Concerned mom submitted the following question to Peace At Home:
Feeling super disappointed as I write this… It’s the first week of Pre-K for my almost 5-year-old, and at drop off today, the teacher pulled Todd aside to let him know that our son was being mean to a little boy in his class yesterday. This particular boy has very long hair that he wears in a ponytail. Our son was telling him that he was a girl because he has long hair.
I am feeling so sad about this because we are trying hard to raise our boys to be accepting of others, even if they are different from them. I’m also feeling pretty angry that my kid was being mean. I feel that there is a difference between being curious about differences – which I would think would be a normal thing that is going on at this age – and making fun of those differences.
Cora Megan, MA, Peace At Home teacher offers a response:
Until about age of 6 or 7, children base gender perceptions entirely on broad assumptions of appearance. For example, anyone with short hair must be a boy and anyone with long hair must be a girl. Much of the conversation that happens around these topics in a Pre-K classroom revolve around simply trying to sort this stuff out, while learning how their words influence others.
I would not make a big deal out of this at home. I would focus on the facts: “Your teacher mentioned that you told your classmate with a ponytail that he was a girl. Tell me more about that.” Your child might respond something really innocent like “Yeah, because he has long hair and girls have long hair.” This opens up the opportunity for you to have a conversation about that. “Sometimes girls have short hair and boys have long hair. Sometimes boys wear pink and girls wear blue. It’s OK to be different. Next time you could ask, “are you a boy or a girl?”
You could also pose to your child, “When you said he was a girl, how do you think that made him feel?” This is an opportunity to encourage empathy and explore the cause and effect of your child’s words.
We (parents and teachers) have a tendency to project our own adult emotions and perceptions onto very simple child interactions, when the best response is usually to stay unemotional and matter-of-fact. Be careful not to jump to conclusion that your child was being mean, and assume that he was being a typical 4 year old, trying to figure out how this very interesting world works!
Join Cora Megan in our upcoming interactive, online class “Positive Discipline for Toddlers and Preschoolers: Challenging Behaviors and Setting Limits” coming up at 8:15 PM on Monday, 9/23/19.
Your child is already (or finally) off to kindergarten. Did you go back to school shopping? Maybe purchase a new lunch box? If this is your child’s first time with lunch away from home, help her get ready in both practical and social ways. I’ve borrowed a few ideas and added a few more I learned along the way.
- Practice opening everything. Everything. Containers, lunchboxes, water bottles, juice boxes. If they can’t open it, don’t send it. There are not enough teachers on duty to open things, and really we want teachers focused on other things anyway—like eating their own lunch and helping kids navigate the chaos.
- Speaking of chaos, most elementary school students don’t have much time to eat and a lot is happening in a short amount of time. Practice with a timer (about 15 minutes!) so your child has a sense of how much time they have to eat. This will also give you a sense of how much they can eat so you don’t over pack or under pack.
- Practice eating at the table. If you have gotten in the habit of distractions while eating, like tablets or books, it’s time to put them away. Practice the expectation of staying in the seat with bottoms on the chair. This is very hard for many kids, so do gentle reminders of what the expectation is. This is hard for me too. Can someone come remind me to stay sitting while I eat?
- Set the expectation that school lunches are not chatty lunches. I 100% disagree with the punishment of silent lunch, but I do understand that the kids are so tempted to spend their lunchtime talking instead of eating. Recess may come before or after lunch, so they will have time to get in some socializing.If they can open their containers, eat their food, and stay focused long enough to get the job done, that might seem like enough. However, there are a few things you can do to help them be the best elementary citizens they can be.
- Introduce your child to new foods and cultures. This might only be in theory if he eats 6 things. That’s ok. The main thing is openness to the idea that a classmate might have a different lunch and like it. One of my favorite books about this is “The Sandwich Swap” by Queen Rania of Jordan Al Abdullah. In case you are all running to the same libraries, I will include a list of other books at the end of this post for more options.
- Introduce your child to the concept of food allergies. If they havenever come across a food allergy, the idea that some foods are safe for him or herbut not a friend, it will be mind blowing. It will helps children understand if they can’t bring certain foods to school or swap foods. Sometimes a friend will have to have a different treat when someone brings in food, and knowing ahead of time prevents some of the jealousy. It will also help any food allergy kiddos out if you ask your child to direct questions to the teacher or you. They will thank you for not having to field another set of, “Don’t you wonder what peanuts taste like?” questions.
That is enough to get your little one started. You might find yourself having other conversations down the road, perhaps around food insecurity, why some kids have hot lunch, why so-and-so can bring x and your child can’t, and more.
And double check that lids are on. Take it from someone who has made this mistake too many times.
Books for Starting the Conversation about School Lunch
- “The Sandwich Swap” by Queen Rania of Jordan Al Abdullah
- “Everybody Cooks Rice” by Nora Dooley
- “Everybody Bakes Bread” by Nora Dooley
- “All Are Welcome” by Alexandra Penfold
- “A Bad Case of Stripes” by David Shannon
- “A Normal Pig” by K-Fai Steele
- “On the Day You Begin” by Jacqueline Woodson
Becca Limberg lives in North Carolina with her husband and two girls, ages 9 and 6. Her kids have been in public school, and now one is in private school and one is homeschooled. She is a stay-at-home mom, part-time student, and apparently now a 6U soccer coach. She worked for Barnes and Noble for 10 years, so if you ask her, she will probably give you a book recommendation.
Want to get some ideas for helping your kids thrive in school, check out Peace At Home recorded class “School Success: Inspire Motivation” for parents of children in Kindergarten through 8th grade.
Your older child was so excited about the new baby. But, now that your baby has arrived, he is uncooperative and sometimes acts like a baby, himself. Meanwhile, you’re trying to control your youngest as she starts to throw tantrums and learns the word “no.”
During this live, online class, we will help you to: – understand why your kids are acting up – create routines that prevent challenging behaviors from emerging – promote cooperative relationships between your baby and everyone else in the family – implement easy, everyday practices that make for a peaceful home
Presenter: JoAnn Robinson, PhD
MICHELLE FIRESTONE, Chronicle Staff Writer
MANSFIELD — In today’s world, digital technology can sometimes feel like it has taken over our lives.
Wednesday evening, Aaron Weintraub, a behavior specialist at Holiday Hill Day Camp & Recreation Center in Mansfield, told a group of Mansfield Middle School parents that, while digital devices can be used for educational purposes, use of the devices can also lead to social isolation. He encouraged parents to restrict their child’s use of social media and digital devices and use meal times to “reconnect.” “Establish some rules based on your values,” Weintraub said during a workshop at the middle school.
The workshop was presented by Peace At Home Parenting Solutions, a Storrs-based program that aims to teach good parenting techniques.
Weintraub said parents should consider whether “work time” is separate from “play time” when reviewing their child’s “screen time.” He defined “screen time” as time spent on smart phones, tablets, computers, televisions and video game systems. Weintraub said parents should be “following the rules” they set for their children as much as possible. “I turn my screen off a half-hour before bed because I know it’s going to affect my ability to fall asleep,” he said.
Shannon Sion, the mother of a seventh-grader and a fifth-grader at MMS, said she used to try to get her children to stop watching television. Now, she wants them to watch it, but do so together. “The irony of it to me is not lost,” she said. Sion said she thinks she has stricter rules and stricter time limits for digital device usage than other parents. However, she said she understands her oldest child needs to use digital devices sometimes for school. Sion said, sometimes, her children “call her out” for her social media usage, which she uses to check a recipe or her calendar, for example. She said she tries to limit her social media time when she is with her children. “I’m using it as a resource,” Sion said. “I’m not using it for TV or movies.”
Weintraub said, historically, parents have always worried about new technology. He said before digital media, parents worried about their child’s use of radio and then television. “When I was growing up, I was limited to an hour of TV,” Weintraub said. “I only saw ‘The Golden Girls’ and ‘The Cosby Show.’”
Roxana Mocanu, the mother of a seventh-grader at MMS, said if she asks one of her children to put down their book, they are more likely to do that than shut off their screens. “They feel they are missing out and you wouldn’t get that same fear with a book,” she said.
Weintraub said “screen time” can lead to “disregulated or addictive behavior.” “Some initial studies are showing that it can have negative effects on brain development,” he said. Ultimately, Weintraub said parents shouldn’t blame themselves for their children’s use of digital devices. “These programs are addictive by design,” he said. Weintraub said there aren’t a “lot of great solutions” to monitor content on iPhones, but more are available for Android phones. Weintraub said one alternative to using digital devices is having children play with non-electronic toys. “Discovering older toys can be fun,” he said.
For more information, visit the Peace at Home Parenting Solutions website or call 1-661-PARENT-6.
Follow Michelle Firestone on Twitter – @mfirestonetc.
This article appears in our print edition and in our Chronicle e-edition (available at 4 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. Saturday) complete with all photos and special sections.
Read original article: https://www.thechronicle.com/stories/20190321TECHTALK.php
Dialogue from Peace at Home Parenting’s Private Facebook Page
We’re having some debate about self soothing. The doctor told us that our 4 month old son needs to learn how to self soothe in the night when he wakes up and be able to get himself back to sleep.
During the day, he sometimes cries when he is bored and wants to be held. Once we pick him up he is fine and just wants to laugh and play.
I have started swaddling him and putting him in his crib during the day when he won’t let us put him down. At which point he screams until someone picks him up.
Should we let him cry until he figures it out or should we pick him up? And how do you train a baby to self soothe to get themselves back to bed at night without practicing doing it during the day?
- Comment: My oldest will soon be 14. He was my Velcro child for the first four years of his life. We co slept with him and I had him in an ergo carrier as I needed my hands to get things done. He would nap on my back as I vacuumed (as a baby 6mnth – 2yr) or cooked dinner. He now of course sleeps in his own room and is very independent and self assured. I asked a mom who had kids that were already adults what to do. She said each child is different and if my child wants to be held then do so. That will give them the reassurance that they need to be able to separate and explore. Ironically my youngest had no interest in being held much after being an infant as he always wanted to keep up with his brother. He is now more ‘attached’ than when my oldest was the same age (elementary school age). Do what works for you and your child. As a side note skin to skin contact or holding your child/baby is great for helping them calm their nervous system down.
Someone once said to me in terms of parenting: the days can go by really slow but the years go by really fast.
- Comment: I would disagree with your doctor. 4 months is too early to expect self-soothing from all babies. Some may accomplish it but many will not. Brain science would highly recommend that you help your child soothe every time. As they grow, they may need you less and less but you don’t want their brain bathing in stress hormones from being left to cry. We tried crying it out as recommended to us for our now 19-year-old. It was stressful for all of us and not effective. Trust me, they will be in college before you know it! Give them all the love and nurturing while you can even though you are exhausted! Best wishes!
- Comment: They are only a baby once. Pick him up, love on him. That’s what he needs, and that’s what will make him feel stable and grow up knowing he is protected and loved. Our son is almost 14, our daughter is 2. Both kids got snuggles and picked up when they needed it. Every time. The 14 year old is a troubled sleeper, always has been. The 2 year old is independent and knows we will always come for her so we have no issues with bed time anymore. She lays right down and she’s out all night.
- Comment: Agree with all the above. Pick him up. Enjoy. There only little for so long. Trust your instincts.
- Comment: Personally, at four months, I feel they need the contact. We started working on self soothing when my babies were closer to eight months, it wasn’t easy! Snuggle then as much as you can, soon enough they’re in high school! Happy Parenting!
- Reply: us too 7-9 months is when we worked on this with our kiddos…and we now have an 8,5, and 2 y/o who are wonderful sleepers.
- Comment: I agree with everyone above—4 months is so young to expect self-soothing. Love on that baby! Having said this, you need to do what is best for your whole family— in other words if you need a moment, it is okay to sometimes let the little one cry. But I wouldn’t expect the baby to self soothe consistently at this age. Of course, all kids and parents are different— and thus what works for one parent-baby relationship— even in the same family—may not work for another. Hang in there! These baby days/ nights are hard but fleeting! And a key to enjoying them is not having unrealistic expectations for the baby or yourself.
Comment: JoAnn Robinson from Peace at Home Parenting: There is something magical that happens with many 4 month olds–they are becoming aware of their surroundings and want to be engaged in it. Their distance vision is improving and the world is now in focus and very interesting. Our daughter went through this…didn’t want to nap, wanted to be held and engaged. I just about lost it without those daytime naps. It lasted for a couple of months and then napping came back. The advice of your peers is good. Your doc is not entirely off-base, however. Your son may need more support to slow down and disengage from the ‘excitement’ of being awake. Help him get ready for sleep with darkened room, humming one song over and over or using a wave or rain sound maker. Use one consistent phrase that he will learn as a cue that you are leaving him. Try to have 10 days where his go-to-sleep times are not interrupted so that you can focus on the routine you want to create. He may no longer like swaddling. His arms and hands are gaining strength and purpose as his brain develops; some children cease to enjoy swaddling at this age. My children began using a pacifier at this age to help them self soothe, but our daughter especially, needed lots of time in the Snuggly carrier until she was 5-6 months old. Do children need to practice during the day what you want them to do at night? Not necessarily, although for moms who want to stop co-sleeping or having baby on them during all naps, I do recommend they practice during the day first. We’re here if you think you would like some individual coaching/support through this phase.
- Comment: Here’s a great article on the science of attachment parenting. Impact of attachment, temperament and parenting on human development
- Comment: Oddly enough, it helps with naps or bedtime if you put them down before they are cranky tired. Singing and connecting and touch in the crib make the crib a magical yummy space. I leave the room when she is happy and return to reconnect (but rarely pick her up at this point ). … Babies are building trust. She trusts that I have not left. Bit she has a happy, independent nature, and each child is unique.
- Parents are entirely responsible for when, where and what is served to children
- Children are entirely responsible for whether they eat and how much
This plan eliminates food battles and improves children’s natural abilities to notice when satisfied.
News 8 continuing our look at Positive Co-Parenting.
After Justin Michaels had gotten into a good co-parenting groove with his ex-wife, Chantel, he introduced her to his new girlfriend, Laurah.
“She was in nursing school at that point, and I’m a nurse, so we were talking about that,” remembers Laurah. “Chantel is one of the nicest humans ever, so, we got along from the start.”
Justin and Laurah got married, as did Chantel and Tyler. Suddenly, little Remi had a step-mom and a steo-dad added to the mix.
“The idea of the mother and the father and the nuclear family, that’s not the way kids are growing up now,” says Ruth Freeman, founder of Peace At Home Parenting Solutions.
She says “planning” can make co-parenting a whole lot easier.
The full interview with Freeman of Peace At Home Parenting Solutions can be viewed below:
Parent in the Moment has created a short webinar to teach you some quick, simple, actionable ways to make mindfulness a habit for every member of your family. We’ve broken down the sometimes nebulous concept of mindfulness into 5 habits:
- Be present.
- Be calm.
- Be compassionate.
- Be grateful.
We’ll show you how to practice each of these 5 habits as a parent and how to teach your children to practice them as well. Children look to the adults in their lives as models for how to calm their extreme emotions, handle conflicts, and interact with loved ones and strangers.
Exchange conflict for compromise and communication
by Sarah Cody
View at https://www.wtnh.com/on-air/connecticut-families/positive-co-parenting-part-1-exchange-conflict-for-compromise-and-communication/1731905496
BURLINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) – Divorce is difficult. Oftentimes, mom and dad need to put aside contentious feelings to make sure their child still feels stable and secure. News 8’s Connecticut Families is taking a two part look at how to co-parent in a positive way.
“There were other times when she wasn’t too happy with me but was still a good co-parent,” says Justin Michaels, of Burlington.
He, and his ex-wife Chantel, divorced when their son, Remi, was a baby.
“It can be really stressful when you’re young, both in college,” says Justin. “We owned a home, had a newborn.”
Chantel adds: “It’s hard. You have this little human being that loves both of you very much and it was hard enough to be split and share my time.”
At first, co-parenting was difficult as Justin and Chantel figured out their new relationship. They worked hard – agreeing on one thing: the didn’t want Remi to feel like he was in the middle.
“I come from a split family, so, I knew exactly what I didn’t want to do,” says Justin.
“Particularly when there’s a romantic relationship that’s broken up, that child becomes a symbol of the loss, a symbol of a lot of things,” says Ruth Freeman, a licensed clinical social worker and founder of Peace at Home Parenting Solutions, a team of educators and child development specialists that offer online classes.
She says don’t make a child take sides.