Sunday, November 27, 2011

Raising your child for success

Last week, Bry and I are fortunate enough to have attended a parenting seminar at Ben's school.  The topic is how to raise your child to become successful.  Teacher Didi, presented tips on how to help your child attain a high eq based on resent behavioral studies.  Both Bry and I agreed that it was time well spent.  I just hope that we become consistent in applying what we have learned.  Here are the highlights:

No means No, no negotiations
You have to establish your authority towards your child early on.  This means being consistent. When you say no, you should really mean it.  As teacher Didi said, your child is not a lawyer, so do not allow him/her to bargain with you.  This also means you have to take into consideration your child's needs whenever you make rules/ routines.  Take for example the amount of time you set for playing with toys.  You want your child to follow you when you say stop but before you do, think about how much time he needs and warn him when the time is almost up so he'll be prepared.  It's better to let your child play for 15 minutes than intending him to play for 5 minutes only to have him ask for another 5 then another.  It can be frustrating but you have to think about the big picture.  Our kids will eventually become adults, and in the real world there are strict rules.   

Give well-earned and specific praises
We are so used to praising our kids with every little thing they do.  But praise can be a powerful tool not just for a kid's self esteem but to motivate him/her to work harder.  When praising, tell your child why you are complementing him.  I can clearly observe this in Ben's Little Gym class.  The teachers would not just say "Good job!" but "That's good walking, Ben!" or "Thanks for spotting Ben properly, mommy Nats".   We also heard an interesting suggestion about dealing with a child's artworks.  For example, it is better to praise specific improvements in artworks that just post each and every one on the wall.  You can acknowledge progressions such as using a variety of strokes or being able to color within the lines.

Allow your child to feel a healthy amount of frustration
It is hard to let your child feel upset, but there are cases when letting your child sort through some negative feelings can be helpful.  If  your child is experiencing a difficulty with a puzzle, don't quickly jump in to help, or offer comfort by talking about what to do after the activity.  If you eventually assist, talk about the activity and see how he/she can solve the puzzle.  We all are bound to encounter moments of frustration sooner or later.  The difference with successful adults is they were encouraged to persevere and accept that challenges are a normal part of life that can be conquered.  Praise your child for the effort he/she exerted to do a certain task.  "you must have worked hard to complete the puzzle"  This motivates him /her to try out more difficult tasks than telling him "You are so smart to have solved the puzzle"
Ben making a mess!!! Inappropriate Behavior or Just Curious?

You are not your child's best friend.  You are limit-setter, problem solver and coach
Tough, but true.  Lets say your child throws a tantrum inside a toy store.  It is tempting to just tell your child to stop crying then that's it.  Alternatively, you can try to take a step back, think about you child's pattern of behavior and tell him / her  " I know you are upset.  If you are hungry or sleepy, just tell mom so we can get a bite to eat and rest. " You do not just give in when your child is upset but find out why and coach him the proper way to express his feeings.

When a child does an inappropriate behavior, the consequence must be related to the behavior.  And offer rewards, too
If a child hits, let him make amends by saying sorry, giving the person he hurt a glass of water or tissue.  If he makes a mess, let him clean up or if he doesn't pack away, do not let him play with the toy he didn't put away next time.  These consequences are directly connected to the inappropriate acts and will get the message across faster than facing the wall or grounding.  It's easier said than done, though.  The same goes for rewards.  If your child is behaved properly while you are working on the computer, spend extra bonding time with him or her afterwards.

I guess that's it :) Thought I'd summarize the things I have learned so I won't forget them myself, haha!  have a great week, everyone!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

One Nap vs. Two Naps

Just sharing ...
If there is one thing I am looking forward as Ben turns two, it is that I can finally officially transition him to one nap a day.  Actually, I have to wait until the school year ends in March to adjust his routine.  Sigh .. getting him to sleep isn't as easy as before but I think it is worth the wait.  Here is why .. 

Ben's classes are in the afternoon and I want to make sure he enjoys his classes so I make sure he has a nap and a meal before his classes.  This is why I try very hard to get him to nap even for a short while in the morning.  As for his afternoon nap, since he woke up early in the afternoon, he is often sleepy before dinnertime.  Sleepy Ben = Dinner Disaster so I try to make sure he gets to rest before dinner so he will eat well.  Also, during the few times that he didn't want to sleep in the afternoon, he would usually wake up several times in the middle of the night which means no decent sleep for me... boooooo

Generally speaking, all is good.  It's just that putting him for a nap when he is not yet sleepy can be very tiring.  This is especially when I know he needs his nap but clearly doesn't want one.  Thank God, breastfeeding is helpful but my sleep weapon isn't 100% effective anymore.  Time to get creative! Just recently, I ended up putting him to sleep while singing Selena Gomez 's Love You Like a Love Song.  It took a lot of restraint on my part not to laugh since he was singing along.  When he stopped singing, that was when I realized he was finally asleep.

Anyway, I am determined to change our routine by next year.  I already reserved him in the morning class for next school year, yehey!!! Hopefully all goes well :)

Any thoughts on what to do when 1 nap is not enough but 2 naps are too much?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ben and the beach :)

This year, we are quite fortunate to have been given the opportunity to take Ben to the beach twice.  Ben loves the beach, much like his gwakong (my father) and mama.  It's fun watching Ben play with the sand and brave the waves.  He has a tan now, hehe .. I guess that couldn't be helped given the amount of time we were in the sun .. at least he didn't get sunburned (yehey!).  Here are some photos as well as some tips for going to the beach with a little one.

1. Wear the proper attire and bring appropriate toys.  Ben enjoys his dump truck, shovel and rake.  Meanwhile Daddy and I are happy with with his rash guards and beach shoes. 

2. Sunblock Sunblock Sunblock! Our favorites: Shiseido Gentle Sun Protection Lotion and Indigo Baby's After Sun Gel.  The formulation of the Shiseido sunblock is safe of babies and doesn't feel sticky.  Meanwhile, Indigo Baby's After Sun Gel has a cooling effect that is quite soothing to the skin after being exposed to the sun.  (Note: I'm not specifically endorsing these products, nor am I paid to do so.  Just sharing a bit of our experience with them)

3. As much as possible avoid direct sunlight from 9am-3pm.  These are the hours of the day when the rays are most harmful.  Of course, sometimes it can't be help but it's good to know that it is advisable not to stay out side for too long during this time frame.  It was hard for us to get Ben out of the water but we did our best to maximize the best time to stay by the beach

4. Don't forget the meals and the naps.  Too much excitement can cause you and your little one to have so much fun that it's a challenge to make sure there is some rest time.  One thing I have learned with Ben is the more tired he is, the more he fights his sleep.  As for the meals, we finally tried not bringing home cooked food during our trip.  It was very challenging for me to because I have to gauge whether or not how much he ate was enough but we survived, haha!.  Bry and I also did our best to give him snacks in between like fruits or pastries. 

5. Safely Explore and Enjoy !!!  We're quite lucky Ben enjoys swimming in salt water.  We even got him to swim with us when we went snorkeling.  Imagine our pride when he saw a pawikan and said "turtle"! Being in the beach is one of the best opportunities to explore your child to the beauty of nature so make the most out of it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Ben's Halloween

Before anything else, allow me to thank family and friends who took the time out to vote for Ben's photo in the Res Toe Run's Halloween promo.  Sadly, we ended up in second place .... which is actually not a bad thing since we weren't the second highest number of votes.  This means, the judges liked Ben's costume and pose.  Still, we didn't win and end up with just bragging rights :( Anyway, if only I have time to thank everyone who voted individually, I would.  For now, know that we know who you guys are. (wink!) Believe me, I would refresh the webpage of Ben's photo almost every 5 minutes hoping a vote was added.  I really worked hard trying to get votes and appreciated those who took time to share the link with their own contacts.  Ben felt the LOVE :)!

Anyway, as promised, allow me to share about Ben's halloween. I never had thought much about it in the beginning since we were going out of town during the official halloween weekend.  However, Ben's school scheduled a trick or treat celebration so we had to prepare a costume for him.  Luckily, I was able to find a supplier online.  I like his pirate costume because it was quite comfortable and not as expensive as custom made ones, We bought his sword separately for effect.
Har! Har! Har! Our Little Pirate :)

Ben enjoyed his trick or treat at Explorations, the kids showed off their costumes around the school which allowed them to interact with children and adults aside from the ones in their class.  They also brought home a personalized bag of treats as souvenir.
Ben with his fellow Toddler Piglets at Explorations.  Photo courtesy of their class newsletter
And by another stroke of luck, I found out that Shangrila Mall's Halloween party is scheduled on Oct 23, a week before our trip. Perfect timing! We registered Ben and invited his cousin Basti.  The event was pretty organized. Each participant was given a list of shops to visit.  We ended up with lots of lots of sweets!  I was secretly hoping that we'd get more "non-candy" stuff though,.. like cookies or maybe a simple toy, stickers or school supplies, hehe! The official giveaway of the event was quite cool, particularly the Angry Birds gift pack.  There were also a lot of food booths from the sponsors. We'll surely try it out again but next time we'll  bring our strollers along (as suggested by our  partners in crime, Basti's Mommy Jacq and Daddy Popoy :).
all set to Trick or Treat at Shangrila Mall

So there goes my Trick or Treat report :)  Writing about this entry gets me excited about Ben's costume for next year, haha!
so many goodies!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Challenges and Rewards of Extended Breastfeeding

"Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (November). For this month, participants share their experiences on extended breastfeeding.  This includes tips to moms with young babies, as well as barriers and myths which discourage extended nursing. Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants."

If someone told me during Ben's early days that I will be breastfeeding him during his second year, I would not have believed it.  I had such a tough start that I was counting the days until I reach the 6 month mark.

But time flies by so fast, before I knew it Ben turned 6 months, then I found myself planning for his first birthday.  And now, as he is about to turn two, I feel so blessed to be able to nurse him for as long as I have.  Allow me to share my views and experiences with nursing a toddler

The Challenges
When Ben turned 1, there were quite a number of people who were asking me when I'll be weaning him.  I get questions like "Doesn't it hurt?" or "Aren't you spoiling him?".  Then there's the "Woah, You still have milk" and "He's big enough already and doesn't need breastmilk" comments.   Sometimes, it is quite tempting to just ignore them but whenever I can, I try to see these instances as opportunities to show that it (1) it doesn't really hurt for the most part, (2) toddlers who are now mobile and more exposed to the outside world need all the protection they can get and (3) a breastfed child is not more clingy or dependent.  It was a challenge to discipline Ben not to bite when he first started teething but thankfully we got the hang of it.   As for the importance of breastmilk to a toddler, I had come to believe that by nursing Ben for as long as I have, I'm able to give antibodies that help him stay healthy. A single drop of breastmilk has a lot of germ-fighting cells in it and this is actually my main motivation for extended breastfeeding.  As for breastfed babies being extra clingy, this is a little tricky.  I guess I would have to say that during Ben's first few weeks at toddler school, I asked myself  whether our breastfeeding would be factor in his ability to adjust and trust other adults without me around. It didn't happen instantly but Ben did eventually became comfortable being at school without me around. From my observation of his class, each child conquers separation anxiety differently and breastfeeding doesn't make your toddler less confident or independent.
My secret weapon to get Ben to nap when on the road .. nursing ,... hehe (shhhhh ....)
The Rewards
The greatest reward for me when it comes to nursing Ben is his few sick days.  A healthy baby = A happy mommy = A happy home.  And if he does get sick, it's one of my weapons to make sure his stomach isn't empty despite his lack of appetite. Of course, there's the convenience of being able to feed your child anytime anywhere.  It makes traveling so much easier.  There's less stuff to put in the luggage and more ammunition to keep your child from being overstimulated with the excitement of new surroundings.  With Ben,  I know that when I nurse him a nap is just around the corner, or at the very least he gets to settle down and not be cranky.  And of course, there's the joy and fun of nursing a toddler who is able to express himself.  How do you say no to your child who tells you loud and clear that he wants "mum-mum" ? How do you not laugh when your child decides to nurse while reading a book or wearing his shades?  Don't get me wrong, I do intend to have a plan of action for that when the time comes that we are ready to wean (looking forward to it, too!) but maybe I'll stick with it for a little while longer.

How about you guys? What are your thoughts on toddler breastfeeding?

Please do visit the entries of my fellow mommy-bloggers below :)

J and the Three Boys - No more "de-de"
Life of a Babywearing and Breastfeeding Mommy - Still breastfeeding after 2 years
Got To Believe - Breastfeeding Room Story
Homeschooling Mommy - Yes, I've Got Milk