Toddlers are in constant growth, not only their bodies, but their brains are developing too, thinking about new words, ideas and solutions. All this requires fuel. Where to find it?
The nutrients that will boost your toddler’s brain are listed in this article:
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Nutrients that boost your child’s brain development
By Allison Tannis
What is your toddler’s favourite food? Probably not beans or spinach. Yet, each day their little bodies grow, and their brains figure out how to create words, solve puzzles and mobilize their bodies to into more precarious locations. Encouraging our kids to eat healthy is important to that growth and development. Knowing where to start helps, so here are four nutrients your toddler needs.
If a toddler’s body doesn’t have enough iron, it can affect the way the brain develops and functions. To be more specific, iron is needed for the creation of the myelin sheath that surrounds nerves. The myelin sheath sort of insulates nerves so they can conduct messages faster and more efficiently from your toddler’s head to their little pudgy toes. Scientists have found toddlers who lack sufficient iron in their diet have lower attention, memory and cognitive skills. In one Greek study, researchers found supplementing iron deficient three- and four-year-olds improved their attention and cognition.
Where to find it: Snack foods like dried apricots, beans, seeds, almonds and edamame beans and in toddler-approved dinner foods, including tofu cubes, roasted chicken legs and cooked spinach (try hiding spinach in pasta sauce or under the cheese on pizza).
Salmon is called ‘pink chicken’ in our family as that was the only way our parents could get their pickiest grandchild to eat it. Salmon is a great source of protein to help a toddler’s muscles recover after all of their attempts to climb, run and jump higher and faster. Most importantly, salmon is packed with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid. Fish oil is vital to the development of a toddler’s brain and eyes. Children have extremely low intakes of DHA (19mg/day), far lower than the recommended minimum intake of 90mg of DHA by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Of note, many omega-3 experts recommend guidelines be closer to 350 mg per day for children.
Where to find it: In salmon, tuna, mackerel, anchovies and sardines.
This nutrient also helps toddlers’ nerve development. Vitamin A is needed by the nervous system to grow and create its intricate pattern of nerves that send messages from your toddlers’ little fingers to his brain.
Where to find it: In green and orange vegetables, including carrots, kale, sweet potatoes and red-leafed lettuce.
In order to grow, the body creates new cells and it needs zinc to do that. Zinc deficiency limits a child’s growth and reduces their ability to fight off infections. In addition, zinc affects how a toddler’s brain works. A study in the Journal of Nutrition, showed that children who are deficient in zinc have lower cognitive (thinking) and motor (moving) function.
Where to find it: Pumpkin seeds, lentils, shellfish and nuts (only if there is no allergy concern). Another great source of zinc is wheat germ – you can sprinkle it into oatmeal, hide in a smoothie or use in recipes instead of breadcrumbs.
Tips and Tricks
- Set an example: Kids eat what Mom eats. That’s right, Mom – if you want your toddler to eat a healthy diet, you’ll need to clean up your own eating habits. In a recent study published in Health and Education Research, it was reported that a better way to improve a child’s diet is a positive parental role model, not trying to control their diet.
- Make the most of snack time: Use small, brightly coloured storage containers to make healthy, hand-held, on-the-go, finger-food snacks for your toddlers. Fill them with berries, cut up veggies, nuts and dried fruits, or puffed kamut. For best results, keep the healthy foods you offer in small, bite-sized pieces; studies show it can reduce hostility in kids and increases their likelihood of eating it.
- Make food look fun: Create silly faces on a plate using healthy foods (fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables) and dips (almond butter or hummus).
Reading does wonders for a child, it trains imagination, helps the mind explore new emotions and increases vocabulary. However, with the constant presence of smartphones and widescreen TV’s, it is quiet challenging to convince our children on how important reading really is.
If you agree with us and would like to help your child discover the beauty of reading, check the article we found on the topic: https://www.wikihow.com/Raise-a-Child-Who-Loves-to-Read
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How to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read
You can create a home environment that will beckon your child into the wonderful world of literature. Books and the characters in literature play a massive role in school, college and life, and can also lead to interest in pursuing a professional career if the interest is high. Reading is a lifelong hobby and can help build the imagination, vocabulary and education of your child.
1. Start early
Teaching your child to read can start in the womb. Let the fetus listen to Western Classical music by placing headphones against your tummy – Classical Symphonies have a highly beneficial effect on the forming mind. Read to the kid before and after birth as much as possible. Try to avoid baby talk. Talk to him or her as you would to any older child or adult. Give the growing little one ABC building blocks, and enact children’s stories and simplified Shakespeare stories for them in a way that excites their imagination.
- Fill your home with books and Illustrated Classics for Children. Stock up all the traditional fairy stories – Hans Christian Andersen, Aesop’s Fables and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Buy plenty of books for yourself to set an example of the love of reading. The books you choose do not have to be new and expensive, and indeed, showing your child the joy of reading and exchanging or sharing books is another important life lesson in reading fast, sharing, and not cluttering. Purchase a wide range of books both age-appropriate for your child and all kinds of other books for your home. If your child gets used to seeing books in every room and lining the bookshelves, this image becomes very important when they start to think about the importance and entertainment value of reading. Show excitement about buying and borrowing books and don’t forget to get many books for yourself too.
- There are many bookstores that cater for children but you can just as easily go to used bookstores or library book sales with your child, starting at a young age. Take your child with you as this help them to be intimately involved in the journey to loving reading. Let them choose a few books as well as you selecting some books that can be read together, so that they feel they own the decision about some of the books.
- Consider even buying two of the same books so you can both read and use them as a challenge. When you finish, you can ask each other questions about the book.
- Used books are cheap! For the younger child, look into picture books and independent reading books as well as sing-a-long or listen and read books to help them gain the knowledge to read better.
- Art books can be found on bargain tables in book stores; place these on your coffee table and encourage perusal at any time.
- Buy or build bookshelves to house your precious reading material. If your child sees a wide range of books and can see each title at a glance, they will be more likely to pick one up and read it. Place books in different rooms in your home, maybe in baskets or on stands.
2. Purchase or borrow other media.
Reading sources such as magazines, newspapers, etc., are another way to interest your child in reading. Invest in subscriptions to magazines that you enjoy and with content suitable for a child. If your child sees you reading different media, they may get an interest in such varied topics as fashion, current events, sports, animals, films, etc. Newspapers are great to teach both you and your child about the real world. Read these at the breakfast table or after work in a comfortable setting minus the blaring TV. This sets an example to your child about what people do to learn and relax at once. Newspapers are something your child recognize as a source on what is happening outside of your family circle.
- Teach your child how to read a newspaper, including finding relevant information in different sections of the paper, such as world news, public notices, cartoons, etc.
- Many family oriented magazines include a kid’s section. Direct your kid to that section so that they can do the puzzles, enter the competitions, and read while doing so.
- Listen to audiobooks on CD or Mp3.
- Given the increasing popularity of e-readers, the iPad, etc., also consider including these sources of electronic reading material in your child’s life. Depending on age, there are electronic books such as the Leap Pad® learning system that allow the child to read the books using a pen; these are generally aimed at children aged from toddler to around 10, although foreign language versions can be used longer if wished. Beyond that, older children can progress to the more detailed (and costly) eBooks for e-readers, iPads, computers, etc.
3. Give books as presents.
Books are ideal gifts for birthdays, holidays, Christmas, traveling, as rewards, etc. Many books that are given for a special occasion or reason will become a special memory and will be long treasured. Write a loving message in the front so that the memento is well remembered.
- Remind your relatives and friends to give books they loved as children to your child, to broaden their knowledge of different literature from different eras.
4. Teach your child to respect and love books.
If you can teach children to see books as their lifelong friends, they’ll have innate respect for them. The love of reading will come from observing your love of reading, from the pleasure of getting new information for themselves from reading, and from the sheer utility of being able to read such things as game manuals, school information, and TV programs!
- Inform your child of the rules of caring for books such as not drawing or writing in library books, and not throwing away unwanted books but donating them instead. Avoid lecturing; simply explain in terms of why books are special objects and deserve our respect.
5. Spend time in the library together as a regular outing.
Let your child choose favorite books to read and borrow, and encourage your child to explore the library and enjoy all of the activities it offers. Your child will come to associate visiting the library with being close to you, spending time around enjoyable things to read and do, and as a place of quiet, thinking time.
- From early on, teach children how to be responsible with library books and have them take responsibility for the fees associated with returning books late. This is good learning about self-responsibility, anticipation, meeting deadlines, and being conscious of sharing responsibilities. It’s also a lesson in budgeting if you insist late fees come out of their pocket money! Only do this if the child can go to the library alone on foot or on bicycle to return the books. Imposing a penalty on them for your forgetfulness teaches the opposite lesson.
6. Teach your child about famous writers, actors and characters who are in books, or who write classic books.
Show them pictures of famous authors and tell them about their lives. You child may decide that he or she wants to write books too; do all you can to encourage this by providing paper and pens, and commenting favorably on all writing efforts.
7. Read often and your child will mimic you.
Try reading at certain times during the day, such as at midday sitting in the sun, or by a warm fire, or in bed, or before breakfast. Leave stacks of reading material in such places as your bed and on a chair so that your child can see books and reading matter as a normal part of your lifestyle. This reading role modeling will encourage your child and you can be assured that if you are a reader, then so will be your child.
8. Read to and with your child.
Children benefit from listening to reading and reading along. Get your child to sound out words and to read a sentence as you continue the story. This makes them feel a part of the learning process and helps to make the story more interactive. Also tuck them in bed, read aloud, and let them fall asleep to a good story. Make this a daily habit. Keep the reading habit up for as long as your child enjoys you reading to him or her. This can even go into teen years if you turn reading out loud into a household activity at least once a week, in which the whole family gathers together to listen to an interesting book while relaxing.
- Find a love interest in a particular book. Some children fall in love with a book, Peter Pan, Snow White, Cinderella, Lassie etc. Read it to them over and over when they ask. Read the book especially at bedtime as they fall asleep. If your child ever has nightmares, you can use this favorite book to calm them and help them return to sleep.
9. Maintain a regime for reading but be spontaneous.
If your child wants to read at night before bed, let them read for a time limit and then lights out. Tell them they can read with a flashlight in the dark if they want. Make it fun and a special reward for good behavior. Small children really love this “big boy/girl” reading reward, and it becomes a good habit for them to read before they sleep.
- “Come to terms” with the advancing technology, as the days are gone when nights were used just to read and study. Computer games and Xbox are here as well as TV and texting on cell phones. Try to encourage your child to fit in some reading every day.
10. Pay attention to your child’s changing interests.
As your child gets older, pay attention to subjects that interest your tween or teen. Focus on bringing books into the house that reflect their growing interests and continue to reward them with books and book vouchers.
- Encourage your child’s curiosity in finding answers to questions they might have. This will often lead them to books on the subject and further encourage the reading habit.
- Don’t neglect books in foreign languages. If your child is bilingual or shows an interest in other cultures, foster this through reading books in other languages as well. Even if you don’t know a second language, there are many options available to help your child – and you – learn as you go.
11. Go to a book club.
At first, join a book club that’s suitable for young children and families. As they get older, take them to a book club for their age, and when it is time, let them go alone or drop them off and you can grab a coffee or read a book yourself. They will see that other people their age are interested in books and that this passion isn’t as dorky as some of the teenagers might be suggesting.
12. Avoid pressuring your child.
When your child is not interested in a certain book, just put it away. Try to read to them what they are most interested in but also introduce new books all the time. Casually leaving interesting books lying around all the time is often the best way to get them enthused without pressuring them.
Learning might be boring, but not when you are playing and learning at the same time! This is a very common trick among parents because it works wonders. If you want to help your children have fun and learn while at it, we found an interesting article about this topic.
Just click on the link and read more: http://www.parentscanada.com/baby/playing-to-learn
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Playing to learn
By ParentsCanada staff on September 09, 2013
Playing is what kids do best, and it’s a good thing, too, considering play is instrumental in your child’s development. So this year, as you start your holiday shopping, keep that in mind. Toys should be fun, but also contribute to intellectual, sensory and behavioural growth.
0 to 6 months
Does a baby really need toys?
Yes! Look for items that entertain the eyes, ears and hands.
- Go with simplicity. Babies don’t need complicated toys that will be frustrating. Look for simple items.
- Get colourful. Newborns enjoy colours, especially ones that have high contrast.
- Add music. Music is soothing, especially for the youngest of kids. Search out items with fun playtime music, as well as calming bedtime tunes.
- Offer hand-helds. Grasping items is an early motor skill that needs nurturing. Have plenty of teething rings, cloth books and rattles to play with.
6 to 12 months
Watch out! Your baby is going to be on the move. Look for toys that encourage activity.
- Appeal to touch. Little ones love different textures and shapes. Invest in crinkle books, rattles and toys with buttons to push.
- Get active. Toys that encourage rolling, crawling and (yikes!) walking are a great idea.
- Build it up. To develop fine motor skills, find items that are stackable, like blocks, nesting cups and stacking rings.
- Wheel around. For some reason, kids love wheels. Provide cars, trucks and pull-toys. It gets kids active and starts to spark imagination. Note: avoid mini-cars. They are too small for this age.
12 to 18 months
It’s all about the rewards. At this age, kids love cause and effect items. Look for toys that provide a goal.
- Sort it out. Shape sorting toys are always a big hit. Look for puzzle-style shape sorters, or toys that ask children to identify shapes and push correct buttons.
- Be safe. With more independent play comes the need to be extra careful with toys. Make sure there are no small pieces or sharp edges. Keep an eye on your toy box for broken toys.
- Get wet. Water is really entertaining for little ones. Simply washing their hands can be a source of excitement. Build on this by offering fun bath toys that squirt, pour, float and sink.
18 to 24 months
Let’s pretend. Your child’s imagination kicks into high gear at this age. Look for toys that encourage the creative mind.
- Dress up. Hats, shoes and funny dress-up clothing are simple, but entertaining “toys”. As parents, you’ll have to wear many silly clothes during this time.
- Act it out. Dolls, stuffed animals and other action figures are the perfect way to play makebelieve. Play kitchens, toolboxes and houses can also build a creative imagination.
- Begin with ABCs. Yes, your child might be a little young to start reading, but toys that show the alphabet can give them a head start when it comes to letter recognition. It can’t hurt!
- Be puzzling. Help out those problem-solving skills with large, simple puzzles. Be patient and let your toddler work at it. Offer help if frustration sets in.
Your child gives you vague answers? Your conversations are short and obscure? Don’t worry, it might be the “What” and “How” you ask.
For example, did you know that if you were to ask “What happened today?”, the child might feel overwhelmed? Because: “Gee, mom! A lot happened, where do I start?!”
Want to know more about getting your kid to talk about his/her day? Here is a source we liked that will provide you with more information and tips:
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Small Talk: How to Get Your Kid to Chat About Her Day
By Karen M. Lynch from Parents Magazine
Sometimes you get “good,” or “fine,” or the conversation killer: “I don’t remember” when you ask your child about her day. Take comfort in the fact that she’s not giving you the cold shoulder on purpose. But if you know why your child clams up and if you have some tactics to help her organize her thoughts, you’ll be well on your way to getting the need-to-know scoop.
Conversation Stopper: Information Overload
A million things, great and small, have happened since your son got on the school bus, so when you ask “What happened today?” he may be overwhelmed. Should he tell you about the fire drill? The weird smell in the lunchroom? How he scored 100 on the spelling test? “He doesn’t know what kind of information you want, so he truly draws a blank,” says Adam Cox, PhD, author of Boys of Few Words: Raising Our Sons to Communicate and Connect.
Talking Points: By asking specific questions like, “Who did you play with at recess?” or “Who did you sit next to at lunch?” you’ll begin teaching your child how to scroll back in time and make stories out of his experiences, explains Dawn Huebner, PhD, psychologist and author of the What-to-Do Guides for Kids series. You’ll also be giving him a better idea of the kind of things you’re interested in knowing. If you want lively answers, ask fun questions: Best/Worst or Coolest/Most Uncool thing that happened is engaging, and it provides another way to help kids share the day’s events.
Conversation Stopper: Tough Transitions
Your child is straddling two worlds. “For a good part of the day she’s responsible for herself and navigates complex situations without your help,” says Gretchen Barber-Lindstrom, a Phoenix-based social worker. Then, suddenly, she’s back home where she can let her guard down and be a little kid again. “It can be hard to switch gears,” says Barber-Lindstrom. She might find it overwhelming to sort out the emotions of the day.
Talking Points: Let her have some time to decompress after school. Give her a snack and some downtime before you ask about her day. “Take cues from your child,” says Dr. Huebner. “If your specific questions unleash an eager flood of details, keep them coming. If they’re met with one-word responses, assume she needs more time to chill out.” Kick off the conversation by talking about your day — sharing your experiences will teach your child to communicate by example.
Conversation Stopper: Performance Anxiety
“Once your child enters first grade, he’s aware that you’re paying attention to how he’s learning and getting along with others. He knows he’s being watched and feels pressure to perform,” says Gene Beresin, MD, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. This feeling of being judged can keep a child from wanting to share details about his day.
Talking Points: Try playing a game or reading together, and see what topics naturally arise. “Sometimes we try to get information too fast,” says Dr. Cox. Doing an activity together can help him feel less guarded. Telling you that he didn’t know an answer when he was called on in class is much easier when he’s feeling close to you. Withhold judgment. If your child feels it isn’t safe for him to share the low points in his day, he’ll shut down.
Conversation Stopper: Short Memory
At this age, your child is actively increasing his “working memory” — the process used for temporarily storing and manipulating information. He has limited ability to recall the day’s events at a later time. Working memory grows over time, faster for some than for others.
Talking Points: Chat up other parents and stay in contact with your kid’s teacher so you’ll be able to offer prompts such as: “Who was the mystery reader today?” Asking questions — even if you already know the answer — will help teach the art of the recap. Also, your child may not yet have a finely tuned emotional language, so opening up about things he felt during the day can be difficult. “Children usually respond to their feelings through action, because they can’t always identify the feeling,” says Michelle Maidenberg, PhD, the clinical director of Westchester Group Works, a center for group therapy. You can help build his emotional vocabulary by using words like excitement, anger, fatigue, worry, or frustration when you’re talking about his behavior so he begins to see that there’s a connection.
Why You Should Stop Solving Your Child’s Problems
When your child is facing a challenge, of course you want to swoop in and save the day. But keep in mind that at school your kid is figuring things out for herself all day long. If you give your child solutions, you’ll make her less resourceful. She’ll think, “If they aren’t like Mom’s and Dad’s, my ideas must be wrong.”
Helping kids solve problems for themselves, on the other hand, is empowering. “When you facilitate instead of taking over, you’re subliminally increasing your child’s confidence,” says Dr. Maidenberg. Ask questions like, “What do you think your options are?” or “What are you most comfortable doing?” If your kid believes she figured things out herself, it will be a self-confidence booster. When your child walks away from a conversation with positive feelings she will come back to talk to you again and again.
Are You Too Intrusive?
Even a 6-year-old needs some space. Follow these tips to walk the fine line between involved and intrusive.
Do allow your child to say he just doesn’t feel like talking, but don’t let him get away with ignoring you. Try to discuss why he’s uncomfortable about a particular subject.
Don’t barrage your child with questions if you notice she’s getting anxious or seems distressed. “Kids shouldn’t be put on the spot. If they sense you’re prying, you need to back off,” says Dr. Beresin.
Do ask your child if he’d like to talk about something later in the day, but don’t argue with him if he says no. Respect his decision to keep some things to himself.
Don’t bring up information you hear from secondhand sources unless it concerns your child’s well-being. “When it involves health, safety, or respect for others, there’s just no compromise. You have to talk about it even if your kid doesn’t want to,” says Dr. Maidenberg.
A child is comfortable at home, but soon he will want to explore the world beyond a familiar climate. He will discover new social groups in which he will interact with other people. How do you make sure his social experiences are harmonious and pleasant? By developing and improving your child’s social skills!
If you want to know more about how to improve the social skills of your child, here is a link we recommend:
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Improving Kids’ Social Skills
Learn about the social milestones your child should have at different ages and the activities that can help enhance social development.
By Cheryl Lock
Not all kids need help with the same social skills, and what your child needs practice with could vary, depending on her age. “It’s important to know the normal developmental skills appropriate for different age groups so you can determine where the help is needed,” says Susan Diamond, M.A., a speech-language pathologist and author of Social Rules for Kids. The proper social skills that need to be taught can be divided into three stages: determining the social skills that need development, figuring out ways to teach the skills, and reinforcing lessons with the right resources. We’ll take you through all three stages and offer examples on how a child struggling with general shyness and social anxiety can become a friendly kid who’s comfortable and ready to handle any social situations.
Determining the Stages of Social Development
In general, kids will have developed certain social skills and social cues by these ages:
- 2- to 3-year-olds: able to seek attention from others, initiate social contact with others both verbally (saying “Hi” and “Bye”) and physically, look at a person who’s talking, have the ability to take turns talking, and laugh at silly objects and events.
- 3- to 4-year-olds: are able to take turns when playing games, treat a doll or stuffed animal as though it’s alive, and initiate verbal communication with actual words.
- 4- to 5-year-olds: are able to show more cooperation with children, use direct requests (like “Stop”), are more prone to tattling, and pretend to be Mom or Dad in fantasy play.
- 5- to 6-year-olds: are able to please their friends, say “I’m sorry,” “Please,” and “Thank you,” understand bad words and potty language, are more strategic in bargaining, play competitive games, and understand fair play and good sportsmanship.
- 6- to 7-year-olds: are able to empathize with others (like crying at sad things), are prone to sharing, use posture and gestures, wait for turns and are better losers and less likely to place blame, joke more and listen to others tell their points of view, and maintain and shift/end topics appropriately. At this age, however, they still can’t understand the clear difference between right and wrong, and may not take direction well.
Improving Social Development
Playdates are a crucial part of growing up, but kids with social issues can have a hard time making plans. “Having a playdate is a great way to introduce your child to the concept of using rules when a friend comes over and to teach him how to be polite to guests,” Diamond says. Discuss ahead of time any situation that could be uncomfortable. “Write a plan beforehand. Go over all the different things the kids can do together, and then have your kid offer his guest three activities to pick from. Have them take turns picking activities from there, to avoid fights and to help teach compromise,” Diamond says. “Talk about what you think will happen, what could possibly happen. You can even role-play and practice greetings and manners. If it’s necessary, write a script to help reduce your child’s stress.”
To enhance your child’s social development further, Lawrence Balter, Ph.D., child psychologist and parenting expert, suggests the four strategies below.
- Teach empathy: Run through different scenarios by asking your child how other people might feel when certain things happen, and substitute different situations each time.
- Explain personal space: Tell your child that it’s important for everyone to have some personal space to feel comfortable, and practice acceptable ways to interact with someone during playtime.
- Practice social overtures: Teach kids the proper way to start a conversation, get someone’s attention, or join a group of kids who are already playing together. These are all situations that can be discussed and brainstormed at the dinner table, or in the car on the way to school or activities.
- Go over taking turns: Sit with your child for at least an hour a day and play with him to explain what it means to wait, take turns, and share.
Reinforcing Specific Social Skills
Activities and games can provide additional help in developing specific skills, and you can reinforce your child’s social development and interaction by playing The Name Game and Follow the Leader. Researchers Sandra Sandy and Kathleen Cochran developed The Name Game to help young children learn the importance of getting someone’s attention before speaking. Have kids sit in a circle and give one kid a ball. Ask him to name another child in the circle, and roll the ball to that child. The recipient then takes his turn, naming another child and rolling the ball, and so on. The classic Follow the Leader game teaches kids about taking turns and practicing patience. Designate either yourself or your child as the leader, and have the follower(s) mimic the leader’s actions.
Dr. Diamond recommends these other activities for recognizing particular social cues:
- For nonverbal skills: Help kids recognize facial expressions and body language by watching kid-friendly TV shows with the sound off and observe what characters are doing and what certain movements might mean. (Just make sure to follow the media guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which suggests that kids watch TV for a maximum of two hours a day.) “Predict what you think they’re saying, and really start [observing] facial gestures,” Diamond says. “You can also look through magazines and make collages with different facial expressions, and talk about what the people in those photos might be saying.”
- For tone: To help kids differentiate a range of tones, “use a tape recorder and record different emotions in your voice and ask your child what they are, then explain how meaning changes with voice change,” Diamond recommends. For example, try recording phrases like “I’m angry!” in a loud, empathic voice, and “I feel so sad” in a soft, low, dejected voice.
- For attention span: If your child has trouble staying on point, pick a topic and say three sentences — two related to the topic and one random. Then ask your child to pick the sentence that’s off-topic. For example, bring up the family dog. Talk about how long he played outside today and what he did at the dog park, and then say something about the weather. Ask your kid to differentiate between the different sentences. “Also, at the dinner table, have your kid keep track of how many times the topic changes during dinner,” Diamond suggests.
There are plenty of good apps available that reinforce social skills. “Model Me Going Places” allows kids to look at photos of other children modeling appropriate behavior in certain situations (the hairdresser, doctor, playground), “Responding Social Skills” teaches kids how to respond to others and how to understand others’ feelings, and “Small Talk” presents conversation fillers for awkward social moments. But if your child still seems to have difficulty keeping up with the skills she should be developing for her age group, it may be time to give her a little help. “Some children have problems with impulse control and self regulation; some have a problem with processing information,” Dr. Balter says. “These issues can lead to [kids] having awkward interactions with peers.” So if social issues cause your child fear or make him feel isolated, seek help from your pediatrician or another child expert, such as a therapist.
It feels good when your child knows how to behave and other people compliment their manners. However, as we are sure you know, good behaviour is taught. A good start in achieving this objective is to give your child attention when he/she behaves well, rather than just applying consequences when he/she does something you don’t like.
For more information on the topic, visit the article we found for you: http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/encouraging_good_behaviour.html
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Encouraging good behaviour: 15 tips
By Raising Children Network
How to encourage good behaviour in your child
A positive and constructive approach is often the best way to guide your child’s behaviour. This means giving your child attention when he behaves well, rather than just applying consequences when he does something you don’t like.
Here are some practical tips for putting this positive approach into action.
Tips for good behaviour
1. Be a role model
Use your own behaviour to guide your child. Your child watches you to get clues on how to behave – and what you do is often much more important than what you say. For example, if you want your child to say ‘please’, say it yourself. If you don’t want your child to raise her voice, speak quietly and gently yourself.
2. Show your child how you feel
Telling your child honestly how his behaviour affects you helps him see his own feelings in yours. And if you start sentences with ‘I’, it gives your child the chance to see things from your perspective. For example, ‘I’m getting upset because there is so much noise that I can’t talk on the phone’.
3. Catch your child being ‘good’
When your child is behaving in a way you like, give her some positive feedback. For example, ‘Wow, you’re playing so nicely. I really like the way you’re keeping all the blocks on the table’. This works better than waiting for the blocks to come crashing to the floor before you take notice and say, ‘Hey, stop that’.
4. Get down to your child’s level
When you get close to your child, you can tune in to what he might be feeling or thinking. Being close also helps him focus on what you’re saying about his behaviour. If you’re close to your child and have his attention, you don’t need to make him look at you.
5. Listen actively
To listen actively, you can nod as your child talks, and repeat back what you think your child is feeling. For example, ‘It sounds like you feel really sad that your blocks fell down’. When you do this, it can help young children cope with tension and big emotions like frustration, which sometimes lead to unwanted behaviour. It also makes them feel respected and comforted. It can even diffuse potential temper tantrums.
6. Keep promises
When you follow through on your promises, good or bad, your child learns to trust and respect you. She learns that you won’t let her down when you’ve promised something nice, and she also learns not to try to change your mind when you’ve explained a consequence. So when you promise to go for a walk after your child picks up her toys, make sure you have your walking shoes handy. When you say you’ll leave the library if your child doesn’t stop running around, be prepared to leave straight away.
7. Create an environment for good behaviour
The environment around your child can influence his behaviour, so you can shape the environment to help your child behave well. This can be as simple as making sure your child’s space has plenty of safe, stimulating things for him to play with. Make sure that your child can’t reach things he could break or that might hurt him. Your glasses look like so much fun to play with – it’s hard for children to remember not to touch. Reduce the chance of problems by keeping breakables and valuables out of sight.
8. Choose your battles
Before you get involved in anything your child is doing – especially to say ‘no’ or ‘stop’ – ask yourself if it really matters. By keeping instructions, requests and negative feedback to a minimum, you create less opportunity for conflict and bad feelings. Rules are important, but use them only when it’s really important.
9. Be firm about whining
If you give in when your child is whining for something, you can accidentally train her to whine more. ‘No’ means ‘no’, not maybe, so don’t say it unless you mean it.
10. Keep things simple and positive
If you give clear instructions in simple terms, your child will know what’s expected of him – for example, ‘Please hold my hand when we cross the road’. And positive rules are usually better than negative ones, because they guide your child’s behaviour in a positive way. For example, ‘Please shut the gate’ is better than ‘Don’t leave the gate open’.
11. Give children responsibility – and consequences
As your child gets older, you can give her more responsibility for her own behaviour. You can also give her the chance to experience the natural consequences of that behaviour. You don’t have to be the bad guy all the time. For example, if it’s your child’s responsibility to pack her lunch box and she forgets, the natural consequence is feeling hungry at lunch time.
At other times you might need to provide consequences for unacceptable or dangerous behaviour. For these times, it’s best to ensure that you’ve explained the consequences and that your child has agreed to them in advance.
12. Say it once and move on
If you tell your child what to do – or what not to do – too often, he might end up just tuning out. If you want to give him one last chance to cooperate, remind him of the consequences for not cooperating. Then start counting to three.
13. Make your child feel important
Give your child some simple chores or things that she can do to help the family. This will make her feel important. If you can give your child lots of practice doing a chore, she’ll get better at it, feel good about doing it, and want to keep doing it. And if you give her some praise for her behaviour and effort, it’ll help to build her self-esteem.
14. Prepare for challenging situations
There are times when looking after your child and doing things you need to do will be tricky. If you think about these challenging situations in advance, you can plan around your child’s needs. Give him a five-minute warning before you need him to change activities. Talk to him about why you need his cooperation. Then he’s prepared for what you expect.
15. Maintain a sense of humour
It often helps to keep daily life with children light. You can do this by using songs, humour and fun. For example, you can pretend to be the menacing tickle monster who needs the toys picked up off the floor. Humour that has you both laughing is great, but humour at your child’s expense won’t help. Young children are easily hurt by parental ‘teasing’.
Boys or Girls – who is easier? A never-ending debate among parents. The truth is, boys will be boys and girls will be girls. No one is easier to handle, all it takes is a different approach.
Figuring out how to approach your child based on his gender is important and fun! But our own personalities and expectations may count even more.
Renee Bacher, a loving mother of three kids is providing her discoveries and conclusions in the following source: http://www.parents.com/kids/development/social/boys-or-girls/
For your convenience, here is a glimpse of the article:
Boys or Girls
In my pre-mommy days, I envisioned myself like Marmee in Little Women: the wise, loving lead of a feminine brood. My fantasy seem poised to come true with the birth of our firstborn, Hannah, a calm and compliant child who was snuggly, easily entertained, and loved every hairdo I concocted for her. She was everything I imagined would come with the daughter package, and I looked forward to more. When Hannah turned 3, my Little Women fantasy came to an abrupt halt with the birth of Isaac, followed 16 months later by Benny. From the moment my first son was born, I was scared silly about the task at hand; I imagined wildness, loudness, adoration of trucks, and risk-taking behavior that would end in visits to the ER. I knew in my heart that boys were surely the tougher gender to raise.
Now, seven years later, I’m no longer certain. Not only have my boys turned out to be loads of fun, but my adorably chatty preschooler is now an adolescent girl who says things like, “Mom, you’re not really wearing that to a meeting, are you? You look like you’re going to yoga!” (If Hannah was easy in her early years, she’s making up for it now.) But I’ve realized that ease may be in the eyes of the beholder (the boy behavior that drives me nuts may evoke no more than a shrug from another mom, and vice versa), and also that it shifts over the years as children mature and change.
The Testosterone Connection
The differences between males and females are, of course, some of life’s great mysteries, and the debate as to whether these differences are hard-wired or result from gender bias in our child rearing has raged for decades. Recent research, however, makes a compelling case that just as there are clear-cut anatomical differences between boys and girls, there are differences in brain chemistry as well — differences that influence behavior.
Some of these “differences” may be stereotypes — the boy who’s so aggressive that he breaks everything he touches or the girl who bursts into tears if you look at her cross-eyed. But what is their basis in biology?
British psychopathologist Simon Baron-Cohen, PhD, author of The Essential Difference: The Truth About the Male and Female Brain (Perseus, 2003), has spent nearly two decades studying the topic. He has found that the average female brain is better at empathizing with others, while the average male brain is better at systemizing and predicting outcomes. (However, Baron-Cohen is adamant that the descriptions “male” and “female” simply represent averages, and that either gender can have either brain type.)
And indeed, in canvassing dozens of mothers, I found that many of their feelings about the challenges of raising each sex echo Baron-Cohen’s conclusions. Here are some of the things mothers said about their daughters.
Girls are emotionally high maintenance.
Many mothers noted that girls, even as babies, are more volatile than boys, who seem more apt to go with the flow. “My 5-year-old daughter can go from smiles to tears and back again in the time it takes to eat dinner,” says Lisa Young, a Chicago mother of two. “Every meal is high drama. Her 10-year-old brother, on the other hand, has never been interested in doing anything more than wolfing down his food and getting back to whatever he was doing.”
Moreover, Melissa Ferry, from Valparaiso, Indiana, believes the transformation from happy child to sullen adolescent is more abrupt with girls. “They seem to morph overnight from sweet, adorable, loving daughters to impossible teenagers,” says this mother of two girls, 14 and 1, and a boy, 9. “From what I’ve observed, boys give you a bit more warning.”
Girls talk back more.
Scientists have known for some time that the left side of the brain controls language. In the late 1980s, behavioral neurologist Norman Geschwind, MD, speculated that the more fetal testosterone there is, the faster the right side of the brain develops and the slower the left. This may account for the fact that baby girls — who also have the hormone testosterone but generally in far lower concentrations than boys — often speak earlier than baby boys and why, in infancy, girls show more activity in their left brain hemispheres than in their right when listening to speech. The good news is that “girls are more verbal, so you know what they are thinking,” says Jessica Finkbiner, a mother of a daughter, 5, and two sons, 2 and 4 months, from Northridge, California. The downside? “You have to deal with a lot more sass.”
Girls’ bullying can be emotionally harsher.
In Baron-Cohen’s research, both genders exhibit aggression, but in boys it tends to take a more conventional form (physical fighting), whereas in girls, it is usually more subtle, manifesting itself in gossip, social exclusion, and verbal meanness (such as cutting remarks, often made behind the victim’s back).
Perhaps girls are adept at this kind of bullying because they are more tuned in to the emotional lives of other people, and hence understand intuitively the impact — which, according to most moms, is more brutal than a simple blow. “I’ve dealt with property damage and a few broken bones while raising my three sons,” says Ann Douglas, the author of The Mother of All Parenting Books (John Wiley, 2002), whose four children range in age from 6 to 15, “but those things were a breeze compared to the odd-girl-out bullying my daughter endured as a preteen.” What’s more, Douglas says, the aftereffects of a verbal snipe linger far longer than those of a physical bruise.
Of course, raising boys comes with a set of challenges as well. Here are some of the common themes that came up numerous times among mothers:
Boys are aggressive and physical.
Boys go in for rough-and-tumble play, most moms say, and it’s not easy on them or the furniture. “We babyproofed our house when our daughter started to crawl,” says Denver mother of two, Camilla Hayes, “but we didn’t know the meaning of the term until our son came along three years ago. He climbs on every piece of furniture and treats every surface — including the door of the open dishwasher — as a trampoline. I’m constantly worried that he’s either going to kill himself or trash the house.”
In fact, science confirms that testosterone makes the average male brain more prone toward roughhousing than the average female brain. Baron-Cohen believes that here, too, males’ relative lack of empathy may play a role, since they’re less likely to grasp the harm that may come to the person on the receiving end of their high jinks.
Communication can be challenging with a boy.
While some boys talk a blue streak from early on (one of my sons never stops), studies show that in addition to developing verbal skills later than girls, boys generally have a more declarative conversational style, with less give-and-take, than girls. For example, your female-brain child might be more inclined to discuss which Saturday morning cartoon to watch, while your male-brain child may simply state that Pokemon is the better choice. Baron-Cohen also found that vocabulary development among 18- to 24-month-olds was slower for those with a higher level of prenatal testosterone.
Boys turn any activity into a competition. “Everything is a contest with my boys,” says Barbara Fleming of Atlanta, who has two children, “whether it’s who can take a flight of stairs more quickly or who can slurp a drink more loudly. And they don’t just compete with each other. They’re constantly challenging me to arm-wrestling matches or similar games of one-upmanship. Sometimes I try to turn their obsession with winning to my advantage — ‘hey, guys, which one of you can get his pajamas on first?’ — but most of the time I’m just exhausted by it.”
Testosterone figures into this equation as well. According to Baron-Cohen, boys’ disinclination toward empathy means that they have a burning desire to beat the other guy.
Stereotypes Don’t Always Hold Up
“Typical boy behavior” can manifest itself in either sex, and the same goes for “girl behavior.” How difficult you find it has as much to do with your own temperament as your child’s. The key to successful parenting, whatever your child’s gender, is to figure out what makes him tick and how to make his personality work with your own. You also need to recognize that behaviors you find challenging may have positive qualities. For example:
Is he loud and rowdy?
The upside: Your son is physically active and outgoing, two qualities that will stand him in good stead when he’s older. To keep the behavior from driving you crazy in the meantime, kid-proof your house and make sure he gets a good airing out at the park every day. If you’ve got a backyard, require a certain amount of outdoor play time.
Is she always wheedling and trying to talk you into changing your mind?
The upside: Your daughter is persistent, and her verbal adroitness may turn her into a very skillful attorney one day. Until then, try to maintain your cool and do not yield, no matter how fiercely she argues. Instead, engage her in conversations on topics that you both find interesting.
Does she break her delicate toys or take them apart?
The upside: Your daughter may be trying to figure out how they work, a sign of intellectual curiosity. If so, there are toys designed just for this purpose. If it’s simply the joy of smashing that she’s relishing, box them up until she’s ready to keep them intact as she plays.
My Children, Myself
When it comes to assessing which gender is tougher to raise, one should never discount the “grass is always greener” hypothesis. Kathleen Crowley-Long, PhD, professor of psychology at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York, says that in her experience, parents of girls often believe they’re harder while those with boys make the same claim of males. “When I meet parents with both, they respond based on which of their children was most difficult, and they often relate difficulty to the child’s gender. But clearly, there are many other variables involved.”
It’s also true that each mother’s tolerance for certain gender-related traits has as much to do with who she is as with who her child is. One friend of mine with a daughter complains that girls worry too much about appearance. Another friend is frustrated because she can never get her son to change into clean clothes. (She’d find a girl who insists on frilly dresses a welcome relief.) In my case, I’m a low-key person who is sensitive to loud noises, so I was initially thrown by my high-energy, weapon-loving sons (I’ve finally figured out that we do the best outside). I wonder, too, since so many of the mothers I spoke to seem to find boys easier, whether many of us see in our daughters the gender-based traits we dislike in ourselves and therefore tend to react more negatively.
The bottom line is that raising children is hard work, regardless of gender. “From everything I’ve witnessed, children’s unique characteristics stem from their temperament and how their parents raise them,” says observant mother Susan Prestel, of Boise, Idaho. “I don’t believe gender has much impact. Some kids are just more challenging than others, and for those, parents have to work together, adjusting their style accordingly.”
“Parents should be aware of each child’s abilities and dispositions and focus on developing them in positive directions,” agrees Crowley-Long, “instead of basing expectations on what they think girls and boys are like.” In other words, whether you’re raising a male or female, there’s always more than enough difficulty to go around. So every parent should look for the joy buried in the tough stuff and run with it.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, May 2004.
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