Archive for the 'Child Development' Category

Taking Tots to the Theater

My husband and I took our three-year-old, three-feet-of-fun to the movies to see Kung Fu Panda on Friday. He loved it and sat enthralled the entire time from the previews to the end credits. After the movie he talked animatedly about his favorite parts, reenacted some awesome Kung Fu, and played in the arcade for about half an hour and then we went home.

We had a perfect movie going experience. It wasn’t always that way.

Three-feet was two and a half years old when the third Shrek hit the theaters. He loved Shrek 2 (but really who didn’t? Especially Puss ‘N Boots) and could even sit and watch the entire movie. We thought it’d be a fun to take him to Shrek the Third. So we did.

What a nightmare. We took him at the worst possible time, way to early, and tried to make him stay for the show — basically we did everything wrong. He’d missed his nap (oh how I miss naptime) so he was tired and cranky, we went fifteen minutes early, before the previews even started, as we’d done before we had Three-feet, and shockingly, when he got bored, wanted to leave, and started fussing, we tried to make him sit, be quiet, and stay still. We finally gave up and left with a screaming child twenty minutes into the actual movie.

We thought well maybe he just didn’t like the movie which was why he wouldn’t sit and watch it. Nope, we rented it when it came to DVD and he sat through the entire movie spellbound and it quickly replaced Shrek 2 as his favorite.

When Horton Hears a Who came to the movie theaters we endeavored to try again. This time Three-feet was older, now three, and we had a new plan of attack. We would take him to the earliest showing and avoid the crankiness. We would still go early (old habits die hard), but I would hold our seats, and my husband would take Three-feet to the arcade until the movie started. We were also prepared to up and leave at any moment’s notice.

Our plan worked like a dream. We talked up the movie before we went, showing Three-feet posters and pictures — getting him excited. He’d given up his naps by then, but we still went to the earliest showing because we still had surly afternoons sometimes. We got a big tub of popcorn (Three-feet’s favorite food) and then I went and held our seats and the boys found me when the movie started.

At first I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. I think Three-feet might’ve remembered the horribleness of our last theater trip as he wanted to leave when the lights went down. But I’d thought of that, thus the big tub of popcorn. So I sat him on my lap and bribed him into trying out the theater experience with yummy buttery goodness — “You catch more flies with honey…” had echoed in my mind in my mother’s voice. By the time the popcorn was gone, Three-feet had succumbed to the allure of Dr. Seuss’ animated world and sat on my lap the whole movie.

We’d inadvertently created a monster that day — now the kid asks me every day if we can go to the movies. He was beyond delighted when we told him we were taking him to Kung Fu Panda. We still went to the earliest showing, we still hit up the arcade prior to the start of the movie (I’m neurotic about getting to the theater early), but now the glory that is movie popcorn is a treat not a bribe. Although I don’t know if he’d still want to go as bad without it.

Tips for a successful trip to the theater:

Attention span. Before you even think of taking your little one to the movies make sure they have the attention span to enjoy it. If your little one can’t sit through a feature length animation DVD at home then there is no way he’s going to sit through a theater experience. Why waste the money.

Build up. Talk the theater and the movie up with your child. Get them excited about the whole experience. That was something we’d neglected to do the first time around so Three-feet didn’t have a clue as to what was going on. I think it makes a difference. If your child is jazzed by the idea of going you’re more likely to get better results.

Early shows. Go to the early shows, the earlier the better. Kids are always at their best when they’re well rested. They listen better, have better attention spans, and are capable of sitting somewhat still in a theater seat.

Arrival time. I hate navigating a dark theater and being forced to sit in the only seats not taken. So, if you’re like me then you like to go early. There is nothing wrong with going early as long as you don’t expect your little one to sit in his chair from the time you get there until the movie starts as well as the entire movie. So have someone hold your seats for you and go play until the movie starts. It’s one thing to find your way through a dark theater when you don’t know where you’re going for crap seats, it’s another when you know where you’re going and have the pick of seats you want.

Snacks. Concession stands are a nightmare. They’re expensive and lets face it all the food is junk — well everything except movie popcorn. That stuff is gold. So make sure you enjoy a healthy snack or a light meal before you go. Hungry children are cranky children and popcorn just isn’t that healthy or filling to substitute a meal.

Bathroom breaks. Kids hate missing things to go to the bathroom. Three-feet-of-fun makes me pause his movies so he won’t miss a thing when he runs to the bathroom for movies he’s seen a hundred times but in a theater you can’t do that. Take the pressure off of pee time. Make a special trip to the bathroom before the movie starts and then only have a small beverage so that their little bladders can make it until the end of the movie.

I hope these tips help for you first-time-movie-goers with munchkins. I wish I had someone fill me in on the secret before I had tried to take Three-feet to his first movie. May your first times be more pleasant and fruitful than mine was.

Posted in Uncategorized, Parenting, Child Development, TV and Pop Culture | 2 Comments »

The Special Needs Child: Be The Wheel

Yesterday was going to be themed for nutrition, but due to circumstances, I missed posting. I apologize for that and today I’m going to focus on something totally different from what I originally meant to use.

Education and Special Needs will be the theme for today.

There are many, many children in public schools today who are specials needs. Each one of these children have a specialized educational program that should be followed by their school. Even if they do not have an Individualized Education Program or IEP in place, they should. The sad fact is, even though schools are required by law to provide special services for children who need them, a large percentage never receive the services that are their right.

Why is this? Low funding is one problem, lack of communication is another, and in some cases plain neglect. As a parent it is our right to know and understand the IEP and services our children are given or have been recommended to receive. It is also our right to have phone numbers, addresses, and names of the people who we need to speak with in case an IEP is not working for our child.

As a parent you are your child’s most powerful tool in life. You are their advocate. Keep a list of phone numbers, have their IEP handy, and if possible, get to know as many of staff members in your childs’ school. Be as friendly as possible with these people, because as biased and sad as this sounds, children of parents who are friendly and involved in their school as they are able are treated much better. If you notice problems, complain. Try politeness first, if that fails, then make sure the system knows you are displeased. Make as many calls as you can, let the school system know you are not going to back down until the problem you are having is solved.

As my child’s liasion told me…the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Be your childs’ wheel and squeak until they have what they deserve and need.

Posted in Parenting, Child Development, School and Learning, Child Education | No Comments »

Birth Order and Sibling IQ


For years it’s been widely thought that genetics, not birth order determine IQ. However, a recent study in the journal Science (June 22) reports that first-born children are smarter than their younger siblings. The study, examined by, relates that first-born children have IQs that average 2.3 points higher than their younger siblings and that the findings hold true even in families where a first born dies and the second born is raised as the eldest.

Exciting news, if like me, you’re the eldest kid in a family of many. Yea me!
Still, I don’t think that we can completely count on our birth order as a one-way ticket to genius land and some scientists agree. Dr. Petter Kristensen, of the National Institute of Occupational Health in Oslo reports that IQ can make a difference because an IQ that’s even a couple of points higher can increase a child’s “educational potential? giving them an edge over younger siblings. In the long run though for an individual, “This effect is so small that it gives little predictive power.”

Case in point; I’m the oldest in my family. I have both a younger sister and younger brother. Which of the three of is the smartest? (This is where you say me). Just kidding, the real answer is that we’re all smart but in different ways. I read, draw, and create art projects constantly and was always considered the “artistic? or “creative? one in the family. My sister however always pulled through high school with a straight A average while I barely managed to get Cs because my “creative? brain wouldn’t let me sit still long enough to stay focused. My brother hates reading, yet excels at math and can fix anything you’ve got that needs fixing. All three of us have excelled in our very different chosen careers.

I suppose you could break my sibs and I down like this; creative smarts, book smarts, and practical smarts; although I see evidence of all three kinds of smarts in each of us at times. Frank J. Sulloway, a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, Institute of Personality and Social Research calls this “niche partitioning.” Basically this means that a first born comes along and fills a niche. For example I filled the creative niche. Then my siblings came along and because I had already filled the creative niche they decided to take on other, different roles.

When children in families can fill a certain niche it allows them to increase their chances of receiving personal attention within a busy family. Sulloway concludes that because of niche partitioning parents don’t need to worry about birth order or IQ; many issues make us who we are and determine success.

To learn more about birth order visit this site: Human intelligence: Historical influences, current controversies, teaching resources

Posted in Parenting, Lifestyles, Child Development | No Comments »

Big Hands, I Know You’re the One

Does the fact the my two year old daughter goes around singing songs about masterbation make me a bad parent? I can’t believe I just opened up that can of worms. But I feel I have a problem. I’m not a prude, I promise. I know she doesn’t understand what the song is about - hell, I didn’t understand what the song was about until I was almost twenty. - and that she likes it for it’s uptempo beat and pop brilliance. But, “Blister in the sun” is her new favorite song - it has taken on a whole new dimension for me and, quite frankly, it is creeping me out.

We have gone through our “Hit the Road Jack” phase. Both my kids were (and on occassion, still are) obsessed with Ray Charles. At the worst, my kids were mimicking his soulful grunts and groans and talking about how he had some serious “lady trouble” (6year olds words, not mine). No harm there.

There were a few durge like Iron and Wine songs that she had gotten attached to - lots of references about the hangman and going home. That was weird - a 2year old singing about the “devil’s tree”. I still wasn’t phased.

I remember my son being infatuated with White Stripes and Bob Dylan when he was two. No real masterbation or sex referencing there. Just seriously great writing and riffs. He still loves them.

I did wonder and worry about him knowing all the words to Modest Mouse’s The Lonesome Crowded West album. There was a part he particularly liked about Cowboy Dan pointing his rifle up to the sky and telling god that if he had to die, so did god. I stopped playing it after I realized that, at three, he was reciting it all, word for word.

I have tried not to play kid’s music - with the exception of Dan Zanes who, in my opinion, is just as talented and un-obnoxious as my music. For the most part, I find kid’s music insulting to my children. It strikes me as the equivilant as someone baby talking to them - makes me feel icky. But, seeing my daughter walk around demanding to hear “bister SUN!” or, as she sometimes likes to call it “stain my sheets” - I start to see the beauty in furry little puppets singing about sunshine and lollipops.

Posted in Child Development | 6 Comments »

Terrible Terrible Twoooooooooo

Oh. My. God.

My daughter woke up this morning apparently possessed with satan himself. I don’t know what happened. She has been sick - and I thought that her nasty attitude was a symptom of that. But she is more than well now and the attitude has only gotten worse and way too big for her little, cute, cherubic body. I didn’t experience the terrible twos with my son. Actually, quite the opposite. Two to four was the best of times with him. It was such a foreign concept to me that when she started acting up, I had to wrack my brain to think of what could possibly be going on. Then it hit me: holy shit, I’m going to have to deal with that thing! That terrible two thing!

It all started with a cute little, puckered lipped “no….” then moved to a fully screamed “NO!” about a week or so after that first cutely pouted one. Then she never wanted to get dressed. I tried the give her the “options” route that all the pediatricians swear work. Liars. All of them. Liars. I mean, do these people even have kids!? “Baby, do you want to wear your striped pants or your skirt today?” I say with a casual smile. As she’s grabbing both the striped pants and her skirt out of my hand with a look reminicent of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction and throwing them with brute force that I could hardly imagine from a wrestler, much less a little blond baby, she screams “No MOMMY, NO! MEAN! NO!” then calmly sits down, pats her round, little belly and smiles “belly!” and then giggles as if nothing just happened. Wha?!? HUH!!? Who stole my baby and replaced her with a schizophrenic mad woman? Everything makes her angry and she refuses, absolutely refuses, any help from anyone. She has had tantrums that involve throwing any small furniture that she can get her hands on at her opposition and then throwing herself on the floor and staring up at the ceiling looking very much like she is contemplating her next thrashing.

Even though I think that most of these “tips” were written by people watching people who have kids and don’t actually have any themselves, it is still a sanity saver. Having options makes you feel, at the very least, like you aren’t insane.

I’m not sure what her next thrashing will be, but you can bet your bottom dollar that we are afraid. We are all very, very afraid.

Tune in next time for part two of Lisa and the Terrible Twos: The Visit to the Lawyer’s Office with Beligerent Toddler in Hand. It’s bound to be a good time.

Posted in Behavior Issues, Child Development, Mental Health | No Comments »

First Day! First Day!

First grade for the littlest Donovan started today.  He was nervous.  I was nervous.  Well, actually, we were both a perfect blend of nervous and excited as we drove in.  His teacher is young and energetic and I think they will get along very, very well. 

When I picked him up, though, the first reality of what school actually is sunk in.  He made it to the car without really saying much.  Then, as we got in and I asked how his day was and who his new classmates were, he broke into tears.  At recess all of his friends from kindergarten (i.e. his old classmates) were all playing with their new classmates.  It broke his heart.  When I asked him who he played with he said “no one, I sat by myself because everyone said they had new friends”.  Which is the point when my heart was broken.  I did all the standard parenting things one should do - I told him that first days are hard and that he will make his own new friends in his class but that his kindergarten friends are still his friends too, blah blah blah blah.  My intial reaction was to go to the playground and find the little twerps who left him out at recess and sit on them - but I settled for the confidence speech and the hopeful promise of tomorrow.  There is nothing like watching your kid deal with social b.s. - partly because as a parent, you finally realize how torturous and unnecessary it is and partly because you know how painful it is.

He’ll get through it just like we all did.  In the meantime, I might have to break out my brass knuckles just to flash around at the playground tomorrow…….

Posted in Character Development, Child Development, School and Learning | 2 Comments »

Beauty Queens, Princesses & Ponies

Little girls, little girls, little girls.  I think I was less shocked when my son began proving the whole nature over nurture theory to me when he started being uber-boy than, now, seeing my daughter lassoing her absolute girlish nature at barely two years old.  Prissy, prissy, prissy.  She already wants a pony and is in love with those moronic Disney princesses who have had modern day “makeovers” that maintain the facade of being strong, independent women but, realistically, are just looking to hook a man’s attention and get laid.  Yuck.  Why is it in our nature to be lured by this?  She has already mastered fluttering her eyes at any man she sees and has perfected playing coy when they notice how pretty she is.  Yuck again.  Trust me, she is not learning it from me.  Sure, next to my boyish, lesbian friends I am pretty girly - but that is about how far it goes.  I like to think that there is a difference between feminine a being girly.  Being feminine implies strength of character and poise.  Being girly involves flirting and playing dumb to get your way.  A flirt I am not..  But wait a minute, my friends say I flirt with everyone - I think I am just being friendly - but they swear it is flirting.  Hold on - am I inadvertently teaching my daughter to get her way by being cute and flirty just because I like to be nice to people??  Can’t be.  I don’t care what my friends say, I don’t think I’m that girl.  I have seen that girl and have heartily rolled my eyes at her as man after man falls over himself to buy her a drink just because she is hanging out of her top and blinking a lot.  I have scoffed loudly when I have heard that girl say “Oh, I am just so dizzy - can you help me carry those??”.. I am not that girl, why is my daughter gleaming with the potential of becoming that girl?  Is this that whole mother vs. daughter thing taking root?  Or is this just a phase?  I mean, she’s not yet two.. Maybe I’m overreacting, no? 

Posted in Behavior Issues, Character Development, Child Development | No Comments »

Something In the Way She Poos

I am knee deep in other people’s poopy.  Yesterday I wiped a total of three other being’s bottoms - both kids and the dog.  Am I being too sharing???  Tough.

The most alarming of all three was my daughter, if you can believe it.  My cute, sweet, cherubic little baby girl had the most horrendous diapers these last few days.  I know what it is, I just can’t get her to change the bad habit that is producing these frightful diapers.  My daughter’s a juice junkie - and it’s creating quite a funk in her huggies. 

I am having to hide the apple juice and orange juice from her. The diapers weren’t the only indicator that we have a problem - at mealtimes (and even snack times) all she wants to do is drink her juice.  I am having to buckle down and only give her one juice drink a day now - it has caused a stir in our household. She goes to the refrigerator and screams “szhoooze,szhooze, szhooze!!!!” and when I refuse, further hell breaks loose.  Water won’t do.  Milk occassionally makes her happy, but I don’t want her to start replacing meals with milk either.  She certainly doesn’t look to be malnourished, by any means, and maybe I should just write it off as a phase in her eating style.  Whatever the case may be, it is something I never had to deal with with my firstborn.  He has always been a big eater.  I guess, like anything else, we’ll just ride this wave and work our way out of it.  In the meantime, I’ll just let my husband deal with the juice junk in her diaper… I am officially on diaper changing hiatus.

Posted in Nutrition, Child Development, Daily Living | No Comments »

“I have no problem spanking you in front of all these people…”

This is what I actually said to my six year old son yesterday.  It’s true.  I never thought those words would come out of my mouth, but, I haven’t been able to stop saying things like this for the last two or three weeks..  He is driving me crazy - he knows it and he is loving every minute of it. What the f*!# do I do?

I spent a good two hours on the phone with one of my closest friends a couple of nights ago.  She doesn’t have a six year old yet, but she has three kids and I value her opinion and respect her capacity to keep cool with three kids all under the age of five.  I get exhausted just watching her. But, she has utter control over those babies.  Complete.  Meanwhile, my son is pulling my daughter’s pants down and hitting her in the head (he calls this love tapping) with a plastic butterfly net and my voice seems like nothing but white noise to him (I probably just sound like a fly in his ear at this point)… Most of the time he is golden.  But there is always a large chunk of our day that requires huge discipline.  He doesn’t respond to anything other than physical discipline during those times.  No, I don’t mean I hit or spank him - what I mean is that if, for example, I am telling him to “stop” spinning in the chair that (after two times of stating verbally that I need him to quit) I have to go over and physically take him off the chair and remove him from the situation.  This was the same thing I had to do when he was 3(!) and I just don’t feel like I should have to do it with a six year old. 

Anyway, I am trying out some new books and think that I need to have a consistant system to my discipline with him.  I need something that works for a 6year old - something that will help him understand he is in control of himself (and only himself - that is another issue: he seems to think his sister is his toy or possession) and something to help him realize that he is at his best (and having more fun) when he is listening and working well with others. 

There is a series of books that started with the Love and Logic principle.  It was written by Jim Fay.  I have looked through the website and so far I am impressed with the ideology of it.  It seems realistic and unlike a lot of other parenting guides (don’t you find that a lot of them are a little hokey and drippy? maybe it’s just me..).  I think it will be geared toward my need for compassion and my son’s inherent and strong logical side (I tend to be a little too “wordy” and give too much info - he needs directness and exactness). 

I’ll let you know how it is going along the way…

Posted in Parenting, Child Development, Parent Education, Daily Living | No Comments »

My Six-Year-Old Son Hates Change

Six year olds are peculiar little characters. Mine, in particular, has a strong tendency toward meltdowns if anything even remotely out of his routine is in engaged in. He avoids spotaneity as if it were the plague and, you can bet your last penny that if you change even the slightest smidge of his expected routine, that he is going to (perhaps inadvertently) have a huge meltdown at some point in the day.

Case in point: Today we traveled from Nashville to Florida to visit family and to rest and recenter after the icky month we have had. Rather than stop at our usual spot for a long, sit-down lunch, we thought we would save some time and eat on the road and then stop later at a bookstore and a park that we knew was along the way. All things pointed to “happy vacation” until we stopped at said bookstore and my son had a meltdown which worked it’s way into quite a nasty tantrum, the likes which I have never, ever, seen. His wailing and screaching created a stir amongst the other bookstore patrons - the kind of buzz that begins when someone feels that, perhaps, they should contact authorities or maybe a swat team.. It was horrific.

As much as I hate to admit it, my son is such a routine junkie, that my husband and I believe firmly that it was simply because we had made one, simple, unexpected change to his normal way of traveling. What was a small glitch of changeto us was, to him, a massive upheaval of emotional stress.

Second case in point: Once we arrive at my folk’s house - my mom decides that she wants to have a spontaneous (gasp! there’s that word again!) swim in the pool with my son. She jumps in with shorts and a shirt and hollars for him to join her. He can’t do it. He loves swimming and he has been waiting to get in this pool all year. The problem: He has to be in proper swimming garb - this means that he spent twenty minutes looking for me and getting me to unpack the car and dig through the bags for his swimtrunks. When I couldn’t find them, I told him to just take off his shirt and socks and to go for it! “Look, Nana’s in there with all her clothes on - go get her!”. You would have thought that I had just told him to go rob a bank. An utter look of fear and anxiety arose in his little innocent eyes. He eventually got in, but with much hesitation and severe coaxing from me and my mom that is was very OK to get in without sanctioned swimtrunks on.

It has left me wondering what has caused this in my sweet little boy? And is anyone else experiencing this?

Posted in Child Development | No Comments »

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