Lately Ellie’s been regressing a bit. She’s crying like a baby about things like not being able to put the top on her water bottle or not getting the pink straw. She’s also been asking for help getting dressed when previously she loved doing it herself. She’s requesting that someone feed her during dinner, which is clearly not necessary. We’ve been trying to rationalize with her, but at the end of the day we find ourselves beating our head with redundancy. I know a part of parenting is saying the same thing over and over again and I know that’s what I signed up for. But lately I’ve been thinking there’s got to be a better way. And by better, I mean smarter and more clever. I tend to believe Brian and I should be able to come up with creative ways to out-wit our children – we’ve got to be smarter than toddlers, right?
Sometimes I doubt that to be honest. And sometimes it’s good to get help from people outside of our little tunnel. Hence, one of my first Mom Tricks:
1. The Star System: I remember my mom having a chore board for the week for everyone in the family. It was “fair,” which is what all pre-teens absolutely require. We did a chore and we got a sticker for it on the board. I was talking to a friend about Ellie’s recent regression and he said his sister started a star board for her three-nager. “It seems so obvious,” I thought afterward. But my sleep deprived, frustrated brain had not thought of it. So I started talking to Ellie about it. She was whining one night before dinner and I told her if she stopped whining she would get a gold star. She stopped immediately. “Sold,” I thought, “I’ll take ten!” So tonight, this is what I made:
This whole situation made me think of what other Mom Tricks or Hacks I’ve used that other parents might want to know. I don’t have that many, so more importantly, I’d love to hear your comments on out of the box or just everyday tips/tricks that make life with toddlers easier! Here are a few things that seem to work okay for us:
2. The countdown calendar: When Brian or I have to travel for work (which by the way I absolutely dread…don’t tell my boss) we circle the day on the calendar the other one is going to return. Every morning when Ellie wakes up we go in and cross off the previous day so she can see how much closer we are to seeing each other.
3. Kisses and Hugs: Again, this may seem super obvious for some. Piper is one of those children who just absolutely HATES being restricted. We recently gave up completely on the high chair and getting her into the car seat is an everyday struggle. Sometimes the binky works, but as she’s getting older we’re trying to rely on that less. Sometimes a book or a toy works, but the golden ticket is usually the kiss monster. I kiss her on her belly and her face and she stops being a screaming plank. Ellie’s the same way; she knows now that when she’s upset a hug makes her feel better and she requests it almost every time she does something wrong, intentionally or accidentally.
4. Choices: This isn’t necessarily 100% effective, but sometimes giving them choices makes them feel like they’re in control of something. When Piper and I are rocking in her chair at night and she’s struggling to break loose and run amok, I ask her if she wants to get in her crib. She usually says “no” and calms down.
These are a few of the things that have worked for us, but there are so many more things I actually want to know. It may seem like I’m offering guidance here, but really I’m asking for it. What are some tricks for helping kids learn to not throw their food on the floor? Or only talk about poop in the bathroom? Or not pull their sister’s hair constantly? Or not scream at the top of their lungs in the car? Or spit on things other than the sink or outside? Or be perfect little angels all the time? Oh, there’s not a solution for that? Hmmm…I’m shocked.