10 Simple Ways to Build an Unbreakable Bond With Your Child, by Angela Pruess

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Our connection to our children means everything.

It means the difference between a confident child and an insecure one. It means the difference between a cooperative child and a defiant one. Our early attachments and ongoing connection to our children fostered through love, nurturance, and guidance is a strong predictor of our child’s success in many areas of life.

We’ve heard a lot about attachment, so the concept and importance of bonding with our baby seems obvious. Just because your little one has grown to become a lot bigger, smellier, and sassier doesn’t mean your bond and connection with them is any less vital to their development. In fact, it continues to be of the utmost importance throughout childhood.

Life with kids is busy. It’s not uncommon at the end of the day to find yourself wondering whether you even sat face to face with your child. Here’s the good news: You’re likely already engaging with your child in activities that promote a strong parent-child relationship.

Reading

We all know reading with children is a simple way to improve their language and reading skills. But research also shows that reading with children actually stimulates patterns of brain development responsible for connection and bonding.

This makes sense when we consider that story time usually involves cuddling, eye contact, and shared emotion. If you make reading together a priority in your home, you are without a doubt connecting with your child.

Art

Engaging in art or craft activities with children is an awesome way to provide not only a fun and enjoyable experience, but a therapeutic one as well. No matter their age, you’ll be hard pressed to find a child who can’t find an art medium that interests him.

When engaged in a creative process with children, we provide an outlet for them to express their thoughts and feelings. This is especially true with younger children, who aren’t yet able to verbalize their complex emotions. When your child has access to acreative outlet, odds are that interactions between the two of you will be more positive.

Music

Whether listening to them play an instrument or dancing to the “Trolls” soundtrack together, music offers lots of benefits for both parent and child, including bringing our awareness into our bodies and into the current moment. Your kids will be practicing mindfulness without even knowing it!

It’s pretty difficult to focus on a mistake at school yesterday or the test coming up tomorrow when we’re busy processing auditory input as well as coordinating our motor skills.

Nature

Feeling stressed? Stress is often a huge barrier to parents engaging with their children. Spending time with your child out in nature will go a long way to increase emotional health and physical well-being for both parties.

Research tells us that exposure to nature reduces our blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, as well as the production of stress hormones. Nature is no joke. Even if you don’t have time to go for a hike, simply water a plant together. These studies show similar effects can be derived from even small amounts of nature.

Play

Play is the language of children, so it only makes sense that we should try to connect with them though something that comes so naturally. When parents enter their child’s world and follow their lead in play, they open up the possibility for many positive outcomes, including taking on a different relationship role and seeing our children from a new perspective.

(To read more of this post, please follow the link below…)

http://www.parent.co/10-simple-ways-to-build-an-unbreakable-bond-with-your-child/

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The Writing Assignment That Changes Lives: first used in universities and now being given to younger students… by Anya Kamenetz

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Why do you do what you do? What is the engine that keeps you up late at night or gets you going in the morning? Where is your happy place? What stands between you and your ultimate dream?

Heavy questions. One researcher believes that writing down the answers can be decisive for students.

He co-authored a paper that demonstrates a startling effect: nearly erasing the gender and ethnic minority achievement gap for 700 students over the course of two years with a short written exercise in setting goals.

Jordan Peterson teaches in the department of psychology at the University of Toronto. For decades, he has been fascinated by the effects of writing on organizing thoughts and emotions.

Experiments going back to the 1980s have shown that “therapeutic” or “expressive” writing can reduce depression, increase productivity and even cut down on visits to the doctor.

“The act of writing is more powerful than people think,” Peterson says.

Most people grapple at some time or another with free-floating anxiety that saps energy and increases stress. Through written reflection, you may realize that a certain unpleasant feeling ties back to, say, a difficult interaction with your mother. That type of insight, research has shown, can help locate, ground and ultimately resolve the emotion and the associated stress.

At the same time, “goal-setting theory” holds that writing down concrete, specific goals and strategies can help people overcome obstacles and achieve.

‘It Turned My Life Around’

Recently, researchers have been getting more and more interested in the role that mental motivation plays in academic achievement — sometimes conceptualized as “grit” or “growth mindset” or “executive functioning.”

Peterson wondered whether writing could be shown to affect student motivation. He created an undergraduate course called Maps of Meaning. In it, students complete a set of writing exercises that combine expressive writing with goal-setting.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/07/10/419202925/the-writing-assignment-that-changes-lives

(Also see an earlier post in “The Forever Years” about journal writing for kids… Wonderful Words: The Benefits of Diary Writing for Our Kids.  Follow link below…)

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2014/12/28/wonderful-words-the-benefits-of-diary-writing-for-our-kids/

 

10 Ways to Connect With Your Child, by Rebecca Eanes

Dad & Boy arm wrestle

Being deeply connected to our children is the key to emotional health, cooperation, influence, and peaceful homes, but staying connected in the hustle and bustle of daily life can be challenging. We have to be intentional about our relationships with them now if want these relationships to flourish for years to come. Here are 10 ways to connect with your child. These require time and commitment, but the payoff is greater than anything else you will ever achieve.

1. Let go of distractions. I’m not coming with an anti-technology message, and no one expects you to let the emails go unanswered or the laundry undone, but we simply have to carve out time each and every day to attune to our children. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time every day. You may be able to squeeze in only 10 minutes today, but maybe you can do an hour later in the week. The key is to really focus all of your attention on them for this set-aside time.

2. Know what makes them feel loved and give it daily. Some children need more affection, others need to hear affirming words. I highly recommend The 5 Love Languages of Children to help you understand what your child’s love language is and how to practice all love languages. However, if your child is old enough, simply ask what makes him or her feel loved the most. On the flip side of this coin, be sure to avoid things that go against their language. For example, if your child’s love language is words of affirmation, be especially careful with criticizing that child. Of course, you don’t have to have a book to make your child feel loved. Just be sure to tell them what you love about them, encourage and build them up, and be affectionate.

 

Read more at the following link:

http://www.creativechild.com/articles/view/10-ways-to-connect-with-your-child

Wonderful Words: The Benefits of Diary Writing for our Kids

Diary Collage FYBy Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

It has long been said that writing a diary is beneficial for anyone… although I think there can be drawbacks (like if you become obsessed with your past and repeatedly read old journal entries).  In general, however, I believe that the benefits outweigh any drawbacks and that diaries can be very beneficial to children in particular.

My father has long been an enthusiastic diary writer and it was he who encouraged me to start writing my first diary at age nine.  For a child, the obvious benefits of diary writing include practising expressing and ordering ideas and communicating on paper, as well as improved spelling and grammar over time.  Diary writing is a kind of “meditation” as we commune with our own thoughts and, on a day which has been less than ideal, diary writing can be cathartic.  Sometimes things complained about in one diary entry can be a source of amusement when we read them years later, once a problem or set of problems has been overcome.  At other times, as we write our way through more serious life events, the act of journaling can be a comfort, a place to vent and a means of understanding, afterwards, why we behaved in certain ways or made particular decisions, particularly some of the tougher ones in life.

Diary Writing for Kids

Where children are concerned, diary writing can begin at any age: even a preschooler’s thoughts can be recorded by an adult.  It is important, when recording a child’s speech, to keep it as original as possible.  My mother did this with me in exercise books when I was quite young (certainly before I started school).  She would write my words on the bottom half of the exercise book (as I got older, she wrote on every second line so I could practise my “writing” on the lines in between).  The bit I really liked was that, after I finished writing, I got to draw a picture in the top half of the page.  (I was one of those kids who liked drawing).  Recording speech needn’t be just for preschoolers, it can be helpful for younger school-aged children, for those who are less confident at writing, or even just for kids who are tired of writing.  It’s a great way to spend quality, child-focused time and kids often love hearing their words read back later, particularly by another adult or an older child.

A child's diary page.

A child’s diary page.

It’s good to try to keep the diary writing a fun activity, without pressure or tension.  In our family, the kids don’t write a diary every day.  I sometimes have them write down their thoughts after a particularly interesting experience.  Recently we travelled to Melbourne, Australia, to visit the children’s grandfather and step-grandmother.  I found that, particularly in Melbourne in December when it was very hot, writing journals in the evenings was a good “winding down” activity.  I don’t have anything set in stone about how the kids do their writing, the diaries are for them.  Sometimes I spell words out to them whilst I’m doing other things like housework, sometimes I sit down at the table with them and actively help them.  At other times I let them have completely free reign and, while the spelling isn’t great, they often come up with some quirky and insightful things when writing on their own.  We all know our own children and what works best for them on any particular day.

Memories on Behalf of a Child

A friend and her husband recently attended a workshop in preparation for fostering a child.  At this workshop, keeping diaries “on behalf of kids” was emphasised.  Keeping a journal for a child who has been “uprooted” and had a difficult path through life can play a big part in helping them to heal and move forward.  (The workshop also cautioned, however, that some children might be better having their journal only when supervised by an adult, or to have a copy not the original, as emotions can be stirred up.  It would be heartbreaking to have such a record destroyed and the child it’s  intended for would probably regret not having it further down the track).  One woman I know, who has been “Mum” to a number of foster children, created a book for each child, showing his or her personal history.  She collected as much information as she could, such as where they were born and their biological parents, various houses they had lived in and, where possible, photographs to go with the story.  In some cases tracking down information and photos may not be easy (particularly for an older child who has lived in lots of different foster situations), but it is certainly a worthwhile activity for someone in the role of foster parent: it can help you understand a particular child’s set of circumstances, as well as enabling him or her to make sense of it all.  Similarly, for children who have been adopted, an accurate, honest (but also sensitive and empathetic) account of events can be really helpful.

A "day of birth" page in a scrapbook/ visual diary.

A “day of birth” page in a scrapbook/ visual diary.

For any child, an account of their very earliest years can be fascinating later on, as well as giving him or her a “sense of belonging”.  I have done scrapbooks for our four children: for each one I began with my pregnancy (including photos of me with a big belly and of their “scan”).  I usually write and have photographs and I record their milestones and achievements– as well as some less ideal times (chickenpox, fights with siblings), as these, too, are part of the fabric of life.  As the years have gone by, I have found it harder and harder to keep up with all four children’s scrapbooks.  I just do them when I can.  I have a drawer in my desk for each child and when they bring home artwork or certificates from school or kindy, I put them in their drawer to save for their scrapbook.  As I say, I call them “scrapbooks”, but they are really photo diaries of the kids’ lives.   My older two children really enjoy getting out their “scrapbooks” and reading about what their early years were like: I’ve found the kids enjoy looking at and hearing about their past more and more as they get older (and some kids enjoy it more than others).

You and the Child own the Diary!

Be creative and take ownership of the diary you and/or your child create!  It’s for your child, so focus on him or her.  I enjoy putting not just the special events, but also ordinary, daily life things which will become special in the future.  One of my sons has a page in his scrapbook with games he played with his soft toys at age 4.  There are pictures of the toys and I wrote down some of the “conversations” he made them have with one another.  Now, at age 9, he enjoys looking back on this. Little things like taking a photo of how their room looks when it is messy, or when it is tidy, or writing about their friends at school can connect the adult your child will become with their “forever years”.  Regardless of how good or otherwise our childhood may have been, having such a connection can anchor us as we move from our past, our “forever years”, through our present and into our future.

Scrapbook Collage FY

Some examples of journal/ “scrapbook” pages