Writing and drawing: what can my little one do at each stage?

Being able to write or draw is a huge accomplishment for your little one! Like all aspects of development these skills are acquired in a gradual process that involves more advanced and complex skills each time. Since your baby is born, she starts to work on her finger and hand movements that, later on, will allow her to hold a crayon and scribble. From this point, there are several stages that she’ll go through while practicing her writing and drawing.

Random Scribbling
Starting at about 16 months, your daughter will begin to scribble in a random way. She will start to realize that her arm movements create the lines she sees on the page. At this point she’ll be able to hold the crayon with her whole fist and her scribbles will be produced with large arm movements (originated from the shoulder).

Controlled Scribbling
As she develops more control over her hand and finger muscles, she’ll begin to make more controlled lines and scribbles. You might see that she repeats the same lines (vertical, horizontal, diagonal, etc.) over and over again, practicing. Continue reading

How to play with your little one

It’s well known that play is crucial for the development of babies and toddlers. It’s how they explore and learn new things about the world, acquire new skills, practice their creativity, and experience social interactions. Here are a few tips for you to get the most out of this time of the day!

Follow your little one’s lead when playing. Don’t worry if he doesn’t use a certain toy the way it’s supposed to be used, let him explore and teach you new ways to have fun.

Be patient. Show your little one how the toys work, but let him have his time handling them. Provide just enough help, but don’t do everything for him, even if it takes him more time to complete challenges.

Pay attention to your little one’s cues. Because he’s still developing language skills and self-control, he might not always know how to say what he wants or how to react when he’s frustrated. But if you pay attention and read his signals, you could jump in before he gets overly upset. These signals could be anything from sounds to facial expressions and gestures. Continue reading

Children’s theory of mind

As adults, we understand that others have their own thoughts, beliefs, and desires; that is, they have their own way of thinking. But we’ve not always been aware of this. To be able to make accurate deductions about others’ intentions and beliefs, children need to develop a theory of mind. To illustrate this with an example let’s tell a brief story. “A little girl places all her toy blocks in one container and then leaves the room. Meanwhile, someone comes in and rearranges the room, changing the blocks to a different box. Later, the little girl returns and wants to build a block tower. Where would she look for the blocks?”. As different studies have shown, younger kids will probably answer that she would open the box where the blocks actually are, and it’s not until about 4 or 5 years of age that children understand that what the little girl believes is not necessarily what is real, thus they will be able to answer that she would look in the original container where she placed the blocks.

Having a theory of mind has a huge impact on children, as it transforms the way they are able to see others and make sense of their actions. Basically, the theory of mind serves children in two major developmental areas: social and cognitive. Continue reading

When will my little one collaborate?

If collaborating with another person is not always an easy task for us, imagine what it’s like for your little one!

Collaborating means that two or more individuals work together to reach a common goal, each of them has an individual role during the process, and, in the end, the reward is shared accordingly among them. Besides, collaborating involves advanced cognitive and social skills that allow children to understand that when you agree to do something, there is a cultural expectation for people to comply. For example, if a kid says to him “Let’s build a tower” and he answers “Okay!”, he has agreed to collaborate, and a mutual obligation has been created between the two of them. So, is cooperating really that complicated for your child? Absolutely not! Your little one might surprise you with how smart he is. Of course, development is a gradual process and it all depends on what stage your little one is in. Some studies have found interesting results that show children’s ability to collaborate at different stages.

One-year-olds
Although babies as young as 6 months can show interest in other babies, at this stage interactions between them are rare. Sometimes they can cooperate with adults at simple games and may understand other people’s intentions and goals by reading their behavior. However, this is not enough for them to assimilate their own purpose with that of a peer and work together to achieve a goal. Thus, coordinated activity between two babies this age will be uncommon and will most likely be due to coincidence rather than cooperation, as they are not yet able to take their peer’s actions into account, even when these could help them achieve their own goals.

Continue reading

What’s behind a resilient child?

As a parent or caregiver, we know you want to teach your child how to be resilient and capable of overcoming any difficult circumstance that might present to him. But how can you be sure that you are actually helping your little one become an independent and successful individual? Well, no matter what the hardship is, research has shown that having at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent or caregiver is the most common characteristic amongst kids that do well. But let’s take a deeper dive into this.

Let’s start with what is resilience. You may find different definitions for this word, but essentially, resilience involves a positive and adaptive response to adversity. Now, what are the key factors that promote resilience in your little one? We’ve already mentioned the most significant one: supportive relationships. These will protect him from developmental disruption by providing personalized responsiveness. Plus, they’ll help him build important skills, like planning, regulating behavior, and adapting, that will allow him to respond to difficulties and thrive. Continue reading

Making sure your child has the necessary building blocks for reading later on

Learning to read is a key skill for children and, believe it or not, they start practicing it since very early on. But what is literacy? It’s not only the ability to read, but also to write and learn. It includes comprehension and spelling. There are many skills and experiences that happen since birth that will make up the building blocks for a baby to be able to read later on. So, before being able to read, your little one will acquire listening skills to understand sound patterns when you sing, rhyme, and talk to her; she will develop her visual recognition, and will learn to associate what she hears with what she sees when you read books to her and show her pictures.

Doing these activities is very relevant for future language development and literacy skills. Thus, literacy doesn’t begin at preschool or when your child starts learning the letters, but at home with you and with all the loving and caring interactions that happen between you two. So, what can you do at each stage to promote literacy skills? Continue reading

The magic behind routines

We’ve already talked about how important routines are for our babies and kids and that they provide a sense of safety and predictability. But how exactly do routines help our children and why are they so helpful for them?

1) They foster the development of self-control
Knowing what comes next gives children security and emotional stability, making them feel more in control. For example, knowing that every day dinner-time comes after playing, will allow your little one to play, explore, and learn without worrying, and when it’s time for dinner she’ll be expecting it.

2) They promote positive behavior
Routines are like a set of steps that guide children towards certain goals. This can help to ensure children’s safety and help them learn responsible behaviors. For example, to always hold your hand when walking in the street or to say “please” when asking for something she wants.
Continue reading

How To Practice Mindfulness With Your Child

Practicing mindfulness is a wonderful way to improve behavior and to increase focus. Both of them are critical for boosting our children’s language. Try out these activities to work on mindfulness with your tiny friend!

  1. Belly Breathing

Belly breathing is an easy way to get your child focused on the here and now. That is, if your child is experiencing big feelings, belly breathing is a great way to calm down. We also need to ensure that our children know how to appropriately belly breathe so they can speak properly. Children who are not able to do this often have higher pitched voices and/or run out of breath when speaking. Luckily, it is a very visual practice! You can either sit or lie down with your hands on your stomach. You want your belly to expand as you inhale, and deflate as you exhale. Some little ones prefer lying down with a beanbag or small stuffed animal on their stomach so that they can watch the object move up and down. This is one of my favorite videos for this activity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mZbzDOpylA Continue reading

How do children develop analogical reasoning?

Analogical reasoning is an advanced skill that allows us to tie together several experiences or facts that are not similar among them. This ability is what distinguishes humans from intelligent animals, and it is essential for analytical and inductive reasoning. But how do children first develop this reasoning ability? What cognitive mechanisms make possible the development of this complex form of reasoning?

Some say that knowledge acquisition is the one thing that, with time, enables children to learn this ability. Thus, when babies are born, they interconnect certain representations based on their appearance and similarities. This is done in a non-analogical manner, because they don’t have enough or relevant background knowledge yet. But as they grow and acquire more knowledge, they shift to analogical reasoning. This theory has been well demonstrated by the significant relationship that exists between early vocabulary and later reasoning skills, showing that language and knowledge act as building blocks for later analogical reasoning. Continue reading

When will my little one be able to control his impulses and how can I help?

Self-regulation is a fundamental skill for our socioemotional well-being since it allows us to have healthy interactions and relationships. It involves the ability to express and handle strong emotions, cooperate with others, cope with frustration, and solve conflicts. Self-regulation allows us to complete our daily activities by having a good enough handle on our emotions and impulses. For this reason, when children have trouble self-regulating, everyday tasks like sitting, paying attention, and interacting with peers, become more difficult.

From birth to 4 years and further, children develop their self-regulation, learning it through interactions and with the guidance of adults. Actually, kind and responsive interactions with the caregiver are essential in this matter and are part of the “Co-regulation” strategy that teaches self-control. This strategy aims to provide the support, guidance, and modeling needed for children to understand, express, and regulate their own feelings and actions. It involves consistent and sympathetic responses with enough support and encouragement. But what can you expect from your little one at each stage? And how can you help him with co-regulation? Continue reading