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trying to keep smiling: quick trick, candy countdown

Nov 2, 2009 // 6 comments // Categories: counting, holidays, quick trick.

After taking care of three on-and-off sick kiddos for the last three weeks, and after a crazy week of Halloween parties and craziness, I was finally hit with the bug yesterday.

From my bedroom, I could hear Maddy, Owen, and Cora asking my husband every two seconds for another piece of candy.

Every. Two. Seconds.

I know there are very cool ideas out there about a “Halloween Trade“– a small gift in exchange for the children’s bag of candy–which is a super idea, but I just didn’t get there this year.

Plus, being a sweet tooth myself, I do want my kids to have some candy. Call me crazy. Some candy. Some.

So this Quick Trick I came up with on the fly, from my bed, and I was just thanking my lucky stars that I had been keeping empty egg cartons for a while and had enough to do this.

  • Candy Countdown Cartons: I grabbed the egg cartons, taped a piece of paper that said “Maddy’s Candy Countdown” onto one carton, “Owen’s. . . ” on another, and “Cora’s . . .” on the last one.

Maddy’s Candy Countdown Carton

Then I said, I’ve heard enough crying for candy. Enough! I am trying to rest, and all I hear is ‘More candy! More candy! Can we please have candy?’

First of all, we don’t eat candy all day long. Secondly, we’re not going to finish all of this candy anyway. Imagine how your bellies would feel if we let you eat junk all day long. Remember the Berenstain Bears and ‘Too Much Junk Food’? It’s Mommy and Daddy’s job to help keep you safe and healthy.

So here is your Candy Countdown Carton. Owen, how many little holes are in this container? He counted and told me.

Right. Twelve. So I’m going to dump all of our candy onto the floor, and each of you can pick twelve pieces of candy. That’s it. Stick one piece in each of these holes, and when Daddy or I say it’s time for candy–for dessert or when we say it’s time–then you can pick one of your pieces.


When your Candy Countdown Carton is empty, candy’s gone. There’s no more. So go through the candy, pick your favorites, and fill up your containers.

Owen fills his Candy Countdown Carton

So they did. And maybe giving them some ownership over a tiny bit of candy, maybe because ‘twelve’ seems like such a big number to them, or maybe because they just they were happy to play with their candy for a bit, Maddy, Owen, and Cora were content.

I could hear them, after lunch, picking out a piece from their cartons. One piece and they were done.

Maybe this ‘Good-bye Halloween CandyQuick Trick worked after all–or at least for today.

Just a little something to try if you’d like. Hope you had a great Halloween!

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  1. I hope you feel better soon! My boys both have H1N1. I hope the rest of us can avoid it.

    This is a great idea. I am impressed that you did this when you were sick! You are a super mom!

    Reply
    Christy
    02/11/2009
  2. GREAT idea!

    Reply
    The Activity Mom
    02/11/2009
  3. Wow. You are brilliant! Great idea!

    Reply
    Stimey
    02/11/2009
  4. You're sick and you're still able to think up amazing ideas! You are truly an inspiration.
    GREAT idea.

    Reply
    Multi-tasking Mommy
    03/11/2009
  5. Oh, no! I hope you feel better soon. We fought it at my house for two weeks. Knock on wood, I have not gotten it.

    By the way ~ I think you were really at my house yesterday because the dialogue you quoted was the exact same as the dialogue at my house. I think you were a bit more patient than me, though!

    Reply
    Tara Rison
    03/11/2009
  6. I love this and it isn't too late for me to do it with the abundant candy supply that is left in our house. Thanks so much and I hope you are feeling better!

    Reply
    Tech Savvy Mama
    07/11/2009

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trying to keep smiling: quick trick–brain kiss

Oct 10, 2009 // 16 comments // Categories: parenting, quick trick.

Mmmmmuahhhh!

Give your brain a kiss.

I learned so, so much from Maddy’s incredible preschool teachers when I parent-aided in her first classroom.

She was only there two mornings a week, and I was there a few times a month, but these women were amazing, patient, and seriously skilled at with working with the teeniest of teeny two-year-olds.

So today’s Quick Trick is from them. Just like arm circles and a lot of the Conscious Discipline that they demonstrated, this is something that we’ve used for quite some time and have had much success with.

  • Brain Kisses: Whenever Maddy, Owen, or Cora show us that they’re really thinking–really using their growing brains to figure something out, remember something, or to share something they learned with us–we say,

Give your brain a kiss! Your brain is really working hard today. Or,

How did you figure that out? . . . Give your brain a kiss. Or,

Did you really remember that? Oh my gosh, your brain is working so hard. Give it a kiss.

And then that person kisses his or her hand and then puts the kiss on the top of his or her head.

It might sound strange or quirky or weird to some (and it is a little funny. . .), but it’s really normal for us around here to talk about brains and the hard work our brains do to help us learn and grow.

Teachers talk with their students about metacognition–thinking about thinking–so why not start here at home? By giving our brains a little love now and again, we’re helping our kiddos to become more aware of their own processes of learning and developing.

Sometimes, if we see Maddy, Owen, or Cora doing something especially loving towards one another or someone else, we say, Give your heart a kiss. I love it.

A lot of discipline techniques do sound different before they become norms for households, and this is certainly one of them; believe me, I know.

Brain–and heart–kisses reflect the idea behind noticing–or sharing with children the times when we observe them demonstrating positive behaviors in hopes of having them repeat those behaviors independently. We’re all about celebrating little successes, kind of like the big ole Special Plate, letting them make some choices, or looking at things through a positive lens.

Here’s to a weekend full of brain kisses and getting-smarter-(and kinder)-everyday kiddos!

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  1. I can't wait to kiss their brains and their faces this weekend! Love you!

    Reply
    JKilpatty
    10/10/2009
  2. Dr Jean has some great cds out and on one of them she has the song "Kiss your Brain". It is so fun and catchy. You can actually download them from her website.

    Reply
    The Activity Mom
    10/10/2009
  3. Awesome! Thanks for the info, Activity Mom–maybe that's where Maddy's preschool teachers got it in the first place. . ?

    Reply
    teachmama
    10/10/2009
  4. I love it. When I was a teacher we gave our brains a kiss quite often!!!

    Happy SITS sharefest Saturday!!
    Your site is cute. I am a new follower now!

    Reply
    Jennifer Haas
    10/10/2009
  5. This is great! My SIL is teaches special needs kids and they do "kiss my brain. now I'm a rock star!". CUTE!
    Happy Saturday Sharefest!

    Reply
    FranticMommy
    10/10/2009
  6. This is such a darling idea. I'm definitely going to have to try Brain Kisses with my little girl. Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest!

    And thanks for stopping by my blog :) I really appreciate you sweet words.

    Reply
    barefacedapproach
    10/10/2009
  7. What fantastic information, thanks for sharing it! Have a great SITS Saturday!!

    Reply
    Gabrielle
    10/10/2009
  8. An inspiring post! Thank you so much for this fabulous idea.

    Reply
    Bona Fide Mama
    10/10/2009
  9. Ok, this is a new one for me as a teacher and a mum – but we'll give it a go! Sounds like just the kind of silly-fun (but purposeful) that I like! Thanks.

    Reply
    SquiggleMum
    11/10/2009
  10. You will love Dr. Jean. You might be able to email her and see if she is visiting a school district near you.

    Check out her cheers. There are tons of ways to acknowledge accomplishments and good deeds.

    Reply
    ONe PiNK FiSH
    11/10/2009
  11. I LOVE Dr. Jean. I used her website and music all them time when teaching Pre-K. We even got her to come to our school for a visit. It was a ton of fun for the kids and the teachers.

    Reply
    Tara Rison
    12/10/2009
  12. I think that is an adorable idea, I'll have to do that with the kids I nanny for.

    PS Thank you for stopping by on my special day!

    Reply
    Yaya
    12/10/2009
  13. I think thats very cute. give your brain a kiss.. :))

    Thanks for visiting me on my special sits day, I hope you had time to enter my giveaways that now end tomorrow! See you soon.
    the Buzz, Brandy

    Reply
    The Royal Family
    12/10/2009
  14. That is a cute idea, I think I will have to give it a try! Stopping by from SITS, I am glad I found you!

    Reply
    Frugal Vicki
    12/10/2009
  15. That's a great idea, thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    Confessions of a Homeschooler
    12/10/2009
  16. I learned that from a kindergarten teacher several years ago too- I love to do that with the preschoolers when doing music at church!

    Reply
    Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama
    12/10/2009

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trying to keep smiling: quick trick, noticing

Sep 17, 2009 // 6 comments // Categories: parenting, quick trick.

Lately, I’ve felt overwhelmed by Cora’s ‘two-year-old-ness’.

Her fiery temper; her constant movement; her unceasing energy; her smiles, hugs, songs, and cuddles; her high high’s, and her low low’s. Some days we enjoy this roller coaster ride, and others, we all want off.

But what I’ve also realized is that as a parent, I’m more experienced than I was when Maddy was two, but I’m not in the fog of fatigue that I muddled through when Owen was the same age. I’m in a different place, and although I sometimes wish that Cora already knew the correct ways of behaving, I seem to have forgotten that those behaviors have to be taught.

So last week, I needed to revisit my old, trusty parenting books for a quick refresher. I didn’t like that I had begun to sound like a broken record, ordering everyone around, raising my voice, and being a reactive parent instead of a proactive parent.

I needed to stop, breathe, and really start to notice the behaviors I wanted her to continue. And then I needed to share with her what I noticed.

It’s all about “shining your light” where you indicate value:

  • Noticing Behaviors: The goal with noticing is to state an observation rather than make a judgement.

NoGood job, Cora.

Yes!Cora, you put your toys in the bin and your clothes in the drawers. You cleaned your room so you can find things when you want them.

Wordy, yes. Takes thought, yes. But it does make sense, especially for our little guys.

Here’s the skinny

  • Start your sentence with the child’s name or the pronoun ‘you’. Look at you!, or I noticed. . .
  • Describe what you see. You found her blanket and gave it to her. That was helpful!
  • End your description with a ‘tag’. Tags describe attributes of your child or values you admire, like that took determination; you sure are organized; that was helpful; that was thoughtful.

Some examples

  • Look at you! You’re eating with your spoon!
  • You did it! You went potty on the big potty. Good for you!
  • Owen, you held the door for Cora. That was helpful.
  • Cora, you offered Maddy a french fry when hers were all gone. That was so thoughtful.
  • Maddy, you picked up all of the doll clothes without being asked. That was super helpful.


Becky Bailey believes that if you accentuate your child’s strengths, you teach them their abilities. If you encourage their contribution, you teach them how important it is that they share their gifts.

It’s hard. It’s so hard. But positive behaviors have to be taught–which is much easier said than done sometimes.

And if we spotlight the behaviors that we want repeated (think: Special Plate), then most likely those behaviors will be repeated.

This Quick Trick is another one from Becky Bailey’s Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline (2000), which has helped me to become more conscious in my disciplining. (When I am disciplined enough to use it!)

I’m far from an expert, hardly the perfect parent, and by nature am quick-tempered and fiery myself (hmmmm, where does sweet Cora get it?), but I am always, always looking for quick tricks to keep in my back pocket. Do share yours!

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  1. Interestingly, I just had a conversation with my husband about our approach to disciplining our almost 3 year old. He is a lot more consistent into enforcing rules, but it led to a clear preference of me over him, and he is hurt over it. I think I should remind him of focusing on positive. I read before that "good job" is not a good idea. I wrote a post about it some time ago – http://learningwithmouse.blogspot.com/2009/08/encouragement-vs-praise.html

    Reply
    Raising a Happy Child
    18/09/2009
  2. My oldest is three and this age seems to be more challenging than when she was two. This is a great idea in telling her what about the good things she's done. I feel like I say "Good Job" all of the time. This looks hard, but worth it in the end.

    Reply
    Sheena
    18/09/2009
  3. thank you for this. i was so gung ho on reading all the right discipline stuff before baby#1 could even crawl, and sooo much of it is forgotten, esp in the moment! I need to remember this more…

    Reply
    crazytown mama
    18/09/2009
  4. Thank you! We have had a really rough weekend. I needed to be reminded.

    Reply
    Tara Rison
    21/09/2009
  5. Thank you so much for this post – it's a great reminder of all the things I seem to be forgetting when dealing with a small child. Thank you very, very much!

    Reply
    Nicole {tired, need sleep}
    24/09/2009
  6. I wanted to let you know that you have revolutionized not just my relationship with my 2 year old, but helped me be a better person as well. After reading your quick tricks, I checked out Becky Bailey's Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline. I read it cover to cover and was amazed to learn how passive I was in my communication with everyone around me. My relationships with my daughter, my mother and my husband have all improved. Thanks for the great book recommendation.

    Reply
    Shannon
    29/11/2009

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