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٧ وسائل لإشراك أطفالكم في شهر رمضان المبارك

 مع إقتراب حلول شهر رمضان،  يسعتد معظمكم الآن للإحتفال بالشهر الكريم. ومن اهم الإستعدادات ان يكون لديكم قائمة أعمال لأطفالكم لكي يشتركوا معكم في إحتفاليات وروحانيات هذا الشهر، إشراكهم فيما نقوم بعمله قد يعني أشياء كثيره، لكني هذا المقال أعني بأن يشتركوا في الإحتفالات والعادات الخاصة بهذا الشهر عن طيب خاطر (بمزاجهم يعني) وأن يشعروا أنهم جزء منها

.المشاركة تعني أيضاً إبداع وعمل ومساعده، وقد تساعد في سياقها على تعلمهم بعض المعلومات عن شهر رمضان الكريم

1.      قم بعمل نتيجه رمضان الخاصة بكم ودع الأطفال تتطلع لمفاجآت يوميه. إملأ الجيوب الخاصة بالنتيجه ليس فقط بهدايا صغيره أوستيكرز أو ميداليات مفاتيح رمضان، ولكني شخصيا أفضل أن يكون في كل جيب ورقة بها رسالة صغيره مكتوبة لطفلك. أعتقد أنها فكرة رائع بأن نقوم بتشجيع الأطفال على لقيام بعمل طيب وكريم كل يوم ، وهذا مايمكن ان نستغل به الرسالة اليومية الصغيرة. ولمن هم أكبر سناً، من الممكن أن نكتب قصة قصيرة عن أحد من الرسل وإستعمالها كقصة ماقبل النوم يومياً خلال الشهر. 

يمكنكم طلب نتيجة رمضان المخصصة بكم من خلال صفحة أنستجرام @mishabymaitabbassi819A611F-E5BD-4B2A-A7E3-428EAFD0349B

2.  قم بعمل صندوق للصدقات والأعمال الخيرية  وإشرح أهمية العطاء للغير وخصوصا من هم أقل حظاً. إسألهم في أول الشهر الفضيل “من تودوا مساعدته؟” قد يكون شخص يعرفونه كالسائق أو البواب مثلا، وممكن تخييرهم بالقيام بعمل طيب عامة كشراء لعب لأطفال الشوارع. أيا كان هذا العمل الخير، فقط تأكد ان يكون من إختيارهم تماما وأن يقوموا بتنفيذه بأنفسهم في نهاية الشهر. وإني أرجح بشده بأن يقوم الأطفال بالتبرع بالأشياء المادية (ملابس ، لعب، كتب) والتي يرون أنها قد تكون مفيده لغيرهم بدلاَ من الأموال. ولكن هذا إختيار شخصي طبعا.

sadaqa boxsadaqa jar

3.  تطلعوا للقمر سوياً، وتحدثوا عن مراحله  المختلفة وعن علاقة هذا بإستقبال شهر رمضان الكريم.phases of moon picture

4. قوموا بعمل بسكوت وبانكيك على شكل هلال أو نجوم. يمكنكم شراء قطاعات البسكوت من على صفحة أنستجرامbentomommys.eg

5.  إعملوا على تعبئة شنط رمضان  سوياً مع أولادكم . وزعوا عليهم المهام بما يتناسب مع سنهم وإمكانياتهم وعلى كل طفل أن ينتهي من مهته وحده ليشعر بالإنجاز وإنه قد المسؤولية، وليشعر أيضاً بالسعاده لمشاركته في مساعدة الغير بنفسه. وقبل ساعة من الإفطار، إنزلوا لتوزيع الشنط أو الوجبات مع أطفالكم في منطقتكم وإشرحوا لهم لماذا نقوم بهذا وأهميته، لكي يتعلموا العطاء والكرم تجاه من هم أقل حظاً منهم.ramadan bag

6.من الممكن ان يستمتع الاطفال بإرتاء ملابس مثل ابويهم في وقت الصلاه، حيث ترتدي البنات الاسدالات كأمهاتهن والاولاد الجلابية.ramadan galabeya

7. إدعوهم لتزيين المنزل معكم بزينة رمضان، إجعلوها عاده سنوية للأسرة لتزيين المنزل سوياً، أسألوهم عن رأيهم عن أفضل مكان للفانوس بالمنزل مثلا، وممكن أن تعطي طفلك مهمة إشعال الفانوس يومياً.Ramadan-Crafts-And-Activities-For-Kids

الأطفال يختلفون عن بعض جميعا بطريقه رائعة، إختار الطريقة التي تراها مناسبة لطفلك وإتبعها لإشراك طفلك في إحتفالات شهر رمضان لكي تستمتعوا بوقتكم سوياً في الإبداع والتنفيذ والتعلي

كل سنة وانتم طيبين

Translated by: Omnia Wasef

7 Ways to Involve your Kids This Ramadan

Ramadan is just around the corner and while most of you are planning for the celebratory month one of the biggest preparations you should have on your to-do list is getting children involved in Ramadan. Involvement can mean a lot of things. For this article, I interpret involvement as including children willingly in the traditions and allowing them to feel like they are part of the celebration. Involvement means creating, doing, making, helping and maybe even learning a thing or two about Ramadan along the way.

  1. Make your own Ramadan calendar

    Get your kids to look forward to everyday surprises. Fill pockets with not only small gifts as stickers or small Ramadan key chains, but I even prefer an even better option of writing personalized notes for your child. A great idea would be to encourage children to perform acts of kindness every day; each pocket would include a note of a different way they can show kindness today. For the older children you can include a note with a small story of the Prophets so it would act as a bed-time story routine during that month. You can order your Ramadan calendar on @mishabymaitabbassi intagram page Click Here819A611F-E5BD-4B2A-A7E3-428EAFD0349B

  2. Make a sadaqa/charity box

    sadaqa boxsadaqa jar

    Explain the importance of giving to others. At the beginning of the month ask them who would they like to help whether it’s someone they now personally that might be in need as driver or gate-keeper or a more general act of kindness as buying toys for children in the streets. Whatever it may be, make sure that this is your child’s decision and choice and allow them to take action on it by the end of the month. I would highly advise to make sure children give away physical objects that they could see would be useful to others instead of money, however this is your personal choice.

  3. ‘Reach for the stars’phases of moon picture

    Throughout Ramadan you can regularly take a look at the moon together and speak about the different phases of the moon and how this is relevant in welcoming the month of Ramadan.

  4. Star Cookie Cutters

    Since Ramadan is usually associated with a star and crescent moon, why not use this theme in your kitchen! Get a creative as you can. You can find star shaped cookie cutters on bentomommys.eg page Click Here. Get as creative as you can here are just a few options for inspiration.

  5. Pack baskets or bags for the disadvantages/homeless

    ramadan bagDelegate tasks that are age appropriate for your child to complete alone so as to allow them the feeling of competence as well as the fulfillment of helping others by themselves. An hour before Iftar you can go around your neighborhood with your child giving them out. During the process explain to your child the meaning of being kind to those in need while demonstrating it.

  6. Dress Up! ramadan galabeya

    Pick a day for the family to wear the typical religious attire one would wear . Isdal/Abaya for girls and a ‘galabeya; for boys perhaps. Kids love to dress up and make-believe and what a great learning experience would it be for you to get out your galabyas and have a ‘costume’ party while introducing children to their traditional garments.

  7. Have them help with house Decorations

    With the month of Ramadan comes a lot of festivities and decoration for those gatherings. Make it a tradition that every year both you and your child together help set up the house with decorations. Invite them to say their option on where they want the Ramadan lantern to be and include them in the decorating process. You can even make it a tradition that your child lights up the lantern every day for you.

Ramadan-Crafts-And-Activities-For-KidsEach child is different in their amazing way. Which ever method you see fits best to involve your child during the month of Ramadan make sure you have an amazing time together creating, making and learning.

 

Ramadan Kareem to you and your family.

I Won’t Force My child to Kiss Me, Neither Should You

I admit. I fall in to this trap too often with my own. ‘Just one kiss please’ ‘Ok but I want a hug.’ How can’t we though? As parents we have literally watched them grow from their tiniest versions to who they are today. We have endured so much yet shared the best of our times with them, how can we not ask for a kiss or hug when we please, they are OUR kids, ‘we OWN them.’ NOPE. Don’t get me wrong, you are right about so much but as parents, but we don’t ‘OWN’ our child’s bodies. We believe because we gave birth to them, children are automatically ours, which is partially true; your genetic make-up created their existence. Yet, for the most part, our child’s body and personal space belongs to them not us as parents, and we must begin to respect that for a variety of reasons.

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Looks familiar?

We also all have that uncle, aunt or grand parent that insists our child kiss them, hug them, smother them with forced physical affection. Then when ‘Tant’ or ‘Uncle’ sense slight hesitation from your child they insist further ‘kiss me and I’ll give you candy,’ only to to make the situation even worse. This is all too common especially in our Egyptian culture. What are we modeling to our kids and what are its implications on their behavior in the future?

We normalize that, even when children feel unconformable, physical affection is not only fine but perceived as expected of them. The problem here lies when we try to teach them about personal safety from becoming victims of sexual abuse. Why? Well, to our children, they view that feeling of being uncomfortable through physical touch is in fact common. That feelings is regularly experienced throughout their lives, so why make a big deal about it in other situations?  As hard as this sounds but doing so increases the chances that, if they become victims of sexual abuse, to endure their ‘gut’ feeling of being uncomfortable and not speak up about the situation. Does this sound far fetched to you? ‘How does hugging her grandfather lead to her becoming a victim of abuse?’ It’s not a stretch.

“FACT: Over 90% of sexual offenders are someone the child knows and trusts, and 30-40% of children are abused by family members”

smotheringWhen we force our children to surrender to undesired affection in order to show respect to the elderly of the family and not offend their feelings, we demonstrate that their bodies do not really belong to them. Instead, they have to always take into consideration how other’s might feel before listening to their own feelings. This instills a ‘people pleaser’ trait, which allows children to behave in certain ways with the justification of so ‘he’ll like me,’ or ‘so I can be accepted.’ By pushing their physical limits we teach them their body is to please someone else (usually in authority). So if you would like your children to grow into confident beings who can easily say ‘no’ or ‘stop’ in situations of stress, peer pressure or bulling, you need to begin cultivating this trait from now.

‘WE CAN’T BE RUDE TO OTHERS SO WHAT DO WE DO INSTEAD’

Yes. Every time this topic is mentioned someone has to ask ‘so what do I do when my mother asks my daughter to give her a kiss? I can’t offend her by saying no.’ True. Especially in Egyptian culture, physical affection when greeting relatives is seen as a sign of showing respect form the younger generation. We definitely don’t want family to get upset and that is not what I am preaching at all. Here’s what you can do instead:

  • Teach Manners. Being polite means treating people with respect, and treating people with respect can be displayed through several methods not just physical affection. Show and demonstrate how to give compassion through their words, eye contact or smile.
  • Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Children of all ages like to know what to expect. Whether it’s in the way they act, behave or the situations that they will face. Tell your child in advance where you are going, who you are going to meet and how they can greet them. By mentally rehearsing with your child what they should expect, he/she will feel more in control of their feelings as well as actions in the coming situation. Talk about who they will meet, what they mean to you and what you will be doing. By also preparing your child, you are showing them respect by considering their emotional needs prior new situations. Children that are given respect first are more likely to reciprocate it.
  • Give options. When a family friend comes to greet your child, allow them the choice to pick from a set of options to choose from on how to begin the conversation, ‘Aunty asked a kiss from you, would you like to give a kiss or a big high five,’ or ‘Uncle asked for a kiss are you ready to give them a kiss now, or high five and kiss maybe later?’ By providing options you are teaching your child that they have a voice over their own body.
  • Get everyone on board. Tell relatives why you are allowing your children to set their own limits. Explain to other relatives the importance of teaching children to respect their bodies and follow their ‘gut’ feelings. There’s another up-side to implementing this approach, when children relatives find that your child is willingly cuddling them to talk about their day, they will know this love is real.

 “Children that receive respect first are more likely to give it”

We want to raise confident and capable children with high self-esteem who can recognize when someone had stepped over those boundaries of personal space. By allowing our children to set their own limits of physical affection, even with relatives, this allows for an excellent opportunity to empower them to be in charge of their own bodies.

3 Questions Every Parent Should Ask Before Loosing Their Temper

The way you choose to communicate, respond and attend to your child has a direct impact on their development. Parent responsiveness interactions are the process in which parents are positively present while meeting the child’s emotional, physical and psychological needs. Recent studies have suggested that rich parent responsiveness skills have a weighted influence on social and cognitive skills of children as well as facilitate in developing positive relationships with others. Giving clear calm instructions, exchanging warmth and encouraging confidence are all examples of rich parent-child interactions. Such methods of communication nurture children’s’ self-regulatory skills which help to inhibit impulsive behaviour as well as provide the according tools to cooperate with others.

Maintaining a balanced healthy relationship with children is hard. Children are constantly learning discovering their environment making a parent’s role that much more challenging to ensure they feel security and love. Their explorative nature more often that not may lead to power struggles, disciplining and several battles.

“Children like to be told what to do rather what not to do”

Below are 3 set of questions that every parent needs to know and ask themselves right before they choose the words they are about to use with their child, especially, during times of low temperament, disagreement and frustration.

  1. Am I in control of myself? Am I displaying the qualities I want my child to be: patient, respectful, kind, thoughtful, curious, and resilient?

parent controlThis may come to a shock for most but what I have come to realise with experience is when parent’s loose their temper and choose to use their ‘strength’ to discipline their child (whether by shouting or using slight physical touch) almost 80% of them have reported that this is when they feel weakest and lack control. This says a lot about how loosing our temper really plays with our logical reason. The less you are in control of your reactions, the less you will be able to regulate and guide your child positively.

  1. Is this going to strengthen our relationship? Will my child know that she/he is loved?

maxresdefaultSetting rules and boundaries is a necessity for children, however this does not contradict with achieving so with constant KINDNESS. It is a common misconception that in order to discipline, one must only be firm when communicating with the child. While firmness is essential, it is only beneficial to your parent-child relationship when coupled with kindness. Go down to eye level when speaking, calm your tone of voice whenever possible, express your understanding of their feelings, remind them they are loved are all examples of showing kindness that do not contradict with your firm guidelines e.g ‘(eye level) I know you feel sad because you want to play with your friends and I understand you wish you could stay longer, but it’s night and it’s time to sleep, I love you and know this is hard for you but we have to go now.’

  1. Am I teaching my child how to do better next time? Am I looking for long-term solutions or looking for blame and expressing my own feelings?

loveI left best for last, as I undoubtedly believe this is pivotal. A lot of the times parents come to me with the problem saying ‘my son/daughter KNOWS its wrong but still decides to go back and do it anyway.’ Sound familiar? Rest assured this is by no means simply because your children want to ‘annoy’ you but rather are seeking guidance from you. Children like to be told what to do rather what not to do. They like to hear ‘play with you brother gently’ rather than ‘don’t hit your brother’ or ‘walk slowly’ instead of ‘don’t run’ and ‘play in this room’ instead of ‘you are not allows to play here.’ What is the difference in approaches? You are providing salutations and guidance on what you want your child to actually be doing allowing them to form a clearer picture in their head of what is expected of them.

CHALLENGE: COMMIT TO ASKING YOURSELF THESE 3 SIMPLY QUESTIONS NEXT TIME BEFORE YOU ARE ABOUT TO LOOSE IT AND I GUARANTEE YOUR REACTION WILL BE ONE STEP CLOSER TO STRENGTHENING YOUR PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP

3 videos explaining Autism to your children: Raising aware and tolerant kids

World Autism Awareness Day is today- a day dedicated to raise awareness on the developmental disorder is characterized by social-communication difficulties and restricted repetitive behaviors, activities, and interests. To get involved today, it seemed only fitting that awareness and acceptance should be raised primarily within our own children. It’s never too early to begin talking to your children about those with special needs and instilling acceptance. Below are great resources that you can watch with your child providing a simple explanation to Autism, demonstrating it’s characteristics and suggests tools to empower your child to show compassion around other children with special needs.

Sesame Street and Autism

Just under 2 years ago, Sesame Street introduced it’s first ever Autistic character, Julie. Since, the child-friendly show has launched several products including videos, books and workshops starring ‘Julie’ to help raise awareness on Autism in children. The below videos are highly recommended to watch with your little one.

For more information on Autism, the following links are rich in resources and content:

http://autism.sesamestreet.org/

http://autismsciencefoundation.org/

http://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is.aspx

“I don’t know how to talk to my kids about children with special needs” Expert Christine Haddad’s kid-friendly guide on what to say

“With understanding we can come closer to creating tolerant, accepting and inclusive environments for everyone. Different is not less.”
A big part of my role as an art therapist and RDI Program consultant is to educate parents on the experience of their children. I do this for several reasons:
  1. I need them to understand the internal struggle that their children are facing in order to better cater for their needs.
  2. By understanding their situation better, parents will be able to support their children to reach their fullest potential and to find the coping strategies that work best for them.
  3. I provide the parents with a very digestible and clear description that they could use to advocate for their child and themselves.

“A lot of the times I work with families that want to live typical lives with their children that have special needs and there are many factors that may stand in their way. They might feel embarrassed when out with their child because of the people staring, especially in the middle of a breakdown. We all know that if for one second our own children did something inappropriate in public we would immediately assert a, “Stop that immediately” attitude.”

child downPeople stare, point and might even be judging parents of children with special needs for not being able to “control” their child, especially those who have no or little understanding about children with special needs. There may be adults who understand and can sympathize with those parents, yet children are typically curious and will most likely ask questions and make comments that, although they are innocent, can be very hurtful. This is why advocation is tremendous. Beyond being able to identify their child’s experience to support them in making better decisions for themselves, understanding their child’s experience can help parents teach other parents who will then hopefully raise a better educated, accepting and tolerant generation.

Below are some of the most common descriptions I use, for the top four special needs – I try to make it as kid-friendly as possible. Bear in mind that not one individual with a diagnosis has the same experience as the next and these descriptions are very generalized and tend to lean towards more sever examples. 

  • AUTSIM SPECTRUM DISORDER: List all of the things that you hear. (Cars outside. Electricity buzzing. The fridge. People talking in the next room. Your breathing. Your clothes moving. etc.) List all of the things that you see. (The screen. The ad that’s moving. Someone moving near you. The light reflecting off of the table. The trees moving outside the window. The texture in the carpet. etc.) List all of the things that you feel. (The phone your hand. Your back on the chair. The hair on your shoulders. The food being digested in your belly. The temperature. etc.) These are just a few things that you might experience through only three of your senses. Imagine you experience them all at the same intensity and it is really difficult to focus on one thing. The whole world is attacking all at once! Taking it all in and making sense of it can take a lot of effort and even more time. Listening to one person’s voice and making sense of it and finding an appropriate way to respond can be an incredibly difficult task. Remember to be patient and considerate of all of the stimulus that could be attacking their nervous system all at once.
  • CEREBRAL PALSY: An article I once found while writing my thesis was written by an individual with CP who tried to explain their struggle by saying, “Imagine you’re trying to tie your shoe laces but there are oven mitts tied to your hands.” CP happens when their is a lack of oxygen flow to the brain for an extended period of time in the early years of child development. This lack of oxygen creates a “disconnect” with certain areas of the brain and the nervous system. As a result, the effected nerves are incapable of communicating with the brain and therefor are difficult to feel with and the corresponding muscles become spastic (tense). We use muscles to move, eat, look, digest. etc. The extent to which the child’s muscles and nerves are effected can range massively, but always remember that even if their body looks like it can’t do very much, that is no reflection on how powerful and useful their brains can be.
  • ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVE DISORDER: A colleague’s client, who has ADHD once told him, “I have a Ferrari engine for a brain, but a tricycle for a body.” That is a wonderful depiction of what the experience of a child with ADHD might look like! In our brains we have neurons. They connect to help us think, make decisions and absorb the information around us. When we are not thinking of much and we are calm, the neurons are connecting to each other less. When we are thinking about a lot of things and also moving our bodies, the neurons are connecting a lot – it looks like a laser show in our brains! Those with ADHD have really excited neurons and so a lot of them are connecting a lot of the time. This makes it difficult for them to sit still (because the neurons could be telling the body to keep moving) or to concentrate on one thing at a time (because there are so many different neurons connecting all at once). Being allowed to fidget or take many breaks can help address the experience happening inside. Consider them not to be rude or uninterested when their focus keeps shifting, remember the laser party in their heads.
  • DOWN SYNDROME: In our blood we carry our genes, they are made up of 23 chromosomes that are the recipe for who we are; what we look like, how big we are, our colors and almost everything else that makes us physically us. People with Down syndrome were lucky enough to get a bit more of the 21st chromosome in their genes. This effects their physical appearance, but not all look exactly the same! Having Down syndrome will effect the physical traits of a person, but does not necessarily effect their cognitive ability, however, cognitive and intellectual disabilities often occur, but can be very mild or very severe. One thing is for sure, no one smiles wider than those with Down syndrome!

Each and every person, whether they have a special need or not, has something important to contribute and potential to succeed, but they must be given the chance. With understanding we can come closer to creating tolerant, accepting and inclusive environments for everyone. Different is not less.

17671371_10154931864580225_246370483_nChristine “Kiki” Haddad Zaynoun MPS ATR is an art therapist who received her bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the American University of Cairo in 2012 and her master’s degree in creative arts therapy from Pratt Institute in New York in 2014. Kiki is currently working as an art therapist and RDI© Program consultant at Therapeutic Approach to Growth in San Diego, CA. She worked at Imagine Academy for Autism and The League Education and Treatment Center in NYC as well as the Advance Society and the Learning Resource Center in Cairo, Egypt where she practiced art therapy and DIR® Floortime therapy with children and their parents with a wide range of special needs of ages 2 to 30. Kiki features in “Art Therapy: The Movie”, a documentary about art therapy across the globe and has written a chapter in the upcoming book “Art Therapy in the Middle East”. Kiki has 10+ of experience supporting those with special needs, which she is immensely passionate for. But also loves art, music, traveling and reading!

Mispronunciation in children: The latest on speech milestones and letter development

While language is detected very early during infancy, the process of projecting speech first begins between ages of 1-2 years. From then onwards, toddlers pick up language quite quickly, yet it is not always a walk in the park. Several times toddlers will mispronounce words or misuse words during their speech, while this may be cute in the beginning and great entertainment during family gatherings, how you act and react to such a situation is critical.

It is important to note that with every stage in a child’s developmental age, new sounds are being introduced to their speech. For example, while a two year old can pronounce several letters, usually the ‘r’ and ‘l’ sounds are later developed around the age of 5-6. Children should fully develop all their sounds accordingly by the age of 7. Speech specialist Eric K Sander created the following illustration to demonstrate the speech sounds that typically develop by age.

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However, until children do reach that developmental stage, it is important to guide their speech accordingly, especially if certain words are being mispronounced. Several mothers replace the original word to the word their child pronounces in their daily language so for example; they would ask their child ‘do you want a nana?’ Instead of using it’s proper noun, ‘do you want a banana?’ Here, you are encouraging mispronunciation and instead, hindering a child’s speech development by teaching that the incorrect ‘nana’ is in fact, a correct word used by mammy and daddy.

“The reaction of laughing when a child mispronounces a word, is in it’s own way, a form of reward to your child… the frequency of mispronunciations will increase.”

A client recently was complaining that her 2.5-year-old child says ‘macaconi’ instead of ‘macaroni.’ She mentioned that both she, as well as several family members, found this very cute the first few times, and would usually ask the child to repeat ‘macaconi’ on purpose so as to have a laugh about it. Recently, she realized this is a problem when her son  would randomly say ‘macaconi’ to several strangers just to wait for their laugh. Do you think the mother handled the situation well?

The reaction of laughing when a child mispronounces a word, is in it’s own expression, a form of reward to your child. By doing so the child is correlating that with every mispronounced word, a reward will follow, in the usual case this is the laughter and attention. Accordingly, the frequency of mispronunciations will increase, in order to gain more attention as the reward.

 

Heres 3 steps to help end this cycle, or even prevent it in the first place:

  1. Limit negative reactions

imgres-1When a child mispronounces a word, whether they are developmentally capable of pronouncing all letters or not, it is best to ignore. Provide neither a positive reaction as laughing nor negative reaction by bringing it to their attention such as ‘your saying it wrong.’

  1. Respond

If the situation allows, respond to your child using the correct pronunciation. E.g ‘Mummy can I have open the figerator’ you can reply by saying ‘Sure you can open this refrigerator.’ Here, my not brining it to the attention of your child, you are indirectly providing correction through modeling.

  1. Be a good role-model

No matter how cute your child may sound with their mispronunciations, always use the right words when you talk to them. You can even sometimes exaggerate or elaborate on a certain syllable or sound that they seem to not pick up during sentences.

It is important to listen to your child’s speech and check to see if there is improvement over a certain period of time. By the age of 3, a child’s speech should be mostly understandable to others. If you do feel like your child’s speech development raises a red flag, it is best to seek for professional opinion and guidance.

3 ways Egyptian culture is positively fostering your child’s development

Egyptians are a lot of things; we’re friendly, funny, often called lazy but one thing all Egyptians or anybody that has lived in Egypt can agree on is that Egyptian culture has a lot of embedded family traditions. Whether it’s birthdays, holidays or simply on a random Friday, Egyptians prioritise family gatherings as the most significant unit in society. Besides indulging in amazing food, family gatherings help foster exceptional character traits as well as socio-emotional skills to your child.

egypt-and-family

  1. Create healthy eating habits

lunch-child-1
Is your child a fussy eater? By watching close family eating different kinds of food at meal-time, this can highly encourage your child to explore different tastes and textures too. You are your child’s most important model and they learn from you. Sitting together over meal times allows your child to learn to eat what their family eats. Research shows that when the family sits over a healthy meal, children are more likely to eat their vegetables than if they are eating alone. If table manners are important to you, family meal-time is also a great chance to lead by example good table manners.

  1. Positive impact on child’s values and self-esteemchild-and-family

Family meals provide a sense of security and togetherness. This helps foster children into healthy, well-rounded adults. When conversations that usually goes around during meal-time are focused on each member of the family this allows them to fulfill their constant need of feeling significance and belonging. A decrease in high-risk behavior is heavily correlated to the amount of time spent with family, especially over family meals. Conversations over family meals also allow children to learn and practices vital social and emotional skills of listening, taking turns and better expressing themselves.

  1. Learn to respect family, specifically elders

Grandfather With Grandson Reading Together On SofaAlthough respecting elders is common throughout the world, Egyptian culture normalizes visiting the elders of family regularly. Children exposed to their grandparents on a regular basis are taught early on to demonstrate compassion. The elderly often need assistance and gentle guidance and modeling such care towards children embeds core traits as kindness and empathy.

Here’s some tips to get the most benefits out of your family meal-time:

  • Discuss your child’s day, events and feelings by expressing interest
  • Encourage your child to contribute- don’t undervalue their ability to initiate a conversation.
  • Turn off television, radio and keep mobile phones use to a minimal
  • Have family lunches with your immediate 4-5 times a week
  • Include healthy food on the table as much as possible to encourage a nutritious intake and healthy eating habits.

Don’t just ‘hear them out,’ actively LISTEN to your children

Children go through a lot throughout their day. They encounter new experiences, emotions and expressions all of which they may or may not be able to control. Imagine being given a new gadget that you’ve never been seen before. Does it send an email? Yes. Does it allow you to pick up calls? Yes. Do you know how to use it? NO, even though all the tools are there, you still need to understand the know-how of operating it. The same concept applies to kids; they need to be guided to use their own tools to regulate their emotions, thoughts and feelings. Active listening is a crucial skill that all parents can use to empower their children as well as create a caring relationship.

‘Active listening builds a ‘safe place’ for children to be able to go back to during times of heightened emotions.’

What is active listening?

Listening can take shape in the form of ‘hearing’ words and sounds and trying to make sense of it, or ‘actively’ engaging in the content allowing the child to feel you are with them in ‘their corner’ rather than just hearing them. Active listening allows parents to succeed in creating two KEY qualities in their parent-child relationship:

  • Develop good patterns of communication

This allows the child to feel valued, understood and fulfills their inner goal of feeling significant. Children that are accustomed to ‘active listening’ grow to be much more open as teens and adults when it comes to understand and communicating their wants, feelings and needs.

  • Builds emotional security

Active listening builds a ‘safe place’ for children to be able to go back to during times of heightened emotions or thoughts. Having this secure relationship is key to guiding your child to become confident, resilient and caring being.

Conversation 1

06-52-of-the-worst-parenting-tips-parents-get_strict-rules_528291794_ridofranzSon: I don’t want to go to football practice today.

Mom: Why! You love football, its your favorite time of the day.

Son:  No, nobody likes it.  The coach asks us to run most of the time.

Mom: Well football is mostly about running; you have to suck it up.

Son: He keeps telling us to run laps when the best part about football is to kick the ball and shoot at the goal.

Mom: Well you better learn to like running or else you will never get to the kicking part

Son: I still don’t want to go to football!

Conversation 2

Son: I don’t want to go to football practice today.

Mom: You’re not happy at football practice. Is it because it’s boring or challenging for you?

Son:  Nobody likes it.  The coach asks us to run most of the time.

Mom: It bothers you that the coach asks a lot from you?

Son: He keeps telling us to run laps when the best part about football is to kick the ball and shoot at the goal.

Mom: You’re really angry that your coach isn’t letting you do enough of your favorite part of football; kicking and shooting.  You would expect the coach to know that you feel that.

Son: I want to let him know I enjoy kicking and shooting so we can do it more..

Notice how conversation 1 ended the same way it began- no progression in child’s thoughts, feelings or emotions. On the other hand, mom in conversation 2 was able to empower her son to make his own decision, understand his feelings and take initiative towards his needs, all through the guidance of active listening.

‘Ok so how can I , ‘actively listen’ to my child?’

Here’s 3 steps you can implement straight away:

  1. Keep your feelings separate: its not you, its about your childmom-at-childs-eye-level

Children’s emotions are easily heightened and more often that not, they find it hard to understand what it is they are feeling and can’t seem to relate that feeling to the rooting cause. By labeling the feelings they might be experiencing, parents allows for clarification of the child’s needs, values and expectations.

  1. Reflect back

The main purpose behind reflection it so confirm that we understand what our child wants to express. Key phrases like the following help to achieve this:

  • ‘What I am hearing you say is…’
  • ‘It sounds like you are saying..’
  • ‘So from what your saying you feel ___ is that right?’
  1. Non-verbal cues

maxresdefaultToo often we forget that communication is not only through words but also through non-verbal cues as body language and posture. Here are a few points to consider during your next conversation to demonstrate attentiveness in what they are saying:

  • Maintain eye-level with your child
  • Allow them to finish their sentence; listen all the way through
  • Express compassion by leaning forward to your child, put a hand on their shoulder or hug.

So don’t just ‘hear them out’ ACTIVELY listen to your children.

Why you should STOP saying ‘Clean up your room’ to your preschooler

Lets talk about behavior and why we want our children to ‘behave’. Recent concerns on behavior are mostly around children being ‘stubborn’ by always refusing to follow given tasks, acting-out, tantrums and the list goes on.

When your just about to tell your child to do something, I urge you to stop, reflect and ask yourself, ‘is my child developmentally capable to complete this task? Do they understand what it is I’m asking for exactly? Are we asking our children to over-achieve their developmental age? We ask our 2-4 year olds to clean up their room, brush their teeth and to put on their clothes, so that way we are teaching them how to be ‘responsible’ and ‘independent.’ Yet, usually, these requests are always replied with a firm, ‘No!.’ Why is that? Sometimes what we ask can be much bigger that what they can achieve, ‘clean up your room’ can seem like a simple task but for a small 3 year old it requires a lot of concentration, attention and completing several small tasks at once, maybe he’s just developmentally not ready yet to achieve that.

So lets look at the bigger picture, what are we, as mothers, achieving by asking our children to over-achieve themselves. Initially, once they see the task is too hard their immediate answer is ‘no.’ This teaches them to give up before trying. Asking them to over-achieve also lowers their confidence level by thinking they can never do anything ‘right’. By insisting on a task they do not want to do, brushing their teeth for example, you are teaching them that being responsible is an unwilling obligation rather than a trait they should positively look forward to. ‘So I should never ask of my kids to do something they don’t want to’? No. Instead try to break up the task though into smaller and more specific tasks to create an achievable goal as ‘pick up your legos and then the play-do’ rather than an overwhelmingly big task as ‘clean your room’ or ‘Ok so your homework is to finish this page of math problems, how about we start with 5 problems first’ rather than simple ‘finish your math homework.’

Try to turn the tables around for a second, think of your child’s needs before asking them to do a task, also, think about what are you trying to achieve by asking this. You want to teach responsibility?

  • Plant a seed together and explain the responsibility of taking care it, by involving them in the process this already increases the chances of your child to willing choose to be responsible.
  • Ask them to help you out while cooking (in a safe environment of course), let them mix the batter, pour in the water, sprinkle the seasoning etc.girl-with-apple.jpg
  • Delegate simple house and age-appropriate chores as washing the vegetables, setting the table or juicing oranges for example. This allows them to ‘help’ while fulfilling their need of belonging and significance when you involve them with you.
  • Encourage the responsibility of self-care by leaving them to brush their teeth on their own, feed themselves, dress themselves (if they can), if not then choose from two options what they would like to wear, pack their snack bags alone and my all-time favorite delegation, ask them to remember a few items on your way to grocery shopping together and emphasis it is their responsibility to find them and add them to the cart.

The characteristics of self-reliance, independence and responsibility are life-long that cultivate a growth mindset allowing them to embrace rather than shy away from future challenges our kids will face. Let’s stop asking our children to over-achieve, and instead help break down instructions into smaller, specific and achievable tasks while focusing on encouraging their efforts instead.