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Archive for October, 2010

How to handle an energetic toddler

Friday, October 22nd, 2010 by:

Do you have a child who wakes up saying “no” and goes to bed saying “no” and says  “no” all day in between? I affectionately call these little ones “gladiators.” Gladiator kids are feisty and full of energy. They tend to be smart, inquisitive–and strong willed.

Gladiator kids can fill up a room with their personalities, but often have trouble settling and knowing when enough is enough. They’re amazing kids, but have to learn to control all the big feelings they have inside. Here’s how to avoid doing battle with your little gladiator.

Stay Neutral: getting angry and upset only fuels the fire, adding to the emotional mix (you won’t be able to do this all the time, but try–it really helps!)

Frontload: in each new situation, help your child understand what you expect and how you can help him make the right choices. Let him know what the consequences (natural) if possible will be ahead if time for negative behaviour.

Adrenaline Play: these kids have energy and running around outside is not enough. They will often tantrum or bug to release energy. Try wrestling and chasing games, or games like hide and seek to get their energy out in a positive way.

Name the Behaviour: give their behaviour a name, like the silly bug or the “no” monster. It can really help so that you can work on the behaviour together.

Be Consistent: Be loving, but firm and consistent. Don’t threaten with consequences you know you won’t follow through on. It is better to pick smaller consequences and stick to them then bigger ones that you take back or forget about.

Praise Them: catch them being good–it’s so important to let your child know you see the positive behaviours too. Children listen to the things we say to them and form a sense of themselves based on what we feed back to them.

Connect Through Play: different from adrenaline play, this should be a wonderful cuddle time where you really make them feel delicious and loved.

Use Empathy: I describe how to use it effectively with the CALM technique in my book. It really works to defuse tantrums, helps them understand their own feelings and increases compliance.

Jennifer Kolari is a child and parent therapist, and founder of Connected Parenting. For more information you can contact jennifer at or visit

Breastfeeding Leave for Dads

Friday, October 22nd, 2010 by:

I’m all for equal rights, but is granting fathers’ breastfeeding leave taking things a little too far?

Spanish fathers are now granted the same rights as their female partners when it comes to breastfeeding leave. (In Spain, parents can take an hour off in the middle of the work day or leave work a half-hour early during the first nine months of their child’s life.)

The European Union Court of Luxembourg said it recognized the importance of family bonding during these “feeding” breaks and ruled that father’s not be excluded. Men are even able to take the leave if their wife is at home full-time with the baby.

And things are about to get even better for new families in Spain.

As of January 2011, the Spanish government is extending its paternity leave from 13 days to four weeks. How great would it be to have two parents at home for a full month after giving birth?

Why Kids Picture Books Aren’t Selling

Friday, October 8th, 2010 by:

I was so sad to read today’s article in The New York Times on“Picture Books Are No Longer A Staple For Children.” In recent years, publishers have seen a 20 percent decline in the sale of picture books for children. Possibilities for the decline include a poor economy and parents pushing children as young as four to read picture books.

Personally, our house if full of picture books. We have so many we had to buy a new bookshelf for my 3.5-year-old to keep everything in order. So I have a few problems with the theory.

1. Picture books should start soon after birth. Even if children are moving to chapter books earlier than ever what about the first five years of life?

2. Why can’t younger children enjoy picture books and chapter books. Pictures books play a great role in imagination and also in making reading fun. Ironically, the same parents who bragged about their 4, 5 or 6 year old reading chapter books also said their children didn’t enjoy reading.

3. I think the real reason for the decline is TV is easier than books. Parents need to start early to instill a love of reading.

Bring back picture books!

What to do about whining

Monday, October 4th, 2010 by:

Few things are more irritating to a parent’s ear than whining or “nose talking” as we call it in our family. It is very difficult to deal with and can really push buttons for us as parents.

Whining is a behavior and behavior is a communication, in general children tend to communicate with their behavior, not their words. They don’t come home from school and say, “Well Mom, it all started in the sandbox when Sarah took my shovel…” They come home and whine or fall apart when something doesn’t go their way.

Children also tend to build up emotions and then let them out in different ways. Unfortunately, whining is one of them. Whining can mean that kids are uncomfortable, not feeling listened, to or are feeling uneasy, but it can also mean that they have figured out that this behavior gets results.

How to stop the whining
First make sure that you are listening to your child, they may have been trying to tell you things in a more appropriate way and you were missing it or not really listening, so they have escalated to whining to get your attention. The CALM listening technique in my book usually stops whining in it tracks, (which is basically listening to the message first and reflecting it back).

Never give your child what she asks for if she uses that whiney voice, or you will be reinforcing the behavior. Behaviors don’t stick around if they are not rewarded. Ask your child to repeat their message without whining. Use positives when she does say things differently and be patient, getting angry rarely helps and often makes things worse. It won’t get better overnight, but you should see steady improvement as she learns other strategies.

You can also try calling the whining something else, like “the complaining bug” that can sometimes help you to work on a problem together.

Give her lots of attention throughout the day, lots of tickling, cuddling and “baby play” – wonderful moments where she just feels delicious. This alone can often reduce whining and other negative behaviors.

Jennifer Kolari is a child and parent therapist, and founder of Connected Parenting. For more information you can contact jennifer at or visit