There’s a Monster Under My Bed!

Monsters, thunderstorms, darkness and strangers often cause anxiety and fear in young children. They can make children uncomfortable, apprehensive, feel unsafe and vulnerable.  Fear is a basic human emotion Monster under bedprogrammed into a human’s nervous system; and all of us have experienced the physiological changes that cause “Fight or Flight”.

Experiencing fear can be helpful; it can be a signal to be careful, protect us from danger, and helps keep us safe.  Some fears may be part of typical child development.  For example: babies often fear strangers, toddlers fear separation from parents, and 4-6 year olds often fear monsters and the dark.  Addressing fear and anxiety takes skills.  Children can be taught ways to handle fears and other unsettling experiences and challenges in life.

Here are a few strategies to help young children deal with anxiety and fear:

  • Give hugs, love and reassurance. A child will feel loved, comforted and accepted.
  • Be sympathetic and take time to talk, listen and provide calm support.
  • Put worry into words. Talk about the fear and help the child determine a coping strategy that would diminish it. For example; if the child fears monsters under the bed; assist the child in making a clean sweep of a bedroom and closet before bedtime; provide a night light, or add a dream catcher.
  • Monitor and limit media time. There is just too much going on in the world that can add to anxiety!
  • Confront the fear or activity causing anxiety and prepare the child before it occurs. It can’t be overcome if it is avoided!
  • Teach relaxation strategies and fear reducing statements like; “I can do this!” or “I can handle it!”
  • Read books! Children often identify with the characters who are going through the same situation.
  • Use the child’s imagination. Encourage the child to create an image; a super hero who can combat the fear.

Fear and anxiety interferes with learning, sleeping and life!  Empowering children with skills and strategies to conquer fear and anxiety will lead to happy, healthy and productive lives.

For more information about this topic, contact the Mid-Hudson Early Childhood Direction Center at 845-565-1162 extension 209.

Raising a Child Destined for Success

Leerlo en espanol

Before a child can learn to be successful, she/he must learn how to fail! Many parents spend a great deal of energy protecting our children from failure. We “pitch in” to get assignments completed, we interrupt situations to demonstrate the correct way to do something, we tell children what to do instead of encouraging and engaging children to think and problem solve. In our effort to help a child through hardship or demands we are actually diminishing a child’s ability to foster inner strength and become self-sufficient! We must change our methods to promote resiliency, independence and success.

Tips for Raising a Successful Child

Role model behavior you want your child to learn. When faced with a problem; stay in control, talk about it and verbalize as many possible solutions you can think of. Children will imitate what they see!

Instill trust and understanding and empathy. Help children to know they are special and appreciated even when they make mistakes!

Mistakes are expected and are opportunities to learn. Use positive guidance to support your child and promote self-worth. Reinforce realistic expectations and goals respectfully. If you make a mistake; remember to apologize or ask for forgiveness!

Value a child’s effort over talent. Comment on the quality, time and commitment it took to complete a project or earn a good grade. A positive comment like: “I know how hard you worked to finish that!” reinforces perseverance and builds self-esteem.

Hold high expectations for yourself and your child. Your child will become what you think she/he will be!

Teach social skills and empathy. Help children learn to control emotions, accept consequences and consider the perspective of other. These are important skills to model and teach!

Foster Social Conscience – Involve children (and yourself) in opportunities to think about others and make a positive difference in the world. Participate in charitable walks, food drives, and neighborhood clean-ups.

Teach children how to solve problems and make decisions. Help children identify the problem, consider possible solutions, develop a plan of action, and review outcomes. This process will reduce frustration and anxiety!

Children face a great deal of pressure growing up in society today. Help your child to focus on strengths, talents and skills that will allow them to be resilient, independent and successful.

To learn more, contact the Mid-Hudson Early Childhood Direction Center at 845-565-1162 ext. 209

School Readiness-It is more than Academics!

How to Prepare Your Child for School

Leerlo en espanolIs your child nearing the end of preschool years? Are you beginning to think about kindergarten school readiness? It is great that a child knows the alphabet, recognizes numbers up to 20 and may even read a little bit, but these skills are of secondary importance in the eyes of many kindergarten teachers. There are many other competencies that are essential for school success including the ability to: separate from parents, think critically, self-regulate, demonstrate a positive self-esteem and exhibit positive social emotional skills.

learning to read

The academic foundation can easily be provided at home and through early education experiences. The other competencies must be intentionally taught by parents, educators and child care providers! The best strategy parents can use to develop these skills is to set aside time to interact with a child. A parent who makes time to talk is certainly building solid oral-language skills but also sending a clear message that the child is important; a great boost to self-esteem! A parent who engages children in daily activities can build academic skills as well as; the ability to listen, to be independent, to work well with others, manage strong emotions, solve problems, and create a love for learning. Therefore; whenever possible, include your child in regular household tasks like cooking, laundry, shopping, setting a table, working in the garden and exploring the community. Positive relationships, experiences and interactions with others are the true foundations of school readiness and success!


Negative Words

How many times do you use the word “Don’t”?

Leerlo en espanolChildren’s behavior can be challenging!  Parents must remember that children do not have all the skills and strategies they need to handle demands and conflicts.  Many times parents find themselves telling children what NOT to do instead of what to do. Teaching children how to communicate his/her needs is an important part of parenting.

Tips to Help Children Do the Right Thing

  1. Rephrase your language and avoid negative words like don’t and stop. Simply tell the child what to do instead by using language that focuses on the behavior you want to see. For example, say to the child: “use walking feet” or “stay with me” instead of “don’t run”. Ask your child to “use an inside voice” or “talk so I can understand you” instead of “stop whining” or “don’t yell”.
  2. Give clear and simple directions. State the expectation.
  3. Prepare a child for a transition. Give notice when a child must stop one activity and move to the next.  For example say: “Playtime is almost over then we are going to have dinner together”. Teach the child that a timer or music will be a signal to change an activity and use this method consistently.
  4. Catch the child being good and praise the positive behavior you observe frequently. Everyone appreciates encouragement.
  5. Teach a child to verbally identify the emotion he/she is feeling and the strategies to help deal with the emotion. A child needs to know that asking for help, waiting a short time, trading, taking turns, and sharing can be solutions to a problem.
  6. Be aware of your Be sure to model and demonstrate behaviors you want your children to learn. Look at yourself in the mirror when you are disciplining your child. Check to see if your face and tone of voice are teaching and demonstrating acceptable and appropriate behavior!

Do you want to learn more? Contact the Mid-Hudson Early Childhood Direction Center at 845-565-1162 extension 209.

Picky Eaters

Leerlo en espanolYou are not a terrible parent if you can’t figure out a way for your child to eat as healthy as your friend’s children do.  (Steve Wiens from his blog The Actual Pastor)

Ellyn Satter, MS RD LCSW BCD, a researcher and practitioner in the field of pediatric feeding practices, explains that both parents and children have their own “jobs” to do when it comes to eating. Parents are responsible for providing healthy foods for meals and snacks and children are responsible for what and how much they eat.

There are a few things parents should avoid when trying to encourage a child to learn healthy eating behavior:  do not force a child to eat and do not nag or make a deal about eating.

When a parent forces a child to eat the child often eats less. Forcing a child to eat also teaches a child to rely on others to tell them how much to eat and what they are feeling. This does not lead to healthy eating habits or good self-esteem. In fact, some research has shown that forcing children to eat actually can make picky eating behavior worse (Sanders, Patel, Le Grice, & Shepherd, 1993).

Nagging or making deals with your child don’t work in the long run either. Children who learn to make deals about eating learn to make deals and ask for rewards for doing other things!

Tips for Parents to Encourage Healthy Eating Habits

  • Track your child’s food sensitivities and keep them in mind when preparing meals.
  • Avoid preparing special meals for your child but make sure that there is something he likes on the plate at each meal.
  • Provide toddler size portions of the food the family is eating. Over time, these choices will become familiar.
  • Involve your child in preparing food. Handling, smelling, and touching the food helps your child get comfortable with the idea of eating it.
  • Offer new kinds of foods frequently. Children may need to be offered a new food as many as 10-15 times before they will eat it.
  • Offer safe “finger foods” that your child can feed herself and have healthy foods like raisins, grapes and cheerios available if s/he gets hungry.

Do you want to learn more? Contact the Mid-Hudson Early Childhood Direction Center at 845-565-1162 extension 209.


“The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!…Or is it the Most Stressful Time of the Year for Most?”

The holiday season is here and it brings a recipe for stress and sensory overload; especially for children with special needs! The shopping, decorating, lights, noise, cooking, visiting, crowds and changes in routines can sabotage even the best family plans and expectations!

Tips to Reduce Anxiety, Manage Stress and Build Self-esteem and Help Make the Season “Merry and Bright”

  1. Keep routines and schedules. Children do better when they know what to expect, have plenty of sleep and eat nutritious snacks and meals; and so will you!
  2. Slow down and give everyone a little extra time. No one does well under stress!
  3. Leave children at home during shopping outings! You will accomplish much more, your children will be happier.
  4. Limit children’s time with electronics and provide opportunities to play outside, exercise and participate in relaxing family outings.
  5. Set reasonable and realistic expectations ahead of time for gifts and activities. It reduces anxiety, disappointment and stress.
  6. Allow children to participate in decorating and accept the participation as perfect and wonderful!
  7. Be flexible and remember that a few special moments can be remembered for a lifetime.
  8. Do not worry about things you can’t control; especially the opinions and demands of others!
  9. Focus on the family and not the bling; you will be happier for it!
  10. Most importantly; take good care of yourself!

Follow these tips and you and your family will have the chance to enjoy the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”!

Do you want to learn more? Contact the Mid-Hudson Early Childhood Direction Center at 845-565-1162 extension 209.

Talking is Teaching

Leerlo en espanolChildren’s language & literacy skills are closely related to academic success.  If all parents and caregivers realized how much they can benefit children’s lives by talking, reading and singing to them every day, they would take advantage of every opportunity!  The more words a young child hears, the better prepared s/he will be to learn.

Interacting with children supports early learning and development, and strengthens the parent-child bond. Children who are securely attached to adults show better physical and mental health, including more positive emotions, and have an easier time forming relationships with adults and peers.

daughter and mother reading

Talking is teaching. During the first year of life, a baby’s language will develop faster than any other time. To make the most of this time, talk to your child about anything and everything. When you talk to your child-even if s/he can’t use words yet—they are learning and you are helping them become both smarter and happier.

Tips for Parents to Encourage Language Development

  • Make routines out of singing during everyday activities like bathing, eating and dressing.
  • Engage children in selecting favorite books and participate actively in story time
  • Show children the many ways reading and writing can be used in daily activities.
  • Respond to children-expand their ideas & language.
  • Provide experiences that expand vocabulary through walks and field trips.
  • Include new words in conversation.
  • Name objects & provide explanation.
  • Engage children in writing notes and creating shopping lists.
  • Limit TV and the use of technology.

Do you want to learn more? Contact the Mid-Hudson Early Childhood Direction Center at 845-565-1162 extension 209.

Raising a Smart and Happy Child

leerlo en espanolModern technology has become an important part of life. Many young children know how to use an iPad, mobile device, and computer better than some adults! Parents find the child’s interest in technology useful and may be allowing access to these devices more than is developmentally appropriate.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics state infants aged 0-2 years should not have any exposure to technology, 3-5 years be restricted to one hour per day, and 6-18 years restricted to 2 hours per day. You may wonder; why is there concern over the exposure to technology?

girl at computer

Between 0 and 2 years, infant’s brains triple in size and continue in a state of rapid development to 21 years of age. Early brain development is determined by environmental stimulation (or the lack of stimulation) where interconnections of neurons are made. These interconnections determine the speed and depth of learning. Stimulation that promotes learning and lays the foundation for successful development comes from human connections, touch, movement and nature. The use and attachment to technology is sedentary and promotes isolation.

To raise a smart and happy child substitute technology time with play time that provides interaction and engagement.

Tips for Raising a Smart and Happy Child

  • Take time to talk and surround the child with language. It promotes attachment, builds self-esteem, increase language skills and is crucial to development.
  • Read to your child. Reading remains the key to learning.
  • Play with your child. Play is essential for achieving developmental milestones, emotional wellness, builds resilience and helps manage stress.
  • Teach simple games. A child develops memory and focused attention. Games also teach important social skills like taking turns, waiting and sharing as she/he interacts with others.
  • Go outside and move. Nature encourages exploration, stimulation, curiosity and problem solving. Skill necessary to learning and development.

Do you want to learn more? Contact the Mid-Hudson Early Childhood Direction Center at 845-565-1162 extension 209.


Children’s Negative Behaviors

leerlo en espanolMany parents struggle with children’s negative behaviors. With the right skills and support, you don’t have to struggle anymore.

Young children learn how to behave by testing boundaries. An important goal for parents is to help children learn to identify appropriate behavior and self –control. This is not an easy task and takes commitment and fortitude!

Teaching positive behavior begins with setting limits and establishing consistent rules that are reinforced consistently. Appropriate behavior is also supported when parents establish routines and schedules. This will include regular hours for meals, naps, indoor and outdoor activities, bathing and bed time.

Teaching self-control is helping children to learn to control his/her actions. It begins with learning to make good choices. Often children become upset when their needs or wishes are not met immediately. Parents can teach children strategies to deal with this frustration. Guiding young children to use words to voice the frustration is a start; for example, teach the child to say, “I am mad! I want to have the _____ .” A parent can then guide the behavior by offering good choices. For example; help the child ask for the object, offer to trade, wait for a turn, or find something else to do while waiting. The support and guidance you provide the child will lead to more positive behavior and increased self-control.

To learn more about teaching positive behavior to young children; register for our workshop, “Who’s in Charge?” Call the Mid-Hudson Early Childhood Direction center for more information 845-565-1162 extension 240.

Do you want to learn more? Contact the Mid-Hudson Early Childhood Direction Center at 845-565-1162 extension 209.



Urge Your Senators to Support Passage of S. 2680, The Mental Health Reform Act of 2016

Please contact your Senators and urge them to support the passage of S.2680, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016, with no changes.

It is important that mental health legislation be focused on the right goals and solutions.  The Senate bill is carefully tailored to do that. Urge the Senate to bring the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 to a vote. Time is running out.

You have a choice to email (DO NOT COPY and PASTE! US Senate email will not accept your comment), call or both (if you have the time)…

Gillibrand, Kirsten E. – (202) 224-4451
Schumer, Charles E. – (202) 224-6542

If you email:
ask the Senate leadership to bring up S. 2680, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016, for immediate consideration, and Senators should vote “yes” on this important bill with no changes.

If you call you can use these talking points:

•        The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee voted unanimously to pass S. 2680 in April. This bipartisan bill:
o        Promotes expansion of community-based services, including crisis services to help avoid incarceration and institutionalization
o        Promotes expansion of access to employment and housing services, as well as mental health services provided to students in school, and coordination of these services
o        Promotes education for people with psychiatric disabilities, their families, and service providers concerning what types of disclosures are permitted under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rather than eliminating critical privacy protections
o        Promotes improvement of college campuses’ responses to students with psychiatric disabilities
o        Strengthens oversight of mental health parity.
•        Senators should vote to pass S.2860 as is, without any changes.  The Senate should not entertain the types of controversial amendments that have weakened and bogged down other mental health bills-such as provisions to diminish privacy protections and expand involuntary outpatient commitment.

It is important that mental health legislation be focused on the right goals and solutions.  The Senate bill is carefully tailored to do that. Urge the Senate to bring the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 to a vote.