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Posted by on in What If?

When children are little, they worry, but may not understand why. There may be no logical evidence to support it, but it is real to them, nonetheless. It is real enough to provoke a real nervous system response. Worry is anxiety.

It sometimes surfaces with a barrage of questions that seem to come out of nowhere. I remember one evening when my 5-year-old son started asking, “What if the chickens didn’t want to give their feathers away for people’s pillows?” “What if they get really cold because they have no more feathers?” “What if they come looking for their feathers and want them back?” “What if they’re really, really mad?” He had certainly worked up a good deal of anxiety about this. The next morning, when I came out of my bedroom, I saw his pillow on the floor, outside his door.

pillow

Our first response to something like this is always reassurance, followed by trying to invoke logic. When this doesn’t work (it seldom does), we become frustrated and give the child the message (through words and body language) they’re being silly and need to move on.

Let’s think of some of the knee-jerk comments we make to children who are anxious.

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Posted by on in What If?

A nearby community has a wonderful, play-based preschool cooperative. Several of the teachers are my former students and I was invited to attend their monthly meetings whenever I could… joining in conversations with staff and families about child development, preschool, parenting… life.

I’ve been to 4 of these sessions and so far, it’s been interesting to hear the kinds of things that concern both preschool teachers and parents.

Last Monday night, a mother told us about her oldest son, who was now in his second month of Kindergarten, having just turned 5 the day before he started. She said that although he had attended preschool three days a week prior, her son was having a difficult time transitioning to what the public school system was dishing out… moving into 5 full days a week, 8 hours a day. Besides the number and length of his days, it was also the intensity. He had to be fully engaged in academics the entire time, even during lunch. There was no “pause button” to his day. This was having a noticeable impact on him, both physically and emotionally. When he got home, she explained, she’d find him sprawled on the floor, exhausted. Being overtired wreaked havoc on his emotions and the emotional climate of their home. He was cranky and whiny, and often just started crying.

child misbehaving discipline 3

This mom was searching for some answers or any kind of help to smooth her son’s way into dealing with his daily school routine.

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Posted by on in What If?

Probably one of the best predictors of a child’s success in life is strong self-confidence and self-esteem. They will set high goals for themselves and believe they can achieve anything they set their minds to. This is an outcome we all want for our children, but for some, it may not come so easy. High self-esteem is acquired and is not genetic. It is built a little at a time through their relationships with adults and other children. Life environments vary and support for self-worth and confidence does, too. Children living with trauma, for example, can be devoid of any support at all. A child who lacks confidence and a positive self-image may need an extra boost… or two or three. We can be intentional in providing support as we go through the day.

responsibilities

1. Give her some responsibilities and expect follow through. When a job is completed successfully, she will feel more confident and happy with herself. She will also have some good practice with her problem-solving skills. Our responsibility in all of this is to lavish encouragement and always praise her for doing such a good job.

2. Let her make her own decisions. Provide age-appropriate choices whenever possible. These can be simple- like choosing between putting away the dishes or the dolls at clean-up time. Allowing her to decide something for herself strengthens her confidence and sets the foundation for the times she’ll need to make more complex choices in the future.

3. Make sure the goals you set are realistic. Decide along with the child what the goals will be and ensure they are achievable. Confidence in herself will only be built if she can reach them.

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Posted by on in What If?

mister rogers

Most of us watched Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood at one time or another- along with our children or as children ourselves. So, we felt his impact and influence, either directly or indirectly.

After watching the recent documentary about Fred Rogers, I was reminded of what genuinely matters and how the lessons he so sensitively taught children are just as meaningful for those who teach them.

adult learner blog

1. Always be a learner. Lifelong learning is our calling. We can never afford to get stale or static, because our work revolves around children who are neither. They are ever-changing, developing, growing… and learning.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

I typically do most of my shopping at a discount grocery chain downtown and then stop at my neighborhood store for the few items they don’t carry. This practice is rewarding for two reasons. First, I usually save quite a bit on groceries and second, I’ve found it interesting to observe the food choices made by a variety of families. We always hear about food deserts and unavailability or the high expense of healthy food choices, which inevitably affect the growth and development of young children. My informal research has definitely been eye-opening.

I wondered if today was any different from a few decades ago, when we were a young family living in Chicago with limited resources. My husband was finishing grad school. We were both working part time and had three small children. We had a tight budget, to say the least. I remember a friend and I trading ideas for dividing a small beef roast or pound of ground beef to make several meals. I only had so much money to spend on my weekly grocery trip, but my first stop was always for fresh produce, dairy, and meat. I rarely bought canned goods and never any soda, candy, or snacks. I baked, gardened, froze, and preserved. My children learned to do these things, because we did them together.

dad cook

Yesterday, as I waited to check out at the discount store, I noticed the family in front of me. Both mom and dad were obese and probably not older than 24 or 25. The two young preschool children in the cart seat were well on their way to following that path. They were munching on an opened bag of double-stuffed, generic sandwich cookies and shared a can of red soda.

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