Mommy Hacks: Aden’s New Favorite Activity

Well guys, Aden’s at that age – the one where he learns to dress himself. Seriously, how did he get this big?! Coaching your children through milestones like this that involve them being able to do things somewhat independently of your help (getting there…) is huge in any parent’s life. Aden absolutely LOVES to pick out his own clothes.

Of course, they’re not what I would pick out, and he knows it. The boy loves to wear his train shirt over and over again, and I have to remind him that he has a whole closet full of other options (remember all the pics I shared the other day?). But here’s the thing: allowing and encouraging kids to pick out their outfits is not something to take lightly. It’s actually really important to their development!

How cute is Aden’s rain gear though? Mom approved!

When little ones reach the point of being able to choose, it’s a major freedom they haven’t had. Even at the youngest age, all kids want is to feel that their feelings and opinions are valid. At the very least, when mommy says, “Okay, tell me what shirt you want to wear today…” they feel that we respect their opinion.

But beyond that, you can use these moments – and the silly outfits that come from it – as a way to teach them some valuable cognitive skills, like decision making, responsibility, and even more minute things like the motor skills required to actually dress themselves and button buttons, zip zippers, etc (all with your supervision of course). It also teaches them to work within a timeframe. Of course, this means two things – helping them to reach conclusions within a reasonable amount of time (and of course time is one of the hardest concepts to get a three year old to grasp!) and helping them practice patience when things don’t go as planned.

As much as I’d love my little man to dress up in all those adorable outfits we’ve collected for him over time, I know how important picking out clothes is to him (even if it takes him awhile to decide on that fave tee). The most important part is that he has the choice and can express himself and his individuality how he wants to, which contributes to self confidence and self worth too.

Have you been through this phase with little ones? Share below!


Mommy Hacks: Teaching Little Ones to be Gentle

Hey guys! Here’s an interesting fact: you know that feeling you get when you see something that is SO cute (like a baby’s chubby cheeks or the furriest little kitten)? And you want to just squeeze and squeeze? Well, there’s actually science behind it that suggests that when we see something that evokes such strong emotion, we want to do something about it. It often triggers an aggressive reaction. Don’t get me wrong, most of us don’t mean any harm, but it’s because of “strong approach motivation”. An intense feeling = an intense (almost) action.

Teaching Kids to Be Gentle

We have this quote up on Aden’s wall.

These feelings are easily switched back and forth in negative and positive experiences. That intense feeling of aggression that comes with a negative experience comes from a similar place. Of course, most adults know not to act out on these strong emotions (we’d never want to harm baby, and similarly, when we’re angry, we generally still do not wish to harm others).

There’s a reason I bring this up, and it has to do with young children and toddlers. They experience the same feelings as we do, and it’s important to see where they’re coming from. Positive experiences – like when Aden is so excited to see his baby sister – can evoke that sort of “she’s so cute, let me squeeze her!” feeling. And because kids at this age go straight to expressing their feelings, they immediately want to do that action (squeeze, shake, bite, etc.).

Teaching Kids to be Gentle

Keep in mind that most of the time when children are acting out, it’s because they don’t know how to express their feelings. Teaching them how to do so in a healthy way means lessening the chances of troublesome behaviors. That quote from Despicable Me, “It’s so fluffy I’m gonna DIE!” comes to mind. Lol. The child really feels the need to do something about this pent up aggression-like feeling.

When your child experiences this feeling, whether because of a positive or negative experience, they need to know how to express it gently, without putting themselves or anyone else in harm’s way. The first step is to teach them exactly what gentle means. If they hit when they mean to pat, explain (gently of course) that this (motion with your hands) is gentle, and that we don’t want to hurt anyone. It can help to guide them physically (on a stuffed animal rather than a living creature, of course). Don’t forget to let them know when they’re expressing a feeling correctly!

A similar time when you can teach a child to be gentle is while they are playing with you. When they’re too rough, take this time to teach a lesson that they’ll carry through to play with other kids, pets, etc. It helps to create rules for play.

Lastly, I’ve noticed how important it is to teach these lessons in a calm manner, as difficult as that can be at times. When welcoming a new baby brother or sister, kids of any age will do anything they can, even unconsciously, to get mommy and daddy’s attention. Acting out as the parent gives them attention – though obviously not the kind they need. And if a negative action guarantees that they’ll grab your attention, be warned that they will repeat it! Keep that in mind so your efforts don’t have the opposite effect.

How did you go about navigating gentility with little ones? Have any other mommy hacks topics you’d like to see?


Mommy Hacks: Battling The No

If you’ve raised a toddler, you know exactly what this title is referring to. Aden is at that age, Ariah will get there too – all kids do. By age two or three, children not only know exactly what the word “no” means, they learn just how to use it against you. (Cue evil laughter!) Lately I’ve been relying on these methods in order to stop the no before a full-fledged temper tantrum sets in.

How to Battle the "No" - Photo of Aden Housley via

As much of a pain as it can be, this “no” phase can actually be a sign of a healthy parent-child relationship, believe it or not. When little ones are defiant during this stage of development, it’s usually in response to a positive action by the parents – like trying to get your child to share or teach them responsibility. This defiance shows that they’re realizing that they DO have some control – which in general is a good (though incredibly frustrating) thing. So if you’re repeatedly hearing the “no” moms, pat yourselves on the back – you’re doing it right! Lol.

How to Deal with the “No”

Restructure requests. At this age kids realize that they simply don’t like being controlled. By switching your own requests from negatives to positives, they’ll feel less like they’re being controlled and more like you’re both in on the action. For example, instead of saying “Don’t do that” or “No wearing that” you might say “Do this instead” and “How about this?” Explaining yourself can help them see why wearing a coat is a reasonable request, for instance.

Relate to them. Let them know you understand why they’re saying no (even if 99% of the time you have no idea). If they won’t put away their toys, tell them you can see how they’d want to keep playing, but they can play later after X is done, etc. Any parent knows that a conversation like this can go back and forth for what seems like forever, but showing understanding makes it easier for them to give in.

Find the emotion. Similarly, sometimes when a parent thinks there is absolutely no reason behind a child’s defiance, there actually is a cause buried deep down. If they refuse to let you dress them, maybe it’s because they don’t want to go wherever it is you’re going. Just like before, continue to ask questions that will help you understand the root cause.

Give them a choice. If the reason they’re holding onto the no is that they want to maintain control over the situation, choices help them keep control without allowing them to completely disobey. With a choice like “Do you want to get dressed now, or after you’ve picked up your toys?”, they still have to do both things, but they can control when. That choice makes a huge difference because both the parent and child are actively involved – he doesn’t get to do whatever he wants, but he also doesn’t have to feel overwhelmed by your request.

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