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
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
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.
Of all the many human emotions, sadness can be one of the most difficult to manage. It occurs at many levels and in many different ways: it can be as simple as disappointment or as complex as grief and depression. Commonly identified as one of the primary or core emotions, sadness is also one of the first to develop and can be experienced very early in life. Magination Press book, A Feel Better Book For Little Tears by Holly Brochmann and Leah Bowen, is a beginner’s book that addresses the overall concept of sadness. It also provides parents and caregivers tools not only to help children process and cope with this difficult emotion, but to convey that it is normal--everyone feels sad sometimes. Here are some ways you can help your child understand and cope with sadness: Responding to Sadness Sadness can be felt, and expressed, in a variety of physical ways. Tears are the most obvious indications of sadness, but children may manifest sadness in other ways like anger, isolation, clinginess, or stomach ache. A child may be unable to communicate or even recognize some of these physical manifestations. As a parent, first take note of changes in behavior that may demonstrate the less obvious reactions. Then you can help them connect those reactions to the sadness with verbal cues. For example, if your child is being extra clingy, you can simply acknowledge their feelings by saying, “I know it makes you sad when Mommy can’t be with you all the time.” Children can be sad for so many reasons, some of which may be significant to others, while others may seem miniscule or even ridiculous. It’s important to remember that while the child’s feelings may appear insignificant to you as an adult, they are quite the opposite from the child’s perspective. Bear in mind age-appropriate sadness and respond with both empathy and sympathy rather than trivializing your child’s feelings. “I’m so sorry you can’t wear your monster shirt today. I know it’s your favorite and you are sad when it isn’t clean. I understand how you feel, because I feel sad when that happens to me, too.” Normalizing Sadness One of the most important messages you can convey to your child during times of sadness is that you are there for them. Sadness can be a lonely emotion, especially if experiencing something very personal and individual. It helps to have support from someone who knows what you are going through. If your child loses their favorite stuffed animal, for example, listen to them, however often they want to talk about it. Storytelling in this way may be their way to process their feelings. You may also normalize their feelings by sharing a story about how you experienced a similar loss when you were their age. Be honest about how sad you were and how you cried. Talk about what helped you with your sad feelings. In the meantime, let your child know you will be there forRead More