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

How do I stop my child from climbing on everything?

Monday, December 5th, 2011 2:32 pm | By Stephanie Woo

I took Brooke to an indoor playground the other day. She stared at the older kids as they went up and down the slide. I went to get something from the stroller and when I turned around, Brooke had climbed halfway up the stairs of the slide! I almost had a heart-attack but I did my best to stay calm and watched her get to the top. I helped her slide down and immediately, she went for the stairs again.

From that day on after we got home, she started climbing onto anything she could, including the weaning table. Somewhere in the middle of the meal, we would find her on top of the table with her knee in a bowl of rice!

Clearly, my little monkey was itching to climb. I knew I had to give her something to climb because if I didn’t, she would find something to climb onto anyway. Babies are like that, you cannot stop them because they NEED to do these things, whether it’s putting things in their mouth or climbing. If you don’t want them to do something, you need to redirect their energy and give them a version of it that they CAN do.

So I asked my nanny to clean the staircase in my building and I let her loose on the stairs. She went up and up. Super fast too. And then I would take her down and start again. Up and up again. Five flights in the morning. Then five flights in the afternoon. Then five flights the next morning. She would squeal and babble loudly all the way up and her laughter would echo through the hallway. She loved it.

We’ve continued climbing stairs everyday and I’m happy to report the table-climbing has stopped. Brooke is in better shape than ever and Mama is still catching up!

Read! Nap! Cook! How To Do It All With Twins Part II – Our Morning

Monday, November 28th, 2011 9:49 am | By Stephanie Woo

I spoke to a mom with a 10-month old who read Read! Nap! Cook! How to do it all with twins. “Can you give me more details?” she asked.

Short of creating a 2-hour video, I decided to keep a log of Brooke and Mackenzie’s morning activities and Mom/Dad’s morning activities so parents can get a sense of what it looks like at our house when the children are occupying themselves and mom is free to do her own thing.

As you’ll see, this morning, I spent 30 minutes in the bathroom, read for 30 minutes, went out to buy breakfast and ate it. Then I napped for 15 minutes until I got woken up by Verizon. Meanwhile, Brooke and Mackenzie were busy most of the morning and didn’t need my attention until 9:14am.

This log is taken on November 21, 2010. Brooke and Mackenzie are 11 ½ months. The log starts at 7am and ends at 9:20 am when my babysitter arrived.

The day starts at 7am when I open their bedroom door. They are already awake. I carry Mackenzie into the living room while Brooke crawls behind us. Daddy helps change diapers while I make milk. They drink milk.

Mom and Dad’s activities

7:20 Dad goes to meditate. I check on laundry and then go into the bathroom.

Brooke and Mackenzie’s activities

7:20 They crawl to toy shelf and start playing

 

7:24 I hear them in kitchen, opening and closing cabinets

 

7:32 I hear them in my room, banging on the blocks

7:47 I come out of bathroom to see where they are. Do a little tidying up in the room.

7:47 In their room, Brooke is opening the drawers and taking stuff out and Mackenzie is chewing on a button

7:52 I go to the kitchen to get a glass of water, sit down to read in living room (and take notes for this article you are reading)

 

7:58 I continue reading and writing without looking at them

7:58 Comes over to me. One plays with my iphone and the other looks at a book next to me

 

8:04 Picks up their morning bottle, drink some more, then drops it and crawls to toy shelf

 

8:05 Plays at toy shelf

8:08 Daddy comes back from meditation and goes to bathroom.

8:08 They crawl to hallway. Plays with musical toy hanging on the gate right outside the bathroom

8:12 Daddy comes out of bathroom, we chat, he makes coffee.

8:12 Back playing at toy shelf

8:16 Daddy cooks breakfast (I am still reading and writing)

8:16 Brooke goes to kitchen to find Daddy. M follows

8:22 Daddy is eating. I go out to buy breakfast

8:22 Pull up on Daddy to get bites of his food

8:34 I come home with breakfast. Sit down on couch to eat and continue reading my book. Daddy goes into bathroom

8:34 B and M playing by my file cabinet. They follow daddy to the bathroom

 

8:40 They come to me. I give them bites of my sandwich

8:46 Daddy in closet getting dressed to go to work

8:46 Mackenzie in closet with daddy. Brooke is on floor under the dining room table

8:50 Daddy leaves for work

 

8:55 I get in bed for a nap

8:55 B and M playing in hallway

9:10 Verizon knocks on door looking for our neighbor

9:10 Playing in their bedroom

9:13 I lie back down to continue my nap

 

 

9:14 Brooke calls to me wanting me to hold her. So I do. And then we all go into their bedroom to play

 9:20 Nanny arrives

 

Brooke and Mackenzie kept themselves busy from 7:20-9:14am and I had time to take care of everything I needed to. They know they are free to roam about the house. Since the house is baby-proofed, they cannot get into too much trouble even if I can’t see them. Occasionally I’ll find them chewing on a tissue or even a shoe they’ve gotten out of the closet, but I’m pretty relaxed about things like that. My father-in-law says that’s how he was with his kids. He calls it ‘Benign Neglect.’ Seeing how his four kids are all independent and responsible problem solvers, I’m convinced it works!

Getting their own food whenever they want

Friday, November 18th, 2011 7:29 pm | By Stephanie Woo

At 11-months, Brooke and Mackenzie’s favorite snack is the organic version of Cheerios. I keep it in the bottom drawer of the kitchen cabinet in an open ziploc bag. I did a demonstration for them one day: how to open the drawer, where the cereal is, etc.

Two weeks ago, one day, while I was cleaning the bedroom, I came out to find Mackenzie sitting here with the drawer opened, eating Cheerios out of the ziploc bag!

Apparently the cheerios in the ziploc bag did not keep her interest, because the next day, I found her here, ziploc bag intact, eating directly out of the cereal box! Since then, when I am cooking their meal in the kitchen, they will come for a little pre-dinner snack whenever they want. Even if it spoils their appetite a little bit, I think the freedom and confidence that comes from being able to get your own food whenever you want is much more important!

Update on Friday, November 25, 2011 at 11:51AM by Stephanie Woo

Two days later, we found Mackenzie eating a chocolate cookie she had found at the back of the drawer and wrangled out of the packaging we thought we had sealed tightly. She even gave one to Brooke. Note to self: Move all cookies and sweet cereal OUT of the bottom drawer!

$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.