Category Archives: Social & Emotional

Preparing your child for a new sibling: A few tips

Welcoming a new baby to the family can be tough on siblings. Rivalry usually begins right after the arrival of the second child, or often times even before it. Most of the time, the older child acts out by becoming aggressive or regressing by acting more like a baby (wanting a bottle, peeing in their pants, etc.). It’s essential to prepare your older child when you know you are expecting a new baby because kids need to know what to expect to feel secure and they need time to adjust to changes.

There are tons of things you can do to make the adjustment process easier for everyone. Here are just a few:

  • Tell your older child about your pregnancy when you tell your friends. It’s important that he/she hears this from you, and not someone else!
  • If any (other) big changes are coming up in your toddler’s life, like moving to a new bed or bedroom, toilet training, or starting preschool, plan to get through them before the baby arrives.
  • Constantly talk to your baby about the baby arriving, giving him or her a realistic idea of what to expect. For example, let him or her know that the baby will take up a lot of your time and that the baby will not be able to do much at first!
  • Sit down with your toddler and look at pictures and videos of his or her birth and baby days. This will give a better picture of what to expect.
  • If it’s possible, visit friends with a new baby.
  • Let your older child participate in the preparations as much as possible. For example, you can let him or her decide the new baby’s first outfit between two choices.

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6 tips to help your little one love learning

We all want to raise self-motivated children. Not only because it might lead to good grades in school, but because it’s an important factor for success later in life. Helping children have a passion to develop their knowledge is a great virtue. When a child has a desire to learn, they understand more and remember the information for a longer period of time, and not only that, they are more persistent and eager to do challenging work!

Ideally, we’d all want our kids to be that way, focusing on learning, not grades; on improving and not just proving he is smart; enjoying the journey of learning.

In general, there are two types of goal orientations people adopt: mastery and performance. Mastery orientation centers on learning and improvement, while performance orientation focuses on showing competence against others. Psychologists have found that having a mastery orientation carries the most benefits – some of its positive qualities include: persistence, a desire to learn, and seeking out challenges to further improve.

But how can children have this type of mindset – one that focuses on high commitment and eagerness in learning as well as resilience when they fail?

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Coping with tantrums and anger through books

It’s quite common for toddlers to throw tantrums – we can all agree with that! From kicking and screaming to breath holding, they are common from ages 1 to 3 and equally common with girls and boys. What we need to understand is that tantrums are a way for babies to express their feelings and frustration because they are not able to communicate with words yet! The most important thing is that you, the adult, set a good example and remain calm during those stressful moments.Along with tantrums, come other tough behaviors like biting, scratching or hitting. They are all a way for toddlers to get attention or express their strong emotions like anger, fear and frustration. Lacking the language skills needed to deal with them, they resort to those behaviors as a way of saying “Pay attention to me!” or “I don’t like that!” Here are a few things you can do when faced with these situations: Continue reading

How-to: Enhance your baby’s social skills

From the moment your baby was born, he started to learn to respond and adapt to the people around him. He eventually starts to enjoy seeing other people, but of course he will still always prefer his parents’ company. Research has shown that babies thrive on the relationships they establish with their parents and others, and that these relationships are the building blocks of healthy human development.

It is important to acknowledge that each baby is born with his own social style. Some may be more outgoing or extrovert, while others may be a bit shy and quiet. Generally, when a toddler turns two years old he begins to enjoy playing with children his age, and by three, he’ll be on his way to making real friends. But like any other skill, he will need to learn how to socialize by trial and error.

Here are some tips that will help you enhance your baby’s social skills. Continue reading

Separation Anxiety: Get through it in a fun and insightful way

Just around their first birthday, most kids develop separation anxiety. It’s different for every kid, but in a general manner, it means they get upset when a parent wants to leave them with someone else. This is a completely natural part of early childhood – but it doesn’t make it any less troubling!If their needs are being met, most babies younger than six months have no problem being around other people. But between four and seven months, babies develop a sense of object permanence. Therefore, they begin to understand that things and people exist even when they are out of sight. So that’s when your baby begins to realize that when he or she can’t see you, it means you have decided to go away. Since babies don’t understand the concept of time, they don’t know if or when you’ll return and it makes them rather uneasy.

Understanding what your child is going through and having a strategy to deal with it can help both of you. Here are some tips to help you and your baby get through separation anxiety. Continue reading

Can early experiences impact whether genes are turned on or off?

In the recent years, scientific research has taught us that early life experiences can have a powerful influence on the developing brain. The brain is particularly responsive and malleable to both experiences and the environment we live in during the early years; this in turn affects how well our brain architecture develops and functions. Every experience, whether it is seeing a puppy for the first time, going to the park, or being in a car accident – impacts the neural connections of the brain. In other words, every experience can cause the brain to develop in different ways. Interestingly, scientists have discovered that early experiences don’t only impact brain architecture, they can actually determine how genes are turned on and off and even whether some are expressed at all!

This means that positive and nurturing early experiences can help the brain to develop well and negative experiences of neglect and abuse can cause some genetically-normal children to generate certain abnormalities. The lack of information about the critical role a child’s first experiences play in shaping his or her brain, led to a lack of focus on this particular stage of development. Most people used to think that a child wouldn’t remember those first experiences, but now we know they can actually impact a child physiologically, on a genetic level. Continue reading

Teach self-control through books!

Reading to your child for a few minutes everyday is extremely beneficial for his or her brain development, language skills and social skills! Even the American Academy of Pediatrics has urged pediatricians to constantly remind their patients about this!Books can become useful tools that help your child identify and make sense of feelings, and they help parents teach children how to deal with difficult emotions and situations. Many times books simply offer an easy and productive way to teach children about things like friendship, diversity, and self-control – a fundamental ability.

It is well known that self-control is very important for a child to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. Self-control is the ability to stop and think before acting – maintaining composure in challenging situations. Therefore, to have self-control you must be aware of your own thoughts and emotions. For parents, teaching self-control becomes a priority, and it is an ability that requires practice to be learned. However, you should keep in mind that babies’ and toddlers’ prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain associated with self-regulation and control) is not fully developed; therefore, it is not reasonable to expect a kid to have self-control like an adult does. If your child is very young, he or she will have trouble effectively controlling emotions, thoughts, and actions – and that’s completely normal! The limits you establish should be according to his or her developmental stage.

Books can be a great way to talk to your little one about self-control! Your child will learn through the different characters and situations in the stories, and talking about it afterwards can help him or her compare and relate them to real life. Have you been introduced to Leslie Patricelli’s books? They are a must – very fun, light, and great for learning about self-control! Look out for these: Continue reading

What is the key to raising a happy child?

When people are asked what is their ultimate goal in life, they often reply: “to be happy”. So it’s a no-brainer why parents often say that their main goal is to raise a happy child. But what exactly does it mean to be happy? Is it an emotion, a positive subjective state, or a state of being? The answer is not as easy as it seems. Many parents – and scientists alike have tried to get the answer right. One scientist who has spent years studying the notion of happiness is Daniel Gilbert, from Harvard University, and he proposes three definitions to happiness: emotional, moral, and judgmental.

  • Emotional happiness is a feeling related to an experience. For example when your child is excited by a movie, by a trip to an amusement park, or even delighted by a cookie.
  • Moral happiness is more related with virtue and philosophical views. It is thinking that when your child lives a good and proper life full of moral meaning – then he or she will feel deeply satisfied and content. Dan Gilbert uses the Greek word eudaimonia to exemplify it, and it translates to ‘good spirit … human flourishing … [and] life well lived.’
  • Judgmental happiness is making a judgment about the source of potentially pleasurable feelings – in the past, present, or future. This type of happiness is usually followed by words such as “about”, “for”, and “that”. For example, your child might be excited about getting a dog or might be happy for going to the park.

Knowing this information clarifies what happiness means, but the question remains: what makes people happy? And Is there a formula we can follow?

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The go-to tool to teach emotional intelligence

Books can be effective tools to help your child identify different emotions and learn how to cope with complex feelings.

The first years of your child’s life are normally an incredibly happy time for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that your baby does not experience other feelings. Current research suggests that a baby is born with around nine different emotions: interest, enjoyment, surprise, distress, anger, fear, shame, disgust, and dissmell. Over time, those feelings combine with each other and with experiences to form more complex ones. At times, babies and toddlers have trouble expressing their more difficult feelings, they have to cope with anger and fears as they grow. Those feelings can stem from challenging experiences like moving to a new home, losing a loved one or having a new brother or sister join the family. These changes often cause confusion.

As a parent, it’s tough to not be able to understand how your baby is feeling – after all, he or she is not able to put into words what he or she is going through. That causes frustration, imagine not being able to explain or even understand what you are feeling! Books can be useful tools to help your child identify and make sense of those feelings, and they help parents teach children how to deal with difficult feelings and situations. There are a lot of great books out there that were designed to help babies and toddlers begin to distinguish between different emotions. Reading them, and then talking about them together will certainly help!
I would like to recommend two books that I have found very useful – and am personally very fond of:

foto I am happy

 

I Am Happy: A Touch-and-Feel Book of Feelings by Steve Light is a great book for both babies and toddlers. It invites the reader to “touch” and “feel” different emotions by offering a variety of textures to touch. For example, the last page says ‘Every day I feel loved’ and has a picture of a baby tucked in bed under a soft blanket. The softness of the blanket represents the emotion of love. Your little one will love this special hands-on experience every time!

foto when i am : cuando estoy

 

When I Am/ Cuando Estoy by Gladys Rosa-Mendoza is another great addition to your toddler’s collection. The text is in both English and Spanish, so you can read both or choose one. The pages capture what a child could do when he or she experiences different emotions like happy, sad, angry, worried, scared, and surprised. Your child will easily relate to the common situations that are presented on the pages.

 

 

Do you have book recommendations of your own? Please share them by writing a comment below! Keep coming back for more information about the perks of reading to your child and suitable book suggestions!

9 ways to raise resilient kids

As parents, we are constantly trying to minimize fear and uncertainty for our kids, but are we doing the right thing? How can we manage to provide affection and understanding instead of transmitting anxiety and fear? We need to understand that is not possible for us to protect our children from all the dangers and disappointments in this world. However, this is not to say that they should go figure everything out on their own – parents do play an important role in providing children with the tools to navigate life successfully and raising them to be resilient adults.

What exactly does it mean to be resilient? According to the American Psychological Association (APA), resilience is “the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress”. Unlike what most people may think when talking about resilience, these people are not unaffected by adversity, but are instead able to cope and overcome challenges effectively, even coming out strengthened by the events!

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