Traveling with a Child

Traveling with a Child

Traveling with young children is an amazing opportunity to create so many memories with your children. The most memorable memories for you may be when your child is throwing himself/herself down on the floor in the airport or screaming bloody murder of the plane! Unfortunately, these things do happen!

Toddlers are going through some major developmental changes, which can contribute, to their increased tantrums. At this stage of development, our little ones have discovered that they can do things themselves. They have gone from having things done for them, to trying to figure out how to do things themselves. During this learning period, children will often throw a number of tantrums out of frustration, exhaustion, hunger, worrying about what is happening next, etc.

So how can you deal with these behaviors while you are traveling?

There are basically two types of strategies that you can use. These strategies can be broken down into 2 different types of reactions. The reactions are as follows:

1. Proactive Reactions:

A proactive reaction is when you consciously choose to do things that may help with your child’s feelings that can stop your child’s need to tantrum to express his/her feelings.

Some examples of Proactive Reactions are:

  1. Having snacks ready at any given moment. “Hangry” is a real thing.
  2. Giving your child reminders of what is happening next. Warnings of when they will have to transfer on to the plane. A warning before preparing for take-off and landing so the seat is in the right position.
  3. Play for a minimum of 10 minutes with your child. This is child-directed play! This can happen on the plane, in the airport, on the bus, in a vehicle, and so on. The child led play adds to your child’s feeling of connection with you. This simple act has a powerful impact on your child’s day.
  4. Bringing a transitional object with them like a blanket or stuffy that provides comfort when you can’t.
  5. Keeping to a routine that is similar to home when possible. This simply means having meals, snacks, and naps in the same order that they occur at home. I fully expect that these meals, snacks, and naps may be happening on the fly!

2. Reactive Reactions:

A reactive reaction is what you do after the tantrum has occurred or while it is in progress.

Some examples of Reactive Reactions are:

  1. Distraction is a common tactic used. There is a time and a place to use this technique. In the middle of a crowded area or in an unsafe place like the water or in the street. With the distraction, you may find that your child has a few more tantrums before he/ she seems ready to move on. I used to carry a few toys in my purse or backpack that I could pull out and use in these moments. If you are willing a movie or tv show can be a great distraction on the plane.
  2. Giving your child a few minutes on his/her own to calm down and process the moment. I personally find that timeouts are not effective when we are in a strange place. An alternative is to use time in. Time in is which is when you go with your child when he/she is taking a break away from the activity where the tantrum occurred.
  3. Letting the tantrum happen and then offering comfort when it is done. This can be referred to as offering connection. Children will often tantrum when they feel that their connection with a loved one has been affected.

As with all things related to children, you will find that some strategies work really well for one child and not well for another child. With time and patience, you will discover what works best for your child. I wish you all the best traveling with your child!

Sensory Play: Let them Smell, Touch, Hear, Taste and See

Sensory Play: Let them Smell, Touch, Hear, Taste and See

There are a number of sensory play ideas that can be found on Pinterest or by following a number of different Facebook pages/groups. What is the big deal and really who has time for this???

When our little man was an infant or toddler, I often beat myself thinking I did not prepare enough activity for him. The fact is kids can have fun and enjoy a variety of different experiences without much work from you. Sensory-based activities are the smells, sounds, touch, taste, and sites your child is exposed to.

Sensory activities do not have to be elaborate. Children benefit from changes in the sensory input and output that they are getting. These activities can reduce boredom, calm children, or rev them up. You will soon discover what results your child will get from certain activities.

 

Here are some fun and easy ideas..

 
1. Making a fort

Throw a blanket over a chair or table and let your child explore.

2. Throw down a tunnel

You can get a collapsible tunnel that you let your little one explore through. For added fun, you can attach it to a fort.

3. Make your own ball pit

Throw a bunch of plastic balls in an indoor tent, blow up wading pool or large plastic container.

4. Climbing in and out of containers

If you have some empty containers your child can climb in to let him. There were many of times I would turn away for a moment and look back to see that our young man was sitting in the container of toys.

5. A bowl of ice cubes or snow

Let your child play with ice cubes or snow. You can give them a truck or some cars to drive through the ice or snow. You can offer mittens for them to use while playing.

6. Baking

Let’s be real! Baking for little ones is all about eating what you are trying to bake with. This is a great chance for them to learn how different things taste and a great opportunity to learn how to properly test food.

7. Water Play

Fill up the sink and let them play. I would throw a towel on the floor so I would not have to worry about a wet floor. This would (and still occupies) our young man when I was trying to cook or clean up the kitchen. He wanted to be involved so I would throw plastic containers and plates in the sink to be “washed”. Now at 6, he can legitimately wash dishes!

You can also add a number of items to the water to make it a different experience. A favourite in the Toddler Room I worked in was a plastic doll the children could wash. A favourite here was when we would throw in some plastic dinosaurs.

8. Goop

This is when you add 2 parts of cornstarch to one part water. Be prepared to have a fun experience!! When you touch it, it seems hard but when you pick it up it melts 🙂

I love Goop but this was not something our little man enjoyed.

9. Smelling Spices

It is just as easy as it sounds! Let your child smell different spices. If you are up for it let your child taste the different spices as well, Get your camera ready as there may be some weird expressions!!

10. Building with cans

I would put some cans on the carpeted floor and let him build with them. I would show him how to do it and then he would get creative. This did not always keep his attention for long but it changed his mood (and mine for the matter).

11. Make music!

Pots and pans are awesome for this. I would bring out a bunch of pots and wooden spoons and let him hit them. to reduce how loud things would get I would put a dishcloth inside the pot to reduce the noise.

 

These examples were very basic. You can get way more elaborate but at the end of the day if your child is happy or at least had a few happy moments your job is done for the day!!

 

The video below is a video I did to explain how to make sensory bins. It will help you establish your own bins that can help meet your child’s sensory needs. 

 

 

 

7 Tips to Improve Your Child’s Sleep Tonight

7 Tips to Improve Your Child’s Sleep Tonight

#Repost

During my practice as a sleep professional, I’ve gotten used to people asking me what the secret is to getting a baby to sleep through the night.

Of course, there is no ONE secret. Teaching a child healthy sleep habits is a combination of lots of different things.

But that doesn’t mean that there are not some shortcuts!  Today I’d like to share with you 7 different shortcuts you can start trying over the next few nights to get your child sleeping better.

Here we go:

Sleep Shortcut #1: Watch the waking hours

One of the BIGGEST enemies of sleep is overtiredness. Many parents are surprised to learn just how soon their children get overtired. Here’s a quick guide to how long your child should be awake between naps during the day:

  • Newborn to 3 months: 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes of awake time
  • 3-5 months: 1.5-2 hours of awake time
  • 6-8 months: 2-3 hours of awake time
  • 9-12 months: 3-4 hours of awake time13 months to 2.5 years: 5-6 hours of awake time

If you make sure that your child is put down for naps BEFORE they get overtired, you will find that they fall asleep more easily at naptime AND that they are more relaxed at bedtime, too.

Sleep Shortcut #2: Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

We humans (babies and toddlers included) sleep better in the dark. Try making your child’s room as dark as possible. I recommend using blackout blinds, taping cardboard over the windows, or whatever it takes. In many cases, even the glow from a nightlight or a digital alarm clock can be enough to disrupt your child’s sleep cycle.

BONUS TIP: Try to keep your child’s room as dark as possible during daytime naps, too. This can often make a BIG difference in how long your child will nap during the day.

Sleep Shortcut #3: Be Predictable (And A Little Boring)

Babies and toddlers love predictable routines. And a predictable bedtime routine, lasting no longer than 45 minutes, is a great way to let your child know when the time for sleep is coming. Make sure that this routine is the same every single time. Remember, you want bedtime to be as predictable as possible for your child.

After your bedtime routine is complete, be boring. Lots of children will try to drag out bedtime by playing games, throwing toys out of the crib, standing up, etc. Don’t participate. If your child has thrown their blanket or favorite stuffed toy out of the crib, calmly return the item without saying a word.

Sleep Shortcut #4: Feed AFTER Naps, Not Before

The most common reason they infants and toddlers struggle to sleep has to do with a feeding-sleep association. They think that they need a bottle or nursing BEFORE they can fall asleep. By feeding right after nap-time instead of before you can help your child break this feeding-sleep association.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This strategy should only be used before naps, not before putting your child to bed for the night. A full tummy is needed to make sure your child does not wake up hungry during the night.

Sleep Shortcut #5: Same Place, Same Time

Remembering that our children love predictability, so it is a good idea to have your child sleep in the same place every day. For many parents, simply changing WHERE their child naps during the day causes a big improvement in the length and quality of nighttime sleep.

BONUS TIP: When you are putting your child to sleep for the night, it is a good idea to make sure that they fall asleep where you want them to stay asleep.

Sleep Shortcut #6: Try The 1, 2, 3 System

When your child wakes up during the night or during a nap and starts crying or fussing, try to wait a specific length of time before going in to check on them. The first day you try this, I recommend waiting exactly one minute before going in to check on your child. On the second day, wait two minutes. Three minutes on the third day, and so on. Why?

Why? Everyone, babies and toddlers included, will wake up briefly at the end of each 45-minute sleep cycle. Most adults wake so briefly that we do not even remember it in the morning. But children who have not learned to fall asleep independently need a little longer.

This 1, 2, 3 System gives your child the opportunity to get themselves back to sleep without your help.

Sleep Shortcut #7: Take Five

Before you put your child to bed, for naps or at nighttime, make sure the five-minute period before they are put to bed is very calm and relaxing.

The Next Step?

As I said, these are shortcuts and quick tricks that may help some parents get their children sleeping through the night.  I do hope that you will be one of the lucky parents who are able to solve their children’s sleep problems using one of these tricks. If not I am also here for you if you need a little more guidance. Feel free to book a 15-minute free call to discuss your child’s sleep issues and how I can help.

How to Talk to a Toddler…

How to Talk to a Toddler…

 

Toddlers are wonderful little humans that are learning their way in the world.

I get a number of messages from parents asking how to handle their toddler (and/or preschooler’s) behaviour. Toddlers can be very difficult to parent; however, it is important to remember that they may be acting out because they are going through a difficult moment. There are a number of things you can do to reduce the number of “moments” your child is having. I have found that once you learn to communicate in an effective way that toddlers understand, life gets much smoother.

 

The following are some tips that have proven to be very helpful…

 

1. Reduce the number of times your toddler says “NO”.

When toddlers are given the chance to say “NO” they will use it! To avoid “no” responses try to avoid questions with a yes/no answer. For example: Instead of asking “would you like to go to the bathroom?” try stating “it is time to go to the bathroom”.

2. Offer choices that give the desired outcome.

When you let your toddler know that it is time to do something they may resist. Then you add some choices that give you the desired outcome. For example: When you let your child know it is time to go to the bathroom you could add “would you like to hop or run there”. Here are some other choices that were very commonly used in our house during the toddler stage:

  • you can walk forward or backward
  • you can hop like a bunny or leap like a frog
  • you can use a quiet voice or a loud voice
  • you can walk or I can carry you
  • you can be happy or sad
3. Toddlers are very concrete thinkers.

This means that toddlers think in the literal sense. You can use this to your advantage. When your child is running away and you ask your toddler to “Stop” and they do not. Try stating “Freeze your feet” or “stop your feet”. Then instead of “Come Here” try “please bring your feet to my feet”. Some other great examples of literal statements are as follows:

  • feet on the floor
  • bums on the chair
  • gentle hands
  • kind and friendly words
4. They have not yet developed the ability to categorize items.

Children will start to be able to categorize items between 5 to 6 years of age.

Toddlers can get confused or frustrated when you use a category of an item. For example: when I asked our son to go get his shoes.  He got to the spot where his shoes were and there are only flip flops there. He was very upset. “Mommy no shoes!”

I have spoken to many families that get very frustrated by this. When I point out it is because toddlers are very concrete it causes less stress in the home. Things to remember with this is that we can easily tell the difference between various sweaters but to Toddlers, a hoody is not a sweater. A fleece is a fleece and not a sweater. This all goes back to the fact that Toddlers think in the literal sense.

5. Last but most important, keep it short and to the point!

As an adult, we can drone on about a topic. This is a sure way to lose a child. Do not get me wrong, children love hearing about things they are interested in. Where you lose them is when you go on and on about how they should be doing something.

State what you would like them to do, then give them an opportunity to do it. If they are still not following through then this leads to the topic of dealing with a child’s behaviour.

 

If you would like more support on how to talk so your toddler can listen, you and click on the work with me tab above and choose the option that suits you.

 

As Always, Be the Parent You Want to Be!!

 

 

Lessons I Learned from Dad

Lessons I Learned from Dad

This post was originally titled “The best gifts I received…” and was written weeks after I lost my dad in December 2018. I feel that this needs a title change to be repurposed to celebrate Father’s Day. I hope you enjoy it as much as I loved writing it. I still remember the tears streaming down my face as I wrote it and it is having the same effect today.

Take the time to celebrate the Fathers that were or are in your life.

Original post as follows…..

This time of year can be very difficult when you have lost a loved one. Recently, my father passed away. Going into the holiday season I am choosing to look at the gifts he gave me. It is my sincere desire to pass these gifts on to our children as well.

My father was a very kind-hearted, caring, and funny man. As we were preparing to lay him to rest, I had the opportunity to reflect on all the “gifts” I received from him.

 

1. “Do Your Best”

In school, I struggled academically at times. My dad would ask “did you do your best?”. If I answered “yes” or if he saw me try hard he would focus on that.

I was never ashamed to bring home my report card. He would praise me for my hard work, effort, and honesty. The fact I got a 52 was an amazing accomplishment for me in grade 10 English. My friends may or may not have used erasable ink to change the marks on their report cards. They would hand me the pen and I would decline. I knew that my dad would be proud!

I did my best. He did not compare me to anyone else. He knew what was an accomplishment for me and he praised me for that.

 

2. “No matter what”

Ever since I was a little girl, my dad would let me know that no matter what was going on he would be there for me. I knew that no matter what was going on in my life my dad would be there to listen or cheer me up.

Mistakes were made. I had some hard times but my dad’s love was always there. He received a number of calls early in the morning or late at night.

I certainly hope our little man feels that I will be there for him no matter what!!

 

3. Serve others

Our dad taught us the importance of serving others when we were very young. He taught us by leading a life where he served others.

My dad was a military veteran that proudly served his country for 28 years. When he was not working you would often find him volunteering in the community somewhere or helping out a friend or family member.

A good example of my dad helping others was when he climbed a ladder to help with building a roof on my cousin’s house. He did not leave the ladder but he did what he could from there. What some people did not know was that my father was deeply afraid of heights but he climbed that ladder and helped out where he could. Another example is when my dad chased a recruit into the ocean to prevent him from hurting himself even though my dad was afraid of the water.

During the visitation at the funeral home, many people shared stories of the things my dad did to help others. My dad loved to serve others and has taught all of his children the importance of helping others and doing onto to others what you would like done onto you.

 

4. “Make the best of it”

There are times when it can be really hard to find the positives in some situations but this is one of the best gifts my dad taught me and my siblings. No matter how crappy things got my dad would find the positive in that situation.

My brother summed this point up well when he wrote the following about a lesson our dad taught him…

“..there will always be times of stress and frustration but you must always keep a positive attitude, a good sense of humor and everything else will take care of itself”

I have many memories of my dad talking me through the tough times. He would say “keep your chin up”! No matter what happened I knew that I would be able to persevere through it as I kept my chin up and powered through it.

 

So as we approach this holiday season please take the time to reflect on the gifts you have already received and the gifts you would like to pass on to your child(ren). Yes, I have every reason to be sad and upset; however, I am choosing to reflect on the gifts I have received!

Take care and as always, Be the Parent you want to be!!

Happy Father’s Day!!!!