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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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Wanting something . . .

If you have ever taken your child with you shopping, you probably realize that stores—especially stores with toys—can activate the seeking system in your child’s brain. Curiosity, exploration, willfulness, drive, expectancy, and desire are a part of this system. In addition, the seeking system activates optimal levels of dopamine and glutamate, making your child highly …Continue reading

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Family meetings . . .

Family meetings are a great way to promote constructive communication skills. During family meetings, everyone in the family can learn what each individual family member thinks and feels about a particular situation or issue. Family meetings promote the practice of problem-solving skills, and all members of the family have a chance to talk as well …Continue reading

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Regression . . .

When children regress—that is, when they act younger and less mature than they really are—their behavior can trigger annoyance in parents. Usually, regression happens when children (and parents) are feeling stressed, as when a new sibling has arrived to join the family. To the older sibling, it seems that the adults give lots of attention, …Continue reading

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Cultivating patience . . .

Patience refers to our ability to accept or tolerate delays, troubles, inconveniences, or distress without getting angry or upset. As any parent knows, parenting provides an opportunity to examine the meaning of patience on a daily basis. Though it is true that some people are more naturally inclined toward patience than others, it is also …Continue reading

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Tears and connection . . .

Tears can be an opportunity for connection between a parent and child. Your child gives you a sign that the tears are an effort to connect when he or she “peeks out” and looks for you. If you see your child peek out for you after a good cry, he or she may want and …Continue reading

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The age of reason . . .

Children develop their ability to reason at different chronological ages. Some children arrive at the age of reason when they turn four while others are seven or eight years old before they have reasoning powers. It makes sense then to instruct children accordingly. For example, asking a young child to follow simple rules, such as …Continue reading

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An emerging sense of self . . .

As your toddler reaches the age of about eighteen months, he or she will realize that his or her angry “me” and loving “me” are within the same person. During this time, your toddler will also realize that the people he or she trusts and loves can also be the people who make him or …Continue reading

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