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Recognize when you are frazzled . . .

As a parent, it takes some awareness to recognize when you feel emotionally low and need to refuel with the company of other adults. Because children count on grown-ups to provide emotional regulation for them as they learn to manage their feelings, this regulation is one way from parent to child. Continual emotional giving—which is …Continue reading

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Pretending . . .

Pretend play can be powerful because reality can be suspended. By suspending reality, children can level the playing field and even feel that they have the advantage. After all, though children can be very wise and insightful at times, there are some real frustrations that go along with being a child, namely being younger, smaller, …Continue reading

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Staying connected while setting limits . . .

The key to setting limits and staying connected to your child relates to emotions. Tuning in to your child’s emotional state is important if you are going to set a limit that is in conflict with your child’s wishes and desires. Empathize first. Reflect her feeling about her desire back to her and then follow …Continue reading

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Play and anxiety . . .

Challenges are typically preceded by feelings of anxiety. If anxious feelings are managed well, then anxiety can serve as a useful emotion because mastering age-appropriate anxiety and its accompanying challenges is an incentive for learning new skills. Mastering age-appropriate anxiety is possible when a child’s abilities are put to the test without the child feeling …Continue reading

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Offer choices wisely . . .

Giving children choices rather than routinely telling them what to do engages the child’s higher thinking brain. By offering choices with consequences, your child will get some practice in planning and thinking through his or her choices as well as experiencing the consequences of that choice. By the age of five, most children respond well …Continue reading

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Self-conscious emotions emerge . . .

Beyond the basic emotions—happy, sad, mad, and scared—humans are capable of experiencing a second group of higher-order feelings, such as shame, embarrassment, guilt, envy, and pride. These higher-order feelings are referred to as “self-conscious emotions” because each one offers either damage to or enhancement of our sense of self. For example, pride reflects satisfaction in …Continue reading

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Downtime . . .

Downtime is important for the healthy growth and development of your child. Your child’s brain needs breaks in order to process the incoming flood of new information. Being idle allows the brain to take what it already knows and then think, reflect, and change. Idle time allows the circuitry to develop. Unstructured free time is …Continue reading

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Needing nature . . .

Children live through and learn from their senses. Sensory experiences—what they see, hear, taste, touch, and smell—connect their exterior world with their internal, affective world. The importance of this sensory learning may be why studies indicate that natural settings, which provide primary experiences for all the senses, are essential for healthy childhood development. Here are …Continue reading

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Loving sensory messages . . .

Everyone understands their world through the five senses. When we give our children supportive messages through all of their senses, we communicate our unconditional love more fully. Using eye contact and smiles to send positive messages communicates good feelings. Eye contact actually magnifies the emotions we are expressing. If we look directly at children when …Continue reading

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Moral development . . .

Parents can help their children develop a sense of moral goodness with an accompanying feeling of obligation to do the right thing. The formation of “conscience” is promoted when parents nurture awareness and the development of feelings. Conscience is also promoted when parents help children understand that two people may feel differently about a situation, …Continue reading

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