Avoiding holiday shopping temper tantrums

We’ll all be shopping more in the next few weeks.  If we take our preschoolers, there is always a possibility of a temper tantrum.  WHAT!  NOT MY CHILD!  NO, NO, NOT EVER!…STAMPING MY FEET WITH STEAM COMING OUT OF MY EARS 🙂

Realistically speaking though, here are three easy discipline tricks that really work.

  1. Make a game out of what must be done: Sing a silly song, make funny faces, say the ABC’s in a high/low voice.  This works for things like buckling up the seat belt of the car seat (don’t all children hate that), leaving the toy store, putting on a jacket or hat.
  2. Be matter-of-fact: Don’t ask, “Do you want to put on your jacket?” or “Shall we put that toy down because we are ready to leave?”  Just say, “We are ready to leave and we are putting on our jackets.” (and maybe start singing a song about now we are putting our jackets on, jackets on, jackets on, etc.)  Or, “It’s time to leave the store and put the toy back…which shelf are we putting it back on, the top shelf or the bottom shelf?” (always make sure that when you give your child a choice, BOTH choices will lead to the goal YOU have in mind)
  3. Warn, distract, and then proceed with what needs to be done: Children like to know what the plan is…and they need to realize that what you say goes and that there is no discussion or negotiation.  It helps, if possible, to give a warning.  For example, when you need to leave the store, give your child a warning in a friendly upbeat tone of voice, “One more hug for mister bear and then we will put him back on his shelf and go and get a drink at the water fountain on our way to the car.”  After the hug, help your child put the bear back, scoop him up, head towards the water fountain, singing a song about bears or water or whatever.  Or, if you are at the library, you might say, “You can turn two more pages and then we will take our books to the librarian to check out so we can go home and read one of them.  Again, scoop up your child (if there is any question he disagrees about your plan to leave), and head towards the library checkout.  Let your child know you understand how he is feeling, “I bet you wish you could stay in the library all day, but it’s time to check out.  You can hold the library card and give it to the librarian.”

One of the hardest things about dealing with preschoolers is that they are easily distracted and often cannot stick with one thing for very long.  This distractibility is a blessing in disguise, however.  No matter what they are involved in: looking at a book, playing with a toy, having a temper tantrum…they can almost always be distracted from it if your are able to turn their attention to something else.  I am not really a very good singer, but when my children where little, I sang ALL the time…when I buttoned up their jackets, put them in the stroller, washed their hair.  Silly songs, happy songs, high songs, low songs…it really worked!   I can remember only one temper tantrum…one of my children (I won’t say which one) wanted a candy bar as we were checking out at the grocery store (don’t you LOVE how they put all those tempting sweets right at child-level?) and, being busy putting up the food on the counter and trying to watch the register read-out as the items were being scanned, I “ignored” my child’s rising whine of “I want a candy” and soon I had a 2 year old laying flat on the floor, kicking his feet.  Had I been paying attention and intervened at the start of this candy demand, I think I could have distracted him and avoided the temper tantrum altogether.

For more parenting help during the holidays, you can check out Katherine Lewis’ blog carnival:

How to Eat Healthy This Holiday Season

This is a diagram depicting the rise of overwe...

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We’re coming into that dangerous season of overeating, oversnacking and going overboard when it comes to what we put in our mouths.  As parents, not only should we oversee what our children are eating…we should also try to be good role models.  I actually LOVE junk food…and work really hard to keep most of it out of the house because I know that if it is easily available, it will be eaten by me.   There are a few suggestions I have that work for me…I hope they work for you also.

  • Plan your weekly menus ahead of time…when we get busy as most of us are, failing to plan in this area is almost guaranteed to equal planning to fail.  Fast-food, take-out or frozen TV dinners may have their place on occasion…but if you put aside 30 minutes a week to plan some basic well-balanced meals, your family will be eating more healthfully most of the time.  This also allows you to maximize on weekly specials at your local stores.  And, it gives you more time for other things…like time to read a book or take a bubble bath.
  • Choose one morning or one afternoon or one evening a week to turn on your oven and use it to prepare casseroles, a roast chicken, baked potatoes, healthy cookies/cakes/muffins.  If you are able to put aside several hours on one day for this task, the rest of the week will be a breeze.  Refrigerate or freeze what you have prepared and you will have healthy, ready-made meals for most of the week.
  • Include your family in the planning and preparing…picky or fussy eaters often eat what they help prepare.  Children LOVE helping in the kitchen…it builds their confidence and self-esteem.
  • Think about portions…I truly believe that the large, super-sized meals that many of us eat, at home and in restaurants, are one of the largest contributing factors of childhood obesity.  Just because the cereal bowl can hold 2 or 3 cups of cereal doesn’t mean we should fill it to the top…if you read the portion size on the box of cereal, you’ll see it says 1/2 to 1 cup, depending on the type of cereal.  Dinner plates are really large…maybe you can use smaller plates when serving.
  • Remember to keep hydrated…I know that when I get busy, I forget to drink enough water…and then I think I am hungry and eat a couple of cookies, at 100 calories each, when what my body really wants is a glass of water.  With NO calories!  Also, try to nix the soda…full of empty calories and not much else except a college education for your dentist’s children.
  • Plan to have healthy snacks ready for hungry children and yourself between meals like carrot sticks and humus or apple slices and almond butter.  Again, if we don’t plan ahead, we will probably grab the first thing we see…and that might be cookies or chips.
  • If it works with your schedule, try eating 6 smaller meals, instead of the traditional 3.  When we are REALLY hungry, we tend to eat more than we should because we eat quickly and our internal hunger regulator doesn’t have time to kick in to tell us we are full.  And, on the subject of full, try to stop eating BEFORE you feel full…if you feel full, you’ve had too much.  This always happens to me when I go to an all-you-can-eat buffet…and I am never a happy camper afterwards.
  • Make sure you do allow yourself and your family some special food treats that are part of your holiday traditions or customs…denying oneself EVERYTHING we love is a sure way to feel deprived…and that often leads to overeating, oversnacking and going overboard.  I actually have a small ice-cream (made with fat-free frozen yogurt, a handful of homemade granola and a few almonds) every night after dinner.  I look forward to it and enjoy it immensely…it is my reward to myself for a good day’s work…and, so far, I haven’t had to hide the scale.

Do’s and Dont’s: Holiday Shopping with Preschoolers

Although we’d all probably like to leave our young children at home when we go shopping, this is not always possible.  So what can we do to make sure our holiday shopping trips with preschoolers go as smoothly and safely as possible.  Many of the following tips are from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and they are valuable to remember all year-long, not just during the holiday season.

DO’S FOR HOLIDAY SHOPPING WITH PRESCHOOLERS

  • Do keep children with you at all times.
  • Do accompany and supervise children in public restrooms.
  • Do have a plan in case you become separated…just like a fire safety plan which should be discussed at home and practiced routinely.
  • Do teach your child to look for people who can help…a uniformed security officer, salesperson with a name badge or another mother with children.
  • Do remind children to remain in the area where they became separated…there is a wonderful picture book story that addresses this issue…DON’T WORRY, I’LL FIND YOU by Anna Grossnickle Hines.  When Sarah and her mother go the mall to buy Sarah some clothes, Sarah insists on taking her doll.  When Sarah realizes she has left her doll at one of the stores, she runs to find it.  Now, however, she doesn’t know where her mother is.  Sarah remembers her mother’s instructions to “stay put” and so she remains  at the toy store and soon mother and child are reunited.  Read this story with your preschooler before your shopping trip and discuss the plan of action in case you become separated.

DON’TS FOR HOLIDAY SHOPPING WITH PRESCHOOLERS

  • Don’t dress children in clothing that displays their first or last name…this may give strangers an opportunity to start a conversation with your child.
  • Don’t leave children in the toy area of a store expecting store personnel to supervise your child while you shop in another area of the store.
  • Don’t allow young children to shop on their own to purchase gifts for friends or family members.
  • Don’t shop with your child if you feel you will be distracted.  Try to make other childcare arrangements…perhaps you and a friend who also has young children can take turns watching the children while the other goes shopping for a morning or afternoon.
  • Don’t allow children to push the shopping cart if there is a younger sibling in it…and don’t allow children to hang on the cart, even if it is empty…too many accidents occur when shopping carts tip over.

For busy parents, online shopping can be wonderful option this holiday season.  You can do it in the evening when the children are sleeping and avoid the crowds and parking hassles.  If you do go out shopping with your children, keep these tips in mind.  You’ll be glad you did!  If you need a gift for a parent, grandparent, teacher or babysitter of a preschooler, I’d like to suggest my newly published book, SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SLEF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING.  This great resource pinpoints 100 picture books every young child should hear and provides a story summary, parenting tip, eco-friendly craft project and child-friendly healthful cooking activity for each recommended title.   If you are looking for fun-filled, educational, self-esteem building activities, check it out. http://amzn.to/9taz9u

6 Tips for Safe Toy Selection This Holiday Season

With holiday toy shopping just getting underway, here are six tips that remind gift-givers to keep safety in mind when selecting toys for preschoolers.  Many of these tips come from the American Academy of Ophthalmology www.eyenet.org

  1. Select only toys and gifts that are appropriate for the child’s age and maturity level.  Check the packaging for age recommendations.
  2. Avoid toys with sharp, protruding or projectile parts.
  3. Check labels for the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) approval to be sure toys meet national safety standards.
  4. BB, paint or pellet guns and airpower rifles are classified as firearms and make dangerous gifts in homes where there are preschoolers, even if the gift is intended for an older child.  Similarly, darts and bows and arrows are also dangerous when they fall into the hands of a young child.
  5. Younger children are now participating in sports such as baseball, football, hockey and soccer.  If you are giving sports equipment, make sure to include the appropriate protective headgear such as helmets and facemasks or goggles with polycarbonate lenses.
  6. A picture book, whether an older classic or one of the newer additions to bookstore shelves, is always a safe and welcome gift.  Reading the story to the child will add so much value to the gift…it costs you nothing, but means the world to the listener.  Choosing which book can be a daunting task.  There are several sources you can consult.  THE READ-ALOUD HANDBOOK by Jim Trelease is an excellent guide.   You can also check out The New York Times Parents Guide to the Best Books for Children and quite a few other resources for choosing books for children at LibraryThing http://www.librarything.com/work/273100    For a list of 100 picture books every preschooler needs to hear, find a copy of SHOW ME HOW!  BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING.  This ultimate resource for parents and teachers of preschoolers also provides a story summary, parenting note, eco-friendly craft project and child-friendly healthful cooking activity for each recommended title. http://www.amazon.com/Self-Esteem-Through-Reading-Crafting-Cooking/dp/0967014751/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1289532916&sr=1-1

10 Crucial Holiday Tips for Parents of Preschoolers

Happy Holidays, everyone!  With the passing of Halloween, I feel we are really into the official holiday season…Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza…all celebrating life, family and love!

As much as we love holidays, they do bring additional safety concerns, especially when there are preschoolers in the home.  As families gather, there may be even more young children in your home, so read this list of 10 crucial holiday tips for parents of preschoolers.  Then, check them off the list as you make sure you take care of each safety measure to prevent accidents and ensure your family has a safe holiday season.

  1. Check your smoke detectors (you should have 1 on every level of your home) and replace the batteries, if needed.  Fire is the 2nd leading cause of unintentional death in the home.  Each year, thousands of people die in residential fires.  You should also have at least 1 fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen…and make sure every adult and grown child knows how to use it.  Sit down and write out a family escape plan…and practice at least once a month.
  2. Check your houseplants.  Holiday plants like Poinsettia and mistletoe are POISONOUS!  Make sure you keep ALL plants out of your children’s (and pet’s) reach.  If you suspect your child has ingested plant material that might be poisonous, call your local poison control center immediately.
  3. And on that note: Check to see that you have a list of important phone numbers (doctor, poison control center, hospital, 24-hour nurse line, several friends or family members who can be called upon at a moment’s notice to drive you somewhere or take care of your child temporarily).  Then make sure this list is posted where it will be highly visible, near a phone…and keep a pen and pad of paper there as well.
  4. Check to see that you have an emergency first aid kit…and make sure there are several working flashlights with fresh batteries.
  5. Check that there are guards around open heaters and fireplaces and make sure no fabric (like curtains or bedspreads) or decorations touch lamps or night lights.
  6. Check that all electrical outlets that are not being used have plastic plug covers and keep cords, wires and power strips out of your child’s reach.  With holiday decorations, we often add many more items needing electrical power.  Be careful not to overload power strips or circuit breakers.
  7. Check that scissors (for doing holiday crafts and wrapping presents), knives and other sharp objects are locked up or in high cabinets.  The same goes for cleaning supplies and items like potpourri oil.  We get so busy during the holiday season, but we want to make sure our little ones are safe.
  8. Check that pot and pan handles are turned away from the outer edge of the stove.  Use the back burners when preschoolers are in the house.  Involving your children with the holiday food preparation is great fun (and wonderful for building their self-esteem), but we want to make sure they are doing the measuring and mixing in a bowl at the table, not pouring the ingredients into the pot on the stove.
  9. Check that decorations that are within reach of preschoolers have no little parts or pieces that can become detached.  Soft stuffed decorations with sewn on ribbons are beautiful and festive.  Perhaps you can put away the precious glass ornaments until your children are older…or you might decide to make a lovely display of those breakables on a high shelf, visible to adults, but unavailable to little ones.  Homemade ornaments will be treasured for years (we still have several that our children made over 20 years ago).  They can be made of paper, ribbon, yarn, felt and clay.  The joy you all feel when crafting today will become a very important part of your families’ holiday tradition.
  10. Check that your holiday schedule is not overwhelming, for you and for your child.  Entertaining, attending holiday services and events, shopping, preparing the house for guests…these activities require extra time, energy and money…and add stress to our lives that are already often on the edge.  Changes in routines can wreak havoc with your children’s tempers…and yours.  So don’t feel you have to do EVERYTHING!  If purchasing cupcakes from the store instead of baking them yourself for your child’s nursery school holiday party makes life a little easier for you, do it!  Remember to take time for yourself…try to get enough sleep…eat as nutritiously as you can…walk or dance at least 30 minutes 4 times a week…and breath deeply.   

I’m planning to do at least 2 more holiday themed posts: 5 Tips for Safe Holiday Toy Selection for Your Preschooler and 7 Critical Tips for Safe Holiday Shopping and Traveling with Preschoolers.  I’ll also post some of the eco-friendly craft projects and child-friendly healthful cooking activities you can do with your preschoolers this holiday season.