Sunday, August 14, 2005

Parents Corner: Raising Happy, Safe, Children.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


The grandparents are in town. We all went to Chicago and had a wonderful time together. After a nice itallian lunch, we headed up to the Water-Tower Place and took in the shops.

One shop that was most interesting to our little guy was a theme-store that specializes in "Thomas and Friend's" merchandise. There are numerous toys that are available for your child/children to play with and the prices are reasonable.

Although he did end up getting a few small items, the real benefit was all of us being able to spend a great day together.

Saturday, April 16, 2005


The Marines taught a remedial action sequence for a malfunctioning rifle known as tap-rap-bang. This sequence of actions was designed to eliminate malfunctions and allow for proper operation of the weapon. The main idea behind the sequence was that it was to be applied almost instinctively and rapidly upon discovering the malfunction.
The tie-in with babies is that they too suffer little "malfunctions" in life. I say this jokingly. Really, we are not speaking of malfunctions per say, but rater, about those situations that bring on discomfort for a little one: Hunger, too hot/cold, stomach ache, etc. are examples of the kinds of things I am referring to.
When our baby was very little, we created a tap-rap-bang sequense for eliminating minor problems that our baby was experiencing even-though we didn't always know exactly what the problem was, we were able to detect and eliminate it quickly...
If he started to cry, we checked the diaper, offered him milk, picked him up and burped the little guy, and wrapped him up. After going through this sequence up to about three times, we usually found and fixed the situation within a few minutes.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Smiles and Happy Children

When Carrie and I had our first child, we wondered how we would ever be able to raise a child to be happy, healthy, and safe. As soon as we learned that we were expecting, we began to read the books and prepare for the task of raising a child. There is so much information out there and it is very possible to be over-whelmed by it all. I especially remember being concerned over my inability to ever understand what the child might need when crying. At this point, I started thinking...
It isn't really that hard. I know, for example, that if he were to cry it wouldn't be out of saddness of not having a bar of gold, Lexis, designer clothing, or pumpkin pie. Babies are limited in what they understand of the world and this makes it much simpler to figure out what their issues are. They either have a tummy ache, nasty (very) diaper, are hungry, need to be burped, or just want to be held. So, when J. would start crying, we would start by checking his diaper for signs of use, then offer him the bottle, then burp him, and some-times just hold him.
I don't remember many times that we repeated the "trouble-shooting cycle" more than two or three times before finding out what the problems were and getting them corrected. Rarely did he cry after getting the problems taken care of. Of course, there were a few of those special days- the ones your parents would laugh to hear about. Pay-back.
A few things that we tried to do at all costs. If he cried, we assumed it was for a real reason and if there was really a problem in J.'s universe, it was our duty to fix it. So, we always were quick to answer his cries. Some would argue that we spoiled him by jumping. Actually, soon-on we were able to quickly identify when he was just having an attitude and there was not really a legitimate issue. In these cases (yes, starting very young) we disciplined him; a sharp tap on the bottom of the heel with the stern "NO!" followed by the loving admonition, "You're not going to act like this. It isn't acceptable. We will get anything that you need but you need to be fair about this deal kid." He soon ceased the un-warranted crying.
Along with this, another fundamental building block upon which we built our parenting is that babies were made to spew. We have identified seven types of child-spew. Some varieties are so horrible that we don't mention them by name. The point was that if we were coated, we NEVER would show anger toward the baby. He is after all just doing his job. We would actually smile and thank him for "sharing."
The act of smiling has played a key role in J.'s development as one of the happiest kids I have ever seen. From the moment J. was born, we smiled at him, told him he is great, that we love him, and talked to him in claming tones. For his first several months of life, he saw noting aside from smiling parents.
There are other ideas that we have used and I hope that we will have the time to discuss them all.

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