parenting

  • Sibling rivalry: How to stop all the fighting

    Healthy sibling relationships

    People always ask if I’m crazy when I say I want more kids. I guess the short answer is, yes, yes I am. But seriously, I think one of the best gifts I can give my kids is their siblings. That’s not to say it is a cake walk–one of the hardest parts of having more than one kid is managing the relationship they have with each other. Some days it seems like they wake up with the goal of destroying one another. After a few rough weeks and after hearing a bunch of mamas talk about having some of the same issues, I decided to re-read one of my favorite parenting books called Siblings Without Rivalry (you can buy it here) but I will break down some of the most important take aways.

    Don’t Compare

    It’s so hard not to compare your kids to each other. But doing so pits them against one another. Instead just DESCRIBE what you see, what you like or don’t like, or what needs to be done. Keep it based on your observation of that particular child.

     Things can’t and shouldn’t be “equal”

    Instead of worrying about trying to make things equal, it’s more important to focus on what each kid NEEDS (nothing is EVER going to be equal, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fair). The last thing you want is kids feeling like one is the “favorite” and to avoid this you need to provide for each kid uniquely.

    Avoid placing kids in roles

    It’s important not to label kids with qualities whether good or bad. Pointing at one for being social and the other for being shy only brings a bigger divide.

    Does this picture look familiar? One kid puts their foot too close to the other, and all of a sudden it’s on.

    Okay but they still fight…

    Yes, unfortunately some fighting is inevitable but here are some strategies to help get them to work things out on their own.

    1. Describe what you see. “Oh wow, looks like you’re really angry that Charlotte is using your truck and you want to hit her with that block.” (this is where you take the block)
    2. They will likely start telling you what happened. Listen to each side with respect and without judgement.
    3. Show you understand how difficult the problem is (and remember that even though a problem may seem small to us it can seem HUGE to them…) Say something like: “Yeah it’s really hard when someone is using something that is special to us.”
    4. Express confidence that they will be able to work it out on their own. If they are toddlers, prompt them with something like “Hummm you guys can figure this out together. Maybe Charlotte will play with the truck and you can play with [insert some other popular toy] and then you guys can switch?”
    5. Leave. Kids will work things out MUCH better on their own. If they aren’t hurting each other let them work it out. If it sounds like it’s getting too rough I will usually call out something like “It sounds like people are angry. Do you need me to come in there or can you figure it out yourselves?” More often than not they want to figure it out themselves.

    And what about when they physically hurt each other….

    1. If they are about to hurt each other, then it’s important to physically separate them. Remind them that they need to cool off first before they figure out a plan forward.
    2.  If you weren’t fast enough (which we all know is most of the time because these little suckers are fast AF) and they have already kicked, bit, hit, slapped, stepped on etc…. Make sure to focus on the one who was hurt vs the one who did the hurting. Give a quick but firm (not angry) “We don’t [insert violent action used]” and that’s it.

    Building a positive relationships from the start

    Obviously if kids have good feelings towards each other it will be MUCH easier for them to settle disagreements because they will want to get back to the positive relationship vs harping on the bad.

    A couple tips for building those positive sibling vibes

    1. Let them overhear you talk about how great they are as a team. “Wow, today Henry was teaching Charlotte to draw a face and Charlotte was helping Henry mix all the paints. They were really creating some great art together!”
    2. Direct them to ask for help from each other vs you.
    3. Instead of having them compete against each other as in “who can get upstairs to brush teeth the fastest” (which pits one against the other) it’s better to have them work together against you or the clock. So say something like “Do you guys think you can get upstairs and brush teeth before the timer goes off? Or before I count to 30?” Something that gets them working AS A TEAM not against one another.

    Interested in getting your little one to play independently?

    Check out my Purposeful Playspace e-course to learn how to create a space for your children that invites them to playin ways that are more engaging, purposeful and independent.

    Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?

    Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood

    Love this post? Check out some of the articles below.

    What are the stages of play? Jean Piaget’s Theory of Play!

    How can a theory published in 1936 still help you to understand your children and how to encourage them through their cognitive development?  While Jean Piaget’s Theory of Play is closing in on its hundred-year anniversary it is still used in education and psychology to understand the stages of children’s development.  And I can help…

    What are the ages and stages of child development? (Bonus chart!)

    Get the ages and stages development chart here!! During the first 3 years of life babies and toddlers are making 1-2 million neural connections a minute.  Mind blown! During those years they go through massive growth and hit multiple milestones a month.   But what milestones should your baby be meeting at every age?  Understanding the…

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely So what is this magic triangle that seems to be in every playroom on Instagram?  It’s a Pikler triangle and there are some great reasons why so many moms are falling in love with them.   You may be wondering if Pikler triangles are worth it? And I say abso-freakin-lutely. …

    Episode 5: The Psychological Importance of Play + How to Recover from Helicopter Parenting

    On this episode of Play. Learn. Thrive., clinical psychologist Sarah Mundy shares with Alanna insights about the importance of play in the development of confident, self-motivated, independent kids. In addition to being a core element of emotional and intellectual growth, play has been recognized internationally as a fundamental right of children. Sarah highlights clinical experience…

    Risky Play: What Parents NEED to Know

    Risky Play Children have an innate need for risk-taking. In addition, children who are encouraged to take risks at a younger age are able to better manage risk once they have gained more independence. A lack of ample opportunity to take risks may increase fear and inappropriate aggression, as well as limit the ability to…

    Read More

  • Road-tripping with toddlers

    Tips for Toddler Road Trips

    So this isn’t going to be your typical “Top 10 Tips for Road-tripping with a Toddler” post where I tell you the best toys to bring in the car and encourage you to load your kid with snacks to keep them happy in the car…but bear with me.

    We are going on a road trip tomorrow to a beach house. We will spend at minimum 4.5 hours in the car to get there. You know how many things I will do to entertain my kids in the car….. ZERO. I will do exactly zero things. Seriously. I can count on one hand the amount of toys I have given my kids to play with on car rides. They typically get a book or two and a small toy like a stuff animal, doll, match box car or small truck.

    We don’t do a DVD player, we don’t do an iPad, we don’t even do toddler music.

    Why? Because, I like to torture myself. No. Seriously, because I really feel like we, as parents (and as a society), are responsible for giving our kids plenty of opportunities to be bored. Being stuck in a carseat is boring AF. But my kids are so used to not being entertained in the car that they don’t even think twice. They sing, look for colors, ask us questions, point out trucks, sleep, they look out the window and daydream.

    Now listen, I’m not saying throwing on a DVD if you’re driving a ridiculously long way is a bad idea–I just think we need to intentionally seek out opportunities that allow our kids to be bored–and the car is a great place to start.

    It’s never too late to start letting your kids get bored…

    •  Limit the amount of toys they have access to in the car
    • Try to keep toys to basic open ended things that don’t require batteries
    • Books, books, books!
    • Don’t provide toys for shorter trips

    Interested in getting your little one to play independently?

    Check out my Purposeful Playspace e-course to learn how to create a space for your children that invites them to playin ways that are more engaging, purposeful and independent.

    Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?

    Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood

    Love this post? Check out some of the articles below.

    What are the stages of play? Jean Piaget’s Theory of Play!

    How can a theory published in 1936 still help you to understand your children and how to encourage them through their cognitive development?  While Jean Piaget’s Theory of Play is closing in on its hundred-year anniversary it is still used in education and psychology to understand the stages of children’s development.  And I can help…

    What are the ages and stages of child development? (Bonus chart!)

    Get the ages and stages development chart here!! During the first 3 years of life babies and toddlers are making 1-2 million neural connections a minute.  Mind blown! During those years they go through massive growth and hit multiple milestones a month.   But what milestones should your baby be meeting at every age?  Understanding the…

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely So what is this magic triangle that seems to be in every playroom on Instagram?  It’s a Pikler triangle and there are some great reasons why so many moms are falling in love with them.   You may be wondering if Pikler triangles are worth it? And I say abso-freakin-lutely. …

    Episode 5: The Psychological Importance of Play + How to Recover from Helicopter Parenting

    On this episode of Play. Learn. Thrive., clinical psychologist Sarah Mundy shares with Alanna insights about the importance of play in the development of confident, self-motivated, independent kids. In addition to being a core element of emotional and intellectual growth, play has been recognized internationally as a fundamental right of children. Sarah highlights clinical experience…

    Risky Play: What Parents NEED to Know

    Risky Play Children have an innate need for risk-taking. In addition, children who are encouraged to take risks at a younger age are able to better manage risk once they have gained more independence. A lack of ample opportunity to take risks may increase fear and inappropriate aggression, as well as limit the ability to…

    Read More

  • Understanding developmental leaps

    Developmental leaps. What are they? Why should I care about them?

    They are one of the biggest factors that will impact your infants behavior from birth to about 18 months–from their mood to their sleep. My 5.5 month old is currently going through a “leap”–she is super clingy, fussier than normal, constantly wanting to nurse but just sort of staring into space half the time–just generally acting a little off.

    What is a “developmental leap”?

    A developmental leap is a time during infancy when a baby is going through a big change in their understanding of the world and how things work. During this time your baby will begin to develop new skills.

    Why should I care about “leaps”?

    So you can stop stressing so much! Often times knowing that your baby is about to go through or in the process of going through a leap will calm your nerves. When you notice your little is a little off it could be a sign they are going through a leap–and it’s always reassuring to have some knowledge about WHY they are acting the way they are….

    What should I be looking for?

    • Crankiness
    • Clinginess (Wanting to be held more than normal)
    • Crying/Fussing
    • Restless sleep or change in sleep pattern (or changes in sleep–for example: my daughter has been putting herself to sleep by sucking her fingers but now all of a sudden wants to nurse to sleep)
    • Practicing a new skill

    What else do I need to know?

    Understand that these leaps are NORMAL and should be WELCOMED! This is your baby growing and changing. As hard as it is, it’s what they do….right?

    Also, understand that not everything is exact. It’s not like the leap starts on a specific day at a specific time–it’s a timeframe. Also note that there are often other things going on during these times too! Some of these leap phases are also accompanied by growth spurts (fun!) or sleep regressions (super fun!) or BOTH at the same time (the most fun ever!).

    If you want more information about these developmental leaps I suggest buying a copy of the book The Wonder Weeks. There is also an app you can download to help you track your baby’s leaps.

    Interested in getting your little one to play independently?

    Check out my Purposeful Playspace e-course to learn how to create a space for your children that invites them to playin ways that are more engaging, purposeful and independent.

    Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?

    Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood

    Love this post? Check out some of the articles below.

    What are the stages of play? Jean Piaget’s Theory of Play!

    How can a theory published in 1936 still help you to understand your children and how to encourage them through their cognitive development?  While Jean Piaget’s Theory of Play is closing in on its hundred-year anniversary it is still used in education and psychology to understand the stages of children’s development.  And I can help…

    What are the ages and stages of child development? (Bonus chart!)

    Get the ages and stages development chart here!! During the first 3 years of life babies and toddlers are making 1-2 million neural connections a minute.  Mind blown! During those years they go through massive growth and hit multiple milestones a month.   But what milestones should your baby be meeting at every age?  Understanding the…

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely So what is this magic triangle that seems to be in every playroom on Instagram?  It’s a Pikler triangle and there are some great reasons why so many moms are falling in love with them.   You may be wondering if Pikler triangles are worth it? And I say abso-freakin-lutely. …

    Episode 5: The Psychological Importance of Play + How to Recover from Helicopter Parenting

    On this episode of Play. Learn. Thrive., clinical psychologist Sarah Mundy shares with Alanna insights about the importance of play in the development of confident, self-motivated, independent kids. In addition to being a core element of emotional and intellectual growth, play has been recognized internationally as a fundamental right of children. Sarah highlights clinical experience…

    Risky Play: What Parents NEED to Know

    Risky Play Children have an innate need for risk-taking. In addition, children who are encouraged to take risks at a younger age are able to better manage risk once they have gained more independence. A lack of ample opportunity to take risks may increase fear and inappropriate aggression, as well as limit the ability to…

    Read More

  • Trusting your toddler

    Two weeks ago my two older kids started a new camp. It’s at their new Montessori pre-school and I am beyond pumped for them to begin school here. A few days into camp, my daughter (2.5), started saying she didn’t like her teachers. My first thought was legit terror. I have wicked anxiety and I usually always jump to the worst possible scenario in my head before I even have a chance to think anything through. That said, I took a breath and asked her why.

    She said “My teacher painted my rock.”

    I almost laughed. I pressed for a little more information because I couldn’t believe that this was what was making her so upset. She insisted that “my teacher helped me” and kept referring this rock. I almost brushed it off but then I thought about it and realized that she was legit upset because she wanted to work on this rock herself.

    I asked her if she was upset because she wanted to do it herself and she looked down, as if embarrassed, and said “yes.” I reassured her that it was OK for her to want to do things herself and that all she needed to say was “I don’t need help, but thank you!”–she laughed at my enthusiasm but I could tell she needed to hear that. She repeated it to herself with a smile on her face.

    I talked to her briefly about always speaking up if something didn’t feel right and reminded her it was OK to tell a teacher she wanted to try to do something herself.

    The next morning in the car ride we discussed her feelings about camp again. She wasn’t excited to go and said she didn’t “like camp.” I had a moment of clarity. I will say that I don’t always feel like a mom. I often tell new moms that I didn’t feel like a parent until my first kid was a toddler and I started dealing more with discipline. But it’s true–the day to day doesn’t feel like big “parenting” moments. Then you’re hit with something like this. Something small to you, but big to them. And these are the moments that make us parents. Our small decisions that ultimately help teach our kids something greater.

    It hit me that I needed to help her speak up for herself. It seems silly but she was very clearly upset and I hated the idea of her not being comfortable. I’m not one to intervene at every little thing, but I also think it’s so important to guide your children to grow in their own confidence and independence.

    I hoped her teacher wouldn’t think I was a nut case.

    We got to there and I led the conversation–I explained that Charlotte mentioned to me that she was upset because someone helped her paint her rock. Her teacher probably thought it was a joke at first but when Charlotte spoke up (after a little prodding) she took it seriously and reiterated to C that she just needed to tell her if she didn’t want help. Charlotte felt good. I felt good albeit a little ridiculous.

    When I went to pick her up that afternoon her teacher approached me again. She told me she had asked around to get the scoop about Charlotte’s rock. It turns out one of the teachers was holding the rock while Charlotte was painting. In that moment I felt silly for even making this a thing and I made a comment that made light of toddler concerns. At that her teacher reminded me that while it may seem silly to us, it was big to her. It was real to her. And I gave myself a little pat on the back.

    It’s always difficult to figure out what’s what when it comes to toddlers. They are master’s of all emotions, sometimes all at once. But I’m happy that I slowed down and trusted her. I listened and asked her genuine questions and even though she is only two and a half she understood–she understood her own feelings, she understood that she could say no thank you to an adult, and I hope that she, in some small way, understood that I will always have her back.

    She said “My teacher painted my rock.”

    I almost laughed. I pressed for a little more information because I couldn’t believe that this was what was making her so upset. She insisted that “my teacher helped me” and kept referring this rock. I almost brushed it off but then I thought about it and realized that she was legit upset because she wanted to work on this rock herself.

    I asked her if she was upset because she wanted to do it herself and she looked down, as if embarrassed, and said “yes.” I reassured her that it was OK for her to want to do things herself and that all she needed to say was “I don’t need help, but thank you!”–she laughed at my enthusiasm but I could tell she needed to hear that. She repeated it to herself with a smile on her face.

    I talked to her briefly about always speaking up if something didn’t feel right and reminded her it was OK to tell a teacher she wanted to try to do something herself.

    The next morning in the car ride we discussed her feelings about camp again. She wasn’t excited to go and said she didn’t “like camp.” I had a moment of clarity. I will say that I don’t always feel like a mom. I often tell new moms that I didn’t feel like a parent until my first kid was a toddler and I started dealing more with discipline. But it’s true–the day to day doesn’t feel like big “parenting” moments. Then you’re hit with something like this. Something small to you, but big to them. And these are the moments that make us parents. Our small decisions that ultimately help teach our kids something greater.

    It hit me that I needed to help her speak up for herself. It seems silly but she was very clearly upset and I hated the idea of her not being comfortable. I’m not one to intervene at every little thing, but I also think it’s so important to guide your children to grow in their own confidence and independence.

    I hoped her teacher wouldn’t think I was a nut case.

    We got to there and I led the conversation–I explained that Charlotte mentioned to me that she was upset because someone helped her paint her rock. Her teacher probably thought it was a joke at first but when Charlotte spoke up (after a little prodding) she took it seriously and reiterated to C that she just needed to tell her if she didn’t want help. Charlotte felt good. I felt good albeit a little ridiculous.

    When I went to pick her up that afternoon her teacher approached me again. She told me she had asked around to get the scoop about Charlotte’s rock. It turns out one of the teachers was holding the rock while Charlotte was painting. In that moment I felt silly for even making this a thing and I made a comment that made light of toddler concerns. At that her teacher reminded me that while it may seem silly to us, it was big to her. It was real to her. And I gave myself a little pat on the back.

    It’s always difficult to figure out what’s what when it comes to toddlers. They are master’s of all emotions, sometimes all at once. But I’m happy that I slowed down and trusted her. I listened and asked her genuine questions and even though she is only two and a half she understood–she understood her own feelings, she understood that she could say no thank you to an adult, and I hope that she, in some small way, understood that I will always have her back.

    Interested in getting your little one to play independently?

    Check out my Purposeful Playspace e-course to learn how to create a space for your children that invites them to playin ways that are more engaging, purposeful and independent.

    Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?

    Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood

    Love this post? Check out some of the articles below.

    What are the stages of play? Jean Piaget’s Theory of Play!

    How can a theory published in 1936 still help you to understand your children and how to encourage them through their cognitive development?  While Jean Piaget’s Theory of Play is closing in on its hundred-year anniversary it is still used in education and psychology to understand the stages of children’s development.  And I can help…

    What are the ages and stages of child development? (Bonus chart!)

    Get the ages and stages development chart here!! During the first 3 years of life babies and toddlers are making 1-2 million neural connections a minute.  Mind blown! During those years they go through massive growth and hit multiple milestones a month.   But what milestones should your baby be meeting at every age?  Understanding the…

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely So what is this magic triangle that seems to be in every playroom on Instagram?  It’s a Pikler triangle and there are some great reasons why so many moms are falling in love with them.   You may be wondering if Pikler triangles are worth it? And I say abso-freakin-lutely. …

    Episode 5: The Psychological Importance of Play + How to Recover from Helicopter Parenting

    On this episode of Play. Learn. Thrive., clinical psychologist Sarah Mundy shares with Alanna insights about the importance of play in the development of confident, self-motivated, independent kids. In addition to being a core element of emotional and intellectual growth, play has been recognized internationally as a fundamental right of children. Sarah highlights clinical experience…

    Risky Play: What Parents NEED to Know

    Risky Play Children have an innate need for risk-taking. In addition, children who are encouraged to take risks at a younger age are able to better manage risk once they have gained more independence. A lack of ample opportunity to take risks may increase fear and inappropriate aggression, as well as limit the ability to…

    Read More