Parenting advice

The week's best parenting advice: May 25, 2021

NYC's "normal" school year, a 10-minute trick for tantrums, and more

1

Back to school for the nation's largest school system

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this week that the city's schools would not offer remote schooling as an option in the fall. The news marks a big step toward a full reopening in the nation's largest school system and a return to something close to operations as they were before the coronavirus pandemic. "This is going to be crucial for families," de Blasio said at a news conference. "So many parents are relieved, I know." About 600,000 of the city's one million students took classes online this school year. When schools reopen on Sept. 13, all students will attend in-person full-time, and all staff will be present in schools. New York is among the first big school districts to confirm that it won't offer a remote option in the fall.

2

The '10-minute miracle'

Parents of toddlers know that tantrums can come out of nowhere and ruin an entire day. How can mom or dad prevent them? "Toddler brains are still under construction," say Kristin Gallant and Deena Margolin at Big Little Feelings, which specializes in online courses for parents of toddlers. They can't verbalize their needs — which often boil down to attention from a parent — so instead, "they show you through physical displays" like whining, resisting, or even hitting. Gallant and Margolin have what they call a "10-minute miracle" for preempting these attention-seeking behaviors: Dedicate 10 minutes every day to spending "focused, intentional, one-on-one time" with your toddler. No phones or distractions, no siblings or critiquing. Your kid picks the activity, and you play along, no questions asked. Give this time a special name, so it feels exciting. "When they know they can count on it daily, they won't panic as much when it's over," Gallant and Margolin say.

3

How rude!

"I have a 5-year-old (soon to be 6), and I'm struggling with how to deal with what we might call rude communication patterns," one offended parent writes to The Washington Post's Meghan Leahy. When kids this age are rude, the best thing to do, Leahy says, is to avoid reacting in the moment. "Whatever you pay attention to grows," Leahy says. Talking about how the rude behavior makes you feel could actually encourage more of it. Instead, identify triggers. Is your child rude only when they're hungry? Maybe it's time to adjust mealtimes. Are they grumpy when they come home from school? Maybe they're tired and depleted and need some space. "Try to find the middle between total compassion (and doing nothing) and total discipline," Leahy says. "And try to see what happens as you speak to her less and connect with her more."

4

Avoiding the summer slide

As summer approaches, it's time for parents to start thinking about ways to keep their kids engaged in educational learning, even as school lets out, so they can avoid the so-called "summer slide." This is when "some students regress academically during the months off of school," explains Meghan Moravcik Walbert at Lifehacker. One option — which likely won't be very popular with your child — is to enroll them in summer school. Summer school is being expanded this year in many districts to help kids who have fallen behind during the pandemic. But if this option is a no-go for your kid, "one of the best things you can have them focus on is reading," Moravcik Walbert says. Some children might need added incentive to pick up a book in summer months, so Moravcik Walbert recommends checking out the local library's summer reading program, or creating your own.

5

What sibling rivalry really means

Sibling rivalry is a normal but unfortunate part of childhood. It often comes down to what Becky Kennedy, clinical psychologist and mother of three, calls attachment security — a child not feeling seen or secure within the family. "Siblings are competitors to getting what a child feels is safe — a parent's love and connection," Kennedy told Joanna Goddard at Cup of Jo. "As soon as a kid feels insecure in that way, his or her sibling becomes a threat." So when sibling rivalry rears its ugly head, it's a sign that one child (or possibly both!) is feeling insecure and threatened. Parents can help by making sure each child feels loved and appreciated for who they are, and the best way to facilitate this is through quality one-on-one time. "The more a child feels safe and secure in those ways, the less a child looks at a sibling as a competitor and the more they look at the sibling as a playmate," Kennedy says.

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