Q: My infant keeps reaching down my shirt when I hold her. She is no longer nursing. It is kind of embarrassing! How can I break her of this habit?
A: This habit will eventually break itself, but it would be nice to speed things along.
There are most certainly many ways to discourage this behavior, but the small stuffed toy route is one that I’ve seen have the greatest success rate.
Get a soft, small (small enough to fit in your daughter’s hand, but not a choking hazard) stuffed toy and pop it down your shirt prior to picking up your daughter. She should be delighted when she discovers the hidden toy. Make sure you are consistent about hiding the toy before you pick her up. (And use the same toy each time so your shirt doesn’t become a treasure chest of toys!) She will soon become accustomed to finding the toy. Once you feel that she has successfully made the connection between holding the toy and you holding her stop hiding the toy. Keep the toy in your hand and give it to her instead of having her find it. “Oh here is your little lamb.” If you are really consistent with toy association your daughter should soon stop reaching in your shirt.
photo credit: Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL) via photopin cc
We think about living beyond our means as a financial matter, which most certainly it can be, but what about living beyond our means in our family life. Are we stretched so thinly that we are sacrificing quality of family life? If you over extended your limit on your credit card you would be billed accordingly and at some point credit would be denied. Not good, but what happens when you over extend in your family life?
Families today are pulled in so many directions- school, work, sports, after school activities, etc.
It is important to offer your child opportunities, but quality of family life is important too. Most families do not even eat a daily meal together. We are so busy giving our children opportunities that we have forgotten how to live within our own means.
Before you sign your child up for one more activity ask yourself, “Will this cause me to live beyond my means? Can we make this work without sacrificing quality of family life?” If the activity price was more than your financial ability you might say no to the one more activity. What if it is beyond your quality of life means? Having a not stressed out mom/taxi driver and time to really be together might just be more important than those extra violin lessons.
Q: My New Years Resolution is to get my children eating more fruits and vegetables. They are kind of picky eaters. Any suggestion?
A: I think I read somewhere that more salad supplies are sold in the month of January than any other month! More fruits and veggies must be a popular resolution, but it is a great one!
If your children are picky eaters (more posts in the future on how to address picky eaters) then you don’t want to turn them off completely by becoming a fruit and veggie dictator. This is no fun for you either. Instead start with something most children like: a smoothie.
We are huge smoothie drinkers at our house we all have one for breakfast (along with a bowl of granola) and I even pack smoothies in lunchboxes. And the beauty of a smoothie is if your blender is strong enough you can throw anything in it! We use a Vitamix brand blender and each morning I fill it with: kale, banana, spinach, orange, red grapes, plain greek yogurt, unflavored whey protein, pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, and some water- or a similar combination. Before my children head out the door for school they’ve almost already had all their fruits and veggies for the day. I use a combination of fresh and frozen fruits and in the winter I get the kale and spinach fresh from the garden.
Start your New Year with smoothies. It is an easy way to bring more fruits and veggies into everyone’s diet.
With the holiday season drawing to a close, retailers are marking down merchandise and filling the end caps with red-tagged items. Now is the time to build a Birthday Box.
Unlike the holiday season, birthdays and birthday parties come year round. And shopping for those birthday gifts can amount to a small fortune! A Birthday Box is a great way to save some money and involve your child in the birthday gift process.
Fill a lidded storage box with items purchased from the clearance section of your favorite retailer. These items may have been stocked by the store to be holiday gifts, but they can also be wonderful birthday gifts.
Once the box is stocked you are ready to re-price the items. Take into consideration your child’s budget. For young children 25 cents may be an expensive item. When your child needs a birthday gift to take to a friend’s party: go shopping in the Birthday Box. Let your child look through the box and purchase a gift with their own money. Selecting and purchasing the gift with their money enables a child to feel more connected with the giving process.
Take advantage of the retail markdowns and build a Birthday Box!
Q: Every year my mother in law gives my children things they don’t want or need for Christmas. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but should I tell her?
A: “It is the thought that counts” is so overused and often in a sarcastic manner. A better phrase might be: “Thinking matters.” It really does. Across the board. Thinking really does matter. Your mother in law is thinking about your children. That matters. Your children should be helped to think about how they respond when they open a less than desirable gift. That matters.
There is much more to gifts than getting what you want. When gifts are exchanged there is joy in the giving (it probably pleases your mother in law to give to your children) and there is an art in receiving. In fact occasionally receiving a less than desired gift is a great opportunity for a child to practice the art of receiving.
Your children should learn how to say thank you, not necessarily for the object but for the thinking that really does matter. A simple “Thank you” is always nice. Gushing is not necessary (unless it is truly felt). If, after the dust of the New Year settles, the gift is not something they will enjoy. They can always donate the gift and then they get to experience the joy of giving.
No, don’t say anything to your mother in law. Keep the peace. Thinking matters. But if this issue is really causing great stress for you perhaps in the future you could request that your mother in law honor your children with a special day together (lunch out, movie, day at a park etc.) Or ask that a charitable donation be made in your child’s name in lieu of a gift.
Side note on charitable giving: Giving to charity can be a bit abstract for children. Charities like Kiva (I’m a big fan), a micro loan charity, help bridge that gap and get the child involved. The child can choose to whom their investment gift is donated. When their loan is repaid they can cash out or reinvest. Great economy lesson opportunity too!