Teachable Moments in Toddler Tantrums

My child threw the worst fit I’ve ever seen in the middle of SM Makati, a mall here in the Philippines where we’re currently on vacation. It was by far the loudest, most obnoxious, most irritating, and most appalling moment in my mothering career. Never have I been tested this way and boy was I not ready for it! I guess I can check off another request on my prayer list!

I will be speaking at a women’s conference on February 7th. Feeling unqualified, uncomfortable, and unprepared, I humbly asked the Lord to show and speak to me about the topics He would like me to address that would make my talk authentic and my heart humble. I asked the Lord to reveal situations that would make my stories come alive and examples that will make me look like a recipient of God’s glorious grace. I can definitely say, this one rises to the top of my list.

Ever since Chris left for the States, Micah has been dealing with separation anxiety. He has been acting out and throwing fits when he doesn’t get his way. He has been answering back and demonstrating rebellious behavior. He has been disciplined multiple times and though I understand that he is going through a phase and figuring out his emotions, the fact still remains: disrespect and disobedience are unacceptable. We only have three foundational rules in our family: LOVE, OBEY and RESPECT. If your actions fall under categories that disregard those character principles, there will be consequences. Our children have been warned since birth. Clearly, today, he violated all three. He even told me we should go home because he was having a bad attitude and not obeying. HMMMM…He (totally!) knew what he was doing.

I tried really hard to stay calm, but I was really irritated with his rude behavior. I felt embarrassed and wanted to take the easy way out and leave. It would have solved our problem and allowed me to deal with the situation without completely looking like a mom who can’t take control of her child. But having imagined this scenario in our mind, Chris and I have discussed how we would respond if presented with this situation. We decided we would handle the situation then and there. We want to win the sin battle and break his will but not his spirit. I had to ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom as I struggled to quickly find a quiet corner for us to talk and pray.

I finally found a semi-private spot, away from the crazy rush hour crowd and dealt with the seemingly impossible situation. I could see razor sharp eyes glaring at me as I escorted my son to our conversation corner. From salespersons to security guards, bystanders, and SM employees, I watched them glance our way as my son screamed about the worst day of his life. Believe me, it was a nightmare! But because I knew I needed to honor the decision my husband and I had discussed regarding discipline, I had to set aside my pride, ask the Lord for direction, and focus on the task at hand. As it says in Hebrews 12:11, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

I tried to talk to him about his horrific behavior and terrible attitude, but instead of a humble heart, Micah answered me back with, “I don’t like this Mama. I don’t want to obey you.” I asked him to think about his words and his actions and that there are consequences that would follow. I explained to him that he was not only hurting me but was also hurting God. His act of disobedience was bringing us pain and the Lord was not pleased with his actions. I knew that he knew better than to act this way. He even told me, “I’m having a bad attitude. But I don’t want to listen. I’m upset Mama!” I was getting furious but I knew that I couldn’t discipline effectively if I lost my temper.

I had to ask the Holy Spirit to really fill my tank because boy was it running low! I explained that it was okay to feel upset and frustrated but it is never ok to act this way. We concluded our private session when he told me in a much calmer voice, “Mama, I’m still upset but I will stop crying and yelling. But I’m not ready to say sorry.” I told him it was okay but he had to exercise self-control.

After about 15 minutes of turbulence, he finally decided it was wise to calm down. He settled down in one of the grocery carts and told me, “Mama I am happy now.” though knowing full well we weren’t done! He told me (in a pretty demanding tone), “Mama, Mama, I’m ready I’m ready.” But I asked him to get my attention with a much kinder voice. He changed it asked me if we could talk. He even told me he was looking at my eyes, which is always how we try to speak to him especially when we discipline. This was our conversation:

Micah: “Mama, I’m sorry. I apologize now.”

Mama: “Why are you saying sorry? What are you apologizing for Micah?”

Micah: “I had a bad attitude.”

Mama: “What was your bad attitude?”

Micah: “I was screaming and screaming and yelling and crying and screaming.” “I said No Mama, No Mama.” He continued on, “I didn’t obey. I made you sad and God was sad. I will tell papa I did not obey. (He knows his actions will be accounted for by both of us even if there is only one of us present.) I was not listening and not respectful. I’m sorry Mama. I know I have a consequence mama. I need to pray mama. I forgive you now ok? (Translation: please forgive me now.)

Mama: “I forgive you Micah but why did you do that? You knew that was wrong and that it was disrespectful and yet you did it. Was God glorified with your actions?”

Micah: “No. But because I did not get what I want and then I want to go home.” (BOOM! Sinful nature at its finest!)

Mama: “I understand. I’m glad and I’m proud of you for admitting you were wrong and knowing what you did but I was very disappointed in your actions. God was, too. You did not exercise any self-control and you spoke rudely to me. You know that there are consequences. We came here to buy you some fruits because you really like them. But instead of being thankful, you had a bad attitude. You know what to pray for ok? I forgive you.”

He quickly reached over and gave me a hug after our conversation. He prayed and asked the Lord to forgive him. He told me he really wanted to watch Cars with his uncle but he couldn’t because that was his consequence. He doesn’t get to watch TV so this was a huge deal for him. I think it was safe to say that he got the point of a consequence. We carried on with our agenda with smiling faces and a much better demeanor. Praise God! I was glad (and surprised) the guards did not escort us out for causing such commotion.

As I contemplated on our day and shared it with my husband, he was shocked but glad. We knew this day would come and it was just matter of time. I just thought we would handle it together! Haha! Guess what? The first thing he asked was, “Did you bring him home?” I said no. He said, “Good!” He encouraged me by saying he was proud of what I did and that he would have done the same thing. He told me that he was most proud of the fact that I pointed him back to the Lord and that his actions weren’t glorifying to Him.

Through this situation, we were reminded that our goal was to ultimately point our children to Christ. It is our duty as their parents to give our children a healthy fear of the Lord and to regard His standards in the way we think, speak, and act. Though it may be difficult, embarrassing, and challenging (a lot of times), we need to stand united as husband and wife as we guide our children to follow and obey Christ. It is our responsibility to raise them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord yet it is not our choice whether they will give their hearts to Him. But it is our earnest prayer that we will be able to model God’s example even through our imperfections. We are humbled by His grace (2 Corinthians 12:9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”), thankful to have the bible as our manual (2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”), and blessed to have each other as partners (1 Corinthians 11:11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman.) in this wonderful thing called parenting! There is nothing more important in parenting than following God. If we follow His ways in our life, marriage, and parenting, it will revolutionize our family and glorify God!

That experience was both a teachable moment for me and Micah. Sure it was humiliating but what’s truly important is not what other people see but what God sees. God saw Micah’s stubborn heart and my crushed pride. He intervened and worked in us. He humbled us both and reminded us that only His grace and love restores and reconciles. This may not be the last time that something like this will happen but I take comfort in the fact that I can always run to God and His Holy Spirit to strengthen me in moments like these. I can always rely on God’s power to change by sons’ attitudes and disposition. And I can always run to Him for wisdom and grace to know how to handle situations like these in a way that honors Him.

The calm after the storm.

The calm after the storm.

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A Father’s Investment: that thing called separation anxiety

Six weeks is a very long time to be away from my husband. It’s not the most ideal situation and definitely not a common practice for a vacation. But here we are, millions of miles away and across the globe experiencing this separation for the first time in our marriage.

See you in 6 weeks!

See you in 6 weeks!

I have to admit, it wasn’t such a bad idea when we first discussed it since we considered all the factors involved. We also prayed about the situation for a while. But boy is it way harder than I thought. Judging by the way our oldest son has been acting, it is safe to say that we are not handling this situation well. I didn’t realize how much a two and a half year old would understand the words, I MISS YOU. He’s been showing it to me the past couple of days and it broke my heart every time.

A few nights ago, as we said our goodbyes, gave our last hugs, and prayed our last prayer together as a family, we explained to our boys that daddy needed to go to the airport, ride the airplane, and fly home to go back to work. Micah sat on his daddy’s lap and held him extra tight. We told him that Mommy, Titus, and Micah would be staying for another six weeks so we could spend more time with his grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins.

Chris explained that this would be a great time for him to enjoy his family and spend time with his cousins here in the Philippines. Micah nodded in agreement and he seemed to understand what was being explained to him. He said “Papa, you will ride the airplane in the airport so you can go back to work, right Papa?” Chris said yes and told him that he expected great daily reports and exciting stories every day when we talk on the phone. He reminded Micah that it was very important for him to obey and respect Mama and take care of his little brother.

As we drove to the airport, Micah and Titus sat on Chris’ lap and were both surprisingly well behaved and quite silent. As we held hands, I felt like jumping the gun and purchasing last minute tickets to fly home with him. Six weeks never felt like such a long time! I saw the way the boys hugged their dad and looked at him admiringly with eyes filled with sadness as they said goodbye. It broke my heart as Micah whispered during the car ride, “Papa, I will miss you, Papa.” Such simple words yet so profound and so powerful. Chris was dumbfounded by his son’s sincere words. He hugged them and said, “I will miss you, too. I love you so much.”

As I sit here and replay this scene in my mind, tears are rolling down my cheeks. Emotions are running through my heart. My boys LOVE their father. Micah repeated these words a couple more times during the seemingly short ride to the airport. Chris responded with sincere reassurance of his love and care for them. Their vulnerability showed me how fragile and tender all their hearts were. Those father and son moments were quickly photographed in my mind and captured in my heart. Micah held on to me a little tighter that night as we drove back home.

As tears rolled down my cheeks, he quietly kissed my face, as if telling me, “It’s ok mom, I’m here.” He prayed for his dad as he held my hand and wiped my tear away. My heart was full yet broken. He repeatedly told me that he misses his papa. He tried to stay strong and held back his tears. But before bed last night, he broke down. He sobbed as we prepared to say goodnight. He told me, “Mama, I miss papa. I miss papa. I want him to come home.” Titus joined in the choir, too. Micah concluded that Titus was sad and misses Papa, too. He asked me if I was crying because I also missed Papa. The three of us held each other and cried together as I prayed with them. Titus was so uneasy and found it difficult to settle down for bed. But as soon as I sang the song only Chris sings to the boys he settled down and finally fell asleep. I guess my wise toddler was right. His little brother was indeed missing their father. Only God’s embrace could comfort us now. We rested in His arms and trusted in His calm assurance.

This sea of sadness created an opportunity for me to share with Micah how it is okay for us to process our feelings and share it with God. I told him that Mommy and Daddy feel sad too even if we are old. I shared with him that God comforts those who are sad and makes them feel better because He promises never to leave us. Even though Daddy is far away, he will not stopping loving us and that we will see him again soon. We called Chris and chatted with him while he waited to board the aircraft because Micah wanted to hear his daddy’s voice.

That night, Micah chose to read Noah’s Ark as his Bible story before bed. He said, “Mama, I want Noah’s Ark because God takes care of Noah.” I guess he knew in his heart, God is taking care of him, too. It was a simple reminder that taught me to trust in God’s hand through it all.

These days have been quite rough, both for him and for me. Even though I tried to fill his days with a fun trip to a play area and the park with his cousins and soccer practice, he still had his moments of sadness. At one point, I found him sitting at a corner with tears rolling down his face. As I went over and asked him what was wrong, he gave me a huge hug and told me, “Mama please hold me. I miss my papa. I really miss my papa.” I couldn’t help but have my own set of silent tears roll down. I just said, “I miss him too, sweetheart. I miss him, too.”

He just needed a few minutes to hold me in complete silence and then he was fine. We had a couple of these moments and I treasured them. At one point he even said, “Mama I’m having so much fun, I wish papa was here. He will have fun, too, right mama?” Wow. I didn’t realize he could comprehend such things. He understood and truly loved being around his dad. I never thought he would understand and process his feelings in such a mature way. It opened my eyes and highlighted the importance of a father’s role and influence in his son’s life.

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a daily bedtime routine

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after work daddy dough making moment

 

I was so glad my husband invested so much in his son that in those moments of laughter and joy, my son wanted to share them with him. As I contemplate on the time my husband sets aside to remind his boys how much he loves him and enjoys being with them, my eyes are filled with tears of joy because I see the fruit of his labor through the comfort my boys find in his presence. Even my brother was moved and blessed by Micah’s heart towards his father.

A moment in time

A moment in time

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God created light!

I pray that the boys will not only find comfort in the loving arms of my husband but also ultimately they will see that our Heavenly Father loves and cares for them so much more. It says in Psalms 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” I pray that they will take it to heart that God is always with them and though we will not be around all the time, He is and will always be.

Move On Mom

Playdates are usually fun for the mom and the kids until someone cries, gets tired, or doesn’t share. It’s been a couple of months since an incident in a playdate happened to us. It has taken me a while to write about it because I wasn’t ready to sift through my feelings and swallow my pride. Micah clearly is way over it and I, on the other hand, took a while to digest it.
Some months ago, Micah had a playdate with a friend. He was still busy eating lunch, as we all were, when his friend said he wanted to play. My son knows the rule about getting up during meal time. It’s a big no..NO. There will be mishaps here and there but for the most part, Micah knows he is not allowed to run around during meal time until we are all done. That goes for everyone including mom, dad, and Titus.
His friend was getting agitated so he came over and flipped Micah’s plate and water cup. Luckily, he was about 2 bites away from finishing his meal. (If it was a whole plate, I probably would be even more irritated.) The food spilled all over his clothes and water dripped down from his body to the floor.
My eyes grew wide open, my heart started to pound and my temper, well it began to rise. I was in shock. I was more in shock that his mom laughed at the situation as Micah sat there wet to his socks. He whispered quietly, “Mama, I’m all wet.” (In my head, I was like…YEAH CLEARLY!) I saw him looking at me, watching my reaction to the situation. Knowing that my son’s thought bubbles would go like, “Mmmm Wonder what my mom will do?” I smiled (on the outside but definitely not on the inside) and in a very controlled voice, “It’s ok Micah, let’s clean it up. It’s just water. It will dry up.” As we wiped up the spill, his friend started to whine and fuss. He was still upset that Micah hadn’t gotten up to play with him. He cried and yelled for Micah to come over. His mom just laughed it off and said he was tired.
After I cleaned up the mess, I excused myself and went to the bathroom. I needed a time-out. I was sorting through my feelings of anger and confusion. I quickly texted my husband, “Please pick up your phone in 5 minutes. Thanks.” I knew I needed an outlet and my poor husband was in for it. I prayed quietly and asked God to change my heart and calm my voice as we prepared to say goodbye. I told Micah to say goodbye since everyone was probably tired from the day and needed some down time (I needed to get out of there or it will not be pleasant.). When we got to the car, Micah hesitated to sit down and buckle up. He told me, “Mama, I need to go down and say sorry to Michael. He is crying. It’s Micah’s fault.” Oh!!! The fumes burned inside me even more. I gently said, “No Micah, that wasn’t your fault. He spilled water and food on you. You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s time to go home now, ok?”
As we drove off, I quickly called my husband. Thankfully, he picked up. I ranted on and on about the whole situation and expressed how irritated I was. As I shared my feelings, I realized I was upset because they never apologized for what happened. It made me even more upset that Micah felt blamed for the situation because it was the other child who ended up crying. I was upset because his mom made excuses for him. I was upset because there was no remorse or sense of urgency to remedy the situation. I know it wasn’t really that bad, but I was after the principle. I told my husband that I was trying so hard to teach Micah how to play nice, share, and apologize when he is wrong and now that he is wronged, he wasn’t apologized to. WAHHH!!! AARGGGHHH!!!
Praise God for my patient husband. After I chewed his ear out with my frustration, he calmly said, “Are you done? I’m glad you were able to express your feelings. Why don’t we talk about it when I get home. I have to go to the court now.” I was A LOT calmer at this point and I agreed and thanked him for listening to me.
A few minutes later, Micah said, “Mama, are you ok? I think you should pray.” (GRRRRR!!!!!! I DIDN’T REALLY FEEL LIKE PRAYING AT ALL!) “You are right Micah. Let’s pray and thank God for today, huh?” I really tried hard to sound happy and sincere but I was struggling. In the midst of our prayer he says, “Mama, pray for Michael and auntie *his mom*.” I was like…MMM NO WAY! But clearly the Holy Spirit was using my 2-year-old to convict my hardened heart. I asked the Lord to bless them and change my heart towards the situation. After we said Amen, Micah said, “Mama. It’s all done. Ok? All done.” As if he was telling to never ever bring it up again. MOVE ON MOM! Everything is fine now. Boy did I struggle even more! I wrestled with God because I wasn’t done yet.
When Chris got home that night, I quickly said, “Micah, tell daddy what happened today.” He looked at me blankly and said, “Mama, it’s all done right?” But continued on to tell his dad briefly, “Michael threw water at me but it’s all done now Papa, right Mama?” Again, as if telling me to drop the case of the spilled water. I knew God was speaking to me. He was dealing with my heart and asking me to forgive and forget. But I just couldn’t get past it.
I discussed it again with Chris that night as we lay in bed. I just needed to share how slighted I felt. I was definitely crying over spilled milk (but in this case, water). I didn’t want Micah to feel like a bully and that everything is always his fault when he plays with Michael. But Chris, in a kind and gentle way pointed out, “Babe. Micah’s already done with it. He even told you multiple times that it’s all done right? I learned that it takes genuine forgiveness to move past a situation when we feel wronged. Micah has been over it since you guys prayed and you are still dwelling in self-pity and pride.” He continued on to say, “Micah is showing a lot more maturity and godliness in this situation than you are.” MMMM YEAH HE IS! I agreed.
We didn’t see each other for a while because our schedule got crazy. It wasn’t till recently that they asked to meet up with us again. I struggled as I read the text. I called my husband (again, my favorite go-to person for wisdom). I told him about meeting up and he quickly encouraged me to go. I had come up with a text stating I was unavailable and had lots to do because of the busy weekend ahead. But the Holy Spirit nudged me to hold off sending it. Chris told me that Micah needs to learn to deal with different people and different situations. And that I had to grow in dealing with how other parents discipline and respond to our children as well. He said, “This would be a good practice and that it would be a great way for you to show Christ love. It would be a perfect place to practice and apply the message we heard from our pastor last Sunday. Maybe you can win them over to Christ with your love.”
I knew in my heart he was right. He knew my to-do-list was long and needed to get checked off but he said growing in character was more important. Praise God for a godly husband! I responded and met up with Michael and his family with a smile. With a changed heart, I can say that it went much better than I anticipated. My son had a great time and seeing him deal with conflict (as it arose once again) made me appreciate his sincere and genuine heart even more. He dealt with it with ease and handled it with grace. He used his kind words and won his friend over with kindness. I learned to be gracious and respond in love and let my child take charge of himself. At the end of the day, I was glad I went. We all need a lesson or two on love, no matter how old we get.
Today, I came to the conclusion that at this time of my life, motherhood is my ministry and our playdates well, you can call them my mission field, where the character of both my boys and mine will grow and get tested. I pray we will truly reflect Christ in every situation and show love even in the most difficult circumstances. I’m grateful that God’s love overlooks my faults and this prompts me to do the same even if it’s hard. I’m still a work in progress and I’m thankful that God’s love will never give up on me. 🙂

PS: Real names weren’t used.

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Truth Be Told: A Toddler’s Confession

Today marked a milestone for me as a mom of a two. I never thought about dealing with honesty this way or this soon.

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Micah at 2.5 and Titus at 8 months old

I would often let Micah and Titus play together while I cook, clean or do the laundry. I would be around the area or within a short distance from the two of them just in case some mishaps happen. Titus is a pretty tough baby. He doesn’t get hurt very often and is usually quite tolerant of his brother when he starts playing a little rough. He would laugh when Micah would pretend to play or throw a football or swing his imaginary baseball bat. He loves hanging around his older brother and follow him around (in a much slower pace a.k.a crawling).

It’s fun watching them interact and be buddies. Micah is usually pretty good around Titus and is pretty careful when Titus is close by. There would be days when he would get frustrated with Titus when he chews on his toys or mess up his work during home school time but for the most part, I think he likes having his little brother around. The other night though, we had to remind him to be more gentle when he pretended to tackle and run around Titus. We told him that his baby brother isn’t big enough to play football yet, let alone be his football at the moment. 

This morning, as the boys were playing in the living room, I ran upstairs to grab my phone and my wallet as we prepared to leave for an errand. I told Micah to watch Titus for a second. He was busy playing with his big construction trucks while Titus was crawling around him. There were coos and laughter but as soon as I got my wallet, I heard Titus crying. I ran downstairs to see what had happened.

Micah had stepped a couple of feet away while Titus was on the floor (in a crawling position) with his hand outstretched with fingers apart. My initial thought was probably one of the wheels of the excavator must have ran over his tiny little fingers. Whether it’s on purpose or not, I don’t know and I really can’t tell. I decided to pick up Titus, wipe his tears, and calmly ask Micah what happened. He told me, “Mama, Titus just cry. I don’t know.” I asked him if he had anything to do with it, he said, “no mama” and started rolling his truck the other direction.

Titus was way over it at this point. It literally took him one loud “WAAHH” then some “sniff sniff” and then it was over. I debated whether I should pry some more or not. I was tempted to accuse Micah (gently) or present the “possible” scenario of what just happened. But I restrained myself and thought it was best to just end the situation with a calm reminder to be careful around his little brother and to make sure he paid attention to where he was going. 

We all hopped in the car and I drove away. At one of the stoplights a couple blocks from home, Micah quietly said, “Mama, I gotta tell you something.” I glanced up and said, “Yes Micah?” He continued on with a remorseful and almost teary face and said, “Mama, I sorry. I hurt Titus and he cried. It was accident. I sorry Mama. I hurt Titus. Mama, I forgive you.” (which means “please forgive me,” he still can’t quite figure that one out yet.)

I pulled over after crossing the red light and asked him to look me in the eyes as I smiled and said, “Micah, thank you for telling mama the truth. I’m so glad you were honest. Mama wouldn’t be mad as long as you tell the truth. I’m so proud of you for being brave enough to tell mama what really happened. God is really happy about what you did, too. That was very mature and God-honoring. I forgive you. Please be more careful around Titus next time ok?” He smiled. I continued on, “How do you feel now?” He said, “Mama I say sorry to Titus.” Then he quickly turned towards Titus and said, “Titus, I sorry. I hurt you. I forgive you ok?” (again, it means, “please forgive me”) I chuckled in the front seat as I watched him in the rear view mirror. After his sincere apology, I noticed his whole demeanor changed. He was smiling, talking and bubbly once again. We prayed and I thanked God for giving him an honest heart. He quickly added “I sorry God for hurting Titus.” as we prepared to say Amen.

I praise God for giving me the wisdom to stay calm and restraining myself from accusing Micah of hurting Titus. I praise God for the sensitive heart that He has given him. I pray that he will always choose to obey Christ even when things get difficult.

As I shared this story with my husband, we were reminded of Proverbs 22:6 which says, “Train up a child in the way he should go. Even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We pray that both our boys will come to know Christ at a young age and have a personal relationship with Him. It is our desire to pass on a godly legacy that will always point them to our Creator. This incident also reminded us that we are accountable to the Lord to teach our children biblical principles and to be the godly example He wants us to be. But apart from Him, we cannot do it. We are blessed to have the Holy Spirit to help us through this journey of parenthood.

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Sensory Bin Success!

My interest sure has shifted from tiaras and tutus to trucks and trains after having a little boy. I’ve driven by construction sites countless of times but it has never caught my eye. I never even stopped for a glance. Heck! It wasn’t even on my radar! But having boys has definitely diverted my attention. Now, I would spot it from a distance!

After I saw how much he loved his construction book “Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site” (great book by the way!) I thought it would be fun to make it come alive by allowing him to have his own little construction site. A couple of weeks ago, we were also fortunate enough to get up close to a real bulldozer when we saw the tow truck drop it off onto the site. I asked permission from the driver if we could get close and take a picture with it. Micah was “truck-struck.” He couldn’t believe how gigantic the machine was. It never looked that big in the pictures!

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Thumbs up indeed!

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I gotta admit, that was pretty cool even for my husband and I!

 

We built our own construction site sensory bin. A sensory bin is a small container with a variety of materials placed together to stimulate the senses. Sensory bins give your child opportunities to assume the role of a scientist and explorer as he handles, manipulates, sorts, and examine the items in the bin. They also increase your child’s ability to be attentive. The potpourri of items in your bin will give him the ability to make decisions on how he may want to use them. Creativity and imagination are given a free reign. Self-discoveries allow for new concepts to form such as new vocabulary, sorting, and integrating old and new knowledge. You are also giving your child the opportunity to develop the essential sensitive period of refining his senses. For those of you who have a couple of children, it gives them a chance to work together. As an added bonus, did I mention that it is so much fun?

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Micah enjoyed these sensory bins so much so that not only did it occupy him for 1.5-2 hours in the morning, he asked to do it again after he woke up from his nap. It fostered lot of independent work, exploration and self-entertainment. I observed how he worked with his materials and used his imagination. Phrases, sounds, and memorized paragraphs of books that contained those items were being recited. He even got the books that he associated those items with and integrated them to his activity. He also cleaned them all in the sink after he was done because the coffee beans made them a little sticky. 

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He even asked to wear his crane truck pjs to match his work for the day!

 

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He was reciting the lines he memorized from each page as he matched each truck.

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Clean those trucks!

After seeing how much he enjoyed the trucks, I decided to do it with dinosaurs too. I was able to find a book that included the dinosaurs and had information about them (which made it so much easier for me since I don’t know what they are called). He had a blast and I did, too! It brought me joy to see that such simple things can bring such delight to him. Best of all, we used everything we had at home and incorporated them into the activity.

Materials:

Construction Site: plastic bin, Toy State Caterpillar Construction Mini Machine 5-Pack Target about $5.89 (vs Amazon $15), old Folgers coffee, pearl barley


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Can you see what I picked up? The bulldozer, excavator and the dump truck all had their share of fun…now it’s your turn!

 

Jurassic Park: plastic bin, Junior Groovies dinosaur book with dinosaurs inside, small container with vinegar (as lake/”bath tub”) with a drop of vanilla extract, blue food coloring (to make it look like a lake), baking soda, marbles, trees collection from Safari Ltd.

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Check out both their smiles! These two are such eager learners!

Micah loved being in his Jurassic Park dream world. My original thoughts were, the baking soda would be the ground, the vinegar would be the lake and the marbles as the rocks. But he had a completely different idea in mind. He pretended that it was a dinosaur bath party! The baking soda was the soap that he covered the dinosaurs in and he gave them a bath in the vinegar tub. The fizzle effect caused by the reaction of the vinegar and the baking soda really entertained him. I would hear him say words like dinosaurs take turns, wait in line, and “Yehey! Bath time!” It was fun to see and hear him use his imagination and get creative. I changed the vinegar every 20 minutes when it stopped fizzling. Towards the end, Micah asked for two containers with different colors, he used it to sort out the marbles from the dinosaurs.

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Concentration and fascination at its finest!

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Vinegar + Baking soda bubble bath was a real dinosaur treat!

I hope you’ll get inspired and create your own little spaces for your little ones to enjoy. Feel free do share your ideas here, too!

Instant Infant Fun!

       Different Ways to Engage Your Infant

Congratulations! By the ripe old age of three months, your baby is no longer a newborn. Your little one can now turn his head when he hears your voice, waves his hands, and kicks his feet when he feels excited. He has mastered the much-awaited grins, gurgles, and giggles. Not to mention the infamous cry to express joy or pain. Good bye passive newborn, hello active infant!

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Your buddy is now stronger, more active, and can use his body to reach, pull, and manipulate the world around him. How amazing it is to see all the creative ways they explore! These activities aren’t just a source of entertainment for our little one they are all learning experiences through which life skills are developed along with his sense of self. This is the time to usher in the new era of exploration! Sing songs with hand movements. Give him toys that shake, rattle, and roll. Get him to scream in laughter with high flying rides and tickle games that require the use of his whole body.

The reward of exploring with your baby and his body is the wonder of interaction. Seeing him enjoy it will bring a huge smile to your face, too. Bonds of love and trust are formed through early interaction and play. Spontaneity can make these interactions even more fun and rewarding, so find an opportunity at every turn! You can play peek-a-boo games during diaper change, tuck your baby in a sling while you vacuum the floor, throw in a little dance or two while you do the dishes while he watches you, and burst into song or whistle while you work can help turn a fussy infant into a giggly one.

Remember to build a relationship with your child by engaging in intimate activities that will help him master certain skills but also create a lasting and joyful bond. Here are 5 fun ways to keep our little ones—including ourselves—entertained! Who doesn’t love to see their baby smile back at them? 🙂

IMG_22181. This Coo is For You!

From 3-6 months, your baby is often a social being full of the cutest coos and irresistible smiles. Although he can’t say real words yet, the adorable sounds he utters are his way of exploring the world of communication. He learns from the responses you give to these vocalizations. To help boost language by understanding what he hears and saying his own words, keep talking (and talking and talking) to your little one. Speak slowly, clearly, and simply. By responding to your baby, you are showing him that you value what he has to say and will encourage him to communicate even more. A squeal or squirm is a great way to see that he realizes you are following his body movements and are interested in what he has to say.

Keep your baby interested by repeating his own sounds back to him. When he says “ga-ga-ga,” respond excitedly with your own “ga-ga-ga.” He’ll love the attention but will also get in the habit of imitating your real words too. By encouraging your baby to mimic, you will inspire him to try even more complex word patterns which eventually will result in his attempt to say words and phrases. Titus loves being talked to. He responds with his ear-to-ear grin and starts cooing back. It never fails to make us smile. (This a great way to get your older child involved too. T loves it when M talks and sings to him.)

cooing with grandpa!

Grandpa and Titus enjoying a fun conversation! 

2. Mirror Mirror in Front of Me, Who is that Cutie that I see?

Watching his own face and interacting with his own image in the mirror increases your baby’s budding awareness of himself as a separate person. This is very amusing to him. You gotta admit, I bet you can name some adults who can look at themselves for a pretty long time! Here’s what you can do.
a) Prop a mirror against a wall, (I usually use the coffee table) and lay your baby on his tummy (instant tummy time!)
b) Point to the baby in the mirror and introduce him to himself. You can name the parts of his face as you point and touch each part. The mirror helps your learn to track, focus and explore.

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It promotes upper body strength and visual stimulation. Follow his lead, he can quit if he has had enough but don’t be afraid to challenge him by going a little longer each time. Our little Titus used to dislike tummy time. We would put him in his tummy and he would fuss and fret for a while, when he realizes help isn’t on the way, he plops his head and goes to sleep! It happened every time! 

He tends to do this...haha

So I checked out Target but they ran out of mirrors and when I finally found one (I bought two because extra is always good!) Titus realized it wasn’t the worst thing in the world to be on his belly! By the way, I got those mirrors for five bucks only! Tummy time got longer and longer and now, he has finally learned to love it. 🙂

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I SEE ME!

3. Movement Motivation: Just a little out of reach

This encourages your baby to make early efforts to grab things and move his body towards something or someone he wants like a ball, a colorful toy or you! Creeping forward, rolling over, or just s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g as far as he can go will help him develop those little muscles. Be careful not to tease him. Make sure to build success into the activity. If you see him getting frustrated, move it a little closer or give him a break, sing a song or two then try again.

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These were taken when he was about 2.5 months. 

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These were taken when he was about 4.5 months. He got the concept pretty quick! He even pulls   on the blanket so Sophie gets closer. Good problem solving skills there bud! 

4. Bathtub Ballet

Make bath time fun and exciting is a great way to encourage motor skills. Sitting and splashing in the bathtub is a thrill for both my boys. With the tub filled with lukewarm water and your baby seated on a non-slip mat, encourage your little one to kick and splash and play! When he starts kicking, you can start chanting, “Kick, kick, kick!” This will encourage him to continue kicking. Kicking helps strengthen his leg and abdominal muscles which is important for crawling and then eventually walking. This activity also helps develop his confidence in water which helps when he starts swim lessons.  Titus absolutely loves this! He can stay and kick in the tub for a really long time.  

5. Toe-Knee-Chest-Nut

Kicking feet and waving hands are generally the signs that your baby is beginning to understand that he can somewhat control the movements in his body. Reinforce this by drawing attention to the major body parts for him. Place him on a bed or changing table or the floor then touch his face and say “face.” Hold his hands and make him feel your face, too. Repeat with each body part and make him feel both his own and yours. This provides tactile stimulation and helps him become aware of his body parameters. The song Tony Chestnut is a fun one to sing while pointing to each body part. Tony Chestnut knows I love you. (Toe-Knee-Chest-Nut, Nose, eye love you!) I didn’t get it the first time but now I’ve discovered what a fun song it is! Accompanying these exercises with playful interactions help build a close relationship between you and your child and sows the seeds for a healthy self-esteem, too.

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Micah loves doing this with Titus.

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Micah likes blowing on his tummy while singing songs with him.

IMG_4370 Fun moments with daddy!

Your newborn has surpassed the eat-sleep-poop routine and is now a responsive infant. Take advantage of this stage by keeping your little one engaged with these fun and simple activities. I’m sure you’ll have a blast, too! 🙂 

titus

Fine Motor Skill Activities that Your Kids Will Enjoy

Fine Motor Skill Activities that Your Kids Will Enjoy

Almost every parent feels the pressure to make their children write right now. But teaching your child how to write isn’t as easy as putting a pencil in his hand and showing him the alphabet. Children greatly benefit from experiences that support the development of fine motor skills in their hands and fingers.

They should have strength and dexterity before being asked to manipulate a pencil on paper. Working on this first can eliminate the development of an inappropriate pencil grasp. This happens when children get engaged in writing experiences before their hands are really ready. The following activities involve the use of practical life materials that will support your child’s fine motor development and help build the strength and dexterity necessary to hold a pencil appropriately in the future.

All these items can be found either at home or purchase from the dollar store or at Ikea. They have child-size items that will make it easier for the child to handle. These simple practical life activities may seem “easy” for us but it goes a long way with your child. These are indirect preparations that help in the coordination of your child’s movements and development of concentration.

Friendly Reminders:

1. Demonstrate how to do these activities next to your child so they can see what you are doing. Usually, you have your child sit first and you sit to the child’s right.

2. Name the objects you will use before you start.

3. Try to use as minimal words as you can and let your movements do the talking.

4. Make sure he/she is watching how you manipulate the items you are using.

5. Your goal is to demonstrate these actions clearly so the child can repeat the activity successfully and independently.

6. These activities aim to develop his/her coordination, concentration, gracefulness, and independence.

7. Repetition is important. If your child wants to do it over and over, encourage him/her to do so. It helps your child master the skill involved and allows your little one to gain more confidence in himself/herself as well.

8. Make sure to watch out for these important skills: concentration, hand-eye coordination, patience, and hand control.

9. Don’t forget to have your child clean up!

10. HAVE FUN!

Now let’s look at some easy activities:

SPOONING GRAINS:

Materials: Tray, 2 identical bowls, spoon/ scooper, grains (in this case, I used expired popcorn)

STEPS:

a. Wrap your three right fingers around the handle and firmly grip the handle.

b. Make sure the child sees you positioning the oval mouth of the spoon in the center of the bowl, so the grains fall into the bowl and not onto the tray.

c. If the grain falls, show the child how to remove the bowls and pinch the grains one at a time and replace into the bowl.

Variation: You can use jars to practice pouring grains, too.

Spooning Kernels with a Scooper

Spooning Kernels with a Scooper

Spooning Grains with a Spoon

Spooning Grains with a Spoon

POURING WATER:

Materials: Tray, 2 identical glass cups, sponge/towel to wipe off the spills, apron

STEPS:

a. Pouring water from the right hand jug into the left-hand jug then from left jug into right jug.

b. A cloth is to be used to wipe the spills.

Pouring Water Variation: You can have different size jars, some may even need a funnel.

Pouting Water

Pouting Water

SQUEEZING WATER FROM A BASTER:

STEPS:

a. Show your child how to hold the baster by the bulb to draw up the water by squeezing it and releasing the pressure on the bulb.

b. Move the full baster over to the second container and squeeze the water out.

c. REPEAT!

This was a little tricky especially with learning how to manipulate the baster so it took him a few rounds of spills and practice before getting the concept of releasing it after he puts it over the other jar. Micah also realized that it was easier for him after he held the bottle in place by moving it to edge so it wouldn’t move while he squeezed the water out. A towel close by is very handy because this takes a while to get used to. You can use a medicine dropper too. But because of the size of the baster, it makes it easier for their little hands to start with.

Squeeze me Baster!

Squeeze me Baster!

SPONGING:

(See the smile? He loved this!)

Materials: 2 buckets or 2 different containers (mixing bowls are good for these too)

STEPS:

a. Take the sponge and dip it in the water.

b. WAIT a few seconds for the sponge to absorb the water.

c. Pick it up and move your hands with the sponge over the other container.

d. Squeeze the sponge with both hands over the other container.

SPONGING!

SPONGING!

PLAY DOUGH:

We made homemade Jello Play Dough! They smelled so good and I wasn’t too worried if he tried to eat it. (Thank God he didn’t! haha) Squishing, squeezing, stretching and moulding play dough helps to build muscle strength in the fingers and hands.

Providing small items like buttons, sequins, pasta, pebbles and shells with the play dough will also encourage the child to use his/her hands when picking up and placing these objects in the dough. Put out some shape cutters, a grater, blunt plastic knives and tweezers which can all be used to mould and transform the play dough.

In our picture, we used the Melissa and Doug set I found at Ross for $5. Rolling pins foster the development of the precision muscles of the hands. The precision muscles of the hands are the muscles that support the pencil grasp and teaches the child how to adjust the amount of pressure when holding a pencil.

Mold & Make Me Something!

Mold & Make Me Something!

These are just some of the many things that your toddler can do to exercise his/her fine motor skills. Show excitement and delight when your child accomplishes these tasks! Encourage them to continue doing it. As parents, be in the moment and pay full attention to your child. Developing motor skills is the first step to writing without stressing your child and yourself, too!