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Recently in: Toddlers

Beating the New Baby Blues

By Jacqueline Mroz When Paula Costa gave birth to a baby girl a few months ago, she expected her son, Alec, 2, to have a hard time adjusting. But she... Read more

How Many Friends Are Enough?


By Vanessa Voltolina Four-year-old Ryan McLynn of Hopewell Junction, N.Y., has no problem making friends. "Ryan will just go up to other kids on the ... Read more

The Magic of Make Believe


By Aviva Patz Parents have always wanted to provide their children with as much enrichment as they can. Today, that means even three- and four-year o... Read more

More Articles in: Toddlers



Checklist for Choosing a Safe Day Care


By Madonna Behen

Finding the right day-care center requires a balance of many practical issues: location, cost, hours of operation. And you of course also want a nurturing staff. "But bottom line, your child's health and safety is what matters the most," says Patricia Skinner, executive director of the Capital District Child Care Council, a resource and referral agency serving six counties in the Albany, N.Y., region. "After all, it doesn't matter how stellar the caregiver's interactions are if there's broken glass on the playground," she says.
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Kids That Go Bump in the Night


By Aviva Patz

You've survived the up-every-two-hours newborn period, and you're finally slumbering peacefully through the night. Out of nowhere, your toddler starts showing up like an uninvited guest at all hours. "I lost my blankie," she says. "I'm thirsty." "I wanted to give you one more hug." There's a million reasons your merry wanderer may give for crawling out of bed, but there's only one thing you need to know at that time of night: It's critical to get your child back to sleep for the full 12 or so hours she needs.

Families need to make sleep a priority because it affects every aspect of a child's well being -- health, behavior, development and the ability to learn," ...
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Imagine That! Parents' Guide to Playing Pretend

Kids think that playing "supermarket" and dress-up is fun; child development experts know it's much more than that. Pretend play is a learning experience for young children. It lets them explore the world around them and experiment with social and emotional roles. It also boosts problem-solving skills. So pick up a wand or sword, put on a cape and get into your child's fantasy world. Who knows, you might just have fun yourself!

Here are some new additions to old-fashioned make-believe games that you can enjoy together:

Teacher knows best If you plan on playing the role of teacher in this game, take a notebook and write out the entire make-believe school day, class by class, to mimic a typical academic schedule.
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Being a Better Buddy


By Cindy Schweich Handler

Toddlers love to play with their pals, but as any parent who's refereed a preschool playdate knows, learning how to get along with each other isn't always fun and games. "Kids this age are the most energetic and impulsive that they're going to be their whole lives, and they have short attention spans," says Michele Borba, Ed. D., author of numerous parenting books, including Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me (Jossey-Bass). But this is the perfect time for tuned-in parents to teach toddlers the skills that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

"If you show them how to play, they'll have a model to copy," Borba says. Here's how you can lay the groundwork for future social success:

Do your advance work There's a lot you can do before a playdate starts to pave the way for a good time. Schedule a get-together for a couple of hours, tops, between your child and one friend -- with kids this young, three is often a crowd -- in the morning or after a nap, when they're feeling freshest.
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Tips for Your Child's First Haircut

Taking a young child for their first haircut doesn't have to be a stressful experience. Following are some tips to ensure it is an enjoyable experience for you and your child:

  • Bring your child along to a sibling's or a parent's haircut beforehand so they can get familiar with the process.

  • Avoid saying haircut to your child as the word "cut" may evoke fear of pain. Instead, call it a hair trim.

  • Visit the salon at a time of day that works best for your child. Obviously, it doesn't make sense to go right before naptime when your child may be fussy.

  • Ask for a stylist who works well with children.

  • Bring your child's favorite snack, a new book or something special that is typically forbidden like a lollipop to keep them occupied.

  • Don't forget your camera! Also, bring a long an envelope or baggie to collect a lock of hair as a memento.

From February 2nd to the 15th, you can get your child a haircut and give hope to another. For two weeks, Fantastic Sams throughout the metro area will donate a dollar from every kids' haircut to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

... Continue reading Tips for Your Child's First Haircut.

Is My Kid Spoiled?


by Chris Grannis

The screaming child in the shopping cart grabs at the candy while his frazzled mother tries to unload the groceries at the checkout. Before she has the chance to react he rips off the wrapper and proceeds to cram the chocolate into his mouth. Does this sound all too familiar? Have you ever asked yourself the question, 'Is My Kid Spoiled?' Well, you are not alone. According to a recent study* 94% of parents believe that American children are spoiled. Deciding if your little angel is, in fact, a little devil is not rocket science. Thankfully, neither is the solution.

Asking yourself these simple questions will solve the mystery for you.

•On shopping trips, do your children always demand candy or a toy?
•Does your child throw a tantrum when asked to do a chore or task?
•Is bedtime a battleground?

If any or all of these scenarios is true in your family then, I'm afraid the answer is a resounding YES! Momma, you have one spoiled kid on your hands! That's the bad news. The good news is that changing this behavior does not require the use of a magic wand. To help them feel safe kids need rules and boundaries. And, because we love our children, we want them to feel safe, too. If you have asked yourself the question, 'Is My Kid Spoiled', and you've ticked at least one of the boxes now is the time to do something about it.

As the mother of the chocolate-guzzling terror what should I do? The fact that the candy is already unwrapped is not an excuse to let the child have his way. Mom should calmly take the bar away from him, tell him that she is going to pay for it, and then drop it in the trashcan. Believe me, this works! Yes, the kid will probably bawl for a few minutes but he will soon get over it. The added bonus is that the mother will have gained some respect from the store staff!

Whether tidy-up, homework, or bedtime, she refuses to do what I ask her. Well, yes, she is a bit of a princess but this is nothing a few routines won't fix. Give her five minutes notice that she will soon have to put her toys away. This will help her mind go from play mode to put-away mode. Likewise, with homework and bedtime, advanced warning helps kids shift gear and prepare for the next task. If she still refuses to do as she is asked then there is always time-out! Children should remain on the designated spot for one minute per year of their life. Three minutes for a three-year old really does seem like an eternity. If she tries to get away from the time-out spot just put her back on, without engaging in conversation, argument, or cajoling. She will be determined to get your attention, one way or the other, but you can be even more determined. Remember, this is a child you are dealing with! You are older, and bigger, and stronger, and you will win in the end. Be patient but firm.

Is bedtime a battle? A good bedtime routine will go a long way to helping your child settle down. A warm bath helps him to relax and is a good signal that it is almost time for sleep. A bedtime story is essential for many reasons. Story time is a great opportunity for parents to spend some one-on-one time with their child. It creates a feeling of love and intimacy between parent and child. It also stimulates an interest in reading, which is of paramount importance in the overall education of children. And, a story will help kids wind down and relax after their very busy, very active day.

Ignore excuses of hunger, thirst, or a sore tummy. If all is obviously well then it is important, just as with time-out, that you put him back to bed without engaging. Should you have to repeat the process ninety-nine times on the first couple of nights it will definitely pay off in the end. He will get the message and a good night's sleep, and you will have a restful evening of 'me' time. What more could a mom ask for at the end of a long day?

Parenting is the hardest job in the world, but it really is the most rewarding. With a bit of consistency and determination you can turn the time you spend with your children into the best part of your day.

* "94% of Parents Polled Say Today's Kids Are Spoiled, But 55% Say Their Own Kids Are Part of Problem:" Cookie Magazine/AOL Survey, 2007.

... Continue reading Is My Kid Spoiled?.

Story Time Success


By Aviva Patz

It might seem like kids' brains are now more stimulated than ever with all the media they're exposed to -- TV, the Internet, computer games, cell phones. But in fact, all that electronic input is actually eroding their sense of imagination, educators say. "When children are given images, they don't learn to form pictures in their mind's eye, which is the basis of creative imagination," says Elizabeth Rose, Ed.S., director of National Youth Storytelling Showcase, an organization that aims to get youth involved in storytelling.

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