5 Ways to Stop Being a Toxic Critical Parent

After my last two posts, you might have realized that you are more critical than you would like with your child. No need to go into instant panic mode if you’ve caught yourself being overly critical, but it is time to change your ways. Experts say that the negative impact on wellbeing that overly critical parents have, is comparable in scale to that observed in people who have suffered a bereavement. Thankfully, We can overcome our natural tendencies and break the cycle.

1. Awareness

You’re probably the last to know whether you’re an overly critical person. If someone says you’re too critical, you probably are. The first step to change our ways to be aware that we need to change. Go back to my previous post and check yourself.

2. Listening

There is no better cure for constant criticism than patient and respectful listening. Listening to our children doesn’t mean we have to agree with what they’re saying, or that we have to give in to all of their demands. It just means that we make a sincere effort to understand their point of view, and to acknowledge their feelings and perspective.

If you find yourself constantly repeating things, and frustrated because your child doesn’t listen; check how you’re modeling what listening is.

 

3. Avoid Overreacting and Creating Mountains Out Of Molehills

Before opening your mouth to criticize or point out something wrong about your child, stop and question yourself. Is that really a necessary, useful, constructive and uplifting feedback? If the answer is no, learn to put things in perspective and let things slide every once in a while.

Strike a balance between being in charge and letting your child have freedom. Even if you don’t like the mismatched socks or the messy playroom, swallow your criticism and give your child space to learn from his mistakes and become the person he’s meant to be.

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4. Describe Behavior, Not The Child

When there’s really a behavior that needs to be addressed, show respect to your child and focus on the negative behavior rather than speaking negatively about your child. By focusing on behavior, you can help your child see her actions as something she needs to work on rather than questioning her self-worth.

Of course, avoid any kind of insults and character assassination. As you know, our words become our child’s inner voice. We want that inner voice to be positive and empowering, not critical and destructive.

Finally, avoid making generalizations. When correcting your child, describe the specific situation. Instead of “you never listen,” try “you did not listen to me now when I asked you to empty your backpack.” That way, your child understand that there’s something specific they can work on and change. Whereas if it’s something they ‘always’ do, they will assume it’s part of their character and will feel less capable of changing it.

 

5. Give 5 Positive Comments For Every Negative One

Like Dr. Phil says “It takes 1,000 ‘atta boys’ to erase one ‘you’re an idiot.” Make it a rule for yourself to make sure you give 5 positive comments to your child for every negative one. At the beginning it’ll be difficult to focus on the positive and embrace your child as she is, but the more you do it, the easier it will be.

Make your praise and positive comments as descriptive as possible. Avoid using empty or vague comments such as “Great job” or “Good girl.” Instead describe what they’ve done that you felt needed to be note “You were very loving when you helped your sister climb up the stairs,” or “You did a tremendous job cleaning up your toys after your playdate.”

Try to make you statements about them, not about you. Notice I didn’t say “I like how you cleaned up your toys,” but “You did a tremendous job cleaning up your toys.” There’s no condition for my liking them. The idea here is to help your child develop a sense of internal evaluation, allowing them to take responsibility for their actions and pride in their achievements.

Let’s all work on being less critical to our children!

Much love, Diana-

Effects On Children Of Constant Criticism

As parents, we often tell ourselves, that our criticism, of course, is well-intentioned. We criticize because…

  • We are anxious about our child’s future
  • We want them to be their best selves
  • We want them to reach their potential (whatever that means in our head)
  • We want the best for him
  • We want them to have a great life and career
  • We are setting high standards for their lives
  • We know better
  • ….

We wholeheartedly believe that of our criticism is constructive. We might even think it is not criticism at all, but rather necessary nagging and well-intentioned, unsolicited advice. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

As I very well know first hand, children raised by an overly critical parent often suffer from long-term negative effects from this type of childhood. These are some of the many negative effects that constant criticism has on children. When frequent criticism persists, all efforts to improve our family dynamics will surely fail.

1.Damaged Self-Esteem and Low Confidence

Children of overly critical parents will spend most of their lives wondering what’s wrong with them and why they can’t seem to do anything right. They will not be able to understand that the problem lies within the parent, and will believe it lies within themselves. They will be left with the constant and uncomfortable feeling that there’s something fundamentally wrong with them.

They will become overly critical of themselves, because their inner image is damaged. They will have a constant inner critic ready to tell them all that’s wrong with them. This will lead to a very low self esteem, low self-confidence and a feeling of worthlessness.

2. Damaged Parent-Child Relationship

Children of an overly critical parent will often grow up to resent that parent. Children will certainly tend to distant from us when we display this behavior. Being constantly criticized will make them not want to be with us, not trust us, and not want to share anything with us. They know that regardless of what they share, they will be criticized or questioned, we will find something wrong with them, and they will be made to feel inadequate.

Who would want to have a relationship with someone who makes them feel that way? Not me! The problem is that children can’t really escape from this relationship until they reach adulthood, so they have a sense of being trapped. Additionally, they love us, with all their heart, so their feelings make them feel even more insecure and inadequate, because they realize they love a person who’s inflicting pain on them.

Constant criticism will most likely lead to anger and defiance, or secretiveness and withdrawal; which will then lead to even more criticism then more defiance or withdrawal, and so on. This cycle will repeat itself over and over again, creating a completely toxic relationship.

 

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3. Long-Term Mental Health Issues

As I very well know for personal experience, an overly critical parent can create an anxious or depressed grown up. Unfortunately the effects constant childhood criticism  don’t stop at childhood. The effects often carry through into adulthood, often requiring therapy to heal the inner child and stop the destructive inner voice created during our childhood.

Children of overly critical parents, spend their adulthood trying to be “perfect” while fully believing they never will be; trying to figure out what’s wrong with them; wondering whether anyone will ever love them just the way they are; and questioning and testing anyone who dares to do so. Therefore, they will spend a big part of their adult life trying to recover from their damaged childhood.

4. Self-Sabotage, Addiction and Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

According to many studies, children with overly critical parents are more likely to fall into addition patterns as they get older. Addition can be in the form of illegal drugs, alcohol, obsession with physical appearance, sex or food among other things.

In my case, food was my go-to drug. Whenever I felt inadequate, which was most of the time, I would turn to food to soothe and calm my inner child. This obviously led to obesity and other health problems, that I have slowly overcame. The road to recovery from this type of childhood is difficult and never ending.

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Those of us who were raised in an overly critical environment are more prone to repeat the cycle, because we don’t know how to express love to our child in a different way; because we are trained to focused our attention in the negative things; and because we still try to fix ourselves.
This is one of the reasons why I became so interested in positive and conscious parenting. I don not want my daughters to go through what I went thought. I don’t want them to have a happy life despite their childhood, I want them to have a happy life and be well-adjusted adults because of their childhood.
Were you raised by an overly critical parent? Do you see yourself suffering from any of these long term effects? I hope if you do, you are on the road to recovery, and I applaud you for doing all you can to better yourself for your own sake and the sake of your children.
Much love, Diana-

 

Are You An Overly Critical Parent?

I was raised with parents who tended to be more critical than encouraging.  Most of us who have grown up with overly critical parents are left constantly wondering if anything we do will be good enough to please them, and what’s worse, whether we are good enough. Parenting is the most difficult job on earth if done correctly, and most overly critical parents don’t want to hurt their children. Usually, these parents have the best intentions, but their delivery is extremely toxic to their children. Constant criticism can cause some serious damage to a child’s mental health.

Even if you didn’t have overly critical parents, I am sure you have experienced the demoralizing effect of frequent criticism from a boss, from a friend, or from your spouse. Despite our first hand experience with criticism, we still often fail to consider the toxic effect of criticism in our relationship with our children.

 

What is An Overly Critical Parent?

An overly critical parent is never satisfied with how his child is, how his child behaves, how his child feels, how his child looks, or what his child wants. That alone is sad and damaging enough, however, the worst part about it is that a critical parent doesn’t keep these feelings to himself. Instead, he lets her child know exactly what he doesn’t like or what he’s doing wrong.

Critical parents usually believe their way is the right and only way to do things. Therefore when the child doesn’t perform exactly as the parent expected, criticism and corrections will shower the child.

It doesn’t, however, mean that there are no rules. Some people of the positive parenting persuasion take things too far and allow their kids to basically do whatever they want. To literally make allof their own choices. They see “respect” as avoiding confrontation or anything that might make their child upset. But there is nothing respectful about having no boundaries. Part of being a parent is giving kids structure in the form of rules and expectations and understanding that those things are beneficial to them. It’s how we set up those rules and enforce them that makes the difference.

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Overly critical parents tend to spend almost no time praising their child’s positive qualities. Most of the attention that an overly critical parent gives to his child is negative and detrimental. If it goes too far, it can (and often does) turn into emotional and verbal abuse. Children raised by an overly critical parent often have long-term negative effects from this type of childhood.

Since I was raised by an overly critical parent, my natural tendency is that. If I let myself go, I would be constantly criticizing my daughters. My natural predisposition is to focus on the negative, to focus on what’s wrong instead of what’s right. In my mind, I’m still constantly criticizing myself, but I do stop myself before do it to my daughters most of the time. However, there’s much room for improvement.

Are you an overly critical parent? What traits do you have?

Much love,  Diana-

 

My child doesn’t listen!

Do you repeat the same thing over and over again without response? Are you frustrated because your child doesn’t listen to you?

If your answer is ‘yes’, you’re not alone! Those are some of the most common complaints I hear from parents during my private consultations; and whenever I hear that, two questions always come to my mind:

1. What do we really mean by ‘listening’?

Is it a synonym of ‘obeying’? More often than not, when parents complain about their children not listening, what they really mean is that their children do not drop whatever it is they’re doing, right the second the parent asks them to do something.

Therefore, the issue is not so much about ‘listening’ as it is about ‘compliance and obedience.’ I believe in parenting with love and respect, and ‘obedience’ does not fit into this definition. The same way I wouldn’t expect my spouse or any other adult to blindly obey what I say, I don’t expect that from my daughters either. Obedience, in my book, is NOT the epitome of good parenting.

As Alphie Kohn points out in his book ‘Unconditional Parenting’ that when parents are asked what their long term goals for their children are, they say they want their kids to be ethical, compassionate, independent, happy, accomplished, self-confident, etc. No parent says they want their children to grow up into obedient adults. I certainly do not want my daughters to grow up to be compliant women, I want them to question authority, to have their own opinions, to make their own decisions (and their own mistakes), to be creative… and to not mindlessly obey anybody (not even me!).

Most of what we see as disobedience in our children is either natural, curious, discovering, learning, developmentally appropriate behavior; a way of letting you know that one of their needs is not being met; or a reaction to a situation in which they do not feel comfortable or safe with, or have no control over.

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The need for children’s obedience that many parents have is usually associated with parents’ fear that…

  • the child will grow up to be a rebellious, sociopath, anarchist monster. This terrible view of humane nature is not based on any empirical evidence.
  • they will be misunderstood by their peers and by family. After all, most people still believe a good child is an obedient child.
  • their child will have trouble at school with her teachers. Many teachers are still not open to the idea of having their students questioning their lessons.

Forcing children into blind obedience has terrible consequences. Children might not learn to think for themselves and will always value their parents’ (or other authoritative figure’s) voice over their own. They might not learn how to make their own decisions. They might be pushed around and manipulated by their peers.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating permissive parenting, I am not arguing that children can be disrespectful and have no limits, I am not suggesting that children can do as they please whenever they want. I am proposing a way of parenting that is based on mutual respect, love and cooperation; and that will eliminate the power struggles between the parent and the child and will allow the child to turn into an independent, confident and mindful adult.

 

2. How well do we listen to our children?

As with many other issues in parenting, the way our children do something tends to be a direct reflection of how we do that same thing. What does this mean? It means that in order to get your child to listen, you first have to listen to her. If they feel listened to, they will be more inclined to listen to you. It is that simple and that complicated!

We are giving our children the best example of what listening is all about. We are modeling a certain way of listening and communicating for them. How do you listen when your child talks to you? How do you usually respond when your child talks to you or asks you to do something for her (read a book, tell a story, play on the floor, go see a bug…)? Is your common response any of these…?

  • Delay request (i.e. ‘Just a minute,’ ‘I can’t right now, I doing something else’)
  • Casual nod, but no eye-to-eye connection (i.e. ‘Umm’)
  • Uninterested response while you’re still looking at your cellphone (i.e. ‘I see’)
  • No response, just ignore and go on with what you’re doing
  • Repeated (and not very uplifting) lecture (i.e. ‘I told you many times not to…,’ ‘That happened because you….’)
  • Constant interruptions
  • Frequent commands
  • Response before they are done talking

Ignoring

As parents we often create communication problems with our children, because we don’t really listen to what they are saying. Whenever we don’t listen to our children, they notice. Not listening does not only mean that we are not hearing what they are saying, it also means that we are not plugged in with what they are trying to tell us. We make assumptions about what they are trying to say, we draw conclusions without making sure we understood the message. We talk too much or launch into lectures.

The best way I know to get children to listen is to listening to them first. Listening intently, listening with interest, listening making sure we ‘get’ what they are saying, listening making sure we understand what’s not being said, and listening making sure our children know they are loved, always and that we are listening.

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Parenting is a journey in which we have the opportunity to learn about ourselves, about our children and about human nature. Parenting is the best journey towards self-understanding, personal improvement, mindfulness and consciousness.

Let’s love the ride!

Much love, Diana-

 

April Parenting Resolution: Respect

It is always easier to lose our temper when we are tired, stressed, trying to figure out what to do, improvising what to do each day, and completely disconnected from our kids. Therefore, now that we are taking care of ourselves and our relationships, we have re-connected with our kids and know how to love on them a little bit better, and we have established good routines that work for our family, we can start focusing more on modeling good behavior. Good behavior has its roots in respect, it all begins with respect.

The overarching theme is a respect for children, and treating them with the same importance and positive regard as I would want to be treated.

One of the most important aspects of respectful parenting is treating children like people. Our children are whole people from the moment they are born, deserving of the same respect as anyone else.

Unfortunately, in our society, children are not often treated with enough respect. They are often seen as inferior to adults. Respecting our children means not to treat them in ways that would be offensive if done to an adult. That means they shouldn’t be yelled at, grabbed, disregarded, belittled, hit, insulted, manipulated…

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Children are unique people with unique personalities, unique likes and dislikes, unique preferences, and unique points of view that we should respect. Respecting our children means controlling our impulse to lose it when they act like the immature little human beings that they are, to listen to what they have to say and to take their perspectives into consideration.

Respecting our children is not forcing them into blind compliance, but meeting them where they are and leading them with gentle guidance in the direction we want them to go, just the way we would do with an adult.

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The heart of respectful parenting is following the Golden Rule and treating your kids the way you’d want to be treated — if you were a kid.

When we treat our kids with respect, we open paths of communication and build a relationship built on trust. I would consider myself a pretty respectful parent, but there are times when I lose it or when I give my daughters orders without acknowledging their point of view. During the month of April, I will focus on RESPECT.

How are you going to meet this month’s resolution?

Much love, Diana-

Parenting Books

Audible

Audible has been the biggest discovery for me last year. I used to have a huge pile of books to read that I wasn’t able to get to before a new one added the pile. I love reading, especially parenting books, and I was getting frustrated because I couldn’t find time to read. Enter… Audible!

With Audible I can listen to my books wherever I am with their free app— in the car while I wait the pick up line, on my treadmill while I exercise, in my town while I walk my dog, in bed before I go to sleep, in the bathroom while I take a relaxing bath… just about anywhere! I love Audible and I recommend it every chance again, because it’s been life changing for me. If you love reading and don’t have time to sit with a book, you should definitely check it out.

The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children by Dr. Shefali Tsabary

My friend, Dr. Shefali Tsabary, who became Oprah’s favorite parenting expert, has written the most enlightening and revolutionary parenting book. This book completely resonates my idea that ‘parenting starts with us.

This book uncovers the many ways in which we unconsciously react to our children, and how we can stop our daily struggles as we uncover better ways to let our children thrive in their own way. In my opinion, this book should be in every parent, grandparent, educator and teacher’s library.

The Awakened Family: A Revolution in Parenting by Dr. Shefali Tsabary

Another wonderful book by Dr. Tsabary. This book sits on the premise that in order to be the best parents for our children, we need to first parent ourselves. We need to address and deal with our own issues, struggles, and automatic reactions as the key to coping with the challenges that come with raising little souls.

The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman, D. Ross Campbell

This book is about how to love your children. It sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Well, as it turns out, it is not as straight forward as we may think. How many adults are still dealing with feeling unloved as children? In most cases, their parents did love them. However, those parents didn’t know how to SHOW each child that they love them in a way the children understood.

Some of us feel loved by getting individual attention, others by words of affirmation… Everyone of us speak our particular love language. In order to make sure our children feel our unconditional love, we need to figure out their love languages. In this book, Dr. Chapman clearly explains the 5 different love languages children have.

Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen


This is a very practical book that teaches parents how to discipline their children without the use of time outs, punishment, shame or guilt trips. As I mentioned before positive parenting is not permissive parenting.

This book gives parents the tools to raise their children without any punitive measurements, as they help build their decision-making abilities, their communication skills, their respect, their awareness, their confidence, their self-esteem, and their maturity.

Stress Free Bedtime Routines Hack #7: Remain Calm

This is one of the most difficult things to do as parents. We all have triggers that make us react in ways that we later regret. One of the keys to have a smooth morning routine is to remain calm in the face of mishaps, mistakes or delays. If we have implemented the first 6 hacks we’ve covered until now, remaining calm will be much easier. Here are some tips to accomplish it:

1. Breathe Intentionally

When things start to unravel and your plans of a smooth morning start going out the window, take a breath, so you don’t make an already chaotic situation much worse. The best way to find your calm is through intentionally controlling your breath.

Start by observing your breath just as it is. Notice where the air flows through your body– upper chest, lower belly, front, back, sides. After you do that, start intentionally taking several deep breaths into your belly. You can put your hand on your tummy to feel how it fills up with air. After that, take several breaths into your upper chest and lungs. Let the air flow slowly out of your body. You can close your eyes as you do this intentional breathing.

This exercise doesn’t take a long time, just a few seconds. The goal of intentional deep breathing is to activate your parasympathetic nervous system which initiates the relaxation response, lowers heart rate, decreases blood pressure and slows down your respiration. Most people experience a sense of calm after doing this exercise, and feel more in control of their emotions.

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2. Take a Break

If breathing alone doesn’t work when things start to get crazy in the morning, take a step back. Don’t add into the problem the problem by escalating the level of chaos and stress. Often chaos escalates unnecessarily and builds momentum because we leap into irrational action without logical considerations.

The best thing to do at this time is to excuse yourself for a bit, and regain your objectivity. Make sure you leave your baby in a safe place, like an empty crib or a baby swing; leave your toddler in safe area such as their bedroom or a baby proof living room; leave your older kids in a place where they can’t hurt themselves.

This will let you think through the situation and come up with constructive solutions to get things back on track. You want to rejoin your kids when you can be the voice of reason, and continue leading them into a peaceful morning.

3. Identify and Manage Your Triggers

Triggers are things our child does, says or feels that lead us an involuntary negative response, such as yelling, getting angry, shut down, spanking out of anger and even out of control sometimes. Your response to your triggers can feel automatic and completely out of proportion.

Our parenting triggers are often associated with things from our own upbringing, and from our past experiences. The most important part of addressing your parenting triggers is to realize that you’re not really reacting to your child’s behavior. You are having a strong emotional reaction because of the meaning that behavior has to you and based on your own past experiences. Instead of focusing on your child’s behavior, you should focus on what is happening within you.

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I will cover this at a later time, so we can dive into the power of triggers and how we can overcome them. For the moment, focus on identifying your triggers and write them down. Then stop yourself in your tracks we you are faced with a situation that triggers you.

You may not know yet why you are being triggered, you may not know how to avoid them, you may not know how to re-parent yourself or re-wire your brain to get them under control, but you certainly can spot them and you can stop yourself before acting out on them.

4.  Keep Things In Perspective

Some situations spiral out of control because we only focus on negative side of what’s happening. For example, our child may have taken a shower, put on her pajamas, and maybe forgot to brush her teeth. We then overlook all the positive things she’s done and we hone in on the one thing she hasn’t done. This makes our child feel confused, angry and without any desire to cooperate the following morning. Focus on the positive, on what was accomplished, and celebrate your child for that.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. You know that not all the tasks on your child’s morning routine are equally important. Some of them can remain undone for later with no major consequences. Don’t make a rule out of this, but cut them some slack when appropriate.

5. Control What You Can Control and Let Go of What You Can’t Control

There’s no need to waste your energy trying to solve problems that are completely out of your control. Identify and resolve the issues you can solve and let go of those you can’t. The best course of action is to brainstorm possible ways to go around the problem, and think of ways to avoid falling into the same mistake in the future.

Accept that things might not be smooth every day

This is a hard one for most of us, but sometimes you will have to accept that there’s nothing you can do to avoid some nights taking the wrong turn, bedtime being delayed, showered not happening, nighttime reading being cut short… It will happen sometimes!

For example, your already bathed child pours milk on himself, your baby has a poppy explosion as soon as you put him in his crib, your blow dryer stops working as you’re blow drying your daughter’s hair… Things happen, and it’s not the end of the world. Acknowledge the situation and accept if for what it is, and move on.

7. Smile and Break The Tension

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” —Thich Nhat Hanh

Having a positive attitude is half the battle in any chaotic, out of control and stressful situation. Putting a smile on your face might sound like an idiotic or pointless solution to a moment of morning craziness, but it is not. By smiling, we are not dismissing the seriousness of the situation, we are simply breaking the tension to make things more manageable.

Smiling alone helps release all those wonderful feel-good neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. This release relaxes your body and  lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. Thus, the simple act of putting a smile on your face can have a tremendous impact on your physical and mental state.

Furthermore, according to many scientific studies, the neurons in our brains have a synchronizing feature that keeps you in sync with who are you interacting with. Therefore, if our children see us smile, they will smile as well, improving the atmosphere in our home.

When smiling is not enough, we break the tension caused by a morning mishap, by adding fun. Yes, I am not crazy! I know it may sound counter productive to introduce a fun activity in the mist of your morning chaos. But believe me the stress released during the activity will make you and your children drain the stress and be more focused to accomplish the remained of tasks on your morning charts.

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Therefore, when smiling doesn’t work, break up the tension with fun – start a pillow fight, engage in a tickle fight, put on music and dance like crazy people, play tag around the house, tell a joke… This doesn’t have to last more than a few minutes to completely transform the atmosphere in your home.

I hope these tips will help you remain more calm in the mornings. What other things do you do to avoid or dissipate stress?

Much love, Diana-

Stress Free Bedtime Routines Hack #5: Safe and Soothing Sleep Haven

Soothing & Safe Bedroom

This might seem an obvious thing to say, but sometimes our kids’ bedrooms are not exactly a calm and soothing place. Try to keep it organized and minimized the amount of toys and stimulating games to a minimum.

You want your child’s room to be dark. On a scale from one to ten, ten being pitch black, you want your child’s bedroom to be around a seven or eight on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being pitch black. If you decide to leave on a night-light, make sure it’s not too bright, but gives enough light for your child to see his surroundings.

Your child’s bedroom should be quiet and away from the main activity area of your home. You don’t need to be whispering while your child naps or sleeps, but she shouldn’t be exposed to loud noises while sleeping.

 

 

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Keep your child’s bedroom between 68 to 72 degrees F, since he will have a more restful sleep. Higher temperatures have been proven to increase the risk of SIDS in infants and babies, so make sure your baby is properly dressed and keep that temperature. The best way to see if your baby’s temperature is adequate, touch his chest, underneath his clothes. If his chest is warm and fine, that means he is fine, even if his hands or nose might be cold.

If your child is still a baby, dress him in flame-resistant and snug-fitting sleep clothes. You can cover your baby with a sleep sack if the pajamas are not enough to keep him warm. When choosing a sleep bag, make sure the width of the neck isn’t wide enough for your child to slip himself completely inside of the sack.

Keep the bedroom aired. Avoid exposing your baby to tobacco smoke, and do not smoke or let anyone smoke around your baby.

The Bed (or Crib) Is For Sleeping

World renowned sleep hygiene experts recommend that your child uses the bed for rest. It is best if your child doesn’t use it for doing her homework, for watching TV, for playing with her iPad… Doing non-sleep activities in bed can be bad for your child’s sleep.

The more things her brain associates her bed with, the less it will think of sleep when she is there. Our goal is to help our child’s brain to develop a strong association between bed (or crib) and sleep, so as soon as her head hits the pillow, sleep is the first thing in their mind

Don’t use bedroom as punishment. Sleeping area should be for sleeping, not for time outs. Their bedroom needs to be a secure, loving time, not a place associated with punishment and withdrawal from the family.

The crib is the only place where you leave your baby on his own, therefore you should make sure it’s 100% safe and soothing. Do not use your child’s crib for time-outs, to control tantrums, or for disciplining.

Additionally, do not use sleep itself as a punishment (i.e. if you don’t eat your dinner, I’ll send you to sleep earlier). Never use sending your child to sleep as a threat. You want your child to have a positive association with sleep.

Electronics – Free Bedtime and Bedroom

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The use of electronics use should stop at least an hour before bedtime. The use of devices such as smartphones, computers, iPads and TV before bedtime will alter your child’s sleep negatively in the following ways:

  • These electronics emit blue light, which is believed to be particularly important when it comes to establish your child’s internal circadian rhythms and their internal sleep clocks. The blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, which is necessary for your child to have a restful sleep.
  • These devices engage and stimulate your child’s mind and keep him awake.
  • When your child wakes up in the middle of the night, and goes to check her phone, iPad… her brain will be stimulated again, making it harder for her to go back to sleep.
  • The use of electronics causes children to sleep less and be excessively tired the next day, which could have serious repercussions to their health, mood, weight, productivity, learning and development.

In our home, we do not allow any electronics in the bedroom. We have a common charging station in the study room where all the electronics are connected at night.

A note on safety

Additionally, there’s another good reason not to allow electronics in your child’s bedroom that has nothing to do with sleep. With the increasing risks of online predators, it is safer if your child doesn’t have the chance to do online activities at home without your supervision. We restrict my daughters’ computer use to their homework room (which is right by the kitchen), kitchen and living room. That’s it!

In addition to restricting the place in the house where they can use their computers and electronics, we have also installed parental control software that prevents them from accessing websites, chat rooms or youtube videos with adult content. We have created the same restrictions on all of their devices and Netflix accounts.

 

I hope this was useful and will help you provide your child with a soothing sleeping area.

Much love, Diana-

 

 

Stress Free Bedtime Routines Hack #3: Set Up Before Kids Get Home

I don’t know about you, but since the moment I pick up my daughters from school, I want to be able to be as present as possible. Therefore, I try to make as many things ahead as possible, so I can focus on them. These are some things I do as the day goes on:

  • Before picking up my daughters from school, I go to their bathroom to verify they have everything they need for their bath/ shower. They have body soap, shampoo, conditioner, hair brush, towels or bathrobes, moisturizing cream, deodorant… in its place and easily accessible in the bathroom. That way, I don’t have to try to find this stuff while we are dealing with baths at night.
  • Prepare afternoon snacks, so they waiting for the kids as soon as they get home. If they have an after school activity we need to get to right after school, I pack their snack bags, so they’re ready when I need to head out the door.
  • Prepare dinner as far in advance as I can. If I can’t fully cook dinner or leave it in the crock pot, I do as many things in advance as I can (i.e. chop veggies).

What things can you do ahead of time, so you can be more present with your kids? What things can you do ahead of time, so you don’t have to spend time on them later in the evening as bedtime approaches?

Much love, Diana-

Stress Free Bedtime Routines Hack #2: Keep Everything As Organized As Possible

This is the same thing I’ve talked about when I was covering the 8 Hacks for Stress Free Mornings. I know having an organized house when you have little ones around is not an easy task. However, the more organized your home is, the easier your nights will be.

These are some ideas that are relatively easy to implement and will make your bedtime routines smoother:

  1. Set place in your house for backpacks. This will not only make your mornings easier, but also your nights. As soon as your kids come back from school, make sure they fully empty their backpacks. As soon as they’re done with their homework, make sure they put everything they need to bring to school the following day in their backpacks. As soon as backpacks are ready, they should be hanged or put away in their designated area. That way, you know kids won’t be running around to prepare them five minutes before bedtime.
  2. Maintain a place for after school activities gear. This can be in the same area as you keep their backpacks or in a separate area. The goal though, is to keep it all organized and always in the same place. As soon as your children come back from their activities, everything should go back to its place. If there are things to be washed, they should go straight to your washer machine, and put back in their place as soon as they are ready.
  3. Designated area for the kids’ coats and jackets. As soon as the kids come back from school or after school activities, makes sure they put away their outwear properly hanged in the designated area.
  4. Designated area for kids’ shoes and boots. Make sure every time they take them off, they put them back in their place, so they always know where to find them.
  5. Designated area for kid’s accessories, such as winter hats, gloves, scarfs… Just as with coats and shoes, make sure every time your kids use their accessories that they put them away in their designated place.
  6. Designated area for brushes and hair accessories. I don’t know about your kids, but my daughters tend to leave their brushes, ribbons, hair pins… all around the house. It drives me crazy, because I don’t like having to run around the house in the morning trying to find a hair band. So, every night, I remind them to walk around and gather all their hair products and put them away in their designated drawers in the bathroom.
  7. Command Center for the Family. Have a set place in your home where you display the family calendar, after school activities and other important notes for each day, so every family member can quickly check and know what’s coming that day. It’d be ideal if the backpack area was by the command area, to keep it all together and organized.
  8. Organized Bathroom. Keep a bathroom caddy or basket for each child, where they can find their toothbrush, dental floss, and toothpaste. Have towels, hair accessories, creams, deodorant have a set place in their bathroom. Make sure your kids know that they need to put everything back in its place after using it.

Implementing this simple organization hacks, and getting your kids on board will significantly decrease your bedtime stress.

What other organization tips do you have?

Much love, Diana-