Raising Thoughts on Tour in L´Eliana

Raising Thoughts will be on tour in L´Eliana. The 8th of April Wecasa will host us again! This time the topic will be about Positive Parenting. What is it exactly? And how do you apply it when raising your children. We will have the subject prepared and need you ti share your experiences with the other parents.

Wecasa is a community center located in l´Eliana. A place where parents and kids come together to enjoy a wide variety of activities, play areas and healthy food.

With the concept of ‘Raising Thoughts’ we want to create a meeting point for parents to openly talk about specific ‘raising’ topics. It’s in between having a coffee with your friend and talk about your children and going to a psychologist. We want to create a structured meeting where you can take a moment to reflect, talk about certain subjects and all this in a relaxed ambience while we have a drink with each other and share experiences and questions.
The (child) psychologists Sara and Femke will introduce the topic of the day and will be there for any questions, doubts and discussions.

How does it work? We meet this Monday evening at 21h, we have a drink and talk about a certain ´raising´ topic. The idea is to exchange ideas, have an open conversation with respect for everybody’s opinion. The cost will be 8 euro which includes a drink and a snack.
You don´t need to bring anything

Raising Thoughts: Setting Limits


The Raising Thoughts meeting on Monday the 19th of November will be about Setting Limits with you children.

Setting limits: At what age do you start with it? do you need to use a time-out-spot or not? Is it better to distract or no? and what to do if your child is throwing him/herself on the floor in the supermarket?
And besides that it’s not always easy to be consistent when your tired or when your child actually makes you laugh.
Come and join our Raising Thoughts meeting to talk about all this with each other while drinking a nice cup of coffee in the meanwhile.

How does it work? We meet on Monday morning, we drink a coffee together and talk about the subject ‘setting limits’. The idea is to exchange ideas, have an open conversation with respect for everybody’s opinion.
We meet in the cafe of Poppyns Store (C/Isabel la Catolica 21). The cost will be 5 euro which includes a drink.

Crianza Cafe in Xicotet Torbellino

With a couple of psychologists I organize meetings for parents where we talk about different raising topics while we’re drinking a good cup of coffee. We do this in English and Spanish.

Our Spanish version ‘Crianza Cafe’ is taking part in a meeting the 24th of November about education, nutrition, parenting, environment and a lot more. Come and join us!








Porque en Xicotet Torbellino creemos que trabajar en EDUCACIÓN es invertir en FUTURO.

Os presentamos, brevemente, a algunas de las profesionales que van a participar en el evento del día 24:

Judith Sánchez Parramon, Sara Helmink y Femke Conradie son tres psicólogas/psicopedagogas que han formado Crianza Cafe, un Grupo de Crianza que ofrece la posibilidad a padres y madres de compartir y adquirir conocimientos y, a la par, aprender herramientas y estrategias, siempre relacionadas con la crianza y la educación de sus hijos/ hijas.

La Psicología -afirman- nos puede ayudar mucho en esta tarea apasionante siempre, y a veces, no tan fácil…. Como psicólogas/psicopedagogas están convencidas de que “prevenir es mejor que curar” y por eso organizan encuentros para hablar sobre temas de crianza en un ambiente cuidado, con respeto por el otro…

Social Media

Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, Tinder…a lot of our social interaction nowadays takes place on social media. A great deal of our time we’re spending looking at a screen. It’s part of daily life and it seems to be unstoppable. And while this social media world is growing as well the discussion about it continues: Are we losing social skills? Will we be less smart using a lot of social media? The proponents say it’s just the other way around and that we need to adapt our educational system more to it. In between these pro’s and contra’s, science is now trying to make effort to find some scientific evidence for these assumptions.

The parents nowadays are struggling how to deal with these social media in the education of their children; Do you give your child screentime? Do you need to control your teenager online? How do I prevent them from bullying online?

What it makes so difficult for the parents of today to make decisions about it, is that we don’t have an example of our parents dealing with the same questions. Normally you mirror the education of your children with the way your parents educated you: or you do it the same as they did, or you do it totally different. But now we need to figure it out ourselves.

So what to do??

Like said before, there are good things and bad things about the social media. And it’s good to be aware of the benefits and disadvantages so you know when you can stimulate your children using the social media and when you can try to limit the use of it.


For making, building and maintaining relationships with friends and family, some of whom live far away, social media are very useful. You don’t need to use a Collect Call anymore when you’re on holidays to tell your parents that everything is fine. Instead you send them a photo on WhatsApp with you on the beach with a cocktail in your hands. In some ways there’s less isolation, because you can always get in contact with somebody. People can get emotional support in various issues they are dealing with. And social media helps develop social awareness and empathy: there’s information about what’s happening all around the world and support can be arranged by social media.

Besides the social contacts, social media are an educational tool: It has a world of information behind it. Social media makes it easy for children to meet other people, read about other people’s views, and learn new insights from real people around the world. And technology enhances creativity in a variety of ways. Children can develop themselves for example by listening music or watch tutorials on YouTube. By using all these types of media children get up to speed with technology: kids today can more easily grasp complex ideas in technology than earlier generations, and they’re more comfortable with revolutionary tech and concepts.


But like with everything there are as well disadvantages. The use of social media does something with the way our brain works. While in one way social media stimulate social interaction, in another way it doesn’t always stimulate the quality of the social interaction. It’s a different way of making contact, because you don’t activate mirror neurons. Mirror neurons play a major role in your capacity for empathy and understanding for others. They also help you understand another person’s intentions. And by not practicing them, you don’t develop them and it effects your social skills.

Another problem of social media is that it’s kind of addictive! The more likes we get on our posts our body produces more dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that motivates us to seek out experiences that make us feel pleasure. When it comes down to it, dopamine is the reason why most Millennials are obsessed with social media. All this liking on the media has another side-effect: children (and adults) can build up a negative self-esteem: If we don’t get so many likes we’re getting insecure. And because of this people only post great picture of themselves while everyday life is not always great.

Another brain effect is that the blue screen of some televisions and mobile advises are keeping us awake. Most screens these days use LCDs that emit a blue light that inhibits sleep and disrupts the circadian rhythm (body clock). So using this screens before sleeping affects our sleeprythm. And we know how important our sleep is.

While social media stimulates creativity it can be sometimes good to disconnect. Because nowadays we can always watch something on our screen, we’re not bored anymore. And boredom actually is pretty good for our creativity.

Besides all these brain effects there are some things going on online that happen as well in everyday life: bullying, grooming, sexting. Things we don’t want our children to come across and we need to inform them about and protect them from!

Last but not least we have the privacy issue. Everything you put online stays there. A lot of information about you can be found online. It’s good to be aware of and to make your children aware of it as well.


There are some basic suggestions about dealing with all this in raising your children.

  • Like with everything in education a lot of it depends on your own norms and values. With this subjects it’s important to talk with each other as parents and to think about what is important for both of you and how you want to deal with it. Make sure you both express the same thoughts to your children.
  • Be a good example: children copy you, so be aware of your own use of social media/mobile/tablet/television. It’s funny to see young children already know how to swipe, but they know it, just by watching you. Count one day how many times you’re watching your phone and not paying attention to your children.
  • Your child is still a child and needs your guidance; so you set up rules and know what’s going on.
  • To grow the child’s own awareness it’s as well important you give your child confidence and trust in the use of social media. So don’t be on top of it all the time.
  • Important is to talk with your children about it and keep it an open conversation. In a lot of aspects it’s not different as how you treat normal bullying, strangers on the street and talk about sexual maturity. You need to inform your children about it and teach them how to deal with it.
  • The website internetmatters.org provides a lot of information about making your device child friendly, but as well how to deal with the cyberbullying and a lot of other things. It’s worth to take a look at it.

Talking about emotions with your children

The importance of emotional development

Emotional development is a complex task that begins in infancy and continues into adulthood. Children’s responses to the different feelings they experience every day have a big impact on their choices, their behavior, and on how well they cope and enjoy life. Emotional development involves learning what feelings and emotions are, understanding how and why they happen, recognizing one’s own feelings and those of others, and developing effective ways of managing them. As children grow and are exposed to different situations their emotional lives also become more complex. Developing skills for managing a range of emotions is therefore very important for their emotional well being.

And there’s a hard task for you as a parent: how to learn your child to deal with their emotions. The difficult thing about it is, that normally the emotions of your children provoke emotions with yourself as well. So in the meanwhile your trying to help your child with their emotions you need to control yours. But the effort is worth it. Emotional development in infancy and early childhood is important for several interrelated skills. In comparison to children with deficits in emotional development, children with a developed emotional competence are more likely:

  • to sustain learning;
  • to engage in empathic and prosocial behaviors;
  • to express appropriate emotions in various contexts;
  • to use adaptive strategies to deal with negative/upsetting emotions (e.g., anger);
  • to reduce several risk factors associated with psychopathology.

Taken together, these abilities predict children’s early school success and positive interpersonal relationships with peers and family members.

Developing emotional skills

Emotional development is actually built into the architecture of young children’s brains in response to their individual personal experiences and the influences of the environments in which they live. These growing interconnections among brain circuits support the emergence of increasingly mature emotional behavior. Emotions do not all emerge at the same time. Primary emotions (e.g., fear, anger, sadness, interest, and joy) appear in the first year whereas secondary emotions (e.g., embarrassment, guilt, and shame) are usually expressed by the end of the second year of life. Throughout the early childhood years, children develop increasing capacities to use language to communicate how they feel and to gain help without “melting down,” as well as to inhibit the expression of emotions that are inappropriate for a particular setting. The emotional experiences of newborns and young infants occur most commonly during periods of interaction with a caregiver (such as feeding, comforting, and holding).

We now know that differences in early childhood temperament — ranging from being extremely outgoing and adventurous to being painfully shy and easily upset by anything new or unusual — are grounded in one’s biological makeup.  Besides their temperament as well the culture wherein children grow up tends to influence the intensity and the type of emotions expressed. Specifically, emotion expression and understanding are likely to vary among children depending on the way children are socialized, the presence of comfort of objects, the proximity with parental figures, and situational contexts. The emotional health of young children — or the absence of it — is closely tied to the social and emotional characteristics of the environments in which they live, which include not only their parents but also the broader context of their families and communities.

But to know how important the development of emotions is, doesn’t always makes it easy to help your children in the right way. So…


What to do??


  • Help your children understand their emotions by first giving the feelings names. For example, you might say to your child, “Mommy left on a trip, you are sad.” By giving your child a label for her emotions, you enable your child to develop a vocabulary for talking about feelings.
  • Give children lots of opportunities to identify feelings in themselves and others. For example, you might say to your child, “Riding your bike is so much fun. I see you smiling. Are you happy?”
  • Throughout your routines, model labeling your own emotions (e.g., “I feel frustrated because I cannot open this jar of pickles!”).
  • Praise your child the first time he tries to talk about his feelings instead of just reacting. It is REALLY important to let your child know exactly what she did right and how proud you are of her for talking about feelings.
  • You might want to remind your child that, “It’s ok to tell me how you feel, but it’s not ok to hurt others or things when you feel (name feeling).
  • Teach your child the different ways we can deal with feelings. Let your child come up with ways she can deal with her feelings. Talk about positive and not so positive ways to express feelings.
  • While reading stories to children, have children guess how the characters in the story are feeling. How can children tell that the characters are feeling that way? Can the children make a face that shows that feeling?
  • Use meals and routines at the end of the day as a time to discuss the day with your children. Talk about events during the day that made you happy, times when you were frustrated and work you did that made you proud of yourself. Ask the children to share their experiences.
  • WARNING – Do not try and practice when your child is in the middle of a “meltdown.” Use quiet, calm times to teach and practice the new strategies.


Some fun ways:

  • Play “feelings photographer” for a day: If your child is old enough to handle a camera, taking pictures of people expressing different emotions can be a fun way to teach her about those emotions. Or take pictures of the children making different emotion faces and make different posters for each emotion.
  • Play an emotion walking game while outside. Ring a bell and have your children walk around like they are sad. Ring the bell again and have them walk like they are mad. Repeat the activity until you have practiced several emotions.
  • During bathroom routines, have children look in mirror and practice making mad/sad/happy faces.
  • Play a “Mystery Emotion” game. Put an emotion face card in an envelope without showing the children. Act out that emotion, and encourage children to guess what Mystery Emotion is hiding in the envelope.
  • Listen to some different types of music such as rock music, classic etc., let the children dance to the music, ask children how the song made the children feel.




Guest-Blog Valencia-Kids

Last week the project Raising Thoughts appeared in a guest-blog for the website Valencia-Kids. You can read the article here.

The blog of Valencia-Kids tells you more about activities for kids in Valencia: new cafés and restaurants with kids areas, amazing playgrounds, child-friendly museums, ludotecas and so much more…Check it out!


Raising Thoughts: Raising your child multilingual

Being Dutch and living in Valencia I am surrounded by multicultural friends who are raising their children multilingual.  And where it’s already a miracle to see a child learning one language, it’s an  even bigger miracle to see them learning more languages. But during the education parents always come across questions, like “How do I raise a bilingual child the best way?” or “Will they get a delay in their language development?” That’s why we organize the next Raising Thoughts meeting about this topic. So we can talk about these questions and discuss the myths existing about multilingualism.

What we’ll do?
We will meet this morning, drink a coffee together and talk about the subject ‘positive parenting’.  What exactly does it refer to? How can you apply it in raising your children? We will introduce the subject and we will discuss the topic together. The idea is to exchange ideas and to have open conversations with respect for everybody’s opinion.

Where  and When
Monday morning the 25th of June at 11 am
@ Poppynsstore (in the bar in the back of the store), Carrer d’Isabel la Catòlica, 21, 46004 València
Costs are 5 euro which includes a drink.

For more info have a look at facebook or write me an email.

Raising Thoughts: Positive Parenting

When you have bits of cereal in your hair or you’re listening to the wails of a tiny person who refuses to get in the car, the term “Positive Parenting” may make you grit your teeth and roll your eyes. But Positive Parenting isn’t about being perfect, always being cheerful, or having the most photogenic Instagram. “Positive parenting” gives words to what parents do every day—challenges included—and keeps the big picture in mind.’ (www.zerotothree.org)

Would you like to know something more about positive parenting? Come and join the next session of Raising Thoughts on Mondaymorning the 28th of May.

• What we’ll do
We will meet this morning, drink a coffee together and talk about the subject ‘positive parenting’.  What exactly does it refer to? How can you apply it in raising your children? We will introduce the subject and we will discuss the topic together. The idea is to exchange ideas and to have open conversations with respect for everybody’s opinion.

• Where  and When
Mondaymorning the 28th of May at 11 am
@ Poppynsstore (in the bar in the back of the store), Carrer d’Isabel la Catòlica, 21, 46004 València
Costs are 5 euro which includes a drink

For more info have a look at facebook or write me an email.

Moving to another country: what about the children?

We’re living in a world that’s globalizing more and more. This brings along changes in the way we look at things and act in our everyday life. One of the changes is that it’s getting more normal to work and live at different places in the world. Companies work more international so it’s more normal you go abroad for a while to work and live in another country. As well it happens more often that people do online work and can work from every place in the world as long as they have internet. But when we move over the world, we take our kids with us. And what does this mean for our children? It is likely that more and more children will experience life in a non-native environment at some point. Nowadays these kids are be giving names such as Global Nomads, Global Kids or Third Culture children.

What are the benefits of growing up in different countries?

As we all can imagine there are a couple of benefits when you grow up in different countries. An important one is learning another language. Being bilingual or multilingual gives you opportunities in life. Even more significantly, international interactions are becoming more important in our increasingly diverse and global society. Growing up bilingual has some other benefits: better language attention, the ability to process complex information and disregard irrelevant information effectively. They also develop a better short-term (working) memory.
Besides learning a language you learn to adapt yourself in different situations. This can help you in life confronting new situations. Growing up in different cultures as well opens your mind. Anita Mayntzhusen of Global Children states that often the expat child will feel closer to someone who has the same experiences as they do, regardless of nationality or cultural background, than they might to someone from the same country as them. This in turn opens up a multitude of possibilities, as their exposure to different cultures makes them open-minded to other ways of seeing the world. The exposure also enables these children to access alternative creative possibilities of action, for example in problem solving.

What is the down side?

Reading the above you can almost think that growing up kids in different countries can give peace on earth. But like with everything there can be a down side. Which is good to be aware of, so we can detect it and try to overcome it.
Moving to another country has an impact. Like all new things it’s exciting, but as well your facing to an unfamiliar situation which can be scary and insecure. For children these feelings of being unsettled can be overwhelming. The first thing you need to challenge is the language barrier. Not knowing the language makes integrating difficult. Besides the language there are as well local customs or gestures that have meanings you’re not aware of. Children need to make new friends, which can be hard if you’re the only one coming new in a class and not knowing the language. In the mean while they miss their family and old friends. Their parents are still trying to adapt and busy with arranging everything. All this can lead to feelings of loneliness.
Older children, in between 10 and 15, will generally be more impacted by a move away. They are more likely to have developed strong friendships in their home country and will be unhappy leaving these behind. Adolescence already is a difficult period in the lives of all children, but when children are removed from their close circle of friends they can often find it even more difficult to deal with the mental and physical changes they are experiencing.

Some tips for a smoother relocation

  1. The process of relocation already starts before moving. It’s really important to keep the kids informed about what’s going on. Children normally know pretty well that something is going on with their parents, so don’t try to hide things. Let them play part in the process. Just like you, they will worry about missing things at home and as well they will be excited about what’s coming. The best thing an expatriating family can do before their move is to make time to have open conversation routinely as the move approaches. Sometimes it can be helpful to go before moving to a counselor with expertise in moving abroad.
  2. The choice of school is always a difficult one, but it is important to think about it and research the possibilities. A lot of your choices depends on the age of the children and the duration of your relocation. If your planning to stay for a long time it can be an investment to let the kids go to a local school. It will take them time, but in the end they will integrate in the culture. When you’re planning to stay for a shorter time or your moving with older children an international school can be interesting. The language barrier is not such a big problem here. As well integration in an expat community normally is easier because everybody is in the same situation. Ask the school for the support they can offer expat children in developing and supporting their social networks and their social competences.
  3. Be aware of the stages that normally occur when your adapting in a new country. First everything can be exiting in the new country, but after everything is getting more normal and the normal ups and downs of life are starting, it happens that you will look back home like something perfect. Being aware of these stages can help you prepare yourself and your children. Be excited about the new country, but don’t exaggerate.
  4. To keep a feeling of continuity in the lives of your children it’s good to continue the same hobbies and activities that they liked at home.
  5. Put effort in building up a social environment for your children. Arrange playdates, try to be in contact with other families, let them go to extracurricular activities.
  6. The concept of home is changing for children. Home isn’t any longer the house and the town your living in. It’s becomes smaller. Home is where your family is. This tells as well how important you as parents are.
  7. When children don’t feel comfortable normally they express this through behavioral changes. With their behavior they express their feelings about the new country. Younger children might suddenly show big changes in sleeping and eating patterns, or even seem to lose their “toilet-training” skills right before, during or after a move to a new environment. Older children tent to be more withdrawn or just the opposite act out more. As a parent it’s good to be aware of these signals your child is giving you. The simple act of acknowledging and validating a child’s struggle can go a long way toward helping an expatriate kid who feels lonely.
  8. As a parent you have a huge job while relocating. You need to arrange everything in your old and your new country, you need to adapt yourself and find your way in an new culture. And last but not least you need to take care of your children and make sure you give them a warm environment at home. Although relocating can be a really great experience, it’s not always easy. So besides taking care of your kids, make sure you take care of yourself as well. Because your wellbeing has an affect on the wellbeing of your children as well.

Of course there are a lot of different ways of living abroad. Kids can be born in the country, it’s possible that you move when they’re still really young, or maybe when they already a bit older, maybe you only move for two years, or maybe you’re changing every couple of years from location. Every situation is different and so is every family and child different. So take good look at your own situation, talk with people about it and if you need more guidance, you can find counselors at many different places of the world or online. Don´t feel embarrased to ask for help!

World Book Day: The importance of reading aloud to you child

Once upon a time…

Do you remember your favorite book you wanted your parents to read to you? Or do you remember the moment before bedtime, sitting close to your parents while they were reading aloud to you? The fact that we still have these memories says something about the importance of this activity.
Probably you’re already aware of the importance of reading aloud to your child, but in everyday hustle it’s easy to forget about it. That’s why we will give you some reasons here, so you make sure it will be part of your everyday routine.

Brain and language development

An important benefit of reading aloud is that it stimulates brain and language development. With all the new methods of measuring brain activity, researchers discover interesting facts. For example Horowitz-Krauz and his team saw that, when the young children were being told a story, a number of regions in the left part of the brain became active. These are the areas involved in understanding the meaning of words and concepts and also in memory. These same brain regions have been found to be active when older children listen to stories or read. The kids whose parents had read to them more at home showed significantly more brain activity in the areas that process visual association. All this evidence is telling us that while reading aloud, the brains of the children are working and growing and this has a positive effect on their language development. It will also help children to be better readers later on in their lives, because they’ve developed that part of the brain that helps them see what is going on in the story.

Of course you generate as well brain activity while talking to your kid. This parent-talking is very important in the language development of a child, because learning of a language starts with listening to the spoken language around you. But the extra benefit of reading a book is that it normally has a wider range of vocabulary than spoken language.

Now you will probably think you can as well start an audiobook and your child will have the same benefits. This is not totally true, because children learn better when an adult is involved. So for the full benefit it’s the best if you read aloud in an interactive way with your kid.

Bonding Time

This brings us to another type of benefit that reading aloud brings us: it’s actually fun and an important moment together with you child. Normally it is a one-on-one moment with your child, you’re both engaged into the book and sharing what’s happening. This bonding you do at that moment is really important for the secure attachment of a child. Caretaking from a loving parent or caregiver in the early years is good for a healthy brain development, which on his turn forms the foundation for success later at school and in life. Reading a book together is one of the best ways of engaging with young children. Even the youngest baby loves to be held close and hear the voice of Mom or Dad as they read a book aloud.

Many more benefits…

And if this not yet enough to convince you to keep reading aloud to your child, here some more benefits:

  • When children’s encounters with books are enjoyable, they are more likely to develop positive dispositions towards books and later reading.
  • While you read a story children are concentrated and listening carefully. Reading aloud to your children enhances it’s concentration level.
  • Reading books with children helps to develop empathy. Children can identify themselves with the characters in the book and it teaches them empathy.  As well it can teach them about emotions.  Books can be used as a way to talk about certain emotions with your child.
  • Reading stories opens up imagination and stimulates creativity.

Hopefully now you have enough reasons to find some time and read aloud to your child. Next time we will tell you something more about the way to do it.

And so the children lived on happily ever after…