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.
                                                                            
                                                                                                                   


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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.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Changing Roles of Dads – Make It About More Than Time



As we approached this Father's Day, I noticed a number of articles and television segments about the changing role that men are playing in their families.  People have noted that many fathers are spending more time sharing activities that used to be considered a woman’s role.  They are sharing household chores, shopping duties and spending more time with their children. 

As more and more women entered the workforce, it was bound to happen.  I know that personally, I could not have the busy career (actually more than one career) that I have if my husband didn’t see our marriage as a 50/50 partnership.  We do what the recent articles have said.   The obligations to our home and family are not based on gender.  They are based on time.  Whoever is available does it.  The role of men in family life should, however, be about more than just how chores, carpools and grocery purchases are accomplished.  It needs to be about being an example of walking through all of life – the good and the bad - with integrity and dignity.  Now that dads seem to be with their children for more hours, they need to consider how they model being human with all the flaws and emotions that come with it.
 
My favorite picture with my Dad..
I grew up in a very traditional family.  My father worked and my mother did not.  Dinner was always timed so that we would eat together upon my father’s return from work in the evening.  We talked about our day during dinner.  We watched TV together in the evening.  We looked forward to fun family vacations.  I saw my father laugh a lot.  I rarely saw him cry.  I think the first time I saw him cry was as an adult and it was jarring.  I know that, like all of us, my parents sometimes struggled.  My dad was always strong and he always smiled through it.  I don’t know how he felt in times of stress.  I don’t know what he told himself or how he coped.  He was a typical father of his generation.  He spent more time with us than in the generation before.  He was interested in our lives in a way that previous generations of dads were not.  He still was a part of the “men don’t cry” mentality.

As I sift through the articles about men today, I hope they realize that they can cry. They can be sad, worried and frustrated.  They can make mistakes and say they are sorry.  They can show their children how to deal with both happy and sad times by showing coping skills rather than a brave front.  They are finally free to be themselves – flaws and all.  Fathers today have the good fortune of being able to connect with their children on a whole new level.  They can model acceptance, tolerance, humanness, patience, gratitude, sadness, joy and grief.   They can be the person their children go to when they need emotional support.  What a wonderful era to be a father!

                                                                         



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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.

                                                                                                                   

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Sexualizing of Preschool Friendships



Justin and Sarah play together all the time.  They both like building with blocks, doing puzzles and playing in the classroom’s pretend kitchen.  They are both of the same calm temperament and gravitate toward each other in the busy classroom. They are friends. 

Preschool friendships are so innocent and sweet.  When preschoolers find someone with whom they feel comfortable, they tend to gravitate toward that person every day.  Gender, though often noticed by preschoolers, doesn’t matter when it comes to everyday interactions.  They will happily play with anyone who enjoys the same activities and causes little or no stress.  They do not care if their favorite companion is of the same gender.  Because they hear the terms in their world on television and in their families, they will sometimes say that “he is my boyfriend” or “she is my girlfriend.”  It does not have the same meaning as adults apply to those words.  In the classroom, when they identify their friendship in those terms, we simply smile and say that it is nice to have friends.  Far too often, however, we see well-meaning adults place emphasis on a relationship that doesn’t really exist.

It was time to go home and Sarah’s mother arrived with her grandmother.  “Look,” she said pointing to Justin and Sarah as they played, “that’s her boyfriend.”  The word “boyfriend” was said coyly and with a wink of the eye.

What message are we sending to young children when we talk about their friends as “boyfriends” or “girlfriends”?  Children innately want to please.  They seek attention and approval.  We send a message of expectation. We want our children to be popular and we place value on them having relationships with the opposite sex.  Though they cannot understand that sort of relationship yet, they do understand that spending time with the opposite sex will receive our attention and that we encourage it.  Is it any wonder that children who received this message at a very young age feel “less than” when they aren’t among the first to actually have a partner as a preteen or teen?  Is it any wonder that children who may find themselves attracted to the same sex are afraid to tell their parents?

Mrs. Smith’s preschool class walked down the hallway.  Justin and Sarah were holding hands as usual.  Justin’s mother remarked to Mrs. Smith, “Those two are always together” and Mrs. Smith replied, “Oh yes – that’s your son’s girlfriend.”  The adults looked at each other knowingly and laughed.

Children need to feel accepted in their own right.  They need to know that they only need to be the best version of themselves.  Of course, we want them to have friends and socialize.  We need to be careful not to place special emphasis on opposite gender friendships.  When our young children imitate that which they see on TV or in their home lives by saying “he’s my boyfriend” or “she’s my girlfriend,” our reaction needs to be the same as with any other friendship.  We need to be neutral.  “I’m glad you have made friends…”  That is all.

                                                                         
                                                                                                                   


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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.