Archive for the 'Parenting' Category

Playpen as a Special Treat

In a 1943 edition of the Spokane Daily Herald, Myrtle Meyer Eldred touted the benefits of playpens: "Not only is the child free of possible physical injury but his behavior is not subjected to constant punishment, since what he does in his guarded play-place does not annoy the parent."

via How the playpen fell out of favor by Tom Vanderbilt, Slate Magazine


I use the playpen so sparingly (mostly when I need to go to the bathroom or cook) that my kids think it’s a special treat to be allowed in one!


Parenting How-To Videos

The New York Times says people are finding success with how-to videos teaching people how to fix leaky faucets, survive a bear attack, etc. Here’s a few I could produce for parents if anyone’s interested:

How to…

…tune out whining and complaining (from anyone of any age)
…wash a poopy bottom (the kids’ that is)
…get kids to sleep in less than 5 minutes
…resist junk food in the house
…keep flat surfaces clear of clutter

Any other requests?

Here’s one from Howcast on “how to deal with a screaming child while shopping”


Just Say No (to your child)

From a Kirk Martin newsletter:

“I have an important homework assignment for you tonight. Disappoint your child. On purpose. Say no just to say no.

Here’s why. Many parents give in to their child’s relentless whining, complaining and manipulation because it is expedient-it is "easier" in the moment. But that lack of personal integrity in the moment has long-term consequences. Parents who do this will then ask me to help make their kids stop whining. Not a chance if you have trained them that they can get whatever they want if they just badger you enough.

It takes emotional strength to say no to your child and see their disappointment. Many parents think they are just being mean.

Let me be blunt. If you cannot stand to disappoint your child, then your child controls you, your home and your life. And kids are simply not equipped to be in charge. That’s your job.

Here are 7 reasons to disappoint your child on purpose:

1. Your child needs you to be strong. You are supposed to be the one constant in your child’s life. They need to be able to rely on you, to trust your word, to know that when you say no, you mean it.

They need to know that their manipulations, crying and frowns cannot move you. If they can’t count on you, who can they count on? Remember, discipline is something you do FOR your child, not to them.

2. Build brakes into your child. Our kids are naturally impulsive, so we need to help them delay gratification. When we give them everything they want when they ask, it teaches them that life will treat them that way. Life doesn’t! You don’t always get what you want, especially when you want it. If you are training your child this way, they will be in for a rude awakening when they get older. And trust me, you can’t afford what they are going to want as they get older.

3. Save your strength. One reason we urge you to put an end to this whining and manipulation is that it will simply wear you down. Then you are left feeling emotionally bankrupt and unable to deal with the big issues. Take care of the smaller issues first.

4. Delaying gratification will show your children that their world will not end if they don’t have that candy bar or video game now. They need to know this deep inside. Waiting is good, waiting is right.

5. Stop impulsivity. Make a family rule that you never, ever buy anything that costs over $50 without waiting three days to think about it. It’s a great life lesson to live by.

6. Saying no and inciting a tantrum is a great opportunity. Yes, that’s what I said. When you say no and disappoint Junior, you’re going to get a beautiful tantrum. So embrace it. It is an opportunity to prove to yourself and your child that no matter what they try to do, they are not going to move you because you are the rock of stability they need.

7. The final reason may be the most important. If you listen to the fourth Parenting CD on getting your kids to be responsible for themselves, you will learn a powerful truth: that we as parents are NOT responsible for our kids’ happiness. It’s true. YOU are NOT responsible for making your kids happy. It’s impossible and it robs your kids of the contentment brought by learning how to be happy and satisfied in life.

I don’t have time to address this fully in the newsletter, but it is critically important for you to learn this. So begin today and learn to smile when you say, "No." Know deep inside you are helping your child, and yourself, to grow up into a stronger person.”


Difference between tantrums and meltdowns

ice cube Deborah Lipsky:

A meltdown is when behavior is beyond the individual’s control. Things have been spiraling out of control. They are overwhelmed at the situation and they have no control. Generally with a meltdown the person is not looking for a direct response from you. Afterwards there’s often a sense of remorse and regret.

A tantrum is a manipulative behavior, a scheme for a person to get their own way. Once the person gets their own way, there’s often a sense of satisfaction. It’s really hard to distinguish between a meltdown and a tantrum because sometimes a tantrum can lead into a meltdown.

…As a general guideline, if there is a true meltdown there should be no reward or consequence at all. If it is a behavioral tantrum then there should be an extreme consequence.

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How to Transform Your Child into a Genius

Professor of psychology Richard Nisbett, author of Intelligence and How to Get It:, suggests the following to increase your child’s IQ:

  1. Praise effort more than achievement
  2. Teach delayed gratification
  3. Limit reprimands
  4. Use praise to stimulate curiosity

Not as easy as it looks…. :(

~From How to Raise Our IQ by Nicholas Kristof in the NY Times


Monkey See, Monkey Do

Rhesus monkeys by BBC World Service Bangladesh Boat.

Now I know where we humans get it from. The threat of public humiliation can be too much to handle and kids know just how to push our buttons.

When moms and babies weren’t close to other monkeys, rebuffed babies that started shrieking were allowed to nurse 39 percent of the time, the researchers found. With just relatives nearby, the babies’ luck rose to 53 percent. But with unrelated onlookers that outranked mom in the dominance hierarchy, babies won the tantrum 81 percent of the time.


And although the following refers to monkey onlookers I’m sure you’ve seen humans behaving in similar ways when they see children flipping out in public.

The onlookers seemed bothered and on occasion made threatening gestures, or even chased, grabbed or bit the mother or the infant.

Advice to rhesus monkey (and human) mothers: Never give in. Kids quickly learn to manipulate you with tantrums. Stay calm and hightail it home immediately if possible. (See some great advice over at Empowering Parents.)

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Shame on the Parents

Try telling this to East Asian parents:

Shame is usually viewed as a maladaptive emotion. Shame refers to a negative focus on aspects of the “self” in response to a wrongdoing (”I’m a horrible person for doing that”). In contrast, guilt can be adaptive or maladaptive. Guilt refers to a focus on the wrongdoing which, in adaptive guilt, leads to reparation (e.g., “I feel bad for what I did and I should apologize”).

~Child Psychology Research Blog

For more on the Asian parent mindset, see this article by Wen-Mei Chou and Harris Ty Leonard – Fix My Children: Working With Strong-Minded Asian Parents (pdf).

For more on shaming, see “Good” Children – at What Price?

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About Mom and Dad

Here’s what Stephen thinks about Marv and me.

1. What is something mom always says to you?
Do not hit or swear.
Dad: Don’t use the K [kill] word.

2. What makes mom happy?
When I do nice things and be polite and respectful. And say please and thank you.
Dad: When I don’t use the K word.

3. What makes mom sad?
When I hit, swear, or I get in trouble.
Dad: N/A (He just learned what N/A means and loves to use it)

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
When you burp. When sometimes you sing funny songs. That’s all.
Dad: When he burps.

5. What was your mom like as a child?
You were just like me.
Dad: Older.

6. How old is your mom?
Dad: 37

7. How tall is your mom?
Dad: 1000 cm

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Dad: work

9. What does your mom do when you’re not around?
Be bored
Dad: Do his work

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
The smartest woman in the world.
Dad: Soccer

11. What is your mom really good at?
Dad: soccer

12. What is your mom not very good at?
Dad: Work

13. What does your mom do for her job?
Emails and writing
Dad: Work, managing

14. What is your mom’s favorite food?
(NA) Everything
Dad: everything

15. What makes you proud of your mom?
When you don’t get angry.
Dad: because he does his work w/o complaining

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Ben 10’s cousin, Gwen
Dad: Spike the bulldog from Tom and Jerry

17. What do you and your mom do together?
Go swimming
Dad: Lego and swimming

18. How are you and your mom the same?
We both like to read
Dad: We both like Star Wars

19. How are you and your mom different?
Because I’m the one that’s picky and you eat everything
Dad: He doesn’t like Ben 10

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
When you kiss me or hug me
Dad: when he makes me laugh

21. Where is your mom’s favorite place to go?
Thai Express
Dad: NA

via Sheryl


Bugaboo Baby Blanket

I’m a babywearing mama. I haven’t used a stroller since Stephen was about 6 months old. Yet even I know that among strollers, Bugaboo is an elite brand (although I keep typing it as Bugabook).

So it was pretty amusing when BuzzParadise contacted me to see if I’d be interested in a Bugaboo giveaway. No, I didn’t get one of their $800 strollers but I did receive a Bugaboo micro fleece blanket and a 1GB iPod Shuffle. Thanks!

What’s doubly amusing is that we currently live in tropical Singapore where temperatures rarely drop below 76F/24C and is more often in the 80’s/26+C. But that doesn’t mean baby blankets are obsolete. Shopping malls have their air conditioning going full blast and we sleep in air conditioning as well.

Baby blankets also have a myriad of other uses including diaper changing pad and sun shade. I have even used baby blankets to stem the flow of breast milk when I don’t have a towel or burp cloth handy. (Oops. TMI?)

With both kids, my favorite baby blanket has been one I made myself – the piece of hemmed flannel you see wrapped around Stephen below. It’s lightweight, soft, cheap, and made with motherly love!


But I can’t say that it’s quite as stylish as the Bugaboo micro fleece blanket which comes in 8 bright colors. I have orange and it’s brilliant. Maybe I should get a stroller to match? ;)

Nah. If Bugaboo comes out with baby slings, I’ll have a look. Meanwhile, my baby will hitch a ride with me in slings.


Megan sits pretty here in a Zolowear sling.

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Abandoning Children

In addition to protecting “dumpster babies,” Nebraska’s safe haven law allowing parents to leave a child at designated hospitals without being prosecuted has lead to teenagers being abandoned as well.

From BBC News:

One father left his four daughters and five sons, the oldest being 17.

His one-year-old daughter was the youngest of the 34 children abandoned between 13 September and 14 November, according to Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services.

Other families have driven to Nebraska from other States to drop off a five-year-old boy, an 11-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl.

One mother wrote to the Omaha World-Herald explaining her reasons for abandoning her son:

I did not leave my child under the safe haven law because I did not want to be a parent, nor did I not want the responsibility of being a parent.

I was using the law because my son is a danger to himself and the family at home. I also stated [to officials] I took him to the hospital I did because he needed more help than I am able to give him.