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6 Tips for Ages ‘Zero to Five’ from Parenting Expert Tracy Cutchlow

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Parenting expert (formerly the editor at Brain Rules for Baby) and writer Tracy Cutchlow just wrote the coolest–and easiest–book for new parents. I’m just going to let her tell you about it herself in the helpful essay she wrote below:

How many times have you thought, “What am I supposed to do with this kid now? Why is he or she doing that?” You have a stack of parenting books, but they’re too overwhelming, and you never seem to get through them. Who has time with babies in the house? I created a helpful and simple guide with my new book, Zero to Five: 70 Essential Parenting Tips Based on Science (and What I’ve Learned So Far).

I’ve created a different kind of parenting book—one you’ll actually have time to read. I organized the information so there is one tip per page. I used beautiful photographs of real families. You don’t even have to hold the book! It lays flat because it’s spiral bound.

Zero to Five is the book I wish I’d had when I was pregnant. I focus on baby’s first 5 years. Here’s a taste of the tips below. I’ve written one tip for each age group:

Age 0: Envision baby all grown up
I know, you’re busy envisioning baby’s kissable cheeks and chubby thighs. But this is worth stopping to think about: What kind of person do you hope baby will be? A good communicator, loving partner, calm problem-solver? Write these things down. Guiding baby toward that vision is the real task of parenting. And—bummer—it likely requires that we change, too, to better model our values for baby.

Age 1: When tots snatch toys, be direct
“You need to share,” we often implore our 18-month-olds. “Can you share?” Well, no. Not if you put it that way. At 18 months, toddlers haven’t yet developed the ability to guess at another person’s unstated wishes. (It’s called Theory of Mind.) They need very explicit instructions: “Your friend would like a turn. Can you hand her the toy?”

Age 2: Include baby
Find yourself saying, “No, don’t do that,” and, “No, don’t touch that” all day long?” See what happens when you say, “Yes.” For example, try something like this: “Mommy’s using a screwdriver to fix the knob on dresser. Would you like to help? OK, I’m going to hold it with you. We turn to the right…” Our small daily tasks provide plenty of intellectual stimulation and connection with baby. Yep, quality time can mean taking out the garbage together.

Age 3: Call a calm-down, not a time-out
Time-outs seem easy. Until you find yourself lecturing for three minutes while your kid repeatedly escapes from the time-out spot. Learn a better way in this quick slideshow:

Age 4: Preserve preschoolers’ naps
Keep up that nap routine. In one study, preschoolers who got an afternoon nap scored higher than non-nappers on memory tests—even tests taken the next morning. Researchers then swapped which children napped and which didn’t. Same result. Their theory: Kids’ short-term memory is limited, and the sleep allows for more frequent memory consolidation.

Age 5: Hold weekly family meetings
Wasted food after dinner–that was the topic of discussion at the Natkin family’s weekly meeting. Their brainstorming session yielded a funny solution that worked. They suggested, “Let’s weigh the food!” Who came up with the idea? The children. “Going through this process together as a family,” Sarina Natkin says, “does so much more to shift behavior than me saying, ‘This is what’s going to happen.’”

Set aside one time each week for a family meeting, and plan a fun activity afterward. Ask three questions: What went well in our family this week? What could have gone better? What will we work on this week? Make sure everyone gets their say—for problems and solutions.

What's Your Parenting Style?
What's Your Parenting Style?
What's Your Parenting Style?

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