Why Mindfulness for Preschoolers Is Important – and How to Do It

Mindfulness is a trendy buzzword these days, but that doesn’t minimize its importance and effectiveness in emotional regulation. When it comes to mindfulness for preschoolers, what do we need to know? And how do we help children so young access the power of mindfulness?

Read on for both the benefits, and the how-to, of mindfulness for preschoolers.

Benefits of Mindfulness for Preschoolers

Think of mindfulness as a tool — it’s something you can reach for when you’re overwhelmed. By directing our attention to the present, we can better manage overwhelm and anxious feelings.

When preschoolers learn mindfulness techniques, they learn to focus their attention, strengthen resilience, and even self-soothe.

Some other helpful benefits of mindfulness for preschoolers include:

  • Improved emotional regulation skills
  • Greater calm in stressful situations
  • An expanded ability to keep things in perspective
  • Self-compassion, as children learn to treat their feelings with warmth and understanding
  • Less shame
  • Better physical and mental health
  • An increase in kindness for others
  • Self-control
  • Better decision makingWe all want our children to develop these strengths, skills, and characteristics. Read on for how to teach mindfulness to preschoolers.

Model Mindfulness

As in nearly everything you want to teach your child, modeling is critical in teaching mindfulness to preschoolers. Why? You can’t teach something you don’t know. If you don’t understand mindfulness for yourself, the lessons for your child simply won’t sink in.

That’s why it’s important to develop your own capacity for mindfulness. Incorporate mindfulness into your own day, and not only will you reap the benefits for yourself, you’ll know better how to teach the practices to your child.

Don’t Expect Perfection

Mindfulness is a skill, and it will take time for your preschooler to learn to be more mindful. Recognize this, and understand your child is going to need you to co-regulate with them for a while. They will also need plenty of practice with the skills.

Follow this simple three-step process:

  1. Help your child understand their feelings as they experience them. You can do this by naming your child’s feelings without judgment. “You’re feeling frustrated that your baby sister drooled on your toy, aren’t you?” “You’re feeling excited that you get to go swimming today, aren’t you?”
  2. Demonstrate mindfulness skills, without expecting your child to do them. In this stage, you’re simply modeling. Let your child see you doing breathing exercises when you’re upset, calming your body, taking time to be still, and more.
  3. Guide your child through mindfulness techniques. (See below for ideas.) Practice these techniques when your child is calm, so there is no pressure. Then, when your child is dysregulated, invite them to use a technique along with you.Don’t force any part of this process. And don’t worry if it takes a long time for your child to use the techniques when they’re upset. Just keep naming feelings, modeling mindfulness, and gently guiding when your child allows it.

    This is not an outcome-based approach. If your child doesn’t reach for their mindfulness techniques, nobody has failed. Just trust that this process will eventually give your child the tools they need to regulate their emotions.

Follow Your Child

Your child’s mood should be your barometer in how you approach mindfulness with them. Have a stash of mindfulness activities ready to go, and then choose the one that best fits the mood.

For example, you can have a calming corner where your child goes to calm down. Keep sensory activities and toys at the ready. You can also be prepared to co-regulate with a hug and soothing voice. And then, when your child needs calming, you can determine which of those techniques/tools will be most effective in the moment.

Use these techniques and tools throughout the day, even when your child isn’t upset, and it will be easier to use them in the tough moments.

18 Mindfulness Activities for Preschoolers

mindfulness for preschoolers

  1. Pause and notice how you’re feeling emotionally. (Do you feel happy? Excited? Sad? Gloomy?)
  2. Pause and notice how you’re feeling in your body. (Is your tummy full? Can you feel your heart? What does it feel like when you wiggle your toes? Take a breath and feel your belly and chest.)
  3. Pause and listen for one minute. What sounds did you hear?
  4. Think of the five senses: Name five things you see, four things you feel, three things you hear, two things you smell, and one thing you taste.
  5. Take a bite of food, and keep it in your mouth with your eyes closed. Describe what it feels like and what it tastes like. (Is it crunchy? Sweet? Slippery? Bitter?)
  6. List things you are grateful for.
  7. Try this breathing technique: Smell the rose (breathe in), blow out the candle (breathe out)
  8. Blow bubbles. (You can imagine this, or do it with real bubbles.) See how slowly you can do it (take a big, deep breath and blow slowly on the bubbles).
  9. Pick a muscle to squeeze for five seconds, and then slowly release it.
  10. Feel each other’s heartbeats. This is great for co-regulating.
  11. Go outside and look for different textures. Pick up rocks, leaves, sticks, and more, and describe how each one feels.
  12. When creating arts or crafts, describe what you see, feel, hear, and smell. (Probably best to leave taste out of this one!)
  13. Take a mindful walk. Pay attention to the five senses as you walk, and discuss them as you go.
  14. Turn routine activities into slow-motion activities. Washing hands, eating a snack, putting the flatware away. Describe the senses you’re noticing as you go.
  15. Let your child smell the spices and ingredients as you cook.
  16. Download a guided meditation to do together.
  17. Listen to music together. Talk about the instruments you hear and the feelings the music invokes.
  18. Learn yoga poses.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we incorporate mindfulness into every day of learning. To learn more about how we teach, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

How to Teach Safety to Preschoolers

A few years ago, one of our preschool families had a house fire. Their preschool-aged child said, “I know just what to do,” and coached her parents through the process of getting low to crawl under the smoke and out of the house before calling 911.

She even explained to her parents that the fire department would soon be there to help save their house, and they didn’t need to be afraid because the firemen were “very nice, even if they looked scary in their masks.”

How did she know how to not only stay calm, but the right actions to take? Because she had recently gone through our “S Is for Safety” week at UDA Creative Arts Preschool!

Talking about safety, practicing safety, and even playing pretend with safety themes helps young children be prepared for emergency situations. And when done right, it also helps children approach potentially-scary topics in a non-threatening way.

It’s never too early to incorporate safety themes in your family. We want to share with you some of what we taught during “S Is for Safety” week, and how you can bring the messages home.

Some Things to Keep in Mind When Teaching Safety to Preschoolers

The topic of safety is not a one-and-done topic. (Really, nothing is a one-and-done topic!)

To teach safety to preschoolers, you should have ongoing conversations, practices, and learning.

Remember these important items:

  • Young children don’t know what you instinctively know by now. You know you need to point scissors down when you walk, and you know you should walk slowly when carrying a hot drink. But your child doesn’t know this. Remember that you need to go back to basics.
  • Preschoolers don’t think about consequences of their behavior. They may climb up a wall without realizing they won’t be able to get down. This isn’t  wrong; they just live in the here-and-now. As you remember that, you can have patience for their impulsivity as you teach.
  • Preschool children don’t fully understand that their behavior affects others. They may not remember that they need to make sure nobody is at the bottom of the slide before they head down, because they’re thinking only about their own experience. This is normal.
  • Keep your rules and explanations short and clear. Your child won’t absorb a lecture. “We wear helmets when we ride bikes,” is short and to the point.

Safety Rules to Teach Your Preschooler

First, it’s important for your preschooler to understand what is and what is not an emergency. For example, they may feel frantic if they aren’t allowed to stay up late, but this isn’t a time for them to call 911.

Define emergencies: fire, car accidents, someone is choking, someone is having trouble breathing, someone is unconscious, or a crime is happening.

Be sensitive to your child’s imagination and fears, and don’t tell your child more than they need to know.

How to Call 911

Your child needs to understand three things about 911:

  1. It is for emergencies only
  2. How to actually call
  3. How to speak to the dispatcher

Let your child practice dialing 911 on a pretend phone, or a larger-than-life phone pad like we show in the image above.

Teach your child how to speak to the dispatcher. They will need to be able to tell the dispatcher:

  • Their address, or describe where they are
  • What has happened
  • Their name

Practice memorizing their address by putting it to a nursery rhyme song: “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Start” or “Mary Had a Little Lamb” often work.

Firefighters Aren’t Scary

A challenge for firefighters is that children often view them as scary strangers, leading them to hide in a dangerous situation.

Exposing your child to firefighters in a friendly way can help your child be willing to accept help if they are ever in a dangerous situation.

We invited the Draper City Fire Department to preschool to help the children associate positivity with firefighters. As a parent, you can visit the local fire station and look at pictures of firefighters in their full gear.

Help your child understand that even though the gear may make a firefighter look or sound scary, the person under the gear is there to help them.

Stop, Drop, and Roll

Teach your child to stop, drop, and roll if they ever have fire on their clothing or body. An easy way to do this is to actually do the actions.

By practicing, your child is making this idea more permanent in their minds. If they ever encounter this emergency, they will have an easier time remembering what to do.

In addition, teach your child to “stay low and go” in a fire. Remember our preschooler who taught her parents to get below the smoke? Practice this together, so it becomes an automatic reaction if needed. Remind your child to cover their face.

Street Safety

teach safety to preschoolers

Children are small and can be missed by motorists. Teach your child about street signs, like stop signs, stop lights, and crosswalks, so they understand what they should do when they encounter one.

Teach your child to stop, look, and listen any time they approach a street or driveway. And teach them to stop when their name is called.

Teach your child to stay near an adult when they are in a street or parking lot. In fact, a good rule is to hold hands when getting in and out of the car, and then again while walking through the street or parking lot.

When riding bikes, children should wear helmets and avoid riding in driveways or the street.

Safety at Home

First, do what you can to create an environment that keeps dangerous objects out of children’s reach.

Then, empower your child to know what to do when they encounter a dangerous object.

  • Teach them not to touch sharp things, but to ask an adult for help if one is in the way.
  • Point out electrical outlets, and teach your child not to put anything in them.
  • Walk around the house to show your child “hot zones”: the stove, curling irons, space heaters, toasters, the fireplace, etc. Tell your child not to touch these items.
  • Keep medicines out of reach, but be sure to tell your child not to eat or drink any medicine, even if it looks like candy. Additionally, teach your child not to eat candy without first talking to a grownup. Explain that many things look like candy that actually aren’t.

    Water Safety

    Never leave your child alone near any body of water (including the bath tub, wading pool, or activity bucket in the backyard).

    Further empower your child by teaching them water safety rules:

  • Never swim alone. It should always be a group activity.
  • Never play near water alone. They should find an adult if they want to play in a backyard with an unfenced pool.
  • If your child encounters a fenced pool, they should never climb the fence.
  • Wear appropriate life vests when participating in water activities.

Strangers

Teach your child they shouldn’t go anywhere with anyone unless their parents have personally told them it’s okay. If someone they don’t know approaches them, tell them to find a trusted adult.

Have your child find you before answering the door.

How to Teach Safety to Preschoolers Without a Lecture

Conversations about safety with your preschooler are great, and should be happening regularly. When you do, make sure you’re leaving time and space for your child to ask questions and share their feelings.

But help the subject of safety become more real to your child with these tips:

  • Encourage your child to dress up like community helpers who keep us safe, like firefighters, nurses, and doctors.
  • Give your child toy tools and props that safety workers use.

  • Let your child act out a rescue situation, like calling 911 when a stuffed animal is choking, or putting out pretend fires in the living room.
  • Take a walk or drive around the neighborhood, and point out all the signs and what they tell us to do. Create a sidewalk chalk path, and include those signs. Have your child ride their bike or take a walk, and follow the directions of the signs.
  • Read books about emergency helpers.

    At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we work to prepare children for all aspects of life. To learn more about how we teach, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

How to Get Your Preschooler to Open up After School

“How was preschool today?”

“Good.”

“What did you do?”

“I don’t remember.”

Does this conversation sound familiar? Getting your preschooler to open up after school can be a challenge!

The reason? Their brains are darting from idea to idea at rapid speed, and their working memory hasn’t fully developed yet. They may have LOVED when Miss Vicky led them on a hunt for the gingerbread man, but that was two hours ago. Plus, right now they’re distracted by something they see out the window.

But you (naturally!) want to know what your child did at school, and you want to know how they felt about it all. And it’s actually good for your preschooler’s brain if you do ask them to open up about their day. Revisiting their day helps their brain to develop while making important connections in their life.

So how can you get your preschooler to open up after preschool? Try these seven tell-me-about-your day tips.

Check Your Questions

It’s natural to say, “How was your day?” And there’s nothing wrong with this question. But if you want your preschooler to open up, try to ask fewer questions that prompt only one-word answers. Questions like, “Did you have fun?” or “Did you have a good day?” don’t invite your child to revisit their day and think about something to share.

Instead of “Did you have fun?”, try, “What was the most fun part of your day?” This will help you get more information, while also helping your child build their memory and communication skills.

Become Familiar with the Preschool Schedule

how to get your preschooler to open up

The more you know about what goes on at preschool each day, the more you can get your preschooler to open up. Use what you know to form your questions.

For example, if you know the preschool does show-and-tell every day, you can ask who brought an item, what it was, and what the child said about that item.

Use the teachers’ names, and ask questions about what they did during different subjects. “What kind of wiggly activity did you do in Miss Kris’ movement class today?”

What other routines or traditions happen at your child’s preschool? At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we have a special puppet named Tiki who introduces our character traits. Ask your child, “What did Tiki teach you?”

Use the 5 Ws

how to get your preschooler to open up

Help your child think back over their day by asking specific questions that ask them to recall details.

The 5Ws are a helpful guideline in this:

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why

Who did you sit next to at snack time? What art project did you work on today? When did you feel excited today? Where did you play during free time? Why did you get in the car with a smile/frown?

You can also add how questions: How did you feel during playtime? How were you friendly/silly/curious today? How did you solve a problem today?

Be Fun

how to get your preschooler to open up

Get your preschooler to open up by being fun or silly.

“Today, I wished a unicorn would knock on the door. It didn’t happen, but I did get a fun package. What silly thing did you wish for today?”

“I’m sure you did nothing today! You sat on the floor and stared at the wall, right?” If your child is in a playful mood, this might prompt responses like, “Noooo! I played with Emma! We were firefighters and we saved all the ponies!”

Take Your Time

Some kids are ready to share all the details of their day as soon as they get in the car, but some kids need time to decompress. And even chatty kids will have days when they need some time.

Gauge your child’s engagement, and if they need some time, wait. Try again when you’re both eating a snack together, driving to an after-school activity, eating dinner, or going to bed.

Get Your Preschooler to Open up by Showing How It’s Done

Start your conversation by sharing about your own day. Think of moments in your day that are relatable to your child’s day.

For example, “I had an orange for a snack.” Or, “I had a good time talking with my best friend today.” Or, “I felt frustrated today, and I helped myself feel better by taking deep breaths.”

Sometimes your child might take your cue, and offer up a similar tidbit from their day. Or you can then ask your child a similar question. “What did you have for snack today? What did you do with your friend today?”

Change the Scenery

Pay attention to when — and where — your child opens up about their day. If they clam up in the car, they may still be decompressing. Or they may be distracted by what they see outside. Try asking about your child’s day at a more calm time, like at bedtime.

If they can’t answer your questions face-to-face at dinner time, they may prefer talking when you’re doing a side-by-side activity, like putting together a puzzle or going for a walk.

15 Questions to Get Your Preschooler to Open up After School

Add a few of these questions to your rotation, and see how it goes!

  1. What did your teacher say to you today?
  2. Who did you spend the most time with today?
  3. What was the best thing you did outside?
  4. What was the hardest thing you did inside?
  5. Why was (fill in the blank from their answer) so fun/hard?
  6. Where is your favorite place at preschool?
  7. What did you have for snack?
  8. Sing me a song your learned today.
  9. What was the worst thing that happened today?
  10. What made you smile today?
  11. Show me your artwork. Tell me about it.
  12. What made you laugh today?
  13. Show me something you did in your creative movement class.
  14. Tell me about something that made you sad today.
  15. Tell me about something you learned today. 

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we enjoy full days of learning, exploration, and fun. To learn more about how we teach music, art, reading, math, science, creative movement, social studies, and so much more, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

8 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress for Preschoolers

reduce holiday stress

Yes, preschoolers can get stressed out at the holidays too!

While adults are stressing about expenses, travel, obligations, overeating, and a full plate, preschoolers might be feeling the stress in the air. Not only that, kids can get over-stimulated by the busyness, the lights, the activities, the gatherings, and more.

Your child may react to stress by crying for small things, having meltdowns, withdrawing from family and friends, biting nails, and complaining of headaches and stomachaches.

If your child is already struggling, or if you’d like to avoid stress, follow these 8 tips to reduce holiday stress for preschoolers

1. Stick to Routines

As much as possible, try and keep your normal routines. Go to bed and wake up close to your normal times, and eat meals and snacks at normal times. If bedtime always includes a story and a song, don’t forego that routine now.

While events and traditions will understandably throw a wrench in your routine, keep things as close to your normal schedule as possible. This helps your child feel like they know what they can expect from moment to moment.

2. Tell Your Child Your Plans

Even when you try to follow your normal routine, many days will look drastically different than what your child is used to.

Help your child feel safe and secure with their day by letting them know what to expect. You can write a list or draw pictures, but even a verbal rundown of what to expect will be helpful.

Telling your child, “After dinner, we’ll wrap presents,” will avoid what could have been a meltdown when your child was expecting to watch TV. 

3. Remember, They’re Kids

A lot of what we expect during the holidays — long church services, extended visits with older relatives, hustling from store to store — can be too much for kids. When your child gets restless or even melts down, remember they’re being put in situations they wouldn’t have chosen.

4. Get Their Input

No doubt you have a long list of what you’d like to do this holiday season. You might even run yourself ragged wrapping all the gifts with the same paper, making 10 types of cookies, and hustling to dozens of events.

But check in with your kids first. What’s actually important to them? What do they picture when they think of the holidays? Even small children can tell you what they want to do this holiday season.

You may find that your to-do list can be shortened when you hear what’s really important to your family.

5. Let Them Help

Let your child be a part of preparations for your traditions. This will not only help them stay productive and less stressed, they’ll feel pride for contributing to the work that goes into a great celebration.

6. Let Them Vent

Things are not going to go well every second of the holiday season. When your child melts down or complains, don’t shush them or punish them. Let them feel their feelings. When they are validated, they can work through those feelings more productively and quickly.

7. Remember the Importance of Giving

Help your child forget so much about the “getting” part of the holidays by focusing on the giving. Donating to a local toy drive or local family is a great way to do this. But if that feels like one more thing on your to-do list, you can still teach the value of giving by helping your child get excited about the gifts they’re giving to their family members.

Helpful tip: Instead of asking your child, “What do you want for the holidays?”, ask, “What are you giving for the holiday?”

8. Plan for Downtime

This is a hustle-bustle season. If you don’t plan to slow down and rest, it will be easy to skip that need altogether.

Schedule downtime each day so you and your child can rest your bodies and your minds. And take breaks if stress levels rise in anybody in the family.

Remember, this is a time of family connection. Downtime contributes to that important need.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we care about the emotional development and wellbeing of our students. To learn more about us, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

How to Help Your Child Develop Healthy Habits

child healthy habits

We’ve never been more aware of healthy habits, like proper handwashing, as we are now in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Other healthy habits — like buckling up, brushing teeth, choosing healthy food, exercising, and more — are still just as important.

Yet, these aren’t always easy to teach — after all, parents have a whole lot on their plates! The trick is to make healthy habits a part of your child’s routine, so they become automatic.

Small steps every day eventually build up to routine actions. Just take one step forward at a time, using these tips.

Model Good Behavior

Just like everything in parenting, when you set a good example, your child can see how to do a desired behavior.

Not only that, remember that if you’re asking your child to do something you aren’t willing to do, they won’t buy in to your ask!

For example, if you want your child to buckle up, make sure you always buckle your seatbelt as soon as you get in the car.

Teach Healthy Habits

child healthy habits

Before you can expect your child to manage healthy habits on their own, they need to know exactly what’s expected of them. Telling them to wash their hands, without first teaching the steps, may end with a child who only runs water on the tips of their fingers for a few seconds.

Stay by Their Side

As your child is learning how to develop healthy habits, like proper teeth brushing, make sure you’re close at hand. Eventually, you’ll be able to step away and trust that they can do it correctly. But while they’re learning, stay close so you can gently guide their attempts.

Stay Positive

child healthy habits

Remember, you want your child to develop healthy habits for their whole lifetime. So it’s important to make this process positive.

Keep mealtimes positive, where you all enjoy eating healthy foods. Exercise in fun ways that make everyone happy. Sing a silly song while you wash hands, or have a race to get buckled first. Buy a fun sticker for a bike helmet, so it’s fun for your child to wear it.

Don’t Reward with Food

Most of us understand from personal experience what it’s like to have an unhealthy relationship with food. Your child is going to get many mixed messages from advertising, but you can help them develop a healthier relationship with food right now by keeping food neutral.

Keep food out of rewards for good behavior or successes. Avoid calling food “bad” or “forbidden.” Don’t excessively control your child’s food habits by restricting or forcing. Rather, teach about healthy food and provide plenty of healthy options.

Make Healthy Choices a Family Affair

Think of ways you can all participate in healthy habits together. Parents have a strong influence on their children, and when you join in healthy activities together, you’ll create positive memories and a family culture of health.

Go for a family walk together, learn a new sport together, cook healthy meals together, make the grocery list together, and more.

7 Healthy Activities to Add to Your Family Culture

Adding one or two of these ideas to your family routine will help your family create a culture of healthy habits.

  1. Grow your own food. This could be a huge project in your backyard, or as simple as growing a few herbs on the windowsill. Don’t stress yourself out; just enjoy the process of planting, watching seeds grow, and harvesting your efforts together.
  2. Cook together. Some children are likely to try new foods they had a hand in preparing. Invite your child into the kitchen when you’re preparing a meal, and give them meal-prep tasks to do. 
  3. Invite your child to help with meal planning. Teach your child about the foundations of a healthy meal: protein, healthy vegetable, and healthy starch. Then have them look through cookbooks with you to find a meal that interests them. Have them write down the ingredients, and even take them grocery shopping.
  4. Sit down together for a meal. This gets trickier and trickier as children grow up. Don’t stress about having a perfect sit-down meal together. Just try to have the family all together for a meal as often as possible. Aiming for one meal together a day is helpful for some families.
  5. Instigate an active tradition in your family. Maybe you all go for a Sunday walk together. Perhaps Saturdays are for the park or a hike. Maybe Tuesday evenings are a perfect time for a family bike ride. An easy way to do this is to swap out one sedentary activity for something active. If both Friday and Saturday nights are movie nights, change one of them to a family sport night.
  6. Don’t forget your relationships. Healthy habits are more successful when people feel connected and loved. Spending positive time together in any activity helps your child feel safe and secure — and that’s a sure foundation for healthy habits in other areas of life.
  7. Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand. Make it easy for you and your child to make heathy choices by choosing healthy food for your pantry and fridge. Think: apples, bananas, grapes, berries, clementines, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, yogurt, cheese, hummus, whole wheat bread and tortillas, frozen fruits, granola, pretzels, salsa, popcorn, nuts, and raisins.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we teach healthy habits in a variety of ways — through practice, music, art, creative movement, and so much more.  To learn more about how we teach, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

Preschool Separation Anxiety in the Time of Covid

It’s been a whirlwind these past few months, and our youngest members of society are shouldering an awful lot. Your preschooler may have been suddenly pulled from preschool back in March when the pandemic began. They may have had to stop seeing friends, grandparents, and more. They may have had to stop their dance classes, sports, and other activities.

And all while the stress level of families went up. Many families have dealt with unemployment, working from home, sickness, and fear.

Little children have seen and experienced a lot.

Sending your child back to preschool this fall, where safe to do so, is a good idea. 85% of who you are as an adult was developed before you turned 6. A quality preschool education is important during normal times, and during the time of Covid, it becomes even more necessary.

At preschool, your child has the chance to develop emotional and social skills (even during Covid) in ways they can’t develop at home. Plus, they’ll benefit from exercise, play, routine, and learning a variety of subjects from trained teachers.

But your child may deal with more separation anxiety this year than other years. They’ve likely been at home with you for months. Even if you’ve been working from home, your child has grown accustomed to seeing you all day. Plus, the uncertainty of the last several months may have been upsetting.

This is no ordinary back-to-school.

Follow these tips to make the transition back to preschool an easier, happier one for your child.

Think Back to P.P. (Pre-Pandemic) Times

Before the pandemic, we all had routines. We had to leave the house at certain times of the day, which meant we needed to wake up at certain times of the day and follow certain routines. Bedtime was likely very structured.

Once shut-downs began, many of us relaxed our routines since there was no place to go. Bedtimes relaxed, we may have slept in more, and screens became more prevalent.

To be clear: There’s nothing to feel guilty about. This is just the reality. For now, think back to your schedule before the pandemic, and try to re-incorporate it.

Get to bed at the same time every night, wake up at the same time every day. Follow a getting-ready routine. Wean off the screens a bit.

Don’t worry about academics now. Just focus on getting back on a school routine. Your child’s teachers will handle the academics.

Walk Away

If you’ve been home all together since March, it might be upsetting for your child to be away from you. Begin now to help them separate from you by finding pockets in the day where you actually leave.

Leave the house to run an errand while someone else watches your child. Say goodbye, and when you get home, find your child to give them a hug. This will help them understand that when you leave, you come back.

Validate Feelings

preschool separation anxiety in the time of covid

Every feeling your child is having is valid. Let them know it’s okay to feel how they feel.

Once you’ve validated (and not before), talk to your child about how to cope with their feelings. If they get worried at school, what is something they can do? If they feel worried in the car, what is something they can do? Always reiterate that it’s okay to feel how they’re feeling, and that you can help them through it all.

Explain What’s Happening

It’s been a LONG time since school has been open. Make sure you’re clear with your child about what is going to happen. But keep it simple:

“I have loved being home with you, and now I’m also excited that you get to go enjoy preschool. You’ll get to make friends, and you’ll have a teacher who will take care of you and teach you important things.”

Stay positive. Be careful with your language. Don’t emphasize how much you’ll miss your preschooler. Don’t tell them about fun things you’ll be doing while they’re at school. Instead, focus on the positive of what they’re going to experience: “You get to go on a dinosaur dig today! You are so lucky! Preschool is so fun!”

Allow Your Child’s Teacher to Earn Their Trust

It can feel so hard to walk away, but remember that if YOU are in the vicinity, your child will always see you as the best option. This makes it difficult for your child’s teacher to build a relationship.

Trust your child’s teachers. They’re experts at engaging children in activities that make the transition from Mom or Dad to preschool a positive one. They’re also experts at loving children and helping them feel comfortable.

When your child feels safe and loved, they’ll join in the fun activities at preschool.

 Get a Goodbye Phrase Ready

preschool separation anxiety in the time of covid

Make parting from each other a cheerful event. Create a happy goodbye routine, and use it ahead of time.

Kids love rhymes and fun phrases. Try one of these: “See you later alligator.” “See you soon, baboon.” “TTFN” (Ta-ta for now).

Add a fist bump or blow a kiss to the routine to make it a friendly, positive connection.

Expect Bumps in the Road

Nobody has returned to school in the midst of a pandemic before. This is new territory for everyone. Expect your child to have behavioral challenges, and that way, you won’t be caught off guard.

Remember that children can’t always tell you what they’re feeling, but their behavior will send you a message if something is wrong. Connect with your child, talk to your child, and validate all feelings.

Give this process time. If, after about three weeks, your child is still struggling with separation anxiety, talk to the teachers about allowing your child to bring a comfort object with them to school.

 

Remember Yourself

It might be hard to send your preschooler back to school. Along with the normal emotions of watching your child grow up, you’re now raising your precious child in an uncertain time. If this is jarring or upsetting, you’re not alone.

So take care of yourself. Rely on a support system, get enough sleep, exercise, eat healthy, and take time for yourself. And remember: all your feelings are valid too.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we understand the special challenges of this time. We’re taking precautions to keep our staff and students safe, and we’re committed to continuing to provide the best preschool education in Utah.

We understand separation anxiety, and that’s why we distribute a special book, video, calendar, and tips to help you get your child ready for this big transition. Your child is strong, and you are too. And we’re here to help every step of the way.

To learn more about us, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

How to Ease Your Child’s Anxiety During the Pandemic

We’ve never encountered a time like this. We’ve never lived in a world where schools have been closed indefinitely, where children can’t play at playgrounds or with friends, where all trips are canceled, where grocery store shelves are empty, and where people are walking around wearing masks.

Sure, we may have experienced school closure for a snow day or empty store shelves due to a natural disaster. We may have seen a few people wearing masks in public when they’ve been sick. But we’ve never experienced all of this together — and never for such an extend period of time.

If your children are struggling, it makes sense.

If you’re struggling, it makes sense.

And while you can’t control what’s happening out there in the world, there’s a whole lot you can control in your home environment. If your children are anxious or worried, follow these suggestions to ease your child’s anxiety during this pandemic.

Share Correct, Age-Appropriate Information

When children don’t understand what’s going on, their brains fill in the blanks with their own misinformation. To avoid your child coming up with worrisome ideas about the pandemic, have clear, age-appropriate conversations about the facts.

For preschoolers, you can keep this brief. Too many details may cause more concern than assurance. Be sure to address their concerns with simple facts.

Don’t tell them it’s no big deal, or they don’t need to worry about it. This only feeds their worry and causes them to create their own imaginative explanation in their mind.

Monitor Incoming Information

ease your child's anxiety pandemic

Be mindful of what your child is being exposed to on TV, in your conversations on Zoom, and on your social media feed when they’re peeking over your shoulder.

It’s your job to be your child’s filter right now. Don’t let them be exposed to too much negative information about the pandemic and its effects on the world. Repeated cycles of Coronavirus news is overwhelming for children.

Manage Your Own Anxiety

It’s perfectly understandable if your own anxiety levels are skyrocketing. But leaving your anxieties untended is not only bad for your own mental health, it will affect your children too.

Manage your anxiety by speaking with a therapist, using coping techniques, practicing mindfulness and gratitude, and more.

Remove anxiety language from your speech. Words like panic, fear, crisis, death, and more don’t need to feature into your daily language. Instead, you can use words like precautions, help, safety, and protection.

Be sure not to muse aloud about your own fears to your child.

Focus on the Giving Part of the Pandemic

Staying at home is a safe measure your child can take to protect vulnerable people in our country. Remind them they are doing a good thing for others by staying home from preschool, skipping visits with Grandma, and avoiding playgrounds.

At the same time, don’t shame them if they feel real loss. Acknowledge this is hard, and remind them this is a temporary thing.

Find the Positive

ease your child's anxiety during the pandemic

While this is a hard time, it’s not all bad. And more than anyone, children can see the positive of quarantine. Now, there might be more time to be together as a family. There might be more time to play in the backyard. They might improve a skill, like bike-riding or rollerskating.

Be sure to speak about the things you’re grateful for during this time; the special opportunities you’re getting at home.

Follow a Structure

Have you ever marveled at how a preschool teacher can keep a dozen or more children on task together? Structure is one key element in keeping children focused and moving forward without push back.

When your child knows what to expect throughout the day, they can mentally prepare themselves for the next step. They can also move from some tasks on autopilot on their own, reducing the space and time for fights.

Try and do basic things in the same order each day — morning routines involving making the bed, brushing teeth, getting dressed, etc. are a helpful place to start.

Post your routine somewhere your child can see and reference. Use pictures or symbols to help them easily grasp the steps.

And remember that it’s okay to be flexible when you need to be.

Spend Quality Time Together

Being at home together does not automatically translate into quality time together. Make it a point to spend connected, quality time together — reading a story, playing a game, going for a walk, exercising together, etc. If you need to schedule it into your day to make sure it happens, go for it!

You don’t have to make every minute of the day a minute of quality time. Just make sure you’re spending some real time together on a regular basis.

Practice Mindfulness

There’s never been a better time to learn some new mindfulness techniques! Give yourself and your children the gift of slowing down and boosting your emotional health.

Trust Your Child to Do What They Can Do

ease your child's anxiety

Keep encouraging your child to develop new skills and responsibilities. If your child can do something themselves, let them.

They can clean up after themselves before moving onto a new activity. They can press start on the microwave when you make popcorn. They can fold laundry or put it in their drawers.

Let your child do what they can do. Being responsible will help them feel more secure during this time.

{How to Teach Your  Preschooler Responsibility

Be Compassionate

When you or your child melts down (because it will happen!), be compassionate. This is hard, and we all deserve a hug and second (or third or fourth…) chances.

Compassion will not only help your child feel safe and loved, it will improve your own emotional well-being too.

Hang in there! You’re doing good work, parents!

To learn more about UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

How to Teach Your Preschooler Responsibility

how to teach your preschooler responsibility

We all want our children to grow into responsible adults who are capable of handling their problems, maintaining their homes, caring for their future families, and doing good work in their jobs.

But that’s a long way off, and there’s a lot to do before you get there!

Don’t stress. Teaching responsibility comes little by little. See responsibility as a joyful development for your child, and you’ll be able to teach it step by step.

Begin Young

Don’t wait until your child is a teenager to expect them to take responsibility around the house and in their life. Begin when they are small — right now — and expect that this is a skill they can learn.

Teach Them

Just like you shouldn’t wait until your child is a teenager to take on responsibilities, don’t throw them into something now without taking the time to teach them what to do.

Don’t say, “Dust the living room” without first showing them the steps to take. And remember — they may need you to teach them again and again. It could take several tries over several weeks or months. But keep at it. Little by little, your child will learn the skills they need to be more responsible.

Set Them up for Success

How can your child best succeed at developing responsibility?

One way is to use routines to help your child take responsibility throughout their day. If they have a morning routine that follows the same pattern each day, it will be much easier for them to be responsible in each step: brushing teeth, making their bed, cleaning up breakfast dishes, etc.

Another is to give second (and third, and fourth, and…) chances. If they forget to bring in their toys after playing outside, don’t punish them. Instead, help them remember. “Oh, it looks like your toys are still outside. I’m worried they’ll get ruined by the rain/sprinklers/dog. Let’s go get them.”

Look for ways to help you child succeed, not for ways to punish if they fail.

Model Responsibility

Let your child see you taking responsibility. As you take responsibility over certain tasks each day, narrate what you’re doing. “Now that we finished the movie, we put away the blankets.” Those “we” statements, accompanied by your action, will help your child see  what it means to take responsibility over their actions.

Modeling doesn’t mean you always have to put on a cheerful face and act like you love doing everything you’re responsible for. Sometimes, letting your child see that you don’t enjoy the task, but you do it anyway, can teach a valuable lesson.

For example, you can say, “I really don’t feel like doing the dishes now, but if I don’t clean up, the food will harden on the dishes and it will become difficult to do later. Plus, I’m really looking forward to a clean kitchen, so I can have time to play with you!”

Have Your Child Help You

Invite your child into your daily chores. When you’re sweeping the kitchen, ask them to grab the dust pan. When you’re folding laundry, have them sort socks. The point is to help them understand that they can contribute to the household — they are valued and appreciated.

When a child feels valued, they take more ownership of responsibilities.

Help Your Child

how to teach your preschooler responsibility

When you’re a kid, it’s lonely and overwhelming to be sent to do a task on your own. You might not know where to start. You might not know how to do the task alone.

If your child is refusing to take responsibility for something, look at them through this forgiving mindset, and realize that maybe they just need help this time. Remember: your child learns responsibility bit by bit, and it’s okay for you to be a part of the process.

Catch Them in the Act

Nobody likes when their efforts go unnoticed. When you see your child taking responsibility for something — maybe they put their shoes away without being asked; maybe they helped a younger sibling reach a snack — point it out.

“Thank you for taking responsibility for your shoes!”

“Wow, I really appreciate it when you are responsible and look for ways to help your sibling!”

Teach Problem Solving

Try not to give orders or rush to solve your child’s problems. When going through your evening routine, instead of telling your child to get pajamas on and brush their teeth, you could ask them what comes next in their routine.

When your child spills crackers on the floor, instead of telling them how to clean them up (or doing it yourself), ask your child how this problem can be solved. Be prepared to help, but first get your child’s input.

{7 Crucial Steps to Help Your Child Become a Problem Solver}

Avoid Criticizing

Learning responsibility is a process. Your child won’t remember to manage all aspects of their life every day. They won’t make their bed perfectly. They’ll forget to throw their fruit snack wrapper away sometimes.

Don’t criticize. Keep modeling, teaching, reminding, and showing appreciation. Little by little, they’ll take more and more ownership.

To learn more about UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

Why Your Preschooler Tells Lies – and What to Do About It

why preschoolers lie

why preschoolers lie

You walk into the living room, and notice your child has colored all over the walls with marker. They even signed their name.

“Did you color on the wall?” you ask.

When your child denies she did it, you’re flabbergasted. Obviously, she colored on the walls. The evidence is right in front of you, signed in her scrawly letters. WHY is she lying? What does this say about her character? Does this mean she’s destined for a life of hard crime and prison time?

First of all, slow waaaay down. Don’t spiral.

Now take a deep breath.

All kids lie. It’s actually developmentally normal.

So if your child is lying, it’s as normal as when they started learning how to walk, as normal as when they started learning to feed themselves, and as normal as when they began stringing words together in sentences.

The important part in this stage of their normal development is what you do about the lies. The way you respond, teach, and model honesty will help determine how your child grasps — and practices and hones — honesty.

Why Do Preschoolers Lie?

It’s helpful to know that your preschooler is not morally deficient when they lie. They aren’t manipulating you, and they aren’t maladjusted. They lie for reasons that actually make a lot of sense when you think about it.

At 2, 3, 4, and 5 years old, it’s still difficult to distinguish between reality and fantasy. They believe the magic in stories, and sometimes that magical thinking seeps into their lives. When they retell a scene from their day at the park, they might bring in fanciful, untrue details, but they aren’t doing it to be dishonest. They’re just still learning how to grasp reality.

Preschoolers also experience wishful thinking, especially if they’ve done something wrong. If they hit their brother, they likely know they shouldn’t have done that. Maybe they really wish they hadn’t broken the rule or hurt someone they loved, and so they make up a better story: a giant came in and hit their brother, it’s actually their brother’s fault, they didn’t know it was bad to hit, etc. This wishful thinking deflects from what they did, so they don’t have to face the truth.

Sometimes, preschoolers are confused. Or they don’t remember details correctly. Maybe they did eat all the cookies left on the counter, but it happened a couple hours ago, and the details are now fuzzy. Maybe they did cut their hair, but in the moment, they were just curious — they didn’t really think about it or register what they were doing.

Sometimes, they’re terrified. They know they did something wrong, and they know they’ll be in trouble or will experience an adult’s anger. So they quickly try to get out of that feeling of terror by explaining away what they did.

Of course, as parents, you know you can’t let these untruths persist. But knowing why your preschooler might be lying will give you empathy and understanding.

Your child isn’t bad. They’re just learning. Here’s how to teach your preschooler to be honest.

1. Model Honesty

If you’re lying, your child is going to learn it’s okay. So check yourself. Do you tell full truths, or do you fudge the truth from time to time? It’s easier to say you’re busy and can’t attend a meeting than it is to say you’re not interested. But unfortunately, it isn’t honest.

If your child observes you making the choice to be dishonest in some situations but not others, it sends a mixed message.

2. Keep Your Emotions in Check When Your Child Messes up

If you freak out about something your child did, they’ll be more likely to try and cover it up with a lie. And if you get angry about the lie, they’ll struggle to learn from their behavior.

Instead, stay calm. Use a two-step approach:

1. Observe what has happened without judgment
2. Ask your child to make amends

What does this look like?

In our example of coloring on the walls, remain calm. Observe what your child has done. “It looks like you colored on the walls.”

Ask your child to make amends. “That ruins the walls. Let’s clean it up.”

Keep it calm and straightforward.

why do preschoolers lie

3. Set Them up for Success with Honesty

Often, parents fall into the trap of trying to catch their child in a lie. But this is unfair, especially when your child is still learning what honesty is all about.

When you see that your child cut his hair, don’t ask, “Did you cut your hair?”

This will prompt your child to give a self-preserving knee-jerk response that will likely be a lie. He doesn’t want to experience your anger, and the question suggests he may have a way out. Who wouldn’t grab a way out when faced with anger?

Instead, set him up for success to tell the truth. Say, “It looks like you cut your hair. This is a problem. How can we fix it?”

{7 Crucial Steps to Help Your Preschooler to Be a Problem Solver}

Remember: don’t aim to catch them in a lie. This pushes them to dig their hole deeper, and it sets the two of you up to be enemies.

4. Give Them Additional Chances

When your child lies, don’t call them a liar and punish the lie. Give them a chance to tell the truth. Remember: you’re not trying to catch them; you’re trying to teach and help them. If they ran out into the street without looking, you would take them to the curb, show them how to look both ways, take their hand and walk again — safely this time. You’d give them a second chance to learn the desired behavior because it’s critical they know that skill.

Do the same with lying. Lovingly give them additional chances to do it right. If they tell you they brushed their teeth when they didn’t, say, “Hmm… it looks like your memory might be mixed up. Let’s try that again.” Or, “I think you got so excited you might have told me something that isn’t true. That’s okay. You can try again.”

why your preschooler tells lies

4. Give Them Language to Use

Practice language that can help them be truthful. For example, if your child tends to tell fanciful tales as if they were truths, say, “What a great story.” Eventually, they will learn to distinguish when they are telling a story and when they are telling something truthful.

If they regret something they did and tell a lie, say to them, “You really wish you didn’t spill the orange juice, don’t you?”

5. Thank Them for Honesty

When your child does tell the truth, tell them, “I’m glad you told me the truth.” You can even say, “I could tell it was hard for you to tell me the truth, but you chose to be honest.” Over time, your child will come to understand that honesty is the best way forward.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we regularly teach character traits like honesty in our nurturing, positive environment. To learn more or schedule a tour of our preschool, give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or contact us online.

7 Crucial Steps to Help Your Preschooler Become a Problem Solver

One of the most important aspects of a successful life — at any stage — is having the ability to solve problems. Every day, we have to think on our feet, make adjustments, and move forward.

It’s important that we take the time to nurture a problem-solving ability in our children. Most of us know and understand this on an intellectual level — we know our children will be on their own one day, and will have to solve their own problems. But when it comes down to daily practice, we’re often guilty of stepping in too soon, underestimating our children, and removing chances for growth by solving their problems for them.

  • This may look like quickly getting a new cup of milk for our child after he’s spilled his first — instead of involving him in solving the problem.
  • It may look like inflicting consequences when our child won’t share — instead of involving her in a solution.
  • It may look like carrying all the things from our child’s hands when they have too much — instead of asking them what their idea is to solve the problem.

It doesn’t mean we’re bad parents when we do this. In fact, we’re great parents! We’re efficient parents! We’re working hard to keep our day moving forward while keeping our children safe and happy.

But the ability to problem solve is a gift, and if we open our eyes to opportunities to teach and guide our children to solve their own problems, they will be able to use that gift in all areas of their life.

The more we help our children be problem solvers, the less frustrated they’ll be when they encounter a challenge. They’ll be less likely to give up when faced by obstacles, and they’ll learn how to manage their emotions. They’ll also develop creative thinking abilities and persistence.

These benefits are worth the extra time it takes to guide our children to become problem solvers.

This is how we teach our preschool students to be problem solvers at UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah.

1. Guide Children to Solve Their Own Problems

When a child comes to us with a problem, we hand it right back to them!
But we don’t tell them it’s their problem and walk away. We stay by their side, and guide them through the problem-solving process.
It may look like this:
Child: “Johnny took the dinosaur.”
Teacher: “Oh, did you like that?” Or, “Is that okay with you?”
Child: “No.”  
Teacher: “This sounds like a problem. It is a good thing you are a problem solver! Did you tell Johnny you didn’t like it?”
Child: “No.”
Teacher: “How do you think you could help Johnny know you didn’t like it?” Or, “What are you going to do about it?” 
At this point you may get a few different answers. Maybe your child will say she doesn’t know, maybe she will think to use her words, or maybe something else.
If your child comes up with a solution, like using her words, tell her that’s a great idea and support her as she carries it out.
If your child can’t come up with a solution, offer suggestions and discuss the potential outcomes of each choice. This may take some time, but it is worth the effort.
It’s far simpler to take the problem into your own hands and solve it by telling Johnny that “we don’t take toys.” And while your child might be happy with the immediate result, she won’t feel empowered. She also won’t know how to solve her problem the next time.
The next step walks you through how to continue to guide your child.
preschool problem solver

2. Show Confidence in Your Child’s Problem-Solving Abilities

Remember that Johnny took your child’s toy. While your child may have come up with a solution to use her words to talk to Johnny, that doesn’t mean everything is going to go smoothly at this point. Stay in the game, and continue to offer guidance, while still showing confidence in your child’s problem-solving abilities.
It might look like this:
You help by getting Johnny’s attention. Say something like, “Johnny, please listen to Suzi’s words. She has something important she would like to say.”
You can then turn to your child.
Your child may or may not verbalize her feelings. Help her out by saying something like, “Suzi, Johnny is listening to hear what you have to say.”
If she takes the reins and speaks for herself, great! Encourage her.
If she doesn’t, you can continue to guide. Say something like, “Did you like it when Johnny took the dinosaur from your hands?”
She’ll most likely say no.
You can then ask Johnny if he would like it if a friend took something from his hands.
He will most likely say no.
At this point, the problem is identified and clear for everyone.
Now you can again put the problem back in the children’s hands. Say, “You are both kind friends. What do you think we can do to solve this problem?”
Allow them both to come up with ideas, and stay with them to coach them if they still need it.
3. Show Pride and Joy in Their Problem-Solving Skills
Praise your child when he comes up with ideas to solve a problem. Use the phrase “problem-solver” so he comes to understand the skill he is developing. “You are a problem-solver!” followed by a hug or high-five is a great reinforcement for the hard work your child is doing.

4. Model Problem-Solving

Your behavior is often your child’s best teacher. Use your problems as a chance to model problem-solving to your child. Often, we solve problems in our head, and our children don’t see the process we’re going through.

When you can, think out loud so your child can see your problem-solving process. Say, “I forgot I scheduled a doctor’s appointment during your dance class. This is a problem. I think I will solve it by calling the doctor to see if I can reschedule.”

Sometimes you won’t be able to solve a problem immediately, and it’s okay to let your child see that. You can say, “I’m frustrated about this problem, and my problem-solving ideas haven’t worked yet. I’ll keep trying.”

5. Encourage Creative Play

Did you know creative play helps build problem-solving skills? When your child is playing hot lava, he has to figure out how to get from the couch to the pillow on the floor without touching the carpet. When your child is building with blocks, she has to figure out how to keep her tower from falling over again.

And just watch two kids play pretend together. They’ll invent dozens of problems they have to solve, and their solutions will be so creative! Practicing this skill in pretend play helps your child use it in the real world.

6. Allow for Failure

Don’t expect perfection. Don’t expect each problem to be solved the way everyone wants. It’s okay if things don’t go according to plan. Being okay with failure lets your child feel free to learn and try new solutions.

7. Read Problem-Solving Books

Read about characters struggling with problems and finding solutions. These are some of our favorite problem-solving books for preschool-aged children:

“I Got This!”- Steve Herman
“Can I Play Too?” Mo Willems
“Talk and Work it Out”- Cheri J Meiners
“Share and Take Turns” Cheri J Meiners
“What do You Do WIth a Problem?”- Kobi Yamada
“I Can Handle It” by Lauri Wright 

Everything we do at UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah is carefully thought out. We actively and formally teach problem-solving skills, and look for organic opportunities to help our children naturally develop those skills. To learn more or schedule a tour of our preschool, give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or contact us online.