Tips for Challenging Child Behaviors

Pretend City Children’s Museum Senior Director of Education at Pretend City, Linda Hunter, offers these parenting tips for dealing with challenging behaviors from your child.

Are you overwhelmed by the BIG behaviors that your child sometimes exhibits? Pretend City is hosting our annual Symposium for parents this month where leading child development experts will share valuable insight as they deal with challenging behaviors. We would love for you to join us on October 24, 2012 from 6:00pm – 8:30pm. Here are a few tips I can pass along which will give you a taste of what you will learn from the other parenting experts at the Symposium.

When your child is acting out, remember to HALT. H-A-L-T is an acronym for four important things to check out before you proceed. Ask yourself, “Is my child:
Lonely (lonely applies to all big feelings like fear or uncertainty)?
If you identify any of the above as true, you know where to begin to help alleviate the problem. It’s a quick checklist to run through and may save you a whole lot of energy if you can take care of these items first before being sidetracked by their behavior.

Check your expectations. Is what you expect from your child realistic? Understanding what is typical behavior for your child’s stage of development is critical in setting realistic expectations. For example, if you have a 2-year old and you expect them to sit quietly while you watch your TV program, it’s safe to say that your expectation is unrealistic. When they are 5-years old, this expectation is more realistic as they can color or read or play quietly. On the flip side, if you expect too little, that’s a problem as well. Sometimes children act out because parents are too restrictive and don’t allow children to challenge themselves. A key rule of thumb is to never do for a child what they are capable of doing for themselves – it sends a subtle message to them that you don’t believe that they are competent. The more you understand about what is developmentally appropriate for your child, the more you will set realistic expectations – for your child and for yourself.

Set reasonable limits and be as consistent as humanly possible. Diversion and redirecting is a great way to move children away from a behavior that you want them to change. Redirection is effective in some cases. In others it is important to set reasonable limits for your child. Setting reasonable limits helps children learn social norms and learn to manage their own behaviors. If you are in a restaurant and your 4-year old starts throwing silverware, you need to set boundaries on what is proper behavior in public for them – and remember to be as consistent as possible with the limits you set. Redirection is generally effective with infants and toddlers moving gradually into reasonable limit setting as children move toward their pre-school years.

Explain to your child why something is unacceptable, but don’t over explain. One of the biggest problems I see today’s parents making – and it seems to be on the increase, is that of over-explaining. It almost seems as if parents are wanting their child to somehow validate that parents are doing the right thing by setting limits. While limit setting is not popular with your child, parents shouldn’t be seeking their child’s approval for the way they parent. It is up to parents to learn about child development, set reasonable expectations, and do what is appropriate for their child in each new stage of their development.

Children often use challenging behaviors when they lack more appropriate behaviors or skills to accomplish the same goal or to communicate the message. During the Pretend City Symposium, our panel of experts will share ways to understand challenging behaviors and will discuss a range of helpful tips dealing with ages from birth to 10 years of age. We hope to see you there!

Linda earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Human Development and Master’s Degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy from the prestigious Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena. Linda joined Pretend City in 2002 prior to its opening and has over 40 years of experience working with children and families in both the fields of early childhood education and family therapy.

Interior Design Made Easy for Families

Ever since having kids, we have this problem where I just rotate our “stuff” around the house. Nothing seems to have its place in our house anymore. I have baskets upon baskets of toys, overflowing book shelves and my once nicely decorated house now looks like a Little Tykes advertisement. I am continually frustrated with what is the best layout for our furniture, and how can we maximize on our living space.

Since I do not have any decorating bones in my body, I am seeking out the help of Hillary Nichols.

Hillary Nichols in one of Orange County’s top interior designers. She is so talented with a perfect eye for interior design. Although I would love to hire the best interior designer to help with my house decorating dilemmas, it has never been in the budget of our growing family – until now.

She has just launched a new aspect to her company called Box of Design. With just a few easy steps, customers can access Hillary’s talented services for less.

With Box of Design, I will simply complete an online survey with my husband. Then we will upload photos, describe our style and input pieces of furniture we certainly want to keep. Then in just a few weeks we will get our entire room design shipped to us in a special box.

Thinking that doing interior design is going to cost a fortune with suggestions of high-priced furniture? Think again. Box of Design will include items to decorate your room that are reasonably priced. Instead of suggesting to purchase a $3,000 chair, Box of Design will find one that is similar yet priced for a reasonable $300.

The box will include a drawing layout, links of where to purchase suggested decorating items and even paint colors. It is a full interior design package at a fraction of the cost.

I am so excited about finally getting the help I need to bust out of my cream colored walls and subtle furniture with the help of Hillary Nichols. I will be sharing the process of transforming my family room in the coming weeks…stay tuned!

Win it! We are excited to be able to offer one OC Family reader a discount on getting a room in their house redesigned. We are able to offer one 50% discount certificate to one reader. Prices on Box of Design packages start at just $100.

To enter to win, please leave a comment below with your biggest home decorating challenges.

Spa Gregorie’s Organic Brightening Facial

About six months ago, I had a full nonsurgical face lift to help with my skin discoloration. Since the procedure my face is clear of all major sun damage and scaring. In the process of getting the sun damage removed, I learned that it was crucial for me to take better care of my skin. One of the easiest ways to maintain healthy skin is by getting regular facials.

We are all busy mommies, but it is so essential to stop and take time to care for ourselves.

Last month, I went to Spa Gregorie’s for the first time. Shocking – I know. It was hard for me to believe that after living in Orange County my entire life, this was my first time visiting this luxurious spa that is so well known in our community.

I scheduled to get their new Organic Brightening Facial to help with uneven pigmentation, fine lines and to maintain the clarity of my skin. The treatment uses a combination of enzymes, kojic acid, lactic acid, brightening vitamin C, and other all-natural ingredients.

What I was most drawn to about this facial was the use organic and natural ingredients. My skin was able to relax and energize while getting this premiere signature service. The treatment offered a rich mosaic of products that the therapist tailored to match my skin, which indulged my senses.

The Organic Brightening Facial is available at all three Spa Gregorie’s locations in Newport Beach, Rancho Santa Margarita and Del Mar for $119. Relax and Rejuvenate at this elegant Orange County spa.

Photos are courtesy of Spa Gregorie’s.

Smackerels Brings Uplifting Messages to Children

A new series of web shorts called Smackerels (a word that Winnie the Pooh uses to describe a snack or small amount of honey) have just been released. These fun movie shorts feature stop-motion puppetry with Pooh and his friends. These adorable videos have become a favorite of my son who has been watching them every day after school. As a parent, I have enjoyed exposing my son to the uplifting messages in Smackerels.

Four of the six new videos have recently been released and can now be watched on You Tube.

In celebration of the release of the Smackerels, we are offering a special giveaway to one lucky OC Family reader. The giveaway is a $90 value and includes:

· Bounce Bounce Tigger toy
· The Tigger Movie Bounce-A-Rrrific Special Edition Blu-ray DVD, newly released at retail
· Winnie the Pooh Storybook Colleciton
· Pooh and Friends Cotton Swabs

To enter to win, please leave a comment below telling us who is your favorite Winnie the Pooh character. 

Winner will be selected on October 31st via

OC Mom Distributing Children’s Books at the OC Walk to Remember

A plus sign.  A little bean with a beating heart, in black and white.  A baby’s first kick.  These are just some of the moments you remember, until they tell you that the baby inside you is sick.  Then, sometimes they are all you have.

Unfortunately this was the case for Melanie Tioleco-Cheng and her second pregnancy with her daughter Macy, who had trisomy 18.  Although, she would say that her pregnancy was something more than just those little (big) things because Macy taught her what it meant to love unconditionally.  During that journey, she wrote a children’s board book for her two-year old to explain that her younger sister was special, might be in the hospital after her birth, and would likely die.

Melanie’s sister, Melissa Tioleco-Cheng, later illustrated the book, and they printed several copies for Macy’s subsequent funeral.  After receiving a grant from Sappi International, they along with their younger sister, Diana Cheng Scheible were able to have Special Delivery printed and offer copies for free to various grief support groups and hospitals.

Now they’ve joined forces with OC Walk to Remember, a non-profit organization that sponsors a fundraising 5k walk and memorial ceremony, with proceeds going to groups and organizations that support parents who have experienced infant loss of any kind.  The 2012 Walk is being held on Saturday, October 6, at the District at Tustin Legacy.  They will be distributing copies of the book for free to all the families during the walk.

As one of the t-shirt slogans for OC Walk to Remember says, “We walk for the steps our babies will never take.”  Much like that baby’s first vehement kick from inside his/her mommy’s belly, these are the steps we continue for them.

Giveaway: Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland Park

It’s Halloween Time at Disneyland Park, and time for Mickey’s Halloween Party.

Disneyland Park closes down for special event ticket holders on selected evenings during the month of October for children and adults to trick-or-treat throughout the park. There is a festive parade, holiday themed music, dance party and spectacular fireworks during the Halloween Party. Guest who purchase a ticket to Mickey’s Halloween Party can come to the park dressed in non-frightful costumes, and have early entry into the park before the party starts.

Mickey’s Halloween Party tickets are available for purchase online for October 2, 5 (sold out), 9, 12,15,19,23,26,29 and 31st. Ticket prices start at $54 and up per person.

The Vacation Gals, have been my #1 resource when planning girlfriend getaways, romantic escapes and family travel. The travel website along with Disneyland have offered us two tickets to giveaway for Mickey’s Halloween Party.

The tickets are valid for October 9th from 6pm to 11pm, with early Disneyland Park entrance beginning at 3pm. The two tickets include parking at any Disneyland Resort pay on entry parking lot location.

Enter to win by leaving a comment below with who is your favorite Disney character.

Extra Entries:

(Please leave an additional comment for each extra entry)

The giveaway will be open until Friday, October 5th at 1pm PST. Winner will be selected using a random number generator, and will be notified via email. Good luck. Thank you to the Vacation Gals and Disneyland for offering these special tickets to our OC Family readers.

Halloween Haunts at Knott’s Scary Farm

Last weekend, My husband and I, set-out for a date night at Knott’s Scary Farm. We left the stinky diapers, sippy cups and Legos behind for a special night to feel young again. The last time we had been to Knott’s Scary Farm together was during our senior year in High School, and all we could remember was running around the park at night giggling (and screaming) with all of our teenage friends.

Returning over ten years later, we felt like young kids again. We were running around the park being silly and having a fun together. Knott’s Scary Farm is not just for teenagers, but a fun place for couples to have an adventurous date night.

This is the 40th Anniversary of Knott’s Scary Farm, and the return of the Green Witch. Knott’s has gone all out this year with their incredibly scary “Trapped” maze, monsters at every turn and fantastic entertainment. The costumes of the monsters were so realistic, and they were all in character the entire evening.

My husband and I went on thrilling rides, adventured through 3-D mazes and had many laughs together. We had felt just like we were 18 again – until we get the call from the babysitter at midnight letting us know they couldn’t get the kids to sleep.

We plan to make visiting Knott’s Scary Farm every year for a High School Flash-back date night. Knott’s Scary Farm will be open until October 31st. Tickets range from $36 to $52 for presale online, and $60 the night of the event. Don’t wait to purchase tickets the night of the event, because many of the night sell-out in advance.

There are additional ticket options including the VIP maze, Trapped. The “Trapped” maze is an additional $60 for six people, and something that every visitor is going to want to experience. Visitors can purchase a pre-boo scare dinner for $21.55 online or $24.99 (plus tax) at the door. Fast Lane, and Fright Lane passes are also available for visitors looking to bypass lines during the fright fest.

Keeping teens safe on the road

We do not have teenagers – yet! I know that when my kids first start driving, that I want to know where they are at all times. As my kids get older, I find myself wanting to protect them from the dangers of the world even more.

Since I am known for locking my keys in the car (at least once a week), I had a Viper SmartStart system installed to allow me to unlock my car directly from my cellphone. Instead of calling my buddy (who I have gotten to know well from AAA) every time I get caught looking at my keys through the glass car window – I can unlock the car directly from my iPhone.

Getting the Viper SmartStart installed

After having the new system installed in my car, I learned that it is the perfect system for parents to monitor their new teen drivers. Parents can locate their child’s car with a satellite signal that is sent directly to the parents iPhone. (Boy I am glad my parents did not have this when I was a teen – right?)

The iPhone app can tell the user how fast the car is going, what direction the car is heading and more. Parents can even disable the car using the app! When the installer was telling me about these features he had a great perspective on it, “It keeps everyone honest.” His teens know that it is installed on their car, so they know that lying to their parents about their location will just not work. His teens know that if they attempt to drive recklessly on the road, that they will be caught. They know that even if mom or dad are not riding in the car with them, they are still there supervising them.

As we approach a holiday weekend, keeping teens safe on the road is vital. According to the NHTSA car crashes for youth ages 16-20 is the #1 leading causes of death. Being actively involved and supervising your driving teenager, with tools like the Viper SmartStart, parents can lower this risk for their children.

Follow more of Shelby’s happenings at the OC Mom Blog or on Facebook and Twitter.

Ultimate Couples Retreat

When was the last time you and your husband found time to getaway for an overnight without the children? For my husband and I, it had been almost 10 years. After having children, we found that we never wanted to be apart from them. Then we learned that we can be better parents to our children by taking time away to strengthen our marriage.

We attempted our first getaway without the kids a couple of months ago, but being close to LegoLand we found ourselves quickly calling the Grandparents to bring them down to see us. We were eager to try another getaway, so we found that San Diego was close – yet far enough away for us to enjoy time together.

I grew-up sitting on my dad’s lap watching baseball games since I was just a baby, so we decided to have a “sports theme” getaway. The Omni Hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter has a unique feature of a skywalk that directly connects to the Petco Park stadium.

When we first arrived at the hotel, I was anxious about being away from the kids. When we walked into our room with sweeping panorama views of the San Diego harbor, I felt those worries fade. The hotel is chic and modern with a feeling like a home away from home.

When it was time for the game, we had easy access to the park by going up an escalator directly to the park. It was the most convenient way I have ever gotten to a baseball game in my lifetime. There was not pushing crowds or parking lot flusters, just easy access to enjoy the game.

Petco Park is a unique park. It was our first time attending a game at this stadium. There is a play park right next to the field for children to play in a sandbox while watching the game, with plush grass seats for the parents. It is a historic stadium where all baseball fans can enjoy watching a game.

After the game, it was time to enjoy the San Diego nightlife. We walked all around the Gaslamp Quarter stopping in various restaurants to sample foods, enjoy drinks and even had fun dancing on the rooftop of a restaurant while overlooking the Omni Hotel.

The evening was a flashback into the years when we were dating, and when we were young and carefree. It gave us a chance to fall in love with each other again.

When the sun rose in the morning over the San Diego Harbor we were sad to leave the luxurious Omni Hotel. We took some time to reflect on our getaway with breakfast by the rooftop pool, and a promise to return for a getaway at least once a year.

Disney Back-to-School Guide and Giveaway

Can you believe that kids are almost back in school? I have mixed emotions on whether I should be excited, nervous or sad about the summer coming to an end. The hardest part for me about my kids going back-to-school is getting all the school supplies together for three kids. I find myself driving all over town trying to meet all their needs, and let’s face it – it can be exhausting.

We found that Disney has some of the cutest back-to-school gear, and it priced to match almost every family budget this year. With the opening of CARS Land this summer at Disneyland California Adventure, the Lightening McQueen backpack is sure to be a hit in almost every classroom.

This year’s Disney Back-to-School products is not just for little kids, but also includes a brand new Tween lifestyle collection.

The new Phineas and Ferb shoe line is manufactured by the popular company etnies. They are available at, Famous Footwear, and WSS for $57.00.

Target has recently started carrying an exclusive line of Disney inspired clothes. My daughter Ella has been flaunting this dress inspired by her favorite Disney show “Shake it Up!” and can’t wait to wear it for back-to-school. This dress is available at Target or for $24.99.

Don’t forget to include Disney-themed food inside your kids lunch boxes this year. Ready Pac Foods has developed a new line of Disney-themed Cool Cuts Mini-Meals and Salads matched with your child’s favorite Disney character. These are available in August at most grocery stores.

Lip Smacker introduces stylish, prestige-inspired To-ki-o Treats, an innovative beauty brand created especially for tweens and teens featuring Disney characters. This essential, double-sided on-the-go mirror compact – a must-have addition to any girl’s purse or backpack! It is available at Walmart for $4.

Our favorite Disney-themed back-to-school item is the Cars Backpack and lunch tote. Your child will race to the front of the class while wearing this stylish backpack. They are available at Toys “R” Us.

We are excited to giveaway a Cars backpack and matching lunch tote to one OC Family reader. To enter win, just leave a comment below telling us what your kids most wanted back-to-school item is!

Giveaway will be open until August 30th, and winner will be chosen via All photos are courtesy of Disney!

Follow more of Shelby’s OC Insider happenings at the OC Mom Blog or onFacebook and Twitter.