Saturday, September 21, 2013

Time-Outs & Time-Ins

After having a very frustrating day dealing with an impossibly defiant child, I decided that I needed to reevaluate my discipline techniques and possibly make some changes. As children grow and evolve, caregivers should recognize, rethink, and respond. I've had too many power struggles this week, all of which could have been avoided had I just done something differently.

Currently I have a couple ways of dealing with unacceptable behavior. First and foremost I ask the child to please stop doing whatever it is they are doing and I give a reason why. Or if it's a house rule that has been broken, I will ask the child if that type of behavior is allowed at Chelsea's house. The answer is always no, of course, but cheeky children like to smile and say yes. From there, they're either redirected to a new activity, a different part of the play area, or in some cases, a Time-Out.

I love using redirection. It doesn't usually evoke those strong tantrum feelings that issuing a Time-Out does. It's so simple and it feels mostly positive. I'm giving the child an alternative, not an order and the child often has some say in it. The problem I have with redirection is that if it doesn't work, I have to take things to the next level, and there are some instances where redirection isn't appropriate.

At Chelsea's house, you get one warning to try and correct your behavior yourself. I firmly believe that the more warnings and chances you give a child, the more and more chances and warnings you'll have to give in the long run and you won't actually make any progress. Imagine your city's by-law stated that a police officer could pull you over for speeding and give you a warning 3-5 times at his discretion before issuing a ticket. At what point would you minimize your speeding? Do you see where I'm going with this? Kids are playing roulette wondering how many times they can get away with something before somebody steps in and actually hands out a ticket.

After one warning the toy or activity is taken away or cleaned up, or a Time-Out is issued. In this house, defiance and not listening are the two biggest problems. I can't redirect a child who isn't following instructions. There's no toy to take away when a child is acting defiant. The best I can do is offer a choice and let the children choose for themselves what happens next, but sometimes I need to pull rank and make an executive decision. Time-Out is the only option left it seems. But lately it feels like I'm using it too much.

So, I started researching Time-Ins. It is a place that is slightly away from others and it's purpose is to help a child learn how to calm down by themselves. The best uses for it are for when a child is having a tantrum, a child is feeling emotional, a child is frustrated, or a child just generally needs to take a break before they explode. The Time-In is equipped with a big sitting pillow and a box of sensory items to help a child get back to being calm. Things I've read include snow globes, stress balls, odd shaped or textured balls, stuffed animals, little books, container of rice and spoon for digging, mirror, crayons and paper, rubix cube, pin-wheels, bubbles, something to smell like a candle, or even an ipod to listen to relaxing music or a book on tape.

I love this idea so much and I do plan on adding it to my arsenal! But I'll be honest, I sort of have my doubts. The majority of my issues with the kids are listening/calmly defiant ones, not emotional/aggressive ones. Does a child who says in a strong, firm voice, NO, when I ask to clean up the toys need a Time-In or a Time-Out? Does a child who ignores me when I try speaking to them about their behavior deserve a Time-In or a Time-Out? Does a child who doesn't listen to instructions after being asked twice need a Time-In or a Time-Out? It's not so cut and dry.

I understand the long-term psychological advantages of using a Time-In over a Time-Out in certain instances, but for my specific plight, I'm still confused. Time-Out is supposed to be a brief withdrawal from attention to calm down and reflect. Time-In can be preventative, should last as long as the child needs it to, and is supposed to teach a child appropriate ways to calm down, reflect, and analyze.

Discipline means to teach, not to punish. It certainly seems like Time-In should do a better job of that. But for a child that's already not listening, will asking them to have a Time-In really make a difference? I can't force a kid to sit on a pillow and shake a snow globe. Then that's just a cushy Time-Out with toys, isn't it? Either way, Time-Outs are not effective at correcting this behavior at this time and I do not wish to waste any more energy on it. The smug satisfaction a caregiver feels when they've "won" by successfully enforcing punitive discipline tactics pushing the child to the point where he or she gives up, cries, and obeys, is not the sort of relationship I want with my kids. Ever. I'll let you know soon enough if this works out.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Milk vs Juice

I drink water. A cool glassful on it's own, or often I'll add a frozen lemon wedge or a squirt of lemon juice. It's so refreshing! It's the perfect drink to rehydrate or accompany any meal. I rarely drink anything else. (Except my guilty pleasure of chocolate milk.) So, naturally I want Tesla to drink water too. And she does! But I think that she needs some liquid calories too.

My pediatrician recommended she drink no more than 16 oz of milk a day, (or 2 cups if you understand metric better.) He made no mention of what she should drink at other times and we never talked about juice.

I was doing some research online and from multiple sites I read that children should drink unlimited amounts of milk and water, but only 4-6 oz of 100% juice. They claim that juice has too much sugar and too many calories compared to milk and that drinking sugary drinks all the time can fill their little bellies leaving not enough room for real food. Also, the more sugary drinks a child has per day, the more likely the child will be obese.

For the past month, Tesla has been drinking:
10 oz of 3% milk a day
5 oz of Bolthouse Farms 100% fruit juice smoothie (assorted varieties) and
5 oz of Bolthouse Farms 100% Carrot juice daily.

She eats 4 meals a day, so at each meal I offer a cup of milk or juice to drink and the rest of the time she has water. I see milk and juice as a supplement to the meal. She's been drinking her food for her whole life, so I see milk and juice as an extension of that. She can quickly and easily get some of the calories and nutrition she needs without having to spend all that extra time in her high chair.

But I still can't wrap my head around why milk is "healthier" than juice. Why should I cut out one of her juices and replace it with milk? Honestly, I don't believe one is necessarily better than the other. They both have their place. Yes, the juice has twice as much sugar, but it's natural sugar she would have eaten anyway had I fed her all the ingredients in the juice raw.

I think the reason why whole milk is pushed over juice is because A) Dairy is a made up food group that we don't need to consume, but it happens to employ a lot of people and many people make a profit off dairy farming, and B) there is fat in milk and infants and toddlers require a high fat diet for proper growth and development, but so many children exist on carbohydrates, their milk is the only thing they consume that has fat in it.

Tesla eats a high fat diet just like her parents do. The only foods we have trouble getting her to eat are non-starchy vegetables. (She tries a bite or two, but usually just spits it out.) She'll eat them if they're mixed into her omelet, or blended into a drink or smoothie though. It just makes sense for me to give her 100% fruit and vegetable juice. She doesn't need more milk.

Raising a primal baby is so much harder than raising a SAD baby. When she's bugging me for a pre-dinner snack, I can't just throw some goldfish crackers or a cheerios into a bowl to distract her. Any of the acceptable foods to give her are either messy or a choking hazard, except for a stick of cheese, but sometimes she's already had cheese, so there's a fine line between how many ounces of cheese I want her to eat in a day. Filling up a sippy cup with 100% Orange-Carrot juice... vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, potassium... that's pretty quick and easy for an appetizer and damn nutritious too.

As she gets older the juice will be less necessary because she'll be eating more well rounded. I don't think I'm making her at risk for being obese by feeding her twice the daily recommended limit for juice. She's tall and her weight is average, plus we brush her teeth every day. She eats a hell of a lot better than most other kids I've met, and she eats more variety too.
Only time will tell if I'm making a good, healthy choice for my daughter.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Yesterday I ate a few Reece cups. I used to really like them and they were in my top 10 favourite chocolate bars. However, there was one problem; It tasted disgusting. It tasted like sugary, cheap, artificial dollarama candy. Reece used to taste like the perfect blend of peanut butter and chocolate, but now it tastes fake. I just couldn't believe it!

Well, I guess I can believe it. The main ingredient is processed sugar. It's more sugar than chocolate and peanuts and I guess I'm not used to eating that anymore. I still eat processed white and brown sugar, just not as much. I use honey, maple syrup, and organic cane sugar too.

I find that I'm somewhere in between my new way of eating and my old way. Most of the paleo dessert recipes I've tried are not sweet enough and I find myself adding sugar, yet all my old dessert recipes are too sweet and don't taste good like they used to!

Bob's taste-buds haven't adjusted the way mine have yet. Not only did I have a head start on him, but he also still drinks Pepsi, and lately, vodka coolers. Though he has been trying some natural sodas and spritzers and says he enjoys them. Some of them are a tad pricey, but we have a soda stream so one of my goals is to make natural cherry cola for Bob before the year is through.

I'm impressed with the progress my whole family's made. We're trying totally new foods, (squash varieties, plantains, cassava, pumpkin seed butter, dried fruits, coconut products...) we're eating more meat and eggs, eating healthier starches, and more fruits and veggies. I can see a difference in my skin and hair. I can see a reduction in the dark circles under my eyes. My adult acne always flares up at that time of the month and this month my acne was greatly reduced and lasted half as long.

Keeping this family on track is a lot of work. I do an incredible amount of list making, research, and prep work. Cooking primal/paleo meals isn't necessarily difficult, but it's sort of like relearning how to cook and bake. I never used to use recipes because I never needed to. I looked at the ingredients I had and knew just what to do with them. Now I'm working with some unfamiliar ingredients a lot of the time and their cooking properties are totally different from what I'm used to working with. I have to do my research.

Tesla's doctor's appointment is this week and I'm really excited to show off how big and strong my grain-free baby is. I don't know how her doctor's going to react when I tell him she doesn't eat bread or crackers or cereal since that's what most children live off of, but I guess we'll see how the examination goes.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Not What I Was Hoping For

Yesterday was Tesla's first birthday party. Her real birthday is in 2 days. There were 20 people crammed into my mom's living room! We set up a buffet in the kitchen and then everyone balanced their plates in their laps or shared a tv tray.

I have to say, I was disappointed in the mixed reviews I received regarding the food I made. I think only 2% of guests took any of my fruit and nut yogurt parfait. Mom didn't set out bowls and spoons and I had to remind her. My bacon wrapped prunes were polarizing. Some people loved them and some people thought they were just too weird to try. The quiche got eaten up at least.

Mom's "normal" foods of pulled pork and sloppy joe sandwiches got eaten as well as her coleslaw and potato salad. And it wasn't enough that I spent hours making those paleo cupcakes, even piping the frosting. I made enough for everyone and half of them weren't eaten. Mom had to make her own "normal" cake to serve to guests. I feel slightly sabotaged and annoyed, but I won't get into any more details right now.

Tesla ate her entire cupcake though, so I'm glad about that. She looked super cute doing it too!

There were so many presents! There were the usual clothes and toys and books that she received. I'll share some of the really neat ones:
- children's version of the book Les Miserables
- reversible tunic that was hand-sewn by her Aunt
- t-shirt with Nikola Tesla's bust on it to replace the newborn onesie she's long outgrown
- gift certificate to Kid City
- and a big creepy doll that rests on a stand up high on a shelf and you're never ever allowed to play with it. Actually, it's very beautiful and not creepy at all. It's from her great-grandmother and I hope Tesla will treasure it forever and not be afraid of it.

I'm glad we had a big party for her first birthday. Things are going to be different next year though. We had to have the party at my mom's because there wasn't anywhere else to do it with that many people, but if I can help it I would like to do things at my place, my way, with my food, and have total control over the guest list and everything! It was a good party, but there a lot of things I wish would have been different.