Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Parenting Advice

I've got all sorts of parenting advice that doesn't work, but in the spirit of giving, I'd like to share a few ideas that do work.

If your child talks incessantly and needs someone new to talk to, give him the home phone AND your cell phone and have him call himself. I've been known to do this and Buddy can talk for a solid thirty minutes to himself. A few cell minutes used, a little mommy patience spared.

If your child has too much energy and you have a lot of work that needs to be done, put a pair of ear muffs onto your child, plug in the shop vac, and let them have at the garage. An impromptu afternoon bath also works pretty well.

If your child wakes up too early in the morning and you go to bed way too late every night and really need some more morning sleep, here's an idea. First, put a dark shade or dark blinds in the child's room so the sun doesn't shine in their face at dawn. Then negotiate a good wake-up time with your child. Get them a digital clock and teach them how to tell time. Make a very large batch of pancakes and put them in the freezer. If the child stays quietly in bed until the appropriate time (8:30 in our house), they get waffles or pancakes for breakfast. This is a win-win situation because the child gets pancakes, which they love, and mommy is energetic and well-rested when she gets up. (Which is a requirement for children as hyper as mine.)

This just might be the most valuable tip of all. If your baby gets the stomach flu and is getting dehydrated because they can't keep anything down, drop a few drops of pedialyte into their mouth with a syringe. Wait ten minutes and if they kept that down, give them a few more drops. Every ten minutes increase the amount you give them until you are giving several ml at a time. You can stop once you've given approximately how much liquid your child eats total in one feeding. So for Sambo, when he was a newborn, I stopped once he got to 3 ounces of pedialyte (that is, I stop when he's had a total of 3 ounces). Now I stop when he gets to 6 ounces. It should take about an hour and you'll have to resume again for another feeding a few hours later. The work involved could prevent an ER trip since babies and small children get dehydrated very easily. Sambo had the flu three times and each time he was sick from anywhere between 7 and 10 days. Trust me, it works!

If your child wants you to buy them something, have them earn the money themselves. This is the very best lesson I learned from my parents and I am passing that lesson onto my children. I think children should understand how money works and should be accustomed to earning and spending and saving their money. When you look around at the state of affairs in this country, obviously a few parents forgot to teach their children about money. And those children have grown up to be terrible stewards of their family and business finances. So, the other week Buddy wanted a particular Halloween costume and I was unwilling to buy him another one. He already has all sorts of dress-up stuff, the one he wanted was expensive, and plus it was really lame. So, to make a very long story short, he decided to earn enough money to buy it himself. When all was said and done, G and I convinced him to wait until after Halloween because the costumes would be a lot cheaper. So he worked like a dog all week and the day after Halloween G took him shopping to find the perfect costume. He ended up choosing this and I think it was a very good choice. It's reversible!

Lastly, if your child stops taking a nap, give them a "quiet time" instead. In our house quiet time is usually in the afternoon while Sambo is napping. But I've been known to do an impromptu quiet time first thing int he morning if I need to get something done or if he's driving me crazy. Quiet time lasts 90 minutes and if he comes out for any reason, quiet time becomes 2 hours. This is the key to my happiness as a mother.

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Now, if any of you wise parents have any advice about handling a smart mouth, please let me know. I have a few techniques and punishments for handling outright disrespect (which aren't really working either), but for today I need help with this type of smart mouth. Buddy has a real habit of using the things I say to him against me. How do I convey that I'm the parent and he's the child and some things aren't appropriate for children to say? Here are a few scenarios. Say your child is talking back. You ask them to talk respectfully and they reply, "I'm in a bad mood. And if someone is in a bad mood you should just ignore them. So just ignore me." Or one day I put him in time out for putting pebbles in our neighbor's air conditioner unit. He was calm the entire time. But when he came out he said, "I'm going to say this with my words. While I was in time out I was thinking I am very upset with you and you are very disrespectful." Or then there's the recent time when he said, "I am mad at you and want to say something to you but I'm not going to because it's too mean."

I mean, I've taught him not to yell or whine and to "use his words" which he obviously does. Except his words just don't sound so nice coming from a small boy. Where's the balance here?

Any advice? Please?


Emma said...

That is some great advice. I wish I had some for you. David has quite a smart mouth too. I'm interested to hear what others have to say.

StrykerLOVE said...

I think with your first scenario when he said to ignore him - you should have really taken him at his word and ignored him the whole day (not really of course to keep him safe and fed) but he's so smart that I would guess he would get the concept that you have to face the consequences of the things you ask for. Your second scenario .... I think only showed that you are an awesome mother. He feels so safe with you and has such a trust and repore with you that he feels good enough to tell you he is mad - but he did tell you that he was keeping his mouth shut about the mean things he wanted to say. He knows there is a line he can't cross. I don't think you need any advice at all M - everything you said seems wise and true maybe just some more endurance and vacation time.

Myndi said...

That is one witty child you've got there. Just wishing I had come up with those comebacks myself!

Myndi said...

That is one witty child you've got there. Just wishing I had come up with those comebacks myself!

Michelle said...

Maybe I should rethink my wanting to have kids....and I have to say that you have the patience of a saint.

Thanks again for picking us up at the airport, much appreciated. I can't wait to see posts about Buddy's birthday this weekend! Whoopee!