How to avoid a time out… (and where hugs fit into it all)

Time outs are often used as a means to ‘discipline’ a child.  It is seen as a way to teach a child not to keep going with a behaviour, by secluding them.  It is often used as a last resort by parents and is obviously more favourable than a smack.  Mostly, time outs are used by parents as this is what their parents used with them.  Without consciously making change, most parents continue to use the beliefs and disciplinary style that were modelled by their parents.

Time outs are not the only way to deal with misbehaviour.  There are actually two ways to treat your child:

  1. Use a disciplinary action such as smacking or time outs, which eventually gets your child to comply out of ‘fear’.
  2. Teach your child in a loving and understanding way where they went wrong and how to behave in a better way next time, promoting your child to respect you and to try to ‘do the right thing’.

By using the second approach, you will find less resistance, more positive change for the long term and a better relationship with your child.  It is not your job as a parent to ‘come down’ on your child when they are misbehaving, but rather to teach them how to behave appropriately, with love and understanding.

This is basically the same way you can treat teenagers.  The more you ‘come down’ on them, they more likely they are to rebel.  The more you get them to understand why you are asking them to do something or pulling them up on inappropriate behaviours, the more they will respect you and comply.

The trouble with ‘time out’:

  • Children just want to be loved by their parents.  Being secluded by their own parents stresses a child’s body physically and emotionally and temporarily removes that love.  A child then does not feel loved unconditionally.
  • There is always a reason for a child to misbehave.  Time outs do not encourage parents to look at why the child was misbehaving in the first place. They simply see their child as having acted ‘naughty’.
  • The child knows they have done the wrong thing by being secluded in a time out but may not understand exactly what they have done wrong, or how to change this behaviour for next time.
  • If the parent has not used age-appropriate language (roughly 2-3 word phrases for 2 year olds, 3-4 word phrases for 3 year olds and ensuring 4 year olds and older actually understand all terms and concepts the parent uses), they can expect the child will possibly misbehave in the same way.
  • A child does not always know to say ‘I didn’t understand what you were meaning/what do I do when this happens next time/why have I been put in my room?’.

How to avoid time outs

  • Choose to look at why your child has acted the way they have, before you assume they are being ‘naughty’ and acting against you.  Why is your child getting to the point of misbehaving?  Are they bored?  Are they excited?  Are they overstimulated?  Are they craving your attention?  Are they having difficulty regulating their emotions?
  • Use age-appropriate language.  Really stop to ask yourself ‘does my child understand what I am saying?’.  Do I need to show my child how to act instead.
  • Aim to teach your child what to do in each scenario.  For example, “no hitting…say ‘mine'”, ‘no playing here (with power point)…not safe…come play here’.
  • You may need to distract on from inappropriate behaviours (such as power points), when your child is too young to understand why they must not play there.
  • Identify with your child’s feelings.  Instead of sending them to time out for hitting, tell them what they are feeling.  For example, ‘you are frustrated…no hitting…come here for a hug’, ‘no hitting mummy…you are frustrated…you wanted books now..dinner…come’.
  • Use natural consequences. If your child tips out all the blocks, ensure they help to pack up, even if it’s hand over hand.  If your child bites a sibling because they are frustrated they ripped their drawing, ensure they help to give some love for the bite (hug, pat, sit with sibling, get icepack) but also ensure the sibling helps to fix the drawing.  Ensuring natural consequences occur is more functional than just demanding your child apologises.  ‘I’m sorry’ is easily muttered without your child learning any lesson of what their behaviour really meant.
  • Expect your child to learn their lesson the first time, IF you have explained it well and have shown them the appropriate action for next time.  Many children (especially young ones), will need to be shown a few times.  Be patient!
  • Be consistent.  If your child shows the same inappropriate behaviour, such as tipping out the blocks when you have just asked them not to, show them to pack them away again.  If your child is enjoying the attention of repeating inappropriate behaviours, move them onto another activity, without feeling the need for further punishment or lectures.  For example, ‘no more tipping….finished…time to eat’.
  • Trust your child will learn the appropriate behaviour, in time.  Keep being patient, modelling the correct behaviour and explaining why you do not approve of the inappropriate behaviour.

How can a hug solve the problem?

Very often, a child is misbehaving to attract your attention, even if it is your negative attention.  This perpetuates a cycle of your child misbehaving, gaining your (negative) attention and so they keep doing this to gain more of your attention.  Yes, sometimes your negative attention is better than none of your attention.

So try it.  Break free of the cycle and give your child a hug, as soon as your child appears to be bored or acting up to gain your attention….and see what happens.

Don’t hold your child accountable for misbehaving. They are a child. They are learning. You will need patience and understanding.  Be happy to teach your child and model how to act appropriately.  Life is too short.  Don’t waste your and their time playing the time out game!

How can our family’s health story help your family?

A little update on the ‘saving my family’s health’ tale with some ways to spot whether you or your children are also as sensitive. The end is getting happier for us 😀

Today I am thankful to have my son’s brain working so much better than it ever has.  Many of you have seen how I have been on a journey with Master4, initially to eradicate his ECZEMA without the nasty creams, then to reduce his ‘brain inflammation’ (aka ADHD), then to improve his nutritional health and get rid of the DARK CIRCLES under his eyes and consequently, we got rid of his SLEEP APNOEA, improved his SLEEP out of sight, stopped the BEDWETTING and improved his IMMUNITY.  It sounds quite extreme but we have had to remove gluten, dairy, soy, yeast, corn, sugar, some grains (such as white and brown rice), some fruits/veges (such as kiwi fruit and capsicum) and of course all food additives.  We have also removed chemicals by way of many non-organic foods, soaps, sunscreen and regular toothpaste.

Yes Master4 is very sensitive!  Master2 and I are also as sensitive.  But instead this has made our family take on more of a NUTRITARIAN diet.  Making everything we put in our mouths be filled with nutrients instead of foods that do nothing for our health (many of those above) and it is still very much a work in progress!  And through thinking outside the box, I do manage to fill their lunchboxes each day 🙂 although I have spilt tears at making lunches some days!

After studying him closely, I’ve realised just one mouthful of gluten will inflame Master4’s brain for four weeks.  Four weeks of STRESS for the whole family.

Master4 flies off the handle at what feels like every minute of his day.  His brain can’t process language as well so you can’t talk him through his experiences.  He has little empathy for others which makes interactions with his brother harder.  He has no ability to direct himself to play nor much motivation.  He is more aggressive and shows less eye contact. He has about a 2second window to give an instruction or explain something.  I am forever saying ‘look at me, look at me, listen, LISTEN!’ His world is one big ‘gluten hangover’ (and what appears as Asperger’s Syndrome) and so we hold our breath and wait it out….

Last week, Master4 came out of yet another gluten hangover (from sampling a child’s Tiny Teddy at kindy). Can you hear our HALLELUJAH’s??!  He is now much more easy going, is smiling, plays imaginatively for hours, shares and thinks (a little bit!) about his brother, comes up with brilliant ideas, draws amazingly and can actually listen and be reasoned with.

This is the reason I have realised my life’s goal is to ‘save’ more families from scenarios like this and to improve children’s potential through health and well being.  All with diet and environment, not medications or putting up with it.  Right now, spare minutes are filled with me studying and organizing business logistics.

I hope everyone will benefit from some of the information I will soon have to share, after all who doesn’t count their family’s health as their #1 priority?  It is not easy but once you have seen the difference, you will never go back.

I am looking to start my health coaching business next year, but in the meantime, if you’d like any advice, please let me know.  Or if you know anyone that may need some direction, point them in my direction 🙂 Heidi

Would it matter on the moon?

We go through struggles everyday between the 2 boys over things that ‘don’t really matter’. But actually, who am I to say it doesn’t matter?  For them as a child, in that stage, maybe it does matter…  Or maybe they don’t know how to understand the situation any differently.

So I might:
– label their feelings – eg ‘you are frustrated he won’t give it back to you’ or ‘you had in your mind you were going to sit in that seat..you are disappointed’
– show them how to deal with it – eg ‘do you think you could show him a better way with different pieces, then he might not care about the ones you want?’ or ‘ask him “could we swap chairs?”‘
– OR I might say to Master4 ‘if we went on a holiday to the moon….do you think we’d care about this problem right now?’.  Thinking, he usually agrees ‘no we wouldn’t’.  So now I can say, ‘if we were on the moon…?’ and if he’s happy to leave it, phew!  If not, it probably does matter to him!

Do you go through these struggles over small things with your little ones?  How do you deal with it?

Can we throw out the thumb?

That’s it!  At two years and three months, Master 2’s THUMB-SUCKING is about to see an end.  Well as quickly as we can stop it…!
You see in the last two days I’ve noticed a few changes to his face and speech that have made me pay attention:

  • he’s now developing on ‘open bite’ where his top front teeth don’t sit neatly in front of his lower teeth…  The top ones jut out in an arch, just slightly.
  • with his teeth closed, because of his front teeth sitting forward, the middle of his top lip is forced outwards, just slightly… But his appearance looks different.
  • tongue tip sounds such as /s/, /d/, /n/ sound slightly ‘dentalised’ (ie the tongue and jaw sit forward giving that ‘fuzzy’, lispy sound).

Being a speech pathologist I have seen these changes and want to reverse them as quickly as possible to avoid face shape changes, future dental issues and of course, the dreaded speech errors.  To have more of an idea of the issues that thumb- or dummy/pacifier-sucking can have, here is a post I wrote a while back on the effects of sucking, on speech development https://iraisemykids.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/the-future-of-a-little-sucker/.

Whilst it is good to have in mind the future issues with sucking a dummy/pacifier or their thumb, it can also be very difficult to put an end to this habit.  The potential trauma to a child must be kept in mind at all times.  When stopping the habit starts to affect the parent-child relationship, this is where it might be time to back off or slow the focus a little bit.  Giving it time might be all that you need. 

So, how do you stop the sucking habit?  Whilst I don’t have the answers, I know slow and steady is a good idea and keep in mind your child’s age.  The younger they are, the less you can expect of them.  Always keep in mind shame.  Without explaining why you are trying to end the thumb- or dummy-sucking, your child may be left feeling shame for wanting to continue with a self-calming strategy that they suddenly feel is ‘not allowed’.

Here is a little bit on our journey with Master 2.

Master 2 only sucks his thumb when he has his comforter monkey.  I am tucking it away in the day and whilst Mr2 has asked where it is, we have joked that he is at work and distract him by wondering what job he does and I list off options for Mr2.  He laughs with me so I know he is okay with the concept.  I give monkey back for sleep, so he still sees him twice a day.  When he wants monkey in the day, we will have a fun game of hide and seek and find monkey.  I am being careful not to hide monkey so much that Master 2 can only think about ‘not letting go of monkey’ and end up sucking his thumb more.  We have made the rule ‘no monkey in the car’ which Master 2 has gone along with, with the distraction of his music in the car.

We have talked about the thumb pushing his teeth out and how my aunt who is a dentist is going to check on his teeth soon to see how he is going with less thumb sucking.  He now asks me if he can suck his thumb before he goes to bed.  I let him, knowing it’s a compromise for less sucking in the day and that he will anyway.  We will keep the talk up about less thumb sucking and I give him other ideas of what to do when he holds monkey (stroking him, holding a second toy) with no pressure to take it on yet.  I am going with education early so hopefully he can make his decision to really quit as soon as he is ready.  We are lucky he doesn’t suck his thumb without monkey.
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Ps this is Master 2’s ‘big smile’. The best I could get of the wriggling boy!

HUNGER

We take HUNGER seriously in our household. Do you know the signs of hunger your child exhibits?I know for us, there might be:
– crying at the drop of a hat
– inability to go and play properly
– asking for a hug
– erratic/silly behaviour
– inability to make a choice
– just hanging around me

For us as adults, we have learnt to recognize hunger and act on it.  But this doesn’t come automatically to young children and thus they may display all types of behaviours due to their ‘uncomfortable feeling’ and the brain’s need for fuel.
We liken it to recharging the car with petrol to ‘go’.  And when I can sense hunger, I am very quick to get food out before blood sugar levels drop any lower.  And knowing how I can’t make choices when I’m hungry, I don’t bother offering a choice for the kids, but grab something they will surely eat!


Do you take note of your child’s hunger and explain this to them?

Dealing with tantrums..with love

Stay on your child’s side!  When your child is having a TANTRUM, the ones where they have truly lost it, FIRST help their brain to calm down by:
– staying calm in what you say, how you act & your volume
– offering a hug
– seeing the problem from your child’s point of view, no matter how inconvenient the tantrum!
– identifying with your child & labeling emotions (‘it’s hard isn’t it’, ‘that was disappointing wasn’t it’)
– don’t offer lectures – the lesson learnt can be discussed when your child is cool
– don’t keep saying ‘no’ or ‘rubbing it in’

Whilst your child needs to learn lessons, they also need understanding that their emotions can be BIG and difficult to get over.  No matter much you think it shouldn’t matter!
If you can help your child to regulate their emotions, they will get better at this as time goes on.  And eventually you’ll be able to talk them out of even going down the meltdown road!

Let the children show you how yoga is done!

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Despite being more of a physical exercise for adults, yoga for children possibly has more benefits for their brain and mind.  Let’s first look at the benefits of introducing yoga to your little ones.  What’s in it for them?

No age is too young to start!

No age is too young to start!

Yoga connects the body, mind and spirit.  Children are very in touch with their intuition at a young age however, our early education system promotes a focus on the child’s ‘mental body’.  Children are prompted to learn literacy and numeracy from a young age.  Shifting their attention to these cognitive tasks, draws attention away from important right brain development which is responsible for creativity and imagination.  It is also the reason that many of us as adults have lost our ability to use our intuition, creative skills and the ability to just ‘feel’.  Yoga helps children to access their ‘spiritual body’, to be creative, to use their ‘gut instinct’ and their senses, by paying attention to their breathing, body and surrounding environment.

yoga's finished...time to listen to the sounds around us

yoga’s finished…time to listen to the sounds around us

Yoga promotes increased focus and attention.  It provides your child with a useful toolkit of self-calming strategies, particularly teaching how to breathe and relax.  It is also a useful strategy to promote mindfulness.  See more about mindfulness here.

Yoga teaches your child about body awareness.  Brain development occurs very quickly when a child has to work out where their body is in space.  How do they move their body to get into THAT pose?  And from cobra pose on their tummy, to downward dog on their hands and feet, to baby pose on their back?  Body awareness is also developed when talking about the different body parts and explaining where to put each.  This might be ‘put your hand down next to your foot’ or ‘now turn your shoulder up to the sky’.

my feet where? hands where?

my feet where? hands where?

Yoga promotes respecting the environment, and others.  Yoga is done cooperatively together, not competing against other children.  It is ideally performed outside where children can take notice of the environment (the wind, the trees, the wildlife, the weather), whilst they are doing yoga.

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And of course strength and balance comes with yoga.  Kids are just maintaining flexibility!

So what happens in Kid’s Yoga?

First things first, you’ll need to keep your child’s attention, so it must be FUN.  Kid’s Yoga not only means body poses, but also learning about breathing, body awareness and their surroundings.  Giselle Shardlow has created enticing Kids Yoga Stories to motivate children to practice yoga.*

Just one of the many titles from Giselle Shardlow!

Just one of the many titles from Giselle Shardlow!

ooh they saw a ‘monkey’!

 

Being like a tree... and not thinking about it too much!

Being like a tree… and not thinking about it too much!

They feature adventure-style stories which feature a character who not only cares for the environment but also stops to do a yoga pose or two on each page of the story.  This gives children something visual to go by but also a theme to help them visualise the pose they are attempting.  So when your child goes on a jungle adventure, they might end up doing ‘cat’ pose for a jaguar or if they went on a beach trip, they would end up doing ‘warrior’ pose for ‘surfing’.

Being a butterfly in the jungle

Being a butterfly in the jungle

This is how Kids Yoga sessions compare with an adult’s session.

1. Set up – yes a yoga towel or mat + a drink bottle is still ideal.  A Kids Yoga Story really does hold their attention however you could certainly attempt your own stories once you are familiar with some of the poses.  Or go online for some inspiration too.  We love to do yoga outdoors so we can be with nature and notice the environment with all of our senses, but inside is good if the weather isn’t great!

'Sailing' at the 'beach'... with Master 2 spectator

‘Sailing’ at the ‘beach’… with Master 2 spectator

2. Music – no, you don’t have to stick with any particular type of music.  Whatever gets your children inspired in the theme is a great choice.  But do think outside the box.  The Wiggles Beach Party songs might be a first pick, but could also be distracting.  The Beach Boys is a different alternative.  You could even create a playlist of all of the songs that relate to say ‘the jungle’.  Or you could just put on ‘rainforest’ songs or classical music.  OR you could just go with the sounds around you.

3. Preparation – not so much on body and breathing, but of the story and theme.  Taking the time to discuss what you might expect to see on your adventure gets children into the theme even more so and excited to look at the book.  Don’t forget to remind your children about their surroundings and to use their senses.

4. Structure – this one does go out the window with kids! But the great thing is, sometimes the children will show you how they like their yoga sessions to flow.  And as long as they are still enjoying yoga and receiving any of the benefits listed above, you can let go of following the story exactly or doing the pose so precisely.  Let your children show you how kid’s yoga is done!

Fun wins over precision

Fun wins over precision

5. Taking time – there is no rush with kid’s yoga.  If the kids stop to go and grab a stick for a prop or if they decide they would like to enjoy their rest and watch the clouds for longer at the end, that is what happens.  As long as you are enthusiastic and accepting of their ideas, they will run the session in their own way!

taking the time on his own..

taking the time on his own..

6. Post-yoga activities – the list is endless of what you could carry onto.  Morning tea on the towels noticing the trees or clouds or birds is a great way to stay ‘mindful’ and relaxed.  Other activities could be continuing the yoga theme (such as ‘the beach’) and exercising the right brain with some painting, drawing or playdough modelling.  Make use of the towels in summer and let the kids have fun blowing bubbles in cups with straws until their hearts are content!  Blowing involves breathing and the diaphragm which promotes further relaxation.  Alternatively, you could think about a theme for the next yoga session.

For those interested in one of the Kids Yoga Stories to get them started, here is the website http://www.kidsyogastories.com/.

Otherwise, take a towel outside and see what moves your children might come up with!  You might be surprised as to how much they enjoy it  🙂 Heidi

* This is not a paid presentation but an endorsement of a really great set of books 🙂

Control, guilt, shame, anger

Speaking from first hand experience, it is much easier to work on yourself staying ‘cool’ when your kids try to steal your calm than trying to pick up the pieces, for your kids and you!

So how do you do this?
– Being ‘mindful’ is one way (link in comments to post about mindfulness).
– Dealing with your own emotions is another. Anger, control, guilt and shame, amongst other emotions, can all stem from not receiving enough love when we grew up, (even when we thought we did) OR particular events. This all affects how we respond to our own children when we get our ‘calm’ taken from us.

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It will always be easier to deal with any type of tantrum or emotional turmoil your child can throw at you, when you are not holding onto negativity from your own past.

How do you let go of this?
In a simple answer, getting to the source of your anger or your controlling issues or whatever it is AND THEN expressing it, will release that energy. You can express emotions through screaming (in an appropriate place!), writing it out, crying or even moving (say yoga poses).


Once you have released your what’s holding you back from the past, you will be amazed at the patience, understanding and calm you can have with your own kids. Then it just involves being mindful, to keep on top of your emotions.

Let me know if you want more information on this! 🙂  Heidi

I have an emotionally sensitive child

I have an emotionally sensitive child. And it is sometimes hard not to wear his emotions too!

Rather than ‘brush off’ his feelings with comments like ‘it’s okay’, ‘don’t worry about it’, ‘just let it go’, it works much better to identify with his strong feelings. I might say ‘you are really disappointed aren’t you?’, ‘that must’ve worried you a lot’ or ‘I know you wanted a turn first’.

Instead of firing him up more, he relaxes because he feels understood and supported.

This is one of the first steps in helping him to calm down and regulate his emotions. Without an understanding adult on his side, he is pretty much sure to ‘flip his lid’, where he can’t think straight, won’t let anyone in to help him and struggles to calm down for what seems like an eternity.

And of course, a hug to go with it brings even more success!

Who else can identify with one of these little sensitive ones?

It’s time to entertain yourselves..it’s called ‘free play’!

Do your schedule time in your children’s day as ‘free play’?  Do you let your kids get bored (& let them find their own games)?
A few ideas I use to encourage free play:
– send them outside…and lock the door (just kidding, but it can sometimes be tricky to shake the kids off you)
– give your children tasks to complete outside (& with any luck they’ll get swept up in their own play)
You can find language in your backyard – my backyard treasure hunt that can entice kids outside
– set up ‘play invitations’ inside – think my weekly play themes or even just setting up a few toys here and there to encourage them to be discovered and play with
– encourage collaborative play with spare boxes or a pile of dress up gear or a big bag of blocks
– make yourself look BUSY! too busy to get involved in case the kids try to include you.
 Here is a link about the importance of free play by Dr Helen Street. ‘Why over scheduling kids is robbing them of a life worth living’. Worth a read!
Don’t forget to take a look around in the different categories to see if I Raise My Kids is worth following for you! 🙂 Heidi