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Newsday

"ALL IS CALM? Not by a long shot, if your household is like most over the holidays. Try these tips to keep you and your kids on an even keel."

BY CLAUDIA GRYVATZ COPQUIN

For many of us, the holidays equal going into high gear to create a Norman Rockwell idealization of family gatherings. And that means setting up certain expectations for our children, which is fine - as long as we're realistic about their capabilities. For example, if your 6-year-old has never been taught to mind her manners at the dinner table, it's silly to expect her to do so during Christmas dinner with the extended family.

Your child's general disposition and temperament also should be taken into account. If your toddler requires a daily nap, for example, it's in everyone's best interests not to skip it while visiting relatives.

Most helpful during this busy time of year: maintaining a sense of routine for children. "When kids know what to expect, they are always much more cooperative," explains Lori Barrett, a child development specialist and co-founder of ThinkerTots, a company that offers classes for infants, toddlers and preschoolers in Bayside and New Hyde Park.

Other tips to keep your household calm and your kids at their best:

Infants and toddlers

PARENTAL GUIDANCE

With children under 4 accounting for nearly 90 percent of deaths and 80 percent of emergency room visits due to airway obstruction injuries, the holiday season is an especially important time to guard against choking dangers, says model Farley Boyle, a New Jersey mother of three who has appeared on the series "Runway Moms."

Boyle founded C.H.A.S.E. for Life (CPR, Heimlich, Awareness, Safety and Education) after her 2-year-old daughter, Chase, was saved from nearly drowning when her husband did CPR. With dishes of candy and nuts all around, and floors covered with new toys and small parts, Boyle offers these tips:

Don't let children under 3 eat small, hard or round food, especially hard candy. Don't let small children eat unattended.

Certain foods are easy to choke on, regardless of size - cut grapes into fours, just like hotdogs.

Check all toys for small parts and recycled toys for damaged parts.

Clear floors and low surfaces of small objects such as toy parts, buttons, beads, marbles and coins.

For more information visit chaseforlife.org.

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