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Wolfson Children's Hospital Positive Parenting

Positive Parenting

We know parenting can be a challenge sometimes. Here, you'll find resources and advice to guide you in the right direction when frustration gets high and patience runs low.

THE PLAYERS Center for Child Health

THE PLAYERS Center for Child Health was founded in 2011 to improve the health, wellness and quality of life of the families living within the communities we serve.

Hit-Free Zone

There are always options to spanking or hitting and we encourage you to make the best decisions about what will work for your child and family. At Wolfson Children's Hospital, we are a hit-free zone. That means we don't allow anyone to hit anybody in our hospital.

THE PLAYERS Center for Child Health

THE PLAYERS Center for Child Health was founded in 2011 to improve the health, wellness and quality of life of the families living within the communities we serve.

Did you know?


53 countries have banned all forms of spanking or hitting


Zero studies show that spanking actually helps in the long run


78% of pediatricians oppose corporal punishment

Parenting Tips

Select a box below to learn about typical behaviors at your child's age and get techniques for dealing with challenging situations.

Select your child's age above for specific suggestions.


Infants are pretty helpless and need parents and caregivers to meet their needs.

  • Crying is a normal behavior at this age
  • Many babies normally cry 2-3 hours per day - some healthy ones cry more
  • Because infants are growing quickly, they often wake up at night to eat
  • It is normal for parents to be sleep deprived at this time
  • Development starts at the top (head control) and proceeds downward (hands, sitting, crawling, standing, walking)
In this situation…
Try this…
Baby up several times at night
Take naps when your baby sleeps during the day. Sleeping longer at night often begins by 4 months of age.
Baby crying when not hungry or in pain
This is normal behavior, but if after holding and walking your baby it becomes stressful, put baby down on their back in a safe place and move a safe distance away for a 5-minute break.
Baby fussing when putting into car seat
Be persistent and try to stay calm. Children who always ride in a car seat will be the best behaved in a car later on.

Early Toddlers

1 - 2 year olds are beginning to explore their world.

  • Walking increases how far and how fast they can get into things
  • They do not have judgment about what things may be harmful
  • Toddlers begin to explore limits about what they can do - testing parents at times
  • They begin to say words and then later simple sentences
  • Tantrums reflect the child's desires, which don't always agree with parent's wishes
In this situation…
Try this…
Tantrums at home
Tantrums are what toddlers do. Try to anticipate them, if possible, and offer a distraction (not food). Try moving child to another place. Wait it out, because eventually it will end.
Tantrums in public
Make sure the child is safe and wait it out. Even though you may feel the stares of others, other parents have all been there.
Won't go to bed
Make sure there is a regular routine. Try reading to your child before sleep to slow down the situation. If your child is awake for hours before sleep, adjust bedtime accordingly.
Gets into things and tries to climb over gates and crib
Childproof the home. Watch carefully and constantly because children drown in tubs and pools. Expect children will reach things. Put cords up and anything valuable out of reach.

Late Toddlers

Older toddlers are expressing their feelings more and more to indicate what they want. They've gotten even more skillful in exploring their world.

  • They can climb and get into things
  • They use the word "no" or point to indicate what they do or don't want. Sometimes just to test if they are listened to
  • Temper tantrums or whining at times, but children vary
  • Safety is a major concern given their skills
  • Parallel play is the norm, which means sharing is not a strong skill
  • Many become picky about food and don't eat as much as they used to
  • Sentences and verbal communication improve
  • Some bedtime problems may be seen
In this situation…
Try this…
If possible, take them to another room and sit with your back against the door. Calmly tell them that once they are done to tell you and they can go back. Teaches skills of self calming/control.
Bedtime problems
Make sure there is a regular routine. Try reading to your child before sleep to slow down the situation. If your child is awake for hours before sleep, adjust bedtime accordingly.
Very skilled at climbing and getting into things
Be extra careful about watching. If there is a pool nearby, be sure to have layers of protection because toddlers can drown quickly and quietly.
Picky about food
Don't force them to eat, but do offer a variety of food at each meal instead of only a single choice. Consult with your pediatrician if you're worried.
Biting and hitting
Don't hit, bite or physically punish them for this. Set the example you want your child to follow. Tell them no and remove them from the situation for a while.
Won't sit still; Says "no"
This is expected toddler and preschooler behavior. Sitting still is hard at this age, so don't expect much. Don't threaten or require the child to do something unless it is important and you will follow through. Redirect them, help them with a task.

Preschoolers and Kindergarten

Preschoolers may talk constantly as they develop their verbal skills. Their verbal skills enable reasonable conversations and understanding, but they may forget or be distracted at times

  • Independent toilet training is often around 3 years of age. Expect some "accidents" because they are still learning. Some will have normal nighttime wetting for years, but eventually all children learn.
  • They may run into streets, touch stoves or electrical outlets or do other things in an attempt to explore.
  • They can be reasoned with to some extent.
In this situation…
Try this…
Toilet training
Wait until your child expresses an interest and are able to take their pants up and down. Sit the child on the infant toilet seat right after meals. Use a toy or book if that helps. Praise the child whenever they succeed. Use pull ups at night until the child is dry.
Wet bed
Even at this age, children can help clean up within reason, but don't let them operate a washing machine. Be calm, as it will improve, but maybe not right away.
Run into street, touch something dangerous
Loudly say "stop". Move them to safety. Talk to the child about not doing this. Have them rehearse what to do instead.
Not doing what they're told
Talk to your child about what you would like to happen. Pay attention and praise them when they are doing positive things. If repetitive, a star chart can be very helpful in shaping the behavior you want. Don't over-expect what your child can do. Just because they can talk doesn't mean they have the judgement of an adult.

School Age

School-age children continue to master the world.

  • Special interests become more prominent
  • Education becomes more formal
  • Motor skills continue to develop, and team sports reflect the increasing ability to play with others and observe rules
In this situation…
Try this…
Bad grades
Work with the school to determine the cause. Check to see:
1. Are the grades expected for this child?
2. Could there be a learning problem? Are there issues at home or elsewhere that interfere with learning?
Work with the teacher if the problem is at school. Attempt to identify the basic causes of what happened and try to correct. Star charts can be useful by giving recognition and a reward (e.g. staying up later to read another book) if they can go days or a week without fighting or yelling. Don't hit or yell because this only models the behavior you don't want.


The teenage years are a time for increased social organization with friends and body changes, including the effects of hormones. Teens tend to be more aware of the larger world and social causes. They may be happy, moody, depressed or very social.

  • Hormones and body changes of puberty may be confusing
  • Acceptance by peers is often important
  • Appearance becomes an issue for many
  • Interest in sex and attraction to others develops
  • Philosophical, religious, and political ideas may capture deeper attention
  • Driving and other signs of independence are important in learning more about one's identity
  • Teens like their ideas to be treated as an adult and not be lectured to or ignored
In this situation…
Try this…
Dressing provocatively
Note that the school has a dress code. Tell the teen that the outfit is inappropriate and go change. Don't call them names.
Try to teach about this before it might ever happen. Say to your teen, "This may seem like fun, but there are a lot of consequences. This may not be legal and pictures may exist forever in cyberspace. I don't want you harmed."
Phone use
Set clear rules about how much their phone can be used, what times, and what content is appropriate. Always answer the phone immediately if a caregiver calls. No cyberbullying, contact with unknown people, or late-night use that interferes with sleep. Have consistent consequences if rules are broken.
Alcohol, drug use, illegal activity
Set a good example. Teach your child early that drugs and underage drinking are not acceptable. Rehearse with them how to say no to peer pressure. Keep any of your own drugs and alcohol under control. Make a pact that if your child contacts you and needs you to pick them up, you will come anywhere/anytime. Agree to talk about it the next day, but for now your child's safety is what counts. Have a code message that your child can use to get your help to get out of a situation. When texted, you can help by saying "get home now".
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