Our Kids are Allowed to Feel Their Feelings

We know that no one feels happy and energetic all the time and we don’t expect them to. 
Hopefully the people in your life support you well when you’re feeling blue or angry or anxious. 
Think about what helps you feel supported when you’re having big emotions.  
It’s likely that you just want someone to listen to you without judgement or without trying to fix you. 
You might want the presence of a comforting person you love…or you might need some space. 
Our kids are the same way. 
Oftentimes we don’t allow them to have crappy days or moments to feel angry or upset. 
This might be because we’re still learning that it’s ok to have our own emotions and we’re afraid we won’t know what to do to help them. 
So, we try to shut it down and don’t give them space to feel. 
Can you imagine what it would feel like if someone did this to you when you were feeling sad or angry or worried? 
We must allow our kids to feel their feelings. 
We can hold space for them by being present, listening, and not judging.  
It’s really that simple. 
Support your kids the way you would want to be supported. 

Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.   

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog  


How to Make Children Feel Safe & Go to Sleep

When bedtime is approaching, some children have a hard time separating from parents and going to sleep without a struggle. If your child resists bedtime, it’s important to help him feel safe so he can go to bed happily and sleep well. A child’s fears and anxieties are very real to him. By being empathetic and supporting him positively, you can provide loving reassurance to help him overcome bedtime issues. 

Create a calming and restful bedtime routine to ease your child from daytime activity to more low-key bedtime activity. The routine may include bathing, a snack, snuggling in bed with a book or a story, prayers or a song and then tucking your child into bed with kisses and hugs. 

Provide your child with a security toy that might help her feel more comfortable and relaxed as she’s trying to go to sleep. This is usually a stuffed animal, doll or a special blanket, but whichever toy is most comforting to your child can work. 

Turn on a night-light and leave the bedroom door open a crack if your child has fears associated with bedtime. The night-light allows him to see that his room looks the same as it does during the day, and the open door may help him feel a bit less “alone” in his bedroom. 

Empathize with any anxiety or fears your child communicates with you, but remain firm with the bedtime routine and continue to lead your child toward falling asleep independently in his bed. You might say, “I’ve checked your closet and under your bed, and there is nothing scary in your room. It’s time to sleep now, so that you’ll feel good and rested in the morning.” 

Remain calm, even if your child becomes fearful and anxious. By modeling the calm and relaxed behavior you want from your child, he is more likely to follow your example. 

Stay consistent in your bedtime expectations, requiring that your child adhere to the routine and stay in her bed. Your consistency should help your child feel more secure and safe in the long run. 

Give big hugs and dry his tears. Explain to your child that even though nightmares can seem very real, they are just dreams and can never hurt him. Tell him that the nightmare is over and assure him that he is fine. Help your child settle back into bed, snuggling with his security toy. Give him another hug and kiss and then tell him it’s time to go back to sleep again, and this time he’ll dream sweet dreams. 

Avoid activities that energize your child before bedtime. Television, wrestling and tickling may get him excited and make it difficult to settle down to sleep. 

Ways to Prevent Body Image Issues

Parents can follow these steps to instill a positive body image in their children (especially young girls) and help prevent eating disorders. 

Many of their negative associations come from painful memories that go back as early as grade school. From the first time a parent feeds a newborn baby, their attitude towards food and eating can leave an impression. A parent who is anxious while feeding her newborn and doesn’t pay attention to hunger cues can set the stage for problems with food later in childhood. By the time preschool comes around, the attitudes and approach parents have toward food sets the stage for how kids may feel later about food and eating. If a child witnesses her mom or dad express disgust at their image in the mirror, the child may begin to mimic that behavior. 

Mothers, then, are the first and most significant female models in their developing daughters’ lives. They are faced with the difficult challenge of modeling positive feelings toward food, eating, and body image. Here are steps that mothers can take to help their school-age girls and to prevent early eating and image problems. 

1. Model a Positive Body Image 

Be careful not to use words such as “fat” and “diet” around the home. Young kids, especially girls, are impressionable and susceptible, so teach them to be comfortable with their developing bodies. Convey this with phrases such as, “Honey, that dress really flatters your body” and “You are my beautiful child, inside and out.” 

Although parents who struggle with their own negative body image may find this difficult, it’s key to remain cognizant of the language and phrases said in front of children. It’s essential that all parents find the strength within to avoid making bad comments about their own bodies. 

2. Discuss “Sometimes” vs. “Always” Foods 

When it comes to discussing food choices, avoid categorizing foods as “good” vs. “bad” (which can make kids feel as though they’ve been good or bad) or “healthy” vs. “unhealthy.” Instead, talk about “sometimes” foods and “always” foods; this can help your kids understand that some foods are better eaten in smaller quantities and less often. 

Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, proteins, and dairy products can all be explained as “always” foods that are useful and necessary for growth and development. Sweets and fried foods can be seen as “sometimes” foods that taste good but are not healthy or necessary to help us grow. 

When kids do desire “sometimes” foods, they should eat just a small portion and stop when satisfied. Because feeling full and satisfied may have a different meaning for every child, be attuned to your child’s unique nature of fullness. Let your child be the one to say when she is finished eating; don’t make the decision for her. 

3. Practice “Self-Attuned Eating” 

The “self-attuned eating” model, a process of learning to pay attention to and trust feelings of hunger and fullness, can help with making certain food choices. In my own practice, I rely on this model; while it may not work for everyone, I believe it is the best way to prevent eating disorders if it’s taught and practiced with children early on in their lives. This model teaches that feeling satisfied is important, so no food is off-limits and it’s okay to eat all types, whether carrots or candy. This helps them feel safe, comfortable, and open around all foods and promotes a healthy, normalizing attitude toward eating. 

4. Talk About Empty vs. Full Stomachs 

Discuss how food affects the digestive system and the body by sharing how to eat only when hungry and how to stop when full. Talk to your kids about how their bodies feel at the present moment. Try asking if their stomach feels empty and “growly” or if their stomach feels full and “heavy.” Re-enforce this on a regular basis to help kids feel connected to their bodies. 

Allowing children to decide when, what, and how much to eat helps strengthen their self-confidence, self-esteem, and sense of dignity. This also helps kids avoid the kinds of eating difficulties that have plagued many adults for life. 

5. Involve Children in the Lunch-Making Process 

Get creative by having your kids prepare their own lunches. Allow them to choose what they like and also teach the basic food groups. Offer enough options so that kids can choose chocolate milk one day and regular milk another day. Include them when grocery shopping so they are further involved in picking the foods they would like to have in the house. Talk about how their bodies need certain nutrients and vitamins to grow strong; this makes them feel that they have some control over what is eaten. 

As your kids consume a variety of foods, explain the purpose each one serves and the positive effects. For example, “We eat carrots because they have vitamins and help with our eyesight.” Although getting vital nutrients is crucial to development, enjoying the eating experience can have a long-lasting effect on the mind and body. 

Great Kids

“All children have within them the potential to be great kids. It’s our job to create a great world where this potential can flourish.” 
– Stanley Greenspan 
In this world the child exists at home, in their day care and/or school and in individual adult-child contacts. Social-emotional development is critically important to the child’s long-term relationships and achievements, be they academic, social or vocational. This has been validated by science. 
As a parent, we have to think of the multiple layers of development and what it is that a child has to conquer in order to survive in our product-oriented world.  

Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.   

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog  


When Siblings Won’t Stop Fighting

Sibling fights seem to erupt more frequently and virulently when ADHD is in the mix. During quarantine, you can guard your family’s wellbeing and your kids’ relationship by squashing squabbles before they start and teaching emotional control, with help from this expert advice. 

All children need four things: your ear, your empathy, your acknowledgment, and special time alone with you. This is how they feel supported and valued by the family. 

In children with ADHD, hyperactivity and lack of impulse control can trigger even more annoying and problematic behaviors such as persistent interrupting, yelling, poking, badgering, and not playing fair, for example. This may be driving everyone in your household nuts at a time when you could really use a break yourself. Siblings often bear the brunt of this behavior. 

Here are some ideas for reducing conflict as a team. 

#1. Give voice to your neurotypical child. 

Giving them a voice and validating their experience can minimize bad feelings. Every day or two, check in with your neurotypical child. Ask them how they’re feeling or what’s bothering them. Attending to their discomfort and allowing them to acknowledge unpleasant feelings helps diminish their stress. It also lets them know they are cared about and noticed, even in their role as the cooperative sibling. 

It also gives you the opportunity to learn what’s hard for them and reassure the child that you love and care about them. 

Always be ready to acknowledge acts of kindness. Saying “thanks for being patient with your brother today” fuels their desire to be helpful and lets them know you are on the same team. 

#2. Avoid activities that usually lead to conflict. 

Suggest some collaborative, rather than competitive, activities they can participate in together such as baking or working on a LEGO project. Ask for their ideas about what would be fun to do together. 

If they do decide to engage in play that may be challenging, anticipate sticky moments in advance and troubleshoot resolutions with each child. You can say for example, “If you play basketball with your brother, what will lead to an argument?” 

#3. Teach kids how to express their feelings rather than become their feelings. 

Emotional regulation can be a struggle for kids with ADHD, so language is important. Ask them to assign a number to their anger (from 1 to 10, 10 being the highest). If they say it’s a 6, ask them what they can do to get their anger to a 4. You can provide solutions like time apart to cool off, a snack break, or a round or two of jumping jacks. Let them know they’ll have to go to their rooms unless they can get their anger under control. 

Create a reward system around this to incentivize the kids and encourage them to continue practicing self-control. I work with a family that puts a marble into a jar every time the child uses the thinking part of the brain to get back in charge. Once the jar is filled up, the child is rewarded with a special toy or activity. 

#4. If your child with ADHD is medicated, consider a temporary adjustment during lock down. 

Everyone’s schedules are different now and a lot of medicines — especially stimulants — are designed to last through the school day. After about 3 p.m., and without after-school activities or sports to take the edge off, sibling battles tend to escalate as the day wears on. 

We’re all starting to suffer from quarantine fatigue, but it won’t last forever. Navigating your family through rough waters requires parental leadership. Strive to anticipate the conflict and avoid it before it erupts into fighting. Also strive to hear and acknowledge difficult emotions, while teaching your child how to practice using their thinking brain to wrest control away from the anger. This is their chance to learn emotional control in a safe and rewarding environment. 

If there’s a silver lining in this pandemic, it’s that spending more time together is an opportunity to practice self-control and experience new ways to play more contentedly together. 

Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.   

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog 

What to Do When Consequences Don’t Work

Very often consequences are just punishments in disguise, or at the very least, unpleasant power plays that take away a child’s sense of capability, well-being and trust. Instead of helping and inviting cooperation, consequences are more often than not used in a way that chips away at your relationship with your child. 

If chosen well, sometime consequences can help your child learn and make better behavior choices. The wrong kind of consequences just don’t motivate children to behave well. Your child might actually feel discouraged or so frustrated that their behavior gets worse instead of better. 

Things to try when no consequence seems to work: 

1. Know that you are not alone: 

This isn’t really something to try, but something that’s just a relief to know.  There are many parents who are struggling to find an effective consequence for their child.  You are not alone.  Strong-willed children are a joy and a challenge to raise.  One of those challenges is finding something that does work for your child. 

If you have a child with anxiety, depression, or trauma they may not respond as well to consequences.  We recommend you try the ideas below.  If you continue to not see change, seek a competent professional to help you and your family. 

2. Customize consequences to your specific child. 

Discipline is not a one size fits all. Each child is born with different strengths, weaknesses, temperaments, and motivations.  Therefore, you will need to customize your approach with each child.  The process of customizing does include some trial and error.  That can feel really frustrating and take some time.  However, if you stick with the process, you will eventually find something that works. 

When testing out different consequences, you need to try it CONSISTENTLY and for at least a couple of weeks before you adjust and try something different. 

3. Try some rewards, but not the typical reward you’re thinking of. 

Sometimes when we’re working on extinguishing negative behaviors, we get too focused on ONLY negative behaviors. If a child feels like their parents don’t see any good in them, it can lead to more negative behaviors.  Our kids need us to tell them what they are doing well.  Do a quick self-evaluation.  Are you pointing out at least 5-10 things each of your kids do well each day? 

4. Try at home play therapy to help your child feel more connected to you. 

Children generally behave better when they feel connected to their parents.   At home play therapy is a heavily researched way to connect deeply and quickly with our kids of ALL ages. 

It helps your child feel special to you and SEEN by you.  It also helps your child feel safe showing you what’s important to them.  That creates a special bond between you and the child. 

Play therapy also helps parents.  During the play therapy session, you get to just enjoy your child.  You don’t have to tell them what to do or what not to do.  You aren’t focused on their negative behavior.  Rather, you just get to see how beautiful they are.  It’s also kind of relaxing.  Grown-ups don’t take a lot of time to just relax and be in the present.  This allows you to do just that. 

5. Learn about more options 

Know that there is something that works for each child you just might not have found it yet.  You may need some extra tools from a professional or from another parent you trust. 

Imagine that you are trying to build a house using only a screw driver.  That would be a challenging experience.  It would be easier if you had a screw driver, a hammer, a saw, etc.  The same is true of parenting.  You may be working really hard at trying to find a consequence that works, but you may need someone to give you some additional tools, tools you’ve never thought of before.  Needing additional tools doesn’t make you a bad parent.  In fact, we think that seeking out tools makes you a great parent!  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a tool belt full of options? 

6. Think about what motivates your child. 

Some consequences don’t work because they are too small and the child doesn’t care about it.  On the other hand, some consequences don’t work because they are so extreme that the child loses hope and motivation.  The best consequences are big enough to motivate the child to not misbehave, but small enough that the child isn’t in trouble all the time. 

Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.   

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog 

How to Get a Hyperactive Toddler to Sleep

It’s after midnight and your hyperactive toddler isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. You close your eyes and wonder how you will ever get to sleep if he refuses to go to bed. Knowing your friends’ kids have already been asleep for hours makes it more difficult to cope. Having a hyperactive toddler can be stressful; however, knowing that you can take steps to help him get to sleep can significantly reduce your stress level. 

Designate a bedtime for your toddler. Put her to bed at the same time every night to establish a routine. 

Give your toddler a bath one hour before the appointed bedtime. This will help relax him and will signal that the bedtime routine has begun. 

Encourage your toddler to take part in quiet-time activities such as cuddling or reading a favorite book together. Make this a nightly activity that occurs right after the bath so she understands that bedtime is approaching. 

Put your toddler to bed, turn on some soft music and leave the room. Do not return unless there is an emergency. Follow the same routine every night, until he accepts it. 

Find a special song or poem that you and your toddler can recite each night just as you leave the bedroom. It will establish that the day has ended and it will provide security for your little one. 

Do not deviate from the routine until your toddler has accepted it completely. The first few nights will be rough because the routine is new. Refuse to give in, refuse to deviate from the steps, and your toddler will accept the routine and begin looking forward to the special bath and reading time she has with her parent each night before going to sleep. 

Focus On Connecting With Your Children

The mind. 
Focus on connecting with, rather than battling with your children. 
Start by adjusting your mindset (the real battleground) about parenting and what you thought being a parent was supposed to look like. 
As a parent, we are pressured to teach our children all the right skills to succeed at school, with friends, and in life. 
We are actually able to teach our children all the right skills by deeply understanding and connecting with them. 
Children connect with us and learn from us in the presence of a patient, empathic, gentle, and securely attached relationship. 
Yes, they need boundaries, but they need a relationship with us first! 

Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.   

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog  


Pause. Breath. Release.

Let’s keep it simple this week. 
If you start to feel overwhelmed or stressed… or if you notice your child starting to feel this way… 
All you have to remember is: 
1. Pause 
2. Breathe 
3. Release 
Check in with yourself and your kids and notice how you’re feeling. 
Slow down and take a deep breath. 
And release any tension your body is holding. 
Do this as often as you need. 
It may be a busy week for some but you deserve to take care of yourself. Think of it as your gift to yourself! 

Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.   

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog  


Google’s New Media Literacy Program Teaches Kids How to Spot Disinformation and Fake News

Google announced this morning it’s expanding its two-year-old digital safety and citizenship curriculum for children, “Be Internet Awesome,” to now include media literacy — specifically, the ability to identify so-called “fake news” and other false content. The company is launching six new media literacy activities for the curriculum that will help teach kids things like how to avoid a phishing attack, what bots are, how to verify that information is credible, how to evaluate sources, how to identify disinformation online, spot fake URLs, and more. 

The new media literacy classes — which frankly, some adults should read through as well — were developed in collaboration with Anne Collier, executive director of The Net Safety Collaborative, and Faith Rogow, Ph.D., co-author of The Teacher’s Guide to Media Literacy and a co-founder of the National Association for Media Literacy Education. 

“We need the right tools and resources to help kids make the most of technology, and while good digital safety and citizenship resources exist for families, more can be done for media literacy,” writes educator and teachmama.com founder Amy Mascott, in an announcement on Google’s blog today. “I’ve worked alongside dozens of educators who believe that media literacy is essential to safety and citizenship in the digital age, but agree that it’s a topic that can be tough to cover.” 

The courses offer kids not only instruction, but also a combination of activities and discussion starters aimed at helping them develop critical thinking skills when it comes to pursuing online resources. 

Its overall theme, the course material explains, is to help kids understand that the content they find online isn’t necessarily true or reliable — and it could even involve malicious efforts to steal their information or identity. 

The kids learn how phishing works, why it’s a threat, and how to avoid it. They then practice their anti-phishing skills by acting out and discussing reactions to suspicious online texts, posts, friend requests, pictures, and emails. 

In the bots’ section, they learn about how A.I. works and compare and contrast talking to a bot versus talking to a human being. 

In the following media literacy sections, kids learn what a credible source is, how to figure out what a source’s motives are, and learn that “just because a person is an expert on one thing doesn’t make them an expert on everything.” 

In a related classroom activity, the kids pick a question related to something they’ve seen online or are learning in class and try to get the answers online, while figuring out if the sources are credible. 

They also learn to fact check credible sources with other credible sources as a way to look for a variety of sources. 

“If you can’t find a variety of credible sources that agree with the source you are checking, you shouldn’t believe that source,” the curriculum explains. 

Kids are additionally taught how to spot fake information using clues like deceptive URLs as well as checking the sources for credibility. They’re told that some people don’t know how to do this, and share fake information online — which is how it spreads. 

“There are a lot of people and groups who are so passionate about what they believe that they twist the truth to get us to agree with them. When the twisted information is disguised as a news story, that’s disinformation,” the curriculum says. 

Kids are also informed that some of the fake news organizations are hard to spot because they use names that sound like they’re real. 

And the course delves into various tricks some websites use — like using photos that don’t relate to the story, using clickbait words like “shocking” or “outrageous” which they know make people curious,” using bold, underline, exclamation points or ALL CAPS, to convince you to agree with them. 

This section concludes with an online game, Reality River, that asks kids to use their best judgment in order to cross the river rapids. This takes place in Interland, the game developed as a companion to Google’s digital safety and citizenship curriculum. 

The overall goal of the media literacy course is to encourage the kids to make checking all news and information a habit — not just those they think seem suspicious. 

Google says the new curriculum is available online for both teachers and families alike to use, and are offered in English, Spanish and eight other languages. 

Google is partnering with the YMCA and National PTA across multiple cities to host online safety workshops, as well. 

Source: TechCrunch

Meal Routines and New Food Exposures

(#Repost from @kids_nutritionist’s Instagram)

Which side speaks to you?⁣⁣
There’s honestly no “one” way to feed a family. Both of these strategies work in different situations!⁣⁣
Lately a lot of my clients have been struggling with two things: Meal routines and new food exposures, so I figured a lot of us here are too 🙋‍♀️⁣⁣
Depending on what you may be struggling with, you may alternate these strategies🤷‍♀️. Find what works for YOUR family. ⁣⁣
Holding loving boundaries around a meal routine isn’t easy (or tantrum-proof)🙈. ⁣⁣
Benefits for boundaries with meal routines:⁣⁣
-Kids feel safe with a predictable eating pattern (knowing when food is or isn’t coming)⁣⁣
-Kids learn to tune into their bodies! If they are extra hungry they learn to eat a bit more because another meal won’t be coming for a bit. Or, if they ate a lot earlier in the day, they may not eat as much.⁣⁣
Offering a quick pre-dinner fruit/veggie:⁣⁣

-Is a great way to expose them to new foods⁣⁣
-Can prevent a meltdown⁣⁣
-Keeps them pre-occupied!⁣⁣

Start Teaching Decision Making Skills Early

Making sure your ADHD child listens and follows directions begins with helping them understand proper decision making. For your children, when you tell them to do something, they find themselves with a decision to make. They can either choose to obey or choose to disobey. 

To help them choose well, you need to let them know about decision making. They need to have a basic foundation of how decisions and consequences function. To help them best, you should teach them early that positive choices reap positive rewards while negative decisions produce negative results. 

Start teaching this at an early age. Whenever you ask your child to do something, and they appear indecisive, you should instruct them that they have a decision to make. They can choose to listen and obey or choose to not listen. 

As you explain this, explain to them also the consequences of each choice. For instance, with choosing to obey, they can play video games for an extra 15 minutes. In not obeying, though, they will not be able to watch TV. 

With providing your child clear results and teaching decision making, you help your child understand that choices matter. This also instructs them to identify when they face a decision-making opportunity. With these skills, your child will better be able to know when you want them to follow directions and how they need to respond. 

Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.   

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog