Set Limits with Love Not Fear

Criticism by loved ones is sadly one of the most common problems faced by gentle and positive parents. 
 
Are you ever told to follow authoritarian parenting practices that invoke fear in children? Spankings. Threats of punishment. Solitary time-outs. 
 
Many well-meaning parents resort to and insist on authoritarian parenting because sometimes fear of punishment CAN stop a behavior in the *short-term*. 
 
But in the long run, it can result in kids feeling resentful, seeking revenge, or just feeling discouraged and down on themselves. These outcomes can ultimately lead to some negative behaviors in the long haul. Then, the cycle continues! 
 
Positive discipline is *not* the easy way out. It’s HARD work. 💪🏽 
 
By opting out of bribes, threats, and punishments, we can empower our children to understand the rationale behind positive decision-making. 💞 
 
This takes TIME. ⏰ It takes growing through mistakes. But it also results in fostering an internal motivation to do the right and kind thing.  

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

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What to Do After You Yell at Your Toddler?

Positive parenting is a journey that takes not only practice and patience but the ability to shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. 
 
A fixed mindset is about seeing the qualities of yourself, your child, and all the circumstances around us as unable to change. Whereas a growth mindset is believing that things can change with time, effort, and persistence. 
 
And once you make that shift to a growth mindset, you’re able to expand your capacity to embrace challenges, to continue through obstacles, to learn from mistakes, to seek out inspiration and other successes instead of criticizing yourself for not measuring up. That’s what’s possible when we have a growth mindset inside of parenting. 
 
So, when you’re in the heat of the moment and react in a negative way to your toddler’s behavior (like yelling or punishing), I invite you to be easy on yourself and understand that reacting that way doesn’t make you a bad parent. That it isn’t a permanent response to everything your child does in the future. That if you want to make a change, you CAN. 
 
You always have the opportunity to repair a relationship by making amends. 
 
Here’s how:   

1. Take Ownership by saying, “I felt frustrated and yelled at you.” 
2. Acknowledge the impact and say, “How was it for you? Got it. You felt sad when mommy yelled.” 
3. Apologize then say, “I’m sorry that wasn’t my intention.” 
4. Move forward by saying, “Next time, I’m going to step back and take 5 deep breaths.” 
 
Avoid beating yourself up by remembering that you are human and allowed to make mistakes. Having a growth mindset can change your whole outlook and feelings about parenting a toddler. 

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

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Essentials for Parenting Highly Sensitive Children

Highly sensitive children are at risk of internalizing a lasting and highly damaging sense of shame – a sense that they’re somehow “lacking” compared to more outgoing siblings and peers. Parents and other significant adults in their lives need to do all they can to prevent this unwarranted sense of shame from taking root. 

If you have a highly sensitive child, the following points are likely just reminders for you. However, they may be helpful for others who are important to your child too. 

Value your child 

A highly sensitive child’s experience of the world may be different from yours, but it is real. He or she is not “faking” tantrums or frustration to get attention or manipulate you. Your child can’t adapt to “be like you” and the sooner you can gratefully accept the child you have, the happier you will both be. 

Validate your child 

All highly sensitive children eventually notice that they are different from other kids. Your child needs to know that you value them and that they are not an oddity. Remind them that many people are like them. 

When they face their weaknesses or failings, they need you to counter their self-doubts with a more balanced perspective. Bringing up a success to match a failure is important for wiring your child’s brain for self-esteem.  Remind them of their unusual strengths in another area. 

Protect your child 

To build confidence in a new situation, your highly sensitive child will need to take smaller steps than other children, with lots of encouragement from you. It’s extremely important not to force your child to go beyond what they’re comfortable with. Pushing this child to help them “get over their fear” will backfire terribly. Certainly, don’t let others pressure your child to do something he or she is not ready to do. 

Accept that a slower pace means peace 

Highly sensitive kids thrive on predictability and routine, and they need much more down time in their schedule than “regular” kids. Any intense experience should be balanced by a quiet, restful “retreat” that allows them to regroup emotionally.  

Cultivate patience 

When discipline is called for, always remember that even a stern talking to can be crushing to these kids. Generally, they’re harsh self-critics, quick to condemn themselves as “bad” or “useless” when they mess up. It’s a good idea to conclude discipline with a reminder that everyone makes mistakes. 

Don’t fret about all the “fun things” your child seems to be missing out on, advises Aron. Your child doesn’t have to live the same childhood that you did. He or she has their own ideas about what is “fun.” Stay positive, be proud of your child and predict a great future for them, and you’ll help your child stay positive too. 

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

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Five Essential Guidelines to Stop Sibling Fights

Finding your kids in the thick of a physical altercation–punching, biting, slapping, or even worse was scary stuff for everyone involved–children and parents alike. But the truth is, this behavior is common, especially in younger children who don’t have more appropriate conflict resolution skills. 

What can you do to reduce sibling fights? Model empathy, personal boundaries and healthy conflict resolution. Coach children during conflicts (when needed). Stepping out of a judge role and taking on a more neutral, facilitator role. Below are the five essential guidelines to stop sibling fights. 

1. Step in and limit all behaviors that are hurtful. (You might need to physically stand in their way) Use calm and confident words. 

It might sound like “I’m standing here, and I will not let you hurt each other.” 

2. Take time to listen and validate feelings. Taking turns as needed to speak to each child and remembering that coaching role explained above. Think along the lines of “You two are having a hard time—I wonder what we can do,” instead of “He or she is the problem.” 

3. Focus on understanding needs and boundaries. Avoid criticizing the behavior that was out of line. Children are quite aware that hitting and hurting a sibling is wrong. 

4. Use respectful communication and discipline with the intent to teach. Focusing on solutions and agreements instead of punishments. This actively strengthens connection, a sense of cooperation, capability and well-being. 

5. Don’t be afraid to suggest that everyone take some time to calm down. Stay by your children but don’t get into problem solving mode until tears have passed and everyone seems ready to listen. 

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

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Helping Your Child Build Healthy Self Esteem

When a child’s self-esteem is positive and well balanced, they aren’t afraid of making mistakes because they recognize within themselves the ability to try again. They can manage worries, frustrations and the learning process well. Especially when parents can encourage and support them along the way. 

Here are ten parenting practices that promote healthy self-esteem: 

1. Use encouraging words: Self-esteem is reinforced when children feel confident in their abilities, even when things are tough. Encouraging words help children stay the course. 

2. Welcome boredom into your home: When boredom shows up, children start to get creative. They tap into their inner resources, discover their interests and learn to rely on their own abilities.  Allow for plenty of unstructured time for your child every day. Even better if you can get them outdoors! 

3. Validate feelings without eliminating every obstacle: When your child is struggling, try to validate and listen. Have faith that your child will be able to feel a full range of emotions and get through their feelings.  

4. Teach self-care skills: Show your child how to care for their body, belongings and home. Self-esteem really starts with knowing you can care for yourself, so allow your child to be an activate participant in their care from the very start. 

5. Listen: Strive to make time to be together each day so you can listen to your child talk about accomplishments, fears, worries, ideas and more. 

6. Acknowledge worries:  When a child feels like her worries are being understood she is better able to deal with them and move forward. So, try not to dismiss worries and instead acknowledge them.  

7. Have courage & bkind: Our children really are watching us and reflecting on the choices that we make. Face your own obstacles, fears and worries with courage. Highlight the good and how you worked things out.  Of course, it’s ok to be authentic and admit defeat, but strive to do so with general compassion and kindness towards yourself.  

8. Welcome mistakes and imperfections: See these as opportunities to learn, to persevere or to know when to quit and move on. Each mistake can be a chance to learn something new, or at the very least to model what it takes to problem solve. 

9. Spend time together: Play, fun and laughter are incredibly powerful ways to connect to your child’s heart and mind. Children that feel connected to their parents feel good about themselves. This practice has tremendous potential to reduce stress, misbehavior and increase your child’s well-being. 

10. Use connected, positive discipline: Focus on working together, on understanding the root of the problem, setting limits well and being present. A respectful, kind and clear approach to discipline helps your child feel secure, loved and understood. A great mix for growing up with a healthy and with balanced self-esteem. 

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

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog  

Tips to Limit Preschooler’s Screen Time

The exciting nature of screen time can trigger the release of dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter that makes us associate screens with pleasure and therefore something we want to spend more time with. When the game stops, so does dopamine release and for some individuals this can result in irritability. 

Time spent in front of a screen is also time your kids are not spending engaged in other activities, many of which minimize behavior problems. 

Kids with more than two hours a day of screen time by the age of 5 are almost eight times more likely to meet the criteria for ADD/ADHD than youngsters who spend less than 30 minutes a day looking at a screen, according to a 2019 Canadian study in Plos One

The next time you’re tempted to use screen time as a sort of babysitter, think twice. You could be setting up your child for a lifetime of struggle. It’s best to limit your preschooler’s screen time to no more than 30 minutes a day. Here are three ways to limit your preschooler’s screen time. 

 1. Use parental controls. 

Tablets and smartphones come equipped with control options that allow parents to monitor and limit screen time. 

2. Set and enforce screen rules. 

No screens at the dinner table. No screens in the car. No screens before bedtime. Whatever rules you set, be sure to enforce them. This will help preschoolers develop a healthier relationship with their tech gadgets. 

3. Encourage physical activity. 

Take your child to the park, swimming pool, or activity center or sign them up for group sports so they can burn off energy while having fun and learning new skills. Exercise increases blood flow to all parts of the body, including the brain, and it boosts focus and attention. Kids who spent at least two hours a week playing organized sports were less likely to have behavioral issues. When ADD patients play sports, such as basketball, which involves intense aerobic exercise, they tend to do better in school. 

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

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Words Matter

“Be mindful of the language you use to describe your children. They will come to see themselves through the filter you design.” – Lori Petro, TEACH Through Love 

Words are powerful. Words are especially powerful when said by parents to their children. The words we use to describe our children become a part of their self-concept and their behavior is based on their self-concept. Our actions have deep roots on what we think and how we perceive self. Self-concept has a big influence on our behavior. Behavior pattern decides actions. Stable or unstable self-concept, it is a motivating force in a person’s behavior…It is important at this moment to connect the influence of the words we use to call little ones as ‘dumb’, ‘stupid’, etc. We just casually call and forget, but those words have big impact on little minds. Some school children study below their capacities because they have learned at home and from other members of friend circle to think themselves as dumb. 

Children will have a much easier time valuing themselves if they are valued by their parents. Dorothy Briggs, the author of Your Child’s Self-Esteem, says that parents are like a mirror, creating the child’s self-image. We reflect to them who we think they are, and they take it in as the absolute truth. They are not critical of our evaluation of them until they get much older, when the damage is largely done.  

The way we ‘frame’ a situation, or a person, heavily influences our interactions. If we consistently see our children as frustrating impediments in that would otherwise be a well-ordered life, then every interaction with our children will be marred by that default view. Such a view promotes a deficit-orientation towards a family. It reduces motivation on the part of parents to help their ‘good-for-nothing’, ‘bratty’, ‘ungrateful’ children. And unsurprisingly, such approach is hardly inspiring for children. They feed off the negativity of parental perception and typically live up to precisely what is expected of them…which is not much.  

I understand we aren’t perfect parents, and sometimes something may slip off our tongues that we regret saying. In those instances, apologize and reaffirm to your child your love and belief in him. Positive parenting does not require us to be perfect, but it does require us to be mindful. Be mindful not only of the words you say, but of the thoughts you think. Reframe negative thoughts and purposefully look for and appreciate the positives in your children. Tell them how kind, capable, and wonderful you think they are. One of the greatest gifts you can give your child will never be found under the Christmas tree: A healthy self-concept.  

Nurture Your Child’s Emotional Intelligence

Developing emotional understanding from an early age equips children with practical coping tools to deal with emotional issues, shaping how children approach everyday life pressures as they grow into adults. Young children raised this way, learn how to identify and manage their emotions, as well as developing an understanding of the feelings of others. 

Children are not born knowing what emotions are or how to cope with them. Below are five tips on how you can help children from birth to three years explore their own emotions, talk about how they feel, and learn to understand the feelings of others. 

  1. Encourage emotional play: Help children to explore their emotions through play. For example, use a doll or a puppet to help demonstrate physical reactions related to feelings. You could put on a silly voice, make a certain noise or pull an exaggerated face to signify different emotions. Interaction is key! 
  1. Talk about emotions: One of the most important ways for children to learn about emotions is for you to talk about emotions with them. Ask a child how they are feeling, talk about their emotions, and explain what causes emotions. You can also talk about other people’s emotions. For example, you could explain to a child that their friend is sad because she lost something, and that she is crying because she feels sad. 
  1. Be responsive: Listen to and watch how children react to what you are doing – show that you are ‘tuning in’ to them and try to make sense of what they are saying. Affect attunement is when you show a child that you are tuning in to their emotions and feelings, by using your facial expressions, gestures or by making sounds that match their feelings. 
  1. Give praise: It is generally a good idea to give positive praise for good behavior rather than focusing too much on negative behavior – ‘catch them being good’ rather than ‘catch them being bad’! Give them warm praise. 
  1.  Deal with tantrums: Validate a child’s emotions but remind them of the rules. After initial validation and boundary setting, ignore the tantrum, and ignore the negative behavior. Remember to give warm attention for any positive behavior. 

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

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog  

10 Tips for Managing Your Child’s ADHD

A child with ADHD can place many demands on your time, energy and sense of competence. The constant interruptions, need for repeated instructions and close supervision can be taxing. The following strategies may be helpful. 

1. Clear rules and expectations 

Children with ADHD need regular reminders of the house and classroom rules so set clear targets for behavior and re-cap them at the end. 

2. Strategic praise 

Recognition of making the right choices will serve as a regular reminder of behavior expectations for a child with ADHD. Positive attention is powerful – “Catch them being good.” 

3. Immediate or short-term rewards and consequences 

Children with ADHD will benefit from immediate feedback for desired behaviors and likewise clear and proportionate consequences.  

4. Be persistent and consistent 

You may want immediate results, but that’s not likely. It can take months to see significant progress. When the boundaries are consistently applied the child will learn that you are in it for the long run and the relationship will form. 

5. Establish routines 

Children with ADHD get bored with routines but need them desperately, routines may include visual timetables on the desk and warning when the daily routine is going to alter. 

6. Create clear plans and checklists for lessons and unstructured activities 

Write these on their desks. A child will benefit from seeing the activities checked off and will feel a sense of accomplishment which also builds resilience in the learning environment. 

7. Use timers 

Timers are great for setting activities and movement breaks. 

8. Reward for going above and beyond 

Ensure that children have a personalized reward of their choice for completing their work or helping others in the classroom.  

9. Plan your learning environment 

Students with ADHD benefit from the learning environment having minimal distractions. Student and parent voice will help to establish the ideal environment for the child to access the learning. 

10. Empower 

Allowing a child with ADHD to feel empowered is a helpful step. Ask them where and how they think they will learn best.  

The promotion of self-regulation should be encouraged too. This can be achieved through a time-out card and identifying a safe space when environment becomes overstimulating or when the child feels dysregulated. 

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

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog  

Establishing Self-Care to Promote Your Child’s Mental Health

Growing up is a hectic period for children, one that manifests as a continuous cycle of trials, tribulations, and positive revelations. Helping your child build healthy self-esteem through consistent self-care practices is a necessary preventative measure. 

As a parent, self-care is your best tool for preventing mental health concerns from debilitating your child’s life. Taking the time to establish self-care routines with your child will help them develop a self-loving attitude towards themselves, negating ultimate difficulties with their mental health. 

Self-care is any action that your child can take to prevent additional regression of their mental health, and overall enhance their general well-being. Integrating this practice into a daily routine can be done through your example, modeling a healthy, loving relationship with yourself. 

Self-care begins with helping your child articulate how they’re feeling. Basic abilities to safely express emotion can be interrupted by stress experienced during the infancy stage of development. Teach your child that it’s necessary to acknowledge when they struggle with their emotions, in order to offer these challenges understanding and rest. 

Believe in your ability to negate future mental health complications by introducing self-love at an early age. Spend more time building a loving environment in which they can safely navigate their adversity, falter, and grow. Learning to love yourself despite unique adversities is less of a given and more of a muscle that needs to be conditioned each day. Placing self-care above all else when developing your relationship with your child will provide the opportunity for this growth to take place. 

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

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How to Get a Child with ADHD to Go to Sleep

Modify Medicines 

Trouble with sleep is a common side effect of ADHD medications (which are stimulants). To be sure your child can wind down at bedtime, ask their doctor about changing the dose, the timing of it, or the type of medication they’re taking. There are non-stimulant options that could work for your child’s ADHD. It may take a few tries to find the combo that works best for focusing during the day and going to sleep at night.  

Welcome the Dark 

You may have most of the lights off in your child’s room at bedtime, but does that make the room dark enough? Your kid’s body clock may need more of a nudge to know it’s nighttime. Unplug or cover any electronics that glow. Blackout curtains can help shut out extra light from outside. If your child will wear it, a sleep mask can also do the trick. 

Skip the Screens 

The blue light from the monitors on things like computers, tablets, and phones can trick your child’s brain into thinking it’s time to be awake. Limit screen use to earlier in the day and fill your child’s post-dinner hours with activities like board games, reading, or quiet play. 

 
Focus on Food Choices 

What and when your child eats (or drinks) can affect their sleep schedule. A bedtime stomach that’s too full or too empty can make it hard to start snoozing. So, can snacks and drinks packed with caffeine. Skip soda, tea, and chocolate in the afternoon and evening. 

Stick to a Schedule 

A nighttime routine can help ease your child toward sleep. A regular order of events at bedtime will help train their body and brain that sleep comes next. Write your plan down, with the help of your child. That’ll make sure you’re both on board (and help babysitters know the drill when you’re away). 

Move More 

A body that exercises daily sleeps better at night. Anything that gets the blood pumping and muscles moving works.  

Build in Bath Time 

A soothing soak in the tub might be just the trick to tire your child out. After they get out of a warm bath, their body will start to cool off. That can make them feel sleepy. 

 
Set a Wake-Up Time 

It’s easier (most of the time) to get a kid out of bed than to get them to fall asleep. Keep your child’s wake-up time the same every day, including weekends, so their body gets in the rhythm of the same sleep hours. 

Stifle Sound 

It’s likely your child’s bedtime happens before the rest of the household hits the hay. Block out extra noise that could distract your kid from dream time. White-noise machines create soothing static that can mask other sounds. Earplugs can also work for kids more sensitive to noise. 

 
Address Anxiety 

About 25% of kids with ADHD also have an anxiety disorder. That can make a child’s mind race and prevent it from drifting off. Talk to your child’s doctor about whether that might be part of their sleep problem. They might suggest other therapies or strategies. 

 
Head Off Homework Early 

Schoolwork often causes stress, which can delay sleep. Help your child organize their time so they can finish their work early enough that bedtime can stay the same. Try using checklists and a specific work area to help them stay on task. 

 
Maybe a Sleep Supplement 

Melatonin is a hormone your brain releases at a certain time of day to tell your body it’s time to go to bed. You can buy it in pill form and take it before bedtime to treat insomnia or other sleep problems. Experts are still studying the long-term effects of using melatonin, but they consider it safe to use in kids. Ask your child’s doctor if it might work as a sleep aid. 

Relaxation Techniques 

Brain and body calming methods can help some kids. Breathing exercises and guided imagery are two ways to slow down a racing mind and jittery limbs. Ask your doctor to help you find ways to show you and your child what to do. 

 
Choose the Right Time for Bed 

Be sure your child’s bedtime is setting them up for good sleep. Figure out how many hours they need based on age: 

Two-year-olds and younger need 14+ hours. 

Preschoolers need 10-13 hours. 

Kids under 13 need 9-11 hours. 

Teens need 8-10 hours. 

Count backward from their wake-up time and start there. Some kids do OK with less than the average and may go to sleep faster with a later bedtime. 

Your doctor can help find out what works best. 

 
Rule Out Other Things 

Sometimes ADHD isn’t behind sleep problems. If you’ve tried good strategies without success, think about seeing a sleep specialist. Your child could have: 

Asthma 

Allergies 

Sleep apnea or another disorder that disrupts rest. 

Snoring or pauses in breathing can be signs of a sleep struggle other than ADHD. 

Teaching Children Self Care Routines

A lot of learning happens in the first few years of a child’s life. From rolling over, walking and running to counting and writing their name, your child is learning a lot! Along with academic skills, it’s also important young children learn important self-care behaviors like brushing their teeth and washing their hands. 

Establish a routine. Young children are not only working on self-help skills, but part of the process is simply working on memory skills. Making these acts a routine will help kids remember to complete these tasks each day.  

Explain the “why.” It’s easier for us to follow rules or do things we don’t necessarily want to do when we understand why it’s important. Explain to children why these self-care practices are necessary. Talk about how we wash our hands to avoid spreading germs, which can make us sick, or how brushing our teeth regularly helps us avoid painful cavities and keeps our teeth clean and healthy. 

Be there. Young children need guidance and support from the important adults in their lives. By simply being present and engaged with them throughout the day, you can help them learn and remember these self-care routines. Young children will need lots of reminders, and it may be a while before they can complete the tasks independently, but your presence is important. 

Model it. You can do this in two different ways: by letting them observe you naturally doing these things (i.e., washing your hands or brushing your teeth while they are in the same room) and by providing some purposeful instruction. Children are little copycats; your actions can give them something good to imitate. 

Encourage their efforts. Children need encouragement, so notice when they try and when they are successful. Learn more about how to encourage children’s behavior. 

You can help your young child learn important daily routines they will use for a lifetime! 

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

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog