Wednesday, July 1, 2009

yield: 10 cups toddler tears

oh yes. you're feeling where this is going right?

enter this pic into any scenario where you, the parent, are in the midst of some purposeful deed. fixing dinner, doing bills, teaching astronomy, or reading/writing/relaxing.....face insert this image into any daily doing and it makes your brain cells wither with defeat.

i find this most difficult while i am homeschooling the other children. mostly in little spurts it is handled, but a constant, all day whine and cry and scream and need, need, need....sigh. this was my day today (and every day this week thus far).

he is my most "hard to handle" child, and also the one that makes me laugh the most (an awesome predicament that God has obviously found delightful in letting me handle). i struggle, though, to keep him happy. he is two, still in that phase of not quite grasping what "not right now" means in his terms, and cannot under any circumstance be told "no" when he has asked to do something that i can't or won't get or do for him. this resulting in high pitched screaming that no form of punishment has yet to qualm.

so, i'm left with distraction tactics. websites offer many helpful hints for toddler "busiers", but most are just a bit outside the 1-2 year old age (and in my point of view, the hardest ages of keeping happy in the young years). here are some that we have tried and had mild to high success in:

  • totes. these being filled with various toys that are only brought out on a semi weekly basis and rotated to keep the toys seemingly new to the young ones.
  • educational shows in limited doses. i have found Mighty Machines particularly effective for my child and for his age. others of course being Barney, Sesame Street and most other PBS shows.
  • a pair of blunt toddler scissors and some scrap paper. this needs no explanation, but requires a super electric swiffer pad to pick up all those irritating pieces of paper carnage after the doing is done.
  • play dough. but never, ever, ever, ever near carpet or rugs that you especially like.
  • pasta of different shapes with cups and pots. toddlers love to pour and re-pour, and large pasta shapes are a bit easier to clean up than, say, water or sand. and can be consumed, if you have one that likes to taste everything.
  • older child guided activity. especially effective if you have an older child who can willingly (necessary to be willing) take the little one out of the room for a bit, to build block towers, or piece together easy puzzles.
  • scheduled play. the most time consuming and evasive of all the diversions. it involves a daily schedule, where you dote out each task for a limited amount of time, and then clean it up and move onto the next. for example: if you need distractions from 9-11 in the morning. start with the one your child finds the most fun, usually one that is the messiest in my experience. only do this for about 20 minutes (or before the child becomes bored with it--never wait until the child is over it and fussy and wanting something else), then gently phase in the next task and clean up the first after the child is enthralled in the new one, same amount of time and clean up after, continue on as needed. i always save the tv/movie/book on tape/longer distractor for the last. this method is the most challenging when you are trying to teach other children and don't want to be pulled away constantly. and it needs to be changed around daily or have special things added in on some days to break up the monotony. like, say, add in their favorite movie on tuesdays, or chalk and chalkboard on thursdays, macaroni pouring on friday, and so forth. if you can enlist the brawn of other children to help with the transfer of tasks, this helps greatly (maybe even have a different helper child each day on a scheduled daily task sheet).

but there are ALWAYS more ways. so i pour my heart out to you. i need some other tried and true tips to list in future (and more structured) posts. and if yours works for my son, then you get a special bonus shout out across internet land.

and now anyone can post a comment on my blog, you don't need to have a blogger or google account.

thanks in advance!


  1. ... wiping away tears...

    Sorry. I'm just at begging, counting to 10..000, running out of the room with my ears covered...

    I'm trying all of your ideas tomorrow.

  2. Try sticking him in a clean bathtub with chocolate pudding (or some other colored confection) and let him fingerpaint tub and himself to his heart's desire...then turn on the shower to clean up.

    I count backwards from 5 to 1, it really seems to work better and faster. I also used the phrase "asked and answered" when they would ask me the same question over and over again. They knew if they asked again then they got a spanking.

    Do you have any toddler computer learning games?

    My kids LOVED stickers and had a ball with just a roll of scotch tape - sometimes they even had paper to stick it to! :)

    Also, it may help to call on friends to take baby boy out for a couple of hours - to the park, McDs, etc. Just something that is special and just for him.

    That's all I can come up with off the top of my head...


  3. Oh, something else...

    Sarah is wanting to try to earn a little money this coming year. I'd gladly let her come over to entertain whomever you need entertained while you're working with the others...let me know what you think. She's really great with younger kids.


  4. marj! i have totally not utilized the stickers!! i need to stockpile.

    the pudding idea sounds fun....and also one for the older child to help in.

    i might take you up on that mini babysitting by sarah bit. how much would she be asking in payment?

  5. Whatever you'd like...she hasn't "done it" for payment yet...a dollar? She'd enjoy playing with Ashton afterwards...that would be payment enough! :)



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