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Written by Mama Monday

Blog posts written by mamas on cloth diapering, green living, natural parenting.

How to make the most out of your childs favorite tv show. Thirsties Blog

Have you ever thought about the life lessons your child learns from his favorite TV show? While not all TV shows are alike and some are proven to bring the IQ of a child down (ah hem SpongeBob…) there are a few gems out there on the boob tube. Why not make the most out of those shows and use them to your advantage? It’s worked for me!

Thomas the Tank Engine – There have been so many times I’ve used the major theme in any Thomas episode of being a “useful engine.” It was particularly helpful when my son (who, to this day, is still an avid Thomas fan) was under the age of three and hadn’t quite grasped the concept of helping out. If he wasn’t helping pick up his toys or if he was acting out in public, I simply told him that he was not being a useful engine. That did the trick! I even went as far as to have my brother-in-law pretend to be Sir Topham Hat (the railway conductor) because my son was really acting out and I just could not get him to listen to me. It definitely worked and I really only did it twice.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood - If I had a dollar every time a Daniel Tiger episode helped me explain a difficult concept to one of my kids I would be a millionaire! The reason why I love Daniel Tiger so much is the same reason my parents loved Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood when I was a child: He tackles difficult emotional situations such as being frustrated or feeling sad in a way that’s easy for children to comprehend. And on top of those lessons, songs are added into the episode that can be sung later! A few of my favorite episodes is the one where Daniel needs to learn how to dress appropriately for the weather outside and the episode where Daniel learns how to calm himself down. You will frequently hear us singing Daniel Tiger songs throughout the day.

Sesame Street – Aside from Sesame Street’s educational aspect Sesame Street tackles tough, real life situations in a way that toddlers can begin to process and understand. After 9/11, Sesame Street tackled the difficult to explain real life event in its season 33 premiere. The episode, however, never referenced the event; rather, it handed out situations that the characters needed to process such as Elmo coping with a fire that happened at Mr. Hooper’s store. What Sesame Street does brilliantly is look through real life adult situations as if they were a preschooler. Sesame Street has always done this and I don’t think it’s trait that’s ever going away. (Thank goodness!)

So sit down with your kiddo and see what they’re watching on TV. Then, see how you can reference the show to a difficult to explain situation. What are your kids’ favorite TV shows? Have you referenced them in real life?

Education choices for my children | Bert Anderson for Thirsties

Last Thursday my husband and I embarked on a new phase of parenting: Kindergarten orientation and registration. It’s been five years since my son has been born and this coming fall he’ll start educational phase of life. It should be simple, shouldn’t it? Sending a child to school seems like an easy decision to make, one that’s not filled with second guessing or too much anxiety. What I’m beginning to learn is that it can be an easy decision, and perhaps it really should be; but in a day and age where there are so many options and so many opinions it can drive a person insane.

My core group of friends have children who are either homeschooled or attend a local charter school. When my son was an infant and young toddler I was certain that we would homeschool him. I liked the ability to set our own schedule, to monitor what my child would be learning and to control the social settings he would experience. As my son aged, it soon became apparent that he and I are so much alike that homeschooling him could be disastrous for our relationship. I also began to realize that like me, he is incredibly social, thriving in a social setting where there are other children and adults he can interact with. Like me, he also is competitive; heck, it’s how I get him to clean up! We race each other to see who can clean up the fastest. Since he started attending preschool he has really blossomed into this mature little boy because he’s excelled by being in a classroom setting.

Then there’s the charter school option; initially I was set on sending my children to the same charter school that my friends send their children to. The school places a high emphasis on academic learning with its curriculum being set in “classical education.” These children are bright. They are learning how to learn in a very vigorous educational setting. While it works for my friends and their children, the more I learned about the school, the more turned off I became. I feel that kids should be allowed to be kids. I’m not saying that I’m dumbing down my children by wanting them to have a typical elementary education. What I’m saying is that I want for my children to experience the holiday parties, the arts, and the physical education that a public school has to offer. Plus, I really do believe that my children have the rest of their lives to be a grown up; it will definitely be a longer time than being a child. I want right now, for their most difficult decision to be whether they should play with Legos or wooden blocks.

Without second guessing my decision, and after discussing it with my husband, we are sending our children (starting with my son) to the public school in our town. Without comparing my child’s educational experience with another or worrying about whether or not he’ll learn enough to function successfully in life, I will “go with the flow” so to speak. I will be involved in his education; it starts at home with my husband and me. As a parent you must be involved in your child’s education. You cannot solely rely on your child’s teachers to do it all.

That’s what we’re doing: sending our son to public school next fall. If it completely fails, we can always go a different route. Nothing is set in stone.

Potty Training Fight. Bert Anderson for Thirsties

Well, I thought my daughter was ready to potty train this past December. She exhibited the signs: dryness when she woke up from her nap, telling me when she went in her diaper and then wanting it changed, and she was showing interest. One Saturday morning we decided that we would just dive right in. The first week went well; better than I had expected. She even pooped on the potty which is something my son struggled with when we were training him. Then the busyness of the holidays happened and little by little she became more careless. After a few weeks we started to just let her walk around the house pantless. Man, I got tired of looking at her naked little bottom half! So, I thought that perhaps we just needed to be persistent and have her wear underwear around the house so she got used to the idea that even though she was wearing something she still had to actually use the toilet to relieve herself.

We had a few mishaps but for a week things were looking up. Then a change happened and everything went downhill; it’s unexplainable really. I think the problem started because of our busy schedule. Three days a week my son has preschool and, naturally, his little sister is along for the ride. When we’re out and about I have been using disposable trainers so basically, there’s nothing uncomfortable about having an accident in a Pull-Up. It was a few accidents here and there when we were away from home and then she was consistently having accidents at home. I took away the underwear and went back to her being pantless when we were at home. No such luck, suddenly she was peeing all over the floor like she did when she was 18 months old (she’s 32 months now).

So, I’ve gone back to using diapers on her and you know what? She’s completely fine with that. She hated being told what to do and the battle of wills has just been too much for this pregnant mama to bear! For some reason, it was a hard pill to swallow. I felt like it was my fault; did I push her too soon? The more I think about it, the more I begin to believe that she really was showing me that she was ready. Now, for whatever reason, she just doesn’t care. It’s not my fault and eventually she’ll be interested again. She’s been back in cloth diapers for four days now and she isn’t bothered by it at all. One day she’ll be out of diapers today just isn’t that day.

Discipline Its different for each child. Thirsties

Let me begin by saying that I am by no means a parenting or discipline expert. I’m only speaking from experience. I have two children and both are completely different from each other. Brennan, my oldest, thrives on competition and positive rewards. He’s very similar to me in what motivates him and how he processes the world. Kendall, my youngest (until the Gummy Bear, #3, arrives), is much like my husband. She doesn’t want to be nagged and she likes the feeling of control. She’s also incredibly stubborn. I’m hoping this will be a good thing when she’s older; hopefully she’ll be like my husband who rarely felt peer pressure as a teenager.

For Brennan, I quickly learned that what motivated him more than the threat of a time out was the thought of earning rocks that went in a jar for making wise choices. I wrote about it once on here. As he’s aged the motivation has changed from the Wise Choice jar to being able to reason with him about the consequences he’ll encounter should he choose to disobey the rules. For example, being the oldest sibling, he’ll often see Kendall playing with a toy that’s “his” and even though he’s had no interest in it for the past week, he’ll decide that he must have the toy. Not tomorrow, or in an hour, but immediately. Rather than threaten him with a time out, I simply remind him that if he does not share then he will lose his screen privileges. Yes, screen time is a big motivating factor for my five year old. As much as I sometimes want the break that my Kindle Fire (*cough, cough* baby-sitter) gives me, if Brennan’s acting out it’s the first thing to go.

Kendall, on the other hand, thrives on choices and doing things “myself.” When Brennan was her age (two-and-a-half-years-old) I tried letting him make choices but it just overwhelmed his little brain. If I said, “You can have Mommy read you a story now or you can directly go to bed,” he couldn’t comprehend the choices that came with that’ it’s like he became paralyzed by the possibilities. He over-thought every decision. Kendall gets it though and she likes to think that she’s the one who’s in charge. We’ve been having problems with her quieting down for her nap time lately. I can give her a choice like I did with Brennan to either read a story or go to bed and she instantly chooses a story. I noticed the same thing with potty training her; I had to stop asking her if she had to go potty every 20 minutes because she just wouldn’t go. Once I stopped asking her, she went on her own. Once she was able to choose her underwear and put them on herself, she stopped wetting her pants because she had chosen them. She is totally her father’s daughter: Don’t tell me what to do because I will resist if you push me too far. She needs to own it.

As far as consequences go for Brennan and Kendall, time outs work for both them for the big things. We consider big things for our kids to be anything that puts them in danger or harms another person. If you hit your sister, it’s to the “bad behavior chair” you go. (We call it the bad behavior chair because we want for the kids to know that they’re being punished for their behavior, not for who they are as a person.) You run out into the street after a warning, we’re going inside immediately and to the bad behavior chair. We definitely pick and choose our battles wisely and not every act of misconduct warrants a time out. Save the big consequences for the big offenses. One of my favorite parenting books about discipline is Love and Logic. The approach is very realistic; the consequence does fit the “crime” in a logical way. It’s not over-dramatic.

Most importantly do what works for your family and remember that our job as parents is to raise children who will grow up to be capable adults living in this society. Do you discipline differently for each of your children?

Valentine’s Day isn’t just for lovers and I want for my children to understand that. The day of love can be used to celebrate friendships and family relationships. I’ve always liked Valentine’s Day; although I think it mainly has to do with the colors associated with Valentine’s Day. As a tomboy it was nice to get a day where everything was pink, red and white. With the origins of Valentine’s Day being rooted in the Catholic faith, the holiday originally had nothing to do with the love that we think associate it with. St. Valentine was a Roman Catholic priest who lived during the reign of the Roman emperor Claudius the second. Claudius had a law that prohibited young couples from getting married because the thought of the day was that young, unmarried soldiers fought more effectively than those soldiers who had families. St. Valentine married these young couples in secret proclaiming that it was better for couples to marry in the church than outside of it where it was allowed to have polygamist marriages. Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned, and tortured for his acts of love. The saint is remembered for taking a stand and helping those who were not allowed to marry the person they loved and I think we can all appreciate that for more than a sappy love fest holiday.

Here are some fun ways to help your little ones get excited about celebrating their love for their friends and family!

I made these pretty hearts for our dining room after finding them on Pinterest. It was difficult to find the original blog post with the directions but it can be found here on Jill Ruth & Co.

Book page hearts for Valentines Day. Thirsties Blog

 

I love this idea from Growing a Jeweled Rose. It would be especially perfect for the wee ones in your home; a Valentine sensory bath!

Valentine's Day Bath. Growing a Jeweled Rose

Participate in doing acts of love for others as a family. I love this idea from Make and Takes, and there’s even a tutorial!

Coloring-Rice-Red-for-a-Valentines-Day-Craft. Make and Takes

Create some Valentine’s crafts together as a family! Growing a Jeweled Rose has a compiled a list of great, easy Valentine’s Day crafts for the whole family to do together.

Valentine Crafts. growing a jeweled rose

This one is my personal favorite, send a hug to a family member or friend who’s far away! You can find the instructions on Paging Supermom.

SendAHugTeaser2-578x898

 

How will you be teaching your kids about Valentine’s Day?