Daffodils and Parmesan and Kids…Who Knew??

Last updated on July 17th, 2021 at 09:22 pm

Spring is here. Flowers are in bloom. In Connecticut Daffodils - beautiful but dangerousone local town celebrates the arrival of spring with an annual daffodil festival. In fact – thousands of flowers. I wonder how many people know that the bulbs of the plant are among the most poisonous of all plants in the US.

And who doesn’t like a little Parmesan cheese sprinkled on- well in my house, on just about everything. And I like the bright inviting colors of the packaging- inviting me to indulge. Unfortunately Comet cleanser has equally colorful packaging. And certainly you never accidentally put your comet in the fridge and the Parmesan under the sink but look at products the way a child would. They are drawn to bright colors and to things that Mom and Dad handle and use.

Antifreeze used to smell really nice and became a common poison to our animals and kids. Manufacturers are no longer allowed to add perfumes to make the product smell better. Believe it or not, antifreeze performance does not improve with the addition of perfume and without it kids and dogs are safer.

So as you go about enjoying spring, getting back out into the world, maybe doing a little “post-pandemic” spring cleaning- check to make sure that your cabinets, both kitchen and bath have child proof locks. In the garage double check that kids can’t get in or that products are well out of reach. Also make sure that shelving is very secure and won’t fall over onto curious, climbing kids. And finally check your fridge for Comet- just to be safe.

Accidental poisoning CAN be prevented- take a few minutes to check things out- don’t guess, be sure.

**************************************************************************************************************************

Editors Note: This post originally ran in May of 2010 and was written by our former PedSafe EMS Expert Jim Love. Our thanks to him for some wonderful reminders

Instant Packets of Independence for a Special Needs Child

Last updated on June 12th, 2021 at 01:01 pm

Today I taught my nearly nine year-old daughter how to make herself some instant Cinnamon Swirl oatmeal. It’s a simple enough task, but for a special need child who was never supposed to walk or talk it is a big deal on many levels. Just think about the many skills involved with the preparation:

  • Beautiful child hugging a green bowl of millet cereal favoriteShaking the packet without dropping it
  • Tearing the paper and keeping everything inside
  • Pouring the contents into the bowl and avoiding getting any on the counter
  • Adding a measured amount of water to the bowl (and only the bowl)
  • Stirring the oatmeal and water together with a spoon
  • Carrying the breakable ceramic bowl to the microwave while keeping the bowl level
  • Opening the microwave door
  • Setting the bowl into the microwave
  • Shutting the microwave door
  • Pressing the “1” button
  • Opening the microwave door
  • Gingerly taking the hot bowl out of the microwave
  • Shutting the door

Sure, for most of us this entire sequence would take less than half the minute it takes for it to cook, but a year ago my daughter wouldn’t have been able to do this.

Most importantly, a year ago she wouldn’t have wanted to do any of this for herself. She was perfectly content to have me run back and forth in a callback to my former waitressing days. Doing this for herself signifies a step towards independence. To me, this means that maybe one day she will be able to live on her own without starving to death. So what if she can’t quite spell perfectly, she can now make instant oatmeal. It’s the small victories that remind me of her quiet, determined march forward – which is not always so quiet and is usually less marching and more kicking and screaming.

How do you celebrate the small steps in your child’s life?

Raising Kind, Sensitive Children After a Year of Social Distancing

Last updated on June 12th, 2021 at 01:02 pm

“Why should I care how he feels? He’s not my friend.”

“So what if I made him cry. He’s a wimp.”

“How was I supposed to know he would take it so bad? I was just joking.”

Sensitizing children to how someone else feels is a significant and serious enterprise. Kids can’t do this alone – they must be supported, supervised, and encouraged to develop sensitivity and consideration, and parents play a key role in this endeavor.

The true parenting challenge is to use those unplanned moments when a child’s behavior is unacceptable as a learning tool to become more responsive to the feelings of others. Besides, that’s always the best kind of lesson: one that helps the child discover for herself why she should be kind and realize her uncaring, insensitive actions may affect others by understanding how the other person feels.

Martin Hoffman, a world-renowned researcher from the University of Michigan, discovered that the most common discipline technique parents of highly considerate children use is reasoning with them about their uncaring behavior. The parents’ “reasoning lessons” helped sensitize their children to the feelings of others, and realize how their actions have consequences.

It’s an important parenting point to keep in mind in those moments when we confront our own kids for any uncaring deed.

Seven Ways to Squelch Insensitivity and Boost Empathy

Here are seven ideas you can use almost anytime to tune up your child’s awareness of the feelings of others.

1. Praise sensitive, kind actions

One of the simplest and most effective ways of enhancing any behavior is by reinforcing the action as soon as it happens.

Whenever you notice your child acting in a sensitive and caring manner, let her know how pleased it makes you feel:

“Karen, I love how gentle you are with your sister. You treat her so softly, and it makes me so happy knowing how caring you are.”

2. Show the effect of sensitivity

Sensitive, empathic, kind acts – even small ones – can make a big difference in people’s lives, so point them out to help your child see the impact his actions made.

  • “Derrick, your grandmother was so pleased when you called to thank her for the present.”
  • “Suraya, did you see the smile on Ryan’s face when you shared your toys?”

3. Draw attention to nonverbal feeling cues

Pointing out the facial expressions, posture, and mannerisms of people in different emotional states sensitizes your child to other people’s feelings.

As occasions arise, explain your concern and share what clues helped you make your feeling assessment.

  • “Did you notice Grandma’s face when you were talking with her today? I thought she looked puzzled. Maybe she is having trouble hearing. Why not talk a little louder when you speak with her?”
  • “Did you see the expression on Meghan’s face when you were playing today? She looked worried about something because she had a scowl on her face. Maybe you should ask her if everything is OK.”
  • “Let’s read the book together and look for people who seem mad. Then we can make our face look the same way.”

4. Ask often, “How does he feel?”

One of the easiest ways to nurture your child’s sensitivity is to ask her to ponder how another person feels. As opportunities arise, pose the question often, using situations in books, TV, and movies as well as real life.

  • “How do you think the mommy feels, knowing that her little girl just won the prize?”
  • “The tornado destroyed most of the town in Georgia; see it here on the map? How do you think the people feel?”
  • “How do you think Daddy feels hearing that his mom is so sick?”

Each question forces your child to stop and think about other people’s concerns, and nurtures sensitivity to their needs. Ask those “how would you feel” type questions often.

5. Use the formula: “feels + needs”

Michael Schulman and Eva Mekler, authors of Bringing Up a Moral Child, reviewed studies and found that an effective way to increase sensitivity is to ask children questions to help them discover people’s needs and feelings. Such questions were found to expand children’s awareness of what people might be experiencing. As a result the children became more sensitive to how they might be able to help.

To use the idea with your child, look for occasions to draw attention to people’s feelings and then ask her to guess what the person might need in order to remedy the feeling. Here is how a parent might use the method:

  • Parent: Look at that little girl crying in the sandbox. How do you suppose she feels?
  • Child: I think she is sad.
  • Parent: What do you think she needs to make her feel better?
  • Child: Maybe she could use someone to hug her because she hurt her knee.

6. Explain your disapproval of insensitive behavior

Whenever your child displays insensitivity, be sure to explain why you consider the child’s behavior to be unacceptable and “insensitive.”

Simply explain what concerns you about the behavior, and how you feel about uncaring actions. This is the moment you make sure your child clearly understands what is wrong about the behavior, and why you disapprove. And you’ve helped your child shift his focus from himself to considering how his actions can impact other people. Martin Hoffmann’s research in moral development found that parents who consistently use “reasoning-type stretching lessons” raised more sensitive, caring, empathic children.

  • “I’m very concerned when I see you treating your friends without considering their feelings. You may not treat people unkindly. Let’s talk about ways to be a kind friend.”
  • “That was insensitive: I expect you to treat your friends the same way you’d want to be treated.”

7. Set a consequence if insensitivity continues

If your child continues to display insensitivity towards others’ feelings, then it’s time to set a consequence. Remember, consequences must be meaningful, appropriate to the child’s age and temperament, and “fit the crime.”

The best consequences for insensitivity are also authentic ways for the child to make amends. For example:

  • Forbid your child from playing with a friend until your child understands he must treat others kindly. Your rule is: “If you can’t treat people nicely, you can’t play.”
  • Another option is to demand your child apologize sincerely to the recipient. This might be drawing or writing an apology or apologizing in person or with a phone call.

And keep on in your quest! Find those day-to-day moments to boost your child’s sensitivity. It’s our surest answer to reducing peer cruelty and making the world a kinder and more caring place.

*********************************************************************************************************************

UnSelfie 140x210Teens today are 40 percent less empathetic than they were thirty years ago. Why is a lack of empathy—along with the self-absorption epidemic Dr. Michele Borba calls the Selfie Syndrome—so dangerous? First, it hurts kids’ academic performance and leads to bullying behaviors. Also, it correlates with more cheating and less resilience. And once children grow up, it hampers their ability to collaborate, innovate and problem-solve—all must-have skills for the global economy. The good news? Empathy is a trait that can be taught and nurtured. UnSelfie is a blueprint for parents and educators who want activate our children’s hearts and shift their focus from I, me, and mine… to we, us, and ours. It’s time to include “empathy” in our parenting and teaching! UnSelfie is available at amazon.com.

Summer Checklist – Ready, Set, Swim!

Last updated on June 12th, 2021 at 01:02 pm

Summer’s almost here!!!

The weather is trending towards hot and sunny, the pools and beaches are beginning to open for the season, pandemic restrictions are FINALLY starting to lift and you are thinking it might just be safe to wash the snow pants.

So, what do you need to be ready for summer?

  • Swimsuits and goggles – check to make sure last year’s still fit and they aren’t falling apart from the sunshine, salt and chlorine. And if you have a child who won’t put their head in the water, goggles might be the answer.
  • Sunscreen. Do what the Australians do – keep a bottle by the back door and have everyone slap on a bit more every time they go out.
  • Water toys. The more interesting the toys in your beach bag, the less of the teasing/fighting/whining as the ‘toy’ becomes a younger sibling. I love splash bombs, the small torpedoes, diving rings and self-propelled sharks. Not only are they fun, but they keep your child diving and playing in the water which builds confidence and strength. I also have an entire basket of splash bombs in my basement for battles during the cold winter months – a great way to burn off steam safely.
  • Flotation device. What is a parent to do when you are at the pool with more than one child and they aren’t truly accomplished swimmers? We know ‘always watch your children’, but having two active kids myself I can tell you it’s not humanly possible, especially in a crowded pool. Either an approved life vest or, my favorite invention, the Swim Fin. It looks like a shark fin, so it’s totally cool, and it keeps beginner swimmers afloat. What I like best is that it keeps arms and legs completely free to practice their skills, safely, and kids love wearing them – it gives new meaning to the game ‘sharks and minnows’. Also amazing for helping good swimmers improve their stroke, especially butterfly. Contact www.swimfin.co.uk to find out where to buy them near you.
  • Rules. Number one rule: Never go near water without a grownup. Summer safety is very important. Train your kids to tell you ‘I’m going into the pool’. I’m going to the water slide’ ‘I’m going to be near the fountain’ ‘I’m going down by the lake’, and then make sure you are watching them. Teach your kids how to be safe near the water, to self-regulate their behavior so they are safe for a lifetime, not just a minute. The best rule for adults? Assign a water-watcher – an adult whose only job for 10 minutes is to watch the kids, and only watch the kids – no chatting, no texting, no magazines – and then ‘tap’ the next adult so that you can all have a good time and your kids will be safe.

HAVE FUN!!!! My pool/beach bag is packed, bring on summer!

7 Steps to Modeling Respect for Your Children

Last updated on June 12th, 2021 at 01:02 pm

Most parents expect their children to respect them. What are you doing to model respect? Here are seven simple steps to living with respect in your relationships.

  • Be a good listener – Give your child your undivided attention when they are speaking to you.Mother_And_Daughter respect
  • Be fair – Consider your child’s viewpoint and experience before stating your opinion.
  • Be honest – Tell the truth. Be accountable when you make a mistake.
  • Be polite – Use the manners that you expect of your children.
  • Be positive – Focus on the positive side of life. Your child deserves a role model that “lifts them up.” Compliment your children, observe what they do well and celebrate it.
  • Be reliable – Keep your promises. Show your child that you mean what you say. Do as you say and say as you do. Children see the truth through a clearer lens than do adults.
  • Be trustworthy – Keep your children’s heart-felt feelings and experiences private, show them that you can be a trusted adult who cares about their feelings and their self-esteem.

Showing your children that you respect them through your words and actions encourages your children to respect themselves, you and others.

****************************************************************************************************************************familycoach-book-smaller

*This post reflects Dr Kenney’s “The Family Coach Method” used in practice for a number of years, and released for publication just this past September. The Family Coach Method is ‘rug-level,’ friendly and centered on the concept of families as a winning team – with dozens of age-appropriate sample conversations and problem solving scenarios to guide a family to the desired place of mutual respect, shared values and strengths. The goal is to help children to develop the life skills, judgment and independence that can help them navigate the challenges of an increasingly complex world.