Communication through the years

Communication through the years

Children’s communication styles can vary significantly based on their age, developmental level, personality, and individual experiences. Children do communication with you using more than just words or sounds.

Some general characteristics of children’s communication styles at different ages are as follows:

Infants (birth to 2 years): At this age, children communicate primarily through nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, gestures, and sounds. They may coo, gurgle, or cry to express their needs and feelings.

Toddlers (2 to 3 years): As toddlers begin to develop language skills, they may use simple words and phrases to communicate. They may also use gestures and facial expressions to convey their thoughts and emotions. Toddlers may have difficulty expressing themselves and may become frustrated when they cannot communicate their needs effectively. It is common for this frustration to come out in the form of a tantrum or meltdown.

Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): Preschoolers are starting to use more complex language and may be able to carry on simple conversations. They may also use more sophisticated gestures and facial expressions to communicate their thoughts and feelings. Preschoolers may still have difficulty expressing themselves at times and may use tantrums or other negative behaviors to communicate their frustration.

School-age children (6 to 12 years): As children enter school, they continue to develop their language skills and are able to communicate more effectively. They may be able to express their thoughts and feelings more clearly and may be more adept at using language to persuade or negotiate with others. School-age children may also begin to use more sophisticated nonverbal communication, such as eye contact and body posture, to convey their thoughts and feelings.

It’s important to keep in mind that every child is unique and will develop at their own pace. Some children may develop communication skills faster or slower than others, and it’s important to be patient and supportive as children learn to communicate effectively.

If you have concerns about your child’s communication the first step is to speak with your child’s doctor. If your concerns continue then speak with someone that specializes in child development to see what your next steps could be. Feel free to book a free 15-minute consultation with me, Brenda from Parenting Foundations, to talk about your next steps.

What do you need today??

What do you need today??

Parenting is not an easy gig. There are going to be many days where you feel like you are a rockstar parent and other days where you feel depleted and/or defeated as a parent.

In order for you to be the parent you want to be, it is important that you are able to focus on yourself first. (You can stop laughing now or prevent the eye roll from happening)

It really is true. How can you be the parent you want to be if you are not focusing on the things that you need or want?? It is simply not possible. You will become exhausted and will not know where to turn. 

Yes, I am speaking from experience. 

After returning from an amazing weekend a few weeks ago, I expected that I would be completely excited to be back and want to jump into doing it all. That is the complete opposite of what really happened. 

After retreating for a few minutes, I was able to realize I needed to sit back and take it all in. 

My family thought something was wrong or that I did not want to be there. 

The fact that I did not want to be there was not totally wrong. I did want to be there but I also longed to be able to do things on my schedule and not the schedule dictated by everyone else or the needs of the home. 

I allowed myself to have my feelings and then I gave myself the time to process them. At first, I felt very guilty about my feelings. When I was able to relax and become more at peace with the overwhelmed feeling I was able to be the parent I wanted to be. 

So what do you need??…

Do you need to take 5 minutes to regroup? (This was all I needed)

Do you need to plow through and get stuff done without interruption?

Do you need to tap out with a partner, family member, or friend so you can regroup? (You do not have to do it all!!) 

Do you need to fully engage with your child? Sometimes we need to let the house get dirty or serve a quick and easy (processed) meal so you can play and have fun with your child.

Do you just need a hug? Don’t forget to ask for one! You are worth it! 

 

In summary, take the time you need so you can be the caregiver you want to be!!

Readiness: Is your child ready?

Readiness: Is your child ready?

Readiness. This is an important topic that can often get overlooked.

I have talked to a number of parents that are concerned about their child’s development after their child has spent some time with some same-aged peers. Our children are constantly growing and learning new skills. The main thing to keep in mind is that not all children are going to learn the skills at the same time.

This can also be said about things like sleeping, eating, and toileting. If I was to line up 10 6 months olds, they may all have different sleep needs. In order for each child to get their desired amount of sleep, we have to consider their needs and follow their lead. We can start by following age-appropriate guidelines but then it is important to follow our child’s lead.

So then how do you know that your child is ready for a new skill, to drop a nap, or to meet a milestone? Often it is a gut instinct but there are a few factors that can be great indicators. These factors are:

 
1. Age

Your child’s age will be a guide as to the different things that they can accomplish. You do have to keep in mind that age is a guide and not all children will be able to do the same things at the same age.

Your child’s biological needs will change with age; therefore, your child may naturally do things differently. For example, as your child ages, their sleep needs change and reduce on a regular basis (just ask any parent trying to figure out a good nap schedule for their child).

 
2. Interest/Desire

Your child will begin to observe the environment around them at a very young age. They will try to grab things, explore things or want to do things that you do. This will inspire them to learn new things or they will accidentally do something that they like to do so they will keep doing it. A great example of this is when our little one’s rollover. They are now interested and have the desire to do this new skill. They will keep trying until they are successful.

 
3. Encourage/Support

There will be some children that will avoid new things unless they feel supported or encouraged. You can help your little one get ready to accomplish a new skill by encouraging and supporting them. Bring out the pompoms and cheer!!!

How can you help your toddler and preschool-aged children become interested in new things? You immerse them in it. Read a number of stories. Watch shows/videos. Talk a great deal about the skill. Make it really fun!! This will inspire a number of children to do things like using the potty, riding a tricycle or running bike, or move to a big bed.

Everything in small steps. Then using positive reinforcing words or gestures can help. In cases where a child is really apprehensive to try a new thing using a reward can help your child get started. As the skill is achieved you can wean the reward.

Here is a great quote by Srividya Srinivasan that sums this up…”Sometimes, we don’t know we are ready until someone tells us we are”

 

Now please have fun watching all these new skills develop.

If you are concerned that your child is not meeting milestones and you are not sure what to do feel free to book a free 15 minute consultation with me. I will lead you in the right direction and either let you know how I can help or guide you to the appropriate professional for your concern.

 

Back to School: Safe Place to Land

Back to School: Safe Place to Land

Back-to-school season is upon us. Some children are already back to school and some are preparing for this adventure to begin! This can be a huge adjustment for our precious little ones. Often our little, and not-so-little, ones do not have the words to express their worries, questions, fears or excitement. This is where the safe place to let things out comes in.

 
How can you help if they do not tell you what they need?

Let’s put this in perspective. You have just started a new job. Imagine all the emotions you go through. It is hard for you to pinpoint what exactly is causing you angst but you can at least state “I am nervous”. Then you start to verbally unload on a friend or family member. After that conversation, you feel so much better.

Children are famous for acting out their feelings as opposed to talking. The first weeks back to school, I would recommend that you are prepared for many different emotional outbursts to happen. Know that these emotional responses are your child’s way of dealing with the changes. They have absolutely nothing to do with you!

Your child may seem absolutely fine when they get home, then all of a sudden they are freaking out because their sibling touched them him or the couch is not comfortable or ……(you get the point). Just know that this is to be expected. Being the safe place for your child to unload emotionally will benefit them in the long run.

 
Does this mean that you can’t explain that the outbursts are not acceptable??

No. It means that you can help your child learn that they are reacting to things instead of dealing with their emotions from the day. It is the whole concept of being “proactive instead of reactive”.

One of the most helpful things that I have found is to ask the question “I am wondering if…”. I will often state “I am wondering if you are tired or hungry”. Also, labeling what you see is important. “Man I am noticing that when you get home from school you get angry”.

 
How can you help your child cope with all this emotion?
  1. If your child is one that loves hugs, meet them with open arms!
  2. Have a snack prepared so your child does not get “hangry”.
  3. Plan a low-key evening for the first few weeks.
  4. Put your phone or other electronics away and give your child your attention.
  5. Engage in some fun play or roughhousing. Laughter can be just as therapeutic as crying.
  6. Let your child guide his play with you for about 10 to 15 minutes. Child Directed play rocks!

 

I encourage you to be your child’s safe place to land at the end of the day! Slowly over time, you will see a major reduction in your child’s emotional reactions. This will be your cue that your child is beginning to adjust to the new grade. If the behaviour does not change then I would recommend reaching out for additional supports.

When “I will be back” is not good enough

When “I will be back” is not good enough

 

Does this sound familiar…

You are super excited to go out. Your little one starts to scream when you are getting ready. You begin to doubt yourself. You start to think it would be so much easier to just stay home.

Or what about this…

Your child is enrolled in a program or class that it just for them. Your child was pretty excited about it. The day comes when the program happens. Your little one is refusing to get ready, crying as you are going out the door or starts to cry when you get there.

 

It can be so hard as a parent when your child is struggling with separating from you. I understand this completely!! Our young man has gone through struggles with separating from us, especially me. I honestly have shed many tears over this.

The fact is, it is very normal for children to experience separation anxiety.  

There are a few steps that will help your child with transitions and separation. The steps are as follows:

1. Allow your child to be upset.

We will often try to stop our child from being upset. If they are expressing their emotions we will ask them to stop crying. My belief is that the emotion is better out than in. Once your child is able to express their feelings it gives you an opportunity to figure out what is driving their behaviour.

2. Transitional Object

Giving your child a comfort object to keep with them. If your child already has a lovey this may work. I find that the best object is something of mine that my son really thinks I need. I used to give him my key ring and a business card. The key ring is something I always use. Whenever I came home or picked him up he would give it back to me.

Another really good item to use as a transitional object, especially for bedtime, is a piece of your clothing that has your scent on it. Our little man will go into my closet when I am not home at bedtime and help himself to a shirt of mine he wants to sleep with. He has even ended up with my pyjama bottoms on more than one occasion.

3. Keeping your emotions in check

This can be easier said than done. When your little one is struggling with the separation it can be heart-wrenching. It is not the end of the world if your child sees you cry; however, it is important for your child to see you express your emotion while you move forward with the plan.

4. Practice

This means that you keep going out or you continue to bring your child to the program. Over time the separation anxiety will reduce. If there are still issues than I would look at the program to make sure it is a good fit for your child. I would do this after 8 weeks. All behaviour can take up to 8 weeks to see a complete change.

5. Be Present

When you return to pick your child up or when you see your child after you return from your outing, make sure you pay attention to your child. Spend lots of time connecting and playing with your child.

 

As with all things parenting there is no one solution that is right for all children; however, these tips should help get you on your way. If you would like to have solutions that are suited for your particular situation, please book a free 15 minute consultation by clicking on this link.

If the separation anxiety is something that has been going on for a long time you may want to inform your child’s doctor and/or speak with a child psychologist. 

 

Bye for now,

Brenda

 

 

Ideal bedtime for a family of 4??

Ideal bedtime for a family of 4??

parenting foundations

Question from a parent in my free Facebook Group (Respectful Parenting):

 

Searching for tips for tweaking the sleep schedule for 4 kids

Is it as simple as just putting them to bed earlier and waking them up earlier?

Some background: my kids are 2, 4, 6, and 8 years old. Up until they started school, we loved the fact that they weren’t really “early risers,” typically always sleeping in until around 7:30 am. However, this makes getting up for school pretty difficult. They’re often hard to rouse around 7 am.

Bedtime is typically between 8:30 and 9 during the school year (varies by child), but often the two oldest aren’t asleep before 9:30 or 10 some nights. My 6-year old is especially tough to get to sleep. She also has been diagnosed with anxiety disorder and has a lot of anxiety around school, so mornings can be very tough, especially if she hasn’t gotten enough sleep.

School starts at the end of August, but I think it might be time to get the ball rolling on developing a more school-year-compatible sleep schedule for all of them. We’ve gotten very lax over the summer with verrry late bedtimes so we have a lot of work to do!

Any tips? Routine suggestions? Desired wake time is 7 am (maybe a little earlier, like 6:45). What should bedtime be for those ages (8, 6, 4, 2)? 2 year old still naps, he goes down around 1:30 pm due to school schedules and wakes between 3 and 4.

 

This is the perfect time of year to start creating your family sleep plan to have good sleep each night before school.

Does this mean that the plan is going to work each and every night?? It would work in an ideal world; however, in our real world, there will be some great days and some not-so-great days. Every day is a new day!

So how can this family get started??

The first step is done! 

The first step is to figure out the ideal time to be awake in the morning to get out the door with minimal fuss. 6:45 to 7 am start is best for this family. So I would pick the 7 am start. If 7 am proves to not be enough time once school starts then I would back up morning awake time to 6:45 am.

Step 2 is to figure out how much overnight sleep each child needs.

There are recommendations based on age that does help with giving you a bit of a guide. I will state that not all children fall neatly into the recommendations so you have to find what works best for your child. 

What are the recommendations??

According to a study done by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in 2016, the following are the recommendations for the amount of total sleep needed in a 24 hour period by age.

4 to 12 Months: 12 to 15 hours*

1 to 3 Years: 11 to 14 hours*

3 to 5 Years: 10 to 13 hours

5 to 12 Years: 9 to 12 hours

12 to 18 Years: 8 to 10 hours

*Includes naps so you subtract nap hours from the total sleep to get the amount of overnight sleep needed.

 

For this family I would be recommending the following:

2 year old: 2 hour nap with 10 to 10.5 overnight.

4 year old: 12 overnight

6 year old: 10.5 to 11 overnight

8 year old: 10 overnight

*Each recommendation may have to change slightly for each child. These are rough guesses based on the information in the information above.

Step 3 is to plan bedtime based on the hours needed and desired wake time.

2-year-old: 9:00pm Bedtime* if the nap is done by 3. Bedtime works best if it is 6 hours after a nap. If you want early bedtime you will need to reduce nap by 30 minutes which will allow bedtime to be 30 minutes earlier.

4-year-old: 7:00 pm Bedtime* if no nap

6-year-old: 8:00 pm Bedtime*

8-year-old: 9:00 pm Bedtime*

*This is when lights are out and the child is sleeping.

 Step 4 is to plan your evening so the bedtime (lights out and sleeping) is happening when needed. The ideal bedtime routine takes about 20 minutes to 60 minutes depending on your child.

As your child ages, their independence with bedtime increases. With increased independence comes the need for a bit more time for tasks to be completed. 

The older children may benefit from some independent reading before lights out. This is a great way for littles to wind down for sleep without using a screen. There should be no screens for at least 1 hour before bed but 2 hours is best. 

 

The above is a great plan but with all great plans comes the need to make changes for each family. If you are struggling with your nighttime routine feel free to book a free 15-minute call where we can chat about the ideal bedtime for your child.

If you want more help, you can book a mini consultation or join Parenting Foundations Membership where I answer questions as they come up.