EduKids Early Childhood Education Centers

Archive for September 2010

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

I was talking with a few families recently and our discussion turned to “lovies”. The topic typically surfaces and the questions are always the same….What can you do about children crying for worn blankets or insisting on their ratty little toy to hold on to?  When do they grow out of this? 

 Here are my answers to these questions…. 

  • Respect a lovie and allow children to find security and comfort in a little piece of home.  Children in school and child care are in high demand “Group” environments.   Groups by definition are “more than one.”  They share space, attention and time with other children. While this is fine and a wonderful part of life, children also need personal space and sense of autonomy.  Lovies can provide this. 
  • Lovies are concrete, individualized and cherished bits of security.  They are bits of family children can hold on to, they are something that no one else can take from you without your permission, they can be tiny scraps of material or gigantic (an adult’s perspective) stuffed animals.
  • Infants are often swaddled in the same blanket which is then used for naps as a toddler.  Preschoolers and young school-agers are now attached and intentionally look for that blanket which has provided years of security, comfort and consistency.  Changes, stress or illness will often see children reattach to old security systems or hold onto a lovie with focused attention.  They are looking for what they know and what they can count on.

Separation usually starts when an older child will keep a lovie in their room or only take it in the car. If you have a school ager that needs their lovie, sew a scrap in their backpack.  They will know when enough is enough.  When they are ready they will leave their lovie be.  It will only show up in family pictures and fond memories. 

There is a great picture of a dear friend of mine when he was little.  He wore his blanket so thin that his mom made a poncho out of it. 

Now that’s my kind of mom. 

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director 

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Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

As parents, we’ve all been in situations similar to these…

Your child screams when you leave him with a babysitter. Your toddler is starting in a childcare center and clings to your leg sobbing as you try to walk out the door. Your young school-ager announces that she doesn’t like kindergarten and won’t go back. She then wails and throws up the next morning to make her point.

Some ideas that work:

  • Keep your anxiety to yourself. Children will follow the lead of their parent – most often their mom. This is called “social referencing”. Even the youngest infant will pick up on feelings of stress or calm from an adult. Your children will use you as a reference to gauge their feelings and reactions. If you are nervous and fretful about a separation they will be too.
  • Be totally secure in the separation and who you are leaving your child with.
  • Talk through the process with toddlers and older children. Use positive words and gestures. Offer pleasant anticipation of what they will be doing and the fun they will have. Respectfully reassure older children that a new routine or event is positive and will be successful.
  • Familiarize your child with a new person, place or activity they will be involved with. A babysitter should come and play before being left alone with your child. Meet a teacher together and visit a center or school together before formal attendance. Take pictures of the place they will be a part of before they go. Keep it on the fridge and talk about it. Is there a buddy they will be with?
  • Keep separation simple. Although it is tempting to cling to a screaming baby and stay with a crying toddler or preschooler, a routine for their entrance and your exit is truly the best for your child and you. School attendance is not an option. Therefore, routine is key to success.
  • Stay together in simple ways when apart. Make sure your family picture is part of your little one’s new environment. Keep a little scarf or sweater of yours in their cubby or backpack (smell is a powerful sense of recognition). Write a little love note for your older child’s lunchbox.
  • Confidently reassure them that you will be back home when left with a babysitter, you will get them at the end of their program day and you will be so glad to see them at the end of their school day.
  • Take a breath! Separation anxiety is real and it affects not just your child, but you. It’s hard to leave someone we love so much. But they will be fine – really. And so will you.

“Why are you still here?” my 9-year-old nephew asked my sister when she dropped him off at a friend’s birthday party.

She cried for a week.

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Playground Politics is the title of one of my favorite books.  The author, Stanley Greenspan, M.D., is a well-known, well read and well-respected authority on child development.  He writes that there are politics on the playground – and any parent that has taken their child to slide down the slides, swing on the swings and navigate the multiple offerings of an active playground would agree!  Having fun in a community or school playground requires compromise, competition and compassion — politics.

Navigating and Negotiating

  • Be sure playgrounds you take your child to have equipment and areas that are designed for their age.  High slides require independent climbing, the ability to balance, maneuver and sit on a small platform and then let go to propel your body down a narrow, slippery, flat tube to fall onto the ground.  This is a blast and great fun if the slide is proportioned in height and width to your child.
  • Children can’t judge distance in front or back of swings when they are in motion.  You have to do it for them.  Swings move your child’s body through space like nothing else!  This is a wonderful and exhilarating feeling.  Young children need high attention to space, wait time and closing time on swings.
  • Climbers are probably the highest profile equipment in a playground.  With abandon children will run to a climber figuring out how to use it, what they are good at and how fast they can get to each piece of it!  They pay little attention to who else is on a climber, rarely wait for their turn on a bridge or step area and never want to get off.  It is often easy to lose sight of a toddler on a busy climber.  Stay close to it at all times when your child is on a climber!

Threats and Theatrics
It is easy to get into a power struggle at a playground.  Older children don’t pay attention to safety and younger ones are often following right behind them.  In response to this parents are often heard saying: “We are leaving right now if that doesn’t stop.”  This comment is usually followed by a crying toddler, a preschooler who continues to run or a young school ager who argues about it.  Don’t argue or make threats. Children didn’t get to the playground on their own.  You invited them and you took them.  Plan ahead so that you have lots of time on the playground.  Bring lunch and water bottles.  Have Kleenex and band aids.  Let children bring friends.  Always keep an eye on them.  Teach them to be safe.

Neighborhood playgrounds are the beginning of your child’s active entrance to trial & error, identification of successes & challenges, selection of “place in the pack” and feelings of power.  They will challenge themselves and each other. 

Muscles are strong, attention is focused.  Minds & bodies are active.  Time and energy is well spent.

This is playground politics at its best!  Let them run and have fun!

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director


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