Baby Playtime: How Much is Enough?

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New moms often ask, “How much should I play with baby?”  The simple answer is, “As much as you wish to.”  Babies love faces and the best time to interact with those they love is face-to-face contact times such as bath times, diaper changes, and feeding times.

During those contact times, it helps to sing, talk, tickle, read, make facial expressions and use vocal variety to baby.  Don’t forget to smile.  Babies love facial interaction and they will naturally turn their head away when they have had enough.

Try to give baby some “tummy time” for several minute periods each day.  It helps baby to develop neck and upper arm muscles and it relieves pressure on the head so that the risk of plagiocephally (flat head) is reduced.  Many babies don’t like tummy time, on a hard floor, so it can be helpful to put baby on parent’s chest while parent is lying down on the sofa.  This counts as tummy time.  Also, keep in mind that tummy time can be several minutes, several times a day, instead of a twenty-minute marathon every day.

Baby carriers are a wonderful way for babies to be stimulated and entertained through the day.  Baby watching you make dinner from the elevated view of a backpack is fascinating for him and is just as stimulating for his brain development as watching “educational” videos.

In spite of our society’s intensive push to give early learning to young children, try to avoid worrying about how much stimulation and playtime she is supposed to be getting.  If you enjoy spending time with baby, interacting with your natural enthusiasm, rest assured she is getting enough stimulation!

http://www.professionalparenting.ca (403) 714-6766 jarnall@shaw.ca

Is It A Discipline Issue or Development Issue? Part 2 Problem-solving with Young Children

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Part 2 – Problem-solving with young children

In the last issue, we talked about toddler behaviour and the importance of child-proofing and distraction. For older children’s behaviour, problem-solving is now the first go-to discipline tool. But don’t forget, problem-solving still works for toddlers and preschoolers. Problem-solving is effective for maintaining open communication, and understanding development as well as formulating creative solutions for solving everyday problems of living together as a family. Mostly, problem-solving with young children is comprised of the parent doing most of the “solving” but when children reach ages 3-4, they can help brainstorm ideas too!

Punishment is “me against you.” Problem-solving is “you and me working together against the problem.” Problem-solving teaches creativity, empathy, communication and accountability.

 EXAMPLE PROBLEM-SOLVING

Your child is about to run into the road.

  • Grab and carry the child to safety.
  • Keep enclosed in the yard or house.
  • Discuss car safety and road safety rules.
  • Supervise constantly around vehicles and roads.

 Development Tip: Children do not develop the visual acuity to judge distance and timing of vehicles on a road until aged 9. Children younger than age 9 cannot be trusted to control the impulse to run into a road to retrieve an item of interest.

 Your child is about to touch a hot stove.

  • Remove the child from the stove.
  • Supervise closely in the kitchen and keep the child occupied.
  • Explain in simple words that stoves are dangerous.

 Development Tip: Children must be supervised around cooking appliances until age 12, when they can comprehend the cause and effect of safety rules.

  1. Your child runs away in the supermarket.
  • This could be a fun game for the child, but not for you. Corner and grasp the child, explain that this is not a game, and that you will not play chase in a store. If necessary, head home.
  • Distract with a toy or snack.
  • A shopping cart is harder to escape from than a stroller.
  • Re-think grocery shopping. Could someone mind your child while you shop?       Could you shop at night while your partner is home?

Development Tip: This is a temporary phase. Your child will stop running away from you by about age 5.

  1. Your child is in a whining stage.
  • Ignore the whining.
  • Request their “normal” voice.
  • Model the “normal voice.”
  • Give the desired item instantly when the normal voice is used.
  • When in a peaceful moment, ask for “inside, outside, whining, church, and
  • normal” voices so they can tell the difference in voice tone, pitch, and variety.
  • Pat your head and pretend you can’t “receive” when the tone is whiny. Pretend that the reception improves when the request is less whiny.

Developmental Tip: Most children stop whining around age 8.

  1. Your child draws on the wall.
  • Provide paper, and explain that drawings happen on paper, not walls.
  • Get two cloths and a bucket of soapy water.       Wash the wall together.
  • Collect pens and crayons until you have time to supervise drawing.

Development Tip: Childproofing is necessary until about age 4 when children understand the “why” reason behind the behaviour they are not allowed to do.

  1. It’s time to go, and your child is unwilling to leave.
  • Catch and carry them out.
  • Acknowledge feelings of unhappiness. Say “Are you sad to leave because you are having fun?”

Developmental Tip: Children learn to accept leaving a place of fun by around age 7.

  1. Two children are fighting over a toy.
  • Offer a substitute.
  • Redirect to snacks.
  • Encourage sharing, or taking turns, or flipping a coin, or picking names from a jar, or playing Rock, Paper, Scissors.       Warn that there will be a winner and a loser, and confirm that they understand and accept that.
  • Offer the first player a shorter time, and the second player a longer time.
  • Hold the toy until an agreement is worked out that both children are okay with.

Developmental Tip: Siblings will have conflicts over many issues. Teach siblings to resolve conflicts respectfully, to help them to resolve conflicts in their future family and employment relationships.

  1. Your child throws food onto the floor.
  • Say “NO! We don’t throw!”
  • Stay calm. Breathe deeply.
  • Calmly, get a bucket of soapy water and cloth, and clean up the mess together.
  • If your child is too upset to clean up the mess, postpone the cleanup until the child has calmed down.

Developmental Tip: Children are better able to manage their frustration around age 4.

  1. Your toddler has toilet accidents.
  • Keep up encouragement. Praise any tiny success.
  • Show the child how to help you clean it up.
  • Don’t punish.

Development Tip: Toilet training involves lots of misses. Most children train by age 4.

  1. Your child denies eating cookies – but his lips are smeared with crumbs.
  • Don’t ask, “Did you eat the cookies?”       Ask, “I see that some cookies are missing. Do you know what happened?” In the event of denial, say “I don’t like it when people don’t tell the truth. It breaks my trust.”
  • Reward your child for the truth.
  • Promise that you will never punish if your child tells the truth.

Developmental Tip: Denial at the toddler age is not serious, since toddlers are in the developmental stage of “wishful” and “magical” thinking. Most children understand the abstract concept of lying by the age of 6.

  1. Your toddler rips pages from a valued book.
  • Substitute a magazine that you don’t value.       Get the child’s attention on the substitute and then gently pry away the valued book.
  • Childproof – don’t leave books lying around.
  • Work with your toddler to repair the book together.

Developmental Tip: Children are more respectful to items around age 4.

  1. Your toddler hits, pushes or bites a sibling or another child.
  • Provide attention, cuddles and comfort to the other child.
  • When the other child has calmed, say to the toddler: “No! We don’t hit people!”
  • When the toddler has calmed, take the toddler to the child, and demonstrate how to make up – give a kiss, hug, say “Sorry”, or offer a toy.
  • Acknowledge toddler’s feelings and say “You seem to be angry. We love you both, and you will always be with us.”
  • Give the toddler a teething ring and say, “We don’t bite our friends. Here, bite this.”
  • Give the toddler extra attention every day, though not right after the “hit”. Take her out on “dates” and lavish special attention on her so she can acquire attention in positive ways.
  • Notice and praise when you see the toddler doing something nice for the other child.
  • Don’t leave siblings together unsupervised until the youngest child is 6.

Developmental Tip: Biting, pushing and hitting are typical impulses up to about age 4. As children grow up, they become less inclined to use violence upon each other. By age 7, hitting becomes rare, and by age 12 should end, as verbal skills improve.

  1. Your toddler runs away when you try to change diapers.
  • Catch and scoop up your child.
  • Provide an entrancing toy.
  • Don’t waste time – be fast!
  • Change with a movie.
  • Talk, sing, tickle and make diaper-changing a fun time.
  • Keep a box of interesting toys by the change station, to keep his hands busy.

Developmental Tip: Some toddlers are patient, and some are not. Children become more cooperative around age 4.

 Your child smashes another child’s sand castle.

  • Say “No! We don’t break other people’s things!”
  • Ask your child to apologize to the other child. If your child refuses, say to the other child or parent: “I’m very sorry, but my child doesn’t have the words right now to say sorry”. Model an apology that you give to the parent.
  • Take your toddler away to calm down.
  • When your toddler is calm, offer to re-build the castle together. Encourage an apology, but don’t force it.

Developmental Tip: Children handle anger more effectively around age 4, especially if encouraged with positive alternatives for expressing frustration and anger.

  1. Your preschooler ignores your requests to pick up toys.
  • Make pick-up a game in which you both participate.
  • Assign one task instead of the entire clean-up: “You collect the blocks, and I’ll collect the crayons.”

Developmental Tip: Until about age 12, most children require some direction, instruction, encouragement and help for most tasks.

  1. You are trying to work, and your toddler pesters you to play.
  • Play with your toddler for 15 minutes of your full attention.
  • Interest the toddler in a toy, movie or activity, and get back to work.
  • Join or build a network of parents of similar-aged children. Arrange play-dates.
  • Rotate and pack away toys. Bring out a “new” toy box for each day.
  • Postpone your work until naptime.

Developmental Tip: By age 3, children can play well with other children on play-dates, which can free up your time.

  1. Your toddler says “NO!” to your requests.
  • Offer choices between two or three acceptable options.
  • Reduce your use of the word “No”. Alternatives include “later”, “not now, but you can have…”, “Let me think about it”.
  • Acknowledge feelings. “You seem angry and don’t want to try this?”
  • Don’t expect a child under age 3e to share possessions.
  • Childproof your surroundings for safe exploration and discovery.

Development Tip: The “no” stage lasts from about age 1.5 to 4 years. This is a normal developmental stage for healthy children. Children naturally become more cooperative during the preschool stage.

  1. Your toddler is upset that you are leaving.
  • Acknowledge feelings: “You are sad that Mommy is leaving?”
  • Leave a special item for your child to take care of while you are away.
  • Develop a leaving routine: a special hug, wave.
  • Kiss goodbye, and leave your child in the arms of the caregiver. Don’t sneak out! If you sneak out, your child will feel insecure, and will become clingy.
  • See if your caregiver can come to your house.
  • Try to establish a routine: the same time, same place, same caregiver.
  • Choose childcare arrangements with consistent caregivers, for development of attachment (and don’t worry, you will never be replaced!).

 Developmental Tip: Separation anxiety begins around age 1, peaks at age 2 and fades by age 4.

  1. Your toddler won’t try new foods
  • Provide healthy foods from the four groups.       Offer three meals and three snacks per day, about two hours apart. Leave the food out for twenty minutes and then clean up.       Do not punish for not eating.
  • Offer water \between meals and snacks. Serve milk at meals.
  • Allow toddlers to explore food with their fingers. If your toddler starts throwing food, meal time is over.
  • Food jags are normal, in which the child eats only peanut butter and jam sandwiches for three weeks. That’s okay. As long as it’s a healthy food, don’t worry about nutritional intake.
  • It takes 15 tries to accept a new food. Have a one-bite routine. If the child spits it out, don’t worry, and don’t make it a power struggle. Children have sensitive taste buds, and their preferences will change as they develop.
  1. Your toddler won’t stay in bed.
  • Develop a routine – snack, bath, pyjamas, teeth, book, prayers, bedtime snuggle.
  • If your child keeps getting up, consider two “bedtime excuse” tickets. Two tickets can be used for requests such as a drink, extra kiss, a cuddly toy.
  • Each time, lead the toddler back to bed without talking, and close the door.
  • Spend extra time to talk, read, cuddle and listen as part of the bedtime routine.
  • When you find a routine that works, keep it up.

Developmental Tip: Most children under age 12 try to put off bedtime, because they don’t want to separate from their parents, or to end their day. Parents find that a regular bedtime routine develops cooperation. Some families choose co-sleeping – however the safety of children under the age of one might be a concern.

 

For more ideas on non-punitive discipline for all stages of childhood, check-out Discipline Without Distress.

Purchase Discipline Without Distress on Amazon

For more information on Judy Arnall’s suggestions for effective discipline, click Webinars at http://www.professionalparenting.ca to register.

Next Free Webinar on Discipline is Thursday January 21, 2016   8 pm Register Here for the Discipline Webinar

 

Worried about Summer Learning Loss? Isn’t Minecraft Educational?

by Judy Arnall

Your ten-year old daughter is wasting another beautiful summer day inside the house, playing Minecraft. You fear that her brain is becoming atrophied for lack of academic stimulation. You worry about education company warnings that children can lose a month of their school year learning during the summer. Will summer fun and a “break from formal learning” cause kids to fall behind academically in the Fall? Is there another way to keep up with academic learning other than by text books and lectures? Could video games support education? Hey, isn’t Minecraft educational? Yes, of course it is! Any type of toy or game is educational, in that it teaches children knowledge, life skills and the competencies outlined by Alberta Education in the new curriculum redesign.

Often, parents are critically conscious of the time spent on computer games, and assume that video games and toys are a frivolous waste of time. They think that if the game doesn’t directly teach math or language skills, time is wasted. However, indirect teaching of communication and math skills may be the best feature of gaming, along with enjoyment of plot, graphics, music and gameplay. A game can develop academic learning and competencies, even though not marketed as an “educational game”.

As a parent of five gamers (both genders), I learned early that my children hated the “educational games” that have primitive graphics, poor logic, clumsy interface, are non-multiplayer and just plain lame. “Educational games” seem to be marketed to parents that aim for functional use of time, rather than fun. When my kids immersed themselves in games like World of Warcraft, Nox, Spore, Gizmos and Gadgets, Age of Empires, Graal, Runescape and League of Legends, they learned not only reading, writing and math skills, but also knowledge of social studies, mythology, history and science. They learned valuable social skills such as cooperation and conflict resolution with other players in the same game, and with buddies outside the game playing with them in the same room. They learned personal skills, such as resilience during adversity, perseverance and commitment to continue and finish for the team despite discouragement. They learned how to deal with problems, team members and competitors under time pressure. They learned how to win gracefully, and how to face losing with dignity and without throwing a keyboard across the room.

Indirectly, games and toys teach some academic concepts in a way that is compelling to children, aided by the focus that is essential for game success. Parents who don’t play the game may not realise how their children have learned these competencies. Here is a brief overview of how toys and games teach children within the framework of the new curriculum redesign by Alberta Education.
Of course, children still need exercise, fresh air, and breaks from screens, which are also great life skills, but if your daughter chooses to spend her quiet time playing Minecraft, relax! She is counteracting summer learning loss in a fun, educational and engaging way.
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*Competencies retrieved from Ministerial Order on Student Learning (#001/2013), Alberta Education and adapted for this article. Retrieved from http://education.alberta.ca/department/policy/standards/goals.aspx on April 29, 2014
Judy Arnall, BA, DTM, CCFE is a professional certified parenting and teacher conference speaker, and trainer, mom of five children, and author of the best-selling book, Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery and the new DVD, Plugged-In Parenting: Connecting with the digital generation for health, safety and love as well as the new book, To University from Unschooling, to be published Fall 2014 http://www.professionalparenting.ca, jarnall@shaw.ca, 403-714-6766 Sign up for notifications of free monthly parenting webinars. Copyright permission granted for “reproduction without permission” of this article in whole or part, if the above credit is included in its entirety. Sections may be deleted for space constraints.

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Parenting Boundaries in Social Media

How far should one parent online? Catch today’s post in the Globe and Mail with comments by Judy Arnall, Canada’s leading “parenting the digital generation” speaker and expert:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology/personal-tech/parenting-in-public-stop-lecturing-on-my-wall-mom/article1442459/