Parenting advice

The week's best parenting advice: March 2, 2021

The return of the common cold, a tip for taming tantrums, and more


The common cold comes roaring back

Parents, get ready for a burst of the common cold. In a recently published study, researchers in Hong Kong analyzed a surge in rhinovirus infections — one of the most frequent causes of the common cold — among students when they returned to classrooms in the fall after months of schools being shuttered. Ben Cowling, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong and senior author of the study, told Stat News he expects other places will experience a similar pattern as schools reopen. The theory is that "susceptibility" to rhinoviruses may have increased because people were less exposed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequently had fewer chances to build up immunity. While the common cold is a far less serious health threat than COVID-19, the Hong Kong researchers did note that the outbreaks in the city included more severe rhinovirus infections than normally seen, with some children needing hospital care.


How to tame 'transition' tantrums

Toddler tantrums often seem inexplicable and unpredictable. But according to Meghan Moravcik Walbert at Lifehacker, transitions — "where one thing ends so another can begin" — are a very common trigger. "Toddlers' brains do not like to be surprised; the world feels unsafe when they don't know what's going to happen next," she adds. Big Little Feelings, which specializes in online courses for parents of toddlers, suggests deploying the "PREP" method: Plan, reveal, explain, put. Plan a transition in advance so no one feels stressed or rushed. Reveal the plan to your kiddo so they know what's coming. Explain, in step-by-step detail, what to expect. Put your child in charge of something small, even if it's what snack to bring or shoes to wear. "All humans want to feel powerful and valued—even tiny ones," says Big Little Feelings.


The benefits of roughhousing

"Roughhousing" may leave your house looking like a pigsty, but it's actually really good for kids' emotional and social intelligence, explains Anthony T. DeBenedet, M.D., the author of The Art of Roughhousing: Good Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It. He tells Mother Mag that parents can and should engage in physical rough-and-tumble play with their children in a "give-and-take" manner: "The stronger person self-handicaps in order to allow the play to be fluid and improvisational. … Adults or the stronger kid holds back their full strength, and kids see that and get it. They see that that's how it works and that makes it fun. Those are the seeds of social intelligence." To prevent things from getting out of hand, parents should watch for eye contact, DeBenedet says. "When you see your kid starting to get out of control, you're going to lose eye contact. That's what happens in the animal world, too, it turns into rage." At that point it's time to slow things down and reconnect.


Start a family book club

Reading has lots of proven benefits for young children, "not only academic, but social and emotional, too," write Abby Freireich and Brian Platzer at The Atlantic's Homeroom. But not all kids have an inherent love of reading. How can parents encourage this habit? Try starting a book club with your child, Freireich and Platzer suggest. The time you spend reading together "offers a chance for you to hang out, bond, and let [your child] share the joy you find in books." It also makes the process more fun. To improve their reading skills, look for books that include several words on each page that might be new or unfamiliar. "Beginner readers won't be able to improve with books that are too easy for them," Freireich and Platzer say. And read aloud to your child while pointing to the lines on the page so they can "connect the printed word with the spoken word."


Overcoming parent guilt

Parent guilt got you down? Welcome to the club. "Daily life in a pandemic has given us a host of new reasons to feel guilty," writes Emily Edlynn at The Washington Post. She spoke with a handful of experts about how to alleviate your conscience when your parenting skills miss the mark. Along with practicing mindfulness and prioritizing self-care, Edlynn recommends you stop focusing on the negative and "consider your successes" instead. "What do you feel proud of? What can your children do now they couldn't do a year ago? Redefine success for you and your children during a global pandemic … For parents, success can be getting through each day with everyone sheltered, fed, and in bed safely."


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