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Discovering Our Children’s Interests

“We labor under a sort of superstition that the child has nothing to learn during the first five years of life.  On the contrary the fact is that the child never learns [afterwards] what it does in its first five years.”     – Mahatma Gandhi, 1925

son kiss mumI was reading the Great Parent Magazine sometime ago, – Dr. Stanley Greenspan, the wonderful child researcher, developed an infant assessment process he called “Floor Time.”  The parents and the young child would sit on the floor with Dr. Greenspan, and he would observe the child and the child-parent interactions.  He then began to realize that a variant of this process could be used to enhance the parent-child relationship.  He suggested that for about fifteen minutes a day parents get onto the floor with their child and allow the child to direct the activities.  The parent becomes a benign assistant.  This is the time for the child to show the parent what she wants to do, what interests her, and what she feels.

“Floor time is a warm and intimate way of relating to a child,” says Dr. Greenspan.  “It means engaging, respecting and getting in tune with the child in order to help the child express through gestures, words, and pretend play what is on the child’s mind.  This enhances the child’s self-esteem and ability to be assertive, and gives the child a feeling that ‘I can have an impact on the world.’  As you support the child’s play, the child benefits from experiencing a sense of warmth, connectedness and being understood.”

All of this promotes the notion of listening to the child.  Listening to the child gives the child the sense that he is valued, that what he thinks and feels and is interested in counts for something.  This in turn enhances the child’s self-esteem.

So, let’s get back to the issue of interest.  Listening to and validating what the child is interested in pays huge dividends throughout the child’s life.  If the child is made aware that  his/her interests are important, the child then can more clearly identify genuine likes and dislikes, leading more readily to choices of career, spouse, and so on.  It is a sad occurrence, but not infrequent, to have patients at 30 or 40 or 50 years old say they do not know what they want to do or what they are interested in.  They did not have the opportunity early in life to learn that what really counted was what they were interested in.

Technically, the key component here is the affect of interest, as we have discussed previously.  Interest operates on a continuum from interest (or its close cousin, curiosity) to excitement.  As psychologist Silvan Tomkins says, “It is interest which is primary.  Interest supports both what is necessary for life and what is possible.”  Interest is responsible for our learning, exploratory activities, and creativity.

To summarize, listening to the child’s feelings gives tremendous benefits.  Interest can be promoted early on in children – listening to them, finding out the things they are intrigued with and enjoy.

What a gift!

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10 Ways to Send a Clear Message to Your Teenager

mom_talking_teen_

A sure-fire way of inviting problems into your relationship with your teenager is by sending mixed or unclear messages. Clear communication is an absolute must if you want to have a bonding relationship with your teenager. It helps build a foundation of trust, fosters a healthy self-esteem, encourages positive behavior and helps tone down frustration and stress in the family.

While many parents feel it is close to impossible to have a conversation with their teenager, there are ways. Your child really isn’t becoming a new special breed of alien. They’re just growing up and they still do want to connect with you. Try these tips to get, and keep, the conversation rolling in your home:

  1. Use your active listening skills and watch out for those door slammers.
  2.  Talk often with your teen to bring out positive opinions, ideas, and behaviors by using an affirmative tone and body language.
  3.  Treat your teenager with the same respect you would have them treat you. Say ‘hi’, ‘I love you’, ‘how was your day’, etc.
  4. Your tone of voice is extremely important. Yelling simply doesn’t work. The loud noise will shut down the listener (your teen) and you will not get through. If you feel the need to yell, ‘time out’ of the conversation until you have better control.
  5.  Be precise and detailed about what you expect. Write it down and use an Action Plan if you feel there is a need.
  6. If you’re giving your teenager instructions, write them down. It’s a fail-safe for teens and adults. This way they will remember what they are expected to do and you can feel sure that you ‘told’ them correctly. Remember, to-do lists will keep you stress free.
  7. Do things together one-on-one and with the whole family. Good times often bring about great conversations, and wonderful memories.
  8. ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ doesn’t work. Modeling is the best way of learning. You are your teenager’s model and they will emulate your behaviors.
  9. Never shut your teen out to show that you disapprove of their behavior. If you need time before you can talk to them about something that has upset you, tell them that you need time. Don’t walk away silent.
  10. “Because I said so” actually works when you are being pulled into a power struggle in discipline situations. You are the parent, and because of this, you do have the final say. Teenagers know this and trust you because of it. But do try to explain your reasoning whenever possible.

Source: http://parentingteens.about.com

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How to Discipline Your Child Without Yelling or Spanking

spanking-childMany desperate parents resort to yelling or spanking to control their children’s unruly behavior. However, Barbara Unell and Jerry Wyckoff, Ph.D., authors of “Discipline without Shouting or Spanking,” say that these forms of discipline can reinforce the kind of behavior parents seek to correct. Shouting or smacking reflects a lack of control and teaches children that aggression is an appropriate means of expressing frustration. Parents should remember that discipline isn’t to merely punish but to teach children appropriate behavior. Effective discipline begins with acting in a manner consistent with the values you want to impart.

Step 1

Set clear rules. Give your child a fair opportunity to follow your rules by stating the rules clearly and making sure that your child understands them. Be sure to explain to your child why these rules are important. You may find that you have less need for discipline when your child understands why certain behaviors are appropriate or inappropriate.

Inform child of consequences of misbehavior. Your child also should understand what happens if he breaks your rules. This way, he will learn that his choices and actions bring consequences. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) notes that consequences should be reasonable and relate to the rule that is broken. For example, if the rule is “no television before finishing your homework,” the consequence of a child for an infraction might be a 1-day suspension of television privileges. You should calmly and clearly state the consequences for misbehavior before an infraction occurs. The AACAP suggests that when children are old enough, you can decide on the consequences for inappropriate behavior–or rewards for good behavior–together.

Step 3

Enforce consequences immediately. When a child doesn’t follow the rules, you should enforce the consequences immediately. If there is too much of a lag time between the act and the consequence, children will fail to associate the consequence with the misbehavior. Moreover, if you wait to execute the consequences, you may be more likely to lose your temper and be tempted to yell and spank if the infraction occurs a second time.

Step 4

Be consistent. Once you set these rules and consequences, be consistent in enforcing them. HealthyPlace.com advises parents not to be swayed by crying or pleading on the child’s part when an infraction occurs. Inconsistent behavior on your part will simply confuse the child or she won’t take the rules seriously. When she has no doubt that you will enforce the consequences, she will be more likely to follow the rules.

Step 5

Praise good behavior. Kids should be praised, thanked or otherwise encouraged for good behavior. Unell and Dr. Wyckoff say that you should praise the child’s behavior more than the child himself. For example, you might say, “That’s really great that you finished your homework before turning on the television. Good job.” This type of encouragement is a positive way of restating the rule and reminding children of your expectations for them.

Source: http://www.livestrong.com

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Am I ‘Too Tough’ When I Discipline My Kids?

lable kidsI’ve noticed that the more sternly I speak to my kids — for example, after they’ve run into the street without looking  the more distraught they get. How can I make sure they understand the seriousness of certain situations without making them feel worse?
– Zoe

As the saying goes, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” When your child’s safety is at risk — whether he’s run into the street, reached for an open flame, or gotten dangerously close to a pool — yelling, screaming, or crying out is a perfectly normal (and necessary!) response. After all, at that moment, you would do anything possible to get your child’s attention and get him out of harm’s way.

After an episode like this, it’s natural for kids to cry — and for you to want to apologize. But the truth is, your kids are likely crying in response to the fear and urgency in your voice, not because you’ve been “too stern.” At times like these, it’s OK to comfort them without apologizing. Give your child a hug and say something like, “I know you’re upset. But what you did was dangerous and I was scared that you were going to get hurt. You must never do that again.” Punishing kids after an event like this is usually not necessary, since they’ve probably learned their lesson.

On the other hand, there are times when being too stern — like yelling regularly for minor offenses — can backfire. Kids can become immune to parents’ overblown reactions and fail to take them seriously. If you feel yourself getting into this habit, take a deep breath before responding to your child’s behavior and ask yourself, “Am I about to overreact?” If so, walk away for a few minutes and come back when you’ve calmed down.

In general, when it comes to disciplining kids, it’s best to speak with a low, firm voice and to keep your focus on the behavior, not the child. It’s also helpful to use natural consequences whenever possible. That means if your child has thrown a toy, ask her to pick it up. If she’s taken something from her sibling, ask her to return it. If she chooses not to comply, an age-appropriate timeout or other consequence should follow, despite tearful pleas. Consistency is the key to effective discipline, and giving in to a child’s tears may inadvertently reinforce negative behavior.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: July 2010

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5 Disciplinary Mistakes Parents Make

Everyone has different styles when it comes to disciplining their children. However, there are certain methods that parents should definitely steer clear of. Read on to find out the top mistakes that parents make in disciplining their children.

shutterstock 70210417 e1362549086272 5 disciplinary mistakes parents make

Disciplining your children can seem easy for some parents because they have found seemingly easy ways to get their children to do what they want. What these parents do not realize, is that their methods can have long-term damaging effects on their children’s characters and attitudes.

1.    Backing down

Arguing with children is not easy. Parents often opt to take the easy way out by letting their children win arguments, or simply keeping quiet until the child is done with his say. It takes two hands to clap so logically the argument ends when one party remains silent.

However, silence implies consent and this makes for dangerous parenting. The child will believe that he is indeed in the right just because the parent is too tired to engage in an argument. Back down too often, and you will have a child with a distorted perception and a massive ego to boot.

2.    Bribing

Sometimes a little bribery is needed when dealing with noisy, restless or disobedient kids. A mother could promise her son some candy if he sat silent through a school meeting. The problem arises when the child begins to expect the treat. The child puts a price on good behaviour and will put on a show because of the reward at the end. Whatever lessons you want to teach about behaving well in public will be thrown out the proverbial window.

Experts instead suggest reinforcing good behaviour over small bribery. Encouragement wins out in the end and the right signals are sent out.

3.    White Lies

A little white lie every now and then is acceptable right? Wrong. The problem with white lies is that they are still lies. Hypothetically, a father could tell his kid to wake up early in the morning for school because any later, and the monsters would come out from under the bed. While the strategy probably results in a child waking up early every morning, the father eventually has to come to terms with the truth. When children find out the lie, they will believe that lying is acceptable, because their parents do it.

Worse still, as in the scenario mentioned above, that little white lie could instigate fears of the dark, or imaginary monsters, resulting in a child who is not as bold as he should have been.

4.    Breaking your own rules

The problem with parents implementing too many rules is that they too must adhere to them. These parents must take care not to argue with family members, not to wear their shoes in the bedroom, not hit other people, etc.

If they do break these rules, they lose their moral authority to discipline their children. A child would think that it is right to shout in class because his parents shout at each other at home. Parents become powerless because they too are culprits.

5.    Losing your temper

Children will test your patience and it is often difficult to keep that anger from boiling over the top. When parents lose their temper, they tend to ignore reasoning and focus on putting the child down. As such the child does not receive an explanation on his wrongdoing.

Worse still, children emulate their parents and frequent temper losses will also start to appear when children deal with problems

 

– by Ellery Aruldoss