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The Lullaby Effect: Music & Sleep

There’s a reason singing a lullaby will put most babies to sleep. Music promotes relaxation because it directly affects the brain’s rest system, otherwise known as the parasympathetic nervous system. The measured beat of a musical rhythm can slow your breathing and heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and may trigger a release of chemicals in the brain that just plain make us feel good. The National Sleep Foundation reports that adults who listen to relaxing music for 45 minutes before bedtime fall asleep faster, sleep longer, wake up less often, and wake up feeling more rested. Babies and children also benefit, which makes music, even singing a lullaby, a good go-to for parents at bedtime and naptime too. Music has incredibly...

Food, Mood & Behavior

The connections between food, mood and behavior continue to develop, and many families could benefit from exploring how children, especially, are affected by diet. Mayo Clinic suggests that the ingredients in food affect behavior and the American Psychological Association says kids who have healthy diets are better able to regulate emotions and cope with stress. Much recent research seems to validate what many parents and teachers have known for years: “A well fed brain is more likely to lead to good mood, behavior and learning” (Rex, 2017). What can we do? As parents, there are steps we can take to ensure our children are getting the most out of the food they eat and that what they are eating doesn’t alter their moods or...

Being a Mindful Parent

It’s a word that’s recently come into the mainstream: mindfulness. It sounds impressive, but what is it? Mindfulness is touted as a way to improve our health and well-being by purposely paying attention and staying in the moment. It allows you to regulate your emotions and quiet your mind. In a fast-paced world full of stress, these are valuable skills to have. Mindfulness is nothing new, really, but lately it’s emerged as an effective treatment for everything from ADHD, anxiety, depression, and other behavioral disorders. And research has shown that, with or without these issues, learning to practice mindfulness in parenting can be of great benefit for our kids, improving not just our health and well-being but theirs too....

Stress Isn’t All Bad

We live in a world where it’s tempting for parents to try and “work everything out” for our children, shielding them from all forms of stress. However, it’s becoming clear that there may be real benefit to our children when we resist that temptation. Sound strange? It’s true. When we allow our children to face appropriate struggles and challenges, we are actually helping them develop an important life skill called resilience. And experts at the Child Mind Institute tell us that resilience is fostered as a result of dealing with obstacles and even stress. And resilience is a very good thing. Resilience at its core is the ability to adapt positively when life throws you a curve ball. It means you can overcome obstacles and keep...

Child Development Includes It All — Even Sex!

Parents like to watch children grow. They like to see children walk and talk. They like to see them learn to read and write. Parents like to see children make friends. But many parents don’t like to think of children as sexual beings. They don’t like to think that their children are growing sexually. Many parents don’t know how to talk to their children about sexuality. This could be because their parents never talked to them about it. This has been a problem for a long time. Many parents want to do better than their parents did, but it is hard. It can be hard for parents to talk to their children about these things. It is hard because of what they think about when they hear the words “sex” or “sexuality.” But these...

Work, Learning, and Fun at Clean-up Time

Most people don’t like cleaning up. It is work. Children don’t like it either. They would rather play. It is more fun to get toys out than put them away. Parents would like children to clean up their own toys. But often parents end up cleaning up the toys. Parents might think there is a quick and easy way to do this. They can just put all the toys in one big toy box. It is quick. They might want to teach the children to do this, too. But let’s think about that. Think about someone cleaning up your things that way. What would happen if someone put your dishes and clothes and shoes and mail and books in one big box together? Then you couldn’t find anything. Your books might be torn. Your dishes might be broken. Your dirty and...

Reacting to Parenting Stress

Being a parent can be the best thing in a world. Loving a child is intense. There is nothing else like the bond between a parent and child. But parenting can also be stressful. Maybe that is because it is so special. It is hard to be a parent. It is work. Parents can get upset. They can get angry. They can get stuck. Parents might feel like there are no answers. Parenting can give parents their best moments. It can give them their worst moments. It can bring out their best selves. It can bring out their worst selves. Parents might make important mistakes when they feel stress. They might do things they will regret. How can parents react when they feel stress? Studies show that… Stress is about balance. People feel...

Getting your Child to Sleep: When the Monsters Come Out at Night

We all know that how we sleep affects how we feel, how we look, and how we function each and every day. We know because we’ve had plenty of tough days that began when we woke up feeling more tired than when we went to bed. Researchers are discovering that sleep is one of the most important things a parent can help their child achieve. We don’t need the experts to tell us that sleep deprivation can make kids moody, emotionally unstable, and even aggressive. But studies have shown that to be true. In addition, it has been found that without good sleep, focus and impulse control decrease, both of which lead to problems in daily functioning, underdeveloped life skills, and ongoing academic struggles. It’s frustrating for parents and...

Teaching your children family values through play

Most people in the United States probably have similar memories. They lost a baby tooth. They put that tooth under their pillow. Overnight the tooth fairy came and took the tooth. In its place was a gift in the morning. For most children, it was some money. It was magical! Some children tried to stay awake to catch the tooth fairy. Sometimes the tooth fairy didn’t come. Some tooth fairies left a lot of money. Other tooth fairies left a little money. Some tooth fairies left other gifts. And some forgot. But the basic story was the same. Some parents work hard to be the tooth fairy. They make sure the child is asleep before reaching under the pillow. They talk about the story. They give detail. They add to the excitement. They...

Helping your children cope with death

Things die. Plants die. Pets die. And people die. Death happens even in the lives of children. Adults like to think that children are happy. They like to think that children can always be happy. Death doesn’t sound happy. But children need to think about death sometimes. It is part of life. Some children might need to think about death a lot. Some children might be in areas with lots of death. There might be shootings. Or there might be lots of sick people. Those children will get used to death. They will need to learn about death at an early age. Their parents will need to get used to talking about it. Other children might not see death very often. Parents might try to hide death from children. But most children learn about it...

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