East Haddam Family Resource Center

Healthy and Successful Children – Nurturing Families – Supportive Community

Kindergarten Readiness Program Registration Now Open!

Registration Deadline Extended!!!

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On your Mark, Get Set, Get Ready for Kindergarten!

The Family Resource Center is holding a Kindergarten Readiness program for children ages 3 ½ and up.  This program will allow children preparing for Kindergarten to enhance their development in areas such as creative expression, cognitive development, executive functioning, language and literacy development and social and emotional development.

Registration is required. Space is limited.  Class will be held on Tuesdays from 10:00am -11:30am.  Group will be held at the Family Resource Center in East Haddam Elementary School. To register or for more information on programs at the Family Resource Center, email or call Early Childhood Coordinator, Lauren Kasperowski at 860-873-3296 or lauren.kasperowski@yahoo.com Please indicate the age of the child attending. The council reserves the right to prioritize enrollment.

Registration deadline is October 18, 2019.  October 29, 2019!

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Train Your Child’s Brain

You can make a difference in your child’s life by training your child’s brain so that your child will successfully function on social, emotional, and academic levels. Here is how:

  1. Don’t be afraid to set the limits. Kids need limits to grow happy and healthy!!
  • Make a schedule for meal times, sleep times, technology time
  • Think of what is GOOD for them- not what they WANT/DON’T WANT. They are going to thank you for that later on in life. Parenting is a hard job. You need to be creative to make them do what is good for them because, most of the time, that is the exact opposite of what they want.
  • Kids need breakfast and nutritious food. They need to spend time outdoor and go to bed at a consistent time in order to come to school available for learning the next day!
  • Convert things that they don’t like doing/trying into fun, emotionally stimulating games
  1. LIMIT TECHNOLOGY, AND RE-CONNECT WITH YOUR KIDS EMOTIONALLY
  • Surprise them with flowers, share a smile, tickle them, put a love note in their backpack or under their pillow, surprise them by taking them out for lunch on a school day, dance together, crawl together, have pillow fights
  • Have family dinners, board game nights (see the list of my favorite board games), go biking, go to outdoor walks with a flashlight in the evening
  1. TRAIN DELAYED GRATIFICATION
  • Make them wait!!! It is ok to have “I am bored“ time – this is the first step to creativity
  • Gradually increase the waiting time between “I want” and “I get”
  • Avoid technology use in cars and restaurants, and instead teach them waiting while talking and playing games
  • Limit constant snacking
  1. TEACH YOUR CHILD TO DO MONOTONOUS WORK FROM EARLY YEARS AS IT IS THE FOUNDATION FOR FUTURE “WORKABILITY”
    • Folding laundry, tidying up toys, hanging clothes, unpacking groceries, setting the table, making lunch, unpacking their lunch box, making their bed
    • Be creative. Initially make it stimulating and fun so that their brain associates it with something positive.
  1. TEACH SOCIAL SKILLS
  • Teach them turn taking, sharing, losing/winning, compromising, complimenting others , using “please and thank you”

Kids changes the moment parents change their perspective on parenting.  Help your kids succeed in life by training and strengthening their brain sooner rather than later!

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Play Group has Begun for the 2019-20 School Year! Join us on Monday and Fridays from 10:00am to 11:00am!

 

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Early Learning Play Group, children ages birth to age 5 can gather, learn, sing, hear stories and create with others in a play based setting.  Group meets on Mondays and Fridays from 10:00-11:00am.

This no cost program does not require registration.  Email or call Early Childhood Coordinator, Lauren Kasperowski at lauren.kasperowski@yahoo.com or 860-873-3296 with any questions. The Family Resource Center is located in the East Haddam Elementary School, 45 Joe Williams Road, Moodus.

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Questions and Answers: Parents to Conscious Discipline

My preschooler has started to lie. I know she’s drawing on the walls and furniture but she’s refusing to admit it. What can I do?

We have a choice, we can focus on getting our children to admit their errors and feel bad for their actions, or we can focus on helping our children learn to be responsible by experiencing the consequences of their actions.

In this case, you could go for admission of guilt and say, “Did you draw on these walls?” Asking a question you already know the answer to is a trap. More than likely, preschoolers will deny they did anything. Denial is a defense mechanism used when faced with fear of threat. Once the child denies the situation, then we really become upset, usually saying something like, “Don’t you lie to me. Lying just makes things worse.” From here the interaction can only deteriorate and the opportunity to teach a new skill is lost.

Alternately, we could set a limit and hold the child accountable for her actions by saying, “You wanted to draw some pictures. You may not draw on the walls. Drawing is something you do on paper. You can clean the walls with rag or sponge. What is your choice?” It is important to follow up with your child later when she is drawing on paper by saying, “You did it! You remembered to draw on the paper. Good for you, honey.” Then hug and kiss her all over.

What do I do when I think upset or a tantrum is likely to erupt?

Let’s face it; some situations are more likely to evoke upset than others. The keys to navigating these rough waters are composure, assertiveness, encouragement and choices. First and foremost, you must remain calm and in control of your own internal state. Breathe deeply and use affirmations to assist yourself in this process. Next, focus on assertive language with your child. Give an assertive command that paints a picture of what you want the child to do. For example, “It’s time to get out of the tub. Reach your hands up to the towel.”

If the child complies, say, “You’re doing it! Your arms are up just like this (model for the child).”

If the child refuses, say, “I’m going to help you start getting out.”

If the child complies this time, say, “That’s it. You’re doing it. It’s hard to stop when you are having fun.”

If the child refuses and turns or jerks away, notice the child’s body by saying, “Your arms went like this (demonstrate) and your head went like this (demonstrate).”

When your child looks to see what you are doing, take a breath and say, “There you are!” Then offer two positive choices such as, “You can get out of the water and into the towel or you can pull the plug and then get into the towel. Which do you choose?”

How can I say “no” and be heard?

In its simplest terms, saying “no” and being heard is called “assertiveness.” It is a key skill that both adults and children must cultivate in order to develop healthy relationships. Assertive commands focus on what you want to have happen, give clear information about what to do, and are given in a tone of voice that says “just do it.” Conscious Discipline (educators) and Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline (parents) spend ample time focusing on the skill of assertiveness. The following tips from these publications will get you started:

Focus on What To Do: When you are upset, you are always focused on what you don’t want. Use active calming techniques to regain your composure as necessary, and then shift your focus away from what’s wrong. Instead, focus on what you want to have happen. Have you ever heard an Olympic athlete visualize “not losing?” No! They focus on diving their cleanest dive or running their fastest race in order to achieve their goal. You must do the same with your goal is to paint a picture with your words and gestures of exactly what you want the child to do.

“Don’t you dare touch anything in this store” focuses on what you don’t want (don’t touch). Pivot and reframe it in the positive, “Keep your hands in your pockets.” All assertive commands give usable information. “Don’t ____” is not usable information because it doesn’t tell what to do. “Don’t hit your brother” becomes: “When you want your brother to move say, “move please.”

Give the Command Assertively: There are three tones of voice we use when we communicate: passive, aggressive and assertive.

A passive approach says, “Approve of me, love me, is it okay with you if___.” A passive approach does not engender respect or compliance, so a passive person often resorts to manipulation or ‘going through the back door’ to get their needs met. Passive communication is not effective communication.

An aggressive approach says, “I am right and you are wrong, no matter what.” It often includes threats, blame, severe consequences or “you” statements that are focused solely on the other person. An aggressive approach invites a defensive response and engenders fear. Aggressive communication is not effective communication.

An assertive approach says, “Do this,” in a clear and respectful manner with a voice of no doubt. With children, follow these steps to deliver an assertive command:

  1. Establish eye contact by approaching the child, getting down on his/her level and moving closer until he/she notices you. For easily distracted children, you may need to get as close as six inches.
  2. Verbally tell the child what you want him/her to do. State your expectations clearly and simply. Be certain that the statement is formulated in the positive… focus on what you want them to do and paint a clear picture with your words. “Hold my hand so you are safe when we cross the street.” “Give me the scissors. They are sharp and could cut you.” “Use a quiet voice while we are in the museum.” “Pick up the markers and put them in the shoe box.”
  3. Give visual, auditory and tactile cues as often as possible. Demonstrate a gentle touch, gesture in the direction you wish the child to move, practice what a soft voice sounds like, etc.
  4. Send the nonverbal message “just do it” with the tone of your voice and with your nonverbal stance as you give the command. If your nonverbal cues are passive, your child may easily refuse. If your nonverbal cues are aggressive, your child will resist in self-defense. When nonverbal and verbal communication both say, “Just do it,” you let the child know your command has meaning.
  5. Celebrate your child’s success. The minute the child begins to show any degree of compliance, jump in with praise. Even if s/he wasn’t really going to comply, s/he likely will comply once you begin to praise him/her. “Good for you,” “You did it,” and “way to go” followed by a description of the child’s action are great ways to celebrate them without judging. “Way to go! You’re reaching for my hand so we can cross the street safely!”
  6. If your child chooses not to comply, repeat the request and say, “I’m going to show you what to do.” Lead the child gently and instructively in completing the request. Say, “I’m going to show you how to cross the street safely” and take the child’s hand in yours.
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“Let me try.”

By Jodi Mullen, Ph.D., LMHC, RPT-S, CCPT-S
I have recently published a new book titled, “Raising freakishly well behaved kids.” As a child counselor and play therapist for over 25 years and a parent for more than 18 years, I have learned valuable lessons from a unique set of experts; children. In the book, I highlighted 20 simple principles that we can use in our relationships with our own children and/or the children we work with.
In this article, we will focus on one principle, the concept of “Let me try.”
This simple principle has all sorts of benefits as well as some considerations
to using it. The concept of letting children try is that they not only gain competency over the task, they also experience many different feelings around completing the charge – some comfortable feelings like pride and some uncomfortable feelings such as frustration. As parents, we can create opportunities for this when we parent from a place of respect and thoughtfulness. When that happens, it makes an impact not only on how our children see themselves and others, but also on how they behave, and as a direct benefit, in their relationships with us as their parents. When our children feel good, they behave accordingly. When we are proud of who our children are and how they behave, we feel positive about our parenting. When this cycle plays itself out we wind up with children feeling a solid sense of self and our parenting-esteem is high. Those things working together are the foundation of strong and loving child/parent relationships.
“Let me try” encourages us as parents to allow our children to experience frustration. You might be thinking, “why would I want to do that?” Here’s why: when children struggle and experience frustration, they learn a lot of things. You don’t have to teach them directly, the lessons they learn come from the experience of the struggle. Take an example of Henry, a five-year-old that cannot open the lid to his toy chest. Henry starts to get upset. If no one rushes to help, Henry will learn how to manage his frustration, persist, figure out if he needs or wants help, who he can ask for help, and how to ask for help. He may also find ways to solve the problem by learning to use his problem-solving skills (even if he cannot open the lid he is still developing the problem-solving muscles in his brain), which will help in future situations. If he does figure out how to solve the problem on his own, he learns that if you stick it out through frustration the feeling of pride and satisfaction is often on the other side. If he needs to ask for help, he learns how to socially and relationally negotiate how to do that. And what if Henry cannot open the lid, doesn’t ask for help, and decides to move on? Well then he is learning how important particular things are to him. Perhaps even more critical is that many of these moments become a foundation for how Henry problem-solves, socializes, and even behaves. This is a big deal! A consideration to applying this principle is time and patience. Children move at a different pace than adults; sometimes way faster, sometimes much slower. Either way, you have to be willing to watch them if they decide to rush or if they take their sweet time. While I was committed to letting my children try, if I needed to be somewhere else, I was not going to give them all the time they needed to work on tying their shoe, for instance. When you can, you do. Secondly, I often wanted to rush in and help. Like many of you, I don’t particularly like watching people struggle, especially children, especially my children. You have to be able to back off and let your children, or the children you work with, struggle. This is grounded in reality; we all have to experience working through things so that we can manage the emotions that come with that and we can realize what we are capable of. Practice the parenting principle of “Let me try” for a few weeks. It will take time for you and your child(ren) to get used to this happening with some regularity (I bet you have been doing this more than you even noticed, the difference is now you are noticing and doing it with thoughtfulness). This will be a fantastic opportunity to connect to your ability to be patient and model that for your child. Celebrate your child’s wins and make sure to recognize yours too. The biggest prize of all is how you and your child feel about yourselves and each other.

You got this!

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FRC Play Group begins on September 17th!

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Early Learning Play Group, children ages birth to age 5 can gather, learn, sing, hear stories and create with others in a play based setting, meets on Mondays and Fridays from 10:00-11:00am.

This no cost program does not require registration.  Email or call Early Childhood Coordinator, Lauren Kasperowski at lauren.kasperowski@yahoo.com or 860-873-3296 with any questions. The Family Resource Center is located in the East Haddam Elementary School, 45 Joe Williams Road, Moodus.

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Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers

High profile acts of violence, particularly in schools, can confuse and frighten children who may feel in danger or worry that their friends or loved-ones are at risk. They will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react. Parents and school personnel can help children feel safe by establishing a sense of normalcy and security and talking with them about their fears.
1. Reassure children that they are safe. Emphasize that schools are very safe. Validate
their feelings. Explain that all feelings are okay when a tragedy occurs. Let children talk
about their feelings, help put them into perspective, and assist them in expressing these
feelings appropriately.
2. Make time to talk. Let their questions be your guide as to how much information to
provide. Be patient; children and youth do not always talk about their feelings readily.
Watch for clues that they may want to talk, such as hovering around while you do the
dishes or yard work. Some children prefer writing, playing music, or doing an art project as an outlet. Young children may need concrete activities (such as drawing, looking at picture books, or imaginative play) to help them identify and express their feelings.
3. Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate.
• Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be
balanced with reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are
there to protect them. Give simple examples of school safety like reminding children
about exterior doors being locked, child monitoring efforts on the playground, and
emergency drills practiced during the school day.
• Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking
questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school.
They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and
community leaders to provide safe schools.
• Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions
about the causes of violence in schools and society. They will share concrete
suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society.
Emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following school
safety guidelines (e.g. not providing building access to strangers, reporting strangers on
campus, reporting threats to the school safety made by students or community
members, etc.), communicating any personal safety concerns to school administrators,
and accessing support for emotional needs.
4. Review safety procedures. This should include procedures and safeguards at school and at home. Help children identify at least one adult at school and in the community to whom they go if they feel threatened or at risk.
5. Observe children’s emotional state. Some children may not express their concerns
verbally. Changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns can also indicate a child’s level of anxiety or discomfort. In most children, these symptoms will ease with reassurance and time. However, some children may be at risk for more intense reactions. Children who have had a past traumatic experience or personal loss, suffer from depression or other mental illness, or with special needs may be at greater risk for severe reactions than others. Seek the help of mental health professional if you are at all concerned.
6. Limit television viewing of these events. Limit television viewing and be aware if the
television is on in common areas. Developmentally inappropriate information can cause
anxiety or confusion, particularly in young children. Adults also need to be mindful of the content of conversations that they have with each other in front of children, even
teenagers, and limit their exposure to vengeful, hateful, and angry comments that might be misunderstood.
7. Maintain a normal routine. Keeping to a regular schedule can be reassuring and
promote physical health. Ensure that children get plenty of sleep, regular meals, and
exercise. Encourage them to keep up with their schoolwork and extracurricular activities but don’t push them if they seem overwhelmed.
Suggested Points to Emphasize When Talking to Children
• Schools are safe places. School staff works with parents and public safety providers (local
police and fire departments, emergency responders, hospitals, etc.) to keep you safe.
• The school building is safe because … (cite specific school procedures).
• We all play a role in the school safety. Be observant and let an adult know if you see or hear something that makes you feel uncomfortable, nervous or frightened.
• There is a difference between reporting, tattling or gossiping. You can provide important information that may prevent harm either directly or anonymously by telling a trusted adult what you know or hear.
• Although there is no absolute guarantee that something bad will never happen, it is
important to understand the difference between the possibility of something happening
and probability that it will affect you (our school community).
• Senseless violence is hard for everyone to understand. Doing things that you enjoy, sticking to your normal routine, and being with friends and family help make us feel better and keep us from worrying about the event.
• Sometimes people do bad things that hurt others. They may be unable to handle their
anger, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or suffering from mental illness. Adults
(parents, teachers, police officers, doctors, faith leaders) work very hard to get those people help and keep them from hurting others. It is important for all of us to know how to get help if we feel really upset or angry and to stay away from drugs and alcohol.
• Stay away from guns and other weapons. Tell an adult if you know someone has a gun.
Access to guns is one of the leading risk factors for deadly violence.
• Violence is never a solution to personal problems. Students can be part of the positive
solution by participating in anti-violence programs at school, learning conflict mediation
skills, and seeking help from an adult if they or a peer is struggling with anger, depression, or other emotions they cannot control.

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Kindergarten Readiness Program

 

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On your Mark, Get Set,

Get Ready for Kindergarten

The Family Resource Center is offering a Kindergarten Readiness program for children ages 3 ½ and up. This program will allow children preparing for Kindergarten to enhance their development in areas such as creative expression, cognitive development, executive functioning, language and literacy development and social and emotional development.

Registration is required. Space is limited. Class will begin November 14, 2017 and will be held every Tuesday from 10:00am -11:30am.  Group will be held at the Family Resource Center in East Haddam Elementary School. To register or for more information on programs at the Family Resource Center, email or call Early Childhood Coordinator, Lauren Kasperowski at 860-873-3296 or lauren.kasperowski@yahoo.com Please indicate the age of the child attending. Registration deadline is October 31, 2017.

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Developmental Playgroup Begins September 18th!

Children ages birth to age 5 can gather, learn, sing, hear stories and create with others in a play based setting.  Group meets on Mondays and Fridays from 10:00am-11:00am.

This no cost program does not require registration.  The group takes place in the Family Resource Center which is  located in the East Haddam Elementary School, 45 Joe Williams Road, Moodus. Contact Early Childhood Coordinator with any questions. 

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Can Less-Than-Perfect Really be Enough?

Usually the need to be perfect comes from a bit of anxiety. Worried that something might go wrong, a person tries to figure out the situation and apply the best approach so the chance of success is higher. If you can figure it out and it works, there is relief and satisfaction. Job well done! But then the next situation starts and you have to get back at it. And life gets more complex and there are multiple situations at the same time. You don’t always get it right and that is embarrassing so you have to try harder and harder. It gets exhausting.

 

People may start to notice is how hard you are working but something about it isn’t quite working. The desire to make everything right is there, but the outcome of everything being all right isn’t there.

 

It can be so confusing.

 

Being “good enough” doesn’t actually sound good enough on the surface. When you are used to overachieving, it no longer feels like over-achieving. It just feels like the normal amount of effort required.

 

In parenting, we worry that if we are only good enough parents, our children won’t have the same opportunities or success that other children seem to have. Our children deserve the best so we must be the best. Except….

 

Good enough parenting is actually what our children need from us. This is backed up by research (“Raising A Secure Child” is a book dedicated to explaining this). Good enough parenting is when we can hold on to two things: first, that we are willing to hold onto our children’s best interests and second, that we will mess it up… probably pretty often.

 

There is nothing clean about raising children. It will get messy in more than one way. Being good enough takes the pressure and anxiety out of the equation. When we know that we will mess it up, we aren’t trying to anticipate the situation for the “exact right way”. We are just in the situation, present to it and to our children. If it starts to get off track, we will notice it sooner and pause to see where it got off track. We may have to take charge and make a decision. We may have to apologize for not getting it and ask for clarification. We may have to figure it out together and come up with a compromise.

 

No matter how the situation gets resolved, being good enough will feel better for both you and the other person. Being a good enough parent will teach your child that you love them, want the best for them and are willing to get messy while you figure it out. It will teach your child that there are many ways to work something out and that you are in it together with them. You will come from a place of comfortable figuring-it-out-together instead of a place of uncomfortable have-to-figure-it-all-out-perfectly-now.

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