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Archive for February, 2012

Why Toddlerhood is So Tough on Co-parenting and What to Do about It

Dr. Kyle Pruett AMost couples survive the first 18 months of their children’s lives by tag-teaming through the intense physical labor and sleep disruptions of childcare, and putting their needs as a married couple on hold. Then, the child’s language skills and mobility arrive, and the parents are taken by surprise. A healthy toddler is full of emotion and curiosity, especially about him- or herself. The toddler’s appetite for autonomy causes parents uncertainty about what their growing child now feels and needs. That uncertainty, mixed with the new intensity of toddlerhood, can make life feel out of control in unexpected ways. This takes a toll on co-parenting couples in particular because mothers and fathers rarely see this phase the same way. Mothers tend to take the ‘goway-goway’ arguments that toddlers tend to relish as personal insults, whereas Dads tend to see the new feistiness as a sign of growing self-esteem, not an affront to authority. Needless to say, these are not exactly ‘same page’ perspectives, but they are so common that it’s important for couples to respect and understand them both as variations of normal – not right vs. wrong. Here is some advice on where to begin to prevent conflict:

  1. Tip the odds in your favor by child-proofing the house. While it is your life and space, it’s better to be prepared.
  1. Give him or her noisy (real) toys or objects like pots and pans in a place where he or she is safe, so that he or she can explore chaos/noise/physical power/aggression in healthy doses.
  1. Divide up your time with him or her so that you each get breaks. One-on-one parenting makes more sense in toddlerhood than in infancy or older stages because a toddler’s intensity can provoke conflict between parents very quickly. For example, when he or she is outside and suddenly doffs his or her clothes, should one laugh, discipline or both? Parents should avoid yelling at each other about what the other parent should do.
  1. Keeping the toddler safe is the first rule. Discuss your positive or negative reactions to the toddler’s behavior with each other later. Your toddler probably is not interested in or receptive to such perceptions, although he or she will be sooner than you think.
  1. Prearrange a signal for those moments when you are approaching meltdown and need urgent assistance from your partner – a tag-team ‘change’ sign. Fresh horses make the trip ‘back home’ a lot safer for everyone.

Finally, another challenge in co-parenting a toddler is worth acknowledging: the other partner’s perceived ‘lack of consistency’ in dealing with the toddler’s provocative behavior. When disciplining a child, one parent may unintentionally undermine the other, causing the other parent to feel angry or withdraw emotionally. To avoid this dead end, support your partner first and discuss your feelings later. Keep the conversation light and start with the personal pronoun “I” instead of “You.” Remember that you’re both in this together.

For more advice, see the Co-parenting Preventive Maintenance quiz (p. 44) in Partnership Parenting, my book with my wife, Marsha Kline Pruett.

Toilet Training Tips

Family - Father DaughterOnce your child shows behaviors of potty training and your child follows general instructions willingly, he/she is ready to learn and follow new instructions, like those for potty training.

Behaviors of Potty Training

  • Shows an interest in the bathroom
  • Can pull down and pull up his/her pants
  • Can walk over to and sit down on the toilet by themselves
  • Knows what “wet” and “dry” mean

It is important for your child to understand you are starting something new. Signal this big transition to your child by switching from diapers to training pants.  Give enthusiastic approval when instruction is followed: hugs, kisses and verbal praise.  Remember; never try to potty train a child during a time of stress, such as when your family is moving, going on vacation or when the child is sick. If it doesn’t seem to be working, take a break and try again in a few weeks or months. It will happen; just give it time.

10 Tips for Raising a Book Lover

Reading - Teacher & Girl A

1.  Provide a wide selection of age-appropriate books. Don’t limit books to your child’s play space. Consider making some available in their bedroom, on the lower shelf of a “grown-up” book shelf, on the coffee table, etc. Be sure to place the books within their reach.

2.  Be sure your child has a cozy reading spot. Consider making an area in the family room or playroom with a comfy cushion or child-sized chair, stuffed animals and a big basket of books to choose from!

3. Consider serving snacks or meals that relate to the stories your child enjoys. Add just a drop or two of green food coloring into scrambled eggs and you could serve green eggs and ham for breakfast!

4.  Read to your child at every stage. Some parents begin reading to their child before they are even born!

5.  It’s never too late to start a reading routine with your child. Set a goal of reading at least one book per day with your child–even on the busiest of days!

6.  Include a bedtime story as part of your everyday routine. But…

7.  Don’t limit reading to bedtime. Cuddle up and enjoy giggling with your child over a funny book.

8.  If your child has a tough time sitting still for story time, encourage her to color or manipulate play dough while you read the story.

9.  Point to the words as you read. This helps children start to associate sounds with letters.

10.  Ask your child questions as you read. “How do you think that made her feel?” “What color do you think he will choose?” Be sure to also answer your child’s questions as you go along.

Goddard Systems, Inc., Franchisor of The Goddard School, Earns Middle States Corporate Accreditation

Nation’s No. 1 Childcare Franchise Earns Acknowledgment of High Quality Educational Programs

Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the nation’s No. 1 childcare franchise, received Middle States Corporate Accreditation in recognition of its high quality early childhood educational programs. The Middle States Commission on Elementary Schools of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools is one of three accreditation units of this regional accrediting body.

“This recognition is an additional acknowledgement of the work GSI does to ensure Goddard Schools maintain high quality early childhood education programs,” said Sue Adair, Director of Education of the 380-plus location school franchise. “We are proud of the work our franchisees and executive team have done to maintain best in class educational practices.”

The Middle States Association (MSA) of Colleges and Schools has been providing accreditation and school improvement to colleges, secondary schools and elementary schools for over 100 years.  Over the past few years, the accreditation standards have been extended to early childhood programs through the Early Age Education Accreditation.  The Middle States Commission of Elementary Schools reaches out to public and private schools throughout the country and across five continents.

GSI’s education and business philosophy is continuing to gain national traction; the company opened 19 new locations in 2011. By positioning locations in top-tier markets across the nation, GSI is now located in 35 states with over 380 schools in communities across the nation.