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/
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
“Imagine if the hugs, lullabies and smiles from parents could inoculate babies against heartbreak, adolescent angst, and even help them pass their exams decades later.” (Winston & Chicot, 2016).
During the first three years of life, your baby will develop 90% of his or her adult brain size. This rapid growth accounts for 700–1000 synapse connections being formed each second. The experiences your baby is subjected to, whether positive or negative, are crucial to this early wiring and pruning that enables millions and millions of new connections to be formed. The importance of connecting with your baby can go a long way in ensuring his or her secure attachment to others, resilience, self-esteem, building of relationships and overall development.
Babies and toddlers explore and learn about the world that surrounds them by playing with objects. By doing this not only do they have fun, but they learn essential problem-solving skills and practice having social interactions. Play is a must in childhood and understanding which activities and toys best suit your baby and toddler are key for the development of skills and milestones.
At first, babies don’t understand the difference between toys and regular household objects. Everything they see, touch, taste and feel is new and exciting. They will explore the object by mouthing, shaking, banging and even throwing, to see what happens. With time, babies learn to differentiate between toys and regular objects but will use them in the way that is most enjoyable to them. If a rattle makes a fun noise when thrown, then they will do this repeatedly.
I love sharing my favorite feeding facts! There are so many old wives’ tales about food that are outdated or untrue. The more you know as a parent, the better prepared you will be to help your little one succeed! Some of the facts that I am going to share are part of the SOS Approach to Feeding, developed by Dr. Kay Toomey, PhD. It is important to note that if you believe that your child is having difficulties during mealtime, you should reach out to your pediatrician for suggestions or referrals.
FACT: Kids Need To Play With Their Food!
Kids learn best through play! Play is a multisensory and enjoyable experience that will lead to greater acceptance of new foods. It is important for children to feel, see, hear and smell foods before tasting them. When we introduce food through play, our tiny friends feel safe, confident and excited! You should continue to expose your child to food during play, even if they are not ready to taste it yet. I love cooking together and pretend play. Continue reading →
Your toddler has been insisting on seeing the latest movie that just came out, and even though you know how much your kid loves those characters, you wonder if he or she is old enough to sit through an entire movie at the cinema. Maybe you’re wondering if attending a theatrical play or a live show will be simply too much and too soon. Our in-house experts share some insight about this decision.
Most child psychologists and parents agree that somewhere between 2 and 4 years old is a good time to introduce your little one to the cinema or the theater, accorded that the film or show in question is age-appropriate for your child. Nonetheless, how cinema-ready a kid might be will ultimately depend on his or her individual characteristics at the time. So as always, it’s important to neither rush, nor pressure your kid into it just because you’ve heard of other 2-years old that actually look forward to staying put in a seat for 120 minutes. It might hold true for some kids, and not so much for others.
To help you weight discern, here are some aspects to take into consideration:
Your son or daughter’s capacity to sit still for longer than 30 min at a time and be happy about it.
Your kid’s usual attention span.
Your kid’s tolerance for noise, dark places or loud sounds- it can be an overwhelming experience for some kids that aren’t used to or aren’t interested in such activities.
According to Brenda Nixon in The Birth to Five Book: “Any noise that registers 90 decibels or higher can hurt a child’s hearing”, and some movies can measure up to 130 decibels.
How to make it a good experience for everyone (not only for you and your kid, but for other kids and adults sharing the space):
Always choose child-friendly shows. There’s a better chance a matinee or kid’s show will be a positive experience than a weekend-night opera or ballet-presentation. Your child and the rest of the audience will be far happier if you arrange for a sitter while you go ahead and watch that drama movie with your partner.
Knowledge is power. Even if the movie or show’s intended audience is children, make sure to know the content of it beforehand, so you can have an idea of what to expect (flashy lights, action scenes, loud music, etc.) and compare those features with what you know your kid can tolerate and enjoy.
Communicate that cinemas and theaters are quiet places. This might be a tricky concept for some toddlers, but the key here is being both understanding and disciplined about it with your kid. It’s important to help him or her understand that there are places where you can have lots of fun if you listen and watch, and that they can of course laugh and ask you things but using a quiet voice so that other people can still hear the show.
Try to find a sitting place near the exit, and not too close to the screen. This way, it will be less complicated to exit suddenly or to make an unexpected restroom break with your kid.
Every child is inevitably going to go through a learning curve regarding sharing social spaces with other people. Activities like going out for a movie or play are good and fun opportunities to help your kid work at being increasingly more masterful of his or her impulses, delaying gratification, and thinking about what other others might be feeling. Although it might appear like a small feat, conquering small outings like this can help your little one develop his or her socio-affective abilities!
Having difficulties for sharing is part of every kid’s developmental process. In fact, the word “mine” is one of the first words to come out of a toddler’s mouth. During your kid’s second and third year, he will experience going from oneness to separateness, so you’ll start noticing comments like “This is mine!”, “I can do it myself”, etc. This is due to his growing awareness. So, don’t worry, there are a lot of ways you can help your child understand the concept of sharing. Keep reading to learn more!
Sharing is caring?
Sharing is a fundamental skill; it is how we keep our friendships, play and work well with others. This action teaches about compromise, fairness and, most importantly, gratitude. “Thank you for sharing your truck with me. Do you want to play with my teddy bear?”. Sharing teaches children that gratitude reciprocates. If we give to others, we will receive in return. Gratitude is the best policy. Sharing also teaches us about negotiation and coping with disappointment, two vital skills in life. Continue reading →
A baby’s first 1,000 days of life are crucial for his or her proper development. These are the best years to make sure your baby builds optimum foundations to ensure a healthy brain development, growth, and a strong immune system. Unfortunately, 50% of babies in America are malnourished and the top vegetable eaten by U.S. toddlers is the french fry.
“Understanding the complex interplay of micro- and macronutrients and neurodevelopment is key to moving beyond simply recommending a good diet to optimizing nutrient delivery for the developing child.” – AAP Committee on Nutrition.
The science is clear about what a young baby’s brain needs to make healthy neural connections. Two of the most important factors are:
Early stimulation: A child who is read to, talked to, sung to, played with, is not only happier today, but will have a better developmental capacity throughout his or her life.
Proper nutrition: In the first years of life, a child’s brain consumes between 50-75% of all energy absorbed from food and good nutrition. A child who does not receive the proper nutrition tailored to his or her needs at every stage could be at risk of hindering their brain development and physical growth. It can even put them at increased risk of developing illnesses like heart disease and diabetes.