Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Toddler Rules

The toddler rules of possession have been published on many social media sites in various forms (see above, left column).   They have me thinking: why do toddlers do what they do, and how can parents use that reasoning to help parent?

I firmly believe that young kids don't misbehave on purpose in most instances. They are exploring limitations, learning new things, and learning to work with others.  They don't have the coordination to avoid all spills and falls. They lack the understanding of natural consequences.  Rules of life haven't all been explained to them yet... and even if they have been explained, they are hard to understand!

If you've ever read any of the Junie B. Jones books, you will see that although the adults in her life are frustrated with her actions, Junie B. has a very innocent and well-intentioned reason behind every wrongdoing.  Parents just don't see it that way.  So how do we find the reasons behind the actions?  Kids can't express the "why" of their actions. They are often confused when they get in trouble, then act out even more in anger or frustration.

Toddlers are experiencing a rapid growth, both physically and emotionally. They learn new skills, become better coordinated, and are able to experience many new things.  They say "No!" often and can be very independent. This independence causes rifts between them and their parents, much like the growing independence of teenagers.  Teens and toddlers are very similar. Learning to break away from parents is natural at both of these life stages, and it is difficult for many at both times.

Some important points: 
  • New environment or toys encourage exploration, so give clear directions and set limits.
  • Tantrums can be from frustration. Try to figure out your child's intent and use that to help modify the tantrum. Sometimes a time out helps all involved calm down!
  • Tired, sick, and hungry trigger us all to be more irritable, impatient, and confused. Avoid these at all costs!
  • Change to routine throws toddlers off. Try to keep the same routine daily, and if it will vary, give kids a head's up in advance.
  • Kids crave atttention. Even negative attention (such as yelling at them) is attention. They will do what they need to get your attention, so try to fill them will praise and attention when being good and avoid attention when they are misbehaving (without allowing safety to suffer). Time Out is the perfect time to avoid talking to kids and physical contact with them.  
  • Fill them with confidence and praise when they're being good! It's sometimes hard to remember, but praise quiet voices, independent play, saying kind words, or other "good" behaviors.  You can praise with words, a hug, and more.
Even many adults have yet to learn about anger management, patience, sharing, and manners, so we must expect that toddlers and young kids have not mastered those skills.  You don't want your child to be one of those adults who never masters those skills, so model good behaviors and encourage/reward them in your kids!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Injuries from pacifiers, bottles and sippy cups?

Just last month I saw an article about a child who was nearly scalped by his sippy cup during a car accident. The article was about the dangers of projectile objects in the car.  (For the full article, see the link.)

Now an article is released in Pediatrics on the numbers of injuries associated with bottles, pacifiers, and sippy cups during the past nearly 20 years.  The authors studied ER visits after children under 3 years of age were injured by one of these items designed for infants through preschoolers.  They did not include children who went to their own doctor or whose injuries were more minor and did not require medical attention, but the numbers were much higher than expected.  Nearly 200 young children a month visit an ER for injuries due to one of these items.  Lacerations were the most common injuries, especially to the mouth.  Injuries occurred mostly from falling, not product malfunctions.  They were most common in the 1-2 year age group, when kids are starting to walk around (and run!)

Take home message: use these items wisely.
Pacifiers are a great soothing tool to help infants and young children fall to sleep.  Limit them to sleep.  When kids are up playing, they don't need them.   This has been my advice for years due to the fact that keeping the paci in the bed also decreases risk of infections and aides in getting rid of it at an earlier age.  Now I have another reason!
Bottles are an essential source of nutrition for most infants.  Feeding time is also a comfort time.  Infants should be held for all feedings initially, then older infants can be seated if they are not still held. They do not need to walk around with a bottle in their mouth ever!  Eating on the go is unhealthy for us all.  We should sit at the table and eat.  (This might also decrease choking, as kids running around with food in their mouth are more likely to choke than those seated at a table.)  Toddlers should learn this habit young as well.  Once they are a year of age they should transition away from a bottle. 
Sippy cups also do not need to be carried around throughout the day. I often see kids with drinks other than water being carried around much of the day.  They simply don't need to do this: it is bad for their teeth and it increases overall calorie intake, contributing to obesity. Toddlers and older children can be offered drinks with meals, while seated at the table.  If thirsty between meals, have them sit and relax with their drink.  That is a good habit for us all, but our on-the-go society easily helps us forget the basics. 
Our kids teach us many things about life.  Maybe we can learn from them with these simple rules.  We can all sit to enjoy our meals and snacks and stop eating on the run!  We'll be healthier in many ways!

Monday, May 7, 2012

March for Babies: Team Mighty Maxwell

Thunderstorms didn't keep us from walking in Sunday's March for Babies!

Why did we walk?  Every year thousands of babies are born too soon.  Dr. Ratliff and her husband's son, Max, is one of those babies.  He was born April 9, 2011, and at just over a year of age is still in the NICU.  He has grown from 1 pound 3 ounces to over 16 pounds, but his lungs are still immature and he requires a ventilator to breathe.

We want to support Max and the more than half a million babies who are born too early every year.

March of Dimes has their March for Babies every year to celebrate and remember the babies who are born too early, are sick, or die in the newborn period.  Teams raise money to support research to help babies grow into healthy children.  Teams then join the celebration at the walk.  Radio Disney was on hand to entertain kids before the walk, along with bounce houses, face painting, and more fun!

Several friends and family members joined team "Mighty Maxwell."  We met under the Family team tent and tried to wait out some of the rain.

 At this point people were in good spirits waiting for the 10am start time.
 The sun was mostly out until just before walk time...

The occasional light rain lead to a severe downpour with lightening and thunder.  During a break from the downpour we decided to start the walk in a "lighter" rain.  Yes, we got wet from head to toe!

After the walk some of us had fun listening to the band celebrate under a protective covering.  There were even characters from Star Wars walking around for photo ops!

What a fun way to celebrate all these babies, support parents, and fund researchers!

The money raised to help premature and sick newborns live to be healthy children is worth the wet feet!

For more information on the March of Dimes research, click here. For information on March for Babies, click here.