Bits of Brilliance

Babies are fascinating

I am fortunate that when I go into a classroom, I have the time to connect with each child in the room and not feel rushed.  I am not hurrying to perform a task or need to be somewhere else in a few minutes. I go into the classroom to see how the program is doing, what opportunities for improvement we have and get to know the teachers. Recently I was spending some time with the babies.  The range was 6 months to 12 months.  Some of them were unsure of me because they are developing stranger anxiety.  Some thought I was funny because I am loud and sing silly songs or play with toys differently than their teachers. Did you know that babies brains grow very rapidly.  Their brain doubles in their first year of life.  When I am going through orientation with a new staff I have them stop for a second and think about what happens to a baby in the first year.  They were born without the ability to even hold their head up with their necks so immature.  Approaching their first birthday, most of them are close to/if not already walking.  What an incredible first year. A healthy baby will emerge from the womb with 100 billion neurons, nearly twice as many neurons as adults, in a brain that’s half the size. Did you know that they can hear and smell as good as adults can? They are taking in their environment at fascinating rates. Babies as young as 7 months can mirror other's behavior, they also can sense when someone is angry as young as 12 months old. The final part of spending time with the babies, after I got in all my cuddles in, was watching the language instruction. It was as fascinating as it was years ago when I was doing it.  All babies are capable of learning any languages at birth and those that are exposed to two ore more are found to have better executive function later in life and control their attention.  Babies (and children under the age of five) do not have the reasoning that adults have to confuse the different languages.  ...

Positive Self Talk

"I am smart."  "I can do it."  "I am special." When a child does something they should not have, such as they spill the milk all over the back of your car.  How many times did you tell them to be careful?  Your frustration mounts and you tell them something that later you wish you didn't say.  Your face showed your disappointment and you raised your voice.  This happens to every parent, every child and to some everyday.  Parenting is hard but remembering that YOU are the parent and YOU are responsible for guiding them through life.  How you choose your words and how you choose your actions will shape them. Remember they are little.  Yes, in your mind, you may think they should know better.  How many times did you make a mistake when you "knew better."  Think of mistakes as opportunities for growth.  Opportunities to not only remind them that they are loved but also remind them what they could do differently next time. Explain why we have to be careful and why we need to follow the rules. What you say/how you react, you can't take back. Teach them positive self talk.  I can think of my daughter coming home and telling me she is "stupid."  I was surprised by this declaration.  Where did she learn that?  Who told her that?  So many questions were running through my head and so quickly I responded with "you are not stupid, you are smart."  I took a second to find out where she learned that.  She did not do as well on her test and therefore decided she was stupid.  We turned that "I am stupid" to "I can study harder and do better next time." Deliver messages without criticism.  "You always make me late because you are too slow." Such declarations can be hurtful to children who don't have the ability to understand, "Mommy is tired today" or " Daddy has an important meeting this morning and is impatient."  Take a minute and explain why it is important to get out of the house in the morning and your child/children will listen to the positive message more than feel down about receiving the criticism. Speak calmly.  Yelling at children just has an automatic negative effect. It isn't helpful and won't give you the desired results long term. Additionally children can learn from your behavior and over time use yelling as their inner voice. Treat them with respect.  Just because children are little and children make mistakes and honestly can make the same mistake 200 times in one day, treat them with respect.  It won't be long before your child starts treating others with respect as well as respecting the rules and hearing your corrections in a positive way, thus making an impact....

Children and Empathy

What is Empathy? Empathy is the ability to understand other's feelings.  The term "put your feet in my shoes" is completely applicable to Empathy. Children aren't born with Empathy, it is learned and one piece of Creating Brilliance is teaching them Empathy.  As early as Toddler years, children can start learning Empathy.  They can start to feel and understand other's emotions. It is a crucial time to start laying the foundation for them to be aware.  What is interesting about teaching them empathy is that they also begin to soothe other's emotions.  They see another friend crying and they go to them to help soothe them. How do we teach empathy? 1. Role Model: Teachers, Parents, Grandparents, Babysitters are all role models for teaching empathy.  How we interact, soothe and listen to others is a great opportunity to teach empathy.  Children watch every move that adults make. Joy is a perfect way to share empathy.  When your child, relative, or co-worker has great news, help share their joy.  How easy to be excited when they are excited?! 2.  "Treat others as you would like to be treated."  The beautiful Golden Rule.  It isn't just how YOU would like to be treated, but also imagining how the other person would like to be treated. 3. Use emotions to describe feelings. "I understand you are frustrated." or "I see you are sad."  Teach children words to explain how they are feeling. 4. Stop criticizing. This is a hard one.  Adults, by nature, are filled with feedback but are not always aware of how that may make a child feel. We absolutely need to guide children and teach them right and wrong but is a balance between guiding them and not criticizing their every move.  Let them make mistakes and teach them the right way. A recent study by Health Psychology found that parents with high empathy, had well adjusted children....

Veteran’s Day and Children

Veteran's Day dates back to the end of World War I (November 11, 1918). Many people confuse Veteran's Day with Memorial Day.  Memorial day is for any service person that lost their life.  Veteran's Day is any service person who previously served. How can we teach children more about this Observed Day of Recognition? 1. Give Thanks: this is my favorite.  Any opportunity for us to teach children to give thanks to anyone is an awesome opportunity.  But to give thanks to our Veteran's for serving our country each year can have a remarkable impact on building the foundation of their appreciation. Just a simple card of "Thank you for your service" is perfect.  They can color, paint, or add collage material on it. 2.  Donate: There are so many opportunities to donate to Veteran organizations.  You can also make it an educational experience by helping them research the right organization that your child feels they should donate to.  Have them do a few chores to earn the money they are donating.  This is empowering. The WoundedWarriorProject.org helps both the Veteran as well as the families of Veterans. DAV.org is also a great organization where children can donate a few of their toys or things around the house and the organization will come pick it up on your doorstep. 3.  Teach them Veteran's aren't necessarily Grandparents or "old people."  Many children have Moms and Dads that are Veterans.  Veterans are anyone who have formally served our Country. Veteran's day is a very abstract concept for young children, but is pretty likely that if you sit down as a family, you may find one or two people in your life that are Veteran's. Maybe they have a good buddy whose mom or dad served in the Military. 4.  Make a patriotic dessert with Red, White and Blue to teach them about our Flag. A fruit pizza is a great example of this. Pat refrigerated sugar cookie dough into an ungreased 14-in. pizza pan. Bake at 350° for 15-18 minutes or until deep golden brown; cool. In a bowl, beat the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Spread over crust. Arrange strawberries and blueberries on top.  Store in refrigerator. 5.  Make a care package for the Troops that are away serving. OperationGratitude.org is one organization that sets up care packages.  However you can also call your post office and ask them for the "military care kit." Make sure you personalize your package.  Children really enjoy making things their own....

Talking to Children about the Election

[video width="640" height="360" mp4="http://www.littlenewtons.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Little-Newtons-Talking-to-Kids-About-the-Election-WFLD-11.3.18-1.mp4"][/video] As usual, we can use the events around us as opportunities to grow our Children.  Talking to Children about Issues that we are facing, or the fact that we study and learn about a candidate and then go to the poll to pick a winner, or that we as citizen's have a voice in what happens to our Country and that voice is heard during the Election.  All are possible ways to talk to Children about the Election and keeping in mind that our Children follow everything we as parents do, so it is important to be positive and keep the message positive....

WCCO: Talking to Toddlers

[video width="640" height="360" mp4="http://www.littlenewtons.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Little-Newtons-Talking-to-Toddlers-WCCO-10.15.18.mp4"][/video] Zero to Five is the most crucial age for development especially with the Language Explosion happening in Toddlerhood.  We, as parents, have a crucial role in building their language skills at this age by talking to them!...