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Dr. Mom Mondays: Is ADD “Real?”

20 Mar

Welcome to the second installment of “Dr. Mom Mondays” at The Little Hen House! Thank you to everyone for the fabulous support you showed my new weekly series. It was hard to pick just one question, but my heart really feels for this mom. The reader asked to remain anonymous, and I’m sure we can all relate to her desire to protect her son’s identity. If any of you would like to be featured on the next Dr. Mom Mondays you can email me your parenting or relationship question to morgan(at)thelittlehenhouse(dot)com.

Question: My pediatrician just suggested that I have my 7-year-old assessed for A.D.D.  I am wary of what I think is an “ADD frenzy” and dislike the idea of kids having such labels.  What do you think?

Dr. Mom says: I understand your dislike of labels and your wariness about the recent increase in the ADD diagnosis.  However, I offer you another view of this issue.  I would suggest that you go ahead and get the assessment that your pediatrician has advised. Here is why:

First, the assessment process is very educational in itself.  Even if you don’t buy into the ADD label, or even its existence, you will learn some very important things about your child’s learning style, coping mechanisms, and brain habits, so to speak.  Pick up a book (ask the assessor’s for a reference) and see what you learn about children and brain/behavior/learning differences.  It is fascinating stuff. To be smart, we must all increase our understanding of our own brain’s “operating style” – nothing is more important in the quest for better and better self-management.

So learning about our child’s is the most helpful thing we can do as we teach him how to manage himself as well.  Having the assessment your pediatrician suggests will be a wonderful opportunity for you to learn some things about your child that you probably don’t yet know.  You can ignore the fact that this is all done in the vein of ADD assessment.  Think of it as “learning style assessment and learning management assessment.”

Another reframe is this: If indeed your child “qualifies” for the ADD diagnosis, consider accepting it and getting it on his record at school.  It could give him some considerable benefits– the diagnosis may be to his advantage in many ways.  He can receive extra help as needed in school, like tutoring, note-taking, special study guides, organizational aids, language therapy, and such (all mandated by state laws, and free of charge).  He might receive extra time on tests (including the SAT!!), private space for test-taking, accommodations for where he sits in the classroom, use of calculators, and much more.  Kids with the ADD diagnosis often quality for special scholarships to college, can even receive consideration for college acceptance with somewhat easier requirements, and so forth.  In these days of stiff competition, some edge can make a difference.

Perhaps the most important consideration for you is this: watch carefully your child’s succeeds or struggles with peer relationships.  Kids with “different” learning and behavior styles, whether you call it ADD or just a difference, often have struggles socially.  Kids can overcome educational weaknesses with time, but social weaknesses can dramatically affect their self-esteem, affecting success in school and in life.  The resulting poor self-image and possible “social labeling” by peers (the “weird kid” or “dumb kid” or “disruptive kid” and so forth) can stay with them for years, making a painful, life-changing situation.  In that case, it is better to accept the ADD label, treat the symptoms, and give a child a chance at more acceptable peer and school experiences.

We all want to help our kids make the most of what they have and overcome obstacles.  Following your pediatrician’s advice about getting this assessment might be your best bet in that honorable quest.

Mary Quinn has a Ph.D. in Therapeutic Psychology and is Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice in San Diego. She is also a wife of 31 years, a mother of three, a step-mother of two, a grandmother of seven, a passionate gardener, and a writer. She survived a childhood as the only girl with five brothers, and always wears red toenail polish.


Thanks Dr. Mom! What about you guys? Do you have any words of wisdom for our friend?

Wordless Wednesday: Baby, Meet Chicken

16 Mar

Baby no likey the chicken.

Dr. Mom Mondays: When Playdates Go Bad

14 Mar

I have an exciting announcement!

Mondays at The Little Hen House are now “Dr. Mom Mondays.”

Some of you may have heard me mention that my mother is a psychotherapist. Well, I’ve convinced her to host a weekly series here on The Little Hen House, in which she answers all your tough parenting/relationship questions. She’s pretty awesome at her job and I seem to have turned out relatively healthy and normal, at least that’s what my therapist tells me. So umm… yeah.

What was I saying? Oh yeah, my mom is going to be here every Monday for “Dr. Mom Mondays.” Now, the only way this will work if is if you all participate in my brilliant plan. I encourage you to email me with any parenting or relationship questions you have. I’ll be picking one of your questions to feature every week with a link back to your blog, or I can keep your identity a secret if that works better for you. Everyone needs a little confidentiality from time to time too.

My mom will personally respond to the weekly question here on my blog and then we can all chime in on the comments below. The idea behind Dr. Mom Mondays is to create a community for all of us to share our experiences and support each other during our adventures in motherhood. We will have our own Dr. Mom as the licensed therapist/voice of reason and the rest of us to lend a girlfriend’s point of view.

Are you ready for the first installment of Dr. Mom Mondays? Me too! Today’s question comes from yours truly, as this is what sparked the whole “Dr. Mom Mondays” idea. It’s a real-life problem that I am struggling with, and I know that many other mothers have the same issue.

Please email your Dr. Mom Mondays question to morgan(at)thelittlehenhouse(dot)com. Thanks guys!

Question:

My 4-year-old daughter has a good friend who can be aggressive at times, hitting and pushing and slapping my child when they have conflicts during play dates.  How should I handle this with my child, the little friend, and the other mom?

Dr.Mom:

Let’s start with making the best assumption — that the “aggressive” child needs a better way to handle her frustrations. The next time the girls are together, start out the play date with a practice session BEFORE ANY PROBLEM HAS COME UP.  Stay cheerful and positive, like a good coach – make this a bit of fun!

Tell the girls that you are going to teach them something that many kids don’t know — what to do and say if they get frustrated with one another.   First, have them practice saying out loud, “I am frustrated!” while they sit down at the same time.  It is very important that they sit down as soon as they say the sentence “I am frustrated!”  Be sure you join along in the practicing, getting up in between and sitting down again with the sentence.

Then have them practice saying, “How can I help you?” When they can say both sentences clearly, set up a practice session with you having a toy that they want.  They will sit down and say, “I am frustrated!” and you will say, “How can I help you?”  When they say, “Give me the toy,” you can model some negotiating (“Let’s set a timer and when it dings, it is your turn” or “Let’s dance to music instead of playing with toys” or “Let’s each get a toy we both like and trade every 5 minutes” and so on).

The day of the playdate have them tell you every time they make this work, and reward them!  If this doesn’t help, let me know and we will take the solution a step further.

Mary Quinn is a Marriage, Child, and Family Therapist with a private practice in San Diego. She is also a wife of 31 years, a mother of three, a step-mother of two, a grandmother of seven, a passionate gardener, and a writer. She has a Ph.D., survived a childhood with five brothers, and always wears red toenail polish.


Thanks Dr. Mom! Readers: what do you do when a playdate goes bad?


So, You Think You Can Potty Dance?

8 Mar

There’s nothing like potty training to motivate you to totally geek out for your kid. Case in point- The Potty Dance. In my house, The Potty Dance goes like this: Pick any children’s song, change the words to pertain to anything potty, and dance around like you’ve had 15 cups of coffee and 4 Diet Cokes. Doesn’t my life sound glamorous?

Before I go any further, I have to be 100% honest here: Pull Ups contacted me and asked if I wanted to write about their Potty Dance Party. Wait! You guys should know by now that I’m naturally wary of PR related blogs and I wouldn’t write about something unless I totally thought it was worth your while, so bear with me here. Plus, there’s some free stuff in it for you guys. See? Sometimes reading my blog really does pay off!

Well, I checked out the Potty Dance Party info at The Pull Ups website and there was some really great info on there. There are tons of free resources to help parents get their kids interested in using the potty. There is a free dowloadable potty progress chart, an iGo Potty app, and you can even request a free Big Kid potty training DVD. If there’s one thing I know: mom’s like free stuff- especially if it motivates our little guys to get that poo poo in the potty, and NOT on the floor like someone’s little girl did once. *cough*

You know what else I learned at the Pull Ups website? There is an official Potty Dance. Apparently, I have been doing it all wrong. They have a pretty sweet video of Ralph’s World performing the official Potty Dance, and while I’d like to think MY potty dance is in the spirit of “interpretive” dance, the Pull Ups Potty Dance has way more mainstream appeal. I mean, the kids on the video are crazy for it-even the parents are getting into it.

This is the best part:

I have to tell you about something else super cool. Pull Ups has a Facebook page, and you guys can go on there and ask for potty training tips. Dr. Gwenn, a pediatrician, mom, and Pull-Ups Potty training parter, is available to answer all your tough potty training questions. I had the opportunity to participate in a conference call where she answered a bunch of real-life potty training questions and she was amazing! I learned a ton of really interesting information like: constipation can lead to potty training issues because a backed up colon puts pressure on the bladder. Totally gross but equally fascinating, right? She’s very real and honest and she doesn’t shove a bunch of Pull Ups jargon down your throat. She actually answers questions with real responses. How refreshing!

Ready for more free stuff?

For all my Southern California friends: Pull Ups is having a Potty Dance Party at the San Diego Zoo on Wednesday, March 23rd from 10-11:30am. The event is totally free with San Diego Zoo admission. There will be a performance from Ralph’s World (awesome!) and more  The tent has a 500 person capacity; first come, first admitted. You know I’ll be there, so come hang out with me!

Once last chance for free stuff!

I’m giving away one Pull-Ups Potty Dance Party Pack. It’s full of fun potty training gear for your Big Kid plus coupons for Pull-Ups. Leave a comment below and consider yourself entered. The giveaway will end on Friday, March 11th 2011, so get those comments in!

“Pull-Ups® training pants provided product, incentives and a reader giveaway for me to attend the Potty Dance Party. However, my opinions on the product and The Potty Dance experience are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive sentiments towards Pull-Ups® or their products.”

Disney Princess Characters Revealed!

7 Mar

Disney Princess fever has hit our house full-force. It’s all Princess all the time around here. Poor Hello Kitty has been cast aside for Emma’s new besties: Belle, Ariel, Jasmine, Snow White, and Cinderella. The Disney Princess movies are on heavy rotation here at The Little Hen House and it’s Princess dress-up central 24/7.

We’ve  ditched the “Toddler Songs” CD in favor for “Disney Princesses: The Ultimate Song Collection.” I act like this is some huge aggravation, but internally? I am thrilled. I love singing along to all my childhood Disney favorites (I’m partial to Belle and Ariel), and it’s so cute to hear Emma singing along with me.

The Disney Princess revival happening in my life has got me wondering, “Who are the actors behind these animated characters?” Well my friends, I am about to reveal to you the faces behind some of the most famous Disney Princess characters of all time:

Cinderella played by Ilene Woods:

Aladdin played by Scott Weinger:

(Fun Fact: That’s DJ Tanner’s boyfriend from Full House!)

Belle played by Paige O’Hara:

Ariel played by Jodi Benson:

Aurora (aka: Sleeping Beauty) played by Mary Costa:

Gaston played by Richard White:

Jasmine sung by Lea Salonga :

Snow White played by Adriana Caselotti:

Tiana played by Anika Noni Rose:

Ursula the Sea Witch Pat Carroll:

Elmo played by Kevin Clash:

(Ok- I know that Elmo isn’t a Disney character, but OMG! That’s Elmo!)

Tell me: Were you surprised by any of these faces?

This post can also be seen here at Rated by Mom.

Five Finger Discount

3 Mar

Emma has developed a bit of a nasty habit. Some call it “stealing”, but I’d like to think of it more like “borrowing without ever returning.” Sounds nicer, no?

It started like this: Two weeks ago we were leaving a friend’s house after a fun-filled afternoon playdate. I strapped Emma into her car seat and started driving down the road, when Emma said, “Mommy- look.” She held out her open hand containing a small plastic toy that belonged to her friend. I said, “Emma! That’s not yours! You can’t just take someone else’s toy from their house. That’s called stealing.” She replied, “But Mommy, I love it.” She carried that toy in her hand for three days until I was finally able to pry it from her grasp and return it to its rightful owner. And by returning it, I mean sneaking into my friend’s house and placing the toy back in her daughter’s room without anyone noticing. What? It was my first time dealing with this, ok?

Last week, when I picked Emma up from school I noticed that she was wearing a new accessory- a light-up pink jelly ring. The thing was enormous. I asked her, “What is that?” She said, “It’s a ring. Look- it lights up!” And so it did. So then I asked, “Where did it come from?” She said, “It’s Natalie’s.” Natalie is not her real name btw- I have a reputation to protect-Emma’s of course. I gave up on mine years ago. Back to the story….

So then I said, “Did Natalie give that to you?” Emma replied, “No, she brought it for sharing. I found it.” What?! Not again! So I said, “Honey! You can’t take Natalie’s sharing! Imagine how sad she is right now. She brought that for sharing because it is special to her and now it’s gone!” So then Emma said, “But I found it.” I replied, “Yes, but the right thing to do would have been to return it to Natalie. Just because you found it, doesn’t mean it belongs to you. You are giving it back to Natalie the next time we see her.” That seemed to sink in, except Emma has since broken poor Natalie’s ring, so if you know of a place where I can get a pink light-up jelly ring in a pinch that would be great. *cough*

Why does my little kleptomaniac have such sticky fingers? I am mortified. I can assure you though, I am on it. I’m not sure exactly what being “on it” entails, but I’m going to figure something out. I the meantime, please consider this post a disclaimer.

To all potential future playdates: You lock away the silver and your jewelry, and I’ll give my daughter a full pat-down before we leave your house. Deal? (Please still invite me over for play dates I swear my daughter won’t steal your stuff well maybe she might but I swear that she’ll only take the crappy stuff but if it’s really nice stuff I promise to bring it back except if she breaks it and then I’ll do my best to replace whatever jelly light-up contraption it is because if I don’t have play dates scheduled I might lose my mind or what’s left of it and then the only thing I’ll have left to do is shop at Target and if one more toy from the dollar bin makes its way into my house I’m going to need to be committed.)

The Requisite First Birthday Birth Story Post

2 Mar

It’s official: Annie is a year old. Her birthday was on Saturday and we celebrated by having a few friends over for tacos and cupcakes. It was about 95% less work than Emma’s insane first birthday bash and I think I had a better time. NOTE TO ALL YOU NEW PARENTS: Do not spend a lot of time, money, or energy on your child’s first birthday. All you really need to do is take pictures of them eating cake and you will still get an A+ in the birthday portion of the life test known as “Motherhood”.

The entire day of Annie’s first birthday I was trying to recall the events surrounding her birth. Can I be honest here? I don’t remember that much of it. She was just over three weeks early, I had been in and out of the hospital a few times with early labor, and it’s hard to distinguish the hospital visits from each other. I thought I best write down what I know about that day now for future reference.

I know not everyone is as fascinated by my child’s birth as I am, so don’t feel bad if you don’t feel like reading this one. It’s not really for you guys anyway. It’s something I hope to read to Annie one day. *tear*

The Day Anne Margaret was Born: February 26, 2010

Here you are inside my belly four days before you were born:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crazy, right?

The day you were born Emma and I went to the zoo. I remember someone asking me when you were coming and I replied, “Any day now!” Boy, was I right! That afternoon I started to feel some contractions. I had been having them almost the entire time I was pregnant with you, but the doctors were able to stop them. I was actually kind of annoyed that the contractions were starting up again because going to the hospital is kind of a pain. Instead of waiting it out, and risking the potential of going to the emergency room in the middle of the night, I decided to go to the hospital to get things checked out while it was still early in the day. Your dad was home from work early (it was Friday) and he watched Emma while I ran down there.

The doctors tried and tried to get the contractions to stop, but they just wouldn’t let up. They finally decided that your birthday had arrived. Your dad dropped Emma off at Mimi and Papa’s and he came down to the hospital to be with me. While we were waiting for the doctor to come, your heart rate suddenly dropped. The machines they had me hooked up to started beeping like crazy and the nurses were rushing around all over the place. A bunch of them rolled my bed right out of Triage and took me right up to labor and delivery. When we got up there, your heart rate went back to normal, which was such a relief. We were really freaked out though!

The doctor came about an hour later and the nurses prepared me for my c-section. You see, Emma was a c-section (she was a breech 9 lb baby) so that meant you were also going to be delivered via c-section. It all happened really fast. I actually don’t remember much of that part. But here you are being born:

Here you are again:

I love this picture so much.

As soon as you came out Daddy started shouting, “She looks just like Emma! Oh my gosh- she looks just like Emma!” That later proved to not be true, but you did look like her- for about five minutes.

This is me on drugs. I know I look happy here, but that’s because I love you- NOT because of the drugs. DRUGS ARE BAD.

Here you are being measured and weighed. You were 7 lbs 2 oz, which is a really good size for a 36 weeker. Considering your sister was 9 lbs, this wasn’t really a huge surprise.

Look at your little chicken legs!

This is how I remember you looking the day you were born:

The nurses and the NICU team started working on you because you weren’t breathing that well. You were early and your lungs weren’t fully functioning. They decided that you needed some extra help, so they took you down to the NICU. You got intubated, which I thankfully never had to see, while I was in the recovery room resting up. When I had recovered from the anesthesia, they wheeled me down to you and I got a chance to nurse you for the first time. You were pretty sleepy and not super interested in eating. That changed quickly though.

Both of us were in the hospital for the next three days. You stayed in the NICU and I was upstairs. I came down every three hours to feed you. You were a really great nurser. You ended up getting a septic infection while you were down there and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. They gave you two spinal taps and a round of antibiotics. Here you are in the NICU. How cute are you:

You recovered quickly and they let us go home together. Seeing all the tiny and sick babies in the NICU gave me a new appreciation for you. I am so lucky that you got better so fast and that I was able to take you home with me.

Here you are the day we went home:

And here you are meeting your sister for the first time. Seriously? This one makes me cry every time I look at it:

And now look at you:

My darling baby girl: you are one of the brightest lights in my life. What would life be like without you? Thank you for making my days full of laughter, snuggles, kisses, games, hugs, and giggles. Happy birthday!

Top Ten Things My Baby Wants for Her First Birthday

24 Feb

Annie turns a year old on Saturday. I’m sure you are all asking yourselves, “What do I get the girl who has everyhing?” Well, you are so sweet to ask. To make it a little easier for you, I’ve compiled a list:

  1. A ledge upon which she can throw her body off of, which would result in her 87th near death experience, thus giving me yet another mild heart attack.
  2. My purse. But only if it’s filled with small coins, sticks of gum, and electronic devices.
  3. Handfulls of human hair. Preferably not attached to Emma’s head.
  4. Teeny tiny Barbie shoes and Polly Pocket accessories.
  5. An experimental surgery that would return her back to her original residence (aka: my womb).
  6. A pair of magical legs that help her keep up with the big kids at the park. Sort of like Forrest Gump’s, only way cooler and more stylish. Bonus points if they come in pink or purple.
  7. A drawer full of tupperware, hairbrushes, credit cards, cell phones, sunglasses (designer only please), old shoes, and magazines.
  8. A basket full of freshly folded laundry that she can tear apart.
  9. An apparatus that would permanently affix her to my right hip.
  10. A time machine that would allow me to relish in the very last moments of her babyhood before she turns into a full-blown walking and talking toddler. *tear*

What uncommon gifts would you purchase for a one year old?

This post can also be seen here at Rated by Mom.

Wordless Wednesday: Can She Just Be Three and a Half Forever?

23 Feb

Big Questions From Little People

17 Feb

This post was featured on the Studio 30 Plus magazine yesterday! How cool is that?  If you blog, and are 30 and over, then you need to join the coolest club in town. It’s just another reason why being in your thirties is awesome. Stop by and check it out!

Big Questions From Little People

Emma and I were driving the other day and singing along to one of her favorite kid songs “Found a Peanut”. I’m sure you’ve heard of it- it’s a classic. It goes like this: “Found a peanut, found a peanut, found a peanut just now…” And then continues on to the narrator eating the peanut, getting sick, dying, and then waking up only to realize the saga of the rotten peanut was just a dream. About thirty seconds into the song, this is what Emma says to me:

Emma: Mommy, why does Daddy have a peanuts?

Me: Ummm. Do you mean a penis?

Emma: Yes. Peanuts. That’s what I said.

Me: Well, he’s a boy and boys have penises.

Emma: I have a peanuts too.

Me: No. You have a vagina.

Emma: Why?

Me: You are a girl, and girls have vaginas. Boys have penises.

Emma: Why?

Me: That’s just the way we are made. Does Mommy have  vagina?

Emma: Yes.

Me: Does Annie have a vagina?

Emma: Yes.

Me: Do you have a vagina?

Emma: Yes.

Me: That’s right. We all have vaginas because we are girls. Daddy is a boy. What does Daddy have?

Emma: A peanuts.

Me: You got it.

Emma: But I don’t have a hole like Daddy. Daddy has a hole.

Me: You do have a hole. Yours is on the inside of your body and Daddy’s is on the outside.

Emma: Why?

Me: Because he is a boy and he has a penis, and you are a girl and you have a vagina.

Emma: Ok Mommy.

Omgomgomgomg. Can I just stop time, or reverse the clock? When did my baby turn into a little person who asks questions about peanuts and holes? She’s three, people. THREE!

In totally related news, I bought these last night:

Because I was raised by a hippie and a psychotherapist, these books had permanent spots on my nightstand. Did any of you have them too? I have to say, that seeing these again brought back very fond memories of learning about the birds and the bees. In fact, it almost makes me excited to start this new chapter in life. Almost. But not quite.

If you need to find me, I’ll be in the kitchen with my head in the oven.

How do you approach tough subjects with little people who have big questions? Am I on the right track here guys?

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