How to Be a Good Parent to a Toddler

Many parents will readily confess that the toddler stage was the most challenging period they experienced while raising their child. Having to cope with a little one who had boundless energy, could be as stubborn as the proverbial mule, yet was too young to be reasoned with, demanded every bit of patience they could summon.

A toddler is a fearless bundle of curiosity. He is eager to explore every inch of his environment, and must be watched constantly to see that he doesn’t wobble into a dangerous situation. He can move with the lightning speed when something grabs his interest.

Parents who have maneuvered safely through the toddler stage of a child’s development will offer helpful advice, including most of the following suggestions:

1. Provide structure

Set up conditions that will make accidents less likely to happen. Place covers over electrical outlets. Use a playpen to keep the toddler safe while you are busy cleaning or cooking. Place anything delicate, breakable or sharp out of reach. Barricade the stairway with a baby gate.

2. Set Up a Routine

A consistent daily routine is important because it gives the child a sense of security. He cannot tell time on a clock, so his day revolves around the events in his life: breakfast time, play time, nap time, bath time and bedtime. These should happen at the same time each day. If he’s expecting them and they don’t happen, he’ll probably become irritable.

3. Make Rules

You, as the parent, must make and enforce rules. They should be few, simple, and non-negotiable at this stage in the child’s development. For example: making him understand that he must hold your hand to cross the street, he must not bite anyone, he must not pet strange dogs, are good for starters.

4. Positive Reinforcement

Every time you catch your toddler doing something right, give lots of positive feedback immediately. Praise, hugs and kisses, expressions of pride and delight will encourage more repetitions of good behavior.

5. Punishment

When necessary, you can begin to use the “time-out” strategy. Sit the little one on a chair and tell him slowly, clearly and calmly why he is there. “You must not hit the baby.” Leave him 1 minute for every year of his age. A one-year-old would sit one minute, a two-year-old, two minutes and so on. It is hard for toddlers to sit still so you may have to restrain him at first, until he gets the idea.

Distract and Divert

The best strategy for toddlers about to misbehave is to distract their attention. It’s usually easy to do. Divert them with a colorful toy or an arrowroot biscuit and they will often turn away from a problematic course of action.

Temper Tantrums

It is best to ignore them. They are bids to get your attention or to force you to do something or give him something he wants. If the noise bothers you, leave the room. Later, say in a calm voice, “I don’t like watching temper tantrums. If you are finished, we will talk about the problem.”


Tantrums can often be averted if the child feels he has choices. Let him choose one of three healthy breakfast cereals. Have three color-coordinated outfits ready on hangars and let him choose one. Have a variety of healthy snacks ready in the fridge, one of which he can choose to eat. It’s not too hard to outsmart a toddler.


Before they learn to speak clearly, or construct proper sentences, toddlers are often frustrated because they cannot be understood. Try to learn your child’s jargon, so you can respond appropriately and translate for him to others. This will avert some temper tantrums.

Above all, try to enjoy the toddler stage with your child. This is the time when he wants to be around you the most. Certainly, he wants to explore his environment but he needs the reassurance of knowing you’re close by to protect him and keep him from getting into trouble. Make rules, and fulfil your duties as a responsible parent, but at the same time, give him lots of love, hugs and kisses, and you will find, as other parents have done, that this stage passes before you know it.


20 Ways to Encourage a Child to Read

If your child is struggling in school with reading and in the area of language arts, their problem could stem from the inability to read very well. Unfortunately many children go to school daily, but do not learn how to read very well or at all. It is hard to understand how this could happen, but it does. In this article I would like to look at some ways that we as parents can entice our children to read. It may not become their favorite hobby, but it is truly an essential skill to have when growing up.

1. Have your child read books that are current and popular.

2. Start a reading club, see my article below on how to go about setting this up.

3. Brainstorm with your child on what they think will help them too read better.

4. Make reading time a priority. Set whatever your reading schedule or goal is, and stick too it. Do not allow other activities to interfere in that space.

5. Allow your child to read kid focused magazines.

6. Use the local newspaper and current events they have asked you about or talked about in school as a spring board for reading.

7. If you believe your child has a real problem have his school test his reading comprehension with a diagnostician.

8. Take your child to the library regularly.

9. Play games that require reading.

10. Have older children read to younger children.

11. You and your child take turns reading to each other.

12. Follow up on a reading selection with an associated activity.

13. Look for outside of the box ways to read such as menus, signs, etc..

14. Offer incentives or rewards to your child for reading.

15. Create a special place for reading and storage of reading materials.

16. Be sure to include joke, riddle, and cartoon books in your child’s available assortment.

17. Discuss what is read with your child.

18. Give your child a book allowance.

19. Allow your child to not want to finish a book they have lost interest in.

20. Allow browsing by your child for books on the Internet, before you go to the library or purchase.

There are actually numerous ways to encourage your child to read. Whether they are poor, reluctant readers or just not interested, combining some of the above options together will help to yield results in the area of reading. One last most important tip to you as a parent is to remember to praise your child, even in the smallest amount of effort made.

On the following sites you can find additional information on encouraging your child to read:


How to Not Lose a Child on an Outing

Visiting the zoo a couple of days ago, there were more people than the zoo should have been able to hold. With so many people in one place, you would think parents would be extra cautious with their children and hold them close. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

There were four incidents of children, ages three and younger, that came by me crying. Where were their parents? The parents were probably running through the zoo, frantically searching for their children. Not once did I hear an adult calling a child’s name. So it is hard to say where the parents were. Here are a few suggestions so maybe this unfortunate tragedy will not happen to you.

Strollers – Strollers are great to use, especially if your child likes you to carry him or her and sometimes you just cannot. If a place is packed, you will not have to worry about your child being accidentally ran into or worse, stepped on if he or she is in a stroller. Always check the stroller before you start moving. Your little one could have gotten out at the stop.

Leashes – Leashes are a great idea. There is not much chance your child will be able to get away from you unless he or she knows how to take it off. The leash does not hurt them and it provides a small backpack for you to carry things in. If you use the leash you may want to make sure you keep your child close so you do not trip anyone with the leash. Your child will feel he or she has freedom from you because you are not holding their hand or carrying them.

Hand Holding – Hand holding is great because you don’t have to “watch” your child. You will know that your child is beside of you by the touch of his or her hand. The downside of hand holding is if you have a child that likes to run or pull away from you. You may have to chase your child if he or she gets away from you.

Visual Contact – It’s good to keep visual contact with your children, especially if you are letting them “run around”. Do not have much faith in visual contact if there are a lot of people in the same area you are. It is too easy for a child to get lost in a crowd. This is better to use for older children.

Carrying – If you are physically able to carry your child all the time, this is the best way to know where your child is. If your child is in your arms you know he or she will not accidentally be stepped on. If your child is too heavy to carry you may want to think of an alternative plan.

Walkie talkie – Children’s walkie talkies can be purchased for $5 and up. Make sure the walkie talkie works before going on your outing. Make sure your child knows how to use the walkie talkie. If you and your child are separated you may be able to find your child quicker with a walkie talkie.

If your child does not remember his or her address and your name or phone numbers, sew the information to your child’s clothing. If your child cannot talk make sure he or she has some type of identification with him or her.

If you and your child ever do get separated, immediately start calling his or her name. If you have a lost child you want everyone to be aware of this fact immediately. Make sure you contact someone that works for the attraction as soon as possible. You may want to post yourself by an exit, as well as have the workers notified not to let any children leave.

These are common sense suggestions that are a good reminder for parents that may have other things on their minds besides safety. You may automatically do these things without thinking and that makes you a cautious parent and your child safe from being “lost”. The fewer lost children there are the better.


Surviving the Early Days of Parenthood

It’s an old cliché that your world turns upside down when you have a child, but clichés are overused for a reason: They’re often correct. After having their first child, many parents strive to get back to their old routines as quickly as possible, without thinking about how they might need to change their standards and expectations to accommodate their new responsibility. The result is parents who are stressed, overburdened, and disappointed in themselves for not being able to “do it all.”

To that end, here are a few things new parents should keep in mind when considering what their lives will look like in the initial weeks after bringing baby home.

Take people up on their offers to help

After you get home, there is a good chance that well-meaning family members and friends will tell you that they’d like to bring you meals, do your laundry, or even watch the baby for a spell while you take a short nap. Customarily, people respond to such requests with some variation of, “Oh, I couldn’t put you out like that.” However, new parents should never feel like they should politely decline offers of help for two reasons. First, people like supporting others. Second, and even more important, if you’re a new parent, you’ll need the help.

Sleep when the baby sleeps

This is common advice, but it’s worth stressing just how important this is. For many, the thought of napping in 20-minute increments throughout the day seems implausible, but think of it this way: When you’re well-rested, you’re far more likely to feel in control of your situation, and you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed.

Get out of the house

It’s surprising how many people don’t do this, for various reasons. While there’s certainly something to be said for keeping your baby away from crowds, where there are likely to be an abundance of germs, staying in the house all the time can be damaging to your emotional well-being. If it’s summer, take your baby for short walks in a stroller once or twice a day. If it’s winter, go for a drive or take your baby along for short errands. Anything that gets you dressed and moving can help you feel like, slowly but surely, you’re returning to some semblance of your former life.


Take it slow

Finally, but most importantly, take your time. Say “no” to invitations if you need to, and don’t feel like you have to come up with a good excuse. Get a family member or friend to visit. If you’re a woman, don’t try to lose all the baby weight in three months. There will be time for becoming “you” again, don’t worry. As your baby grows, so will your ability to juggle all your previous interests and responsibilities.


It’s all just a matter of meeting the adjustments. It’s a fulfillment, always remember that. But the dark days are yet to come and it will require you now to change your priorities. Well, that’s part of becoming a parent. Needless to say, that’s part of the adjustment. You just need to take things slowly just like the last tip. Do not ever contain yourself in the thought that you’ll be doing this for the rest of your life. An even greater life is actually ahead of you. Once you overcome the process, you’ll see how happier it is to have such responsibilities that not all people are lucky to have.


Parents Help Maximize Child’s Education

Parents applaud when a child brings home a report card with good marks and chastise when grades are low. Most parents have a hectic schedule but it’s vital that parents assist children in maximizing the school experience. Although every child may not bring home straight A’s, any child can get the most from their school day, everyday!

Begin the day right. Set a reasonable bedtime so children will be rested and ready to rise with ample time to prepare for school. Have backpacks ready to go near the door and ask the kids to select their outfits the night before. Develop a simple routine and stick to it.

Breakfast is important. Parents who lack the time to slave over the stove to prepare a hearty meal can still provide their child with a good breakfast. Cereals, instant oatmeal, frozen waffles and pancakes, ready made breakfast sandwiches, pre-cooked bacon and sausage, and frozen breakfast meals are all easy options to start the day with nutrition. Add a glass of juice and milk. Parents worried about whether or not a child is gaining all his or her necessary vitamins can add a multi-vitamin to the morning line-up.

kids-hygieneMorning musts include teeth brushing, hair combing, and face washing. Personal hygiene helps children to be clean and to have a good self-image. Insist that your child use deodorant each morning and make sure that their chosen outfit has a parental seal of approval.

Help children make it to the bus stop in time or deliver them to school before the final bell rings. Never encourage tardiness and remember that being prompt puts students first in line for the day.

Encourage children to eat a hot school lunch. School lunch menus are carefully planned to be nutritious and to meet federal guidelines. Picky eaters who need to bring a lunch from home or on the occasional day that the entrée doesn’t suit, make sure a healthy lunch goes to school. Invest in a few artifical ice cubes to keep cold foods cool. If a child often takes a lunch, invest in a lunch box or bag; otherwise brown bags are in order.

Choose food wisely. Make sandwiches with lean cuts of meat such as turkey or ham. Substitute cheese crackers or pretzels for chips. Let pudding, applesauce, raisins, or a fruit cup be a dessert instead of fat and sugar laden cupcakes. Urge the child to purchase milk at school or include a 100% juice drink with the lunch.

Parents should keep lunch fees paid and pay all other school related expenses on time. Make certain that your child has the necessary school supplies and that replacements are sent when pencils or crayons are worn down.

Make contact with the classroom teacher. If parents have not yet met the teacher, make time to visit the school. Putting a face to the name helps parents and by the same token, teachers can work better with home if they have met the child’s parents. Make sure that the teacher understands the dynamics of the family. Divorced parents should indicate the active presence of a former spouse or a new one. If children live with grandparents or other relatives, indicate this to the teacher. If special conditions exist – an ill parent or relative, a sibling with disabilities, or other things that could affect student performance, share it with the teacher.

Meet the principal. Most principals are more than happy to work with parents. Some complain about a lack of parental involvement. Should your child ever face discipline problems, cooperation between school and home flows easier if the parent and principal are aquainted.

If possible, meet other key figures in the school. Librarians, the school nurse, counselors, and others all play an important role in the student’s day. If a child has a special talent for music, for example, get to know the music teacher.

The more a parent is involved, the better that home and school can provide a partnership to offer the best education possible to a child.

Know the rules of the school. If the school produces a student or parent handbook, read it. Learn the classroom rules as well. Encourage your child to follow the rules and explain any questions the child may have about the rules. Explain the necessity of rules.

Read all material that comes home from school. Many elementary teachers send home a classroom newsletter or report each week. Middle-school and high schools may also send home similar communications. Parents should have a copy of the current school year calendar posted at home. Make yourself familiar with what is happening at school.

Attend open house, parent night, carnivals and other school functions. If possible, join the parent-teacher association. Make attending annual parent-teacher conferences a priority and be on hand for school performances such as plays or concerts. The more involved in school that a parent can be, the better foundation a student has for education.

If the school offers a parent volunteer program, consider becoming part of it. At many schools, parent volunteers work with students, grade papers, pull lunchroom duty, copy materials for teachers, and much more.

Get to know your child’s friends and peers. At home and at school, it’s wise to know the children that your child associates with. If a situation is spotted that doesn’t seem right or is against the family’s moral code, talk about it. Encourage the child to lift their friend up and never to be dragged down.

At home, make time each evening to ask about the school day and to talk about it. Open lines of communication so that your child feels comfortable talking about events at school. Accept confidences and keep them but act when necessary. Show interest in school to maintain the child’s own interest.

Discuss completed work. Praise good grades and encourage children to improve when grades are lower. Never criticize a child but encourage. If it seems that a child may need extra help, tutor him if you can or seek outside help.

Check for homework and encourage it to be done early. Set aside a quiet place in the home for homework. If possible, invest in a small desk (discarded school desks can often be bought for very low prices) or desiginate a corner of the dining room table for homework. Keep noise to a minimum until homework is completed. Never do homework for a child but do check for obvious errors. If errors exist, point them out and ask for correction. Offer help when possible.

Make a rule that homework is finished before play time or television or phone time. Be strict and stick to it.

Encourage reading outside of school. Reading is a solid foundation for education. Studies and test results show that students who excel in reading often excel in other areas. Help find books that interest your child. Read aloud to younger children. Even older children may enjoy a family reading period. Choose a classic and read aloud a chapter each evening. The entire family will enjoy the story and an appreciation for classic literature will be born.

Turn off the television more often and spend family time. Play board games, clean house together, take a walk, visit a park, play with the dog, or cook together.

Have hot meals together each evening as a family. Sit down to supper each night together and give all family members a chance to discuss events of the day. Clean up together too!

Encourage relationships with extended family members. Strong families are multi-generational. Encourage the kids to be close with grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins.

Be good citizens and encourage good citizenship. Set a good example. Be a good neighbor. Rake the elderly neighbor’s leaves. Vote in all elections. Contribute to local causes and participate in worthy fund raising events in the community.

Make learning a lifetime experience for the entire family. On weekends or vacations, visit historical museums. Explore woodlands or visit a nearby lake. Try fishing or hiking. Read biographies of historical figures. Choose a documentary over a sit-com for family television time. Learn to play chess or how to knit.

Discipline children when necessary but explain why an action was improper. Demonstrate love at all times and encourage affectionate acts like hugging.

Create rituals. A good-night kiss at bedtime or a hand-clasping pact before a child boards the bus will bond families together and make lasting memories.

Celebrate holidays. Make decorating for Christmas a family affair. Have children help polish the mennorah and clean the house for Hannukah. Plant a tree on Arbor Day. Decorate the lawn for Halloween.

Be active together. Ride bikes. Rake leaves. Plant a garden. Encourage physical fitness and make it part of the family identity.

By working together with your child, you can maximize their educational experience and enrich family life!


“Marley and Me” – Beloved Dog Exhumed and Reburied

When John Grogan took the misadventures of his “bad dog” Marley and turned it into an international bestseller entitled Marley and Me, his life changed forever. The success of the book and resultant movie allowed Grogan to quit his newspaper job and to pursue a book-writing career. Marley and Me has been followed by The Long Trip Home, the story of Grogan’s childhood. He has also written a series of children’s books based on the white lab, that are destined to become children’s classics. Marley Steals the Show, A Very Marley Christmas, Marley Goes to School, Bad Dog, Marley and Marley, A Dog Like No Other, will keep Marley in children’s hearts forever.

A career move brought Grogan to rural Pennsylvania, and when Marley died in 2003, Grogan buried him on his property. When Grogan and his wife finally fulfilled their dream of owning an old Pennsylvania stone farmhouse, they knew there was something they had to do. In an article in the January 3, 2010, issue of Parade Magazine, entitled Bringing Marley Home, Grogan writes of exhuming Marley and reburying him on their new property because they just couldn’t bear to leave him behind.

Years ago, when my husband’s beloved Irish Setter Shane died, he buried him on their old hunting grounds, “somewhere in Pennsylvania,” in the hopes his spirit would forever roam where he was happiest. Likewise, when my parents’ collie-terrier Dutchess died, they buried her on the property of their former vacation home at Lake Wallenpaupak where she enjoyed so much of her life. When my two cats Buster and Rainbow died in the early 90s, both at age 18, I couldn’t bear to just leave them at the vet. I’d had them so long! If they’d been kids, they’d have been graduating high school! We brought them home and buried them in the backyard.

staring-white-dogToday, Shane and Dutchess still remain in the their original burial spots, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t consider doing what John Grogan has done. However gross this might sound to some people, I totally understand. When we bought our new home, my husband considered exhuming Shane and burying him there. Instead, he went back and dug up a nearby baby white pine and a baby spruce fir, and planted them at our new home. Both trees are now almost as high as the house, and every time we look at them, we think of Shane.

When my parents sold their vacation home, the big question was, do we leave Dutchess here? It’s hard to think of her spirit wandering around aimlessly listening for the sounds of the family she loved that are no longer around. But to this day, Dutchess remains at Lake Wallenpaupak. We always ride by the house when we’re in the area, and shout out a greeting to Dutchess (just before we mumble an expletive at the guy across the road who ruined the area by erecting a large commercial building, and then decided to move). I don’t think there will be much of Buster and Rainbow to exhume if we ever move, and I’d have to leave them, but it will break my heart.

So when I read Grogan’s article, I was not grossed out, I totally empathized with him. After all, he wouldn’t even have that nice new dream house if it weren’t for Marley! In fact, his articles and his works made me partly decide to get a dog to take care of.

As I have been enjoying life with Limber-butt beside me for a number of years now, I can’t help but wonder which part of the house I should bury him. I get emotional everytime this reality strikes. All I can do now is to make more fun memories with my precious pal. Perhaps we can still see and take care of one another in the other life, if ever it does exist.

Sources: John Grogan’s Website; Bringing Marley Home, Parade Magazine, 1/03/10
More animal stories by this author: My Beloved MacBeth; Please Curb Your Dog Obsession

My Story,

A Happy Mom of Three

My love for dogs brought me to where I am now. A much more responsible mom of two. There’s so much unconditional love around the house we live in. Tougher times come in but they don’t stay longer. It’s an answer to stress management when a dog like Limber-butt loves you so much. Read more about us here.

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