Does my child behave?

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Friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike marvel all the time at how well-behaved my little girl is. Some of them ask me how she listens so well, while others just comment that they can not believe she’d ever have a tantrum.

Make no mistake, Savina does have tantrums–a lot of them. All children do. It’s normal. It’s natural. Apart from testing their limits, they have big emotions and are still learning to deal with those emotions.

I strongly believe there are four pillars to raising my child to be well-behaved. They are:

not giving in, following through, showing sympathy, and modeling

and I want to give a little example or two for each of them. I will explain what each pillar stands for and why it is, in my humble opinion, a corner stone for good behavior.

Not giving in

Example. I play a puzzle with Savina, or read a book with her. We play/read for a while, and then I tell her we’re done for now. She wants more. A commonly made mistake is to repeat no, we’re done, watching the child cry and protest, and then saying, fine, one more. In other words, you’re giving in. Be it because you’re stressed, tired, or just don’t want to deal with the tears at this time–just don’t let it become a habit. She’ll figure you out fast, will know that she can twist you around her little finger. The result will be more tears, more tantrums, and less acceptance. Another example is if she asks you for a particular toy she wants to play with, or a particular food she wants to eat. If you said no the first time, don’t let her cry you into saying yes.

Following through

I try very hard not to punish and not to threaten punishment in the first place, but sometimes I don’t have the patience, or time, or composure to deal with a situation in the way I would like to instead. This happens rarely, actually, because I have adapted really well to offering alternatives instead of threatening punishments, but it does happen occasionally–usually in an “either or” way. And while a threat slips once in a while (I can probably count them on one hand), I have never actually needed to punish her. If you can read just a little bit of pride between the lines here–it’s there.

So, examples for following through. My little girl goes to my bookshelf and starts pulling out my books, although she knows she’s not allowed to. I tell her to stop but she won’t listen. I tell her stop now or you will go to your room. (I’ve never actually said anything like this to her, nor has she ever continued playing with my books when I asked her to stop, so this is a hypothetical example.) She keeps going, so what I’d have to do is send her to her room. Show her I mean what I say.

Another example. This one actually happened several months ago. Savina watched a short educational show on Netflix, and when the show was done, she wanted to see more. She began to throw a fit about it when I said, no more. So I said to her, listen, if you keep this up, you won’t be watching any TV anymore at all. (as in ever). I asked her, do you understand? She said yes, and her tantrum was over. Now, if hypothetically she had continued to throw a fit about it, I would have had to go through with it, and not let her watch anymore TV for what would’ve felt like an eternity to her (probably a couple of weeks).

A very common example is, if you want your child to stop playing a certain way with a toy (e.g. banging a block on a glass surface), and if the child doesn’t comply, you threaten to take the toy away. Well, if you just threaten it, and the child gets to keep playing with the toy, the child will learn that s/he has the power to do whatever s/he wants.

Showing sympathy

I find this to be so very important. When your child is upset about the rules imposed on him, or upset about you being angry with him, especially following a tantrum situation or suchlike, I feel it’s so important to show that you care about his feelings. A good example is that after not giving in, when your child continues to cry and fuss, please sit down with him and tell him something like, I’m sorry, baby, I understand, I know it’s hard. Are you upset that we’re done playing? You wanted to play more, didn’t you? It also often helps to then offer an alternative, like in above example I’d say something along the lines, how about we play again in the evening? Or, we can play more tomorrow morning, okay? If you’re angry with your child, kneel down to him, or sit with him, and calmly say something like, I’m sorry I was angry with you, but xyz. Even when your child didn’t listen and put himself in danger because of that (e.g. like playing with hot stuff), or especially then, you need to show that you were angry because you care about him. Don’t just boss your child around. Show sympathy. Remember that he’s still little and doesn’t see the world the same way you as an adult do.

Modeling

You are your child’s first teacher. Your child looks up to you and will copy your behavior. I don’t scream at Savina. (Well, I do have my moments because I’m not perfect–but again, you can probably count it on one hand). I don’t hit her, or talk to her like a boss to his minion. I show kindness, understanding, love, and how to be gentle. There’s no yelling or slapping in our house. There are pleases and thank yous and sorrys. I use calm voice, gentle touch, explain and ask instead of tell and order (for example, I’ll say, would you close the fridge door please? when she opened it but I didn’t want her in the fridge at this time, instead of saying, close the fridge door. Now.). We are as nice and well behaved towards her as we expect her to be towards everyone else. Personally, I consider her to be on equal level with me when it comes to emotions. I respect her space and accept her feelings just as I expect other adults to respect and accept mine.

So that’s it. I’m convinced that the four points I made above have greatly contributed to my daughter’s good behavior. I hope you can take away something from this, or maybe you’ve had similar experiences, and the article resonated with your own way of raising your children. How do you instill good behavior in your child? Leave me a comment.

P.S.: A small feature on Savina’s second birthday will come next time. Thanks for reading!

Healing, and Kimiko’s First Couple Months

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Giving birth continues to be the most miraculous thing I’ll ever experience in my life. Once again, I can hardly believe that this small person was once inside of me, in my belly. We created this human being, and my body took that tiny egg and sperm, combined it and grew a person from it. Wow. Words can barely describe how fascinating that feels.

Kimiko-16aI can’t believe Koko is already over two months old! Time goes by so very fast. I’m very lucky to have had my sister and her significant other here for the majority of that first month. Kimiko arrived only two days before my sister. And she was such a great help. I can’t imagine how I would’ve done without her. But let’s go back and reminisce about how I healed after having given birth a second time.

As I mentioned before, I bled more and I tore more than with my first. The tear would have required a couple of stitches, but my midwife and her backup decided not to stitch, because there was a swollen varicose vein in the way that may not have gone back properly if they had stitched the tear. So again, I was on bed-rest. Did you know that lying in bed 24/7 for several days is more exhausting than relaxing? I hated it. Not only did my body feel stiff, exhausted, and just not right, I hated having to depend on others for everything but nature’s business. I was so lucky though to have my sister and her significant other there to help out.

IMG_7886After giving birth, I could not sit on my butt–it hurt so bad. I thought this is just something similar to what I experienced with Savina: my tailbone hurting to the point where I could neither sit nor lie comfortably. This wasn’t my tailbone though. I had no idea what it was. My midwife gave me care instructions before she left, including info about bleeding and blood clots I may be seeing. In the evening, going to the bathroom, I passed a blood clot that I thought was fairly large. I didn’t see it, but it felt huge. I called my midwife, because I was a little bit concerned, when a thin stream of blood followed the clot and wouldn’t stop running. She prepared to come down see me, telling me to watch how many pads I fill in the meantime. I left the bathroom and sat on the couch, and wow–no pain! I was able to sit again. I have no idea what that was I dropped in the toilet, a blood clot, or whatever else, tissue maybe? Not a clue, but it must have just been in the way, somewhere it didn’t belong. It felt so good to sit again unhindered! My midwife came, and we talked. I went to the bathroom again. The stream had turned into a slow dribble. There was no more concern.

Kimiko-21Here’s an annoying thing that lasted past giving birth: hemorrhoids. I never used to have hemorrhoids while pregnant with Savina, but for some reason I did with Kimiko. After giving birth, I had them for a couple more weeks. Then they disappeared and haven’t been back since.

It feels like I healed slower than after giving birth to Savina, but that may be because I rested more with her than I did with Koko. On day 3 following birth, I took Koko to Savina’s swim class. No, I didn’t go in the water with Savina. I stayed on the beach, in the shadow, with Koko. Daddy went to swim with Savina instead, and two days later, my sister’s boyfriend accompanied Savina, while I waited on the beach with my sister. I couldn’t swim with Savina for a couple of weeks, especially while still bleeding so much. I walked around the house far sooner than I had with Savina, which probably prolonged my healing process, but I had to. I felt like a sick person staying in bed 24/7. I needed refreshment, fresh air, some circulation. I didn’t want to turn into a zombie.

Saying so long to my sister and her partner was hard. I knew I could handle things by myself. I was alone with Savina and Kimiko occasionally while sis was staying with us, and it went fairly well, but we had a great time together, and I don’t get to see her often.

Kimiko-27I love how they took care of Savina when needed. I was sad they got to take her places I couldn’t go, sharing experiences I couldn’t share, but so happy she got to do all these fun things! And I know Savina loved their company, too. We say good night to everyone on the photos on her wall every night, pointing out each person in each photo, saying “good night XY.” At the very end, Savina calls, “Nicoooo” one more time. He is an awesome babysitter–a complete natural!

Kimiko’s life, as most newborn lives, started with lots of sleep. I say most because Savina was not a good sleeper. Koko would have slept through the night, I’m sure, if I didn’t wake her to nurse her. Even with this being my second child, I believed it when I was told that the baby needs to feed every three hours–yes, at night, too. But it’s so untrue. As long as the baby makes up for what it doesn’t get at night during the day, you’re fine. As long as you have enough wet diapers, and the baby is growing and gaining weight well, you’re fine. I did wake Koko to feed, but only the first couple of nights. She hardly even woke, was very sleepy, and reluctant to drink. I suppose, I’d be the same way if my mom woke me, holding up a glass of milk to my lips. Then Kimiko started waking with tummy aches some nights. So if we hadn’t had those two interferences, I’m certain she would’ve slept through the night from day one. Alas, we did have these interferences, and so Koko wakes 1-2 times a night. She’s still rather out of it, when she wakes though, and doesn’t always latch right away.

Kimiko-35Koko’s tummy aches began to come up during the day as well, and a lot, very painful ones. I’ve learned much since I had Savina, and I wish I’d known how much help a chiropractor can be to babies when Savina was still an infant. I wasn’t going to let Koko go through the same problems Savina had to go through due to my ignorance, and since she was under two weeks old, I couldn’t even give her gripe water. I took Kimiko to see a chiropractor. Her first adjustment was only one spot, a test to see how she’ll respond to it. Throughout the adjustment she was calmer than I had ever seen her (and she’s by nature a calm baby already). Even my sister noticed that. Kimiko responded well to the treatment. The very next day she had no tummy aches at all, but then it came back with a vengeance the day after. A couple days later, she had her next appointment. She was asleep that time, and while the Dr. felt out her spine, she twitched and made a noise every time he came to a certain section. He said, “That’s the spot, isn’t it?” She slept through the entire adjustment. After that, she had no tummy aches whatsoever for a whole week. The next adjustment was short–she hardly needed anything adjusted, and we set the next appointment for one month later. Two weeks before her next appointment she started getting the tummy pain again sporadically, but two days prior to it, she had them really bad. I was so happy her treatment was coming up. And again, after her treatment: no problems at all! Now she’s seeing him once a week/once every other week at the moment. I’m so grateful.

Kimiko-41aAnother issue Koko had in the beginning: after her first few days I discovered some gooey looking stuff under her arms. At first I thought it was some of her vernix stuck in her armpits, but it didn’t go away. We had the pediatrician look at it and found out that it’s yeast. She had a powder prescribed, which we used, and when the yeast disappeared, we used it a few more days, then stopped, as suggested by the doctor. The yeast returned, and spread to behind her ears. We started the treatment all over again. Then I saw some of it in the creases of her legs (just at the knee-bend). That one took one treatment and disappeared for good. The other spots were more persistent. When it started looking better, I used the powder only once instead of twice a day. Then after a few days, I used a particular body lotion instead, a natural one that healed the eczema on my hands months ago. Lo and behold, the yeast disappeared and has not since returned.

KC-6aLastly, Koko was born with a lip-tie, just the same Savina has. It was frustrating to see that. I knew it would become a problem, and it did. Right after her birth, Koko knew exactly how to latch, and she did very well at that, latching right on with big open mouth. As the weeks went by, the opening of her mouth became smaller and smaller, meaning, she refused opening wide. I pressed down her chin to encourage her to open wider, but soon realized what was hindering her: the lip-tie. I would guess that it started bothering her, and opening her mouth wider would cause discomfort. It got to the point where she would just barely open wide enough for my nipple to fit through, sucking it in, nursing inefficiently. Night-nursings, although she only woke 1-2x a night (and still does) became a chore, because for every night-nursing I’d be up for roughly an hour. Koko nursed, then struggled falling back asleep, then wanted more. All this repeating itself several times for about an hour. I was getting frustrated with the lack of sleep I suddenly started having, as well as with her poor latch. IMG_7814During the day it was worse–on off on off. She could never get enough. So I finally did some research and decided to take care of her lip-tie. At 7 1/2 weeks old, she finally had it lasered. Although she could feel no pain throughout the procedure, Kimiko cried a lot–I would, too, if people forced my mouth open. Savina was sweetly concerned and requested to check on Koko the whole time. She watched the procedure quietly, exclaiming that Koko is crying and needing a fresh diaper. Healing took some time, and using nothing but Hyland teething gel to ease her discomfort and to help stretch the section in question, she was fussy for about a week, mixed with Wonder Weeks and a growth spurt, it was a rough week. But we made it through, and it was very much worth it. Ever since her lip-tie was lasered, Koko has been able to handle my letdown much better. Night-feedings are good again–Koko latches, eats, and goes straight back to sleep. We still have some trouble improving her latch during the day. My guess is, being awake and more aware of what’s going on, she’s still holding back, not letting me guide her to the perfect latch, probably in fear of feeling discomfort again, whereas at night she’s too sleepy to care. Plus, it’s tough to unlearn something you’ve done for almost your whole (tiny) life. Three weeks later we get a perfect latch occasionally, which is more than we had before the procedure.

Kimiko-29The last thing I want to talk about in this post is Koko’s personality. While Savina and Kimiko look like twins, their personality couldn’t be any more contrasting. From the day she was born, Savina was the most impatient baby I’ve ever laid eyes on, whereas Koko is quite patient. Savina had to be held 24/7, while Kimiko doesn’t mind being put down. I can occasionally even put her in her bassinet or bouncer seat wide awake, and she’ll fall asleep just fine. Savina loved the camera since day one, always posing, and now requesting to see the picture that was taken. Koko seems to hate the camera being in her face all the time–I can hardly ever get her to smile for a nice shot, although she’s slowly starting to get used to it. Savina loved a ride in the car. For the first four months, whenever I took her on a ride, she’d fall asleep almost instantly, and I could take her out of the car, place the seat in the house, and she’d continue sleeping for an hour. IMG_7772To this day she loves riding in the car and even more in the truck. Kimiko hates the car seat, and a car ride. She does fall asleep after a while, often after she has voiced her upset about the situation by crying, but the moment the car stops, even at a traffic light, she wakes and complains again, and if she doesn’t, she’ll wake at the latest when I take her out of the car and put her down in the house. Savina was overall a very fussy baby, whereas Kimiko is a very calm baby. When she goes into Wonder Weeks it’s like night and day–with Savina it was a more gradual yet noticeable change. There are probably more opposites I’m just not thinking of right now. Safe to say, my two beautiful daughters look alike but are nothing like each other. I only hope this will not create too much trouble as they grow older. I’d love for them to be best buddies. Currently Savina loves her sister–jealous, yes, but much in love, wanting to play with her so bad. She can’t wait for Koko to be big enough to play like Savina does herself.

If you made it all the way down here, kudos! Thank you for reading and being part of our lives.

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