MyFirstApp Blog

Guided Imagery for Children

Guided Imagery for Children

Guided imagery, also known as visualization or mental rehearsal, is a therapeutic technique in which we create images in the mind to reduce stress, pain, or other negative experiences, familiarize ourselves with a situation before it actually happens, or imagine ourselves achieving goals.

Visualization is a powerful motivation tool that helps you build confidence, improve mood, and attract positive outcomes.

How Does Guided Imagery for Kids Work?

Guided imagery is about envisioning a certain goal or visualizing yourself performing a certain activity that you are trying to master. Visualization can be used to help your child relax and improve sleep patterns, increase resilience and stress-coping mechanisms, overcome anxiety, improve school success, increase happiness, and boost self-esteem.

Here are some of the most effective ways to practice guided imagery with your child.

1. Mindfulness Meditation

Guided imagery is best practiced when a child feels relaxed and content. Have your child sit or lie comfortably and use simple mindfulness exercises for kids to help your child calm his body and mind and breathe deeply and rhythmically. This will help him focus only on the present moment.

Once totally relaxed, the child should focus on a goal he wants to achieve. For example, if your child wants to achieve athletic success, let him focus on techniques, performances, and skills he wants to improve or demonstrate. Most importantly, your child should focus on the reactions and feelings he wants to experience during his performance. Have the child repeat this visualization practice each day, before, during, and after training.

2. Vision Boards

Research shows that mental imagery shows the best effects if you apply it through vision boards. A good vision board focuses on things that your child wants, but more importantly, it emphasizes how she wants to feel about them.

To help your child create a successful vision board, encourage her to identify her vision and to focus on how she wants to feel about her goals. Help your child find pictures or quotes that inspire and motivate and place the vision board somewhere where she can see it.

3. Guided Meditation for a Healthy Body Image

Guided imagery can be a great tool to encourage a positive body image for your child. The social pressures from culture and social media influence often make kids and teens think they are never good enough. However, you can help your child develop a healthy body image that will last for life.

Meditation scripts for a positive body image help children and teens boost self-esteem, alleviate stress and anxiety, feel good about themselves, and develop a positive mindset.

Choose one of the scripts that promote a healthy body image, help your child relax, and visualize herself as a perfect individual with a strong, healthy, and beautiful body. Remind her to be grateful for her marvelous body and everything it allows her to do (to move around, experience the world with senses, lift and hold things, express emotions, create art, communicate with others, etc.).

With constant practice, your child will gain better control of his visualizations to focus on the feelings it creates in him. And by creating powerful emotions, your child will be able to create powerful outcomes as well.

Take care and keep healthy and positive,

MyFirstApp Team

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How to Improve Your Child’s Fine Motor Skills through Coloring

How to Improve Your Child’s Fine Motor Skills through Coloring

Fine motor skills include movements related to smaller muscle groups in hands, fingers, and wrists. Also, fine motor skills refer to the coordination between small muscles of hands and fingers with the eyes (dexterity). These skills are important because they help children perform a variety of activities such as writing, eating, holding small objects, buttoning, etc.

Around their first birthday, most kids can reach, grab, and put objects in their mouths, drop and pick up toys, bang two objects together, and hold their own bottle or cup. Also, your one-year-old can now eat with the spoon and fork and help undress. Most kids 12 mounts old can put items in containers with large openings and take them out and pinch small objects like stickers or pom-poms with thumb and pointer finger.

 

Why are Fine Motor Skills Important?

Fine motor skills are essential for most school activities but these skills are important in life in general. Delays in fine motor skills can affect the child’s ability to perform the basic activities of daily living such as eating, dressing himself or herself, or grooming. Also, if your child lags in fine motor skills development, this may affect her ability to write, turn pages in books, or use a computer.

Some kids struggle with their fine motor skills development because these skills require more precise movements of small muscles, more control, and better coordination.

 

How to Use Coloring to Boost Fine Motor Skills?

Your child needs to master fine motor control when he or she starts school because this skill is crucial for writing. To help kids improve their fine motor skills, encourage art and craft activities.

Young children enjoy discovering art through coloring. Kids are naturally curious and love to experiment with colors, materials, and textures. Make sure to provide safe, non-toxic art supplies such as crayons, markers, gel pens, and glitter gel pens, colored pencils, and brushes.

Encourage your child to paint and draw. These activities not only promote fine motor skills development but also encourage cognitive abilities, creativity, and imagination.

Different types of painting and different coloring supplies like chalk, charcoal, finger painting, or puff paint will spark your child’s interests and curiosity and strengthen his hand-eye coordination.

Another great art activity for toddlers and older kids is an easel-coloring or painting. A standing easel toy promotes fine motor skills by strengthening your child’s wrist and developing fine motor of her fingers. In addition, this activity encourages gross motor skills as the child is required to stand while painting.

Coloring with crayons, markers, or colored pencils helps kids learn to gain greater control holding things with their hands, which is essential for writing and, consequently, school success.

Your child’s drawings and illustrations don’t have to be perfect. Scribbling is enough to practice fine motor skills. however, make sure to display your child’s artwork around the house; this will boost his self-esteem and confidence and make your child proud of himself.

Take care and keep healthy and positive,

MyFirstApp Team

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Common Challenges for Parents of Toddlers and Young Children

Common Challenges for Parents of Toddlers and Young Children

Raising a child is probably one of the most rewarding experiences in life. However, parenting can be a challenging process at times.

Young children typically lack the words to express their emotions, thoughts, and needs, so they often communicate their feelings using inappropriate or challenging behaviors.

To grow into healthy, confident, and well-adjusted adults, children need to be raised with love and understanding.

It is important to understand what causes your child’s challenging behaviors and provide support to your child in developing social-emotional skills. Teaching and encouraging positive behaviors will enhance your child’s development and help them understand and appropriately manage their feelings.

 

“No” Stage

Around their second birthday, kids develop self-awareness and begin to realize that they are separate individuals from their parents and other people. Toddlers begin to understand that they have their own thoughts and opinions and feel driven to assert themselves.

Your two-year-old will want to act independently as much as he can and want to communicate his ideas, wants, needs, and dislikes. At the same time, however, toddlers still have difficulties with self-control, turn-taking, and waiting. This is why “no” becomes an inseparable part of their vocabulary: most of the time your toddler will do exactly the opposite of what you tell her to.

To handle the “no” stage, try to stay calm but persistent. Help your child navigate her emotions and positively express them. Pretend-play, art, and sensory activities can be great channels for your child’s emotional expression.

 

Temper Tantrums and Meltdowns

The emotional life of your toddler is complex. He is beginning to experience feelings like pride, embarrassment, and guilt, but lack language to express these complex feelings. They also still struggle with self-control and language skills, which makes it hard to navigate through strong emotions. This causes young kids to have meltdowns and temper tantrums when they are frustrated.

Your child may throw a temper tantrum when he is hungry, uncomfortable, or tired or have a meltdown when he doesn’t get something he wants.

Therefore, teaching your child how to deal with frustration is essential for her self-control and the ability to self-soothe. As your child’s language skills improve, tantrums should decrease.

To manage tantrums and meltdowns, stay cool when you’re responding to your child’s behavior. Depending on what causes your child to feel upset, you may provide comfort, provide food or nap, or ignore the behavior.

Distract your child and give positive attention (catch your child being good and reward positive behaviors).

 

Throwing Toys and Other Objects

Defiant behaviors such as tantrums or throwing toys in young kids come as a natural consequence of their ability to understand independence and to control their environment. Toddlers and preschoolers seek independence but still lack self-control.

Throwing toys may be one of the behaviors your toddler uses to express her distress. They may start throwing toys and other objects because they don’t know how to handle stressful situations or cannot find words to communicate their needs and feelings.

Highly sensitive children (kids whose emotional reactions are intense and overwhelming), kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or those on the autism spectrum usually show more defiant behavior. These children typically struggle with transitions and protest during transition times, as these changes can be very stressful for them. Your response to your child's defiant behavior will teach them how to respect boundaries and practice self-control.

 

Take care and keep healthy and positive,

MyFirstApp Team

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Beyond the Lockdown

Beyond the Lockdown

How to Get Ready for the New World?

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we go about our daily lives in so many ways. It is completely normal if you’re wondering whether life will ever be the same again.

There are so many questions. How will the country get back to normal? When will my kids’ school re-open? When will we be able to travel? Will my family struggle financially? What impact will coronavirus have on the economy, our social life, and health?

The future implications of coronavirus are still unknown. So, for most people, the worst thing about this situation is uncertainty. It is normal to feel worried, anxious, and afraid in situations like this one. When you feel exposed, the amygdala in your brain activates the flight or fight response, to protect you from stress. So, being a little bit concerned can be useful and motivating.

However, excessive or lasting stress and anxiety can disrupt your stress-management strategies and impair your overall well-being. So, here are a few useful tips on how to help yourself and your kids adjust to days after COVID-19 lockdown and prepare for the new world with new routines and changed reality.

Accept Social Distance as a Way of Living

We live in a digital age, with millions of people already working and studying from home, making appointments, paying bills, and shopping online. Modern technologies have made it possible to work, study, and live withdrawn from the outside world during this pandemic. School lessons, work conferences, and get-togethers with friends have moved online.

Many people find this convenient. So, the pandemic of COVID-19 may have further rooted the path in which our society was going. Accept that some areas of your life will continue running online and simply take advantage of it.

Set the Boundaries

Creating time apart from your family is an important aspect of self-care. Self-care means recognizing the importance of your feelings. And when you have a better understanding of yourself, you will be more understanding of others too.

Also, spending most of your time at home still doesn’t mean that you are available 24/7. Teach your kids to respect your boundaries as well as each other's.

Working from home can become overwhelming if you have to multitask between your work, your kids’ online lessons, and household chores. To alleviate stress and tension, have separated work and study spaces in your home and delegate responsibilities to other family members. Establishing a home and work boundary while in self-isolation can help avoid unnecessary stress.

Re-Connect with Yourself and Others

If you have adjusted well to self-isolation, you are more likely to experience some positive changes and personal growth. You may learn how to boost resilience by learning better coping strategies through mindfulness meditation, self-care, and gratitude practice. Also, get in touch with old friends and renew some forgotten relationships.

Life will change after COVID-19, there is no doubt about that. But life doesn’t stop here. Things will slowly start getting back to normal in all areas of life. However, we will all be more cautious and more conscious of how life is delicate and frail. Which will, hopefully, motivate us to feel more grateful for simple life pleasures.

Take care and keep healthy and positive,

MyFirstApp Team

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Promoting resilience in times of trouble

Promoting resilience in times of trouble

Hello everyone,

I shall be interrupting our Back to basics series, in order to say a few words about how to handle and promote emotional resilience during these times of trouble - the most current world crisis – The Coronavirus Pandemic.

Every major life threatening crisis, has a common, most challenging feature - the interruption of daily routine, of ordinary lives. It requires us, mere mortals, to adjust to a new reality. Even reminding us that in fact, we are, mere mortals, is an aspect of a life threatening crisis situation.

Usually, at ordinary times, most of us are equipped with amazing emotional defense mechanisms that allow us to forget how fragile we are. And so, we are able to go about our business, get into cars or airplanes (even though accidents might occur) cross the street, etc. etc.. The list of everyday dangers goes on and on…

I say most of us, because some people, people who suffer from anxiety of various levels, are less equipped with these defense mechanisms and are all too painfully aware, in their daily lives, of the ‘normal, everyday’ dangers.

But, in times of crisis, life as we know it suddenly changes. We need to adjust, and find ways in which to deal with the threatening situation. On an international, national, community level, and on a personal level, health-wise and economical-wise.

So, what can we do, as parents, to promote resilience in our families and for our children?

There are many many things we can do, and I shall name but a few:

1. Shift what ever we can from the ‘circle of worry’ to the ‘circle of influence’ – That means, we humans tend to worry. Worrying is a natural reaction to stressful situations, especially the kind who offer a lot of unknown and uncertainty. But, as my dearest father always says: ‘Worrying is like a rocking chair, gives you something to do, does’nt get you anywhere’.

So, after you allow yourself to indulge in some moments of worry ☺, only natural, ask your self what can be done, and do something about it. For example: If it makes you feel more in control, stock your home with some more food and other supplies, if it makes you feel more in control, minimize visiting unnecessary public places. What ever you do to make yourself feel better is great. There’s no one right answer for every one, it is very personal.

2. Parental self regulation – remember to make your self feel better and calmer in order for you to be able to make your home calmer for your kids. Kids look up to us for signs of stress or of ‘all clear’. Self regulate in order for you to be able to help your child feel more at ease.

3. Parents as mediators -Give your kids basic information of what is going on but don’t overwhelm them. They are not able to process too much information and they might get scared from their own speculations of what is happening and what shall be in the future.

4. Media consumption - Get enough info. for yourselves, but don’t get glued to the media, for too much recurrent information only makes anxiety rise.

5. Get your priorities straight- in times of crisis, priorities might change, adjust to this change. You might even uses these times to rethink different aspects of your lives. In times of trouble there might be new opportunities for growth and explorations of new habits.

6. Stress reduction - Engage in various stress reducing activities: This is also very individual. Sports- is very stress reducing, listening to music, dancing – even at home with your toddlers, put on some music and dance together, use humor, watch great shows on t.v., call your friends (if you can’t actually meet with them…), share your thoughts and feelings, read, don’t lose hope, believe that humanity will find solutions for this too. Kids need to hear you speak of this hope in order for them to feel safer in these crazy times.

7. Be creative, be flexible – part of resilience is flexibility – these ‘crazy’ times make us train our flexibility and creativity skills. This is part of what needs to be inorder to adjust. We cannot go about our business as usual.Find creative solutions, engage in creative activities in the home.

8. Parents as Role models– Our role as parents also promote our own resilience. We need to find resources in ourselves inrorder for us to help them, make a good example of how to cope in times of trouble. They will learn from us, and next time will be maybe be able to solve their own daily problems in a more flexible way, having learned from us.

9. Daily routine – if schools and kindergartens are shut, try to build with your children some kind of routine. Children need routine in order to function better and feel safe. Routine gives the entire family a sense of balance.

10. Crisis as opportunity – times of hardship offer some opportunities too. One thing I can think of, is more parent-children time. In our modern world, many parents spend very long days at their jobs, and kids have less and less parental time from a very young age. This world crisis gives an opportunity for kids to spend more quality time with their parents and for parents to spend time with their kids… Think about it…

That’s it for today,

Will be checking on you soon…

Wishing all of us good health and better, safer times,

We will all get through this if we act together, helping each other as human beings, citizens of this amazing and sometimes unpredictable, crazy, world.

Irra Harari Friedman

Senior Educational Psychologist

MyFirstApp

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Daddy and mommy - look me in the eye

Daddy and mommy - look me in the eye

Eye contact – An essential interpersonal communication skill.

Before the smartphone revolution, people looked into each other’s eyes and faces, much more frequently…

I have recently been watching re-runs of ‘Friends’. The amazing, American 90’s comedy show, featuring a group of 6 close friends, who spend a lot of their spare time together. Just talking, communicating, with nothing to disturb them, other than the ordering of coffee and cake, at their favorite New-York, coffee place.

Watching the show, I could’nt help but notice how the world has changed in only 20 years. How great it is to see a group of peopl happily conversing with no smartphone coming between them.

It made me think – how much the smartphone has invaded our social field, influencing our interpersonal communication behaviors.

It also made me think about the influence of screens on the development of the eye contact skill of babies, infants and children.

The eye contact skill develops out of millions of little eye contact interactions between the baby and his/her’s care givers.

While feeding – whether it be breast feeding, or bottle feeding, or while playing together or walking about in the stroller. All these times offer endless opportunities for social interaction and special ‘two-ness’ moments.

But, alas, ‘the times, they are a changing…’(Bob Dylan).

Many such interactions are currently  interrupted by a technological ‘go between’ – the screen. And so, without our noticing, babies and infants get less and less undivided attention and undivided eye-contact time. This has a growing influence on the later development of social and interpersonal skills.

So, what can be done? Back to basics:

 My recommendation:

  • While feeding – no screens please – look each other in the eye – smile, connect, sing softly, interact.
  • While pushing the stroller with your baby in front of you – no screens please – look each other in the eye – smile, make joint attention – enjoy the environment together – notice the cars passing by, a dog, a cat, a flower, the next door neighbor.

All these interactions form the building blocks of your child’s social, interpersonal skills.

These are special developmental times, and they pass all too quickly. So, take the time…

Have a great week,

Irra Harari Friedman

Senior Educational Psychologist

Myfirstapp

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Infant - Fomo - Morning screen time

Infant - Fomo - Morning screen time

Last time we talked about our own FOMO - fear of missing out. Waking up, immediately reaching our phones.Today we shall notice our little one’s FOMO. Unlike us, they are born into the world of screens. From a very young age, too young, in my personal, and professional opinion, they are glued to a screen.

The World Health Organisation (The ‘Who’) - recommends limited amount of screen time for inftants:

Under age 1 - No screen time at all.

Ages 1-2 - Up to 60 minutes of screen time.

Ages 3-4 - No more than 60 minutes of screen time a day.

https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/24-04-2019-to-grow-up-healthy-children-need-to-sit-less-and-play-more

So, if we return to morning time we may find our kids glued to a screen - whether it be a TV screen, the ipad or the smart phone.

My recommendation is - If at all possible no screens during morning time. You can put some back ground music to make the morning brighter, easing into the day. Morning is time to get ready, spend some time together, prepring and communicating before the rush of day begins.

The power of prevention - If ‘morning no screen policy’ is not possible, for various reasons, such as: You need time to get ready, yourself, and need them to be quietly occupied. I recommend you finish getting your child completely ready before engaging in screen time: teeth brushed, fully dressed, fed and only then, if there’s no other way, allow some screen time. Otherwise, you will probably find yourself engaging in an endless fight of - please turn off the screen, we need to leave the house.

So, have a great morning

Irra Harari Friedman

Senior Educational Psychologist

MyFirstApp

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Back to basics - Fomo, Jomo and Fonbh/Fonbs

Back to basics - Fomo, Jomo and Fonbh/Fonbs

Morning, ‘the day breaks, your mind wakes’ (Beatles), your phone wakes too… a new day begins.

In many homes, even before saying good morning to loved ones, first things first - a new, modern ritual begins - checking out our messages. Modern people are driven by a new force of nature - FOMO - Fear of missing out. What important messages have we missed while we were sleeping…? we ask ourselves.

While we are busy checking, the little ones are calling us, pulling on our pyjamas, asking for something, demanding our attention. They do not care about our FOMO they have a different kind of fear - FONBH - Fear of not being heard…or FONBS - Fear of not being seen.

‘Just a second sweetheart’, we might say ‘mommy or daddy is just finishing this little task and will be right with you…’

‘No mommy, I need you now…’ our little one might say, or, instead of that, he/she will start acting out- jump on the bed, climb up too high, spill a cup of juice, anything to make us realize they are there, and in desperate need of our attention…And, actually they deserve it. For, in an hour or so, we shall be off to work, and they shall be off to their day of labor - at kindergarten, or other day care…

So, what can be done -

A number of options:

Communicate - If your child is already awake, give him some attention, and if your job requires, or otherwise you need to check your phone, communicate to them you are just going to check the messages, and you will be right with them. Preparation for an action - usually helps kids - preparation is part of communication.

Undevided attention - while preparing for kindergarten, before setting off to work, try to offer some undivided attention time. This day and age, we are used to doing two things at a time, and sometimes are proud of it. Children need you to be with them, and only them, when you take care of them. They need undevided attention like the air they breath or the water they drink.

Jomo - Joy of missing out - the ‘cousin’ of Fomo - allowing yourself to be! Being able to enjoy moments of no media time, blocking off some of the information blast…Try it sometime, it’s worth it. Your kids will thank you too ☺

Have a great morning,

till next time

Irra Harari Friedman

Senior Educational Psychologist

MyFirstApp

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