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Dr. Terrie Rose by Dr. Terrie Rose - 2M ago
Shortly before I give a presentation, I often feel a rumbling in my stomach, quickening pulse, and energy running through my body. These physical reactions help me a
chieve a specific goal, an engaging talk. Mindful awareness taught me to pay attention to my body’s experiences.
In many situations, I found it helpful to notice where in my body I felt emotions. Talking from my heart or my stomach became comfortable and authentic. As a result, I was more present and accepting of myself. I also was more open to the experiences of others.
Neuroscientists refer to my experience before a presentation as stress. Stress is the body’s reactions to change. Although often thought of as wrong or something we shouldn’t experience, stress serves a vital role in health. Short-term stress enlivens our senses, makes us more social, and heightens our attention to details.
Research shows that when we think of stress as a good thing, it energizes us and helps us perform better. Positive stress can help an athlete before the start of a competition or someone in business to close a deal. We can build a positive mindset about stress. For example, I say, “Thank you body for getting me ready to give a great presentation!”
Last week, as I prepared to give a talk on Growing Awareness, an unsettling feeling in my gut kept poking at me. Reframing my body’s response as positive was not working. The restlessness grew. A desire to cancel the presentation emerged. I felt my stress level rising. What was happening?
According to Dr. Dan Siegel, founder of the field of interpersonal neurobiology, negative stress evokes a pattern of fear-anger-sad-helpless reactions. The primitive regions of the brain activate stress. Our bodies respond to negative pressure with fear-based survival responses. Sensing danger, our bodies prepare to react with fight|flight|freeze reactions.
Practicing how to move within the feeling and experiences of stress, I found it helpful to befriend my uncomfortable feelings. Rather than pushing away unusually intense emotional responses, I decided to accept whatever was showing up. I opened up towards what was unconsciously creating one adverse stress reaction.
Sometimes I find it helpful to think of the stress I am carrying as a bucket. When too many things fill the container, I am no longer able to stay balanced. With compassion and self-kindness, I looked at the bucket.
Eighteen months ago, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. I took a sabbatical during the first part of his treatment. About a year ago, I returned to writing and speaking. It brought energy and intellectual excitement. I was using my wellbeing journey to share with others mindful awareness.
But recently, my husband’s treatments stopped working. We searched across the country for clinical trials. A new intervention required us to live away from home for a while. Self-kindness and compassion revealed the depth of sadness and uncertainty about my husband’s cancer.
With the presentation in a few hours, I decided to show up with all of my experiences. By changing my perspective, I shifted towards viewing these experiences as challenges rather than fight|flight|freeze stress reactions. I trusted in the humanity and compassion of the group; after all, it was a session about mindful awareness and self-compassion.
The presentation was a success.
Here are tips from Dan Siegel, MD, for using mindful awareness to shift the mind away from automatic and unhelpful stress responses.
1. Befriend your body’s response and experiences by practicing mindful awareness.
2. Practice self-compassion – rather than fear and stress.
3. Become aware of toxic stress and early attachment relationship experiences that can, even as an adult, ignite primitive stress responses.
4. See relationships as resources for dealing with stressful situations.
5. Think of the self as MWE = Me + We, an interconnected source of strength and love.
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Parenting children under the age of five is an emotionally and physically exhausting job. Sleep deprivation, changing schedules, and managing everyone’s needs requires super-human strength. Unending chores with not enough hands can suck the joy from everyday moments.
Mindful awareness, humor, and talking with others can enhance our abilities to manage the everyday stresses of raising children. The key to resilient parenting is to nurture flexible, responsive, and stable relationships with our children and with ourselves. And, it is available to us by changing our mind and growing awareness in everyday activities.
When feeding a young infant bring your attention to your breathing and space where your body meets your baby’s. Listen to the sound of rain or wind with your toddler. During snack, notice the taste of the cracker or juice. Get your hands into the finger paint and feel textures and sensations. At the table, feel your feet on the floor by picking up each toe and placing your toe back on the ground.
Become aware of what patterns or experiences are no longer helpful. Most of us carry a critic on our shoulder, voices inside our heads that judges our value and actions. Is this judge supporting you with kindness, or does it always point to flaws? Here a few ideas for changing the internal dialogue and expanding your choices.
Quite the inner critic with positive visualization that gives you energy.Coach yourself with the same supportive kindness you use with a friend. Spend a few minutes each day learning child development. Understanding our child’s point of view and cognitive development can help us depersonalize difficult behaviors.
When things don’t go the way we expect, our ability to bounce back is resilience. Bringing our awareness to our breathing and to our limbs can help us change from a reactive to an active state.
Bring your thumb in contact with your index finger as you inhale. Release fingers as you exhale. Repeat.Use a meditation or yoga app for short practices each day. Engage in at least one activity every day that makes you say, “I love being a parent.”Before a meal or at the end of the night, list three things for which you are grateful.
The goal is not perfect parenting, but rather enjoyable parenting. Awareness improves our inner balance and develops joy. Building our inner resources and resilience teaches our children how to compassionately contribute to our communities.
Interested in learning more about Growing Awareness? Contact me.
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It's been weeks since our dog passed — weeks since I told my almost two-year-old granddaughter that our constant companion was no longer at our sides. For many days, I thought about writing helping children with the loss of a pet. But, I kept finding distractions. I wasn’t yet ready.
My heart ached for his unconditional love. My eyes scanned for his shape. My body searched for his warmth. My ears perked at familiar sounds. My memory fooled me as I expected his greeting.
How To Help Yourself When Your Pet Dies?
Take care of yourself.
Be gentle. With tenderness and kindness, give yourself a few days or weeks to calibrate to the loss.
The loss of our dog touched almost every activity and part of the day. I arrived home, expecting him to greet me. I went to my bed expecting him already in a cozy spot. My shopping list did not include his food. It amazed me how often I thought of our dog.
Expect waves.
Loss activates our thoughts, feelings, senses, and experiences of the body. With tenderness, watch the sadness stay, retreat, return, and go. This pattern may become less frequent and less intense with time.
Gut-wrenching sadness filled my awareness during the first morning. I watched the waves. I allowed saddness to be present. I noticed wanting to ignore or distract. About mid-day the darkest of the feelings lifted. The following weeks, I watched as grief rolled in and receded.
When Your Pet Dies, How To Help Your Young Child
Protect infants and toddlers.
While we don’t want to hide emotions from young children, grief is intense and difficult for infants and toddlers to understand. Young children tend to think they cause your emotions.
Reassure your child that you are safe and your child is safe and loved.
When powerful emotions flood your system, excuse yourself for two-minutes while your child is safe. “Mommy needs to take care of Mommy.”
Process your experience or details of the pet’s death when your young child cannot hear you. Even when the child does not understand the words, your child can pick up on the felt experience of the words or timbre of hushed tones.
Name emotions. It's okay if you cry when you tell your child of your pet’s death or talk about your memories of the dog. Your child will likely mirror your emotion and take cues from you. Naming and regulating emotions is part of what young children are learning. Reassure your child it is okay to be sad, and not to be sad.
Say aloud your shared emotional experience for you and your child.
"Daddy is sad our dog died. Cassie is sad our dog died."“I loved our dog. I am sad he doesn’t go on walks anymore.”
Be aware of children's processing.
Cause-and-Effect are emerging skills. A young child may believe she causes your sadness and possibly the pet's death. Let your child know adults are responsible to care for children and pets. State the cause simply with clear language.
“Our dog’s body was very old and stopped working.” “Our dog didn’t see the car. The car hurt his body and he died.”
Reinforce positive connections.
Talk about all of the ways your child loved your pet. While we might want to protect our child or ourselves from reminders of our sadness, the pet’s items provide a concrete way to talk about the changes.
Keep out the bowl or the dog’s bed. “I remember our dog. He liked to sleep in his bed.”
Create a memory box of the dog’s dish, collar and favorite toy. Place the box in an easy to access location. Yesterday, our granddaughter took out of the memory box our pet's leash- 8 weeks after his death. She pretended to be a dog. It brought joy into our hearts!
Please write to me and share your experiences.
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Dr. Terrie Rose by Dr. Terrie Rose - 7M ago
Hanging out with relatives during the holidays can be heartwarming. But sometimes, what we wish for and what we get sometimes don't match up. Those of us with young children may be particularly nervous about being judged. It stings when those we love criticize our parenting or our children’s behaviors. When we don’t see some family members all that often, we worry that they won't understand.
Will my father think that my toddler always whines?
Will my friends judge my parenting skills if I let my children have 2 desserts or eat with their fingers?
Will Aunty think my child is disrespectful if he doesn't sit when others are unwrapping gifts?
Disrupted schedules, unsolicited parenting advice, and unruly toddlers can dampen yuletide spirits. So, how do we manage our wee ones and the in-laws?
Managing Young Children
Schedules
Adults have more flexibility than children when it comes to changing sleep routines. The time your child eats and naps at childcare may not match holiday happenings. A young child who stays up 2 extra hours at night, doesn't sleep 2 hours later. A toddler off schedule may have more difficulty managing energy and emotions.
Holding Baby
Decide ahead of time how you want to handle loving the baby. Is it okay if everyone holds the baby after washing hands? Or would you prefer (or does your baby prefer) that you hold the baby? Your clarity will make it easier for the others. If you need, enlist your pediatrician’s advice. “During flu season, our doctor recommends that we not to pass our baby around.”
Picky Eaters
Toddlers are picky eaters. Most one and two-year-olds prefer to eat only one type of food at a time. Reassure Grandma that your child will love the family meal when they get older. Perhaps bring small child-friendly snacks and activities to entertain children while adults eat.
Meals
Adults love to linger over a delicious holiday meal. But, for a toddler, fifteen minutes is a long time. Plus child-centered conversations about small bites and peas limits adult engagement. Rotate with a parenting partner or enlist a school-age nephew to play with your toddler. The adults will enjoy the cuisine and conversation. Your child will love the one-to-one interactions.
Gift Giving
Toddlers are more excited to unwrap a gift than play with the present inside. To keep them engaged, bring tape and rewrap and unwrap the gift. Toddlers love finding out that the toy is the same each time. Think of it like hide-and-seek or peek-a-boo.
Tantrums
Tantrums happen. They are a typical part of development. With a calm voice, use simple phrases like “I know it’s hard.” or “So mad.” With a loving adult by her side, the intensity of the protest will diminish in less than 90 seconds.
Managing Adults
Talk ahead of time with holiday hosts or guests.
To create a win-win situation, communicate openly. Share your vision for events and talk about how you can help each other and your children. Focus on what parts of the day are the most important. Set your child up for success by creating a shared understanding of what works best.
Unsolicited Advice
Acknowledge differences. "We all parent differently." Saying this out loud can lay a foundation of respect. Also, become aware of how easy it is to judge others. When we notice our tendencies to judge others, we model awareness and kindness.
Different houses, different rules
Even toddlers can learn that homes and people have different rules. It may be okay to jump on mom’s bed, but not Grandpa’s. "Those are our family's rules" is a handy phrase all the way through high school.
Finding Joy
Engage Parenting Partner
Parenting can be exhausting. Talk ahead of time with your spouse or mom supporting you. It is helpful to have another's caring attention to your child during holiday gatherings. Decide ahead of time who leaves early with the tired toddler, or takes a break during naptime. If there is an event significant to you, ask for help. Perhaps consider hiring an older child as a playmate for your child.
Start New Traditions
Traditions are lovely but at times might some might not be a good fit for toddlers. This is a great time think about what activities are most important to you. Much like parenting, what do I want to repeat from my childhood and what do I want to let go? Consider starting a new tradition or varying an old favorite.
Engage Gratitude
Sometimes we forget to slow down and enjoy the pleasure of being together. This season, remind yourself to take gratitude breaks. Take note of what or whom you are grateful for. Share your joy and appreciation with others. Allow your heart to feel the warmth of the season. This simple practice brings our busy minds and bodies into the present moment.
I would love to hear from you about your holiday happenings, challenges, and joy.
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Dr. Terrie Rose by Dr. Terrie Rose - 8M ago
Were you spanked as a kid? I was.
And for the most part, we think we turned out okay.
So, why has the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its stance on discipline? New research shows lifelong consequences:
“Research has shown that striking a child, yelling at or shaming them can elevate stress hormones and lead to changes in the brain's architecture.”
Let’s think about spanking as a correction for misbehavior by age groups.
Infants
Numerous research studies show that a responsive, safe, and consistent parent-child relationship enables a baby to build positive relationships with others. Securely attached children show better-developed self-regulation and enjoy learning about the world. Almost everything from bedtime to reading a book is a first time activity for a baby. Repetition, including consistency in caregiving, helps babies know what is most important and what to expect.
Being spanked, yelled at, or ignored by a loving caregiver is most unsettling and extraordinarily challenging for a baby. A baby is wired to seek care from adults. When that adult also is frightened, frightening, or hurtful to the baby, confusion sets in.
Wanting and fearing a caring adult is an unsolvable situation for a baby. In response, a baby may freeze or stare blankly. Sometimes, a baby will move towards a parent with a terrified expression. Learning can't happen. Joy can’t happen. Play can’t happen. In fact, research shows that these experiences as a very young child may have subtle or significant life-long neuro-biological and relational consequences.
If you feel sudden rage, give yourself a time-out. Intense emotions last about 90 seconds. Count backwards. Take deep breaths. Bring your shoulders to your ears and let them drop. Take the time to recalibrate your body before making a regretful move.
Keys to infant discipline:
A warm, consistent, responsive, safe, and loving relationship with your child sets the foundation for positive and effective parenting.Soothe crying baby. You can’t spoil an infant.Create a baby safe environment. This nurtures both your and your baby’s experience.
Remove breakable items like the TV controller or glass figurines.Use safety gates and cover electrical outlets.Tape cords to the floor or place behind furniture.
Keep a basket of baby toys and books within reach.Use redirection when a baby’s movements are unsafe. A baby’s attention span is short and can be easily shifted towards something appropriate.
Toddlers
Some parents reserve a quick swat on the butt for the most dangerous of situations, for example, when a toddler runs into the street. Does using the reasoning of hurting the child to make a strong point work?
Spanking or physically hurting a child does get their attention. However, the child’s focus is on their experience of physical sensations. The toddler is incapable of putting the two experiences together —"I ran into street = spanking." The toddler now focuses on the hurt; not the intended lesson.
If spanking is used as a means of instruction, the only way to make this connection is to threaten the child with being hurt as a consequence. "You run into the street, I spank you." The problem with this logic though is now the toddler's attention is on being spanked, not on the street.
In order for spanking to work as a disincentive, the child would have to think ahead to next time: “If I run into the street, then I will get spanked.” This type of if-then logic, however, is cognitively beyond a toddler’s capability.
An alternative strategy is to get down at eye level with your child. With your stern voice and face, say “No street!” Here, the focus stays on the behavior you are trying to prevent. It also allows you to offer a physical clue (a preemptive stern face warning) as a reminder the next time. I also find adding the American Sign Language gesture for "no" or "stop" to be a useful addition.
Three-year-olds
For three-year-olds, spanking isn’t just a consequence: it’s the ultimate power differential (“Do what I say, or I will spank.”) At the moment when we are angry or scared, the act of spanking may feel satisfying and even appropriate. But does it match your long-range goals for your child?
Three-year-old parenting is a lot like parenting a teen. Much like teenagers, three-year-olds do things that they know are wrong for many reasons.
They want to know the limits. "Can I color on the wall?" "What about on my shoe?" Children are learning and relearning boundaries for appropriate behaviors.Three-year-olds and teens are interested in knowing if there is always the same consequence. Are rules consistent each time? Do mom and grandma have the same standard?Threes and teens are learning about emotional regulation. What happens when I get upset? Do I get what I want?
Discipline and positive parenting are about setting a firm foundation for future self-regulation—not just a dramatic reaction. Clear communication, defined limits and consistent responses are the building blocks for raising healthy, productive kids. When you look at it this way, spanking just isn’t very useful; and, it is harmful.
If you were spanked as a child, it might take extra effort to overcome hurtful and negative patterns of parenting. While it doesn’t require getting a Ph.D., parent coaching and personal development are helpful ways to overcome generational histories of spanking, yelling, and belittling. Become aware of your experiences. There are ways to surface boiling anger, deep regret, or unwholesome shame with kindness and attention. Despite our parents’ best intention, trauma lives in our neuro-biology and can kick into action when we least expect it.
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Dr. Terrie Rose by Dr. Terrie Rose - 8M ago
My favorite reading group happens at our local library. A group of more than 20 parents, grandparents, babysitters, aunts, and uncles accompany about 20 babies and toddlers. Many babies bring two caring adults. A few adults coax two or three children into the room.
When you walk into the room, there is a circle outlined by pyramids of three identical books. Babies, toddlers, and adults find their spots. Familiar faces greet each other as we wait for the librarian, Jane, to enter.
The first activity is to sing a hello song to every baby in the circle. Not to the group, but to each child by name. It often takes 10 minutes to complete. The community is established, as each child in the circle is welcomed. Everyone belongs to the group.
The order is simple: song, book, song, book, song, book, song, and play. When it’s time to read a book, each adult reads the book to his child. The group sings a song together, and the adult reads the second book. Repeat. After a final song, a bin of infant and toddler toys appear.
What this group gets right is that a love for reading and learning grows out of love felt from caring adults. Think of reading as a tool for building your secure relationship with the child. The positive feelings are transferred to the child with warmth, curiosity, and attention to reading. A love for learning blossoms and the child experiences what it means to be a learner.
Reading with infants, toddlers and preschoolers is sort of like playing the piano. If you were just learning to play the piano, you would start with a few keys before moving on to chords, site reading, composing, etc. The same is true for building reading skills. Here are a few skill-building tips by age group:
Young Babies
With very young babies, we can engage in the full experience. We read as maestros, allowing the babies to hear the fullness of the written word.With young babies, read books or articles aloud that interest you. In an early childhood setting, pick longer storybooks. Reading a story aloud has the added advantage of the other children in the room hearing the story as they play or eat.It is okay if the baby or toddler doesn’t understand the meaning of all of the words. The sounds you make while reading are directly reaching the neurons in the language center in the child's brain.
Older Babies
As babies become more engaged in their learning, reading simplifies.Board books offer simple language in short bursts of engagement.To make it easy, place a basket of books next to the rocker, next to the high chair, and in the play area. Any time you are wondering what to do, grab a book and read.
Toddlers
Reading sessions are often quick, lasting as long as the child's attention.Expect a lot of variation in engagement with books from day-to-day as well as morning to afternoon. Sometimes a toddler will want to read a couple of books, other times she won't make it through the first few pages.Be flexible. Toddlers lose and gain interest quickly. It is okay not to finish a book; she can always come back and finish reading later.
When the child picks up the book look at the orientation. Watch to see if he notices the book is upside down. Wait to see if he corrects it. If not, say, "Let's try it this way." If the child protests, let the toddler read the book upside down; remember we are introducing concepts that have a lot of time to take hold.Active engagement: Choosing books, turning pages, deciding on a new book, and even stacking books count as engagement.
Three-Year-Olds
Enjoyment! Reading is always fun.Point out the front cover of the book. Ask the child what she thinks the book is about or to retell a part of a familiar story.Encourage the child to notice pictures or words on each page.Reading can happen with or without a book. Repeat favorite storylines. Freestyle by making up stories or creating storylines together.
Reading books is a great way to boost the quality of language and the number of words and expressions young children hear. Studies show that children who hear more than 1000- 2000 words per hour are also at an advantage, being more likely to have a higher IQ, be early talkers, and perform better in school.
Skill building tips for caregivers
Use books that include descriptive language and new vocabulary words or books written in a second language.Don’t feel silly talking to a baby, toddler, or three-year-old— describe and read everything in books, at the grocery store, or while following a recipe! You’re helping build the child’s love of reading and learning!
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Nurturing a Growth Mindset for Young Children
At the Minnesota Children's Museum last week, I noticed a sign hanging at adult eye level. It read: “Give kids a chance to figure things out on their own — that’s how they learn!” Shorthand for, "adults, sit on your hands!"
The air powered ball launchers in the Forces of Play area begged for engagement. The exhibit included easy and difficult challenges for each age group. My husband and I watched as our granddaughter worked to loop a string over a handle. She rolled balls down clear tubes and then collected balls in a bucket. She quickly lost interest in concepts beyond her grasp - like the ball launcher. Her grandfather and I resisted our temptations to engage her is something we wanted to try!
Deb Lund, Executive Director of Baby's Space, has a solution for improving parents' and grandparents' interfering urges - adult-only field trips. Museum sponsored evening events give adults the run of the play areas with no children allowed. Arranging the bus and boxed-dinners, Deb makes it easy for parents to play. We are better at supporting our children when we nurture our curiosities and have fun learning.
For young children, it doesn't take the resources of a museum to create learning activities.
Three-year-old Olivia wants a toy that is just out of her reach. Standing on her tiptoes and stretching her arms towards the toy is unsuccessful. She looks around, not noticing that you are watching. She sees a chair and moves it towards the shelf. She discovers that the chair is too high for her to climb successfully.
What do you do?
Getting the toy for Olivia is the quickest, and perhaps the safest way to solve this problem. But quick and easy solutions can interfere with the opportunity for discovery. By facing everyday dilemmas, young children learn how to gather information, break down problems, set goals, and organize knowledge.
Looking around the room, Olivia spots a stool. With a lot of effort, she places it next to the chair but she discovers that when she gets on the stool, the back of the chair is in her way. Olivia calls for help.
An encouraging voice says, “You can figure it out!”
After a moment of contemplation, a triumphant Olivia ascends to grab the toy.
Throughout the day, infants, toddlers, and three-year-olds will try problem-solving strategies, many of which will be unsuccessful. Children will try to put their bodies in spaces that are too small. They will watch as the yogurt containers fall to the floor. Towers built without sturdy foundations will topple over. Stuffed animals will become too abundant to carry. Their left foot won’t fit in their right shoe.
These attempts are not errors; they are learning moments!
The brains of toddlers are twice as busy as the brains of adults. Young children are continually trying out, “what will happen when…?”
So, how do we allow toddlers to make discoveries and find solutions, while not having floors covered with yogurt?
Create child-friendly environments in which there are few “off-limits” items or areas. Narrate your child’s actions. “You are trying to reach the truck.” This way your child knows you are paying attention to her learning.Pause to watch how your child attempts to solve a problem before offering suggestions or help.Delight in repetitive play. While it may be annoying or boring for adults, it is the way toddlers learn!Even when you both know the outcome, with excitement wonder, “What’s going to happen next?”
Remember a growth mindset includes complementing the process and using the word, "yet." Check out my article on Growth Mindset.
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Dr. Terrie Rose by Dr. Terrie Rose - 8M ago
Were you spanked as a kid? I was.
And for the most part, we think we turned out okay.
So, why has the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its stance on discipline? New research shows lifelong consequences:
“Research has shown that striking a child, yelling at or shaming them can elevate stress hormones and lead to changes in the brain's architecture.”
Let’s think about spanking as a correction for misbehavior by age groups.
Infants
Numerous research studies show that a responsive, safe, and consistent parent-child relationship enables a baby to build positive relationships with others. Securely attached children show better-developed self-regulation and enjoy learning about the world. Almost everything from bedtime to reading a book is a first time activity for a baby. Repetition, including consistency in caregiving, helps babies know what is most important and what to expect.
Being spanked, yelled at, or ignored by a loving caregiver is most unsettling and extraordinarily challenging for a baby. A baby is wired to seek care from adults. When that adult also is frightened, frightening, or hurtful to the baby, confusion sets in.
Wanting and fearing a caring adult is an unsolvable situation for a baby. In response, a baby may freeze or stare blankly. Sometimes, a baby will move towards a parent with a terrified expression. Learning can't happen. Joy can’t happen. Play can’t happen. In fact, research shows that these experiences as a very young child may have subtle or significant life-long neuro-biological and relational consequences.
If you feel sudden rage, give yourself a time-out. Intense emotions last about 90 seconds. Count backwards. Take deep breaths. Bring your shoulders to your ears and let them drop. Take the time to recalibrate your body before making a regretful move.
Keys to infant discipline:
A warm, consistent, responsive, safe, and loving relationship with your child sets the foundation for positive and effective parenting.Soothe crying baby. You can’t spoil an infant.Create a baby safe environment. This nurtures both your and your baby’s experience.
Remove breakable items like the TV controller or glass figurines.Use safety gates and cover electrical outlets.Tape cords to the floor or place behind furniture.
Keep a basket of baby toys and books within reach.Use redirection when a baby’s movements are unsafe. A baby’s attention span is short and can be easily shifted towards something appropriate.
Toddlers
Some parents reserve a quick swat on the butt for the most dangerous of situations, for example, when a toddler runs into the street. Does using the reasoning of hurting the child to make a strong point work?
Spanking or physically hurting a child does get their attention. However, the child’s focus is on their experience of physical sensations. The toddler is incapable of putting the two experiences together —"I ran into street = spanking." The toddler now focuses on the hurt; not the intended lesson.
If spanking is used as a means of instruction, the only way to make this connection is to threaten the child with being hurt as a consequence. "You run into the street, I spank you." The problem with this logic though is now the toddler's attention is on being spanked, not on the street.
In order for spanking to work as a disincentive, the child would have to think ahead to next time: “If I run into the street, then I will get spanked.” This type of if-then logic, however, is cognitively beyond a toddler’s capability.
An alternative strategy is to get down at eye level with your child. With your stern voice and face, say “No street!” Here, the focus stays on the behavior you are trying to prevent. It also allows you to offer a physical clue (a preemptive stern face warning) as a reminder the next time. I also find adding the American Sign Language gesture for "no" or "stop" to be a useful addition.
Three-year-olds
For three-year-olds, spanking isn’t just a consequence: it’s the ultimate power differential (“Do what I say, or I will spank.”) At the moment when we are angry or scared, the act of spanking may feel satisfying and even appropriate. But does it match your long-range goals for your child?
Three-year-old parenting is a lot like parenting a teen. Much like teenagers, three-year-olds do things that they know are wrong for many reasons.
They want to know the limits. "Can I color on the wall?" "What about on my shoe?" Children are learning and relearning boundaries for appropriate behaviors.Three-year-olds and teens are interested in knowing if there is always the same consequence. Are rules consistent each time? Do mom and grandma have the same standard?Threes and teens are learning about emotional regulation. What happens when I get upset? Do I get what I want?
Discipline and positive parenting are about setting a firm foundation for future self-regulation—not just a dramatic reaction. Clear communication, defined limits and consistent responses are the building blocks for raising healthy, productive kids. When you look at it this way, spanking just isn’t very useful; and, it is harmful.
If you were spanked as a child, it might take extra effort to overcome hurtful and negative patterns of parenting. While it doesn’t require getting a Ph.D., parent coaching and personal development are helpful ways to overcome generational histories of spanking, yelling, and belittling. Become aware of your experiences. There are ways to surface boiling anger, deep regret, or unwholesome shame with kindness and attention. Despite our parents’ best intention, trauma lives in our neuro-biology and can kick into action when we least expect it.
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Dr. Terrie Rose by Dr. Terrie Rose - 9M ago
My favorite reading group happens at our local library. A group of more than 20 parents, grandparents, babysitters, aunts, and uncles accompany about 20 babies and toddlers. Many babies bring two caring adults. A few adults coax two or three children into the room.
When you walk into the room, there is a circle outlined by pyramids of three identical books. Babies, toddlers, and adults find their spots. Familiar faces greet each other as we wait for the librarian, Jane, to enter.
The first activity is to sing a hello song to every baby in the circle. Not to the group, but to each child by name. It often takes 10 minutes to complete. The community is established, as each child in the circle is welcomed. Everyone belongs to the group.
The order is simple: song, book, song, book, song, book, song, and play. When it’s time to read a book, each adult reads the book to his child. The group sings a song together, and the adult reads the second book. Repeat. After a final song, a bin of infant and toddler toys appear.
What this group gets right is that a love for reading and learning grows out of love felt from caring adults. Think of reading as a tool for building your secure relationship with the child. The positive feelings are transferred to the child with warmth, curiosity, and attention to reading. A love for learning blossoms and the child experiences what it means to be a learner.
Reading with infants, toddlers and preschoolers is sort of like playing the piano. If you were just learning to play the piano, you would start with a few keys before moving on to chords, site reading, composing, etc. The same is true for building reading skills. Here are a few skill-building tips by age group:
Young Babies
With very young babies, we can engage in the full experience. We read as maestros, allowing the babies to hear the fullness of the written word.With young babies, read books or articles aloud that interest you. In an early childhood setting, pick longer storybooks. Reading a story aloud has the added advantage of the other children in the room hearing the story as they play or eat.It is okay if the baby or toddler doesn’t understand the meaning of all of the words. The sounds you make while reading are directly reaching the neurons in the language center in the child's brain.
Older Babies
As babies become more engaged in their learning, reading simplifies.Board books offer simple language in short bursts of engagement.To make it easy, place a basket of books next to the rocker, next to the high chair, and in the play area. Any time you are wondering what to do, grab a book and read.
Toddlers
Reading sessions are often quick, lasting as long as the child's attention.Expect a lot of variation in engagement with books from day-to-day as well as morning to afternoon. Sometimes a toddler will want to read a couple of books, other times she won't make it through the first few pages.Be flexible. Toddlers lose and gain interest quickly. It is okay not to finish a book; she can always come back and finish reading later.
When the child picks up the book look at the orientation. Watch to see if he notices the book is upside down. Wait to see if he corrects it. If not, say, "Let's try it this way." If the child protests, let the toddler read the book upside down; remember we are introducing concepts that have a lot of time to take hold.Active engagement: Choosing books, turning pages, deciding on a new book, and even stacking books count as engagement.
Three-Year-Olds
Enjoyment! Reading is always fun.Point out the front cover of the book. Ask the child what she thinks the book is about or to retell a part of a familiar story.Encourage the child to notice pictures or words on each page.Reading can happen with or without a book. Repeat favorite storylines. Freestyle by making up stories or creating storylines together.
Reading books is a great way to boost the quality of language and the number of words and expressions young children hear. Studies show that children who hear more than 1000- 2000 words per hour are also at an advantage, being more likely to have a higher IQ, be early talkers, and perform better in school.
Skill building tips for caregivers
Use books that include descriptive language and new vocabulary words or books written in a second language.Don’t feel silly talking to a baby, toddler, or three-year-old— describe and read everything in books, at the grocery store, or while following a recipe! You’re helping build the child’s love of reading and learning!
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Nurturing a Growth Mindset for Young Children
At the Minnesota Children's Museum last week, I noticed a sign hanging at adult eye level. It read: “Give kids a chance to figure things out on their own — that’s how they learn!” Shorthand for, "adults, sit on your hands!"
The air powered ball launchers in the Forces of Play area begged for engagement. The exhibit included easy and difficult challenges for each age group. My husband and I watched as our granddaughter worked to loop a string over a handle. She rolled balls down clear tubes and then collected balls in a bucket. She quickly lost interest in concepts beyond her grasp - like the ball launcher. Her grandfather and I resisted our temptations to engage her is something we wanted to try!
Deb Lund, Executive Director of Baby's Space, has a solution for improving parents' and grandparents' interfering urges - adult-only field trips. Museum sponsored evening events give adults the run of the play areas with no children allowed. Arranging the bus and boxed-dinners, Deb makes it easy for parents to play. We are better at supporting our children when we nurture our curiosities and have fun learning.
For young children, it doesn't take the resources of a museum to create learning activities.
Three-year-old Olivia wants a toy that is just out of her reach. Standing on her tiptoes and stretching her arms towards the toy is unsuccessful. She looks around, not noticing that you are watching. She sees a chair and moves it towards the shelf. She discovers that the chair is too high for her to climb successfully.
What do you do?
Getting the toy for Olivia is the quickest, and perhaps the safest way to solve this problem. But quick and easy solutions can interfere with the opportunity for discovery. By facing everyday dilemmas, young children learn how to gather information, break down problems, set goals, and organize knowledge.
Looking around the room, Olivia spots a stool. With a lot of effort, she places it next to the chair but she discovers that when she gets on the stool, the back of the chair is in her way. Olivia calls for help.
An encouraging voice says, “You can figure it out!”
After a moment of contemplation, a triumphant Olivia ascends to grab the toy.
Throughout the day, infants, toddlers, and three-year-olds will try problem-solving strategies, many of which will be unsuccessful. Children will try to put their bodies in spaces that are too small. They will watch as the yogurt containers fall to the floor. Towers built without sturdy foundations will topple over. Stuffed animals will become too abundant to carry. Their left foot won’t fit in their right shoe.
These attempts are not errors; they are learning moments!
The brains of toddlers are twice as busy as the brains of adults. Young children are continually trying out, “what will happen when…?”
So, how do we allow toddlers to make discoveries and find solutions, while not having floors covered with yogurt?
Create child-friendly environments in which there are few “off-limits” items or areas. Narrate your child’s actions. “You are trying to reach the truck.” This way your child knows you are paying attention to her learning.Pause to watch how your child attempts to solve a problem before offering suggestions or help.Delight in repetitive play. While it may be annoying or boring for adults, it is the way toddlers learn!Even when you both know the outcome, with excitement wonder, “What’s going to happen next?”
Remember a growth mindset includes complementing the process and using the word, "yet." Check out my article on Growth Mindset.

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