Your phone timer, a kitchen timer, your microwave timer, a teacher timer, even an hourglass can be your friend when you are raising or working with children. Parents need a giant toolbox full of ideas that work. A timer can help in many ways.
By using timers, you create opportunities to provide gentle structures, reminders and games. These occasions allow your children to grow socially. Happy timing = happy parenting!
Did you know that the number one way to help your child with reading is to provide an abundance of experiences for your child? By having outdoor picnics, going to the park, walking around the zoo, or picking apples and pumpkins, you are providing rich vocabulary. Use the vocabulary as you experience it. There is nothing better than picking a ripe apple from the tree and talking about the apple's bright red color or smooth, glossy skin. Explore how sweet, tart, juicy or amazing that apple tastes. There are so many words that kids don’t hear today. By removing some time with electronics, you allow your children to truly experience the real world. There is no better teacher than you, parents. Talk to your kids about the world around them.
Reading to your child is also a great way to create a bond with each other. You are the first and best teacher for your child. When reading with your infant, place him/her on your lap and respond with a smile and a label as they point to pictures, or make sounds. Allow the child to explore the book, spend any amount of time on any page, turn the book all around, or open and close the book. Remember, your child is learning how books work. When they land on a page and point to a picture, you help the child point to and touch objects in the illustration. For example, you might say, “Oh, do you see the brown cow? It is eating the grass. The cow says 'mooo, mooo.'" It takes a while for children to learn that pages turn right to left. As children grow, help them understand how to hold a book, turn the pages, enjoy chants, rhymes and finger plays. As they grow, children will begin to understand that print has meaning and they will decipher the drawings we call letters.
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In this world, everything we want is available at our fingertips with just a click of a button or a quick trip to the store. I know I’m guilty of overindulging in many areas like food, shopping, computer time, video games... the list goes on. Fortunately, today we have the ability to provide our children and ourselves with many things and plenty of food. However, children must be taught moderation in order to grow into responsible adults who are capable of understanding and using self-discipline.
So how do we, as adults, teach moderation to children, especially when we struggle with it, too? There are many opportunities to allow children to use and learn moderation, and we need to make sure to highlight these as they come along.
Moderation can and should be applied in most areas of our lives. Many of us are guilty of overdoing. Coffee is my indulgence and I work daily to remember moderation, moderation, moderation. Talk with your child about reasonable limits and discuss why these limits are important. Discuss how self-control will benefit them now and as they get older.
Lessons learned early can help them build the future of their dreams.
So the holidays are here, and there are only a few more days to get everything completed. You're running to this store, this party, this event, trying to tie up loose ends at work, and you’re barely getting to bed by bedtime. Holidays inch closer and you’re making sure to keep traditions alive. You are creating amazing experiences and memories for your children, but the hustle and bustle is exhausting and it’s starting to wear on you. What do you want your child to remember? Will she remember quality time spent with her parents looking at twinkling lights and drinking hot chocolate, or will she remember rushing through each day and feeling lost in the chaos and stress of the season?
Now slow down and take a breath for just a minute. Think about your child in this scenario. Is your busy schedule throwing off your child's routine? Do you have a daily schedule? If you've ever needed one, now is the time. It will help you and your children make it through the holidays without losing your sanity!
Grab some paper and a pencil (you will probably need to erase and add/subtract tasks a few times) or get on your computer and brainstorm everything that must be done in the next couple of weeks. Now, jot down your schedule day by day. Build in your daily tasks first (your child can help with this). For instance, wake up time, dinner, bath and bedtime should be as consistent as possible at the same time each day. If you read a story before bed, continue to do that and put it in the schedule. Keeping daily tasks consistent helps your child know what's coming and provides a stable, reliable environment. This goes a long way in preventing child temper tantrums (always a good thing!). Fortunately, you can work in your magical holiday events and traditions around these daily tasks by creating time for shopping, baking cookies, crafting, wrapping gifts, and all of the many other things you need to do on your brainstormed list. As an example, see the sample schedule I easily built on a word document.
Now that you have your schedule created, you can finalize it. I would recommend putting it on a poster board and displaying it prominently so that everyone in the house can easily refer to it. When everyone can see it, they can all be on the same page.
Keeping your child as the primary focus will help you filter out other unnecessary time and seasonal fillers that may come up. With your schedule in place, you are on your way to outsmarting holiday stress. It's as easy as pie!
Enjoy the season,
With the holidays quickly approaching, many parents and families are planning to visit relatives for delicious, traditional meals. Other parents will be serving meals at home for family and friends. Either way, children will be interacting with other children and adults during mealtimes and this can be challenging for parents. Being around new friends, cousins, aunts and uncles in a different environment can be exciting for your child, but may create an unstructured situation which can lead to mealtime disaster. (When my boys were young, I’m pretty sure we were not welcome at certain restaurants or friends’ houses during the toddler and preschool years.) While two and three-year-olds have a difficult time sitting and eating meals with adults (that is developmentally normal), it is important to teach children how to sit down and use mealtime manners so that they can develop social etiquette skills as they grow. Not only will these skills be useful in the home, but they will transfer to positive eating behavior at restaurants and the school cafeteria.
So how can you prepare your toddler or preschooler for a relaxing, nourishing meal with their family and friends, while keeping yourself calm and prepared? Set the foundation early for mealtime etiquette and practice each day (not just for the big holiday feast!).
My advice is to begin with “social stories.” Social stories are a quick, simplified way to teach social and emotional manners and feelings to children. I didn’t know about these when my children were young, but they would have been useful in many challenging situations. Social stories have been and are often used to teach autistic children, however, in my educational experience, they are useful for the general population of children as well. A social story takes very little time to create, and can be quickly read and discussed with children. To create a social story, follow these simple steps:
Remember, your child is not an adult and does not understand the adult world of social values yet. They’ve only had a few years to learn and make sense of an overwhelming world. Physically, they have small tummies and require smaller meals more often. They may not be hungry when it is mealtime, which is why they want to play, roam and run. Making him or her sit down during an adult meal can oftentimes become a source of trouble and discontent and will result in a tense meal for his or her parents and family members. It’s important to not use shame or physical punishment to make your child sit down and eat. Mealtime etiquette is a developmental and teachable skill. Keep mealtime positive and repeat social stories to teach your child.
Finally, knowing that toddlers and preschoolers are easily excited and out of a routine during the holidays, it is wise to plan ahead. If your social stories haven’t had time to sink in, then you might feed your toddler or preschooler ahead of time, so that you can enjoy your meal. Hopefully, with time, commitment and patience, your child will develop this important life skill, and you will all be welcomed into restaurants and family and friends’ homes to show off your toddler’s appropriate manners and excellent mealtime etiquette.
For additional social stories information, videos and editable story templates, see the KinderReady Parenting Resources page. These tools can be used to spark creativity so that you can write, discuss and act out personalized stories that relate to your family. Books about mealtime manners are also available at your local bookstore or library. As always, KinderReady is here to help and will happily assist parents and their children with all of their social etiquette needs.
Wishing you a restful and relaxing holiday season!
“What should I do when my child throws a temper tantrum?” This is a question I get all the time from parents. Let me answer by saying that there is a science behind tantrums and most are a normal part of growing up. But, how should parents deal with tantrums? The answer is to prevent them if possible; but, if your child does throw one, try to work through it with the child, rather than mirror the behavior (adults can have tantrums, too!).
First, let’s talk about the causes of tantrums. More often than not, a tantrum is an emotional reaction to a source of frustration. If your child is hungry, thirsty or tired, their frustration level will be elevated. Therefore, a tantrum will be triggered quickly when they are challenged in some way. Both children and adults go through life at a standard level of comfort. When something uncomfortable happens, it can trigger a response of agitation. If the trigger continues to be a source of anxiety, it turns into a crisis for the child. At this point, the child is completely emotional and can’t reason because the child can’t think in a cognitive state. Once the child works through this state, they will regain cognitive function and will start to calm down. This is where the parents can then talk with the child and work through what caused the problem. This cycle happens to adults, too. Think of this analogy as the tantrum cycle: You are digging a hole and halfway down, you run into a rock (your trigger). You get frustrated and end up throwing your shovel across the yard. You are in a full temper tantrum, adult-sized. You can’t think; you are just really angry. After a few minutes go by, you realize anger does not help your situation and you sit down to figure out another way to dig the hole. At this time, you have reached a cognitive state again and can think clearly. Road rage incidents, marital arguments…these are the result of triggers that cause emotional states. Adults can monitor themselves and self-regulate a bit easier than children, however. When your child is challenged and can’t find a solution, a tantrum typically follows. When they are at the peak of anger, it is best to leave them alone. Don’t force them to stop by using angry words or spanking. Remember, the child cannot think clearly during this time. Do not ask questions and do not offer a bribe. Let cooler heads prevail before continuing the conversation.
So now, how do you prevent these often embarrassing tantrums in a store or at home? First, as parents or caregivers, be sure you are providing structure in the household. Do things in the same order at about the same time, and in the same manner. For instance, breakfast is eaten at the table right after getting out of bed. Then, it’s time to brush teeth before getting dressed. Children like routines and predictability. If the schedule is off, they feel agitated. Another way to prevent a tantrum is to pay attention to the trigger or agitation once it begins. If you see the child is getting frustrated because they can’t move their toy truck, quietly help them move it. Additionally, to prevent agitation, give the child choices. If you are in the store and the child wants a toy, offer the child a choice of something you are already going to buy as a distraction. This provides the child a voice in the day’s decisions. Ask, “Do you want blue toothpaste or red toothpaste today?” Because the child is in a cognitive state, redirection and conversation can help avoid the dreaded in-store tantrum.
Now, if conversation and redirection fails and your child continues to push for the toy, you have a couple of options. You may say, “We are not buying a toy today.” If your child does not throw a tantrum, be sure to praise their good behavior and move on. However, if a tantrum ensues, do not give the child any more attention. Do not make eye contact or acknowledge the fit. Even though you may feel embarrassed, let the child work through the tantrum. If this is too difficult, your other option is to leave the store. This is very hard to do since you really need to complete your shopping, but unfortunately, it must be done. If you do this effectively, it will not take more than a few times for your child to realize that tantrums do not work to get what they want. Remember, you are the parent and you control the power struggle. Make one statement and then close the subject. My pediatrician used the phrase, “The subject is closed.” So, I would tell my children, “No, you can’t have the toy and the subject is closed.” Yes, we had a few tantrums along the way, but it didn’t take long until we were enjoying pleasant shopping trips without endless “I wants.”
Tantrums are tough, but you can do this. Just remember, you are the parent and you can remain calm, even in the face of temper tantrums.
Owner and Academic Coach, KinderReady
So, being a mom was never easy, but it was the only thing I wanted to be when I was growing up. I’m Sandy Peart, the owner of KinderReady! Who knew that my love of children would turn into a lifetime career. While my classmates were dreaming of their future job and careers, I was dreaming of having my own children and how to help them become contributing members of society. I married my husband, Rodger, right out of high school. Daniel was born 3 years later and my dream came true, along with many challenges, stages, tears, laughs and quick learning...LOTS of learning. Raising children was much harder than I thought it was. Blogs didn’t exist when I was raising my children, but we had Dr. Spock. And no, this Dr. Spock was not the logical Star Trek character, but was the well-known child development guru of the 80’s. Without him, my kids would have been on their own.
During the time our two boys, Daniel and Wesley, were growing up, I began running a home daycare. Then I decided I wanted to know more about children, so I began taking night classes. Before I knew it, I had a bachelor’s degree from Texas Christian University in the Education of Young Children. I began teaching at an elementary school where I loved being a lifelong learner and continued my education and learning about the development of young children. After teaching 3rd grade and 4th grade, I earned a master’s degree in educational administration and served as Curriculum Coordinator for 3 years and Assistant Principal for 7 years. Daniel, my oldest son, has earned two bachelor’s degrees, a master’s degree, and is currently pursuing his doctorate. My youngest son, Wesley, also earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. His wife, Tiffany, also holds a bachelor’s degree. As you can see, education is a family affair. While all of this was going on, my wonderful husband was a constant source of support to our boys and to me. He was the calm in our chaos.
About a year ago, I made the decision to leave public school and wanted to pursue my own interest in early childhood education which evolved into KinderReady, LLC. Using my knowledge and passion for children, we are able to facilitate learning in toddlers and preschoolers to make sure they are ready for kindergarten and the rigorous Texas curriculum.
I’m eager to share my experiences with you, but am even more excited to interact and learn from you. Follow my KinderReady Parenting Blog for parenting tips, strategies, advice and more!
Owner and Academic Coach, KinderReady
KinderReady Parenting Blog
Educational success starts at home. KinderReady supports both parents and their children as they prepare for the exciting and challenging road ahead. Parents, check back here for information that will help you support your child's development. KinderReady is here to help!