Whinging Child

Whinging Kids – What Do I With Them?

Nerida asked via our Facebook page:
What do I do with my whinge-y 2 year old son?

We’ve all had those days as parents where it’s seemed like a battle field at home, with tears and tantrums all around and that can be from the parents as well as the child – when it all gets too much and you want to run away!

The first thing – and this may seem blunt – is to remember that you are the adult here! If you are struggling to deal with this physically and emotionally, and you’re an adult – then imagine how hard it is to feel so overwrought and at 2 you don’t have the capacity to self regulate.

Self regulation is the ability to feel stressed emotionally, and yet be able to manage it rather than lash out, eg when a driver in front of you keeps cutting in, changing lanes without indicating, and is gesturing at you and other drivers. We may feel enraged by this, but generally we’ve learnt that the best thing is to give them space and let them get away. If we react, it may be detrimental! This is self-regulation.

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The Importance of Nurturing Your Baby’s Amazing Brain

Did you know, that when a baby is born, his brain is ½ the size of an adult brain? By the time he is 3 years old, his brain has grown to 80% size of an adult brain. This is incredible growth, in just 3 years.

How does the brain work, and how can we foster this development?

The Working Brain

Within the brain are billions of nerve cells, known as neurons. The neurons have to connect with other brain cells in order to work. Some of these connections are present from birth – for example, the ability to breathe, to suck, to cry, and others occur as the baby grows and develops. The connections occur when experiences or skills are repeated over and over.

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Image by Woodley Wonder Works via Flickr

Music and Maths – an Unlikely Relationship?

This morning over breakfast I was listening to the radio, and was aware how the different pieces impacted on me – some more upbeat, some more gentle and calming. I don’t know about you, but I play different types of music for specific moods – if I’m feeling a bit ‘flat’ I put on something like “Pink”, and if I’m feeling hassled, I put on gentle classical music, or “Enya”. We can utilise this with children too – you can use music to enhance their moods, to help ‘lift’ them when needed, or to calm them at other times.

From an early age we use lullabies to soothe our babies, and often sing them to sleep – this is true whatever your cultural background. It’s the tone of your voice, which settles them. As they get older, they like things with a stronger beat – you’ll often see toddlers bopping to a beat. Toddlers also like nursery rhymes and songs, and will join in with the words and actions. Even a 1 year old will often wave their hands in the  air, to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

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How Would You Go with the Marshmellow Test?

In the 1960’s an experiment was conducted regarding impulse control ie the ability to wait, even when you didn’t want to.

It was conducted by psychologist Walter Mischel, and involved sitting a 4 year old at a table in a room. On the table was a plate with one marshmellow on it. The Researcher told the child that she had to leave the room, and that the child could eat the marshmellow whenever they wanted, but if they waited till she (the Researcher) returned then they could have two marshmellows. For most children, marshmellow are a very appealing treat. The Researcher then left the room for 15 mins – an incredibly long time for a 4 year old to wait! The children’s responses to the ‘task’ were videoed.

If you watch the video on Youtube, you will see are the many ways the children try to not eat the marshmellow now, as they really want the second one. Read more

Child sitting on the floor, intently doing puzzle

What are the best toys for children? One is…. Jigsaw Puzzles.

 

In my role as a Parenting Consultant, parents and grandparents often ask me about buying toys for their children or grandchildren. They want to know what are the ‘best’ ones. Obviously the age and ability of the child is a consideration, but 2 of my favourites are jigsaw puzzles and board games.

Puzzles can be introduced to toddlers around age one, with a toy which has balls to drop into a hole. This starts to teach them to hold an object, to position it, and then to let it drop through. The easiest shape to insert is a circle, as it will fit which ever way you hold it!

Next comes a shape sorter toy. You hold the container and let baby select a shape. Read more

Children sitting alone, looking sullen

“I’m Bored” … Why it’s important for children to experience boredom.

 

In my local paper recently there was an article about children being bored in the school holidays, and it listed all the things parents could do for their children to alleviate their boredom… adventure parks, movies, sport based holiday programs, shows, art classes, and places like zoos and museums. Whilst all those places do indeed provide much fun and learning, I’m concerned about the notion that parents must be the ones to solve their children’s boredom, and that entertainment is the key.

If I have a problem, it’s up to me to solve it.

Isn’t that what we want to teach our children?

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Man and Woman hugging their young daughter

What Do Children Need from their Parents?

We all know that children need food, clothing and shelter to ‘survive’, but besides the basic needs, how do we truly grow them into curious, strong, resilient children?

When your baby cries, s/he is telling you something – eg I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’ve have wind. As parents our response determines what message the child gets. For example if the baby cries because they are hungry, and you feed them, they learn that you will give them what they need. As you consistently do this, they learn that they can trust you to continue to meet their needs, and this is called building Secure Attachment. When you do this, it also creates new ways of understanding for the baby in his/her brain, ie new brain cells (known as neurons) are formed.

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Young boy reading a book

Ready for Kinder?

Is you child starting Kinder (Tasmania) or Pre-school (NSW) in 2016? Are they ready? Are you ready?

There are many things you can do to help your child have a smooth transition into this new experience, both practically and socially.

In a practical way, is your child able to take themselves to the toilet unassisted – to wipe themselves, wash their hands etc. If not, starting showing them and encouraging them to take a more active role.

Can they open or unwrap the food you will be providing? Have a practice with undoing a foil wrapped biscuit or a glad-wrapped sandwich, as well as opening the lunch box or unzipping it themselves. While teachers and aides are very willing to assist the children, it may take a while if there are 10 -20 children requiring help! There’s also a real ego boost for your child when he/she manages to do these things themselves – a real sense of achievement!

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Self-Regulation is a Parenting Skill

Imagine this (and some of you won’t need to imagine it, this will have been just like your day!)….

It’s 5pm, and you haven’t started dinner yet. In fact, you don’t even know what you are going to have for dinner, because you just remembered to take the mince out of the freezer at 4pm! Your toddler is getting cranky and really should be in the bath, but your 6 year old needs your help with listening to him read his school reader. The cat is circling you waiting for it’s dinner. The phone rings and you have a headache. Now if that was your day, then you may well want to scream, to pass the kids over to hubby when he gets home, or to run away. Our impulse is to go away. The reality is that we can’t do that, and we know that somehow we will muddle our way through it. We’ll decide that the toddler needs bed more than a bath, that toast is dinner tonight, and that headache pills come before the cats miaowing. We know we will get through it, because we have succeeded before, and we’ve learnt some skills along the way – thank goodness!

We weren’t born knowing how to do that – how to regulate our emotions and systematically work through the tasks in a priority, skillful manner. It is a learnt skill.

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Mother and child walking through a japanese garden.

Going For a Walk

Today I went for a walk through a quaint little town, exploring it and the surroundings. As I walked, I noticed a beautiful feather on the ground and picked it up. Immediately it reminded me of walking with my young children some years ago.

We regularly went walking whether it was around our property (we lived in a rural area), around town, at the beach or in the bush. As we walked, I always seemed to have a ‘Collector’ with me….. at least one of my children would be in a collecting mode, and I learnt to always carry a small basket or bag for their collections. Sometimes it was leaves, other times it was shells, and sometimes it was stones – from pebbles to rocks! The child would decide if the speciman was ‘worth’ collecting….. maybe based on the colour, the size, the shape, some patterns on it, or just because they liked it! As they collected, they would be describing to me, what was special about it.

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