Life’s Perfect Moments

November 20, 2013

Lifes-Perfect-MomentsYour family wants you during this holiday season. The essence of our love for our children is not what we provide for them, but how much of ourselves that we give to them. Whenever we give our time, we are making a sacrifice and sacrifice is the essence of love.

The very best parents are those who are purposeful and value the power of simplicity. Be mindful of how healing a kind word is when a child feels lousy and how good a gentle hug feels when the rest of the world has hurt us. Let your child feel that you are there with her as her number-one fan. Let go of the things that are crowding your mind and enjoy these priceless moments that will pass all too soon. It’s these simple connections that you make with your child when she is very young that become the glue that holds you together.

Simple guidelines to remember when connecting with your child:

  1. Eye contact is important. Make every effort to get on your child’s eye level when carrying on a conversation.
  2. Be a great listener.
  3. Treat your child with respect – it’s critical to his self-esteem.
  4. Catch your child “doing it right” and give her praise that is specific to the act.
  5. Keep it simple and stay in the present. Get rid of distractions if you are serious about being in the moment. Let your child know that you have chosen to put him first.

Don’t miss a single minute of this holiday season. Your child has only one childhood… and nothing can replace the hugs, the laughter, and that warm feeling of being totally present with your child. These are the moments along life’s path that are truly perfect.

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Bullying in Preschool

November 6, 2013

Stop Bullying in PreschoolsWritten by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.

The November and December holidays bring families and friends together and remind us to make sure that the children in our lives are surrounded by peace, love, and kindness. Mainstream media has made us very aware of how hurtful it is to be bullied, and many parents and educators think that this abuse doesn’t become a real issue until middle school. However, we know that we cannot wait until children are bullied to teach them how to cope with this hurtful behavior. We must equip them at a very young age with the skills they need to successfully navigate through the preschool years. When we do, we empower them with confidence and self-respect.  

 

Bullies taunt others because they can and because they don’t value and appreciate the feelings of others. Often they themselves have been bullied. When a preschool child hurts another child, it is important to understand what happened. Educators need to give each child the opportunity to express his feelings, but it must be very clear that our classrooms are safe and respectful. We use our hands for gentle hugs but never for hurting. We use our words to express our feelings. If we are angry with our friend, we talk about it. We do not make fun of anyone or cause someone to feel afraid. Every preschool classroom should have a Peace Table or a Talk-it-Out Center where children can resolve issues. While educators should facilitate these conversations, we must teach our children how to work together toward a respectful solution.  

 

Young children will not always tell us that they are being bullied. It is our responsibility to watch for signs of distress, observe the classroom, and build strong bridges between school and home. If we are going to eradicate bullying, we must start early. Every social issue that becomes a crisis begins in the early years, and research shows that children who are mistreated often grow up to abuse their spouses and their own children. We must do our part to stop this cycle.  

 

I encourage parents to never ignore their instincts. Watch for these signs that your child is being bullied and be persistent in equipping her with the skills she needs to cope with anyone who disrespects her.

 

1.     Be aware of any physical changes in your child such as unexplained stomachaches and/or headaches that occur around school time or seem to disappear if she does not go to school.

 

2.     Listen to what your child says and what he does not say. Children learn by playing, and you can learn from them by playing with them. Pretend that you and your child are in the block center at school and ask him which friend you can be. Play nice and then play unfairly and see how he responds. You should hear kind words and see respectful behavior that he has experienced at school. Seize every teachable moment to role play what to say and do if someone treats him unfairly.

 

3.     It could be a warning sign if your child avoids looking you in the eye when you talk about school. It is definitely a warning sign if this is combined with withdrawal or other unexplained behavior. Again, connect with your child in her world through hands-on interactions.

 

4.     If you suspect bullying, keep it simple and tell your child what to do. The younger the child, the simpler the message should be — “Hands are for gentle touches” or “It is not okay for anyone to hit, kick, pinch, or hurt you.” Consider a book such as Have You Filled A Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud, which focuses on positive behavior rather than on bullying, to point out how we should treat each other.

 

 

It will take all of us working together to instill in our children the universally accepted character trait of respect. Bullying is a learned behavior and hurts everyone, and we must begin early and be strong advocates for the children in our world.