The Definitive Guide to Stop a Toddler from Whining!

I am the mother of a 2-year old. They told me 2 would be tough – the terrible-twos – right?  I would like to rename them the terrific-twos. I’d like to, but I can’t just yet. Because, WHINING. But even this is manageable. Get excited – I’m going to let you in on a little secret – how to stop a toddler from whining.

“I don’t want to wear pantssssssssssss maaaamaaaaaay” (English accent on the mommy…who knows.)

“There’s a grain of rice of my chinnnnn……..”

“I can’t find my nooooooooose”

How to Stop a Toddler from Whining
It can be that traumatic.

My lovely little can turn seemingly innocent, pleasant words into the most hair-pulling of sounds.   Other than that, so far, I’m LOVING the 2’s. He is the best he has ever been! Sweet, polite, intellectually absorbent, kind, hilarious, generous, and so preciously affectionate. Bring it on baby!

But.the.whining.   We can do without.

How to Stop a Toddler from Whining

So I whipped out a little strategy I like to call “The Whining Seat”

It has seen an almost 100% success rate over the last month. You may want to take notes.  Here goes:

Child decides that ____ is a national catastrophe.

Child proceeds to whine.

Whining reaches the ears of a sensible person (me).

I detail reality for him in toddler-friendly language.

Whining persists.

Sensible individual calmly says “son, do you need to sit in the whining seat?” (this “seat” changes based on where we are in the moment – but is generally high off the ground so that he can’t escape without help…. Think countertop, high chair, table, dresser….etc)

Whining persists.

Son is placed on said Whining Seat.

As he is placed on the proverbial WS I explain that he can whine if he wants to, but he has to stay there until he is done. As soon as he is quiet and talking normally (or can flash a smile) he is free to go.

How to Stop a Toddler from Whining

Honestly, I don’t know why this works. But it does.

In a way, it’s a little mockery…. I stand in front of him while he does his time and gesture to “carry on…keep going….let it all out”… usually he finds that funny and bursts out laughing to end the whine. Then I clarify, “are you all done whining sweetie?”, and I get a “All done mammayyyy” (the English accent is real.). Freedom ensues.

From then on, for a reasonable amount of time, the simple threat of a return to his lofty perch is enough to quell the beginnings of a whine.

Again, don’t understand the psychology, but it works and keeps us sane 🙂 Terrific-two’s for the win!

Can ya’ll give it a shot and tell me what you find?   I’m over the moon.  Wishing you every success, and the most peaceful of homes!

Kids Learn By Example

There will be lots to come on the topic of teaching language to our children (ie: multiple languages, how to learn colors etc.) but here’s a quick one today to remind us all that our kids learn by example.

We were at Church the other day when I had a huge coughing spat. At the end of it I flippantly said “oh goodness!”…. and heard it repeated for the rest of the hour courtesy of my little parrot. I had said it with a smile on my face (of relief, because the coughing was done) – so said little bird thought it was funny, and exclaimed it more and more urgently until we walked out the door.

Whenever he wants to do something like color… laundry…swim…or lick my toes… he’ll say to me “may I have swimming please mommy” and then cheekily add “maybe later” (my frequent response)…. Or when he runs to the front door, he mockingly says “don’t open the door” with my exact voice inflections!   Infuriatingly cute.

He’s picking up crazy amounts of Hindi from our Indian nanny now too. What the what?!

Kids Learn by Example

I remember when my little niece was just a tiny little tingu and barely talking yet, her dad would say things like “honey your behavior just now was highly inappropriate” and we would kind of giggle about how crazy those words must have sounded to an infant… but you should hear the girl now. She’s barely three and has a better vocabulary than some adults I know.

Studies have shown time and time again that talking to our kids (reading and singing count too) – but just using language around them is how they learn and assimilate their mother tongue. I was talking to a friend who works in a daycare the other day who told me that she can tell how parents talk at home based on the things their children say. Anyone else blushing?

Kids learn by example, so watch what you say. Watch how you say it. But keep saying good things!

Kids Learn By Example

The Joy and Comfort of Home

Apologies for the week of silence we just came through over here – I’m home in Canada for a few weeks and LOVING IT! Ah, the joy and comfort of home….fresh, clean, dry, sun-kissed air, and we are soaking it upppp! There has been almost no time for sitting in front of a computer– just catching up with friends, family and real green grass. Squirrels too. #didntknowimissedthem

A few thoughts I’ve had while here include:

Firstly the importance of the proverbial “village”

Being surrounded by family, friends and other helpful Canadians has been a game changer this week. “They” say it takes a village – and “they” are right. Modern living, in so many ways, has isolated families (especially moms who stay home with the tribe). It is a joy to entrust my sweet son to others who I know have only his best in mind. They get to enjoy his high energy in manageable doses, and I get….a break. Did I mention how much I’m enjoying using those breaks to get outdoors? He, for his part – can’t get enough of all of the attention, and has taken to his extended family like gravy on fries #poutine. Cutting edge kids are a product of who they spend time with.

Secondly, fresh air.

Feels so good. And it’s exciting and exhausting for littles. Days go by so fast when outdoor play is on the agenda. He can fall freely on the grass, learn about walking on different surfaces, see animals, develop the coordination it takes to kick a ball, imagine shapes in the clouds, and yell (not nearly as offensive when diffused into the atmosphere). It also facilitates deep, restful slumber. Cutting edge kids learn and grow through experience.

The Joy and Comfort of Home

Thirdly, variety within routine.

At home we’re pretty regimented on a daily basis. We eat almost the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day, he naps at the same time, goes to the playroom, reads stories, helps clean, talks to nana and then goes to sleep. Here we have been trying to maintain some semblance of a routine, but there is so much variety! Now there is bike time, swimming, shopping, church, music, soccer, parks, and anything he wants to eat at any time. Grazie, grandparents! He is so much more entertained, and as a result, there is so much less whining. Woot! Cutting edge kids thrive within routines where they know what to expect.

Fourthly, fun!

Breaking out of the ordinary, being in a different environment, having so many friends to play with, and no work for mom and dad means so much more fun! I think fun is an integral part of life and we need to have more of it. I’ve been reflecting on it this week – and realizing that the ordinary can be so amusing too. Fun shouldn’t be just for vacations – but a way of life. Cooking/cleaning/work/bedtime can be occasions of great joy if we can be intentional about it. Cutting edge kids learn through play and are a riot to be around!

The Joy and Comfort of Home

Fifth – good sleep routines

We have had the occasional case of the grumps here and there – owing entirely to a lack of sleep. Moving around between homes and trying to spend time with everyone we miss has admittedly cut into his sleep time – read about why this is so important here. We’re doing our best, but he’s definitely running a sleep deficit right now. The brains of cutting edge kids grow and organize themselves while they sleep – so make it a priority. Beauty sleep also makes them a feast for the eyes!

So… that’s it.  A sample of my thoughts over our first 7 days at home, back to our regular programming soon. Time to get back to my family and a nice glass of wine!

10 Powerful Rewards of Singing with Your Kids

Moi: “I can’t feel my”

Son: “face”

Moi: “when I’m with”

Son: “you”

Moi: “but I”

Son: “luff it,” giggle, “I luff it!”

The soundtrack to our most recent hot tub adventure (I promise, it’s more like a just-barely-lukewarm-tub – but it has jets and bubbles, and is a super fun “physical” activity we love to include in our 3-15 chunks!)

Not a traditional children’s song, I’ll admit, but a pretty amusing one to act out with a little lead vocalist. I’ve always been something of a melodic talker, narrating my life musical-style in real time – but now, I have just cause, hallelujah!

10 Powerful Rewards of Singing with your Kids

Rewards of Singing with your Kids

Singing, as it turns out, is one of the best things we can do for our babies! Here’s a list of the 10 top reasons to bust out your vocals whether or not you’ve always secretly felt destined for Broadway:

  1. Language Skills: Song is a special type of speech. In Blythe’s book “The Genius of Natural Childhood” she states that “lullabies, songs and rhymes of every culture carry the ‘signature’ melodies and inflections of a mother tongue, preparing a child’s ear, voice and brain for language”. This food may help with that too…
  2. Mathematical & Scientific Reasoning: Music enhances development in areas of the brain tied to counting, pattern recognition, time, and organization – children who have studied music tend to excel more in math
  3. Music Skills: By singing together, you can help your child learn to match tones, vary speed and volume, express emotion with their voice, maintain a steady rhythm and all kinds of other skills that music makes fun!
  4. Cause & Effect: When we sing the same songs over and over again, the littles learn to anticipate what will come next (claps, stomps, tickles, fist pump, etc.).
  5. Literacy/Memory: There’s a reason we sing the ABC’s and don’t try to get kids to memorize it on paper. Put something to song and it becomes infinitely more sticky to their little minds. Things like… parts of the body, numbers, days of the week, countries….
  6. Tradition: Songs are a powerful tool for promulgating our cultural heritage to our children… even if you only know one song. And all it says is, “eat birdie, fly away” in another language.
  7. Transitions & Routines: Babies feel safer when they know what is coming next, when life is at least a little predictable. Having a specific song that precedes bedtime, dinner or using the potty makes it all just a little easier to take.
  8. Play: Get your moves on and make singing and dancing a part of regular play time. Teach songs with actions and help them to learn balance, coordination, body awareness and rhythm!
  9. Bonding: Babies are born already knowing their parents voices from their time in utero, and music can be instrumental in furthering emotional attachment. As songs become more familiar to them, they trigger bonding through a sense of security.
  10. New words: Songs also introduce kids to sounds and meanings of new words that otherwise might not be a part of your family’s vernacular. Feel free to insert hilarious or impressive words into common songs just for the learning 🙂 (ie: the itsy bitsy spider ascended the water spout). The sky’s the limit!

10 Powerful Rewards of Singing with Your Kids

Don’t let a little thing like talent (or lack thereof) stand in your way. Your baby is your biggest fan 🙂 So make like you’re in the shower, grab a wooden spoon and sing and dance like no one is watching. Someone will be, and they’ll thank you later.

Disciplining Children and Teaching Them to Count!

It’s Wednesday again! Hi Friends 🙂

Disciplining Children

One of the most important things I’ve read about disciplining children, that I sadly needed to hear was the importance of doing so out of love, not vengeance. #ireallydolovemychild #really

There were so many times when he first started walking and climbing that he would wait until I turned my back, and then teleport (seriously, I’m convinced that rocket fuel was sloshing around inside those chubby little legs of his) to the exact place he wasn’t allowed to be, touching the one thing in that room he was not allowed to touch. When I think about how I took that as a personal offence, my heart breaks a little.

He was just being a kid. Dare I say, a boy? Must.touch.everything.

The fact of the matter is, I was at home with him all day, er’ day. And I didn’t want to be. #didshejustsaythat? Around the time he hit 1½ years I realized that I loved him dearly, but really didn’t enjoy spending time with him anymore. It was exhausting. I was spent, and angry with him.

Any given 2 minute block of time looked something like this:

SELF: sit down

SON: runs to the phone to make “a call”

SELF: demand that he put the phone back

SON: yells

SELF: whisper, “Son, yelling is entirely unnecessary”

SON: yells louder

SELF: get up, unplug said phone and hang it high on the wall – then pat self on back for clever solution

SON: empties an entire box of Kleenex, draws on wall and throws my wallet in the jug of water while I accomplish the above

SELF: sad, very sad.

And the sadness grew as the day progressed and there was rarely a moment to sit down, laugh with him, accomplish something (PhD in progress anyone?!) or pee. Truth.

The Way we Time Out

After trying a variety of disjointed, loosely enforced strategies in an attempt to wrangle his wiles the one that worked for us has been to time him out. Quickly. Matter-of-factly. And seriously.

When he does something dangerous, or against one of the rules of our home, he is informed:

  1. That it is not allowed to
  2. Of the consequences should he attempt it again

When he almost inevitably goes at it again, I calmly say something like this to him:

“Son, you know you are not allowed to [glue daddy’s phone to the toilet] – since you made the decision to do it again, you have to have a time-out”

Disciplining Children
Making his most convincing “sad face”

And then he has to sit down right where he is, clasp his hands together (to prevent further trouble) and we count. Depending on the severity of the crime it’s anywhere between 10 seconds and 75 seconds (the very occasional 200 has also made an appearance). I then lead him in apologizing for whatever it is he did, offer my forgiveness, remind him how much I love him and then smooch those little cheeks.

Another little perk of this strategy is just how portable and discreet it is. When we’re out anywhere (even in silent places like Mass) if he does something inappropriate he can be timed out, and no one is the wiser.

The key to disciplining children is consistency. At first that meant there was still very little sitting in my life, and much more jumping up to time him out for everything he had previously gotten away with. Within just about a week of consistent consequences, I noticed a huge change. It sounds too good to be true, but it’s not ya’ll.

My son is a much more obedient, gentle, joy to be around for me again.

He has had his share of timeouts. Maybe a few other kid’s shares as well. AND, as a result, he has learned to count. We’re at 40 so far…. Maybe my time outs aren’t quite long enough….