Posts Tagged: Parenting

Teaching the Birds and the Bees to Little Children

“Mommy. Where do babies come from?”

So… do you have your answer ready?

Here are some choices:

A) A stork drops them off at the door step.

B) They grow in a cabbage patch.

C) They come from a fertilized egg, only it’s not like the eggs we get at the grocery store. This is a very special tiny egg that mommies have inside them. It is fertilized by tiny sperm, which daddies have. That is why every baby is made up of part mommy and part daddy! The fertilized egg grows in a special place in mommy called a uterus. It takes 9 months for the fertilized egg to grow and grow and grow until it’s a baby that is ready to be born.

I hope your answer is (c). Doesn’t that sound as exciting as dinosaurs and volcanoes? Well, it’s about the same for little kids, so don’t get all caught up in your own adult taboos. Just give them the information and try to look like you are not crapping your pants at the same time.

P.S. This will be the first of MANY talks. Next they’ll want to know how that sperm got there. Are you ready for that?

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

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.

Bedtime Potty Training: Using the Toilet After Tuck-ins

The Situation

I recently received an email from a distraught mother who complained that every night after tuck-in time, their 3 1/2-year-old daughter would call out, “Mooooomy, I have to go peeeeeeeee” even though she was put on the potty right before tuck-in every night.

The Way I See It

I suspect that this 3 1/2-year-old has discovered a behavior that mom can’t ignore.  She thinks, “If I’m thirsty or I’m hungry, mom might be able to disregard the complaint.” But what kind of parent wouldn’t respond to a toilet-training-tot when they cry out they need to pee?  After all, we don’t want to be inconsistent. We don’t want to take a step back in bedtime potty training. We don’t want them to be wet all night. So we go and put them on the potty again.  No doubt there is a small conversation, an additional tuck-in kiss, maybe even a song.  It’s really a very social experience for the child.

(Note: This late-night bonus socializing is the “usefulness” that sustains the nightly behavior that we need to address in finding our solution: undue attention-seeking.)

The Immediate Solution

Lose the “payoff” or social benefit of these extra night-time potty visits mom is making by teaching the child self-sufficiency.

During the day, take time for training (T.T.F.T.).  Show your child how to pull their own pants up and down, and practice wiping themselves. You might find wet wipes are easier for kids than dry toilet paper.  They can wipe first and then you can be the “checker” until you are satisfied they have the manual dexterity to get the job done properly.

Once they have this skill, you can put night lights in the hall and explain that they don’t need to call you to go to the washroom: “You are so capable! You can go to the toilet and tuck right back in all by yourself!”

You may also opt to simply leave a potty in their room with some wet wipes and hand sanitizer (again, after some T.T.F.T.).

Some children find this new limit exciting and want to test it out. However, after a night or two, most children prefer to void before bed since they no longer have a successful stalling/attention tactic, and they just get on with going to bed.

The Long-Term Strategy

As with all the behavior guidance tips, you’re not going to have long-term success unless we solve the unmet goal of feeling encouraged. Every child needs to feel secure about their worth and place of belonging in their social group (the family or classroom).  That means parents need to bring on the encouragement and connecting time with our children during those times when they are not demanding our undue attention.

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

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.

If You Hit, You Sit

“If you hit, you sit (out)” is a great short and snappy way of remembering and offering a logical consequence to your kids for bad behaviour, such as hitting. Even better, it meets the requisite 3 R’s of consequences: respectful, related and revealed in advance.

If your find your toddler hitting, the consequence must be logical to them: “If you choose to play co-operatively you may stay here with your friends. If you choose to hit, which is unsafe, you must go somewhere else because we need to feel safe when we play together. When you decide to play without hitting we would love to have you back”.

Here’s my advice on how to use a time out (the “sit”) properly:

1. Of utmost importance: the length of time is decided by the child. Whenever they decide to choose to play without hitting they can come back.

2. The emphasis is on participating in the group with safe pro-social behaviours that meet the needs of the situation. It is about safety and other ways to problem solve, not about being “nice” or “not doing what you’re told” which is all about listening to authority figures.

3. I recommend not using the phrase “time out” as it is has a negative connotation with children.

4. I recommend the child stay close to the fun they want to get back to rather than hiking all the way to their bedroom. You want the children to be motivated to quickly decide to act differently and come back ASAP.

5. Do not have a time out chair/area – that introduces a stigma which is punitive, and speaks to having negative expectations for the child’s future behaviour. Very discouraging.

6. “One minute of time-out for every year” (often recommended by time-out proponents) is NOT a good method. If the child decides they want to come back and there is still time on the clock, they’ll spend the remaining time building resentment and anger, and the child may seek revenge.

TTFT: Take time for training

After the time out, try saying the following:

  • “Our hands are for hugging and holding” (Invites the behaviour we want to see)
  • “It is not okay to hit people. We need to feel safe when we play.” (Be clear, not angry)
  • “You need to speak up and use your words – not your hands.” (Help start problem solving through verbalizing)

Once you have said these things once – YOU ARE DONE. They are bright, they heard you. After all, how many times did you have to tell them that cookies are kept in the cookie jar on the counter?

To recap:

Offer Choice: “Can you stay and play safely or do you need to go?”

Follow Through: “I see (because you keep hitting) that you need to go” and guide them to the side of the room or someplace neutral on the sidelines of the action out of the centre of the action.

Action Not Words: Once they’ve been in this time out once, you can just take their hand and guide them to the side. No words needed.

Firm and Friendly: Watch that body language. Stay calm and composed. Your emotions, disapproval, or exasperated looks interfere with the learning.

Remember: When they choose to come back – that is fine. “Hi – I am glad you’ve chosen to come back. It’s more fun when we play all together.”

Tip: Don’t go overboard with this noticing. If you do they may decide that is enough payoff to encourage them to get themselves into time outs just so they can steal the show with a grand re-entrance! And this does happen.

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

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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