What’s Bugging You?

what's bugging youYoung children go through a variety of emotions every day. Sometimes they have problems relating their emotions to their behavior and all adults see… is the challenging behavior that is exhibited!

Take time to talk with your children about what is really bugging them. What has happened to them that is making them feel upset? How does their body feel when this happens?  What can they say to the other person?  How should they react?

We need to explain these feelings to our children and give them simple ideas of how to deal with their emotions. One way to teach this is by using bugs themselves.  Summer is a great time to have a lesson on bugs.  Incorporate bugs into the discussion of emotions too.  First take a large piece of paper and draw a bug right in the middle.  Title the paper with “When something is bugging me, I can say…”

Give the child plenty of ideas on what to say….. This poster can hang in their room, on the refrigerator or anywhere the child spends a lot of time. It is a constant reminder of how the child can start to regulate their own emotions and deal with conflict.

Author: Lisa Poppe, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

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Peaceful Ways Of Communicating During Divorce Or Separation

iStock_000010173373SmallWhen parents are going through custody and divorce issues, conflict may reach a higher level. Often when in conflict, we communicate using words which blame and attack. These messages may begin with the word “You.” For example,

Mom attacks Dad’s character by saying, “You are very irresponsible. All the kids do when they are at your house is play video games.” Dad retaliates and says, The kids say you are a dictator. They never get to play video games; it’s always just homework and chores…never any fun.”

“I” messages are a way to express feelings and identify solutions, without attacking and blaming each other.

Steps For Using “I Messages”

  1. Explain feelings such as: concerned, worried, uncomfortable, disappointed, pleased or excited. “I feel…”
  2. Explain the behavior or action that brought on the feeling. “When…”
  3. Explain why, or the reason behind that feeling. ..”
  4. Explain or ask for a solution. Could we…” or “What are your ideas?”

Mom says, “Is this a good time to talk? I feel concerned when the kids don’t get their homework done because I don’t want them to fall behind in school. It seems like they would rather play video games than do their homework. What are your ideas?

Dad replies, “I don’t want them to fall behind on their school work either. It does make sense to limit video game time until after the homework is done. Let’s try it and see how it’s working.”

Additional Strategies:

Use neutral words similar to what are used in business situations.

Words such as concerned, worried, anxious are not as emotionally charged as words such as angry, bitter, sad or resentful, which sound more blaming and attacking.

Avoid absolutes such as “never” and “always.”

These words create hostility and barriers to solving the problem.

It is sometimes difficult to express feelings, especially when we focus more on the solution to a problem.  However, when communicating for mutual understanding, it is helpful for the other person to know how a certain problem is affecting you.  Being human, we see things from our own perspective, and we don’t always realize how our actions are affecting others.  This is especially true the younger we are, so it is helpful to use I-messages with our children so they can begin to understand how their actions affect others.

Putting “I” messages into practice is not always easy. It may take several times until you feel comfortable and confident using them with your co-parent. They are worth the effort to create peaceful solutions for your children, your co-parent and you!

Check out more about using “I Messages” here! Our website even includes a handy worksheet.

This post is part of our Co-Parenting for Successful Kids program. For more information click here.

Maureen Burson, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

This article was originally published by Burson as a PDF for Nebraska Extension. It is used with her permission.

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Activities To Help Children Grow


Question: I want to help my child learn and be ready for school, but sometimes I feel like the day is so busy I can’t fit in one more thing! Do you have ideas for activities we can do together that won’t take extra time?

Answer: Every day errands and chores are a great time to involve your child and help them learn and grow.  Parents and caregivers often think they need to use computer software, videos, or workbooks for “learning” but actually, young children learn from every day experiences and learn best when they are involved in hands on activities. Plus, they love to help and be part of what you are doing.

Here are some ideas to help you get started with suggestions for different ages of children.

Talk about what you are doing

It may feel funny at first, especially with a small infant or toddler who cannot talk back to you or ask questions. Try to pretend you are on a cooking or “do it yourself” show while your infant or toddler is watching you or playing by your side. You can describe the actions you are doing while cooking or working in the garden. Describe what you see around you as you are driving in the car or at the grocery store. Your child is learning new words and concepts just by hearing you talk.

Read signs and words around you

Children learn that printed words carry a message from the signs and words that are in their world. Try pointing out the signs of familiar stores, traffic signs, and signs with information. You might be surprised at how quickly your child learns to point out “S-T-O-P Stop!” Through these experiences, children learn that letters come together to form words and these words carry a message…key things for readers to know!

Laundry time as math time

Even toddlers can sort out all of the socks from a basket of laundry. Preschoolers may be able to match the socks into pairs. Young children can fold simple things like pillow cases, washcloths, and towels. Try giving your child their own little basket and asking them to sort or fold a certain type of laundry. They are learning early math skills of classification, shapes, fractions, (learning to fold in halves and quarters) and building their sense of competence as they help you.

Dusting, picking up, and direction following

Try giving your child a damp rag and asking them to dust certain surfaces. Make it a game by giving interesting directions… “Can you dust three things that are green? Can you pick up all of the purple blocks and put them in the basket?” Then encourage your child to look for furniture or the toys that you have described. Being able to follow directions and use clues are both important early learning skills.  Children may be motivated when you make a job a game.

Let’s watch things grow together!

Your child will enjoy working by your side in the garden. They may enjoy planting seedlings or flowers with you. They can learn important science skills about their natural world when working by your side. A small child sized rake can be fun to use in the fall. Children can help bag leaves, pickup sticks, and dig up weeds in the garden if you show them how to identify plants that are weeds.

Work and play side by side with your child and they will be learning every day!

Author: Rebecca Swartz, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

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