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Archive for August, 2010

Setting Limits: Discipline & Action

Teacher & GirlWhen 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.

Ask the Expert: Visual Learners

“Do you have tips for visual learners? My 20 month old sees me do something once and mimics me.”

Blocks - Teacher & BoyVisual learning is a teaching and learning style in which ideas, concepts, data and other information are associated with images and techniques.  Visual learners are attracted to puzzles, mazes and building blocks…and even just a roll of tape!  If your child loves to look at things and learns through observation, he is a visual learner. This learning style is easily recognized by a child’s love of looking at pictures. You can demonstrate an activity to him and he will learn by watching you. Pictures and dry-erase boards are great tools for teaching a visual learner.  When reading to your child, direct his attention to the photos and words, this allows him to see the value of the print.

The Grown Up Life: Marriage and Parenting

Parental and marital burnout is a common fellow traveler at the end of the third parental year.  It should not be ignored, any more than a lump or a polyp.  And it is just as important that you fix it while it is still benign.

It seems to show up now because we finally let ourselves relax a bit, having gotten our kids talking, potty-trained (or at least started), loving and human enough to believe they will at least have a life.  But that’s when we often begin wondering about our own life, sometimes for the first time in years.

Research on family development shows that marital satisfaction can get perilously low early in the lives of kids because they seem to be such huge energy sinks.  Thoughts of “Are-we-having-fun-yet?” guiltily badger mothers and fathers, especially if they keep these thoughts to themselves.  If you are not enjoying parenting, it may mean that you are working too hard at it.  You may be allowing yourself no savor time because you are too busy whipping the process of development into a frenzy.  My father’s favorite relevant quote: “Trying to teach a pig to sing is just a waste of time.  It frustrates the farmer and really irritates the pig.”  Return to being a parent, not a driver, and let your child return to growing instead of balking.

As for the marriage or partnership that spawned this child, it, too, is usually nurtured by a heart-mind connection that requires periodic preventive and reparative maintenance.  The three-year or 36,000-mile (stairs, chasing, cruise & snooze, shopping) check-up is critical for long-term endurance, because if that machine isn’t purring along, the wheels are going to eventually come off, given the road conditions ahead.

Take time to be together and uncover who you are as adults with minds, opinions, ideas, hobbies, yearnings and dreams.  Date, overnight away, lunch, whatever.  Pay someone else to feed or entertain you for a change, to reverse the energy flow.  Replenishing affection between adults takes conscious effort.  Childcare involves so much touching, holding, carrying, bathing and comforting that adult affection can simply get crowded out of a relationship.  But the replenishment of that affectional and intellectual tie between the adults will be especially important in the years to come when the older school-age child wouldn’t get caught dead kissing a parent on the cheek, much less discuss the idea!

Bottom line: you’ll be fine.  Meanwhile, celebrate how far you’ve come together, and whom you have uniquely become together.  These have been golden years to savor and adore.  None of us would amount to anything without each other, and these early parenting years show better than any others.

Making of The Goddard School Play Along Song!

We are pleased to announce the debut of The Goddard School Play Along Song! Watch the ‘making of’ video while enjoying our new song.

  • Download the mp3 from The Goddard School Blog! On the left-hand side (below Ask the Experts), click “Download Song Now.”

Ask the Expert: Different Parenting Styles

My husband thinks I’m too protective of our six-year-old twins and I think he’s not careful enough.  How can I convince him to be more attentive?

One of the blessings for children with two parents is learning that life has more than one voice.  Fathers and mothers nurture, discipline, love and struggle with their children quite differently.  My own research has shown that dads tend to encourage more exploratory behavior, while moms play it closer to home.  These normal tendencies, though not absolute, are intriguing to children.  So enjoy the differences – don’t regret them.

Ready-Set-Play at The Ultimate Block Party: The Arts and Sciences of Play

At The Goddard School, we take play very seriously.  Play is the foundation for learning, fostering self-confidence and developing skills for collaboration, cooperation and problem solving. Play is the first step in a lifetime journey of discovery because it teaches a child about his or her capabilities, strengths and even weaknesses.

That’s why we’re so excited about a great event that’s being planned for October 3, 2010, in New York City’s Central Park.  At The Ultimate Block Party – The Arts and Sciences of Play, families will experience firsthand the vital role play has in learning.  Families can play, discover, cooperate, collaborate, have fun – and begin to understand how play builds important skills for learning.

The Goddard School is proud to be a sponsor of The Ultimate Block Party (UBP), which is the brainchild of a distinguished group of educators and childhood development specialists who have one important goal in mind:  spreading the word that children who build a strong foundation of social, logical and behavioral tools through play will be better equipped to learn and to lead in the future.

While the intent of the day is serious, the focus is on fun with activities ranging from the world’s largest game of Simon Says to sing-alongs and an obstacle course.  Check back with us to find out more about these activities, to discover ways that you can get involved and to learn about resources you can turn to for more information about the “whys” and “hows” of making play a priority for your child.

Ask the Expert: When Should My Child Attend Preschool?

My son is three years old. What’s the right age to put him in a preschool? He is learning a lot of stuff at home – the alphabet, numbers, rhymes, keeping hands clean, sharing, etc.

Reading - Teacher & Boy

There are plenty of benefits of preschool; it can be a great place for children to interact with peers and to learn valuable life lessons such as how to share, take turns and follow rules. At the age of three, children are starting to understand some of these lessons. Children start to participate in cooperative play and the preschool setting encourages this interaction.  Preschool can also prepare children for kindergarten and beyond.

But going to preschool does come with its fair share of emotions, for both the parent and the child. For a child, entering a new environment filled with unfamiliar teachers and children can cause both anxiety and anticipation. For parents, there may be mixed emotions over whether the child is ready for preschool. The more comfortable you are about your decision to place your child in preschool and the more familiar the setting can be made for your child, the fewer problems you – and your little one – will encounter.  The best way to determine if your child is ready for preschool is to let him be involved in the decision-making.  When you start to visit schools, bring him along and talk to him about the school, the activities that you see or participate in, and take cues from him.

Here are some additional resources:

Making a Difference in Your Community

Commitment to family and community is characteristic of Goddard Schools.  We make a difference in our communities by participating in local sponsorship as well as charitable outreach programs.  The children in our schools learn about the importance of helping others and the significance of giving and being a part of their communities.

To build a foundation of good citizenship with your children, foster the essential skills of friendship, compassion, cooperation and kindness. Lead by example and teach your children the significance of helping others. Although there may be some limitations, children of almost every age can give back by participating in their communities every day:

  • Teach children to love and respect nature – plants, animals and even insects. It’s okay to catch crickets, butterflies and tadpoles as long as they are set free after a reasonable observation time.
  • Respect the property of others.  Be a good role model and remember to clean up after the family dog in your neighbor’s yard.
  • Protect the planet and encourage your children to recycle.
  • Your local library can be a great resource for community information. Ask the librarian if they have a list of community events and service organizations that are child friendly and in need of volunteers.

Look for ways to give back to your community that can empower your children.  Let them learn to create change in their own lives and the lives of others.