Just like tears, laughter is also an opportunity for stress release. Silliness together is often a great way to reduce the stress load for your child (and you). Ensuring that what you are doing is something your child wants to do is the key. One thing to be very cautious about is tickling. Many children don't like it but can't help but laugh, and then are helpless to stop you. We would advise that you only tickle if your child wants to and likes it.
Many, if not all, children go through some period in their young lives where they get angry and physically lash out at their parents. This is a hard situation to be in as we want to protect ourselves and stop this behavior. It can also trigger our own anger or fears when this happens. There are a couple of things we suggest in these scenarios. Sometimes a child needs to physically get the aggression out and might welcome a pillow to hit or throw instead of you. Sometimes this isn't enough, they just need a limit, and your presence while they regulate themselves.
As members of a competitive society, parents and teachers often feel that learning to win is an important lesson so children will grow to achieve more in life. In some situations, competing can be a motivating force, but the research actually points to more learning happening (in most skill development) when children engage in cooperative learning than when they compete against each other.
Many years ago, the Caterpillar Cottage teachers and I were pondering together how to manage children's fascination with pretend gun play (or pretend sword play, “pow pow” games etc..) on the playground and in the classroom. Every year, this is a theme that some children introduce and typically it is one that reappears multiple times. This can be difficult because it is the kind of active play that is more likely to lead to misunderstandings and upset.
Our recent P.E.T. workshops have inspired me to reflect on parenting practices and our teacher connection methods at preschool. We all want to give our children the foundation to be confident adults: creative, happy, resourceful problem-solvers, lifelong learners, caring and motivated members of our society. One way we can facilitate that is through understanding and empathy.
Providing open-ended sensory activities with various materials (such as play dough, clay, kinetic sand, puffy paint, ice, cornstarch and water, and many others you have seen at preschool) gives children opportunities for exploration and discovery. These experiences last a lifetime, as what we learn through our senses create powerful memories and understanding of concepts such as melting, liquid, solid, hard, soft, squishy, gooey, color, etc.
The truth is, no matter the amount of expertise, we all struggle from time to time with how best to engage with our children. It can be challenging in the best of times. We wear many hats as adults, we are responsible for so much.
I was contemplating how best to approach my seven year old about cleaning up her room, and this came to me. I decided to share it with you all.
My daughter's room
There are horses on the floor. One just gave birth. figures and dolls stand in a circle.
When we think about what we want for our children as they mature into grownups, many things come to mind. Some of these may include health, happiness, strength of character, kindness, traits of collaborating with others, and/or being productive and responsible members of their communities and the world they live in. In the day to day work of parenting young children, our values might be observed in our efforts to help our children learn some common basic social rules such as sharing a toy or apologizing to others when they do something upsetting to a friend.
Two children are sitting on the floor together, connecting toy rods. They each have a rod, which they are making longer by adding one piece after another to the ends.
Child 1: "I wonder if we have the same amount?"
He proceeds to count the pieces in his own creation.
Child 2 starts to count his.
Child 1: "Count slowly."
Child 2: "I have 9 and you have 10."
Child 2 adds one to his own and exclaims: "Now we have the same! We both have 10!"
Child 1: "What if we put them together?! Then we would have 70!"
I want to start this entry with an excerpt from a book MIND IN THE MAKING by Ellen Galinsky, a book focused on exploring children's learning and development from the perspective of current brain research. This section in the book starts with us reflecting on our own experience with patience and focus.
Inhibitory Control (pg. 23)