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Archive for the ‘Ultimate Manners’ category

UltimateMama knows that sidewalks (city mamas) and malls (suburban mamas) can be challenging with strollers.  When you need to move ahead and a polite “excuse me” doesn’t work for the person ahead of you, try some restaurant lingo by saying “behind”. 

At a restaurant, “behind” is a command often used by food servers or waiters who are trying to prevent dropping their dishes while moving past another employee near the kitchen area.  When strolling her children, UltimateMama often uses the short, quick, kind command of “behind” when “excuse me” fails to get the job done!  Try it today!

UltimateMama was recently at the Gap when her three year old decided it was time to hit her!  A trantrum or meltdown erupted as this little girl turned into a little monster!  Shocked, stunned, and embarrassed UltimateMama put down the cute dark denim jeans embellished with hearts that she planned to purchase for her daughter and immediately addressed the situation. 

Since they were in a store a "time-out" seemed ineffective so UltimateMama gave her a "sit down and count to five".  Her daughter sat down on the floor of the store and softly counted to five. Then, UltimateMama explained that we as a society do not hit people or objects.  Despite her daughter's protests, they left the store empty handed as UltimateMama did not want to "reward" unacceptable behaviour with new jeans! 

UltimateMama's tips for dealing with children's meltdowns or tantrums:

1. Address the situation immediately.

2. Use a firm, businesslike voice (do not yell or appear flustered or frustrated).  Make sure you are calm, cool, and collected – fake it if you must.  If you act frustrated your child will pick up on it and act out more.

3. Leave the "scene of the crime".  Get out of the location (unless it is your home) right away. Whether it is a store, restaurant, park, or friend's house you need to remove your child from the situation.  Even if you have a shopping cart filled with groceries, you need to leave the grocery store immediately.

4. Talk to the child to unveal what triggered the tantrum.  Ask them direct questions like "are you upset about something that happened in school?", "do you feel that your little brother gets in your way?", "are you hungry?".  Sometimes kids do not know how to communicate their feelings and may not verbally express them unless you help them!

5.  Move on to the next activity.  If you are in a contained area like an airplane or religious service you may need to divert their attention to something more productive.  Pull out a book, a packet of stickers, a coloring book, or a magnetic pad and have them focus on something else.

6.  Offer your child a snack or some water.  UltimateMama knows that she can turn into a mean bear if she is hungry and her daughters are the same way!  Sometimes, a sip of water or a few crackers can calm down even the loudest voices and end the kicking and screaming.

7.  Suggest a treat or reward for good behavior and a penalty for continued bad behavior.  This can be tricky because you don't want to reward terrible behavior but if you remind your child that if they act in a nice manner then when they come home you will read their favorite book or play their treasured game with them they may switch to a "nice" child.  Moreover, if they continue acting inappropriately then you should tell them their favorite toy or stuffed animal will be taken away when they get home.

8. Offer support. Your child may be tired, hungry, or just bothered and may just need you to pick them up in your arms and give them hugs and kisses! Use common sense and do not take your child shopping for groceries or attire if they have been in school all day long.  Give your child a break and let them wind down after a long, hard day of learning and playing.

No matter how your child acted on a particular day, the best thing to do is to quietly creep into their bedroom at night and watch them sleep.  You will be reminded that your child really is a little angel. 

Another idea is to get out the old photo albums and look how your child is growing up before your eyes.  You will realize at various stages they might have lashed out and been uncontrollable but watching them grow is the best present you will ever receive from your children.

Child behavioral problems are never fun to deal with but we all must at some point. UltimateMama knows that children are not always angels even though we think of them as such. If your child harms another child at home or at school it is best to address the issue right away while it is "fresh" in their minds.  If your child has kicked, pushed, poked, bit, or scratched another child you may want to pull them aside and sternly talk to them about their negative actions and explain that we use "gentle hands/feet/etc." and "kind words" with friends.  You should also encourage them to address the other child with an apology and either a hug or handshake. 

If an incident happens between your child and another when the other parent is not present you should tell them about the event verbally or with an email.  An example of an email that could be sent to a class parent:

"Miss King (teacher) told me that Monica (your child) and Dee had a little rough-housing incident in the gym today and Monica may have scratched Dee.  The teachers did talk to both children about what happened. I just wanted to let you know that we find Monica's behavior unacceptable and have also spoken to her about her negative actions and encouraged the use of "gentle hands" (Monica hugged Dee when they left school today)."

UltimateMama says "Thank you" several times a day to those who assist her and her children. And, UltimateMama teaches her children to do the same.  Making a habit out of saying thank you to those who deserve it is easy not to mention kids feel a bit "adult" when they say it!

UltimateMama encourages her children to say thank you in the following situations:

– when someone holds a door open

– every time they step off the bus, they thank the bus driver

– to cab drivers

– to salespeople in retail stores

– to the check-out helpers at the grocery store

– to doorman and porters

– to the mailman or any delivery person

– to people who visit

– to anyone who gives a gift

Outta my Sunday mornin' mind….
UltimateMama feels that thank you notes are mandatory when your child does not open a gift in front of the gift giver.  Moreover, UltimateMama helps her children compose and send thank you notes many times when they do open a gift in front of the gift giver.
Every year UltimateMama spends a lot of money on children's gifts. UltimateMama and her children only receive proper thank yous from the recipients of approximately 50% of these gifts.  Not only does UltimateMama feel bad about it but her children do too (especially when they helped select the gift). 
Many folks ask UltimateMama if the official thank you must be in the form of a note or letter that is mailed. Ideally, yes. Practical, maybe not.  A quick phone call or email to have your child say 'thank you" is better than nothing at all!
Teach your children etiquette early on!  A child who sends thank you notes will grow up to be an adult who does the same.

UltimateMama loves when nice, caring, wonderful mommies give her useful suggestions on parenting.  In every bunch (school groups, classes, neighborhoods, etc.), there are always one or two mommies who stand out immediately and you learn to really treasure those friendships. Whether these mommies have older children, children the same age as yours, or younger children you really love having them a part of your life.  You admire them for telling their parenting stories and for listening to yours. 

DO NOT wait for Mother's Day to show these special mothers appreciation.  UltimateMama offers a few simples ideas for you:

– Give or send them flowers

– Send them a hand written note

– Create a photo book, card or album for them featuring the children

– Offer to be their child's "in case of emergency" contact

– Tell them about a great sale

– Give them details about a fun family event you went to or will attend

– Invite them over for a brunch or lunch

UltimateMama does not tolerate busybodies who offer unsolicited parenting advice.  Many times, those people who offer such advice have failed in some aspects of parenting themselves and feel the need to make themselves feel better…at your expense. 

Whether you are at a family gathering, a holiday party, a retail store, a parking lot, or an airport, you should be armed with a few direct yet helpful phrases to defer those who lurk and spew senseless parenting information.

– "Sounds like we have drastically different parenting styles".

– "Oh, your child walked, talked, and was potty-trained by 9 months, well then they must be going to Harvard".

– "I believe you have children already and I am not one of them".

– "I understand that you valued your sleep and declined to breastfeed but I am honored to nurse my child to provide nutrition and protect them from illness". See the following link for additional benefits

– "It may be okay for you to feed your children from a jar or take-out container but we prefer fresh ingredients".

– "You may support pacifiers but I like to investigate why my child is uncomfortable without an object in their mouth".  For an interesting story on the pacifiers see link: 

– "Using food as a reward may be your style but we find more constructive ways to reward our children".

UltimateMama realizes that with the holidays comes lots of quality time with friends.  One can never teach their child manners too early.  UltimateMama helps her young children select and bring a small gift whenever visiting a friend for a long duration or special occasion.  The children present the gift to the hostess or their children upon arrival as a nice way of saying "thank you" for the hospitality or fun time. 

For a Christmas Eve dinner party at a friends apartment, UltimateMama arrived with gourmet food items for the parents while her children presented their friends with short-sleeved shirts for an upcoming vacation to San Juan along with a few books.  

This weekend, UltimateMama's children will be giving a few books and games to friends they are visiting in Connecticut. 

Gifts do not have to be expensive as it is really just meant to be a nice way of encouraging your children to appreciate those who host them in a special way. 

A few ideas for gifts your children can give their mini-hosts or hostesses:

– Books

– Coloring books/crayons

– Stuffed animals

– Washable watercolors, paint, markers

– Something edible

– A hand-made craft

– Pajamas

– T-shirts

– Puzzles

– Games

– Flash Cards

– Cars or trucks

– Hair accessories

– Framed pictures

– Mini photo albums

– Socks, mittens, hats

– Sunglasses

– Bathtub toys

– Balls or other sports accessories

– Sidewalk chalk

– Bubbles



UltimateMama strongly encourages parents to teach their child to express gratitude at an early age. It is never too early to provide etiquette lessons to your child.  From the time the first baby gift arrives until your child leaves the nest you should assist your child with creating, writing, and sending thank you notes. 

Thank you notes should be mandatory whenever your child receives a gift, attends an extraordinary event, or is the recipient of an act of kindness. 

A few ideas to make saying thanks fun:

– Create your on thank you note with construction paper, crayons, glitter

– Buy or make your child their own personalized stationary or letterhead

– Help your child with their penmanship by buying nice pens in unique colors