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All about Parenting Toddlers , Issue #017 - Learning to say Goodbye
September 03, 2003

Welcome to another issue of All about Parenting Toddlers .

Shaping the life of your precious ones

All about Parenting Toddlers
Issue #017
3rd September 2003

In This Issue:

1. Toddlers - Learning to say Goodbye
2. Fun and games on the road
3. Latest updates on Parenting Toddlers

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It's time to go to work, or you need to leave your child with a caregiver for a few hours. As you try to walk out the door, your child starts crying, kicking, and whining. You may feel guilty about leaving and embarrassed that your child is acting like this. But what do you do?

As bad as this might make you feel, remember that your child's behavior is normal. Young children often don't like having to be separated from their parents, but they need to learn to say goodbye.

Your child needs chances to learn that although you leave, you will come back. Remember, too, that those tantrums are a sign that your child loves you . As children learn that a parent who is leaving will come back, they begin to feel more secure, and saying goodbye becomes easier.

How to Make Goodbyes Easier

There are some things you can do to help your child prepare for you to leave.

- Let your child know what to expect. Explain what will happen while you are gone: "You're going to Grandma's. She'll make cookies with you today."

- Let your child know when you are coming back. Use a time frame that she will understand, such as after a routine activity: "I'll be back when your nap is over."

- If you're taking your child somewhere away from home, let him take a favorite blanket or toy. Something familiar can help ease unsure feelings.

- Tell your child you are leaving—don't just disappear. This will help your child develop the security she needs, and it will make goodbyes easier in the long run.

- Keep your goodbyes short. Give your child a quick hug and kiss, then leave. Long goodbyes can make things more difficult.

- Follow a routine. If you leave your child every day, saying goodbye in the same way each time helps him know what to expect and feel more secure.

- Call if any plans change or if you'll be late to keep your child from worrying or being afraid that you won't return. Staying in touch will build trust.

What to Do If You're Feeling Worried

Though there may be tears when you leave, remember that your child will probably be playing happily a few minutes later.

If you are upset or worried about leaving your child, you can do some things to ease your concern.

- Let your caregiver know of any special needs or desires your child has, such as a stuffed animal at naptime, a special snack, or a favorite story.

- After you reach your destination, call the caregiver to see how your child is doing.

What to Do When You Come Back

Coming back to your child should be a good experience. There are ways to make this time an important part of learning to say goodbye:

- When you return, take a few minutes to give your child some special attention: "Taylor, I'm so glad to see you! Let me see your puzzle."

- Share with your child what went on while the two of you were apart.

- Ask your child's caregiver how their time went. Find out what your child did while you were gone so you can talk about it together.

- Don't be surprised if your child ignores you. Remember, he may be busy playing, or she may still be angry that you left. Your child is still learning about goodbyes.

What to Do If You'll Be Away for a Long Time

There may be times when separation is more difficult for you and your child. Sometimes parents must leave for several days or more. To make long separations easier, try these ideas:

- Give your child photos of family members to look at while you are away.

- Leave Mom's favorite sweater or Dad's t-shirt; sometimes a familiar item will comfort a child .

- Record your child's favorite story on a cassette tape to listen to while you're gone.

- Call your child while you're away, but keep in mind that hearing your voice may be upsetting.

When children have a really hard time with separations, they may show grief, loss, anger, clinging, whining, or babyish behavior like thumb sucking or having toilet accidents. Remember that it takes time to learn to accept change. Be patient and reassuring. Children need parents to be calm and confident as they learn to say goodbye.

Resources That Help

Sometimes books can help children understand saying goodbye. You may want to read one or more of the books listed here to your child. Check your local library or bookstore for these and other books about saying goodbye.

- Anna Marie's Blanket by Joanne Barkan (Barron's Educational Series, 1993).
- Love You Forever by Robert Munsch (Firefly Books Ltd., 1986).
- First Day at Day Care by Ellen Weiss (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, 1996).
- Will You Come Back for Me? by Ann Tompert (Albert Whitman & Company, 1988).

The above article is written by Nancy Gartner, Marsha Hawley, and Becky Douglas, family life educators with University of Illinois Extension.


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PARENTs are often bombarded with questions like: “Are we there yet?” or “When can we stop for a break?” when they go on a long car ride with their children. Some children love travelling by car, while others with a short attention span need a bit of encouragement and entertainment.

Try the following activities when going on a long car trip with your children. Most of these activities do not require anything but enthusiasm and imagination. Some are easy to carry out but require some planning before the trip. Interesting activities will keep your children busy and encourage them to use their imagination:

1. Baby animals

Young children like animals and are fascinated with the names of their young. A baby cow is called a calf. (There was a two-and-a-half-year-old who was asked by his teacher to point to his calf. He replied that he could not do so. When asked why, he quipped: “The baby cow is in the farm.”)

Throw in some humour to liven things up. Ask your child questions such as: “Is a baby horse called a horselet?” Or “Is a baby chick called a chicklet?”

2. Counting scenes

Get your children to look out the window as you drive past different places. Ask them to spot a certain number of things when you call out the number. For example, when you call out “five”, they have to say “five birds” (even when there are more than five). Accept anything more than your given number. Children will try to outdo one another with different things they spot.

3. Treasure chest

Several days before the trip, get a box with a lid and make an opening large enough for a small hand to go through. Collect different household items that your children are familiar with. Store them in the box. When you are on the road, tell your children to take turns to put their hands into the box. As they feel each object, they can guess what the object is before taking it out of the box. They can then play with these objects. For example, two small teaspoons can be used as percussion instruments for a sing-along.

4. Story starters

Children in their early primary school years enjoy making up stories. The adults and the children in the car can take turns to make up stories. Start the story by saying: “Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved to travel with her family. There was a special place which she truly loved visiting. It was ?” Children can expand on the story. They can let their imagination soar to great heights with absurd characters and wildly fascinating places.

5. Clouded imagination

Look up at the sky. Ask your children what they can see. Younger children will probably describe the clouds and birds. Older children may talk about the different shapes of the clouds. You can tell them that you can see the wispy mane of a horse in the cirrus clouds or perhaps kittens rough-housing with one another.

6. Colour play

This is an “I Spy” game. You can say to your children: “I can see something blue”, “I can see something green”, and so on. Have your children name what they think you are describing. Reverse the roles and you can be the one guessing what your children are describing.

7. Number plates

Call out the number on a licence plate and see who can add up the numbers correctly. This is more interesting than doing sums on paper. Another licence plate game is to copy down the number on the plate. Ignore any letters and read the number out loud, for example, NH 5177 will be five thousand one hundred and seventy-seven.

8. Blindfold art

Bring along an eye mask or Daddy’s hanky for blindfolding. Have each person (other than the driver) make drawings – blindfolded. Come up with a list of easy drawings to make, for example, a car, face, tree, or house. The one who is playing “artist” can pick an item to draw without telling anyone what it is. Since he is blindfolded, the outcome can be hilarious. Everyone will have fun guessing what it is.

9. Finger puppet play

Use washable coloured markers and draw faces on your fingers. The whole family can make up stories to act out using their fingers. You can also cut up some cucumber, carrot and celery sticks. Store them in ice-packed air-tight bags or plastic containers. Before eating, you can use them as puppets to have some fun conversations with your children. This is also a sure way of getting kids to eat vegetables quickly.

10. Favourite theme songs

Take turns to hum TV shows theme songs for the rest to guess. If your children are still into nursery rhymes, then hum the tunes and have them guess the rhymes. It can be great fun too.


WARNING: This isn't earth-shattering news that you can't live without, but as a parent with small children, it could make your life a little easier. No hype... Just check it out.


Latest updates on Parenting Toddlers

The Parenting Toddlers website is constantly being updated with more information.

Below are the latest additions :

Fun and Creative Kids Birthday Party Invitation Wordings

Some safety tips to be considered when using toddler high chairs. Includes also a checklist to assist you in choosing high chairs for your child.

Remember to check back often for more information on parenting toddlers.

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