Put on a Happy Face: My Little Girl Makes Me Smile

With concentration, she held the chalk between her fingers first making a large circle, rubbing away part of it to start over again for precision then continuing by making smaller circles inside of the larger one. I then asked, “What are you drawing sweetheart?” “A happy face!” my daughter responded as she finished up her drawing with a smile and even eyebrows, “And it has to be perfect,” she continued. When I asked why she chose to draw a happy face, she told me, “Because I’m happy, and I love making happy faces.”

To hear my daughter say she’s happy and to see the smile on her face or the happy faces she draws fills me with so much happiness. Not a day goes by that she doesn’t put a smile on my face. Even when she may sulk for a bit, have to receive a warning if she’s misbehaving, or be upset because she believes it’s unfair that she can’t get a toy from the store or have a piece of candy, before long, she’s back to her jovial self bringing light into my life and all those with whom she comes in contact.

She always manages to bring a smile to my face, and I look forward to many more happy, smiling faces in the future courtesy of my little girl.

All the best,

Tanya

Mommy’s Monday Moments: Just Ask “Mommypedia”

“When birds chirp together, is that how they speak to one another?” “Who decided that green means go and not the color blue?” “How did the doctor get me out of your stomach?” Are just some of the questions my four year old has asked me in the past couple of days. Quinn has always been an inquisitive child; however, the quantity and quality of questions has increased exponentially over the past few months. There are times when I feel like “Mommypedia” (The parental version of Wikipedia) or my daughter’s personal search engine who must yield results and provide an answer immediately because “I don’t know” is usually not acceptable and simply leads to more in-depth follow-up questions.

Of course, the barrage of questions can be overwhelming, and after a long day I may long for a mommy version of Siri or Alexa to answer everything for me. Nevertheless, I am flattered and honored that she looks to me for guidance and clarity and holds my response in a high regard. Also, her questions challenge my critical thinking and make me ponder over why something is the way that it is when I’m too sure, which is a fantastic way to keep me on my toes.

I treasure our conversations  and love how she listens so intently to my responses because I know that similar to some people who come to the realization that just because it’s on the internet it is not necessarily true that she will one day feel that her mommy doesn’t have all the answers. Here’s to all of the “mommypedias” and “daddypedias” trying their best to keep up with the search for answers from their children.
All the best,

Tanya

Proud Parents, Praise and Positive Reinforcement

“Are you so proud of me for putting my clothes on all by myself?” My little girl inquires with a smile on her face and my reflection in her brown eyes. If she displays a unbecoming behavior, she may ask, “Are you disappointed in me?” I remember when I was younger and how I lived for the praise of my parents and was so disappointed in myself if I disappointed them. I was such a sensitive child and wanted nothing more than to please my parents and can see that same sensitivity and desire to please when I look at my daughter and listen to the inflection in her voice.

There’s such a thin line between overly doting over a child and giving him or her the praise necessary to thrive, feel loved, reinforce positive behaviors and be successful. With this in mind, I often wonder if I’m on target with my daughter and if she knows how proud I am of her. Even as an adult, I often look for the approval of my parents, and while I seldom receive that phrase, “I’m proud of you!” from my father, I’m blessed that my mother has always demonstrated it because her praise and support has helped to shape me into who I am today.

Gratefully, Quinn has a father and mother who acknowledge her efforts and offer her positive reinforcement. Though there may be times when she may do something that upsets us or that we do not agree with, I hope she always knows how proud of her we are and how much we love her. I pray that as she gets older she will also be proud of herself and who she becomes in life.

All the best,

Tanya

Food for Thought: Thank You for Trying Something New, Little Girl!

2017-01-23 17.39.10.jpg“No thank you!” is usually the response I get when I offer my three old food she’s never had before or  just believes is yucky, which is just about everything. With her being in preschool for the past four months, it’s been a struggle to find a lunch she will eagerly eat. Almost always, her lunch box comes back with half eaten or barely touched meals. I often remind her about how just a year and a half ago she was open to eating all kinds of foods, but as her independence and voice has increased, her willingness to try new foods has diminished. While I know this is the plight of many parents, I think my daughter just might be changing her tune when it comes to trying new foods.

This Saturday, we had a dinner date with my sister and niece and ordered some wings as an appetizer. Initially, Quinn had no interest in trying the food and even handed me her little saucer and said, “No thank you, Mommy. I don’t want any.” Since I know she is a finicky eater, I did not plead with her to try one. But then, on her own, she said, “Mommy, I want to try a piece of celery!” I was astonished and responded with a smile on my face, “Sure, you can try a piece.” As I suspected, she didn’t like it so much, but I was proud that she took a bite. Then shortly thereafter she asked to try a piece of the carrot and said she liked it. We all were surprised.

Figuring that this was an anomaly but not wanting to let this newfound interest in trying new foods go to waste, I prepared salmon for dinner today, and I am proud to report that she actually ate it and said she liked it. I know it took me years to try new foods, all the way up to adulthood, so I’m hoping to break that cycle with my daughter and continue to introduce her to healthy and yummy foods.

All the best,

Tanya

Grateful to Grover: Easing the Transition of Preschool for My Little Girl

2016-09-10-19-50-55“Please, Mommy! Don’t Go!” my three year old cried out. My chest tensed up, and I could feel a tear or two welling up in my eyes as I pried my daughter’s hand off of my arm while struggling to comfort her as I left her with the teacher who was trying to console and distract her with an activity or toy as I left for work. What a difference a week makes! Quinn went from being excited the first week to adamantly voicing her dislike of being left at school by her father and me in the second week. We’ve explained how fun school is and how it’s great to meet new friends and learn from the teacher, but she is still somewhat resistant, especially considering that this is her first school experience.

Actually, she mainly cries for us not to go during the initial drop-off, and the teacher has reassured us that she is smiling, having fun and interacting with the other children for the rest of the day. So, we’ve been trying to come up with a way to help with the transition from home-life to school life in the morning.

Apparently, Quinn had the answer all along; it was me who was not receptive to the idea because I wasn’t sure if it would be acceptable by the teacher. “Can Grover please come with me, Mommy?” Quinn would ask in such a sweet yet desperate voice. I suggested that she could bring him for show and tell to which she quipped, “Mommy, Grover is my friend, not a toy. We bring toys for show and tell, not friends.”

On this past Friday, we had a talk in the car before heading into the preschool building, and she seemed to be doing okay. She asked again if Grover could come with her, and I said that he could but needed to stay in her book bag, and I’d ask the teacher if it was okay for Quinn to nap with him. Quinn was fine with this compromise, but as I hung up her book bag and little jacket, tears began to form in her eyes.

As I gave her a hug and tried to console her, the teacher saw that Quinn was visibly upset and asked, “Where’s Grover, Quinn?” I was surprised at this inquiry. How did she know about Grover? Maybe Quinn mentioned him during nap time or when they were talking about friends or toys at some point. I asked, “Is it okay that she has Grover?” The teacher smiled and nodded, “Of course, she can have Grover!” She then looked at Quinn as I handed Grover to her from the book bag, “Your friend Grover can spend a little time with you this morning, and then you’ll be able to put him away in your book bag until nap time. Okay, Quinn.” Her tears subsided, and she smiled and clung to Grover. Quinn was going to be okay. I later found out that my husband allowed Quinn to bring Grover on that Thursday but just didn’t tell me.

While some people may think children should not be permitted to have “security blankets,” such as a binkie, favorite toy or an actual favorite blanket that provides comfort, I think it is sometimes necessary to get them through a major change or transition. I am so grateful to Grover, for he has provided my daughter with some comfort during this major change, and when I picked her up, she immediately informed me, “Grover and I had a fun day at school Mommy!” Hearing her say this really made my day because it truly did upset me to see her so distraught.

All the best,

Tanya

Mommy’s “Moment” Monday

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Quinn Letting Me Know That She Knows How to Hold a Pocketbook

With each passing day, my little girl reminds me that she’s not so little anymore. Though she’s only two and a half, she often utters the phrase, “I can do it myself, Mommy! I don’t need help!” Of course, I’m so proud of her as she puts on her shoes, pushes up her sleeves to wash her hands or carries her dish to the sink, but it’s times like this when I need a “mommy moment.” I’m conflicted because I want my little girl to need me, but I also want her to be independent and willing to try tasks on her own. What’s interesting is the only instances when she will ask for help is if she thinks she cannot do something perfectly.

Just today, she was hesitant to draw her own happy face because she could not draw, according to her, a “good” circle. Then I found myself convincing Quinn that her circle and face did not have to be perfect and that she did a great job. I must admit, however, that I too am the perfectionist and have been since I can remember. I know what it’s like to put too much pressure on myself to be perfect or to stress over not making mistakes, and I certainly don’t want this type of pressure for Quinn. But as I am composing this post, I know that I am struggling with wanting to be the “perfect” parent who is there when my daughter needs me but able  back off and let her be independent and learn on her own.

This is my mommy moment this Monday, but I have a feeling this moment will be ongoing for years to come. Am I alone in this? I hope not.

All the best,

Tanya

It’s Potty Time! 

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Quinn Making Sure Thumper Uses the Potty

“It wasn’t until my child was three and a half that he was fully potty trained,” a mother abashedly admits. “My child was fully potty trained at 16 months,” one parent gloats. “Well, it just took a week or so to train my puppy!” one lady eagerly volunteers. Potty training is serious business in the toddler world, and when I decided to get serious about potty training my two year old, I learned that while all parents of toddlers (and puppies too) and even non-parents have opinions on the matter, the bottom line is that it’s all about knowing my child and what techniques are best for her.

Potty training for first-time parents can be like traveling to a distant land and not knowing how to navigate through it. It’s been a little over a month since I have entered this remote land, and I am proud to say that my GPS has not steered me wrong. While I can’t guarantee that the navigation system I utilized will help you reach your destination of potty training your little one, I still feel inclined to share what helped us reach that destination.
1. Look for signs. When Quinn was really, really ready, she began taking off her diaper or pull-up when she had to go. I knew this was a definite sign. She also enjoyed flushing to the toilet and would even ask to use the restroom when we went to Target or Walmart long before I started training her outside of the home.
2. Support: I made sure family, friends, caregivers and were aware that I was starting the potty training process and even asked some for advice. Also, I did not want Quinn to be confused and receive mixed signals, so my husband and I had to implement the same strategies, even it it was in our own ways. Also, my mother had to be fully aware so that she could be prepared whenever Quinn visited. Since Quinn is not at daycare, I did not need the support of many caregivers, but this is obviously important if your child is going to be successful.
3. Child’s interest: All children have different interests. Quinn loves music, certain characters and books, so I made sure to incorporate them into the potty training process. One of Quinn’s favorite potty songs and episodes is by Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. “If you have to go potty, stop and go right away! Flush, and wash and be on your way!” Quinn actually sings this song in public settings to let me or her dad know she needs to use the potty. It’s also a cute and catchy song and let’s kids know the importance of washing their hands after they go to the potty.  Also, letting her select and purchase her Minnie Mouse panties makes her feel empowered and excited about being a big girl. She wanted to hold her shopping bag containing the panties the whole time, even when I put her in her car seat.
I also purchased a couple of potty training books. One is called, “Diapers Are Not Forever,” which is great for transitioning to panties. Another book I purchased is interactive and a story about Elmo’ Potty Time. Quinn loves pushing the button for the flush sound and will often request it when she is using the potty. I also allow Quinn to let her friends (stuffed animals) use the potty. Watching her go through this process lets me know that she is comfortable and confident with all that potty training entails. She’ll often tell her stuffed animal, “Don’t forget to flush and wash your hands!”
4. Acknowledge achievements: While some people are against giving children incentives, such as stickers or a special treat, I think it depends on the child. Quinn enjoys receiving stickers and earning stars, but she does not refuse to use the potty until she gets a sticker or rely on getting a sticker each time she uses the potty. Oftentimes, a high five or me saying, “Mommy is proud of you for telling me you had to use the potty!” carries so much more weight.
5. Don’t underestimate or overestimate child’s capabilities: I am aware that Quinn is still learning, so I try not to put too much pressure on her, but I make sure to support her and give her positive reinforcement. Sometimes, she eagerly pushes down her panties to use the potty or pulls them up once she has finished, and other times she seems disinterested about the whole process, so it is up to me to step in and remain motivated. Also, I have to keep in mind that she is still learning to control her bladder, so I must use common sense and not always wait for her to tell me when she has to go. I will simply tell her, “It’s time to use the potty honey.” Now, it is becoming a routine. Quinn knows that she must use the potty when she wakes up, after meals and any other time when she feels that she has to go.
6. Keep moving forward: If there is an accident, the punishment should not be to put her back in pull-ups or a diaper. I need to let her know in a loving way that we all have accidents but that it is not okay to pee in her panties. Making her feel ashamed or embarrassed doesn’t help her or me.
7. Accountability: People often focus on the accountability of the child, but the parents, guardians and caregivers must hold themselves accountable too. It is unfair to expect a two year olds (maybe even older) to hold their bladder for a half hour or even fifteen minutes after they have told you that they have to go to the potty. If they have an accident, it is your fault, not theirs, and I think the child should be told by the parent, “Mommy or daddy should have gotten you to the potty sooner,” so that the child knows that he or she is not at fault and shouldn’t be ashamed.
8. Consistency: The same rules at home apply when Quinn and I are outside of the home. At first, I was very nervous about using regular panties on Quinn instead of a pull-up when we went on outings, but I did not want to send mixed signals. Amazingly, Quinn does an even better job letting me know when she has to go when we are outside of the home. It’s as though she knows that she may not have a change of clothes (I do keep a change with me, but I don’t share this with her) or maybe she just enjoys going out and does not want to have to go back home because she wet herself.
9. Communicate: While I’m a type “A” personality, my husband is more laid-back and casual. Initially, this did not go over well in the beginning stages of potty training Quinn, but after I made sure to effectively communicate my plan and strategies, the process went smoothly.  Usually, the main caregiver is the one who takes on the overwhelming task of potty training. It cannot only be overwhelming but place unnecessary stress on a relationship. Yes, you may have the support of your significant other, but if you do not effectively communicate the plan or strategies you would like to implement and consider the advice of your significant other, you could be dealing with some bickering and explosive arguments in addition to potty training (I’m glad I communicated before it got to that point), especially since you both may think you have all of the answers and know what’s best.
10. Seek Out Resources: A book that helped me out a great deal and that I have already recommended to quite a few friends and colleagues with toddlers ready to potty train is “Oh Crap! Potty Training” by Jamie Glowacki. Even though I already had some ideas, this book gave me the confidence I needed to implement them. It also presented “common sense” methods I did not even consider. Once I read this book, I had Quinn out of pull-ups and in panties within two days and haven’t looked back since.
I most certainly do not have all of the answers, but I am so proud of my little girl and how well she’s doing and how well her father and I are doing with keeping her on the right track with potty training. If you have any techniques or advice that may help a parent or caregiver with potty training, please feel free to share as well.
All the best,
Tanya