Safe Haven

toddler sleeping while sucking pacifier

Photo: John Finkelstein on Pexels.com

 

She closed her eyes

And drifted,

Snug,

Through the safe haven

Of warm arms,

And dreamed of

Milk

And coos

And sun,

And all the smiles

That feed

Her heart

And mind.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Haven in 32 words

 

Notorious

 

Hard times OsnatHalperinBarlev

Photo: Osnat Halperin-Barlev

 

When you know how stress

Rewires

Little ones’ brains

To lifelong pain,

You mark yourself ever

Notorious

When you cruelly

Add

To their wounding

Day and again.

 

 

Merriam-Webster’s word for June 22, 2018:

Notorious

This post continues the blogging challenge in which Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, serves as inspiration a-la the “Daily Prompt.”

Want to join me? Feel free to link to this post on your blog, and/or post a link to your blogpost in the comment section below so others can enjoy it, too. Poetry, photography, short stories, anecdotes: Go for it!

For more visibility, tag your post with #WordOfDayNY, so your post can be searchable.

“Follow” me if you want to receive future prompts, or just pop in when you’re looking for inspiration. Here’s to the fun of writing and our ever-evolving blogging community!

 

Vanquish Voracity

 

cross2 OfirAsif

Photo: Ofir Asif

 

May the eager seek the good

More than they crave

The rush of

Harming.

May the powerful remember

How no honor lies

In deliberately

Alarming.

Let satiety be reached

Not by cruelty

But with love.

So that children can sleep safely

In the arms of those

They love.

 

 

Merriam-Webster’s word for June 21, 2018:

Voracity

This post continues the blogging challenge in which Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, serves as inspiration a-la the “Daily Prompt.”

Want to join me? Feel free to link to this post on your blog, and/or post a link to your blogpost in the comment section below so others can enjoy it, too. Poetry, photography, short stories, anecdotes: Go for it!

For more visibility, tag your post with #WordOfDayNY, so your post can be searchable.

“Follow” me if you want to receive future prompts, or just pop in when you’re looking for inspiration. Here’s to the fun of writing and our ever-evolving blogging community!

 

 

 

Trademarked Children

kids on dock OsnatHalperinBarlev

Photo: Osnat Halperin Barlev

 

“She is a stubborn one,” her mother claims. “Screams bloody murder when she doesn’t get her way.”

“He is our difficult child,” the father sighs. “I guess every family has one.”

“This one is the lovey-dovey twin,” the grandma declares. “Her sister? She’s the total opposite. Wriggly worm, that one.”

“He’s Mister Independent,” the foster mother says, “Won’t let anyone help him with anything.”

“He’s the lazy one,” the teacher complains. “If he can get away with not doing something, I bet you he won’t do it.”

“She’s the fighter,” the nanny imparts, “bossy as they come.”

Surely she is more than stubborn. Surely he’s not always difficult. Surely there are times she does not want to cuddle and when her twin sister relaxes into hugs. Surely sometimes he wishes to be helped. Surely he is not just lazy. Surely there are situations where she does not want to fight.

Children listen to our words, and the tone we say them. They internalize our attitudes of them and all too often identify with the boxes we sort them into. Let us take heed, for what we stamp children as, they might live up to without knowing there are many more hues in the palette of what they are and can become.

 

 

For The Daily Post

Kids and Screen Time: Data, Reality, and Possibility

ScreenTime

When I grew up, television was a very small part of daily life, and was the only screen in the house. Telephone conversations were usually brief (and attached to the wall through the cord in the main room of the house, they only allowed limited privacy). Most daily interactions were face-to-face. Social interaction with peers and siblings certainly were face to face.

Now most homes in developed countries have several screens in different configurations: TVs, laptops, computers, tablets, phones, game consoles, DVD players, other interactive toys that come with a screen.

Children spend a lot more time facing a screen than they ever did. What is the impact of that?

Like every tool, screen media is neither good nor bad–it is HOW you used it and HOW MUCH you used it and what it DISPLACES that matters.

In this electronic age, children have more access to more education materials in quicker and more convenient ways than ever before. Media and information are powerful, but not neutral: If not taught how to discern information on the web, children do not learn how to conduct research or pick out primary source or secondary source, how to identify fact from biased blog or a complete fallacy. They may believe everything they read online–both truth and blatant misrepresentations. They need to be taught how to use information, how to cross-check, how to learn.

Education with the use of screens has replaced some of the methods of learning that were used in not-too-long-ago times. They have benefits and limitations. They can replace some older methods of research and increase efficiency and effectiveness of learning. They can connect people from far places to work together. They can bridge over differences and stigmas. However, they can also displace the interactive collaboration of listening, analyzing other people’s opinions and views, and working together interactively in real space (rather than over the internet in shared documents or through ‘attachments’ or searching to copy other people’s reports through google …).

Outside of educational screen time (i.e. the time children spend watching screens for learning, whether formal or informal), there are also the many hours a week that children spend playing or gazing at movies or music videos, or in texting incomplete sentences in stunted spelling to their friends on social media or phones. These hours often displace actual face-to-face interactions and all that comes with them: reading social cues, body language, emotions, tone of voice. Electronic communication is a poor substitute to actual interaction. Emoticons are a very crude representation of people’s facial expressions, and while they can lend ‘color’ to a message, they are not the real deal.

Children who spend too many hours staring at screens spend too few hours interacting with others and learning skills for interpersonal communication, for reading other people’s emotions and body language, for taking turns and listening.

In an article on NPR, about “Kids and Screen time–what does the research say”, researchers found that removing screen time (and effectively, the replacing of that back with social interaction and TALKING TO EACH OTHER and engaging with others), helped children be more able to recognize facial expressions. The benefits were significant even after five days of no screen time.

While some people advocate total electronics removal … I am not an advocate of removing all electronics: we live in a time where media and internet, email and web searches are enormous tools. It would be a form of social isolation to cut children off from the ability to interact with the world. However, it can be unhelpful to have too much screen time, as it displaces other kinds of social engagement that are just as important. Children do not know what they are missing when they stare at screens instead of interact with people–it is our job and responsibility as adults to help them learn to communicate and socialize.

Infants learn how to interact, how to engage, how to interpret communication and intent–through facial expression and through immediate dyadic interaction in many different settings over many interactions. It is a learning that continues throughout childhood and into young adulthood (and some may say, throughout the lifespan). We need to be mindful of not displacing personal interaction with screen time.

It is possible to do both–though that calls for moderation and boundaries (things that children need to learn, anyway). Additionally, it needs to be not only the children … adults who spend all their times staring at a little screen are displacing time of interaction WITH their children and are becoming models for what we do not want to reinforce.

There is no one recipe that would work for everyone–the right balance is different for different people at different times. What does make sense to me, is to be mindful and be honest:

  • Do not demand of your children something you do not follow yourself …

* Create windows of time when screens are not used in your home: a ‘curfew’ time for phones, or an evening a week without any electronics, a ‘no virtual communication’ weekend day, maybe decide on no electronics in mealtimes (basic politeness, that …), or on other ways to limit screen time. For everyone.

  • Make sure that you are a good model for turning off electronics and doing more than just lifting your eyes momentarily from one …

Young children, especially, are vulnerable to not developing what they SHOULD be developing. If their little faces are stuck to a screen rather than interested in another person, and if their interactions are the brief raising of eyes (or the parent’s brief raising of eyes) from a screen to nod or follow a direction; they would not learn how to engage well, they would not know to be good communicators, or listeners, or readers of social gestures, facial expressions, body-language, and signs.

This is not an either/or. Electronics and screen time, interpersonal social time: It can be an and/and, but it needs to be mindful, lest we raise a generation of children who do not how to interact … and fail them by not providing them the opportunities they needed to learn.

To read the article: “Kids and Screen Time–what does the research say” on NPR, click on the title, or click below:

http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/08/28/343735856/kids-and-screen-time-what-does-the-research-say

“It’s not a gift, it’s a mirror!”

Sharing this You Tube video for cuteness sake … and for the amazing little people kids are, and their language abilities, intonation, explanation, and social skills, even at that age.

She has it all figured out (though I do wonder if that mirror really did change hands come Mother’s Day …).

As for the title of the video–I disagree. I think you CAN very much trust a two-year-old! You can trust them to tell it like it is! Enjoy!

Clapping, singing, and Peek-A-Boo

A query came from another young mother:
“I have a six-month-old baby and I’m a single mom without much money to take her to mommy-and-me classes and such. Are there games or activities I can do with my baby at home to help her language development? She’s healthy and doing everything she’s supposed to do at this age, the doctor says. Thanks, Doing My Best.”

 

Dear “Doing My Best”,

It sounds to me like you are on the right path already by even wanting to know how to do more with your little one! Being a single mom is difficult, let alone having limited funds. The good news is that you don’t need to spend money on classes and expensive toys and gadgets–YOU, and things you already have at home, are the best ‘tools’ for your baby–you likely have everything you need already!

Babies have an innate ability to develop language, and are marvels in how they manage to make meaning of the world around them. Almost all they need for it is you and exposure to language through you–their caregiver. She needs your attention, sensitivity, time, and commitment. There are many things you can do during your everyday activities with her that would foster comprehension, listening, turn-taking, sound production, connection, shared attention and cognitive development–all the makings of language and communication development.

Language exposure is important, so talk to your child about everything you do. Use her name when you call her, look at photos of herself and yourself and other people she knows–point to the photos and tell her who these are. Books are great, as well. Read to her every night–it is never too early to start and make it a habit. Board books are sturdy and great fun, and you can let her turn the pages if she wants (lift-flap books where she can ‘find’ things are fun, too).

You don’t need to buy many books–maybe just get a few favorites. Borrow the rest at the library. Take her with you if you can and choose the books together. Make this part of your fun time. You don’t need to read every word in a book, either–flow with it, narrate the pictures, respond to her reactions (e.g. “yes, you are touching the lion, that’s the lion and he can roar… and that’s the giraffe, look how tall it is! It can reach all the way up in the tree!”). Make book-reading part of your connecting and listening time.

Everyday activities are excellent opportunities for language exposure: narrate whatever you are doing together, when you are out on a walk, in the playground, food shopping, or doing household chores (she can help …) such as folding laundry, straightening up, or mushing cooked veggies for her food (“Oh, here’s your red shirt! Let’s fold your shirt so we can put it in your drawer. Look how nice and clean it is! Now…where are your socks–here’s one sock, and here’s the other… You want to hold the socks? Here you are. Oh, aren’t you smart! You know they go on your feet! Let’s put them on–one sock on this foot, and another sock for that foot …”) etc.

Take turns by playing games like peek-a-boo, clapping, nursery songs that have predictable body movements (the wheels on the bus, itsy-bitsy spider … borrow a CD from the library if you don’t remember them, you’ll know them by heart in no time…). Take turns banging on things to make noise together (you don’t need to spend money on a drum, an upside down pot with a spoon works great, too …), build a ‘tower’ from a few blocks and knock it down, then build again and let her knock it down (plastic cups or containers work well. You can fill closed containers with some dried beans of pasta if you want–for heft and sound–just make sure they are sealed tight!). Babies love repetition, so be ready to do this quite a few times.

You can roll a ball back and forth, pick up toys together (it may take a while, if she decides that taking out of the box is just as much if not more fun!), hand her spoons to put in the drawer, fill and empty a basket of lemons or oranges (no items smaller than a Ping-Pong ball, because they can be a chocking hazard), fill and empty a cup with water during bath-time.

Model symbolic play: ‘feed’ the stuffed animals and dolls with a spoon, put them to bed, ‘offer’ them a bottle. Put them in the stroller and take them for a walk in the house, play peek-a-boo with the dolls and let her have a turn, as well.

Through it all, talk to her. Listen to what she is ‘saying’ (babbling…) back. Comment about what you are doing. Comment a lot about what she is doing, her expressions, the sounds she’s making, how she might be feeling, how she makes you feel. Praise her for achievements (picking up a cheerio and managing to get it into one’s little mouth is no small feet of coordination!), let her know you are interested and that she is interesting, lovable, adorable, and fun.

Language development is closely related to and develops right alongside cognition, motor ability, sensory ability, listening, and understanding things about the world (e.g. you let go of the spoon with sweet potato on it, and it falls on the ground, making pretty splatter…! Mommy picks it up and wipes the floor, and when you let go of it, it falls again! How fun!…). Use your everyday interactions with your little one to comment on your world and hers, on your shared experiences. You don’t need commercial specific toys: let her play with wooden spoons, plastic containers (these can nestle, and you can also put things in them…and take things out…), an empty seltzer bottle with some pasta in it, pots and pans. A dish-towel makes a great ‘peek-a-boo’ cover, and a blanket for the teddy bear, too.

Babies and toddlers are utterly and preciously amazing. She’s already learning every day, and you have the opportunity to be her most important connection, attachment figure, playmate, and teacher–all in one. Enjoy her, and I wish the two of you oodles of fun!

clap