Posts Tagged: Alyson Schafer

What to do when your toddler wakes at 5am.

It can be hard to get a child to sleep through the night – but what if they are habitually waking early?

One mother emailed me about her 3-year old son who refused to do anything alone when he woke up early. If she didn’t let him in her bed, he would cry until he woke his 10 month old sister up. Now there are TWO wailing children to contend with at 5:30 am.  Ugh!

Is this how you start your day? Are you sleep deprived from this toddler sleep schedule regime?

Here was my reply:

Thanks for the email. He is an early riser and you are not. He can rise early (try to make him stop –  HA!)  and that is okay – but he must be a co-operative human in  your house  and realize he doesn’t have the right to disturb others when he wakes.

So…. tonight at tuck-ins, let him know YOU are not to be woken until 7 am (or whenever) and set an alarm for him so he knows when it will be 7am. Then ask him what he would like to do alone when he wakes until 7 o’clock arrives.   As long as he is safe and non-disturbing, it shouldn’t matter to you…

When he says things like “the TV is too bright” or “the hall is too dark”  he is just attempting to eliminate the options you have offered in order to get to be social with you! TOUGH! You are NOT an option at 5:30 am and he must be left to deal with the true fact that life at 5:30 am is BORING and hopefully he will either LEARN to self-entertain, not  be afraid of  the dark, give up minding the TV brightness or go back to sleep.

To ensure he doesn’t disturb you, you can put a childproof handle on the outside of YOUR bedroom door.   It’s okay if he screams and bang for the first few mornings (say NOTHING) so he learns that there is NO mommy interaction until 7am.

If the baby cries – leave her too. Now he has a crying sister and no mom!  Boy – better not be stuck like that again!!!  The baby will settle again (good training for her too) or he’ll go play with her and the two of them can keep each other company.  They’d learn it’s no fun, lots of tears, boring and maybe a bit scary to be up and alone without mom.  Let him / them experience this a few times (the baby will learn to sleep through the noise of her brother) and they both will learn there is no good reason to get up before 7am.

Good luck!

Alyson

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com

7 Tips for Successful Birthday Parties

1. Do not make kids’ birthday parties too long. Kids only have a limited amount of energy and attention span before they start to misbehave and things start to fall apart.
2. Be very clear in the invitation as to whether this is a ‘drop-off’ or a ‘parents-stay-behind’ party. If you aren’t prepared to host 7 or 8 extra adults for the duration of the party, be clear up front.
3. Make sure you have enough eyeballs on hand to help you supervise the party. Extra support can come from your partner or a couple of your friends, but you will need help – especially with younger children.
4. Plan some activities. Don’t over-plan and be disappointed when kids aren’t following all of the instructions. Kids need some freedom and free-play. On the same hand, don’t under-plan and give them too much free time where they can get bored.
5. It won’t go perfectly. Just remember, it’s not so much about the game at hand, it is about everyone being together, smiling and having a fun time. So if they don’t want to play Pin-The-Tail-On-The-Donkey or they decide the magician is boring – move it along and go with the energy of the children.
6. Decide in advance if you are going to open presents in front of everyone or if they are going to be put on a table and opened after the guests leave. If you opt to open presents, be sure your child takes the time to personally thank each guest for the gift. If you have decided to open the gifts later, it is important for your child to call or send a thank you note after to acknowledge the gift that they received.

7. For the uninitiated, you might find it easier to host a party outside the home such as at the movie theatre, a gymnastics club or bowling alley. You won’t have to worry about the clean-up and there are extra staff members on hand that are accustomed to the noise and activity level.

Happy Birthday!

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com

Birthday Budget Learning Opportunities

Contextual learning is the new buzz word for education. Children learn concepts best when taught in context. So what better time than hosting a birthday party to teach some financial literacy skills to your children.

When my daughter described how she envisioned her 8th birthday party, she told me she wanted to invite all of her friends, have a big birthday cake with a princess on it, matching plates and streamers and to go to a movie. Rather than just flatly saying “no we can’t afford it”, and creating upset, I explained to her that we had to work within a birthday budget.

So I gave her an amount to work with and we priced out everything together. I had her see the numbers and choose for herself. Instead of me saying “you can only have 6 friends” – I said it doesn’t matter to me so long as you come in with a plan for a birthday party on a budget.

She compared the cost of bowling to movie tickets to games at home and how that price was impacted by the number of people invited.

She could buy the matching plates / cups / table clothes with the Disney characters, or get plain coloured ones from the dollar store to make the place look festive at half the price.

We compared a slab cake from the grocery store with a Disney princess to the cost of making one from a box and icing it ourselves. That would free up more money to invite more people bowling. Turns out – the grocery story bakery cake was very important to her and worth the sacrifice. Her party, her choices, her values – my budget. We were both happy. Had I made the decisions unilaterally, I would have been seen as the ‘meany’. Instead, I was a hero – she learned a lot and really took ownership of her party.

You might be surprised at just how creative and amazingly co-operative kids can be when they have a budget to work within!

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com

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