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How to handle Toddler Tantrums - All about Parenting Toddlers , Issue #007
March 06, 2003

Shaping the life of your precious ones

All about Parenting Toddlers
Issue #007
6th March 2003

In This Issue:

1. How to handle Toddler Tantrums
2. Twenty Toys You Don't Have to Buy (Part 1)
3. Secrets of Reading Success

How to handle Toddler Tantrums

A mother recently asked what she could do with a two year old toddler, who had terrible tantrums, refused to cooperate over anything and could even undo the buckle in her car seat while they were moving. Once in a tantrum the child was inconsolable and most things set a tantrum off. She and her husband had conflicting views on how this could be handled. Whatever they tried did not seem to work and they were at their wits end. It seemed like tantrums were ruling their lives. Does this sound familiar? It probably does, since most toddlers go through a tantrum time as they learn to assert their autonomy. But, telling parents that this is normal is not enough, they want answers!

Keeping your cool is reassuring to a toddler (over time!) who is in the process of finding out about their own feelings and responses in ways that are new to them too. This means keeping your voice low and calm as much as possible. If having a tantrum is noticed and attended to, the child learns that having a tantrum is the way of getting what they want. If the tantrum is ignored, they will learn in time that this is not how to get what they want. The key here is "in time" . It takes many experiences before they first realise tantrums do not work and then that a tantrum is not the way to get what they want. Somehow a parent has to learn to close off to the sound of heels drumming on the floor as the learning takes place. This is hard!

Allowing toddlers as many chances to do things for themselves helps, but again takes time. If you are racing out the door it is not the time to tell the toddler to hurry up! This is when s/he wants to put their own shoes on and halfway through gets sidetracked into another activity. Have you noticed that a toddler is not good at realising a sequence of events? They live in the here and now. Saying "we cannot go if you are not ready" is meaningless. The child who undoes the seatbelt does not realise that if she kept it on a little longer she could see grandma or have an outing.

Giving some choices of their own will help. Watch out that the choices are not too hard and have an element of non-choice. This can include the non-negotiables. Wearing a seat belt is non-negotiable - you have to wear it in the car. Getting them into it can be an issue, but you can try a choice, "you have to wear your seat belt. Do you want me to do it up or will you?" If they refuse you need to get out of the car and not go. If the child undoes the belt in the car you need to stop and repeat the process until they realise that wearing the belt is a non-negotiable. It is important to see the process you have decided on right through as many times as it takes. You will need to allow time for the child to do it themselves.

Avoiding situations where the child is powerless will help. This means keeping to routines so the child learns to know what comes next. Avoid going shopping when anyone is tired, hungry or fractious. This is the time to consider is shopping with the toddler worthwhile or do you need to leave them with someone else while you shop. Putting your precious things up high or away means you avoid having to continually watch while the child persists in reaching for it. We do want the child to keep that perseverance, but only after they have learned to discriminate! Above all, it is useful to remember that this time will pass and your strong willed child will come out of it older, wiser and more sure about who they are. This is their task in this stage.

Find out the various ways you can use to motivate and discipline your children.


Twenty Toys You Don't Have to Buy (Part 1)

Fed up with forking out for the latest piece of over-hyped plastic? Answer "What can we do now Mum?" by making toys from items you will already have around the house.

1. Shops. Save all your empty grocery cartons for a week or so and you'll soon have a shop any aspiring grocer would be proud of. Gluing down the flaps makes cereal boxes, jelly packets etc. look unopened. Clothes, shoes, and toys can all be used as "stock". Paper bags and real or play money add to the fun.

2. Paper balls. When the kids keep arguing suggest that they throw something at each other! Paper balls are easily scrunched up from torn out magazine pages to make "ammunition". When it's time to tidy up, stand the waste paper basket in the middle of the room and see who can throw the most in. A rolled up magazine makes a good "bat" too.

3. Doctors/Nurses. A roll of white toilet tissue makes this game much more fun as Dads, Grans, teddies or dolls are mummified before your eyes. Plastic medicine spoons and cardboard box hospital beds for toys are extra props that make the game last longer.

4. Tubes. Cardboard tubes from kitchen roll or foil make instant telescopes for sailors or pirates, or tunnels to roll marbles through. Babies love to watch things disappear then reappear out of the bottom. Don't leave them alone with the cardboard tube though as they will probably suck it.

5. Cardboard boxes must be about the best free toys you can get hold of. Push in the ends of large ones to make tunnels and caves to crawl through. Draw on windows and doors with felt tip pens to make a house, add a flag and portholes for a boat or paper plates and a steering wheel for a car.

6. Miniature gardens. The foil trays that pies and prepared foods arrive in make lovely containers for miniature gardens. The children can enjoy hunting around the park or garden for twigs to make trees, moss for a lawn, stones to arrange as a rockery or a waterfall. Keep twigs or stones where you want them with a little blue tack or plasticine. Add toy people or animals and maybe a little water if the container is watertight. This can be a very creative and enjoyable exercise if you have children of very different age groups to entertain. A variation is to use play sand (not builder's sand - it stains everything yellow) to make a beach scene, maybe adding shells, stones and a blue paper sea.

7. Paper puppets. A picture of anything - colourful bird, clown's face, animal or cartoon character, carefully cut out by an adult and stuck to the top of a strip of card about five inches long and one and a half inches wide becomes a very easily made puppet. These give such pleasure and are so easy to make that you will probably end up with dozens of them. Magazine pictures can be stuck on to folded card to make theatre set background and wings.

8. Potato prints. After cutting a potato in half, draw on a simple shape. A triangle, circle or star perhaps. Cut away the rest of the potato, leaving a shape to dip into paint and print on to paper.

9. Skittles. Skittles can be improvised from large plastic cola or lemonade bottles. A little sand or water in the bottom makes them more stable. A good game for learning to count.

10. Dens. Building a den must be one of the most memorable parts of childhood as we all seem to recall the bliss of blankets draped over the airing rack in the garden or over the backs of chairs indoors. Even today's sophisticated kids seem to find the thought much more exciting than just erecting the shop bought plastic play house. I think the secret is to give structural advice about making the thing stay upright, but let the children do as much as possible themselves. Really large boxes of the type that washing machines and fridges come in can be had for the asking from the big electrical goods retailers and are useful for rooms within dens. Indoors, one of the simplest dens can be made by throwing a large sheet or duvet over a table. Cushions, torches,biscuits and comics or books will all be needed at the housewarming.

Look out in your next issue for More Toys You Don't Have to Buy (Part 2).

Need ideas for making kid craft ? Here are some easy kid craft ideas.


Secrets of Reading Success

Learning to read doesn't begin in school... it begins at home. As a parent, you are your child's first and most important teacher. Most of the ideas below are simple and don't require much time. Try as many of them as your schedule allows.

1. Talk to your child about everything under the sun.
The more words your child knows, the easier it will be for him to read. Since he learns words by hearing them spoken, you can increase your child's vocabulary by talking to him. Some examples are:
· In the grocery store, tell your child about a few products, what they do, and why many people use them.
· While repairing something at home, take a moment to explain what you are doing
· Share your memories of what it was like when you were your child's age. Tell about an adventure with friends or a time you got in trouble. Make it fun and don't worry about telling the perfect story.

2. Read good books aloud to your child.
This is the most important thing you can do to build your child's reading success. No child is too young to enjoy good books. Start with simple picture books and move up to nursery rhymes, storybooks, and short novels. Set aside a regular time each day for a good story. Many families read after the supper dishes are washed or just before bed. The key is to try to build reading into your routine so it won't get missed.

Read to older children as well. Stories build their imagination, their vocabulary, and their understanding of what they read.

Reading aloud gives children the experience of pleasure and enjoyment that reading can bring. They develop the desire to read -- probably the most important quality of a good reader.

3. Encourage writing activities, since writing can lead to reading.
Writing is a great way for kids to learn how words "fit together." Keep crayons, magic markers, pencils, and paper handy, and display samples of their work. Encourage older children to write thank you cards or notes to relatives and friends.

Let your child see you writing -- a shopping list, a memo, a letter, or a personal check.

Have your child check the newspaper to find, and copy, common grocery items that are on sale. See how much he can save you.

4. Limit the amount of time spent watching TV and playing video games.
Hours in front of the TV mean little time to read or to do other schoolwork. Of course, TV programs aren't all bad. Be sure that the TV is turned off when a program is over.

5. Encourage independent reading.
Try a "family reading time." While you read a newspaper, magazine, or novel, your child can read his own books. You'll show him how important reading is to you.

Most kids love to get their own mail. Consider a subscription to a children's magazine such as: World, 3-2-1 Contact, In Your Own Backyard, Ranger Rick, The Electric Company, Sesame Street, Cricket, and Highlights for Children.

You can find some interesting children’s magazines here.

Don't forget that comics, advertisements, football and baseball cards, and the back of cereal boxes also provide reading practice.

One more way to encourage independent reading is for you to read the first part of an exciting book to your child. Leave your child hanging and eager to continue. Don't be surprised if he finishes it alone.

6. Turn your reading into a game
Kids loves playing games and one way to encourage reading is via games itself. Some games like "bingo" helps children learn vocabulary. You can play rhyming game to help them hear letter sounds more accurately. Others includes mazes and puzzles which trains the eye to see patterns of letters, games that train the ear so a child can sound out words, games that awaken a child's imagination and creativity, and games that provide the right spark to fire a child's enthusiasm for reading.

You can get more suggestions on this method from the following book :
Games for Reading: Playful Ways to Help Your Child Read by Peggy Kaye


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See you in the next issue. :-)

All the best,

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