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Easy Ways to be an Eco-Friendly Family and Teach Children the Importance of Going Green

Bring your family together through environmentally friendly activities. Children (and many adults, too!) tend to think new is better. Springtime and Earth Day remind us to teach our children to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Reduce. Save our planet by saving water. Children enjoy playing in water, especially in the bathtub. At the appropriate age, teach your children to switch to showers in order to conserve water. Explain that grown-ups take showers instead of baths. Children may be more likely to want to be like their adult role models and willingly switch to showers. Since it is easy to lose track of time, you can set timers for your children when they are in the shower to let them know when it is time to get out.

Saving energy is important, and it can be a great reason to optimize family time. Instead of watching TV and playing video games, have a weekly game night with cards, board games and more. This will reduce the amount of electricity your family uses, and it can be an incredibly fun way to build memories together.

Reuse. To show your children that used items can be just as good as new items, consider bringing your children to a consignment shop and letting them pick out something they like. Additionally, you can encourage your children to donate a few items that they no longer use, such as toys and clothing, to charities. This shows children the importance of reusing resources and how it can influence others in their community.

Recycle. It is important to get children involved in recycling, both for the children and for the environment. Consider establishing a competition between family members. First, educate your children about which items can be recycled and which items are trash. Next, provide separate bins for recycled products for each family member. At the end of the week, the family member with the most recycled items wins a prize. Children will feel proud of doing a good job with recycling, which will encourage them to continue. To make the competition more advanced, consider disqualifying one recycled item each time a family member fails to turn off an unnecessary light.

Go green through community service. Cleaning up local streets and parks helps children learn how to take care of the environment and how to work with others. Saving the planet takes teamwork, which is another important concept for children to learn. Participating in community service allows children to have fun interacting with others, which is better than staying cooped up inside with their video games.

Encouraging your children to become more eco-friendly creates a healthier and happier household. Introducing these tips at a young age will inspire them to continue making positive differences in their environment in the future.

Setting Limits: Discipline & Action, by Dr. Kyle Pruett

When setting limits, there are two key points to remember:

  • The fewer words the better.
  • Actions speak louder than words.

Fewer Words

My own decades of experience in clinical practice shows me that when parents use discipline phrases of more than 20 words, their children do not respond most of the time. If the emotional tone of that discipline is negative and nagging, children are particularly deaf. This is so hard for many parents because we feel we are so right (actually righteous), compared to our children. We want to believe that the more we correct them, the better they will behave. The data shows exactly the opposite.

Effective Actions

Few words only work in the self-control area if you back it up with action. Otherwise, internal shame will turn into the humiliation of being useless. When your child bites someone during a visit, take her home after a simple reprimand, and don’t endlessly berate her in her car seat. The action of losing her playtime speaks louder that anything you might say. Handing a spoon to a child who is mashing food into her mouth at dinner beats a lecture on manners.

Your love and opinion of your children matters deeply to them, especially when they are struggling to develop more self-control. Showing your children that their behavior affects the way you feel, helps children understand that you have feelings, too. Empathy and compassion begin to grow. When children see that their evolving self-control can make their parent feel good, the affirmation adds social and cognitive accomplishment to the achievement of controlling one’s behavior.

 

Why and How to Let Your Child Fail

A growing body of research has shown us that grit, determination and resilience are strongly predictive of a person’s success in academics, careers and projects. What do these characteristics look like in children, and how can a parent support the development of these characteristics?

Consider this mother’s story:

My daughter tried out for the second time this year for “stage crew,” a group that assists with school plays. For the second time, she was not picked. It took everything in me not to call the school and try to get her a spot. I began to blame myself, “Do we not give enough to the annual fund?” I felt a strong need to fix this for her – but I thought about it and decided not to call because then I would be the parent who “fixes it” for her children. Later that evening, my daughter said she was upset, but, then to my surprise stated, “There will be another opportunity and I can apply again next year.” And there they were – grit, resilience and determination. They might not have come forward had I solved this problem for her.

 How can you help your children become resilient? Here are some things to consider.

Let them develop their natural resilience. Children are born as little scientists. They explore the world and constantly try to make sense of it. When something fails or when children have difficulty getting something to work, their natural instinct is to keep trying to find a solution. This natural proclivity to work through problems and to find solutions demonstrates grit, determination and resilience.

Let them fail. It is tempting to help your children after every misstep and to provide solutions when they fail. However, creating successes for your children prevents them from creating their own successes. It is better to have your children experience disappointment now under your guidance and care rather than later in life when they do not have you to help guide and coach them. If you let your children try to work things out on their own, they will naturally begin to innovate and find solutions. During this process, you can provide emotional support for them. You can pick them up, dust them off and help them understand what just happened while encouraging them to keep going.

Avoid teaching irrational optimism. It is tempting to tell children that everything will be better. However, irrationally optimistic adults are shown to falter first. The healthier message is that they can sometimes make bad things better. Give your children some responsibility for improving bad situations. Help them learn that sometimes life’s negatives are within our control and we can fix them, and at other times they are not in our control, and we need to understand what our perceptions of them are and what we can do. Give your children a vocabulary to identify and explain their emotions while teaching them coping skills to manage their emotions.

Instill strong values and the belief that it is always worth making things better. When adults face tough times, those who make it through with the least damage and most growth are able to separate what really matters from what seems to matter based on their values. Give your children a strong value set to strengthen them during hard times. Help them to understand what is important and model it. For example, the next time you are in a traffic jam, take the opportunity to have some family time in the car and demonstrate that, while the situation is frustrating, it is insignificant in the big picture. Point out the humor in frustrating times; resilient people can often find humor in tough situations.

More than anything, make sure that your children feel supported and loved. Attachment and security at a young age are paramount in developing these skills.

Spring Into Fun Activities!

Spring has sprung! Welcome the warmer temperatures, blooming flowers and singing birds with these fun activities.

Watercolor Coffee Filter Flowers

Materials

  • Empty ice cube tray
  • Water
  • Food coloring (many colors)
  • Unused coffee filters
  • Pipe cleaners

Instructions

  1. Lay down some newspaper for easy clean up.
  2. Fill an empty ice cube tray with water.
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring to each section.
  4. Dip a coffee filter into one or all of the colors. Dip a corner, dip the whole thing – be creative!
  5. Once the filter is dyed, lay it out on a paper towel to dry.
  6. After it dries, pinch the middle of the filter, making it into a point.
  7. Wrap part of a pipe cleaner around the point.
  8. Enjoy the flower on its own or make other flowers to form a bouquet!

Wildflower Scrapbook

Materials

  • Variety of wildflowers
  • Transparent tape
  • Blank notebook

Instructions

Go to a park or your own backyard and pick some wildflowers. Select a wide variety of flowers, and when you get home, ask your child questions about each one – what does it look like? what colors does he/she see? how does it smell? Write down the answers in a notebook, leaving some space next to each entry, and lay out each flower to dry. Once the flowers are dried, tape each one next to its description in the notebook. You can even add flowers to it when your child picks new ones. It’s educational, fun and makes a great keepsake!

*An adult should oversee all activities. Activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

Managing Parental Emotions of Childcare by Dr. Kyle Pruett

Managing Parental Emotions of Childcare

Don’t pretend you’re fine when you’re not.

It’s much better to acknowledge your feelings.  It’s normal to feel grief at this change.  You will come through sooner and better if you face your feelings head on.

Don’t believe you are a bad parent for choosing childcare.

If you have chosen a good center or caregiver, you can be confident that your child is in good hands, so there is no logical reason to feel guilty.  But if you continue to feel guilty, it’s important to come to grips with these feelings.  Be especially alert if you are tempted to change your parenting style.  For example, some parents start easing up on setting limits to compensate for their guilt.  Such behavior leads nowhere you or your child want to go.

Don’t become critical of your child’s caregiver.

It’s important to have a good relationship with caregivers.  Their observations and advice can be extremely helpful to your parenting.  If you find you feel critical even though the caregiver’s work doesn’t merit such an attitude, recognize that your feelings are a part of the separation process.  Then begin to focus on the caregiver’s talents and good qualities.  Rest assured that no caregiver will take your place in your child’s life or heart.  The new attachments to other warm and loving caregivers are beneficial.  They also are good signs of your child’s emotional maturity and your achievement in nurturing that maturity.

Don’t underestimate the importance of the transition to childcare.

If you pretend the new routine doesn’t matter, you may underestimate the good things that can come from this new experience for your child and you – new friends, new learning, new sources of information and new ideas on parenting.

Facing a Power Outage

When a strong, windy storm results in a power outage, some young children may become afraid, especially in the evening when it’s dark outside. Follow these steps to make power outages seem less scary and even enjoyable for your little ones.

  1.  Be prepared. Before a big storm, make sure you have at least two working flashlights and plenty of batteries for them.
  2.  Be safe. Light candles, out of the reach of children, in each room. Make sure to have a well lit path from the living room to the kitchen, to the bathroom and to wherever you and your child
  3.  Be smart. Call your power company to find out the estimated time to restore the power. It will seem less scary to your little one if she knows when the lights will come back on. Consider incorporating a fun game of counting down each hour.
  4.  Be wise. Have planned activities ready for your child in order to avoid boredom. Here are a few activities that you can include:
    • Card games such as go fish
    • Coloring and other arts and crafts
    • A taste test with things found in your kitchen – Lay out a few plates with different foods on them. Have your child cover his eyes and ask him what is on each plate.
    • A sock puppet show – Guide your child in making faces on the socks, and then put on a puppet show.
    • A concert – Ask your child to use his imagination and gather things and from around the house that can be used to create music like pots, pans and bells. Then make some music.
    • Special time – Snuggle up and read a book together.

What are some activities your family does together during power outages?

 

Temper Tantrums: The Parental Armageddon by Dr. Kyle Pruett

Temper Tantrums: The Parental Armageddon

It’s a universally recognizable scenario which qualifies as the Armageddon of parenthood. A red face; ear piercing, soul scratching, vocal cord hemorrhaging screams and body thrashing – all characteristics of the temper tantrum. As a father of four, and grandfather, I’ve seen hundreds of temper tantrums. Each and every one has left me feeling more or less spent, not to mention saddened as a parent. Where do they come from and what can be done about them? During the holiday season, when they tend to peak, it seems timely to review what might be helpful.

The most common age for this behavior is between 3 ½ and 4 ½ years – the twelve to eighteen months before they start kindergarten. Tantrums seem to cluster around those moments when your children – and often you – are hungry, tired, scurrying about, running late and/or stressed out. It’s important to remember that they don’t usually ‘come out of nowhere’ – they tend to be a last straw for your child. Developmentally, they occur when children are struggling to manage their bodies (often having just finished toilet training) and their emotions (aggression, frustration).

My colleagues at Yale’s Parenting Center have been looking at temper tantrum management for years and are on the right track from my view point. They have highlighted the single most critical component of the parent/child temper tantrum interaction – the parental tendency to equal the child’s emotional intensity. This is not helpful. Your child is almost completely unaware of the storm he/she’s making, so when you leap in emotionally and physically charged ‘to get your child’s attention and stop this,’ your child ‘reacts’ to your intensity and escalation is the name of the game.

Their advice (with which I concur):

  • Forget punishment and yelling. It could terrify or confuse your child, often has no relevance to their distress given their immature sense of cause and effect, and only briefly satisfies your need to be in control.
  • Stay calm. Count to ten, turn away briefly, bite your lip, and above all – breathe – this way you won’t fuel the fire and it allows you and your child to recover more quickly.
  • Ignore the negative behavior. This de-escalates the tantrum faster than any other single thing a parent can do.
  • Turn your attention to praising the next ‘good thing’ your child does. Be very specific about what you appreciate and why, be sincere in your tone and behavior, and look them in the eye.

After a few weeks of these tactics, you’ll notice the tantruming is less frequent and less severe. One day you’ll look back and say, ‘Wow, it’s been months since the last meltdown.’

 

 

Want to Raise Successful Kids? Science Says Praise Them Like This. (Most Parents Do the Opposite)

A very interesting  and great article by Bill Murphy, JR., from Inc., about a very well researched study on the best way to raise successful kids.

A YouTube link is also included below, featuring an RSA Animate, of the same article with additional details for your viewing pleasure.

Inc. Article

http://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/want-to-raise-successful-kids-science-says-praise-them-like-this-most-parents-do.html

 

YouTube RSA Animate 

The Fathering Phenomenon

A Father’s Involvement Is Critical to a Child’s Healthy Growth and Development.

 Prior to the 1970’s, being a parent meant taking the place of a child’s mother.  In fact, the word mother is synonymous with to look after, care for, and protect.  Today, we know that men and women differ in their ways of relating to their child.  The role of each parent is significant but research supports that a father’s role is not only essential but unique.

Research on fatherhood shows children who perform better in school and exhibit less behavior problems have involved nurturing fathers.  This may be due to a father’s unique perspective on parenting.  A father’s interaction with their child differs from their mother’s on everything from discipline to play.  An everyday child rearing task can turn into a stimulating event because fathers tend to engage more physically with their children, especially when playing.  However, fathers want their children to have good behavior and discipline them knowing they will not suffer as many consequences and will be more easily accepted by the outside world.

Quote from Dr. Kyle Pruett

“Children raised by involved dads are thriving, healthy kids, and fathers do not mother any more than mothers father” says Dr. Kyle Pruett, a clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale University’s Child Study Center.

That is why The Goddard School® proactively builds a foundation of trust with parents to help them accomplish the difficult job of parenting.  Several elements work simultaneously to develop the cooperative relationship Goddard strives to have with their families.  The Goddard School® provides families with Goddard Parent Guides featuring Dr. Kyle Pruett’s advice on fathering, biting, and many more child development topics.  These parents also receive the Goddard Parent, a quarterly publication with topical information.  In addition, the parents receive a “Daily Activity Report” to establish ongoing communication about what happens each day with their child.

What to Know While Your Baby Grows

Becoming a mother is one of the most amazing experiences you can have. Your child will change you and shape your life in ways that you cannot yet imagine. Here are five important things to remember during your pregnancy.

  1. Do research, but don’t go overboard. Learning about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting is good, but overloading on information might cause undue stress and worry. Know when to say when.
  2. Trust your instincts. Having moments of nervousness or self-doubt while you are pregnant is common and completely normal. Trust your instincts and your doctor.
  3. Ask for or accept help. It’s okay to ask for help. Many people will want to help you. If you want their help, accept it.
  4. Take a first-time parents class. Use this opportunity to ask questions, practice breathing techniques, develop a birth plan, network with other new parents and much more.
  5. Assemble a dream team. When you’re about five months into your pregnancy, start thinking about who you want on your “baby team,” both while you’re pregnant and after you’ve given birth. For example, find a good pediatrician. Consider recommendations from trusted friends and family members, and do your own research, too.