Anxiety is a normal reaction to change and children experience change frequently. This is a great article with useful and concrete phrases and strategies to help little ones with their worry and anxiety.
Parents get conflicting information about what is best for their children's health and development. Screen time is no different. As a result, it is easy for parents to feel guilty for not following the strict recommendations of no screen time for children younger than 2 and an hour for kids older than that. This article discusses changes to these recommendations. Its not about the number of hours alone, but the quality of the interaction.
What do you do when your child is disappointed? How do you manage those moments so they become a learning opportunity. In this article I was interviewed on how to help your children learn and grow when they don't succeed.
No one – including Supermom – can prevent kids from experiencing setbacks in life. Your daughter may miss the class field trip because she caught a nasty cold. Or she may come home crying when her science-fair project earns a less-than-hoped-for grade. Kids’ disappointments are no fun for parents to witness. But kids learn to lift themselves up when they get knocked down. Marriage and family therapist Christina Steinorth, M.A., author of “Cue Cards for Life” (Hunter House, 2013), says parents can help kids learn to bounce back from adversities by taking a teaching role. During tough times, aim to build your child’s coping skills and reinforce the value of persistence. Here’s how.
Nannies are more than babysitters. They nurture while mommies are away. I was recently quoted in an article discussing how nannies can create a warm and trusting relationship with the children they are responsible for. For moms, making sure your nanny is connecting with your child is essential, these are techniques you can share with your nanny to help foster the kind of bonded and safe relationship you want for your children.
There is nothing more precious than a child who wraps his or her arms around your neck and enjoys the comfort and nurturing you provide. As a nanny, a mom/child relationship is only natural when you have bonded with a little one.
It takes time, creativity and a sense of trust to establish this close relationship with the children you care for on a daily basis. In order to enhance the nurturing environment and a child’s sense of comfort in your care, begin by creating a bond that will last a lifetime with loving actions and fun activities.
Ever wonder why the terrible 2s are so terrible? This article goes into 5 reasons why toddlers are different and why it is important to nurture those differences. by Rebecca M Gruber
Sometimes parenting books feel like they're a dime a dozen — a handful cross my desk each week promising to provide the definitive method for raising sweet, well-adjusted tots — spoiler alert: few actually do. But when I learned that Dr. Tovah Klein, a mother of three and the director of the Barnard College Center For Toddler Development in NYC who has been observing toddlers for over 20 years, would be speaking at my son's preschool PTA meeting, I made sure I was seated in the front row to hear her philosophy and learnings firsthand. Dr. Klein's recently released How Toddlers Thrive: What Parents Can Do Today For Children Ages 2-5 to Plant the Seeds of Lifelong Success ($19, originally $25) was already generating buzz, and after hearing her in person, I understand why.
Based on the philosophy that toddlers are not miniadults, that they're individuals fueled by a desire to know was just the beginning. In just 45 minutes Dr. Klein took us deep into the magical world of the toddler years and got to the root of many of our biggest frustrations with our tots. I learned a few fascinating philosophies about young kids that have already helped me better understand my child. I highly suggest you pick up a copy, but in the interim, here are a handful of teasers you'll find in the book.
1: Toddlers Have No Sense of Time
2: To Them, the World Is All About Power and Control
3: Happiness Doesn't Come From Trying to Make Them Happy
4: They Need to Stumble and Fall
5: The Qualities That Drive Us Nuts Now Are the Ones We'll Want Later
To read the descriptions and how to cope click on the Link to article below.
Can stress in the earliest days of our lives set us up for how we cope and our preferences to eating comfort food? This study finds evidence for this.
Apr. 7, 2013 — Researchers at the University of Calgary's Hotchkiss Brain Institute have discovered that stress circuits in the brain undergo profound learning early in life. Using a number of cutting edge approaches, including optogenetics, Jaideep Bains, PhD, and colleagues have shown stress circuits are capable of self-tuning following a single stress. These findings demonstrate that the brain uses stress experience during early life to prepare and optimize for subsequent challenges.
"These new findings demonstrate that systems thought to be 'hardwired' in the brain, are in fact flexible, particularly early in life," says Bains, a professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. "Using this information, researchers can now ask questions about the precise cellular and molecular links between early life stress and stress vulnerability or resilience later in life."
Stress vulnerability, or increased sensitivity to stress, has been implicated in numerous health conditions including cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and depression. Although these studies used animal models, similar mechanisms mediate disease progression in humans.
"Our observations provide an important foundation for designing more effective preventative and therapeutic strategies that mitigate the effects of stress and meet society's health challenges," he says.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.
Can the stress mom's experience while pregnant impact their children into adulthood. There is growing evidence that a baby's wiring and predisposition is strongly influenced by the emotional health of their mother. Read on to discover how.
Nov. 14, 2012 — Children whose mothers were overly stressed during pregnancy are more likely to become victims of bullying at school.
The study has been published in theJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and is based on 8,829 children from the Avon Longtitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).
Professor Dieter Wolke, Professor of Developmental Psychology at University of Warwick and Warwick Medical School headed up the study.
He said: "This is the first study to investigate stress in pregnancy and a child's vulnerability to being bullied. When we are exposed to stress, large quantities of neurohormones are released into the blood stream and in a pregnant woman this can change the developing fetus' own stress response system.
"Changes in the stress response system can affect behaviour and how children react emotionally to stress such as being picked on by a bully. Children who more easily show a stress reaction such as crying, running away, anxiety are then selected by bullies to home in to."
The research team identified the main prenatal stress factors as severe family problems, such as financial difficulty or alcohol/drug abuse, and maternal mental health.
Professor Wolke added: "The whole thing becomes a vicious cycle, a child with an altered stress response system is more likely to be bullied, which affects their stress response even further and increases the likelihood of them developing mental health problems in later life."
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.
During his first year of preschool, my 3-year-old spent every morning drawing. While the other kids were doing seemingly academic activities like tracing letters and singing counting songs, my son stuck with colored pencils.
Fast-forward one year later; my son has branched out -- way out! He completes puzzles, counts abacus beads, and writes his name in straight letters. Suddenly we've shifted from picture books at bedtime to Charlotte's Web. "When," I thought, "did he learn all this?"
Well, he probably learned it while drawing. Drawing helps kids boost their confidence, improve fine motor skills, get reading-ready, and hone their critical-thinking ability, says Kenneth Wesson, Ph.D., an educational consultant in neuroscience in San Jose, California, who has studied the role of the brain in making art.
Although the arts have traditionally been considered fun frills, they're actually a central piece in the education puzzle. And it's not just the visual arts. Music can help with math and reading; dance sets a foundation for physical health and also furthers self-awareness; acting can boost vocabulary. Art can impact kids' emotional and social lives too. "It lets kids take risks without failure and builds confidence," says Joseph M. Piro, Ph.D., professor in the department of curriculum and instruction of Long Island University in Brookville, New York.
While tightened household budgets might make violin lessons a stretch, arts instruction need not be formal or pricey. You can expose your kids to dance, music, and drama at home, with stuff you already have. We've talked to researchers, arts experts, and teaching artists to come up with activities for kids of all ages.
The fact that dance builds strength, agility, and flexibility is a given, says Maria Suszynski, executive director of Wellspring/Cory Terry & Dancers, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, but it also boosts confidence and problem-solving skills, and teaches kids about teamwork.
Toddlers: Jumpin' Jellybeans
Crank up the music, and let your kid have ants in his pants! Explore every aspect of movement -- hopping, leaping high and low, wiggling fast and slow. Following simple sequences gives toddlers' short-term memory a workout and develops body awareness.
Preschoolers: The Shoebox Game
Your child pretends she's in a shoe store where every kind of shoe -- antigravity boots, ice skates, shoes that have gum on the soles, or winged sandals -- makes her dance in a different way. This stretches a child's imagination and encourages her to see the world from different angles, says Theresa Purcell Cone, Ph.D., assistant professor of health and exercise science at Rowan University, in Glassboro, New Jersey.
School-Age Kids: Human Sculptures
Your child dances around you while you make a shape with your body and freeze. Have her build onto your "sculpture" with her own body, perhaps forming a letter or an animal using creativity to solve "problems," says Dr. Cone. ("How can my arms be a new animal? Oh, I can raise them like butterfly wings!")
Kids have been finger-painting and scribbling for eons, but only recently did researchers realize all its ripple effects. Dr. Wesson has found that visual art engages many areas of a child's brain, including the parts that control decision making, action planning, physical movement, and memory. Attention to detail is a critical component in reading skills too.
Toddlers: Pudding Painting
Separate a batch of vanilla pudding into a few small bowls and add a drop of different food coloring to each. Dress (or undress!) your child for a mess, and let him "paint" on a surface covered with a plastic sheet. At this age, art should involve many senses, says Susanna Carrillo, founder of Paper Scissors Oranges, an art studio for children in Darien, Connecticut. It's also a lesson on color mixing -- red + blue=purple!
Preschoolers: Macaroni Mosaics
Mix raw pasta with food coloring or liquid watercolor in a bowl. Spread on a tray to dry, then let kids glue it onto cardboard to make picture frames. Besides emphasizing fine motor skills and the fact that you can make art out of anything, these types of projects provide a fun way for getting kids to stay focused and on task to complete a project -- skills they'll need later in math, reading, and complex problem-solving.
School-Age Kids: Life-Size Self-Portraits
Have your child lie down on a large piece of craft paper so you can trace the outline of her whole figure. Then have her sketch in the details of her hair, face, clothes, skeleton, internal organs, whatever else she chooses. As she draws, she may need to examine herself in a mirror, which develops her ability to observe and discriminate details -- a key skill in reading comprehension. Hang the image on her bedroom door.
Pretending to be someone else seems like pure play, but it actually builds serious brainpower. "Acting fosters children's language proficiency, vocabulary development, and storytelling skills," says Wendy Mages, Ed.D., an independent researcher in human development and psychology.
Toddlers: Take a Trip
Flip through a photo album and help your child relive an experience. Encourage him to perform the actions along with the story and use sensory-rich details, like how the apple in a photo smelled and tasted. Having a mental picture of what words mean is a critical skill for new readers.
Preschoolers: ID the Object
Collect a bunch of items from around the house and put them in a bag. Take turns choosing an item, and try to answer the question "What else can you imagine it is?" by using the object in new and creative ways. (Perhaps the colander becomes a hat or a face mask.) Besides providing a cute photo op, this will help your child learn to think on her feet.
School-Age Kids: Bring Books to Life
Read your child's favorite book while he performs the actions. Explain how to dramatize tricky words. ("Gnash" is a toughie in Where the Wild Things Are.) Or pick two characters and put on the "play" together, trying to recall what happens next without the book. Invite an audience (stuffed animals count).
Things like beat counting, key signatures, and note values draw upon math. But researchers are finding that music may help with reading too. In one study, children who had musical instructions twice a week for three years scored higher in reading skills than kids who didn't get music lessons.
Toddlers: Echo, Echo
Even kids too little to memorize lyrics can echo you during a call-and-response song. Using a standard like "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," insert your child's name and favorite things, and have her repeat after you. This builds strong memory and listening skills, says Katherine Damkohler, executive director of Education Through Music, a nonprofit in New York City.
Preschoolers: Build a Band
Help kids invent instruments from stuff you have around the house. Put raw rice into plastic containers to make maracas. Fill some glass bottles with varying levels of water and strike gently to make a xylophone. It's a lesson in recycling and physics (different levels of water make new notes!). And trying to craft something to create music involves critical-thinking skills.
School-Age Kids: Time to Tune In
Play a song by one musician and another by a different one -- say, Dolly Parton and Duke Ellington.Then have him describe things that were the same about both as well as things that were unique to each. Supply the vocabulary for what he's noticing -- fast vs. slow tempo, high vs. low pitch, names of instruments. Being able to pick apart a sound can boost language and listening skills.
Originally published in the September 2010 issue of Parents magazine.
When you think about being bullied as a teenager, would you include your teachers as the culprits? I was recently quoted in an article exploring the negative impact of teacher bullying and how to cope. Publication: Girls' Life Author: Abbondanza, Katie Date published: August 1, 2013
"She said a 6-year-old could do better work."
"He criticized every little mistake I made."
"She called me stupid in front of the whole class."
As tough as it is to report, each of those statements came straight from GL readers discussing their very real experiences with bullies. But these bullies aren't fellow classmates - they're teachers.
We grow up thinking that teachers are kind, trustworthy and fair. And most are. But that's why the reports of educators singling out and berating students are troubling. This isn't girls being sensitive or overreacting to one-off comments. Teacher bullying is happening in classrooms across the nation. In fact, a 2012 study found that 45 percent of the 116 teachers surveyed copped to bullying a student. And the effects can be devastating to girls' self-esteem.
While it may seem harsh when your teacher doles out a detention after you flaked on the homework for the third time, if that's her rule for everyone, it's not bullying. Rather, teacher bullying is typically defined as using a position of authority to either manipulate or belittle a student past what's accepted as normal discipline, according to Dr. Stuart Twemlow, who has researched this topic.
It's important to remember that teachers are human, so they may lose their cool on a stressful day. But repeatedly lashing out or acting controlling is different. Name-calling, singling someone out, overreacting to the point that a student is afraid or physically intimidating or hitting a student all count as bullying or abusive behaviors.
Miranda H., 17, knows firsthand what it's like to be bullied by a person in power. During her sophomore year, she was harassed by her band instructor after a scheduling conflict didn't allow her to sign up for two periods of music.
Due to her other classes, Miranda, a talented saxophone player, had to take a seat in a less prestigious ensemble.
"I was one of his favorite students freshman year, but he made my sophomore year terrible," she says. "He would yell and be cruel, saying I was a 'disgrace to the band.'"
Just as scary, Miranda's teacher blamed her for his outbursts, a classic trait exhibited by abusers. He told her if she had just done what he wanted, he wouldn't have to call her out all the time.
"It was terrible," she says, adding that she'd go home in tears nearly every day. "I was constantly on edge, and I couldn't concentrate in my other classes."
Miranda's father talked with the band teacher at one point, but he denied any abusive behavior. And though she took all the right steps, his reaction made her feel like she was wrong, which is typical among bullying victims.
"If a teacher is calling you inappropriate names or repeatedly singling you out for minor mistakes [which are different from behavioral issues], know that you did nothing wrong," says Jennifer Musselman, a therapist who works with teens.
It's easy for students to feel powerless in these situations, but all the experts we spoke with stressed the importance of talking to your teacher before things escalate. In some cases, he or she might simply have high standards for you and be inadvertently treating you differently than the rest of the class. Regardless of the reason, you have to say something.
Where to start? Be direct. You should bring up exactly what's bothering you, whether it's the way your teacher ignores your hand when you raise it or how it hurts your feelings when she teases you, even if she's joking.
Mention that you've noticed it more than once. Maybe your teacher isn't aware her behavior is bothering you, and all it will take is a quick after-class conversation to get her to back off.
Of course, confronting your teacher doesn't always guarantee success. Maggie L., 17, had an eighth-grade art teacher who constantly singled out her work. She loved to draw, but her teacher always criticized her. One day, Maggie spoke up and asked what she could do to improve her piece.
"Well, if I were you, I'd throw it out and start over," the teacher told her, even though she was almost done with the entire assignment.
"Sometimes, her comments hurt my feelings." Maggie confessed. "Teachers are in such a powerful position. No matter if you like them or not, their opinion of you really matters. It's very different from classmates being judgmental or not liking you."
Maggie's thoughts get to the heart of why teacher bullying is so troublingand why girls have to continue to defend themselves even after that initial chat with their teacher.
"[If a teacher's behavior is] starting to affect your self-esteem or your grade, it's time to take your concerns to a trusted adult like your mom, dad, school counselor or another teacher," says Jennifer. She recommends documenting the day, time and what the teacher said so you can have a record of what happened.
"Be very clear on what the teacher is saying or doing that is causing you to feel this way," she says. "If possible, list any classmates who can vouch for you."
Ask your parents to talk to the teacher with you, and give them your written list of concerns and incidents. They might decide it's time to talk with the principal or the vice principal, who will hopefully remedy the situation. In the meantime, focus on your work and, if necessary, ask for extra help from a friend or school counselor.
Truth is, just one semester with a toxic teacher can negatively influence your life for years to come, which is why it's extra important to deal with the damage before it's too late.
Miranda, the one-time band star who was bullied, ended up quitting her instrument altogether by the time junior year rolled around.
After having her teacher read her English paper out loud and then call her stupid, Nina J., 14, is now afraid to make her presence known in class. "I never raise my hand in class anymore, because I'm afraid she will make me feel dumb," she admits.
Nina's case may be extreme, but the psychological effects of dealing with a toxic teacher can linger long after class is dismissed. Dr. Nerina GarciaArcement, a clinical psychologist, says to put your feelings down on paper - either by journaling or writing a letter to your teacher that you don't send. Talking with a school counselor also can help sort through the issue.
A Fresh Start
If all else fails, know you can remove yourself from the situation if you and your parents talk with the school's administration. "If the teacher doesn't change, it may be time to transfer out of that class," says Jennifer.
Take Emily M., 15, who eventually decided to take it one step further. She switched schools after her former school's only drama teacher picked on her endlessly.
"He'd say I'm obnoxious and ugly and annoying and stupid. That there was no way I'd ever be an actress," Emily says.
In the end, Emily made the tough decision to transfer, opting for a fresh start. "As hard as it was to leave, it would have been even harder to continue to deal with that teacher," she says. "I'm finally back to my old cheerful self. I'm a lot happier as a person now."
But even if the cruel comments cease or you remove yourself from dealing with critical remarks by changing classes or schools, check yourself for any persistent habits you may have picked up during that time period - like not speaking up in class or thinking you're not good at a certain subject - just because a bully teacher told you so.
"Try to figure out, 'How did this impact me?'" says Dr. GarciaArcement. And then, if you realize you're scared or are avoiding something you used to love, figure out a plan to get involved again - away from the watchful eye of your toxic teacher.
Miranda, who quit playing saxophone because of her experience, could form a jazz band with some friends outside of school. Maggie, who stopped believing in her artsy abilities, could take a lowpressure drawing class at a ree center.
And remember, while it's unfair that you have to deal with a bullying teacher, know that most educators are supportive, professional people who want to see you go far. So for every toxic teacher in this world, there are hundreds of others out there ready to guide you in the right direction. Keep an eye out for the ones who will truly help you shine.
Do you use emotion words to help your child identify how something makes them feel? I was quoted on the benefits of encouraging your child to label their feelings. Life’s disappointments offer great lessons to kids. by Heidi Smith Luedtke
No one – including Supermom – can prevent kids from experiencing setbacks in life. Your daughter may miss the class field trip because she caught a nasty cold. Or she may come home crying when her science-fair project earns a less-than-hoped-for grade. Kids’ disappointments are no fun for parents to witness. But kids learn to lift themselves up when they get knocked down. Marriage and family therapist Christina Steinorth, M.A., author of “Cue Cards for Life” (Hunter House, 2013), says parents can help kids learn to bounce back from adversities by taking a teaching role. During tough times, aim to build your child’s coping skills and reinforce the value of persistence. Here’s how. Acknowledge Emotions Family and art therapist Erica Curtis, MFT, of Santa Monica, Calif., says kids’ setbacks may feel intensely personal to parents. “Parents need to clarify their own feelings about the situation,” she says. “A parent may be more disappointed – or may assume the child is more disappointed – than the child actually is.” Research shows we are biologically wired to catch others’ emotions through a process called emotional contagion. Mirroring 9/a S ilver Lining ;AaD_69a;@/U Life’s disappointments offer great lessons to kids. by Heidi Smith Luedtke others’ feelings promotes and preserves social connections by allowing us to feel empathy. But there is a downside: It’s easy to forget whose feelings you’re feeling. When that happens, you may overreact or respond ways that amplify your child’s distress instead of helping him regroup. It’s important to get an accurate read of your child’s feelings about what happened. Sometimes kids share intense bad feelings with parents, then move on quickly. Other times, kids may feel truly and utterly devastated. Pay close attention to your child’s words, body language, and behavior. All of these things provide insight into kids’ feelings and give clues about how effectively they are coping. Accept your child’s emotional reaction, even if it seems overblown. “Parents need to be able to tolerate kids’ bad feelings,” Curtis says, even if they are uncomfortable. Take a deep breath and remind yourself parenting is hard. If needed, step back and tend to your own emotions first, so you can give generous comfort and support to your child. Build Coping Skills Start by giving your child a safe place to share his experiences. “The most important thing a parent can do is to listen actively,” Curtis says. “That means nodding, paraphrasing back what you’ve heard, and asking questions instead of offering solutions.”
For instance, if your child reports, “I wanted our team to be called the ‘Crushers’ but the other guys didn’t listen,” mirror his feelings by responding, “It sounds like you really wanted the team to choose the name you suggested.” This shows you are listening and validates your child’s point of view. As your child describes the situation in greater detail, “encourage her to identify and label her feelings,” says Brooklyn, NY, clinical psychologist and mom Nerina Garcia-Arcement, Ph.D. Labeling emotions gives kids a sense of control and composure and decreases the chance they’ll act out in harmful ways to express their feelings. A child who says, “I feel angry because my best friend blabbed my secret to everyone else,” is ready to explore potential responses. One who just cries and moans, “It’s awful,” is not. As your child explains what happened, prompt him to identify potential reasons for the setback. For instance, you might ask, “What do you think got in the way of you running a faster race?” Rather than letting him focus on one or two obvious reasons, encourage your child to come up with more. There is usually a range of factors, both personal and situational, that may have affected an unhappy outcome. Explore each reason with your child to identify ways he could do things differently next time. This helps your child move from feeling bad to doing better. For instance, noting he felt tired
before the race started might lead your son to come up with ideas about eating a snack before the track meet or going to bed earlier. Specific action steps empower kids to bounce back on their own terms. Encourage your child to write down her intended actions, so she’ll remember the plan. This also reinforces her commitment to change. Offer your support by asking what you can do to facilitate your child’s goals. “Parents have to commit to making changes along with the child,” says Garcia-Arcement. If your child says she needs more practice to make first chair in the clarinet section, you may need to tweak the routine to find more practice time or designate practice space in your home. Bottom line: Do what you can to create a supportive environment. Pay It Forward After the pain has passed, talk with your child about what she learned. Focus on knowledge gained and skills developed. Perhaps your child learned how to speak up for herself. Or maybe she built project-planning skills – such as goal setting and task scheduling – that she can apply to other endeavors. If your child can’t articulate what she learned, share your own observations. And don’t forget to tell her you’re proud of her improvement. Kids need to know parents notice. When the next setback happens, remind your child how he handled previous situations and encourage him to apply past learning to present challenges. Be a confidant and a sounding board. Help your child find his own way forward. Then step back and watch him grow through adversity. Responding to disappointment with confidence, grit and good humor is the key to being a happy, successful person.
Every Setback Has a Silver Lining 1. When kids don’t get what they want, they learn to distinguish wants from needs. 2. When kids lose a treasured object, they learn to take responsibility for their belongings. 3. When kids lose a game or competition, they learn to celebrate others’ success. 4. When kids don’t live up to their own expectations, they learn the importance of second chances and self-compassion. 5. When kids are left out or pushed aside, they learn the power of acceptance and inclusion. 6. When kids miss opportunities due to dawdling, they tune in to their surroundings more attentively. 7. When kids feel upset because parents limit their screen time and sugary snacks, they learn healthy choices aren’t always the most fun. 8. When kids build something, then see it destroyed, they learn that revision is part of the creative process. 9. When kids fail an assignment or exam, they learn achievement isn’t easy or automatic. Everyone doesn’t get a trophy every time. 10. When kids disappoint their parents, they learn love is bigger, stronger, and more enduring than any misbehavior. And that’s the best lesson of all.
How do you handle disappointment and how are you teaching your child to manage setbacks? I was recently quoted on how to help kids learn to manage when they feel disappointed. Written by Heidi Smith Luedtke, Ph.D.; Photo: PhotoXpress.com
No one – including Supermom – can prevent kids from experiencing setbacks in life. Your daughter may miss the class field trip because she caught a nasty cold. Or she may come home crying when her science-fair project earns a lower-than-hoped-for grade.
Kids’ disappointments are no fun for parents to witness. But kids learn to lift themselves up when they get knocked down. Marriage and family therapist Christina Steinorth, M.A., author of Cue Cards for Life, says parents can help kids learn to bounce back from adversities by taking a teaching role. During tough times, aim to build your child’s coping skills and reinforce the value of persistence. Here’s how.
Acknowledge emotions – Family and art therapist Erica Curtis, MFT, says kids’ setbacks may feel intensely personal to parents. When our kids hurt, we hurt too. “Parents need to clarify their own feelings about the situation,” she says. “A parent may be more disappointed – or may assume the child is more disappointed – than the child actually is.”
Research shows we are biologically wired to catch others’ emotions through a process called emotional contagion. Mirroring others’ feelings promotes and preserves social connections by allowing us to feel empathy. But there is a downside: It’s easy to forget whose feelings you’re feeling. When that happens, you may overreact or respond with ways that amplify your child’s distress instead of helping them regroup.
It’s important to get an accurate read of your child’s feelings about what happened. Sometimes kids share intense bad feelings with parents then move on quickly. Other times, kids may feel truly and utterly devastated. Pay close attention to your child’s words, body language and behavior. All of these things provide insight into kids’ feelings and give clues about how effectively they are coping.
Accept your child’s emotional reaction, even if it seems overblown. “Parents need to be able to tolerate kids’ bad feelings,” says Curtis, even if they are uncomfortable. Take a deep breath and remind yourself parenting is hard. If needed, step back and tend to your own emotions first, so you can give generous comfort and support to your child.
Build coping skills – Start by giving your child a safe place to share their experiences. “The most important thing a parent can do is to listen actively. That means nodding, paraphrasing back what you’ve heard and asking questions instead of offering solutions,” says Curtis. If your child reports, “I wanted our team to be called the ‘Crushers’ but the other guys didn’t listen,” mirror his feelings by responding, “It sounds like you really wanted the team to choose the name you suggested.” This shows you are listening and validates your child’s point of view.
As your child describes the situation in greater detail, “encourage her to identify and label her feelings,” says clinical psychologist and mom Nerina Garcia-Arcement, Ph.D. Assigning specific emotion words to feelings helps kids address them more effectively. A child who says, “I feel angry because my best friend blabbed my secret to everyone else,” is ready to explore potential responses. One who just cries and moans, “It’s awful,” is not. Labeling emotions gives kids a sense of control and composure and decreases the chance they’ll act out in harmful ways to express their feelings.
As your child explains what happened, prompt them to identify potential reasons for the setback. For instance, you might ask, “What do you think got in the way of you running a faster race?” Instead of letting them focus on one or two obvious reasons, encourage your child to come up with more. There is usually a range of factors, both personal and situational, that may have affected an unhappy outcome.
Explore each reason with your child to identify ways they could do things differently next time. This helps your child move from feeling bad to doing better. For instance, noting they felt tired before the race started might lead your child to come up with ideas about eating a snack before the track meet or going to bed earlier. Specific action steps empower kids to bounce back on their own terms.
Encourage your child to write down their intended actions, so they’ll remember the plan. This also reinforces their commitment to change. Offer your support by asking what you can do to facilitate your child’s goals. “Parents have to commit to making changes along with the child,” says Garcia-Arcement. If your child says they need more practice to make first chair in the clarinet section, you may need to tweak the afterschool routine to find more practice time or designate a music-practice space in your home. Bottom line: Do what you can to create a supportive environment.
Pay it forward – After the pain has passed, talk with your child about what they learned. Focus on knowledge gained and skills developed. Perhaps your child learned how to speak up for themselves. Or maybe they built project-planning skills – such as goal-setting and task-scheduling – that they can apply to other endeavors. If your child can’t articulate what they learned, share your own observations. And don’t forget to tell them you’re proud of their improvement. Kids need to know parents notice.
When the next setback happens, remind your child how they handled previous situations and encourage them to apply past learning to present challenges. Be a confidant and a sounding board. Help your child find their own way forward. Then step back and watch them grow through adversity. Responding to disappointment with confidence, grit and good humor is the key to being a happy, successful person.
Heidi Smith Luedtke, Ph.D., is a personality psychologist, mom of two and author of Detachment Parenting. Learn more at heidiluedtke.com.
Appreciating our blessings and taking time to notice what we are grateful for helps us feel happier and reduces depression. This is a great article about how to instill gratitude in children. These helpful tips are appropriate for all ages, whether children or adults. By nurturing a sense of gratitude from an early age, your children will learn to appreciate big and small blessings.
By Ansley Roan
Teaching kids to be thankful doesn't involve guilt trips or lectures on the less fortunate, and the benefits will last longer than the turkey sandwiches. Grateful children may grow into happier adults, according to Christine Carter, Ph.D., author of Raising Happiness and director of the Greater Good Parents program at the University of California at Berkeley. "Pioneering social scientists think that 40 percent of our happiness comes from intentional, chosen activities throughout the day. Thankfulness is not a fixed trait. It's a skill that can be cultivated, like kicking a soccer ball or speaking French," Dr. Carter says. Because Thanksgiving is high season for gratitude, it's an ideal time to talk to your children about remembering the blessings. Try these easy and interesting tips to teach your children to develop a habit of thankfulness.
Shop, Buy, and Share
Trips to the grocery store, drugstore, or toy store can be opportunities to think of others. Next time you're stocking up, encourage your children to pick one or two canned goods to donate to a Thanksgiving food drive or a food bank. Shelters also need donations of personal care items (soap, toothpaste, diapers) or new clothing (warm socks, jackets). Check with local shelters to see what they need, and have kids choose the supplies. They'll learn to think of others and start to appreciate the necessities they ordinarily take for granted. National toy drives, like Toys for Tots, provide new gifts for children. Ask your kids to imagine what children their age might want, and then help them buy it. The item could be something on their wish list or even something they already have and love, like a cherished teddy bear.
De-clutter and Donate
Encourage your children to donate toys they no longer use or clothes they've outgrown. Let them know that some things they don't need might be useful for another child. Suggest that they consider a short list of items to donate, and then bring them to a drop-off place such as the Salvation Army. Involve them in considering what they don't want anymore so they will have new appreciation for their toys and clothes. Just remember not to force it: If they're not ready to give something away, that's okay. Avoid warning the kids that they won't get something new to replace what they give away; they may associate sacrifice with loss or punishment. Instead, find other ways to cultivate a sense of gratitude and helping others.
Volunteer Your Time
Look for opportunities to volunteer as a family. Friends and neighbors may know of a group that can use the help. Serve food at nearby shelters or put together care packages for senior citizens or soldiers oversees. Show how giving time, not just money or objects, is another way of helping others and acknowledging gratitude for what you already have. Or devote time to neighbors or other family members by scheduling a group project to rake leaves for an elderly relative or cook a meal for someone who's under the weather.
Even young kids draw turkeys or learn about the Pilgrims in classrooms. Ask your child (or the teacher) about the lesson plans and build on those at home. Have little ones imagine what the Pilgrims might have been grateful for that first Thanksgiving in Plymouth. They may have been grateful to be with each other or to be living in a new country. The more advanced the lesson, the more possibilities. Kids can also imagine what the Pilgrims might appreciate in your house today. They might enjoy good food and the time with family, as well as modern conveniences like heat and hot water.
Write Notes of Appreciation
Ask your kids to write a handwritten note to someone they're thankful for; if kids are too young to write, have them a draw picture instead. Ask them to consider who makes their lives better or brighter. Is it the babysitter? A favorite aunt? A family friend who always remembers birthdays? When children reflect on who they want to write to, they learn to value people in their lives who have touched them. No doubt the recipient will appreciate a note from the heart, too. Plus, you can spread the blessings by composing more than one note!
Don't Forget Family
Many parents teach their children to say thank you when they receive a gift, but family members often forget to thank each other for everyday favors. "I think we lack ways to talk about gratitude," Dr. Carter says. "My kids have picked up notions of what romantic love is from Disney movies, but they probably couldn't say a word about how Cinderella feels thankful for all that her fairy godmother has given her. We don't talk much about good things that come from other people's efforts." Set an example by thanking your children and your spouse. Saying "Thank you for cleaning your room" or "Thank you for sharing with your brother," not only lets children know that their efforts (like folding laundry or running errands) are appreciated, it also instills the idea that "thank you" is not reserved for the birthday bonanza. Children see gratitude in action, and it's good for household harmony too.
Appreciate Small Moments
Take time to appreciate the good things with your kids. Use travel time in the car as an opportunity to share something positive, perhaps by saying, "Look at the pretty leaves on that tree" or "Wasn't it fun to make that drawing in class today?" These simple conversation starters encourage children to contemplate and appreciate the blessings around them. When you tuck them into bed, ask what they're grateful for that particular day. Gradually weave these observations and questions into your time together to cultivate thankfulness.
Keep Gratitude Going
Long after the turkey is eaten and football season ends, continue to practice thankfulness throughout the year. In the summer, donate your time when charities and food banks need extra help because regular volunteers are on vacation. One of the most practical ways to inspire gratitude is also the simplest. You don't have to be involved in big projects all the time. Set aside time to name one or two things every person in the family is grateful for each day. "Researchers have found that people who practice gratitude feel considerably happier (25 percent) than those in a control group," Dr. Carter says. "They are more joyful, enthusiastic, interested, and determined. Grateful people are more likely to be both kind and helpful." Raising children with those traits would be enough to make any parent thankful.
Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation.
Ansley Roan is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She writes about faith and spirituality, health, and parenting. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Glamour, and Teen People.
Listen to my interview on The Mary Waldon Show on the emotional impact and how to cope with Hurricane Sandy. Hurricane Sandy has had a tremendous impact on countless families up and down the east coast of the United States. Such an event can leave even the most well-informed parent with questions and concerns.What is the potential impact of natural disasters and other traumas on teenagers? What can parents do to help mitigate the impact of Hurricane Sandy? What is an expected reaction to such extreme events, and what kinds of reactions indicate a need for professional intervention? For answers to these and other related questions, please tune in to The Mary Waldon Show to hear the insight and expertise of Dr. Nerina Garcia-Arcement, an expert in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
This is a wonderful and short article that outlines 7 proven parenting techniques. Seven research-backed ways to improve parenting.
By Amy Novotney
October 2012, Vol 43, No. 9
Print version: page 44
Search for parenting books on Amazon.com, and you get tens of thousands of titles, leaving new parents awash in a sea of often conflicting information. But thanks to the accumulated results of decades of empirical research, psychologists know more than ever before about what successful parenting really is.
The Monitor asked leaders in child psychology for their best empirically tested insights for managing children's behavior. Here's what they said.
1. Embrace praise
Simply put, giving attention to undesired behaviors increases undesired behaviors, while giving attention to good behaviors increases good behaviors, says Alan E. Kazdin, PhD, a Yale University psychology professor and director of the Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic.
"When it comes to nagging, reprimand and other forms of punishment, the more you do it, the more likely you are not going to get the behavior you want," says Kazdin, APA's 2008 president. "A better way to get children to clean their room or do their homework, for example, is to model the behavior yourself, encourage it and praise it when you see it."
But parents shouldn't offer that praise indiscriminately, says Sheila Eyberg, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Florida who conducts research on parent-child relationships. Eyberg recommends parents provide their children with a lot of "labeled praise"—specific feedback that tells the child exactly what he or she did that the parent liked. By giving labeled praise to the child, such as, "I really like how quietly you're sitting in your chair," when a child is having trouble calming down. The parent is focusing on what's relevant to the behavior problem, Eyberg says. Several studies back her up: Psychologist Karen Budd, PhD, found that training preschool teachers to use labeled praise improves the teacher-child relationship and helps teachers better manage behavior in the classroom (Education and Treatment of Children, 2010).
Kazdin also recommends reinforcing the praise with a smile or a friendly touch. And feedback should be honest, says David J. Palmiter Jr., PhD, a practitioner in Clarks Summit, Pa., and author of the 2011 book, "Working Parents, Thriving Families."
"I was at a girls' softball game recently and I started to get a headache from all the praising going on for poor performance," he says. "This can often deprive a child of the wonderful learning that comes from failure."
2. Look the other way
Research also suggests that parents should learn to ignore minor misbehaviors that aren't dangerous, such as whining about a sibling not sharing or a toddler throwing food on the floor.
In several studies, Kazdin and his team found that when parents changed their responses to behaviors—for example, they ignored screams but gave a lot of attention to their children when they asked nicely for something—the child learned that asking nicely is the better, more reliable way to get attention ("The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child," 2008).
3. Learn about child development
Parents are also more effective when they read up on child development to understand the misbehaviors that are common for each developmental stage, says Eyberg. Often, when a child displays a behavior that a parent doesn't like, such as making a mess while eating, it's because the child is simply learning a new skill, she says.
"If parents understand that the child isn't making a mess on purpose, but instead learning how to use their developing motor skills in a new way, they're more likely to think about praising every step the child takes toward the ultimate goal," she says. Parents who know what a child is capable of understanding, feeling and doing at different ages and stages of development can be more realistic about what behaviors to expect, leading to less frustration and aggression.
4. Do time-out right
Three decades of research on time-outs show that they work best when they are brief and immediate, Kazdin says. "A way to get time-out to work depends on ‘time-in'—that is, what the parents are praising and modeling when the child is not being punished," Kazdin says.
Research also suggests that parents need to remain calm when administering time-outs—often a difficult feat in the heat of the misbehavior—and praise compliance once the child completes it. In addition, he says, parents shouldn't have to restrain a child to get him or her to take a time-out because the point of this disciplinary strategy is to give the child time away from all reinforcement. "If what is happening seems more like a fight in a bar, the parent is reinforcing inappropriate behaviors," Kazdin says.
5. Prevent misbehavior
John Lutzker, PhD, who directs the Center for Healthy Development at Georgia State University, has even stopped advising parents to use time-outs. Instead, he teaches parents to plan and structure activities to prevent a child's challenging behaviors, based on previous research:
- Plan ahead to prevent problems from arising.
- Teach children how to cope effectively with the demands of the situation.
- Find ways to help children stay engaged, busy and active when they might otherwise become bored or disruptive."We've found in our work over the past 20 years that if you do a good job teaching parents planned activities training, there's no need for time-outs," Lutzker says.
6. Take care of yourself first
Parents receive some of the best parenting advice every time they take off on an airplane, says Palmiter: If the cabin loses pressure and you must put on an oxygen mask, put one on yourself first before you help your child.
"I see households all across America where the oxygen masks have long since dropped and all of the oxygen is going to the children," says Palmiter.
Yet the research makes it clear that children are negatively affected by their parents' stress. According to APA's 2010 Stress in America survey, 69 percent of respondents recognized that their personal stress affects their children, and only 14 percent of children said their parents' stress didn't bother them. In addition, 25 percent to 47 percent of tweens reported feeling sad, worried or frustrated about their parents' stress. Another study published last year in Child Development found that parents' stress imprints on children's genes—and the effects last a very long time.
That's why modeling good stress management can make a very positive difference in children's behavior, as well as how they themselves cope with stress, psychologists say.
Palmiter recommends that parents make time for exercise, hobbies, maintaining their friendships and connecting with their partners. That may mean committing to spending regular time at the gym or making date night a priority.
"Investing in the relationship with their partner is one of the most giving things a parent can do," Palmiter says. Single parents should establish and nurture meaningful connections in other contexts. A satisfying relationship with a colleague, neighbor, family member or friend can help to replenish one's energy for parenting challenges.
7. Make time
Too often, Palmiter says, the one-on-one time parents offer their children each week is the time that's left over after life's obligations, such as housework and bill-paying, have been met.
"We often treat our relationships—which are like orchids—like a cactus, and then when inevitably the orchid wilts or has problems, we tend to think that there's something wrong with the orchid," he says.
To combat this issue, Palmiter recommends that each parent spend at least one hour a week—all at once or in segments—of one-on-one time with each child, spent doing nothing but paying attention to and expressing positive thoughts and feelings toward him or her.
"It literally works out to about .5 percent of the time in a week," he says. The most effective time for a parent to create those special moments is when the child is doing something that she or he can be praised for, such as building with Legos or shooting baskets. During that time, parents should avoid teaching, inquiring, sharing alternative perspectives or offering corrections.
Palmiter says many families he's recommended the strategy to over the years have told him that adding an hour of special time in addition to the quality time they spend with their children—such as attending a baseball game together—has significantly improved the parent-child relationship. In addition, a study published in January in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that, particularly among younger children, a parent's demonstration of love, shown through nurturing behavior and expressions of support, can improve a child's brain development and lead to a significantly larger hippocampus, a brain component that plays a key role in cognition.
"The metaphor I use is, what an apple is to the physician—'an apple a day keeps the doctor away'—special time is to the child psychologist," Palmiter says.
Life transitions are difficult for all involved. This article addresses the struggle of letting your child grow and become independent, while still being a concerned parent. I am quoted on common illnesses college students experience and how to help while letting your child gain independence. By Vanessa McGrady
So your baby’s grown up and gone away to college. You’ve packed her full of good advice and loaded her up with enough technology so that you could find her at the bottom of the sea, if it came to that. But no matter how independent college students become, nearly every parent gets that call home at some point: “Mom, I’m so sick.”
It’s a helpless feeling, and you might wrestle with a decision to go visit or bring your child back. Typical ailments for college students include viruses, gastrointestinal infections or "stomach flu,” mononucleosis and food poisoning. A university health service also fields cases of sexually transmitted diseases and injuries from accidents—some which involve alcohol. (These of course, happen only to other people’s children.)
You can’t drop everything to tend to each new boo-boo, but there are things you can do to help prevent trips to the clinic.
“It is very common for college students to get colds and the flu. This happens most often around midterms and finals season. Stress lowers the immune system and makes it easier to ‘catch bugs,’” says Nerina Garcia-Arcement, a licensed clinical psychologist at New York University School of Medicine.
RELATED: College Prep: Communication
You can’t drop everything to tend to each new boo-boo, but there are things you can do to help prevent trips to the clinic and, in the worst-case-scenario, the emergency room.
“Parents can help by offering support, reminding their kids to practice stress management, socialize to reduce isolation and increase social support, eat well and exercise. Care packages that encourage this are encouraged,” says Arcement.
A big part of preparation for college is to make sure your kids have the basics of self-care down, says Dr. Claudia Borzutzky, Lead Physician at University Park Health Center for University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. That includes:
- Regular exercise, healthy diet, adequate sleep (at least six to seven hours a night for most people)
- Frequent hand washing during cold and flu season
- Responsible use of alcohol and avoidance of binge drinking
- Safe sexual practices
- Use of bicycle helmets and respect for traffic and safety regulations on college campuses.
- A primer on over-the-counter medications, most of which will suffice for the following: regular coughs, colds and flus that last less than a week or do not cause fevers over 100.5 degrees, shortness of breath or dizziness.
RELATED: Coping With College—as a Parent
Borzutzky says it’s also important to make sure kids understand their new campus's student health center hours and what kind of care they can access there. They should have a copy of their health insurance card and know what to do in an urgent medical situation.
You’ll also want to ensure that your kids' vaccinations are all up to date, including meningococcal vaccination, HPV vaccination (now recommended for both women and men), and annual influenza vaccination or the “flu shot,” especially for those with asthma or other chronic medical conditions.
One thing that may frustrate you, as your college student grows into adulthood, is that while you can always provide information about your child’s health to his doctor, you no longer can request information without your child’s written permission. If your child is under 18, privacy laws for issues such as mental health, drug use and reproductive health vary depending on the state.
“Learning to deal with minor illnesses without a parent close by is part of the separation and maturation process older adolescents need to go through as they approach young adulthood,” Borzutzky says, “However, in the case of more significant or prolonged injuries or illnesses, students will need to use their own best judgment about their ability to cope on their own without extra support, and parents and family are, of course, an essential part of their care and recovery when that is not the case.”
Anna, mother of one from Illinois, says she's a happier parent for waiting until she was older, "My husband and I didn't have our first child until our early 40s. It was a wonderful decision for many reasons. Our daughter is now 13 months, and we are both 43 years old. We couldn't be happier parents!"
Ignore the ticking clock
But what if, unlike Anna, you're struggling with the thought of waiting, feeling self-imposed or outside pressure to procreate? Nerina Garcia-Arcement, Ph.D. urges women not to rush into having a child simply because others are doing it or because their clock is ticking. "Having a child changes everything, literally."
"There are many pros to waiting, including being more emotionally and psychologically ready for the vast changes to lifestyle and time commitment that children require."
More financial stability
Garcia-Arcement also reminds potential parents that financial stability can come with waiting. "Having a more stable and developed profession so that you are in a more stable financial situation... " Barbara Neitlich, psychotherapist, adds, "If you wait, you can generally put more money aside for your baby fund."
More confidence and maturity
Beverly D. Flaxington, author and mother of three, who had babies at 35, 38 and 42 says, "I felt more confident after going through a number of life situations and developing different perspectives on life." Garcia-Arcement makes the point, "You might have more energy as a younger mom, but older moms have the benefit of more life experience and maturity." Neitlich adds, "As you age you learn more about yourself, your partner and what type of parent you want to be."
More time for you
Neitlich also says a key reason to wait is to "travel, travel, travel!" and spend more quality time with your partner first. Garcia-Arcement agrees, "Accomplishing personal goals first (e.g. education, travel, attending cultural events) allows the mom to never question should I have waited until... ?"
Ask yourself the important questions
Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill, a marriage and family therapist, reminds couples to ask themselves important questions before making their final decision.
- Are you and your spouse in agreement? Will you both be committed to all that is entailed?
- Do you and your spouse believe you would enjoy parenting?
- Will you consider medical intervention if you cannot get pregnant?
- Are there any financial concerns? Will a child make a difference in whether both spouses will be able to pursue their careers, work full time, finish up any education, etc.?
- Are there any emotional or psychological reasons underlying a push for a child — the kind of reasons that have more to do with improving the marriage, etc.? The kind that are not healthy reasons and usually backfire?