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Posts Tagged ‘Family dynamics’

Staying Connected and Enriching Lives

The Goddard SchoolStaying connected with family members who live in different parts of the country and different parts of the world is easier than ever, but young children often act shy when they are asked to come to the phone to say hello or to smile for the camera during a video call.

We want to make these special times meaningful because young children benefit from their relationships with their extended family. Grandparents and other family members can be great role models and influences, and they provide a sense of cultural heritage and family history.

We have compiled the following tips to help your little ones feel more connected to their grandparents no matter how far away they are.

  • Have a regular call time. Remind your child about the call early in the day and a few minutes before the call. Children may be reluctant to talk when they aren’t prepared and the call interrupts their play;
  • Plan on a special activity they can do during the video call, such as reading a book together or drawing their favorite animal and sharing it on the call;
  • Have a show and tell session. You and your child can discuss something that happened earlier that day or week and show photos or artwork from the event;
  • Ask your child’s grandparents to help your child plan what they will do together on the next visit. You can mark it on a calendar with your child later;
  • Ask your child’s grandparents to play peekaboo with or sing to your very young children.

Of course, these tips also work for face-to-face meetings. Have fun creating new memories, and don’t forget to record them!

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!

BENEFITS TO CHILDREN WHEN BOTH PARENTS WORK

The Goddard SchoolThe Goddard School® community is continually growing. Families of all types choose our Schools to educate their children and nurture them into confident, joyful learners. Families bring their children to The Goddard School for the value of our early childhood education program. Often, both parents work full-time and are seeking the extended hours of care our Schools provide and The Goddard School’s playful, nurturing approach to learning. Parents and children experience benefits and challenges when both parents work. Here are some benefits:

  • Children receive developmentally appropriate lessons that parents may overlook or not realize their child is ready to learn;
  • Parents have added peace of mind knowing that their child is being prepared for elementary school;
  • When they are placed in a setting with their peers, children form strong socialization skills;
  • Children who spend time away from their parents at an early age may show less separation anxiety;
  • With parents both working, children adjust to a normal routine;
  • Teachers reinforce lessons about manners, sharing and other necessary life skills at school;
  • Parents appreciate the quality time they get with their children, and weekends with the family are highly valued;
  • Children learn to listen, communicate, cooperate and collaborate from spending time with people other than their parents;
  • Parents may find that time away from home filled with adult interaction is energizing and helps them appreciate their families.

While the choice to return to work may be a difficult decision for a mother or father to make, children can benefit if their parents both work.  The Goddard School collaborates with parents to ensure the children are getting the best possible care and the best early childhood education in a nurturing and joyful environment, which can be a huge help as parents navigate the world of parenting.

When an Older Sibling Acts Out

If your older child is acting out, she may be feeling less important than a younger sibling, who may have more needs—and require more of your time. While she may be verbal or even conversational at this point, she may not be developmentally able to express complicated feelings; she doesn’t realize why she’s acting out.

Making sure that each child receives a fair share of your time can be a challenge! Squeezing in a few special moments or rewards for your older child can help to feel more important.

Here are some ideas you may want to consider:

  • If you have to run a quick errand (and someone is available to supervise the younger one), bring your older child along. A quick run to the post office can feel like a special adventure when it’s presented as special time together.
  • Allow your older child to stay up a bit later—even it’s just 15 minutes. Save a special “big kid” activity just for this time such as a pop-up book, paper dolls or a special model truck.
  • Offer to read an extra story before bedtime—just the two of you.

Newbie-Doobie-Do: The Birth of a New Sibling

While you are eagerly awaiting your new baby, your older child may be feeling a whole swirl of emotions—including feeling a little left out. So, in addition to preparing for the “newbie,” now is the time to reinforce your child’s sense of belonging. As basic as it may seem, take some extra time to reassure your child that they will have just as meaningful a place in the family after the new baby arrives—and in fact, even more so since they will now get to be a big brother/sister!

Be prepared to talk about specific highlights and positive ways in which your child will be included, from helping to care for and be a protector of the new baby, to having someone to share the fun with, etc. If you have a sibling, share with your child some of your fun memories of growing up with a brother or sister.

Be sure to involve your child in the preparations for the new baby—let him or her select the outfit the new sibling will come home in, help him or her to create something special to hang up in the new baby’s room—even let him or her pick the color of the baby’s room (from colors you’ve narrowed down, of course).

Equally as important, be sure to make some extra special quality time for you and your child to bond—have a little picnic in the park, cuddle up for story time or bake up a batch of your child’s favorite cookies. Focus your attention only on him or her and steer clear of talk of the new baby during this quality time. Let your child know that these one-on-one get-togethers will continue even once the new baby has arrived—and be sure to follow through.

Research Shows Fathers are More Involved Than Ever

One of the largest studies of its kind gauges top concerns and focuses on the 21st Century father

A comprehensive study sponsored by The Goddard School® for Early Childhood Development and conducted by BluePrint Research Group, shows that fathers are more involved in their children’s lives as decision-makers and caregivers than ever before.

The Goddard School, with the guidance of Dr. Kyle D. Pruett, advisor to The Goddard School and internationally known child psychiatrist and author, sponsored the research in order to learn more about the changing dynamics of the father/child relationship, the areas of concern for fathers and fathers’ involvement in their children’s lives.

“While there’s an abundance of research on mother/child relationships available, there is only a fraction highlighting the father/child relationship and fathers’ roles in the home,” Pruett said. “We felt it was imperative, given the changes in the family in recent generations to look into the importance of fathers in the lives of our nation’s children.  And we found some surprises.”

The findings, drawn from a survey of over 1,000 fathers across the United States, revealed a ‘top ten’ of areas in which fathers are most focused on their children’s welfare—notably regardless of income bracket, race or ethnicity. The list, in order of importance, includes:

  1. Providing basic needs (food, clothing, shelter)
  2. Providing and maintaining a safe home environment
  3. Giving financial support
  4. Ensuring children have a good education
  5. Teaching children to respect their mothers
  6. Providing healthcare
  7. Supporting their children’s mothers
  8. Telling their children they love them
  9. Understanding and relating to their to children’s problems
  10. Spending quality time with their children

“When Dr. Pruett approached us with the idea of conducting this type research on fathers, we immediately agreed because it aligns perfectly with our mission to understand the needs of both parents and children,” said Lisa Fisher, Director of Marketing, Goddard Systems, Inc (franchisor of The Goddard School). “We conduct ongoing research with parents (usually mothers) and children. Our research focus is to help us understand the role our schools play in families’ lives—relationships with teachers, curriculum development, environment and materials.  And then, about two years ago, we conducted our first qualitative research with fathers.  We saw a growing number of fathers who were involved in the ‘school decision’ and their children’s overall education plan; we knew we needed to be at the forefront of research about fathers.”

In addition to fathers providing good home lives and emotional support to their children, researchers also discovered that providing a good education for their child ranks most important for fathers in terms of being a role model, with three out of four fathers visiting a preschool before enrolling their child.

“Since we opened our doors, almost 25 years ago, the role of fathers in choosing a preschool for their children has changed—we’ve seen and heard this anecdotally from school owners and education directors,” adds Fisher. “While fathers have always been involved in our schools, the level of involvement seems to have shifted—and this is supported by the new research.  Today’s fathers want to learn more about their child’s program, experience the overall environment and to understand what their child will be learning—before they commit to enrollment.”

Pruett attributes the influx of a father’s involvement in the preschool enrollment process to their desire and need to feel that they are making a financially sound decision—a good investment into their child’s future.  “This is one of the largest U.S. studies of fathers and fathering values that cuts across income brackets, races and ethnicity in order to be complete and balanced,” said Pruett.

Pruett said the researchers surveyed fathers from diverse demographic groups to ensure the broadest possible understanding of how American fathers perceive their roles in their families and particularly their children’s lives.

Sibling Rivalry Rx

Disagreements are inevitable in any relationship; the connection with siblings is no different. There are various types of conflict that can arise between siblings and they often stem from underlying feelings. Determining the root cause and addressing the feelings directly in these situations is best, instead of dealing with the matter at hand. The way parents handle these rivalries will ultimately shape the way their children treat each other. So, lead by example. By practicing a problem-solving approach, parents can use these situations as teachable moments in which conflict resolution and self-help skills are instilled.  This will ultimately benefit their relationships throughout their life. Below are common reasons siblings squabble along with some strategies to foster peace.

Injustice

A feeling of injustice may cause a child to act out if they are frustrated and believe they are being victimized. Instead of deciding who is at fault or punishing both children for fighting, try to accept and acknowledge each child’s viewpoint and help them to express their feelings to each other. Find resolution to the problem by having your children generate solutions of their own that they can agree on.

Monotony

Getting a great reaction from bugging a sibling out of boredom is sometimes all a child needs to create their own fun. In lieu of punishment or ignoring the problem, try to redirect the child’s attention by getting them involved in a fun activity or asking them to help you accomplish a chore or task.

Parental Awareness

If a child feels like they are not receiving what they crave from a parent, their actions may be a ploy to get attention…positive or negative. Avoid giving negative attention in the form of punishment but be sure to recognize when you observe positive sibling interactions. Try to create more alone time with each child individually.

Mounted Resentment

This usually occurs when unproductive parenting strategies have been used. When parents attempt to stop arguments instead of teaching children to resolve their issues, the lesson of conflict management is lost. In this scenario, a likely reaction is for children to harbor resentment toward parents and their siblings. This sometimes manifests into constant revenge; siblings often look to slyly pick on each other when they think parents are not watching. Steer clear of labeling and comparisons as well as revoking privileges. As an alternative, encourage each child’s positive efforts you witness. Although this may not seem to be a worthy form of discipline, reinforcement of positive behaviors is very effective.

Keeping in Touch: Family Newsletters

Nowadays it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with family and friends. Email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and such allow us to keep our loved ones (and the world) apprised of our every action. But in the age of 140-character limits, sometimes it’s difficult to get the whole story across.

Most commonly used at holiday time, family newsletters are a great way to keep family and friends both near and far up to date on all of your family’s happenings throughout the year as well. Set aside some time every few months (or every month, if possible) to jot down the latest news, with details—trips, activities, milestones, birthdays, promotions, etc. You can send a mass email or post it to your blog, but consider sending “snail mail” versions on decorative paper (preferably decorated by the children) to very special family members like grandma and grandpa. It’ll be a nice surprise in their mailbox and they’ll anxiously await each new newsletter!

If you’d like to take your newsletter to the next level, take a family vote on a name for your newsletter like the “Griffin Gazette” or the “Thompson Times.” Add sections for jokes and riddles, upcoming events and a family photo or two. Working together as a family to compile your newsletter is a great way to foster collaboration and communication while having fun!

Grandparents to the Rescue!

Infant Boy WalkingOur energy-filled children can exhaust even the most active of grandparents—and us for that matter! If we are lucky enough to be able to count on beloved grandma,  great-auntie or another older family member to provide care for our little ones while we steal a few hours for ourselves, a night away or even just a less chaotic run to the market, a few advance preparations may help put our minds at ease.

  • Consider setting up the pack-n-play or nap area and a changing area on the main level to help alleviate the extra trips up and down the stairs for diaper changes, clean bibs, forgotten binkies and blankies.
  • If your child requires a specific diet, bottles or is just plain picky, prepare all meals/bottles in advance and place in a bin in your fridge. Clearly communicate what snacks are and are not okay for your child to have—a little spoiling now and then is acceptable, but some treats may be choking hazards or not age-appropriate, e.g. cookies may be fine, while chewing gum, hard candy and lollipops are not.
  • Pre-arrange your child’s sleeping area to include only the items that your child is allowed to nap/sleep with and communicate that to your caregiver. Remind grandma that the baby does not get an extra blanket and must always be placed on her back to sleep and your toddler may not bring additional toys or wear barrettes to bed.
  • Be sure that all dangerous items including cleaning supplies and medicines are out of reach, including anything that your caregiver may have brought in his or her suitcase or handbag.
  • Post (and point out) a clear list of emergency contact numbers, including your pediatrician’s office, Poison Control, a neighbor (if available) and your cell phone number—in emergencies, even memorized numbers may be forgotten. Encourage grandma to give you a call with any questions or to make the appropriate call if she feels help is needed.

Grandparents and Young Children

Does the following aphorism strike you as cynical or enlightened? Grandparents are close to their grandchildren because they share a common enemy.

I didn’t much appreciate this irony until I became a grandparent myself. The middle generation is the reason the grandkids exist in the first place, but they are also the ‘common enemy’ against which the forces of wisdom (grandparent) and immortality (grandchild) are arrayed. Grandparenthood enjoys the privileges of age and experience, and grandchildren (seeming) agelessness and inexperience. Only the ‘middlers’ bear the ultimate responsibility for damage control, missed bedtimes and nutritional excesses. Everything else is just plain old fun seasoned with pride.

But is this traditional view of grandparenting changing along with the American family? About 10% of all grandparents are caring for their grandchildren over 30 hours a week and/or 90+ sleepovers a year. Does this take a toll? Interestingly, caring for the young seems not only to have few negative effects on the older generation’s health, babysitting for them may be especially beneficial for grandmothers (grandfathers – as usual – await study).  This is not to say it’s always a piece of cake to smoothly manage all these needs spanning three generations.

Having two sets of grandparents should be a blessing, right? More helping hands, assets, etc.? But what if the styles and values of the grandparents differ significantly? For example-one pair childproofs the house for young visitors while the other refuses to do so ‘because it’s not good to teach children that the world can be changed to accommodate their needs.’ One routinely takes them shopping and the other insists that when they come to visit, they bring their own toys ‘since they don’t intend to spoil anyone.’

The effects of such variations on the grandparenting theme are less toxic to kids than to their parents since they learn early that it’s ‘G’Mom/Dad’s loving that matters; the goods and services are nice, but it’s being adored so unconditionally that feels so great. Not that the latter can’t be taken to the extreme occasionally. When my wife and I were recently consulting to an owner of multiple childcare centers in Shanghai and Peking, we heard, with troubling frequency, of young children ‘behaving so imperiously, defying teacher authority repeatedly’ because – according his head teachers – they are ‘treated like little emperors/empresses by four doting grandparents’ per child (given China’s one child policy).

Some suggestions to avoid such pitfalls while establishing lasting closeness through unique grandparent/child activities are listed below:

  • pick a series of picture or chapter books that are shared only between grandparent and grandchild
  • chose a particular destination for the skipped generation pairing –a manageable museum, a public park, breakfast/desert outings
  • apprentice the grandchild to a grandparent’s passion – dominoes, cooking, card games, fishing, a team sport (fan or participant)
  • memory moments stimulated by old photos, or recollections of parental childhood, or just ‘when I was your age…’
  • a ‘treasure box’ of things kept at grandparent’s house that are only played with, or worn, there
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