Fostering Emotional Health In Our Children

Children and Emotional Health…how to foster emotional health in our children is, to me, one of the most misunderstood areas of child development.


I am the first to say, I wish I knew or I wish we knew more about child development while raising our own daughters.

While we are raising our children it is sometimes difficult to put aside the “ways” of  own parents. They sneak into our relationships with our kids, especially when the going gets rough and we are tired.

Crying craziness…

When children are crying and their emotions are running high it has a tendency to push our buttons… at that moment it is so hard to step back and gain control of ourselves much less our little one.


But that is just what is needed in order to recognize our children‘s emotions as valid and acceptable. Now, I am not talking about “no discipline”.

It is really all about discipline.

Parental or adult discipline of children should be designed to help children engage better with others and to modify or control their behavior. Providing appropriate discipline to children is one of the most essential responsibilities of a parent. And providing consistent and positive discipline helps children grow into responsible adults.

According to the Committee for Children (2004), the purpose of discipline is “to encourage moral, physical, and intellectual development and a sense of responsibility in children.

Ultimately, older children will do the right thing, not because they fear external reprisal, but because they have internalized a standard initially presented by parents and other caretakers. In learning to rely on their own resources rather than their parents, children gain self-confidence and a positive self-image.”

via Child Discipline.

Discipline is really about “teaching” and modeling behavior…in order to teach as a parent you have to be in control of yourself and your own emotions…this is not easy when our child is having “a moment”.

Allowing your child to express his feelings and accepting his feelings is a time for us as parents and grandparents to teach them that their feelings are real and acceptable unless they are behaving destructively or in an unsafe way.

Tantrums can be unsafe…first control the environment and then deal with the tantrum itself. It is sort of like a panic attack…until the panic subsides there can be no teaching.

In the beginning, fostering healthy emotional development for our children means listening and trying to decipher our babies’ cries rather than immediately suppressing or ignoring them.  It means that throughout childhood, anger, grief and sadness are acceptable feelings for our children to express anytime anywhere (although never in a destructive or unsafe manner).  Granting our children this freedom to be their whole selves — unconditional acceptance — will lead to far fewer enraged or depressed adults in the future.

via No Angry Kids – Fostering Emotional Literacy In Our Children | Janet Lansbury.


Fostering emotional health in your child and unconditionally accepting a child’s emotions within a healthy framework is essential to growth and development.

In order to accomplish this, a parent or caregiver has to first, recognize their own emotions and be able to model acceptable behavior for their children.


Learning Consequences in Childhood

happy consequences happy child

“Like many parents, ‘consequences’ is one of my buzzwords.

via Truths About Consequences | Janet Lansbury.

How does a child learn about consequences?

In some instances, it is literally a painful learning experience. For example, when a child accidentally touches something hot he will feel the pain or consequence of being burned.

Sometimes it seems, we as parents and grandparents  try to teach consequences by punishment.

Is this a good way for a child to learn consequences? I am thinking, not so much.

If you want your child to be in bed at a certain time and they enjoy story time before bed then they must learn to get ready for bed leaving enough time for a story or face the consequence of having no story.

Child  and his dad

It takes time to set up a ritual and a proper time frame…young children must learn the steps to get ready for bed within defined time frames. This takes effort, for me the “stick-to-it-ive-ness”  of this effort is the most difficult part.

I know that young children are comforted and feel secure with rituals, even if they balk at them. They actually want us, as parents and grandparents, to take charge, just as we want help when we are tired and feeling overwhelmed.

So, why not step up and help them? It will pay off with happiness on both sides of the equation.

happy child

If your little one does not stick to the bedtime ritual time frames then the outcome will be “lights out” and no story time . This is a consequence of the child’s own behavior. Your child can learn can learn that it is not a punishment yet it is a consequence of not getting ready for bed in a timely manner.

Of course,the time frames must be monitored by the grown-up and the child must be given enough guidance about how he is doing in achieving his goal of getting to bed with enough time for a story. Perhaps, you have to set an alarm on your phone to keep you and your child on the schedule.

It will be rewarding in the longterm to have a child that understands that a negative consequence is not a punishment for his “bad” behavior. However, it is a result of  not following directions and doing what he needs to do to get the things that he wants to have…like story-time before going to sleep.


Temper Tantrum


Temper Tantrums

Tantrums are not easy to deal with…even though you love your child and grandchild to the moon and back!

During a tantrum you might want to send them to the moon!

It sometimes can seem that they are possessed by something or someone when having a tantrum…but who or what has set this usually charming child into an uncontrollable rage?

We have experienced our share of tantrums in our house…and what I have learned as a grandmother I only wish that I knew as a mom of two children less than two years apart in age.

There is always one or two events that stand out in the family tantrum history…one was my own memory of tearing a newspaper to shreds when my working mother told me she had not brought me home anything from work that evening. I was not so much spoiled as I was unhappy that she forgotten about me. I was left alone until I calmed down and the paper was completely shredded.

With my own kids…the sentinel tantrum was one at the entrance to the Miami Zoo when my younger daughter did not want to go and see any animals. She was around 3 years old.  We were hoping to have a family outing on a very hot Miami day.

I recall trying the old standby…”bye, we are leaving…you can stay here if you want”. Is that wishful thinking on the part of parents during a horrible tantrum.

Of course, nothing worked until she was ready to put her anger aside after what seemed an eternity. We then visited a pond where the resident Koi made us all laugh as they fought over food that visitors were encouraged to throw into theirwater. It was the Koi version of ‘Hunger Games“.

Usually temper tantrums and anger in children is induced by stress. Young children do not know how to handle stress and do not have the verbal skills to explain why they are so upset.

Even if they try to tell a grown up …commonly it is about something that many times parents do not have patience to listen to nor attempt to understand.

I am no different. At least I wasn’t when my kids were young.

Anger in children often comes from stress. Yes. Stress is part of a child’s life as much as it is a part of an adult’s life. Teaching a child how to handle stress is one of the best things we as parents can do for our children. A healthy dose of stress actually builds resilience …and optimism. At the same time, parents must also be aware that anger is a sign of child anxieties. There are ways to address child anxieties.

via Anger in Children: Whats Normal and Whats Not!.

I am happy to report I am different with my granddaughter…thank you, Dr. Harvey Karp and your book, “Happiest Toddler on the Block

The most important thing to keep in mind when you’re faced with a child in the throes of a tantrum, no matter what the cause, is simple and crucial: Keep cool. Don’t complicate the problem with your own frustration. Kids can sense when parents are becoming frustrated. This can just make their frustration worse, and you may have an escalated tantrum on your hands. Instead, take deep breaths and try to think clearly. via Temper Tantrums.
Dr. Karp’s advice is simple and easy to follow. It is called the “fast food rule
Follow the Fast-Food Rule. This rule is simple: When your child is upset, you should take a lesson from the order-takers at a burger joint — always repeat back his “order” (what he wants) before you tell him your “price” (what you want). Toddlers who are in the middle of a meltdown are incapable of hearing our message (our reasons, reassurance, distraction or warning) until they’re sure we understand and respect their message. So when your tot is upset, before you mention your ideas, take a minute to sincerely describe what he’s doing and how you think he feels.

Janet Lansbury who writes her own blog has this to say to a mom regarding tantrums. In this particular situation there is a ‘new baby’ that a toddler is trying to accept.

Don’t feel responsible when your daughter doesn’t get her way and falls apart…. What she needs most of all (especially right now) are confident, stable, unruffled parents who project calm in the face of her storms (and the freedom you are giving her to have them).

Clarify the situation and make a plan. During more peaceful moments together, talk about life after new baby. Give her details about the changes that will occur, an imagined play-by-play of the day with the new baby.  Be honest and realistic.  Toddlers are way too perceptive to believe any whitewashing, and that won’t help her feel settled.  Tell her that although you will be very busy taking care of the baby and not be available for her all the time, you’ll make sure she always gets what she needs (through daddy, grandma, etc.). Tell her that you two will have some special time together each day and maybe once (or twice) a week a special outing that she picks.

Then, later, when you are busy with the baby and she’s upset you can say to her calmly and confidently, “I know you want me to do such-in-such with you now, but I can’t. I know it’s hard to wait, but we will have our time together in an hour (or whatever). I’m looking forward to it.”  She may have to keep testing that limit until she is certain you will hold your ground.

If you can make the outings work, I highly recommend them, even if you can only give her a choice between a walk down the street and a half-hour outing to the park. It’s not about what you do (or even the amount of time), just about being together. From my experience, those little one-on-one dates with your big girl will be very special, just the way dinner dates with a husband feel extra special once you’ve become parents.

Encourage her to process the feelings. Another thing to do in peaceful moments together is to check in with her about her feelings.  The goal is not to get her to label them, but to assure her that anything and everything she is feeling is normal, expected, perfectly all right.  You might put it this way, “When children have a baby brother or sister they have all kinds of feelings.

via Positive Parenting In The Tantrum Zone | Janet Lansbury.

What do you find helpful when dealing with a tantrum?

How often does your little one have a ‘meltdown’?

I would be interested in hearing your personal experiences.

Toddlers …”Stay in Bed…PLEASE!

In our home, once upon a bedtime used to mean a simple, pleasant and relatively easy routine  until “bad dreams” became one our little one’s nighttime fears.

Fortunately, the ‘bad dreams’ have all but disappeared with the help of a magic wand and consistent reassurance whenever our toddler is awakened crying and frightened.

Now bedtime has become its own nightmare…procrastination has taken over our once relaxing routine. Our little granddaughter is a master at asking for sips of water, multiple stories, hugs and kisses to name only a few of her requests when the word ‘bedtime’ is spoken.

Before we get totally weary, we have decided to deal with this issue now and without delay.

We are about to pursue some tips from the Sleep Lady. Even though, I also work in the field of child sleep teaching, I admit that I must remain open to suggestions when dealing with issues within my own family.

First off, we will all sit down with our granddaughter to discuss the “new” routine making sure that she knows we will always be nearby….(which is actually a return to our pre-nightmare routine)…however, we will not be rocking her to sleep or reading numerous books…there will be one sip of water…good night hugs, kisses and  tuck in.

These days, naps after morning pre-school are inconsistent, so 8-8:30 pm seems to be an appropriate bedtime  in order to get the recommended ten to eleven hours of sleep for a 3  1/2 year old. She also has  one hour quiet time every afternoon.

Goal: in bed, asleep between 8-8:30 pm.

The Bedtime Routine:

  • go to the toilet
  • bath
  • brush teeth
  • read a story
  • rock for two minutes
  • get into bed
  • sip of water
  • hugs, kisses and tuck in
  • leave the room
  • gate up/door open
  • How does bedtime work for your preschooler?
  • Are you consistent with your child’s bedtime routine?


  • Does a grandparent or other caregiver not follow the routine… are they more easily diverted by your child’s prize winning procrastination abilities?

I have to say that I am the grandparent who, at times  gives in, and Papa can be sometimes equally as bad as I am.

At this time, we are committed to a firmer routine so that all of us can sleep better.

It is the least we can do…

Sleep is just too important.

Related Reading:

Helping Your Toddler Go to Sleep and Stay in Bed | SleepLady.

Babies and Sleep…

Interesting interview about sleep, parenting and children.

Dr. Lieber shares some key information about babies and sleep. He mentions one of my favorite books on sleep…“Healthy Sleep Habits…Happy Child by Dr. Mark Weisbluth.

I hear more discussions among young moms about how good or how poorly their babies and they are not sleeping.

I love the area of babies and sleep …maybe because as babies, my own children were good sleepers. At the time, I did not know too much  about what makes for a good sleeper…but I was a mom with a routine and I recognized my baby’s sleep cues. Luck was big part!

Since then, I have made good sleep habits and sleep help one of my interests in the care and treatment of babies and children.

Please enjoy this interview from Mamapedia with Dr. Andrew Lieber, M.D.

 My favorite excerpt from the interview:

Dr. Lieber:  “parenting children involves long days but short years” 

via Expert Advice on Babies and Sleep – Mamapedia™ Voices.

Toddlers and the “No” Word!

I recently read a blog post by Lisa Sunbury  about how often we use the word , “No” when dealing with our own children.

It amazed me,  especially as I began to listen to parents while I was out shopping and running errands …but more importantly I began listening to myself as I spoke to my own granddaughter during any given day.

I say the “no” word more than I would like to admit.

The word “no” should have real meaning when you say it especially to a child. If you repeat the word “no” over and over it really loses its effectiveness when you really need a child to listen.

Here are some of my tips to fight over use of, “No” with toddlers.

  • Try to recognize what the child is doing and call attention to it. For example…”You are walking on the sofa”.
  •  Next explain that sofas are for sitting or laying down…”we walk on the floor and we sit on chairs and sofas”.
  • Ask for his cooperation and help with keeping the sofa clean by not walking on it.

One of the hardest times of the day with a toddler is just around dinner time…it is no different in our house. Usually there are several requests for cookies or something that will spoil her dinner. Instead of a curt “ crackers right now” which then turns into a whining match, this is my new response,

“I know you want some cookies but we are going to have dinner in just a little bit…can you help me get it ready? You can have some cookies after dinner”.

Sometimes this strategy buys a little time but it definitely takes the word “No” out of the conversation.

Lisa Sunbury has some 6 Tips to avoid the word “No”.

  • Rephrase your request in a positive way: Instead of  saying, “No, don’t run,”  try, “Please walk inside.”
  • Let your child know what he may do instead of  telling him what he can’t do:
  • Ask for your child’s help and thank him when he gets it right:  Instead of,  ”I said no yelling!” try lowering your own voice and saying, “Thank you for remembering to speak softly while your baby sister is sleeping.”
  • Explain the reason for your request, and  state what behavior you want to see instead: Instead of  saying, “No, don’t________ ,” try stating,  ”I want you to_____________ because__________. “No, don’t bang on the table,” becomes, “I want you to stop banging on the table because the sound it makes is loud, and it’s hurting my ears.”
  •  Use “sportscasting”  to say what you see: Instead of saying, “No throwing food!” try saying, “You’re throwing your food. That tells me you’re done eating, so I am going to put the food away now.”
  • If your child is hitting, kicking, or biting: Instead of saying, “No hitting/kicking/biting!” try saying, “Hitting/kicking/biting hurts! I won’t let you hit/kick/bite me. If you want to hit/kick/bite, you may hit the floor (or these pillows)/kick this ball/bite this teething ring.”

Recently we have been watching the Disney movie, “Enchanted“. There is a short scene where, Giselle is complaining to Robert that he is always saying …”No”.

It takes on more meaning for me when I read this on Google and after reading Lisa’s post.

A UCLA survey from a few years ago reported that the average one year old child hears the word, No!, more than 400 times a day! You may, at first, think this must be an exaggeration but consider this…when we tell a toddler No! we usually say, No, no, no!.

via Google Answers: Hearing the word “No” as a child.

Lisa Sunbury’s blog is a remarkable resource for parents and their children. It is my hope this post which includes only a snippet of her work with kids and parents inspires you to connect with her work.

“A Tree for Max”…by Jerry Halberstadt…a review

A Tree for Max by Jerry Halberstadt

I loved  “A Tree for Max”…it is delightful read for a child as well as an parent.

This is a book I will happily share with my 3 year old granddaughter throughout her childhood.

At first, I am sure she will enjoy a synopsis of this fable, while focusing on the beauty of the photography and the imaginary conversations occurring among the forest trees.

What a wonderful way to stimulate her sense of make-believe and awe!

As she gets older, I know she will appreciate the story of Max’a move from one home to another, as she  experiences along with Max the changes which take place when a child is transplanted.

A Tree for Max” is a book which continues to grow along with a child as he/she journeys through life and will bear fruit all along the way.

Disclosure: I personally know Jerry Halberstadt and was given a copy of “A Tree for Max“, my review was unsolicited and my opinions are as always my own.

Stress Busting and Parenting….

stress busting

Parents and stress…oh my this is such a topic.

Long hours…little recognition for all that parenting entails

No one can really tell you what it will be like…being responsible for a child

And when some one does try…their words may fall on our deaf ears

What it will be like if you decide to have more than one

I always say in my experience when it comes to children 2 was more than double 1

It is an exponential experience

Simply, stress is part of life and parenting

As parents, trying to manage stress is up to us

It is when we manage our stress that we teach our children how to manage theirs

So here are some of my personal suggestions.

  • Breathe…try to concentrate on breathing when things are particularly stressful at a given moment. This practice always helps me gain some composure and control.
  • Sleep…get enough of it…replenish yourself regularly…most of us do not allow ourselves to sleep enough…we consider it a luxury when it is a necessity…come on… we all know this…don’t we?
  • Exercisewalk…park your car farther away from the store…run when you could walk…I’m always surprised at the opportunities I miss to exercise even a little during each day.
  • Eat…when I watch what I eat I feel better…treat yourself once a day to something special…a piece of chocolate or a cup of tea. Take the time to savor whatever it is…eat it mindfully and really enjoy that moment.

Stress will follow us around unless we do battle with it.

I do battle with it every day.

It never gives up and I try not to either.

Childhood Obesity…A Tragedy…


 Children, Obesity, Epidemic

Sadly, these words can all be used together to describe the plight of many youngsters today. Nearly every week there is something significant written about the obesity epidemic. It has even been related to child neglect and abuse with some states wondering if morbidly obese children should be put into foster care.

The goal is primary prevention ….prevention that starts with education of parents and preventing children from becoming overweight as infants and continuing to be overweight in childhood on into adulthood.

It has been found in some studies that a high percentage of parents do not realize that overweight children face the same health risks as overweight adults…high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. All of these medical problems have the potential of shortening a person’s life. For some reason the message and myth that a fat baby is a healthy one is still prominent in the minds of many parents and grandparents. Back in the day this was thought to be a truth that was widely accepted. For many years, it has been scientifically known that this is a false belief.

“Obesity is likely going to limit a person’s life expectancy and increase their future health care costs,” she said. “So for us, it was a realization that we need to help parents better understand that childhood obesity does track into adulthood.”

Both parents and nonparents cited parents as the group with the greatest role in preventing childhood obesity. But parents were more likely than nonparents to endorse an “it takes a village” approach to limiting childhood weight gain. About 81 percent of parents supported requiring healthy food choices in areas with vending machines, compared with 77 percent of nonparents. Likewise, 77 percent of parents supported insurance coverage of obesity treatment, compared with 69 percent of non parents.

It is my belief that education beginning in the pre-natal period is where prevention has to begin. A healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby is first…then ongoing education and well baby care is the next step.,0,4311598.story

Here’s what the experts found, with recommendations about exercise for children under the age of five:

— Babies and toddlers spend too much time strapped in car seats and buggies. That should be reduced. Get them out more, and make them walk if they are able and move actively.

— Toddlers should be physically active and allowed to move around freely for at least three hours per day.

— Babies should be active from birth, using activity mats, swimming or through active engagement with another person

 We are currently seeing some efforts to educate parents…there is a current controversial Strong4Life campaign in Georgia to combat childhood obesity. Parent advocates are critical of the billboard and statements of obese children saying that this is a campaign based on shaming overweight children and adolescents. It is also blaming parents for not monitoring what their children eat.

Public Service Announcement on Obesity in Kids

The Strong4Life site offers “Learn,” “Ask” and “Get Started” pages for families, featuring information, resources and tips on exercise, nutrition and losing weight.

My feeling is DO “whatever it takes” to prevent the children of today from having a shorter life expectancy than their  parents.

Bring on the billboards…bring on the controversy…and the arguments…tax sugar loaded products…hold fast food companies accountable for providing healthy choices… go ahead and criticize parents for their own eating habits and the way they feed their kids…if  that’s what it will take to prevent this epidemic from spreading to the next generation…just do it.

Concurrently…develop programs to educate parents and kids to make better food choices from the get go …and if a child is in danger of death from obesity complications then unfortunately Family Services will have intervene to supervise the child’s health care. I am not in favor of taking a child from a family unless it is truly a case of child abuse and neglect with determining factors. But uncontrolled obesity in a child may soon be considered abusive and neglectful.

Nelson TF, Stovitz SD, Thomas M, LaVoi NM, Bauer KW, & Neumark-Sztainer D 2011. Do youth sports prevent pediatric obesity? A systematic review and commentary. Current sports medicine reports, 10 6, 360-70 PMID: 2207139710Share2inShare

via Weighty Matters: After School Sports Increase Junk Food and Total Calorie Consumption.

Answers to common vaccine questions

Child vaccinations

Vaccinations…a dilemma for some parents. Get some more answers from a doctor and a parent in the link below.

via Answers to common vaccine questions.

Here are some of the most common questions I encounter regarding vaccines and my answers.  I’m writing this post, from a parent to a parent, because I want to equip you with accurate information to protect your children.