Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Resiliency: A Parent's Guide to Dealing with Stress

My Niece and Nephew
As a parent, we deal with stressful situations every day.  It seems like we have so many tasks to complete, and not nearly enough time to do them.  Between taking care of our children, our spouse, keeping up with the housework, and demands of work, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and lose motivation to continue with the daily tasks of life.  Thankfully, we are stronger than we realize, and we can build up our resiliency.  Here are some ways to do so:


·         Turn outward - reach out to and connect with the people around you.  This includes greeting the greeters and cashiers at the grocery store, or smiling and saying hi to the person in the elevator with you
My Niece
·         Get rid of distractions and be in the moment – This means that when you are reading to your children, keep your phone put away, and when you are spending time with your spouse, don’t just be sitting in the same room as them; be mindful of the people around you and the experiences that matter most in your life.
·         Change your perspective on your weaknesses – instead of looking at them like your weaknesses and limitations, look at them as potential strong points in disguise.
·         Focus on what you did right today, instead of what you did wrong, and focus on how you can continue to do those things right.

Use the resources around you:


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·         Remember that you have people around you who can help you.  Surround yourself with people who are strong in areas that you may be weak in.
·         Be spontaneous!  Clean in a new way - pretend to be Cinderella or that you are preparing your house for a visit from a king.  If your children are old enough, include them in pretending.  It will make it more of a game for all involved, and give you variety in your life.
·         Do something that you can feel accomplished about, whether it’s cleaning out a cupboard, repainting a room, or completing a project that you've been working on.

And here are some tips for when you feel like you can’t do any more:


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·         Go for a small win – be happy that your table is cleaned off, or that you did 4 loads of laundry.  Take pride in the fact that even if you are still in your pajamas, and haven’t showered, that your children are dressed, fed, and clean. 
·         Don’t make things worse – avoid knee-jerk responses that can make things worse.  Respond in a way that is honest and healthy.  Take a moment to laugh at the mess that your kids have made, since one day it will be a funny memory. 

Parenting is one of the most rewarding, yet difficult tasks that we do.  As we continue to push forward, and be resilient, we teach our children to also be resilient, and it will help them to succeed in life.

What are some of your suggestions for those times when you think you just can't keep going?


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Intentional Parenting

Have you ever felt inundated with information as a parent? Ever had too many people telling you the "right" way to address a parenting challenge? With so many sources of information, it is easy to become overwhelmed. It can be difficult to know where to turn. 


Experts?

As parents we often imagine that because of all the "experts" available to help us, others know best and we are incompetent. In my years of mothering perhaps the most valuable lesson I have learned is that when it comes to my own kids, I am the expert. It is my fundamental right and parental inheritance to be the one who knows my kids best, understands what they need more than anyone else. This does not mean I will never have questions. It is not to say that I can never look to others for help; family, friends, pediatricians, books on parenting, current research, the list of resources goes on and on. But that's just it. These are resources, not absolutes. As parents we must wade through all the opinions and advice and find some way of measuring what is right, what is best, for our kids. 


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For example, how many approaches to potty training have you heard? For some families, a timer is the only way. For others, the ping of that alarm is akin to the bell of a boxing ring- it's go time. Some swear by pull-ups. I detest them. So who is right? What is THE BEST WAY to potty train. In my experience, that answer will be different for every parent, and perhaps more to the point, for every child. How do you decide?



 

What Are Your Goals?

I suggest an intentional parenting approach. I invite you to take some time to consider and formally articulate what is most important to you as a parent. What are your three most significant responsibilities? Establishing an intentional focus by which I can measure all decisions and advice has been an invaluable approach for me. To learn more about intentional parenting and hear my three fold focus, watch my presentation here. Then come back and share your three things so we can all learn from each other.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Make time for Playtime :)

Playtime is a child's most important work! Here are some ideas to help make the best out of playtime!


Encourage Children to Play

To children, play is just fun. However, playtime is as important to their development as food and good care. Playtime helps children be creative, learn problem-solving skills and learn self-control.  Good, hardy play, which includes running and yelling, is not only fun, but helps children to be physically and mentally healthy.


Children Need Playmates: 


It is important for children to have time with their peers.  By playing with others, children discover their strengths and weaknesses, develop a sense of belonging, and learn how to get along with others. Consider finding a good children’s program through neighbors, local community centers, schools, or your local park and recreation department.

Parents Can be Great Playmates: 

Join the fun! Playing Monopoly, reading, or coloring with a child gives you a great opportunity to share ideas and spend time together in a relaxed setting.


Playtime is a fabulous way to teach children in a fun and loving environment. It helps the children learn many different skills that they will use throughout their whole lives. Playgroup that is offered at the South Franklin Community Center in Provo, Utah is a wonderful way to help your children meet friends and play with children that are their own age. 


Where I found some of the information: 
http://childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-development/play-work-of-children/pl5/

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201409/playing-children-should-you-and-if-so-how

Friday, March 20, 2015

Let's Talk About Bike-Riding

With the Spring-like weather we've been having lately maybe it's a good time to teach your child to ride a bike!

When it comes to children and bikes, here are a few concerns parents have shared with us:

  • Am I the only one that struggles with teaching my child how to ride a bike? 
  • I'm worried that my child still doesn't know how to ride a bike. Is this something to be worried about? 
  • Is there an easy, but safe way to teach my child to ride a bike? 

We all know that our children are not born with all the talents in the world. They might excel in one area of development, but struggle in another. Some children catch on quickly when learning to ride a bike, whereas for others, it takes some extra practice.

I've heard about several methods parents have used to teach their child to ride a bike. There's the "hold onto their seat" method, the "training wheels" method, or even the "let them go" method where parents set them free to learn for themselves how to ride. Recently, I've come across another method that many parents have given a two thumbs up rating. I call this the "balancing bike" method.

The Balancing Bike Method


This method is meant to be a step-by-step progression approach to easily and safely teach your child to ride a bike (citation). In the beginning it will isolate major individual components of bike riding and then bring them together in the end to master the skill. The major components for riding a bike include learning how to balance, brake, pedal, and steer. This video gives great instruction on how to use the balancing bike method, but before jumping into the video, take time to get your child ready to ride.

Deciding when to teach your child


Generally, children are physically and mentally ready to learn how to ride a bike between the ages of three and six – this of course is not a set in stone rule. Remember not to force your child to learn to ride, but instead keep it FUN!!

Bike fitting


Buying a bike that fits your child is crucial. I know it's tempting to buy a too-large of bike and think he or she will eventually grow into it. Unfortunately, this can slow down or even completely halt your child's learning progress. When riding large, cumbersome bikes, children are more likely to lose control and crash. To ensure safety, he or she should feel comfortable and in control of the bike at all times.

What is the right size of bike for your child? According to experts from REI, they recommend the "standover" test, which instructs your child to stand over the top tube of the bike with both feet planted on the ground (see photo below). You will know the bike is the right height if there is a 2" to 4" clearance between him or her and the top tube.

Click here if you need instructions for online bike fitting.

Also, before buying a bike, make sure you can adjust the seat position to a comfortable height for your child. Remember, for both kids and adults, the seat should be situated so legs never fully straighten during a down stroke. It's good to have a little bend in the knee at the bottom of your pedaling motion.

Further adjustments that might be helpful are explained on this website.

(Source of information: http://www.rei.com/expertadvice/articles/bike+fit.html)

Watch the How-To video

For another helpful website for teaching the balancing bike method, click here.

We would love to hear from you and your experiences with teaching your child to ride a bike. Please comment below!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Learning to Speak

            Sometimes as mothers and fathers we actually do the right thing for our child without even knowing it.  When the doctor handed me my baby for the first time I began to talk to her softly.  I think I told her I loved her and was glad she was with us.  When I changed her diaper for the first time she was awake, a little fussy, and looked so small and vulnerable that I could not help but talk to her.  I don’t remember what I said specifically but I spoke softly in a sing-song voice that I did not know I had.  She calmed down when she heard me speak so I continued; in fact, I talked to her a lot.  Not just when I changed her diaper but when I held her, carried her, played with her, traveled with her, pretty much all the time except when she was asleep. I was already succeeding as a great parent and I didn't even know it!

I found out later that it is important to a child’s language development to begin talking to them when they are brand new babies.  How do babies learn to speak?  What can a parent do to help?  I learned that by the time my little girl turned two and a half, she would have 600 words in her vocabulary and by age five or six she would know thousands of words. Wow!

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Babies, toddlers and children progress at different rates.  Just as some babies are early crawlers; and some are late walkers, children gain language at different rates as well. All babies; regardless of their culture or native language, share the same steps to language learning. They begin with eye contact and will look at an object they want while reaching and vocalizing. The pre-linguistic part of language development begins with blowing bubbles, vocalizations, and crying. They do what works.



Steps to Language 
They begin talking with single words, usually a noun.  These first words can mean a whole sentence.  For example “up” could mean, “Mom I want you to pick me up.” These words are called holophrases, whole phrases which are full of meaning, because they are self-contained. Then children will begin using words in a telegraphic fashion.  Basically they only use the words that will convey what they want like “baby go”.  After the telegraphic stage they learn words at an amazing rate.  Two-year-olds, for example, often learn two to three new words each day. Three year olds have some trouble with pronouns but by the time they are four and five they will have mastered them. Four year olds will speak in complete and compound sentences, they will even make up words to fit their needs (Crosser, 2008)


Helping language development    
            The first way parents can help their child in language development is speaking in the way I did with my new born infant.  I did not know it at the time but this style of speech is called parentese and it provides a scaffold for the learning of language. Parentese is not baby talk, it involves using a slightly higher than normal pitch and exaggerated vowel sounds.  You need to use short and simple sentences, along with repetition.

            One of the best ways to help your baby in their language development is to provide an environment free of abuse and excess stress.  This will free your baby’s brain to create the necessary language connections. Encourage any attempts they make in their language development.  Above all, relax and enjoy your child, you are probably already doing most of the things that will help your child with their language development.


Contact Help Me Grow for more information! 801-691-5322