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 to help your children draw their way through an ‘experience’

How do you get your children to express themselves in a difficult situation, when language doesn’t necessarily flow that easily?  Drawing is the perfect answer!  Every child can pick up a pencil and when an adult is sensitive to what they are drawing, or telling you about at the end, it can be a very therapeutic tool.

Here is how our ‘experience’ of a missing pet unfolded. 

Day 1 – Through a chain of events, Master 2 opened the cage door, outside, of our beloved cockatiel of eight years.  Before we knew it, he was gone.  Thinking we had slim chances of finding Trevor, we did a small search around our block and went to put up some LOST signs.

I went to bed feeling dreadful for our poor pet, out with the wild birds and a 3degree night.

 

 

 

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Day 2 – I felt like I had to do one last call out, so I got up early and whistled my way around the block.  Just as I was about to head home, I heard him!  I went to find him in a tree and called my husband to come and help.  The boys waited in the car while my husband got up a ladder and we put a rake out for Trevor to climb onto (he had no idea how to fly downwards to us).  Well our poor bird got a fright from the rake and flew off – over the road and into a bush somewhere.

I spent the next half day whistling my way around a much wider radius of our house and ended up back at home feeling frustrated and tired and worried, again, for our bird.  The boys were now trying to make sense of it all and wondering why Mummy was so sad.  They were sure Trevor would be back. 

That afternoon, with my husband gone for the next few days, the boys and I walked to two parks, putting up more signs and whistling more.  In a last ditch effort, I drove us back to the bush where we saw him head and whistled out the car window.  I just had to find him.  He called out!!!  So again, the boys waited in the car while I searched for Trevor, whistling from somewhere in a big clump of gum trees, over a swamp…..  

The next while included:

  • Trevor flying at me and missing me and ending up high in a gumtree
  • Myna birds attacking him
  • Me attempting to throw 2metre branches at them
  • Me wondering how Trevor would manage to just drop from the tree, back to me
  • Trevor flying off to another tree with birds chasing him
  • Me chasing Trevor, the boys watching on in the car

Well, Trevor did think about flying down to me again but just couldn’t do it.  So I jumped in the car with the boys and raced back to our house to get his cage, in a hope he might come down to his seed and water.  All the while, I was explaining to the boys about the excitement, yes, of finding him but the nervous times ahead of trying to catch him and about the fact it was nearly dark.

We left Trevor in the branch that night with his cage under the tree.  The boys and I discussed the myna birds and why they were attacking Trevor.  We made a plan to go on an early morning adventure the next day to catch him.  I was at this point forcing myself to use positive thinking AND talking in front of the boys about it.  I also had to be organised and clear with ideas of how to catch him AND entertain the boys for who knows how long the next morning.  

Day 3 – With my stomach feeling a bit sick and my heart in my mouth, we got back to the tree and Trevor was quiet but still there.  Unfortunately, he was no closer to coming down and was not wanting to give himself away to the myna birds, who happened to have a nest a few branches over.  I spoke with a groundsman (of the retirement village we were in) who agreed I should come back at a slightly more decent hour and use the neighbour’s hose to get Trevor down. 

We drove home and waited the nervous wait.  It was here, we had the time to start drawing.  Of course there were many parts of the story we could have drawn about, but it was nice to see what the boys chose and what they talked about.  It allowed for us all to have a ‘free range’ discussion about any thoughts that were on the top of their head.  And let me see what they were making of it all.  

Master 4's myna bird - the 'naughty bird' (with an unwelcome scribble on top from Master 2)

Master 4’s myna bird – the ‘naughty bird’
(with an unwelcome scribble on top from Master 2)

I started drawing my own experience, and soon Master 4 was adding to it. 

Mummy at the bottom waving her big stick.  The boys in the car yelling 'mummy'!...

Mummy at the bottom waving her big stick. The boys in the car yelling ‘mummy’!…

Well we went back again.  The boys geared up for more waiting while Mummy raced out and found the groundsman.  He sprayed the hose, which only attracted attention to Trevor, he tried his leaf blower, which did nothing, then he got out his extendable saw.  He moved the branch and Trevor flew off again.  My heart was back in my mouth racing after him and seeing the main road.  It was two crows that gave Trevor away and there he was, at my height.  I grabbed him, full of relief and ecstatic.  

We brought Trevor home and cut him some new branches and let him rest.  He was fairly battered. 

Got him!

Got him!

That night, unfortunately, Trevor took a turn for the worse, and died.  Whilst it was very sad, it was good to know that he was at home with us and this made the boys realise how much they loved him. 

Day 4 – I broke the news to the boys.  Master 4 understood that death means that Trevor’s body has died but his spirit lives on, the one that is braver and stronger and full of love, for having gone through all of this.  Master 2 worked out Trevor was ‘sleeping’ 😀

We drew some more. 

Master 4's account of events from the capture to Trevor's death.

Master 4’s account of events from the capture to Trevor’s death.

Master 4 was now just talking as he drew.  It was good to see what he had understood from it all.  He was unsure how to draw hearing about Trevor’s death.  I explained not necessarily drawing a picture, but maybe using the different coloured pencils to show his feelings with his hand movements or by the colours he chose.  I modelled for him. 

Drawing the moment Master 4 heard of Trevor's death

Drawing the moment Master 4 heard of Trevor’s death

Master 2 joined in drawing a rainbow to bring us some happiness, like the rainbow we had seen on day 3.

Master 2 joined in drawing a rainbow to bring us some happiness, like the rainbow we had seen on day 3.

The hope from day 3...

The hope from day 3…

After doing so many drawings in a few days, the boys are back into their habit of drawing their thoughts and ideas out.  Every time they do regular drawing, they always get so much out of it.  Ideas flow out, drawing skills improve daily and creativity in both drawing and story telling is inspiring! 

In my health coach course, we have learnt about the power of expressing oneself on paper and after the last few days, I aim to sit with the boys and draw more too.  

How much do you draw?  Have you ever encouraged your children to draw their way out of a tough situation?  Will you encourage them to sit down and do drawing more regularly?

I hope to get time soon to post about our ‘Daily draw’, where the boys drew every day for a month.  

Well, that’s it for my Trevor story.  I hope I have shown my boys that persistence and a positive attitude can really bring about miracles.  We should probably never have found Trevor…twice! 

Why you should think about your baby’s language development

[6-12 months] This is such an important, interesting and exciting time for your baby’s language development.  Your baby goes from feeling the day by ‘sensations’, to understanding their world by ‘words’ (be that verbally or gestures).

This is the time to REALLY watch your little one.  When they pay attention to something, be it what you are doing, an object or another person/animal, you can help to teach them language with a few simple steps.  My first vocab list – 6 months+ and My second vocab list – moving to 12 months will give you tips on how to make language learning simple and also the first words your baby is likely to learn.

The sooner a child has language, the sooner you can interact even more with them, entertain them more, negotiate with them and help them to learn more about their world.

Helping your child to talk – take the time

[from 6 mths]

Just like with reading, exposure to words does all add up to the ‘more you put in, the more you get back’. Picture two children at a cafe.  The first child’s parents get on with their coffee, smile at the baby and give it a few toys.  The second child’s parents label what the child is looking at, playing with and even take the time to point out say a dog or a bus going past.

Then take this scenario to the shopping trolley, driving in the car, in the bath, while you’ve got visitors and out in the pram.  It takes more effort but you will be sure to have a child with a larger vocabulary and stronger relationship with you than those little ones who have spent more time by themselves.

Where am I going today Mummy?

[9 months+] Have you started defining the different places your little one goes?  This means saying the word and showing them by pointing or with gestures ‘at the time’.
For example, when you arrive at daycare say at the front gate, ‘daycare’, point, ‘daycare’.  Repetition is good!  Extend this to ‘granny and pop’s’ at the front of their house or ‘play group’, ‘shops’, ‘home’, when you arrive.  Be sure your little one pairs the word with the correct meaning.

Short term goal – Soon you’ll be able to say this word prior to going there and seeing if your little one gives you recognition that they understand.

Longer term goal – You’ll be able to let your little one know every place they are going to before you get in the car or leave the house.

I know I’d want to know where I was going each time I was being taken out of the house and also when I was going home.


The key is to define define define every place you go to first!

Imaginative play; a milestone to celebrate

[~2years]
This should be a milestone that every parent looks forward to.  When your child first starts to talk and play imaginatively by themselves!
Your child will need to be ready with plenty of language to make up play actions and stories, that they have seen in their everyday life.
Here Master2 placed a piece of cake with his monkey and told him ‘here, I’m just going outside’.
Since then he has relied on others to show him more play actions whilst making some up himself.  He will create longer and longer play scenes as he develops more language, attention and understanding of the world……….and then I will get more done myself!
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Our creation table

Cool parents = relaxed kids when it comes to art, craft & all the ‘messy’ play.  So I commissioned my husband into making our own outdoors creation table.  Free to be loved and used JUST for creating, having fun, sensory exploration and learning!
We take it to all corners of our yard for different inspiration from a different setting.  We don’t clean it so we don’t worry about mess.  And we chose to use blackboard paint so we can love our table with chalk too..
But yes I’ve still had some crazy sessions with little painted hands making it to the house.  I guess that’s what you get for painting with a 1 & 3yo.  More on that later!
For now, let me know if you have a wonderful creation table!  OR if your husband has the skills to whip up a basic table…  Weekend project??

Crusts, ends, skin and peel…

So who finds themselves peeling apples, cutting the crusts off bread or picking out the ‘bits’ in say yoghurt?  By giving a name to say ‘yolk’ or ‘crust’ or ‘lumps’, it draws attention to that part of the food being different to the rest…and possibly something a child should avoid.  Particularly if the parent offers to remove that part of the food.
Let’s consider what might be going on:
  • the child’s sensory system is still developing. The feel of a lump or the look of a different colour on the egg may be enough to make your child think twice.
  • the child wants to stay with what’s ‘normal’. If they’ve always had fruit or cucumber peeled or the ends of beans cut off or smooth yoghurt, they might need warming up to eat this unfamiliar part.
  • the child is finding it extra work. Chewing through crusts for little developing jaws can be hard work.

What can you do to work through these stages?

  • for the little ones (pre 12mths), give achievable lumps. Instead of store-bought yoghurt with fruit, why not add cooked fruit, fruit purée, dessicated coconut or say some banana bread bits to plain yogurt. These create more even texture until they are ready for bigger lumps.
  • most children can and will work around peel and crusts from an early age.  But be prepared for them to avoid the skin or crusts.  There is no need to draw any attention to it though.  You might simply ask if they’ve had enough and remove it. Sometimes just breaking the crusts up into more manageable pieces will have your child finishing all their bread.
  • keep persisting.  As with introducing any new food, if you persist, you ‘should’ win. (Short of further sensory processing issues or difficulty chewing).
  • be prepared for regression.  Once a child works out ‘no’, they might put up some protests.  This is NOT the time to go with their requests.  Keep persisting, with no pressure.
  • model eating it all yourself.  You might show them how you bite into a whole apple with the peel or crunch the rest of the cucumber skin.
  • start slowly.  You might present sweet potato with just some of it’s skin on.  Or peel stripes down the cucumber.  You could cut just one end off each bean.

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Always remember, no matter what, there is no pressure to eat and thus no drawing attention to these parts of food.  Eventually your child will be ready to eat it all…and they won’t realise the game you’ve just played with them!  🙂  Heidi
Please let me know if you have any questions in this area.

Feel free to come and follow ‘I Raise My Kids’ to receive more information on feeding, play, communication and literacy development. 🙂

Sign of the week – NO

No means NO!
Who has a little toddler that likes to test the boundaries? What do you do when you really mean ‘no’?
A sign can really help your child to understand ‘no’ means ‘no’, in a visual and concrete way.

The good thing is, you can sign ‘no’ into your little one’s visual field, even if they choose not to look at you.  It is also a good one to be able to sign when you can’t talk, like when you’re on the phone or have a mouthful of water.

The sign site for Auslan is not working tonight, so here is my description!  Make a fist and shake it back and forward like you would shake your head ‘no’, moving from your wrist.
Happy signing!

Why you should explain WHY!

[18 mths +]  A child will always be more compliant, if they understand WHY.
So don’t wait for your children to ask (especially if they’re too young to know how to), but give them the answer.
Instead of just:
  • ‘close the door’, offer ‘flies will come in, bzz bzz, no no!’
  • ‘don’t touch that’, offer ‘it’s not ours’ or ‘we don’t need that today’ or ‘just for grown ups, it might break’ etc
  • ‘sit down’, offer ‘on your bottom, no falling….OWWW!’
  • ‘get your shoes on’, offer ‘no standing on rocks & hurt your feet…OWW’ or ‘the other kids will all have shoes on, protecting their feet….’

When you explain WHY at the same time you give the direction, you will literally see brains tick over…and hopefully see why you’re asking them to do so.  The catch is, make sure you’ve used words that your child will understand for their age!