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Understanding what your preschooler is saying

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 09:44pm
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Learning to talk is a gradual process. It's common for a child's speech to become less clear as she tries to use more words with more difficult sounds, because these require more effort and motor control.

Your child may in fact end up saying as little as possible during different stages of learning to talk, or he may begin to act up, out of his frustration at not being able to communicate the way he'd like.

It is very important for parents to pay close attention to their child's attempts to communicate, and to encourage these attempts. Here are some tips to use if you're having trouble understanding what your child is trying to say:

If you don't understand what your child is saying, encourage her to repeat it by saying things like "Tell me again" or "Tell me more."

If you got part of what your child said, repeat the part that you understood, and ask him to fill in the missing parts.

Watch your child closely. Watch for eye movements or gestures that might give you a hint about what she is trying to say.

You can also ask your child for help, and make it appear like you're having trouble hearing by saying things like "I didn't quite hear that" and ask him to say it again.

If after all of your attempts, you still can't understand what your child is trying to tell you, you may have to apologetically say that you do not understand.

Usually children's speech improves over time. But if you are concerned that your child's speech isn't improving or if your child keeps acting up out of frustration over not being able to be understood, you may want to discuss this with your child's doctor or call the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists at 1-800-259-8519, and they will guide you to an appropriate referral.

Do you ever have trouble understanding what your preschooler is trying to say? Share your experience with other parents by leaving a comment below!

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The benefits of play and your preschooler

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 07:37pm
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Children benefit from playing alone, with siblings, with other children and, most importantly, with you. Adults are special partners in play. You encourage your child to concentrate, to try new things and to deal with frustration. Parents are also partners in play when they make their home safe for play and provide a choice of things to play with that are appropriate for each stage of development.

Blocks, boxes, pails, water, playdough, dolls and ordinary things around the house, like pillows and plastic containers are wonderful stimulating playthings. These materials can be used in different ways and at different ages. Many toys advertised on TV have only one use, so they limit the imagination, rather than encourage it. Such toys can be expensive, may soon be forgotten and do little to help your child's development. On the other hand, some toys have many uses and "grow with your child" for a long time.

When playing with your children, let them choose what to play with. Children need to be leaders in their own play, so try not to take over their games or activities. Let your child tell you what he wants you to do, and very gradually add new stimulation, like more things for him to play with. Research has shown that giving a child too many new things to do or play with at once can be overwhelming, and can make learning more difficult.

How often do you get down on the floor and play with your preschooler? Do you have tips for other parents on how to work playtime in their busy schedules? Share your comments below!

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Full time work and travel: How they will affect your baby

by Maxine
Posted January 2 2012 01:14pm
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Being away from your child can be very difficult for both of you. Research shows that parental absence is usually difficult initially when your child is between six months and two and a half years. If you're away for a few days or even a few hours, you may find that your child becomes very upset with you, even angry. If this happens, try to comfort and reassure her.

Spending time away from your child is sometimes necessary and, in most cases, these absences will cause no harm. If you have to be away longer than one or two days, you can make things easier by leaving your child with someone who knows him well, will understand he may be anxious and upset, and who will consistently reassure him of your return. It's also best to leave your child in familiar surroundings. It is helpful to try and have their day remain as consistent and predictable as possible, whether you are with them or they are in the care of another person (getting up the same time, having the same bedtime routing, nap time, etc.).

You can help to reassure your child and keep a positive relationship. When you return at the end of the day or after a trip, your child may tell you to "go away," or say, "I don't want you." What your child really means is that she missed you terribly and wishes she could have more control over your coming and going. Let you child know that it is okay to be mad or sad or grumpy. Tell them that you love them no matter what they feel and you are so glad to be home with them. To help your child feel a little of this control, allow her to keep her distance for an hour or so after you return if that's what she wants, or let her direct where you should sit. This may help your child feel more secure that she still has some say in her relationship with you. Above all, don’t get upset or chastise your child for not being happy to see you.

Be Honest. Some parents are inclined to tell their child they will be right back, or not tell their child they are leaving and then leave when the child is occupied or sleeping. Although this might seem easier it usually causes greater distress in the long run. You child may start to become extremely upset whenever you are out of their sight because they fear you are not going to return It is much better to tell you child you are leaving and when you are coming back. They may be too young to understand time, but you can help them by putting jellybeans (or a similar small, non-perishable food item) in a jar. One jellybean goes in for each day you are away. The child eats one jellybean at the same time each day and when all the jellybeans are gone, Mom or Dad is coming home.

Make coming home special. Always greet you child right after you arrive home and spend a few minutes with them. Cuddle, share stories, show pictures; just spend some nice time together. If there were issues with the child when you were away, save dealing with this until a little later. Your return home needs to be a pleasant time for all of you.

Include your child in preparing for you to leave. Give your child a role in helping you pack and in taking something to remind you about your child, (i.e. a picture, one of their toys, etc.). Having them participate will help them feel more included and will also help them to understand the difference between a “long trip” and just going to the store.

Connect with our child while you are away. Children respond well to structure and predictability. If you are away for more than a day, call just before bed, send an e-mail or talk to them via one of the social networking sites. Try to make your connection at the same time each day. After they wake up, at supper, or just before bed as an example. You might want to take one of their storybooks with you and read it to them as a part of their bedtime routine. A great idea that some parents have used is to have two copies of favourite storybooks so that as the parent read one over the phone or internet, the child can follow with their own book.

Children do adjust. Remember that there are millions of parents who work full time, part time and travel away from home and their children are doing just fine.

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Making mealtime nutritious and pleasant for your preschooler

by Maxine
Posted December 22 2010 06:28pm
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Here are some practical suggestions for helping your children to enjoy eating nutritious food at mealtimes:

Have meals and snacks at regular times, which helps children's bodies learn to expect when they will be fed.

Offer your children only nutritious snacks between meals which won't let them get too full. This includes carrot sticks, apple slices, peanut butter on celery, and fruity yogurt. 

Encourage your children to feed themselves as much as possible, whether with fingers or utensils. Acknowledge your child’s behaviour-“You ate all your vegetables by yourself tonight, you are getting so grown up.”

Try to relax about the amount your children eat, and which foods they eat. This keeps the tension levels down and makes mealtimes more enjoyable for the whole family.

Try to give your children at least one thing you know they like at meals, as well as something you'd like to introduce them to. But don't worry if they don't eat the new food. Sometimes it takes several exposures before little children learn to like a food.

Let your children tell you when they are full. But before they leave the table, make it clear that they will not be allowed to return for snacks until some reasonable time has passed.

Try to make sure your children have eaten at least a little solid food before giving them a drink. Drinks can be very filling.

And, try not to nag your children about eating. Avoid being very disappointed or angry when they don't eat much of what you have prepared. It will be easier for both of you over the long run, if you can take their refusal somewhat lightly.

 

We know that mealtimes and be especially challenging for parents. How do you make mealtimes happier and healthier for you and your child? Share your comments below!

 

Ask Our Expert!
Do you still have questions about nutrition and your preschooler? Our expert, Karen Soper, is a Holistic Nutritionist and has been practicing holistic nutrition since 2003. Ask Karen a Question!

 

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