The Secrets to Handling Toddler Tantrums like a Pro

Living with young children can sometimes feel like you’re walking delicately across a tantrum minefield. One wrong step and there’s crying and screaming, falling down, kicking, biting, hitting, or throwing things. Something that didn’t set them off one day, may set them off on another, and this can go on for months and yes, it is as exhausting as it sounds.

Tantrums are extremely common in toddlers and preschoolers. It doesn’t mean that your child is badly misbehaved, this is just how young children deal with difficult feelings and emotions that they don’t understand yet. It’s essential in your role as a parent that you help them through this stage so that you can mould a healthy way to process emotion for them in the future.

Finding your child’s tantrums draining and stressful? To help you breeze through them so that you can end your days with that satisfying cup of tea, here are our top secrets to handling toddler tantrums like a pro.

Don’t lose your cool

If you get angry or frustrated with your child and you end up shouting or threatening punishment, you will find that they will respond negatively and often worse than before. Children are often just frightened of this emotion they are feeling, so don’t leave them alone, sit with them while they get through it.

A toddler sitting next to a teddy bear

Be calm and positive

By staying calm, your calming effect will eventually help your child to calm down too. If they are not flailing too much, a comforting embrace or stroking their hair and telling them “I know”, “it’s okay” should work too as it makes them feel safe and understood.

Remember that you’re the adult

It can be so easy to respond to a tantrum with anger, but just take a breath and remind yourself that you’re the adult and that this is a teaching moment. No matter how long it goes on for, don’t cave in or try to pacify them with reward, they need to know that you’re in control as they feel scared.

Stay calm and don’t worry what others think if you are in public, all parents understand. If it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon, take them to their bedroom or outside of the restaurant and explain why they are there and that they will stay there until they calm down.

Don’t reason or reward

Your toddler is so overwhelmed with emotion that they are unable to think or verbalise their feelings, so don’t try and reason with them about their behaviour straight away. Save that for later when their emotional brain isn’t in control. Don’t accidentally reward tantrums either. Rewards can be shouting or pleading (as your child is getting attention) or caving into something that you previously said no to.

But don’t punish either (Use time-outs as a last resort!)

Although tantrums may sometimes start as a means to get something that they want, often they tend to escalate into a strong hormonal storm that scares your child as they are not equipped to cope with it themselves. It is in these moments where punishing them will have a very damaging effect.

Yes, tantrums are a behaviour that we as parents want to discourage, but by punishing them with a time-out or isolation, this can make your child feel very alone and it teaches them that they can’t trust you to help them when they feel this way as you don’t understand their pain. This can have very negative effects on your child as they grow, especially when it comes to being able to handle stress, self-soothe, or being assertive.

Time-outs can be used, but should only be used when your child has hurt someone intentionally or is not flooded with emotion. It is in these moments where you can place your child in a designated spot, explain to them that what they did was wrong and that they need to think about what they did, and you can go about your business for a few minutes to let them self-soothe. When you come back to them to lift the time-out, get them to explain to you why they were there and how they are going to change their behaviour.

Always talk it over afterwards

While your toddler is in the midst of a tantrum, it’s a waste of time reasoning. When the storm has subsided, however, now is the time to hold your child close and talk about what happened. It’s essential that they process their emotion and try to understand it, so discuss it in very simple terms with them.

a father hugging his daughter

Something as simple as “I’m sorry I didn’t understand you. Now that you’re not screaming, I can find out what you want or what was wrong” and “okay, so you were angry because your food wasn’t the way you wanted it?” can make your child feel like they are acknowledged and will help them be able to communicate verbally in the future.

Let your child know that you love them

Once your toddler is calm and you’ve discussed why the tantrum came to be, always end the episode with a hug and tell them that you love them. Not only are you rewarding good behaviour (your child calming down and talking to you) but you are also making them feel acknowledged, setting a healthy precedence for managing and communicating emotions as they grow.

Watch out for signs of stress

Most tantrums are because of over-stress, so pay attention to your little one. Use HALT to prevent potential outbursts. Are they:

H – Hungry?

A – Angry?

L – Lonely or bored?

T – Tired?

If you set a good sleep-eat-rest schedule, many tantrums can be avoided, but it’s always handy just to observe them every now and then as you may be able to predict a potential one coming.

It is also essential to bear in mind any external stresses on your child. If you’re having a particularly busy week, there are parental or family tensions or an upheaval in the family, all of these can make your child feel emotional and provoke tantrums.

Try to avoid tantrum-inducing situations

You’ll get to know your child and what seem to push their buttons, so in time, you’ll be able to predict a tantrum coming and plan accordingly to avoid it. If you know that your child will get upset when they won’t be getting something that they want, provide alternative or distractions in advance. If you know your child is more likely to explode when they are hungry or tired, always bring snacks with you and schedule errands after nap time.

You can avoid many tantrums this way, but when there is one definitely brewing, questions and distractions are always best. If your child is a pain when it comes to eating, instead of shouting “eat your carrots!” and making them feel like their in control, ask them “what are you going to eat first?” This surprising change of tone distracts them from their feelings and stimulates their logical thinking, putting out that fire before it even began.

A little girl looking into a bowl with fruit in it

Other great tactics include telling your child what is going to happen to give them time to adjust, such as “we’re going to eat once we’ve cleaned up your toys” or “we are going to leave the park soon to go home,” or even just doing something that they didn’t expect, such as making a silly face, giving them a random toy, or pointing out something for them to look at.

Teach them new vocabulary

I’m sure you’ve all heard “use your words” when it comes to toddler tantrums and it’s a good piece of advice. When you’re talking through the tantrum after everything has settled, teach your child what they need to say next time that they feel this way.

You can also explain to them how their tantrums make you feel, as not only will this expand their vocabulary and help them communicate ensuring fewer tantrums for you in the future, but it also helps them learn how their actions affect others and what empathy is.

Reward in the right way

Always positively promote good behaviour in the ways that we’ve suggested above and you’ll soon find that this technique will begin to reduce the number of tantrums that occur. We always say not to give inappropriate behaviour your attention as this is a reward for your toddler, so ignore the behaviour by not showing emotion and waiting for them to calm down. Once they are calm, you can then reward them in ways that will reinforce the being calm behaviour, teaching them that tantrums won’t bring attention so they are not the way to communicate.

A dad talking to his son on a hammock

Consistency is key!

Tantrums are going to happen and they are going to get you down, just remember that it is just a phase and that you can teach your child healthy habits. It will take time and a lot of trial and error, but once you’ve found the best way to manage your toddler’s outbursts, stick with it and you’ll soon see positive results!

 

** If your child’s tantrums seem overly frequent or intense (or they keep hurting themselves or others), seek help. Your doctor will discuss your child’s developmental and behavioural milestones with you at routine well-child checkups **

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here:

12 Tips to Soothe Your Crying Baby

It’s tough when your baby won’t stop crying. Worries fill your head like “is there actually something seriously wrong with them?” ,  “am I doing something wrong?” or “I don’t know what to do and I’ll never connect with my baby.” If you’ve been in this situation, don’t worry, it’s normal. Crying is just your baby’s way of trying to communicate with you, so it’s all about recognising their type of cry and using the right techniques to soothe them.

This will take time and patience for you both, but to help you stay as calm and in control, here are our top 10 tips to soothe your crying baby.

1. Learn what each cry means

In time, you will learn that each cry sounds slightly different and you will be able to decipher between their “I’m hungry” cry from their “I’m tired” cry and so on. Notice the differences in volume, pitch, and intensity, and pay attention to their body language and facial expressions.

Sometimes, however, it will appear that your baby is crying for no reason at all, this is where you should use one or more of the tactics below.

crying baby

2. Shush your baby

You may think that making more noise is counterproductive, but it actually helps soothe a crying baby. Try shushing your baby at a similar volume to his cries, decreasing in volume as their cries do. For some babies, this makes them feel understood and it calms them, for others, it’s the white noise in the background which does the trick.

3. Rock, swing or sway your baby

Another classic soothing technique that works like a charm is to create a rhythmic motion of any kind. Most babies love to be gently rocked, so walk around and sway them, rock them in a chair, or take them for a walk in the pram or a drive in the car.

4. Swaddle them

In the first few months of life, swaddling is a great technique that you can use to soothe your baby. Not only does it mimic the womb, making your baby feel warm and secure, but it also prevents your baby from being disturbed by their own startle reflex, as newborns typically flail their arms randomly for the first several weeks.

swaddled baby and a young girl lying together

5. Create white noise

We all find some repetitive background noise soothing (have you ever fallen asleep in front of the TV?), so it makes sense that white noise will calm your baby. Rhythmic white noise can include the shower, extractor fan, washing machine, vacuum cleaner, hair dryer, or even an app on your phone that plays ocean sounds or rain.  

6. Rub their tummy

This has been known to work for adults too! Rubbing your baby’s tummy when they are restless can soothe and comfort them, whilst also helping with their digestion. You might find that in doing this regularly before they sleep that they tend to cry and fuss less, if so, incorporate it into their bedtime routine.

7. Give them something to suck on

Most babies have a strong sucking reflex with some even sucking their thumbs or fingers before they’re born, so let them suck on your clean finger or knuckle and you may find that this will have a soothing effect. If your baby needs this sensation a lot, then consider introducing a dummy.

A newborn sleeping and holding his mother's finger

8. Hold them in a different position

If your baby is restless, holding them in a different position can have a calming effect. Lie them on their side or their stomach and rock them or rub their back gently. Just remember to always place them on their back when you put them back in bed.

9. Give them a warm bath

A soothing bath can help your baby to calm down, especially if they like the sensation of water, so consider giving them a warm bath either before bed or when they are particularly restless. Just remember to check the temperature with your elbow, it should feel neither hot nor cold.

10. Drape a white blanket over them

Sometimes babies can get over-stimulated, so the best way to soothe them is to put a white sheet over their pram or over your shoulder while you hold them in your arms. Having a plain background has a very calming effect for babies, so even standing with your back to a white wall will have the same effect.

11. Wait a few minutes to see if they will self-soothe

Between four and six months, your baby can learn to self-soothe, so when you hear them crying in the middle of the night, wait a few minutes. Sometimes babies cry out when they stir in their sleep but within a few minutes, they are able to settle themselves.

12. Take a moment to see how you feel

Are you feeling overwhelmed? Stressed? Frustrated? When you’re harbouring negative emotions, your baby can sense this, so try your best to remain calm and collected and you’ll soon see that this soothes your baby the most.

It’s normal for babies to cry and it’s just a phase, so try your best to get through it and don’t blame yourself. Your baby isn’t crying because they don’t like you or you’re a bad parent, they are just trying to learn and get through life just like the rest of us!

A baby lying down and looking up at the camera

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here:

How to Create a Daily Routine that Works for Your Family

Following on from our last article “Why Routines are Important for Your Child’s Well Being,” we are now exploring the How so you can apply it to your everyday life at home.

First things first, we do have to tell you that there is no magical solution; there is no perfect routine that we can hand every family and life will become perfect.

Like everything in life (especially when there are children involved), creating an environment that is almost perfection takes a lot of time, effort, patience, and time and error. What will work for one family won’t work for another, and no matter how much planning and preparation that you do, things will change. And they will change regularly.

You may be thinking “well, what’s the point then?” The point is all the benefits that it offers our children (see previous article) and the benefits that it offers us as parents so that we can have quality time all together and not feel like we are running this never-ending hamster wheel.

A dad talking to his son on a hammock

To get off the wheel and make the most of every day with your family, here are our top tips on how to create a daily routine that works for you.

Always write things down

With so much to do and remember, our heads are swimming with tasks and activities that just add to our stress and worry throughout the day. Spend the mornings, even just 5 minutes over breakfast, writing these things that need to be done down. It’ll get them out of your head and you’re much less likely to forget something which will make you feel much better!

Create a routine and keep it flexible

Think about the daily chores that need to be done and then the weekly chores and monthly chores, and put them all into a calendar-type sheet. Depending on how organised you like to be, you could even colour code this to make it easier to glance at and know what’s coming up! Make sure to always write down everyone’s individual activities and events as well so that nothing is forgotten. You could even print out your calendar and hang it so that everyone knows what is going on too, just follow your plan lightly as things are expected to change all the time.

a planner book

Revisit your plan weekly

Make a point of sitting down with your partner every week and reviewing your plan. What worked well? What didn’t? How can you make the next week better? By doing this, you’re making steps towards creating your ideal routine. Plus you may become aware of something that is happening in the week that you forgot about or you need to reschedule!

Have everyone do certain activities at the same time

A daily routine can really help bring you all closer as a family so make sure to have everyone eat, sleep, and play at the same time as much as possible. By making sure that you spend time together, you won’t feel as guilty when you have your much needed alone time.

Aim to get three tasks done every day

Rather than try and do everything (which can’t be done easily), choose three things every day which are the most important to get done. Focus all of your energy on these three and anything else extra that gets done is a bonus!

to do list

Learn to be happy with partial solutions

As family to-do lists just keep growing, you’ll never be able to get everything done, so rather than stress, be happy when something gets done. Haven’t got time to clean the bathroom? Give it a quick tidy and leave it for another day.

Don’t overwhelm yourself; get your little ones to help

As much as we want to be “super-mum” or “super-dad” we literally can’t do everything, so get your little ones to help you as much as possible. By simply getting them to help you clean away the dishes after dinner and tidy up, this is less stress for you, more time with them, and it teaches them valuable life skills such as responsibility.

Accept that mess is okay sometimes

A messy house is a well lived-in house, so learn to be okay with it sometimes. Teach your children the value of work and cleaning and model this by keeping the house that way when you can, but try not to stress if there is a mess and all you want to do is play games or take the children to the park.

A little boy throwing a pile of leaves in the air outside

Teach your children the value of waiting

Today, children just don’t get bored anymore, but they should. Not only is this time essential for them to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around them, but it is also necessary for their cognitive development. When you’re a bit late on dinner or you need to push back play time for another activity, don’t get tempted to give them a device to keep them occupied, make them wait.

Cut down on TV

We’ve all heard or even said the classic “I would but I just don’t have the time” but the truth is, we all have the time. Many of us spend a lot of time, especially in the evenings, watching TV so this should be an activity that you can cut to spend more time together as a family before bed.

Try and maintain the routine when away

Sometimes an emergency occurs, you’ve booked a holiday, or something has just come up that you have to adapt to. Whatever the situation that occurs, if anything disrupts your usual routine, try to still do as much of it as possible. It’s important that children maintain normalcy, especially in times of stress, so make sure to stick to the daily routine to keep them calm and comforted.

Mother holding her baby in her arms

Look after yourself

This sounds impossible, right? Manage the whole family schedule AND fit enough time in for yourself to get enough sleep, drink lots of water, and exercise. It might seem that way but it’s not if you plan and stick to your daily routine. Just remember not to always prioritise everyone else. The whole family needs you to be healthy so make sure to know your energy levels and schedule in downtime for you too.

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here:

Why Routines are Important for Your Child’s Well Being

You may be putting off creating a routine for your children, but trust us when we say that it is worth the effort.

Although a routine requires structure and consistency (and a whole lot of patience), all of which are difficult to achieve in everyday life, once you have established one that caters for the needs of every family member, you will see huge improvements in all aspects of your home life.

As well as massive improvements in the moods and sleep of everyone at home, routines are also important for the well being of our children. Here are some of the reasons why.

 

The benefits of a good family routine

Routines give children a sense of security and control over their environment

When life is organised and consistent at home, children feel safe, secure and looked after, especially during stressful times or during difficult stages of development. By creating a predictable daily routine, children also learn what to expect at various times of the day and experience a sense of control and satisfaction when they complete these tasks.  

Routines can help limit poor behaviour and outbursts

A lot of bad behaviour is primarily triggered by hunger, tiredness or overstimulation, therefore developing a routine where they eat and sleep at certain times will help children emotionally prepare for the next task and understand what is expected of them when the task is completed.

Read: How to Create a Daily Routine that Works for Your Family

Routines help children learn essential life skills

Routines help children learn so much from learning how to perform each task (getting dressed, brushing teeth etc) to learning how the world works and what they need to do in order to interact successfully in it. A simple daily routine provides a basis for children to learn other essential skills such as basic hygiene, time-management, self-control, self-care, responsibility, independence, and confidence.

Routines help bring you all closer as a family

Routines involve doing a lot of things together and while the tasks themselves might seem mundane, this can actually really help to strengthen family relationships. When building your ideal family routine, think about how you can create them around having fun or spending time together such as reading stories before bed or going somewhere for a treat after dance class or football practice. These moments will become a special time for you and your child to share and will be remembered when they grow older and make their own traditions.

A family and dog in a forest

Next time you have a long and stressful day and you’re tempted to eat in front of the TV or let your children stay up until they tire themselves out instead of getting them ready for bed, stop and think of all these benefits they provide to both your children and your whole family.

A little effort every day means less stress for everyone and happier times together – isn’t this alone worth it?

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here:

The Secrets to Soothing a Teething Baby to Sleep

We’ve all heard the stories of teething babies, the non-stop cries of discomfort, lack of sleep, and the nights filled with restless walking to try and soothe them. As parents, this is enough to give us nightmares. But it shouldn’t.

All babies are different. This means that they can start any time, display symptoms months before they actually begin to teeth or only right before the tooth emerges. If you’re lucky, they can even be teething angels and you haven’t known that they have been teething until you can see their first pearly whites.

Whatever your situation, there are a few secrets that will help you make this stage in your child’s development as comfortable and stress-free for the both of you as you possible. Here are our top 5 below which can be used anytime but especially when soothing a teething baby to sleep!

1. Soothe Sore & Painful Gums

You know your baby is teething when they chew on anything and everything to try and help relieve the pressure in their gums, so give them things to help them soothe it. This can be:

  • teething rings
  • chilled water in a feeding cup
  • a chilled flannel
  • a clean finger to rub their gums
  • a peeled and chilled cucumber or carrot
  • teething gels or painkillers

Mother holding her baby in her arms

Tip: use teething gels and painkillers with caution! Always read the instructions, use sparingly and always consult your healthcare professional for advice if you’re unsure.

 

2. Feed Soft Foods

Although harder foods are good to use when your baby needs to gnaw on something for instant relief, feeding your teething baby soft foods is essential to prevent gum irritation and to reduce inflammation at night and in the long term. This means that they can sleep easier and you too!

Tip: soft foods such as pasta and baby formula are perfect.

3. Create a Soothing Environment

Babies moods often reflect those of their environment, so keep them calm by creating a quiet and comfortable space in your home. When a baby is relaxed during the day, they are more likely to sleep through the night.

Tip: create a soothing environment with low light, soft music or white noise. Quiet and a relaxed mum and dad are also essential.

A baby lying down and looking up at the camera

4. Maintain a Bedtime Routine

The teething stage is an exception to the rule, so try to return to your normal sleep patterns as soon as possible. By keeping this routine for bedtime as much as possible during the teething stage, you’re ensuring that both you and your child gets enough rest and relaxation every night whilst also increasing the chances of them going back to self-soothing after it’s over.

5. Recognise the Cry

While it’s important to soothe your teething baby through the teething stage, you don’t want to undo all of your previous hard work of establishing good nightly routines. Recognise when a cry is for attention or coming from pain and only pick up your baby if they are in real distress. Once you know they are crying from pain, comfort them with gentle patting or rocking before settling them back to sleep.

A baby lying face down on a bed sleeping

As hard as it may be to follow these tips to teething success, it is essential for both you and your teething baby to get enough rest and relaxation during this time. Try your best and be strong, trust us when we say your efforts will be worth it.

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here:

How to Master Potty Training: the Ultimate Guide

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How to Master Potty Training: the Ultimate Guide

Potty training is a milestone in your child’s development, a moment of celebration (that your child has accomplished a big thing and for the end of changing nappies!); this moment should be eagerly anticipated for, not dreaded by parents.

To help you get through it in a breeze, we’ve put together this ultimate guide so that both you and your children can become masters of the potty!

WHEN to start potty training

 

“Typically, children will start potty training between 18 and 30 months old.”

 

There’s no set time on when you should start potty training your child because everyone is different. Some children may start a lot earlier than what is considered ‘normal’ and others may take longer to master it. The important thing is to start when YOUR child is showing signs of readiness.

A baby sitting on the potty

Signs can include:

  • A dry nappy after naps
  • A dislike to wearing dirty nappies
  • Noticing other children using the potty
  • Telling you when they are going to the toilet
  • Isolating themselves when they go to the toilet
  • An interest in being independent and being proud of their accomplishments

By waiting till your child is ready to be potty trained (even if all of their friends have already started earlier!), you can be sure that this transition will be as gentle and smooth as possible for the both of you.

 

HOW to start (and master) potty training

Potty training can be easy and quick or difficult and long, but the important thing is to be persistent and stay positive for as long as it takes. Just remember your ABC’s!

A – ASSESS – your child’s readiness and your own

Many parents begin potty training when their children are about 2 and a half, whereas some children are ready at 18 months or not interested until after age 3. Start when your child is ready. Try not to pressure them – if they are not ready, it will only be counterproductive. Also, always avoid potty training during transitional or stressful times such as moving, adding a new baby to the family, or if you are going through a separation.

B – BUY – the right equipment

Try out different options to see what your child responds best to. Do they prefer a child-sized potty chair because they are afraid of the big toilet? Or would they prefer a special adapter seat that attaches to your regular toilet? You’ll get better results if your child likes it, so let them help you choose what one they want and where they want to put it and encourage them to become familiar with it as much as possible.

A child in a shop

C – CREATE – a routine that works for the both of you

Encourage your child to sit on the potty every morning, before an evening bath or before they go to bed so that they can get used to using it as part of their daily routine. First, you can encourage them to do this fully clothed or just in a nappy, then you can move on to teaching them that they have to undo their trousers and pull down their underwear before they go to the toilet. All of this is practice and it is essential to helping your child develop a healthy routine.

D – DEMONSTRATE – for your child

As with most things in life, our children learn by imitating us, so allowing them to watch us use the bathroom is a natural way to help them understand what using the toilet is all about. When you’re using the bathroom, talk them through your routine and why each step is important. With some encouragement, this will help your child become familiar with the process and will allow them to pick it up quickly when doing it themselves.

E – EXPLAIN – the process in its entirety

Children need to understand the importance of the bathroom routine so try to explain everything that you can as simple as possible. The best way to explain is always whilst demonstrating, so next time they go to the toilet in their nappy, take them to the potty and sit them down. You can use this as a learning opportunity from emptying the nappy in the toilet to letting them flush it down and watch it disappear. Many children learn visually, so read them books on potty training, watch videos and take them into the bathroom to help them absorb this information.

A dad talking to his son on a hammock

F – FOSTER – the habit as much as possible

Practice makes perfect so encourage your child to sit on the potty whenever they feel the urge to go to the toilet. If you can, let them roam around the house bare-bottomed sometimes and remind them that the potty is there if they need it as this is often a quicker way to learn. Just make sure they know that they can ask you for help anytime and that it’s okay if they have an accident sometimes. Be as positive and reassuring as possible, praise them when they use it, and let them know that learning takes time and that making mistakes only makes us better learners.

G – GRAB – some training underwear

Training underwear helps your child undress for the potty on their own which is a critical step in becoming completely potty trained. Whether you opt for cloth or disposable training underwear, make sure to introduce them gradually into the routine and only progress to “big-kid” underwear when they look for the potty whenever they need to go.

Tip: Parents have said that although cloth training underwear are less convenient, they work better as your child can really feel when they’ve had an accident in them.

A circle of colourful nappies

H – HANDLE – setbacks gracefully and positively

Temporary setbacks are completely normal so expect them and be prepared to shower your child with positive reinforcement. Don’t get angry or punish your child. Teaching our bodies to develop new habits takes time and it truly isn’t your child’s fault. With reinforcement and praise every time they use the potty, you’ll see that your child will soon become a master of the potty!

 

When your child is mentally and physically ready to learn this new skill, they will, so it’s worth it for both you and them to wait until they are really ready to start.

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? See more from us here:

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How to Encourage Your Child to Get Involved

While children can be quite talkative in the privacy of their own homes, it’s not uncommon for them to be quiet in social situations in the outside world; this shyness can just be in their nature or it can be their anxiety of new people or situations getting in the way. Whatever the reason, shyness isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself but it should be addressed if it is keeping your children from fully relaxing and enjoying being young.

If you find that your child refuses to join in with social situations, clings to you or cries or hides behind you when people address them, here are a few things that you can do to help them overcome this and build their confidence so they can get involved.

1. Don’t label them

One of the most important things that a parent shouldn’t do is to call their child shy. Why? Because labels restrict our children and actually encourage them to behave in a certain way. To a quiet child, their behaviour is normal to them, it’s natural, so when a parent says “Oh don’t worry about him, he’s just shy,” this communicates to your child that being shy or quiet is a problem. Your child might not think of themselves as shy, but if they hear it enough times, they may think that something is wrong with them and they’ll come to believe it.

A little girl hiding under pillows

Instead, consider saying “it takes him a little while to get comfortable in a new situation” or use more positives descriptions such as he’s pensive or observational.

2. Find a great nursery

All children can shine in the right environment, so find a nursery that will encourage your child to develop socially as well as academically. The best nurseries will have programmes where the teacher-to-student ratio is no more than 1:8 and where they encourage parents and children to come in and familiarise themselves with the environment and the staff. Let the teacher know that your child is quiet in social situations so that you can come up with a plan together of how to help them feel more at ease and encourage them to get involved.

3. Talk to them and listen

It’s important that you help your child to understand and process their feelings, so try to talk about them as much as possible. Encourage them to talk about how they feel by asking them what they like and don’t like about parties or why they are quiet in social situations. By talking about their fears and having you listen, you can empathise with them and help them address their concerns so that they feel comforted. No matter how small their fears are, don’t dismiss them and try to relate to them. Say things like “sometimes, I feel shy/scared too in new situations” and tell them what works for you so they can try it too.

A mother and her son looking at eachother

4. Practice and prepare

As with most things in life, practice makes perfect and preparedness is key! To help your child practice for social situations that may make them nervous, why not try acting them out? Making games and role-playing scenarios can really help them to practice essential skills whilst spending quality time with you so it’s a win-win situation. As well as practising meeting new people or certain situations such as sharing, you can also prepare them for them. If you have a party coming up, why not arrange to take them to that friend’s house a few days before so they can get familiar with the family and the house? If they know what to expect from the day, you will find that they will be much less anxious or fearful when it comes and will be more liekly to get involved.

5. Always be optimistic and help them discover their strengths

Being quiet or shy is often associated with negative speech which can then lead to assumptions such as “other kids won’t like me” and self-doubt. This is really detrimental to a child’s development so try to avoid being negative and always think about how you can encourage and reassure your children. Teach them about different personalities and how “being normal” is subjective. Give them positive reinforcement by telling them that they are fun and praising them when they’ve done something new or gone out of their comfort zone to get involved. Remind them that they are doing great, that they’ll be okay and always talk about their strengths. Yes, they may be quiet sometimes, but that means that they are a great observer of people, that they are very aware of their surroundings and they can often relate to people and emotions better than others.

A father kissing his daughter on the cheek

When it comes to shyness or timidness in our children, it is essential that we help them learn about it so they can recognise it and overcome it. As you help your child to become more socially adept, always remind them that you’re just teaching them important life skills to help them feel comfortable, not because you wish that they were different.

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Looking for more help and advice? See more from us here:

How to Prepare Your Child (and Yourself!) for School Separation Anxiety

8 Ways to Help Your Children Protect Their Teeth

What Is Heuristic Play and Why Is It Good for Our Children?

 

Other resources to help with separation anxiety

Babycenter.com

Anxietybc.com

How to Prepare Your Child (and Yourself!) for School Separation Anxiety

Is your child starting nursery or school soon? Are you fretting about this day instead of enjoying the anticipation and excitement of this upcoming milestone?

If you answered yes to both of these questions, don’t worry. Many parents and children are in the exact same position as you.

For children, the main source of anxiety around starting nursery or school is that they don’t know what to expect, whereas, with parents, the separation anxiety for them stems from the worry that their child will feel abandoned.

To help you both ease your separation anxiety, it is all about preparing for it; here are our top tips to help you do just that so that you can start this new chapter of your lives together (and apart!) successfully.

Don’t project your worries

You know your child, so if they aren’t prone to clinging or they don’t seem worried when you talk about starting nursery or school, don’t plant worry seeds. There’s a balance between letting them know what to expect and overdoing it, so don’t create stress where there isn’t any and practice calming yourself down if you’re the one that is worrying.

Practice makes perfect

It’s really good for you both if you do some practice separation before the big day. This could be arranging a few hours at a friends house or their grandparents and gradually building up to a whole day away so that you both know that you’ll be okay without each other. Practising being separated can also help you to establish a routine from getting dressed and having breakfast in the morning to creating a special goodbye ritual between the both of you and enjoying the reunited celebrations. It might not sound like much, but you’ll be surprised how much this prepares you both and it takes a lot of stress and anxiety out of the actual day when it comes.

A father kissing his daughter on the cheek

Make the preparations exciting

Your child needs to know that school is exciting, so make the whole experience as positive as you possibly can by building anticipation. We all know the “back to school” ritual so include your children in them and go shopping together for supplies. At home, you can also hang up a calendar and count down the days until the big day. Not only will it make your child excited about school but it will also help you get organised (and less stressed!).

Show them what to expect

Just like your practice separation runs, it is also beneficial for you both if you visit the nursery or school the week before they are due to start. By doing this, you eliminate the fear of the unknown, showing them where they’ll be dropped off, what class they will be in, where they will sit, and who their teacher will be.

A little girl holding her parents' hands

Don’t rush in the morning

Nothing is worse than rushing in the mornings and it can cause great stress and anxiety to the both of you, so avoid it where possible! The night before school starts, get everything ready together and let your child pick their clothes and food so that they know where they are in the morning. Finish the night spending some extra quality time together and make sure you both get an early nights sleep. In the morning, make sure your alarm is set slightly earlier than normal so that you can all take your time.

Do what’s best for them

It can be very easy to let yourself get overwhelmed by the emotion of this milestone, so whenever you feel like you are, try and think of what will be best for your children. You may be tempted to sneak out of the nursery or classroom when your child “isn’t aware” or make promises or bargains that you might not be able to keep, but don’t! The stronger that you are and the more consistent you can make their school routine, the stronger they will be for it. If they need some comfort, let them take a small transitional object such as a note from you or a stuffed animal with them at the beginning.

A child and their teddy bear

Try your best not to feel guilty

As parents, it’s natural to feel guilty about leaving your child but you need to shake this off! These feelings are not good for either of you, so try and turn them into positives. Yes, your child may cry when you leave them but they will stop a lot sooner than you think if you stay strong and reassure them that they are strong too. Try to be as reassuring as you can, saying positive things such as “Remember how afraid you were of the zoo when you first went? Now you love it!” and you’ll teach your children to overcome negative emotions healthily. Lastly, don’t worry if your child starts to regress after starting nursery or school, this is normal and they will get back on track once they are settled in.

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help and advice, see more handy articles from us here:

7 Common Nursery Worries and How to Overcome Them

How to Develop a Peaceful Bedtime Routine

How to Recognise if Your Child is Stressed and What to Do

How to Develop a Peaceful Bedtime Routine

Many parents dread the time of day when it’s time to wrestle the kids to bed. When children resist going to sleep, the house is filled with whining and screams of “no” and “I don’t want to” where every step of brushing their teeth, putting on their pyjamas and finally getting them into bed is a battle. It’s no surprise that parents fall onto the couch after the war exhausted thinking of where the evening has gone. But it doesn’t have to be like this.

Whether you may believe it or not, a relaxing and peaceful bedroom routine is possible and anyone can achieve it. You may already be achieving it and for that, we can only say “well done!” but for those of you who are not, this article is for you.

Healthy sleep habits are such an important and vital part of healthy development for children, so here is our advice on how to develop a peaceful bedtime routine in your home.

Read: 5 Healthy Habits to Adopt in 2018

What do you consider to be a perfect bedtime routine?

Before you can create a bedtime routine that will suit you and your family, you first need to think about what a perfect routine would be for you. Consider:

  • What time do you want your children in bed?
  • What activities do you want them to do before bed (e.g. put away toys, brush teeth, wash face, shower or get their backpack ready for tomorrow)?
  • What common excuses does your child use for not going to bed and how can you eliminate them/incorporate them into your routine (drink of water, use the toilet etc)?
  • What activities can you add to your routine so that you both enjoy it (read a book together, sing a bedtime song, snuggle, talk about the good things that happened today etc)?

Once you know what your ideal evening would look like, only then can you start working towards making that your reality.

A woman sleeping with a dog next to her

3 things that you can do to end the day more peacefully

Create a ritual and connect before lights out

When both you and your children have had a long and sometimes stressful day, it is beneficial for everyone knowing that the evening will end peacefully. To ensure this, create a ritual that will create a calm and soothing atmosphere before bed. You can decide what you would like to do and then discuss this with your children to see what would make their perfect bedtime routine too. When children feel involved they are more likely to want to follow this routine.

Make sure that your routine involves a lot of one-on-one interaction as children just want your attention. Often, children only play up to get your attention, so spending some time in the evening reading together or singing bedtime songs can really make a difference to how your child behaves. Even if you have many household duties or are stressed from your work day, it’s essential that you put that aside and schedule some time to be with your children. You’ll soon find that you feel less stressed for it as you say goodnight and close that door knowing that you’ve spent quality time together.

A newborn sleeping and holding his mother's finger

Set a time and stick to it

So you know when you want your children to be in bed, now you need to start working your routine backwards to figure out what time you need to start preparing for bed. Contrary to what many parents do, a routine shouldn’t be started 10 to 15 minutes before lights out. Children need plenty of time to wind down and relax before they transition into bed.

Having a set time each day where the bedtime routine starts is great because not only does this mean less stress for you, but it also allows your children to know when they need to start getting ready so that they can finish their games or stories before settling down. This allows them to be in a much better mindset to sleep well. Once you have your times, stick to them as much as possible. It’s okay to be flexible when times call for it but you need to set your limits such as the number of stories you’ll read to make sure that the routine is as consistent as possible.

An alarm clock

Limit screen time, especially after dinner

There is nothing more stressful for you than nagging your children to do something and 20 minutes later, they are still staring at the screen of the TV or the iPad. We’ve all been there and it is incredibly frustrating, but what’s more is that it is actually very harmful to our children. Bright screens can ruin a bedtime routine as they stimulate the brain and negatively affect our sleep patterns, so you need to be thinking about how you can limit this before bed.

Limiting screen-time at least 30 minutes prior to bed is enough time for your child to focus on relaxing and getting into the right frame of mind for a good sleep state. With a peaceful bedtime routine that starts well before bed, however, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem if your child knows that there are no screens once the routine starts.

A little girl on the computer with her mother

So there you go, bedtime no longer has to be a huge hassle if you just take control and take some time to implement these new and healthy changes. Don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t take straight away, however, as there are no instant fixes to a problem. Be patient and take the time to develop this routine and you’ll soon find that your evenings are so peaceful that you won’t know what to do with yourselves!

 

Do you have more advice on developing healthy habits? See more from us here:

 

How to Recognise if Your Child is Stressed and What to Do

8 Ways to Help Your Children Protect Their Teeth

5 Reasons Why Messy Play Is Important and Benefits Children

7 Common Nursery Worries and How to Overcome Them

When our little ones are going to nursery or school for the first time, it can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. For parents, there are worries about how your child will cope away from you and if they’ll make friends, and for our children, they may have a lot of worries as they have so many new things that they will be facing.

While it may be tempting to succumb to this worry, it is really important that parents keep things positive and express excitement for nursery or school (even if they don’t feel that way), and if your child still has worries, to address them and help them overcome them.

To help you enjoy this exciting time without all the unnecessary worry, here are seven common concerns that parents have about nursery and our tips on how you can overcome them healthily!

Worry 1: What if they get upset when it’s time for me to leave?

This is one of the most common worries that parents have and it’s no surprise really, as no matter how much you prepare for that first day when it’s time to leave our emotions tend to get the best of us.

What you can do: Practice saying goodbye with your child before the big day and come up with your own personal ritual to give them comfort. This could be a handshake, an Eskimo kiss or a special phrase you might say after a big hug. Keep goodbyes short and sweet as that will be best for the both of you.

A father kissing his daughter on the cheek

Worry 2: What if I break down when it’s time to leave?

Even when you try your best to talk positively about nursery and school so that your child feels good about it, it might not be enough to calm your own worries about that day. With that being said, however, it is crucial that you don’t get emotional in front of your child as they sense our nerves and take them on themselves.

What you can do: Do everything you can to keep it together in front of your child. The easiest thing to do is think of something funny and smile. When you smile, your whole body relaxes and your child will sense this and relax too. If that’s not enough, think how good it will be for your children if you relax and practice breathing deeply from your stomach and concentrate on softening your facial expressions.

Worry 3: What if they miss us when we are gone?

Don’t assume that your child will have a hard time adjusting being away from you because you may project your worries onto your child. In reality, it will be strange at first but your children will be occupied all day until that perfect moment when you’re reunited at the end of the day.

What you can do: It’s important that you don’t set your children on a track to develop anxiety when they think about leaving you. Concentrate on developing positive traits in your children to help make adjusting to change that much easier; developing self-control and peer-related social skills will help them throughout their whole lives so just think about this when you’re teaching them.

Worry 4: What if they don’t make friends?

This is a common worry among children and parents and even as adults we worry about meeting new people whenever we are doing something new, so this is completely natural.

What you can do: Help your child build the social skills they’ll need. Sharing, playing collaboratively and kindness are a huge part of nursery, school and life there afterwards, so reinforce these morals at home and they will be making friends in no time. Where you can, try to organise play dates and give more encouragement to children who are shy.

Worry 5: What if they don’t adjust?

Again, don’t assume that your child will have a hard time adjusting because in reality they will most likely love their educational environment and make new friends in the process.

What you can do: To make the transition easier, visit the nursery or school before the first today so that your child can familiarise themselves with the new environment and see how nice it is. They can even meet their teacher so that they start looking forward to their first day instead of being scared.

Two girls drawing

Worry 6: What if they don’t learn what they are supposed to?

Try not to dwell on what your child may or may not learn and whether they will be on the same level as the other children. There is a lot of variability among preschool-age children so it is normal for them to learn at different rates.

What you can do: All you can do is try to stop worrying. Even if you think that your child is “behind,” it is important to remember that they will pick up most of their social skills, fine and gross motor skills, and even academic skills, just from playing with others and in their own time naturally. If you want to, you can complement nursery activities with similar ones at home.

Worry 7: What if they don’t cooperate with the teacher?

Some parents tend to worry about the possibility that their child may be naughty or disrupting and won’t cooperate with the teacher.

What you can do: Lay some groundwork at home to prepare them for nursery/school. Get your child used to listening to an adult by reading books out loud to them and if they get up and walk away or interrupt, remind them that you are reading and that you would like them to sit quietly and listen.

A mother and her son looking at eachother

You may or may not have noticed that all of these common worries start with the dreaded “What if?” These are what are known as “hypothetical worries” meaning that parents are worrying about things that may or may not happen, things that are out of their control. This is counterproductive and can have a negative impact on you and your children, so don’t dwell on things that might not happen. Instead, take an active approach with your anxiety and help your child prepare for the next stage of their lives.

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Do you have more nursery worries? See more help and advice from us here:

 

12 Questions You Need to Ask Your Nursery

How to Recognise if Your Child is Stressed and What to Do

What Is Heuristic Play and Why Is It Good for Our Children?