Uncategorized

Help Your Child Tame Worry Thoughts with Mindful Breathing

Worry, or anxiety, is a normal reaction to something dangerous in our environment. In fact, anxiety helps us avoid something that is likely to cause us harm. However, children may be prone to excessive worry and worry about events that are unlikely to happen. When such anxiety negatively impacts a child’s everyday life, a mental health professional my diagnose an anxiety disorder. At the root of anxiety-related disorders are worry thoughts. This excerpt from the Note to Parents and Caregivers by Ara J. Schmitt, PhD, in Magination Press’s book, Mindful Bea and the Worry Tree, by Gail Silver, helps parents understand worry thoughts and provides a strategy for parents to help their children cope with them. Understanding Worry Thoughts Psychologists refer to worry thoughts as “cognitive distortions.” In Mindful Bea and the Worry Tree, Bea experiences at least five kinds of worry thoughts. Her first worry thought is: Must or should thinking: thinking that things must or should be a certain way. For example, Bea thinks her birthday party must be perfect. This often can lead a second distortion, such as black-or white thinking. Black-or-white thinking: an all-or-nothing way of thinking, allowing for no middle ground. Bea appears to believe that her party will either be perfect and everyone will have fun, or the party will be disastrous with unhappy guests. In her mind, it does not seem possible to have a disappointing hiccup along the way, but still a great party overall. The series of worry thoughts continues, when, as a result of these unreasonable thoughts, Bea appears to jump to conclusions. Jump to conclusions: to form negative conclusions based on little or no evidence. Bea’s series of worry thoughts leads her to jump to the conclusion that her friends will call her names or not want to stay at her party if it’s not flawless. The worry thought that Bea appears to have most often is called catastrophizing. Castastrophizing: expecting negative events to happen. Bea asks “what if?” repeatedly: “what if there isn’t enough cake?” “what if no one comes?”. This isn’t likely to happen, but Bea worries about every possible negative outcome. She’s able to do this because she is filtering. Filtering: filtering out all positive thoughts and evidence in favor of negative thoughts. Bea filters out thoughts and evidence that her party will go well, like her experience at previous parties and her mother’s preparation for the current party, in favor of negative thoughts. How Parents Can Help Parents can explain that the body and mind are connected, and calming the body can help calm the mind. The worries can still be there for now, but the child can use their breath to help their body feel better. During the tense moments of worry thoughts, parents can lead their child through this simple relaxation exercise: In a calm, reassuring voice, prompt your child to put a pause on their worry thoughts. It can help to give them a  concrete suggestion, such as telling their worries

Read More
Help Your Child Tame Worry Thoughts with Mindful Breathing 2019-11-19T17:44:12-05:00

Build Your Child’s Spatial Awareness by Exploring the Outdoors

We use spatial thinking every day. When we pack a backpack so that everything fits, or use words like “on,” “under,” or “next to,” which describe how things are related to each other, we’re thinking spatially. Children start developing their spatial thinking skills at an early age, and like any skill, it takes practice. When you combine early orienting and mapping skills with adventures outdoors, you’ll build your child’s spatial thinking skills and also foster their curiosity about exploration and discovery.  Magination Press’s Camilla, Cartographer, by Julie Dillemuth,Ph.D., provides an introduction to spatial thinking and problem solving. Camilla uses spatial thinking skills as she explores maps and her forest. The note to parents and caregivers provides specific activities to develop spatial thinking skills and foster an interest in exploration and discovery. Orienting and Navigating With a Compass Camilla and her friend, Parsley, use a compass to find their way to the creek when snow covers the path they know and all the familiar landmarks. You can help your child understand the cardinal directions, north, south, east, and west, by using a map and a compass to navigate to a destination in your neighborhood.  Show your child how a compass will point to the north. Show your child where they are on the map, which direction is north on the map, and where your destination (the park, library, or school for example) is located. Let your child take the lead navigating. Mistakes along the way are okay! Map Making A cartographer is someone who makes maps. Maps are drawings that show relationships of things in space, and let us compare things about places across space or time. Involving your child in reading, making, and using maps helps them develop their spatial thinking skills, and can inspire them to explore and discover. Help your child create a map of a large area with interesting features, such as a park or playground.  Show your child how to use a compass to orient yourselves facing north.  Sit in a place with a good view of the area you are going to map, facing north.  In one corner of a sheet of paper, have your child draw a compass rose and consult the compass to label it N, S,E, and W.   Now, have your child start drawing the map--paths, trees, grass, playground equipment, etc. Talk about the cardinal directions as she draws features. When the map is complete, you can have fun with your map by one of you drawing a path for the other person to follow, or hiding an object for the other person to find and giving hints by pointing to where it is on the map. Your child may have other ideas about how to use the map--follow their lead! Exploration and Discovery It’s important for kids to realize that even though it may seem like everything has already been discovered, and that grown-ups have all the answers, there is still so much we don’t know. Remind kids that there

Read More
Build Your Child’s Spatial Awareness by Exploring the Outdoors 2019-10-29T20:42:14-05:00

Three Ways to Help Your Child Build Empathy

As a parent, helping a child become a confident and compassionate member of a community involves helping them develop healthy self-esteem, respect for everyone, and the ability to forgive themselves and others. In Magination Press book Red Yellow Blue, author Lysa Mullady suggests these strategies to foster empathy and cooperation: Developing Healthy Self-Esteem As caregivers, we cultivate a strong self-image in our children by helping them discover their unique talents. To develop positive self-worth in a child, start with open and honest dialog. Ask questions about what they like and prefer. When a caregiver acknowledges a child’s preferences, they validate the child’s unique likes. Providing opportunities for children to choose what they like, and valuing their choices, guides children to feel special for who they are. Encourage children to explore and develop their unique interests. Start by taking notice of what they choose to do with their independent time. Observing kids doing what they like to do may help parents uncover unique capabilities like artististic creativity, natural athleticism, or scientific curiosity.  Encourage kids to try new things often. It’s not usual for a child’s interests to change. Look for enjoyment, not proficiency. A child may love an activity, but have to work hard to master it. It is more important that a child is trying and having fun than it is to be the most talented in the arena. Having a strong sense of purpose and accomplishment are also essential to healthy self-esteem. When children are given a responsibility, their actions help the whole family. Look for age-appropriate jobs kids can do in daily routines. Then, make the connection between the child’s efforts and the positive effect they have on others. Putting their shoes away keeps everyone safe from tripping over them. Taking plates from the table to the sink makes a big job easier for the person doing the washing. Point out how everyone benefits from the child’s assistance.  Promoting Respect for Everyone Self-respect is feeling good about who you are. Dignity is feeling worthy of honor and treating others with the same admiration. We are all important as individuals. We also live in communities with others. Young children are, by nature, self-centered. They see the world as it relates to themselves and their own experiences. As they grow, they need opportunities to develop social skills and empathy. Positive communication is necessary to work productively in a group. Practicing active listening and speaking with children by picking a topic and talking about it. Reflect what the child says and follow up with a question. It doesn’t matter what is discussed; make bantering back and forth fun. When a child is upset, teach them how to talk about their feelings. While using a quiet voice, fill in the blanks: “I feel ______ when _____ .” It is essential that children learn how to speak to others in a peaceful way, even when frustrated. Relating to others in a positive way is the key to collaboration. Fostering Forgiveness for Self

Read More
Three Ways to Help Your Child Build Empathy 2019-07-15T13:04:42-05:00