“No”, The Discussion on Negative Language

Keeping a positive learning environment for children at all times is a challenge, for parents and teachers alike. Children don’t have all the answers or know how to behave in every situation, and guiding them through the learning process often comes with some frustration. In these moments, it’s easy to use negative words, like the word “No”.

But is it harmful to a child’s development to use “No”? The discussion on positive vs. negative language has been around for years, and there are interesting insights from both sides on the effects of language on a child’s growth.

How language affects thought

In the early 1950’s, the Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis began undergoing close scrutiny from language and psychology experts, and is still being studied today. It states that the structure and word-choice of languages affect one’s perception of the world to some degree. In short, the way one speaks affects the way one thinks.

This concept applies to all languages and to people of all ages, especially children. The capacity to learn is greatest in the early stages of childhood development. Children are most sensitive to words and their meanings, and the effects are lasting.

How this hypothesis applies to word usage with children is a hotly debated subject, which boils down to whether using certain words can either maximize development or hinder it.

Does “No” have an effect on children?

The answer is yes. “No” has as much of an effect on emotional and cognitive growth as any other word. “No” is universal across all languages and has particular influences on children’s perception of the world and themselves.

Using “No”, and other negative words, tends to be immediately impactful for children. Even in the early stages of life, infants analyze facial expressions that belong with certain sounds that their parents make. While negative language can be quite clear, it can also be emotionally compromising. Interestingly though, evidence points to the context of the situation having more of an effect than the word.

When parents are frustrated, “No” and other negative words tend to get used a lot more often.  The use of positive language with children tends to be in a more civil context, thus creating a more learning-conducive environment.

Conclusion for parents on using “No”

The word “No” is not naturally bad. If used with patience, compassion and a learning lesson in mind, “No” can be a helpful tool. However, parents who make the effort to utilize positive language more often don’t have to use “No” as much. Instead of telling their children what not to do, they ask them to do what is right, after showing them what they did was wrong.

Using positive words leads to a more positive learning environment. But if you can exercise patience with your children when teaching them, using “No” is fine. What matters most is having a safe, loving family dynamic and keeping your child’s development in mind.


What does Cranium do?

At Cranium Academy, we devote ourselves to creating a nurturing, warm environment that will help our students reach their full learning potential in the 21st century. Our teachers partner with parents to speak to each child in a way that will foster their emotional, cognitive, and social growth.

Building Cranium Character – Raising a Respectful Child

Parents (and school teachers) often focus on developing a child’s academic and cognitive skills. Sometimes we overlook the importance of social and emotional development, which can be equally important. While cultivating a child’s reading and math skills is essential, instilling a strong sense of values and character traits that improve social and emotional wellness can be key in helping children succeed.

This is where character education comes in. Character education helps build a moral foundation for children, teaching them valuable social-emotional skills that they will carry with them throughout life. One important element of character education is teaching respect, which can be a complex concept for kids to grasp. To put it in simple terms for your child, you can teach your child that having respect for someone means you should act in a way that shows you care for that person’s feelings and well-being.

Here are some simple ways you can teach your child about respect:

Give examples.

After you explain the concept of respect to your child, it’s important to give them real-world examples. For instance, you can tell them that being quiet in a library is a sign of respect because it shows that you care about others who are trying to read without noise or interruption. By being quiet in the library, you are acting in a positive way towards others which shows that you care about their well-being. This is respect.

Expect disrespect.

There are times when your child will be disrespectful, it’s a natural part of growing up. When these moments arise, it’s important that you have a plan for dealing with them. If you don’t respond properly and consistently to these initial moments of disrespect, the moments are likely to repeat themselves.

Stay calm and earn your child’s respect.

When moments of disrespectful behavior arise, it’s important to stay calm. Don’t overact to the behavior by lashing out and yelling, because you’ll be sending the wrong message and modeling more negative behavior. Instead, ask yourself if your child is even aware that this behavior is disrespectful.

Gauging how to respond to your child will help you with the next step, and give you time to breathe and calm down. Responding calmly during these moments is a good way for you to exercise control over the situation, and earn respect from your child.

Identify the cause of the disrespect.

Sometimes disrespectful behavior is the result of your child’s inability to articulate a specific need, which results in frustration. It’s important for you to ask your child questions to help them express their emotions with words, also helping them understand where their anger is coming from. These heated moments can be great opportunities to show your child how to deal with their emotions in a healthier way. Show your child that, even in difficult situations, you can keep calm and respond respectfully too.

Set a good example.

There’s no better way to teach your child a valuable character trait than by modeling it yourself. Being a respectful role model involves you showing respect to others you encounter throughout your day. You should also try to treat your child with the same respect that you would treat other adults. One way you can do this is by accepting their preferences and independence in little ways.  For example, you can accept their decision to wear an outfit that they put together on their own, even if it’s a little wacky!

Raising a Respectful Child at Cranium Academy

At Cranium Academy, we take character education seriously.  Our exclusive character education program is built around the idea that essential character traits can be developed during early childhood. We believe that respect is one of the core character traits that should be cultivated in each child. One of our goals at Cranium Academy is to find fun, real-world scenarios that help preschool or elementary school age children develop creative strategies surrounding the value of respect. Reinforcing respectful behaviors both at school and at home helps build your child’s character, which will serve them well throughout their life.


Building Cranium Character – Rearing a Responsible Child

From fairness and generosity to responsibility and respect, instilling good character traits is a high priority for most parents. Children learn about character through their relationships and interactions, and they learn to model the behavior that they see around them. We place a lot of emphasis on academics in education, but are we nurturing the development of life skills while encouraging ethical and responsible behaviors?  This is where character education comes in. Character education is about teaching children valuable life skills and values that they will carry with them throughout their life.

To help children understand what it really means to have good character, it’s best to keep it simple. Providing basic explanations and examples of what each trait looks like in their day-to-day life is key. One important element of our character is responsibility. Let your child know that being responsible means helping others and doing your part. It means always trying your best to follow the rules and do things the right way, even if no one is watching. Here are some simple ways to help teach your child how to be more responsible:

Work Together

Doing chores with your children is a great way to get them to warm up to the idea of responsibility. By inviting your daughter to join you in the housework next time, she may feel like she is being valued. Your child will take pride in being able to help you with your work and will most likely strive to maintain this feeling. Not only does this teach responsibility, but also teamwork.

Lead the Way

It’s important to demonstrate to your child how chores are done before you assign them any of their own. Start with the small tasks, such as showing your son where the hamper is and how to put his clothes in there when he is done wearing them. Then work your way up to larger tasks such as showing him how to clean up a mess when he spills his food or drink.

Give Age-Appropriate Chores/Tasks

If you give your child tasks that are too difficult for her to complete, then she may get frustrated and not want to do them. That’s why it’s important to assign your child chores and tasks that are age appropriate.

For example:

  • A toddler should be able to put the toys away when she is finished playing with them, or carry the dishes to the counter after she is finished eating.
  • A preschooler should be able to set the dinner table, feed a pet, and dust her own room.
  • An elementary aged child should be able to do the dishes, pack their own lunch, and vacuum the rooms.

Teach Consequences

Sometimes your child might not do their chores. When this happens, you can use this as an opportunity to help your child develop a sense of responsibility for his actions. If your child leaves toys lying around the house, tell him that he won’t be able to play with those toys until the next day if he doesn’t pick up after himself.

You will have to put your foot down by taking those toys away. Although there might be some crocodile tears, your child will ultimately learn that if he doesn’t take his responsibilities seriously, then he will suffer the consequences.

Avoid Criticisms

Chances are your four-year-old won’t be making the bed perfectly. It’s important that we manage our own expectations when we start giving our children their own responsibilities. Instead of criticizing them when they don’t meet your expectations, offer them recognition and praise when they do a good job.


At Cranium Academy, we include character education as part of our curriculum. Our character education program integrates building good character traits with positive discipline techniques used throughout the day. Our fun character curriculum involves the use of real-world examples that rely on engaging the students’ cognitive abilities to develop creative strategies. Overall, the goal of our character education program is to encourage students to be ethical and responsible individuals.

More in the Cranium character series: Fairness, Generosity, Respect, Caring, Citizenship

The Benefits of Raising a Bilingual Child

In an increasingly interconnected world, where diversity is celebrated now more than ever, bilingualism has become a main topic in many family households. Some parents have even made raising a bilingual child a top priority. There are many benefits to raising a bilingual child, including cognitive and social benefits. Here are just a few:

Positive Effects on the Brain

According to pediatrician Dr. Gwendolyn Delaney, when an additional language is introduced before age 5, there is a more pronounced effect on the development of greater tissue density in the areas of the brain related to language, memory, and attention. Many research studies, such as the one funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), show that bilingual children can also multi-task better than monolingual children. Other studies have found that children as young as seven months have displayed that they are able to adjust better to changes in the environment when they are exposed to more than one language.

Social and Cultural Opportunities

Being bilingual can provide children with plenty of opportunities to meet new people, and open many doors in their lives. Bilingualism also gives children the chance to interact with people from other cultures, which is especially beneficial when traveling. By knowing the local language of the place your family visits, your children can truly immerse themselves in the language and culture of that place, making them appreciate the trip even more.

Long-Term Health Benefits

There is growing evidence that proves being bilingual can delay the onset of Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Some other studies suggest that bilinguals are at a lower risk of having a stroke, and may recover faster after having one. Some research even links bilingualism to lower stress levels.

Educational Advantages

Being bilingual at a young age can give a child advantages in school. Studies have shown that bilingual students tend to be less distracted and more focused on tasks. According to the recent Millenium Cohort Study as referenced in Bilingual Kidspot, “children who are educated in their second language may initially lag behind around three, four and five years old, [but] they soon catch up and outperform their peers by age seven.”

Job Opportunities

Even though your child is still very young now, you want the best future for them when they grow up. Being bilingual can open up a world of job opportunities for your child when they finally enter the workforce. Many employers consider bilingualism a high priority. Since communication in the workplace is so important, your child could have a better chance of getting the job by being bilingual, even if the monolingual applicant is more qualified. In a competitive job market, being bilingual is an additional advantage that can help candidates stand out.

The Cranium Difference

At Cranium Academy, we recognize the benefits of teaching young children a foreign language. Our curriculum introduces children to several languages, including Spanish, Chinese, and American Sign Language (ASL). Our language programs take children on virtual journeys throughout the world. In our language classes, children learn about famous places and how children can use the powerful tool of language to live, learn, and play within various cultures.

Curing the School Day Blues

If you are a parent (and your child is not attending Cranium Academy), you have probably heard the dreaded words through pouty lips and clenched fists, “I don’t wanna go to school!” or worse yet, “I hate school!” But what exactly is it that gives children the school day blues just before getting out of the house to go to school?

Reason #1 – Your child might be bored.

In traditional schools where teachers must remain focused on preparing kids for standardized assessment tests and state exams, the magic of learning can get lost in having to memorize lists of vocabulary words, such as “mellifluous.” Needless to say, research often shows that children learn better and retain more information when they are having fun! In many of today’s classrooms, fun is the key element that is missing, and that can be one of the main reasons why kids don’t like going to school. At Cranium Academy, we balance gifted level academics with imaginative social and play experiences. We move beyond the memorization of facts and figures, into active critical thinking.  We seek to create an environment where students can’t wait to come learn!

Reason #2 – Freedom may be limited.

In many schools, educators offer students very few choices. Children are forced to learn and memorize a mountain of facts that may not interest them. According to Doctor Peter Gray, Ph.D., research professor at Boston College, “Children come into the world with instinctive drives to educate themselves. These include the drives to play and explore.” Many school learning environments are not created with the idea of optimizing these natural desires to learn and therefore unintentionally end up suppressing them by not giving children any freedom to choose their learning paths. At Cranium Academy, we encourage young minds to explore ‘how’ and ‘why,’ as we seek to engage children’s natural curiosity and develop a true love of learning.

Reason #3 – The learning tools may be outdated.

Although technology is becoming more widely accepted in the classroom, some teachers still see it as a distraction or even a threat to learning. However, this perspective doesn’t align with how kids learn today. A balance of hands-on learning and technology can help children become excited about learning and provide a more engaging way to teach new lessons. At Cranium Academy, we incorporate both hands-on exploration with the use of the latest technology in our classrooms to prepare children for success in the 21st century. From state-of-the-art smartboards, to laptops and iPad, our teachers balance technology-based learning with multi-sensory play and discovery.

So, what is the solution?

Teachers and parents can work together to find ways to keep education engaging and inspiring for children. Look for schools that place a high priority on instilling a love for learning in their students. Some hesitation about going to school is normal. However, if your child is consistently complaining about going to school, try to find out from them what it is about school that they do not like. Then ask to speak with their teacher to see if you can work together to find ways to help.

At Cranium Academy, our mission is to make learning fun! In our classrooms, we encourage each child to learn through play and exploration. We combine advanced learning with creative play and imagination. Our revolutionary approach to education builds critical thinking skills and fosters a lifetime love of learning.

Parents should not give up hope!  Sometimes children go through phases where they are less excited about school.  Try to stay positive and find ways to help make learning fun and exciting for you and your child!

How to Avoid Spoiling and Build Gratitude During the Holiday Season

With the holiday season in full swing and the wish lists getting longer each day, we often get carried away with presents. We all want our kids to feel special, but many parents worry about spoiling their children during the holidays. Sharing our time, values and traditions with them can often be more meaningful. The holidays are a great time to teach our children lessons in gratitude, setting limits and giving to others.

Here are some ways to give your kids gifts without overindulging them this holiday season:

Share Traditions.

Holidays aren’t all about the gifts! Remind your family of this by passing on traditions from your childhood, or starting your own “no gift related” traditions. For example, you could create holiday crafts together, drive through your community to see the lights, or bake and decorate some tasty holiday treats.

Build Gratitude.

Children tend to become more aware of gratitude when they see and hear their parents being thankful. You can model gratitude by regularly expressing your appreciation for the people or things you have in your life.

Give Back.

One of the best gifts you can give your children is one of service. Explain to your children the importance of generosity. Let them know that some families aren’t as fortunate as yours, so they need a little extra help this holiday season. You can teach your children how to serve others by going to the store with them and having them pick out toys or clothing that they think other kids would like. Have them help you wrap the gifts and deliver it to a family in need or a local charity. This is also a great time to go through toys and clothing in your home with your child to find things that may not be used anymore, and donate them to families in need.

Set Limits.

One of the easiest ways we can avoid spoiling our children with too many gifts this year is to set realistic financial limits and stick to them.  A great way to stay on budget is to make a specific list or have your child make their wish list with their most wanted items at the top. You can cross out the rest of the items that you know won’t fit into your budget.

At Cranium Academy, we believe in developing character, social skills, and good values. Taking the focus away from gifts alone will help to develop your child’s grateful spirit and build character while enjoying the holiday season!

Tackling the Tooth Topic – What To Know About Losing Teeth

Although it’s different for each child, most kids start losing their baby teeth around age 6 when they are in kindergarten or first grade. This can be scary for some children, and exciting for others. If you have an older child as well, then you already know the drill. But if you’re a first-time parent, then you might have a few burning questions. Here are some tips that can help you tackle this toothy situation!

Which teeth fall out first?

According to the American Dental Association, teeth tend to fall out in the order that they first appeared when your child was a baby. However, more often than not, the two bottom front teeth will fall out first.

How long do they take to fall out?

The length of time it takes for teeth to fall out varies by child, and depends on a few factors. Generally speaking, a tooth can fall out within a few days to even a few months after your child first notices that it’s loose.

Should I pull the tooth out myself?

Many dentists agree that pulling out a tooth is not a good idea. If the tooth is pulled out prematurely, it poses a risk of damaging sensitive gum tissue, which can cause infection, bleeding, and pain. The best thing to do is wait for the tooth to fall out by itself.

What should I do if my child is complaining about pain?

Losing a tooth shouldn’t be very painful, but if your child is complaining that it hurts a lot, it might be because they are trying to pull a tooth that’s not ready to come out. If they won’t stop crying about the pain, then you can put an over-the-counter pain relieving gel on the gum surrounding the tooth. Make sure that this gel is safe to use on children.

Is it dangerous if they swallow a tooth?

Surprisingly, nothing will happen to your child if she swallows her tooth. The tooth will simply pass through the body. If your child is worried about having nothing to leave under her pillow for the Tooth Fairy, reassure her that the Tooth Fairy will still come if she writes a nice note.

What happens if my child loses a tooth while at school?

When a student at Cranium Academy loses a tooth, our preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school teachers are prepared to handle the situation. Our teachers will guide the student to rinse out his mouth, helping the child if necessary. Typically, there is not much blood, so there is no need for gauze or additional treatment. The child receives an adorable tooth necklace to keep his tooth stored safely until returning home to proudly show off his new smile to family and friends!

Kicking the Bad Habits: Nail Biting and Picking

If your child is about to start preschool or daycare, it’s time to start breaking some of their bad habits. In this series, we will cover some tactics that will help you kick those bad habits to the curb. Today’s bad habit is nail biting and picking. 

Nail biting and picking is the most common of the bad habits. Your child might bite her nails because of boredom, stress, or even just to imitate you. Nail biting is a bad habit that is also likely to continue into adulthood, so you should try to break this habit now while your child is still young. To nip the nail biting habit in the bud, try applying the following tips:

Address the anxieties.

Oftentimes nail biting can be a sign of stress. Figuring out what is causing your child’s stress is important so you can help him ease his anxiety. Sometimes it’s something as simple as the thought of growing up, or it could be a big change like moving into a new house or switching schools. You can help your child by talking him through his worries and reassuring him.

Keep their nails trimmed.

Long nails are almost always more tempting to bite and pick on. When they grow too long, they also have a tendency to catch on to things with their ragged edges. To reduce the nail biting or picking temptation, keep your child’s nails trimmed and filed down.

Offer crunchy snacks.

Chewing on food can be a good substitute for biting on nails. Offer your child crunchy foods like raw carrots or cucumbers to munch on.

Set goals.

Setting realistic goals with your child can also minimize their nail biting or picking habits. Set a goal of 24 hours without nail biting. If your child meets this goal, then you can reward her with something special, like an extra bedtime story.

At Cranium Academy, our goal is to build character and leadership in every student. To provide consistency between school and home life, we work hand-in-hand with parents to help children break their bad habits. If you’re working on kicking the nail biting habit, let your child’s teacher know so that we can help you with the process. One less bad habit is one step closer to building good character and being a leader!

More in this serious: Thumb Sucking, Hair Pulling, Nose Picking




Kicking the Bad Habits: Nose Picking

If your child is about to start preschool or daycare, it’s time to start breaking some of their bad habits. In this series, we will cover some tactics that will help you kick those bad habits to the curb. Today’s bad habit is nose picking. 

If you’ve ever noticed your child digging for gold anywhere in public, you’re probably familiar with that immediate feeling of embarrassment that washes over you. As gross as it seems, nose picking is a normal behavior for young children, but a bad habit that should be broken at an early age. Here are some ways that you can prevent your kid from picking:

Increase Awareness

Oftentimes kids don’t even realize they’re picking their nose, especially when they are focused on something else like watching TV. Make sure you tell your child, in a gentle, non-shaming way, that you’ve noticed her picking her nose. You can even designate a secret word or signal to bring to her attention that she is engaging in the bad habit. This is especially useful in helping your child recognize the behavior when they are out in public.


You should help your child want to stop picking his nose on his own. You can do this by talking about all of the drawbacks that come with this bad habit, such as spreading germs and getting toys dirty.

Keep Them Occupied

Try to identify the times when your child is most likely to pick her nose and keep her fingers busy with something else during these times. Squeeze balls and finger puppets are good ways to keep your child’s fingers occupied. You could even encourage her to do something else instead of nose picking, like clenching her fists or squeezing the arm of her chair.

Stock Up

  • On Water. Make sure your child is well hydrated because drinking a lot of water is one way to keep nasal passages from getting dry and itchy. If your child is hydrated and his nose is comfortable, he will be less likely to pick.
  • On Tissues. Keeping tissues handy will make it easier for you to teach your child that tissues are the right way to get rid of boogers. Encourage the use of tissues as much as possible, and use them as a gentle reminder when you catch your child digging.
  • On Band-Aids. If your child still isn’t getting the idea, you can wrap their nose-picking finger with a Band-Aid. This will help them remember not to pick every time they try to stick their finger in their nose.

At Cranium Academy, our goal is to build character and leadership in every student. To provide consistency between school and home life, we work hand-in-hand with parents to help children break their bad habits. If you’re working on kicking the nose picking habit, let your child’s teacher know so that we can help you with the process. One less bad habit is one step closer to building good character and being a leader!

More in this series: Thumb Sucking, Hair Pulling, Nail Biting/Picking

Caring for a sick child

No matter how much you try to shield you children from sicknesses, they will most likely come down with something eventually. That’s just a fact of life and while you can’t prevent the inevitable, you can prepare yourself for it. Below are some tips to help you care for your little one when they’re feeling under the weather.

Check for a fever.

Use a thermometer to take your child’s temperature. If the fever is high or prolonged, seek medical attention right away. Otherwise, give them ibuprofen or acetaminophen and make sure they rest completely.

Make sure they get plenty of fluids.

This will prevent dehydration, which is especially important if they are suffering from diarrhea or vomiting.

Use a humidifier.

Steam is an effective way to ease congestion, coughing, and sore throat.

Give them a warm bath.

This will soothe your child and ease her aches and pains. Make sure to dry her well afterward to prevent the chills.

Have them rest.

Make sure your child is comfortable and in a quiet environment so they can get as much sleep as possible. This will aid in the recovery process.

Elevate their head.

Keeping their head slightly elevated with pillows will help them breathe more easily.

Give them easily digestible foods.

Some safe options include Saltine crackers, toast, bananas, and applesauce. Chicken noodle soup is good for relieving cold and flu symptoms.

Know the signs of serious illness.

Watch for changes in breathing patterns, severe headache, changes in skin color, unresponsiveness, severe or persistent vomiting, sudden or prolonged dizziness, and pain or pressure in the chest or stomach. These are indicators that your child needs to be seen by a medical professional immediately.

At Cranium Academy, we like to keep our students as healthy as possible. Our devoted staff works hard to create a clean and sanitary environment in each classroom and play area to prevent the spread of sicknesses. We also teach our students the importance of personal hygiene, encouraging each student to wash their hands before eating and after using the restroom.