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Help Your Toddler Adjust to a New Sibling

July 21, 2015

By Jennifer Eckert

Help Your Toddler Adjust to a New Sibling: 3 Common Problems and Solutions | It's tough going from being the only child to having a baby in the house, especially for toddlers. As this mom navigates the behavioral changes, she shares three common problems and solutions to help your toddler adjust. | A sister kisses her baby sister.

Last month I shared strategies my husband and I used to prepare our son for the arrival of our new baby. Bobby has been a big brother to Baby Henry for almost six months now, and I have to admit that the adjustment period is still a work in progress.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children between the ages of two and four have the most difficult time adapting to a new arrival since they are still very attached to their parents and may be sensitive to change. Bobby fits this definition to a T. Following are some of the observations I’ve made about toddler behavior in response to the arrival of a new sibling, along with strategies we’ve been using to cope.

The Problem: Acting Out 
When we first brought Henry home from the hospital, it seemed like Bobby would choose the minute I sat down to nurse to do something he wasn’t supposed to do. Numerous times, I found myself trying to feed a hungry newborn while trying to get my toddler to stop unrolling an entire roll of toilet paper, pulling the cat’s tail, or doing some other “no-no.” 

The Solution: Offer Alternatives 
Bobby was obviously trying to get my attention, and he figured that negative attention was better than no attention at all. I dissuaded him from this behavior by finding a special activity he could do while I was nursing. I knew he was obsessed with the ceiling fan in the master bedroom, so I would sit on the bed to nurse while he snuggled up next to me and blissfully turned the fan on and off with the remote.

The Problem: Regressing to Baby-like Behavior 
I thought we were going to get away without encountering this phase, but a few weeks ago, Bobby started to act less like a toddler and more like a baby. Instead of using words to ask for something, he started pointing and whining, and his interest in potty-training all but disappeared. He also wanted to be picked up and held all the time, and he suddenly “forgot” how to put his shoes on by himself.

The Solution: Point Out “Big Boy/Girl” Benefits 
Bobby obviously saw how much time my husband and I spent doing things for Henry and, in his two-year-old mind, decided that we would do the same for him if he stopped doing them for himself. We’re still working on this solution, but we have been trying to emphasize the positive side of getting older.

This past Independence Day, we let Bobby stay up to watch the fireworks and made a point of telling him that Baby Henry was too little to stay up late. We’ve also been consciously trying to praise him whenever he does something for himself. And, of course, a little babying doesn’t hurt every once in a while. I know the day will soon come when he no longer wants to curl up in my lap, so I’m enjoying it while I can.

The Problem: Competing for Attention 
This behavior reared its ugly head during a recent long car ride. Henry started crying, so my husband turned to try to soothe him. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Bobby started wailing at the top of his lungs—completely outdoing Henry. In other instances, whenever one of us praised Henry for some new accomplishment, Bobby would immediately do the same thing and say, “Bobby, too! Bobby, too!” 

The Solution: Turn Competition into Collaboration 
For two years, Bobby was used to being the center of attention . . . and then he suddenly had to share the limelight. My husband and I have tried to minimize feelings of competition by encouraging Bobby to help us care for Henry and then praising him for his good work. For instance, we’ve gotten Bobby to help us when giving Henry a bath. He loves pouring water over his brother’s body to keep him warm while in the tub. 

We also try to turn certain activities into things the boys can do together. Every month, we take Henry’s picture in the same chair so we can capture his growth during his first year. After we get some shots of Henry alone, we take pictures of both boys in the chair, followed by a few solo shots of Bobby. That way, he feels included in the process. 

None of these solutions are foolproof, but my husband and I hope that we are making the transition from only child to big brother a little easier for Bobby while also fostering a bond between our Bobby and Henry that will continue to grow as they get older.

Learn more about infant and toddler care in the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher 3-book set, available on Amazon

Jennifer Eckert is an editor at National Geographic Learning and a freelance writer. She lives in Chicago with one husband, two sons, and three cats.


How to Prevent the Summer Slide

July 14, 2015

By Sandra Braceful-Quarles

How to Prevent the Summer Slide | The summer slide occurs when children don't practice any academics during the summer vacation, often leading to over two months' of learning loss. Here are some tips to prevent that learning loss. | Three students approach a teacher's desk, frustrated.

Summer break is a time to relax, have fun, and enjoy these lazy days. Students are given a break to spend more time with family and friends, go on vacations, and discover something new. As your child’s first teacher, you should be aware that not participating in any learning activities over the summer might cause the dreaded summer slide.

The Research
The U.S. Department of Education defines the summer slide as the loss of learning that takes place during the summer months when children are not engaged in educational activities.

You may think, “how much learning could possibly be lost over a few summer months?” Over 100 years of research shared by the National Summer Learning Institute suggests that score two to three months lower on the same standardized test given at the end of summer compared to the beginning of summer vacation. After a few summers, those months can easily add up to a loss of one school year.

The Solutions
So what can you do to reverse or prevent this anticipated loss? Good news: there are many options available for you and your child. Remember to focus on their interests and having fun while they learn during summer vacation.

The Library
Your local library is a great place to start. Many libraries have summer reading programs to encourage students to read over the summer. Kids usually receive a reward at the end of the program based on the number of books they read.

Encourage your child to choose a book he or she enjoys reading, and not the one you want your child to read. Turn to a page in a book and use the Five Finger Rule for mistakes while your child reads as a guide: 0 – 1 = too easy; 2 - 3 = perfect choice; 4 = okay to try with an adult; 5+ = too hard.

The Kitchen
Cooking is a fun way to incorporate reading, math, and art into a learning activity. The reading part comes with following the recipe, which makes the dish taste delicious. Have your child—the chef of the day—read instructions aloud as you act as his or her assistant.

The math is the measurement part of the recipe. Instead of using 1 cup, use 1/3 cup (pour three 1/3 cups into 1 cup) to show that they are equal.

Children can show artistic skills when plating and presenting the meal.

Hobbies are the perfect opportunities for reading and learning. If your child shows an interest in a particular topic, suggest he or she learn more about those activities. For example, if your child is interested in swimming, read about how to become a better swimmer, convert laps in pool meters into miles, or learn about famous swimmers.

Already planned a vacation? Create before, during, and after vacation activities. Read brochures or books together before you leave. While on vacation, point out locations and cultural qualities that you learned about in those reading materials. During the vacation or upon your return, encourage your child to write about the activities in a summer adventure journal.

Enjoy your summer of learning and relaxing. Your child has many resources available to prevent any learning loss. With these tips, the only summer slide your child will ride is at the local playground or amusement park.

What other lessons do you incorporate throughout the summer to keep your child’s skills sharp? Tell me in the comments below.

Looking for more ways to improve your child’s learning experience outside of school? Pick up a copy of YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher on Amazon.

Sandra Braceful-Quarles is an educator, community liaison, and tutor working in the south suburbs of Chicago. As an active member of her worship community, she is passionate about giving back and volunteering to help others. She and her husband have three children and two grandchildren.


3 Strategies to Teach Your Teen to Budget Their Summer Paycheck

July 7, 2015

By Nely Bergsma

3 Strategies to Teach Your Teen to Budget Their Summer Paycheck | It's never to late to teach your teen the valuable life skill of budgeting. Try these three tips to help them grasp the concept of saving and buying mostly what they need. | A teenager stands behind the counter of her summer job.

When is a good time to discuss savings and budgeting with your teenager? Financial professionals suggest a good starting point is when children begin to receive an allowance. But don’t get discouraged if you didn’t start then; it is never too late to introduce savings and budgeting to your child.

Now that summer is here, your adolescent may insist on needing a job and be enthusiastic about the idea of earning his or her own money. But most teens work so that they can spend. Teaching yours to set a budget can be useful in curtailing his or her spending and encouraging savings.

30-day Plan
Begin by keeping it simple. Ask what your teen intends on doing with the money he or she earns. Then suggest waiting 30 days before spending any bit of the paycheck. This tactic cuts down on impulse buying and helps to identify what your child needs versus wants.

Create a Budget
During the 30-day waiting period, encourage your son or daughter to create a budget. A budget is a useful tool for keeping track of spending habits.

Ask your teen to identify what he or she actually spends each month on food, entertainment, cell phone, and clothes. Use real numbers, not estimates.

Dig through your own personal bank and credit card statements to help your teen figure it out. This process will easily show both of you the areas where he or she may be overspending.

Spend Less Than They Earn
Lastly, remind your son or daughter to spend less than they earn and put away that difference for the future. This budgeting and financial planning will help your teen achieve his or her short-term and future financial goals.

Learning and practicing good financial habits now can serve to support your child’s emotional growth and financial independence in the future. Practicing these strategies will help them get there.

It's never too late to supplement your teen's school education with lessons at home. For more tips like these, read our YOU: Your Child's First Teacher books, available on Amazon. 


Fireworks Alternatives

July 2, 2015

Fireworks Alternatives | If you have young children or animals, fireworks might be too intense for them this year. Instead, try these homemade noisemakers.

If you have young kids or animals, fireworks could a bit too much for them this year. The noises alone can frighten them and if they’re too close, can cause hearing damage or burns.

For a more family-friendly 4th of July celebration, try homemade noisemakers. The noise level is more appropriate for youngsters and it won’t send your animals running for the hills. Noisemakers are a safe and easy way for your kids to participate in the ruckus without harming anyone. Here are some ideas:

  • Put uncooked rice in an empty plastic bottle, tightening the cap, and shake.
  • Give the kids a box of macaroni and cheese that you haven’t opened yet.
  • Tape one end of a toilet paper tube, pour in rice or candy, and then tape up the other side. Let your kids decorate the tubes with colorful markers and glitter.

You would be surprised how fun shaking these bottles and boxes can be for a young child.

Do you have another fireworks alternative we should try? Share in the comments below. Happy 4th of July!

Tags :  family funholidayssafety