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Bullying Hurts: How to Prevent It and How to Stop It

As a mom, when something hurts my child’s feelings, it tears my heart apart… no matter how small. Being licensed as a Pre-K through 12 school counselor, it used to break my heart when I learned of bullying in my office. We know bullying can cause many devastating effects, so I find it so important to take bullying seriously. All parties involved – the person being bullied and the person who is doing the bullying – need support and can benefit from learning coping skills and opening up about their experience and feelings. 

What is bullying?

Stopbullying.gov defines bullying as, “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”

Bullying can be verbal, physical, social or cyber bullying.

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Preventing Bullying: 

The last thing we want is for any child to be bullied, therefore, preventative measures are very important. It is the best-case scenario to prevent bullying from happening in the first place. 

Here are some ways we can help prevent bullying:

Help Your Child Develop Self-Esteem

First, you can see even in the definition of bullying that it involves a power imbalance. Oftentimes bullies target someone they perceive as weak. On the other hand, I have found bullies themselves often bully others because of a lack of confidence or a lack of self-esteem.

We can teach our children to be confident in themselves for who they are. We can help build their self-esteem: It’s okay to be yourself. It’s okay to be different. And, it’s okay if someone doesn’t want to be our best friend. Let’s face it, as hurtful as it sounds, there will come a time when another person does not care to be our friend. This does not make us any less of a person. I think it is important for our children and teens to recognize this as well. 

We are huge readers in our house. Here are a few books which teach self-esteem, confidence and feeling comfortable in one’s own skin:

It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny, by Marilyn Sadler

Thelma the Unicorn, by Aaron Blabey

Being Small (Isn’t So Bad After All), by Lori Orlinsky

I’m Gonna Like Me: Letting Off a Little Self-Esteem, by Jamie Lee Curtis

I Wish That I Had Duck Feet, by Dr. Seuss

Point Out Your Child’s Strengths

We can teach our children to be confident in themselves and their individual qualities by pointing them out. Even when our kids are young, we can catch them doing something good and mention it. As they grow, we can point out their positive qualities as well. I think it is important to not only point out what our kids are great at, but also what they are working hard at. We can compliment when they try, when they are working towards something, or when they don’t give up on something.

Teach Kindness

Teaching our kids to be kind is invaluable. We can compliment them when we see them do something kind and give compliments which focus on their heart rather than only on their physical attributes. Although we use both types of compliments in our home from time to time, I try to continually squeeze in that they are beautiful on the inside. Kindness makes beauty. 

Not only can we encourage our kids to be kind; we can encourage them to be inclusive. It is important for kids to understand that they are not required to like everyone but that they are required to be respectful to everyone. Being respectful may even mean including someone even if they aren’t your close friend. I started talking with my children at an early age about looking out for someone who is sitting alone, or playing alone, and I encouraged them to check in with that child. 

We can teach kindness by modeling it. We are modeling kindness even when we don’t realize it. For example, have you ever stopped and held the door for someone on the way out of a restaurant? Do you say thank you to the cashier or associate at the store? Our kids pick up on these things. 

Teach Empathy

We talk about empathy quite a bit in our house. Kids can learn by trying to put themselves in other people’s shoes and imagine how they might feel. Talk about events which actually occurred, or tell a story. Then ask, how would you feel if this happened to you? How do you think that person felt? Here’s an example: how might a child feel who didn’t get invited to a birthday party? Books can help teach empathy. One of our favorites is, The Berenstain Bears and The Golden Rule. Another great one is, The Berenstain Bears: Kindness Counts.

Keep Open Communication with Your Child. 

Ask them about school. Often times, when asked “how was your day?” children will say, “fine,” “good,” or something along these lines. I like to try to get creative with my kids to get them talking. Here are some ideas which have worked for us:

Play a game of questions. 

We like to do this before bed at night. We set a number of questions and ask away. Often the questions end up being would you rather questions, like “would you rather touch a worm, or eat spinach?” Kids get pretty creative! But, I love that I can squeeze in questions like “what was the best (or worst) part of your day today?” 

Best, Worst, and Weirdest 

My husband actually came across this idea, and we tried it and love it! We usually do this during dinner or before bed at night. We go around and each have to share about the best, the worst, and the weirdest part of our days.

Sometimes just keeping communication open with your child will allow them to open up to you when something is wrong.

What to Do If Your Child Is Being Bullied:

Here are some strategies I used when working with students which can be helpful if you have a child experiencing bullying. 

We can talk about these strategies with our children now. If bullying ever takes place, they will have a whole tool kit at their disposal and they will have an idea of what to do. The following strategies can be used alongside reporting the bullying to an administrator, teacher, or to school personnel.  

Fake It ‘til You Make It 

Have you heard of this phrase? As I mentioned before, bullies tend to bully those who they perceive as weak. Therefore, confidence can be key. Even if a child doesn’t feel confident, they can “Fake it ‘til they make it.” They can keep their head up, shoulders back with good posture, and look up and at others. 

Make a Joke and Brush It Off

When an act of teasing occurs, one can make a joke of it and change the subject, or simply brush it off. The less the victim seems to be affected, the more likely the bullying is to stop. For instance, let’s say someone was making fun of my new haircut. I could say, “Yea, I probably shouldn’t have let my baby sister cut it,” laugh and move on. Sometimes, this will be enough to end the comments, stop the conversation, and allow the child to walk away. Another option is to change the subject, or turn and begin talking to another student.

Safety in Numbers

This leads me to my next strategy: Safety in numbers. Encourage your child to walk with a friend. They can even tell the friend what is going on and they can help diffuse a situation if it arises. 

Avoidance

Sometimes, avoiding the bully completely is the best answer. The child can attempt to only go near that person if an adult is close. In the hallway, the child can take a different route. 

Ask Them to Stop 

When bullying occurs, tell the bully to stop loud enough that other students or a teacher will overhear (without yelling). It is also important to make sure not to say anything inappropriate, or both children could end up in trouble.

Name the Behavior

A child can simply name the behavior after it occurs: “That’s bullying. Stop!” Sometimes naming the behavior as bullying can make the bully stop and evaluate what they are doing. 

Diffuse the Bullying

For this strategy, you keep saying “So” or “So what” over and over until the conversation ends. For example:

“Your hair looks horrible.”

“So.”

“That’s the worst haircut ever!”

“So.”

“So, you look ridiculous.”

“So what.”

… at some point, sometimes the bully will get frustrated and walk away.

This strategy also decreases the likelihood of the bullying to occur again because it portrays confidence. This also takes the power away from the bully.

Respond By Being Kind

Have you ever heard the saying, “Kill them with kindness?” This is another one. Most bullies are bullying because they are having their own issue. Maybe they are being bullied themselves. Maybe they lack confidence. Maybe they are jealous for one reason or another. Responding by being kind might confuse the bully or surprise them into stopping. It also exhibits confidence and can make one less of a target. 

You can role-play with your child and practice these strategies. They can even practice these by looking into a mirror. If they practice their responses, they will be more confident when faced with a true issue. For the younger ones, drawing, storytelling, or playing with dolls can be great ways to role play situations.

We can teach along the way as our children grow. We don’t always want to take on the problem and solve it for them, especially if it’s small. Guide them and practice with them as small situations occur. They may be more likely to come to us if they are facing something difficult. 

Of course, if your child is showing signs of sadness or if they do not seem like themselves, go talk to someone and get help. Most schools have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying. School personnel can be a huge help. Simply being aware of the situation will allow the school personnel to intervene if an issue occurs. 

I always reminded my students, there may be something going on in that student’s life which is causing them to act this way. In order words, I might say, “They are the one with the problem, not you. Just because they say something to you or about you doesn’t make it true.” A lot of times students felt there must be something wrong with them when they were being bullied. Helping them see that they are not the person with the problem helped. 

What If My Child Is the Bully?

What if my child is a bully? Many of the tips in the “preventing bullying” section above apply if you find your child is bullying others. Often times, children who are bullying are experiencing some sort of bullying or are lacking confidence themselves. I believe having a conversation with your child and checking in with their feelings is very important. Here are some questions you could ask your child.

When talking with your child about what happened, try to use “what” questions rather than “why” questions. Questions that begin with “why” typically lead to a feeling of being blamed.

For instance, instead of, “Why did you do that?” you could ask, “What happened?” or “What was going through your mind?” 

As mentioned earlier, you can help your child use empathy:

  • “How do you think she felt when you called her stupid?”
  • “Imagine someone said that about you. How would you feel?”
  • “If you would feel sad if that was said to you, what made you say it to them?”
  • “How did you feel right before you made the hurtful comment?” 

(Getting to the bottom of whether they were feeling sad, angry, annoyed, jealous, and so on can be helpful).

Creating a “feeling wheel” can be helpful for the younger ones. Simply draw a circle. Have your child color in the circle, with different colors representing different feelings. This can help get a conversation started about how to appropriately handle our feelings. 

Here are some other great questions to ask overtime. You may find at certain times children are more open to talk than others. Try talking to them at different times during the day and see what works best. My children are more likely talk right before they go to sleep at night. 

  • How do you feel when you are at school?
  • Do you like school?
  • Tell me about your best friends.
  • Has anyone been bugging you?
  • Do you ever feel sad at school?

Of course, if your child does not want to open up or talk with you about bullying, setting up an appointment with the school counselor, or an outside counselor can be invaluable. Counselors can help children practice empathy, teach coping skills, and help children identify and work through their feelings in healthy ways. 

To learn more about me and my blog, check out: About Lauren

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Looking Back: When My Heart Went Off to Kindergarten

My first baby went off to Kindergarten around this time last year. Now, she is soon to start first grade. I wrote the below post when I was right in the middle of all of the feelings of my first child going off to school. Last year, I was full of worry. I would often end up in tears as I imagined my daughter being off at school without me. I knew it would be a struggle to hold it together on that first day, or that I would fail at holding it together completely. 

Well, here we are… with a Kindergarten graduate and soon-to-be first grader! And we survived! All of us! 

Shockingly, I didn’t end up crying on that first day. My baby girl just hopped right up on that bus and looked back with only a smile. She came home that day happy as can be… and I was surprisingly okay! 

She had a great year. Of course we had bumps in the road, and some moments where it pained me to hear of a tough situation at school, but these moments also brought us closer. Each of these moments helped her learn and grow.

So, to all of you parents out there with babies starting school, check out my original post below. And remember, you’ve got this! Tears are to be expected, but the start of school may just go smoother than you expect. You are there for them and that is what matters most!

And PS: Her backpack lasted all year…

“They say” having a child means you are forever deciding to have your heart walk outside of your body.

This is one quote which most parents have heard and which most can truly identify with.

My daughter, my first baby, is going to kindergarten in a few weeks. I can imagine it. My heart is playing on the playground and falls and gets hurt. I won’t be there to comfort her. My heart may be made fun of by another child. She may not be included in a game with friends or not invited to a sleepover. She may be picked last in gym class. She may have an asthma attack and I may not be there to protect her. She may not enjoy school. She may miss being home with me.

Having my heart on the outside, I feel so exposed.

These are the big things I worry about, but even the small things cause me to panic. My sister-in-law was shopping with me one day and we came across the backpacks for back to school. She asked me if she could buy my daughter’s first backpack for school. To be honest, I froze for a minute. I panicked a bit and I wasn’t sure what to say. I had heard so much talk about getting the right backpack for school on social media that I was conflicted.

Should I get her first backpack? Should she be the one to pick it out? Should I get the super nice backpack from Pottery Barn Kids which is going to last? If I don’t get her the super nice backpack, will her backpack be good enough?

Then I realized, here I am focusing on what “they say” again. Sometimes we allow what “they say” make us feel like we aren’t enough, or that our decisions for our children aren’t good enough. It is hard not to when we are bombarded by social media, the internet and so on. There are so many opinions hitting us right in the face that we feel bad when our opinion differs.

I think about my daughter being in school. I wouldn’t want her to do something just because her peers are doing it. I would want her to make her own choices. If she likes something different than her peers, I don’t want her to feel bad. I don’t want her to fear standing out just because she makes a decision different than most of those around her. I want her to be herself… to be who she wants to be.

So that is what I did. After my long pause—I am sure my sister-in-law wondered why on earth this was such a hard question to answer—I told her, “Yes, you can buy her the backpack.” Because you know what, who cares what other people say or do. It doesn’t matter.

To those of you moms out there who bought your kids the best, longest-lasting backpack there is, congratulations! You are a wonderful mom! Your child will have a backpack which may last them through the elementary years. To those of you moms who bought your child the Walmart character backpack, or the plain backpack which I always had as a child, congratulations! You are a wonderful mom! You bought your child a backpack which will work for them! And for those of you who gave your child the hand-me-down backpack, Congratulations! You are a wonderful mom! Your child has what they need for school. And if something happens to the backpack we provide, the good news is, we can always buy a new one.

So, right now, instead of focusing on what everyone else is doing to prepare their children for kindergarten, I am going to focus on soaking up every single last snuggle that I can before my heart goes off to school without me. Then, I am going to trust that I have given her what she needs to succeed, both physically and emotionally, and I will be right there for her if she ever needs more.

Lindsey Martin Photography

To learn more about me and my blog, check out: About Lauren

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Parenting with Grace

If you ever feel like you are failing as a parent, do one thing… 

Give yourself some grace!

Why?

Because it’s okay not to be perfect! In fact, it’s best not to be! 

If we were perfect as parents, perfect in every way [impossible], how would this make our children feel? What would it teach them? 

Might it make our kids feel like they have to be perfect too?

If they fail at being perfect, could they start to feel like they don’t add up?

One day will they ask themselves, why can’t I seem to keep it together like my mom always did?

Even, would they want to hide their imperfections and mistakes from us thinking that we wouldn’t understand?

Most importantly, if we were always perfect, we would never teach our kids or model what it means to give ourselves grace. 

Parenting with Grace

It’s hard to give ourselves grace. In fact, the word I chose to focus on for this year’s “new year’s resolution” was grace. Why? Because I was having such a hard time letting myself off the hook. I was holding myself to too high of a standard.

As humans we are supposed to make mistakes. How else would we learn? When we make mistakes, we can model this for our kids: I messed up and it’s okay, because I am going to grow! And then we can show them how we grow. 

A Building Block for Self-Esteem

I would argue that one of the most important things we teach our kids is how to give ourselves grace. It’s a building block for self-esteem and feeling good about oneself, for accepting oneself for who we are, and for not being so hard on ourselves. 

There are many ways to teach this concept, one of which is modeling it for them. Another way is having a simple conversation. Here is a personal example. When my kids make a mistake [after providing a consequence if needed], I try tell them: Everyone makes mistakes and it’s okay! The problem comes in when we keep making the same mistakes over and over—when we don’t learn from them. We brainstorm ideas of how we can avoid making a mistake again. The goal isn’t perfection. The goal is to utilize the mistakes we make to help shape us into who we are meant to be. Finally, we talk about what we learned. Every lesson makes us grow as a person. 

So mamas, do you ever feel like you aren’t doing enough? Are you ever unsure whether you handled a behavior issue correctly? Unsure if you disciplined enough or maybe if you did too much? Are you too hard on yourself? Let it all go! First, there is no one right way! And second, if we focus on grace for both us and the child, and on what we can learn, I don’t think we can go wrong.

Just remember, it’s okay not to be perfect! 

Without the lessons, without the mistakes, and without the growth, where would we all be? When in doubt, give yourself some grace!

To learn more about Lauren and her blog, check out: About Lauren

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We Are Blessed, but Our Kids Are Blessed Too!

We all know that we are blessed to have our children. I see or hear a parent sharing daily about how blessed they feel to have their kids. I feel the same way! My kids are my biggest blessing. Not a day goes by where I don’t feel blessed to have them in my life.

On the hard days—when our children are acting out, or when someone loses it for the hundredth time—we still don’t lose sight of how blessed we are. Even on those extra hard days… when we are just trying to make it through to bedtime… we remember how blessed we are once we see them sleeping peacefully as the day comes to a close.

But, something that seems easier for us to forget is that our children are also blessed to have us! Yes, our children are blessed too! 

Why is it that it can be so hard to believe that our children are also blessed to have us? Many days I find myself questioning if I am good enough – if I am enough for my children. Did I discipline them right? Did I yell too much? Did I play with them enough? Did I focus on them enough or was I too wrapped up in my day to day responsibilities? Even… it’s hard to admit, but… Am I messing up my kids?

Parenting is so difficult and there are so many rules, so many opinions on what is the right way to parent, that it can be difficult to feel like we are doing anything right. It makes me sad that this can make us feel like our children are less than blessed. 

Thus, I want to share a reminder today: 

Our children are blessed to have us.

Our children are blessed when we dry their tears.

Our children are blessed when we discipline them, when we teach them right from wrong, when we help them become the people they are meant to be.

Our children are blessed when we make them breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and every snack there in between.

Our children are blessed when they are sad and can’t seem to figure out why and we help them get to the bottom of those feelings.

Our children are blessed when they fall and we kiss the boo-boo and remind them that they have what it takes to get back up and try again.

Our children are blessed when we give them—even a tiny snippet of—time where the whole world seems to stop and revolve around them. 

Our children are blessed when we find magic with them, or even when we let them show us the magic… in the birds who tweet and sing, in the caterpillar who will soon turn into a butterfly, in the rainbow which just showed up on the kitchen floor from the light in the window.

Our children are blessed when we make a mistake and show them how we learn from it.

Our children are blessed because they know that they are the biggest blessing in our lives. This comes through, even on our hard days.

Our children are blessed because we love them like no one else can. I strongly believe we were paired with our children for a reason and that we are exactly what they need.

Everyone has hard days. Everyone makes mistakes. We are human! But, this does not make us any less of a parent or any less of what our children need. It doesn’t make them any less blessed to have us.

Our children are our biggest blessing, but the way that we love our children is also the biggest blessing that they will ever have. Never lose sight of this.

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To learn more about Lauren and her blog check out, About Lauren

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What They Say About Parenting: Podcast Episode

They Say Parenting is a guest on The Happy Student Podcast!

As a guest on the Happy Student Podcast, we are talking with the Fireborn Institute about what “they say” and how this effects our parenting!

Check it out here:

On Apple Podcasts

On the Fireborn Institute Website

Highlights:

“There are times it doesn’t matter what ‘they say.’ We just need to do what works. I’ve found thoughts about comparison should be the exception, not the basis or the standard of how we parent.”

Hear about the goals behind my blog and my book, They Say, Not Your Average Parenting Book:

First are foremost, we are not alone! We are great parents, mistakes and all! And, we don’t always have to listen to what “they say.” There is no substitute for experience!

On the podcast, I am sharing about my own personal experiences when what “they” said just didn’t make sense for me and my kids.

I am also sharing my thoughts on social media and how it can impact us parents:

“It’s heartbreaking at a time where we have social media and we can reach out to each other as moms and uplift each other, many times, just the opposite happens. You are looking for an answer, but you end up feeling worse.”

The Happy Student Podcast is produced by the Fireborn Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to insuring every student meets their full potential by providing parents the tools to help their children succeed. It is a wonderful organization and I am so happy to be a part of their podcast!

To be the first in the know, follow They Say Parenting on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter!

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To learn more about me and my blog: About Lauren

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Don’t Let Your Marriage Take a Backseat After Kids

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about enjoying life where I am. It’s so easy to get into the “I can’t wait fors” and the “one days” and it becomes so hard to be present in the now. But I know I need to be present because one day it will all be different. 

We all know that one day the kids will be grown and there will be no more hands to hold or children to rock back to sleep. One day the kids will grow up and become adults and will move out. “They” say, “Time is fleeting!” or “Time is a thief!” We are reminded of this with each little milestone, with each new word learned, with each inch our children grow. Sometimes, something as simple as a look they give us can snap us back to reality as we are reminded that they are growing up into their own little people. We know we will one day miss these days so much, but there is also something else to consider. 

When this happens, when the kids grow, when they move out and move on… then it will be me and my husband. It will just be the two of us! Thus, it’s important we don’t forget to nurture this relationship too. It can be so easy to get wrapped up in the current fire we are putting out or in just getting through the days, that we put our relationship with our significant other on the back burner. 

My Realization

The other day, I was feeling exhausted and burnt out. I was feeling like I was just going through the motions to get through the day. I noticed that my husband and I’s relationship had taken a backseat. I was taking care of the kids all day and my husband went to work. By the time he got home, I was tired. He was tired. We struggled to get the kids to sleep… seriously, nighttime is a beast y’all… and threw on a show and fell asleep on the couch. There was very little interaction. This was a daily occurrence. Life was starting to feel lonely. As I thought about this, I suddenly realized, One day the kids will be gone and we will be able focus on us again… but what if there is no more us to focus on? What if we have gotten so used to surviving and getting through the day that the old “us” is missing—gone? 

Photo Credit: Lindsey Martin Photography

At this point, we decided to plan a vacation for just the two of us. It’s hard to describe just how much we needed it. There were a few things I loved about this trip. 

I was served food the entire time, and I didn’t have to serve anyone… not one kid! 

I saw true beauty. It’s so easy to see when you can sit there and stare at it without a single interruption. And bonus, I was reminded of the beauty of us!

I learned that I am still myself—even after all three kids—I was still under there.

And, best of all, I saw how much I missed my kids even in a time where I could totally have time to myself. I felt recharged and couldn’t wait to get back to them.

marriage after kids

Ideas to Keep Your Marriage Off of the Back Burner

A vacation alone is not always possible, so one of the best ways I can think to solve this issue is to be present in the now—not just with the kids—but with your significant other too. Try to find joy in the current moment, right smack dab in the middle of the craziness. Play with the kids, watch a movie as a family, or go for a walk outside. You like gardening? Garden together. You like working out? Work out together. You like ice cream—who doesn’t?? Go get ice cream together. We can still focus on the present in our daily lives. We can still find the true beauty in the mundane. We can teach our kids to slow down and look for the beauty—to take a moment to smell the coffee, if you will—WITH us. 

For each other, I found I needed to make an effort to ask, “how was your day,” even if it’s after the kids go to sleep… and then truly listen to the response. Other ideas to keep your relationship at the forefront are:

Spend an evening after the kids are asleep just talking, with no TV or phones. Get a sitter. Go on a date or a short vacation. We went for only three nights and it was glorious. If you hesitate to leave the kids overnight and you are working parents, take a day off from work and have a whole day date while the kids are at school or in childcare. Have a date night after the kids are asleep in the comfort of your own home… a movie with popcorn and boxes of candy, cook a meal together and sit down and eat it with no interruptions, play cards! Anything!

We hear a lot about how we need to find “me-time” these days, and how we need to take time away as a couple, and this is so important! But remember, we can’t just do these things and then live miserably in the present otherwise. So, find ways to enjoy the now as much as possible, no matter the crazy, so that there are no regrets!

Marriage after kids
Photo Credit: Lindsey Martin Photography

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How to Rock the Transitions as Your Baby Turns One

My baby is turning one! Now what?

“They say” congratulations you made it past the first year! 

“They say” it’s so exciting when you reach age one—like whew! Things are easier, smooth-sailing now! You did it! It truly is exciting and many things DO become easier, BUT, there are a lot of changes happening as baby turns one! To be honest, for me transitions can be anxiety producing.

At age one, babies are transitioning from baby food to “big kid” food, switching from formula to regular milk (this can be especially challenging if you have a milk or soy intolerant baby like us), and they are moving from a bottle to a sippy cup. They are becoming more mobile, and as they meet milestones, it may affect their sleep. You may even be transitioning away from sleep aides like a sound machine or wearable blanket.

When making these transitions, sometimes it seems there are more questions than answers:

What if my baby won’t drop the bottle? 

What if they hate milk? 

During a regression—What if they never sleep through the night again? Ahh!

… and so on.

Well, they will sleep again, AND here are some tips which have helped us with our three kiddos! Hopefully these tips will help you rock the transitions as your baby turns one and make the transitions smoother for you.

Transitioning to the Sippy Cup

First, start the sippy cup early. As soon as it is okay with the pediatrician, and before age one, you can begin offering liquids in a sippy cup. I have found this helps our babies get used to holding and drinking from a cup.

Try different sippy cups. My kids have all struggled moving from the bottle nipple to a hard sippy cup spout. Here are two cups which have worked wonders for us.

This Nuk Learner Sippy Cup worked wonders for my first two children. They easily transitioned from the bottle to the soft cup spout.

This Mam Trainer Cup worked for our third baby when she would take nothing else. It was such a life-saver. This sippy cup comes with two different nipples. One looks almost like a flat bottle nipple. We used this one first to transition her off of the Dr. Brown bottles. Then, we switched to the other included nipple which looks more like a soft sippy spout.

Another great option is a sippy cup with a straw. Here is our favorite. Our youngest does well with these too!

Start slow. Remember, it’s not a race and there is no rush. For me, realizing this helped take the pressure off a bit and decreased some anxiety.

transition tips at age one

Transitioning to Milk

Transitioning from formula or breastmilk to regular milk is another big transition for our little ones. Here are some tips we have learned along the way:

One change at a time. If you find your baby is having a hard time with a transition, sometimes I have found it beneficial to go back and make only one change at a time. For example, when my baby refused to go from a room-temperature bottle of formula to a cold sippy cup of milk, I broke it down and changed one thing at a time. You can mix the formula or breastmilk with the regular milk and decrease the amount of formula over-time, for example. This was so important for my third baby. She is dairy and soy intolerant, and refused anything we tried at first. This was key for finally getting her onto the almond milk which she needed.

You can warm up the milk to start and then slowly warm it less and less until they are drinking regular cold milk. You can also replace one bottle with a sippy cup at a time, rather than stopping all bottles “cold-turkey.” Every baby and every family is different, so I find it best to try different approaches and find an approach which works for you. Hang in there, it will happen!

If your child is not into milk, try not to worry. My first child went from hating milk to milk now being her drink of choice. I can’t even keep it stocked in the fridge she drinks it so fast. In the mean time, keep offering it and remember, vitamins come from other foods besides milk.

Foods containing Vitamin D are: Fatty fish, some dairy products (like cheese), egg yolks, and fortified orange juice and cereals.

Foods containing Calcium: Cheese, yogurt, but also leafy greens like spinach and kale, soybeans or white beans, and fortified orange juice

For the full list check out: Top Foods for Calcium and Vitamin D

Protein can be found in seafood, meats, eggs, beans, yogurt, cheese, and soy.

For the full list: Good Protein Sources

I also found myself worrying because my child was taking in less milk than they were formula or breast milk. But remember, as their food intake increases, they are getting more and more vitamins and calories from that food. Our pediatrician recommended removing baby food by 15 months, so if you are worried about liquid intake, take your time in transitioning away from baby food. We also give fruit pouches from time to time for more liquid along with their meals.

Transition tips for age one

More “Big Kid” Food and Less “Baby Food”

I have learned some kids have a food texture issue, including a couple of my own. My first two children didn’t like texture of meats for the longest time. My biggest tip is to keep offering it, while also trying thinly sliced lunch meat, eggs, peanut butter (when the pediatrician allows), beans—even baked beans—for the protein. See a great list of high-protein foods in the previous section.

For extra vitamins, one key word: Smoothies! Hide everything in there! 

We like to hide veggies in our food around here. Ours loved spinach mixed into eggs. We used frozen, chopped spinach—so easy. Simply fry it up in the pan and add eggs. Kale works well too.

Sleep Transitions and Regressions

With turning one, all three of my babies had sleep regressions… or sleep “transitions” as Motherly’s sleep expert calls them. Read more about this here: This Expert Wants You To Know: Sleep Regressions Aren’t Real.

Whether it is from meeting a milestone/ walking, teething, or the molars are coming in something fierce, it happens.

The best thing we did was try to remain consistent with bed time. We also used “cry it out.” Every family is different, this may or may not be for you [and you know we are ALL about going with what works for you], but this technique simply worked for us. When baby started crying, we came in to check on them at increasing increments, for example, first after 2 minutes, then returned after 5 minutes, then 10, and so on. Depending on the child, the first night could be rough, but after that, the sleep was progressively better… and so was my sanity.

To top it all off, you may be considering taking baby out of a wearable blanket or removing a white noise sound machine around this time. I almost typed time machine… if that’s not telling, I don’t know what is. They grow too fast! I’m still in shock that my last baby is one.

Back to the point… for us, we decided to remove the white noise sound machine we had been using and the wearable blanket a couple of months after our babies turned one. We waited for any sleep regressions to pass, and then one at a time, we made these changes. Our babies did fine without these sleep aids and transitioned with no issues. You may decide to keep these longer. The most important thing here is to do what you feel is best. In my book, using that parenting intuition is always best.

Always Remember

Babies grow and develop at different rates! Even my own three kids developed differently. Don’t let it get to you if you see other’s—friends… other parents on social media—with babies developing more quickly than yours. Here is a great article from Baby Center about the ranges for development which may bring you some peace of mind – Developmental Milestones: What to Expect From Birth to Age 3. Of course, if you have any concerns, always check with your pediatrician.

I’ve learned that sometimes the best transition is not a transition at all. It is just to leave things alone. When we feel we are not ready for a transition or that baby isn’t ready, sometimes it’s best to simply go with our gut and wait.

This post is not a substitute for medical advice. I am not a medical professional. Always speak with your pediatrician when you have medical concerns.

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To learn more about me and my blog, check out – About Lauren

You may also enjoy – Motherhood: What We Don’t Talk About

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Motherhood: What We Don’t Talk About

It’s so easy to talk about the joys of parenthood—about all the wonderful things our children say and do. 

Like when your daughter is reading above her grade level, or when you notice your son understands emotions better than some adults—when he is upset and crying but can somehow verbalize it in appropriate feeling words. Or, when your baby meets a milestone, starts walking, or talking. Or maybe you had a “mom-win” when your child shared well with other children at the public library. This list could go on.

It’s a lot harder to talk about the difficult moments. 

Like the other day when I was burnt out from taking care of three children while not feeling well myself. First, there is the fact that parents don’t get true sick days— we have to push through. Well, my son asked for eggs so I made him some. Then my daughter changed her mind and asked for eggs too. Once I cooked them, everyone changed their minds and no one wanted eggs. All the while the baby was screaming, because she was hungry too. As the baby screamed, the older kids started screaming, crying, and fighting over a game. The game pieces flew everywhere! And honestly, all the screaming got to me until I was screaming and crying myself. All of the pent-up emotion I had been holding back during that difficult week came pouring out. 

Why is it so hard to talk about moments like this?

Why is it that people don’t want to share their truth? 

We may instead hold it all in and shove it down deep. Maybe it all comes down to what “they say.” We see “them” out there with the shiny lives, sharing the good for all to see. But the truth is, it’s not ALL good for ANYONE. Everyone has their struggles. There are times when you can see the smile on my face—maybe you would never know that at that moment my stomach feels like it’s closing in on itself and it’s hard to breathe. 

Where do feelings like these come from?

Maybe they come because parenting is hard. Maybe we are giving so much of ourselves and forgetting to charge ourselves back up. Maybe we feel so alone in it all because no one is talking about the hard parts. Parenting can be so lonely. 

So let’s fix this. Let’s open up about the way we are feeling, about the hard days, about the struggles. Let’s lean on each other, help each other, and tell each other that it’s going to be okay… that we have been there too and have come out okay. 

And don’t get me wrong, I love being a parent. It’s not that I am unthankful for this beautiful gift I have been given—because I am. I am so thankful in fact that it’s the main reason I feel this way: The days where I know I have been given such blessings but I feel like I’m only messing it up. And the truth is we all feel this way at times, parents or not. No one is free from troubles or tough spots. So let’s share our truth. Open up about the way we are feeling and be there for the parent who is currently struggling. Let’s show each other that we aren’t in this alone and that we are not the only ones feeling this way. Maybe then we can put a dent in this phenomenon of feeling like we aren’t enough.

motherhood what we don't talk about

To learn more about me and my blog, check out – About Lauren

You may also enjoy – Snowplow Parenting: What You Need to Know or Sometimes Strength Requires a Break

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Snowplow Parenting: What You Need to Know

You may have heard of the term, “helicopter parent.” In the wake of the college admission scandal, a term you might not know, “snowplow parenting,” is reemerging in the headlines. This parenting style, which revolves around removing obstacles from a child’s path can actually be harmful.

If you missed this amazing segment on the Today Show, Snowplow parenting: why it’s good to let your kids fail, family counselor, Dr. Argie Allen Wilson, talks about how letting our kids fail isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it can be quite beneficial for our children. 

What do you need to know about snowplow parenting?

What is Snowplow Parenting?

Dr. Argie Allen Wilson defines it on the Today Show as “moving everything out the way, all obstacles so that your children don’t even know they have a problem.” “They think there is a smooth path to life, which is unrealistic.”

Allowing Our Kids to Fail

Dr. Wilson continues with, “they’ve gotta be able to have the coping skills and the problem-solving skills to deal with any situation. We’ve gotta let them fail.”

Not allowing our kids to fail is detrimental to their ability to be resilient. Children need to know that it’s okay to fail. It leads to growth, and also, through failure they learn the art of bouncing back.

My daughter really put this into perspective for me a couple of months ago. Here’s how:

I have recently come to the conclusion that my six-year-old daughter is a perfectionist. I noticed that she did not want to fail in any area and would avoid failing at all costs… even if this meant giving up.

I first noticed when she tried to ride a bike. She found it hard, so she simply didn’t want to do it. Then, again, when she was trying to learn how to tie her shoes. She would fail at tying the shoe and then she would put the shoe down and whine that she didn’t want to do it anymore. I could tell it made her upset and frustrated to say the least.

One day, it became clear to me that it wasn’t that she couldn’t learn to tie the shoe… it was that she hated failing at it. So, we had a talk about failure.

I told her “failing at something isn’t a bad thing.” I said, “in fact, I think it is GOOD when you fail.”

She looked at me like she was super confused.

I explained that if we never fail, how would we ever grow and learn new things? I told her every time we fail at something, continue trying, and master it, we have grown as a person.

She loves art, so I gave her this example: “Imagine if you really wanted to draw a circle and you couldn’t seem to get it right, so you just decided never to draw again. What would happen then? You wouldn’t have all the joy you get out of coloring and drawing anymore. And, you never would have learned to draw a unicorn like you love to draw so much.

This seemed to make sense to her and she was willing to try again. Through recognizing that it was okay to fail, she decided not to give up.

“Failing Forward”

Dr. Wilson calls it “failing forward.” In the clip she says, “When we fail, that gives us fuel in order to be motivated for not IF, but WHEN the next curveball comes… And so when you’re failing at something, that’s going to give you that motivation, that movement, to go forward for the next thing that happens.”

Think about it, there are going to be times when our children will face disappointment in life, when they will fail. Rather than giving up, we want our children to be motivated to figure out how to make a change or move forward. By allowing them to fail and then encouraging them to problem solve, they will be better able to do just this.

You may wonder, well, won’t my child be more upset if I let them fail?

I bet the benefits of failing and learning will far outway any current disappointment.

In fact, after allowing my daughter to fail at tying her shoes and reminding her that it was okay to fail, I was shocked that the very next day she came home and told me she tied a shoe for her friend. She then grabbed a shoe and tied it right in front of my eyes.

Whats more? The, next night, as I was giving the baby her bath, my daughter said, “Mom, I failed so much today that I bet I’m getting really tall.”

Okay, so maybe I didn’t explain what growth meant as well as I should have! Ha! But, I think she got the point… and failing no longer seemed to make her feel bad. It seemed to encourage her to keep trying until she was able to figure it out.

“Launching”

Dr. Argie Allen Wilson also talks about preparing our children for adulthood. She talks about guiding our children, but warns against doing everything for them.

“It’s called launching… so you’re preparing your children to launch them into adulthood… so gradually, yes, you want to help direct them and guide them, but you don’t want to do everything for them.”

On Toddlers: Building Problem Solving Skills

It is never too early to teach our children problem solving skills. When asked about toddlers, Dr. Wilson shares, “If they are asking you to help them solve a problem, ask them, ‘well what do you think?’ Give them some options. Help them to figure it out for themselves so they begin at a young age to develop their problem solving skills.”

We recently participated in a podcast from Dinner Table MBA which is full of more information on building resilience and coping skills in our children and on allowing them to fail. Check out our blog post here: 3 Steps to Raise a Resilient Child Who Bounces Back.

I’ll leave you with, as Dr. Wilson states, “listen, one setback is just a set up for a comeback.”

Imagine if our children learned and believed this, how much easier it would be for them to comeback instead of giving up. And, we can start teaching this important concept now!

Photo Credit: Lindsey Martin Photography

To learn more about me and my blog, check out: About Lauren

You may also enjoy: 10 Reasons Why Parents and Zookeepers Are Alike

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10 Reasons Why Parents and Zookeepers Are Alike

I’m pretty sure being a parent gives us the credentials to be a zoo keeper. Here are 10 reasons why parents and zookeepers are alike.

1. I can clean up poop like it’s my job. 

Baby poop, toddler poop, poop where it shouldn’t be, identifying if something is in fact poop—we can do it all.

2. Taming wild animals—check!

Wrangling animals— another check! Sometimes having a baby with reflux is like wrangling an alligator… the kicks, the twists, the arching.

And then there are toddler tantrums… Need I say more?

3. Physical strength and endurance from chasing and constraining toddlers—got it!

If you don’t believe me, try to put shoes on a toddler.

putting shoes on a toddler

4. Feeding animals who can’t seem to be satisfied—I got that one down as well. 

One word: Toddlers. If I can con two toddlers into eating a bite of broccoli, I’m sure I can feed wild animals.

Speaking of feeding, we can even empathize with the animals. There have been many times I have felt like an actual cow. Breastfeed, pump, get baby situated, clean pump, and repeat… all day and night.

5. Then there are the feeding schedules—another check! 

Baby needs to eat every two to three hours. Toddler needs to eat at 8:00, 12:00, 4:00… and then have snacks at 8:30, 9:00, 9:15, 9:20… You get my point, right?

why parents and zookeepers are alike

6. Taking care of the sick—got it!

Between three kids, I feel like someone is always sick. But, this makes us pretty good at dealing with illness, and we know exactly what our kids need to feel better.

7. Giving medicine—got that down too!

In my house, sometimes bringing out medicine leads to immediate chaos. The “yucky medicine” can lead to tears, pleading, and sometimes even throw up. Nothing a little added chocolate syrup or a quick treat can’t solve. 

8. Getting bit—check!

Does every baby go through a biting stage? Ouch! Whether it’s biting during breastfeeding, a bite while trying to pry something out of a child’s mouth that shouldn’t be there, or biting due to toddlerdom, every parent has probably been bit at a one time or another. 

reasons why parents and zookeepers are alike

9. I have accepted the fact that I will always have something sticky or gross on my clothes—or in my hair.

Snot, poop, milk, spit-up, syrup, a squished fruit snack, food… you name it! Something is always there.

10. And finally, we truly love and care about our little animals!

Seriously, how could we not? 

Sometimes we don’t give ourselves enough credit for all the things we do for our children and families! Do you ever feel like you aren’t enough? Well, the truth is, we are enough! We are everything and MORE to our kids!

To learn more about me and my blog, check out: About Lauren

You may also enjoy: The Best and Worst Parenting Advice from the Real Experts: Parents or 17 Time-Saving Parenting Tips

reasons why parents and zookeepers are alike

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