Helping Your Toddler Understand Time- Less than $20 DIY Resource for Parents

Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash

 

Hey Parents,

Did you ever notice that the concept of time is really tough for kids to understand– all the way from birth up until they are like 7 or 8?

It’s a real problem, because we use time to manage everything in our lives! When to wake up, when to go to daycare or the babysitter’s, when to the store, when to eat, when to nap, when we come home from work, when to celebrate holidays, when to go to parties, when to take a bath, when to go to bed….

And through all this, our poor children don’t even know what we’re talking about when we say, “We will get to have bath time at 7 o’clock. Please wait til then.” The closest thing they have to rely on is the ol’ routine- like, we usually have bath after play time and before bed time. Don’t get me wrong- it’s better than nothing.

But then what happens on that one day when the routine is all screwed up?

You know, when someone has to work later than usual, or family comes into town, or you have a doctor’s appointment during snack time?? The poor child just doesn’t understand it, and they’re left to struggle along as we get the things done that are necessary.

 

Case in point-

I was feeling so sad for my poor daughter the other day. She was getting so frustrated because she couldn’t understand why it wasn’t time to eat dinner. Having a family dinner is very important to us, so I was hoping she would wait a few minutes for my husband to get home from work. But some unexpected projects came up at work so he had to stay later than usual.

My daughter also seems to be fighting bedtime lately- wanting to stay up for one more story, or one more sip of water, or she has to go potty again and again… I’m sure she just wants to be with us a little more and have more fun. But I need her to sleep for my own sanity, and I know that she needs the sleep to be the happy little girl that I know she is.

 

I did what every mom does- I complained to my friends about our problems. My awesome sister-in-law Monica (an amazing mother of four who I really look up to) gave me the best idea!

She said that she had heard of a tool that you can make at home, DIY, for less than $20 that will help children better understand time.

Ummm…. YES PLEASE!!!

I took her suggestions and added my own twists. I call it our “Routine Clock.”

I’m focusing on two parts of our daily routine- eating times (snacks and meals) and sleeping times (nap and bedtime) by marking those events on the face of an analog clock for my child to see.

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Do you have any great ideas on how to improve this “Routine Clock”? Tell us about it! Comment below!

Step 1: Gather materials.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A cheap analog clock

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  • Sharpies

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  • Scissors

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  • A screwdriver

  • Stickers, paint, or any other fun decorations your child might like!

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  • Not required… But there were tiny screws that are easy to lose, so my husband’s magnetic tool tray might have come in handy. I wish I had thought of it beforehand.

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Step 2: Remove the minute hand (or at least mark the hour hand).

The overall goal with this clock is that my child can watch the hour hand approach a marked time for a snack or a meal or nap time to visualize when those events are getting closer.

The problem is that the minute hand crosses each of the marked time slots every hour of the day, while the hour hand only crosses them once per day (once per day during the hours that my child is awake anyways…). So I really want my child to watch the hour hand, not the minute hand.

By removing the minute hand or at least marking the hour hand, my child knows which one to keep an eye on.

You’ll have to remove the clock face for this step. It was super easy to do- just take out the screws on the back of the clock.

The minute and second hands were easy to cut with scissors. I did leave a small bit of each hand so that I could set the time on the clock.

If you would rather not cut the minute hand, just mark the hour hand with a sticker or by painting it or using a sharpie to change its color. This will help it stand out so that your child knows to watch the hour hand.

Step 3: Use a sharpie to mark the times of various daily activities on the face of the clock.

Replace the face of the clock. Again- so easy, just screw the face back on.

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I tried light-colored sharpies so that my child could still see the numbers under my markings. As my child practices with the clock, I would like to start teaching her how the numbers correspond with the time, which corresponds with our daily activities. I really didn’t want to cover up the numbers with dark colors.

I found that the light green and yellow sharpies were too light. You could hardly see the color. But the pink and darker green were perfect!

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****Idea- One limitation of this clock is that it still only works to help my child understand the daily routine, not to prepare for curve balls that life throws when the routine is thrown off.

If you want the clock to change based on what your plans are for the day, don’t use sharpies. Try using dry erase markers so that you can add different tasks or activities based on what new things are going on for the day! Then just erase it at the end of the day so that you can put the next day’s tasks on the clock!

 

For my purposes, I color coded the clock using green and pink. Pink marks are for meals and snacks. Green marks are for naps and bedtime.

My child usually goes to sleep at 7pm and wakes up at 7am, so I marked from 7 to 7:15 in green to mark bedtime/wake up time. Her nap is around 1-3, so those times are marked in green.

Breakfast is between 7:15-8, lunch is between 12-12:45, dinner is between 5-6, and snacks are from 10-10:30am and 3-3:30pm. Those times are all blocked out in pink.

I chose to mark out a whole range of time when we generally eat or sleep. I am hoping having the entire time marked will allow some flexibility, rather than only marking a specific time when we must start eating or sleeping.

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Step 4: Decorate it!

I have not been blessed with a talent for drawing, especially on a curved surface like the face of a clock, so it was surprisingly difficult to make my clock look cute! In the end, I decided I’d better go simple. I outlined each different task in black sharpie to make them nice and defined, added a boarder, and called it good.

But let’s be real- kids aren’t judgmental. They love you no matter what, and they’re excited about new things with pretty colors. So I had nothing to worry about.

If my little one were a little older, I would probably invite her to decorate it herself, but right now I know she would only scribble on it. 😊

Oh, and I also added labels on each routine so that my awesome husband knows what’s coming up next. He always wants to help but doesn’t always know how. Win Win!

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Step 5: Set the time.

Just follow the directions on the package!

Step 6: Put your new tool to work!

Well, we completed our clock about a week ago.

My daughter is catching on fast. I make sure to show her the clock each time a snack, meal, nap, or bedtime comes up. She is starting to point to it all on her own when we are getting close to one of those times in our day.

I chose not to hang it on the wall. Rather, I keep it on the counter. When a meal or nap is coming up, I hand it to my daughter (she loves to hold it) point to the color coming up. I ask her, “Do you know what’s going to happen soon?” or “Do you know what’s coming up next?”

Then we talk about it and I give her a 5-minute opportunity to finish up whatever she’s doing before it’s time to transition.

I have noticed frustration levels for both me and my child decreasing every day! It’s so nice to have a simple way to help her look forward to what’s coming up next in her routine.

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Did you try out this “Routines Clock”? How did it go?? Comment below!

Do you have any great ideas on how to make these clocks better? Tell us about it! Comment below!

 

I hope this resource helps some cute kids out there!

And parents, as always, keep up the good work!

(As a total side note, I recently learned about another amazing tool to help children with time! This one is a clock that lights up green when it is “wake up time.” If the child wakes up too early, the light is off so he knows to keep resting or engage in a quiet activity until the light turns green signaling that he can begin his day! AMAZING!)

Click on the image below!

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

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The Most Important Word in the English Language (For Parents)- Remember

Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

 

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Parenting is a lot of work, and every once and a while, you start to really feel it.

Each of a child’s stages of growth are hard in their own way for the parents. Each one has something that we don’t look forward to. Dirty diapers, sleepless nights, helping with homework, when our kids start dating… No wonder our hair turns grey.

But each stage also has so many wonderful things! Things to look forward to before the stage comes and things to look back on fondly after that stage ends.

I’ve heard that one of the most important words in the English language is “remember.”

I want to take a minute to remember all the great things from each stage of my kids’ lives- and look forward to the fun things coming up for our family as well!

 

Comment below- What is your favorite stage and why? What is your favorite memory from daily life with your kids?

 

  • Babies:

Yes, there are poopy diapers, sleepless nights, and little extra time and energy for yourself.

Enjoy this great resource on getting through the tough parts of the baby stage! Click the image below!

But, here are just a few of the great things about the baby stage:

-Remember wondering- what will they look like? When will they be born? What will their personality be like?

-Remember how they fit in your arm?

-Remember how they liked to be held tight?

-Remember the one-on-one time in the middle of the night? Just you and your baby?

-Remember how they changed your life?

-Remember when they were too big for their tiny clothes?

-Remember when they started saying mama or dada?

-Remember how excited you were for every new skill they learned? Using their hands, eating food, sitting up, standing, walking, talking?

-Remember how they smiled at you every time you walked in the room?

-Remember how they put their arms up for you to hold them?

-Remember how peaceful and cozy they looked when they were sleeping?

-Remember when they fell asleep on your chest?

 

  • Toddlers:

Yes, there is potty training, tantrums, and lots of messes day to day.

Enjoy this resource to help you through the tough parts of the toddler stage! Click the image below.

But there are also wonderful things about the toddler stage. Here are just a few of the amazing things about toddlers:

-Remember how interested they were in the world around them?

-Remember how silly they were?

-Remember when they played peekaboo with you every chance they got? Under the table, behind the couch, behind books?

-Remember how they got so excited to see you when you came home?

-Remember how they got too big to cradle, so you had to hug them upright instead?

-Remember how proud they were of their accomplishments? The first time they went potty on the toilet, picking up their toys, making you laugh?

-Remember when people would stop you in the store to tell you how cute and precious your child was?

-Remember how they would snuggle into you when they were nervous about a stranger in the store who wanted to talk to them?

-Remember how they loved to help you with everything you were doing? Laundry, dishes, sweeping the floor… Even though it wasn’t always super helpful?

-Remember when they got excited about everything you were excited about, even if they didn’t really understand why you were excited?

-Remember how happy they were all the time?

 

  • Childhood:

Yes, there are lots of late nights doing homework, striving to teach all kinds of life skills (money, responsibility, honesty, taking care their things, basic cooking, and so much more!), and coaching through social problems between friends and siblings.

Click the image below for a great resource to help through this stage!

But there are countless fun and exciting things unique to childhood, such as:

-Remember their first friends?

-Remember when they went to school for the first time? They were excited and scared. You had to let them go.

-Remember when they started understanding jokes? And they were so excited to tell them to you, even if you’d heard them a thousand times?

-Remember watching them get independent? Capable of helping themselves instead of needing you to do everything for them?

-Remember when they started being helpful around the house? Capable of cleaning up after themselves, setting the table, unloading the dishwasher….

-Remember when they worked hard to earn something they wanted? They were so happy when they got it, but that was nothing compared to how proud you were of their hard work.

-Remember when they were disappointed? You would have done anything to fix it for them. But you couldn’t, and you knew that they would learn something, but it still hurt both of you.

-Remember when they started reading and opened up a whole new world of possibilities for themselves? All the sudden, they are reading billboards, TV commercials, shopping lists, everything they can get their hands on!

-Remember when they started writing their own name? And then you had to worry that random objects would be labeled with your child’s name?

-Remember when they learned to imagine? They started coming up with their own stories, with their own plot twists, settings, characters, all the elements of a great tale.

-Remember when they wanted you to play with them?

-Remember when they wanted to be cool, but they didn’t really know how? All they needed to be cool was a dollar store pair of sunglasses or a Spiderman back pack.

  • Teenagers:

Yes, you’ll have to deal with your child dating, high emotions and hormones, miscommunications or refusal on the child’s part to communicate with you. Often this stage comes with defiance and frustration with rules as the child tries to become their own person and learn who they are.

Here’s a wonderful help to teen troubles. Click the image below!

But teens have great qualities that younger kids don’t have yet!

-Remember when they were old enough to really talk to? Like, really talk to?

-Remember when they liked to play pranks?

-Remember when they first thought about morals? Remember when they came up with their own opinions on moral topics?

-Remember when they disagreed with you, and they actually had good arguments to back up their position?

-Remember seeing them become who they wanted to be?

-Remember when they chose hobbies and interests? Remember how hard they worked to be good at it?

-Remember when they were so proud of their accomplishments?

-Remember when they learned to drive? A whole door was opened to them. Remember how much they loved their first car, even if it was an old beater?

-Remember when they opened up to you and told you how they were feeling, even if it was few and far between?

-Remember when they cried on your shoulder over a break up, and you were secretly so glad that relationship was over?

-Remember when you hoped and prayed that they would come home safely every night? And you stayed up late just to make sure?

-Remember how you loved them even when they were difficult?

And through all stages, no matter how big or how small your child was, remember hoping that they would never get bigger? Hoping it would never end? Hoping they would stay your baby forever?

Well, they do get bigger, and it is sad for us parents. But they are our babies forever. No matter what.

But that doesn’t mean we will miss the way they used to be. Parents will always look back on childhood and miss how our little ones once were.

It’s ok, they can get bigger and move on to be adults. They’ll accomplish great things and raise sweet children of their own. We can handle that, as long as we can remember how they used to be.

 

For those of us who are still in it, let’s soak them up! Treasure your babies while they are babies.

For those of you whose children are already grown, enjoy the memories and share your advice for the rest of us!

Comment below what gems of knowledge you want us all to have!

 

Love all you moms and dads! Keep up the hard work, and don’t forget to remember!

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

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Mamma’s Turkey Tips for Beginners (Like Me)

Photo by Cayla1 on Unsplash

 

My mom is one of those people who make amazing turkey every year for Thanksgiving.

Whenever we have potluck Thanksgiving dinners, she’s always asked to cook the turkey. Year after year. Turkey after turkey.

And it’s always so delicious! Her turkeys are moist inside, and yet crispy on the edges.

I looked forward to her turkey every Thanksgiving…. Until I got married and moved off to Idaho. I couldn’t always get home for Thanksgiving. I was faced with a real dilemma- How in the heck am I supposed to cook a turkey for my own Thanksgiving dinner??

It’s not like you can have Thanksgiving without a turkey!!

But I quickly figured out that my mom made it look much easier than it really is. My first turkey got burnt on the outside but was not fully cooked inside. My second turkey was cooked at least, but it was as dry… Like nasty wannabe jerky. Yuck.

So I finally swallowed my pride and asked my mom for help. Thanksgiving 2018 is gonna be better!!!

I told her that nobody made turkey like her and I needed some help.

Do you know what she said???

Nothing!

She just laughed!!

Yep, laughed- because her turkeys are SOOOO easy. In her loving words, “Maybe you should have your kids help you get it done right!”

Here’s what she told me, and a step by step view of how my first attempt went:

  • Buy the cheapest, fattest turkey you can find, a turkey bag, and a turkey pan.

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One shopping trip, everything you need. Done and done!

Oh well, you’ll also need butter, garlic salt, onion powder, and pepper. Make sure you grab those things too if you don’t have them at home!

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  • Defrost the turkey.

Most turkeys come with directions on how to defrost.

My mom recommended putting the turkey in the fridge for up to 3 days to ensure that it thaws completely or putting the turkey in a cold water bath for several hours before cooking.

In my case, I put the turkey in my sink with cold water in the morning the day before Thanksgiving. (Always clean out the sink well before putting the turkey in there!)

It took most of the day for the turkey to defrost. Then I put the turkey in the fridge overnight and it was all ready to cook Thanksgiving Day!

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  • Preheat the oven.

Just follow the directions on the package! My turkey cooked at 325 degrees.

  • Rinse the bird, removing the extras inside.

Usually there are things like the turkey neck, the heart, and the gizzard (what is that anyways??) inside the hallow of the turkey. Remove those before cooking.

My turkey had a turkey neck and a package of turkey drippings.

 

Well… at least that’s what I thought until after I cooked the turkey.

Once we cut open the turkey and started removing the meat, I found the other extras hidden inside the turkey. Just like my mom said they would be. Woops.

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  • Place the turkey bag in the disposable turkey pan, then put the bird in the bag, leaving the bag open.

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You’re all set to season the bird!

  • Sprinkle garlic salt, onion powder, and pepper generously on all surfaces of the turkey, turning the bird as you go to reach all areas.

This will add delicious flavor to the exterior of your turkey.

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My mom said the she even seasons inside the hallow of the bird sometimes! I didn’t worry about that this year. I’m just a beginner after all.

I tried to use one hand to turn the bird (not easy!) because I didn’t want to stop to wash my hands several times before touching my seasonings. Nobody wants raw turkey juices on their cooking stuff! It didn’t always work, so I did have to wash my hands a few times during this process.

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I did run into one hiccup. The first seasoning I applied to the turkey (onion powder) stuck to the turkey because the bird was moist. But the second seasoning I applied (garlic salt) didn’t stick because the onion powder was already covering the bird. I added butter flavored cooking spray to help the other seasonings stick.

 

  • Add big chunks of butter all over the top of the turkey.

Be generous- Just like Paula Deen!

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  • Tie the bag shut and place the turkey in the oven.

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I needed to adjust my racks to make the turkey fit. Make sure the plastic turkey bag does not directly touch the top or sides of the oven.

 

I will always choose a turkey with an internal thermometer that lets me know when the turkey is done cooking. That was my saving grace! I would be totally lost without that little red thermometer.

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My mom took it to the next level! She told me to turn the turkey so that the thermometer is facing the front. This makes it easy to see when your bird is done. Why didn’t I think of that??

  • Use the turkey package to determine how long the bird should cook.

My turkey was about 14 pounds. The package estimated it would take 3.5 to 4 hours to cook.

Another bit of clever ingenuity from my mom- check the bird a little earlier than the package recommends. Keep checking the bird every 15 minutes as it gets closer to the recommended time. This will ensure that the bird doesn’t stay in the oven for any extra time- which could cause it to dry out.

This tip saved me this year!

Kick back and relax because this takes a while. Or you know, slave over the rest of your Thanksgiving meal… Whatever applies to your situation. 😊

Watch for the red turkey thermometer to pop out. You’re almost done!

My turkey went into the oven at 8:20am, so I planned to start checking it at 11:20am. That’s 30 minutes sooner than the package recommended.

By some strange luck and due to my own impatience, I started checking my turkey at 10:30am instead of 11:20.

To my surprise, the turkey looked almost done!

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By 10:40, the thermometer popped and the turkey was done! That’s only 2 hours and 20 minutes of cooking time!

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Come to find out, the package on the turkey and the package on the turkey bag had different cooking instructions. The turkey bag instructions were more accurate. That’s weird…. Watch out for that when you cook this year!

  • Once the thermometer pops, cut open the top of your turkey bag.

If your turkey needs more color, allow the turkey to cook for another 15 minutes or so to brown the top of the turkey. This also helps the outside of your turkey get nice and crispy!
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It looks great and tastes delicious!

Your turkey will be a show stopper at your next Thanksgiving party!

My family loved the turkey! They ate the entire thing, down to the bones. Thanks mom!!!

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Fun tip from my mom- The turkey drippings are all contained inside your turkey bag. It makes excellent turkey gravy for your Thanksgiving mashed potatoes! All you have to do is strain the turkey drippings and add a roux (flour mixed with water or butter). Bring it up to a rolling boil and you’re done! Delicious, homemade gravy! Wow, I’m starting to think my mom knows everything.

I hope my genius mom’s tips simplify your turkey-cooking this year!

It really saved my Thanksgiving!

Cheers to people who are smarter than me who share their wisdom!!!!

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

 

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When Life Is On A Parent’s Side- Taking Advantage of Natural Consequences

Photo by Will Truettner on Unsplash

Please comment below- When have you used natural consequences to teach your kids?

 

Life is tough and unforgiving… But every once and a while, the stars align and Karma comes through for you!

Every once and a while, life does the parenting for me!

What are Natural Consequences?

Natural consequences are life’s way of teaching.

Basically, every time we act, there are good and bad ripple effects of what we do. If there are more good than bad ripples, we consider that action to be a good thing and we continue that behavior. If there are more bad ripples than good, that behavior is a negative one and we stop behaving that way.

There’s no teacher to plan out and enforce the rules, they just happen. We just learn from the good and bad effects of our actions without someone to control the outcome.

Parents have a goal in mind to help their children become the best people they can be- people who will choose to send good waves into the world through their actions.

That’s why we correct our children when they act out. That’s why we try to teach them skills that they will need- like being responsible, being kind, building strong relationships with people around them, managing money and time effectively, and being a good citizen.

In order to encourage our children to act the in an appropriate and responsible way (so that they can become what we want them to become), we often set up our own rules, along with consequences for breaking those rules.

The awesome thing is that we don’t always have to set up rules and consequences. Sometimes life does it for us!

One Parent Who Had Life (And a Wise Dentist) on Her Side

A while back, I had a client with special needs who struggled to brush his teeth. He didn’t like doing it, he hated that his mom was always asking him to do it.

In desperation, this good mom tried many different techniques to encourage him to brush his teeth every day. She tried sticker charts, she tried various apps designed to help kids with self-help skills, she tried hand-over-hand, she tried being silly and making it fun, she tried immediate rewards after each time he brushed… She tried everything she could think of.

Most of the time, when she implemented a new strategy the child would comply for a day or two and then relapse. He was just as frustrated with the situation as his mom was.

And then one day, I came to visit the family. I checked up with his mom to see how he had been doing with brushing his teeth.

All she said was, “Watch this.” She sent him to the bathroom, asked him to brush, and stood back while he cleaned his teeth completely independently. No help, no bribing, no encouragement, no plan. He just did it.

I couldn’t believe it!

When I asked what changed, she explained that he had a dental appointment. It had been at least a few days since he had brushed when he went to visit the dentist. His mom spoke to the dentist privately and filled the dentist in on the problems they were having.

So this wise dentist had a one-on-one chat with the child. He didn’t try any grand plan or implement rewards or consequences. All he did was explain to the child what would naturally happen to his teeth if he did not brush.

Now, this good mom had briefly explained it to the child- usually saying something like, “Your teeth won’t be healthy” or “Your teeth are dirty.”

But the dentist did much more- He showed the child pictures of the stages of tooth decay. He showed the client how teeth turn yellow, then brown, then black, then fall out. He explained that it can hurt and can mean extra dental visits and procedures.

He didn’t try to exaggerate facts or scare the child into submission (if anything he was very careful to keep it G rated). He simply stated some of the bad things that would happen if this habit continued in a clear way, using visuals to help the child understand.

And that’s all it took.

That’s the power of natural consequences.

Now, every parent knows that there is no single strategy that will fix all your problems.

But give it a try! What if it’s exactly what you needed?

How to Use Natural Consequences

Here’s how to do it.

  • Step 1: Identify what the problem behavior is.

A while ago, my daughter started dumping out her juice onto the table every time we sat down to eat. She would wait until we weren’t looking because she assumed she would get in trouble. At first, I thought she was spilling on accident, so I asked her to help me clean it up and we moved on.

After a while, I started to catch on to the pattern, so I watched a little closer. Sure enough, she was pouring out her cup and watching the liquid spill out and run across the table. At first I was frustrated, but after trying to see things from her perspective, I realized that it probably did look pretty cool- like a waterfall or a stream. I love watching waterfalls.

I didn’t want to yell or put her down, but I did want her to learn that you can’t just pour out your water anywhere.

  • Step 2: Think of natural consequences to the problem behavior.

I tried to brainstorm all the possible consequences that I could implement. I considered not filling up her glass again after she spilt it… After all, if the drink is all gone, then it’s all gone! But I am very careful not to use natural consequences in a way that could at all endanger my child. In this case, I didn’t want her to get dehydrated or maybe choke on her food if she didn’t have a drink to wash it down with.

I also considered asking her to drink out of a sippy cup instead of a real glass. I know she would have hated that because sippy cups are for babies. I didn’t end up going with this solution for two reasons: 1- I didn’t want to shame my daughter or make her feel bad about herself and 2- this technically isn’t a natural consequence- it’s a consequence of my own invention.

After a lot of thinking, I had an idea.

  • Step 3: Decide on a safe consequence to implement. Allow the child to make the mistake in order to feel the natural consequence.

The next time she poured out her juice, I helped her clean it up but this time I refilled her glass with water instead of juice.

  • Step 4: Explain the consequence to the child so that they understand why it is happening.

When she asked for more juice, I told her that she already had her share of juice. I explained that if I gave her more juice, there wouldn’t be enough for the rest of the family to have some.

Then I calmly suggested that next time, it might be best if she decided to drink her juice instead of pour it on the table.  

And guess what? She never spilled intentionally again! (To the best of my knowledge… hahaha)

Every once and a while, when a child wants to try a behavior that I have discouraged repeatedly (and one that is safe!) I go ahead and let him try it out.

It doesn’t take long until he realizes that mom knew what she was talking about.

I once saw a video of a kid shooting himself in the nuts with a nurf gun. Yeah, that was pretty funny. I’m sure there was a natural consequence that taught him something that day. Not from his mom. From life and his real experiences. And I bet he learned it better than if mom had just told him about it, too.

Positives of Using Natural Consequences

  • It Makes Sense

Natural consequences are so easy for a parent to use because they are logical.

All you have to do is explain to your child the natural progression of events if their behavior continues. Think to yourself, “Why don’t I want my child to act this way?”

For example, I don’t want my child to be mean to other children because then she won’t have friends to play with. People won’t want to be around her if she is mean to them.

I don’t want my child to spend all her money because then she won’t have money left when she needs something.

I don’t want my child to skip homework assignments because she won’t master the material. If she doesn’t master the material, she will feel confused during later assignments that build on what she is learning now.

  • It’s Honest

Do you ever hear parents trying to exaggerate or scare the child into behaving?

I do understand the temptation to do that. It can be effective and that’s hard to argue with. The problem is eventually that child will find out the truth, and then you’ll have to face the fact that you lied to him.

Natural consequences aren’t lies.

They’re the honest to goodness result of a person’s actions.

Honest parents never have to worry about if the child has discovered their secrets. Honest parents never have to worry about if the child is hearing the truth from friends at school. Honest parents never have to worry about accidentally letting something slip. Honest parents can relax.

No hiding. No shame.

Natural consequences are a great way to do that, without losing efficacy.

  • It’s Not a Temporary Rule

Notice in all my examples above- the parent doesn’t have to contrive these scenarios.

It’s just how life is!

That’s what separates natural consequences from chore charts, and sticker rewards, and even praise- All those things take YOU to implement. That means, if you’re not there, a child might not keep up the behavior that you wanted.

But natural consequences are universal. They won’t end after the child leaves your side. He can go to school, he can hang out with friends, he can move out and leave for college, he can raise a family of his own- and through all this these principles still apply.

Not like that chore chart. That only applies as long as you are enforcing it.

Parents who use natural consequences are teaching a lifelong skill of understanding how a person’s actions affect yourself and others in the long run.

  • You don’t have to be the bad guy

This is the BEST!

You know how when you take away your teenager’s phone she curses your name and says that you are ruining her life?

You know when you tell your middle schooler to do his homework and he claims that his stupid teacher gives more homework than all the other teachers and there’s no good reason why he should have to do it?

You know how you try to get the kids to help clean the house and they treat you like a dictator?

My favorite part of natural consequences is that nobody can blame me!

I didn’t make the rules. That’s just life!

It’s really nice to have some of that parent blame taken away. I didn’t ask for this to happen. I didn’t make it so. I am just a kind person trying to help my child avoid some mistakes! And I finally get the credit as such. 😊

When NOT to Use Natural Consequences

Now that doesn’t mean this is a perfect fit for every situation. Like all parenting strategies, we have to be conscious of when to use natural consequences.

Here are a few situations when I avoid using natural consequences:

  • When a child is too young to understand

Natural consequences can be difficult for kids under age 4 to understand.

If you can shorten the logic to one or two sentences, maybe it could still be helpful on a 2-3 year old.

For example, I tell my daughter “You have to sit in the car seat because it keeps you safe.” At 2 years old, I’m not sure if she fully understands what I mean, so I usually pair this with another parenting hack.

For example, “You have to sit in the car seat because it keeps you safe. But the car seat makes you tall enough to see out the window! What animals can you see? I see a cow!”

  • When a child wants to do something unsafe or illegal

Sometimes, a child wants to try out something that isn’t safe, like not wearing a seat belt. Of course, we can verbally explain natural consequences to help him decide to buckle up, but we would never want to let a child actually experiment with unsafe actions just to learn the natural consequences for himself.

Same goes for unsafe sex, dressing inappropriately for weather, playing with knives, trying drugs, etc.

Sometimes the consequences are just not worth trying out. And a child’s safety is always most important! 

Give natural consequences a try, and let me know what you think!

Let life be the bad guy for once. Turns out, life is a pretty good teacher anyways!

Please comment below- When have you used natural consequences to teach your kids?

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

Please share with any parent who is trying to teach their kids!

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How To Survive a Tantrum in Public (Ages 3 and Up)

Photo by Thao Le Hoang on Unsplash

Please comment below- How do you help your child calm down in public?

 

It’s just another day running errands.

I’m juggling a shopping list the length of my forearm, a wiggly child who is constantly touching things, and a purse that must have an anvil in it, judging by the weight.

I’ve barely walked into the store when we walk by the toy aisle. (Why do they put the toy aisle right by the doors so we have to walk by it every time??)

And the rest is history.

You all know the story.

1-For my little one, it starts with pointing and jabbering on about the coolest (and always most expensive!!) toy.

2-Then, the heartfelt plea. (“Please, please, please, please!! It’s all I’ve ever wanted in my whole life!”- NOT TRUE. Haha)

3-Next come the promises. (“I’ll never ask for anything ever again!”- Let’s place bets on how long this will last. Anyone for 5 minutes? Anyone? Nobody? Yeah, me neither).

Of course, I’m trying to calmly and logically explain all the ins and outs of money, and how we have to work hard for it, and how we don’t have a lot of it, and how we don’t always get the things we want, and how sometimes we have to wait and work hard before we can buy things.

4-And then Fit Hits the Shan.

She clenches her fists, then her whole body tenses. She is so uptight that she starts shaking all over. She releases all that tension in one blood curdling scream, then she sobs and falls to the floor, crying. She refuses any help to calm down. If I try to pat her back reassuringly, she hits me. If I try to hug her, she pushes me away. If I try to hold her, she does the limp noodle thing.

Even though it’s the same old thing I deal with every day at home, it’s so much worse in a public place!!

EVERYONE is watching…. I can just imagine their thoughts right now.

  • “What a terrible mom.”
  • “Is she seriously going to allow her child to act like that??”
  • “Can’t she do something about this?”
  • “That child needs some discipline.”

So…. What am I supposed to do????

  • Minimize the Circus Show

My first step is always to find a quiet place to handle the problem. This puts me back in control my minimizing the embarrassment and getting me into a parenting mindset. 

Basically, the point here is that the attention from other customers makes me a little less suited for handling the situation because I’m distracted by my feelings of embarrassment. I’m not a good mom when I’m not focused on my child’s needs. But that’s not all! The attention from other customers can make your child feel overstimulated or encourage them to continue the battle for the battle’s sake.

So trying to fix a major tantrum right in the middle of all the chaos of a packed grocery store or restaurant just doesn’t usually work.

The more things are going on, the harder it is to focus.

Find a quiet place. That could be a bathroom in the store, it could be an empty section of the restaurant or an empty aisle, or it could mean walking back to your car for a break.

Sometimes it’s not possible to find a perfectly calm and peaceful location. In that case, go to the QUIET-EST place available to you… even if it’s not entirely silent. The point is to help you and the child focus on the problem and on a solution.

  • Listen to the Signs My Body is Giving

Your body mirrors the chaos that is going on around you. Your heart rate elevates, your blood pressure rises, your vagal tone increases, your breathing becomes more rapid. Watch for these signs in yourself because they keep you from feeling calm.

That’s why I always recommend the same calming techniques- count to 10 (this keeps you from reacting and gives you a chance to think), take deep breaths (slowing your breathing slows your heart rate), and take a break (allows you to focus on your body and take the time needed to control your physiological reactions).

Only when I have control of my own body can I be effective at helping my child.

I’ve found that these are great teaching moments too. If my little one sees me using deep breaths, she is more likely to try them herself. I can turn an unpleasant situation into a positive example for my daughter to learn from.

  • Don’t Give In!

Remember, your child is learning from each experience they have with you.

You don’t want them to learn that tantrums are effective ways to get something that they want in an inappropriate way. If a child learns that mom or dad will give in to their demands, the tantrums can be longer, louder, and more intense than they were before because it’s the fastest way the child knows to get something he wants.

No bueno.

Instead, model for your child how he or she can get what they want and need in a positive way. Remember that at the root of every tantrum is a legitimate need! The child is just trying to communicate with you. If you can help them do so in a positive way, then you’ll both benefit.

If you really feel the pressure to give in to a tantrum, think of something very easy that the child can do to earn what they want rather than just giving it to them. For example, let’s say the child wants a piece of candy, so he starts jumping up and down and yelling. Rather than just offering the candy (which would be rewarding them for having a tantrum), say “You can have a piece of candy if you ask nicely for one.” In this way, the child is being rewarded for asking for the candy rather than being rewarded for having a tantrum.

Don’t teach a bad lesson without meaning to. Be intentional in your response! 

  • Treat it Like Any Other Tantrum

All tantrums have the same rules.

1-Think from the child’s perspective to see if there is an easy solution. Maybe the child is hungry? We can fix that! Maybe the child is bored? We can have races or he can write on the shopping list or he can help me spot the next item I need- anything to make shopping fun! Are we shopping right before nap time? Maybe I can change my schedule around to go at a different time.

2-Be conscious of the opportunity to teach the child something with this experience. Remember the values you want to teach and find a way to incorporate that into this situation.

3-Don’t just react- be intentional in your parenting. Make sure you are calm and ready to handle the situation appropriately.

4-Follow through. Never give in to a tantrum. Rather, remind your child of an appropriate way that he or she can meet the need at the root of the tantrum. Help the child practice asking nicely or using effective communication.

Obviously, this all looks good on paper.

The application is another story.

The hardest step for me is to stop and think before I react to the situation.

I find myself thinking of better ways that I could have handled the tantrum after the fact.

But that’s ok because I find that I fail like 10 times in a row and then on the 11th time I remember. The only reason I remember is because I have thought 10 times of how I would like to handle the situation next time. All this repetition finally sticks in my head and the 11th time is successful.

So don’t get down- just keep preparing for next time until you remember.

  • Keep Trying!

There is one more step that I recommend to parents.

In all this, our overall goal is to help the child learn appropriate ways to cope with a situation that she doesn’t like– some sort of public activities like shopping or eating at a restaurant. Of course, we have to be patient and give the child as much time as they need to learn those skills. Nobody learns a new skill overnight.

But it’s important to keep trying to teach a little more whenever the child is able to handle it- and that means returning to the situation. Yep, I’m saying to please bring your child back to the store sometime. It doesn’t have to be in the same day, or the next day.

But keep trying! Give the child lots of heads up so that he knows what to expect, remind the child of different ways that she can cope with being in the store, and let her know that you’re on her side. Try to set yourself up for success by taking care of the little things- make sure she’s not tired or hungry or bored. Then give it another go! 

I like to empower children with a word or a sign that they are getting frustrated or overwhelmed. Then, we can take breaks from doing something they don’t like to do- and avoid a full blown tantrum. Even if the child cannot talk, this can be a great time to utilize infant signs, like “all done”.

Children get better and better with practice and patience. Don’t loose hope- you and your child will be better for your struggles! 

 

I hope these tools make you feel a little more prepared for your next day of running errands.

Keep up all your hard work as a parent and don’t fret about the small things.

Please comment below- How do you help your child calm down in public?

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

 

Share with any parent who has dealt with a tantrum in public!

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