March 16, 2021 by Michelle Vinson 0 Comments

Calming Down is Hard To Do

Tantrums and meltdowns are high-stress moments for children and caregivers alike. As grown-ups, we want to help children process and control their strong emotions so moments like these occur less frequently. 

But before we can start teaching self regulation — helping children manage their emotions and behaviors — we need to lay the groundwork. Remember: Young children just recently learned to walk, talk, and control their bladders. Jumping right to managing emotions can be a heavy lift! 

Here are three important prerequisites that we should work on before helping children learn to control their emotions: 

  1. Put Safety First

Before children are able to self-regulate, they need to feel safe both physically and emotionally. They need to know that their grown-ups support them and are going to listen to them and protect them. You help your child feel emotional security by sticking to a daily routine and by building time into your routine to listen and talk. Knowing that they have your attention gives children a sense of security. It also helps them feel safe to talk about feelings and gives you an opportunity to validate their thoughts and feelings. When you intentionally give affection and praise and even say the words “you are safe,” it helps children feel secure. It seems simple, but it’s powerful, especially after big emotions or moments of uncertainty. 

  1. Build Connections

It’s important to build a positive relationship, rooted in trust, before attempting to teach children more advanced skills. You do this by being present and making eye contact; giving a high five or a hug; and playing! When you play together, let your child take the lead. Even 10 minutes a day can make a big difference. This Connected Families video: Spending Special Time With Your Child has more tips on building connections. 

  1. Lead the Way

You’re a role model to the children in your life; they will mirror what they see YOU do. When they see you face frustrations and work through them in a positive way, they learn how to do it themselves. You don’t have to give a child a play-by-play of a frustrating work call, but you can talk to them, in age-appropriate ways, about how you feel and what you do about it. Having a meltdown from feeling strong emotions is expected from young children, and we can help them process their feelings by modeling self-awareness and showing them how to express feelings in healthy ways.

  1. Introduce the Feelings

Before a child can regulate emotions, they have to know how to identify those feelings with words — from happy to sad to angry. Talk about what our faces look like when we’re sad or what our bodies feel like when we’re mad. (This Connected Families video, Labeling and Acknowledging Emotions, will help learn more about the feelings.) 

After you build trust, help your child feel safe, and guide them in understanding emotions, then you get to work with him or her learning to manage emotions — especially the BIG feelings that can lead to tantrums, meltdowns, and stress. 

March 16, 2021 by Dana Stewart 0 Comments

How to Help the Kids in Your Life Grow Self-Esteem and Confidence

All parents want their children to feel good about themselves, but what if they don’t? 

Don’t worry — not feeling confident at times is normal for many children. There are many strategies that parents can use to help their children understand themselves and build confidence. 

As a teacher and a mom, this question about confidence reminds me of the story of a student in my 2s classroom years ago. He was really sad at drop-off most mornings and quiet and withdrawn throughout the day. His mother had explained to me that, while her older son had been totally ready for school at 2 years old, she wasn’t sure that her “baby” could manage it. She had resorted to bribing him each morning with a mini marshmallow so she could leave the classroom without a major meltdown, which left him immobile, on the rug, working hard at containing his two-year-old sadness. I guessed that her uncertainty had affected his confidence in the classroom.

Through trial and error, I discovered that I could coax him out of his shell with puzzles. Every day, I greeted him with a new “tricky” puzzle that he would quickly solve. As his confidence in the classroom grew, so did his ability to say goodbye to Mom with confidence and enjoy his day at school. As it turned out, the key to cheerful mornings for this little guy was linked with self-confidence. 

For young children, a strong sense of self contributes to self-esteem and confidence. Children who feel worthy and capable perform better in school, and are more accepting of people who are different from themselves. 

Here are three ways you can help to boost your child’s self-confidence.

  1. Your love and attention builds identity and confidence. YOU are your child’s first and best “identity teacher.” From their earliest moments of life, babies are learning about who they are through their interactions with you and  the other grown-ups in their lives. Waves, big smiles, and loving cuddles teach babies that they are valuable, important, and worthy of love. This works for big kids (and grown-ups!) too. Find time to make them feel like they’re the most important person — give them your undivided attention, listen respectfully to their ideas, and sprinkle compliments liberally. 
  2. Let them be great. People develop confidence in their abilities through experience. Help your child find something that they’re great at, and give them many opportunities to succeed. Like my little friend from class years ago, that feeling of, “I can do it!” will ripple into other areas of life.
  3. Help them feel safe and welcome. Help your child find spaces where he or she can feel a sense of belonging. It may be with your extended family, at a religious or cultural organization, on a sports team or after school club, or simply with other kids on your block. Being with a group who is “just like me” (in  some ways, not necessarily in every way) will help validate that part of your child’s identity.

March 16, 2021 by admin 0 Comments

Covid’s Impact on Children


Sixty-one percent of American parents are concerned about their children’s social development during Covid-19. This is approximately the same as the percentage of parents who are worried that their children’s education will be negatively affected (62%). (Source: National Parents Union and American Enterprise Institute, June 2020)

“We are facing a national mental health crisis that could yield serious health and social consequences for years to come.” (Source: American Psychological Association, Oct. 2020)

Nearly 93% of Households With School-Age Children Report Some Form of Distance Learning During COVID-19 (Source: Census)

61% of U.S. households with children report facing serious financial problems during COVID-19. (Source: NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll, September 2020)

Nearly half of parents (48%) said the level of stress in their life has increased compared with before the pandemic. More than 3 in 5 parents with children who are still home for remote learning (62%) said the same. (Source: American Psychological Association: Stress in America: One Year Later, a New Wave of Pandemic Health Concerns, March 2021)

The Economic Impacts of Learning Losses by Eric A Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann (Source: Economic Impacts of Covid-19, OECD, November 2020)

“Children and adolescents are more likely to experience high rates of depression and most likely anxiety during and after enforced isolation ends.” (Source: The Impact of Social Isolation and Loneliness on the Mental Health of Children and Adolescents in the Context of COVID-19, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, November 2020)