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Parenting Hints

QUESTION: I would like to improve my parenting skills. Can you give me some parenting hints?


Every parent at one time or another has thought, "I would like to improve my parenting skills. Can someone give me some parenting hints?" Wouldn't it be nice if children just arrived with an owner's manual? It would be so helpful to be able to look in the index, flip to the exact page and find the answer to any question. Unfortunately, things aren't that easy. Children will always be a delightful, occasionally stress-inducing, mystery.

In the absence of the owner's manual, there are many wonderful sources of parenting hints. Family, friends, books, videos, and websites are just a few of the valuable resources available to today's parents. Here are some helpful hints geared to specific age groups.

  • Newborns feel more secure if they are swaddled firmly in a blanket, as this sensation closely mimics the feeling inside the womb. If you have a fussy newborn, wrapping them firmly with their arms inside the blanket may help to soothe them when you aren't holding them.

  • Dress your infant in layers so you are better able to regulate his temperature. Infants need the same amount of clothing as you do in most environments; or at most, one layer more. So, if you are wearing a sleeveless shirt and shorts, there is no need to dress your infant in a onesie, sweatshirt, and jacket.
  • Don't be too strict about your child's clothing matching perfectly. At this age, children are beginning to express their individuality and they love to put all sorts of wacky combinations together. To you, it looks like their closet exploded all over them, but to them, they are a work of art! As long as it isn't family picture day, try to be flexible in allowing them to choose their own clothing combinations.

  • Bedtime can be quite an ordeal at this age. Children may be afraid of the dark or of monsters or of being alone. A consistent routine can help keep the fears from getting out of hand. A warm bath, teeth brushing, and pajamas followed by a story, prayers, hugs, kisses, and snuggles can help. If darkness is the fear, try letting the child choose his own nightlight. If monsters are the culprit, make it a point to check the closets and under the bed. Parents have also successfully used a special air freshener as a "monster repellent." The key is to be sensitive. These fears are very real to a child.
Elementary/Middle Schoolers
  • To help calm the harried morning rush out the door, a little organization the night before can go a long way. Before bedtime, be sure all homework is returned to your child's backpack as well as any lunch money, notes for the teacher, permission slips, etc. Place these in a convenient place near the door. Keep boots, mittens, hats, scarves, and other accessories near the coats so they are ready to go as well. Make lunches the night before and keep them in the refrigerator; ready to grab in the morning. Help your child lay out clothing for the next day so there is no last minute scramble in the morning to find those perfect zip-off wind pants. Some families even put together outfits for the entire week. Leaving the house in a calm and peaceful manner puts a great spin on the day!

  • Children have their own internal clocks. It is entirely possible for two early bird parents to give birth to a night owl. Some children can be put to bed at what parents believe is a reasonable hour for their child's age, but the child still cannot fall asleep for hours. The child isn't misbehaving, his body truly isn't ready to fall asleep yet. If you have a young night owl, experiment with pushing bedtime back an hour or so or even allowing the child to read quietly with a small book light before falling asleep. It may help make bedtime a little easier!
  • At this age, peer pressure is at its peak. The guy who never cared what he wore before suddenly insists on $120 basketball shoes. The girl who would shop anywhere now insists on designer labels. Some parents have had wonderful success teaching the value of a dollar, budgeting, and other valuable lessons by using a clothing budget. Each child is given a certain amount of money for his clothing budget. Say you decide on $300 for the entire school year. This means your daughter can go out the first day of school and spend all $300 or she can buy something here or there throughout the year; either way she only has $300 from September through June. It can be a very difficult lesson for her to spend that entire $300 on one sweater, a pair of shoes, and two purses in the Fall and then have nothing left when Spring arrives to buy sandals and a new dress. But, the clothing budget is a great way to teach young adults that money doesn't grow on trees!
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