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?

Sibling roles

Does your little one know where they fit in in the family?  Particularly if they have a younger sibling?
Here are some drawings I did with Master 4 when I noticed he felt like attention was always on younger brother and he sometimes felt like he didn’t know what his role in the family was.
Not so easy to see the drawings, but you 'get the picture'!

Not so easy to see the drawings, but you ‘get the picture’!

IMG_9399[1]

I drew these drawings with him as we talked about how important he was AND also how his younger brother would also have similar roles, particularly as he got older.
This really helped so when I then had to say ‘you’ll have to wait for your brother’, ‘wait for your turn with Grandma’ or ‘show your brother how to pack away’, he had more of an intrinsic motivation as he knew this was one of his roles as big brother.

Much better than ‘you’re the oldest, that’s just how it is!’.

Would what you say your children’s roles are in your family?

The share plate

[Improving social skills]

In order to help my boys learn how to share, particularly when it comes to table manners, I sometimes provide a share plate.  The aim is to only take one piece at a time and to still take the time to enjoy and be thankful for our food.

To help them along, I don’t provide highly desired items on the plate as this only encourages grabbing!

Here is our apple with tahini…

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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

 

10 tips to more peaceful sharing

Come 18 months, your child may be up for the dreaded tantrums and the beginning of ‘mine’.  You see for the first couple of years, a child believes they are an extension of their mother, until through brain development, the little one works out they are actually their own person…..  Bring on Master Independence, Miss No and little Master MINE!  These once innocent children suddenly have their own thoughts, feelings, opinions and honestly believe that everything IS theirs.  It might be hard to believe sometimes, but your child is not trying to cause fights because they want to.  They are not naughty.

So how do you help your child to share and take turns, especially when other children are in the equation?  The first thing to have a think about is the difference between sharing and turn-taking.  There is a difference!  So sharing means that your child may give part of something in their possession whilst they share it with the other child (think ‘here you can have one of my grapes’, ‘you can draw with my pencils with me’).  This can be easier than turn-taking which involves handing treasured items over and spending agonising time waiting for who-knows-how-long.  For this post, I will talk about sharing meaning both sharing and turn-taking.

There may not be a correct answer, but one question I do ask is ‘how much should a parent step in and coordinate sharing?‘ versus stepping back and letting children learn through experience (obviously not to the point of physical aggression).  

Here are 10 points to think about when dealing with children struggling to share.

1. It depends on age.  The way you help your two-year-old to share will be very different to your four-year-old.  You may step in less with the older children and leave them to sort things out of their own accord.  For the younger ones, you will use far less language to help negotiate sharing (think 2 word phrases until you are sure they understand, through repetition, how sharing works).

2. Have a rule on ‘special toys’ that you will always stand up for.  Your child needs to know and understand which toys are their own ‘special toys’ that other children are not allowed free access to (think special present, comforter, favourite book).  The less the better, to avoid extra work for you and your child ‘protecting’ them all.  These are the ones you might pack away when other children come to visit or you will always give back to it’s owner if the sibling manages to get hold!

3. Teach the concept ‘wait’.  Waiting is a very hard concept for a young child to grasp as it happens in many different scenarios (think waiting in line at the post office, waiting for dinner, waiting for a turn on the swing) and it is nearly always for a different length in time.  Sometimes it’s not even clear to the child when waiting has finished (unless you signal ‘finished waiting’).  Learning and defining the sign ‘wait’ (click on hyperlink to see) can be ideal as you will most likely be signing this for a while to come in many scenarios, especially in turn-taking and even when you can’t talk (think mouth full, on the phone).  Signing can also help to distract your child.

4.  Have a rule about ‘no touching’ (snatching) when another child has their hands on a toy and ‘use your words’ instead.  You can reinforce this even for the youngest ones by helping your child to take their hands off the toy being used and model ‘mine?’ (placing their hand on their chest can be a good natural gesture (my/mine) to reinforce the concept).  This is when you sign ‘wait’.  Part 2 of this post will go into more about what to do when the other child says ‘no!’.

5. Ensure a consistent waiting time for each child.  If there are any little ones involved, you might have to stick with ‘two minutes’ for everyone’s turns.  Preschool kids can definitely learn to wait longer such as ‘five minutes’ or ‘until Jack has ridden around the path’ or ‘when Sarah has finished her painting’.

6. Be consistent with the language you use.  Children will share better when they understand how the ‘rules’ work.  Using repetitive language (such as ‘Johnny’s turn, Sarah’s turn next…wait….then Sarah’s turn’) helps to make each sharing scenario more predictable and hence help to keep your child calmer. 

Think about this: The child that can stop and listen to your words about how the sharing scenario will work, and understand that they will have another turn after a short period (say 2 minutes), will be more likely to succeed at sharing than the one that doesn’t understand what is happening and allows their brain to ‘flip it’s lid’ (meaning they get so worked up they then cannot think straight to calm down and understand the situation).  Because of this, it is so important to pick the best words for your child to understand and say them the same way each time.

7. Choose your battles.  Sometimes it is easier just to have two of the same item, when you know it will matter!

8. The more you put in, the more you get back.  It can be hard work negotiating but as I’ve said above, the more consistent you are in setting up the rules, the quicker your children will come around and hopefully transfer this to sharing with others outside the home.  Sometimes you will be just putting in energy not stepping in and seeing how the children learn themselves.

9. Keep in mind personality.  Some children are more easy-going and yes this transfers onto sharing.  They will probably be able to let go of their turn much more easily than the persistent child that digs their heels in and resists transitions (especially without warning!).  Not that you want to treat each child differently, but you will want to give more understanding for these persistent ones ;).

10. Mind the ‘martyrdom’.  This can be a tricky one for some parents.  Does your child really need you to step in and help?

Stay tuned for Part 2 – The ‘sharing’ cartoon strip!

Thanks for visiting I raise my kids! You can also find us on Facebook for more tips as well as posts or on Google+ 🙂 Heidi

Sibling Squabbles

Who doesn’t fight with their sisters or brothers?? It is a normal part of growing up!!! But when does it become not acceptable!!!
Hitting or hurting each other is a ‘non negotiable’ in our house!!! It is not allowed and not accepted. I do not hit my children and I expect them to be able to manage their arguments and emotions without the use of ‘physical violence’!!!
From this
So how do you teach a 4 year old and a 2 year old how to resolve conflict when most adults struggle to do this???
Here are some beginning points:
1. Role model appropriate behaviour in any argument. You must understand that everything you say or do is direct lesson to how your children will behave!!!
We cant be perfect all the time and that is absolutely fine. In any argument it is really hard to keep rational but try and label your emotions to your children. “Mummy is feeling really sad and frustrated”.
To this
2. Get involved and be the person to help bridge the gap. Mediate until they are able to find their own resolution. For example: when they have a ‘disagreement’ give them the words to help them solve it. “You are feeling frustrated and angry that your sister isn’t listening to you”….. Ok, lets have turns talking and listening.
and ends in this
3. Understand that part of learning is to have the opportunity to work through problems in a caring, supportive environment. Sharing is a hard concept to learn. Why should I share this toy?? What internally makes us share with our siblings, parents, friends….really only the understanding that this is a social rule (I will explain about social rules in another post).
Ok so the points above are a few brief points on what to do when the ‘fight’ breaks out. But like everything Heidi and I talk about, it is more about the before!!! You need to teach your children how to interact with each other. If your children fight all the time then that is how they will learn to interact with others. If you teach them to interact to each other in a caring, supportive, empathetic and loving ways they will be able to make great friendships and choose to not be involved in the ‘not so good’ friendships.
As a family we do lots of ‘building’ of relationships and I offer ways for the girls to express their love for each other. Here are some pointers:
Find time in our busy lives to express our love to each other. Through touch, words and drawings.
TOUCH:
After bath time we play ‘Incy Wincy Spider’.
One girl sits in front of the other and the girl at the back runs her fingers up and down her back.
It goes “Incy wincy spider, climbed up the water spout”. The fingers go all the way to the top of the head. “Down came the rain”, fingers run down the back “and washed poor Incy Out!” fingers run up and down back. “Out came the sun” Fingers creep up the back to head and make a sun. “and dried up all the rain” fingers down the back “So Incy wincy spider went up the spout again” fingers back up the back.
Then we swap. You can also teach your children some massage techniques, we also do ‘squeezing shoulders and tickling backs’.
WORDS:
“Goodnight, what did you love about “Miss 2″ ?” “What actions of friendship did you do today?”
DRAWINGS: We have a love wall, it has photos, letters and drawings to each other. This is what Miss 2 likes to have a look at before she goes to bed. We are about to make a book.
love wall
I would love to hear about how you and your family express love to each other!! These are just a few things we do but sometimes the ‘unsaid’ needs to be said ‘daily’!!!
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🙂 Kara