• Awareness in the New Year

    As adults, we begin a new year with conscious goals in mind for our personal development. Whether it’s finishing that last DIY project, learning a new language or changing our diet, we outline expectations for a prosperous year. As we get older, our development plateaus and we see less change over shorter periods of time. Children, on the other hand, are in a constant state of emotional and physical development for the first five years of their life. Social and emotional milestones are also harder to pinpoint than signs of physical development. As we enter this New Year, what goals will you set to keep up with your child’s rapidly developing sense of self?

    Erik Erikson, developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst, argued that the emotional and social development of a human being takes place in eight phases, which he referred to as “the eight stages of man”. The first four stages relate to early childhood emotional and social development: hope, will, purpose and competence.

    First Stage: Hope
    From birth to age two, a baby or toddler that is nurtured and loved will develop trust, security and a basic optimism. Neglect or poor handling could render a child insecure and mistrustful.

    Second Stage: Will
    Erikson argued that personal development occurs as people reach “psychological crisis” and are prompted into the next stage of development. A well-adjusted child emerges from this stage with confidence, newfound control and a sense of pride in their accomplishments. The early parts of this stage are characterized by Erikson’s “psychological crisis” including tantrums, stubbornness and negativism (what is referred to as the “terrible twos”).

    Third Stage: Purpose
    At this critical stage of development, which Erikson refers to as the “play age,” a child is learning to imagine, cooperate with others, to take the lead and to follow. Children that have a strong dependency on adults are restricted both in the development of proper play skills and creativity.

    Fourth Stage: Competence
    The fourth stage is handled during what Erikson calls the “school age”, from 5 to twelve years old. Skills acquired during this period are more complex, such as relating with peers according to rules, mastering subjects at school and progressing from “free play” to recreational activities that may be elaborately structured by rules and may demand formal teamwork.

    At the Friends Center for Children, our curriculum is focused on recognizing and nurturing each child’s development needs. In the spirit of the New Year, we encourage parents to visualize how their child’s surroundings, peers and teachers are impacting their social and emotional development. Providing children a safe place to explore these new aspects of their behavior will allow them to develop strong emotional and social skills from a young age.

    To learn more about “The Eight Stages of Man” and Erik Erikson, visit:
    http://www.simplypsychology.org/Erik-Erikson.html

    To learn more about social and emotional development, visit this helpful resource:
    http://www.pbs.org/wholechild/abc/social.html

     

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  • The Day Begins with Bedtime

    From the moment they wake up in the morning until they drift off to sleep, we work hard to provide our children with the sustenance they need to flourish. We do our best to ensure that they have healthy food, quality education and are engaged in wholesome activities. We work hard during the day to encourage and foster their development. Emerging research suggests that equally careful attention should be paid to the post meridian, that bed time and sleep duration sets the foundation for physical, cognitive and behavioral development.

    A study featured on NPR’s “Morning Edition” identified this relationship between behavior and bedtime. The survey included 10,000 children first studied at age 3, then at age 5 and then at 7. “Children with late bedtimes and non-regular bedtimes were more likely to have behavioral difficulties,” said Researcher Yvonne Kelly, University College, London.

    Common behavioral difficulties included hyperactivity, acting out and being emotionally withdrawn. Kelly equates an irregular sleep schedule to the sensation of jet-lag. “If you change their bedtimes, say 7 o’clock one night, 9 o’clock the next, 8 o’clock the next, 10 o’clock the next, if we do too much of that switching, we end up inducing this kind of jet-lag effect, which makes it really, really difficult to regulate behavior.”

    Establishing a regulatory sleep pattern in our young children is a critical factor not only in ensuring that they will have enough energy for the day, but that over time any deficiency associated with sleep can affect behavior and cognition. In a similar study conducted by Dr. Ronald Dahl, his reports concluded that many toddlers and elementary school children respond to insufficient sleep with irritability, crankiness, low frustration tolerance and short attention span.

    “Many would argue that the current evidence for the fundamental role of sleep in the physical, emotional, and behavioral health of children is already sufficient to advocate for clinical and social policy changes and large-scale educational programs focusing on the value of sleep,” says Dr. Dahl. Dahl’s study asserts that short sleep duration in the first 3 years of life was associated with hyperactivity/impulsivity and lower cognitive performance on neurodevelopmental tests administered at the age of six.

    At the Friends Center for Children we value quiet time just as much as active play. Careful attention is paid to schedule nap times based on the age and needs of the student. Although bedtime must be established at home by parents and guardians, we know that providing a quiet time to refresh and recharge throughout the day will help a child achieve their full learning potential.

    Listen to “Why a Regular Bedtime is Important for Children” from NPR’s Morning Edition, click the link below:
    http://www.npr.org/2013/12/16/251462015/why-a-regular-bedtime-is-important-for-children

    To read Dr. Ronald E. Dahl, MD’s study, “Sleep and the Developing Brain”, click the link below:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1978403/

     

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