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Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

Bento Box Mania!

What is a bento box?

Bento box lunches have been increasing in popularity among families with preschoolers and school-age children. Google the term “bento box lunch” and you will find a wealth of resources, including blogs, Pinterest pages and online retailers selling basic and whimsical options. If a parent is artistic, the child’s lunch can become a work of art.

Why does it work well for school lunches?

Bento boxes work well for school lunches and snacks because they protect food in a sealed container and keep food groups separate. If you have a picky eater who does not like foods touching, a bento box may keep your child happy. Parents can have fun creating different lunchtime masterpieces. Bento boxes are also economical because they are reusable and help keep plastic snack and sandwich bags out of landfills.

What are the nutritional benefits of bento boxes?

Bento boxes are appealing because they provide a creative way to add a variety of foods to a child’s lunch while keeping wet foods separate from dry foods. By introducing different, healthy foods early in your child’s life, he or she may develop a preference for those foods as well as a more diverse palate. You can also turn the preparation of the bento box into a learning activity by asking your child what each food is, where it comes from, how it’s made and so on. Engaging your child in the experience may help to build and reinforce a child’s love of diverse, nutritious foods while fostering a love of learning.

What can I put in my child’s bento box?

The options are endless, but here are some ideas:

  • Sliced hard-boiled eggs;
  • A mini-bagel sandwich with almond butter, jelly or another spread;
  • Sliced strawberries, blueberries and kiwis;
  • Cheese cubes;
  • Pretzels;
  • Sliced grapes;
  • A muffin;
  • Mini-pita sandwiches filled with cheese and pepperoni;
  • Sliced pineapple;
  • Celery and carrot sticks;
  • Cucumber slices;
  • A turkey and cheese sandwich on a Hawaiian roll;
  • Veggie chips;
  • Rice molds;
  • Chickpeas and black beans;
  • Raisins and chocolate chips;
  • Sandwich rounds with ham, cheese and avocado.

Enjoy making bento box lunches!

Five Ways to Discourage Children from Lying

Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and member of The Goddard School Educational Advisory Board, offers five ways to discourage children from lying.

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  1. Keep your cool when your child lies. Try to say ‘Oh,’ or ‘Okay,’ to give yourself some time to think about what to say next. Something like ‘I wonder what happened to the flowers’ works better than ‘Whoever did this had better tell the truth (‘or else!’ is implied).’ This strategy makes it easier for children to be truthful and improves your chances of hearing the truth later as they will feel less intimidated.
  2. Calmly, try to help your child understand why he lied and what he can do next time to avoid lying.
  3. Explain to your child that it’s okay to make a mistake and that she doesn’t have to lie about it. Also remember to praise your child for admitting that she made a mistake. Lying lessens when it’s safe to tell the truth.
  4. When you are on the fence about whether or not to believe your preschooler, err on the side of believing that your child is telling the truth. Or his version of it. After all, imagination is a powerful and creative force that might cause a child to tell a lie that he thinks is true. For example, a child might claim that there is a monster in the closet when that obviously isn’t true.
  5. Be aware that you are under constant scrutiny and that the ‘innocent’ white lie that you can’t make a donation to a charitable organization because you don’t have any cash, for instance, will be noticed by your child. Set a good example and remember that the truth starts at home.

Meeting the Dentist

Your baby’s teeth are just as vital as your adult teeth. Primary teeth create space for permanent teeth. They also help your little one when she begins speaking and chewing food. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a child’s first dental visit should be after her first tooth arrives, and it should occur before her first birthday, whichever exciting event happens first.

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It is important to schedule a visit early. This will allow your dentist to check for any signs of dental problems, like tooth decay or issues from extended thumb sucking, before they become severe. The dentist can also show you the best way to clean your child’s teeth, recommend oral care products and answer any questions you may have about the growth of your child’s teeth. After assessing your child’s teeth, gums and jaw, your dentist can recommend when to schedule a second visit.

A Child’s First Pet

Many children plead, “Please mom, dad, I need one. I’ll take good care of it.” Can you guess what this is all about? Yes, that furry bundle of responsibility known as a pet. As parents, our first thoughts might be the dirty messes in our homes, the many extra expenses or the cold, nightly walks with a beloved fur ball in less than ideal weather. However, a pet can be a great friend for your child; it can teach him responsibility and provide him with many other benefits.

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Having a pet offers your child a best friend, a constant companion and an audience to listen to her imaginative stories. This will boost her confidence while she is learning to read. Some children can be shy about reading out loud. Reading to a pet can provide your child with a reason to practice reading aloud without feeling embarrassed, leading to increased reading skills over time.

Caring for a pet also teaches children responsibility by their having to perform simple tasks that are vital to an animal’s health. This includes feeding the pet on a schedule, cleaning up after the pet and providing it with exercise. Reinforcing the importance of responsibility, even at a young age, can help children learn valuable life lessons.

How does your family’s lovable furry friend benefit your child?

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.