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As a parent, you are responsible for correcting and guiding your child. But how you express your corrective guidance makes all the difference in how your child receives it. When you have to confront your child, avoid blaming, criticizing, or faultfinding, which undermine self-esteem and can lead to resentment. Instead, strive to nurture and encourage even when you are disciplining your child. Make sure that he knows that while you want and expect him to do better next time, you love him no matter what.

Be aware of your own needs and limitations as a parent.

Face it - you are an imperfect parent. You have strengths and weaknesses as a family leader.

Recognize your abilities - “I am loving and dedicated.” Vow to work on your weaknesses - “I need to be more consistent with my discipline.” Try to have realistic expectations for yourself, your spouse, and your children. You don’t have to have all the answers - be forgiving of yourself. And try to make parenting a manageable job. Focus on the areas that need the most attention rather than trying to address everything at once. Admit it when your burnt out. Take time out from parenting to do things that will make you happy as a person (or as a couple). Focusing on your needs does not make you selfish. It simply means that you care about your own well-being, which is another important value to model for your children.

Stroller Struggles Nobody said that it was going to be easy (if anybody did, they’ve probably never had a toddler). Toddlers and convenience are often incompatible. Though it’s worth following tips, it’s also worth accepting one of the realities of life with a toddler: Getting there is rarely twice the fun, but it does generally take twice the time.

1. Be understanding:

“I know that you don’t want to ride in the stroller, but we don’t have time to walk right now. You can when we get near the house.”

2. Don’t make the stroller a source of conflict:

Try to be calm when your toddler tries to resist the stroller. The more an issue appears to upset you, the more the child will fight you on it.

3. Stock up on diversions:

Attach playthings to the stroller to make a more entertaining ride. Change them often so your child doesn’t become bored with the things that they have.

4. Let them walk:

Let them “help” push the stroller. This can help them keep in step with you, as will holding hands.

–  –  –

Make sure it’s worth making her wait.

Though it’s tempting to make a toddler wait for something that she’s asked for on principal, it’s not always fair or reasonable. Hunger and thirst, for example, are very pressing problems to her, problems that need immediate resolution.

Create a diversion.

If the wait is legitimate and necessary, try to make it pass more quickly for your toddler with entertainment. For instance, a song, some favorite nursery rhymes, or an add-lib game such as, “What does the cow say?” may buy you enough time to help distract your child and make him forget about the situation at hand.

Set a timer.

If you need five more minutes in the kitchen before you can take your toddler to the park, set a timer and let her watch it until it dings. This will give her a sense of control over you and over time.

Move it.

If you can’t get it out of mind, get it out of sight. If your toddler wants something that she can’t or shouldn’t have now, physically separate her from it.

Be willing to wait yourself.

For instance, it’s time for your toddler to do something such taking a bath or getting ready to leave the house, and she says, “Not Now, I’m playing.” Instead of dragging her from her toys immediately, be willing, when the time isn’t of the essence, to wait a minute or two. If she sees you’re patient, she is more likely to learn to be, too.

–  –  –

Humor can be brought into a variety of disciplinary situations. Give orders pretending you’re a dog or lion, or another of your child’s favorites; accompany unpopular procedures with a silly song (“This is the way we wash our face, wash our face…”) or a play-by-play commentary (“Here comes the clean-up monster,” as the washcloth swoops down and “gobbles” up the jelly smeared cheeks); make silly faces in the mirror to distract your child from crying.

–  –  –

* Make friends before birth. Tell your child about the baby before birth. Show pictures of a baby in a mommy’s uterus. Let her pat the baby, talk to the baby, and feel the baby kick. Have fun talking about and planning for the baby’s arrival.

* Replay the child’s babyhood. Sit down with your child and page through her baby picture album.

Show her what she looked like right after birth, coming home from the hospital, nursing, having her diapers changed, and so on. By replaying the child’s baby events, she will be prepared for what’s to come.

* Foreshadow baby’s coming. “When the tiny baby comes out of mommy’s tummy, mommy’s going to hold it all the time. Tiny babies sleep and nurse all day long and sit in their mommy’s arms. Tiny babies really need their mommy’s.” * Include the child in the birth festivities. Besides being with Mom and baby after the birth, ask for his help in planning a “birthday party.” He gets to pick the cake, decorations, and special presents for the baby.

* Include a gift for sibling. Savvy visitors who themselves have survived sibling rivalry bring along a gift for the older child when visiting the new baby. Keep a few small gifts in reserve for your young child when friends lavish presents and attention on the new baby. Let her be the one to unwrap the baby gifts and test the new rattles.

* Time Share. What bothers a child the most is sharing you with the baby. Since the concept of sharing is foreign to a child under three, and since mom is the most important “possession,” it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to sell the child on the concept of “time shares” in mother.

You can share the time that you spend caring for the baby with your child. Wear your infant in a babysling. That gives you two free hands to play with your older child. While feeding the baby, read a book to the sibling or just have cuddle time. Try playtime for two: As baby get’s a bit older, encourage the child to entertain the baby. Making faces and funny noises is something that three and four-yearolds excel at and babies love.

Remember, baby’s needs always come first, even though your toddler can be more persistant and boisterous making her needs and wants known. Many mothers have made the mistake of not bonding appropriately with her newborn for fear of frustration in their other child.

* Make the sibling feel important. Give your child a job in the family organization. Play up her importance to you, personally and practically. Tell her that you need her help. Give her a job title. Make it fun: “You can be mommy’s helper. Get the diaper please.” Let her change diapers, dress baby, and bathe baby (under supervision). Praise the help she gives you.

* Be open to sibling’s feelings. Encourage your child to express her negative as well as her postive feelings. When she tells you things like. “I hate that baby,” resist the urge to say something like, “Oh, you don’t meant that! You love the baby.” Be glad she feels secure enough to lay her feelings out for you. If she hears you say her feelings are normal and understandable, they’ll lose a lot of the initial intensity, and she’ll open up more. Everyone wants to be understood and accepted.

* What’s in it for me? That’s the way children think. Children in this situation are preoccupied with what they’ve lost. They don’t see an “up” side. They’ve lost center stage, and the baby is too little to be fun. Revive “special time,” especially with dad. The attention that the child has lost from mom she gains from dad. Actions speak louder than words. Enjoy each other’s presence with body-to-body contact.

Even fifteen minutes a day of holding time can make a difference.

* Protect both children’s needs. If your child hurt’s the baby it calls for immediate correction. Put on your best never-do-that-again lecture. Control any urge to swat the child, but you must deliver firm direction. Explain how fragile babies are and even though you understand he is feeling angry, you will not let him hurt the baby. Help him apologize, “Pat the baby’s head and tell him your sorry you hurt him.” Now that your child’s feelings are out, you can address them directly. Encourage his touches to be soft; model stroking and saying nice things.

Ask your child to tell you when she feels angry. If your older child is very young, expecting her to control angry impulses around the baby is expecting too much. Don’t leave an aggressive toddler alone with a baby. She can’t control herself without your help.

Jealousy A lot of toddlers display an excessive and possessive love for their moms, even talk of marrying them, These feelings are normal, and if handled properly, temporary. In fact, by the time they reach three or four, many boys keep their mother’s at arms length, rejecting hugs and kisses. Instead of reacting angrily, or too sympathetically, try reacting with good humor. So that he won’t feel left out, include him in your hugs when he seeks to pry you and your husband apart. Remind him, “I love you and I love Daddy—I love you both very much.” Be careful not to encourage fantasies because they’re cute or your flattered. Explain, “You can’t marry me, because I’m your Mommy, but you can marry another nice woman when you grow up.” Make sure, too, that your toddler’s getting plenty of loving attention from both of you. If he’s wary with Daddy, having them spend time together, “just us boys,” will help them grow closer. Eventually he’ll realize that he can’t take daddy’s place, but he can be like him. Their relationship will blossom.

Many girls also favor Mommy early on. Other children are Daddy’s girls or boys almost from birth. It’s important to remember that favoritism of any kind is not a personal insult to the lessfavored parent of the moment but simply a matter of normal development. During later stages, many children shift their loyalties to the other parent — and still later, may swing back again.

How Play Builds the Brain Every time your child hears, sees, touches, tastes, or smells something, messages are sent to her brain and a connection is made. The more varied play experiences your child has, the more brain connections are made. And the more your child has the chance to do the same things over and over again, the stronger these connections become.

Here are some suggestions for activities to add to playtime:

[Nesting toys - toys that fit into one another.] • Measuring cups Different sizes of boxes Various sizes of plastic bowls or containers [Make believe play- toddlers may begin this type of play.] • It offers your child an opportunity to learn about the society your child is growing up in.

Your toddler may enjoy dressing up in mom or dad’s clothes.

Use the telephone to talk to someone make believe on the other end of the phone.

[Toddlers at this age enjoy playing with hidden objects.] • Simple inset puzzles Hammer-peg toys [Your child may enjoy playing interactive games that involve mom and dad.] • Hide and seek Chase mom and dad or mom and dad chase child (make sure it is a safe environment to be running around) **Remember to always supervise your child in any type of playtime activity** Playing with your toddler Toddlers like a variety of different toys such as simple puzzles and matching games. As your child grows, he will start to use these toys differently. The blocks that he once carried may now be used to build a house. Or your child might try to pretend to feed a doll, imitating you. The ability to make-believe is a very important step to your child’s learning. A child who can make believe is able to hold a picture that has meaning in his mind, which is called


thinking. Thinking in abstract is needed for learning to read and do math. It’s something to encourage and it’s easy to do.

–  –  –

Lay the right foundation Teaching manners is more than just teaching the right words, you want you child to care. For this to happen, you need to remember to teach “why” as well as “how.” For example, you want your child to know giving up your seat for an elderly man is done because he needs to sit more than you, rather than have him or her only know “it is the right thing to do.” Set an exemplary example The best way to teach good manners to your toddler is to use them yourself. Say “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” when appropriate. Ask for things to be passed at the dinner table rather than just reaching for them. Also, remember to use these things when dealing with your toddler. To teach respect and consideration, respect and consider got your toddler’s feeling at all times.

Set an exemplary table A toddler can’t possibly learn to use a napkin if one never finds its way to the table at mealtime, or a fork if you never provide one. Though it takes very little time, setting the table neatly with the proper utensils and napkins says a mouthful to your toddler about mealtime decorum. Even if your toddler eats like a barbarian now, consistent exposure to civilized eating conditions will eventually instill and appreciation for them.

Speak for your toddler Toddlers don’t know enough to say “goodbye” to Grandpa or “thanks for coming” to a visitor so it’s up to you to say it for them. Hearing your repeat the “magic words” over and over in social situations, whether at home or away, will teach your toddler much more about common courtesy than any nagging.

Keep the pressure off Children who are nagged about their manners or are punished for not saying “thank you” may learn manners more quickly, or may reject them completely. Either way they are likely to be discarded when not under careful watch from then enforcing parent.

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