Parenting Tag

With the very best intentions, mothers often take too long to say goodbye. Hoping to give a child that extra bit of tenderness, they instead inadvertently make things harder for their child and themselves. Trying to leave and actually leaving are very different. Here is a classic case. A mother walks her son Johnny into his school. Johnny is about to do something he wants to do, something he is very capable of doing. What can...

Reaching to shut off the alarm clock, John thought, “That was the shortest night of my life.” He was in a B & B in the state of Washington, a long way from his home on the East Coast. After a quick shower, he went to the desk to pay for his room. He grabbed coffee in a paper cup and said, “Thank you very much. I’ll see you again,” as he went out the big...

  The answer is simple: EVERYTHING! You know the saying, “If I’d known grandchildren were so great, I’d have had them first.” Of course it doesn’t work that way. But I understand why people say it. Grandchildren are pure joy, without the mixture of love, anxiety and expectation we have for our own children. One thing that makes the grandparent/grandchild relationship so special is the quality of the time together. Because most grandparents don’t see their grandchildren...

Dara and Dave Thompson had moved out of New York a month ago and settled in Lakewood, Connecticut with their children, Davey, 4, Teddy, 2 and Eva, four months. Dara wrote for a parenting magazine, now on a very reduced schedule. Dave worked for a small investment firm, which had just moved to Lakewood. Their new neighbors were considerably older and not really used to having young people on their street. Mary, recently widowed, a retired nursery school teacher,...

Of course you do! They are in camp, or playing on a baseball or soccer team, or at the club pool or taking a tennis lesson. You or another adult is with them. Or maybe they are at home, watching a movie, TV, playing a video game or being tutored. Maybe they are in your car, being driven to an activity. They are not out on their own. Children’s free play has all but disappeared from...

  In my last column I explored the concept of “good stress,” the idea that healthy cognitive and emotional growth requires the opportunity to meet challenges and discover that one can deal with minor frustrations and failures. The essential concept is that good stress is experienced as welcome challenge and does not become overwhelming. In a perfect world, we would design our environment to provide just the optimal level of challenge meted out in optimal doses. Our...

“Carrie! Tommy! You aren’t sitting on a stone wall in your nice clothes, are you?” The children jumped down off the wall and looked at their clothes. “We’re still clean,” Tommy called. “Mommy is so weird. A stone wall is now like a monster,” Carrie said. Blanche heard her. “Really? If we’re going out for dinner, sitting on a wall is a pain. You now look grubby.” “We like the way we look. Can’t you?” asked Carrie. Blanche had had...

Reggio Emilia burst upon the early childhood scene in 1991 when Newsweek described their schools in Northern Italy as “the best early childhood experience in the world.” Suddenly educators everywhere were studying their philosophies and practices. There was a lot to study: books, videos, tours to the schools, conferences led by Reggio educators in the U.S. Throughout, the Italians told us, “Don’t try to copy us. You have to find your own projects based in your...

  On May 5th and again on May 12th a number of parents gathered at Putnam Indian Field School to discuss issues prompted by the book Mindful Parenting by Kristen Race. Most of the discussion centered on ways in which parents can be mindful of the effects of the stressors in our overstimulating and over-programmed 21st century environment and can make changes in their home environments to reduce stress. While no one questions the pervasive unhealthy effects of...

  As the end of nursery school approaches, inevitably parents wonder about how their children will fare in the big next school. Have they been “prepared?” Many parents associate preparedness with academics, but social development is more essential for success. If the children have learned to renounce biting, punching, crying, whining and tattling as problem-solving techniques and have taken responsibility for negotiating their own issues verbally, peacefully, they are prepared. If they know how to self-regulate, to...

There are many touching common threads that run through the experiences of very young children. One is their sudden infatuation with ordinary items they discover on the floor or on the ground. I am always intrigued and peacefully startled when a child becomes fascinated with a found object: a very old metal washer, a pretty rock, a tiny spring from a ballpoint pen, a small pointy stick, a pine cone, an orange bottle top. Each...

  I bet you’ve heard the term bandied about a good deal recently. Perhaps you’ve wondered what it’s really all about and whether it has any relevance to yourself or your parenting. Although the concept has its origins in Eastern religious meditation practices, it has now gained a broad range of meaning and critical relevance to raising happy, healthy, and capable children of the twenty first century. A simple definition of mindfulness is that it involves living in...

  We’ve all heard children doing it – deciding who will be the mom, the dad, the sister, the puppy. Or maybe they’re playing restaurant, with a chef, a waiter, and a hungry customer or two. Or assuming the roles of a serious but kind doctor, a sick person who needs an operation, a mom with a feverish baby. Children love to make-believe. The more they do it, the more nuanced their performances become.  What may not...

Charlie threw his coat into his cubby. Bridget, Charlie’s mother called into the room, “Hi all. Charlie will be bringing Finn home. See ya!” “Hi Charlie,” greeted Miss Carter, cheerfully. “Hi. Where’s Finn?” “He isn’t here yet. I have some new cars. Would you like to see them? ” “I want to see Finn. We’re having a play date today.” “Remember, try your hardest to not talk about your nice after school plan. Others might feel left out.”  “Oh,...

  When I wrote about Self-Regulation, I related it to a child’s ability to take on an unattractive or difficult task when necessary. What does a child do when the teacher announces clean up time? Children with a good sense of self-regulation pitch right in and begin putting things away. They deserve immediate positive attention. Another child may ignore the general command to clean up and either continue playing or just dance around the room contributing nothing....

Sally and James were being extra quiet. They didn’t want their mother and father to know they were awake. It was Saturday and the children were planning to draw and make cards for their Grandmother whose birthday was coming up. Then they heard their father talking in the hall.   “Ginny, let’s make a quick breakfast and go right to the aquarium. After that, we can take the children to The Plunge. James really needs to...

  My last column discussed emotional self-regulation, the ability to control impulses and behave in a way appropriate to the circumstance. By developing this skill, children become more productive and socially competent.  There is a cognitive aspect to self-regulation as well, which helps children overcome their reluctance to engage in challenging school activities. Again, children initially need lots of help from adults. They need encouragement to keep trying even when the activity is difficult or unappealing.  As a...

  What is self-regulation? How do children develop it? We are told all the time how important that development is to future success in school and life.  Self-regulation may be defined as the ability to control one’s own behavior and emotions and adapt them in response to a particular situation. For young children, self-regulation begins as external control by teachers, parents, and caregivers. As the child grows, hopefully that ability to control initial impulses and respond appropriately...

Lizzy walked behind her mother as they approached the door of her nursery school. Just inside, the principal, Mrs. Carmichael was waiting to greet them. “Good morning Lizzy. Good morning Margaret. How are you today?” She put her hand out to Lizzy, but Lizzy ducked behind Margaret and looked down at the floor. “Good morning, Mrs. Carmichael,” Margaret smiled. “I think Lizzy is feeling a bit shy again today. Lizzy, will you shake hands? No? Okay, let’s...

  My last column described “hypothesis testing” as a mindset children need to develop to become successful learners. Hypothesis testing can be defined as learning by hands-on trial and error until understanding is acquired.  Another helpful mindset to encourage in children is risk-taking. Don’t worry. Encouraging risk-taking doesn’t mean letting your child jump off the roof, or point his skis straight downhill on his first run ever. For a young child, willingness to risk means being willing...

“Mommy, the birds’ nests are blowing a lot in the wind. I feel sorry for the birds.”  Marian and her son, Denny were driving to the Farnsworth’s for a simple supper. It was very windy. They both saw how much the branches were bending. “Oh dear Denny, birds know how to build their nests so they are perfect for them, wherever they live. I really think they will be fine.”  They pulled into the driveway and in seconds...

“In the car, Patty. We’re late. I mean now. All that dawdling is going to cost you.” “You’re not the boss of me,” four-year old Patty squawked. “Wanna bet?” Patty tried to resist her father’s grasp. Jeb picked up his daughter, put her in her car seat, and snapped down its lock. “Getting the picture now, right Patty? I AM the boss of you.” Jeb got into his seat quickly. He looked in the rear view mirror. Patty was sticking...

  Parents wonder what they can do to help their children become successful learners. There are certain “mind sets” that are important for young children to develop which will help them considerably later on. One is known as “hypothesis testing.” Children have a lot of questions about the world. Often they make a wrong assumption about why something happens. You can provide the correct explanation, but a better way is not to provide an immediate answer. Rather,...

“What are you doing in there, Colin?” Denise barked from the hallway. “That’s my room. Keep out.” “Oh Denise, I was just looking for you. Sorry.”  “Then call me. Sneaking into my room is wrong. What do you want?”  “I wanted to ask when Mommy’s coming back. I really wasn’t sneaking. I’m hungry.”  Denise was looking at her phone. “If it looks like sneaking, it is. No clue when your mother is coming back. She’s always later than she...

  One of the best gifts parents can give their young child(ren) is a sensory table. Children learn and retain knowledge best when their senses are engaged; a sensory table offers so many opportunities for learning. You will be amazed at how centered and calm your child becomes when offered a table filled with – you name it – sand, water, cornstarch, snow (real or artificial), dirt, goop/gak, gelatin, shaving cream, bubbles, flour – the list...

Betsy had been awake for a while when she heard “Whaaah!” coming from Charlie’s room. She threw on her pink terry cloth robe and went to the six-month old she took care of.  “There you are! Hi Charlie. How’s my adorable boy?” She picked Charlie up and held him tightly. Charlie snuggled into her robe.  “Let’s get you some breakfast.” Betsy warmed a bottle of Charlie’s mother, Lucy’s milk. Charlie was smiling and gurgling as he looked...

  Parents are getting used to being told not to overschedule their children. Yet the enrichment classes, the sports clinics, the many after school activities offered continue to be full. Why? Some parents want to give their child an “edge,” whether it is a leg up in a sport, an ability to play brilliant chess, or to learn a new language. Others fear that their child will be bored if left with open time, and “get into...

  Most parents are aware of the importance of building confidence and self-esteem in their children. How to do it effectively? One way is to listen when they talk and then respond, to let them know you take their ideas seriously. Ask their opinions at times. Spend uninterrupted time with them to show you enjoy their company. Building self-esteem often involves a lot of “Good jobs.” We praise children for just about anything they do, from drawing...

Becky was happy that her new classroom was sunny and the staff was so friendly.  She did have butterflies and yet she knew once her job actually began, she’d feel calmer.  On the Sunday night before the first day of school, her clothes were already out for the next day and she had packed her lunch.  She decided to go back over her class list to become familiar with the names of the children and...