Rocky Mountain News
By Beth Pfalmer, Special to the Rocky
Answer: Never do for a child what he can do for himself, even if it’s awkwardly done. Anytime your child shows an interest in copying what you do as you take care of him, encourage it. Self-confidence is built on accomplishments. Always praise effort without demanding perfection.
It’s tempting to do things for a child because it’s faster, less messy and looks “right,” but it gives your child the message that he isn’t capable. Build on your child’s interest in learning, even when it’s inconvenient. Avoid harsh criticism of missteps. Be tactful!
Babies will hold a spoon and try to eat. Toddlers take off clothes before learning to put them on. Preschoolers will help make the bed and put away toys with you.
To encourage a preschooler to dress himself, fold complete outfits into bundles. Let your child choose an outfit. Choose slip-on and pull-up clothing. Shoes with Velcro closers work well. Securely attach a low-hanging mirror in the bedroom to facilitate dressing and hair combing.
Teach school-age kids simple cooking and other chores. Involve teens in household management. Regardless of your child’s age, always start new tasks together.
Q: Just when my 9-month-old settles into a schedule, it changes. Now he’s waking around 3 a.m. and staying wide awake for an hour or so. Help!
A: Child development progresses along a fairly predictable continuum. Progress is rapid, which means lots of changes.
Your baby is transitioning in his sleep skills. He is probably sleeping more soundly but hasn’t mastered returning to sleep after waking during the night.
When he wakes up, keep stimulation to a bare minimum. Smile but don’t talk. Try patting rather than picking him up. Offer a drink of water if he just won’t be quiet. Sit quietly with him. When he gets drowsy, hum a soft lullaby.
Be patient. This too shall pass.
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