• Parenting Program for Parents with Toddlers

  • Introduction.

    As a parent of two wonderful children and now grandparent of five precious grandchildren and a parent educator for over thirty years, I felt it was time to give back to the community many of the inspiring ideas that I have learned throughout my career.  The following Parenting Program for Parents with Toddlers is designed to help create a positive parent/child relationship.

    The first six years of life is a time of rapid growth and learning for your child.  During this time you can influence your toddler by creating a positive relationship with them and a foundation of inner strength based on love, trust and understanding.  You will be creating a special bond as they learn to calm and relax, love and accept themselves and others, and believe in their dreams.

    • What do you want for your toddler?

    When I asked parents in my parenting programs what they wanted for their toddler, parents consistently said they wanted them to be happy. If a happy toddler is one of your priorities, then this program is for you.

    Research in the field of epigenetics is now proving that when you are in a happy, nurturing and caring environment, your body chemistry produces growth hormones that flow through your body creating a nourishing environment for your cells and organs. During the first six years your child is continuously learning from every experience and relationship interaction.  Neural connections within the brain are being wired with each new learning experience.  Your toddler is developing perceptions and core beliefs based on how they feel about themselves.  Am I loved?  Can I trust?  Are my needs being met?  Can I relax in your love?  Do I belong? Through repetition of each experience and interaction the neural connections are strengthened.  These neural connections form the foundation for thinking, reasoning, language skills, behavior and physical movement.

    • Self-Awareness Activities.

    This Parenting Program for Parents with Toddlers is designed to follow the eleven delightful stories from the storybook, “Beaming Bright, You’re a Shining Light.”  Each story follows a theme which will be expanded upon with specific activities chosen from the 101 self-awareness activities in the, “Beaming Bright, You’re a Shining Light Lesson Plans” for parents, caregivers and teachers.

    The, “Beaming Bright, You’re a Shining Light” storybook offer parents, caregivers and toddlers many heartfelt moments.  Every story is designed to make parenting easier as you build positive relationships and experiences with your toddler.

    Toddlers have various learning styles. Some will enjoy having their book read to them with lots of enthusiasm and playful interaction by parents and caregivers, while others have a shorter attention span.  These toddlers will love hearing the stories on the CD with the musical compositions.  Enjoy!

    • What do we know about learning?

    Advertisers learned long ago that we learn through repetition.  This is why advertisers pay to have the same commercial run over and over again on TV and social media networks.

    As parents nurture, play and meet their toddlers many needs their toddler will feel comforted, safe and happy.  This is how your toddler will learn to trust.

    Enjoy having eye contact with your toddler to connect with them.  Bend down to your child’s eye level when you are talking with them.  Toddlers observe and interpret the feeling and meaning of their parent’s facial expressions. Hugging a toddler, cuddling up with them in a chair, or rubbing their back are some of the ways a parents’ loving touch gives toddlers a sense of belonging.

    Toddlers learn by observing their parents behavior, attitudes and responses.

    Toddlers look to their parents for a smile to know that what they are doing is OK.  If their parents look shocked they will know that something is not OK.  They are constantly observing and creating perceptions about their experiences with the significant people in their lives, when they are with their friends and when they are out in the community.

    Parenting Program for Parents with Toddlers.

    It is suggested that parents concentrate on only one activity per week.  In this way you can integrate the parenting concepts easily and effortlessly.  You will then benefit by creating even stronger connections with the loved ones in your life.

  • Breathing Free Story. The theme for this story is, “I can calm and relax myself.”

    Create the habit of taking a deep breath in and then very slowly breathing out whenever you are upset.  This will calm and relax your body and release serotonin, offering feelings of well-being and happiness.  As you consistently self-soothe yourself during upsetting moments you will be creating new neural connections within your brain. Once calm, you will be able to think more clearly and make better choices.  This will benefit you every day of your life with all your relationships.

    As parent’s model self-soothing skills their toddler will experience the immediate benefit of being in a calm and nurturing environment that helps toddlers to regulate their emotional behavior.

    Within this toddler program I encourage parents to listen to their toddler and acknowledge all their feelings.  As you listen patiently to what your toddler is saying, and respond by being supportive, kind, yet firm at times, you will experience a wonderful connected relationship with your toddler.

    If you are interested in improving your communication skills I highly recommend the following books as they have been a wonderful resource for me for many years.  Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish author of, “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” and, “Siblings Without Rivalry.”

    Modeling Activity.

    This activity will provide a model for your toddler to learn from and practice.  Bring it to your toddlers’ attention whenever you feel somewhat upset or stressed.  The more this activity is reinforced, the sooner it will become an automatic response for you.  This is a skill you will benefit from throughout your life as well as your toddlers’ life.

    Whenever you feel upset or stressed, say to your toddler:

    • “I feel ….”
    • “I am going to take three slow, deep breaths to calm and relax myself.”
    • Encourage your toddler to breathe along with you.

    After a few moments ask your toddler:

    • “Do you notice me being more calm and relaxed?”
    • If yes, great!  If no, model again.

    When you have calmed down, say to your toddler:

    • “I can calm and relax myself.”

    We frequently teach what we want to learn.  Toddlers can be empowered to teach their mom, dad, siblings, friends, grandparents, teachers, favorite bear or action character how to breathe deeply to calm and relax, think clearly and make better choices.

    Slow Down Activity.

    The world today is moving very fast and this activity will help you and your toddler to self-regulate your emotional behavior.  Parents are encouraged to slow down so they can take the time to create a loving, connected relationship with their toddler.

    Toddlers who are the second, third or fourth child in a family will likely grow up in an active environment.  As you watch the flow of your family activities and you experience active times escalating, introduce a “quiet time” where you cuddle up and read a story to the children, or listen to calming music or enjoy a quieter activity.  This helps you and your toddler to self-regulate your emotional behavior.

    Make Faces In a Mirror Activity.

    This activity will help your toddler to recognize their own and others feelings.

    • Have fun making lots of different faces in front of a mirror.  Talk about feelings and name the feeling as you see happy, excited, sad or angry faces.  Always end this activity with funny faces.

    Bedtime Routine Activity.

    This activity is designed to help your toddler transition from evening to bedtime. Create a bedtime routine that involves fun.  Distract your toddler by giving fun choices and motivational statements that allow you to flow easily from one activity to the next.

    • “How do you want to get to the bathroom to brush your teeth?  Skipping, hopping or on your tippy toes?”
    • “What animal’s teeth are we cleaning tonight?”  Encourage your toddler to pick an animal.  Have fun brushing their bunny or puppy teeth.

    Once the teeth are cleaned you can motivate them to move onto the next activity by saying:

    • “As soon as you get dressed you can pick out a story.”
    • “Do you want to read one long story or two short stories?”

    As long as your toddler is willing, kisses and hugs for all family members.

    Children often have a special blanket or stuffed toy to snuggle and comfort them when they are in their bed. Bedtime is a time that toddlers recognize they will not be at your side.  Insecure feelings can surface at this time.  You can often lessen those feelings by connecting night time with the morning time.  Give your child something to look forward to.  Each night before you leave the room you might say something like:

    • “I’ll be dreaming about you tonight.”
    • “I am so looking forward to seeing you in the morning for breakfast.”
    • “We have a fun day planned for tomorrow, you will be ….”

    Some toddlers ask for a night light or a picture of you to have in their room to look at when you are not with them.  Giving your toddler a picture of you to take with them on overnight visits with extended family members is especially valuable.

    Insecure feelings may surface as you begin to leave the room.  Sometimes these feelings only surface when your toddler is alone in their room at night.  Being aware of this allows you to be patient and understanding if your toddler becomes upset or needing more of your time. If your toddler becomes upset you can model taking in deep breaths and letting them out slowly as your toddler expresses their upset.  As you lovingly breathe when your toddler is upset, you are creating an unspoken bond, which allows your toddler to know you love and support them unconditionally.  As parents stay calm, it also helps toddlers to remain calm.

    Once your toddler is calm and depending upon your toddlers’ communication skills, they may or may not be able to explain what their upset is about.  Ask in a gentle way:

    • “Can you tell me about what is happening?”

    Listen patiently to whatever they say, and acknowledge all their feelings.

    This experience will help your toddler to learn that it is safe to share their upset feelings with you.

    It is often helpful to encourage your toddler to pick out a special stuffed toy that they feel will protect them in their dreams and throughout the night. What works for one toddler may not work for another.  However, as parents try new approaches they will find one that works best.

    Relationship Challenge Activity.

    When the demands of the busy world along with daily challenges appear, stress and conflict can surface in a relationship.

    Whenever there is a conflict in your relationship many possible thoughts and feelings arise and at times result in disrespect towards one another.  Since we all recognize that we deserve to be respected and are doing the best we can, this is an opportunity to self-regulate your emotions.

    • Breathe, feel, acknowledge and accept all your feelings.
    • Ask yourself, “What do I want or need and why?”

    The dictionary meaning of respect is to be kind, caring, show consideration, recognized, valued, appreciated, complimented, cherished and treasured.

    • After being self-reflective, communicate your feelings in a gentle, respectful way as you ask for what you want.

    As parents improve their communication skills you will gain a deeper understanding of your own and others thoughts, feelings and emotions.  As you relate to what others are feeling you gain a sense of empathy and a deeper bond with one another.

  • Shining Light Story. The theme for this story is, “I am creative.”

    This story is about the power of the imagination.

    I have done many demonstrations with parents where they have imagined themselves biting into a juicy lemon.  The result was that many parents sensed the citrusy smell and experienced saliva coming into their mouth.  I have asked them, “How is this possible, we have only imagined a lemon and there is no lemon in this room?” The mind does not know the difference between a real or imagined event. Any time you use your imagination your mind thinks what you are imagining is real.

    I Am Creative Activity.

    This activity is about discovering your creativity as a parent and as a toddler.

    • Ask yourself, “When have I been creative?”

    You create a new look each day with the clothes you wear.  As you go through your day today, observe and discover the many moments that you create. Knowing your creativity will inspire you to use your imagination with your toddler.

    • Have fun using your imagination to create different sounds, rhymes and songs with your toddler.

    Toddlers are encouraged to become aware of their creativity.  Have fun reinforcing this activity in order to help them discover how they feel about what they uniquely create.  Through repetition, this activity helps toddlers learn they are creating every moment.  Eventually your child will take responsibility for their behavior by choosing to create moments that feel good.

    Whenever you notice a toddler being creative, bring it to their attention by saying:

    • “Look how creative you are!”

    Once your toddler has begun to understand and talk about their feelings ask them:

    • “How do you feel about what you have created?”

    Transition Time Activity.

    This activity motivates toddlers to help make daily transition experiences easier.

    Watch the flow of your family activities, when you experience active times escalating it’s the perfect time to introduce a “quiet time” where you cuddle up and read a story to your toddler, or listen to calming music or do a quieter activity.  This helps you and your toddler self-regulate your behavior.

    If you are visiting a friend, in order to model respect for your child, ensure that you are complete with your visit before announcing your transition time.  You may want to say something like:

    • “We are going to be leaving in ten minutes.  It’s time to finish up with what you are doing.”

    In five minutes start singing a clean-up song where everyone helps put the toys away.

    • Once clean-up is finished, “It’s time to get your shoes and coat on.”
    • “As soon as you are ready we can go to the playground.”

    Give your toddler something to look forward to by telling them where they will be going next.

    Building Energy Activity.

    This self –awareness activity helps toddlers, who are quiet and not physically active learn how to build their energy so that they feel more active and alive.

    Create a playful moment with your toddler as you jump up and down on the spot or dance with them to some upbeat music.  After doing this activity, talk with your toddler about how they can build up the energy in their body.

    • Ask your toddler, “What did you feel in your body while we were jumping or dancing?”

    Couple Team Activity.

    When it comes to your couple relationship, John Gottman, author of: “And Baby Makes Three” talks about couples creating a team environment in their relationship.  He suggests that couples work together as a “WE” instead of a “ME.”

    • What team experiences can you create with one another today?
  • Morning Sun Story. The theme for this story is, “What I focus on grows!”

    • What do I think about during the day?
    • Where do I focus my attention?
    • Do I notice more negative or positive experiences throughout my day?

    The reticular activating system in the brain functions whether we know about it or not.  It filters your thoughts, words and imagination bringing into your life whatever you are seeing, hearing, feeling, thinking about or believing.

    As adults learn about and understand the concept of, “What I focus on grows!” they can use this concept every day.  For example:

    • Think about a negative experience.
    • How do you feel?

    It is important to breathe, feel, acknowledge and accept all your feelings. There are many ways to heal and release old painful feelings and experiences.  Finding a way that works best for you is recommended.

    • Think about a positive experience.
    • How do you feel?

    Whatever you think about, feel or focus on will grow. As you focus on moments when you feel a connection with others and everyone is kind and caring, you will feel that experience and it will grow.

    Create Encouraging Moments Activity.

    This encouragement activity empowers toddlers to gain the courage to believe in their abilities and strengths.  It builds the parent/child relationship as you help your toddler to see themselves from a positive perspective.  Encouragement is the most effective way to create positive change in a toddler with behavioral challenges.

    It is well known that nonverbal communication makes up a large part of the way that we communicate consistently throughout the day.

    Here are a few non-verbal ways that you can encourage your toddler:

    • A gentle touch, a hug, a wink, a smile, a high five, and clapping.

    Inspiring your toddler with verbal encouragement helps them to see that their positive qualities and behavior is recognized and appreciated.  Ensure that you give your toddler lots of positive comments throughout their day.  Let them know all the positive things that you notice them doing.  Here are some examples:

    • “Look what you can do!”
    • “I noticed you playing with your friends and having lots of fun as you created roads with your cars and trucks.”
    • “When I said that we would be leaving in five minutes and that it was clean-up time, I noticed you listening to me.  Thank you.”
    • “I watched you pick up lots of toys as we sang the clean-up song.  That was fun.”
    • “I watched you look both ways and make eye contact with the driver of the car before we crossed the street.  You were being street smart.”

    Talk with your toddler about all the favorite things that you love doing with them and watch your loving feelings grow. As your toddler improves their language skills ask them questions about their opinions.  For example:

    • “What do you think about the picture that you painted?”

    While looking after the needs of your toddler it is important to keep your relationship alive.  You are teaching your toddler about relationships through your modeling.

    Connect and respond with kindness as you communicate with your partner and toddler.  It could be that you are sharing things you enjoy or asking for assistance.  Responding in playful ways creates a warm friendship and environment for you and your toddler.

    • Practice focusing on all the things that you love to do together as a family and then communicate those feelings to your partner and toddler often.

    What you focus on grows!

  • Flashing Light Story. The theme for this story is, “I choose to love myself.”

    I Choose To Love Myself Activity.

    This self-awareness activity encourages your toddler to love and accept themselves just the way they are.  As toddlers acknowledge and accept all the feelings they choose moment by moment, they will become more loving and accepting of themselves and others.

    Encourage your toddler to hug themselves at least once every day.

    As you are reading stories to your toddler, encourage them to point to the pictures of the children in the stories who are feeling happy, excited, sad or angry.

    • You can then say, “Yes, I agree with you.  I think that the little girl or boy is happy too.  They are smiling with such a big smile as they are playing with each other.”  If the child is sad or angry, talk about the pictures and say, “I think they might need a hug, what do you think?  Let’s give each other a hug for them.”

    As parents model love, you will be teaching your toddler to:

    • Be gentle, kind, caring and patient with yourself.  Love yourself just as you are.  See yourself from a loving perspective and be a cheerleader for yourself and others.
    • Listen to your body.  If you are feeling tired, rest when your toddler rests.
    • Learn to have empathy and compassion for yourself and others.
    • Ask for help and support when you need it.  Ask for a hug.  Huge amounts of oxytocin are released into the body when you are touched lovingly.
    • Recognize that you are always doing the best you can.  You are learning from each and every experience.

    Smile, enjoy and appreciate the precious moments that appear.

    Loving yourself is a choice that you make moment by moment.

  • Birds and Butterfly Story. The theme for this story is, “I appreciate nature.”

    Be a Bird or Butterfly Activity.

    This activity encourages your toddler to imagine what it would be like to be a bird or butterfly.  This experience will offer them a greater appreciation for nature’s gifts.  While standing in a large room or a wide open space outside, play with your toddler as they imagine being the following:

    • Imagine yourself flying, soaring and singing like a bird.  Show your toddler how to put out their arms and soar through the air as they sing like a bird.
    • Imagine yourself dancing like a butterfly.  Show your toddler how to flap their arms like a butterfly’s wings and dance like a butterfly.
    • Imagine being any animal you would like.  As you play with your toddler help them to move their body like various animals.

    I encourage parents to let go of the busy world and walk in nature with your toddler.  It is a wonderful family time as you hear the birds and other sounds of nature.  Smell the plants and trees and see the many gifts nature has to offer.

    Bend down and look at the little bugs and beetles as they crawl on the plants and ground.  Model being careful, by not stepping on the bugs and beetles.  It’s fun discovering all the many surprises that surround us in nature.

    When stress happens, breathe to relax and then go outdoors and watch what happens to the stress you were feeling in your body.

  • Sandcastle Dreams Story. The theme for this story is, “I believe in wishes and dreams.”

    Read to your toddler, “The Little Engine That Could” storybook written by Watty Piper.  This book reminds you that as you say, “I think I can, I think I can” you will be amazed what you can experience and accomplish.

    The little engine opened his heart to the children and offered his assistance even when he was unsure about his ability. This story encourages all who read it to focus on the words, “I think I can, I think I can” whenever you are approaching a challenge.

    The following questions offer an opportunity to think about our own thoughts, feelings and attitudes.

    • How do you think the little engine felt at the end of the story?
    • What attitudes do you wish to give to your toddler?
    • What wishes and dreams do you have?
    • Have fun thinking about a small dream and imagine it happening.
    • Write down your dream and look at it often.

    Believe in yourself, create an “I Can” attitude and see what happens.  As you gain personal experience having your wishes and dreams come true, you will be able to inspire your toddler.

  • Bubbles of Joy Story. The theme for this story is, “I am filed with joy.”

    Enjoy being in the moment with your toddler.  Cuddle them, play with them and have fun.  There are many distractions in life that can take you away from having joy filled moments.  However, as you focus on having joyful moments with your toddler you will be rewarded with an amazing, close relationship.

    Joyful, playful, fun experiences build relationships and are so important in our lives.

    • Make or buy some bubble solution and several different sized bubble wands.  Blow bubbles with your toddler.  Have fun blowing different size bubbles and watch your toddler smile and pop the bubbles.
    • If you put some of the soapy solution on their hands they will be able to catch a bubble on their hand without it popping.
    • Encourage your toddler to look at all the beautiful colors in the bubbles.

    When stress happens, joy is a wonderful stress releaser.  Move into a different environment, have some fun and watch what happens to the stress you were feeling in your body.

  • Rainbow Delight Story. The theme for this story is, “I feel my perfect wholeness.”

    In this story you are encouraged to focus your thoughts, feelings and imagination on feeling your perfect wholeness.

    I Feel My Perfect Wholeness Activity.

    This activity encourages toddlers to use their imagination to feel their perfect wholeness.  Athletic trainers have studied the concept of using imagery to enhance their athlete’s skills.  Health professionals throughout the world have also encouraged the use of imagery as part of the healing process for physically or emotionally challenged patients.  Ask the children to stand in a space where they have lots of room around them.

    • Shake your body and get all the wiggles out.
    • Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down.
    • Take a deep breath and let it out slowly.
    • Close your eyes.
    • Breathe and imagine you are floating on a fluffy cloud.  Feel your body becoming lighter and lighter.  Feel yourself floating along feeling more and more relaxed.
    • Breathe and imagine feeling your perfect wholeness from the top of your head to the tip of your toes.
    • Breathe and feel good about being you.
    • Breathe and wrap yourself in lots of love.
    • Breathe and imagine everyone wrapped in love feeling their perfect wholeness.
    • Breathe deeply, when you are ready, open your eyes.
  • Loving Yourself Story. The theme for this story is, “It’s OK to be different.”

    Appreciating your own similarities and differences allow you to love and accept yourself and others unconditionally.  As you do this you are learning it’s OK to have a different opinion or idea from someone else.

    Learn to believe in yourself, respect and appreciate yourself for who you are and others for who they are.  As you model these attitudes for your toddler, they will be learning to respect and appreciate themselves and others also!

    • Make a list of all the things that you appreciate about yourself and the significant people in your life.  What you focus on grows!

    It’s OK To Be Different Activity.

    This activity encourages toddlers to recognize they may feel different from one another and yet discover it’s OK to be different.

    • Show your toddler different colors, textures, flowers, birds, and trees.  Talk about all the different things that you see.
    • Take your toddler to different cultural events where they can experience the sights, sounds and smells of different foods relating to other cultures.  After being at this type of event, talk about all the different things you experienced.  Differences are all around us.  They offer spice to life.

    Good Things Happen Every Day Activity.

    This inspiring activity encourages you to be optimistic as you imagine good things happening every day.  This playful idea offers you an opportunity to create a positive belief about what happens in your life each day.  As you experience good things happening celebrate all these little experiences and watch this belief strengthen as you watch your optimism grow.

    • Talk with your toddler about good things happening every day.  As something unexpected shows up, which delights your toddler, celebrate with them.
    • Reinforce this unexpected event by talking about it at meal time or when you are tucking your toddler into bed.  You might say, “I wonder what good things will happen tomorrow.”  Also talk about these events with extended family and friends.
    • Make a list of all the good things that have happened for you over the last year or so.  Spend time thinking about all these good events.  What you focus on grows!
  • Shining Star Story. The theme for this story is, “I appreciate myself and others.”

    Shining Star Art Activity.

    The purpose of this activity is to encourage your toddler to feel like a Shining Star.

    • Supplies:
      • crayons, felts, paints or glitter glue
      • construction paper
      • age appropriate scissors
    • Ask your toddler to make a Shining Star.
    • Trace a large star shape in the middle of your paper.
    • Print your toddlers name in the middle of the star.
    • Ask your toddler to decorate their Shining Star.
    • Cut the Shining Star from the paper.
    • Take a picture of your toddler holding their Shining Star.

    Appreciation Activity.

    Feeling self-appreciation for who you are and what you do each day is very important.  This activity is wonderful for everyone.  However, if you ever feel that you are not being appreciated, this activity will help you to change that belief, feeling and experience.

    Create a moment as you put your toddler to bed at night and think about all the things that you appreciate about your day.  Tell your toddler what you appreciate about them; smile, laugh, etc.  If you are in a couple relationship talk about what you appreciated about your partner today and what you appreciated about others, even the grocery store clerk.  Remember to talk about what you appreciate about yourself also.  As you do this you will be modeling and teaching your toddler the value of appreciation.  Create this habit and you will experience appreciation in ways that amaze you.  What you focus on grows!

  • Playful Journeys Story. The theme for this story is, “I have discovered a lot about me.”

    I Am Lovable Art Activity.

    This activity reminds your toddler of their loving nature.

    • Supplies:
      • crayons, felts, paints or glitter glue
      • construction paper
      • age appropriate scissors
    • Fold a piece of paper in half.
    • Trace half of a large heart on the folded edge.
    • Cut out the half heart while the paper is still folded.
    • Open the heart.
    • Draw a picture of yourself on the heart.
    • Color and decorate your heart.

    This concept helps your toddler to strengthen their belief in their lovable, happy self.

    Epigenetics is now proving that when a toddler is in a supportive, nurturing and loving environment the cells in their body respond positively.

    What you focus on grows!  How you think and feel about yourself greatly influences how you act.

    Whenever you discover yourself beaming and shining, feel the freedom within you at that moment.

    As you practice these concepts they will become a part of your everyday life.  You will watch wonderful experiences happening for you and your toddler.

    All your relationships will benefit from these simple yet dynamic practices.

    You have now completed 12 self-awareness activities from the 101 activities in the Beaming Bright, You’re a Shining Light Lesson Plans.

    It was our goal to help you to experience first-hand the activities from the prenatal, to baby, to toddler stages to age three.

    As you have followed this program we have given you a strong foundation to build upon.  Now that you have finished the Parenting Program for Parents with Toddlers you are welcome to review our Lesson Plans for Young Children.  The activities will be specifically designed for young children aged three to six.

    We will be helping parents understand how the first six years are the most important learning and growing time of your child’s life.

  • Take me shopping!

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________