Thanks to Jill Kuramoto and the great team at KITV for having me on again yesterday. This time, we talked about how to know whether your child has ADHD — or is just an active kid. We also talked about how to slow down and enjoy this wild adventure of parenting a bit more. Check it out!
I’m digging deeper into the decision of whether to start Kindergarten this fall — or not. Look out for 4 in-depth posts on the subject. Check out my video over here –> for a sneak-peek!
Next, check out my first post in the series, where I show you how I make tough parenting decisions when there isn’t an easy answer. You can apply my method to your kindergarten decision, or any other tricky parenting dilemma.
Here’s the second post, for parents of shy kiddos. Even they can have a great start to their school careers.
And now for the third post. The “Redshirting” craze has me worried: Here’s why.
My fourth post requires a box of Kleenex for the sentimental among you (and I certainly count myself a member of your group). Our babies are growing up so fast! Some ideas on how to Let Go As They Grow. (Sigh.)
There will be 4 total entries this month, and I’ll post as they’re ready for you — so come back and check for each in the series.
It’s a fact of life: Whether you work at home or out of the home, part time or full time, life with young kids is always a juggling act.Achieving balance is really only aspirational — never truly possible. But living in Hawaii has shown me that surfing is an apt metaphor for what we all aspire to — a sense of freedom and control in the face of powerful life forces.
I’m especially proud of this post I wrote for my fab partners over at The Learning Care Group: Check it out, and let me know what YOUR tips are for staying sane when trying to stay on top of it all.
Remember this guy? This sweet, cuddly, awesome 4-year-old? Well, now he’s a big 5-year-old, and he’s been in kindergarten for about 7 weeks. He started out with an enthusiastic bang, but now we’re dealing with tears and major foot-dragging when it comes to going to school.
I know, I know — I shouldn’t be surprised. “Help! My Kindergartener Hates School All of a Sudden!” is one of my most popular posts — and a very common parenting dilemma. Fact is, young children are totally different animals than “school aged” kids — and by that, I mean 8-year-olds and up. Little kids are still developmentally more like preschoolers. And that means they’re likely to change their minds about — well, just about everything. So, starting off kindergarten all excited — then losing steam after a few weeks — isn’t a surprise. Check out my post (and the growing comment section, with my additional suggestions) for coping ideas.
And hang in there, if you’ve got a balking kindergartener. Usually, if you can support your child through this tricky developmental stage, the protests wind down by Thanksgiving.
In the meantime, Happy Halloween!
I recently wrote about amazing findings showing that stress in early life actually causes DNA damage.
Researchers at Duke have taken the next step, finding the exact receptor that is disabled by chronic stress, resulting in genetic damage.
This adds strength to what I believe about making sure our kids are brought up in Good Enough environments: We already know that a LITTLE bit of stress is a good thing. It toughens us up and helps us learn new lessons. But too much stress, over a long period of time, is a bad thing. That’s why children brought up in chronically abusive or deprived environments fare so poorly. And these folks at Duke have found a glimpse into exactly how that works, on a molecular level. Cool stuff.
Their research is connected to how our cells are damaged in a variety of ways — including by the aging process — and I know I’m not the only 40-something parent out there hoping science will help us push the envelope of healthy life way out into the future, giving us more time with our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Do you think science will offer us a cure for stress and aging — in our lifetimes? I hope so!
Dear Dr. Heather,
My daughter turns 5 right before the “cutoff” age for kindergarten – so she’ll be able to attend, but I’m not sure she’s ready. Should we have her start this fall, or wait another year?
Sam in Philly
All over the country, parents are going through the same dilemma. For many, like those with “early born” kids, the decision is easy. For others who have “late-borns” (like yours, and my fourth child — an October baby) — or for those who’s kids are a tad behind, developmentally — it’s a tough call. There’s no “magic” test for readiness, and no single developmental accomplishment that means your child is 100% ready.
Here is my basic Kindergarten Readiness Checklist of the areas I consider essential to success in the fall:
- Enthusiasm about learning
- The ability to speak understandably
- The ability to listen and follow instructions
- The desire to be independent
- Playing well with others (most of the time)
- Willingness to separate from parents
- Basic letter and number recognition
Here are 3 steps to help you make your decision:
- Have a basic “Kindergarten Readiness” test administered at your intended school. There are many such tests available.
- Discuss the results — plus the above readiness checklist — with the important adults in your child’s life, including prospective teachers. Your pediatrician can help too.
- Revisit your decision over the summer. A child who’s not ready in the spring might quickly become ready in the summer.
Consider YOUR child’s readiness, and make the decision independent of the “trends” in your neighborhood. Ignore the tendency to “go along with the Joneses” – whether to “hold back” or “push ahead”. Whether your kiddo starts kindergarten this year or next is irrelevant compared to the fantastic developments that he’s gone through in the past 4 or 5 years. Remember that tiny newborn bundle they handed you that day 4 or 5 years ago? Look at your baby now! Good work, Mom and Dad!
I’ve been sleep deprived since April 2001, when our oldest was born. Since then, I’ve tried every “trick” in the parenting book. And nothing seems effective at “making” my
kids sleep better. They’ve all evolved into being better sleepers over time.
That’s why I’m so interested in the line of research discussed in this study. Penn State scientists found — despite common parenting advice — that parents’ EMOTIONAL response to their children at bedtime was much more successful than any specific behavioral “trick” in getting children to sleep.
As a shrink, I tell parents that babies absorb their emotional messages. Parents are often surprised when I tell them that even the youngest babies sense their emotions — but it’s true.
In the shrinking world, we’ve been struggling internally for years over the predominant theoretical orientation — Behaviorism, and its spin-offs — and the power it holds over the way we do our work. Those of us who work with very young children understand that simple behavioral and operant conditioning simply doesn’t apply with the little ones. That’s why “Ferberizing” and related approaches are often ineffective. FIRST, babies need to feel emotionally (and physically) safe. Other learning can proceed from there. But sleep is an inherently scary proposition, and often triggers resistance and regression in children. It’s a weird and scary thing to transition into a sleep state.
So the fundamental message of this research at Penn State is both obvious to me — and very reassuring — as an Early Childhood specialist. I’m eager to see what else they discover in this line of inquiry, and I’ll be sure to share it with you.
Here’s a link to some of my “getting to sleep” advice. What’s yours?