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Posts Tagged ‘Family dynamics’

How to Keep Your Children Connected with Their Grandparents

grandparent holding baby

By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

I remember my grandmother so vividly – her huge laugh and her insistence on the proper way to make a cup of tea. I also remember the lessons learned from her, and that connection has influenced my life to this day. Research in brain development shows that the interactions between children and their families build connections among neurons¹. Building positive and strong personal relationships helps to promote healthy brain development.   

My grandmother lived in England, so I did not see her often, but I still have a collection of those blue airmail letters that kept us in touch. We are more fortunate today. There are many more ways to stay connected when you live far away. 

The book Connecting Families: The Impact of New Communication Technologies on Domestic Life, edited by CarmanNeustaedter, Steve Harrison and Abigail Sellen, is about how technology has changed how families interact. The positive aspects include the ability to develop closely bonded relationships with family and friends both near and far.  

Here are a few approaches that can support your family in staying connected. The key is to do things that come naturally to all of you and are highly interesting to your children. This will help keep these virtual visits more fun and meaningful. 

Sharing routines – Spend a few minutes each day doing something fun, like a morning stretch or a few yoga poses. This could also be a time to chat about a plan for the day or eat breakfast together. Prop up the phone or tablet on the table, and share a mealtime. 

Reading a book – Your child can pick out a favorite story. Your parents can read part of the story each day for a few minutes each week, or they can read the story in one sitting. You may want to break it up for younger children. I have started to record myself reading a story, and then send the book to my greatniece in the mail. She gets a new book each month and then puts on the video and follows along as I read to her.   

Having a family contest – A lot of families have told me they love this one. Everyone gets sent a bag of things. For example, send out crayons, glue, paper and ribbons. The challenge is to make paper airplanes. The first video chat is about making the planes. The second is the virtual flying contest. It is easy to make the kits. Another idea is decorating face masks and sharing the results. 

Playing games – This can be done in several ways. Many games lend themselves to virtual visits, such as charades or board games (if all the teams and players have the same game). For example, if one player throws the dice and moves piece on the game board, the other team or player can do the same move with the opponent’s piece on the board to follow along 

Supporting schoolwork – Many parents have asked for help with this. Grandparents can help review the children’s work, teach them how to do a math problem or offer suggestions for completing the work. The children can connect with their grandparents while their parents take a break. Screensharing helps supports this because the grandparents see what the child is working on and where the child might need support. 

¹National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2007). The science of early childhood development: Closing the gap between what wknow and what wdo. Center on the Developing Child: Harvard University. Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu.

Dad’s Important Role in Parenting

Dad holding preschool daughtor on sholders with her arms stretched out

Dr. Kyle Pruett, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Fathers don’t mother, just as mothers don’t father. It is obvious from the start; they are less likely to use baby talk, choosing real words instead. They like their babies activated when they are interacting with them, while mom is more likely to comfort and cuddle tight. Play and surprise are more common in dad-infant interaction than with mom, who often prefers a soothing and regulating routine. Even the way a dad holds his baby, more commonly facing out than when mom does, hints at feeling his job might be different than hers – more of a let’s see what the world has for us today than I’ve got you safe and secure right here over my heart.  

Safety and security are huge concerns for today’s parents, both at home and in the wider world. So, which approach is more likely to raise a secure child? Both are, especially when woven together. Secure attachments between mothers and children seem most uniquely effective in providing comfort when the child is distressed. While fathers are committed to comforting their distressed children, there is a unique component to their interactions with their children. Fathers often provide security using shared, controlled excitement through sensitive and sometimes challenging You can do it! support as the child’s exploratory system gets stimulated by novelty. That roughhousing that is so common between men and their children serves a purpose; while it is fun and stimulating to both players, it also helps the father teach the child where the edge between play and trouble lies, No fingernails!  When the father lets the child wander off a little further than the mom might at the park, he’s allowing the child exploration and novelty, retrieving the child when something looms to threaten the security of such adventure. 

That distinction is worth celebrating this Father’s Day. It’s why dad is not just a stand-in for mom, who so often bears the weight of being the real parent. Helping children feel comforted when distressed is incredibly important to their sense of security and so is the support they feel from being fathered when they start looking for the world beyond mom’s arms.  

SoMoms and Dads, here are two tips to help you as you parent together: 

Moms – Support the fathering figures in your children’s lives with your appreciation and respect. They are not just subbing for you; they are your tag team in keeping your children secure and safe, not just from the world, but in it. 

Dads (biological and otherwise) – Turn off your devices and be in the moment with your children. They need to know, trust and feel the real you. Take your unique role as the securer of exploration seriously; they do. 

Five Books That Help Children Understand Different Types of Families

photo of two moms sitting with a boy todder child

By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Listening to stories is an essential early literacy and social-emotional development activity that should begin in infancy. Stories help children learn about emotions and social behavior as well as new things they are not exposed to in their environments or communities. The characters within each story give children a framework for developing essential social skills – cooperation, collaboration, listening and taking turns. 

We often rely on storytelling to help children, and adults, understand new concepts or experiences. One of the topics that comes up often in early childhood education is different types of families. Younger children are more flexible about family structures but still may have questions when family structures appear different from their own. We selected a few books to help parents and teachers explain different family types.

Molly’s Family by Nancy Garden, illustrated by Sharon Wooding

molly's mom children's book cover

A young girl learns how to talk about her family with two moms in school. At first, it is difficult, but her teacher helps along the way. This story is very helpful for giving children ways to answer the question “Why do you have two moms?”

Mommy, Mama, and Me by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Carol Thompson

Mommy, mamma and me children's book cover

We like this book because it goes through daily routines in a playful rhyming manner. It’s great for young ones! These artists also created a book entitled Daddy, Papa, and Me

The Family Book by Todd Parr

family book children's book cover

We love the fun illustrations in this book. It focuses on how families, although often very different, are alike in love and caring for each other. This is my go-to book for beginning conversations about families.

In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco

In our mother's house children's book cover

This is a story of family events with a family with two moms. It is full of fun and memorable family events along with acceptance within the neighborhood. It’s good for older children since it is a little long.

Home at Last by Vera B. Williams, illustrated by Vera B. Willams and Chris Raschka

Home at last children's book cover

This is a story about same-sex-parent adoption and a little boy. The dog is the best part of the story, helping the child feel at home. It’s great for adopted children. I read this to a class a few years ago and it really helped them understand the different types of families in the class.

5 Simple Ways To Help Your Child Understand You Better

Anyway, our go-to speech pathologist Kelly Lelonek has lots to say about why our kids don’t always “get” us — mainly because we talk too much. Here, her best tips for how to encourage little ones to tune in and listen up.

Like when, just for hypothetical example, requests to clean up the Magna-Tiles get tuned out, monologues about the day’s agenda elicit a confused “What?” and efforts to discuss the self-actualizing lessons of The Little Engine That Could are met with knock-knock jokes about butts…?

Does anyone else feel like her kids ignore her, oh, 97 percent of the time?

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Babies as young as five months old know their names, says Lelonek. Around nine months old, they understand basic words like “No.” When you’re spending time with your baby, get down to her level, call her name and wait for her to establish eye contact before asking a specific — not open-ended — question (“Do you want the dolly or the bunny?” vs. “What do you want to play with?”).

1. It’s never too early to develop good communication habits. 

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Keeping your language pared down works both for developing speech and for managing behavior as children get older.

Speak slowly and simply, in sentences that are as short as possible says Lelonek. She suggests reinforcing words with visual cues, like showing the child a picture of what you’re discussing, or pointing out an object in the room as you say it. Keeping your language pared down works both for developing speech and for managing behavior as children get older. Writes Robert J. Mackenzie in Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child, “A clear message should inform children, specifically and directly, what it is you want them to do. If necessary, tell them when and how to do it. The fewer words, the better.” His example? “Clean up your mess at the counter, please, before you do anything else. This means putting your silverware and bowl in the sink and wiping off the counter.”

2. Clarity is key.

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Lelonek suggests speaking about the present, not what happened yesterday or what you’re planning for tomorrow. Most kids do not even begin to grasp the concept of time until after kindergarten. You’ll have better luck getting through to them if you focus on the here and now.

3. Live in the now.

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The TV that no one’s watching, the car radio, even the whirring oven vent can interfere with a kid’s ability to process language. Optimizing their environment for good communication means “eliminating distractions and background noise,” says Lelonek.

4. Silence background noise.

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5. Leave some white space in conversation. 

As adults, we’ve learned to view extended silences as awkward or uncomfortable. But when we jump in to fill them, we end up bulldozing right over our kids’ opportunities to formulate and express their thoughts. “After asking a question, give your child at least five seconds to think and respond,” says Lelonek. “Kids need time to process our questions and their reactions. We do not need to fill every silent gap with talking.”

This article was written by PureWow from Huffington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

15 Family Rules to Keep Your Household Running Smoothly

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These clever, sanity-saving house rules are parent-tested and approved.

Our rule is that everyone must knock before opening a closed door. Several times my kids have expressed their appreciation for it after going to a friend’s house. They’ve also told me they feel respected by my husband and me because of it. — Tina Z., Walterboro, South Carolina

My husband and I made a rule when we first moved in together that we only get to talk (OK, complain) about our workday after we sit down at the dinner table. Then the conversation has to change. — Amira Melnichenko, Maitland, Florida

I teach middle school; my teenage boys knew not to knock on my bedroom door for a full hour after I got home from school. I needed some me time between teacher time and momma time. — Karen Hinds, Memphis, Tennessee

We don’t get upset about spills. They’re just accidents. — Amber Sprengard, Cincinnati

Once, on a hike with a couple of other families, the kids started to complain. One mom stopped and asked, “Are you a problem solver or a problem maker?” That mantra has stuck in our family for both kids and adults. It’s a great way to reframe negative thinking. — @GIRLYTWIRLY

Put others first. We started using this simple phrase with hand signs as a silent reminder, pointing to our hand (“put”), then pointing outward (“others”), then pointing up (“first”), when our children were small and continue to use it 18 years into parenting. When it’s applied, our home becomes a well-oiled machine. — Nicole Schrock, Plain City, Ohio

No video/computer games on school nights. Placing a priority on schoolwork has worked for us. — @MANDYHOFFMAN

If something that you would rather not eat is served for dinner, you have to have a “No, thank you” bite. — Brie Ghinazzi, Boise, Idaho

Family meeting once a week, on Sundays. Everyone updates the calendar and looks at the schedule for the week so we know what to expect. — Connie Lenorud Schroeder, Niles, Illinois

I can’t take credit for it, because it was my mother-in-law’s rule first: No talking while packing up the car for a vacation. This rule has helped my husband and me start our family trips much happier. — Michelle Wigand, San Francisco Bay Area

If you pack it, you carry it. We all make better decisions about what we need/want for the day or a trip, and everyone chips in! — Debbie Burke, New Albany, Ohio

No name-calling. Disagreements happen—we have four kids—but name-calling is a one-strike rule. — @AMYOMEARA428

No TV in the morning on weekdays. In the morning chaos of getting dressed, brushing teeth, and eating breakfast, we managed to get out of the house mostly on time and were able to finalize pickup arrangements and practice schedules. — Michelle Knell, Keaau, Hawaii

If it’s not on the family calendar, it doesn’t exist. — @SHANNIEBG

If it’s full, empty it. From the trash to a sink full of dirty dishes to a full laundry hamper, this rule is practical. It also works as a mind-set. — Cecilia Tavera, Santa Barbara, California

Only touch something once. It eliminates shuffling objects from one place to another instead of just placing it in its home. — Laura Davies

Ours was passed down from my father-in-law. He said, “There is no such thing as women’s work or men’s work—just work. And we’ll all work together till it’s done.” It makes for very grateful spouses! — Barbara Knomholz

 

This article was written by Real Simple Staff from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Helping Children Cope with Divorce

It can be difficult for children to deal with their parents’ divorce. Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and member of The Goddard School Educational Advisory Board, offers four things to keep in mind when helping children cope with divorce.

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  1. Although the stigma of divorce stings less these days, partly because it is so common, children almost never think it is as good an idea as the parents who seek it. Don’t insult them by trying to talk them into agreeing with your point of view about its benefits or its hazards. Children, especially the young ones, love having their families together and often feel anxious, angry and saddened when they begin to come apart.
  2. Most parents work at separating and divorcing without traumatizing their children. Children often recover from this loss without serious emotional scarring and with their ability to trust in relationships intact, especially when parents acknowledge how their children are feeling about this event and when children trust the adults to hear them out and love them through it.
  3. One of the most difficult aspects of divorce to young children, besides a change in family income and lifestyle that may accompany a divorce, is the threat to (or in some cases the end of) their parents’ friendship with each other. This particular loss may leave children feeling more alone and worried that they might be next.
  4. Boys and girls typically respond differently to divorce. Boys show their distress more obviously with behavioral, school or social troubles. Girls may seem okay at first with few outward signs of distress but may suffer the effects later when they enter their first close relationship and feel overwhelmed by self-doubt, suspiciousness and fear of abandonment.

Siblings: First Friends

Siblings play a huge role in each other’s lives. Many siblings who are close in age become each other’s first friend. You can encourage a strong, long-term bond by letting your older child take care of his new brother or sister as much as possible.Siblings

Children learn a lot from their parents, and they also learn a lot from their siblings. It is best to encourage our children to have strong connections with one another for them to achieve stable social and emotional development. When children are close with their siblings, the transition to making friends at school is much easier. With siblings who are farther apart in age, the older child becomes a teacher who can explain how to make friends at school and how to behave in the classroom.

Along with being the first born, which is special in itself, your older child now has the extra special responsibility of being a role model for his little brother or sister.

What are some ways you encourage your children to bond with one another?

Sufficient Hydration is Necessary for a Healthy Lifestyle

20120920_goddard_TN_0207Most of us are concerned that our children have good eating habits to ensure proper growth; however, not many of us put as much thought into the amount of water our little ones consume. What is the proper amount of water for children?

Water is not a one size fits all commodity. The amount of water children need depends on their age, weight and gender. Although there is not an exact number, we all could use a little more H2O to keep us on the go.

Here are some tips to increase your child’s water consumption.

  • The most efficient and effective way to boost your child’s water intake is to always have it available. Whether she is at home, at school or playing outdoors, make sure your child is always within reach of water.
  • Encourage your child to drink water by simply placing it in front of her without any alternative options. If she does not have soda or other sugary beverages around her, she will be more likely to drink the water without a fuss.
  • Increase your child’s consumption of fruits and vegetables that contain large volumes of water, such as strawberries, oranges, watermelon and cucumbers.
  • Be a good example; increase your water intake as well. This will not only keep you on track with how much water you consume, but watching you drink water will ensure that your child will want to drink it too.

Staying hydrated helps children focus better in school, brightens their mood and improves their performance in day to day activities.

Grab a glass of water for you and your little one, and start increasing your intake today.

Ten Ways to Balance Work and Family

If you’re a working parent, achieving and maintaining a healthy work-family balance can be challenging. Here are ten tips to help you balance your work life with your personal one.

  1. Set limits. If you want to see every one of your child’s soccer games and have dinner with your family every night, make those your priorities, no matter what happens at work.
  2. Focus on work when you’re at work. Try to limit non-work-related activities, such as socializing or long lunches. Get your work done so you can leave the office on time.10-26-15
  3. Work from home if you can. Working remotely every now and then allows you to be there for your child and complete your job responsibilities.
  4. Keep a family calendar. Maintaining an organized record of your family’s comings and goings can help you and your family be efficient and ensure your schedules run smoothly.
  5. Adjust your hours. If your company offers flextime and you can adopt a more flexible schedule, do so. If your company doesn’t offer flextime, have a discussion with your supervisor or manager about how a more flexible schedule would help your productivity. After all, a happy employee is a productive employee.
  6. Create a support system. If you’re fortunate enough to have relatives or friends who offer to watch your child while you’re at work, accept their help.
  7. Schedule some “me time.” Taking some time for yourself can help you to refocus so you can be a better parent. Use the time to read, relax or get some exercise.
  8. Plan ahead. Pack lunches or your child’s school bag the night before so you can have some extra family time in the morning. You could also make an extra-large amount of a particular dish over the weekend and serve it for dinner throughout the week so you don’t have to cook.
  9. Stay in touch. A gesture as small as a phone call or text message to your child during the day can let him know you’re thinking about him. You could also drop a note in his backpack or lunch box.
  10. Explore childcare options. Whether you’re interested in a preschool or daycare, a quality childcare program is worth investigating. Research different childcare providers and take your child to visit a few of them to see which one is the best fit.

Five Ways to Make Family Meal Preparation Easier

Sitting down to dinner with your family is great. You can recap your days, spend some time together and have some laughs. Between work, school and extracurricular activities, though, finding the time to sit down together can be challenging. Here are five ways to make preparing family meals easier.

  1. Prepare meals beforehand. Make a lot of a particular dish over the weekend and serve it throughout the week. For example, make a double batch of a casserole or a big batch of soup or chili and serve it every other day so you don’t have to worry about cooking on those nights.Family 03_jpg
  2. “Cheat” when you cook. Using frozen or pre-cut veggies and other prepared foods is an excellent way to save time when you cook. Also, a slow cooker lets you cook a full meal with less preparation.
  3. Keep meals simple. Plenty of fast, easy meals are also delicious and nutritious. The internet has a treasure trove of recipes to suit your family, your wallet, your schedule and your taste buds.
  4. Have breakfast for dinner. In a pinch, serve scrambled eggs, toast and fruit. Waffles or pancakes are easy, too. Eating mostly healthy foods is important, but sitting down with your family is important, too.
  5. Make dinner as a family. Having help can cut down on meal preparation time. Children can stir and roll out dough, and they can mix the vegetables you chopped into a salad. Cooking together is also a terrific bonding activity.