Rabbi Steven Foster Early Learning Center
Where discovery meets community.


Susan's Helpful Hint of the Week

11/9: How do I handle my child's temper tantrums? The core skill that will help you through a temper tantrum is keeping your cool. Your upset will only fuel your child’s fire. Instead, use active calming techniques such as deep breathing to help manage these difficult, but developmentally normal fits. As in any conflict situation, focus on what you want your child to do, model this behavior or state yourself, and notice any hint of success. In terms of tantrums, the behavior or state of being that you want from your child is “calm.” Your job is to focus on “calm” and model calmness yourself. This may sound particularly difficult in the face of a screaming 3-year-old, but can we really expect a 3-year-old to keep his cool if we can’t stay cool ourselves?

Here’s an example: Your toddler wants a bag of candy he’s spied in the grocery aisle. You say, “No.” He crashes to the floor, screaming. You're feeling angry, embarrassed, exhausted and at your wits end. You feel like everyone’s looking at you. First, take three deep breaths to help calm the stress response in your body. Then, discipline yourself with the affirmation, “I’m safe. Keep breathing. I can handle this.”  Way to go! You’ve just set the internal foundation needed to teach your child how to handle frustration and become calm! Now you can address your upset child. Be encouraging. Get down at eye level with him and say, "You can handle this. Breathe with me. You're safe." Scoop him up, hold him in your arms and breathe deeply with him. When his body relaxes a little, say, “There you go, you’re calming down.”  Then tell him he has a choice, "You can sit in the cart and hold the list, or you can sit in the cart and hold your truck." Once he makes his choice, celebrate your success together, "You did it! You calmed yourself down and that's hard to do."
-Dr. Becky Bailey http://consciousdiscipline.com/resources/discipline-tips.asp

11/2: Children's expression of big feelings:  As adults, we’ve been taught to tame and hide our big emotions, often by stuffing them, displacing them, or distracting from them. Kids can’t do that yet. Early childhood educator Janet Lansbury has a great phrase for when kids display powerful feelings such as screaming, yelling, or crying. She suggests that parents “Let feelings be” by not reacting or punishing kids when they express powerful emotions. pyschologytoday

10/26: Don't forget to laugh: "Research shows that children laugh approximately 200 times a day, whereas adults laugh only 15-18 times. People who laugh more are healthier, experience less stress, are less likely to be depressed, and may even have an increased resistance to illness or physical problems. The children seem to be on to something that we adults have lost... "My observations of children support the research that shows that laughter is less about humor and more about creating social connections, where people build feelings of camaraderie and pay close attention to each other." -Deb Curtis (Author of Really Seeing Children)

10/11:  Strategies for Biting:  Although biting might not feel good, it's a natural part of development. For babies and young children, exploring their world means putting everything in their mouth. Add teeth and you’re headed for some painful interactions! Stay calm but firmly let these teething infants and toddling explorers know that “Ouch, that hurts!” and give them something more appropriate to take a bite of. When they are over-excited and bite a friend, go to the victim first. This teaches young children that you value healing over hurting and they are not going to get connection from you first when this occurs. After you’ve bandaged and given empathy to the injured party, turn toward the biter and say, “Look at_______’s face. He face is saying, “I’m hurt or scared”. Next, set the limit: “You may not bite. Biting hurts. What could we do that is kind to help_______ right now?” (If they don’t know what to do, offer suggestions like getting them a bandage, asking what the child needs, offering a stuffed animal or ice pack, etc.) When they are frustrated and bite, stay calm and remember that they are currently utilizing the only skills they possess. Again, attend to the victim first. You can help the victim with assertive language skills by telling his attacker, “Stop! Don’t bite me. That hurts! When you are mad, tell me, I am mad at you. instead of biting me.” Offer empathy to the biter with a statement like, “You didn’t have the words to use. You were feeling frustrated.” Next, set a firm and clear limit, “You may not bite. Biting hurts. Tell your friend that you feel frustrated.” Have the child practice this problem solving strategy. By avoiding an over-reaction, you can help children develop different strategies to handle the frustration, exploration, excitement and teething…which, although occasionally painful, are a natural part of their development.

10/3: Managing Emotional Literacy: "I prefer to teach my child…to be emotionally literate. That is the skill the child will need in order to overcome stress, anxiety, frustration, disappointment, anger, hurt and despair. I would teach my child the difficult situations in life help to improve our self-esteem, courage and self-reliance, and enable us to handle life on our own terms." - Dalip Singh from Emotional Intelligence at Work; A Professional Guide.
We here at the Rabbi Steven Foster Early Learning Center agree with this idea! This is a place for children to grow in their understanding of emotions and develop skills and tools to then manage these feelings and emotions.

9/28: Children's Reactions to Parents' Moods: Multiple research studies on emotional contagion have found that it only takes milliseconds for emotions like enthusiasm and joy, as well as sadness, fear, and anger, to pass from person to person, and this often occurs without either person realizing it (Goleman, 1991, Hatfield et al., 2014). Children especially pick up on their parents’ moods. If we are stressed, distracted, down, or always-on-the-verge-of-frustrated, kids emulate these moods. When we are peaceful and grounded, children model off that instead.

Holiday Resources

Learn About Sukkot with Shalom Sesame; Enjoying the Beauty of Nature

Sukkot and Simchat Torah Social Justice Guide

How to Ready Your Young Child for Yom Kippur

Rosh Hashana and the High Holiday Experience at Temple Emanuel