Set Your Child Up for Success by Teaching Healthy Boundaries

As a parent, you may have wondered how best to help your children learn to make positive choices. One way to set your children up for success is to establish strong boundaries in your home.

It’s essential to begin instructing your children about boundaries between themselves and others very early on in their childhood. A child who grows up in a home where healthy limits are well established will learn to apply such boundaries in his or her own life, thus developing better self-control and the capacity to make positive choices.

What Does “Boundary” mean?

A boundary signifies a limit that a person has for themselves. Limits that people set can be physical or emotional boundaries.

1. Physical boundaries. This limit can be physical and tangible, such as one’s own body parts. This involves explaining to a child that his body belongs only to himself and that nobody else teaches him to develop a sense of his physical self. Explaining, “Daddy’s body belongs to him” and “Your body belongs to you” is a good place to start.

2. Emotional boundaries. Another type of boundary is more emotional than physical. Teaching children that it’s not okay to say hurtful things to others is an example of an emotional boundary. Teasing would be another way of crossing a person’s emotional boundaries.

In a sense, boundaries are rules that you live by. Living with boundaries basically means, “I won’t do anything to harm you” and “I expect you not to do anything to harm me, but if you do, I’ll let you know.”

Teaching Boundaries:
When you’re raising kids to have healthy boundaries, it’s important to allow your children to have and express their own feelings. This one can be pretty tough as it isn’t unusual for some parents to try to suppress a child’s healthy behavioral expression.
For example, if a 4-year-old starts crying and stomps her feet, what would you do as a parent? One healthy strategy to ensure your 4-year-old develops healthy boundaries is to help her label her feelings. Say something like, “I see that you’re frustrated that you can’t have the candy right now. Maybe you can have some candy after dinner.” Then, move on with life.

You helped her to label her emotions. You chose not to punish her or demand that she stop crying or “Straighten up right now.” As a parent, you just showed acceptance of your child’s feelings. Each time you behave this way as a parent, you’re reinforcing your child’s natural sense of self and boundaries.

Another example is a two or three-year who throws a toy at their sibling. Again, tell your child that it’s okay to have and express angry feelings, but it’s not okay to throw a toy at others. During the episode, show no feelings. When you’re establishing boundaries, it’s time to be diplomatic. Be firm, but not frustrated or angry.

Simply state, “It’s not okay to throw a toy at your brother. When you throw a toy, you have to sit in a chair,” and say nothing more until the minutes have passed. Have your child sit in a chair for the number of minutes that matches their age (if they’re two years old, they sit for 2 minutes; 3 years old, 3 minutes).

After the time is up, thank your child for sitting in the chair and go on with your day. Hopefully, your child will not throw a toy again. Instead, he or she will see that you allowed them to have and show feelings without negative consequences, as long as they stayed within your boundary.

Expect your children to occasionally “test the limit,” or challenge your boundary–this is completely normal. When these testing behaviors occur, think of each situation as an opportunity to show your kids the consequences of crossing the line.

Sometimes, there will be situations when you find it prudent to explain some boundary situations or “rules” to your child. For example, telling your child that no one but a doctor when Mom or Dad is also present should touch your child where their bathing suit fits is an effective way to teach limits and boundaries related to his or her own body.

Modeling Boundaries

Ultimately, the single best way to teach children healthy boundaries is for parents to have healthy boundaries themselves and to model them in the home.

Showing respect for each person in the house, ensuring everyone has rights to their feelings and appropriate expressions of them, as well as talking openly and honestly about any challenging issues demonstrate healthy boundaries for children.

From the time your children are born, you’re charged to teach them many things so they’ll grow up to make positive choices in life. Help create happier, healthier lives for your kids by teaching your children about limits and boundaries.

Parents who ensure their kids grow up learning about limits and boundaries provide a solid foundation for their children’s futures. Apply some of these methods in your home to teach your kids about having and maintaining healthy limits and boundaries, and your kids will thrive.

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    Parenting/Child Development Series – 3-5 yrs

    Preschoolers (3-5 years of age)
    Developmental Milestones
    Skills such as naming colors, showing affection, and hopping on one foot are called developmental milestones. Developmental milestones are things most children can do by a certain age. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, behave, and move (like crawling, walking, or jumping).

    As children grow into early childhood, their world will begin to open up. They will become more independent and begin to focus more on adults and children outside of the family. They will want to explore and ask about the things around them even more. Their interactions with family and those around them will help to shape their personality and their own ways of thinking and moving. During this stage, children should be able to ride a tricycle, use safety scissors, notice a difference between girls and boys, help to dress and undress themselves, play with other children, recall part of a story, and sing a song.

    For more details on developmental milestones, warning signs of possible developmental delays, and information on how to help your child’s development, visit the “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign website. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/index.html

    Positive Parenting Tips

    Following are some things you, as a parent, can do to help your preschooler during this time:

    • Continue to read to your child. Nurture her love for books by taking her to the library or bookstore.
    • Let your child help with simple chores.
    • Encourage your child to play with other children. This helps him to learn the value of sharing and friendship.
    • Be clear and consistent when disciplining your child. Explain and show the behavior that you expect from her. Whenever you tell her no, follow up with what he should be doing instead.
    • Help your child develop good language skills by speaking to him in complete sentences and using “grown up” words. Help him to use the correct words and phrases.
    • Help your child through the steps to solve problems when she is upset.
    • Give your child a limited number of simple choices (for example, deciding what to wear, when to play, and what to eat for snack).

    Child Safety First
    As your child becomes more independent and spends more time in the outside world, it is important that you and your
    child are aware of ways to stay safe. Here are a few tips to protect your child:

    • Tell your child why it is important to stay out of traffic. Tell him not to play in the street or run after stray balls.
    • Be cautious when letting your child ride her tricycle. Keep her on the sidewalk and away from the street and always have her wear a helmet.
    • Check outdoor playground equipment. Make sure there are no loose parts or sharp edges.
    • Watch your child at all times, especially when he is playing outside.
    • Be safe in the water. Teach your child to swim, but watch her at all times when she is in or around any body of water (this includes kiddie pools).
    • Teach your child how to be safe around strangers.
    • Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it will be time for him to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat of the vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has information on how to keep your child safe while riding in a vehicle.

    Healthy Bodies

    • Eat meals with your child whenever possible. Let your child see you enjoying fruits, vegetables, and whole grains at meals and snacks. Your child should eat and drink only a limited amount of food and beverages that contain added sugars, solid fats, or salt.
    • Limit screen time for your child to no more than 1 to 2 hours per day of quality programming, at home, school, or child care.
    • Provide your child with age-appropriate play equipment, like balls and plastic bats, but let your preschooler choose what to play. This makes moving and being active fun for your preschooler.

    A pdf of this document for reprinting is available free of charge from
    http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/positiveparenting/preschoolers.html

     

    Additional Information:
    http://www.cdc.gov/childdevelopment
    1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) http://www.cdc.gov/info

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      Parenting/Child Development Series – 6-8 yrs

      Middle Childhood (6-8 years of age)
      Developmental Milestones
      Middle childhood brings many changes in a child’s life. By this time, children can dress themselves, catch a ball more easily using only their hands, and tie their shoes. Having independence from family becomes more important now. Events such as starting school bring children this age into regular contact with the larger world. Friendships become more and more important. Physical, social, and mental skills develop quickly at this time. This is a critical time for children to develop confidence in all areas of life, such as through friends, schoolwork, and sports.

      Here is some information on how children develop during middle childhood:

      Emotional/Social Changes
      Children in this age group might:

      • Show more independence from parents and family.
      • Start to think about the future
      • Understand more about his or her place in the world.
      • Pay more attention to friendships and teamwork.
      • Want to be liked and accepted by friends.

      Thinking and Learning

      • Children in this age group might.
      • Show rapid development of mental skills.
      • Learn better ways to describe experiences and talk about thoughts and feelings.
      • Have less focus on one’s self and more concern for others.

      Positive Parenting Tips
      Following are some things you, as a parent, can do to help your child during this time:

      • Show affection for your child. Recognize her accomplishments.
      • Help your child develop a sense of responsibility—ask him to help with household tasks, such as setting the table.
      • Talk with your child about school, friends, and things she looks forward to in the future.
      • Talk with your child about respecting others. Encourage him to help people in need.
      • Help your child set her own achievable goals—she’ll learn to take pride in herself and rely less on approval or reward from others.
      • Help your child learn patience by letting others go first or by finishing a task before going out to play. Encourage him to think about possible consequences before acting.
      • Make clear rules and stick to them, such as how long your child can watch TV or when she has to go to bed. Be clear about what behavior is okay and what is not okay.\
      • Do fun things together as a family, such as playing games, reading, and going to events in your community. Positive Parenting Tips for Healthy Child Development
      • Get involved with your child’s school. Meet the teachers and staff and get to understand their learning goals and how you and the school can work together to help your child do well.
      • Continue reading to your child. As your child learns to read, take turns reading to each other.
      • Use discipline to guide and protect your child, rather than punishment to make him feel bad about himself. Follow up any discussion about what not to do with a discussion of what to do instead.
      • Praise your child for good behavior. It’s best to focus praise more on what your child does (“you worked hard to figure this out”) than on traits she can’t change (“you are smart”).
      • Support your child in taking on new challenges. Encourage her to solve problems, such as a disagreement with another child, on her own.
      • Encourage your child to join school and community groups, such as a team sports, or to take advantage of volunteer opportunities.

      Child Safety First
      More physical ability and more independence can put children at risk for injuries from falls and other accidents. Motor vehicle crashes are the most common cause of death from unintentional injury among children this age.

      • Protect your child properly in the car. For detailed information, see the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Car Safety Seats: A Guide for Families.
      • Teach your child to watch out for traffic and how to be safe when walking to school, riding a bike, and playing outside.
      • Make sure your child understands water safety, and always supervise her when she’s swimming or playing near water.
      • Supervise your child when he’s engaged in risky activities, such as climbing.
      • Talk with your child about how to ask for help when she needs it.
      • Keep potentially harmful household products, tools, equipment, and firearms out of your child’s reach.

      Healthy Bodies

      • Parents can help make schools healthier. Work with your child’s school to limit access to foods and drinks with added sugar, solid fat, and salt that can be purchased outside the school lunch program.
      • Make sure your child has 1 hour or more of physical activity each day.
      • Limit screen time for your child to no more than 1 to 2 hours per day of quality programming, at home, school, or afterschool care.
      • Practice healthy eating habits and physical activity early. Encourage active play, and be a role model by eating healthy at family mealtimes and having an active lifestyle.

      A pdf of this document for reprinting is available free of charge from
      http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/positiveparenting/middle.html

      Additional Information:
      http://www.cdc.gov/childdevelopment
      1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) http://www.cdc.gov/info

        Request a Complementary Consultation

        Parenting/Child Development Series – 9-11 yrs

        Middle Childhood (9-11 years of age)

        Developmental Milestones
        Your child’s growing independence from the family and interest in friends might be obvious by now. Healthy friendships are very important to your child’s development, but peer pressure can become strong during this time. Children who feel good about themselves are more able to resist negative peer pressure and make better choices for themselves. This is an important time for children to gain a sense of responsibility along with their growing independence. Also, physical changes of puberty might be showing by now, especially for girls. Another big change children need to prepare for during this time is starting middle or junior high school.

        Here is some information on how children develop during middle childhood:

        Emotional/Social Changes
        Children in this age group might:

        • Start to form stronger, more complex friendships and peer relationships. It becomes more emotionally important to have friends, especially of the same sex.
        • Experience more peer pressure.
        • Become more aware of his or her body as puberty approaches. Body image and eating problems sometimes start around this age.

        Thinking and Learning
        Children in this age group might:

        • Face more academic challenges at school.
        • Become more independent from the family.
        • Begin to see the point of view of others more clearly.
        • Have an increased attention span.

        Positive Parenting Tips
        Following are some things you, as a parent, can do to help your child during this time:

        • Spend time with your child. Talk with her about her friends, her accomplishments, and what challenges she will face.
        • Be involved with your child’s school. Go to school events; meet your child’s teachers.
        • Encourage your child to join school and community groups, such as a sports team, or to be a volunteer for a charity.
        • Help your child develop his own sense of right and wrong. Talk with him about risky things friends might pressure him to do, like smoking or dangerous physical dares.
        • Help your child develop a sense of responsibility—involve your child in household tasks like cleaning and cooking. Talk with your child about saving and spending money wisely.
        • Meet the families of your child’s friends.
        • Talk with your child about respecting others. Encourage her to help people in need. Talk with her about what to do when others are not kind or are disrespectful. Positive Parenting Tips for Healthy Child Development
        • Help your child set his own goals. Encourage him to think about skills and abilities he would like to have and about how to develop them.
        • Make clear rules and stick to them. Talk with your child about what you expect from her (behavior) when no adults are present. If you provide reasons for rules, it will help her to know what to do in most situations.
        • Use discipline to guide and protect your child, instead of punishment to make him feel badly about himself.
        • When using praise, help your child think about her own accomplishments. Saying “you must be proud of yourself” rather than simply “I’m proud of you” can encourage your child to make good choices when nobody is around to praise her.
        • Talk with your child about the normal physical and emotional changes of puberty.
        • Encourage your child to read every day. Talk with him about his homework.
        • Be affectionate and honest with your child, and do things together as a family.

        Child Safety First
        More independence and less adult supervision can put children at risk for injuries from falls and other accidents. Here
        are a few tips to help protect your child:

        • Protect your child in the car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that you keep your child in a booster seat until he is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat until he or she is 12 years of age because it’s safer there. Motor vehicle crashes are the most common cause of death from unintentional injury among children of this age.
        • Know where your child is and whether a responsible adult is present. Make plans with your child for when he will call you, where you can find him, and what time you expect him home.
        • Make sure your child wears a helmet when riding a bike or a skateboard or using inline skates; riding on a motorcycle, snowmobile, or all-terrain vehicle; or playing contact sports.
        • Many children get home from school before their parents get home from work. It is important to have clear rules and plans for your child when she is home alone.

        Healthy Bodies

        • Provide plenty of fruits and vegetables; limit foods high in solid fats, added sugars, or salt, and prepare healthier foods for family meals.
        • Keep television sets out of your child’s bedroom. Limit screen time, including computers and video games, to no more than 1 to 2 hours.
        • Encourage your child to participate in an hour a day of physical activities that are age appropriate and enjoyable and that offer variety! Just make sure your child is doing three types of activity: aerobic activity like running, muscle strengthening like climbing, and bone strengthening – like jumping rope – at least three days per week.

        A pdf of this document for reprinting is available free of charge from
        http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/positiveparenting/middle2.html
        Additional Information:
        http://www.cdc.gov/childdevelopment
        1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) http://www.cdc.gov/inf

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          Parenting/Child Development Series – 12-14 yrs

          Young Teens (12-14 years of age)
          Developmental Milestones

          This is a time of many physical, mental, emotional, and social changes. Hormones change as puberty begins. Most boys
          grow facial and pubic hair and their voices deepen. Most girls grow pubic hair and breasts, and start their period. They
          might be worried about these changes and how they are looked at by others. This also will be a time when your teen
          might face peer pressure to use alcohol, tobacco products, and drugs, and to have sex. Other challenges can be eating
          disorders, depression, and family problems. At this age, teens make more of their own choices about friends, sports,
          studying, and school. They become more independent, with their own personality and interests, although parents are
          still very important.
          Here is some information on how young teens develop:

          Emotional/Social Changes
          Children in this age group might:

          • Show more concern about body image, looks, and clothes.
          • Focus on themselves; going back and forth between high expectations and lack of confidence.
          • Experience more moodiness.
          • Show more interest in and influence by peer group.
          • Express less affection toward parents; sometimes might seem rude or short-tempered.
          • Feel stress from more challenging school work.
          • Develop eating problems.
          • Feel a lot of sadness or depression, which can lead to poor grades at school, alcohol or drug use, unsafe sex, and other problems.

          Thinking and Learning
          Children in this age group might:

          • Have more ability for complex thought.
          • Be better able to express feelings through talking.
          • Develop a stronger sense of right and wrong.

          Positive Parenting Tips
          Following are some things you, as a parent, can do to help your child during this time:

          • Be honest and direct with your teen when talking about sensitive subjects such as drugs, drinking, smoking, and sex.
          • Meet and get to know your teen’s friends.\
          • Show an interest in your teen’s school life.
          • Help your teen make healthy choices while encouraging him to make his own decisions.
          • Respect your teen’s opinions and take into account her thoughts and feelings. It is important that she knows you are listening to her.
          • When there is a conflict, be clear about goals and expectations (like getting good grades, keeping things clean, and showing respect), but allow your teen input on how to reach those goals (like when and how to study or clean).

          Child Safety First
          You play an important role in keeping your child safe―no matter how old he or she is. Here are a few tips to help
          protect your child:

          • Make sure your teen knows about the importance of wearing seatbelts. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 12- to 14-year-olds.
          • Encourage your teen to wear a helmet when riding a bike or a skateboard or using inline skates; riding on a motorcycle, snowmobile, or all-terrain vehicle; or playing contact sports. Injuries from sports and other activities are common.
          • Talk with your teen about the dangers of drugs, drinking, smoking, and risky sexual activity. Ask him what he knows and thinks about these issues, and share your thoughts and feelings with him. Listen to what she says and answer her questions honestly and directly.
          • Talk with your teen about the importance of having friends who are interested in positive activities. Encourage her to avoid peers who pressure her to make unhealthy choices.
          • Know where your teen is and whether an adult is present. Make plans with him for when he will call you, where you can find him, and what time you expect him home.
          • Set clear rules for your teen when she is home alone. Talk about such issues as having friends at the house, how to handle situations that can be dangerous (emergencies, fire, drugs, sex, etc.), and completing homework or household tasks.

          Healthy Bodies

          • Encourage your teen to be physically active. She might join a team sport or take up an individual sport. Helping with household tasks such as mowing the lawn, walking the dog, or washing the car also will keep your teen active.
          • Meal time is very important for families. Eating together helps teens make better choices about the foods they eat, promotes healthy weight, and gives your family members time to talk with each other.
          • Limit screen time for your child to no more than 1 to 2 hours per day of quality programming, at home, school, or afterschool care.

          A pdf of this document for reprinting is available free of charge from
          http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/positiveparenting/adolescence.html

          Additional Information:
          http://www.cdc.gov/childdevelopment
          1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) http://www.cdc.gov/info

            Request a Complementary Consultation

            Parenting/Child Development Series – 15-17 yrs

            Teenagers (15-17 years of age)
            Developmental Milestones
            This is a time of changes for how teenagers think, feel, and interact with others, and how their bodies grow. Most girls will be physically mature by now, and most will have completed puberty. Boys might still be maturing physically during this time. Your teen might have concerns about her body size, shape, or weight. Eating disorders also can be common, especially among girls. During this time, your teen is developing his unique personality and opinions. Relationships with friends are still important, yet your teen will have other interests as he develops a more clear sense of who he is. This is also an important time to prepare for more independence and responsibility; many teenagers start working, and many will be leaving home soon after high school.

            Here is some information on how teens develop:

            Emotional/Social Changes
            Children in this age group might:

            • Have more interest in romantic relationships and sexuality.
            • Go through less conflict with parents.
            • Show more independence from parents.
            • Have a deeper capacity for caring and sharing and for developing more intimate relationships.
            • Spend less time with parents and more time with friends.
            • Feel a lot of sadness or depression, which can lead to poor grades at school, alcohol or drug use, unsafe sex, and other problems.

            Thinking and Learning
            Children in this age group might:

            • Learn more defined work habits.
            • Show more concern about future school and work plans.
            • Be better able to give reasons for their own choices, including about what is right or wrong.

             

            Positive Parenting Tips
            Following are some things you, as a parent, can do to help your teen during this time:

            • Talk with your teen about her concerns and pay attention to any changes in her behavior. Ask her if she has had suicidal thoughts, particularly if she seems sad or depressed. Asking about suicidal thoughts will not cause her to have these thoughts, but it will let her know that you care about how she feels. Seek professional help if necessary.
            • Show interest in your teen’s school and extracurricular interests and activities and encourage him to become involved in activities such as sports, music, theater, and art.
            • Encourage your teen to volunteer and become involved in civic activities in her community.
            • Compliment your teen and celebrate his efforts and accomplishments.
            • Show affection for your teen. Spend time together doing things you enjoy.
            • Respect your teen’s opinion. Listen to her without playing down her concerns.
            • Encourage your teen to develop solutions to problems or conflicts. Help your teenager learn to make good decisions. Create opportunities for him to use his own judgment, and be available for advice and support.
            • If your teen engages in interactive internet media such as games, chat rooms, and instant messaging, encourage her to make good decisions about what she posts and the amount of time she spends on these activities.
            • If your teen works, use the opportunity to talk about expectations, responsibilities, and other ways of behaving respectfully in a public setting.
            • Talk with your teen and help him plan ahead for difficult or uncomfortable situations. Discuss what he can do if he is in a group and someone is using drugs or under pressure to have sex, or is offered a ride by someone who has been drinking.
            • Respect your teen’s need for privacy.
            • Encourage your teen to get enough sleep and exercise, and to eat healthy, balanced meals.
            • Encourage your teen to have meals with the family. Eating together will help your teen make better choices about the foods she eats, promote healthy weight, and give family members time to talk with each other. In addition, a teen who eats meals with the family is more likely to have better grades and less likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs. She is also less likely to get into fights, think about suicide, or engage in sexual activity.

            Child Safety First
            You play an important role in keeping your child safe―no matter how old he or she is. Here are a few tips to help protect your child:

            • Talk with your teen about the dangers of driving and how to be safe on the road. You can steer your teen in the right direction. CDC’s “Parents Are the Key” campaign has steps that can help. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death from unintentional injury among teens, yet few teens take measures to reduce their risk of injury.
            • Remind your teen to wear a helmet when riding a bike, motorcycle, or all-terrain vehicle. Unintentional injuries resulting from participation in sports and other activities are common.
            • Talk with your teen about suicide and pay attention to warning signs. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth 15 through 24 years of age.
            • Talk with your teen about the dangers of drugs, drinking, smoking, and risky sexual activity. Ask him what he knows and thinks about these issues, and share your feelings with him. Listen to what he says and answer his questions honestly and directly.
            • Discuss with your teen the importance of choosing friends who do not act in dangerous or unhealthy ways.
            • Know where your teen is and whether a responsible adult is present. Make plans with her for when she will call you, where you can find her, and what time you expect her home.

            A pdf of this document for reprinting is available free of charge from
            http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/positiveparenting/adolescence2.html

            Additional Information:
            http://www.cdc.gov/childdevelopment
            1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) http://www.cdc.gov/info

              Request a Complementary Consultation

              Social Cognition: Helping Your Child Understand People’s Thoughts and Feelings.

              What do we know?

              • “Social cognition” means being able to understand our own and others’ thoughts, desires, intentions, and feelings.
              • Children begin to develop social skills when they understand how people’s thoughts, desires, intentions, and feelings affect the way they act and behave.
              • Infants are born with an innate preference for social interactions. From birth, they pay the most attention to human faces and voices.
              • In the first months of life, infants are able to smile at people, and respond to others with gestures and facial expressions.
              • By the end of the first year, infants start to share interest and attention in objects with you, and may decide whether or not to try a new activity based on your expression. For example, your infant may not play with a new toy if you appear anxious or worried.
              • Around the age of two, toddlers distinguish a real object from a pretend object (ex. using a block as a telephone).
              • As they grow older, children become able to talk about what they and other people like, want, think or know (around age 3). They also understand that people express different emotions depending on the situation (ex. knowing that an individual is happy when he gets what he wants or sad if he does not).
              • Four-year-old children usually recognize that other people’s thoughts may differ from their own. They no longer believe that everyone knows what they know. This step in their development helps them to understand that their own thoughts do not always reflect reality.
              • Children who are able to control impulsive thoughts and behaviours are better able to develop social cognition.
              • Children who develop social cognition at a young age have the foundations for good social interactions before they start school.
              • School-aged children with a well developed social cognition have a tendency to be better at resolving conflicts with friends, which in turn can lead to more positive relationships with their peers. But equally these children may be better at deception and manipulation.
              • Social and cognitive understanding can have a positive impact on children’s later school success.

              Information
              This Key Message is a publication of the Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development (CEECD) and the Strategic Knowledge Cluster on Early Child Development (SKC-ECD). These organizations identify and summarize the best scientific work on early childhood development. They disseminate this knowledge to a variety of audiences in formats and languages adapted to their needs.

              For a more in-depth understanding of Social Cognition, consult our synthesis and Experts’ articles on this topic in the Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development, available free of charge at www.child-encyclopedia.com.

              Several funders financially support the CEECD and the SKC-ECD, including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Université Laval, and private foundations. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the official policies of these organizations.

              We are grateful to the Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon, the Margaret & Wallace McCain Family Foundation and the Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research for their financial contributions to produce this Key Message.

              Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development
              GRIP-Université de Montréal
              P.O. Box 6128, Succursale Centre-ville
              Montreal, Quebec H3C 3J7
              Telephone: 514.343.6111, extension 2541
              Fax: 514.343.6962
              E-mail: cedje-ceecd@umontreal.ca
              Website: www.excellence-earlychildhood.ca
              In this document, the masculine form is used to simplify the text. No discrimination is intended.

              http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/sites/default/files/docs/coups-oeil/social-cognition-info.pdf

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                Anxiety and Depression: Recognizing the Early Warning Signs

                What do we know?

                • It is normal for young children to sometimes feel afraid, shy or sad. However, for some children, these feelings last for a long time and can affect their development.
                • Emotional problems like anxiety and depression often happen at the same time. Both can be described as feelings of inner emotional distress.
                • It is more common for young children to have fears and anxieties than depression.
                • It is hard to detect symptoms of anxiety and depression in young children (unlike aggression and hyperactivity). If anxiety and depression are not noticed and addressed in the early years, they can lead to mental health problems later in life.  However, it is important to know that this only happens in a relatively small percent of children.
                • The children who are most likely to have emotional problems later in life are those who are behaviourally inhibited.
                • Toddlers and young children who are behaviourally inhibited appear very shy, tend to avoid social contacts and withdraw from unfamiliar situations.
                • Children usually first show signs of emotional problems when around other children.
                • Young children with anxiety and depression are often fearful, worried and nervous around other children. They rarely initiate contact and are at risk for being rejected or ignored by peers.
                • However, a positive peer relationship, such as having a best friend, can help protect anxious and depressed children against the negative consequences of emotional problems.
                • Children’s environment, including their parents’ behaviours, family conflicts and traumatic experiences, can also lead at risk children to develop anxiety and depression.
                • Parents can help protect children from later emotional problems by showing supporting guidance, allowing children to explore their environment, and by providing warm, sensitive and consistent response and discipline.

                Information
                This information sheet is a publication of the Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development (CEECD) and the Strategic Knowledge Cluster on Early Child Development (SKC-ECD). These organizations identify and summarize the best scientific work on early childhood development. They disseminate this knowledge to a variety of audiences in formats and languages adapted to their needs.

                For a more in-depth understanding of anxiety and depression, consult our synthesis and experts’ articles on this topic in the Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development, available free of charge at www.child-encyclopedia.com.

                Several organizations financially support the CEECD and the SKC-ECD, including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Université Laval, and private foundations. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the official policies of these organizations.

                We are grateful to The Lawson Foundation and the Margaret & Wallace McCain Family Foundation for their financial contribution to produce this information sheet.

                Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development
                Strategic Knowledge Cluster on Early Child Development

                Université de Montréal
                3050, Édouard-Montpetit Blvd., GRIP
                P.O. Box 6128, succursale Centre-ville
                Montreal, Quebec H3C 3J7
                Telephone: 514.343.6111, extension 2541
                Fax: 514.343.6962
                E-mail: cedje-ceecd@umontreal.ca
                Websites: www.excellence-earlychildhood.ca and www.skc-ecd.ca
                In this document, the masculine form is used merely to simplify the text. No discrimination is intended.

                http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/sites/default/files/docs/coups-oeil/anxiety-and-depression-in-children-info.pdf

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                  Discipline: How Much Is Enough?

                  What do we know?

                  • Discipline is what you do everyday–it is about teaching and guidance, not punishment.
                  • Discipline teaches children what is acceptable and what isn’t.
                  • Discipline that combines high levels of warmth and acceptance with firm control helps children to follow instructions, to respect rules, and to be attentive.
                  • Parents who establish clear rules and limits encourage the development of positive behaviours and attention in children. They also encourage children to explore their environment while respecting certain limits.
                  • Good discipline helps children develop their social skills (empathy, cooperation, problem-solving) and succeed in school.
                  • Children have a higher likelihood of developing behavioural problems when parents react with punishments or temper outbursts in face of misbehaviours.
                  • Attitudes toward discipline and control vary based on the social and cultural context.
                  • Too much parental control may limit children’s ability to make decisions for themselves and to express their needs to parents.
                  • In contrast, children who are allowed to do anything they want tend to have trouble distinguishing between what is acceptable and what is not. Poor parental supervision also increases the risk of injuries in young children.

                  Information
                  This information sheet is a publication of the Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development (CEECD) and the Strategic Knowledge Cluster on Early Child Development (SKC-ECD). These organizations identify and summarize the best scientific work on early childhood development. They disseminate this knowledge to a variety of audiences in formats and languages adapted to their needs.

                  For a more in-depth understanding of discipline, consult our topics Aggression and Parenting skills in the Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development, available free of charge at www.child-encyclopedia.com.

                  Several organizations financially support the CEECD and the SKC-ECD, including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Université Laval, and private foundations. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the official policies of these organizations.

                  We are grateful to the Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon for its financial contribution to produce this information sheet and to the Margaret & Wallace McCain Family Foundation for its financial support of this revised edition.

                  Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development
                  Strategic Knowledge Cluster on Early Child Development

                  Université de Montréal
                  3050, Édouard-Montpetit Blvd., GRIP
                  P.O. Box 6128, succursale Centre-ville
                  Montreal, Quebec H3C 3J7
                  Telephone: 514.343.6111, extension 2541
                  Fax: 514.343.6962
                  E-mail: cedje-ceecd@umontreal.ca
                  Websites: www.excellence-earlychildhood.ca and www.skc-ecd.ca
                  In this document, the masculine form is used merely to simplify the text. No discrimination is intended.

                  http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/sites/default/files/docs/coups-oeil/discipline-info.pdf

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                    About Childhood Grief

                    The death of a family member, friend or other significant person is a lifelong loss for children. It is normal for children to miss the person who died and to experience grief that might come and go with different levels of intensity for some time after the death. It can be challenging to parents and caregivers to know what to do for, what to say to and how to help children who are obviously hurting. Here are a few suggestions about how to be helpful to a grieving child based on research and practice among children’s grief support professionals and volunteers. It is important to note that grief reactions in children are varied, wide ranging and unique to each individual. The following suggestions will help guide you as you seek to be provide understanding and compassion to children living with grief.

                    Grief is a normal reaction for children to the death of someone significant. When children experience the death of a person who has played a significant role in their life, it is normal for children to struggle, whether the relationship with that person was caring and loving, or contentious and difficult. The absence of a person takes time to fully accept and even then, children may continue to miss them in their own special way. In truth, children never “get over” a person’s death, but they can learn to live with the reality. Grief is not a problem we are trying to fix for a child; it is an experience they are living. Mood changes or feelings of grief, even several years out from the event, are a common part of adapting to life without someone and to the changes that come with that person’s death. Children need adults to be patient with them as they adjust to these changes.

                    Children need to know the truth. Most parents and caregivers would agree that they would prefer that their children not have to deal with the difficult truths that might accompany a death. So, quite often we avoid words like “dead” or “die,” or we shade over the truth about how a person died in a desire to protect children. Unfortunately, in doing so, we often create other problems. Although it may be challenging to share the truth about how someone died, honest answers build trust, help provide understanding and allow children to feel comfortable approaching us with questions because they know they can trust us to tell them the truth. Children know more than we think they do and by not telling the truth, we risk leaving children to process complicated information on their own, rather than with the loving adults in their lives.

                    Each child’s grief is as unique to him or her as was their relationship with the deceased. Because of this, the way children experience and express their grief will vary for each person. Some children have a need to talk about the person who died and their feelings about it; others might not talk about the person at all; and even others, might express their grief through art, play, music or writing. In whatever way children might experience and respond to their grief, these expressions are how they are adapting to life without the physical presence of that person and adjusting to one of memories. It is important not to assume what children might be feeling about a person’s death. Reactions vary from sadness, anger, fear, guilt and even relief. It is important to listen to children, meet them on their terms and come to understand their unique grief reactions.

                    Grieving children often feel alone and misunderstood. Many well-meaning adults avoid talking about the deceased person in fear that doing so will exacerbate the grief children are experiencing. In doing so, children might feel as though talking about or even expressing their grief is not acceptable. Also, many children feel like they are the only person who has experienced the death of someone in their life, even though there might be other friends experiencing similar circumstances. It is helpful to children when the adults in their lives provide opportunities to acknowledge the grief everyone is feeling. It is also helpful when children are able to gather with peers grieving similar situations. When children feel understood by family and friends and when they have the opportunity to express their grief in their own unique way, they feel less alone and, in turn, fare better than they would otherwise.

                    Children will experience grief over the death of significant people at different times throughout their lives. Many times, intense feelings of grief will last longer and come more often than we think they should. In time, as children have opportunities to express their grief, tell their stories, share their memories and process what this death means to them, they might find the intense feelings come less often. But, grief is a lifelong journey and children often experience their grief on different levels and at different times throughout their lives. When a child gets their driver’s license, scores a touchdown, goes to prom or graduates from high school, they might revisit their grief in a very intense way. This extends into adulthood as well, when they have children of their own, or get married. Grief has no time limit. Allowing children to share openly about feelings can help to normalize this experience and help them find ways to deal with these powerful feelings that will come and go…and come back again throughout their lives.

                    Grieving children often experience personal growth as a result of their loss. Personal growth is often a by-product of going through the grief. It is important to note that personal growth does not diminish the sense of loss or grief a person feels, nor does it imply that someone’s death was a positive experience. Yet, many children have reported that they are more compassionate toward others, value relationships with friends and family on a new level or experience a greater sense of appreciation for life after the death of someone.

                    Grieving children feel less alone when they are with other children who have experienced the death of a significant person and when they have loving, consistent adults in their lives. Greater than any education, information or advice we can give to children who are grieving is to allow children who are grieving to connect with other children going through a similar experience. When children have the opportunity to interact with one another, they feel less alone. It is also important for children to have adults in their lives who provide a safe environment that is consistent, teaches resilience and encourages accountability, while allowing children the freedom to express their grief. Research has shown that one of the top indicators of how well children will do after the death of a significant person in their life is directly related to the type of relationship they have with the surviving adult(s) in their lives and how well these adults are able to cope with their own grief.

                    Knowledge is Power. You do not have to be alone as the parent or caregiver of a grieving child. There are many resources available via the internet and in the form of grief support for your child. You can find children’s grief support programs near you at www.ChildrenGrieve.org and you can find encouragement and answers to some of your questions at the following websites:

                    www.dougy.org
                    www.hellogrief.org
                    www.achildingrief.com

                    Copyright © 2013 by National Alliance for Grieving Children. All rights reserved. You can quote, link to, re-post or translate this article, in its entirety, as long as you include the author name and a working link back to this website. www.ChildrenGrieve.org

                    References
                    Silverman, Phyllis R., Madelyn, Kelly (2009) A Parent’s Guide to Raising Grieving Children. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
                    Worden, William J. (1996) Children and Grief: When a Parent Dies. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
                    Schuurman, Donna (2003) Never the Same: Coming to Terms with the Death of a Parent. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.
                    Emswiler, Mary Ann, Emswiler, James P. (2000) Guiding Your Child through Grief. New York, NY: Bantam Books.
                    Tedeschi, Richard, Calhoun, Lawrence G. (1999) Facilitating Post Traumatic Growth. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
                    Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth (1969) On Death and Dying. New York, NY: Scribner.

                    https://childrengrieve.org/resources/about-childhood-grief

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