Having a new baby fit into the family when you already have an older child - or children - is quite an adjustment for everyone. A young child, in particular, can feel rejected because you need to spend so much time with the baby. Toddlers may react in some harsh ways, like wanting you to send the baby back to the hospital, or inadvertently hurting the newborn. Or they may temporarily act younger, by having toilet accidents or demanding to eat like the baby, to get your attention.
With children who are five or older, jealousy can show itself subtly, like cuddling too hard or blaming the baby for accidents. But they may not get too upset at the birth of a new baby. Often they start to act like a big brother or sister. Your child may feel quite possessive about the baby, and want to help change or feed her new sibling.
It's important to let your child know you understand that he doesn't always feel loving toward the new baby. Let your child say he is sad or angry, help him be a helpful older sibling. Read stories about families with new babies and talk together about how the older child felt in the story. Make some time for just yourself and your older child every day; even ten uninterrupted minutes will make a difference.
Be aware that jealousy may also appear when your baby moves to a new stage. For example, your older child may be quite generous with the new baby until your baby learns to walk. Now that your baby is walking, she can interrupt your older child's play, discover his toys, break or scatter them and take over his friends. As your baby learns to talk, she becomes able to challenge your older child. This will trigger jealousy, where previously it was not a problem.
How did your preschooler react to the new baby? Was there jealousy? How did you cope? Leave a comment below and share your story with other parents just like you!
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A long car ride can be stressful but it is also a wonderful opportunity for parents and children to enjoy each other's company. Capitalize on this time to laugh and play games. This will not only make a tedious journey more entertaining but you will also get a better understanding of how your child is thinking and what is important to her.
When you let your child take the lead in suggesting or inventing her own play activities you are sending an important message. Following rather than always directing tells her that you like and respect her ideas. This will encourage her to continue thinking and making more decisions. Here are some ideas for interactive play for you and your child during the drive:
- Guessing games – these games encourage young children to observe and think about how objects function in their environment as well as give practice in language. You start off the game but then let your child take the lead so that you have to guess what's in her mind. Some examples include:
- "I Spy with My Little Eye – something that is blue"
- "I'm thinking of something that starts with the letter 'A' "
- "I'm a spoon – what am I used for?"
- Storytelling – listening to a story without a picture book takes a lot of concentration and imagination. Create your own story together by starting off with "Once upon a time there was a girl who…." Invite your child to add a sentence to the story. Respond with a new sentence and keep this pattern going until your child has had enough of story creating.
- Creating silly rhymes – use the "phonic families" to devise funny sentences, e.g. the cat sat on a hat looking for a bat; the goat put on his coat and swam to the boat which wouldn't float.
- Counting – understanding the concepts of numbers takes a lot of concrete practice. Ask how many cars of a particular colour can she count? Let her choose the colour and help her when she gets lost with the sequence of numbers; ask your child what else she would like to count as she is looking out the window.
- Reading signs – point out common signs that your preschooler may be aware of and beginning to recognize such as "Stop" or "Exit"
- Singing songs – encourage your child to pick her favourite tunes and sing together. Also, bring favourite tapes to listen to in the car.
- Talking – seize this opportunity to have a conversation about things that you don't always have time for, e.g. who she likes to play with at school/child care; what is her favourite thing to do during the day at school/child care; what was something funny that happened this week? The topics are endless and allow your child to give you a glimpse into her life.
What do you do on long trips with your child? Are there games that we haven’t mentioned that your child likes to play while travelling? Share your stories below!
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Research shows that educational computer games can help your child learn certain skills, like recognizing the letters of the alphabet or learning to read aloud. But finding high-quality educational software can be tricky.
New games are coming out all the time and there are no universal standards to ensure quality. Many of these games can help encourage your child's reading or language development. But not all of them will provide your child with the educational benefits they claim.
A good place to start when you're looking for appropriate games is a store that sells high-quality educational supplies. To find a store near you, ask a local teacher. Librarians, especially school librarians, can also help guide you in the right direction. They may even be able to provide you with a list of recommended titles.
Here are some tips to help you and your child make the most of educational computer games:
- Many software packages allow you to set the game's level of difficulty. You can get a sense of what level your child is ready for if you play the game together the first few times.
- Encourage your child to work through the game at his own pace.
- Be there to help your child with some of the game's more challenging features and give her encouragement when needed.
- Be available to help your child navigate through the game and answer any questions he may have.
Remember, it's important to be aware of what your child is doing on the computer. It's also a good idea to set time limits on game-playing (10 to 30 minutes at a time) so your child gets the chance to enjoy a variety of other fun and educational activities as well.
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For many parents one of the biggest challenges can be finding a babysitter who they like and feel comfortable leaving their child with. Often grandparents or other family become the go-to option when mom and dad need a break or have to attend a function, but when your parents aren’t available there are things you can take into consideration for finding the sitter who’s right for your family.
"First time parents especially have trouble figuring out where to go for a babysitter,” says Karon Foster, a Registered Nurse and Parenting Expert. “It can seem really daunting to leave your preschooler with someone other than you or your family."
Here are some ideas for places you can start when looking for a sitter:
- Other parents: Ask other parents. Some will give out their sitters' names, but others will not.
- Neighbours: Ask your neighbours if they know of any babysitters in the area where you live.
- Babysitting co-operatives: In some areas, there may be organized babysitting co-ops. These are groups of parents who take turns babysitting for each other. As part of the co-op, you have access to other parents who can baby-sit for you and, in return, you baby-sit for them when they need a sitter.
- Religious organizations: If you belong to a religious organization, you may find that there are babysitters among the congregation.
- Local high schools, colleges and universities: Another option is to approach your local high school, community college or university. These organizations may have students who are looking for babysitting jobs to earn some extra money.
- Senior citizen organizations: Some lively seniors like the exposure to young children.
- Early childhood educators or nursery school teachers: These individuals may know of teachers or early childhood educators who also baby-sit during the evenings or on weekends.
- Babysitting services, au pair or nanny agencies: If you are not comfortable leaving your baby with a teenager or college student, consider approaching an agency that offers the services of nannies, caregivers or au pairs. An au pair is usually a young foreign person who provides assistance with childcare and household tasks for a family, in exchange for room and board. These options may be more expensive than a babysitter. As well, you may have to pay a transportation fee for the sitter to travel to and from your home. A quick web search can help you find agencies in your area.
Once you have found some options for a babysitter, you have to begin the process of choosing the right one for your family. This usually involves two steps:
- First, interview your candidates.
- Second, have the candidates you select come to your home to meet you and your child. Do this in advance of the first time you plan to leave your child alone with them.
You might want to merge these two steps into one, but you definitely don’t want to go away and leave your youngster alone with a relative stranger the first time they meet. Your child needs your help to learn about this new caregiver first. Once you feel comfortable with the new sitter you can leave them alone together.
Below are some tips to help you get through the interview and first visit.
Always interview any babysitter before you hire this person to care for your child. Even if you are using an agency that has already done a screening interview, you’ll want to do your own interview so you can judge how comfortable you’ll feel leaving your preschooler with this person.
Key areas to ask about during the interview include the following:
- Experience: How much babysitting experience does this person have? Has she babysat children of different age groups? Has she babysat a child the same age as yours? How would she keep your preschooler safe from injuries? What would she do in an emergency, such as a fire or if your child became ill?
- Training: Has he taken a recognized babysitting course? These courses may be offered by community organizations, schools, etc. Does the babysitter have a certificate to indicate he has completed the course? Has he taken a first aid course that includes infant/child CPR? Does he have a certificate to show that he’s completed this course?
- Fees: What does she charge per hour? Do her rates vary depending on the age and number of children? Does she require cab fare or a ride to/from home?
- References: Have your interviewing sitter provide a list of references that you can call. These references should include parents that he’s already babysat for in the past. If you want to hire a babysitter with no previous references, start out by leaving your babysitter and child together for very short periods of time, and then gradually increase the length of time you are away, until you feel very confident this person will do a good job.
The 1st Visit
Even if your chosen babysitter is a family member, it’s a good idea to have that person come to your home, at a time when the three of you can just concentrate on getting to know each other.
When the babysitter comes to your home the first time:
- Time it so your preschooler will be awake and in a good mood.
- Introduce your child and your babysitter to each other.
- Take your babysitter on a tour of your home -- show her the nightlights; telephones; first aid supplies etc;
- Have some treats available, and encourage your babysitter to help feed your child.
- Read a book to your child, demonstrating the way you go about it.
- Review any specific rules you have about safety, having visitors while you are out, or activities that your child is not allowed to do.
- Use your imagination, and think of ways to pave the way to a good relationship between these two.
Your preschooler’s reaction to the sitter: For your child’s comfort, you want a sitter that your little one feels comfortable around. Does the sitter respond to your child’s sensitivity and needs? How does your preschooler respond to this sitter?
Your reaction to the sitter: How do you feel about the babysitter? Do you relate well and feel comfortable? Can you communicate easily?
It's helpful to have all of your favourite babysitters' names stored somewhere so you can quickly contact one of them, should the need arise. Fill out your own Babysitter List and keep it near your phone.
How hard was it to find a good babysitter? What advice would you give to other parents? Leave a comment below and share your story with other parents just like you!
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