I'm an advocate for "house rules". It's a nice way to explain to your children that this is what is expected of them. It's not just Dad saying, "Please don't hit or yell." It's a "house rule." So we all should follow it.
With that being said, children are more likely to follow the rules if they are allowed to participate in forming them. Family meetings are a good way to facilitate the process. Weekly family meetings can help children learn responsibility and accountability. They are also a great time to communicate without distraction (turning your cell phone off), and really find out what everyone is doing and how they are feeling.
How to Make House Rules:
1. Keep them short and simple, such as "Be polite. Say please and thank you."
2. Make them positive, such as "Use your indoor voice," instead of "Don't yell."
3. Write them down and post them in a common area, even if your children can't yet read. This will help remind all family members of the rules. It's harder to forget or disagree if the rules are posted on the fridge.
4. Let children help set the rules. Revisit rules periodically at family meetings and make family decisions on updates or changes.
How to Hold a Family Meeting:
1. Agree on a time and place, such as Sunday evening after dinner.
2. Mom or Dad can moderate and take notes, initially. As children get older, they can take a turn.
3. Go around the table. Start with something they liked this past week, something that bothered them, and what they would like to change for next week. Any special agenda items can follow, such as making new house rules or getting ready for a holiday party.
4. Make family meetings fun. And end with something special, like treats or a game.
Do your kids have a hand in creating the rules in your home?View Thread
There's a reason kids love to play chef in toy kitchens. It's fun! Cooking with your children is a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time together and teach them about nutrition, healthy eating, and the importance of helping out at home.
Please remember to always keep children in a safe spot while cooking so that they don't get burned or injured. It's best to put pots on the rear burners when cooking. Keep pot handles turned towards the back of your stove so that your little ones cannot reach up and hurt themselves. Store knives and other potentially dangerous items in a locked cabinet, and out of your child's reach.
Here are some age-appropriate kitchen tips and tasks for younger children:
Toddlers: Announce, "Mommy/Daddy is going to make _______ (fill in the blank). Does anyone want to help?" You can pre-measure or cut up ingredients into small bowls and let your toddler dump in the ingredients and help stir.
Preschoolers: Ask them to help you count scoops or pieces of different ingredients. Again, dumping and mixing is always fun. Tearing up lettuce or mashing cooked potatoes is also safe and enjoyable for preschoolers. At this age, they can also start helping to set the table and clean up.
Grade Schoolers: Assign each child a night of the week where they are "in charge" of dinner. If weeknights are out of the question, try dinner (or even brunch) on the weekend. Let them pick the menu (or you can give a few choices) and assist them in cooking and serving. Eventually your child will be old enough to do it all on his own and you can have a night off. In addition, at the end of each meal, have children clear their own dish. As they get older, they can help clear the entire table and take turns loading the dishwasher.
Do your kids help in the kitchen? How do they participate?View Thread
Every pediatrician and parenting expert I know agrees on one thing. Consistency with discipline is key. It's how children learn.
If I don't pick up my toys when Mommy asks, I won't be able to play with them for a while.
If I don't get into my car seat so Mommy can buckle me in, we can't go to the park.
Sound simple? Not always. Sometimes, in the moment of frustration (cue the tantrum), it may seem easier to just give in. Don't do it. Inconsistency in discipline actually leaves children confused and insecure.
Here is a PLAN you can enact for discipline that is more consistent:
P: Pick your battles. Choose one major behavior to modify at a time, such as hitting or biting. Devote an entire week to each troubling behavior you are trying to change.
L: Light at end of tunnel. Focusing on the end result can help you get through the tough times, when you're debating whether to push forward and deal with an unhappy toddler, or cave under pressure. Tip: Don't go back once you start. Keep trudging ahead. It's worth it!
A: All caregivers on the same page. Each caregiver should follow the same rules. Have a meeting so everyone can agree (or compromise). Write down the rules and post them as a reminder to all.
N: Nurture success. Use praise and encouragement for the desired behaviors. Offer hugs, kisses, stickers, and other small rewards when you catch your child doing well. Don't forget that he watches you and follows your lead. So demonstrate good behavior, respect, and kindness to those around you -- always.
How do you discipline your child? Any tricks to share?View Thread
On weekends, my husband and I often count down the minutes until naptime. Yes, our 3-year-old still naps, at least on most days. Even 45 minutes of quiet can be a nice reprieve for many parents and caregivers during a busy day. But how do you establish a successful routine early on? What do you do if you're child won't nap? And how much sleep do kids really need?
From birth to 3 months: In the first few weeks your newborn may spend more hours asleep than awake. And that's OK. They'll sleep for an hour or two at a time, often not in any regular pattern. As long as she is gaining weight and growing, it's best to go with the flow. Newborns need around 16 hours of sleep per every 24 hours. Remember, the safest place for your baby to sleep is on her back, in a bare crib. Tip: Teach infants the difference between day and night by keeping things dark and quiet at night, and light and play-filled during wakeful parts of the day.
4 to 6 months: Around this age, infants begin to settle into a regular sleep routine, for both nighttime and nap time. Three naps a day is normal at this age -- morning, early afternoon, and early evening. Let your infant take the lead. Many sleep experts agree that a nap should be at least 45 minutes on a stationary, flat surface, ideally a crib. At this age, your infant should sleep for at least 6 to 8 hours straight at night, for a total of around 14 out of 24 hours. Tip: Put her down when she's drowsy, but still awake, allowing her to fall asleep on her own. This will help establish good sleep habits that last a lifetime (and help keep you sane).
7 to 12 months: Don't be surprised when your infant drops his third nap and transitions to two regular naps a day. These naps may last about 45 minutes to two hours, usually midmorning and in the afternoon. Tip: Keep your infant on his schedule as much as possible. There will be days when, despite your best efforts, the sleeping schedule will get off track. But having a good fundamental sleep routine will help him bounce back quickly when teething, illness, or travel shake up the routine.
13 to 24 months: Between 1and 2 years of age, most toddlers transition to one nap a day. How do you know when it's time to say good-bye to that second siesta? When his first nap pushes later into lunchtime and his second nap goes into the early evening, possibly even interfering with bedtime. Although this new single nap may be a bit longer (sometimes up to 3 hours), it's usually a good idea to make bedtime 30 to 60 minutes earlier. Toddlers at this age still need around 13 hours of sleep per every 24 hours. Tip: Put your toddler down before he shows signs of being tired, like rubbing his eyes or acting cranky. He may fall asleep earlier and sleep longer, which is good for you and him.
Does your child still take regular naps? Any tips to share with parents who may not have the luxury?View Thread
Whether it's right or wrong, on the playground or at a restaurant, parents are often judged based on their children's manners. Why do some children seem to always be on their best behavior, and others, well, not so much? Good manners are not inborn. Behavior is taught, molded, and reinforced by parents.
Here are some tips to help guide your children to good manners, at home and beyond.
1. Mind your own manners! This may sound simple. But it's easy to forget that our children watch each and every thing we do. So before you make that snide comment, stop and take a moment to practice good manners -- not only for yourself, but also for your family.
2. Practice saying "please" and "thank you" aloud. Every time you ask your child (or your spouse/partner) to do something, always start with "please" and end with "thank you". Encourage your child to do so, as well. If they get in the habit at a young age, it will become part of their regular vocabulary.
3. Praise good behavior directly or within earshot of your child. Even though it may not always seem like it, your child really does want to please you and gets great satisfaction out of hearing you say he's done well.
4. Try not to criticize. Instead of saying, "Don't use your sleeve to wipe your mouth," simply hand him a napkin. He'll get the hint. Also, look for instances where he behaved as you taught him, and let him know you noticed. "It was wonderful the way you used your napkin at the restaurant last night to protect your clothes."
5. Kids love to be kids. Allow silly time at home for such things as eating with fingers or making a milk mustache. Just preface it with the fact that although this is okay right now, since we're home, it isn't appropriate behavior at a friend's house or in public.
What about you? Any challenges, tips, or funny stories to share about manners… or a lack thereof?View Thread
When people are asked what their favorite childhood memories are, many of those memories have to do with holiday traditions. Family traditions can strengthen family ties. Maintaining these traditions and rituals can also enhance a child's sense of family, security, values, and emotional well-being.
My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. Around 100 members of my family (Yes, 100!) gather each year to celebrate, sing songs, play football, and eat. I have fond memories of this amazing day from as far back as I can remember. I love that my boys are already looking forward to seeing their cousins, grandparents, and great-grandparents, who travel from near and far for our Thanksgiving Day extravaganza.
Families today are busier than ever. Often there are in-laws and extended family members to visit on the holidays, as well. So how have we preserved our family tradition throughout the years? Organization and dedication have been key. Start planning early. Figure out the venue and the menu. Plan activities to make the day extra special. If your family is as large as mine, have relatives sign-up for different responsibilities as far in advance as possible. My relatives sign up months in advance for turkey, vegetables, desserts, and anything else they want to prepare for holiday feasting. We also have set-up, clean-up, and kitchen committees. It's not easy. But it's well worth it to share this wonderful family tradition with our children and our children's children.
What holiday traditions are important to your family? How do you plan to preserve these special traditions for years to come?View Thread
As a pediatrician, I talk about bath safety from day one. Never leave a child alone in the bath -- not even for a moment. In the time it takes to answer the phone or grab a towel, a child can quickly and quietly slip and drown in just a few inches of water.
Your toddler or preschooler can begin learning to wash herself with your assistance and close supervision. Place some liquid soap on a washcloth and show her how to wash her body. To rinse away shampoo, teach her to close her eyes and mouth as you count from 1 to 3 and pour the water over her head. If she is afraid to get water in her eyes, have her bend her head back and use a pitcher to pour the water over her hair. Don't forget to sing songs and play games to make bath time fun.
Generally speaking, at about age 6 a child is mature and coordinated enough to wash her body and hair without help. I strongly believe that you should still stay close by to make sure that she is playing safely in the tub, that she does not turn the hot water on, and that she is washing properly. She may also still need your help with hair washing.
Around age 8 or 9, once she has demonstrated that she is mature enough, you may allow her some bathroom privacy or leave the room altogether. It is always a good idea to have a bath mat or bath stickers on the floor of the bath or shower to make it less slippery. Let her know you will periodically check on her to make sure she's OK. Leave the door open and stay close so you can hear if she calls you.
At what age are you letting your child bathe alone?
I just found out that October is "Organize Your Medical Information" month. What a great idea. Do you remember when your child's last whooping cough vaccine was, what medication he takes when he wheezes or which of your three children has a heart murmur?
The health of your family is important -- and that alone is enough reason to get organized. Whether you have one child or many, it's your job as a parent to keep them healthy and safe. Keeping track of critical medical information can make that job easier and prevent mistakes. Here are steps to organize your child's medical information:
1. Get a folder for each child. Label it clearly.
2. Keep birth documents, vaccine records, doctor visits, lab tests and specialist visits in the folder. Anything you bring home from a doctor's visit should go inside.
3. Make a list of important information (see below) for the front of the folder, and copy it for your baby bag or purse. Update as needed or after every physical exam. That way you'll have it handy for a doctor, to leave with a sitter, or during an emergency. Your important sheet should include: • Child's name, birth date, and recent weight • Pediatrician's phone number • Allergies (if any) • Medical conditions (e.g. Preemie, heart disease, asthma) • Surgeries • Hospitalizations • Medications (dose, how often given, pharmacy phone number) • Immunization records
Do you keep track of your medical information? Have there been times when you needed the information but didn't have it?
Is your child's bedroom a health hazard with stinky socks and bread crumbs lurking in the corner? Or is it simply a disorganized mess? Do you ever wonder how you let it get so out of control?
While I've never seen a child who got sick from a messy bedroom, it is important to distinguish between a clean, but disorganized mess and an unsanitary cesspool of moldy leftovers and damp clothes. Either way, if you aren't comfortable with the state of your child's room, act now.
Simply ordering your child to clean her room likely won't work and may even backfire. Try these tips to help tidy up your child's room. Decide what clean means to you and your child. Be clear about your expectations and start early with rules. Does he need to make his bed every morning or just put his toys in the toy box and books on the shelf?
With older children and teens, you may need to compromise. Try to prioritize what is most important to you, such as no food in the bedroom and dirty clothes in the hamper. Can the clean clothes she chose not to wear today, stay on the chair until they are worn tomorrow? Well, that's up to you and your family rules. Your teen's method of cleaning up her room may not be exactly the same as yours, but praise her for her efforts. If the clothes are piled on shelves instead of neatly folded, at least they are in the closet.
For younger children, make it fun. Repetition reinforces the rules, but creativity is key. Play a clean-up game. He can pick up all the red toys while you pick up the blue. Sing a song or set a timer so your twins can clean for two minutes, then dance or act silly for two minutes and so on. Don't forget to give simple directions and make eye contact.
And, most importantly, lead by example. Show them how you put things away and keep your own room tidy as well.
So, what's your idea of "clean" when it comes to your child's room? Any tricks for getting him to pick up those dirty socks?
"Wash, wash, wash your hands, wash them every day. Wash them with water and wash them with soap to wash the germs away." My children learned to sing this song in preschool as they washed their hands.
Hand washing is the best way to keep your child from getting sick and prevent the spread of infection. As a pediatrician, I wash my hands around 100 times a day. That may be a bit excessive, but it's the only way I can stay healthy and prevent spreading germs from patient to patient. Another tip I often share with parents who ask me how I avoid getting sick is that I don't touch my face without washing my hands first. Your mouth, eyes and nose are the usual entry point for germs. That's why young children are constantly sick. They touch everything and then bring their hands to their face to suck their fingers or rub their nose or eyes.
As early as possible, teach your children to wash their hands often and thoroughly. Wash hands after playing, when entering the house, before eating and after using the bathroom. Kids pick up infections from their friends or classmates since many germs can survive on surfaces for hours and spread easily from person to person. Often children are contagious before they become symptomatic. So even with strict day care rules about keeping sick ones home, infections can still be transmitted.
What's the best way to wash your child's hands? Use regular soap and water. Antibacterial soaps are not necessary. Studies show they are no better at washing away dirt and germs than regular soap, and some experts feel overuse may breed resistant bugs. Here are 5 steps for hand washing:
1. Wet hands 2. Apply liquid or bar soap to hands 3. Rub both hands vigorously together to make a lather 4. Continue scrubbing all surfaces for 20 seconds (have your young child sing a song so that the correct amount of time is spent scrubbing) 5. Rinse hands well, then dry with a paper towel or air dryer
What about hand sanitizers and wipes? Soap and water is best, but it isn't always available. When you're on the go, whether in the car or at the park, carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wipes.
What tricks do you use to get your kids to wash? Any sanitizing success stories to share?