Blog Posts by Parents.com

  • Teach Your Child to Love a Sport

    Girl with a baseball batWhat you need to know so that your budding athlete always feels like a winner.

    By Cynthia Hanson

    It didn't take long for my son to find his bliss. At 2, Eric loved taking swimming classes. By 3, when I gave him the choice of going to the pool or playing at the park the water always won. By his fourth birthday he could swim basic freestyle and rudimentary butterfly. Eric is 8 now and he's still at it -- the first one in the pool at the start of team practice and the last one out at the end. Not only does swimming bring him joy and keep him fit, but his teammates are also his best buds, and he's learned how to win (and lose) with dignity.

    Like Eric, many children today are introduced to a variety of sports before they learn to read. A few years ago, he tried different sports (soccer, baseball, basketball) at day camp and in casual classes. Swimming simply rose to the top over the others, although he also enjoys tennis and golf when it's not swim season. He's right on schedule, say

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  • 10 Ways to Say "No" Without Saying No

    Toddler having a tantrumTelling your toddler "no" is one of the easiest forms of discipline, but it isn't always the most effective. Here are 10 better ways to get your tot to listen.

    By Mike Mitchell

    There are better ways to deny, deter, or discipline your child than always saying "no." Aside from the obvious exhaustion -- for both parent and child -- some parenting experts believe that saying "no" too much can breed resentment or plant seeds for future rebellion. According to Audrey Ricker, Psy.D., co-author of Backtalk: 4 Steps in Ending Rude Behavior in Your Kids, using "no" too often can desensitize a child to its meaning, so save the word for life-threatening situations instead. Use short, clear and concise phrases to explain why your toddler shouldn't do something. Try these 10 short sentences to substitute for "no."

    "I know you like ice cream, but eating too much is not good."
    David Walsh, Ph.D., author of No: Why Kids -- Of All Ages -- Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It, suggests that

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  • April Fools! 4 Pranks to Delight the Whole Family

    Boy with big popsicleFor April 1 -- or any day your crew is in need of a laugh -- check out this collection of pranks, props, and tricks. They're wacky enough to tickle an entire family of fools. We mean that in the nicest possible way, of course.

    By Catherine Newman

    1. A Micro Meal
    To generate big belly laughs, present your kids with this Lilliputian lunch. Line a small empty matchbox with foil or parchment paper (so that the food can actually be eaten, if desired). With a glue stick, attach a 2- by 4-inch piece of decorative paper around the exterior. For the handle, squeeze a drop of tacky glue onto each end of a 1-inch length of pipe cleaner and adhere it to one side of the box as shown. Finally, pack it with a teensy lunch.

    Sandwich: With a sharp knife, cut little triangles of bread, lunch meat, and lettuce, then stack them.

    Doughnut: Frost the top of an O-shaped cereal piece and sprinkle it with nonpareils.

    Carrot: Slice a bit of carrot into miniature carrot sticks.

    Raisins: Chop a raisin into tiny

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  • Parents, Stop Fearing Video Games

    Boys Playing Video GamesDo video games have an upside? Scott Steinberg, an author and technology analyst who's written for 400+ outlets from Parents and CNN to The New York Times and Rolling Stone, tells me that they do. Here he discusses 3 surprising things he believes parents should know about video games.

    By Richard Rende

    1. They're not evil, destructive, or going away. Besides being a perfectly normal and positive part of childhood, mounting research shows that gaming can have tremendous mental and physical benefits for children. But like any other part of a balanced media diet, you have to be careful what types of titles you consume, in what manner and to which extent. The one tip today's parent concerned with video games and their potential effects on children would do well to heed: Educate yourself about them, and don't be afraid to go hands-on with the controller. Games can be a powerful force for good, like any other medium -- but you also need to make informed decisions, teach kids positive play

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  • Do's and Don'ts of Natural Childbirth

    NewbornBirthing your child without drugs isn't easy, but it is possible. Follow these guidelines to up your chances of having a successful natural birth.

    By Berit Thorkelson

    I was determined to have my first child naturally, and I almost made it. I reached my goal with the birth of my second child, when I delivered her completely drug-free. It wasn't easy, and I did a lot of work to prepare for it, but the experience was incredibly rewarding. If you and your healthcare provider decide that a natural birth is right for you, try these mom-tested tips for success.

    DO find a supportive practitioner. You'll need a healthcare provider who's supportive of the many nuances of natural birthing, including avoiding induction and pain medication, and laboring beyond the bed. "Look for a midwife or doctor who is just as invested as you are in having your baby naturally," advises Maria Lorillo, Licensed Midwife (LM), Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) at wisewomanchildbirth.com, in San Francisco. "She

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  • 8 Ways to Help Kids Ace Tests

    Mom Helping Daughter with HomeworkDoes your child need help with taking exams? Follow these tips to help your kid be a whiz at pop quizzes and tests.

    By Lora Shinn

    Tests are one method for a teacher to gauge what her students know (and need to know), but tests aren't just for the teachers. By taking tests, children learn solid study skills, learn from errors, and learn how to handle the unknown (like pop quizzes) in an academic setting. Through practice and preparation, children will feel equipped and ready to handle tests -- without feeling the need to cheat. They will also be less afraid of failure or mistakes because they'll rely on their own abilities and put in their best efforts. Try these test taking strategies for kids to smooth the transition between learning and recall, schoolwork and test day. Soon enough, your child will become a master of test taking.

    Talk to the Teacher
    Teachers often offer a study guide for the test, outlining the format and the featured information. If you haven't received a study

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  • Crying Cures: Parent-Tested Sob Stoppers

    Crying BabyYour baby's having a bawl. You're not. How can you calm him down? Try these ingenious ideas from moms and dads.

    By Michelle Crouch

    It's the end of a long day, and your baby is crying. Actually, wailing is more like it, and his shrieks are draining your very last ounce of patience. You've fed him, swayed him, and sung his favorite lullaby, all to no avail. Why is he so miserable?

    First, a little perspective: Crying is a baby's primary form of communication. "However, infants sometimes cry for no apparent reason, and that can be perfectly normal, especially between 1 and 3 months of age," says Parents advisor Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D., a pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital. So if your little one has been fed, burped, and changed, is warm and comfortably dressed, and still won't stop, don't waste a lot of energy trying to figure out what's wrong. Simply focus on getting him to calm down. We've asked parents to reveal the sob stoppers they turn to when all else fails.

    Soothing

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  • How to Raise a Kid Who Won't Give Up

    Dad and Daughter ReadingThe real secret to success is not getting frustrated when things seem tough. These ideas will inspire your child to try, try again.

    By Leah Kaplan

    "You can do it!" "Don't give up!" "Keep going!"

    What parent hasn't shouted these time-tested words of encouragement as her child tries to take his first steps, learn to use the potty, or read on his own? Kids confront challenges, big and small, every day. And a growing body of research suggests that perseverance, the ability to stick with tough tasks, may even trump innate ability in predicting how successful kids will be in life. In a series of landmark studies involving elite performers across diverse fields such as music, sports, and medicine, K. Anders Ericsson, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Florida State University, in Tallahassee, found that individual achievement was more closely linked to drive, discipline, and dedication than to talent. But what if you happen to be raising a child who's easily frustrated -- like my 4-year-old

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  • 7 Weird IPhone Apps for Moms

    Pregnant Woman on CouchThere are a lot of helpful apps for new moms and preggos -- and then there are these. Guess there truly is an app for everything!

    Jessie Wohlgemuth

    Pregnancy Test
    No need to urinate, ladies. Just stick your thumbs on the screen and this app lets you know if you've got a bun in the oven. You can even get an ultrasound by rubbing your phone against your belly to see if you've got a girl, a boy, triplets, or an alien. Disclaimer: Results not accurate.
    ($0.99; iPhone, iPod touch, iPad)

    Kick to Pick
    Set the screen to a list of either male or female names (though don't be surprised if "Ann" pops up as a boy's name!), lie down, put your phone on your belly, and let your baby's kicks determine his or her name. Sounds like a fun idea -- like an updated version of flipping a coin. Caveats: You can't add names to the list, so if you want your baby to decide between Beyoncé and Shakira, you're out of luck. According to one reviewer, the app also works if you put it on a man's belly.
    ($0.99;

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  • Make a Leap Day Birthday Special

    Birthday Boy with CupcakeWas your child born on February 29? Since Leap Day only comes once every four years, make sure it's a memorable event for your little one.

    By Linda DiProperzio

    Let your child know how special this date is
    Only one in 1,461 people are born on Leap Day (February 29), with about 200,000 across the country and 4 million worldwide. So the mere act of being born on this day is exceptional, and you want your child -- and possibly everyone else -- to know it. "A birthday lawn sign or an ad in the local paper honoring your child's unique day is a fun shout-it-out-to-the-world way to pay special attention," says event planner Leesa Zelken, CEO of Send in the Clowns in Los Angeles.

    You can also put the spotlight on your Leap Day little one by making her a special button, T-shirt, or cap to wear on the day. This way, everywhere she goes people will be sure to stop to wish her a happy birthday!

    Get inspired by "leap"!
    Playing off the word "leap" to come up with your child's birthday party theme

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