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Archive for the ‘Parents’ Category

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Included

by Dr. Gerald Newmark
The Children’s Project
Developing Emotionally Healthy Children, Families, Schools and Communities

Feeling Included, Respected, Important,  Accepted and Secure

Feeling included is the fourth critical emotional need of children. They need to feel like they belong, they are a part of things, they are connected to other people and they have a sense of community. Children join cliques, clubs and teams to satisfy their need to belong.

People who do things together feel closer to one another. Family activities offer a way to become closer, have fun, learn and contribute to the happiness of others. Identifying strongly with the family unit makes children more resistant to negative outside influences and more open to positive role models within the family. Obviously, we can’t include children in everything, but we need to make a conscious effort to include our children when we decide on family activities. This way, the activities will that appeal to everyone. Regularly repeated activities can become traditions that further satisfy a child’s need to feel included and secure.

Including children in your work life has multiple benefits. Describe your work environment, your job duties, your co-workers and your feelings about your work and your fellow workers. If possible, take them to work and encourage them to ask questions and give their opinions. If you work at home or have your own business, introduce them to clients and co-workers and let them do some work for you and with you.

Communication is another key tool for helping children feel included.  Parent-child communications are often brief, dull or haphazard.  Consequently, despite their best intentions, caring parents may have little understanding of what their children are thinking or feeling. Meanwhile, children often feel misunderstood and puzzled by their parents’ actions and frustrated by what they feel are attempts to control and overprotect them. The challenge for parents is to move from sporadic, brief interchanges to a sustained and substantive dialogue. Family meetings and feedback sessions provide the settings and contexts for this dialogue to happen. These sessions should take place at a regular time. Let everyone share their thoughts and feelings and discuss how everyone feels the family is doing, how individuals are doing and what your family could be doing differently and better. Make a conscious decision to include children in choices, discussions and decisions in their everyday lives.

Next time we’ll address the need to feel secure.

Did your parents read to you every night or begin and end each day with a warm hug?

If you’ve divorced, do you ever say bad things about your children’s other parent? Are you cordial to each other in your children’s presence? Have you explained what happened without blaming the other parent and emphasized that the divorce was not the children’s fault?

Satisfying children’s five critical emotional needs will enable them to become self-confident, independent, responsible, thinking, caring and civic-minded individuals.

Click here to read the introductory post in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting the Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents Too!”

Click here to read article one in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Respected.”

Click here to read article two in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Important.”

Click here to read article three in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Accepted.”

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Accepted

by Dr. Gerald Newmark
The Children’s Project
Developing Emotionally Healthy Children, Families, Schools and Communities

Feeling Accepted, Respected, Important, Included and Secure

The third critical emotional need of children is to feel accepted. Accepting children means listening to them, trying to understand them and accepting their right to their own viewpoints, feelings, desires, opinions, concerns and ideas. If you condemn or ridicule children’s feelings or opinions, they may feel that something is wrong with them. When they feel that way, they are less likely to listen to you and let you influence them.

Children can feel rejected when their parents do the following:

  • Overreact or respond emotionally;
  • Try to suppress the child’s feelings;
  • Be overly critical.

Parents can help their child feel accepted by doing the following:

  • Accepting the child’s desires and discussing them amicably;
  • Understanding that feelings aren’t right or wrong and the child has a right to them. Parents should not try to talk a child out of his or her feelings;
  • Remembering not to sweat the small stuff;
  • Catching your child doing something right and praising the child for it.

Acceptance is not permissiveness. It doesn’t mean giving children free license to act in any way they wish. Remember the distinction between wants and needs. You never will be able to satisfy all of your child’s wants, and it would not be good for your child if you did. On the other hand, as parents, we must make every possible effort to satisfy our children’s critical emotional needs. Accept your children as people in their own right and act accordingly.

Consider the following:

Did your family do much together when you were growing up? Were you sent to your room when your parents had company? Were you protected from a truth that everyone knew but no one discussed?

Do you ask your child’s opinion on important things or ask how your child feels after a big family argument or event, such as a remarriage? Do you let your child listen to you and your spouse discuss anything significant?

Satisfying children’s five critical emotional needs will enable them to become self-confident, independent, responsible, thinking, caring and civic-minded individuals.

Click here to read the introductory post in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting the Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents Too!”

Click here to read article one in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Respect.”

Click here to read article two in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Important.”

Ten Tips for First-Time Parents

20120920_goddard_CA_0016Being a new parent is an exciting, life-changing experience, but it can also be scary. After all, nobody is born knowing how to be Supermom or Superdad. Here are ten helpful tips for first-time parents:

  1. Don’t panic. Babies cry, spit up and vomit, which is usually normal. Even if you’re worried, panicking will not help because babies can pick up on anxiety, and it can upset them.
  2. Be gentle but realistic. Supporting your newborn’s head when you hold him and washing him gently when you give him a bath are important practices. However, if your baby’s head isn’t fully supported for a second or if he gets some water in his eyes, he should be okay.
  3. Get close. Hold your baby close to your skin. Skin-to-skin contact is calming and soothing both parent and baby – really!
  4. Sleep when your baby sleeps. Your baby’s sleep patterns might be erratic for the first few weeks, so sleep when you can. If you have a partner, take turns getting up to tend to him.
  5. Avoid scheduled activities. At least at first. As your baby adjusts to a regular routine, your schedule will become more regular, too.
  6. Accept help when it’s offered. You can’t do everything yourself, and that’s okay. If a friend or family member offers to help you, ask him or her to do whatever will help you the most.
  7. Go outside. If you become a little stir-crazy, take your baby for a walk. If you can, let somebody you trust watch your infant while you get some fresh air.
  8. Take care of yourself. Eat properly, drink lots of water and sleep as much as you can. Taking care of yourself will help you maintain the energy you need to take care of your baby.
  9. Skip less important chores. Leave clean clothes in the laundry basket, don’t worry about the dust bunnies under the furniture and/or have cereal and toast for dinner occasionally. It’s okay to relax your standards a bit while you adjust to your baby’s arrival.
  10. Set limits with visitors. This means insisting that your visitors wash their hands before holding your baby or asking loved ones who are ill not to visit until they’re better. Also, let your friends and relatives know which days will work best and how much or how little time you have for a visit.

Stay Active

As parents, our main goal is to keep our children happy and healthy. One challenge, especially with enticing gadgets, is getting our children to keep active and understand the importance of exercise. Creating good habits early helps
9children maintain and form positive habits later. We want to teach our children to turn off the TV, put down the electronic devices and go outside to use their energy and imagination.

Here are some ideas of what you and your child can do together to stay active:

  • Go for a walk in the park or in your neighborhood and have a scavenger hunt (look for a pine cone, a red bird, etc.);
  • Use sidewalk chalk to create a hopscotch court and teach your child to play the game;
  • Find a new park or playground to explore;
  • Walk your dog or play fetch with your dog as a family;
  • Plant flowers together in a garden;
  • Visit a local zoo or museum;
  • Go outside and play with a bouncy ball;
  • Teach your child to ride a tricycle;
  • Have a family room dance party;
  • Set up a small inflatable pool in your backyard;
  • Play Simon Says, and make sure Simon includes plenty of jumping and other active movements.

Five Simple Ways to Raise a Reader

Child-ReadingIt’s been said that reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Reading strengthens children’s analytical thinking skills, improves their memories and expands their vocabulary. Reading is also an excellent way to reduce stress. But how do you raise a reader? Here’s how:

1. Establish a story time. Ask your child to pick out a book and read it to him while he snuggles with you on the couch. Make time every day to read an age-appropriate book to him. He will remember the time you spent together even if he forgets the stories. 

2. Share your faves. Have favorite books from your childhood? Pick out a few, read them to your child and see if any of them click. She might not love all of them, but chances are that she will probably go wild for some of them. After all, books like Green Eggs and Ham and Curious George are classics for a reason.

3. Explore an author’s works. Did your child love Where the Wild Things Are and Chicken Soup with Rice? Find Maurice Sendak’s other books and read them to him. If you aren’t familiar with the author’s other works, you can ask your local librarian or do some research on the Internet to find additional titles.

4. Let one passion inspire another. Find books that speak to your child’s interests. Does she like animals? Check out a Berenstain Bears book from the local library. Is your little one into trucks? Get some books about construction. Got a baseball fan?  Well, you get the idea.

5. Lead by example. Encourage your child to be a voracious reader by showing him that you are a voracious reader. Planning weekly trips to the library with him, taking him to your local bookstore on a regular basis and designating a special story time will show him that you make reading a priority. 

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Important

by Dr. Gerald Newmark
The Children’s Project
Developing Emotionally Healthy Children, Families, Schools and Communities

Feeling Important, Respected, Accepted, Included and Secure

Children need to feel important, which means they need to feel that they have value, they are useful, they have power and they are somebody special. The following are examples of how parents can help develop or diminish a child’s sense of importance.

Being Overprotective – Parents may diminish children’s sense of power by limiting them too much. Children need to experiment and try new things. We need to encourage their curiosity, experimentation and desire for adventure instead of saying no too often.

Being Excessively Permissive – However, if you never or rarely say no or if you try to satisfy all of your children’s desires, they could develop a false sense of entitlement and unrealistic expectations, which will hurt them in the future as they discover the realities of life. Distinguish between wants and needs. When you say no to something a child wants, you should still honor the five critical needs.

Talking Too Much and Not Listening – We talk, we lecture, we give advice, we tell children how to feel and what to think and we overpower them with words when we should listen and pay more attention to what they say, think and feel. Give your children your undivided attention, even when you only have a few minutes.

Making All the Decisions – When parents make all the decisions and solve all their children’s problems, children miss an opportunity to increase their self-confidence and develop good judgment and decision-making skills.  Asking their opinions and listening to their answers contributes to their sense of importance. Let your children make small, age-appropriate decisions, such as what to wear, what vegetable to eat with dinner, what board game to play and what color collar the family pet should wear, etc.

If we provide constructive, meaningful ways to make children feel important, they will not need to engage in inappropriate destructive activities to convince themselves and others that they are important.

Satisfying a child’s five critical emotional needs, which are to feel respected, important, accepted, included and secure, will enable them to become self-confident, independent, responsible, thinking, caring and civic-minded individuals.

Click here to read the introductory post in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting the Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents Too!”

Click here to read article one in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Respect.”

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Respect

by Dr. Gerald Newmark
The Children’s Project

Developing Emotionally Healthy Children, Families, Schools and Communities

 Feeling Respected, Important, Accepted, Included and Secure

One of children’s critical emotional needs is to feel respected. For children to feel respected, adults need to be courteous, thoughtful, attentive and civil to them. As individuals, they deserve the same courtesy and consideration as others. Children learn about respect by being treated respectfully and by observing their parents and other adults treating one another with consideration.

When adults don’t treat children with respect, it can lower children’s self-esteem and cause them to rebel and act disrespectfully toward others.

Their parents’ opinions, values, attitudes and actions matter to children. Children have some of the same needs as adults, and what we say and how we say it affects them.

For example saying, “I’m sorry, honey. I don’t have time right now,” is as quick and easy as saying, “Can’t you see I’m busy? Stop bothering me!” With children, a simple act of courtesy can go a long way.

If we want our children to grow up feeling respected and treating others with respect, we need to do the following:

  • avoid being sarcastic, belittling children or yelling at them. We need to keep our anger and impatience to a minimum;
  • avoid lying;
  • listen more and talk less;
  • give fewer commands and more suggestions and requests;
  • say ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘excuse me’ and ‘I’m sorry’ to our children;
  • become conscious of our mistakes, be willing to admit them and be ready to correct our behavior.

Displaying these behaviors as parents will help us cultivate our values in our children.

In the next blog article in this series, Dr. Newmark will discuss children’s need to feel important. Until then, consider the following.

When you were a child, did adults constantly interrupt you before you could finish your thoughts?

If your toddler is feeding herself and getting food on her bib and clothes, do you grab the spoon and yell, “Stop that. You’re making a big mess. Here, I’ll feed you,” or do you put your arm around her and say, “Isn’t that great? You’re trying to feed yourself.”

Satisfying a child’s five critical emotional needs, which are to feel respected, important, accepted, included and secure, will enable them to become self-confident, independent, responsible, thinking, caring and civic-minded individuals.

Click here to read the introductory post in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting the Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents Too!”

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting the Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents Too!

by Dr. Gerald Newmark
The Children’s Project
Developing Emotionally Healthy Children, Families, Schools and Communities

Everyone, including babies, toddlers, teenagers, parents and grandparents, has similar emotional needs. Meeting your child’s needs in childhood provides the foundation for success in school, work, relationships, marriage and life.

In his book How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting the Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents Too!, Dr. Gerald Newmark shows parents and teachers how to nourish children’s emotional health at home and at school. The book helps parents and teachers recognize and satisfy children’s critical emotional needs, which are to feel respected, important, accepted, included and secure. Parents and teachers can benefit from this process, too.

In the coming weeks, we will share a series of articles on this blog with tips, activities and more information about meeting each of these five emotional needs. We’ll also address hurtful and helpful behaviors and how to become an effective parent. These simple, powerful ideas can enhance the lives of children, parents and families.

The goal is to raise self-confident, independent, responsible, thinking, caring and civic-minded individuals.

In the next article in this series, Dr. Newmark will discuss children’s need to feel respected. Until then, consider the following.

When you were a child and someone asked you a question, did your mother or father ever jump in and answer it for you?

Have you ever interrupted a conversation with your child to answer the phone, and then found yourself saying to your child, “Don’t be rude. Can’t you see I’m talking?”

Planning and Organizing – Critical Thinking Skills

Some children are naturally organized, but messy children can learn organization skills. Whether The Goddard Schoolyour children are messy or neat, the executive function skills of planning and organizing will help them accomplish goals, complete tasks at school and enjoy success in life.

You can help your children develop their abilities to plan and organize. Below are a few tips to get you started.

  • Conduct weekly family meetings and discuss your family’s schedule, upcoming events and goals. Let your children help with the planning. You can hold these meetings during meals;
  • Keep a family calendar visible. Use it every day so your child becomes accustomed to the household schedules and routines;
  • Teach your child how to break down tasks. For example, when he is cleaning up his toys, ask your child to put all the dinosaurs away, then all the trucks, etc.;
  • Make a chore chart and have everyone in the family mark off jobs as they complete them;
  • Talk about events, such as trips and errands, before they happen. Before you go to the grocery store, make a shopping list with your children. At the store, ask them to help you collect the items;
  • Read stories together and talk about what happened first, next and last;
  • Play games that involve following directions and rules.

Make planning and organizing fun for your child and some of your child’s skills may rub off on you!

Bento Lunch Mania

What is a bento box?

Bento box lunches have been increasing in popularity among families with preschoolers and school-age children. Google the term “bento box lunch” and you will find a wealth of resources, including blogs, Pinterest pages and online retailers selling basic and whimsical options.  Bento boxes are appealing because they provide a creative way to add a variety of foods to a child’s lunch while keeping wet foods separate from dry foods. If a parent is artistic, the child’s lunch can become a work of art.

The Goddard SchoolWhy does it work well for school lunches?

Bento boxes work well for school lunches and snacks because they protect food in an air-tight container and keep food groups separate. If you have a picky eater who does not like foods touching, a bento box may keep your child happy. Parents can have fun creating different lunchtime masterpieces.  Bento boxes are economical because they are reusable and help keep plastic snack and sandwich bags out of landfills.

What can I put in my child’s bento box?

The options are endless, but here are some ideas:

  • Sliced hard-boiled eggs;
  • A mini-bagel sandwich with almond butter, jelly or another spread;
  • Sliced strawberries, blueberries and kiwis;
  • Cheese cubes;
  • Pretzels;
  • Sliced grapes;
  • A muffin;
  • Mini-pita sandwiches filled with cheese and pepperoni;
  • Sliced pineapple;
  • Celery and carrot sticks;
  • Cucumber slices;
  • A turkey and cheese sandwich on a Hawaiian roll;
  • Veggie chips;
  • Rice molds;
  • Chickpeas and black beans;
  • Raisins and chocolate chips;
  • Sandwich rounds with ham, cheese and avocado.

Enjoy making bento box lunches!

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