Thursday, September 6, 2012

Raising Emotionally Healthy Children

We all know our children have basic physical needs. They also have basic emotional needs. Dr. Newmark has written a book that identifies 5 essential and basic emotional needs. Here is a little bit of info about he and his wife's mission and book.
Raising Emotionally Healthy Children Free Downloads
Raising Emotionally Healthy Children Power Point Overview

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Early Childhood Essentials


Researchers have found that we can have a significant impact on a child's brain development by providing them certain experiences when they are young. These experiences help their brain grow and develop.

Here are 6 SIMPLE, but SUPER IMPORTANT things that will make a difference in the future of your child's  lives. 
(Try not to over do all these things or beat yourself up over what you haven't done, just do the best you can, and know that kids are resilient and you can still have a tremendous effect on their development.)

Talking is extremely important for brain development. Talk to your kids all throughout the day. Ask them questions, acknowledge their responses and respond back. Describe things you see and do through out the day. Talk to them about things they seem interested about. Talk about things that remind them of something else they have seen or done before. Dianne McGuiness, PhD, states that "A child is learning essentially nothing when we are talking to others, or older children". Young children learn from the one on one, back and forth conversation with someone. 
Tips for Talking
Babies- Talk lots! Talk in your baby talk voice. This is called parentese. ( Example-"Oh sweeeet baaaaby!" Parentese is the slow, high/low, dramatic voice that adults all of the world tend to use with babies. Parentese actually helps puts emphasis on important sounds in the language and babies love it!  Let them see your mouth when you are talking to them when possible. Make eye contact when you can. Let them respond to your questions with noises and coo's and then respond back to their sounds, like you are having a conversation. Talk to them about the things they are paying attention to.
Toddlers- Continue to talk! You will sound kind of like a sports caster. Describe things and situations, label objects,  feelings, and what you, they and others are doing through out the day. Ask questions. Let them respond. Respond back to their response. Talk about things that they are interested in at any given moment. If they are really paying attention and interested in something, that is the best topic to discuss, describe, and talk about. They are soaking in a lot more vocabulary than you think!
Preschoolers- Keep talking! Have conversations about things they seem interested in. Try not to dominate the topic, but let them take the lead sometimes. Extend their vocabulary just a little bit at a time. There is no need to make all your conversations a teaching exercise or worry about trying to correct their grammar. Just say it the correct way when you respond back. They'll get it in time.

Touch is a human need. Give your child hugs, cuddles, kisses, massages, high fives, etc. This kind of touch helps a child feel secure, builds self-esteem, and is important for developing a bond and attachment between two people. Touch also helps the emotional part of the brain develop. When a person is touched, the receptors on their skin send signals to their brain, which form new connections between the brain cells. If the emotional part of the brain does not develop properly, it can have many damaging effects on brain growth and development. Touch helps a person feel like they are a needed and wanted organism. Bruce Perry, MD, PhD and a leading expert in childhood trauma states that touch is "as critical a nutrient as a vitamin". Touch is crucial for a child's brain to grow and develop to it's full potential.

Responding to needs
Responding to young children in a consistent way builds trust. When a child feels secure, and can trust that their needs are going to be responded to and they are safe, it builds the limbic system. The limbic system is the emotional part of the brain, which helps in learning, motivation, memory, emotions and helps them develop healthy emotional relationships, trust, affection, and intimacy. Most experts and studies agree that you can't spoil a young baby by responding to them when they need attention(cry). This consistent response helps them build trust in YOU and trust in the world around them. It is a crucial and important part of their development. 

Responding to feelings
Children need us to acknowledge their feelings (identify what they are feeling), and support them and teach them healthy ways to calm down and deal with negative/uncomfortable feelings. Learning to cope with feelings and problem solving is a skill, just like math and reading and takes lots of practice, teaching, and modeling.  Their emotional health is a critical part or their health and well-being. 

Help create a predictable schedule
*Regular meal/snack times- healthy food options
 *Respect nap times and bedtimes most of the time 
(Rest allows a child's brain to unwind and store the information it has been taking in. Without rest a child's brain is more stressed and prevents optimal brain functioning)
*Daily play time-play is their work and is how they learn
*Daily physical activity
(Get outside and let them play-this helps reduce stress for them and is great exercise)
*Daily dose of TLC and attention
(Kids need attention and if they can't get it in a positive way, you can count on them acting out to get it in a negative way.)
Responding to limit testing:
As children get a little older, not only do we respond to needs, but also have to balance out wants. Many times we have to set limits on what they want. When they test limits and disobey, most experts encourage caregivers to follow through with logical consequences in a matter of fact way (with out a lot of drama, yelling, lecturing, etc). This allows the consequence to do the teaching and the kids learn from their own experience. As parents and caregivers, we obviously all have our moments and lose our cool, and don't always respond consistently and calmly. We're human! The great news is we don't have to be perfect parents to raise healthy, happy kids. Admit it, apologize, forgive yourself, and try to do better. Keep working at it. Practice makes better.

Reading to children helps them learn about language, about the reading process, and builds their vocabulary and comprehension. Remember, the best reading session is one you both enjoy. Don't stress it if they don't read for long, or if you don't make it through the entire book. Keep it fun. When kids are young it is SO important that the associate reading with enjoyment. Snuggle, use a fun voice, and ask them questions to keep them interested. (What's that? I wonder what will happen next...This reminds me of...Why do you think...?)

 Play is important because it is the main way that young children learn about themselves and the world around them. Allowing open-ended, free play is great for kids. In this type of play we follow their lead and allow them to guide the play. We get down on their level, and let them pick and guide the activity. We just play along, and withhold teaching, advice and suggestions. This type of play helps them feel powerful, allows them to try out different roles, work through feelings, and develop an imagination and creativity. Playing with open ended materials is a great way to get them to use their creativity. Creativity will help them become good problem solvers in the future, so encouraging this type of play is great for them. 
Another type of play is adult led play. In this type of play the adult sets the rules and guides the play more. In adult led play, the child will learn skills like how to follow rules and instructions, and can develop strategies, teamwork, and good sportsmanship. (sports, games, coloring books). This can be a lot of fun too.
Scheduling regular 1 on 1 time with a child can be very beneficial. This play time is an opportunity to connect and strengthen our relationship with them. It is also a great way we can help their brain grow and develop. Even 15 minutes of uninterrupted, quality time a day with a child has great benefits and has been shown to decrease problem, attention seeking behaviors in kids. Singing, reading, and rhyming are also great ways to add play into the day. These activities are great for language development.
Set limits on tv play time. Playing with real objects and with real people and learning about things in real life is way more effective than learning about something through tv.

Take care of yourself
 If you are a primary care giver, PLEASE take care of your needs too! If you are not meeting your own needs, the child's needs are going to be neglected as well. You simply can't help fill up someone else's tank, when you are running on empty yourself.  Studies have shown that a child's stress level is greatly impacted by the parents stress level. Give yourself some TLC when you need it! Your kids will benefit from it and so will you!

Helpful Links

Bright from the Start by Jill Stamm
Growing a Reader by Diane McGuiness
Growing Up Again by Jean Illsey Clarke
Dealing With Disappointment by Elizabeth Crary

Embrace your child's temperament

We are all born with a certain temperament. Our temperament is our nature or disposition-the way we naturally tend to act and do things due to our genetic make up. Just like a cookie has unique ingredients that give it it's flavor, our unique temperament and personality ingredients make us who we are and influence how we think, feel, react, and behave.

There are some parts of our temperament that can not be removed or changed because they stem from our biological make up. Although we can't change some of these characteristics, we can certainly learn to accept and understand these traits and influence and guide development in positive ways.

Understanding our child's temperament and our own temperament can help us accept our child for who they are, and give us insights on challenging behaviors and conflicts. Most importantly though, understanding temperament can help us create healthier, more realistic expectations for our child and allow us to create an environment where both parent and child can learn, grow, and develop as unique individuals.

Temperament traits are not good or bad, they all have advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation, but some combinations of traits are more difficult to handle than others.
Researchers(Thomas, Chess, and Birch) studied and identified 9 traits. Take the quiz below and learn more about what temperament traits you and your child have.

Read the questions below and see what you and your child’s temperament traits reveal.
Use a scale 1-5. (1-Low/Mild…3-Medium/Moderate…5-High/Extreme)

1. Energy and Activity Level: How active is your child? Are they pretty mellow most of the time or are they bouncing off the walls with energy most of the time? Most kids are somewhere in between.
•           You____________________________________
•           Your child_______________________________
2. Regularity: Does your child settle into schedules and routines quickly? Do they have pretty regular patterns in their eating, sleeping, toileting, and other habits?
•           You____________________________________
•           Your child_______________________________
3. Adaptability: Does your child adjust easily to transitions in the day or new situations and environments? Do these changes cause them a lot of stress? Does your child hesitate to join into new situations or do they join more gradually? How do they respond to new people? Do they tend to withdraw and avoid new situations or dive right in?
•           You____________________________________
•           Your child_______________________________
4. Intensity: Does your child react in mild and quiet ways when they are excited or upset? Or are they pretty intense?
•           You____________________________________
•           Your child_______________________________
5. Persistence/attention span/frustration tolerance: How long does your child stick to a task?  A long time or short time? How long do they resist limits? Do they get frustrated easily?  The great thing about persistent kids is they can persevere and stick to a task when it is tough. The negative side is they can be pretty stubborn to rules and authority.
•           You____________________________________
•           Your child_______________________________
6. Distractibility/Soothability: Can your child stay focused on tasks for long periods of time or do they get distracted easily? Do they complete tasks or do they jump from one uncompleted task to the next? Can they be soothed easily when they are upset?
•           You____________________________________
•           Your child_______________________________
 7. Sensitivity: Is your child affected a lot by sensory stuff? Are they particular about smells, tasters, temperature, textures, sounds, lights, etc.?
•           You____________________________________
•           Your child_______________________________
8. Mood: Is your child happy and cheerful most of the time or are they often irritable and upset?
•           You____________________________________
•           Your child_______________________________
9. Approach/Withdrawal: Does your child approach new people, food, or situations with curiosity and excitement or do they usually resist most new things.
•           You______________________________________
•           Your child_________________________________

Hopefully this information will help you begin to accept and embrace your child’s temperament, rather than kicking against it. By doing this, we can help them develop an accurate view of themselves with a focus on their strengths, and an awareness of their tendencies and weaknesses. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Dealing With Different Temperaments

Dealing with Different Temperaments!
Now that you have an idea of your child’s temperament, it can be extremely helpful to use that information to help you as you deal with challenging behaviors.
Think about their temperament traits and see what ideas you can come up with that might help you to deal with behaviors that challenge you. I will give you some examples, but since every kid is different, and parents value different things, YOU are going to be the one that can come up with the ideas that will be best for your unique situation.

High Energy
Channel energy into appropriate, fun activities
Child proof the house
Set clear, consistent limits
Provide nutritious snacks to refuel, they tend to snack more than eat big meals
Don’t expect them to sit too long at mealtime
Provide rest periods in the day (even if not sleeping)
Make sure they get plenty of sleep at night
Try to create a calm (not rowdy) atmosphere after dinner, so they can calm down
Notice the signs when their intensity is rising
Try to sooth or distract to decrease intensity
Provide them a place to “cool down” if they need to
Teach them what is okay and not okay to do with their intense emotions
Try to keep your voice and manner calm, if you’re intensity increases, so will theirs
Introduce them to new things several times- repetition
Break new things into manageable parts- segmenting
Allow them time to observe before they join in
Give them a heads up about changes before hand
Provide time for transitions during the day
Set clear, consistent limits
Offer choices to share control
Provide routines, especially at bed time
Provide rest periods during the day
Teach them how to share control with other kids
Provide reassurance when you are leaving, that you will return
If they test limits, follow through with a logical consequence
Break big jobs into smaller jobs
Give encouragement when they complete the smaller tasks of a big job

Some of these ideas for dealing with different temperaments were gathered from the book "Understanding Temperament" by Lyndall Shick.

More Tips on Temperament
INSIGHTS Temperament Program Goals

Friday, August 24, 2012


I love these quotes about temperament...
"Most parent’s can predict with good accuracy, how their child will respond in specific situations, but many parents feel confused and frustrated by the predictable response. They choose to fight with it or give in to it rather than shape and guide it. When we accept our child’s temperament as a fact of life, behavior is much easier to understand and manage. “
He later goes on to say…
“The problem many parents experience is that they invest too much time and energy trying to change the one thing they can’t change-their child’s temperament. We can’t change temperament, but we can understand it, guide it, and shape it in a positive direction.”
Robert MacKenzie (Setting Limits with the Strong Willed Child)


Thursday, August 23, 2012

CPR Videos and Info

(These resources are meant to be an educational tool. Check your local fire department for the most up to date certified training.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Development Matters

Barn 1 Clip Art
It's quite simple. When it comes to behavior expectations, development matters...a lot! If we want to be able to create reasonable and fair expectations for a child, we have to have some background information about the child's development age and stage. If we choose not to take into account a child's age and stage, we will most likely create unrealistic expectations, which will cause lots of extra frustration for us and for them!

We can not change the age/stage our child is in, but we can accept it, understand it, and use that information to create a more supportive environment for our child to work on developmental tasks. Some ages/stages are extremely challenging, but there is likely some important learning and skill development that needs to go on during those times. It is sometimes hard to see, but if we look hard enough there are usually enjoyable things and challenging things about each age/stage.

Jean Illsey Clarke's theory has helped me understand my children's development more clearly. In her theory the developmental task is something that the child is continually working on during that stage, which helps explain some of their behaviors. It also states that we sometimes cycle back through previous stages. Check out the link below to learn about this theory and Clarke's child developmental stages and tasks.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

School Stuff

Focus on their strengths
It is really important that we focus more on a child's strengths rather than their weaknesses. As we focus and give them opportunities to develop and succeed in areas that they have natural interest and gifts, they will develop a healthier and positive view of themselves. If we focus too much on the stuff they are not doing well in, they may develop a negative view of themselves and become unmotivated.When they are feeling discouraged and comparing themselves negatively to others, remind them of their strengths. Encourage them to focus on those. Remind them that no one is good at everything, but if they work at the things that they struggle with, they can improve in that area.
Help them identify their personal strengths (not just academic).

Focus on their effort 
Help build your child up by acknowledging their effort and their opinion. 
"You are working really hard at that."
"You worked really hard at that."
"Why did you get that one right?/How did you do that? You got that problem right? How come?
--- Did you try hard? Are you getting better in that area?"
"To me it's more important what you think. What do you think? It's more important what you think." (We describe what THEY did, and let them do the judging.)
"I noticed you _________."
Helpful resource: Shaping Self-Concept by Jim Fay

Encourage a Growth Mindset
Teach your child that their brain is like a muscle and gets stronger and makes more connections when they use it. Instead of praising and giving all the attention to easy, perfect performance; praise EFFORT and notice perseverance. Help them learn that if they stick with a tough task they can improve, learn, and grow. Here are some simple things you can say to promote a growth mindset.
"We can grow, learn, and improve. We can become more skilled, knowledgeable, and intelligent in any area."
"I want to become better at______so I am going to work at it."
""Oooh. I am definitely working my brain really hard right now."
"Man, this is tough for me, but I am going to keep working at it, so I can get better at it."
"If you work hard and practice, you can learn how to________."
"Oh, man. I made a mistake. I wonder what I could learn from this?"

Model an excitement for learning
Say things like...
"Wow. I learned something really cool this week."
"This sounds really interesting to me. I want to learn more about that."

Help them understand tests/grades/mistakes
Teach your child that it is important to try their best on tests, but teach them what tests and grades are really for. Tests and grades are a way for the teacher to find out what things they know well, and what things they need more practice with. It helps them decide what they need to teach. As they get older test (high school) scores become more important. Grades and tests are not about how SMART or DUMB they are. Everyone learns at different speeds, so it doesn't matter how they compare to their friend. The important part is that they do their best and learn from mistakes.
As parents, when a child brings home a report card, notice the positive first. Then have a conversation about the areas that they are struggle in. To say it in a positive tone, that keeps the responsibility on them you could ask questions like...
Which grade are you most proud of?
Which grade would you like to change?
What do you need to do to get it changed?
What  can I do to help you?

Help the class and the school!
Teachers have a very challenging job. Try to find a way to help support the class or the school where you can. Try to communicate concerns respectfully, be patient, and be grateful for the hard work they do.

Be an advocate for your child!
Be an advocate for you child and encourage the school to adopt policies that are healthy for your child. (Recess, homework limits, discipline approaches...)

Great Resources
Helpful info about how to support your child at each grade level

Sound Steps To Reading
BOB Books
Great Spelling Apps

IXL Math Website
Kahn Acadamy Tutorials

Time For Kids
National Geographic
Story of the World Workbook and CD's


Touch Topics

How do you talk to your kids about


*Be willing to initiate conversations about tough topics.
 *Listen and ask open-ended questions. 
*Find out what THEY think, THEY feel, THEY know, and THEY believe about a tough topic. 
*Tell them what you think about the topic and why.
 *Share some factual information.
*Show respect for your child's point of view, so they will be willing to hear and respect yours.
 *Have many conversations. Don't feel pressured to cover it all at one time. 
*Keep them short and sweet, share a few facts, share your values-"I believe...because", let them share what they think.Discuss dangerous consequences.  
*Work to maintain a healthy relationship with your child. 













Great Quotes

"The challenges of parenthood are daunting, but it's rewards go the the core of what it means to be human... intimacy, growth, learning, and love."
-Carnegie Corporation

“I looked on child-rearing not only as a work of love and duty but as a profession that was fully interesting and challenging as any honorable profession in the world and one that demanded the best that I could bring to it.”
- Rose Kennedy

“There is no greater good in all the world than motherhood. The influence of a mother in the lives of her children is beyond calculation.” -James E. Faust

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
-Margaret Mead

“The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home.”
-Harold B. Lee

“Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.”
-Gordon B. Hinckley

“The most important thing to learn is that there is no way to be a perfect mother/father and a million ways to be a good one.

“A mother who radiates self-love and acceptance actually vaccinates her daughter against low self-esteem.”
-Naomi Wolf

“The way you think about and manage your own body image and weight issues will be communicated to your daughter and impact upon the way she thinks about her own body.”
-Susan Bartell

“As we train a new generation, so will the world be in a few years. If you are worried about the future, then look to the upbringing of your children.”
-Gordon B. Hinckley

"Children need to see that calm words---not yelling or hitting---are the way to solve problems."
-STEP Parenting Handbook

"What is the difference between child abuse and discipline? 10 seconds."

"Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children."
-Charles Swindoll

Parent and Child Caregiver Links

Free Online Parenting Books

Free Online Anger Management Course

Free Online Parenting Course

Free Online Stress Management Course

Relationship Building

Learning Activities for Young Kids

Info for Birth to 3

Medical Info

Family Fun

Social and Emotional Info

Parent/Child Contract