Amy's Blog


Pleasing Your Picky Eater

May 2022

Convincing a picky eater to eat can be a challenge for parents. Between the ages of about 2 and 5 it's natural for children to become mighty fussy about what they will and will not eat. Try the following tips to keep your sanity and the peace at mealtime, while feeding your child a balanced diet.


Keep it Healthy for Your Picky Eater:

  1.  Take the long view. Evaluate whether your child is eating a healthy diet over the course of a full week. Toddlers may have individual days when they'll eat nothing but noodles, but that's okay if it balances out in the long run.
  2. Introduce new foods gradually. As your child gets more mobile, they're designed to test whether the new things they encounter are safe to eat. You'll often get the best results if you present a new food every day for about 1 to 2 weeks.
  3. Scale it down. Small children need small portions. They'll ask for more if they're still hungry. Encourage them to try one bite at a time. Limit meal times to a maximum of about 30 minutes. Serve smaller and more frequent meals if possible. Sticking to a regular schedule may also get good results.
  4. Use innovative recipes. A little creativity can work wonders for getting your child to eat their vegetables and other wholesome fare. Grate carrots into pancake batter. Bake spinach lasagna. Munch on leftover chicken in the morning and serve waffles and other breakfast items for dinner.
  5. Rely on nutrient dense foods. There may be times when your preschooler doesn't have much of an appetite. Make every calorie count with powerhouse foods like yogurt, beans, and peanut butter.
  6. Stay calm. Emotional health is also important to your family's wellbeing. Talk about pleasant things while you eat to avoid making your child's dining habits the center of attention. Indulge their preferences within reason. Above all, take heart that this fussiness is a passing stage.


Make it Fun for Your Picky Eater:

  1. Take your child food shopping. Use grocery shopping as an opportunity to discuss good nutrition and admire attractive displays of food. Let your child pick out fruits and vegetables. Welcome their suggestions for planning your weekly menu.
  2. Start a garden with your child. Children will be more interested in food if they help to grow it. Make it merry by planting a pizza garden or giving children their own colorful watering can. If the weather turns cold, cultivate easy indoor herbs like mint and chives.
  3. Let your child help out in the kitchen. Involve your child in preparing meals and snacks. Even small children can use cookie cutters to turn bread into unusual shapes or help arrange vegetables into funny faces.
  4. Make dining a social experience. Schedule a lunch date with other children and adults who can serve as good role models for eating well. Pack up a picnic lunch or visit a family friendly restaurant.
  5. Get messy. Kids love to get a little wild. Make a game out of dipping baby carrots in yogurt or smearing toast with peanut butter. Give ordinary dishes gross names like olive eyeballs.
  6. Use fun props. Presentation is the key. Look for cups and plates with your child's favorite cartoon character or zoo animals. Wear funny hats. Develop a ritual to celebrate eating together including your own theme songs.

It's exciting to watch your toddler grow and master new skills even when you need some extra patience at meal times. Learn to please your picky eater so your whole family can eat a balanced diet and enjoy these years together.

Winding Down for Better Sleep

April 2022

Helping your child to fall asleep and stay asleep is a challenge for most parents. Every child is different so it requires some flexibility to find the patterns that will work for your family. Experiment with a combination of these techniques as you put together your own formula for success.


Steps to Take During the Day

  • Seek out natural light. Even though we’re surrounded with electric lights, our bodies are still attuned to the sun. Open the curtains to give your child exposure to morning light and spend at least a half hour outdoors during each day.
  • Engage in physical activity. Regular exercise promotes restful sleep at any age. Encourage sports, games, and playtime. Ride bikes or throw a ball around in the backyard.
  • Maintain a sensible schedule. It’s harder to come to a complete stop when you’ve been rushing around all day. Pace yourselves. Regular eating patterns will also reduce the demand for nighttime snacks.
  • Take naps. Evening hours may be the only time working parents can spend with their kids. Dozing in the afternoon can compensate for slightly later bedtimes.
  • Reduce environmental irritants. Chemicals and allergens often interfere with sleep. Select natural bedding and sleep wear. Clear away dust and pet dander.

Steps to Take at Night

  • Set a consistent bedtime. Aim to have your child go to bed and rise at the same time every day. Stick to a similar schedule on weekends and holidays.
  • Provide advance notice. Older children will understand a warning that it’s 10 minutes until lights out. Babies start responding to cues like running bath water and putting on pajamas.
  • Turn off the TV. Artificial light stimulates our brains. Give your kids a curfew to turn off all devices a couple of hours before bed.
  • Read bedtime stories. Story time creates a great transition for sleep and a lot of happy memories. It will also instill a love for learning.
  • Develop other bedtime rituals. Warm baths and soft music add up to a soothing atmosphere. Throw in a teddy bear or stuffed bunny for overnight company.
  • Play white noise. Any monotonous sound hastens sleep. Turn on a fan or play a recording of the ocean.
  • Warm up. Warmth is also conducive to happy dreams. Give your child flannel sheets to snuggle in. Bedroom temperatures of about 70 degrees with 50% humidity are usually ideal.

Steps Especially Designed For Babies

  • Swaddle them. Sleep sacks and tightly wrapped blankets comfort babies. Make it snug enough to hold their arms and legs still.
  • Massage them. Gentle touching puts your baby at ease and draws you closer together. Take a class or watch a video for instructions.
  • Burp them. When babies cry, they swallow air. Gas builds up and makes them cry more. A soft thump on the back will break the cycle.
  • Move them. Even adults tend to doze off more easily when they’re riding in a car. Help recreate the motion in the womb for your baby by rocking them in your arms or in a chair. If you put them on top of a running dryer, be sure to hold them in place.
  • See your doctor. Your doctor can check for medical causes if your baby wakes up frequently and shows signs of distress. Two common issues are allergies and a condition called gastroesophageal reflux that is like heartburn. Otherwise, most sleep disturbances are natural and will pass in time.

Get your child off to an early start with good sleep habits and a positive attitude about bedtime. Your whole family will enjoy better rest and better health.

DISrespect

March 2022

“But she’s just so rude to me! I never would have spoken to my parents that way!”

                                                  -Most parents that call for parenting help


When you imagine having children, I’m sure it does not cross your mind that they will become furious with you, and say incredibly hateful things to you. Those moments surprise us, feel like a punch to the gut, and can throw us for a loop. Rudeness from a child has the potential to trigger Every. Single. Feeling.


Here’s what I know for sure: Punishing and consequences do not change this behavior. And, in fact, they often lead to bigger arguments and more rudeness. It might make us feel better in the moment, because we’re getting revenge, but I’m guessing that seeking revenge is not in your family’s value system. And it often does not feel good in the long term.


So what do you do?!


It’s time for a little reflection:

  • When your child is mean to you, what thoughts and feelings come up for you?
  • How do those thoughts and feelings impact the way you respond?
  • Do you think that your response is teaching kindness?
  • How did you learn to speak kindly to others?
  • Think of a person who almost always speaks with kindness. What are they like? What do they sound like? What makes you feel like they are a kind person to talk to?
  • When your child is mean to you, what story do you tell yourself about who you are and who your child is? What do you tell yourself about what sort of life they’ll live? What sort of adult do you think they’ll turn into?

Why is this important? Because when we’re in a relationship with someone, we have to be aware of our own feelings. What pushes your buttons? What do we find triggering? It is not our children’s responsibility to tip-toe around us to avoid triggering us. It is our responsibility to figure out how to remain calm in the face of meanness, and model kindness back to our children.


When children are disrespectful, they are using that rudeness to solve a problem and meet a need. Shocking, right?! It would be SO much easier if they used more appropriate strategies to meet their needs. Strategies that felt a little more palatable to us, like asking for help or asking for a hug. But that is often too difficult for kids to do when they’re upset.


So what can you do?


  • Be honest but not blaming. “I don’t like to hear people speak to each other that way.”
  • Look for ways to reconnect. Play is an amazing way to do this. Touch and humor are a great way in, and laughter helps to release the tension.
  • Solve the problem together. “Let’s go find that book together!” Or “Let’s sweep up this spilled cereal! Do you want to sweep? Or hold the dust pan?”
  • If these attempts are met with more rudeness, it’s okay to set a limit. Does this mean it’s your turn to start yelling? No. Get down on your child’s level, make eye contact, and say “I feel hurt when you talk to me like that. Let’s sit together for a minute. What’s up?”

Still getting sass?


Keep trying. “I can see that something is really upsetting you. I want to understand what’s going on.”


Setting a limit in this quiet way can take the air out of the verbal aggression. And getting close and asking your child to stop, without making threats, will help your child feel safe. Before long, your child will be smiling and joking and bouncing on the sofa.


Oh wait! One final meltdown! But this time you’re seeing tears or rage.

Believe it or not… this is progress. When your child feels connected, they have space for their real feelings to surface. And, often, after this meltdown, you’ll see calm. Why? Because they’ve been able to express their feelings in the presence of a safe and loving person. Rub their back, offer a hug, and say things like “It’s so hard. I can see that.”


[Deep breath]


There will be calm after the storm. You will know that your child has released their anxiety or anger because the tears will stop, and your child’s eyes will not be rolling. You’ll see your child comply with your original (simple) request as if it was their idea. They’re giving you a new clue about their feelings. But this time it’s gratitude. They’re going to cooperate and show you that they can meet your expectations without rudeness. They’re grateful for your calm presence.