Monday, December 12, 2016

Liar, Liar, Pants-on-Fire (part 2)

Q: My preschooler has started making up all kinds of stories. From things that happened when he was in school ("There was a clown today." "So-and-so's mommy had a baby" - so embarrassing when I wished so-and-so's family congratulations and they had no idea what I was talking about!) to things that happen at home ("my toys colored on the wall, not me"). Why is he lying and what can I do about it?

A: Preschoolers don't yet have a solid handle on what is true and what is not. They're still trying to grasp it themselves, and they certainly aren't trying to be malicious when they make up stories. There is a fine line for little ones between what they remember happening and what they imagine or wish might have happened, and they are not clear on where that line is drawn.

When your child colors on the wall, try to focus on the real issue - "In this house we only color on paper" - and not on asking how the mess happened. (Asking "Did you color on the wall?" is just inviting your child to say "no, of course not.")

When your child fantasizes about a clown coming to visit his classroom, this is something that really did happen... in his imagination. Engage him in conversation to help activate this imagination, which is a great tool that is worth developing. But steer him in the direction of "wouldn't it be nice if a clown came to school? What would you like to see a clown do? Who else would it be fun to have visit you at school?" so that he starts to be able to differentiate between fact and fiction.

Telling "what if" stories is great for exercising imagination and it's also a great way to spend quality time with your preschooler. You can even branch out into playing a fact-or-fiction game with him. Tell him two things that "happened" to you today and have him guess which one is real and which one is pretend. Then have him tell you two things that "happened" to him.

Don't worry that your preschooler is lying to you. He's just trying to figure out what's what in this big, confusing world of ours. Talking to him and playing with him can help him understand not only the difference between fact and fiction, but also appropriate ways to interact with others (i.e. telling the truth).

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Sleeping Like a Baby

Q: My baby seems to think nighttime is from 4am till 12pm. We try to get her down at 9pm and she will fight us till 12am, sleep till 4ish then wake up, take a bottle and sleep till 12pm. How can I fix this crazy schedule?

A: Wake your daughter up at 7 am. Yes, you're both going to be exhausted because neither of you has had enough sleep. But you need to do this. For the greater good.

Don't let her sleep till noon. This is the problem. No baby that sleeps until noon is going to be tired enough to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

Wake her up and take her outside in the daylight. Engage her, keep her active.

A couple of hours later you can let her take a nap for an hour - but don't let her sleep longer than this. Wake her up again, get her out of the house and engage her. Keep her awake.

She will be irritable when you do this. You're gonig to have to deal with it. In my experience, the best way to deal with an irritable baby is to be out of the house, where there are lots of distractions. Maybe make a play date at the park with another mom and baby.

Having been up since 7 am, your baby will be very tired come 7 pm. You may even want to put her to bed earlier than what seems to be a reasonable bed time. Keep an eye out for cues from her - if she is yawning or rubbing her eyes, jump on that "sleepiness window" and put her to bed even if it's only 5:30 pm. Don't miss the window or she will get overtired and will refuse to go to sleep when you want her to.

It might take a few days, but be consistent. Wake her up at 7 am no matter how many or how few hours both of you have gotten. I guarantee you that by the end of a week, she will be sleeping at night and not during the day.