Keep calm and connect with your child: simple ways to change the way you communicate (even in the midst of conflict)

Talking with your child from the very beginning is one of the most important things you can do to build a healthy brain and emotional security.

Children learn language from the moment they are born through relationships with their caregivers. 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 and create strong relational connection. This is why “Talking, Singing and Pointing” is one of The Basics: 5 fun, simple, powerful ways every child can get a great start in life! 

But it's not just the quantity of words spoken to your child that matters. The quality of the words you speak make a huge difference in your child's confidence, security, and connection to you. It's important to use more positive words than negative words, which can be challenging with young children who are prone to meltdowns and pushing your buttons. 

We've rounded up five resources that provide practical tips and phrases as you practice speaking words that build connection and love, even in the midst of conflict and defiance. 

1. Say This To Your Kids Instead (from KCBI FM)

What you say to your little ones means A LOT. There is no doubt frustration happens so, maybe this list of suggestions can help. Read more

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2. Say this, not that. A parent's guide. (from Imperfect Parent)

Are you tired of being ignored? Feeling frustrated that your kids respond to you with grunts and “I don’t know?”

Sometimes, the way we phrase things can make a big difference. It’s not always easy to remember what to say or how to say it, especially when your child is in the middle of a meltdown.

So, here’s a quick reference guide for parents. Read more

 

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3. How to talk to kids so they RESPOND! (from Teach Through Love)

Would you like to know how to talk to kids using peaceful conflict resolution strategies to ease tension, or calm aggressive behavior in your children?

Often, we can be triggered by our own unresolved traumas - big and small - and this can make it extremely challenging to remain compassionate as we confront our kid's BIG, explosive emotions. (Read more)

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4. 7 phrases to try instead of saying 'no'  (from motherly)

We have a small challenge for you: count the number of times you say "no" on a given day. Your baby pulls the cat's fur, your toddler throws a ball at her brother, your child whines for a cookie before dinner—the temptation to say no is almost irresistible. It rolls off the tongue. It feels like the easiest way to get your point across.

But what if there was an even better way to communicate your message? What if you could choose words that connect you to your kids and make you feel more confident and effective? You can, mama. Read more

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5. 50 Ways to Encourage a Child (from TeachThought)

There are many ways to encourage a child, but for students of any age, honest, authentic, and persistent messages from adults that have credibility in their eyes are among the most powerful. Read more

 

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

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are Talking, Singing and Pointing with their little ones.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!

 


How "The Basics" Support Resilience in Children

We imagine childhood as a carefree time of innocence, play, and curiosity. Sadly, far too many children are accumulating one negative experience after another. The effects show up in their brains, their bodies, and their behavior.

Professionals in mental health, education, and healthcare now recognize the affect of "Adverse Childhood Experiences" (ACEs) on brain function, mental health, physical health, and behavior. The more ACEs a child has, the more at risk they are for developmental disorders, adult diseases, and negative socio-economic realities.

As we care for our own children and serve children and families in our community, it’s important to understand the challenges that many parents, caregivers, and young children face. While the reality of ACEs is deeply discouraging and overwhelming, there are hopeful solutions within our reach! Both science and personal stories testify to the power of resilience in overcoming many of the effects of ACEs.

What's the #1 way we can support resilience in children? The answer may surprise you. Relationships.

In a 2018 interview, Oprah Winfrey asked Dr. Bruce Harry, a leading researcher on ACEs: “What’s the difference between a really bad childhood and being able to overcome that, and a traumatic childhood and someone not being able to overcome that?” Relationships. “If you have the opportunity to be connected to people in positive ways,” says Dr. Henry, “that can buffer some of those effects.”

Relationships bring us to The Basics--5 fun, simple, powerful ways that every family can give every child a great start in life. We love The Basics because they are simple and for everyone. But The Basics are also powerful because they are rooted in relationships. And relationships provide the love, support, and connection every child needs to help combat the effects of stress, whether it’s the stress of daily life or experiences that are traumatic.

Here are just some of the ways each one of The Basics can help support resilience in children:

1. Maximize Love, Manage Stress: This is the first and most important Basic for a reason. Children thrive when their 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. Additionally, a parent who is depressed may not be interacting with their baby as much, which means that important brain development isn’t taking place like it should.

Caring for others begins with caring for you! It’s okay not to be okay. And if you’re not okay, it’s so important to find healthy ways to cope with stress and find mental health as you also care for your child. Not doing so can have a lasting effect on a young child's brain, body, and emotions. If you know of a parent who's struggling, reach out to provide support. You can be an important lifeline for a parent who needs it!

Learn more about Basic #1: Maximize Love, Manage Stress:

 

2. Talk, Sing, and Point:

Talking, singing, and pointing with your child from the moment they’re born is so important for healthy brain development. But it’s also vital for healthy connection! Conversation creates lasting bonds. It helps your child know that the ideas and feelings they express are safe with you and valued by you.

Our words matter. They have power. Not just for healthy language development, but for emotional development. Words are an incredible way to communicate how much you love and value your child--how special they are to you. Be purposeful with your words and use them in ways that build up your child. Focus on using more words that are positive, loving, and affirming instead of negative, harsh, and scolding.

Learn more about Basic #2: Talk, Sing, and Point:

 

3. Count, Group, and Compare

You may be wondering, “What does math have to do with resilience and a child feeling loved?” Again, all of The Basics happens within the context of relationships. As you walk down the street and find shapes, as you count the apples you buy at the grocery store, as you let your child help measure and cook in the kitchen—you are connecting with your child, bonding with them, helping them feel valued because you’re including them in daily life.

Learn more about Basic #3: Count, Group, and Compare.

 

4. Explore Through Movement and Play

Not only is play important for building a healthy body; it’s another positive experience that helps buffer the effects of stress and trauma. This is true for children but also for adults.

Curiosity, exploration, and moving our bodies build muscles, relieve stress, and fuel the brain with “happiness chemicals" like serotonin and endorphins. 

Learn more about Basic #4:

 

5. Read and Discuss Stories

Reading for just 10 minutes a day has huge impacts on a young child’s developing brain and also creates positive experiences and lasting memories.

Snuggling up with your child is an opportunity to bond. It helps your child feel safe, loved, and secure. Reading exposes them to language and helps them become more curious, imaginative, and compassionate.

Learn more about Basic #5:

 

The #1 thing you can do to promote resilience in children is to provide a loving, supportive relationship. And that’s the beauty of The Basics. You practice them in the context of relationship.

Yes, these tips and principles will build strong and healthy brains that are ready for school and ready for life. But more important than that, The Basics reinforce healthy connections between young children and the adults who care for them.

Brains develop best when a child feels loved.

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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 an overview of The Basics. 
  • 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!

 


Let's be honest: reading to little ones can be challenging. Here are 6 simple ways you can enjoy it!

Perhaps you already know that it’s never too early to begin reading to your child, that you can begin reading to them from the moment they’re born. Since 80% of a child’s brain development happens during the first three years of life, it’s important that parents and caregivers begin as early as possible!

But this message of reading to babies and very young children may seem impractical. After all, babies can’t yet understand the meaning of words or comprehend a story. Toddlers often can’t sit still from the first page of a book to the last. Young children interrupt, ask lots of questions, and are easily distracted.

Maybe you’ve tried read-aloud time and you don’t think you have the patience for it. We understand. Read-aloud time may feel more like a chore than a cherished moment. That's why we want to provide real-life tips for real parents with real kids (yes, the ones who squirm and interrupt and are easily distracted.)

If you don’t remember anything else, remember this: Give your child a happy, positive experience with books! Here are 6 ways to make read-aloud time a happy time:

1. Let them experience what a book is.

Everything is brand new to a baby! You are the first one who introduces your child to everything about a book. They see that books open and that pages turn. They hear words as you turn the pages. Their eyes learn to focus on pictures. They learn that books are to be held and touched. Books provide valuable sensory experiences for children and you get to be the first one who provides these important experiences. 

2. You don’t need to read the words. Point to the pictures and talk about what you see.

This is an especially good way of experiencing books with infants and young toddlers. You don’t need to read the words on the pages. Instead, simply describe what is happening in the pictures. Talk about the colors, shapes, and what the characters are doing. Point to the page when you do this. Your baby simply loves the sound of your voice and taking in the pictures they see. They also love being close to you.

3. You don’t need to finish a book.

When the focus is on reading every word and finishing every page, a young child may become bored and you may become frustrated. You don’t want them to associate books with boredom and frustration.

If you sense that your child is becoming restless, if he wants to skip ahead or move on to another activity, that’s okay! As they get older, they will be able to engage with a book for longer stretches of time. Each child is different. Don’t compare your two-year-old's attention span to another child the same age. Just a few minutes with a book matters more than you realize.

4. Read the books they love, even if it’s the same books over and over (and over) again.

Children love repetition and it’s actually good for their brain development. Repetition helps with vocabulary, word recognition, pattern, rhythm, word fluency, comprehension, and confidence. Read more about this here: Why Reading the Same Book Repeatedly Is Good for Kids (Even If It Drives You Nuts)

Keep introducing new books here and there, but know that it’s okay if you’ve read Goodnight Moon 387 times. : )

5. Read with expression!

There are so many ways to do this. Let your voice reflect what’s going on in the story. Use a different voice for different characters. Speak in a squeaky voice, a whisper voice, or a loud voice. Young children are full of joy, enthusiasm, and curiosity! They love it when the grown-ups in their lives get on their level and have fun.

6. Think of read-aloud moments as a time of to “Maximize Love and Manage Stress.” (Basic #1)

One of the best things about reading to your child is the love they feel during these special moments! Parents, these moments can be special and therapeutic for you too. Pausing for just 5-15 minutes from the stress and distractions of daily life to snuggle and read with a child can be exactly what you need in the midst of a busy or challenging day. 

Moms, Dads, and Caregivers—you got this! When your goal is to keep read-aloud time positive for your child and for you, when you remember that it’s just fine to keep it simple and short and snuggly, you’re more likely to make read-aloud time a daily habit.

All of those 5-15 minute reading times sure do add up over the early years! The more we read with young children, the more prepared they become to enjoy reading and to do well in school.

For more ideas, visit the "Read and Discuss Stories" page at www.palmettobasics.org.

You may also enjoy these posts:

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 #5, "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!

 


3 Simple Ways for Busy Parents to Make Books Part of Everyday Life!

Why is reading to your child so important? 

  • Stories engage a child's imagination and expose them to words and ideas.

  • What they learn about people, places, and things can be important building blocks to school readiness and later life success.

  • For both parents and children, times together with books form fond and lasting memories

It's never too early to begin reading to your child! But in a fast-paced world where parents and caregivers are juggling so many responsibilities, you may feel that you don’t have the time and energy to read with your child as much as you'd like.

Here are 3 simple suggestions for making books part of everyday life:

1. Make “book time” part of your child’s bedtime routine.

Routines make children feel secure. Knowing what to expect helps them feel safe and happy. Whether it’s naptime or bedtime, when you weave books into your child's rest-time rhythm, you're creating a soothing transition to sleep. As your child begins to expect read-aloud time, books will naturally become part of your daily routine.

Even when you're tired and have had an especially hectic day, these moments with your child can be a special and needed way to calm and connect. (This is a great way to do Basic #1: Maximize Love, Manage Stress.)

Remember, if you’re reading to your baby or young child, don’t worry about finishing the book or whether they understand what you’re reading. What is important is that they hear your words, see the pictures, and start to develop positive feelings about books.

2. Keep books handy.

This sounds simple, but that's what makes it doable!

image source

When you keep board books in the car, your child can enjoy them while they ride. You don’t always have to read to your child; let them enjoy books independently. As your child turns the pages, looks at the pictures, and babbles, they're developing important pre-reading skills!

When you keep a book in your tote bag, waiting rooms and checkout lines turn everyday moments into learning opportunities.
Instead of handing your child a phone or iPad, hand them a book. Reading with them means that you have to put down your own device, but when you begin to see waiting time as reading time, you may discover that you have more time than you thought to read to your child.

When books are always within reach—whether in your home or on the go—you and your child will indeed reach for them more!

3. Love your local library.

Sometimes the library seems too good to be true. Think about it—thousands of free books, plush chairs to read in, weekly storytimes and literacy activities for young children. Your local library is a treasure!

Making a weekly or monthly trip to the library can become a happy and anticipated outing for you and your child. Little ones love to discover new books and pull them one by one off the shelf for you to read. Whether you read at the library, check out books for home, or enjoy a special preschool program, library visits are a simple and special way to encourage a love for books!

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Just 15 minutes of reading a day can have a powerful impact on your child’s brain development, school readiness, and even their emotional regulation. Have fun, keep it simple, and know that the moments you and your child spend with books will have lasting benefits!

For more ideas, visit the "Read and Discuss Stories" page at www.palmettobasics.org.

You may also enjoy these posts:

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 #5, "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!


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

Bad weather days can make it a challenge to keep little ones engaged and active without resorting to screens. When the days are cold or the rain won't stop, it’s tempting to 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. Exploring through movement and play is one of 5 Basics every child needs to get a great start in life!

Believe it or not, there are many things your child can do that are free or low-cost. Here are some of our favorites!

1. Build a fort: blankets, pillows, sheets, towels, and living room furniture can keep children engaged for hours. Once the fort is built, it’s a great place for looking at books, setting up a tea party, or playing with toys.

2. Hide and seek: You can hide, they can hide, or you can hide objects for them to find.

3. Blocks! Check out these fun activities involving blocks.

4. Art: With simple supplies you already already have on hand, your child can create to their heart’s content: crayons, washable markers, scrap paper, stickers, toilet paper rolls, paper plates, etc.

5. Water play in the sink, tub, or large plastic bin. Plastic containers and water provide lots of fun for toddlers! Plastic animals can join the fun too. *Remember to always provide supervision when your child is doing water play.

6. Pretend play. Children are naturally creative and imaginative. Whether they’re making a tea party for their stuffed animals, building a zoo, or cooking dinner, encouraging pretend play is an important and delightful part of a child’s development.

7. Play-Doh. Yes, it can be messy but it’s also a great way for your child to have lots of fun for a long time, all while strengthening the muscles in their fingers and hands that are so important for school.

8. Turn on music and have a dance party. This one’s for you too, moms and dads! It’s a great way to maximize love, manage stress, and let your child burn off some energy.

9. Puzzles. They’re another great activity for developing the muscles in fingers, and working on coordination and thinking skills. Children love working the same puzzles over and over again!

10. Books. Yes, we want you to read to your child but it’s also valuable for children to look at books on their own, to “pretend read,” to talk about the pictures, and to make up their own stories as they turn the pages.

11, Dump out plastic cups and utensils in the kitchen. Toddlers love to bang on containers with plastic spoons, to put containers inside one another, to build and stack and then knock it all down. This is a simple way for them to stay occupied while you work in the kitchen.

12. A cardboard box. For a child, a cardboard box isn’t just a cardboard box. It’s a car, a rocket ship, a house, a place to hide, and so much more!

13. Simple sensory bins. Take a few containers—bins, plastic bottles, or large resealable bags—and fill them with child-friendly objects that appeal to your child’s senses and interests: feathers, water beads, cotton balls, plastic toys. Here are some simple ideas to get you started. *Closely supervise your child if your bins or bags have items that can be choking hazards. 

14. Masking tape. A simple roll of tape can create a lot of fun! Tape “roads” on the floor for matchbox cars, tape a hopscotch court, or tape a “balance beam.”

15. Have an indoor picnic. A blanket on the living room floor + finger foods turn snack time or meal time into a fun treat and a break from the ordinary.

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 "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!


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