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The Mommy Chronicles: Breaking the Habit

Beaux William taking a candy break. When your children surprise you and act like big helpers, an occasional reward is a great way to end the activity. Beaux William taking a candy break. When your children surprise you and act like big helpers, an occasional reward is a great way to end the activity.

By Marlena Rice

Sometimes, our children are labeled with titles as they develop unforeseen habits that make even the best of us moms cringe: “Defiant.” “Biter.” “Whiner.” As a toddler mom, I have watched my son’s cries evolve from the “I’m really aggravated” cry to the “I’m crying although there are no tears” cry to the “I have my mouth open to make noise, but I really just want to see if you’re going to do what I want” cry. I have also gone through a terrible biting phase and an annoying (but thankfully) very brief “no” phase. How do we control these things? By knowing that we cannot control everything, and understanding that each of our babies is different. We can change their habits by taking a look at how we interact with them, and by paying even more attention to their surroundings.

 

Saying “No”

The bottom line is this: There comes a point in your toddler’s life when he or she realizes that they have a will of their own. Why do they say “no”? It’s simple: They can, so they will. This phase with my toddler was brief. As common practice, when we asked him to do something and got a big, fat “no,” we spun his newfound will into what he thought was a choice, or, at the very least, the appearance of other options. Instead of saying “Beaux, pick up your toys,” we began to say, “Beaux, do you want to pick up your toys first and then eat dinner? Or, do you want to eat dinner first and then pick up your toys?” More than likely your child will choose one thing, and when that task is complete, it is super easy to transition into the next thing (which you’ve already mentioned).

 

Biting/Fighting/Hitting

No parent likes to see their little one bite or hit another child. My personal response has always been, “I need to alleviate this problem because I would not want my child bit or hit, etc.” When our son started biting it came as a shock to us, as it only happened in his schooling environment. I was perplexed. He attended church with a good-sized group of children each week, played with our neighbors’ children and we never had an issue. Each child’s case is different. Some children bite because they are not able to express their feelings, and it comes out in the form of biting, whether it’s due to frustration, fear, overexcitement, under-stimulation, or even out of defense. As a mother who has experienced this recently, I advise paying close attention to situations that provoke the biting. I recommend these approaches:

 

  1. Explain in a firm matter that biting hurts and is not a nice thing to do.
  2. Order a time-out.
  3. Take something away that your child will notice, like a favorite television show, toy truck or time playing outside.
  4. Ensure that the environment your child is in is the right one for them. My personal experience caused me to change my son’s schooling environment, and this has alleviated his problem.

 

Excessive Crying/Whining

Yes, babies will cry, but sometimes, our little people go overboard as they get older, thinking that crying and whining is the way to get their way. Make sure you stand your ground and say “no” when you mean it. It’s important that your child does not see you change your mind after they had a whining/crying episode. Also, teach the little ones the art of compromise. Teach them that while they cannot always have their way, things may work more in their favor if they help keep their rooms clean, or are just good little people in general.

 

Marlena Rice is a local mom and author. Her new book, “Pacifiers, Flatbeds and Barn Wood Thingamajigs, a 'Come to Jesus Guide' for the New, Southern Mom,” will be available on Amazon.com soon. Follow Marlena on Instagram at marlena_rice. 

Photo: Marlena Rice

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Lake Tuscaloosa Living (LTL) is the premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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