Hudson Valley Parent

HVP January 2017

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Page 26 of 35 n Hudson Valley Parent 27 their feelings, for fear of disappoint- ing their parents," von Bayer says. "Whatever their path is, [it] should be supported, as their happiness is always the end goal." Stacey Lutz is a mom, freelance writer and animal lover who lives in Wurtsboro. acter building skills and helps them to learn to fulfill commitments, work hard, give back to their community, and to be proud of their achieve- ments," she says. The downside Parents might wonder about how an activity can affect growing minds and bodies. Is it ever too early to begin structured programs for chil- dren? "Starting too early with too many activities can be detrimental to social development and self-esteem," says psychotherapist Jessica Bronner, a li- censed mental health counselor from Pine Bush who has a private practice in Florida. She suggests starting out with one activity and going from there. Some children, she adds, may ask to be involved in more activities and others may balk at the busy, structured lifestyle. "Children need to learn to have fun without structured activities and they absolutely need some down- time," she says. "There isn't an exact number of activities that a child should be involved in, every child is unique." When to say 'when' After a trial class or two that your child really seems to enjoy, you sign him up for a 10-week program that, three-weeks in, he really doesn't seem to even like anymore. Now what? Von Baeyer says that it's import- ant that parents are in tune with their child so that they don't end up forcing them to engage in activities that they simply don't want to do - and some of that involves simply observing and listening to them. But that doesn't necessarily mean that parents should automatically throw in the towel. "It is important to teach children that they made a commitment, and they must finish out the sea- son as part of a team, or as long as the commitment was made for," she says. With her own children, she says her policy was to let the children try anything once, see it through, and then if they didn't like it, they would move on and do something else. But because all children are dif- ferent, she suggests that parents try to remain flexible and gauge it on a situation-by-situation basis. "Some children make it easy to figure out, while others are so eager to please, they do not communicate Little Gym of Kingston – Mommy and Me group that develops skills through movement, music, and learning; 382-1020 Hike it Baby – With active groups in Middletown and New Paltz, the group holds hikes with parents and babies. Sign up via Pint Sized Tumble – A sensory integrated play group for children up to 6. Meets three days a week in Pine Bush; 673.9915 Tumble Inn Program – Gymnastics for children up to 4 at The Kennett School of Gymnastics in Goshen; 294.9278 For more programs visit Local programs for tiny tots

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