Some basic tips to help parents with common parenting challenges

Top parenting tips

Ever feel like parenting is this big secret that you’re not in on?

It’s no surprise that most of us feel like this at one time or another.

Let’s face it - being a parent is tough, to say the least. What to do and how to do it are on the minds of most parents at any given time.

Some time back, I wrote this post - Parenting Advice That You Were Never Told - and the information included was so basic yet so true, that I thought I’d revisit the topic again, this time via video.

Check out my YouTube channel for the latest clip where I provide some quick and easy parenting tips on this very subject and let me know what you think! If you have any additional tips to add, please do so in the comments section below, or on YouTube.

The Top 5 Parenting Secrets You Were Never Told

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What's the best course of action for educating twins?

twins in class

There comes a time that, as the parent of twins, one has to make a crucial decision:

Should I keep them together or should I separate them?

This is a particularly pressing decision to be made in the case of identical twins.

Think about it: they share the same DNA, they look exactly alike (to most people outside of the immediate family) and they are, by most accounts, at the same stage of development. The natural course of action that is taken is to keep them together, at least for the early days of preschool and Kindergarten.

My boys are figuratively joined at the hip, doing almost everything together including bathing, playing, sleeping and fighting. They are each other’s best friends and worst enemies, depending on the day and time. They love each other. They despise each other. And if they had the maturity to provide some perspective on their relationship, I have no doubt that they would not have it any other way.

Yet, like most parents of identical twins, I’m acutely aware of the natural inclination to treat the children the same. After all - it’s easy to get lulled into thinking that the kids are two parts of a whole, that they are more or less the same, because of the simple fact that, to the untrained eye, they look the same.

In spite of this fact, they are individuals, reality that becomes increasingly important to them as they navigate the world, correcting those who think that they are their brother - and vice versa. Without being an identical twin, it’s hard to imagine always being mistaken for someone else, or, on the flip side, having someone who looks exactly like you. It must be simultaneously annoying and amazing.

Fraternal twins are often grouped together by outsiders as well, though not as much, especially if the twins don’t look alike, or are of different sexes. While the incidences of comparison are not as high as they are with identical twins, the tendency to do so by outsiders exists nonetheless. Teachers who have a pair of twins in their class - identical or fraternal - often naturally make comparisons between the siblings, as it is human nature to do so.

During the early stages of socialization, e.g. preschool, daycare and Kindergarten, it makes sense to take the simple route and put them together in the same class. This way, there’s no trauma at the prospect of being alone in a new social environment without the comfort of that sibling that will be their guide, confidante and friend, no matter what.

But the time will come where a choice must be made: should they remain together, joined at the proverbial hip to offer support to their sibling, or should they part ways, venture into the world (or classroom) alone and gain their independence?

The right answer is not an easy one, and as a parent having to make this choice, its particularly stress-inducing.

Like any critical decision, the pros and cons must be weighed in order to make the right decision. This is a tricky one, as there good arguments on both sides of the fence - a fact that doesn’t make it easier for the parents in making a decision. As a parent struggling with making a decision about what the right choice is for my kids, I know I’m not alone. Knowing that the choice made will have long-reaching effects on my kids makes the decision to separate the twins - or not - even more daunting. To this end, I thought it would be a good idea to list both the positive and negative implications of separating twins at school. Here’s what I came up with:

Pros and Cons of Separating Twins at School


  1. Each twin is better able to foster a sense of individuality
  2. Dependency on each other is decreased, allowing each twin to gain confidence in their own abilities
  3. The incidences of being compared to or confused with the other twin is eliminated
  4. The absence of the other twin provides an environment where each twin can “grow” into their own personalities and characters
  5. Competition between twins will decrease when they’re not in the same classroom daily
  6. The absence of the other twin as a “built-in” friend and companion will allow each twin to form friendships with other children


  1. The comfort of knowing that their twin is immediately close by is removed, a fact that may increase anxiety amongst some twins
  2. Twins often rely on each other to provide support emotionally; twins who are separated may have increased difficulty relying on others for a certain level of emotional support
  3. The effect of emotional distress and anxiety that some twins may feel being separated from their sibling may affect their academic progress in school
  4. Parents of twins separated at school will have to navigate double the amount of school-related activities on behalf of their kids (two separate parent-teacher interview appointments, two separate parent volunteer days at school, etc.)

Conclusion: While I’d love to say what the definitive answer is to this question, unfortunately the jury is out. While it may appear that solely on the basis of pros and cons, the scale tips on the side of separating the twins, this is not necessarily the case. Each set of twins are individuals and their ability to positively advance in school, separated or not, depends on a number of factors. These include the personalities of each twin, their ability to adapt to change, and the level of mutual reliance on each other. It would be great to have a “one-size fits all” answer but as we all know, most important decisions related to kids are not ever simple.

On a related note, here’s an extreme case of twins being separated at birth with an incredibly positive outcome:

Separated at Birth, Reunited on Facebook

So what are your thoughts and experiences about separating twins at school? Is it a good idea to keep them together or better to separate them? What are your reasons for the choices that you made? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.


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first day of school

With back to school around the corner, kids get awfully stressed. This is particularly the case for first-timers and preschoolers - those kids who are just starting Kindergarten or Grade One. Following is a segment on The Morning Show on Global where I provide tips and advice for parents on how to prepare their kids for the first day of school.

VIDEO: How to Prepare Your Child For the First Day of School

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Lane Bryant
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Top 5 Ways To Help Your Child Avoid Getting Sick

by Samantha on October 7, 2012

It’s back.

T’is the season and all that jazz.

Let’s all take a collective deep breath for that time of the year that heralds in what we despise the most: the sick child.

It’s not that we don’t love our kids; no, that’s not the case at all. We love them to tears. It’s the pesky bugs that they bring home with them courtesy of school, daycare and otherwise that make our collective lives more than just a tad miserable.

What is it about children that makes them veritable magnets for germs? Do viruses have a radar-like ability to target those who are 10 years old and under?

Every year, without fail, it starts in the fall and doesn’t end until spring. During this time, parents are put to the test, having to deal with every bug, germ, and virus that get’s blown their way (often courtesy of a healthy sneeze). With all of these bugs flying around (literally and figuratively) it’s surprising that we haven’t been infested by a swarm of locusts. But perhaps that’s on the horizon as well, the way things are going.

Now to add to this nightmare, I recently received the obligatory annual note from the school that was sent home to all parents that lice has been found on a few kids. Ugh. Here we go again, every year, having to deal with the peskiest of pests. This reality has allowed me to fully understand the literal term for nit-picking.

Between lice, ear infections, the flu and every other manner of annoyances, it makes for an interesting school year, to say the least.

There are, however, some steps that you can take to avoid or at least lessen the amount of times that you’ll be dealing with a sick child.

Here 5 tips for parents that will make the flu season a bit more bearable:

1) Hand-washing - This applies to both your kids and you. Lead by example so that our kids get into this healthy habit and make sure that the little ones are washing their hands more often than not.

2) Clean kids’ toys and blankets - This may include washing their favorite stuffed animals and blankets often so that they don’t get a buildup of germs, viruses and otherwise.

3) Do NOT “share and share alike” - We all do it - share food and drinks with our kids. They’re our kids, after all. This time of the year, however, it’s a good idea to refrain from giving your little one a sip of your drink or letting them eat off your fork. Wait until the bugs and viruses pass before resuming this practice.

4) Limit playdates - As tempting as it is to shuttle your child off to someone else’s home, or have a child over to entertain your little one, avoid it during this time of the year. Your child’s friend may be harboring one of the season’s most virulent strains so why take the risk? On the flip side, if your child starts showing signs of illness, best to keep them “quarantined” (from playdates) until the storm has passed.

5) Eat healthy - Now more than ever, you and your children need the proper nutrients and vitamins to not only avoid getting sick, but to recover quickly if they do fall ill. Make sure to feed your family a healthy dose of fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly those that are rich in vitamin C. If your kids don’t take supplementary vitamins, now may be a good time to start.

Do you have any other tips or advice to share about how to keep kids from catching every bug around during the school year? Please share in the comments below!

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To Pee or Not To Pee: That is the Question

by Samantha on August 15, 2011

My modern-day homage to William Shakespeare. If you are a literary purist, my sincere apologies in advance.
Shakespeare pic
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To Pee or Not To Pee: That is the Question
To pee, or not to pee, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The puddles and poops of outrageous fortune,
Or to take baby wipes and bleach against a (pee) sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To change diapers and pull-ups, to sleep,
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache, and the numerous late-night “accidents”
That toddlers are prone to: ’tis a longing
That these times will end. To lie down, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream – there is the joke:
For in that non-existent sleep no dreams will ever come,
When we have changed soiled clothing for the umpteenth time,
It must give us pause – there’s the reality of parenting toddlers
That makes a calamity of life for so long.
For who would bear the cries and whines of tantrums,
The parents’ wrongs, the two-year-olds’ petulance,
The pangs of unfinished sleep, the zombie-like existence,
The insanity of potty-training, and the puddles of pee
That toddlers merit as all in a hard day’s work,
When they themselves might actually be able to evacuate
On the actual throne? Who would moms and dads bear,
To grunt and sweat on said potty throne,
But that the dread of something worse,
Like a call from the daycare that there are no more clean clothes;
No toddler returns, immediate pickup is demanded,
And makes us rather bitter and crabby
To clean up yet another mound of waste;
Thus poop does make cowards of us all,
And thus the naive embarrassment of resignation
That this reality will last for many months to come,
And the fact that one is angry and frustrated with the lack of progress,
With this regard their patience turns awry,
And perhaps throw in the towel. Curses you now,
The wretched potty! “Throne,” in thy righteousness
Be all my toilet training attempts forgotten.
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Any potty training tips to share? I’m all ears!!
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