Studies are showing that when children learn how to meditate, they learn how to handle their emotions better and are capable of self-soothing when situations arise. No matter how old your children are, it’s never too late or too early to teach them a few practices. Teaching them also ensures that you are also taking some time out to do a bit of meditative practice. Here are some of the best tips I can give you on teaching your children this invaluable skill.
A friend of mine was recently trying to decide on if a toy purchase for her son was ‘’worth it’’. She didn’t want to start buying a bunch of useless toys for him to have her small house cluttered with kids stuff that was hardly used (a problem I can sympathize with).
My house is overrun with kids stuff. Our daughter is the first grandchild, niece, baby in a long time and people love buying baby stuff despite us asking not to. We have made it quite clear we would rather have a contribution to her education savings than another doll or stuffed animal but people feed off that immediate toddler smile and ‘’thank you’’. However over the years though, a few toys have come into our lives that we love and have had hours of fun playing with. Gifts I am so grateful for, or money I’m so glad we spent.
This is an easy one, but we’re big book lovers and I am all too happy to give another book a home.
Reading is very important to us and though we have a few favorites that rotate every few days, we love having new stories come into our lives. You can never go wrong with giving a child a book.
A few of our favorites from the last four years are the Oliva series; the Fancy Nancy series; Each Peach, Pear, Plum; Sandra Boynton (anything); Look and Find books (hours of fun playing eye-spy); A Very Hungry Caterpillar; The Kissing Hand; Are You My Mother and Sheep in a Jeep. I have hundreds of children’s books in my house and always looking for more! You may be able to find deals on these books using a ebay.ca coupon.
Play Food and Accessories
I think it was for my daughters first birthday that someone gave her a huge gift of pretend food and accessories (pots/pans/bowls/spoons). Over three years later and these are still going strong. Where it started out as a good learning toy- identifying shapes, colors and types of food, she now interacts with them and role-plays which is really fun. A huge hit in our house.
Toy Cash Register
This was a gift from her babysitter when she turned two. Not only does she just love playing with the pretend money it is a huge learning opportunity for us to teach her financial lessons. Sometimes we’ll play grocery store with her pretend food and we’re at the point now of teaching her how many coins she needs to buy the things. Again, over two years later and this still consistently gets played with.
Two years ago we had an opportunity to buy a small playhouse at a store for 60% off, we decided to go for it and she loves it. I think we paid $100 for it and have gotten a ton of use out of it. It’s plastic and we keep it outside year round. She goes from growing her pretend garden to literally shoveling the snow out of her front ‘’door’’. We play with it year-round and will continue to until she’s too big for it.
My husband was given a collection of wooden blocks when he was a child and he was able to save them to give her our daughter. We have a few different types of blocks (everything from traditional Lego to wood blocks) and she loves them all. This is something I don’t see her growing out of anytime soon.
It’s just that simple. We go though a ton of all of the above and she loves them.
Some toys are a complete waste of money. We’re much better at picking our battles in terms of what we spend money on but we are very happy that a few toys have found their way into our lives and offered our daughter so much joy!
What are your favorite toys for small kids?
Before having our daughter, I never would have thought that we would co-sleep. We knew we wanted her close, in our room, for the first few weeks but could never have foreseen bed-sharing, for what ended up being almost 10 months.
The first few nights at home, our daughter slept in a bassinet close to the couch I was forced to sleep on since getting in and out of our bed was too challenging post c-section. After a few nights I was able to get into bed and we moved her to the bedroom where I would climb in and out of bed for nighttime nursing sessions.
The issue we were running into was that she was waking up too much when she nursed and would take me almost an hour to get her back to sleep, multiple times per night. After a few weeks of this, in a totally exhausted and desperate state, I brought her in bed with me where we both were able to sleep for the first time in almost a month. She was still waking every two to three hours to feed but because I wasn’t rousing her too much, she’d nurse then we’d both fall right back to sleep. It was glorious and so a new routine was formed.
It took my husband a little while to get comfortable with bed sharing as he was nervous about something happening to her while we slept, but I assured him that even though I was ‘’asleep’’ it was a very different hyper-aware sleep. In almost 10 months, we didn’t have any issues and it worked very well for our family.
Though my husband was initially nervous about it, he ended up really enjoying the experience as well. The three of us developed a nice closeness that we all enjoyed and looked forward to. Obviously if you have a spouse who isn’t in favor of bedsharing, or any form of co-sleeping, it likely won’t work out. Had my husband been dead-set against it I would not have continued but I’m so glad it did work.
People were warning us that with bedsharing we would end up with a college student still in our bed but that wasn’t the case. When we were all ready, and as I was preparing to go back to work, we transitioned her out of our bed and into her own crib. There was a two to three night transition but we haven’t looked back since and she’s four now.
Co-sleeping has many options that work well for various families. We did also try moving her pack-and-play crib beside our bed, but as soon as I would pick her up, position her, and lay her back down, she’d be awake for upwards of an hour. Nothing else seemed to work for us as well as bedsharing. Again, I never thought I’d be the type of parent who would even consider co-sleeping but it just worked for us. Having experienced it once I would likely do it again with future children.
Did you try co-sleeping? How did it work for you?
I work for a successful dentist. Part of his success definitely comes from his frugality which I admire. When most think dentist, they think big beautiful home, fancy cars, great work schedule and exotic vacations on a regular basis. While his house is nice, it’s large by necessity not lavishness, he and his wife have four kids and live well within their means. He’s been in practice for 30 years, still works five (long) days per week, by choice, until recently he drove a 16 year old van and when he does take time off it’s usually incorporating a little work with a little play.
He’s extremely modest, except when it comes to his kids.
I totally respect parents who can afford to put their children through school. While I don’t think it is the parent’s duty to do so, if you’re able to afford both putting them through post-secondary while taking care of your own long term financial goals, that’s great. What I can’t wrap my head around is parents who, beyond post-secondary years, continue to financially support their children. For so many reasons I think this is a terrible idea.
Should You Buy a Home for Your Child?
One of the dentist’s children is getting ready to graduate from university this month. He’s finishing with a degree in engineering and already has a job lined up with, what I’ve been told, is a good competitive salary- even better given he has zero debt to manage. He is in a much better position than most all of his peers that’s for sure.
Needless to say I was a little shocked to hear the dentist say he and his wife were considering buying a house for this son to live in, rent free.
Here’s the thing. The kid has already gone through life never having a ‘real’ job, he’s made money doing some sports coaching stuff casually but his only responsibilities were to do well in both school and sports, again given his upbringing that’s fine and I’m not judging, but continuing to baby him beyond university is setting him up for failure. It’s high time he takes care of himself.
If they were genuinely interested in investing in real estate in this city (second highest in our country), because they planned on living there or something, maybe I get it but the kid shouldn’t be allowed to live there rent free that’s for sure.
Thankfully the wife of the dentist spoke some sense in to him and explained where my head at is well, basically that it’s not their responsibility to provide for him anymore and instead are going with him to see a finance person about how he can save for his own place should he choose to stay there (he’s thinking of going back to school).
Though his children are well taken care of, they really do understand how fortunate they are and see how hard their father works to provide for them (probably why of the four kids not one went into dentistry). This story had the potentially to end tragically- like it does for so many families of parents to hold onto their kids way too long, but thankfully they came to their senses and backed out of the idea.
Would you buy your kids a house to live in?
Before getting pregnant for the first time, my husband and I agreed that we would raise our children to make their own choices, to experience things both good and bad and learn from their mistakes. We feel it is the best way to define yourself as an individual, as it can be just as important to find out what you don’t like in life as it is to discover your passions.
Our daughter has already shown an affinity for dance, sports and all things mechanical. She loves her weekly ballet class and spends the days between showcasing her newly-learned moves to anybody she runs into. She loves soccer, and is looking forward to playing again this summer. On her “team” last year, you can tell which children were into it and wanting to participate, and the ones that were, let’s say, indifferent. She is among the former.
Likely due to the conversations with her Daddy, her love for planes, trains and automobiles (any machine or vehicle, really) shines through. To wit, when it comes to screen time, by far her favourite show is Paw Patrol, featuring puppies operating high-tech rescue vehicles.
As long as she continues to show a passion for these things, we’ll continue to support her. Sports and tech are easy things for us to support, and though dance is a new one for my husband and I, we love how much of a positive impact it has had on her already.
Though my husband and I consider ourselves to be fans of music, neither of us play an instrument. That said, if our daughter came to us wanting to learn an instrument, we’d absolutely do everything we could to support her.
There are some things that we won’t budge on in terms of development. First and foremost, reading is a big part of our daughter’s life. Every night before bed, she gets two books read to her, and at various times throughout the day we’ll read to her. We’ll promote reading once she begins school, and will continue to ensure she develops her communication skills. Good communication skills are crucial as both a person and professional.
Another thing we will not be variable on is time spent outdoors. We grew up camping, playing in the woods and spending time under the stars at the family cottage. Our daughter will spend time doing the same. She won’t be a child that spends all of her time inside. Luckily for us, to this point she’s shown a love for the outdoors, and as she gets older we’re excited about the thought of things like canoe trips, orienteering and other such adventures.
We very much want our daughter, and any other future children, to be their own people. It’s important for them to have unique personalities and to be unafraid to embrace and express their passions in life. We’ll be behind them no matter what, and though we’ll be staunch on communication skills and the outdoors, our children will be able to choose their own path hopefully knowing who they are as a person, and knowing their mom and dad love them and are there for them through it all.
How do you nurture independence in your kids?
Parents love to see their kids happy. Especially during the tumultuous times of toddlerhood when their world doesn’t quite make sense, we like to see them as happy as possible. Being a parent is about caring for, and raising, confident, happy and well-rounded kids. To do this sometimes we have hard battles to contend with. One of the hardest parenting skills we have to learn to master is learning to say ‘No’.
Learning to say No isn’t easy but it is one of the best things we can do for our kids. The world we live in is not a world of ‘’yes’’ all the time. In my life I have certainly had more No’s told to me then Yes’s but I’ve also learned so much more from the no’s then the yes’s. It can be hard to watch your kids grasp the understanding of why we say no but they need to learn the importance of it.
I practice my balance of yes and no as often as I can. For instance when my daughter and I make one of our trips to the local dollar store, she will inevitably ask for something, a ‘’treat’’. Sometimes I say yes and sometimes I say no. Almost four years in, and she now understands that for a multitude of reasons she won’t get a treat every time. Sometimes it’s based on behaviour, sometimes it’s because I didn’t bring enough money, and sometimes it’s because I want to practice saying ‘no, we’re not getting a treat today’’ so she understands it’s not an event that will happen all the time.
Why We Must Learn to Say No
When we don’t master this skill, and don’t start early, we set our kids up for failure. Just last week I had two siblings come in to see me at work, aged 10 and 8. They both presented with malformations in their teeth and oral development that were indicative of sever thumb sucking. I asked the girls to which they denied sucking their thumb, I asked a few other questions before mom finally told me both girls were still using pediatric pacifiers every day, all day when not in school. Needless to say I was a little shocked and told both mom and girls that it had to stop immediately since their development was being seriously hindered by the object in their mouth.
I don’t know what I was expecting but I certainly wasn’t expecting mom to outright refuse to do it because ‘’she didn’t want to upset them in anyway and it was just easier to let them have it’’. All this after I explained the serious consequences (like not having any function of 8 permanent teeth and needing serious orthodontic treatment if they didn’t stop ASAP). I looked at her and said ‘’you’re the mother you need to step in and say No’’, a word clearly NOT in her vocabulary.
I hear so many horror stories of parents delaying their retirement or getting into a financial horror story from helping their kids out financially. So many times it seems like such an easy situation to avoid- just say no. I’m not saying we as parents shouldn’t help our kids out but if it put you in a bad situation you’re not actually helping anyone.
Learning to say no is a crucial lesson to teach kids. It helps set boundaries and protects them (and you too sometimes) from dire situations. In my opinion there are too many ‘’yes parents’’ out there, looking to fill some sort of void (maybe they work a lot or feel they put their kid in a tough situation with a move or something) regardless, saying yes too often will only have detrimental effects on both you and your kids.
How do you practice setting boundaries?
At the beginning of the year, my daughter started ballet. Halfway through the semester they have a public showcase which is a time where the families can see what is being accomplished in class and, as well a time for the students to get used to being outside of their studio and on a larger stage with an audience. By the time their annual recital comes around they’re a little more comfortable on a stage and know what to expect.
The showcase is not the full practiced recital with costumes and all. We were excited to see her dance though (parents aren’t allowed in the studio during weekly dance class to encourage independence/the studios aren’t very big) and she was excited to show off her moves. I was a little surprised to find out, that during this less formal performance, that parents would be bringing flowers to their kids. I didn’t know what to do.
For a formal dance recital performance, I understand that parents might bring a flower or small bouquet for a job well done and to congratulate their kids, but for a mid-semester quick showcase I wasn’t so sure. This was my first time so I was very much ‘’going with the flow’’. In the end, I decided that flowers for this day would be a bit much and were unnecessary, that was until I got a text from my sister-in-law.
Her friend has a daughter I the same dance company as ours. He called her to warn her that when they went to their first showcase they were literally the only parents without flowers for their daughter and it was nothing but tears for a few hours following. I didn’t want that to be us. I didn’t want to walk into the dressing room afterwards empty handed and have to explain in a roomful of pre-schoolers and parents that mommy and daddy didn’t bother getting flowers because they were a waste of money for such an event. We didn’t have time so our family made an emergency flower stop and picked up a small bouquet (50% off!).
This was the first time since having my daughter that I really felt like I was doing something to appease other people. Parents mostly. Don’t get me wrong, she was pretty excited to get a few flowers of her own, but I still feel like it was a bit unnecessary for the event in question. Had we not got the call from my sister-in-law, I would have stuck to my instinct and my kid would have been the only one (without flowers) and possibly spent the drive home crying, so in the end I’m glad we avoided that.
I’ve always very much gone to the beat of my own drum, and not cared what other people think about me, my family or any choices we make but I notice more and more that my thought process around my daughter to be more concerning with what other people will think. I think it’s partly because she’s not quite at an age to fully understand things. Sure we could have skipped the flowers and I could have attempted to explain that we only get them for recitals but she wouldn’t have really understood why she didn’t get any while everyone else did.
As she gets older and more understanding I think it will be easier to explain why we may do (or do not) certain things but for now I choose my battles.
Have you ever felt pressure to do something for your kids?
A few weeks ago Huffington Post shared an article about the Benefits of Saying No. Today I share my reasoning for telling my toddler ‘No’ more times than ‘Yes’, and why rewarding for good behaviour is foolish.
I bring my daughter everywhere. Unless it’s not appropriate, she comes with us most places. I have friends who plan all their errands around their spouses schedule so the ‘kids aren’t getting dragged around’ while they do things like get groceries or go to appointments. I get it, it’s usually a whole lot easier to do some tasks like grocery shop when you don’t have grabby little hands asking for everything, but to me these are important opportunities for my daughter to learn about the world around her.
Not Rewarding Good Behaviour
I don’t believe in rewarding for good behaviour when good behaviour is expected. For us, I completely expect her to behave in a situation like grocery shopping. She does it so often with us, she knows what is expected of her. If we however brought her to a meeting at a bank and had her trapped in a tiny room for three hours, acting out might be expected. See the difference? Bribes and treats might be needed in the second scenario!
Just because she knows how to behave, doesn’t mean she doesn’t try to ask for things almost every time we go out though. The difference is that when we say no, she usually doesn’t push the issue. As each outing happens, there are fewer and fewer ‘incidences’. I honestly can’t remember the last time she put up any fight about hearing the dreaded two letter word.
Thanks to advertising, today while grocery shopping my daughter ran up and grabbed a massive container or Minions tic-tacs. She didn’t even know what they were, but wanted them because they were cute and yellow. Rather than freak out when I told her no, she said ‘’ok mommy’’ and put them back.
Over the many, many trips to the grocery store and running errands with us, she had come to learn that just because she asks for something doesn’t mean she will get it and this makes our life so much easier.
Every now and then we’ll buy her a treat but it’s usually on our accord and not when she asks for it. When we’re done errands I might suggest a treat of getting a donut for her and coffee for mommy. We’ll sit in and talk for a few minutes. I know she will enjoy this time together so much more than a random treat she eats in the car.
The stuff she wants is usually pretty cheap and harmless. Rarely does she ask for something that cost more than $2-$3. That’s not that point though. I want her to grow up understanding that she won’t get everything she asks for just because she wants it. Life isn’t that fair. Though I want my kid to have the world I want her to understand balance too and I never want her to feel like she literally has everything in the world she’s ever asked for, it’s totally unrealistic and unhealthy in my mind.
We enjoy giving special treats and surprises just as much as any parent does but by learning to say No more times than Yes, I really believe that she really appreciates things a lot more.
It’s been a while since I was actually in a McDonald’s restaurant, but I vividly remember the old menus growing up that, at the very end said, ‘’Smiles are always free’’. My experience in being a mom is that the best smiles are, in fact, free but that doesn’t stop me as a parent from chasing the need to see my child smiling through my unnecessary purchases.
I don’t even realize I’m doing it most of the time. Last weekend I had to go to a local big box store for an item. I was there to return something, that was it. I had no intentions of even walking around the store but when I realized I had some freedom (I was alone, no kid, no husband), I decided to capitalize on my few free moments and wander through the aisles. Given that I actually hate shopping, and am very much someone who likes to accomplish as much as possible in any given day, it was out of character for me to even want to do this, but I did.
I was scoping out the newest stuff and staring in disbelief at all the Christmas stuff that was already out, as Halloween hasn’t even passed, when I found myself walking through the book aisle. Again, innocently browsing at what was there, I instantly picked up a book with my daughters favorite character’s on it. The thought process was something like this:
‘’I need to buy this for her! She will love it and put a big smile on her face when she sees it!!’’.
At $3.50 I wasn’t breaking the bank but, though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was doing it selfishly. Though the book was for her, the book was more for me. For me, as her mom, to see her eyes light up and smile when I hand it to her.
It wasn’t until after I gave her the book when I realized what I had done. Though she was appreciative of the gesture, and thanked me for it, what she really wanted and what really got her excited was me. I had been away from her for a few hours and she wouldn’t care if I had a 10 pound chocolate bunny in my arm, she was just excited to see me and go back to mommy-daughter play time.
When I really think about it, the biggest smiles and reactions are never from when we give her something, be it a special after dinner treat or new book, it’s from when we’re sharing time together, building forts on the floor and hiding from invisible monsters, when we’re in a tickle fight or coloring a picture together. Though I will still buy things for her, I won’t buy something with the selfish intention of seeking out a smile because I know in my heart I have it in me to make her smile bigger than any object.
If a child is partaking in these activities they are not doing more time valuable things like reading books or exploring the word around them. While I couldn’t agree more with this concern, we do allow our two year old to watch some television. While I do think too much TV time is detrimental for many developmental reasons, I don’t think a little bit is harmful and if anything could be (gasp) beneficial depending on what it is your child is watching.
How We Structure TV Time
The TV time in our house is limited to a few minutes in the morning and evening. This works well for us. When we wake in the morning, after I get my daughter ready for the day I allow her to watch one 20 minute TV show that was pre-recorded allowing my husband and I to grab showers and get dressed. The same is for the evening when we get home from the day. While I’m prepping supper, and my husband is tying up loose ends from his work day (which is almost always brings home) we allow another 20 min episode to give us time to get everything organized.
After the show is over the TV goes off and she has the options of playing, coloring or reading her books. I don’t like her jumping right into toys and books as soon as we get home because it makes a mess just as we’re trying to get organized. She also usually wants one or both of us to engage with her when playing (she’s an only child) so we need those few minutes to deal with our stuff so we can devout attention to her and the amazing block tower she built for us.
Hand Picking Shows
My husband and I have also gone through and hand-picked the shows we allow her to watch. There is a lot of really bad, and just plain dumb television shows for children. If she’s going to be watching something it has to be fun but also reasonably educational. We have our favorites and have pre-recorded a few episodes of each.
Our daughter knows that watching TV is a special treat of sorts. While we’d never disallow books, if she has a bad attitude or doesn’t listen to us she won’t be allowed to watch television.
Our experience with the shows we’ve picked for her has been positive. She’s learned things from the shows that she tries to teach us. Just the other day she told me a kangaroo was a marsupial and that airplanes have engines. While they’re simple lessons she has fun watching the shows, learning about new things and proud of herself for telling mom and dad about her new-found knowledge.
Books and playtime should always take priority over any screen time but I am of the opinion that it’s not a bad thing once in a while, I’d rather know exactly where she is while I’m in the shower than worrying about her tearing the house apart!
Do you allow any screen time for your toddler?