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What is Summer Brain and How Do You Prevent It?

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Monday, May 14, 2018

While your kids may look forward to summer and not having to worry about school or homework for a few months, a summer completely free of learning may set them back. On average, students lose between two and three months of math and reading skills in the summer.

Fortunately, there are some simple ways that you can prevent your children from falling behind their peers in the summer. Below, we dive into the concept of summer brain drain and how you can combat it to set your child up for success when school starts again.

What is summer brain drain?

As families make plans for the summer, many parents may be concerned about the “summer brain drain.” The summer brain drain, also called the “summer slide,” refers to the loss of skills and knowledge that can occur in the summer months.

Not only can summer learning loss put children at a disadvantage for the beginning of the school year, but it also can cause delays in classroom progress. Educators often spend the first six weeks of school re-teaching skills that students learned in the previous grade before they can move on to new material.

Summer learning loss can happen as early as first grade. As children grow older, this phenomenon can compound. By the time a student is in sixth grade, a consistent summer slide can cause a student to be two years behind their peers.  

How do you prevent brain drain?

Mixing educational activities into your child’s summer doesn’t have to feel like school. Depending on your child’s interests, you can add in a few fun, daily activities that will keep them on track for the school year.

Try incorporating some of these activities into your child’s summer plans for a fun way to keep their mind sharp:

  • Start a book club with your child where you read their favorite books throughout the summer.

  • Help your child start a journal documenting all their summer activities.

  • Set up scavenger hunts that lets your child run around while answering educational clues.

  • Download educational apps and encourage your child to beat their high score.

  • Purchase a robotics kit and build a robot together.

  • Teach them a new skill, like cooking or helping in the workshop.

How Stratford School helps fight brain drain

Stratford School recognizes the need to combat summer brain drain while still allowing children to decompress and have fun during the summer months. Our unique summer camp program enables children to continue learning and growing through the summer months through fun and engaging camps and programs.


Stratford’s flexible summer program also allows parents to balance summer camp with downtime – we know how easy it is to over-schedule a child in today’s fast-paced world.  It is just as important to allow a child to be a child, as unstructured, unplugged time allows children to explore their imagination and get outside.


Explore Stratford’s innovative and enriching summer program where learning is balanced with fun and children can run and play while still avoiding the summer brain drain. Learn more about Stratford School’s summer camps today!

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Is Your Family Ready for a Pet

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Monday, April 23, 2018

Before you spontaneously head off the SPCA or Humane Society with your kids, consider taking some time to think through the decision to take on another family member. Pets need much more than just food and water, and it is important to consider whether your family is totally prepared or if your children can truly be responsible for helping with a pet.

Animals (ranging from hamsters to dogs) need regular veterinary check-ups, plenty of space, exercise, and lots of love and attention. Many compare bringing home a pet to having a baby—in the sense that it will take up your family’s time, space, and money!

girls with a cat at pound

What Are the Benefits of Pet Ownership?

Welcoming a pet into your family can be great for kids and parents too. Here are just a few reasons to consider getting a pet:

  • Taking care of a pet can be a team effort that can strengthen family bonds;
  • Pet ownership teaches kids about the responsibility that comes along with caring for another living thing;
  • Pets make wonderful, nonjudgmental companions for kids learning to master new skills. Many pets are also great “listeners” and often create close bonds with children;
  • If your child tends to be shy or uncomfortable in social situations, having a pet can greatly decrease anxiety and help children feel more comfortable with new people and places;
  • Children who have pets early in their lives are less likely to be allergic to allergens such as other pets, dust mites, ragweed, and grass later on.

Start Your Research by Pet Sitting

Kids often are so excited about the prospect of pet ownership that they volunteer to take on the daily chores like feeding, cleaning, and walking—but they may not have the time or discipline to keep it up over time. Pet sitting can be a great way to see what pet ownership is like without making a long-term commitment. And parents can get a better idea of how to delegate chores when the family welcomes a pet permanently.

Consider Pet Age and Family Life Style

If your family envisions bringing home an adorable puppy or kitten in particular, it will likely need a lot of training. Training an animal takes time and patience, often more time than what the family had anticipated.

If your family does not have the time to train a puppy or kitten, adopting a senior dog or cat can be a wonderful option. Senior animals often are already trained, significantly calmer, and can spend more time alone. These qualities make it easier on families with working parents or busy family schedules.

Do allergies mean the end of a pet search? No! If someone in your family is allergic there is no need to give up on a pet. For a majority of animals there are hypoallergenic breeds, which could be a good option.

Besides dogs and cats there are smaller animals that are often considered “starter pets,” such as fish, lizards, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits. People sometimes bring home these pets with the idea that they will take less work than a cat or dog. However, often families are met with the harsh reality that these animals still need a lot of care!

Animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits need larger cages, plenty of out-of-cage time, and regular veterinary checkups. Some lizards, like bearded dragons, require not just daily vegetables, but also live crickets for their meals. Smaller animals do make excellent companions, but it is important to know the amount of work and commitment required to take care of any animal.

Once you have found what seems like your perfect pet it is important that the animal meet your entire family—and anyone else that might be living at your home. This allows you to be sure that everyone gets along well and is ready for the new family member.

Finding the perfect pet for your family may be a challenge, but taking the time to make a thoughtful decision will make for a smoother transition. Good luck!

Jordan Leavitt-McGee is a summer intern at Jewish Family and Children’s Services of which Parents Place is a program. She has volunteered for many years with the San Francisco SPCA and loves animals.

Posted with permission from Parent's Place

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From the PAMP Vault: Mentally Preparing for Motherhood

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Tuesday, April 10, 2018
There’s so much attention given to the physical changes of a woman’s body during pregnancy, and yet the common emotional changes that many women experience often do not get discussed. The arrival of a new baby can be both exciting and challenging, and it’s normal to have a mix of emotions coupled with exhaustion. For about 80% of mothers, childbirth brings the “baby blues,” and another 15% experience postpartum depression. How can expectant mothers mentally prepare for their new role?

Expectation Setting
Postpartum depression can be linked to trying to meet or exceed societal expectations about what new motherhood is supposed to look like. There are unrealistic expectations often placed on new mothers such as being happy and functional at all times, immediately knowing how to soothe their babies and never feeling alone or isolated. In reality, new motherhood is full of highs and lows, new experiences, tears and sheer joy. There is no one correct way to feel, and each mother will adjust on her own time period.

Although it's common for this transitional period to cause raised emotions, it’s important to pay attention to extreme and unusual feelings of sadness, anger and anxiety. Crying often, feeling angry, withdrawing from loved ones or feeling numb or disconnected from your baby are all unique signs for postpartum depression. 

Mindfulness 
Paying attention to and acknowledging your thoughts and feelings can help you be a better partner and parent. Develop a mindfulness practice and internalize your breath to be in the moment. Be aware of your own thoughts and be prepared to step back when necessary and applaud yourself for the work you’re doing. Repeating phrases such as “This is temporary” and “I am a great mom doing my best” can be helpful for some mothers when they are experiencing a difficult period.

Consider learning to practice meditation during your pregnancy. For some, it may be as simple as quieting your mind through focused breathing. Other women may find it helpful to take a class or retreat to your own created space in your home with a yoga mat and complete silence. Benefits of meditation include improved sleep, revitalized energy, anxiety and stress relief and an opportunity to connect to your changing body and new baby.

Prenatal Yoga
If you are looking to increase your flexibility, concentrate on your breath and connect with your new baby and evolving body during pregnancy, prenatal yoga may be right for you. In a typical prenatal yoga class, you can expect stretching, mental centering and focused breathing. Yoga can be adaptable for all levels of experience. Check with your physician before beginning a new exercise regimen.

Sleep
Poor sleep has been shown to significantly worsen the symptoms of many mental health conditions. Since newborns rarely sleep more than two to three hours at a time, a mother’s sleep is constantly interrupted. This continuous sleep deprivation can lead to physical discomfort and exhaustion, which can then contribute to the symptoms of postpartum depression. Try to nap when the baby naps, as this will help prevent you from reaching exhaustion. Don’t hesitate to ask a friend or family member to watch your newborn for a short period so you can rest. 

Seek out a therapist ahead of time
Locating a therapist in your area that is familiar with counseling mothers can be especially helpful for any new mom. It’s important to develop a relationship ahead of your delivery so the therapist can get to know you prior to this life-changing event, even if it’s just for one introductory visit. Finding a therapist that’s right for you can also take time, so identifying one ahead of your delivery will only ease the stress if you’re in need of one after having your baby. This is especially important if you have experienced depression in the past, since you are at a higher risk of developing postpartum depression. Talk to your primary care physician for a referral.


Shelley H.K. Howell, Ph.D., J.D. is the Outpatient Manager at El Camino Hospital Mental Health and Addiction Services. El Camino Hospital offers a full spectrum of mother-baby care and services, including a specialized support program for women experiencing prenatal or postpartum depression and anxiety. The Maternal Outreach Mood Services (MOMS) program provides education, counseling and evaluation for mothers in a supportive, nurturing environment.

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Top 5 Reasons to Detox Your Beauty Bag

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Ever thought about doing a detox for your daily grooming/beauty routine – or for your kids’ basic soap, lotion or sunscreen? Wonder what chemicals are most important to avoid? One group of chemicals that a lot of scientists and doctors recommend we steer clear of are the hormone disruptors, chemicals known to mess with our hormones and reproductive systems. Topping the list of hormone-disrupting chemicals to stay away from: parabens, oxybenzone, and phthalates. Cleaning up your makeup bag and medicine cabinets is a great way to keep yourself and your family healthier.

 

Here’s why:

1.     Old-school favorites may be stealth-screwing with your health.  Some of the products we think of as classic staples might be better seen as unhealthy relics of the past. Looking at a few of the commonly-used products that have been fixtures on our own bathroom counters, the results were not good. Everyone’s beloved Cetaphil Cleanser is made with parabens, a un-favorite preservative. Lubriderm’s Advanced Therapy Lotion also has parabens in it (3 different ones). Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray uses the most concerning of the chemical sunscreens, oxybenzone. Phthalates are extra tricky to dodge since they aren’t even listed on labels – they’re often part of the synthetic fragrance ingredient. Serious nasties are probably hiding in plain sight right on your bathroom counter or in your shower. Studies found phthalates in almost 75% of one group of personal care products tested, and parabens in almost 60%. Oxybenzone was in 65% of the sunscreens.

 

 

2.     You can give up your side job as a lab rat. Without realizing it, we’re doing product safety testing by experimenting on ourselves. Women uses an average of 12 different personal care products a day, teen girls an estimated 17. Chemicals we lather on and slather on ourselves, absorb into our bodies and get into our bloodstreams. But product ingredients do not have to be safety-tested before hitting the shelves. Professor Tracey Woodruff @ UCSF Medical School plainly explained: “One myth about chemicals is that the U.S. government makes sure they’re safe before they go on the marketplace…We should not have to use the public as guinea pigs.”

 

 

3.     No one’s minding the store. The US has an almost anything-goes approach to regulating personal care products. Our main product safety laws were made back in 1938. The handheld calculator, the Pill, Prozac – even cake mix – are more recent inventions. With around 2,000 new chemicals introduced into use every year, our laws are extremely outdated. Some members of Congress (including our own California Senator Dianne Feinstein) realize we’ve got a problem, and last year proposed legislation to make things safer. No new laws on the books yet, though, so we still need to stay on top of things and watch out for ourselves. Avoiding known offenders and using more plant-based ingredients can lighten your body’s load.

 

 

4.     Super smart experts say certain personal care chemicals are bad news. Illnesses and issues linked to these chemicals include cancer, fertility trouble, obesity, diabetes, babies born with medical maladies. You’ll be right on track if you picture double headed sperm that don’t know how to swim, early-onset puberty, endometriosis, breast cancer, baby boys born with unusually formed sex organs and adult men with testicular cancer.  A few of the well-respected organizations that have spoken out about the problems with these chemicals include the President’s Cancer Panel, International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, The Endocrine Society, and the March of Dimes (the nonprofit devoted to health of moms & babies).

 

 

5.     You’re the mom. You’re probably the lone soul looking out for your family’s health. You’ve said or thought “better safe than sorry” so many times you’re sick of yourself. Why stop now? Avoiding toxic chemicals where we can, in our homes, and on our bodies is a cautious, common sense way to go. People wanting to conceive, pregnant moms-to-be, developing babies, children and teens are all especially vulnerable to the hormone-disrupting chemicals often in conventional products – so we really want to make sure moms have this on their radar. Be a good role model. Stand with science. Show off to your kids how on the ball you are. Let’s make these toxic chemicals known to our kids as the health hazards they are.

 

 

Detox your personal care cache, and you can keep all kinds of nasties out of your bathroom products, off your skin, and really cut down your body’s exposure to toxic chemicals. Nontoxic is  safer. The right plant-based products give your skin valuable nutrients and vitamins that the chemical-soaked stuff never can. Get ready for new, better, beautiful.

 

 

Kim Nguyen and Margot Hawley are two skincare-obsessed Palo Alto moms working to spread the word about healthy personal care products, and the founders of beginswithskin.com, their antidote to the unruly world of skin care shopping.  They take the mystery and confusion out of finding the right natural skin care products for your skin type by doing all the research and testing so you don’t have to.

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Are You a "Good Enough" Parent?

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Sunday, April 8, 2018

What makes the job of being a parent so exhausting for so many of us? We love our children deeply, we cherish the connection and moments of joy that come from our special and unique families. Yet our children can push our buttons, frustrate us, and bring us to a level of anger that is often surprising and guilt producing. I believe much of this comes from our unrealistic expectations of ourselves and of our children. How do we better align our expectations with reality? This is a tall order! Here are some reminders that might help in those moments of parenting burn-out:

  • Children need to constantly test limits and boundaries in order to learn and grow. Their rude, or defiant, or generally unpleasant behavior is not because you are a bad parent. Remind yourself that they are doing their job—and yours is to be firm and stay calm when they are not!

mom with kids

  • Children are bottomless wells when it come to attention—and will engage in any behavior necessary to get your attention when they feel disconnected. Find small moments to give undivided attention each day, and provide opportunities for them to be helpful and to feel competent.
  • Children do not like to be told what to do, and would rather play than do just about anything else. Create routines that make their lives very predictable, so that completing tasks becomes rote behavior, and gives them a sense of independence and accomplishment.
  • Parents have lots to do, much to worry about, and many of us are feeling highly anxious about the future of our communities and our country. Put away your technology after work (at least until the kids are in bed). Take vacations from news and social media, exercise, spend time outdoors and with friends, so that you model healthy living for your children.
  • Most importantly, remind yourself on a daily basis that you are a “good-enough” parent. Your children will make lots of mistakes and so will you. When you find yourself in negative patterns and endlessly recurring hassles, or you are feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities of parenthood, seek support and guidance from Parents Place or other resources that might be available. This is a gift that you and your family deserve, and will increase your enjoyment of daily life immeasurably.

Karen Friedland-Brown, MA, is the Director of Parents Place on the Peninsula.

posted with permission from Parent's Place

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From the PAMP Vault: Mommy, Can We Send Baby Back Now

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Tuesday, April 3, 2018

I thought I had dodged a bullet when my second son was born and my first seemed to fall in love with him right ‘out of the box’, so to speak. The baby was doted on, squeezed, admired, snuggled and generally adored by my older son. I was relieved…I had done something right, clearly! Maybe following all the advice to pay lots of attention to my oldest child, to include him in caring for the baby, to try to be extra empathetic and loving had paid off?

Well, it did to a certain extent. He was prepared to be indulgently kind to this interloper for at least…oh…6 months or so. And then it was time for this fun toy to be returned. Time’s up, guarantee is about to expire — mom, can we return him now and get some Legos instead?

I don’t know if the little one went from ‘baby’ (another species) to ‘actual child’ (direct competition) at around the time the tide turned. My older child would run past where the little one was sitting and attempt a swift kick as he passed by. He got angry a lot, was defiant and generally out of sorts. He was certainly not happy about the baby anymore, and he didn’t seem too happy about anything else, either. I could see that something had changed, and that something different had to be done now.

Here are six steps I took that were the most effective: 

REALLY recognize what your older child is experiencing when you bring a new baby into their lives.
I know this is talked about a lot, but it’s not until we slow down and really let ourselves imagine it from our own adult perspective that we can help our children through this. Could we easily reconcile ourselves to the idea of our partners loving another partner as much they love us, with nothing being taken away from us? Would we welcome a new husband or wife for our partner, invite them to share our home and be impressed by their cuteness? Would we feel overjoyed by every new moment of delight they bring to our partner, relishing their joy and not feeling secretly abandoned and vengeful? When we truly recognize what we’re asking our children to handle, it is pretty sobering. Being able to get through the day with a smile on their faces starts to seem impressive. 

Understand that the hardest part for your child is that they think you don’t KNOW how they feel about the interloper.
They know you want them to love the baby, but their feelings are mixed. They have some that aren’t so rosy towards the baby, quite frankly, but because you seem to really love this strange new being they think you can’t possibly KNOW about those feelings. The sensation of keeping the darkness all hidden inside is agony for them. Allowing them to release those feelings, to show you and tell you, is a HUGE relief for them.

The best way I found to do that was to take some time while the baby was sleeping and play a game with my oldest son that encouraged him to express it. I used an old teddy bear, but you could use any doll or creature that has ‘human’ qualities. The game was ‘If I had a little brother, I would like to do THIS to him’. My son was not comfortable with ‘If this was YOUR ACTUAL little brother’ (although some kids would be) so I shifted it to be more neutral. Sometimes I would pretend the bear was my real little brother — Uncle Charlie — which also worked. And then you steel yourself for WHATEVER gets done to the bear, and go for it. That bear got drop kicked around the room, pummeled, jumped on, strangled, thrown, yelled at, squashed — and that was just by me. Uncle Charlie was clearly still a thorn in my side. But the idea is that you make it OK that these difficult feelings exist. You laugh, encourage them to show more and more things they might want to do to the bear, enjoy the game…and your child starts to feel the release of the pressure of keeping it all hidden. They will understand instinctively that you are not saying that it’s fine to do this to the baby, but rather that you’re saying ‘I see how upset you feel inside, and I love you and accept you completely’.

I found at first that my child wanted to play this game several times a day, then fewer and fewer times as the feelings all got released. He became happier and calmer pretty quickly, and his need to express his anguish on the actual baby diminished rapidly. The key was not so much the DOING of the violent actions, but the SHOWING them to me and having me love him anyway. His heart was relieved, and so was mine. A relieved heart is a much happier one, and a happier heart is a lot nicer to a baby interloper than a burdened and guilty one.

To that end, if at other times your older child expresses negative feelings towards the baby, try your hardest not to contradict them, or persuade them against it. Saying ‘oh, but you LOVE the baby don’t you?’ is just another moment where they might feel like you can’t possibly know how they really feel. Try to remain neutral and mild in your response…’yeah, it can be hard to share your stuff’, or ‘yeah, I didn’t much like it when my younger brother cried either’, or ‘yeah, it’s funny how we can really like someone sometimes, and then other times not so much’.

Minimize opportunities for problems.
Of course, if your older child still wants to express their feelings physically on the baby once in a while, you keep the baby safe before anything else. Don’t leave them alone together, don’t give your older child any opportunity to experience themselves in that painful way. Watch their interactions carefully, and be ready to step in at a moment’s notice to diffuse a situation. If you miss the moment and something happens, step in unequivocally and remove the baby from harm — but yelling at your older child, lecturing them or admonishing them is counter-productive. It is YOUR job to keep the baby safe, not theirs. Make it clear the action was unacceptable, but be calm and clear, not emotional and angry. Give them many, many opportunities to experience themselves as successful around the baby and cherished by you.

Let them know the things you enjoy about them at the age they are right now.
My son really loved to hear about the ways in which being a big kid was cool. I made a point of saying ‘I’m so glad that you’re old enough to come and do (whatever it was) with me now,’ or ‘I’m really happy you’re not a baby anymore and we can chat about things and understand each other!’ All little reminders that he had value to me just as he was, and in ways the baby couldn’t even begin to compete with.

Do not require your older child to share their stuff or their space.
Obviously everybody has a different living environment, but even in a tiny one-bedroom house I was able to make sure my older son had an area that was just HIS. He didn’t ask to have this other person in his life, so I never required him to act like he did. If he had toys he didn’t want the baby to touch, we put them in his special zone. In fact, we had one of those baby containment gate things, and we used it to make a play area for my older son. He would sit inside with his things, and the baby was free to roam around outside! Because we were kind with him about this, he became much kinder to the baby, and much more willing to share because he didn’t feel powerless over his things. 

My younger son turned out to be very respectful and thoughtful of other people’s possessions as a result, and wouldn’t dream of using something that belonged to someone else without their permission. He wasn’t intimidated into it, he just saw every day that we cared to make sure that everyone got to be in charge of what was theirs, including him. He’s happy to share most of the time because sharing was modeled to him as something that you get to choose when you feel good about it, not because you’re forced to.

Express UNCONDITIONAL love.
Showing and telling your child how much you love them WHEN THEY’RE NOT DOING ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR goes an amazingly far way with them. Letting them know that they’re lovable to you just because they exist is a healing balm. They understand from that that they don’t have to do or be anything other than they are in order to be loved by you, and that, conversely, your love is there no matter what they do. So, take a moment when you’re just hanging out and nothing much is happening to say ‘I am SO glad that I have you in my life!’ or something that feels authentic and true to you. They’ll feel the resonance and it will make both of your hearts sing.

So there we have it. I discovered that by allowing all of my son’s negative feelings towards the baby (in a safe way), he was freed up to have more positive ones. And not forcing him to share made him more willing to. And being unconditionally loving did more than any praise of how ‘nice’ he could be to the baby. 

I am happy to report that my sons are now some of the closest siblings I know. People comment on their connection and the fun they have together, and although they occasionally drive each other crazy, they are bonded and happy.

Like any human being, children do best when their hearts are happy – their natural instincts are GOOD, and they desperately want to succeed at this thing called life. Given trust, love and support, we all do a whole lot better.

 

Terri Landey is co-founder of Bun and Bundle, offering prenatal and postpartum support for the whole family, including baby planning and postpartum doula services.

 

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Spring Fun Day at the Farm is Coming Soon!

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Spring has sprung! Days are getting longer and the weather is warming. For PAMP kids, it means more time outside and more fun in the sun.

PAMP is kicking off spring with its annual Spring Fun Day at the Farm. This year the event will be held on Saturday, April 21 from 10 am - 1 pm. 

Always held at Pastorino Farms, 12391 San Mateo Road in Half Moon Bay, come on out to ride a pony, pet furry farm friends, take a trip on the farm train, jump in the bounce house and enjoy the flower and gift shop all while spending time with other PAMP families and friends.

We’ll provide a selection of snacks – granola bars, fruit chews, cookies, crackers and chips – as well as bottled water, but encourage you to bring a lunch and relax at the Pastorino Farms picnic tables. It will be a fun-filled day for everyone.

As a must-see event, make sure to sign up for $10 per PAMP member family. Invite your friends too! Non-PAMP members can snag a spot for $25. Register today as spots fill up quickly and you won’t want to miss out!

Pastorino Farms is only 30 minutes from the Palo Alto/Menlo Park area. Come and enjoy all of the great activities and spend time with fellow PAMP members. The event starts at 10am, but you’re welcome to come up at any time and spend as much or as little time as you want. Children of all ages are welcome.

Want to get in for free? The best way to get in on the fun without paying is to volunteer. We’re looking for volunteers to help out at the event. Interested? Email volunteer@pampclub.org.


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8 Tips to Support Your Shy Child

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Monday, March 26, 2018
Updated: Friday, March 23, 2018

As a parent of a very shy child, I’ve worried that my daughter’s introverted personality will affect the way people see her, and might make them less likely to try to befriend her or engage with her. I worry others won’t see how amazing my kid is.

It’s been a challenge to figure out how to best support my shy child in a society that celebrates outgoing, extroverted people. I sometimes feel judged as a parent when she refuses to respond to others’ questions or comments, or won’t make eye contact despite teaching her manners. It’s taken a lot of effort and work to stop making excuses for her, to teach her the skills she’ll need in life, and to let her be the person she is without trying to make her into someone else.

Father and daughter give high 5

Author of books on childhood shyness, Michael Reist, states, “When parents or other adults make attempts to correct shyness, the child hears the message that he doesn’t fit in. Instead, we should be teaching him that it’s OK if he isn’t the same as everyone else.” He believes we should shift our focus away from trying to change a quiet child’s personality. Through altering the way we think about shyness, and teaching our children social skills, we can help them survive (and maybe even thrive).

Here are some tips for helping your shy child:

1. Avoid overprotection: Try not to “overprotect” shy kids; rather, provide them with plenty of opportunities to learn and practice social skills while offering them tools and strategies to manage their stress. For example, rather than letting them opt out of a loud crowded birthday party, perhaps you can arrive early and leave a little early—before things get really raucous.

2. Avoid labeling your child as “shy.” When you label your child as “shy,” they might start to act out the “shy” role without making an effort to change. Instead of labeling, try to describe your child’s behavior in other ways. For example, you can say, “Matthew is pensive and thoughtful,” or “Riley likes to observe what’s happening around him before joining in.”

3. Teach, model, and reward pro-social skills. You can use puppets, stuffed animals, action figures, or dolls to role-play social interactions. Have the dolls use specific phrases, such as “Hi, my name is …,” and “Can I play too?” And teach concrete skills, like taking deep breaths when they’re nervous. When you see your child attempting to engage others, point out her efforts and offer praise.

4. Facilitate making friends. Arrange play dates for him at home, where he feels comfortable and safe. During interactions, give your child the words he needs to talk with new friends. And you may not be able to leave your child to fend for himself on these playdates—get in the mix and offer prompts and support, such as, “Ask Johnny his favorite games to play.”

5. Set achievable goals: Set goals for your child for interactions and outings, such as to look at and smile at the waitress at a restaurant. Try to set goals that will be a challenge, but that she can manage. Reward her efforts to do so with a high five, a sticker on a rewards chart, or a treat after dinner.

 

6. Let your child know how awesome she is: Shyness can serve children well in some instances. Shy kids tend to be observant and perceptive, and more aware of their surroundings than their same-age kids. Make sure to point out their strengths, and work to build their social skills without trying to change them into someone they’re not.

7. Try using books: Books featuring characters struggling with shyness are a great way to normalize kids’ experiences and teach new ways to overcome their challenges. Here are some reading suggestions:

  1. I CAN Believe in Myself, by Miriam Laundry. It’s about a girl whose shyness impedes her ability to engage with kids in school.
  2. Buster the Very Shy Dog, by Lisze Bechtold. A great story for dog-loving kids about a pooch working to overcome shyness and deal with other animals’ bossiness.
  3. Maya’s Voice, by Wen-Wen Cheng. Great for children who struggle to talk and find their voices
  4. Too Shy for Show-and-Tell, by Beth Bracken. About a little guy who’s too shy to participate in show-and-tell and how he overcomes this fear.
  5. Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverted Kids, by Susan Cain. A book for parents of shy children.

8. Know when to seek help: If your child’s shyness is impeding their ability to attend school and learn, they’re too anxious to talk to anyone outside of the house, or they simply seem unhappy, it might be time to seek outside help.

 

Alyse Clayman, LCSW, is the Children’s Clinical Director at Parents Place in San Rafael, CA. She provides consultation and therapy to families and children of all ages.

Posted with permission from Parent's Place

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Part 2: Getting Kids Ready in the Morning: One of the Worst Parts of the Day!

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Monday, March 19, 2018

By Laura Myszne,

Certified Adlerian Parenting Education & Classroom Management Mentor,

Owner of Loving Boundaries, a space where you will find immense relief for your parenting and teaching concerns.

February, 2018.



In my previous post, "Getting ready in the morning: one of the most dreaded parts of the day", I addressed the challenge of actually getting our children out of bed. Now, it's time to get them out of the house.


"Eat, please". "Brush your teeth". "Put your shoes on". "Backpack!", "Let's go!!!"


How many times a morning do you say these sentences? Sometimes, innumerable. Mornings, in most households, seem to stretch and streeeeetch and never come up to the point were everybody is actually ready to leave. Parents get upset and so do kids.


It is time for us to stop this.

We all deserve a peaceful morning.

Are you in?


To do so, we need to first acknowledge that most kids (and grown ups) don't like to be in a rush in the morning. We therefore need to organize our morning in such a way that both children and parents have enough time to do what they need to do, without rushing. Once we've secured this, it's time to "get them moving".



Use humor and your best positive attitude.


Getting upset at our kids for not moving fast enough - a very natural reaction most of us have - tends to just make things worse. The whole house atmosphere turns to be unpleasant and in most cases, we gain nothing other than starting the morning in a bad mood. A really bad one.


Using humor and a great attitude as a way to get our children moving, is an effective option to get things going without damaging our relationship with our children or securing a bad mood for the rest of the day. For example, instead of using sentences like "Did you brush your teeth?! Got brush your teeth! How many times do I need to tell you to brush your teeth!?", you might want to try sentences like: "Hmmm! I can tell that your teeth need some extra TLC this morning. Go brush them before all the bacteria eat them up!" (using your best smile and positive attitude), or "C'mon Jonny, go brush your teeth and when you are ready, there's a huge hug here waiting for you", or you could even use your best silly face and say something like "Sarah, your teeth need yet to be brushed. Go for it?"


Children (and adults) tend to resist orders but to cooperate with loving, positive, even funny requests. Try to avoid imparting commands and shift to humor and a great attitude. They work like magic.


Disclosure: Loving, positive, funny requests will do their job once you've established a good relationship with your child. If you find your loving, positive, funny requests not working, this might be a great opportunity to work on your relationship with your children.



Be assertive and keep your word.


Loving, positive, funny requests are awesome but sometimes not enough. That's when assertiveness comes to the game. Let's say we've done our best to guide our child through her morning "duties" and she is still not cooperating. That's when, still with our most loving and calm voice, we become assertive. At this point, a good option is to physically walk with your child to the room where she needs to perform her next task (bedroom, bathroom, kitchen), remind her of it and leave. Hopefully, this will be enough to get her going, but, if after this you see that she is still not cooperating, you can proceed to be even more assertive and explain what the consequences of not doing what she needs to do, will be. For example: "Honey, we need to leave in five minutes. You still have time to eat your breakfast if you want. If you choose not to, you'll have to go to school hungry. Remember that your next meal is only in x hours from now" or "Kiddo, you have one minute to put your shoes on. If by the time that we need to leave they are not on, you'll have to take them with you and put them on in the car/bus", or "Pete, I see that you are still in your pajamas and in three minutes we are leaving. Are you sure you want all of you classmates to see you in your pajamas?"


The tricky part here is now for the adult (aka you and me) not to engage in a negotiation and to keep his word. If I told my child that she only has five minutes to have breakfast and she chooses (yes, she chooses) not to have it, then I need not to pack it for her to go, allow her to take it with her or give her a treat for the ride. Would I choose to do so (again, yes, I choose), I'd be breaking my word, losing trustworthiness (in the eyes of my child if I don't keep my word for this I won't do it also for things that are important to her) and giving my child an excellent reason not to have her breakfast on time tomorrow either. Why would she, right?


Same thing with the shoes or the pajamas. If the child is not ready on time, she should leave the house anyway. Shoes can be taken in her hand (not the parent's) and so do clothes. It is important here not to allow extra time in the car to put shoes or clothes on. If we do, we would be incurring in the same mistake described above, regarding breakfast. Harsh? Well, I don't know what's worse, if to have a yucky morning every day, the two of you, or to teach a lesson once. Believe me, it will be just once. No child likes to walk into school in their pajamas, with their shoes in their hands or be hungry, and if they do, then it's worth checking for the underlying challenge that's behind this.


Children need and love boundaries. They need both to survive and succeed.


I hope you've found this article helpful and I look forward to hearing from you. Feel free to email me at laura.myszne@gmail.com

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Jump into Spring is this Sunday!

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Monday, March 19, 2018

It’s time to Jump Into Spring with PAMP! This popular event combines a variety of different bounce houses and indoor activities, including a special puppet show, for those who don’t want to play in the inflatable structures.

PAMP’s Jump Into Spring will be on Sunday, March 25 at the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center, 700 Alma Street in Menlo Park. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and for only $10 per PAMP member family – you can also bring non-PAMP member friends for $25 – kids can jump until their heart’s content outside.

There will be a puppet show provided by Treehouse Learning and it will run from 10 am- 11 am.  Please be aware that the bounce houses will not open until 11 am and will continue until 1 pm. If you are not interested in the puppet show, you are welcome to show up later and just enjoy the bounce houses.

Indoors, our sponsors will have crafts and activities set up.  Sponsors this year will be La Petite Baleen, Little Bytes (pediatric dentistry) and Party 630.

Similar to last year, PAMP will provide light snacks for nibbling, but families are welcome to bring their own food to the event. This event will likely sell out so register now to avoid missing all the fun!

As a PAMP subsidized event, no refunds will be issued and walk-ins are discouraged. Walk-ins will not be eligible for the PAMP discount. The price of $10 if for a family of maximum 4 people.  A charge of $5 per extra family member will be collected at the door.

Hope to see you there on Sunday!


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