Monthly Archives: October 2009

Fall back – into sleep

Are you ready for Day Light Savings Time to change?   This year, Halloween happens to fall on a Saturday and the time to change our clocks back is the next day,  Sunday,  November 1st at 2:00 a.m.

Great, you say!   We finally get back that extra hour of sleep that was snatched away from us in the Spring.  Perfect timing!   After a Halloween night of over-stimulation, delayed bedtime, abundance of sweets – we’ll all get to sleep in!

Well… perhaps.  But, if memory and experience serves me correctly,  even after a later than usual bedtime,  our kids could rise and shine an hour earlier than usual.  Our own body clocks are accustomed to waking us at a regular time – often when the sun rises.  Because we will be re- setting our bedroom clocks  back one hour – our alarm clocks will go off at this new time but be prepared for our children’s internal clocks to have already roused them.

From year to year, I hear parents reacting in frustration to this time- switch adjustment and wondering how long this early awakening will continue.  They report that their children are fussy and out-of-sorts.

Sleep is such a huge factor in the way our children behave. More and more research reports that challenging behavior can be traced to insufficient sleep.  Many of us are surprised to hear that our children ( and ourselves) are not getting enough sleep.  Babies need 14-16 hours in a 24-hour period;  toddlers 13 hours total, including a nap;  preschoolers 12 hours, including a nap;   school-age children, ten hours;  adolescents, 9.25 hours;  adults, 7.5 -8 hours a night.

So – Sunday, November 1st may be a challenging day for parents because our children will probably be suffering from insufficient sleep and disruption of routines the night before.   Sleep affects how a child controls his emotions, actions, attention span, cooperation, his performance in general.  The temper tantrum because you poured milk in the red cup rather than the pink one is more about lack of sleep than caring about the color of the cup or a devious attempt to drive you crazy.

This is a good time for all of us  to take a careful  look at how much sleep our families are getting.  If we are struggling with a whiny, demanding child, on a daily basis,  whose melt-downs are frequent, inadequate sleep is very likely the culprit. The same goes for our own patience and resilience as adults.

When misbehavior is a result of not enough sleep, we can try every discipline trick in the book but until we have a rested child, the intensity of emotions and out-of-bounds behavior will continue.

So this weekend, even for those children who are usually well-rested, you may experience melt-downs.  Plan a low-key, hang-around day.  Get everyone out in the morning light (which sets our internal clock for us),  some physical activity – walks around the neighborhood, raking leaves, healthy foods, reading time, naps, coloring, doing puzzles – a peaceful winding down to a busy weekend. In other words, relax and lower your expectations a bit.  You’ll all profit from it.

For excellent information about the  importance of  sleep and your child’s behavior, check out Mary Sheedy Kurcinka’s (author of Raising your Spirited Child) book,  Sleepless in AmericaIs your child misbehaving or Missing Sleep?

Also,  Family Resources offers periodic workshops based on this book.  And one-on-one Parent Coaching is always available,  free of charge,  to address this issue in depth and help you and your family get the sleep you need.  Just call for an appointment.

Sweet Dreams!

Comments Off on Fall back – into sleep

Filed under Uncategorized

Celebrate your quiet child

Let’s hear it for the child who is quiet,  reserved,  an observer of the world around him –  one who doesn’t readily respond with an easy smile or answer.  Often parents of these young children experience a sense of frustration and concern  that their child is not meeting age- appropriate social expectations.  They see their child at home, talking and laughing, singing and dancing, but when he is in a group or unfamiliar situation – he just ” stands there and stares”.

I have a special affinity for these reflective, cautious children.  I probably was one myself.  They are slow to warm up to new situations and people.  They study their surroundings and activities to see where they might fit in – and if they care to.  It is the temperament they were born with.

I see this often at Family Resources  Play Shoppe.  A parent walks into the room with a child attached to his/her leg.   Once in the room, the child stands and watches.  Usually the parent,  feeling uncomfortable because their child is not responding to the greetings and invitations to join in,  begins to encourage and prod their child to answer and participate.   This usually has the opposite effect.

By the end of Play Shoppe, this reserved child has most often found his niche – usually even interacting with others.  By the time they get home, he is often singing the songs the others sang (and he listened to) and describing everything that went on at Play Shoppe whether he participated or not.   His experience was positive and enjoyable. He has no clue that there would be any concerns about his behavior.

Unless it was made apparent to him.  As moms and dads, this is what we need to understand and appreciate.    It is our own interpretation and expectations of the situation that is fueling our concern.  Accepting, enjoying and celebrating our child’s temperament and personality is key to his success.  It is this that will instill the confidence and strong sense of self that we are seeking for our child.

I try to encourage parents who have a child like this to just let her be.  Come into the group – if your child needs to stand by you or sit on your lap and watch – accept that as perfectly okay.  Let your child hear you talking and greeting others without bringing the spotlight on her or remarking that she’s so “shy”.  One thing I’ve found about these children – the more they’re pushed and prodded to respond, the more clingy and unresponsive they become.

Parents have shared that they feel their child is just being stubborn.  The parents are worried that they will be socially unprepared and not know how to function in a group.  It is my own observation and experience that these very observant young children mature into older children who know themselves very well.  They exercise critical judgment and make good choices in friendships and self- selected interests.

As parents, we can provide safe, fun, social situations with friends.  We can model interaction, socializing and caring. We can prepare them for what to expect at new experiences.   We can address their interests and competence.  But most importantly, we can give these children the time and pace they need to be comfortable in their own right.

Comments Off on Celebrate your quiet child

Filed under Uncategorized

Winter’s on its way

It’s starting.  The cold weather has arrived.  It may try and fool us by disappearing for a day or two with warmer temperatures and sunny skies,  but we’ve had our first taste and we know what lies in store.

In some ways I don’t mind.  There’s definitely something very refreshing about being out on a cold day.  Summer’s great – short sleeves,  sandals,  basking in the sun.  But it’s a totally different, more exhilarating and rewarding feeling when you’re out in the cold,  the wind nipping at your cheeks.  When you come indoors after being out on a winter’s day, feeling the welcoming warmth,  blowing your nose (nothing like a cold day to keep those sinuses clear) and diving  into your fuzzy slippers,  you will feel both energized and relaxed at the same time.

As parents we need to prepare ourselves and our families for the even colder,  frigid temperatures ahead – by sensitizing our bodies to the lower temperatures now.  How?  By digging out the hats and mittens,  jackets and snow pants and wearing them if the weather is cold.

Snow pants for children are not just for a sledding day but everyday apparel for a Wisconsin winter.  If our children’s association with winter  (and ours)  is rushing to the car, wearing no hat or  a loose hood –  half on ,  no mittens,  coat unzipped,  they  (and we)  will feel uncomfortable,  cranky,  uncooperative,  complaining and definitely not wanting to be outside.

It can sometimes seem unnecessary,  this whole process of dressing warmly,  when so many of us have heated garages that allow us to sneak into our preheated cars,  wearing just a lightweight, unzipped jacket.  This,  however,  is where we need to become intentional.

Parents have told me  “it’s not worth the struggle to get him all dressed warmly.  He fights it so.”  And until it becomes part of the routine and the expectation,  it will continue to be a battle.  This is when we remember that boots can call out to a child to  “Put me on”.  Songs can be sung,  (Thumb in the thumb place, fingers all together; this is the song we sing in mitten weather),  commentary on what’s coming next,  shared.

Dressing warmly can become a habit and one that reaps benefits.  How?  If we are not shivering and uncomfortable outside,  we will all be willing to linger outdoors – feed the birds,  make an adventure of getting the mail,  throw a few snowballs,  shovel the walk,  dig in the snow  (digging toys used in the sandbox will delight children in the snow),  pull a sled, build a snowman,  make snow angels, walk around the block,  climb a snow bank,  watch the snowplow plow.

Being outside is an essential ingredient of every child’s life.  It will put color in your child’s cheeks as well as your own.  (It’s a myth that children will catch a cold from being out in the cold.).  It will increase positive behavior, make everyone sleep better, gain a dose of necessary vitamin D (we do have quite a few cold,  sunny days in winter),  add balance to our day,  increase appetites for healthy foods and help us all to find recreation, fun, anticipation and enjoyment in winter in Wisconsin.

Comments Off on Winter’s on its way

Filed under Uncategorized

Less is more …two

I believe all of us need to be continually reminded that less is more.  Back in June, in one of my first posts, I encouraged parents to think twice about piling on too many places to go, too many activities in the same day, same week, too much to take in, too much to appreciate.

This weekend when I was out and about, the thought struck me.  Time for a reminder!  There were posters everywhere for events to take the children to enjoy.  And this is just the beginning of a season that starts with Halloween and continues through the spring.  One festive holiday after another.  But in today’s world – they are less separated and distinct.  Marketing the holiday early is the rule and so often, we barely finish digesting one big day before the next one leaps out at us from the aisles,  screaming for attention.

But right now – Autumn/Halloween is the season of the day.  It’s one of my favorites.  I love all of the outdoor experiences that are connected with Fall.  Pumpkin farms (choosing the perfect one,  carving a funny face),  picking apples (making apple sauce),  collecting leaves, acorns, chestnuts,  raking leaves (jumping in the pile),  watching the gray squirrels “frisk their bushy tails”.  And along with these invigorating activities are many Fall/Halloween events calling out to families to attend and enjoy.

Here’s where I suggest caution and judgment.  As tempting as every poster and advertisement looks,  telling us about the fun and excitement to be had,  as hard as it is to be pulled by well-intentioned friends and relatives to come join them –  as parents,  we need to keep one thing in mind.  You guessed it – less is more.

We need to avoid over-saturation that results in over-stimulated children,  tired children, whining and acting-out children and choose the event or two that this year will work the best for your children and your family,  for your time, your budget and your routine.  Children respond positively to simplicity – to the necessary “space” to integrate an experience into their life,  to extend it through picture books and pretend- play at home.

Children need time.  Trust them!  We don’t need to fill every waking hour with a new experience.  Let them digest a few and their memory and connection to the experience will be sharper,  stronger and more appreciated.

Halloween/Fall activities only start the ball rolling for the season ahead.  From now through spring, there is something to celebrate.  Use your judgment, choose wisely and in your family’s best interest – and then, simply,  enjoy!

And now – after all that – a reminder about Family Resources 3rd Annual Costume Swap.  It takes place on Saturday, October 10th from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.   Drop off a clean, gently used costume and all props and accessories attached, any day this week from 8:30 – 5:00 p.m.  You will receive a voucher to choose another costume at the Costume Swap.

There will be fun fall activities and crafts for the children and refreshments!  Attendance is free.

Family Resources strives to always offer activities and crafts that delight and engage the children.  We look forward to another fun day on Saturday, October 10th and also, to seeing you and your family if you choose Costume Swap as one of your family’s Fall activities this year!

Comments Off on Less is more …two

Filed under Uncategorized