I recently gave a new workshop on using media with young children. Naturally I was very happy to get this post from Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen in my email this morning titled Limit Screen Time. The article has some great tips AND apparently a NEW book out on using screens responsibly with young children! You can find the original article here
Limit Screen Time
For more on screen time and how to find a balance that works for your family, check out the new ebook, “Help! My Child is Addicted to Screens (Yikes! So Am I.)” by Jane Nelsen and Kelly Bartlett.
Children are now faced with increasingly more options for screened entertainment, leaving families disconnected and disengaged. Learn Positive Discipline tools that will help you and your children connect more with each other and find a balance in your family’s media use.
There was once a segment on Oprah in which families where challenged to give up electronics for a week, including TV. It was interesting to watch how difficult it was for parents, as well as their children, to give up all of their screens. One scene was particularly difficult to watch. A five-year-old boy could hardly stand it to give up playing video games. His temper tantrums were quite dramatic. His mother shared that she was embarrassed when she realized he had been playing video games for five hours a day. The good news was that after the whole family went through “media withdrawal,” they discovered how to replace screen time with family activities that increased their family closeness and enjoyment. Take a look at this video from the Today Show about one family who gave up all screens for six months.
Would it surprise you to know that 2-5-year-olds watch more than 32 hours of TV a week? (Nielsen) Children ages 8-18 spend more than 53 hours a week online and almost 8 hours of media use each day. (Keiser Family Foundation) In today’s digital world, families are exposed to more screen time than ever before. Smartphones, tablets, YouTube and the ever-popular game, Minecraft are just a few of the many sources of electronic connection that vie for time and attention from both parents and children.
But what does this mean? Is it good? After all, aren’t children who grow up using electronic media learning skills that will keep them connected and current in in a technologically driven world? Or is too much technology a bad thing? Does it prevent kids from learning important interpersonal skills like live conversations and social graces?
There is research that demonstrates how the brain develops differently with excessive screen time, so it is true that screen time does affect a child’s development. But my guess is that you don’t need research to know that your children are on their screens too much each day; you know this from your own wisdom and intuition. Maybe you’re not sure what to do about it, or you’ve avoided doing something about it because…
- You don’t like to admit that it is nice to have your children so easily entertained so you can have some time to yourself.
- It involves such a power struggle to get the kids to disconnect from their devices. It is easier to just let it go.
- You don’t realize that screen time is addictive.
- You justify it with the benefits technology brings: “Look at all the skills my child is learning.”
The key lies in finding a balance. Yes, kids are keeping up with technology and learning new skills that will help them if their lives. And yes, too much media use does prevent them from becoming proficient in person-to-person communication skills. What you can do to help your kids find that balance of screen time with “real life” is to work together to set limits around daily media use…including your own.
Try these Positive Discipline tools to help manage your family’s screen time so it doesn’t manage you:
- Have a family meeting. Get the whole family involved in a plan for reducing screen time. Part of the solutions should include things to do in place of screen time. It is more difficult to give something up when you don’t have plans for what else to do.
- Create a “parking lot” for electronics—have a basket or charging station in a central location in the house at which family members “park” their electronics during certain times of day.
- Establish new routines. Start with one time of day to be screen free (such as dinner) and periodically add on other times of day.
- Stay close with your child with special time. Children will listen to your limits about screen time when they feel understood and that you “get” them. Spend regular one-on-one time together to keep your relationship strong.
- Hold limits with kindness and firmness. Changing a screen time habit is hard; be ready for disappointment, anger, and sad feelings. Hold your limits by empathizing with a child’s feelings and sticking with the limit you’ve set.
– See more at: http://blog.positivediscipline.com/2012/04/limit-screen-time.html#sthash.RZhWfqjy.dpuf
This article is property of Positive Discipline.
Early Years Parenting does not claim ownership of the above mentioned article.
It is quite normal for most young children suck their thumb or use a pacifier. But when is it too much and how can we help our kids to stop this habit?
When does thumb-sucking start and stop?
Sucking is a normal reflex for young children. At 10 weeks your baby has already begun thumb sucking in the womb! Thumb-sucking is a natural way for babies and young children to soothe themselves when they feel stressed or anxious.
Most children out grow this habit on their own between the ages of 2 and 4. Usually by the time kids enter a school setting the habit stops because of peer pressure.
Keep in mind that even though your child has stopped sucking her thumb she may go back to doing it in time where she feels stressed or anxious.
When is thumb-sucking a problem?
Thumb-sucking is not usually a problem unless your child continues the habit frequently after the age of 4.
Thumb-sucking and pacifier use can also cause dental problems. If you notice your child’s upper front teeth tipping towards the lip this may be a concern. Talk with your dentist about your child’s dental health.
Your child may have started to feel embarrassed by thumb-sucking and may need your help in stopping the habit.
How can I help my child stop thumb-sucking?
- Ignore: sometimes children develop habits or behaviors to get their parents’ attention. If you notice that your child is sucking her thumb to get your attention it’s better to ignore that behavior. That way your sending your child the message that this behavior won’t get your attention and to try something else.Thumb-sucking usually goes away on its own and sometimes the less attention given to it the better to help children stop the habit.
- Positive reinforcement: Praise and encourage your child when she doesn’t suck her thumb. This shows your child what behavior is acceptable from her and that she can get your attention in this positive way.
- Find out the triggers: If your child is sucking her thumb as a way to cope with stress or anxiety you can identify those moments and help your child relax in other ways like offering a hug or talking with her to prepare her for the situation.If your child is sucking her thumb in moments where she is bored then keeping her occupied or using her hands in play can help discourage this habit and help her have fun as well.
- Gentle reminders: Sometimes your child may return to sucking her thumb out of habit. When this helps a simple reminder for her to stop is all that’s necessary.
What not to do:
We’ve talked about how to help your child stop thumb-sucking, however you should also keep in mind there are things to avoid when trying to stop this habit.
- Embarrassing or making your child feel guilty: Don’t try to use embarrassment as a way to stop this habit. This will only make your child feed bad about herself and more self-conscience. Avoid phrases like “be a good girl” or “stop being a bad girl” since these phrases talk about your child not the behavior itself.
- Punishment: Thumb-sucking can sometimes be a hard habit for children to stop. Young children especially find it hard to control their impulses for biological reasons. Therefor punishment for this kind of behavior is not very suitable and may just upset your child rather than stop the habit. In general positive reinforcement of accepted behavior can be more effective than punishment for unwanted behavior.
- Avoid placing bitter tastes on her finger or pacifier: A common method parents use to stop thumb-sucking is to place a bad taste like vinegar on the child’s fingers or pacifier. Avoid using these negative methods, in general positive reinforcement is a more effective method. As mentioned, most children outgrow this habit in their own time. If your child is sucking her thumb to self sooth when she feels stressed or when she is bored it is more effective to address the reason behind the behavior to stop it altogether.
I hope these tips are helpful. Remember to talk to your child about stopping the habit as well so she accepts your reminders and cues.
Remember not to worry too much about it, this is a habit most children experience and usually outgrow on their own at some point.
Zero to three
American Academy of Pediatrics
“mage courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Developing young children’s emotional security is a process that starts at birth. Even before we think they can realize their surroundings or have an opinion, babies are already learning about what they can expect from the world from the experiences they have. Babies learn to feel either secure or insecure in the world based on the relationships they have with the people who care for them. Babies who know they have an adult they can rely on for comfort and care are more likely to be secure unlike those who experience inconsistent or unresponsive care.
Why is it important to care about a child’s emotional security? Children’s social emotional state is connected to other important aspects of their lives, such as their ability to explore and learn. It also involves their ability to make friends, play and face difficult situation later in life.
What you can do:
Children who experience a pattern of responsive and consistent care from their parents and caregivers are more likely to develop a positive sense of self, of others and the world around them. They are then more likely to have self-confidence, trust others and explore and learn new situations. On the other hand, children who experience unresponsive treatment from parents and caregivers are likely to have behavior problems, act out and have feelings of mistrust and low self-esteem.
Here are some ways to help your child develop a positive feeling of emotional security.
Contrary to popular belief you can’t spoil a child by being responsive. It’s how you respond that makes a difference. Your baby is sending you signals and cues all the time. Take time to observe your baby and find out what she wants. Let your child know you see her cues for help and attention. Just by giving her attention that you know she needs something is a great first step. Next it’s important to respond appropriately to what she needs. Is she pointing to a toy to play with you? Is she hungry? Does she need to sleep? Does she need a hug?
Remember that no good comes from leaving a baby or young child “cry it out”. All young children have difficulty controlling their emotions your baby needs your help to calm down. Not responding to a cry sends a signal to your baby that she can’t count on the adults and caregivers around her. On the other hand when children feel understood and responded to they learn to develop trusting relationships and good self-esteem.
- Support your child’s development
Almost everything young children experience is new for them. That’s important to keep in mind when your little one is struggling to put on his jacket or spills while pouring his juice. These and many more are skills your little one needs to learn and learning never happens without mistakes. What’s important is that these mistakes are met with encouragement, positivity and a solution. Not criticism and punishment.
- Try to find a balance between giving your child independence and support. Your child needs to know you will be there when she needs help. Give him the space needed to explore new activities and places while letting him know you are there to support if things get too tough.
- Try not to be over intrusive with your child’s initiatives. Avoid taking over your child’s activity and being over involved. This will just push your child away from exploring new things.
- Letting your child do things on his own and learn through trial an error can help him feel more independent, self-reliant and confident in approaching new or tough situations.
- Communicate with your child
Communication is extremely important even with young children who can’t form full sentences of their own yet. While your child might not be able to fully express himself verbally, he can understand you very well. Let your child know what to expect to increase his feeling of security by communicating with your child and explaining things. Tell him why you will leave him at daycare? Mommy has to go to work. Where will you go? Mommy will go to work. When will you return? I’ll pick you up after snack time. Make sure to put your words in terms your child can understand and to stick to what you say! With repetition your child will develop a sense of trust and confidence.
- Mistakes are opportunities to learn
Remember that your child is experiencing things for the first time and has not yet mastered basic skills. How you respond is important to how your child views himself and his abilities. Mastering a skill can only come by practice. Give your child opportunities to do things on his own and be positive when correcting your child’s misbehavior or when offering your child help. This helps give your child a sense of confidence, positive self-esteem and encourages him to try again. The same applies when resolving conflict. Give your child a chance to explain, propose a solution and try it out. If it doesn’t work out then discuss why he thinks things went wrong and what he could do instead. It can be quite surprising the smart answers 3 and 4-year-old come up with once given a chance.
These are just a few ideas to help your child feel confident and emotionally secure. I hope they help you out in making your parenting experience as happy as can be.
Image from onemorephoto/flickr
As a parent, sex education is a conversation that you’d most likely try to avoid. If you’re a parent of a toddler or preschooler you may think that you can avoid this talk for at least a few years. This is not exactly true. Sex education can start at any age and at the pace your child sets with his curiosity and questions.
Sex education is important for children of all ages. Young children need to learn about their own bodies to help them feel comfortable with themselves, understand their feelings and protect themselves against unwanted touch. How he or she feels about sex and the body can have a lifelong effect into their sexual relationships as grownups. Adults who are confident and knowledgeable about their bodies and their sexual needs tend to lead a healthier sex life and that this infrastructure is placed throughout childhood.
Introduce your child to his body through everyday activities like bath time or diaper changing by teaching your child the proper names for his or her sex organs. Teach your child that no one (or only certain people like mommy or daddy) are allowed to touch the private parts of his or her body and to tell you if someone tries to touch them. Start at a young age and add it to your regular instructions with your child. Don’t emphasize these instructions with an exaggerated sense of urgency or anxiety since that may cause your child to feel guilty or fearful of telling you if he or she does encounter that situation.
Children under 4 are naturally curious about their and other people’s bodies. At around 3 years, children start noticing that boys and girls have different genitals and can often be seen playing “doctor” to examine each other’s bodies. This form of exploration is very different from adults’ sexuality and is harmless when only young children are involved but you can choose to set the limits you see fit. When reminding your child that certain parts of his body are for him alone and not for others to touch, try to remain calm but firm when sending your child the message. If your child feels like he or she has done something really bad it may cause feelings of shame. He or she may start feeling guilty about these natural feelings of curiosity and try to explore without getting caught.
Some examples of common sexual behavior from children under 4:
■ Exploring, touching, rubbing or showing private parts, in public and in private
■ Trying to touch mother’s or other women’s breasts
■ Taking off clothes and being naked or trying to see others while they are naked
■ Asking questions and talking about their own—and others’—bodies and bodily functions to adults and other children their own age
When your child asks questions about his or her body or even your own don’t feel embarrassed, laugh or avoid the question. Take these questions seriously, your child looks to you for honest answers that teach him about the world. Give your child simple and age appropriate answers. There’s no need to go into a lot of detail, if your child wants to know more, he or she will ask.
Here are some examples of questions young children ask and how you could answer them
- Why doesn’t everyone have a penis? you can simply reply by saying that boys and girls have different bodies. Boys have a penis but girls don’t.
- Why is there hair down there? you can say that bodies change as we grow older and this is one of the changes.
- How do girls go “pee-pee”? Girls have a different part in their body than the penis that they can use to go to the toilet.
- Where do babies come from? this can be a tough question but try to give a simple and honest answer. You can start by saying that babies grow in a special place in the mommy’s tummy. If your child is still curious, you can elaborate that when a mommy and daddy love each other they come together and make a baby. Answer your child’s questions as long as she/he is asking them.
- Why do mommies have breasts but daddies don’t? “When boys and girls grow up to be big like daddy and mommy, their bodies change and become different”.You can point out other differences like daddy has a beard or moustache but mommy doesn’t. Let her know that you will answer any other questions or thoughts she has about this so she can come to you.
These conversations may feel awkward at time but remember that your child relies on you for information on how the world works.To make things easier you can try to include books in your regular reading which are designed specifically for teaching young children about their body and private parts. This can make approaching the topic much more natural and relaxed. It’s a good source of information for your child as well as showing you what is age appropriate information. Remember you are setting the stage for open conversation that will last till the critical years in adolescence and early adulthood when sexuality becomes a main topic for most young men and women.
Reading with your Child
My Body Belongs to Me by Jill Starishevsky
“The story is a simple scenario involving a gender neutral child who is inappropriately touched by an uncle’s friend. The powerful message really comes through when the youngster tells on the offender and the parents praise the child’s bravery. The last page shows a proud, smiling child doing a “strong arm” pose. The text assures them that it wasn’t their fault and by speaking out the child will continue to grow big and strong. It is a compelling and uplifting message.“
References and Helpful Resourcs