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Posts Tagged ‘Toddler’

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Secure

by Dr. Gerald Newmark
The Children’s Project
Developing Emotionally Healthy Children, Families, Schools and Communities

Feeling Secure, Included, Respected, Important and Accepted

According to Dr. Newmark, the fifth critical emotional need of children is the need to feel secure. Helping children feel secure means creating a positive environment where people care about one another and show it, express themselves, listen to others, accept differences, resolve conflicts constructively, provide structure and rules so that children to feel safe and protected and give children opportunities to participate in their own growth and the evolution of their family.

These important elements contribute to children’s sense of security:

  • Their Parents’ Relationship – When parents bicker, treat each other without respect and rarely show affection for each other, children experience anxiety and insecurity. If couples treated each other with the five emotional needs in mind, they would be better role models for their children.
  • A Caring, Affectionate Environment – Ob­serving affection between their parents and receiving affection from them is very important to children’s sense of security. The beginning and ending of the day, week, month and year present opportunities for regular demonstrations of affection toward your children. Remember to take care of yourself, too.
  • Traditions and Rituals – Establishing traditions and rituals for family celebrations and participating in family activities give children a sense of stability and security.
  • Their Parents’ Anxiety – Overprotective and excessively controlling parents often produce insecure, uptight, anxious children who carry some of these hang-ups and anxieties into adulthood.
  • Discipline – Children need structure to feel secure. Establish rules and consequences together. Avoid creating ambiguous expectations, implementing too many rules, creating inappropriate or excessive consequences, being inconsistent with the consequences and using physical punishment.
  • Self-Discipline – Encourage self-discipline so your children develop it. Allow your children to explore and experience the consequences of their actions. This way, they learn to anticipate negative consequences and exercise self-control to avoid them. If their parents are too controlling, children don’t have this opportunity.

Children need freedom as much as they need control. Being too protective can result in intimidated or rebellious children. Our goals are to protect them so they don’t suffer from their im­pulses and inexperience and to give them enough freedom to grow into confident, self-reliant, thoughtful, independent, caring and civic-minded individuals. Growing up in a positive and stable environment contributes to a child’s sense of security.

Satisfying children’s five critical emotional needs will enable them to become self-confident, independent, responsible, thinking, caring and civic-minded individuals.

Click here to read the introductory post in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting the Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents Too!”

Click here to read article one in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Respected.”

Click here to read article two in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Important.”

Click here to read article three in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Accepted.”

Click here to read article four in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Included.”

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Included

by Dr. Gerald Newmark
The Children’s Project
Developing Emotionally Healthy Children, Families, Schools and Communities

Feeling Included, Respected, Important,  Accepted and Secure

Feeling included is the fourth critical emotional need of children. They need to feel like they belong, they are a part of things, they are connected to other people and they have a sense of community. Children join cliques, clubs and teams to satisfy their need to belong.

People who do things together feel closer to one another. Family activities offer a way to become closer, have fun, learn and contribute to the happiness of others. Identifying strongly with the family unit makes children more resistant to negative outside influences and more open to positive role models within the family. Obviously, we can’t include children in everything, but we need to make a conscious effort to include our children when we decide on family activities. This way, the activities will that appeal to everyone. Regularly repeated activities can become traditions that further satisfy a child’s need to feel included and secure.

Including children in your work life has multiple benefits. Describe your work environment, your job duties, your co-workers and your feelings about your work and your fellow workers. If possible, take them to work and encourage them to ask questions and give their opinions. If you work at home or have your own business, introduce them to clients and co-workers and let them do some work for you and with you.

Communication is another key tool for helping children feel included.  Parent-child communications are often brief, dull or haphazard.  Consequently, despite their best intentions, caring parents may have little understanding of what their children are thinking or feeling. Meanwhile, children often feel misunderstood and puzzled by their parents’ actions and frustrated by what they feel are attempts to control and overprotect them. The challenge for parents is to move from sporadic, brief interchanges to a sustained and substantive dialogue. Family meetings and feedback sessions provide the settings and contexts for this dialogue to happen. These sessions should take place at a regular time. Let everyone share their thoughts and feelings and discuss how everyone feels the family is doing, how individuals are doing and what your family could be doing differently and better. Make a conscious decision to include children in choices, discussions and decisions in their everyday lives.

Next time we’ll address the need to feel secure.

Did your parents read to you every night or begin and end each day with a warm hug?

If you’ve divorced, do you ever say bad things about your children’s other parent? Are you cordial to each other in your children’s presence? Have you explained what happened without blaming the other parent and emphasized that the divorce was not the children’s fault?

Satisfying children’s five critical emotional needs will enable them to become self-confident, independent, responsible, thinking, caring and civic-minded individuals.

Click here to read the introductory post in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting the Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents Too!”

Click here to read article one in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Respected.”

Click here to read article two in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Important.”

Click here to read article three in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Accepted.”

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Accepted

by Dr. Gerald Newmark
The Children’s Project
Developing Emotionally Healthy Children, Families, Schools and Communities

Feeling Accepted, Respected, Important, Included and Secure

The third critical emotional need of children is to feel accepted. Accepting children means listening to them, trying to understand them and accepting their right to their own viewpoints, feelings, desires, opinions, concerns and ideas. If you condemn or ridicule children’s feelings or opinions, they may feel that something is wrong with them. When they feel that way, they are less likely to listen to you and let you influence them.

Children can feel rejected when their parents do the following:

  • Overreact or respond emotionally;
  • Try to suppress the child’s feelings;
  • Be overly critical.

Parents can help their child feel accepted by doing the following:

  • Accepting the child’s desires and discussing them amicably;
  • Understanding that feelings aren’t right or wrong and the child has a right to them. Parents should not try to talk a child out of his or her feelings;
  • Remembering not to sweat the small stuff;
  • Catching your child doing something right and praising the child for it.

Acceptance is not permissiveness. It doesn’t mean giving children free license to act in any way they wish. Remember the distinction between wants and needs. You never will be able to satisfy all of your child’s wants, and it would not be good for your child if you did. On the other hand, as parents, we must make every possible effort to satisfy our children’s critical emotional needs. Accept your children as people in their own right and act accordingly.

Consider the following:

Did your family do much together when you were growing up? Were you sent to your room when your parents had company? Were you protected from a truth that everyone knew but no one discussed?

Do you ask your child’s opinion on important things or ask how your child feels after a big family argument or event, such as a remarriage? Do you let your child listen to you and your spouse discuss anything significant?

Satisfying children’s five critical emotional needs will enable them to become self-confident, independent, responsible, thinking, caring and civic-minded individuals.

Click here to read the introductory post in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting the Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents Too!”

Click here to read article one in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Respect.”

Click here to read article two in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Important.”

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Feeling Important

by Dr. Gerald Newmark
The Children’s Project
Developing Emotionally Healthy Children, Families, Schools and Communities

Feeling Important, Respected, Accepted, Included and Secure

Children need to feel important, which means they need to feel that they have value, they are useful, they have power and they are somebody special. The following are examples of how parents can help develop or diminish a child’s sense of importance.

Being Overprotective – Parents may diminish children’s sense of power by limiting them too much. Children need to experiment and try new things. We need to encourage their curiosity, experimentation and desire for adventure instead of saying no too often.

Being Excessively Permissive – However, if you never or rarely say no or if you try to satisfy all of your children’s desires, they could develop a false sense of entitlement and unrealistic expectations, which will hurt them in the future as they discover the realities of life. Distinguish between wants and needs. When you say no to something a child wants, you should still honor the five critical needs.

Talking Too Much and Not Listening – We talk, we lecture, we give advice, we tell children how to feel and what to think and we overpower them with words when we should listen and pay more attention to what they say, think and feel. Give your children your undivided attention, even when you only have a few minutes.

Making All the Decisions – When parents make all the decisions and solve all their children’s problems, children miss an opportunity to increase their self-confidence and develop good judgment and decision-making skills.  Asking their opinions and listening to their answers contributes to their sense of importance. Let your children make small, age-appropriate decisions, such as what to wear, what vegetable to eat with dinner, what board game to play and what color collar the family pet should wear, etc.

If we provide constructive, meaningful ways to make children feel important, they will not need to engage in inappropriate destructive activities to convince themselves and others that they are important.

Satisfying a child’s five critical emotional needs, which are to feel respected, important, accepted, included and secure, will enable them to become self-confident, independent, responsible, thinking, caring and civic-minded individuals.

Click here to read the introductory post in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting the Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents Too!”

Click here to read article one in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Respect.”

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Respect

by Dr. Gerald Newmark
The Children’s Project

Developing Emotionally Healthy Children, Families, Schools and Communities

 Feeling Respected, Important, Accepted, Included and Secure

One of children’s critical emotional needs is to feel respected. For children to feel respected, adults need to be courteous, thoughtful, attentive and civil to them. As individuals, they deserve the same courtesy and consideration as others. Children learn about respect by being treated respectfully and by observing their parents and other adults treating one another with consideration.

When adults don’t treat children with respect, it can lower children’s self-esteem and cause them to rebel and act disrespectfully toward others.

Their parents’ opinions, values, attitudes and actions matter to children. Children have some of the same needs as adults, and what we say and how we say it affects them.

For example saying, “I’m sorry, honey. I don’t have time right now,” is as quick and easy as saying, “Can’t you see I’m busy? Stop bothering me!” With children, a simple act of courtesy can go a long way.

If we want our children to grow up feeling respected and treating others with respect, we need to do the following:

  • avoid being sarcastic, belittling children or yelling at them. We need to keep our anger and impatience to a minimum;
  • avoid lying;
  • listen more and talk less;
  • give fewer commands and more suggestions and requests;
  • say ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘excuse me’ and ‘I’m sorry’ to our children;
  • become conscious of our mistakes, be willing to admit them and be ready to correct our behavior.

Displaying these behaviors as parents will help us cultivate our values in our children.

In the next blog article in this series, Dr. Newmark will discuss children’s need to feel important. Until then, consider the following.

When you were a child, did adults constantly interrupt you before you could finish your thoughts?

If your toddler is feeding herself and getting food on her bib and clothes, do you grab the spoon and yell, “Stop that. You’re making a big mess. Here, I’ll feed you,” or do you put your arm around her and say, “Isn’t that great? You’re trying to feed yourself.”

Satisfying a child’s five critical emotional needs, which are to feel respected, important, accepted, included and secure, will enable them to become self-confident, independent, responsible, thinking, caring and civic-minded individuals.

Click here to read the introductory post in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting the Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents Too!”

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting the Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents Too!

by Dr. Gerald Newmark
The Children’s Project
Developing Emotionally Healthy Children, Families, Schools and Communities

Everyone, including babies, toddlers, teenagers, parents and grandparents, has similar emotional needs. Meeting your child’s needs in childhood provides the foundation for success in school, work, relationships, marriage and life.

In his book How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting the Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents Too!, Dr. Gerald Newmark shows parents and teachers how to nourish children’s emotional health at home and at school. The book helps parents and teachers recognize and satisfy children’s critical emotional needs, which are to feel respected, important, accepted, included and secure. Parents and teachers can benefit from this process, too.

In the coming weeks, we will share a series of articles on this blog with tips, activities and more information about meeting each of these five emotional needs. We’ll also address hurtful and helpful behaviors and how to become an effective parent. These simple, powerful ideas can enhance the lives of children, parents and families.

The goal is to raise self-confident, independent, responsible, thinking, caring and civic-minded individuals.

In the next article in this series, Dr. Newmark will discuss children’s need to feel respected. Until then, consider the following.

When you were a child and someone asked you a question, did your mother or father ever jump in and answer it for you?

Have you ever interrupted a conversation with your child to answer the phone, and then found yourself saying to your child, “Don’t be rude. Can’t you see I’m talking?”

Mother’s Day Handprint Bouquet

Family - Mom Daughter AMother’s Day is almost here!  Let’s shower mom with our love and make a homemade Handprint Bouquet!

Materials

  • A piece of scrap paper
  • Colored cardstock
  • Pencil
  • Crayons and/or markers
  • Scissors
  • Green pipe cleaners
  • Single-hole punch
  • Ribbon

 

Directions

  1. Trace your child’s hand on a piece of scrap paper and cut the tracing out with scissors.
  2. Use this cutout as a template for tracing your child’s handprint onto five or six pieces of colored cardstock. (Children who are old enough to use a pencil may enjoy this task!)
  3. Cut out all of the new tracings with scissors. Punch a hole in the bottom of each one, just above the bottom edge of the palm, with the single-hole punch.
  4. After all the handprints are cut out and the holes are punched, encourage your little one to use the crayons and/or markers to draw colorful designs on the handprints.
  5. Fold one pipe cleaner in half for each handprint “flower.”
  6. Thread about ¼ inch of the folded end of the pipe cleaner into the hole you punched in the handprint. Fold it down to the secure the pipe cleaner to the cardstock.
  7. Twist the two sides of the pipe cleaner together to create a stem.
  8. Repeat for all of the handprints.
  9. Once all of the handprint flowers are complete, tie them into a bunch with a ribbon. Present them to Mom, Grandma or Auntie to thank her for all that she does!

 

*An adult should oversee all activities. Activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

 

Soapy Snowball Fun

This is a great way for your child to play in the “snow” during bath time! It’s simple to make a soapy snowball, just follow the directions below.

Materials

  • A bar of soap
  • A large bowl
  • A cup of lukewarm water

Directions

  1. Soak the bar of soap in the bowl of lukewarm water until it becomes pliable and is easily broken in half.
  2. Mold the soap halves into two snowballs.
  3. Dry the snowballs for about 24 hours.
  4. Use the soapy snowballs during bath time!

 

*An adult should oversee all activities.  Activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

Taming the Tantrums

One of the truly gnarly limit-pushers is the temper tantrum.  These are the hallmark of the self-control wars in the early years.  They are distinct from the gut-wringing cries of the sick, wet, desperately hungry, or physically hurt infant or pre-toddler.  But they can look similar, and you can feel even more helpless.

Family - Teacher with Parent & ChildTantrums start to occur in that period of development when the “me do” surge for autonomy becomes increasingly frustrated by the parent who knows the toddler’s abilities are still so limited that trouble lurks behind most corners.  So when the child’s limited ability frustrates a particular goal, or a parent intervenes to rein her in, the internal frustrations can erupt into a screaming, kicking, crying rage.

Every time you help you child recover from such a debacle without humiliation or irrational punishment, she learns that her impulses cannot destroy her world and that you can help her learn how to manage this tiger, the way you did the other tigers of her early years – being left alone, being helplessly hungry, etc.

Finally, two pieces of advice about limit setting and self-control that are hard for many parents to remember.  When setting limits:

  • The fewer words the better.
  • Actions speak louder than words.

Leaving Lovey: Your Child’s Attachment to a Stuffed Animal, Blanket

Girl Smiling B

Your child may be—or perhaps, should be—getting close to braving the world without that tattered lovey. It’s a big milestone—this lovey has provided comfort for your child for some time now, and has even helped him develop self-soothing skills. The lovey has been there in good times and in bad, and it may even seem like a part of the family! Sometimes, it can even difficult for Mom and Dad to say farewell to the lovey.

Here are some tips and ideas for leaving the lovey behind:

  • Don’t put too much pressure on your child to pass up the lovey. This may cause anxiety and can actually make it more difficult for her to let go. Instead, encourage every positive step in the process.
  • Encourage your child to take the first step by leaving the lovey in her cubby or backpack during the day or while out running errands.
  • Don’t be surprised if your child cuddles up with her lovey again for comfort during a stressful time, such as a new sibling’s arrival. When the stressor has passed, your child will be more willing to start letting the lovey go.
  • Purchase a “create-your-own” stuffed animal or doll kit, or visit a store where children can build their own stuffed animal. Make it a fun and exciting process. Encourage your child to put the lovey inside just before the stuffed animal is sewn shut. This little stuffed animal can keep lovey safe and sound during the day, all from the comfort of your child’s pillow.
  • Respect your toddler’s attachment to the lovey. Talk to your child it in a relaxed way. Let her know that you understand why she loves and will miss the lovey. Don’t punish or embarrass your child into giving up the lovey—she’ll be ready one day.
  • Consider the “Lovey-Fairy” when all else fails. Cuddle up with your child during a comfy, quiet, low-key time and tell your child a story of the Lovey-Fairy who collects loveys from children who are ready to be “big girls” and “big boys.” Let your child know that when she is ready, she can pack up her lovey to trade to the Fairy for a very special reward. Keep it fun, positive and low pressure—and most importantly, let her decide when she is ready. You may be surprised how quickly your child is ready to make the trade!