As we all know, kids don’t come with a manual and there is no “right or wrong” when raising a child (wait, there is, I’m not talking about the obvious “wrongs”). When they are born it is sort of easy and basic: feed, clean, keep warm (but not too warm), love. When they become miniatures of adult, it gets
very extremely freaking difficult. So, of course, some parents look for help. Books, Supernanny, grandparents, internet, God,…
Here in our home is a mix of everything. A lot is common sense + our personal belief on what raising a toddler is/should be + tips found in books and on the internet + ideas exchanged with other parents/health visitors/grandparents/Supernanny.
Laura is an adorable girl, very clever, sociable, funny, a bit shy, but she
can also be a pain in the ass has very strong personality and sometimes it can be quite hard to deal with her without shouting, swearing, leaving the room (who’s the kid here?). So, let me share you a couple of things we are trying with her at the moment:
1) Sleep training clock. I got a GroClock, but there are others in the market. A very simple concept: when the clock shows the stars and the light is blue, it’s sleep time; when it’s the sun on screen, it’s wakey wakey time. Simple and easy to follow.
Findings so far: Laura loved the concept. We turn on the “sleep time” together, so she sees the transition between the sun (it winks before turning into stars) and the stars and it means that it is story time. When I put her to sleep, which is not that often, she sleeps quite quickly (say, in 30 minutes). She still wakes up early (I set the clock to “wake up” at 7am), but some days she managed to go after 7am and came to our room all happy to say that the sun was up and we should get up as well.
Conclusion: I think it is still early days, but I am hopeful that her sleep will improve before teenagehood (when I’ll probably fight to get her off bed before 10am).
2) Reward chart. A more crafty mother could have done something similar and probably better than this, but I’m a loser when it comes to arts and crafts and I wasn’t inspired to try to create one with Laura. I think it is a great thing to make together with the child. This one comes with 19 activities (why not 20?), but it is possible to write others using the pen provided (it’s easy to wipe out) and it can be used for up to four kids (hmmmmmmmmm, no, two is enough), it comes with a bunch of stars and everything is magnetic. Everything except the actual board – I would love if it was and I could stick it on the fridge door. But it comes with some sticky pads or you can use nails/screws.
Findings so far: it says that it is from age 3 to 11, so Laura being 3 is at the very bottom of the age group. Hopefully this is why it is a big hard to implement the concept here. She wants to play with the stars rather than get one for every activity done that day – when I turn my back, the stars are all over the chart, the activities have been misplaced, etc. This chart encourages the kid to behave well in order to get a reward (a cinema day, a toy, an ice cream, their favourite dish for lunch, etc) but Laura doesn’t understand this concept yet (or maybe she doesn’t want to).
Conclusion: I have to say that I have abandoned this for the moment, as I need to find a better way to work with it. Because she goes to the nursery 3 times a week, some of the tasks are not relevant all the time. I’ll resume the works when we are back from holidays and will review the areas I need her to improve or behave well.
3) Show and tell. Tell and show. Laura is at an age where she is very intelligent and understands very complex things. I’m really surprised how I can explain certain things to her and, if she is in the mood, she pays attention and knows exactly what I am talking about and follows instructions easily. But she is a child and children sometimes choose not to listen. So I have been trying to explain the same thing several times in different situations, when she is in a bad mood, when she is in a great mood, when it’s raining, sunny… I always ask her to look at me so I know she is paying attention to what I am saying. It is easy, but hard at the same time. It’s great when she shows that she understands what we are saying and cooperates. But when she decides she doesn’t want to listen… man, just pray you are not on PMS, because it can drive you nuts. As with everything related to children, you must persevere, otherwise it won’t work, neither now nor when they go to uni. It is good to give examples, to show pictures, etc. A simple example: I showed her how her teeth get very dirty when she eats and how they can cleaned when she brushes her teeth.
4) Eat your greens! I confess that this is the toughest thing for me, because I am not a person with healthy habits when it comes to eating. I HATE vegetables. So here is a tip that I follow at home, but I don’t want to preach as being very correct. Laura loves certain “naughty” foods, like bacon and olives. I cut them in small pieces and add a little one to each full spoon of food. Today she had a whole plate of vegetable soup (with broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and other things I don’t know what they are) just by adding olives to it. She even asked for more broccoli (because I said that broccoli was going to make her grow). By the way, one of the activities of the reward chart is “eat the food”.