How to Combat Naughty Behavior

     As of lately, my sweet and adorable Luke has been hitting, biting, giving me attitude (yes, even at the youngest age of one this can happen), and acting out. As frustrating as it can be in the moment, know that it’s completely normal. Our little ones are just testing boundaries and acting our their frustrations. Now, it’s our responsibility to teach them appropriate ways to handle these frustrations and implement consequences to bad behavior.
     Luke’s naughtiness began when he would get upset for whatever reason. Rather that be because he was hungry, tired, thirsty, bored, feeling neglected, or all/none of the above. He initially began biting me. I’d say “no” and keep reinforcing that but it almost became a game to him. As if he ENJOYED inflicting pain on me. Then the hitting began. In the beginning, immediately after he would hit me, I’d grad both of his hands, put them together, and look directly into his eyes and say, “No hitting! That is not okay! Please, try to use your words.” My assertiveness almost added fuel to the fire. He’d hit me again. Clearly he was motivated to curve his behavior with my “punishment”. It only got worse.
     At his 15 month check up, his parents asked the doctor what they recommend. Her suggestion was to face him away from you and hug him/her from behind so that he can’t move. When you have him/her in a position that they cannot see you or move their arms, tell them, “No. We are not allowed to <insert bad behavior here>. That is not okay. Please do not <insert bad behavior here> again.”
     Guess what? It worked! But why? It’s because children hate two things: being ignored and confined. When you turn them away form you and prevent them from running around, to them, it’s the worst possible punishment. Luke responded so well to this. Not only were we able to quickly diffuse frustrating situations, but, he also began to learn appropriate responses. For example, instead of hitting me because he was hungry, we taught him to use his baby sign for ‘hungry’. I’d give him a snack, he’d be happy, and in exchange I’d be happy we prevented a complete 15 minute melt down.

FREE Toddler Friendly Activities

Being a nanny, sometimes the hardest part of my job is deciphering what to do during the day to keep the baby happy! Filling 9 hours of fun activities that will keep a one year old entertained is sometimes easier said than done. So, what do I usually do during the day?

1. Parks. Lots and lots of parks! There is countless fun to be had at the park! The best part, it’s FREE! We enjoy building sand castles in the sand (and just as quickly demolishing them), swinging, going on the equipment itself. Always a good choice!

2. The Zoo: Such a great option if you have a zoo near you! If given the option, ALWAYS get the membership! Most times, within two visits you will have paid for it and then some. Luke and I go to the San Diego Zoo at least twice a month. Not only is it so much fun, but it’s a great learning opportunity, and good exercise walking around to the different exhibits! Luke can already tell me the sound the lions, ducks, monkeys, etc. make because of our time spent at the zoo!

3. The Beach: Okay, this one is not as realistic. Most aren’t as lucky to live a mile from the beach, but, if you are, children seem to love sand and water. They love eating sand, throwing it, playing with it, etc. We put our feet in the water too which gets Luke excited.

4. Play Dates: If you don’t already have a close cirlce of friends with kids, FIND SOME! NOW! I cannot begin to express how much FUN play dates are! Not only does it give you the chance to have grown up time (YAY), but, the kiddos get to interact with children their own age. It lets them observe, be crazy, and most times, you will be presented with many ‘teachable moments’ on how to share, why we share, etc.

5: Your Own Backyard: There are going to be days when you just don’t feel like leaving the house and that’s okay! I like to bring plastic containers outside, a ball, toy trucks, etc. in the backyard. Really want to keep your child entertained? Fill a small pool with water and put some small toys or containers in it. For some reason, kids LOVE this. So simple, but I guarentee it’ll keep them occupied for 30 minutes!

6. Creative Play: I’m a HUGE advocate for imaginative play!  Don’t be afraid to get down on your hands and knees and have fun! I love giving Luke horsey rides on my back, or pulling out some bowls and a spoon and letting him pretend feed his stuffed animals in his high chair.

7. Stickers: This has been a fan favorite. We can look at stickers, put them on us, on paper, on the walls, it doesn’t matter, he loves them.

8. Read Books: Always an easy go to. I don’t think I’ve ever met a child who doesn’t love reading stories! I feel like it’s so easy for them to get absorbed in the story, and it’s a great time for you to talk to your kiddo and expand their vocabulary.

9. Go for a walk: This is actually a special treat for Luke. We’re always so GO, GO, GO, so when we get the chance to take our time and walk somewhere (like the park) he gets so excited. We explore rocks, flowers, and any animal that happens to walk within eye shot of him. It’s also a great time to teach your children SAFETY! Luke understands that before crossing a street, he needs to hold my hand, we have to look both ways for cars, and when it’s all clear, we can cross. Plus, fresh air is always good!

10. Arts & Crafts: I know this is pretty vague. This can be anything from coloring, stickers, painting, fun projects, etc. Don’t be afraid to let your child get messy. That’s half the fun! I make Play-doh from scratch. It’s all organic and extremely easy to make. This can be a fun activity for your child to be able to learn how to make something cool.

11. The Library: Our local libraries are fantastic. They offer a wide variety of FREE activities for children of all ages. On any given week we participate in story time, baby sign language, toddler music, or baby yoga. All available for the low cost of FREE at our local library. If you have multiple libraries within your area, try to obtain the events calendar for all of them. Most will offer a variety of stimulating activities so that you can pick and choose which are most suitable for your child’s age and development.

Baby Sign Language

     Baby sign language is such a great way for parents/nannies/caregivers to communicate with their little ones before they can even speak. These signs are tailored so that our little ones can begin using them as early as 9 months old. If you want to teach your child sign language, I suggest beginning with just one sign. Choose the one that you feel they could receive the most practice with; lets start with ‘Milk’. Everytime you give them a bottle, point to it, and say ‘Milk’, and then do the sign for ‘Milk’. If it feels like you’re doing this 100 times a day with no response, chances are you’re doing it right. Our little ones take time to understand the concept of language and communication. Once they feel the gratification of using the appropriate sign and then receiving the object, they’ll begin to use it more frequently.
     Once you feel that your child is beginning to understand the concept of using these hand signals, feel free to introduce a new one; like ‘More’ or ‘All done’. You’ll be glad you put in all this effort to teaching your child baby signs. I’ve noticed it helps with the frustration a learning baby/toddler (and parent) feels when they’re trying to communicate a specific need, but you can’t seem to decipher it. Don’t give up if you’re child isn’t utilizing the signs right away. I started doing baby signs with the little boy I nanny for at 9 months old. He didn’t start using them until he was 14 months old! Be patient. It WILL pay off!

Red Beet Pancakes

Yes, you read that correctly. The child I watch is a bit of a picky eater. I’m always having to get creative with the recipes I try, otherwise, chances are high he won’t eat it. I found this recipe on Pinterest. It’s basically your typical pancake but in addition there’s beets in them. Sounds gross, right? My little guy LOVED them. The recipe made about 30 pancakes so I froze a majority of them. Also, mine were not the pinkish/red color as shown in the photo. They were mostly brown. If you want them to be more appeasing to the eye, I’d add in more beets or just a few drops of red food color. Enjoy!
Here is the link to the recipe: