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Our Thoughts on Discipline — Stop YELLING!

7 Sep

I know, I know… it’s impossible isn’t it?  And no, we’re not yell-free at our house — we wish.  This article to me is more of a reminder of why we shouldn’t yell and I’ll sure as heck try to not yell – because funny thing is, I know it doesn’t work – yet it slips out anyways when the Ms. Hannigan in me rears her ugly head.  I remember a time when I was child-free looking at other parents yelling at the kids in the store/park/etc. and thinking “that is NOT going to be me”.  Well alas, just the other day at the library no less I found myself seeing my toddler try hopping down stairs while distractedly looking around and for some reason the yell just ripped out of me “STOP! What are you thinking?!?!” echoed through the silence – ugh.  Worse, since the toddler is a bit more rambunctious than my older child, I find myself yelling at her more than I ever did  her older sister… so what do you think happened?  My munchkin is more of a yeller :0/ – I’m not going to take all of the credit for this, but I’m certainly not faultless (waaaaaaah) – I see my hubs raising his voice in exasperation at well… BUT we are trying to change.

What we do believe in is modeling, we have to model behavior we want our children to have, there is no way around it (save for boarding school – haha).  We also aren’t aiming to be perfect parents by any means, you know where I categorize this?  Parenting as a way for me to become a better person, and being a better person means getting a hold of my temper and dealing with things in a more even-tempered way.  The truth is, what I realize now is that it is sometimes not the act itself that makes me yell but something else that isn’t even my child’s fault – like when I don’t get enough sleep the night before, or when I’m so busy with a million and one errands I need to get done.  But yelling doesn’t solve anything, and it certainly doesn’t make me feel better.  So goodbye yeller mom!  Hello zen mom with a cup of coffee in her hands 😉

10 Ways to Stop Yelling

overwhelmed parent

Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. Sometimes all it takes is a moment to cool down.

You told your child to pick up all his toys and get ready for bed. Five minutes later when you check in, the toy cars are still all over. You feel your blood start to boil. You’re on the verge of losing it. Turn around, close your eyes, and breathe. Take a moment to collect yourself — and your emotions. Michelle LaRowe, author of A Mom’s Ultimate Book of Lists, says, “Take a time-out. If you’re worked up, you’re only going to work up your child. Before addressing your child, take a deep breath and think through what you’re going to say, calmly.”

child jumping on couch
Address the Behavior

We all have good kids; sometimes their behavior just stinks.

When you’re teaching your children to ride their bikes, do you punish them when they don’t get it the first try? Of course not. You encourage them, support them, and give them guidance. Rex Forehand, Ph.D., author of Parenting the Strong-Willed Child: The Third Edition, with Nicholas Long, Ph.D., says that disciplining your children should be the same way. “When we think about teaching our children, we usually go about it in positive ways, that is except for behavior,” Dr. Forehand says. “For some reason we think that punishment should be our teaching tool.” It doesn’t need to be. When your child hits another child during a playdate, it’s easy to react with yelling, “Stop! Don’t do that!” Instead, Dr. Forehand suggests focusing on addressing the specific behavior and taking the opportunity to patiently teach your child why hitting is wrong.

mother talking to child
Mean Business Without Being Mean

Instead of yelling, use a firm, but soft, I-mean-business tone when giving behavior directions.

Direction that makes the most impact on a child is actually one that is stern and even somewhat gentle, says LaRowe. “When you speak in a calm but firm soft voice, children have to work to listen — and they most always do. The calmer and softer you speak, the more impact your words will have,” she says. Not only will your child most likely grasp your instructions faster, you won’t have to lose your voice trying to convey it.

mother talking to child
Help Your Child Explain Feelings

Before you lose your cool because your child has misbehaved, figure out what is causing the behavior.

One of the biggest reasons toddlers misbehave is they simply haven’t learned an alternative approach to displaying their feelings. “Our goal as parents should be to teach our children how to effectively express themselves by validating their feelings without validating their behavior,” LaRowe says. Next time Tommy pushes a friend who just knocked over his blocks, stray away from the tempting ridicule of yelling “No! Don’t do that!” LaRowe suggests instead explaining why the action is bad. “Tommy, I understand you are mad that your friend knocked over your blocks. It’s okay to be mad, but when you are mad you tell your friend ‘I’m mad;’ you don’t push.”

toddler in timeout
Have Clear Rules & Follow Through

Not carrying out your threats will result in them testing you — and you getting angry.

“Jenna, please turn off the TV.” Five minutes later, Jenna is still watching TV. “Jenna, I mean it, turn off the TV or you will sit in time-out.” Five minutes later, Jenna is still watching TV. “Jenna, I mean it …” Empty threats and nagging won’t work on your children, and eventually they will call your bluff. And when they do, it’s likely parents will find themselves frustrated and yelling. But this is easy to avoid. Have clear rules. When you state a consequence, follow through.

mother talking to her child
Give Praise for Okay Behavior

Parents praise their children for good behavior, and scold for the bad, but what about the in-between?

Children love getting attention from their parents, sometimes even if it’s bad. “Parents tend to give attention to their child either by praising them for good behavior or punishing them for bad behavior. And at times a child will take either or,” says Dr. Long, who advises to ignore your children when they are acting badly, such as whining to get attention. “If you yell at them, you are still giving them the interest they wanted, and therefore they will continue to use negative behavior to get a reaction from you,” Dr. Long says. If you praise behavior, even when it is just okay, then your child will be more likely to repeat it because of the way you took notice.

child hugging mother
A Strong Bond Makes Discipline Easier

The stronger your relationship is with your child, the stronger your discipline will hold.

At this age your child wants to be close to you. Take advantage of it and reaffirm your bond with your child. Not only will it strengthen the relationship between parent and child, but your child will then have a greater respect for you. According to Parenting the Strong-Willed Child: The Third Edition, the closer you are to your child, the less likely your child is to act up, even though no child is perfect. “A child who has a strong relationship with a parent is more prone to accept the discipline offered by a parent,” Dr. Long says.

toddler discipline

Are you hurt when someone yells at you? Of course; so why wouldn’t your child be?

“Our goal as parents should be to teach our children and to build them up, not to tear them down. When we yell at our children we risk damaging their self-esteem and sense of self-worth,” LaRowe says. Consider how you’d feel if your boss yelled at you. You’d likely be embarrassed and hurt. LaRowe points out that often you don’t have a chance to process what your boss is saying because of how it was said. The same goes for your child. You want to be able to teach him what is acceptable and what is not without making him feel shame or embarrassment.

mom putting toddler to bed
Good Eating & Sleeping Habits

Healthy children are the happiest children.

Parents underestimate the power of what a well-balanced diet and a good sleeping schedule can do for a child’s behavior. If you think about it, what are two of the major underlying problems that cause toddlers to act up? Hunger and fatigue. Well-rested, well-nourished children who are on predictable schedules tend to have fewer behavioral issues. On the flip side, the better your sleeping and eating habits are as a parent, the more likely you are to keep your cool longer — and catch yourself before you start yelling.

Stop Sibling Squabbles
We’re Not Perfect

No matter how hard we try, sometimes we will slip up and yell. And that’s okay, as long as we know how to make it right.

Your child has been driving you up the wall all day. You have tried to keep your cool and follow all the steps, and yet you still feel your temper escalating. And then, one small mishap from your child, and you lose it. You raise your voice, and there’s no taking it back now. Dr. Forehand and Dr. Long suggest talking to your children when you’ve calmed down after yelling. “It’s important to explain that Mommy or Daddy didn’t mean to raise their voice, and that they didn’t mean to get mad,” Dr. Forehand says. “Explain to them that it frustrates Mommy or Daddy when they don’t listen, and ask them to do better, and that you will, too.”

Copyright 2010 Meredith Corporation.


http://www.parents.comBringing together the power of respected magazine brands including American Baby and Parents, the Parents Network is your go-to destination for parenting information. From first kicks to first steps and on to the first day of school, we are here to help you celebrate the joys and navigate the challenges of parenthood.

3 Golden Rules for Good Behavior

23 Jun

I would like to think that my kids exhibit good behavior – at least most of the time 😉 = this article has a couple of things that we already practice that works really well – especially when you have toddlers.  My favorite, and I did this with both daughters – was letting them feel in control sometimes.  It is not as hard as it sounds and it is not about spoiling them or letting them ‘get their way’ – it is really about handing them the reigns (within limits of course) and this is better done one on one with a child – so I would do it mostly when I only have one child with me.  For example, at a park I would tell her to go where she wants and ‘mommy will follow’ — by follow I don’t mean disappearing or walking far from them – it just means literally letting them go where they want even if we’re holding hands – I have to admit I have the most fun when we do this – I don’t feel the need to ‘suggest’ what is next – she literally points and I go – we’ve explored bridges, picked up rocks, ride on the swings (for what felt like hours) — funny thing is, you would think that after two hours or more of calling the shots they would get all pumped up with toddler power…but on the contrary, I find their mood to get so much mellower and that they actually take ‘suggestions’ so much better after it.  I think it is common sense really – wouldn’t you get crabby as hell if you had someone tell you what to do ALL DAY?  I know I do/would 🙂

For my 6-year-old, I do a modified version of this in airports – I tell her we have – say 30 minutes or an hour before boarding and we can walk anywhere she likes but she has to find our gate.  She studies the airport maps, follow the signs for gate numbers, we go window shopping, she runs around a bit – and she LOVES it.

The singing the author of the article below mentions also reminds me of how we manage to lighten tense moments, I know this sounds weird but sometimes we (or I) sing what I would be nagging about!  It works like a charm most of the time – it is funny and it changes things up a bit – gets particularly interesting when the kids sing their reply back, like Glee – the off-key family edition 🙂

I think its unrealistic to expect perfection or constant good behavior from any child.  God knows I’m barely keeping it together as an adult!  BUT there is a line between letting your kids experiment with different behaviors and hopefully coaxing them into picking the right ones.

3 Golden Rules for Great Behavior

We cut to the chase and tell you what you really need to know to have a well-behaved kid.

By Nancy Rones


Sometimes desperation is the mother of invention. At least it was for me when I finally figured out how to get my son to stop his terrifying habit of bolting from the safety of my clutches in the parking lot. Our struggles had been epic: I’d reach for his hand, his shoulder — or even his jacket hood. And he’d wriggle free and run ahead like a fugitive; the chase would end with a semi-hysterical mom (that would be me) half carrying a crying, squirmy boy. Harrowing, to say the least.

Then I had a moment of clarity about how to make hand-holding more agreeable: Channeling The Black Eyed Peas, I’d sing, “I gotta feeling… that today you’re gonna hold my hand…,” while grabbing his little fingers and swinging them to the beat. Corny even by my low standards, but hey, it worked. Cranking up the silliness factor to avoid a battle of wills is one trick. But with so much advice out there, your toddler could be a tween before you’ve sorted through it all. There is, however, something of a secret: Although there’s no playbook, most experts stand behind these three rock-solid discipline rules.

 1.  Stay Calm!

Guide your child toward better behavior using direct language and an even tone of voice. “Little kids, especially those under 6, are still learning how to listen and interpret the meaning behind your words,” says Kathleen Cranley Gallagher, Ph.D., director of the Family and Childcare Program at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. So focus on making your point clearly. “Crouch down to your child’s eye level and use short statements,” says Dr. Gallagher.

If your toddler has just torn her brand-new The Very Hungry Caterpillar pop-up, say something like: “Gentle hands with books.” It’s much easier for her to understand what you expect when you tell her what you want her to do — as opposed to what you don’t want (“We never rip pages of books”), explains Dr. Gallagher.

If you’re feeling a little too fired up to play the role of Mellow Mom, silently count to ten or take a few deep breaths before diving in. It can also help you chill if you remind yourself that most bad behavior isn’t born from disrespect. “Kids are supposed to test boundaries — that’s how they learn,” says Parents advisor Jenn Berman, Psy.D., author ofSuperBaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Child a Head Start in the First 3 Years. There are many reasons why your daughter may have taken all the clothes out of her drawers or that your son decided to use a permanent marker to draw on his younger brother. “Children get lost in the moment of what they’re doing; what’s motivating them isn’t usually a desire to make you angry,” says Dr. Berman. “Taking it personally will make it harder for you to be calm.”

There’s no need to get all fake nice and completely hide your frustration. You’ll be delivering a mixed message if there’s too much disconnect between your affect and your words. But yelling doesn’t work either. An intense tone could scare your kid and prevent her from hearing what you’re saying. “When you’re screaming, your child has to untangle the emotion from your words, which makes it that much harder for her to absorb what you’re trying to say,” says Dr. Gallagher. Also, kids (like all of us) become desensitized to yelling; if you’re able to keep your angry voice to a minimum, your child will pay attention when you truly need it — for example, to stop her from running into the street or knocking over a hot drink.

2.  Set Limits

Having a few basic rules and being prepared to follow through with consequences if one is broken is the way to teach your child how to handle the frustration of not always getting what he wants — as well as teaching him to take responsibility for his actions. “Your kid might not always be happy about a specific edict, but knowing that there are lines that he can’t cross will help him feel loved — and motivated to cooperate,” says Dr. Berman.

The key is to be both fair and age-appropriate. “Your first priority should be setting limits that relate to health, safety, and basic respect,” says Dr. Gallagher. That means things like always being buckled into the car seat no matter how short the ride and using an inside voice while his baby brother is napping are nonnegotiable. Be choosy about the other “nos.” It might be nice to have a 4-year-old who says “excuse me” before he interrupts your conversation, but excessive regulations will make the key ones harder to enforce.

When your child breaks the rules, consequences provide an opportunity for him to learn the right behavior — and some self-sufficiency along the way. No matter how old your child is, a consequence should be immediate (don’t cancel a playdate that’s three days into the future), related to the “crime” (if he keeps throwing Legos he can’t play with them anymore today), and consistent (every time your kid forgets to wash his hands he has to put down his sandwich and go to the sink — no matter how hungry he is). Once you’ve established your zero-tolerance policies, you may need to add other bad, irritating, or rude behavior to your list, but don’t do it in the moment. Take 24 hours to think through your commitment to regularly and effectively enforce your limits. The more thought and effort you’re willing to expend on a rule, the more likely your child will be to follow it.

3.  Encourage CooperationCreating an easygoing vibe, where rules don’t feel hard for your child to follow, can prevent a lot of bad behavior. “When my kids go wild around bedtime, I’ll ask, ‘Do you want to act really silly for two minutes or three?’ Just recasting a directive as an option creates less resistance,” says Wendy Petricoff, a parenting coach in Charlotte, North Carolina.So create options wherever you can: Will it be the purple skirt or the blue dress for school? An apple versus a banana at snacktime, or when it’s time to leave the playground should we skip or hop our way out? Even if offering choices makes the going a little slower, your child will feel like his opinion matters, and it will help smooth the way when you can’t give him options. “Young kids are in a constant struggle between being dependent and wanting autonomy,'” says Dr. Berman. “So try to find ways to help your child feel more powerful by allowing her to have some sense of control.”When you do anticipate pushback, go for the laugh — putting a diaper on your head can go a long way toward getting a defiant toddler to stay still for changing time. And don’t forget to reward the good, cooperative, cheerful attitude you’ve worked so hard to cultivate. Make sure you offer lots of positive attention and hugs when your child remembers to pick up his toys, pats the baby gently, or beats you to the front door when it’s time to leave the house. It’s all about setting your kid up for success, so everybody wins.Originally published in the June 2011 issue of Parents magazine.Related Features:


http://www.parents.comBringing together the power of respected magazine brands including American Baby and Parents, the Parents Network is your go-to destination for parenting information. From first kicks to first steps and on to the first day of school, we are here to help you celebrate the joys and navigate the challenges of parenthood.

12 EASY Time Savers!

4 Jun

I always thought that when I quit my job I’d have oceans of time open up in front of me like Moses and the Nile.  HA…There never seems to be enough time!  I like what this Parenting.Com article says — in short, organize, you can’t do everything, and don’t be so hard on yourself 🙂  Reminders most of us moms/parents need — I’ve started realizing that time is also a way of thinking – do you let time manage you or do you manage your time?  

When I feel like I’ve been herding my family all day, I take a one minute breathing break and make time ‘stop’ – and that really helps – I make time stop by becoming hyper aware of things around me – I take a deep breath – try figuring out the birds chirping, the leaves rustling, I look around and take mental ‘pictures’ of my surroundings – funny – someone gave me this suggestion when it came to my wedding – she was saying how fast it goes by and needing to stop time by pausing and looking around soaking everything in – and that is what I do once in a while now!

I know this post is supposed to be time savers – but I look at this two ways – doing things more efficiently by saving time, but also savoring what time you have so it matters.  With my kids growing like weeds, I know this time is fleeting (sob) so I try spending the time enjoying it rather than stressing about rushing towards something else or by heaping more expectations on myself – i.e. how I spent a couple of hours cutting and glueing felt so that my daughter would have her name on skewers that I would then place into the fruit salad as a centerpiece for her birthday celebration in school…and we ended up not using them (eye roll) – the kids were so busy rushing towards the food it didn’t matter.  Ugh, we all throw away time in more ways than one…

12 Ways to Stop Throwing Away Time

Forget Fashion Whims

Avoid the whole trying-to-pick-out-the-perfect-outfit morning madness. At the beginning of the week, founder Kimberly Danger sorts out seven outfits with her kids and puts each one together in a sweater rack or shoe cubby. This saves time in the morning and also short-circuits potential arguments about what to wear.

Buy Gifts When You See Them

Don’t run to the store every time your child gets a birthday-party invite. Instead, stock up on one-size-fits-all kid presents whenever you spot a sale. Keep your treasures on a designated closet shelf so there’s always something you can pull out, wrap, and give.

person watching TV holding TV remove
Watch Only the Good Stuff on TV

There’s no reason to sit through commercials — record your favorite shows, then fast-forward through the ads. If you must watch television in real time, hit the mute button and, during the breaks, sort the mail or catch up on magazines.

cookie dough
Stop Competing with Martha

Who says the cookies you send in for the preschool bake sale need to be from scratch? There’s a reason grocery stores sell refrigerated dough. And when you are baking, don’t underestimate the power of aluminum foil. You can line any baking dish or cookie sheet with it, and then you don’t have the hassle of scrubbing pans.

desk items
Stay Organized

Touch mail no more than twice. Don’t let paper pile up on the kitchen counter — put all the flyers and catalogs you know you’re never going to look at in the recycling bin; as you receive monthly bills, throw away the outer envelopes and place the bills in a to-be-paid folder. Same goes for e-mail: Answer it immediately, then delete.

Don’t Be a Short-Order Cook

Forget asking your kids what they want to eat. As they’re debating ham and cheese versus PB&J, you could have already packed the lunchbox and sent them out the door. As for dinner, don’t even think about making different foods for each member of the family. Kids can eat what the grown-ups are served. Or fix a bowl of cereal.

teenager vacuuming
Ask the Babysitter to Pitch In

As long as you’re paying the teenager down the street, ask her if she’ll fold some laundry or straighten the toy shelves while she watches TV after the kids are asleep.

Join the Car Pool

Sure, it’s tough to entrust your child to someone else’s minivan. But if you don’t share the driving with friends, you’ll end up living in your vehicle as you ferry your child to school and sports and other activities. (And think of the money you’ll save on gas.)

Be Smart About Comparison Shopping

Sure, every penny counts, but when you’re running from store to store to get the best price on a sack of potatoes, the gas alone isn’t worth it. Save money the old-fashioned way — clip coupons and make just one trip.

mother and daughter folding laundry
Get the Kids to Help with Laundry

Even a 3-year-old can master a simple sorting system. Set up a couple of baskets — one for whites, another for colors — in his room. Also, teach kids that clothes can usually be worn more than once before they need to be washed. This doesn’t dawn on most of them until they go away to college and start doing their own laundry.

Stack of labeled containers
Plan for Leftovers

If you’re spending the time to whip up dinner, double or triple the recipe and freeze it. You get two or three meals for the same time it took you to make one.

Don’t Be a Slave to the Changing Table

It seemed so necessary when you bought it, but that changing table isn’t the only place you can do diaper duty. Keep a few clean diapers and changing pads stashed throughout your house to save you from running back and forth to the nursery.

Originally published in the November 2008 issue of Parents magazine.



http://www.parents.comBringing together the power of respected magazine brands including American Baby and Parents, the Parents Network is your go-to destination for parenting information. From first kicks to first steps and on to the first day of school, we are here to help you celebrate the joys and navigate the challenges of parenthood.

Building a Child’s Independence Part 4 – At Play

22 May

Isn’t it funny that on one hand parents are trying their best to spend more time with their kids (and rightly so), yet on the other hand we also try to encourage kids to learn how to do things independently and ‘by themselves’?  As a SAHM, it has always been a strange balance for me – I have to admit – there are just times when doing things for them is just SO MUCH EASIER – and there are times when I would give an eye or a tooth for the kids to PLAY ALONE for a while.  Sometimes wishing and making my kids play alone does bring out feelings of guilt :o( such as – why can’t I morph into Mary Poppins, sing songs, do educational games and teach them Singapore math all day long?!??  Isn’t that why I opted to become a stay at home mom?!?!  Anyway, I didn’t set out to write this post to air my (many) psychosis.  In time I realized (1) There is a difference between encouraging independent play and neglect, and (2) The kids actually thrive and enjoy being able to play on their own, if they are given ways and means to do so.

Independent Play vs. Neglect (or in other words ‘Let me ignore you till you figure out how to play by yourself’) 

Another aha moment for me – was when I realized that in some ways encouraging independent play actually requires more work and actual guidance and planning on the part of the parent.  Yes, I’ve read those articles about setting toys on the ground and slowly walking away – but honestly although that is fine and dandy, my kids aren’t wired to sit with a pile of toys and be alone – that method just wasn’t engaging enough.  If anything, I think they started associating piles of toys = mommy walking away = not good!  By experience I’ve also realized that independent play times varies by age – I’m not going to get hours of alone time – one activity for a  2 year-old might mean a good 5 minutes to at best 20 minutes – this really helped me with my level of expectations.

By the way, in my opinion, TV is not independent play, even if princess or junior can turn on the TV and work the 5 remotes and set up the surround sound themselves.  I’m not saying absolutely no TV – we are a moderate TV watching family ourselves – I’m just saying that it doesn’t count ;o).  That is what I mean by it is not that simple, the way I see it, my kids day are divided into segments and not every minute will be independent play, just like not every minute should be one of anything, but rather a balance of multiple things.  Here is my definition of productive independent play –

  1.  Children can make decisions themselves on what they want to do.
  2.  Interesting activities or projects they can do themselves.  Variety (but not overwhelming variety) and simplicity.  For young ones it will be more motor skill related and as they get older it becomes more experimental or learning based.
  3. They should also be able to ‘undo’ or clean-up the activity and return it for the next play time.
  4.  Although I said that we shouldn’t expect kids to spend hours on an activity by themselves, if they DO want to spend a LOT of time on one  – encourage it!  Do not stop their focus just to have them start another activity.  Kids can have an insatiable appetite for a particular activity/toy and when their desire is filled, they will move on to the next thing :-).
  5. Nothing that requires electronics or batteries.

Enabling Independent Play

What I’ve started doing is trying to mimic the Montessori or pre-school ‘tray’ system for my toddler and it has worked like a charm!  She is so much happier (and so am I).  There are tons of blogs out there with hundreds of ideas for ‘toddler trays’  – don’t get overwhelmed just start with 1 to 3.  My biggest suggestion which I learned from my older daughter’s wonderful pre-school Montessori guide is not to just hand the child the tray or project.  You must start every new tray with a ‘lesson’ – that means setting it up and showing her/him how to use it (you model it yourself – ‘pick up the tray,’ etc.)  – emphasize that your child just ‘watch’ you go from taking it out all the way to clean-up and putting it back.  It’s not easy for my toddler to control herself, but it is cute to see her try and watch :o).

For older kids – it’s all about (unfortunately) organization and access.  An area for books, with a place to read, a shelf of neatly arranged toys (this is where toy rotation comes in).  A craft or art area (doesn’t have to be elaborate) – my oldest LOVES TV but I find that we almost never struggle with regulating her TV since there is just so much other stuff she would like to do on her own – reading, writing, playing with her dolls etc.

Just like everything else in child rearing, it is a day-by-day learning experience for all of us ;o) and remember, each child is different and family dynamics is also constantly changing.  I think part of building independence over-all is giving our children space to grow and allowing them to learn how to learn on their own (and in their own way).

Related Links:

How to Encourage Independent Play 
Toddler Tray Activities 

Our Thoughts on Discipline – Techniques to Tame Your Kid’s Tantrums

17 May

I guess we’re sort of lucky – both our kids (or at least more of our oldest one) – tended not to throw tantrums – I have to admit in our case it might be a mixture of genetics and attachment parenting.  When either child would start acting up I would wear them (in a baby/child carrier) and that would pretty much nip it in the bud – I swear my youngest is more temperamental because she’s bigger than her sister was at her age so I tend to shy away from carrying her all the time :0/ .  There are times with my toddler that things do seem to get out of hand real quick especially when I don’t understand her.  There is always a fine line between ‘giving in’ and responding positively to her needs being a stay at home mom – I really can’t tolerate growing levels of whining which tend to end in tantrums – because that would then take up most of my time – and with no ‘break’ away from my child I can’t exactly ‘leave’ to cool down myself – so I go out of my way to avoid a tantrum.  Before children, I never understood why parents were so anal about naps — well now I know.  It really IS important – having a schedule, making sure kids (and parents) are rested and having activities where the kids can expend energy are all very important.

10 Ways to Tame Your Kid’s Tantrums

preschooler hrowing fit

When your kid’s in the middle of a tantrum, it can be tough to keep yourself from having your own meltdown, too.
“Meltdowns are terrible, nasty things, but they’re a fact of childhood,” says Ray Levy, PhD, a Dallas-based clinical psychologist and co-author of Try and Make Me! Simple Strategies That Turn Off the Tantrums and Create Cooperation. “Young kids — namely those between the ages of 1 and 4 — haven’t developed good coping skills yet. They tend to just lose it instead.” And what, exactly, sets them off to begin with? Every single tantrum, Levy says, results from one simple thing: not getting what they want. “For children between 1 and 2, tantrums often stem from trying to communicate a need — more milk, a diaper change, that toy over there — but not having the language skills to do it,” says Levy. “They get frustrated when you don’t respond to what they’re ‘saying’ and throw a fit.” For older toddlers, tantrums are more of a power struggle. “By the time kids are 3 or 4, they have grown more autonomous,” Levy adds. “They’re keenly aware of their needs and desires — and want to assert them more. If you don’t comply? Tantrum city.”
So how can you stop these outbursts? What follows are 10 freak-out fixes that both parenting experts and other moms swear by.

toddler crying
Ignore the Kid

The reason this works is fascinating: “During a tantrum, your child is literally out of his mind. His emotions take over — overriding the frontal cortex of the brain, the area that makes decisions and judgments,” says Jay Hoecker, MD, a Rochester, Minnesota, pediatrician. “That’s why reasoning doesn’t help — the reasoning part of his brain isn’t working.” Says Alan Kazdin, PhD, author of The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child, “Once you’re in a situation where someone’s drowning, you can’t teach them to swim — and it’s the same with tantrums. There’s nothing to do in the moment that will make things better. In fact, almost anything you try will make it worse. Once he chills out, then you can talk.”

toddler crying
Give Your Child Some Space

“Sometimes a kid just needs to get his anger out. So let him!” says Linda Pearson, a nurse practitioner and author ofThe Discipline Miracle. (Just make sure there’s nothing in tantrum’s way that could hurt him.) “I’m a big believer in this approach because it helps children learn how to vent in a nondestructive way. They’re able to get their feelings out, pull themselves together, and regain self-control — without engaging in a yelling match or battle of wills with you.” This trick can work on its own or in tandem with the whole ignoring bit.

girl with cookie jar
Create a Diversion

This is all about a deft mental switcheroo — getting your kid engaged and interested in something else so she forgets about the meltdown she was just having. “My purse is filled with all sorts of distractions, like toys — ones my kids haven’t seen in a while, books, and yummy snacks,” says Alisa Fitzgerald, a mom of two from Boxford, Massachusetts. Whenever a tantrum happens, she busts ’em out, one at a time, until something gets the kids’ attention. “I’ve also found that distraction can help ward off a major meltdown before it happens, if you catch it in time,” she adds. If your kid is about to go off the deep end at the supermarket because you won’t buy the super-frosted sugar-bomb cereal, try quickly switching gears and enthusiastically saying something like, “Hey, we need some ice cream. Want to help me pick a flavor?” or “Ooh, check out the lobster tank over there!” Explains Levy: “Children have pretty short attention spans — which means they’re usually easy to divert. And it always helps if you sound really, really psyched when you do it. It gets their mind off the meltdown and on to the next thing that much faster.” Fitzgerald agrees: “You have to channel your inner actress and be an entertainer — one with props!”

Find Out What’s Really Frustrating Your Kid

This trick is for tantrums among the under-2-and-a-half set, says Dr. Hoecker. “Children this age usually have a vocabulary of only about 50 words and can’t link more than two together at a time. Their communication is limited, yet they have all these thoughts and wishes and needs to be met. When you don’t get the message or misunderstand, they freak out to release their frustration.” One solution, he says: sign language. Teaching your child how to sign a few key words — such as more, food, milk, and tired — can work wonders.
Another approach is to empathize with your kid, which helps take some of the edge off the tantrum, and then play detective. “My 22-month-old throws tantrums that can last up to — yikes! — 20 minutes,” says Melanie Pelosi, a mom of three from West Windsor, New Jersey. “We’ve taught her some words in sign language, but if she wants something like a movie, she won’t know how to ask for it — and still freaks out. So I say, ‘Show me what you want,’ and then I see if she’ll point to it. It’s not always obvious, but with a little time and practice you begin to communicate better. If she points to her older brother, for example, that usually means that he’s snatched something away from her, and I can ask him to give it back. I can’t tell you how many awful, drawn-out meltdowns we’ve avoided this way!”

big hug

“This may feel like the last thing you want to do when your kid is freaking out, but it really can help her settle down,” Levy says. “I’m talking about a big, firm hug, not a supercuddly one. And don’t say a word when you do it — again, you’d just be entering into a futile battle of wills. Hugs make kids feel secure and let them know that you care about them, even if you don’t agree with their behavior.” Cartwright Holecko, of Neenah, Wisconsin, finds that it helps: “Sometimes I think they just need a safe place to get their emotions out.”

toddler sleeping
Offer Food or Suggest a Little R&R

“Being tired and hungry are the two biggest tantrum triggers,” says Levy. Physically, the kid is already on the brink, so it won’t take much emotionally to send him over. “Parents often come to me wondering why their child is having daily meltdowns. And it turns out they’re happening around the same time each day — before lunch or naptime and in the early evening. It’s no coincidence! My advice: feed them, water them, and let them veg — whether that means putting them to bed or letting them watch a little TV.” Think how cranky you get when you miss out on sleep or your blood sugar hits rock bottom, he says. With young kids, who have greater sleep and food needs, the effect is magnified tenfold.

child holding ice cream bar
Give Your Kid Incentive to Behave

Certain situations are trying for kids. Maybe it’s sitting through a long meal at a restaurant or staying quiet in church. Whatever the hissy hot button, this is the trick: “It’s about recognizing when you’re asking a lot of your child and offering him a little preemptive bribe,” Pearson says. “While you’re on your way to the restaurant, for example, tell him, ‘Alex, Mommy is asking you to sit and eat your dinner nicely tonight. I really think you can do it! And if you can behave, then when we get home I’ll let you watch a video.'” For the record, Pearson says this kind of bribery is perfectly fine, as long as it’s done on your terms and ahead of time — not under duress in the middle of a tantrum. If your kid starts to lose it at any point, gently remind him about the “treat” you discussed. “It’s amazing how this can instantly whip them back into shape,” says Pearson.

Speak Calmly

This is a biggie — and is much easier said than done. But experts insist you must keep your cool during a child’s tantrum. “Otherwise, you’ll get into a power struggle and make the whole thing escalate. Plus, part of the reason kids resort to tantrums is to get attention,” Dr. Hoecker says. “They don’t care if it’s positive or negative attention they’re getting. All they care about is that you’re giving them 100 percent of it.” Levy agrees, and adds: “Talking in a soothing voice shows your child that you’re not going to let her behavior get to you. It also helps you stay relaxed — when what you really want to do is yell right back. In fact, the calm tone is as much for the parent as the child! If you’re tense, your kid will pick up on it, and it’s going to amp her up even more.”

crying girl with mom
Laugh It Off

Every parent dreads public tantrums, for obvious reasons. You worry other parents will think you’re a bad mom — that you’ve raised an out-of-control demon child. But that, says Kazdin, can tempt you to make choices that will only lead to more fits. “Kids, even very young ones, are smart,” he says. “If you get angry or stressed or cave in and let him get his way just to end the meltdown before more people start staring, he’ll learn that — aha! — it works.” Your best bet, Kazdin says, is to suck it up, plaster a little Mona Lisa smile on your face, and pretend everything is just peachy. And what are others thinking? “We know from studies that the only thing people judge is your reaction to the meltdown,” says Levy. “If you look calm and like you’ve got it under control — yes, even though you’re not doing anything to stop the fit — they think, Now that’s a good mom.”

holding child
Get Out of There

Getting kids away from the scene of the tantrum can snap them out of it. “It’s also a great strategy when you’re out and about,” says Levy. “If your child starts melting down over a toy or candy bar he wants, pick him up and take him either to a different area of the store or outside until he calms down. Changing the venue really can change the behavior.”
Originally published in the October 2008 issue of American Baby magazine.


http://www.parents.comBringing together the power of respected magazine brands including American Baby and Parents, the Parents Network is your go-to destination for parenting information. From first kicks to first steps and on to the first day of school, we are here to help you celebrate the joys and navigate the challenges of parenthood.

How to Deal with and Prevent Disruptive Behavior with Your Kid(s)

10 May

This article really resonated with me.  My wife and I spend a lot of time thinking through how we deal with our kids, and how we enable them to exhibit the behaviors or characteristics that we think will make them well-rounded (hopefully) human beings.  What really strikes me with this piece is that at least it admits that it DOES take a lot of work — from adjusting the environment (we do this for our daughter’s violin ‘area’ – a designated place where all her materials are neatly arranged), to setting expectations and dealing with consequences appropriately.  THIS is why I scoff at people who are advocates of corporal punishment or as they sometimes call it ‘just spanking’ — if only things were that simple!  In reality we build the framework for which our kids will grow — its like saying all a plant needs to grow is some minimal care and yelling at it to “GROW!!!!NOW!!!!” once in a while.  Personally we can vouch for the “When, Then…” statements — it worked magically for our kids – simple, short and to the point – this was one of the first invaluable tips our older daughter’s Montessori Guide suggested and we still go back to it — when you start reflecting on what you say to your kids, you’ll be surprised at how WORDY you can get when in actuality the simpler (& shorter) the better, especially the younger your kids are.  I know at the end of the day there are a lot of factors that shape a child’s behavior and this article is a good overview of where to start.  Have you used any of the tips in this article?

Dealing With Disruptive Behavior

Experts from the Child Mind Institute share the techniques they use with kids in behavioral therapy — so you can use them at home to improve your own child’s behavior.

One of the biggest challenges parents face is managing their children’s difficult or defiant behavior. Whether children are refusing to put on their shoes, ignoring instructions to turn off a video game, shoving a sibling, or throwing a full-blown tantrum, you can find yourself at a loss for an effective way to respond.

In behavioral therapy, psychologists or psychiatrists help parents maximize the kind of behavior they want to encourage, and minimize the kind they’d like to see less of. There are well-tested techniques that help parents become more confident, calm, consistent, and successful when they interact with their children. These techniques also help children develop the skills they need to regulate their own behavior and have happier relationships with their families, teachers, and friends.

Here are the basics of a good behavioral management plan that you can use at home.

Define BehaviorsThe first step is to identify the target behaviors that you either want to encourage or discourage. These behaviors should be specific, observable, and measurable (so everyone can agree whether or not the behavior happened). An example of poorly defined behavior is “being good” or “acting up.” A well-defined behavior would be “grabbing another child’s toy” or “sitting nicely at the dinner table.”

Set the StageOnce you’ve targeted behaviors you want to see more or less of, you should focus on the antecedents, or the preceding factors that make the behaviors more or less likely to occur. These are ways to increase the likelihood of positive behavior and decrease the likelihood of negative behavior.

Adjust the environment. For a homework session, for instance, remove distractions like video screens and toys, provide a snack if your child is hungry, and schedule breaks to help him stay alert.

Make expectations clear. You’ll get better cooperation if you think clearly about what you are expecting, and tell your child with words. For example, explain that bedtime is at 8:00 on school nights. It starts with putting on pajamas, brushing teeth, using the bathroom, and a half hour of reading together in bed before lights out. It’s even more helpful to write expectations out and hang them up (using pictures if your child can’t read yet).

Countdown to transitions. Whenever possible, prepare your child for an upcoming transition. Let her know when there are 10 minutes remaining before she must come to dinner or start cleaning up. Then remind her when there are two minutes left. Be sure that you actually make the transition at the stated time.

Give a choice when possible. Providing two options is a good way to set up structure while empowering your child to have a say. You might ask, “Do you want to take a shower before dinner or after?” or “Do you want to turn off the TV or should I?” The key is that the choice should be presented calmly and politely.

Use “when, then” statements. These are a useful tool that offers a clear expectation as well as a reward for cooperating. For example: “When you complete your homework, then you will get to play on the iPad.” Make sure you present the “when, then” calmly and limit how often you repeat yourself.

Give Instructions EffectivelyPsychologists help parents choose pick the right words to get the results they want.

Use statements, not questions. “Please take out your math worksheet” or “Please sit down” is better than “Are you ready to get out your homework?”

Tell your child what to do instead of what not to do. If he’s jumping on the couch, you want to say, “Please get down from the couch” instead of “Please stop jumping.”

Be clear and specific. Instead of “Go ahead,” say, “Please go start your reading assignment.” Instead of “Settle down,” say, “Please use your inside voice.”

Give instructions calmly and respectfully. This helps your child learn to be polite when speaking to others. She’ll also learn to listen to calm instructions instead of listening only when you shout instructions or her name several times.

Say it once. After you give an instruction, wait a few seconds, rather than repeating what you said. Your child will learn to listen to instructions the first time, rather than assuming you’ll say them again.

Choose the Right ConsequencesA great deal of managing misbehavior is focused on preventing it, but the second important piece is responding properly to it. Let’s look at consequences that don’t have the desired effect — encouraging positive behaviors and discouraging negative ones — and then at some that do.

Ineffective ConsequencesNegative attention. Children value attention from the important adults in their life so much that any attention — positive or negative — is better than none. Reacting emotionally to your child’s misbehavior — “Don’t speak to me like that!” — will actually increase the behavior over time. Criticizing him in this way can also hurt his self-esteem.

Delayed consequences. It’s best to respond immediately. For every moment that passes after a behavior, your child is less likely to link her behavior to the consequence. It becomes punishing for the sake of punishing, and will be much less likely to actually change her behavior.

Disproportionate consequences. At times, you may be so frustrated that you take away a privilege for a week or a month. In addition to being a delayed consequence, this may be developmentally inappropriate for a child who doesn’t have a sense of time. A huge consequence can be demoralizing, so that he gives up even trying to behave.

Positive consequences. When your child dawdles instead of putting on her shoes or picking up her blocks, and you get so impatient that you do it for her, you increasing the likelihood that he’ll dawdle again next time.

Effective ConsequencesPraise for appropriate behavior. Catching your child being good makes the behavior more likely to happen again. Praise is most valuable when it’s specific. Instead of saying “Great job!” you can say, “Thank you for putting away your blocks neatly!” Repeating or paraphrasing a child’s words (“Thank you for asking me if you could use the computer”) shows that you are listening and helps encourage his verbal skills. When you describe a positive behavior, you help your child understand exactly what you expect.

Active ignoring. This strategy should be used only for minor misbehaviors?not for aggression or very destructive behavior. When your child starts to misbehave, you deliberately withdraw your attention. This means no eye contact, no talking, and no nonverbal interaction. No sighing, no smiling, no nothing. The active part is that you’re waiting for your child to behave properly. For whining, you are waiting for her to speak in an appropriate tone. For rough play, you are waiting for gentle play. Then give positive attention as soon as the desired behavior starts. When your child shifts to a respectful tone, for instance, you should immediately make eye contact, smile, and say, “Thank you for speaking to me nicely.” By withholding your attention until you get positive behavior, you are teaching her what behavior gets you to engage.

Reward menus. Rewards are a tangible way to give your child positive feedback for desired behaviors. Not a bribe, a reward is something a child earns — it’s an acknowledgment that she’s doing something that’s difficult for her. Rewards are most effective as motivators when your child can select from a range of choices — which not only gives her a feeling of control, but also reduces the possibility that a given reward will lose its appeal over time. A reward can be a privilege or activity (time on the iPad, a story, a trip to the playground) or a tangible reward (small treasures like marbles or stickers, or points towards a small purchase). Give rewards for specific target behaviors, post them on a chart so your child can see them, deliver or withhold them consistently, and update them every couple of weeks.

Time-outs. A time-out is one of the most effective consequences, but it is also one of the hardest to use correctly. A time-out should be given immediately after your child engages in a negative behavior that you’ve explained in advance will lead to time-out. If time-outs happen randomly — once you’ve been pushed to the limit — your child won’t know what to expect. During a time-out, do not talk to your child until it is over. Rather than having a specific time limit based on your child’s age, the time-out should end immediately after your child has been calm and quiet briefly, so she receives the “reward” for acting appropriately. Don’t forget this last, very important, step: If you issued the time-out because your child wouldn’t comply with a task, tell her to complete the original task. That way, the time-out won’t have been a successful avoidance strategy for her.

Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.


http://www.parents.comBringing together the power of respected magazine brands including American Baby and Parents, the Parents Network is your go-to destination for parenting information. From first kicks to first steps and on to the first day of school, we are here to help you celebrate the joys and navigate the challenges of parenthood.

Best Phrases/Words for a Toddler – Teaching Patience Early On

2 May

Our toddler is not one to mince words – it is just that she doesn’t have many words to mince with 😉  In the course of raising two precocious daughters there are a couple of phrases/words that I have to admit came in really handy (although I seem to end up loudly saying some of them over and over again – still useful nonetheless).  The earlier they understand these words or phrases and follow-through, the earlier your life gets a little easier.

  1. Stop, instead of NO – I usually use this in heart-attack situations – I find this useful when I need her to freeze (i.e. almost touching something hot, picking up something on the floor and en route to mouth etc.)  I find that having them freeze for even a couple of seconds gives me time to rectify the situation.
  2. Only One – Used to express a limit – when snacking it sometimes helps to not have our kids try to ram a whole fistful of goldfish into their mouths, or when someone offers something in a bowl/tray – it makes us look less like neanderthals when our kids are able to only grab one piece rather than the usual fistful with the inevitable piece or two falling on the floor.
  3. Wait – This is a great exercise for patience and delayed gratification  – especially with all these research and articles coming out about the benefits of teaching patience and delayed gratification (like this article from the New Yorker ) almost everyone is familiar with the ‘marshmallow test‘ – well for us it is also a sanity saver – I don’t need to live with children that whine to get something NOW NOW NOW!  Our older daughter is a little more adept at waiting, while our younger one is a little more challenging.  What we’ve done is teach our toddler the right ‘posture’ for waiting – so she holds her hands together and sits – it’s really quite cute 🙂 and it also works.
  4. Gentle – LOTS of places to use – when playing with smaller children, when in highly fragile places or stores, when playing with someone else’s toys or touching a pet animal.  I find that when they learn this word they immediately know that they need to slow down or change how they handle things.
  5. Clean-up! – I know… hahahahaha but for the really younger ones this still holds some cache – especially when sung like Barney 😉  Another version for older toddlers is to ask “Where does this go?”  This works for us when our 28 month-old is done with her snack and give us the wrapper.  We ask here where the wrapper goes if she’s done with her snack and she knows to put it in the trash can – longer, but better method than telling her to put it in the trash or always doing it for her!  Makes her think rather than mom or dad barking orders!

Here is a caveat — the fact that your kids know and understand these words/phrases doesn’t mean that you can yell it across a room and hope for the best (as I’ve seen other parents do) at the same time something said a thousand times also loses its effectiveness pretty fast (like the word ‘STOP’)  I find that standing by them and calmly saying the phrase is what makes it work better.