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!

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

 

How do I get my fussy eater to EAT??

Some strategies to get children eating:

1. The best way to get your children to become healthy eaters is to ensure you are a ‘healthy eater’.

2. Involve your children in the cooking process. Some of the soft vegetables are easy to cut with a butter knife. For example mushrooms, capsicum, snow peas and beans.

3. Only offer small amounts on the plate. If you are really trying to introduce a ‘disliked’ vegetable maybe just start by them having it on their plate. Baby steps!

4. Look at your routine, are the children filling up on afternoon tea and snacks. When the 4.30 hunger strikes and dinner is not ready, Jessica Seinfeld suggests offering vegetable sticks. Her book Deceptively Delicious has some wonderful recipes and strategies. I offer my children a cup of ‘frozen peas’, for some reason they think this is special because they are frozen.

5. Keep offering. I know how hard this is because we are all so busy and there is nothing more frustrating and heartbreaking than having a meal you have lovingly cooked pushed away. Or what my Miss 2 year old does is looks in the bowl and yells “YUK”!!! But I keep trying and I know that her sister Miss nearly 4 is a wonderful eater, so it is just a phase.

6. It can be a long process of getting them to change but if you are consistent and have clear expectations of what you want them to eat, they will do it.

7. Create the atmosphere as pleasant as possible. Ask the children to put a table cloth on, set the table, arrange some flowers, even light a candle, put some lovely background music. Try not to turn dinner into a screaming match, ignore behaviour that can be ignored. Encourage the positive behaviour.

When to get help? If you a worried about your child not eating enough or the food battles are getting too much there is help out there. I once had a little girl in my class that would only drink apple juice (not diluted), nearly 2L a day and over 250g of ham. The sugar content in the apple juice was enough to cause concern. This had gone on for 6 months before her mum had decided to put her into daycare to see if she could get some help. After a month she was eating normally. She was almost at the point where the doctors were going to admit her into hospital. She had turned the food into a power struggle, which as you can understand this is not something we ever want our children to associate food with power. So please speak to your doctor if you are concerned. If you still feel this hasn’t satisfied your worries then speak to a child psychologist. The Triple P parenting program is also a good way to help with some strategies.

I will post some other great kid friendly food hints and recipes soon…..