We live in an ever-changing world with so much going on that sometimes it’s really hard to know how to talk to our kids about it all. Check out what Stacy Goody, an elementary School Counselor, put together to help us share news with kids in an appropriate way!
Provider Spotlight: Lauren Palianto
Our provider spotlight today focuses on the amazing work of our friend and colleague, Lauren Palianto of Decoded Learning Center in East Hanover, NJ. Lauren is a certified Orton-Gillingham Dyslexia Therapist with an M.A. in Reading Instruction & Assessment and extensive experience working as a Special Education Teacher. Decoded provides individualized instruction focusing on students of all ages and abilities with learning differences such as: Dyslexia, ADHD/ADD, language processing disorders, working memory deficits and executive functioning challenges. Be sure to check out her website below for more information.
NJ moms and mamas-to-be share their hopes for the new year.
‘Tis the season for resolutions and whether you believe in them or not, we can all agree we’re ready to have a much happier new year. We asked NJ moms and moms-to-be to share their resolutions for 2021. Read on and tell us what you hope to focus on in the new year in the comments below. Happy 2021!
It’s not about the power struggle.I hear this often from parents who are frustrated with their child’s behaviors and the difficulty of making their child accede to their demands. But is parenting really a phase in your and your child’s life that’s about control—a power struggle?
From birth to age 18 is a time during which you are supporting and growing your child; it’s not a tug of war of wills. When it becomes one, I ask parents to think about whose needs are being frustrated—are they yours or your child’s?
Any relationship that becomes a constant struggle is no longer enjoyable, but when it’s with your child, you don’t have the option of ending the relationship. Your relationship with your child shouldn’t be so difficult all the time. If it is, it’s time to take a look at what your relationship with your child is and is not.
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It’s not. It’s about you, the parent, and the ‘stuff’ that you carried into this gig. You and I both know that parenting did not come with a manual with a colorful cover, an appendix with chapters that range from infancy to adulthood, and we certainly didn’t have to take an exam or gain a license to become a parent. If you ask me, before we decide to start a family, we should be required to take a course and gain a certificate that says, “You’ve Been Warned. You’re about to get on the bumpiest roller coaster ride of your life. You will learn and teach, you will watch and be watched, you will guide and be guided.”
When I became a parent, I had a vision of who my child was going to be. I often was lost in my daydreams of a blue-eyed little boy who would eat, sleep and follow my every instruction, who was athletic, confident and social. Well, I did have a beautiful blue-eyed boy but the rest didn’t work out like just like that.
Part of becoming a parent means that we need to understand and recover from the parenthood that we received. It means that we need to understand and become aware of the messages that were given to us, the wounds we continue to carry, the messages we continue to give ourselves that started off as our parent’s judgments, criticisms, and conditions and then became our own words that we speak to ourselves, with or without awareness.
Our Children are Not Here to Satisfy our Needs
Our children are not our narcissistic extensions. They are not here to fit into our visions and expectations of who they will and should become. Our children are born with clean slates and they have the potential to do everything, anything. But it is through our criticisms, expectations and our conditional love that creates judgments and deflates motivation and potential. We have been given by our parents, and their parents and their parents, a checklist of who we “should” become as parents and who our children “should” become. But that checklist may not be in sync with who your child is, who they want to be, and therein lies the problem. Instead, we live a life where we are “should-ing” all over ourselves.
Do the Dance
When two people dance, one person moves forward and the other responds by stepping back; one moves to the side, and the other follows. The dancers listen to the body language, feel the direction in which the pair is being pulled. Dancing is an art because there are no clear-cut rules about the exact steps. Yes, we can take dance lessons and have an idea of the type of movement, the beat, the general idea.
Parenting is a dance. A dance with no instruction on how your child will respond, what to say, how often to say it. It requires timing and awareness of what is needed, how much and when to stop. When to say something and when not to; when to guide and when to step away; when to intervene and when to let your child work it out, or not.
I know, it’s exhausting, but being in tune with your child will make your parenting more productive in that you are moving in the same direction. When you move out of sync, you, the parent, and your child become frustrated and the interaction is no longer enjoyable.
Image by: Thrive Global
When you think about it, our children only live in our homes for a short period of time. Granted, the individual days may feel long, but the years are flying by. In most cases, we have our children for 18 short years; this is the most powerful time in their emotional development, and one that will shape the rest of their adult life.
When I first made that realization (while listening to one of Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s presentations), I panicked. In fact, I cried. This is the time when our children build their internal messages—when they build their sense of self as separate from us, as well as when they build their emotional and relationship foundations. This is when they develop their friendships and their sense of self-love. Our parental voice becomes internalized as their own. This voice will guide their decisions, relationships, friendships, and work habits for years to come. No pressure, right?
For me, the hardest part of parenting has been re-living and re-visiting my childhood “issues,” the ones I thought were behind me. I didn’t think “those” experiences had an effect on me any longer because I was “older” and done with them. Well, as it turns out, not so much.
You Will Be Triggered
Something your child says or does—or how they say it—will trigger you. And when you are triggered, your response will be intense, and likely scary to you and your child. In fact, your response will likely not be commensurate with your child’s actual behavior.
When I made this connection—with Dr. Shefali’s help—and discovered that I was parenting from my own childhood wounds, I was taken aback. But I also realized that many of the times when my children asked me why I became so loud or angry, it was because I was responding to a pretty benign situation with a strong sense of hurt and disappointed that had to do with my own unresolved childhood demons.
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Working to make a child’s school experience transition successful, here are some tips to help ease anxieties and build success.
Drive by the school your child will be attending to familiarize them. Stop and play on the playground! This is a great way to build excitement as well as prepare them. They will have an pre-existing level of comfort that will build confidence for those first few days.
I also recommend lunch rehearsal. Pack their lunch and have them practice independently taking it out, opening their lunch containers, and even how to heat up, if needed. All schools have lunch aides to assist but creating opportunities for independence so your little one who may be to shy to ask for help yet or does not have to wait too long for that help.
Practice the school schedule! Yes, that means those summer lazy sleep in days (at least for my children) need to start getting their school sleep schedule back on rhythm. I can thank high school’s summer sport schedule for kick starting me and my high schooler with early morning wake ups, but now I have to shift my elementary kids back to earlier bedtimes and earlier wakes up times as well.
Books- setting the tone!
Books are great emotional tools that helps prepare for the upcoming transitions as well as the emotions with change.
For working on parent attachment and being able to successfully separate, I recommend:
Attachment & Separation
Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
This book establishes a loving gesture that helps an child detach successfully. This is an easy quick routine to add to your morning send off!
Leap Back Home to Me by Lauren Thompson
This book highlights all different adventures while the parent will be there at home waiting for the child. The message of independence with comfort of a waiting parent will help the kindergarten be ready to “leap” to school!
The Invisible String By Patrice Karst
This book is a fantastic metaphor of how love connects us even when we are not together. I like to pair this book with a small physical transitional object like a ring, necklace, string bracelet etc…
I Love You All Day Long by by Francesca Rusackas
Another simple book that reassures a child of their parents’ love which helps with separation.
Here are books that will help set the tone and ease anxieties. When we know what to expect, the unknown becomes less scary!
- Kindergarten Rocks! By Kate Davis
- First Day Jitters by Julie Danneber
- Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
- Off to Kindergarten by Tony Johnston
- Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate
- The Night Before Kindergarten. by Natasha Wing
- First Day of School by Mercer Mayer
Managing Your Own Anxiety!
Last but not least, how we, as parents, feel! I know I struggled when my babies went to kindergarten. I still remember happily waving goodbye to my kids oozing confidence for them to absorb. Then, after the school bell rang with all the school children tucked behind the doors as parents shuffled to their cars, I balled crying. I share my story as an example of how it is important to set the tone for our children. If we show anxiety and showing uncertainty, our children will read this and increase their anxieties. So, as Dr. Liz’s says, “Fake it, Until You Make It”. Of course, it is ok for both to be nervous, but this is the time for you to be their rock. And if anyone wants to cry together, I will be balling as I send my oldest to his first day of high school, we can meet up after that bell!
Happy First Day of School!
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Not so long ago, a friend asked me whether I plan to send my youngest child, my third, to kindergarten on time, or if I would be choosing to hold her back. The question didn’t surprise me. “Redshirting,” or delaying entrance to kindergarten by a year, is not uncommon where I live, and my daughter would be making the cutoff in our district by a scant five days. That made it likely she’d be the very youngest in her grade, something I’ve come to see could actually be a positive thing academically.But the timing of my friend’s inquiry did throw me a bit: My daughter was just 2 ½ years old. Surely that should have bought us some time to decide whether she’ll be ready at almost-5 for kindergarten.
Still, you can’t blame parents of children on the younger side for their grade for worrying early and often, particularly when we have to suffer through anxiety-inducing commercials for websites and other wares peddled to get our kids prepared for kindergarten, which sounds increasingly like an intimidating, unforgiving place rather than the warm welcome to education that it used to be.
Here are a few things I’ve learned from interviewing moms who’ve already made the decision of when to start their child in kindergarten:
Know your state’s kindergarten age rules.
According to Superpages, an online source of local information from across the country, a total of 32 states in the United States require that a child be 5 years old on or before September 1 in the year he or she starts kindergarten, with 11 states having a cutoff date between September 1 and October 15. There are also 7 states that offer local schools the option set their own required dates for when children should start school.
You can start by finding your state’s rules here, but it’s still worth a call to your school district’s office as these rules can change. You can also find out if special exceptions can be granted by the school principal, as was the case for one of the moms Parents interviewed…
Photo from: Shutterstock
Wouldn’t it be great to be able prevent temper tantrums and power struggles!?
Did you know that power struggles are part of normal development for children? It’s how our children learn to be in control of their actions and emotions. For many parents, this can feel like an overwhelming time where there is a rise in new behaviors that you haven’t seen before, such as falling to the floor, screaming, shouting ‘no’, and making unreasonable demands. Yup, you have arrived!
It’s a Matter of Control
First let’s talk about CONTROL. Think about control as a beach bucket. Each time you ask your child to do something or follow a direction, (e.g., “It’s time to go,” “Grab your shoes,” or “Come to the table to eat dinner,” etc.) you are adding one scoop of sand into the bucket. Before you know it, that bucket will overflow, and your child will feel a loss of control and a rush of emotions. Think about how many directions you give your child in one hour. That will fill up the bucket quickly, which can s be overwhelming for your child. Result: temper tantrum.
To prevent the overflow, you must take scoops out of the bucket throughout the day, or in other words, give your child a sense of control. Here’s an easy way to give your child a sense of CONTROL (works for any age).
- “Do you want the pink plate or green plate?”
- “Do you want to leave in 5 minutes or 7 minutes?”
- “Would you like to wear white socks or green socks?”
- “Do you want to push the cart or ride first?”
By offering your child choices, it counterbalances the directions and demands. With that said, this gives your child that sense of control so her “bucket” doesn’t overflow, which means fewer temper tantrums.
Let’s take this strategy one step further and use it as a form of correction. Imagine your child is about to throw the TV remote out of frustration. As a parent, the temptation is to shout “NOOOOOO!” or “Put that down!”
Instead, give her a choice. “Do you want to put that in my hand or on the couch? If your child does not independently make your choice, you can help him pick one by guiding his hand. Double win for you, the parent! You have deflected a power struggle AND taken a scoop out of the bucket at the same time!
Next let’s talk about EMOTIONS.
A child learns appropriate emotional behavior and communication from our interactions while speaking and reacting to them. We help our children learn how to manage anger, disappointment and express their wants and needs. When a child speaks or expresses himself rudely or inappropriately, be proactive before reacting. Model how you want the child to speak or act.
Here are a few examples:
6-year-old: “I’m the worst at writing”
Dad: “I feel frustrated when I write so much and have to erase it too.” It’s not easy for me either.
Dad is recognizing the emotion behind the behavior and validating the child’s emotion. By modeling an appropriate statement this will teach the child how to express feelings instead of acting out the emotional frustration.
Mom: “No thanks, Mom” and she demonstrates placing the crackers gently on the table, instead of giving an angry reaction.2-year-old: Grabs toy from brother’s hand and says “Mine!” using a loud and mean voice.
Dad: “Brother, I do or my turn?” (as Dad gently places toy back in the brother’s hand).
Again, instead of Dad grabbing the toy back from the 2-year-old and shouting “Don’t grab!” he modeled the appropriate way to react when he wants to use the toy.
Most of the time, your child will mimic your language and emotion. You are modeling an appropriate emotional response and preventing a power struggle. If parents answer children when they use a rude tone or are upset, children will learn that their communication was effective.
* Putting more work in upfront will prevent temper tantrums and teach appropriate communication.
*Don’t react! Instead, model what you would like to hear instead of stating what the child is doing wrong.
Rebekah Immitt is a Developmental and Behavioral Specialist who specializes in assisting parents, teachers, and professionals to understand behavior as a form of communication. She also helps children learn how to regulate their emotions and communicate more effectively with adults and their peers. To learn more, visit: www.babiestobackpacks.com
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