Chat with Cara: Core4Parenting & Holiday Advice for Parents
Expert advice from Cara Tyrrell on how to prepare your kids for December celebrations.
Let’s face it: the holidays, while increasingly magical for our littles, can be downright stressful. Whether you’re traveling or hosting, parents (or parents to be!) have the extra responsibility of, well, parenting during the festivities. When faced with the potential for holiday gaffes (especially for new moms and dads), the team at The Dairy Fairy finds it helpful to consult the experts to glean some wisdom.
We had the chance to chat with Cara Tyrrell, the founder of Core4Parenting, about her organization and her advice for parents (of all stages) on navigating December with relative ease.
A bit of background. Cara, a self-proclaimed “chronic lover of littles,” grew up with the desire to educate kids. Graduating college with majors in American Sign Language and Linguistics, Cara took one more step toward her goal when she completed a Master’s degree in Education. Upon entering the workforce, she focused on early childhood development, not only for hearing children, but also hard-of-hearing and Deaf individuals.
After years in the classroom, Cara noticed a troubling pattern with her incoming students: many weren’t fully ready to learn in every area of the classroom. “They knew their ABCs and 123s, but they couldn’t physically control their body,” notes Cara. “They couldn’t socially understand what they were feeling, and then how to respond appropriately to another person.” This lack of interpersonal skills from her littles catalyzed a shift in her career. She became a full-time nanny – beginning with a family at the birth of their child and staying with that child until they entered preschool or kindergarten.
Through nannying, she was able to design and develop, from firsthand experience, the pillars of the caregiver-child relationship that would eventually become the Core4Connectors of the Core4Parenting methodology.“[This relationship can] create opportunities for that child to practice the four skill areas that they need to really be ready to go to school: then, successfully learn, grow, and thrive.”
Cara Tyrrell; photo via Core4Parenting
The birth of Core4Parenting. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the U.S., Cara saw an opportunity to put all her knowledge surrounding early childhood development to a different kind of use: educating parents and caregivers on how to foster these beneficial relationships and early skills with their kids. “We are a company that believes, fully, that parents and children work together to create a beautiful relationship based on trust, respect, honesty, and open communication. Therefore, they become problems-solvers together, as a team, as kids grow over time,” Cara explains.
Core4Parenting is a supportive online community: parents can connect with likeminded moms and dads, attend weekly (virtual) Q&As, and work through a series of hands-on courses that follow child development from womb to kindergarten. Members are part of the Virtual Village (because we all know it can take one to raise a child!) where they’re given access to education in bulk: from personal support to expert advice to tried-and-true strategies and tools to foster a meaningful relationship with the kid(s) in your care.
Core4’s methodology leans into the psychology of Nature vs. Nurture, prioritizing ‘‘the who, and then the what.” Using scientifically backed systems and strategies, we teach parents how to maximize the critical development window of birth to 5 by using the Core4 Connectors matched thoughtfully with the areas of learning readiness: social/emotional, interpersonal, physical body control and cognitive development.
Her personal advice on creating the optimal environment for the holidays… no matter your stage or their age. One word (and we know you’ve heard it before: boundaries. “We need to have reasonable expectations for ourselves as we host or travel somewhere else,” she urges. “We [also] have to set reasonable expectations and boundaries for our kids.”
Her simple, but poignant, example: if you have a nap routine at home every day for your toddler… you have a nap routine. The holiday “exception” to the nap routine can’t exist. “All of a sudden, you want your child to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed: a happy interact-er with anyone who would like to chat with them… during their nap time,” Cara laughs.
This routine is integral to their functioning: not to mention, their happiness. They cannot differentiate and “push through” because they only see their cousins a few times a year. A nap-time boundary with your child, no matter the midday happenings at your in-laws’, is pertinent to keeping them on track. This boundary, and others like it, nourish your child and help with their social flow: not sticking to these boundaries, in an effort to engage them in certain activities, “will disappoint us… every single time,” notes Cara.
Cara’s message to all parents: holidays and beyond. Keep those lines of communication open! It can be tempting to leave all the logistics to you and your partner, but including your kids – even your super-small ones – in the basic plans will be more beneficial than you think. Explaining that these next few days might look a little different (whether you’ll be in the car for a few hours, getting on a plane, or welcoming extended family into your home) will do wonders for their day-to-day functioning.
“We’re going to be in the car for a while – it’s going to be a long ride today. Mommy and Daddy are here, sister’s next to you: if we have to stop, we’ll stop. But! At the end of our car trip, we’ll get to see grandma! Then we’ll get to have some fun.” A simple explanation goes a long way.
“If you have a six-month old… still talk to them about it,” Cara emphasizes. “Their receptive language development is such that they are able to explore what you’re saying, they can read your tone, they can read your face… they understand what you’re trying to get across.
Cara explains that she’s coined the ages from birth to three, the “Invisible Learning Years.” Though we can’t see it – or see very little of it – an incredible amount of development is going on inside their brain. “I’m really trying to get the message out to all parents, not just new parents, that these ‘Invisible Learning Years’ provide the most valuable opportunity to be your child’s brain architect.”
Within this time span, a child’s brain grows to 85% of its size. What they’re capable of understanding (and, subsequently, marinating in) is far, far greater than adults assume. Before your child can ever communicate their needs verbally, the comprehension is there. Speaking with them about changes to their routine, what you’re able to do, where you’re going, what you’re buying, and beyond: it’s all relevant and beneficial.
Cara’s final advice. “The more you give, the more they absorb.”
Be open and honest with your children, and have an amazing holiday season – no matter what you celebrate!