Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Because I said so.

     Is there anything more annoying than hearing "WHY?" after you tell your child no? ... Well there is Richard Simmons but other than that I highly doubt it.

     Most of us remember conversations like this from our childhood.

Kid: Dad can I go to Sarah's for a sleepover?
Dad: no.
Kid: Why?
Dad: Because I said so!
     Had I known the phrase tyrannical fascist at 9 years old that probably would have been the next line in the script. I didn't though so this conversation, and all others like it, was followed by a pestering child and an increasingly angry parental figure.Usually culminating in my being sent to my room.

     Fast forward to my teen years and the same answer would send me into a rage. At least by this point I was able to articulate why it made me so angry. "why are you saying no? Surely you have a reason? should I assume it is just because you want me to be a social outcast"

     The thing was when my parents did tell me why they were saying no I usually took it better. Or tried to find a way around their objections. That was probably the most annoying part for them.

     Fast forward to the day when my own kids discovered the word why. Was there ever a word more irritating to parents? I was a young mother who still clearly remembered the 'because I said so's of my youth. It had been less than 5 years since I had come up against that brick wall of authority so I still had fresh bruises from beating my head against it.

   I decided that that answer wasn't good enough for my children. As I have said before everything is a teaching opportunity so I decided NO should be one as well. Now when my children ask why I always tell them.

My husband on the other hand I have caught in a lot of because I said so moments. Turns out when pressed though he always has a reason.

There is some great things about taking the minute to explain the why's to your children.

* If it is a safety reason they can understand what is dangerous about it and then apply what they have learned in situations where you are not available to guide them.

* If it is a convenice thing (I don't want to go get your friend) they learn to compromise. eg. Well what if his mom walks him up here?

* If it is a lazy thing such as you just don't want to go to the park they learn that the world doesn't revolve around them.

* If it is a money thing 'we don't have money for that truck' they learn savings and delayed gratification

* If it is an illness thing "I have a headache and can't go for a walk" it teaches patience and sympathy

* If it was just a knee jerk reaction and you have no real reason it teaches children how to admit an error with grace.

Now this doesn't mean I let my kids pester me for hours on end.

they make a request
I say no
They ask why
I explain
they come up with a counter solution
A) their idea works and they get what they want
B) their idea doesn't work, I tell them why and we move on with our day.

While I hate Because I said so I have no issue at all with I have already explained this to you a few times and now I need to move on with my day

So many parents seem to think changing your mind means they are not being strict. that is completely untrue. It is important to teach our children that everyone is wrong sometimes, how to politely question authority, and how to admit an error with grace. The big thing is to only change your mind when the child has a valid point that was made in a respectful manner.

If a child knows their voice will be heard they are more likely to listen to yours.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Who do you think you're talking to anyways?

My toddler has discovered biting. It is his favorite response to my saying "no", "just a minute" or "hold on". Prior to this his method of attempting to establish dominance over me was to scream like a banshee and hope I would submit to his will. That plan didn't work so well either.

Screaming in your face, slapping, hair pulling, and biting are all  normal toddler reactions to being deprived of something they want. The fact that your toddler decided to bite you because you took his big brothers magnetix away from him does not make you a bad parent. Giving in because of it does.

There are many different ways to deal with tantrums. Some parents give a time out, others spank (which I don't get at all, as far as I can see that just teaches them to let people hit them or to only hit someone smaller than them), others still ignore the behavior in hopes that lack of attention will cause it to burn out. While other methods seem to work from what the parents tell me they seem to ignore what, to me, is a golden learning opportunity.

With both of my children, and all the others I have cared for over the years, I have learned that every indiscretion is a potential teaching moment.So the question becomes "what do I want my child to learn from this?". The obvious answer is "not to repeat the behavior". For myself I want to stop the behavior but I also what to teach them why it is wrong to behave that way while teaching them the proper way to be assertive and stand up for what they want.

When I tell my child no and it results in them trying to bully me I react the same way I want them to react to all the douchewads they will encounter tin life. I calmly (on the outside on the inside I am thinking about throttling them) disentangle myself from them, hold them at arms length, and tell them "I don't play with people who are mean to me, come see me when you are ready to be nice".

Many times over the years I have been told, "But that just lets them get away with it.". I guess it does to an extent but it also stops the behavior and puts the ownership for their actions back on them. They are now responsible to make amends. More importantly though I am modeling how to demand respect from others without being a bully yourself.

At the toddler stage nothing is worse than being estranged from Mom or Dad, as they age the concept still works even if it needs modification. When my nine year old is rude or disrespectful he gets sent to his room. He is told hat I deserve to be treated with respect and if he can't behave like a civilized human being I won't associate with him. He can come out whenever he can treat me decently.

Of course this only works if you also treat your kids with the respect you demand from them

Monday, October 3, 2011

If breast is best what does that make formula?

Well I am no math whiz but I would assume it made formula second best.

*Actually formula is fourth best. Second best is the mothers expressed breast milk and third best is donated breast milk. 

Now I know that was not the PC thing to say but you will quickly learn that this blog is not intended to be PC. It is intended to give honest information and advice about parenting without worrying about hurting a parents precious feelings.

Honestly there are some areas of parenting that are gray zones of what is best but infant feeding isn't one of them. Science has proven time and again that breast milk is superior to formula in every way, hell even formula companies put it on their product. The problem is with the current mode of presenting that information under the "breast is best" format.

Actually breast is not BEST it is the biological standard against which everything else is measured. Formula is inferior to breast milk in every way but we aren't allowed to say that because some new mom may feel guilty about the choice she made. Well you know what if we told people the truth from the get go and stopped the deceitful advertising there would be nothing to feel guilty about because they would have had all the information needed to make an informed decision going in.

So now I am going to go on to talk about some of the risks associated with formula.

*Obesity. Milk comes out faster from a bottle than the breast and formula also has a higher calorie count per ounce. This means that by the time a baby realizes they are full they have allready over eaten and gotten too many calories. This is compounded by parents urging them to finish the last half an ounce is the bottle causing their 'full reflex' to be overrode at a young are and setting them up for a lifetime of not boing able to recognize fullness opposed to stuffed.

*allergies.Formula fed kids are more likely to have allergies. That means compared to their breast fed counterparts on average they will have more allergies, have more severe reactions, and be less likely to outgrow them.

*immunities - Formula fed children get more colds and infections. Breast fed babies get some as well but tend to be less overall and the severity and length are lessened.

 *gastrointestinal health - Much of formula is not digestible. this makes it very hard on the stomach, intestines, and kidneys (this is also why formula fed babies sleep longer the undigestible parts sit in their stomachs for hours). Breast milk is made for a baby's delicate gut and even has some properties that heal small tears. 

Now before you start telling me about the breast fed kid you know who is allergic to everything or all the formula fed kids who are fine let me explain a bit of how statistics work.

 Not every kid who is given formula will develop every thing they are at risk for. Nor does breastmilk guarantee perfect health.

Like other risky behavior sometimes you beat the odds and someties it doesn't matter how careful you are. Take drunk driving for instance many people do it hundreds of times before causing harm to themselves or another, while some very careful and sober drivers are in freak accidents. Risk simply refers to the likely-hood of something happening. there are no guarantees in life but much like putting an infant on their back to sleep breastfeeding will reduce the RISK of SIDS and many other things.