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Posts from the ‘Ask Emma’ Category

Impatient Kids? Read this.

Impatience and childhood go hand in hand. There’s a reason “Are we there yet?” is such a common marker of traveling with kids. We cannot expect our children to come into the world as patient and understanding as the Buddha, and we’d probably worry about them slightly if they did. But as they grow, it’s a parent’s job to help them understand that they don’t get everything they want the moment they want it. Teaching them patience teaches them how to operate in the world as healthy, well-adjusted adults. It teaches them how to monitor their emotions, how to think of others and how to be in relationships with others — including their own children one day. Teaching patience makes your life easier, too — you know your children won’t have a meltdown the second you’re not able to fulfill their every request.


Here are some questions to determine if you’re teaching your child patience:

If you’re having a conversation with a friend and your child has something to say, do you stop talking so he can share his thought?

If the answer is yes, stop. Not only is it annoying to the friend, but it teaches the child that he is so all-important that any word out of his mouth is worthy of stopping an adult’s conversation. Tell your child that you’d love to hear what he has to say, but he must wait his turn.

If you’re out at the zoo and your child is thirsty, do you drop everything and make for the food court to get her something to drink?

I certainly hope not. If you’re enjoying watching the baby lions, then by all means, continue watching the baby lions! Your child can wait until you pass a drinking fountain — there’s no need to make a beeline for a $4 beverage. Unless it’s 100 degrees and you’ve been out for hours, I seriously doubt dehydration is a great risk.

If you’re eating dinner and your child wants a refill of his milk, do you get up to get it for him or finish your dinner first?

Nothing irritates me more than when moms claim they haven’t had a hot meal in weeks. Have your hot meal! No one is depriving you of it but yourself. Tell your child that you would be happy to get him another drink, but after you have finished what’s on your plate.

Does your diaper bag, purse or backpack contain an answer to every need of your child that might possibly arise?

If the answer is yes, what are you afraid of? That your child will experience a tiny bit of discomfort that you can’t make go away that very instant? Guess what? That’s called life! It is OK to ask your child to wait for her crackers, her lovey, her bottle, her favorite toy. It’s OK if she’s slightly uncomfortable for a few moments. It will teach her forbearance!

Do you pull up Caillou on your smartphone every time you’re in a waiting room?

Whether it’s at the pharmacy, the doctor’s office or even the lobby of a restaurant, if you have instant entertainment waiting for your child, you are not actually teaching him to wait. You’re teaching him that he must be constantly engaged.

Do you become short-tempered when dealing with traffic jams, slow sales clerks or even your child taking a long time to put on her shoes?

If so, then you could probably do a better job modeling patience yourself. It’s not easy! Children will test every ounce of that patience. But know that they see it when you snipe at other drivers, when you roll your eyes at the sales clerk, or when you tap your foot when your 6-year-old is trying to tie his shoes. We could all do better in this department, and so let your child know that you struggle with having patience, too, and that you are trying to have more of it — just as you’re asking them to have more of it.

Trust me, patience is one of the best skills you can teach your child. It will make your life easier now, it will make him a stronger adult… and if enough parents join the fight, it just may etch away at a culture that expects instant gratification, no matter the cost.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Join the discussion! Connect with me on Twitter @emmaschildren or

This article was originally posted on HuffPost Parents


Nanny Emma’s Top 10 Tips

Many of you have asked me what I consider to be the most important key essentials to parenting. Well, here they are! In this video I discuss my ‘Top 10 Parenting Tips’ that are truly the root of my philosophy. After 17 years of working with children around the world, this is what I’ve boiled it down to.

I’ve seen first hand how poor behavior can be improved by addressing one of these key points! You can also find my Top 10 Tips on my Website if you want more information or want to print them out. 


Stop the Whining!

Do you find mealtime with the kids stressful? Not to worry – it can be hard to coordinate cooking, preparing the table, and getting the children to settle down. I completely understand! Dinnertime should be enjoyable, not a chaotic mess, so here I share my parenting tips to stop whining at the dinner table.

Thanks to this lovely family I’m working with, I’m able to show you an example of what to do and what to avoid. The major problem I see with many families is that the parent is engaging with their whining child. Do NOT give in and engage this type of behavior.

If they want to behave like animals, they can go in another room. Don’t let them sit there and spoil the meal for everyone.

Ask Emma!

Welcome to Ask Emma, where–every month–we will answer YOUR questions.

Once a month I will select three questions from the emails and social media messages I receive, and answer them via this blog. So please send in your questions, queries and concerns. Remember, if you are currently experiencing something with your little one that has raised issues, there is no doubt another mum or dad is also currently seeking solutions to that very same problem. My hope is that your comments will continue the conversation long after my blog has been posted.

So, with that said, and without any further ado… Let’s get to it!

Love, Emma xo

1) “My 2-year-old daughter gets so frustrated sometimes when I leave her room after putting her down for bedtime, or when throwing a tantrum, that she throws up. She cries and cries and cries until her little body can’t take it – and vomits. Is this normal? Do we need to see a doctor?”

The good news is toddler tantrums and vomiting are actually more common than you may think. Crying hysterically for a length of time and holding their breath can cause such a reaction. Yes, it is an extreme tantrum, but it isn’t at all unusual. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do. It can be incredibly frustrating but it’s important not to give your child a ‘reaction’, or lose your patience.

Keep in mind: Although giving them what they want may calm them down and stop them from vomiting, don’t give in! There’s typically two reasons behind their tantrum. 1) They are frustrated and 2) They aren’t getting their way. It’s important not to indulge her. Let her know you’re there to help, but only once she calms down and can speak to you.

If you feel your child is in danger from holding their breath, uncontrollably vomiting, etc. the best thing to do is hold them, talk to them in a calm voice and encourage them to breathe. Yes, breathe! Big deep breaths are not only a great distraction but they also help calm the body. Some would say it brings the body back into a cognitive state. One your child is calm and thinking more clearly, they’ll be a lot more reasonable.

Extreme tantrums are normal for toddlers and usually don’t last past age 2 or 3. If they do, check with your pediatrician because it could be something else going on.

2) “I have a 14 month old daughter and she has never liked the concept of eating. She’s seen different doctors and has improved a little. There’s not much information about kids who don’t eat; just on bad eating habits and obesity issues. How can I get her to eat her food, not just play with it?”

Firstly, don’t worry too much! This is a stage many kids do go through, the key is to keep trying! Many pediatricians say to introduce a food up to 10 times before writing it off.

Make sure she’s not having too much milk and therefore not hungry for solids. Your daughter should be having around 20 oz. of milk per day, the bulk of her calories should be from solids. Try giving her solids first and then milk, so she doesn’t fill up on milk.

Let her use her hands, not only is it great for developing fine motor skills but it’s fun! Utensils are also great and it’s good to start early. Be sure to cut food into easy, bite-size pieces.

The food should be tasty and appealing. Try different methods of cooking food (puree, roast, etc.). Use fun presentation: colorful bowls, using berries as eyes and mouths. I’m sure you can come up with plenty of ideas.

If you’re worried about her not getting enough calories, you can add eggs and hearty foods into various dishes. It’s a good idea to keep a log of what she does eat in the case you want to visit a nutritionist or your pediatrician.

Remember: Kids go through many phases. There will be times when you can’t give them enough food and times when they won’t eat anything!

3) “My daughter absolutely hates bath time! I have fun bath toys, different soaps she can pick from, and hooded animal towels. She cries nonstop everytime I get her head wet – water doesn’t even go in her eyes! What do I do?”

It sounds like you’ve tried making bath time really fun with toys and soaps, etc., now it’s just time to let her get on with it. The more of a fuss you make, the more fuss your daughter will make. Don’t make a big deal about it, reassure her that she’s okay. You can even make it a quick bath. But stay calm and don’t let her crying bother you.

At the end of the day, bathing is something we do and something everyone has to do. Obviously, make sure she’s as comfortable as possible; the water isn’t too deep; it’s not too hot or cold. Ask her is she wants a washcloth to wipe the water from her eyes or even stop the water from getting in her eyes.

Never skip a bath because she has a tantrum about bath time. Make it a part of her routine, and be consistent.

I’m not sure how old your daughter is, but for younger children you can start with a sponge bath and gradually move up, or get in the tub with them. Most children love it when mum or dad get in the bath. Family bath time = great fun!

Speaking of Marriage

Winifred M. Reilly, M.A., MFT