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  1. until
    A free workshop for expecting parents and parents with children up to aged three who are curious about three child development essentials that they can focus on in their daily parenting amid the pandemic chaos/fatigue. This workshop is all about going back to the basics of infant & toddler development while making it social justice conscious too. In this free workshop, parents will learn that: + When they cut out the parenting fuss and come back to care, they can focus on the three essentials things that lay a resilient foundation of development for your child. They are Reciprocity, Regulation, and Reconnection (3 R’s). + When they implement the 3 R’s in daily parenting- whether it’s during toilet training or tantrum- they’re practicing three concepts of transformative justice too. They'll unpack how concepts like power-with, solidarity, and accountability aren’t just for social justice. They nurture their child's development too. RSVP required. Please go here to register. This is an external partner event. Please contact the organization directly with any questions or concerns: nat@comebacktocare.com
  2. Video

    Anatomy of a Meltdown

    In this presentation you will learn to identify the parts of a meltdown that are developmentally appropriate and the parts that aren’t so you can address your children’s behavior most effectively.
  3. Article
    Most of us probably have a good idea what it takes to get our young children to love reading. Snuggling up with a favorite book at bedtime, for example, sends a clear message about the value of reading. But what about a love of math? For many parents, it’s not so obvious how to help young children appreciate math — especially if they don’t enjoy it themselves or feel their skills in the subject are lacking. Yet parents are a powerful influence on how children feel about math. Feelings? Yes, research is clear that children’s mindset — their beliefs about what math is and who can do math well — helps determine their math achievement. So, if you’re a parent and don’t consider yourself a math person, there are still ways you can help your child succeed. First, try putting aside any pressure you feel to be their math teacher, and instead, think of yourself as a math cheerleader! With that perspective, following are five strategies you can use to cheer your child on and encourage their love of math. Be curious The concept of being a “math person” — or not — is a myth. But even if you don’t identify as someone who likes or is good at math right now, you can still model curiosity about the subject. You don’t have to have all the answers, but you can ask good questions. Two great questions to ask your kids: “What do you notice?” and, “What do you see?” Look with a math lens We use lenses all the time to help us see things differently: to improve our vision, to shade our eyes from the sun, to magnify microscopic organisms and to watch a 3-D movie. In the same way, we can use a math lens to help our children see the world differently. For example, you and your child might look at how eggs in a carton are lined up in two rows of six. You might notice the patterns on a checkerboard, or the symmetry of a building, shapes in the tile floor, height of a tree, rhythm of a song, etc. By pointing these things out, it won’t take long for your child to recognize the ways math is present everywhere they look. Picture books, too, are a great invitation to look at the world with a math lens. Visit your public library and check out these award-winning Mathical Prize books. Talk about math You’ve got chores to do: grocery shopping, washing dishes, doing laundry, straightening up the house. These tasks all offer opportunities to help your child sort, count, make comparisons and reason spatially. The Early Math Collaborative at Erikson Institute offers many practical ideas for math at home. Remember that language and math skills develop together. Take advantage of small moments to talk about math ideas as you move through your day together — think of it as the curriculum of life! Play games Children learn best through play. Games provide children with enjoyable math practice skills while also developing their logical, strategic thinking. Simple card games such as Uno and Memory offer opportunities for matching and comparing. Path-based board games like Parcheesi or Chutes and Ladders, in which children use dice or spinners to advance spaces, develop a sense of number magnitude. Strategy games like Connect Four and Mancala require children to plan their problem-solving by thinking a step ahead. Puzzles are also great for spatial reasoning. The blog Games for Young Minds is full of game suggestions and reviews to help you plan your next family game night that encourages your child’s love of math. Embrace effort Making mistakes and trying to figure things out is part of doing math. How you respond when you or your child makes an error can send the message that math is a process and that success comes from effort. As children move through school, there’s bound to be some struggle learning math — and you may be in the position to help with homework. In these situations, pause for a moment before offering assistance. This sends the message that it’s okay for them to not understand right away. As parents, we have to develop a stronger stomach for some temporary frustration. This is how your child will learn problem solving and perseverance — both crucial skills for life that math teaches particularly well. Jeanine O'Nan Brownell is the mother of three children. She works at Erikson Institute’s Early Math Collaborative and partners with school districts, childcare centers, and agencies to design programs of professional learning for preK-3rd grade teachers.
  4. NPN and RUSH Kids Pediatric Therapy teamed up for a small group panel discussion on the developmental milestones your child should be reaching during their first year ages 0-12 months. This webinar covers: Infant milestones from 0-12 months What skills children are expected to achieve at each month of development Ideas of how to use tools that parents already have in the home to assist their children in achieving the milestones Suggestions for how to elicit skills (e.g., tummy time or rolling) What can make reaching milestones tricky for kids A Q&A portion will follow, and the presenters will provide resources for parents to use to encourage basic skill acquisition.
  5. So your child is about to begin this huge stage of independent self-care and you have a million questions. Are they ready? Is it going to be a complete disaster? Will they cry? Will you? On the flip side, there’s the glory of no more diapers. Ever. Think of all the saved money you can stash away in that college fund. Not to mention, you really need a break. Plus, most preschools won’t let you drop off a kid who isn’t fully potty trained. Clearly, this has to happen. You survey your friends about what they did and then read a couple of potty training books you don’t have time to read. And yet, it still seems confusing and like a huge drag you’d rather put off till another day, month, year...perhaps forever. But what about preschool? This has to happen. When getting ready to potty train my own son, I had a crazy thought: Was there any way to make this fun? Not only for myself, but because I still vividly remembered a graduate psychology course in which we learned about Erikson’s second stage of development: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt. Usually completed between 18 months and three years old, it’s the period when children first encounter shame — the message of “You are bad” instead of “You made a bad choice.” Without even realizing it, parents and caregivers often use shame in potty training, not understanding how it can affect their littles. [Related: Potty Training for All Abilities (members-only video)] Knowing this, I was determined to make potty training a shame-free and fun experience. Pictured is the exact behavior chart I used. The result? A fully potty trained kid in no time. Quick note: I also had a second chart just for potty training when out and about. Because children have different things they struggle with — one might fear pooping in general, while another won’t go to the bathroom at school — feel free to get creative and make a chart that fits your child’s needs. 1. Get out all of your craft supplies and involve your child in the process. 2. Draw a fun shape like a circle or star and section it off into however many days you choose. 3. Write a reward in each box. I tried to create as many non-food rewards as possible and added special “bigger” rewards along the way; for example, making slime was a big hit, as was “phone” time. 4. This is the most important step: Buy or gather all of the rewards and place them in one spot in your home. Make sure your child can see everything. The idea behind this is that they will not have to wait to get their reward. When my son saw everything lined up on top of the hutch, he immediately bought into the program and said, “I’m going to get everything on my chart.” [Related: Best Chicago playgrounds for the potty-training toddler] A few things to keep in mind: No time like the present Summer is a great season to start this adventure because your kiddos can be naked without freezing. Less clothing to fuss with in and out of the bathroom is a win for everyone. If you can, take a couple of days off or a long weekend to potty train. Stay close to home, play board games, go to the park, and enjoy time with your little one outdoors. (Added bonus if you’ve got a boy: they can always pee on a tree in a pinch.) That said, always consider... Timing The best potty training advice ever given to me came from my pediatrician, who said to wait for the child to show interest. I took my son shopping for undies and then asked him every day for almost a month if he wanted to wear a diaper or undies. After Day 26, he finally said “undies” and I had them on him so fast he never had time to look back. Patience This is not always a quick process. Try not to get discouraged or frustrated. I quickly learned that if I got upset so would my son. Children feed off of our feelings. I began to act like it was no big deal and with the pressure off, there was room for fun. Phrases to have ready “I would never ask you to do something I didn’t think you could do.” “We all make mistakes; it’s part of learning.” “You’ve got this potty training thing down.” Humor Dance parties were the biggest part of our success. Every time he went to the bathroom, we would celebrate. He even had his own potty touchdown move. Take your time with the process so you can appreciate the joy of watching your little one accomplish this huge milestone.
  6. Video
    Not sure if you and your child are ready to kiss and go? Check out this 30-minute webinar presented by Michelle Lee of Fussy Babies Network, a project at the Erikson Institute. Lee gives a thorough overview of the causes behind separation anxiety as well as ways to calm you and your child's fears on the first day of school, including: * How to help children prepare for and cope with the transition to school * Strategies and tools you can use to prepare your child for school and to help them adjust to new routines * Identify and address forms of separation anxiety your child may be experiencing * How parents can manage their own feelings about this big step in their child’s life
  7. In this 60-minute webinar, Chicago-based developmental and occupational therapist Dr. Laura Mraz uncovers strategies to help parents get on track with potty training typically developing toddlers and those with various developmental delays. Watch the above video. Are you struggling to potty train your toddler or want some great tips before you get started? This interactive live webinar reviews potty training techniques and challenges for children of all abilities. The webinar will review age-appropriate development skills required for potty training, research-based potty training approaches and the top potty-training products on the market. In addition, clear and effective strategies to potty train your child will be provided along with useful tips for common potty training challenges, including specific challenges common with children with autism, sensory processing disorder and other developmental delays.
  8. Occupational therapists Sarah Flood and Joanna Pasheluk at Chicago Pediatric Therapy & Wellness Center provide sensory awareness information to educate parents on identifying and addressing their child's sensory needs at home. Watch the video.Occupational therapy can be a big help to kids on the autism spectrum, as well as many kids with sensory challenges. But how do you continue OT techniques at home between appointments? In this 20-minute video led by two experienced OTs, you'll learn how to make sensory blankets and bins, build an obstacle course, and many other creative ideas to transform your home into a sensory-rich environment without breaking your budget.
  9. Article
    “Rachel did it,” I insisted, at three years old, when my parents asked why there was blue ink on our ecru walls and white couch. I was informing them that my sister, their devious daughter, was to blame. After a booming count to three (my father’s timeframe to “come clean”), I was punished for vandalism—and lying. As a child psychologist, I ask parents to list the concerns they have about their child. Although they may report behaviors such as yelling, hitting, or throwing tantrums, they often end with, “…but what bothers us the most is the lying.” Although parents may view their child’s lying as a personal affront, psychologists take a different perspective on the matter. In fact, there are two key reasons why I love lying. Reason #1: Lying is normal Lying is a normal stage in development and a sign of cognitive growth. Research shows us that, even by age two, children start to lie to their parents. The onset of lying coincides with—and likely requires—the development of (a) perspective-taking skills, or putting oneself in another’s shoes, what psychologists refer to as “Theory of Mind,” and (b) executive functioning skills, such as impulse control, flexible thinking, and the ability to hold information in mind when working through problems (working memory). Neurobiologically, all of these skills develop as the front part of the brain, called the prefrontal cortex, matures. Although my three-year-old brain was developed enough to know that lying was a good way to avoid punishment, I didn’t understand that blaming my six-week-old sister, who couldn’t hold a crayon, was essentially self-incrimination. I lied, but I was bad at it. Just as children learn to crawl before they learn to walk, their lying becomes more sophisticated over time. As you might guess, children become better liars as their perspective-taking, executive functioning, and prefrontal cortex develop further. Reason #2: Lying is a clue for parents Lying serves a purpose for the child, that is, to solve a problem. For example, when children have a problem (e.g., “I did something that will get me punished”), lying is one strategy to solve it (e.g., “If I lie, I won’t get punished”). Whether a child kicks, screams, cries, or lies, these behaviors have functions, and when parents tell me that their child lied to them, my goal is to identify the function of the lying. When we can understand the function of a child’s behavior, we can identify the problem that the child was trying to solve and, ultimately, teach the child more appropriate ways to solve problems (e.g., by telling the truth). What can parents do when their child lies? Despite my love of lying, it’s not a behavior we want to perpetuate and not one that parents want to reinforce. Therefore, to conclude, here are three tips for parents for when your child’s pants are on fire: 1. Along the lines of reason #2 above, reserve judgment about the lying, investigate the function of the behavior, identify the problem that your child was trying to solve, and teach your child more appropriate ways to solve problems. Collaborative and Proactive Solutions, an approach developed by Ross Greene, Ph.D., is an effective technique for parents to address their children’s challenging behaviors, including lying (see livesinthebalance.org). 2. Ask your child to promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Recent research shows that, when children promise to tell the truth, they are more likely to do so, even after committing a transgression. 3. Take a realistic, nuanced approach when talking with your child about lying. Not all lying is socially unacceptable. How many times have your parents said, “When you open Aunt Goldie’s present, be nice. Smile and tell her how much you like it.” Lying can be acceptable depending on the context. Learning to distinguish appropriate from inappropriate lying can be challenging for children.

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