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Families

Welcome to the TACSEI Families Community. Here you will find information and select resources that have been compiled specifically with the needs of familes in mind. Just as a community changes and grows over time, so will this page as new interactive elements and resources are created and added.

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Backpack Connection Series 

The Backpack Connection Series was created by TACSEI to provide a way for teachers and parents/caregivers to work together to help young children develop social emotional skills and reduce challenging behavior. Teachers may choose to send a handout home in each child’s backpack when a new strategy or skill is introduced to the class. Each Backpack Connection handout provides information that helps parents stay informed about what their child is learning at school and specific ideas on how to use the strategy or skill at home. This series was developed in collaboration with Pyramid Plus: The Colorado Center for Social Emotional Competence and Inclusion and Bal Swan Children's Center in Broomfield, Colorado.

The Backpack Connection Series includes handouts in four categories:

Addressing Behavior

  • How to Understand the Meaning of Your Child’s Challenging BehaviorHow to Understand the Meaning of Your Child’s Challenging Behavior
    As a parent or caregiver, you may see your child behave in a way that doesn’t make sense and ask yourself, “Why does she keep doing that?” It can be very frustrating, especially when it seems like it should be easy for your child to figure out on her own a more appropriate way to behave. In moments like this, it is important to remember that children continue to use a behavior because it works! Your child’s behavior is a powerful communication tool that she uses to tell you what she needs or wants. Sometimes, when a child does not know the appropriate way (such as words, sign language or pointing to pictures) to express her needs or wants she may use challenging behavior (such as hitting, screaming or spitting) to communicate. Challenging behavior gives children the ability to send a message in a fast and powerful way. Children will use challenging behavior to communicate until they learn new, more appropriate ways to express their wants and needs. To change the behavior, it is important for you to first discover what is causing the behavior. If you know why your child is choosing a behavior, you can then teach her to communicate her wants and needs in a new way that everyone feels good about.
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.
  • How to Give Clear DirectionsHow to Give Clear Directions
    “Why do I have to repeat myself time and again?” “Why won’t she listen to me?” Listening and following directions are important skills young children must learn. There are many reasons why children do not follow directions.
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.
  • How to Use Social Stories to Teach Your Child New Skills and ExpectationsHow to Use Social Stories to Teach Your Child New Skills and Expectations
    Children love to listen to stories. Not only are stories used to entertain children, they can also be used as tools to teach new skills and expectations. Many parents read books to teach their children the
    alphabet or numbers, but stories can also be used to: teach social skills, such as how to take turns; teach clear behavior expectations for a time of day (e.g., quiet time) or event (e.g., road trip); reinforce routines, such as getting ready for bed; prepare for new experiences, such as the first day of school; and address a challenging behavior, such as hitting.
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.
  • How to Help Your Child Stop WhiningHow to Help Your Child Stop Whining
    There are few behaviors that are more frustrating to parents than whining. Yet for children, whining can be a quick and easy way to get a parent’s full attention. Children whine when they feel overwhelmed by an emotion or desire and do not have the vocabulary to express their feelings. They also might whine when they do not have the skills to complete a task or because they feel tired, hungry, powerless, or lonely. Simply put, children whine to ask for help. You can help your child figure out WHY he is whining and help him to find a better way to communicate.
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.
  • How to Help Your Child Stop BitingHow to Help Your Child Stop Biting
    It is very common for a child to bite others at some point during their early years. When children do not have the skills or vocabulary to express their feelings, they might engage in a behavior, such as biting, as a way to let you know how they feel.
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.

Emotions

  • How to Use Positive Language to Improve Your Child’s BehaviorHow to Use Positive Language to Improve Your Child’s Behavior
    “Stop it.” “No.” “Don’t do that!” As a parent, you might find yourself using these words and phrases more often when your child begins to make his own choices. Now, stop for a moment and consider how the conversation might feel if you couldn’t use these words? What if, rather than telling your child what he can’t do, you instead chose words to tell him what he can do? While this shift in language might seem small, it actually provides a powerful positive change to the tone of the conversation. When you focus on using positive language with your child, you will likely find that he has fewer tantrums, whines less and overall experiences fewer challenging behaviors.
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.
  • How to Help Your Child Recognize and Understand JealousyHow to Help Your Child Recognize and Understand Jealousy
    Jealousy is a normal emotion experienced by adults and children. Young children often do not have the skills or language to deal with this complex feeling. Many children deal with jealousy by acting out with challenging behavior such as tantrums, crying or hitting. Because your child may act out with anger, it can be difficult for you to respond to the true feeling of jealousy. When you teach your child to identify and respond to the true feelings of jealousy, you are doing more than making him feel better. You are also helping him learn to manage painful feelings and get along with others today and in the future. If your child knows that his feelings are normal and he is unique and valued for who he is, regardless of his toys or abilities, jealous feelings are less likely to escalate into destructive behaviors.
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.
  • How to Help Your ChildHow to Help Your Child Understand and Label Emotions
    You can help your child expand her emotional vocabulary by teaching her words for different feelings. Once she knows and understands these words you can help her to label her own feelings and the feelings of others. Teaching your child about her emotions can be a fun and rewarding experience and prevent challenging behavior from occurring in the first place.
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.
  • How to Help Your Child Recognize and Understand SadnessHow to Help Your Child Recognize & Understand Sadness
    Sadness is one of the easiest emotions for young children to understand, and one of the first emotions that they can lean to recognize in others. Everyone feels sad at one time or another for a variety of reasons. As parents, we want to empower our children to recognize when they are feeling sad and, if needed, take steps to help themselves feel better or ask someone else for help. When you help your child recognize the physical features that accompany feeling sad and understand the reasons why someone might feel sad, you are helping your child create the necessary building blocks for him to manage his own emotions and relationships.
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.
  • How to Help Your Child Recognize and Understand AngerHow to Help Your Child Recognize & Understand Anger
    As a parent, you might find that calming your angry child can be one of the biggest challenges of parenting. There are many things that make children angry, and children feel anger in different ways — just as adults do. As with all emotions, when you help your child recognize and name his anger you have helped him take the first step toward being able to control his own behavior. When your child is able to recognize the feeling and say, “I’m angry!” it reduces the chances that he will act out.
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.
  • How to Help Your Child Recognize and Understand DisappointmentHow to Help Your Child Recognize and Understand Disappointment
    Disappointment is a normal, though difficult, part of growing up. Your child is likely to experience disappointment as she makes new friends, tries new things and experiences the ups and downs of her world. Whether it’s a trip to the park that is ruined by rain or missing a birthday party, life is full of little and big disappointments. When you allow your child to feel, experience and learn from little disappointments at an early age, you help her to create the skills she will need to successfully handle the bigger disappointments she will experience later in childhood and as an adult.
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.
  • How to Help Your Child Recognize and Understand FrustrationHow to Help Your Child Recognize and Understand Frustration
    Frustration is a common emotion in young children and typically occurs as a child begins to discover the many things he would like to do, but simply cannot do yet. Frustration is a natural and healthy emotion and can provide a positive learning experience for a child. The feelings of frustration that occur when your child has difficulty communicating his needs or tying his shoes are his cue that he needs to try to do something in a different way or that what he is doing is not working. You can teach your child how to deal with frustration in a way that is useful for him. Most important, you must respond to frustration when it first arises before it changes into anger or becomes the dreaded temper tantrum. Two skills children must learn in order to deal with frustration are: 1) how to ask for help, and 2) know when to take a break!
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.

Routines and Schedules

  • How to Plan Activities to Reduce Challenging BehaviorHow to Plan Activities to Reduce Challenging Behavior
    Unfortunately, there is no “Guidebook for Parents” that tells you exactly how to raise children who behave perfectly at all times. Each child and family is unique, which means that there is no one solution or strategy that is going to work for everyone, every time. However, while it isn’t magic, simple planning ahead can work wonders to help improve your child’s behavior. You can plan activities to teach your child important skills such as sharing, taking turns or handling disappointment. You can also plan ahead to prepare your child for new events in her life such as changes in her schedule, a road trip, a new baby or a visit from grandparents.
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.
  • How to Help Your Child Have a Successful MorningHow to Help Your Child Have a Successful Morning
    Do you struggle with stressful mornings when you want to lay your head down and cry before 8:00 a.m.? Do you often leave the house in an angry, frantic rush? Mornings can be a particularly challenging time for parents. Getting your entire family up and out the door is no easy task! It is important to understand that your morning routine serves as the foundation for your family’s entire day. You can create a morning routine that not only helps your day to begin more smoothly, but also teaches your child important skills that he needs to become more independent and confident. A morning routine can also reduce challenging behavior such as crying, whining and tantrums.
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.
  • How to Help Your Child Have a Successful BedtimeHow to Help Your Child Have a Successful Bedtime
    Infants and young children need 10 to 12 hours of sleep daily in order to support healthy development. Parents also need to feel rested in order to be nurturing and responsive to their growing and active young children. When your child does not get enough sleep, challenging behaviors are likely to occur. Your child might be moody, short-tempered and unable to engage well in interactions with others. Lack of sleep can also have a negative impact on your child’s ability to learn. When a young child sleeps, her body is busy developing new brain cells that she needs for her physical, mental and emotional development. Babies and young children thrive on predictability and learn from repetition. It is important to establish a bedtime routine that you and your child both understand and helps everyone to feel calm and relaxed.
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.
  • How to Use Visual Schedules to Help Your Child Understand ExpectationsHow to Use Visual Schedules to Help Your Child Understand Expectations
    Often, children do not respond to adult requests because they don’t actually understand what is expected of them. When a child doesn’t understand what he is supposed to do and an adult expects to see action, the result is often challenging behavior such as tantrums, crying or aggressive behavior. A child is more likely to be successful when he is told specifically what he should do rather than what he should not do. A visual (photographs, pictures, charts, etc.) can help to communicate expectations to young children and avoid challenging behavior. Visual schedules (activity steps through pictures) can be used at home to teach routines such as getting ready for school. These types of schedules teach children what is expected of them and reminds them what they should be doing.
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.
  • How to Help Your Child Transition Smoothly Between Places and ActivitiesHow to Help Your Child Transition Smoothly Between Places and Activities
    Transitioning, or moving, to new places, people and activities is something we do many times during the day. However, change can be overwhelming and seem unpredictable for your child, especially when she is not ready to move on to the next place or activity. Children make many transitions each day--from parents to teachers, from home to car, or from play time to the dinner table, for example. When and how often transitions occur are usually decided by an adult and children often act out with challenging behavior when they feel unable to control their routine. When you help your child prepare for transitions you are helping her to learn a valuable skill. The good news is that you can teach her this important skill while you are enjoying time together.
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.

Social Skills

  • How to Teach Your Child to Appropriately Get Your AttentionHow to Teach Your Child to Appropriately Get Your Attention
    The ability to successfully capture someone’s attention is a fundamental social skill and provides the foundation for future success in social settings and relationships. Children use a variety of ways to get attention and will often resort to techniques they find most effective, such as yelling or whining. You can teach your child the way that you want him to get your attention (such as tapping you on the shoulder) and then reward him when that behavior occurs. When you take the time at home to build on the skills your child is learning at school, you reinforce these positive skills and create a solid social foundation for your child which will help to reduce challenging behaviors.
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.
  • How to Help Your Child Learn to ShareHow to Help Your Child Learn to Share
    Learning how to share is a big challenge for all children because it often means putting aside one’s own needs in order to make someone else happy. Sharing is not a skill children have when they are born—they need to be taught how to share and how to see that their efforts have helped someone else feel happy or solve a problem. In order to learn this skill, children need adults to provide them with many different opportunities where they can practice how to share with others and see other children in the act of sharing. When a child learns how to share with others she feels more confident and is better able to play with other children independently. Additionally, learning how to share gives a child a very important and solid foundation of successful friendship skills she can continue to build on as she grows.
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.
  • How to Help Your Child Manage Time and Understand ExpectationsHow to Help Your Child Manage Time and Understand Expectations
    Time is an unclear measure for children. It is very common for a parent to feel frustrated with a child when he has not done what he was asked to do (e.g., pick up toys, put on shoes, finish snack) even after he has been given a five-minute warning. However, it is important for parents to know that there is little difference between five minutes and an hour to young children because of the way they experience time. Children live in the moment and the future is difficult for them to measure. When parents use time (rather than events such as “when I get to the top of the stairs”) to communicate what they expect the child to do, it can lead to the child feeling confused and frustrated, and ultimately, the child expressing his emotions through a tantrum.
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.
  • How to Help Your Child Learn to TradeHow to Help Your Child Learn to Trade
    When a child sees another child playing with a toy she wants, her first instinct is to take it. This behavior can be frustrating to playmates and often leads to an argument. Trading is a solution children can choose as a way to get an object from someone else in a positive way, and is a great first step in learning how to share. Trading is also a skill that must be taught and practiced many times. However, once your child is comfortable trading with others it can make her feel empowered. Knowing how to trade helps children to manage their emotions and confidently solve their own problems without help from an adult. Unlike sharing, where children must wait to use a toy, trading is a solution that allows both people to feel happy with the outcome right away. It takes patience and guidance to teach your child how to negotiate with playmates by herself, but it is a valuable skill that she will use throughout her life.
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online.

Making Life Easier

TACSEI's "Making Life Easier" series is designed specifically for parents and caregivers. This series of tipsheets contains valuable information on how to make often challenging events easier to navigate, and even enjoyable, for both caregivers and children.

  • Making Life Easier: Holidays-Strategies for SuccessMaking Life Easier: Going to the Doctor or Dentist
    Doctor and dentist visits can be very stressful for young children. Routine check-ups can cause anxiety, fear and distress in toddlers and preschoolers. In this Making Life Easier issue, adults are provided with tips to prepare the child for these appointments and make visits to the doctor or dentist less stressful for everyone (December, 2013).
  • Making Life Easier: Holidays-Strategies for SuccessMaking Life Easier: Holidays-Strategies for Success
    While the holiday season is filled with enjoyable activities, events and traditions, it can also be a hectic and stressful time. Travel, shopping, loud music, bright lights, unfamiliar food, and busy schedules can turn typical routines upside down! The disruption to routine can be particularly difficult for children who depend on routine and predictability to engage in appropriate behavior.(November, 2013).
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online
    .
  • Making Life Easier: Bedtime and NaptimeMaking Life Easier: Bedtime and Naptime
    Many families find bedtime and naptime to be a challenge for them and their children. Sleep problems can make infants and young children moody, short tempered and unable to engage well in interactions with others. Sleep problems can also impact learning. Parents also need to feel rested in order to be nurturing and responsive to their growing and active young children. This first installment of the Making Life Easier series provides a few proven tips for making bedtimes and naptimes easier for both parents and children. Also includes a handy tip card for quick reference.(November, 2010).
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online
    .
  • Making Life Easier: Running ErrandsMaking Life Easier: Running Errands
    Running errands (e.g., going to the store, bank, etc.) is one of those essential household routines that all families experience. It is often thought of as a “maintenance” activity that is necessary for the family, but not enjoyable for young children. While there can be huge benefits in taking your young child along, running errands can be extremely difficult if the child has challenging behavior. Still, there are several steps you can take to help you and your child get the most out of these outings. Also includes a handy tip card for quick reference. (November, 2010).
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online
    .
  • Making Life Easier: DiaperingMaking Life Easier: Diapering
    For many families, changing a child’s diaper can be a major battle. This routine is usually not as predictable as other activities, is often unpleasant for adults and not an event that the young child enjoys. While it can be challenging, it is also an opportunity to build a positive, nurturing and responsive relationship with your child. This installment of the Making Life Easier series provides several proven strategies to help make diapering a positive and relationship building experience for you both. Also includes a handy tip card for quick reference. (November, 2010).
    Trouble downloading? Read this document online
    .

Resources

  • Positive Solutions for FamiliesPositive Solutions for Families
    This four-page brochure provides parents with eight practical tips they can use when their young children exhibit challenging behavior. Each tip includes a brief explanation and an example to show parents how they might use the specific approach with their own family in everyday life. This product is also available in Spanish.
  • Teaching Your Child to: Identify and Express Emotions Make the Most of Playtime
    Playtime is special. Playing together with your child is not only fun, but a critical time to support your baby or toddler’s healthy development. Making time for play, especially active play, can also help in reducing your child’s challenging behavior. So what can you do to make the most of your child's playtime? To answer this question, check out the many tips and ideas for children of varying ages in this fun and useful six-page resource. (CSEFEL Resource)
  • Teaching Your Child to: Identify and Express Emotions Teaching Your Child to: Identify and Express Emotions
    Young children deal with many of the same emotions adults do. Children get angry, sad, frustrated, nervous, happy, or embarrassed, but they often do not have the words to talk about how they are feeling. Instead, they sometimes act out these emotions in very physical and inappropriate ways. This four-page handout describes specific steps and strategies adults can use to help children express themselves in ways that are appropriate. (CSEFEL Resource)
  • Teaching Your Child to: Cooperate with RequestsTeaching Your Child to: Cooperate with Requests
    Young children can learn to follow adult expectations, including performing simple chores, if the expectations are developmentally appropriate (meaning they match what can be expected for children at that age) and are taught to the child. This four-page handout provides information on what you might expect from your preschooler and some tips for helping your child learn and follow your requests. (CSEFEL Resource)
  • Responding to Your Child's BiteResponding to Your Child's Bite
    Many toddlers and young children bite. Developmentally, most toddlers don’t have enough words to express how they are feeling. They primarily rely on sounds and actions to communicate what they are thinking and feeling. Biting is one of the ways toddlers express their needs, desires, or feelings. This handout provides information on why children bite, what to do and what not to do, and when to seek professional help. (CSEFEL Resource)
  • Teaching Your Child About FeelingsTeaching Your Child About Feelings
    Understanding feelings is an important part of a child’s social emotional development. Babies and toddlers experience feelings just like you do, and know when you are feeling happy or down as well. When you use words to describe emotions, share in their good feelings, and comfort them when they feel sad or overwhelmed, young children are learning important social emotional skills. (CSEFEL Resource)
  • Reading Your Child's Cues from Birth to 2Understanding Your Child's Behavior: Reading Your Child's Cues from Birth to 2
    Babies and toddlers experience and express thoughts and feelings. Often they communicate their strong feelings through behaviors that adults understand right away. Other times, very young children’s behavior can be confusing or even frustrating to the adults who care for them. Being able to stay calm, make a good guess at what the behavior might mean, and then respond helps children understand that they are powerful communicators. Over the long-term, this helps children learn how to connect with others in ways that are healthy and respectful—a skill they’ll use for life. (CSEFEL Resource)
  • Teaching Your Child to Become Independent with Daily RoutinesTeaching Your Child to Become Independent with Daily Routines
    Young children can learn how to do simple daily self-help activities—they just need to be taught what to do. When teaching a child to do self-care skills, you first need to know what you can typically expect of a young child, your child’s skill level, and how to provide clear and simple instructions about how to do a task. In addition, providing children with ample encouragement that is both positive and specific will help promote their success. The information in this handout will help you understand what you can expect from your preschooler and provides tips for helping your child learn how to become more independent with daily routines. (CSEFEL Resource)
  • What Works Brief 15: Using Choice and Preference to Promote Improved BehaviorWhat Works Brief 15: Using Choice and Preference to Promote Improved Behavior
    Offering choices to children involves allowing them to indicate their preference at specific points in time and throughout their day and then giving them access to the items or activities they choose. This Brief explains why it is important to provide children with choices and provides examples of how teachers, parents, and other caregivers can do so to help children improve their behavior. (CSEFEL Resource)
    [Accompanying Handout]
  • What Works Brief 16: Fathers and Father-Figures: Their Important Role in Children’s Social and Emotional DevelopmentWhat Works Brief 16: Fathers and Father-Figures: Their Important Role in Children’s Social and Emotional Development
    There are several ways to conceptualize fathers’ impact on children. This Brief provides one way that emphasizes three areas to consider when thinking about father involvement: engagement and interaction; availability and accessibility; and day-to-day care. (CSEFEL Resource)
    [Accompanying Handout]

Videos

The videos described below are available on DVD and can be ordered through CSEFEL by completing and submitting this order form.

  • Promoting Social Emotional Competence VideoPromoting Social Emotional Competence was designed to provide a foundation for understanding the Teaching Pyramid as a framework for promoting young children’s social and emotional development and preventing and addressing challenging behavior. This 22-minute video is a perfect way to be introduced to and become familiar with the pyramid framework and is available with both English and Spanish open captioning. View this video online at the CSEFEL website.
  • Practical Strategies for Teaching Social Emotional SkillsPractical Strategies for Teaching Social Emotional Skills. This 28-minute video highlights strategies and approaches that early childhood personnel and families can use to systematically target social emotional supports that build young children’s skills in a variety of areas including making friends, problem solving, asking an adult for help, talking about feelings, and managing their emotions. The strategies rely on a 3-stage approach to supporting young children’s social emotional development by (1) introducing and practicing a skill, (2) building fluency and competency with a skill, and (3) ensuring there is maintenance of a skill. The video provides multiple examples of early childhood personnel demonstrating how to introduce a skill using a variety of tools, practice a skill through planned and unscripted activities, and maintain the skill by recognizing children for using the skill on their own. View this video online at the CSEFEL website.

Web Presentations

  • Moving Right Along Planning Transitions to Prevent Challenging Behavior
    This web presentation offers a discussion of why challenging behavior occurs during transitions, strategies for planning and implementing more effective transitions, ideas for using transitions to teach social skills and emotional competencies, and a planning process for working with children who continue to have difficulty during transitions. (May, 2008)

Websites

TACSEI Pages

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