Recent parenting epiphanies and a call for advice

Every so often I like to write about the nuts and bolts of parenting and share ideas and tips with other parents. Previous entries have focused on breastfeeding and general parenting. I feel like we’ve had a good run here lately at the casa de @BeingMama – toddler tantrums averted in a new way, encouraged sympathy in our toddler, bolstered personal responsibility in our six-year old and found a good old diaper trick.

Before I begin, please ask yourself what have you tried lately that worked better than you expected that you want to share. Also, what parenting trick do you wish you had up your sleeve? This post includes some of both.

Here are my light bulb moments from the last week or so:

1. TODDLER TANTRUMS. Flowergirl loves baths and sometimes becomes hysterical when a bath ultimately ends. Tonight was one of those nights and I found myself getting her dried and dressed as methodically and quietly as I could while she shrieked endlessly. Of course, after a few moments of shrieking, she likely forgot WHY she was shrieking, but that’s hardly the point if you’re a toddler. That’s when I had an idea. I calmly walked over and turned off the lights, then I scooped her up and sat with her in a chair, blanket wrapped around us in the dark. Light streamed into her room from the hallway so we could see each other. She immediately became quiet…then snuggly. I whispered to her and she whispered back. Her tantrum ended with the flick of a light switch! Bliss with a change of sensory input.

2. SYMPATHY IN TODDLERS. This first breakthrough led to a second breakthrough with Flowergirl. Although I often share my basic feelings with her – she may not have been ready to respond until now. As I was sitting in the chair in the dark with her after her tantrum, I said, “Mommy is feeling sad. Can Mommy have a kiss?” She took my face in her tiny, chubby hands. She put her face close to mine and looked deeply into my eyes for a moment. Ah, those round, brown eyes! Then she gave me what was clearly among the best kisses of my life. A heartfelt, sympathetic baby kiss just for me. Wow. Asking for what you need sometimes works, even with a toddler. Children know. Go, Flowergirl!

3. A CONTRACT FOR OLDER KIDS. We’ve been trying to emphasize personal responsibility with Sunboy lately. He gets wrapped up in the excitement of moments and either encourages Flowergirl to do something she shouldn’t do, or is absent-minded and forgets to do things like turn in his homework. My husband Orchid had the idea of writing a contract with him. Every day that Sunboy met the responsibilities on his list without being reminded more than three times, he could earn a quarter. Call it the introduction to chores. He upheld his end of the contract for a few days and then ignored it. Orchid said plainly he wasn’t going to continue the contract if he wasn’t serious and tore the contract in two. Sunboy sulked, then went to his room and wrote another contract for him and Orchid to sign. The second contract is going well, and it probably helped that Sunboy was the one who wrote it. The idea of a contract may sound bizarre to some parents but it feeds into Sunboy’s personality well. This is a child who begged me this week to teach him how to do long division. He can be a serious little dude and tends to like rules.

4. DIAPER CREAM. On the baby care front, I discovered a great new use for the tube of lanolin I had leftover from breastfeeding Flowergirl. Lanolin also makes an excellent diaper rash cream. I use it when I think she is on the road to getting a rash. Works great, and if it’s safe to eat, it must be safe for baby’s bottom as well.

toddler game

5. TODDLER GAME. This isn’t a new idea but I recently remembered playing this game with Sunboy when he was a toddler, so this is an epiphany in deja vu. There’s two ways to play. One way is placing different colored pieces of paper on the floor and assembling a pile of items that are the same colors as the papers. The object of the game is to put the items on like-colored paper. The second way to play is to simply give the toddler a tub of crayons and group similarly colored crayons. These are great game for learning colors and practicing sorting. The crayon version of the game is a little trickier when it comes to sorting hybrid colors like blue-green. Flowergirl loved playing both versions.

What parenting breakthroughs did you make this week? Any little discoveries, minor epiphanies, light bulb moments? Share them in the comments!

Now on to my problem…do you have advice for me?

Flowergirl is learning to use the potty and can easily undress herself. After naps, she’s gotten into the habit of quietly waking and undressing herself which at that time of day includes a messy diaper. It’s becoming part of the routine: nap, undressing, mommy discovers the mess, bath for her and complete change of sheets. Sigh. We can’t seem to securely affix the diaper closed or dress her in a way that she can’t escape from it all. I know that her desire to be immediately clean is a great sign on her road to using the potty but…it’s rather exhausting. Any advice to keep a toddler’s diaper on?


10/24/2012 update: A good friend advised me on Facebook to let Flowergirl sleep commando, that is, au naturale. She said it helped  her daughter during naps and carried over into using the potty during waking hours as well. I’m going to try this!

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