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Archive for March, 2014

Preventing Bullying from an Early Age

To ensure our children treat others fairly and speak up when they see a peer being bullied, we should start teaching them these behaviors while they are young and build on their natural ability to show empathy. Empathy, a key tool in dealing with and preventing bullying, shows up as early as the toddler years (picture a toddler offering a hug or a stuffed animal to a friend who feels sad).

Recently, a Harris poll found that two-thirds of parents worry about their young children being bullied. This result should inspire us to have deeper conversations on this subject and develop new and creative ways to educate and inform our youngsters about what bullying really is, how they can prevent it and how to find the appropriate channels for reporting it if or when it occurs.

Bullying Versus Typical Behavior

Bullying differs from typical day-to-day conflicts. Toddlers are starting to explore their independence and using their new vocabulary to assert it. If a peer tries to play with a toy they want, the back-and-forth “mine!” game begins. This is typical toddler behavior. Bullying involves behavior that is aggressive, intentional and intended to intimidate a specific peer. Determining what is bullying and what normal behavior is for toddlers is difficult because young children are still learning right from wrong and acceptable play behavior.

Fostering Empathy and Teaching Children to Speak Up

As parents, our duty is to foster empathy in our children. We can pay close attention to small acts of kindness our children display, praise them for being considerate and encourage them to speak up when someone is being mistreated. Since bullying is fueled by silence, we can help stop it by teaching our children to treat others kindly and speak up at appropriate times.

Supporting Your Child’s Friendships

The Goddard SchoolWhen children outgrow the ‘mine’ stage and begin to share with others and make friends, these new friends will occasionally argue over a toy or game. As parents, we are often tempted to solve the problem for our children or talk with the other child’s parent. While this may calm things down for the moment, it does not help our children learn the give and take of a friendship.

Help children learn to solve problems themselves with the following proven steps.

  1. Talk about the situation to help your child understand the other child’s point of view. “I guess Kyle wants a turn, too.”
  2. Stay calm and let your child know that hitting, grabbing and shoving hurt other people. “You hurt me when you grab the toy, and I don’t like that.”
  3. Model sharing for your child and congratulate your child when he takes turns or shares a toy. “Wow, you guys are having fun. I like watching you play together!”
  4. Be nearby. Watch and guide the children as they solve conflicts. Once the children resolve the conflict, step in and praise the children. Having an adult close by puts the children on their best behavior, and developing good social skills leads to fun and enjoyable play dates with friends.
  5. Don’t overwhelm your child with play dates. Hold your first play dates with friends your child feels comfortable with and have several activities ready. During the play date, let the children choose which activity to do.
  6. Have bedtime talks and read stories. Talk about the friendships your child is building and read books on friendship. Children learn how others cope in social situations through stories.

Five Tips for Healthy Eating

  • Offer encouragement – Encourage your child to eat a variety of foods to help them get the nutrients they need from each food group.  By doing so, they are more likely to enjoy trying new foods!
  • Be a good role model – It’s no surprise that children are likely to mimic their parents’ food choices.  If your children see you enjoying fruits, vegetables and whole grains, they will more likely enjoy them as well.The Goddard School
  • Stock up on healthy choices – Make sure that your cupboards and refrigerator are filled with healthy options rather than prepackaged foods filled with sugar and sodium. Read food labels before purchasing so you know exactly what’s in the foods you are buying—just because it’s made with whole grains doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy.
  • Serve balanced portions – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has turned the Food Pyramid into a plate. The USDA’s MyPlate illustrates balanced portion sizes for the five foods groups—Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein and Dairy—in a familiar way by using a standard mealtime place setting.
  • Follow a schedule – Set a daily schedule for meals and snacks (3 meals & 1-2 snacks per day is recommended), with plenty of time between each.  This will help children learn the importance of structured eating and help them to stay feeling full throughout the day.