Every parent we have ever met wants to have a smart child and be a smart parent. Raising a child is the most important responsibility anyone will ever have and can provide the most pleasure and reward.
SMART PARENT/SMART CHILD is the revolutionary philosophy that all children are incredibly intelligent from the moment they are born. When parents have learned understanding, respect, highly developed communication and relationship skills and development related expertise, it is amazing what a child can accomplish and, in fact, each child will achieve his maximum potential.
Thursday, October 5, 2017
I have observed and been shocked and saddened when I hear a parent lie to their child:
1. It could be about what time they will be picked up.
2. Where they are going, when in reality they have a doctor’s appointment.
3. When there is a baby sitter picking them up so they won’t have to deal with the child being upset.
The fact that these situations are ongoing is of grave concern the parent not only loses credibility with their child but it creates also great anxiety and possibly leads to the child also not telling the truth.
However, the scene I witnessed over the weekend was infinitely more disturbing for several reasons.
I was enjoying a light breakfast at a popular supermarket when a dad and 2 year old daughter sat at the next table.
Nothing warms my heart more than seeing a dad with a young child. The fact that it was a girl was a little special for me.
The dad had purchases a full breakfast plate of eggs, bacon potatoes and toast. The child had a yogurt with fruit. They engaged in a meaningful conversation while he prepared the fruit by cutting it into small sections. They both began eating.
She noticed that he had bacon and asked for a piece. The dad responded that this was real bacon and she could not have any.
After several more requests the dad relented, giving a medium sized piece with the warning “You can’t tell mommy about this!” while she quickly ate it up.
Predictably, she stopped eating her yogurt and fruit and repeatedly requested more bacon. The dad began rushing to finish eating his meal so he could put an end to the incident. Sadly they also stopped communicating.
Why am I so upset with the scene?
1. The dad told his child to lie to her mother. This is within the family unit which should be “as one” at all costs.
2. The dad probably realized that since his daughter knew how to say “bacon” she conceivable would mention something at home, that he would have to answer for.
3. The dad should have realized that what he had done was very serious and corrected himself by saying “We will have to tell mommy what we did, that was my mistake”.
I did not hear that, but I hope for the child’s sake it happened. I wonder that if I had asked that dad whether he wanted his daughter to grow up and be honest, he would have responded that he did. He probably would have been hurt if I asked.
But the facts speak otherwise and the facts matter.
Parents speak otherwise and the facts matter!
Parents need to realize that they are the source of their children’s values. Behavioral standards, rules and guidelines.
Every statement matters!
Think before you speak!
Note: A blog will not be posted again until the week of 10/15. My marketing manager is off to take a reol in a feature film. We are wishing him good luck!
Friday, September 29, 2017
That is invaluable knowledge born out of necessity, which was often the only effective way!
She saw that the two most important things were that her infant slept well and ate well. That allowed her to make everything else work.
How exactly does this idea work?
1.Infants know how to eat and sleep. Do not mess it up!
a.Feed your infant when they are hungry, let them sleep when they are tired.
b.Do not disturb their natural body needs.
c.Do not wake them up to feed.
d.If you are a nursing mom, it is important that you follow the nursing mom’s diet at all times. No exceptions – no treats. You will pay a price for that choice because your infant will probably not be able to digest what you have treated yourself to. It is not worth it.
e.Usually by three or four months, you infant will be having a shorter morning nap and a longer afternoon nap. Especially in the afternoon, they may sometimes turn it into a catnap by making the sleep shorter. Either let them put themselves back to sleep or if they need help, a tap on the but to their bottom rhythmically will help.
f.Whatever you do, do not get into the habit of feeding them every time they cry. They can quickly become “snackers”. Every cry is not a hungry one!
g.They should be on three meals a day and a night feed.
h.Make sure when you put them to bed they are full and they will sleep soundly.
2.Do not rush to pick them up as soon as they squeak or every cry. They often will settle down and get used to waiting. If they are waking up from naps crying, this often means they are still tired.
3.Do not carry them around when they are awake or provide them with some sort of motion all the time.
4.Keep them in a their home environment as much as possible. Your social life can wait! Nothing takes priority over the needs of your infant!
5.Talk! Talk! Talk! Talk! Tell them what is happening! They will get used to familiar phrases. If they wake up and you can’t get them right away, tell them that. Your voice will reassure them! Introduce them to music, especially by singing to them.
6.Part of the day should be a safe place where they can practice turning over, crawling and pulling themselves up.
7.They need time every day to entertain themselves. Ideally, on a floormat with appropriate toys to entertain and stimulate them. Let them work to reach the toys.
8.Step back! Let your infant show you their personality and skills! They can’t learn when you are doing everything for them.
Just think how busy you would be if you had four other children! So relax and give them some time and space! Sometimes they will have to figure it out.
Enjoy and good luck!
Friday, September 22, 2017
Friday, September 8, 2017
Friday, August 25, 2017
Friday, August 11, 2017
Friday, July 28, 2017
Friday, July 21, 2017
We have now lived through four separate family situations where children between the ages of two to five have displayed behaviors that were both self-destructive and outwardly violent.
The behaviors that eventually surfaced at daycare were:
1. Throwing furniture.
2. Not only nail-biting, but biting all the skin around the nails, initially on their fingers and then on their toes. In one case, we observed the child’s toes were covered in band aids, obviously the child revealed this purposely by removing his shoes.
3. Running across the street unattended with the parent left behind at the daycare entrance.
4. Locking himself in the bathroom when the parent arrived to pick him up.
5. Kicking and communicating with the parent using foul language.
6. Biting the sibling.
7. Physically kicking and hitting the parent.
8. One of the children responding to a playmate who was concerned that biting the skin on her hand “must really hurt” and the child responding “It doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as I hurt inside”
Behaviors revealed by the parent:
1. Inflicting harm on family animals.
2. Threatening the sibling with physical harm.
3. Afraid of being alone in a room.
4. One parent’s fear that they were raising a serial killer.
In trying to understand what family conditions could have caused such behavior, we compiled a profile of each of these families. I was surprised and really shocked to realize that three of these families fell into the same profile in most of the major categories.
A profile of outward symptoms for these three was:
1. Each family consisted of two parents and two children living in the same home.
2. In each case, the mother was the primary income provider. Both parents worked long hours, with most of these hours outside the home. They often brought work home to complete in the evening. They were also committed to on demand travel which could accumulate to 10% to 15% of their total hours.
3. In each case, the father was self employed in a creative field which resulted in an unpredictable schedule and income. It also created a situation where this parent was not only the sole caregiver, but he was preoccupied with searching for employment or preparing for a secured assignment. Since this situation was so unpredictable, the dad often found himself as the caregiver and worker at the same time. In these circumstances he shared that he expected the children to entertain themselves. He shared that this demand often triggered an angry outburst.
The profile for the fourth family:
1. Both parents worked outside the home with long working hours and frequent travel for both of them. Back up care when both were traveling is unpredictable and could involve family members or any caregiver that was available.
2. There was very little family time on any given day. Most frequently, the dad would drop off and pick up the children.
3. The mom was less likely to be home before the children went to bed. In this case, one child went to bed completely silent and the other child constantly screamed when the mom picked them up.
4. These children usually teamed up when it came to destructive behavior.
We obviously were unaware of the depth and severity until each of the children demonstrated an aspect of it during regular care or when the parent came to pick them up.
We were surprised and alarmed that none of the parents had considered therapy, or as often happens, shared these details with us. They obviously needed help to understand and correct these behaviors.
In every case, we were able to recommend an expert who visited the home, as well as observed the child’s behavior at the daycare. They all committed to family therapy. This has to be the approach as it is not just an issue for the child but for every member.
Everyone in the family had to make changes. A common recommendation that was made in each case was the importance during the first five years of quality and quantity time with the mother who plays the major nurturing role at the beginning, and in each case had to increase their direct presence with the child.
I realize parents are committed to providing their children with the best physical environment as possible, however their emotions and psychological well being is even more important!
The more I think about these families, I am surprised that they did not ask for our advice or seek outside help when the behaviors first started.
Each family though the situation would improve over time. That typically does not occur without a planned strategy.
Each child finds ways to express their feelings. When their actions become so destructive and abusive and harm is self inflicted: get help immediately!!!
The behaviors noted in these cases is not normal. Fortunately children in our care who experience any sort of conflict and display aggressive behavior at home will eventually bring them to daycare as a cry for help!
Do not ignore them!
If we encourage even one family to get help before a serious problem escalates, it will be worth having shared these very disturbing family relationships!
Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness!
Friday, July 14, 2017
Friday, July 7, 2017
1. The proud look on the face of the dad walking his twins sons in the double seated stroller down Sunset Boulevard.
2. Five year old Martha happily leaves daycare early with her dad to attend a performance of The Nutcracker.
3. All the dads who encourage a challenging risk for a child building their confidence and maturity i.e. taking the training wheels off the bicycle or climbing the tree branch that looks too high.
4. The sight of the dad at the supermarket with an infant in the shopping cart and a three year old helping him push the cart while they discuss the grocery list.
5. The dad who asks to be taught to make braids that his daughter wants.
6. The dad who encouraged his wife to attend an award dinner in Europe acknowledging her publication of a design book while he cared for a six month old and a four year old.
7. The entrepreneur dad who takes his daughter to the office at least once a month to expose her to the environment and lets her sit in on the meetings.
8. The dad who takes time off from work to take his two year old son to the auto show.
9. The dad who picks up his son and daughter and takes them to the court to play basketball.
10. All the dads who hug their children when they drop them off at daycare and also when they pick them up. You feel like it is the most important moment to them.
Even though thousands of dads are directly and deeply involved in their child’s life, it is still very heartwarming to see a dad/child connection, especially in a non-traditional scene.
Thanks and congratulations to all the dads who have a lose and meaningful relationship in their child’s life!
Friday, June 30, 2017
Friday, June 2, 2017
Friday, May 26, 2017
The Important Distinction Between When Your Child Has a Choice And When You Absolutely Must Be In Charge!
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Mother’s Day is always when I spend extra time reviewing and analyzing the status of that most important of relationships.
The last year has been one in which that bond was the focus of the children’s behavior, more so than usual.
A few of our moms have taken on significantly more responsibility in their professional lives. This has had a measurable effect on the time available for them to spend with their child.
It took us a while to also become aware that the change was not only a time issue, but also a quality one.
Some patterns developed:
1. The children were having a hard time leaving their mom when being dropped off at daycare. They would do thing such as: requesting additional hugs, hang on to them, requesting an early pickup, being read to before departure, standing at the sliding glass door and watching until they disappeared. These were all new behaviors.
2. These children also displayed anger issues such as screaming to get attention, breaking down their friend’s building structures or games, biting their nails or skin, and generally becoming somewhat hostile vs. the friendly children they had been.
3. When their circumstances became more intolerable, they began transferring some of their loss feelings to their teachers. This behavior has been a reoccurring approach, over the years, when a child wants something fixed at home and needs our help.
4. The most sad and disturbing situation I experience was a mom requesting that she spend Mother’s Day alone as her gift. The dad and children had to leave their home for the day. I can’t imagine what the children were thinking. Alarmingly, it was the first thing we were told the next day.
We have always shared with our parents that the quantity of time they spend with their children is important, but the quality is critical.
Especially when the quantity is reduced and limited, moms must not allow anything to interfere with their time together.
1. No phone
2. No computer
3. No friends
4. No distractions
Most children need the first 4 to 5 years to really create a lifelong bond with their mom. They are much clearer on their place in the world.
I am always applauding my moms when I see and know that the time they spend with their children is truly meaningful, setting an example and building their self esteem.
Our future is in your hands! Handle it with love and care!
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Friday, May 5, 2017
Since it is difficult for the parents to assess how the change is going to affect themselves, projecting that for their children is not only challenging but it must be evaluated, and discussed, frequently after the changes have occurred.
Some of the circumstances that have challenged our parents in the last several months:
1. Both parents simultaneously moving on to more demanding career responsibilities that included longer hours.
2. A new baby in the family.
3. An older sibling moving on from the daycare to elementary school.
4. A relocation from the east coast where both parents had a large support system to L.A. with no extended family or close friends.
5. A parent going back to work at the same time as the child joins our daycare.
6. The death of a loving nanny who had been a member of the family since the children were born.
In every case, the children in our care displayed clear emotional and sometimes physical and relationship changes.
-They cried more easily.
-Had difficulty falling asleep at naptime.
-Preferred to be with us rather than playing with their friends.
-Expressed a need for more attention when completing tasks they had normally performed easily and willingly.
-Displayed some regression in areas they had perfected such as bathroom habit, academic skills and conflict resolution.
These are the suggestions we offered each of these families.
1. Change the rules or your expectations of your child including values and behavior standards. Continuity is critical and boundaries need to be maintained.
2. Feel sorry for them. They are a critical part of your family and whatever decisions were made, it was with their interest in mind also.
3. Be inconsistent when they are showing anxiety about anything they miss. Acknowledge their feeling and then move on to some advantages they now have.
4. Feel guilty about the change it is done!
1. Give them new responsibilities specifically related to their new situation. It will help them feel more involved and in control.
2. Have a dialogue with them when you see unusual behavior. Resist the urge to defend the change but instead focus on a positive fact about it.
3. Put their needs before yours.
4. Be patient. They will not move from negative/lost feelings to happy ones instantly. Just like they cannot move from angry to sorry in five minutes.
5. Trust their resilience and intelligence and flexibility. They are survivors and probably will emerge more mature and stronger if that is your goal and what you expect and communicate.
You can turn every new experience into positive growth!
Sunday, April 23, 2017
Our day care is an environment where strong social connections, both physical and verbal, occur and in many cases, these have been so strong they have extended into the adult lives of the children.
Currently we are witnessing a bond that developed visibly between 14 month old Sarah and 13 month old Jack.
At this time, Sarah had been with us for four months and Jack was joining a day care for the first time. They are both independent and very self-sufficient for their ages.
It took Jack a few days to become oriented and then decided that Sarah had something he liked and needed.
Without any specific encouragement on our part, they began seeking each other out and sharing more time together while they both explored their options. What was especially interesting is they are both strong willed and independent yet they communicated and played in complete harmony.
I think they benefited most from an environment where they are given the freedom and responsibility to entertain themselves and therefor respond to their individual feelings and needs.
They are our most recent example of the ability of very young children to identify and expand on their feelings and needs when an environment is created that allows them to explore and make choices without adult persuasion and interference.
Most parents feel the need to direct and control every action of a young child. Experiences and opportunity tells us that they can make choices to satisfy their needs and in fact, when given a safe and supportive environment, will be able to accomplish this at a much younger age than most people believe.
-Ensure your child’s environment in the first two years gives them the freedom to explore their world independently.
-When organizing playdates, make sure your child is given the time and opportunity to select and play with objects they want to interact with.
-Give them space and time to solve their own problems. In most cases when they become frustrated they only need a small key to find success. Give them advice and let them continue independently.
-Introduce them to a variety of friends.
-Seek a social environment where you will be effectively removed from their sight. This should occur periodically. Make sure the supervisor/educator has and displays your philosophies and goals.
-Consider your role to be an entertainer- you are their teacher, give them time to learn.
-Underestimate their ability. By the time they have mastered a skill, they are already thinking at the next level-make it available. Everyone advances at their own pace.
-Underestimate them: watch for their reaction to new situations. Give them time to evaluate and adjust.
Your child is the ultimate work in progress! Encourage their interests and natural curiosity.
High levels of self-esteem come from this approach!
Friday, April 14, 2017
The child who figures out the shapes cube, and the sunbeam coming through the window reflecting on the daycare wall.
The child who writes their alphabet letters by themselves, and the sun still shinning late in the day so we can play outside.
Our parenting world and spring are full of new discoveries and surprises!
We are wishing everyone a joyful spring and parenting experience.
Stop to appreciate the surprises of spring and your child's world. Enjoy and Good luck!
Friday, April 7, 2017
Friday, March 31, 2017
The First Challenge
Invariably, when I am counseling parents, somewhere in the conversation one or both parents will say something along the lines of:
-I’m sure I have said many things I shouldn’t have.
-I was so upset I told her I didn’t love her.
-I said X, but I didn’t really mean it.
-I told her I would leave her at the mall if she did not stop crying.
-You are so bad, I am taking away your iPad for a month.
In a moment of frustration, anxiety, or impatience, your self-control can be lost and you blurt out statements that are devastating and very difficult or sometimes impossible to retract.
Because we are always extremely aware and sensitive to the emotional needs of our children in daycare, we find ourselves often contradicting what a child will quote what their parent has said to them under the assumption they did not really mean it.
We know that children often share or display situations that occurred at home to us to have them corrected, so we are careful not to directly undermine the parent while we reassure the child that they will never hear any of those statements here, nor be treated in that manner.
Children need reassurance that they are valuable.
At the same time, when a parent does request a reasonable and expected behavior, they must be consistent and follow-up. Make sure when you speak, you have thought about the action or response you expect from your child.
If you tell them:
-We are going shopping and you are not buying a today.
-You know how to put on your socks and shoes by yourself. So be persistent and get it done!
-We are leaving the park in five minutes, see where the hand will be on my watch. I expect you to leave like a Big Girl!
-Please get your jacket before leaving daycare. Don’t bother crying, it doesn’t work!
Stick with it. If you are just implementing this approach, it will take a while for you to earn credibility! You will have to be consistent and always follow through.
The second challenge
Parents are amazed at how readily children listen to me. It is no secret how that happens:
-I really think before I speak.
-I know what they are capable of accomplishing for themselves.
-The children see that I am fair and consistent with everyone.
-They are acknowledged for completing tasks and thanked.
-We never interfere when a child wants to do task by themselves, even if we think they may not accomplish it. We only offer suggestions when they are at a standstill.
-We never use negative language, never reinforcing what they are doing incorrectly, but instead stating what we expect them to do.
-Children are never bad. Eliminate all those damaging words from your vocabulary. They may have broken rules, not listened, taken someone’s toy, thrown their food ect.
Communicate what you expect them to do to correct that. Behavior instead of repeating what they already did that was unacceptable.
It does take a while to reprogram yourself to think positively. The reward will be evident when you manage to accomplish that task.
You and your child are establishing a positive bond that earns you trust and credibility – the basis for successful parenting.
Take a deep breath and know you can do it!
Friday, March 24, 2017
Friday, March 3, 2017
They feel like he is completely running their lives. Everything they have tried has not worked such as:
-Having him listen to them.
-Being able to sit down to a meal together.
-Getting him to bed without a tantrum.
-Having any social activity that is successful and enjoyable.
They find themselves disagreeing over how to handle him and now realize that constantly changing their approach is only making the situation worse.
I instantly conclude the they never prepared themselves for their parental role by taking the time and responsibility to educate themselves about the role of a parent and the importance of having an agreed on plan of behavioral standards before beginning the process.
Both Paula and Alexander feel that their childhood was too restrictive and disciplined. They were hoping for a more open and interactive role with Alexander. Obviously, they were not achieving that goal and now had to go back to the beginning.
It required two sessions for them to agree on the behavior standards they want. I assure them that this was time this was time well spent and the agreement achieved was absolutely necessary.
The behavior standards important to them are:
-Respect for themselves and others, including their physical possessions
I challenged them to come up with simple phrases to get their message across.
“Please do not touch my computer – it is not a toy”
“We are going to read two books before bed time and then turn off the light”
Any and all phrases they needed are reviewed for clarity and understanding. This is an important point. Do not analyze or defend. Keep your directives clear and short!
When needed, the phrases are stated, followed by a 15 second pause so Alexander can process them and then decide if he wants to follow the request.
These phases are then state twice more and if no action is taken by Alexander, the parent follows up by taking him through what he should have done while repeating the phrase.
Whichever parent speaks up first will be responsible to follow through to completion. The second parent cannot interfere no matter what. They must be in agreement. Any disagreement will be resolved when they are positive Alexander cannot hear them.
We have a touch base sessions for a month. Both Paula and Alexander are surprised that they instantly had some success with other situations being more challenging.
They have held to their commitment to never contradict each other no matter what.
At the end of a month, they are enjoying him most of the time with a few challenges left i.e. mealtimes. They know the approach works and periodically review the phrases giving them some tweaking in the areas that are still a challenge.
The best result is that they are beginning to feel like successful parents and are getting positive comments from their friends.
Their stress level has dramatically lessened and their reward level increases.
Everyone can do this!
They key is to commit the time to arrive at a consensus goal and stick with it!
Friday, February 24, 2017
We have a holiday get together every year where we enjoy a very large gathering of current and former families who attend. Some of these families now include college age children which creates an environment of a large group of grown-ups.
This is Olivia’s first time attending the event as they were out of town the previous year.
We always alert families to prepare their children for the number of people attending and the disproportionate number of grown-ups vs. children.
Many of the other new and young children are visibly enjoying themselves. Some of them are a little quieter than usual, but comfortable leaving their parents to interact with their friends and enjoy the activities and food.
Unfortunately, Olivia’s parents have forgotten to inform her how many people will be in attendance and exactly how she can navigate the large group and play with her friends.
As she turns the corner of the building and sees the crowd and activity, she stops, lifts her arms to be picked up and is crying as she enters the daycare.
Needless to say, we are really surprised by her behavior and react in puzzlement. Her parents are attempting to calm her down (unsuccessfully) and realize that they had forgotten to prepare her for the extreme change in the daycare environment.
Even Olivia, who is usually prepared for her circumstances, and handles them well, can be completely unable to adjust to the unexpected instantly.
The family finally leaves the event early regretting they were unable to stay and have special time with their friends.
They admitted that in the future, preparing her for new challenges will never be neglected.
1. Give your child general information. In this case, that the number of people present will mostly be strangers as well as grown-ups.
2. Assure them that you will be at their side initially while they are adjusting to the environment and will be assisting them to connect with something familiar or of interest to them.
3. Always practice some verbal interactions, short phrases/sentences that they can call on when needed.
4. Assure them that you will expect them to speak for themselves.
1. Instantly label them in new situations as shy. In most cases, they are simply unprepared and have relied on you to speak for them. It is amazing how easily that label is used, often with long lasting negative effects.
2. Automatically assume they cannot handle change and challenges. It’s the preparation that makes the difference.
3. Insist that they stay beside you. Instead, give them latitude to instead be in view when it is safe. It is opportunities like these that build their confidence and skills.
You want your child to be confident, skilled and socially interested.
Support and inform them!