Class 5 Discussion


Choose one transition in your day that has been difficult lately, and use my techniques described above to make it into a fun structured activity for the kids. Practice it all week, reporting on Wednesday and Saturday how things go.  Remember to Set Yourself Up for Success, and to make your transition into an activity that’s enjoyable all on its own.  Avoid announcing The End of the Fun.

Successes?  Challenges?  Questions?

Please share at least twice during the week, and respond to at least one other person’s post.  When you share for the first time, start your own Comment box.  Then when you give us an update later in the week, press “reply to this comment” on your own original sharing.  This way it helps us keep everyone straight, since we can’t see one another.  And of course when you reply to someone else’s comment, press “reply to comment” on their comment.


  1. Hi All, I am reading a new book and it’s FANTASTIC! It’s called “The Soul of Discipline: The Simplicity Parenting Approach to Warm, Firm, and Calm Guidance–From Toddler to Teens.” It’s by Kim John Payne, who wrote Simplicity Parenting. This book is on an approach to discipline that grows with your child. Some of it will obviously not be relevant to you yet, but lots of it will, and the rest will become relevant as your child grows! Has anyone else read it? It just came out.

    • Yuanyuan Shen says

      I heard of this new book. Not sure if I will buy it. English is not my native language. When I read Simplicity Parenting, I read very slowly – I had to read several times to understand those long sentences. I don’t know when I have time to read this book, although I’m sure it’s very good. Anything from this book you think is worth sharing?

  2. Angie Kochukudy says

    I haven’t read the book, but it sounds good. Will have to look into it.
    So, my update; I haven’t been a very…imaginative or “intentional” parent these last couple weeks, it seems. Just really distracted by so many other things going on, so we have been a bit on autopilot. I think that the lesson about “connecting” is still being applied; I DO consciously notice when she is needing more connection and try to provide it. I’m just not always getting her the kind of attention that she needs, and so it doesn’t always work.

    Regarding this week’s assignment; I can’t say I’ve gotten anywhere close to making our bedtime rituals into an enjoyable activity all on their own, though I’ve been thinking about it as we muddle through at times, wondering how I can make it better. My biggest insight is just how HARD it is to stop “narrating” what we’re going to be doing. Somehow, that is just ingrained in me…perhaps from before she was verbal, when I would just talk to her, tell her what we were doing. And I think also somewhere in some parenting thing, I heard that preparing kids for what is coming can help them transition. Ha! So, not working.

    I DID do something new this morning, however, when she wanted to do her own thing, rather than get dressed. Instead of asking her to get dressed, I started trying to put on her clothes, and she had to help me, cause I got stuck. It started her laughing, and I was able to get her in motion with little resistance. So, there are little pieces that I’m getting, but the strategizing and planning part hasn’t been happening. And next week, I’m away from her all week, so we’ll see what happens when we get back together.

    I’ve been having a problem with her and nursing; at night, she wants to nurse to sleep, and I just can’t sit there that long (legs start to cramp, bedtime drags out indefinitely…). I started using a timer, and she knows that when the timer goes off, it’s time to either switch sides or nursies go night-night. But while she switches with no problem, she just does NOT want to unlatch when it’s time. I have tried to “prepare her” by reminding her that when the timer goes off, nursies are over and no crying…It helped one time, but she basically has a FIT most nights. I just don’t know what to do, and hate her getting so upset right before she’s supposed to go to sleep. Last night, I tried to switch it up; nursed, then did the story time…result? She was WIDE awake and didn’t go to sleep until 45 minutes later. Oops. Ideas? (though she may wean after being separated from me for a week…sad)

    • Angie, This is all good stuff. Noticing is the first step to making changes!

      You notice that you have a hard time not narrating what’s coming up–one way to stop this is to work on being more IN THE MOMENT: so don’t stop narrating, just narrate what you guys are doing right now, instead of talking about what’s coming up. If you feel like you’re just talking too much, singing songs for different activities can help you talk less.

      I don’t have any great tips about not nursing at night, except to suggest that you look at what nursing does for your daughter: it helps her relax her body and prepare for sleep. Like you say, the issue may resolve itself since you’ll be apart for a week, but if it pops up again, think about how you can achieve the result (supporting her to relax her body and prepare for sleep) without actually nursing. Make sense?

  3. Yuanyuan Shen says

    When we are about to leave the train garden in the arboretum, I usually say “let’s see the black train running around the track for the last 10 laps, then we will go home.” They know I mean it, so they are OK with it, although they are not very happy. This week, I wanted to try something new. Since the train garden is what interests them most, I can’t think of something in the arboretum that would draw them to somewhere else, so I said “let’s have some snack in our car.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t so effective. I had to go back to the “last 10 laps”.

    We finally tide up together a few times this week. It feels really good to have meals while no toy on the floor! But sometimes I choose not to tide up because we’re running late.

    Washing hands before meal or snack time has been one of my daily challenges. When I call Austin, he says “Lydia” – he means Lydia goes first. When I call Lydia, she says “Austin”. When I say who wants to wash hands first, no one comes. Walking like animals did work for one day or two. Then Lydia loses interest – she doesn’t like physical movements as much as Austin does. Any other ideas?

    When we’re leaving home, when I help one twin put on shoes, the other may wander off, looking for toys to play. Should I put a bench near the door, and ask them to sit while waiting?

    When the twins get into the minivan, they like to climb onto the rear row, where Justin sits. Their car seats are in the middle row. I often let them choose: I put them into car seats, or, they climb onto their own car seats by themselves. They both like to do it by themselves. So it worked at first. Then it becomes not very effective.

    From lunch to nap, it seems easy and natural for them to have some big movements after lunch. How to wind down when they’re still excited?

    In last week’s discussion, you said you use a couple of songs to calm things down when kids are overly excited. Can you remember to sing them in our last call? Thank you!

    I try to teach the twins to wash hands by themselves. They both like to do, but Lydia often gets upset when I try to help her. It also happens when she tries to put on her shoes and I try to help.

    When we go shopping, sometimes Justin wants to buy something – food or toy. If we don’t want to buy it, my husband would say “we don’t have that money.” I don’t like it. Justin will find out it’s a lie. Is there a better way to tell him we don’t want to buy it and not make him too disappointed? Today Austin was playing a toy truck in a store, when we had to leave and we didn’t want to buy it, he was really frustrated. I guess the way to tell a 22 month old is probably different from the way to tell a 4yo.

    So we went shopping today, and had lunch there before we headed back home around 1pm. Of course the twins fell asleep in the car. We didn’t move them when we arrived home. Half an hour later, Lydia woke up crying, so Austin woke up, too. I felt lucky that they both fell asleep again in their beds after 10-20 minutes. I’m not sure if they will sleep again next time. How would you arrange 3-hour holiday shopping (or weekend picnic)? 10am-1pm seems the only time slot that is possible, but it’s in the risk of a short nap in the car. Should we make it shorter?

    Austin often prefer his own hands to his utensils. I don’t mind a 22 month old eating with hands sometimes. But Justin often follows. Should I be strict with Justin? or Austin also?

    I feel Justin has much less tantrum now. Something has worked. But lately he is being very silly. Sometimes he mimics his siblings’ silly behaviors in an exaggerated way; sometimes he started on his own, then the twins surely follow. We often get angry at him because he is doing something he clearly knows he shouldn’t. So lately the tantrums often happen after we have to tell him very sternly to stop doing something disruptive, or physically stop him. Overall, I feel he has much less anger now, which is a very good thing. I’m just afraid to hear his silly laughter, which means he is doing something silly… Any ideas for his silliness?

    • Yuanyuan Shen says

      I feel the biggest challenge for me is still toy-fighting. Although I see some progress with Justin, Austin and Lydia still need me every time. And I realized I made a mistake when I taught Justin to say “can I play with it” without “when you’re done”. So he expects to play the toy immediately. If he can’t, he gets frustrated.

      I often feel I have to be 100% with them, to avoid any tussle in the beginning. When I have to leave them to cook or wash dishes, I usually will hear squealing in a minute. This makes me very annoyed. Sometimes I feel very frustrated that I can’t finish a task as simple as cutting some fruits. Sometimes I lose my temper when I see Austin is sitting on Lydia’s back, and Justin wants to sit on her too!

      • Yuanyuan, let him know that when he asks “can I play with it,” that they can say yes or they can say no, and that he needs to respect their wishes. Then watch carefully and if they don’t want to give it up, say, “Oh, it looks like Austin is saying, “Not right now. You can use this when I’m done.” And then help him move on to something else. If he tries to throw a little fit, you could suggest that maybe he could try trading something for the toy he wants, but remind him again that Austin might say yes and might say no (like that scene in the video footage). He will need help being able to accept a “not right now” answer from his siblings, until he gets the hang of it.

        I would definitely try taking one child with you into the kitchen or to do another task. Or set the kids up doing activities in different areas. But at this age, you can’t expect to have long periods of time without them needing you to support them in their social interactions. They absolutely WILL gain that ability IF you teach them how, but it’s not going to happen overnight or even in a matter of weeks; it will likely be several months before you can really expect them to play successfully without you there.

    • Yuanyuan, It sounds like some real progress is being made! And of course there are many things that could still be better…parenting is always a process, never a finished product. Let’s do some brainstorming:

      -For handwashing, since nobody wants to go first, I would establish an order (say, Lydia then Austin then Justin? You choose what you think would go most smoothly) and then have the kids always wash their hands in that order. Pretty soon they’ll “know” when their turn is and be able to settle into the routine. You might also try adding something special to handwashing: give a special drop of lavender oil to the back of their hands with eye contact and kisses after hands are washed, perhaps? Or go another route: making sound effects while rinsing hands, another while scrubbing hands, etc. etc.

      -I think a bench by the door to help keep things on track while getting out the door is a GREAT idea. At Rainbow Bridge we kept two kid-sized chairs by the door that were our “changing chairs.” If everyone was getting ready we could pull more chairs over so each kid had their own changing chair. Then each child can work on getting their shoes on, while I help one and then the other, but always make sure that I’m talking to all of them and keeping their attention from wandering too far.

      -When strategies work the first few times but then stop working, that’s telling you that it was effective in connecting when there was novelty involved, but once the novelty wears off, it doesn’t feel connecting anymore. Don’t give up, just work on finding something new to try. Turn your hand into a puppet that’s in the twin’s car seat that is calling, “Austin, Austin, I’m so lonely! Come sit on me!” If that’s super fun, it might work for a week or two weeks, but maybe it’s not that fun and it works only once or not at all. Then try, “I have a secret to tell you! Come get buckled in, and I’ll tell you what it is,” and then when they’re buckled in, whisper, “I love you SOOO much!” If that gets stale quickly too, then perhaps talking in a funny voice. But remember, each time they can do it the fun way, or the not-fun way. You hope they do it the fun way, but either way, it’s going to happen. You’re letting them know that when you say that it’s time to get into the car seat (or whatever it is), then it needs to happen. You’re cultivating that Habit if Yes.

      OK, I’ll write more in a little bit. Keep it up! You’re doing great!

    • OK, more brainstorming!

      For getting into car seats, I think that it’s really fine to say, “You can get in yourself, or I’ll help you,” and if they don’t hop to it, then you immediately move in to help them. Chances are pretty good that suddenly they’ll be like, “Me! Me!” pushing your hands away. Then you can say, “I’m sorry, the time for choosing is done. Next time you can choose to do it yourself, when I ask.” This lets them know that when you offer the choice, they need to act and not just ignore you. Of course, when they DO do what you’ve asked, make it as fun and as connecting as possible. But if they ignore you, then you get boring and efficient, and let them know that they’ll have another chance the next time.

      From lunch to nap, if they’re not ready to calm down yet, then I wonder if you couldn’t move lunch just a bit earlier (say, 10 minutes) and have more Big Movement time so that they can feel really satisfied and a bit worn out. This is not just regular play time–keep them moving, running, and jumping. On my website in the slider there’s an article called “Does Your Child Run Away?” and it has a photo of little ones running. That was actually our after-lunch-but-before-nap running time. I would start by running with them, and once they were well established I would just say, “Ready, Steady, Go!” each time they reached one end of the play yard. They would really run for about 15 minutes, and they all slept like CHAMPS!

      I sang the song you asked for, in the call.

      When Lydia wants to do something by herself and gets mad when you try to help, be sure that you use imagery or a little song or rhyme when you help her. Even though she’s too little to speak much, she can understand a lot more than she can say. So you might say, “Those little shoes are having such a hard time going on. I think that they want to gobble your feet right up!” Then take one shoe, and as you’re pushing it on, you say, “Gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble!” In this way, she’s likely to be able to accept your help much more readily.

      Since the twins still need a good nap in the afternoon, I would do your best to make your outings a big shorter, even if that means cutting short the fun. Well-rested kids are more easy-going and more resilient, so I would protect their sleep as much as you possibly can. You’ll be able to do longer outings eventually.

      For using utensils (or not) I would suggest that you start encouraging Austin more actively, and be a bit more strict with Justin (unless it’s finger-food). “I need you to eat with your fork so that Austin can learn. He’s just learning to eat with his fork! He will be watching you.” Then, if he still chooses not to, “I’m sorry, it’s important for grown-ups and older brothers to eat with their forks. Does your food need to take a rest until you’re ready?” Conversely, you could also choose to simply ignore Justin’s eating with his fingers, as long as it is not too messy or wild. It’s just getting annoyed that I’d try to avoid; as long as it gets that emotional “zing” out of you, it’s going to be hard for Justin to stop.

      I wrote a blog post on Silly Defiance:

  4. Kristen Cronin says

    Hi all, I’m sorry I’m coming in very late on my response here, but transitions are probably the most difficult thing for Trevor (and for me!). Last week was key, and I felt like I did well on some things, and failed miserably at others! I’ll give the following situation as an example of what we experienced:

    Last night, I gave Trevor a bath, we built castles using magnatiles, and when it was time to go upstairs for bathroom/bedtime, I didn’t warn him or even use the word bedtime. Instead, we pretended we were airplanes and flew upstairs all the way to the bathroom. He used the potty and did his hand washing/brushing like a champ. Then, we read some books. He was completely happy and calm, and I felt like we had really been connecting over the past couple hours. I put him down in his crib, and after a couple minutes, he just freaked out. He stood up screaming and crying and trying to climb out, telling me to take him out because he wanted to read another book. He was screaming at the top of his lungs “get me out! get me out! I want a snack, I want to read a book, I want….” I tried singing to him, rubbing his back…anything to calm him down. It didn’t work, and I had to leave him screaming in his crib. It was absolutely terrible. Five minutes after I left, however, he quieted down and went right to sleep.

    This happens most night now, and I’m just wondering what I’m doing wrong here??!! I don’t want to leave him screaming in his crib, I feel like I’m traumatizing him. At the same time, it seems the only way to get him to finally give in to bedtime. I’ve really been connecting with him and focusing on him, and using the methods we talked about here, but it doesn’t seem to improve bedtime and I’m so sad about it. Any feedback would be much appreciated. 🙂

    • Kristin, that is a big improvement! Way to go!

      And what to do when it all falls apart at the end?

      The fact that he only cried for five minutes is a good sign that he’s on the cusp of being ready to change his behavior. What he needs from you, in order to do this, is the message, “Saying goodnight is hard, but I know this is the right decision.” Now, before you get upset at me–I’m NOT saying that you need to leave him to cry alone. You don’t, unless you feel like that’s the right decision. Instead, you can absolutely stay with him and let him cry until he’s ready to settle down. What you don’t want to do, however, is try to make things “all better.” Because it’s sad to feel so connected to you, and have to give that up in order to go to sleep. It’s OK for that to be sad. You can’t change that. But every time you give in to that “one last kiss” “one last sip of water” “one last book” or any other “one last,” you’re letting him know that if he just pitches a fit, then he can push back the end of that wonderful connection a little more, and a little more. But rather than reassuring him, all this really does is teach him to throw more of a fit to see if it will push the ending back a little more.

      On the other hand, when you calmly and lovingly let him know that the time for interaction is done, then he can be sad, and then be done. And soon he will discover that falling asleep is not that bad, and that he doesn’t have to fall apart. It’s just when interaction is SOMETIMES done but sometimes not, that he will need to keep testing, and testing, and testing. Does that make sense? Some kids feel reassured to have you stay in the room in loving mediation while they learn that the time for interaction is done, while for others it just enrages them even more to have you present but not responsive. So you’ll want to try it and see which is going to feel more reassuring for him (and feasible for you) while lovingly ensuring that the time for interaction is done. When he can feel your sureness, he will be able to let go of trying just one more time.

      • Kristen Cronin says

        Thank you so very much, Faith. I’m so relieved to know that leaving him to cry for that short amount of time is not going to cause trauma. I can see that he is pushing boundaries just to see how far I’ll go (ie: how long I’ll stay, if I read one more book, etc). The reason I stay and try to make everything “ok” is because I don’t want him to feel abandoned when he’s upset. I now realize that I’m actually doing him a favor by NOT staying and feeding into the behavior. I run into this same question with tantrums. Do I stay and hold/ reassure him that I’m here for him, or do I separate myself to allow him time to calm down on his own? It seems that, as long as I’m connecting with him during other times, he might be just fine working through the upset feelings on his own. Does this sound right? Thanks again!!

        • Kristin, One of the most important things we can do to support our children’s development is to support them as they learn to control their emotions. This is called “Self-Regulation” in academic circles, and it’s one of the prime indicators for future success (academic success, relationships success, career success). What will support your little guy as he learns to bring his big feelings under control? In some circumstances, this will be to stay with him and give him love, or humor, or jolly him along. In other circumstances, this will be for you to step back and give him some space to figure things out on his own. Stepping back doesn’t mean that you’re not supporting him, and not jumping in to solve things doesn’t mean that your kid will be traumatized.

          One of the biggest misunderstandings of Attachment Theory (in my opinion) is this idea that if kids cry this is somehow damaging. The study that many of these assumptions come from was of children left in hospitals without their parents for many days, with nurses and doctors who let them cry for hours and hours and hours at a time. After two weeks of that, these children would give up and stop crying, and when they were finally picked up by their parents, their relationships were damaged. This was heart-wrenchingly documented by James Robertson in video footage that changed our assumptions about what young children need. Other examples include children in orphanages who spend the majority of their time in cribs and nobody responds to their crying. These studies were NOT on children who cry for 20 minutes while falling asleep. Being caring and responsive is NOT the same as never letting our children cry. It is not only OK to let children struggle in age-appropriate ways, it is important for them to develop resliency (the ability to pick themselves up when things don’t go the way they wanted). We can be loving and responsive and cheer our children on as they learn to deal with being frustrated (without jumping in to fix things). We can be loving and responsive and stand back to wait until our children are done having a tantrum before offering a hug. Sometimes kids need us to swoop in make everything better, but sometimes they need us to stand back, and it’s really our OWN discomfort with their crying that we’re responding to.

          OK, I’ll get off my soap-box now! But I feel them very strongly because I see so many children who don’t know HOW to recover when things don’t go their way, because their parents are so afraid of their unhappiness. Part of the task of parenting in the toddler & preschool years is to switch from responding to a child’s every whim (as is good and right when they are infants) to helping them learn these important skills of not being overwhelmed by their own emotions.

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