Subscribe to Life of a Happy Mom Subscribe to Life of a Happy Mom's comments

Posts tagged ‘toddler’

I think I have finally figured out the secret to parenting.

Okay, when I say “figured it out,” I don’t mean that I have a 100% perfect understanding of it. But I think I have enough of a concept to apply it and to share it.

And it wasn’t my original discovery. It comes from the book Parenting Your Infant/Toddler by the Spirit by Sally Hohnberger. And “it” is the parenting pyramid.

In my own words, this pyramid means that God is at the top, desiring to communicate to my child and me. Because I am the parent, I need to open up the lines of communication–two-way communication. I need to make sure my heart is fully surrendered in the moment. And let me tell you, lack of surrender on our part is a big reason why we fail to bring our children to true obedience. Just try making a child obey cheerfully by yelling at them!

The second aspect is that God also wants to communicate directly to the child. However, the rebellious, tantrum-throwing two-year-old isn’t listening. So we as the parent, now surrendered to the Lord, will communicate to them, and direct them to listen to what God is saying to them. Then we lead them to surrender as well. Once they surrender, the lines of communication are open between both parent and child and God and child.

Now, that’s good in theory, but let me make this practical with some illustrations from my life today.

It was time to pick up the toys and get ready for worship. But neither of my children wanted to pick up the toys. Manny tried to throw a tantrum and Gislaine started to cry. Because I couldn’t deal with them both at once, I sent Gislaine to her room and told her to wait until I called her. Then I told Manny that he needed to surrender his heart to Jesus and put the toys away. I said, “Let’s pray,” but he jerked in defiance. So I took his hand and said, “We need to go for a run.” We ran the length of the house and back. Then I knelt again and asked him to pray with me. He knelt, folded his hands, and closed his eyes. Then he repeated after me. “Dear Jesus, please help me to put my toys away happy. Amen.” Then I showed him the toy, and repeated my instruction. He put it away. At first he was just compliant–putting it away under protest. But as I directed him to put more and more away, his heart softened until by the time he was done, he was a cheerful, happy little boy. And Daddy noticed later, after I had gone to the gym, that he was the happiest, most obedient, surrendered little boy that he had been for a long time, and commented on it to me when I got back.

Once he was busy putting his toys away, I called his sister out. We knelt and I led her in a similar prayer. Then I asked her, “What is Jesus saying to you?” She said, “To obey.” That just warmed my heart! Jesus was speaking to my precious daughter, and she recognized His voice! I said, “That’s right. Now please put the dolly’s bed away.” And she did. She also helped her brother put some things away. And she was happy when it was over.

And so was I!

Yes, it took extra time to do it, but the end result was happiness for everyone, and peace in the home.

Yes, this is the secret: a connection with God, listening for His direction, and following His guidance. Most of the time, we won’t know for sure if the ideas that come to our minds are from Him or not, but we are to test the spirits, and move forward in faith. But being surrendered ourselves–to take our toddler’s hand for the grizzly run (because they are too young to run by themselves), even when we don’t feel like running–makes all the difference. Because we certainly cannot bring our child to surrender if we are not surrendered ourselves!

I’m reading this book through for the second time. I can’t say I’ve read enough recently to do a proper review of it, but I would still highly recommend it. And all the other books in the series.

I think one of the most annoying things on earth is a screaming toddler when his will has been crossed. Kind of like a siren, only it’s right in your ear. People stop and stare at you. You just know they are thinking all kinds of judgmental thoughts about you, like, “Why can’t that mom get her kid under control.” (More than likely, they’re probably thinking, “I’m glad that’s not my kid!”–not that that is any better.) And all you can think is, “I just wish I could make my baby stop crying!!!”

But now there is hope! I have learned a method that, if used consistently, will help teach a child self-control so that you don’t have to make a spectacle of yourself every time you have deny him something he wants. It’s not an overnight fix, but it with consistency it can make your life much easier!

First, though, I want you to watch this video, where I describe the technique and give a few cautions. An outline is available below for those who prefer to have things written down–or in case you want to print it.

Here are the main points:

  • Don’t use on a tiny baby or on a child who is hurt or has a real need
    • Newborns cry for legitimate needs–meet their needs!
    • Use for older babies and toddlers who are crying because their will was crossed
    • Don’t use on children over 3 years old–time outs and reasoning are better for that age
  • Start using this method at home; don’t start in public
    • It will take longer initially, then shorter each time
    • Be consistent at home; that will make it easier to deal with away from home
    • Later, when child surrenders quickly, you could use this in public to avoid attracting so much attention
  • The method:
    • Hold them, restraining arms if necessary
    • Cover mouth with your hand as they cry out
    • Do NOT cover their nose
    • Remove hand when they breathe in
    • Repeat as needed
    • Remain calm throughout (frustration feeds the child’s negative emotions)
    • Talk soothingly to them
    • Continue until they surrender–never give up before they surrender!
  • This method teaches the child self control, laying the foundation of a very valuable character trait

Something I didn’t mention in the video is that if you asked the child to do something and he started screaming, you can use this method to calm him, but be sure to bring the first issue back around, repeating as needed until he submits.

With that introduction, here is the video demonstration of the method with my son. Please note that it is short because I had been using it frequently for 2 or 3 days prior to making the video. It will not be this short the first time you try it!

Works for me! Any questions?

Okay, this post is not for me. My son is almost two.  I am writing this for the author of a blog that I follow who just had a baby a few days before Christmas, and now she is starting to feel overwhelmed as hubby goes back to work, mom goes home, etc. She asked on Twitter if any of her followers had blog posts on the topic of surviving with a toddler and a newborn, and since then all kinds of ideas have been flooding through my mind. Of course, since my second is almost 2, I figure I am an expert on the topic (hahaha), so here is my advice, for what it’s worth:

Prioritize

I know that sounds hard to do right now. But take 5 minutes when the baby is asleep and toddler is happily coloring or playing with dollies or something that will keep her attention for that long, and decide what is really important. Spotless floors? Dream on! Making sure mother and all minors are fed? Absolutely. Making sure they get nutritionally balanced, gourmet meals? Forget it! If they get Cherrios & milk for breakfast, PB&J sandwiches for lunch, and takeout for dinner for a month, you can consider yourself a good mother! Hubby can fend for himself for at least the first month! Of course, the newest arrival will be getting nourishment from Mommy or a bottle, so make sure you keep taking those prenatals!

Seriously, though, decide what is absolutely essential to making sure the house doesn’t cave in. Things like meals, laundry (as much as you’d like to skip this–though intensive stain removal can go on the back burner now), dishes (get paper plates & bowls to make this part easier), and sleep (not necessarily in that order). Then stick to it, and only add in things as you have energy (notice I didn’t say time–energy!)

Simplify

I alluded to this in the previous section, but you really should simplify things as much as possible. When clothes get scarce, throw a load in and wash it. Don’t sweat the baby poop stains around the legs of the onsies. They will come out well enough when you have time to put them on the line later. Stock up on frozen dinners, rice-a-roni, sandwich makings, cold cereals, quick hot cereals (this time of year hot food is nice, and oatmeal only takes a few minutes to make), fresh veggies for munching (avoid broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage if you’re nursing–though if your toddler likes them, have some handy for her!), pasta and pasta sauce, and take-out menus of all your favorite places–especially the ones that deliver. The less you have to think about right now, the more time you will be able to spend recuperating and enjoying your precious children.

Nap When You Can

I know they always say, “Sleep when the baby’s sleeping.” With one, that was easy. With two, it seems almost impossible! It took a while, but eventually I was able to get my two to sleep for at least half an hour at the same time. To be honest, I usually tried to get things done then, but I wish I had taken more time to rest–even if I couldn’t sleep. Hindsight is 20/20, and lack of sleep contributed to some very difficult times for me later (especially since my son had severe eczema, and that was emotionally draining for me, and even more so because I was sleep deprived).

There is a lot of conflicting advice about co-sleeping, but I did it with both of mine for the first few months, and that really helped me get more sleep. It can also be helpful at naptime. By 2-3 weeks baby should be able to handle nursing lying down, and it allows you to relax more than sitting would. If you just can’t fall asleep for worrying that you would roll over on the baby, get a co-sleeper thingy. There are different styles available; one kind slides under the mattress and hangs over the side of the bed; the other kind lays on the bed, but has soft sides that come up to keep baby safe. It’s worth looking into. At 3 or 4 months you should be able to transition baby into sleeping by himself (especially if he does that during the day already).

Cut Down or Eliminate Caffeine

I know it seems like caffeine is your friend, but it’s not. If you are nursing, you are passing it to your baby (which means he’s going to be more hyper), and you’re taking away from tomorrow’s energy reserves to get through today.

When I was a child, I had this kid’s book about health that had a picture of a couple of tired horses trying to pull a heavy carriage up a steep hill. They were giving it their all, and yet the driver was whipping them to make them go faster. And it told me that is what caffeine does to us. Maybe that’s why I never touched the stuff. And let me tell you, it’s not because I never felt like I needed it. There were days I wished I had some around! But overall, it’s much better for everyone to avoid it.

Ask for Help

They say children are meant to be raised in a village. If you were Amish, the neighbors would be over mopping your floors, weeding your garden (if it were summer), doing your laundry, and bringing you home-cooked meals–without you having to ask anyone for anything. But we don’t live like that anymore. Nowadays you have to ask for help. And that is hard on our pride sometimes. But the sooner you do it, the better off you will be.

The first place I would look if you don’t have family nearby is your church. A good church is like a second family. Call the head deaconess or the pastor and ask for help. You will probably need to be specific: “I would like someone to come once a week for the next month and a half to mop my floors and do some important cleaning like toilets and vacuuming major walkways; also, a few home-cooked meals would be lovely!” If anyone in your church has kids your toddler’s age, see if they would be willing to come pick her up once or twice a week in the morning for a playdate to let you take a nap while the baby sleeps and not have to worry that the toddler is getting into something.

Watch Your Coping Mechanisms

For me, adding a second child was not as hard as watching that child slowly develop a severe case of eczema. It was draining for me. By the time he was 7 or 8 months, he was a very miserable baby and I was about to have an emotional breakdown. I found myself trying to cope by watching movies and playing games on Facebook. Looking back, I wish I had looked for other ways to cope, because all I did was hide from my problems while they got bigger and more overwhelming.

Now don’t get me wrong. A good movie now and then is not the issue. It’s 3 movies a day while I ignored everything around me. I wish I had taken more of that time to get down on my knees and plead for strength to get through the rest of the day, claiming promises like Isaiah 40:29-31. I wish I had taken the time to read good devotional books and other good literature instead of letting Hollywood fill my mind with useless trash.

So there you have a few ideas. I hope it helps you and anyone else who finds this post.

See if you can spot the problem with this photo:

It’s easy to miss from this angle. Maybe a toddler’s perspective will help:

Pretty obvious now, eh? Let me tell you my story.

It was last fall. My memory says it was the day after Thanksgiving. I had cooked millet overnight in the crock pot for a recipe, and after taking out what I needed, I moved it out of my way. But I didn’t think about the cord.

Manny came into the kitchen, and the cord was the first thing to catch his notice. Something new! So exciting. So he did what any normal toddler would do. He pulled.

A moment later, my heart nearly stopped as I whirled around to see Manny laying on the floor, surrounded by pieces of broken glass and bits of cooked millet. The crock was upside down on his left, the lid shattered. But he was unhurt! He was crying as if he had just had the fright of his life–and indeed he had–but he was okay.

If the crock had landed on his head, I imagine it could have killed him. I am convinced his angel pushed it out of the way. I’ll double check when I get to heaven. Daddy came running and snatched him out of the mess, while I tried to calm my shaking knees with the thought that he was okay, and proceeded to clean up the mess. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my whole life!

So now, when I move the crock pot, I make sure it looks like this:

Just in case you’re wondering, I found a “new” lid a while later at the Goodwill.

By Melissa Toledo on Flickr

This week Sarah at Sarah’s Heart’s Home and I are discussing Quiet Time Ideas for Toddlers. A couple of days ago I listed a few ideas to keep preschoolers from being bored. A few of those ideas could work for toddlers as well, so I’m not going to repeat those here.

Maybe I should clarify that by “toddlers” I mean from the age the kid starts walking (sometime around 1 year old) until about 3 years old. By 3 years old, they aren’t really “toddlers” anymore, and then we call them preschoolers, I guess. I’m still trying to figure this all out! So there will probably be some overlapping of age groups in these ideas.

At this age, most kids still take a nap or two every day, so that is probably my favorite thing for them to do! However, my 3 1/2 year old only takes naps sporadically now–unless I wake her up early, in which case she will probably sleep for at least an hour, if not two, in the afternoon. But I can’t rely on this anymore.

One idea that come to mind is books. My daughter has “quiet time” in the morning before breakfast, where she looks at Bible story books quietly. Sometimes we let her use the computer (we don’t have a CD player right now) to listen to one of her books read out loud. This time will later evolve into personal devotions as she grows older.

I’m not terribly full of ideas, but I have rounded up a few sites, and I think they will be able to give you some more ideas. Sorry I’m not more creative, but I’m writing this before we move (because I won’t have time to get it done on time after the move), and my brain just isn’t very creative right now.

Here’s a list of a number of activities.
This post has a few ideas. It’s written from the perspective of a day-care, but could work for anyone.
This article is like a step-by-step guide for toddler quiet time. Definitely worth perusing.
This list of activities isn’t necessarily for quiet time, but it was so good I just had to include it. Many of the ideas could be adapted for quiet time.

Check back in two weeks when Sarah and I share a day in our lives. In the mean time, check back every day for other regularly scheduled posts, and other updates on my life.