Lite 98, 3.13.12
Liz Pearce, Director of Parent Engagement
Children’s Museum of Richmond
I’m one of the lucky moms who has been both a stay-at-home parent and a gainfully employed parent. When the debate comes up about which lifestyle is better for parenting, you won’t find an easy answer from me. In my opinion, each lifestyle has pros and cons, of course, and are fairly equal in terms of workload and responsibility.
My philosophy is that we are all “working parents” whether we are compensated with a paycheck or not – our “product” is an adult, ready for society.
So why are many parents wracked with guilt? Ask an insomniac parent what keeps the brain churning in the wee hours of the night, and you’ll likely hear that it relates to all the “Un-Done” tasks of the day. We worry that they aren’t getting enough sleep, we haven’t given them nutritious meals, we aren’t pushing them to study hard enough, we are pushing them to study too hard, we should give them a better home life, etc. We run through our litany of “If Only” statements, and come up feeling guilty. The To-Do list never ends. Here are a few tips for letting go of the guilt:
· Ellen Galinsky, author of Ask the Children: What America’s Parents Really Think About Working Parents, (2001)suggests that instead of seeking balance, we should consider the notion of navigating the world of work and family. She found that “many parents didn't like the notion of "balance." It sounded to them as if they had arrived at a perfect state, a state where work and family were equal.” She notes that “With navigating, there can be good weather and stormy weather, just like parenting.”
· Write down what you feel guilty about, and make a plan to move past it. Feel guilty that you aren’t working hard enough to buy a bigger house? Set a realistic goal, and in the meantime, make the space you live in work better for you.
· Write down the things you can control. Guilt can be amplified by feeling overwhelmed, and we feel overwhelmed when we feel we have no control. Writing it out can be a visual reminder of to gain perspective.
· Know that children will remember more of the small everyday moments than the big special events that we stress over so much. A bedtime routine, eating breakfast together, going to the park on the weekends – these are what kids remember 20 years from now.
· Avoid people who encourage the guilty feelings, and surround yourself with more positive colleagues or friends.
· Believe in the choice you have made. "You know yourself and your family better than anyone and know what decision is right for you. Don't take the judgment of others as the truth. Instead, tell them your reasons and ask them to support you."
As a general rule of thumb, I think we can all support each other more on our parenting journey.
Liz Pearce, Director of Parent Engagement
Children’s Museum of Richmond
As we know, babies, toddlers and preschoolers need active time balanced with quiet activities. If you can’t go outside, you’ll need to have a selection of activities at hand that are educational and fun. Right now, in and around your home, you can strengthen critical thinking skills, boost creativity, strengthen gross motor skills, fine tune fine motor skills and improve literacy. Without much effort, you can increase their language skills, science exploration, and healthy movement. Grab a bowl, and start jotting down ideas on scraps of paper. Put them in the bowl whenever you think of them, and when a cold day comes, you’ll be glad to have 5 or 10 ideas within reach. Here’s a few to get you started:
Cold, Colder, Coldest – Hunt for items around the house that are cool or cold, such as grapes from the refrigerator, ice cubes, a cup of cold water, or some rocks from outside. Arrange them from cold to coldest, and use descriptive words – like “freezing”, “icy” or “chilly”. This game is a literacy builder, by using descriptive words, and a math concepts booster, with comparisons and sorting.
Ice Play – A toddler is ready to play with ice cubes on her high chair tray, and she will enjoy playing with shaved ice or chopped bits of ice in a shallow pan. Add spoons, cups and ice cream scoopers for measuring and dumping. Eye-hand coordination and fine motor control are happening during this type of play. Early math concepts of size, amount, shapes can also be learned here.
Recess – Push the furniture against the walls, and clear a space somewhere in your house, basement or garage where children can dance, move and play. If you have a safe, uncluttered area in your basement or garage, allow kids to wheel around on their scooters or roller blades (protective equipment still needed!). Your child will be strengthening gross motor skills, such as rolling, grabbing or reaching, and using their imagination which boosts resourcefulness.
Build an indoor fort, or better yet, create a tunnel for your toddler to crawl through. Pretend your exploring a cave and play hide-and-seek with stuffed animals. Beyond the creative outlet, your child will be setting up an environment that allows her to set the amount of risk and stress she is ready for. Early math and science concepts can be observed, such as determining what size blanket will cover the fort, and comparing the amount of space a that child occupies in the fort with an adult’s space needs.
Freeze Play – Similar to Freeze Tag, but without the chasing, children start dancing or jumping or moving, until the leader calls “Freeze!” This will teach self-regulation skills such as self-control, waiting, and impulse control. Add music to keep the energy level high, and take turns being the leader.
Wear layers and Avoid Tight Clothing
Tight clothing, contrary to popular belief, does not keep you warmer. Tight clothing actually inhibits circulation so the body will not warm itself as efficiently. In addition, there is less chance for warm air to be trapped in the clothing for insulation.
(Information gathered from “Zero to Three National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families” and the SixtySecondParent.com)
Why is Literacy so important and when is Read Across America Day? Read Across America Day is being celebrated on March 1st in most schools, and March 2nd at various community locations. (You can visit The Children’s Museum of Richmond to meet the Cat in The Hat this Saturday!) Reading is a critical skill we all need to function as independently as we can. Reading is not only a method of taking in information, but also builds self-esteem and boosts creativity. Watching TV and videos is a passive way of gathering information, while reading is an active method that stimulates more brain activity. Remember, your brain is a muscle and it must be exercised with challenging tasks like reading.
In addition, early literacy skills have a direct correlation on future behavior. While young children are listening to a story, they are learning to be able to remember the content of spoken language for a short time. Why is this important? Because one day soon, they will need to listen to and remember multi-step instructions from their teacher (clean-up your table, put your materials away, and stand in line for lunch) or from their future boss (create an excel spreadsheet, merge these two documents and email it to the entire staff).
When reading happens between parent and child, the impact can be even greater. The bond formed between parents and children can enhance creativity. A story leads to a dozen of eager questions asked, which show that the child's mind is racing ahead of the verbal drama unfolding in front of his/her imagination.
Parent and child bonding is essential to each and every child, and reading with your child is a simple way to establish a strong and nurturing parent and child bond.
Did you know children absolutely adore stories about animals? Here’s why: according to teachers, it’s “because they can cut loose from all limitations and rules of their own civilized lives and from the control of their parents. They dream of running free in a forest, living in a hollow tree, flying with the birds and creatures who don't scold or make you wash your hands before each meal.”
But what if your child doesn’t like to read? Take what you can get, even if it’s 5 minutes. Then consider this:
As your child grows, story time can become a bonding, connected time that your child can count on. The emotional security that can grow from taking the time to sit down and read together is truly priceless. It lets your child know first that she’s important to you and second, that reading and learning are fun.
http://www.wisedude.com/expert_advice/reading_children.htm - Lots of interesting info
http://www.readingfoundation.org/parents/toddler.jsp - Great tips and list of books for toddlers
http://www.readingfoundation.org/parents/schoolage.jsp - Full of great information
Talking with your Teen
Advice from Real Teens
When NOT to start a conversation? In front of their friends - Don’t badger them, or ask them several questions at once - Listen to the answer. Put down your cell phone, laptop or Ipad and listen. - Try not to freak out when you hear an answer that may not agree with you. Give them a chance to explain. - Avoid the following “Door Slammers”
· "You are too young to understand."
· "If you say that again, I'll..."
· "That's none of your business."
· "I don't care what your friends are doing!"
· "We'll talk about that when you need to know."
· "Don't come to me if you mess up."
Some experts suggest limiting your conversations with a teen to 10 minutes or less – 6 or 7 minutes is even better. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t get your point across. It takes some adjusting, but you can do it.
Your one-hour conversation has now become 7 or 8 mini-conversations, each lasting about 7 minutes. You may begin it after you’ve picked them up from school and are in the car, and she responds with a few comments BEFORE she puts on her headphones. After arriving at your destination, you might make another comment to broaden the context. Then at your next meeting, you can bring up the conversation, as if no time has passed from one day to the next.
At the end of each mini-conversation, you may find that a teen’s mind starts wandering off, which signals a resting place for the conversation, which is different from the end of the conversation.
It’s okay, and even optimal, to leave the conversation with a particular question unanswered. Such as, “How do you think you will handle that”? Or, “Do you have a general idea about what’s going to take place?” His inner dialogue is working overtime to sort multiple things out at once, and by leaving a teen with a question at the end, they will be better able to articulate themselves when the conversation is picked up again.
Be aware of cues, and avoid nagging or badgering a teen. Practice active listening by giving your full attention to the speaker, and refraining from giving advice, disagreeing or judging.
The best part about this method is that you are supporting the teen, but not taking over their troubles. They don’t want you to do that, and trust me, you don’t really want to be a teenager again, do YOU?? Besides, if you take on their troubles, it will be that much longer before they are able to become a fully functioning adult and take on their own troubles.
Remember, a teen’s moodiness and inconsistency has very little to do with you! It is normal, it is a process, and you will both come out better on the other side if you allow them to move through it at their own pace. NOTE: Be sure to model respect and civility as often as possible, and continue to stand firm regarding how a teen treats you and those around you, as well as how others treat the teen.
Take your time – adolescence lasts for a long time, so there Is no rush to get in every point you want to make in every conversation.
Lite98 Parent Talk
Did ya hear about the 11 year old who faked his own kidnapping to avoid bringing home a bad report card? OR how about the teacher who wrote this comment on a report card… “Since my last report, your child has hit rock bottom and started to dig.” Remember … it could be worse. It’s a report card, not a death sentence.
Don’t Panic! Give yourself time to react and respond. Breathe. Take 10 minutes, an hour or even more. Consider what your goal is for your child. Do you wish to have an honest child? Or do you wish to have a “successful by any means” child? Your response may influence how the child views him or herself, and his or her ability.
Take a look at your own expectations. Is your child truly capable of making all A’s? Remember that children have many natural gifts, and not all gifts will be academic in nature. Your child most likely has strengths AND weaknesses, just like you. Make sure you aren’t placing your own desired strengths upon your child.
Start a discussion, but end the discussion if it becomes a lecture. As the parent, you have the opportunity to assist your child in bringing up bad grades. A discussion with your child is a two-way conversation, in which the child and parent uncover the reason together for the faltering grades, and agree on a plan of action.
Offer a path forward. The wise parent will offer choices to the child, but the choices will be “parent-approved” , i.e. “It looks like the amount of after-school activities you have are cutting into homework time. Two activities have to go – which two are you going to put off until your grades come back up?”
Try to align consequences with the problem at hand. It’s easy to let our emotions rule our brains when we feel disappointed or anxious. Will this bad report card impact our child’s chance for college? Most likely, the answer is no. Will this bad report card impact our child’s first choice of college? Maybe, Maybe not. Talk to your child’s teacher to get an accurate picture of how important this particular report card is.
Don’t hold a grudge, and don’t expect every report card to be bad. If the bad report card is not a chronic issue, then treat it as a temporary setback. Remember, mistakes children make while they are young are EXCELLENT opportunities for learning a lesson.
Lastly, remind your child that bringing up poor grades is not impossible, but it is sometimes unpleasant, and that you believe in your child and his ability to overcome this setback. Fixing one’s own mistakes creates confidence and a strong sense of self.
Remember: Resilience is the ability to bounce back after a mistake, and a child can’t learn how to be resilient if they never make any mistakes to begin with.
Lite98 Parent Talk
Liz Pearce, M. Ed.
So many times, we see our children’s troublesome behaviors as a general picture of who they are. Even though we don’t mean to, we label them in our minds. Oh, he’s always got his head in the clouds – he never pays attention. Or, She’s so chatty and always getting in trouble with her teachers. It’s all too easy to fall into that trap, because we want the best for them, and we want them to succeed. If there are stumbling blocks along the way, we want to remove them – and sometimes we see our children’s behavior as a stumbling block to success.
Consider this: people are often shaped by the obstacles they overcome - such as a learning disability - more than by inherent talent, intelligence, luck or money. And as for school, don’t forget Tom Edison was thrown out of public school, and Albert Einstein was lousy in Math class.
Every now and then, it’s a good idea to step back and recognize the positive qualities our children have. We need to recognize the “good stuff” and let them know that we see that too. By “good stuff”, I don’t mean achievements such as grades, trophies or awards. I’m talking about the qualities we want them to have as adults, such as honesty, perseverance, creativity, loyalty, determination, thoughtfulness, resourcefulness.
Emily did poorly in English last semester, but she plays the piano well and scores high in math. Jeanine needs tutoring in science, but she writes funny stories. Fifteen-month-old Billy doesn't talk much, but he feeds himself.
The behaviors listed above show creativity, resourcefulness, adaptability, and perseverance. In 1983, Dr. Howard Gardner created a theory of Multiple intelligences. He theorized that people can be smart in a number of ways and came up with a list of eight recognized intelligences. Some of these are Interpersonal, Linguistic, Naturalistic, Kinesthetic, and there are four others. Dr. Gardner points out that a person can excel in two or possibly three, but can’t excel at all 8 intelligences. (See the link below to more information about Multiple Intelligences)
How do you uncover your child’s multiple intelligences?
· Play with your children on a regular basis. It makes them feel very special. Play may include throwing ball, making a mud pies with them or even a walk in the nearby park. Resist intervening and let them play with the puzzles or the blocks in any way they prefer.
· Ask your kids what they want to be, what their dreams are. If they want to become a doctor encourage them to pursue study and practice in that area.
· Validate your child’s interests - Instead of criticizing your child's skills, validate them by saying, "Wow, I noticed you like playing games -- and you're really good at it!"
· Follow your child's lead. Support the choices your child makes, even if they are not the ones you'd expected.
· Don't over-program your child's time or over-structure activities. Let your child develop his or her own creative energy.
Remember: Whether your child loves or hates the activity you want him to do, it's not a reflection on you. In fact, it's not about you at all. Remember to put aside your own interests, prejudices and preconceptions. Give them the courage to see their own gifts and talents, and boost their confidence by telling them you see it too.
Every human being has a gift—usually more than one, experts say. But it takes courage to see it and confidence to play it out. That's why we need to help our children see their gifts and to believe in them—and in themselves.
Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple
“If you give kids so much early on, they get to a point where they can’t be satisfied with anything,” says Dan Kindlon, Ph D., clinical and research psychologist at Harvard University and author of Too Much of a Good Thing: Raising Children of Character in an Indulgent Age.
How do you know if your kids are spoiled?
· Every time they talk to you, they are whining.
· No one else does chores in the house, but you.
· When YOU are solving their problems, and it becomes more important than solving your own problems.
· YOU are doing THEIR homework.
· YOUR plans for Saturday night can be changed at a moment’s notice by THEIR plans for Saturday night.
· When they get in trouble, it’s everyone else’s fault.
It’s a slippery slope that we can unwittingly slide down …
A spoiled child is a child who takes no initiative to solve his or her own problems, and absolutely depends on others to make him feel good. This outlook on life is pretty dismal. By spoiling children, a parent is setting a child up for a life of disappointment.
Here’s what to do:
There will always be a lot of pressure on parents to protect their children, and protection is one of our roles as parents. An equally important job of parents is to prepare our children for the real world, and if we spoil them, we aren’t preparing them.
You can do this – I know you can!
If you think about it, adults have a lot of competition from video screens. Consider this: How many times have you spoken to your child lately and had to remind him or her to look away from the screen and look at you? Come to think of it, have you counted the number of video screens in your house? TV screens, computer screens, smartphone screens, IPod screens, tablet screens and so forth consume our environment these days. They are even on the microwave and washing machine, too! We walk around with our eyes focused on these small rectangles giving us information 24/7.
First, we know that ALL screens aren’t bad. Children who watch educational programming are learning, and adults need screens to keep us informed about the latest news. Middleschoolers and teens use computers to research and write papers. There are lots of great video games that provide entertainment and stress relief. But here’s the trouble:
Ø Many violent acts [on screen] are perpetrated by the "good guys," whom kids have been taught to admire. Even though kids are taught by their parents that it's not right to hit, television says it's OK to bite, hit, or kick if you're the good guy. This can lead to confusion when kids try to understand the difference between right and wrong. And the "bad guys" on TV aren't always held responsible or punished for their actions.
Ø Educational programming may not be harmful, but it isn’t likely to make your child that much smarter. In fact, in 2009, the Walt Disney Company began offering refunds for Baby Einstein products based on evidence that the products weren't educational. Some educational videos over-promise what they can deliver, and finding quality educational videos can be tricky.
Ø Elevated screen time suppresses the release of melatonin, which can affect healthy growth. Did you know that “healthy levels of melatonin help regulate sleep, the immune system and the onset of puberty”? A recent study in Great Britain found that “when children who watched an average amount of TV had all screen time removed, their melatonin levels went up by 30 percent after one week.”
Here’s what to do:
Remember: You have the power when it comes to electronics and screens.
You pay the bills!
Teletubbies is as bad for your child as a violent video game, says leading psychologisthttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1311139/Teletubbiesbad-child-violent-video-games.html
Media Tips for Babies and Toddlers, http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/media-tips-babies-and-toddlers
How TV Affects Your Child, http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/family/tv_affects_child.html#
Maximize your parenting on Halloween!
Enjoy the holiday, and have a wonderful Halloween!