Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Circle of Security®

Imagine a toddler in the park: toddling along happily, arms stretched to the side, happy smile on his face. He seems to even forget his mom and dad are right behind him. He’s so enthusiastic! Then, a bird flutters up and it both excites him and scares him a little. He looks behind him, searching for familiar eyes, and gives a big smile at his mom, pointing at the bird.
All of us, no matter how old or young, have two basic needs: we want to explore the world, learn, and be independent. At the same time, we are dependent on others: we need love, support, trust, and security from other people. The Circle of Security® beautifully describes how of the needs for exploration and security are far from polar opposites: they are part of the same process. Let’s explore the circle!
The parent’s role is shown as two hands that serve as a “secure base” from which a child can safely explore and as a “safe haven” to which the child can return for comfort and support. The role of the parent is summed up as, “Always be bigger, stronger, wiser, and kind. Whenever possible: follow my child’s need. Whenever necessary: take charge.” When the parent serves as a secure base, the child can play, discover, and enjoy himself, while safe and secure. 

When children run off to play on their own, this doesn’t mean that they suddenly don’t need their parents any longer. In a crawling infant, parents need to be there to make sure the environment is safe, to help when baby needs support, and share in their discoveries. A preschool child can go explore for longer and may sometimes seem to forget the parent. But they may suddenly shout out: “Daddy, look!” when they want to demonstrate a cool new skill on the playground. As children grow, their circles will extend and become larger; but they will always maintain the need to come back, share, and feel supported in their explorations of the big, wide world. Older children will mainly share through their stories and talking with their parents.

The bottom of the circle shows children’s needs for comfort and connectedness. Small infants will simply cry to show that they need closeness. Toddlers can decide to move closer to their parent, or put their arms up in a “pick-me-up” gesture. Preschoolers can be clingy sometimes, to the exasperation of their parents. But clingy behaviors show a need to reconnect until they feel sure that they are safe enough to go out on their own again. By getting comforted, children “fill their cup.” When their cup is full, the desire to explore and discover the world will naturally arise again.  Again, the older children grow, the more they will seek closeness by using their words: sharing situations that made them sad, or trying to make sense of things that they struggle with.

The role of the parent is always to be a stable secure base and safe haven; to be stronger, wiser, and kind. Are we always able to do this? No! Parents, like all people, are not perfect. And they don't need to be. All that children need to develop a secure attachment is “good enough” parents that get it right most of the time!.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Car Seat Emergency Contact Stickers

While we all hope that our families will never have an emergency, it is important to be prepared. Here is a quick and easy way we found on Pinterest to prepare your family for an emergency. Create an Emergency contact sticker to place on your child’s car seat for first responders, so that your child can receive the help they need even when you are unable to respond.

Here are a few ideas of what to include
  • Your child’s name
  •   Birth date 
  • Any known Allergies
  • Medical Conditions 
  • Parent’s names and phone numbers 
  •  Pediatrician
  • Emergency contact that does not live with the child

And of course it is important that you have information for yourself and other family members readily available. Keeping a list of your own information, including any recent surgeries, in your wallet can be a huge help to first responders.
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Here are some great free printables you can download or use as inspiration to create your own sticker (Option 1; Option 2). 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

DIY Sensory Bags

According to Katharine Robinson (MOTR/L) and Crystal Emery (P.L.A.Y. Consultant) from Easter Seals-Goodwill Northern Rocky Mountain; sensory processing involves the ability to take in information within our environment through our senses and utilizing that information to create a response. Once sensory information is received through nerve receptors in our body, that information is sent up to the brain. The brain then decides how to respond or react to that sensation. Exposing children to sensory play helps develop the use of their senses. 

Here is a fun, simple sensory activity to do with your children!

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  • Cheap hair gel (if you use clear gel, get food coloring to dye it)
  • Ziplock bags
  • Glitter
  • Soft add ins
  • Duct Tape

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How to:
  1. Fill the ziplock bag with hair gel and throw in some food coloring if you only have clear gel. 
  2. Throw in some fun things for your child to look at and squish around in the bag. Ideas: flat marbles, beads, little animals, glitter, buttons, anything that won't poke a hole in the bag. 
  3. Squeeze as much of the air out as you can when sealing the bag
  4. If needed, run duct tape around the edges to reinforce the bag. 

Here are some different sensory bags to try!

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If you decide to try this project yourself, let us know what you think! Which add-ins would you use?

To read more on sensory processing, read our blog post here!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mental Health Awareness Month

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May is National Mental Health Awareness Month! In our society, the topic of mental health has historically experienced a negative stigma and people often avoid discussing it, but it is certainly an important public health issue that needs to be recognized for its impact on children, families, and communities.

Mental health for children can look different than mental health for adults. For children, it could mean reaching developmental and emotional milestones. It could include learning how to cope with problems, having healthy social skills and a positive quality of life, and functioning well at home, in school, and in their communities.

Sometimes a parent sees serious changes in the way their child typically learns, behaves, or handles emotions; this could be the result of an emerging mental disorder. It is estimated that 1 out of 5 children experience a mental disorder every year. Not all mental and behavioral disorders can be diagnosed in childhood. Some examples of disorders that begin in childhood include:

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Behavior disorders
Mood and anxiety disorders
Substance use disorders
Tourette Symdrome
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To Parents: You know your child. If you have concerns about the way your child behaves at home or in school, contact Help Me Grow or talk to your child's health care professional.

To Youth: If you feel angry, worried, or sad, reach out to a friend or adult to talk about your feelings. Your mental health is just as important as the health of your body.

To Teachers: If you have concerns about the mental health of a student in your school, work with families and health care professionals so that those students can get the help they need and have a disorder identified early.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Summer Field Trips

Field trip to the splash pad at the Gateway
As a child, my summer days were filled with adventures and playing with friends. Although there was an endless number of things for my sisters and me to do around our home and neighborhood, we still were plagued with the classic childhood summer boredom.We needed something new and exciting to peak our curiosity and to entertain us. In order to do this, my mom began planning weekly summer field trips to get us out of the house. She would invite family, friends, and neighbors to join us with their sack lunches to caravan to that week's destination and then to a picnic lunch. The field trips were a great way for us to get out of our house, to learn and explore new things, and for my mom to interact with other adults. Here are some tips for organizing your own summer field trips.

My sister at Timpanogos Cave

  1.  Ask your children what activities they may be interested in doing this summer. Try to incorporate suggestions from each child in your planning. My mom would often have us write a list of field trips we would be interested in that fell under categories such as educational, fun, physical, etc.  If you need ideas of local activities check out my mom’s list (Utah County/Salt Lake Area) and the Care About Childcare Summer Activity Guides for all of Utah.
  2.  Try to provide a good mix of activities. Have some educational trips and others that are purely fun. Try to not schedule similar activities back to back.
  3. Check with local museums for special events that may be tailored towards children. For example, every year we attended the BYU Museum of Art’s annual Family Arts Festival, which always made the museum more interesting to us.
  4. If there are specific families you would like to join you coordinate with them to see which day works best.
  5.  Send your schedule out to other families to invite them to join when they can. Field trips were always more fun when we had friends or cousins there. And nothing is more exciting as a child then getting to ride in someone else’s car.
  6. Don’t stress about making it every week. Provide enough details in the schedule that other families can get there without you.
  7. If a child is not interested in a field trip, let them invite a friend to make it more fun.
Hopefully these tips will help you in coming months to have fun activities for your kids that get them out of their typical summer routine. Feel free to comment below with your own Summer Field trip ideas and tips!
My sisters and me at Seven Peaks Water Park