Parenting Tips

All parents need a little advice now and then. Here are some tips on some parenting basics.

Aggressive Play

Anger is a healthy emotion. It helps us to stand up for ourselves. Aggression is hurtful and can be dangerous. Aggressive play can occur when your child is angry or frustrated. It is an attempt by the child to gain control over another. Gaining control through fear or pain is not acceptable. Aggressive play can easily frighten other children. Children need to learn how to negotiate to get what they need or want. It is important for your child to learn that aggressive play is not permitted. This includes verbal attacks such as name-calling.

Though aggressive play is not to be allowed, be sure that you let your child know you understand his/her feelings. Talk about those feelings and offer your child choices for handling those feelings such as using words to say, "Stop! That hurts me." Aggressive play must not be allowed to continue. Signs that play is aggressive are when children stop laughing; faces and voices show fear, anger, or upset; or talk changes from pretend into real menace. Consequences may be needed to help your child learn this rule. However, hitting a child for aggressive play teaches the child that hitting is okay when you're angry as long as you are bigger.

Help your child avoid playmates and situations that often lead to major problems. Praise your child for friendly behavior: for being nice to people, sharing things, and helping others. Young children react quickly and strongly to their powerful feelings. Be alert to signs that play is turning aggressive.

Pointers for Parents

  • Enforce a firm rule: NO HITTING. Hitting hurts, and we do not hurt people.
  • If it looks like your child might hurt someone, stop the play. Offer ideas of other things to do. You may need to watch the play closely for a while.
  • Make it clear that aggressive play is not okay. Set consequences if it continues and carry them out if it does.
  • A time-out is a chance to get in control.


Bedtime can be a special family time. Understand your child's needs and make a routine to help you both enjoy bed time. S/he can use the routine as a tool to know what to expect. Your child feels most secure when s/he knows what is going to happen.

Bedtime is often best set by the clock. Young children are VERY active and require a long period of sleep each day to give their bodies time and energy to grow. Children who lack enough rest are cranky, accident-prone, and more likely to get sick.

It's hard for children to change from one activity to another, especially when they are tired. Plan to limit active play to early evening hours. Encourage quiet play for 30 minutes to 1 hour before preparing for bed. Be sure to signal that bedtime is coming before you actually begin getting ready.

Make bedtime the time your child's body is in the bed. Encourage cooperation by reading 3 or 4 stories AFTER s/he is in bed and before lights are out. Be firm about the body staying in the bed.

For children who wander from bed, put him/her right back into the bed. Be silent until s/he is back in bed. If wandering lasts long, it may mean that s/he wasn't "ready" for bed. Try having more time to get ready. Start the routine earlier tomorrow evening.

Be as calm as possible about the bedtime routine. Your tension will affect your child. Be pleasant and be firm. Help as much as needed to keep him/her moving. Put the paste on the toothbrush or help with the pajamas. Ignore the overly tired child's resistance, whining, or crying. Comfort him/her and say, "You played so hard today. You must feel extra tired tonight."

When all goes fairly smoothly, your child is relaxed. S/he has enjoyed lots of your loving attention and can drift off into sleep.

Pointers for Parents

  • Make bedtime the same time every night, with rare exceptions. Changes in routine confuse children, and they resist.
  • Signal a few minutes before starting the bedtime routine.
  • Keep moving through the routine by helping the child as much as is needed.
  • Stay calm. Be gentle and pleasant even when your child is not. Ignore whining and crying. Bedtime struggles cause children to dread bedtime.


Why infants and toddlers bite

  • Teething - when the child’s gums are sore, biting is a pain reliever.
  • Exploration - the child naturally puts things in his/her mouth for oral stimulation.
  • Cause and effect - the child wants to get a response.
  • Language frustration - the child has not learned more acceptable ways to communicate when he/she feels cornered or threatened.
  • Imitating behavior - the child may be innocently copying something they've seen.
  • Attention - the child may trying to get more of your time and attention.
  • Anxiety - biting may relieve tension for the child.
  • After age 3 or so, biting may become a deliberate way to express anger or intimidate others. Biting can result in a puncture or cut. It is a serious misbehavior that calls for your close attention.

Take steps to reduce biting incidents. Teach your child words and help him/her talk about his/her anger. "You are mad. Tell Mandy to stop!" Watch your child closely whenever s/he is around other children or in situations where s/he is likely to bite.

Always treat biting as a serious matter. Interrupt biting with a sharp, "No." Be sure to use a serious voice and look your child straight in the eye. Never laugh when your child bites, and don't treat it like a game (love bites). Make sure older siblings follow your lead.

Never Bite Back

This may teach your child that biting is okay if you are bigger.

Don't use punitive punishment like using soap to wash out your child's mouth, pinching his/her cheek, or slapping.

Praise good behavior and your child's efforts to use words to get what s/he wants.

Pointers for Parents

  • Make a family rule that "We never bite people." Biting hurts.
  • Give safe alternative behavior such as giving a toy or teething ring to bite.
  • Help the child learn and use words to get what they need.
  • NEVER BITE BACK. The child may learn it's okay as long as you're bigger.
  • Biting is a serious issue, no matter the reason. Be firm in your response. Biting hurts.
  • Watch for signs that your child might bite. Get involved and help your child meet his/her needs.
  • Praise your child for not biting.



Definition: "A communication tool that demonstrates to another person that we understand how they feel. This tool shows that we care enough about what our children have to say."

Casting a "reflection" in your child: think of your child's inner self (i.e., how they view themselves) as being a small mirror. This mirror "reflects" the words cast at them, be they positive or negative, and fashions the child's self-image. How you talk to your child will determine the picture they have of themselves. Positive talk will create positive reflections, and negative talk will create negative reflections.

Listen before you talk: listen with your full attention, not your half attention. In other words, turn off the television or wait to the commercial to give your child your attention.

If you have to ask your child to wait until you finish cooking or cleaning, do so, but do give it to them. REMEMBER: your body language tells volumes! Facing your child and looking at him/her in the eyes shows your interest and attention just as much, if not more, than your words.

"Just the facts": To start, reflect your child's comments by repeating the facts. Now you know why it's important to give full attention. When your child comes home from school or wants to talk about the latest craze, listen with full attention. Don't interrupt or make a comment. Most conversation by your child doesn't require a comment from the parent regardless of whether they ask you for one or not. During your child's speech, you can respond with an acknowledging or understanding word, such as "oh" or "hmmm".

Looking for the joys and the hurts: as you get more accomplished at reflecting the facts, you can move on to the next level of "reflections," which is to reflect your child's feelings.

This takes more practice and effort. Most of us are not accomplished at knowing our own feelings or grew up in a home that did not accept certain feelings, such as anger or sadness. Begin by labeling your child's feelings for him or her. For example, tell your child, "You sound angry," "sad," or "happy." Resist the temptation to give advice or interrogate them. It is okay to let your child struggle with their feelings in order for them to identify and accept them. You can help them by labeling their feelings for them until they are able to label them themselves. Don't worry about getting it wrong. Your child will let you know by clarifying their feelings to you. After all, this is our goal, to help them recognize their own feelings.

Cautions: Paraphrase or summarize your child's facts and feelings. Don't "parrot" them. This turns children off, especially older children. Practice listening for about a month. Give yourself time to develop and use this communication tool. Think how long you've used the destructive, hand-me-down tools of interrogation and advice-giving. New habits take time and practice.


Definition: "A communication tool that controls the start and stop of conversation. A long pause between words that allows the listener to demonstrate their respect and attention by waiting before talking in turn."

Most parents err on the side of talking too much. Many parents have stated that if they didn't consistently question their children, they would never tell them anything. It sounds crazy, but try not talking as a way to get your child to talk to you. Follow these essential "thou shalt nots" in order to learn how to use silence as a communication tool with your child.

  • Thou shalt not be a chronic crowder.
  • Chronic crowders cut off their children in mid-sentence and rarely let them finish what they're trying to say. This is why many children stop talking to their parents. If this seems to be a problem try decreasing your "crowding" in small increments. Start off with holding your tongue or biting your lip for 1 second before talking, then 2 seconds, then 3, and so on.
  • Thou shalt not be an interrogating interrupter. Interrupters find the slightest pause in a conversation to get their own questions and words in edgewise.
  • Thou shalt not be a response rip-off artist. Response rip-off artists let their children finish what they want to say only to rip into them "with a few words of their own."
  • Thou shalt not be an over-talk overlord.
    Over-talk overlords talk at the same time as their child and rarely relinquish attention just listening.

Our ability to handle silences may be related to our self-worth, parental belief systems, and/or our cultural background. It may be difficult to handle silences in your home. Some families may consider long silences to be rude or controlling. Be sensitive to these conditions before "shutting up".

Learning to handle silences

  • Practice taking turns. This demonstrates respect and teaches children how you would want them to behave when you or other adults are talking.  
  • Practice talking softly. It's difficult to talk over somebody when talking softly. Another benefit of talking softly is that children will strain to hear you! This can gain their attention as well.  
  • Practice slowing down your talk. Slowing down allows your conversation with your child to develop a natural rhythm. Most people talk faster to get more words in to the conversation.


Definition: "A communication tool that reveals our similar feelings of past experiences that relate to the feelings or experiences of our children. This communication tool creates intimacy, trust, and a sense of safety for our children to open up to us.

Disclosures are one of nature's little known laws of communication. In order to get your children (or most anyone else) to open up to you, you must first open up to them. Walking the fine line of vulnerability can be risky. In order to keep your balance, here are a few disclosure techniques to get you to the other side of the closer relationships.

Me-too's are a way of letting your child know that you, too, have felt the same way they are feeling or you, too, have gone through a similar experience. Parents simply state, "You know, I have felt that way myself" or "I know what it is like to go through that too!" Next, tell them very specifically when and how you felt the same way or experience a similar situation. This builds a sense of understanding between parent and child. It also teaches your child how they can handle the situation and cope with their feelings.

Hypothetical disclosures are what you might feel or react to if someone else's situations had happened to you instead of them. You might state, "If my friend hit me, I would feel angry" or "If I was trying to make new friends, I might start my just saying 'Hi' or asking them their names." This gives your child courage to act a certain way and demonstrates your understanding for their situation.

Symmetry takes your repertoire of interests, skills, and likes and matches them up with your child's. This brings the parent and child closer together by having something in common. If you don't seem to have anything in common, this is your common bond. Not having anything in common allows the 2 of you to look together for something you both can share an interest in. Just the act of looking is symmetry.

Here-N-Nows focus on a child's present situation while bringing in experiences from his/her past. We all use our past experiences to make decisions about how to act in our present context. For example, you might say, "Feeling sad about Grandma's moving out of state is a lot like the time you lost your favorite doll. After looking for a while, you finally found it again. Grandma will come back and you will get to see her again, too."

Caution: feel free to mix these disclosures together until you get just the right blend. You can use them with the other communication tools as well.

Don't disclose your inappropriate behavior or reactions. Although we think we can teach our children right from wrong by telling them what we did wrong, it is more effective to give positive examples from our past. This doesn't mean you can't talk about the "negative" feelings, such as anger or grief. These are not really negative feelings. They don't feel great, but they serve a very good purpose in our lives.

Don't bring up your child's past mistakes. This is not a form of disclosure. This is an example of unforgiven hurts and resentments. Hurts beget hurts. Revenge is not a basis for supportive relationships.

Remember that disclosures provide a safety net to our children. They tell our children that it is okay to open up to us because we are willing to open up to them.


Consequences are tools used to guide a child's behavior. Consequences help children learn about the results of their behavior. While we may think of consequences as punishment, they can also be earned privileges! The consequences for following a rule is a privilege.

When misbehavior is minor, we can usually stay calm. It's big or frequent mistakes that cause upset and loss of patience. We may punish instead of teach about responsible behavior. Often, children don't clearly understand that it's their behavior that has caused the punishment.

Children learn to avoid punishment and to fear their parent's anger. Punishment given in anger may lead to thinking like, "My mom is mean!" In this case, the punishment has not helped the child learn about self control and following rules.

Help children learn that it is their behavior which controls consequences, both good and bad. Give privileges for being responsible about following rules. Take away privileges when the child isn't responsible and doesn't follow the rules.

Example: The rule - Mary picks up her toys. When she does her job say, "Great! You picked up your toys." You may invite Sarah to come and play." Mary was responsible, followed the rule, and earned a privilege. If Mary doesn't do her job say, "Since you chose to leave your toys out, you may not have company today." Mary wasn't responsible for her job and she lost the privilege.

Be sure your child can do what you expect. Also, be sure you are expecting your child to do everything she can, even if she resists. A preschooler can fold washcloths and sort socks. A 1st-grader can fold t-shirts, towels and pillowcases, and sort socks.

Encourage independence - expect your child to do everything she is capable of doing!

She may not do as well as you at first. Be patient and praise good effort. Gently guide your child toward improved results. Give privileges to your responsible child.

Pointers for Parents

  • For every rule there is a responsibility and a privilege. When the responsibility isn't met, take away the privilege.
  • Avoid dealing out consequences when angry. This will help avoid harsh punishment. Wait until you feel calm.
  • Be sure to praise earning privileges.
  • The goal of consequences is to help children learn that they are responsible for their behavior. Harsh or punitive punishment causes the child to feel either fear or anger instead of feeling regret for their mistake


Ways for Parents to Encourage Discipline

Involve children in setting rules. Identify family rules, but listen to and include your child's thoughts when determining rules. This will create a feeling of respect and value for their opinions. They will feel like they are part of the decision making process at home, and in return they will be more likely to behave better. Set rules for bedtime, house chores, school attendance, TV viewing, homework, and study time.

Enforce rules consistently. Involve your child in deciding what consequences they will face if a rule is broken. Consequences should be set when rules are set and must be clear to avoid arguments. For example, a rule might be that curfew time is 9:00 pm; if this rule is broken the consequence should be the child cannot go out on the weekend. Rules should not be violated and all broken rules should have a consequence. To be effective, consequences must be enforced every time a rule is broken.

Cool down before disciplining your children. Try to count to 10 or walk away to calm down when you are upset with your children. This will allow you to think of ways to handle a situation without exploding. When you are calm, sit down with your child and discuss the problem. Try not to scream, offend, hit or embarrass your children.

Listen to your child's needs and concerns. Listening to your child's worries and desires helps build a stronger and more trusting relationship between you and your child. Developing good communication will help you deal with problems or differences more effectively. Do not consistently repeat demands to you children when you want them to do something. Expect them to be responsible and follow through on your requests.

Be positive and acknowledge improvement. Children need to know when they are doing better and they also need positive reinforcement. Make sure you praise and acknowledge good and improved behavior. When you are correcting your child, make sure he/she understands what they did wrong, how they should have acted, and the consequences of their behavior.

Family Involvement

Seven Good Practices for Families

"The American family is the bedrock on which a strong education foundation must be built to prepare our children for the rigors of the 21st century." - Richard W. Riley, U.S. Secretary of Education

  1. Find the time to LEARN TOGETHER with your children.
  2. Commit yourself and your children to CHALLENGING STANDARDS – help children to reach their FULL POTENTIAL.
  3. LIMIT TV viewing to no more than two hours on school nights.
  4. READ TOGETHER. It's the starting point of all learning.
  5. Encourage your children to TAKE THE TOUGHER COURSES at school and CHECK THEIR HOMEWORK every day.
  6. Make sure your children GO TO SCHOOL EVERY DAY and support community efforts to keep children SAFE AND OFF THE STREETS late at night.
  7. SET A GOOD EXAMPLE for your children, and talk directly to them about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and about the values you want them to have.

Family Members as Care Givers

When you need to find child care, sometimes the best choice is someone in your own family.


  • Because a family member knows and loves your child.
  • Because a family member may be more able to care for your child at night or on weekends.
  • Because your family member may charge you less.
  • Because your child may be more at ease with someone he knows.

How will it work?

  • Talk it over. Make sure your family member really wants to care for your child and is able to do so.
  • Write down what you agree on: how much you will pay and when, if you will pay when your child stays home with you, if you will pay when your family member is sick or on vacation, what time you will drop off and pick up your child, what your child will eat and who will buy the food....

Helping your family member do a good job

Taking care of your child is hard work. Your family member may need help. Ask her what she thinks might be helpful.
See if you can find a good time and place for her to take a first aid and CPR class. Offer to pay the fees.

You can go to the library and look for books for her that tell about things to do with young children to help them grow and learn.

If your family member cares for other children as well as yours, she can get a child care license. It will take time and effort, but it may be worth it. She may be able to get training and help in paying for the children's meals.

Is it safe for your child?

  • Make sure that your family member's home is safe.
  • Medicines, household cleaners, and other poisons should be out of your child's reach.
  • Your family member should know what to do if there is a fire - how to get your child out quickly and safely and who to call.
  • Your baby should be placed on his back to sleep.

What if there is a problem?

Sometimes you may not agree with your family member on how best to care for your child. Maybe you want your child to play outside more. Or your family member thinks your baby is ready to be potty trained but you want to wait

Some tips to keep peace in the family

  • Find a good time and place to talk about it.
  • Thank your family member for helping you with your child care.
  • Show respect for your family member's ideas.
  • Tell your family member that you want the best care for your child and you know that she does, too. Perhaps you can agree.
  • Decide if you need to start looking for other child care. If so, let your family member know how lucky you feel to have had her help.
  • Is it time for a change? Children grow and their needs change. Sometimes care that was perfect for your little child no longer works as well when he is older.
  • You may find that a family member can no longer keep up with your active child. Or if you've had another baby, perhaps it is too much for your family member to take of both children.
  • You may need to make a change if your work hours or days change.
  • In some cases, the care just does not work out. But family is still family. Try to end the care without blame or bad feelings. Your child has had the love of a grandmother, aunt, or some other special family member, and that is what counts.


How parents can help children develop friendships

Create an environment in your home that attracts kids; make it a fun place for them to get together.

  • Play "detective". Observe carefully the places where other children in the neighborhood hang out, paying attention to the activities they enjoy, music, etc.
  • Sign your child up for community groups and activities that involve other neighborhood children of the same age.
  • Help your child reach out to children he/she likes.
  • Be sure your child has a typical routine, school day and lifestyle – minimize differences.
  • Find activities in which your child can succeed, using his/her interests and strengths in different settings.
  • Speak up when you need assistance or ideas to help your child develop friendships.
  • Invite two friends at a time over to play with your child.


Helping children with homework

The basics

Before discussing ways you can help your child with homework, it is important to discuss why teachers assign homework and how it benefits your child.

Why do teachers assign homework?

Teachers assign homework for many reasons.

Homework can help children review and practice what they've learned; get ready for the next day's class; learn to use resources, such as libraries, reference materials, and encyclopedias; and explore subjects more fully than time permits in the classroom.

Homework can also help children develop good habits and attitudes. It can teach children to work independently; encourage self-discipline and responsibility (assignments provide some youngsters with their first chance to manage time and meet deadlines); and encourage a love of learning.

Homework can also bring parents and educators closer together. Parents who supervise homework and work with their children on assignments learn about their children's education and about the school.

Homework is meant to be a positive experience and to encourage children to learn.

Assignments should not be used as punishment.

Does homework help children learn?

Homework helps your child do better in school when assignments are meaningful, are completed successfully, and are returned with constructive comments from the teacher. An assignment should have a specific purpose, come with clear instructions, be fairly well matched to a student's abilities, and designed to help develop a student's knowledge and skills.

In the early elementary grades, homework can help children develop the habits and attitudes described earlier. From fourth through sixth grades, small amounts of homework, gradually increased every year, may support improved academic achievement. In seventh grade and beyond, students who complete more homework score better on standardized tests and earn better grades, on the average, than students who do less homework. The difference in test scores and grades between students who do more homework and those who do less increases as children move up through the grades.

What's the right amount of homework?

Many educators believe that homework is most effective for the majority of children in first through third grades when it does not exceed 20 minutes each school day. From fourth through sixth grades, many educators recommend from 20 to 40 minutes a school day for most students. For students in seventh through ninth grades, generally, up to 2 hours a school day is thought to be suitable. Amounts that vary from these guidelines are fine for some students. Talk with your child's teacher if you are concerned about either too much or too little homework.

Interviewing Caregivers

How to Interview Caregivers

The informational interview

The purpose of the informational interview is to gather information such as hours, tuition, sick policy, holidays that the provider is closed, activities that your child would be doing, discipline policy, and the provider's child care philosophy. When interviewing, you might want to have both parents or guardians present so that everyone understands the agreements made between parents and provider. If you are interviewing a home child care provider, you might want to meet the provider's spouse and other members of the family.

Formulate questions before the interview. List possible questions to ask each provider, and remembers to ask for references from other parents.

The initial observation

When observing a child care program for the first time, its probably best to go without your child. To avoid confusing your child, you should limit your child's visits only to places you are seriously considering. The purpose of this initial observation is for you to watch the provider's interaction with the children, and to assess the program. Bring a note pad so you can make notes and save your questions until after the observation.

Observing with your child

Before your final decision to enroll your child in the program, you will want to observe your child's interaction with the teacher and the children. You will want to visit long enough for your child to feel comfortable and to become acquainted with the environment. Depending on your child and the situation, one introductory visit may be enough, or he/she may need to go again with you. You do want to observe your child in the program, but you do not want to intrude on the provider's ability to care for the other children. Communicate with the provider, and evaluate the situation.

When you do leave for the first time, say good-bye to your child, but remember that long good-byes can be very difficult. Demonstrate your feeling of trust in the caregiver. Tell your child good-bye in a calm voice, and let him/her know when you will return. 


Helping Your Baby, Toddler, or Preschooler Learn to Read and Write

You do it every day - without even thinking about it! Sing a lullaby to your baby. Say a silly rhyme to your toddler. Read your preschooler a favorite bedtime story. You know these things make your child happy. Did you know you are helping your child learn reading and writing skills, too? Even though most children don't start to read until they are 5 to 7 years old, learning to read and write starts the day they are born.

You are your child's first teacher. Start early to help your child learn to love reading and writing. It's one of the best things you can do to make sure your child succeeds in school.

5 Things to Do with Your Baby

  1. Hold, touch, and make eye contact with your baby a lot. No one is more important to your baby than you. When you hold and touch your baby, you are helping your baby be calm and pay attention to your face and the sounds you make. You are also helping your baby start to be able to use muscles. These things will be important for later reading and writing.
  2. Talk and sing to your baby. Even though your baby can't talk back, your baby is soaking in everything you say! Talk or sing during daily routines like diaper changing, bath time, feeding, or play time. Your baby will begin to recognize sounds and familiar words.
  3. Imitate the faces and sounds your baby makes. Babies love to make faces with you and hear you repeat the sounds they make. Your baby will begin to understand imitating and how to "read" faces.
  4. Give your baby something interesting to look at in the crib. A mobile helps babies focus their eyes. Your baby will watch it move and try to touch it.
  5. Read to your baby. Every day. Use cardboard or cloth books with bright colors. Don't worry if you baby wants to throw and chew on the books! The important thing is that your baby is starting to learn about books and reading right from the start.

5 Things to Do with Your Toddler

  1. Keep reading. Your toddler will love to read the same books over and over. Toddlers may want to hold the book by themselves. Ask questions like "Where's the...?" and "What's that?" Make sure you wait a minute to give your child time to think about the answer.
  2. Let your toddler "write" with you. Toddlers like to do every day things with you. Let your toddler pretend-write a grocery shopping list with you.
  3. Talk and sing with your toddler. Talk about the things you and your toddler do together. Point out signs and worlds you see. Have fun singing songs or reading stories that rhyme with your toddler.
  4. Play with your toddler. Play time is one of the best times to help your child with Act out eating with real dishes and name them while you play.
  5. Put magnetic alphabet letters on the refrigerator. Spell out words and names with the letters. Then say the worlds and letters out loud to your toddler. Your child will feel the shapes of letters by moving them around, too. Young children are very good at learning more than one language. In fact, childhood is the best time to learn a second language! Make sure your child gets a lot of chances to talk, read, and pretend-write in both languages.

5 Things to Do with Your Preschooler

  1. Read even more! Your preschooler may want to "read" stories to you, too. Ask your child questions about the story, like "What do you think will happen next?"
  2. Label everything. Label things around the house, like "bed" or "door". Write your child's name at the bottom of pictures he or she makes.
  3. Point out things with letters and words. Point out letters and words all around you. Have your child read signs you see when you are in the car, or at the grocery store. Have your child pick out letters in the magazines you read.
  4. Go to the library a lot. Help your preschooler get a library card. Let your child check out new books to read from the library every week.
  5.  Write down things your child tells you. Ask if your child wants to send a note to a friend or grandparent. Let your child say it to you, and write it down. You can also let your child make a book. Let your child tell you a story and write it down. Your child can make a cover for it, and staple it together. Then read it together.

What About Child Care?

You and your family are always your child's first and best teachers. Build on what you do at home by making sure that your child is having fun with reading and writing in child care, too. There are a lot of things your child's caregiver can do to help your baby, toddler or preschooler with reading and writing.

Improve Reading and Writing Skills the Early Years: Birth to Preschool

  • Talk -- What's "old hat" to you can be new and exciting to toddlers and preschoolers. When you talk about everyday experiences, you help children connect their world to language and enable them to go beyond that world to new ideas.
  • As you get dinner ready, talk to your child about things that are happening. When your 2- or 3-year-old "helps" by taking out all the pots and pans, talk about them. "Which one is the biggest?" "Can you find a lid for that one?""What color is this one?"
  • When walking down the street and your toddler or preschooler stops to collect leave, sop and ask questions that require more than a "yes" or "no" answer. "Which leaves are the same?" "Which leaves are different?" "What else grows on trees?"
  • Ask "what if" questions. "What would happen if we didn't shovel the snow?" "What if that butterfly lands on your nose?"
  • Answer your child's endless "why" questions patiently. When you say, "I don't know, let's look it up," you show how important books are as resources for answering questions.
  • After your child tells you a story, ask questions so you can understand better. That way children learn how to tell complete stories and know you are interested in what they have to say.
  • Expose your child to varied experiences -- trips to the library, museum, or zoo; walks in the park; or visits with friends and relatives. Surround these events with lots of comments, questions, and answers.

Moving into Reading: Preschool through Grade Two

World of Words -- Here are a few ways to create a home rich in words.

  • Label the things in your child's pictures. If your child draws a picture of a house, label it with "This is a house," and put it on the refrigerator.
  • Have your child watch you write when you are making a shopping list or a "what to do" list. Say the words aloud and carefully print each letter.
  • Look at newspapers and magazines with your child. Find an interesting picture and show it to your child as you read the caption aloud.
  • Create a scrapbook. Cut out pictures of people and places and label them. Write On -- Writing helps a child become a better reader, and reading helps a child become a better writer.
  • Ask your child to dictate a story to you. It could include descriptions of your outings and activities, along with mementos such as fall leaves and flowers, birthday cards, and photographs. Older children can do these activities on their own. Family Stories -- Family stories enrich the relationship between parent and child.
  • Tell your child stories about your parents and grandparents. You might even put these stories in a book and add old family photographs.
  • Have your child tell you stories about what happened on special days, such as holidays, birthdays, and family vacations. P.S. I Love You -- Something important happens when children receive and write letters. They realize that the printed word has a purpose.
  • Send your child little notes (by putting them in a pocket or lunch box, for example). When your child shows you the not, read it aloud with expression. Some children will read the notes on their own.

Summer Reading Suggestions

During the long summer days of high humidity and sweltering heat, it's great to find an activity that the whole family can do to stay in and cool off. While you might be tempted to head for you nearest video store, take a detour and head for your neighborhood library instead. It's a good way to beat the heat and they have books there of interest to the whole family. Reading is recommended as one of the best ways to help students keep their skills sharp over the summer and it's also fun. So when the temperatures begin to hit that 100 degree mark, put down the remote and pick up a book. Don't worry, book worms don't bite.

Suggestions for Reading to Young Children

Young children love to have adults read to them. When you read to your children, they know they have your undivided attention and it makes them happy to know that you are enjoying something together.
Very young children like books with the "Three R's" -- rhythm, rhyme, and repetition. These three important ingredients help children memorize the story.

Don't be surprised or annoyed if they want to read the same book over and over again. This also helps them memorize the story. Memorizing the story is important for children learning to read. It helps with skills adults take for granted such as how to held the book right-side up, when to turn the page, and to turn the pages from the beginning of the book to the end. All of these things are easier to do with a book the child is familiar with.

Pick books with bright, life-like pictures and interesting story lines. Book with sing-song, nonsense words and flip-up interactive parts are a big hit with young children. As you read to your child, talk about the story and ask questions. You might say, "What do you think is going to happen next?" or "What would you do if that happened to you?"
Children love to get involved and feel as though they are part of the story. Pick special times and special places for reading. Bath time and bedtime are great.

Keep books in places where children can get them. On long road trips, encourage children to read in the car. Older children could read to the younger ones or one adult could read while the other drives.

Older Children and Reading

Getting your older child interested in reading is more difficult. You have television, Nintendo and time with friends to compete with. The key to gaining older children's interest is letting them choose what they read. At this age, series books, books about teenagers, science fiction, love stories and magazines are popular.
Children also love books about strange, but true facts and events like those found in the Guinness Book of World Records. These may not be your choice for fine literary reading, but if it is what your child like and it's not completely inappropriate, let him read.

Reading is important for building your child's vocabulary. From the ages 8 through 17, children learn about 3,000 words a year; most, incidentally, while reading books and other materials. In other words, the more they read, the more they know.

Parents and Reading

Make a habit of reading yourself. It is important to let your children see you reading and they will begin to view reading as part of your family's culture and routine. Talk with them about the things you read. Often there are stories in the newspaper and magazines that you read which may be of interest to everyone in the family. These make for great discussions over dinner. If you have difficulty reading, don't be afraid or ashamed to do something about it. It's never too late to improve your reading skills. Contact your local community college for information about how to enroll in adult education classes.

School Readiness

Birth to 1 Year

What to Expect

Babies grow and change dramatically during their first year.

  • They begin to develop some control over their bodies.
  • They learn to hold up their heads; roll over; sit up; crawl; stand up; and, in some cases, walk.
  • They become aware of themselves as separate from others.
  • They learn to look at their hands and toes and play with them.
  • They learn to cry when parents leave, and they recognize their name.
  • They communicate and develop language skills. First babies cry and make throaty noises. Later they babble and say "mama" and "dada". Then they make lots of sounds and begin to name a few close people and objects.
  • They play games. First they play with their hands. Later they show an interest in toys, enjoy "putting in and taking out" games, and eventually carry around or hug dolls or stuffed toys.
  • They relate to others. First they respond to adults more than to other babies. Later they notice other babies but tend to treat them like objects instead of people. Then they pay attention when other babies cry.

What They Need

Babies require:

  • A loving caregiver who can respond to their cries and gurgles;
  • Someone who gets to know their special qualities;
  • Someone to keep them safe and comfortable;
  • Opportunities to move about and practice new physical skills; Safe objects to look at, bat, grab, bang, pat, roll, and examine;
  • Safe play areas;
  • Opportunities to hear language and to make sounds.

Developing Trust

Newborn babies need to become attached to at least one person who provides security and love. This first and most basic emotional attachment is the start for all human relationships. Feeling your touch, hearing your voice, and enjoying the comfort of physical closeness all help a baby to develop trust.

What you'll need:

  • loving arms and music.
  • Include happy rituals in your baby's schedule. For example, at bedtime, sing the same song every night, rock her, or rub her tummy.
  • Pick up your crying baby promptly. Try to find out what's wrong. Is she hungry? Wet? Bored? Too hot? Crying is your baby's way of communicating. By comforting her you send the message that language has a purpose and that someone wants to understand.
  • Gently move your newborn's arms and legs. Or tickle her lightly under the chin or on the tummy. When she starts to control her head, lie on the floor and put your baby on your chest. Let her reach for your nose, or grab your hair. Talk to her and name each thing she touches.
  • Sing and cuddle with your baby. Hold her snuggled in your arms or lying face up on your lap with her head on your knees. Make sure the head of a newborn is well-supported. Sing a favorite lullaby. To entertain your baby, sing an active song. If you don't know lullabies or rhymes for babies, make up your own!
  • Dance with your baby. To soothe her when she's upset, put her head on your shoulder and hum softly or listen to recorded music as you glide around the room. To amuse her when she's cheerful, try a bouncy tune.

Touch and See

Babies are hard at work whenever they are awake, trying to learn all about the world. To help them learn, they need many different safe things to play with and inspect. Objects you have around your home offer many possibilities.

You'll need:

  • A splinter-free wooden spoon with a face drawn on the bowl;
  • Different textured fabrics, such as velvet, cotton, corduroy, terry cloth, satin, burlap, and fake fur;
  • An empty toilet paper or paper towel roll;
  • Pots, pans, and lids;
  • An old purse or basket with things to put in and take out;
  • Measuring cups and spoons;
  • Boxes and plastic containers;
  • Large spools;
  • Noisemakers (rattles, keys, a can filled with beans).

What to do:

  • Put one or two of the items listed above in a safe play area where your baby can reach them (more than tow may confuse him).
  • Let your baby look at, touch, and listen to a variety of objects. Ones that are brightly colored, have interesting textures, and make noises are particularly good. Be sure that any item you give your baby will be safe in his mouth, since that's where it probably will end up.
  • Use these items for all age groups. Many of them will continue to interest toddlers and older preschoolers. For example, babies love to inspect a paper towel roll. But with a 4-year-old, it can become a megaphone for talking or singing, a telescope, or a tunnel for a toy car.
  • Babies begin to understand how the world works when they see, touch, hold, and shake things. Inspecting things also helps them coordinate and strengthen their hand muscles.

Young Children

What does it mean to be ready for school?

There is no one quality or skill that children need to do well in school, but a combination of things contributes to success. These include good health and physical well-being, social and emotional maturity, language skills, an ability to solve problems and think creatively, and general knowledge about the world.

As you go about helping your child develop in each of these areas, remember: Children develop at different rates, and most children are stronger in some areas than in others. Remember, too, that being ready for school depends partly on what the school expects. One school may think it's very important for children to sit quietly and know the alphabet. Another may believe it's more important for children to get long well with others. Children who match the school's expectations may be considered better prepared. You may want to visit your child's school to learn what the principal and teachers expect and discuss any areas of disagreement.

While schools may have different priorities, most educators agree that the following areas are important for success.

Good Health and Physical Well-Being

Young children need nutritious food, enough sleep, safe places to play, and regular medical care. These things help children get a good start in life and lessen the chances that they will later have serious health problems or trouble learning.

  • Good health for children begins before birth with good prenatal care. Visit a doctor or medical clinic throughout your pregnancy. In addition, eat nourishing foods, avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other harmful drugs, and get plenty of rest.
  • Pregnant women who don't take good care of themselves increase their chances of giving birth to children who are low in birth weight, making them more likely to have lifelong health and learning problems; develop asthma; are mentally retarded; develop speech and language problems; have short attention spans; or become hyperactive. If your child already has some of these problems, it is a good idea to consult with your doctor, your school district, or community agencies as soon as possible. Many communities have free or inexpensive services to help you and your child.
  • Good health for children continues after birth with a balanced diet. School-aged children can concentrate better in class if they eat nutritionally balanced meals. These should include breads, cereals, and other grain products; fruits; vegetables; meat, poultry, fish and alternatives (such as eggs and dried beans and peas); and milk, cheese, and yogurt. Avoid too many fats and sweets.
  • Federal, state, and local aid is available for parents who need food in order to make sure their children get a balanced diet. For information and to find out if you are eligible, contact your local or state health department.
  • Preschoolers require regular medical and dental checkups and immunizations. It's important to find a doctor or a clinic where children can receive routine health care as well as special treatment if they are sick or injured. Children need immunizations beginning around the age of 2 months to prevent nine diseases: measles, mumps, German measles (rubella), diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b), polio, and tuberculosis. These diseases can have serious effects on physical and mental development. Regular dental checkups should begin at the latest by the age of 3.
  • Preschoolers need opportunities to exercise and develop physical coordination. To learn to control large muscles, children need to throw balls, run, jump, climb, and dance to music. To learn to control small muscles, particularly in the hands and fingers, they need to color with crayons, put together puzzles, use blunt-tipped scissors, and zip jackets. In kindergarten, they will build upon these skills. Parents of youngsters with disabilities should see a doctor as soon as a problem is suspected. Early intervention can help these children develop to their full potential.

Social and Emotional Preparation

  • Young children are often very excited about entering school. But when they do, they can face an environment that's different from what they are used to at home or even in preschool. In kindergarten, they will need to work well in large groups and get along with new adults and other children. They will have to share the teacher's attention with other youngsters. The classroom routines may also be different.
  • Most 5-year-olds do not start school with good social skills or much emotional maturity. These take time and practice to learn. However, children improve their chances for success in kindergarten if they have had opportunities to begin developing these qualities: independence, motivation, curiosity, persistence, cooperation, self-control, and empathy.
  • Parents, even more than child care centers and good schools, help children develop these skills. Here are some ways you can help your child acquire these positive qualities:
  • Youngsters must believe that, no matter what, someone will look out for them. Show that you care about your children. They thrive when they have parents or other caregivers who are loving and dependable. Small children need attention, encouragement, hugs, and plenty of lap time. Children who feel loved are more likely to be confident.
  • Set a good example. Children imitate what they see others do and what they hear others say. When parents exercise and eat nourishing food, children are more likely to do so. When parents treat others with respect, their children probably will, too. If parents share things, their children will learn to be thoughtful of others' feelings.
  • Have a positive attitude toward learning and toward school. Children come into this world with a powerful need to discover and to explore. Parents need to encourage this curiosity if children are to keep it. Enthusiasm for what children do ("You're drawn a great picture!") helps to make them proud of their achievements.
  • Children also become excited about school when their parents show excitement. As your child approaches kindergarten, talk to him about school. Talk about the exciting activities in kindergarten, such as going on field trips and making fun art projects. Be enthusiastic as you describe what he will learn in school -- how to read and measure and weigh things, for example.
  • Provide opportunities for repetition. It takes practice to crawl, pronounce new words, or drink from a cup. Children don't get bored when they repeat things. Instead, repeating things until they are learned helps youngsters build the confidence needed to try something new.
  • Use appropriate discipline. All children need to have limits set for them. Children whose parents give firm but loving discipline are generally more skilled socially and do better in school than children whose parents set too few or too many limits.

Some Tips

  • Direct children's activities, but don't make unnecessary restrictions or try to dominate. Offer reasons when asking your child to do something (for example, say, "Please move the toy truck off the stairs so no one falls over it" -- not, "Do it because I said so.")
  • Listen to your children to find out how they feel and whether they need any special support.
  • Show love and respect when you are angry. Criticize a child's behavior but not the child (for example, say, "I love you, but it is not okay for you to draw pictures on the walls. I get angry when you do that.")
  • Help your children make choices and work out problems (you might ask your 4-year-old, "What can we do to keep Kevin from knocking over your blocks?")
  • Be positive and encouraging. Praise your child for a job well done. Smiles and encouragement go much further to shape good behavior than harsh punishment.
  • Let children do many things by themselves. Young children need to be closely watched, but they learn to be independent and to develop confidence by doing tasks such as dressing themselves and putting their toys away. It's also important to let them make choices, rather than deciding everything for them. Remember to give them a choice only when there really is one.
  • Encourage your children to play with other children and be with adults who are not family members. Preschoolers need these social opportunities to learn to see the point of view of others. Young children are more likely to get along with teachers and classmates if they already have had experiences with different adults and children.

Language and General Knowledge

Kindergarteners participate in many activities that require them to use language and to solve problems. Children who can't or don't communicate easily may have problems in school. There are many things you can do to help children learn to communicate, solve problems, and develop an understanding of the world.

You can:

  • Give your child opportunities to play. Play is how children learn. It is the natural way for them to explore, to become creative, and to develop academic and social skills. Play helps them learn to solve problems -- for example, a wagon tips over, and children must figure out how to get it upright again. Children learn about geometry, shapes, and balance when they stack up blocks. Playing with others helps children learn how to negotiate.
  • Talk to your children, beginning at birth. Babies need to hear your voice. A television or the radio can't take the place of your voice because it doesn't respond to coos and babbles. The more you talk to you baby, the more he will have to talk about understanding of language and of the world. Everyday activities, such as eating dinner or taking a bath, provide opportunities to talk, sometimes in detail, about what's happening and respond to your child. "First let's stick the plug in the drain. Now we'll turn on the water. I see you want to put your rubber duck in the bathtub. That's a good idea. Look, it's yellow, just like the rubber duck on 'Sesame Street.'"
  • Listen to your children. Children have their own special thoughts and feelings, joys and sorrows, hopes and fears. As their language skills develop, encourage them to talk. Listening is the best way to learn what's on their minds and to discover what they know and don't know, and how they think and learn. It also shows children that their feelings and ideas are valuable.
  • Answer questions and ask questions, particularly ones that require more than a "yes" or "no" response. While walking in a park, for example, most 2- and 3-yearolds will stop to pick up leaves. You might point out how the leaves are the same, and how they are different. With older children you might ask, "What else grows on trees?" Questions can help children learn to compare and classify things. Answer your children's questions thoughtfully and, whenever possible, encourage them to answer their own questions. If you don't know the answer to a question, say so. Then together with your child try to find the answer.
  • Read aloud to your children every day. Reading can begin with babies and continue throughout the preschool years. Even though they don't understand the story or the poem, reading together gives children a chance to learn about language, enjoy the sound of your voice, and be close to you. You don't have to be an excellent reader for your child to enjoy this time together. You may also want to take your child to a local library that offers special story hours.
  • Make reading materials available. Children develop an interest in language and in reading much sooner if they have books and other reading materials around their homes.
  • Monitor television viewing. Next to parents, television may be our children's most influential teacher. Good television can introduce children to new worlds and promote learning, but poor or too much TV can be harmful.
  • Be realistic about your children's abilities and interests. Children usually do best in school when parents estimate their abilities correctly. Parents must set high standards and encourage their preschoolers to try new things. Children who aren't challenged become bored. But ones who are pushed along too quickly, or are asked to do things that don't interest them, can become frustrated and unhappy.
  • Try to keep your children from being labeled. Labels such as "dumb" or "stupid" have a powerful effect on a child's confidence and school performance. Remember to praise your child for a job well done.
  • Provide opportunities to do and see things. The more varied the experiences that children have, the more they learn about the world. No matter where you live, your community can provide new experiences. Go for walks in your neighborhood, or go places on the bus. Visit museums, libraries, zoos, and other community resources. If you live in the city, spend a day in the country (or if you live in the country, spend a day in the city). Let your children hear and make music, dance, and paint. Let them participate in activities that help to develop their imaginations and let them express their ideas and feelings.


Parents and Their Children's Self-Esteem

Praise your children. Show your children that you believe in them by focusing on what they do right and well. Focus on your child's strengths and make sure to show your appreciation. Try saying, "You can do it" or "I have faith in you." Focus on the positive. Use positive comments and focus on what your child does well.

Positive comments will generate more positive behavior. Try to hold back negative words when praising your child. Wait until another time to point out what he/she could have done better or differently. When combined, negative comments have a greater impact than positive ones. Don't say, "You did a lousy job when picking up." Instead say, "Thanks for picking up," and next time you can show him/her how to do it better.

Respect your child. Everyone is special and unique, so do not compare your children with other siblings or friends. Comparing your children to others will make them believe that they are not as good as others and make them feel bad about themselves. Avoid saying, "Your brother always gets good grades, why can't you?"

Spend time with your children. Share activities with your children and get to know them and what is important to them. This will show a child that you consider him/her special and will help you develop a stronger relationship. Try doing activities that you and your child both enjoy. Try packing lunch together the night before school, playing a game, preparing dinner, or discovering a new activity. On weekends, plan walks in the park, picnics, or other outdoor activities.

Become involved in your child's education. Tell your children that school and education are important. Check the progress of your child at school and talk about schoolwork with them everyday. Ask questions like: "What happened at school today?" or "What are you learning?", and "Do you like it?" When you listen to their answers, your children will feel like they are being supported and that what they do at school is important.

Your child is an important member of the family. It is important that children feel that they contribute and have a sense of belonging in your family. Assigning responsibilities to children makes them feel helpful and a part of the family. They will feel good about themselves because they are making a useful contribution to the family.

Talk about the future. It is important to share your expectations with your children – the things you want them to accomplish and where you want them to go in life. Talk of things they want for themselves and what you want for them.
Talk about your children's interests and goals in life and the steps they need to take to achieve them. Help your children reach their goals, stand behind them, offering support and encouragement.

Communication is very important. Talking, asking questions, and listening to your children are all necessary because they allow your children to feel that their opinions matter and they give you an opportunity to develop a positive relationship with them.

Listen to your children and respect their ideas and thoughts; this will give them confidence and will teach them to respect other peoples' opinions. Take the time to share your own views, also.

Shy Children

Some parents worry that their shy child seems fearful. Fearfulness is not always the reason for the child's timid behavior. Often it is a matter of timing. Remember, there are times when every child feels shy.

One child may be quick to explore new things, like the toddler who races through the shopping mall to find out what is up ahead. Another prefers to explore the mall slowly from the safety of a parent's arms. Both personalities are normal.
The shy child feels unsure about new people and situations and needs time. Your child may hold back, watching and waiting before joining an activity. If pushed, your child resists and clings to you. This behavior can be very frustrating for a parent.

There aren't ways to force a shy child to become more outgoing. Forcing causes more fear and s/he will only become MORE shy! When your shy child learns that you respect his/her "way," the child feels comfortable exploring. The more often you allow the time needed to discover new things, the less stressful exploring is and s/he feels more self confident.

Respecting your child's pace allows him-her to feel more control. A child who feels s/he can control the pace, feels less fearful and develops self-confidence. When you push a child to go faster, s/he resists and shows fearful behavior like hiding and clinging.

Be a gentle cheerleader. Show signs that you accept your child's way. Your child watches you to see if you feel the same way s/he does about new people or new experiences. Smile and stand nearby. When you feel anxious for your child to be outgoing, your child sees your expression and thinks that you are feeling afraid too!

Pointers for Parents

  • Do give your child plenty of time to adapt to new situations.
  • Do not force your child to be out-going.
  • Let your child hold your hand for extra security.
  • Take your child's behavior in stride.
  • You be confident to show your child how to feel secure.
  • Avoid describing your child as being shy.
  • Use positive words like, "Johnny is a very good observer."
  • Be patient and allow your child time to develop self-confidence

Sibling Conflicts

Sibling struggles are a normal part of childhood. Brothers and sisters naturally compete for the attention and the favor of the most important people in their lives - their parents. They also struggle over space, toys and each other's behavior.

The wise parent avoids getting involved unless the family rules are broken. When fighting is annoying to you, it’s fine to tell the children to fight quietly or in a place away from you. Sibling arguments can get out of hand! When fighting becomes too destructive or physical, you must step in to enforce rules about no hurting, no name calling and no property damage.

If you do step into the battle, have each child take one or two minutes to describe the problem without interruptions. Encourage your children to listen to each other and if they still don't understand the issue, reframe it for them. "You're mad because you think Sam should share with you." (Remember that sharing is something we choose to do and a child should be allowed to decide about sharing.)

Resist offering your ideas about solving the problem. Children can settle differences about who started the argument, who is right, and usually can find their own solutions.

Show your children how to disagree and talk about strong feelings. "You feel very angry. Tell your brother why you feel so angry." Praise both children as they begin to talk about the problem. Time-out may be needed to stop the fighting and start the talking.

If you must problem solve, do not reward either child. Settle arguments about a toy by taking it away. End fussing over who sits in the front seat - no one rides in the front. Fights in public places are not acceptable. Stop the fighting and tell your children that their behavior is annoying everyone nearby. Be prepared to leave if they don't stop fighting.

Pointers for Parents

  • Get involved in sibling battles only if behavior gets out of hand.
  • Stop fights if hurting, name calling or destructive behavior happens.
  • Protect each child's personal possessions, privacy and friendships.
  • Praise cooperative behavior. Compliment them for helping each other and settling arguments appropriately
  • Sibling struggles offer chances to learn about getting along with others and learn positive ways to handle disagreements.

Temper Tantrums

Temper Tantrums: A Normal Part of Toddlerhood

Temper tantrums are normal in the life of a toddler. Temper expresses anger and tantrum releases frustration. Tantrums are dramatic fits and upsetting for those nearby. Yet, the tantrum let's your child release powerful feelings and settle down.

Reasons why children have tantrums may vary. Toddlers are working hard to have the world understand them and they can get VERY UPSET when they don't get what they want or feel they need. How often and how strong tantrums happen is affected by personality.

Tantrums occur most often with tired or hungry children. Using a loud voice or threatening punishment may actually cause tantrums to worsen. A good plan is to prevent tantrums when possible. Offering choices often helps your child stay calm.

The goal for parents is to teach their child about dealing with anger. Learning takes time and practice. Try hard to remember that toddlers can rarely stop their fit. You can almost never go wrong to ignore the tantrum and it is best to NEVER give into a tantrum. Remember, as your toddler matures tantrums occur less often.

Pointers for Parents

  • Teach your child harmless ways to handle his/her anger such as: punching a pillow, scribbling to "draw a picture of your mad", or running outside really fast.
  • Help your child learn to use words to tell you why s/he is angry.
  • Don't skip naps. Plan trips away from home around naps and make bedtime the same time every night.
  • Hungry toddlers can ROAR! Carry nutritious snacks when you go out. Offer them before behavior gets out of hand.
  • Don't say, "maybe" to avoid a fight. Maybe means yes to a toddler and just postpones a fight.
  • Reduce the need to say, "No!" by child-proofing your home and setting few, but necessary rules.
  • Say "yes" when you can. Saying yes at the beginning makes it easier to gain cooperation and is better than giving in later. Example: "Yes, it would be fun to have ice cream for breakfast! Today we're having toast or cereal with banana."
  • Stay calm and ignore the fit until it passes

Time Out

Time-out is a tool parents can use to help a child get control of his/her behavior.

Time-out can give a child the chance to calm down. Generally, one minute for each year of age up to a maximum of 5 minutes is a good guideline. Time-out should not be used with children under 2 years of age.

Try other ways to help an upset child settle down before using time-out. One example is by distracting your child from the situation, getting him/her involved in something else.

Give choices; that might solve the problem. For misbehavior, try ignoring. When a child doesn't get attention for the misbehavior, sometimes he/she will stop. There will be times you try to help your child calm down but s/he continues to misbehave or to act out, such as having a "fit." Then you can use time-out. If time out is used too often or is used as a type of punishment it will not be effective.

Using time-out means putting the child in a place where s/he can settle down without hurting others, then talking with the child about the behavior.

Pointers for Parents

  • Time out should not be used before a child is 2 years old.
  • Use time out when your child is getting out of control. Examples: aggressive, harmful or dangerous conduct or behavior that cannot be ignored such as throwing or destroying things, or playing too roughly.
  • Time-out should be in a quiet place where your child can calm down and you can monitor them.
  • When the child is calm, talk about what went wrong. Keep it simple. Don’t lecture.
  • Don't forget to watch the time and never leave the child in time-out for more than a few minutes.
  • After talking, give your child a hug and express confidence in their ability to deal with the situation better in the future.