The children in a preschool classroom are all a “flutter” about the magic happening right before their eyes. The caterpillars are spinning chrysali and soon will be butterflies! They can hardly wait. We discuss the importance of allowing the butterfly the time and space it needs to push its way out of the chrysalis. “But what if it needs help?” asks one. “We just have to let it work hard, and get stronger,” I reply.
Allowing the lovely creature to struggle, stretch and work its own way out of the chrysalis is the key to its building the strength needed to survive, to move with coordination, to fly!
Such a clear example from Mother Nature of an important parenting skill – knowing when not to help, to allow a child to work through a struggle on their own, to get stronger as they do, to be able to have the strength and coordination to fly!
We so want our children to succeed, to avoid the pain of struggle, and to “get it” the first time. That is not always realistic, nor does it teach patience, perseverance and persistence – all characteristics of very successful adults. In childhood, we learn these skills by working on a task, and sometimes having trouble with it. As a wise parent friend said to me once, “Small children, small problems…Big children, big problems!” Allowing our children to work hard as small children on small problems, will enable them to problem solve later.
What are some ways we can allow some time and space between a child having trouble with a task, and our jumping in to fix the problem. Here’s a short list to keep in mind:
Imagine the sense of accomplishment your child will feel, having done it themselves!
Simple Objects Become Something Else
You’ve probably heard the phrase “Play is Children’s Work,” but what does that mean? The way children learn about the world around them is through their play. They will “practice” a skill through their pretend play over and over again. Often simple objects will become something else through the power of their imagination. A stick can become a pencil, a sword, or a magic wand!
The young toddler may need an adult to model pretend play – “tasting” the cookies on the book page, “Oh yummy!” or “calling” Daddy on the phone, for example. But as they grow, they will enjoy the worlds their imagination can create!
Using simple objects at hand to pretend they are something else helps build a child’s imagination potential. What about an empty paper towel roll, a cardboard box, a towel, or a wooden block- what could they become in pretend play?
To face and solve problems as adults, our children need to be practice active imagination skills and creativity.
Thursday 3/5/2015 Classes in Manassas and Reston will be cancelled Thursday morning, because Prince William County and Fairfax County Schools are closed. A make-up day will be added to the end of the session. Thanks for your flexibility!
Little Hands Inclement Weather Policy In case of inclement weather, Little Hands will follow the school schedule of the county/city in which class is held.
All cancellations will be announced here on the website, on the Little Hands facebook page and on our office phone at 703-631-2046. Thanks for your understanding of how a school delay effects many of our families with older children and for our need to have a consistent, clear policy. We will do our best to add classes to the end of the semester to make up for missed classes due to weather cancellations.
by Beth Frook
There are several ways we humans (small and tall) respond to frustration. Some depends on our basic temperament and personality, and some is a reflection of what we have seen modeled in our home environment. Here is a synopsis from Dr. Becky Bailey’s “Conscious Discipline” descriptions of four responses to frustrating situations.
“Flyers” fly off the handle when things don’t go their way. They throw the blocks when the stack isn’t balancing, they hit their shoe when it won’t tie right away, or they scream out in frustration.
“Criers” dissolve into tears when unsuccessful after even one or two attempts at a new skill.
“Sighers” give up with a sigh and don’t do anymore, or move away from the problem.
“Tryers” keep trying and trying until they get results, through problem solving, self-correcting, or just plain pushing through.
As adults, we need to remember that we are safe in the situation, and that we CAN help the child with the problem. So, we take a deep breath, say to ourselves, “I’m safe, and I can help this child with the problem.” (S_T_A_R = Smile_Take a breath_And_Relax) The adult in the situation is the model for problem-solving. Depending on the child’s problem, and the way they are responding, we can help them learn to solve their own problems (first with our help, and eventually on their own.)
Moments like this are opportunities to teach our children to self-regulate, to problem solve and become persistent learners of new skills, increasing their tolerance for frustration as they learn and grow.
by Beth Frook
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” -Aesop
Noah (2 1/2) stacks blocks, and the third or fourth one falls off repeatedly.
Amelia (3 1/2) struggles to pull her sock over her heel and all the way on.
Jamie (1) wants something across the room, and can’t name it, so points and screams.
We’ve all been in the presence of a child who is struggling to learn something. We’ve all BEEN in that position ourselves as learning adults, as well! (For me it usually has to do with new skills on my computer or smart phone! :)) It is through persistent trying and help from “experts” that allow us to master new skills and accomplish tasks. The process can cause frustration, and we can increase our tolerance for frustration with practice and patience. It is a character trait that helps us learn and grow!
Persistent practice, and a healthy level of tolerance for frustration are required as one builds skill. We can support our children to learn and grow by allowing them to try new things, giving them time to practice and encouraging them to keep trying when they become frustrated.
“Can you try to balance the block in the middle, Noah?”
“Amelia, look! You got it over your toes! How ’bout I hold this part and you pull that part over your heel?”
“Oh, is it the blue car you want to play with, Jamie? No? Can you show me which one? Let’s get closer. The red car is what you want to play with!”
There are words to support and encourage that give space for learning to happen. If we jump in too fast to “fix it” or do it for our child every time, we keep them from experiencing the satisfaction of trying hard and learning something.
The emerging independence that is within every child needs time and space to grow. Try to set aside time for practicing skills, or build in a cushion in your schedule for your child to be able to “do it myself!” Try to resist the urge to jump in too soon. Saving our child from that little bit of frustration while they practice new tasks can sometimes send a message that we don’t think they are capable. Take a breath and use encouragement, or small suggestions to support them as they learn.
This skill will certainly serve them well as they face learning challenges through out their lives.
Next time, let’s talk about specific responses to frustration: Flyers, Cryers, Sighers and Tryers.
by Sandy Yagel
As a young mom of four children 3 1/2 years old and under, I always felt like I was drowning in dirty laundry! Then I discovered a few tricks that not only helped me with the laundry, but also helped the children develop important skills.
In our bathroom, we had a space that held two laundry baskets at a time, one white and one brown. As the children took off their dirty clothes they would place them in the matching light or dark basket. This saved me a ton of time on the front end of doing laundry.
After doing laundry, I would save the socks for the children to sort. First we would match them by color and then by size. This type of sorting is a Kindergarten math skill! Not only did the children feel accomplished in the task and happy that they could help me, but their sorting actually DID help me with the task of laundry!
NEW Little Hands classes will be available this winter at the Gainesville Ballet Company! Come to a free mixed-age preview on Monday, January 12. 2015 at 10:15 am.
Mondays, 1/19 – 4/13, toddlers at 10:15 and infants at 11:00. Register today!
We’re thrilled to be partnering at this lovely facility with another high-quality arts community! Come join us and tell your friends in the area that Little Hands classes are now closer to home!
I have a parenting question for you…Do you have an effective way to deal with whining? Our son like most 4 year olds, can be very whiny at times. We have tried all sorts of ways to deal with his whining: talking to him, counting him out, timeouts, ignoring, rewarding him for good behavior. Nothing seems to work all that well. Whining is not fun…and how we are dealing with it is making for some un-enjoyable times, especially on the weekends. I have always valued your parenting advice so any thoughts you have are greatly appreciated. Thanks so much! Take care,
“Mom who needs help!”
To “Mom who needs help with whining 4-year old:”
I love your question about whining. It reminds me of those lovely days with preschoolers in my house, (and whining a lot!) I sometimes made a joke with my children that “I don’t understand whining language. Can you speak Clear Talk Language?”
Whining is an older child’s form of infant crying. Your son whines because there is something that he can’t handle, doesn’t like, or is frustrated by. Using a whining voice is like crying with words. It’s very easy to see our little guys as older than they actually are emotionally, especially when they can speak so well! Often, though, the whining comes from a place of not completely understanding the emotional landscape of what’s happening inside them (and sometimes to the powerlessness they feel in a situation where they have little or no control – like when to go to bed, whether or not they’ll be allowed to watch TV, etc. etc. etc.!)
Acknowledging the feeling, while still limiting the behavior is the first step. “I know you really want to stay up because we’re having so much fun, and you wish you could stay up forever and ever, AND every body needs rest, so it’s time for bed. Let’s hop on one foot all the way to the stairs!” If distracted attention doesn’t work, acknowledge the feeling by asking about it during a lap squeeze (attention without “giving in” to the whining, but with some loving connection) – “Let’s sit in the cuddling chair and try to figure out what’s really going on.”
Often a preschooler whines when they are hungry, angry, lonely or tired (HALT) and can’t completely identify their need – so they whine about everything else! Meeting those HALT needs is another good strategy. Trying to pre-empt those times of pushing beyond what’s reasonable to expect (like a four hour shopping trip in the 90 degree heat…) will help keep your son from getting to the point of whining to release his frustration.
Another more difficult reason for whining is to express negative feelings, but not having a safe way to do it. Some children don’t want to scream or “lash out” because anger is not a socially-acceptable emotion to express, though we all need to express it at one point or another. Giving ways to express frustration and anger in healthy ways (strong physical play with an inanimate, indestructible object like a cardboard box or big pillow) is key to avoiding it “leaking out” in other ways, like whining or passive aggression.
More practical tips can be found in this article by Laura Markham. Hope it will help you! Til soon, Beth