Category Archives: REFLECTIONS ON EARLY CHILDHOOD

REFLECTIONS ON EARLY CHILDHOOD: How to Talk to Kids

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I came across this article (How to Talk to Kids: Avoiding One Word Answers) awhile back and bookmarked it. Finally getting a chance to read it and it’s a great reminder that when we talk to children, we can’t talk to them the same way as we would talk to our friends, spouses, or other adults. Children need special care when you converse with them.

I highly recommend that you read the article, it has great tips, like “Be available to talk”. If your child wants to talk, make sure you are available for them, if you are constantly telling them “just a minute” or “not now”, they eventually are going to be more hesitate to come tell you things, things that may be very important, so always keep those lines of communication open. And being available isn’t going to be worth while if you aren’t fully present in the conversation. Try to stop what you are doing and give your child your full attention, they may be young, but child can tell when we are giving them our full attention and besides, unless the house is burning down, what is more important than what your child has to say.

And don’t always wait for your child to come to you, make sure you are initiating conversation and you are as the articles states “fostering an atmosphere that stimulates conversation and encourages communication with children.” And when you do talk to them or they ask you questions, avoid just saying “yes”, “no”, or giving other one-word answers. They more you can answer them, the longer your conversation can continue, which means more bonding time and more vocabulary for your child to hear. So keep those conversations flowing!

To read the article mentioned above, click on the link below:
http://www.brighthorizons.com/family-resources/e-family-news/2011-conversations-with-children-beyond-the-one-word-answers/

 

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REFLECTIONS ON EARLY CHILDHOOD: Defiant Young Children and Toddlers: 5 Things Not to Do

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I was reading “Defiant Young Children and Toddlers: 5 Things Not to Do” this morning and it wasn’t really new information to me, as I have children with ADHD, ODD, Sensory Integration Disorder and possible OCD, so I have taken many parenting classes to learn about behaviors, but this is good information to remind parents about, because I know many parents are always thinking “why is my child doing this…”

As the article states, it’s hard not to compare your child to other children that seem to be calm all the time. But things to keep in mind are that child have no control over their daily lives, almost all their decisions are made for them (what they are to wear, what they are to eat, what time they will do everything) think how crazy you would get if you have little to no say in your day…

Another things to think about is your child’s communication skills. Are they verbal yet, or can they use typical baby signs to relay what they need? If not then this could be a big reason why they are having meltdowns. Not being able to communicate or effectively can be very frustrating for them.

And what about your child’s temperament? Some children are just born more easy going than others. A temperament is different than a personality. A personality can and will change over the years as the children age and acquire new likes and interests, but a temperament is permanent. Think back to when your child was a infant, did they sleep well, eat well, did they need lots of soothing? If so then that may be why you are experiencing what you are now.

And then the article mentions “is it ODD?”. I believe most of us know our children best and should have that gut feeling when we know it’s beyond just toddler tantrums, think about how often, how severe and over what types of things does your child get defiant about. It may be time to get a referral and have them assessed. It may not be ODD, but maybe they have a hearing or vision problem, even things like that can frustrate a child to the point of acting out.

To see some tips of what to avoid when your child is being defiant, reference the article below:
http://www.freeprintablebehaviorcharts.com/defiant_toddles_and_young_children.htm

 

REFLECTIONS ON EARLY CHILDHOOD: Dedicating Time to Your Children

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Dedicating time to your children is the topic of this post, however the article that I read that made me choose to reflect on this was actually titled “Working Parents Who Travel For Business”  on the Bright Horizons site.

This article talked about parents that are in the military, travel out  town or just have a long commute to and from work. But really, how is that any different than parents that work more than one job, or parents that go to school and work or parents that just choose to spend their non-work hours doing things on their own agenda. All of these scenarios are taking the parent away from the child and all these scenarios require special planning and accommodations for your child so that they have a good balance in their life as well.

I have to get on my soap box a bit and say that in my eyes, children are always and always should be the priority. If we are working longer hours than most than those non-work hours need to be primarily spent with our child, not always catching up with friends, at drinking establishments, or working on our own hobbies. You really need to find a balance so that your child is getting as much of your non-work time as possible. We all work hard as working parents, but a night out with the friends isn’t needed every single week, especially when you have younger children, those years are what can make or break your child and you need to spend them wisely.

Just like this article says, connecting with your children is important, was well as having a good plan and supporting your child, whatever their feelings may be about you being gone. Some children are more resilient than others, some may handle this just fine, some may not and some might for awhile and then need you more later on. You need to be in tune and responsive to your child’s needs even if you don’t feel like they should feel that way. We all handle feelings differently and realizing that is part of the process. Having a great backup caretaker for the times you are away is also going to be really important for situations like these so screen your child cares/babysitters carefully as these are the people spending the majority of the time with your child.

For even more tips, you can view the article by clicking on the link below:
http://www.brighthorizons.com/family-resources/e-family-news/2014-tips-for-working-parents-who-travel-for-business/

REFLECTIONS ON EARLY CHILDHOOD: How to Build Healthy Self Esteem in Children

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The article I read this morning, sort of ties into the one I wrote about the other day about letting your children fail. Letting them fail is a good time to work on self-esteem issues as well.

Sasha Emmons, the author of the article I’m currently referencing titled “How to Build Healthy Self Esteem in Children” says “In trying to boost kids’ self-esteem, we may be tearing it down.”. This is so true.

“Here goes: Millions of American children (including very possibly your own) have a warped idea of what they can do and little concept of what real confidence feels like. And despite only our best intentions, experts say parents have no one to blame but themselves. The reason? Our kids are addicted to praise. Ouch.” (Emmons, Scholastic.com)

I have the privledge of not only having my own children, but working with children on a daily basis and boy do I see this. The children I work with are generally about preschool age and younger, so they are still very much in the egocentric stage of life which I think does contribute to the need for praise a bit.

Like Emmons points out, “self-esteem depends on your internal ability to generate positive feelings about your accomplishments — it’s not something other people can give you.” But kids come to rely on it and when they do fail or don’t have that self-esteem boost from your “way to go’s” and “good job’s” they can struggle and this can affect their confidence and in a bad way. Just like Summons points out, the first type of bad confidence all that praise can lead to is the “entitled I-can-do-no-wrong type of thinking”, this is probably what I see the most in my daily experiences with children and because of this thinking, we tend to have higher numbers of behavior issues with those “entitled” children. Because they think they can do no wrong, they do wrong (hit, kick, say mean things) and are shocked when they have a consequence.

Kids also become addicted to receiving praise and sometimes can not gain motivation without it because “They have no real proof of their capabilities and begin to doubt themselves entirely”. For those of you that work with kids (or maybe have even experienced it with your own…) that child that keeps tugging at your shirt saying “did I do a good job, didn’t I do a good job” just waiting and waiting for you to praise them, a smile or a glance at their work isn’t going to be enough for them, they need that verbal affirmation of praise.

So, basically what it comes down to is kids depend on that praise to be able to regulate their feelings of self confidence and esteem, but they should be learning this without all the praise. Of course “way to go’s” and “good jobs” are fine when used in moderation and when they are heartfelt (not just a automatic response).

To see ideas on how to help build self-esteem in a healthy way, read the article below:
http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/praise-discipline/how-to-build-healthy-self-esteem-children?cid=PCM/e/20140311///NL///Test//1521301/&ym_MID=1521301&ym_rid=13763579

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REFLECTIONS ON EARLY CHILDHOOD-Go Ahead, Let Your Kids Fail…

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I recently read this BloombergView article written by Megan McArdle, titled, “Go Ahead, Let Your Kids Fail”. I think this is not only a area that children struggle with, but parents as well (heck, I’m almost 36 years old and I still strive for as close as perfection as I can get) but how do we learn if we don’t fail…Not succeeding at things or making mistakes (whether on purpose or not) are HUGE learning opportunities.

In the article the author referenced older children, but this is topic is still true for the early childhood group as well. I believe even more important for this age group because if they start young learning how to face challenges and that failing is ok as long as they tried, then they won’t feel as much pressure as they age and face more complicated challenges.

How many times in a day do we just do thing for our young children because it’s easier or quicker for us to do it rather than to let them do it? Things like putting their clothes on, zipping up their coat, or cleaning up their toys for them….granted, we need to make sure we aren’t setting them directly up for failure by asking them to dress themselves when they are 8 months old, but I think most of us are intelligent enough to truly know when our child is capable to start working on some of these skills. Now, we don’t have to sit there for 2 hours and wait until they master it, but give them time everyday to try on their own, this not only can be great exercise for their muscles but gives you a chance to reinforce to them that you have to work hard to learn things, that learning is not always going to be easy and you can work on giving them positive feedback for their efforts which can be a real self-esteem booster and they will learn that they aren’t going to get in trouble if they don’t do things correctly on the first try (or even the 10th, or 20th…).

A lot of children are scared of failing because A, they either don’t know how to handle the emotion, or B they aren’t quite sure how you (the parent) is going to handle them failing. Teaching them from a young age not to give up on things and to try is such a great social-emotional skill to instill into them and then letting them know that they are going to fail from time to time will help them learn to cope with that type of stress in a much more proactive way.

To view the article I am referencing, click on the link below:
http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-02-20/go-ahead-let-your-kids-fail

REFLECTIONS ON EARLY CHILDHOOD-Benefits of Boredom

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A recent Exchange Everyday Online Article that I received, titled “Benefits of Boredom” says that “These days, we rarely reach the point of boredom, thanks to gadgets and anytime, anywhere entertainment. Occupying our brains is too easy — and that’s killing our creativity” and I have to fully agree. Electronics are taking away young children’s fun childhoods. Gone are the days of playing outside all day til dark, riding bikes all around town and building forts.

Now days kids are electronic everything. I am guilty of this with my own children. At age 6 (current age, he received some of this gifts prior to age 6) my youngest son has his own tv, dvd player, ipod and Nintendo 3DS. These are just the products he owns himself, we still have other devices in the house (a few tablets, a few laptops, a few games systems, a few more tv’s etc…). Now, we have hard guidelines set for him, with the exception of his tv that he can watch for a few minutes before bed each night (but he usually chooses to read) these devices are not used on school nights and on weekends have a time limit. Even with these limits, I still notice a drastic decline each year in the amount of free play he does and I fear he is loosing his creativity. I feel like he isn’t doing as much free play because he really truly is bored with it because he just doesn’t know how to just play anymore without having a tv to zone out in front of or a game telling him what to do. He can’t just get started on his own. Now it’s not like this everyday, he doesn’t just sit there everyday like a bump on a log, but his creativity has definitely gone downhill…and this is even reflecting in school. When he has to write stories or do artwork, he is having problems getting it done because he can’t think of anything to write or draw.

Over the years, children’s schedules have drastically filled up with things like dance practice, soccer games, music lessons, etc. We are starting to fill up their schedules at earlier and earlier ages. When we are home, most of us aren’t spending as much time with our children and are just letting them watch tv or play video games as a way to keep them occupied. Children are never having enough free time that they can experience boredom and learn how to deal with it (by using their imagination…).

Media time doesn’t just decrease a child’s creativity, but also “Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. In addition, the Internet and cell phones can provide platforms for illicit and risky behaviors.” (Amercian Academy of Pediatrics). I see this within my child care also. The current group of children range in age from 17 months to to age 6, with the majority being age 4. These children should be full of ideas and creativity and have large imaginations, but at even age 4 I have one that all he wants to talk about each day lately is the current level he completed in his video game or how he got to play video games before coming to my house and this child used to ask wonderful questions all the time that caused us to do little research projects to find out the answers and those questions could turn into a whole day of activities. Now I’m lucky if he has the attention span to listen to me read a book before he is completely bored. Another is very involved with tv and movies and can relate to anything he has seen in a movie but beyond that he is sort of lost. When did kids loose their grand imaginations and what can we do to help get them back!

For your own children, if you can do without electronic items for them at all, this would be the most ideal, but if you must have them, limit them to only a few times a week and for only a few minutes a day. Even though I didn’t do it with my own children, in my child care after hearing it at many training’s (and especially finding out how many more children are having to see optometrists for eye issues now than previous years due to using electronics so much…) I got rid of all electronics. We no longer have a laptop to do learning games on, I just get more creative in how I teach them, we no longer have the Leapfrog and Vtech toys (the readers, the computers, etc…). A toy that only requires a child to flip a button to turn it on and off and punch a few buttons to move their player or to answer questions is a very closed ended toy and that is what is limiting their creativity. If you can only make you guy go straight in the game of he falls off the wall how are you having any choices or making any decisions in what you are doing? Now…give a child a set of blocks and how many different things will those blocks become? They can build with them, the can use other toys with them, I have seen the blocks be cell phones (so they turn into dramatic play props) or just today I had a child using one as a hammer.

So aside from avoiding electronics for your child, or giving them very little time with them, supplying them with open ended toys and lots of free play opportunities is what is going to help foster those little minds! Let them be kids and play!

To view the article I mention above, go to: http://www.childcareexchange.com/eed/issue/3550/
To view the American Academy of Pediatrics views on Media and Children, go to:
http://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Pages/Media-and-Children.aspx