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!

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?

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!

What type of parent do you want to be?

Have you ever sat down and thought about what parent you’d like to be?  Maybe not the parent you are now, but the one you’d be in the ideal world.  It is useful to write it all down and compare with where you are at right now.  It’s never too late to CHANGE!


To get you started, what would you like your children to describe you as…?

Communicating at the toilet

Did you know that what you say and how you act around your child when they are toilet training can really make or break the whole experience?  A confident and supported child will be happy to keep trying, even if they make mistakes!

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Here are a few points to remember about communication, before you get started.

A child is never in the wrong when it comes to toileting

Your positive attitude, no matter what, is key to keeping your child relaxed around the toilet and most importantly, happy to keep trying.  Sensitive children in particular will pick up when you think they are not doing a good enough job.  This can completely derail their confidence.

Whilst toilet training can be frustrating for parents, it is important to look at WHY there might be issues, rather than blaming the child.  This might include not being quite ready (and thus less understanding of the importance of making it to the toilet every time) or being almost ‘past’ the window of opportunity (and thus resisting going to the toilet).  Of equal importance, is to look into any underlying causes of sudden accidents, constipation or frequent bed-wetting.  Any issues around toileting is never the child’s fault!

Keep it positive

Whilst praise keeps it positive, why not try using your child’s own ‘intrinsic motivation’?  To do this, acknowledge what your child has achieved, for example, ‘you did a poo in the toilet!!’ or ‘you told Daddy you needed to go!’.  This generates excitement for your child to do that behaviour again.  Using praise, such as ‘good boy!’, is more likely to encourage your child to repeat what they did more to please you, than for their own self.

Always remind yourself, no negative talk will ever help your child to move forward in the toileting process.  Patience and understanding goes a long way in keeping the huffs, threats or blame aside!

Be careful how you praise and reward

It’s great to express your pride to your child on their toileting achievements.  But…including that you are proud even when they have accidents or wet the bed, will reassure them that you are supportive all the way!

It can be fun and enticing to offer a small incentive for going to the toilet but be prepared to adjust the target according to your child’s toileting skills.  So for example, if you’re only offering a sticker for a wee or poo in the toilet, what will you do if it’s a battle just to get your child to sit there in the first place?  By making it simple enough to earn their reward (that is, a sticker for just sitting on the toilet at first), a child will understand you aren’t expecting too much of them.

Negative reinforcement, in the form of ‘you won’t get this if you do/don’t do this’, is only asking for adrenalin (‘hey mummy and daddy aren’t supporting me here…’).  Stress brings inability to think and perform straight and a lack of support may reduce your child’s confidence and enthusiasm in doing what is expected of them.

Use appropriate language

Depending on your child’s age when they begin toilet-training, this will make a big difference as to whether you are using long sentences or reminding yourself to pick easy-to-understand words.

For the two-year-olds, you might need to use simpler language to make it clear what you need your child to do.  This might be ‘time for wee, no wees in the car!…then you can wee at the park’ or ‘Kasey had an accident, that’s okay, look wet undies, time for rinse then let’s get dry undies’.  You might still be clarifying terms such as wet/dry or ‘need to go’.  It can also be more appropriate to encourage your child to ‘sit on the toilet’ rather than announcing they need to do a wee or poo, just in case they really don’t need to go.

At first, it is important to confidently TELL your child when it is time to go to the toilet.  Be sure your child isn’t at an important moment in their play though!  By asking if your child needs to go to the toilet, you are almost asking your child to say ‘NO!’.  If you forget, respect your child’s answer and attempt again in a few minutes with ‘It’s time to sit on the toilet and try for wee or poo!’.

Lastly, there is a difference in saying ‘oh you had an accident’ compared with ‘did you wet yourself?’.  Hopefully I have inspired you to think twice about communicating at the toilet.

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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?

What do cucumbers, dummies and cigarettes have in common?

They all provide ‘oral regulation’!!
‘Oral regulation’ means any repetitive chewing/sucking which calms the central nervous system and also improves concentration.  From babies with a dummy/thumb sucking, to kids and adults who suck lollipops, chew gum (think cricketers), chew fingernails and even cigarette smoking.
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Besides the nutritional benefit, these ‘crunchy things’ provide wonderful oral regulation.  I guess you could call them healthy oral regulation?  And it certainly works with Master nearly4!
Do you or your child use any other items for oral regulation? 🙂 Heidi

Turn-taking rules

How do you explain to your child the ‘rules’ around turn-taking?

Here is my turn-taking cartoon strip to get the steps straight in your head but also a great visual tool to explain it to your child from about 3 years of age onwards.  Rather than drawing it ahead of time, I draw box by box and talk while I draw to explain what is happening and who is saying what.  I find it helps to keep children’s attention, rather than them seeing a page of cartoons all at once.  ‘When in doubt, say it with a pen’ includes more information on the benefits and ‘how-to’ of helping to explain situations to your child through drawing.   For the littler ones, it is important to keep your language VERY simple.  ‘Sarah’s turn then Jake’s turn’ or ‘wait’.

So let’s go through each of the pictures…

1. Use your words!  One of the keys to sharing and turn-taking is learning to use your words instead of your hands, which ends up in ‘snatching’ and squabbles.  You will at first need to model the words ‘can I have a turn?’ or for the younger ones ‘mine?’ or ‘my turn?’.  It would be too simple if child 1 (with the toy) would simply hand it over to child 2, but normally this doesn’t happen.  Instead, you get ‘NO!’.  You may not need to step in, but ‘no!’ is usually an alert for a parent/carer to be there if needed.

do you need to step in?

do you need to step in?

2. The warnings.  Once child 2 has used their words, I explain to them that they can step back and wait or otherwise ask for help from an adult.  This is usually to place ‘warning #1’.  Otherwise, child 2 will generally find ‘words haven’t worked for me, so I’ll take it with my hands’… Warning #1 usually goes ‘2 more minutes, Master 2, then Master 4’s turn’, keeping the language as simple as possible.  After a minute, ‘warning #2’ gets issued – ‘nearly Master 4’s turn!!’.

warnings and waiting

warnings and waiting

3. Waiting.  In the meantime, child 2 can choose to wait there in case they get lucky and child 1 decides to hand the toy over OR they can find another toy to play with while they wait.  Occasionally this starts an opportunity to ‘swap’ if child 1 decides they then like the look of that toy!

intervening or independence?

intervening or independence?

4. Intervening.  By this stage, you’ve given your final warning to child 1 and it’s now time to intervene.  Again, warn with words before you take out of their hands (or they could point the finger at you for snatching!!).  Keep the language simple with something like ‘Master 4’s turn now’.  Of course there might be tears and this is where you will need to set the rules for child 1 now, ‘Master 4’s turn, then Master 2’s turn….wait…’ (and stick with 2 minutes).  If the child is struggling to wait, you might try distraction instead and present a different toy or encourage them to leave the area to do something else with you.

And this is all assuming child 1 hasn’t already handed over the toy in which case I encourage ‘thanks’ (with an ‘eye connection’, that is, establishing eye contact) and enforce this for children 3 years and above. Kids have a lot to learn before manners explains when children are ready to learn about manners.

Ready to start?!  Look at the pictures again and see if it makes sense.  It might take practice to remember simple wording or to not step straight in, but a learning parent is an interested one!

You can find I Raise My Kids on Facebook and Google + also 🙂 Heidi

 

The pack away game

[12 months] Starting as early as you can, start making a game of packing away, when you have the time!  It is MUCH easier to make packing away a habit rather than a chore that is suddenly expected of children when they are older.

This works for packing away toys where there are many ‘things’, for example, bath toys, duplo, little people, soft animals/teddies, waterplay toys.

The ‘game’ is YOU giving language clues for the child to find the things and bring them to you to put in the box/tub or wherever they belong.  You just need to adjust the clues according to age!

Examples:

  • 12 months – ‘get  cup’ (using signs/gestures is good to give them more of a chance of working out what you are talking about), ‘get duck
  • 18 months – start giving clues, not just the word, such as ‘get big ball’, ‘get elephant with hat’ (signs can still be good)
  • 2 years onwards – start using more describing words (adjectives) such as ‘the spiky dinosaur’, ‘the spotty one’, ‘the  long rake’ or other attributes of the item ‘the one we eat at breakfast’, ‘the one we peel’, ‘the red one’ (and you still might be using your hands!)

Once you start to know the words your child knows, start giving multiple directions at a time such as, ‘get the duck and pig’, ‘find the big teddy and the teddy with no clothes’, ‘get the banana, the watermelon and something we eat for dinner’.

Don’t forget to finish the game by saying ‘hooray’, high fives, ‘you packed away’, ‘you HELPED’!!!!!!

And IF you still have trouble encouraging packing away, why not start by ‘backward chaining’.   That is, you pack away some (or most, depending how young your child is) and get them to help with the last few. That way they can still receive the ‘hoorays’ which sets it on a positive note to try again for next time 🙂

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