SALT LAKE CITY — Each parent keeps a mental list of things that work well when it comes to tackling tough kid tasks. In most cases, the list grows from trial and error.
I like to have at least three options to choose from when going head to head with a small child: good, better, and best. This helps keep me calm, organized, and in control, and who doesn’t need a Plan B from time to time?
Tackling Tough Task No. 1: Clipping your baby’s fingernails
Good: Put your baby or toddler in his car seat to prevent wiggling.
Hold his hand tight and make sure to not clip the fingernail too close to the skin (ouch!).
Better: Do the clipping right after tub time.
Soft fingernails are much easier to work with, and can even be managed with an emery board for tiny fingers.
Best: Wait until you hear the ZZZZZZs.
Babycenter.com recommends trimming your baby’s fingernails while she is sound asleep.
Tackling Tough Task No. 2: Taking your kids to the grocery store
Good: Leave them home.
Sure, they are not going to learn anything about saving money with coupons, or where food really comes from, but let’s be honest: Sometimes it is just easier to avoid a situation that may be a trigger point. If need be, hire a sitter for an hour and tackle the grocery store solo.
Better: Buy a balloon.
This is my new trick for my 1-year-old daughter. I spend a dollar at the beginning of our shopping trip on a single helium balloon, usually in a nice bright color, then tie it on the cart and off we go. She stays entertained the entire trip.
Best: Let them help.
"The more often your kids shop with you, the better it is for their development," says Dr. Tanya Remer Altmann, a pediatrician, in the article “Grocery Shopping with School-Age Kids” on WebMD.com.
Tackling Tough Task No. 3: Getting toddlers to eat their veggies
Good: Fib a little.
The USDA advises that half of your child’s plate each meal be filled with fruits and vegetables. Many parents add vegetables by sneaking them in. So go ahead, toss in some pureed baby food into your next batch of muffins. The kids will never know!
Better: Plant a garden.
When kids are invested in a cause, they will look for the reward — even if the reward is long, orange, and tastes suspiciously like a carrot. These hearty veggies seem like treats after all that hard work of pulling weeds and caring for a garden.
Best: Send them to grandma’s.
Grandma’s have a strange power over kids. My mom has a magical way of introducing my kids to the wonderful colors, shapes, and flavors of vegetables. She often has the grandkids help her pick greens from the garden — all the while telling them of the good they will do for their bodies. When they make it inside to put the salad together, all of the kids are looking forward to the meal.
Tackling Tough Task No. 4: Getting kids to help with chore time
Good: Use a checklist.
A checklist can be pictures for non-reading toddlers or a written list for older children. I always throw in a few things I know they will do even if I don’t ask. For example: Ride your bike for 10 minutes.
Better: Buy a timer.
“A $5 kitchen timer is the most effective, easy, and fabulous way to turn lazy, non-compliant kids into movers and shakers,” said Ruth A. Peters, Ph.D. in her article “How to get your Children to do their Chores” published by Today.
Best: Work alongside them.
Grab your kids, turn up the radio, toss everyone some cleaning supplies, and scrub together. When kids see you are having fun and that work is not a chore, it becomes another opportunity to spend quality time together.
Tackling Tough Task No. 5: Bedtime Routine
Good: Have your child lay out their PJ’s before dinner.
This will empower the child to choose the pajamas they like best, and eliminate a possible temper tantrum.
Better:Have a race, family-Olympics style.
Each night try and set a new record. The most effective way for this task to work is to get everyone involved. Kids must brush their teeth for two minutes, have pajamas on, and backpacks ready to go for school in order to not be eliminated each night. At the end of the week tally the times and award medals to the top contenders.
Best: Love them.
Parents and guardians have a special responsibility to tuck kids in at the end of each night. Read them a book, rock them, hold them, and end with a kiss and a sweet goodnight. And really, there is nothing too tough about that.