Archive for November, 2009
Honesty and dishonesty are learned in the home. Parents are often concerned when their child or adolescent lies.
Young children often make up stories and tell tall tales. This is normal activity because they enjoy hearing stories and making up stories for fun. These young children may blur the distinction between reality and fantasy. This is probably more a result of an active imagination than an attempt to deliberately lie about something.
An older child or adolescent may tell a lie to be self-serving, such as denying responsibility or to try and get out of a chore or task. Parents should respond to isolated instances of lying by talking with the youngster about the importance of truthfulness, honesty and trust.
Some adolescents discover that lying may be considered acceptable in certain situations such as not telling a boyfriend or girlfriend the real reasons for breaking up because they don’t want to hurt their feelings. Other adolescents may lie to protect their privacy or to help them feel psychologically separate and independent from their parents.
Parents are the most important role models for their children. When a child or adolescent lies, parents should take some time to have a serious talk and discuss the difference between make believe and reality, and lying and telling the truth. They should open an honest line of communication to find out exactly why the child chose to tell a lie, and to discuss alternatives to lying. A parent should lead by example and never lie, and when they are caught in a lie, express remorse and regret for making a conscious decision to tell a lie. Clear, understandable consequences for lying should be discussed with the child early on.
However, some forms of lying are cause for concern, and might indicate an underlying emotional problem. Some children, who know the difference between truthfulness and lying, tell elaborate stories which appear believable. Children or adolescents usually relate these stories with enthusiasm because they receive a lot of attention as they tell the lie.
Other children or adolescents, who otherwise seem responsible, fall into a pattern of repetitive lying. They often feel that lying is the easiest way to deal with the demands of parents, teachers and friends. These children are usually not trying to be bad or malicious but the repetitive pattern of lying becomes a bad habit. A serious repetitive pattern of lying should be cause for concern. Consult a professional adolescent or child psychologist to find out whether help is needed.
Your child’s showing all the signs of being ready to potty train. That’s great! But now, where do you start?
Explain to your toddler that going potty is a normal process of life and everyone does it, even animals. Talk with them about the toilet, a special place where they can potty just like the big kids. Tell him how the potty works and let him try flushing himself. Explain that they will be wearing underwear and not diapers. Find some educational and entertaining videos of their favorite characters learning to go potty. Be sure to involve other family members in the process and emphasize the importance of consistency during this process.
Make a special trip to the store and purchase new underwear with your toddler. Let them have a voice in what you get. The underwear will have much more significance if your toddler helped choose them.
Overalls, pants with lots of buttons, snaps or zips, tight or restrictive clothing and oversized shirts will all be an obstacle to your child during this process. Put these kinds of clothes away for the time being.
Decide whether or not you’re going to use pull-ups, training pants or regular underwear and try to stick with this decision so your child has consistency and isn’t confused. Think about whether or not you want to use rewards or not. Figure out a strategy on how to handle potty issues when you’re away from home.
If your child is in child care, ask your provider for their advice and make sure there aren’t any hard and fast rules the center or caregiver has in place that may be an issue. Let them know that you’re going to start and enlist their help with the process.
Praise your child for each successful trip to the potty, and comfort them when accidents happen and try to remain patient and calm when they do. Avoid using candy or other treats as reinforcement. Let them know that it will take a while to get the hang of using the potty, and encourage and praise each attempt they make. With consistency, encouragement and praise, they’ll soon be completely trained.
Praising a child correctly is important to the development of positive behaviors. It’s a great way to encourage constructive future behavior. When you give praise you are giving your child a feeling of positive feedback, which increases their sense of confidence, self esteem and abilities. When you praise your child, you are pointing out the way they’ve acted, an action they’ve taken, or simply who they are. When your child looks good, tell him so. When your child does anything that pleases you, let him know. You should also praise a child’s effort to do well, even if it doesn’t come out so good in the end. You should find something each day about your child to praise.
Be on the lookout constantly for behaviors or actions deserving of praise, but don’t be over the top about it. Be sincere and honest in your praise. Wait for unexpected or previously unnoticed good behavior and praise your child for it. And when you see such action or behaviors, praise immediately so the child will know exactly what behavior or action was deemed praiseworthy. It’s also very important to look your child square in the eye when you praise him, and reinforce the positive behavior, action or trait being praised with a gesture such as a warm smile, a hug, scruff of the hair, or caress his face while you tell him.
Be exact, and state precisely what action, behavior or trait you find praiseworthy. And most importantly, never directly follow praise with criticism or negative comments. Let your child know what they did right and reward them for it before you let them know what they did wrong and punish for misbehaving or a misdeed.
So be sure to admire and congratulate your child and celebrate the good person they are growing into by praising their positive actions, behaviors and traits daily. You’ll be building a strong sense of self in your child and you’ll grow closer as a result.
It can be very frustrating to ask your child over and over again to complete their chores without them ever getting done. If this describes your house to a tee, consider designing a chore chart. Chores might include taking out the garbage, doing the dishes, cleaning their room, yard work or putting laundry in the laundry room. Each chore has to be done just once or twice a week. Anything more is unrealistic. After your child completes each chore, they can put a check mark on the chore chart. At the end of each week, it’s very inspiring for both parent and child to look at the chore chart and easily see that each designated job was completed. Just like our ‘to do’ lists, your child will find great satisfaction in being able to check off each chore as it’s completed and take pride knowing they accomplished a set task or list of tasks.
Once you’ve sat down with your child and discussed and designed a chore chart, it’s time to discuss the rewards for accomplishing each task listed. Perhaps at your home you decide you will give a set sum for each task accomplished. If you should decide to grant your child some sort of monetary allowance, make sure it’s age appropriate and granted on a regular basis. A good rule of thumb is 50 cents per year of age. So your 8 year old child would earn $4.00 per week if each chore on the list has been completed. If it has not been, they do not receive their allowance.
This is a great opportunity for you to teach your children the value of both earning and saving money, and also giving back. Perhaps the child can divide their allowance into thirds: 1/3 to spend, 1/3 to save, and 1/3 to use to help those less fortunate than themselves. You might also want to consider designing a ‘bank book’ for each portion of the allowance and tuck each into three separate coffee cans or money jars, and that way you and your child will be able to keep track of how much has been saved, how much has been spent, and how much of their allowance has gone to help someone else.
Should you decide to use non-monetary incentives as chores payment, be sure you set clear parameters for your child. Be sure they understand that two hours each weekend of their favorite video game or going to see a movie with mom or dad is only earned by completing the chore list successfully each week. You might want to consider writing these on a slip of paper as ‘currency’ for the child to keep in their ‘privilege bank’ and they can cash it in with you when they’d like.
Regardless of the method you choose, keep in mind this can be a valuable tool for both you and your child.
Children always seem to find a way to ‘push our buttons’ at times and really try our patience. It’s easy to feel irritated, sad, angry, annoyed, confused and hurt. It’s at these times when our parenting skills are really tested, and that it’s imperative we maintain a kind but firm stance when it comes to doling out the discipline. And let’s face it – none of us ever want to hurt our child with physical or verbal abuse. We want to teach our child that such things are wrong, and punishing a misdeed or inappropriate action by yelling or hitting is hypocritical at best.
Our goal when disciplining our children is to teach them to be responsible, cooperative, kind and respectful. The best way to teach this is to always remain consistent, follow through with the same punishment for the same misdeed, and to discuss the discipline with your child openly and honestly afterwards.
Always keep in mind that the age, maturity level, and temperament of your child should always be considered when enforcing a set disciplinary action. Disciplinary actions should be discussed and understood in advance so that children know what they have coming when they’ve misbehaved and can give pause and hopefully choose an appropriate route to avoid it. And most importantly, remember that it’s not the child you dislike; it’s his or her chosen behavior, action or misdeed.
If you need to, give yourself a brief ‘time out’ before responding with appropriate discipline. Sometimes we need a short cooling off period before dealing with our children’s misdeeds in order to avoid a misdeed of our own. Yelling and hitting should never be an option.
Keep an open mind as a parent, and be willing to learn with and from your child. We all make mistakes and it’s important to realize that not every form of discipline works with every child. Children are just as unique as adults are, and forms of discipline should be tailored to fit the individual needs of both parent and child. But with a little forethought, patience, firmness, love and understanding, the discipline can have a positive outcome for all involved.
Effective discipline does not involve physical punishment of children. Recent studies have shown a direct link between physical punishment and several negative developmental outcomes for children including physical injury, increased aggression, antisocial behavior, difficulty adjusting as an adult and a higher tolerance towards violence. Research has also shown that physical punishment poses a risk to the safety and development of children. It is crucial for parents to gain an awareness of other approaches to discipline because it is all too simple for physical punishment to turn into child abuse and result in severe physical injury, detrimental emotional damage and even death. Each year thousands of children continue to die as a result of physical abuse. Children have a right to be protected from physical abuse, and laws in every state demand severe punishment for those found guilty of physically harming a child.
Most parents do not want to use physical punishment as a form of discipline. A child that lives in an abusive environment is likely to grow up and either be abusive themselves or have severe social, emotional, physical and cognitive delays in development. Parents’ disciplinary methods serve as strong models to children that teach them how to deal with life’s day-to-day challenges. It is important for parents to model appropriate behavior and to establish expectations as well as limits. Children have a right to live in a safe, secure and nurturing environment, and their dignity must be respected. Parents must consistently use fair and logical consequences whenever children fail to follow rules. They must keep in mind that a child is not a miniature adult, but only a child and that discipline must be age appropriate and fit the child’s temperament and maturity.
Adults who recognize they have a problem with physically abusing their children should immediately seek professional help and ensure their children are taken to a safe environment to avoid harming them further.
We watch our children grow right before our very eyes. It seems like yesterday they were a baby learning to crawl, walk, and feed themselves, and now they’re in school, involved in activities, making friends, and learning to be more and more independent. Parents before us have said that from the time they’re born, we are constantly learning to let go. As a result, our parenting strategies have to change. As our child grows, develops, learns, and matures, so does our parenting role.
As your child has grown, you undoubtedly have discovered they have their own unique personality and temperament. You’ve probably unconsciously redeveloped your parenting skills around the individual needs of your child. And no two children are exactly alike, and therefore, neither should your parenting style. Some children may need more guidance and feel more unsure of themselves, so we’ve become used to having to guide, lead, show and encourage that child consistently through their childhood while still trying to encourage independence and give praise in order to build their self esteem and confidence level. Yet another child may be very intrinsically motivated and very willful and not need a great deal of guidance or leadership from you. While you encourage their independence, it’s also important that you also encourage their ability to ask for help when needed and continue to praise good deeds, actions, and traits.
The most important tools we have in order to successfully adjust our parenting skills are our eyes and our ears. We have to see what’s going on with our child and we have to hear what they are telling us. It’s important that we encourage our child to be their own individual while still being available to them at whatever level or degree they need us to be. Sometimes it’s situation-specific as well. A child may not need us to be as directly involved with their schooling to ensure their overall academic success, but they may need us to be more involved in their social life as they may be feeling a bit shaky or scared when it comes to making new friends or meeting new people.
So the bottom line is this: as your child grows and changes, so should your parenting skills. Keep your eyes and ears open and communicate honestly and openly with your child, and you’ll both mature gracefully.
We all know as parents that discussing and negotiating the rules with our children is never easy. Children are all very different, and what might need to be a rule for one, may not even be an issue for another. That being said, there are many parameters that we set as parents that are the hard and fast rules – those with no ‘wiggle room.’ Those are the rules set forth to protect our child’s health, safety and well-being. These rules and their consequences should be very clearly defined and it should be understood by all involved that they are there for a very important reason and that they are ‘all or nothing.’
Rules that keep our children safe are of the utmost importance. These could include everything from teaching youngsters not to touch the hot stove to teaching your school aged child the importance of obeying the laws while riding their bicycle. Children need to understand these rules are to be followed to the letter and there is no room for negotiation here.
For adolescents and teenagers, such rules should include expectations about drinking, the use of illegal drugs, or safe defensive driving. These rules are also imperative to a child’s health, well-being and safety. There should be no room for experimentation or relaxing the rules in specific social situations.
There are rules that can be fairly and equitably negotiated with your children as well. Rules regarding how many hours per week can be spent on video game playing, what time a child is expected home for dinner, what time each night homework is to be completed, or how late a teenager is allowed to stay out on weekend nights are all rules that can be discussed openly and honestly between you and your child. These should also be consistent, however. Don’t’ allow 11 p.m. one weekend night and then tell your teenager 9:30 the following weekend night when going out with the same group of friends. If your teenager broke the 11 p.m. curfew the weekend before, the consequence of losing the privilege of going out that weekend should be strictly enforced. Don’t bend the rule just because your teenager seems genuinely sorry and promises never to do it again. Consequences should be consistent, fair, and always followed through.
In today’s busy world, work, household chores and social activities all put a strain on your time with your child. But as you well know, it’s imperative that you spend quality time together. It helps strengthen the bond between parent and child, and lets your child know you can be trusted and counted on. Children who spend quality time with their parents often do better in school, and excel in extracurricular activities, hobbies or sports. And though it can be ‘scheduled’ to a degree, it’s something that happens when you least expect it. Therefore it’s important that you do spend as much time as possible with your child in a relaxed atmosphere and do things together that you both enjoy.
But you’re asking yourself, “Where am I going to find the time? My schedule’s crazy enough as it is!” Well, for something as important as your child, you need to start digging around in that crazy schedule and find the time. Prioritizing is the key.
Here’s some helpful suggestions on how to make the most of your time and find quality time where you least expect it.
Look at your household chore list and decide which ones can be left undone or be done imperfectly in order to make more family time. You might also want to consider leaving certain things until after your child has gone to bed to make the most of your time together.
Turn some of your everyday routines together count. Sing some favorite silly songs on the way to daycare, or make that drive to and from school a great opportunity to discuss what’s happening in your child’s life.
If you have more than one child, realize that each of them needs your individual attention. You may really have to juggle things around to make this happen, but try to be flexible and creative when spending time with each of your kids. And no matter what, don’t skip those individual times with each child. By doing so you show them they’re lower down on the priority list than the dry cleaning or the grocery shopping.
Children thrive on stability and routines, so plan your quality times so that they can take place regularly. Maybe you can walk the dog together on weekend morning, take a shopping excursion together, have a scheduled night each week for a sit-down dinner together, or make a trip to the park.
Everyone makes mistakes. Granted, some mistakes are more significant than others and harder to get over, but they are a part of life. How individuals deal with those mistakes is significant to their self-esteem. Children who are taught from an early age to admit to their mistakes understand that it’s not a crime to make one, and they seem to have the ability to cope much better with them. They recognize that a mistake was made and admit the error. Most importantly, these children also develop a strategy to change the mistake and not do the same thing again.
The process of making and learning from mistakes is an extremely valuable life skill for everyone because learning involves risking. Every time children risk, they will not always succeed. But they tried something new and most likely learned from it as a result.
Children with low self-esteem deal with making a mistake quite differently. More often than not, these children use the experience to devalue themselves. Instead of looking at the error as an opportunity to learn, these children interpret the experience as a reason to quit and never try again. They view it as a devaluing and humiliating experience.
You can help your child cope with mistakes by first making sure they understand that everyone makes mistakes, even you. Own up to your own mistakes to teach them there’s no shame in making them. Make sure they understand that it’s okay to make mistakes. This presents a great opportunity to tell your child what you’ve learned to do differently the next time. Then, offer strategies to turn mistakes into learning opportunities. In the process, you can provide your child with an opportunity to enhance their self-esteem and accept responsibility for the mistakes they make. Help your child to realize that the mistake is the problem, and not them. Then help them develop a positive plan for the next time around, and what they’ll do differently the next time to avoid making the same mistake again.