Welcome to the 14th edition of The Playpen! We hope you made the most of Thanksgiving yesterday - we're super thankful to have you all here and we hope you're enjoying the newsletter so far
This week we're launching our brand new referral program. For those of you who find the newsletter valuable, we'd really appreciate a share - and in return we'll send you free swag! Check out the rewards & how to participate at the end of this email ⬇
Enjoy, and hit reply if you have feedback, questions, or just want to say hi
— Diana & Richard
Tried and Tested Ways to Stop Your Toddler from Biting
Are you familiar with that sinking feeling in your stomach as you pick up a call from your toddler’s daycare?
If you’re not, don’t get too comfortable. Even happy, easygoing toddlers can go through the dreaded biting phase—and sometimes it lasts for months at a time. Whether you’re covered in tooth-shaped bruises yourself or have had to curb your toddler’s social life due to other parents’ complaints, it’s a universally frustrating part of child development.
Luckily, we’re here today with six proven strategies you can take to nip (no pun intended) your toddler’s biting in the bud.
1. Respond firmly, but check your anger
If you make the biting a big deal, it will be a big deal. It’s very important for your toddler to understand that biting is bad, but dramatic shrieking or an angry tirade will only direct the focus away from the problem.
Be firm without an excess of emotion: “No, Bobby. Biting hurts. We do not bite.”
2. Focus on the bite-ee
Negative attention is still attention, and boy, do toddlers love attention! When your toddler bites a playmate, put your focus on the injured party. Toddlers who bite for attention will learn very quickly that they are basically giving that attention away.
3. Look for avoidable causes
There are often underlying causes to biting. If this is the case with your toddler, they may not respond to the usual biting remedies—and may even dig in their heels in response. Observe your toddler at play and ask yourself some questions:
Do they bite when they are tired or overstimulated? Are they around other biters? When you know what causes the biting, you can avoid the trigger. Getting better sleep or choosing calmer play environments may be just what the doctor ordered.
4. Find biteable alternatives
If the cause is an unavoidable one, like teething, you can train your toddler to bite things that don’t have nerve endings.
Teethers and cold washcloths are especially good for teething, while regular, crunchy snacks have been shown to lower the amount of biting incidents in chompy toddlers. Just make sure nothing you give them is a choking hazard!
5. Show them a better way
Although a firm “no” has its place, it’s a little vague. When this is your toddler’s main coping mechanism for stressful situations, they may need your help understanding what to do instead.
If it’s their way of pushing others away when they need personal space, for example, you can help them practice stepping back and saying, “Too close.”
Or, if your toddler is going through a major life change like a move, a new sibling, or a divorce in the family, the biting may be their way of regaining a little control. They could have big emotions trapped in that little body. It’s possible that, with the right outlet for those feelings, the biting could resolve itself.
6. Offer positive reinforcement
When they act appropriately in a situation where they would otherwise have bitten, verbalize what they did right and praise them.
“Bobby! You used your words! Great job.”
This goes back to the attention point. When a toddler is getting positive attention, they’re less likely to seek out the negative kind.
Whatever you decide to do, try to be consistent. Behaviors like biting can require a lot of patience and tenacity to end. But with an open mind and the right approach, this phase will be in the rearview mirror before you know it.
Things we found on the web this week
- Encourage Expression. As kids, many of us would've been taught to suppress our feelings. It wasn't bad parenting - it was just the norm back then. But there are very good reasons why you should take a different approach. Here are some great ways to help your child express their feelings.
- Bedtime Power Struggles. Getting kids to cooperate at bedtime can be super challenging. There's no magic formula to crack this common issue, but you can certainly start with these helpful pointers.
- Gift of the Gab. Are you worried that your child's language skills are sub-par? Well, you're not alone - kids all learn at different rates. Regardless, it's definitely worth trying these 15 activites to encourage your toddler to talk
- Development Checklists. We found these fantastic development milestone checklists from the CDC for children at 2 years, 3 years, and 4 years old. Print them out today and start checking those boxes!
- Playing Nicely. By 3 years old, our kids are gradually moving away from the side-by side, parallel play that's typical of toddlers. They're finally ready to play with others! Here are 15 games for 3-year-olds to play with others.
- Sleep Tight Stories. Of course, there's no substitute for spending quality time reading physical books with your kids (more on that below), but let's face it - sometimes it's tough. We found these great bedtime stories for kids on Apple Podcasts.
5 Fantastic Indie Bedtime Books for Toddlers
When it comes to bedtime stories, I am all in. An avid reader myself, I have tried to inspire a genuine love of books and reading in my two children. I love many classics, including Where the Wild Things Are, Peter Pan, Mike Mulligan, and His Steam Shovel, and ANYTHING by Dr. Seuss.
And while reading classics is a tradition I hope my children will pass on, there is something fun and unique about discovering a new book together, something that is not mainstream; an indie book.
Here is a list of some of my favorite indie books to read and experience with your children.
Think Outside the Box, written by Justine Avery and Illustrated by Liuba Syrotiuk
The illustrations in this book alone are enough to get the imagination going. They are beautifully done and a great companion to the text. But what makes this book so unique is our children learn the art of problem-solving and how to creatively solve problems when they arrive.
View on Amazon
Pug Meets Pig, by Sue Lowell Gallion and Illustrated by Joyce Wan
If it were not for my 6-year-old, who has developed a deep love of both pigs and pugs, I might not have discovered this book or its companion Pug and Pig Trick-or-Treat. Both books deal with changes in our lives, forming new friendships and making compromises for the ones we love. These books are an excellent option for a child going through a life change or learning to adapt to a new sibling.
View on Amazon
My Whirling, Twirling Motor, by Merriam Sarcia Saunders and Illustrated by Tammie Lyon
This book is a must-have for parents and kids struggling with ADD, ADHD, or other types of behavioral issues. It helps children make sense of all the motion and thoughts trapped inside their body and provides them with clues to help recognize it, control it, and exhibit those feelings appropriately.
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Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music, by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael Lopez
This book may not fall under the traditional Indie category as it was written by an author who has written dozens of books and produced by a major publishing house. Still, it is one I find many educators and parents are not familiar with. It is an empowering story for girls, showing them how they can accomplish anything they set their mind to. It is also a wonderful book about Latin-American music. Any book about music is a winner in my mind!
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Everyone's Awake, by Colin Meloy and illustrated by Shawn Harris
This is a delightful bedtime romp that takes a simple bedtime routine and spins it on its ear. It will leave both you and your child laughing. It is a great helper for children who struggle with bedtime routines. The rhyming patterns are musical, soothing to the ear, and easy to follow. You and your child can spend time exploring the highly detailed pictures as well as enjoying the story.
View on Amazon
These are only five of the fantastic indie books that exist out there. They may take a little more time to purchase and discover, but they are well worth the extra time.
Consider purchasing your books from independent bookshops or used book stores to help small businesses thrive.
ARTS & CRAFTS
Keep 'em busy with these fun activities
Button Size Sort
Keep them busy with this fun festive activity. Draw a simple tree on cardboard and trace buttons of different sizes for the decorations. Then color in the rest of the tree and let them decorate it with the different sized buttons.
Writing and Pre-writing Skills
Check out these different exercises for encouraging your kids' writing skills, color matching, and much more. All you need is some paper and colored pens. This one's in Spanish but it's pretty self explanatory!
Cardboard Coloring Boards
Get your kids into the holiday spirit with these cardboard coloring boards. Once you've drawn your tree, gifts, menorah, or santa, cover the cardboard with tape so they can wipe clean and paint over!
Days of the Week
A simple cardboard DIY to help your kids learn the days of the week and the relation between today, yesterday and tomorrow. You'll just need some cardboard, colored pens (or paint) and clothes pegs.