Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wrangling Small Children- Things You May Not Have Thought Of

Sometimes with small mobile children, it seems like you'll never be able to catch them long enough and keep them in one spot to get anything done. I know I sometimes have my days where I feel like just keeping Eli (my spirited 2 1/2 year old) safe and happy could take a tribe of adults! With a little bit of planning ahead and a few good ideas in your back pocket, your day can flow much more smoothly. I spoke with a couple groups of wise women that have been there and done that, and got some great tips I'd love to share.

Tip 1: Always Give a Choice

Rather then saying, "Eli...What would you like to drink?" Say instead, "Eli...Would you like juice, or milk?"

You're then allowing your child to make decisions for themself without overwhelming them with too much information. They feel like they're taking an active role in what happens in their life.

Tip 2: Use Distractions!

If it's time to leave somewhere or time to stop doing something and your toddler isn't compliant, use distraction. Here's a great example from a mom I spoke with:

Whenever I have to leave somewhere with *my son (like the park or somewhere else fun), I always say, "Let's go see if we can find a fire truck (or a bus)..." and I'm not lying because we live in a city, so we will definitely see a bus and sometimes even a fire truck *My son is obsessed with the moon, so if we are at a friend's house and it's getting dark when we have to leave, I'll say, "Let's go chase the moon with our car!" and *my son loves it.

Another mommy had this great tip for diaper changes and distraction:

I have been wrestling my 14 month old *son through diaper changes for about 2 months now. I found that I could distract him with a "forbidden" toy long enough to change his diaper before he did the flip. After running out of relatively safe forbidden toys in the general area of the changing table I was at a loss! So I made a little basket of random things that he otherwise wouldn't play with and put it next to the table. In the basket I have: a hot pink elastic hair band, one of his old baby shoes that doesn't fit, some blocks, the cover to his thermometer, and his absolute favorite - a box of sterile pads. Once we are done diapering I usually say something about leaving the "toy" there for next time and I usually don't get too much of an argument. If I notice something throughout the day that is not really a toy but he has become attached to I put it in the box for next time. Works like a charm!

And here's a great idea for teeth brushing (I need to try this one!):

When they don't want to brush their teeth, pretend there is a green polka-dotted elephant in their mouth that you MUST find. I got this idea from another *mama and it has worked WONDERS.

Tip 3: Prevention, Prevention, Prevention!

I received this feedback from many mamas! Prevention and distraction almost go hand and hand. If you know your toddler isn't in love with a certain activity (diaper changes, bath time, getting dressed, going to the store, etc etc etc), have a plan of action beforehand! If you go into said activity empty handed, you'll have a mess on your hands almost everytime. This makes for an angry/upset mama and toddler.

Here's my example of prevention:

My son RUNS. That wouldn't be as much of an issue if he was my only child, but I also have an 8 month old. When I go grocery shopping (which I do often, I'm one of those weirdos that only buys food for a couple of days at a shot or else all my veggies go bad- I suppose that's a whole 'nother story), I MUST park next to a cart return. If I'm near a cart return, that allows me to immediately grab a cart to put Eli in before I even take him out of the car (I don't know if you've ever tried to pick up a toddler that's trying to run out into the street while you have a baby in a sling, but it's not so nice to the back). Eli goes straight into the cart, Asher (the little guy) goes into the sling, everyone is safe and strapped in where I can get to them, and no one runs in front of a car. Not only that, but when you come back to put your groceries in the car, you can easily return your cart without abadoning the children.

As for putting two small children to sleep (I know that's pretty specific), I still struggle and I'd love to get any tips you have in our comments box! I always try to put the littlest one to bed first, then cue the toddler a. jumping on the bed, b. screaming in his brother's face, c. wanting to "snuggle" with his brother (which is sweet, but he snuggles ON TOP of you practically, which doesn't help to keep a baby asleep long).

I was given the tip that I should put the toddler to bed first (the baby can't jump on the bed yet!) I'm going to try that out and I'll report back at a later date...

Tip 4: Offer Them Something Fun To Do!

If you have something important to do (take care of the baby, deal with wahm business, cook, clean, etc etc), give your toddler something fun to do in the meantime! (This also falls under distraction and prevention!)

If you're cooking, give your child something in the kitchen to play with! Eli panics when I gate him out of the kitchen and I'm in there, so I'll be utilizing this tip soon:

Flour and beans are a tots best friend. A layer of flour in the bottom of a pan along with some small cars/trains/wood animals can entertain one toddler for hours. Three bowls of different sizes, some spoons or scoops and some dried beans will give you enough time to clean the kitchen, cook supper, clean up after cooking and then some.

Please- If you have any tips you'd like to share, feel free to post them in the comments!

Good luck to all you fabulous mamas- I'm sure you need it as much as we do!

(* = quote has been changed slightly to make sense to those of you who may not speak the lingo.)

1 comment:

Kathy Slattengren said...

I love your tips! When my daughter was a preschooler we let her help make dinner. It could be tearing lettuce, taking the tops off of strawberries or some other easy task. She really enjoyed being part of the action ... and now she's a great cook at 16-years-old!