Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Who, What and Why of Social Emotional Development

It is always exciting and heart melting when a baby learns to coo, laugh, say "mama and dada", crawl, walk,  learn to pick up cheerios with their chubby little fingers and we are so amazed at how fast they can learn new skills!

Each of these skills are different milestones and are part of a child's typical development. It is easier to identify what is normal development for areas such as communication, and gross motor, because these are skills you can observe your child do day to day.
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In addition to these milestones, it is essential for young children to develop Social Emotional skills. It can be easily overlooked, however it is important to find ways to to strengthen a child's social emotional development.  The following includes the who, what and why of social emotional development! 


The Who? 

From birth a child starts to explore the world around them. As they gain new experiences and start to connect with the people around them their social emotional development begins and affects them throughout their life. 

The What? 

Social emotional development are skills that increase self-awareness and self-regulation. A child's social emotional development includes their  experiences, expression, they way they manage emotions, and the ability to form positive and rewarding relationships with others

The Why? 

 "Research shows that social skills and emotional development reflected in the ability to pay attention, make transitions from one activity to another, and cooperate with others are a very important part of school readiness." Take a closer look here at the milestones for each age from birth to 5 years. 


How To Help Support A Child's Social Emotional Development

Here are some ideas from the American Academy of Pediatrics "Tips to Promote Social  Emotional Health Among Young Children" (PDF)
  • Model behaviors that you want to see in your child. Parents are their child’s first and most important teachers, and what they do can be much more important than what they say. 
  • Give choices when your child is oppositional (Would you like me to carry you upstairs to bed or would you like to walk?) 
  • Read with you child, turn off the TV before dinner, and have conversations with your child during meals, and bath time. Read books with your children in preparation for bed time. This will help to settle down and sleep well at the end of the day 
  • Provide routines throughout the day and regular bedtimes for your child. 
  • Catch your child being good! Praise your child often even for small accomplishments like playing nicely with others, waiting her turn, or being a good sport! 
Monitoring and supporting your child's social emotional development will not only help in school readiness, but overall how they face life experiences and build their resilience which will be a big help to them as they grow. 

If you have questions or concerns about your child's development and/or would like to track your child's development call 211 and ask for Help Me Grow or call our direct line 801-691-5322! 

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Early Eating - How Much Is Enough??

There are many challenges that come with being a new mother. One of the biggest challenges can be knowing how much to feed a newborn baby. Babies have no way of verbalizing (other than through crying) if they are getting too much, too little, or just enough to eat. So how do you know if your child is hungry or full? Here are answers to some common infant feeding questions.

How much and how often should my newborn be eating?

Breastfed Babies
  • Eat more frequently than formula fed babies
    • They get  a smaller volume of milk early on compared to bottle fed babies
  • Eat every 2-3 hours: as they get older they can go longer between feedings
    • Some babies require long feedings at certain times of the day and will be satisfied more quickly at other times
  • About 10 minutes on each breast provides 90% of available milk, after this time the baby will receive less milk per suck
  • Go by on-demand feeding- the baby will take charge of her own feedings; when she is full she may turn her head or give you other signals she is done
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Bottle Fed Babies
  • Babies drink 2-3 ounces of formula per feeding, every 3 to 4 hours for the first few weeks
    • For the first month, if baby sleeps longer than 4-5 hours and starts missing feedings, wake her up to feed her
  • By the end of the first month, a baby should be up to 4 ounces per feeding with a predictable schedule of every 4 hours
  • By four months, she should be drinking 5 ounces per feeding (30 ounces a day) and by six months should be consuming 6 to 8 ounces per feeding (4 or 5 times a day)
  • The average baby should have 2 ½ ounces of formula a day for every pound of body weight—don’t go by fixed amounts, let her tell you
    • Fidgety or distracted behavior during feeding means she is done
    • If he drains the bottle and still smacks his lips after, he is probably still hungry

 **Don’t forget that each baby’s feedings are unique! It is best to feed a baby on demand when she cries that she is hungry; later she will develop a schedule**


How can I tell if my baby is getting enough? 

Watch for clues instead of using the clock! Clues include:
  • Milk is visible: leaking or dripping (if breastfed)
  • You hear the baby swallow after several sucks in a row
  • Baby looks and acts satisfied after eating
  • Diapers
    • During the first month, she should wet 6-8 times a day and have a bowel movement at least 2 times a day; later this will become less and less
  • Your baby sleeps for a couple hours after a feeding
  • Weighing him once every week or two—after the first couple of weeks because he loses weight the first couple of weeks
    • If a breastfed baby is not gaining weight, the milk supply may have decreased and a supplemental bottle or two may be needed
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How do I know if my baby is getting too much to eat?
  • If bottle-fed, she is consuming more than 4-6 ounces per feeding
  • He vomits most or all of the food after a feeding
  • If bowel movements are loose and very watery, 8 or more times a day

How do I know if my baby is eating too little?
  • If a breastfed baby stops feeding after 10 minutes or less
  • If she wets fewer than 4 diapers a day
  • If baby’s skin remains wrinkled beyond the first week
  • If he does not develop a rounded face by about 3 weeks
  • If she appears hungry or searching for something to suck shortly after feedings
  • If he becomes more yellow (instead of less yellow) after the first week
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What are some signs or cues that my baby is hungry? 
  • Smacking his lips or whimpering
  • Pulling up arms or legs toward her middle
  • Stretching or yawning
  • Moving hands toward her mouth
  • Making sucking motions
  • Waking up and becoming more alert and active
  • Nuzzling against your breast

How can I tell if my baby is ready for solid food?
  • She can hold her head up high
  • He can sit fully up right on his own
  • Her birth weight has doubled and has reached a minimum of 13 pounds
  • He becomes more interested in food by watching others and opens his mouth in anticipation when food comes his way


For more information or any questions about feeding older infants or children, contact Help Me Grow.


All information was found in Caring for Your Baby and Young Child Birth to Age 5 by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 2003 and can be found at healthychildren.org by clicking here 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Tips for Teaching Toddlers to Be Gentle

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I recently heard a mom express her concern about her child's aggressiveness when she gets excited to see someone. How do you teach a toddler to be gentle? Are there a lot of moms out there wondering the same thing?

I collected the following information from various sites including:


Why Aggressive Behavior?

Aggressive actions like biting and hitting are most common between the ages of 18-months and 2-1/2 years. At these ages, children do not always have the verbal language to communicate their needs; instead, they will communicate through their actions. Thankfully, "most aggressive toddler behaviors will lessen once the child is old enough to communicate by words instead of actions" (Ask Dr. Sears). 

Now, you might be asking "But what if my child still expresses aggressive behavior even when he or she has the verbal skills to communicate?"


Something To Think About (National Center for Infants)


No two children or families are alike. Thinking about the following questions can help you
apply the information below to your own child and family.
  • What kinds of situations usually lead to your child acting aggressively? Why do you think this is?
  • When your child acts in ways that seem aggressive, how do you typically react? Do you think this reaction is helpful to your child or not? Why?

Tips and Tricks for Handling Aggressive Behaviors


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1.  Consider the source
  • In your child what triggers his or her aggressive behaviors? It might be helpful for you to pay close attention to the triggers that prompt your child's aggressive behavior by writing them down in a journal (Ask Dr. Sears). 

2.  Show toddler how to be gentle (Advice For Moms, by Moms)
  • One mother found it helpful to "Re-direct her behavior and show her how to use gentle touches. Take her hands and physically rub them nice and gentle down your face and remind her that if she wants to play with anyone, she must use gentle touches. Use positive reinforcement for when she does it and time-out from the situation if she keeps doing it. Be consistent."

3.  Praise toddler each time he/she replaces aggressive behavior with gentle touch (Disney Baby)
  • Here's a statement from a mom about her experience with praising: "The most effective affirmation I've given Elvie has been when she is being gentle on her own. She is so proud of herself for knowing what to do and how to do it that she tries to do it again and again, hoping I’ll notice. Go out of your way to make note of small ways your little one is being gentle and praise him or her for them. Gaining a new skill is big stuff for the toddler set, and your toddler will feel incredibly proud to have accomplished something new."

4.  Explain to toddler that hitting/biting hurts (Advice For Moms, by Moms)
  • Here's an experience that helped one mother: "I went through this with my son and it was tough. For awhile it felt like nothing worked. So I started being immediate with his punishment. As soon as he hit I was telling him "No! Hurt! Hurt mommy!" And I marched his tail to time-out. It took a few times to get the point, but I really think if you're consistent - and if the punishment is immediate and forceful (like you mean business, not play), then it will all work out. For my son, the thought of "hurting" someone was very effective. He might get excited and hit, but he did NOT want to hurt anyone. Big lesson there."

5.  Offer alternatives for expressing frustration (Advice For Moms, by Moms)
  • Here's what another mom found helpful: "You might try giving her another outlet for expressing her feelings. Give her a long cylindrical pillow she can use sort of like a bat and tell her that when she's angry, she's allowed to hit a certain spot (the couch or a chair, for example) but that she's not allowed to hit people and not with her hands. If it's not anger-based, then it sounds like she needs a good way to grab attention--get her a microphone and have her sing songs or tell jokes instead. Challenge her to find the silliest way to hug; hug your leg, your arm, just your hand, hug backwards. It's still physical contact, but sweet instead of aggressive."

6.  Discipline toddler when he/she hits others and move on (Advice For Moms, by Moms)
  • Explain to your child the consequence that will follow if she does hit or bite someone. If your child does hit or bite, follow through with the consequence you had discussed with her. Be firm but try not to be emotional. Fussing over her may encourage her to keep hitting.
Do you have any tips or tricks that have worked for you on handling a child's aggressive behavior?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Keys to a Strong Parenting Foundation

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Think back through your recent parenting journey. Can you think of a time when you felt like there was so much more to parenting than you had ever thought possible? There is so much joy and excitement with having kids, but somehow parenting can easily end up being more than you imagined before those little munchkins came into your life. A good part of that comes from the fact that we’re overwhelmed with messages of perfect parenting. The endless Pinterest pins, mommy bloggers, cute kids posted on Facebook and more. It’s tiring!


I have served side-by-side with parents for six years now. In that time, the things I have learned led me to three things that I consider foundational for parents to know, understand, and use to simplify their role. Parenting is as easy as this:
  1. child development,
  2. temperament,
  3. and emotion management.

Child Development. Parents should be aware of what is typical for their child’s age and where their child is in his/her development. This can easily be adjusted for parents with kids who have special needs as well. Fortunately, there are a lot of great resources out there that give you the milestones. I encourage you to learn more about your child’s development at these websites:


Temperament. Your child’s temperament is the foundation for his/her personality. It helps you understand who he/she is and how he/she will react in situations. It’s also important to understand your own temperament as the parent. How your temperaments interact with one another will affect your parenting. Help Me Grow has previously done a post about temperament, which will help you understand further: Parenting and Children's Temperament

Emotion Management. Let’s face it: there are times when you don’t want to be your child’s parent, and there are times when your heart is bursting with pride, joy, love and you endlessly want to cuddle with your child. As parents we’re tasked to teach our kids about their emotions and manage our own. This can be a hard thing to balance. Here’s a great Help Me Grow blog post to help you do so: Helping Children Recognize and Manage Their Emotions

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There is no doubt that parenting is the most rewarding job you’ll ever have! But it will also cause you to bang your head endlessly with questions about how to handle your children. Focus on these three things to simplify your approach on parenting and you’ll find you’re taking greater steps toward becoming the parent you imagined yourself to being!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tis the Season for "Thanks" Giving

With Thanksgiving coming up in a couple of days, some of you may be wondering, "How can I teach my kids about gratitude?" or "How do I ensure that I am raising thankful children?" Every parent wants his/her children to be thankful for the things they have in their life and not take things for granted. Many children know the simple pleases and thank yous, but how do you guarantee that your children truly are grateful?  Here are some great tips on getting your children in the spirit of Thanksgiving by teaching them about gratitude.

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  1. Be a role model. As with many other behaviors children learn best by watching the examples set by parents. Showing children how to be grateful is much more powerful than simply telling children to be grateful. Let your children hear you expressing gratitude to others. 
  2. Tell your children thank you. Ellie, from the Musing Momma blog, writes, "Much like 'give respect to be respected,' children learn to appreciate by being appreciated. Thank your child for clearing the table, for playing nicely with his little sister, for waiting patiently while you finish a phone call. Thank him for just being a downright awesome kid. Show him how it feels to be appreciated and have his effort recognized, what gratitude sounds like, and how easily it can be a part of daily life."

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  3. Thank you notes. Writing thank you cards may seem old fashioned, but when children write thank you notes they will understand the importance of recognizing and acknowledging kind acts or gifts they have received. They will also be less likely to take the gift for granted.
  4. Let kids help out. Jenny from the blog, Mamatoga, says, "The more children contribute around the house, the more they realize how much effort it takes to keep a household running. Giving your child age-appropriate chores like setting the table or feeding a pet (or for teenagers, working a part-time job) will help them appreciate that these tasks require effort and don’t just happen automatically. They will also feel the satisfaction of earning what they have and making a valuable contribution to the family."

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  5. Incorporate gratitude into everyday life. When I was going through a particularly rough patch in my life a couple of years ago, my mom suggested we send each other an email every night with 10 things we were grateful for that had happened that day. Surprisingly, it made a huge difference and put me in a much happier mindset than I had been in before; I looked forward to those nightly emails. While Thanksgiving is the most popular day for giving thanks, don't let gratitude only be shown on this one day of the year. Have children keep a gratitude journal or every night at dinner go around the table and have each member of the family share something they are grateful for that day. 
  6. Read Thanksgiving books. Many children learn certain concepts best (such as gratitude) by reading picture books. Read one of these fun Thanksgiving picture books with your children.

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  7. Give back and volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to inspire children to be thankful. When children have the opportunity to experience another's gratitude, they will recognize and be grateful for the things that they have. This can be accomplished in several ways: donating clothes to a local thrift store, buying and donating a toy for children in need, or something as simple as baking cookies and taking them to the neighbors. There are so many fun ways to get your children involved in service. 
  8. Practice saying no. This means not giving your child everything she wants. This can be very hard at times, especially when your child is looking at you with big puppy dog eyes begging for a new toy. Just remember if you do not give her everything she asks for, she will be more appreciative of the things she does receive. 
  9. Thankful Turkey Box. If you are looking for a fun way to show what you are thankful for this Thanksgiving, click here to make this cute turkey box. Everyday have each member of your family write down something they are thankful for. On Thanksgiving, open the box as a family and read everything you're grateful for. 
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What are some ideas you find helpful to teach your children about gratitude?