Work Hard. Be Nice. How to Evoke Grit and Goodness.

I’m not going to lie… as I say on my about me page, I want my daughter June to be smart. I want her to do well in school, then be showered with academic scholarships to college, have an amazing career, and single-handedly close the gender pay gap… that's all. 

But, unfortunately, her mother (me) isn’t exactly the sharpest crayon in the box. I had to work so hard to graduate college with a GPA that wasn’t laughable, attending office hours daily, studying for weeks for finals, hiring tutors for $20-25 an hour to break down subjects like trigonometry, biology and economics to an elementary level so this twenty-year-old could slide by with a C. I remember getting a whopping 13 out of 30 on my first college test. I called my dad hysterical telling him I don’t know how I got in to college, but I wasn’t cut out for it, and to make room because I'd be moving back into his basement at the end of the semester. Fortunately, I did have a couple things going for me. I was very curious, I had a little bit of social intelligence, and I learned to get through tough situations with a lot of grit and perseverance. Because of these qualities I did graduate college, and didn't move back into my dad's basement... until six years later when I started grad school.

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ATTN: Busy Moms! Talking to Your Babies is Even Better than Reading to Them

Dana Suskind, the author of Thirty Million Words, just tweeted this article about a recent study in Ireland that shows that chattering away (or as we Americans say, "talking") to babies is EVEN BETTER than reading to them. If your child is anything like mine this is great news because my little wiggle worm won't sit still long enough for me to put socks on her feet, so forget about reading a whole six-page children's book.

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Breeeeeeeathe (Adult Version)

Breeeeeeeathe (Adult Version)

My last post "Breeeeeeeathe" was all about understanding what happens to a child's brain during a meltdown, and how to cope. I offered the idealistic advice to stay calm when your child is having a meltdown because kids learn by example and modeling, but I'll be the first to admit that my colicky baby made me lose it more than once to the point that my dear mother paid for June and me to fly home for a week of TLC after getting a horrible case of the shingles. Parenthood is no joke, y'all. I was doing everything I could to keep my colicky baby from crying for three and a half months straight that I completely exhausted myself, hints the shingles. Now I'm back (hi!), re-engergized (thanks, mom), and ready to share with you what I've been reading about how to find calmness in the midst of stress, anger or chaos.

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Breeeeeeeathe

Breeeeeeeathe

I was talking to my BFF about her son who is in his “terrible twos”. Really, there’s nothing terrible about him; he is wonderful, but he is beginning to express himself, and sometimes his little feelings are angry or stressed. She said to me, “I know it sounds silly, but I am teaching him to just breathe.” I didn’t know how to articulate it then, but after gathering my thoughts (a.k.a. researching what others had to say about breathing as a calming strategy) I was able to write down how powerful simple breathing techniques are for kids because they actually aren’t simple, at all. Regulating your emotions, or self-regulation, is one of the most challenging things to learn for any of us, but according to James Heckman, professor of economics at the University of Chicago, an important determinant of a child’s success. Without self-regulation and executive function, there is little chance of achievement in children or, anyone! (Suskind, p. 110).

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Parents, You are Powerful

Parents, You are Powerful

I went to get my hair cut the other day, and took June in with me to meet the best hair dresser of all time, and mommy-to-be, Erin. “Doesn’t being a mom just make you feel so amazing?” the owner of the salon said with her shoulders were back exuding this glowing confidence. “It just makes me feel like a real woman.” I responded, without even thinking “I know, I just feel so empowered. Like, I made that little thing, I can do anything.”

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ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE… and language

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE… and language

I keep seeing this fact: By the age three 85% of brain development has already happened. Unlike any other organ in the body, the brain is underdeveloped at birth, and the development of your child’s brain is almost completely dependent on one thing: Y.O.U. And not only that, if those parts of the brain, known as the prefrontal cortex, aren’t nourished in the first three years of life, then those parts of the brain simply may never develop. An underdeveloped brain is totally preventable, yet almost entirely untreatable after the age of three. 

That’s a lot to handle, huh? First you have to grow this baby in your body for 9+ months, and now you have the responsibility of growing its brain for the first three years of its life?! Luckily for us, two women have done a ton of research on how to develop your child’s brain to its fullest capacity, and guess what: it’s FREE, accessible, available to all mommies and daddies, and, in fact, you don’t even have to leave the house in the hot mess state that you inevitably are as a new mom to get it. The only two things your child needs for their little brains to grow are love and language, and, momma, you got that.

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Baby Talk to Your Babies

Baby Talk to Your Babies

I was talking with my neighbor the other day about raising kids and he said, “Yeah, my boy has some behavioral issues, and we did everything we were supposed to do." He listed a few things like we don’t put him in front of screens, he plays outside a lot, and he also said, “and we never talked to him like he was a baby.”

I thought “Uh oh. Am I not supposed to be talking to my little June like she’s a baby because I do all the time!” She’s too cute not to. I mean I even talk to my husband and dog in baby talk… it’s just how we roll around here.
That exact day I read in Thirty Million Words that baby talking to your baby is not only okay, but good for your baby’s executive function and self-regulation development.

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