There is a secret hidden in plain sight for all parents of young children: the most important—and astoundingly simple—thing you can do for your children’s future success in life is to talk to them. The way you talk with your growing child literally builds his or her brain. Parent talk can drastically improve school readiness and lifelong learning in everything from math to art. Indeed, parent–child talk is a fundamental, critical factor in building grit, self-control, leadership skills, and generosity.
Dr. Dana Suskind, surgeon, pediatrician, professor and author, wrote her groundbreaking book “Thirty Million Words: Building A Child’s Brain” in 2015. Dr. Suskind says, "Every parent has the words, the language, the nurturance necessary to build their baby's brain. It's really about families understanding that they matter in their children's education and that they matter from the first day that their children are born." For more on her research and her book, link
Just how do you talk with a baby or toddler? Try the three T’s (from Thirty Million Words: Building A Child’s Brain):
Tune In: Notice what the child is focused on and talk about that. Respond when a child communicates – including when a baby cries or coos.
Talk More: Narrate day to day routines, such as diaper changes and tooth brushing. Use details: "Let Mommy take off your diaper. Oh, so wet. And smell it. So stinky!"
Take Turns: Keep the conversation going. Respond to your child's sounds, gestures and, eventually, words – and give them time to respond to you. Ask lots of questions that require more than yes or no answers.
Other tips for supporting your child’s developing language are:
Finally, let me encourage all young parents out there: to the exhausted mom who is reading The Cat in the Hat or Goodnight Moon for the fourteenth time after a long work day, to the dad who gets up early on Saturday morning and heads with his kids to the library instead of playing golf, I salute you. Keep up the good work! Because someday, after many years of reading to them, they might start reading to you.
Most young children are aware of death, even if they don’t understand it. I remember vividly my first personal experience with death--my neighborhood friend’s dog was hit by a car. We were standing on the sidewalk and it seemed to unfold in slow motion right in front of us. I can still connect with the helpless feeling I had at six years old—there was nothing I could do about the horrible outcome of the collision or for my friend as she sobbed uncontrollably.
Death is a common theme in cartoons and television, and some of your child’s friends may have already lost a loved one. But experiencing grief firsthand is a very different and often confusing process for kids. As a parent, you can’t protect a child from the pain of loss, but you can help her feel safe. And by allowing and encouraging him to express his feelings, you can help him build healthy coping skills that will serve him well in the future.
Other points to help your child process the death of a loved one are:
If you know children who are dealing with a big loss, these books can encourage them to talk about and work through their sadness and cherish the special memories they have. For more on helping children deal with loss and grief:
Did you know the average North American child now spends about seven hours a day staring at screens and mere minutes engaged in unstructured play outdoors? Yet recent research indicates that experiences in nature are essential for healthy growth. Regular exposure to nature can help relieve stress, depression, and attention deficits. It can reduce bullying, combat obesity, and boost academic scores. Most critical of all, abundant time in natural settings seems to yield long-term benefits in kids’ cognitive, emotional, and social development. Of course, spending time outdoors is important for adults as well!
Growing up, Scott Sampson—the paleontologist and CEO of Science World in Vancouver, Canada — went on annual camping trips to the Rocky Mountains with his family. However, he said in a recent TED talk, “This was not where I fell in love with nature. That happened close to home — looking for rocks in the backyard, playing kick-the-can in the neighborhood, bushwhacking in the local forest.”
Sampson recommends three steps we can take with our children to connect with nature.
Sampson also wrote a great book on the same topic www.amazon.com/How-Raise-Wild-Child-Science/dp/0544705297?tag=teco06-20
As many families are preparing their children to start a new school year, I would like to share this article with parenting advise on how to help your child get off to a good start. As a former teacher for 25 years, I totally support the ideas and insights presented here.
Love and Logic Parenting, by Dr. Charles Fey, www.loveandlogic.com/
Centuries ago, I presume, a tradition developed whereby parents felt compelled to provide a tangible expression of their gratitude toward teachers. The original motivations for this tradition are unclear. Some may have been prompted by genuine appreciation; others may have been spurred by guilt and attempts to atone for the unruly classroom conduct of their children; some may have darker motivations where it was hoped a small payoff would “grease the wheels” a bit toward a better grade for their child.
While I’m sure that most educators truly appreciate the gesture, I’m not sure how many apples an average person can eat. I wonder how many of those cute little picture frames, paper weights, plaques, and other cute thingies eventually get regifted.
Of course, all of us dedicated educators want to be appreciated for our hard work, long hours, and willingness to be exposed to every germ known to humankind. It’s nice to be appreciated for the fact that we choose to love kids even when they behave badly and produce noxious fumes. It’s great to be appreciated for the fact that we take classrooms full of kids with different needs, abilities, behaviors, and troubles and turn them into high-powered learning teams.
Great teachers are amazing!
The best gift we can give them involves our own parenting. The most wonderful display of our appreciation is to send them students truly ready to be respectful, responsible, and eager to learn. No doubt this gift also benefits our children, who will rise to the top when equipped with such character attributes.
Listed below are just a few things you can do:
(Adapted from Love and Logic Parenting) www.loveandlogic.com/
This parent commands and directs the lives of children through the following methods:
1. Provides messages of low personal worth and resistance
2. Makes lots of demands and has lots of expectations about responsibility
3. Tells the child how he/she should handle responsibility
4. Tells the child how he/she should feel
5. Provides absolutes: “This is the decision you should make!”
6. Demands that jobs or responsibilities be done now
7. Issues orders and threats: “You get that room cleaned up or else…”
8. Takes over the ownership of the problem using threats and orders to solve the problem
9. Uses lots of harsh words and very few actions
10. Uses punishment, pain and humiliation to serve as the teacher
This parent hovers over children and rescues them from the hostile world in which they live through the following methods:
1. Provides messages of weakness and low personal worth
2. Makes excuses for the child, but complains about mishandled responsibilities
3. “Takes on” the responsibility of the child
4. Protects the child from any possible negative feelings
5. Makes decisions for the child
6. Provides no structure, but complains, “After all I’ve done for you…”
7. Whines and uses guilt: “When are you ever going to learn. I always have to clean up after you.”
8. Complains about having an irresponsible child who causes “me” much work and responsibility
9. Uses lots of words and actions that rescue or indicate that the child is not capable or responsible
10. Protects child from natural consequences and uses guilt as the teacher
The consultant parent provides guidance and consultant services for children by:
1. Providing messages of personal worth and strength
2. Seldom mentioning responsibilities
3. Demonstrating how to take care of one’s self and be responsible
4. Sharing personal feelings about own performance and responsibilities
5. Providing and helping the child explore alternatives and then allowing the child to make his/her own decision
6. Providing “time frames” in which child may complete responsibilities
7. Modeling doing a good job, finishing, cleaning up, feeling good about it
8. Asking one’s self, “Who owns the problem?” and helping the child explore solutions to his/her problem
9. Using lots of actions, but very few words
10. Allowing the child to experience life’s natural consequences and allows them to serve as the teacher
God gave all of us free will and that includes the opportunity to mess up. Failure and Success are two sides of the same coin. Drill sergeant and helicopter parents take away the opportunity for children to make choices and to learn from their mistakes. We increase the odds of raising resilient individuals by guiding our children with lots of empathy and natural consequences.
For more on this, see my earlier blog: https://www.coachmyrna.org/coachmyrna-blog/archives/09-2018
Check out my new four-week parenting series “Mission Possible: Raising Resilient, Responsible, Respectful and Fun-To-Be-With Kids” to support you as you parent your children. coachmyrna-webinars