. She told her to put some Vick's Vapor rub on her feet and cover her feet with socks. In the morning, she should feel much better.

I had heard of it several times before, and even tried it many years ago, but it was a "trick" I had forgotten about. With the winter dragging on in February, even here in the south, I dug around for the Vick's (hidden deep behind the summer sunscreens under the sink in the bathroom). The kids grabbed clean pairs of socks, and I proceeded to slather it on the feet of my children. (My 9 year old daughter slathered it on my feet lovingly and snuggled socks over my tootsies.)

I probably don't need to point out that the odor was overwhelming, but it starting working immediately! We were all taking deep breaths and inhaling the vapors of eucalyptus with joy.

When we awoke, we were all taking nice morning breaths of air. Breathe in...Ahhhh! It was grand! Even my dearest 2 year old, who had recently been waking up with a phlegm-my chest and in need of immediate nebulizer treatments in the a.m., was breathing free and clear.

We'll be putting it on again tonight, just to make sure last night was not just a fluke; a "figment of our imaginations".

We do recommend this to anyone who needs a deep breath of fresh air in the morning, and we'll post comments of our experiences tonight in a later blog.
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