Caring for children requires caring for you. 8 ways to manage stress when life is challenging and unpredictable.

Children thrive when the world seems loving, safe, and predictable. With all that’s going on in the world right now, life can feel anything but loving, safe, and predictable, not only for our children but for those of who care for them.

Young children are greatly affected by the stress of their parents and caregivers. Even babies can sense the stress of a parent. With this in mind, it’s so important to find healthy ways to cope with stress as you also care for your child. Not doing so can have a lasting effect on a young child's brain, body, and emotions.

Just as your children need and deserve care and love, you too are worthy and deserving of care and love. 

Here are some practical ways to manage stress as you continue to face new challenges in daily life: 

1. Get enough rest whenever possible. Sleep is necessary for physical, mental, and emotional health and wellbeing.

2. Move your body. Whether it’s stretching, yoga, going for a walk, or doing a workout online—movement boosts our body’s happiness chemicals and releases serotonin and endorphins, which help to stabilize mood and help you feel more positive about life. 

3. Get outside. If weather allows, go outdoors. Nature provides peace and perspective, and also releases serotonin. Sunlight and fresh air are good for the body and soul.

 

4. Take breaks from media. The news, social media, and local forums have their place. It’s okay to be informed from trusted sources. But mindless scrolling and taking in too much information in a culture of fear and alarm can add to your anxiety.

5. Take a break from your phone and other devices. Put it in another room for a time. Studies show that stress levels decrease when we disconnect digitally. This will feel hard at the beginning; you might actually feel more anxious at first. But over time, this healthy habit will become life giving.

6. Stay in touch with those you love and find supportive relationships. Call or text the friends and family you don’t get to see right now. Though you may not be with others in the ways you're used to, you can still reach out in ways that bring connection and comfort. Managing stress isn’t just about healthy coping strategies. Managing stress requires supportive relationships..

 

7. Know that grown-ups need timeouts too. When you’re overwhelmed, when it’s only 11 am and the kids won’t stop fighting, it’s okay to step away and count to 100. It’s okay to leave them with your spouse or partner so you can walk around the block. Parents and caregivers need support! Don’t hesitate to ask for the help you need.

8. Practice gratitude. Studies show that gratitude actually improves mental health; it's a positive emotion that helps fight negativity. Perhaps you can begin each day thinking of 3 things you’re thankful for. If your child is old enough, teach them the practice of gratitude too!

Be kind to yourself. We’ve never been through a time like this and we all need grace and compassion for ourselves and for others. Encourage the parents and caregivers in your life. Help them in any way you can, knowing that when you do, you’re helping children too.  

We trust that normalcy will one day return. But let’s make the most of this time with the children who depend on us. Research shows that a solid foundation of love and security helps children focus, adapt to new situations, control their emotions, and begin school ready to learn. 

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

 

 Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watchthis short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #1, "Maximize Love, Manage Stress" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers! And we'll post specific resources that can help you during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence! 

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How Reading and Discussing Stories Can Help Your Child Process Uncomfortable Emotions

 

Reading and discussing stories builds healthy brains in all sorts of ways. It exposes children to words, characters, experiences, places and ideas. It inspires creativity and imagination. Stories help with memory and important pre-reading skills. 

But stories are also a great tool for connecting to your child’s “inner world” in a way that regular conversation doesn’t always touch.

We all struggle with how to handle uncomfortable emotions like anger, fear, nervousness, sadness, and grief. Learning how to acknowledge uncomfortable feelings is a crucial part of growing into an emotionally healthy person. The earlier our children learn to accept and process uncomfortable emotions, the better equipped they are to handle transitions, everyday disappointments, and relationships with others.  

Books can be a simple and powerful tool to help them on their journey! Children can connect to the emotions of characters in a story in ways that help them feel less alone. They can also learn how to empathize with others and show compassion. When children see that a character in a book experiences the same fear or nervousness as them, they realize these feelings are normal.

When uncomfortable emotions present themselves, you can refer back to a story, reminding your child of how the character felt and what happened in the book.

Let stories become a jumping off point for questions and thoughtful conversations with your child. Sharing meaningful books together can also help you connect with your child on a deeper level, making them feel safe and secure. (You may be surprised by the ways they help you too!)

Here are some great lists of books for young children that can help them handle uncomfortable emotions. Your local library will have many of these titles.

Books to Help Kids Handle All Kinds of Uncomfortable Emotions

23 Children’s Books About Emotions for Kids with Big Feelings

11 Smart Books to Help Get Your Kids Ready for Preschool or Kindergarten

17 Children's Books For Anxious Kids

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life! 

Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents "Read and Discuss Stories" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!


How bubbles, balloons, blocks, and boxes can provide hours of fun for little ones!

Are you looking for indoor and outdoor ideas to keep you your child busy and active? We’re here to help!

Movement and play help young children develop coordination, strength, overall health, and school readiness. Exploring through movement and play is how little ones learn about the world; each stage of development comes with new and exciting opportunities for learning!

Hot summer weather, plus the many restrictions during Covid-19, can make it a challenge to keep little ones engaged and active without resorting to screens. We understand that it’s tempting to simply turn on the TV or the iPad instead of encouraging activities that will stimulate the brain and the body in the ways a young child needs. But we hope these simple activities will help you and your child have fun, stay active, and burn off some energy!

1. Have fun chasing balloons and bubbles!

 

Going outside with balloons and bubbles is a fun, simple, and inexpensive way to keep your young child occupied. There are so many great brain building and body-strengthening activities that balloons and bubbles can provide!

Because children can’t predict where the balloons and bubbles will go, chasing them are a great way for kids to develop gross motor skills (and burn up lots of energy!)

Kids can chase bubbles and try to pop as many as possible. While chasing them, children have to run, jump, zigzag and move in ways that require sudden shifts in balance and weight. The same is true when throwing and trying to catch or kick balloons. You can also set up a game of balloon volleyball in the yard.

* Be sure to keep a close eye when children are playing with balloons as popped balloon pieces can be a choking hazard

 Thanks to Aging With Flair, LLC for these ideas!

2. Block play

Source: www.blockfest.org

Blocks are a wonderful activity for young children for many reasons!

  • Blocks can include wooden blocks, plastic blocks, Duplos, or Legos. (Remove any extra small blocks or Lego pieces that could be choking hazards.) 
  • Blocks develop fine motor skills in fingers and hands as children learn to pick up and stack the blocks.
  • Blocks build a child’s imagination as they imagine objects to build and learn to create from that mental picture.
  • Blocks are useful for sorting objects into groups by size, shape, and color. Children can make patterns with blocks, count them, and compare them. In this way, blocks help children develop important early math skills!

For lots of ideas on block play, visit www.blockfest.org and follow them on Facebook.

3. Boxes

Empty boxes can keep a child occupied for hours!

  • Several boxes are fun to build with or to stack and knock down.
  • Boxes are great for making an obstacle course, for climbing in and out of, for jumping over, or filling up with items around the house.
  • Children can turn a large box into a house, truck, or rocket ship!
  • Provide crayons or washable markers so they can get creative with their boxes.

We hope these ideas provide fresh ideas for play during these challenging days. Know that when you put away the screens and encourage your child to engage with the real world around them, you are building a powerful brain, preparing them for school and for life! 

 

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are helping their young children "Explore Through Movement and Play" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!

You may also enjoy:

15 Screen-Free Indoor Activities to Keep a Young Child Busy

7 Simple Ideas for Exploring through Movement and Play (and why your child's brain needs it!) 

The Basics of Exploring through Movement and Play with Your Baby and Toddler

10 Everyday Ways Your Child Can Explore Through Movement and Play (even when it’s hot outside) 


8 Simple Ways to Make Math a Fun Part of Daily Life!

Have you ever heard someone say, "I'm just not a math person?" 

As adults, we know our own strengths and weaknesses, and this awareness can lead us to believe that we don't have what it takes to equip our young children, especially if it's in an area where we haven't had success. That's why many of us say, "I'm just not a math person!"

We believe every parent can give every child a great start in life if they know "The Basics!"

Believe it or not, children come into the world pre-wired to learn simple math ideas, including numbers, patterns, and making comparisons. As parents and caregivers of young children, you can seize this important window of brain development and teach them to become a problem solver. 

This is why "Count, Group and Compare" is the third Palmetto Basic.

Here are 8 fun and simple ways you can "do math" with your child and help them develop important thinking skills! 

1. Move in rhythm. 

Clap, tap, rock or kiss your baby in a steady rhythm. Count while you do it. 

If your child is in a swing at the playground, count each time you push the swing. Have fun! These are simple ways to teach your child about patterns and counting. 

2. Count objects.

Count groups of things, starting with small numbers. You can count your child's toes or count their Cheerios. Infants learn through all of their senses, so hold objects up for your child to see and touch. "Look, there's one...two blocks. Two blocks." As your child gets older, continue to count things together. 

3. Compare. 

Provide opportunities for your child to touch and explore things that are the same and different. For example, let your baby shake things that make different sounds, or touch fabrics with different textures. Talk about how they are similar or different.  

4. Use math words. 

When you talk to your infant or toddler, use words related to math ideas like amounts or comparisons. Examples of math words are more, less, big, small, tall, short, round, square, equal. 

5. Make groups.

Children learn to say strings of numbers before they truly understand the meaning of numbers. After they learn to count numbers out loud, the next step is understanding how many things each number stands for. "Five" isn't just a word that comes after "four;" the word five represents five of something. Count objects, like socks or blocks, and put them in a group so your child can see the whole set.  

6. Make it a game.

Have fun with counting. You can count 1, 2, 3, and then let your child say 4, 5, 6. If you're walking down the sidewalk, you can clap after every 5 sidewalk lines. All sorts of everyday objects and activities can be turned into math games. You know that you're building a healthy brain, but your child simply enjoys the fun and loves bonding with you!

7. Name shapes.

Shapes are everywhere! Look for them with your child and name them.

"The clock is a circle. Do you see any other circles in this room?"

"The sign is a rectangle. What other rectangles do you see outside?" 

8. Match and sort.

Make a game of matching and sorting objects. For example, let your child match socks while you do laundry. Your child can match and sort items by their shape, color, size, or other features. 

When you make math a fun and daily part of life with your child, you are teaching them to become a "math person!" And you may find that you actually enjoy math more than you realized. 

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life! We're choosing one Basic a month, sharing an overview here on the blog and other resources you don't want to miss through social media.

Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!


One thing is certain during this uncertain time: your child’s brain & body are still developing. Here’s how The Basics can help!

These are challenging, unprecedented days. And when parenting young children is part of the mix, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. When you’re overwhelmed, it’s easy to “check out,” to say to yourself, “I’ll be more intentional about things once life becomes normal again.” We get it. 

But here’s the thing about young children: their brains are still developing rapidly, even though the rest of life feels like it’s on pause. In fact, 80% of a child’s brain growth happens in the first three years of life! Parents and caregivers, it’s important to seize the opportunity of the early years, even when it’s not ideal or convenient (like during a pandemic!)

Thankfully, there’s good news. Promoting healthy brain growth isn’t complicated. Everyday life provides all the opportunities you need to give your child a great start in life. Here’s how The Basics can help!

1. Maximize Love, Manage Stress.

These are stressful times. Loving your children well while managing personal stress is THE most important thing you can do right now. This is also the Basic that serves as a foundation for everything else. Maximizing love for your child prepares their young brain and body to learn, to adapt, to relate to others, and to thrive in all areas of life—both in a time of crisis and beyond.

Here’s a recent post that provides practical tips for managing your own stress as a parent or caregiver, and provides simple ways to love your child well: Parents and caregivers, here’s the most important thing you can do for yourself and your children during these trying times.

2. Talk, Sing, and Point

Talking, singing, and pointing with your baby from the very beginning are so important for healthy brain growth. Children learn language from the moment they are born. Day by day, babies learn that sounds have meaning. Every time you talk, sing, or point to what you are talking about, you provide clues to the meaning of what you are saying.

Talking is teaching. Chances are, you’re already talking, singing, and pointing throughout the day. But being mindful of just how important it is to talk, sing, and point, can help you be even more intentional with your child. Here’s a post that can help: 6 Simple Ways to Support Language Learning with Your Child

3. Count, Group, and Compare

Believe it or not, children come into the world pre-wired to learn simple math ideas, including numbers, patterns, and making comparisons. As parents and caregivers of young children, you can seize this important window of brain growth and teach them to become a problem solver. This is why “Count, Group and Compare” is the third Basic. Use these everyday moments to prepare your child for math! (even if you’re not a “math person”)

4. Explore through Movement and Play

There’s a reason young children have boundless energy and are wired to move. Science shows that for a child’s brain to fully mature, it needs stimulation through movement and sensory experiences. Each stage of development comes with new opportunities for learning. For example, an infant might explore by touching, grasping, chewing, or crawling. A toddler might explore by walking or climbing.

Physical activity and curiosity don’t simply build a strong body; they build a strong brain! Here are 7 Simple Ideas for Exploring through Movement and Play (and why your child’s brain needs it!)

5. Read and Discuss Stories

When you read to your infant, they learn how books work and develop new language skills. They learn to associate warm, fuzzy feelings with books and learning. It’s a wonderful way to bond with your baby and create simple routines. When you read to your toddler, you teach them to use their imaginations; they learn about people, places, and things that can be important building blocks to later life success. We know that simple practices create lasting foundations! Whether you have a baby or a preschooler, we’ve got you covered: Building a Healthy Brain with Books: 8 Simple Tips!

Parents and caregivers, we know you’re tired and overwhelmed. We know it’s sometimes easier to hand your toddler the iPad than to have a conversation or read a book. But as much as possible, keep doing The Basics. Snuggle, talk with them, count, play, and read. Your engagement with your child not only makes them feel loved and important, it supports the brain growth that’s so important during this time!

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

*Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #1, “Maximize Love, Manage Stress” in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.

*Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.

*Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers! And we’ll post specific resources that can help you during the coronavirus pandemic.

*If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!

Feel free to share!

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