Onward and upward!

Thank you for being part of our journey these 3 years! We've so appreciated all your kind words and visits. Onward and upward with our journey!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Nutcracker Cracked Her

Dear My Toy Garden Friends,
She'd been excited about it for days. Just moments before she had been skipping and smiling and excited. She took her seat and some other children joined her. Then more children came and more children came and still more came. Many more than she expected and now she sat on my lap crying saying she didn't want to do it. She didn't want to audition for The Nutcracker...this year's production at her elementary school.
Stress is a part of all of our lives. Adults learn, most of the time, to handle is as part of the normal ebb and flow of life. For our children, learning to handle stress is a skill to be explored and practiced. Below are some ideas on how to help your child handle stress.
  1. Paint a Picture - Before an event that might be stressful such as visiting a new place, meeting new friends or auditioning for a school play, try to paint a clear picture with words or even actual pictures or videos of what the experience might be like. This was my error with Lily in the story above. I did not explain to her how many children would be there and how it would be a bit chaotic. It surprised her and caused her stress. On previous occasions when my mom badge was a bit shinier, I've shown her pictures of family members she seldom saw but was about to see. This helped her be comfortable with names and faces and knowing a bit about them.
  2. Read books - There are several great books about being nervous and handling stress to read and talk about together. One of my favorites currently at My Toy Garden is Flying to See Janet. Great title huh? It takes a child through the entire adventure of flying to help them know what to expect. [Here's a fabulous list] of other great books related to various stressors in a child's like such as divorce, death, new baby, moving, etc.
  3. Name Emotions. Help your child develop a vocabulary of emotion words beyond just happy, sad, mad. My Toy Garden carries several board games that are perfect for just that!
  4. Provide toys that absorb nervous energy. The What'zit snake below is one of our top selling items! One of the main reasons is that it keeps busy hands busy with something creative. Counselors know that when hands are busy, minds relax and children can cognitively begin to process things they would have a hard time doing otherwise.
  5. Role Play the stress away! Another tool counselors utilize are role play items such as doll houses, dress up clothes and puppets. When children play with these, their storytelling can reveal how they are feeling and give them a safe place to explore those feelings. Playing alongside them gives you an opportunity to understand and help guide them to find positive solutions on how to handle their negative emotions.
  6. Make Eye Contact - This one is so simple and yet so powerful and it's one we forget to do daily. Look your child in the eyes...intentionally...lovingly...daily. That connection makes them feel loved and supported and builds a bridge of trust that they'll need to come to you when life has bumps.

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