Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bad Habits

We all have bad habits even if we don't like to admit it.  Do you bite your nails? Drink straight from the milk carton? Text while driving??

Well, we sometimes fall into bad parenting habits, too.  And, the thing about habits is that, once you start them, it can be very hard to break them.  We don't mean to form these habits.  Many times they "just happen" or it is something we do out of momentary necessity.  If you are like me, they may be things you said you would do "Just this once," but, then, it happened again and again.

Most of the time, we don't like to admit we have these habits because we think it makes us bad parents (or, at least, we think that we will be judged by others as bad parents).  However, this prevents us from getting potentially helpful advice from others and it makes us feel that we are the only ones experiencing these frustrations (which make it more frustrating!).  The truth is, we all have a bad parenting habit or two and I think we need to be more open about it.  It will make all of us feel better and, hopefully, lead to some useful advice.  I say, let's share.  

To make it easier, I'll go first.  

Here are two bad habits that we have overcome:

1) The pacifier - All three of my daughters used a pacifier, so I'm not saying that using a pacifier is a bad habit.  It is a bad habit, though, when your oldest daughter is approaching 4 years old and still uses it all the time -  as in won't take it out even when she wants to speak - all the time.  This fact was pointed out to us in a very not-so-subtle way by the pediatrician we were seeing at the time (in another state).  However, that pediatrician also gave me some very helpful information.   She said that babies originally do use the pacifier to quench their sucking instinct. However, sometime between 9-15 months, it becomes more of a comfort attachment - just like a blanket or stuffed animal - and they no longer need it for the sucking.  According to her, after that 15 month mark it becomes MUCH harder to get rid of it.  So, with my second and third daughters, we simply cut the tip of the pacifier (which causes it to lose suction) when they were about 12 or 14 months old.  Once they realized it was "broken," they lost interest pretty quickly and it was an easy transition.  Since my oldest was already past that point, we decided to go cold turkey.  It was not pretty, but we just had to commit wholeheartedly and follow through.

2) Co-Sleeping - This one is NOT a bad habit if it works for you.  For my family, however, it was not something we intended to do.  It was one of those "just this once" moments that happened when our first child had her first ear infection and had been crying all night long.  It quickly became a habit.  Unfortunately, I don't think there is any easy way to break this habit.  We did it through "sleep training"  which involved letting her cry it out.  It was awful - I won't lie.  And, to make it worse, we repeated the same mistake with our second daughter!!  We didn't let it continue as long, though, so it was a little easier to stop.

Now, here are two current bad habits with which we are struggling.  Suggestions???  Please share~

1) Too much sugar - This is one that has been building slowly over time, but sort of smacked me in the face a few days ago when I realized I was giving my youngest this for breakfast:
Yep - that's a chocolate chip pancake with extra chocolate chips AND sprinkles.
I think it started by us letting them have soda ONLY at restaurants.  Then, they started having them at home.  We also "encouraged" them to eat a good dinner by letting them pick a dessert from the candy bowl.  But, then they wanted the candy bowl for snack and after lunch, too.  I know what you are saying - "Just say no!"  But, we all know it is never that simple.  Like most kids, mine are picky eaters.  I think I got to the point where I just wanted them to eat something so I gave them what I knew they would eat.  Now, though, I wonder if this crazy, sugared up breakfast is really better than nothing?!?  So the real question is, how do you get picky kids to eat healthy food??

2) Lazy discipline - This is one that I am trying to overcome.  I often find myself giving in too easily in order to avoid an argument.  Don't want to wear a coat in the mornings??  Fine.  Just be cold.  Don't want to eat those vegetables?  O.K.  You'll be hungry.  Oh, you're five years old and you still want your blankie??  Well, not at school (because what would the teachers think of me), but anywhere else it's fine.  I know I am being a lazy mom; not putting forth the effort to be firm.  They always say to "pick your battles," though.   So, which battles are worth the effort and which ones can we really afford to be lazy about?  Is it really worth the fight to make them wear the coat? eat the veggies? give up the blankie?   (Of course, safety issues are non-negotiable.)

So there  - I have admitted two of my bad parenting habits.  Have any suggestions for me??  How about you - what are your bad parenting habits???  Please share and, maybe, someone will have some advice that can help you, too!


Janine Huldie said...

Lisa, totally share a few of your bad habits. My younger just last night fell asleep in bed with me and my husband did move her into her own bed to sleep the rest of the night, but sometimes I too tired or still working at night to fight her. And the sugary diet, yes I am guilty of this, too. So don't beat yourself up too badly, because you really aren't alone and sure you will find others who could also commiserate with you, because like I said I can totally! Thanks seriously for linking this up with us and hoping you enjoy your weekend now!!

Jessica Smock said...

I definitely share a few of those habits as a parent. My son is 26 months old and his pacifier habit keeps getting worse. I am so confused about this one. I read that some kids have this sucking desire past the early toddler stage. I'm so afraid that my son will start sucking his thumb! Did your kids? And the sugar? Yikes. It's like crack for kids.

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thanks Janine!! It does help to know that I'm not alone!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Hi Jessica! Neither of mine started sucking her thumb when we took away the paci. It should also be noted that, by the point I wrote about, my 4 year old (who turns 11 today!) was actually chewing on the paci nipple rather than sucking it. In fact, the pediatrician was concerned that she might chew it off and get choked so it was also a matter of safety. But, I'm not going to lie - it was hell for a couple of days. Have you tried just clipping the tip? I was completely surprised by how easily mine gave it up when it no longer satisfied their need to suck. You could always give it a shot and see how it goes!

And, yes - crack for kids. Perfect analogy!

Kristi - Finding Ninee said...

Oh, Lisa. I am so not the one to help with the sugar. My son only eats about 8 foods and used to be 100% height and less than 20% weight on the charts. I started giving him a cookie and chips with his dinner because when those things were on his plate, he'd actually eat some chicken too! Sadly, now, he asks for a cookie and chips at breakfast. In order to get him out the door on time, I usually give in. I know it's horrible and I feel badly about I'll come back and see if there's somebody stronger than I am with good advice.
Re: paci - some friends of mine convinced their daughter (she was 4, I think) that there are new babies coming into the world who needed her paci and that she was a big girl. They built up to it for a couple of weeks - saying a new baby is coming soon so you'll need to give up your paci! It ended up working. She cried on the first night but then said that she was happy a new baby wouldn't be sad. maybe try that?? And good luck - these things are SO HARD!

Kate Hall said...

I struggle with the line on that lazy discipline too. Oh man, it is so hard. I have one picky eater and it is a nightmare getting him to eat any kind of vegetable or fruit. He fights it all. What I've done with him, which may not work with every picky eater is I found a fruit that he would eat - which is Gerber baby food fruit (he's 8!!!) or applesauce and tell him he has to eat that one serving before eating any of the rest of his meal (lunch) - that's during the day. At dinner, when my husband is home for back-up, we go full-force. He's required to eat his vegetable or go without dessert. For a while he just gave up dessert, so we had to make it tougher. We would state that we were going to watch a family movie after dinner and he'd have to go to his room if he didn't eat his vegetables (one little serving). There was always whining, arguing, crying and it took forever. So we set a timer. It only took two times of his missing the family movie (and throwing a major tantrum each time and making us all miserable for part of the evening - it sucked!) to get him to eat his vegetables (I would have never been able to do this without my husband there - I'm just not that good). We still have to set the timer more often than not, but he races that timer. He is beginning to open up to more fruits and vegetables...slowly - and I think it has more to do with his changing palate than anything we've done. Picky eaters are so hard to deal with. I'm thankful that my other two love everything. I couldn't handle it if I had three.

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