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Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

Six Ways to Cope with Your Child’s First Crush

Navigating the waters of our children’s emotions can be tricky. Learning expert and award-winning writer Susan Magsamen, member of The Goddard School Educational Advisory Board, offers six tips on how to cope with your child’s first crush.twenty20_9d20fa78-9565-49b8-96b5-6ae19b9d349c

  1. Remember what it feels like. Our inexperienced children might feel uncomfortable, vulnerable and self-conscious about a crush. Respect this sensitivity and help them to put words to these feelings if they’re open to talking with you about it. The older they get, the less they will want to talk. Respect this, too.
  2. Keep lines of communication open. Try not to judge your child’s crush. It is easy to start to share your opinion—“She’s cute,” “He’s trouble,” “Be careful” and so on, mirroring your wisdom and experience. Remember it’s unlikely that this is your child’s first and only crush. They are experimenting and learning what it feels like to love others. This is important for setting boundaries and building independence. Encourage them to talk with you. Be open and be a good listener. They’re not usually looking for advice, but they may want a sounding board.
  3. Don’t take it personally. The fact that our children have crushes doesn’t mean they love us less. A strong relationship with a teacher, stepparent, coach or other adult in a child’s life is healthy. There’s more than enough love to go around, and children need to know they don’t have to choose who they love for fear of losing us.
  4. Don’t obsess over their obsession. Crushes can last a short time, even a few days, or longer. Crushes are healthy. Sometimes they are a fantasy or an escape. If they are distracting to the point of interrupting daily routines or if they become emotionally stressful, you may need to intervene. “How much is too much?” is always a question that needs to be considered. Talk with other parents about how they cope with this topic. Since your children are often getting information from many sources, it can be hard to figure out what’s appropriate. If you feel uncomfortable, listen to your instincts.
  5. Offer strategies. Talk to your children about what their goals are. Are they enamored but not interested in letting the crushee know? Are they feeling uncomfortable and wanting to talk about how to feel less stressed? Help them identify their feelings and develop strategies for how to move forward.
  6. Be there for a broken heart. I will never forget the time my son came home from school and said, “How can you love someone and they not love you back?” Unrequited love is by far the most painful. Time and empathy is the only way to heal a broken heart. “Getting back on the horse,” as we all inevitably do, might help too.

Naptime Has Never Been More Fun

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At least for Laura Izumikawa anyway. The photographer, based out of Los Angeles, doesn’t watch T.V. or take a nap herself while her 4-month-old daughter, Joey Marie Choi, sleeps. Instead she dresses Joey in costumes that are sure to put what you wore for Halloween last year to shame, and shares them with family, friends and her 279K followers on Instagram.

While we don’t know Izumikawa’s secret to get Joey to sleep through her time as Beyoncé, Pikachu or the Statue of Liberty, we do have some tips you can follow for a more successful nap time.

  • Choose a regular, daily naptime and stick to it—early afternoon is best.
  • Have your child visit the potty before heading off for their nap.
  • Naps should occur in the same place your child sleeps at night.
  • Choose a calming activity to do for a few minutes before naptime to help your little one wind down, e.g., they can practice a few yoga poses or flip through their favorite book.Capture 2
  • Enter the room with the lights off or dimmed low.
  • Play soothing music or sing a soft lullaby to help them fall asleep.
  • Provide a “lovey” for naptime snuggling.

Four Ways to Encourage Gratitude

072O2495Teaching children how to be grateful is important. Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and member of The Goddard School Educational Advisory Board, offers four tips on how to encourage gratitude.

  1. Regularly express your own thankfulness verbally. Saying things such as “We are very lucky to have grandma nearby” or “I’m thankful to have a son like you in my life” or “Your dad made that so easy for all of us” can help demonstrate the appreciation you have for the people around you.
  2. Express gratitude behaviorally. Take a casserole to a neighbor who has been kind or needs some extra help for whatever reason—even better if the children help you make it. When the hand-me-down toys end their cycle, make a thrift store run with the children in tow.
  3. Make generosity part of your family’s routine. When seasons change, collect clothes from everyone’s closet to donate or take canned goods to the local soup kitchen.
  4. Take the children along on community fundraising activities, runs, walks, etc. Explain to them why this matters to you. Make sure your children meet the organizers and understand the purpose; if it’s personal, it’s remembered.

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 Determinationsomething 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.

Baby Safety Tips

A few helpful tips for first-time moms and dads:

  • Always place your baby on her back to sleep unless your pediatrician advises otherwise for medical reasons;Baby
  • Remember not to put bumpers and blankets in an infant’s crib;
  • Be sure to childproof your home before your baby begins to crawl. Get down to a baby’s level and crawl around looking at your home from a baby’s point of view. Ensure that electrical cords and outlets are child-proof and that TVs and other electrical devices are safe;
  • Make sure that an adult feeds your baby until she can safely hold her own bottle. Propping bottles can be dangerous;
  • Be sure all toys are age appropriate. A great rule of thumb is that toys that fit in an empty toilet paper tube are too small for a baby;
  • Remember that babies are naturally curious. Save the word “No!” for when it really matters, like when safety is concerned.

Six Ways to Help Children Cope With Stress

Childhood can be a stressful time. Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and member of The Goddard School Educational Advisory Board, offers six tips on how to help children cope with stress.

  1. The most effective help comes from adults working to get a better grip on their own stress management. Better-rested and fed adults who try to get regular exercise, communicate and relax regularly with their children are the best models and teachers of stress Stressed Kidmanagement.
  2. Support one or two (not three or four) activities your child does that makes her feel good about herself. Positive self-regard can be great insulation against negative stress effects.
  3. Lose the junk comfort foods and have only healthy ones available.
  4. Monitor screen usage, and limit high-tension, high-speed games and puzzles. Such cheap thrills may result in expensive stress on the immature central nervous system.
  5. We all prefer being useful to stressing out, so use a calm tone when asking a stressed child to engage in, or help you with, a manageable chore.
  6. Help your child clean up one of his spaces in the home. This can show him that he too can control some of the mess that is stressing him out.

Potty Training

Potty training is a major milestone in a child’s life and can be difficult for many parents.

Most children begin to show signs that they are ready for potty training between 18 and 24 months. However, instead of using age as an indicator, look for other signs that your child may be ready to start the process, such as these:twenty20_f33fc0a5-02b6-4782-90db-35bd62a89cda

  • She orally expresses a need to go;
  • She keeps her diaper dry for over two hours;
  • She goes to the potty, sits on it and then gets off the potty;
  • She pulls down her diaper, her disposable training pants or her underpants;
  • She shows an interest in using the potty or in wearing underpants.

During the potty training process, remember that teaching a toddler to use the potty is not an overnight experience. It requires a lot of time, patience and a willingness to accept setbacks. Remember that accidents will happen. Recognizing all the little successes during the process is important. Be sure to praise her each time she attempts to use the toilet, even if nothing happens. If you show disappointment when she wets or soils herself, it can result in a step backward. Instead, offer your support and reassure her that she is close to using the potty like a big girl.

10 Training Tips

Once you see that your child is ready to start learning how to use the potty, these tips may help.

  1. Do not make your child sit on the toilet against her will. Instead, show her how you sit on the toilet and explain to her what you’re doing. Children learn by watching. You can also have her sit on the potty seat and watch while you or one of her siblings uses the toilet.
  2. Establish a routine. For example, you can begin by having her sit on the potty after waking up with a dry diaper or by having her sit on the potty an hour after drinking lots of fluid. Only have her sit on the potty for a few minutes a couple of times a day. Let her get off the potty as soon as she wants.
  3. Try catching her in the act of pooping. Children often give clear cues that they need to use the bathroom: their faces turn red and they may grunt or squat. Many children tend to have a bowel movement around the same time every day.
  4. Have your child sit on the potty 15 to 30 minutes after meals to take advantage of the body’s natural tendency to have a bowel movement after eating. This is called the gastro-colic reflex.
  5. Remove a bowel movement from your child’s diaper, put it in the toilet and tell your child that poop goes in the potty.
  6. Make sure your child’s wardrobe is suitable for potty training. Avoid overalls and onesies. Simple clothes are necessary at this stage of training, and children who are potty training need to be able to undress themselves.
  7. Some parents like to let their child spend some time during the day without a diaper. If she urinates without wearing a diaper, she may be more likely to feel what’s happening and express discomfort. If you opt to keep your child’s bottom bare for a little while, keep the potty close by, protect your rugs and be ready to clean up the mess.
  8. When your son is ready to start urinating standing up, have him play target practice. Show him how to stand so that he can aim his urine stream into the toilet. Some parents use things like cereal pieces as a target for their little guys to hit.
  9. Offer your child small rewards, such as stickers or time reading with Mommy, every time he uses the toilet. You can also let him pick out a few new pairs of big-boy underwear.
  10. Make sure all of your child’s caregivers, including babysitters, grandparents and teachers, follow the same routine and use the same names for body parts and bathroom acts. Let them know how you’re handling the issue and ask them to use the same approaches so your child won’t become confused.

There are some times in which it might be awkward for you to start the toilet-training process. During these periods it may be better to wait until your child’s environment is stable and secure. For example you might want to postpone toilet training:

Just remember that toddlers will let you know when they’re ready. If you’re torn about when to start the potty training process, let your child be your guide.

Five Ways to Encourage Children to Help with Chores

Motivating children to help out around the house can be challenging. Here are five ways to encourage them to lend a hand.

  1. Start your child young. Ask your child to help out as soon as she is able to. Making chores a normal part of home life as early as possible can foster helpful behavior.
  2. Keep tasks small. Break up larger tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. For example, instead of asking your child to help clear the table, ask him to bring each plate over to the sink. Remember to keep each task age appropriate.
  3. Establish a routine. Being consistent can help your child adjust to assisting you with household duties. If you make helping out a regular part of your child’s routine, then she is more likely to do her chores without being asked.
  4. Offer praise. Phrases like “good job” and “you’re so helpful” can be excellent motivators. Try saying, “I can never fold the towels as nicely as you do,” which can make your child feel important and needed. This may inspire him to make it his mission to fold the towels.
  5. Make chores fun. Have a contest to see who can dust the shelves the fastest or who can dry more dishes. You could also put on music and dance around while you clean. The key is to make work enjoyable.

Five Ways to Help Your Child Cope with Disappointment

Disappointments happen to everyone, and there is no way to avoid all of them. Here are five ways to help your child cope with disappointment.

  1. Be there, but give him space. Children react to disappointment differently. Depending on Girlwhether your child is extroverted or introverted, he might want a hug and a pat on the back, or he might want to be left alone for a little while. Wait until he comes to you to comfort him.
  2. Turn a negative into a positive. Reframing a setback in a positive light can help to alleviate your child’s disappointment. Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” (Elkhorne, 1967, p. 52). Looking at a mistake or disappointment as a learning experience can benefit your child’s development.
  3. Try to take your child’s mind off it. Suggest an activity that your child enjoys to help cheer her up. You could also suggest going on an outing. If these don’t appeal to her, let her know that the offers are on the table if she changes her mind.
  4. Set a good example. If your child sees you handle disappointment with dignity, he might, too. Taking responsibility when you make mistakes shows your child that you’re okay and that disappointment happens to everybody.
  5. Watch what you say. Try not to downplay your child’s disappointment or say something like, “That’s life.” Instead, ask your child questions about how she’s feeling or about what happened. Offer to talk through it if she wants.

References

Elkhorne, J. L. (1967, March). Edison: The Fabulous Drone. 73, 46(3), 52.

Ten Little Ways to Say I Love You

Telling your children you love them is one of the best things you can do as a parent, but showing your children you love them is also important. Here are ten ways to show you care.

  1. Write a note to your little one. It can be a simple note that says “I love you,” just something to let your child know you’re thinking about her. Put the note in her lunchbox, under her pillow or in a place where only she will look.Father and Son Hug
  2. Say yes to an unusual request. Did your child request donuts and ice cream for dinner? Does he want to wear his pajamas all day? Relax the rules occasionally.
  3. Keep a record. Recording your child’s early days in a baby book or journal can be a great way to remember all the wonderful little things he does. You can also share this keepsake with him when he’s older.
  4. Listen to her stories. Stop what you’re doing and listen to her recap her day or a recount a game she played with a friend. This simple gesture helps you stay connected with your child.
  5. Ask questions. When your child talks to you, engage her and ask follow-up questions. Creating a dialogue can show her that you’re truly interested in her world and what she has to say.
  6. Share your stories. Your child is just as curious about you as you are about him. Talk to him about what you did for fun when you were his age, or tell him about your first day of school.
  7. Ask her to play her favorite songs. If you’re in the car or at home, ask your child which songs she would like to hear, why she likes that particular type of music or where she first heard the songs. This is a fun, easy way to find out what makes her tick while showing her that you’re interested.
  8. Start a daily tradition. Read a story at bedtime, have an after-school chat or play a game every day to ensure that you two have a special bonding time.
  9. Display her doodles and drawings. Your child pours her heart into every piece of artwork she makes. Hanging up these creations at home or in your office can encourage her creativity while showing your child how important she is to you.
  10. Show him how to do things. If your child wants to know how to bake cookies, teach him. If he asks how to inflate a bike tire, walk him through the process. Your child will remember and cherish those lessons.