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5 tips for parents of under 5s

09 Nov 2018

5 tips for parents of under 5s
Here are five quick tips for parents of children under five – to make you a more switched-on parent in just a few minutes.

Hand on the spot

If you’re out and about and you need your child to wait by the car while you unload groceries or get a younger sibling out of a car seat, how can you keep them from wandering off or, worse, running into the road? Here’s where “the spot” comes in super-handy: Tell your child to stand by the car and place their hand on a particular spot. It can be the door handle (kerb side), or the petrol cap cover, or another designated safe space, but the key is that they can’t take their hand off of the spot until you tell them it’s safe to do so. You can even get special stickers to put on your car for this purpose. Then make this a regular occurrence every time you are out with your child – get them to put their hand on the spot as soon as they are out of the car and safely off the road, and soon it’ll become a habit.

Coat tricks

Young children may find it challenging to learn to dress themselves, particularly putting on their outerwear. Here are two nifty tricks to help them put on their coats more easily. The first trick is called the Flip Trick. Have your child lay the coat on the
floor with the inside facing up. Get them to stand facing the coat, with their feet at the top (where the collar or hood are). Then, have them bend down and slip their arms into the sleeves. Next, have them flip the coat up over their head as they stand up. The second trick is called the Hood First Trick. If your child's coat has a hood, make sure their coat is unzipped, and have them put the hood on their head. Then, get them to reach one arm back and slip their arm into the armhole. Have them use the sleeved hand to pull the opposite side of the coat towards their front, then have them slip their other arm into the sleeve. Zips and buttons may take more practice, but being able to put their own coat on is a great first step!

Sleeps make sense

Children don’t understand the concept of time, but they do understand “sleeps”. If you’re planning to go somewhere, or there’s an event coming up, tell them how many “sleeps” it is until the date occurs. “We’re going to Grandma’s house in two sleeps” makes more sense to a child than “We’re going to Grandma’s house on Saturday.” Plus, the concept of “sleeps” can help encourage your child to actually go to bed – because they need to sleep in order for the event to happen. (Just don’t start this too far away from the actual event – a month of “sleeps” is a much more difficult concept to grasp than, say, five.)

Greeting guests

When visitors come to your house, do your children barely look up from their tablets or toys to say hello? It’s important to acknowledge guests when they come to your home, whether they’re family members, friends, or just the neighbour popping by to borrow a cup of sugar. To get children to focus on guests and not on themselves, talk to them ahead of time about some tools for being good hosts. Perhaps a star chart for getting your child to remember to say hello to a guest, or ask your children to look and see what colour each guests’ eyes are, and say you’ll quiz them later. This will encourage them to make eye contact with guests, and if your child is shy, it’s a good way to give them something to focus on. Children should also be responsible for making  their home welcoming to visitors, and soon they’ll do it naturally and without prompting.

Table trouble

You’re at a play date with your child, and the other parent has just served tea when your child announces, “I don’t like this food! It looks disgusting!” What’s a parent to do? First, excuse yourself and your child and go into another room for a little chat. Tell your child that she hurt the hostess’s feelings and ask her if there is something else she could say instead. Let her think of a way to improve the situation, even if it’s just apologising for being rude. Reassure her you’ ll make her food when you get home, but for now, she’s a guest and it’s her job to be kind. Then ask her if she’s ready to go back to the table and be polite. Having this conversation away from the “scene of the crime” will help de-escalate the situation and give your child an opportunity to think instead of becoming defensively.