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Growing up to be kind and caring

by Maxine
Posted December 16 2010 08:29pm
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Toddlers don't understand when other people don't feel like they do, or that sometimes they are not the most important people in the world. But does this mean that they won't grow to be kind and caring individuals? No, it does not. 

You may wonder if children will ever be kind and caring when they constantly interrupt your phone conversations or fail to understand that "Mom is too tired" to play with them. You may also be surprised at how cruel young children can be to each other. Toddlers simply don't understand that other people don't feel like they do, or that sometimes they are not the most important people in the world.

Most parents hope their children will learn to be sensitive to others and act with kindness. But caring doesn't happen unless children themselves are treated with sensitivity and kindness, so it helps to be aware of what you can do to encourage empathy.

Empathy develops from infancy when children are treated with kindness and understanding. Empathy is often described as the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes - in other words, to understand how someone else feels and how to respond to them. When children feel valued and loved, they will naturally respond to others that way.

It may not be until school age that your child has the thinking skills needed to learn how to take someone else's point of view, and what to do about it. But by showing your child love and sensitivity from the day he is born, you're setting a good example for learning to be kind and caring.

 

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Helping your toddler overcome his fears

by Maxine
Posted December 17 2010 02:23pm
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When you comfort your frightened child, you are helping him feel safe. This sense of security gives him the courage he needs to eventually face and conquer his fears. It's normal for all youngsters to be afraid of something at one point or another, whether it's thunder, large dogs, bees, the dark or imaginary things such as ugly monsters under the bed. And some children's temperaments make them naturally more fearful than others.

Here are some things to consider when you are comforting your fearful child.

  1. Even if you don't really understand what your child is afraid of, or you don't think it's something that should frighten her, remember that the fear is very real to her, so deal with it seriously. Never belittle the fear as a way of forcing her to overcome it. For example, it won't help matters if you say, "Don't be ridiculous! It's just a clown."
  2. It's important to talk to your child about his fears. Words have a way of taking some of the power out of negative emotions and making them more manageable for young children.
  3. No child should be forced into dealing with something she is afraid of before she is ready. When you feel she can handle it, gently encourage your child to confront a fear by gradually exposing her to what she finds frightening. For example, if your toddler is afraid of the sound the vacuum cleaner makes, let her touch it when it is turned off, or have someone else turn on the vacuum while you hold and comfort her. Gradually, she will become less afraid as her feelings of safety and security increase.
  4. If you show excessive concern when your child is upset, you may unintentionally reinforce your child's fears, giving him the impression that there really is something to be afraid of. Sometimes just providing age-appropriate information in a calm and reassuring tone can be helpful. For example, you might say, "That's a very loud noise, isn't it? It's an ambulance. It must be on its way to help someone."
  5. Prepare your child for things you expect will frighten her. For example, if you're visiting a friend who has a dog, tell your child about the dog before you arrive, reassuring her that the dog is friendly and gentle and really likes children. Give her the opportunity to talk about any concerns she has in advance, and together you can develop a plan to help her cope when she eventually encounters the source of her fear. Maybe you'll both pat the dog together, or she'll offer him a biscuit to show that she's his friend.
  6. Keep reminding your child of the things that he is no longer afraid of. This will help him feel empowered, and he'll realize that it's possible to overcome other fears, too. Learning to deal with fear is an important part of growing up and can greatly increase your child's confidence. Therefore, you play a big role in gently and gradually helping your child confront and overcome his fears. But remember, let him work up to it. And if he gets upset, comfort him, hold him calmly and reassure him that he'll be OK.

 

Is your toddler ever fearful? What strategies do you use to help your child overcome his fears? Leave a comment and share your story with other parents.

 

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Is your child ready for toilet learning?

by Maxine
Posted August 27 2010 02:19pm
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As much as you're looking forward to being through with dirty diapers, you can't rush your child’s learning to use the toilet. Some children may start to be ready for potty training at 18 months others are not ready until they are about two or three years old, they don't have the necessary physical control along with the ability to tell you they need to use the toilet.

Typically, the following signs show your child may be ready for toilet learning:

  • She begins to dislike being in a soiled diaper and indicates she wants to be changed
  • She is able to stay dry for a couple of hours between diaper changes
  • She has regular and predictable bowel movements
  • She shows an interest in the toilet or potty and why it is used
  • She can follow one or two simple instructions
  • She can recognize that her bladder is full or she has the urge to have a bowel movement. She might pull at her pants, hold her genital area, squat or tell you.

But even then, if your child won't use the toilet or is worried, frightened or upset about it, wait and try later.

To begin toilet learning, choose a time with no stress for you and your child. Toilet learning requires an easy-going parent and a relaxed child. Avoid times when your child is dealing with change - like a new baby in the family, a move to a new home, parents’ separating or starting daycare.

 

How did you know when your child was ready? Share your experience by leaving a comment below!

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Temper Tantrums – Why they happen and what you can do

by Maxine
Posted September 5 2011 04:55pm
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Meltdowns happen, especially during the toddler years. Whether it’s an enticing cupcake at the grocery store that she just has to have, a shiny toy or a desire to stay at the playground when you’ve said it’s time to go – small children can turn a simple ‘no’ into a full-blown tantrum in record time. It can be embarrassing and frustrating for parents – who doesn’t want to lose their cool when they have a screaming two-year-old throwing herself on the ground in front of all the parents at the playground? But there are things you can do to help you stay calm and, hopefully, defuse the situation. And, even if your child refuses to be soothed, remember that all those other parents have been there too!

Our experts get a lot of questions about tantrums – it’s a common problem that parents have to cope with. The first thing to understand is what causes the temper tantrums. The experts say that there are three main reasons:

  1. They’re unable to cope with their feelings. These feelings can be anything from hunger, sickness, confusion, helplessness, frustration, anger or even terror. Being physically upset is the main way for a toddler with a limited vocabulary to express feelings. For example, if you refuse to give in to your child and this makes him feel angry, your child may not be able to cope with his angry feelings. He may express his feelings by having a temper tantrum.  
  2. They’ve learned—from past experience—that temper tantrums are rewarded. If your child gets what he wants once as a result of a tantrum, he is more likely to have temper tantrums to force you to his will.
  3. They want attention. This can stem from feelings of being left out, ignored or lonely.

So now you know why your child is hurling herself onto the grass by the slide, but what can you do to make her stop? 

“Be patient,” suggests Karon Foster, a Registered Nurse and Parenting. “When you stay calm and don’t lose your temper you set a good example in the way you handle the tantrum. If you get angry it will just make things worse.”

And Foster suggests that you don’t worry about what other people around you are thinking. Remember that other parents understand and sympathize and that for every person that is critical there are many who have been there themselves. There are no perfect parents, so just deal with the problem at hand and try not to worry about what others are thinking.

Experts suggest that, as hard as it might be at the time, you shouldn’t give into your child during a tantrum. That can be easier said than done when your child is kicking and screaming in public, but when you give in you just reinforce the idea that tantrums are an effective way to get what she wants. Giving in ups the chances that you’ll be dealing with a lot more tantrums.

Try to soothe your child when she’s having a tantrum. Sometimes it doesn’t work, because she’s too worked up, but it helps to try. Take her to a calm, safe place and let her cry it out. Stay close.

When she’s ready, hold her and offer reassuring comments. Help her talk about what happened, how she felt and why she was angry. It may seem difficult, but discussing the situation can help your child understand and give her the words to deal with her feelings in the future.

If you find that tantrums are happening more and more, or that your child is really having trouble settling down, discuss this with your child's physician.

Did your child have tantrums? Does he still? How do you cope? Share your story with other parents just like you by leaving a comment below!

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