Sunday, January 27, 2013


I recently came across this cute book and can't wait to order it: Peter and the Whimper-Whineys on Amazon for 11.99$

And why would I want to order this? Yep, my child has been whining A LOT lately, and it's so hard at this toddler age to do much about it.  And I hate to disappoint you readers out there, but I don't have a magic counseling answer for anyone with a toddler who whines, just that I have your sympathy :)  We all know not to give in when a child whines, not to give them what they want, not to answer to them, and to tell them to "talk in your normal voice", and "I can't hear you when you whine."  The more you give in when they whine, the more they will know to whine so they can get what they want.

But when you have a toddler who doesn't quite understand the word, 'whine', it's kind of hard to enforce this technique right now.  Much easier for a parent to try with an 8 year old.  When I talk in my 'normal' voice and model it for my 2 year-old, she gives me this deer in headlight look like, "What the heck are you talking about?"  In fact, when I talk all whiny to teach her the meaning of the word, she thinks it's funny and starts laughing.

So, for now I just keep telling her to ask me for something in her normal voice and to say, "please" and I keep repeating her requests in a nice, normal voice so she can hear what 'normal' means.  And I try to make sure she isn't tired, which can cause a child to start whining X 10.

But I tell ya, just when I think my child is well rested after 12 hours of sleep, is fed and is feeling well, she will all out start whining, whining, whining for something.  Ugh.  Nails on chalkboard.  I just don't get it.  I guess it's just baby steps for now and redirecting.  

Check back with me in 6 months and we'll see where we are, until then, anyone have any great tips for us toddler moms?
Sunday, January 20, 2013

Melissa and Doug Kitchen Giveaway

I am super excited to announce a huge giveaway for a Melissa and Doug Kitchen!  That's right, a complete play kitchen!

Melissa and Doug is one of my favorite toy brands because of their simple designs made out of wood- not the plastic made in China, where everything lights up kind of toys.  AND I absolutely love pretend play toys like this kitchen!  When I do play therapy, the room is not complete unless we have a kitchen for children to express nurturing play themes.  And this kitchen has a lot of great features, but still leaves a lot of room for children to use their own imagination.  Good luck everyone!
Welcome to the Melissa and Doug Deluxe Kitchen Giveaway and two runner up winners of $50 worth of products sponsored by Melissa and Doug, Hosted by Plum Crazy About Coupons, Mom to Bed by 8 and Espacularaiesa.
A special thank you to all the participating blogs.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Indoor Fun

I've realized that life in Texas with kids has consisted of A LOT of indoor playtime.  From the ridiculously hot summers, not to mention the West Nile Virus scares this past summer, to the freezing cold winters, there's not a whole lot of days we can spend outdoors.  Texas goes from days and days of 32 degree weather in the Winter, with maybe a week of 70 degrees in the Spring, and then 6 months of 100+ degrees in the Summer and even into the Fall.

So, with our crazy extreme weather, we are forced to find places that have indoor fun like Pump it Up jump houses, and indoor playgrounds.  But for the most part, we are forced to stay at home and come up with things to entertain our active climbing Spidermans and running-around-the-house Dora the Explorers.

Besides investing in an almost full sized play kitchen, rocking horse, play slide and activity tables for my active toddler, I've found a few fun indoor activities that can entertain your active preschoolers that won't break the bank.  Plus they are great at fostering their creativity:

1) My fave so far is the indoor hop scotch!  Just grab some construction paper, put numbers on it, then tape a pattern onto your floor (kitchen tile is easiest).  Here's a great example (

2) Box fun!  What better way to foster creativity than getting an old box and let them decorate it.  Make a fort, a castle, a grocery cart, or even get smaller ones to decorate and build a large tower.  Here's an awesome photo of one I found on Pinterest where you can make a indoor city and have your child inside of it with all of his cars and toys:

3)  Make an Alphabet book.  You can get old magazines and have your child find each letter of the alphabet and a picture that starts with that letter, or if they're older, they can take pictures of objects around the house and make their own home book.  Then just punch holes in them and keep them together with Metal Book Rings.

4) I used to love to make Play Dough with the kids I would babysit, a super fun and quick recipe that kids will love to help make and then play with. And hopefully their attention span will last a little longer playing with this play dough vs. the store bought kind:

3 cups flour
1.5 cups salt
6 tsp. cream of tarter
3 tbsp. oil
3 cups water

Pour all ingredients into a large pot. Stir constantly over medium heat until a dough ball forms by pulling away from the sides. Knead dough until the texture matches play dough (1-2 minutes). Also add some food coloring to make different colors.  Store in plastic container. Should last for at least 3 months.

5)  There are also a few activity books with a ton of ideas in them at good prices.  There's the Toddler's Busy Book for 9.99$ on Amazon:
The Toddler's Busy Book: 365 Creative Games and Activities to Keep Your 1 1/2- to 3-Year-Old Busy


Or there is the book  Great Big Book of Children's Games: Over 450 Indoor & Outdoor Games for Kids for 11.59$ on Amazon:

Hope this helps with the indoor winter stir crazies!  What are some of your child's favorite indoor activity?
Friday, January 11, 2013

Pillow Fight!

Last night I got to use of my oldest counseling tricks on my toddler, and was so excited to finally try it out!  It's a technique that I have used so much with children, that I can't even remember where I learned about it, but it's super simple.  When children get mad, they hit, so redirect them to hit a pillow.  Pillow time!

Here's how it went down:  It was close to bed time and my toddler was approaching meltdown mode pretty quickly.  I was holding our baby on the sofa and facing away from my toddler, while my husband was playing with our toddler on the floor, when all of a sudden, I looked over towards her and she was about to hit her daddy.  I have no idea what started it, but I have never seen her try to hit anyone before!

So I quickly set a limit, "Luna, people are NOT for hitting, if you want to hit something, you can hit this pillow" and she got all bright eyed, ran over to the pillow hit it!  Then I encouraged her to hit the sofa too and she did!  And that was enough for her to calm down, walk away and go play with something else.  I then told her again after she was calm that it is never okay to hit people or animals, or to hit toys because they can break.  That if she wants to hit something, she can always hit or kick a pillow (or something soft like a sofa or stuffed animal).

Simple huh?  Easy enough until they can start using their words more to express themselves.

I used to work as a children's counselor at a couple of domestic violence agencies, and teaching kids to redirect their anger onto something else was a huge lesson we covered each week.  Since it became old habit to me to teach it over and over again, I was just SO happy and amazed that I got to use it and that it worked!  You should have seen my husband's face when he saw it too. 

Children get all of these feelings inside of them and it can be overwhelming for them and they don't know how to handle it.  They are learning what happy feels like, anger, and sadness and it's a lot all at once.  And for a lot of children, like my daughter, she has never seen her parents hit anything before and it's like this innate reaction they have that when they get mad, to hit.

It will definitely take children a few times of learning to understand that hitting, biting, slapping, etc are not okay.   But when they get all of these feelings of anger, we need to provide an acceptable outlet for them to release them and hitting a soft object really works well.  Redirecting is key.  Because when the time comes when we are not there (at school, or a playdate, etc.), we want our kids to know what to do when they get upset.

Another technique I use sometimes is to redirect kids to draw their anger or frustrations with crayons or markers. Such as, "here, show me had mad you are!" and hand them a crayon and paper right there in the middle of their tantrum.  They will go to town scribbling!

I hope this continues to work well for our children, that is until they become teenagers and start being really verbal and the 'back talking'  begins, but let's hope that is far, far away from now :)