Back from Teethingville and Looking for Answers

02 August 2012

I'm emerging from the darkness of Jake's nightmare of a teething week to ask for parenting advice.

Last week Jake's teeth made his life and my life hell. His first eight teeth came in without too much fuss, and so I thought we were in the Teething Not So Bad Camp. A little drool. A fussy night or two. Boom. Teeth.

But last week..last week...we had the fever, the rashes, the sleepless nights, the fire-hydrant saliva left in puddles all over the house. I kid you not. I literally slipped Mario Kart-banana-peel-style on one of these drool pools.

For days Jake went off like a switch into a royal tantrum whenever he was slightly provoked, and then I followed suit. He didn't eat; I overate. I banished him to the porch diaperless to air out his rashy tush, and I holed myself up on the couch to find solace in the blogosphere while I parented through the window. 

But we seem to be past it now. And Jake has returned to more typical routines. Like carrying a pillow onto the porch and laying on it. And picking it up. And moving it. And laying on it again.

So now that we're out of sickville and I've stopped letting Jake do whatever he jolly well pleases (like watch Netflix while playing with my iPhone) I find myself thinking a lot about getting on the actual parenting wagon. You know...teaching him stuff. (I'm also thinking a lot about kefir grains, and very impatiently waiting for my sourdough starter to arrive in the mail...but let's be honest, like any of you really come here to read about lacto-fermentation.)

Jacob thinks I'm a softie...and he's probably right. So I want to bring some questions to my mom-readers.  

I would ask my own mother, but she's cagey about these things. She's so elusive whenever I ask her for parenting advice. Once I asked her wisdom because I was worried about royally screwing up my kids. She laughed and replied:

"You don't have to worry about that. You will screw up your kids."

Thanks, mom.

And on top of her always helpful one-liners, she's out of the country with my little sister and a dear family friend, and with the three of them gone, my blog traffic has gone down by 75%.

Oh, yes, the questions:
How do you teach things to a one year old? When will he learn the word 'no'? When will he heed the word 'no'? What battles do you think are worth fighting?

I should probably go to the library and check out a parenting book or something. But instead I will ask you all.

And then google it.


  1. Hi there! This is Brooke (Eric's wife) I've been reading (stalking) your blog from afar. :) Sorry about your horrible week with teething! As for the parenting thing, we are still learning as we go. We start time out at 1, mostly for things that are in regards to safety and hitting your sibling. Learing which battles to pick and not pick are the worst. Every kid is different. For instance I let Maggie wear her pink crocs. Everywhere. Even church. :/ It is just not worth it! With Clare shoes are no big deal! Good luck and let us know what you learn via google!

  2. I'm not a parent, but my solution for teething, should it ever rear it's ugly head again, is something 90 proof or higher, a bit swabbed on Jake's gums, a bit of a swig for you. You think I'm kidding.

    Renee would have wise and good answers all of these questions. We babysat her almost 3 year old once and are seriously considering out-sourcing to her for parenting of our own children (that time I really was kidding) Seriously though, he put himself to bed!

    As for the word no, the question is not so much when will he start heeding it, and more when will he start using it on you!

  3. I am probably the worst parent ever and should never ever ever give advice -- so I won't but I've heard you shouldn't say "no" per the book "Love and Logic" (never read it -- never in the mood) -- so maybe try that out?

    and I'm so sorry on the teething ... Sebastian just sprouted his two top front fangs --- a ball of fun for everyone.

  4. Grace sent me to your blog. So I'm replying. I have 5 kids, ages 23 to 7, so while I am NO expert (and have probably messed ALL of them up in some way!) I do have LOTS of experience. Good and bad. I'm a HUGE fan of John Rosemond - very practical advice. Very easy advice to follow. My absolute most favorite book he has EVER written.Ever. is called "Making the Terrible Twos Terrific". HIGHLY recommend it. At a minimum, it's worth it for the "oh, that's what you act like such a cretin" effect. I have read and re-read it for each child. Read before you get to 18 months (unless you're already there). I believe he says that until they get to about that age, saying "no" has no rreal effect -the key is "distract and redirect". Around 18 months - "no" becomes an actual word to them. Hope that helps!

  5. I remember coming home one day from work and my husband had put our then 13 month old in a time out. I laughed out loud at the hilarity of the situation. They tell you to not say no and yet here we are 6 months later only saying the word no. If you figure it out, let us know!

  6. Oh no! I just clicked through from Camp Patton (she featured your blog) and poor thing! What misery! I wish I had some expert advice...we've not had a teething fiasco quite like that yet! But I will definitely be checking in on suggestions in case we ever do!

    the Reverie blog

  7. A life saver for us has been giving Sam choices for everything- to the point of absurdity sometimes. The key is, both "options" have the same end result. So, instead of "put your shoes on please" it's "do YOU want to put your shoes on or MOMMY to put your shoes on?" "do you want mommy to carry you or daddy?" or "do you want mommy to go potty first or you first?" etc.

    When you simply want to say "no," try and tell him what he *can* do instead. When sam throws something I tell her what she CAN throw (only balls). Biting gets a "we only bite food". hitting/kicking/throwing "we only hit/kick/throw balls." A boy I babysit just threw his binky on the floor no matter WHERE we were if he saw something he wanted. He got a "no, we don't throw it on the floor" and then I made him pick it up (or make his hand followed mine as I picked it up) and then made him place it in my hand saying "You put it in my hand." Eventually he got the idea and it was quicker to get what he wanted if he put it in my hand.

    And finally, instead of saying things like "don't touch that" or "no running!" "don't go upstairs" I try and say what I want them to do instead, so "Hands OFF", "WALK/FREEZE" and "stay downstairs". My mom taught me the this one- she said if you say "don't touch that," what the last two words you said? "Touch that". The "don't" is sometimes lost or ignored in the processing.

    Hope that helps! We by no means have all the answers, this is simply what has been VERY helpful. As far as when? Not sure, but he is certainly old enough to understand "either/or" and follow simple directions.

  8. Found you via Grace's blog! I have three boys (5, 3, and 1) with a baby girl on the way, so I am right there with you, learning this crazy motherhood thing!

    I would say that the only thing that has helped discipline at that age was really choosing my battles (top no-no's: hitting and dangerous things like touching the stove) and perfecting "the tone". I find that if I say their name in a certain "don't mess with me" way, it's a lot more effective than if I were to always say No, haha! Hope that's helpful :)

  9. I don't read parenting books and we just do what feels natural to us while trying to raise well behaved little souls. We have five kids, our youngest just turned one, and we tell him no. when he throws his food or hits his sister or is about to walk of the edge of playground equipment...we tell him no. sometimes he cries but usually he just stops doing it and soon we will begin timeouts when he understands better. We start with timeouts in the high chair and then move to the stairs when they can sit on their own. Mostly we really focus on praising good behavior and the timeout stuff is rare. But do become strict on the bad stuff because the softie parents always turn out with little hellions for kids.

  10. Kate. I adore your blog and your little family!! Your son is a doll!! Please let me know all your parenting answers so I can follow suit. :)

  11. Okay, darlin' here is one one liner that I hope you've heard before. Give him two choices that are both completely acceptable to you. Or, ... I can't seem to think of another ... I've gotten rusty! Anyway, with a bit of mental gymnastics so many potential conflicts can be defused in this very constructive way. I felt it built into each of you a sense that you could make good choices, Now as adults I see each of you groping along really well determined to figure out what your present choices might be. Even Robert. He was the only one of you who when presented with two choices at about age 9 said, "I don't like either of those choices!"

    I miss you so much. Lily, Pam and I are loving England!


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