Monday, July 30, 2012

Aggression, Toddlers and great resources to help

Is your toddler aggressive? Are you stressed out and don't know what else to do? Try taking a step back and start observing before reacting. Ask yourself "What is happening and why?" Ask, "Is there something I could have done to prevent this?" Try to write a log of when the aggression happened...
1. What happened
2. What time of day
3. How often
4. What was is reaction and what was your response, was it effective?
Write as much as you can and keep a 2 or 3 week log.

Observe.... what they say, do and how they play. If they are swearing, grunting or angry, this may tell you a lot about how they feel. If they are throwing or stomping or playing roughly with their toys, this is a window into their the world. Take a look at your log and see if the aggression happened at the same time each day and see what you could do to prevent this. Or was it at a play date with too many kids? The log may show you info you didn't realize before. Maybe they were melting down just before bed every night and you could stop this by making bedtime a bit earlier.

Observe their surroundings and yourself...Your little children are adults mirrors, they copy everything. If you are angry, frustrated or upset, take a look at how you handle that. What you say, do and how you interact with your world is teaching your child how to react to theirs. What who your children are watching or what they see on TV. Do they have older teen in the house who may be swearing or using aggression. Is there aggression at the daycare or a relatives or friend's house? You can possible help decrease aggression in your little one if you work on the older children or yourself first.

Self reflection... is the best way to stave off any bad habits. Many time we don't even know we are behaving badly. A long day with bills piling up and little sleep can make us less than perfect parents. Take care of yourself, make sure you sleep well, eat well and get out into the sunshine each day. 1 hour of walking in the daylight can decrease your own stress and help your little ones have good naps. Write in a journal all the things you are thankful for and try to stay positive throughout your day. Even when your little one is melting down. The more calm and positive you are, they quicker the tantrum will be over and done with.

Many children throw tantrums... in the mall, at daycares, community centers or grocery store when they can't have what they want, it's too much stimulation or sometimes for no reason at all. Iv'e seen at a local park kids melting down and fighting with other children. You may have your toddler melting down at a relatives house or when your family is going through a transition like dinner time, or getting ready to leave the house etc. I have even had parents tell me about their toddlers aggression happening when nothing in particular is going on. Sometimes we just don't know what is in their little minds. By observing and asking them questions, it may help resolve some of these issue. Even little babies can learn to sign and tell you what's going on in their minds. Ask them, "How do you feel? Are you hungry? Are you tired? Did you need a hug? Is it too noisy? Are you scared? Did you want to be picked up? Do you want to play?

Give them things they can say to help cope. Today my 2 year old gently headbutted another boy at the park who was ignoring him. I asked, "Did you want to play with that boy?" He said, "yes." I said, "Ok, go over and ask him if he wants to slide down the slide with you." He did and they played. Too funny. I could have been upset and said NO HEADBUTTING! What are you doing? Stop it! and caused a ruckus at the park. Instead I tried to imagine why on earth he would go over and head but this boy who had been ignoring him. So I just asked and it paid off. It doesn't always work this easy, but maybe it will give you an idea of how to observe. Try to think what would I want if I was 2.

I want you to think about where is the aggression COULD be coming from. Observe, observe, observe. Study what is happening and when. Try to step inside your child's shoes and envision what they may be feeling.

Here is a great article on one parents particular problem with their 17 month old and some wonderful insight and solutions:

Here's another great article with similar problems:

It's always wonderful to search out answers and be observing your child. Look for possible issue that could be causing aggression.

Possible reasons for aggression:

1. They don't have the signs or words yet.
2. They are too young to reason out a problem they are having.
3. Overstimulated
4. HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired)
5. Scared
6. Unsure or nervous about a situation.
7. New environment or people
8. Learning from mistakes or trying to figure things out.
9. To see what happens when I do this...
10. Needs a sense of belonging or importance.
11. Trying to display independence.
12. Frustrated.
13. Attention  (an easy try is go and pick them up and hug them when they are showing aggression)
14.They just may need a break, maybe the younger baby is bugging them and they need some alone time.

I am sure the list is longer, but this may get you started. Good luck on observing and loving your little one.

It will pass, they do grow up eventually! In the meantime a wonderful resource and excellent author is this set of books:

0 - 3 year old:


Elementary Age:


Special Needs:

Single Parents:

Teacher's guide:

1001 TIPS!

Happy Reading!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Vacations and babies

Vacation and babies. In our home, this is a must. We can't just hide at home all summer and stick to our routine to keep the 3 year old and 12 month old on schedule. All of our family lives up country. From Sorrento to Kelowna, we must take a vacation and travel to visit immediate family. Therefore, we had to adjust to life on the road with babies. Not just on the road life, but life with 3 or 4 different households. We had to drag the children around to visit other family in the area. We didn't look at this feat at dreadful, instead we used it as an opportunity to teach, learn, share and grow together as a family. Not to mention the wonderful memories we have.

Here are some suggestions of what we did that made our travels more enjoyable.

The pack: Over packing never hurt anyone if you have the space. As prideful as your husband may be about down sizing your 8 pair of different shoes for the holiday trip, bring the 3 pacifiers, baby monitors, playpen, high chair, the night light, bibs, blankies and stuffies just in case. It never hurts to be over prepared. it also helps the children feel more comfortable and 'at home.' Bringing babies favourite stuffie to help make him feel more secure is pretty vital. It's hard for some of us to sleep without a pillow, it feels the same for them. A baby monitor was vital for my moms place as their sleep room was in the basement and we often visited outside by the fire. That way I didn't have to run in every 7 min and check on them, risking waking them.

Naps: Make sure you select the same room for sleeping each time you visit that 'grandparent', in our case. Also, if you can black out the blinds, it helps them sleep during nap time without staring at all the stimulating environment. If your child needs a night light, bring that also... it could help you navigate the new dark room while searching for pacifiers as your 3 year old naps.

My husband laughed at all the stuff I brought, but more often than not we used absolutely everything. At my moms, we were blessed to have her do laundry at her place, but during camping, we made sure we had too many onsies, blankets, sleeprs, socks etc. Babies get dirty, have poo blow outs, spit up etc. Keeping a 2 year old clean during potty training is also quite the challenge. Bring too many clothes will help keep kids happier and drier.

The drive: We had to drive up north so often their little ears would hurt from the pressure of the elevation. Our babies rarely used pacifiers, but we always brought them on road trips and let them suck on them during the drive. I would give licorice to my 2 year old to chew on during the equalization. This way, they would swallow more often and help equalize their ears to reduce pain. This may work well in airplanes for your family. If you are traveling on a plane, nursing them just before boarding is a must and may save your trip. Often babies will sleep heavy after a good nursing. Making the plane ride peaceful for all. Make sure you have lots of 'new books' and toys you bought from the dollar store your 2 year old has never seen. Great entertainment for road trips and airplane rides. If your techie - a movie on a tablet. They still sell those Magic Pen Books...  for older children, that was my favourite as a kid. You know what entertains your little ones. Mirrors on back of seats are also great in car trips.

“When you are on a road trip and need a bathroom break, keep a lookout for a budget chain hotel. They are easy to find, often conveniently located just off highway exits. They tend to have rest rooms in the lobby area and, in my experience, these bathrooms are usually much cleaner than those in gas stations and fast food restaurants.” — Amy from Kingston, N.Y.

“I have discovered that a roll of low-tack painter’s tape has a zillion uses on car trips. I can use it to tack up a spare tee-shirt to the car window to block the sun from bothering my 17-month-old daughter when she’s trying to sleep. I use it to pin fun pictures of her favorite TV characters to the seat in front of her. In the hotel room, I use it to cover electrical sockets and pin up curtain cords out of my daughter’s reach. Best of all, it comes off at the end of the trip without damaging upholstery, painted surfaces, or wallpaper.” —Patti from St. Paul, Minn.

“Whenever we go on a trip (even a day trip), I pack a mini first-aid kit in my backpack or handbag. I use a small flat Tupperware-like container, but even a sandwich-size Ziploc bag would work. My first-aid kit typically contains about 10 Band-Aids of assorted shapes and sizes, a small bottle of hand sanitizer, small tube of bug bite sting reliever, several antiseptic wipes, small tube of antibiotic ointment, several individual packets of Advil and Children’s Tylenol, and a few stickers or temporary tattoos that I give my patients after their treatments.” — Beth from San Bernardino, Calif.

If I didn't say it before BABY WIPES on any trip are a must. From small messes to poo blow outs, you can never have enough. Also, I loved my diaper duck...  They lock in smells in tight quarters.

Vacation or running around? Be prepared to be busy, even in the car or on the plane. With my 12 month old, he was mobile and curious and sitting for long periods can be boring and often frustrating for everyone. Schedule short stops in the car for breaks. A nice grassy area to run about will feel good for all. Choose to go inside a restaurant instead of going drive through. We were also potty training our 2 year old and would bring the potty along. We kinda knew his schedule and would plan short stops to bring the potty out. We only have one pee through on the car seats and it was our fault for missing a stop.

Teaching opportunities:

Math in the car.... License plate math was my favourite as a kid.

Reading in the car... favourite books or books on tape. My 2 year old had his favourite songs and even before he could talk, he would sign Duck or Turtle to request his favourite song on the CD.

Signing... Travelling is a great opportunity to teach signs. My 2 year old loved to learn new signs and adventure with us. Watch for opportunities. As I said before my children signed what they wanted. If they were hungry, had to pee, wanted a song or story. My 12 month old asks for nana's all the time. I have tried offering Cherrios and he shook his head and re-signed NANA! So funny, being that paticular at such a young age. Having a few signs in your pocket with little ones will reduce your stress and allow you just to ask, "Are you ALL DONE? or do you want MORE? Sometimes my 2 year old would call up to me and tell me what his little brother signed... and say, "He wants a DRINK mommy." Sure enough I'd look back and he's quietly signing DRINK. So cute!

One last thought... bring BUBBLES!!! Use only in emergencies. The first sign of a full on meltdown start blowing. 

Good Luck!

Other great articles on vacationing with babies.

Great article on how to get your baby to sleep well on vacation:

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