Category: Blog

MinimaLIST: 10 Newborn Items I Couldn’t Survive Without

Smiling baby boyI am a devoted minimalist. While pregnant I refused a lot of different items because they seemed like gimmicks that would clutter my tiny apartment.

However, after having a baby and actually dealing with the daily habits of taking care of her, I found there are 10 things I absolutely couldn’t live without:

1. Pacifier

As I sat in the hospital with a fussy, fed baby that still could suck the paint off the walls, the nurses suggested a pacifier. The sudden shift from screaming to silence was all I needed to continue implementing this little piece of rubber magic.

Recommended Brand: Avento Soothie $3
Why: The shape of the Soothie most simulates that of a breast – with a wide base and cylindrical shape – reducing the chance of nipple confusion.
Buy the Avento Soothie on Amazon.com

2. Swaddle

When babies cry, their arms flail – and a lot of times this causes even more crying! Babies love to feel like they are back in the womb – a room with a snug fit – keeping their little arms safely tucked in. Ahh… so soothing! A “must” for helping little ones get to sleep.

Recommended Brand: Swaddle Me $15

Why: The lightweight, stretchable fabric makes it perfect for enveloping baby tight in any climate. The bottom velcro closure allows for easy diaper checking without an entire unwrapping.
Buy the Swaddle on Amazon

3. Baby Sling

Babies want to be held. Period. And in an idea world, we would all sit around for the first three months with our sweet, content babies and nothing else in the world to do. Back in reality we often need to keep moving with one – and sometimes even two! – hands free. I don’t know how people even manage to raise babies without using a wrap.

Recommended Brand: Baby K’tan $50
Why: This wrap is super easy to put on, looks stylish, requires NO tying of knots, and doesn’t end up with long pieces of fabric hanging over your legs. Yay!
Buy the K’tan Sling on Amazon

4. Rocking Chair

True Story: I didn’t have a rocking chair for the first eight weeks of my baby’s life. I found myself pacing the floor of my 600 square foot apartment every night at 3 am trying to get her back to sleep before I thought “Hmm… perhaps I should try a rocking chair.” And yes, it changed my life. Or should I say, it changed my nights. So much better!

Reccomended Brand: A big, fat Lay-z-Boy. $350
Why: These things rock without giving you motion sickness (I’m looking at you, Glider) and when the little nugget finally falls asleep, you can just recline that bad boy and doze off with her.
Buy the Lay-Z-Boy on Amazon

5. White Noise Machine

Emulating the sounds of the womb is key. Unlike adults – a quiet room makes babies unsettled. Recall how small babies can sleep during a loud movie or room full of people – the noise comforts them. The same happens when it’s time to sleep – a soothing noise similar to that of the womb (which can be as loud of a vacuum cleaner!) helps baby relax and drift off to dreamland.

Recommended Item: High-Quality Room Fan $50
Why: Digital white noise and sound machines made for babies can have a tin can sound to them and you can often audibly hear the “loop” nosie. In addition, these are assaultive to adult ears – and once baby is done with them – that’s $30 – $50 you’ll never see again. Instead, we like the idea of purchasing a nice quality room fan instead. Not only will this fan drown out the outside noises that could wake your baby, but it also circulates the air in her room, leaving things feeling a bit “fresher” than before. It’s a Win/Win!
Buy a Vornado fan on Amazon

6. Breast Pump

Weather your trying to increase your supply or save up a supply of milk for the future, a breast pump is essential. Women with low milk supply should pump after each feeding for 10 minutes on each side to stimulate milk production. Women with a normal/ high supply can pump after each feeding to store milk for future use.

Recommended Brand: Medela Symphony $1,500
Why: This pump is smooooth. Other pumps can suck so hard on the nipple that by the end of the pumping session it’s bright purple and bruised. The Medela cruises along, getting the most milk without giving you additional nipple trauma. And who needs more of that?!
Buy the Medela Symphony on Amazon

7. Vibrating Seat

Okay, to be fair, it took my baby until she was 8 weeks old to sit in the seat and another 2 weeks to enjoy it. It takes some getting used to and I recommended putting the baby in it for just 5-10 minutes at a time in the beginning. Now she LOVES the seat and the lightweight version allows me to move it all around the house without any problem. I put it in front of the shower, on the kitchen table, in the laundry room – anywhere I am.

Recommended Brand: Fisher Price Soothing Vibrations $35
Why: Unlike the pricey, bulky competitors, this chair is lightweight and easy to move. It also have a vibration mode that is just right and not too intense.
Buy the Fisher Price Soothing Vibrations on Amazon

8. Car Mirror

What is your baby doing while facing backwards in a car seat an arm’s length away from you? You wouldn’t know unless you were willing to pull the car over and look or risk getting into a collision trying to crane your head back to find out. These handy devices require only a glance in your rearview mirror to see if your little nugget is content, sleeping, or unhappy.

Recommended Brand: Diono Mirror $8
Why: The simple installation and extra large size of the mirror make it super easy to use.
Buy the Diono Car Mirror on Amazon

9. Portable Noise Machine

Okay, yes, this is another one of those baby gimmicks I swore I wouldn’t use. But let me tell you, it made such a difference with car rides and airplane trips. The soothing sounds help baby relax and feel secure while drowining out all the junk noise in the background.

Recommended Brand: Sleep Sheep On-the-Go $25
Why: First of all, it’s so cute! Second, my baby LOVES the babbling brook setting. Third, the handy velcro loop on the back makes it easy to attach to a car seat, stroller bar, or carry-on bag for no-worry transport.
Buy the Sleep Sheep on Amazon

10. Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play $80

The mack daddy of baby sleeping accommodations. I tell you, my life changed when I bought a Rock n Play and began using it for bedtime. It was recommended to me (by name brand) by my lactation consultant to deal with my daughter’s maddening acid reflux (it sits at a slight angle), but I found it’s highlights went beyond spit-up.
Buy the Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play on Amazon

Click here to read the full article on why the Fisher Price Rock n Play is amazing.

Roxann Blue
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Roxann is a new mom, graphic designer, and contributing author for Head & Heart Parents. In her spare time she likes to sleep. You can learn more about her at www.roxannblue.com

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Ten Must Have Baby Shower Presents Under $20

There are those people who follow registries and those that don’t.

10 Must Have Baby Shower Gifts Under $20If you’re feeling like a maverick and want to get your expectant friend something unique that she doesn’t yet realize she can’t live without, follow our guide below. (And each item has detailed explanations so upon giving the gift, you can tell her exactly why she must have it!)

1. Nosefrida Nasal Aspirator

Sounds super weird, but is the single most useful item I own. Babies get congested and can’t blow their own noses. In addition, there aren’t any safe medicines for babies to help dry up all that muck. Old fashioned “bulb suckers” don’t have the power that this one has. And when your precious baby is up with a congested nose and can’t breathe, you will want all the power you can find to clear out her precious nasal passages.

Buy the Nosefriday on Amazon.com

2. Wubbanub

One of the woes of newborns and younger infants is their inability to keep a pacifier in. If the pacifier falls out mid-sleep, screams ensure which could lead to an early wake-up, or at least a disturbed break for mom and dad. These cute little pacifiers feature an animal attached to them, to help “hold” the soothe in place. Genius!

Buy the Wubbanub on Amazon.com

3. Diono Backseat Mirror

Safety aside, no one is a fan of rear-facing car seats. I mean, the poor baby can’t see you, and you can’t see them! This large, easily adjustable mirror is perfect for checking in on baby, and is big enough for them to watch you. I even turn around at red lights to say “hi!” in the mirror, which my baby loves.

Buy the Diono Backseat Mirror on Amazon.com

4. Swaddle Me

I am a fan of the down home, do-it-yourself swaddle. I like knowing that I can bundle my little bundle in nothing but a 40 inch square of fabric. However, there are two features the Swaddle Me has that my old fashion swaddle doesn’t: First of all, it stays put. No more strong babies popping out of this one – which means more security for baby and fewer wake-ups. Second, you can easily check (and even change!) diapers without undoing the entire thing. Small slits on the back of the swaddle offer an easy way to check if the diaper needs changing, and the velcro lets you open up the bottom without undoing the top. Brilliant!

Buy the Swaddle Me on Amazon.com

5. GAP First Favorites

Oh my. Oh my. The softness of these onsies is exquisite. Compared to every other I’ve used, they are no match for the comfort of a GAP First Favorite. Pricy, yes. But mom will find herself reaching for this one first every single time guaranteed.

Buy First Favorites at Gap.com

6. Happiest Baby on the Block DVD

I know, everyone already knows about the book and probably has a copy from a friend. But if you know they don’t, this is a MUST HAVE for every new parent. With the DVD version you don’t have to burden the new parents with reading a new book – the DVD teaches everything in a short time and the visuals are super helpful. This, my friends, is magic.

Buy the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD on Amazon.com

7. Board Book Collection

With the cost of board books being between $3 and $5 each, a collection of four is a perfect little stack to give to any parent-to-be. (And no Goodnight Moon!)

Check out our list of Must Have, Unique Board Books

8. Baby Massage Oil

Forget the fancy “how-to-massage your baby” books – only moms with a full time nanny and 8 hours sleep will even have the time or patience to read it. And *spoiler alert* baby massage is all instinctual anyway! I mean, you don’t have baby on the bed saying “oh, there’s just this knot in my right shoulder mom!” So tell the parent-to-be to follow their instincts with this wonderful, safe, all natural baby massage oil from Arbonne.

Buy Arbonne Baby Oil on Amazon.com

9. Boon Pulp Feeder

This will sit on the shelf for about 4-6 months after the baby is born. But then, voila! It will be a life saver! This award-winning little tool is a must have for babies that are anxious to feed themselves solid food. Simply fill the little silicone tip with the juicy or easily mashable food of choice, and let the baby have it. No choking hazards and limited mess. And unlike the “mesh bag” self feeders, this one doesn’t flop over, is easy to clean, and doesn’t have that gross “i’m chewing on polyester fabric” thing happening.

Buy the Boon Pulp Feeder on Amazon.com

10. Knee High Baby Socks

There are two main problems with the standard baby socks available at the store.

#1) They don’t stay on. Ever! These short ankle socks are easily pushed off by kicking legs and diaper changing.

#2) Cold Legs!! How many times I’ve seen babies out in the cold and their pant legs are caught up around their knees from being carried, and their little ankle socks can’t cover all that exposed skin, leaving very chilly baby legs!

Knee high baby socks are hard to mysteriously hard to find in stores– but we have scouted out some options on Amazon that stay on and keep babies legs protected from the chilly winter air.

Buy Baby Knee Socks on Amazon.com


Roxann Blue
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Roxann is a new mom, graphic designer, and contributing author for Head & Heart Parents. In her spare time she likes to sleep. You can learn more about her at www.roxannblue.com

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The Amazing Rock ‘n Play*

Get Better Sleep with a New Infant
Find the Rock n’ Play on Amazon.com

 

Acid Reflux Reducer

Dealing with a baby that suffers from serious acid reflux, I found I couldn’t just lay her on her back or I would be faced with a giant projectile spit-up. Yet the bed with a pillow, or Boppy-propping alternatives, all had their own downfalls as well.

I found when I propped up my baby girl on a pillow on the bed she would sometimes “roll down” the pillow – leaving her face down or in an awkward position – thus risking her safety or waking her up. No good either way. The Boppy worked great – for short periods – and is not actually recommended for sleeping at all.

Per the Fisher Price website, the Rock ‘n Play is great for babies to snooze in. Mesh sides and a belt keep the baby from falling out. Finally, it has the gentle incline from toe to head, resulting in significantly less spit-up.

A Great Alternative to Co-Sleeping

Let me preface by saying I really loved the idea of having my little nugget cozied up next to me in bed – content to sleep with mom. However, I found co-sleeping to be a bit of a nightmare. Yes, for naps and short periods, I still love it. But for those long stretches at night where I am hoping for 4-5 hours of solid, heavy sleep? Not so great. The reason being, I was always so worried about smothering my baby, or her rolling onto her face and smothering herself, that I found I didn’t sleep well at all. I woke up every 20 minutes to check her breathing situation. It wasn’t until I found her swaddled, face down in a pillow that I sadly decided co-sleeping with my newborn wasn’t going to work for me.

The Rock ‘n Play offers a close-to-the-bed, rock-able, lightweight alternative to co-sleeping. Baby is right there, can see your face AND can be gently swayed to sleep. Perfect!

Helps Parents Get More Sleep Too

After nighttime feeding and diaper change, parents are already half awake. Add in having to rock or soothe a baby back to sleep and you could be wide-eyed for the next 30 minutes. The Rock ‘n Play is great in that regard. After feeding, diapering re-swaddling, simply lay the baby back in the Rock ‘n Play right next to your bed. Then lie down next to him, with your head on the bed right in line with his. Use your arm to gently rock the baby to sleep. You’ll find it’s so soothing that you’re falling asleep, right in your bed, along with him. Funny sidenote: I’ve fallen asleep BEFORE my baby doing this. Then I wake up to find her staring at me with wide eyes as if to say “Where did you go? I’m still awake here….”

Buy the Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play on Amazon

I will tell you that my baby did not love her Rock ‘n Play at first. It took a few times to get her settled and into a rhythm with it. If you’re willing to try something new, give it a few nights for your baby to get used to it.

Good Luck!

Roxann Blue
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Roxann is a new mom, graphic designer, and contributing author for Head & Heart Parents. In her spare time she likes to sleep. You can learn more about her at www.roxannblue.com

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*DISCLAIMER* This is not an Advertisement, but an enthusiastic mom whose life got so much better when she started using the Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play.

10 Lesser-Known, Must-Have, Perfect Board Books Make Ultimate Baby Shower Gifts

Beyond Goodnight Moon and Pat the Bunny … past Sandra Boynton and Eric Carle – there are so many absolutely wonderful, lesser known board books that we wanted to share them with you.

These are baby shower gift ideas the expectant mom will love receiving – and that will stay on the bookshelf for years to come!

Tumble Bumble by Felicia Bond

1. Tumble Bumble by Felicia Bond

A perfect fun, rhyming book full of playful animals, this book is sure to keep the attention the wiggliest of little ones.
Find Tumble Bumble on Amazon.com
 

 

All of Baby Nose to Toes

2. All of Baby Nose to Toes by Victoria Adler

Rhyming fun that asks a the question “Who loves baby’s (eyes/ toes/ nose) every other page. This book teaches toddlers “call and respond” in a fun, sweet way.
Find All of Baby Nose to Toes on Amazon.com
 

 

The Nice Book by David Ezra Stein

3. The Nice Book by David Ezra Stein

Exceptional artwork – finger paints and colored pencils – makes this book visually amazing. The simple and friendly messages about talking, sharing and helping teach what the words “Be Nice” truly mean.
Find The Nice Book on Amazon.com
 

 

Peekaboo by Taro Gomi

4. Peekaboo! by Taro Gomi

A book with two holes for eyes, this book doubles as a series of fun masks! Toddlers delight in seeing mom or dad peeking through the holes at them – and wearing the “book masks” themselves!
Find Peekaboo! on Amazon.com
 

 

Where is My Friend?

5. Where is my Friend? by Simms Tabak

A lift-the-flap book, each page features an animal looking for his/her lost friend. Babies love turning the small pages and finding the hidden animal. Hooray!
Find Where is My Friend? on Amazon.com
Note: This book is rare and hard to find – our copy was picked from a pile at the thrift store. Amazon does have sellers with new and used copies.
 

Whose Toes Are Those? by Sally Symes

6. Whose Toes Are Those? by Sally Symes

Another adorable lift-the-flap book! Each page has clues for your little one to learn which toes, tail, and nose belongs to different animals! So cute!
Find Whose Toes are Those? on Amazon.com
 

 

Sweet Dreams Lullaby Board Book

7. Sweet Dreams Lullaby by Betsy E. Snyder

Set to the rhythm of “Hush Little Baby”, this book changes the words and sends your little one off to sleep with a headful of wonderful images and thoughts. The illustrations are stunning and it lasts just long enough to settle down even the squirmiest toddlers!
Find Sweet Dreams Lullaby on Amazon.com
 

 

Hush Little Baby Board Book

8. Hush Little Baby by Sylvia Long

Based on the classic children’s song, this books takes it in a really wholesome direction. Rather than buying different things to make her baby happy, she guides the little one to look to their own world for fulfillment. Really touching!
Find Hush Little Baby on Amazon.com
 

 

Splish Splash Board Book

9. Splish! Splash! by Nicola Smee

Babies love this book! A sweet, easy rhyme with images baby can recognize (mama, baby, duck, dog) and fun first words! The end has a little touch-and-feel surprise of a soft terry cloth towel. Sweet!
Find Splish! Splash! on Amazon.com
 

 

A is for Activist

10. A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

Okay, this one isn’t for everyone, but for the right person it’s PERFECT. I’d never seen anything like it before. Just click the link and look inside..
Find A is for Activist on Amazon.com

Roxann Blue
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Roxann is a new mom, graphic designer, and contributing author for Head & Heart Parents. In her spare time she likes to sleep. You can learn more about her at www.roxannblue.com

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5 Peculiar Things My 1-Year Old Does

So, as a first time mom I’m not sure what is normal baby behavior and what is unusual – so here is a list of things I find my one-year old doing that I’m not sure what to make of –

Anyone out there have similar experiences?

5 Peculiar Things My 1-Year Old Does1. Moans Incredibly Loudly While Eating

Did anyone ever see the episode of Friends where Phoebe gives Monica the back rub and she moans so loudly it makes the whole situation turn a tad awkward? Well, I imagine this will be my daughter in 25 years. She moans so loudly out of sheer contented happiness while eating people turn their heads in public places to see what could possibly be happening.

2. Is Obsessed with the Pile of Shoes by the Door

What is it about a pile of stinky, dirty shoes that is so attractive to my child? Is it the filthy rubber soles? The dingy fabric sides? Or the mysterious, odiferous foot holes she can stick her hand in? These shoes call to her like Sirens to Odysseus – alluring and slightly dangerous (you know, with all the city germs and goose poop from the park) – she mustgototheshoes.

3. Turns All Her Toys Face Down

The new baby computer, the Meowsic Keyboard, the Fisher Price piano – she prefers them to be face down on the floor. At which point she just looks at them and smiles.

4. Constantly Tries to Drink Her Bathwater

I have had to remove any object capable of holding water from her bath because every time I turn my head she has dipped the receptacle into the water and is hurriedly trying to get the water to her mouth. It’s like she’s been lost in the desert for days and finally see’s a sparkling pool of beautiful, delicious water. I would always catch her with a fountain of water spilling down her chin and eyes trying to see “Look how clever I am!” Since removing the water-holding toys, she now tries to lap it up like a dog. Oh lord…

5. Pulls Her Own Hair

The look on her face is sort of like she’s trying to slip her arm around someone without them noticing – and then she grabs these little tufts of hair behind her ears and pulls – HARD! The feeling of having her hair pulled seems to surprise her – every single time she does it.

Roxann Blue
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Roxann is a new mom, graphic designer, and contributing author for Head & Heart Parents. In her spare time she likes to sleep. You can learn more about her at www.roxannblue.com

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“I Overreacted and Gave My Child Too Harsh a Consequence…. Now What..?”

Dad: Kerry, I’m a single dad and wondering how I can gracefully back out from having overreacted and given my son a harsher consequence than I should have?

Clever kidHe’s 4 and was throwing water out of the bathtub. I got mad and told him he had to go straight to bed with no stories. I cooled down a few minutes later and realized I had overreacted. I told him I was sorry that I’d gotten so irritated and I had reconsidered and that he didn’t have to go to bed yet. But now I’m worried that I’ve lost credibility with him. Was there a better way to handle that?

Kerry: Chris, I think the way you handled it was completely appropriate. It’s ok to teach your kids that sometimes we adults re-think things and change our minds. It’s also ok to model that a normal part of being a grown-up is making mistakes and then fixing them.

If you want to bring a little more playfulness into your parenting, you can try a “re-do.” That’s where you tell your son that you didn’t like the way you handled the bathtub scene and that you would like to re-do it. You playfully back out of the bathroom and pretend you are talking backwards. Then you stick your head back in and ask if he’s ready for you to do that scene over. You can say, “Bathtub Scene, Take Two.” You might even ask him to splash the water again! (That’s optional.) Then you go in and handle the situation the way you wished you had done it in the first place.
Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and
Family Therapist
and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps
parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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One, Two, Boom! Connecting with Your Shared-Custody Child

Do you share custody of your children with their other parent and feel excluded from the other half of their lives?

OneTwoBoomA single dad told me how he didn’t like that he doesn’t know about a full half of his kids’ lives because they are at their mom’s house 50% of the time.  This innovative dad came up with a game to encourage more sharing.  He plays “rock, paper, scissors,” (renamed “one, two, boom” by him) and whoever loses tells the other something that he doesn’t know about the other.  Dad enjoys learning more about his son’s world and the son loves to hear his dad tell stories about himself as a boy or things that happened during his day.  The seven-year old boy now asks to play the game every time he gets in the car with his dad.

 
Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and
Family Therapist
and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps
parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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Do You Think These Parents Should Feel Guilty?

Do you think the following parents ought to feel guilty for their actions?

Parent A:

I said to my teenage daughter, “I wash clothes that are placed in the hamper.” They’ve been lying in a heap in her room…so she doesn’t have anything else to wear except her least favorite outfits.

Parent B:

My son was getting more irritable and defiant every day. It seemed related to how much time he was spending playing his video games. I took the video games and told him that I loved him too much to see him getting so addicted to them.

Parent C:

My ten-year-old asked for a cell phone. I let her know that she could have one when she could afford the entire cost…including the data plan.

Parent D:

Our 23-year-old son was sitting around all day watching television. We told him that we were fine with him living with us for a while if he was doing his best to finish school or get a job. He continued to be so disrespectful and lazy that we asked him to leave.

What do you think? Should these parents feel guilty for what they’ve done? Do you have to feel guilty when you set and enforce reasonable limits with your kids?

Of course not!

The goal is to set these limits in ways that allow us to go to bed each night knowing the following:
I did it out of love.
I did it with as much empathy as I could muster.
I did it because I care more about my child’s long-term well-being than my own short-term emotions.


Dr. Charles Fay
©2010 Jim Fay, Charles Fay, Ph.d.& Love and Logic® Institute

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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Rowdy at Dinner

I frequently receive letters and emails from my readers sharing their successes and failures as parents. While I prefer reading the success stories, I also find value in parenting failures because it gives me an opportunity to reach out and offer advice on a topic that I’m passionate about, Love and Logic® parenting. I look for opportunities to encourage parents to reward good behavior instead of punishing bad behavior. My advice seemed to pay off for this mother and in the following letter, she shares her success.
Boy has mouth full of pasta in kitchen

Dinnertime Dilemma

Dear Kerri,
I just had to share my recent success story and offer a big “Thank You”. I’m a fan of your work and a big believer in the reward system you teach so I decided to give it a try. Suffice it to say, I was thrilled with the results. I have a 5-year old son who is a non-stop little ball of energy. Although this energy is wonderful to watch, there are times that I wish he would sit still and mind his manners.
That said; dinnertime has always been a challenge. This should be a time for our family to come together and share the events of our day, express our thanks for food and family and enjoy each other’s company. Lately, it’s turned into a time that my husband and I dread. The delight has been drained from our family time due to the poor manners and temper tantrums of our 5-year old. It’s a constant struggle to get him to eat, sit still, use his napkin and clear his plate. I was so tired of being frustrated that I decided to change my method of parenting and enlist your reward system.

Instead of focusing on his bad behavior, I offered a tangible (and immediate) reward for his good behavior. Every time he responded to a request, he would receive a token. When he was asked to come to the table, sit still, eat his dinner and clear his plate, he was given a token. I also made sure to tell him how proud I was of his good manners. I saw an immediate change in his behavior.
Every now and then I would allow a “bad manners night” to let him enjoy dinner without feeling like he’s constantly under a microscope. On these nights we would make dinnertime fun and not worry so much about table manners. Within a short amount of time he was responding to all my requests and using table manners that any mother would be proud of.

Since starting your reward system I’ve noticed a positive change in my son’s attitude. He looks forward to acting like a well-mannered little gentleman and really likes the positive reinforcement (and tokens) that accompany his good manners. He’s anxious to please me and he knows that, when he exhibits good manners at the table, there’s an immediate reward for his good behavior.
Thank you for your parenting advice; it’s worked wonders for our son!

Sincerely,
Lillian H.
Boise, ID



Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2013 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents


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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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Happy Starts to Preschool

Dear Kerry,
I’m a stay at home mom of twin boys and I knew that starting preschool would be difficult for them to deal with. New places, new faces, a new routine and the absence of mom would be a lot for them to digest so; I decided that instead of dreading this wonderful event in the lives of my boys, I would embrace it with Love and Logic® parenting. Following are some of the ideas that were a success for me and my boys; I hope your readers find them useful.

Loads of Love

Before we head to class, I gave each of them plenty of hugs and kisses. Not just a few, I overloaded them with lots of love, snuggles, hugs and kisses while asking them if they had gotten enough to last until pick up time. I also asked if I could give one more kiss on their nose, forehead, cheek, chin, etc. just to make sure that they were covered from head to toe in love. When they decided that they had received enough loving to make it through the day, I would take them into class.

Practice Makes Perfect

In order to get my boys accustomed to a new experience, I decided to practice the preschool routine in an effort to turn their jitters to joy. I held preschool practice sessions on days when my boys didn’t have to go to school. From walking out the door with backpacks in hand, to walking into the classroom and saying goodbye, my boys became familiar with the process and what to expect. I made sure to document this process with lots of pictures in order to remember our practice routine and show my boys how to successfully arrive at preschool with zero anxiety and fuss.

Preschool Platter

Another great idea that worked well for my boys was a menu board. The board showed pictures ranging from a crying and screaming child that’s holding his mother’s leg to a happy and hopping child that’s glad to be going to school. There was enough variety on the board that my boys were able to plan out their week of going to school, which allowed them to decide how they wanted to arrive at school. If either boy started to fuss on day one, I would offer a reminder that we’re “happy and hopping into class today” and that “crying and fussing” isn’t on the menu until Wednesday. This was a perfect way to create a positive experience while having fun.

Lastly, I found the following books to be helpful; “The Kissing Hand”, “The Invisible String” and “I Love You All Day Long”. They were great tools that prepared my boys for preschool while helping them to understand and enjoy the experience. I hope these ideas are helpful!
Thanks,
Jan
Auburn, CA
Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2013 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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