Listening to your Children

listening“Are you listening to me”?

Since I returned to Chicago two weeks ago it has been frigid, with a mixture of snow and ice…

I cannot remember when the cold has been this bad for so long…it seems like many years since I made sure I had a blanket and supplies in my car just in case it was needed!

At least, I no longer have a diesel engine car which would freeze and just refuse to go anywhere in the cold.

During the past few weeks, I have taken a hiatus. With all the cold I was beginning to think my brain has frozen along with my keyboard…

A few days ago, I came across an important piece about active listening

There just doesn’t seem to be anything more important than actually listening to our children and grandchildren to help them develop empathy, feel validated and remain willing to talk to us.

As a social worker and nurse, listening skills were paramount while caring for others… listening both with my ears and my eyes. Body language can also tell you how a person really feels and whether their words are contradicted by their bodies.

When I was growing up in the 50′s…there was a mantra…”children should be seen and not heard”.

I was never quite sure what was actually meant by this statement. What I do know, is that as the youngest member of my family, I always made myself known.

Over the years, it seems this saying has disappeared and to that I would say, “good riddance”!

Children speak to us in so many ways…through solo play with their toys, through our interactions with them, through body language and through behavior such as crying and tantrums.

Listening to your child with your undivided attention can derail a tantrum…really!

Making sure you understand what he is trying to tell you with his actions and his words is a very powerful tool…it actually shows your child that you care about how he is feeling.

I know, I feel so appreciative of someone, who really listens to me and is not trying to formulate a response while I am talking.

Children appreciate real listening as well and will continue to seek you out as they get older if you are a good listener when they are young.

So…try active listening…it is not easy. Beforehand, you may have to step back and center yourself rather than scream out loud as you step forward with open ears, eyes and arms.

listening with hugs

Related article:

Active listening improves communication in the parent child relationship.

 

Fostering Emotional Health In Our Children

Children and Emotional Health…how to foster emotional health in our children is, to me, one of the most misunderstood areas of child development.

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I am the first to say, I wish I knew or I wish we knew more about child development while raising our own daughters.

While we are raising our children it is sometimes difficult to put aside the “ways” of  own parents. They sneak into our relationships with our kids, especially when the going gets rough and we are tired.

Crying craziness…

When children are crying and their emotions are running high it has a tendency to push our buttons… at that moment it is so hard to step back and gain control of ourselves much less our little one.

children

But that is just what is needed in order to recognize our children‘s emotions as valid and acceptable. Now, I am not talking about “no discipline”.

It is really all about discipline.

Parental or adult discipline of children should be designed to help children engage better with others and to modify or control their behavior. Providing appropriate discipline to children is one of the most essential responsibilities of a parent. And providing consistent and positive discipline helps children grow into responsible adults.

According to the Committee for Children (2004), the purpose of discipline is “to encourage moral, physical, and intellectual development and a sense of responsibility in children.

Ultimately, older children will do the right thing, not because they fear external reprisal, but because they have internalized a standard initially presented by parents and other caretakers. In learning to rely on their own resources rather than their parents, children gain self-confidence and a positive self-image.”

via Child Discipline.

Discipline is really about “teaching” and modeling behavior…in order to teach as a parent you have to be in control of yourself and your own emotions…this is not easy when our child is having “a moment”.

Allowing your child to express his feelings and accepting his feelings is a time for us as parents and grandparents to teach them that their feelings are real and acceptable unless they are behaving destructively or in an unsafe way.

Tantrums can be unsafe…first control the environment and then deal with the tantrum itself. It is sort of like a panic attack…until the panic subsides there can be no teaching.

In the beginning, fostering healthy emotional development for our children means listening and trying to decipher our babies’ cries rather than immediately suppressing or ignoring them.  It means that throughout childhood, anger, grief and sadness are acceptable feelings for our children to express anytime anywhere (although never in a destructive or unsafe manner).  Granting our children this freedom to be their whole selves — unconditional acceptance — will lead to far fewer enraged or depressed adults in the future.

via No Angry Kids – Fostering Emotional Literacy In Our Children | Janet Lansbury.

 

Fostering emotional health in your child and unconditionally accepting a child’s emotions within a healthy framework is essential to growth and development.

In order to accomplish this, a parent or caregiver has to first, recognize their own emotions and be able to model acceptable behavior for their children.

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Learning Consequences in Childhood


happy consequences happy child

“Like many parents, ‘consequences’ is one of my buzzwords.

via Truths About Consequences | Janet Lansbury.

How does a child learn about consequences?

In some instances, it is literally a painful learning experience. For example, when a child accidentally touches something hot he will feel the pain or consequence of being burned.

Sometimes it seems, we as parents and grandparents  try to teach consequences by punishment.

Is this a good way for a child to learn consequences? I am thinking, not so much.

If you want your child to be in bed at a certain time and they enjoy story time before bed then they must learn to get ready for bed leaving enough time for a story or face the consequence of having no story.

Child  and his dad

It takes time to set up a ritual and a proper time frame…young children must learn the steps to get ready for bed within defined time frames. This takes effort, for me the “stick-to-it-ive-ness”  of this effort is the most difficult part.

I know that young children are comforted and feel secure with rituals, even if they balk at them. They actually want us, as parents and grandparents, to take charge, just as we want help when we are tired and feeling overwhelmed.

So, why not step up and help them? It will pay off with happiness on both sides of the equation.

happy child

If your little one does not stick to the bedtime ritual time frames then the outcome will be “lights out” and no story time . This is a consequence of the child’s own behavior. Your child can learn can learn that it is not a punishment yet it is a consequence of not getting ready for bed in a timely manner.

Of course,the time frames must be monitored by the grown-up and the child must be given enough guidance about how he is doing in achieving his goal of getting to bed with enough time for a story. Perhaps, you have to set an alarm on your phone to keep you and your child on the schedule.

It will be rewarding in the longterm to have a child that understands that a negative consequence is not a punishment for his “bad” behavior. However, it is a result of  not following directions and doing what he needs to do to get the things that he wants to have…like story-time before going to sleep.

 

NICU: Then & Now, Children & Intense Emotions

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“Tree of Life”

NICU: Then & Now.

The March of Dimes Facebook page catches up with NICU babies in “Then and Now”. This past week, we celebrated National Prematurity Day…not too many years ago these fragile premature babies would not have survived. Here’s to all those that have made these miracle possible!

Helping children when they bite, hit and push – Genevieve Simperingham.

Biting and hitting can really pose a parenting challenge. There are so many reasons that a child resorts to this unpleasant behavior. For me, the most important way to manage behavior problems is through empathy. Empathy for your child and empathy for the victim of your child’s biting and hitting will guide your responses and help make them appropriate. Take a deep cleansing breath to retrieve your empathy and then respond quickly by removing your child from the situation and making sure the other child is okay. Show your child understanding with a sense of calmness, while he is acting this way… and then help him to express his anger and frustration in a more acceptable manner. Gradually, he will find other ways to express his frustrations and anger that do not involve lashing out and biting.

I Have a Daughter With Intense Emotions | Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids.

Keeping with the theme of children and their emotions…here is another post about how to “deal’ with children, who have intense feelings. It is a personal story, to which many of us can relate. Again, “empathy” plays a key role, I hope you visit this story…it is a sweet and endearing one.

Once again…have a wonderful weekend.

 

Toddler’s Tantrums, Creative Children, Smarter than Adults

Parenting in the Loop Facebook

Janet Lansbury offers many insights into how to take care of your babies and children. She    is a follower of Magda Gerber and her RIE philosophy.

Here are some of my favorite posts from Janet, that recently came across my feed. I hope you enjoy them and realize that as a parent and grandparent you have an awesome responsibility and a wonderful one as you involve yourself in caring for your babies.

“Take the mobile off the bed, take care of their needs, and leave them alone.” This odd sentence was my introduction to Magda Gerberand the child care philosophy that would become my passion. I had given birth a few months before reading this quotation, the only one by Gerber, in an article in L.A. Parent magazine about raising a creative child.

via Magda Gerber and the Creative Child | Janet Lansbury.

Babies and children are always fascinating and sometimes frustrating to me. As a former maternal child nurse, I feel privileged to have been one of the first people to have held some newborns. I always felt that the birth of another little being was a blessing and a miracle. I think I always knew that something special had just happened when a baby was delivered.

GENERATIONS of psychologists and philosophers have believed that babies and young children were basically defective adults — irrational, egocentric and unable to think logically. The philosopher John Locke saw a baby’s mind as a blank slate, and the psychologist William James thought they lived in a “blooming, buzzing confusion.” Even today, a cursory look at babies and young children leads many to conclude that there is not much going on.

New studies, however, demonstrate that babies and very young children know, observe, explore, imagine and learn more than we would ever have thought possible. In some ways, they are smarter than adults.

via Op-Ed Contributor – Your Baby Is Smarter Than You Think – NYTimes.com.

 

Temper tantrums can be very perplexing to parents. This anecdote might help explain how RIE understands the mechanisms of toddler tantrums.

Young children are self-healing geniuses, have you noticed? Sometimes their tantrums are an expression of immediate discomforts like fatigue or hunger. Other times, however, they have a backlog of internalized feelings and will seem to deliberately and (seemingly) unreasonably push our limits so that we will hold steady and resist, which then opens up the escape valve they need to release these emotions. But this process can only work for them when we are able to set and hold limits and bravely accept their feelings.

via The Healing Power of a Toddler’s Tantrum | Janet Lansbury.

Breast-feeding is not always best available option – Positive Discipline- What is it? – Baby Sleep, What Do You Really Know? Weekend Reading!

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Are you afraid to choose not to breast feed because of the backlash of comments that you anticipate from your relatives and friends?

Don’t you just want them to understand what you already know about you and your baby?

Maybe you should write down your story and hand copies to anyone who questions why you are not breastfeeding and then just maybe they will “shut up” and mind their own business!

 

BREAST-FEEDING is not always best.

These are fighting words if you are a mother who has delivered a baby at most hospitals throughout the Puget Sound. If you are the postpartum mother who dares to utter that statement, you will be the one fighting with nurses, doctors, lactation consultants and anyone on the street who sees you bottle feeding.

 

 

Do you use time-outs as discipline the way “The Nanny” does on her television series?

There actually is another approach….”Positive Discipline” and it just might work better with your child or children. Here is a link to someone who specializes in this approach…

I went on Amazon and bought all the top books on baby sleep and development. I read through them all, as well as several blogs and sleep websites. I gathered lots of advice.

If you are confused about Baby Sleep and how to help you and your baby get enough rest, you will find out why when you read this funny post from a mom who shares your confusion.

Don’t fret, you are not alone!

I hope these suggested readings help with three of the most discussed topics of childrearing…. Feeding…Discipline…Sleep.

Have a great weekend!

 

Do you know how to stop your child’s tantrum?

Tantrum

If you understand your child’s brain it just may help you deal with your child’s tantrums.

Dr. Siegel is a renowned physician, who has done much research on the brain. In this video he shares what is going on in a child’s brain when he is having a tantrum. By understanding the brain and tantrums it just might help a parent or grandparent deal with their own reaction to a temper tantrum.

How you react to the child who is having a tantrum may actually lengthen or shorten the duration of the “meltdown”

Now what parent would not want to shorten a tantrum?

Watch this video to learn how!

http://www.kidsinthehouse.com/video/how-stop-tantrums-understanding-brain

via How to stop tantrums by understanding the brain | KidsInTheHouse.com.

What do you know about Kids and Depression?

 kids

One of today’s headlines included news that depressed kids are at risk for heart disease later in life. As a healthcare professional this is not really new to me but the fact that a study found this correlation is meaningful.

 

The findings suggest that the consequences of childhood depression reach beyond the emotional realm and can lead to long-term physical health problems. This makes early intervention — both to treat the depression and to encourage healthy habits, possibly preventing future heart problems — even more important.

An estimated 2 percent of school-aged children, those between 6 and 12 years old, appear to have a major depression at any given time. That widely cited statistic comes from a study published in 2000 in American Family Physician, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

“I think the clinical implication of this finding is that if we know a child is experiencing depression, we can pay special, close attention to cardiovascular risk factors and try to deal with those things as early as possible,” Carney said in an interview, “and then be able to prevent the onset of heart disease over time.”

via Depressed Kids Risk Heart Disease Later – Heart Health Center – Everyday Health.

This is an important finding for the future health of our children and of course it is important for their current health.

If your child exhibits signs and symptoms of depression it is crucial that you are able to recognize them and then speak to your physician about what you are seeing.

No one wants to think that their own child or grandchild could actually be “depressed” at a young age but they can. Closing your eyes to it will not make depression go away it might even make it worse.

Signs and symptoms of depression in children include:

Irritability or anger.

Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

Social withdrawal.

Increased sensitivity to rejection.

Changes in appetite — either increased or decreased.

Changes in sleep — sleeplessness or excessive sleep.

Vocal outbursts or crying.

Difficulty concentrating.

Fatigue and low energy.

Physical complaints (such as stomachaches, headaches) that don’t respond to treatment.

Reduced ability to function during events and activities at home or with friends, in school, extracurricular activities, and in other hobbies or interests.

Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.

Impaired thinking or concentration.

Thoughts of death or suicide

via Depression in Children: Symptoms and Common Types of Child Depression.

Although I have read that depression is not common in children younger than 12 years of age, as a clinician I have seen some very troubling depressive behavior in younger children.

Depression is treatable, but only if you seek help for it.

So, if you have questions about yourself or your child please check with your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room.

Troubling Toddler Behavior, Kids Snacks, Pizza Nite…Weekend Reading

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Toddler behavior can be very challenging. I love Janet Lansbury’s take on what to do and how to deal with this developmental stage. Although following her advice may not be easy to follow,
it certainly sounds worth it in the long term.

What do you think…how do you deal with problem toddler behavior?

We’re big. They’re tiny. They’re just learning our rules and expectations for appropriate behavior. They have a developmental need to express their will, and they have very little (if any) impulse control. With these complicated, powerful dynamics in play, why would we take our toddler’s hitting, biting, resistance or refusal to cooperate personally?

Kids all need snacks and it is sometimes hard to pick nutritious ones in this on-the-go environment we live in.

Yogurt is a wonderful, tasty choice for snacks and lunch box treats…I freeze the yogurt squeezes and they are perfect at lunchtime after thawing.

What are some of your secrets snacks for your kids and grandkids?

How to Manage On-The-Go Snacking for Kids

Posted by Elizabeth • March 14th, 2013

Saying that Jill Castle, MS, RD, LDN knows a thing or two about childhood nutrition would be quite the understatement. Jill is a pediatric nutrition expert, and in her 20 years of knowledge and experience with kids, she’s tackled everything from helping families with picky eaters to designing specialized diets for medical problems. Add on the fact that she’s also a mother of 4, it’s safe to say she knows healthy eating, knows kids, and she DEFINITELY knows what it’s like to be busy.

Okay, its Friday and pizza is another family favorite. Why not make your own with this easy and tasty recipe from Mom a la Mode. I’ll be over at 6 !

I thought you might like the recipe so you can also enjoy this pizza physically, in the comfort of your own home.  What’s a better supper on a Friday than fresh, homemade pizza…and maybe a glass (or two!) of Chianti??