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.
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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.
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.
When a child climbs out of the crib, it can be a safety challenge. This can be hard to prevent and some parents use this as a cue to transition to a toddler bed, which is lower to the floor. Parents need to consider what their long term goals are for their toddler: If you want him/her to stay in his/her room, you need to be ready to help the child stay there. Access to the door is increased with a toddler bed. Sleep experts recommend parents purchase a doorknob grip to help prevent this. Sitting outside the door for a time may be needed to redirect a toddler who is reluctant to stay in the new bed. Redirect calmly, limiting contact to a few minutes, repeating a routine phrase, such as: “I need to keep you safe in your bed. Lie down in your bed, honey.” Hum a quiet melody for a minute or two; gently rub his/her back. Leave quietly, without speaking, and close the door. Be prepared to stay by the door until the child has settled.
It’s National Arts in Education Week, the perfect time to remember the many benefits that learning music, art, and drama bring to our children.
Not only does Arts Education provide kids with the possibility of discovering a lifelong passion or creative career, but it also nurtures happiness, wellbeing, and inspiration – all things that can have a positive impact on academic subjects, too.
Here is visualization of the many evidence-based benefits of Arts Education:
Learn more at: wetheparents.org/arts-education
|Photo via Pexels|
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When the weather takes a turn for the worse, children often turn to video games or television for their entertainment. Instead, take advantage of your kid being stuck inside to educate them with fun activities. Thanks to search engines and online platforms such as YouTube, there is a never-ending wealth of ideas to keep your child entertained while teaching them valuable academic and life lessons. Make their learning fun with some hands-on interactive education that your family can enjoy.
1. Get Out the Musical Instruments
According to Parents, learning an instrument can help improve children’s academic skills, develop their coordination and motor skills, refine their self-discipline and practice patience. There are numerous websites providing online music lessons for almost any instrument imaginable. You and your kid can even learn an instrument together, helping each other as you follow tutorials online.
2. Let Them Stretch Their Artistic Muscles
Kids love to draw and craft. These artistic activities let them work with their hands, express themselves, and explore their imagination. Luckily, there is no shortage of fun DIY ideas online to get your kid involved in art. You can even look up some drawing tutorials for kids to help them hone their fine motor skills. Also, painting videos for kids can teach them about color mixing and palettes.
3. Get Them Moving
Keeping kids active will improve their academic performance, cognitive abilities, and help them keep a positive attitude. When it’s raining, try out one of the fun indoor activities suggested by Today’s Parent. Or, look up some kid-friendly exercise videos on YouTube. Kids love dancing, yoga, and bouncing around as they follow the instructor in a fun exercise video. Continue reading
By Brynn Rosadino.
Are you ever overwhelmed by your child’s challenging behaviors?
Do you struggle to stay calm as your child escalates?
If you said yes to either of those questions, you are not alone.
Human beings are built to reflect each other’s emotions. When our children display intense feelings and behaviors, our brains naturally mirror those emotions. We start to feel stressed, angry, fearful, or overwhelmed just like our children.
When a child escalates, it is important to remain a calm center for that child. Though it may not always come naturally, we can learn strategies and coping mechanisms to help during these stressful times. Continue reading
By Brynn Rosadino.
With the holiday season approaching, stress tends to be at an all-time high. Handling this stress alone can be difficult enough. But when you add the new dynamics of your blended family, the holidays can seem downright impossible. Continue reading
By Ashley Maturo.
As a parent, you know how frustrating it feels when you can’t get your kids to stop misbehaving. No matter how many times you have tried to get them to settle down, they just don’t seem to want to listen. Punishment may seem like the easier solution but there are other, more positive ways a parent can get their child to cooperate that don’t involve the timeout chair. And you may have already noticed – punishment doesn’t improve behavior in the long run. Continue reading
PRESENTER: Aaron Weintraub, MS
Does your child have trouble connecting with others? Are you unsure about how to help?
Self-awareness and self-acceptance are the foundations of your child’s social life. Parents often struggle to strengthen these capacities in children.
During this live, online class you will gain practical skills that will help your child to:
– Build strong, healthy, lasting relationships
– Become more aware of himself and his surroundings
– Accept herself and accept those around her exactly as they are
Presenter: Aaron Weintraub, MS
Following the class you will be invited to join our private Facebook group in which you will have access to a community of caring parents like you, working to apply new parenting approaches. Our Peace At Home Parenting Facebook community will be a place to share challenges and successes. You will also have ongoing regular contact with Ruth Freeman, webinar trainer, through the Facebook community.
In addition, you will receive access to free monthly “Question and Answer” sessions in which you will be coached in applying the skills you learned in Peace at Home webinars and again you will connect with other parents working to improve skills.