child-playing-laundry-basket-peace-at-home-parenting

Help Young Children Play on their Own

By Cora Megan, M.A.  and JoAnn Robinson, PhD   

Many parents are asking, “How am I supposed to homeschool my child AND work from home? I am not a teacher!” This can feel overwhelming and impossible. You are not alone.

It is important to start small and plan no more than one or two activities for your child per day. Use items that you can easily find around the house- don’t reinvent the wheel. Here are some ways to set you and your child up for success:

  • Organize your space to promote independent play. Remove hazards, and offer a variety of “open-ended” materials that your child can use independently. Cardboard boxes keep children of all ages engaged for long periods of time because they can be used in so many different ways. Use couch cushions for climbing or to build a fort. Offer buckets, Tupperware containers, or reusable shopping bags for filling up/dumping or transporting objects. You may be surprised at how simple activities like this keep your child occupied while promoting critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Give your child an assignment or a task to accomplish. For example, ask them to go into the backyard and collect 5 acorns, 3 pebbles, and 1 twig. For toddlers, keep the tasks very simple, such as filling up a bag with stuffed animals. Encourage them to check in with you when they are finished. Together you can count how many are in the bag. Praise them for completing the assignment with high 5’s. Not only does this promote your child’s independence, but it also brings them back to connect with you – an important motivating factor!
  • Set up a “workspace” for your child next to where you are working. Use materials such as legos, train sets, coloring/activity books, or even sorting socks. If you set it up as a “job” for your child, they will feel like their work is important, just like yours! To encourage this independence for longer chunks of time, use a timer. Try 10 minutes of independent “work” to start and adjust as needed.
  • Be sure to praise your child when they complete a task or are behaving the way you would like them to behave. You will get MORE of the behavior that you praise. For example, “You are being so helpful by matching those socks.” or “You worked so hard to collect all of those trucks!” Talking about each truck is great to promote language development, too.
  • Finally, make it a priority! Being in nature for a hike or playing outdoors reduces stress, and the exposure to sunlight and exercise helps to improve sleep therefore strengthening our immune systems.  Find 20 minutes every day, even during a light rain shower, to be outside with your children.  Stomp in the puddles together.  Sing a song while you walk.  Make some positive memories in the stressful time.

This is a challenging period for everyone, so be kind to yourself and to your child. The more practice your child gets being independent, the easier this will become.

Check out on-demand recorded class: Working from Home: How Can I Help My Young Child Play More on Their Own?

toddler screams

Help! My Toddler is Screaming a Lot! by Cora Megan, MA

Toddlers are impulsive and have a hard time stopping themselves from doing things that:

  • Feel good (yup, screaming feels good to little ones)
  • Worked in the past (chances are that every time your toddler screams someone looks at them or reacts in some way – kids are built to seek your attention)

Learning to do something different, like use their words, takes patience, practice and repetition. Here are some effective strategies to use when your child screams:

  • Remain non-reactive and matter-of -act. (Yes, this is challenging. You have mirror neurons in your brain and when your child gets aggressive, your brain wants to do the same thing. You’ll need some tools to be able to calm your own brain.)
  • Say in a really calm voice, “You are having trouble getting your socks on” or “You really don’t want your diaper changed right now.”

This approach gives your child words to what they are feeling and trying to express, but doesn’t really pay any attention to the screaming.

Usually after you narrate what they are thinking/feeling, children stop the screaming and may give you some sort of affirmative sign. Then you can offer another option in a positive, expressive voice:

  • “Instead of screaming you can say, Help me please or I need space!”

Your child may not be able to say those words right away, but the more you respond in a calm, matter-of-fact way with minimal emotion, offering a different method of communication, the more likely your child will catch on.

Learning to be your child’s calm center is a gift that will strengthen their well-being and your relationship for a lifetime.

For more strategies to help young children cooperate, check out our Flash Class called “Positive Discipline for Toddlers and Preschoolers.”  If you are having persistent struggles with your young child, email us at info@peaceathomeparenting.com to arrange a private consultation with our early childhood experts. 

Aaron Weintraub

Expert: Limit kids’ screen time

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 …

Read moreExpert: Limit kids’ screen time

Debate about self-soothing as a solution when waking up in the night

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 …

Read moreDebate about self-soothing as a solution when waking up in the night

P@H on Channel 8 – WTNH Positive Co-Parenting Part 2

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. Related: Positive Co-Parenting Part 1: Exchange conflict for compromise and communication “She was in nursing school at that point, and I’m a nurse, so we were talking about …

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coparenting well

P@H on Channel 8 – WTNH Positive Co-Parenting Part 1

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 …

Read moreP@H on Channel 8 – WTNH Positive Co-Parenting Part 1

Latina Mother POV: Parenting and Culture

Yadira CarvajalSpanish blog >

I grew up in Bogota, Colombia and when my oldest son was just three years old I moved to Storrs, CT to accompany my husband while he pursued his PhD at the University of Connecticut. My husband and I both always placed great importance on education and we both wanted to be good parents who could pass that value along to our son. Finding myself in the midst of a very different culture in the U.S. I was presented with the need to improve both my English and my parenting skills for my first born son. In a big stroke of luck, “Boom!” I found a flyer that offered parenting classes in English. Can you imagine? That flyer changed my life forever. I was thrilled that I could solve both problems simultaneously! And it was that flyer that allowed me to meet Joe and Ruth Freeman, parent educators, who were important teachers for us and became lifelong friends to me and my family.

Read moreLatina Mother POV: Parenting and Culture