Over the years, what have parents talked to me about? Probably everything and anything you can think of.
As a mom, teacher, and educator, I'm able to bring over 40 years of professional experience to our talks - to help you and your child.
On a confidential basis, I'm ready to answer your questions and give you sensible, practical tips and advice that you can immediately use with your child.
I'm used to talking to mothers and fathers who are very competent in their personal and professional lives but are fairly new to parenting.
I respect parents who want targeted and timely advice to avoid mistakes, maximize their children's potential in the first five years, and help their children grow up well.
The parents I talk to have "lucky children." Their children are truly wanted and loved - and their parents, although quite busy, are motivated to get really good advice. The sooner, the better.
So feel free to tell me about you, your family, and your child. And feel free to ask me about anything. For instance (in alphabetical order) -
The first five years are an amazing time, and your child has tremendous potential to learn so much. While you no doubt know what to expect in your workplace, if you are a first-time parent you need to know what's reasonable to expect in your home. So ask, and I'll give you information and advice - with you and your child in mind.
Age-appropriate Learning Activities
There are hundreds of opportunities each day to provide your child with enjoyable and educational activities - many take only moments or minutes to do, but they add up to happy memories and a great many acquired skills. Let's talk about how to make the most of the time you do have with your young child and how to make sure that the other adults in your child's life also contribute what they can to your child's intelligence, competency, school readiness, and school success.
Books and Children's Literacy
We can talk about how children learn to read. And I'll give you specific, easy-to-do ideas to help your toddler or pre-schooler love reading and be an early reader. Having helped hundreds of young children learn to read, it's my joy to share how to do this with you. This is one of the biggest "gifts" you can give your child - with enormous and wonderful implications for your child's future school success. I encourage you to talk to me about this.
Breastfeeding and Food
You know how important it is to make good choices for your child. But if you're like many parents, you may need some ideas and support. We can talk about your child's eating patterns, your preferences, common pitfalls, and better alternatives. This can include ideas for fast, simple, child-friendly and nutritious meals and snacks. And this can include ideas for handling "picky eaters," children who don't sit still at mealtimes, children who eat while they play, and children who are at risk of developing unhealthy eating patterns.
Bribes and Rewards
Whether you are a working parent tempted to bring your child a "treat" at the end of your work day, or you're toying with the idea of toilet-training your child with "gold stars" or "M&Ms" as a reward, or you are promising your child a special gift if your child behaves a certain way, or you are considering giving your child an allowance in exchange for helping with simple household chores - we should talk.
Every child has his or her own personality, and every child goes through important and necessary stages of development. We can talk about what your child does when he or she is frustrated, tired, bored, or scared - and how you can respond and help your child deal with daily situations to minimize or eliminate whining, shouting, crying, defiance, tantrums, biting, hitting, or other unpleasant or unproductive behaviors.
Child Care and Education
Parents are faced with many choices - choosing a nanny, parent-child program, child care program, nursery school, enrichment activities, and then elementary school. These are major decisions you need to make which will have major consequences. We can talk about the pros and cons given your family's needs and values, your child's age and temperament, and the child care/educational options available to you. And we can talk about how to best evaluate any option you are considering or have selected.
Diapers and Toilet Training
I've personally helped toilet train over a hundred children - and I've given toilet-training tips to many hundreds of parents who didn't know how and when to begin or what to do - and who were thrilled with the advice. Even if you have an infant, it's worth knowing what to do - and what not to do - to lay the groundwork and make it easy when the time is right. So call "early." And if you've already started, but it's not going smoothly, please talk to me for advice that works.
Many parents choose home-schooling for religious reasons. Others for academic reasons. Either way, we can talk about the pros and cons of home-schooling and how to make it work for you and your child.
Your child will learn to talk even if you do almost "nothing." But the more language skills your child has, the easier it will be for your child to understand words, requests, directions, conversations, situations, and concepts. And the more language skills your child has, the easier it will be for your child to cooperate, make friends, explain things to you, get his or her needs met, read, write, and learn. So let's talk about language development and, if appropriate, raising a bilingual child.
Limit-setting and Discipline
No matter what your style of parenting, virtually every parent needs to know how to set simple, understandable, and age-appropriate limits - and to follow though without feeling guilt. Really good parents benefit from talking through situations and getting ideas to try with their children.
Manners and Social Skills
Children are not born knowing how to behave, and good parents gently help their children learn how to behave within their family and with other adults and children. This starts at an early age, and we can talk about reasonable expectations and how to help your child gain important social skills and confidence. We can also talk through any problems your child is having when playing with other children or responding to you.
Naps and Sleep
Children (and parents) are different. And there is no one right way to approach naps and sleep. That said, there are some things that everyone can agree on. We can talk about what routines and reactions contribute to and greatly increase the chance that your child will go to sleep without elaborate and protracted "protests and requests." We can also talk about ways to help your child stay in - and sleep in - his or her own crib or bed, if that's what you want.
Whether you're thinking about having a new baby, expecting, or have just had a new baby, there is so much to talk about. And if the new baby is a second child, there's probably a lot on your mind about how to help your first-born and how to handle everything well. We can talk about this, too.
Starting school is a major milestone in every child's life, and parents can say and do a variety of things to help prepare their child for a successful and happy start. Whether the new school is a nursery school, a child care program, or kindergarten, I can give you specific age-appropriate suggestions for "getting ready." I can also help you problem-solve if your child has started a new school and it hasn't gone as smoothly as you'd like.
Numbers and Math Concepts
Many parents give little thought to math skills beyond teaching their young children to count from 1 to 10. And their children invariably enter kindergarten unprepared and frustrated with this basic subject - rather than feeling confident and competent. We can talk about the many free and simple opportunities that exist each day for you to help your child become familiar (and successful) with numbers and math concepts - while playing with toys, reading books, eating, doing household chores, grocery shopping, you name it.
Sometimes it's a happy mix, and sometimes it's not. If you're considering getting a pet and your child is very young, there are some things to know before you go ahead. If you already have one or more pets, you may want to talk through your child's reactions and behaviors and get ideas for handling problematic situations.
Public vs. Private School
Financially or geographically, you may not have a choice. But if you do, you and your spouse might want to consider what each public school and private school has to offer and then reach some kind of agreement. To make an educated decision, it's important to consider your child, your family's values and priorities, and the very real differences between the school situations you are considering. I can give you specific suggestions from my decades in the education field which have included visiting and evaluating a considerable number of elementary school options (including public schools, private schools, and home-schooling situations). If you're already sure that private school is what you want, let's talk about the admission process (the sooner the better). If, on the other hand, you're leaning toward public school even though you could do a private school, you might want to talk through your reasons and get a "second opinion" to either confirm your thinking or get additional ideas to consider.
Is there such a thing? Yes. But can it be accomplished in "20 minutes a day?" No, just like there's no such thing as "no maintenance gardening." Given the importance of the early years, we can discuss what constitutes quality time so you can make the best use of the time you have with your child and make the best choices for how your child spends time with others.
Real and Pretend
Growing up involves learning more and more about the "real" world. One way that young children master real-world behaviors and concepts (and gain mastery over their very real feelings) is to practice and, sometimes, to pretend. Whether it's dress-up, dolls, superheroes, imaginary friends, or monsters under the bed; many children need encouragement, understanding, and timely help to distinguish real from pretend (and safe from scary) - before Halloween arrives and throughout their early years.
Routines and Rituals
Every day brings challenges and includes the unexpected - a phone call when you're sitting down to dinner, a sick child when you need to go to work, or a child's "lost" shoe when you're about to leave the house. It's hard or even impossible for parents with young children to keep to an exact schedule, and that's completely understandable. That said, establishing (and maintaining as much as possible) daily routines and rituals will greatly help you and your child. We can talk about age-appropriate routines and rituals (for mornings, meals, play-times, toy clean-up times, nap times, bed times, etc.) to give your child a sense of security, encourage cooperation, and save you time and trouble.
Safety at Home
Many (preventable) accidents happen at home - some serious, some not. And even if the accidents aren't serious, everyone still feels terrible when they happen. We can talk about the range of essential "environmental" changes you can make in your home and the degree and type of supervision needed for different ages and situations. We can also talk about how you can teach your child to be relaxed but safety-conscious (with toys, stairs, furniture, food, and in the kitchen, bathroom, etc.). My suggestions will help your child be safer at home and make your life easier as well.
Whether it's when your child is walking on sidewalks, crossing streets, in a playground, in a store, near a swimming pool, or in a garden; I can give you suggestions for increasing your child's safety and decreasing preventable accidents.
Selecting Quality Children's Books
There are an extraordinary number of books available for each age group. But all books are not created equal; some are really poor choices. With thousands of children's books published each year and limited time each day to read, how do you choose? Please let me make specific suggestions. I will give you more than a list of titles. I will tell you what to look for and what to avoid. This will maximize the quality of the time you spend reading with your child and provide a far more enjoyable and educational experience - with lasting results.
Selecting Quality Toys and Educational Materials
Toys cost. Toys clutter. And, too often, a child quickly loses interest in toys that parents bought with the best of intentions. With thousands of toys on the market (including toys of questionable safety, value, and values), you need to make wise choices. I can make suggestions for the types of toys and educational materials which provide not only enjoyable playtimes but real opportunities for learning and for on-going, multi-year interest and use.
While young children are clearly dependent on adults for a great many things, they are also quite capable of helping you, helping themselves, and acquiring many important skills in the process. Let's talk about what toddlers, twos, threes, and fours can do each day to help out, become competent, and feel proud of themselves. You can give your child important skills and self-confidence (and do yourself a big favor, too!).
Separation and Attachment
This is a subject close to my heart. I've personally helped hundreds of parents and hundreds of very young children handle time apart, including saying goodbyes without parents "sneaking away" or children clinging or crying. In my experience, talking about your feelings in advance and making a plan before the event happens can be a great help. And getting specific, age-appropriate ideas for things to do and things to not do is very useful.
Parents are increasingly letting their young children watch all kinds of television programs, commercials, and movies as well as letting their young children play video games and use all sorts of computer software. We can talk about the implications of all these media choices and the pros and cons for different ages and children. And we can talk about what patterns and expectations are being reinforced, what your child is learning, and what your child is not learning.
Almost every parent asks this or wants to ask this. I've got a lot of experience with young children, and our telephone sessions are completely confidential. So feel free to describe your child's behavior or skill level or situation - and ask me what I have seen and what I think. Chances are that I can give you reassurance and useful information about whatever is causing you concern.
Writing and Artwork
Research shows that there is a direct link between children who read well and children who write well - and that children's early artwork and early "writing" skills contribute in important ways to school readiness and school success. Please let me share some easy, proven ways to support your child's creative development, language skills, and emerging writing abilities.
Whatever Else You Want
I've listed a lot of topics - from A to (almost) Z. If there's another parenting topic that interests you, please mention it to me and we can talk about it.
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