Author Archives: Guest Author

Toddlers and Self-Control: A Survival Guide for Parents

boystakingturnsPulling the dog’s tail after you’ve told your child not to touch it. Hitting a friend who took the train she didn’t want two minutes ago. Running across the street after you’ve asked him to go together. These are typical moments that all come down to one thing: self-control, and toddlers’ lack of it.Expecting more from children than they are capable of can lead to lots of frustration and stress for both parents and children.

“Last night, my son had the biggest tantrum…I ended up giving in. But, I’m like, ‘Why am I doing this?’ Up against my son, I feel like I’m out of control. I don’t know if it’s the age or the stage, or I should have better parenting skills, but all the time I just feel so powerless.” (Rebecca from Washington, DC)

If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Findings from a major research endeavor, Tuning In — conducted by ZERO TO THREE and The Bezos Family Foundation — revealed that thousands of parents of children five years and younger overestimate toddlers’ ability for self-control.

  • Over half of all parents (56 percent) believe children have the impulse control to resist the desire to do something forbidden before age three.
  • Over a third (36 percent) believe that children under age two have this kind of self-control. Brain research shows that these skills start developing between 3.5 and 4 years, and take many more years to be used consistently.
  • Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of all parents believe that children are able to control their emotions, such as not having a tantrum when frustrated, at one year or younger.
  • Almost half (42 percent) believe children have this ability by two years. Research shows this type of self-control is also just starting to develop between 3.5 and 4 years, and that it takes many more years for children to master the ability to manage their feelings. (And some of us adults are still working on this skill!)

So why do young children have so little self-control? The part of the brain responsible for exerting control over the emotional, impulsive part is not well developed in children under three. This is why toddlers are much more likely to act on their desires, such as yanking a toy out of a friend’s hand, rather than ask nicely for a turn.

Remember too that being able to recite a rule — Hands are not for hitting — is not the same as being able to follow it. Clever, verbal two-year-olds make it easy for parents to have an “expectation gap” since they seem to understand so much. But life with your toddler will be more joyful and less maddening when your expectations are in line with his abilities — when you see that your child is acting his age, and that he needs help to learn to manage his impulses. He is not purposefully trying to drive you crazy, as much as it may feel that way.

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Why Does My Baby Wake Up When I Put Her Down?

By Kelly Winder 

Why Does My Baby Wake Up When I Put Her Down?

It’s many a parent’s frustration: your baby has finally fallen asleep in your arms, and you want to put her down so you can have a break, go to the toilet or even feed yourself! You quietly tiptoe towards your baby’s bed, doing your very best not to disturb her. At a painfully slow speed and with super smooth motion, you lower her into bed. But no, the minute she hits the mattress, she looks at you with those, ‘I can’t believe you tried put me down!’ puppy dog eyes. She’s wide awake. It’s all over. She wants to be back in your arms. No matter how many times you try, or how deep a sleep you think she is in, it happens again. And again. Why? Why Does My Baby Wake Up When I Put Her Down? There are two main reasons: Firstly, it’s important to understand that a baby’s sleep cycle is different from that of an adult. It takes up to 20 minutes for babies to reach a deep sleep. This means your baby will wake easily, if disturbed before this time. Part of the problem could be you’ve tried to put your baby down too soon. However, some parents find that even waiting longer doesn’t seem to help – which brings us to the second reason. Unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on how you look at it — it’s not something you can control or change. –

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The most important thing you’re teaching your child

by Aha Parenting

“Whenever I held my newborn baby in my arms, I used to think that what I said and did to him could have an influence not only on him but on all whom he met, not only for a day or a month or a year, but for all eternity – a very challenging and exciting thought for a mother.”  — Rose Kennedy

Most parents take their job as teachers very seriously. We teach our kids colors. ABCs.  Taking turns. Right from wrong.

But sometimes we don’t even notice a much more important lesson we’re imparting to our children: how to manage their feelings, and therefore their behavior. This is the basis of emotional intelligence (EQ), which will determine their quality of life much more fundamentally than their IQ.

Kids learn how to manage “big feelings” when we:

  1. Stay calm and kind in the face of their upset.
  2. Accept their feelings even while we limit their actions.
  3. Respond to their anger with compassion, so they can show us the tears and fears behind their anger.

Research shows that their brains learn to self soothe through this process. Eventually, they learn to stabilize themselves even in the face of stressful situations and emotions.

That’s the unconditional love that we all know every child needs.

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why being a mom is enough.

by Rachel at Finding Joy

I’m talking about simply being a mom.

I’m talking about getting up in the morning, slapping your face with water, looking in the mirror, sighing, brushing your teeth (maybe), and picking up that toddler and wandering into the kitchen and pouring cereal in bowls, rinsing dishes, kissing the top of their head, and waiting for your coffee to brew.

There isn’t much glamour.

There is you. You giving of yourself. Minute, by minute, by minute, by minute until those hours add up to create a day which adds up to create a week which adds up to create a month which adds up to create years which add up to create a life. A beautiful life filled with ordinary enough mom moments.

Somehow in this mixed up media world of things to do and places to go and dreams to follow the beauty of simply being a mother is completely lost.

Being a mom is enough.

It’s enough, I say.

Sometimes we want to look to those big things and use them as a grade for success. We look at the cool science fair projects where our child got the blue ribbon. But, honestly, we miss the hours of interacting and holding glue sticks and looking up things and laughing side by side. We want the trips to Disney or American Girl Doll and discount the time spent in the backyard. The bar of success and joy and happiness gets pushed so high by culture that the little things, the enough mom moments, are lost.

Do you know what matters?

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Know a parent who is struggling? Here are 8 ways to help.


Whether your friend has had a miscarriage, found out her child has autism, or is struggling through a spouse’s deployment overseas with a newborn at home (been there, done that!), it’s easy to misstep when you are trying to help.

The most common well-meaning offense is the vague, “Let me know how I can help.” It’s better to make a tangible and real offer of something specific, so you’re not putting the weight of decision-making on someone who’s already burdened. The best way to help is to say something very specific, such as “Are you allergic to anything? I’m bringing you dinner,” or “When can I watch your kids so you can go get groceries? Tuesday?”

As I write this, my husband, a chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves, is doing his annual training for a month away from me and our two toddlers. Our air conditioning broke during a humid heat wave and I twisted my ankle. We live in the Midwest and our families are on both coasts, so I flew with the kids to see grandparents for two weeks but now I’m home and leaning heavily on friends. Certainly, there are those who fare worse. But if you have someone in your life who could use a little help (and love!), here are a few ideas.

Do your research. Is your friend the kind of person who loves surprises or prefers planned things? What is on her wish list (quality time; gifts; words of affirmation; acts of service; hugs)? Does she like watching movies? Taking baths? Time alone at the gym? Does she have a public wish list on a shopping website? Have a conversation about what can be helpful for her so you are assisting in ways that speak to her specifically. A couple of years ago, soon after my husband returned from Afghanistan, a neighbor learned that we had never had a Christmas tree in our five years of marriage — couldn’t afford it, didn’t have the appropriate accoutrements — and left a fully decorated tree on our deck for us to find. It’s hard to top her gesture, but she couldn’t have done it if she hadn’t done some research.

Pop over with a treat. Drop off a favorite coffee drink one morning. Call in the afternoon for a dinner order and pick it up from a local takeout place. Hand off home-cooked freezer meals or pre-peeled and sliced healthy finger foods — because it’s nice to have carrot sticks and cheese slices in lieu of junk food sometimes. Or drop off a DVD rental or flowers. These small gestures can carry someone through a tough day.

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Fred Rogers on Tragic Events

fredrogersWhen I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”


Tragic Events

In times of community or world-wide crisis, it’s easy to assume that young children don’t know what’s going on. But one thing’s for sure — children are very sensitive to how their parents feel. They’re keenly aware of the expressions on their parents’ faces and the tone of their voices. Children can sense when their parents are really worried, whether they’re watching the news or talking about it with others. No matter what children know about a “crisis,” it’s especially scary for children to realize that their parents are scared.

Some Scary, Confusing Images

The way that news is presented on television can be quite confusing for a young child. The same video segment may be shown over and over again through the day, as if each showing was a different event. Someone who has died turns up alive and then dies again and again. Children often become very anxious since they don’t understand much about videotape replays, closeups, and camera angles. Any televised danger seems close to home to them because the tragic scenes are taking place on the TV set in their own livingroom. Children can’t tell the difference between what’s close and what’s far away, what’s real and what’s pretend, or what’s new and what’s re-run.

The younger the children are, the more likely they are to be interested in scenes of close-up faces, particularly if the people are expressing some strong feelings. When there’s tragic news, the images on TV are most often much too graphic and disturbing for young children.

“Who will take care of me?”

In times of crisis, children want to know, “Who will take care of me?” They’re dependent on adults for their survival and security. They’re naturally self-centered. They need to hear very clearly that their parents are doing all they can to take care of them and to keep them safe. They also need to hear that people in the government and other grownups they don’t eveen know are working hard to keep them safe, too.

Helping Children Feel More Secure

Play is one of the important ways young children have of dealing with their concerns. Of course, playing about violent news can be scary and sometimes unsafe, so adults need to be nearby to help redirect that kind of play into nurturing themes, such as a hospital for the wounded or a pretend meal for emergency workers.

When children are scared and anxious, they might become more dependent, clingy, and afraid to go to bed at night. Whining, aggressive behavior, or toilet “accidents” may be their way of asking for more comfort from the important adults in their lives. Little by little, as the adults around them become more confident, hopeful and secure, our children probably will, too.

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