Goodbye To Breastfeeding – 8 Years A Breastfeeder

Ameli was born in October 2009 and aside from a single prenatal class on breastfeeding, the sum total of my thought and planning on the subject of breastfeeding was “we’d best get in some formula, just in case”. I hadn’t considered “in case of what?” I certainly didn’t plan on becoming an active breastfeeding advocate.

Goodbye To Breastfeeding - 8 Years A Breastfeeder

As it turned out I fell in love with breastfeeding Ameli. It was so easy with her. We ended up doing a lot of things we’d never considered. The nursery remained unused as we coslept, the pram was sold in favour of a variety of slings. We travelled to 20 different countries in her first two years, and breastfeeding was just the simplest solution to everything from hunger to pink eye, comfort to ear infections. Breastfeeding worked for us. So well in fact that I had huge oversupply and ended up donating breastmilk to AIDS babies for the six months we lived in South Africa.

Breastfeeding did more for me than feed my baby. It led me to an entire tribe of mothers who were in many ways just like me. I stopped going to groups where people looked at you weirdly because you were still feeding a two year old and the first time I sat in a group of other mothers breastfeeding their toddlers, I cried, because I felt like I’d finally arrived home. Goodbye To Breastfeeding - 8 Years A BreastfeederRead more: Goodbye To Breastfeeding – 8 Years A Breastfeeder

Why Wont My Toddler Share?

As parents we have this unique and rather amazing ability to forget things. From pregnancy, through birth and seemingly into childhood (and possibly further) we forget the bits that admittedly, don’t always add anything positive to the story. I’ve seen my parents do it, and while I was of the firm opinion that I would never forget a weight, a height, a date of a first word, first whatever, the truth is, you do. Then you have a second (or subsequent ) child, and somehow, amazingly, you forget.

So when Aviya recently started shouting Mine! for… almost everything…., I was suddenly concerned. When did my sweet little genteel baby become so possessive? What did I do wrong. Were we missing out on something fundamental to her development? Aren’t second children supposed to be better at sharing than their older siblings… oh, wait…. that’s right – Ameli did  go through something like this. In fact, Ameli was 23 months old when we met our current friendship group, and the first few months of our meetings, I thought they must think me a horrible mother because all my child does is grab, and shove and say MINE! 

Then, Ameli being six months older than most of the rest of her group, six months later I started noticing the rest of them had entered this phase and I felt such relief! My child wasn’t turning into a psychopathic monster after all! And then… then I forgot all about it. What is that about?

Anyway. Armed with the wisdom of two and a half years later, and faced with a 23-month old there are a few things I’ve learned along the way, and partly to remind myself and partly to help those of you who are facing this for the n-th time 1 here are a few things to remember about children and sharing and a few gentle ways to help them through this developmental phase:

1) Don’t Force It

Think of children in terms of your best friend. How would s/he feel if you took their Kindle/iPhone/iPad and made them share it with the guy/girl you met in the coffee shop this morning? Your child feels the same about that doll/car/stick/leaf.  It’s worse about things they have a real attachment to, but anything that is your child’s sudden favourite is really important to them.

Instead: Offer an alternative. If it’s something your child really doesn’t want to share, ask them if you can keep it safe until they are alone again. If you’re asking, accept that the answer may be no. Remember that you can’t teach ‘don’t snatch’ by snatching it away from them.

Why Wont My Toddler Share?2) Don’t guilt them

If you don’t want to share, Johnny/Sue won’t want to play with you‘ sounds a whole lot like ‘If you won’t sleep with him, people will say you’re seriously lame and uncool‘ to me. Not the words, obviously, but the sentiment. I don’t want to teach my child that to be socially accepted she has to willing to do whatever is asked of her.  (By the way, there’s a difference between that, and saying ‘if you hit your friends, they won’t want to play with you’. That one is simply true, and logical and pretty much applies in adulthood too. Unless you’re in a boxing club.)

And the truth is, it’s often less about the children than our embarrassment about what people must think.

3) Adjust your expectation

Gosh – I’ve uttered those words to my husband so many times. She’s t-w-o. (not even). Don’t expect six year old behaviour from her. Understand that this is a phase and that it will pass. Your goal isn’t actually – shouldn’t be, anyway – to make her share everything. Your goal is to help her understand why we want to share some things with some people.

Cornell University 2 did a very interesting study on preschoolers and sharing, where children were divided into three groups – one group had to share stickers with a puppet, the next were given a choice between keeping stickers and throwing them away, and the third group had to choose between sharing with the puppet or keeping their sticker.

Interestingly, the children who were given the choice of sharing the sticker or keeping it for themselves, when presented with a new puppet and more stickers to share were the ones who shared the most. Read the full study on toddlers and sharing here. It’s really interesting reading.

In light of my recent amazing introduction to decent tools for positive parentinghere are the steps we take when Aviya either melts down because her big sister dared look in the direction of something that’s hers:

Why Wont My Toddler Share?1) Empathise

“I can see you feel angry/hurt/upset/frightened”

2) Options

“Here are your options: we can put the toy away, or your sister can play with xyz for two minutes while you watch, or you can swap toys and play with each other’s special toys, or you can go play with your own toy somewhere else.” The problem with giving options is that you have to be able to follow through – “should we go home and you can play with your toy alone” given as an option, means you have to be willing to go home right away.  Don’t offer it if it’s not an option, and an immediate viability – “share or she won’t share her toy with you later” means nothing to a two year old with no real concept of the passage of time. 

3) Highlight the benefit of positive behaviour, without being punitive

There’s a definite difference between “look how sad your friend is because you wont share” and “you shared and your friend is really happy”. The one is guilty manipulation and the other is pointing out the consequence of a behaviour.

If they choose not to share, divert attention to the other child for a minute. “Aviya really doesn’t want to share her special toy at the moment. Why don’t we let her play with it for now and you can show me your special toy?” Chances are the introduction of something else that someone else wants might just provide the motivation for the first child to share their toy after all.

Does this take longer than just snatching the toy from your child and giving it to the other child – something I’ve sadly been guilty of! Of course it does. Are the long term effects worth it? Of course.

There’s nothing wrong with a child having a sense of ownership over their items, and I find especially with second child, so many of their things once belonged to an older sibling, that having things specifically ear marked as theirs is very valuable. And after all, if they care about something, they’ll care for it, and we really do want them to have that sense of ownership so that they will learn to care for their things too.

Remember that modelling is really important to children. They will do as they see us do. (And if you want to read them a story about sharing, Mine! is a great place to start.)

And most importantly, it is a phase. It will pass. What matters isn’t what is and isn’t shared, but how their relationship with the other person – especially in the case of a sibling – is affected going forward. 

For more information on Positive Parenting, visit the Essential Parenting Collection sale

  1. that about the sum total of what I remember about mathematics from school days – ‘nth’ term is a formula with ‘n’ in it which enables you to find any term of a sequence
  2.  Psychological Science October 2013vol. 24 no. 10 1971-1979 http://pss.sagepub.com/content/24/10/1971

Andrea’s Summer Camp At Home: Week 7 – Olympics (Part 2)

Please welcome Andrea for week two of the Olympics theme, but week 7 of Summer Camp at Home!
Themes:

Colours: Black, red, yellow, green, blue
Shapes: Cirlcle, rectangle
Field trip: swimming/ spraypark
Playdough: red and white (Or whichever colour represents your country!)

Schedule:
Monday: Swim Goggles

Tuesday: Olympic Ring Printing 

Rainbow cake with the olympic colours

Wednesday: Ice Hockey (I know its a winter olympic sport!) , make little sticks

Thursday: Olympic medal chart , great math activity! We’ll follow the countries where our family lives

Friday: Opening ceremony, make and decorate a podium, raisin bread with strawaberries and cream cheese for snack (make canadian flag)

Big Shout out to Sun Hats And Welly Boots this week for her fantastic Olympics Themed ideas!
Hello campers!

Our second week of Olympic fun was a busy one. I am afraid that, once again I didn’t get to half the things I wanted to do with my boys! We did continue to eat our way around the world, and had a lovely stirfry for China, a beef roast with veggies and gravy for the UK and Omelettes for France.
Andrea's Summer Camp At Home: Week 7 - Olympics (Part 2)I was also really fortunate to pick up a giant illustrated world map for $8 at our local wholesalers. It promptly replaced our little map and is now the feature of our “Olympic wall”

Andrea's Summer Camp At Home: Week 7 - Olympics (Part 2)

On Monday I surprised the boys with lovely raspberry flavoured, red glittery playdough. They loved it! My oldest immediately made a Canadian flag, he was so proud! I offered it with a variety of red and white objects.
Andrea's Summer Camp At Home: Week 7 - Olympics (Part 2)

On Tuesday we did the Olympic ring printing, I showed the boys a picture of the Olympic rings and they set about printing with loo rolls. It was interesting to see how the little one printed lots of rings practically on top of each other, as he wanted them to be interlocking. His older brother however, made sure that he used the colours in the right sequence. It’s amazing to see the world through their eyes!
Andrea's Summer Camp At Home: Week 7 - Olympics (Part 2)

Wednesday was a rainy, stormy day, so we made our medal chart and decorated it with shiny stars. We have already started tracking medals and decided to add china as the last country on our list. The athletes are doing great aren’t they?
Andrea's Summer Camp At Home: Week 7 - Olympics (Part 2)

My boys had an away day on Thursday, they visited their grandparents so that I could get a little bit of work done for my other job 🙂

Friday was a fantastically fun day! Andrea's Summer Camp At Home: Week 7 - Olympics (Part 2)We started the day of with an Olympic breakfast, I made toast with strawberry cream cheese, and used strawberries to make a maple leaf pattern on top. And then I added sparklers. The boys we amazed! They ate every bit, and then asked for more!

We went for a long walk and then had a nice long nap, I wanted the boysto watch the opening ceremony with me, so we made sure everyone was well rested. We played a little bit of ice hockey, and then had an early bath. It was a combination of shot put and synchronized swimming as I added about 30 water balloons to their bath. It was great fun and we were all soaking wet!

We had our own little opening ceremony parade. I dressed the boys in a Canadian flag each, and they wore their crowns and torches. Quote of the day: little one: “are we superheroes?” big brother: “no, we’re Canadian!”

Andrea's Summer Camp At Home: Week 7 - Olympics (Part 2)

 I hope you have as much fun as we did, and good luck to all the wonderful men and women who are competing!
I hope you all have a wonderful week of playing and spending time together as a family!  If you want to share pictures from your activities, please add them to the Flickr Album!

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Andrea's Summer Camp At Home: Week 7 - Olympics (Part 2)