Breathing in Mindfulness
August 4, 2015 · Posted in K-5 Kids, Mental Health, Parenting · Permalink · Comments Off

MeeshTreesblogBy Akanksha Sadana-Raswant, Founder of Wholistic Tutoring 

Mindfulness is a powerful word that surrounds us daily, but what does it really mean?

Mindfulness is purposefully bringing awareness to the present moment, and as a result, paying attention to the full experience. Children and parents can learn to embrace their emotions and deepen their knowledge by spending five to ten minutes a day engaging in mindfulness.

In a city where we constantly live in a New York minute – running from place to place, sipping coffee in one hand while emailing with the other, multitasking within multitasking to create the most efficient day, we rarely take moments to focus on ourselves and notice how we are feeling in the present moment. Children pick up on this energy and become overstimulated and stressed. How do we help children stay calm and positive when the adults in their lives are frantic, overscheduled, and exhausted?

It begins with you, the parent. Much easier said than done, but give it a try!

Start with breathing…big deep breaths. It is hard to imagine, but sometimes we forget to breathe properly within our chaotic-filled days.

While you breathe, try to focus solely on your breath. Notice the movement your breath makes within your body. Is your breath deep or shallow today? Is your heart rate slowing down as you breathe? Be kind to yourself, because paying attention to your breath is difficult! Be patient with yourself, because this process takes time. Try to write down the effects this exercise has on you, or make a mental note on the “before and after” that occurs within your mind and body.

For children, the practice of mindfulness starts with breathing too. Have your child sit on a chair or lie down comfortably with their eyes open or closed. Ask them to place their hand on their heart or stomach while they breathe. Touching a body part is a gentle reminder to keep their attention on the flow of their breath. Reassure them that it is natural for their minds to wander, and the intention of this exercise is to catch themselves when their mind is drifting. The goal is to bring the focus back on the movement of their breath.

Breathing sends a signal to our body to calmly and gently slow down. With this activity, we start to pay more attention to ourselves, becoming more conscious of our body and giving more opportunities to notice the emotions that manifest themselves physically. This is the first step to achieving increased self-awareness and purposefully being present.

Happy Breathing!

 

Akanksha Sadana-Raswant is the Founder of Wholistic Tutoring, a tutoring practice that provides academic tutoring with the option to engage in mindfulness for children in grades Kindergarten through Seventh. For more information, please visit www.wholistictutoring.com

 

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When Dad’s Play With Kids They help Their Marriage
June 5, 2015 · Posted in Fatherhood, K-5 Kids, Parenting, Work/Family Balance · Permalink · Comments Off
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A study in the Developmental Psychology Journal reports on the correlation between parenting responsibilities and spousal relationships. The study, conducted by Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, found that the more play time spent between father and child, the more encouraging and collaborative the parenting relationship would be.
Greater father involvement in play was associated with an increase in supportive and a decrease in undermining coparenting behavior over time. In contrast, greater father involvement in caregiving was associated with a decrease in supportive and an increase in undermining co-parenting behavior.
Children greatly benefit when both parents have a role in the custodial duties as well as play time. Here is one way to reduce the tension between shared tasks like meal-time, bathing and getting ready for school. Recognize your inevitable differences and try not to be so critical and controlling of one another. It will be incredibly helpful for the relationship to accept that everyone has their own way of doing things. And for dad’s – watch and learn from the person who has been, for the most part, in charge of caregiving responsibilities. Much benefit will come from seeing what works for your spouse. Along the way, you will adapt your own unique style of parenting that can compliment your wife’s.
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The Benefits of Hiring a Male Nanny
May 21, 2015 · Posted in Caregivers, K-5 Kids, Parenting, Preschoolers · Permalink · Comments Off

John_Brandon_Headshot-7113891182f681d600af5db29f94700e

John Brandon is known internationally for founding his first company, NYC Mannies. He has been interviewed on CNN International, Good Morning America, ITV (UK), as well as other major media outlets around the world. Having worked for years as a manny, John brings a unique perspective and passion to the childcare industry. He is a published writer on the subject of caregiving and mentorship. Having grown up without a father, John understands the need for kids to have positive role models in their lives. Visit www.MyManny.com for more information.

 

As the owner of MyManny, an agency for hiring male caregivers, I am often asked why people should hire mannies. I can only answer from personal experience. When I was 14 my father died. I needed older male role models to play sports with me, encourage me, help me with schoolwork, and mentor me as I faced the challenges of growing up.

In 2013, I started working as a manny in New York. I had years of experience working with children as a camp counselor, high school teacher, and babysitter. I wanted to be a “super-nanny” –to teach, educate, mentor, and tutor. My goal was to make a difference in the lives of the kids I was working with. This led me to found MyManny, to provide this kind of service to many New York City families.

Mannies aren’t just great for kids without dads. Most of the parents I work with are married couples that work full-time and need extra childcare support. Mannies are educated and well rounded. They a workforce of young, college-educated men who also tend to be active and athletic. They can tutor in various subjects without charging tutoring rates as well as teach athletics without having to hire a private coach.

Growing up in New York can be challenging. There is so much external stimulation that kids in New York have to navigate. My goal, for myself, and the mannies who work at MyManny, is to form deep one-on-one relationships, help children focus, give them physical outlets and help guide them as they grow. As men, we offer a different and important sense of protection and help to keep children safe.

Being a manny is more than just a job. It’s a chance to make a positive impact on a growing child, and to be a support for the entire family.

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How to Help Your Child Understand Mixed Feelings
April 9, 2015 · Posted in K-5 Kids, Parenting, Preschoolers, Teens, Toddlerhood · Permalink · Comments Off

Our children’s emotional inner lives are complicated. Even by the beginning of the second year you can see ambivalence emerging. “Pick me up, put me down”, all at the same time. As they grow and develop, blends of feelings, and even opposite feelings can — and do exist at the same time. This can be confusing. Imagine your preschooler wanting to go to a friend’s party and also being scared. Or your school-age child wanting to give up on learning something hard and feeling angry about not getting it easily. How about your teenager wanting to have sex with her boyfriend and worrying about how it will impact the relationship. These conflicts are the stuff of life.

As a parent you can help them by pointing out, “A part of you wants to go, and a part of you is scared.” “A part of you feels like giving up and a part of you is frustrated because this is so hard to learn.” Instead of seeing only one overriding sentiment and overreacting to it, it helps parents to recognize that our child is not, “a scaredy cat”, or a “quitter”, those are just parts of them.

As you teach your child about mixed feelings, they start to find center and are more able to find what they most want to do. “I can hear you have mixed feelings about having sex and I have faith that as you make room for all those feeelings, you will make the best decision for yourself.”  Giving a voice to these different aspects of your children calms them down as they feel known and understood.

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Book Writing with Kids
March 26, 2015 · Posted in Education, K-5 Kids, Parenting, Preschoolers · Permalink · Comments Off

Parents say “Use your words!” to help children turn their raw emotion into understandable language. Here is another way to transform feelings, help children process events and support your child’s love of language, art and books. Make books yourselves, together. Nothing high tech – sheets of computer paper, a stapler and markers are all you need. Turn your life events- moving, saying goodbye, a new baby, fighting with friends, learning to control anger, into a narrative.

Here’s an example. You are moving and a bit worried about how your child will handle it. You want to be able to prepare and discuss, but kids need indirect ways of talking about big things. So, tell your four year old you two are going to write a book about moving. Show her how to make a book by stapling papers together and off you go!

“What should the cover be like? We need a name for our book and a picture. What should be call it?”

“James is moving.”

“Awesome title! I’ll write that and then you draw a picture now for the cover of our book…Is that our building?”

“That’s our house and I want to stay here!?”

“I know, let’s start the book with that. I will write the words and you can draw and write your words. So, page one. James lives at 332 West 24th Street. He has lived there since the day he came home from the hospital. He doesn’t want to move and leave his house! He says, “I want to stay here.”

It is the rare kid who won’t be hooked by the plot line here! You continue your book about moving with your story and blend in the language your child uses in the prose. You translate a life event into a story, and thereby give a way to process feelings for your children.

Let’s cut to the last page.

“So James and his mommy, daddy and Maggie the dog move will move to their new house at 112 West 89 th Street. They will always remember and miss their first house. The End.”

Your child now can look at this book of his own creation, his own words, his designs. He is in charge of his own story, which we all know, helps.

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Holidays: Sights, Smells and Tastes
December 23, 2014 · Posted in K-5 Kids, Parenting, Preschoolers · Permalink · Comments Off

images-1The recession has been good for the holidays. This is the second year that the ethos of the holidays consists of getting less, spending less and really tuning into what the deeper messages about the seasons mean. Most parents who toned down the consumer frenzy last year were much more content with their holiday celebrations. Less stories about over stimulated kids ripping through mountains of presents and then demanding more. Less stress in preparing for the holidays.

What people remember most about their holidays as kids are the lights, whether Christmas or Chanukah, the scents of pine or baking or potatoes frying and the wonderful assortment of tastes. Who really remebers what year you got your bike, or a doll, or board games or gameboy? It is wrapping paper and ribbons and rituals we remember. So, when planning your holidays focus on the senses and not on the gifts. Pass on traditions or invent new ones. Those are the memories in the making.

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Don’t Overdo the Prep for Going Back To School
August 13, 2014 · Posted in Education, K-5 Kids, Parenting, Preschoolers, Pressure on Children · Permalink · Comments Off

Finding balance between acknowledging that a new grade begins in a months’ time and reveling in summer fun is hard to strike. Here are some ideas about how to do it:

  • Don’t talk about school everyday. Let your child be in the present, without the new school year hanging over their head.
  • Do answer any questions that come up, like, “Will so and so be in my class?” or “Will you stay with me at school”, honestly and simply. No long monologues.
  • Do go and walk by school the week before class begins. Point out landmarks, like the pet store, the deli etc. so you can look for them on the walk to school the first day.
  • Do get a little back pack or lunch box to bring on the first day.
  • Do expect stomach aches, difficulty falling asleep or grumpiness around the first days of school.
  • Do tell stories about your first days of school.
  • Don’t talk about the beginning of school with your peers and assume the kids can’t hear.
  • Do remember that a parent taking their child to school is one of the most important jobs. Try to adjust work schedules so one parent can do drop off at least a few days a week.
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Summer Reading List
August 6, 2014 · Posted in Education, K-5 Kids, Teens · Permalink · Comments (2)

As the semester came to an end in college, I remember excitedly making my summer reading list. Nothing I had to read, just things I wanted to read. Creating the list was a signal that summertime was near, with less responsibility and a little more breathing room. I loved making those lists with my kids and doing the ritual trip to Barnes and Noble to pick out a stack for each of them. They ranged from Caldecott winners to The Babysitter’s Club.

Making this a ritual supports the idea that reading is fun and valuable even when not in school. In the age of Amazon, the actual bookstore experience is a special one, you stumble onto things you never even thought about, you look carefully at book jackets and have the solid feeling of a book in hand. This is a great summer ritual for you and your children.

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Talking To Your Kids About Sex in Spoonfuls
July 27, 2014 · Posted in Communication, K-5 Kids, Parenting, Preschoolers · Permalink · Comments Off

If you feel like everything happens to kids earlier now, you are right! Puberty now begins for girls as early as nine years old, and boys as early as 11. To ensure that kids are not more horrified than they need to be, parents should start talking about the changes their bodies will undergo much before they start to happen. One spoonful at a time. When the topic comes up, which it will given the world we live, you can be ready to take it just as far as your child wants.

Here is where our over-sexualized culture can come in handy. It’s pretty hard to get past kindergarten without being exposed to grown up bodies and sexual energy. So when the topic comes up, you can steer it to their growing bodies.

“Look at her boobies” your six year old daughter says while pointing to a billboard. “Yes, those are big boobies, boobies usually start growing in 4th or 5th grade.” Stop.

“Mom, those two are sexing!” your eight year old son exclaims in response to a smoochy kiss in a movie . “Those two were kissing in the movie. Not “sexing”. Stop.

If we stop after a statement like that, you get to take the temperature of the discussion. Does your son or daughter squirm and slip away, or do they have another question or comment. If you child has more interest give another piece of information and then wait.

“When will I get my boobies?”

“Well, I was about 13 when mine started growing, but it happens a little sooner now. I’m not sure exactly when yours will grow but we will know when they are starting because you will get little bumps under your skin called breast buds–that’s the sign that they are starting to grow.”

 

“Josh told me sexing is when a penis plants a seed in a lady.” He replies giggling and jumping around.

“Well Josh has the right idea, want me to explain it more?”

“Penis plant! Penis plant!..”, he chants and marches around the living room.

“Ok, buddy, we won’t do that now, but another time we can talk about it.”

These little spoonfuls of conversation show your openness, aren’t overwhelming and pave the way for more and more communication about a necessary and important topic.

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“Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire”: Punishment and Children’s Honesty
December 1, 2011 · Posted in Anger, Communication, Discipline, K-5 Kids, Parenting, Preschoolers · Permalink · Comments Off

A recent article in Child-Psych gives important data about children and discipline and lying. In a nutshell, the harsher the punishments, the more kids lie. Yet another piece of date to support the goal of  approaching punishment from a calm, centered place instead of reacting in anger.

A study conducted by Talwar and Lee looks at two separate West African schools, one with punitive disciplinary practices, the other non-punitive. Children at both schools participated in an experiment to test resistance to temptation and honesty or lying about their success or failure to hold themselves back. While almost all children  failed the resistance portion of the program, the response afterwards varied greatly. Only half of the children at the non-punitive school lied about their actions, compared to the punitive school where nearly all of the children lied. Additionally, the children at the school with harsher punishments made up more elaborate lies as compared to the other.

Harsh and severe punishments will actually increase the likelihood of a child developing a habit of lying. Consequences to bad behavior is crucial, but it is also just as important to keep a level head when communicating it to your kids.

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