How do I get my child to listen??

How do I get my child to listen??

By Tara Cummings, BA, BST-BA

True Change Positive Parenting Solutions

Parents want happy and harmonious homes. So do children in fact. Children often scream and cry to get what they want, but they would prefer not to, just as you would prefer not to have to feel like you’re going crazy! If you find yourself frequently feeling frazzled and just can’t seem to get your children to follow instructions and routines, simple strategies exist to set you on your way to happier times. If you’re not quite at the stage where your child is resisting and protesting, don’t skip reading the rest of this! Setting up for success is the most important approach to parenting. So even if you’re in the midst of chaos or not currently feeling concerned, being prepared to provide effective instructions will make a world of a difference for you. So, let’s dive right in with the following recommendations for effective instruction giving (note: this method is for instructing your child to do something versus stop something):

Step 1 Formulate your approach wisely: Be within close proximity, say your child’s name, get down to his/her level and provide a brief and concise instruction. If it is necessary to provide an explanation, keep it very short. Keep in mind that the more you talk, the more you’re likely to escalate in frustration and the more your child is likely to escalate with avoidance or protesting.

Step 2 Provide warnings: You child deserves to know that a transition is about to happen. You plan your day and therefore have the luxury of knowing what is happening next. Your child doesn’t so when it’s time to move on, make sure that you set up for success by giving warnings. I recommend 2 to 3 warnings. They can either be time warnings or turns. For example: 5 mins, 2 mins and 1 min remaining or 3 turns, 2 turns, 1 turn remaining.

Step 3 Provide choices: Do you feel good when someone tells you what to do without any room for discussion or choice on your part? I’m going to assume you’re answer is a strong no. The same applies for your child. Build choices into your instructions to offer control to your child. When a child feels like they have some say in what is happening next, they are more likely to follow through with your instructions. Choices can be very simple such as “Do you want to wear your red shirt or the blue one?” or “Do you want to do it or do I help?”

Step 4 First-Then statements: Build motivation into your instructions by telling your child the fun thing that is happening next. This means that you should structure your day by having preferred activities follow less preferred or non-preferred activities. When you provide your warnings and the instruction to begin a transition, use a first-then statement. Example: “It’s time to leave the park. First walk to car, then your favorite song!”

Step 5 1-2-follow through: This is the “go” step. You are now ready to begin the transition. 1) State your instruction, wait 5 secs (count in your head). 2) Repeat the exact same instruction, move closer and point in the direction of the task/activity, wait 5 secs. 3) Repeat the exact same instruction while simultaneously prompting your child to go/start. You can prompt them by guiding them forward, hand-over-hand prompting them or showing them the first step of the activity. Example: 1) “It’s time to pick up your toys, then snack.” 2) “It’s time to pick up your toys, then snack” while pointing at the toys. 3) It’s time to pick up your toys, then snack” while taking their hand and moving it forward to pick up the closest toy.

What do you think about these steps? Take the time today to try them out. The more you use these effective instruction giving steps the more success you will have with your child. If you experience kick-back with step 5, stick with it. Always be prepared to follow through. If you’re not willing to stand your ground, don’t give the instruction in the first place!

For more great tips, parenting information or support go to www.TrueChange.ca, e-mail Tara@TrueChange.ca or call 613-858-8524.

Tara Cummings is a Behaviour Specialist trained in Applied Behaviour Analysis (the science of behaviour). She provides evidence-based parent coaching, training and behaviour consultation to help parents with challenging

behaviours as well as to help parents develop positive parenting skills. Parents who learn and work with Tara raise happier, healthy children in calm and harmonious homes. Contact Tara to sign up for an e-mail course that includes these steps as well as 29 more daily recommendations and tips to make you an effective parent. Additional support and training is also available.

The Unconventional Way I Weaned My Toddler

Those who know me, know that the nursing relationship I shared with my daughter, was something incredibly dear to my heart. After she was born, I became a ferocious advocate for normalizing breastfeeding, opting never to use a cover and to nurse wherever and whenever I pleased. If my baby was hungry, I didn’t care what your level of comfort was, I was feeding her!  Although  nursing wasn’t something that came super easily to us in the beginning, once we established healthy breastfeeding, I thought I would nurse her forever! My nieces once even bought me a picture of a bare-breasted mermaid holding her baby nursling mermaid and said “Look Auntie Erin it’s you!” As they knew, my two favourite things in the world were the water, and nursing my sweet baby girl. But as we crept closer to my daughters second birthday, those joyful feelings slowly began to morph into what’s known as nursing aversion and I knew, in order to preserve my sanity, something was going to have to shift.

The very first latch!

I had heard about nursing aversion before. In fact, my former partner in Mommy Connections had experienced it while pregnant with her third baby. But like so many aspects of motherhood, it’s not something that I think anyone can fully grasp until they’re in that position. With every latch, I began feeling sick to my stomach. Previously, my child twiddling my free nipple while nursing from the other one was something that I wouldn’t even notice, but it now felt similar to that feeling in the back of your neck when you hear nails on a chalk board. Worst of all, in all of this discomfort, my child began to nurse more frequently; it’s like she knew I was thinking of calling “LAST CALL!”, and she had to get her money’s worth.

Finley had always nursed on demand. To be clear, she’d nurse when she was thirsty, hungry, needed comfort, was injured, sick, or really whenever the mood struck her. As a parent, I had never been huge on setting a particular feeding schedule and because we bed-share, nursing has also always been my tactic to get her to sleep. So when I made the decision to start cutting her off, I knew it had to be slow and gentle. The first thing I tried was distraction. She’d come asking for it and I’d point to something amazing at the other end of the room, or ask her to play a game with me. This would usually work for about one minute until my headstrong lady would remember her mission for milk, and come marching back. Simply denying her would usually result a red-faced, on-the-ground, arched back meltdown, that my heart just couldn’t handle. Because we weren’t on any kind of schedule, dropping a feed  (as the experts suggest) was also out of the question. I started to lose faith and thought “maybe I should just suck it up and be uncomfortable for the sake of keeping the peace”. But then I remembered what I preach to the moms in our programs. We as moms are important too. We matter and so often we lose sight of ourselves as we mother these amazing little people, and it’s important to teach boundaries, respect and self worth. Most of all, I was desperate to not want to look back on my nursing journey with resentment.

One year anniversary!

Two weeks before W Day (weaning day), I started to tell Finley that Mommy’s Milk was getting OLD. She had tasted sour milk from a cup once and knew exactly what this meant. I explained daily that when we turn two, the milk gets old and no longer tastes good. This was usually met with a “ya ya, give me the goods” type response. We celebrated Finley’s second birthday with family and friends and because I knew what was coming, the day was filled with mixed emotions for me.

Tear stained face after her first nap without nursing. Have you experienced mom guilt? It’s awful.

One week later, after a particularly long and painful morning nursing session, I pulled the shoot. I walked downstairs by myself and rubbed Apple Cider Vinegar and Lemon Juice on my nipples, and then I waited. A few minutes later, Finley came over and asked for boobies and after explaining the milk was old, I allowed her to latch on. After not even two seconds, she JUMPED back with the most disgusted look on her face and yelled “MAMA’S RIGHT IT’S OLD! YUCK!” and simply walked away and carried on with her business. “Ok” I thought, “That was too easy. How is this going to look when it’s nap time and there’s nothing for me to offer other than a sippy cup?” An hour later, we laid down in bed and wrapped our arms around each other. I whispered in her ear how strong, smart and brave she is and she simply rolled over and went to bed. For the first time in two years of being on this earth, my little one did not nurse to sleep! Though she was content, I was A MESS! Did I make a mistake? Am I a terrible mother for denying her something so simple? Am I selfish? Maybe my discomfort wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be! Am I truly ready for this to be over? All I can say is that mom guilt is a very real thing, and in that very moment it hit me…hard!

Over the course of the next few days, I continued to apply my vinegar and lemon juice concoction to my breasts, on the off chance that she wanted to give it another go, but she never did. We talked about the old milk, what this meant for her and how proud I was of her being such a big girl. She cried and during those gut wrenching moments, I had to navigate tears sans breastmilk. But just like every other parenting challenge, it came and went and we figured out our new normal. I continued to reassure her that she was loved and valued and that this was all simply a part of growing up.

I had some criticisms for taking this route but I know in my heart that it was the only thing that was going to work for us. She is such a strong-willed individual, that I needed it to ultimately be her decision to wean. There were no melt downs. No denying her. No leaving her side to let someone else put her to bed. In this circumstance, SHE simply decided that she no longer liked the taste, and was ready to move on. I am confident in my decision and know without a shadow of a doubt, that it was what was best for me, her and our family.

The weeks that followed were not easy on me, but I’ll save that for another post. For the mama out there that’s thinking she’s ready to have her body back, you do what you need to do, when you’re ready to do it. Don’t let society tell you what’s right, even if your methods look a bit different. I had never imagined that lemon juice and vinegar would be my chosen path, but at one point I also never imagined feeding my daughter sugar… as we all know, plans change 😉

If you had told me before I became a mom, that my child would be eating a lollypop the size of their head, I’d have said you were nuts!

 

Traveling With Our Kids – What do we ACTUALLY need?

I have always been an over packer. An over-night or weekend trip can very quickly turn into looking like I’m leaving for a several month long expedition. I’m the one at the airport who’s emptying the contents of one bag into the other, trying to even out the weight distribution, as an attempt to avoid having to pay for heavy baggage. Then I had a child and it got way worse….

Since the birth of my daughter our family has been lucky enough to do our fair share of traveling, and with each trip I’m left wracking my  brain trying to figure out the absolute essentials. Do I bring a high chair? Pack a car seat or rent one? How many outfit changes could she possibly need every day? Pack diapers or buy them when I get there? I usually just succumb to the fact that at any given time, a massive blizzard could hit in the dead of Spring, in the tropical destination we’ve traveled to, and bring her ALL the options.

What we had for 2 weeks in Florida (plus my diaper bag)

This March, my little one and I eagerly set off on a two week holiday to Florida. Impressed with the fact that I only had one, 50 pound bag for the two of us, I arrived to the airport with only an hour to spare, to find out the worst had happened!!!! The latch on our pickup trucks trunk had opened, and somewhere between Orléans and the Ottawa airport, my bag had rolled out. I was left having to decide whether to cancel the trip altogether, or move on to Florida, with nothing but the clothes on our backs and winter boots on our feet. One hour later we boarded the plane and although the experience of traipsing through two airports in heavy, winter, fur-lined boots was uncomfortable, the amount that I learned about what we and our little ones ACTUALLY need  and don’t need on a holiday, was invaluable.

DON’TS

  1. Don’t pack a highchair – if you are staying at a hotel or resort, check ahead with the staff because almost every establishment will have one that you can keep in your room for the duration of your stay. Furthermore, if you dine on the resort grounds or in any restaurant, there will be one you can use. I had the Summer Infant travel highchair that I LOVED, but it added a lot of extra weight to the luggage, and took up tons of room.
  2. Don’t worry about too many pairs of pyjamas –  At home, I like my daughter to wear a different pair of pj’s every night, but if you’re looking to travel light, you do not need a nightly wardrobe change. Many places will have laundry on site, but if you’re only gone for one week, they won’t get dirty enough to warrant bringing too many pairs. When we arrived in Florida, I bought Finley one really cute and special set of jammies (that she picked out) and I washed it intermittently throughout our stay.
  3. If you’re bringing your iPhones and/tablets, you may want to skip the baby monitors – I am certain you won’t leave home without your phone, so if space it what you’re hoping to save, you can download many different Baby Monitor Apps that serve as a monitor. We set my phone up in her room as the base and used the iPad as the camera. It worked perfectly and I now know that I don’t have to risk our expensive monitor getting broken in our luggage.
  4. Shoes – one for travel, one for leisure. Unless you’re going on an adventure-packed trip by day, glamorous gala-filled trip by night, you don’t need too many different pairs of shoes. I bought Finley a comfortable pair that she could wear on the beach, in the water, or when walking around shops and restaurants, and of course she had her boots with us to come home in. In the past I packed her flip flops, dressy sandals, water shoes, and runners. One pair of shoes that double as water/leisure shoes is all that’s necessary. For me, one pair of flip flops was fine for two weeks in the sun.

These Natives are a great choice for the “everything” shoe

5. You don’t need to pack all the toys – If your child has a lovey or special toy that they don’t like to be without, pack it in your carry-on so no matter what luggage situation you get into, they’ll have it with them. Another local mama I know says she allows each child to pack their own tiny backpack full of toys from home. “It makes them feel special and included in the process of getting ready for the trip”. You can also pick up a couple of cheap toys at a local dollar store once you arrive at your destination (sand toys etc), but most little ones will be so occupied by their new surroundings, that they won’t be overly interested in the toys that came from home. We were also recently gifted a Moonlight, that attaches to your phone to illuminate your child’s favourite books on the ceiling. It weighs nothing and is a super fun alternative to actual books.

Dollar store sand toys were a big hit! And we just left them behind for another little one to enjoy when we were leaving.

Moonlight attaches to your phone and plays books on the ceiling

6. Share one toiletry bag for everyone – I am usually a notorious toiletry-over-packer. I bring big bottles of shampoo, conditioner and soap and giant bottles of my favourite body wash. Not to mention all the lotions and washes that my little one uses. Losing my luggage made me realize that this was unnecessary and a massive waste of space. Upon arrival in Florida, I purchased a travel sized bottle of body wash that was safe for both me and my two year old and doubled as shampoo for her. I picked us up toothbrushes and a travel sized toothpaste and a small bottle of shampoo for myself and that was all I needed.  It was refreshing not to worry about styling my hair or wearing makeup for the two weeks. That being said, leave the blowdryer at home. If your natural air-dried hair is a bit out of control like mine, there will be one you can use in almost any rental unit or hotel room.

7. Blackout curtains are great, but tinfoil and garbage bags work just as well – I know I know. It sounds funny and may not be the Pinterest worthy look that you were aiming for, but the Gro Blinds are huge, take up tons of space and aren’t cheap. You can just as easily cover any window with tin foil and black garbage bags. Those two items can be purchased anywhere you go and can ensure your little will have successful sleeps!

8. Don’t bring your most expensive stroller – If you are going on a holiday where you’ll be cruising rugged terrain with your littles in tow, it might make sense to pack it. Otherwise, an easy folding umbrella stroller does the trick. I packed my UppaBaby Vista on one of our first overseas trips, and it was severely damaged while stowed with the baggage. I now have a cheap and light Maclaren Umbrella stroller that is more than sufficient. If you’re a baby-wearer, you might even think about renting a stroller once you arrive at your destination. This is a surefire way to not cause any damage to the ones you like to use at home.

9. Cribs are available to rent/borrow at so many hotels – It may be worthwhile leaving the pack & play at home, especially if you’re traveling by yourself. We have had great luck with hotels having clean and nice cribs available for rent. Pack & plays are great if you’re driving somewhere, but to fly with them can be difficult and unnecessary. Call ahead where you’re going and ask what their crib situation is.

DO’s

  1. Car seats ARE needed, and you should bring one that you’re used to installing –  One mistake that I didn’t make was strapping my little one into her travel carseat before leaving our house. Because I was traveling alone, I made sure that I was comfortable with installing it and knew how to use it. It is recommended that when your child turns two and has their own airplane seat, you strap them into a carseat. I cannot express how vital I feel this is. Not only is if safer in the event of turbulence or that the plane stops fast. Not only is it also a comfortable and familiar setting to that your toddler is used to. But, it also comes in extremely handy when your little one can’t get out of their seat and run around on the airplane! Yes, you can rent them upon your arrival, but you will never be sure that they have not been previously damaged, nor will they come with a manual on installation. It may be bulky to lug through the airport, but you can buy inexpensive, lightweight ones such as the Cosco Scenera Next, recommended by Ottawa’s very own carseat and safety experts). 

    This lightweight car seat works great for travel

  2. Pack any/all medicine in your carry on –< This includes any pain/fever relief medicine that you and your children might need, prescription drugs, Epi pens, Benadryl, Pepto Bismol; anything really, that you might need in the event that something happens and you or your little one isn't feeling well. If you lose your luggage, at least you'll have peace of mind knowing that stuff is near.
  3. Pack a change of clothes in your carry on – Even when your kids are over the diaper blow out phase, I can’t stress enough how happy I was that I had a pair of backup clothes when we were five minutes into the flight and my child spilled freezing water all down her front. You never know what the kids can get in to so it’s best to have clean, dry clothes they can easily change into.
  4. Stock up on snacks – This probably should have been point #1 as I feel it is the most crucial way to ensure you have a bit of sanity on your flight. This is the time where I stop being the health conscious mom, and worry about what will make her happy in the event that a full blown in-flight meltdown occurs. Snacks. They are the way to go. Even if it means an extra 10 pounds in your diaper bag, pack them all! Also, you never know what kind of delays you’ll encounter while traveling, or when the next full meal will be. So let me reiterate one last time, PACK ALL THE SNACKS!!!

The bottom line is, if you’re happy, your kids will be happy. I had the choice to panic, cancel our vacation and cry over it, or suck it up and remember that it’s only “stuff” and she and I are capable of having fun no matter what.

I am so happy to report that thanks to the wonderful powers of Facebook, my bag was located and returned to us safely. Although I was beyond grateful to have the contents back in my possession, I’m even more grateful for having had the experience of winging it with my little one. I now feel I have a much stronger grasp on what the ACTUAL essentials are, and know this will save me time, money and sanity moving forward.

So grateful to the man who found it and for the amazing powers of social media!