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!

Why you should NEVER serve children plain carbs

[Avoiding a picky eater]
One good rule to remember : NEVER serve plain pasta (or crackers/toast)!
As a speech pathologist, I work with picky eaters (no we don’t just do speech!).  It is very common to meet children whose sensory systems prefer plain carbs.  But if you never serve it to them, they will never get a taste for it. 


How do you serve your toddlers spag bol? 

sep_bog


Sometimes we combine it and other times, to encourage more cutlery use (stabbing pasta, scooping sauce), I separate them.  Not to mention it’s less messy when you don’t have the time and energy for little hands scooping in.
BUT to avoid the plain pasta, I toss it through tahini or even olive or coconut oil.  Or I toss it through the bolognaise and then put it in a ‘stabbing cup’.

Don’t forget to follow I raise my kids 🙂 Or sign up through Blog Lovin’ 🙂

The no dry carbs rule

One rule for feeding my kids – they are never served dry crackers or plain rice, pasta, quinoa etc.  This is to avoid them getting stuck on the idea that plain is better..or even an option!
Pasta, rice, rice noodles or quinoa could still be served on the side but with a dressing at least.  It might be sesame or olive oil (cold pressed to avoid refined oils) or tahini or even coconut oil or avocado.
For Master 2 who is still learning to eat ‘mixed textures’, such as a casserole, I might give him a corn thin with avocado to buffer him.  But I will present the casserole first and let him have a go, then place the corn thin on top of the casserole…so he has to at least try the sauce, which has made it’s way onto the corn thin.  Eventually, there’ll be no corn thin.  And slowly he has began to pick out more and more ‘bits’ to eat 🙂 Heidi
oops there's some sauce on the corn thin and hummous...

oops there’s some sauce on the corn thin and hummous…

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!
IMG_8634[1]

 

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.

IMG_9180[1]

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

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!

IMG_4282[1]

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.

Have you signed up to follow I Raise My Kids here on wordpress?

 

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!

It’s time to turn two!

Just three months difference

Just three months difference

My little boy turned 2 today!  Just recently I’ve noticed he has begun to ‘look’ two.  On the left was only three months ago and when you look closer, you see his head shape has changed…. His brain has really grown lately – personality blooming, vocabulary sky-rocketing, physical skills ever-improving and he is becoming more and more aware of the world he lives in.  And another big change is the muscle tone in his face….  He has lost the baby cheeks, all because he has simply been using the muscles more for talking!
(I can’t say chewing as he is still experimenting with ‘no thanks Mummy’ to the new foods I present him with, but that’s another 2-year-old story..)
Do you have a coming-up-2-year-old who is going through these changes?  🙂 Heidi

 

You’re going to be a big brother! What do I say next?

Oh the excitement to have another sibling on the way!  But there is some work involved in deciding how much information and when, to provide to your little one, about being pregnant and the impending birth.  Let alone what happens after THE arrival (but that’s another post).

Here are some things to consider in preparing your child for what is involved in growing a child and bringing it into the world…

Timing when to announce to your little one that you are pregnant

This all depends on age, your child’s interest in babies and how long you want to be fielding questions and talking about the upcoming arrival!  If you’ve found out the sex of your baby, this can be a great way to make it more ‘real’ for your child, especially if they have a name for the baby too.  On the other hand, it can be a great exercise to teach about ‘waiting’, ‘surprise’ and how conception gives us no option to choose the gender if you choose not to find out.  And be prepared, if you give the baby a nickname before the birth, your child may struggle to swap to the new name for a little while!

How much information do I provide?  What should I tell them?

Considering pregnancy and birth is such a miracle of life for us humans and knowing that children love to share a sense of wonder at this age, there is a strong argument for providing as much honest and age-appropriate information as needed for your child.  Depending on their age, you may just wait for questions and provide just enough information or you may have the child that needs to know every last detail.  Having ‘all the facts’ can help your child to feel safer about what is going on during the pregnancy and what will happen once the baby arrives.  It may also stem the need for excess questions however, when a child is still asking, they are trying to process a scenario in their head so be patient and keep providing information, even if you are repeating it every day.  Keep in mind, some children really don’t know what questions to ask although they may be interested in you providing some information.

Have a good think of your explanation of how the baby was made and how it will arrive BEFORE you tell your child you are pregnant!  Otherwise, remember you can always say ‘I’ll have to have a think about that one’ for any curly questions you are unprepared for (and then go and get your answer ASAP before the question is fired again!).

It all depends on a child’s maturity and need for information as to how much detail you actually provide.  It might seem embarrassing to us, but does a child really find it that way if we explain in matter-of-fact terms that a baby is born through a vagina?  Again, have a think about how much information you want to give to your child (and how much you want them to be repeating to others!).  There is always a way to SIMPLIFY explanations, rather than lie!

For those unsure of the explanation they will give their child, why not visit the library or look at their online catalogue to find books on explaining pregnancy and birth to your child.  It may be useful to read them beforehand and choose the one that fits your family the best.  Of course if you have a particular set of circumstances (such as a homebirth or child attending the birth), you could always search online for titles.  There is a book for every scenario!

Involve them

The more your child is involved in preparing for the baby, the more they will learn and feel a part of the process.  This might be:

  • using a cheap calendar to mark out dates and milestones, such as scans, baby able to hear, when baby first kicked and the due date
  • a trip to the hospital or clinic with you so they can visualise where you will be going to have the baby or the people involved in the birth
  • going to the shops and choosing the new washers, bath toys or books you will need for the baby
  • talking to your child about the reason for each item required by a baby as you sort them out at home
  • drawing scenarios for your child (stick figures are enough!): what happens at an obstetrician/midwife visit, the steps that will happen on the day the baby is born via Caesar, the different people they might spend some time with when Mummy goes into labour.  Read more about the benefits of visual explanations to help your child understand in the post ‘When in doubt, say it with a pen‘.
  • make a little book with these pictures so your child can re-read as much as they need.  You might use your stick figures or find Google images or even use some photos with Vista Print.
  • think about a present for the baby, from your child.  It could be a teddy or even a book they can later read to the little one.

Above all, remember that this time is not only an amazing journey for the family but also a period of many changes in routine.  Communication will be your biggest friend in helping your child to adjust!

Did anyone else have a favourite book for their child or another great way of helping them to learn about pregnancy or birth?

Part two – You’re going to be a big sister! Now here’s what’s going to change will give you more ideas of what changes to expect and how to help child 1, after the baby’s arrival 🙂

IMG_0306

I Raise My Kids is also at Facebook and now at Google+ 🙂 Heidi

Turning ‘yuck’ to ‘thanks’

Success! Many of you would know I don’t stand for ‘yuck’ at the dinner table. It’s taken awhile of reminding ‘I’m not sure of that food’ and lots of exposure to foods with no pressure to eat. Finally Master 3.5 has started sitting at the table and surprising us with ‘what a great dinner Mummy’ and ‘thanks for cooking this Daddy’. It is worth being consistent on this!

Speaking of which, one of my most clicked on blog posts of 2013 was ‘No child is naughty at the dinner table‘. It is full of reminders on why you should take it easy on kids at the dinner table (but we still ensure sitting to eat, age appropriate table manners and of course, no YUCK).

And right on cue, Master nearly 2 sits at the table tonight and mutters what I am sad to say was an approximation of ‘yucky’.  Here we go, round 2…….!

(but for this age, I played the ignore game)

You can also find I Raise My Kids at Facebook and just recently, Google+. Hooray!