The week's best parenting advice: July 26, 2022
Keep calm while your toddler tantrums on, the key to a smooth kindergarten transition, and more
Keep calm while your toddler tantrums on
Everyone know the best way to handle a toddler tantrum is to stay calm, but that's much easier said than done, writes Laura Wheatman Hill in Lifehacker. One way to prevent "emotional flooding" from throwing you off while your toddler screams is to do a "reset." Close your eyes and take some slow, deep breaths, which can help regulate your nervous system. "Belly breathing" or other nervous system "hacks" can help, too. If the tantrum is occurring in public and you are feeling embarrassed, remind yourself that your child's emotions are normal and do not reflect your capacities as a parent, even if they make other people uncomfortable. Remember that by keeping your cool, you are modeling the kind of behavior you'd like your child to emulate. And if you screw up and yell, don't worry. Just apologize — it's important to model that, too.
The key to a smooth kindergarten transition
Starting kindergarten is a major milestone in the life of a child. One way to ensure that it goes smoothly is to make sure they're getting plenty of sleep, according to a new study. A team of researchers at Penn State observed 220 children's sleep habits for four, week-long periods during their kindergarten year and found that those who slept at least 10 hours during the night on a regular basis not only had an easier time adjusting to school, but also demonstrated more success in emotional development, learning engagement, and academic performance across the kindergarten year. "Good sleep hygiene appears to be just as beneficial for young children as it is for adults," said Doug Teti, the study's lead author. "Establishing habits that lead to a good night's sleep before the kindergarten year begins seems to give kids a leg up when making that transition to formal schooling."
All work and no (risky) play makes Jack a sad boy
A new study suggests that adventurous or risky play may help prevent mental health issues in young children, writes Juli Fraga in Parents. Child-led play that induces feelings of excitement, thrill, and fear "helps kids dial down anxiety, weather uncertainty, and adopt a more positive outlook on life," Fraga writes. The study adds to existing research showing that risky play helps kids confront their worries. Parents can encourage risky play by asking their children open-ended questions, or letting their kids play in nature rather than in gated playgrounds. "When structure is taken away, curiosity serves as the guide," says child psychologist Nathan Greene.
Keeping kids safe in the heat
As temperatures climb into and past the 90s, it's important for parents to take some precautions before letting children outside, writes Erin Chan Ding in The Washington Post. Young kids are especially vulnerable to heat because they tend to run at higher temperatures than adults, and have a higher ratio of body surface area to mass to keep cool. They also don't sweat much, because their sweat glands are still maturing. Parents should prepare for trips out into the heat by bringing plenty of water, salty snacks to replenish sweat loss, and a sports drink with electrolytes if the child will be running around a lot. Make sure active children take "frequent and intentional breaks" and have access to air conditioning or shade to cool off occasionally. And be on the lookout for signs of heat-related illness, such as hot and flushed skin, decreased interaction, crankiness, dizziness, swelling, cramping, nausea, fainting, or weakness.
Unswaddled babies nurse best
It may be tempting to keep your baby swaddled while nursing them at night, but it's not a great idea, writes Sarah Jaffe in Romper. Nursing is a full-body experience for babies. "A baby's arms can grasp the breast and help control the angle and promote letdown from the breast," explains pediatrician Dr. Alexander Hamling. Plus, the primary reason parents use swaddles — to help their babies stay asleep — isn't great for nursing. "A half-awake baby who sleepily snacks all night is cute, but a baby who focuses on getting a really solid feeding and then focuses on sleeping will probably result in better sleep for both of you," writes Jaffe.