Mindfulness 101

As parents, we are always looking for the best for our children; we want them to be happy and develop their full potential. But what happens when we do not live in the best way possible? By being stressed, worried, hurried in our daily life, we ​​set this example to our children. Kids are like sponges, and they can perceive emotions even from within the mother’s womb. This means they’re much more capable of absorbing and perceiving things after they are born. So, how can we be better with ourselves and transmit the best to them? Continue reading to learn more…

Have you ever gotten home and don’t remember what you saw on the road? Left home for work and don’t remember if you locked the door on your way out?

We live with routines both at home and at work where we do things on autopilot without really paying attention to what we are doing. We call it “lunchtime”, but is it if we are thinking about the pending errands we have to run or we are answering mails or texts on the phone?

As human beings we have the ability to think about the past, present and future. Which is a true blessing, but we often let our minds wander to the meeting board of last week, we think about what we’ll do over the holidays or what you have to get from the store. Usually the most recurrent thoughts in our minds come from obsessing about the past or worrying about the future. So, what happens to the present?
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Your baby’s emotional world: The appearance of your little one’s emotions

The development and appearance of your baby’s emotions follow an orderly process that goes from simple emotions, all the way to the complex ones we all know too well.

According to Michael Lewis, PhD, when your baby is first born he is able to demonstrate three basic emotions: interest, distress and satisfaction. Your newborn will show these emotions due to internal processes, physiological changes or as a response to sensory stimuli. As your little one continues to grow so do his emotional responses. Over the next 6 months these primary responses will evolve into happiness, surprise, sadness, disgust, anger and fear. These emotions, such as the ones stated above, develop in conjunction to the neurological and cognitive maturity of babies.

Once your baby is around 9-10 months of age he will go through a new set of cerebral development that will allow him to be pretty good at expressing a wide array of emotions. You might see your little one go from frustration to anger or sadness to happiness in a manner of seconds. This is completely normal and expected, so don’t stress out about it; you’re are doing a great job. When dealing with these intense moments remember to breathe and try to be the “container” that helps your kid regulate his emotions.

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Why Organic Clothes Matter For Your Baby

Babies and infants are much more sensitive to what we put on their skin than adults. Here’s how we can make the cutest and safest options accessible to all.

For new and expecting parents, few things look as adorable as a cute baby outfit. It beautifully wraps the little one like a warm lasting hug. But one thing that still gets little attention is the quality of the clothes we put on our babies’ sensitive skin. The baby clothes we usually find in retail stores or online have often been treated with chemicals that may be harmful (even when you read 100% cotton). These include pesticides used to grow cotton as well as chemicals used to create a color, a print or certain features like making the clothes stain or odor-resistant.

  1. Why It Matters More For Babies

Relative to their body size, infants absorb much more of their environment than adults. They are also less able than adults to naturally break down or eliminate chemicals absorbed into the body. A large part of what infants absorb happens through the skin, which is thinner and more permeable for babies than adults. As a result, substances that come in contact with baby skin are more easily absorbed and penetrate into deeper skin layers.

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Kinedu: one of the Early Childhood Innovation Prize’s “Promising Ideas”

Kinedu was recently named one of the Early Childhood Innovation Prize’s “Promising Ideas” because of its potential to create a breakthrough impact for young children. As one of seven Promising Ideas selected from a pull of over a 570 ideas submitted from innovators in 100 countries through OpenIDEO’s prize platform, Kinedu has received special recognition from Gary Community Investments (GCI) and will have access to supports to help accelerate their impact on children across the world.

Gary Community Investments (GCI) partnered with OpenIDEO on the Early Childhood Innovation Prize to build a pipeline of potentially transformative early childhood investment opportunities. The prize was launched in fall 2017 and brought together hundreds of innovators and experts to collaboratively solve one urgent question: “How might we maximize every child’s potential during their first three years of life?”. At the close of the EC Prize’s submission phase on February 15, innovators from more than 100 countries submitted nearly 570 ideas, and more than 260 innovators received mentorship, support and feedback from 135 experts in early childhood and other fields. Kinedu was recognized as one of the promising ideas to look out for, and will receive mentorship, help and access to a network of experts, investors and mentors. Continue reading

Making Spring Cleaning Speechy

New research suggests that children who take part in household cleaning are more empathetic, make better connections, and are more willing to help others! Most little ones actually love to clean, especially if they have their very own tools. Plus, there’s an added bonus! It is super simple and fun to make cleaning speechy. It is the perfect opportunity to allow your child to follow directions, identify objects, sort, find items you describe, and so much more! Since spring is finally here, let’s chat about some ways that you can involve your toddler in the spring cleaning!

  1. Follow the Cleaner

Have you ever noticed that your toddler loves to wipe up spills or sweep up a mess? This is actually a wonderful developmental milestone that we see as early as 18-months. Kids love to participate in daily routines –think: toddler see, toddler do! It’s best to set up your little one with his or her own tools and assign a job. Maybe they get to wipe the kitchen table with their special sponge and spray bottle (*with kid-safe cleaning solution of course). You can also take turns sweeping –mommy can sweep with the big broom and your tiny friend can use his or her own mini broom. You can make it even speechier by providing a challenge! You can sweep from the rug to the door; sweep to the left; spray 3 times and then wipe; and so on!

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Your baby’s early learning theories

You’re probably aware by now, but your little one’s brain is developing at such a rapid speed that he or she can come up with theories and explanatory systems that we consider are way beyond his or her age’s capacity. From very early on, your baby is competent, active and insightful. Different studies suggest that babies are not simply “passive” observers but are rather building a collection of theories and knowledge that helps them navigate and understand the world around them.

Some of the explanatory theories that babies begin to construct from a very early age are:

  • Theory of objects – Babies understand the fundamental principles about how objects move in space and time. Every time your baby’s playing with any toy, he or she is further building on this theory understanding how the object moves and how it can be manipulated.
  • Theory of numbers – Babies begin forming two types of numerical systems that serve as the base for future mathematical use. One for small, exact numbers, and the other for larger quantities of numbers.
  • Theory of living things – Babies begin to understand the basics of this theory when they are able to distinguish between living and non-living things, or ideas like that a cut will eventually heal.
  • Theory of the mind – They have a pretty simple theory that what people are looking at is a sign of what they are paying attention to, that people ultimately act intentionally, and that people have feelings (positive and negative).
  • Theory of relation – Through exploratory play, babies learn to recognize casual relations and then use this knowledge to their advantage and solve problems like how to get a toy to work.

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Five simple ways of fostering STEM thinking skills

Babies are born scientists. They develop theories about how the world works and constantly learn through observation, exploration and their own experiments with their environment. According to a new report by The Center for Childhood Creativity at the Bay Area Discovery Museum, babies younger than one year old have the capacity of developing complex thinking skills related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts. The trick to develop these skills is to become more intentional in the way we interact with our children.

These are some of the ways you can foster STEM thinking skills with your little one:

  • Have “manipulative toys” around. These allow children to transform them into something else, depending on how they play with them. For example, a rattle can be loud or soft, depending on how hard they shake it.
  • Engage in “repetitive play”. Repeating actions over and over, like dropping a toy and picking it up time after time, helps children learn about complex concepts like gravity and cause and effect.
  • Practice the “four kinds of play”. Pretend play fosters creativity and imagination; exploratory play allows children to conduct experiments about their surroundings; guided play includes interactions and learning with adults, and free play lets them take the reins.
  • Ask “how”, “why” and “what” questions constantly to get your little one thinking and questioning his or her experiences.
  • Introduce new words to your child’s vocabulary. Use advanced and accurate words to describe what you’re doing, even from a very young age.

Elizabeth Rood, director of the Center for Childhood Creativity, advices parents to not get so hung up on teaching their children. Instead, focus on having and experience with them to tap into the wonder of math, science and engineering that is all around us.

J. M. (2018, March 05). Eight ways to introduce kids to STEM at an early age. Retrieved May 1, 2018, from http://hechingerreport.org/eight-ways-introduce-young-kids-stem-early-age/

Tantrum Survival Guide

Tantrums are extremely common in toddlers and preschoolers. They’re how young children deal with difficult feelings. It’s important to tune in to your child’s emotions to avoid situations that trigger those tantrums.

You don’t need to have a child to know the word tantrum. It is so notorious that everyone has either seen one or experienced it first-hand.

Tantrums are completely normal and expected in toddlers and preschoolers ages 1-3. They are an outlet for children to deal with big or difficult feelings. During this stage of development, toddlers are beginning to develop their independence but are still dependent on adults. They also don’t have the adequate skills or brain development to self-regulate just yet. To make matters even worse, children this age don’t have the appropriate language yet to voice their emotions, so expressing themselves via physical actions is their way to cope.

Tantrums can vary in type and intensity. They might involve crying, screaming, kicking, headbanging, back arching, falling to the floor or even breath holding. People making a tantrum are of the said to have ‘lost it’, and this situation is not exclusive for toddlers; older children and even adults can experience a tantrum when they feel overwhelmed by their emotions and can’t manage or don’t have the adequate skills to self-regulate.

What are the possible causes of a tantrum:

  • Temperament: Your child’s tolerance for frustration can influence his or her reaction. A kid who gets easily upset may be quicker to react and have more tantrums
  • Hunger, tiredness and overstimulation: These sensations are difficult to decipher for children. Ever heard the phrase hangry? Body needs have a great impact on our behavior and not noticing them can be triggers for tantrums.
  • Frustration and loss of control: If a toddler wants to complete a task above his or her developmental level or is faced with the will power of an older child or sibling, he or she might cope with a tantrum.
  • Big emotions: Emotions such as anger, shame and worry can be overwhelming for children.

 

Dealing with my child’s tantrums:

It is important to note that tantrums are a normal part of growing up, but there are things you can do as a parent to make them less likely to occur.

  • Have a routine: If you make sure your little one is fed and rested you can reduce tantrums due to physical needs.
  • Tune in: Become aware of your child’s feelings. Put yourself in your little one’s shoes and try to imagine what it must be like for him or her. Also, help your little one manage by naming the feeling and redirecting his or her attention to something else that he or she likes.
  • Know your little one’s triggers: If your little one always has a tantrum during an outing try to plan ahead with appropriate toys, make sure he or she is fed and rested, and try to choose environments that prevent tantrums.
  • Teach emotional literacy: Even if your little one does not speak yet he or she is always paying attention. If he or she has a fit and throws a toy instead of immediately reprimanding him or her, name the action and emotion that goes along with it. For example, “You threw the toy because you got frustrated. I understand it is hard, let me help you out so you don’t have to feel that way”.
  • Provide adequate toys and activities: Create a play-friendly space with toys that engage your toddler but are not way above his or her level of development because trying to complete them only causes frustration.

 

We know it is tough to watch your little one deal with a whirlwind of emotions. Be sure to care for yourself too. Here are some tips that can help you deal with these difficult situations:

  • Remember that your child’s brain is still developing and the prefrontal lobe responsible for self-regulation is not mature yet.
  • Take a moment to breathe, stay present and remain calm. Creating space between your child’s reaction and yours can help you regulate your response.
  • Acknowledge your child’s difficult feelings and your own too. Compassion and self-compassion are key!
  • Don’t try to reason or correct your child during the tantrum, let him or her blow off steam and intervene immediately and calmly if he or she is at risk of getting hurt or hurting someone else. It is important that your child understands that big feelings are not to be feared.
  • Be firm, kind and consistent. If you need to hold a limit don’t budge, empathize with your child, be unconditionally accepting and hear him or her out, but don’t give in if the limit is important to his or her wellbeing. Being consistent helps your child feel safe and learn the limits.
  • Finally, be sure to model self-regulation but ask for help too. If we ‘lose it’ too, we model this behavior to our children. But since we are only human, it is important that we also take a break, ask for help and repair when we make mistakes.

 

Teaching your child appropriate ways of behavior is essential to his or her development, but be sure to connect before you correct. Positive parenting experts agree that a strong connection between parent and child is the best way to teach and guide children towards the best versions of themselves.

For more information, be sure to check out:

The motor skills behind using scissors

The use of scissors requires and enhances many developmental skills. Cutting allows children to build the tiny muscles in their hands since they have to continuously open and close their fingers. Cutting also enhances the use of eye-hand coordination, which means children must be able to move their hands, while looking at something. Since the brain is required to work with two systems, cutting might be a difficult task. But don´t worry, little hands can develop fine motor skills by learning the proper way to use scissors. Keep reading to learn more!

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How to Help Your Little One Love Story Time

We all have the same picture-perfect image of reading to our tiny friends. We are sitting cuddled up with a beautifully drawn story that’s chalk-full of life lessons and our children are hanging on to every word. The reality of story time is not always so movie-esque. Perhaps your little one does not like to sit still for a story; maybe they want to hold the book and only turn the pages; or your child may feel that books are for coloring and/or ripping rather than reading. It’s okay; we can make it better! Here are my tips to help your child love story time.

  1. Start Small

This first header has a double meaning. First, you can start reading to your baby right away. Initiating story time with your newborn is a great way to get yourself into a reading routine. Additionally, their movement is limited and their focus is only on you! Secondly, start by reading short & simple books. My favorite books to start with are those that have one picture per page (and are preferably touch & feel). Starting with one picture per page allows your baby to focus on one concept at a time. You may open the book and say, “dog”, point to the picture, pet the dog’s fur and elaborate with a “woof”. Your baby will be completely tuned in to the picture, the word dog and the sound “woof”. It is important to keep your language simple in this stage because we want to match the baby’s level. Using 1-2 words or sounds per page when you start is plenty. This stage is all about teaching.

  1. Buy Built-Ins

Books with built-in features are your best friends! Look for books that have touch & feel, Velcro patches, felt flaps, moving pieces, pop-ups or peek-a-boos. These books have done a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of engaging your child. Motivation during story time is important because it promotes joint attention, which is necessary for learning. Joint attention occurs when your child is focused on the task (i.e. the book) and you. It is as simple as your baby looking at the book, then looking at you, and then back at the book. Interactive books do a ton of the work in keeping your child engaged in the task. I also love that they are full of directions for kids to follow (e.g. “Find the…” “Look under the…” “Put on the…”). They are also wonderful for promoting expressive language. Since your tiny friend will be so very engaged and demonstrating joint attention, it is way more likely that you will hear new sounds and words!

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