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Archive for December, 2019

Understanding Toddler and Preschooler Emotional Development

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By Kyle Pruett, Jack Maypole and Lee Scott

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Little ones all develop differently, and it is a bit of a roller coaster. One day they are walking, and the next they go back to crawling again. Another child may be consistently using the toilet, and then when a baby sister arrives he goes back to wetting his pants and asking for a diaper. We often see children who are confident going to school one day and then suddenly cling to a parent when separating the next day. Some will cling to one parent while acting confident with the other.

Early childhood is an amazing time since our children are growing and changing daily.  It is normal for them to struggle with anger and fears that arise as they grow. They can find many situations challenging, such as being separated from a loved one, moving to a new classroom, coping with having a new baby join the family or just things they see on television or hear from older children. Many of these fears are hard for little ones to articulate, so they may act out, cry, have a tantrum or suddenly become very quiet. The key is to recognize a change and support your children by exploring what is upsetting them and by reassuring them by reinforcing the things your children know. (E.g., “When you go to school, you know we will be there at the end of the day to pick you up.”) You can explore more from there.

It is also important to take a measure of how your child is doing physically. A behavioral change may be caused by the impact of physical issues ranging from coughs and colds to constipation. Does your child appear to feel unwell or is your child acting differently from her baseline? Assure yourself your child is in good health (without fever or other signs of physical illness) and that she is acting within usual schedules and rituals and needs (eating, sleeping, pooping). Finally, are there any other identifiable ongoing factors (new meds, a new diet, etc.)? Other times, issues of sleep changes and clinginess can be common responses to common things, such as a nightmare or a reaction to stress in a sibling or family member.

In addition to making adjustments within their world, young children also begin to test their independence. How many times does your toddler say “no” during the day?  This is all part of how they experiment with the world, to test their locus of control on the environment and to see what happens.

All of these adjustments and reactions to transitions and situations in life are normal.  It is how we react and support our little ones along their paths in development that is important. Our goal is to calm children’s anxiousness and at the same time support the development of essential skills they will need later in life such as resilience, self-regulation and working memory.

Resources:

The Emotional Life of the Toddler, by Alicia F. Lieberman, is a wonderful resource that looks into this roller-coaster ride of being a young child (from one to three years old). “Anyone who has followed an active toddler around for a day knows that a child of this age is a whirlwind of explosive, contradictory, and ever-changing emotions,” Alicia Lieberman writes. The book offers an in-depth examination of toddlers’ emotional development and supports parents and educators with ideas on how to support young children’s development.

Zero to Three is an organization focused on ensuring that babies and toddlers benefit from the early connections that are critical to their well-being and development. They provide a great deal of support in a Q&A format to guide parents through the developmental stages of young children. Check out this article on responding to toddler fears on their website. This section describes natural fears for young children and how to react as parents and educators.

Literature Resources:

Books can often help you talk with your children about their fears. It is through the characters and their situations that the children can begin to understand what they are feeling. Here are a few books we use in our classrooms:

  • Oh My Baby, Little One by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Jane Dyer
  • Little Panda by Renata Liwska
  • Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley
  • Lots of Feelings by Shelly Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly
  • When Mama Comes Home Tonight by Eileen Spinelli and Jane Dyer

KidsHealth is a trusted resource for physicians, educators and parents, providing information on both physical and emotional development of children. The section for parents provides developmental charts as a reference for children’s growth.

How to Develop Your Child’s Social-Emotional Learning Skills Through Literature

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By Lee Scott

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

“The early years of life provide the foundation for what is to come in terms of social, intellectual, and moral development. A child’s capacity to think out problems, built from ‘lived experience’ is indicative of social skills, moral reasoning, and intelligence,” writes Darcia Narvaez. This is a critical time for ensuring a strong foundation for what many call the “essential skills,” as social and emotional learning is shown to support the development of attitudes and skills that impact lifelong academic performance and interpersonal skills.

You will find that one effective method to help your children develop these skills is through reading high-quality literature. The stories help children extend their understanding of familiar emotions and social behaviors by presenting them in new contexts, as well as providing opportunities for your children to encounter emotions and social behaviors that they may not be exposed to in their everyday interactions. The characters within each story give children a framework for developing many essential social skills – cooperation, collaboration, listening and taking turns. For example, connections to characters such as Curious George, Sesame Street characters and classics (e.g., The Three Little Pigs, The Little Red Hen) help children learn about how things work and how people react to different situations while they are building vocabulary and developing emotional literacy.

Here are 10 of our favorite books that you and your children will enjoy while learning valuable social and emotional lessons on friendship, collaboration, fears, mistakes, risk-taking, resilience and more:
1. Me First (Laugh-Along Lessons) by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
2. The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord
3. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
4. Oh My Baby, Little One by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Jane Dyer
5. Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg
6. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
7. The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig and Patrice Barton
8. My Mouth Is a Volcano! by Julia Cook and Carrie Hartman
9. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
10. Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley

Five Child-Friendly Ways to Ring in the New Year

Pom Pom Popper from The Goddard School on Vimeo.

Celebrating the new year doesn’t have to mean staying up hours past bedtime. These activities are the perfect way to include your little one in the festivities.

  1. Fast Forward

Sticking it out until midnight can be exhausting for parents and children alike. To ensure everyone is awake enough to celebrate, choose a city a few hours ahead of yours and celebrate when it turns midnight there. It might only be 8:00 PM at your house, but it’s midnight somewhere!

  1. Get Glowing

Bring the fireworks inside with glowsticks. Choose a variety of colors and wave, dance and spin around in a darkened room to mimic the effects of fireworks without having to go outside.

  1. A Toast…with Toast!

Sure, you could pour your child a glass of sparkling grape juice for a typical New Year’s toast, but why not start a new, silly tradition? Toast up some bread, cut it into triangles and toast the new year by “clinking” your toast pieces. Your child will be delighted by this literal adaptation, and everyone will enjoy a quick snack.

  1. Reflections and Resolutions

New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to talk with your child about some favorite moments of the past year and plans for the new one. Here are some questions to help get the conversation going:

  • What was the best thing that happened this year?
  • What was the hardest thing you did this year?
  • What was something you learned this year?
  • What is something new that you want to learn to do next year?
  • What do you think next year will be like?

Use your child’s thoughts as a springboard to talk about New Year’s resolutions and discuss some fun goals that your family can work toward together in 2020.

5. Party Pom-Pom Poppers

This quick craft is sure to generate tons of excitement with your child as you ring in the new year together.

What You’ll Need:

  • A paper cup
  • A balloon
  • A rubber band
  • Pom-poms or confetti in your child’s favorite colors
  • Assorted stickers
  • Scissors

What to Do:

  1. Cut out the bottom of the cup while leaving the bottom rim in place. (This step is for adults only!)
  2. Have your child decorate the outside of the cup with the stickers.
  3. Cut the tip off the balloon. Make sure you cut across the balloon’s “fold” to prevent ripping when you stretch it over the cup.
  4. Knot the balloon at its end, and help your child stretch it over the bottom of the cup. Then, put a rubber band around the balloon to hold it in place.
  5. Fill the cup with pom poms or confetti and help your child stretch the knotted portion of the balloon before letting go!

Handprint Wreath Craft

This handprint wreath is a simple craft to get your children’s creativity flowing. You and your little ones can use this craft throughout the year to make a handprint wreath for each holiday season.

Here are the materials that you’ll need: a paper plate, a pack of colored construction paper, scissors, glue, crayons, paint and markers.

How to create your wreath

1. First, cut out the middle of the paper plate so you are left with just the rim of the plate. This will act as the base for the wreath.

2. Next, let your children sift through the pack of construction paper and pick out the colors they would like to use for this project.

3. Once their favorite colors are chosen, let them trace about 10 to 15 handprints on the sheets of construction paper, and then help them cut out each handprint.

4. Allow your little ones to be artists: let them color, paint and draw on their handprint cutouts to decorate them.

5. Once they are finished, allow your children to start gluing the handprint cutouts onto the rim of the plate.

6. Let the handprints overlap a bit and continue gluing them on until the entire rim of the plate is completely covered by handprints.

7. When finished, loop a piece of ribbon through the wreath, and then tie a bow at the top.

8. Hang the wreath anywhere in your home.

Don’t Have Time to Exercise? Do it With Your Kids

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As a working mom with a to-do list longer than the refrigerator, trying to find time to workout and raise happy, healthy children is nearly impossible. But who says you have to compartmentalize exercising and parenting? By exercising as a family, you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

Staying Fit as a Family

Unless you’re a professional athlete or trainer who works out for a living, exercise shouldn’t be something you separate from the rest of your life. Between work and other responsibilities, you’re already away from your children enough. By bringing them into your workout routine, you can spend quality time with them and stay fit.

There are numerous advantages associated with working out with kids. One of the biggest benefits is that it helps your kids see exercise as normal and healthy, as opposed to something that’s strange and unsatisfactory.

“Not only is including your kid in your workouts an effective way for him or her to have positive associations with exercise, it’s a great way for you to remember that working out shouldn’t always be a chore. So many adults are focused on sets and reps, when they could really benefit from playing,” trainer Naomi Nazario writes in Men’s Health..

The question is, how do you exercise with your kids in a manner that’s safe, effective, and challenging for all ages? The following suggestions may help:

Go For Walks Before or After Dinner

One of the easiest ways to get exercise is to take a nightly walk, either before or after dinner. While this isn’t rigorous exercise, it’s enough to get your blood flowing. Even more importantly, it provides an outlet for having conversations and seeing how your kids are doing on a heart level.

Play Games on the Trampoline

Older kids may enjoy neighborhood walks, but younger kids will get bored pretty quickly. Switch things up to keep each of your children fully engaged.

One idea is to play around on the trampoline – which is an extremely good platform for exercise. It engages your muscles and builds core strength. If you have a trampoline in your backyard, jump together. Don’t have a trampoline? Visit a local trampoline park and play games like H-O-R-S-E or dodgeball. This probably isn’t something you’ll do every day, but it’s a good weekly activity to mix things up.

Play Sports in the Backyard

If you have athletic kids who play sports – or even kids who like the idea of sports – you can get some really good exercise in by playing various games in the backyard or driveway.

For example, you and your kids can have a lot of fun playing basketball, kickball, or even four square. Over time, these may even become family traditions.

Create Fitness Competitions

Kids love competition. If you’re able to make fitness into a game, you’re much more likely to get your children involved on a regular basis. One idea is to have a weekly competition. Something as simple as the loser of a round of a game having to do certain exercises can result in a great workout.

Watch YouTube Workout Videos

As your kids get older and become more interested in organized workout routines, you may think about doing YouTube workout videos together. YouTube has a huge collection of workout videos from both amateurs and professional trainers. They’re free and can be accessed on demand in your own living room.

Finding Balance in Your Life

If you spend too much time working out on your own, you won’t have much of a relationship with your children. If you don’t workout enough, you’ll be unhealthy. Life is all about balance, and you need to look for ways to balance parenting and fitness. As this article shows, a little tweaking makes it possible to do both.

 

This article was written by Emily Green from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.