Disciplining a toddler

Toddler girl throwing a tantrum

Unaltered image. Citril, Flickr. CC license.

Being the parent of a toddler can be fun at times, but it’s definitely challenging sometimes, too. Toddlers often cause concern and frustration for their parents through their behaviors like biting, hitting, pulling hair, being defiant, using bad language, and throwing temper tantrums. How do you deal with these behaviors? Are they too young to discipline and how do you go about doing that for such young children?

Beaumont’s Beginning Discipline – The Toddler Years class can help parents dealing with the wonderful but sometimes difficult toddler years. You’ll learn where toddlers are at developmentally and why their behaviors make sense within that context. You’ll also get suggestions for how to help them learn to manage their emotions and act more appropriately. Discipline means to teach, not to punish. Come join us at Beaumont’s Toddler Discipline class and learn how to better understand your toddler and how to help them learn positive behaviors.

Register for an upcoming class.

Five tips to beat the bed rest blues

Pregnant woman relaxing in chair

Cropped image. Alagich Katya, Flickr. CC license.

So your doctor put you on bed rest. Now what? It may seem like a treat at first to be able to relax in bed, but that will likely get old after the first few days.

I spent the majority of my 29-week pregnancy on some form of bed rest. I started out on modified bed rest, went to full home bed rest, and then ended up spending the last two months with the wonderful nurses and staff in Beaumont’s antepartum unit.

Here are some tips and tricks to try to keep your sanity.

1. Find out from your doctor exactly what you can and cannot do physically. There are lots of reasons for being put on bed rest and you want to make sure that you are following the doctor’s orders. Knowing the parameters can help alleviate stress because you have clear expectations and understanding of your unique situation.

2. Rally the troops. Your friends and family will likely be calling you to ask what they can do to help. Let them! Make a list of the things that you need, so that way you’re able to easily give directions and stay organized from your bed. Some ideas include child care for your older children, drop offs and pick ups, cleaning, meals, grocery shopping, or even some companionship. Don’t be afraid to speak up and let people know what you need. If you don’t have friends and family nearby, try local community resources. Many senior centers, churches and local moms groups are happy to help.

3. Find support systems. It can be difficult for people who haven’t experienced bed rest to understand how stressful it can actually be. You may be feeling poorly physically; worried about your health and the health of your baby; stressed out about chores, work or money; or just downright bored out of your mind. Some web sites like Babycenter.com or WhatToExpect.com have communities for bed rest moms to vent their frustrations. There are also blogs and tons of articles out there. If you know anyone else who was previously on bed rest, reach out to them. Sometimes knowing that someone else made it through is enough to keep your thoughts going in a good direction. If you are truly feeling down, contacting a counselor, mental health professional, or spiritual advisor may help get you through.

4. Get things done. Just because you’re stuck in bed doesn’t mean you’re helpless. There are so many things that can be done online:

  • Take charge of your finances.
  • Stock up on needed baby items.
  • Make lists of people to call and send thank you notes to.
  • Reorganize your email accounts.
  • Research parenting techniques.
  • Find out about your health insurance and what it covers for you and the baby.
  • Contact an attorney to discuss your will and what changes will need to be made with your new arrival.
  • Learn something you have always wanted to learn about but never had time. Crochet? Knitting? How about a new language? Rosetta Stone can be done while in bed.

5. Stock up on entertainment. Netflix is your friend. Pick a series and go. Read silly magazines. Read a good book. Read a not so good book. Watch all the movies you’ve been meaning to watch over the last few years but never had the time. Watch game shows. Do whatever it takes to relax and get your mind off things. I watched “Law and Order” relentlessly. Never watched it before, haven’t watched it since. But it’s always on in some version or another and it took my mind off of my worries. Find the right thing for you.

And if all else fails, take a nap! You are supposed to be resting, after all.

– Sara Kuhn, is a Parenting Program participant and volunteer.

Raising children with dignity and respect

Young boys soccer team high fiving coach

Unaltered image. Woodleywonderworks, Flickr. CC license.

What are the most important aspects of raising healthy children?

As a parent, teacher, daughter, sister and friend, two words stand out to me: dignity and respect. This message was brought to the forefront as I walked the path of terminal illness with my husband. After his diagnosis with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in January 2004, I learned that these two simple words are the foundation of everything we teach in life.

If our children are to grow into strong and compassionate adults, they must witness the role that these words play in our lives, as acted out by their parents.

How do you teach a child dignity?

Dignity is defined as “a state of being valued, worthy and honored.” (Oxford Dictionary, 2000) We are raising the most valuable resource on this earth: new human beings. We bring them into this world with our own dreams, wants and needs. In reality, our children must feel valued to discover their own dreams, wants and needs. As a parent, this is a fine balance. The influence of our life is infinitely connected to the lives of our children.

Within two years, three of the most influential men in my life died: my father, my husband and my brother.

My father was extremely faithful and raised each of his six children to never doubt our value. He challenged our thinking, but quietly supported our choices. He taught us the basic value of feeling special. I learned how to give to others through his devotion to volunteering. He demonstrated that treating all people with dignity, no matter what the circumstance, was the only way to live life.

“I met the nicest person today …” are words stay dear to my heart when I think of my husband. He always saw the best in others. He understood that the value of each person is precious. Nothing pleased him more than a Sunday dinner table surrounded by family and friends. He was a quiet man and an endless dreamer. I felt valued throughout our life together.

Finally, my brother suffered from severe mental illness his whole life. From him, I learned that no matter how busy and difficult life can get, we need to be there for each other. As a young child, I understood that although we may look and act different, the value of who we are remains unchanged.

How do we teach children respect?

Respect is closely connected to dignity. As a verb, “respect” moves dignity into action. Teaching mutual respect to our children is filled with conflict. Think about the conversations they overhear where you nag, reject, criticize or share prejudices. Think about the influences of the television they watch. As parents we fall into the trap of thinking that the more we say, the more our children will learn. However I’ve learned that it’s most often the less we say and the more we act on that are the best methods for teaching our children.


When disciplining, how closely are your words connected to your actions? Do you follow through with consequences or just threaten with words? When this happens, what level of respect are you demonstrating to your child? Do you feel respected by your child? It’s the spiraling effect of these conversations that turn ugly.

A wonderful book, Crucial Conversations states, “… when stakes are high, opinions vary and emotions are strong, conversation becomes crucial.” If mutual respect is the foundation of our problem solving, we will handle these situations by first understanding who we are. We can then listen to the other person’s perception. If we mutually respect each other, there is a safe environment to resolve the problem.

As a parent, if you take respect out of discipline, the child’s self-esteem is destroyed. Name calling, teasing and sarcasm are all indicators of the lack of mutual respect. Our children can become bullies.

How can we get back to a path of mutual respect?

We all have bad days or moments of bad behavior. First, apologize and admit you made a mistake. Your children learn we all have weaknesses.

When your intention is misinterpreted, it’s helpful to use contrasting a don’t/do statement. Describe what you don’t want and then what you do want. For example, you might say, “I don’t want you to spoil your dinner by eating a cookie now, but I do want you to have a cookie. So you can have one for dessert after a healthy dinner.”

My mission is to share the idea that if we live our daily lives with dignity and respect, we will create a world of acceptance. We will all be more understanding and considerate. We will teach our children that the value of every living thing is connected to the life we lead. Place these two words — “dignity” and “respect” — on your refrigerator and see how they will change your relationships and purpose in life.

– Beth Frydlewicz, MPA, System Director, Volunteer Services, Beaumont Health

Is your IBD getting in the way of your love affair with food?


Chocolate cupcakes with one missing a bite

Cropped image. Xsomnis, Flickr. CC License.

Food can be considered as a universal language. We use food to communicate love and affection or sympathy and condolences. Certain dishes may be made on special occasions like Thanksgiving or Hanukkah, or evoke memorable experiences like baking a cake with your child for the first time. Ice cream or French fries are good comfort food after a breakup. Peanuts, popcorn and potato chips are mandatory for my husband during football season! Food brings people together and is a necessity. But what do you do if you have a chronic medical condition in which food may play an important ingredient in maintaining your health?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a condition that affects the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis (UC) are two types of IBD. IBD occurs when there is inflammation along the GI tract. UC affects the colon, whereas Crohn’s may affect the entire digestive system.

Common symptoms of IBD include severe abdominal pain/cramping, frequent diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue and even failure to grow in children with Crohn’s. Proper absorption of nutrients and minerals is a major concern. However, stomach pain and diarrhea may suppress your appetite while other foods may aggravate your GI tract. There is no one diet that can cure IBD and various foods will affect people differently. Below are some tips on how to manage IBD and enjoy the savory delectableness of food.

Every chef has a team

The sous chef, line cook, expeditor, grill cook, sauté chef, dessert chef and whoever else is in the kitchen all work together to make a fabulous meal and experience. Work with your team of doctors and medical professionals, such as a dietician or nutritionist, to determine an individualized menu that may decrease the effects from inflammation and provide the nutrients that you need or even help to decrease the frequency of inflammation.

Know your kitchen

Most great cooks become familiar with their stoves, ovens and cookware. They can tell the difference between something cooked on an electric vs. a gas stove. Not all ovens are made the same and neither is the human body. You may want to keep a journal of how various foods affect your body. Are there certain foods that provide physical relief? Greasy, fried foods and caffeine may agitate the GI tract. Even healthy foods that cause gas such as beans, broccoli and cabbage may disrupt the GI tract. Other things that can upset your stomach are stress, nonsteroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil or Motrin, antibiotics and smoking.

Made to order

There may be some meals and foods you will have to customize in order to still enjoy it but not experience such discomfort. For example, try sweet potato fries instead of French fries or make your own baked potato chips. Grill foods instead of frying them. Experimenting with foods and tastes can be fun and exciting. There are many cookbooks that exist specifically related to IBD with their own twist on various recipes.

You don’t have to break up with food if you have IBD, but you will have to make sure that you are making healthy decisions and pay attention to how certain foods affect your body. Food can be healing. When nutritious foods are consumed, they can help lessen the recovery period when inflammation does occur.

– Carnigee Truesdale-Howard, PsyD, ABPP, Pediatric Psychologist with Beaumont Children’s Hospital Divisions of Hematology/Oncology & Gastroenterology

Time to give thanks

A bunch of kids standing on a frozen, outdoor pond

The kids had fun skating on an outdoor pond this winter.

Yes, I know it’s not November and bloggers are supposed to wait and give thanks only around Thanksgiving, but I’m going to break the rules just this once. I want to thank the Beaumont Parenting Program for bringing so many great people into my, and my family’s, life. We are truly better parents, and people for that matter, for having our group family in our lives.

It’s been more than seven years that a random group of families met and started to learn from all of the education the program provided. The speakers and topics were great, and even better was the social time we’d have together after the speakers finished. Someone would share a “Oh my gosh, little so and so did … ” moment, and was somehow relieved know that child wasn’t the only one doing something they deemed odd.

The power in numbers, peer-review aspect of the meetings offered a level of comfort we couldn’t find in any baby book. It still is truly a blessing to have our group family to bounce child-rearing issues off of, because if they haven’t gone through it, they soon will or they’ll know someone to reach out to for an answer or advice. On a selfish note, it’s nice to have a group of dads to hang out with when I need a break from Rainbow Loom parties and American Girl villages on our driveway.

So if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to give thanks for a few things.

I’m thankful for a group of people who don’t mind showing parenting isn’t easy, but show that if you stick to a set of values, you can raise a pretty great kid.

I’m thankful we were naïve enough to take a gaggle of 18-month olds camping and then replicating the trip when they were 7½ years old.

I’m thankful for two of our families moving to Europe. Miss them dearly but it’s always nice to know we have family to visit when we head across the pond.

I’m thankful for the chance to fly down Woodward in a real-life Hot Wheels car. Hey, we’re all kids at heart, right?

I’m thankful to know that life isn’t perfect. As a new parent (or even a husband or wife), you think everything needs to be just so, but it never is … and you learn that’s OK.

I’m thankful knowing we’ve been able to grow our family to include nearly everyone we started out with. No one knows where life will take you, but we know these folks will be a part of it somehow.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to write these blogs, especially this one, because it gives me an outlet to show how proud of my daughters I am and share a bit of knowledge I’ve learned over the years.

We didn’t pick these people who’ve affected our lives so much, and I’m thankful for that because we might have never picked them, but I’m glad someone did. Fate brought us together, and friendship has kept us together.

Oh, one more, I’m thankful you took the time to read this far.

– Jim Pesta is a Parenting Program participant and father of two girls.

It’s Never Too Late to Learn to Camp

Kids and adults around a large campfire

The kids loved telling scary stories around the campfire at our family reunion last month.

Have you noticed how different people have such various reactions to the adventure of camping? Some people crinkle their noses and avoid this “camping” at all costs. Others I talk to are interested, and can innately relate to some of these rustic experiences.

Even though camping is one of my favorite activities now, growing up, my family never camped. My mother would always say, “My idea of camping is a hotel without room service.” Ha! My first time camping was when I was in my early 20s and it was one of the more lavish experiences where we went “up north” (Has anyone ever noticed that this term is such a Michigan thing to say?) to Rose City where my fiancé’s family has property. We stayed in the family cabin where there was a shower, soft bed, electricity and even a TV. This was a nice soft introduction to camping!

From there, my fiancé and I have camped all around Michigan and even got engaged while on a camping trip in Florida. During the summer with the great weather and flexible schedules, we try to make “mini vacations” where we pull out the tent and sleeping bags, and have a campfire in the backyard just to break up our daily routine. My son Grayson, who’s 2, has grown up camping and loves spending time around the campfire with family and friends (even though I secretly think it’s mostly for the s’mores).

What I enjoy most about camping is how it brings everyone together. You wouldn’t think that changing your sleeping arrangement from a bed to a blow-up mattress would make that much of a difference, but it’s more about unplugging and really focusing on the people around you. Turning off the cell phones, skipping the Mickey Mouse rerun, and just being around my fiancé and son gets rid of the buzz of everyday life. I always notice when we go camping (whether in Florida or in the backyard) that things get so quiet. Like really quiet. It’s enough to stop and make me think about how grateful I am for the things in my life; this is especially easy when standing around a campfire making s’mores and roasting hot dogs (organic turkey, of course).

Camping can be a lot of prep work with making sure you have all the things you might possibly need while out in the wilderness, but it’s so worth it when you think about the lifelong memories that you’re making. My son will forever have memories of playing Red Rover with cousins, telling scary stories around the campfire, and the s’mores bar we usually have at any bonfire!

– Stephanie Paetzke, LLMSW, CPST, is the Grosse Pointe Coordinator with the Beaumont Parenting Program.

Keeping Busy: Sources You Can Use to Find Out Where the Cool Kids Hang Out

Little boy and girl "driving" big trucks

My twins at a local “touch a truck” event I found on Metro Parent.
My son “drove” a SMART bus and my daughter “drove” a Zamboni!

My kids aren’t old enough to say, “Moooom! I’m booooored!” but I’m certainly to the point where I say, “If we don’t do something, I’m going to go insane!”

To help channel their buckets full of energy and save my mind, I’ve amassed a treasure trove of “things to do” resources that I can call on in times of need. Because I love you all, I’ll share, but you have to share your sources, too!

  • MetroParent’s events calendar has tons of events and happenings broken down by county. You need to create a free account to see some of the pages on the site, but they do send a handy weekly “here’s what’s going on email.”
  • Find your local Macaroni Kid. This is an awesome resource for things happening in your neighborhood and community. Bigger calendars don’t always cover library events or programs, but this one does. Subscribe to their email to get a weekly update with calendar and also like them on Facebook. Don’t forget to look at the Macaroni Kid for cities near you, too. If you’re willing to drive 15 minutes, you’ll open the door to all kinds of fun.
  • Subscribe to your local public television station’s calendars and updates. Detroit Public Television has a special section just for your shorties. We met Barney, Super Why and The Cat in the Hat by checking out DPTV emails.
  • Bookmark the Michigan Activity Pass page. Click on the site, enter your ZIP code, and see which museums and attractions offer free or discounted rates through the MAPS program. Just by entering my ZIP code, the search returned 64 entries. Not a bad start!
  • Check out the calendar and tips at MetroDetroitMommy.com. It’s just another source for finding something to do!
  • Also, do a little research and find local mommy bloggers, such as Detroit Moms Blog. These groups usually do “best parks” round-ups, listings of local fireworks shows and more.

So there you have it: my list of resources to help me keep the kids involved and experiencing new things. What are your resources and tricks?

– Rebecca Calappi, Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health and adoptive parent of multiples


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