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Archive for July, 2012

Combat Toy Clutter!

Boy with TruckTo combat toy clutter, Goddard School mom Kristi T. uses a great idea from an older, popular television show. The tip is called “The 10-Second Tidy!” When Kristi announces a 10-second tidy, the children grab as many toys as they can and count to 10 together as they put the toys away.

How do you encourage your children to help with household chores?


Building a Pattern of Success

Children need to learn to succeed and to be willing to try new things and tackle new challenges if they are to feel competent.  Children who experience too much frustration and failure inevitably begin to try less and less.  The emotional discomfort is too hard, and their best tactic becomes avoidance.

Reading - Teacher & BoyBut an essential part of learning to succeed is coping with frustration and sticking with the project until it works.  This is another area where parents can give their kids a wonderful leg up.  Once again, the key is to follow the child’s emotional cues.

In teaching your child to succeed, you want to manage frustration, not eliminate it.  It’s fine for your child to have to work at solving a puzzle or putting on her boots.  It may take her a while, and your patience is essential.  Keep letting her work the problem until you see signs that frustration is beginning to overwhelm the process.  (Those emotional cues, again.)  If this happens, give her a helping hand, but let her finish on her own.

She needs to feel that burst of pleasure that comes with a win.  This is how she commits her new discovery to memory.  It’s also how she learns that effort + success = pleasure.  Your praise of her accomplishment makes that pleasure even greater, and the whole process gets amplified.

It’s important to remember that children need to earn their success for it to feel the way it should.  It’s great for you to grab that last puzzle piece that scooted under the sofa and place it where your child can see it.  But if you take the piece and finish the puzzle, you just ruined his project!  For a success to count, it needs to be your child’s success, not yours.  And, yes, don’t forget to praise his success.

A World of Style: Developmental Benchmarks

Sensory Table with ToddlersThe developmental benchmarks of early childhood – the “normal” times when certain skills are supposed to appear – can never do justice to the infinite variety of ways that development actually occurs.  Yet it is tempting for parents to compare their children to charts and tables of “average” this or “typical” that.  Moreover, comparison is inevitable in many childcare setting where parents can’t help but see how their child measures up to others.  Concern about early learning can put added pressure on parents to watch for signs that language and cognitive development are “on schedule.”

However, from a practical point, timing doesn’t mean very much.  The order of development of new skills is more important than the timing of the appearance of any one skill.  Jargon before vocabulary, crawling before walking, sucking before drinking.  Children pass through these gateways at vastly different rates.

As long as your child is progressing in each area, it doesn’t matter if he is a bit “behind” on something, and, satisfying though it may be, it doesn’t mean anything if he is a bit “ahead” on something else.  For example, numerous studies have confirmed that the vast majority of children who talk later than average are just as smart and do just as well in school as early talkers.  If is perfectly normal for a child’s interests and temperament to lead her further and faster in some areas than in others.  It is also perfectly normal for these interests to change over time.

Benchmarks can be helpful, provided they are used as general guidelines.  If you have concerns, check with your pediatrician.  A good rule of thumb: don’t let other children’s progress get in the way of your respect for the individuality of your child.


Make Your Own Ice Pops

Ice pops are perfect for a summer dessert or afternoon snack. Instead of purchasing them at the store, invest in an ice pop mold (or use small paper or plastic cups) and invite your little one into the kitchen to experiment with making your own. After you try the delicious recipes below, get creative and see what tasty flavors you can whip up!

Strawberry Lemonade Ice Pops

  • 1 (12-ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 1 (16-ounce) package frozen sliced strawberries

Prepare the lemonade as directed on the package. Place the frozen strawberries into a blender and puree them until smooth. If necessary, use some of the lemonade to help the strawberries blend. Stir the strawberry puree into the lemonade and pour the mixture into the ice pop molds. Freeze them until set.

Pudding Pops

  • 1 package sugar-free pudding mix in the flavor of your choice
  • 2 cups cold low-fat milk
  • 2 cups low-fat Cool Whip

Prepare the pudding as directed on the package, using the 2 cups of cold low-fat milk. Mix in the 2 cups of low-fat Cool Whip and divide the mixture into ice pop molds. Freeze them until set.


*An adult should oversee all activities.  Activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

You Are What You Drink

You may have heard the phrase “you are what you eat,” but this is also true for what we drink. Many parents watch what they eat, but end up consuming large amounts of juice or caffeinated beverages, and less water than needed.

Drinking more water is a quick, easy habit to develop. Water has fantastic benefits for your body and getting the recommended amount is beneficial in many ways:

  • Drinking two glasses of water in the morning helps prepare your organs for the day.
  • Drinking one glass 30 minutes before a meal helps digestion.
  • Drinking one glass before baths or showers helps to lower your blood pressure.
  • Drinking one glass of water before bed helps lessen your chances of having a stroke or heart attack.

Life moves pretty fast, so cultivate habits that are healthy and help you relax a little so you can enjoy it as much as you can. Your body will thank you for increasing your water intake.

The Importance of Limits


Dr. Kyle Pruett ALimits define where a child’s world, safety, and autonomy begin and end.  When these limits are clear, a child is free to go on to more interesting and valuable activities – like discovery and learning.  Children will continually retest boundaries, just to make sure they’re in good working order.  But if the limits stay firm, retesting will become less frequent and more manageable.

As your child seeks to win your approval and to find the boundaries in her world, the easier you make her search, the better for both of you because of the wonderful results:

  • Acceptable behavior:  A winsome child is mile ahead of the perpetually demanding whiner.  It’s fun being around pleasant kids for children and adults alike.
  • Learning:  Children who continually test or search for boundaries (either because those boundaries keep shifting or don’t exist) have less time and energy for the really important work – exploration, discovery, and learning.
  • Intellectual development:  To think through a planned action and its consequences – Will something break?  Will Mommy be unhappy? – is an important achievement for toddlers.  It builds cognitive capacities just as surely as thinking through and resolving any other problem.  Children need this formative experience, and without consistent limits, they won’t get it.