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Rock Motherhood

  • The 4 Best Takeaways From The Whole-Brain Child

    As a stay at home mom who is basically on 24/7,  I’m always looking for new methods to improve the relationships I have with my kids, and solutions for handling the big emotions that come with parenting. Most of my research pointed to The Whole-Brain Child written by Daniel J Siegel, M.D., and Tina Payne Bryson, PH.D. This practical child rearing read is a New York Times Bestseller and for good reason.

    Photo of woman reading The Whole-Brain Child.

    This post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase using these links.

    The 12 no-drama discipline strategies laid out in the book are game changing. The illustrations and relatable narratives offer parents an effortless implementation and are easy to follow. However, the most beneficial piece to this read was the information regarding brain science and the many links to child emotional development. The authors provide a thorough explanation as to why children are at times highly emotionally reactive and how to better understand their struggles.

    Overall, The Whole-Brain Child can help foster happier and healthier kids which is what we all strive for. Here are the 4 Best Takeaways from The Whole-Brain Child.

    1.) Integration – The Many Parts of the Brain

    Most of us understand that the brain has many different parts with many different functions. There’s the logical left brain and the emotional right brain. There’s an instinctive reptile brain and a mammal brain that helps us foster emotional connections and relationships. New research shows that all of these components of the brain need to work well together in order to flourish and thrive. This concept is called integration.

    Because the human brain isn’t fully developed until the age of 20-25, we can’t expect the littlest among us to be experts in brain functions such us emotional intelligence or sounds decision making.

    The book notes that because children are right brain dominant, they aren’t experts in getting messages across without mastery of the left brain logic. As a result, it is difficult to explain how they’re feeling. This is often the cause of a tantrum or meltdown. Parents can integrate the the child brain by providing them experiences in which the many parts of the brain can collaborate.

    The book expands on these experiences and gives various strategies for integration. However, simply understanding the composition of the brain allows parents to nurture the child brain more effectively.

    2.) Attunement – Allow them to Feel Felt

    “When a child is upset, logic won’t work until we’ve responded to the child’s emotional needs first,” -The Whole-Brain Child

    I love this quote directly from the book. When we respond to our child’s tantrum with a logical answer, it probably won’t connect because the child’s emotional needs are commanding the brain in a way that is all-consuming. That is precisely why responses such as (below) don’t resonate.

    • “You’re fine.”
    • “It’s not a big deal.”
    • “Calm down.”

    Help your child feel heard and felt by affirming their feelings (no matter how irrational), not invalidating them. Assuring a child that they’re not alone and  that we want to know whats happening on the inside can help calm the situation. Once their emotional needs are met, it will be easier to break through to the developing logical left brain, to work through the problem.

    For more on appropriate responses to tantrums read our article 5 Simple Tips for Taming Tantrums.

    3.) Traumas – Name Their Pain

    When a child experiences a trauma, a parent’s first instinct is to avoid it or distract the child from re-living the experience. But due to the inner workings of the developing brain, it’s important to talk about the trauma in order to overcome.

    This section of The Whole-Brain Child points out that while we don’t want our children to hurt, its vital for them to have these experiences to learn how to heal and grow. Traumas should never go unresolved. Recount the fear and walk through it together.

    Trauma is a word that is often misunderstood. Trauma doesn’t have to be the death of a family member or a scary car accident. It can be any deeply distressing or disturbing experience. For children, a perceived trauma can be something that an adult would find silly or irrational. Examples of child trauma:

    • Getting sick at preschool or daycare
    • A scary encounter with an animal
    • A toilet overflowing
    • Falling off the playground

    Though these situations may sound minor, something as simple as a toilet overflowing can create anxiety or discomfort in a child that needs to be worked through.

    4.) Morality

    “A sense of not only right and wrong, but also what is for the greater good beyond their own personal needs,” -The Whole-Brain Child

    This one resonated with me, as its one of the most important values I wish to instill in my kids: a strong sense of morality. The book explains that a well integrated upstairs brain with the following attributes culminates in morality.

    • Sound decision making
    • Controlling emotions and the body
    • Self-understanding
    • Empathy

    A great way to exercise this part of the brain is to place a child in scenarios in which they practice good decision making. A few examples of hypotheticals (that kids love) directly from the book:

    • “Would it be ok to run a red light in an emergency?”
    • “If a bully was picking on someone, would you intervene?”
    • “If you found a toy at the playground that didn’t belong to you, would you take it?”

    By challenging kids to think critically about decisions, and by guiding them through these scenarios, we allow them to build the morality necessary to make good choices. Being able to assess the implications in any situation is a crucial life skill and is important in helping children develop sound decision making skills.

    We hope that our 4 Best Takeaways from The Whole-Brain Child left you wanting more! You can purchase this essential parent read below.

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  • The States I’ve Visited – A Printable Travel Log & Learning Activity for Kids

    It is a personal bucket list item of mine to visit all 50 states and if possible, the National Parks within their limits. With summer road trips and family vacations on the horizon, I wanted to find a way to pass this passion for travel along to my oldest who appears to share the same adventure spirit.

    Additionally, I wanted to create a fun way to learn about the 50 states and the protected lands we call our National Parks.

    The parks offer an exceptional gateway to the unique features each state has to offer. By highlighting each park visited my hope is that he will be encouraged to continue to visit these sites throughout his life.

    Above all, it’s important that my son understands the seriousness of protecting these sacred properties that our memories are made on.

    The printable domestic travel log and learning activity for kids (available for download below!) is a great way to foster an excitement for travel and exploration, and serves as a good introduction to the states that embody this vast, beautiful country. It can be printed and placed in a binder or framed on the wall for display.

    We hope your littles enjoy adding marks to the checklist year after year, and learn more about the 50 states as they color in the shapes on the map.

    Here are a few photos of my son filling out his own domestic travel log and how we’ve decided to display this fun learning activity for kids!

    We decided to make the map colorful but it would be fun to color code each state by year visited or otherwise! It is displayed here in a frame but a binder with page protectors is also a good idea to preserve the log.

    For the 50 states checklist, we added the dates that we traveled to each one (for the ones we could remember) as a memory keeper. We circled the parks that we’ve visited but a highlighter would work too!



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  • Create a Summer Activity Planner – Free Printable Included!

    My son thrives on routines; the consistency not only gives him a sense of security, but it helps him to feel confident in time management as well. Creating an established routine also assists in developing important habits and life skills. Now with summer ending, I knew I needed to create some type of schedule once school ended that will carry on the steadiness in his daily activities.

    If you know me, you know I’m a planner by nature; so in one month’s time…this mama will need an agenda. This year, I decided to add a supplemental summer planner printable to go along with our Printable Family Binder Bundle and I’m so excited to share it with you!

    See what our Summer Activity Planner has inside!

    The Summer Activity Planner has 5 pages included:

    • Weekly Summer Schedule: A guideline of fun summer activities you can do with your child throughout the week.
    • Daily Summer Schedule: A timeline of suggested daily activities. Feel free to have your child choose summer bucket list ideas for their daily activity.
    • Summer Bucket List: A list of obligatory summer ideas for kids.
    • Summer Reading List: Create and track your summer reading list and then have your child rate their books!
    • Summer Chore Chart: Age appropriate chore chart for the summer.

    Image of Summer Planner BinderI printed out ours and put it into our Family Emergency Binder so we have a single place to reference all family items.

    How do you plan your daily summer activities? I’d love to hear your best tips in the comments below!



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  • Small (But Critical!) Steps for Raising Confident Kids

    “I can’t! I can’t!” he shouts as he tries to write the letter F. I can see tears of disappointment welling in his eyes. He puts the marker to the paper again, but for a second time isn’t happy with the product. My son is learning to write his name, and it has proven to be a learning experience for both of us. The word “can’t” makes me cringe.

    I begin to question why he’s being so hard on himself. Do I praise him enough? Does he feel inadequate? Like any negative feeling my child experiences, I want to solve it immediately. However, thats not how it works.

    Self-confidence is learned and developed over time through small achievements and a realistic perception of skills and abilities. It’s an essential behavior to cultivate in our kids, and subsequently set them up for their happiest lives.

    By teaching our children to believe in themselves, we set them up for success. We can start with words of encouragement, but self esteem can be instilled in a variety of ways, big and small. Here are a few small (but critical!) steps for raising confident kids.

    Use Words of Encouragement or Affirmations

    Affirmations work for kids and adults alike. We all begin to believe what people tell us about ourselves. Feel free to reference the guide below for a list of everyday affirmations to boost a child’s confidence.

    Choose Your Praises Wisely

    I am all about using affirmations in any form, but its important to note that using affirmations that include born with traits such as “you’re really smart! or “you’re so beautiful!” sends the message that we only value traits that kids are born with (attractive, smart, etc) and doesn’t convey the notion that anything can be accomplished with perseverance, hard work and dedication.

    Praising an accomplishment (and acknowledging the work it took complete it) establishes the fact that it was their hard work and practice that propelled them to achieve their goal, and that by setting goals we can push ourselves further. It’s also good to remember that confidence is gained in the process of goal actualization.

    Examples:

    Instead of “You’re really smart!”

    • “I’m so proud of you for practicing writing the letter F and working so hard to write your name!”
    • “Your strength and determination lifted you to learn to write your name! Your hard work really paid off!”
    • “I love how much effort and energy you put into learning to write the letter F!”

    In addition, throwing out too much praise can inundate your child’s ego, and could potentially minimize the value of the praise. If we reinforce every small deed our kids carry out, the praise will become less meaningful and thus, less impactful. Save big praises for accomplishments and achievements.

    Step back and Let them Build Resilience

    Remember the first paragraph of this post when I felt the need to eliminate my son’s problem and cancel the name-writing activity altogether so as to prevent him from feeling incapable? I feel that urge all the time. But by allowing kids to experience hardship or discomfort, we give them the opportunity to create solutions to solve their problems. These problem solving skills will be vital in all facets of their lives including our ever so important relationships, and will come in handy when they face the inevitable obstacles life will throw at them.

    When we reinforce a child’s resilience, they  learn to bounce back after a perceived failure. Step back and let them come up with their own plan for overcoming obstacles, rather than mow them down.

    Model Self Love and Positive Talk

    Have you ever caught yourself in a moment of negative self talk? I have. I’ve thrown out the phrases “I’m so stupid,” or “I look awful today,” in front of my kids not realizing the weight or impact of those words. It is true that kids are sponges, and if we model negative behaviors, they will too. Try to eliminate the negative self talk for yourself  (it impacts parents too!) or at least attempt to ban it when in the company of little ones. Confident mommies and daddies raise confident kids. Lead by example!

    Examples:

    Instead of “Today sucked.”

    • “I’ve had a tough day, but tomorrow will be better. I can feel it.”
    • “Today may have not have been the best, but there were a lot of small positives, and I’m choosing to focus on those.”
    • “I will bounce back tomorrow.”

    Let Them Take Healthy Risks

    A healthy risk is defined as a behavior in which the positive reward outweighs the harm in a given situation. Much like building resilience, when kids engage in healthy risk taking behaviors the outcome is worth the parental internal struggle. Risk-taking behavior enables a child to build confidence and strengthens decision making skills. It’s a positive tool for discovery, perception and developing a child’s personal identity. Being able to assess the risk in any situation is a crucial life skill and is important in helping children make good choices.

    Examples of Healthy Risk Taking Behaviors:

    • Getting up on a stage and singing a song
    • Asking a stranger to be their friend
    • Paying for their treat at the ice cream shop
    • Helping measure ingredients in the kitchen

    Try this…

    Every morning I allow my son to be my barista. He fills my mug with water, pushes the buttons on the coffee maker, and adds my sugar and cream. Sometimes it ends with a spill or a coffee that is slightly too sweet (risk) but it has become a morning task and he loves it.

    In the process of making my coffee, he’s mastering skills and learning a recipe which makes him feel important and needed. Little did I know, I’d been allowing my son to engage in a simple healthy risk behavior, and it’s been a small step for building his confidence.

    We hope through this article you’ve discovered new ways to boost your child’s confidence. If you’d like to read more about child development, see 5 Simple Tips for Taming Tantrums

     

     

     

     

     

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  • 3 Easy Ways to Teach Kids Phone Numbers

    A few months ago, I shared a project to help teach children their address. It ended up being a fun and creative way to get my 5 year old to memorize the specifics about where we live. Because the hands-on activity was enjoyable for him, he caught on quick and I thought it would be a great strategy to implement similarly when teaching him other life skills, like learning important phone numbers!

    These days we’re likely to just tap on a name in our phone without needing to remember any numbers, but theres no denying that learning and memorizing important phone numbers is a great life skill to have. By teaching your child important phone numbers, you are helping them to be self-sufficient and confident – and it could possibly be life-saving.

    Here are 3 easy ways you can teach kids important phone numbers

    1. Make a bracelet!

    Picture of phone number bracelet activity

    This simple project was a hit with my son! Wearing a bracelet with an important phone number is a great reminder for you child and they’ll easily be able to recognize and recite it after repeatedly seeing it. Additionally, wearing a bracelet with an important phone number can be a smart safety plan for family outings, such as an amusement park and (god forbid) you were to get separated.

    Creating the bracelet is simple: Just use an assortment of bead colors, number beads and some elastic string. If you want your child to learn multiple phone numbers, you can even use alphabet beads to include the persons name in the bracelet. Besides being a helpful learning activity, creating the phone number bracelet strengthens fine motor skills as well.

    2. Play a match gamePicture of craft stick phone number activity to memorize phone number

    With two common household items, you can create this craft stick phone number activity. Using a popsicle stick, write your important phone number down and write numbers 0-9 on clothespins. Play a matching game and see if you child can match up the numbers. If you have multiple numbers you would like them to practice learning, label the popsicle sticks on the opposite side (i.e. “Mimi’s Phone,” “Police,” etc). You can even test your child, like flash cards, to see if they can match the contact to the phone number.

    3. Practice dialing important numbers (free worksheets below)

    Picture of practice phone number dialing
    Practice makes perfect – and we created a free worksheet bundle that you can use with your child to encourage phone number memorization. The worksheets are a great visual for your child to see what exact numbers in sequence they need to plug in and includes a pretend phone sheet to practice dialing those numbers.

    Download the FREE printable for this activity below!

    Picture of printable phone bundle to teach kids their phone number

    If you liked this project, you might enjoy this post where we share teaching your kids their addresses!



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  • Happy Earth Children’s PRINTABLE Earth Day Activity

    As a self-proclaimed tree hugger it’s important to me that my kids understand the importance of Earth Day and why it’s vital to the future of our planet to set aside time to care for it. This activity is a simple and effective way to have that teachable moment on what keeps Earth healthy and thus, happy. On the opposite side, it highlights the actions that impact our environment in a negative way.

    Watch as they sort & learn the small ways we can reduce and reuse to protect our precious planet. We’ve included the FREE Happy Earth Children’s Earth Day Activity printable. It’s available for download at the bottom of this post. Happy Earth Day!

    Picture of Happy Earth Printable activity for Earth Day learning and creating.

    You will need:

    • Scissors
    • Glue
    • Blue or green construction paper
    • The Rock It Mama Earth Day printable (Two-page download at the bottom of post)

    Directions

    Glue the sorting chart page on either the green or blue construction paper for aesthetic purposes. Next, cut the two earths first and have your child distinguish between the happy earth vs. the sad earth. Glue both earths on the top of each side of the T chart.

    As each graphic is cut out, have a conversation about the picture and what is taking place. Explain why each picture either makes the Earth happy or sad based on what is occurring. Lastly, have them glue the graphic on the correct side of the T chart.

    Cutting Happy Earth printable for Earth Day learning activity.

    Just look at that focus! (Insert heart eyes)

    He’s well on his way to becoming a passionate environmentalist. Need more fun ideas for appreciating nature and the world around us? Add these 7 Nature and Exploration Ideas for Kids to your list!



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