Part of living a full life involves having new experiences. New experiences help us grow and develop as a person, gain confidence, and build self-esteem. Whether it’s starting a new job, taking up a new hobby, or meeting new people, most of us are familiar with a feeling of shyness or anxiety that can be stirred up within even the most extroverted personalities. Sometimes shyness can affect us in all sorts of negative ways. It’s important to let our kids know that we all feel this emotion from time to time, and that there are lots of strategies to help us cope with new experiences without being overcome with anxiety. Shyness is the main theme of Magination Press book Sophie’s Shell. Sophie is a happy snail who wants to learn more about the world around her. In fact, she is counting down the days before she can start school. When she gets to school though, that all seems to change. Sophie’s shy feeling is so strong that she has to keep popping back into her shell. POP! Parents may also identify with this. Many have had the experience of taking an excited child to a birthday party, but upon arrival, they could hardly look up, didn’t want to play, dance, or join in with the games, and just clung to their leg for the entire time. As a parent, you can feel surprised and frustrated and want to say, “Just go and enjoy yourself!”, “Don’t be shy!”, “Speak up!”, but these reactions won’t help your child or you. How You Can Help Don’t draw attention to it In Sophie’s Shell, Sophie has many episodes of feeling shy. This is often because people are paying lots of attention to her, even if it’s for positive things like admiring her beautiful art. Adults can help children when they are feeling shy by simply carrying on calmly and not drawing attention to it. Discreetly asking other adults to do the same can also help. Everyone feels shy sometimes, even grown ups Let your child know that everyone can feel shy in certain situations, and that it’s not something to feel ashamed of. Shyness can make us feel uncomfortable: sometimes Sophie has “a wobbly feeling in her tummy.” Share with your child times when you have felt shy, how you coped with it, and how the feeling went away. Little by little With all experiences, the more familiar you are with a new situation, the easier it becomes and the less shy you feel. This means being patient and believing that being in new situations will get easier. Before a new experience, talk to your child about where they are going and how many people might be there. Suggest a way to make a new friend, such as smiling and saying, “Hi.” Arrive to a party early, so there are fewer people. This can help your child get used to the environment without them feeling they are arriving to lots of new faces. Bring a conversation piece. Encourage your child to bringRead More
Families savor happy memories. Cooking together, singing, reading, telling stories, hosting family gatherings—all of these experiences can create lovely memories. A child who gets to spend time with a beloved grandparent or other senior often develops a special connection with that person. Along with those special memories and connections also come the challenging realities of aging. How do children respond to grandparents or other seniors who may begin to experience memory loss, and where do children have opportunities to share and discuss their confusion, worries, and feelings? Magination Press book, My Singing Nana, by Pat Mora, explores a child’s experience as his grandmother begins to lose her memory. The note to parents provides some strategies to help a child understand and cope with a loved one’s developing dementia. Be truthful with children. Share age appropriate information. In the story, Billy and his grandmother, Nana, have a special bond. They bake, read, and sing together. When Nana begins to have trouble remembering things, Billy is worried. His mother explains that Nana does have trouble remembering things, and that she took Nana to the doctor. The doctor said that Nana sometimes needs their help. Billy’s mother answers his questions and assures him that he and Nana can still do the things they like to do together. Encourage children to share their worries with their parents and other trusted family members or teachers. Children’s questions provide clues about appropriate issues to address with a child and his or her level of understanding. In the story, Billy’s mother notices that he is worried and asks him what is the matter. She listens to his concerns about Nana and answers his questions. Remind children to be polite and patient with their family members. When a loved one exhibits memory loss, a child might not know how to react. Billy’s mother explains that Nana needs their help. When his Nana can’t remember things, Billy and his siblings gently remind her. Model loving, thoughtful behavior that strengthens family bonds. Showing a child that, even though a loved one may be struggling to remember things, including him or her in family experiences sends a powerful message of love and support. In the story, although Nana is beginning to experience the early stages of dementia, her family continues to include her in their daily routines. Billy even figures out a way to draw on his special connection with Nana to include her in a family event by singing with her. Coping with the challenges of aging is difficult for all family members, children and parents alike. Being honest about what is happening, encouraging discussion and expression of feelings, and modeling and encouraging loving support and care can help your child through this process. This article is an exclusive partial excerpt from My Singing Nana by Pat Mora, published by Magination Press.Read More
Help Your Little Worrier Stay Calm
A Feel Better Book for Little Worriers helps children understand what worries are and what to do when they are feeling worried. From verses that demonstrate body awareness to coping strategies for kids, A Feel Better Book is not only enjoyable for children to read, but also helpful for both children and caregivers. To learn more about how you can help your child cope with worries, check out our article Stress Management Exercises for Anxious Children.
As adults, we know we can be our own worst critics. As parents and caregivers, we can help kids develop strong self-care skills to help them weather adversity and cheer themselves on. Magination Press’s Fantastic You by Danielle Dufayet shows young readers how to develop a positive and nurturing relationship with themselves. In the note to parents and caregivers, Dr. Julia Martin Burch offers strategies to help children build self-care skills that mirror what the kids in Fantastic You do. Identifying Emotions Learning to notice, identify, and soothe their own emotions begins in childhood, but your child will continue to develop these skills throughout their lives. Emotions can be overwhelming to all of us, but especially for young children, surges in emotion and the physical sensations that go with them, like butterflies in their tummies or feeling shaky, can be confusing. They rely on you to help them figure out what the feelings mean and to name them. Get curious with your child about what they are feeling. You can ask them what is happening inside their body and if they can name the emotion they are feeling. You can also support them by describing what you see and guessing what the emotion might be that they are feeling. “I see that your face is red and your hands are in fists. When I do those actions, I’m often feeling angry. Do you think that’s how you are feeling?” Self-validation Along with learning to recognize and identify emotions, it’s important for children to learn that emotions aren’t right or wrong, they just are. No matter how big or painful an emotion is, it is a safe and acceptable experience. You can help children by noticing and validating their emotions. For example, you could say, “Given that it’s raining and we can’t go to the beach, I can see why you are feeling sad.” When children learn to validate their own feelings, it allows them to reduce the intensity of an emotion they are feeling in the moment and builds confidence in their ability to manage their emotions. Self-soothing Help your child discover which activities or experiences help them calm down or feel better. What helps a child feel better will depend on the situation and on the child’s preferences, so explore a lot of different activities. Some kids will find that soothing their senses with music, a hot bath, looking at clouds, or snuggling with a favorite lovey might help. Others might find a project like building a fort or putting on a puppet show is a good distraction. Finding out what helps you self-soothe is an important skill that’s fun to develop. Helpful self-talk Learning to recognize how we talk to ourselves is another important life skill. Helping your child understand how powerful their inner voice can be is the first step in teaching them to use positive self-talk. When we talk to ourselves in a negative way, we often feel worse and are less likely to persistRead More