Co-op News, March 1999

Raising an Explorer
by Bill Driskell, Lost Parent, Meadowbrook 5s
Following today's preschool field trip, my son was voted most likely to get separated from the group (albeit with a few close contenders). Yes, it's every parent's nightmare: You turn away for a second in a crowded ____ (fill in the blank: mall, check-out line, bookstore, aircraft toilet), and suddenly your child is nowhere in sight. I usually experience four emotions when this occurs: 1) a large dose of panic and 2) empathy that he may actually be lost, followed by 3) a rush of anger that heís ignored an often-stressed family safety rule and then for a fleeting nanosecond, 4) a twinge of pride knowing that heís becoming independent enough to make this separation (presuming heís willfully wandered away versus having dysfunctional spatial skills like one of his parents).
And while I've often cursed the unknown inventor of circular display racks in clothing stores, Seattle Police advise that the most dangerous places for children to be kidnapped are in chaotic, child-filled situations like large toy stores or public parks. In these venues, a squealing child may often be ignored. Almost every parent knows the cardinal rule: mutual sightóyou have to be able to see them and they have to see you at all times. Thereís also ìdonít talk to strangersî and ìtrust your feelingsî but that may be a bit complex for the little ones.
But just in case your child is Houdini-incarnate, make sure he knows what to do when you become separated. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) recommends the following before you head out to a crowded place.
Ages 3 to 4
Tell your child that if he doesnít see you he should sit right down on the ground and that youíll come get him. Stress that he should never leave the area to go look for you, but he can call out ìMommyî or ìDaddy,î which will let people know he's lost.
Ages 5 to 6
She should stay in one spot and keep an eye out for a ìsafe adultî ó best, a clerk in a uniform or behind a checkout counter; or a security guard or police officer; or a family with kids. Your child should tell this adult that sheís lost and give her full name.
Ages 7 and Up
He should memorize the phone number of a close friend or relative or 911 so that he can call a safe adult; to ask her for help. What Parents Should Do (other than kid-sized ball-and-chain)
Know exactly what your child is wearing before you leave the house.
Always carry a current photo of your child; it may help staff members locate her faster. A new color photo every six months is recommended.
Find out if the stores you frequent have a Code Adam policy, which means that the store secures and monitors every exit once a child is lost. If they don't have one, urge them to set one up with the NCMEC.
If you do get separated, retrace your steps to where you were last with your child. If you don't see her, contact the security office. If she's not found within 10 minutes, call the police.
Finally, don't panic. You'll need all your wits to focus on the search. Wallowing in the black hole of what-ifís hinders you from recalling details critical to the search.
To reduce parental anxiety, Iíve sometimes placed a hidden tag or my business card on his person in high-risk areas (e.g., airports or state fairs). And although Mom isnít too keen on the toddler tattoo concept, I found a quick swipe with our postal return stamp above the belly button stays on for days. Once at a busy air show, I simply wrote our phone number on his forearm. May the terrors be infrequent; stay alert and keep exploring. Copyright 1999

Car Seat Alumni
The Center for Disease Control is recommending that children older than 4 and weighing more than 40 pounds use booster seats in cars if they have outgrown their child safety seats. The CDC prefers belt-positioning booster seats designed to raise children up on the car seat so that the lap/shoulder belt fits correctly.
Children should use a booster seat until the lap-shoulder belt in the car fits properlyówhen they are at least 58 inches tall, have a sitting height of 29 inches, and weigh 80 pounds.
From The Seattle Times

Emotional Intelligence
The baby whose distress is responded to lovingly and promptly will learn confidence. A child who understands the important role of emotions will have a better foundation for a joyful, fulfilled and integrated life. Adults living in healthy relationships will serve as positive role models for their children. Older people who have learned to practice emotional literacy can complete their days with peace of mind. Now being recognized by the American Psychological Association as IQ's counterpart, emotional intelligence (EQ) has an opportunity to better our culture in a profound manner.
Often parents, teachers, administrators and politicians become so concerned that children are not acquiring adequate reading, writing, math and computer skills. Yet they fail to address an even more potent issueóemotional competence. Can these children resolve conflicts, have empathy for another person, express themselves constructively or even name their feelings? It is a false hope that with age, our children will passively acquire these skills. Our parental role-modeling has major influence on their personal growth and yet are we prepared to tutor them in emotional competence? Emotional Intelligence addresses issues like self-awareness, emotional vocabulary, empathy, reading non-verbal cues, constructive communication, problem solving and conflict resolution. Our kids can make the world a better place we just need to give them the skills to do so.
Emotional intelligence will be the topic of the PAC sponsored lecture by Emali Spring and Kelly Greenberg, Thursday night, March 25th at 7 PM on NSCC campus, room LB-1141 in the Library Bldg. Admission is free and parking is free but there is no childcare. Emali Spring is a child development specialist and Kelly Greenberg an artist with So-B-It, maker of ONIONHEADÆ, a tool to help raise emotionally intelligent children. Copyright 1999

Good Night! Sleep Tight!
by Mary-Margaret Brown, Parent Educator

Whether you are 5 months old or a 50-year-old, having a good night's sleep is a prelude to having a restful and successful day. In normal sleep, we all have repeated cycles of deep sleep and light sleep throughout the night. When we enter a light sleep period as adults, we often change positions and then fall back to sleep. Getting oneself to sleep or back to sleep is a learned behavior. Understanding children's developmental processes will help parents promote good sleep habits.
Early Infancy An infant is capable of sleeping 6-8 hours without a feeding at about 6 months of age. If an additional feeding is given, it is important to keep the noise to a minimum and the lights turned down low. As early as 3 to 4 months, it is a good practice to put the infant down to sleep while still awake. If the infant falls asleep while feeding, wake her up before putting her back to bed. She may fuss for a few minutes but youíre allowing her to self soothe. Always remember to place your infant on her back for sleep (dramatically decreases the incidence of SIDS, sudden infant death).
Later Infancy
Between 7 and 10 months there are two important developmental advances affecting good sleeping habits. The infant is starting to use his thumb and finger in a pincer grasp. This is a great opportunity to introduce a small blanket with a smooth, silky edge that the infant can stroke with this newly discovered finger-thumb dexterity. As part of the bedtime ritual, the infant will learn to use the blanket as a means of comfort.
Also at this age is separation anxiety. Infants who have been sleeping through the night, wake during light sleep, realize that the parent is not there and begin crying. The trick is to comfort without stimulation such as feeding, holding and playing. Talking in a calm voice, touching the infant or turning on music should be sufficient interventions. Night crying usually stops once the infant understands that things exist even when they are out of sight, and is allowed to fall asleep on his own.
Two developmental issues can lead to disturbances in a toddlerís sleep. The average 12 to 18 month old is becoming more physically mobile. She may cry for help at night if she has pulled herself up but does not know how to get back down. A reassuring voice, along with some gentle coaxing, will calm her and will help her to practice getting back to sleep. The active, older toddler often starts to climb out of the crib. You may decide for safety's sake, to introduce a childís full-size bed at this time. The transition can be made easier and safer by placing the top mattress directly on the floor so the toddler can master the art of sleeping in a confined space without falling off the edge.
Separation becomes an issue for toddlers by 2 years of age. They often get out of bed during the night and venture into the parents' room. Parental responses range from welcoming the child into their bed, to setting up a sleeping bag on the floor, to returning the child promptly to her bed. The child struggling with separation issues may be afraid to have the door closed and insist on coming out to find his parents at bedtime or during the night. One can mark the floor with colored tape and then encourage the child to stay on the bedroom side of the tape.
By now, you should have a consistent bedtime ritual to lessen the resistance that most toddlers and pre-three children manifest. If the ritual is fun and low-keyed, the child will participate happily and willingly by staying in his room and falling asleep. Always conclude the evening with a comforting phrase of ìI love youî or ìSee you in the morning.î
Preschoolers between 3 to 5 years old have better language skills to communicate concepts of being tired, hungry or cold. They can exert their need for power and control using language. Sensing parental ambivalence or inconsistencies in a bedtime ritual, a preschooler may begin an aggressive campaign of bargaining and manipulation. Bedtime resistance is a common problem, so it is important to have a set time and routine for bedtime. Use a timer to objectively remind him that playtime is over and it is now bedtime. Preschoolers also have a vivid imagination. This can become an issue if they are afraid of the dark or of imaginary closet creatures. Library books may help; choose books that give them a renewed sense of power and control over these imaginary creatures. Leaving the bedroom door open or a night-light on is also helpful.
Somewhere between the ages of 2 and 3 years children start to give up their daytime nap. They usually start taking naps later in the day. A child may start skipping 2 naps a week, then 3, etc., taking about a month to sort out a new sleep routine. On no-nap days, it is best to keep the supper routine simple (maybe just soup and sandwiches). The child may be irritable and require one-on-one attention with an earlier bedtime.
This is a good time to officially change the term ìnaptimeî to ìfamily quiet timeí. As caregivers, we all need a short break in midday and children need some downtime. It is wise to keep that hour in the afternoon as a special time for all family members to rest. If children do not need a nap, allow them to play quietly in their room. This is a good opportunity for quiet parental activities other than cleaning the house or the dishes. With younger children, it may be beneficial to start quiet time with only 10 or 15 minutes. Gradually increase the amount of time as the child learns to play quietly and entertain himself.
Finally, always keep in mind that the parent can determine the childís bedtime, but the child will determine his or her own sleep time. Good Night! Sleep Tight! Copyright 1999

Bloomers, Crawlers, Tweeters
by Pam Myers, Teacher, Wallingford 3-5

Last spring we started a garden at the Wallingford Co-op. It was such fun that I wanted to share our experiences and offer some suggestions from Jessica Dixon Horton, a former co-op parent and landscape architect.
Bloomers It's important to involve children, with adult supervision, in all aspects of growing plants. The children loved sowing seeds and starting plants. Using child-sized rakes, hoes and shovels, the children prepared the soil as they ìdug for dinosaurs.î When the children returned in the fall they were excited about the pumpkins, the seven-foot sunflowers and the scarlet runner beans. We watched squirrels and birds feasting on sunflowers. We compared the size, color, shape and texture of seeds and leaves and identified roots, stems and flowers. This year we'll add corn and use the corn stalks for decorations and corn prints at Halloween.
Herbs, easy-to-grow annual flowers and fast growing plants make good choices for a childrenís garden. When you select a garden spot make sure it will receive about five hours of sun daily. Use small containers, window boxes, large buckets or wooden tubs if you lack garden space. Mini vegetables like cherry tomatoes, Thumbelina carrots, French breakfast radishes, baby bib lettuce, Ruby queen beets and Early cluster cucumbers grow well in containers and are right-sized for little hands. Through planting, the children also learned about the garden community.
Crawlers -- They learned about composting with worms and observed beetles and sow bugs in upturned terra cotta flowerpots. Tweeters Birds and butterflies are attracted to dandelions, clover, butterfly weed, Queen Anne's lace and black-eyed Susan. Butterflies are also attracted to dill and purple cornflower.
Thumpers -- A Peter Rabbit's garden of radishes, parsley, onions, carrots, lavender, cabbages and lettuce may attract furry friends.
Tell me a story -- A garden encourages imagination. Plants that may inspire story telling are: banana lily, goat's beard, shooting stars, lady slipper, bleeding heart, snap dragon, lamb's ear and lavender.
It's such fun to get diggin' in the dirt. I hope I've given you some ideas to ìjust dig it.î Copyright 1999

just for fun
by wendy van koevering

Waterfront Adventure
The new Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center on pier 66 downtown introduces kids to Seattleís working waterfront through hands-on exhibits and short movies. Kids can haul in a dayís catch on a fishing boat or take a simulated sea kayaking tour. There are radio-controlled tugboats to move around a model harbor. Older kids enjoy operating mounted cameras to scan the Seattle waterfront and identify various boats. Younger children like sorting fish on a moving conveyor belt.
Odyssey--10am-5pm daily. Adults $6.50, kids 6+, $4.00. Pier 66 is 2205 Alaskan Way (Bell St. Pier); 206-374-4000.

Dancing Raisins
Need another rainy day activity? How about playing with your food. Youíll need:
Glass jar - pint
3 Tablespoons vinegar
1 Tablespoon baking soda
Fill jar with water. Stir in 3 tablespoons vinegar then add a few raisins. Add baking soda without stirring.
Now the fun begins. The mixing vinegar and baking soda form bubbles. They boost the raisins to the top of the jar and then pop, letting the raisins fall again. Raisins continue to dance up and down while children sit still and watch. What magic! Copyright 1999