Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care


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Are They Listening?

are-they-listeningI often ask myself, “Are my kids are truly listening and processing when I speak to them?” No, seriously…I’m not trying to be funny! When I speak from the heart and feel like I am saying things that could help them grow, develop and make well thought out decisions, are they really listening? This age span that I have with my four children has me on my toes on a regular basis. I want to make sure when they have questions about the things that are going on in the world right now that I take the time to answer them and that they hear every word! Or, when my three-year-old points out a woman in a wheelchair or my eight-year-old giggles at her own gross burps in public, I need them to listen to me when I respond.

I know they aren’t listening when the very next time we are in the same situation the same things continue to happen. We sit in the car and have in depth conversations about why it’s not polite to stare at the woman in the wheelchair, and yet the very next time we are in public, my daughter’s first reaction to a man with no arm is to loudly ask, “What happened to his arm mommy?” In the car before we even enter a restaurant we go over the basic rules: use your manners, stay in your seat, and keep your voices down. But then my daughter burps so loud that the people at the table next to us can definitely hear. I explain for hours about freedom of speech to my son and how it’s an amazing right to have your own beliefs in our great country, but then he comes home from school talking about how stupid so-and-so is because they keep talking about how they want so-and-so to win the election!

I need to have my children’s full attention so these very critical moments grow into understanding and they can then make their own educated decisions. I need them to keep asking if they don’t understand. And for my part, even if I’ve answered them over and over, I need to stay patient and answer again if that’s what they need.

I have had a session with a school psychologist and during our discussion she enlightened me that children’s brains before and during puberty are like hills and valleys. You can’t be absolutely sure at any point in time if they are on the top of the hill (in the clouds and enjoying the view) or the bottom of the valley (trying hard and focusing on the climb).

I have been in the middle of a well thought out, prepared speech that makes so many great points, and they’ve looked up at me and said, “What?” as if they had not been listening to a single word. That’s when they are on top of that hill! But that moment when you actually stimulate conversations, questions and even examples they are at the bottom of that valley working hard to get up! They get it!

Bottom line, I have to keep teaching them. I have to laugh now and say this is why Dora the Explorer is so popular! She repeats and repeats a lot of things several times over. My kids roll their eyes and get irritated when I repeat myself on a regular basis, but if they only knew my gratitude when those eyes roll and I know then that they’ve heard what I said…finally.


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Why do some children bite?

Children bite for a variety of reasons.  When young children lack skills and strategies to communicate their feelings and needs effectively, this becomes a way of expressing frustration.

Young children are telling us what is happening to them as they grow. Infants may be telling us that their mouths hurt from teething.  Toddlers may be telling us that they need to be in a space that encourages them to move around, explore, and learn abut their environment.  Preschoolers may be telling us that they have seen or experienced biting and want to try it out.

Biting can also occur as a result of environmental conditions. Crowded, noisy, bright, or overstimulating environments may confuse or overexcite young children. Child/adult ratios that do not allow for close supervision can be unsafe and stressful. Learning materials, activities, and adult expectations that do not match children’s abilities, learning style or temperament may frustrate young children. Changes in the environment or routines that are not sensitive to young children’s needs can be upsetting. Schedules that do not match children’s needs may cause anxiety or boredom.

What is a child trying to tell us through biting?
Biting behavior can provide clues to how children are feeling and what they need from their environment to be successful  Powerful emotions are difficult for young children to manage and express.  These emotions may include:  anger, frustration, excitement, fear and anxiety.

When educators and parents understand what children are trying to tell them, they increase the chances of preventing and appropriately responding to biting behavior. Provide teething toys to relieve pains.  Provide opportunities to move and explore independently, and to make choices.  Allow a child to eat when hungry, sleep when tired, sit on your lap, or have enough time to finish an activity.  Acknowledge children’s frustration and give them the words to express their feelings.  Model the appropriate words to ask for something.  Provide consistent, nurturing relationships with responsive adults.  Recognize when children are unable to manage a situation on their own and intervene in a calm and caring manner.

Remember to create environments that match children’s individual developmental needs and interests.  Keep routines simple and consistent.  Limit the number of transitions for children and remember to give children an alone space and time for rest and relaxation.  Biting is usually a phase and shall pass in due time!

–Karen

Posted by karen on Monday, January 04, 2010 10:24 PM


Blooming for a lifetime!

This fall the hibiscus which stands alone by my front door was amazing.  It bloomed a dark reddish-blue color that seemed different from past seasons.  It was tall, with the bloom maybe 6-8 inches across.  The sad part is that the flower only bloomed 1-2 days-after all that watering and fertilizing.

This got me thinking about children and what it takes to make them bloom, how precious time is when we are working with our children to make the most of each minute as these little ones are soaking up knowledge.  Their brains are busy building connection that will affect the rest of their lives.

The big difference is that when we cultivate and enrich a child’s joy of learning, that a child will bloom for more than 1-2 days.  Our hope is that a child will bloom for a lifetime!  Enjoy this beautiful season of change and embrace this season as a time for learning and new experiences.  Take whatever time it takes to water and fertilize your precious child.

Posted by karen on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 12:16 PM