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Parenting Playbook

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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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....

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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...

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I’d rather do it myself . . .

Sometimes, with the best of intentions, parents impede their child’s growth by putting themselves in the middle of their child’s problems. It is important to resist the temptation to steal our child’s struggles because we all learn from our mistakes. It is a gift to...

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