6 Tips For Living With Toddler
By Marla Cimini
Most new parents quickly realize their brand new infant does not come with an instruction manual or directions of any kind. Adorable and cute, yes, but a bit complex at best, and a source of frustration for moms and dads who are desperate to learn the ropes.
Enter parenting consultant and South Jersey native Blythe Lipman. A seasoned expert, she decided to share her child-rearing advice by compiling her insights to understanding and raising babies.
She is author of three books, “Help! My Baby Came Without Instructions,’’ “More Help . . . My Baby Came Without Instructions’’ and, most recently, “Help! My Toddler Came Without Instructions,’’ which was published earlier this year.
Growing up in Millville, Lipman attended Culver Elementary School, Memorial Junior High and graduated from Millville Senior High School. Sparked as pre-teen, her interest in child development took flight as she watched area children in the area for extra cash. “I was always the favorite neighborhood babysitter starting at age 11 in Millville,’’ says Lipman. “I made 25 to 50 cents per hour! There were two families in Millville that would try and beat each other to get me to sit for them each weekend and they were neighbors. I never let on that it was a ‘beat the clock’ to Blythe. I always took books, crafts and games to do with the children. They got a lot for 25 cents an hour! And I loved both families.”
In addition to babysitting, she enjoyed writing at an early age. “I always loved to write and my friends would shake their heads in awe when I had an English paper due in high school. I would always get As but most times, write it the night before.”
Lipman also credits her younger cousins for her first childcare experiences, and her grandparents for teaching her how to relate to people, peers and customers. They owned a store, called Freedman’s Shoes, which was located in Millville for 60 years. She recalls her grandfather handing out little toys to all the children who came into the store for shoes. “He always let me hand out the toys and taught me about giving back, having manners and helping people . . . His tagline was, ‘It’s Nice To Be Nice.’ Three to four generations of families shopped at his store and he always remembered their names and things about their families.”
Lipman attended Boston University to become a teacher, although returned to Millville every vacation and worked in the shoe store in between babysitting jobs. While at school, she volunteered in the neo-natal intensive care unit at Women’s Lying-In Hospital (now called Brigham Women’s Hospital).
“Spending time with the little 3-pound preemies truly helped me to see my calling . . . helping parents gain the confidence they needed and to trust their instincts while enjoying their little miracle.”
Now living in Arizona, Lipman has taught in several preschools, and has designed special infant and toddler rooms featuring state-of-the-art toys, books and music to enhance children’s developmental growth.
Throughout her career working with parents, infants and toddlers, she realized that most parents might benefit from an “instruction book” of some kind.
Lipman’s first book was born though her daycare experiences, and many conversations with parents who needed guidance along the way.
“There are great child-rearing books out there, but most are not easy or user-friendly. I created my book to be in list-format and it is available on iTunes, so it is simple for parents to find topics and tips without paging through chapters. And although every tip won’t work for every child, I have everything listed so the tips are easy to find quickly.”
Discovering there are a lot of child development myths out there, Lipman wanted to clear up a few misconceptions in her book as well.
“Everyone thinks that age 2 is the worst for children’s behavioral issues, because they are becoming more independent each day,’’ she says. “The truth is, every toddler develops at a different pace. Some children experience this at age 1, and others at age 3. It completely depends on the child.”
Lipman added, “It’s great when both moms and dads take an active interest in their child’s development. After all, parents are the best role models of all.”
Cherry Hill resident Diana Hennefer, mom of 2-year-old Chase, has read portions of Lipman’s books, and agrees with her overall parenting style.
“Lipman’s advice is common sense and she even says that every ‘solution’ doesn’t work for every kid — you have to know your child and treat them accordingly,” Hennefer says.
“She mentions the importance of giving toddlers choices as they start to assert their independence. For example, I can ask my son if he wants to wear a red or blue shirt, and not to lose your cool when you’re disciplining them. I think this is great advice — parents need to allow their children to grow and develop into their own person while still maintaining order and discipline.
“There are some behaviors that are absolutely unacceptable every time,” Hennefer says. “Beyond that, kids should be free to explore their world and grow and develop in their own ways. This is the attitude that my husband, Bob, and I have toward Chase, and so far it’s working for us and for him — he’s a healthy, well-adjusted, self confident and mostly well-behaved 2 year old.”
Here are a few of Lipman’s tips for coexisting — and thriving — with your toddler:
1. Tantrums: Whisper in the toddler’s ear or simply walk away.
2. Eating: I don’t recommend making separate dinners for every family member. Older toddlers often are more inclined to taste something new if they can be involved in “making” the meal, no matter how simple.
3. Bad behavior: Redirect an unwanted behavior by suggesting another activity. “Can you draw a picture for me? Do you want to play with this red truck? I know you love the color red.” Distraction works great with most toddlers.
4. Sleeping: Once toddlers realize they can get out of bed on their own, they don’t want to stay put. I recommend using a kitchen timer to keep the little one in bed for a pre-determined period of time.
5. Aggressive behavior: (such as not sharing with others): I suggest a “toy” time-out box, where the toy in question goes away for a little while, while the toddler calms down.
6. Fear of bedtime: A spray bottle filled with “monster spray” (water) often does the trick.
Lipman’s book also includes kid-friendly recipes (check out the Edible Race Car), advice for being the “best grandparent ever,” and lots of suggestions for “Mommy, I’m Bored.”
For More Information: Blythe Lipman’s latest book, “Help! My Toddler Came Without Instructions,’’ sells for $14.95 and is available in bookstores, Amazon.com and on iTunes.
Call her office to schedule a phone or in-home appointment – 480-510-1453.