How to Handle a Defiant Three Year Old

Readers, what are your best tips for how to handle a defiant three-year-old, aka the threenager (or a kiddo in the terrible twos)? How do you deal with discipline as a working parent in general — and how do you get your nanny or babysitter on the same page?

Everyone says the that the twos are terrible, but for us it was the threes that have been truly, truly horrible with both kids. When my eldest, J, was a threenager, we were giving him time-outs on a regular basis. (That’s him pictured — after a particularly rough night we woke up to find that he had stripped the bookshelves in his room and thrown all of his books in a pile behind the couch in his room. Sadly, I have no good picture of the time he painted the same couch with poop.) We were constantly frustrated and screaming, and it felt like we were never, ever, ever going to be able to live in peace with our child again. Then, one day we sort of looked at each other and said, “Huh… we haven’t given J a time-out in a thousand years. That’s so weird.” It had just sort of ended. Now he’s a perfectly insane six-year-old who gets up to his own mischief, but thankfully we’re mostly past the screaming/time-out stage of things. But: now my youngest, H, is three and a half, and if the slightest thing goes wrong, he is screeching and screaming. He excels at making messes, and his favorite thing right now is taking a pillow and throwing it to knock things off of high shelves. Charming!

(It’s also interesting to note that in the classic, must-read POOPCUP article, this is a growth stage for parents also — the article was joking about how parenting is pretty easy for “parents of one perfect child under preschool” age, but stuff starts to hit the fan once you get into the preschool weeds. Here’s our whole roundup on great articles on pregnancy and motherhood…)

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How to Stop Cursing Around Kids

how to stop cursing around kidsEvery parent has that moment when your kiddo starts speaking, and you think to yourself: SHIT! now we’ve got to stop swearing so much! We were just talking about swearing at work over at Corporette, and I thought an interesting corollary over here might be to share stories and tricks on how to stop cursing around kids.

As I’ve explained at Corporette, personally I like to joke that I was a sailor in a previous life because, around good friends at least, I tend to swear quite a bit. But when my eldest, J, was starting to speak, I found I definitely not want him to start saying bad words — I didn’t want to be That Mom with the kid who swears like a sailor since I feel like it reflects more on the parents than it does the kids. I’ve surprised myself in how little I want my kid to swear — I don’t even like for him to hear the phrase “that sucks” or “crap,” just in part because I think it’s just as easy to say “that stinks” or “well, carp,” both of which are much more acceptable.

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The Working Mom’s Guide to Easy School Lunches

easy school lunch ideasOk, ladies — what do you pack for your kiddo’s lunches, whether for daycare, elementary school, or other? Are you most concerned with ease of packing, assuredness of eating, nutrition, calories, or cost? What are your top easy school lunch ideas? Have you had success outsourcing this task — for example, I’ll bet this is a nobrainer for those of you with au pairs, but for those of you in daycare it’s either you or your partner. We kind of had a discussion about working moms and kids lunches a few year ago, but it’s been a while — so let’s discuss.

For my $.02, we’re trying to maintain my first grader’s weight until he grows a bit taller, so my primary concerns are a mix of calories, nutrition, and volume (I want him to feel like he’s getting a lot of food, even if I know he’ll only eat half of the cherry tomatoes or baby carrots I pack for him), and, selfishly, ease of packing for me or my husband. We also try to be good to the environment where we can and pack reusable containers — but I’m also realizing that this is resulting in a zillion dishes to wash, so we’ll see how that goes.

For “mains” I find that it’s hard to get around yogurt/milk/sandwich options, unless we have acceptable leftovers (for example, I’ve given meatballs and rice before!) — so most of these ideas are easy snacks and “extras.” But I’m curious to hear what your tips are for packing school lunches — and what you pack! 

These are my go-tos for easy school lunches:

Easy School Lunch Ideas that are Healthy and Non-Processed

  • cherry tomatoes
  • apples, precut apple slices
  • baby carrots
  • hard boiled eggs
  • shredded or pulled chicken
  • grapes
  • all berries

Healthy, Convenient Food Ideas for School Lunches

Some good ideas if you’re in the middle of the road (i.e., “healthy” convenience food) — but they tend to be expensive!:

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Make Bathtime Easier with These 10 Tips

make bathtime easierBathtime with babies and little kids can be many things: fun, relaxing, hectic, boring, etc., depending on your kid’s age, current mood, and general attitude toward baths. Have you developed any tips and tricks to make bathtime easier?

First, I’ll share a few things we’ve done at our house to make our son’s bathtime easier:

1. Cushion your knees with one of those squishy kneeling pads that some people use for gardening or other home chores, like these. (I may have even picked up ours in the dollar section of CVS.) They make kneeling on the floor in front of the tub much more comfortable! This product is even fancier and more functional.

2. For a kid old enough to stand when you get her out of the tub, buy a hooded bathrobe like this one. It’ll keep her warm without any effort on her (or your part) — when you’re getting out the hair dryer or whatever — and it’ll start the drying-off process before you turn to a towel.

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How I Royally Screwed Up Potty Training (And What to Do Instead)

How I Royally Screwed Up Potty Training (And What to Do Instead) | CorporetteMomsLadies, let’s talk potty training! What’s your best potty training advice — particularly if you’ve already been through it with a child?

For my own $.02, I will admit it: I royally screwed up potty training with my eldest son, J. Things we did wrong, in no particular order:

  • We “waited until he was ready.” But we kept checking. So we put the little potty out. We sat him on the big potty (with the little seat.)
  • We didn’t give it enough time. One morning when he was around 3, we put him in undies instead of diapers and said “LET’S DO THIS!” He peed through a pair of undies; we gave him second. Then a third. Then a fourth. By 11 AM the entire 6-pack of undies we’d bought was soiled, so we put him back in diapers and decided to try again some other weekend. Then we went out to brunch.
  • We put him in undies right away. He never really had a naked weekend — and we put him in undies and pants immediately once he started getting it right. He treated his undies like diapers far, far, far too often (yuck).
  • We tried pull-ups when undies didn’t work. We even got some that turned cold when he peed in them, which bothered him exactly one time and after that he was cool with it.
  • We said it was OK when he peed his pants or pooped in his undies. “Oh, that’s OK!” we’d say, ruffling his hair affectionately. “It happens sometimes!” Even now that he is 5.5 and in kindergarten, if he doesn’t make it to the bathroom in time he’ll tell me, “It’s ok! It happens sometimes!”

SO: With my second son, H., we decided we were going to have a PLAN OF ATTACK. With a book. And everything. And it’s early days still (we’re coming up on one week as I write this), but it’s going muuuuuuuuch better than it did with J. I got the book Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right, by Jamie Glowacki and, as recommended by Lucie’s List, read through the first five chapters before starting anything. Some major steps that we took this time based on the thus-far excellent advice:

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3 Ways to Teach Kids a New Language

Teach Kids a New LanguageI still remember the big day in 6th grade that we got to choose the foreign language that we’d start learning: Spanish, French, or German. (I picked Spanish.) Many schools in the U.S. still don’t begin to teach kids a new language until middle school, while most European countries, for example, start instruction of a second language when kids are six to nine years old. Here are a few reasons why it’s beneficial to start language learning sooner rather than later:

  • “The ability to hear different phonetic pronunciations is sharpest before age 3, and we lose the capacity to hear and produce certain sounds if we aren’t exposed to them early on.” [Parents]
  • “After the teen years, the brain changes and makes it extremely challenging (if possible at all) for an adult to learn a foreign language.” [Parent.co]
  • “While new language learning is easiest by age 7, the ability markedly declines after puberty.” [NBC News]

Over at Corporette, we recently talked about ways to learn a foreign language as an adult, so we thought it was a good idea to talk about language-learning for kids, too. If you or your partner don’t speak a second language and neither do your parents/in-laws, here are a few ways to teach kids a new language:
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