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Help a Mom: Cutting toenails, other things kids hate

A mom wonders how to cut her preschooler's toenails without causing a fit.

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

Every once in a while I get questions from readers about parenting issues. And sometimes I pose them here in an occasional series that I like to call Help a Mom.

This one came from a mom, who had originally posted the question in an unrelated post.

She has trouble getting her son to sit still to cut his toenails. I think a solution to this might extend to other unsavory tasks (at least in the eyes of kids) like applying sunscreen and brushing teeth.

Here's what she wrote:

Here's my problem: I spent 45 minutes or so this morning, off and on, trying to clip my almost-4-year-old's toe nails. Howls, wails, cringing, hiding his feet from me - all typical toe-nail-clipping-day behaviors. HOW in the world do I make this a fear-free, quick hygiene routine? I've tried rewards ("one little marshmallow for every toe!" I brightly coax with a winning smile on my face) and, though they eventually work, they only work after about 45 minutes, and he's still scared to death of the prospect. I hold his foot gently, I refuse to hold him down - I have memories of that from childhood (not related to toenail clipping, in case you're thinking, "Aha! She's passed along her fear!") and I just won't put him in that powerless-feeling situation. HELP!

Sounds like she needs help. Any advice out there?

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