Cara Blackie (educational psychologist) answers:
This is a very hard situation to be in. The difficulty with relationships ending is that the children don’t understand why any one of the parents would leave. I would suggest being as open and honest about the situation as you can. Take her age into consideration when you’re explaining things to her, and remember that she doesn’t need to know every little detail. Firstly, make sure your child knows both you and her father love her. The relationship has ended and you can’t stay together. Try to explain that her dad would love to see her, but he may need to sort out his own feelings first. Above all, be sure that she knows you didn’t break up because of her; that it wasn’t her fault. It may be helpful to buy a children’s book on divorce to read to your child.
Whatever your feelings towards him are, don’t ever put the father down or say anything negative about him around your daughter. If they had a close relationship try to keep that memory, but also be aware of the current separation. If you as a parent are struggling with the separation and feel your emotions may be influencing your child, I suggest you visit a counsellor or psychologist for your own therapy.
Finally, when the father does have contact with your little girl, try to make these visit or calls as consistent as possible. If he can’t commit to that (even a phone call once a week is consistent contact) then you may want to talk to him about the problems that unexpected visits can result in, like an unsettled toddler who is even more confused about what’s going on.
It is great that you have taken a keen interest in what goes into products that you feed your daughter, especially as in this day and age we need to be concerned about the amount of sugar our children are getting. There are more stressors (environmentally, emotionally and physically) than ever before, and consequently more complaints about gut issues, dehydration, headaches, lethargy and fatigue. We are even seeing type II diabetes in children as early as age 7 – that is a typically adult onset disease. These complaints are among many I’ve seen diminish once we work through the topic of sugar in a household.
It’s a matter of making better food choices by being aware as a shopper, staying away from processed foods, educating yourself to know what ingredients to watch out for and to keep yourself from buying the junk that got you into this fix to begin with. The quick list of substitutes for sugar-laden foods and products will help you navigate your way around this:
Instead of sweets try real dried fruit, such as apricots, prunes, dates, and currants. They are very sweet and can be purchased in bulk for packing into lunches or for snacks.
Instead of microwave popcorn try air popped fresh popcorn with sea salt or real butter (NOT margarine).
Instead of fizzy cooldrinks try homemade iced tea with lemon and a teaspoon of honey
is the smooth and integrated use of the two sides of the body. This will be important to your child when it comes to dressing, cutting, feeding himself and academically for reading, letter and number formation. Crawling helps develop the shoulder, wrist and hand muscles, which are important for fine motor control. On a sensory level, crawling allows more of the baby’s skin, through their hands, knees and feet, to be exposed to different sensory input, and this may allow them to be less defensive to different touch experiences.
Here are some fun ways to get your little one on all fours:
Create obstacle courses throughout the house or garden where your toddler has to navigate over different heights and surfaces. This will be hard to do while standing, so he’ll be forced to get down on all fours. Think of using stacked up pillows, stairs, sturdy boxes, blankets and rollers to crawl and climb over.
Play peekaboo in hard to reach places, such as under the dining room table. Your little one will need to crouch and crawl to get under the table.
Most kids love pop up tunnels (available from toy stores). Playing in these tunnels includes rolling balls, pushing cars or having an older friend or sibling crawl through first. Another motivator is mom or dad waiting for him on the other side of the tunnel.
Use a pilates ball and let your tot roll over the ball while on his tummy, weight bearing on his hands, and collecting a toy from the floor. This way his shoulders and wrists get a good workout too.
If your toddler is strong enough, do a few wheelbarrow walks around the room – hold his hips, and not ankles, for additional support.