Developed by Jenny Hanlon, M.Ed., 2015
1. Talk together A LOT!
a. Family dinner table
b. Car rides (turn electronics off)
c. Walks together
d. During these conversations teach communication skills:
i. Eye contact
ii. Pauses when the other person is talking
iii. Teach your child to ask about your day, your spouse’s day and their sibling's to help them begin to think beyond themselves.
2. Limit electronics as much as possible.
a. It’s not just the potential content that’s concerning, but it’s the screen interaction. Screen time is over-stimulating to the brain, especially that of a young child. This can cause the child’s brain to not know what to attend to in even non-screen moments, thus making it challenging for the child to learn and focus.
b. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 2 hours of screen time for children 2 and older. Screens include computers, TV, videos, ipad, phones, video games, etc. Most young children would benefit from the amount of time being less than 1 hour total per day.
3. Spend time together moving your bodies.
e. Playing a sport
f. Children who are confident physically have greater confidence tackling other non-physical tasks.
4. Teach heart rate and body awareness.
a. Help your child learn how to begin to feel for his heart rate by holding his hands to his chest or his neck. Ask him if it’s going fast or slow. Continue to bring awareness to your child about his heart rate so he can begin to notice if he’s getting too excited or over-stimulated and needssome calming time.
5. Read together daily.
a. As you read to your child, take time to look at the pictures together with a special focus on facial expressions and other small details keeping the focus on
b. As your child grows in his interest in letters and words, start to point a few out as you read, but still keep the focus more on the story elements.
6. Allow time and space for problem solving and responsibility.
a. If your child is struggling with a task instead of trying to fix or solve the problem for her, encourage her to try a different way.
b. If your child is struggling with a task that is new to her and she needs to be taught how to do it, but is asking for your help, use the phrase, “I can help you by showing you how.”
c. Suggestions for how to provide opportunities for responsibility:
i. Coat hung when she walks in the door
ii. Carry her own backpack
iii. Boots on rug or boot shelf, etc.
iv. Dirty clothes in hamper
v. Clean laundry put in drawers
vi. For more suggestions see Appendix 1 of Your Family Compass
7. Make sleep a priority for you and your children.
a. When children are tired they can’t function at full capacity and are more likely to lose focus, act out or not fully grasp what’s happening around them.
b. You’ll function better as parents too when your children have the sleep they need and you have the sleep you need.
8. Follow through on what you say to your child.
a. If you say, “stop,” make sure you stop the child if she doesn't stop on her own.
b. If you say you’ll be at her school event make sure you get there.
9. Be patient as your child and her classmates learn proper social behaviors.
a. If your child says, “That kid Charles in my class is mean” instead of telling your child to stay away from Charles, tell him that Charles is still learning how to be a friend. Ask your child how he could help Charles learn this and how he could help himself stay safe while interacting with Charles.
b. You never know when your child might be the one still learning, so consider how you would want other parents talking to their children about your child.
c. Learning proper social behaviors is a process that takes time.
10. Keep family time a priority.
a. The years we have to raise and influence our children pass quickly, so make them count. Children need the secure base of their family to help build resiliency.
b. If the whole family can’t be home for dinnertime, then sit down with as many of you who are there and find other times to gather as a whole family.
c. Do fun/meaningful activities as a family to help strengthen your bond.