Friday, December 2, 2016

December: Attention


“Attention” in school is often mentioned when referring to how long your child can participate in a group or activity, as in “attention span.”  In this post, we are focused on attention seeking behavior, which is a common cause of unwanted behaviors in preschoolers. All children need attention and some need it more than others! If children do not receive sufficient positive attention through playing and interacting with others, they will often seek out it out in other ways. This can result in unwanted behavior. It may sound crazy to us, but for a child, negative attention is better than no attention at all! Here are some resources that should help explain attention seeking behaviors along with some strategies to help deal with it.

DID YOU KNOW? At the Don Earl Center, we use the Guiding Hand as a method to help teach appropriate expectations and promote positive interactions. Please contact your child’s teacher for more information.

FUN FACT: According to, one of the main reasons children have attention seeking behavior is that some children get as little as 7 minutes a day of one on one time with their parents! 

Friday, November 4, 2016

November-Positive Communication


Communication is what we say and how we say it. Positive communication between you and your child helps to create happy and trusting relationships and develop confidence and a good self-image. Building these types of relationships will also help with limiting unwanted behaviors because your child will be more trusting and want to please you. Practicing positive communication now will have lifelong effects! Check out these tips and suggestions:

DID YOU KNOW? At the Don Earl Early Childhood Center, we strive to be positive. For every one directive we give, we try to notice and say four positive comments. We have 4:1 posters posted all around the center!

FUN FACT: Studies show that children do best when they have at least three loving and supportive adult influences in their lives.

Friday, October 7, 2016


Speech and Language development begins at birth. Language will develop as children learn new uses, increase their vocabulary, and speak and understand more complex sentences. We continue to learn and revise our language over our lifetime, but the first 3-5 years of life are the most important. It is during these years that the brain’s organization, development, and life functioning is shaped.   The preschool years especially need to be filled with experiences that are rich with sounds and listening to the language of others. The following resources will give you some ideas of what to expect and how to promote speech and language growth:

DID YOU KNOW?: Infant educational television does not promote intellectual development, because infants respond to things that respond to them. Even the most advanced DVD does not respond to the specific cues of an infant. Playing with a baby is far more valuable than even the most expensive system of videos.

FUN FACT: Babies whose parents talk to them frequently know 300 more words by age 2 than babies whose parents rarely speak to them.

Friday, September 2, 2016

September-Age Appropriate Expectations

Age Appropriate Expectations

Beginning at birth, children progress through their development changing and growing physically, socially, and cognitively. This process involves learning skills such as sitting, crawling, walking, talking, and learning concepts like colors and shapes. It also involves skills such as following directions, being able to attend to an activity, and taking turns. Many of these skills are referred to as developmental milestones and help us to predict when most children will attain them. It is important to remember that although children tend to follow a fairly predictable course of development, each child is unique and may gain some skills a little sooner and some skills a little later than peers of the same age. Some children exhibit developmental delays and it is important to adjust the guidelines and expectations based on their current functioning and not the actual age of the child. For example, children who have not attained typical two year old skills are probably NOT ready to potty train, just because they are 2 years old.

The following are good resources for age appropriate expectations. If you have any additional questions or concerns about age appropriate expectations, please contact your child’s teacher.

Welcome Post

Welcome to the Don Earl Parent Blog!  The first Friday of each month, we will post about a new topic.  Based on the feedback from the survey we handed out at open house, we picked the topics that parents were most interested in learning more about.  Here is the schedule for this school year:
September- Age Appropriate Expectations
October- Speech/Language Development
November- Positive Communication
December- Attention Seeking Behavior
January- Social Skills Development
February- Stress & Stress Management
March- Sleep/Bedtime Routine
April- Sibling Rivalry
May- Literacy in Preschool  
If you have specific questions about one of the topics, feel free to comment and we will reply as soon as possible.  You can access the blog from your computer or mobile device.  It will be on the parent section of our website soon for easy access.  We will also send the link out via our Twitter and FaceBook account.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

August-Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety– Ideas for Back to School

Many children experience some separation anxiety when they begin a new school year, especially if this is their first time in preschool. Here are some ideas you can try with your child if he or she is having a difficult time saying goodbye:
- Prepare your child by talking about going to school and what will happen there.
- Spend a few minutes of special time with your child at home in the morning.
- Create a routine around leaving and returning. For example, you may have a special hug, kiss, or greeting for saying goodbye and hello.
- Make sure to say goodbye to your child before leaving, “sneaking out” can make the child more upset later. But then leave promptly.
- Choose a security object to bring along to school. This could be a favorite toy or blanket, or a photo of your family. It is a good idea to talk to your child’s teacher before discussing this with your child, to come up with a plan that will work for the classroom (many classrooms have policies about toys, etc. from home). You can develop a plan with your child’s teacher where the use of the security object can be phased out (for example, your child brings a family photo to school and keeps it in his backpack. He goes to his bag and looks at the photo if he starts to feel upset).
A great book to read with your child before starting school is the Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn

Kissing Hand

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

June: Summer

We hope everyone has a safe and fun summer!  Here are some summer safety tips:
SUNSCREEN, even being outdoors for a short time can result in a sun burn. Remember to put on sunscreen about 15 minutes before going outside. If swimming or sweating it is important to reapply often and take breaks in the shade. Sunscreen does not mean that you can be out in the full sun all day and not burn.

HYDRATE as the temperature increases, it becomes more important to monitor that your child is taking in enough fluids; water is the best way to hydrate. Encourage your child to drink water before, during and after playing outside; in addition to drinking water, juice or milk with meals. Remember if you are thirsty you may already be dehydrated, if your urine is dark you need to drink more.

BEWARE OF BUG BITES: wearing hats, long pants and long sleeve shirt can help protect from bug bites. Ticks, mosquitos, bees and other insects love the warmer weather. Be alert after spending days and evenings outdoors. Check your child during bath time or after being outside for bug bites and ticks. Ticks should be removed within 24 hours, you should save the tick in the freezer - in a Ziploc bag, marked with the name of individual, area of body it was removed from and where you were when you got the tick. A date is also helpful if any illness occurs later. Don’t forget those bees can be attracted to sweet smelling perfumes or beverages.

To have your child’s helmeted checked for safety visit:
For fun activities for you and your preschooler, check out the following websites:
For summer camp information, visit:
HAVE FUN! Don’t forget to read this summer too!!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

May Toilet Training

May Blog:
Toilet Training
This can be one of the biggest struggles of parenting.  First and foremost, make sure your child is ready to begin the process.  Do they tell you when they have to go, can they pull their pants down by themselves, will they sit on the toilet, etc.  Secondly, you have to remember that this is something they have complete control of; you cannot make them go to the bathroom.  It’s important to also remember that this is a process; kids are not potty trained overnight.  It takes a lot of time, patience, and consistency.  Accidents are going to happen and it is very normal for them to have accidents.  So make sure to pack extra underwear and clothes when you go places and send extra sets to school too!  Make sure to take them to the bathroom often, just as reminders and have them practice sitting, even if they don’t have to go.  Try not to get frustrated, kids can tell when adults are frustrated and that will just make it harder.  For some more helpful information, please see the websites below.  Good luck!  Each child is different.  Some will be “easy” to potty train, others might be difficult.  Eventually they will get it, don’t compare to others just do what works best for your child. 
Here are some links with helpful information:

Friday, May 6, 2016

Week of the Young Child

April was a popular month. 
In the month of April, we celebrated the National Week of the Young Child, however we extend the fun to last all month long.  Here are some ways to make learning fun at home with your child:
Making Play Fun:
Nature Fun:
Importance of Music:
April was also Autism Awareness Month!  We had a very successful Autism Fair.  If you were unable to make it, here is a list of the resources/vendors that were here that night and that provide resources to families in our community:
United 4 Children , Ride on St. Louis,  MO-Health Net, STARS Program, Rock the Spectrum Gym,  Disability Resource Association , St Louis Regional Center, Next Steps for Life , COMTREA,  MO-FEAT, JUDEVINE, Helping Hands and Horses

Here is an online recourse guide:

Finally, April was also Child Abuse Prevention Month!  Here are some helpful links and resources:

Car Seat/Booster Seat Info:
Remember, you can go to any firehouse and have them check your car seat to make sure it is installed correctly.

The Village of Helping Hands Turning Point is a great place in Jefferson County to help with a variety of parenting needs. 

Resource Guide & Tips for Child Abuse Prevention:

Monday, April 11, 2016


 "A positive sense of self is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. Children with high self-esteem feel loved and competent and develop into happy, productive people."- Kristen Finello Author of Simple Way To Boost Your Child's Self-Esteem. 
Follow the link below to learn more about the Dos and Donts.

"Self-esteem is about liking yourself and who you are. For children it comes from knowing that you're loved and that you belong to a family that values you." -A quote from the Raising Children's Network. Follow the link below to learn more about the needs of children at different ages of development to help them be successful.

The following links will provide you with more information on how to help your children have a positive self-esteem.

Friday, March 4, 2016

March- Mealtime/Eating Issues

Mealtime with young eaters can be a struggle for many parents, whether you have a picky eater or not. The following information gives some quick realistic strategies that can be implemented at home to make mealtime more enjoyable and less of a struggle. 

The following information is taken from

My hope is that this page will provide you with the tools to start laying a good foundation in your kid's eating skills.  I believe this list contains the most important steps to getting your kid/toddler/baby (picky eater or not) to eat well. These are the strategies I often give parents when I walk into their home for the first time and when families are able to make these changes I see the most improvement.  As a mom, they have helped set the stage for both my sons feeding skills, and I notice very quickly that when I deviate from these rules their eating suffers.  In those instances, I get back to these basics, and it works!  If the following steps seem overwhelming, then think about implementing them in small manageable steps. I have many more tips and strategies in just about every post I write, even the recipes (check out a list at the end of this page) 

1. Eat with your kids

This may seem like an obvious tip, but in today's hectic pace of life it's so easy to multitask or take a break when our kids are eating.  We are juggling so much and getting your kid into a chair with food in front of them can be a monumental feat in and of itself.  I know it may be the only time you have to unload the dishwasher or check your email, but eating with your child is a valuable and a worthwhile learning opportunity.  If your child's eating is poor, this is an opportunity you don't want to miss very often, not to say that it also isn't important for the kids that are eating well.

Meals are a social experience and we learn from what we see, you know, monkey see, monkey do.  If you expect your kid to eat something new, how willing will they be if you aren't trying it too? Kids, especially babies and toddlers, may actually watch how you bite and chew a new food, using you as a model for how they should proceed.  It also sets a standard of eating, meaning your kid will grow up knowing that vegetables (or whatever else you are eating) are healthful and part of a normal diet.  I am not saying that all kids will see Mommy eating spinach and thus eat spinach, but it is the first step in setting a good foundation for a diet with more variety.  Another advantage to eating with your child is that you can quickly give them encouragement to try the spinach before it ends up on the floor or they have filled up on milk and noodles (which might happen if you are distracted by unloading the dishwasher.)

If it seems overwhelming to carve out time to eat with your child, start small, aim for eating dinner together three times a week, or nightly, eventually making your way up to eating together for most meals.  Of course, there are times when logistically it doesn't work out, don't beat yourself up about it if it doesn't happen occasionally.

2. Eat at a table

Okay, be honest with yourself, how often does your child actually sit down at a table to eat their meals (no judgement here from me)?  Our culture has become so hurried that it's very commonplace to set out a plate and let our kids eat while they play (aka grazing) or pass through a fast food window and eat in the car. However, in these types of scenarios kids are distracted and the message that's being sent is "eating isn't that important."  There are situations where this is inevitable, such as traveling and parties, outside of that I would strongly discourage it, at least on a regular basis.  If you need to start small (baby step) use a  pop up card table or a coffee table at first (also see my post on "
Turn off the TV").  A small kid's table is fine too, just make sure you are going to sit at it with them.

3. Space meals and snacks 2.5 -3 hours apart

I can't stress how important this is, and it is probably the biggest mistake everyone makes!  Don't worry, it's not your fault, nobody tells you that kids are supposed to eat every 3 hours with NOTHING in between but water. Kids like to graze and snack throughout the day, which on the surface seems fine because at least they are eating.  In reality, they are eating just enough to suppress their appetite and then don't get hungry enough to eat a meal.  Juice, milk, or cheerios are enough to fill their little bellies up, so save the other drinks to have with their meals.  I have seen the greatest improvements in kids eating when families strictly adhere to this.  The 2.5-3 hour mark is the ideal window of time for their metabolism and hunger cycle.  I know that for some families this can be a big change, but I think it is well worth it.  Besides, this is the best cycle for adults to be on too, it increases our metabolism, helping us to maintain a healthy weight.  If you don't believe me, try an experiment, follow this for a couple days and see if you notice a difference. In most cases, they will be hungrier when they get to the table.   Here is an example of Sam's routine:

                                      Breakfast- 8:30 AM
                                      Lunch- 11:30 AM
                                      Nap- 12:30 PM
                                      Snack- 4:00 PM
                                      Dinner- 6:30 PM
                                      Bedtime- 7:30 PM

You don't have to follow this exactly, base it around when your child sleeps.  Generally, have them eat about 1/2 hour after waking up.  Sam takes a three hour nap most of the time so that afternoon snack may be a little longer of a stretch.  If your child sleeps later in the day, it may make sense to have a morning snack.  Maybe they take a short nap or don't take one at all, then a morning and afternoon snack might make more sense.  Of course, a bedtime snack could work as well.

4. Don't force feed

I am going to keep this short.  Please don't hold your child's mouth open and shove a fork into it.  I know you just want them to try it because if they do they will love it, but it creates so much negativity around meals that your child will start to avoid them altogether.  Forcing them to eat also makes them distrustful at meals.  They feel like they have to be on guard and are thus defensive, which means they will eat less.  Most simply though, it isn't very nice.  How would you feel if someone was doing that to you?  If you have already done this, it's okay, just don't do it again, and let your kid know you won't do it again.  Stand behind your word and you will start to build some trust and make some progress.

5. Set an example

Children take in so many of our nuances and behaviors, the good and the bad.  They see your reaction when you have a bite of broccoli, or if you even put the broccoli on your own plate.  If you don't like to eat certain textures or have a limited diet, your child will pick up on it.  They notice and will repeat the disgusted face you made when you tried a bite of the broccoli or if you didn't take any of the broccoli.  This sends a very strong message to them: you can pick and choose what you want to eat and some foods taste gross.  Try to put aside any food issues you may have and at least stay neutral about the food if you can't be excited about eating it.  Also, consider if you are limiting the foods you expose your child to because you don't like them.  Just because you don't like mushrooms, doesn't mean your child won't like them.  In fact, you are doing them a disservice by assuming they won't like it... I know the thought process doesn't even get that far usually.  You may not even think to buy the mushrooms because you don't eat them.  Think outside of the box a little when planning your meals, is there something else you can all try together?  Just remember to be conscience of your attitude and personal response to the food.

6. Don't be a short order cook

I know it sucks when your kid doesn't eat what you put down in front of them, especially if you had them in mind when you were making it.  I really struggle with this myself as a mom, even though I know better as a therapist.  It is beyond frustrating when they push the plate away, start to play with the food, or try to get out of their chair.  As a parent you start to add up what they have already eaten that day and maybe it wasn't so great.  Maybe they are tantruming, cranky, and you know that if they don't eat something it is going to be a long night.  In some cases, parents are worried about weight gain and if the kid doesn't eat, they aren't going to put on weight.  I know it is so tempting to open the fridge and say "What do you want?" or to reach in the cupboard for the easy mac you know they will eat, but I would encourage you to take a deep breath and collect your thoughts. How do you really want to proceed?  If you give in and get them a preferred food or something they requested, you are reinforcing the idea that they don't have to eat what you are serving.  I can almost guarantee you that the next meal you put something in front of them, they will do the same thing to get what they would rather eat.  Think about it, as adults we know it's not healthy to eat easy mac every night, or at least we should, but children don't have self control.  It is our job to teach that to them... I know it is a really hard job!  Ultimately, I think it is more frustrating to start cooking multiple meals when you have already put the effort into the one that is front of them, and now your cooking again instead of eating together as a family.  Your kitchen is not a restaurant, don't let you kids think it is one.

7. Have a preferred food at each meal

A preferred food is something your kid likes and consistently eats well, this is the kind of food you can count on.  For instance with my son, Sam, bread is one food he loves and he would eat tons of it at a meal before touching anything else, if I let him.  Some kids only have a few foods they consistently like. If that is the case, then you may want to broaden what you consider preferred to also include foods they eat at least some of the time.  When you give your child a meal, try to have at least one food on the plate you know they like.  This frees you up to give some other foods that may be non-preferred or new because you know that at a minimum there is something they will actually ingest.  This principal goes hand in hand with principal 6, and should make you feel more comfortable about not resorting to short order cooking.

Okay, let me give you a more concrete example:

  • Corn, green beans, noodles, ham, cheese, and shrimp are some of Sam's preferred foods.  Cauliflower, chicken salad, lettuce, hamburger, and navy beans are some of his non-preferred foods.  I know I am going to make hamburgers for dinner, which may be a struggle for him to eat, if he eats any of it at all.  To offset that I would make green beans (not cauliflower), put cheese on his burger, and of course he would have his bun, which will help him feel more comfortable and thus more likely to try some of the burger.  Of course, I am going to spend a little time working with him to eat his non-preferred food as well.  In this example, I gave him more than one preferred food, but you don't necessarily need to, one preferred food at a minimum.  

Each child is different, give these steps some time, for a child (and you) to adapt to a new routine before you expect to see major changes in their eating.  But, if you pay attention, I bet you will notice some small positive changes.  Give yourself a pat on the back for the baby steps, they are important and they add up.  Don't forget to praise your kiddo on the small changes you see too (be specific: I really like how you tasted a green bean tonight)!

This site is full of more strategies and in many of the posts I re-visit and expand on some of these same principals because I really do feel like they are the foundation to good eating habits.  

Some Encouraging Words

I wish I had some quick trick that would solve all of your kid's "picky" eating tendencies. Feeding your kid can be the most stressful time of day if you feel your child isn't eating well. Although you can pick up some quick suggestions here, at Your Kid's Table, that will help, most of the strategies I am recommending require some real change, which is really hard for anyone. In most cases, the more selective your kid is about eating means the more changes you will need to make. Start by making small changes each day, each week, and it won't be as overwhelming. Don't expect miracles to happen overnight. Look for the small accomplishments and pat yourself (and your kid) on the back. My best advice is to stay consistent and to keep trying will help get you there!

Friday, February 5, 2016

February-Kindergarten Transition

Kindergarten Transition

Transitioning to kindergarten can be a difficult process for both parents and the students.  In order to help them be most successful, they need to see that you are excited about them starting school!  Drive them by their new school over the summer and talk about the new building.  Let them play on the playground and take them on a tour of the school too.  The more they see it, the more familiar and comfortable they will be on the first day.  In the spring, the students will all participate in Kindergarten groups and will meet other students in the center that will be going to the same building as them next year.  There will be weekly notes sent home giving suggestions of things you can do at home to help with the transition process and teaching them the social skills they will need to make new friends next year.  They will also get a picture book of what their new school looks like so you can look at it over the summer and help prepare them. Here is a list of books that you can also read with your child at home to help them get ready for this exciting change:
The Night Before Kindergarten by: Natasha Wing
Kindergarten Here I Come by: D.J. Steinberg
First Day Jitters by: Julie Dannenberg
Emily’s First Day of School by: Sarah Duchess of York
Mouse’s First Day of School by: Laura Thompson
The Berenstain Bears Go To School by: Stan & Jan Berenstain
Llama Llama Misses Mama by: Anne Dewdney
Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by: Joseph Slate
Froggy Goes to School by: Jonathon London
Curious George First Day of School by: Margret & H.A. Reyes
It’s Hard to Be Five by: Jamie Lee Curtis
First Day of School by: Mercer Mayer
Kindergarten Rocks by: Katie Davis
Kindergarten Countdown by: Anne Jane Hays

As a parent, it can be hard to send your child off to school for a full day but just think back to their very first day of preschool.  Look at how much they have grown since they have been here at our center.  Your child will do great in Kindergarten and you will be amazed by how much they grow and learn in that one year!