No One Is Born Grateful

Many of us have had the good fortune, opportunity, and/or drive to provide for our children even better than what we had as children.  As parents we can feel disappointed when a child falls short of showing what is deemed “appropriate gratitude.”  From an expensive scientific toy received as a gift to running all over town for exotic pet food or driving to another county for an afternoon of soccer, children forget to recognize the sacrifice others make for them.  Teaching children true gratitude, not just tossing out a quick, “Hey, thanks” is tricky, though.  Our efforts can do more than just make grandmas happy by receiving a thank-you card. “A 2003 study at the University of California at Davis showed that grateful people report higher levels of happiness and optimism — along with lower levels of depression and stress.”*

The article cited below has some great ideas on what we can do at home to create the kind of change we want to see in our children, especially in the holiday season that will be here before we know it.



Jordan Sicht has been with Academy of Early Childhood Learning since 2000.

He and his wife, Sarah, have two boys, 10 and 7.

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Rules and Regulations

As parents and caregivers it’s important that we don’t fall into the trap of creating rules for no reason other than conformity.  Many rules we follow as adults are for specific safety and responsibility reasons; speed limits, food prep temperatures and expiration dates, carrying insurance on your property, to name a few.  When we start having rules just for the sake of conformity, it can feel restrictive and agitating. Sitting in the only car at a red light for several minutes when there isn’t another motorist in sight might show this frustration.  We need to create more “roundabouts” in our children’s lives.  If we explain what needs to happen (the objective,) and are willing to accept a variety of possible methods to get to that end, we as caregivers/parents are more relaxed and your child is more empowered, self-reliant, and better prepared for their future.  I hope this helps!

Jordan Sicht

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The Function of Behavior

Many of you have just conferenced with your child’s teacher and have seen the component within that is a behavioral checklist.  Often we discuss the cause, or “function”, of the behavior.  Young children can often act out of control because that is exactly how they’re feeling.  As an example, if a 2 year old boy swings his hand at peers when they are nearing the center where he is playing, we need to help him to identify his feeling of worry.  He may worry that someone will knock down his tower or perhaps that there aren’t enough of that toy to share.  We can then provide him with the tools he needs to resolve this conflict.  We show children how to share, take turns, or sign the word stop.  It is important for us to teach replacement behaviors that are realistic.  A child may need to be taught it is okay to walk away and get a drink at the water fountain in order to cool off.  If we examine behaviors as objectively as possible, it can help us approach them as teachable moments and also will serve to preserve our relationship with the child.  (They really didn’t do it just to make you mad!)

Enjoy your children!

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Self Control


We see the effects all around us of adults that haven’t learned self-control, the ability to follow rules and understand limits. Developing self-control begins at birth and continues throughout adulthood.  Children learn self-control through group play and from guidance given from parents and other loving adults.

In order to help toddlers cope with limits we need to provide guidance and intervene when appropriate. Things we can do:

  • Stop the behavior.  Firmly, but not angrily, tell the child, “No hitting, hitting hurts.”
  • Label the emotion.  We need to feel understood. “You are angry that he took your toy.  It’s okay to be angry, but we do not pinch our friends.  Pinching hurts.”
  • Offer an appropriate “Can Do,” like jumping up and down or stomping feet.  A favorite of mine is the sign for “Stop” as it can be expressed emphatically.
  • Help the child solve their problem.  Go to the friend together and ask for the toy back.  Or, give them livable choices: “Do you want to play music while we clean up the toys?”
  • Be a role model for handling frustration.  “I’m feeling frustrated that I can’t find my phone and we’re running late.  I’m going to take a deep breath before we look for it.”
  • Create a cozy corner in your home.  This is a positive and soothing place to go when you need a break, not a time-out punishment.

For more information like this on child development, including other ideas for social-emotional development, go to Zero to Three, National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families at

Jordan Sicht

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April 22nd is Earth Day

There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.

-Sir Rannulph Fiennes, the world’s greatest explorer.

April 22nd marks the 48th Earth Day celebrated in the United States.  The concept was introduced to raise awareness for the many troubling environmental threats that Americans had been largely ignoring. At Academy of Early Childhood Learning, we would like to use it as a day to bring to light the importance of nature in children’s lives.  50 years ago, families and educators could take for granted that young children would spend time outdoors (Clements 2004).  Present day children, with growing interest in technology, have the world at their fingertips through Google and Wikipedia yet have never peered closely into a newly bloomed bud or watched tiny ants empty a beetle’s exoskeleton.  Tomorrow’s stewards of this incredible natural wonderland are in our classrooms today and are open to deepening their connection with nature (Rivkin 2014).  There are many psychological, sociological and physical benefits outlined in the book, The Great Outdoors.

Mary S. Rivkin, The Great Outdoors

Clements, R.,An Investigation of the State of Outdoor Play.” Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood

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March 2 is Dr. Seuss’ Birthday



It was 1960, Green Eggs and Ham was published, and Theodor Geisel (who you may more readily know as Dr. Seuss) implored, In these days of tension and confusion, writers are beginning to realize that Books for Children have a greater potential for good, or evil, than any other form of literature on earth.”

Dr. Seuss had written Horton Hears a Who some years prior to Green Eggs and Ham as a way to connect to young readers in a positive way. His art had experienced quite a shift from the derisive propaganda cartoons and film he had published as part of the war effort.  He wanted to effect change in society’s buds, our children.

He would go on to publish The Sneetches in 1961 with its civil rights theme, and ten years later, The Lorax, raising environmental awareness.

We can continue this important work in our homes and classrooms by teaching our children to be safe, kind, and responsible.  We can encourage activities that show we value each other for our similarities and our differences.

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Coping with Separation Anxiety

Helping Children Adjust to New Settings and Coping with Separation Anxiety

For the last few weeks some of our children have been experiencing new classrooms or are new to our center. Some tears due to uncertainty, new expectations, and missing parents and previous educators is a natural and healthy part of your child’s development! Separation anxiety can present as tantrums, clinging, or even just becoming quiet and withdrawn when dropped off. As caregivers and parents, there are a few things we can do to help:
Plan a visit to their new setting, showing the child you are comfortable with the new faces and routines.
Have a short and positive good-bye ritual. (Please never sneak away!)
Relate your return time to their schedule. (I’ll see you after nap, snack, and gross motor time.)
Acknowledge your child’s feelings while encouraging appropriate behaviors.
Keep a regular schedule at home and with your drop-offs at school.
Discuss the use of a transitional object (small teddy to keep in their cubby for the first couple weeks) with your child’s teacher.
Make pick-up a reunion! Sometimes work needs to wait – a precious little person has looked forward to your face all day!

Books to Help Children with Separation Anxiety
Appelt, Kathi, illustrated by Jane Dyer. Oh My Baby, Little One. Orlando: Harcourt, 2005.
Edwards, Becky, illustrated by Anthony Flintoft. My First Day at Nursery School. New York: Bloomsbury
Children’s, 2004.
Penn, Audrey. The Kissing Hand. Terre Haute, IN: Tanglewood, 2006.
Rusackas, Francesca, illustrated by Priscilla Burris. I Love You All Day Long. New York: HarperCollins,
Tompert, Ann, illustrated by Robin Kramer. Will You Come Back for Me? Boston, MA: National Braille,
Viorst, Judith, illustrated by Kay Chorao. The Good-Bye Book. New York: Aladdin, 1992.
Zalben, Jane Breskin. Don’t Go! New York: Clarion, 2001.

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Communicating Expectations Clearly


Many of us are familiar with the frustration we feel when someone or their actions disappoints us. While that frustration can certainly be warranted, it’s also a good time to be introspective about whether your expectations have been clearly communicated. Children typically want to be pleasers, but they may not always know what things they should be doing and may only hear about things they shouldn’t have done. Be clear in the expectations for your household and communicate through specific positive feedback when you see the desired behaviors or results.

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Key Differences of Conscious Discipline and Traditional Discipline


Becky Baily, the developer of Conscious Discipline, outlines the key differences between what many of us grew up with (Traditional Discipline), and the strategies we aim to implement (Conscious Discipline) in three parts.  Traditionally, adults tried to make others change by prescribing the right punishment or withholding something desired.  Conscious Discipline on the other hand, realizes the individual will need to change themselves due to an internal process driven by how we interact with them.  Secondly, we may have been brought up believing rules and consequences govern behavior, while those studying Conscious Discipline come to realize relationships govern behavior.  For example, I want to solve conflict with family members because I love them so much.  Lastly, Conscious Discipline recognizes that conflict doesn’t have to be bad, but it does need to be productive.  It is an opportunity for growth and for us as parents and teachers to show children how to reflect on their choices internally, rather than us choosing the right consequence.

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Care Calls

This summer, through national news outlets, we have again seen coverage of the unthinkable tragedy of infants and children being left in parked cars while the parent forgot them and went into work or into their home.  As you may already know, educators at Academy of Early Childhood Learning follow our policy of making “care calls” to parents.  Should your child not be dropped off at their regular time we will call to check if your child will be attending that day.  Please help us by giving us a call if there will be a change in your routine.  During our 17 years of providing quality care and education, it’s unknown if our calls saved a life, but perhaps a parent is thanking us silently every day.

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