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Avoiding nagging your preschooler

by Maxine
Posted August 8 2011 01:15pm
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Pick up your toys! Eat your dinner! Hang up your coat! Sound familiar?

When you tell your preschooler over and over again to do something, she can become pretty good at tuning you out.

Here are several ways to avoid nagging all the time:

Talk to your child when everyone is calm, about what is expected, what the rules are and develop a schedule for the tasks.

When your child doesn't do what you want, instead of nagging, go to your child, get her attention, ask what she is feeling about the task and why she is hesitant to do it. Then, after you've dealt with your child's reasons, in a calm way make it clear what your child is to do. If your child often refuses to do, or never gets around to doing what you expect, speak to other parents to find out if what you're expecting is reasonable. And ask what they do that works, instead of nagging, that gets things done.

Don't nag to the point where you're yelling and making threats about what will happen if your child doesn't do what she's asked, especially threats you know you won't carry out ("If you don't pick up your coat, you'll have to wear it for a week straight!"). This is usually ineffective. Once you've lost your temper, all that most children think about is how upset you are. Be calm and consistent. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Follow-through is very important.

Do you find it hard to refrain from nagging your preschooler? Do you have your own strategies for reducing how often you nag your child? Share it with other parents by leaving a comment below!

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Coping with and Preventing Night Terrors

by Maxine
Posted September 5 2011 03:10pm
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If your child is thrashing and screaming in the night, but when you go to him he seems awake, but isn’t, he might be experiencing night terrors. These are different and more serious than nightmares.

Night terrors happen when your child is in a deep sleep. His eyes might be open and he may be thrashing around or showing extreme fear, but he is not awake. This can go on for just a few minutes or for up to an hour. He won’t recognize or know who you are while this is happening.

"Night terrors can be really scary for parents," says Karon Foster, a Registered Nurse and Parenting Expert, "when your child is terrified and doesn’t seem to know who you are it can be difficult to know what to do."

Our experts suggest that, while it may be your first instinct, you shouldn’t try to wake your child. He may seem very agitated and upset, but it is better to watch and make sure he is safe and doesn’t fall out of bed.

If he does wake up, comfort and reassure him that everything will be all right and that you’re there and he’s safe. Stay with him until he falls back to sleep. Try rubbing his back or singing softly to comfort him. Often children who have night terrors will fall asleep more quickly afterwards than a child who has had a nightmare. He will probably not even remember having had the night terror.

While nightmares are often caused by emotional stress or by things like scary stories or violent TV, night terrors are thought to have a biological basis – they may even run in families. They can also be caused by a change in sleep routines, overtiredness and fatigue, fever and even certain medications. They are most common between the ages of three and five and most children will outgrow them.

Night terrors usually happen at about the same time each night, a few hours after falling asleep, so some doctors suggest scheduled wakings. Keep track of when the terrors occur to establish the time and then wake your child about 15-30 minutes prior to the usual time when a night terror occurs. Talk to him and try to keep him awake for five minutes or more before letting him go back to sleep. This strategy may need to be continued for about a month. This can help prevent the night terrors. Try to insure that you child is getting enough sleep, and is not becoming fatigued or overtired.

Be sure to talk to your health care provider if your child is having night terrors and especially if your child experiences drooling, jerking or stiffening during the terrors or if they occur more than twice in a week.

Click here for more information on nightmares and night terrors

Did your child experience night terrors? What did you do? Share your experience with other parents by leaving a comment below.

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Two languages at home with your toddler

by Maxine
Posted November 6 2011 11:09pm
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We often hear that children are like “sponges”, and that they can learn any language easily while they are young. This is true, but only when they have lots of exposure to the language. Children can only absorb as much as they are given. This means that for your child to develop his or her ability to use both languages equally well, your child must hear and eventually speak both languages often.

In some communities, this can happen naturally if both languages have equal status and the child is exposed to various people, in the family and beyond, who speak one language or the other (or both). In other cases, raising a bilingual child requires conscious planning and effort. Both parents will need to agree on their strategies for making this happen.

If one of you speaks English and the other parent speaks a minority language, like French in many parts of Canada, or any other language that is not widely used in your community, it is important to create opportunities for the child to be exposed to that language. Children understand from a young age that one of their languages is not used very much outside their home, and because they naturally have more opportunities to hear and speak English, their ability to use the other language may lag. This can lead to a situation where the child understands the other language, but does not speak it.

Here are some tips to help your child be bilingual

Speak your own native language to your child. You are a better model for your child when you use the language you know best.

Develop a social network that includes both languages. Attending friendly gatherings, community events and doing other activities with people who speak each language provide opportunities to practice, and reinforce the message that both languages are useful and valued.

Ensure that your child develops a strong foundation in the minority language from a young age by enrolling him or her, if possible, in a child care or preschool where the minority language is the primary or only language spoken.

Research and create a list of services available in the minority language, and give them a preference (e.g. health professionals like doctors and dentists, as well as libraries, movie theatres, community centres, etc). This may involve planning ahead, or driving a little further, but your efforts will greatly benefit your child.

Make sure you have books, videos/DVDs and music in both languages in your home, and that your child is exposed to them. This reinforces your child’s language skills and strengthens your child’s appreciation of each of your cultures.

Arrange visits to and from family members who speak the minority language. Stays abroad or visits from extended family can give a boost to the language that tends to be neglected.

Depending on the languages you speak and the community where you live, some of these options may not be available. The important thing is to create as much balance as possible between the two languages, and to start doing this as early as possible in your child’s life.

 

Do you speak more than one language in your home? Do you encourage and provide your child with the tools he needs to speak both? Share your experiences below by leaving a comment.

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Encouraging your quiet toddler to speak

by Maxine
Posted January 4 2012 12:41pm
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To help your child to talk more, it's a good idea to talk to her whenever you're together, carrying on a flow of conversation about what you're doing, and about what she is doing. Try to be animated, using gestures and lots of expression in your voice. Emphasize important words and phrases. But you should pause frequently and for what may seem to be a long wait, so your child has a chance to digest what you have said and to respond. It also helps to have lots of books around and to read to your child often.

Try to encourage his talking by asking some open-ended questions (such as "How do you...?" or "What do you think?") or by talking about subjects he is interested in. Sometimes, for very quiet children, a good beginning is to ask him to fill in words in familiar rhymes or stories that they know by heart. Really listen to your child, getting down at his eye level and looking at him when he talks. When playing together, follow your child's lead and talk about what you're playing with.

It may be tough, but try not to get frustrated by what sounds like "baby talk" from your child. And don't correct your child's speech too much. The best thing you can do is set a good example in the way you talk. If you are concerned that your child is behind in language, you may want to call the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists at 1-800-259-8519.

Do you have a quiet child? Do you find it hard to encourage him to speak? Share your experiences with other parents by leaving a comment below.

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