If you are a parent you probably are constantly multitasking. Helping the kids, doing household chores, keeping up with emails and preparing for the events of the day. Parenting is a constant juggling act. I have even heard stories of mothers changing diapers while driving! Ok, so maybe not (that would be pretty dangerous and messy!).
Multitasking is almost essential for parenting. But, it can also be distracting. I used to brag to my husband that my ability to multitask was much better than his tendency to compartmentalize his tasks. I could be more efficient, get more done in a shorter amount of time. But, sometimes I wish I was better at compartmentalizing. I would be better at living in the moment. I could play with my children without being distracted by the dryer buzzing taunting me with the clothes that needed folding, or my phone beeping, reminding me to return that phone call.
Because of my tendency to multitask, I have found myself saying "just a minute" a lot recently. I tell my son, "I will help you in just a minute" or "I will play with you in just a minute". I am sure he is getting as tired of hearing it as I am of saying it. On the one hand, it is important for him to learn patience and wait until I am finished with what I am doing. On the other hand, it would be nice if once in a while, I said, "yes I can do that now". And, why not? What is more important - the extra dish in the sink or that my son feels his mother has time for him?
Sometimes in parenting I feel that my children have as much to teach me about life as I have to teach them. Living in the moment is one of them. I constantly work on living in the moment. Often children force us to live in the moment - kids get hurt, break things, throw tantrums and need our help (and now!). But, as I practice living in the moment, I realize that sometimes I want to do so by choice. I want to say "yes, I can play with you now" or "yes I can help you put your shoes on now". So, join me this week in saying yes more than no, living in the moment and avoiding the phrase "just a minute".
Many parents ask me how to teach their child table manners and how to get them to sit down at the table.
One way is to follow, parenting expert and author, Elizabeth Pantley's suggestion in her No Cry Discipline Solution to change the setting of the meal. Every once in a while have a restaurant -style meal at home. Put a table cloth on the table, use cloth napkins and light candles. It will change your child's mood and behavior. It will help your child practice her manners while having fun.
It is also important to set realistic expectations of your child. It is reasonable for your toddler or preschooler to be able to sit at the table for 15-20 minutes, but some may want to get up and play after that. However, if you want them to sit for longer you can slowly extend that time and encourage them to stay by making the mealtime pleasurable - having conversations about the day or telling stories. As children get older, they should be able to sit for longer, but don't expect too many children or teenagers to want to spend an hour at the table each night.
Once your child is sitting at the table, how do you teach him manners?
1. Set mealtime rules. Choose what is most important to you and limit the rules to 3-5.
2. Let your child know the mealtime rules and remind him, especially if you are having company, going to a restaurant or having your special "fancy meal night".
3. Notice when your child is following the rules and offer specific praise ("You are sitting so nicely in your chair").
4. Model polite table manners for your child. If you say please and thank you, your child is more likely to follow suit.
5. Keep practicing and offer gentle reminders during the meal if necessary!
Parents want their children to eat and eat well (of course!). So, many parents will go to great lengths to get their children to eat. I have heard some creative ways parent have gotten their child to eat: playing games, giving time outs for not eating spinach and hiding chicken in yogurt (hmmm tasty, huh?), in addition to the standard, "just one more bite", "you can't get up from the table until you finish everything on your plate" and "eat your broccoli and then you can have dessert".
Unfortunately, these meet some short term goals of getting children to eat, but it does not meet the long term goal of helping children develop a healthy relationship with food and developing healthy eating habits.
Here are some techniques for teaching healthy eating:
1. Include your child in the process:
- grow vegetables in your garden
- take your child grocery shopping
- recruit your child to help cook and bake
- encourage your child to help set the table and serve the food
2. Make mealtimes enjoyable
- give your child ample time to transition from play to mealtime
- start the meal with a toast or a prayer
- use the opportunity when you are sitting down to talk about the day or tell stories
- try and sit down as a family as often as possible
3. Serve the meal family-style
- place the bowls on the table, family style and let your child serve herself what she wants and how much
- include something at the table that you know your child will eat
4. Let your child take it from there
- avoid games, cajoling, and convincing your child to eat
- let your child choose what and how much to eat (as long as it is what is being served)
- don't cook special, separate meals
- model healthy eating. Eat what you want your child to eat and only keep things at home that you want your child to eat.
Happy and Healthy Eating!
Today I am taking a brief break from the picky eating topic to review The No-Cry Discipline Solution, by Elizabeth Pantley.
In the No-Cry Discipline Solution, Elizabeth Pantley offers readers easy-to-use tools to address common behavior issues in a gentle, loving way. Pantley simplifies the complex job of parenting by offering practical techniques that effectively address behavior as well as strengthen the parent-child relationship.
The Book Teaches Parents:
· How to adjust parenting attitudes in order to enjoy parenting more and discipline more effectively
· How improving the parent-child relationship can reduce behavior problems
· About a child’s emotional development and the impact on behavior
· Specific discipline techniques to:
- Address everyday challenges
- Encourage cooperation
- Reduce tantrums, fussing and whining
· Ways to stay calm and manage anger
· Solutions to for specific problems such as:
- Sibling Fights
I use the No-Cry Discipline Solution in both my personal and professional life. As a mother I appreciate Pantley’s gentle approach to discipline as well as her nonjudgmental attitude towards parents. As a busy mother, I want a parenting book that is quick to read, offers real, practical advice and is easy to refer back to when a new behavior arises. As a parent coach, I recommend this book for similar reasons. Most of the parents I work with lack time and energy to dig through a theoretical book that makes parenting feel more complex. Instead, they want a book that normalizes their challenges and offers them practical tools that they can start using right away.
There are so many parenting books out there. So what is unique about Pantley’s book?
* My favorite part of the book is a section that addresses how your actions today can affect your future teenager. It includes a chart, which identifies common challenging teenager behaviors, the preferred behavior and how to encourage it at each developmental stage starting during toddlerhood. By teaching children the preferred behavior (i.e. talk respectfully) early they will be more likely to exhibit it as a teenager. Imagine a teenager who doesn’t talk back and cleans up after herself!
* There is a whole section of the book, which identifies over thirty common behaviors and gives very specific tools to address each of them. This section is very useful and great to refer back to when a specific behavior arises.
* There is another section which is dedicated to creating a calm household and managing anger. Unmanaged anger and frustration increases the likelihood that parents will resort to ineffective discipline techniques that can negatively impact the parent-child relationship, and may increase misbehavior. Most parenting books shy away from this, but Pantley understands the importance of encouraging parents to change their own behavior before changing their child’s. In this chapter, Pantley, outlines a specific plan for addressing and managing anger.
I would caution readers from believing that this book will end all whining, tantrums and tears which it alludes to on the book cover (“Gentle Ways to Encourage Good Behavior Without Whining, Tantrums and Tears”). Toddlers and children have emotions as do adults and the goal of the book is not to prevent child from having feelings, but help children manage them better. The book will not help parents eliminate all whining tantrums and tears, but it does give parents the tools to reduce these behaviors as well as the techniques to manage them.
Ok, so I own the book Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld and I've tried several of the recipes and they are delicious. But, the question is, does the short term goal of getting children to eat their veggies outweigh the long term goal of developing a healthy attitude toward food? And, will those deceived children remain picky eaters into adulthood because they have not been given the opportunity to try a variety of foods?
The very popular cookbooks for parents of picky eaters The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine and Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld aim to give children a well-balanced diet by hiding their fruits and vegetables in their favorite meals (think macaroni and cheese with beans and cauliflower or oatmeal cookies with zucchini and banana).
The benefit of this is that children will likely eat more fruits and vegetables without complaints, hassles and mealtime battles. The drawback is that the child does not learn to try or like a variety of foods and therefore when making choices on his own (and out in the real world where most food is not home-cooked with hidden vitamins and nutrients) the older child or adult may not make good decisions about food.
In general, deceiving children rarely works out, but as a parent of a picky eater, I straddle the fence on this one. I want my child to develop the taste for a healthy variety of foods, but I also want to know that he is getting the right nutrients for his growing body and mind.
Tell me what you think, deceptively delicious or just deceptive?
And, stay tuned for the next blog where I will give specific techniques on encouraging healthy eating.
What makes a child a picky eater?
Is it nature or nurture? Some research indicates that picky eating is genetic, some say that picky eating is strictly environmental. Well, like many of the nature/nurture debates, it is a combination of the two. A child is born predisposed to being picky and their environment can either encourage picky eating or foster a healthy relationship with food.
Children are picky eaters because.......
1. They may be genetically predisposed to picky eating due to their selective taste receptors that reject bitter foods and crave sweeter foods.
2. They are going through the normal developmental stage (usually in toddlerhood) when they are reluctant to try new foods (this is actually an ancient survival mechanism to prevent accidentally eating a posonorous food).
3. Acquiring a taste for new foods takes time. It can take up to 15-20 times of trying something new before a child might like it.
4. Some children are sensitive to textures. Babies who will eat anything in the pureed form become resistant to eating different textures such as chewy meats or soft leafy greens.
5. Some children assert their independence with food (and they know it can create lots of parental anxiety when they don't eat). This often results in power struggles and can be a behavioral issue about control.
6. Picky eating habits may be reinforced by catering to your child's pickiness and giving up on offering new foods (more on how to avoid this later).
So, now that we understand the picky eater a bit better, what do we do about it? Stay tuned for techniques for teaching healthy eating, including whether to start training to be the next sneaky chef!
Picky eating is a common concern among parents of toddlers and sometimes older children. Parents worry that their children are not eating enough or getting the proper nutrition for optimal development, sleep and behavior.
Parents also can become frustrated that their child refuses to eat food they have spent time preparing or wastes food.
In acts of desperation parents often resort to catering to their picky eater, preparing them special meals, sometimes multiple meals at one sitting.
Mealtimes can become a battle, a place of anxiety, and frustration.
This can often worsen the problem making the picky eater more resistant to new foods.
If you struggle with a picky eater, stay tuned. This month I will be writing about picky eating and will help you to learn more about:
1. Why kids are picky eaters.
2. The benefits and disadvantages of becoming the sneaky chef (tricking your child into eating veggies hidden in his favorite foods) hiding veggies in your child's food)
3. Techniques for encouraging your child to develop healthy eating habits
4. Teaching your child table manners: what is age appropriate.
Fill in the blank: whining is_______
....like nails on a chalk board
....a great way to get attention
....a child's demonstration of his persistence skills
Whining happens when a child...
is testing the limits
learns that its an effective way to get what he wants
What to do when whining happens to you:
* Ignore it
* Actively ignore it: ("I really wish Lizzy would talk in a regular voice so I can understand her")
* Teach more effective communication skills: (Mommy, may I please have a snack")
* Use gentle reminders: ("as soon as you talks in a regular voice, I can help you")
These suggestions work, but my favorite and most effective is to turn it into a game. A lot of difficult parenting moments and power struggles can be diffused with games and humor. When my son is whining, I often play a game where I pretend he has lost his voice and I go on and on hunting for it around the house until he starts giggling and he points to his throat and says, " it is right here", in the most calm, angelic, non-whiny voice that shifts the mood dramatically.
What are your tricks for ceasing the whining?
When I studied in Costa Rica, the locals distinguished between "Tico Time" (a loose interpretation of time) and "Gringo Time" (when you were expected to arrive at the exact time specified).
Well, toddlers (and some older children), run on their own clock and I call it Toddler Time.
Toddlers have a very vague understanding of time. It is usually measured by what occurs before and after meals and sleep times.
This is why it can be challenging to get toddlers and preschoolers out of the house on time. Being late for something really doesn't mean much to them. But, of course it means something to a parent!
So, what can you do to help your child follow adult time?
Give yourself ample time. Of course there are days when unforeseen things happen on the way out the door, but in order to avoid being too late, start the process of getting out of the house much earlier than seems reasonable. You never know what roadblocks will slow down the process.
Give your toddler ample time. Things take longer when you are first learning to get yourself dressed. Give your child gentle reminders of what he needs to do to get ready. "Here are your socks. Go sit down and put them on. Great job putting on your socks. Now put your shoes on. Thank you." and on and on until you are both ready! Try and stay in the room with him to keep him focused. Parents are often running around the house getting the last minute things ready, but the more distracted a parent is the more distracted the child will be.
Be patient. After you give a command, give your child a little bit of time to start the task before giving him another reminder. Remember - he is working on Toddler Time and doesn't have the same sense of urgency you do.
If you are lucky enough to get out of the house earlier, reward your child and yourself with an extra ride around the block, listening to your favorite song or arrive at your destination early and enjoy some extra time playing or telling stories in the car.
Teach your child time. Introduce numbers on a digital clock. "When this number changes to 8 we need to put our jackets on and get in the car. Not only does this help your child learn numbers and time, but it includes your child in the shared task of getting out of the house.
Be consistent. The more consistent the routine is the less reminders your child will need. One fun way to help improve the morning routine and make it more consistent is to use routine charts. You can pretty easily create one yourself at home or purchase a pre-made one like:
Finally, when you don't have to go anywhere, enjoy Toddler Time and the lesson they teach us about living int he moment. You can read more about that in one of my prior posts: http://www.larosaparentcoach.com/1/post/2011/05/who-has-time-to-stop-and-smell-the-roses.html
Whether you call them the terrible twos or the terrific twos, two-year-olds usually have tantrums. And, unfortunately, tantruming doesn't always stop when children turn two!
It is one of the most common reasons parents contact me. Tantrums are embarrassing, hard to ignore and can be frustrating.
Tantrums are the result of a toddler's emotional immaturity, inability to regulate their feelings and lack of impulse control. A perfect storm.Most parents have experienced their child screaming, crying, flailing and making a scene. So what can you do about tantrums?
1. Understand them - what is a child saying by their behavior (Is she hungry, tired, or just want something they can't have?) 2. Prevent them - a well-fed, well-rested child with lots of positive parental attention is less likely to throw tantrums. And, if you notice your child becoming irritable, try and figure out what he might need to prevent it from escalating into a tantrum. 3. "Accept them" - it happens to everyone, don't worry about what others think and try and stay calm. It is much easier to manage them if you are calm, and your child needs you to be calm in order for her to calm down. 4. Manage them - there are different techniques which I list below. Which one you use depends on your child's temperament, the intensity of the tantrum and the environment you are in when the tantrum is occurring.
- Ignore it if there are not safety concerns.
- Read a book out loud while sitting near your child or redirect him and try and engage him in a different activity.
- Acknowledge your child's feelings.
- When your child is calm, teach her calming techniques such as deep breathing, counting, or asking for a hug and remind her when she is tantruming.
- Remove your child from the triggering situation.
- Be Consistent. Do not give in.
What are your tantrum taming tricks?