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When your baby cries – Pinpointing the problem

by Maxine
Posted June 21 2011 02:12pm
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When your new baby is crying, sometimes it seems impossible to figure out what she is trying to tell you.

She isn’t wet, she’s just been fed, what could be causing her so much stress? Don’t worry, it’s normal for babies to cry, sometimes for up to two hours a day, and you will soon start to understand your baby’s cues and be better able to determine what those cries means.

Here are some possibilities to consider:

  • Is she hungry or thirsty?
  • Is her diaper soiled?
  • Is she lonely? She might just need some comfort time with one of her parents.
  • Is she too hot or too cold?
  • Is she in pain?
  • Does she have gas?
  • Is she tired?
  • Is she bored?
  • Is she over-stimulated?
  • Is she sick?

Remember, sometimes baby’s cry for no apparent reason at all, but this checklist might help you pinpoint a problem.

Think about your own baby, what reasons have you found for your own baby to cry? What soothing techniques do you use? Leave us a comment below – your suggestion might help another parent who is going through this just like you did!

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Helping your toddler find balance during the holidays

by Maxine
Posted December 17 2010 01:51pm
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The centre of many holiday celebrations is giving and receiving gifts, especially for children. Children fantasize about it, and most hope to receive lots of big, expensive gifts. Parents, for their part, worry that the mid-winter holidays will spoil their children or make them greedy. Most parents will probably have to provide a healthy reality check, providing some guidance for what are more reasonable dreams.

But what about your child's natural desire to receive lots of gifts? Does this promote greed? As long as your family also highlights the true meaning of the holidays, such as giving to others and celebrating cherished rituals together, you do not need to worry too much about your child's materialistic desires.

Here are some ways you can use Comfort, Play & Teach: A Positive Approach to Parenting to set the tone for raising kind and caring children, regardless of how many gifts they ask for or receive.

Comfort

Nurturing close relationships within families and among friends is the core of healthy social and emotional development for young children. Parents can set the tone for the holidays by emphasizing their true meaning – that of giving to others. The very young child, who has been at the receiving end of love, comfort, and attention to his needs from the earliest days, will replicate giving to others naturally and spontaneously. An infant as young as nine months will lovingly offer a parent his pre-chewed food in the spirit of sharing. A toddler as young as eighteen months will either hug or offer up a cherished stuffed toy to comfort another person who is crying. A child's capacity for empathy and concern is developed through the consistent and sensitive responsiveness shown them throughout the early years. When you focus on the "giving" part of the holidays, this teaches children to care for others and to reach out to people who are less fortunate.

  • Take a little time to help your children make their own "gifts." It doesn't have to be fancy. They can make drawings or colour pictures and put them in envelopes to give Grandma, Daddy and other people they care about.
  • Many fire halls and charities collect toys for children whose parents can't afford to buy them. Encourage your preschooler to choose a toy for purchase and let her give it to the charity.
  • When grocery shopping for your family, take time with your child to fill a special bag for the Food Bank, and drop it off together. Toddlers are great at stuffing bags.

Play

It is through the power of play that a child explores and makes discoveries about things and people in his world. Consider how your family's own traditions can be emphasized during the holidays. When children are little, it is a prime time to start family traditions that will last a lifetime. This helps children feel grounded and connected to the people who care for them.

Here are some ways that family values can be celebrated through play:

  • Toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy the activity of decorating a tree. This is an opportunity for them to help make decisions about what ornament goes where and for you to engage them in a conversation about the ornaments. But remember, toddlers enjoy taking things off as much as they like putting them on.
  • If your family participates in special ceremonies such as lighting candles on the Menorah, let your preschooler count out the candles each night and help put them in place.
  • Sing seasonal songs, read seasonal stories and play traditional games as a family.
  • Turn on the outdoor holiday lights with your little one each night.

Nothing is too insignificant to delight a young child. And many times it is the little things that they will remember the most.

Teach

Young children need to learn how to communicate, interact with others, solve problems and express thoughts and feelings. The holiday season presents a wonderful opportunity for children to learn about themselves in the context of family and the community around them. Take this time to model for children how to think about others and to reach out to people who are less fortunate:

  • Be sure to talk about everything you are doing. Toddlers may not understand every word, but your tone will communicate volumes.
  • Talk about the importance of sharing and how it makes people feel when they receive a gift.
  • Take photos of family rituals and make a special holiday album. Use it as a vehicle to discuss with your child what was happening in the photos and what emotions were experienced. Discuss the importance of celebrating cherished rituals together.

Spending time with your children in these ways will help to outweigh the material aspects of the holidays, and your actions will build fond memories and positive values that will stay with them for a lifetime.

 

What does your family do over the holiday season to ensure that your child understands both giving and getting? Leave a comment below and share your story with other parents just like you!

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Helping your preschooler learn to play with others

by Maxine
Posted December 22 2010 05:22pm
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As your young child learns to play with others, she may need your help to learn what behaviour is acceptable. If you see that your child is upset when playing, encourage her to put all her emotions, particularly her frustrations, into words. Try to identify with your child's feelings, but let her know that there are still certain ways that one should behave in such a situation: "You want to play with that puzzle, but Jason has it now. Even though you really, badly want it, you will have to wait."

If there's been a problem with another child, help your child see the other child's point of view, and talk about possible solutions to the problem. "You grabbed Jason's puzzle and now he is very sad. Please give Jason the puzzle back and wait until he is finished." You will need to be a good role model, as your child will be watching you to learn social skills. You will need to avoid reactions like rudeness or impatience. Little children watch adults all the time, and copy our worst as well as our best behaviour.

Making friends works best if you let your child choose when he wants to play and whom he wants to play with. Children don't necessarily become friends with each other just because their parents are friends or relatives. Learning to get along with others takes time, so don't push your child to play with others. 

If your child is having difficulty becoming part of the group or getting along with others, watch him, and see if there are ways you can help him join in. Sit on the sidelines with him and discuss what is happening in the room, where he would like to play and how he could join in to be accepted. Or give your child a toy that will fit in with the group's play, in order to help him join the group.

 

How did you help your child learn to play with others? At what age did they start having an easier time? Leave a comment below and share your story with other parents just like you!

 

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Choosing Toys for Your Baby

by Maxine
Posted August 18 2010 10:00am
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Hitting the toy store when you’re a parent can be an exercise in being overwhelmed. There are rows and rows of shiny, colourful objects and it’s hard to know which ones are worth the price. First-time parents can be especially unsure, as it’s hard to know what their new baby will enjoy and what toys will help with her development.

In order to choose the best toys available, parents need to understand a bit about their child’s development. Our experts have created the following list of skills that a one-month-old has developmentally – these are great things to keep in mind when choosing toys for a newborn. But remember, your baby’s best toy in the first year will will always be you!

Typical Emotional Skills

  • Enjoys/needs a great deal of physical contact and tactile stimulation.
  • Responds positively to comfort and satisfaction.

Typical Fine Motor Skills

  • Stares at colourful objects 8 – 14 inches away.
  • Follows person with eyes while lying on back.
  • Generally keeps hands closed in a fist or slightly open.
  • When fingers are pried open from their usual fist position, baby grasps the handle of a spoon or rattle, but drops it quickly. 

Typical Gross Motor Skills

  • Lifts her head when held against your chest; his head sags, flops forward or backwards when not supported.
  • All arm, leg and hand are usually held in a flex position; when they do move it is with little control.
  • When lying on her back, you will see the tonic neck reflex which is characterized by the head turned to one side; the arm on the side that the head is turned is extended while the other arm is bent upwards.  The leg on the side that the head is turned is extended and the other leg is bent at the knee.  This is similar to the position that a fencer assumes.
  • When on her tummy, she turns her head to clear her nose from bed; may lift head briefly.

Typical Intellectual Skills

  • Cries when hungry or uncomfortable.
  • May make throaty sounds like ‘ooooh’ or ‘aaaah’.
  • Pays close attention to faces of those closest to him.
  • Responds to loud or sudden noises with a sudden start; this is one of the early signs of a developing response system.
  • Focuses on high contrast patterns and faces; prefers these to bright or big objects.

Typical Social Skills

  • Fixes eyes on your face in response to your smile.
  • Moves body in response to your voice during interaction.
  • Quiets down when looking at familiar faces.
  • Engages in eye contact.

Here are some kinds of toys your infant might enjoy.

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