Dealing with Toddler Mealtime
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Your little one can't sit still at the dinner table! Watch this video to learn how to make meals free of fighting and fussing.
Transcript: SOME DAY, your child will sit calmly through mealtime-but for NOW, it's FUSSY toddler versus whatever...
SOME DAY, your child will sit calmly through mealtime-but for NOW, it's FUSSY toddler versus whatever you've dished up. Children this age try to exert independence by fighting you at the kitchen table. They'll refuse to eat certain foods, or insist on eating only one... and sometimes they don't want to eat at all! While you may WANT to demand an empty plate, you should actually BACK down. You've done your job by supplying your toddler with NUTRITIOUS food. Her job is to decide how much to EAT. By now, her body tells her when she's hungry and when she's not. If she eats less at one meal, she'll probably make up for it in another. If you FORCE her to eat, she may lose the ability to sense when she's full. And that's a key contributor to childhood obesity. Also, don't bargain or bribe-this will lead to messy power struggles. It's also NOT a good idea to cater to your toddler's culinary demands - making her a special bowl of spaghetti will only encourage picky eating. There are BETTER ways to subtly encourage healthy eating habits. If she doesn't want to eat a new type of food, offer it again and again, but at different meals, as part of an array of options...as an accompaniment to more familiar fare...or slip it into meals in creative ways. It takes time for a toddler to warm up to new foods. Eventually, she may try it out! Involve your child in food preparation- let her wash VEGGIES, mix INGREDIENTS and open PACKAGES. She'll feel more invested in the meal when it's time to eat. And keep your toddler's MINIATURE stomach in mind -- serve SMALL food AND beverage portions. Larger portions are OVERWHELMING and can promote overeating. If she wants more, she'll ASK for it. Finally, stick to a consistent routine-a toddler needs 3 meals a day with A COUPLE snacks in between. And...while you're eating together, make sure YOU'RE having healthy foods, too-toddlers learn by example!More »
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You know a balanced diet is best for your toddler, but to get more detailed nutrition advice, watch this video on nutrition guidelines specifically written for your 2-3 year old.
Transcript: Toddlers need the same nutrients adults do-vitamins A, B, C, D, zinc, iron, ...and the list goes on....
Toddlers need the same nutrients adults do-vitamins A, B, C, D, zinc, iron, ...and the list goes on. If your toddler eats a balanced, healthy diet, she's probably getting enough of her necessary vitamins and minerals. But what does "balanced" really mean? Two and three year olds need between 1000 and 1400 calories, depending on their age and physical activity level. The calories are divided between: protein, grains, dairy, vegetables and fruits. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, every day 2 to 3 year olds need: --2 ounces of protein foods, like beans, lean meat, nuts and fish, --At least 1.5 to 3 ounces of grains, half of which should be WHOLE grains, --No more than 2 cups of dairy, preferably low-fat, --1 cup of VEGETABLES, particularly dark green and dark yellow ones. Lastly, she should eat 1 cup of fruits daily. Make sure the 1 cup doesn't consist of just fruit JUICE, which will fill her tummy up, and keep her from eating other food. The same may happen if she drinks too much milk. I know it's VERY hard to accomplish this balance every day, especially when toddlers resist your good intentions. Try your best to offer healthy foods in creative and even sneaky ways. Puree zucchini into spaghetti sauce. Throw some fruit in her cereal. Eliminate foods that contain trans fats and limit foods with added sugar. They can cause health problems now-AND as your child grows up. Keep offering the nutritious alternatives instead-soon enough, she'll come around. Of course, your child's diet does need some fat. About 30 percent of his caloric intake should come from healthy, unsaturated fats found in food such as peanut butter, avocado and olives. All your efforts will go to waste if you dish up over-sized portions, however. As a general rule, a toddler's portion size should be about ONE FOURTH of an adult's. And adult servings aren't as big as you think they are! To get details about healthy food choices for your little boy or girl, watch more videos in this series.More »
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Snacks are an essential part of your toddler's diet, but they shouldn't consist of unhealthy ingredients. Check out this video for tips on healthy snack choices for your toddler.
Transcript: Every day, your toddler should eat 3 healthy meals. But, toddlers tend to do more NIBBLING than GOBBLING,...
Every day, your toddler should eat 3 healthy meals. But, toddlers tend to do more NIBBLING than GOBBLING, so snacks can make up for whatever NUTRIENTS they miss at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hand out 2 or 3 snacks daily. They should contain at least 2 out of the 5 food groups - fruit, vegetables, protein, dairy, and grain. Instead of prepackaged foods, which are usually overloaded with sodium and sugar, choose simple fare, jam-packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals. Bonus points if you offer dippable FINGER food. She'll stay interested in the snack if she can easily feed herself, plus it satisfies her desire for independence and control. Consider some of these healthy options: Apple slices with natural PEANUT butter, Strawberries and Greek yogurt, Cheddar cheese and WHOLE WHEAT crackers, Slices of TURKEY and cranberry sauce, Melted cheddar cheese and BROCCOLI, MANGO and cottage cheese, Carrots and hummus. If these don't tempt your child, amp up the imagination, pretend the apples are "moon slices", or the carrots are "coins". Your toddler DOES have a small stomach, so keep her portion size to ONE FOURTH that of an adult's. You don't want to ruin their APPETITE for the next meal. Even DRINKS can stuff her tummy. More than 4 to 6 OUNCES of fruit juice per day is too filling AND can deliver as many calories as a soda. Watch the serving sizes of milk too-your toddler may be TOO FULL for meals if she drinks more than 2 cups of milk a day. As a rule of thumb, avoid offering any sodas and sugary beverages. If he or she wants something SWEET, offer a few pieces of whole fruit instead. To learn more about toddler nutrition, watch additional videos in this series.More »
Last Modified: 2013-02-15 | Tags »
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Amp up your toddler's diet with superfoods. Learn which fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins are full of nutrients that will help your toddler develop.
Transcript: Set aside those mushy peas and carrots -- it's time to shake up your toddler's diet with some SUPERFOODS!...
Set aside those mushy peas and carrots -- it's time to shake up your toddler's diet with some SUPERFOODS! The kiwi fruit's VIVID color and FUZZY exterior will pique your child's interest. And just half a cup contains MORE potassium than half a cup of bananas, MORE Vitamin C than half of a cup of oranges, and MORE fiber than apples, according to the USDA's National Nutrient Database. WATERMELON is a SWEET fruit that's LOW in sugar! And it's loaded with vitamin A and lycopene, an antioxidant that may help protect the body from cancer and heart disease. Its high water content will also hydrate during the summer. Speaking of sweets for your sweet...SWEET POTATOES are a powerful source of vitamin A and potassium. A baked sweet potato has more nutrients but less fat and fewer carbs and calories than its white counterpart. Consider making a permanent replacement! Introduce KALE to your toddler in salads, soups, blended into fruit smoothies or even sauted dishes. It scored a PERFECT 1000 on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, which measures nutrient density per calorie. Kale is rich in vitamins A, K, C and contains MORE iron than spinach! If you're looking for a super whole grain, try QUINOA. There are many kid-friendly ways to prepare it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It has more protein but fewer carbs than other grains. And it's high in iron, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. Chicken and beef AREN'T the only sources of protein! Include BLACK BEANS in your child's meals-you can add them to soups. Besides containing protein, they're high in CALCIUM, magnesium and POTASSIUM. If your kid doesn't go for black beans, try other legumes, such as lentils, or hummus. Of course, there are MANY other nourishing foods available in your supermarket. Explore your options -- your child should be eating from ALL five food groups every day. For more on toddler nutrition, watch other videos in this series.More »
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Is fruit juice a nutritional choice for your toddler? What about smoothies? Get advice on the best drinks for your toddler.
Transcript: The days of breast milk and formula are OVER-now your toddler wants fruit punch and soda and juice. But...
The days of breast milk and formula are OVER-now your toddler wants fruit punch and soda and juice. But what's going to BENEFIT your little one and what's NOT? WATER is the BEST thirst quencher since it doesn't have any calories or sugar. If your kiddo finds it boring, you can throw in lemon slices or even seltzer. MILK is a vital source of calcium, vitamins and protein. But DON'T overdo it-- offering TOO MUCH-more than 2 or 3 cups of milk per day-assures that she WON'T be hungry for more substantial meals. When she drinks milk MORE than she eats other food, she may develop an iron deficiency. Fruit juice-I know it's a staple drink that many of you give your kids-and that they love it. But I have a zero tolerance policy with my patients with regard to juices-juice is simply sugar squeezed from a fruit with all of the fiber thrown in the garbage. If kids want apple juice, they should eat an apple. I find that children who grow up drinking juice become consumers of even less nutritious sugared drinks when they get older. I prefer to treat juice like birthday cake: ok for parties and special occasions only. Kids love it when you combine milk, yogurt and fruit to make a SMOOTHIE. And it is packed with nutrients, but it also has lots of CALORIES. So make smoothies an occasional SNACK, and instead offer fresh fruit, no-sugar-added yogurt or milk as separate snacks. Now, let's talk about other drinks with NO nutritional value - sodas, energy drinks, and fruit cocktails. Even those that masquerade as nutritious fruit juice are crammed with calories and sugar. I suggest you treat your child with these drinks on special occasions ONLY. Many of these same beverages contain caffeine. It's another reason to avoid providing them - caffeinated drinks may cause hyperactivity, jitteriness, headaches and nausea. And diet drinks for kids are not a great idea either. Stick with real food, without added sugar, artificial sweeteners, or other additives. To get more toddler nutrition tips, check out other videos in this series.More »
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At two years old, your child will become a terror. Or will he? Watch this video to learn whether or not the terrible twos are what you think.
Transcript: THE TERRIBLE TWOS-it's that inevitable stage when your child CHANGES from an adorable, peaceful infant...
THE TERRIBLE TWOS-it's that inevitable stage when your child CHANGES from an adorable, peaceful infant into a willful, stubborn monster...Or is it?? The so-called terrible twos are really a time of exciting growth and change. When a two year old DOES express anger or stubbornness, it's because of a CLASH between her URGE for independence and her PHYSICAL and cognitive limitations. Frustration can build when she can't figure out how to do what she wants, how to express herself, or how to make her needs understood. So, while she MAY be annoying, don't take your toddler's sometimes defiant behavior personally. It's not about YOU. It's about HOW YOU can help your child find work-arounds to make a smoother transition into an independent little person. Some ways to help: --Be patient and let her try to explain what she's saying. You may even teach her hand SIGNALS for common words such as "hungry" or "I want." --At home, don't engage in a battle, just WALK AWAY from your screaming toddler or put her in time-out for a few minutes if you're getting frustrated. --Offer up CHOICE to give your 2-year-old a sense of control. Let her choose between two pairs of pants or which toys to play with. -- In potential danger zones, like the supermarket or other places where she has to sit still, make sure you provide plenty of stimulation. Try letting her help you with what you're doing, like finding cereal at the store. And remember to bring along a favorite toy for her to play with. --Keep to a consistent routine, and let your child know when you have to transition her from one activity to another. She'll stay calmer if she knows what's coming next. And make sure she gets enough sleep every night and a nap if she still needs one in the afternoon. -- When she behaves or succeeds at a task, let her know. Say, "Good job sitting quietly" or "Hooray, you finished eating!" She'll be thrilled just by pleasing you. And finally, try to appreciate the AMAZING aspects of watching your child grow. You will discover the terrible twos AREN'T terrible at all. Take a look at more videos in this series for more information about toddler behavior and development.More »
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Find out what emotional, intellectual and physical milestones your 2-year-old will experience this year. Watch this video to learn about your toddler's development!
Transcript: Congratulations, your squirmy crawler is now a high-spirited 2-year-old! Some important physical, COGNTIIVE,...
Congratulations, your squirmy crawler is now a high-spirited 2-year-old! Some important physical, COGNTIIVE, emotional and LINGUISTIC changes come along with the 2-year mark. If you're chasing your child all over the place, you know this part already: 2-year-olds can MOVE! They have increased coordination and strength and revel in the independence it gives them. They run, CLIMB on furniture, OPEN and close doors, and go up and down STAIRS while holding the banister. If you haven't already CHILDPROOFED your house, now's the time! Your two-year-old will also become aware of his individualism - meaning he finally realizes he's a separate person from YOU. He's likely saying NO! and defying instructions for the first-of many! -- times. While frustrating, this is a normal, healthy, developmental milestone. And he may also become angry or sullen when he can't really accomplish his big-kid goals, such as feeding himself or getting dressed. Your job is to foster his urge for independence, while keeping him safe . At two years old, the two of you are starting to have actual conversations. Your child's vocabulary includes 50-100 words and he'll speak in 2 or 3 word sentences.. Chances are he can also identify everyday objects, such as "book" and "cat" and follow simple instructions such as, "Bring me your shoes." And, even better, YOU probably understand about half of what he says, making communication more rewarding for you both. As your two-year-old continues to explore his world, he also has fun building with blocks, recognizing shapes and colors, and finding hidden toys. Simple make-believe games come into play more often, too. Remember, all children grow and learn at different rates-don't be TOO alarmed if your 2-year-old hasn't reached the milestones I've outlined. However, you SHOULD see the pediatrician if you have any concerns about your child's development.More »
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Three-year-olds are a lot of fun to hang out with! Watch this video to learn about the milestones your child will reach at three years old.
Transcript: What changes can you expect your child to experience THIS year? You'll find your 3-year-old is full...
What changes can you expect your child to experience THIS year? You'll find your 3-year-old is full of BOUNDLESS enthusiasm! And his or her physical skills now resemble those of an older child. She can RUN, jump, CLIMB and use STAIRS easily - maybe even ride a TRICYCLE! ENCOURAGE her motor skills by playing catch or tag. Coordination skills make great strides in the 3rd year. Your toddler's FINE motor skills have also developed. She can draw, hold UTENSILS, and BRUSH her own teeth. She can also build towers of blocks and put together puzzles with 5 to 8 pieces, some with multiple notches. You should LET your child do these things herself when possible-it'll build her self-esteem, and cognitive abilities. A 3-year-old usually has control over her bodily functions by now, but it IS normal for her to WET THE BED even though she's potty trained. Nighttime control takes longer to develop and shouldn't be expected just yet. Verbal skills are also more refined at three years old. Your child will know between 500 and 900 words and can express emotions and thoughts using 4 to 5 word sentences. Pronouns and prepositions will make their way into her EVERYDAY speech. Everyone should now be able to understand almost EVERYTHING she says, which should greatly alleviate the frustration she felt a year ago, at 2. She'll use her new language abilities to ask questions. LOTS of them. Do your best to satisfy her intense curiosity with SIMPLE, easy-to-understand explanations. Three is also the age of imagination. Unfortunately...she will likely become afraid of things like MONSTERS. EASE her fear by "inspecting" the closet and under the bed. Keep a nightlight on in her room. These fears may seem silly to you, but they're very real to her. Although your 3-year-old is more cooperative than she was a year ago, her ENERGY and eagerness to learn will definitely wear you down. Do your best to keep up, and remember, all children grow up at their own pace. Don't be too alarmed if your child hasn't reached some of these milestones yet.More »
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You'll see your four-year-old growing emotionally, intellectually and of course, physically. Watch this video to learn about all the different four-year-old milestones.
Transcript: Welcome to the world of preschool! Your 4-year-old LOVES drawing, crafting and playing with friends....
Welcome to the world of preschool! Your 4-year-old LOVES drawing, crafting and playing with friends. But that's NOT the only way your child has grown over the past year. Playtime has become more COMPLEX. He or she likely engages in intricate, make-believe scenarios, even creating IMAGINARY friends. Your 4-year-old knows more than 1,000 words and puts together complete sentences. He can sing, rhyme, tell stories, and identify COLORS and numbers. And watch what you say in front of him-he's likely to pick up on any CURSE words and repeat them back to ANYONE. Although he may be becoming more social, at the same time he's MORE prone to temper tantrums and mood swings than he was at 3. It may be frustrating, but this is all part of his normal maturation process. Try to give him "responsibilities" - such as scrubbing the tub, or folding his clothes. He's aching to become more independent and to learn more and more about the world. At the same time, I try not to impose learning REQUIREMENTS on him - for example, he DOESN'T have to read before kindergarten. If he becomes frustrated, you'll have a VERY angry preschooler on your hands. Along with linguistic, cognitive and emotional advancements, your tot's MOTOR SKILLS are far stronger than they were last year. He'll probably be able to feed himself with minimal mess, dress without help, use safety scissors, CATCH and throw a ball overhand, and skip and hop on one foot. It's also a PERFECT time to teach him how to bike and swim. All preschoolers reach milestones at DIFFERENT times-don't pressure your 4-year-old to learn or do things he's not ready for. But if you're worried that he's BEHIND his peers in significant ways, talk to your doctor.More »
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With your 3-year-old's expanded imagination comes more fears that seem irrational to you, but are terrifying to your toddler. Learn how to combat common toddler fears like monsters and the dark.
Transcript: Your toddler is fearless in some ways - he or she will run, climb and tumble, gathering bumps and bruises...
Your toddler is fearless in some ways - he or she will run, climb and tumble, gathering bumps and bruises along the way. But toddlers and preschoolers are also irrationally fearFUL of many things. Starting at around 3 years old, your son or daughter's IMAGINATON begins to blossom. BUT, they can't always separate FANTASY from REALITY. For this reason, it's normal that certain fears may develop. Fear of a creature living under the bed or in the closet is common as is fear of the DARK. To alleviate these anxieties, place a night light in your toddler's bedroom. You may also make a show of checking for monsters or getting rid of them with a special "trick." A favorite blanket or stuffed animal may also help relieve his nighttime anxiety. Your child may also be afraid of cats and dogs. Don't force him to interact with them, and let him know you'll protect him. Then, if it's a dog or cat you know, you can reassure him they are not dangerous by touching the animal yourself. Loud noises, baths, even the vacuum - anything can become frightening to a 3 or 4 year old. But no matter how irrational your child's fear seems to you, DON'T dismiss or belittle it. Sometimes, it might help if you can figure out what's triggering the fear. Is it related to being apart from you? To sibling rivalries that may be amped up? You won't always be able to tease out a cause, but it's worth trying. In addition: DO confidently reassure your little one that you'll protect them from any harm. DO demonstrate that the object of their fear is harmless by facing it yourself. DO role-play if his fear involves other adults, such as doctors or costumed characters. You may find a great tactic that calms your toddler's anxiety... or you may not; it all depends on your child's temperament. In most kids, though, these fears fade at around 5 years old. Take a look at more videos in this series for details on toddler behavior, discipline and much more.More »
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The most common toddler milestones span from learning the difference between left and right and being able to climb the stairs! Watch this video to get a rundown of milestones from the ages two to five.
Transcript: You've already celebrated your baby's first steps. But keep that baby book out! During the next 4 years,...
You've already celebrated your baby's first steps. But keep that baby book out! During the next 4 years, you'll cheer on your child through MANY more milestones. Two year olds may: -Show signs they're ready to be potty trained - but don't force it. Some kids aren't ready yet. --Start saying NO and being defiant. What you may see as the terrible twos is a positive sign of increasing independence. --Learn more WORDS! They may know 50 or more. --And start interacting more with other children. Three-year-olds are increasingly social. They may show FONDNESS for playmates-even MIMICKING them. They may also: --Know their own first name and age and identify their gender. --Play make-believe! --Draw and feed themselves! Three-year-olds can handle crayons and use forks and spoons. At FOUR years old, preschoolers are VERY enthusiastic about new things. They learn: --To sing songs and nursery rhymes. --To throw and catch balls more accurately. --To use the past tense. What's more, they may know more than 1,000 words. -And they may curse. If they hear you swearing, chances are it will come right back at you! So try not to do it, and do your best not to overreact if it happens. A big reaction from you is a reward to your child! At FIVE, your child is probably ready to start school. Besides this MAJOR milestone, kids this age: --FOLLOW RULES. Unlike 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds are VERY eager to please parents and authority figures. --Understand the concepts of time. They get it that there's a school time, dinner time and bed time. --Somersault! A five-year old has growing physical skills and can swing and tumble by themselves. Some 5-year-olds may even be ready to bike and jump rope. Children change a lot between the ages of 2 and 5. But each one is unique, and if your child doesn't hit every milestone at the average age, don't fret. If you do have concerns, however, talk to your pediatrician; early intervention can often eliminate or reduce any actual issues.More »
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Your toddler resists bedtime with all her might. Find out how to help your toddler get the sleep she needs-- watch this video for tips on handling toddler sleep problems.
Transcript: If you think it's a struggle getting your toddler to EAT, wait until the kiddo starts resisting SLEEP....
If you think it's a struggle getting your toddler to EAT, wait until the kiddo starts resisting SLEEP. Bedtime is a notoriously DIFFICULT time during the toddler years-your son or daughter always wants to stay UP. This may be due to separation anxiety, hyperactivity due to over-tiredness, a desire to avoid "missing" anything, or because he wants to assert his independence. To avoid a battle, the FIRST thing you need to do is establish a CONSISTENT night time routine. Read him a story, give him a BATH, sing him a lullaby, or just cuddle-whatever you do together, make sure it's quiet and calming. Do it every night and soon enough, the activity will cue in sleepiness. Before you say good night, ask him if he has to use the bathroom or drink water-take care of these potential interruptions NOW so he doesn't get up in 30 minutes asking for them. Provide a favorite stuffed animal or blanket for him to sleep with - it'll help ease separation anxiety. Lower the volume of conversations and TV shows outside his room - the LESS he hears, the less he'll want to get out of bed and join the fun. Of course, you can expect him to get out of bed sometimes, but don't let him make it a HABIT. DON'T run to him whenever he wakes up calling for Mom or Dad, wait a minute and see if he falls back asleep. When you do go to him, don't stay too long or turn on the light. The exception may be when he has nightmares or night terrors. Then you want to comfort him, ease any fear and help him fall asleep again. Night TERRORS usually begin at 4 or 5 years old-your child may scream and cry for 5 to 15 minutes, fall back asleep quickly, and have no memory of the episode. They're scary to watch, but don't usually signal any underlying psychological issues. However, if night terrors happen frequently, it's worth a mention to your pediatrician. Check out over videos in this series to get more information on toddler behaviors and solutions.More »
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When a toddler tantrum ensues, you just want to give in. But you should learn how to say no-- get parenting advice on toddler discipline and toddler behavior problems.
Transcript: Your 2-year-old daughter is at a stage when she's becoming INDEPENDENT, CURIOUS, and adventurous. She...
Your 2-year-old daughter is at a stage when she's becoming INDEPENDENT, CURIOUS, and adventurous. She wants to learn by DOING. But she doesn't know her own abilities and limits yet, and it's YOUR job to teach her self-control. Establishing rules and setting limits is an important part of this learning process. Be clear, provide examples, and be consistent. When she doesn't follow your guidelines, you may resort to saying "NO!" But that word is only as powerful as your follow through. If you're only going to eventually give in, what reason does she have for paying any attention to your initial NO? So when you say NO, MEAN no, so you can demonstrate-and ENFORCE-the consequences of not listening. You also want to avoid head to head conflict. That doesn't teach a child self-control OR respect. So...keep your cool. But it's an UNFORTUNATE truth that toddlers and tantrums go hand-in-hand. It's only natural that you feel like arguing back when you try to enforce rules and your toddler is on a "No, no, no!" kick. Don't. Instead, -Have patience. If YOU lose control your child will think that's the proper response to the situation. -Find reasons to say "YES." -Reinforce GOOD behavior with specific praise. -Find creative ways for her to do things on her own. -Offer CHOICES to help her experience the independence she CRAVES. Remember: Kids learn by watching what their parents are doing. So if something's a DON'T for your child, DON'T do it either. When NO is absolute, such as in cases of danger, you might say, "You cannot touch the hot stove! " "You cannot cross the street by yourself!" But enforce it with calm certainty, not anger or anxiety. And when your child forgets or refuses to follow a rule or acts out: - Help her calm down by staying calm yourself. -Teach her HEALTHIER ways of self-expression. -Distract her from her tantrum. -Teach her problem-solving skills. Curious about other discipline issues with toddlers? Explore the rest of the videos in this series.More »
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