Looking for Trustworthy Information?

The staff at Harley Family Center understands that the fountains of information that flow from the internet can be both helpful and overwhelming.  There is advice to follow from every sort of expert. Some of the information we are comfortable bringing into our family routine, and some of the information is simply not a good fit for us.

The question, of course, is how to wade through that advice and decide what is the most trustworthy and what fits best for you. ECFE classes are a great option for discussing different topics and getting research based information as well as parent support for the decisions we make. When you are interested in looking further into a topic, the staff always has helpful links to share.

One of the trusted resources we share with families, which is supported by the Minnesota Department of Education, is Minnesota Parents Know. This web site provides information for families with children who are newborn all the way through seniors in high school! It is a one-stop-shop for all things parenting.  It provides access to concise information on a specific topic, archived and live webinars covering the issues most important to you and your child during different time periods, and podcasts from the dynamic duo who produce “Mom Enough”–a mother / daughter team who also happen to be a developmental psychologist and a maternal health specialist!

All this at the touch of a computer keyboard, always available when you need it.  Explore what this web site has to offer, and feel confident that the information is trustworthy.

Six Steps to Toddler Success

One of the greatest benefits of the Early Childhood Family Education program in the Hopkins School District is the acknowledgement from others that you aren’t alone in dealing with the parenting issues that arise. The parents in ECFE produce great brainstorms and ideas when they put their heads together to find solutions to parenting conundrums.

Lately, one of the top discussions we have been having in our classes is how to best meet the needs of the toddlers in our families. We have an understanding and compassion for what it is like to be a two- year-old.  We understand that developmentally much of what they do that drives us crazy is also very typical behavior and in many ways necessary behavior if they are to grow, learn and develop into competent teenagers (who will likely also drive us crazy…) 

Toddler goals and adult goals are very often wildly different. In fact, a toddler’s entire approach to life is wildly different than an adult’s approach to life! We as parents need to set up practices that allow for our child’s success at this stage in life, while also ensuring his long term success by shaping behavior slowly into something that will better suit him as he gets older. No small feat!

When the parents (and we have been lucky to also welcome grandparents into our classroom as well!) in our ECFE class looked at this monumental task, we decided to focus on just a few things we could do that would ensure a child’s success during these years. We spent some time deciding what were the most important steps we could take right now. The group came up with a great list of concrete and applicable practices that they could fit into their parenting immediately.  

We wanted to share the list with you, so that you too could benefit from their hard work and supportive brainstorming:

Lower your expectations for what you can do in your day. Give yourself a break as a parent. No one is getting everything done–they are prioritizing their schedules. Be the parent that prioritizes the health and success of your child–let that last errand go if your child is getting tired, or take the time to read one more story at bedtime rather than finish up the last of the laundry.

Label your child’s feelings and your own feelings. Starting early to label your child’s feelings (angry, frustrated, happy, calm) helps them to learn to associate the feelings in their body with the word that goes with it. This is the first step in being able to deal with feelings through words, rather than tantrums or outbursts. By modeling for your child the labeling of your own feelings, you are showing him how to respond appropriately to the situations that arise in life. For example: “Mommy is really frustrated the toys are all over the floor. Let’s solve the problem by picking them up together.” 

Avoid rushing as much as you can. Toddlers are natural dawdlers. It is in their nature to be easily distracted by every detail. Set yourself up for success by streamlining your environment for efficiency, and by preparing in advance in order to have that wiggle time so you don’t feel rushed.  Waking up 15-30 minutes early in the morning, or setting clothes or lunches out the evening before, or canceling one activity so that you have more time in the day are all strategies that can help you feel more in control of your own time, and therefore more focused on helping your child complete the few activities he needs to get done in his own time.

Use concrete examples for time. Moving from one thing to another for most toddlers is really difficult. Ease their transition between activities by using real life examples of how time is going to pass before you have to leave an activity or shift to something new. This helps him to see what is going to happen, and helps you to focus on following through on the transition once it is time. For example: “After I push you three more times on the swing we are going to go to the car and go home.”

Be strong and be consistent. Toddlers may give the impression that they are unhappy when we follow through with a limit. Whether they see it or not, they need to understand at a very basic level that what we say is true. If we say that on the third push of the swing we are going home, the toddler needs to see that follow through. He won’t necessarily be happy that he is leaving the park (saying goodbye to fun things is hard for all of us) but he does need to know that his caregivers are strong enough to follow through on what they say. This means that he can trust them in all aspects of his life.

If this list is intriguing, and you are interested in learning more and sharing more with parents who are putting their heads together for the success of their children, we invite you to explore an ECFE class yourself! Follow the Early Childhood Education link. or call our office at 952-988-5000.