Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tina Nocera: Founder of ParentalWisdom.Com

I wanted to introduce you to some other parenting experts I've met in recent months to give you a flavor for their perspective on parenting. One great one to know is Tina Nocera, the founder of ParentalWisdom.com, a forum where parents can quickly get multiple answers from experts for their questions. Here's what Tina had to say about her business and the challenging but rewarding job of parenting:

What was the spark that urged you to found Parental Wisdom?

I was 9 months pregnant with my daughter, I remember the day exactly - it
was August, terribly hot and I had my 18-month old son who refused to put on
his shoes. You know when kids put their toes into a ball? Anyway, it
dawned on me that I had no idea of what I should have been doing so I
questioned the premise that people could have children without any prior
qualifications, licensing or training.

I also realized that each child and situation was unique and found that as
I read the books, the authors were understandably not always correct.

What is the benefit of having several experts answer a parent's questions?

Because no one person is always right for all the people all the time.
There are numerous idiosyncrasies and values that come into play. Parents know their child best but don't always have ready access to the information that an expert does.

What's the average turnaround to get an answer?

Usually 24 hours.

With all of the information out there about "good parenting" how can parents avoid feeling like they are never doing enough for their children?

Easy - every night before you go to bed, play back at least one good interaction with your child. And notice how even after a bad day, kids are so wonderfully resilient.

What do you enjoy most about being a parent?

The fact that my perfectly normal children have become good people.

What's your idea of a great mini-vacation?

A spa!

What one thing are you thankful for today?

The good health and happiness of my family.

Kind of shows you that material stuff doesn't mean a thing in the long run and no one has the right answers all the time. Trust yourself, choose your resources carefully and remember the good things along with the challenging parts of parenting. Your kids look to you more than anyone for guidance and security...even when they don't show it! More from Tina in the near future!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Burning off the Energy

I had a great time presenting to a nice group of parents, educators and child care providers last night in Alexandria, Minnesota for Week of the Young Child. I wanted to let you know that I will have videotape of the presentation up soon on YouTube for anyone who is interested. Just send me an email, express@bctelco.net, and I'll forward the link when it's ready.

Also, on the question of helping feisty kids burn off energy, I would like to refer you to the Brain Gym site at www.braingym.com. Some of the Alex educators just had some training on this and mentioned it to me. Sounds cool! This group has been around for a while but is seeing new interest due to the needs of feisty kids and other focus issues in the classroom. I plan to interview an instructor about this soon and publish her thoughts in a future post.

Another question was about books that adults can read to deal with stress reactions and anger. I'm going to do some research on that and recommend some books, websites and other resources. My upcoming parenting book will also include some of this information; if you would like a sneak peek or know anyone who would like to review it who works in early childhood, let me know!! I'd love feedback!

As part of future posts, I am interviewing other experts related to parenting and patience, so watch for that!

Thanks again for your support, and remember the three magic words of patience: Empathy, Mindfulness and Self-Leadership...

It's not all about me.
This moment is all I have
How can I make a difference?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Tips on Teaching Patience/Week of the Young Child

For all of you who are attending my keynote at the Week of the Young Child event in Alexandria, Minnesota on April 15, I am posting some notes here from my presentation. Hopefully the snow will be on its way out by then! Sheesh!

I am speaking about the importance of patience skills for school readiness. Below are three primary temperaments of children (remember that children can cross over into more than one, so get to know them all), their characteristics, and how to work with each on patience skills...You can begin to incorporate these ideas around age 3.

High Activity Level
Slow to Adapt/Transition at times
Approaches New Things with Vigor
Intense, Sometimes Physical Reactions (Positive and Negative)
Low Persistence
Low Focus

Teaching Patience to Feisty Kids:
•Need Opportunity and Challenge
•Leadership Options ("little helpers/little mommies or daddies"
•Faster-Paced Activities & Games
•Work on Cooperative Play (pass the blocks; roll the ball; clean up time)
•Work on Etiquette (please and thank you)
•Burn off the Energy!
•Coping Strategies - breathing, touchstones like a smooth rock or soft toy, anger dance (silly physical dance to calm down), counting, self talk ("He didn't mean to bump into me.")

Empathy –
•Cooperative games (It's okay to lose.)
•Discussing feelings (After given some space to calm down)
•Problem solving (giving three options and allowing them to choose)
•Work on social cues…facial expressions, body language, hands to self, quiet voice, personal space
•Recognize that they need to burn off energy for focus

Mindfulness –
•They’re going to want to argue about what happened and why they are right. Instead...
•Rather than focusing on the past, ask what can be done now to solve it.
•Offer mindful coping for frustrations like breathing, counting, bringing them back into their bodies; touchstones; anger dance (shake it off physically and in a silly way; get them to lighten up)

Self-Leadership –
•Getting control of selves will be very important (allow time for that)
•Give space to cool off (so they don't hurt themselves or anyone else)
•Make lists to build a routine during play to reduce frustration with others (everyone gets to choose an activity to add)
•Helping skills
•Put them in charge of something each day (feeding pets, watering plants, bussing dishes, snack helper)
•Talk about language of a leader, please and thank you, calm voices

Slow to adapt in new situations
Physically sensitive
Distracted by other children; noise
Crave routine
Intense reactions if stressed or pushed

Teaching Patience to Fearful Kids:
•Need Time and Practice
•Build in Time for Decisions/Transitions
•Be Their Safe Harbor
•Work on Repetitive Activities
•Maintain Daily Routines; Prepare them if things are going to change.
•Provide Coping Strategies/Touchpoints
•Encourage Talking Out Problems

•I feel…
•Taking turns, respecting their personal space; practicing affection to gain a comfort level with others (shaking hands, high fives, holding hands to start)
•Respect fears; take them seriously to teach them to trust themselves; talk through fears; explain differences between fantasy and reality; dreams and awake time

Mindfulness- tend to think of what ifs…help them to focus on now and what’s happening now; are they safe now?

•Being in control of their emotional responses
•Relaxation exercises to calm anxieties (close eyes and think of a beautiful place or their favorite activity)
•Practice helping others; can take away focus on self
•Work with them on projects if they feel overwhelmed

Sunny Disposition
Regular Feeding, Napping
Fairly Persistent
Low Intensity/Low Sensitivity
Highly Adaptable

Teaching Patience to Flexible Kids:
•Need Acknowledgement
•Show Interest in Their Ideas/Play
•Promote Natural Cooperativeness
•Share Your Lap
•Praise Skills Specifically

•Naturally empathetic but can lose this if needs aren’t met
•They tend to be popular, so praise them for including others in play
•Watch for times when they hide emotions or use as attention devices; use as opportunity to talk through feelings and acknowledge them; explain why you have disciplined them

•If they are being silly or acting out, ask how they’re feeling right in that moment…happy, sad, angry, alone, excited?
•Working together; what can we do to make things better right now?
•Give choices to work out feelings

•Encourage helpfulness and cooperation…tend to get along well with others; provide opportunities for group play as well as solo play
•Like lots of people, so talk about the importance of including others who may feel left out
•Ask for help in solving problems; they will enjoy being included
•Work with them on projects to give them one-on-one time
•Keep it fun; allow practice before criticizing

Watch for more ideas for teaching patience in future posts. I'll include ideas for younger and older children. Thanks for your interest! And remember, you need to model patience to teach patience!