Review: Pre-Teens at Ease

In our pre-teen talk last Wednesday at Dots and Links, Joanne Jewell, the founder of Mindful Parenting, took us on an expedition as she transformed the uneasiness we felt towards the teen years into a smoother apprehension. Unlike the toddler years where parenting is a physical challenge, the teen age years are more cognitively challenging.

According to Mrs. Jewel, There are five main changes a pre-teen child goes through where parents feel secluded. However, we should not take things personal as it is all part of their growth.

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Peers:

It is very natural that at this stage pre-adolescents seek to spend more time with their peers. However, parents’ role is crucial here as they need to work on moving towards a ‘coaching style’. Funnily enough those pre-teens still yearn to have quality time with their parents even if they do not show it.  Here, parents are recommended to work on LISTENING more and question less. Being non-judgemental about their opinions and friends makes teenagers want to share more things with their parents. They long for a connection and that is what we need to acquire.

Seeking Advice:

When we as parents are up to date with the teen age world, we establish a better relationship with them.  It is advised that parents show an interest in their favourite TV programs, YouTube, Instagram accounts etcetera, and guide them by showing sympathy. In addition, having open discussions about bullying, gender roles, media, and peer pressure significantly decreases teenagers’ involvement in mishaps and trouble.

Beginning Puberty:

Major body changes occur at this stage in their lives. It is essential that we do not fear the fact of starting a conversation about puberty. For example, ask about what they already know and let them steer the conversation. It is essential to note the usage of the appropriate words for body parts. Making the conversations as casual as possible facilitates the talk. For example, Mrs. Jewell suggested having such a talk in the car where eye contact may be avoided and hence the awkwardness of the situation is minimalised.

Changes in the Brain:

In addition to all the physical changes in their bodies, the teenage brain goes through a colossal re-wiring process. It mainly changes in the way they remember, think, reason, focus, pay attention, and make decisions. For instance, teenagers might display some of those cognitive changes through the following behavioral traits: seeking rewards by trying new things, displaying varied and strong emotions, or pushing away and rebelling against the traditional ways of doing things.

Seek more Autonomy:

It is all a natural development and a necessary push to notice that they seek autonomy and parents should not feel rejected. It is only a move towards ‘inter-dependence’ and not isolation. It is not easy to find a balance between the parents and their children. However, keeping the channels of communication open helps a lot. For example, you could say, “Let me think about it, “instead of saying “No” directly. Showing empathy all the way makes your child want to listen to you.

Below is a link that focuses on the choice of words and its impact on our children:

www.facebook.com/brightside/videos/893780620750682/?hc_location=ufi

 
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When I asked the attending moms to describe in a few words what lesson they have learned or what message they would want to share with other parents, I got a few interesting replies which I would like to share with you.

“It was truly a very inspiring seminar. Thank you for organizing it. I think the biggest thing I would take away from this is the importance of listening and appreciating our children’s emotions. When children are especially expressive or can discuss things with you at a high (almost surprising) level, we tend to forget that their brains haven’t yet fully developed. This is something we surely need constant reminders of, and Joanne did just that. She put it back in perspective: that self-regulating their feelings and learning how to deal with whatever situation they face is a skill that our children learn, and it’s probably the most important tool we can provide them with to become successful and happy adults later in life; which is why we have to be conscious of our own behavior with them. So, very simply, listen, empathize, and give them the space to learn.”

“This workshop has changed my ocular towards parenting, I have learned that empathy and empowerment is the route to successful parenting. Punishment and control have short term effect and will not help us equip our kids with the relevant values that will help them later in life.”

“I have learned a few valuable skills and the most important is using empathy first. I usually charge, shoot, drill then empathize.”

“Empathy empathy empathy then transfer your family values.”

“I think I should do things with more ease when dealing with my kids and treat them like friends rather than being hard on them.”

“Would like to thank you for the great workshop, I learned so much from it. The information provided are very useful and I will implement them in my life: 
_ to create an open environment.
_ to listen 
_ to be patient 
_ to learn a new game with my kids.”

“The power of showing Empathy!  When dealing with an angry pre-teens there is no need to express our thoughts or opinion… empathizing could be the answer to a critical situation.  This way, we, as parents, think about what’s the best thing to say and it also allows our son or daughter to absorb what we will tell them later on.”

“The only thing you can control in parenting is your reaction towards your children.”

“It’s been a pleasure attending the seminar. I really liked it and it made me change in knowing how to deal more wisely and positively with my kids and everyone else whether friends or family members. It even gave me positive energy to keep on trying to find solutions to any barriers or problems I’m facing.
I wish everyone could share their experiences as well since we all keep on learning from each other.”

“First of all I would like to thank you for this great opportunity you have provided us with. Show sympathy with your kids before you judge them.” 

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We ended the seminar with a raffle draw and a group picture. In that regard, I would like to thank all the attending moms and their great participation in the workshop. I would also like to acknowledge Dots and Links for their hospitality, vouchers, and support, Mrs Jewell for the informative guidance she bestowed to us, with whom we will be working on organizing more workshops in the future. Chateau de Sable, and Layan Emirates Gifts for the vouchers and gifts.
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You have all participated in making the event a unique one with its success.

 
I would love to hear your stories, the challenges you face, and concerns that worry you in order to work on preparing for Mrs. Jewell’s workshop in the near future.

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Tweens and Teens

We all agree on the fact that children of this generation are growing up way too fast. The influence of social media along with the exposure to the global society are playing a major role in having our children subjected to neoteric occurrences at an early age.

Like the toddler years, we confront adolescence with fear wondering what went wrong with our parenting methods. To make things worse, we either blame ourselves for failing to be the perfect parents or accuse our teens of being impolite and rude.  We do not realise that those teenagers, like when they were toddlers, are aware of their increasing independence which is formulated in many ways. For example, they simply say NO because they can! We might not accept that now they understand their ability to refuse abiding by the rules. Moreover, their vocabulary and analysis have increasingly developed to argue back for hours.

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In particular, the ages 7 to 12 are the most crucial since we slowly start noticing our child’s transformation in attitude and the development of various opinions.  Amidst this chaos, this teenage phase is also confusing to the parents especially since very little advice is provided before the teen years kick in.

Being a mom of five I observe different personalities, characteristics, and attributes amongst them. Like any concerned mom, I am always keen on finding the best way to assist my treasures in becoming the contented and successful adults I wish them to be.

For the upcoming event, Mrs. Joanne Jewel, a Parenting and Educator Consultant, will be discussing with us the adolescent years. She will also clarify and share with us ways in preparation for those changes. The aim of this seminar is not only to accept that these changes will be taking place whether we are ready for it or not, but also to empower us as anxious parents to live with it and tackle it in a less challenging manner.

Therefore, I would like to know your worries about the teen phase:

What are some of your concerns, fears, or challenges that you have faced or might face?

How do you view the teen years?

What are your top three behaviour problems in pre-teens?

What is one thing you would want to learn more about?

It would be a great service to us as concerned parents if you share your apprehensions with me! Together we can support each other in leading our teens to a safe harbour. Try not to miss this exclusive session this coming Wednesday. For more details please check the flyer attached below.

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The Many Blessings of Grandparents

Encouraging children on building a strong relationship with their grandparents is essential, especially when they do not live close to them. Even though it would seem that building such a relationship as difficult, yet it is not impossible. There are many rewarding benefits for everyone when there is a stable and healthy relationship merging through the generations.

Like many expatriates who were given a memorable opportunity to live and enjoy the United Arab Emirates, we terribly miss the presence of ‘the grand parents’. However, we are always planning on being together at any occasion given. It is indeed special and relaxing when we go and stay at their place, but it is even more sensational when they come over and stay for a short period of time with us.  Their mere presence in our household, where they witness our daily routines, enjoy the children’s daily rituals, and form memories with them is blissful.
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When a solid understanding between the parents and the grandparents is set, the grand children will have a positive and a remarkable bonding with them.

Below is a list of how our dear grandparents – from both sides – assist and spoil us when they come over for a visit:

Family Bonding:

Grandparents act on the fact of having cousins, aunts, and uncles unite and build strong bonds with each other. A very long time ago, at my grandparents’ house, the love I have established towards my cousins was due to all those special meetings we experienced together. We were free to explore, learn, play, and unearth as both of them adored our mere presence. Their home was our heaven!
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Not wanting our children to miss on such moments, we work hard for them to get that same chance and those unique moments, which form an exceptional period in time.

Story telling:

Grandparents are a great source for story telling especially when they narrate tales about the parents’ childhood and mischiefs. It indirectly makes the children appreciate their parents and look up to their successes and learn from their failures. Moreover, it helps children develop their listening skills as they cuddle warmly next to them.
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Babysitting:

Personally, the only time I enjoy an outing with my husband is when our five are being watched over by their grandparents. It not only makes them feel young again, but it also gives us a sweet break from our monotonous routine.

Secret sharing:

I frequently find the boys murmuring with their grandmas; a sight I enjoy seeing a lot. They might even discuss issues they know I do not really approve of. However, when grandparents are positively involved with the grandchildren, healthy guidance is accepted by the latter.

Food cooking:

Who does not enjoy having the grannies cook on their behalf? I do not know what makes their food unique, but it is special, different, and filled with unconditional love. Again, it gives me a pleasurable break off my mother duties, and I love it!

I can still remember the odour and taste of the fresh warm glass of milk that my granny used to prepare for us along with grandpa as we dipped her homemade cookies in it. It was a joyful mouth-watering morning feast.
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Parenting tips:

I am the type of person who accepts advice and take an elderly opinion into consideration. Sometimes we need a soft reminder about our parenting style that can keep us sane while we raise our children. I know that they do not say it just to criticise, but because they have been in a very similar situation not very long time ago.

General Activities:

No matter how many activities and interesting outings I involve my kids in, the fun they have when they play with their grandparents is packed with special spices. I remember myself when my grandfather used to teach us science lessons which we understood and enjoyed more with him. When given the chance, my children prefer having their grandparents review a certain school work, or recite a certain lesson. Even studying with the grandparents has its own aroma!

Celebrate the child’s success:

We find grandparents congratulating our kiddos for any success or a milestone achieved.  They do it with love, pride, and enjoyment. Welcoming such an appreciation, my boys sometimes share their successes on Skype. So you find one of them playing the guitar in front of the screen, and the other asking me to take a photo of his latest Lego creation to send it by What’s App.

Spoiling:

Last but not least, grandparents are experts in spoiling not only grandchildren but also us the parents. They do it spontaneously as they know that now they have the chance to live the moment given with their dear ones. Trust me when we miss having our precious grandparents we find the spoiling part badly needed.
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For my part, I adore their presence with us. Their existence is a blessing, and I am grateful that we exhibit the chance to have our children enjoy them as much as we can. Grandparents could play a crucial role in creating a fulfilling childhood which our children would enjoy talking about years later, like we do now. Bless all the amazing grandparents out there.

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Passionate Readers

April 2 marks the International Children’s Book Day which also celebrates the birthday of the Danish storyteller Hans Christian Anderson.

Those who know me can easily distinguish the eternal passion I have for reading. Through books I explore worlds, I cross oceans, and I travel back and forth in time. In other words, I go to infinity and beyond.

Since I was a little girl my books have been my sanctuary where I would spend hours and many nights dwelling in their haven, adoring the smell of ink on the sheets, and discovering new eras through its lines.

Reading helps people in becoming more creative, knowledgeable,  peaceful, and it is thought to be the best and fastest way to develop young children into intelligent human beings. But how can we instil a love for reading which promotes a lifetime of learning and enjoyment, especially when not all children enjoy such an activity?

Below are a few suggestions I would definitely pursue in order to transmit my craving towards reading to my children:

Library:

Taking your child to the library, especially when there are certain reading activities performed helps him/her appreciate reading. By simply being surrounded by thousands of books, discovering the beauty of their covers and texts enhances the child’s curiosity to read more.

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Read together:

Spend some time reading stories together as it is one of the strongest tools to encourage a child’s reading skills. Moreover, it is a great memorable bonding time for you and your child. Encourage your child to choose the books she/he would like to read. Here it is essential to note that reading is not a chore but a choice. You can also increase their engagement with reading by asking them to share the information with you as why they liked the book, or what they learned from it etcetera.

Audio books and documentaries:

We can always make a good use of advanced technology. If, for example, your child is not keen on reading or has reading difficulties, audio books and documentary watching come in handy. It is true the child is not practicing his/her phonetic and decoding skills, but he/she is learning new vocabulary, information, and might even learn certain expressions.

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Beyond Books:

Reading is not only constricted to books as a child will gradually understand that she/he needs to read instructions to learn how to play a certain game board, a video game, or having a pen pal. Providing the child with magazines and comic cartoon series are also other fun ways to have him/her enjoy reading.

Encouraging Reading Charts:

Having a visible record to make the child see his/her progress develops a special connection with reading. It also gives him/her a sense of realization to his/her accomplishments.

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Check the link below to get those reading charts and learn more about their usage.  www.homeschoolcreations.net/2013/05/reading-challenge-charts

As a mom I can observe how each of my five has a different relationship with books. It would be a blessing if they all shared that passion towards reading. I am always behind them trying to work on aiding them in any way to foster the love of reading within. As Michael Rosen says, “If we don’t learn to love books we don’t read. And if we don’t read widely, we don’t think deeply.”  www.pearsonschoolsandfecolleges.co.uk