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

Photo by Thao Le Hoang on Unsplash

 

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.

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

 

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Gifts For Kids (Ages 0-18) That Will Meet Their Developmental Needs

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

 

Christmas is right around the corner! It’s time to start shopping!

There are lots of things parents could get for each child on their list… but lots of toys are just noisy or obnoxious, without really contributing anything positive to the child’s life.

This holiday season, give a lasting gift to your child (and a bonus reward for yourself!) by teaching the child something useful through your gift. Understanding the child’s developmental needs will help you choose a thoughtful and educational gift. 

 

For your shopping convenience, CLICK ON ANY OF THE IMAGES BELOW for a quick link to Amazon! 

 

Babies (0-18 months)

Babies have two main developmental goals: 1) learn how to use their bodies (fingers, hands, sitting up, crawling, walking, eating, etc.) and 2) build a relationship with loving adults around them.

Click on any of the images below for some great gifts that tailor to those needs:

  • Sensory Objects

  • Activity Cube

  • Walkers

  • Shape Sorters/Stackers


  • Soft Blocks

  • Plush Books


Toddlers (18 months-3 years)

Toddlers have mastered a few skills during their baby stage- such as walking, some talking, eating, etc.). Now that they are more capable, the big struggle for a toddler is to find ways to use these skills independently…. But this usually gets them into some trouble. Toddlers are exploring the world around them, learning their own limits, and learning their parents’ rules.

One important way that a toddler gains independence is through toilet training.

Learning to communicate through speech helps toddlers accomplish these developmental goals.

  • Buckles, Snaps, Dressing


  • Blocks


  • Nuts and Bolts (Builds fine motor skills)

  • Thick Cardboard Toddler Books



  • Potty Seat



  • Puppets


Early Childhood (4-6 years)

Children in early childhood are beginning their school years- bringing new challenges such as learning to sit still, wait their turn, stand in lines, listen and attend to the teacher, play cooperatively with friends… Not to mention academic demands like learning the ABC’s and reading.

Having mastered basic communication skills, they are able comprehend basic logic, such as cause and effect. Children at this age often struggle to comprehend abstract concepts.

Play really expands during early childhood as children’s imagination allows them to pretend with their friends.

  • Dress Up/Pretend Play


  • Color Coordinated Tea Set (Matching Skills)

  • ABC Fun



  • Beginning to Read Books


  • Coloring Set (Promote artistic expression)
  • Musical Instruments

Middle Childhood (7-10 years)

Children in middle childhood are beginning to understand abstract concepts. They are ready for more advanced learning- in school (such as in math) and outside of school (such as in learning to use money).

They have excelled in their communication enough to grasp irony and humor.

With more understanding of why’s and how’s, these children are ready for advanced teaching about moral character. They can start deciding for themselves who and what they want to be. They can plan for the future and start setting goals independently.

These children have more awareness of their surroundings, so they start to catch on to social norms and expectations. Children start to take on roles at home and at school that define themselves. They are ready for a little more responsibility.

  • Comics or Joke Books


  • Geometric Blocks

  • Chapter Books


  • Pets or Pretend Pets


  • Money Management Tools


  • New Skills (Playing an instrument, sewing, cooking, etc.)



Late Childhood (11-12 years)

In late childhood, children are in a transitional phase. They are beginning to outgrow younger children and prefer to interact with older youth. They are looking for ways make themselves more accepted by teenagers.

This is a time of parental teaching and warning. These children usually haven’t hit the rebellion that often comes with adolescence, so they are still willing to listen to their parents. It is an important time for talking about peer pressure, sex, drugs, alcohol, bullying, how to use technology responsibly, porn, and other major topics that will arise during adolescence.

  • LIFE Board Game

  • Lessons or Materials to Play an Instrument, Dance, Play a Sport, etc.



  • Dream Boards
  • Family Friendly Games




Adolescence (13-18 years)

Adolescence is surprisingly similar to the toddler stage. The main challenge for adolescents is to find independence, while still operating within their parents’ rules. Adolescents push boundaries, trying to find the limits.

They are almost adults- and need to be prepared for every situation that they will encounter when they hit adulthood. They need to be prepared for: cooking their own meals, managing their own money, keeping track of time, working a job, cleaning their own home, balancing work/school and play, having positive friendships, having positive romantic relationships, organization, being a responsible citizen, and graduating college.

Adolescents are also finding their own unique hobbies, interests, life skills, and exploring possible future careers.

Teens are strongly influenced by their peers, so any gift that will make the adolescent feel “cool” will help your child in their social skills.

  • Cash (Encourage them to save some of it!)
  • Appropriate Clothing/Shoes/Jewelry/Accessories



    • Money Management Tools


    • Time Management Tools


    • Things for their Future Apartment/Dorm




    • Tickets to the Movies, Gift Cards for Restaurants (For hanging out with friends)




  • The Gift of Making Your Home “Teen Friendly”

Making your home “teen friendly” depends on your child’s interests and the interests of his friends. Adding perks to your house that appeal to them will encourage your teen and their friends to want to hang out at your house. This is awesome because you can get to know your child’s peers- and keep an eye on things to make sure they are being safe and responsible.



  • Vacations/Family Time Rather than a Physical Gift

I’ve known families who go on a cruise, rent snowmobiles, or go for a hot air balloon ride with their teens instead of buying gifts for Christmas! This builds your family togetherness, and is a ton of fun!

Enjoy your new gift-giving confidence, knowing that your gift will be loved and useful.

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

Shut Down the Mommy Guilt by Teaching Kids Through Your Own Failures

Photo by Andreas Dress on Unsplash

Like every parent out there, I want the best for my kids.

And I realize that my kids have the best shot in life if I give them 100% every day. The best teaching, the best example, the best guidance.

So it hurts when I’m not at my best and I wish I could be.

But this helps.

No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.” -CS Lewis

I am a good mom because I know what I need to change to be better.

I am a good mom because I try to make those changes every day.

And I am a good mom because I don’t stop when it gets tough.

So when those evil voices in my head try to tear me down, this is what I do.

  • Shut them up.

I hate those voices in my head that tell me that I can’t do it, that I’m a bad parent, that I’m not good enough. They are noisy, obnoxious, and negative.

The only good thing about them is that they aren’t real. They don’t represent reality. They don’t accurately portray who I am. And I’m the only one who can hear them. Nobody else is thinking what they are saying to me.

That gives me a lot of power.

All I have to do to shut them up is to think about anything else. Two thoughts can’t fit in my brain at the same time, especially a positive thought and a negative thought. If I focus on the positives in my life, the negatives just don’t have any room left. Or if I think about someone else and what I can do to help them, there just isn’t any space for those nasty thoughts left.

I have the power to shut them up.

For more on this topic, click the image below.

  • Be objective.

People who aren’t directly involved in a situation weirdly tend to see clearer what is happening. That’s because they aren’t confused by the overwhelming emotions and chaos of the moment.

When I am trying to make changes in myself, it helps to step back and take the role of an outside observer.

I ask myself, “If a good friend came to me with my exact situation, what would I advise him to do? What would I suggest that he change?”

If a good friend needed my help, I wouldn’t judge him or criticize him for the situation he is in! So I don’t judge or criticize myself as I think through what I want to fix about my parenting.

I just think logically about where I am now, where I want to be, and what reasonable steps lay between.

Then I take the first step.

  • Pick one thing.

Change doesn’t happen all at once, like turning on a light switch. It’s usually little by little, like a sunrise, that you become who and what you want to be.

So start with a reasonable, attainable goal.

What can I accomplish today?                                                                                                                               

After a day or two of success, I feel more capable of expanding my goal. Once I build my confidence, I build on the original goal.

What can I accomplish in one week?

Little by little, I become a different person with new habits and attitudes. More like my ideal self. And it shows in my parenting.

  • Accept setbacks.

In all this, I have to remember that setbacks will happen.

Just because I’m making progress toward a goal doesn’t mean that I am suddenly a perfect person- and I shouldn’t expect perfection of myself.

There will be days that I take a step backward instead of moving forward.

Sometimes there is a week or a month or a year that I seem to slide backward.

But that just means that I have more opportunity to move forward again in the future. It’s never too late to become a better person, a better parent.

  • Teach!

Our kids learn wonderful things from watching parents struggle through their own life challenges. Kids learn that they don’t have to be any one thing. They learn from their parents’ example that they can change if they want to- and they learn HOW to do so. Showing kids that life is difficult (but not impossible!) prepares them to accomplish difficult things in their own lives.

Don’t shelter your children from your failures. Let them see.

If they think you are perfect, they will think that they should be perfect when they reach  adulthood. And that would be a nasty surprise when they reach adulthood and find themselves to be imperfect.

And imagine how you and your child can celebrate together when you reach your goals! Show your child that it was all worth it. That you did it- you handled the pain and fear and frustration and you overcame the odds.

Show them, and then they can do it too.

They will use you as inspiration when life gets challenging.

How ironic that they are often our inspiration too.

So decide today what you want to be, and go and make it happen.

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

P.S. Want to help your children learn to control the voice in their heads? Help them have a positive inner voice using this resource! Click the image below!

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Optimal Health Before a New Baby

Photo by Angelos Michalopoulos on Unsplash

Every mom goes through a unique phase before she gets pregnant. It’s a time of preparation… Time to start thinking about what kind of health I should be in before my pregnancy.

This is always a tough time for me. I typically make much better choices eating and exercising when I am pregnant or nursing than I do normally. I’ve got to reign in all the emotions that come with eating, not just the eating itself. It’s an entire lifestyle change, a whole new mindset. More than just eating your veggies. 

I just like tasty food. And I’m not a dieter. And I hate exercising.

But I also don’t want to be unhealthy or overweight, especially when there’s another little human who depends on me.

If only chips and cookies were nutritious… But they’re not.

So, I go through this terrible process before every pregnancy where I try to prepare my body for building another person- and that means being in good physical condition.

Nothing crazy, mind you.

Again, I am no dieter and I hate to exercise. All I’m aiming for here is being healthy in general.

No counting calories, or cutting out carbs altogether, or cayenne detoxing.

So how do I get prepare my body for having a child- without going crazy?

  • Healthier Choices

Ok, we all know about this. We know that refined sugars and carbs are bad. We know that veggies are good. We know that we should have a balanced diet with lots of colors.

So the first (Unavoidable!) step is to make a few healthier choices.

When I’m thinking about getting pregnant, I try to change my diet a few months in advance. Here’s some of the changes I make:

  • Take a prenatal vitamin. Ok, so I usually do this all the time, but it is especially vital now! (Click the image below!)

  • Buy whole wheat everything. Tortillas, bread, buns, you name it. I can’t seem to function without carbs, so I at least try to make them a little better for me by choosing whole wheat.
  • Increase fresh veggies. I eat at least one veggie with each meal. No exceptions. Buy a variety of colors. This ensures that I’m getting a balance of nutrients from my food.
  • Drink water. Pregnancy requires a ton of water, even more than normal. Before pregnancy, I start getting used to that by increasing my water intake. There are great resources out there, like water bottles that help you track your water intake (Click image below!)

This also means giving up other drinks- especially those with high sugars (like soda) or high caffeine (like coffee and energy drinks- read here for more information on how to keep your energy up without the caffeine!). And we all know that pregnancy means limiting or cutting out alcohol, so this is a good time to get started.

  • Just stop buying unhealthy snacks that I can’t resist. Chips, chocolate, ice cream, and cookie dough are a few of my weaknesses. I can’t have them in my house if I am going to make a change to being healthy. So I just don’t let them in the house.
  • Get through the cravings. It helps me to know that cravings for my favorite carbs and sugars should go away after a week or two of the new, healthier lifestyle. I just have to make it til then!

But that is only the first step!

  • Sweat and Stuff

Ok, seriously, who has time to exercise?

Nobody.

And who wants to exercise?

Nobody.

So how on earth does anyone ever get it done?

The only times in my life where I have been successful at keeping a consistent workout routine is if I am working out with a group. That way, they know if I am missing my workouts and they hold me accountable.

Effective. But I hate it.

My favorite way to get in some good physical activity is to play with my kids for 30 minutes to 1 hour every day.

I love this, especially right before another pregnancy, because I just want to soak up my little ones before I have a baby that needs most of my attention. I feel like it helps my kids cope with a new sibling because they get lots of mommy’s attention beforehand and it helps me feel connected with each child. And I get my workout in. And let me tell you, it’s an intense workout.

Win, win, win.

Click the image below for some great family fun!

  • Power of Fluids

Here’s a simple trick that I use to make sure I am drinking enough water and also monitoring my portions at meal times.

About 30 minutes before the meal (usually right as I am starting to cook dinner or lunch), I drink a BIG glass of water. Not your average 8 fluid ounce cup. A BIG cup of water.

That’s 3 glasses of water (one at breakfast, one at lunch, and one at dinner). Not the entire day’s worth of water, but a good start! Again, if you would like some extra help keeping track, try these water bottles that keep you updated on how much water you need! Click the image below.

The water fills up my belly so that I eat a more appropriate portion of food rather than helping myself to a heaping plate.

This trick alone is responsible for a significant amount of my pre-pregnancy weight loss.

  • Time Limits

Another pitfall of my everyday eating habits is that I allow myself to eat whenever I want.

That means if I want a snack, I can have one. If I want a midnight snack, I can have one. If I want all the hobbit meals- breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, and supper- there’s no stopping me.

If I’m working on being more healthy, I cut out some of these extra meals by setting rules for myself.

And, I don’t just mean lines in the sand, but firm, for reals, no joke rules.

For example, I don’t eat past 6pm.

I don’t let myself snack between meals.

I make my mealtimes consistent every day, such as breakfast between 9-10am, lunch between 12-1pm, and dinner between 5-6pm.

And that’s the only 3 hours in the day when I am allowed to consume food of any kind.

I know, I know, it’s healthier to eat small snacks often rather than big meals. If I had enough self-control to do that, I would. But when I try to eat 6 small snacks in a day, I just end up with 6 big meals.

In that case, it is more healthy to limit myself to meals rather than trying to snack.

Please note that this is one habit that I give up after pregnancy. I find that snacks are a helpful way to keep morning sickness away, and you need more calories during pregnancy anyways.

  • Feeling Zen

Emotions about food are difficult.

It is a tough topic for a lot of people. Media portrays a perfect body type that many people aspire to obtain. This brings up feelings of self-doubt, self-esteem, being in control, feeling accepted by others, health and wellness, confidence, and mortality to name a few.

(Click below for a great resource on emotional eating!)

Lots of big emotions are tied to food.

Success at changing a lifestyle takes more than just grudgingly following steps that you don’t want to do.

That’s where I went wrong for a long time.

As I have said many times, I’m no dieter. I’m no exerciser. I’m no good at counting calories.

These few tricks I have identified are the prefect mix (for me) of small and simple changes that I can handle. They are things that work for me, but they don’t send me into big emotions of frustration, regret for foods I have eaten, wishing for foods I can’t have, or self-punishment when I mess up.

At the same time, I find new ways to reward myself, to rejuvenate myself instead of eating (many ideas are mentioned in this blog post). 

I can feel happy about my food choices without putting myself under intense stress for giving up a major part of my life.

In doing so, I control my feelings and my food.

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

 

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