© 2012 Sedef Örsel Özçelik

May 30, 2008

Starting school...

Starting preschool is an exciting time both for your child and for you as the parent.  However, this adjustment period can be tough and scary for both of you, as well.  Here are some approaches you may try during the next couple of months to prepare both yourself and your child for the wonderful step in your life together...

Some physical approaches to prepare for starting school:
  • Doing some creative art together- Finger painting, drawing, coloring with crayons, molding clay...  These activities all help developing both the visual and fine motor skills of your child.  And these two skills are most needed for writing.  Improving his competence may help his confidence.  In addition, doing simple mazes and connect-the-dot pictures can also be pretty helpful for developing visual and fine motor skills of your child.
  • Asking your child to do some simple tasks all by herself- Simple tasks like pouring a glass of milk/water, using a fork and a spoon, hanging her own jackets after taking them off...  Some simple tasks that she will be expected to perform at school, and which also help learning coordination.  Learning coordination also helps developing fine motor skills.
  • Visiting the school at least once before the first day- Giving your child an opportunity to see his new classroom, where the bathrooms are, where the playground is, where the lunchroom is.  And also visit the drop off and pick up area.  You can explain at each of these spots what she will be doing during the day.  Walking through the school will help your child get familiar with the physical  environment.  (If you can make this visit during an actual school day, your child will also get a chance to see the children on action)...
  • Learning about the daily schedule at school-  You can play school with your child at home.  Practicing  the daily schedule:  waking up at the time that your child will wake up after she starts going to school; eating breakfast, snacks and lunch at the times she will be eating at school will help a smoother transition for her little body's biological clock.
  • Including your child in the getting ready for school process-  You can go on little shopping trips with your child.  You can buy his arts supplies, lunch box, school outfits/uniforms together.  Letting him make his own choices will help him internalize the idea of starting and going to school, as well.
Some mental approaches to prepare for starting school:
  • Reading to your child at least for 15-20 minutes everyday- Children's vocabulary shows vast improvement when they are read everyday.  A good vocabulary is proven to help learning to read and write.
  • Practicing listening-  Listening and following directions are fundamental at school.  So helping your child be prepared would be very helpful.  You can  play listening games with her.  You can ask her to close her eyes and listen to all the sounds around her.  Or you can play 'Simon says'  to encourage following directions.  Another idea is to play school with her.  You take turns in being the teacher and the student, and telling  made up stories to each other.
Some emotional/social approaches to prepare for starting school:
  • Talking to your kid about their new school-  Prepare your child about what he would  expect on the first day and on a common day at school by talking to him.  Listen to any worries that he may have.  Addressing all his fears, concerns or worries is utmost important.  Help him calm all his worries and fears with information.  You can read books and stories about starting school.
  • Pointing out peers who already started school- Meet with other children who go to school already.  By positively talking together with other children about their school experiences, you might help your child have a mental picture.
  • Creating a good-bye ritual-  To make the separation easier  for your child and to ensure her that you'd be back to pick her up, you can create a special good-bye ritual.  You may even want to start this ritual before starting the school.  This could be a special or silly phrase you may use "Hey diddle diddle, I will be back with a fiddle" or  a gesture like a high-five...  Something special for you two...  This will help enhance her feeling of attachment to you and help her feel more secure.  But whatever you do, don't sneak out!   This will only make your child more distressed.
  • Practicing social skills-  School is a social environment.  So preparing your child socially will be very helpful.  Your child will take turns, share toys, make choices, etc.  Organizing  play dates with other kids and moms will provide good opportunities to practice these skills.
  • Having a positive outlook-  Children are extra sensitive to their parents' feelings.  If you have any worries and concerns about your child starting to school... this will directly affect your child's emotional state in a negative way.  On the contrary, when you are upbeat and positive, your child will be relaxed.  Only when she's relaxed, she will have a pleasant experience.

May 20, 2008

The bigger picture...

I was reading somewhere about playing chess.  The writer was talking about how important it was to see the entire board in your mind's eye to be a successful chess player.  I admit I never played chess!  But I know what the writer was talking about.  About anyone or any circumstance that seems to get on my nerves...  if I could take a deep breath and remember that there's a bigger picture than what seems to be happening just now...  I can get myself to a calmer and more understanding state.  That state of being and understanding helps me embrace the given situation.
I don't mean to give the impression here that I have become eternally patient and understanding thanks to this method of remembering the bigger picture.  I make mistakes, too. And thank God I make mistakes and learn from them.  So that, my kids see that anyone can make mistakes and learn from them.  It's just that I want to teach them a more positive outlook in life.  I just want to teach them to realize and understand  what they feel.  And to teach how to carry themselves to a more constructive, creative, happier and confident state of being, once they were in negative moods.
As we are their most important role models, our children learn and grow up by watching us closely.   So how about trying to remember the bigger picture before making a move like a chess player.  Our lives are our chessboards that we play.  Let's have fun...  Let's be cool players who show young players how to play successfully...
With love,

May 11, 2008


To all the mothers (potential, expecting, surrogate, foster, adaptive, biological and not biological...)
The everlasting source of unconditional love in your hearts makes this world more beautiful and living.  On be half of the children of our old planet, I would like to thank you for all your love, patience, compassion and kindness.  
Happy Mother's Day!!!

May 7, 2008

5 More Ways to Deal With Your Child's Temper Tantrums

In addition to the previous posting, here are 5 more ways to deal with your young child's temper tantrum:
  1. Praise the child when she ends the tantrum: It is a well acknowledged fact that positive reinforcement ensures repetition of behavior.  While that reinforcement should not be materialistic, do make sure it is verbal.  Offering verbal congratulations for a child's end of the tantrum expresses that you value that ability.  Praising your child when she ends the tantrum would ensure that the span of the next tantrum may be shorter.  Next, offer your child another activity to refocus attention and soothe emotions.
  2. Teach the child healthier ways to express anger:  Take it upon yourself  to teach your child healthier and more effective means to express her anger.  Tell her that she has a better chance of being heard and understood  if she makes it clear that she is angry and why.  To teach your child to verbalize her anger would not only reduce and with time finish off the temper tantrums, but would also make your child more  communicative and verbal.  Another option is to ask your child, "Try another way," to managing and emotion or to respond to you when you ask, "Show me what you want."  Take her by the hand and be willing to be shown.
  3. Reason only when the child is calm:  To reason with a child throwing tantrum is useless and next to impossible.  Logic rarely works in a fit of emotion.  Instead wait till the yelling and crying is over and then talk with an older child.  This will make the child more receptive  and you have a much better chance of being heard.
  4. Do not take the child on a guilt trip:  Temper tantrums are not uncommon and specific to your child alone; hence do not make her feel that way.  Making a child feel guilty about throwing a tantrum could either make the child rebellious or make her retreat into a shell.  Both scenarios  are bigger problems.  So instead of making your child feel bad about throwing a tantrum, explain her why tantrums are unhealthy and uncalled for.
  5. Connect with your child's needs:  A  child throws  a tantrum  for a reason.  As a parent, your are supposed to be able to figure this out, as if by magic.  One way is to read up on the developmental needs of a child at each age.  Another way is to use your intuition  and "feel" your child's needs.   A third way is to observe the environment  and seek  to know what might  have triggered the disruption and remove the stimulus.  A final  technique is empathy.  If your body exploded in eruptions of tears and release, what would you need?  ....To be held, spoken to reassuringly, taken out of the environment, loved??? Connect with your child's needs through empathy and give her the positive message that you take seriously.  Not only will this give you a better chance of being heard, but will also  help your child develop a mature state of mind.  Once your child understands that you understand her, she will give you better responses.

May 5, 2008

5 Different Ways to Deal With Your Child's Temper Tantrums

Temper tantrums among younger children can be a source for discouragement among parents who feel overwhelmed and embarrassed by them.  The following are a list of 5 effective measures to control and deal with your child's tantrums. 
  1. Do not hit or punish the child:  What I have observed in parks, stores and playgrounds is that some parents' first response is to spank or hit the child.  While hitting or spanking the child might seem like the easiest and most efficient way to calm the child's tantrum, the truth is the hitting would make the child sulk and cry even more.  The younger the child, the more emotionality may be running through their small bodies and the eruption needs time to cool down.  The child who can only express what is inside does not easily control a tantrum.  Time is what the child needs and a removal from the stimulus.
  2. Do not bribe or reward the child:  Do not take the other road and try to calm the child by stuffing candy into her mouth, or by buying her a new toy.  This would immediately calm the child but will also give her the message that in future all she has to do to get her demands met is to throw a tantrum.
  3. Be patient: Keep yourself calm and composed during your child's tantrum.  Make sure you do not start one of your own while trying to deal with the one your child is throwing.  Your child is in the midst of upset, and your job is to remain calm pillar of strength.  Forget being embarrassed, and focus on connecting with your child and moving to the next step.  To calm  yourself, take deeper breaths sing soothingly to yourself and your child, use self-talk as in, "I can handle this right now.  I am calm and I love my child."
  4. Ignore the tantrum:  Sometimes the most effective way to deal with a tantrum is to simply ignore it unless harm is being done to himself or the environment.  Don't feed the disruption in attempts to soothe your child if you are unsure of yourself.  Instead take other measures to play music as a distraction.  Tell him you are going to go into another room now, and he can join you when he's finished, then without punishment or an attitude of withdrawal, simply go to another space.  The child will most probably tire on her own and settle down.
  5. Set a good example: Children learn most of the things from their parents by modeling and mimicking their behavior.  If your child witnesses you flying into a rage every time you are stressed or things are not going your way, chances are she will pick up the same.  Try to keep yourself as calm as you can in front of your child while you deal with everyday situations and life in general.  In fact why not model managing stress with your child as a great role model of taking walks, stretching, exercising or breathing deeply and effectively.

May 3, 2008

Parent Coaching For Enjoying Parenting Today And Everyday!

Parenting is the hardest job of our age.  It is very easy for parents to forget the joys of life and  parenting itself during everyday routines...  My name is Sedef Orsel....  And my job is to help parents to feel more confident and relaxed at their parenting job, so that they can enjoy life as a parent today and everyday!