How to Diffuse a Temper Tantrum or MELTDOWN!

I am sure we have all experienced this…

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If not with your own children, perhaps you have witnessed one in the store.  As a parent, they are infuriating.  As a witness, it can make you uncomfortable.  Some people will sympathize with the parent of the screaming child, others judge and shake their heads.  They might be saying to themselves, “My child would NEVER do that!” 

At any rate, it can be a catastrophic event for all involved!  Most toddlers cannot form complete sentences or be able to put their feelings into words.  That is a huge frustration for these little ones and therefore, tantrums can occur. 
So what can you do to diffuse this tantrum or meltdown?  What has worked for me in the past is to redirect the child.  You can do this in many ways.  You can ask them to do a job.  For example:  Could you hold Mommy’s keys, I can’t load this in the cart with them in my hands. 
You can act SILLY!  Dancing or singing or doing something to make them laugh is enough to break their mood. 
You can ignore them.  This can be hard!  Especially if you are in public.  But sometimes you get lucky and ignoring it, they may stop.
You can leave the scene.  Get out of line or leave the store.  Please keep in mind to do this calmly.  If you quietly leave the store, you are letting your child know that you are in charge and in control.

Here are some other articles that you may find helpful:

http://www.empoweringparents.com/category-Outbursts-And-Temper-Tantrums.php
http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/family/relationships/temper-tantrums-00100000098724/
http://www.parenting.com/article/how-to-defuse-a-tantrum—-fast

Hopefully you will find some helpful hints about diffusing tantrums and MELTDOWNS in this post! 

 

 

Parenting Advice from a “Non- Expert”!

I often get asked for parenting advice. Not sure if it is that my kids are 15 and 12 and people think I have all this experience?  Or that both of my kids are awesome, polite, smart, funny and seemingly well adjusted? I don’t know. But here are a few pieces of advice I would like to pass on.

1. There is rarely a quick fix to your parenting problems.
You will get lots of advice, solicited or not, from people you know, those you don’t know and those you don’t want to know. And for the holy grail of baby advice, the Expert Opinion, the sheer volume of books and articles offering you the answers to even the most specific kiddie questions will wow you. Each expert will likely offer a definitive answer for anything you need to know. So what if they all contradict each other?

Problem:  Our baby isn’t sleeping through the night?
Random and conflicting advice you hear:  “Let him cry it out or he’ll be mommy-dependent and never leave home.”
Or
“Don’t let your baby cry herself to sleep or she’ll have insomnia, fear of intimacy and an aversion to good colleges.”

Problem:  Potty training problems?
Random and conflicting advice you hear:  “Stay at home for three days and let your child pee and poop on everything in sight or they’ll wear diapers to their high school graduation”
IF doesn’t sound like fun, there’s always,
“Let your child potty train when he or she is ready or she’ll end up living with you until she’s 43.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that all expert advice is to be avoided. But you should use it like a good anti-depressant, only when really needed.

2.  Much of those baffling things your baby will go through are phases.
The baby who will only fall asleep if being held vertically at a slight 45 degree angle while you do a version the Cupid Shuffle and simultaneously whisper “Shhhhhhhh” in a steady monotone until you feel lightheaded — that’s a phase.
Not sleeping through the night, pacifier addiction, embarrassing tantrums and any other number of things that can drive usually rational adults to the brink of insanity — all phases. Meaning they pass, never to be thought of again because you’re so busy dealing with the next confounding thing.

3.   You will always feel guilty.
No matter what you do with regards to your little angel, it’s never going to feel like you’re doing enough. That old friend guilt will sit on your shoulder and whisper in your ear, “I can’t believe you let Sally watch  Baby Einstein for an hour so you could shower AND wash your hair.”
There is no beating this. Just accept it and once in a while take a step back and say, “I’m working my butt off here. Can’t I get a little appreciation?” And then answer yourself. “Yes, you can. You are a great mom. You are doing a great job.” Repeat until it makes sense.

4.   All babies are different. I know, shocking.
One-size-fits-all advice, therefore, doesn’t work. Beware of moms of older kids (like me) telling you what you absolutely have to do, try, buy.
Parenting advice, from experts, friends and relatives, is like making soup. Take what you need – a dash of your mom’s wisdom, a chunk of your mother-in-law’s suggestions, a few spoonfuls of your best friend’s must-read parenting book, a dollop of an article you read online and then, for the base, pour in your own intuition. And know that you are doing the best you can and your baby will turn out to be a loved, well-adjusted adult even if he hasn’t met the latest email milestone from that obnoxious parenting website that never fails to make you feel inadequate.

 

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Self-Esteem

During middle childhood, children’s personal identity develops so as to become more complex, multi-faceted and abstract in nature. Children stop thinking of themselves solely as defined by singular and concrete attributes and comparisons

  • “I’m a boy”
  • “I have yellow hair”
  • “I’m bigger than my baby sister”

and start to describe themselves more according to their perceived personality characteristics and psychological qualities

  • “I’m funny”
  • “I like to make other people laugh”
  • “I like to help people.”

which happen to be more abstract in nature, referring to qualities and interactions rather than to things. Furthermore, children also become able to differentiate and describe their positive qualities and their less desirable qualities

  • “I’m pretty good at reading”
  • “I’m not very good at baseball and basketball”

As children develop a more complex picture of who they are and what they are capable of, they start to compare themselves to other people (e.g., peers, caregivers, siblings, other people in the community) across a wide variety of traits and characteristics such as appearance, intelligence, physical abilities, artistic abilities, etc. A result of this growing complexity of self and other description is that children start to view themselves as more or less capable within different domains of accomplishment (academic, social, athletic, appearance, etc.). Their self-esteem – reflecting their feelings of personal worthiness – also starts to vary across these domains, with the result that children may see themselves as very capable in some areas but not in others. For example, a child might say “I’m better at art than Bobby, but he is a much better runner than I am!”

Children’s overall self-esteem may fluctuate or decrease as they start this process of social comparison in earnest. However, with proper caregiver support and guidance, children’s self-esteem will generally rise again during this period as children find and focus on their strengths, address their weaknesses, and recognize that their general acceptability to those they depend upon does not itself depend on their becoming perfect people. Of course, this process of self-esteem regulation does not happen for everyone, and some children will go on to develop quite negative self-images at this time.

Self-esteem is a vitally important topic for parents to know about. We describe self-esteem in great detail in our Nurturing Children’s Self-Esteem document which we hope you will read.

It’s especially important that parents, teachers and other concerned adults in children’s lives look out for any challenges or problems that may negatively impact the development of their overall self-image and self-esteem and do what they can to help address those problems early on so that they do not contribute to children’s more permanently low self-esteem. It’s important to communicate to children that they are loved and that there are many ways to be successful in life, so that they can internalize this understanding and use it as a refuge in the event they conclude they are not good at anything important. Providing the right amount of support is a delicate balancing act, however. Providing too much help to children strips them of opportunities to recover from failure resiliently on their own, to gain practice at coping with adversity, and to develop valuable problem-solving skills such as the willingness to persevere.

Given a balanced offering of adult guidance and challenging experiences, children generally will learn that achievement and success are dependent not only on innate abilities, but also on their efforts and other environmental factors such as the support of others. Ideally, children will come to understand that there are several different ingredients for success, among them: 1) basic skill or ability, 2) effort, 3) practice and perseverance, 4) maintaining a positive, optimistic attitude, and 5) asking for help when necessary.

As children go through the process of identifying challenging personal projects and working them through, they will hopefully also come to understand that they have some degree of control over their own self-esteem. While it will always feel good to please others, resulting in their genuine approval, it is also possible to set one’s own goals, and find pleasure and a feeling of great accomplishment in meeting them. The self-esteem boost children are able to derive from learning to set and then accomplish personal goals is further enhanced as children start to compare their present abilities against memories of what they used to be able to accomplish as more limited, younger children.

source: http://sevencounties.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=37688&cn=1272

This is also an excellent article about what you can say to your kids to help boost that self-esteem.

A little girl playing queen of the mountain

 

Nagging…How can Parents Help Their Children “Un-Learn” This Habit

Not sure if you have this problem in your home, but I do.  I found this great article about Nagging and Negotiating.  

Unfortunately, it seems as though it is mostly our fault that our children nag or negotiate!  In this article, you will find an easy solution to the problem.  The key here is to be CONSISTENT!  And I know that can be difficult. 
Check out the article and let me know if it works for you!  I tried it already this week and my kids seem to get it.  One time, they actually responded themselves after they asked me for a second time for something! 

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Controlling your child’s interactons with the digital world

Do you have a hard time asking your children to put down their digital toys or devices?  It is even harder if you are not able to put them down yourself.
Children learn by example.  If you can set boundaries or rules about your digital devices and toys, and make sure you follow them too, you are on your way!  For example, we do not allow cell phones at the dinner table.  Even if we are out to dinner.   We consider that family time.  Another cell phone rule we have is if you have to take a call and you are around others, you must excuse your self and step away from the group.

As for gaming devices, we limit the amount of time the kids can play.  They must complete homework or practice their instruments before they can log on.  They might get a little more time on the weekends.  But the goal here is limits and responsibilities.  What do you do for your kids and digital devices?  Comment below!Check out this video by Dr. Michael Thompson explores what it means to raise your child in a digital world.

Controlling Your Child’s Digital Interactions

What is your child’s preschool or childcare doing to ENGAGE you?

Does your child go to a childcare and preschool?  How are the teachers and administrators communicating with you about the daily activities, developmental milestones, picture and video documentation?  There is a solution out there that parents and administrators LOVE!  It is called LifeCubby!  Want more information?  Contact us today!

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Read Aloud for 15 Minutes!

Every Parent, Every Child, Every Day!

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Why Read Aloud? 

(click on above link for graphic)

There is an easy way to improve your child’s chances at school. It will entertain and delight him. It will strengthen the bonds between him and you. And it is virtually free.

Sound too good to be true? Actually, it isn’t. The magical method: taking time to read aloud to your child.

In an era of high-stakes testing and education reforms and revolutions, research has repeatedly proved that one simple parenting technique is among the most effective. Children who are read aloud to by parents get a head start in language and literacy skills and go to school better prepared.

“Reading aloud to young children, particularly in an engaging manner, promotes emerging literacy and language development and supports the relationship between child and parent,” concludes a review in this month’s Archives of Disease in Childhood.

In other words, reading that bedtime story may not only entertain and soothe Johnny, it may also develop his vocabulary, improve his ability to learn to read, and – perhaps most important – foster a lifelong love of books and reading.

Developing that passion for reading is crucial, according to Jim Trelease, author of the best-seller, “The Read-Aloud Handbook.” “Every time we read to a child, we’re sending a ‘pleasure’ message to the child’s brain,” he writes in the “Handbook.” “You could even call it a commercial, conditioning the child to associate books and print with pleasure.”

This reading “commercial” is critical when competition for a child’s attention is so fierce. Between television, movies, the Internet, video games and myriad after-school activities, the pleasures of sitting down with a book are often overlooked. In addition, negative experiences with reading – whether frustrations in learning to read or tedious “skill and drill” school assignments – can further turn children off from reading.

That can have long-term consequences. As Mr. Trelease succinctly puts it in his handbook, “Students who read the most, read the best, achieve the most, and stay in school the longest. Conversely, those who don’t read much, cannot get better at it.”

Reading aloud is, according to the landmark 1985 report “Becoming a Nation of Readers,” “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading.”

Despite this advice, however, some educators and many parents don’t read aloud to children from a young age and thus fail to nurture avid and skilled readers. Indeed, this is especially true for children in low-income families. According to the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, only 48 percent of families below the poverty level read to their preschoolers each day, compared with 64 percent of families whose incomes were at or above the poverty level. Children from low-income families are also less likely to have exposure to print materials.

Groups such as Reach Out and Read (ROR), however, are working to combat this problem. The Boston-based non-profit extols the virtues of reading aloud to parents when children go to their check-ups at the pediatrician’s or family physician’s office. The group also helps provide reading materials for families of lesser means. And ROR has been remarkably successful: “Studies which examined language in young children found an association between the ROR intervention and statistically significant improvements in preschool language scores, a good predictor of later literacy success,” its Web site reports.

The good news for families is that this sage piece of parenting wisdom is easy to follow. Reading aloud to your child requires only a book – free, with a library card – and your willingness to spend a little quality time with your child. And while the sacrifices to read aloud are few, the benefits are many: Your child may learn to read better, think better, imagine more richly, and become a passionate and lifelong reader. More than these long-term benefits, however, are some more immediate: The pleasures of spending time with your child and sharing the enjoyment of a good book.

Jennifer Liu Bryan lives in Alexandria, Va., and is the author of Hilda, A Very Loyal Goat, a picture book for early readers, and co-author of Cole Family Christmas a children’s Christmas story about a coal miner, his wife and nine children in the Appalachian Mountains in 1920

No Technology Before Bed

Having trouble getting to sleep?  Your kids?

I just read this article from Real Simple, that talks about technology before you go to bed. 
I had not thought about it from this perspective…but it really does make sense!

Here are a few other links to some articles that agree with this thought:

1.  http://www.livescience.com/34807-technology-before-bed-increases-stress.html

2.  http://www.interestingtopics.net/say-no-to-technology-before-bedtime-id-520

3.  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleep-newzzz/201103/is-technology-stealing-your-sleep

Put the iPad down, grab a book and then hit the hay!  Nitey, Nite!