First, the good news: Children are very adaptable. Children quickly learn that different settings and different people have different expectations – and they respond accordingly. For example, I was constantly amazed by all the things my children did for themselves at childcare that I was still doing for them at home! Many kids discover that begging to stay up late might work with grandma but not auntie. Or that mom will feed me but my teachers expect me to use utensils and feed myself.

Dreading leaving your toddler with the babysitter or at daycare and want to prepare him? Virtually every parent who has left a toddler with a caregiver has experienced the crumpled face, the arms Velcro-locked around your knees, the wail that rips through your heart. It's the normal response of a securely attached toddler who protests what she perceives as a life-threatening separation from her mother or father. Your toddler will learn, over time, that you do return when you leave, but she is not yet capable of understanding this fully.

The more you enjoy playing with your children, the more they may be able to learn. Your children's abilities to learn many skills in the early years will depend on their stages of development and their individual interests. In addition, their learning will depend on the opportunities and support that the family offers them at home and in their surroundings. Here are a few helpful hints to assist you in planning and doing the activities with your children.

These are techniques to use when your baby cries, but they are also preventive tools to keep your infant from getting over-stimulated all day long.

Tantrums are normal for toddlers, even legendary. Toddlers feel so passionately about everything, and they simply don't have enough frontal cortex capacity yet to control themselves when they're upset. That said, you'll be glad to know that many tantrums are avoidable. Since a good number of tantrums result from feeling powerless, toddlers who feel they have some control over their lives have fewer tantrums. And since toddlers who are tired and hungry don't have the inner resources to handle frustration, managing your toddler's life so he isn't asked to cope when he's hungry or tired will reduce tantrums. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

Sibling rivalry is universal. After all, siblings compete for resources that can sometimes seem scarce -- the parent's time and attention. That's why the most important thing you can do to diminish sibling rivalry is to be sure that each child knows that no matter how much their sibling gets, there is always more than enough love for them. So if you're pregnant and you have another child (or two), here are some tips to reduce sibling rivalry and foster a close sibling bond right from the start.

The simple truth about toilet training is that if the child is ready, it happens very easily. If not, a power struggle often ensues -- and we all know that no one wins a parent-child power struggle. Fights with your child about his or her body are fights you will never win.

Luckily, there is a never a reason to fight with your child about this. Moving from diapers to being self-sufficiently able to use the toilet is a natural process. Humans have been doing it for a long time. They all get out of diapers sooner or later.

So you don't actually need to "toilet train" your child. Instead, set up conditions so your child can learn. Your goal is to make it as easy and effortless as possible. Think of this as a process of learning that unfolds over time, like all other learning and mastery.

Here's a step by step guide for child-led potty learning.

Children may ask heartbreaking questions that seem impossible to answer, but there are honest, age-appropriate ways to respond. Print out these ideas for parents to use as they handle difficult questions from their children. Each parent will have to decide how much information to share, and how to adjust their answers based on children’s ages.

Parents and teachers can use questions about homelessness (from children who have not experienced it) as a valuable opportunity to build empathy and compassion. Explaining homelessness to young children who have not experienced it is tough, but there are age-appropriate and honest answers. Public-classroom teachers and early-childhood educators can use these responses as a guide, and also distribute them to parents. Naturally, answers should be adjusted, depending on children’s ages.

Embracing your role as military caregiver isn’t always simple. Big feelings like uncertainty and even grief come and go. Some days will be difficult, but caregiving, especially when the whole family is “in it together,” can be so rewarding. Understanding that caregiving is a journey best taken one day at a time can help everyone take challenges “in stride.” Consider these ideas as you take stock of what your caregiving journey may look like.

Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.