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Helping You and Your Children Through The Day!

Being a parent to a young child who is full of energy can be a roller coaster ride of amazing moments and tearing your hair out! All parents know the good times with their children; it may just be that today's busy lifestyles make them harder to see. Understanding your child's needs and how to meet them will help you have more of the ups and less of the downs.

Difficult times are more likely to happen when children are bored or frustrated. How you respond to them and how you are feeling can sometimes turn a simple task into a battle of wills. Obviously, these can't all be avoided, but a few simple ideas may help you and your children have more of the good times!

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Play

If children really get into an activity, they are less likely to throw the remote in the garbage or wrestle with a brother or sister! If you've got a lot to do in a short space of time, set up an activity that will give you that all-important extra half an hour.

Painting, Drawing, and Coloring Even very young children love creating works of art, and the messier, the better! Put down newspaper and cover up clothes to protect them and cut down on tidying up.

Water A washing bowl of water and a couple of cups can keep a toddler busy for ages.

Imagination Get out some teddy bears and dolls and have a tea party, or set up a zoo made of all sizes and shapes of toys-let imaginations run wild.

Join In Once you've got everything out of the way, take five minutes to get into what your child is doing. Show him what he's doing is important.

Keep It Simple If this all sounds too complicated and time consuming, try to keep a box of toys, crayons, and play dough handy, and make the most of bathtime for playing with a couple of cups and a sponge.

Content courtesy familyandparenting.org

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Children's needs and levels of understanding change as they grow, and what might be expected of a four-year-old can't be expected of a two-year-old.

  • Exploring Young children find out about their world through touching, shaking, tasting, pouring, squeezing ... the list is endless! This isn't naughtiness, but a way of learning about their world. So make your home "toddler proof" by trying to store valuables and breakables away from your child so he can explore safely. The mess of life with a toddler can be exhausting, but think of all the learning he's doing!
  • Independence Part of growing up for your toddler will be testing boundaries and becoming an individual. You can help him by letting him do as much for himself as possible-store toys at child height, let him choose his clothes, and give finger food.
  • Encouragement Your child will learn what's OK to do from you, so give lots of attention and praise to good behavior-try "You're using your spoon really well!" instead of "Stop making such a mess!" If you only pay attention to your child when he misbehaves, he'll learn to misbehave to get your attention.

Talking

Talking and listening to your child helps him understand what's going on.

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  • Language Tell your child what you want him to do, instead of what you don't want him to do. Instead of "Don't make such a mess!" try "Clean up your toys, please."
  • Respect Children learn from what you do and say. If you want your child to be polite and respectful, think about what to say and how you say it. Raising your voice will have him shouting back, and put-downs aren't good for anyone's self-confidence.
  • Explaining If you have to say no to your child, give a good reason and offer an alternative. "Rose is playing with the toy now, but let's find you a new one."
  • Listening Your child is trying out his new language and needs to be heard. Have a conversation with him-even if it feels a bit one-sided at times, he'll get a lot out of it and learn about talking to others. Try getting down to his level-he'll find it easier to talk (and listen) to you if you're not towering above him.
  • Feelings Help your child's frustrations by trying to put his feelings into words-"You're really angry that you have to take a nap now, but when you wake up, we'll go to the park!"

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Playtime

"I put his favorite toy away when other kids come around-it saves them fighting over it."

"If she's really upset, I try and take her somewhere else so she can calm down-she still has to know she can't fight, but it's better doing that somewhere quiet."

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Other things to try:

  • Let children sort out their own squabbles, as long as no one gets hurt. But do seperate them if they hurt each other, and explain firmly that you won't allow anyone to hurt another child.
  • Let your child know that you understand why he is angry, but that hurting is not allowed.
  • Helping your child to talk about his feelings when or after he is upset may help to reduce the chances of the same problem happening again.

Early Evening to Bedtime

"When I get home from work, I try to have five minutes just for them-once I've heard about their day, it's easier for them to let me go and cook dinner."

"We've just started giving him a five minute warning so he knows that he's got a bit more time to play, then it's bedtime."

Other things to try:

  • Get into a routine of bath, book and bed that your child feels comfortable with.
  • Listen to your child's fears about the dark or going to bed, and help him find ways to deal with the fear, i.e. chasing the monster out of the room.
  • Share the routine with your spouse or family member.
  • Try and give each of your children some special time with you-read a story or catch up on their news.

Looking After Yourself

As much as you love your children, they can also drive you to distraction, dawdling when you're trying to get them off to school, or asking for toys in the supermarket.

If you make sure to take a break and relax, or to go out and enjoy yourself, then you will be in better shape to cope with being a parent too. Get together with other parents-children often feel happier if they have a friend or company. Don't be shy to ask for help. Remember-and it's not always easy-you're important too!

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