Parenting in a Nutshell: Small parenting hints have big impact

| Saturday, April 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Just some parenting hints that can have a big impact:

• Expanding vocabulary: Make a booklet out of several sheets of paper folded in half. Paste pictures and words (cut out of magazines, etc.) of everyday items so your child can become familiar with the ones she sees all the time. Continue this concept by making labels to put on appliances, furniture, food packages and more. Practice connecting the words with the real items.

• Diaper rash: While commercial products do a great job, so does vegetable oil. It soothes as well as creates a waterproof barrier and helps foster healing.

• An inexpensive package of sponges do a really good impression of bath toys as well as form an integral part of your family arts and crafts kit. Cut the sponges into various shapes (animals, circles and squares, letters) and float them in the tub or load them with watercolors and stamp designs onto paper.

• Interruptions too frequent? Does your child try to get your attention just about everytime you are engaged doing something else? Depending on age, you can offer a variety of attractions from the iconic wiggling-of-the-car-keys for an infant to asking your older child to write down their needs so you can read it — and respond to it — when you are off the phone. It's also important to let your child know that she is not the only one that receives your attention: so do her siblings, pets, other parent, friends, family — more.

• Swap toys, clothes, shoes with playgroup, church or neighborhood families who have children around your children's ages. Sort all (usable, unbroken, clean) items into categories. The only rule: take only what you will use and then bring it back for another family to use when your child has outgrown it.

• Need help calming a very active toddler? Engage your runaround child with fine motor-skill activities that are generally more calming than the large motor-skills activities (i.e.: running and jumping). Offer your child a puzzle or building blocks, ask her to turn pages of her favorite book as you read together, hand her toys like trucks, trains or cars she can move about on her own. When all else fails, walk her around the block or to a local playground.

• Got a child who loses “everything”? Little reminders can help. For instance, does your child always leave a jacket at school? Teach him to create a connection so he won't forget. Ask him to choose a name for his jacket (how about Jackie?) and remind himself to bring Jackie with him whenever he goes outside or goes home for the day. This same concept can be modified and used for school books, assignments to turn in and more.

• Keep the story alive by spreading glue on coins then add glitter before the “tooth fairy” leaves the coins under your child's pillow, complete with the fairy dust you just created. Still believe in Santa? Sprinkle talcum powder on the rug after the kids are in bed Christmas Eve and stomp around in the powder, leaving Santa's “footprints.”

Tip from the parenting trenches

Want more great tips? Join a playgroup. Playgroups are not just for your children; they also serve the parents need to trade stories and learn from each other. Look for groups by reading local parenting publications or searching online.

Doreen Nagle is author of “But I Don't Feel Too Old to Be a Mommy” (HCI, $12.95). She welcomes your parenting tips and concerns at Follow her on Twitter, @ParentingDoreen.

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