Archive for the ‘Toddlers’ Category

Our reality should not be their reality

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

The anniversary of 9/11 is again upon us.  We will replay the horror we witnessed and feel the sadness and loss the victims’ families experience every day.

The scenes of the original attack were aired so many times that the news outlets were asked to stop because children thought the attacks were repetitive.

The news is never meant for young children. 

Recent stories include the beheading of American journalists, war and natural disasters.  Today information is always available, but we have to protect our young children from harsh reality and let them be children as long as we can.

You may want to just play Raffi while you’re in the car!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

When are you finished parenting?

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Parents hope their babies will soon start walking, while parents of toddlers wonder when they can resume eye contact at family functions.   Parents of middle school students long for the days their kids can drive so the family taxi can take a rest; that is until their teen actually begins driving.  This means parent cat naps on the couch waiting for the new driver to arrive safely home.

But do you understand you’re never actually done being a parent?  There is no finish line. 

Just ask the mom of an Airforce Major trying to comfort her sobbing daughter 2,000 miles away because of her pending divorce.  Ask the dad who tries to help his son find a resolution as his insurance company drops him because of two accidents the day before a hurricane.   Or the mom of the brand new inner city school teacher as he faces daily struggles he couldn’t possibly have anticipated, but hangs in there because he wants to make a difference.

The challenges grow with your child.  When they are little, it’s easy to put a band-aid on what hurts, and make the hurt go away.  The saying, “little kids, little problems, big kids, big problems,” is very true.  

It’s nice when your adult child calls for advice, but very stressful if you don’t have an answer.  Still, it’s wonderful that they call, and sometimes all they really need is someone to listen. 

 We can do that. 

 All the best,

 Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

Are you building or ruining the relationship?

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Question: What do these situations have in common?

  1. The three-year-old having a meltdown on the check out line at Target
  2. The seven-year-old who could put in more effort at school
  3. The eighteen-year-old high school senior looking at colleges

Answer(s):

  1. They all create a certain amount of stress for parents
  2. They are NOT life threatening
  3. They ARE relationship threatening

What does that mean?

These situations become stressful because we sometimes care more about what other people think, and as a result let that influence the way we handle situations with our children.

Let’s reset the scenarios a bit:

Why is the three-year-old having a meltdown?

Did he nap?  Is he hungry?  Did you plan a marathon shopping day and this is the tail end of the six-hour trip?  Did she see something the store put as an impulse item that they want?

The looks from other people on line do not matter!

All that does matter is your relationship with your child.  The meltdown usually starts low and slowly, so you can plan your exit strategy, even if that means abandoning your shopping cart.  Make the best decision you can given that set of circumstances.

The same could be said of the effort of a grade school child.  You’re right to ask the child to do his/her best in school, and choose to be a good role model in terms of work ethic.  But realize that education works best for those who are good at following rules.  Don’t get stressed about your child not having straight A’s and instead be more concerned about their love of learning and ability to think for themselves.  When family and friends ask how the kids are doing, it’s OK they are healthy and happy.  You don’t have to ‘report’ on their report card as if it measures how well you’re doing as a parent.

The high school senior looking at colleges has more stress than he or she can handle.  Don’t let the opinions or questions of caring and concerned family and friends add to that stress.

Think of the questions they are being asked:

  1. What college are you going to?
  2. What major are you choosing?
  3. What do you want to do for the rest of your life?

Really?  Do those questions seem reasonable?

I would like to be the voice of all parents in response to family and friends and strangers with good intentions:

Thank you for your concern, now please mind your own business.  Amen!

To see the patented Parental Wisdom® concept and multiple answers to these and other questions, you can learn more and become a member.  It’s free and you are anonymous.   It really is a better mousetrap.

p.s. This is the kind of advice you should share with your friends.

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Happy Earth Day Microsoft!

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Where do I begin? I just sent out an email to Parental Wisdom members (below) which talks about how we’re stopping our children from enjoying the most wonderful lessons on earth in a rush to excel. I came across a piece by the senior product manager at Microsoft that I have to share:

You helped her learn to walk. He’s totally potty trained at last. Just when it seems you’ve conquered the most angst-ridden issues faced by parents of toddlers, here comes another source of concern: In a world increasingly dominated by technology, familiarizing your child with a computer and online tools is more important than ever.

Parents can’t afford to wait until their children start school to introduce them to technology, says Craig Cincotta, senior product manager at Microsoft Corp.

“Schools are incorporating computers into their curricula at very early grade levels. It’s not unusual to find a computer loaded with learning software in preschool and daycare settings,” he says. “Children who have experience with computers at home will have an edge over those who first encounter technology in the classroom.”

Boy, is this person ever wrong. Children are becoming frustrated and angry, even at young ages because we are not allowing them to be children – children are meant to play, especially outdoors.

Have you ever tried to toilet train a child too early? It doesn’t work. When children are ready, toilet training is easy. The same is true of education, computers and sports. Let children play freely, and when the time comes for studies and computers and organized sports, they will come ready to learn.

Here is the email sent yesterday to Parental Wisdom members.

We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.
-Ancient Proverb

Global climate change, pollution and how large a carbon footprint you leave behind may seem like many issues parents face – overwhelming.

The answer is actually quite simple and lies in the ancient proverb that states we borrow the earth from our children.

Unfortunately, we take our children from the very thing they gravitate to, the wonders of nature. We put them in schools too early, in front of computers too early, in organized sports programs too early, all because being inside and educated means they will be safe, smart and ready for a cutthroat world.

According to a recent article in the Wall St. Journal, the birthplace of kindergarten is returning to its roots – quite literally. Children ages 3 to 6 walk into a forest outside Frankfurt Germany to sing songs, build fires and roll in the mud. To relax, they kick back in a giant ‘sofa’ made of tree stumps and twigs.

Fredrick Frobel, the German educator who opened the world’s first kindergarten actually called it a “children’s garden.” He suggested that children of this age learn far more by playing in nature than they do immersed in letters and numbers.

Let’s move from ‘No Child Left Behind’ to ‘No Child Left Inside’ and stop our 5-year-olds from what some educators call ‘early academic fatigue.’ If you can’t change the education system, at least you could give your children the gift of spending time with nature. Take a walk with your child and see what he sees, it’s amazing what a young child can teach you.

Perhaps if we made this a habit, there wouldn’t be a need to set aside April 22nd to remember the Earth; everyday would be Earth Day.

Mud pies anyone?

Just a Blip on the Screen

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

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I’m always talking to parents, and inevitably there are frustrations that come with the territory. One mom was frustrated about toilet training, another about a child not helping around the house, while another was tired of the constant mess.

As our children get older, we see a bright future, and they may decide that our vision is not theirs. Parents want college for their kids, because as one dad told me, “The only thing more expensive than a college education is not having one.”

And then our children may decide it is not for them. They would rather backpack across Europe, play the guitar or learn a trade. Major disappointment and embarrassment for parents.

No different than the frustrations of the parents of younger children, just a later time. But if you’re really smart, you’ll understand that it is just a blip on the screen. The important thing is the relationship you have with your child.

We don’t remember days, we remember memories. Make sure the ones you’re building are not filled with hostility

Too Many Toys

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

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The KISS principle (which stands for Keep It Simple, stupid) relates to just about every area of our life. Not surprisingly it begins when our children are little.

Visit the home of any family with little kids and you see toys, toys, and more toys. The overabundance of toys makes each toy less special, less noticed and less valued. I have often found that putting toys away for a while and rotating them offered a better chance for the kids to appreciate them more.

But, as often happens the problem that many of us experienced, was resolved a mom.

Lori Pope launched Baby Plays, a web-based company that rents toys, think of it as a Netflix for toys.

Customers pay $28.99 a month to get four toys a month for three months and $35.99 a month to get six toys a month for three months. Families willing to sign a yearlong contract can get six toys a month for $31.99.

Baby Plays’ inventory includes popular toys by brands such as VTech, LeapFrog and Playskool as well as more obscure European manufacturers. Pope keeps at least seven of each kind of toy in stock so she can fulfill almost every request. She plans to double her inventory over the next two months.

Pope mainly stocks sturdy, easy-to-clean toys with few parts or parts that are easily replaced. She searches Web sites and catalogs for popular toys that are appropriate for small children and meet all European and American safety standards.

Guess the kids would really look forward to a visit from the UPS driver!

So You Want to Save the World?

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

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One of the most beautiful compensations of this life is that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

There’s a story you may have heard about David & Goliath. In case you’re unfamiliar, the story is set in biblical times where a giant one eyed-giant Cyclops named Goliath terrorizes a small town. All the warriors in the town tried to fight him and were quickly defeated. A young boy named David, armed only with a slingshot, volunteered to fight the giant. The townspeople looked at the brave young boy and said, “Look at the size of the giant and look at you, how could you possibly win?” David had a very different point of view. He said, “Yes, look at him. How could I possibly miss?”

That story is a myth. A myth by definition is an invented story, idea, or concept. But in reality mythical situations happen all the time. A single person can make a significant difference. What a wonderful lesson for our children, and a great time to discuss it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007 is Make a Difference Day, the largest national day of helping others – a celebration of neighbors helping neighbors. Everyone can participate in this USA Today sponsored event.

The good news is that our kids want to help. Toddlers, according to Psychology researcher Felix Warneken proved the capacity for altruism emerges as early as 18 months of age with a simple experiment. 61% of 13- to 25-year-olds feel personally responsible for making a difference in the world suggests a survey of 1,800 young people. It says 81% have volunteered in the past year; 69% consider a company’s social and environmental commitment when deciding where to shop, and 83% will trust a company more if it is socially/environmentally responsible. The online study — by two Boston-based companies, Cone Inc. and AMP Insights — suggests these millennials are “the most socially conscious consumers to date.”

What great news. Need an idea?

Here are two:

The Idea Generator

The Future of Life Organzation

Talk about family fun!

Everything in moderation

Monday, August 13th, 2007

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Moderation in all things.
Terence, Andria – Roman comic dramatist (185 BC – 159 BC)

Is it really that simple?

The current debate over Baby Einstein potentially being more harmful than helpful puts yet another nail in the guilty parents’ coffin.

For the record, I am not a fan of Baby Einstein. I think parents know their colors, letters and numbers so the educational DVDs are not necessary, and parents will always be their child’s first and most important teacher.

I agree with the American Academy of Pediatrics who is on record saying that children shouldn’t watch any TV until they’re two years old.

I agree that parents’ use of educational programming as babysitters is not a good idea since the message to our children is that this device [TV, DVD, Video, etc.] is where you will get your information from. In years to come, when the messenger is Brittney Spears, it’s obviously problematic.

Parents don’t need yet another guilt trip. Those that accuse parents of micro-managing their kids need to recognize the fact that they are scrutinizing every move parents make.

Nothing (legal) is either good or bad. Moderation is the key to everything.

Parents are actually bus drivers

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

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Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.

-Albert Einstein, US (German-born) physicist (1879 – 1955)

Have you noticed how conscientious first time parents are? They research product safety better than Consumer Reports as they begin parenting by the Hippocratic Oath which says, ‘First, do no harm.’

When children are little, we understand our job is to keep them safe. But as they grow, we have to remember their safety is still our job. A toddler asking to wear stripes and polka-dots is negotiable, but being safely secured into a carseat is not.

As parents, we get numerous job descriptions but it can be summarized to one title – bus driver. We take our children on a journey from infancy to adulthood. Just like a bus there will be stops along the way in the form of outside influences such as family, friends, teachers, coaches, the media, our children’s friends, the list is endless. But the bus will go where the bus driver steers it.

Sometimes parents like to put the bus in cruise control and not think for themselves, or take the easy way out. Children are required by law to sit in carseats, later in booster seats, and that they wear helmets when riding bikes. There are laws that prohibit teens from drinking until they are 21, but parents take a lackadaisical attitude when they get push back from their kids; especially true regarding teenage drinking. “Well, they’re going to drink anyway.” If they did homework on the effects of teenage drinking they would have a totally different perspective.

Are these the same parents that got down on their hands and knees to look for exposed electrical outlets to protect their toddlers? What we know about teenage drinking is that 40% of the people that drink before age 15 go on to become alcoholics at some point in their lives. What we now know about the teenage brain is that the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for reasoning is the last part of the brain to develop. That is why it is hard for teenagers to distinguish the difference between going home after school to do homework, or going drinking with their friends. In fact that area of the brain isn’t fully developed until age 24. Interestingly, you have to be 25 to rent a car.

The best approach to trust and teens is the same theory that Ronald Regan used in foreign policy; trust but verify.

An awkward conversation between teen parents may involve one parent verifying with another that their teen is invited over, that an adult will be home and there will be no alcohol.

A far more awkward conversation begins with a knock on the door, and opens to find a police officer and member of the clergy on the other side.

Parents – please, drive your bus.

Adapted from Because Kids Don’t Come With Manuals by Tina Nocera

What You Do Matters

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

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Yet again, parents have taken up sides in the mommy wars as a result of the media’s sound bite reporting on a child care study. “Study ties day care to some behavioral problems” was blasted across the news the other day, with some news broadcasters giving parents a clear choice; either you stay at home which may pose financial risk, or you and leave your child in daycare which could cause future behavior problem.

Are those my only choices?

I believe that what parents do matters more than anything else. Again, I find myself thinking that we’re asking the wrong question. The experts agree that a nurturing, quality day care setting would be beneficial to a child. So let’s provide more access affordable, quality child care. Provide tax incentives for employers to create job sharing, allowing parents to work part-time, which would require less time children were in child care settings.

Good day care is good for kids, while bad day care is bad for kids, but much like the education system, day care cannot bear the burden without including parents in the equation. What parents do really matters. One of the things parents do is to search for good quality day care, by asking the right questions.

Child Care Aware which has wonderful free publications they can send to you, or you can call their toll free number 1-800-424-2246.

The best way to find quality day care is through a recommendation of someone you know and to visit the day care facility yourself and meet with the director. You should also observe the setting. Children should look comfortable and happy in the setting.

Here are some good starter questions to ask. Please add your own.

1. Can I drop in anytime?
2. Are there opportunities for parent (or grandparent) participation such as story time?
3. What are your hours of operation?
4. What are the fees and what do they include? (Some facilities include snacks and lunch). Are there additional fees for music or field trips?
5. What is a typical day like?
6. What is the ratio of teachers to children? This will differ by children’s ages and must meet state standards.
7. What are the teachers’ qualifications? What is your screening/hiring process?
8. Do the caregivers receive benefits? (This question may seem odd, but if the caregivers have a good benefit package, there will be lower turnover, which is important to giving your child a more stable environment.)
9. What are your procedures if a child is hurt?
10. How do you work with children on behavior issues?