LIers share their best parenting tricks

Reader Jennifer Gentile Kafka of Merrick and her

Reader Jennifer Gentile Kafka of Merrick and her daughter, Molly. (Credit: Eric Kafka)

Like all new parents, when my daughter Maggie was born, I looked to friends, family, the pediatrician, baby books (you name it!) to find helpful tips or advice on how to handle different parts of her infancy. From sleep schedules to feeding routines, diaper rash and more, I was nervous and wanted to make the best possible decisions for her. And as a new mom, sometimes I doubted certain decisions. For example, bringing her into bed with us when we were just too tired to get up for the day. But now, almost a year later, I know the decisions we made were the right ones for her.

When I look back on the first few months after we brought Maggie home, I don't think I could have gotten through it without my mother's help. She was my go-to, my pillar of strength, and the one who most of the time fielded my many, many questions. There's a certain wisdom that comes along with being a great parent, and after raising three kids, I trusted her instincts, and my husband Jason and I followed through on her genuine advice. The one thing she always told me was that even though I may question what I'm doing, it's OK to make mistakes and that Maggie will turn out just fine, because I'm a good mother.

Many parents with older kids have tricks under their belt -- certain things that worked on their children -- that they love sharing with others. When Maggie was about 6 months, she had her first low-grade fever. Our pediatrician said it was most likely from teething and to give her Tylenol. Maggie quickly learned that she did not like the taste of the medicine so she locked her lips and turned her head away. It was a constant battle just to give her Tylenol. I mentioned this to my mom who said to try measuring out the dosage and pouring it into a bottle nipple and giving it to her that way. So I tried it and viola, she took the medication with no issue. She knows the bottle nipple gives her formula, which is why the trick worked.

Every parent loves to share tips, so I thought it would be fun to hear advice from other Long Island parents that worked for them. So, I reached out to our Facebook and Twitter fans and asked them to share their favorite parenting tricks. Here's what they had to say:

Vicks on the soles of babies feet to quiet a cough.
-Kara Gallagher, via Facebook

Using M&M's to potty train. My kids were trained in a matter of days (but I only started when I knew they were already open to learning, so my daughter was 2 and my son was 3).
-Nicole Brady Maursky, Pearl River

Three sips of water for the hiccups.
-Loly Maraville De Coreas, via Facebook

Counting to 10 while changing her diaper. That way she knows when it's going to be over.
-Jennifer Gentile Kafka, Merrick

Don't use Twitter. Don't use Facebook. Fingerpaint. That's my tip.
-Frieda Albert, Lindenhurst

Never make empty threats.
-Melissa Goedtel, Islip Terrace

When they are begging or whining in the store for a new toy or what ever else they want, I tell them to put it on their birthday or Christmas list. Nine times out of 10 it works. I've yet to see a lit. My daughter is 13 now and I started this with her when she was 2. I now use it on my 5 year-old son.
-Cassandra Mauck, Bayport

If we went to Sears on Sunrise Highway in Massapequa, my son would always want to go to Toys R Us across the parking lot. So, I would give a hard look across to the store and say 'Oh no, the sign says it's closed." He is 34 now but we always joke about things being "closed."
-Joanne Sarnelle Ferrarese, Massapequa Park

I spell things to my kids instead of saying them and they learned a lot that way.
-Danielle Ribando, North Babylon

Never, ever ask kids what they want or what they want to do. Always give them a choice of only two alternatives, making sure that both are good for you and it then becomes a win/win situation.
-Miriam Hanan, via Facebook

Whenever we went on a long drive in the car, we told our kids that if they closed their eyes, we would take the short cut  and nine times out of 10, they fell asleep until we got to our destination.
-Maryellen Smith, via Facebook

Mean what you say and say what you mean.
-Terry Auletta, via Facebook

When my daughter was 3-years-old, she thought there were monster in her room at night. At the time we had moved in with my sister's family and my daughter slept on the bottom bunk my nephew's room. The first night there, the usual yelling at the monsters to leave did not seem to satisfy her. So I spotted my nephew's fish tank with his two goldfish in it. I said, "You know, really, no monsters would dare come in this room." When she asked why, I told her that there are fish in this room and that fish eat monsters. She just looked at me with disbelief. Well, she loved to feed the fish so I reminded her about how the fish food was actually "dried monsters." I elaborated that while she knew from feeding them that the loved dried monster, fresh monster was even better, so no monster would dare come in while the fish were in the room. Well, her face lit up and for the rest of the time we lived there, she was no longer afraid of monsters. Of course when we moved out, I had to buy a fish tank with two goldfish! She's now 23, a law student, and can't believe she fell for that, hook, line and sinker (pun totally intended)!
-Peggy Reynolds, Mineola

What are some parenting tricks that work for you? Share your tips below and follow me on Twitter @JenBergerKids.

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