Archives for November 2012

Self-Soothing, It’s Good for Parents Too (Part 2)

Today’s blog post is submitted by our featured guest contributor, Esther Schiedel.  We hope you enjoy the post and look forward to part 2 of this post from Esther.

Children get upset.

It takes experience and maturity to realize that Dad will be back at suppertime or that that really wanting a cookie does not create cookies in the cupboard (adults tend to get upset by that harsh fact as well). Children also get mad. So many things they want to do are out of their control. Children usually let their parents (and sometimes the whole neighborhood) know that they are upset and angry. How can you stay calm or calm down when your child is upset—without adding to your child’s distress? The first thing is to accept that strong emotions are part of life. It’s okay that your child gets upset at times. It does not mean that you are a bad parent. It does not mean your child is a spoiled brat. It often helps to acknowledge the emotion and identify it. Tentative identification is best—“wow, you sound really angry.” Say it with meaning and respect. Dismissing your child’s reaction (“it’s nothing to get upset about”) or completely ignoring it can upset your child further. Remain available and empathetic. If no one is getting hurt or unduly disturbed by the noise you may want let the storm rage. A dramatic (but safe) release of energy can actually aid everyone. If you were raised in an environment where any strong emotion was repressed or expressed in dangerous and hurtful ways you may benefit from some professional help to learn and be comfortable with safe ways to express emotion. It’s disturbing when your child is upset. Frequently, you are the cause of the upset. You said “No,” or “It’s bedtime.” You stopped your toddler from sticking a key into an electrical outlet. Nobody likes being yelled at—especially not for doing the right thing! Here you are being a loving, responsible parent—and your child does not appreciate it! Getting yelled at for our responsible parental actions can lead us into irresponsible behavior—we may become unduly harsh with the child or we may back off and allow the child to go on misbehaving. Both are completely understandable but not advisable. Full disclosure: yes, I have done both, and the results were not pretty.

How can you respond?

  1. Give yourself empathy—silently or out loud. “Wow, it hurts to be yelled at for trying to protect you.”
  2. Remember you are the adult and the parent in the situation. This is part of the job. Helpful phrases from author Mary Sheedy Kurcinka include: “I do not fear your anger.” “I will help you follow the rule.”
  3. Let your child know that feelings are acceptable but that actions may not be. “You are angry with your sister. It is NOT okay to hit her.”
  4. Offer an acceptable action: “You may punch the couch cushion.”

Esther Schiedel is parent to three adults, grandparent to two boys, and a Certified Family Life Educator. She provides parenting education through classes and workshops through LBCC and through her business, Sharing Strengths. She became interested in parenting education when she became a parent and had a need for more information and support.

 

The Road to Success

What is the thing that we want most for our children? It sounds like a big question, but the answer most parents agree with is pretty simple. Success.

Success can be defined broadly or specifically.  We want our children to succeed at sports. We want our children to succeed in math. We want our children to succeed in school. We want our children to succeed in college. We want our children to succeed in their chosen professions. We want our children to experience successful interpersonal relationships. We want our children to succeed in raising their very own happy, healthy families. Generally, we want our children to succeed in life, however we define that.

Well, lucky for us, we are living at a time when there is a lot of research being done to help parents understand what we can do, especially during the early years of development, to help our children succeed in life. In her article titled, The Skill that Will Help Your Child Get into College, OSU child development expert, Megan McClelland explains that, “Those early years make up a critical period when a young child is learning essential skills such as how to interact well with others, follow directions, and follow through on a task. These skills may be more even more important for long-term educational attainment than the ability to add and subtract.” She goes on to explain how her research shows that a child’s “ability to pay attention, focus, and persist on a task at age four increased the odds of [the child] completing college by age 25 by nearly 50 percent” and what parents can do to encourage development in these areas from a very young age. Some of the activities she suggests include: playing games such as Red-Light-Green-Light, Simon Says, and dancing. Many of the games that we remember fondly from our own childhood provide wonderful opportunities to develop the skills that McClelland identifies in her research. Additionally, as I have mentioned in previous blogs, the time we spend playing with our children gives us opportunities to bond and build fond memories with them.

For more details about helping your child develop the skills for success check out the link to McClelland’s article mentioned above.

 

Playing Make-Believe: Real World Preparation

Today’s blog post is submitted by our featured guest contributor, Rachel Taylor, M.S.  Enjoy the post and look forward to future posts from Rachel.

“No playing until you’ve done all of your homework!”  A fairly common phrase and one that we’ve probably used frequently as parents.  However, research suggests that imaginative play actually increases a child’s ability to be successful academically.

A study was conducted that showed children of parents or caregivers who participated in imaginative play made significant gains in the readiness skills for school as compared to those parents or caregivers who did not encourage or participate in this type of play.  A significant percentage of American children enter kindergarten unprepared.  Imaginative play is just one way that parents and caregivers can help children become more prepared for both school and social interactions, while having fun with their kids. 

If you are interested in learning more, researchers developed a video titled “Learning Through Play For School Readiness,” which educates parents and caregivers on how to engage 3-5 year olds in imaginative games that encourage key developmental skills and an advanced vocabulary.  

Rachel Taylor is a Marriage and Family Counselor in private practice in Corvallis.  She provides parenting education as well as child, family, individual and couples counseling services.

 

Family Matters Fall 2012

Check out the latest issue of Family Matters, a great resource for parents and families in Linn and Benton Counties. Brought to you by LBCC’s Family Connections.

 

In this issue:

*tips for encouraging growth in your career and your personal life

*tips for coping with childhood tantrums

*tips for encouraging your own creativity and taking care of your brain

Peek-A-Boo

Now you see me, now you don’t. Peek-A-Boo, I see you.

The games we play with our babies are fun for baby and adult alike. They promote bonding and feelings of contentment and belonging. But many of the “baby games” we play serve educational purposes as well. Peek-a-boo, for example begins to give babies experience with object permanence, or the knowledge that an object is still there even when it is covered up or hidden behind something. This understanding develops over time with repeated exposure to experiences that reinforce this concept. Many of the games we remember from our own childhood are equally as educational and oftentimes they are also simple and fun. So why not have some fun while reinforcing basic concepts with your baby? Plus its fun to watch their faces as we “disappear and reappear” behind our hands. For more tips and ideas for playing learning games with your baby, check put the tip sheet titled Easy Learning Games to Play with Your Baby by Shari Steelsmith. This archived tip sheet is brought to you by ParentingPress.com.

What games have you played with your baby lately?

Self-Soothing, It’s Good for Parents Too (Part 1)

Today’s blog post is submitted by our featured guest contributor, Esther Schiedel.  We hope you enjoy the post and look forward to part 2 of this post from Esther.

I got upset the other day and it took me a while to calm down.

Now I am a middle-aged grandmother. I have experienced some bad times in my life, compared to those, the incident that upset me was trivial. Nevertheless, it took me a while to calm down.

Children get upset a lot. They tend to express their grief, anger, hurt, and/or frustration with loud vocalizations and violent actions. Loud noises—crying, screaming, whining–are stressful for most adults to listen to. Violent actions—thrashing about, hitting, biting, throwing things–can be dangerous to self, others, and property. Helping your child to deal with grief, anger, hurt, and/or frustration in ways that don’t unduly annoy or hurt others is an important part of your job as a parent. The problem is that you are very likely to be upset (or to get upset) when your child is upset. Not to mention that you, as a human being, get upset yourself for reasons unrelated to being a parent. Learning (and practicing) healthy ways to calm down is a lifelong endeavor. Fortunately, when you calm yourself down you model that process, thus making it easier for your child to learn ways to calm down as well. Note that there is a difference between shutting up and calming down. Shutting up is a valuable skill—particularly in social situations—but it doesn’t give the benefits of actually calming down. Shutting up is like putting out the flames of a fire but leaving the coals still glowing—ready to flare up at any time. Calming down includes dousing the coals and making sure they are all out. Once you are calm, you can access your thinking brain and, if necessary, problem-solve any underlying issues or strategize ways to prevent future occurrences. But first you need to calm down.

What helps parents to calm down? Here are some ideas for when you are the one who is upset.

Breathing: If you learned any breathing techniques for coping with labor, even if you never used them then, they can work well for you now.

Movement: channel the adrenaline in your system by pacing, walking, throwing things that don’t break, working, etc.

Empathy or validation of your feelings—silently or out loud: focus your attention on yourself and what is happening in your body and mind. Tell your body you are listening to it.

Positive self talk—silently or out loud: “This is a challenging situation but I can handle it.”

Drink water, eat nutritious food: dehydration and low blood sugar contribute to being upset.

Provide a place to make noise—the classic going into the bathroom and screaming: If it is safe to do so AND your child is not upset, excuse yourself—stating that you are upset and need to go outside or be alone for a moment. Simply changing the setting can be calming as well.

What helps you to calm down?

Next time (Self-Soothing Part 2): Calming yourself down when your child is upset.

Esther Schiedel is parent to three adults, grandparent to two boys, and a Certified Family Life Educator. She provides parenting education through classes and workshops through LBCC and through her business, Sharing Strengths. She became interested in parenting education when she became a parent and had a need for more information and support.

Talking to the Teacher

It’s fall conference time and I have so much to tell my children’s teachers.

My daughter is so smart. She loves to read, she is a really gifted writer. All she needs is the right teacher to encourage that in her. She is motivated to learn but gets anxious when her learning goals and objectives are unclear. She is energetic, inquisitive, fun-loving and generally a happy child. Did I mention how smart she is?

My son is so smart. He is good in math. He is creative. He loves to play outside. He likes to collect interesting objects discarded by others. He is inquisitive, energetic, insightful, playful and generally loves life. Did I mention how smart he is?

My daughter is so smart. She knows all of her letters and letter sounds, she can write her name, and cut a circle. She wants to learn so badly and loves when people read books to her. She loves animals and nature and will play outside until the sun goes down. Did I mention how smart she is?

So you probably get the picture. As parents, we have a lot to say about our children to their teachers. And it is likely that teachers have a lot to tell us about our children.

Fall conference time is a good time for both parents and teachers to share things about the children they have in common. However, most conferences are between 20 and 30 minutes long so both parents and teachers have to be strategic about what conversation pieces they bring to the table. Teachers spend a lot of time preparing for conferences. There are things that parents can do to prepare for conferences as well.

Check out this tip sheet for a list and description of some of the things parents can do to prepare for parent-teacher conferences. And remember that the relationship that you build with your child’s teacher will enhance your child’s experience at school and set the stage for a year or success and academic growth.