Toddler Development

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    Picture this: You're sitting down for dinner with your family and your child uses all of his strength to pull up an extra chair. He says, "Here you go, Tommy. Do you want some salad?"

    Only, there's no Tommy. There's no one in that chair. But, hey, good for you for offering him some salad, kid. What's a mom supposed to say or do when her kid starts talking to an imaginary friend? Is it normal?

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    She's only 3, but I can already tell my daughter is a wild child. It's possible she will run off and live in a commune for a year when she's 18. She'll probably play guitar in a band, write songs about death, and inspire concerned English teachers to call me every week. She's going to be attracted to the class clowns and the boys who wear cologne at age 12. It's entirely possible she'll give my husband a heart attack before she's out of her teens.

    Believe it or not, I've made peace with most of these possibilities. All I ask in return -- the ONLY thing I ask in return -- is that she appreciates, no, LOVES school.

    So far, so good. She just started nursery school and, literally, claps her hands when she wakes up and discovers it is one of the three days when she gets to carry her princess lunch bag like a big kid. And, in true psycho-mom fashion, I am seizing upon this once-in-a-lifetime moment by forcing my child to do homework assignments I create for her.

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  • Health Check

    Are Toy Cellphones Bad for Kids?

    posted by Judy Dutton September 18 at 9:00 AM in Toddler
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    Given how often parents are glued to their cellphones, it makes sense that their toddlers would want one, too -- and that toy cellphones have exploded in popularity. Some models teach numbers, others sing songs.

    Yet some parents worry that this isn't just harmless play but could be setting their kids up for trouble down the road. After all, we're constantly being warned to monitor our kids' connection to the digital world and limit screen time. But don't throw out that plastic phone yet.

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    A quick haircut or a beard trim may not sound like a big deal to the average adult. All you're doing is polishing up your mug, really. Totally normal. But to your child, the way you look is intrinsic to who you are, so as soon as you change that hair color or completely rework your facial hair, the Mom or Dad they've known since they were born is gone. So when one dad decided to surprise his daughter by shaving his beard during a peekaboo game (catching the whole thing on video), we're not at all surprised she freaked.

    And we mean seriously freaked. What started out as an innocent towel peekaboo game suddenly turned into a delirious screaming fit. You have to see it for yourselves:

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    It starts with a piece of candy every time they use the potty, followed by an ice cream every week they clean their room ... then pizza for every "A" they get in school. Using food as a reward for good behavior is common -- and effective! Yet experts warn that parents weave a tangled web when they offer edible treats as incentives.

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    Sssshhhhh ... don't tell anyone ... but my four-year-old son is a mad humper. Seriously, he has Ron Jeremy-like stamina. I would be willing to bribe him with a freaking candy store to make him stop at this point. His horrifying habit makes me doubt the name I lovingly gave him at birth. Alexxx James sounds like a pornstar moniker to me now. What's a mom to do?

    I am not exaggerating. He breaks into a sweat. His eyes roll back in his head at times. He goes at it on the couch, in his bed ... even the floor if he gets the urge. And my pediatrician says I need to ignore his mad humping so I don't ruin his sexuality forever. No pressure!

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    My 4-year-old son feels pressure to be tough, masculine ... a little man's man. How did this happen?

    Case in point: He recently fell and cut his knee in the mall parking lot. There was blood and floppy skin ... even harsh sand nestled in the crevices of the cut. It was definitely cry-worthy. I expected him to wail, but he visibly restrained himself. A random guy gave my son an appreciative head nod in solidarity and said, "Don't worry, mom. He's a tough guy. He won't cry." And my son responded, "No way. I don't cry!" And then there was a high-five ... and a fist-bump ... and an "Atta boy!"

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    As "mom" to both a rat terrier and a 4 year old, I am often amazed by the similarities between the two. They both love balls, and possess zero table manners. Plus they're constantly doing things they shouldn't be doing, then giving me this innocent look like "Who, me?" Given all they had in common, I got to wondering whether dog trainers could teach parents how to raise well-behaved kids.

    Turns out they had plenty of tips that applied perfectly to little humans, too. Yes, that's right, dog trainers can help you raise your kids:

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    Megan Fox recently called her son Bodhi a "beast." No, she wasn't being cruel -- she was being honest. Fox says she discovered her 6-month-old is in the 95th percentile for height and weight after a recent trip to the doctor, prompting her to reveal that she has an "enormous child."

    Now, if you can relate to Fox's situation, you know there isn't anything wrong with having a big baby or child. In fact, strangers will often marvel at your child's size and make comments that always include the words "healthy" and "wow!" But those of us whose children are NOT dainty little China dolls also know it isn't always easy raising a "beast."

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    Long ago, when I was a younger, much more naïve mom, I stared in disdain at parents pushing strollers stuffed with too old kids. By "too old," I mean the kids’ legs were so long, their sneakers nearly dragged along the sidewalk. “Isn’t that kid old enough to walk?” I’d opine to my husband, who’d agree with gusto. We vowed we’d stroller wean our daughter early. She'd walk everywhere!

    Then, of course, our daughter grew ... then one day, soon after her 4th birthday, she was THAT kid, stuffed in our Maclaren, sneakers dragging on the sidewalk. What happened?

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