I've had many people ask me the very same question posted by Marcy H. here on Circle of Moms: when is the right time to start potty training? Since I've potty-trained six kids, they figure I'm an expert. I'm not sure I'm an expert, but I do have a wealth of experience in the diaper-changing arts. So, I came up with a list of the things I consider most important when deciding when to start potty training.
Many a proud mama and papa have deemed their tot advanced or ahead of the game, but most babes are only geniuses in their parents' eyes. However, some tots actually are branded as gifted. Is yours? There are a few developmental guidelines that often indicate giftedness in children, so here are ten signs that your child may be headed to the head of the class.
When a baby becomes extremely sensitive to mom’s comings and goings, and starts wailing her heart out whenever mom's not present—separation anxiety is often the culprit. While separation anxiety is a normal part of development, the emotional rollercoaster ride it takes moms and children on isn't easy to endure. Here Circle of Moms members share 5 helpful tips for surviving it.
1. Do Provide Comfort
One important way of shortening the separation anxiety phase is to provide ample comfort to your little one. As mother-of-one Elissa M. explains: “Don’t be tempted to ignore it. Some people will say just to let him scream. He is learning that he is a person, independent from you, and this is SCARY! He needs lots of cuddles and reassurance. The more secure he feels, the quicker he stops being anxious when you are not there.” Mother-of-two Emily S. agrees: “Separation anxiety is real and it’s a very stressful phase for babies. Comforting them and letting them know you are not leaving them allows them to get through this phase and then move on and gain independence again.”
2. Keep Reassuring That You Don't Disappear
Babies experiencing separation anxiety phase are still learning about object permanence—-the reality that you (and other objects) actually exist when they’re out of sight. As a result, every time you leave the room, your child worries she's lost you forever. As Ontario mom Jackie C. suggests, try to help your child understand that you will return after disappearing: “Teach him that just because he isn’t touching you doesn’t mean he is in danger. Play peek-a-poo, leave the room but keep talking to him and looking in often so he can see you, reassure him you aren’t going to leave him.”
3. Encourage Independent Play
As Australian mom Renae K. recommends, gradually encouraging your child to play independently may also help separation anxiety pass. For example, try turning your attention to a book while sitting next to your baby; a few days later, move a few feet away during playtime; then across the room; then try standing up; and eventually leave the room for a minute or two. In this way, the child gradually becomes accustomed to having you leave and return.
4. Transition with Caretakers
Leaving a baby while he's experiencing separation anxiety phase can invite a heartwrenching sea of tears. It helps to allow your child to meet and grow comfortable with the caretaker while you’re present. As mother of one Arminda Q. recommended to another mom: “Ask your sister to stay more often with her so that when you return to your job she’ll be comfortable with her.” Also, don't leave immediately once the caretaker arrives; instead stay a few minutes while your child gets happily settled and distracted with her new playmate.
5. Do Say Goodbye
Tempted to sneak out the back door? Moms and experts both advise that a child will be more upset if she believes her mother has suddenly vanished. Mother of one Angela B. concurs: “My son goes to his nana’s house while I am at work. I have noticed if I drop him off and try to sneak away, or he simply doesn’t know I left because he was playing, he literally clenches onto my shirt and will not let go of me when I get home from work…so now when I leave him I make sure he knows I am leaving. I say goodbye and go.”
Looking for new ways to entertain your toddler and meet other moms? Consider enrolling you and your youngster in one of these 6 popular "mommy and me" classes, all of which have earned glowing reviews from other Circle of Moms members.
Jumping, balancing, climbing, crawling—numerous physical skills are encouraged by gymnastics and tumbling classes. And as moms like Moni S. share, toddlers can't get enough: “My DD, 20 months old, is in her first gymnastics class through a rec center and she loves it!” April D. agrees: “My son takes baby gymnastics classes...he will be 2 this month. He loves his ‘jumping class’ as he calls it.” In addition to helping children develop motor skills, mommy and me gymnastics and tumbling classes are a great social opportunity for toddlers and moms alike.
Growing weary of your little composer's pots-and-pans symphony? Moms like Lesli F. rave about music classes such as Kindermusik: “I love love love love love Kindermusik and so does my 3 year-old!!! If you have a good teacher it is so worth it.” As Bethany H. explains, such classes teach toddlers “about rhythm, music, instruments, singing, story time, listening, distinguishing different beats/sounds, etc.” Keep in mind however, that these classes may require a longer attention-span than some toddlers have. As Beth M. shared: “My other daughter did not like Kindermusik...she had too much energy to sit still.” Consider doing a trial class to see how your toddler responds.
Um, toddler yoga? Yes, it exists! Increasingly popular in recent years, mommy and me yoga classes benefit moms and children alike. As Tanya D. shares: “It's relaxing and a little bit of exercise for me… it's also a good way to get him out and seeing other children, as well as a few stretches and songs for him in a happy, fun environment.” Yoga classes for moms and children often incorporate music and stories, and of course teach a handful of standing and sitting poses. Not surprisingly, toddlers get a kick out of imitating familiar animals in poses like Cat and Cow.
Solo swim lessons are usually offered for children age three and older, but toddler mommy and me swimming classes help children become comfortable in the water even sooner. Brandy F. explains: “It’s not so much as swim lessons, but to prepare them for the first level of swimming…I got her comfortable in the water, hold her to float, kick, and stroke.” The classes are a great experience for moms too, says Samantha L.: “It was a lot of fun. It is a fantastic bonding experience between you and your baby. I would recommend it to anyone!”
Many moms are eager for their children to learn dance fundamentals. But since classes for ballet, tap and other traditional dance genres are generally offered only for children who are at least 3-4 years old, consider a class that's just for toddlers. As Nicole K. recommends: “I would look for something called a Creative Movement class. It’s less structured then dance, but focuses on moving one’s body in different ways to different types of music.”
Weekly storytime sessions are one of the most common mommy-and-me activities. “Check the local public library for toddler reading groups” suggests Jenna B., while Nicole R. recommends also checking bookstores: “The Barnes and Noble bookstore near me offers free storytimes… for various age groups throughout the week. This is where I take my 14-month-old daughter.” A bonus of storytime? They're usually free!
So your preschooler’s new friend “Katie” is actually an invisible giraffe? Congratulations! Your little one has joined the creative ranks of children with imaginary friends. Since imaginary friends can leave you puzzled (after all, what’s normal for a fictional friendship?), here's a list of 5 pretend playmate realities to reassure you.
1. They’re Common
It’s completely normal and healthy for a young child to invent an imaginary playmate. In one 2004 study, 65% of children up to age 7 reported having imaginary friends at some point. It’s also natural for a child to have more than one imaginary friend. As Phyllis H. shared: “My 4 year old has half a dozen.”
2. They’re Incredibly Diverse
Don’t be spooked if your child’s imaginary friend isn’t human or a normal size—imaginary friends come in all shapes and sizes. When Stina B. was a child, “a small village worth of ‘Micey people’” lived in her bathroom, while Michaela T.’s daughter invents both animals and miniature people: “My daughter seems to have a new imaginary friend every week...sometimes it’s a horse, sometimes a tiny little man.” And Ashley M.’s sister may top them all: “She used to play shop with God.”
3. They Arrive for Different Reasons
Why do kids create imaginary friends? Mostly, because it’s fun! In addition to the joy of pretend play, children create imaginary friends to help them face fears, practice being in a friendship, or work out boundaries. As Anna R. shares: “Think of it as great imagination and possibly a ‘safety blanket’ for your child. It is also a way for your child to role play in the absence of other children.” Hannah L. agrees: “Imaginary friends are a good way to help children practice speech and understand the world around them.”
4. They Should Follow House Rules
Imaginary friends often become scapegoats for naughty behavior; at other times, you’ll hear outrageous stories about the trouble an imaginary friend has gotten into. Both scenarios are ways for children to test boundaries. As such, it’s important for the imaginary friend to face consequences for misbehavior. As Amanda H. shared of her daughter’s imaginary friend: “Deego was banned from our house a few times. I even had to call his mom. He was troublesome and would do things he shouldn’t.” Michelle S. used a similar strategy: “I just set down rules...like any friend, they have to behave and clean up after themselves. No being rude or mean. When it’s bedtime or naptime, the dragons and monsters have to go home or stay with me in the living room. If we are out the dragons are to sit nicely and not be rude.”
5. They Won’t Stay Forever
Parents rarely need to worry that a child is getting too old for an imaginary friend. Imaginary friends generally disappear—whether by moving to a different city, dying in terrible accident, or simply being forgotten—before a child begins kindergarten, or else soon thereafter. As Marilee H. shared: “Since he started school they are all forgotten. He got out with more kids his own age and he never needed them again.”
As I was reading through some Circle of Moms conversations this week, I was struck by a great question posed by Amy K.: "How do I punish bad behavior without hurting feelings?” That’s a complicated question, and I’m hoping this article will help.
New Stages, New Behaviors
Did you know that your child shifts the way he or she looks at things after each developmental change?
When your daughter emerges from a developmental cycle she seems like a “new child.” She has a new set of skills and fresh eyes to see the world. She also seems to have a deep need to re-look at the rules and boundaries you thought were already mastered.
I know you’ve experienced it. One day you correct her and she accepts it like it’s nothing, and the next day she collapses into a crying puddle on the floor. You begin to realize that something has changed and the way you’re dealing with her is producing more tears than changes. You begin wondering what to do.
Some parents think, “Maybe I should get louder?” Or, “Maybe I should be firmer?” Some even think, “Maybe I should use more punishment?” Don’t get me wrong; there are probably some situations where that line of thinking may be valuable. Usually, however, that line of thinking only causes things to get emotionally more intense, instead of better.
Time for a Parenting Upgrade?
Just like a computer gets an upgrade when you install a new program, parents need to upgrade their parenting when their child gains a new perspective. Here are three well-known times when a child’s perspective changes.
- When a child moves from the terrific 2’s to being a three year-old, most parents wipe their brow and say, “I’m glad that’s over!” What they don’t realize is that 3 is a lot more complex!
- Most children are pretty compliant during the preschool years. It may not feel that way, but for the most part your child realizes that you’re the boss and what you say goes. And then comes the age of negotiating! Parents can begin to feel as if they’ve lost all control.
- Then there’s the moment when you see your child openly testing your boundaries and blatantly defying you. Most parents tend to rush toward a heavy punishment to stop that from ever happening again.
Would you treat all three scenarios the same? If so, consider a change of perspective to match your child’s new perspective—a parenting upgrade, if you will.
Adjusting Your Responses
I believe parenting methods need to include who your child is yet to become. Using the same parenting methods you used before your child morphed into a “new child” doesn’t allow that to happen. It makes her feel as if she’s still a “baby,” so she tends to act that way. She doesn’t begin taking responsibility or mastering the rules you’ve laid out for her.
A way to remedy that, or get a parenting upgrade, is to slowly begin letting your child experience the results of her choices, as long as the situation is completely safe. When she learns from the results of her choices, it can be far more of a teaching than your words could be. Don’t get me wrong. I’m in no way saying not to use boundaries, rules and consequences. What I am offering is a blend of the two.
During a family meeting create a list of situations you deal with and assign a consequence to them. Then post the list on the refrigerator. When you think learning from a choice isn’t enough, add a consequence from the list. You can say, “Sweetie, you did (fill in the blank). What does it say will happen on our list? I love you and my job is to teach you, and I will never stop doing my job.”
As this is all unfolding you get to show your love, support, empathy. I think that’s a great upgrade for the whole family.
Sharon Silver is a parenting educator and the founder of Proactive Parenting. She's also the author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding: 108 Ways to Discipline Consciously and Become the Parent You Want to Be.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.
Moms are constantly worrying that their baby's oddities are more than just funny quirks. In reality, many of the things that keep moms fretting are usually no reason for alarm. However, if mommy is concerned, it's best to consult the child's doctor. Before making an appointment, here are a few of the funny things babies do that may seem a little odd but not out of the ordinary.
Just like cheese and wine, children seem to get better with age. As a wee one grows, so does his or her personality, abilities, and opinions. Each time period of your child's life has its positive and negatives but many of us can pinpoint an age of our children that we thoroughly enjoyed. Whether it's the newborn phase, nine months, one year, five years or something else, what was the best age for you?
Join our The Mommy Club over in our LilSugar Community and share stories of your children throughout the ages! Here's a detailed guide to posting questions or posts to groups if you are new to the PopSugar Community.
I just came across Alys Beach, a community of resort homes on the Florida Panhandle, and I am completely infatuated with the place. With beautiful white stucco walls and white-ridged roofs, it's a cross between English and Spanish architecture with classic, old-world charm.
It's also outfitted with every modern convenience, and each home is built using green construction techniques. Many homes have gracious, private, and storm-resistant courtyards such as this one, but the community also has spacious central courtyards for getting to know neighbors. And with gorgeous ocean views, rooftop terraces are another luxury. As for the interiors, they're as magnificent as the exteriors with tall, vaulted ceilings, expansive windows, rich wooden ceiling beams, and a minimal, antique industrial aesthetic. Take the full tour of this house when you read more
Gomi is a bundled-up beauty in her layered ensemble. Notice how she creatively played around with lengths by pairing a long sweater coat with a short skirt. I also spy an adorable pair of Marni Mary Janes. Kudos!
Here's what she has on:
Congrats to gomi!
Everyone else, submit your looks and I might feature you on FabSugar!