Taming Temper Tantrums

I'm not listening


Temper tantrums are the worst, and they tend to happen at the most inopportune moments.  If you are the parent, or the grandparent, of a young child, knowing how to diffuse (or even prevent) a tantrum is an essential skill to have.

Teach Language

One way to prevent temper tantrums is to help improve your child’s ability to express how what he or she is feeling, or thinking. It is often that inability to express themselves that leads to anger.  If your child knows how to express himself, you might be able to get past the tantrum stage quickly.

The best way to do this is to teach and discuss the language of feelings.  When we are first teaching children to read, or to understand, we tend to teach them nouns, and we spend a lot of time doing it.

Nouns are really only a small part of the vocabulary, though, and when your children are trying to get a point across to you, nouns do them very little good.  So, try to start labeling feelings when you teach your child words.  When you are tired, tell your son or daughter, “Mommy is tired!” Tell them what would make you feel better, for example taking a nap, or just sitting down to rest.

Or, when you are happy, tell them that, too.  “Mommy is so happy!  I love ice cream!”  Use this especially with words that will help them get over their frustrations, such as hungry, tired, thirsty, angry, sad, etc.

If you know how your child feels, you can help to alleviate those feelings and nip that temper tantrum in the bud. As an added bonus, you get some quality teaching time with her.

Teaching moments can be as fun as asking your child how a cartoon character on television is feeling, or how a character in a book is feeling, or how her stuffed animal is feeling. Once they can express these emotions successfully they will no longer feel frustrated.

Pay Attention

Keep a tantrum diary detailing what ignites your child.  This will help you to pick up on the about-to-flare-up signals and quickly distract her/him into a more calming activity.

If your toddler usually has an afternoon melt down, do  shopping and errands in the morning.  Is he or she getting enough sleep?  You may need to adjust bed or nap time.

You need to let children  know early on that tantrums don’t work. Once your toddler realizes that manipulative tantrums will not get them any where, this behavior will self-destruct This may mean waiting out a tantrum by ignoring it.  Make sure the child is in a safe place and let him/her scream.   You may have to leave the store or restaurant.  You may have to pull over.  But if you react with benign indifference a few times the behavior will fade.  If tantrums have become a habit, they may get worse before they get better.  Hang in there and hang tough.

Post tantrum

Tantrums will happen, no matter what you do, but you can use that ‘post tantrum cooling off period’ to talk about what went wrong, and figure out how to avoid this problem in the future.  You can ask your child how he or she was feeling, what made him feel this way, etc.  Smaller children will not have the words to really express these things, but if they can voice those emotions that we mentioned before, you are well on your way to understanding what happened, and how to avoid this problem in the future.  After everyone is calm, it’s fun and effective for kids as young as 2.5 or 3 to role play how to act in situations.  They get a kick out of watching you mimicking a tantrum then acting out, with them, a more acceptable way to get what they want.

If you are out shopping, it may simply be that your child is tired, and needs a break. However, if he does not tell you, and goes right into meltdown mode, no one wins.  If you can get your child to say, “I am tired” or “I need a rest” before you head out the door you might be able to save yourself a headache.

Usually a tantrum is the last straw, for your child! It simply means that he has had it!  He is tired, he is cranky, he is hungry, he is frustrated–something, and whatever happens next will set him off. So be cognizant of your child’s emotions, and have him express those emotions in the best way that he can (aside from a tantrum).

Parents and grandparents are really the best teachers for children because your children identity with you more than they do with anyone else. What you say means more.

So, simply work on language every chance you get and see if those temper tantrums subside.  In a nut shell, providing  your child the tools  to express him/herself, is a key to enjoying the terrific twos.


What Not To Wear: stuff you don’t want to wear or bring to daycare

dressed up kids

“Play is really the work of childhood.” Mister Rogers

When you dress for work, you choose clothing appropriate to your profession. Just as you wouldn’t wear heels at a construction site or scrubs to the office, choosing the right clothing for your little ones to wear to daycare is equally important. Daycare is where children develop fine and gross motor skills, social skills, and develop the very beginnings of literacy and numeracy. You might want to dress your little boy in the most precious wee suits or your daughter in charming frocks, but these are best saved for occasions when the primary task is posing for photos, not learning vital skills. Parenting tips don’t always include fashion advice, but these will help you and your little ones stay comfortable and preserve the clothing you treasure. So what should you save for special occasions?

Clothes that require dry cleaning should be saved for family photos. Anything in silk, fine wool (such as some suit jackets), would fall into this category. Daycare is a messy place. Children spill food and beverages on themselves and others, and gleefully partake in messy arts and crafts activities. Parenting tips often involve sharing favorite stain removers, and for good reason. If your child is in clothes that can’t get wet, even to remove stains, they’ll not have nearly as much fun.

Clothes that can’t tolerate rough handling should stay on the sidelines. Delicate lace and beading often get ruined in rough play. Even if your youngster isn’t the rowdy type, he or she might get jostled by more energetic classmates. Beaded items could also pose a choking hazard if the beads are torn loose. When choosing clothes, ask your child to move around when trying them on. Some shirt and pant seams can’t tolerate a wide range of movement. If the seams strain as your child is reaching up, then it’s not a good choice for someone who might spend time on the monkey bars. Some clothing brands can offer just the right amount of ease, so ask friends and family for parenting tips on good brands for active kids.

Clothing that can’t be easily replaced should be sparingly used. Do not send your child to daycare in anything your family considers an heirloom, no matter how careful your child is. Clothing does gets lost at daycare and at school. Any handmade clothing made by someone who is sensitive about their work should be saved for photos. If your aunt doesn’t care that her handknit sweater is stained and ripped under the arm, then feel free to send your child to daycare wearing it. But if a lost or ruined item will cause family tensions, keep it at home.

The best fashion choices for daycare include comfortable clothing that is machine washable and has soft tags for easy labeling. While your little one might look like a child model, daycare is a different “work” environment than a fashion shoot. Save the darling outfits for when your child is truly ready for their close-up, and he or she will have picture perfect days at daycare.

Bye Bye Baby- how to leave the childcare without tears



Childcare can be a great adventure. However, when you’re leaving your child there, the experience is often difficult for both you and the child. Use these parenting tips to ensure your child’s transition is as smooth as possible. In turn, your mindset will be much better.

waving goodby

  • Let your children know what to expect. Your kids are used to the rhythm of your family life, and childcare disrupts that. They’ll be confronted with new rules and routines. Explain that while you are at work, they will be having fun. Say that they will make new friends and play with lots of cool toys. If possible, visit the childcare with your children prior to the start date and have them meet the teacher and get a feel for the place. That may not be enough, and a photo book with pictures taken during that visit will help remind the child of what to expect. However, don’t treat this as some huge ordeal or change. Another idea is to read a couple of books about childcare adventures to your children.
  • Practice consistency. This is probably the most critical of these parenting tips. If the first day of drop-off goes terribly, shrug it off and start fresh the next day. And the next. Before you know it, a new routine has been established, and your child is looking forward to childcare. Avoid pulling your child out if the first hand-off (or subsequent ones) go badly. This serves to tell the child he can sidestep negative feelings and also puts him in control.
  • Keep goodbyes and hellos snappy. This area is particularly important for consistency. When you say goodbye, say something like: “Goodbye for now. I will be back after nap time to get you. I hope you have a fun day!” or “Bye for now. See you later, alligator!” Turn and leave. Don’t look back or linger. Definitely don’t sneak off without informing your child you are leaving.  When you do return after work, point out that you are back, exactly as you said you would be. Your child will get the message that these goodbyes are by no means permanent.
  • Enlist the teacher’s help. Write or type a bulleted list for the teacher that gives her the lowdown on your child’s life at home. For example, include information on when your child eats, sleeps and uses the bathroom. Also include personal touches such as your child’s favorite color, story, games and songs. Of vital importance is to highlight any allergies your child may have and methods you use to calm your child. The teacher can take advantage of your parenting tips to keep your child happy.
  • Let your child choose a “buddy” to bring from home. The “buddy,” which could be a photo, blanket, doll, cup or pretty much anything, will make the child feel more at home and will function as an emotional support of sorts. After some time passes, the child probably will no longer need the “buddy.”
  • Stay away. This means no surprise drop-ins and resisting the temptation to call every more than twice a day. You must trust the childcare to contact you if an emergency occurs. Remember that children are intuitive and read moods well. You being anxious will give your child anxiety that wasn’t there or fuel further anxiety. Give your child’s distress at childcare about two weeks to a month to subside.
  • Remember your child adores you whether saying goodbye is easy or tough for them; whether they rush to you when you come to pick them up or tell you to wait a minute, they aren’t ready to go.  Sometimes younger children have NO problem with goodbye the first week or so- pre-school is a grand adventure. But they may begin to cry after two weeks or so when they realize this is an everyday thing.  Wanting to stay means they are Very secure: you’ve found the right place and they know you will always be there. If  either event  happens, know that it’s normal, and follow the tips above.

Following these parenting tips should result in relatively smooth hand-offs. However, if the tears and tantrums are especially severe and persist more than a month, have someone else take your child to childcare for a few days.

Practical Literacy: using Signs and Labels to help your child read

stop signReading is the most fundamental of all school skills , and the first thing children begin to learn in school.  An easy way to supplement your child’s first attempts at sight reading words is to point out road signs, store signs,and labels

Pay attention to signs with commands “Stop,” “One Way,” or “Do Not Enter,” “Yield”.   Watch out for signs that say “Hill”, or “Slow” or “Curve”. There’s tons of opportunity to point out “Road work ahead” over and over and over 🙂 One of the children in my class learned how to write “Thank You” thanks to road construction projects.  You can make a game out of reading the signs, asking questions like, “What should I do now?” or “Can I go this way?”  The follow-up questions are important, since it provides practice reading, and comprehending.  Street name signs can help when you are teaching your child your address. If your child is older, you can take this one step further by asking things like, “I’m looking for Sycamore Avenue.  Can you tell me when I’ve come to it?”  Then the child will have to read all the street signs and mentally match the words with the name.

This technique doesn’t have to stay inside the car.  You can take your child for a walk around a shopping center and ask him or her to read the names of the stores.  Again, you can make this a game by asking follow-up questions.  For example, if you see a place called “Park Avenue Florist,” ask “What do they sell here?”  Even when you’re inside a store, you can still continue the reading exercises.  You can treat this outing almost like a scavenger hunt, saying things like “I need to buy something for an office,” then pointing to the aisle markers hanging from the ceiling and saying, “Which aisle has things for an office?” It takes time, but you can use labels off cans and food packages to teach reading in the grocery store. Now days it’s so simple to take a photo of what you are planning to buy. Then show your child the photo and ask her to find the item.

There’s never been a better teacher than you combined with hands on experience, so it may be time to consider your entire neighborhood a rich teaching tool.

Age Appropriate Chores for Getting Toddlers and Preschoolers to Help Around the House

boys doing dishesKids play at our jobs.  They pretend to have adult jobs, to be moms and dads, to do every job and activity they see around them daily.  Although we, as adults, feel like most of the chores around the house are things that only we can do, our children want to help. Just as adults need to feel like they’re making a contribution around the house, kids do as well. It is important to include your child in a few daily chores. Although many household chores aren’t appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers, there are still several things that they can help with. Chores for Kids Ages 2-3 It is great to start letting kids help at this age because they actually want to. Toddlers are eager to do jobs that they see mom and dad doing. And there are a surprising amount of chores that you can assign to these little ones, as long as you’re helping. If you want a toddler to participate, you need to make it fun!

  • Dusting. While you are dusting higher areas, allow your child to dust baseboards and smaller furniture. Sing a song while you’re dusting and always praise your toddler for his great work.
  • Assist in making beds. At this age, your toddler may have just transitioned from a crib to a toddler or even a big kid bed. By starting this task early and repeating it daily, it helps your child to get into the habit, which will be nice for when he’s older!
  • Put toys away. At the end of the day, you should not be left to do all of the picking up. If your toddler gets bored with a toy and wants to move on to something else, have him put the toy away first. It’s good to reinforce the importance of picking up after ourselves.
  • Help with laundry. Have your toddler put dirty clothes into the hamper or even help with moving laundry from the washer to the dryer, etc. Toddlers might even manage some easy folding, such as washcloths.

Chores for Kids Ages 4-5 Asking kids at this age to “help” is very important. They’re a lot more capable than most of us give them credit for, but we also want to be actively participating in the job with them.

  • Set the table. As long as you’re supervising, allow your child to put plates, napkins, and silverware on the table before dinnertime. This also will give you a chance to teach your child the correct order for silverware.
  • Feed the pet(s). Especially if the pet was a gift to the child, this is a great way to teach them to be responsible for their possessions.
  • Use handheld vacuum. If you’re vacuuming, help your child to feel like he’s in on the action by giving him a handheld vacuum to pick up crumbs.
  • Empty small trash cans.
  • Water plants or pull weeds. Children love to play outside and get dirty anyways. Why not recruit some help in the garden?
  • Sweep floors.
  • Unload utensils from the dishwasher. Your child can even help to load and unload plasticware or small plates from the dishwasher as well!
  • Make bed. At this age, your child should be able to make his bed all on his own!

We don’t give our children enough credit sometimes, but there are a number of things that they can help us with! Assigning chores is great for teaching practical skills to preschoolers and toddlers alike.

Festival fun and safety with young children



Many families love to attend fairs, festivals, and carnivals with their babies and young children during the warm summer months. These events often include activities that are fun for the whole family. It is important to take the necessary safety precautions to ensure that everyone has a good time at these events, including you.

Do your research

Look up information about the event ahead of time so that you know what to expect. Check out the size of the event, the attractions and vendors that it includes, how the parking works, and whether or not strollers are allowed. Everyone in the family will be less stressed and better prepared if there are clear expectations. If your children are old enough to understand, talk to them about the event. For example, it can be helpful for them to know that it may be crowded and noisy and that they need to stay close to Mom and Dad at all times.

Be realistic about how long you should stay

The last thing that you want to do when you attend an event is set your children up to fail. Even if you regularly attended festivals multiple days in a row for long stretches of time each day before you had kids, your little ones will not be up for this type of schedule. Plan to avoid the busiest parts of the festivities and to take breaks from the action as needed.

Pay attention to the weather and plan accordingly

Most likely the festival or fair will include a lot of walking. Make sure that everyone wears sturdy, comfortable footwear that is suitable for lengthy periods on your feet. Check the weather before heading out the door and choose appropriate clothing. If it is chilly or there is a good chance that the temperature will drop later in the day, dress in layers. Bring hats, and make sure to apply sunscreen.

Keep in mind that thunderstorms can spring up unexpectedly during the summer. Have a plan of action in place so that you can seek shelter at the event or make it back to your car in a timely fashion in case there is lightning in the area.

Make smart decisions about meals and snacks

You want to make sure that your children are not hungry during the event, but you also want to avoid having anyone getting sick from the rides. If there are carnival rides, plan to ride them before you eat anything heavy or greasy, such as corn dogs and funnel cake. If your kids need a snack before going on the rides, stick to lighter options such as crackers and popcorn.

Drink lots of water

If possible, bring in your own water. Most festivals charge a premium for beverages. You don’t want to skimp on the water because it’s expensive. Keep in mind that when you feel thirsty, you’re already getting dehydrated. Keep the water flowing while you’re at the event so that there is no risk of this happening.

Take measures to prevent separation

Identify the security guards and stations at the event and point them out to your kids. Equip your children with contact information. Keep a piece of paper with your name and cell phone number with each child that he or she can give to an adult if needed. Stick together as much as possible. Any time a family member separates from the group, there is a greater risk of someone getting lost.

Why Cooking With Kids Has Many Benefits

Style: "Agfa"


When it comes to ideas for things to do with young children, cooking might not be high on the list. For many people it’s just another part of daily life rather than an activity to really get into, finding the time can be a problem, and most of us look forward to occasions when we eat out or order food in.

This is missing a big way to help your kids and your relationship with them, though. Cooking with kids is a wonderful idea that has a variety of benefits for both yourself and them. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons finding the time to do some cooking with your kids is a sound idea:

  • It’s a vital life skill. This is the most obvious starting point. Being able to cook is a supremely important skill that many people sadly lack. Now, obviously you’re not likely to be turning a young child into a world-class chef, but helping them learn the basics of cooking from an early age will place them in a strong position for learning more as they grow up. Cooking your own food gives you much more control over what goes into your body, and it’s a great skill for social occasions as well, so a good grounding from a young age is good for later life in more than one way.
  • It can be lots of fun. Cooking doesn’t have to be a chore, especially if you bow to a kid’s inevitable wishes to make something really fun. Suppose you bake a cake together – they can have a whale of a time helping to decorate it. Or maybe you’d like to make some cookies, which could be cut into all kinds of neat shapes from animals to sci-fi aliens. Even less ‘exciting’ dishes can still be made fun, the classic example being making a face out of bacon and eggs for breakfast.
  • Time spent together. We all know that spending time with the little ones is important but between jobs, chores, and time for yourself, finding that time can be a real challenge, especially if you’re a single parent. Well, one solution to this is to combine something that has to be done anyway with time spent together, and cooking is one of the best ways to do that. Your kids can contribute as appropriate for their age, perhaps by kneading dough or whisking eggs, while you take care of things involving the oven, and you’ll be in the same room doing something together. That’s a powerful way to grow closer and give you both the opportunity to talk to each other.
  • A sense of pride. Finally, the act of creating something is a source of pride, even moreso if it’s something that can be shared with other people. It may only be a small way, but if you cook something together and can enjoy a meal, or maybe share cookies with friends at school, it can really help your child understand the value of working on a task and seeing it through, and taking pride in their accomplishments.

These are just some of the benefits you could get from taking the time to do some cooking alongside your kids. Just remember to ensure they act safely and that you keep them away from hot or sharp objects, and you’ll be able to spend time together on something productive and rewarding!

Make summer reading a FUN priority

siblings readingWith your children home for the summer, you are probably trying to find ways to keep them busy, and engaged.  Why not try to make reading both a priority, and fun?

Did you know that during the summer, your children could experience was is called “summer learning loss”  if they are not involved in activities that use their math and reading skills?  It is true. This “loss” means that your kids could forget up to two months of math and reading learning.

Tools for keeping literacy alive this summer:

One great thing that parents and older siblings can do to keep the young ones interested in reading is simply lead by example. If your children see older children and adults reading, they will want to emulate you.

Always have a book on hand, for you, and for your children. Rainy afternoon?  Pull out the books! If you have to run errands or go to the doctor, dentist or eye doctor and find yourself sitting around a waiting room, pull out your books.  Leading by example really makes your children see just how great reading can be.

Another fun way to get your kids involved in reading is to make it a game.  Hang a chart in your kitchen or other high traffic area. Put everyone’s name on it, and then track progress. Give out gold stars for finishing a book, and set goals. First person to five books gets to choose dinner (or dessert!), first person to ten books picks where you go on Saturday afternoon, etc.  Having goals, and prizes, is a great way to instill a desire to read!

Finally, do not limit your young readers to ‘just’ books.  If your kids love comic books, encourage them to read on!  Every piece of ‘literature’ has value, even if they are just reading the back of their cereal boxes in the morning.  Magazines geared towards kids, comics, the newspaper, whatever they want to read, encourage them.

There are even a number of free e-books online as well as free children’s magazine subscriptions.  Find those and increase your kids’ libraries.  Speaking of library, this is the perfect summer afternoon outing!  Pack up the family and head over. Typically summertime at the library includes fun activities for kids, so grab a schedule or call your local library today!


Have preschoolers at home?  Making reading fun for preschoolers is actually very easy and will keep parents (and siblings) entertained, too.  At the preschool age, reading too your kids is key.  Enlist the entire family.  Maybe take turns reading to your preschooler (brother or sister takes one night, you take a night, and offer incentives to the older siblings for helping out), find fun new books they will love, or take them to story time at the library.

The key here is fun.  If you make reading fun at an early age, they will never forget it!

A Little Dirt is a Good Thing


 sand box

In the last decade or 2 we have been seeing a rash of products aimed and keeping germs at bay.   We’ve begun using antibacterial cleaners on all surfaces in all rooms. Many parents have not yet got the message that broad spectrum antibiotic medications can be overused and often are! But recent studies suggest that they do kill germs, but even the good ones. They now see our immune systems as being just like all of our other systems- use it or lose it. To build a strong immune system kids have to be exposed to germs!


So, let’em play in mud, and jump in puddles. At home, use the “5 second rule” if the cupcake is dropped go ahead and eat it. If it’s dropped at a restaurant or say, the ER, toss it. No need to be crazy while working out the immune system.


Don’t rush to the doctor at the first sign of sniffles or coughs. In fact, only treat low grade fever of 99-100.9 degrees if your child is miserable. The same can be said of the common fevers of 101-103.5 for 24 hours or your child is miserable- whichever comes first. Fevers are your bodies way of killing viruses, so if possible, give your child’s body 24 hours to heal itself. But use common sense. This is not advice to ignore a sick child!


So, regular soap and water are great, and a little dirt is safe, just make sure you wash long enough. (you know you love singing Happy Birthday 2 x, right?). Deliberately exposing children to infection is wrong, but keeping them in a germ free bubble won’t help either!

It’s supposed to stop raining and fun time in the sun is here.  It’s very important to understand the ways to protect your child from harmful UV and UVB sun rays- no matter how fair or dark complected- sunburn effects everyone! And just a few slight burns can add up- the effect of sun damage overtime can snowball into skin cancer.  So, it’s important that your child’s skin is protected from harmful rays whenever they are outdoors.

Shade is best.  Avoid doing things out of doors in the middle of the day- plan your activities for the morning or after 3 p.m.  If that’s impossible, hang out under trees, umbrellas or a pop up tent.  Beach umbrellas or small hand umbrellas are great and you can pick up cheap (under 20.00), easy to set up tents at most discount stores.

Clothing is great- your child probably won’t want to wear long pants and sleeves, but shorts and tee shirts are great too.  Just remember to use sunscreen on exposed skin.

Hats are great too, but remember the kid’s favorites may not cover the scalp, tips of ears and necks.  If that’s the case, sunscreen is needed.  You can be a desert rat and add a bandana to the back of a ball cap, but if that’s not possible, you have to add sunscreen.

Eyes need protection too!  Go and get everyone some cheap sunglasses- lots of pairs, they are easy to loose!

You must use sunscreen that is at least SPR 15, but anything over 50 is a waste of money and may give you a false sense of security.  Remember the SPF number refers to how much longer you could stay in the sun than if not using sunscreen under perfect conditions; applied correctly (that means enough, most of us are stingy when applying), it isn’t sweated off, or lost in the pool.  Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before hanging around in the sun, and it must be reapplied after swimming, lots of sweating- that goes for waterproof sunscreen too! If you aren’t losing your sunscreen to sweat or the pool, it still should be reapplied every 2 hours if you can’t go inside.  Two hours is a good rule of thumb for safe sun exposure WITH sunscreen. And remember,  clouds do not block UV rays, they filter them—and sometimes only slightly.  UV Rays are the cause of sun damage- not warm temperatures.

 Children still need protection. UV rays, not the temperature, do the damage. Remember to put sunscreen on the tops of feet if your child is wearing sandals, on the tops of their ears, any scalp the is exposed to the sun at the part.  

Follow the directions on the package for using a sunscreen product on babies less than 6 months old. All products do not have the same ingredients; if your or your child’s skin reacts badly to one product, try another one or call a doctor. Your baby’s best defense against sunburn is avoiding the sun or staying in the shade.


Levels of Sun Damage from the CDC:

Turning pink? Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes. Yet it can take up to 12 hours for skin to show the full effect of sun exposure. So, if your child’s skin looks “a little pink” today, it may be burned tomorrow morning. To prevent further burning, get your child out of the sun.

Tan? There’s no other way to say it—tanned skin is damaged skin. Any change in the color of your child’s skin after time outside—whether sunburn or suntan—indicates damage from UV rays.

Kids often get sunburned when they are outdoors unprotected for longer than expected. Remember to plan ahead, and keep sun protection handy—in your car, bag, or child’s backpack.


Thomas Learning Centers provides sunscreen from Rocky Mt. Sunscreen to parent for a nominal charge.  Of course you are welcome to provide your favorite brand as well.