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Mama Drama: Calming the Candy Crash

Dear Mama Drama:

Every year I dread the post-Halloween crash. My kids are exhausted and alternately hyper and cranky from sugar highs and lows. After they spend so much time planning costumes, decorating the house, carving pumpkins, and trick-or-treating, I don’t have the heart to limit their candy. How can I help them moderate their candy intake without ruining the fun?

~Crash Tested Mama

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Dear Crash Tested:

The hype, anticipation, and preparation for Halloween do make it a holiday many parents struggle to manage. However, just like with other parts of parenting, it’s our job to set limits and create structure for our children.

I’m assuming your kids are a bit older as you have experienced this a few times. First, I would talk with your children about what you notice when they binge on their candy and how it effects how they feel physically and emotionally. They may notice the connection of the highs and low or it may be a good learning moment for them.

Next, negotiate a reasonable plan for eating their candy. Some things to include in the conversation are eating plenty of fruits and veggies as well as protein to even out those highs and lows, eating candy after meals, and limiting their overall intake each day.

Depending on their age and how trustworthy your kids are, you may also need to address whether the candy is out for them to access independently or should be put away for you to dole out. I would involve them in this decision as well, asking them how they think they’ll be able to handle regulating themselves. They may each have different needs or skills, so be flexible.

How do you manage the Halloween candy aftermath?

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Fridays with everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions and challenges to [email protected], and your Mama Drama could be in next week’s column! Lisa is also available for private consultations. All emails and identifying information will remain confidential. Read more of Lisa’s parenting perspective at her Laughing Yoga Mama blog.

Mama Drama: Responding to Rudeness from Other People’s Kids

Dear Mama Drama:

I’ve had a few experiences with rude children that have stumped me. I don’t really know how to deal with other people’s kids who are disrespectful. Where is the line?

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One was a teenager who had parked across three parking spaces in our church parking lot. I politely asked him to move his car but he gave me lip and refused. Imagine how mortified he was when he learned our religion classes were combining that day and he had to sit through my lesson.

Another was a student in my daughter’s second grade class who was being really mean to her about something she didn’t agree with. Fine. But then this girl started going off on ME! I couldn’t believe she’d dare to do it to an adult.

~Disbelieving Mama

Mama Drama: Christmas Morning Craziness

Dear Mama Drama:

Christmas day is a nightmare at my house. My children run downstairs, dump their stockings, tear open all the gifts and then fight over who got what.

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When the rest of the family comes over, it’s the same thing. They greet their grandparents with, “What’d you bring me? What’d you bring me?” Then there is wrapping paper everywhere and they have no idea who gave them what presents nor any appreciation for them.

It’s like a feeding frenzy. I have no idea what to do to make this better.

~Feeling Frenzied

Dear Frenzied:

Creating a routine for Christmas morning and opening presents is just as important as developing regular daily routine. Since your children have a pattern of behavior already established, it is important that you start talking with them before Christmas morning about changes in your expectations this year.

Begin discussing the importance of appreciating their gifts, whether they are from Santa, parents, or other relatives and friends. Let them know your concerns with their previous behavior and how you would like that to change. Teach them ways to express gratitude and have them practice.

Create a new Christmas morning tradition together. Perhaps the kids can all climb in bed with you and snuggle.  You could all take turns doing shoulder rubs or tickling backs. You could also read a book together. If everyone is old enough, perhaps they can read quietly in their rooms until a specified time.

Make a new rule that you will wait to open presents until all family members are downstairs. Set a time when everyone is expected to be up. As they begin with their stockings, give them each an area where they can open their gifts. Encourage them to take items from their stocking one at a time, rather than dumping them, and examine the gift.

Mama Drama: Grocery Grabbers and Independent Eights

Dear Mama Drama:

Every time we go to the grocery store my two-year-old daughter climbs all over the cart. She stands up and grabs at things and has nearly fallen out several times. I have talked with her over and over, bribed her with treats, and threatened to leave the store, but nothing has worked. What else can I do?

~At my wits end!

Dear Wits End:

The first thing to do is buckle your daughter into the cart every time she is in one. She may fuss and whine, but this should be a non-negotiable point.

Next, give her something to do while she is in the cart. Sitting for long, seemingly endless trips to the store can be very frustrating for a child. Let her hold the shopping list and help you cross off items. Give her a drawing pad or magnet drawing toy and have her make her own list. Bring a small bag of board books she can read.

Try to keep shopping trips brief. Create a list of ten items and have her help you count them down. As you go through the store to find your items, enlist her help. “I’m looking for something blue (show her what blue is if she doesn’t know). Do you see it?” “We need bananas. Do you know where they are?” Stick to the ten items on the list for that trip, so she knows when the shopping is done.

Having an incentive at the end of the shopping trip is okay, but make sure the treat is an interactive activity most of the time. Tell your daughter, “We’re going to the store to get ten items. If you stay safe in the cart, we will play at the park when we’re done.” Be sure to describe what safe in the cart specifically means, i.e., strap stays buckled, bottom is on the seat, hands stay in the cart, etc.

Throughout the shopping trip frequently notice when she is being safe, “You are keeping your hands in the cart. Thank you.” If she is struggling, restate your expectations and her incentive, “If you want to go to the park, your bottom must stay on the seat.” When you reach the check out line (with all the tempting candies), remind her of her incentive and the expected behaviors, “You have been so safe in the cart. Keep your hands in the cart and stay on your bottom and we can go to the park.”

Finally, before you threaten to leave the store, be sure you are prepared to do so. Empty threats will only reinforce the unwanted behavior. If your daughter is not being safe in the cart, restate your expectations of what she is to do (see above). If she continues to be unsafe, park the cart and leave. Do this calmly, saying, “Uh-oh, you aren’t being safe in the cart so we have to leave. It’s so sad we won’t be able to go to the park today.” Expect a fit, but don’t react. You can empathize with her by saying, “I know. It’s so sad.” Then hold her hand or pick her up and walk out the door.

Dear Mama Drama:

My eight-year-old son is very rude to me in front of his friends. He says he wants me to volunteer in his classroom, but won’t acknowledge me when I am there. He wants me to walk behind him in the hallway and snaps at me when he does talk to me at school. At home he is all hugs and kisses.

~Confused Mama

Dear Confused Mama:

Your son is at the age where he is beginning to see himself as separate from you and seek more independence. Eight to nine is a typical stage for boys to begin this process. It is important to guide your son through this phase and set limits about his behavior.

Have a direct conversation about this issue with you son. Tell him you have noticed that at home he is kind and loving, but at school he is rude and distant. Let him know that all boys go through a phase of seeking independence and creating an identity separate from their mothers. Emphasize that this is a typical part of growing up. Be clear with him, however, there is no need for this to be done in a rude or disrespectful manner.

Discuss ways in which he would like to be more independent and make a plan to support him with this. Then, discuss how you expect him to treat you at school and other public places. Let him know that the manner in which he treats you will teach his peers how he wants them to treat you. Also, tell him that when he acts disrespectfully, he does not look cool, he looks rude.

While girls tend to like face-to-face conversations, this often makes boys uncomfortable. When you talk with your son, sit side by side with him or have the conversation while out on a walk or riding in the car. This will feel less threatening for him.

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Fridays with everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions and challenges to [email protected], and your Mama Drama could be in next week’s column! All emails and identifying information will remain confidential.