The Power of “Yet” Part 1

Children Outdoors Playing Balloons TogetherJulie Nemeth, Ph.D., is a mother and therapist who lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two sons. As a licensed psychologist, she maintains a private practice in Center City, specializing in fertility issues, pregnancy, and parenting, as well as healing from eating concerns and childhood trauma.

A few days ago I overheard my two boys playing with a balloon in the next room. My younger son’s voice began to quiver from tears as he explained that he couldn’t hit the balloon high in the air. My older son quickly responded, “not yet.” As I heard this, my heart filled with joy! My older son understood that a little word like “yet” gave his brother hope that someday, with practice and persistence, he would hit the balloon higher.

I spoke about the power of yet in my last entry (https://thoughtfulparenting.org/2018/10/15/reflections-of-starting-school-again/)

In that blog post, I noted that by simply adding the word “yet” we could tell our kids we believe in them. The Power of Yet was introduced and developed by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. in her groundbreaking book,  Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

To bring the Power of Yet into our lives as parents it is essential to develop a nuanced understanding of a Growth Mindset. Continue reading

Now For Another Topic You Won’t Want to Talk to Your Children About: Sexting

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Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels
Dr. Corinne Masur
On this blog we try to provide guidance for parents on how to talk about difficult topics with children– sex, death, and now, sexting.

You might think that talking to your children about sexting isn’t necessary, but it’s a fact that by middle school, most kids know what sexting is and they probably know who in their class has done it.  They may have seen photos that kids they know have sent out of themselves – or parts of themselves – unclothed.

And this isn’t the only reason to talk with your children about sexting. It’s a conversation that can open the door to many subjects: How can we communicate our interest in someone? How can we communicate in a healthy way once we are in a relationship? How can we set limits on what we are comfortable with and not comfortable with in a relationship – any relationship – including friendships, relationships with people of the opposite sex, etc.

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Sharenting

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Dr. Corinne Masur

It used to be that friends and family exchanged stories about their children at get togethers.  The children under discussion were often there and could say “Oh, Mom!” or “Oh, Dad!” and everyone would laugh.  And, after the party, the child could yell at the mother or discuss with the father how they felt about the story that was shared.

Now stories about children, information about children, and images of children are shared by parents all the time– and without the child’s awareness,  It’s done online and for various reasons. Sometimes the child looks adorable or has accomplished something, sometimes the parents want to share information about their child’s ongoing development, sometimes the parent is looking for support because some aspect of their parenting is difficult.  And sometimes parents share in order to meet their own needs for gratification– to see how many likes they can get, how much support they can get for themselves, etc. And regardless of parental motivation, the today’s audience includes not only friends and family, but often strangers with varying agendas of their own.

Is it time to rethink our sharing of information about our children and images of them?

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Can You Trust Your Child’s Health Complaints?

sick-childDr. Corinne Masur

A few weeks ago a mother came in wondering if her daughter’s complaints in the night were real.  Her daughter had had a virus but was now largely over it. And yet she kept waking up and complaining that she was scared.  Was this a manipulation designed to get mom to sleep in her room again as she had when she had been so sick? Or was something else going on?

The little girl, who was 4, had clung to her mother and said she was scared over and over. Finally and with a great deal of questioning, the little girl told her mom that she felt as if she couldn’t breathe.

Again, the mother wondered: Is this real? Or does she just want me to stay in her room?

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Helping Young Children Build Friendships

group_of_young_kids.pngElizabeth Hartman is the mom of two young boys and has a background in non-profit management. She lives in upstate New York and when she’s not busy with her family, she serves as an educational advocate, holds leadership roles in two local non-profit boards, and volunteers at a local community center.

If you have ever worried about your young child making friends, you are not alone!  While some children are social butterflies who make friends effortlessly, many others are slower to make friendships with peers.  Fortunately for us parents, our children have many years to hone their developing social skills and have us as their allies and guides in navigating the waters of new relationships!

As a mom of a preschooler and kindergartener, I have found the following things to be invaluable in supporting new friendships for my sons:

  1. Find the right match: Some children don’t mesh well, and that’s okay!  Think about your own life and friendships. You may notice that you gravitate towards outgoing people, quiet people, silly people or serious types.  The same is true of our children. A quieter child might enjoy spending time with another who loves directing activities or that same gentle soul might find a more outgoing child to be overwhelming.  By talking to your child, observing her with other children, and speaking with her classroom teacher, you can gather ideas for potential new friends.

  1. Set a date: Once you have a new friend in mind, contact the other parent to set up a playdate.  Planning can be a challenge but meeting up at a school playground at pickup time, or getting the kids together for lunch on a weekend day or dinner on a school night are all options that can fit into busy schedules.

  1. Plan for success: Talk to your child ahead of time about the playdate.  What can the kids do together? If you have a list of ideas that your child has pre-approved, it can be easier to make a helpful suggestion in the moment.  If you are hosting at your home, put away any toys that your child isn’t comfortable sharing and set out some easy favorites that are age appropriate. Thomas trains, arts and crafts, sensory play like play doh or slime, and dress up are big favorites for sharing with friends at my house! No need to plan elaborate projects – just let the kids play.

  2. Update your routine: Make talking about friends a regular part of your child’s day.  Questions like, what did you do at recess today? Who did you sit with at snack/lunch? Did anything funny happen at school today?in addition to asking about specific children you’ve already heard about can be helpful conversation starters. For preschoolers who are less generous with words, the classroom teacher or assistant can be a huge help in sharing hints about what to ask your child and who your child has been spending time with.  Try to keep conversations with your child short, pleasant and low-key. Show enthusiasm when they talk about their day (but don’t overdo it!) and remember details they share so you can ask more specific questions next time.

  3. Role play & reflect with your child: If you notice your child struggling with something at a playdate or you hear about a challenge at school, wait to bring it up until you can find a quiet moment at home or in the car.  Ask neutral and open ended questions like “I noticed/heard about x, can you tell me more about that? How did you feel when that happened? How do you think your friend felt? What do you think you’ll do if that happens again?  You can even role play with your child if it’s comfortable for her! Let her choose whether to take the role of her friend or herself.

  4. Trust your child:  If your child says he or she would like to invite a particular friend over, follow up!  If your child tells you he or she likes a particular child at school, make it a point to call that child’s parent to make a date for the children to get together.  Even 3 and 4 year olds know who they like and who they don’t. Support their choices!

  5. Model friendships: Let your child see you interacting with your friends.  Have people over to the house and model what being a good host looks like.  Enjoying being with friends is a value that can be demonstrated to your children in your own ways of socializing and treating friends.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that there’s no rush or pressure to build these skills.  Each child will learn at a different pace and have a different level of interest in making new friends.  Just position yourself as the relaxed and supportive guide and let your child drive the process!

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