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Bedtime battle

If you have a difficult time getting your child to go to bed at night, the first step is to figure out why your child says, "But I'm not tired!" Is he/she in need of more attention? Scared of the dark? Feeling the need to show independence? Maybe he/she really isn't tired. Your child may be a "night owl."

Ideas to ease the bedtime routine are:

Handle fears: Talk about your child's fears and explain that you won't let anything happen to him or her. Let him or her keep her door open a crack, and keep the hall light on.

Set routines: Give your child at least a half-hour to relax and get ready to go to bed. Comforting rituals include taking baths and reading bedtime stories. Your child's sense of security will increase if you follow a nightly routine.

Establish a consistent bedtime: Once you choose a bedtime that will give your child enough sleep (11 to 12 hours is the typical amount of sleep needed by a 3-5 year-old), be sure to enforce it. Everybody benefits from a regular sleep schedule.

Remind your child of the rules: Be kind but firm about bedtime. Don't get involved in arguments about why you think bedtime should be at 8 p.m. and why your child thinks it should be at 9 p.m.. Stick to the time you've set. If you often give in to your child and let him or her stay up later, you will find yourself caught in a nightly power struggle.

Give more attention. Help your child look forward to bedtime as a special time to be together. Read a bedtime story or have a good talk.

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Difficult child behavior

How can I cope with my child when his/her behavior becomes difficult?

Tip #1 - Establish Rules
Make simple rules for your child. Start with a few "things we do and don't do." Talk with your child about them.

Tip #2 - Prevention Is Better Than Cure
If you feel that your child's behavior is beginning to get out of control, "nip it in the bud." Distract your child's attention by doing another activity.

Tip #3 - Take Five.
When tensions and anger rise in you or your child, "Take five"? Take five minutes to cool down and ask yourself, "Why am I getting so angry?" Try to identify the real problem, then find the solution.

Tip #4 - Avoid Striking Your Child
Hitting does not teach children good behavior.

Tip #5 - No Yelling Allowed
Avoid yelling at your children in anger. If they break a rule, tell them what they did wrong and why that makes you angry.

Tip #6 - Get Away
When you are stressed and upset, get help and support.


Keys to successful discipline include setting clear limits, reinforcing those limits with reminders and consequences, such as taking away a privilege or having the child spend a short time alone, without play. Praising good behavior, especially when your child isn't expecting praise, reinforces the actions you want to see.

Ages 6-18 months

While playing together, your baby suddenly bites your arm. What do you do?


  • Pull the baby away and firmly say, "No biting. Biting hurts."
  • Show alternative behavior such as hugging.
  • Give babies who are teething something soft to bite.


Babies, scream, hit, cry and bite to communicate their needs. They touch and explore to learn about their bodies and environment, not to hurt or willfully disobey. Our goal is to help our babies show their feelings without hurting themselves or others.


  • Watch for signals that to tell when your baby is overexcited or upset.
  • Show babies how to express their needs in different ways, such as clapping or laughing.
  • Be consistent in your responses.

Ages 2 to 3

What do you do if your child throws a tantrum on the floor of the toy store because you won't buy the toy he/she wants?


  • Stay calm and don't worry about what others think.
  • Ignore the fuss. Give your child as little attention as possible.
  • Hold your child, if necessary, to prevent injury or damage to property.
  • Leave the store if the tantrum continues.
  • Reward good behavior by spending some special time together as soon after as possible.


When children become defiant and hard to manage, children need to discover their own abilities to separate themselves from their parents, and to learn self-control. We can teach our children to behave properly by rewarding good behavior, ignoring poor behavior, and preventing them from injuring themselves or others.


  • Before entering the store, describe the behavior you expect and the consequences of poor behavior.

Ages 3 to 4

What do I do if my child pushes or pinches a playmate, or uses bad language?


  • Listen to your child's reason for getting angry.
  • Tell your child the correct words to use in expressing feelings.
  • Explain your feelings to your child
  • Talk to your child on how he/she can change their feelings.


Children at this age are beginning to learn rules and limits, but they make mistakes. They need reminders and immediate consequences that respect their growing self-esteem.


  • Observe how your child plays, and compliment good behavior. For example, "I really liked how you asked for your turn on the swing."
  • Be sure you and other adults in your child's life are good role models in expressing feelings.

Ages 5 +

What do I do if I tell my child to clean up the blocks and he/she refuses, even after several requests?


  • Calmly and clearly say, "You need to pick up all the blocks and put them in their box."
  • Set a time limit for doing the task and say what will happen if the task is not done. For example, "This needs to be done by lunch time, or we won't be able to have your friends over to play."
  • Make sure that the task is fair and that the child cares about it.
  • After one warning, but no repeated threats, follow through with your plan if the child hasn't completed the task to your satisfaction.


At this age, children are aware of the rules of good behavior, but they still have trouble following through with their responsibilities. It's important that you give kids this age lots of praise.


  • Divide chores fairly among family members, according to their ages.
  • Be clear about what the task is and what the consequences are.
  • Praise and reward the child for doing chores. For example: "Because you've done such a good job clearing the table, we'll have time for a special story or game together!"

Most child development experts now support the concept of positive discipline -- discipline without negative put-downs, harsh criticism or physical punishment. These experts consider spanking to be negative, ineffective and humiliating to a child.

If "spanking" is not the right thing to do, what works better?


  • Teach your children how to talk about their feelings, rather than act them out in misbehavior.
  • Monitor your own levels of anger and be aware of what may trigger angry responses.
  • Be patient. Young children need lots of reminders before they can understand and remember what they are supposed to do.
  • Express affection regularly.

Top 10 Discipline Principles

  1. Get connected early.
  2. Know your child.
    Know age-appropriate behavior.
    Get behind the eyes of your child.
  3. Help the child respect authority.
  4. Set limits; provide structure.
  5. Expect obedience.
  6. Model discipline.
  7. Nurture your child's self-confidence.
  8. Shape your child's behavior.
  9. Raise kids with care.
  10. Talk and listen.

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Help!! The crying won't stop!: What is wrong with my baby who won't stop crying?

Babies who cry constantly and cannot be consoled have colic. No one knows for sure what causes colic, but reducing stimulation around your child may be helpful. Some things to try:

  • Keep lights off or turned low.
  • Speak in a gentle voice.
  • Swaddle your baby in a blanket. Swaddling is a method of tightly wrapping your baby to keep him/her warm and secure. .
  • Carry your baby in a carrier that keeps him/her close to your chest.
  • For more ideas or support visit

The most important thing for you to do with a child who has colic is to give yourself a break when needed. If you do this, you will remain in control and able to tend to your child appropriately. Keep names and numbers of your support system near by; turn to those numbers if the crying gets too much. Without any other option, take these steps:

  1. Set your baby in a safe and secure place.
  2. Leave the room.
  3. Take deep breaths-count-calm down.
  4. Call this number (305-631-8111), for support if necessary.
  5. Once you have regained control, reconnect with your baby.

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How can I help my child be more independent?

  • All children in the pre-school years swing back and forth between being brave and being timid. Often you will see a toddler busily playing in one part of a room and then find him coming back to his mother for a moment to touch base before going off to play again. This is very normal behavior as children learn to be self-confident and able to do things on their own.
  • Children need a balance between secure familiar experiences and new exciting interesting experiences.
  • When your child appears timid or fearful, provide support and encouragement, love and cuddling.
  • Help your child prepare for new experiences beforehand by talking about them ahead of time.
  • Talk about what to expect and what to do in each new situation. Do pretend play with your child about the new experience and let your child come up with different ways to cope. Supply examples if necessary.
  • When helping your child learn self-help skills such as dressing and self-feeding, go slowly. Decide on one skill that you want to teach and concentrate on that skill until your child masters it before teaching another. Tell your child what you want his/her to do, show his/her how to do it, help his/her do it, and then watch his/her do it herself. Encourage and praise her through each step. It may take several tries for each new skill.
  • The move between independence and dependence is a lifelong process.


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How can I help my toddler behave?

Children learn by example. To encourage your toddler to behave well, you must be considerate, kind, honest and patient yourself. Give your toddler stability and love. Learning the boundaries of acceptable behavior is easier when there is consistency. If you do not allow your toddler to bounce a ball in the living room, do not let him/her do so when you have friends over. Reward your child for good behavior with hugs and attention -- reading a story or take him/her on an outing. Your toddler needs is time with you most of all.

Some considerations:

  • At the end of the active day, when your toddler is becoming increasingly irritable or irritating, getting him/her fed and to bed - it will probably do the most good.
  • When something is beyond him/her and frustration is mounting, you should provide redirection and reassurance.
  • Don't cave in to emotional outbursts that are clearly designed to manipulate you or change a decision you have made.

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How can I stop my pre-schooler from making bebtime an all night affair?

Pre-schoolers do not want to miss anything that happens. Consider an appropriate bedtime and make it as part of the daily routine. Be sure you and your partner both participate in the establishment of the routine and support each other in making it successful. Keep the time consistent by telling your child 30 minutes before time to go to sleep. Make part of the routine reading favorite books, getting water, and saying good night to family members within 30 minutes. You may want to consider that "bedtime" means either " lights out" or allows your child to look at a book and have the lights out later.

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How should I deal with tantrums?

The best way to deal with tantrums is to set your child up for success, not frustration. Temper tantrums are the result of children searching for independence. This is healthy.

Help children develop independence by following these guidelines:

  • Let children work through tantrums.
  • Give children strategies to deal with anger and frustration.
  • Create a loving, nurturing environment.
  • Keep focused on what is important -- that is, your child’s well being.
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Is it normal for my baby to cry all of the time?

  • Babies cry for a reason. They may be hungry, tired, in pain (for example with colic or gas), uncomfortable (for example with a wet diaper), overstimulated, or in need of social attention. Crying is the first signal that infants can give to adults that they need something. When their needs are met in a caring and competent way, most children stop crying.
  • As babies grow, they learn other ways to signal adults of their needs and wants. Parents must watch for those signals. When they do, babies develop as they should, and a secure relationship is established between babies and adults. Crying becomes less frequent and is used only when a child reaches his limits of endurance or is hurt.
  • When parents do not read their babies cues or heed their cries and attend to their needs, it makes for an insecure attachment or relationship between the parent and child. The child will feel uncertain and frightened. The child will continue to cry or resort to other unpleasant behavior in order to have his/her needs met or to get what he/she wants. Parents need to understand what a child tries to tell them even before that have words.
  • Some children who cry a lot tend to have a fussy or "difficult" temperament. It may be harder to comfort them. They may resist cuddling or eye contact with their parent. There are ways a parent can handle such a child to make it easier for both the parent and child. For example, learn to swaddle such a child in a blanket, avoid overstimulating the child and do not move in too quickly on a child. For more information read Brazelton, T. B., Touchpoints, Reading Mass.: Perseus Books, 1992
  • Other children may be very colicky or have another medical reason for discomfort that results in much crying. These children should be seen by their doctor who can provide more information.
  • Remember, children cry for a reason. It is the adult's job to find out why.

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My child goes to child care each day and when he/she comes home he/she is tired, but cannot go to sleep. What can I do?

Your child has had a busy day, just like you. He/she needs to be able to have time with you to talk and share the day, but try not to over-stimulate him/her. Have a consistent routine for bedtime, ending the day with low-key activities. He/she needs to know that he/she is not missing anything. Make sure that you balance the week with activities with him/her on weekends.

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My child is very shy. Is this typical?

  • Some children are born with a predisposition toward shyness and inhibition. They are usually temperamentally slow to warm up to strangers. Most shyness is temporary in each new situation; however, shy children often tend to be somewhat shy as adults.
  • Allow time for your shy child to observe each new situation or person.
  • Do not force interaction, but when your child feels more comfortable, draw him or her into interacting by doing so yourself.
  • Remain near to your child until he/she feels comfortable.
  • Never make fun of or scold a child for being shy.
  • Some children prefer playing alone or with one or two friends, but this does not mean they are overly shy.
  • It is important that children are able to tell you when they want to play with others and when they want to play alone.
  • If the situation calls for playing with others, you can:
    • Prepare your child by telling him or her what is expected or about to happen.
    • Provide play situations that require cooperation such as pulling and riding in a wagon.
    • Remind children of previous successes.
    • Help your child feel confident in what he/she does.
  • If you think your child's shyness is extreme, speak with your child's early care and education teacher or doctor.


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My child often plays with imaginary friends. Is this okay?

  • Perhaps a third to a half of young children have imaginary friends. For the most part children invent imaginary companions who are friendly, warm and comforting. Children know that they are pretend but treat them as if they were real.
  • Imaginary friends often represent the ideal companion, one who listens a lot and makes few demands. Some imaginary playmates help children meet challenges and struggles to become independent and gain mastery over tasks and skills. This builds self-confidence.
  • Imaginary companions leave the scene when the child outgrows the need for them. This usually happens matter-of-factly, without any upset or drama.

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Tantrums! What can I do about them?

  • Tantrums are a relatively normal response that all young children have to situations that make them unhappy or angry. It is only when tantrums are very frequent, on going and extreme that you need to worry.
  • Determine if the tantrum is temperamental or manipulative in which the child deliberately throws a fit to get his or her own way, or if there is a real serious problem that needs your attention.
  • Avoid falling into a battle of wills. That's a "lose-lose" scenario.
  • Allow a tantrum to "run its course." When the tantrum is over, get on with what it was you were doing. A short comment is sufficient to signal the end of the tantrum.
  • Some children are exhausted after tantrums and need to rest. Give them an opportunity to do this.
  • Some children are scared by their outburst and may need reassurance that everything is all right after their tantrum. A hug and explanation that Mommy and Daddy loves them will reassure them that life as they know it has not been damaged by their tantrum.
  • When your child can't help it, as might be the case with a temper tantrum, the best tactic is sympathy, understanding and firmness. "I know you are upset and want to throw things, but I'm going to hold you until you feel better."
  • Listen to your child and help him develop skills to use instead of resorting to tantrum behavior.


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What affects my baby's behavior?

Babies (Birth to 12 months)

Each child is a unique human being. There are some consistent behaviors that are observed in newborns. Harvard pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., has studied and written extensively about newborn behavior and has described three basic types of babies. The following is a summary of behaviors and no baby's behavior fits exactly into one type of behavior. What is important for parents to remember is that these patterns are all inborn variations of normal behavior, not the result of child-rearing techniques. Parents of young infants should use these as a guide to understand the newborn and how to establish a daily routine and interactions that are responsive to the infant's behavior and growing needs.

Quiet babies sleep a lot -- up to 18 hours a day, even while nursing. They may sleep through the night very early and sleep through feedings. They fuss or cry about an hour each day and may communicate their needs quietly by sucking their hands or wriggling in their cribs.

Active newborns sleep about 12 hours a day and spend the rest of the day crying and fussing. They are extremely sensitive to the environment, arouse easily and are slow to calm down. When they are hungry or upset, everyone knows it. They are intense at times when they are nursing on the breast or bottle -- clamping down hard, gulping or swallowing air, then burping back part of whatever went down.

Average babies fall into the middle, sleeping 15 or more hours each day and crying and fussing about three hours a day. They are able to calm themselves down and back to sleep if aroused. They let you know when they are hungry, but settle down after they are fed.

Your baby's behavior is a combination of nature and nurture. Babies come into this world with characteristics, of which you are aware from the first days after birth. The way you interact with your baby and your relationship with that baby is crucial to the way behavior develops.

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What should I know about toddlers and tantrums?

A tantrum is an uncontrolled outburst -- an expression of rage and temper that usually lasts several minutes. Some children scream, kick, stamp their feet, or even throw themselves dramatically to the ground. The peak age for a tantrum is 15 to 36 months. Most 2 year olds have at least one tantrum per week, but they grow out of them. When your toddler wants something, he/she wants it now and can't understand the reason why he/she has to wait. A little patience can go a long way in reducing the number of tantrums that occur. When your child does have a tantrum, make sure that he/she comes to no harm. Try not to get upset. You are more mature and intelligent -- remain that way. If you are at home when the tantrum occurs, turn your back on him/her or leave the room for a short time. Most often, the tantrum will stop because he/she does not have an audience. Make sure that your toddler understands that you will talk to him/her when he/she calms down. When your child calms down, hug and reassure him/her.

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Why do children have temper tantrums?

Temper tantrums are a part of normal child development -- a child’s way of communicating by grabbing your attention. Tantrums can result from over-stimulation, hunger, boredom, tiredness or sickness. Tantrums often begin around 2 years of age and can last until 5 or longer. Tantrums show your child’s emerging independence and is a sign your child is growing up. Babies entering the toddler stage want more control over their lives. They want to do things for themselves and make their own decisions. These are not always the best decisions; hence, an adult must guide to teach self-control.

Note these points about temper tantrums:

  • Try not to yell at or hit your child. Remain calm and talk in a soothing voice. This will help your child regain self-control.
  • Acknowledge your child’s feelings. Being heard and understood helps your child regain control.
  • Be consistent. Help establish independence by responding to your child in predictable ways.
  • Many tantrums can be ignored. When possible, be firm and don’t give in. This will help your child understand limits. Once the child has calmed down, you can comfort and talk with your child.
  • Have realistic expectations of your child. For example, don’t expect your active 3 year old to sit for a long time in a restaurant.
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Why does my child bite?

It is age-appropriate for children between 2-4 years to bite. Some children hit, some pull hair, some push and others bite. There are many reasons why a child will bite. By tuning into the child, you can pinpoint the reason and help the child learn more acceptable behaviors.


Young children are learning how to express themselves. Biting sends a strong signal about something the child is trying to say.

  • Help these children by giving them appropriate words to use instead of biting.


Children learn through their five senses. Biting is another way to explore the world.
  • Help these children by redirecting to them to appropriate alternatives.

Cause and effect:

Some young children might not realize biting hurts. A child might bite just to see what will happen.

  • Help these children by explaining the connection between the pain and the bite.


Biting is a quick way to become the center of attention, even if it is negative attention.

  • Help these children by giving attention when the child is showing appropriate behaviors.


A child might see other children biting and decide to try it.

  • Help these children being mindful of the limits.


Young children regularly assert their independence. Biting can be a quick way to get a toy or make another child move.

  • Help these children by modeling alternative behaviors to get the same result.


Some children bite because other children have bitten or shown aggression toward them.

  • Help these children by being consistent in your responses; do not let the aggressor get away with the act.


Some children bite because their molars are coming in and biting relieves the pressure and pain.

  • Help these children by providing appropriate teething toys for biting.
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Why won't my baby go to sleep as easily as before?

Your baby is able to stay awake on purpose at around eight months of age even when he/she is tired. Another reason is that sometime between six and ten months most babies go through a period of not wanting to be without their mother and can become very clingy. That is why it is a good idea to put your baby into his/her crib at night while he/she is still awake.

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