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How to Use the Giggles to Encourage Toddler Cooperation

Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. – Victor Borge


Ever since she was old enough to leave me, my daughter has gone shopping with her dad on Saturday mornings. She loves it.

One morning, when she was two years old, she absolutely refused to get dressed. It was clear she really did want to go out, but as soon as I tried to put her clothes on, she would wriggle and run away. I tried reasoning with her, talking in a serious voice, and explaining that if she didn’t get dressed it would be too late to go.

It didn’t work.

I’m sure most parents of toddlers are familiar with a scenario like this. Our children can behave in ways that seem completely irrational. The question is what to do about it. The shouting, grumpy approach may work sometimes, but it comes with a sinking feeling that maybe this isn’t the best way to go about parenting.

 

 

In the heat of the moment, like any stressed-out parent, I sometimes forget there is a more effective method. All that rationalizing and reasoning is not the language of children. Their language is one of play and laughter. Suddenly, I remembered my training as a Hand in Hand parenting instructor.

I put my daughter’s socks on her hands and her trousers on her head. She laughed a lot, so I continued the game. Then I got her teddy dressed in her clothes, picked him up, and said, “Come on, R, it’s time to go!” When I got to the front door, I looked at the teddy and said, “Oh no! That’s not R, that’s Teddy!”

My daughter laughed and laughed. After a few minutes of playing like this, she was trying to dress herself. A short while later, she left with her dad, and I enjoyed a nice, quiet morning to myself.

Believe it or not, toddlers are not completely irrational beings. When children feel closely connected to the adults around them, they are naturally, good, loving, and co-operative. They don’t actually want to make our lives difficult. They want to get on well with us and co-operate with daily tasks. But sometimes their feelings get in the way.

When children experience stress or upset, they can no longer feel that sense of close connection. The limbic (the socio-emotional part of the brain) senses a kind of emotional emergency, and the pre-frontal cortex (the part of the brain responsible for rational, reasonable behavior) can’t function well. When upset, kids literally can’t think clearly or listen well to our reasoning. As a result, their behavior goes off-track. Their misbehavior is like a red flag they’re sending out to say, “Help, I can’t think! I need some connection!”

In these cases, parents need to speak the language of emotion. We need to have compassion for our children. We need to say goodbye to the old behavioral model of punishment and reward. Some parenting methods focus on manipulating the child for a quick ‘fix’ in the moment. Bribes, rewards, and manipulation also create a more transactional relationship, where both parent and child think about what they want to ‘get’ out of a situation. In the long run, these parenting methods actually make things harder because they don’t address the underlying emotional cause of the behavior.

That’s where Giggle Parenting comes in. It’s a fun and simple way to connect with our children when they’re out of sorts – and it works. Laughter releases stress and emotions, lowers blood pressure, stimulates feel-good endorphins, and builds connection between parent and child. When children feel well connected, they can think and cooperate with us again.

Giggle Parenting can be applied to many of the power struggles we face as parents of toddlers. My daughter went through a phase during which she would make a dash for it whenever her pajamas came out at bedtime. This was a sure sign she still had some energy to work off. Letting her laugh and play, and connecting with her playfully, helped us transition into quiet time. Factoring time for this into her bedtime routine helped her sleep more deeply, in part, because laughter releases melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep. Also, children simply sleep better when they feel closely connected to us.

Sometimes parents warn children away from laughter play. We all know the saying, “It’ll all end in tears.’’ (It’s worth bearing in mind that if a child gets upset shortly after laughing, or the next day, it’s not necessarily a sign of anything wrong in the present moment.) Tears have been found to contain the stress hormone, cortisol. This explains why children – and adults – may cry for what seems like no apparent reason; they are releasing stress. Tears might be triggered by an over-stimulating day or by any upsets, big or small, that they have experienced in the past. They may bring up feelings that have been simmering under the surface.

Listening and giving your child warmth and empathy during these moments prompts them to tune into your calm, loving state. They will learn to release their feelings and regulate their emotions, as long as you stay with them offering cuddles when needed. It won’t be long until they’re giggling again.

Giggle Parenting takes time, but it’s worth the investment. It gives children the sense that the adults in their lives are available for them. It focuses on building the relationship and releasing the feelings that get in the way of your child feeling closely connected to you. Fun and laughter could even be considered the currency of parenting. When we sprinkle it througout our daily tasks, life goes much more smoothly. You may even save time in the long run.

So the next time you ask your child to get dressed, have some fun. Laugh with her. Over time, she will internalize the deep sense of fun, love, and connection she shares with you, which can extend beyond toddlerhood, into the teenage years and beyond.

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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy.You've got this.

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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.


Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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