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Archive for the ‘Toddlers’ Category

Keeping Sibling Peace

I need a strategy for curbing sibling rivalry. How can I keep the school-age boy from playing too rough with his baby/toddler brother? The refrain of “Stop X. Don’t Y. Keep your hands to yourself, etc.” doesn’t work and makes the older sibling feel like he’s always scolded while the baby “never gets in trouble.”

How old should the little one be before I can let them duke it out themselves without my intervening so much?

Parents can’t quell sibling rivalry, but they can avoid making it worse. The firstborn child has parents to himself until the second comes along. Then he must give you up every time his sibling needs you. He must look on as you admire his baby brother, and he wonders when it will ever be his turn again or if you still admire him at all. As soon as the younger brother is old enough to scoot and crawl, the older one will have to fend him off when he comes to snatch one of his toys or knock down the block tower he has worked hard to balance. Moreover, the older one must please you when you beseech him to be a “good big brother,” which often means giving up his special place in the family as firstborn.

From birth, the second child has never known another position. He is grateful for whatever parental attention he gets, and as the baby of the family, he’ll get plenty. But soon he starts wishing he could do all the things his brother can. He falls apart whenever he fails to imitate him. Parents rush to scoop him up and coddle him – to his older brother’s disgust. Over time, if parents stay out of their struggles, the older child will learn to take pleasure in the younger one’s admiration, and enjoy his role in helping him learn.

To avoid reinforcing sibling rivalry, the first step is to accept that it is not a parent’s job to keep siblings from fighting. If you try, you’re likely to intensify the conflict by putting yourself in mid-battle. Every time you tell the older one, “No,” “Don’t,” “Stop,” he is likely to feel even more resentful of his younger brother. He knows you are mad at him. It’s easy to see how in his mind your temporary loss of affection for him is the little one’s fault – all the more reason to torture him again.

An infant must not be left with an older sibling unsupervised. But I’ve never seen one sibling seriously injure another when parents leave it to the children to sort out their differences on their own. When the youngest can fend for himself, make it clear you expect them both to straighten things out themselves.

Don’t bother trying to figure out “who started it.” Most of the time, you’ll never know, and engaging in this inquiry just heightens their competition to be your favorite. Instead, let them know that you don’t care who’s to blame. Tell them that you hold them both responsible for stopping their squabbling. And if you can manage it, give each of them regular separate times just to play with you.

Article taken from NAEYC.  (For more information: “Understanding Sibling Rivalry: The Brazelton Way,” by T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., and Joshua Sparrow, M.D. Da Capo Press.)


For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page

A Family Shadow Walk

Now that the weather is warmer and the days are longer, family walks are a wonderful activity for everyone! Below are some ideas from NAEYC on incorporating Science into your family walks!

Family walks, no matter where (around the block, in a park, at the beach), provide wonderful opportunities to explore the mysteries of light and shadows. Your child can learn a lot—like how to make shadows bigger and smaller and how shadows move. Enjoy the walk and the fun of observing shadows and how they change as you move about outdoors.

  • Notice the shadows of the things around you—cars, a dog or cat, a bird flying from tree to tree.
  • Observe the way your shadows “walk” along with you, and play with the shadows!
  • Make different types of shadows by moving your arms or legs or jumping about.
  • Use chalk to outline your shadow and your child’s shadow. Come back later in the day to check on your shadows. In what ways are they the same or different?
  • Measure the lengths of your shadows using pieces of yarn or string or with a tape measure. Measure the shadows of other objects too, like a parked car, trees, the mailbox, or anything else that casts a shadow. Ask questions or make comments that help your child think:
    • I wonder what will happen to your shadow if you step forward or back?
    • What might happen if we stand close together?
    • Where is the sun in the sky right now? (Ask this at several times of the day.)
    • What happens to shadows on a cloudy day?
  • Explore, observe, and enjoy doing and learning about science together!


Article taken from families.naeyc.org

For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page.

10 Tips: Keeping Children Safe in Cold Weather


When temperatures drop, children need extra attention to stay warm, safe and healthy. Young children are less likely to recognize when they are cold and more likely to lose body heat quickly due to their smaller size. Here are some tips to protect children when the thermometer dips:
  1. Think layers. Put several layers of clothing on your child and make sure their head, neck and hands are covered. Dress babies and young children in one more layer than an adult would wear.
  2. Beware clothing hazards. Scarves and hood strings can strangle smaller children so use other clothing to keep them warm.
  3. Check in on warmth. Tell children to come inside if they get wet or if they’re cold. Then keep watching them and checking in. They may prefer to continue playing outside even if they are wet or cold.
  4. Use sunscreen. Children and adults can still get sunburn in the winter. Sun can reflect off the snow, so apply sunscreen.
  5. Install alarms. More household fires happen during the winter so make sure you have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home.
  6. Get equipped. Children should always wear helmets when snowboarding, skiing, sledding or playing ice hockey. Any sports equipment should be professionally fitted.
  7. Teach technique. It takes time to master fun winter activities like sledding, so make sure children know how to do the activity safely.
  8. Prevent nosebleeds. If your child suffers from minor winter nosebleeds, use a cold air humidifier in their room. Saline nose drops can help keep their nose moist.
  9. Keep them hydrated. In drier winter air kids lose more water through their breath. Keep them drinking and try giving them warm drinks and soup for extra appeal.
  10.  Watch for danger signs. Signs of frostbite are pale, grey or blistered skin on the fingers, ears, nose, and toes. If you think your child has frostbite bring the child indoors and put the affected area in warm (not hot) water. Signs of hypothermia are shivering, slurred speech, and unusual clumsiness. If you think your child has hypothermia call 9-1-1 immediately.

Sources: Save the Children, American Academy of Pediatrics, University of Michigan Health System

For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page.

Developing Healthy Relationships between Your Parents and Your Children

Love and time…need we say more?  How about wise historian, mentor, confidant, elder, counselor, spiritual guide, financier, playmate or parental antidote?  These are all roles that grandparents play in the lives of their grandchildren.  And grandparents are a growing force!  The number and percentage of the population that grandparents account for has grown dramatically in the last 15 years – from 58 million to 78 million.


Here are a few ways that you can help foster a healthy relationship between your parents and your children:


  • When planning a visit, talk about how you can help and what you should bring to help things go smoothly.  Discuss recent routines and help your parents childproof their house – more to keep your child safe than to protect the crystal. This communication
    provokes less defensiveness in grandparents, and helps them be a part of the solution from the start.
  • Relax some rules, but don’t compromise your core values. For instance, sweets seem to be a generational prerogative, but television monitoring should continue according to your child’s habits and your beliefs.
  • Children and grandparents are so close because they share something in common – you!  They can share stories, secrets, etc. that allow children the experience of close relationships with a loving family member who is not wholly responsible for their future happiness, homework or well being.
  • Spoiling is not a helpful approach to grandparenting and most of them know it.  Positive expectant attention is best.  Interestingly, today’s grandparents are so busy, I think this is less of a problem these days.
  • Enjoy the relationship your children are developing with your parents.


When misunderstandings or problems occur (and they are bound to), it’s better to figure out a way to talk about them than to avoid each other. That is too steep a price for your children. We all want this relationship to work because the benefits are forever.

by Kyle D. Pruett, M.D

For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page.

10 Tips for Raising a Compassionate Toddler

Recent research shows that infants and toddlers are far more empathetic than we once thought.  While they have short fuses, and don’t cope well with sharing, they are capable of being compassionate.  With this in mind, here are ten tips I use in the classroom to help infants and toddlers become pro-social that families can also try at home.

  1.  Be respectful, patient, and loving to your infants and toddlers and everyone else. Infants imitate what they see.  Model saying “please” and “thank you”, touching gently, using your words, using a calm voice, cleaning up your messes, helping others, and sharing your things:

“Thank you for the Cheerio, would you like some of my raisins?”

  1.  Media is powerful!  Read books about feelings with positive social interactions and discuss them.  If your child watches television, watch too, and talk about the situations and emotions that happen in the shows, especially if the actions are antisocial.

“Caillou said that Philip could not use his ball – how did that make Philip feel?  Do you think taking turns might make Philip feel better?” 

  1.  When things are upsetting your toddler, you can engage your inner child.  Doll or puppet play can help your child explore feelings and perspectives.

Puppet, “I don’t want to take a bath!”  You to puppet, “You sound mad – you don’t like baths!  I wonder what things could make bath-time fun?”

  1.  When people are upset, model compassion – talk about the problem and offer help.

“That boy fell off the climber, let’s go see if he’s ok!  His daddy picked him up and the boy stopped crying.  Let’s see if they need a Band-aid…”

  1.  Model touching gently on pets and guide toddlers who are rough to touch everyone gently, leave toys in others’ hands and to walk around people rather than pushing.

“Stop!  The puppy is crying because you pulled his fur – touch him like this, that’s gentle.  Let me show you how.  Yes!  That’s gentle! He likes that better”

  1.  Point out when harm has been done and suggest ways to make things better.  Point out the facial cues that let you know what is happening.

“You were mad, but when you bit him, it hurt.  He’s sad.  See his tears?  Let’s help him get some ice.  Next time if he grabs your toy, say, “That’s mine.””

  1.  When conflict breaks out, stay calm and support your child’s feelings. Offer solutions and stay close.  It helps to use the same solutions each time, for example, if the conflict involves one child grabbing another child’s toy, get close and hold the toy in question, state the problem, comment on the children’s emotions, offer solutions, find one that is mutually acceptable, and restate the solution.
  2.  Point out kindness to others, “He liked it when you gave him the flower, see his smile?”  That was kind of him to hand you the ball.” Point out social mistakes,“He just pushed you out of the way.  I think he doesn’t have the words yet to tell you that he wants to play over by the balls.  He should have walked around you.” Point out your own mistakes, too, “I made a mistake, I bumped her with your stroller – I’m sorry!”
  3. Involve your child in home tasks like cooking and re-gifting.   Talk about the teamwork involved in helping the house run smoothly or the way others will feel when they get the gift.

“This salad will taste so good, thank you for tearing up the lettuce!” “I bet the new baby will like that bunny – it’s so nice of you to give away the toys you are too big to use.”

  1. Stay close and guide your child as she navigates the complex world of feelings. Babies and toddlers will have strong feelings, make mistakes, feel possessive, seek autonomy, and struggle to control their impulses. Expect them to try and to make mistakes.  Respect that all people may need time to get calm and composed before they are willing to talk about upsetting things.

“You got so mad you threw the cup.  Next time you can hand it to me.”

Keep in mind that not everyone learns social skills at the same pace.  The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations of Early Learning suggests that when a child can’t dance, swim, etc. we teach them, but when a child can’t behave, we punish.  Committing to teaching social skills to children that don’t “get it,” creates a better community for everyone.

By: Julia Luckenbill

For more information on this topic see: http://www.naeyc.org/yc/files/yc/file/201407/YC0714_Rocking_and_Rolling.pdf

For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page.

Car Seat Safety

Several questions can arise for parents as they consider  car seats and their child(ren):

“How do I choose the right car seat?”

“When do I know it’s time to change car seats?”

“When can my child start sitting front facing?”

“How do I know if I have installed it correctly?”

“How long does my child even need a car seat?”

I looked to the NHTSA website for some answers.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, you should select a car seat based on your child’s age and size. The car seat you choose will give you the specifications for what age/size require a new car seat. The manufacturer will also guide you as to when you can turn your child to face the front. Children need to remain rear facing until they have outgrown the rear facing car seat.

Any local law enforcement officer will gladly help you determine if your child’s car seat is installed properly. Stop by any police station and ask or perhaps a local preschool will have a car seat check day like we did at The Goddard School Franklin (Cool Springs).

Once your child outgrows the forward facing seat with a harness, it is time for a booster seat. Deciding when your child can stop using a booster seat can be a tough call! Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Children should still remain in the back seat until at least age 12.

Click Car Seat Safety to see a quick reference for ages and car seat recommendations.

More safety tips when it comes to car seats and children:

-Never leave a child unattended in a car.

-Never let your child sleep in their car seat. To lower the risk of SIDS children should always be transferred to a crib for sleeping.

-Create a plan to always check your child’s car seat before leaving your vehicle.

For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page.

Age Appropriate Fitness

Focusing your child’s physical fitness on fun activities will increase your child’s ability to move with confidence and competence.  Exercise increases overall metabolism, builds a healthy heart and lungs, strong bones and muscles, and improves coordination, balance, posture and flexibility.


Encourage babies to explore activities that allow for reaching, rolling, sitting, crawling, pulling themselves up and walking.  ‘Tummy Time’ is the perfect opportunity for babies to practice lifting their heads and develop strong muscles.  Placing toys just out of reach encourages babies to reach for the toys, assisting in physical development.

First Steps/Toddler

Support young toddlers mastery of walking by allowing them to be active!  Play with them as they learn to run, hop, dance and throw.  Have them chase bubbles or invent a silly walk – play becomes exercise.  Remember to always provide encouragement to toddlers as they build self-confidence.

Preschool +

Preschoolers need plenty of time and space to run around and play.  Taking your child to a playground or park is a great way to release energy and exercise!  Encourage creative dancing and riding scooters and tricycles.  Play ‘Statues’ by playing up-tempo music.  Have your child move while the music is playing and freeze into a statue when you pause it.  Play outside with your child and teach hand-eye coordination by showing the basics of throwing, catching and kicking a large, soft ball.

For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page.

Busting the Binky Habit

You may cringe when you think about ending your child’s “binky” or pacifier-sucking habit. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), “sucking is one of an infant’s natural reflexes. They begin to suck on their thumbs or other fingers while they are in the womb… Placing a thumb or another finger [or an object] in the mouth provides some children with a sense of security during difficult periods, such as when they are separated from their parents, surrounded by strangers or in an unfamiliar environment.”

However, as the ADA and most pediatricians in the U.S. will also point out, a prolonged sucking habit may cause problems with healthy growth of the mouth and roof of the mouth, as well as alignment of teeth. For these reasons, as well as the obvious social ones as your child gets older, it’s best to try to break the habit as early as possible. Most pediatricians will encourage stopping by age two, and many children will break the habit on their own between the ages of two and four.

To discourage your child’s habit, consider the following tips:

• Start by letting your child know that a binky is only to be used at bedtime and naptime. Give your child the responsibility of making sure that the binky is stored on her pillow or nightstand each time she wakes up.

• Peer pressure may encourage preschool-age children to break the habit at naptime while at school. Use this opportunity to encourage the elimination of a binky during naptime on weekends.

• Don’t put too much pressure on your child to pass up the binky. This may cause anxiety and can actually make it more difficult for your child to kick the habit. But, DO encourage every positive step in the process.

• Consider that sucking may occur when your child is feeling insecure. Comfort your child, address the stressor and try to resolve or redirect. Reward her when she avoids sucking during stressful situations.

• Ask your child’s dentist to talk with her while at six-month checkups. Believe it or not, for older toddlers and preschoolers, sometimes this is all it takes!

• When all else fails, you may want to consider the “Binky-Fairy”! Cuddle up with your child during a comfy, quiet, low-key time and break out your most creative skills to tell your child a story of the Binky-, Button- or Pacie-Fairy who collects pacifiers from children who are ready to be “big-girls” and “big-boys.” Let your child know that when she is ready, she can pack up her pacifiers to trade to the Fairy for a very special reward. Mention the Fairy on a regular basis—keep it fun, positive and low-pressure—and most importantly, let the decision about when she is ready be hers to make. You may be surprised how quickly your child is ready to make the trade!

For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page.