Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Self-efficacy and learning

There are four ways that self-efficacy affects children's behavior and learning. The first way is through the activities children choose to do. Children choose activities they believe they can do and avoid those they think they won't be good at. This is why it is important to let children choose what activities they want to do and to let them try activities they choose. Children won't try to do something they think they can't do, so even though you as the parent may think the child has chosen an activity they can't do, let them try it. No harm can come from allowing a child to try something and I believe it's better to allow children to try to accomplish something even if they fail, than to tell them from the beginning it's something they can't do.

The second way self-efficacy affects children's behavior and learning is through goals. When children have high self-efficacy they set high goals. For example, if a child knows they are good at spelling they'll set high goals in that area such as passing all of their spelling tests or trying out for the spelling bee. Even if the child doesn't make the spelling bee the child will have set and reached their goal of trying out for it.

The third way self-efficacy affects children's behavior and learning is through effort and persistence. When children  work on an activity they have high self-efficacy in they'll apply more effort and be more persistent when obstacles arise. For example, if a child knows they are better at tennis than soccer they'll put more effort into becoming good at tennis rather than soccer. Where a child knows they're better at tennis than soccer when they lose a match or have a bad practice they'll come back and try again and be persistent at being better and meeting their goals. They'll work harder and put the effort into becoming better and doing better at their next practice and match.

The last way self-efficacy affects behavior and learning is in learning and achievement. It's important for children to have a realistic sense of their abilities to accomplish an activity. This helps them know how hard an activity will be for them and how much effort they need to put into an activity and where they may need to ask for help. It helps children know what activities are challenging for them and require their skills to be tested. However, it also helps children grow and develop a positive self-efficacy because they see for themselves they can accomplish activities that are hard for them. For example, if a child knows they aren't very good at science and they have a science project they need to complete they can put their best effort into the project and learn the new skills it will teach them, hone old ones and it will help develop a positive self-efficacy as they accomplish something that was difficult.  Regardless of how the science project turns out the child has learned something about themselves that has developed their self-efficacy.

Developing self-efficacy in children is hard for parents to do. It's hard for parents to see their children struggle and it's easier to do an activity for them. However, to do things for them won't teach the child to be persistent, try, and the child won't learn anything other than the activity is something they can't do. Where it's hard to see children fail it's important to let them and to let them try so they learn to do hard things and reap the reward that comes from accomplishing something hard. Help them develop a positive self-efficacy by encouraging them, guiding them and helping when their frustration level hits the point of needing help and guidance. Self-efficacy is hard to develop but something that will help children succeed in life.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Factors of self-efficacy

Self-efficacy is the ability and willingness to try a task. Five factors of self-efficacy are experience, cultural expectations, gender roles, support for effort and risk taking. The experiences children have are different for each child. Some children grow up experiencing the ability to travel, some children grow up with the experience of volunteering at different events all year long. No matter what a child's experience is though, their experiences effect their self-efficacy. For example, a child may have the ability to and willingness to learn how to make cupcakes, however, if there isn't enough money to buy the ingredients for this type of luxury this experience effects their self-efficacy because the child has to either find a way to get the ingredients and learn how to make cupcakes or accept this isn't a task they will be able to learn until the ingredients can be afforded.

The United States is becoming more culturally diverse. Families bring their cultures with them and raise their children in the same culture they would have if they had stayed in their homeland. Culture expectations can affect a child's self-efficacy as their parents teach them what is culturally expected for them. For example, it is culturally excepted in the U.S for parents to have more than one child, however, in China it is culturally expected to have only one. Therefore, a child in the U.S. may have their self-efficacy determined by culture because where there is more than one child in a family, a child may have to limit the activities they learn to do to only one-such as learning how to play the piano or tennis. However, where a child in China is the only child in the family they may be able to learn three activities that are done by children in China.

Gender roles can affect a child's self-efficacy because even though all children have the ability and willingness to try an activity, society may be telling the child it isn't something they can do because of their gender. For example, for a long time in the U.S. society has told women they can't be senators, president of the U.S. etc. We now have the most women in congress than we ever have. Gender roles should never define what a person should or can do. We should be teaching our children anything is possible if they're willing to put the effort in.

Support for effort effects a child's self-efficacy because if there is no support for the child to learn an activity, the willingness may dissolve even though the ability is there. For example, if a child wants to learn how to ski but is no support from their parents to learn this activity, the ability will always be there but the willingness may not be because the child doesn't have the support of the parents to take them to lessons, to pay for them or to teach them themselves. However, if parents support their children in their effort to learn something new and take the child to ski lessons and pays for them or takes the time and puts in the effort to teach their child themselves, the support the child needs to learn how to ski is present and a child can accomplish a goal because they have the support they need to accomplish it.

Children like to take risks. What is important is that parents teach children to take risks that are appropriate. For example, it's not an appropriate risk to climb on the roof of the house and see how far they can jump. However, it is appropriate to put the child in track and field and have them learn pole vaulting. Risk taking effects a child's self-efficacy because a parent can either support the risks their children want to take and make sure those risks are done in a safe environment or a parent can tell their children they're incapable and not allow them to take even appropriate risks because of dangers that may or may not be present.

It is important for parents to develop self-efficacy in their children and allow them to learn how to do certain activities. A parent can guide a child to help them pick activities that are appropriate by helping them choose activities in areas that the parents know they are good at. For example, if a child is always tumbling and jumping the parents can guide the child into thinking about doing gymnastics. It's important for parents to let their children learn new things so they teach their children the world is a safe place, not a place to be feared. Allowing children to learn new things will also help develop the child's talents and help them know what skills they are good at so they know where to focus when it comes time to go to college and think of a career.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Building autonomy part 2

Sorry it's been a while since my last post. The company I had internet with went out of business and I had to find a new company and wait until I could get internet hooked up with my new internet carrier. In my last post I talked about building autonomy and mentioned I would discuss steps to build autonomy in a child in my next post. So... here are three steps to build autonomy in a child.

Every child struggles to build autonomy. One way a parent can recognize their children are struggling with the development of autonomy is to provide training, resources, modeling and supervision to children as they develop autonomy. The way children struggle to develop autonomy is different. Some children are very independent and don't want much help from their parents as they try to figure out how to do a task such as putting their shoes on. Other children will ask for the help that they need. A parent models developing autonomy by learning how to do new things themselves and has their children see the effort they put into learning something new.  To acknowledge that a child wants to figure out a problem (such as how to put their shoes on) for themselves and allowing them to is a parent recognizing a child's struggle for autonomy. Where putting shoes on requires little supervision, a child wanting to learn how to make brownies does. This requires a parent's supervision as a child may not be old enough to use the oven themselves yet. A parent develops autonomy as a parent lets a child hit the button to warm the oven to the temperature the brownies need to be cooked at. They provide resources as they get the ingredients for the brownies and supervision to use the oven correctly.

A second way to recognize that children are struggling to develop autonomy is to learn best practices for supporting the development of autonomy in children. To learn best practices for supporting the development of autonomy in children is to allow children to do things for themselves. Children want to learn how to put the shapes in the shape sorter and how to build with Legos etc. Sure it will take them longer to do it, however, they're learning important skills that will help them later in life as they learn to do things for themselves and solve the problem of where each shape goes. When a parent allows a child to figure these things out for themselves the parent is teaching the child they can do anything and that they as the parent will teach them how to build a building with the Legos or how to do anything else the child needs or wants to learn how to do for themselves.

The last way a parent can recognize that their children are struggling to develop autonomy is to learn how to communicate with their children in order to support the development of autonomy. A parent does this by giving their children choices such as allowing the child to  decide whether they do their homework before or after dinner. It also means helping children when the parent sees that they're frustrated. For example, a child may be getting frustrated because they can't get the shapes in the shape sorter. The parent helps a child develop autonomy through communicating with the child by telling the child which way to turn it and showing and explaining to them what they may be doing 'wrong' and how to fix it.

A parents major task in developing autonomy is to help children be safe and learn appropriate social and behavior skills. Parents should be encouraging a child's effort to try something, not shaming them. A parent should be developing autonomy by teaching children how to do things so that they can do the activity themselves next time, not destroying their autonomy by teaching them they are incapable.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Building autonomy part 1

When a child starts to be more independent and self-directed is when a child is building their autonomy. Children are choosing more for themselves, what they want to play with and begin to show more interests in what they like and don't like. A toddler shows signs of being autonomous when they begin to discover their sense of self and who they are. This is why it's important that adult interactions with toddlers-or any child for that matter- be done with warmth, flexibility and respect. Toddlers discover their sense of self and who they are as they feed themselves and push a parent's hand away because they want to do it or get mad at a parent when they try to get them to play with a toy they don't have an interest in playing with. A parent shows warmth to the child by allowing the child to feed themselves and saying something like, "That's fine, you do it." A parent shows flexibility as they play what the child wants to play with and shows respect as the parent doesn't try to get the child to play with what they want the child to play with.

Jean Piaget had two stages he thought applied to understanding the battle for autonomy. They are sensorimotor stage and preoperational stage. The sensorimotor stage occurs from birth to age two and is when children are developing ideas about the world by combining sensory and physical activities. An example of this is obstacle courses. The preoperational stage occurs from two to seven years old and is when children represent past experiences through dramatic play, language or art. An example of this is when a child gives a 'shot' to a doll.

Building a child's autonomy is one of the hardest parts of being a parent. It's hard to find the balance between helping a child become who they want to become and helping a child understand where their abilities and strengths are. In the next post I'll discuss some steps to help build autonomy in a child.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How a Child's Environment Supports Initiative

The environment a child lives in should support a child's efforts in developing initiative. A supportive environment should provide opportunities for discovery. For example, a parent can use an empty tissue box to put things in such as ripped tissue paper or toys that are small enough to fit in the tissue box. I personally love boxes and like to fill a child's environment with boxes. Boxes provide discovery through putting objects in them, coloring or painting them or giving a child something to crawl through. One last way the environment can support discovery is by switching out toys every so often. Put toys children seem to be bored with away for a month and put out new ones, then bring the ones that were put away back out. It's like having new toys to children.

A child's environment should provide sensitive support. For example, toddlers need furniture to help them stand up and practice balance on and to move through. Toddlers need their environments to support what they're trying to do physically. Older children need their environments to support the ability to do art projects they're working on such as a table that parents don't mind getting messy that is placed in a space that parents don't mind getting messy and that is easy to clean. Children need room to move around to play without being worried about breaking furniture.

A child's environment should encourage friendships. For example, a place to play away from siblings and materials to play games children play such as Legos or balls to play soccer, basketball etc. Children need the opportunity to play indoors and outdoors and both of these environments should provide children the opportunity to show initiative. For example, if a child wants to learn to bake cookies, the kitchen should become an environment that encourages this goal. The kitchen will need an apron small enough for a child to wear, a stool for the child to be able to reach the counter and adult supervision. If a child is outdoors and wants to draw on the sidewalk, a parent needs to make sure the child has sidewalk chalk to use to draw on the sidewalk or bikes to ride if a child wants to ride a bike.

The last way a child's environment can support initiative is by having time for the children to have free play. Free play is when a child is able to choose what they want to play with and who they want to play with. This type of play is what children participate in most of the day however, as children get older and begin to have sports practice, piano lessons, school, etc it's important to find time for children to be able to participate in free play. To do this parents need to make sure the house has crayons, markers and other  art supplies, games available to play that are age appropriate, books where the children can reach them etc, so that whatever a child may choose to do, they know where to find the materials for the task and take the initiative to choose what to do with their time. The parent also needs to make sure their children's schedules aren't so busy that free play can't occur. Make sure there are times in a child's day that allow them to participate in free play rather than scheduling every minute of a day.

Initiative is important for a child to learn, so parents need to make sure their children have choices in order to take initiative in what they learn and do and don't make all of their choices for them.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

6 types of play

Play is an important part of childhood. Playing is a child's job and how children learn. They learn social skills, how to problem solve and the importance of sharing. Mildred Parten was a sociologist and researcher at the University of Minnesota's Institute of Child Development. She came up with six types of play children participate in. They are: onlooker play, solitary play, parallel play, associate play, cooperative play and imaginative play.

Onlooker play is when children watch other children play and don't join in the play themselves. Most children will participate in onlooker play, but can be encouraged to engage in play if an adult or other child helps them. For example if an adult sits beside them and plays along with them the first few minutes a child can be encouraged to start to play. I had a child that participated in onlooker play at the second center I worked at.  All children participate in onlooker play but this child was a little different. Where most children can be encouraged to play, this child couldn't. If I asked her if she wanted to play in the sandbox she would shake her head, if I asked her if she wanted to play in the sensory table she would shake her head no. All she did most of the day was stand by me and watch the other children play. I would talk to her as she stood beside me about what the other  children were doing and what she thought about it and would always ask if she wanted to join in, but she always said no, so we just talked about what they were doing and I engaged her through conversation instead. Children are learning more than adults think when they're observing other children play so don't be concerned if you have a child who participates in this kind of play more than the other types.

Solitary play is just like it sounds, it's play that is done by oneself. Solitary play is done mainly by children birth to two years old. A child will sit by a parent and play by themselves but if the parent gets up and walks away the child will follow the parent. Parallel play is when children play beside one another but are still focused on what they're playing with, not on what the child next to them is doing. The children know they are playing beside someone but they are not engaged with that person in any way and are playing with different toys.

Associative play is when children enjoy playing with one another but don't know how to. For example, if children are sitting in a sandbox and a child is putting sand in their diaper instead of a pail, another child in the sandbox who sees this will put the sand in their diaper too instead of a pail. A child does this because they don't know how to play in appropriate ways and need to be taught how what appropriate play is. Cooperative play is when children engage in activities with other children and use roles and scripts when playing that determines what they're going to play based on roles. For example, someone is the fireman, someone is the policeman and someone is the person who needs to be rescued. Imaginative play is when children use materials and objects for expression. For example, when children build a fort and pretend it's a space shuttle.

An important part of play is being able to share. There are three stages of development to sharing. The first one is when children think everything is 'Mine.' It's referred to the 'mine' stage because children call everything 'mine.' The second stage of sharing is when children discover some things belong to others. For example, if a child takes a toy that belongs to them over to a friends house and the toy gets left on the table and a younger sibling sees the toy, the younger sibling will take the toy to the friend and give it to them. The third stage of sharing is when children understand they can lend a toy to a friend and get it back.  Regardless of age, if a child is tired or cranky for some reason, they can temporarily go back to the first stage of sharing.

Children participate in all six stages of play as they grow and each stage teaches them different skills and appropriate social skills.  Children will also at some time or another go through each developmental stage of sharing. Children will participate in each stage of play and go through each stage of sharing at their own pace as children develop at different rates. Play helps children develop dexterity skills and learn leadership skills along with many other life skills they need to understand and develop. This is why it's important not to interrupt play unnecessarily. What looks like play to an adult is really children learning and developing life skills.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Language Development

During the infant/toddler years is when language development occurs. It begins with infants cooing and mimicking sounds parents and siblings make and grows into babbling. When a child turns one they use gestures and grunts to communicate. During the toddler years a parent can use basic sign language to help their child communicate. Where toddlers lack the words needed to communicate they use gestures to instead. This can be confusing and frustrating for parents as they may not know what the child is pointing at or what the gesture means. When parents teach toddlers to use sign language the toddler can use the sign to communicate what they want instead and when the sign is used along with the word it helps toddlers grow their vocabulary and be able to communicate. Some basic signs parents can teach their children are water, milk, please, thank you or read.

Ways parents can encourage a child's language skills are to first find constructive and sensitive ways to encourage language development (sign language does this). Parents can encourage any attempt to say a word and use a variety of language in conversation and word games. When parents talk to their children about what they're doing it encourages language in a variety of ways because when you talk to your children while preparing dinner is different than when you're interacting with them. Language is used for a variety of purposes such as to give directions, encourage, warn or used when a parent is talking while changing a diaper. How a parent speaks in each situation is different and helps develop language.

Other ideas parents can do to develop language skills is to read to your children, sing songs and listen to music. Both reading and music develop language skills because they repeat sounds and syllables. Be patient with your children as they learn to communicate with words. They're going to make what appears to be mistakes, but be patient with them. They're learning and are just as frustrated as you when they can't communicate what they want. Don't insist they get it right and particularly not the first time. Your child will get it and they're understanding far more than they're expressing. At this stage it's about the attempt and development of their vocabulary not  being able to say a word correctly yet. Don't worry about that until around age three.

Here is a link about basic words to use using sign language for a baby.

Baby sign language quick start

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

9 factors concerning separation anxiety

There are nine factors of separation anxiety a parent needs to focus on in order to make separation as easy as possible. The first one is that parents need to plan to spend time with their children in a new setting in  order to help them with the transition. The new setting can be a new child care center, Grandma and Grandpa's house or an Aunt or Uncle's house. To the children, all of these places are new unless they visit frequently. A child will stay by the parent in the new setting because the parent gives the child somebody who is safe while they explore the new enviornment. Don't push the child, let them do it at their own rate.

The second factor of separation anxiety is that the babysitter, Grandma, Aunt, Uncle etc should  provide the parents with specific ideas for the separation process. For example, Grandma can tell the parents to tell the child good-bye, then Grandma is going to take the child to see the new coloring book they bought for the child. The third factor is that the parents should gradually move away from the child. A parent will do this naturally-it's instinct. Parents move away slowly to check on the child every few feet and make sure they're doing all right.

The fourth factor is that parents should leave immediately once they say good-bye. This is hard if the child is screaming or reaching for the parent, but staying only drags the process out and makes the separation harder. Go ahead and leave and ask the babysitter, Grandma whomever to call or text you when the child has calmed down. This eliviates the worry the parents are feeling and they then know the child is fine and can enjoy themselves or concentrate on work. The fifth factor is to ask your children if it's all right that you leave.This seems silly but it's important. When parents ask if they can leave they're showing respect to their child and their feelings.

The sixth factor of separation anxiety is to not shame your child and to make sure the babysitter, Grandparents or anyone else doesn't either. To shame a child dismisses how they feel and how they feel is important and real. The emotions they're feeling are real and intense. Acknowledge them and reassure them that you as the parents will be back and when- after dinner, before bedtime, whenever it may be. The seventh factor is that the babysitter, Grandma or whoever is taking care of the child should offer to call, text or send an email to say how the child adjusted and reassure the parent the child is fine.

The eighth factor is that sometimes parents need help making the transition and separating from the child. When this happens don't be afraid to ask for help to make the separation. Also, realize that when this is occuring, that the only thing to do may be to hug the child, give them a kiss, hand them over to whoever will be taking care of them in your absence and leave and know that they're going to be fine. The ninth factor is to get reassurance that you still have a strong bond with your child. Sometimes a child spends so much time at day care, with a nanny, a family member who is taking care of the child while the parents work, that the parents begin to feel the child has a better relationship with the other caregiver than with them. Be reassured this only will happen if you pull away from the child, stop spending quality time with them and stop trying to have a relationship with them.

Separating from your child will always be hard. You love your child and the child loves you. It will never be easy to be apart. Use these nine factors to make separating as easy as possible and know you'll reunite by the end of the day.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Separation anxiety

 Separation anxiety can occur at any age however, it's during the infant/toddler years when children experience the highest level of separation anxiety. There are three reasons why children don't like separating from their parents. The first one is they enjoy being with their parents so when they leave it makes them sad. The second reason is because they're attached to their parents. They've formed a bond with their parents and know their needs will be met. The third reason is because the babysitter, child care giver, whoever is unknown to the child. This causes children anxiety as they wonder whether they'll be taken care of and if the unknown person will do everything the parents do to take care of them. This is why the first thing a caregiver needs to do is gain the trust of the child. Once a caregiver has earned the child's trust the caregiver can help build competence, confidence and self-assurance in the child.

Separation and attachment are affirmations of love. The attachment a child has with a parent seems to be an effective way of dealing with stress. When a child feels stress they can handle it better because of the attachment they have to their parents because the attachment provides a sense of security and safety to the child. An example of this is when a new baby is born or the family moves to a new home. Either of these events can affect how  a child deals with separation. When a situation occurs that affects a child's sense of security they need to learn nothing has changed with their relationship to their parents. Once a child knows this they can feel secure and safe again and their emotions lower to a level more appropriate for the child's age.

Next time we'll discuss the nine factors a parent needs to address concerning separation anxiety.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Six dimensions of parenting

Jay Belsky  is an expert in child development and family studies. He is the director of child study and human development at Tufts University. He came up with six dimensions of parenting. The first one is attentiveness which is paying attention to your child. Children need attention and LOTS of it and will often demand it. An infant demands it when they cry, an older child may put their hands on a parents face and move the parents face so that the parent is looking at them, a primary grade age child may simply say, "Mom/Dad pay attention to me or Look at me or Watch me." Regardless of the way the child gets a parents attention the child will get the parents attention.

The second dimension is physical contact which is holding and cuddling an infant. As they grow children will come sit on a parents lap uninvited and move what's in the way in order to sit. Physical contact helps teach children about how to treat people. For example if a parent uses physical abuse to show love, the child learns love is shown through abuse. If a parent gives hugs and kisses and cuddles with the child, the child learns love is expressed through hugs, kisses and cuddles. They then learn to treat people the say way.

The third dimension is verbal stimulation which is talking to them. Even as an infant a parent should be talking to their child. This is the beginning of learning how to socialize and that people take turns to speak. A child then learns to speak using words and parents wonder why they spent so much time and effort getting them to speak because now their children won't be quiet! Children have many important things to say to parents. It sounds like unimportant things to parents because they're things the parents have already learned, but to the child it's all new and they want to share it with the parents. Take time to listen to them. Put all electronics down and listen to them! When parents are talking to children, this is when they learn whether or not what they have to say is important to the parents. If the parent is on an electronic device, the child learns whatever is on the device is more important than them and what the're saying. Please don't send this message!

The fourth dimension is material stimulation which is interactions with toys. What looks like playing to a parent is actually a child learning. Materials, whether they be toys or natural such as leaves, teaches children about their environment and teaches them skills as they learn how to turn a toy on or off or learn how to put the pieces of a puzzle in the right space. The fifth dimension is responsive care which is responding to a child's cries and needs. A child has many activities they need responded to during the day. They need to have their request for food filled, they need help opening the door, bandaging an injury, a response to go play with a friend, the list is literally endless. How a parent responds will teach a child how to respond. If a parent is always short-tempered, when the parent asks the child for something, the child will be short-tempered. Please try to respond with kindness and patience but also forgive yourself for those times when you don't.

The last dimension is restrictiveness which is putting restrictions or conditions on what you'll do  for your child or what you allow your child to do for themselves. The restrictions a parent puts on their child will affect the child's self-esteem and whether they try new things or at all. If a parent constantly tells a child  they'll do something but 'only if' they do something for them first the child learns to put conditions on things particularly love. If a parent doesn't let a child learn to do things for themselves such as eat, the child learns they can't do things for themselves and may stop trying.

The first five of these dimensions have positive affects on children's emotional, social and intellectual development. The last dimension is negative. As you be a parent to your child keep these dimensions in mind as you help your children grow and develop.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

infants growth

Infants come into the world not knowing how to do anything. All needs need to be taken care of by the parents and other significant adults in the child's life. As the child grows the child meets certain milestones and slowly starts to learn to do things on their own. For example an infant learns to roll over from their back to their stomach. The first few times this is done it's done by mistake and usually the infant has pushed up against a toy or furniture to help them roll over. This may scare an infant the first few times they do it, but then they learn to do it on purpose and they learn it's a natural thing to do.

The first year of a child's life is about learning how their body works and how to move it. The parents roll in the first year is to make sure the child's basic needs are met and that they're safe. Making sure a child's basic needs are met means feeding, changing diapers, cuddling and playing with them etc. Making sure they're safe means having a car seat that meets regulations, outlets are covered and that they have a safe environment for them to move around in that will help them meet the milestones they need to meet during the first year.

A milestone infants reach is babbling. Babbling and making sounds is the beginning of vocabulary and speaking. It starts with an infants cries. Infants have four cries that help them express what they want. The first one is the basic cry that has intervals of silence such as a child stops when they see the bottle, but if the parent doesn't give it to them right away they start crying again. The second cry is the angry cry that occurs when an infant is angry about something. The third cry is the pain cry that is usually a long wail followed by the infant not breathing because they're holding their breathe. The fourth cry is the hungry cry and it has an urgency to it.

A lot of times as children are taking the initiative to meet a milestone parents freak out because the child is still dependent on them. Where children come into the world not knowing how to do anything parents forget that children need to learn to do things for themselves and often it takes a doctor, caregiver or extended family member to ask if the child is doing something for the parent to realize that the child should be doing the task themselves. Don't feel guilty it's a pattern all parents fall into because parent's are so used to doing everything for the child. Therefore, we forget that the child should be learning to feed themselves, pull themselves to a standing position, walk around a table holding onto for it support etc.

When my child was three I was folding the laundry and started to put her clothes away like I always had since she was born when I realized she was old enough to start doing this for herself. I stopped putting her clothes away and called her into the room and taught her how to put her clothes away. Parents shouldn't be afraid of letting their children do things for themselves. When children learn to do things for themselves such as roll over they learn the beginnings of how to move their bodies. When a child learns how to put their clothes away they learn the basics of organization. All  parents get in the rut of doing everything for their children because in the beginning we have to. As they grow and become capable of doing more themselves let them be the capable human beings they are. Often the tantrums that start around the age one begin and occur because the parents are still trying to do too much for them instead of letting the child do more on their own.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Goals parents have for children vs children's goals

The goals parents have for their children can differ from the goals the children have for themselves. Goals are reinforced by parents and challenged by children. The goals children have for themselves change as they are exposed to friends, their community and even the media. Goals also change as children learn what they're good at and what interests them. For example a parent may want a child to be interested in playing a sport when the child is interested in the theater. The things parents want their children to be interested in can also pertain to food. I had a parent once tell me she wanted her child to like peas because she did. A child will like the kinds of foods and extracurricular activities that they will like and it's the responsibility of the parents to encourage and talk to the child about how they can help the child reach the goals they have.

I've been dealing with this some lately. My child just started college last week. During the process of applying I asked a sibling to help my child fill out a few forms that were complicated. I asked this sibling to help because it was related to what they do for a living so I knew it would be easier for this sibling to help than for me and my child to try to figure it out ourselves. Asking the sibling to help though became the sibling helping my child accomplish what my sibling wants for my child.

My siblings are really happy and excited for my child and where she's going to college and see a bright future for her, because it is. However, my siblings help became an 'I'm so happy and excited for her I'm going to make it all happen for her,' situation. It became 'I want this for her and this for her and since I know what I'm doing I'm going to do it all for her and she'll accomplish and be everything I want her to be and do.'

My child's future isn't about what my siblings want for her and them helping her accomplish it. My child's future is about what she wants to do and be and accomplish and her doing and being and accomplishing those things. She's going to a good school that will help her with all of that. Sometimes in our excitement and happiness for our children (or someone else's) we go overboard trying to help them accomplish what we see their path opening up to be. Our children's future's are about them, not us as the parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles. We can support and as parents it's our responsibility to guide, help and support our children to accomplish their goals. The key words and phrase though is their goals. When we make our children's future about us (or when another person makes a child's future about them) we risk doing damage to our relationship with them that we need to be sure we want to do. We also risk the child having a future they're not happy in and with.

Support, guide and help your children become who they want to become and accomplish what they want to accomplish in life because their lives are about them not the parents.

Monday, August 10, 2015


I've been thinking lately about two of my co-workers at the first center I worked at. One was a single mother of three children who slept around at lot and would bring these men home to be around her children. The other one was married to her husband for a number of years and shortly after she had her third child left him. She would talk about how stupid he was and how he didn't know how to do anything. She talked about how she wanted her freedom and to be able to sleep with whoever she wanted. From what I saw when he would come and pick his children up he was a good person. He was kind and sweet. She would talk about how he helped out at home and would let her sleep in while he took the kids. When she told me she left him I not only was shocked but mad. How could she leave this man who was so good to her? We often talk about how it's the man who does the woman wrong and how women leave because the man is no good. This wasn't the case in this situation. I was mad because she had no clue what her life as a single parent was about to become. She had no idea what she had in her husband and what a good person he was and how she was making it so that it would never be possible to make things right as far as she could.

Why do women do this? Why do they sleep with every man who comes along and put these men in our children's lives and leave a good relationship so that we can have freedom and sleep with anyone we want? Our children need their father's. They're important. We can be strong, independent women and still- for lack of another way to put it- need a man.

I've also been thinking lately of one specific father. He was the father of one of the children I had at the second center I worked at. Their child was their first and for financial reasons the wife needed to work. It was really hard on her because she wanted to be home with their child and couldn't be. One day he came to me and told me how much he appreciated everything I was doing to help his wife through having to have their child there at the center.  He told me how I had made things easier for her and it was making having to go to work easier on her. He told me about his struggle that his wife had to work and how badly he felt that she had to work because he couldn't provide for them so that she could. He thanked me for everything I was doing to make it easier for her. This man was almost in tears. I could see how much he loved his wife and how it hurt him that he couldn't provide well enough yet to have her home with their child. Father's struggle with many of the same things mother's do. Yet it seems like the mother's get more support.

 I told this father that I was glad that I was making things easier for his wife and him and told him to let me know what else I could to help and support his family because that's what I was there to do. Father's need support too because so many of them are trying really hard to be good husbands and father's. What I do is make provide a safe, nurturing place for children to be while their parents are at work. Who I hopefully am is someone parents can trust with their children so they can go to work, do what they need to and not worry about their children.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Park Etiquette

Sorry I haven't posted in so long. I finished a bachelor's degree in early childhood education administration in April and since then I've been working on a book about parenting and putting parenting classes together to teach. This has kept me busy. I'm at the point where I'm cleaning up the classes and will be able to put the technical part of teaching them together so I can actually teach them.

Today the little boy I take care of during the day and I went to the park. There was a group of moms sitting on the grass while their children played. However, they weren't paying any attention to them. They were sitting on the grass talking and not supervising their children. One of the children pushed another child playing at the park and one child stood at the swing screaming the word, "mom' for ten minutes before the mom came over to see what the child wanted. Parents, I understand you need 'mommy' time and need to have a conversation with someone who can talk in more than a two or three word sentence, but please don't ignore your children. The park is a great place to take your children and let them play and get their energy out but they still need supervision.

Unspoken rules of park:
1. Supervise your children
2. Discipline your children when needed
3.Take turns on equipment including slides, swings and other equipment
4. If you bring a toy from home be willing to share it

Thank you!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Teaching Children About the World

It can be difficult to teach children everything they need to know about the world and the way it works. There is a lot to teach them and despite what parents may think it is the responsibility of the parents to teach their children how the world works and how to navigate it. It's not something they have to do on their own though. There is help from community, church, extended family.

It's important to have the hard conversations with children that need to happen. If parents don't have them, others will and children may learn a perspective the parents don't agree with. For example have the conversation about drugs. It's not just enough to tell children not to do drugs which is what a lot of parents do. The next step needs to be taken and parents need to explain why drugs shouldn't be done. Explain what drugs do to people and what coming off of them does. Educate your children. Don't just leave it up to the school to do. Take time to have the conversation of why you as the parent don't think they should be done and the harm they can cause people, friends and family. Educate your children.

Some hard conversations parents should have with their children:
Stranger danger
Under age drinking

These are just some examples however, there are many more. Take time to tell your children what you think about these issues and any others that may come up. It will be hard and awkward but it will be worth it because then they know where you stand on any issue and why. Until you explain to them where you stand on an issue and why they don't and won't care that it's something you tell them not to do. Parents need to explain why.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Teaching Feelings

It's hard to explain to a toddler how someone else feels. It's hard to explain to a toddler how they feel. Toddlers feel things very intensely and when adults laugh at them it only makes them angry. If an adult were feeling angry or sad no one would laugh at them, so no matter how hard it is not to laugh.....don't. When it's over if you need to step into another room and laugh, do, but don't do it in front them. It makes them feel bad and it comes across as an adult doesn't care about them or how they're feeling.

Below is a link that talks about toddlers and emotions. Emotions need to be taught like anything else. When a child gets angry something like, "I know that makes you angry but your friend is playing with the toy right now. When they're done it will be (use child's name) turn." When a child feels sad say, "I know it makes you sad when Mom/Dad leave, but they'll be back after (nap, snack time, afternoon outdoor time etc.)." Name the emotion the child is feeling so that they understand what they're feeling. It will help them understand what anger, sadness, happiness and all the other emotions are and what they feel like.

Here's the link:

Generosity Misunderstood Through a Toddler's Eyes

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

teaching compassion

Teaching compassion to children can be tricky but it's important. Most children under five are naturally compassionate and it's a virtue that needs to be nurtured as they grow older. Modeling how to be compassionate is the easiest way to teach compassion. Children watch everything an adult does so showing compassion to your spouse, to your friends and most importantly to your children will teach them how to be compassionate.

NAEYC  has ten tips for teaching compassion, however, I don't agree with all of them. The one I don't agree with is number three. Where puppets are a part of most child care center rooms not all children like them. Some children are afraid of puppets and to teach compassion using one could frighten a child. Therefore, it would be more compassionate not to use one. Be aware of a child's reaction to puppets and if they're afraid of them don't use this approach.

Here's the link if anyone is interested in reading the article:
10 tips for raising a compassionate infant-toddler

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sensory Activities

I've been trying to find different activities for the child I'm currently taking care of to do. It's the middle of winter so not much time outside is done. I'm trying to break the monotonous of our day, plus he's old enough to start doing sensory activities with. Today I taped streamers on a table and put him under it to see what he'd do. He would only play with them if I wasn't looking right at him. If I did look at him or talked to him while he played with them he would look up and around like he couldn't hear me and completely ignore me.

I'll start doing other sensory activities with him too like having him play in applesauce, pudding, oats etc. These will give him the sensory activities he needs without having a sensory table to play in. When I work in child care centers each classroom has a sensory table that I put all kinds of different things in. I do colored sand, water with cups etc in it. This list is too long to name. I have the little boy I take care of do these activities in a plastic bowl while sitting on the kitchen floor so that any mess he makes can easily be cleaned up. Here is a list done by NAEYC of ten activities a teacher can do with their class in the sensory table. However, these activities can be done at home with children as well because they can easily be modified.

10 Ways to use the sensory table

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Back Talk

One of the things a child is sure to do at some point or another is to talk back to their parents or other adult. There are, in my opinion, two ways to prevent back talk. The first one is to listen to your child. Often children back talk because it's the only way they can get their opinion out there and listened to. The second way is to respect your child. Respect is a two-way street and if you show your child respect they will show it to you because you'll be modeling how to show respect.

 Back talk can also happen as the result of a power struggle. This is why I say listen to your child. Sometimes they have ideas that work and may work better than what your idea was. Pick your battles. Often back talk occurs because a parent has chosen to fight a battle that they need to let go. Consider whether or not you have a legitimate reason for telling your child no and not letting them do something a particular way. A parent doesn't need to control everything and shouldn't, so let go of control-empower your children and let them do something the way that makes sense to them instead of how you tell them to do it.

The website positive parenting solutions has an article on their site that gives five steps to put the brakes on back talk. Here is a link to it if anyone is interested.

5 steps to put the brakes on back talk

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Yesterday the child who I take care of had family come in. The Mom's sister is here so the Aunt gets to give good old fashioned Aunt love to the child-her nephew. When I was leaving yesterday I told the child to soak up all the love but not too much love. What I mean by this is: of course the Aunt will give her nephew lots of love and should. There is nothing like Aunt love just like there is nothing like Grandma love. In other words there is nothing like family love. I say not too much love though because I define too much love as- giving the child everything they want.

Sometimes when extended family comes for a visit or a family goes to see extended family all the rules seem to go out the door. Grandma, Grandpa, Aunts, Uncles seem to give the child everything they want and they hold the child all day long. This is harmful and frustrating to people who work in child care because when the child comes back the rules have to be relearned. The child goes from having every want given to them to an environment where it's not and that lesson has to be relearned and it's hard on the child, the parents, and the caregiver. Also the child goes from being held all the time to not being held all the time and.... Oh the drama!! There are many tears as the child has to relearn independent play and that they're all right even though no one is holding them and loving them. The lesson that every cry or tantrum will not get the child what they want also has to be relearned.

So love is great! Some spoiling can even occur and should. However, to cater to every whim, and to hand over every need and want isn't. When the family member is gone the rules still apply to the child. Independent play is still important to them and needs to occur, they still have to wait for a need or want to be taken care of, and where we caregivers love the child too we understand that to hold them all day can't and shouldn't happen because it prevents the child the room they need to grow and develop.

Please love your family. Just please don't spoil the children to the point where lessons that need and sometimes have already been learned have to be retaught.