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April Spot-Light:

Positive Parenting

Illustration of family reading with child

Parents have an important job. Raising kids is both rewarding and challenging. You’re likely to get a lot of advice along the way, from doctors, family, friends, and even strangers. But every parent and child is unique. Being sensitive and responsive to your kids can help you build positive, healthy relationships together.

“Being a sensitive parent and responding to your kids cuts across all areas of parenting,” says Arizona State University’s Dr. Keith Crnic, a parent-child relationship expert. “What it means is recognizing what your child needs in the moment and providing that in an effective way.”

This can be especially critical for infants and toddlers, he adds. Strong emotional bonds often develop through sensitive, responsive, and consistent parenting in the first years of life. For instance, holding your baby lovingly and responding to their cries helps build strong bonds.

Building Bonds

Strong emotional bonds help children learn how to manage their own feelings and behaviors and develop self-confidence. They help create a safe base from which they can explore, learn, and relate to others.

Experts call this type of strong connection between children and their caregivers “secure attachment.” Securely attached children are more likely to be able to cope with challenges like poverty, family instability, parental stress, and depression.

A recent analysis shows that about 6 out of 10 children in the U.S. develop secure attachments to their parents. The 4 out of 10 kids who lack such bonds may avoid their parents when they are upset or resist their parents if they cause them more distress. Studies suggest that this can make kids more prone to serious behavior problems. Researchers have been testing programs to help parents develop behaviors that encourage secure attachment.

Being Available

Modern life is full of things that can influence your ability to be sensitive and responsive to your child. These include competing priorities, extra work, lack of sleep, and things like mobile devices. Some experts are concerned about the effects that distracted parenting may have on emotional bonding and children’s language development, social interaction, and safety.

If parents are inconsistently available, kids can get distressed and feel hurt, rejected, or ignored. They may have more emotional outbursts and feel alone. They may even stop trying to compete for their parent’s attention and start to lose emotional connections to their parents.

“There are times when kids really do need your attention and want your recognition,” Crnic explains. Parents need to communicate that their kids are valuable and important, and children need to know that parents care what they’re doing, he says.

It can be tough to respond with sensitivity during tantrums, arguments, or other challenging times with your kids. “If parents respond by being irritable or aggressive themselves, children can mimic that behavior, and a negative cycle then continues to escalate,” explains Dr. Carol Metzler, who studies parenting at the Oregon Research Institute.

According to Crnic, kids start to regulate their own emotions and behavior around age three. Up until then, they depend more on you to help them regulate their emotions, whether to calm them or help get them excited. “They’re watching you to see how you do it and listening to how you talk to them about it,” he explains. “Parents need to be good self-regulators. You’re not only trying to regulate your own emotions in the moment, but helping your child learn to manage their emotions and behavior.”

As kids become better at managing their feelings and behavior, it’s important to help them develop coping skills, like active problem solving. Such skills can help them feel confident in handling what comes their way.

“When parents engage positively with their children, teaching them the behaviors and skills that they need to cope with the world, children learn to follow rules and regulate their own feelings,” Metzler says.

“As parents, we try really hard to protect our kids from the experience of bad things,” Crnic explains. “But if you protect them all the time and they are not in situations where they deal with difficult or adverse circumstances, they aren’t able to develop healthy coping skills.”

He encourages you to allow your kids to have more of those experiences and then help them learn how to solve the problems that emerge. Talk through the situation and their feelings. Then work with them to find solutions to put into practice. 

Building Empathy in Children

In a world where our kids often face bullying, stress and fear of being different, building their empathy skills is a critical way to help them thrive. But what can parents do to help? And what does empathy even mean?


What is empathy?
Empathy is the ability to understand and share another person’s experiences, emotions and feelings. Empathy allows us to understand how another person might feel in a specific situation, even when different from our own feelings.

Why empathy helps kids:

  • Helps a child understand that she is a separate individual with her own feelings
  • Helps a child understand that other people can have different thoughts and feelings (and that’s okay)
  • Builds self-esteem by valuing a child’s individual thoughts and affirming their right to those thoughts
  • Supports mental health by enabling a child to express emotions, cope with stress, and understand it’s okay to be different
  • Allows a child to develop healthy relationships because they can relate to, communicate with and share feelings with another person

How parents can build empathy:

  • Help your child understand his or her own emotions; ask them to share their feelings by talking openly about emotions and sharing your own.
  • Help them learn how to label and validate those feelings so they can do the same when interacting with others.
  • Encourage your child to consider the feelings of others in specific situations; ask them how they might feel in the same situation (whether it’s a sibling conflict or a situation at school, etc.).
  • Role play situations where empathy is critical: bullying, peer pressure, conflict with siblings/friends to help them prepare for challenges where empathy might be especially difficult (and important).

Welcome Back to School!

It's back to school time! We are excited about seeing all of our returning students and making our new students feel a part of our CCMES Family. Our theme this year is Only One Meneley, and we really are a wonderfully unique school with amazing staff who truly care about kids, administrators who understand the importance of learning and family, and a community that backs us up. Below are some back-to-school tips:

Back-to-School Tips

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​The following health and safety tips are from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Making the First Day Easier 

  • If your child seems nervous, remind him or her that there are probably a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school. This may be at any age. Teachers know that students are nervous and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible. 

  • Point out the positive aspects of starting school to create positive anticipation about the first day. Your child will see old friends and meet new ones. Refresh his or her positive memories about previous years, when he or she may have returned home after the first day with high spirits because of a good time. 

  • Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your student can walk to school or ride on the bus.

  • If it is a new school for your child, attend any available orientations and take an opportunity to tour the school before the first day.   

  • If you feel it is needed, drive your child (or walk with him or her) to school and pick him or her up on the first day.

Backpack Safety

  • Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back. 

  • Pack light. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s body weight. Go through the pack with your child weekly, and remove unneeded items to keep it light. 

  • Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles. 

  • Adjust the pack so that the bottom sits at the waist. 

  • If your school allows, consider a rolling backpack. This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried up stairs, they may be difficult to roll in snow, and they may not fit in some lockers. 

C.C. Meneley Elementary School Mission Statement
C.C. Meneley challenges and supports students to be the best they can be in a caring and respectful environment.