Archive for the ‘ Toddlers ’ Category

Are You an Emotional Grown-Up?

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

I can’t stop thinking about the inspiring talk I heard recently by Robin Berman, M.D., author of the book Permission to Parent: How to Raise Your Child With Love and Limits.  One of the most challenging parts of parenthood, she said, is being an emotional grown-up.

It’s hard enough to deal with all the practical and financial aspects of adulthood. But when you’re tired or stressed or frustrated, it can take a lot of self-control not to have your own meltdown. Or to say something critical or sarcastic or insensitive that you’ll regret later.

Of course, the opposite of acting like a grown-up is acting like a child. While it’s perfectly normal for a little kid to be moody and self-centered and out-of-control sometimes, it’s our job as parents to put our own needs and issues aside and focus on what’s best for our kids. That doesn’t mean we should be selfless or indulge their every whim, but we have to be mature enough to take the high road, to think before we speak, and to not expect our kids to make us feel better.

I’m sure you can tell plenty of stories about other parents you know who’ve taken the low road. However, we all have moments when we’d like a Mommy do-over.

Just one of my own examples: My 10-year-old has been having nightmares lately, and she’s been calling for me repeatedly through the night. She gets truly frightened, and I have to sit with her and help her do breathing exercises and visualize happy scenes instead of scary ones. But we’ve both been losing a lot of sleep. There have been nights when I’ve seemed angry about being woken up (again), and I hate that. So I’ve apologized. The nightmares aren’t her fault. I want her to know that I have faith that she will get through this rocky patch and that I’m here to support her.

“No parent ever gets it right the first time…parenting is the ultimate in on-the-job training,” writes Dr. Berman. “Lucky for us, kids are very forgiving. “

Here are some other quotes that have stuck with me:

“Parenting is a divine invitation to be your best self.”

“You wouldn’t cough on your child without covering your mouth. So make sure your unresolved issues don’t infect your children.”

“If you feel your control or patience waning, remind yourself of the role you want to be remembered for: hero, not villain; protector, not persecutor.”

“Why is it we pay more attention to recharging our smartphones than to recharging ourselves? If we were smart, we’d pay attention when our battery light started flashing ‘low.’”

“No matter what difficulties you run into with your children, keep imagining them at their best. Believing things will get better gives you both something to hold on to until they do.”

Dr. Berman is the newest member of our expert Board of Advisors, and you’ll be hearing more of her voice in our pages. Treat yourself to a copy of her book.

Diane Debrovner is the deputy editor of Parents and the mother of two daughters. 

Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
Parenting Style: Positive Parenting

Photo of mom and daughter with painted faces via Shutterstock

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4 Things I Learned About Parenting From Working at Walt Disney World

Friday, January 16th, 2015

I spent one year working for the Mickey Mouse in Walt Disney World. It was hands down the most magical year of my life, filled with fun, learning, and a boatload of funny stories.

While I learned important lessons about teamwork and the power of positivity, I also learned a thing or two about parenting. By interacting with families of different backgrounds, sizes, and child-rearing styles, it became clear that all parents had alter egos on vacation. It was obvious when mom or dad were in full vacation parent mode, because they were savvy and quick on their feet when it came to handling children in a high stress (or high excitement) situation.

Here are some examples of how parents inspired me and had me taking notes on their impressive theme park parenting.

  1. Parents will stop at nothing to make sure that their kids are happy, even if that means sitting through It’s A Small World for an entire afternoon. While visiting Magic Kingdom on a day off, I watched a father re-enter the line for It’s A Small World four times because his daughter, “wanted to see the babies sing again.” My heart went out to him, and I respected the fact that he loved his daughter so much, enough that he would voluntarily ride in the tiny boat with her over and over again.
  2.  Stroller folding is an art form that is extremely underappreciated. This I learned firsthand. Being a stroller parker just comes with the job when you work a Disney attraction. Fellow cast members and I would bribe each other to take our stroller shifts, because it was a grueling task. Not every stroller folds the same way, and some have crazy hard child safety locks that require patience and an owner’s manual to unlock. I respect the parents who lug these contraptions around with them all day long!
  3.  Parents are experts when it comes to coping with wait times. I always commended those parents who stood on the two-hour meet-and-greet lines for characters with their kids. I felt sorry for these parents, until I looked closer. Their diaper bags were packed with snacks, coloring books, tablets loaded with movies, and anything else to entertain the little ones. It was like watching that scene from Mary Poppins where Mary opens up her duffel bag and pulls out a giant lamp and a potted plant, only with jumbo-sized bags of Cheerios and iPads instead.
  4. There is nothing quite like experiencing Disney through the eyes of a child. It is the reason why families keep coming back to Disney, and why I saw so many smiling parents crying happy tears when their kids saw Mickey for the first time or finally became big enough to ride the big-kid rides. In a child’s eyes, every character and attraction is real and there isn’t anything that magic can’t do. It was awe-inspiring and completely enlightening, talking to kids every day about Walt Disney World and all of the things they saw. I cried at least once a day, listening to the kids tell me about how the Make-A-Wish Foundation sent them to Disney to fulfill their dream of meeting Mickey Mouse or how they couldn’t wait to meet Cinderella and give her handwritten letters or colored pictures because she was their hero. It was an honor and it’s a much missed privilege to spend my days making magic for kids from around the world.

Image: Lake Buena Vista, FL via Shutterstock

Walt Disney World: Ease Your Trip With Magic Bands
Walt Disney World: Ease Your Trip With Magic Bands
Walt Disney World: Ease Your Trip With Magic Bands

Brooke Schuldt is an intern at Parents and the mother of a cactus named Timmy. She has a different hair bow for every day of the week. Follow her on Twitter

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The Most Dangerous Toy

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Scooters are cool, but they’re sending kids to the emergency room. Toy-related accidents increased almost 40 percent between 1990 and 2011, according to a new study in Clinical Pediatrics by researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and foot-powered scooters were the #1 cause of injuries such as lacerations and fractures.

My older daughter had a Razor scooter when they first became popular—even before organizations like Safe Kids Worldwide and the American Academy of Pediatrics had issued safety guidelines. I remember watching her and a friend come speeding down a hill in the park and thinking, “This is an accident waiting to happen.” Fortunately, she never got hurt.

In addition to wearing helmets, kids should be wearing knee pads and elbow pads, urges study senior author Gary Smith, M.D., Dr.P.H., a Parents advisor. However, our editors have noticed that fewer kids are wearing them these days—and the rise in stunt scooters may encourage more dangerous scootering. Any child younger than age 8 needs to be closely supervised when scootering. And parents, if you’re riding with your kids, set a good example and wear a helmet too.

Buy the safety gear you need here. 

It Worked For Me: Safety Solutions
It Worked For Me: Safety Solutions
It Worked For Me: Safety Solutions

Photo via Shutterstock

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Tags: | Categories: Big Kids, Fun, Health, News, Safety, Toddlers

Adopting Older Children: What You Need to Know

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Adopting Older ChildrenNovember is National Adoption Month, and there are over 100,000 children in foster care in the United States alone who are eligible to be adopted. The average age of children waiting for families is 10 years old. However, more often than not, prospective parents bypass older children.

In their new book, Adopting Older Children: A Practical Guide to Adopting and Parenting Children Over Age Four, co-authors Stephanie Bosco-Ruggiero, Gloria Russo Wassell, and Victor Groza dispel some of the myths about parenting older adopted children, and delve into both its unique challenges and rewards. Some of the benefits of adopting an older child:

There are typically fewer restrictions compared to adopting an infant. While single prospective parents, lower-income families, same-sex partners, and older couples may face challenges adopting babies, they’re typically much more welcome by public agencies to adopt an older child. Also, while families can wait up to a decade to adopt an infant, older children can be adopted more quickly.

There are trained professionals, adoptive parent support groups, and other help available to guide parents through the unique challenges of adopting an older child. These challenges may include past trauma, grief and loss, attachment issues, and developmental delays. Adoptive parents can feel better knowing that there is an understanding community available to answer their questions and appreciate their concerns. While love may not solve every problem a child might have, the authors contend that with adequate post-placement services, most older child adoptions can succeed.

We’re a Match! 3 Families Share Their Adoption Stories

The cost of adopting older children is considerably less than adopting an infant. Also, many post-placement services and benefits to parents who’ve adopted domestically in the U.S. are free or covered by insurance. These include medical, dental, and vision care; physical or occupational therapy; and tuition reduction. Most older children adopted from the public welfare system come with an adoption subsidy to help meet the child’s needs. There are often reduced fees for intercountry adoption of older children.

Adopting a child of any age can help parents to grow personally and culturally, as well as to make them much-needed advocates for needy children all over the world. This type of growth is influential on all children, but especially adopted children looking for role models.

Image courtesy of New Horizon Press

Adopting a Child with Spina Bifida
Adopting a Child with Spina Bifida
Adopting a Child with Spina Bifida

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Which Age Is Hardest to Parent?

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

I used to think that babies and toddlers were the hardest to parent, with all the sleep deprivation, bodily fluids and baby proofing that come with that age range. It felt like my children were trying really hard to get themselves killed, and we spent our waking hours standing sentinel and worrying that all that stood between my daughters and certain doom was a flimsy plastic cabinet lock. Those were the days of guacamole in the hair and 3 a.m. wakeup calls, but at least we got nap time to recover and get our groove back.

Now that I’m the mom of a tween and an almost tween, I find myself dreaming of those days. Because while the really physical days of parenting are done—no more bending in half and hunching my back for hours over a struggling-to-walk-toddler—parenting an older kid requires tremendous mental fortitude. And I’m not sure I have the skills necessary to survive the next few years. Here’s where I’m falling short:

Scheduling Prowess I need military-level precision to keep track of all the school projects, teacher meetings and extracurriculars—something a girl once voted most disorganized by a jury of her peers simply can’t muster.  I used to be horrified when I read stories of moms using their minivan as a traveling office/dinner table/living room, until my daughters began to fill every day with their various extracurricular passions. And now, my car comes stocked with paper towels, an array of snacks (and used wrappers), and is my regular conference call spot (thank God for Bluetooth!).

Mind Reader My daughter has developed a split personality, as she straddles the precarious line between childhood and adulthood. One minute, she’s begging me to let her watch The Fault in Our Stars—the next, she’s saying that she’s not too old for Sophia the First. And I’m never quite sure whether I’m talking to the grownup or the kiddo, which makes it hard to determine whether any suggestion I make is going to be greeted with a dramatic eye roll and sigh or excited exuberance. It’s hard to find that happy medium, where I’m allowing her to learn and grow, but not learn too much, too fast. So, despite the fact that I hear that every other parent in the fifth grade lets their children Snapchat on cell phones and watch Walking Dead marathons, we’re sticking by our guns.

Peace Maker I simply don’t have the negotiation skills necessary to get my girls to stop the battles and bickering and actually be the loving sisters I know they are, deep, deep (deep) down inside. I’d love to just tell my children to work it out themselves, but that often leads to tears and pain (and not just for me).

Book Smarts I was a straight A student when I was in school, but apparently I killed a lot of brain cells between then and now, or they decided to rewrite the curriculum just to make me look like the village idiot. Either way, there were things in fourth grade math that had me stumped, and I’m frankly a bit nervous about what comes next. I hope my daughters can teach me.

I’ve talked a bit about my struggles with tween parenting with my mom, and she just chuckles. “Wait until they hit the teens,” she says, ominously. “That’s when parenting really gets tough.” I hope I can survive it.

Tell us: Which age was the toughest for you as a parent? Why was that? Keep up with your kiddo through every age and stage through our Parents.com newsletters.

Mom Confessions: My Latest Parenting Fail
Mom Confessions: My Latest Parenting Fail
Mom Confessions: My Latest Parenting Fail

Image: Busy mom by Angela Waye/Shutterstock.com

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