Preschoolers and Choices

[www.stockpholio.com]-8413684208_4 Rex Boggs I Luv Pencils

As a college professor, I chose what committees I happily wanted to serve on. If the college dictated which committees I must be on, I wouldn’t have been happy.

 

What about you? Do you serve well if you have choices or have choices made for you?

Our preschoolers are no different. They too like to have control. Giving them the power to choose encourages autonomy (independence) while minimizing conflict.

Choices Can Begin Early

Choices can actually begin when babies become toddlers. Simply asking, “Do you want to wear the blue shirt or the green shirt today?” as you hold up the items provides a choice. A toddler can point which empowers them.

This or That?

Limiting choices helps preschoolers select. Many restaurant menus offer innumerable choices that sometimes overwhelm adults. Instead of asking your preschoolers, “What do you want?” ask, “Would you like chicken bites or a grilled cheese sandwich? Do you want milk or juice?” If the preschoolers are verbal, have the children order their own food.

More Choices Examples

Here are some more ways to give children choices. Instead of asking, “Do you want to take a nap?” (Why do parents ask this?) Inquire, “Do you want to nap with your teddy bear blanket or your doggie blanket?” When it’s cold outside, don’t ask, “Do you want to wear your jacket?” ask, “Do you want to put your shoes on first or your jacket?” After preschoolers make decisions based on two choices, gradually increase the number of choices. For example, “Do you want raisins, a granola bar, or yogurt for snack?”

You’ll discover that your preschoolers do better with choices just like we do.

Book Review: The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: The 25 Year Landmark Study

divorce-book-cover

Twenty five years ago, the general population was told that children and teens adjust to divorce within five years after their parent’s divorce. The controversial, New York Times Bestselling book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: The 25 Year Landmark Study, came along in 2000 and tells a different story. A story that is difficult to process and challenges American society’s beliefs about divorce.

The Study

Wallerstein studied children of divorce since 1971, when she began observing some 131 children of divorced families in affluent Marin County, California. The original “children of divorce” study was funded by the Zellerbach Family Fund. Subsequent studies were done with the same children that ultimately led to The 25 Year Landmark Study.

The Book

The five-part, twenty-two chapter book presents a long-term perspective of children of divorce after they reach adulthood. “…when children of divorce become adults, they are badly frightened that their relationships will fail, just like the most important relationship in their parents’ lives failed,” (p. xiii).

College Students’ Responses

I used an article based on this book in my college Child Growth & Development course for small group discussions. The topic stirs up intense emotions alongside powerful opinions based on students’ personal experiences. The vast majority of students from divorced families agree with the authors’ long-lasting effects of divorce.

Interesting Chapters

Some interesting chapters include: Growing Up Is Harder; The Wages of Violence; Our Failure to Intervene; Undoing the Past; and Growing Up Lonely. Since divorce is so prevalent in our society, this is a well researched and documented book on the effects of divorce that should be read by anyone touched by divorce.

Book Information

The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: The 25 Year Landmark Study by Judith S. Wallerstein, Julia M. Lewis, & Sandra Blakeslee, New York: Hyperion, 2000. Available from Amazon.com hardcover $17.56; paperback $11.62; audio cassette $5.48; and Kindle $9.99.

Book Review: The Hurried Child: Growing up too fast too soon

The Hurried ChildOne of my favorite contemporary psychologists is David Elkind, author of the 25th Anniversary Edition of The Hurried Child. The message in his original book published in 1981 was, “Give childhood back to children.” As a child development specialist, his message echoes mine.

25th Anniversary Edition

Unfortunately, in his revised edition, the third edition, and now the 25th anniversary edition, the prefaces to his books sadly state that children are increasingly hurried. Interestingly, he includes all his previous prefaces in this edition.

First Edition

The first edition focused on the way parents, schools, and the media hurry children. Concerns about sports and schooling that he considered developmentally inappropriate, as well as the effects of sex and violence on television were key components of his book.

Technology & Hurry

The latest edition adds information on the effects of technology on children with the pervasiveness of our hurried society and media. “In many ways, our new technologies have radically transformed childhood, and not always for the better,” (p. viii). Other significant cultural changes include the focus on infant education, such as Baby Einstein and computer programs for infants and toddlers. Out of home child care for 12.5 million children under age five with an average of 36 hours per week is yet another cultural shift, as is the child as a consumer, and the technology empowered student.

Two Parts

This ten chapter book is dived into two parts: Our Hurried Children and Hurried Children: Stressed Children. Part one addresses the dynamics of how parents, schools, media and technology hurry children. Two excellent chapters in part 2 include Growing Up Slowly and How Children React to Stress.

Hurrying Children

Elkind’s documented so many significant cultural changes around hurrying children, he’s amended the closure from his first book to state, “In the end, a playful childhood is the most basic right of children,” (p. xvii). This book is counter culture to our hurried society which is exactly why I like it. Let’s give childhood back to our children. They deserve nothing less.

Book Information

The Hurried Child: Growing up too fast too soon by David Elkind, Ph.D., Da Capo Press, 2007, 25th anniversary edition. Available at amazon.com; paperback deluxe edition $12.42; Kindle $10.33.

 

To exercise or not to exercise?

5Bwww.stockpholio.com-5D-5032496501_4-Pilates-U-S-ArmyHas your doctor suggested you exercise for health benefits? Did your friend suggest exercising as a way to lose weight? Do kids ask you if you’re going to have a baby because of your tummy pouch?
Should I exercise today or not?
It’s a question you may ask yourself on a regular basis. Nah, not today, I tell myself. It’s raining. Maybe tomorrow…or if I’m lucky, maybe it will rain again. This week I spoke to a group of Mothers of Preschoolers in Tracy about The Physical Perspective. Most of us know that exercise is helpful to prevent weight gain, promote weight loss, or maintain our weight, but that doesn’t always do the trick. (1)

 

Some of us are motivated by health

Exercise reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. (1, 2) It also reduces stress, depression and anxiety. (3) Enhancing mental performance and work productivity (whether your “work” is in your home or outside your home) are other benefits. Exercise can even improve your skin.

But some of us are motivated by sex

The benefit the mothers’ giggled about is that 20 minutes of exercise a day improves your sex life. (3) Who knew that the Harvard School of Public Health studies such things? It’s true. Just 20 minutes/day Improves sexual response in women, leaves you feeling energized, and helps you feel more desirable.

Dr. David Katz from Yale adds, “Working out with your partner not only will allow you to spend time together, but it will trigger adrenaline & other feel-good hormones to get you in the mood.” (3)

I shared with the ladies, “If your husband finds out about this, chances are he’ll ensure you get exercise time in!” Maybe that will work…rain or not!

Sources:

1. Physical Activity and Health, www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/health/ Accessed 10/23/2013.

2. The Benefits of Physical Activity, Harvard School of Public Health, www.hsph.harvard.edu › The Nutrition Source. Accessed 10/25/2013.

 

Our Heart Attitude

5Bwww.stockpholio.com-5D-4266283238_3-Heart-seyed-mosafa-zamani

Perhaps you’ve grumbled about a co-worker, “She always has such a bad attitude. I can’t stand being around her.” Maybe you’ve been told, “You have a bad attitude,” or said to your teen, “When you change your attitude, I’ll talk to you.”

Last week I spoke to a group of moms. One segment of the talk was checking our heart attitude. I adapted these questions from a book, Checklist for Life for Moms.1

  • Do you recognize that your attitudes can have far-reaching effects on your family?
  • Do you acknowledge that a negative attitude can easily develop into a critical way of life?
  • Do you accept that you can choose your attitude toward a particular person or situation?
  • Do you consider that your thoughts & attitudes should reflect those of Christ?
  • Do you trust God to show you the positive qualities in those who usually engender negative feelings?
  • Do you appreciate the common ground that can be found in negative or difficult family members?

So how do you check your own attitude? How is your attitude critical to your daily life?

Source:

1. Checklist for Life for Moms, Thomas Nelson, 2005.

“Do you work?”

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Ever been at a social gathering and someone inquires, “Do you work?”

My gut reaction is, of course I work. Doesn’t every mom work? But I also know the inquirer really wants to know if I hold an important job that requires a college education and offers social status. Another variation is, “Where do you work?” In other words, do you work for a prestigious company and make six figures?

Medical forms also request work information. When I was a young mother I’d respond, “I don’t work.” But I didn’t like how it sounded. It felt like I was less than someone else, less important than a mother who holds a paying job outside the home. My husband and I made the choice for me to be the primary caretaker of our children. So why was I feeling so down when I was doing the most important job at that time?

When our girls entered school, I finally arrived at a creative answer that I felt proud to share. “I’m the Vice-President of the Fritzemeier Foundation.” When someone requests my work phone, I simply repeat my home number.

One day at medical appointment, the doctor inquired, “What’s the Fritzemeier Foundation? It sounds important.”

“You’re right. I’m impacting the entire next generation by training young people to live independently, develop job proficiency, demonstrate leadership skills, participate in civic responsibilities, and become life-long learners.”

“Sound interesting,” he nods.

“It’s pretty remarkable. No two days are ever the same. It keeps me on my toes.”

Back to work.

What’s Restorative Justice Anyways?

As I taught three-three hour sessions to educators in a local school district, many of you wondered, what is she talking about? I’m not familiar with this thought.
 
Definition & Goals
Howard Zehr describes the concept as, “Restorative justice is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible.”  1, p. 37 The three main goals of Restorative Justice include holding the offender accountable for his/her actions, increasing community safety for everyone, and building competency skills for those involved. 2, p. 6
                 
My interest?
Since this isn’t a topic I typically teach and write about, how did I get interested in restorative justice? My dissertation topic was how district attorneys decide to try a juvenile offender as an adult or as a juvenile. Throughout my research, I consistently read about how restorative justice holds offenders accountable for their actions and make things as right as possible. 
                 
Results
When restorative justice is used with first time offenders, they often don’t become repeat offenders. They realize that what they did caused harm to others and/or harm to property. Say for example, a young person is found doing graffiti. This adolescent would be responsible for paying for the paint and spending so many hours painting over graffiti in the community where he or she lives. Painting graffiti often loses its appeal when there are natural consequences. That’s what I love about restorative justice. It teaches consequences and how others have been hurt by the offender’s actions. The goal is to “make things right.”
                 
Cheating Students
As a college professor, I used restorative justice with my students who chose cheating. Because my students were future teachers, and California has a Code of Ethics for Educators, students write a Code of Ethics for themselves. When I discover they have cheated, we examine their code of ethics. Does cheating fit their code of ethics? No, it does not. The students receive a zero on the assignment or exam, but it goes beyond that. I want them to quit cheating.
                 
Holding Students Accountable
So I ask students if they’d be willing to notify all their teachers the following semester that they were involved in a cheating incident. They want to change their behavior and become ethical educators. Guess what happens when a student confesses to cheating? The professor watches them like a hawk. By the end of the semester, “cheating students” usually change their ways. This is way better than just getting a zero. Natural consequences and restoring correct behavior. A win-win for all involved.

Sources:

1. The Little Book of Restorative Justice, Howard Zehr, Good Books, 2002.

2. Implementing Restorative Justice, Jessica Ashley, & Kimberly Burke, State of Illinois [no date].


Accepted and Rejected Children in School-Age Friendships

gossip-girls-1-1066564-sby Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2014

The good news for parents is about 80% of children fall within the “accepted” children friendship group. (1) These children have at least one friend who protects them from experiencing long, lonely days in school.

The 20%

However, the remaining 20% are part of the “unclassifiable” group; they may have no friends at all. Psychologists are concerned about this bottom 20% on the social ladder. In this blog, we’ll look at the three sub-groups, typical friendships characteristics of each, and how parents can help these struggling children with friendships.

Neglected Children

The first sub-group is the “neglected” children who tend to be very shy, comprising five percent of children. (1) Although the group sub-title sounds negative, these children are very close to their families and typically good students. They simply don’t attract much attention from peers. Parents mainly need to accept their child’s social style which was explained in my last blog, Parents Can Help with School Age Child’s Friendships.

Controversial Children

The second sub-group, “controversial” children, also five percent, possess some traits peers like, but they also have annoying habits, such as: being a poor sport or poor hygiene. (1) These children need to be coached to give up annoying habits. Some parents think that by addressing these issues their children’s self-esteem will suffer, but these children are already suffering silently. If children knew how to change their behavior, they already would have.

Adult Guidance

They need adult guidance and specific strategies for improving these habits. It can begin with a simple observation question. “Today when you were shooting hoops, did you notice that your friend was angry when you kept hogging the ball? What can you do differently next time you shoot hoops?” When parents gradually and consistently work with children on specific annoying behaviors, most children will improve over time.

Rejected Children

The last sub-group, the “rejected” children contain 10% of children. (1) These children lack important social skills in a wide variety of areas and may not cooperate or know how to respond in certain situations.2 “Rejected children are either overly aggressive from the start and react to being rejected with more aggression, or they become depressed and withdrawn.” (1)

Missing Skills

Whereas the “controversial” children need some help on certain social issues, these children must be taught missing skills. (2) If not, this child will become a rejected adult. Maybe you know someone like this. They don’t pick up on social cues and are observed as “misfits” at work and in social settings.

Life Skills

Now is the time for parents and schools to help these children develop the all important life skill of making friends. School administrators are a great resource to find out about arranging friendship groups that help rejected children make friends. “Just 6 to 8 meetings of such a group can have a significant positive impact. Administrators should also implement anti-bullying policies and train teachers to create a socially safe environment in the classroom.”1 Rejected, angry children may need counseling.

Help Finding Friendships

Both “rejected” and “controversial” children need help finding friendships in other venues beyond the school day. Spending time neighbor kids or cousins is one way to begin. Children are in close proximity for observing interactions combined with “coaching” later. Joining a youth group, like Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, or 4-H are other possibilities. Community service projects are great ways for children with to learn social skills while helping others.

Extra Guidance

When your children are in the last two sub-groups, they will need extra guidance, direction and support. Overtime, your children will benefit from better friendships. Remember, “It only takes one real friend to alleviate the worse aspect of loneliness.” (1)

Sources:

1. Let’s Be Friends: Help your child’s friendships flourish — even in the face of difficulty. Scholastic Parent, www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/stages…/lets-be-friends. Accessed 10/17/2013.

2. Children’s Health: Peer Pressure, www.healthofchildren.com. Accessed 10/5/2013.

How About Some Positive Peer Pressure?

by Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013learning-the-rules-909359-s

Although the last five blogs highlighted parenting tips to help their school age children resist negative peer pressure, it is essential to remember that peer pressure isn’t always negative. Positive peer pressure assists school age children with reinforcing skills.

An important example is demonstrating appropriate social behaviors. You may hound your kids about their manner with little results, but when their friends make comments, they often listen.

“That’s gross.”

Take for example, body functions, like inappropriate belching. “That’s gross,” friends may groan. Or maybe your daughter doesn’t like washing her hair. A friend may comment, “You’re not going to the birthday party with your hair like that.” Of course not, and the hair is washed, styled and off they go.

Changing

Peers can also motivate positive personal changes. (1) Maybe your daughter is struggling with math. Her friend offers to lend her a hand. Or possibly your son wants to play a sport but hasn’t joined a team before. A friend may join the team with him. Perhaps your daughter is organizationally challenged. A peer can help arrange her school binder.

Belonging

Peers can rally round your child to maintain self-confidence and a sense of belonging and meaning. (1) Kids usually choose friends who are similar to them. This helps children feel like they belong to something beyond their families. Having good friends with similar values provides fun times together and helps children feel more confident.

Volunteering

Positive peer pressure can also influence peers to volunteer, work towards becoming more “green,” staying away from drugs and alcohol, and thriving in academics and goals. (1) Even amongst school age children, natural leaders will guide peers to make a difference.

Opportunities

Check to see which non-profit organizations allow school age volunteers, such as food banks, homeless shelters, or animal rescue organizations or shelters. Some kids help save our environment. Other children challenge peers to stay away from drugs and alcohol or do well in school. When parents hear about negative peer pressure, keep in mind that peer pressure can also become a very beneficial asset for you and your child.

Source: Peer Pressure: Why it seems worse than ever and how to help kids resist it, Malia Jacobson, August 29, 2013, www.parentmap.com. Accessed 10/5/2013.

 

Suspend Judgment: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure for School Age Children

by Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013

Suspend Judgment   

Another tip for helping your school age children reduce negative peer pressure is suspending judgment when your child confides in you about his/her peers. 1 Sometimes the “friend” is actually the child him or herself so watch what you say. Your goal is to learn more about the situation by keeping communication open. Become an expert on asking open-ended questions. For example, “Sounds like Matthew’s really struggling. What could you do to help him through this tough time?”

Source:

  1. When Peer Pressure is Good For Your Child, Carolyn Hoyt, Good Housekeeping, Women.com Networks, Inc.