Monthly Archives: December 2013

Your Expanding Family…


Many families have more than one child, and if you ask me, they are amazing! I just had the one kiddo, so my qualifications to write this post are limited. I have experience in my work seeing growing families as new members arrive, but I asked my friends and family to help me out with this post. Thank you for taking the time to get back to me with your thoughts on older sibling support, I’m sure my readers can benefit from all of your experiences. (And yes, I’m thinking mostly about the traditional family because that’s where most of my experience lies, but most of this advice can be adapted for adoptions and fostering or blended families)

Tip #1. Provide transition time. This includes things like moving your older child’s car seat to the side instead of the middle, or setting up some baby furniture items in advance so they can get used to the new set up. Give your older child a baby doll so they can act out the role of parent, but don’t worry. Kids know the difference between a real baby and a doll. They are likely to be rough because they know it’s a toy. There are also some great books out there for kids expecting new family members, but don’t overdo it. Kids need a break from all the baby talk.

Tip #2. Involve your older child in tasks. Big sis can choose an outfit for baby, or big bro can tell a story while baby gets a diaper change. Older kids can test a bottle temperature on their wrist , or they can help with bath time. Being a helper provides a sense of confidence and pride as well. When they tell their new sibling a story and see a smile, the child can take credit for that. You can help by saying things like, “your baby brother loves it when you tell him stories” or “she likes when you play peek-a-boo with her”

Tip #3. Carve out special time for your older child. When the new family member arrives, your other child will likely feel left out and jealous. Make time to read a special story, even if it’s while you are nursing or rocking another child. Take a short walk with your child, and make sure he/she knows how special they are. Even five minutes can make a big difference.

Tip #4. Last but not least, make sure you nurture each family members own identity. What I mean by this is not to compare your children to each other, especially if you have twins (experience speaking here). Each child develops in their own time, and just because your first child walked at 10 months doesn’t mean that your second child will. Nurture strengths in each of your children, and don’t sweat the little things.


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No Santa here, at least not during business hours…


The children in my program will not be making Santa Claus beards out of cotton balls or reindeer out of pom poms. There will be no pretzel menorahs or clay dreidels. Unless of course, they come up with these projects on their own (although I value the process more than the product but I’ll save that discussion for another time).

No, I’m not a Scrooge, and I celebrate Christmas with my family. But I believe children need their childcare program to continue to be consistent. Children (and adults) can become overwhelmed by all of the holiday hustle and bustle easily. Instead of contributing to the excitement, anticipation, and stress of the holiday season, I provide a consistent routine with predictable expectations for children. Our curriculum will follow the interests of the children, so if they decide to make a holiday decoration or discuss their holiday traditions, they can. But you’ll find activities related to their interests and routines more than anything else.

Please consider all of the holidays throughout the year and the impact they have on your classroom. Many times, you will find the anticipation and stress evident in your children’s behavior. And while there is much to be learned from valuing the traditions of others, it can be done in a way that is naturally inspired by the children.

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Always on Duty

There are so many occupations where you feel like you’re always working. Childcare providers are this way, we always have to be “on”. Whether we are at the grocery store or the playground or buying a car, I could be spied by a family for which I provide care.

This used to bother me and make me feel self- conscious about every decision I made. But guess what? It also made me a better care provider. No, I’m not perfect, and I’m not always right, and I make mistakes. Often. But whenever I’m out and about, I think about my actions more. It’s made me a better mom too. Children learn from us, they emulate everything we do.

So yes, I always do my job and try to conduct my life as if someone is watching me. And I feel good about that. And yes, I own my mistakes, and try to accept responsibility for them. That’s what I expect from the children in my care as well as my own child.


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Bullying: my thoughts on how to reduce it!


Some would say my son is a bully. While I love my son, it’s true that there have been times when he engaged in bully behavior. But I think the reason is quite simple: misery loves company. Children who feel bad about themselves want to make others feel the same way, worse even. My son was feeling insecure about his abilities and relationships. I’m not making excuses, but children communicate with us through their behavior.

Now the root of this problem goes so much deeper than I’d like to get into today. But one piece of this puzzle is lack of outdoor, unsupervised play (yes, I’m guilty of hovering in his early years). I’m not necessarily talking about sending toddlers out the door with a wave goodbye, but do you remember when you were a kid? Your parents would send you out to play early on a Saturday morning and not call you back in until dark. You would spend all day climbing trees, building forts with the neighbors, or rearranging stones in a stream so you and your friends could create a pool.

We weren’t just playing, we were learning crucial social skills. We had to learn to get along with whoever was available, all ages, personalities, and cultures (depending where you live…not much culture where I grew up). Children had to be members of a team to accomplish a task, often a fort, which requires thinking outside the box, patience, and compromise. And remember how excited you were when you finally dragged your parents outside late that night and showed them what you and the neighbors did? I do.

And let’s keep in mind the benefits of being in the natural environment. Children are more relaxed in the woods, with fewer conflicts and more collaboration. Fresh air and a variety of sensory stimuli make for a terrific night sleep too.



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Life’s too short to be unhappy.


My husband and I have been married for 14 years. We are happy, it takes dedication and communication, among many other things. But yes, we are happy.

Lately it seems like there are people all around us who are splitting up. While I don’t encourage couples to divorce just because things get a little rough, I do support individuals making a choice to be happy. Especially if that person is a parent.

My parents split up when I was 6 years old. My brother, sister and I all have very different recollections of that time. I remember very little, my dad being around and then not being around. And it’s funny because as a little kid, I feel like I was unaffected at that time. But those circumstances and behaviors act like a template, establishing a pattern in a child’s brain. I can see now that the effects carried into when I was a teenager: mistrust, insecurity, guilt, shame, self-doubt and even fear.

Now I’ve gone a little off course here, but my point is to be a parent means to provide your child with a model for healthy attachment. That translates to the adults in that child’s life modeling healthy relationships. And sometimes, that means separation or divorce. When a child lives with healthy relationships in their environment, they develop trust, confidence, an ability to self-regulate, a sense of initiative, and self-worth.

These qualities are the foundation of a successful and fulfilled adult. It is our job as parents to create the most positive social and emotional foundation possible so that children can learn and grow. Sometimes that means making a change in your life. A 5 year-old child recently said to me, “I’m glad mommy and daddy don’t live together anymore. All they did was fight.”

And mom, thank you for wanting more for yourself, and for being brave enough to do it. We turned out ok, right?



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