Thursday, March 24, 2011

understanding my toddler

I have no standard to compare my child to.  Is he overly rambunctious?  Is he a calm and happy child?  I have no reference.  So, on those days (when I'm far from patient to begin with) and I'm getting on to david just about every other minute I can get really disheartened.  Is my method effective?  I'll switch methods looking for the miracle "my-toddler-is-now-an-angel-because-of-this-method.  Nothing has worked perfectly.  He still does what he does.  Shall I worry that my son is a future delinquent?  I do sometimes.  Or is this behavior normal toddler antics at work? 

Below is a list of normal toddler behaviors that gave me hope, a reference, and an understanding.  I've read some of this before but I forget from time to time and need to revisit it.  With that, I need to revisit the gospel and know that for all "normal" toddler behavior is a sinner in need of grace (which looks like discipline and tenderness) and there isn't a miracle cure.  He will often struggle to honor his parents.  Don't we as parents struggle to honor our Father in heaven?  I know I do.  Anyhoo, maybe you have a toddler too and might find this helpful.  Maybe you are someone who knows someone with a toddler and could use a little understanding as too why "that boy/girl" is unruly.  Give those parents and those kids a break.  My toddler isn't finished yet.  We are working on him/with him to raise him to love the Lord and others.  We aren't finished as parents either.  This is a process that takes decades not a couple of years.  Ok, I'm digressing.  Here you go.  If you want more info, you can go to .


To cope with toddler behavior it helps to remember the basic principle of developmental discipline: the drive that babies have to develop is the same one that creates discipline challenges.

1. Wheels to run on

Imagine how it must feel to learn to walk! He can see all those tempting delights around the room, and he finds ways to get his hands on many of them. once the developmental skill of walking appears, children have an intense drive to master it. So toddlers toddle—constantly. And they can toddle into unsafe situations. Walking progresses to running, and climbing a few stairs turns into scaling kitchen counters.

2. Hands as tools

Along with learning how to pick up things, the one- year- old baby develops hand skills to manipulate what he gets. Doors are to be opened, knobs turned, drawers pulled, dangling cords yanked, and waste cans emptied. Everything within walking and grabbing distance is fair game, or so he figures. To the inquisitive adventurer, the whole house is an unexplored continent, and he intends to leave no stone unturned.

3. Out of the mouths of babes

The development of language—verbal and body— makes parenting a bit easier. Baby can now begin to tell you what she needs with words. This new skill is a mixed blessing. While baby words are entertaining, they can also be frustrating as the parents struggle to understand just what "da-boo" means. Toddlers like to try on different noises to hear how they sound and how they affect their audience. They screech and squeal, yell and jabber. Sometimes their little baby words are pleasing to your ears, and at other times they are nerve-wracking. Language also gives expression to feelings; a feisty "no" from your formerly agreeable child can raise your eyebrows.

4. A mind of their own

Toddlers think, but not logically. Just as motor skills take off during the first half of the second year, toward the last half mental skills blossom. The one-year-old plunges impulsively into activities without much thinking. The two-year-old studies her environment, figuring out a course of action in her head before venturing forth with her body. But a baby's desire to do something often precedes the ability to do it successfully. This developmental quirk drives toddlers into trouble and caregivers to the brink. Even though you know that baby hasn't mastered a skill yet, your explanation won't stop him from trying. For example, one morning our son Stephen insisted on pouring his own juice. He had the ability to maneuver the cup and pitcher, but lacked the wisdom to know when the cup was full. He did not want us to pour it for him, so we let him stand at the sink and pour water into cups while we poured the juice at the table. After a pouring party at the sink, he accepted my hand on his hand and followed my nudge for when to stop pouring.

During the second year your baby's temperament will become more apparent. "Bubbly," "daredevil," "determined," "cautious," and "adventurous" are just a few of the labels toddlers acquire. Children come wired differently, and different kinds of children need different kinds of discipline. Matthew, a relatively cautious toddler, seemed to think out a task carefully before attempting it. If he got himself in too deep he would not protest being rescued. our two-year-old Lauren came wired with a different program. She sees an enticing gadget on top of the kitchen counter and she is willing to risk life and limb to get it. Because of her personality, we don't often let her out of our sight. Her drive helps her keep going, to get up after falling, to persist after being told "no," to struggle with words to make her needs known. It also inspires her to climb higher if the cookie jar has been promoted to the top shelf. The parents' task, in the words of one frazzled toddler manager, is to "keep my child from breaking his neck, and yet encourage him to learn." Think "age-appropriate behavior" and you'll be able to give age-appropriate direction.

5. Some challenging behaviors are developmentally correct

In the normal course of development those same behaviors the child needs to developmentally advance to the next level are the very ones that can get him into trouble. As a child goes from dependence to independence, he will often merit labels like "defiant," "won't mind," "bossy," "sassy," and "impulsive." Some of these behaviors are simply a byproduct of the child's need to become an independent individual. And the "stubbornness" that keeps your child from "minding" is the same spunk that helps him get up after a fall and try again.

6. Get in "phase" with your child

Developing children take two steps forward and one step backward. In each stage of development, they bounce back and forth from equilibrium to disequilibrium. While they're stepping forward into uncharted territory, finding new friends, trying new things, expect discipline problems due to the anxiety that tags along with experimenting. In each stage, expect the calm to come after the storm. The same child who spent two months in a snit may act like an angel for the next three. This developmental quirk can work to the child's advantage and yours. Spot which phase your child is in. If he's trying to move away and grow up a bit, let out the line. During this phase, your child may seem distant from you; she may even answer back and defy you. Don't take this personally. This phase will soon pass. The child is just in the "do it myself" phase and needs some space and coaching (including correcting) from the sidelines.

One day soon, as sure as sunrise follows nightfall, you'll find your child snuggling next to you on the couch asking for help with tasks and suggesting activities you can do together. You may even wake up one morning and discover your six-year-old nestled next to you in bed. This child is now in a reconnecting phase, a pit stop in the developmental journey when your child needs emotional refueling.

When parents and child are out of harmony, discipline problems multiply. If your child is trying to break away when you are trying to bond, you are likely to overreact to what may be normal behaviors of independence. If you are too busy while your child is in the reconnecting phase, you miss a window of opportunity to strengthen your positions as comforter, adviser, authority figure, and disciplinarian.

7. Respect negative phases

Projects such as toilet training should not be undertaken during a negative phase.

8. Plan ahead

Discipline problems are likely to occur when a child is making the transition from one developmental stage to another, or during major family changes: a move, a new sibling, a family illness, or so on. I recently counseled a family whose previously sweet child had turned sour. The mother had started a new job, and at the same time the child started a new school. If possible, time major changes in your life for when a child is not going through major changes herself.

9. What is "normal" may not be acceptable

"I don't care what the book says, Bobby and Jimmy, fighting is not going to be normal in our home," said a mother who knew her tolerance. Part of discipline is learning how to live with a child through different developmental stages. A child's early family experience is like boot camp in preparing for life. A child must learn how to get along with family members in preparation for future social relationships. He needs to be adaptable and learn to adjust his behaviors to a particular family need. Billy is boisterous by temperament. Yet, Billy is expected to play quietly for a few days because mommy is recovering from an illness and has a headache. It is healthy for the child to learn that the sun rises and sets on other people besides himself. Children must learn to adapt to house rules to prepare them to adjust to society's rules.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

a song of praise

and perhaps you are thinking from an unlikely source, U2.  However this is one of many praise songs that U2 has written over 30 years.  When others put songs or poems on their blogs I rarely read it (unless it was actually written by the blogger) and often skip to the written parts but even knowing that others might do the same I still want to put it up. 
The song is called 'All Because of You':

I was born a child of grace

Nothing else about the place
Everything was ugly but your beautiful face
And it left me no illusion

I saw you in the curve of the moon
In the shadow cast across my room
You heard me in my tune
When I just heard confusion

All because of you
All because of you

All because of you,
I Am

I like the sound of my own voice
I didn't give anyone else a choice
An intellectual tortoise
Racing with your bullet train

Some people get squashed crossing the tracks
Some people got high rises on their backs
I'm not broke but you can see the cracks
You can make me perfect again

All because of you
All because of you

All because of you
I Am

I'm alive
I'm being born
I just arrived, I'm at the door
Of the place I started out from
And I want back inside

All because of you
All because of you

All because of you
I am
See the double meaning in 'I am'.  I am who I am because of Him and He is the great 'I AM'.  Very clever writing.  This is one of David Sr.'s favorite U2 songs.  It isn't my favorite song but I have a hard time picking favorites with this band.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


So, this year I thought I would follow my husband's example and give up something for lent (last year he gave up sugar and this year he is giving up sugar and fried foods, in case you were curious).  I decided that it would be beneficial to give up morning television.  I actually don't watch morning television but my son does.  So what I'm really giving up is morning cartoons.  Cartoons that allowed me to wake up a bit more, take snoozes when needed, eat breakfast in peace and just lounge.  I relied on morning cartoon a bit more since this pregnancy because of the energy I had (or didn't have).  Yesterday morning I had the t.v. on before I even remembered that it was ash wednesday, the beginning of the lentel season (did I spell that right?  I know it isn't spelled like the bean).  David Jr. slept a little later (8am) and we were halfway through SuperWhy on PBS before I realized it.  Rather than interrupt the cartoon right away I waited until it was over and turned it off with nary a peep from my toddler.  It also helped that we were going to church that morning for bible study and he would get to play in nursery, which he loves.  That took up the first morning since we were home by noon and he fell asleep in the car on the way home. 

Today (day 2) we didn't have the t.v. on and david didn't even ask for it.  I was surprised.  I thought he would have felt the absence more but I'm thankful that on top of not having the luxury of just sitting quietly I didn't have to work extra hard to distract a toddler from his desires for cartoons.  I expect the coming week to be easier too since david sr. will be home for spring break.  The t.v. is rarely on during the day when my husband is home.  Probably because we are all more preoccupied and my loneliness for people is less palpable. 

Speaking of spring break, we have an intimidating list of to-do's for it.  I am excited to be getting stuff done but realize that if we get it all done we will be exhausted.  If we don't, which is more likely, we'll still have to figure out when and how to get it done between now and baby #2.  Our list consists of tiling our kitchen backsplash.  Ourselves.  Yea, this could get ugly.  Also, we have some furniture rearranging to do (not a big deal) and some furniture painting.  Gardening is also part of our list.  Which I really look forward to.  I hope for superb weather--sounds divine.  I have to gather, clean, register, and tag our consignment items for the children's consignment that will happen the week after.  Those are the bigger tasks but there are many many less big tasks (but not small).  Getting David to sleep in his "big boy bed" at night, re-covering dining room chairs, making curtains for kitchen and laundry room, finishing curtains for nursery and guest rooms (close but still need some attention), dr's appts, and more!!! 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

preterm paranoia

After David jr. came 6 wks early I am more watchful/wary/worried about every sensation pregnancy brings from here on to the end of my pregnancy.  The problem is that I'm 30 wks along and it is hard to avoid strange and unusual sensations since there is, afterall, a person growing inside of me that moves.  I think that I have been having Braxton-hicks contractions so this adds to my trepidation.  What if this is the beginning of preterm labor?  What is going to happen to David jr. if I have to be in the hospital for a week or more?  Who will take over my class?  David sr. suggested we come up with a plan over spring break and then asked if the baby can wait that long.  I wish I had the answer to that.  I haven't gotten into the hospital and I already miss my little boy.  This will be the first time I leave him overnight and I don't like it.  I wish he could come with us (and honestly, I haven't ruled that out completely yet). 

I do take comfort in the fact that many people are praying for us and I know it!  I know they are praying for this baby to go to term.  Thank you so much, guys!  You know who you are!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

driving through

Places I wish had a drive-through and should thoroughly consider it for mamas who have kids in car seats:

1)  the post office
2)  restaurants other than fast food, like newks or mcallisters
3)  shops that do car inspection stickers
4)  grocery stores (just for staples that are a rarely on sale anyway)

wouldn't that be grand?