Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tricks of the Trade

As parents know, raising children is the hardest job on the planet.  Children come with no manuel, and what works with one child in a home doesn't always work with another, and what works one week (day, hour) doesn't work the next, it is on-the-job training constantly. I am always picking the brains of parents I know and admire for their "tricks of the trade" for getting through difficult situations. From babies who don't sleep through the night to toddlers refusing to eat, pre-schoolers suddenly afraid of the dark and school-aged children who hate homework, how have you handled these and other scenarios? I'm looking to create yet another resource, this one being the best "tricks of the trade" to help get through the hurdles faced raising children.

When my four year old decided he was afraid of the dark last month, I was perplexed how to ease his nerves and keep him in his bed to get a good night's sleep. My friend reminded me that her daughters had gone through similar feelings at his age and told me her trick; "monster spray" she said. She simply took a body spray from their favorite store in a pleasing scent (vanilla) and would spray it each night before bed to "keep the monsters away". In desperation I told my son that in addition to a nightlight to ease his fears I would spray "monster spray" all over his room so no monsters could attack him. He listened wide-eyed, smiled when he smelled the grapefruit melon scent (it was all I had!) and, in the glow of the nightlight, he drifted off to sleep almost immediately. Now, each night, we preform our quick ritual and he is off to sleep in no time. Priceless.

My husband and I knew when we were beginning our family that we wanted to continue to travel, race, and go on vacation. We wanted our children to be able to adapt to strange sleeping environments and have sleep cues that calmed and soothed them allowing them to sleep away from home. Knowing we'd be sleeping in hotel rooms as a family at times, it was important we used the same sleeping techniques so there was never a conflict. Starting with our firstborn we played the same classical music CD to encourage sleep. It lasts only an hour, but the music is the sleep cue needed to create a sleep environment for our children. Our three children have all responded to this and it is one less thing we have to worry about when traveling.

Recently our two oldest children have been exhibiting the worst cases of brotherly fighting. They argue, bicker, and even make slight physical contact. They are 8 and 4 respectively. We have tried reasoning, time outs, suspension of privileges, and even swats, but nothing is stopping what I know is a bad case of sibling rivalry. Any suggestions or "tricks of the trade" in this situation is welcomed and appreciated.

I'm always anxious to learn more "tricks of the trade". Like teachers, parents share a wealth of information and reuse and recycle it. I would be much obliged for your comments on your child-rearing successes.


  1. The Monster Spray even works on the Daddy Monster! It makes me sneeze!

  2. Oh boy... I'm not the best mom to ask for advice. However, I do have a little trick for your daughter as she gets older.

    It seems to me that girls get to an age when they hate everything you pick out for them to wear (even if they like it). I learned from another mom who's daughter liked the opposite that she liked (seemingly on purpose) to use reverse psychology on her.

    If you don't like a certain dress as you are clothes shopping just tell her you love it and you think it would look fantastic on her! She'll drop it like a hot potato. Pick up something you love and casually say how you think it is kind of "ugly", she will fall on the floor because she will HAVE to have it! Beware, this will occasionally backfire, to which you just may have to suck it up.

    I will admit I had to walk a fine line with my daughter... she wants to be a fashion designer, so I had to tight-rope walk between wanting her to look decent as she was standing at the bus stop and not quenching the fashionista in her.

    She is out of the stage now, and has been for awhile... mainly because I know HER style more now and favorite colors, so I have a better chance at picking something she likes.

  3. I have no idea how to tackle sibling rivalry but I know that if not handled properly it can last a life time as it appears to have done between my Dad and his brother, and that is very sad.

    Fingers crossed you find the help you need tackling that one.

  4. Having two sets of children a year apart. I can't say if their sibling rivalry ever completely goes away. one thing that I have found to be somewhat sucessful was seperating them and making them write 20 things that they like about each other, and not letting them move until they did it. Bye the time they were done writing what they liked about each other, they actually liked each other again. This is not to be viewed as an all enclusive thing, but I've found that when you make them realize what they like about each other by writing it down. the rivalry seem to fall by the wayside...


  5. The trick for daughters is to keep it simple: 1. Stay off the pole. 2. Stay off the pipe. 3. Stay away from Gene Simmons.