Thursday, August 30, 2012

Daycare Bad-faces and Biting

Jr. has been really pumped about going back to daycare.  He seems happy to arrive, happy to see his teachers, displays appropriate anxiety upon separation from mommy, and appears to be well taken care of when I pick him up.  In a city where waitlists are over a year long and you really must get yourself on the lists of your chosen facility even pre-conception, we really hit the jackpot.   Our daycare shares our values, has excellent staff, and a great new director.  How blessed we are!  But, two things have happened this week that have summoned my inner momma-bear and given me pause regarding this daycare from on-high.

As the teachers have been readying their classrooms for the new "school" year, they have been posting pictures of all the little angels in the hallways and in the classroom.  Little baby faces are surrounded by flower petals, farm animals have our cute little babies superimposed on their faces, and babies are smiling from every bulletin board.  "Well, isn't that cute!" I exclaimed to myself when I noticed the new decorations.  I immediately searched for Jr.'s face on a lion or a dandelion.  Here is the picture I found (minus the daisy around his face).

This is not a good face.  In simple language, this is a bad face.  Every other little face was smiling and laughing -absolutely pleased as punch to be photographed.  Not, Jr.  But, I wonder, why would they choose to display such an unflattering picture?  Regular readers of my blog know that Jr. can be quite smiley and photogenic.  Not only did I worry that he looked so angry at daycare (Is he not happy?!), but I began to worry that the teachers don't like him (Why else would they post such a picture for all to see?!)  It took all that was in me to not raise a complete ruckus for displaying this bad-face picture of my beautiful baby.  I did, however, jokingly confront his new teacher and show her just about a million smiley-faced pictures on my phone.  "He really DOES smile!" I tried to convince her.  I left announcing that I would just print off a smiling picture myself and bring it the next day.

I got home and calmed my nerves with baby hugs and kisses.  The next day, the picture incident was long forgotten (ok, maybe not long forgotten, I had already ordered several prints of more flattering pictures to bring next week.).  But, when I picked him up that evening, I found two incident reports in his cubby.  Apparently, Jr. had been bitten by a classmate twice on his back.  Well, that's fine.  I understand children that age sometimes bite due to frustration with communication.  It wasn't until bath time,when I discovered this mark, that I almost lost my mommy-mind:
Ahhhh!  That rotten vampire child actually left a bite mark on my baby!!!  I was ready to attack that bully of a toddler and the parents that made him.  I went right up to the daycare this morning and had a word with the teacher and the director.  Well, actually, as is my nature, I jokingly commented, "So, we have a bully in the room? Hehe!"  The teacher just looked at me a bit strange and said, "I can't give you any details about that."  Really?!

"Well, I didn't think much of it, but then I saw the BITE MARKS on his back last night." I retorted.

"Oh, didn't you see the incident report?" teacher asked me with a patronizing tone.

I think I may have rolled my eyes.  Of course I saw the report.  And, now I'm asking about it.  What the heck happened to my baby!!!

As I stumbled over my words and my frustration, the director must have sensed my motherly anxiety.  She assured me that Jr. had not acted provokingly, but that another child has taken to biting and even bit her son (who is in Jr.'s class as well).  Apparently, they are on top of this little issue.  I felt a bit better.  But not a lot.  And hubby is pretty outraged.  I remind myself there is good reason for the policy to not disclose the name of the child and that this type of behavior is pretty typical of the age.  I'm trying to not be a belligerent, difficult parent.  But, this is unacceptable!!  And, which of those little brats is responsible?  I'm guessing this one:
I mean, look at that crazy, angry face?  (no offense to this child and her parents, whoever they may be).

Everything I know as a professional tells me this is normal par-for-the-course and that I must be calm.  Babies who can't talk, bite.  Babies don't mean harm to their friends when they bite.  It isn't a personal assault against Jr.  It's a phase.  Calm.  Peace.  Pray.

But, really, this is unacceptable! That yuck-face picture is now the furthest thing from my mind.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Protect Your Child From West Nile and Hurricane Isaac

Last weekend I had a chance to sneak away for a couple hours and get myself a lovely, relaxing pedicure.   Next to me sat a mother and her two young girls, emerald green polish ready, reclining in their chairs, watching CNN on the tv.  While reclining in my massage chair and having my feet adequately rubbed and soaked, I heard one of the young girls, probably no older than twelve, exclaim, "Oh no, mother!  A hurricane is coming!"  Her voice contained so much panic, my ears naturally perked, as any child mental health care worker's would.  In that moment, I knew, the child's anxiety lie directly in the palm of her mother's hand.  As much as we may resent it, a parent's response to their child's anxiety can make all the difference in either squelching the fear or feeding it like kindling to a campfire.
So, what did mother do?  She exclaimed in an equally horrified voice, "Keep watching! Where is it!"  Now, I don't know the family's history, they could very well be survivors of Hurricane Katrina or another horrible natural disaster.  But, I sure wish that mother could have controlled her reaction just a bit for her daughter's sake.  Neither of them left the nail salon with the intended dull and quiet mind that comes from an awesome foot soak and rub.

With the news today filled with warnings of West Nile virus (we live in North Texas, where street and aerial spraying are a nightly occurrence) and Hurricane Isaac, many children are probably experiencing concerns and worries, that may be verbalized or acted out.  I have seen these types of worries spread through a child's tv and become a serious case of anxiety and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The good news is that parents can have a lot of impact on a child's level of anxiety related to current events.   If you suspect your child is starting to worry after watching the nightly news, here are a few Dr. Momsie tips to try:

  1. Turn off that devil machine, the tv!  Also, turn the station on the radio when news comes on. If you feel the need to stay up on current events, watch the news when the children are asleep.  I actually give this suggestion to anyone experiencing ANY type of anxiety. The nightly news is filled with reasons to worry, if you are prone to be anxious. So, avoid it for awhile and see how much the absence of "bad news" might impact your child's outlook on life.
  2. Educate your child on the topic s/he is worried about.  It is likely that your child has some very unrealistic and fanciful beliefs about the thing they fear, and some education can help calm those unrealistic ideas. Is your child worried about contracting West Nile?  Get on the internet and print up some facts to share about the actual chances of contracting or having serious effects from West Nile (FYI, the chances are slim, even now).   Let them know exactly how West Nile is spread and maybe even do a fun little study about the origins of the West Nile carrying mosquito population. When using information from the internet, though, be careful about your sources.  Use reputable sources and not message boards and commercial sites.  Avoid sharing more fear-inducing information, but focus on sharing factual information.
  3. Focus on prevention and safety.  Giving your child information about what you and other officials are doing to prevent harm and keep them safe can give a child a sense of control and security. If your child is worried about their home being destroyed by Hurricane Isaac, share with them the precautions you are taking to keep your house safe (boarding up windows, etc). Also, let them know that state and city officials will let them know if they need to leave their house, and share with them your family evacuation plan (so, yes, start formulating that plan if you haven't already).  Let them know that adults have this under control (even if they don't!). 
  4. Manage your own anxiety.  It may be darn scary to know that one in every ten misquitos carries West Nile.  You may really fear that Hurricane Isaac is headed straight to your doorstep.  Do whatever you know best to do to calm your own fears!  Get a pedicure, pray, and turn that tv off!  Children have an amazing way of picking up on adult anxiety. "If mommy doesn't feel safe, why shouldn't I?" they might think.  So, it's most important that you model a calmness and a "peace that passes understanding."  If all else fails, get yourself some Prozac.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phillipians 4:6-7).

Monday, August 27, 2012

Look at Me! I'm Cohosting the GFC Blog Hop!

This week I have the lovely opportunity to cohost my ultimate favorite blog hop - The GFC Blog Hop!  I've been sitting on pins and needles waiting for my chance, and now it has finally arrived!  Do y'all know what GFC is?  When I want to follow a blog the first thing I look for is GFC (Google Friend Connect), it's so easy and  nice to be able to go and see all of the blogs you follow in one spot. It's not the same as an email subscription, so you aren't bombarded with emails.  You just can see updates of your favorite blogs on your home page. It's really a great tool to have and an easy way to show your interest and support in a blog!

One side note- Did you know you can follow through GFC using your Twitter Account? TRUE, it's definitely an option!

If you are interested in co-hosting the next GFC Blog Hop send an email to the awesome host at:

Ok, so let's get to the party, shall we?

RULES are simple:

1. Follow your host via GFC
The First link below

2. Follow your co-hosts via GFC
The Next 8 links below

3. Link up below using your main blog url not a specific post.

4. Make sure to visit some of the blogs in the link up and follow them via GFC 
and if you want to leave them a comment, I'm sure they'd appreciate that as well.

5. Tweet about this blog hop

6. Share about this blog hop by grabbing a button and putting it on your sidebar!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Crazed Toddler on a Plane

Just four months ago, we took Jr. on his first trip on an airplane (read about it here).  I was pretty pleased with our success on that trip.  We got a little creative and broke some rules, and it all payed off.  Jr. was a sleepy, peaceful angel.  So, when we decided to join family in Minnesota for a family vacation at the lake, I just assumed we'd have another lovely flight. I packed my carry-on with Benadryl, two board books, Jr's favorite snacks, Hubby's iPad, and little else (he'd mostly be sleeping, right?). 

Toddler airplane preparation begins in the terminal.  A toddler needs tons of time to get the wiggles out and let the Benadryl take effect.  We arrived early to our gate, gave Jr. a low dose of Benadryl, and let him run wild.  Jr. becomes a social butterfly in an airport, running up to people reading their books with their earbuds in, standing in their personal space, and smiling ear to ear.  As soon as the traveler looks up and notices that they're being watched, he is off to meet his next friend.  This behavior is expected.  "When he gets on the plane and the gentle roar of the engine begins, he will undoubtedly calm down and fall into a deep sleep," I told myself.  So, after he became bored with socializing and moved to spreading goldfish crackers throughout the airport like a farmer sowing seed, I was eager to just get on that big sleep machine.

Our seats were not perfect, but still ideal.  I settled Jr. and I in our window seat near the back and attempted to snuggle him into sleep position.  Did I mention that we planned the flight for nap time?  I was so sure Jr. was going to fall into a deep slumber quicker than I could fasten my seat belt, I was a little surprised when he resisted my cuddle.  I remained optimistic.  "When the engines start, he will settle," I thought. "Then, I'll pull out my book (Freerange Kids, just in case you're wondering :)) and maybe even catch a little nap myself."
Progression of a crazed toddler from crackers to meltdown
Strangely, though, Jr. did not settle.  As the plane ascended, so did Jr's energy level.  My attempts to get him to sit in my lap were met with teeth-gnashing screeches and acrobatic back-arching.  I tried to entertain him with the board books, and he was so offended he threw down Night Night Little Pookie.  Hubby pulled out the iPad to entertain him with toddler apps and games, and he pounded the screen and yelled.  He wanted on the floor.  Then, he was mad to be on the floor and wanted in my lap.  Then he was mad to be seated in my lap and laid on his tummy with his legs dangling.  That soon made him mad and he squirmed back on the floor.  Nope, that was aggravating.  He screamed and climbed in my lap.  He tried to lower the tray table.  That made him mad.  He put it back up.  That made him more mad.  He looked out the window.  Boy, that hacked him off.  So, he tried to lower the shade.  That shade was frustrating.  He stood between my legs. He spit out his pacifier.  He screamed.  I stuffed the pacifier back in.  That made him mad enough to flail.  He stopped long enough to soft-shoe the seat in front of us.  Light tapping turned into ninja kicking.  Ninja kicking turned into a Tasmanian kicking devil baby, laughing in the face of his begging mommy.  My sweet flying angel had officially become one of those irritating fussy children that all passengers dread.  He was completely possessed by an angry manic baby.  Magic Benadryl elixir, where are you?

Finally, after two hours of wrestling, scolding, redirecting, singing, and pleading, our plane landed.  And, Jr. fell asleep. Sigh.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What I'm in Awe of Today

Psalm 33:8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
It's time to sit back and take a little time to be in awe of the Lord and his creation. Here's what I'm in awe of today:
  • How stinkin' fast Jr.'s fingernails grow.
  • Facetime.
  • How quickly an eight hour workday can fly by.
  • Jr. learning to drink out of a cup with no lid.  Where did that coordination come from?  Wasn't he just barely able to sit up on his own?
  • The beautiful, quiet, star-lit sky in Minnesota. 
  • That my sweet Hubby thought to sneak me home a yummy mini cheesecake from a work birthday party.
  • The truth in Ecclesiastes 3:1 - "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."  I've realized there may even be a season for work and for daycare.
  • And, of course, memories like these of our vacation.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Summer Fun . . . And We're Not Done!

I just have to share all the amazing fun we're having this summer! Jr. was busy learning new things (weaned from the bottle!), playing in the backyard, going to Rangers games, taking walk/jogs in the stroller, playing with friends, visiting family, and spending lots of time in the water!

And, we're not done! We're leaving to visit family in Minnesota on Friday!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dr. Momsie's Back-to-School Book Giveaway! Plus, Some Tips for School Refusal

It is that time of year again for the kiddos to put on their cool back-to-school clothes, load up their backpacks, and jump on the school bus.  Some exhausted parents will send them off with smiles and cheers.  Others, like myself, are a little less eager for school to begin.  Although Jr. isn't really in "school" yet, I refer to daycare as school because it just feels better.  And, because I work for a public school district, the beginning of the school year means back to work for me.  Saying goodbye to summer is going to be so hard!

The beginning of school can inevitably cause some anxiety for many kids.  Older kids worry about having the right clothes, finding their classes, meeting new friends, and maybe even making good grades.  Young children, on the other hand, can really struggle with separation anxiety.  You know the kindergarten kids that cry the entire first day in school? I was one of these kids.  I really didn't know mom was dropping me off to start school, I thought we were just going to enroll.  So, when mom left me in a strange room with a strange group of people, I lost my mind.  I cried all day.  My sister, who was in first grade and much more extroverted than I, actually was called down to the kndergarten class to help console me.  I think I stopped boo-hooing by the second week of school. 

That was a really hard experience for me.  And, because I remember that so vividly, I have great empathy for the little ones who completely go berserk the first few days of school.  As the psychologist in the building, I'm often asked to help with these children, especially when their resistance becomes severe or disruptive. 

If a child is still resisting school by crying, throwing tantrums, etc. after a few days or weeks, there is a fairly simple intervention I suggest.  First, parents must manage their own anxieties about leaving their child and deliver a clear message that the child must attend school.  Many parents will have to draw a boundary about what constitutes a good reason for staying home (fever), otherwise a child will mysteriously develop any and all maladies that might convince mommy they need to stay home with her.  Second, consider rewarding "brave" school attendance.  For instance, maybe a child can earn an ice cream cone if she is able to go into the school without clinging and crying.  Third, prior to school starting, discuss with your child how separation is temporary.  Give your child details about when and how they will be dropped off, their schedule for the day (if you know it), and how and when they will get home.  Read a book together such as Nancy Tillman's "Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You," Audrey Penn's "The Kissing Hand," or Patrice Karst's "The Invisible String."  These books all show how a child can feel connection with their parent, even when they are separated. 

To celebrate back-to-school, and to prepare a lucky mom for healthy separation, I'm giving away three of my favorite books!  Nancy Tillman's "Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You."

Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You

"I Love You All Day Long," by Francesca Rusackes
I Love You All Day Long

and a treasure for Christian families, "If Jesus Walked Beside Me," by Jill Roman Lord.
If Jesus Walked Beside Me

One lucky winner will win all three books! Just enter the raffle below in as many ways as you can, and a winner will be chosen on August 31, 2012.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ask Dr. Momsie - Biting

One of my darlingist readers asked,

"Hello! I have an almost three year old daughter an an almost two year old son. My daughter has been a biter since very early on in life. It has been a constant struggle. I feel like I say "We don't bite our friends" or brother or that matter ALL. DAY. LONG. My main concern at this point is that this has been occurring for almost two years now, without much progress...suggestions?!"

Biting can be a real pain (sorry, bad pun).  Many toddlers go through phases of biting, oftentimes because they don't have the language abilities to express themselves.  Biting from frustration is usually easily dealt with by talking to your child about how to handle frustration, alternative responses, and the reasons why we don't bite.  However, it sounds like your daughter may be a different kind of biter.

Some children develop a habit of biting, or even bite to be ornery.  They don't respond to a firm talking-to, and the child begins to use biting as a response to any and all frustration.  Eliminating this type of biting might take a little more punitive intervention. 

First, resist the urge to bite your daughter back.  Really, lots of parents do this to "show them how it feels."  Not only is it a bit immature for an adult to bite back a child, it sets a bad example.  Instead, think Super Nanny. What's Super Nanny's answer to every behavioral concern?  Time-out!

Many parents say, "Well, I've tried time-out and it doesn't work."  Yes, some children make time-out a real challenge for momsie.   But, may I suggest you try again in this step-by-step manner?  Remember, be consistent, firm, and non-emotional (ie. no screaming).  Also, as with any behavior change, expect the behavior to increase before it decreases.  This is called an "extinction burst" and it means that your consequence is working!
  1. Create a time-out chair, mat, bench, corner, etc.  This place should be far from any reinforcement - no t.v., toys, objects they can bang or play with.  Remember, children can make anything into a toy.  The time-out area should be a place where you can keep an eye on the child (so, not in their bedroom with the door closed.)
  2. When your daughter bites, give her a firm verbal warning.  "No biting.  The next time, you go to the time-out chair."  The end.
  3. The second time she bites, escort her to the time-out chair.  Say, "Time-out for biting.  You have three minutes."  Time out should last one minute for each year of the child's age.  So, an 18 year-old would have an 18 minute time-out (yes, it would be ridiculous to do time-out with a teenager :))
  4. Have an egg timer nearby (but out of reach) where you can set the three minute time. 
  5. If your child begins talking, gets out of the seat, etc.  Say, "Your time begins when you are quiet and sitting."  Then, restart the timer.
  6. Do not engage or give attention to a child that is in time-out.  If you have to reset the timer or guide them back to their seat, do so with as little interaction as possible.  Keep an eye on them, but do not engage.
  7. If your child refuses to sit (as many do), physically place them in the seat.  This should not be done forcefully and brutally, but some children will need to be repeatedly placed in the seat until the comply.  It may be exhausting, but if you are consistent, your child will get the picture.  Again, if they get out of the seat, reset the timer, even if they only had two seconds left.
  8. When the timer dings, go to the chair and briefly talk about why they were in time-out and give hugs.  The hugs are important, as they're reinforcement for completing the time-out and they are relationship building.  Also, your child will then need to apologize to whomever they bit.
  9. Expect the first few time-outs to take a very long time (even an hour) to get right. If you find yourself becoming frustrated, angry, yelling, or otherwise losing your cool, give yourself a time-out and deal with the behavior later.  It's very important that time-out doesn't become a power struggle.  Remind yourself that your patient efforts will pay off!  You can do it! 
Pair this time-out plan with an incentive like a big yummy ice cream cone for no biting incidents in a whole day, and you're golden and bite-free.  And, just in case your little chomper is biting to gain attention, make sure she's getting lots of hugs and positive interaction from momsie. 

Good luck and let me know how it goes!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I Like Being a Working Mom Because . . .

So, today I am home all alone.  And, I am lonesome.  I took Jr. to daycare so that he can start getting used to that routine again.  I have a little work to do, but not enough to keep me busy.  It really is not fun being home without him.  I thought it would be awesome.  Time to clean and get things done around the house without a little bugger hanging on my waist?  Perfect! But, I really have gotten used to doing everything I need to do with him around, so now those tasks just seem boring.  And, I miss him!  I dropped him off at 8:30 this morning and then got started on my list of things to do.  First, vacuum the house - Jr.'s started to hate the vacuum noise, so I've neglected that chore a little.  Second, touch up the paint on the front of the house.  Painting is really impossible with a curious little one around.   Next, clean up the flower bed.  A little late in the season, I know, but it looked pretty wild.  Also, I needed to look up some easy work-night recipes, so I just finished adequately perusing Pinterest.

It's now 10:00, and I'm bored.  I'd much rather be reading books and playing cars for the millionth time than sitting here wondering what I used to do with free time.  It's times like these that I start becoming discontent with being a working mom.  I really enjoy being home with Jr. and get kinda weepy thinking about him being in daycare while I work.  So, in an effort to be joyful in all things, I'm trying to remember all the awesome things about being a working mom.  I could easily list the things I enjoy about being home with Jr., but right now, that would be counterproductive.  I need to be inserting lots and lots of positive thoughts into my brain about working and about Jr. going to daycare.

So, I called Sissy Momsie, who is also a working mom.  She is a teacher (one of the most fabulous in the world), so she also has the summers off.  She and I feel very similar about leaving our little ones in daycare, so I knew she could relate.  Somehow, though, my search for positive encouragement turned into a mutual whine session about how it sucks being a working mom.  "Stupid Women's Liberation!"  "God delivered gender specific curses for the sin in the garden.  Women were to suffer in child birth and men were to work hard.  So, why are we taking on the men's curse as well as our own?"

When I noticed this happening, I reluctantly tried to get us back on track (it is hard not to whine).  We came up with the following reasons we love being a working mom (ok, we don't love it, but here are the reasons why we should :))

I love being a working mom because . . .
  1. Less mess around the house.  (Also, less time to clean up, so it kinda evens out).
  2. Adult interaction.  (I'm not big on adult interaction anyway, that's why I work with kids. As you can see, I'm having a real hard time with this exercise.)
  3. Being able to use the degree I'm still paying for out my ying-yang.
  4. If my child acts nutty or says something inappropriate, I can always blame it on daycare (Sissy came up with this one, and it is really the best).
  5. I don't have to read "Hippos Go Berserk" a thousand times a day.
  6. Less changing of dirty diapers.
  7. Being able to set a good example of work ethic.
  8. We both have jobs where we can help children, so that is rewarding.
  9. We pray about it constantly, so we have to trust this is God's will for our family!
Some of you may be rolling your eyes at me right now.  You may really enjoy being a working mom, or you may be a stay-at-home mom that wishes you were working.  I'd love to hear from you!  What do you (or would you) love about being a working mom?

Who wouldn't love staying home all day with this cutie?!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pinteresting Summer Projects

Like so many people these days, I love Pinterest.  It's so stinkin' inspiring!  So many awesome recipes, decorating ideas, educational materials, and, of course, DIY projects.  This summer I decided I was going to actually try some of the projects I've been pinning all year long.  Here are the highlights of my pinteresting summer projects!

Coasters made from bathroom tile, scrapbook paper, mod podge and some monogram stickers. Jr. loves to bang them together. 
Do it yourself instructions here.

Easy wall art of your favorite saying.  I had a little trouble cutting out the stenciled letters, but probably because I used a more fancy font than in the tutorial.  Do it yourself instructions here.

I've been wanting to do a gallery wall somewhere in our house for a long time. I decided to build it around our wedding guest signature frame in the hall. It is a bit of a small space, but I was able to get all my favorite pictures up. Gallery wall ideas here and genius idea of how to hang it here (I used lined wrapping paper instead of wax paper because it helps in making straight lines!)

Monogram wall art made using a pencil eraser as a stamp! So simple and isn't it pretty? Do it yourself instructions here.
What kind of pinteresting things have you made this summer?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Ask Dr. Momsie: Showering

Dearest Darlingist Dr. Momsie,
Please help!  My 16 month-old will not let me shower.  When he was taking two naps a day, I could easily get my shower in during his morning nap.  Now that he is down to one noon-time nap, my hygiene is seriously suffering!  I've asked friends, family, and even posted on my blog.  Everything I try is useless, he just screams and fusses or plays peek-a-boo as he opens and shuts the shower door.  Will I ever get a peaceful shower again?
Stinky Momsie

Well, Stinky, it's time for you to think like a psychologist. ;)  It sounds like you need to be a little more firm.  Why are you allowing your baby to open and shut the door anyway?  Let me share two of my foundational Dr. Momsie parenting principles. 

First, set your child up for success.  What is the best trick you have up your sleeve for entertaining your child?  Certainly you don't play with him all day long!  Is it coloring?  Books?  Musical toys?  Goldfish crackers?  What is it that he becomes most interested in?  Whatever it is, set him up for success by bringing so many intriguing and rewarding things into the containment area that his tears quickly fade into playful laughter.  If you leave him without adequate distractors, when he's hungry, or when he's just plain crabby, you are creating a difficult environment for any baby.

Whenever you are having a behavioral problem with a child, always ask what you can do to provide a supportive environment for success.  If there is a stressor or temptation you can remove, remove it.  If there is an incentive or support you can add, add it. 

Second, set up firm and consistent boundaries.  Consistent.  Consistent.  Consistent.  It's so important, but so stinkin' hard to do.   Inconsistent boundaries teach children to just keep trying and maybe mommy or daddy will give in.  We call this "partial reinforcement," which creates behaviors that are most resistant to change.

There are three types of boundaries, as I see it.  "Sidewalk chalk" boundaries are loose and flexible.  These are the type of boundaries you set that are temporary, for relatively insignificant rules.  Let's say you want your toddler to not eat any more crackers today.  You set a "sidewalk chalk" boundary of no crackers, but tomorrow baby might be able to eat crackers again.  These types of boundaries aren't useful for household rules or for creating behavior change - too inconsistent.

"Picket fence" boundaries are more firm and pretty consistent.  They are those loving rules we set for a child's "own good."  For instance, bedtime at your house might be 8:00 p.m.  A child might not want to go to bed at eight o'clock, but you know as a parent that it is best for a child to get a good night's sleep.  You are fairly consistent with this rule, only breaking it for very special occasions.

"Electric fence" boundaries are absolute and extremely firm.  These types of boundaries are set to avoid injury, harm, or a huge mess.  Don't dig in the trash, don't touch the hot stove, don't play in the dog's water, etc.  These are still given in love, but they may be reinforced with a more strict approach.

Stinky, you probably need to set a "picket-fence" boundary here.  Hold the shower door closed and clearly tell your baby "no-no."  Verbally direct him to his toys.  Let him cry a little.  Soon, he will realize that mommy needs just a few minutes and it's really more interesting to eat his crackers then to whine at the door. 

Dearest Darlingist Dr. Momsie,
Finally!  A beautiful morning shower!  I pulled out all the stops - crackers, books, music toys, and a fun bag to pull them all out of.  I also decided to allow him some more room to roam by opening the bathroom door to our master bedroom (which was adequately baby-proofed.)  Then, I said, "Mommy's taking a shower.  What's in your bag?"  He cried a little at the shower door, but I held it closed and said, "Go find your crackers."  Soon, he was playing and tearing up the bedroom like a good boy! 

*Please help me from having to post my own silly problems.  It's a bit strange giving advice to myself, though it worked in this case.  Please submit your Ask Dr. Momsie questions here!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Blame Game Begins

Here it goes.  As I predicted right after the tragic Aurora Colorado shooting, the media has jumped on the fact that, apparently, James Holmes, the evil killer responsible for the shooting, had been seeing a psychiatrist.  That psychiatrist was part of a threat assessment team on the University of Colorado campus, and had voiced some concern over his behavior to the team.  Also, James allegedly sent her a package containing some violent imagery that may have given clues as to what he was planning to do, but she never received it.  The threat assessment team chose to overlook the potential threat they suspected in James Holmes when he withdrew from the University. 

This type of media coverage bothers me.  Yes, our mental health care system has flaws.  And, I will even concede that this threat assessment team failed in it's mission.  Indeed, they might even hold some liability.  But, it really is more complicated than to think that a mental health professional could become concerned over a patient's behavior, report that behavior to the authorities, and then society is automatically protected from an evil person.  It is really difficult to hospitalize someone against their will.  Plus, mental health professionals are bound by confidentiality to keep many things to themselves.  When they feel sure that a client is a threat, they can and should notify authorities and work with the client to get help, but getting them hospitalized long-term is an up-hill battle.  Managed care won't allow patients to stay long, and in truth, we have a lot of "crazy" folks roaming our streets, dependent on their medication to stay sane.  Part of this is good.  We used to send our mentally ill to asylums where they were inhumanely treated and locked away forever.  Now, we recognize that even the mentally ill have civil rights. 

So, if James Holmes overly told his psychiatrist that he had plans to commit such a monsterous act, she should have told authorities, who should have had him hospitalized.  Then, he probably would have been medicated and released.  He may have recieved some ongoing therapy.  But, whether we like it or not, in one hour a week, a therapist can not learn all a client's plans, thoughts, and actions, and they certainly can't "fix" someone who doesn't want help.

So, let's stop pointing the finger and just put the blame where it lies.  With James Holmes, the one that pulled the trigger.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Photo-A-Day July Wrap Up

Me, Dr. Momsie!
I really had fun participating in Fat Mum Slim's photo-a-day challenge this month! It is probably the only chance I'd have to do it for awhile, since I return to work at the end of August.  I needed to do something to get better acquainted with the camera hubby bought me for Christmas.  I completed the "Move to Manual" series on Courtney Kirkland's blog (here) and learned a ton about how to use the camera on full manual mode.    So, what you see here was mostly taken with my camera on manual mode.
Jr. busy playing and learning
The best part of my day - snuggling in the morning with Jr. 
One of my favorites of this month!
Fourth of July!  Fun in Georgetown, Texas at Jr.'s
first petting zoo experience.
Toys.  All over the floor.  Always.

See the chair?  I tried to take a picture of a lone chair,
 but this flower caught my eye.
The beginnings of my little window herb garden.
My hubby's half eaten sandwich.
Ok, so this should say day 9.
On this day, we completed the 16 month Ages and Stages Questionnaire
for our pediatrician and I couldn't help but think about how
big Jr. is getting!
Yellow!  I like taking pictures of Jr.'s toys, because it gives me a still
object to practice my camera's manual settings with.  This little lion toy
from Jr.'s Noah's Ark is the perfect model.
Not my favorite picture, and it took forever to get him to touch the letters just right!
Jr's hands are so cute to use in pictures!
 This is him playing with his favorite texture book.
This is another of my favorites!  Our dog, Doughboy, looking out of the back
open window while we take a break heading north to Kansas.
My old high school building in Kansas.
Hubby driving during our trip to Kansas.
So many great old signs in my hometown in Kansas! 
This old Coop sign really caught my eye.
I don't know if chocolate is really my addiction, but I sure do like it!
This pretty plate was  one we received as a wedding gift.
I intended to take a picture of our dog, but saw this grasshopper on my flowers
when Jr. and I returned home from our morning walk and he was posing so nicely!
Doughboy's eyes.
We have so many locusts in our yard this year!
I was starting a shell collection for Jr., but they all blew away in a storm.
Is that gross?
Jr. loves to stand in the bathroom sink and play in the mirror.
I totally missed taking a picture on day 21 of 9 o'clock,
so I did it today instead.  Used Instagram because I didn't have the
forethought to grab my camera before we went outside.
Coloring with Jr.  I took some shots that were probably a little better,
but I liked how Jr.'s yellow shirt reflected in the light here.
Went for a walk along the local lake with Jr. and snapped some shots of the
sunshine.  I really like this one!
Another walk, and my peek-a-boo buddy.
Guess this is really more of a trail than a road :)
Cup full of goldfish.
Just bought Jr. this toddler-size backpack to start school (daycare).
After a long walk/jog to the park.  He never falls asleep in the stroller, so this is extraordinary!
Final picture of the month! Jr. strangely loves to brush his teeth.
Here, with mommy's toothbrush. 
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