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Outdoor safety tips for toddlers in the wintertime

by Maxine
Posted January 4 2012 04:05pm
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Going on an outdoor half day or full day trip with the kids? Here are some things to keep in mind.

Clothing

Keep everyone warm from head to toe. There's nothing worse than you or the kids being cold. Check the weather for the area you are planning to visit – temperatures can vary significantly across relatively small distances.

Be prepared with extra layers. Even after checking the weather and dressing appropriately, you may reach your destination and realize it is chillier than expected. Keep extra layers in the car that can easily be added under your child's snowsuit.

If there is snow, make sure things are waterproof. Kids of all ages love the snow – rolling in it, playing with it, and generally covering themselves in it. Make sure that snowsuits, boots, and especially mittens are waterproof. Labels will indicate if the garment is waterproof. If this is not stated on the label, the item is likely not waterproof. For your young day tripper, mittens are best rather than gloves.

Check for wetness at lunch. It's not unusual in the winter for people, including children, to sweat if they have been physically active. This can often make clothing wet. If you are continuing in the afternoon, make sure clothes are dry – especially socks and mittens. Keep extras with you to change into.

Put some tissue into your child's pockets – it may be needed along the way.

Keep some lip balm with you in case of chapped lips.

In the Car

Weather during winter is unpredictable so better to be prepared. Keep extra snacks (including water) and blankets in the car as well as an emergency kit.

Keep some age appropriate activities your child can use to pass the time in case of traffic or other unexpected delays.

Adjust your child's clothing to meet the climate of the car. If the kids have been in snowpants and many layers during the day, reduce the number of layers for the car ride home. Hot kids soon become cranky kids and our ability to respond while driving is limited.

Take along some of the kids' favourite tapes. A sing song can make the ride fun for everyone.

Winter Activities for the Family

Tobogganing is a great family activity that everyone can take part in. Some things to remember:

  • Dress warmly ensuring that coats, mittens and boots are waterproof.
  • Check in with your child frequently to ensure s/he is warm and dry.
  • Have your child wear a helmet that is approved for outdoor winter activities.
  • Children 5 years old and under should not go down alone. This means you will need a toboggan that can seat two.
  • Try to pick a hill that isn't filled with skiers and others who may overwhelm a young child.
  • Toboggan away from roads and any bodies of water.
  • Ensure the hill is clear of any obstacles including large trees or rocks.
  • Also ensure there is adult supervision with young children.

Skating is another family activity that is often close to home too! Remember to:

  • Dress warmly ensuring that coats, mittens and boots are waterproof.
  • Check in with your child frequently to ensure s/he is warm and dry.
  • Have your child wear a helmet that has a mouthguard on it.
  • Make sure an adult has checked the ice if skating on lakes or ponds.
  • If you are introducing your child to skating for the first time, choose a rink that is not too crowded or overwhelming for your child.
  • Ensure there is adult supervision if you are not joining your child.

Winter activities can be loads fun so long as you are prepared and everyone is warm.

 

What do you do to prepare your toddler for outdoor activities in the wintertime? Let other parents know and post a comment below!

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Giving vs. Getting: Finding balance during the holidays

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 11:21pm
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The centre of many holiday celebrations is giving and receiving gifts, especially for children. Children fantasize about it, and most hope to receive lots of big, expensive gifts. Parents, for their part, worry that the mid-winter holidays will spoil their children or make them greedy. Most parents will probably have to provide a healthy reality check, providing some guidance for what are more reasonable dreams.

But what about your child's natural desire to receive lots of gifts? Does this promote greed? As long as your family also highlights the true meaning of the holidays, such as giving to others and celebrating cherished rituals together, you do not need to worry too much about your child's materialistic desires.

Here are some ways you can use Comfort, Play & Teach: A Positive Approach to Parenting to set the tone for raising kind and caring children, regardless of how many gifts they ask for or receive.

 

heart Comfort

Nurturing close relationships within families and among friends is the core of healthy social and emotional development for young children. Parents can set the tone for the holidays by emphasizing their true meaning – that of giving to others. The very young child, who has been at the receiving end of love, comfort, and attention to his needs from the earliest days, will replicate giving to others naturally and spontaneously. An infant as young as nine months will lovingly offer a parent his pre-chewed food in the spirit of sharing. A toddler as young as eighteen months will either hug or offer up a cherished stuffed toy to comfort another person who is crying. A child's capacity for empathy and concern is developed through the consistent and sensitive responsiveness shown them throughout the early years. When you focus on the "giving" part of the holidays, this teaches children to care for others and to reach out to people who are less fortunate.

  • Take a little time to help your children make their own "gifts". It doesn't have to be fancy. They can make drawings or colour pictures and put them in envelopes to give Grandma, Daddy and other people they care about.
  • Many fire halls and charities collect toys for children whose parents can't afford to buy them. Encourage your preschooler to choose a toy for purchase and let her give it to the charity.
  • When grocery shopping for your family, take time with your child to fill a special bag for the Food Bank, and drop it off together. Toddlers are great at stuffing bags.

 

star Play

It is through the power of play that a child explores and makes discoveries about things and people in his world. Consider how your family's own traditions can be emphasized during the holidays. When children are little, it is a prime time to start family traditions that will last a lifetime. This helps children feel grounded and connected to the people who care for them.

Here are some ways that family values can be celebrated through play:

  • Preschoolers are very capable assistants in the kitchen during the preparation of the special foods that are part of the holidays. Young children enjoy the baking experience and are learning many important science concepts and motor skills in the process.
  • Toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy the activity of decorating a tree. This is an opportunity for them to help make decisions about what ornament goes where and for you to engage them in a conversation about the ornaments. But remember, toddlers enjoy taking things off as much as they like putting them on.
  • If your family participates in special ceremonies such as lighting candles on the Menorah, let your preschooler count out the candles each night and help put them in place.
  • Sing seasonal songs, read seasonal stories and play traditional games as a family.
  • Turn on the outdoor holiday lights with your little one each night.

Nothing is too insignificant to delight a young child. And many times it is the little things that they will remember the most.

 

triangle Teach

Young children need to learn how to communicate, interact with others, solve problems and express thoughts and feelings. The holiday season presents a wonderful opportunity for children to learn about themselves in the context of family and the community around them. Take this time to model for children how to think about others and to reach out to people who are less fortunate:

  • Be sure to talk about everything you are doing. Infants and toddlers may not understand every word, but your tone will communicate volumes. Preschoolers' capacity for language is growing exponentially and they love to listen to stories about people and traditions.
  • Talk about the importance of sharing and how it makes people feel when they receive a gift.
  • Take photos of family rituals and make a special holiday album. Use it as a vehicle to discuss with your child what was happening in the photos and what emotions were experienced. Discuss the importance of celebrating cherished rituals together.
  • Take picture books out of the library that explore themes of poverty. Engage your preschooler in a discussion about what things would make it better for that child or family. Follow through with any reasonable suggestions to demonstrate to your child, that even at a young age, actions can help to make a difference in someone's life.

Spending time with your children in these ways will help to outweigh the material aspects of the holidays, and your actions will build fond memories and positive values that will stay with them for a lifetime.

If you found this article helpful, please download the tip sheet (PDF).  

 

How do you help your preschooler understand the true meaning of the holidays? Do you find it difficult to dissuade them from being greedy? Share your experiences by leaving a comment below.

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Preparing your preschooler for childcare

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 05:52pm
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Starting childcare can be an adjustment for the entire family. Routines will be new for everyone and some family members will adjust easier than others.

Whether it's a family home care setting or centre-based care, here are some tips to help make the transition easier for everyone.

  1. Start talking about the new routine well in advance of the first day.
    For instance, if mom will be doing the drop off, she could start talking about the ride to childcare. Talk to your child about the new routine that will take place once in care. Familiarize yourself and your child with the names of the teachers as well as the other children.
  2. Arrange advance visits.
    Advance visits, for children of all ages, allow your child to become familiar with the caregiver, the routine, and the other children. Visits can begin several weeks before the first day.
  3. Ease your child in and out.
    At the start, a parent or other family member should visit with the child for 30 minutes to two hours. Over the next few weeks, arrange to leave your child for a period of time without you. This will help the caregiver and child get to know each other. It will also show your child that you will come back. During the first full week, you may want to pick up your child a little earlier on the first day, gradually increasing the length of stay as the week progresses.
  4. Make introductions to the new children.
    Getting to know the other children and the other parents will be important for you and your child. During visits, be sure to introduce your child to children in his or her group. Similarly, don't hesitate to introduce yourself to some of the other parents.
  5. Take touches of comfort.
    Allow your child to take something that will give her comfort—a special toy, blanket, even a picture of you.
  6. Make a comfort call.
    Talk to your caregiver to agree on a time you can call during the day. It's important to plan this together to ensure your call won't take the caregiver's attention away from the children at a busy time.
  7. Touch base with your caregiver every day.
    Exchange information about your child's day or the evening at home. For instance, if your child had a restless night it is important your caregiver know so she can respond to any unusual behaviours or needs that may arise as a result. Similarly, as you head into the evening, you should know if your child was fussy at childcare.
  8. Talk with your child.
    Each day, talk with your child about special things that happened at childcare.
  9. Have an older sibling visit.
    If there's an older sibling in the same childcare setting, ask that she be given the opportunity to visit her younger brother during the day during the adjustment period.
  10. Be specific about pick-ups.
    Reassure your child that you will be back. Make sure he knows who will pick him up at the end of the day and when. Even if he is not old enough to really tell time, one of the ways children learn to tell time is when pick-up routines become established.

We know it can be hard to leave your child in childcare for the first time. Preparing yourself and your preschooler will smooth the transition and contribute to making it a positive experience for everyone.



Video Alert!
You can also watch our video “How to ease your child's transition to school and childcare” to learn more.


How did you prepare your preschooler for childcare? Was it difficult for you? For your child? Share you experience by leaving a comment below!

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Encouraging your baby to begin talking

by Maxine
Posted January 2 2012 01:02pm
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Try to respond to whatever type of communication your child makes, such as pointing and gesturing. Provide your child with a model for conversation. For example, ask some questions and talk about what your child is doing and what you and other family members are doing.

Try to speak slowly, naturally and clearly to your child.

Read stories together.

Give your child lots of opportunity to be with other children to hear their conversations.

Try to help by putting your child's feelings into words in situations that make him frustrated.

Sing and dance to music together.

If you find that your child makes no attempt to speak by 18 months, doesn't use many gestures to communicate, or seems to have trouble understanding what is said, discuss this with your child's physician, or call the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists at 1-800-259-8519.

How did you encourage you baby to begin speaking? Was your child ready when you thought she’d be? Share your thoughts below!

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