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Nanny 911Expert Advice for All Your Parenting Emergencies
By Deborah Carroll
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Deborah Carroll
All right reserved.
Be consistent No means no. Yes means yes.
Actions have consequences Good behavior is rewarded. Bad behavior comes with penalties.
Say what you mean and mean it Think before you speak -- or you'll pay the price.
Parents work together as a team If you can't be on the same page, your children are not going to know who to listen to -- and they'll end up not listening to anyone.
Don't make promises you can't keep If you tell the kids you're going to Disneyland, better get ready to pack your bag.
Listen to your children Acknowledge their feelings. Say "I understand" and "I am listening" -- then take the time to understand and take the time to listen.
Establish a routine Routines make children feel safe and give structure to their time.
Respect is a two -- way street If you don't respect your children, they are not going to respect you.
Positive reinforcement works much better than negative reinforcement Praise, pleasure, and pride accomplish far more than nagging, negatives, and nay -- saying.
Manners are universal Good behavior goes everywhere.
Define your roles as parents It is not your job to keep your children attached to you. It's your job to prepare them for the outside world -- and let them be who they are.
Bedtime should be one of the nicest parts of the day, a gentle winding down after a hot bath, with books to read, drooping eyes, and lots of good -- night kisses. Spending time curled up with your children in a cozy chair by the bed is one of the loveliest ways to enjoy your children.
On Nanny 911, however, bedtime is usually screaming time with kids wound -- up from watching a loud and violent show on TV, until we cut down on the chaos and establish a bedtime routine.
Our bedtime routine for babies is the five B's: bath, book, bottle/breast, brush gums/teeth, and bed. This should be modified for toddlers and older kids to the four B's: bath, brush teeth, book, and bed.
After book, it's nice to give a short back rub or extra cuddle. We like to tuck our charges in, then sit in the dark and talk about our day, all the fun things we did, what we ate -- it's not so much the content of the talk, but that it becomes something to look forward to. This is one of the most rewarding ways we know to instill trust and love in children, who know they can talk to their parents about everything (and often find it easier to do so under the cover of darkness). It's also a good way to learn about what makes your children tick, and improve their memories.
Children need lots of sleep, and they need to wind down properly so they can drift right off. This means sorting out a routine, with fixed times, and no exceptions during the school week. Sit down with a pad and a pen, and make a reverse timetable. Start with the ideal time for your child to fall asleep, and work backward. If Janette should be asleep at 8:30 p.m., how much time should you allocate to book, then brushing teeth, then bath? The last hour noted in your reverse timetable should be when bath time begins.
Helping your child wind down also means no TV/videos for at least an hour before lights out. It's way too stimulating. (See the TV section on p. 263.) And TVs should never be placed in a child's bedroom, as the children become addicted to falling asleep to the noise from the TV shows. Worse, as seen on Nanny 911, kids can wake up at two in the morning to watch an R -- rated movie, and mom and dad never knew. Until Nanny Deb made sure dad took those TVs out, there was too much screaming and shoes thrown at her head by the enraged kids.
We also believe that children should stay in bed even if they aren't ready for sleep. You can't force children to fall asleep, but you can insist that bedtime is about being in bed. The routine stays the same, but they can be allowed to read a book or just relax and feel comfortable in their rooms.
Bedtime routines give children much -- needed security. They can follow similar routines during trips, or on sleepovers, and still feel safe. And they also make life calmer and more relaxed for parents, who know that bedtime means good night.
Bedtime: Sleep Environment
One of the first mistakes parents make when they bring their newborns home is to place them in cribs filled with all sorts of stuff. Dad hangs the motorized mobile over the crib and wonders why little Patrick won't go to sleep. Mom turns on the light -- up crib aquarium, forgets that the batteries need to be replaced, and panics when little Nicole starts screaming as soon as the fishies stop bobbing around in the bubbles.
Mom and dad -- cribs don't have to have bumpers. They never need any pillows or soft toys that are potential suffocation hazards. The only thing an older baby needs in a crib is a baby -- suitable cloth book. When the babies are old enough, place some cloth books on the side of their bed. This will give them all the amusement they need if they wake up early.
If you give your children crutches to help them sleep, they will soon become dependent if not addicted. Trust us -- you don't need sound soothers with rainforest noises. You don't need blackout shades for pitch -- dark bedrooms. You don't need music, other than a song or two that are good -- night lullabies; after you say good -- night, children shouldn't need to continuously listen to music to fall asleep.
For children who need noise to fall asleep, slowly wean them off it. Gradually turn the volume down till it's gone completely. This may take weeks if not months, but once it's done, the children will be freed of the need for a nightly sleep aid.
Excerpted from Nanny 911 by Deborah Carroll Copyright © 2005 by Deborah Carroll. Excerpted by permission.
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