(eBook) Super Nanny Secrets

Supernanny Secrets How to be a Better Parent, using the Ideas of the Supernanny (Discounted Edition) © Maria Lloyd, MFT 2005

Transcript of (eBook) Super Nanny Secrets

Page 1: (eBook) Super Nanny Secrets

Supernanny Secrets

How to be a Better Parent,

using the Ideas of the Supernanny

(Discounted Edition)

© Maria Lloyd, MFT 2005

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Law Enforcement Officer?

If you are a parent you are all of the above and more. It’s no wonder that things

can get tough at times!

Children are not born with manuals and they are not robots. Raising your child is

likely to be both the single hardest thing you have ever done - but also the most


As a parent you are almost certainly the main role model for your children. They

have no preconceived ideas as to what is right or wrong. They learn from

watching us as parents. This is an extremely daunting thought; what we say and

do will have an impact on our children that is long-lasting. Just remember that

love and attention go a long way. Never underestimate the power of a big hug!

That said, parents are human too; we have faults and we are not always in

control. Fact. Just as you lose control, it appears that every other parent in the

world is blissfully happy with everything in its place. This is not the case.

Difficulties encountered vary greatly from parent to parent, child to child and age

to age. More common problems include: sleeping, eating, tantrums and potty

training, but this is by no means the end of it!

From time-outs to sibling rivalry, this invaluable guide uses modern techniques to

help steer you through the stormy waters of being a parent.

Because parents are busy people, we have added a 2-minute tip sheet at the

end of each chapter to give you the help you need, at a glance.


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SUPERNANNY Supernanny Background ‘Supernanny’, Jo Frost, shot to fame recently in the television series

‘Supernanny’ and ‘Nanny 911’. Her follow-up book, also entitled Supernanny with

its highly effective theories on parenting has captured the imagination of parents,

in the UK and further afield. Jo Frost is a 34-year-old single woman, originally

from London, UK. She has no children and no formal childcare qualifications – so

what makes her so successful?

Jo puts her success down to, “her own wonderful childhood in London and 15

years of bossing other people’s kids”. Despite her lack of formal childcare

training, Jo has an unfaltering record for resolving families’ problems, both in the

UK and US. It is her refreshing and down-to-earth approach that has made her a

household name. It is estimated, for example, that around 8 percent of American

households regularly tune in to see the nanny in action!


Jo believes in consistency, firmness and consequences. She states, “Parents

tolerate a lot instead of implementing a routine, boundaries and warnings”.

Supernanny has a simple yet effective approach, based on action and

consequence. With routines and resolve, Jo believes that she can achieve

almost anything! Here are some of her top tips and rules:

No spanking from parents

No hitting, punching, sneaky nudging or slapping from children

Use good manners

No yelling, from anyone

Everyone should listen to each other

Everyone should speak respectfully and politely

Children do chores

Rewards must be earned

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Parents must set boundaries and stick to them

Parents must show a united front

Rules must be enforced, consistently

Parents should share parental duties

Everyone is responsible for their own stuff

Sugary snacks must be rationed (and locked away!).

The Show

Before Supernanny swoops, she observes the family carefully, for a day or two,

to ascertain the issues and true dynamics of the group. As soon as Jo enters the

home, she presents the family with a schedule and a ‘naughty mat’. Parents are

shown how to set boundaries and how to enforce them.

Jo herself says that the children often rebel within the first few days of her

entering the family home; however, by the end of the two-week period significant

changes are evident. Supernanny keeps in contact with the families that she has

helped and states, “to this day, the families are still happy with the turnaround”.

Supernanny believes that, with her help, the families stand to make long-term

gains – provided that they take responsibility for continuing with her routines and


Any final words of wisdom from the Supernanny?

“You place a warning, have a consequence and see the change”.

“Children are children, parents are parents”.

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15 years experience with children

No formal qualifications, learnt from hands-on experience

Believes in positive re-enforcement

Children should be given warnings

Consequences should be followed

Stick to routines

Offer love and affection to each member of the family.

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Expert advice can sometimes seem confusing, with so many theorists all offering

their unique methods and styles of parenting. What we have to bear in mind,

when we’re tearing our hair out in desperation over our ‘impossible’ offspring, is

that the experts, with certain notable exceptions, have had the luxury of

developing their proven techniques from an objective standpoint, not through the

clouded vision of a panicking parent desperate for immediate solutions!

The secret of how to benefit from the wealth of experience that the experts have

to offer is to pick and mix, as it were. No single theorist will have all the answers;

it’s up to you to develop the ideas that you, as a parent, feel instinctively will work

best for your child. In recent years, so many theorists have come to our rescue

with a deluge of practical tips and parenting solutions; most experts have a

proven track record of parenting styles that really work. The following famous

names are just a few examples of experts who have made a huge contribution,

over the years, to harmonious family life. There are many more experts out there,

each with a great deal to offer.

Gina Ford Fondly referred to as “the queen of routine”, Gina Ford is best known for her

practical advice on establishing routines and identifying and responding to the

changing patterns and demands of the growing child. Her definitive titles on

parenting include “Contented Little Baby Book”, “Potty Training in One Week”

and “The Complete Sleep Guide for Contented Babies and Toddlers”.

Dr. Penelope Leach

The child-centered, positive discipline approach, feeding on-demand type of

advice offered by the British psychologist, Dr. Penelope Leach, hit the headlines

back in the 1970s, with her books “Babyhood”, followed by “Your Baby and

Child”, which was translated into several languages. Her theories have been

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adopted by parents, across the globe, and updated to reflect the rapid changes in

society and the new demands and challenges facing today’s parents. More

recently, her book “Children First: What Our Society Must Do – And Is Not Doing

– For Our Children” takes a broader look at the challenges facing the modern-

day parent. Her advice has remained, over the years, both practical and thought

provoking; and her stance on the stay-at-home mother modified considerably to

address the realities of parenting, today.

Dr. Benjamin Spock

It has been argued that the “firm but fair” techniques advocated by Supernanny

and parenting guru, Jo Frost, as well as by Dr. Tanya Byron of the popular BBC

series, “Little Angels”, actually hark back to the child rearing theories of Dr

Spock. When his book “Baby and Childcare” was first published in 1946, Dr

Spock was hailed as the pioneer of modern parenting, of what was considered in

those days to be “permissive parenting”. Spock’s theories, however, have stood

the test of time, and are today witnessing a revival in the context of allowing

children to develop their own strengths through parents supporting,

understanding and trusting their children.

T. Berry Brazelton

Texan born pediatrician Dr. Brazelton, is another enduringly popular expert on

parenting. He is recognized, worldwide for his practical, no-nonsense style tips

and advice for parents struggling to raise their children in times of stress,

isolation, in a rapidly changing world. Dr Brazelton is particularly helpful for the

working parent. The main focus of his approach to parenting is that if parents

understand why their children are behaving in a certain way, they will be better

equipped to cope with behavioral problems, as they arise. Dr Brazelton has

written numerous books on the subject of parenting including, “Touchpoints –

Your Child’s Emotional and Behavioral Development”, “Infants and Mothers” and

“The Irreducible Needs of Children: What Every Child Must Have to Grow, Learn,

and Flourish”.

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Dr. Bill and Martha Sears Having raised eight children, Dr Bill Sears, a pediatrician for more than thirty

years, and his wife Martha, a registered nurse and childbirth educator, have

devoted their lives to helping parents make sense of how to bring up their

children to be happy self-sufficient individuals. Dr Sears is probably best known

for the parenting technique called “Attachment Parenting” – “a style of caring for

your infant that brings out the best in the baby and the best in the parents”.

Lillian, Deb, Stella and Yvonne Together they are known as Nanny 911. This team of experienced nannies all

have a slightly different approach to childcare. They are living proof that not one

single approach is going to be effective, in all circumstances. Lillian is the most

experienced and takes a grandmotherly approach, Debs relies on sense of

humour to win children round, Stella and Yvonne are the disciplinarians of the

team and deal with unruly children using structure and firmness.

Despite their different approaches, all nannies set rules for their families and use

techniques such as time out and positive reinforcement. Their approach is largely

similar to that of Supernanny, Jo Frost.

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When it comes to parenting there is always more than one opinion

No one expert has all the answers

What works for one parent may be a disaster for the next

Gina Ford believes that routines are fundamental

Dr Penelope Leach believes in positive discipline

Dr Benjamin Spock believes in “firm but fair”

T. Berry Brazelton believes that it is important to understand why children

behave the way they do

Dr. Bill and Martha Sears, a husband and wife team, who focus on raising

self-reliant children

Lillian, Deb, Stella and Yvonne (team Nanny 911) each has their own

approaches ranging from firm to supportive; together they cover all the

potential areas of parenting.

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Recognizing your child’s milestones can really help when trying to decide how to

deal with behavioral issues. Capacity for understanding can vary dramatically,

among children, within the space of a short period of time, sometimes only a

matter of weeks. Dealing with a defiant 2-year old requires a very different

approach to dealing with a defiant 8-year old!

No two children, however, are the same and parents should be cautious of

following age guidelines, too closely. It is not uncommon for a child to have

advanced physical skills, but to be less advanced in other areas such as talking

or reasoning. Take time to understand your children and deal with them as

individuals, as you feel appropriate. Techniques aimed at a 2-year old may work

very well with a 4-year old, so don’t be a slave to the letter of parenting law!

Under 2 years old

A baby or young toddler knows little about self-restraint and control. Anyone who

has witnessed a 9-month old trying to feed himself will be only too aware of the

frustration involved! A child under the age of 2 has not established the basics of

cause and effect. He does not realize that he may hurt himself if he jumps from

the top of the stairs.

Dealing with a child of this age requires you to focus on prevention, distraction

and comforting.

2 years old

We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘terrible twos’ – now, this is not a fallacy. A 2-year old

is capable of overwhelming emotions. He has the desire to be independent but

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lacks the capacity to keep himself (or others) out of danger. It is the powerful

urge to explore his surroundings in his own way that leads to the infamous

‘temper tantrum’.

Dealing with a child of this age requires above all patience. Help him to

understand his feelings by encouraging him to vocalize these thoughts. Make

sure that he understands what you expect of him; give clear requests and

incentives, if necessary. Avoid a battle of wills, where possible, by offering him

choices. This enables him to save face, feel independent and yet also allows you

to direct his actions.

3 years old

Independence is key for your 3-year old! He is master of his own world. With the

tantrum stage largely behind him, he is now much keener to please, but don’t

count on consistency! Tantrums may well be replaced by sulking – quieter but

not necessarily easier. Consequences are now much more readily understood;

he understands that bad behavior can result in punishment.

A child of 3 appreciates routine and reacts well to being included in family life.

Explain simple chores and reward his efforts. A 3-year old is also capable of

benefiting from time-out. However, this should be confined to short periods of

approximately 3 minutes. Distraction is still the best course of action!

4 years old

A 4-year old can concentrate for longer periods and with greater intensity. While

it may feel like a relief that the tantrums are subsiding, your 4-year old will have a

much clearer idea of what he wants. This can result in greater whining and

sulking as well as other attention seeking behaviors. Lying and exaggerating are

common in a child of 4; don’t dwell on this behavior – it will pass.

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Control is fundamental to your 4-year old. Allow him time to adjust to changes,

tell him in advance what is happening. Feeling that he is part of the decision

process is fundamental to preventing him from losing a sense of control.

5 years old

His understanding of consequences is now well established. He is able to carry

out simple chores and follow basic rules. He is better able to control his

frustrations, although not getting his own way may still lead to temper outbursts.

A child of 5 is able to look outside himself. Encourage this by asking your child

how he thinks his actions affect others. Consider implementing a behavior

management system such as charts with stars. Make rewards small but frequent,

as a child of 5 is generally unable to appreciate the benefits of saving rewards!

Over 6 years old

As his social and academic world is expanding so too is his maturity. He is able

to reason and exercise a higher degree of self-control. Encourage this with

appropriate rewards. Offer choices, where possible. This will help encourage his

feelings of independence. Give your child verbal reminders for desirable behavior

such as good manners and politeness.

General Routines

When deciding on what sort of routine to set for your child, several issues need

to be taken into consideration. Age, is of course of vital importance, however

other issues you may wish to consider include:

Age of any siblings

Whether your child is in day-care part- or full-time

Requirements of other family members

Your child’s personality.

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As a general rule, it is the parents’ ability to demonstrate consistency that wins

with children. So, once you’ve decided on a routine, stick to it! Creating a routine,

is one of the first things that Supernanny, Jo Frost insists upon, as soon as she

begins to work with a new family.

Try these tips to help you achieve a routine that works for you:

A child under 3 will often nap at least once, during the day. Ensure that this

time is kept as regular as possible and that the sequence of events

running up to the nap are consistent.

If possible allow an extra half an hour, every morning, to get yourself up and

the house organized. A few moments preparing breakfast and getting

clothes ready can mean the difference between a good and bad start to

the day.

When your child is of school age, give him simple chores to do in the morning

to help. For example, encourage him to put his own socks and shoes on,

in good time.

If your child is dawdling in the morning, play a game where you put a song on

and challenge your headstrong youngster to finish dressing by the time

the song has finished.

Prepare whatever you can, the night before.

As a child grows older, he requires less sleep (although this rarely drops

below 9 hours). Alter your child’s bedtime to ensure that he gets up at an

appropriate time for your routine.

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Every child is different and these rules are only a guideline

A child under 2 does not understand cause and effect

A 2 year-old needs choices to help prevent temper tantrums

A 3 year-old benefits from distraction; time outs will start to be effective at

this age

A 4-year old can concentrate better and has a vivid imagination; watch out

for the lies

A 5 year-old is capable of taking others feelings into consideration

A 6 year-old can exercise some self-control; verbal reminders are key

Alter your routines as your child’s age changes.

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Children like to feel comforted and safe. Establishing a routine that allows your

child to feel that he understands what is happening, and what is about to happen,

will result in fewer tantrums and less sulks.

What works for one child may not work for another; experiment and practice until

you find the right combination for you and your child. Here are some suggestions

to get you started:

Stay-at-home mom

Just because you are a stay-at-home mom and able to dedicate yourself to your

child, full time, does not mean that he should become a time tyrant! It is important

that he realizes, from an early age, that you have other things that need to be


A suitable routine may look something like this:

07:00 - 07:30 Get up and dressed, prepare breakfast

07:30 – 08:00 Get your child up and give him his breakfast

08:00 – 08:30 Wash and dress him and discuss the day ahead

08:30 – 09:30 Enjoy sharing the morning chores with your child

09:30 – 12:00 Visit the shops or park

12:00 – 1:00pm Lunch for both of you, prepare and tidy up together

1:00 – 2:30pm Quiet time or nap (depending on age)

2:30 – 3:30pm Snack time and play

3:30 – 5:00pm Play together (make sure that this is quieter play so that he

is calming down ready for bedtime

5:00 – 6:00pm Prepare and eat dinner

6:00 – 6:30pm Bath

6:30 – 7:00pm Book and cuddle

7:00pm Bedtime.

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Working mom

It’s a real challenge, getting yourself and your child ready to leave the house by a

set time, each morning. If there was one word that could summarize the working

mom’s approach to routine it would be, PREPARATION. Do everything that you

can do, in advance. Here’s an idea for a sample routine:

Night before: Prepare clothes and lunch (if needed) for both of you. Pack

any bags needed, in advance

06:00 – 06:30 Get yourself up and dressed, prepare breakfast

06:30 – 07:00 Enjoy breakfast together

07:00 – 07:30 Make sure that your child is washed and dressed

07:30 Leave for work / day care

5:30pm Return from work / day care

5:30 – 6:00pm Dinner

6:00 – 6:30pm Bath

6:30 – 7:00pm Book and cuddle

7:00pm Bedtime.

Work-from-home mom

Trying to entertain a toddler and earn a living, under the same roof can be

enough to test anyone’s patience! Adopt realistic expectations. It is not possible

for a child of 3 to understand, fully, that you need to work at specified times. If

your job requires you to make telephone calls at a certain point, everyday, it may

be worth considering timing these with your child’s quiet time. It may even be

possible to arrange for a friend or relative to take your child out for an hour,

during the day, to give you a chance to conduct business conversations without


A suitable routine may look a little like this:

07:00 - 07:30 Get up and dressed, prepare breakfast

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07:30 – 08:00 Get your child up and give him his breakfast

08:00 – 08:30 Wash and dress him and discuss the day ahead

08:30 – 09:00 Enjoy sharing a few simple morning chores with your child

09:00 – 10:30 Settle him with his favorite toys within your line of view, with

easy access, while you work

10:30 – 11:00 Take a break, snack and play together

11:00 – 12:30 Settle him with toys, again where you can keep an eye on

him, while you work

12:30 – 1:00pm Lunch for both of you, prepare and tidy up together

1:00 – 2:30pm Quiet time or nap (depending on age)

2:30 – 3:00pm Play together, outdoors, if the weather is fine

3:00 – 4:30pm Settle him with his toys, within sight, while you work

4:30 – 5:00pm Play together (make sure that this is a quieter type of play,

so that he calms down ready for bed)

5:00 – 6:00pm Prepare and eat dinner together

6:00 – 6:30pm Bath

6:30 – 7:00pm Book and cuddle

7:00pm Bedtime.

Where to find further advice

These routines are only suggestions. Every child is different. Some children are

happy to busy themselves alone for hours; others will barely leave your side for a


If you are struggling to establish a healthy routine, contact your health care

professional for further advice. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from other parents,

family and friends. When you feel like you’re surrounded by chaos, it is often

easy to overlook the simplest of solutions.

Changes to schedules Once you’ve mastered a day-to-day schedule the challenges of maintaining a

calm environment, when away from home, is the next step. In reality, this may

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involve taking the family on trips and holidays. Timings may not always fall in line

with your established routine. Here are some tips to help you deal with this type

of disruption:

Don’t underestimate your child. Children often react well to change and

will be happy to follow a new routine

If you are staying with family or friends, involve them in your routine and

tell them in advance the best time to do certain things

Generally, young children are at their best in the morning, so plan any

activities such as sightseeing for early in the day

Children do suffer from jet lag, but not to the same extent as adults. Allow

a couple of days for adjustment

Keep some items such as toys and blankets consistent

Try having your child’s favorite food available, this will help him realize that

not everything has changed

Don’t try to achieve too much. A young child will struggle to understand

why they have been in a car for several hours. Always stop regularly and

allow your child some ’time and space’

Allow yourself at least one ‘free’ day, once you return from your journey.

There is nothing worse than arriving back late, being conscious of work

the next morning and a child that won’t sleep!

Family Routine

It’s all well and good having a life that revolves around your child, but most

families have other tasks that they need to accomplish; it may be a career,

housework or simple relaxation. Don’t underestimate your needs as adults. A

happy parent is a real plus to any child!

All too often, we as parents, only ask for childcare help from family and friends

when we have something important that we have to attend to. Come to an

arrangement with a family member or another parent where you look after each

other’s children for a couple of hours a week, so that you can relax and please

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yourself. Resist the temptation to cram chores into these two hours, settle down

with a book, or go for a walk.

Respect the parent that works. It is very tempting to bombard the parent that has

been at work all day with the children, as soon as the breadwinner returns. Give

the returning parent 5 minutes to himself or herself so that they can settle back

into home life. Share the chores equally so that they get done twice as quickly.

This should help ensure that you both have time to yourselves, at the end of the


2 or more children

Organizing two or more children can present a real problem, particularly when

you are outnumbered! While techniques vary substantially depending on your

circumstances, here are a few key ideas to set you on the right track:

Encourage the older sibling to help with your youngest. This not only helps

with the chores but also builds your older child’s self-esteem

Give your children chores to do

Encourage your children to play with each other, choose games that are

suitable for the age group that you are trying to entertain

Resist the temptation to deal with the most demanding child most of the

time; this gives out the wrong message!

Explain to your children (particularly the older ones) that they have siblings

and that you cannot dedicate your time 100% to them

Make sure that each child has some dedicated one-on-one time with a

parent, daily. Try to keep the timing consistent so that your children each

know that they will have their time.

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Routine is important, no matter what other pressures you may be under

Children are adaptable and can cope with changes, if introduced gradually

Always make sure that you make time to spend with your child, on a one-to-

one basis

Try to keep the fundamentals, such as naps and food, constant

A working mom needs to do as much the night before as possible

A work-from-home mom needs to have a large selection of toys that their

child can play with, on his own

A stay-at-home mom needs to get out of the house as much as possible

Slow activities down, as bedtime approaches

When you have more than one child, deal with the least demanding first to

ensure equality

Give older children chores

State expectations clearly.

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Sleep may well be the area that causes most worry for parents. Not getting a

good night’s sleep can lead to irritability, inability to concentrate or reason and

general grumpiness (and that’s just the children!). Many parenting experts

attribute a wide range of behavioral problems in children to lack of sleep. It is

also very difficult, as parents, to reason objectively and to deal with situations,

calmly, when you’re feeling exhausted.

Problems with sleep can occur at any time, during childhood. It is often assumed

that problems with sleep are primarily the domain of babies; this is simply not the

case. A baby that sleeps peacefully through the night, during the early months,

might develop problems, later in life. On the plus side, it is never too late to

change your child’s sleep routines, thus ensuring that all concerned get a good

night’s sleep!

Sharing the family bed

Many families opt to have their little ones sleeping in the same bed as

themselves. Although there is no conclusive evidence as to the safety of this

method, many mothers find it a lot easier to have their baby ‘on tap’ when they

are breastfeeding. Children get used to this closeness and many parents actually

prefer to have their offspring close to them. In fact, Dr Sears believes that co-

sleeping is best for the whole family. There are some simple rules to follow when


Make sure that both parents agree that you should co-sleep

Consider getting a bigger bed so that everyone can have their space

NEVER share a bed with a child when you are under the influence of drugs or


Keep bedding to a minimum; children can get very hot, very quickly

If you have more than one child sharing with you, do not let them sleep next

to each other.

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It is likely, however, that there will come a time when you no longer want to

sleep-share with your child. The transition can prove traumatic for all involved, so

plan carefully and be prepared!


A child of less than 12 months will generally adapt easily to change and, with

perseverance, the transition should be problem-free. The most difficult age

however, for moving your child from the family bed is between the ages of 12 and

18 months. At this stage, you are unable to explain fully exactly what is

happening; however, a child of this age is sufficiently aware of his changed

circumstances to suffer from separation anxiety. Once your child reaches 18

months, it becomes much easier to explain to him what is happening and to get

him involved in the decision-making process.

From a personal point of view, consider making the change when you have a gap

in your schedule. It is likely that you will have disturbed sleep as you settle him

into his own room, and there is nothing worse than pacing the floor at 2 am

knowing that you have an important meeting in 6 hours’ time!


Explain to your child that he is now a big boy and able to have his own room and

bed. Get him involved and take him shopping for his new bedding, encourage

him to be excited about the new move. Here are some more tips and tricks:

Depending on how anxious your child appears, consider placing him in a

crib next to your bed, for a while, to break the process down a little and

make it seem less traumatic

Place an item of your worn clothing in the bed with your child, this will give

him a sense of comfort

Allow him to use his room for naps during the day, at first. This will

familiarize him with his room and make the change easier to achieve

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If your child is really defiant about sleeping in his new room, it may be

necessary to sleep in the room with him, for the first few nights

Be consistent and be firm, once you know he is safe, leave him for 5

minutes, even if he is crying. Return after 5 minutes, re-assure him and

then leave him again. Perseverance will eventually pay off!

Getting a child to bed

The nightly battle of getting your children to bed can be wearing for even the

most patient of parents. Fights at bedtime can start to take over your whole day

and become the time that you dread most. What is even more frustrating is that a

child can develop a desire to stay awake for most of the night, at any point! When

your toddler begins to exercise control, refusing to go to sleep is a prime way in

which he can truly apply his power. Here are some suggestions for reducing

stress at bedtime:

Gradually slow his activities down towards bedtime; begin this process at

least 2 hours, in advance

Remove distractions that increase his activity levels such as television or

video games

Allow him time to tell you about his day; if he goes to bed with worries, he

is more likely to be unable to fall asleep

Give your child plenty of warning before bed time, tell him that he has 5

minutes and then it is time for his bath

Keep the nightly ritual the same, every night, e.g. bath, story, bed.

Choice is a key issue when your child is trying to exercise control

Consider offering him options such as which book he would like to read,

before he goes to bed. This lets him feel that he has control but allows you

to achieve your goals

Do not let your child use delaying tactics; anticipate all usual requests, e.g.

by filling a glass of water in advance

Give him extra hugs to last all night

Tell him that you will be back in 5 minutes

Leave him and stay firm

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DO NOT return until 5 minutes has elapsed.

Getting a child to sleep through the night and to wake later

Now that your child is tucked up in bed, all you’ve got to do is keep him there!

Children start sleeping through the night, at different ages. This may depend on a

variety of factors such as birth weight and the amount of food that he eats, during

the day. There often comes a time, however, when your child will begin to wake,

during the night. While there is often no obvious reason for this, waking may be

attributed to the following circumstances:

A growth spurt

Teething difficulties

The arrival of a new sibling

Starting school or day care.

Most children wake several times, during the night, but are generally able to get

themselves back to sleep again. For those who fail to do so, here are some key


When your child cries at night, go in see what is needed, deal with it and


Avoid any eye contact and do not speak to him, it is important that he feels

no real benefit from waking up and screaming

Make sure that he is well fed and clean before going to bed, this way you

will know that he is not waking because he is hungry

Ensure that he is comfortable in his nightwear, so that he does not wake

up feeling itchy!

If your child is old enough to articulate his feelings, ask him why he wakes

up in the middle of the night and what you can do to help him sleep


Reward him when he sleeps well at night, give him a smiley face and let

him know how pleased you are with him

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Have a box of morning toys available for him to play with in his own room;

make sure that there is at least one special toy that he is happy to see

Even before he can tell the time you can tell him where the little and big

hands on the clock should be before he is allowed to wake up his parents

Make sure that you are pleased to see him when he does come bounding

into your room, at the required time; it is important that he feels it is

rewarding to wait!

Common Sleep Problems

Night terrors and nightmares

As his imagination begins to work overtime, it is likely that he will have

nightmares or night terrors. It can be a scary time for parents as the scream is

often sudden and piercing. When you hear a scream, go to his door and listen for

another 2 to 3 minutes. As a night terror is generally a short and intense event,

he often does not wake up fully; allowing him the chance to re-settle himself is

often the best option.

Nightmares, on the other hand, normally result in him waking up fully. These are

often linked to times when he is undergoing new experiences, such as starting

school or day care. Take time, at the end of every day, to talk to him. Ask him

what has happened and what he is thinking about. This may alleviate some of

the stress that he is feeling and may help his mind to stop racing. If he is worried

about monsters, take the time to show him that there are no monsters under the

bed or in the closet. Another good tactic is to allow him to bring his monster into

you and leave it with you – be careful, however, that he does not use this as an

opportunity to wander into your room in the middle of the night, once is more than



It is perfectly normal for young children to wet the bed at night, occasionally. If it

becomes a persistent problem, consider whether he is suffering from any stress

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or physical problems such as a urinary track infection. When your child wets the

bed, deal with it quickly and quietly. Do not make a big fuss and do not punish

him. While you should not punish him for bed wetting, there is no harm in

marking a smiley face chart with his successes. This is sometimes more for you

as parents than for your child, as it is motivating to see the dry nights increase as

the weeks go by. Keeping a record of ‘dry nights’ may also be useful for

identifying any pattern for wet nights, thus enabling you to avoid triggers.

No matter what – always make sure that you speak to a pediatrician to eliminate

the possibility that bed-wetting may be a symptom of a more serious condition

such as diabetes.

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Sharing a family bed is great with a younger baby who needs regular

comfort and breast feeding

Between the ages of 12 months and 18 months is the worst time to try and

move your child from the family bed

Give your child a chance to talk about his day, before he is expected to

settle for bed

Work in 5 minute intervals, leaving him for 5 minutes and then returning,

gradually increase the intervals

Issues such as starting child care or moving house may affect your child’s


Have a box of morning toys available to give you more time in the morning

Do not punish a child for bedwetting

Do, however, give a smiley face for not bedwetting

Avoid drinks, within 30 minutes of bed time.

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We’ve all seen it on TV, a large, contented family sitting around the table eating

happily and making polite, jolly conversation. The reality is often somewhat

different! From food fights to picky eaters, feeding time can test the patience of

any parent.

Children are very good at instinctively knowing what they require. Generally, if a

child eats only small portions this is because he simply does not need any more,

it is unlikely that he has decided to diet at the age of 2!

However, caution should be exercised when considering your older child’s eating

habits. Recent research from an eating disorder support group has estimated

that 40 percent of girls, aged 9, have dieted at some point during their life. It is

crucially important if you feel that your young child is dieting unnecessarily that

you get professional advice and support (not that although dieting is generally

associated with girls, boys are not excluded). Also make sure that you yourself

are not pre-occupied with weight. If you step onto the scales, regularly, make

sure that you do so out of the sight of your young child.

Other problems such as weaning your child onto adult food and food fights are

generally a larger concern for most parents, at this stage. Here’s some help …


The process of weaning your child begins around the age of 4 months. This,

however, does not mean that weaning is accomplished within the space of 2

weeks. Weaning on to adult food occurs over a period of years. The gradual

process from milk to adult food can be frustrating for all involved. Here are some

ideas to help you on your way:

Take one small step at a time; this is not a race

Encourage your child to experiment, give him variety and options

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Have a selection of ‘easy’ foods available as well as more challenging

foods. Interchange these foods so that he is challenged but not frustrated

Don’t assume that your child has the same tastes as you. If you hate

pasta, don’t assume that your child will feel the same

Give your child a chance to look at his food and to consider it, visually,

allow plenty of time, at mealtimes, and don’t rush him as this may scare

him into regressing

Try and eat a small amount of your child’s food in front of him, he will be

more likely to trust the food and want to try it.

Fussy Eaters and Food Phobias

Fussy eaters, in general, can be treated in the same way as those infants

experiencing weaning difficulties. However, there are some specific tips and

tricks to help you get your child to eat his feared foods:

Offer your child a choice of foods, make sure that there is always

something that he likes as well as other items available to him

Do not make a big fuss about what he eats or doesn’t eat

Remember children will eat when they are hungry, so don’t fret if he

doesn’t eat as much as you think he should

Once the meal is over, clear away the plates even if he hasn’t finished; do

not goad him or make a fuss

If you are concerned about what your child is eating keep a diary covering

a period of at least a week. You will almost certainly be pleasantly

surprised by how well he actually eats!

Hunger is a common reason for your child to wake in the middle of the

night so make sure that he has plenty of opportunity to eat ‘filling’ foods

such as potatoes, with his evening meal

Remember that he may simply be asserting his independence therefore

forcing him may increase his resistance

Let him see you eating the food you are offering him, if he is genuinely

scared of the food this may alleviate his fears

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Take small steps at a time. Offer him the new food along with other

familiar foods, several days in a row. It may take several days of looking at

the new food item, before he takes the plunge!

Using utensils and food fights

Playing with food can be irksome for those around your child. From throwing food

to banging spoons, children often seem to want to play with their food more than

they want to eat it. Here are some tips for fuss-free mealtimes:

Do not turn feeding time into a battle, sit down with your meal and discuss

the day NOT the food at the table

If he begins to play with his food, ask him whether he has finished eating,

if he continues to play, take his meal away

Resist the temptation to ask him what he would like to eat if he doesn’t

seem to like the evening meal, he will soon get used to the idea that he,

like the rest of the family, gets the evening meal prepared for him, not a

specialist on-demand menu

A child is likely to begin playing with his food if he is bored or simply not

hungry. Avoid allowing him to eat during the 30 minutes before meal time.

If dinner is dragging on beyond 20 minutes allow him to leave the table.

Family meals

While it may be ideal for the entire family to sit down and eat together,

sometimes this is just not practical, particularly with younger children. Recognize

this and do not feel that you have failed if you decide to have two sittings

involving a ‘child’s dinner’, followed by an adult dinner’.

Always try to sit with your child when he eats, even if you are not eating


Have a box of after-dinner toys available in the dining room, this will help

to enforce the idea that while he does not have to participate in the family

meal, he cannot interrupt

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Keep snacks to a minimum so that he looks forward to his main meal

Remember that adult conversation is boring to most young children,

include them in your conversation and resist the temptation to discuss the

meal in front of them.

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Take your time when it comes to weaning

Interchange easy foods with more challenging foods

Offer a fussy eater plenty of choices, always make sure that there is

something that he likes, on the table

When everyone has finished eating, remove all plates

Do not talk about food at the table, discuss other issues

When introducing new foods, put the food on his plate, every day, for

several days; it may take a while for him to try the food

Ask a child that is playing with his food whether he has finished; if he

continues to play then take his food off him – no fuss

Make sure that you sit with your child when he eats, even if you are not


Keep some after dinner toys available so that you can enjoy your meal

Include your child in the conversation.

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When To Start And How To Prepare There is no such time as the ‘right’ time to start potty training. A child may be

ready at age 18 months, or he may not be ready until after his 2nd birthday. Most

children, however, are ready to begin training at sometime between 18 and 24


Timing is key to successful potty training. Make sure that you have plenty of time

available for the main training period. If necessary, take time off work to ensure

that you can dedicate yourself to the task, free from outside distractions. Potty

training for the daytime is often achieved several months before a child can begin

night training. In any event, many children continue to bed-wet for many years,

although as time goes by, the occurrence of bed-wetting should become much

less frequent.

How to tell if your child is ready for potty training:

He tries to help when you are dressing or undressing him

He is able to follow basic instructions

He is aware of when he is ‘doing a poo’ (this is often evidenced by

concentration or pointing to his diaper)

He is able to occupy himself with toys for at least 5 minutes

His diaper is often dry when you go to change him. This indicates that he

is establishing some bladder control

Avoid training when there is a new baby in the house, or you have just

moved house.

Equipment that you need for potty training:

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At least 2 potties, preferably of the same color to prevent the “I want the

blue one” argument. Put one upstairs and one downstairs (You may not

have much warning at first!)

A cushion with a polythene bag over it. Put a pretty cover over the cushion

(one that is easily washed). Tell him that it is his special cushion. He can

use this when he is traveling, or in public places

Prepare a collection of toys or tapes so that he doesn’t become bored

while using the potty

Plenty of spare clothing – you are going to need it!

Prepare your child for potty training by introducing him to the idea of ‘doing a pee

or a poo’. Show him the contents of his diaper so that he is familiar with what a

poo looks like. If he has never seen one before it is perfectly possible that he will

be scared by his poo, in the potty!

A child of this age enjoys copying. Make the most of this and take your child with

you to the toilet at every opportunity. Explain to him what you are doing. As you

get closer to beginning potty training, place the potty in the toilet with you so that

he can sit on it, at the same time as you use the toilet.

Introduce him to the idea of wet and dry. Show him how hands become wet and

then dry, encourage him to join in when you are washing your own hands.

Process of potty training

Children often become clean before they are dry. This is generally because they

find it easier to control their bowels than their bladders. If your child does a poo at

a regular time, every day, then place him on his potty, at this time, each day, for

a period of 5 to 10 minutes. Do not make him sit there until he poos, but make

sure that you offer lots of praise, if he is successful. He may hold back for several

days, do not get frustrated; stay calm and determined.

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During this period, you could also put him on his potty for 5- to 10-minute

intervals, throughout the day, without his diaper. If he does a pee, congratulate

him, but do not make a fuss if he does not.

On the first day of training, dress him in his ‘big boy underwear’; it may be easier

to leave any trousers, socks and shoes off for the first few days. Tell him that he

is a big boy and encourage him to be excited by this development. Take him to

the toilet with you and ask him to sit on his potty so that you can both do a pee


Remind him regularly to use his potty. Try getting him to sit on his potty every 15

to 30 minutes, for a short period. Keep plenty of entertainment, at hand, such as

books and tapes to encourage him to stay on the potty. Continue this process for

several days.

Keep a record of when he successfully uses the potty; from this record, it will be

possible to establish when he generally needs to pee or poo. This will help to

reduce accidents. Introduce the big loo as soon as possible so that he is not

frightened of the change. By the end of the first week, most children will be in a

position where they have only the occasional ‘accident’, during the day.

Here are some handy hints for surviving the first week of potty training:

For the first day, take the phone off the hook – this requires 100 percent


Keep games low-key so that he does not become over-excited and forget

about his potty altogether

Once you begin training, do not put your child back in diapers, during the

day, this will confuse him.

Night training

Most parents find that successful night training occurs much later than day

training. In fact, it is not generally recommended that training commence, before

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the age of 3. Forcing night training can cause other sleep-related problems and is

usually best avoided. Once your child is regularly waking dry and clean, you can

explain to him that he no longer needs his diaper. Encourage him to use the toilet

before bed and reduce the amount of fluid that he drinks, within an hour of


Dealing with Potty Training Problems


Resist the temptation to train twins together, unless they are both ready at the

same time. If they happen to be ready, at the same time, then enlist an extra pair

of hands, for the first few days.

Refusing to poo in a toilet or potty

Many children are happy to pee in a potty, but are much more reluctant when it

comes to pooing. Try to establish a regular time for your child to poo; providing

more fruit to eat at breakfast can often assist with regularity. Once you have

established a regular time, try lining the potty with a diaper to encourage him to

use the potty. If this approach works for several days, try pretending to run out of

diapers. With a special toy or favorite video to hand, he may be prepared to

forgive the lack of diaper. If he doesn’t, don’t force the issue, it will correct itself in


Accidents while away from home

Changes to routine can often lead to more accidents than usual. It may be the

excitement of the event that has led to him simply forgetting to go the toilet. While

he should be encouraged to decide for himself when he needs the toilet, there is

no harm in using the occasional reminder, in a new or exciting environment.

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There is no right or wrong time to start potty training, although generally

this happens between the ages of 18 months and 2 years

Let your child become aware of the toilet. Show your child his own poo in

his nappy and take him to the toilet with you

Introduce the concept of wet and dry

Signs that he is ready for potty training include, trying to undress himself,

having a dry nappy and being able to follow instructions

In the first few days, take your child to his potty every 15 to 30 minutes

and get him to sit on it, for a short period

Whenever he uses the potty congratulate him; DO NOT punish him when

he does not, or if he has an accident

Night training normally happens 6 months after day training

Train each twin when they are ready, they do not have to be trained


Keep a cushion with a protective layer for use when you are away from

home or in the car.

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LANGUAGE AND SPEECH It feels like only yesterday that you were squealing with excitement at your child’s

first words and now you are desperately trying to change his speech!

Getting a child to listen and stop screaming He has discovered that he can make a variety of noises and he is not afraid to

show you his new talent. A child rarely shouts just because he wants to annoy

you. Truth is, he is yelling because he is over-excited and enjoying life. Try

encouraging him to use his ‘indoor voice’. Make sure that you do not yell to

counteract his noise; he will simply learn that the person who speaks loudest is

the one that is heard. By lowering your own voice, he will have to be quiet to hear

what you have to say.

Equally frustrating can be a child that ignores you! Try the following tips to help

get your child to listen to what you have to say:

Give your child warning before asking him to do something. It is little

wonder that he ignores your request to get his shoes on when he has just

reached the good bit of his new book!

Make sure he understands what you are saying. Asking him generally to

tidy up is confusing. Tell him clearly and definitely what you want him to

do, e.g. please put those books back on the shelf.

Try giving him an incentive to do as he is told. Tell him what will happen

once he has done what you have asked him to do.

If all of this does not work, make sure that you ask your pediatrician for a

hearing test; it is possible that he is not hearing you clearly.


A young child is often unable to comprehend that the world does not exist solely

for his benefit and does not, therefore, think that there is anything wrong with

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interrupting. Children under the age of four do not have a very well developed

long-term memory. As such they feel that they have to blurt out whatever comes

into their mind immediately, for fear of forgetting. Rest assured that this will

improve naturally with age, but there are a few things that you can do to help in

the meantime:

Make sure that you set a good example. If your child sees the adults

around him waiting their turn to speak, then he will be more inclined to

copy. On the occasions that you do accidentally interrupt either your child

or another adult, apologize for doing so.

Create a game where your child can give you a signal that he has

something to say. This can be something like touching his nose or holding

his own hand. When you are introducing this, it helps to recognize verbally

that he has something to say and tell him that you will be back to hear his

point soon.

Another good game is to play ‘pass the parcel’ with an item, such as a

wooden spoon. Whoever is holding the item can speak and the others

must be silent.

If your child regularly interrupts when you are on the phone then try having

a box of ‘phone toys’ that are only played with when you are on the phone.

By giving him something special to do when you are on the phone, he will

begin to see you talking on the phone as a positive instead of a negative


Stopping a child from swearing and answering back

Children have a wonderful habit of blurting out inappropriate words at

inappropriate times. Making a big fuss when he swears will only encourage him

to do it again, just to spark the same reaction. So what does work? Here are

some ideas:

If he uses a made up word like ‘poo-poo head’ tell him that you don’t

understand, as it is not a real word.

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Tempting as it is to laugh when your child swears, DO NOT. He must not

believe that this is a fun way of getting approval.

Make sure that you do not use bad language around your child – he will

only copy.

Give him alternative ‘clean’ words that he can use to express his feelings.

With an older child it is often possible to explain that such language will

hurt other people’s feelings.

Tell him that the language he is using is unacceptable and that if he

continues to use it there will be a punishment. Once you have said this,

stick to your guns and apply punishment, if necessary.

When your child is not swearing but is simply answering back defiantly, it can be

hard to know what to do. Consider the following tactics:

Tell him that it is unacceptable, draw boundaries and stick to them.

Sometimes it is best simply to turn a blind eye and to move onto

something else. If you were playing with him at the time, tell him that you

will not play with him while he uses unnecessary language. Give him a

second chance to play properly, five minutes later.

Wherever possible give him choices. Answering back is often a child’s

way of asserting his independence. The more choices he is allowed to

make, the less likely he is to resort to defiance.

Consider why he is answering back and respect his views. Tell him that

you can see he is hurt / frustrated or upset and try and work out, with him,

what can be done to improve the situation. If he declares that his buggy is

stupid, it might be because he wants to walk like a big boy. Give him the

chance to help solve his own problems, himself, rather than aggressively

shouting about it.

Dealing with lies Children, particularly those of pre-school age have active imaginations. They

often struggle to differentiate between reality and fantasy and don’t actually mean

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to tell lies. He may lie because he forgets the truth or it may be a case of wishful


Don’t come down too hard on him. While you don’t want to encourage

lying, listen to his stories and encourage him to tell the truth.

Phrase your questions in a way that is not accusatory. If he denies spilling

his juice, don’t tell him off for lying; just ask if he can help you tidy it up.

Make sure that if he does tell the truth about a misdemeanor, he is not

punished. Thank him for telling the truth and make him feel that by telling

the truth he will receive a more positive reaction.

As your child grows older, explain to him the importance of telling the

truth. Use stories such as ‘the boy who cried wolf’ to illustrate your point. It

is unlikely that he will fully understand the difference between truth and

fantasy, until he is at least five years old.

Be patient and encourage him to tell the truth, but don’t get over anxious about

his lies, it is a normal phase of your child’s development.

Developing your child’s linguistic abilities

Linguistically, children develop at different paces. This is perfectly natural.

However, some key signs that your child is struggling to express himself include

using hitting or kicking instead of words to express himself. If you feel that your

child may not be developing adequately, or you simply want to help him get

ahead try the following:

Read out loud; follow the words with your finger so that he associates the

words with what you are saying.

Expand his collection of books to include characters and plots. Try

discussing them after you have finished the book so that he can express

his feelings towards the books.

Your child will learn primarily from listening to you, so make sure that you

use as wide a vocabulary as possible.

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Every time you go out, bring something back and have a show and tell


Label common items around the house such as chair, table, mug, so that

he gets used to associating the written word with an item.

When your child wants to talk, make sure that you give him time. Put down

your newspaper and listen.

Encourage him to speak to other adults and children.

Resist the temptation to correct his grammar overtly, try rephrasing


Bilingual children

It may seem that mastering one language is challenging enough, let alone two.

However, there are proven advantages to teaching a child a second language

from an early age. Research has shown that children who speak more than one

language are more able to learn a further language and more able to solve logic

problems, at an earlier age. If you want to teach your child a second language,

follow these golden rules:

It does help if you, as a parent, also speak the second language, so get


Start as young as you can. Read in the second language and converse in

the language, whenever possible, alongside your main language.

Find support groups for children who speak the same languages. By

interacting with other children with similar linguistic abilities he will begin to


Get hold of tapes, DVDs and books in the second language, so that your

child can be immersed in the language, as much as possible.

Do not force your child to speak either language, specifically. Answer him

in whichever language he uses with you.

Don’t give up, persevere and it will work!

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Always make sure that your child has reasonable warning when you are

about to ask him to do something

Be clear and definite in your instructions

Praise good behavior

Create a game where your child can give a signal when he wants to say

something, rather than interrupting

Set a good example, do not interrupt or shout yourself

Do not laugh when your child swears

Tell your child when the language is unacceptable and state a

consequence should he continues to use such language

Give your child time to air his views, as this may help ease any frustrations

Try to ignore lies; this is part of his developing imagination and nothing to

worry you, unduly

Label items around the house to help your child increase his vocabulary.

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PLAYTIME Never underestimate the power of play! A child of any age can benefit from play.

By spending time playing with your child, you will encourage him to increase his

ability to solve problems. Watching a child play is a great way of getting to know

how his mind is working. Take time to stand back and watch him interact with

toys, as well as with other children.

Ask a friend or relative to watch you playing with your child. They may see some

obvious ways that you can improve. Ideally, you should be guided entirely by

your child, he should choose what to play and for how long. Allocate specific

times to dedicate to play. In a busy schedule, play can often be overlooked or be

something that your child is asked to do on his own. Make sure that you spend at

least 10 – 15 minutes a day playing, on his terms, with him.

If your child plays on the floor, get down on the floor with him, this will help you to

see things as he does. Talk to him about what you are doing, this is a great way

of making him feel involved and of increasing his vocabulary.

Play at different ages There are no specific rules as to which games should be played, at which age.

Generally, if your child seems to be enjoying himself, then that is the game for

him. However, here are some general guidelines:

By the age of 18 months, children will generally enjoy using crayons, as

well as doing simple puzzles, playing with pretend toys and singing.

As he grows older, he will still enjoy puzzles and songs. However, these

will need to become more sophisticated, as he becomes more advanced.

A pre-school child will also have a vivid imagination and may enjoy make

believe and dressing up.

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After this age, the best way to find out what they like to do is to ask them.

By showing an interest, they are much more likely to invite you to join

them. Always make sure you ask permission before joining their game!

Ideas of games for all ages

Here are some general guidelines for games to try with your child:

Under 2 years old

Rolling a ball back and forward between you.

Playing with a mirror.

Finger puppets.

Creating a ramp to roll a ball down.

2 – 4 years old

Bowling with a soft ball and empty water bottles.

Bathing their dolly.

Filling a box and then emptying it again.

Drawing and painting.

Matching games.

Over 4 years old

Building blocks.

Picture book.

Finger painting.

Sink or float, use a bowl of water and see if various items sink or float.

How to drag your child away from the TV In today’s modern society, it is difficult to prevent a child from watching TV,

altogether. Making time in front of the television as productive as possible is

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therefore fundamental. Contrary to popular belief, your child’s eyes will not go

square if they watch too much TV; they will, however, miss out on other

opportunities such as outdoor play and conversation.

Make sure that you explain to your child that cartoon characters are not

real people, and that they can do things that people cannot.

Avoid violent or bad language.

Don’t rely on luck to help you find a suitable program. Have a collection of

suitable videos available so that you know exactly what your child is


Decide on the program that they are going to watch. Tell them that they

can watch it and make sure that you turn the TV off once it has finished.

Watch TV with your child so that you can talk about the program


Do not leave the TV on as background noise.

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Never underestimate the importance of play

Under 2-year olds normally enjoy playing with mirrors

2- to 4-year olds normally enjoy playing with balls, as well as drawing and


Children over 4 years old will enjoy more complex games such as building

blocks or finger painting

Make sure that your child knows that cartoon characters are not real

Do not have the television as background noise

Treat the television as a treat.

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DISCIPLINE GENERAL ISSUES Most parents, at some time or another, come across issues relating to discipline.

It can be a difficult time, deciding when and how to punish your child. Add to this

confusion, the multitude of opinions from seemingly everyone you know. Trust

your own judgment. You, after all, know your child best. That does not mean that

you should feel alone. There are plenty of places that you can get help and

support to tackle any problems that you may have. Before you look in any detail

at your specific problems, consider some of the more general issues surrounding


Differences between the sexes

Children, no matter which gender, generally have similar capabilities. This said,

society, in general, does not treat children of different genders in the same way;

and, as such, their behavior is likely to be moderated so that they behave, in

time, like a ‘typical’ girl or boy. This behavior is not something that they have at

birth, but rather something they learn.

Encourage your child without the use of stereotyping. Allow your son to

play with dolls and your daughter to play with toy soldiers, if that is what

they choose.

Children will become aware that there are gender differences from about

the age of two. However, it will take until at least the age of three before

they realize what it actually means to be a girl or a boy.

By the age of three or four, children understand that they are either a boy

or a girl but they do not realize that they will remain this gender. It is

possible that your son might believe that wearing pink will turn him into a

girl. This may lead to resistance to playing certain games or playing with

certain people.

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From the age of five, children are more likely to be interested in what it

means to be a girl or a boy and may insist on wearing certain items of

clothing or role-playing.

While most of the behavior is learnt, there are some physical differences

between the genders that can affect behavior:

Girls are usually born able to see and hear equally well in both eyes and

ears, whereas boys tend to hear better from one ear and see better with

the left eye.

Boys are generally considered better at tasks involving spatial awareness.

Girls on the other hand generally perform better at language and verbal


A few other interesting facts that you may wish to consider are:

Girls are more likely to have body image issues. These can begin at a

very young age. Many girls are already unhappy with their weight by the

age of six.

Boys are twice as likely to be injured during play; their injuries are also,

generally, more serious.

Boys also tend to be affected more with behavioral problems. Four times

more boys than girls are diagnosed as being emotionally disturbed, and

six times more boys than girls are diagnosed each year with the

hyperactivity disorder ADHD.

At what age does a child understand right v wrong? Experts have mixed opinions on when a child fully understands consequences. A

child can understand very basic consequences, from a very early age. Some

argue that this occurs from birth. However, it is safer to assume that a child does

not have any true sense of cause and effect, until close to his second birthday.

The easiest way to show your child the difference between right and wrong is by

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doing so yourself. Children are great copiers and if you behave in a way in which

you wish your child to behave, then this will encourage desirable behavior.

Encourage good behavior with lavish amounts of praise. Do your best to ignore

bad behavior. The method that you choose to achieve this aim depends on your

child’s age, personality and understanding. With a child under the age of two,

prevention and distraction are the best ways to go. He is unlikely to understand

fully the concept of ‘wrong’.

As your child grows older, it is easier to explain to him that certain behavior is not

desirable. Try explaining how you feel, so that he can learn that his actions affect

others’ feelings as well as his own. This is not a skill that he will learn overnight.

Indeed some adults still haven’t fully mastered it!

Incentives v. Punishment

As a general rule support and incentives produce better results than punishment

or over-indulgence. Resist the temptation to excuse his bad behavior with the

notion that he is only young or is tired. Decide what behavior you will not tolerate

and stick to it. Do not alter the boundaries, as he will soon learn that you don’t

really stick to your word.

Offer your child incentives to behave as you would like him to. Be careful that this

does not turn into bribery. For example, tell your child that after he has washed

his hands he will be able to go to the park or have his favorite candy. He will

learn that he must do some things that he does not like in order to obtain the

things that he does like. This is a powerful lesson to teach your child.

Despite this, do not be afraid to use punishment, where necessary. Decide what

behavior you simply will not tolerate; be selective and concentrate on the things

that MUST not happen and not simply on the things that irritate you. If he

continues to misbehave, ask him to stop, once, then tell him what the

consequence is going to be if he continues. If he does continue with his behavior,

carry out the threat that you previously made. This final part is fundamental. He

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must learn that you will see your threats through, so make sure that you can and

do issue the punishment that you have threatened.

Keeping your temper

Easier said than done! With a screaming child it is extremely tempting to simply

scream back. Remember, however, that your child sees you as his role model.

How you react to stressful circumstances will have a direct bearing on his

reactions. Consider, firstly, why you lose your temper. Is it through stress? In

today’s society we are pushed to do more, but days are not getting longer. We

feel guilty because we don’t have enough time - and we seem to be surrounded

by ‘perfect’ parents.

It may be that you have unrealistic expectations of your child. A toddler WILL

NOT play happily on his own for hours on end and then trot happily off to bed. He

is a child. Do not try to perfect your child. He must be allowed to behave like a

child; his behavior will change dramatically over the years. If he swears once at

age three this does not mean that he is about to go completely off the rails!

Everywhere we look we hear about unconditional love for our children. This is

true, but it doesn’t mean that you will always like your child. It is perfectly

possible that you simply have a personality clash – this does not mean that you

are a bad parent! Recognize your differences and learn to deal with them. Keep

in mind that you are the parent and therefore any compromise will have to come

primarily from you.

Handling Anger

Once you have lost your temper, do not beat yourself up with guilt. Remind

yourself that you are human and as such you make mistakes. Tell your child that

you are sorry for getting as angry as you did and that it doesn’t mean that you

don’t love them. If your child decides to reject your apology, ask his permission

for a hug / handshake, this will allow him to feel respected.

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Children forget about events like this very quickly and will be happily playing

again within minutes, so don’t let it get you down. We all make mistakes!

Dealing with other adults – grandparents and the other parent You’ve been working hard all day on your child’s discipline and you really think

you are getting somewhere. Then, out of nowhere, come the doting grandparents

or, worse still, the other parent, to spoil your child and you feel that you are back

to square one.

Try explaining to the other adults what you are doing. Tell them how you

discipline your child and what challenges you are facing. Lack of understanding

may be causing the differences. If you have the opportunity, try to speak to the

other adult before they speak to your child. It is easy to forget how much your

child changes, even in a day. Give others a chance by telling them what the

latest ‘trick’ is and how you are handling it.

If you cannot get other adults to follow your lead, try explaining to your child that

he may be allowed to do certain things with Grandma, but those things remain

unacceptable to you. Stay firm and focused; he will soon learn.

When it is your partner that is not following your routine, a serious conversation is

necessary. Explain what you are doing and why you are doing it. Ask for their

advice; defiance may be due to feeling left out of the decision making process.

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You are not alone, every parent has an issue with discipline, at some time

or another

Children become aware of gender at age 2

There are some physiological differences, however children of different

genders are likely to behave differently

Children do not understand the difference between right and wrong, until

at least their second birthday,

Incentives are generally a better alternative to punishment

Decide what is really important and use punishment only on these

matters, and if truly necessary

Do not worry too much if you lose your temper; it will not effect your child

in the long-term

Explain to other adults the discipline rules that you are using.

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Whenever you speak to a parent about the troublesome behavior that they are

struggling to control, almost without exception, crying, whining, biting or hitting

get a mention. Time and time again, you will hear that it is just a phase. This is

true, however, this does not mean that you should simply put up with this



Biting is in no way unusual. By the time your child goes to school, it is likely that

he has bitten someone at least once, and has been bitten back! Biting is normally

the result of your child losing control. Overwhelming feelings of anger or fear that

he simply cannot express verbally will often lead to him sinking his teeth in. Not

all biting is the result of loss of control; it may be a misguided show of affection or

out of pure excitement.

When your child bites, follow these guidelines:

Make sure that everyone is safe; do this by separating the children.

Give any first aid that is necessary, but also reassure the aggressor, as he

will also be upset by the events.

Talk about what has happened and encourage him to express his feelings

in other ways.

Prevention is better than cure, so take time to think about when and why your

child bites, so that you can avert future occurrences. Talk to him about his

feelings and also about biting. By encouraging him to be open with his feelings it

will help him to deal with his anger, in other ways. A great idea is to have an

apple available for him to bite when he feels frustrated – a healthy and harmless


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Hitting often occurs in the same way as biting. However, it is normally directed at

a disciplining adult. It is vital that you do not hit him back. Hitting him back will

only reinforce his idea that hitting is an acceptable way to express his feelings.

Tell him that you know he is angry and that he should not hit as it hurts. In short,

recognize his feelings, reprimand him and give him a reason for not doing it


Make sure that he realizes that it is okay to feel angry. What is not okay is the

way he is expressing it. Teach him to express himself verbally as an alternative.

Perhaps roaring like a lion will work – you can even join him if you are feeling

tense. Chances are he’ll be so amused at the idea of you both roaring that his

anger will also subside!

Crying / whining

Whining is infuriating; period. However, your child may not recognize that he is

whining. Whenever your child begins to whine, tell him that he is whining and

how annoying it is. Ask him to use his normal voice. Another good idea is to tape

record your child when he is whining and then, when you are in a good mood,

play it back to him and discuss it with him.

When he asks for something, make sure you acknowledge what he has asked for

and tell him when you will do it for him. One of the best ways to deal with whining

is to try and avoid these situations altogether; offer a distraction such as a toy or

a game. If you cannot avoid it, then remain calm, ask him to stop and finally

ignore him, if necessary.

Crying can be equally frustrating. We all expect babies to cry, but what happens

when the crying carries on for years? Crying is an expression of emotion.

Emotions are not bad things and it is important that your child feels that his

emotions count. Instead of telling him not to cry, suggest that he tells you why he

is upset. Alternatively, give him paper and crayons so that he can draw what is

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upsetting him. Another idea is to explain to him that it is not a good idea to cry

about small things and that if he can simply talk about issues, he will get a better

response. If all fails, ignore him when he cries about smaller things, but tell him

that you are happy to discuss it with him. When he does stop crying (and he will)

make sure that you give him 100% attention when he tries to tell you what was

bothering him. He must realize that talking generates a much better result.

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Biting is very common, but this does not mean that it is okay to ignore

A child normally bites because he is so frustrated he cannot express

himself in any other way

Encourage your child to talk about what makes him bite and give him

words that will help him to express himself verbally, in the future

Recognize his feelings

Try to ignore whining, or at least ask that he speaks in his normal voice

When a child stops crying make sure you give him 100% attention, when

he tells you what is bothering him

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Very few parents get through the early years without having to deal with toddler

tantrums and rebellions from their children. This is little comfort, though, for the

parent who is suffering yet another screaming fit. The phrase ‘terrible twos’ is a

misnomer; children can have tantrums at any age! Knowing that every parent has

been there does not help when you feel that all those around you are looking

down their noses at your rebellious child.

Preventing the tantrum in the first place is clearly the most desirable way of

dealing with tantrums. Try distracting your child with a favorite toy or game.

Sometimes, however, a child is going to tantrum, no matter what you do. Take

heart, it is likely that your child is not trying to manipulate you (particularly at a

young age) but is, in actual fact, overwhelmed with emotions that he does not

know how to handle. As he gets older, he understands more about what is going

on around him, but he is not yet able to express himself fully with the use of

words. This is frustrating to him and often results in a sudden loss of control – the

temper tantrum.

Dealing with toddler tantrums A child in the middle of a full-blown tantrum will often, kick, scream, throw things

and hold his breath. He will not listen to reason, so don’t try and talk him round.

DO NOT shout at him, as this will only increase his fury. Try the following tactics:

Stay close so that he does not feel he is being abandoned.

If he is not too violent in his tantrum, hold him in your arms.

No matter how much he screams, do not give him what he wants just to

calm him. This is particularly tempting in a public place!

Some children will try to hurt people around them, such as younger

siblings or pets. If he does this, take him calmly to an area where he

cannot hurt himself, or others, such as his bedroom. When you move him,

tell him why he has been moved.

Stay calm and sit it out – it will end!

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The calm after the storm While you breathe a sigh of relief, consider what has just happened. It may help

to make a note of the location, time and trigger. This will help you to determine

what causes your child to tantrum and may enable you to avert future tantrums.

Discuss the tantrum with your child. Try to help him with words that will enable

him to express himself. Try asking him why he was so angry. By allowing him to

explain, you will get a greater understanding of the cause of the tantrum and he

may learn to use words rather than screams.

When your toddler is too young to discuss the matter, you have little option but to

simply move on. Do not hold a grudge. Tantrums begin and end suddenly. Your

toddler will have largely forgotten about his outburst, within minutes, so don’t

dwell on it or punish him, he will not understand.

If tantrums become persistent and without any clear pattern, make sure that you

speak to your pediatrician, to eliminate any possible physical causes.

When a child refuses to do something

Does it feel as if your child’s favorite word is ‘No’? You are not alone! A young

child has little control over his life and will use defiance as a means of asserting

his authority. When acting defiantly, children are normally passive, in that they

simply don’t do something that they are asked to do, rather than actively doing

something that you have told them not to do. This does not make it any less


Give your child choices wherever possible. Ask him which top he would

like to wear and respect his choice. By allowing him to feel in control of his

own life he is much less likely to be defiant.

If, after you have given him a choice, he simply responds with, ‘No’,

remind him that if he does not choose you will choose for him.

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Make sure that you praise your child, regularly, for good and helpful

behavior. Try following a five to one rule. This means that you should

praise your child five times as many times as your reprimand him. When

you see him doing something useful, make a fuss of him.

Distract him from the battleground, if at all possible.

Pick your arguments carefully, if you are not going to be permanently at

loggerheads! Before starting a debate with your child, ask yourself

whether it is really important. By restricting the times that you insist on

your child doing something, your child is much more likely to take you

seriously, when you do insist.

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Biting is very common, but this does not mean that it is okay to ignore

A child normally bites because he is so frustrated he cannot express

himself in any other way

Encourage your child to talk about what makes him bite and give him

words that will help him to express himself verbally, in the future

Recognize his feelings

Try to ignore whining, or at least ask that he speaks in his normal voice

When a child stops crying make sure you give him 100% attention, when

he tells you what is bothering him

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PUNISHMENT AND INCENTIVES Knowing when to use incentives and when to use punishments is a key issue for

many parents. With many conflicting opinions on when and how to punish, it is

little surprise that we get confused!

Incentives & positive reinforcement Incentives are a part of every day life. We go to work so that we can afford to buy

nice things. Doing something that you don’t enjoy in order to be able to do

something that you find fun is normal. For this reason we should view giving

children incentives to behave as a positive thing and not simply a case of bribery!

As a parent you are largely responsible for building your child’s self esteem. It is

therefore important that you practice good positive reinforcement skills:

Do not confuse incentives with bribery. Avoid offering incentives for things

that you expect your child to do on a daily basis. A sweet in exchange for

not swearing is bribery not an incentive!

Speak directly to your child when you are asking him to do something;

speak slowly and maintain eye contact.

Give your child chores, from a very early age. For example, asking your

child to take his dirty clothes to the wash basket every night will encourage

his independence and engender a desire to be helpful.

If you have to repeat your instructions, do so as if it were the first time.

Children have a short attention span; he may simply have forgotten what

you asked him to do.

Make sure that your child associates his reward with the task that he has

just completed. For example, tell him that you will go to the park after he

has washed his hands. After he has finished washing his hands reinforce

this by saying, “great you’ve washed your hands, now we can go to the


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Time-outs In reality, however, positive reinforcement does not always work and more

drastic measures are needed. Time-outs are an extremely useful tool. It is NOT

punishment, but rather a way of helping your child to control his emotions.

At what age can you start using time-outs? Using time-outs when your child is under the age of two is unlikely to work.

Toddlers do not like to stay still and trying to confine him will almost certainly

result in a game of chase. Time-outs are only really useful when your child is old

enough to understand the difference between right and wrong. A good way of

telling whether your child is old enough to benefit for time-outs is if he reminds

you when you break the rules!

When to use time-outs?

Remember that time-outs are used to help your child handle his frustration. If you

spot your child beginning to lose control, consider using a time-out. With older

children you should warn them that if they do not stop what they are doing,

immediately, they will be placed in time-out. Time-outs should also be used when

a child is adversely affecting others; this is particularly important if an older child

is hurting a younger sibling.

Where to use time-outs? It is important that the area you choose for time-outs is safe and within your line

of vision. Equally important is that toys or videos do not surround older children,

when they are in time-out. While the main purpose of taking time-out is not

punishment, equally, it should not be a reward. If you are in public you can still

use time out by taking your child to one side, away from the ‘action’, and allowing

him time to calm down.

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How to enforce a time-out effectively?

Warn him that he will be put in time-out if he continues to behave in the

way that he is behaving.

If he persists, take him to his time-out location, tell him why he is being put

in time-out, but do not enter into discussion or negotiation.

Set a clock so that you time the period, accurately.

Do not allow him to play with any toys or talk to you while in time-out. If he

violates these rules, re-set the clock and tell him why you are doing so.

When time-out has finished, talk to your child about why he was in time-

out, but do not issue blame or maintain a grudge.

What if they persist? If your child simply refuses to stay in the time-out location, here are a few things

that you can do:

Be prepared to stay with your child in time-out. Sit next to him and if

necessary hold him on your lap. DO NOT talk to him or maintain eye


If your child is having a large tantrum, time-out will only annoy him further.

Let him burn himself out, wherever he is; trying to pin him down in his

time-out spot may simply make matters worse.

Until he is old enough to understand time-outs, use distraction instead.

If it is safe to do so, you can remove yourself by going into a separate

room away from your child, rather than insisting on him staying in the

same room. The purpose of time-out is to allow him to have some time

alone to regroup, so if he won’t stay still, get out of his space.

As a general rule, time-outs should last a minute for each year of your

child’s life. For example a three year old should be in time-out for

approximately three minutes.

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Naughty mat The naughty mat is used in almost exactly the same way as a time-out. It simply

marks the spot that you wish him to use, during his time-out. As a general rule,

the naughty mat is seen as more of a punishment than time-out; this is largely

because of its association with the word ‘naughty’. A very young child will not

understand the concept of naughty and will not, therefore, benefit from using the

naughty mat. Only use the naughty mat when your child has been genuinely

naughty and not simply when he has lost emotional control and needs to calm


Physical punishment (spanking)

This is one of the most controversial aspects of parenting. As a general rule,

physical punishment is best avoided. It is very difficult to persuade a child that

hitting is wrong, by hitting him. Choosing whether to physically reprimand a child

is entirely an individual’s choice. To help you make your decision, consider the

following issues:

Are you hitting your child for his benefit, or because you have lost control?

If YOU could time-out for three minutes, would you still return and hit your


Are there any alternative methods that you could use?

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Do not confuse incentives with bribery; “if you do X we can then go and do

Y” is an incentive

Speak clearly and directly when asking your child to do something; make

sure he understands

Time outs are not punishment but a time to regain calm

Time outs should only be used on a child of at least 3 years old

Give him a warning that the will be placed in time out if he persists, if he

does persist, put him in time out, without any further discussion

Don’t maintain eye contact and don’t discuss the situation with your child,

during his time out

If he refuses to stay in time out, remove yourself from him so that he is on

his own when he is having his tantrum

Time outs should last a minute for each year of your child’s life

The naughty mat is used in the same way as a time out, but is generally

reserved for when your child is naughty, as opposed to a time to calm


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BEHAVIOR IN PUBLIC It often seems that your child acts up in public just to embarrass you. While this is

sometimes the case, there are often other reasons:

As children tend to behave badly when they have lost control, it is little

surprise that with the added excitement of being in a public place, all the

activity causes an outburst.

Parents are generally more inclined to give in to demands in public

because they are embarrassed and feel that they are being watched. As a

result, children are often under the impression that they will get their own

way, if only they make enough of a scene.

When you are in public you are often giving your attention to something

other than your child. This can be unnerving for a child that is used to

having you to himself. By misbehaving he will regain your attention.

With all this in mind, how do you deal with a tantruming child, when it feels that

you are in the public spotlight?

Dealing with tantrums in public

Just as in the home, the best way to deal with a tantrum is to avoid it, in the first

place. When you are out in public there are a lot more opportunities for

distraction; try engaging the child in other activities to avert the tantrum.

Sometimes, however, a tantrum cannot be avoided. Hard as it is, the best way to

deal with a public tantrum is to ignore it. Make sure that your child cannot harm

himself or others around him and simply sit it out.

No matter how long or bad his tantrum becomes, DO NOT give in. While

capitulating may solve the immediate problem, things will only get worse, long

term. So stand firm, ignore onlookers and keep him safe.

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Using time out when out in public

If your child is losing control in public, you can still use a time-out. Take him to

one side, away from the main action and tell him that he needs a time-out. Hold

him and do not speak to him. Suitable locations for time-outs include inside the

car where he can be strapped safely into his seat, by the side of the shopping

cart in a supermarket, or in a toilet cubicle.

Practical tips for awkward situations In the car:

Make sure that he has distractions available to him.

Try singing or playing games.

Stop regularly, so that your child can stretch his legs.

Involve him in the journey, tell him where you are going and when you will

get there.

If this fails, turn off any music and do not speak to him, as if he were in


At a restaurant:

Select your restaurant carefully. By going to a family-friendly, noisy

restaurant, you are less likely to feel pressured into keeping your child


Pick a time of day that your child is not tired because over stimulation and

a tired child make a bad combination!

Make sure that you set ground rules at home. It is unfair to expect a child

suddenly to develop excellent dining skills just because he is in public.

Children have a short attention span; so don’t hang around!

It may be worth allowing your child to have food or drink which you do not

allow at home, such as ice cream or sweets. This will help them to enjoy

the dining experience, as much as you.

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In the Wal-Mart:

This is a busy and lively environment. When your child has a tantrum you are

NOT as noticeable as you may feel. In any event, most people will feel nothing

but sympathy with you.

Get your child to help you with the shopping. Ask him to hold the shopping

list or to look out for certain items.

Give him an incentive to behave by telling him that once you have finished

shopping he can go and play in the park.

Have a special shopping toy. By allowing him a toy that he can only play

with in the store, he will be more inclined to let you browse at your leisure.

If going shopping always results in a battle, consider doing several smaller

shopping trips. He may be getting bored and frustrated so, by shortening

the time that you spend in the store, you are also reducing the chances of

boredom taking over.

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Bad behavior in public is common

Tantrums generally happen when a child has lost control, so over

stimulation in a shopping mall may well trigger an outburst

Do not give in to his demands

Make sure that he is safe and that those around him are also safe

Use time out by taking him to a quite place, or getting him to hold onto the


Involve him in the journey, if you are planning on spending a long time in

the car

Choose your restaurants wisely

Have a special car / restaurant toy.

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OLDER CHILDREN As children get older, the problems that parents face become increasingly varied.

Once your child starts attending school, he will be less under your control. Other

role models will enter your child’s life, such as teachers and other children.

DISCIPLINE Older children have an increased ability to reason and express themselves. This

is not to say that the tantrums and displays of defiance have gone for good!

When the naughty spot no longer works … Up until now the naughty spot has worked well. Then suddenly your child thinks

the whole thing is funny. You can continue to use the naughty spot and time-

outs, effectively, with some children until they are quite a bit older. They,

however, are the exception and not the norm. Here are some useful alternatives

for the older child:

Don’t underestimate his ability to understand what you are asking him to


Ask him to do something and give him reasons as to why he should do as

you are asking.

Offer an incentive by telling him what you will be doing AFTER he has

done what you are asking him to do.

If he continues to defy you, ask him to practice the task several times. Tell

him that you are making sure that he knows what to do. He will soon

realize that tasks cannot be avoided.

Praise him whenever he does something you ask of him.

When he appears to be resisting certain tasks, ask him to explain why he

does not want to help you. There may be a fear or anxiety of which you

are not aware.

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Privileges and incentives

The basic theory of when to use privileges and incentives remains the same, no

matter what the age of your child. Be careful to ensure that your incentives do not

turn into bribery.

Make sure that you do not say, “if you brush your teeth…”. The word ’if’

implies that he has a choice. A child of five is astute enough to pick this

up, so be careful with how you phrase your incentives!

As your child’s attention span increases, rewards can be accumulated,

over a longer period of time. Try creating a chart where you can add

smiley faces whenever your child is well behaved. When he has

accumulated ten faces he has a reward such as his favorite chocolate.

Praise, praise and more praise!

Peer pressure When your child starts school his social circle will increase dramatically. This is

an important and exciting part of his development. However, he will also start

wanting to do something or have something, simply to be the same as the others

within his social group.

Copying other children and wanting to be like other children is perfectly natural

for your child. He is simply trying to endear himself to others. Being accepted by

his friends will increase his self-esteem. It is easy, for example, to see why it is

so important to him to have the right ‘kit’.

If your child has made friends with someone that you consider to be a bad

influence, do not ban him from playing with them. Try, instead, to

encourage him to play with his other friends.

Calmly explain to your child that he cannot have what he is asking for,

because you have a finite budget and that other things must be bought


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When your child is old enough, you can give him a budget when you go to

the toy store. Tell him how many dollars he has and let him choose his

own priorities. This not only gives him a sense of control over his choices

but also helps teach him the math.

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Time out and naughty spot will work until your child is a lot older

Give him reasons when you ask him to do something

Make him feel involved with the decisions

Avoid the word “if” as it implies choice

Ask him why he is reluctant to do as you ask, by talking through you may

discover what he is resisting.

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Every parent wants their child to do well at school. It can be heartbreaking if your

child does not enjoy going to school or has difficulties doing his schoolwork.

Dealing with school anxiety Going to school is a scary time for most young children. Even those who are

used to being in day-care are likely to feel anxiety when they move to ‘big’


Common fears include:

How will I get there and get home?

What if I can’t find my way around the school?

What if nobody likes me?

What if I don’t understand what is going on?

All this is perfectly normal. Here are some tips to help you deal with the big


Give your child plenty of time to talk to you about his fears; don’t belittle

his thoughts.

Encourage him to come up with a plan of action for himself. His

independence is likely to mean that he might be reluctant to accept your


Getting a child to do homework Young children will normally be given small homework assignments, to do in their

own time. Whether they successfully complete this work will not generally, at this

age, make much difference to their high school grades. Try to relax and make

learning fun. Pushing the issue will almost certainly only result in defiance.

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Ask your child why he is reluctant to do his work and make sure you listen

to the answer!

If he is finding the work too difficult or too easy, speak to his teachers and

ask their advice.

Whenever your child produces a good bit of work, put it on display,

proudly. He will enjoy pleasing you and will be encouraged to do the same


Resist the temptation to take over and do his work for him.

If you have enough space, create a dedicated place for your child to do his

homework. Ask him to choose how he wants to decorate the area, so that

he has a sense of pride in his ‘study’.

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Give your child plenty of time to discuss his concerns about going to


Help him to come up with a plan of action for dealing with his concerns

Display good school work, proudly

Create a dedicated study space so that he can concentrate on his work.

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Doing chores around the house is a great way to get your child involved in what

you are doing. They will enjoy helping and you will acquire a little helper! Children

of a very young age are capable of very basic tasks. Praise them for even the

smallest assistance they offer you, as they will want to do more to earn your


What to expect from various ages:

Children under the age of two are physically limited in what they can do.

However, they can be encouraged to take dirty clothes to the wash

basket, or to put their toys in a neat pile.

A child of between two and four years old gets frustrated easily and tasks

should therefore be kept simple. Try giving him a cloth to help you dust the

surfaces or ask him to help you with basic cooking tasks.

Once your child is over the age of four, he can understand more complex

tasks such as tidying up toys or putting clean clothes away. If you have a

pet you could give him the responsibility of filling up the feed bowl.

How to encourage your child to help around the house

Children become easily distracted and will lose interest in protracted tasks. Try

some of the following tips to keep your child focused and eager to please:

Demonstrate to your child what you are asking him to do. This will help

him to understand the task and hopefully prevent frustration from lack of


When he does a task, no matter how small, heap on the praise.

No matter how tempting it is to jump in and help, try to resist and allow him

the time and space to do what he can, on his own. Reward his effort even

if the job is far from perfect!

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If he does not do what you ask him to do, try rephrasing your request

because being repetitive will make your child feel like you are nagging

him. It may also be that he doesn’t understand and rephrasing your

request may give him the clarification he needs.

Dealing with messy bedrooms

For a child, their bedroom is their space. They can express themselves and can

get away from the stresses of life. Try not to turn the issue of how tidy your

child’s bedroom is into a battleground. Ask yourself whether it really is a problem

that he likes a bit of mess? If you can live with it then let it be. Sometimes

however, things go too far and it is necessary to get your child to tidy his room:

Explain why it is important that he tidies his room, for example, to find old

toys or so that you can clean.

Give him time to tidy his room; do not demand that it is done, immediately.

If you have a ‘smiley face chart’, tell him that tidying his room would earn

him another smiley face for his chart.

Help him generate a sense of responsibility over his room. Consider telling

him that he can choose another poster for his wall, after he has tidied.

After all, there is no point in having a lovely poster in a messy room.

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Children of any age can do at least basic chores

Give plenty of praise when your child tries to help, even if he is not entirely


If he does not do as he is asked, try rephrasing the request

Encourage a sense of responsibility over his bedroom by allowing him to

choose posters or color schemes

Use a smiley face system to reward good behavior, such as helping

around the house.

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You can hardly blame your child for feeling a little put out when his new brother

or sister appears. For several months at least, he has been the only child in the

house and is used to having you all to himself. A newborn baby requires a great

deal of time, love and attention. Your older child does not automatically

understand that you still love him just as much, he simply sees you as

abandoning him for this new baby.

Older children tend to show this frustration by being aggressive, teasing and

arguing. Younger children, however, are more likely to become clingy and

regressive, as they do not understand what is happening.

Preparing siblings for a new baby It is wise to begin to prepare your older children for the new arrival, as soon as


Wait until you have a visible bump so that he can actually see what you are

talking about.

Let him touch your bump and talk to your bump. Encourage him to bond with

your unborn baby.

Encourage your child to get involved in preparing for his new sibling. Let him

choose blanket colors, for example, so that he feels involved.

Explain to your child what will happen when the baby arrives. Tell him about

any practical changes that are going to occur, such as who will pick him

up from school and where he will sleep.

A few weeks before the new baby is due to arrive explain to him what will

happen when you go into labor. This will help him not to feel fearful when

you disappear to the hospital.

An older child can be encouraged to be the big brother who needs to show

the new baby how to behave. He will enjoy his apparent superiority and

you may even get a little help with your new baby!

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Once the new baby has arrived home, involve your older child as much as

possible. Let him help you make decisions such as choice of clothes or


How to deal with aggressive behavior towards a new baby

A young child is often unable to express his feelings of hurt and anger at the new

arrival. These frustrations may boil over and he could become aggressive

towards his sibling.

If your child hits, or throws things at the baby, you must of course

intervene to prevent injury. Encourage your older child to express his

thoughts verbally or with drawings.

Allocate at least some time every day that is dedicated to him. Tell him

how big and grown up he is and point out what he can do for himself, such

as walk and talk.

When older children won’t stop fighting

One day they are best friends, the next day mortal enemies. It can be hard to

know what to do when the children that you love seem intent on hurting each

other. However, there are some useful tips that will work at least some of the


Never compare one sibling unfavorably with another. This will make the

other sibling feel inferior and may engender a feeling of resentment.

Look for activities that they can do together. Better still, ask your older

child to help your younger child by reaching his favorite toy or helping him

with his coat.

Make sure that the games they play are non-competitive, such as drawing

or role-play.

While this is often difficult, give them each a dedicated area to store their

favorite toys. With younger children, this is often difficult to enforce, but

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any sense of personal boundaries will help to discourage fighting over toys

and other belongings.

Give each child his dedicated time with you.

Do not encourage tattling. If one child comes to tell you what the other has

done, tell him that you are not interested.

Separate, only if necessary. Encourage them to sort out their difficulties on

their own, first.

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Prepare your child for the new arrival, as soon as you have a tangible

bump that he can see

Get your child involved in the process of preparing for the new baby

Explain what will happen when the new baby arrives, so that he is not

scared by his mother’s absence

Allocate at least some time daily to your older children, so that they do not

feel left out

Make sure games are non-competitive

Give each child an area in which to store his toys; each child should have

his own feeling of space.

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Once your child starts associating with other children he may develop longer-

term issues relating to the way he views himself and his level of self-esteem.

These issues are often ongoing and may require professional intervention.

Overweight children The combination of sedentary hobbies and junk food, available to children these

days, means that it can be a real battle to maintain a healthy weight. If you are

concerned about your child’s weight, contact your pediatrician. It is not

uncommon for children to go through a chubby phase and this should cause you

little concern. With the guidance of the health professionals, try the following to

help your child achieve a healthy weight:

Increase your child’s activity level. In an ideal world, children should be

doing at least one hour a day of activity such as riding a bike or walking

the dog. Lead by example and take your children to the park and play ball

games or teach them how to skip.

Children will be children and it is difficult to cut out sweet food altogether.

Instead, try giving smaller portions on a larger plate, so that he is less

likely to notice the difference.

Keep food out of the reach of children. This way it is easier to monitor

exactly what your child is eating.

Don’t underestimate the calories contained in some sodas. Look for diet

versions or, better still, sugar-free cordials or water.

Ensure that the family eats at the dining table and not in front of the

television. This will help you to focus on exactly what your child is eating.

Dealing with depression in a child Most children go through a phase of believing that they are incapable of doing

anything correctly. When these negative thoughts extend over a long period of

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time, careful attention needs to be given to the underlying causes of this


Children as young as three, and possibly younger, may suffer from depression. It

is not clear what causes this depression but it could result from a sudden change

in his life, a chemical imbalance, stress or genetics. A child who is suffering from

depression may be over anxious, appear disinterested or be abnormally

negative. If your child appears depressed, take him seriously. Listen to what he

has to say and never suggest that his feelings are trivial.

Professional care needs to be given to a child suffering from depression. Do not

hesitate to seek advice from your pediatrician.

How my behavior can have a long-term effect As the main role model for your child, it is important that you view yourself in a

positive light. If you have any issues that affect the way you feel about yourself,

ensure that you obtain the help that you need to overcome these feelings. Now is

the time to make sure that you do not pass any problems that you may be

experiencing, to your children. Seek help and support from those around you;

from family, friends or professionals, whichever is necessary.


Sometimes parenting requires a different perspective. Not all children are the

same and not all circumstances are the same. By considering the issues that

surround your child’s behavior it may be possible to identify a different approach

to tackling those awkward situations.

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Always seek professional advice, if you are concerned about long-term


If you are concerned about your child’s weight, increase their activity level

rather than encouraging dieting

Keep snacks out of your child’s way

Depression can happen in children as young as three, if you suspect

depression, consult a professional

The way you see yourself will have a real effect on how your child sees

himself, so be careful what you say and do.

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Most children are ill at some point during their early years. It is all too easy to

attribute any bad behavior to the fact that your child is ill. While a little leniency is

necessary when your child is under the weather, many children will see illness as

an opportunity to get away with behavior that you would not normally tolerate. If

you are in any doubt, you should always contact a pediatrician.

Dealing with childhood illnesses

Misbehaving is often one of the first signs of illness. If your child suddenly seems

to act up more, consider that he may be feeling under the weather. An older child

may be able to express that they are feeling ill, whereas with a younger child you

will have to be more vigilant for signs such as a raised temperature or rash.

Offer sympathy but do not answer your child’s every demand. Make sure that you

tell your child that you are aware of how he is feeling and that you will do what

you can to help. However, you do have to do other things as well.

If you feel that your child is prolonging his illness simply to get more attention, try

telling him that once he is better he can do something that he really enjoys.

Convince him that being ill is boring!

Dealing with more persistent illnesses It is a little harder when dealing with children will persistent illnesses. Bear in

mind, that a young child is unlikely to feel the same way as an adult does when

they are being sick. Children are often not as phased by their illness as the adults

who have to clean them up.

Older children may feel resentful that they are ill and other children are not.

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Explain to your child in a matter of fact manner what their condition is and

how it is treated.

Reinforce to your child that he is not ill because he has been naughty. Try

and separate his behavior from his illness.

As an extension of this tell him that being ill is not an excuse for bad


Set boundaries and stick to them, regardless of illness.

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Relax some rules when your child is ill

Misbehaving is often the first sign of an illness, so a sudden change in

behavior may indicate a larger problem

Always get the advice of a professional, when it comes to illness

With a more persistent condition explain, in a matter of fact way, about his


Explain treatment that he will be receiving

Re-enforce that illness is not an excuse for bad behavior.

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SPECIAL NEEDS (MENTAL) Raising a child with any form of mental disorder can be exhausting for all

involved. Do not blame yourself or your child and make sure that you get all of

the help available to you. Discipline is still an important issue and while you may

have to alter your expectations, make sure that you set your boundaries and stick

to them.

Dealing with siblings

When one child is particularly demanding, siblings are often sidelined. This can,

in turn, lead to your other children developing bad behavior patterns in an

attempt to regain your attention.

If your other children are old enough, explain to them, in a matter of fact

way, what problems their sibling faces.

Try to encourage your other children to help you with daily tasks; this will

make them feel special and involved.

Wherever possible dedicate a period of time to your other children

exclusively. Tell them when this time is going to be.

Where to get help Speak to your pediatrician; they can be an invaluable source of support. Ask

whether there are local support groups that will enable you to talk to other

parents who have similar difficulties. Investigate local charities that offer respite

care; a couple of hours a week where your child can be cared for and you can

have your own space is invaluable. If your child has a rare condition it may be

that you can get support on-line from a wider variety of people.


Research the condition that your child has. The more you read, the more

you learn.

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Follow your instincts; if you feel that your child has been misdiagnosed or

requires more help, ask for a second opinion.

Don’t expect too much from yourself. It is natural to feel overwhelmed.

Take any help that is offered to you.

Be sure not to spoil your child in an attempt to compensate for his illness.

Reinforce the importance of discipline regardless of his illness.

SPECIAL NEEDS (PHYSICAL) Raising a child with a physical disability requires a great deal of patience and

dedication. Families may have to adjust their living quarters and maybe even

move house in order to accommodate their child’s needs. Problems can often be

magnified when your child begins school. They may get frustrated that they

cannot join in with the games that their schoolmates are playing and this in turn

may lead to disruptive or destructive behavior.


Research the options for special education. Your child may benefit from

specialist treatment and also from socializing with other similar children.

Always tell your child in a factual manner about his disability. Take time to

answer his questions.

Reinforce that you love him no matter what difficulties he faces. Deal with

his insecurity with as much affection as you can.

Make time for his siblings, as they may feel neglected or unloved if your

disabled child is given all of your attention.

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Get every bit of help that you can

Do not blame yourself

Explain to older siblings about the conditions and what they can do to help

Dedicate time to your other children, so that they do not feel abandoned or

become jealous

Do plenty of research so that you know about the condition and what you

can do to self-help

Resist the temptation to over-compensate with treats.

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Raising children is a difficult task. Raising them on your own can often feel

impossible. How you feel about your role, as a single parent, is likely to vary

depending on whether you chose to be on your own, whether it is as a result of a

relationship breakdown or whether you have been bereaved.

Retaining sanity A happy parent makes a happy child. Do not feel guilty about wanting to spend

time on your own away from your child. If you are offered help from friends and

family – take it!

Be aware that your child may be feeling abandoned. Explain as truthfully

as you can where their other parent has gone.

Resist the temptation to speak badly about his father (or mother) in front of


Do not lie to him. If he asks a question about what his father (or mother)

thinks, tell him that you cannot speak for his absent parent and that he

should ask him (or her) directly.

Dealing with discipline when you are outnumbered

When you are on your own with more than one child, it can be hard to know

which way to turn first!

Discuss discipline with the other parent. Make sure that you are, as far as

possible, maintaining the same standards. If this is impossible, remind

your child that he may be able to do certain things with Dad (or Mom) but

he is not allowed to do these with you.

Resist the temptation to offer your child rewards that are not earned. It can

be tempting to make up for the absence of the other parent with treats.

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Explain to your child what has happened in as much detail as is

appropriate for his age. Do not glorify the situation and do not tell him

details that he does not need to know.

Maintain the same discipline rules that you did before you were single (or

that you would if you were not single).

In order to maintain your sanity make sure that you choose your battles

wisely. It is unlikely that you will have sufficient energy (or time) to deal

with every little issue, so decide on what is important and enforce those

rules. Let other things go.

Don’t try to be perfect. If your house is a little messy – so what!

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Do not try and do everything

Accept offers of help

Do not speak badly of your ex-partner

Try to explain, in a matter of fact way, where the ex-partner is

Choose your battles wisely, you do not have unlimited energy

Make sure that you are maintaining consistent discipline; discuss your

strategy with any other primary care-givers.

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STEP FAMILIES “You’re not my real Dad!” Sound familiar? Then you don’t need to be told of the

frustration of raising children in a stepfamily. Stepfamilies are commonplace in

today’s society, but it doesn’t make it any easier when you are faced with the

daily battle.

Discipline issues:

Make sure that both parents agree on a discipline strategy.

As a stepparent, try moving the focus from your own authority and refer to

them as ‘house rules’.

Consistency of treatment for all children is fundamental.

Give children the opportunity to express their feelings of anger or

resentment. Do not interrupt and do not pass them off as silly. If they feel

you really listen then you may avert an attention seeking tantrum

Rivalry between the children

Where there are ‘mixed families’, rivalry may be even greater than normally seen.

How you deal with the rivalry is similar to other cases of sibling rivalry. However,

there are a few extra tips to try:

Allow children to spend time with their natural parent. Misbehavior is often

due to a child feeling abandoned or replaced.

Consider holding a family meeting to discuss issues that may be troubling

your children and for you to inform every one of the household rules.

Resist the temptation to favor a child. It can be tempting to over

compensate and favor a stepchild. This will only further your own child’s

feeling of abandonment.

Do not try and replace the natural mother or father of your stepchild.

NEVER speak about them in a derogatory manner.

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Agree on house rules between the parents

Refer to rules as house rules rather than your rules, so that the step

parent is removed as the target of animosity

Do not over-compensate to the stepchild by allowing him to break rules

Do not try and replace the natural parent.

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GRANDPARENTS Grandparents take on a variety of different roles, in today's society. Ranging from

the occasional visit to almost full-time care, it is virtually impossible to define what

a 'standard' grandparent does, nowadays! Bearing this in mind, fitting into the

routines and discipline that the family has set can be a real challenge.

Setting the boundaries

As a grandparent you are often able to be more objective when it comes to your

grandchild's tantrums. However, be sensitive to the parents; they may be under

considerable stress!

Knowing when to offer assistance to parents can be a real issue. If you are

unsure, ask.

Try offering tangible assistance. Offer for example to take care of the children

at a specified time, such as 9am Saturday. It is a lot easier for parents to

accept a definite offer than to phone up with a request for help.

Resist the temptation to belittle or correct the parent's approach.

Consider attending a parent and toddler group or even a specialist group for

grandparents. Discipline techniques change and it pays to be up to date with

the latest terminology.

Take some time to ask the parents what rules they are enforcing. Consistency

will benefit everyone involved.

Disciplining your grandchild The level of discipline that you will have to enforce depends largely on how much

caring you do for your grandchildren. A visiting grandparent can afford to be a

little more lenient, whereas a grandparent who regularly cares for the children will

almost certainly have to take a stricter approach.

Children are incredibly cunning, even from an early age. The line, "Mommy

let's me", will appear sooner than you think. A good approach to this scenario

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is, if possible, to suggest to the child that you will both go, together, to ask

Mommy. Be prepared to apologize to your grandchild if indeed he was telling

the truth!

If there is a genuine dispute and you feel that you cannot tolerate behavior

that is acceptable to the parents, explain to your grandchild that this is YOUR

house and as such, YOUR rules apply.

It's exhausting looking after a child, particularly when you are older. Explain

this to your grandchild and ask that he helps by playing less strenuous

games. Children rise to the occasion very well - particularly when they feel

that they are 'helping'.

Keep a record of events throughout the day to show the parents. This can

help you to ensure that you are doing what they would want; it is also a useful

way of putting any childcare suggestions that you have to them.

Enjoy your grandchild - a recent survey of over 3,000 parents revealed that

over 70% said that the best thing about grandparents is the love and attention

they give to their grandchildren.

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Your relationship depends very much on what level of contact you have

with your grandchild

Set boundaries and stick to them

Take time to ask the parents what they are doing, in terms of discipline, so

that you can continue with the work

Offer tangible assistance to the parents, such as specific times when you

will take the children out, for an hour or two

Do not exhaust yourself – play less strenuous games

Rest assured that your love and attention will be the most appreciated

thing that you give to your grandchildren.

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TWINS Having more than one child is a real joy, but very hard work! Issues that appear

simple, where one child is involved, can take on a whole new dimension when

you have two minds and bodies to deal with. Join a local support group so that

you can speak to other parents about their experiences. Remember you are

human and cannot be expected to do everything. Looking after twins is a full time

job; don't expect the house to be spotless as well!

Sleeping tips for twins (or more)

With more than one child, it is even more important that you develop a consistent

routine. It is not physically possible to be in two places at once. It is, therefore,

important that your twins are content with their routine. Having a set routine will

ensure that they do not feel abandoned, when you leave them to tend to their

brother or sister.

Allow young babies to sleep in the same cot. Separating them should be done

when you feel that they are ready. As a general rule they will need more

space as they get older and should, therefore, be separated before their first


Once you have separated them, make sure that they can still see each other,

as they will feel comforted by each other’s presence.

Tempting as it may seem, to deal with the more anxious twin first, resist this

and deal with his calmer sibling. This will allow you more time to focus on the

other twin after you are certain that one is calm.

Although twins tend to sleep through the night at roughly the same age, this is

not always the case, particularly if one was born a lot heavier than the other.

If one twin wakes up for a feed, ensure that you also feed the other; otherwise

you may find yourself getting up twice as often as necessary.

Twins rarely wake each other up with their crying so don't worry too much

about this possibility.

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As your twins grow older, they are likely to develop substantially different

personalities. They are, after all, individuals.

Make sure that each child gets some time with a parent, alone. It is important

that he has a chance, as an individual, to express his concerns.

Resist the temptation to focus on the louder child. Try to ensure that they both

get equal attention. Never compare the twins, simply give more attention to

the twin that is behaving well rather than punishing the child that is behaving

badly. Not gaining your attention and being left out of the game is punishment

enough for a child.

When they are arguing over a prized toy, use a timer and ask one twin to

count to ten while the other twin plays with the toy and then ensure that they

swap over. This can become a game in itself.

If you have grandparents available to help, suggest that one twin goes to his

grandparents for an hour and then allow them to swap. This way they will

both get an opportunity to do separate activities and to get some individual


Concentrate on issues that really matter; you only have so much energy so

pick your battles wisely. If you issue a threat, make sure that you carry it


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Allow them to sleep in the same cot until they are too big to do so, safely

Deal with the anxious twin first

Make sure each twin gets equal one-to-one time with a parent, to discuss

their individual concerns

Concentrate on the important issues.

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With, on average, 4 to 12 % of children in the U.S. suffering from ADHD, it is

becoming a real issue for many parents. Most sufferers are diagnosed before

their seventh birthday.

Diagnosing ADHD

ADHD is highly controversial, largely because it is so difficult to diagnose and

there are no known causes. Treatment can involve multiple drugs that many

parents, understandably, are reluctant to use. Despite no definite scientific proof,

it appears that ADHD does have a genetic link, with siblings of children with

ADHD being over 25% more likely to suffer from the condition.

Symptoms include:

A very short attention span and a reluctance to attempt any task, in detail.

Being forgetful and often losing items.

Being easily distracted by things going on around him.

Generally more physically active and has trouble waiting in lines.

If you believe that your child has ADHD it is vital that you seek the help of a

medical professional. They will assist in your diagnosis and discuss treatment

options with you.

Self-help treatments

It can be a relief finally to have a diagnosis, although this relief is often short-

lived. There are some things that can be done by you at home to assist in dealing

with a child with ADHD:

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Explain to your child why he is having regular appointments. Weekly visits to

the doctor may scare your child, so prepare him for these by telling him what

will happen and how he will benefit.

Routine is even more important for a child with ADHD. They need to know

when they will eat, sleep and play. This will help them to feel more secure in

their surroundings.

Make sure that the rewards you offer for good behavior are instantaneous. A

child with ADHD is much less able to cope with the concept of waiting for his

reward. If you are using a smiley face system of reward, consider breaking

the time periods down to half days, or even hours.

Tell everyone who deals with your child, regularly, that he has ADHD. Give

them leaflets on the subject, and explain what it means and how they can

help your child.

As you child is easily distracted, try to create a calm space for him. Make sure

his room is kept relatively clutter free. Separate his workspace from his play

space, if at all possible.

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This is a highly controversial behavioral problem

Seek professional advice to help with diagnosis and treatment

Make rewards more instantaneous

Routines are even more important with a child that has ADHD

Create a calm space for your child

Explain the condition to other adults who are in regular contact with your

child, so that they can understand how to deal with him.

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It is impossible to consider parenting issues, without considering the parent. As

role models and guardians, we as parents, are the main influences on our young

children. How we act and react to everyday situations is likely to impact on our

children, for life. Don't let this scare you; your ability to be a positive influence is



What type of parent are you?

No two children are the same, and similarly no two parents are the same. Trying

to behave in a way that is unnatural to you will serve no useful purpose. You will

only end up becoming frustrated with yourself and your child.

There are four main recognized different styles of parenting:

Authoritative parents: tending to use positive reinforcement rather than

punishment and offering clear boundaries in an assertive manner.

Authoritarian parent: tending more towards insisting on a high level of

obedience, often without allowing the children to make any decisions for


Indulgent parents: tending to allow a wide range of behavior and have a

relaxed view of discipline.

Uninvolved parents: at the extreme end, these parents may even be

considered neglectful. Normally, however, uninvolved parents allow their

children a high degree of independence, from an early age.

Based on these four styles, there have been dozens of tests performed to assess

the impact of these parenting

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styles on children. As it is virtually impossible to determine what exactly triggers

certain behavior, these results should not be taken too seriously. There is

evidence, however, of the following:

Children from indulgent backgrounds are less likely to suffer from depression

and are socially more adept. However, they are more likely to develop

behavioral problems.

Children from authoritarian backgrounds tend to perform well in school and

suffer little from behavioral problems. They do, however, have a greater

problem with social skills and self-esteem.

Authoritative parents are more likely to raise children that are generally well

balanced, both socially and in terms of behavior.

Children from uninvolved backgrounds generally perform poorly in all areas.

You will see from these findings, therefore, that being involved and doing your

best will tend to produce better results compared with being uninvolved.

Recognizing your natural parenting style enables you to work on your weaker

areas. Nobody is perfect, but you can be certain that by getting involved you are

much more likely to raise a child who is balanced, happy and healthy.

Getting help

If you are experiencing difficulties with your own thoughts and feelings, do seek

medical advice. It is common for parents to feel overwhelmed by the

responsibility of child rearing. Take some time to look after yourself and talk to a

professional, if necessary. A happy parent is far more likely to raise a happy child

- so it is in your child's best interest for you to make sure that you are content

with your role as parent.

What causes anger in parents?

Any parent who tells you that they have never lost their temper is either a saint or

a liar! Anger normally arises when one of the following occurs:

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When a child disrespects his parent.

From frustration, through not knowing how to deal with your child's behavior.

When a child has embarrassed his parents in public.

When a child fails to meet a parent's expectations of suitable behavior.

All of these events are magnified when coupled with sleep deprivation.

Frustration, in one form or another, is the usual trigger for anger. This is natural;

it is how we, as parents, deal with it that counts.

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Don’t try to be something that you are not

Recognise what type of parent you are and be aware of your behavior

Uninvolved parents generally produce children with more problems – so

get involved

Look after yourself and get medical help if required.

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Children learn from their parents. If a parent's response to frustration is to lash

out in anger, one can hardly blame the child for reacting in the same way, the

next time that he becomes frustrated.

When you feel your anger rising, try the following ideas:

Change the surroundings, for both you and your child. Go for a walk, start a

new game or just go into a different room.

Take a break. If there are two of you, get your partner to take the children out

to the park or for a walk. Return the favor! If you are on your own, consider

forming a group so that one of you can take all of the children out one day

and then swap around. It might be a hard couple of hours when you have the

children all to yourself, but at least you get a break in return!

If you are at the end of your tether, make sure that your child is safe and walk

away. There is no shame in leaving the room and going to calm down. A few

minutes on your own may be enough to regain your composure.

When anger becomes a way of life, get help. Anger is particularly likely to

become a problem if you have worries in other areas of life such as finances

or relationships. Never be too proud to ask for help - you are not alone.

Don't worry if your older child sees you getting frustrated; it's how you deal

with it that really matters.

After the eruption! Sometimes it just happens, common sense goes out of the window and we lose

our temper. If this happens, take time out, you can even tell your children that

you need a time-out. If you are using this method as a way of calming your

children, they will understand and probably be quite pleased that the same rules

apply to you! It may be necessary to apologize to your children; do this in a

matter of fact way. Don't dwell on your outburst, the children certainly won't! The

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guilty feelings that plague a parent last much longer than any upset in a child. So

relax, you're only human!

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Recognize what makes you angry; is it frustration or fear?

Try changing your surroundings, to calm yourself down

If there is another adult around, take a break

If all else fails, make sure your child is safe and walk away, if you are

angry, you will not achieve anything until you calm down

Don’t feel guilty if you lose your temper, apologize if necessary and then

move on.

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It can be easy to forget that you are more than a parent. Children have a way of

taking over your every minute. While it is perfectly natural for your children to be

the most important thing in the world to you, it is equally important that you look

after yourself. Neglecting yourself is a sure-fire way to sap your enthusiasm and

energy. Over time, this will affect your children.

Signs to look out for

You probably know better than most when you are running low on energy.

However, there are a few telltale signs that may indicate that it is time to take a

step back.

Eating the children's scraps instead of preparing a main meal.

Social activities, if there are any, revolve entirely around school events.

You get no exercise, other than looking after the children.

Restoring balance

Easier said than done! With an endless list of chores, it may seem impossible.

Follow these steps to help restore balance in your life:

Write down a list of activities that you enjoy, examples include: going for a

walk on your own, going to the gym or having a long soak in the bath.

From your list, tick the three that you would most like to do.

Show your list to your partner or friends and ask them to help you to

incorporate these activities into your daily life.

If you have friends with children, suggest that you do it together, so that you

can look after each other's children, in turn.

Sort out the practicalities. Is there day care available at your local fitness

center? Would your parents look after your children for an hour, at the

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weekend, so that you can go for a coffee with a friend? By involving others,

you are much more likely to stick to your plan.

Enjoying activities with your children

Recharging your batteries can even be accomplished with the children around.

Instead of worrying about everything, take some time to regress to your


Get dirty! Join your children in the sandpit.

Go to a big open space and practice animal noises. Children love imitating

animals such as lions and a good shout might help relieve some of your


Hold your own disco. Play loud music and dance wildly; your children will love

it and you will get some exercise into the bargain.

Go on to child time. Suspend all but the essential housework for one day. It

will do no long-term harm to let the pile of ironing grow a little bit higher, and

the relief will benefit you greatly.

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Recognize the warning signs that you are not getting enough time to


Make a list of activities that you enjoy and try to make sure that you take

time to fulfil some of these goals

Enlist the help of friends and family

Make taking time out part of your weekly routine

Do some activities that are fun with your children, such as having a disco

or playing in the sand pit

Make a rule that no housework will be done, on a specific day, so that you

can slow down slightly and concentrate on the important things.

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The role of the father is anything but easy. Knowing when to offer support to your

partner is just one of the many issues that you face. Work can also be a key

issue for many fathers.

Working to live not living to work

Take time to reassess your priorities. Talk to your partner and your boss.

Decide what the most important things are to you and your family, and make

sure that you do not lose sight of your priorities.

Negotiate with your boss to see if you can work flexi-time or telecommute.

Learn to let go of some of the chores. It really doesn’t matter if the lawn grows

a little too long.

Have an allotted time, on a weekly basis, where you are on your own with

your children. Stick to it!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Looking after children is demanding,

particularly when you are not performing the role on a daily basis. Take

advice from your partner in the spirit that it is intended.

If finances can stand it, consider hiring someone to do the lawn and any other

little chores that might get in the way of your family time.

Always make sure that you know what the 'current' issues are with behavior

and how your partner is dealing with it. Never contradict or undermine your

partner, in front of the children. If necessary, discuss the matter away from

the children so that you can present a united front.

Stay at home fathers

Society is changing. There are an increasing number of fathers opting to stay

at home with their children. If this appeals to you, discuss the possibility with

your partner. They might be delighted at the prospect of going back to work!

Being in full charge of a child is hard work. Be aware that as a father you will

see some resistance to your new role. While society is changing, it has not

changed completely, so do not take to heart the suspicious looks in the

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playground or the looks of pity, when you explain to new friends what you do,

on a daily basis.

Be proud. You are doing the most important job on earth - raising your

children. Resist the temptation to make excuses for your position.

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Reassess your priorities

Negotiate with your boss for flexible working arrangements

Make the most of your time off work by spending time alone with the


If you feel like becoming a househusband, voice your thoughts.

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In divorce, the mother wins the custody battle in 90% of cases. The result is that

a huge number of fathers and several mothers struggle to maintain contact with

their children. Children grow at an alarming rate. It can be disconcerting to arrive,

one weekend, to see that the child you left last week has a whole new repertoire

of tricks up his sleeve!

Rules for the absent parent

Hard as it may be, try to follow these rules in order to ensure that your children

are not adversely affected by your separation from their other parent:

Never argue with your ex-partner in front of the children. Air any grievances in

private and make sure that you support your ex-partner in front of the


Always keep your promises to both your ex-partner and to your children. You

may not think that being 5 minutes late is a problem, but to a young child it

can feel like a lifetime.

Try to ensure that your children do not see any emotional weakness from you

as a result of your separation. Children will feel more secure with the situation

if they genuinely believe that you are going to be okay.

Stick with them; being a parent involves being around for them at every stage

of life.

Do your best!

Making the most of limited visitation

If you only get to see your children for a limited time, it is important that you make

the most of it.

Maintain the disciplinary techniques that your ex-partner is using. The

consistency will be comforting for your children and will allow you to be a

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positive influence on their behavior. Ask your ex-partner about their

techniques, to make sure that you are doing the right thing.

Resist the temptation to shower your children with gifts. This can cause

resentment from your ex-partner and can also cause discipline problems.

Ask your children what they want to do - don't assume that you know their

preferences. You might be surprised when your child declares that he would

rather play cars with you than go to an expensive theme park.

Take time to talk to your children on their own and without distractions.

Let them know that you are always there for them.

Being an effective absent parent is a real challenge. Focus on what you've got

and the opportunities that you have, currently, rather than on what you did have

or would like to have had. Make the most of every minute and enjoy!

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Always stick to access arrangements

Ask your ex-partner about how they are dealing with issues such as

discipline, so that you can act consistently

Do not speak badly of the other parent

Resist the temptation to spoil your child with treats

Ask your children what they want to do with your day together, don’t

assume you know

Take time to really talk to your children

Let them know that you are there for them.