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Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

Five Ways to Encourage Children to Help with Chores

Motivating children to help out around the house can be challenging. Here are five ways to encourage them to lend a hand.

  1. Start your child young. Ask your child to help out as soon as she is able to. Making chores a normal part of home life as early as possible can foster helpful behavior.
  2. Keep tasks small. Break up larger tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. For example, instead of asking your child to help clear the table, ask him to bring each plate over to the sink. Remember to keep each task age appropriate.
  3. Establish a routine. Being consistent can help your child adjust to assisting you with household duties. If you make helping out a regular part of your child’s routine, then she is more likely to do his chores without being asked.
  4. Offer praise. Phrases like “good job” and “you’re so helpful” can be excellent motivators. Try saying, “I can never fold the towels as nicely as you do,” which can make your child feel important and needed. This may inspire him to make it his mission to fold the towels.
  5. Make chores fun. Have a contest to see who can dust the shelves the fastest or who can dry more dishes. You could also put on music and dance around while you clean. The key is to make work enjoyable.

Five Ways to Help Your Child Cope with Disappointment

Disappointments happen to everyone, and there is no way to avoid all of them. Here are five ways to help your child cope with disappointment.

  1. Be there, but give him space. Children react to disappointment differently. Depending on Girlwhether your child is extroverted or introverted, he might want a hug and a pat on the back, or he might want to be left alone for a little while. Wait until he comes to you to comfort him.
  2. Turn a negative into a positive. Reframing a setback in a positive light can help to alleviate your child’s disappointment. Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” (Elkhorne, 1967, p. 52). Looking at a mistake or disappointment as a learning experience can benefit your child’s development.
  3. Try to take your child’s mind off it. Suggest an activity that your child enjoys to help cheer her up. You could also suggest going on an outing. If these don’t appeal to her, let her know that the offers are on the table if she changes her mind.
  4. Set a good example. If your child sees you handle disappointment with dignity, he might, too. Taking responsibility when you make mistakes shows your child that you’re okay and that disappointment happens to everybody.
  5. Watch what you say. Try not to downplay your child’s disappointment or say something like, “That’s life.” Instead, ask your child questions about how she’s feeling or about what happened. Offer to talk through it if she wants.


Elkhorne, J. L. (1967, March). Edison: The Fabulous Drone. 73, 46(3), 52.

Ten Little Ways to Say I Love You

Telling your children you love them is one of the best things you can do as a parent, but showing your children you love them is also important. Here are ten ways to show you care.

  1. Write a note to your little one. It can be a simple note that says “I love you,” just something to let your child know you’re thinking about her. Put the note in her lunchbox, under her pillow or in a place where only she will look.Father and Son Hug
  2. Say yes to an unusual request. Did your child request donuts and ice cream for dinner? Does he want to wear his pajamas all day? Relax the rules occasionally.
  3. Keep a record. Recording your child’s early days in a baby book or journal can be a great way to remember all the wonderful little things he does. You can also share this keepsake with him when he’s older.
  4. Listen to her stories. Stop what you’re doing and listen to her recap her day or a recount a game she played with a friend. This simple gesture helps you stay connected with your child.
  5. Ask questions. When your child talks to you, engage her and ask follow-up questions. Creating a dialogue can show her that you’re truly interested in her world and what she has to say.
  6. Share your stories. Your child is just as curious about you as you are about him. Talk to him about what you did for fun when you were his age, or tell him about your first day of school.
  7. Ask her to play her favorite songs. If you’re in the car or at home, ask your child which songs she would like to hear, why she likes that particular type of music or where she first heard the songs. This is a fun, easy way to find out what makes her tick while showing her that you’re interested.
  8. Start a daily tradition. Read a story at bedtime, have an after-school chat or play a game every day to ensure that you two have a special bonding time.
  9. Display her doodles and drawings. Your child pours her heart into every piece of artwork she makes. Hanging up these creations at home or in your office can encourage her creativity while showing your child how important she is to you.
  10. Show him how to do things. If your child wants to know how to bake cookies, teach him. If he asks how to inflate a bike tire, walk him through the process. Your child will remember and cherish those lessons.

Positive Solutions for Discipline

Guest Post
by Patricia Zauflik, M.Ed

Knowing your child’s abilities and limitations is extremely important. Expecting too much or too little can be frustrating for you and your child, so try to keep your expectations realistic! Use logical consequences when disciplining your children. Logical consequences are an alternative to punishment, and they need to be practical and consistently enforced. These consequences help children learn how they are expected to behave. For example, you might remove an item a child throws at a sibling, or if two siblings are fighting, you could send them to separate rooms to play. The children lose the privilege of playing with an item or with each other!

Try to plan ahead and anticipate what your children may do or need in various situations. Plan to set your children up for a successful experience. Hope for the best, but always have a backup plan. Boy

Most children are not born with a built-in ability to make decisions and accept the consequences. Learning to take responsibility for their actions requires lots of support and practice. A good way to help your children develop these skills is to offer limited, reasonable choices throughout the day, such as when your children are dressing, having a bath, eating snacks, watching TV, cleaning up and getting ready for bedtime. For example, you could ask, “Do you want to wear the red shirt or blue shirt to school tomorrow?” or “Do you want one minute or two minutes to finish playing before getting ready for your bath?”

Another strategy is to use first-then statements. A first-then statement tells your children what they need to do before doing something that they want to do. For example, you might say, “First put on your shoes, and then you can go outside,” or “First clean up your toys, and then you can have a snack.”

Redirection can also provide guidance to children and prevent them from misbehaving. By interrupting a challenging behavior and physically or verbally redirecting your child to another activity, you can engage your child in a more appropriate practice. For example, if your child is playing in the sink and splashing water all over the bathroom, you may choose to gently move the child away from the sink and toward the toys in your child’s room, or you could verbally distract the child and provide an alternate activity. For example, you might say, “Let’s go upstairs and read one of your new library books.”

Remember to give your child specific, positive attention for the behaviors you want to see and teach your child what to do!

Tips for Your Baby’s First Days

Your baby’s first days can be quite an adjustment, especially since you might not be getting enough sleep. Remember to do the following:

  • Sleep when your baby sleeps;
  • Keep scheduled activities to a minimum. Settling into a schedule with a new baby takes time;
  • Accept help when it is offered. You can’t do everything yourself, and that’s okay;
  • Leave baby with a trusted family member or friend so you can get a few minutes to yourself;
  • Eat properly and drink lots of water. Taking care of yourself will give you the energy you need to take care of your newborn;
  • Let non-essential household chores wait. Give yourself a little leeway and enjoy your baby’s first days;
  • Set limits with visitors. This may mean insisting that visitors wash their hands before holding your baby or asking anyone who is ill not to visit until he or she feels better. Also, let friends and loved ones know the best times to visit and how much or how little time you have for these visits.

What to Know While Your Baby Grows

Becoming a mother is one of the most amazing experiences you can have. Your child will change you and shape your life in ways that you cannot yet imagine. Here are five important things to remember during your pregnancy.

  1. Do research, but don’t go overboard. Learning about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting is good, but overloading on information might cause undue stress and worry. Know when to say when.
  2. Trust your instincts. Having moments of nervousness or self-doubt while you are pregnant is common and completely normal. Trust your instincts and your doctor.
  3. Ask for or accept help. It’s okay to ask for help. Many people will want to help you. If you want their help, accept it.
  4. Take a first-time parents class. Use this opportunity to ask questions, practice breathing techniques, develop a birth plan, network with other new parents and much more.
  5. Assemble a dream team. When you’re about five months into your pregnancy, start thinking about who you want on your “baby team,” both while you’re pregnant and after you’ve given birth. For example, find a good pediatrician. Consider recommendations from trusted friends and family members, and do your own research, too.

Five Fun Ways to Limit Screen Time for Your Preschooler

Guest Post
by Amber O’Brien, on-site owner of The Goddard School located in Forest Hill, MD

I am an onsite owner of a Goddard School, an education-based franchise preschool, and my faculty and I recently noticed that one of the three-year-old students had become increasingly tired in the morning and started having frequent meltdowns in the classroom. She had also become more difficult to wake after naptime. Communication between the parents and the teachers produced the reasons for the child’s change of behavior. The parents revealed that they had recently started giving an iPad to their daughter at bedtime and were letting her put herself to sleep. We explained the negative effects of too much screen time, especially at night, and encouraged the parents not to hand their child a device at bedtime.

In our increasingly technological world, devices are here to stay. Set boundaries and limits now so Preschool Computerdevices become teaching tools instead of detracting from precious interactions with family members. The introduction of smaller devices creates more opportunities to increase children’s screen time and a greater temptation for tired parents to hand their children a device. In parenting, the easy thing is often not the best thing, and we must always think about the long-term results of our choices.

As a parent of three teenage children, I know firsthand how difficult it is to stop devices from slowly creeping into our home life. My advice is to set boundaries now, because when your children are older and have cell phones, it will become increasingly difficult to monitor how much they use their devices. Habits children learn as preschoolers can pay dividends long into the future. Setting boundaries that you and your spouse both agree on and providing many fun and enriching alternative activities may be the key to a happy home where the children are not overtired and healthy relationships can grow.

You may be thinking to yourself, “I already know that too much screen time is not healthy, but what I need is some practical help. How can I limit my child’s screen time, and what are some fun activities we can do with our preschooler at home?” I believe the answer is balance. At The Goddard School, we provide a variety of interactions for the children so screen time does not distract them from other fun and stimulating activities. Consistency between the home and school is very important, and the expert and professional teachers in our classroom environments can teach us all a lot.

  1. Limit your child to only 15 minutes of screen time.

    Students at The Goddard School receive a limited amount of screen time. The tablets and computers in the classroom are teaching tools and only contain educational apps and games. Since students must take turns in the classroom, the students quickly learn that they cannot use the computer or tablet for more than 15 minutes.I suggest setting your phone timer for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, or a few minutes before it goes off, remind your child that he or she should be finishing the game. Setting a 15-minute limit teaches your child that individuals are in control of electronic devices and not the other way around. Remember that these educational games are great teaching tools, but they should never replace the human interaction of snuggle time at night, and you shouldn’t use them to end a tantrum or to babysit a child.

  2. Make bedtime the most special time of the day.

    Not only was using the tablet depriving the above-mentioned three-year-old of enough sleep at night, but it also deprived her of precious snuggle time and the experience of sharing books with a parent. While educational games are a wonderful supplement for helping your child learn basic skills, they can never replace the joy of sharing a funny or touching book.Studies have recently shown that the blue light on computer screens interferes with the melatonin that helps people drift off to sleep. A sleep-deprived child is not a happy child. According to Charles Czeisler from the Division of Sleep Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Division of Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, Massachusetts, “Children become hyperactive rather than sleepy when they don’t get enough sleep, and have difficulty focusing attention, so sleep deficiency may be mistaken for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).”1

    Ensuring that your child has enough sleep will give him or her a better chance for a more successful day with better behavior. Spend a little extra time at night to ensure that your child receives a warm relaxing bath, a chance to debrief and lots of snuggle time, which may help encourage a happier morning the following day. Make bath time fun with lots of bath toys and foam letters, and make story time special by asking questions and use different voices as you read to your preschooler.

    Don’t allow a TV in your child’s room, and take away all devices before bath and story time. Bedtime should be a time to unwind and slowly prepare for a deep refreshing sleep.

  3. Create an imaginative play area in your home.

    At The Goddard School, the students have so many fun, hands-on activities available that they are excited to start the next activity when their tablet or computer time ends. Look around your child’s classroom and take mental notes. Try to include similar materials and activities in an accessible area of your home to encourage your child’s imaginative play.Collect costumes, clothing and accessories your child can use to play dress-up. Create a play kitchen where your child can imitate you as you prepare dinner. Include clean boxes, containers and utensils from your kitchen. Add an easel and art supplies to a craft area. You could also create areas with a cash register so your child can learn about money, matching sets of cards for playing memory games to increase concentration, coloring books, clay or kinetic sand.

    Provide bins with different types of manipulatives, such as puzzles, LEGO, Lincoln Logs and other building materials. I would often give my children old magazines and child-safe scissors, and then I would watch as they happily cut out pictures and letters while developing their fine motor skills. Just as your child’s teachers put out different centers each day, take out new items and put away other items to pique your child’s interest. The more non-electronic activities you have available, the easier it will be for your child to hand over the tablet or turn off the TV.  If an adult comes down to the child’s level and plays with the child, the chances of a tantrum-free transition increases.

  4. Make meal times meaningful.

    Meal times should be about more than putting nutrients in our bodies. They should also be a time to reconnect with our family members and talk about one another’s days. At The Goddard School, teachers sit at the table with the children and eat with them. The children are encouraged to wait until everyone has their food, and they learn good table manners from watching their teachers.Make sure you read the daily activity report and use this information to ask your child about his or her day. Ask about the book that the teacher read, the fun outdoor activity or the messy process art activity. By asking questions about your child’s day, your child simultaneously learns lifetime lessons about communicating and extends the learning of the school day. Some families have each member describe a high and a low for the day. This enriching exercise helps all the family members learn to listen and share the successes and challenges of their days. I often ask my family, “What was something good that happened today?” I want my children to realize that each day has some good in it.

    At meal times, turn off all TVs, cell phones and other devices and give all of your attention to one another.

  5. Use physical touch and exercise.

    Preschoolers need touch and fun physical interactions with the people who love them. Children, like adults, receive and perceive love partly through physical touch and quality time.For our monthly icebreaker at our last PTO meeting in January, I asked the parents to describe their favorite non-electronic activity to do with their preschoolers. Parents smiled while describing playing hide and go seek and tickle monster with their children. One parent has set up tunnels to create an obstacle course in the basement, and the entire family goes downstairs to run races and play together.

    Children love to dance, so try putting on some dance music and dancing together as a family after dinner every night. Try playing a variety of musical genres as we do at school. The children’s favorites include “Let It Go” from Frozen, the dance song “I Like to Move It” and, of course, the chicken dance and the hokey pokey. A fun game of freeze dance, where everyone freezes when the music stops, teaches concentration and produces lots of giggles and smiles.

    Play classic games, such as duck, duck, goose; ring around the rosy; and London Bridge. All of these games include physical touch and whole body movement, and they provide valuable social interactions.

One of our most important goals as parents is to build healthy, close relationships with our children that will last a lifetime. We want our children to have more memories of reading bedtime stories and playing hide and go seek with us and fewer memories of us texting on our cell phones. Show your child that you are in control of all media and devices, provide alternate activities and choose to set boundaries, especially for meal times and bedtime.


1 Czeisler, C. (May 23, 2013). Perspective: Casting light on sleep deficiency. Nature, 497, S13. doi:10.1038/497S13a

Diving into Dad Duties: Five Tips For New Dads

Fatherhood is a profound, wonderful journey full of moments that you will cherish for a lifetime. Here are five tips for dads who are new to the experience.

  1. Master the art of diapering. Diapering is part of Fatherhood 101. Changing a diaper is a simple Get%20Set%20Girl%20and%20Father_jpgway to help keep your baby happy while bonding with your baby.
  2. Work as a team to handle baby duties. You and your spouse are a team, so try to share all the responsibilities. Make sure to help out when your partner is tired or busy.
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate. When you’re part of a team, communication is key. If you’re going to be late coming home from work, call your partner. If you’re not sure how to handle a baby-related task, ask someone. Opening the lines of communication can work wonders.
  4. Be patient. Fatherhood isn’t an exact science, so remember that becoming the best dad you can be takes time. Enjoy those moments when you’re still figuring things out and remember to laugh.
  5. Take care of yourself. Being a good dad means being there for your child. Make sure you are staying healthy and avoiding unnecessary risks. Exercise, watch your diet and drive carefully.

Playful Parenting: Fun Activities for Newborns

Like all children, babies learn best by having fun. Here are some simple, play-based activities you can do with your infant to help him or her develop motor and learning skills.

  • Encourage tummy time. Tummy time is good exercise and allows your baby to practiceInfant_jpg
    moving. Lie your baby on her stomach and put one or two colorful toys in front of her or around her;
  • Read. Besides being an excellent bonding activity, reading to your newborn also prepares him for reading on his own and introduces him to shapes, letters and colors;
  • Talk to your baby. Simply chatting to your baby about whatever you’re doing keeps her entertained and helps to establish a foundation for language development;
  • Play with toys. Playing with age-appropriate toys helps your newborn exercise his sense of touch. Babies especially enjoy toys with different textures, such as crinkly fabric, satin and velvet.

Five Ways to Stay Happy and Healthy During Your Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a profound experience. It gives you nine months to bond with your baby and grow emotionally. Here are five ways to stay healthy and happy during that time.

  1. Exercise. Take a walk or practice simple yoga poses. Being active causes the body to release endorphins, which can boost your mood and energy levels. Be sure to consult your doctor before engaging in any new activities.
  2. Stock up on sleep. To make sleeping on your side more comfortable, try using a body pillow.
  3. Visit the dentist. Keeping your teeth clean and healthy can help prevent harmful bacteria from entering your bloodstream and decrease the risk of premature labor.
  4. Have small, healthy snacks. While you are eating for two, your body only needs about 300 extra calories a day. This varies from person to person, of course, and you should check with your doctor to find out exactly what you need. That being said, healthy snacks such as fruit, yogurt or whole wheat toast can provide the calorie boost you need. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  5. Relax. Whether you enjoy reading, watching TV or meditating, finding healthy ways to relax is important. Sitting and taking deep breaths can help you unwind.
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