Shut Off the Water

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

adbhalloweenThose big crocodile tears spell nothing but trouble. You not only have to deal with the cuteness factor that makes you feel like an evil parent for not just giving in to whatever it is will make those tears go away, but the wails that often follow are not pleasant (especially when you’re in public).

No matter what though, in these desperate times, you’ve got to stay tough.

Kids turn on the waterworks for a number of reasons, but often the tantrum arises simply from want. They really do need that third cookie, or they don’t want to go to the grocery store, or they do not want the purple dress today.

The reason for the meltdown is not nearly as important as your response. You can understand their distress, but unless you’re willing to have the same behavior when your cute little toddler is a teen, you’ve got to be firm. Your child will learn all too quickly that it will only take a bit of wailing and tears until they get what they want.

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There’s a good chance that things will get worse before they get better. The last thing you want to do is reinforce bad behavior, so you have to tough it out. Let your child cry it out (only when it’s a tantrum, not when they’re hurt, scared, sick, or otherwise truly in need). The second the tears stop, that’s when you want to offer attention. They’ll learn pretty quickly that they will only get a response when they are not screaming. In the moment (especially the public meltdown moment) it is easier to give in, but staying strong will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

No Doesn’t Mean a Whole Lot to Your Child

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

toddlerThere’s a reason that one of the first words your child masters is “no.” Children copy what they see and hear, and it’s an easy assumption that you are saying “no” quite often. But what does “no” really mean?

“No” and “stop” are often confused for the same thing, but when it comes to eliminating certain behaviors and promoting others, it’s going to be important that you recognize the difference.

Let’s say your child is throwing blocks. Saying “no” could mean many different things to your child who is still learning. You didn’t technically specify what your child should not be doing. More importantly, you likely didn’t mention what they should be doing. As silly as it may seem, being more detailed with your child offers learning opportunities at every moment. These same opportunities will be presented again when your children are teenagers.

A better approach to the child throwing blocks would be to say, “Please stop throwing blocks. You might hurt someone. Instead of throwing blocks, why don’t you build a zoo for your stuffed animals?”

Demonstrate the right way to do things, and top it off with a nice compliment when they do make the right decision.

Explaining why kids should STOP and rewarding good behavior with hugs and compliments will be much more productive than a generic “no” without any sort of clarification.

Make “no” a less popular word in your house, because even young children have the ability to understand simple instructions and demonstrations.

Reading (and Comprehending) with Your Toddler

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABooks are one of the best educational tools for toddlers for several reasons. Reading to your child promotes learning and literacy, encourages creative thinking, and it is wonderful time for you to spend together. However, if you’re simply reading the words on the page you’re wasting an opportunity.

It’s easy to underestimate toddlers, even with books. I’m guilty of avoiding longer or more complicated books or avoiding explanations over new vocabulary, but these can be real learning opportunities.

Pointing out tough vocabulary in books is the perfect way to improve literacy as well as comprehension. Using the illustrations as your guide can really enhance the story for your little one.

And then when you read it again (because you will read it again), you can ask your child comprehension questions to build greater understanding, such as “Do you remember what happens next?”

Reading just the words in a child’s book is not exciting as an adult. But asking about the character’s emotions and predicting what happens next makes stories more exciting for the both of you and offers your child a better learning experience.

Surviving Daycare – the Kids Will Be Fine, but Will You?

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first time you leave your little one in the care of another, either daycare, pre-k, or kindergarten, it can be a daunting day for the both of you. You may be more nervous than your child, but there are ways that you can ease both yourself and your child into this memorable step.

Most care centers and schools, if contacted ahead of time, are willing to let you and your child visit to scope out the new environment. This allows the child to get excited about something new while still remaining in the safety of your presence. They have an opportunity to investigate the classroom, the toys, and the other children, while you can ask any questions that you may have.

For very young children that are entering day cares or pre-k centers, it is sometimes encouraged that parents only drop their child off for short periods of time at first, gradually building up to half a day and then finally whole day if that is the goal. This relieves the shock of an extended separation and allows both you and your child time to get used to the idea of being apart.

As parents it can be difficult to to go back to work or school and leave your child in the care of someone else, but it can be a positive experience for you both. Your child may be tearful and distressed at first (and you might be as well!) but kids are resilient and flexible and will adjust – and they won’t hold it against you for it either.

Breastfeeding and Early Childhood Caries: Should You Be Concerned?

The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for a minimum of two years in order to give a child the best chance at a healthy future. There are several proven benefits of breastfeeding, ranging from an improved immune system to a higher level of mental and physical development. Therefore, it is definitely a good idea to breastfeed for as long as possible.

 

What Are Early Childhood Caries?

Early childhood caries (ECC) is an infectious oral disease that can develop when a young child is exposed to large quantities of sugar in their diet. To help prevent your child from dealing with ECC, you should limit their sugar intake, clean their teeth on a regular basis and, after 6 months of age, give them nothing but water to drink overnight. Often this last precaution is the hardest for mothers to adhere to partly because of the convenience of nursing pillows and other similar gear that have made it more comfortable to feed babies in the middle of the night.

Can a Child Get ECC from Breastmilk?

There have been several conflicting studies that have tried to determine if breastfeeding contributes to ECC. In fact, a 2007 study stated that there was no evidence to link these two things together, but more recent studies have indicated that breastfeeding can have an impact on your child’s risk of developing ECC. However, the risk is no greater than it would be if your baby was being bottle fed, and this would rob your child of many much-needed nutrients.

How Can I Prevent ECC while Breastfeeding?

ECC is typically diagnosed after a young child begins to exhibit broken, brown and painful teeth. This condition can cause a lifetime of dental issues, especially if it is not treated immediately. Although there is some evidence that links breastfeeding to this condition, there are several ways to provide your baby with all of the health benefits of breast milk without causing them to develop ECC.

  • Clean Your Baby’s Teeth Regularly – Wiping down your baby’s teeth and gums after they breastfeed is the best way to prevent ECC from occurring.
  • Minimize Nighttime Feedings after Six Months – Most cases of ECC that are linked to breastfeeding stem from nighttime feedings when it is impossible to properly clean the baby’s teeth. Therefore, dentists recommend developing a sleep routine with your baby that keeps them from nursing throughout the night after their teeth start to come in.
  • Avoid Breastfeeding before Nap Time – Although it might be impossible to prevent your baby from breastfeeding for a few minutes before bed or nap time, it is beneficial to minimize the amount of time that they spend drinking breast milk before they fall asleep.

Ultimately, it is still in your child’s best interests to be breastfed, but you need to take some precautions to help reduce their risk of developing ECC. As long as you take the proper steps, they can receive all of the necessary nutrients without risking their dental health.

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As a mother herself, Bethany Gillis is acutely aware of the countless controversial issues that mothers face. She offers this information in hopes that it will bring clarity to mothers debating the facts about breastfeeding. She strongly encourages the use of modern conveniences such as nursing pillows in order to achieve breastfeeding success.

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5 Activities to Keep Mom & Toddler Happy

5 Activities to Keep Mom and Tots Happy

 Activities that keep your infant busy should be entertaining and promote growth and development. In addition to games of peek-a-boo, your infant will also enjoy items that can promote independent play. This can be beneficial to their cognitive skills, and it can allow a bit of hands-free time for the busy new mom to get chores done around the home. 

1. Play Yard

8277157368_e24f895566It’s difficult to keep your baby with you everywhere you go when working throughout your home. However, a play yard is an excellent way for you to watch them play independently and tackle tasks that need to get done around the house. Several different models of the play yard are available. There are even washable play yards to make cleanup easier. This handy piece of infant gadgetry is easy to transport and can be moved from room-to-room. By filling the center with a few of their favorite toys and books, you can keep an eye on your infant as they play.

2. Baby Bouncer

The baby bouncer is a piece of equipment that is ideal for your infant to soothe, stimulate and keep them entertained. It can be difficult to provide your child with constant entertainment, and the baby bouncer provides a rocking motion that is similar to being held. When you’re busy with household chores or work, you can place them in the activity bouncer. The overhead toy bar is within your infants reach and as they bat and grasp at the various toys, the items light and play music. Once they’ve finished playing, the seat and motions are so soothing it will lull them to sleep.

3. Activity Gym

An activity gym allows your infant to play on the floor in a safe and clean environment. The soft, plush mat is surrounded by toys and prop up pillows for comfort. The overhanging toy bar has an array of activities that are designed to promote visual stimulation and touch. Classical melodies and dancing lights can also keep them mesmerized and entertained. Tummy time allows them to strengthen their neck and core muscles, and the play gym is enhanced by the various images on the play mats.

4. Blocks

Blocks are an essential part of your infant’s toy chest. Baby blocks come in a variety of sizes, textures, colors and styles. As your child grows and develops, you can expand on their design. Blocks are ideal for independent play or as a shared activity. They also promote hand-eye coordination.

5. Learning Discovery Kits

As your child grows, and their attention span increases, you can incorporate learning discovery kits to aid them in their development. The books, DVDs and CDs were designed to expand your child’s mind and world around them by introducing them to colors, music, rhythm, animals, words, numbers and shapes. Your infant can be introduced to everything from Beethoven to an animal safari.

Keeping an infant entertained with an assortment of activities and accessories is easy. There are a host of things that you can provide for them that will expand their knowledge, and the world that exists around them. It can also allow you the freedom to take care of items that need tending around the home front.

Valerie Stout Cyrus is a professional blogger and mother of two children who frequently researches issues that are of interest to parents. She discovered the washable play yard (like pack’n play) is a great way to keep your baby safe and happy throughout the day.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/seanfreese/8277157368/

 

Terrible Twos Become Terrifying Threes

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

From the moment your child is born, there is a little part of you that is counting down to that magic second birthday. From every account, birthday number two spells doom and terror in your household.  The terrible twos don’t just magically appear on your child’s birthday; the behavior associated with the terrible twos begins anytime after the first birthday or during the second year.

Your two-year-old is not really terrible; he or she has just discovered a new-found sense of independence and cognitively has begun to recognize him or herself as an individual.  This significant stage of development is an opportunity for you to begin teaching your child behavior boundaries.

terrible twosToddlers in this stage want control.  You can help them have a sense of control over their world by giving them advanced warning rather than abruptly changing activities.  “We are going to leave the park in ten minutes” works a lot better with a two year old than “C’mon, it’s time to go now.”  Temper tantrums, one of the standard elements of the terrible twos, should be met with time outs.

There is one thing you should know; while they aren’t called the terrible twos for nothing, if the twos are terrible, the threes are terrifying!  All of that independence and self-awareness your toddler gained at two comes with an increased ability to reason, argue, and speak at age three.  Depending on your child’s disposition, you may see less out and out temper tantrums, or you may see more, but you will probably have more tests of will.

By age three, your toddler is very aware that there is a world to explore. This exploration, however, can bring frustration when parents place limits for safety or the child simply doesn’t have the ability to do whatever he or she is attempting.  The good news is that three-year-olds are capable of communicating, so you can encourage them to use words instead of actions to express their frustration.  They are also capable of making simple choices between two things.

The best way to keep your three-year-old from becoming “terrifying” is to provide a lot of safe opportunity for exploration.  This is a great time to help your child focus on fine motor skills. Play catch, build with blocks, count and sort.  Let them help around the house with simple household chores.

Hang in there.  It won’t be long before your toddler is slipping on a backpack, getting on the bus, and heading to kindergarten.  At that moment, you’d probably give anything to have one more temper tantrum.

Your Child’s Social Development

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

From the moment we find out we are going to have a baby, we begin to imagine what our child will be like; we wonder about features and personality traits; we worry about potential challenges.  Until we’re done counting fingers and toes, we may not even consider social development, but social development is something we should be focusing on with our children from early infancy.

Social development occurs most rapidly between the ages of three and six; the preschool years are a crucial time for acquiring much-needed social skills (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). Children who do not achieve adequate social development can face many challenges as an adult, including poor mental health, lower achievement, academic difficulties, difficulty finding and keeping a job. They also face an increased risk of criminal behavior.

What can you do as a parent to improve your child’s social development?

As soon as you are done counting fingers and toes, the best thing you can do is bond with your child. Socialization begins at birth through parental bonding. As your infant grows into toddlerhood, it is critical to continue to bond with and nurture your child, even when you’d rather hide in a closet and ignore the terrible twos.  As your child grows, the best thing you can do is provide ample social opportunities that allow your child to learn how to make friends, play with others, and eventually share.

social developmentYou don’t have to force friendship; young toddlers will often play independently side by side.  Don’t expect too much interaction or willingness to share, although you can begin encouraging the behavior.  As your toddler reaches three or four, group interaction should be encouraged.  It doesn’t matter whether it is weekly play dates at a public park or a couple of afternoons a week in preschool; group socialization is vital to your child’s overall social development.

When your child begins school, his or her teacher will continue to focus on social development.  You can provide support to both your child and the teacher by reinforcing positive behavior at home and supporting the teacher’s rules at school. Social development continues throughout childhood.

Children who suffer from learning disabilities or hyperactive disorders like ADD and ADHD, as well as children who fall somewhere within the Autism spectrum, may find social development more difficult to achieve, but with clear expectations and guidelines from you combined with the strength of your emotional support and unconditional love, kids with special needs can learn to interact successfully with their peers.

The best thing you can do as a parent is to simply love your child, respect his or her individuality, and encourage tolerance, love, and empathy.

Internet Safety for Kids

What a Baby B.A.T.H. Should Be

MomsGetReal Guest Contributor +Elizabeth Lotts writer for Vitacost.com

Baby’s bath can be the best bonding time, which means these are moments you DO NOT want to miss. To keep your bundle full of joy, draw a bath that paints a lasting picture with these fun ideas that reveal what baby bath time is all about:

B – Bubbles of fun. With a few capfuls of bubble bath you’ll have a tub of suds. Use a bubble wand – or improvise with a clean fly swatter – to blow bubbles up and into the air. He’ll reach for the bubbles to pop as you reach for his belly to tickle. Because your baby’s sensitive skin and eyes are top of mind, you’ll want to choose tear-free, chemical-free bubble formulas.

A – Aromatherapy-induced smiles. When baby is sleepy and fussy, soothe her with sweetly-scented baby shampoo and body wash. A baby soap smelling of chamomile will help calm and cajole her into a slumber. You can even add soft, instrumental music to help set the mood. When bath time is over, pat her dry and massage her arms and legs with lavender-infused baby oil. Then watch that frown turn upside down and those eyes drift into dreamland.

T – Toys for your tot. When you’re baby has graduated from the classic rubber ducky, look for waterproof playthings that move on their own or make noise, as well as blocks and letters to fuel their minds. Toys that squirt serve double duty when you use them to rinse off the soap suds. Simply squirt lukewarm water on top of baby’s head while using your free hand to shield her eyes.

H – Hugs and high-fives. With a few interactive toys, aromatic bubbles and your imagination, baby’s bath is sure to be a success. Once the cleaning and play time is over, give your baby a nice warm hug and yourself a high-five for a bath well done!

This article has been provided exclusively for MomsGetReal by the folks at Vitacost.com. They know that a healthy lifestyle is more than organic vitamins and natural supplements.  That’s why Vitacost.com offers essentials for your home, your baby, your pantry, your beauty routine – even your furry, four-legged friends! Since 1994, Vitacost.com has been taking the cost out of healthy living. Today, you can shop over 35,000 products such as argan oil to algae from your computer, tablet or smartphone with just a click of a button. Some might say Vitacost.com is the silver platter of healthy living – let them serve you. Vitacost.com is not affiliated with this blog and isn’t responsible for content outside of this article.

What’s Best for My Toddler, Preschool or Homeschool?

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

Many families these days who have to rely on two incomes in order to survive do not have a choice whether their child attends daycare or preschool or not, because it is a matter of financial survival. Going to preschool can actually be beneficial to your child, however, because of the social development and cognitive stimulation opportunities available to him or her.

If you do have a choice, you may wonder whether it would be better for your child to go to preschool versus stay home with you.  Both choices are valid, and the decision should be based on personal desire, need, and finances.  If you do decide to keep your child home with you, you can provide the same social development and cognitive stimulation opportunities – and it does not have to cost you a ton of money, either.

The most important aspect of any preschool program is the social development it offers, since social competence is well determined by about age six and can predict later risk (criminal behavior, academic failure, etc).  You can provide the same social development opportunity to your stay at home child by arranging play dates with other stay at home children on a regular basis.  If you don’t know anyone, take your child to a park or play place.  It doesn’t matter at the toddler stage what sex the child is or whether or not the children know each other.  In fact, being exposed to many different kinds of people helps your child learn to be flexible and tolerant.

The cognitive stimulation preschool offers can be matched at home; you also have the flexibility to personalize the stimulation to your child.  Spend time reading to your child, engage him or her in conversation, ask questions, and play music.  Consider giving your child music lessons.  The Internet is extremely useful for learning appropriate cognitive activities, downloading worksheet and coloring activities, and getting ideas for ways to help your child learn and grow.

Social Studies Lesson Plans for Your Toddler

If you do take your child to preschool, drop in on them unexpectedly occasionally to make sure everything is going well.  Trust your instincts.  If you feel as though your child is in a bad place or not being cared for properly, find a new preschool or caretaker.  In the end, it does not matter whether your child attends preschool or learns from you at home.  The most important thing to do is make sure your child is safe, loved, nurtured, and protected whether they are with you or someone else.