Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care


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Terrible or Terrific… It’s All Perspective

terrible-or-terrific-journeyOnce my son turned two many people commented on the “terrible two” age. They shared how their child was when they were two. Many stories of the many things like coloring walls and tantrums in the mall. Many people have suggestions as well as ideas for discipline. I’ve been reminded about teaching no and wait time as extremely important tools for this age. As I think about all of the stories that people share I examine how most seem negative. After hearing about the turmoil of toddlerhood I begin to wonder what I am going to do with my children. So I did some deeper digging.

One of the first places I usually look to get development information is the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) website. According to NAEYC, “toddlers (16 to 36 months) are working on their identity; they want to know who they are and who’s in charge.” After reading this my suspicions started to become reality. It’s all a matter of perspective. My two-year-old is working on establishing his identity and is experimenting with the boundaries of who is in charge.

The next thing I began to think about is what I can do to help him develop his “self” and practice decision making. Here are some things that we have found and have tried. It’s a journey; it takes time, so be patient.

  • When planning to do anything, try to allow for plenty of transition time to move onto the next thing. This can be hard when you are busy trying to get things done quickly but allow for your journey with your child to go on the road less traveled.
  • Work on your redirection skills, this can help set them up for success. These mini successes build self-esteem.
  • Allow for emotions to run their course. Help them talk through and handle what they are feeling. It’s hard from a child’s perspective when things don’t happen the way that they want. It’s hard for adults as well, but if we can help them learn how to recognize and regulate then we are giving them a huge tool for the future.
  • Finally, let them be in charge. Let them choose things especially things that they can easily handle and control. These are the beginning steps of being independent. When working around the house let them be part of what you are doing. Let them sweep or hold the dust pan. Give them a choice of which they want to do. Let them choose what they will wear for the day.

At the end of the day its all a matter of perspective and when I get down on his level and see things through his eyes, it’s better for both of us.


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Choosing Child Care Through Groupon?

There’s no question about it. We live in an age where people access information and services via technology. Parents are no different. So I commend early child care programs that utilize technology to reach parents where they are. Most promote their services online and use the web to communicate via social media. Since I value thinking outside the box, an ad I saw recently jumped off the screen at me. A child care center was advertising a deal on preschool though Groupon… this I had to see!

The program that chose this modern method of advertising did many things well:

  • Highlighted some of the benefits of quality child care, including activities that enhance early development
  • Offered parents options to meet their financial and scheduling needs
  • Painted a picture of what a child’s day might look like (activities, meals, etc.)
  • Provided an overview of their philosophy and educational programs along with locations
  • Included an “Ask a Question” link with the advertisement

The last item listed was the one I felt best about as a parent. Curious to learn what questions parents had, I clicked on the link and found they didn’t ask the same things I would have. I wondered, at first, why hadn’t anyone asked about touring the program before taking advantage of the deal, or inquired about the quality of the care and education their child would receive while there? Is it that they didn’t care, or is it that they didn’t know to ask? Having been there myself, I’m pretty sure it’s the latter.

When I needed child care for the first time, I was in a major state of transition. I was newly single, returning to the workforce after staying home for three years and broke. Though a teacher for a decade, I knew virtually nothing about child care and was terrified. So much so that I switched careers and became a center director. That way I knew for sure what was going on with my children! My foray into the early childhood field was supposed to be temporary, but six years later, my job is to share my experience in order to help other parents move out of that scary unknown child care place into a place of being educated, equipped and empowered.

If only I’d known back then what I know now! In sharing what I now know, I use this CARE acronym to summarize how parents can get started:

Contact 4C. You’ll learn what to look for in a quality setting, what questions to ask and whether you may be eligible for financial assistance.  4C does not make recommendations, but we do offer free referrals. There are three ways we can help you find child care.

Ask questions. What type of care works best for your family’s needs and schedule? Ask about vacancies, ages served, cost, location, hours and days of operation. And don’t forget to ask the six questions for providers:

  1. What training have caregivers received on how to care for children?
  2. How will my child learn and grow?
  3. What shows it’s a healthy and safe place?
  4. How is family involvement encouraged?
  5. Is this program quality-rated, accredited or working toward it?
  6. How well is the program managed?

Research. Visit and interview two or three places. Spend about one hour at each program while children are there. Observe the program in action.

Evaluate. Ask for and check references. Evaluate each program using 4C checklists. Keep in mind what is best for your child and family’s needs!

The child care advertisement that caught my eye is really no different than a friend referring you to a center. In either case, you should educate yourself on what to look for in a quality setting and then equip yourself with the information to make the best decision. Making these choices isn’t always easy, but it’s always important, so a discount or freebie shouldn’t cause you to lower your standards when weighing your options.

If you follow the suggested tips above, you’ll feel empowered to select the best possible care and education for your child, regardless of its cost.

Now that’s a good deal.

– Tammi


Common Ground

While driving in the car with one of my daughters recently, I realized that she seemed to be in her own little cocoon. Instead of having a two-way conversation with me, the dialogue turned into a Toby Keith moment: I wanna talk about me! This has happened before with each of my daughters. They look in the vanity mirror, talk about their hair, what they are going to buy or which of their friends did this or that. Funny thing is, even though they are teens now, their behaviors reminded me of when they were toddlers. It seems to me when looking at the research, there are a lot of similarities when it comes to toddler and teen development! Would you agree?

  • Easily distracted
  • Enjoy making messes
  • Challenge boundaries
  • Egocentric
  • Push for independence
  • Whining
  • Want your full attention
  • Demanding when own needs aren’t met
  • Can only feel their own discomfort
  • No reason to wait for anything
  • Language all their own

So, what’s a parent to do? The stuff we already know to do that reinforces their social and emotional skills!

  • Show your child you are actively listening (be aware of eye contact, body language, tone of voice)
  • Recognize them as a unique individual
  • Demonstrate respect
  • Model appropriate responses (behavioral and verbal)
  • Talk with them, not at them
  • Allow them opportunity to express themselves
  • Respect their feelings and opinions

Whether a toddler or a teen, it’s so important for parents to teach children how to communicate with respect whether they are talking to mom and dad, a peer or a teacher.

– Debbie