positive direction…

Photo by dktrpepr (flickr)

Everyone likes to feel that they have a purpose in life. Generally speaking, people want to be helpful, needed, and a contributing member of society (or a family). Sometimes knowing how to go about that is difficult. It can be even more so when you are small and have seemingly little to offer. When this need to help is not being met, it can manifest itself in less than desirable behaviors.

My three year old is going through a phase right now. He is aware and proud of his independence but still needs help with many things. He wants to contribute to our family but doesn’t always know how. Sometimes this presents as him following a family member around, most notably an older sibling or his father, and acting in ways they don’t appreciate. Asking him to stop doesn’t help with his needs. Instead, it is times like these that he seems to need some positive direction.

Positive direction differs from redirection; positive direction directs the person to an idea or outlet that meets their unmet need. When my son begins bothering someone in our family, I’ve found it very beneficial to help him with some positive direction. Simply put, I ask him if he would like to help me with something. That one simple question, regardless of what it is, is enough to meet his need to help out. It doesn’t matter if he helps me make cookies, wash walls, or pick up toys. He is a contributing member of our family and happy to be so. Of course, there is also the added benefit of some special time with a parent.

10 tips for toddler carseat woes…

Photo by are you my rik (flickr)

My three year old has been the hardest of all my children to get in his carseat, preferring to take extra time to get in his seat. After making certain that the seat is comfortable, I have a few things that have helped us with the dilemma.

1. Planning extra time. Starting somewhere after age 1, I planned in an extra five minutes to account for him taking his time to get in the seat. Around age 2 1/2, that got bumped to 10 minutes for a while but luckily we worked through that pretty quickly.

2. Going over our plans before we get in the van. “I’d like you to get in your seat right away. We don’t have a lot of time and we need to leave now in order to get to our underwater basket weaving class.”

3. Making a game out of it. “Where are we headed today? To the moon? To Mars? To chase dinosaurs? Etc.”

4. Deep breath. I take a deep breath and remind myself that they are only little for so long, and I should enjoy it. When I am stressed about leaving, it just seems to take even more time for him to get in his seat.

5. Food. Even now, my son will often ask for a mint when we get out to the van. I tell him I will get the mint while he gets in his seat. It’s not used as a bribe. The mint or snack isn’t dependent on his compliance. However, I know it’s harder to concentrate if you are hungry. Dividing tasks also helps him to understand that we are in this together.

6. Making certain we have enough home days. My son is a homebody. If we have been going places a lot, he will drag getting into his seat even more. He needs time at home.

7. When he was younger, playfully scooping him up, kissing him, and putting him in his seat (rather than having him climb up himself) prevented a lot of it. That doesn’t work now because he wants to climb up on his own.

8. Go fast. This summer I’ve mentioned that the faster we get buckled, the faster we get the air conditioner on, and the faster we get home to a nice drink with ice in it.

9. Something to do. Giving him a toy or activity to do in his carseat helps. Luckily he is still RFing, so it kind of keeps stuff in his carseat rather than the stuff falling down.

10. Making certain he has other times to explore the van. It’s pretty exciting, I have to admit. The idea of (pretend) driving somewhere or looking at buttons is appealing. If he has time to do that when we aren’t in a hurry – prime times are when cleaning out the van or when we are sitting in the van while I nurse the baby – he is less likely to want to do it when we are on our way.

sometimes I like to curl up in a ball…

Today is my youngest niece’s first birthday. As part of her birthday gift, I was looking for the board book version of Vicki Churchill and Charles Fuge’s book, Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball. This has been a favorite book at our house through the years. I think we are on our second or third copy. I love giving this as part of a first birthday gift. It’s perfect for toddlers. We have given many, many of these as gifts, to friends and family who practice attachment parenting and those who are very mainstream. Everyone has loved it.

Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball

The rhythmic prose of the book flows well. Children love to imitate what the little wombat does throughout the book, so it works for those toddlers who are active all the time and don’t want to sit down to read a book. I like the fact that the little wombat does things to explore and has big feelings. It appeals to every child. At the end of the book, the little wombat does what he loves best – he curls up in a ball and snuggles close to his mom to sleep. What a better way to end a day then with your little one snuggled up close?