The week's best parenting advice: September 7, 2021
Rosh Hashanah activities for kids, a kindergarten teacher's smart hack, and more
How to involve kids in Rosh Hashanah
This week marks Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, which began on Sept. 6 and goes through Sept. 8. If you're Jewish, one way to get young children involved in the celebration is by focusing on the holiday's association with sweet things, like apples dipped in honey. After all, the Rosh Hashanah greeting, "L'Shana Tova U'Metukah," translates to "Have a sweet and good year," explains Alex Abel at Parents. Shevy Vigler, the founder and director of Alef Bet Preschool on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, suggests parents try to get kids into the kitchen with them, by doing a honey taste test, for example. "Food is about so much more than what we eat," Vigler says. "They're a big connector to the holiday — to the feels, sounds, and smells."
A kindergarten teacher's smart hack
A new school year means new school supplies and, inevitably, the losing of said school supplies. Kindergarten teacher Theresa Besenhofer has an ingenious hack for helping little kids keep track of their markers and lids: Connect a dozen markers or so side by side using a strip of duct tape across the lids. When a marker gets used, the lid stays in one place and serves as a visual reminder that a marker is missing from the pack. Write the child's name in Sharpie across the tape so you know who the markers they belong to and hope for the best.
Time for a toy purge
Many parents may feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of toys their child has, and the way they seem to litter most rooms of the home. The good news is there may be some scientific justification for culling the toy collection. Jessica Tucker at Moms.com makes the case, explaining that having fewer toys at their disposal leads children to "more quality and imaginative play." Children with fewer toys will also be more likely to take care of them, Tucker says, and play with them for longer before bouncing on to the next form of entertainment. Plus, a small toy collection means kids might be more inclined to skip toys entirely and head outside for entertainment. "When they do not have the draw of toys with all the lights and sounds calling them inside to play, kids will not only spend more time but more quality playtime outdoors than if they were playing indoors instead," Tucker says.
Facilitating independent play
Independent play has lots of benefits for a young child's development. It also gives parents a chance to catch their breath or get some work done. But for many children, running off to play alone doesn't always come naturally. That makes sense: "Children like to be close," says Beth Rosenbleeth, a former teacher, and founder of Days with Grey. "We cannot expect them to run off and play in the basement if we work in the dining room." Try bringing their toys near to you while you work, Rosenbleeth suggests. Come down to your child's eye level and look them in the eye while you validate their need to be close. "Many times it is more about feeling seen," than needing someone to play with, Rosenbleeth says.
The key to resilience
"Never has resilience — be it physical, mental, emotional or financial — been more important to our society than in the past year and a half," writes Erik Vance at NYT Parenting, "and never have I been so determined to pass it on to my son." He spoke with experts on how to do just that, and learned that resilience starts with support and stability. "Having a relationship with a caring parent is far and away the most powerful protective factor for children," Ann Masten, a psychology professor at the University of Minnesota, told Vance. Beyond that, resilience can be learned through observation, and parents should model it for their kids, regulating their own emotions in tough moments. And parents can "challenge" their kids by presenting them with opportunities to try things they're not sure they can do, like a tough hike or learning to canoe. But remember, "there's no one right way to foster resilience, just like there's no one right way to parent," Masten says.