A restaurant is first an foremost, a public place. It has rules of behaviour and etiquette. Learning how to act in different situations and places is important for children. Which is why you should read the following article that shares with us 8 ways to enjoy eating at restaurants with your kids: http://www.parents.com/kids/development/social/eating-at-restaurants-with-kids/
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8 Ways to Enjoy Eating at Restaurants With Kids
By Kirsten Matthew
Are you ready to let your child dine in a public setting? Try these techniques for a peaceful restaurant experience.
Some restaurants across the country have started banning children or implementing “No Screaming” and “Be Respectful” edicts for pint-size diners. Sure, kids can be unruly at mealtimes and they can make eating out less than relaxing for everyone in the dining room. But how do you teach kids to behave in a restaurant if they’re not welcome? Learning how to act in different situations is important for children — it improves their confidence and helps them develop social skills– and proper restaurant behavior at a young age gets them off to a good start. Whether you have a toddler or an older child, see if she’s ready to begin eating out in a restaurant. Prepare her by trying these helpful techniques for a stress-free outing.
1. Make Sure Kids Are Welcome
Not all restaurants embrace children; some are explicit about that, others are not. Play it safe and call ahead. This is a good opportunity to check that there is a children’s menu or something on the regular menu that your kids will eat. Some places will tailor dishes if they don’t have a children’s menu or leave out ingredients that are too complicated. Others go out of their way to accommodate small customers, with stroller check-in and portable DVD players to keep them entertained.
“Mealtimes are so important for families, especially in cities where everyone is short on time,” says Marc Murphy, who, as chef and owner of the Landmarc restaurants in New York City, has made his eateries both adult- and child-friendly. “I have kids, and I wanted to create restaurants that welcome families and that have enough stuff for kids to eat, but that don’t make adults feel like they’re eating at Chuck E. Cheese’s.” Just don’t wait until you’re sitting at a table to find that out.
2. Ease Slowly Into Fine Dining
If this is your first foray into dining out with the little ones, choose somewhere nice, not too fancy, and family-friendly. In the beginning, order just one course (skip the appetizers and desserts). “Most parents can gauge what their children can handle,” says Jessica Ritz, creator of Taster Tots LA (tastertotsla.com), a blog that lists child-friendly restaurants with adult-friendly food in Los Angeles. “By a certain age, some kids enjoy dining role-play too, like placing a cloth napkin in their laps.” Murphy adds, “Don’t underestimate your kids — they really enjoy being treated like adults!”
3. Eat Early
An overtired or over-hungry child is no fun for anyone, so hit your favorite spot in the midafternoon, after your little one has had a nap, or while the Early Bird Special is still available. The restaurant will be quieter, you’ll be less likely to disturb other diners, the waitstaff will be less frazzled, and (best of all) your child won’t be exhausted. “There’s no such thing as being too early to eat dinner in a restaurant with kids, especially if they are very young,” Ritz advises. A 5:00 or 5:30 p.m. dinner also means staying on track with evening routines and allotting extra time in case the evening’s plans get derailed.
4. Pack Your Own Distractions
Just in case boredom or restlessness sets in, pack a few toys, books, tools for coloring, or anything that will keep your kids quiet and won’t make noise that will distract other diners. Murphy cautions against electronics, though. “Coloring is fine, but please leave the iPads, iPods, DS games, and any other electronic device at home, Parents want peace and quiet when they eat, but the way to get that to happen is not to reinforce that children will get to watch a movie if they scream loud enough,” he says. Even though Ritz agrees that a low-tech outing will pay off in the end, she admits to pulling out the iPhone in moments of desperation.
5. Explain Expectations
Before you leave home, tell your kids what kind of behavior you want to see at the restaurant as a sign of respect to other diners. Even if your child is too young to understand, try to convey what you can or demonstrate what you expect. Expectations may vary from parent to parent, but children of all ages should be told to sit up at the table, keep the noise down, use good manners, and eat their meal with utensils.
Explain how long the outing will be (45 minutes is a reasonable goal if you’re just starting out) and explain that no running, shouting, or throwing food will be tolerated. “I can’t stand it when parents let their kids run around a restaurant because ‘they’re just kids,'” Murphy says. “That’s not a fun dining experience for anyone. If you don’t tell your kids how they should behave, they’ll never learn and you’ll spend more time chasing and reprimanding them than eating dinner.”
6. Think About Seating
Request a corner table rather than one in the middle of the room or ask your server where the least conspicuous spot in the dining room is. Your kids will be out of the way of other diners and more contained in a private area. This will also help keep any kids’ noises or disturbances from being too noticeable and make the overall experience more enjoyable.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Discipline
If your children act up, act on it, but try not to make a scene. “The sound of loud kids is only surpassed by the voices of stressed-out parents trying to restore order,” Ritz points out. Remove upset tots from the table as soon as their behavior gets disruptive and take them into the bathroom or outside to calm down. But be prepared to leave if you can’t restore order. Your fellow diners and the staff will appreciate your consideration if you ask very nicely for your meal to be wrapped up to go, and stop the mayhem and take the meltdowns home instead.
8. Always Say “Thanks”
“What better setting for adults to model and teach good manners than in restaurants?” Ritz asks. Take the opportunity to explain how important it is to say “please” and “thank you” to waiters when making a request and to say “thank you” again to the restaurant host at the end of the meal. If the kids are old enough, teach them about tipping for good service, and get them to help count out the tip. “If you can spare a minute before you leave, make an effort to tidy up your area a bit,” Ritz says. “Especially if it’s a place you want to eat at again!”
Kirsten Matthew is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, New York Post, InStyle.com, and NYmag.com. You can read her blog at kirstenmatthew.com/blog.
Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.
This is a sensible and, in a way, unpleasant topic. Unfortunately, traumatic events happen. With the constant hum of newsfeeds and social media, we are always aware of them, and so are our children. Kids are emotional, they worry more because their feelings are amplified by innocent imagination. As parents, it is our duty to guide them through unpleasant events that can leave a mark on their minds.
We found an article that might be of help, click on it, or continue reading it below on this page: http://www.parentscanada.com/family-life/how-to-talk-to-your-kids-about-traumatic-events
How to talk to your kids about traumatic events
By Sara Dimerman, Psychologist on February 16, 2016
It used to be a rare occasion that I would be called upon to offer an opinion or advice on how to talk to kids about a traumatic event. Unfortunately, the calls are no longer so rare, as our normally safe world is threatened by people determined to scare, hurt – even kill – those around us. Our little ones are not immune to the fear.
In an attempt to prepare for heinous acts or even benign threats, the very places that children see as safe havens away from home, have implemented drills to prepare students and staff in the event that they need to react quickly. Lockdown drills are common in schools, for example. If a crime is in progress in the neighbourhood, students are locked in their classrooms and told to stay away from the door.
Even though preparation is important, it can also engender fear and panic in young minds. Today, unlike the way that most of us grew up, little children feel a greater need for vigilance. And beyond this, catastrophic events – being reported in a much more pervasive way than 20 years ago – highlight the belief that the world is not entirely safe. Even young children are exposed to this news via social media, or as a result of hearing it from an older sibling. This has resulted in more children manifesting anxiety at an even younger age than years ago.
Despite our awareness that the world does not feel quite as safe as it did when many of us were children (maybe we were simply less aware of bad news without the constant hum of newsfeeds and social media), there are still ways for us to help our children feel protected and safe.
- Note When People Help Others During Difficult Times: This helps illustrate that there are many more good people to balance, or even outweigh, the bad.
- Note That Calm Usually Outweighs Chaos: As frightening as the event is, remind kids that there are still more calm days than chaotic ones. Remind your child that this type of event hardly ever happens (even though you might worry that it’s happening more often than before). Young kids don’t need to know the whole truth, especially when it’s so important for them to feel safe and secure.
- Let Kids Know Adults Have a Plan: Even though we prepare kids to know what to do in an emergency, we can remind them that adults will lead the way and that they can rest assured that they will not have to be in charge.
- Expand Kids’ Circle of Trusted Adults: Kids feel safer knowing that we are not the only adults who can help them. So, when you don’t arrive on time to pick your child up after school he doesn’t panic. He knows he can ask the teacher or principal for help. He knows he can call a neighbour, a family member or your best friend. Knowing that there are several reliable and accessible adults can help create a wider safety net and make your child feel more secure.
- Turn Off the News: It is our job to cut the news feed after a short while when our children are with us, especially if the crisis is ongoing. We need to be aware of how we talk about the event when our children are present, and how they are taking in the information.
Through The Ages
- Preschoolers: Very young children, especially those with younger or similar aged siblings, are more protected from the wildfire nature of bad news spreading across a school playground, for example. This, along with your conscious awareness of when and how to talk about any traumatic event, will protect very young children from worrying about them.
- School Aged: Once children begin attending school, they will start to hear about news and current events before you can tell them. In addition, some teachers may bring news events into the classroom with the best of intentions. Some children may respond to these events more emotionally than others. Watch for any change in your child’s moods and keep up on what is going on around them when they are not in your care. Then, try to deescalate the situation by helping your child feel that the world is mostly a safe place.
- Teens: It’s virtually impossible (pun intended) to keep your older child away from social media. So, don’t be surprised if he or she brings recent news events to your attention. Rather than having to wait for the next newscast or newspaper to be printed, we now get second by second broadcasts as they happen. This has many advantages but can also create a greater need for hyper vigilance and anxiety as your teen experiences and tries to process the news. Try to be aware of social media apps so that you keep up with your older child’s world.
Sara Dimerman is a psychologist, author and parenting expert in the Greater Toronto Area. Read more at helpmesara.com.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, February/March 2016.
Parents typically respond intuitively to cues from their child, picking them up when they cry, talking to them when they are excited. What many parents don’t know, is that by simply responding to their baby’s cues, they are helping their newborn child’s brain develop.
Check the following article to discover 10 activities to help your baby’s brain development: https://www.parentscanada.com/baby/10-activities-to-help-your-baby-s-brain-development
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To illustrate what brain growth looks like, Dr. Clinton holds her hands six inches apart and moves her fingers about like tentacles to show what a baby’s neuropathways look like at birth. Slowly she brings her fingers closer together until they are touching. Then she overlaps her fingers and neatly clasps her hands together. This represents how stimulation affects a fully formed brain. These are the top 10 activities that will help build your baby’s brain.
Baby researchers have a term for the simple interplay between a parent and child. They call it “the serve and return” because, says Dr. Clinton, it’s like a game of tennis in which you play back and forth. “When they look at you, you respond by smiling or talking. That’s just what we know how to do as parents. You don’t need fancy tablets or flash cards. You just need to connect with your child.”
“Touch is a primal need,” says Dr. Clinton. That’s why babies love to be held. The late Clyde Hertzman, who was director of the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) and Canada Research Chair in Population Health and Human Development at UBC, said touching also helps babies begin to define their boundaries. “There is evidence to show that children who were neglected and not touched have real trouble defining where their personal boundaries begin.” Clyde said even the simple motion of picking a child up and putting them down is an important touch for babies. “They begin to be able to intuitively define where the self ends and where the non-self begins, where their body ends and where the next persons begins.”
At some point all children learn the game of throwing food over the side of their highchair and watching mom or dad pick it up. Through this simple game babies are learning about action and reaction and how to interact with their environment. “They love the anticipation of peekaboo,” says Dr. Clinton. “It’s all about cause and effect and object permanence. You’re teaching them that even when you don’t see me, I’m still here. That’s hugely important.”
Babies also like things to be predictable, says Adele Diamond, Canada Research Chair Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia and B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. “They LOVE seeing their actions produce an effect and being able to re-produce that again and again, like kicking or pulling the string of a mobile to see it move or pressing on a button to make a buzzer sound.” Adele suggests giving babies challenges that make them work hard but that are still doable. For example, between eight and 12 months, you can place a desired object where the baby can see it, but out of reach, under a cloth, or behind a transparent pane. The baby needs to figure out that getting the object requires pulling on the cloth or reaching around the barrier.
Reading to your baby is one of the most powerful things you can do because it is multi-sensorial, says Dr. Clinton. “When you hold and rock your child while you are reading, it involves sight, hearing, touch and smell.” Studies show newborns even recognize books their mothers read aloud while they were pregnant.
The sensory experience of soothing water can help boost brain development. For an added bonding bonus, climb into the tub with baby to maximize precious skin-to-skin contact.
Introducing different scents can be a fun way to stimulate your baby’s brain development. Try applying lavender lotion during a nightly massage or take a trip to the garden to smell the flowers.
Parents often receive mixed messages about when and how often to respond to their crying baby. Crying is a response to stress for a baby and is the only way they have to communicate. When we pick them up, says Dr. Clinton, we are teaching them that the world is there for them, so don’t secondguess your instinct to pick them up. Babies who get picked up and soothed will likely cry less because they’re developing their own self-soothing techniques, said Clyde. “Children are influencing their environment right off the bat and you responding to the cues they’re giving is a huge thing. It’s telling them that you hear what they are saying.”
Studies show that, regardless of culture, men play differently with children than women, and babies benefit from both kinds of play. “While women tend to cuddle with baby, men tend to pick baby up, hold them out front and walk their fingers along them from the bottom to the top,” says Dr. Clinton. “It’s terrific because mom is soothing and dad activates excitement so the little one hears dad’s voice and gets excited.” This applies to grandpas, uncles and male friends, too.
By talking to your baby, you are helping them develop their vocabulary even when they’re infants. “All that babbling and cooing that’s going on early, that’s the child’s prelanguage skills developing,” said Clyde. “Babies express their needs and start to communicate in a variety of ways. Parents need to recognize that’s communication.” Studies have shown that the number of words a child learns by the age of three grows in direct correlation to how many words are spoken in the home.
Cuddling with your baby is as important as being active with them. “Don’t make it all about language and brain,” said Clyde. As with so much parenting advice, it’s all about balance. “If we’re frantically saying to new parents that they have to make every single moment count, their presence is being stolen by their anxiety. When you’re connecting with your child, think about what you’re doing with your child as a person, not about whether you’re building your child’s brain.”
Denise Davy has written extensively about children’s mental health, and recently won a journalism award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to study the link between poverty and children’s mental health.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, May/June 2013.
Kids can be perfectionists too! While this certainly isn’t a bad thing, sometimes it can lead to a child’s frustration. At home, at school, looking up to parents, teachers and other classmates – it can create highly raised standards for oneself.
This source will provide you with advises on how to help kids achieve the sense of balance between striving hard and being too hard on him/her-self: http://www.parents.com/kids/development/social/perfectionist-child/
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By Tamekia Reece from Parents Magazine
Children this age think that they should be able to do everything exactly right all the time. Help your child understand that making mistakes is part of life.
A few months into kindergarten last year, I thought that my son Darren’s handwriting looked awesome — so much better than the barely recognizable letters on his preschool papers. He had a different opinion: It was “terrible” because it didn’t exactly match the examples his teacher wrote. I wouldn’t have been as concerned about his criticism if it were an isolated incident. But just weeks before the penmanship problem, he’d had a melt-down when he couldn’t remember all the stances from his first karate class. And when he recently had to draw a volcano for a homework assignment, he burst into tears and crumpled the paper because his rendition didn’t “look like the ones on TV.”
I chatted with Darren’s teacher and a couple of child-development experts because I was concerned that his behavior might be a sign of low self-esteem. What I was relieved to find out: It’s perfectly normal for some children his age to become obsessed with doing everything perfectly and start comparing themselves with their classmates, their teachers, and even you. “In kindergarten and first grade, many kids think there is one right way to do things, and everything else is wrong,” says Peter Stavinoha, Ph.D., a child psychologist at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. “They have a hard time understanding why they don’t have the same skills as their classmates or even adults and why they can’t master something immediately.” So you have some explaining to do. Use these expert tips to help your mini perfectionist strike that delicate balance between striving hard and being too hard on himself.
Compliment the Process
Think about how you praise your child. Maybe you say things like, “Wow, I’m so proud that your team won the soccer game!” or “You tied your shoes perfectly.” When you constantly focus on the end result rather than the journey, your kid will think that success is what really matters to you, explains Michele Borba, Ed.D., Parents advisor and author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions. Instead, help her realize that enjoying an activity and learning from it are much more important than winning or losing. Next time, emphasize your child’s effort (“You’re working so hard on drawing your picture for Grandma’s birthday”) or how much fun she’s having (“It looks like you had a great time playing Chutes and Ladders with your friend”). It won’t take long for your child to realize that playing for enjoyment can be just as much fun as winning.
Let Your Kid Make Mistakes
Darren writes his letters and numbers backwards once in a while. I used to point out the error immediately, but now I usually don’t say a word — even if the mistake is on a homework sheet that he has to hand in for school. “When you’re always correcting your kid’s mistakes, he’ll think that you want him to be perfect,” says Wendy S. Grolnick, Ph.D., coauthor of Pressured Parents, Stressed-Out Kids. “On the flip side, if you allow your child to turn in schoolwork that is truly his own, he can get comfortable with constructive feedback from the teacher. That will help give him the confidence that he can succeed without your help.”
Dare Not to Compare
It’s natural to want to know how your child is doing in relation to her classmates or even siblings — after all, you’ve probably been making comparisons since she was born. But try not to talk about it in front of her. When you say things like “Your painting was the best at the open house,” or “Jamie learned how to ride her bike without training wheels when she was your age,” you’re simply fueling your kid’s desire to do things perfectly. Sure, you need to know if your kid is on track developmentally, but save your comments for your child’s teacher or pediatrician.
Keep It Real
If your child thinks she should be able to get the hang of a sport or grasp a new math concept the first time out, she’s setting herself up for disappointment, says Dr. Borba. Use your family’s experiences to help her understand that even people she admires weren’t always as good at something as they are now. For instance, encourage your kid to ask her T-ball coach how long he’s been playing the game. Or talk to the dentist about how many years of school it took to get his degree. Also pick up a few kid-oriented biographies at the library. Two good picks to read along with your child: You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! and Who Was Walt Disney?
Finger-painting, Legos, Play-Doh, sand art, and other open-ended projects are ideal for helping young perfectionists chill out. Because there’s no right or wrong result, these activities foster something that’s important for all children to learn: There are usually many different ways to do things.
Point Out Your Own Imperfections
If you tell a kindergartner that he can’t be perfect, he’ll take it personally. He doesn’t realize that you mean no one can be perfect. To help him understand, note your own goof-ups, like when you accidentally spill the juice or forget to put something on your grocery-shopping list. “It’s helpful for kids to see that everyone makes errors,” says Dr. Stavinoha. Then model how to deal with your gaffes because children will watch your reaction. “Rather than getting upset about something that went wrong, convey to your child that mistakes are just part of learning,” says Dr. Grolnick. “Point out what you could have done differently so it won’t happen again.” It will take a while, but eventually your child will copy your reaction and not get so flustered or frustrated when something doesn’t go the way he’d planned.
Originally published in the November 2011 issue of Parents magazine.
Watching TV is something our children do a lot, maybe even, to often. Yet if you want your child to have better imagination, a more agile mind, and treasured memories of quality time spent with family, then limiting their time in front of the TV might be a good way to start. Your child will become more focused and more physically active. In other words, raising kids without television will improve their quality of life.
If you want to raise “No TV Children” and would like some advises on how to do it, here is an article we recommend: http://www.wikihow.com/Raise-No-TV-Children.
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How to Raise No TV Children
Nowadays it can be very hard to raise a so-called “No TV Kid”. Yet if you want your child to have a better imagination, more free time, and treasured memories of quality time spent with family, getting rid of the TV could be a great option. Moreover, studies link frequent television viewing with obesity, lower academic performance, and other issues, so raising children without television can improve their quality of life. By choosing the right method of ending TV viewing, and by planning alternative activities, you can get your children on board with the idea and enrich their youth.
Part 1. Starting the Lifestyle
1.Explain your concerns.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two do not watch TV at all, and that all other children have no more than one or two hours of screen time per day.Explain to your children that you are trying to do what is best for them, and to encourage healthy habits.
2.Avoid ever introducing a television into your home, if possible.
It can be much easier to raise children with a “no TV” policy if they have never experienced having a television at home. While there will still be temptations to watch TV in other locations, you will start strong by keeping it out of your home.
3.Set a good example.
If you want to raise a no-TV child, then you will have to model good behavior. Whether you completely eliminate television from your child’s life or simply restrict the amount they watch, set your own viewing policy to match the same standards that you set for your child. Showing a good example for your children will make it more likely that they adopt the no-TV lifestyle.
4.Start by removing the television from your child’s room, if there is one.
Studies show that having televisions in childrens’ room can have a detrimental impact on their health and academic success. If you are trying to ease your children off of television, you can begin by taking them out of their rooms; the children could still watch some TV in another room, but this step will already reduce screen time significantly.
5.Go cold turkey.
For some families, starting a no-TV lifestyle “cold turkey” (immediately cutting out all TV without a period of gradual reduction) is too difficult. For others, however, the quickest method will be the easiest. If you want to try going cold turkey, talk to your family ahead of time about the change. Set a date to begin the no-TV life, and stick to it.
- Whether you go cold turkey or make a gradual change, the goal should be to eliminate TV and offer your child more enriching alternatives.
Part 2. Creating Alternatives
1.Reduce the amount of time a child spends watching television.
Studies show that there can be some benefits to watching some amount of television in certain cases. For instance, children that watched certain enriching programs have slightly larger vocabularies, according to some research. Thus, you might decide not to cut out all television right away, but to gradually reduce the amount of time the child is allowed to watch TV.
- For instance, try reducing the amount of TV your child is permitted to watch by one hour per week, until it is zero or almost zero.
- You can also suggest that the whole family watches a movie on television together on the weekend, but ban TV at night during the week.
- Similarly, you might have a rule that no television is permitted until the child completes all homework or chores.
- If you do watch some TV together, talk about it afterwards. This helps increase comprehension, raise vocabulary, and generally promote bonding.
2.Establish “screen-free” zones and times.
If you have not immediately removed all televisions from your household, you can start by deeming certain areas or times to be “screen-free.” For instance, you can establish a rule against watching television at mealtimes, and remove televisions from areas where other activities take place, such as kitchens, dining rooms, or game rooms.
3.Make sure the child has access to non-electronic media and entertainment.
Books, newspapers, games, art supplies, and other items can be immersive, entertaining, and beneficial to a child. Make sure that your child has plenty of access to these more enriching alternatives to television.
4.Plan family and group activities.
There are many, many wonderful opportunities to spend time time together that don’t involve television. You can help your child thrive without TV if you are proactive and plan alternative, group activities ahead of time—especially if you are switching from a lifestyle involving lots of TV viewing to a no-TV one. Good choices include:
- Game nights (the whole family can get together to play a favorite board game)
- Reading out loud
- Playing music
- Visits to the library, zoo, a museum, a park, or other favorite place
- Playing outside with other kids in the neighborhood
- Extracurricular activities (sports, dance, outdoors, crafts, etc.; these are great ways for your child to connect with other children, build confidence and skill, and avoid screen time)
5.Plan individual activities.
There are all kinds of benefits to spending no-TV time together as a family. Children also develop well when they are given time to spend by themselves. Children can benefit from having time to immerse themselves in free reading, drawing or coloring, and other activities.
- Sometimes, you can take a combined approach. For instance, an entire family can read silently together, each person immersed in a book. That way, while everyone is together, they also get to act individually. This sets a good example for your child, and makes great use of no-TV time.
There is a link between obesity and watching large amounts of television, so one of the most beneficial ways to use your and your child’s time instead of watching television is to exercise. Good activities include:
- Games such as tag and hide-and-seek
- A family walk or hike
- Sports (baseball, basketball, etc.)
7.Let your child direct activities.
If your children feels like they have a say in planning the no-TV life, it can be empowering and lead to success. Talk to your children about activities that they might like to try instead of watching TV, and be supportive of the ideas. Set aside time during the week to do the activities your child wants the family to try.
Have fun trying out your child’s ideas, no matter what they are: building a pillow fort, having a tea party, playing with blocks and action figures, etc.
Some kids naturally have tender hearts and cry easily. While this isn’t necessary a bad thing, sometimes it is important to be able to control your emotions. It is a skill every child can learn that will prove useful in his adult life.
Today we chose an article that explains how to help your children if they cry easily: http://www.parents.com/kids/development/social/back-to-school-how-to-help-kids-who-cry-easily/
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How to help kids who cry easily
It’s the rare preschooler who can fully understand his feelings and express them in words, so tears are bound to make an appearance at some point. But if your kid seems to cry more than usual, even over seemingly minor issues, he may just be genetically wired to be extra sensitive. Studies at Harvard University found that the 10 percent or so of babies who were the most upset by new noises and unfamiliar people at 16 weeks old retained their finely tuned emotional smoke alarm as they got older. Adds Parents advisor Michele Borba, Ed.D., author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: “Some children haven’t yet developed that inner brake. When they get upset about something, all their emotions come right to the surface and they get a flash flood of tears.”
Such kids’ ability to feel emotions a little more deeply — while sometimes frustrating to parents — is also something to cherish. “Sensitive children may be overwhelmed by their own feelings, but they’re also very tuned in to how other people feel, and this makes them very empathetic friends,” says Dr. Dunlap.
The Right Reaction
If you’re at a birthday party where all the kids are happily eating cupcakes while your child is weeping because she got a blue one instead of pink, your first instinct may be to quickly make a switch for her. “However, if you jump in right away, she’ll lose confidence in her ability to solve her own problems,” says Dr. Dunlap.
Avoid the urge to tell her to stop crying — which will probably just trigger more tears, says Dr. Borba. Hypersensitive preschoolers are very good at reading their parents’ emotions. If you get tense, it tells your child that whatever is upsetting her really is something to get worked up about — and this models the very behavior you’re trying to change. One way to help your child get control of her emotions is by playfully telling her, “Freeze!” “Freezing helps a child stop and collect herself,” says Dr. Borba. Then suggest that she take a deep breath and blow it out through her mouth the way a dragon would.
Distracting your child by guiding him to another activity is also a powerful tool. “When my daughter was in preschool, it felt like she cried all the time,” says Melissa Morgenlander, of Brooklyn, New York. “One of her teachers suggested that when she felt tears coming, she should count to ten out loud. It’s simple, but it worked — by the time she got to eight or nine, she would always start to smile.” The counting method is a gold standard, agrees Dr. Dunlap. “At age 3 or 4, counting still takes focus and concentration, so whatever was upsetting your child may feel like old news by the time he gets to ten.”
Next, coax your child to tell you exactly what made him unhappy, so you can help him find a remedy. If he says, “I’m sad Joey doesn’t want to play with me,” ask him, “What can you do to make yourself feel better?” If he’s stumped for ideas, remind him of things that make him feel good, like inviting another child over to play or looking at a favorite picture book. With a little practice, he’ll soon start coming up with his own solutions, without any prompting from an adult.
Even kids who aren’t typically teary can go through emotional periods, says Elizabeth Pantley, author of the No-Cry series of parenting books. “If there’s been a recent change such as a move or a new baby, your child may become more sensitive,” she explains. Look over her daily routine: Insufficient sleep or poor eating habits can also be enough to make a preschooler feel irritable. Checking in with your pediatrician can’t hurt: Anything from an undetected chronic ear infection to a slight speech delay could make a kid quick to cry.
Although you might not be able to rewire your child’s sensitive personality, she’ll eventually gain the maturity to monitor her emotions and become more resilient. Believe it or not, peer pressure can be a force for good. “By age 6 or 7, she will probably have fewer bouts of crying, especially when she sees that other children prefer to play with her when she’s not in tears,” says Dr. Dunlap. My own little sniffler is still a sensitive girl at age 10, but she rarely sheds inappropriate tears in public any more. Instead, her deeply felt emotions come out in the way she plays the violin or the kindness she shows when she meets kids with special needs. She’ll even happily share a waffle if you ask.
Originally published in the November 2013 issue of Parents magazine.
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:
As always, we have added the content of the article below.
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.
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