Parenting in the 21st century is a privilege, but oh boy, it can be challenging. Never before have we had so much competing for our attention and getting in the way of our relationships with our children. In this never-enough society the dangers are that we will get caught up in the performance-driven culture which results in us over scheduling our lives; packing more into a day that is humanly possible, and expecting our children to perform at levels which are detrimental to their physical and emotional well-being.
So, how do we do it then? How do we balance the needs of us and our children and that of the society in our efforts to raise caring, happy children?
One of the ways is to look at ourselves. Joseph Chilton Pearce writes: What we are teaches the child more than what we say, so we must be what we want our children to become.”
In being, I believe we need to be intentional about looking after ourselves. The flight attendant who tells us that in an emergency we need to put our own oxygen masks on before assisting others, is a good reminder that looking ourselves are vital. Merely holding your breath and coming up for air from time to time is not sustainable on this parenting journey.
We need to nurture ourselves. That doesn’t mean going to a spa every other day or ….When my children were small, we lived in a small house in England and I didn’t have much help. I remember throwing a blanket over my head in the middle of the kitchen and telling the kids that is my den and for the next few minutes nobody is allowed to come into my den and disturb me. Then, I would take out my favourite chocolate and enjoy the smell, taste and texture of every little bite without sharing it with anyone! On another occasion I locked myself in the bathroom at noon, lit the candles, put my favourite playlist on and told them they could watch TV for a whole hour (my kids could not belief their luck!).
Nurturing means being kind to yourself, loving yourself and believing that you are good enough. It is only when we love ourselves that we are able to love our children and connect with them in a deep and meaningful way.
Focus on the basics
Eat healthy, never skip a meal and drink enough water.
Get moving. Find a way to build exercise into your day. Walking, running, cycling, swimming, rowing, pilates or dancing releases feel-good hormones, organise our brains and bodies so that we feel more regulated, it stabilises our mood and keep up focused and attentive. Find something that fits your unique sensory profile and your lifestyle, but do something every day.
Sleep enough (easier said than done, especially in those early days). Learn to take short power naps. The dishes and washing can wait. Lock out of Facebook and put your phone on silent. Short power naps provides significant benefit for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness by 100%.
Kids keep us busy. In reality we don’t get half the things done we did before we had kids. If we set unrealistic expectations, feelings of frustration, resentment, guilt and shame may set in, which affects our self-worth and our relationships with our kids. Change your “To-do-lists” to “I-would-like-to-lists”. In those early days, realistically all you’ll get done might be:
Get the kids dressed and brush their teeth
Get the kids to eat at least one of their five fruits and veggies for the day in their bodies
Give them each a hug and say “I love you”.
That means that everything you get done over and above those is a bonus, i.e. your “I-would-like-to-list”. You can get into the bed at night and give yourself a high five. You did it!
Be real and give up perfection
We strive for perfection. We want to be the perfect parent and raise the perfect child. But what we don’t realise is that we are actually better moms and our kids are better off if we don’t parent them perfectly. According to Donald Winnicot (paediatrician and psychoanalyst) we are better moms when we don’t meet our baby’s every need instantly and when we show our children that we can have a bad day and make mistakes. Our children learn most when we show them that we make mistakes too. They learn that this world is not one where everything also goes to plan. We need to let go. It is okay to have a bad day, it is okay to make mistakes and it is okay if things get messy. There is no such thing as a perfect child, a perfect parent and a perfect world. It is about having the courage to push through difficult times.
The dangers of our never-enough society and performance-based culture is that for us to find our self-worth as parents we look to our left and to our right. We constantly compare. No two families are the same and comparison only result in resentment, unrealistic expectations and anxiety. Rather embrace your unique temperament styles and decide on values that define who you are as a family. Practise respecting your friends’ differences and honouring their choices and parenting style rather than feeling that you are being judged or judging them.
Live in the moment
Our parenting journey is filled with ups and down and characterised by different seasons. Embrace these! Stop wishing for this or that to pass. When we do this, we are less engaged with what is going on in the moment. Your child needs a mom who is present, attentive, warm and engaging in the now!
By Lizanne du Plessis
Lizanne du Plessis is an Occupational Therapist and the author of Raising Happy Children. She is an experienced occupational therapist with a special interest in the identification and treatment of children with sensory processing disorder. For more information from Lizanne du Plessis go to www.lizanneduplessis.com or email her at email@example.com
Fathers have traditionally felt inadequate regarding their role during pregnancy and childbirth. This was seen as a strictly female affair, with the Dads staying as far away from the ante natal classes, the gynae check ups and the talk about epidurals, caesarean sections and labour pains etc as possible. Their role was seen as being the background support. The main breadwinners and welcome to arrive in the labour ward once the baby was all cleaned up and the Mom had a chance to check her makeup and all the normal signs of birth and delivery had been cleared away.
It has been a challenging transition for fathers. Many have shared with me that they feel confused about the role of the “new age Dad”. They definitely aim to be more hands-on than their fathers and grandfathers were, but are not sure how to acquire the necessary skills. They share that, when they do attempt to change a nappy or bath the baby, they feel terrified that they will harm this tiny little person – or that their partners find fault with the way they do this. One Dad shared with me that he really had tried to do his best, but that it was never good enough for the Mom, so he felt it best to leave this aspect of child raising to her. He went on to say that he would get more involved when the baby was a bit less fragile and he could do fun and active things with him.
This led me to think about what tips to give Dads during the months of pregnancy and build up to the birth.
1) Develop a positive mind set. This baby has 2 parents and both are vitally important to the healthy physical and emotional development of the baby. Make it clear from the outset that you intend to be involved and as hands – on as possible.
2) Show that you are genuinely interested. When your partner shows you pictures of the 3 week foetus which is your developing baby, make sure that you show real concern and excitement. Your reaction will go a long way to pave the way for your partner to see that you really are in this amazing process together. Many Moms have shared that, because their partners seemed so disinterested during the very early stages, they stopped sharing their excitement – rather saving this for the others in the ante natal class.
3) Show genuine empathy: Many a Dad has said that they are not good at the whole “feeling” thing. That they will do whatever they can to help, but that they are better at doing something tangible – like painting the baby’s room or making shelves and hanging pictures. These are vital tasks – which both parents enjoy doing together. However, do try to develop the skill of genuine empathy . Show her you are able to connect with her emotionally – even when it is very challenging to adjust to roller coaster mood swings at times. Encourage her and praise her. She will probably go through times of feeling unhappy with the changes in her body. Assure her that you still find her attractive. Stress the positives.
4) Share your feelings too. This is a two-way process. Dads feel confused and inept too. Do not bottle up negative feelings. Choose a time when you are both relaxed – and share your own misgivings and anxieties. This sharing will bring you closer. Bottling up resentment and other negative feelings will lead to disconnection in the relationship.
5) Discuss the plans for the birth. Dads today are involved in the visits to the doctor and share the excitement of the scans. They are part of the choosing of equipment and the planning of the nursery. They are welcome in the labour ward and play an active part in the actual delivery. Your support at this crucial time will mean an enormous amount to your partner. However, do not take it too personally when she becomes impatient and irate with you. Many Dads are unable to believe that their previously calm and collected partners resort to gutter language during the trauma of childbirth. She will become calm and sane soon enough!!
Dads, you are indispensable, both to your partners and your babies. Thank goodness those days of hands – off Dads are well and truly over!
By Anne Cawood
Anne Cawood is the author of Children need Boundaries, Toddlers need Boundaries, Children need Grandparents and Adjusting the Boundaries. For more information from Anne Cawood go to www.boundariesinc.co.za or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
How many of us (pre-kids) stood in a shop and shook our heads at the apparent lack of control ‘some parents’ have over their toddlers. Naughty, rude and badly behaved may have been our natural thoughts. Of course, just as many of us have stood in the same shop with our own toddler, the blood rushing to our heads as he throws himself on the floor, demanding a sweet or screaming for chippies! My, how the tables have turned!
The question is of course, why do toddlers throw tantrums, how can we avoid them and how should we respond.
Understanding toddler tantrums
Toddlers throw tantrums for a few reasons and you need to rule them out:
A hungry or unwell toddler is an irrational piece of work. To avoid meltdowns for this reason: do not let your toddler go more than two to three hours without a meal or snack. Make sure the food he eats is filling with a low GI rating. Foods with high sugar and simple carbs result in sugar lows and bad moods. If your toddler is uncharacteristically grumpy - rule out illness.
Feeling misunderstood. Toddlers generally understand and process more than they can communicate. When they have a thought or need that they feel is not understood by you, they are frustrated and may act out this frustration. When your toddler wants something, get down at his level and take his hand and look him in the eyes and say: “I know you want x. I would love to give it to you BUT we cannot have it now. However, you can have it after supper/ you can choose between y and z”. By making him feel understood and giving him some control back in the form of a choice, he feels important and empowered.
Tired toddlers are tetchy toddlers. Your toddler can only be happily awake and interacting for about 3 to 5 hours. This means that a midday sleep is still essential for toddlers. Make sure your toddler is down for his day sleep by 11 or 12 so that he can be well rested to interact for the afternoon. Evening bedtime for toddlers should be no later than 7pm. Thereafter the wheels are likely to fall off.
Over stimulationis a major and yet frequently under estimated source of tantrums. When too much is going on and your toddler is exposed to too much sensory input, especially when tired or sleep deprived, his brain releases stress chemicals that serve to keep him alert and focused. These stress hormones prepare him for flight, fright or fight. This is the reason your over stimulated toddler will run away from you, scream or kick and bite. These reactions are as a result of sensory over load. To avoid this:
Limit play dates and parties to one hour at a stretch per year of your toddler – i.e. the average 2 year old will manage a 2 hour party before melting down; a three year old may cope well or three hours at a tea party etc.
Do not stimulate a toddler immediately before bed time or nap time.
Watch for those early signals of overload such as looking away or pushing away toys; scratching or touching his nose, face or head; seeking out his comfort object or needing to be held.
Responding to Tantrums
While it is ideal to avoid tantrums by reading your toddler’s signals and seeking to understand the behaviour, even the most in-tune and experienced mom will have to deal with the head banging, leg kicking, ear drum shattering effects of a tantrum from time to time. So, the question is how we should respond.
Respond to underlying state – look for the reason. Work your way through the checklist above: a. Hunger/Illness b. Frustration c. Tiredness d. Overstimulation
Communicate this for your toddler by saying: “You feel tired/ sad (frustrated) / hungry or its all too much (over stimulated)
Give them an out – “You feel hungry so let’s go find you something good to eat” OR “Come my darling, let’s go home, this is all too much.”
If these three steps don’t work (and usually they won’t because once a tantrum has started, it’s hard to stop it). Do the following: a. Walk over to your toddler (who is lying on the floor) b. Step over him c. As you step over him, say: “Right, now you stay there until you are finished” This statement takes all the wind from his sails as he doesn’t want to follow your instructions and so his tantrum has fallen flat. d. Walk away into another room. Or if you are in the shops walk to safe distance so you can see him but he must get up and follow you. e. When the tantrum ends, immediately go over and give him a big cuddle and talk to him about what he can have.
And finally good luck – I have heard that we just master these tantrums in time to manage the next stage of adolescence!!! Oh boy, who said parenting was all fun and games?
By Meg Faure
Expanding your family is exciting and a great cause of joy, but it won’t be without its ups and downs! Here are some tips to prepare your toddler (and yourself) for the new baby.
It is perfectly normal for you to be worried about managing to have enough love for another child, so don’t fall into the trap of over compensating by allowing your toddler to always get his own way.
If your toddler is still quite little (under the age of 4) adopt a low key attitude about the forthcoming arrival – she is still too little to understand the concept of pregnancy. A pre-school child is able to have more understanding.
About three to four months before baby is due, tell her truthfully and directly about the coming birth (she will most likely be asking questions about the size of your tummy by now), but don’t go overboard with too much detail unless she asks.
Assure her that having another baby will not affect how much you love her.
If your toddler is in day care, or you can organise a babysitter, avoid taking her along with you when you go for your ante-natal checkups. You may have to wait for a long period of time before seeing the midwife or doctor, and it is unfair to expect your toddler to be happy and entertained in that environment. Use this time to start bonding alone with your unborn baby.
Invite your toddler to help you shop for and set up the nursery, it will make her feel special and involved.
About two to three weeks before your due date, prepare your toddler for your upcoming absence. If she has never been separated from you, start to leave her with her dad or a sitter for a couple of hours a day, this way she will be used to your absence when the time comes. Dispel any fears and doubts that she may have by discussing the arrangements as clearly as possible ( “Granny is coming to look after you while Mommy is in the hospital”).
If you are planning a home birth, invite your midwife to come round with her equipment and spend some time explaining to your toddler what will happen when she arrives to take care of you.
Keep her away from the hospital while you are there. You may be anxious about not seeing her for a few days, but it is more traumatic for her to have to say goodbye to you after visiting hours. She may not understand why you can’t come home with her, or why she can’t stay with you. Hospitals are also breeding grounds for all sorts of horrible germs, so don’t expose your toddler to them unnecessarily.
Keep her routine and structure at home unchanged. As long as she is happy and content in her home environment, and has adequate emotional support, she should take your absence in her stride.
Get organised – precook meals and stock up your pantry.
Your toddler and the new baby
When you return home with the new baby, present her with a gift from her new sibling. A doll and accessories is always a good idea.
• Your toddler will play up and demand your attention just when you can’t give it, so expect her demands to intensify, especially if you have just sat down to feed the baby! To the best of your ability always attend to her needs first – this will make her feel secure.
Have a pile of storybooks handy and place one of her little chairs alongside your feeding chair, so that she can sit with you and read a story when you feed the baby. This is a good habit to start, and she will start to look forward to this special time.
When visitors arrive to see the new baby, let her show them to the nursery, and allow her to help open the baby’s gift, this way she will feel included.
Avoid saying “don’t touch the baby” too much. She will cotton on that touching the baby gets your attention and will continue to do it. If possible ignore (unless she is feeding the baby a niknak, or holding him upside down!) Never leave her alone with the new baby.
Use every bit of help offered.
Take the phone off the hook when you are resting, or at least invest in a portable phone to keep alongside you.
Limit visitors to a specific time of the day, so that you are not inundated all day. Visitors, while having your best interests at heart can kill you with kindness!
Stick to your toddlers routine scrupulously – it will make the whole family feel more secure.
Expect a regression in your toddler’s behaviour. She may demand a bottle or dummy again, or start wetting her bed. Keep calm, give her what she asks for, and know that it will pass with time.
Try to spend some special time alone with your toddler every day, even if it means quiet time in the garden for twenty minutes.
Look after your relationship with your partner – remember that you are in this together.
Top Tip: When you are still pregnant, put together a little box of age-appropriate wrapped goodies for her (for example a small box of smarties or a toy bottle), and keep this in the baby’s room. When you are busy with the baby and cannot attend to your toddler (such as when you are changing a stinky nappy, or feeding), allow her to go to her ‘special box’ and select a present. The selection and the subsequent unwrapping and exploring will buy you the time you need to finish off your task. This way, she will only associate a positive experience with the fact that you are unable to attend to her immediately.
By Meg Faure
Every well-meaning parent wants to do the best for their baby. We focus heavily on our baby’s milestones and create expectations for ourselves as parents to have the best, brightest baby on the block. One only has to watch the comical extent to which this is taken by the grandfather in the movie ‘Meet the Fockers’, to know that we may just take ourselves too seriously in the pursuit of a brilliant baby!!
Stimulation is important
The reason we have the enormous focus on stimulating our babies is that there is certainly overwhelming evidence that an enriched environment does enhance brain development and babies who are stimulated are more likely to develop to their potential.
How to stimulate your baby
According to Baby Sense, “ You can enhance your baby’s development in all areas by structuring her environment and providing opportunities for constructive, age appropriate play, taking care not to over stimulate her…”. There are a variety of options for stimulating your baby including buying or making specific toys for stimulation, playing activities and ensuring all the senses are stimulated. Almost every baby magazine has ideas for games to play with your baby to stimulate development.
Baby Stimulation Programs
Another choice open to parents are stimulation groups or programs These groups are a wonderful idea for stimulating babies and definitely hold merit for a number of reasons:
Interactions with other moms We cannot underestimate how isolating having a new baby can be. In the early months particularly, we can feel very alone and adrift. Baby groups provide a structured forum to meet other moms. Many a great friendship is struck up over tea at these groups. Furthermore, just when you feel you are the only mom on earth who hasn’t slept in a week or wants to calmly put your baby up for adoption, you will find that many other moms are experiencing the same.
Ideas for stimulation You may think that an hour or two a week of stimulation classes surely has little carry over for enhancing development. Nothing is further from the truth. Not only will your baby benefit from the stimulation but more than that you will come away with some wonderful ideas for stimulation at home.
One on one time with your baby In our busy lives often the only face time we have with our babies is on the changing mat or pushing a trolley around the shops. Baby stimulation classes force us to slow down and spend time with our babies. These precious moments help us bond and also enhance our baby’s emotional development.
Enhancing development Of course the most obvious reason for going to baby stimulation classes is to enhance development. Most franchises have programs specially developed by OT’s, phyios or education specialists. These people know and understand development and how to enhance all areas. Stimulation classes benefit the sensory development of your baby as well as the movement milestones, language, perception and emotional development.
How to choose which class to attend
There are a wide variety of companies and franchises offering stimulation programs. Use these guidelines to help you choose the right group.
Choose a class close to your home – here is no point in spending an hour in the car for an hour class.
Try schedule classes according to your baby’s sleep schedule, choosing a class that falls in your baby’s awake time. A tired baby will not benefit from all the activities and will become irritable during the class.
Make sure your baby is in a class with his age range and don’t be tempted to compare developmental milestones as it puts pressure on you and your baby.
Match the activities and leader to your baby and your enjoyment and don’t be shy to shop around until you’re happy.
Don’t be tempted to over schedule your baby. Attending too many classes is stressful on your time and budget and is not great for your baby either. For babies under a year, just choose one form of stimulation class. After a year of age, up to two programs, such as one swimming and one stimulation is enough.
Stimulation classes are a wonderful way to interact with your baby and enhance development. But always remember that the most important principle is for you and your baby to have fun and to enjoy the interaction with other moms.
By Meg Faure
Why is my baby crying? Does my baby cry too much? What is normal? We know you want the answers to these questions, and here is some more info on “Crying through the ages”, covering crying from newborns to toddlers, talking about the REAL cause of colic and what to do about it and everything from hunger and separation anxiety to teething and temper tantrums.
The newborn baby is typically much calmer and cries less than you would expect. Many parents are surprised that their baby does not scream at birth but rather makes quieter sounds and has a period of relative calm. Your hormones released in the birth process and the natural birth process itself results in a calm alert baby on the day he is born.
Even after the initial 24 hours, the new baby is only really likely to cry when hungry, which once the milk comes in can be as often as two hourly or may be spread out to closer to four hours. It is important in the early days to feed your newborn on cue as this will not only settle him but also encourages your milk supply.
The other time newborns cry is when being changed and bathed. Both changing and bathing result in feeling the cold air and new touch sensations, which can be disconcerting for the new baby.
If a newborn (0-2 week old) cries a lot, it is important to have him checked by a doctor or clinic sister as this is typically a period of relative calm, which we call the honeymoon period. Most babies do not cry extensively during the early days.
2 weeks - 3 Months
At around the two week mark, many babies become unsettled and begin to fuss more than during the honeymoon period. This is completely normal and in fact the ‘crying curve’ is well documented. This curve shows that babies begin to cry seemingly without reason at around 2 weeks old and by 12 weeks old this crying has almost entirely abated. This unexplained early baby crying peaks at about 6 weeks of age.
Traditionally called colic, we now know that in fact this crying has nothing to do with the digestive system and remedies for tummy ailments make as much difference as sugar water. (St. James) Even if your baby tucks his legs up or kicks and screams for an extended period of time, you can rest assured that almost every crying baby of this age is healthy and normal.
Colic is caused by over stimulation. Being alive in our busy sensory world can be overwhelming for many babies and this coupled with too little sleep will result in crying as your baby responds to the sensory input of the world and the little bubbles in his tummy with crying.
The best ways to avert colic is to swaddle your baby and settle to him to sleep after only an hour of awake time. If your little one is very unsettled, do not worry about spoiling him at this age. Under four months of age babies do not have long term memory and so will not be ‘spoilt’ by being rocked or lulled to sleep. Try the baby sense cuddlewrap.
4 - 6 months
The four to six month old is much less susceptible to overstimulation and therefore is more settled. But just as you think you are getting the hang of this parenting thing, you will find your baby become a little less predictable. Instead of remaining settled for a good three to four hours between feeds, many babies of this age begin to fuss and wake more frequently at night too. This relates to their new and growing nutritional needs. At this age you can choose to respond to the increased demand for nutrition with increasing the number and frequency or quantity of milk offered or you may choose to introduce solids. The latest research indicates the introduction of solids is safe and good for babies anytime between 4 and 6 months of age.
Your 4-6 month old may still become crotchety if overtired or over stimulated. Watch your baby’s awake times (Baby Sense 2010)
6 - 12 months
The older baby is a bundle of fun and laughs and will not spend much time crying. There are a few reasons that typically raise their heads:
Illness – many babies get their first colds and illnesses at this age and an irritable baby with a fever is not much fun.
Separation anxiety – as your baby develops object permanence and realizes he is separate from you, he will become increasingly irritable whenever you are out of site. A transition object or security blanket will help him to feel a little more secure.
Nappy change time – all 8 month olds resist having their nappy changed and become very irritable. This is typical and is no reason to be concerned. Simply put the back position for nappy changes is way to passive and our little one will get very irate when placed on his back.
Teething – typically your baby’s first tooth will emerge during this stage and you may have a day or two of irritability.
Your toddler has an opinion and mind of his own and generally this will impact on his mood.
There are three main reasons for crying and tantrums
A toddler may throw an almighty tantrum if he is overtired – we tend to overestimate our toddler’s ability to stay awake and be stimulated. The reality is that toddlers need at least one day sleep and an early bedtime. In addition, toddlers can only socialize for a limited period before becoming over stimulated and crying or throwing a tantrum.
If your toddler feels misunderstood, you will have a tantrum on your hands. Toddlers understand more than you would believe and can process cognitively what they want to say or do. The problem is that it will be some time before your toddler can express himself adequately. When he feels like you do not understand him a tantrum may ensue.
Some toddlers throw tantrums and cry simply to get their way. Again this is normal and is part of developing independence and autonomy.
Finally, it is vital to realize that all babies are different. Some settled little ones cry very little and take each stage in their stride, while a sensitive baby cries for almost no reason and is a challenge for his parents.
By Meg Faure
Toddlerhood is an amazing time. We learn more as babies and toddlers than we do in the rest of our lives. It is therefore very important to introduce good habits to your child early on, ensuring they become lifelong habits.
Hand washing Hand washing is one of the most important ways of controlling the spread of infection and illness. Teach toddlers to wash their hands after toileting, after touching pets and before eating, as well as at other points in the day. Use a liquid or foam soap and show them the correct technique to use.
Tooth Brushing Encourage your toddler to brush her teeth twice each day. Have a funky toothbrush and a pleasant, age appropriate toothpaste to encourage her. Explain why it is important to keep her teeth clean, and make sure they have regular visits to a dentist who likes to work with children.
Toileting When the time is right, your toddler should take to potty training relatively easily. Encourage and reward dry spells, and stay relaxed and flexible about the success she has. Sometimes it is one step forward and then two steps backwards, but stay positive and don’t add pressure to the situation. Teach her how to clean herself properly after toileting. It is often necessary for you to double check, though.
Personal Hygiene Bathing and hair washing are important, but can become a toddler’s worst nightmare. There will be countless times when she will do everything possible to avoid having a bath, especially if she suspects she needs to wash her hair. Make bath time as stress free as possible. Make it a calm play time, with music on in the background or singing together.
Put interesting toys in the bath and change them often to keep it inviting. Some good ideas are cups, balls, plastic bottles, water crayons, and you can even color the water with a few drops of food coloring. A pair of goggles is a must to help with hair washing, and try to get your hands on specially designed jugs that keep the water off her face.
Daily Exercise Encourage your child to be active. Ensure that she gets at least one hour of physical activity each day, preferably something outside and something fun. Bike riding, trampolining, playing with a ball, climbing and running – anything that gets her moving. Set a good example yourself by showing her how enjoyable being active can be. Explain why it is important to keep fit and be active.
What is private? We all love to see little naked baby bums on the beach, but as your toddler gets older it is good to start to teach her what parts of her body are private. When you feel she is ready to learn and understand more about her body, tell her that her private parts are anything that his swimming costume covers. Explain that no one is allowed to touch her private parts. Answer any questions openly and honestly.
Good Manners Teaching good manners to a toddler is easier than you think. Babies as young as six months can sign simple gestures like please and thank you if it is something you do with them regularly. Lead by example, as children learn best by being shown, and praise any good effort at using good manners. Teach them to greet people and to always say good bye.
Teach them to call people by their names and to say please and thank you when appropriate. Turn taking and saying “sorry” are skills that take a little longer to learn, but be consistent and always explain the reasons why they have to say sorry or wait their turn.
Good behavior We have all been out and about and witnessed a chaos-causing toddler in action. Temper tantrums and unwanted behavior tend to happen when we are out with our children because they become tired and overstimulated. Use gentle and flexible discipline at home and be consistent with it when you are out.
If you sense a meltdown coming, remove her from the situation for a few minutes, distract her with something else to do or give her a few minutes of calm play away from everyone else. Never shout at or humiliate your child in public. Always show your child respect and she will respond in the same way.
Cooking Cooking with your child is an activity loaded with educational opportunities, not to mention that it is an essential life skill. Cooking and baking require math, science, language and literacy skills and stimulate every sense. Get your children involved with cooking from an early age and don’t underestimate their ability to help out.
Safety I am often asked by new moms what activities they should be enrolling their babies in. I always say that if you only do one activity, you should make it swimming lessons. This is a skill that could save her life one day. Other important safety skills are sun safety and car safety.
You must insist on your children wearing sun screen and a sun hat. Their skin is so sensitive and can burn easily. In the car you must insist that they are always strapped in. Show your child that you have to wear your seatbelt too, and that you can’t drive until everyone is strapped in safely.
Teaching toddlers good habits can be time consuming and frustrating, but be consistent and in the end it will pay off. A well-behaved, good mannered toddler can be a pleasure to be around and a fascinating companion.
By Antoinette Scalding