Category: Education

Guest Post from: Tune In Start Early – A Slower Pace for More Comprehension

By | Education, First Year, Parenting | No Comments

Our lives in this fast-paced world force us to do things fast. We’re always in a rush. However, when it comes to time with your baby, I recommend slowing things down to their pace.

Babies process information at a much slower rate than we do. Watch your baby’s facial expression when you take her to a new place, for example. She may display confusion, surprise or wonder, even nervousness. At home in the living room, she was in was a safe and familiar place for the past two hours. Now that you’ve taken her out of that safe world and brought her to a new place, the abrupt change in environment can take a little time for them to process. Give her that time. Respond to their request to ease them into a new environment & they will give you much less cries & displeasure. The benefits of greater interaction with baby are all waiting for you to expose them. Your only job is to do it as often as possible. Grow new interaction on top of interaction and see the numerous side effects and benefits come about.

New situations can even be hard for us adults to process. When our environment changes, be it a new house or a new job, we can feel the same as our babies do with new environments. Familiar things provide more comfort for us. Your baby is more similar to you than you think. While their feelings may be more on edge than ours & babies may tend to throw a tantrum much quicker than us, still, at the end of the experience, whatever you see your baby feeling is very similar to how we feel. Acknowledge this basic connection you already have with your baby & give your baby what you already know someone needs in those moments. Tune in to them, start early & do it often.

Taking all of this into account with your baby is very simple. Slow things down. Allow your baby to take in the sights of a journey as you travel from one place to another. Talk to your baby about the new things she is experiencing. Tell her what you are doing. Interact with her, focusing on sharing as much information as possible. Babies are listening! It is not silly to describe that you are now picking her up and you are walking up the stairs in order to go get them a change of clothes. It makes complete and total sense and if your not talking to baby your missing out on an opportunity to connect more with the one human being whom you want to connect with the most.

Remember to walk and talk at a pace that allows your baby to absorb what she is seeing and hearing. Even in your house,  up the stairs or from one room to another. Talk to your baby about what your doing and push aside the confusion that naturally comes out of the baby as change occurs. Walking and talking slower during these changing scenes is simple to do. Enacting a slower pace of transition in a changing environment will help your baby absorb more information and your words will act as a helping hand to their little minds that advise them that all is well. Make the crazy world more manageable for your baby and they will respond in kind with making it easier for you to manage them.

For more blog posts from Tune In Start Early please visit: TuneInStartEarly.com

Guest Post from: Tune In Start Early – Babies and our Routines

By | Education, First Year, Parenting | No Comments

Babies have a natural and sensible aversion to systems and processes. Their view of the world right now is the complete opposite of routine. Babies think, “Oh wow, let’s explore everything and deal with each new experience right as it comes.” Notice how we can distract a baby with 5 things at once? Its because they are easily distracted, they have no idea what to focus on and in our crazy world with so much information flying at us from all these different sources, it is no wonder that babies are often confused about their surroundings and the people in them. When babies do get used to something, be it a shiny spoon or a piece of hair on the floor. We adults come in and shatter that experience when we take them away from it and place them into any process or system. Our lives are built on routine. It makes sense that we expect baby to adjust to that routine. How we handle that transition is the only thing we are discussing.

They need to learn to eat a certain way. For instance, they’re either breastfed or fed from a bottle. When they’re older, they get strapped into a high chair. Food arrives at their mouth on a spoon. Its a routine they will need to learn.

They need to adjust to the process of changing diapers, which involves lying down, having their clothes partially or fully removed, getting cleaned up, and receiving a new diaper.

Whatever the process or routine is that we want them to learn, remember that as we start this learning process, we just took them out of that pleasant, fun, completely brand new-world experience they were having, which is essentially being a brand new human being and we stick them into systems and processes, which they don’t expect and obviously don’t like. “Why are you changing my diaper now?” our babies wonder. “I was enjoying the shiny smooth spoon!” “Why am I no longer enjoying whatever it is I was just enjoying? How did I get to this new place? What are you doing & what is happening?” That is the basic thought process we are dealing with as parents.

Our job is to understand what our babies are experiencing. If we do that right, we’ll make the adoption of a new process, system or routine a little easier for our babies to handle. The more we adjust ourselves to a baby’s view of the world, the more benefits we receive in a happier, much less annoyed baby.

Babies just want to play with the food we’re putting in their mouths. Hey, this stuff is cool and weird. Looks strange, I am tasting this thing for the first time, and still, the biggest question, What Is This Thing I am Chewing On?? These will always be the biggest questions on a babies mind. They don’t know that we are expecting them to respond to the system we are placing them in. They don’t know they need to sit quietly, eating and forgetting about all the wonders they are seeing and tasting for the first time.

We want them to adjust to us. We bring that entire system of thought over to baby virtually on day one.
It’s unavoidable; we have to do it. After all, babies must integrate into our processes and begin to learn that they need to follow rules as well.

So, for example, when babies are tired, they are extra fussy. If we ignore this, our whole process of putting baby to bed will be much more difficult than it needs to be. Instead, we need to understand how normal it is for baby to be fussy at bed time. Your little munchkin is tired and doesn’t know what to do with their tired body & droopy mind. Baby has no idea how to relax itself yet and set the stage for a restful sleep. It’s a process they need to learn and we are the ones who will teach it. We know that baby has to learn this bedtime routine. So help the baby with what you know.
That help will only come from us, and they completely rely on us and us only to set the stage for this process to occur more easily.

The main thing to grasp here is that a baby is not used to any process yet. Yes, they have to adjust to it, but we can make that adjustment easier on them. The easier it is on them, the easier our life as parents become. Much less fuss from baby equals a ten times more happier parent. Happier parents feel more normal & there is no better result than feeling even a little bit more normal at the end of the day or in the middle of the night.

That brings us back to an earlier post about moving more slowly from one environment to another with your baby to allow your baby to process what is going on a little bit better. (link)

Start adding up all these small moments of extra breathing room and less insanity with your baby. The more you do this, the better stage you are setting for more relaxed moments with your baby. Everything gets easier when the baby is in a more relaxed state. Help baby get there.

For more blog posts from Tune In Start Early please visit: TuneInStartEarly.com

Guest Post from: Tune In Start Early – Keep Your Cool & Focus

By | Education, First Year, Parenting | No Comments

Sometimes you select the path of least resistance because you learn what it means to adjust to your baby, this little human being who is now controlling so much of your life.

Case in point, I’m about to take my baby to daycare. We are in the bathroom because I’ve just finished shaving. Baby has been playing with whatever our bathroom has to offer, but it’s time to leave. Of course, Baby has just found the tube of makeup from Mommy’s drawer. My instant response is to grab it out of Baby’s hand, but I know she’ll cry & scream and a mini temper tantrum will start that will trickle effect into making the next 5 minutes of leaving the house for daycare that much more unpleasant. What do I do?

I grab something else, the baby’s pacifier. Then I pick up Baby as she is still holding the make-up tube, and start our walk downstairs, sticking Baby’s pacifier in my mouth along the way. Next thing you know, Baby is looking at her pacifier in my mouth and grabbing it with her other hand. At that moment, I take the make-up tube out of her hand. She is now focused on her pacifier.

Simple redirection and Baby is happy with her new thing, the pacifier. I have avoided a little temper tantrum and my walk with Baby down the stairs to daycare is so much easier. Not just the walk down the steps is easier. Forecast forward. Everything that comes after is easier. Putting on her jacket, putting her into the car, everything. Lay the foundation for smoother transitions for baby. You got the smarts to figure this simple thing out. Make life easier for yourself.

Babies’ attention span, as you have already learned, is very pliable. It can last anywhere from 1 to 5 seconds. If you understand this, you can use it to your advantage in your busy life as a parent.

My life is so much easier now because I adopt these techniques at every turn. I make slow transitions from one thing to another, no big, abrupt changes. Redirecting her to something else when she is showing interest in one thing, and Baby’s experience of the world is not negatively interrupted. We are inadvertently and constantly making our lives more difficult by not seeing what easy things we can do to make babies experience more pleasant.

The more I adjust to my baby, the easier life is. My stress, that feeling of “I can’t control the insanity,” subsides, even if only for a brief moment. That brief moment is one less stressful event. Start doing this and adding up the brief moments of avoiding baby temper tantrums and start building that box of new memories. I had an easy time taking baby to daycare today. I had an easy time driving baby today. It was so easy feeding baby today. Those are great words to have to say.

For more blog posts from Tune In Start Early please visit: TuneInStartEarly.com

Guest Post from: Tune In Start Early – Let Baby Finish What She Started

By | Education, First Year, Parenting | No Comments

When they discover an interesting new activity, babies like to go through the repetitive process of doing it over and over. Just like you enjoy being able to do something good & you like to repeat, repeat and repeat it. So does baby, especially when they are doing something for the first time.

For example, my daughter finds a box of tissues. What does she do with it? She starts removing the tissues. One by one, she plucks them out and throws them to the side. That’s the process she is exploring at the moment. She isn’t satisfied with stopping after the first two or three tissues. She wants to work her way through the whole box.

For parents, these kinds of activities can be frustrating. I don’t want my daughter to put the tissues in her mouth or to make the space around her messy. I don’t want her to waste the tissues by scattering them around. It will take me time to scrunch them back into the box. We all think the same thoughts.

Why do babies love these repetitious processes?

These processes are a part of how babies learn about the world. When my daughter grabs and removes tissues over and over again, it’s an interesting experience for her. She’s applying her motor skills in a new way and discovering something about tissue boxes. A box of tissues is fascinating to a baby. “Where are these tissues coming from?” she wonders. “Why are there so many?”

How can parents set a limit?

If we let babies explore things as much as they want, our houses will get turned upside down. How can we place some limits without upsetting them too much?

It’s easier to get my daughter to stop doing something if I’ve given her enough time to explore. For the tissues, I count until there are 15 tissues (for example) on the floor. Then I tell her, “Let’s not do that anymore or Let’s do something else.” I take them away and remove the box as well.

She doesn’t start crying when I take them away. Maybe she gets a little annoyed, but she doesn’t feel upset or scared by me stopping her activity. She experienced enough of it at this point that she doesn’t struggle with a difficult transition away from it. She already got to enjoy the experience of removing a whole bunch of tissues. When I stopped her, it wasn’t a completely new activity anymore. You will get a very different reaction if at the 1st or 2nd tissue pulled, you yank the tissue the box away.

When possible, let babies go through their repetitive processes for a while. Granted, you won’t always be able to do this. There are times when you’ll need to immediately interrupt them, especially if they are intrigued about something dangerous. But don’t put a quick stop to their activity unless you really need to. Use your judgment, and redefine what you’re willing to put up with. I used to think of tissues coming out of the box as a bad thing. Nowadays, I’m more tolerant of it. If I have time, I’ll let it slide and let her keep going through the process of tissue removal.

Babies don’t do any of these things to annoy or disobey you. Although far too often that is what we are thinking. “Baby!!! Why are you doing that!!? “Dont do that!!” Just saying those words out loud implies that your baby is trying to purposely upset you. Far from it. They’re simply learning about the world and enjoying an interesting activity. Let them stay interested.

Look at their hands. Its a challenge to grab a hold of the Kleenex and jerk them out of the box. They are actually trying to master the motor skill movement and action of removing something. Don’t get upset with them. For us, it’s just a minor annoyance. For them, removing tissues is a fascinating personal challenge. They are gaining control over something. They have such little control in this world, if they are gaining some small control, even for a brief moment, your already teaching your child something very positive about the future.

I try to avoid interrupting my daughter too quickly when she’s exploring an interesting activity. I relax the limits that I impose on her. As a result, she’s much less upset when I finally stop her.

For more blog posts from Tune In Start Early please visit: TuneInStartEarly.com

Guest Post from: Tune In Start Early – Describing The World to Baby

By | Education, First Year, Parenting | No Comments

Guest Writer: David Towers from TuneInStartEarly.com

Baby Talk
Of course your baby is a new human being. You know that! However, what you may not realize is that, after making any necessary adjustments for age, you need to give your child the same courtesy and respect you would give your grandmother.

Your not going to be discussing the theory of relativity with your baby. You are however expected to give it the basic form of interaction that baby deserves at any given moment.

The way I started this process of treating my daughter with courtesy was simply by having a little baby talk and narrating what my wife and I see, describing whatever we are doing at any given moment. That was the simple way to start things off.

If I’m holding her in my arms, for example, and we are walking through the kitchen to the fridge, I narrate everything we are seeing and doing. “This is the kitchen, the place where we prepare food,” I say. “I am opening the fridge. This is a milk jug I am grabbing; let’s pour the milk into a glass.” I constantly talk to my child about what we are doing. A non-stop narration, as if a tour guide to my baby. A tourist in a foreign land.

If my baby is watching her mommy pour breastmilk into bags and put them in the freezer, I am explaining that process. My baby is looking at that process already, so I’m just adding informative words. Your already with your child constantly, add in constant interaction.

It’s a way to help your baby feel more connected to you and her surroundings. Babies sense communication on many levels. Maybe the words are not completely understood, but the fact that you’re talking to your baby starts the process of creating a deeper connection and a deeper bond. Their little minds understand that much. It makes them feel calmer when you talk to them. The better they feel, the more relaxed they are as babies. The more relaxed they are, the easier it gets to be for us as parents. Always stick yourself into the babies shoes whenever things get rough. What would it be like if I was seeing this thing called a Vacuum that makes a very loud confusing noise for the first time?

Why not talk to your baby constantly? It’s so easy to do. When you’re walking back home with your baby from the park, talk to them. Describe everything you’re both seeing. Your already experiencing the world with your baby, why not interact with them about it as well. They won’t be talking back to you yet, so this makes it easy for communication to be done in a one-way style.

As you’re describing what you see in the kitchen for example, understand that she is seeing this thing called food for the first time. She is seeing this thing called a fridge for the first time. She has no idea what these items are. Talk to her with her perspective in mind and you will begin to truly interact with your child. The better & more you do this interaction the better the results will be. The more you include your baby into your daily routine the more inclusive baby will feel to their environment. The more this occurs, the easier your time with them will be. Dont make the mistake and treat them like a baby who has little to add to your life except vomit & poop. Ignore that perspective and push it away. Treat them like you would any other human being.

You’re going to be doing everything with your baby anyway, with your baby constantly beside you. Add in more communication when you spend time with your child. Babies are always listening and their little brains are always ready to absorb any new information like sponges. In one way or another, they are constantly learning. You can influence that moment more and help yourself better understand how your baby sees the world by talking to them constantly. The questions you will naturally ask our loud, such as – you probably dont know what this thing called a fridge does & how it works do you? Will help you see the world through their eyes. Its a common sense application of communication.

Isn’t that what being a parent is supposed to be? You are now guiding this little human’s life. Think back to your parents and their impact on you. Now you are starting this process on another human being. Influence their life as much as possible. Start off with constant communication and interact with your baby. They will soon start talking back to you, so that true two-way language communication is coming very soon. In the meantime, prepare for that communication, lay the ground work for how you want them to speak to you. Watch and learn to read your babies non-verbal cues and respond to them by doing more of the above. Your learning as much about her and her world as she is.

Once the baby starts to see that you are responding to them, that you are tuned into them, the baby will increase its communication with you. If its a simple hands in the air requesting some more of the bottle to a simple hand to mouth movement showing you they are hungry. When you respond to them, baby takes notice, baby feels more calm and you have begun the process of interacting with your baby on a slightly deeper level. The more you interact with them, the more they will interact with you & the stronger your mutual understanding of each other will be. We want our children to communicate with us as much as possible. Your simply laying the foundation for this experience to happen more easily in the future. Invest in your future, in the babies, it is far less stressful when you do.

For more blog posts from Tune In Start Early please visit: TuneInStartEarly.com

Guest Post from: Tune In Start Early – Constant Communication, Constant Interaction with Baby

By | Education, First Year, Parenting | No Comments

Guest Writer: David Towers from TuneInStartEarly.com

Blog Introduction:
I fail as a parent each and every day. Whether it is directly with my child & failing to be a better parent to her. Or with what I do in front of my child, or let my child see, like losing my cool & saying bad words out loud so she can hear. I am not perfect.
I try though, to be better, much better. Out of all the failures that happen, overall, the amount of good I do, hopefully makes me feel like I am trying to do my best with my daughter.
It’s super tough being a new parent but I feel this hopeful feeling because as often as possible, I am applying some tools in my life that are making me both a better person & a better parent. Those ‘good times’ is what I want to focus on, mostly.
I learned that we are already spending so much time with our children. Why not find a way to spend that time together more wisely? Since the birth of my daughter, I’ve been thinking of nothing else. How do I maximize our “moments” together? Can I make this parenting job any easier for myself? Is there anything I can do to make it less stressful? The answer is a big & enormous Yes!

Guest Post:
Parenting is stressful enough as it is. Living our fast paced and very busy lives is already difficult. I have become far less stressed about raising my little munchkin human being because of what I am doing different with her. Since I am less stressed, I’m transmitting less of my personal life stress to my baby. The changes are astounding. Parenting itself has become much less stressful for me, and my baby daughter feels that I’m calmer. Our bond strengthens. I feel better. She feels so much better. She cries so little with me now when compared to other people she is with. It feels like we are both (figuratively speaking) crying less with the mutual difficulties we experience in this crazy world.

We have some major magic happening together & my baby daughter and I are interacting with one another. Truly interacting, me and my 1 year old. Parenting life is so much more easier and more enjoyable now.

Here are my suggestions:

Start by creating an environment of constant communication with your baby. My daughter and I interact constantly. What I have added to that time has created some dramatic changes in both daughter and Daddy.

Start bonding with your baby by treating your child like any other human being. Although your baby is obviously a little human being who lacks the ability to communicate verbally right now, you wouldn’t ignore another person who is with you, so don’t ignore your baby. Assume that she can understand or at least “feel” everything you’re talking about. While it is very easy to tune out a little child, looking at your smartphone, putting on your makeup, watching just 10 more minutes of your favorite TV show or attending to any of the thousands of other distractions in your life, don’t tune out your child; tune in to your child & reap the rewards of a completely new form of two way interaction.

When you tune in, you learn more. The more you learn, the better you can help guide baby through life. Even better, the more you understand how your baby sees the world, the more you will adjust the world to your child’s eyes. Moreover, the better this process becomes, the better your child will be able to cope with the world around them and with all of the unexpected things the world offers.

For more blog posts from Tune In Start Early please visit: TuneInStartEarly.com

Parenting That Works!

By | Education, First Year, Parenting, Toddler | No Comments

Leaders in child psychology were asked for their best empirically tested insights for managing children’s behavior. Here’s what they said.

1. Embrace praise

Simply put, giving attention to undesired behaviors increases undesired behaviors, while giving attention to good behaviors increases good behaviors, says a University psychology professor and director of a Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic.
“When it comes to nagging, reprimand and other forms of punishment, the more you do it, the more likely you are not going to get the behavior you want,” say studies. “A better way to get children to clean their room or do their homework, for example, is to model the behavior yourself, encourage it and praise it when you see it.”

But parents shouldn’t offer that praise indiscriminately. Professors recommend parents provide their children with a lot of “labeled praise”—specific feedback that tells the child exactly what he or she did that the parent liked. By giving labeled praise to the child, such as, “I really like how quietly you’re sitting in your chair,” when a child is having trouble calming down. The parent is focusing on what’s relevant to the behavior problem. Several studies back them up: Psychologists found that training preschool teachers to use labeled praise improves the teacher-child relationship and helps teachers better manage behavior in the classroom.

They also recommend reinforcing the praise with a smile or a friendly touch. And feedback should be honest.
“I was at a girls’ softball game recently and I started to get a headache from all the praising going on for poor performance,” he says. “This can often deprive a child of the wonderful learning that comes from failure.”

2. Look the other way

Research also suggests that parents should learn to ignore minor misbehaviors that aren’t dangerous, such as whining about a sibling not sharing or a toddler throwing food on the floor.

In several studies, researchers and their team found that when parents changed their responses to behaviors—for example, they ignored screams but gave a lot of attention to their children when they asked nicely for something—the child learned that asking nicely is the better, more reliable way to get attention

3. Learn about child development

Parents are also more effective when they read up on child development to understand the misbehaviors that are common for each developmental stage. Often, when a child displays a behavior that a parent doesn’t like, such as making a mess while eating, it’s because the child is simply learning a new skill, she says.

“If parents understand that the child isn’t making a mess on purpose, but instead learning how to use their developing motor skills in a new way, they’re more likely to think about praising every step the child takes toward the ultimate goal,” she says. Parents who know what a child is capable of understanding, feeling and doing at different ages and stages of development can be more realistic about what behaviors to expect, leading to less frustration and aggression.

4. Do time-out right

Three decades of research on time-outs show that they work best when they are brief and immediate. “A way to get time-out to work depends on ‘time-in’—that is, what the parents are praising and modeling when the child is not being punished,” researchers say.

Research also suggests that parents need to remain calm when administering time-outs—often a difficult feat in the heat of the misbehavior—and praise compliance once the child completes it. In addition, he says, parents shouldn’t have to restrain a child to get him or her to take a time-out because the point of this disciplinary strategy is to give the child time away from all reinforcement. “If what is happening seems more like a fight in a bar, the parent is reinforcing inappropriate behaviors,”

5. Prevent misbehavior

Some have even stopped advising parents to use time-outs. Instead, they teach parents to plan and structure activities to prevent a child’s challenging behaviors, based on previous research:
• Plan ahead to prevent problems from arising.
• Teach children how to cope effectively with the demands of the situation.
• Find ways to help children stay engaged, busy and active when they might otherwise become bored or disruptive.”We’ve found in our work over the past 20 years that if you do a good job teaching parents planned activities training, there’s no need for time-outs,”

6. Take care of yourself first

Parents receive some of the best parenting advice every time they take off on an airplane, says If the cabin loses pressure and you must put on an oxygen mask, put one on yourself first before you help your child.
“I see households all across America where the oxygen masks have long since dropped and all of the oxygen is going to the children.”
Yet the research makes it clear that children are negatively affected by their parents’ stress. According to APA’s 2010 Stress in America survey, 69 percent of respondents recognized that their personal stress affects their children, and only 14 percent of children said their parents’ stress didn’t bother them. In addition, 25 percent to 47 percent of tweens reported feeling sad, worried or frustrated about their parents’ stress. Another study published last year in found that parents’ stress imprints on children’s genes—and the effects last a very long time.
That’s why modeling good stress management can make a very positive difference in children’s behavior, as well as how they themselves cope with stress, psychologists say.

They recommend that parents make time for exercise, hobbies, maintaining their friendships and connecting with their partners. That may mean committing to spending regular time at the gym or making date night a priority.
“Investing in the relationship with their partner is one of the most giving things a parent can do.” Single parents should establish and nurture meaningful connections in other contexts. A satisfying relationship with a colleague, neighbor, family member or friend can help to replenish one’s energy for parenting challenges.

7. Make time

Too often, the one-on-one time parents offer their children each week is the time that’s left over after life’s obligations, such as housework and bill-paying, have been met.
“We often treat our relationships—which are like orchids—like a cactus, and then when inevitably the orchid wilts or has problems, we tend to think that there’s something wrong with the orchid,” he says.

To combat this issue, they recommend that each parent spend at least one hour a week—all at once or in segments—of one-on-one time with each child, spent doing nothing but paying attention to and expressing positive thoughts and feelings toward him or her.
“It literally works out to about .5 percent of the time in a week,” he says. The most effective time for a parent to create those special moments is when the child is doing something that she or he can be praised for, such as building with Legos or shooting baskets. During that time, parents should avoid teaching, inquiring, sharing alternative perspectives or offering corrections.

Many families who have been recommended this strategy over the years have told us that adding an hour of special time in addition to the quality time they spend with their children—such as attending a baseball game together—has significantly improved the parent-child relationship. In addition, a study published in January shows that, particularly among younger children, a parent’s demonstration of love, shown through nurturing behavior and expressions of support, can improve a child’s brain development and lead to a significantly larger hippocampus, a brain component that plays a key role in cognition.

“The metaphor I use is, what an apple is to the physician—’an apple a day keeps the doctor away’—special time is to the child psychologist.”

6 secrets to raising a smart toddler

6 secrets to raising a smart toddler

By | Education, Toddler | No Comments

An astonishingly huge amount of learning takes place between your child’s birth and their 5th birthday. Your child’s brain is primed for learning new things at a very rapid rate. It’s important to make the most of your child’s first few years by maximizing their learning potential, so that they can grow up to be as smart and happy as possible. Here are some ways to accomplish this.

Constant verbal communication is key.

Most kids learn about one new word per week between 18 months and 2 years of age and can say about 50 to 100 words by age 2. Brain Rules for Baby editor Tracy Cutchlow says that the more you talk to your toddler, the more words she’ll learn.

Possibly the best way to expose your toddler to new words is to “narrate your day”. Whatever you’re doing, talk about it with your toddler while you’re doing it. Your child will learn thousands of vocabulary words this way. Reading fun children’s books is also an excellent way. By combining the two methods, you can maximize your child’s vocabulary.

Do make sure your toddler’s hearing a steady stream of language – butnot from the television. The language on TV is too fast for toddlers to decipher for learning, and it’s not interactive. While toddlers do need to hear people speaking, they also need human interaction to make the most of the experience.
By keeping up a constant conversational flow, using a diverse vocabulary, you’re setting your child up for better reading, writing, and spelling skills down the road.

Don’t forget about emotional intelligence.

Cognitive and social development is very connected to the development of emotional intelligence. By helping your child to understand and deal with emotions, and read emotional cues, your child will gain a huge advantage.

Say your child is playing in the sandbox when another child, unsteady on his feet, bumps into him. “Help your toddler see when things are an accident,” Flom says, “so he doesn’t harbor a grudge and think it’s on purpose.”

By saying, “whoops! that was an accident”, or something similar, you can help your toddler recognize the nature of the incident. If you let your child think that it was done deliberately, he or she is more likely to have poor emotional intelligence and social skills in the future. The same thing goes for positive events. To give another example, if your child’s playdate friend gives them a hug, point out the motivations, nature, and implications of that event. This will help your child to recognize love, which will help them in life.

You can say something like, “See how you shared, see how happy it made her?” By helping your child connect the feeling to the action, you’re building emotional intelligence that will serve your child for a lifetime.

Play it smart.

“Mature dramatic play is a specific kind of play that focuses on impulse control and self-regulation,” says Tracy Cutchlow, editor of Brain Rules for Baby. She suggests two games to try with your toddler that help kids learn and practice impulse control.

Play a simple game of opposites with your child. You can take a set of pictures and show them to your child one by one, asking him or her to say what the opposite of the picture is. For example, a picture of nighttime should receive the response “day”.

Not ready for such a verbal game? Try a rhythm game instead. “You pat the drum once,” she says, “and your child is supposed to pat it twice.”

Both of these simple games serve the purpose of helping your child to learn how to stop and think. Instead of blurting out the first thing that comes to mind, your child will learn how to think about the correct response before thinking. This type of game is easy to make up, so you can come up with a few different ones to give your child variety.

Impulse control is linked to stronger math skills and is key to building executive function – the brain’s ability to plan, set goals, and to stay on task. Executive function is a higher predictor of academic success than IQ.

Make a creative space.

Your toddler’s play area is an important part of the house. Forget about home design principles, what really matters is creativity.

To foster your toddler’s natural creativity, he says, create an environment that’s imagination-friendly. That doesn’t mean the latest and greatest toys – in fact, Medina says, an empty box and a couple of crayons may just be the best toys on earth. Instead, it means giving your child time and space to try new things.

Multiple forms of creativity are helpful. Offer a variety of activities to your child, such as music, painting, drawing, blocks, dolls, costumes, toy kitchen sets, etc. The more avenues there are for your child to be creative, the more creative he or she will grow up to be.

Praise effort.

By praising your child’s effort, or things that they have control over, rather than attributes such as intelligence, which they don’t control, you can help your child to grow up to be a hard worker and excellent student.

So, while you might really want to say, “My little cutie is so smart,” what you really should say is, “Wow, you must’ve worked really hard.” The focus is on what the child did to produce the work rather than the outcome, and it helps children associate hard work with success.

The reason this works is because it will help them to form what’s called a “growth mindset” as opposed to a “fixed mindset”. In other words, they’ll grow up to believe that they can achieve their goals if they try, rather than what they’re capable of is predetermined.

“More than 30 years of study show that children raised in growth mindset homes consistently outscore their fixed-mindset peers in academic achievement,” he says. “Children with a growth mindset tend to have a refreshing attitude toward failure. They don’t ruminate over their mistakes. They simply perceive errors as problems to be solved, and then go to work.”

Point your finger.

At about 9 months, children begin to follow your finger to figure out what you’re pointing at, says BYU associate professor Ross Flom. Research shows that children learn language faster if you point to an object – like a truck – while saying the word. And by now, your toddler is probably really good at this game.
Having this shared interaction is called “joint attention.” It means your child has the ability to communicate to you about something (and someone) outside the two of you. And once your child has this ability, Flom says, your communication can become more elaborate.