Don Earl Parent Blog

Don Earl Parent Blog

Learning Through Play

Play, according to Webster’s dictionary, is  recreational activity; especially : the spontaneous activity of children. This means, it is unstructured and derived from the interest of the child. A mis-conception to a lot of people is that play is just children having fun. While this is very true they are learning a tremendous amount that will help to develop skills that will assist in their future approaches to learning.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has created a list of five essentials to make play meaningful.
  1. Children make their own decisions.
  2. Children are intrinsically motivated
  3. Children become immersed in the moment
  4. Play is spontaneous
  5. Play is enjoyable
Allowing children to to play allows them to use skills in all developmental areas. Parents can engage children by asking questions, which is an important part of language development in young children. Describing what they are doing, asking them what they are doing, and asking them about what they are going to do next foster the development of critical thinking skills. Play also allows children to use their imagination and lets them use their creativity blossom. Play enhances social skills and stimulates the brain in young developing children. So while play may seem simple, it is crucial in the development of young learners.

February: Teaching Empathy

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. The ability to understand and relate to someone’s emotions allows people to make a deeper connection. But how do you teach young egocentric children empathy? You can start by talking about emotions. Making sense of your own emotions help build an understanding of where feelings come from. There are many children’s books available on the topic of emotions.
Dr. Michele Borba, author of “Unselfie: Why empathetic kids succeed in our All-About-Me World,” discusses four steps to discussing feelings with your child:
  1. Stop and tune in. -We are often so distracted by the busy world around us, but we need to stop and put our phones away and talk to our children.
  2. Look face-to-face. Good eye contact shows someone you are actually listening. Even small children. Get down on their level, sit on the floor with them while you are talking to them.
  3. Focus on feelings. Give your child a chance to talk about their feelings. Model phrases like “ I feel    when .” Give them different examples of emotions they might be feeling. Point out things you notice to them; such as, “I notice your face looks angry, are you upset about something?” Give them a chance to express their feelings.
  4. Express your feelings. Giving language to feelings and modeling that to your child will be an important first step in their ability to express their own emotions.

Tuning in to your child, discussing emotions, and  modeling how to handle your emotions is the first step to raising empathetic children.

January- Transitions

Transitions in preschool can be very challenging and stressful for both the child and adult. It is important to remember to keep transitions to a minimum and also to provide children with clear expectations. One of the best ways to help make transitions smooth is by providing children with a warning. They are often times engaged in an activity and stopping to move on to a new activity can be disruptive. So providing a warning that this is going to happen will hopefully help minimize behaviors. For example, “In five minutes we are going to stop and clean up for circle time.” This allows children time to finish what they are working on and prepare for what is coming next. It is important to make sure you stick to the time frame and directions given.
Another way to help young children transition is to make it fun. One way to do this might be to play a clean up song or sing a song. Other ways to make transitions fun might include using different movements. For example, maybe your child is avoiding going to bed. After they brush their teeth try having them hop or crawl to bed pretending to be an animal. You might also try using counting. For example, you want your child to stop playing and come to the table for dinner. You would provide them with a warning and then when time is up you ask them to count how many steps they have to take to get to the dinner table.
Transitions occur throughout the day so keeping these strategies in mind will help make things smoother for the child and adult. For more creative ideas how to make transitions fun check out Pinterest!

The Child Mind Institute breaks down the many causes of aggression in children. Some of the causes include mood disorders, psychosis, frustration, impulsivity, conduct disorder, injury, and trauma. It is important to understand where a child’s aggression is coming from before you can treat it. The most common type of aggression found in children ages 4 and 7 is hostile aggression. Hostile aggression can be shown as overt aggression, which entails physical harm or as relational aggression, which entails damaging peer relationships or spreading rumors. Some children will move beyond aggressive behavior and learn how to handle conflict. For those children that continue to use physical aggression there are some steps that caregivers can take to teach young children that violence and aggression are unacceptable.
Caregivers should not model violent or aggressive behavior in front of young children. This includes responding to a child engaging in aggressive behavior. It is important to stay calm and talk to the young children about the inappropriate behavior. This conversation should take place in a calm voice, as soon as the child is calm, and be short and direct about expectations of appropriate behavior.

Parents who find themselves in a violent, dangerous, or abusive relationship can call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) to reach The National Domestic Violence Hotline, for crisis help, safety planning, or referrals to local resources.

November: Emotional Development

“Children are developing their social and emotional skills in early childhood. This influences their mental health and wellbeing, now and in the future.”-Kids Matter

Interactions with adults and caregivers impact the emotional development of small children. Emotional development entails the understanding of feelings and emotions and how to handle them. Children who grasp a variety of emotions and how to handle them are more likely to stay calm and grow into confident, curious learners. Adult interactions with children and their emotions play a large role in this process. Visit the link below to view the chart of examples on how to interact positively with your child when it comes to expressing emotions.

Developing a strong emotional skill set have shown to have an impact on social interactions and performance in school. Emotions impact our attention, memory, and learning; our ability to build relationships with others; and our physical and mental health (Salovey & Mayer 1990). Developing this skill set helps children to not be consumed with emotions when they unexpectedly occur. When discussing emotions with children it is important to know that both positive and not so positive emotions should be discussed so that children understand that all emotions are worth discussing.

Having a set of boundaries and limits in the home provide young children with a sense of safety. Young children may not voice this but they actually crave expectations and stability. Understanding how to create age appropriate boundaries will help you to be successful with following through with them. First, children who feel loved and valued are more likely to accept corrections. I know it is hard with busy schedules and multiple children in the same house but carving out one on one time with be very beneficial to being successful with setting boundaries and limits. Setting boundaries and limits help preschool age children to practice self-control. Children this age are egocentric so this can be challenging but understanding that we do not always get what we want when we want it can be difficult for young children. Sometimes we have to say no to children but try giving an explanation. For example, If you child asks to go to the park today but it is raining; instead of simply responding with “no”, you might say “ we cannot go to the park today because it is raining but we can go another time when it is not raining.” Keep in mind that you want to be able to follow through with your response so avoid responding with unrealistic outcomes.
Keep in mind when setting boundaries or limits at home that you must be clear and consistent. Young children do not always do well with abrupt change so giving warning before something happens is very helpful. If you have to leave for school, a doctor’s appointment, or just to run errands give you child a warning. “In two minutes we have to stop and go to school.” this allows your child processing time. Using a timer for this is great. That way you do not forget and it gives the child a signal that it is time to stop. Once the two minutes are up or the timer goes off simply say “ Two minutes are up, it is time to go. We can play when we come home.” Keeping things simple and positive will have you in a consistent routine with boundaries in no time! For more information on how to set boundaries or limits at home visit the websites below.

Setting Home Rules/Expectations

Having a set of home rules/expectations for children helps to create a safe and trusting environment. Rules and expectations should be simple, clear, and placed somewhere in the house that can be seen on a regular basis. Try engaging your child in the process of coming up with the list of home rules. Involving children in the process of coming up with the rules/expectations makes them feel more responsible; therefore, more likely to follow them.  Keep in mind your child’s age and ability level.  You want to set them up for success not failure. Some examples of rules/expectations at home might be:
  • We brush our teeth before bed.
  • We pick up our toys when we are done playing.
  • Put dirty clothes in the hamper or laundry basket.
  • During meal time we stay safe in our seat.
It is important to be consistent with the rules/expectations. If your child responds negatively to one of the house rules/expectations simply remind them of why you came up with those rules. For example:
Child: “I do not want to brush my teeth before bed!!!”
Adult: “Remember we have to take care of our teeth by brushing them every night.”
The benefits to having rules/expectations at home are endless! Having rules/expectations help your child to have a calm environment, makes you an active leader as opposed to a reactive leader in the home, and provide structure. They help your child develop long term traits such as being independent, responsible, and caring for things and people. As your child grows you can adapt the house rules/expectations.

For more information regarding this topic visit the links below.

Reading to your children is a simple and well known way to promote reading success later in life! The ability to read and write is called “literacy.” For infants, the sound of your voice and holding them in your lap helps build relationships. Toddlers may want you to read the same book over and over. Preschoolers enjoy books about anything and everything! Don’t forget you can read poems, magazines, newspapers, and even signs in the environment! Children also benefit from seeing adults read. Following are some more ideas and activities to promote Early Literacy!

DID YOU KNOW? Early literacy is a mix of experiences that involves all five senses. Early literacy tactics focus on a child’s developmental abilities and preparedness to acquire literacy skills. Activities not only include reading and exploring books, but also coloring, painting on the easel and construction and drama playing (Birken, 26).

FUN FACT: The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school. National Commission on Reading, 1985

Jealousy, competition and fighting among brothers and sisters is often referred to as sibling rivalry. Almost all families with more than one child experience it. Conflicts can begin as soon as the second child is born.  Unfortunately, it can last a lifetime! Here are some ideas and suggestions to help you make it through the more stressful times:


FUN FACT: Studies show that siblings between the ages of 2 and 4 clash 6.3 times per hour. That frequency drops with kids aged 3 to 7 in conflict just 3.5 times per hour ... which means moms have a whole 20 minutes before the next ruckus!

A good night’s sleep is necessary for a child’s well-being, adults too! Not getting enough zzz’s can affect behavior, ability to attend, and mood. Getting your child to sleep is not always an easy task. The resources below will inform you about the benefits of a good rest and also list some ideas on how to get one!

DID YOU KNOW? Children tend to fall asleep faster and sleep longer when they go to bed before 9 p.m.

FUN FACT: lack of sleep affects behavior. In addition, keeping all electronics out of the bedroom will help children to get a good night’s sleep.

Stress Management
Stress is a normal reaction to challenges and changes and an inevitable part of all of our lives – even our kids! Some stress can be a good thing, but overwhelming stress can be damaging to your health and have negative effects on parenting skills. It’s good to have some tricks up your sleeve for trying times!

FUN FACT: Parents who are more sensitive to their infants’ needs and respond quickly to emotional cues tend to raise children who are better at regulating their own emotions. Successfully managing your own stress is vital to being responsive to your children!

DID YOU KNOW? There are free programs available for parents that provide counseling, resource linkage and hands on training to help ensure healthy children and healthy families. For more information, contact Jen Wallis, Family Support Facilitator at 282-5184 x 2406
Socially and emotionally competent children are skilled at managing their emotions and behavior, cooperating with others, forming positive relationships, and making responsible…decisions. (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, 2007) Current research in early childhood education supports that children need to be taught social skills and appropriate behavior, just like they are taught letters and numbers. Click on the links below to know what to expect as your child grows and how to help them grow socially and emotionally.

FUN FACT: Social interaction increases the speed and accuracy of learning in all ages, including babies.

DID YOU KNOW? At Don Earl, we implement a curriculum called Second Step to help students learn appropriate social skills. Second Step is a learning program designed to increase school readiness and social success by building social-emotional competence and self-regulation skills. Lessons are completed in the general classroom and sometimes in smaller groups with our family facilitator as part of our Positive Behavior Support program. For more details, contact your child’s teacher.

“Attention” in school is often mentioned when referring to how long your child can participate in a group or activity, as in “attention span.”  In this post, we are focused on attention seeking behavior, which is a common cause of unwanted behaviors in preschoolers. All children need attention and some need it more than others! If children do not receive sufficient positive attention through playing and interacting with others, they will often seek out it out in other ways. This can result in unwanted behavior. It may sound crazy to us, but for a child, negative attention is better than no attention at all! Here are some resources that should help explain attention seeking behaviors along with some strategies to help deal with it.

DID YOU KNOW? At the Don Earl Center, we use the Guiding Hand as a method to help teach appropriate expectations and promote positive interactions. Please contact your child’s teacher for more information.

FUN FACT: According to, one of the main reasons children have attention seeking behavior is that some children get as little as 7 minutes a day of one on one time with their parents! 

Communication is what we say and how we say it. Positive communication between you and your child helps to create happy and trusting relationships and develop confidence and a good self-image. Building these types of relationships will also help with limiting unwanted behaviors because your child will be more trusting and want to please you. Practicing positive communication now will have lifelong effects! Check out these tips and suggestions:

DID YOU KNOW? At the Don Earl Early Childhood Center, we strive to be positive. For every one directive we give, we try to notice and say four positive comments. We have 4:1 posters posted all around the center!

FUN FACT: Studies show that children do best when they have at least three loving and supportive adult influences in their lives.

Speech and Language development begins at birth. Language will develop as children learn new uses, increase their vocabulary, and speak and understand more complex sentences. We continue to learn and revise our language over our lifetime, but the first 3-5 years of life are the most important. It is during these years that the brain’s organization, development, and life functioning is shaped.   The preschool years especially need to be filled with experiences that are rich with sounds and listening to the language of others. The following resources will give you some ideas of what to expect and how to promote speech and language growth:

DID YOU KNOW?: Infant educational television does not promote intellectual development, because infants respond to things that respond to them. Even the most advanced DVD does not respond to the specific cues of an infant. Playing with a baby is far more valuable than even the most expensive system of videos.

FUN FACT: Babies whose parents talk to them frequently know 300 more words by age 2 than babies whose parents rarely speak to them.

Age Appropriate Expectations

Beginning at birth, children progress through their development changing and growing physically, socially, and cognitively. This process involves learning skills such as sitting, crawling, walking, talking, and learning concepts like colors and shapes. It also involves skills such as following directions, being able to attend to an activity, and taking turns. Many of these skills are referred to as developmental milestones and help us to predict when most children will attain them. It is important to remember that although children tend to follow a fairly predictable course of development, each child is unique and may gain some skills a little sooner and some skills a little later than peers of the same age. Some children exhibit developmental delays and it is important to adjust the guidelines and expectations based on their current functioning and not the actual age of the child. For example, children who have not attained typical two year old skills are probably NOT ready to potty train, just because they are 2 years old.

The following are good resources for age appropriate expectations. If you have any additional questions or concerns about age appropriate expectations, please contact your child’s teacher.

Welcome to the Don Earl Parent Blog!  The first Friday of each month, we will post about a new topic.  Based on the feedback from the survey we handed out at open house, we picked the topics that parents were most interested in learning more about.  Here is the schedule for this school year:
September- Age Appropriate Expectations
October- Speech/Language Development
November- Positive Communication
December- Attention Seeking Behavior
January- Social Skills Development
February- Stress & Stress Management
March- Sleep/Bedtime Routine
April- Sibling Rivalry
May- Literacy in Preschool  
If you have specific questions about one of the topics, feel free to comment and we will reply as soon as possible.  You can access the blog from your computer or mobile device.  It will be on the parent section of our website soon for easy access.  We will also send the link out via our Twitter and FaceBook account.  
Separation Anxiety– Ideas for Back to School

Many children experience some separation anxiety when they begin a new school year, especially if this is their first time in preschool. Here are some ideas you can try with your child if he or she is having a difficult time saying goodbye:
- Prepare your child by talking about going to school and what will happen there.
- Spend a few minutes of special time with your child at home in the morning.
- Create a routine around leaving and returning. For example, you may have a special hug, kiss, or greeting for saying goodbye and hello.
- Make sure to say goodbye to your child before leaving, “sneaking out” can make the child more upset later. But then leave promptly.
- Choose a security object to bring along to school. This could be a favorite toy or blanket, or a photo of your family. It is a good idea to talk to your child’s teacher before discussing this with your child, to come up with a plan that will work for the classroom (many classrooms have policies about toys, etc. from home). You can develop a plan with your child’s teacher where the use of the security object can be phased out (for example, your child brings a family photo to school and keeps it in his backpack. He goes to his bag and looks at the photo if he starts to feel upset).
A great book to read with your child before starting school is the Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn

Kissing Hand

We hope everyone has a safe and fun summer!  Here are some summer safety tips:
SUNSCREEN, even being outdoors for a short time can result in a sun burn. Remember to put on sunscreen about 15 minutes before going outside. If swimming or sweating it is important to reapply often and take breaks in the shade. Sunscreen does not mean that you can be out in the full sun all day and not burn.

HYDRATE as the temperature increases, it becomes more important to monitor that your child is taking in enough fluids; water is the best way to hydrate. Encourage your child to drink water before, during and after playing outside; in addition to drinking water, juice or milk with meals. Remember if you are thirsty you may already be dehydrated, if your urine is dark you need to drink more.

BEWARE OF BUG BITES: wearing hats, long pants and long sleeve shirt can help protect from bug bites. Ticks, mosquitos, bees and other insects love the warmer weather. Be alert after spending days and evenings outdoors. Check your child during bath time or after being outside for bug bites and ticks. Ticks should be removed within 24 hours, you should save the tick in the freezer - in a Ziploc bag, marked with the name of individual, area of body it was removed from and where you were when you got the tick. A date is also helpful if any illness occurs later. Don’t forget those bees can be attracted to sweet smelling perfumes or beverages.

To have your child’s helmeted checked for safety visit:
For fun activities for you and your preschooler, check out the following websites:
For summer camp information, visit:
HAVE FUN! Don’t forget to read this summer too!!!

May Blog:
Toilet Training
This can be one of the biggest struggles of parenting.  First and foremost, make sure your child is ready to begin the process.  Do they tell you when they have to go, can they pull their pants down by themselves, will they sit on the toilet, etc.  Secondly, you have to remember that this is something they have complete control of; you cannot make them go to the bathroom.  It’s important to also remember that this is a process; kids are not potty trained overnight.  It takes a lot of time, patience, and consistency.  Accidents are going to happen and it is very normal for them to have accidents.  So make sure to pack extra underwear and clothes when you go places and send extra sets to school too!  Make sure to take them to the bathroom often, just as reminders and have them practice sitting, even if they don’t have to go.  Try not to get frustrated, kids can tell when adults are frustrated and that will just make it harder.  For some more helpful information, please see the websites below.  Good luck!  Each child is different.  Some will be “easy” to potty train, others might be difficult.  Eventually they will get it, don’t compare to others just do what works best for your child. 
Here are some links with helpful information:

April was a popular month. 
In the month of April, we celebrated the National Week of the Young Child, however we extend the fun to last all month long.  Here are some ways to make learning fun at home with your child:
Making Play Fun:
Nature Fun:
Importance of Music:
April was also Autism Awareness Month!  We had a very successful Autism Fair.  If you were unable to make it, here is a list of the resources/vendors that were here that night and that provide resources to families in our community:
United 4 Children , Ride on St. Louis,  MO-Health Net, STARS Program, Rock the Spectrum Gym,  Disability Resource Association , St Louis Regional Center, Next Steps for Life , COMTREA,  MO-FEAT, JUDEVINE, Helping Hands and Horses

Here is an online recourse guide:

Finally, April was also Child Abuse Prevention Month!  Here are some helpful links and resources:

Car Seat/Booster Seat Info:
Remember, you can go to any firehouse and have them check your car seat to make sure it is installed correctly.

The Village of Helping Hands Turning Point is a great place in Jefferson County to help with a variety of parenting needs. 

Resource Guide & Tips for Child Abuse Prevention:
 "A positive sense of self is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. Children with high self-esteem feel loved and competent and develop into happy, productive people."- Kristen Finello Author of Simple Way To Boost Your Child's Self-Esteem. 
Follow the link below to learn more about the Dos and Donts.

"Self-esteem is about liking yourself and who you are. For children it comes from knowing that you're loved and that you belong to a family that values you." -A quote from the Raising Children's Network. Follow the link below to learn more about the needs of children at different ages of development to help them be successful.

The following links will provide you with more information on how to help your children have a positive self-esteem.

Mealtime with young eaters can be a struggle for many parents, whether you have a picky eater or not. The following information gives some quick realistic strategies that can be implemented at home to make mealtime more enjoyable and less of a struggle. 

The following information is taken from

My hope is that this page will provide you with the tools to start laying a good foundation in your kid's eating skills.  I believe this list contains the most important steps to getting your kid/toddler/baby (picky eater or not) to eat well. These are the strategies I often give parents when I walk into their home for the first time and when families are able to make these changes I see the most improvement.  As a mom, they have helped set the stage for both my sons feeding skills, and I notice very quickly that when I deviate from these rules their eating suffers.  In those instances, I get back to these basics, and it works!  If the following steps seem overwhelming, then think about implementing them in small manageable steps. I have many more tips and strategies in just about every post I write, even the recipes (check out a list at the end of this page) 

1. Eat with your kids

This may seem like an obvious tip, but in today's hectic pace of life it's so easy to multitask or take a break when our kids are eating.  We are juggling so much and getting your kid into a chair with food in front of them can be a monumental feat in and of itself.  I know it may be the only time you have to unload the dishwasher or check your email, but eating with your child is a valuable and a worthwhile learning opportunity.  If your child's eating is poor, this is an opportunity you don't want to miss very often, not to say that it also isn't important for the kids that are eating well.

Meals are a social experience and we learn from what we see, you know, monkey see, monkey do.  If you expect your kid to eat something new, how willing will they be if you aren't trying it too? Kids, especially babies and toddlers, may actually watch how you bite and chew a new food, using you as a model for how they should proceed.  It also sets a standard of eating, meaning your kid will grow up knowing that vegetables (or whatever else you are eating) are healthful and part of a normal diet.  I am not saying that all kids will see Mommy eating spinach and thus eat spinach, but it is the first step in setting a good foundation for a diet with more variety.  Another advantage to eating with your child is that you can quickly give them encouragement to try the spinach before it ends up on the floor or they have filled up on milk and noodles (which might happen if you are distracted by unloading the dishwasher.)

If it seems overwhelming to carve out time to eat with your child, start small, aim for eating dinner together three times a week, or nightly, eventually making your way up to eating together for most meals.  Of course, there are times when logistically it doesn't work out, don't beat yourself up about it if it doesn't happen occasionally.

2. Eat at a table

Okay, be honest with yourself, how often does your child actually sit down at a table to eat their meals (no judgement here from me)?  Our culture has become so hurried that it's very commonplace to set out a plate and let our kids eat while they play (aka grazing) or pass through a fast food window and eat in the car. However, in these types of scenarios kids are distracted and the message that's being sent is "eating isn't that important."  There are situations where this is inevitable, such as traveling and parties, outside of that I would strongly discourage it, at least on a regular basis.  If you need to start small (baby step) use a  pop up card table or a coffee table at first (also see my post on "
Turn off the TV").  A small kid's table is fine too, just make sure you are going to sit at it with them.

3. Space meals and snacks 2.5 -3 hours apart

I can't stress how important this is, and it is probably the biggest mistake everyone makes!  Don't worry, it's not your fault, nobody tells you that kids are supposed to eat every 3 hours with NOTHING in between but water. Kids like to graze and snack throughout the day, which on the surface seems fine because at least they are eating.  In reality, they are eating just enough to suppress their appetite and then don't get hungry enough to eat a meal.  Juice, milk, or cheerios are enough to fill their little bellies up, so save the other drinks to have with their meals.  I have seen the greatest improvements in kids eating when families strictly adhere to this.  The 2.5-3 hour mark is the ideal window of time for their metabolism and hunger cycle.  I know that for some families this can be a big change, but I think it is well worth it.  Besides, this is the best cycle for adults to be on too, it increases our metabolism, helping us to maintain a healthy weight.  If you don't believe me, try an experiment, follow this for a couple days and see if you notice a difference. In most cases, they will be hungrier when they get to the table.   Here is an example of Sam's routine:

                                      Breakfast- 8:30 AM
                                      Lunch- 11:30 AM
                                      Nap- 12:30 PM
                                      Snack- 4:00 PM
                                      Dinner- 6:30 PM
                                      Bedtime- 7:30 PM

You don't have to follow this exactly, base it around when your child sleeps.  Generally, have them eat about 1/2 hour after waking up.  Sam takes a three hour nap most of the time so that afternoon snack may be a little longer of a stretch.  If your child sleeps later in the day, it may make sense to have a morning snack.  Maybe they take a short nap or don't take one at all, then a morning and afternoon snack might make more sense.  Of course, a bedtime snack could work as well.

4. Don't force feed

I am going to keep this short.  Please don't hold your child's mouth open and shove a fork into it.  I know you just want them to try it because if they do they will love it, but it creates so much negativity around meals that your child will start to avoid them altogether.  Forcing them to eat also makes them distrustful at meals.  They feel like they have to be on guard and are thus defensive, which means they will eat less.  Most simply though, it isn't very nice.  How would you feel if someone was doing that to you?  If you have already done this, it's okay, just don't do it again, and let your kid know you won't do it again.  Stand behind your word and you will start to build some trust and make some progress.

5. Set an example

Children take in so many of our nuances and behaviors, the good and the bad.  They see your reaction when you have a bite of broccoli, or if you even put the broccoli on your own plate.  If you don't like to eat certain textures or have a limited diet, your child will pick up on it.  They notice and will repeat the disgusted face you made when you tried a bite of the broccoli or if you didn't take any of the broccoli.  This sends a very strong message to them: you can pick and choose what you want to eat and some foods taste gross.  Try to put aside any food issues you may have and at least stay neutral about the food if you can't be excited about eating it.  Also, consider if you are limiting the foods you expose your child to because you don't like them.  Just because you don't like mushrooms, doesn't mean your child won't like them.  In fact, you are doing them a disservice by assuming they won't like it... I know the thought process doesn't even get that far usually.  You may not even think to buy the mushrooms because you don't eat them.  Think outside of the box a little when planning your meals, is there something else you can all try together?  Just remember to be conscience of your attitude and personal response to the food.

6. Don't be a short order cook

I know it sucks when your kid doesn't eat what you put down in front of them, especially if you had them in mind when you were making it.  I really struggle with this myself as a mom, even though I know better as a therapist.  It is beyond frustrating when they push the plate away, start to play with the food, or try to get out of their chair.  As a parent you start to add up what they have already eaten that day and maybe it wasn't so great.  Maybe they are tantruming, cranky, and you know that if they don't eat something it is going to be a long night.  In some cases, parents are worried about weight gain and if the kid doesn't eat, they aren't going to put on weight.  I know it is so tempting to open the fridge and say "What do you want?" or to reach in the cupboard for the easy mac you know they will eat, but I would encourage you to take a deep breath and collect your thoughts. How do you really want to proceed?  If you give in and get them a preferred food or something they requested, you are reinforcing the idea that they don't have to eat what you are serving.  I can almost guarantee you that the next meal you put something in front of them, they will do the same thing to get what they would rather eat.  Think about it, as adults we know it's not healthy to eat easy mac every night, or at least we should, but children don't have self control.  It is our job to teach that to them... I know it is a really hard job!  Ultimately, I think it is more frustrating to start cooking multiple meals when you have already put the effort into the one that is front of them, and now your cooking again instead of eating together as a family.  Your kitchen is not a restaurant, don't let you kids think it is one.

7. Have a preferred food at each meal

A preferred food is something your kid likes and consistently eats well, this is the kind of food you can count on.  For instance with my son, Sam, bread is one food he loves and he would eat tons of it at a meal before touching anything else, if I let him.  Some kids only have a few foods they consistently like. If that is the case, then you may want to broaden what you consider preferred to also include foods they eat at least some of the time.  When you give your child a meal, try to have at least one food on the plate you know they like.  This frees you up to give some other foods that may be non-preferred or new because you know that at a minimum there is something they will actually ingest.  This principal goes hand in hand with principal 6, and should make you feel more comfortable about not resorting to short order cooking.

Okay, let me give you a more concrete example:

  • Corn, green beans, noodles, ham, cheese, and shrimp are some of Sam's preferred foods.  Cauliflower, chicken salad, lettuce, hamburger, and navy beans are some of his non-preferred foods.  I know I am going to make hamburgers for dinner, which may be a struggle for him to eat, if he eats any of it at all.  To offset that I would make green beans (not cauliflower), put cheese on his burger, and of course he would have his bun, which will help him feel more comfortable and thus more likely to try some of the burger.  Of course, I am going to spend a little time working with him to eat his non-preferred food as well.  In this example, I gave him more than one preferred food, but you don't necessarily need to, one preferred food at a minimum.  

Each child is different, give these steps some time, for a child (and you) to adapt to a new routine before you expect to see major changes in their eating.  But, if you pay attention, I bet you will notice some small positive changes.  Give yourself a pat on the back for the baby steps, they are important and they add up.  Don't forget to praise your kiddo on the small changes you see too (be specific: I really like how you tasted a green bean tonight)!

This site is full of more strategies and in many of the posts I re-visit and expand on some of these same principals because I really do feel like they are the foundation to good eating habits.  

Some Encouraging Words

I wish I had some quick trick that would solve all of your kid's "picky" eating tendencies. Feeding your kid can be the most stressful time of day if you feel your child isn't eating well. Although you can pick up some quick suggestions here, at Your Kid's Table, that will help, most of the strategies I am recommending require some real change, which is really hard for anyone. In most cases, the more selective your kid is about eating means the more changes you will need to make. Start by making small changes each day, each week, and it won't be as overwhelming. Don't expect miracles to happen overnight. Look for the small accomplishments and pat yourself (and your kid) on the back. My best advice is to stay consistent and to keep trying will help get you there!
Kindergarten Transition

Transitioning to kindergarten can be a difficult process for both parents and the students.  In order to help them be most successful, they need to see that you are excited about them starting school!  Drive them by their new school over the summer and talk about the new building.  Let them play on the playground and take them on a tour of the school too.  The more they see it, the more familiar and comfortable they will be on the first day.  In the spring, the students will all participate in Kindergarten groups and will meet other students in the center that will be going to the same building as them next year.  There will be weekly notes sent home giving suggestions of things you can do at home to help with the transition process and teaching them the social skills they will need to make new friends next year.  They will also get a picture book of what their new school looks like so you can look at it over the summer and help prepare them. Here is a list of books that you can also read with your child at home to help them get ready for this exciting change:
The Night Before Kindergarten by: Natasha Wing
Kindergarten Here I Come by: D.J. Steinberg
First Day Jitters by: Julie Dannenberg
Emily’s First Day of School by: Sarah Duchess of York
Mouse’s First Day of School by: Laura Thompson
The Berenstain Bears Go To School by: Stan & Jan Berenstain
Llama Llama Misses Mama by: Anne Dewdney
Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by: Joseph Slate
Froggy Goes to School by: Jonathon London
Curious George First Day of School by: Margret & H.A. Reyes
It’s Hard to Be Five by: Jamie Lee Curtis
First Day of School by: Mercer Mayer
Kindergarten Rocks by: Katie Davis
Kindergarten Countdown by: Anne Jane Hays

As a parent, it can be hard to send your child off to school for a full day but just think back to their very first day of preschool.  Look at how much they have grown since they have been here at our center.  Your child will do great in Kindergarten and you will be amazed by how much they grow and learn in that one year!



The most effective way to manage unwanted behavior is to prevent it before it happens. Some effective strategies to promote positive behavior include establishing a routine, being consistent with your instructions, and having realistic expectations for the age and developmental level of your child. For example, you can’t expect most two year olds to sit and attend to an activity for more than 10-15 minutes at a time!  Challenging behaviors can be different things to different people. You may not be able to tolerate whining, while your next door neighbor might have more problems with a child who bites or hits. Although there are general developmental guidelines, each child is unique and has their own personality and temperament. Temperament can be defined as the way a child approaches and reacts to the world around them. Some children are friendly with everyone they meet and others are a little more shy. This is just one example of temperament. An individual child’s temperament greatly affects their everyday behavior. Because there are so many factors that influence behavior, it is unrealistic to list strategies or techniques that work for everyone. Keep your child’s temperament and personality in mind as you explore resources below. If you need help with specific at home behaviors, please contact your child’s teacher or one of our behavior specialists.