Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Events

Some Christmas event ideas for you and the whole family!
  1. December 1st is also the start of the Capilano canyon lights another great way to spend a night, unless your scared of heights.  Even if you are they still offer a great evening so it is worth dragging the family out to.     
  2. December 1st we have the Christmas Parade of Lights in New Westminster which begins at 4pm-8pm at 4th and Columbia and will travel along Columbia Street to Hyack Square. There will be a tree lighting ceremony, live music which includes a performance from A.J. Woodworth, Jon Cornish the CFL star will even be there signing autographs!
  3. December 2nd is the Rogers Santa Claus parade where you can bring your food donations, have some fun and enjoy over 60 dance troops, floats and marching bands!  There are always a TON of people to ensure you get there early in order to get your best view and the parade starts at 1pm.  
  4. December 6th-8th is the Vancouver Public Libraries annual used booksidewalk sale, which is an amazing place to find some great gifts and stocking stuffers, especially for the book collectors in your family. 
  5. December 7th is the beginning of the Festival of Lights at VanDusen botanical gardens which I think is honestly breathtaking.  They do this all the way up till January 1st but it is closed Dec. 25th so keep that in mind.   
  6. December 7th-31st you can also decide to take a ride on the Vancouver Trolley Karaoke Christmas Lights tour!  Ride in a cute trolley, sing some carols and enjoy being driven to some of the best light displays in the Vancouver area!  That includes of course the lovely display at the St. Paul's hospital which is a crowd pleasure every year. 
  7. December 8th there is both Breakfast and Brunch with Santa!! Breakfast is at Willingdon Community centre from 10am-11:30am and is $7.50/person.  Brunch is at 11am-12:30pm at Cameron recreation complex and is $6.92/person.  No drops ins are available so ensure you call this number 604-297-4526 and register!
  8. December 12th the Shadbolt will be presenting their hilarious show "Hotel Bethlehem" which I think looks like a complete hoot and a half!! Good idea for a date night after some crazy Christmas shopping I think! I also think that not enough people go to the theatre these days, and they really should, nothing quite like a live show! 
  9. December 14th the Queen Elizabeth theatre will begin their Nutcrackershow which is something that is a amazing to go to if you haven't already before.  A great first for the kids too, nothing like dressing up all fancy for a night at the Queen E.  Tickets start at $30
  10. December 14th is also the same night of the Carol Ships Parade of Lights at Barnet Marine Park.  This is completely FREE starts at 7:30pm and the ships are expected to go by around 8/8:30pm.  Always a nice compliment to lawn chairs, cozy blankets and hot chocolates!  
  11. December 21st the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival will be happening in Chinatown and it is FREE and all over downtown Vancouver including Chinatown!   
  12. Lastly we have Canada place that is doing so many great Christmas events that you'll just have to head over there to check them out yourself!  Not to mention all the great activities that the Vancouver Aquarium will be putting on and a million other places that I know I haven't found!

Some other Valley Christmas ideas:

1. December 5th Sell your Wares from 9am - 11am. If your crafty and want to sell your creations you can book a FREE table. This is to showcase our participants talent and to get into the festive spirit. Bring some spending money as well! Call 859-7681 on Montrose

2. December 8th Breakfast with Santa. 9 - 11am at Abbotsford Middle School. Tickets are free but you need them... get them at Family Center call 604-859-7681 ex 266.

Share your local Christmas event ideas here!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Chilliwack Times Newspaper

So excited to have been interviewed and had this great article released today in the Chilliwack Times!

Learn why teaching your babies to sign can reduce TONS of frustration, tantrums and tears!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Out of control toddlers

Every feel like your 'Out of Control?'

Well, reminder that little people (toddlers) also can feel this way. 

I had one mom ask me the following question, "My two year old is 'out of control!' He doesn't respond to words. If I don't jump on his every command, he throws a fit or is constantly nagging me again and again about what he wants. Whining and yelling. He will kick, hit and scream at the top of his lungs to get what he wants. Even if it is as simple as leaving the park or gym time. I don't want to hit him and humiliate him, what can I do?

Some people would call your toddler spirited, energetic, passionate, or other's may say he is just strong willed. Whatever you call him... (and it's best to stay away from labeling him based on his behaviour)... if you try to control him, it will not work. What you need to help increase cooperation.

INCREASE COOPERATION... how can you do this?

1. Instead of telling and telling him what do, try instead to involve him in decision making and give him a sense of personal power, which is what he is trying to do in his own way. EXAMPLES:

  •     Give him a warning... "We need to leave soon. What are you choosing to do as your last activity? The slide or bouncy castle?"
  •     Carry a small timer could help him realize when it's time to go. Let him help you set the timer for 2 or 3 minutes and keep it in HIS pocket so he can come tell you when it rings. They love to be helpful.
  •     Give him choices... "Do you want to carry your lunch bag or the car keys to the car?" Giving them small responsibilities increases their feeling of 'being in control' That personal power is very important at this age, as they are striving for independence. We want to encourage this so when they are teens they are making positive decision and being more independent with a good sense of self worth.

2. Your child is not going to understand your 'Wait please" or other gibber jabber, as you may think he does. He doesn't' have the rational thinking skills you have. If you lecture your child on why you are going or why they can't have stuff and you over explain, they will get lost and not hear you at all. At least not at this age. These kinds of lectures are not use on toddlers, as they are more abstact thinking and they are in direct opposition to his developmental need. That said, he should not be allowed to just DO whatever he wants to do. Attempt to gain his cooperation in a kind and firm way, instead of threats and bribes. See the above suggestions.

3. Some other suggestions:

  • "Get down to his eye level, and say firmly, it is now time to go."
  • Say things like, "I know it's hard to leave, but we need to go now."
  • Try walking away towards your stroller and say, come on, let's go. 
  • Try a race... "Let's race to the stroller, on your mark, get set, go." Making a game of it will bypass any power struggles that may occur.
  • Say things like, "I know you can get your shoes on by yourself, can you show me?"
  • "Your really great at putting your coat on like a big boy."
  • "Did you need any help? Just ask me."

Now, once the timer goes off, and all your suggestions and games didn't work. Your STILL calm, firm and kind...  If he is still resisting try this: 

4. Take him by the hand and lead him to the car. Every time he resists, stop pulling and let your hand go in his direction until he stops resisting. Then pull towards the car again, giving slack every time he resists. Don't get into a physical power struggle. This may feel like a see saw. When he catches on that you are going to be both kind and firm, he will eventually go with you. If he falls to the ground, tantrums out, then simply pick him up and carry him to the car while ignoring the kicks an screams. Do NOT say anything at all. There is no need at this point, as you already said everything before you did this. Don't get hooked into over explaining and starting up a power struggle. This is not the time for a discussion. That was done earlier.

Remember that sometimes distractions can work just as easy. The timer goes off, it's time to go. You go over to the child and hand them a visual agenda of what's next? A picture list of what's next can be very helpful. 

A short outing example of a picture schedule:
A picture of gym time
A picture of a car
A picture of grocery store
A picture of home
A picture of lunch
A picture of nap

Keep it in the car for outings you do often.

Good Luck!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Brain development under 3

In the first 3 years of your babies life something magical happens. Not only do you get to witness, experience and revel in your child's amazing ability to learn to feed themselves, crawl, walk, talk and more, but what is happening inside their tiny brains is also quite amazing and very important.

Babies are learning about themselves every day. And it is within this first crucial 3 years that babies learn and decide who they are. (Am I good or bad? capable or not capable? Is this safe? threatening? encouraging or discouraging?) And who is teaching them these things? As a primary caregiver we are the sole determining factor of much of this discovery. This is a lot of responsibility. 

A little brain trivia for you: New research has shown that when babies are in the fetus, the human brain begins life as a small cluster of cells. By the 4th week of pregnancy, these cells have begun to sort themselves out according to the function they will one day perform and migrate to the part of the brain they are destined to occupy. NATURE provides the fetus with more cells than they need. Some will not survive and other will join in a network of connections called synapses.

By 2 years old, a baby's brain has the SAME number of synapses as an adult. By age 3, he has more than one thousand trillion connections - twice as many as his parents. By age 10, the brain begins to prune away excess synapses. (those that have not been used enough) By adolescence, have is discarded. If you think your teenagers are so ridiculous and make the dumbest decisions, that is because the last part of the brain to develop is the frontal cortex - which hold all our reasoning, judgment, impulse control skills - this process doesn't end until the age of twenty! YES twenty!

Now let's go back to learn a bit more about how the brain develops for children under 3. Babies learn best in the context of relationships. The brain changes its structure in context to the environment around it. What your little one needs most within the first 3 years is not flashcards and dvd's, but real human connections. Brain development is all about connections with others and your babies brain is wired to seek out this connection from birth. The brain is flexible and can adapt to change or injury. There are windows early in a child's life where important learning takes place such as vision and language development. If these windows are missed, it may be difficult to acquire those abilities. This learning is within the first year of life.

Signing is great way to connect with your baby. That early communication is essential to their growth and development and sense of self. If your child can get their needs and wants met, they feel a trust and bond with that person who can meet those needs. They get a sense of 'self worth or self confidence' when they know that their feelings and thoughts matter. Signing parents tend to take more time and pay more attention to their child's cues and body language. They slow down and notice more about their children than non signing parents tend do. This is based on research funded by the Federal Government and the National Health Institute. Pinoneered by two doctor moms and child development experts Dr. Linda Acredelo and Dr. Susan Goodwyn.

How you and your child's other caregivers relate to her - how you talk, play and nurture -is far more important than what toys they have available. Young children learn best when they live in a reasonably stimulating environment and are unstressed. What children need to grow and develop is unhurried time with caring adults who focus on the child and follow his cues without distraction or expectation.

When you are signing with your children, there shouldn't be a stress or expectation for them to sign back, just as there is no expectation for them to talk to you within the first 2 years. Your inviting information, inviting conversation, inviting relationships with no expectations. Make signing fun, sing songs, play pretend games, dance, move, shake, hug, cuddle, read and connect with your baby. The first three years are vital for this kind of bonding and nurturing.

Remember you chose to be a parent/caregiver and it is a job. Treat it as such. If you need to adjust your life to be able to slow down and teach skills like, getting dressed, potty training, sitting at a table, going shopping and other life skills, then do just that, slow down, breath, enjoy. Take time to play in the bath with them, make mud pies in the dirt, read and cuddle on the couch, go for walks and talk about nature. Take up a swimming class, a baby and yoga class, a signing class, story time at your local library. Connect with other moms and babies of like mindedness. Your children are learning from you and their environment every day. They learn by observing. How you and other caregivers interact with her will shape the person she or he is to become. 


Thursday, September 27, 2012

20 Toddlers Tips in well... 20 days ish... 20. Toddler Tips

Toddler Tips

So today is the 20th tip for my Twenty Toddler Tips in Twenty Days. I certainly had no idea that it would be as hard as it was to keep up the 20 day tips. I did have a few bumps here and there and I went over my 20 days, missed a day here and there, and I got all 20 tips in, eventually. I have to say I am proud of myself for finishing my mini project in spite of my hiccups. 

I think it is important to celebrate our efforts and not just the end results. I am glad I finished my tips and didn't just give up when I realized I had a day or so lost. At times I was thinking, "who's listening, it doesn't matter, why bother, should I continue?"  But I realized it was important to continue and finish. It may not have looked exactly like I wanted it to, or finish perfectly on time, but that didn't matter anymore. What mattered was how I felt about myself.

We need to make sure we don't put any kind of pressure on our children as we often do to ourselves. As parents we want the clean house, dinner on the table on time, happy, clean kids, perfect relationships, great work life etc... That's isn't going to happen all the time and consistently .. that isn't real life. A real balanced life, means we give it a shot. One day we are better house cleaners, or better parents, or great at are jobs, the next maybe not so much. Each section of our life deserves the best shot, but don't kill yourself trying to make life perfect. Appreciate what you can do.

Teach our children this by allowing them to learn, grow and show us a thing or two in their own time and their own way. There is no right or wrong way to live this life. There is only two choices really, choose unhappy or choose happy. I choose to be happy. Be appreciative of what you do have and look into the future with hope, anticipation and joy. Live a joyful life.

Here are your toddler review tips:

Toddlers are often eager to show their independence, and may not be able to move as swiftly as they'd like or effectively communicate their needs. This can lead to tantrums and misbehavior. Teach your toddler to behave well by providing love, attention, praise, encouragement and a degree of routine.

1. Accept your Child

As your child grows, he or she will display certain temperaments.  Some of these are learned, others genetic. Respect your child's developing individuality. Find your toddlers strengths and help her or him build skills. Choose toys and educational development based on what they are interested in, not what you want them to be or do. People learn faster and keep information longer when they are learning something at their interest level and it is fun. Find your child's interests. Avoid labeling your child's behaviour (especially challenging behaviour) Toddlers become the people you tell them they are. Tell them they are capable, loving, kind, smart people. If they misbehave say something like, "You hit him, that's not like you, your hands are for helping, not hitting. I know you can be gentle." Nurture your child's personality and find ways to help her or him feel confident.

2. Show Your Love

Positive attention will help make your child WANT to do well. Make sure your displays of affection for your child outnumber any consequences or punishments. 4 to 1 is a great rule; for every consequence you'll need 4 positive reinforcements.  Hugs, kisses and good-nature roughhousing reassure your child of your love. Frequent praise and attention will motivate your toddler to follow the rules. Make sure the praise is not false praise, tell them what they did well. Remember children will do well if they can. Help them to feel your love as often as possible.

3. Freedom in Rules

Don't overwhelm your toddlers with too many rules, instead prioritize those geared toward safety first. Other rules can be implemented and changed based on the family dynamic at the time. Help your toddler follow the rules by childproofing your home and eliminating as many temptations. If hitting is the problem, rules around 'hands are for helping' will suffice. Maybe the next month is about lying. Rules can help children learn, but we must tell them what they CAN do, when and how to do it. They learn most by observing. If we are yelling and stomping, they will learn this is appropriate behaviour. A chart of 5 house rules on the wall will help keep everyone aware of what is expected. Such as, "1. Gentle Hands 2. Inside Voices 3. Food stays on the plate 4. Walking for inside, running for outside" and so on. Pictures help younger children with understanding.

It's normal for a toddler to have temper tantrums. But you may be able to reduce the frequency, duration or intensity of your child's tantrums.

4. Child's Limits (your own as well)

Your child may misbehave because he or she doesn't understand or can't do what you're asking. Explain how to follow the rules. Instead of saying, "Stop hitting," offer suggestions for how to make play go more smoothly, such as "Why don't you two take turns?"
Take 'no' in stride. Don't overreact when your toddler says no. Instead, calmly repeat your request. Don't pose a question that can have an answer as no.

5. Avoid Power Struggles

Only say no when it's absolutely necessary. Don't engage in power struggles. It takes 2 people to power struggle, one of you has to be the adult.

6. Offer Choices

When possible. Encourage your child's independence by letting him or her pick out a pair of pajamas or a bedtime story. "You can either sit in the stroller or hold my hand when we walk across the street, you chose."

7. Avoid Triggers

Avoid situations that may trigger frustration or tantrums. If your child always seems to have tantrums at the grocery store, hire a sitter the next time you go shopping. Also, know that children are more likely to act out when they're tired, hungry, sick or in an unfamiliar setting. Bring snacks, toys or bubbles to the store, make a plan, talk about what will happen, keep the timing short. 

8. Distract

Make it fun. Distract your child or make a game out of good behavior. Your child will be more likely to do what you want if you make an activity fun. Be silly.

9. Schedules

Stick to the schedule. Keep a daily routine as much as possible so that your child will know what to expect. Picture routines are best with little ones, let them chose activities  Make the chart have Velcro so you can change up your day if you need to.

10. Communicate

Encourage good communication. Remind your child to use words to express his or her feelings. If your child isn't speaking yet, consider teaching him or her baby sign language. (I am a huge fan of this one, as you can imagine!) We have a feelings class where we practice and teach the signs for HAPPY, SAD, ANGRY and more.

11. Tantrums

If your child has a tantrum, remain calm and distract him or her. Ignore minor displays of anger, such as crying — but if your child hits, kicks or screams for a prolonged period, remove him or her from the situation. Hold your child or give him or her time alone to cool down. Walk out to the car and calm down with your child. Ask them when they feel ready to go inside and try again. 

12. Timing

TAKE MORE time with every errand. They are learning, allow for learning time. Leave the house 30 min before you think you need to. Begin bedtime routines earlier and so forth.

13. Enforce Consequences

Natural consequences. Let your child see the consequences of his or her actions — as long as they're not dangerous. If your child throws and breaks a toy, he or she won't have the toy to play with anymore.
If it is raining outside, bring the jacket for the car, let them get cold and wet. Ask them how they feel? Did they think they needed something to keep them warm? Logical consequences. Create a consequence for your child's actions. Tell your child if he or she doesn't pick up his or her toys, you will take the toys away for a day. Help your child with the task, if necessary. If your child doesn't cooperate, follow through with the consequence. Whatever consequences you choose, be consistent. Make sure that every adult who cares for your child observes the same rules and discipline guidelines. This reduces your child's confusion and need to test you. 

14. Withhold privileges

For older children...Withholding privileges. If your child doesn't behave, respond by taking away something that your child values — such as a favorite toy — or something that's related to his or her misbehavior. Don't take away something your child needs, such as a meal.

15. Time Outs

Age appropriate timeout. (The age of reason is approximatly 3 - 5 years old) When your child acts out, give a warning. If the poor behavior continues, guide your child to a designated timeout spot — ideally a quiet place with no distractions. Enforce the timeout for one minute for every year of your child's age. If your child resists, bring back to the timeout spot again and again and again and again. This is your job right now. Your a parent first.
Make sure your child knows why he or she is in the timeout. Afterward, guide your child to a positive activity. If all else fails, tell your child that you are taking a timeout away from him or her for a few minutes because of a specific behavior. Be sure to explain the behavior you'd like to see. Encourage the behaviour your are working on. Label it! Say stuff like, "wow, your responsible when you take your shoes off at the door, great job!"

16. Criticism

Be careful to criticize your child's behavior — not your child. Instead of saying, "You're a bad boy," try, "Don't run into the street." "Hands are not for hitting, hands are for helping." Never resort to punishments that emotionally or physically harm your child. Spanking, slapping and screaming at a child do more harm than good. Hitting a small child, teaches them when you are big, you can hit others.

17. Emotional Support

Remember sometimes just a hug, a walk to a different room or going outside can change everyone's mind and focus. Take a breather together. 

Begin each day like this... say to your toddler, 
"Today is a new day with new experiences, we don't know what is to come, it's so exciting. I can't wait to be with you today and learn together." 

End each night like this, "I love you so much, no matter what, there is no condition on this love, remember you are a good person, with a kind heart, tomorrow will be another adventure." 

Your children want to be with you, want to do well for you, want to make you proud and want to be loved. That is all.

You are their everyday teacher. Children learn how to act by watching their parents. The best way to show your child how to behave is to set a positive example for him or her to follow. Love them and be firm, kind and have fun.

Happy Parenting!

Emotional Understanding

Parents may have a misconception when it comes to understanding their child's ability to read and understand emotions from others and themselves.

In Dr. Susan Goodwyn and Dr. Linda Acredelo's book entitled Baby Hearts: A Guide to Giving Your Child an Emotional Head Start we learn more about emotional development in small children.

Here are some highlights to consider:

1.Human emotions are vast in number and subtle in their differences. Consider the following different feeling states: Cranky, Cowardly, Curious, Confident, Coy, Cagey, Confused. And these are just ones that start with “C.” 

2.Emotions, even strong ones, tend to fade over time.

3.People often experience two or more emotions at once, sometimes even conflicting ones (for example, a “bittersweet” experience). 

4.A person can pretend to feel one way when he is really feeling another. 

5.One may not actually be aware of one’s own feelings. **

6.Certain emotions are not appropriate in certain situations (for example, being gleeful at a funeral or sad at a wedding). 

7.Emotions can be powerfully influenced by being in a crowd. ( consider daycares)

8.Talking about emotions requires knowing your culture’s peculiar metaphors for feelings, such as the following English terms for “happy:” Tickled pink, pleased as punch, thrilled to death, happy as a clam, contented as a cat, on cloud nine. Idioms are not even taught until grade 8.

With all this to learn, it’s enough to make a child “as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof.” Let’s just take one of the above, #3, as an example. A study published in the May 2007 issue of the journalPsychological Science has demonstrated that it’s probably not until children are 10 or 11 years old that they even experience mixed emotions, and, not surprisingly, it’s not until they are capable of experiencing such emotional states themselves that they begin understanding that this possibility exists for other people as well. 

It’s no wonder, then, that “emotional understanding” develops gradually even into the teenage years. Actually, I’m betting that we all know adults who still have some growing up to do in this very important domain! 

So take it easy on your little toddlers with their emotional journey. Tantrums, talking back, crying, whining. They are just learning about these emotions and what to do with them. Read up for yourself and learn about your own emotions before you begin to try and teach your little ones about theirs.

Teach by showing. Children' learn more from observing than anything else.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

20 Toddler tips in 20 days 19. Toddlers Whine

Toddler Survival Tip #19

19. Toddler Whine

Like nails on a chalkboard the toddlers whine and irritate the most patience parent. 

Have you noticed that whining polls never allow an answer involving actually trying to find out why the child is whining? Is it because they assume the child is only doing this to annoy grown ups? 

When children whine and we give attention to this, they learn they get attention through whining and therefore do it more often. With better listening skills, hopefully they will no longer feel they need to indulge in this nasty habit.


1. If your toddler is limited in their verbal abilities and they are whining and struggling to communicate. Ask them to slow down and try to tell you what they need. If that doesn't work, ask them to show you what they need. Tell them to take deep breathes and you will try to help them. Give them a chance to communicate it through signing if possible. Teaching simple signs such as MORE, HUNGRY, HELP, ALL DONE can drastically reduce frustrations for your baby and your family.

2. Distractions have been known to work. Try signing a favourite song, putting on a favourite music CD, dancing in the kitchen, acting silly, pulling out a favourite activity as soon as the whining starts. They may shake out of the whining and start engaging with you in a more positive manner.

3. Don't Respond. Sometimes ignoring the whining can work. They learn quickly that if they do not get their needs met with whining, they may get them met another way. You can remind them if you like. Get down to their level, "I hear that your whining, I'll talk with you when you remember your words." Then turn away and continue what you were doing. 

4. Decide what is no and what is yes. Don't fill your house with a bunch of no's. Don't give in to the whining. If they whine for some juice, don't give it to them. Tell them you'll wait until they can ask like a 'big boy or big girl' then give them the juice and tell them they asked well. Give them praise for slowing down and asking correctly. Children will do well if they can. You can use other words instead of no for example: "Yes, later." "I'll think about it." "You can have a cracker, but not a cookie." (tell them what they CAN do and CAN have) "You can jump outside, but not on the couch" "We play with water in the tub, not on the kitchen table." When you do say no, mean it. Don't sugar coat it with a "sorry sweety no no," Say it with a poker face and mean it firmly and kindly. "No, do not pull the cat's tail. Be gentle."

5. Talk to them like little adults. Some babies want to be 'all grown up' and get frustrated when they cannot do it. They resort to whining. Start talking to them like they are a lot older. They may respond in a positive way and actually try to carry on a conversation with you. Only they know what they are saying, but a babies babble is better than a whine. 

6. I heard one parent who had a whining chair. When their 3 year old started to whine, they said, please continue your whining on the whining chair. By the time they went to sit on the whining chair, they would get distracted. 

7. Have a timer they can see. When they start whining, put the timer on for each minute of their age 3 = 3 min, 6 = 6 min. Tell them to come back again after their timer has gone off and try asking again. This work well for over 3 or 4yrs.

8. Record the whining with a video camera or recorder. Then play it back for them later so they can see what they sound and look like when they whine, talk to them about how they can change this next time. This is also for older kids such as 4-12 year olds.

9. Pretend play. I love this one. When my 3-year-old starts to whine, I say, "Uh-oh, your nice voice has disappeared! I wonder where it went!" I look around the room and pretend to find a nicer voice in a cupboard or behind the couch, and I pop it in my mouth and then imitate a cartoon character or silly voice. Usually he starts to laugh and the whining is forgotten or he copies my voice and starts to pretend play.

10. Pocket Whining. With older than 3, you can try this. When the whining starts, tell them to whine into your pocket so you can save it and listen to it later. It usually makes them laugh or confuses them enough to distract. You can pretend to open up the pocket and hold it up to your ears when they do start whining again. Make life fun and light and inventive I say.

11. Set limits. If you are ok with it, you can try this. I usually let my 3 year old get something small at the store when we are out. Not every store, just one. It can be a pezz, peanuts, a dollar store toy, a book. Then I say that is your one treat today, so don't ask for another. At the checkout if they start to whine for something, remind them they got their treat for the day. (It is usually still in their hot little hands) If they want to put it away and trade for the candy, that's up to you. But whatever you do STICK to your word. Do NOT give into another toy. Another book at bedtime, another snack after snack, another this and that cause the children to think if they whine, they can get more. 

12. Remind them of you DO want. Whining starts, say, "How can you ask? What's a better way to ask me. Where are your manners? Teach your brother how we ask for that. Tell me in your big boy voice. Slow down baby and try telling me again."

13. Praise them when they do right! No one likes to learn by just getting in trouble. We want to know when we do things well. Toddlers need that too! Tell them when they did ask correctly and they did use their manners. Mention it, make a big deal about it. Point it out to strangers, family members and their friends. "Wow, you have great manners, I like the way you asked for your juice, would you like some more?" "Did you hear how your big brother asked for juice? He said please and used his big boy voice. Great job!"

14. Promise future benefits. If your working on something in particular you can use a chart or reward system. Say your 3-year-old whines every morning when they get out of bed. Example, you can tell him at night that if he doesn't fuss in the morning, then you'll read more than one book to him the next night. Try to put a star on a chart each morning he does well and show him the nights he's been getting two books. Children love to feel successful. Don't we all?

That all said...

PS NOT everything with work all the time. What worked yesterday may not work today. Keep a cheat sheet on your fridge to remind YOU, not them, what to do when they whine. point form is best.

Happy Parenting!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

20 Toddler tips in 20 days 18. Toddlers and Safety

Toddler Survival Tip #18

18. Safety

By now, you have probably child proofed your home. With a toddler running about, you may have even 'un-child proofed some parts of your home thinking they are old enough now to 'learn or know better.'

But actually you have to be even MORE careful now as your toddler gets more mobile and curious. I have talked in the past about allowing your children to learn important life skills by doing for themselves. In order for this to happen your home needs to be safety proof. Remember toddlers are EXPLORERS, DETECTIVES, CHEMISTS, COOKS, GARDENERS, MECHANICS... and they need your supervision and guidance.


To keep a toddler safe, you should:

According to the latest car seat guidelines, toddlers should ride in rear-facing car seat until they are 2 years old or until they reach the weight and height limits of their seat. Children will remain in booster seats until the age of 9 or until they reach the weight and height limits.

Covers still need to remain on outlets, latches on cabinets, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors up to date. Make sure all climbing hazards are removed or secure in your home. A friend of mine lost their 2 year old in a toy box accident because the lid crashed down too on his neck. Make sure there are no lids or they are shocked absorbent. My husbands best friend had a dresser and a large shelf fall on him when he was a child, which hurt him but he was ok luckily. It was from climbing up. Put anchors on tall shelves. 

Curious toddlers love 'chemistry' KEEP all dangerous chemicals out and reach AND locked up. This includes alcohol, vitamins, prescriptions etc. My oldest son accidently ate a couple of my birth control pills, I was so worried I called the hospital and they assured me he would not get pregnant. (funny for them, scary for me, he was fine.)

More info on Child Safety:

NEW BABY Child Proofing:
  • Setting the temperature of your hot water heater to 120 degrees to prevent scalding burns.
  • Installing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Making your home smoke-free, so that your baby isn't exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • Reviewing your home's risk for causing lead poisoning, especially if it was built before 1978.
  • Making sure that used or hand-me-down equipment, such as a used crib, hasn't been recalled for safety reasons.
  • Learning to use baby products correctly and according to age appropriate recommendations.
  • Checking your labels of what is in products before putting them on your baby.
  • Learning the numbers to poison control, police and other emergency numbers. A great one to know is 811.  Call 8-1-1 from anywhere in British Columbia to speak with a nurse any time of the day or night. On weekdays, you can speak to a dietitian about nutrition and healthy eating. At night we have pharmacists available to answer your medication questions.
  • Learning CPR or Child CPR is a great tool to have in your home, as well as an updated first aid kit.

Happy Parenting!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

20 Toddler tips in 20 days 17.Toddlers and Sleeping

Toddler Survival Tip #17

17. Toddlers and Sleeping

We are all told when we were pregnant, "Sleep now."
 "Sleep when you can." 
"Sleep when the baby sleeps."
"You'll be pretty tired at the beginning."
"Eventually they'll sleep through the night."
and other quotes I'm sure you know by heart...

BUT no one told us "YOU'LL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN!"

What happens when your perfect infant sleeper turns into a sleep defiant toddler?

Everyone is different, every family is different. Each family is unique and what works in one household may not work in another.

Some people allow their children to decide when it's bedtime.
Some families co-sleep.
Some families have children in separate rooms.
Some have siblings bunking together.
Some have strict bedtimes and routines.
Some have a more around about times.

Whatever your family design is, is fine, as long as it's still working for everyone. If bedtime or nap time are a problem, then we need to ajust our thinking and take a look at what our ultimate goal is? 


Just like going in the potty or eating, it is a body function that only they control. You can invite and there are some tips that may help, but ultimately this is not a power struggle you want to engage it, as they have the winning power of not closing their eyes! You can bribe, coax, argue, threaten, plead, but it's their doing.

That said, Of course I have some tips for you.

Often child experts have found that these unnecessary battles, such as potty time, eating, or sleeping are based on lack of knowledge, lack of skills, lack of faith, lack of confidence in yourself and your little one.

There are ways to invite cooperation, using respectful and developmentally appropriate methods. All humans sleep and eat to survive. Toileting eventually happens through social conviction. They will do it -eventually! We need to learn as parents, cooperation instead of power struggles.


1. Sleep is your child's responsibility. You can explore the options of rocking them to sleep, whispering and tiptoeing around the house, night lights versus darkness, music versus silence, warm rooms vs open windows, still, SLEEPING IS THE BABY'S JOB! Don't you have enough to do? You will invite a battle if you begin to make his/her sleeping your responsibility.

2. Temperament matters. Some babies are born active, others colic or physical issues, some need more touch and comforting. Knowing your babies temperament will help when establishing good sleeping habits at a young age. Learn more on temperament here:

3. Time for a change? If you find yourself asleep in a toddler bed because they needed you to ly with them and really you fell alseep while they played, then maybe it's time for a change. When children fall asleep by themselves, they learn, "I am capable." If you have a child who cries every night before bed, when you try to implement a change in pattern (for the better of your family) they will resist, expect crying to continue for a couple nights before they realize this is the new routine. They will eventually settle. Decide if you are going to quit lying with them cold turkey or in stages. You can go in and reassure them you are there every 5,10, 15 minutes but NO LYING down, only checking on them. Wean them off you.

4. Keep bedtime soothing. Establish a bedtime routine. Consistency creates a feeling of safety and reassurance. Even with older children in the house who may not need that routine anymore, keep it up with the little ones for sure! Let the older ones help the younger ones with bathtime, teethbrushing, book reading. It may do more for your family than you first expected.

5. No screen time. 1 hour before bed turn off all TV, computer screens, DS or anything else. Even computer readers like Kindle can stimulate the mind and does a disservice for your toddlers sleeping pattern. Behaviour that activates the brain is not conductive with sleep.
“Sleep is nocturnal, because our circadian rhythm directs us to be sleepy in dark, low-light conditions,” says Philip Alapat, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and medical director of Baylor College of Medicine’s Sleep Center. “Bright screens disrupt our circadian rhythm which intrudes on our sleep, especially if we are prone to insomnia.”

6. Create a bedtime chart that they can follow along to. I personally have a bedtime routine chart laminate for my 3 year old, he can follow along as to 'what's next' on the list. He loves to show it off to babysitters as well. It gives them a feeling of being capable and knowing what is next. It reduces stress and fear. It triggers their body and mind to 'gear down' for sleeping. Encourage your child to take an active role in bedtime. You want your 2 and 3 year old to practice putting their own PJ's on. Make it a game, make it fun.

7. Practice bedtime at other parts of the day. Play "Let's Pretend." Pretend play isn't just fun! It helps develop language skills and life skills. Role-play going to bed crying and going to bed happy. Show her what each looks like and then have them do it. Pretend to put teddy or dolly to bed, ask if dolly is happy and what dolly needs before bed. Model cooperation and understanding. Maybe dolly was scared of the curtain or that they light was too dark, you may have a window into what your child is going through later on when he's trying to get to sleep. It may reduce stress and fear.

8. Avoid Power struggles. If you child says, "No bed!" Don't argue the point, you may say, " You'd like to stay up later" or "You don't want to go to bed yet." Validating feelings and thoughts are sometimes the only thing they needed in the first place. This tells her you heard her, you understand and you respect her feelings. AND she's still going to bed. Practice being kind and firm at the same time. (it's harder than you think.) Just continue with what's next on the chart honey? Do you know where your Dora toothbrush is? Let's brush teddy's teeth first. Trying to convince her that she's cranky or tired will only make it worse. Just continue and stay firm and kind.

9. Make decisions and then STICK TO THEM! Decide if they will have 1 or 2 books before bed. If each child has the same bedtime or different bedtimes, stick to it. Don't allow them to sucker you into one more book or 5 more minutes up. Have confidence that you made the right decision in the first place and stick to your word. They will respect, trust and love you for it as they grow. You are building TRUST, stay true to your word.

10. Make bedtime a sharing, loving time. This is the last thought before they sleep. You are the last face they see. You are the last voice they hear. Even with a hard, long day, suck it up and tell them "Today was hard, tomorrow will be better." "I love you, you're a good person." "I'm glad to know you." You can do my favourite game, "What's the saddest part of your day and what's the happiest part of your day." or just ask the happy one. Remember you want them to see your smiling, loving face and hear your soothing, sweet, I love you voice and feel your warm, embracing hug before they drift off. Try to love them BEHIND their difficult behaviours. 

The more confident you are in routine, time and your kind, firm way, the more safe, secure and loved they feel. That's our true goal!

Happy Sleeping!