Saturday, July 19, 2014

Your Introverted Child Is Happy Too



We want our children to be happy and to many adults, happiness looks like a child who runs into a room and is in the middle of the largest group of children playing.  We want our children to feel accepted and loved in the world.  We don’t want them to be lonely and sad.  When a child walks into a crowded room and stands back, parents tend to worry.  The child who stands back, observes, interacts sometimes but not others is not necessarily unhappy.  In fact, if we push that child to interact, we may be fostering discomfort rather than enjoyment.
                    
Too often, adults confuse introversion with shyness, fear and loneliness.  An introverted person is someone who is gets energy from being alone.  An introvert finds socialization tiring.  The introvert processes information when alone.  They are, by nature, very different that the extrovert who gains energy from socializing and needs to talk to others to process.  The introvert will be more fearful and more unhappy, in fact, when not given the space and time to process input apart from others.
                                          
Children build self-esteem by taking pride in themselves and who they are.  Adults tip the balance of their feelings of security when they misread what will make their children feel safe and secure.  We forget that our own viewpoint of the world is often tainted by years of experiences, both good and bad.  We remember being the middle school age student who wanted to be in the popular group.  We remember how it feels to lose friends.  We don’t want that for our children.  We forget that our 2, 3 & 4 year olds are new at socialization, don’t have these experiences and need to find their own comfort zones.  The more we push our children to be extroverts when that is not their nature, the more we make them think that their more introspective nature is wrong.  It is not wrong.  It is simply who they are – it is their comfort zone.

We also live in a time when much attention is being paid to symptoms of the spectrum of autism.  Not every child has a diagnosable issue.  Not every child is naturally the life of the party either.  It doesn’t mean that the child has a spectrum disorder.  There needs to be more than one symptom to qualify as a developmental issue.

When you see your child sit back from the crowd, worry less and watch more.  Watch to see what your child is processing.  Is your child deciding his/her comfort level with what the children are playing?  If your child seems to want to join the crowd, ask instead of push.  Ask “Do you want to play with them?” and if the response is no, then so be it.  Your young children will accept your help with socialization if they really want to be in the crowd.  Give your introverted children the gift of knowing that it is okay to be who they are, to observe, process, decide and find a way to make friends that feels most authentic to them.


                                                                         
                                                                                                                   



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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators on my website - Helping Kids Achieve
                                                      
Copyright 2014 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved


Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

When Louder and Closer Isn’t Better



I have worked with young children for a long time and have always been fascinated by their reactions to adult behavior.  Children seem to have an instinct about who they can trust and who they cannot.  Adults often remark to each other that even very young children just seem to know which adults are good with children.  A level of comfort, security and trust doesn’t just happen. As with any of us, first impressions matter.  I am convinced that it’s all in the approach.

Louder and closer is not better.  Have you ever been at a party and been backed into a corner by a close talker?  Have you ever wanted to tell the loud talker that there is no reason to yell?  Adults are so uncomfortable in these situations because the non-verbal communication clues are all wrong.  A person who has mastered non-verbal communication knows that everyone has a personal space that shouldn’t be invaded.  That person also knows that people are offended and intimidated by voices that are too loud.  If adults are uncomfortable with a loud or close talker, why do we think children would be drawn to it?

Stand back.  Speak softly.  Smile and look approachable but let young children come to you.  You may notice that early childhood classrooms rarely have adult size chairs.  The adults sit in the small chairs to bring us to the child’s eye level.  When we stand upright or sit on adult chairs, we look huge to them.  We are less intimidating when we squat down to their size – squat, sit but not bend over at the waist.  Adults who work with very young children know that we need to make ourselves more compact in order to encourage the children to feel comfortable.  We also need to respect their personal space and sensitivity to loud noise.

When a young child approaches you, stop talking.  Smile.  Put your hand out to see if he/she will hand their toy to you and then silently hand it back.  Say hello and use the child’s name.  Smile and wait.  If the child backs away, stay where you are and remember that it is about the child’s comfort and not about your ego.   Encouraging children to feel comfortable is not a competition.  And if it were, slow and steady would win the race.


                                                                         
                                                                                                                   

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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators on my website - Helping Kids Achieve
                                                      
Copyright 2014 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved


Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.






        

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Take Learning Outside in the Summer


 Children learning about shadows.

Put down the paper!  Workbooks aren’t the best way for young children to learn in any weather and now it’s summer!  There is no reason to keep learning inside.  Children learn best when they play and they are so often soothed by being in nature.  Take advantage of all that the sunshine, warmth, family time and playtime have to offer:

  • At the beach?  Watch what your children are doing to see what they are curious about and how you can encourage them to explore.  Is your child digging and digging?  Ask open ended questions like “What are you doing” or “What are you looking for?”   Listen carefully to the response but don’t give answers.  Let your children express curiosity and investigate for answers.  If you would like to reinforce alphabet lessons, casually start to draw letters in the sand.  If your children are intrigued, they will join in by trying to draw letters in the sand or asking you to write something.  If your children show no interest, don’t be concerned and don’t push them.  They don’t have to do what you want when you want them to do it.  They may have other nature puzzles to solve at that moment.
  • In the car?  Before car DVD players and individual earbuds, we used to play games on road trips.  We learned a lot.  We counted colors of different cars.  We looked for different license plates.  We talked about what we saw out the car windows.  You don’t need to just remember those road trips fondly.  You can have them now.  Turn off the DVD, unplug the earbuds and play travel games.  They are fun and support learning.
  • In your yard?  Take advantage of the time in familiar territory to teach children the value of nature.  You can learn so much from sitting in the grass.  There are bugs to watch, leaves to see, clouds to track and sounds to hear.  Even more importantly, we can teach children something that will be of value for the rest of their lives – the importance of being still.  Use your yard to show children how to be in the present.  Our senses connect us to the here and now.  Tell your children to close their eyes and ask them to tell you what they hear, feel and smell.  Do it with them to see how soothing it is to have our senses bring us to this moment.
  • Is it raining?  Go out in it.  That’s right.  Get wet.  Feel the mud.  Jump in a puddle.  It is disheartening to see how many young children are afraid of getting wet in the rain or are afraid to do something messy.  It’s been a good day if your preschooler is a mess.  It means that there was exploration which means that there was learning.

Learning doesn’t stop because it is summer and learning doesn’t really take place in workbooks.  Deeper learning comes from experiences.  Take time to think about what experiences you can offer your children in the next few months and let them guide the details based on their curiosity.
                                                                         
                                                                                                                   


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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators on my website - Helping Kids Achieve
                                                      
Copyright 2014 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Tips for a Relaxing Summer with Your Preschooler



Preschool is out for summer!  Every June brings mixed emotions from parents of preschoolers.  Over the course of my career, I have seen parents excited for the weeks ahead with less “get up and go” obligations.  I have listened to parents bemoan the loss of a steady schedule.  Every year, at least one parent asks, “Do you have to take a break?  Now I have to figure out what to do every day.”   Mostly, parents look a bit lost as they refigure their daily schedules to include the kids or scramble to fit in all the summer fun even though they work.   Make the most of the weeks ahead by keeping your expectations realistic:


  • Just because it’s summer, doesn’t mean your child will have mastered grocery store behavior.  If you struggled in the grocery store with your young children in April, you will also very likely struggle in July.  It is not a realistic expectation that most children under the age of 5 will be able to wait in the little cart seat while you do an hour of shopping.  If you shopped while the kids were at preschool, shift your time to evening or when you have someone to watch them.
  • Warm weather did not bring a longer attention span for days at the beach.  Expect to be up and down and all around when you go to beaches, lakes or other crowded summer destinations.  Before I had children, I could sit for hours and read.  When my children were young, I was happy to get through 2 pages at a time.  Know that lazy beach days won’t be so lazy for you until the kids get older.  Accepting their realistic attention spans will make your days less frustrating.
  • Have a list ready of indoor activities for rainy days.  We have all had the experience of seeing an ad or hearing about a place and thinking it would be nice on a rainy day but when the rain comes, we can’t remember the name of the place.  As you pass places or see ads, jot it down! 
  • If you feel cranky from extreme heat, your children probably feel the same.   When it is 100 degrees and the kids start whining, it is time to simply go home.  The line for just one more ride in the amusement park won’t be worth it.  Be grateful we live in the era of all things air conditioned, go home and read a book together.
  • Separation anxiety isn’t restricted to the school year.  If your young child is going to a camp or activity with all new people, don’t be surprised if he/she is anxious.  Feeling confident in their usual school setting may not translate to feeling confident in every new setting.  Change is scary and rooms full of strangers are scary even for adults.  You may know that fun is ahead but your young child doesn’t.  Send the message that your child will be fine by saying goodbye and leaving just like you did (or should have done) on the first day of preschool.  Need more tips for dealing with separation anxiety?  See the link at the end of this article.

Summers with your children are limited.  All too soon, they will be out with friends and choosing to spend less time with you.  Do all you can to enjoy this time and reduce the stress by having age appropriate expectations.
                                                                            
                                                                                                                   


______________________________________________________________________________

Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators on my website - Helping Kids Achieve
                                                      
Copyright 2014 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.