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Discover the secret of childhood from 0-3 year old:

$2 worth of Kleenex

Friday, November 18th, 2011 3:19 pm | By Stephanie Woo

Mackenzie has only done this twice and I didn’t stop her either time – though I had to stop the nanny from stopping her! If you find your baby doing this, don’t do anything. Sometimes they just NEED to experience pulling out the Kleenex! There’s no harm and you’re allowing them to follow their own inner guide. Besides, which toy can you buy these days for $2?!

Getting out of a chair

Friday, November 18th, 2011 3:00 pm | By Stephanie Woo

I’ve been teaching Brooke how to get out of the dining chair by herself. When she is done eating, I would push her chair out a little and then help her scoot her little bottom forward till her feet land on the floor. She’s finally gotten the hang of it by herself!

“See, I did that all myself!” — Brooke at 10 months

What is the best kind of shoes for my baby?

Friday, November 18th, 2011 1:21 pm | By Stephanie Woo

When your children are indoors, TAKE OFF THEIR SHOES. Children do not need shoes except to protect their feet. If they are outdoors or in school where they need shoes, put them in shoes that are SOFT, bendy and flexible.

Recommended Shoes:

  • Soft leather shoes (these shoes are my favorite)
  • Padded all leather shoes
  • Chinese slippers
  • Flexible sneakers
  • Canvas mary-janes that are easy to put on (made in Japan)

DO NOT PUT YOUR CHILD IN THESE

  • Crocs (the toe box is too big and distorts your child’s body scheme. Children in crocs can fall a lot)
  • Hard leather shoes
  • High-top shoes

But the best is NO SHOES AT ALL.

Radio Flyer Walker Wagon

Friday, November 18th, 2011 8:03 am | By Stephanie Woo

Since B and M started cruising, they are absolutely crazy about the Radio Flyer Walker Wagon. We started taking them out on the sidewalk with these and both of them can walk 1-2 blocks in the neighborhood. Here’s a video of them:

The word is ‘hurt.’ Can you say, ‘Mommy, that hurt!

Thursday, November 17th, 2011 11:08 am | By Stephanie Woo

“I don’t like it,” the 3-year-old muttered to herself as the guests left. Miserable throughout her older sister’s birthday party, she was now growing angry. “I want Ally’s doll, not this one!” Her parents had bought her a consolation present, but the strategy went down like a bomb. The girl threw her doll to the floor. “Ally’s doll! Ally’s doll!’ She began to cry…

“You seem sad. Are you sad?” is what the girl’s dad said. The little girl nodded, still angry, too. The dad continued. “I think I know why. You’re sad because Ally’s gotten all the presents. You only got one!’ The little girl nodded again.“ You want the same number and you can’t have it, and that’s unfair and that makes you sad.” The dad seemed to be pouring it on. “Whenever somebody gets something I want and I don’t, I get sad, too.” Silence.

Then the dad said the line most characteristic of a verbalizing parent. “We have a word for that feeling, honey,” he said. “Do you want to know what that word is?” She whimpered, “Ok” He held her in his arms. “We call it being jealous. You wanted Ally’s presents, and you couldn’t have them. You were jealous.” She cried softly but was beginning to calm down. “Jealous,” she whispered.” “Yep” Dad replied, “and it’s an icky feeling.” “I been jealous all day,” she replied, nestling into her daddy’s big strong arms.”

Excerpt from Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina, pg 207

I love this story. It makes so much sense. And it reminds me of Janet Lansbury’s recent article about acknowledging your child’s feelings.

When children fall or hurt themselves, I’ve seen parents pick them up and try to distract them with a toy or something new and shiny. Either the child keeps screaming or has a confused look on his/her face. When I feel hurt, I hate it when my friends try to get me to see a movie or have a drink. But when they say, “That’s hard. It is really tough to have that happen to you.” I always nod and say, “Yes, it IS hard!” Their simple acknowledgement makes me feel so much better.

Brooke and Mackenzie are 11 months now. Whenever one of them falls, gets hurt and starts crying, I’ll pick her up, hold her and then I say, “It hurts, honey. The word is ‘hurt.’ Can you say, “Mommy, that hurt!” It works like magic. A cry or two more and they are ready to crawl out of my arms and move on to the next thing.

One more thing, if you haven’t read Brain Rules for Babies, you must. If you have a baby or are around babies, read this book. To see other books I recommend, click here.

Confession of a twin mother

Thursday, October 20th, 2011 4:29 pm | By Stephanie Woo

Last week, as I picked up Brooke out of the stroller after our morning walk, I had a breakdown. A wave of desperation washed over me. I simply cannot go on taking care of these two kids today.

Just so you know, I’m not the type who “can’t” do anything. I can do anything, I’ve always thought. And yet there I was, I just couldn’t do it anymore. And it wasn’t the first time this happened.

That night, I called my coach, Kim Ann Curtin of The Coach Shoppe. She’s the best personal development coach in the world. And we worked through it all.

I was reading in Brain Rules for Babies by John Medina that children are wired for safety, not learning. They need safety first before they will learn. And if the environment is not safe, then they will not learn. Safe environment actually produce smarter kids. What kind of environment is not safe: emotional, stressed out, angry environments. The kind of space I was in when I broke down.

Luckily my coach set me straight. I clearly had not asked for the help I needed in the last three days when the kids were sick. As a result, I didn’t sleep for three nights. My nanny asked for the day off suddenly which I agreed to and I was left in a bind. Physically and emotionally I was already at the end. Rather than prevent this from happening, I let it get to my absolute limit before I reached out for help.

My coach made this all so clear for me. Who suffers the most in all of this? My kids. They saw mommy break down in tears. During the hour I waited for my husband to come home, I felt so paralyzed I couldn’t do anything for them (after Daddy came home, we were able to work together and cook lunch for them, bathe them, and put them down for a nap, before I went down for a long nap myself. Daddy took over for the rest of the day, while I rested). This isn’t what I want for my kids.

The next two days, I took my coach’s coaching and handed the kids over to the nanny.  I went for a massage, had dinner till 11pm with friends and took care of myself. It was a wonderful two days and I was myself again, happy and grateful for my beautiful children.

That’s why a coach is absolutely essential for every single mother. Husbands, mothers, mother-in-laws, friend, even fellow mothers can only do so much for you. Those relationships are generally multi-layered. But a coach is there for one thing and one thing only: your well-being.  And for a mother, that means also the well-being of her children. A coach is essential. If you need a coach, read more here.

Parent Q&A: Help! My 10-month old wants my attention/presence all the time!

Monday, October 17th, 2011 5:13 pm | By Stephanie Woo

Q: My 10 month old wants my attention and presence all the time? What should I do?

A: Children imitate. If you act very busy and concentrate fully on what you are doing, they will do the same. Create a safe playing environment where you can leave them to play by themselves, connect them to a toy that they like, then leave them alone and concentrate on what you’re doing.

My mom, Ms. Lam, tells this story:  Maddy has been throwing tantrums everyday she comes to school and refuses to go into her classroom. Mom doesn’t want Maddy to feel abandoned, so she stays with her, trying to appease her. This goes on for two weeks with no end in sight. Finally Ms. Lam tells Mom: “Tomorrow, when you come to school, please bring a book to read or some knitting. When you come, sit outside the classroom door and start reading or knitting. No matter how much Maddy cries, just keep concentrating on what you’re doing and act very busy.  This way you have not abandoned her and at the same time, she will see you are busy. If she cries, let her know that it is okay for her to cry, but you are busy.” The mother took Ms. Lam’s advice and after three days of knitting, Maddy’s tantrums stopped completely and she started going to school without a fuss.

As I mentioned in Read! Nap! Cook!, don’t interrupt your child. Don’t look over and say, “Good job!” or “You’re such a good boy for playing by yourself!”every three minutes. Don’t even look directly at him. Observe him out of the corner of your eye to make sure he isn’t climbing the bookshelf, but otherwise, don’t let the child know you are looking at him or paying attention to him. Concentrate on what you are doing.

In my experience, I find that there are certain things that will hook a child’s attention no matter how hard I concentrate on it – the computer and the cell phone. When I’m on the internet or talking on the phone, they will inevitably come over and want my attention. Either they want my phone or want me to hold them. I don’t know why this is so, but try napping, cooking, reading a book, writing in a notepad or knitting!

Also, 10-month old is the age when babies are learning the concept of ‘Object Permanace.’ They are learning “people and things still exist even if I don’t see them.” If you start with him now, it will take about 4-5 months to fully grasp this concept. Giving him a toy like this will help him learn: Box with tray and ball. Another thing for you to do is to slowly go away and come back. Go away for 5 minutes and then come back to him, then go away for 10 minute and come back, etc. When you are not within his line of vision, say, “Mommy’s in the kitchen cooking!” or “Mommy’s in the bathroom cleaning the bathtub!” Let him hear your voice and know that you are there, even if he cannot see you. This will teach him that you haven’t disappeared if he doesn’t see you, which will lessen his anxiety about leaving you to explore on his own.

What I fed my 10-month-olds twins on Oct 11, 2011

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 5:12 pm | By Stephanie Woo

Some days I just don’t know what to feed my kids. Maybe other moms have the same problem so I thought I’d share today’s menu to inspire some new ideas. What was your menu-du-jour? Please share with us in the Comments session!

Breakfast

All organic ingredients: raspberries broken into little pieces, cut-up bananas, yogurt and a couple o’s

Lunch

Took left-over rice…

cooked in some water to soften the rice…

added some organic chicken soup I made for my husband and me the night before (in the best slow cooker)…

Rice with chicken soup, chicken thigh meat, and 1-inch pieces of steamed organic carrots

Dinner

Organic sweet potato baked for an hour at 400F. Open and serve.

Picture of the Day

Brooke approves of Mama’s cooking today!

Montessori movement mat and mirror for twins

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 4:22 pm | By Stephanie Woo

How do I improve my child’s motor skills?

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 3:41 pm | By Stephanie Woo

I’ve been letting Brooke and Mackenzie loose at the park. They love to pull up on the park benches and strollers (especially ones with dangling new toys that are not ours). They’ll walk along the bench or the stroller to play with toys and each other. Mothers with toddlers who are older but not yet walking have asked me, how come B and M were already cruising at 9 months old?

Babies who are held or placed in high chairs/strollers/walkers ALL THE TIME are often severely behind in their gross motor skills for one reason only – they haven’t had enough practice! Montessori has the perfect set-up for babies to practice their motor skills. Aside from the floor bed, which gives your baby ample freedom to move, the most important thing you can prepare for your baby is the movement mat, mirror and shelf.

Mackenzie doing tummy time on her mat at 2 months old

Movement Mat

The movement mat can be located anywhere in the house, but it needs to be in a consistent place for the baby until he starts to crawl. This is the place where the baby does tummy time while he is awake. This is a time for him to be on his own, without anyone talking or playing with him. Start with a little amount of time and increase that amount of time as he gets older.

The movement mat can be any of the following

  • A piece of foam that you cut to twin-size
  • A folded blanket or quilt (put a non-slip surface underneath) to make it flat
  • A piece of carpet with a sheet over it
  • A thick yoga mat

The general purpose of the mat is to give the child some cushion so he doesn’t bump his head too hard on the floor but at the same time, provides a surface firm enough so he can get some resistance when he pushes against it. If he falls asleep on the mat, move him to his bed. This is not the place to sleep. It’s important that he can make a connection between a place and its function: this place is for sleeping, this place is for moving. Read more about this here.

Mackenzie (left) and Brooke (right) at 4 months old hanging out together on their mat

Mirror

Place a full-length mirror turned on its side along the edge of the mat. The mirror is excellent for developing his cognitive skills. It also lets him see himself and what he is doing. At first, he will think the image in the mirror is a friend, but at some point, he will see you in the mirror and see you outside of the mirror and he will understand, that is a reflection. It’s a profound moment! Watch a video of Brooke playing in the mirror at 5 months old.

Brooke and Mackenzie at 7 months old. They spend 70% of their waking hours on their floor mat exploring their environment and practicing their gross/fine motor skills. The mirror is behind them.

Low Shelf

Also, place a low shelf nearby, where the child’s toys and materials can be kept. Before they start pulling up, you can use a wooden shoe shelf. Once they start pulling up, they will love to pull up on this shelf, so make sure you have something sturdy.

Toy shelf for our 10 month olds. A 7 month old should have just 4-5 things on the shelf. Younger babies should have 2-3. Always keep the toy shelf orderly, everything has its place. Babies cannot maintain the order, but they crave the order you create for them in the house.

The shelf should contain a few pieces of material that the child is using at the time. These materials need to be applicable for his age. Babies can be easily over-stimulated, so they should not have many things. Little by little, they will slide to the shelf and take what they want to play with. Always keep the toy shelf orderly, everything has its place. Babies cannot maintain the order, but they crave the order you create for them in the house. Do not put all their toys on the shelf, pick a few that will fit nicely on the shelf, then rotate them weekly.