Sleep Training & Parenting Coaching Philosophy

Many parents ask us about our beliefs and principles, which is an essential question to ask before you hire a sleep consultant or parenting expert or follow a book on the subject. You want to make sure before you start implementing any sleep strategy or parenting advice, that you share the principles with the experts giving you the advice.

In Smooth Parenting we believe:

  • Parents should promote and support the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of their children from babyhood to adulthood.
  • Children must know that they are unconditionally loved and that their parents will always be there for them.
  • Children must feel happy, respected, valued, loved, acknowledged, safe and protected in order to thrive and achieve their potential in life.
  • The dignity and rights of children must be respected.
  • Sleeping, eating and exercising are basic needs for babies and children.
  • Consistency and team work are key in order to be successful at parenting.
  • We believe that babies and children thrive when their lives are organized and when they know what’s expected of them.
  • An ‘structured routine’ adapted to each family’s individual circumstances is essential to create a chaos-free and stress free home.
  • Every child is unique, special and should be treated as such.
  • There’s always a reason/motivation/cause for children to cry, protest, misbehave, be aggressive… and that in order to solve that behavior, parents need to discover it and solve it.
  • It is important for parents to model appropriate behavior and to establish expectations as well as limits.
  • Physical punishment or disciplining techniques are never the right way to go.

Our parenting techniques promote independence, self-esteem, self-assurance, open communication, love, empowerment and self-improvement. We respect and follow the guidelines provided by the American Association of Pediatrics.

We know that our approach and methods are effective, and although not always easy to implement, we will be there with the parents every step of the way.

Much love, Diana-

Rule Out Medical Problems before Sleep Training

Before you start any sleep training program with your child, you should always rule out medical problems that might be causing your her sleep problems. Therefore, it is wise to discuss sleep issues with your child’s pediatrician.

These are some medical problems that might interfere with your child’s sleep quality:

  • Nasal Congestion – Newborn infants must breathe through the nose. Nasal congestion in an infant’s first few months of life can interfere with nursing, and in rare cases can cause serious breathing problems. Nasal congestion in older children and adolescents is usually just an annoyance, but it can cause other difficulties. Nasal congestion can interfere with the ears, hearing, and speech development. Significant congestion may interfere with sleep.
  • Teething – The discomfort that teething causes can start well in advance of any teeth actually appearing. Some babies are affected as early as four months of age. The main symptoms of teething are: fussiness, excessive drooling, runny nose, rash on the chin or near the mouth (caused by the excessive saliva), biting and chewing on anything that gets near the mouth, red cheeks, rejecting breast or bottle, more need to suck, swollen gums that may appear a purplish color, soft stools and/or diaper rash.
  • Ear Infections – An ear infection is usually caused by bacteria, but a virus can also be the culprit. It happens when fluid builds up in the area behind your baby’s eardrum and then becomes infected. Pacifier use may increase the risk of middle ear infections in babies and young children. Ear infections cause mild to severe pain, which may disrupt your child’s sleep. The easiest ways to tell if your baby has an ear infection are: a change in his mood (more fussy, crying…), a fever, pulling/grabbing her ears, diarrhea, reduced appetite, a yellowish/whitish fluid draining from her ear, or a foul odor emanating from the ear.
  • Colic – Colicky infants appear to have a shorter duration of total sleep. Sleep problems may sometimes persist after the child has outgrown colic because the strategies that parents developed to decrease the crying spells (i.e., frequent holding, car rides) interfere with the adoption of normal sleep patterns. An infant older than four months who continues to wake during the night is considered a trained night crier. These infants calm quickly when picked up. Some people believe that this pattern develops because parents provide secondary gain for continued awakening.
  • Acid Reflux – gastroesophageal reflux disease (GER) can be painful and can cause colic and vomiting. It is also risk factor for pulmonary disease. GER causes resistance to feeding, blood in the vomit or stool, iron deficiency anemia, irritability (due to an inflamed esophagus), or failure to thrive. If your baby refuses feedings, takes very long to feed, arches her back while feeding or trying to sleep, makes ‘weird’ noises while sleeping, and/or spits ups or vomits often; you should consult with your pediatrician.
  • Yeast and urinary tract infections – Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)’s most common, and often unique sign is  an unexplained fever. In some cases, a baby may  also have other symptoms: crying/complaining when urination,  odd-smelling urine, cloudy or bloody urine, unexplained and persistent irritability, vomiting, and/ or refusal to eat.
  • Milk Allergy – the main symptoms among infants are: vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, abdominal bloating, skin rashes and/or respiratory symptoms (cough and runny nose). Cow’s milk allergy may cause more awakenings, shorter sleep cycles, and dramatic reductions in total sleep time.
  • Sleep Apnea – a condition in which an infant awakens periodically because he stops breathing. Obstructive sleep apnea prevents kids from getting enough sleep, and deprives them of oxygen, which can cause a variety of more serious cognitive, health, and developmental problems. And if infants don’t awaken when they experience breathing difficulties, they are at higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Night Terrors – Pavor nocturnus (night terrors) occur approximately 90 minutes into sleep. The child suddenly sits bolt upright and screams, and is inconsolable for up to 30 minutes before relaxing and falling back to sleep. Tachycardia, tachypnea and other signs of full-fledged autonomic arousal are apparent. Night terrors usually occur in children 3 to 8 years of age. They need to be distinguished from nightmares. They are more likely to occur during times of stress or fatigue. As frightening as they are, parents and children usually only need to be reassured that they are generally self-limiting.

Sources:

http://www.aafp.org/afp/2001/0115/p277.html

http://www.parentingscience.com/baby-sleep-problems.html

http://www.babycenter.com

Best NURSERY to help your baby sleep

The goal is for your baby’s nursery to be a calm, soothing place.

The associations that your child has with the nursery, as mentioned in previous posts, should be positive.

Here are some things that you can do to make your baby’s nursery more conducive to sleep:

  • Dark: try to keep your baby’s nursery dark while she’s sleeping. It does not have to be pitch black though; in fact, some kids might need a night-light to sleep between 18 months and 2 years old, when they start having nightmares. If you decide to leave a night-light make sure it’s not too bright, but gives enough light for your toddler to see his surroundings.
  • Quiet: nursery should be away from the main activity area of your home. You don’t need to be whispering around while your baby naps or sleeps, but she shouldn’t be exposed to loud noise while sleeping.
  • Crib: your crib should be comfortable and free of toys and blankets. Make sure your crib is JPMA certified.
  • Temperature: Room temperature is vital in creating a safe sleeping environment for your baby and should be maintained at 68-72°F to help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • No TV, radio, dvd, phone… or other electronic devices or toys accessible to your child.

Much love, Diana-

 

Help Your Baby Sleep BEFORE Sleep Training

Formal sleep training should not happen before your baby is 4 months old, in fact, the ideal time is between 4 and 6 months old.

However, there are many things you can do to ease your sleep training process or to avoid it completely by developing certain routines, even before sleep training can take place, while your baby is younger than 4 months old:

  1. Early Bedtime: pick a time, between 5:30pm and 7:00pm, that you will consider bedtime. From that time on, keep you baby in the nursery, with the lights down, no noises, no playing, just soothing activities or sleeping. You want to teach your child the difference between day and night as soon as possible, and you want her to learn that night is a time to relax and sleep.
  2. Bedtime Routine: develop a consistent bedtime routine that involves soothing and calming activities. Remember to keep it short and to be consistent with it. Your baby will associate this routine leads to night time sleep.
  3. Drowsy but Awake: try to put your baby down on her crib when she’s drowsy but awake. Avoid letting her fall asleep in your arms or while nursing.
  4. No ‘External’ Soothers: try to keep the external input that your baby gets to fall asleep to a minimum. The goal is to help your baby learn to sleep on her own, and fall back asleep on her own if she wakes up in the middle of the night. So, try not to make her dependant on things/rituals she won’t be able to have without your help. Try to avoid mobiles, pacifiers, rocking, bouncing, bottle/breast… unless it’s bsolutely necessary.
  5. Know your Baby: keep a log of your baby’s feeding times, bowel movements, sleeping times and mood. The goal is for you to understand your baby’s biorythm, and to learn to identify your baby’s clues.  This will be unvaluable information that you’ll use during the sleep training process.
  6. Consistent Schedule: This is a hard one, especially at the begining; but try to be somewhat consistent with your baby’s schedule, it’s particularly important to help her develop consistent waking time, bedtime and feeding times.
  7. Let your Baby Sleep: It sounds simple, but it usually isn’t so. Newborns need to sleep many hours a day, sometimes as much as 20. Do not feel obligated to have your baby awake because you have visitors, do not disturb your baby’s sleep because you have company, do not try to keep your baby awake so you can play with her a little longer. Babies need sleep to develop and grow properly, let it happen from the begining.

If you follow these routines from the begining, your sleep training process will much easier whenever it takes place.

Sweet dreams, Diana-

Healthy Sleep Habits for Children

There are many things that we, parents, can do to help our children fall asleep easier and sooner, stay asleep and have healthy sleep habits.

These are basic and simple things that will help with this:

  • Consistent daily routine – Keep to a regular daily routine— waking time, meal times, nap times, play times, TV time… will help your child to feel secure, relaxed and comfortable, and help with a smooth bedtime.  Children like to know what to expect, and not have the stress of wondering what’s going to happen next.
  • Exercise and fresh air – Make sure your child has interesting, stimulating and varied activities during the day, including physical activity and fresh air; so she can burn up energy, exercise her body and mind, and be looking forward the wind down time at night.
  • Consistent sleep schedule – We have said this many times. It is essential for your child to have a clear and consistent schedule. Her wake up time and bed time should be the same every day, regardless of the circumstances (weekend, holidays…). We don’t expect you to have a set time (ie. 7:14am), but you should have a clear window, 10 minutes up or down and be consistent. Therefore, if your bedtime is 7pm, sometimes your child might go to bed at 6:50pm and others at 7:10pm, but that’s all the wiggle you should allow.
  • Loving bedtime routine and wind down time – Plan quiet time before bedtime every night for approximately 30-60 minutes. This means that the activities take place 1 hour before bedtime should be calming, and enjoyable. This might include: taking a bath, getting a massage, listening to quiet music, reading a book, singing lullabies… Try to be consistent with your bedtime routine. This quiet time activity need not all take place in the child’s bedroom but it should culminate there such that the last 10-15 minutes are in the bedroom where the child will sleep. The bedtime routine should be a time for you to interact with your child in a way that is secure and loving, yet firm. Spend some special time with your child, let them know you love her and you are going to be there for her. Please, avoid TV watching, homework, video game playing and other exciting activities. Never use sending your child to bed as a threat. Bedtime needs to be a secure, loving time, not a punishment.  Your goal is to teach your kids that bedtime is enjoyable, just as it is for us adults.  If the feeling around bedtime is a good feeling, your child will fall asleep easier.
  • Appropriately full stomach – You should guarantee that your child has a heavy dinner, at least 1 hour before going to bed, so she will not wake up hungry in the middle of the night. You can also provide a light snack or cup of milk right before bedtime (remember to brush their teeth after this). Eating too much right before bedtime or much earlier might interfere with your child’s sleep quality.
  • Sleep-friendly bedroom – Your child’s bedroom should be quiet, safe (baby proofed, no cords, hard corners, accessible electric outlets, no loose sheets…), secure (allow for security blankets if your child needs them, display a picture of the family…), adequate temperature (68° F – 75° F), happy (bedroom should not be used for super exciting activities or for time outs, in order to avoid bad sleep associations, however, it should be used for calming, enjoyable activities besides sleeping), and dark (a nightlight is acceptable for children afraid of a dark, but make sure it’s not too bright).

Remember, consistency, calmness, trust and reassurance are essential in helping your child become an independent sleeper.

Much love, Diana-

Sleep Needs By Age

Sleep is probably the most discussed aspect of baby care. As we mentioned in a previous post, sleep is essential for babies and children’s development. The quality and quantity of a child’s sleep has a direct impact in his growth, development, awareness, happiness and overall wellbeing.

Many of you have written us asking about how many hours of sleep children and babies need. This is a general guide, every child is different and certain developmental milestones and personal and family-related circumstances might influence the amount of sleep they need.

Age Total Sleep Hours Comments
Day-Naps Night Total
0 – 1 Month 5 – 7 10 – 13 15 – 18 §   Preemies may need more sleep.

§   Newborns usually wake up every 2.5 to 4 hours; since that’s the longest their tummies can go between feedings. Therefore, do not expect newborns to sleep those 10 hours straight at night.

§   Newborns sleep most of the day, so ‘naps’ are not really so. They happen often and not necessarily at the same time every day.

2 – 4 Months 4 – 5 10 – 12 14 – 16 §   A more regular sleeping pattern usually emerges around the 2nd or 3rd month of life.

§   The longest sleep periods are from 4 to 8 hours.

§   Naps are usually 3 (morning, midday and afternoon).

§   Between 3 and 4 months of age, formal sleep training can begin.

§   Establishing healthy sleep habits is a primary goal during this time.

5 – 6 Months 4 – 5 10 – 12 14 – 16 §   The longest sleep periods could last 10 to 12 hours at night.

§   Naps decrease from 3 to 2 and increase in length.

§   Establishing healthy sleep habits is also a primary goal during this time.

7 – 9 Months 2 – 4 12 – 13 14 – 15 §   The longest sleep periods could last 10 to 12 hours at night.

§   Naps are 2 per day.

9 – 12 Months 2 – 4 12 – 13 14 – 15 §   The longest sleep periods could last 10 to 12 hours at night.

§   Naps are 2 per day, and one of them starts to shorten.

13 – 18 Months 2 – 3 11 – 12 13 – 14 §   Some children lose their morning nap during this period.
19 Months – 2 Years 2 – 3 10 – 12 12 – 14 §   Children lose their morning nap if they haven’t done so yet.
2 – 3 Years 0 – 2 11 – 13 11 – 13 §   Most children drop their final nap by the time they are 3 years old.
3 – 5 Years 0 – 1 11 – 12 11 – 12 §   Children usually transition from their cribs to a toddler bed at around 3 years old if they haven’t done so. Remember to be patient and know that some sleep re-training might be needed due to this change.

§   Remember to maintain a clear bedtime routine.

5 – 11 Years 0 10 – 12 10 – 12 §   Children should continue with their healthy sleep habits.

§   Bedtime routine has probably evolved, but must still be present; children still need a wind down time.

§   Do not bring a TV into your children’s bedroom, do not allow them to fall asleep with the lights on, do not allow them to play with the computer right before bedtime.

12 – 18 Years 0 8 – 10 8 – 10 §   Sleep is as essential for teenagers as it was when they were children.

Sources: Smooth Parenting research and experience working with families; WebMD; American Association of Pediatrics; Gina Ford’s Books; Dr. Weissbluth’s Books.

Never Hit a Child

At Smooth Parenting, we do not approve physical punishment of children of any sort under any circumstances. No spanking, no hitting, no paddling, no shaking, no banging… No physical punishment, please!

Dr. Sears’ team wrote a fantastic piece about why you shouldn’t spank your child. If you think spanking works or is granted some times, if you do spank your children, if you allow teachers to spank or paddle them, if you believe physical punishments work… please read this, and then ask yourself is spanking is really working, believe me, your answer is ‘no’, no matter what you tell to yourself in the moment, what you’ve learned from your parents; the answer to ‘Does spanking work?’ is always ‘NO’.

If you don’t believe in spanking, please, read it too; so you’ll have more arguments based on actual medical research to use when you discuss this issue with other parents.

Source: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/6/T062100.asp

1. HITTING MODELS HITTING

Children love to imitate, especially people whom they love and respect. They perceive that it’s okay for them to do whatever you do. Parents, remember, you are bringing up someone else’s mother or father, and wife or husband. The same discipline techniques you employ with your children are the ones they are most likely to carry on in their own parenting. The family is a training camp for teaching children how to handle conflicts. Studies show that children from spanking families are more likely to use aggression to handle conflicts when they become adults.

Spanking demonstrates that it’s all right for people to hit people, and especially for big people to hit little people, and stronger people to hit weaker people. Children learn that when you have a problem you solve it with a good swat. A child whose behavior is controlled by spanking is likely to carry on this mode of interaction into other relationships with siblings and peers, and eventually a spouse and offspring.

But, you say, “I don’t spank my child that often or that hard. Most of the time I show him lots of love and gentleness. An occasional swat on the bottom won’t bother him.” This rationalization holds true for some children, but other children remember spanking messages more than nurturing ones. You may have a hug-hit ratio of 100:1 in your home, but you run the risk of your child remembering and being influenced more by the one hit than the 100 hugs, especially if that hit was delivered in anger or unjustly, which happens all too often.

Physical punishment shows that it’s all right to vent your anger or right a wrong by hitting other people. This is why the parent’s attitude during the spanking leaves as great an impression as the swat itself. How to control one’s angry impulses (swat control) is one of the things you are trying to teach your children. Spanking sabotages this teaching. Spanking guidelines usually give the warning to never spank in anger. If this guideline were to be faithfully observed 99 percent of spanking wouldn’t occur, because once the parent has calmed down he or she can come up with a more appropriate method of correction.

2. HITTING DEVALUES THE CHILD

The child’s self-image begins with how he perceives that others – especially his parents – perceive him. Even in the most loving homes, spanking gives a confusing message, especially to a child too young to understand the reason for the whack. Parents spend a lot of time building up their baby or child’s sense of being valued, helping the child feel “good.” Then the child breaks a glass, you spank, and he feels, “I must be bad.”

Even a guilt-relieving hug from a parent after a spank doesn’t remove the sting. The child is likely to feel the hit, inside and out, long after the hug. Most children put in this situation will hug to ask for mercy. “If I hug him, daddy will stop hitting me.” When spanking is repeated over and over, one message is driven home to the child, “You are weak and defenseless.”

SLAPPING HANDS How tempting it is to slap those daring little hands! Many parents do it without thinking, but consider the consequences. Maria Montessori, one of the earliest opponents of slapping children’s hands, believed that children’s hands are tools for exploring, an extension of the child’s natural curiosity. Slapping them sends a powerful negative message. Sensitive parents we have interviewed all agree that the hands should be off-limits for physical punishment. Research supports this idea. Psychologists studied a group of sixteen fourteen-month-olds playing with their mothers. When one group of toddlers tried to grab a forbidden object, they received a slap on the hand; the other group of toddlers did not receive physical punishment. In follow-up studies of these children seven months later, the punished babies were found to be less skilled at exploring their environment. Better to separate the child from the object or supervise his exploration and leave little hands unhurt.

3. HITTING DEVALUES THE PARENT

Parents who spank-control or otherwise abusively punish their children often feel devalued themselves because deep down they don’t feel right about their way of discipline. Often they spank (or yell) in desperation because they don’t know what else to do, but afterward feel more powerless when they find it doesn’t work. As one mother who dropped spanking from her correction list put it, “I won the battle, but lost the war. My child now fears me, and I feel I’ve lost something precious.”

Spanking also devalues the role of a parent. Being an authority figure means you are trusted and respected, but not feared. Lasting authority cannot be based on fear. Parents or other caregivers who repeatedly use spanking to control children enter into a lose-lose situation. Not only does the child lose respect for the parent, but the parents also lose out because they develop a spanking mindset and have fewer alternatives to spanking. The parent has fewer preplanned, experience-tested strategies to divert potential behavior, so the child misbehaves more, which calls for more spanking. This child is not being taught to develop inner control.

Hitting devalues the parent-child relationship. Corporal punishment puts a distance between the spanker and the spankee. This distance is especially troubling in home situations where the parent-child relationship may already be strained, such as single-parent homes or blended families. While some children are forgivingly resilient and bounce back without a negative impression on mind or body, for others it’s hard to love the hand that hits them.

4. HITTING MAY LEAD TO ABUSE

Punishment escalates. Once you begin punishing a child “a little bit,” where do you stop? A toddler reaches for a forbidden glass. You tap the hand as a reminder not to touch. He reaches again, you swat the hand. After withdrawing his hand briefly, he once again grabs grandmother’s valuable vase. You hit the hand harder. You’ve begun a game no one can win. The issue then becomes who’s stronger—your child’s will or your hand—not the problem of touching the vase. What do you do now? Hit harder and harder until the child’s hand is so sore he can’t possibly continue to “disobey?” The danger of beginning corporal punishment in the first place is that you may feel you have to bring out bigger guns: your hand becomes a fist, the switch becomes a belt, the folded newspaper becomes a wooden spoon, and now what began as seemingly innocent escalates into child abuse. Punishment sets the stage for child abuse. Parents who are programmed to punish set themselves up for punishing harder, mainly because they have not learned alternatives and click immediately into the punishment mode when their child misbehaves.

5. HITTING DOES NOT IMPROVE BEHAVIOR

Many times we have heard parents say, “The more we spank the more he misbehaves.” Spanking makes a child’s behavior worse, not better. Here’s why. Remember the basis for promoting desirable behavior: The child who feels right acts right. Spanking undermines this principle. A child who is hit feels wrong inside and this shows up in his behavior. The more he misbehaves, the more he gets spanked and the worse he feels. The cycle continues. We want the child to know that he did wrong, and to feel remorse, but to still believe that he is a person who has value.

The Cycle of Misbehavior: Misbehavior Worse behavior Spanking Decreased self-esteem, anger

One of the goals of disciplinary action is to stop the misbehavior immediately, and spanking may do that. It is more important to create the conviction within the child that he doesn’t want to repeat the misbehavior (i.e, internal rather than external control). One of the reasons for the ineffectiveness of spanking in creating internal controls is that during and immediately after the spanking, the child is so preoccupied with the perceived injustice of the physical punishment (or maybe the degree of it he’s getting) that he “forgets” the reason for which he was spanked. Sitting down with him and talking after the spanking to be sure he’s aware of what he did can be done just as well (if not better) without the spanking part. Alternatives to spanking can be much more thought-and-conscience-provoking for a child, but they may take more time and energy from the parent. This brings up a main reason why some parents lean toward spanking—it’s easier.

6. HITTING IS ACTUALLY NOT BIBLICAL

Don’t use the Bible as an excuse to spank. There is confusion in the ranks of people of Judeo-Christian heritage who, seeking help from the Bible in their effort to raise godly children, believe that God commands them to spank. They take “spare the rod and spoil the child” seriously and fear that if they don’t spank, they will commit the sin of losing control of their child. In our counseling experience, we find that these people are devoted parents who love God and love their children, but they misunderstand the concept of the rod. Nowhere in the Bible does it say you must spank your child to be a godly parent.

7. HITTING PROMOTES ANGER – IN CHILDREN AND IN PARENTS

Children often perceive punishment as unfair. They are more likely to rebel against corporal punishment than against other disciplinary techniques. Children do not think rationally like adults, but they do have an innate sense of fairness—though their standards are not the same as adults. This can prevent punishment from working as you hoped it would and can contribute to an angry child. Oftentimes, the sense of unfairness escalates to a feeling of humiliation. When punishment humiliates children they either rebel or withdraw. While spanking may appear to make the child afraid to repeat the misbehavior, it is more likely to make the child fear the spanker.

In our experience, and that of many who have thoroughly researched corporal punishment, children whose behaviors are spank-controlled throughout infancy and childhood may appear outwardly compliant, but inside they are seething with anger. They feel that their personhood has been violated, and they detach themselves from a world they perceive has been unfair to them. They find it difficult to trust, becoming insensitive to a world that has been insensitive to them.

Parents who examine their feelings after spanking often realize that all they have accomplished is to relieve themselves of anger. This impulsive release of anger often becomes addicting—perpetuating a cycle of ineffective discipline. We have found that the best way to prevent ourselves from acting on the impulse to spank is to instill in ourselves two convictions: 1. That we will not spank our children. 2. That we will discipline them. Since we have decided that spanking is not an option, we must seek out better alternatives.

8. HITTING BRINGS BACK BAD MEMORIES

A child’s memories of being spanked can scar otherwise joyful scenes of growing up. People are more likely to recall traumatic events than pleasant ones. I grew up in a very nurturing home, but I was occasionally and “deservedly” spanked. I vividly remember the willow branch scenes. After my wrongdoing my grandfather would send me to my room and tell me I was going to receive a spanking. I remember looking out the window, seeing him walk across the lawn and take a willow branch from the tree and come back to my room and spank me across the back of my thighs with the branch. The willow branch seemed to be an effective spanking tool because it stung and made an impression upon me— physically and mentally. Although I remember growing up in a loving home, I don’t remember specific happy scenes with nearly as much detail as I remember the spanking scenes. I have always thought that one of our goals as parents is to fill our children’s memory bank with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pleasant scenes. It’s amazing how the unpleasant memories of spankings can block out those positive memories.

10. SPANKING DOESN’T WORK

Many studies show the futility of spanking as a disciplinary technique, but none show its usefulness. In the past thirty years in pediatric practice, we have observed thousands of families who have tried spanking and found it doesn’t work. Our general impression is that parents spank less as their experience increases. Spanking doesn’t work for the child, for the parents, or for society. Spanking does not promote good behavior, it creates a distance between parent and child, and it contributes to a violent society.

Parents who rely on punishment as their primary mode of discipline don’t grow in their knowledge of their child. It keeps them from creating better alternatives, which would help them to know their child and build a better relationship. In the process of raising our own eight children, we have also concluded that spanking doesn’t work. We found ourselves spanking less and less as our experience and the number of children increased. In our home, we have programmed ourselves against spanking and are committed to creating an attitude within our children, and an atmosphere within our home, that renders spanking unnecessary. Since spanking is not an option, we have been forced to come up with better alternatives. This has not only made us better parents, but in the long run we believe it has created more sensitive and well-behaved children.

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The evidence against spanking is overwhelming. Hundreds of studies all come to the same conclusions:

1. The more physical punishment a child receives, the more aggressive he or she will become.

2. The more children are spanked, the more likely they will be abusive toward their own children.

3. Spanking plants seeds for later violent behavior.

4. Spanking doesn’t work.

5. Spanking is associated with lower IQ’s.

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Please, DO NOT hit your children! Do not be permissive, use positive discipline, love, establish clear boundaries and rules and be consistent.

Much love, Diana-

Schedules and Children

“Children thrive on schedules”

That’s not just a statement or our opinion, it’s a fact! Children do develop better, grow better, behave better… when they know what to expect from their days, when a routine (this doesn’t mean it has to be boring!) is in place for them to follow. Additionally, once they have a set schedule, parents will be able to better plan and organize their day and will be able to get more things done for themselves.

Here are some tips on how to get your baby/child on a schedule:

  1. Know that each baby/child is different. There are basic principles that work with every child (ie. children thrive on schedules). However, each child is different and what might work for one, might not work for other. Parenting should be somehow customized and adapted to every child.
  2. Start as soon as possible. Once you get home from the hospital with your baby take the time to study his  clues. At the very beginning, you’ll notice that your baby spends his day sleeping, feeding, peeing and pooping, and back again to sleeping, feeding… During the first week, you can start noticing when and how often your baby needs to be fed, needs to sleep, needs a diaper change… Once you have a rough idea, you can define a first schedule that’d work for you and your baby.
  3. Set a bedtime. According to most sleep experts an early bedtime is essential. Make sure you set a bedtime and stick to it. Regardless of whether your child is already sleep trained or not, is still feeding over the night or not, you should have a time in mind at which ‘night’ starts for your little one.
  4. Bedtime routine. We can’t emphasises how important this is. The bedtime routine can be however you want it to be, as long as it is relatively short, consistent every night, includes a wind down time and shows your child that the night is here and it’s time to sleep. Your children should understand the difference between day and night as soon as possible, and your bedtime routine is essential to achieve this.
  5. Be flexible. Realize that your baby will change enormously over the first months of his life, so your initial schedule will evolve into a new schedule within the first month, then again after another month and so on. This is due to several factors: (1) Babies soon begin to stay awake longer, (2) the amount of their feedings will increase, as the number of feedings decreases, (3) some feedings will be dropped, (4) sleep training will take place (sleeping through the night will come), (5) new foods will be introduced… Between 6 and 12 months it should be much more stable, and the changes to it would be minor (ie. pushing bedtime 15 minutes early).
  6. Be consistent. Once you decide on a schedule, or any other parenting issue, be consistent, don’t doubt yourself and keep at it.
  7. Keep track. You don’t need to write everything that goes on with your child, but it’d certainly will help you to take notes about feedings, sleeping patterns, bowel movements, behavior changes…
  8. Seek help if you need it. This issue will probably need a post on its own. Parents are not used to ask for advice or help, even when we are drowning, exhausted and at our wits ends. If you feel overwhelmed, or feel like nothing is working, seek help! Join support groups, read books, meet other parents, hire a sitter, ask a family member of friend to come help, hire a parenting coach or sleep consultant, talk to your pediatrician… Do whatever you need to do to feel that you’re in control again and that you are being the parent that you’ve always wanted to be, raising a happy, healthy, well-adjusted child.

The result of implementing a good schedule that works for you and your child will be a more peaceful, less chaotic and more harmonious home; where your children and you will be able to thrive as individuals and as members of a family unit.

Much love, Diana-

March of Dimes – Support Needed

Smooth Parenting is a proud sponsor of March of Dimes. This year, we are sponsoring a preemie, twin mom, who is one of our best coaches.

Please help her reach her goal and help children get the best start in life! Any donation will make a difference in a child’s life!

Memorabilia & Keepsakes

Usually, there are basically two distinct types of parents when it comes to memorabilia and keepsakes:  the tossers and the hoarders. As it always happens with extremes, none of it is good.

You don’t want to miss the opportunity to save something that might be priceless in the future, but you don’t want to dedicate hours and hours a week preparing keepsakes,scrapbooking and missing those precious moments with your children that you’ll remember forever.

We prepared a list of things that are easily done and will make of a great ‘memory book’ for your children:

  • Summary of Milestones and Personality: At the end of each month, trimester, year… write down a couple of milestones your child reached during that time. (ie. walked, started preschool, learned how to read, rolled over…). Remember to also add a couple of lines describing your child’s personality, favorite toys, games, friends. You’ll see your child grow and mature through these simple annual summaries.
  • Foot & Hand Prints: When he/she is born and at the end of each year, take your child’s foot and hand prints.
  • Measures: Measure your child every year. It’d be good to have a wall growth chart and measure them at the same spot each year. If you can, take a picture of the measuring session. It’s also a good idea to photograph them next to a toy, chest, box, bag… , and see how the grow compared to it every year.
  • Audio and Video Memory: At least once a year record your children, walking talking… it doesn’t have to be anything special; just regular day-to-dayinteraction with your child.
  • Pictures: take at least one front picture of your child, smiling, every year. Try to also take a picture of her/him with siblings and parents. If you have an extended family, try to also take a picture when your child meets them.
  • Albums: at the end of each year make time to pick 12 – 20 – 50 photos of the year and make an album. It doesn’t have to be anything really extensive. If you have time, try to write a sentence or paragraph to your child to sum up the year, words of wisdom, your feelings, something you want to share… anything!  You can even attach the ‘summary’ mentioned above to this album, so you’ll keep everything in one place. Once they get older, they can help you pick the photos that will go in the album, and they can even write something themselves.
  • Keepsakes: keep between 1 and 5 small things a year as keepsakes, it can be anything from her/his first toothbrush, favorite rattle, first onesie… Try not to keep more than 5 items though; otherwise you’ll need a full closet just for keepsakes after a couple of years.

Remember that all these things are important and you and your child will value them even more in the future, but ‘being present’ and enjoying your child is much more important than any of this. Do as you can, don’t stress over it, have fun while you’re creating this memories and involve your child as much as you can.

Much love, Diana-