The Anxious Parent...

ICTF's Grants Manager says that her anxiety affects her parenting, but she believes it is mostly in a good way.

Anxiety

ICTF's Grant Manager writes a monthly column in her hometown newspaper, the Idaho Post Register (Idaho Falls).

Board Meeting January 23, 2018

 IDAHO CHILDREN’S TRUST FUND

MEETING NOTICE: January 23, 2018

9:00 A.M.

The Idaho Children’s Trust Fund Board will hold its Regularly Scheduled Board Meeting on Tuesday, January 23, 2018 in the 4th Floor Conference Room in the Borah Building

304 N. 8th St., Boise 83702

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9:00.  Members of the public wishing to participate in person may do so by appearing at the Borah Building at the designated time.  Members of the public wishing to participate by telephone should contact the Children’s Trust Fund Board offices (at 208-386-9317) to obtain the call in number and pass code. 

This notice is published pursuant to §672343 Idaho Code. For additional information regarding Idaho’s Open Meeting law, please see Idaho Code §§ 672340 through 672347.

Posted January 16, 2018

Comfort & Joy

December 2017

Taryn Yates, Idaho Childrens Trust Fund's Grant Manager

At the first of the month, I took time while my kids were sleeping to put up all my Christmas decorations. There aren’t a whole lot of them- just enough to fill my mantle and take up a couple of shelves on bookcase, with additional Knick knacks here and there. Still, as I lovingly placed each one, I must have been taking them for granted on some level, because as I was dusting the other day, I found myself staring with great intensity at a decorative sign I have on the wall. It says “comfort and joy” in pretty letters along with a picture of a fireplace. It’s a reference to an old, familiar carol and yet I think people may sing that line without really stopping to think about how important comfort and joy are to the human experience. I know I have.

Comfort implies a state of being free of pain, discomfort, and stress. It brings to mind a safe, warm place to rest and recharge. Joy has another meaning altogether. It’s more than happiness. Joy is an unfettered and exuberant positivity that swells your heart. Joy and love seem to go hand in hand and together are arguably, one of the key goals to our existence.   Yet how many people are going without one or all of these things this holiday season? How many children are living, perhaps loved, but facing extremely stressful situations such as financial or housing instability or who have parents struggling with mental illness or addiction?

I absently wiped the edges of that wooden sign and let myself consider a simple, but profound Christmas wish. What if every child could live in comfort and joy this season and beyond? What would that look like? To live in comfort, all children would have warm, clean homes, be well-fed, have adequate clothing, and be free from emotional stress and turmoil. To live with joy, all children would feel secure and loved and would love someone in return. Their brains would be stimulated by their environment as they learn, grow, and play.

Considering the state of the world this vision seems too big for one person to take on. Bringing true comfort and joy to all of our children would take a lot of work. We would have to decide as a community and society that we are going to prioritize children and their families. That their well-being is how we determine if we are a successful nation. A shift like that would take a lot of time and intention from a lot of people.

So I came up with a plan for myself for the here and now. Taking into consideration my current emotional bandwidth and resources, I’ll start with my closest inner circle of children and work my way out. What can I do to bring comfort and joy to the lives of my own children? We already have quite a bit of snuggle time, play time, and lots of love. They are pretty comfortable and happy. Now I can move onto children of family and friends. Does anyone need cookies, clothes, or help? What about children in my neighborhood? Or my children’s school?

One day I’m hoping to report that I had enough time and resources to reach out and do something to bring comfort and joy to a child far across the world from me. But, for now, in the midst of runny noses, teething, and potty training. I’m just going to do what I can. And that…is a joyous thing.

Originally appeared in the Post Register, Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Play, Imagine, Create This Halloween

By Taryn Yates

Published in the Post Register October 19,2017.

Its Halloween season and I’m well into the process of celebrating with my family. I have excitedly planned out activities for every weekend as well as prepared for the big day. The house is decorated, the pumpkins are painted, and our costumes are (almost) picked out. My son can’t decide if he wants to be a T-rex or Batman for Halloween.  I tell him, “Why not both?”  Thanks to a rather ingenious costume that you can put on your toddler to make them look like they are riding a dinosaur, he can trick or treat as, you guessed it, Batman riding a dinosaur!  There’s not much cooler than that.

It’s no surprise that this time of year is special to so many people. Halloween taps into both our imaginations and our desire for community.  Fostering imagination and imaginative play are great for a child’s brain development.  Children around three or four have rapidly developing imaginations.  They love to pretend they are different people doing different things and could have imaginary friends-all of which are developmentally typical and should be encouraged.

My son and I play a game where he can change me into a zombie with a magic wand.  Now, before your eyebrow gets too high about the scary subject matter, he doesn’t actually know what zombies eat in modern, adult movies.  He just knows they walk slowly and groan like in Hotel Transylvania.   I play along and moan as I walk stiffly toward him.  Sometimes he uses his magic wand to change me back and sometimes he waits until I reach him.  He knows that in our world of make believe, when a zombie reaches you- it kisses you all over your face!

Research shows that imaginative play is a key element in developing the social and emotional competence of children by allowing them to work through scary experiences (like going to the doctor), explore both positive and negative feelings, and develop a concept called “theory of mind” which is when a child becomes aware that their thoughts are different that other people’s and that others see the world differently than they do- it also gives them insight into how they are perceived.   This allows children to develop empathy and navigate social interactions with greater ease- a skill very useful as they grow into teenagers and adults. (Kaufman et al, Psychology Today, March 6, 2012)

Social and emotional competence of children is one of the protective factors that strengthen families, promote optimal development  and prevent child abuse and neglect. Generally, children who can identify and communicate their emotions are better at getting their needs met.  Parents can play a key role in helping their child develop these skills by being involved in play, encouraging imagination, and communicating often.

Imaginative play is a good time to work on identifying and dealing with emotions in a safe way. It is naturally difficult to process feelings like fear, anger, and sadness when children are experiencing them because their brains are in a defense mode. During play, however, you can bring up what to do when Batman is sad that Joker stole his candy or let them tell you what “he” is scared of. 

This October 31st, make the most of the occasion by finding special ways to let your child express their wild imaginations as much as possible. Put on costumes, paint your faces, and speak in a Transylvanian accent. To you, it may just seem like a day you have to buy candy, but to kids, it’s when everyone around them finally seems to see the world as weird and magical as they do.

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