I struggle with how social my child is compared to me

I am torn. His desire to like and be liked is inspiring to me. But I am also a worrier and to me an attitude of "I will do anything to be liked" seems synonymous with "I will go along with anything faster than you can say 'peer pressure.'"

I struggle with how social my child is compared to me

When I got the teacher's note that my son is having trouble getting along with his classmates, I instantly felt sick. This is an ongoing problem for him. It's not a simple problem, but mostly his teacher thinks it comes down to this: He wants to be friends with everyone so badly. Badly enough that he'll do anything to get their attention, and his efforts are so relentless that he usually only succeeds in alienating the classmates he is trying to attract.

I want to help him more than anything. And I have no idea how to help him. My dirty little secret is that I don't really want to be friends with anyone.


Okay, that might be an exaggeration.

I want to be seen as friendly and I want to be liked back by people I like. I have a few close friends who I have known for many years but, at heart, I am a true introvert and my biggest desire is mostly to spend as much time either with my immediate family or by myself.

That is my personality, but some of my preferences were also shaped by experience. I experienced some bullying in grade school, and in middle school it dawned on me as a poor farm kid that I was never going to have enough money to buy all the clothing, things and experiences that most kids in our affluent school district could afford.

I remember very clearly the day I realized this in the eighth grade. That was the day I had this thought: If I'm never going to fit in I don't want to fit in.

I've had this attitude for more than 30 years now and have lived quite happily within its constraints. I have been able to make the friends I wanted to make; I've largely held the professional jobs I wanted to hold; I fell in love and was able to convince someone else they were in love with me. I have two little boys whose company I enjoy endlessly.

But every time I get a note like this from my son's teachers, I become more aware of my system's shortcomings.

When he was small and would play with others, afterward I would ask him questions like "Who did you have the most fun with today?" Or "Who made you laugh the most today?"

And he would answer, "I had fun with everybody!" and "They all made me laugh!"

I loved the optimism of these answers, but now I think of them with a feeling that can probably best be described as dismay. He really does like everyone. He wants to play with everybody. He wants to do everything they do. And for me, that is a problem.

I am torn. His desire to like and be liked is inspiring to me. But I am also a worrier and to me an attitude of "I will do anything to be liked" seems synonymous with "I will go along with anything faster than you can say 'peer pressure.'"

How do you teach a balance between getting along and going along? Saying yes to everything until it's time to say no? More specifically, for me, how do you teach that balance when the only thing that's ever worked for you personally is to simply remove yourself from most interpersonal equations?

I haven't figured it out yet. In the meantime, I tell my son all the things I believe. That he will always belong, 100%, with us and his extended family. That if you just do your own thing, people with similar interests will find you. That, weirdly (and I've never understood this either), sometimes the harder you try to make people like you the less likely they are to do so.

I tell him these things. But I also recognize that for him they are not the whole truth. He will need to develop his own system, and his system is going to be more open and flexible and friendly than mine. If I want to help him, I am going to have to model that type of open behavior. I am going to have to make myself vulnerable with people in a way that I haven't for many, many years. This is going to mean asking for help.

So I'm starting here. How do you teach your children to make the best friendships possible? In the bigger picture: How do you teach your children skills that you might not ever have developed for yourself? Thank you for letting me ask, and be vulnerable, here.

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After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.


Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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