How to Build Connection with Your Child?

Below are tips from Hand in Hand Parenting on how to build connection with your child.

There are several Hand in Hand Parenting tools that can be used to boost your child’s connection to you and create more emotional security to fill those feelings of need.

When your child is filled up with feelings of connection and safety, they will be able to play on their own for longer.

Let’s explore how three of these tools, Special Time, Playlistening, and Setting Limits can be used to boost connection.

Special Time is a tool that creates pockets of connection in which your child has your full attention and is able to play exactly the way they want to.

To do Special Time you simply decide a time you will focus warm attention on your child, and choose how long you will do this.

When that time comes, call out, “Now it’s Special Time. I’ll play anything you want to play.”

Set your timer for the amount of time you’ve allotted (anywhere from 2-30 minutes) and then give your full attention to your child.

The goal in Special Time is to give your child 100% of your attention, adding extra warmth, eye contact, and touch, and let them decide what they want to do as you follow their lead.

During Special Time you put aside your phone, your distractions, your worries about the dirty dishes, and all efforts to teach your child manners or lessons. Simply follow your child’s play with as much delight as you can.

Even though you may give your child a lot of quality playtime already, these Special Times can fill them up with feelings of connection more effectively than semi-distracted playtimes can.

Kids look forward to Special Time as the time to absorb your full, undivided attention.

The only goal during Special Time is connection. It doesn’t matter if your child putzes around pushing the button on and off on their tablet, tells knock-knock jokes, or pretends to be a superhero while you are the villain.

The connection between you both is the most important focus during this time, not the content of the play.

And don’t worry if your child doesn’t seem to notice your efforts to connect. Sometimes, children protect themselves from disappointment by not relying on our attention at first.

Be sure that your attention will have a warming effect, whether you can detect it or not.

I have seen time and again with families that I work with that even 10 minutes of Special Time a couple of times per week can result in children who are more able to communicate what they are feeling and needing, and who have more resilience when parents ask them to do things they don’t want to do.

Special Time is a wonderful tool that can help fill your child up with love and attention so that they can more easily play on their own. You can get a free guide to Special Time here.

Talking to children about COVID-19

~ By Dr. Elizabeth Stanford, head of psychology, BC Children’s Hospital | March 19, 2020

A lot is happening quickly in relation to COVID-19. It’s normal to feel worried and overwhelmed. Children may feel worried and overwhelmed too.

Talk to your kids about COVID-19 and how they are feeling about it.

  • Start the conversation. Let your child know you are someone they can talk to about COVID-19.
  • First, find out what they understand.
  • Show that you care and understand, and normalize their feelings. (“I understand why you think that.” “It makes sense that you are worried about COVID-19.” “I am sad that we can’t go on our trip.”)
  • Be ready with information and answers that are true, appropriate for your child’s age, and consistent.
  • Be ready to talk about what COVID-19 is (“COVID-19 is a new kind of virus. It can also be called coronavirus. Viruses can make people sick. COVID-19 makes most people only a little bit sick, but can make a very small group of people really sick. So that’s why everyone is working hard to take care of it.”).
  • Also be ready to explain things like “social distancing” (“Social distancing means that we try to keep a space between people if we go out. We are careful about crowds and what we touch.”)
  • Look out for your child asking lots of questions, or the same question over and over again. This can be a sign of anxiety. You answering the same question again and again often actually serves to raise, or maintain their anxiety over time. If this happens, try saying something that acknowledges the anxiety (“You’ve asked me that before; you’re really worried. It is stressful. Can you remind me what I said last time when you asked that question?”)
  • Point out the people who are helping and plan a way to help others with your child. Practise gratitude for what you do have and what you are able to do. Focus on the positive.
  • Practice what you are going to say with yourself or another adult ahead of time so when you speak with your child, you are calm and prepared with what you want to say.
  • If you don’t know the answer, it’s OK to say you don’t know. As a parent you can always ask others and then answer the question later.

Monitor and restrict your child’s access to media about COVID-19.

  • Just like for adults, constant information can feel overwhelming and add to stress.
  • Checking the media once a day around your child may be enough.
  • Be with your child when they are accessing the media.
  • If you are looking for information, the BC Centre for Disease Control is one good place to go.

Maintain a family day that has structure and a sense of “normal.”

  • Plan activities, meals, quiet time, and sleep.
  • Do fun things that you might not usually have time to do (e.g., arts and crafts, a movie night, cooking, a board game, making a blanket fort, etc.).
  • Make sure that you are managing your child’s screen-time, but maintain some social connections, even if this can only be done virtually.

Expect changes in behaviour; be patient and keep parenting.

  • When we are stressed, it often comes out in our behaviour. What this looks for children depends on the child (their age, their level of stress, their temperament, etc.)
    • ~Some common behaviour changes might be: clinginess, getting upset more easily, hyperactivity, or bad dreams.
    • ~Sometimes children act ‘younger’ when they are stressed and may show behaviours from  when they were younger (e.g., toileting accidents).

  • It’s OK and actually helpful for children when their parents manage their behaviour in the way they normally would. This is another way that you can show a sense of “normal” for your child. This also is why taking care of yourself as a parent is important; you need energy and patience to help your child with their stress and behaviour.

Teach and remind about the basics.

  • Teach your child hand washing with soap and warm water for 20 seconds.
  • Teach your child to not touch their face, eyes, nose, and mouth and to cover their cough with their elbow.
  • Don’t get upset if they forget.
  • Call 8-1-1 or 1-888-COVID19. You can also text 604-630-0300 if you have questions about symptoms.

Take care of yourself – physically and mentally.

By taking care of yourself, you do two things: First, you help yourself be the best caregiver you can be. Second, you model for your child how to take care of themselves.

  • Think about basic self-care – eating regularly, hydrating, and getting good sleep.
  • Think about what you can do to take a break, even if it’s just for short moments in the day.
  • Stay in touch with your friends and supportive family members.

More information about Children and COVID-19:

There are some really great resources out there to look to for suggestions and ideas. Here are some links:

How to Raise a Bilingual Child

My husband and I have a different first language. We want our little one to be able to speak both of our languages. Currently I speak two languages to my little one at the same time. For example, when I teach him the name of things around the house, such as apple, I normally teach him “Apple” in English and “Ping Guo” in Chinese.  I’ve heard “One Parent One Language” method in raise a bilingual child. However this won’t work in our situation – Hubby can’t understand my first language. Therefore I have to switch back to English when hubby is with us.

By the age of 14-month, our little one is able to babbling sounds like” mama, baba, dada, nana, maba” etc. However he is not able to say a few words besides “mama” and “dada” based on the current health care guideline. I am a little bit worried that he might be delayed in his language development. Also I am not sure if I should only use one language instead of two with my little one. So I talked to a public health nurse about my concerns. The nurse consulted a language pathologist and provided me some recommendations. Here I would like to share them with those moms who are also try to raise a bilingual child at home. Hope this helps. 🙂

Type of Language Learning
  1. Simultaneous Multilingualism – When children learn two or more languages at the same time before they are 3 years of age. This is what we want for our child. Therefore the tips below will focus on learning two languages simultaneously.
  2. Sequential Multilingualism – When children learn a second language after age 3.

For Type One Language Learners (Simultaneous multilingualism), there are normally three stages involved:

  1. Stage 1 – Mixing
    Children may mix the two languages together in words or in short sentences.
  2. Stage 2 – Sorting out separate languages
    Children start linking words and people to different languages around age 2 1/2 years. While learning the different languages children will often memorize and copy sentences and the person’s actions.
  3. Stage 3 – One language becomes the stronger language
    When children use one of the languages more regularly, that language will become the stronger language (dominant one). By age 7 children can usually mange the different languages without difficulty. They should be able to use the right words and grammar of each language.

For Type Two Language Learners (Sequential Multilingualism)

  1. Advantages:
    When children learn a second language after age 3, the children know the basic rules of their first language (by age 3 children are usually able to carry on conversations), which helps them learn more languages.
  2. Disadvantages:
    Learning a language after age 3 takes more time. There is a 3-month “learning to understand the new language” period. After that, children begin to understand the new language. It takes about 2 years to be able to talk comfortable in the new language and 5-7 years to think in it.
How to make language learning clearer (using strategies)

There are examples of strategies you can follow, choose one that appropriate for your family:

  1. Activity-based: 1 activity = 1 language
    Example: Bedtime story is in English; the rest of the day is in French
  2. People-based: 1 person = 1 language
    Example: Mom speaks one language; Dad speaks another language.
  3. Place-based: 1 place = 1 language
    Example: In the house we speak Italian; outside the house we speak English
Balancing Your Child’s Languages

If it is important for you that both languages be strong, it is also important that your child gets equal amounts of stimulation in both languages.

In our case, it would be a mixed People-based – I mainly speak first language to my child; but I also speak English to him when his dad is with us. In the meantime I also teach my boy names of objects in both languages – I am not sure if doing this might confuse him more or it might work if he thinks there are always two names for everything – then it also might take him more time to process everything I teach him hence delay the time he speaks his first word. I think it might be the best way for our family for now but we will see what will happen in a couple of month.

Are you raising a bilingual child? I would love to hear your thoughts and methods to help your child at home. Please share with us in the comments below. Thank you!

What do I Feed My 14-month Toddle?

Now LO is 14 month old (young) :-). What solid food have we fed him so far?

  • Grains – organic brown rice cereal, oat,  wheat, quinoa, barley, millet, amaranth
  • Fruits – organic apple, banana, avocado, pear, blue berry
  • Vegetables – organic yam, butternut squash, pea, green bean, broccoli, spinach, red legume, corn, cabbage, celery, cucumber,  black-eyed beans
  • Meats – organic chicken, beef, egg yolk, egg white, pork
  • Milk Products – Organic Homo 3.5% cow milk, Gouda cheese, plaint yogurt

14 m0nth toddle dinner

The photo on the left is one of regular dinner for my 14-month old. It has oat meal, quinoa, millet, amaranth, egg and spinach. My LO loves this type of combination!

Again, if we have the choice, we always opt for organic food. It’s highly recommended to Avoid Genetically Modified Foods for Your Baby. Yes, it’s a little bit more expensive. However, since we are making baby foods at home, we save some money than buying those baby foods in jars. Our baby foods are made with loves and the best possible ingredients!

What GM Foods are on the Canadian Market?

GM-Food-Chart-2012_largeBased on CBAN, four GM crops are grown in Canada: corn, soy, canola and white sugar beet (for sugar processing). These are widely used as ingredients in processed foods. There is also now some GM sweet corn grown in Ontario and more could be grown in the future.

  • GM papaya, cotton and some types of squash are grown in the U.S. and can be imported, mostly as processed food ingredients.
  • GM Tomatoes: There are no GM tomatoes on the market anywhere in the world.
  • GM Potatoes: Monsanto took GM potatoes off the market because of consumer rejection.
  • GM Wheat: In 2004, Monsanto withdrew its request for approval of GM wheat in Canada and the US because of consumer and farmer protest. Monsanto has relaunched its GM wheat research.
  • Most of the GM corn grown in Canada is hard corn used for animal feed or processed food ingredients. There is no GM popcorn on the market. There are a few varieties of GM sweetcorn now being sold in Canada.

Avoid Genetically Modified Foods for Your Baby

Canadian government does not require labeling. But for your baby’s health,  you can still make a choice:

  • Eating certified organic food is one way you can avoid GM food because GM is prohibited in organic farming. This includes organic dairy, eggs and meat because animals in organic farming are not fed GM grains like corn or soy.
  • Avoid eating processed foods with corn, canola and soy ingredients.
  • Buy cane sugar or organic sugar to avoid eating sugar from GM sugar beets.
  • Support farmers who fight GM: buy food directly from farmers who
    do not plant GM corn, canola or soy or use GM grains for meat, dairy or egg production.


How to read the GMO labeling

Foods that are genetically modified have a 5 digit code that begins with a 9. Foods that are organic, which cannot be genetically modified by definition, have a 5 digit code that begins with an 8. Lastly, foods that are neither genetically modified nor organic have a 4 digit code.


What is Genetic Modification and Are GM Foods Saft to Eat?

What is Genetic Modification?

Genetic modification (GM) is recombinant DNA technology, also called genetic engineering
or GE. With genetic engineering scientists can change plants or animals at the molecular level by inserting genes or DNA segments from other organisms. Unlike conventional breeding and hybridization, the process of genetic engineering enables the direct transfer of genes between different species or kingdoms that would not breed in nature.

Are GM Foods Safe to Eat?

We don’t know what, if any, impacts GM foods could have on our health. There are many
unanswered safety questions.
Many scientists warn that:

  • The process of genetic engineering could create new allergens.
  • Foreign DNA may be able to survive in the human gut.
  • Animal feeding studies indicate liver and kidney problems.

GM foods are approved for human consumption based on company-produced science. The data is secret and is not peer-reviewed by independent scientists. Health Canada does not do its own testing. There is no mandatory labeling in Canada, and no tracking or monitoring of possible health impacts.

What Finger Foods can I Offer to My 10-month old Baby?

At around 8 months of age, your baby might show an interest in feeding himself/herself. Finger Foods such as soft fruits (banana, peaches or pears) or steamed vegetables can be introduced at this time to develop self-feeding skills.

What are finger foods choice do I have for my baby?

  • Fruits – Peeled raw fruits such as bananas, pears, peaches, papaya or blueberries are good introductory finger foods.
  • Vegetables – Steamed cauliflower, broccoli, beans or peas are good choices; Potatoes and yams cut in wedges and roasted are healthy alternative to french fries.
  • Breads and Cereal – toast, whole-grain crackers and rice cakes; cooked pasta, whole-grain cereal such as Cheerios, cornflakes or spoon size shredded wheat can be served without milk.
  • Meats and Proteins – small pieces of cooked chicken, beef, fish and cubes of soft tofu – you can serve them with homemade vegetable purees.
  • Dairy Products – at around 9 months, dairy products can be introduced. Cheese can be served either grated or cut into thin slices. Most babies also enjoy melted on bread strips.


Should I Feed My Baby Salt?

Sodium is an essential dietary nutrient that plays an important role in metabolism and maintenance of blood pressure. Sodium occurs naturally in many foods such as cow’s milk, human milk, cheese, vegetables and grains. To adults, an excess of sodium can raise blood pressure and cause significant health problems in later life. As it’s not clear what the consequences of excess sodium are for infants, it seems wise not to use added salt when preparing baby food.

Using Kegel Exercises to Improve Your Urinary Incontinence

Factors such as pregnancy, childbirth, aging, being overweight, and abdominal surgery such as cesarean section, often result in the weakening of the pelvic muscles.

So you are a new mom now. After the pregnancy and birth, you might find yourself not being able to control  urinary as good as before. You might even have some of the following problems:

  • Leak a few drops of urine while sneezing, laughing or coughing
  • Have a strong, sudden urge to urinate just before losing a large amount of urine (urinary incontinence)
  • Leak stool (fecal incontinence)

For me, I had the 1st and 2nd issues right after giving the birth. I even got an bladder infection 3 days after the birth.

My OB suggested me to do Kegel exercises to improve the urinary issues like these. However at the first two month after giving birth, I couldn’t even tighten those pelvic floor muscles.  I know how to tighten some muscles in that area, but I don’t  know if I am doing it right.  Therefore my OB referred me to a pelvic floor physio to help me find the pelvic floor muscles.

I’ve seen a pelvic floor physio twice now to get post-natal pelvic floor retraining. Below are some key points from her.
Kegel exercises

How to do Kegel Exercises

  • Find the right pelvic floor muscles. To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream. If you succeed, you’ve got the right muscles.
  • Practice your pelvic floor muscles . Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, empty your bladder and lie on your back. You can put a rolled hand towel under your low back. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds. Try it four or five times in a row.
  • Maintain your focus. For best results, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks.
  • Keep breathing. Avoid holding your breath. Instead, breathe freely during the exercises. If possible, tighten the pelvic floor muscles while breathing out.
  • Repeat 3 times a day. Like any other muscles in our body, to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, you need to practice them regularly.  To expect results — such as less frequent urine leakage — within about a few months, aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day. For continued benefits, make Kegel exercises a permanent part of your daily routine.