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.   

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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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Ways to Address ADHD Parent Burnout

There’s no denying that being a parent can be one of the most rewarding experiences in one’s life, it certainly has its challenging days, weeks and even years. Parents of children with ADHD have additional stressors affecting their day-to-day lives which can no doubt dampen the joys of parenting at times. 
 

If the stress of being a parent to a child with a developmental disorder or associated concern is causing you to feel “burnt out”, remember: 
 

  • You are NOT ALONE.  Parenthood is exhausting at the best of times, and it is not shameful to struggle. 
  • It is important to TAKE A BREAK.  All parents need a break from time to time, and it is vital to make time to practice self-care. Go for a walk, go to the gym, listen to music, catch up with friends, have a bubble bath, make time for “date nights”. 
  • If those around you offer to help, SAY YES. Remember it takes a village to raise a child. 
  • Draw upon your child’s “care team”.  Talk to their Pediatrician, School Counsellor, Speech Therapist, Occupational Therapist, or even sporting coach.  No questions are silly questions.  It is always better to have asked about something playing on your mind than to stress about it unnecessarily. 
  • Talk to other parents of children with developmental difficulties – this can help to normalize your experience. 
  • Try and take joy in the small things. Celebrate little wins, and appreciate when your child sings, laughs or smiles. 
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY, if the burn-out gets too much, SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP.   

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

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The Importance of Chores for Your Kids

As a parent, do you feel strongly about the importance of chores for your kids, or do you think kids should be kids and not worry about responsibilities?   

Well, I would say that most of us feel like kids need opportunities to be kids, but they also need to learn about age-appropriate responsibilities. Here are the 5 Essential Skills Learned Through Chores. 

🔷 Independence 

As parents, it’s our job to teach our children these skills to create independent, autonomous adults. But the key is that we must model correct completion of the chore.  

🔷 Confidence 

Getting a chore done and doing it well can give your child a major sense of accomplishment. 

🔷 Initiative 

Initiative almost always follows confidence. By teaching our kids how to do new things, we are giving them confidence in themselves. That confidence will translate into a willingness to try new things and a whole lot of initiative. 

🔷 Perseverance 

If you want your children to acquire knowledge in life skills, like sweeping, washing dishes, mowing the yard, and laundry, they need to be shown, step by step, the correct technique for completing each task.  Then they need to be given ample opportunities to do it repeatedly! The repeated act of proper task completion teaches our kids persistence. 

🔷 Responsibility 

The only way we can effectively teach our kids how to become responsible is by giving them a task (chore) to complete on their own. If you have taught your kids how to complete specific tasks, but they consistently perform the task incorrectly, show them again.  

After showing them several times, they are responsible for completing the chore correctly. 

Ultimately, this is the only way they will understand the importance of chores, learn to take responsibility for their chores, and grow as a person. 

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

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Strategies That Help Improve Executive Functioning Skills

When we practice using our executive functions, it helps them to develop and get stronger over time. Executive functioning is essential for social and emotional intelligence. 

As a parent, you can encourage your child to use these skills every day in order to promote strong executive functioning skills. 

1. Decision Making 

Give your child choices throughout the day. For little ones, this can be as simple as “Do you want to wear your pink shirt or your yellow shirt today?” 

Older children should have the chance to make more complex decisions. As parents, it can be instinctual to make the “right” choice for our kids, because we don’t want them to make mistakes, but this is a learning experience for children and necessary for them to have strong decision-making skills down the road. 

The natural consequences of your choices can be the best learning experience. 

2. Practice Problem Solving 

If this is an area your child struggles with, try the problem-solving wheel to help teach effective problem-solving skills. Give them hypothetical scenarios and ask them to choose the best option(s) for solving the problem. 

Practicing frequently will help them to be able to apply these skills in real-life situations. You can even act out different scenarios and use pretend-play to practice social skills and problem-solving at the same time. 

3. Play Physical Activities That Require Attention 

Kids need to pay attention to instructions and use their impulse control to play certain games. These games are also great ways to provide kids with proprioceptive input and is great for motor planning. 

  • Freeze dance 
  • Musical chairs 
  • Simon Says 
  • Duck Duck Goose 
  • Mother May I? 
  • Red Light, Green Light 

4. Play Sorting Games 

Getting children to sort objects by changing rules, such as first sorting by color, then mixing them back up and asking them to re-sort by shape helps improve cognitive flexibility. 

Cognitive flexibility is the ability to adjust your thinking from an old situation to a new situation. 

5. Play with Building Materials 

Children learn best through play and through doing. 

Give your child the opportunity to play with building toys, including blocks, mag snaps, train tracks, and racetracks, Legos, marble runs, etc. 

It might seem like they’re just playing, but it takes strategic planning to build things with these toys. Planning, organization, and decision making goes into every creation. 

If your child is building a train track, they’ll need a strategy to make the tracks connect at the end. 

Likewise, if they’re building a tower from blocks, they’ll learn that you need bigger blocks at the base of the tower, or else it will fall over. 

This building can evolve over time. As your child gets older, they can focus on building more complex Lego sets, or model airplanes, robots, etc. 

These tasks require working memory, the ability to follow multi-step directions, focus, and concentration. 

6. Play Board Games That Require Strategy 

Strategic board games give your child a chance to practice planning and keeping it in mind for several moves. They must also adjust their strategy in response to the other players’ moves. 

Through strategizing, a child’s inhibitory control, flexibility, and working memory need to work together, practicing many executive functions together. 

7. Improve Empathy 

It’s a myth that children with autism lack empathy. 

They are very empathetic; the problem is that they have trouble reading how other people feel. They don’t pick up on body language and slight changes in tone of voice or facial expression as easily as others. 

You can help improve your child’s ability at recognizing others’ feelings by drawing their attention to them regularly. 

For example, when you’re watching their favorite TV show together ask your child how they think the character feels. 

Over time this will help your child form connections between actions and feelings and help grow their understanding and they will become more empathetic. 

This will also help your child to better identify their own big emotions and improve their perspective-taking abilities. 

8. Give Executive Functioning Time to Develop 

Finally, you just must give your little ones some time. As I mentioned earlier, the part of the brain responsible for executive functions doesn’t completely mature until the mid-twenties. 

A child with ADHD usually is delayed by about 3 years in their level of executive functioning. As a parent just keep facilitating opportunities to learn, being patient and nurturing during meltdowns, setting boundaries when you need to, and playing lots of games together. 

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

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog