In Praise of Fathers

Fathers should be appreciated all year… not just on one day! While Father’s Day is a tremendous idea, we all need to affirm Dads for their significance every day of the year.

I come from a long line of fantastic fathering men. My grandfathers were both grand fathering me from birth to their deaths. My Dad, in his 80’s, is still fathering me long distance and with just as much love, sincerity and respect as always. My husband has been an awesome father for 28 years. One of the problems with us mothers is that we sometimes spend too much time trying to get the fathers in our lives to mother, instead of just appreciating what fathering does for our children.

Fathers teach two very crucial concepts to children: how to trust themselves and how to take risks! Since men don’t have the same hormonal response as women when their kids move away from them, a familiar scenario often happens. Mom might go out to the park and ask her husband to watch the kids while she goes to the bathroom. When she returns, the kids are playing on the playground equipment, at the furthest point from where her husband is standing. He is in deep conversation with another Dad. Mom’s first response is usually, “why are you not watching the kids, they are way too far away and you weren’t even looking at them when I came out of the bathroom?”

The truth of the matter is, kids can move six times further away from a Dad, as opposed to a Mom, before he has any physical response like that alarm that goes off in Mom’s head saying, “where are the kids?” That does not mean that men love or protect their children any less than a woman. What it does mean is that fathers teach their kids that it is okay to trust your self and take risks.

So Moms, celebrate Father’s Day by valuing what Dad’s give kids!

In deep appreciation of fathers 365 days per year, Dr. Ann Corwin

You Know I Love You Anyway

In celebration of Mother’s Day, I’d like to share a special poem with you that was given to me by a mom that I had been working with earlier this year. She was a new mommy having trouble adjusting to being a stay-at-home-mom after the birth of her second child. She came seeking guidelines in managing her impatience with her children… the same impatience that many of us experience in trying to juggle life’s many demands. In the course of working with her, she found this poem and shared it with me, and today I share it with you as a subtle reminder to slow down and enjoy your precious children.

I bumped into a stranger as he passed by.

“Oh, excuse me, please,” was my reply.

He said, “Please excuse me too.

I wasn’t even watching for you.”

Oh, we were polite – this stranger and I.

We went on our way and we said our goodbye.

But at home a different story is told

how we treat our loved ones, young and old.

Later that day, cooking the evening meal,

my daughter stood beside me very still.

When I turned, I nearly knocked her down.

“Move out of the way!” I said with a frown.

She walked away, her little heart broken.

I didn’t realize how harshly I’d spoken.

Later that night, wide awake in my bed,

a still, small voice came to me and said,

“While dealing with a stranger, common courtesy you use,

but the children you love, you seem to abuse!

Look upon the kitchen floor,

you’ll find some flowers there by the door.

Those are the flowers she brought for you,

she picked them herself – pink, yellow and blue.

She stood quietly, not to spoil the surprise,

and you never saw the tears in her eyes.”

By this time, I felt very small,

and now my tears began to fall.

I quietly went and knelt by her bed,

“Wake up, sweetheart,” I whispered and said.

“Are these the flowers you picked for me?”

She smiled, “I found ‘em, out by the tree.

I picked ‘em because they’re pretty like you.

I knew that you’d like them – especially the blue.”

I said, “Daughter, I’m sorry how I acted to you today,

I shouldn’t have yelled at you that way.”

She hugged me and said, “Mommy, that’s okay.

You know I love you anyway.”

I said, “Daughter, I love you too!

And I do like the flowers – especially the blue.”

Dr. Ann

Boy giggles and laughs for up to 20 minutes after we’ve put him down at night to sleep

Hi Dr. Ann,
My 35 month old boy giggles and laughs for up to 20 minutes after we’ve put him down at night to sleep. Should it be a concern?
Danel Peterson, South Africa

Wow, to have a happy, self assured kid…the greatest gift to sleep. Every single one of us figures out how to fall asleep. Some of us read a good book, some watch T.V., some drink tea or warm milk (left over feelings of our childhood) and some just fluff our pillows and roll over three times. If your boy chooses to ‘giggle’ as a way of letting off energy and calming themselves to sleep, I say more power to him. You have created a laughable soul and what a wonderful gift you have given your boy.Thanks for your thoughtful question, Dr. Ann

Ontario Mom with 25 month old has bed problems

Hello Dr Ann
We are having some issues with our 25 month old daughter. Shortly after her second birthday we purchased a dora toddler bed which Ryleigh loved, we also at the same time took away her sucky.

Since then she has been doing amazing with the no sucky situation but has now refused to sleep in her toddler bed she wants to sleep in our bed. We have been allowing her to do so for the past month but no one is getting any sleep.

Please help! any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated.
Sincerely

Ange Billings
Fergus Ontario
Canada

Ange,
Thanks for your thoughtful e-mail. Kids and actually adults too, use objects to make sense out of their feelings and emotional connects to others.

Kids start out with comfort objects like a sucky because they have more nerve endings in their mouths at birth than anywhere else. So to discover their world and how they feel is done through putting things in their mouth.

Adults do things like look at pictures of their kids to bring up feelings. The reason your 25 month old will not sleep alone is that she does not have her sucky. The sucky is how she knows she is going to be OK when you are not around, namely when she is alone sleeping in her bed.

So you can either give it back to her or teach her to transition to some other object (like a blankie) to help her cope without you while she sleeps. You should carry it around with you and put in in-between you and her as often as possible. Like if you pick her up because she hurt herself or you are reading her a story.

If you visit the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s website they will tell you through their parenting pamphlets that there is normally no damage to a child’s teeth with sucky type things until their permanent teeth come in, which is around the age of 8 years.

Now don’t think I am recommending that your daughter keep her sucky until she is 8 years old! What I do know is she needs some kind of object to help her sleep without you. A 25 month old can ‘still’ have their sucky if they use it at appropriate times and that would be to sleep.

Your child should not have a sucky when they are playing or talking, only when they are resting (like listening to a story) or sleeping or are having a tough time during the day.

Lastly, if you don’t want to confuse her about where she should sleep, never take her in your bed again. I know you may have some sleepless nights for her to catch on, but if you ‘give in’ and have her sleep with you even sometimes, she will assume if she puts up enough of a fuss you will bring her to bed again.

You may have to put a gate at her door to keep her in her bed and there may be some tears. But, just give her the new “lovey” or sucky and don’t talk to her, look at her or touch her during the night waking. If you have to put her back in her room, always do it from behind, making sure her back is to your chest. Hope that helps and thanks again for contacting me,

Dr. Ann Corwin

2 Year Old Night Waking

Hi,
I read a very similiar situation on your site and wondered if you might be able to help with our 2 year old who is waking quite frequently now that we have a new baby.

Amelia took a long time to start to sleep through the night, around 15 months, and was consistent until we had our new baby, Anna, who is now 4 months old. Now she frequently wakes up, requesting to have juice, change pull-up, change PJs, have a hug/kiss, anything.

I have always been the one to do the bedtime routine with Amelia, and in the past have stayed in the room until she falls asleep. I have been trying to stand outside the door now until she falls asleep thinking if she goes to sleep without me in the room maybe she won’t call out for me when she wakes.

She seems to do okay with this after walking her back to bed 3-5x. But there has been no change in the night waking. I try to keep contact short, but usually she already has the pull-up off if she wants to change it or same with the PJs.

It becomes a very tiresome process, and as the other parent mentioned it’s ironic that I am sleep-deprived now because of my 2 year old and not my 4 month old. I have thought about removing myself from the bedtime routine completely and having daddy do it, but she is really against daddy doing much for her and I feel this might actually make things worse or want mommy more. Any ideaswould be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Kim

Kim,
Thanks for your thoughtful e-mail about night waking. The reason that Amelia is waking after the new baby came is because she feels like she needs to check to make sure you and your husband are still there.

When you tell your child that the new baby is coming, they have no idea that the baby will stay and after it does, they worry that they will disappear just as quickly as the baby appeared.

So the answer is to play ‘hide and go seek’ and ‘peek-a-boo’ constantly during the day. This helps them understand that even if I cannot see my parents they still exist.

When you initially first hide say something like this, “I cannot see my Amelia, but she will always be my only little girl named Amelia who is”…then describe her physically.

Believe it or not it helps her know she cannot be replaced. You and I know that is a ridiculous thought that you would leave her, but it is real to her.

Be sure she has a sleep ‘lovey’, like a blanket, stuffed animal, so she knows she will be OK when you and your husband are not there for her…namely, when she is asleep. Tell her during the day that it WILL help her sleep and what to do with it specifically when she wakes.

Like hugging her ‘lovey’ and closing her eyes if she wakes. Tell her also that wake up time is always when she see mommie or daddies face at her door and when you go night-night, that means your feet do not touch the floor. These specifics help her know what to do in the night.

When she does wake in the night, never talk to her, touch her as little as possible (if you pick her up, do it from behind) and do not look at her. All this will help her know that she will get no piece of you in the night time.

WHEN she does sleep through go ahead and act like she won the lottery and spend more time with her the following day and tell her why…say, “let’s play dolls together, because you know exactly how to sleep with your feet on the bed and your eyes not opening until you see mommie and daddies face at your door”!

You are obviously a loving and hard working parent. Keep up the good work,

Dr. Ann Corwin, The Parenting Doctor

Getting Baby To Sleep

The needs of an infant, in terms of sleep, are all dictated by their nutritional needs.

Meaning they need to wake up to eat. Every 2 to 3 hours, babies need to wake up because their tummies are small. They need to fill their tummies up, and then in 2 or 3 hours, they’ll wake up again because they’re telling you, “I’m hungry.”

So they’re going to sleep according to what their body really needs. You don’t want to think about your newborn sleeping through the night. They’re not supposed to.

How you might know that maybe your baby can sleep a little bit longer is by keeping in close contact with your pediatrician because your pediatrician will tell you if he or she is gaining enough weight and that your baby is developing normally.

During the first 3 months of life or so, make sure that you are encouraging and welcoming the fact that your infant is waking up. I know you’re tired as a parent, of course, but it’s exactly what your household needs to look like. Babies need to wake up to eat.

How long it takes for a baby to adjust to sleeping through the night will vary depending on the baby and the baby’s age. You as a parent need to have patience and stay committed. Sleep patterns do not change immediately.

Quiet time needed.

Before they can fall asleep at night, babies – as well as adults – need to slow down their brain activity. In order to do this, they need some quiet time before bed. Turn down the lights and turn off the television or radio. Keep your voice low. Perhaps read to them in a soft voice.

It’s very important to keep a routine at bedtime.

As much as possible, put the baby to bed at the same time each night. Keep feeding times regular. Babies and children respond to routines – knowing that one thing follows another.

Routines should be followed every night before bedtime. Read to your child or pray or say final words – the same thing every night (“Sleep tight,” etc.).

Transitional objects definitely help.

Transitional items should be introduced to the baby early – before he or she is able to sleep through the night. Whether it’s a special stuffed animal, blanket or pacifier (check with your pediatrician about a pacifier). Hold the item while you feed the baby. Keep it nearby so that the baby will associate that item with you.

By three or four months, most babies will be able to roll over and grasp the item. When they are able to do this, place the item in the baby’s crib. The baby will associate this item with the mother or father. It helps to make the baby feel secure.

Dr. Ann Corwin, The Parenting Doctor
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Getting 7 Month Old Baby To Sleep

Hi Dr. Ann,

I have a 7-month-old son who wakes up during the night to drink a bottle. I have tried many ways to get him to sleep through the night, but nothing seems to work. Can you help?
– Lupe

Dr. Ann Corwin, The Parenting Doctor Advice

Dear Lupe

The needs of an infant, in terms of sleep, are all dictated by their nutritional needs, meaning they need to wake up to eat. Every 2 to 3 hours, babies need to wake up because their tummies are small. They need to fill their tummies up, and then in 2 or 3 hours, they’ll wake up again because they’re telling you, “I’m hungry.”So they’re going to sleep according to what their body really needs. You don’t want to think about your newborn sleeping through the night. They’re not supposed to.How you might know that maybe your baby can sleep a little bit longer is by keeping in close contact with your pediatrician because your pediatrician will tell you if he or she is gaining enough weight and that your baby is developing normally.

So during the first 3 months of life or so, make sure that you are encouraging and welcoming the fact that your infant is waking up. I know you’re tired as a parent, of course, but it’s exactly what your household needs to look like. Babies need to wake up to eat.

How long it takes for a baby to adjust to sleeping through the night will vary depending on the baby and the baby’s age. You as a parent need to have patience and stay committed.

Sleep patterns do not change immediately.

Before they can fall asleep at night, babies – as well as adults – need to slow down their brain activity. In order to do this, they need some quiet time before bed. Turn down the lights and turn off the television or radio. Keep your voice low. Perhaps read to them in a soft voice.

It’s very important to keep a routine at bedtime.

As much as possible, put the baby to bed at the same time each night. Keep feeding times regular. Babies and children respond to routines – knowing that one thing follows another. Routines should be followed every night before bedtime.

Read to your child or pray or say final words – the same thing every night (“Sleep tight,” etc.).

Transitional objects definitely help.

Transitional items should be introduced to the baby early – before he or she is able to sleep through the night. Whether it’s a special stuffed animal, blanket or pacifier (check with your pediatrician about a pacifier).

Hold the item while you feed the baby. Keep it nearby so that the baby will associate that item with you. By three or four months, most babies will be able to roll over and grasp the item. When they are able to do this, place the item in the babies crib. The baby will associate this item with the mother or father. It helps to make the baby feel secure.

Dr. Ann Corwin, The Parenting Doctor
Reprinted from A Place of Our Own
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Toddler Night Time Fit at Bedtime

Dear Dr. Ann

My 17-month-old toddler throws a fit every night at bedtime. She will not listen to a word we say. She has a 2-month-old brother and I wonder if she’s doing this for attention. How can I help my daughter express herself in a more effective way and how can I learn to understand her emotions?
– Sandra

Dr. Ann Corwin, The Parenting Doctor Advice

Hi Sandra,

We aren’t born with all our feeling and emotions. We accumulate many of them through experiences. Infants are born to know distress and joy, but other emotions are developed in stages. Kids can’t always pin-point what they are feeling or know what to do when those feeling arise.It’s the parents’ and child care providers’ job to observe and label a child’s feelings and teach children the appropriate responses to those feelings. These appropriate responses are different for different people. For instance, in some families, it’s normal to stomp your feet when you are mad, while in other families, that’s not considered appropriate behavior.It’s our jobs to teach appropriate behaviors to kids so that they have ways to express their emotions.

Remember, kids learn through repetition.
So it’s important to repeat and reaffirm children consistently so they practice identifying and expressing their emotions.Modeling the emotions is the best way to help kids identify them. If you are playing with kids and everyone is laughing and being silly, you can take that opportunity to say, “I feel silly and I feel happy.” That way, kids will learn the words for the way they feel at the moment.

Another way to help kids learn is through books.
There are many books that teach emotions. I have a book that shows all the different emotions that kids feel and associates them with colors. It’s a tangible way for them to connect their feelings with something that seems solid.

Puppets are another great way to teach kids about feelings.
For example, to teach about feeling sad, you can use a puppet that has sad eyes and a tear drop on his cheek. They understand the connections with being sad and crying and this helps kids start to identify with the emotion represented by the puppet.

Kids learn best through play.
Child Care providers can play games such as the “feelings game” where child care providers model what “happy,” “sad,” and “mad” looks like physically and the kids have to act out what that looks like for them. You can say “Show me what sad looks like? Show me what you look like when you’re happy.” Child Care providers should model it first, but have kids show you what that looks like for them.

Routine is one more way to teach kids how to express their emotions.
If you have a ritual in the morning when the child is dropped off and you show them how happy you are to see them and you express that every day, kids will learn from that routine. I also think having a space in your care where kids can express themselves safely is a good idea.

I suggest having a “feeling corner” where there are faces on the wall expressing different emotions. Under each face, there should be an envelope with a color card in it. For example, you can have a blue card under the sad face and a red card under the mad face, to correspond with the emotion. If a child is sad, they can go to the corner and pull out a blue card and if children can’t use words to describe their feelings, they can at least come up to the provider and hand the child care provider a card, which is their way of saying “I’m sad.”

If a child is told to stop crying or acting like a baby, you’re telling them that whatever he or she is feeling is not correct. As a result, the next time that child is distressed, he or she may replace that sad feeling with an inappropriate feeling or action, such as hitting another kid.

They will replace their legitimate feeling with other feelings or actions because they were told that their original feelings were not accurate. This can carry on through adulthood and establish wrong communication patterns throughout a person’s life.
Hope this helps. Dr. Ann

Sleeping Anxiety

Hi Dr. Ann
I have a quick question concerning Sydney’s sleeping. She still has anxiety when I put her down so I am unable to lay her on the pillow and tuck her in. I attempt it but end up just leaving for her to cry (which is still taking a while before she lays down). I am telling her that I want to tuck her in but if she does not let me tuck her in then I can not continue and I need to leave.

I also try to tell her that “mommy’s always here, even if you can’t see me I’m here”. I tell her the rule is no talk about not sleeping, not tired, etc. What am I missing b/c now she’s saying “you need to come in here to help me”, “you are not here for me”, “I need you, you have to come here”, etc. When I don’t come she gets so mad that she tells me throughout the day that I’m not here for her when she needs me. Help

Marci,

Dr. Ann Corwin, The Parenting Doctor Advice

So sorry for your continued challenges with Sydney’s sleeping. Remember we talked about attachment and that it is so very powerful that children will do anything, even ugly behavior to keep that going?

She is obviously a very articulate little person and so she uses words, like “I need you, you have to come now” and if you respond to her by saying anything at all then she will continue to use that to get you to stay connected with her.

She does not NEED you all the time now at her age, but it sounds that way when she says it. You need to tell her you don’t need mom all the time, you just WANT me here, but this is not the time (sleep time) when mom is going to be with you.

Tell her again what OBJECT to use to help her sleep…a sleepy bear, etc. that she holds on to, but NEVER communicate with her at sleeping time verbally, no matter how much she tries to suck you into a conversation. When she gets MAD then let her feel that feeling and get over it…telling her later that she was MAD, what to do when she gets MAD and leave it at that…it is actually good that she is mad because she is learning that you are going to give her limits and she will learn the valuable skill of dealing with the MAD emotion!

During the day when she repeats to you that you weren’t there for her…you can either ignore and distract her, like don’t say anything in response to her and say lets listen to music or I’m going to sing to your favorite CD now.

If she persists that’s your cue to separate yourself from her, turn her around and send her to a time-out without ANY talking until she stops herself. When she returns and is NOT saying “you are not here for me mommy” that is when you have conversations with her, tell her you like what she is saying to you and make eye contact, etc.

So, in other words, you need to engage her more when she is not referring to you not being there for her and when she starts in with words you don’t want to hear, model for her that she will not get a conversation out of you about this subject. She is still trying desperately to attach to you with a cycle of communication that is not appropriate. So, don’t respond to her! Hope this helps, Ann

Sleep in the 1st year

Hi Ann,
Well, you didn’t think I was going to get through Nick’s first year without a few questions did you? The truth is we are doing very well. Nick is growing quickly and is a very happy baby. I think this is in part because of the way his sister and brother love him. They constantly smile at him, read him stories and talk to him. I wonder when their affections for him will turn into “mom, Nick colored on my favorite journal.” Or “mom, Nick just knocked over the block tower I built.” Every day is an adventure! Marty and I are doing better than ever. We just celebrated our 10 year anniversary and it was a treat. We talked about all the great memories we have made and in Marty’s most sincere self, he told me that he would do all of it again with me-children, sleepless nights, moving, job changes –all of it. I cried. I hope all is going well with you and your family. I really enjoyed the picture you sent wishing us a Happy New Year. Your family looks truly happy. Well, even though Nick is doing well, we are having serious sleep issues. I have read several articles regarding sleep and I have looked into several books. All of them come with the promise that You too can get your baby to sleep through the night in less time than it takes to say baby sleep. I do not know a lot about infant sleep so it is difficult to discern some of the information that is out there. I am not interested in “cry it out” methods but I would like to help Nick learn healthy sleep habits-if there is even any truth to this. Could you recommend a book, website, author or article that might be helpful? Nick is 5 ½ months old and was sleeping through the night consistently at about 10 weeks of age. We returned from vacation about 3 weeks ago and now he is waking at least twice a night and sometimes as much as 4 times a night. I will look forward to hearing from you. Thanks.

Dory

Dr. Ann Corwin, The Parenting Doctor AdviceHonestly, I am so thrilled that you and Marty are doing well…you worked so hard to make that happen and he has always been such a gem to be treasured! Sleep…there is a book I think is good by Elizabeth Pantley called “The No Cry Sleep Solution”, so I might start there. Plus, remember all my information about “transitional objects”? They are “key” to getting a child to be able to be separated from their parents and still feel loved. If he does not have a “lovey”, then get him one that travels with you each day and “tell him” at this age, that “it WILL make him feel better when you are not around”.

Because sleep is cause for separation anxiety, as the child does not know when their parent will return, so they wake to “check and see” if their parents are still there! Also, remember that crying at this age, is a child saying I am not getting my 1st choice and that is to have my parents with me 24/7! So, as long as you provide a “sleep aid”, any object that they assoicate with you and then let them cry, it is OK.

The crying it out philosophy is not good, only if you do not provide your child with some sort of comfort for their disappointment and frustration that they cannot have their parents there all the time. Hope this helps? Sending hugs, Ann