Thursday, December 31, 2009

What kind of child do you want?

Parents often ask me questions about their children and the "misbehavior" that they are having a hard time dealing with. What they laugh off in private becomes of concern when it takes place in public. Here are the keys to getting what you want.
1. Be a role model of what you want from your children in thought, action and speech. Don't be surprised when they act and talk like you.
2. Take advantage of the teachable moments, but do not think there is a lesson in everything. How would you have liked it if your every action had been an opportuntity for a lesson from your parents. This generation of parents is seeking to counter every ill of society and children are the victims.
3. Do things as a family. Figure out what you and your family value. Is it travel, sports, reading, swimming, service, etc. My children have been in about 40 of the 50 states. Pretty cool.
4. When you want to change a behavior look deeper than the obvious. Watch, listen and think.
Kids are only as good or bad as you raise them.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hair pop or pants pop?

My son reminded me yesterday about the question, "Hair pop or pants pop?"

Many years ago at what was I think one of my children's birthday party I had a 2-liter of 7-up and a 2-liter of orange and when I asked what they wanted they all said orange. I was not sure if I would have enough of just the one kind so I rephrased the question. I as you know have orange (red) hair and one of the kids was wearing green pants. So I asked, "Who wants hair pop and who wants pants pop," (tieing the color of the bottle to something else). Like I expected the kids adjusted their choices and about half wanted hair and about half wanted pants. Ever since then my kids have continued to call them that. With a little creativity parents can head off potential problem situations.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Children with special needs

When dealing with children with special needs remember two things. 1. They are kids first and they will have many characteristics of all children for or about their age. 2. Look to their abilities and not to their disabilities. Go to and click on the link to watch the video. I promise you it will give you a whole new view on working with children with special needs.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

How to deal with children after turning 18

A parent recently asked me about dealing with her 18 year daughter who still lives at home but is in her freshman year in college. The daughter likes to be out with her friends and may give her mom a list of 5 different places she "may" go after work. her daughter worked from 8 - 5 then went to a friends house, then out to dinner, then over to another house to watch a movie and then over to another friends house for a late night (10:30 pm) ugly sweater contest and holiday party. At 11:15 the mom gets a text on her phone that says, "Have not left yet, will be really pregnant." The mom tries to get a response and no one answers. She has no phone numbers for any of her daughter's friends. She asked what I would do.

Turns out her daughter and her friends were watching some cable show about women who give birth that didn't know they wee pregnant and she was texting at the same time. She had meant to write "Have not left yet, will be really late."

And teens wonder why parents worry. I said I would have texted back, "don't worry, I called the and they are on the way."

Monday, December 21, 2009

The child just keeps on crying and will not stop

What do you do with a young child who just keeps crying and you can not get them to stop? This was a recent question and I was around at the time so I could see the whole part rather than just taking the mother's word for it. The mom was stressed and in a hurry as she whisked him from place to place as she tried to get everything on her list done. he was stressed, tired, it was past his morning snack and normally he would have been resting a little bit before a quick nap. Instead he was not home or at his child care so the environment was different as well. Surprise, he was cranky. He would start to quiet down a little bit until him mom looked at him and then he would break out in more loud crying. Interestingly he was having a hard time manufacturing tears. That is a good sign that he is more mad than anything else. After 15 minutes of battle, mom pulled out his blanket and laid it out, gave him a soft toy, talked quietly with him for a minute and gave him a cookie. Before the cookie was 1/2 gone he was a sleep and she had 30 minutes that were uninterrupted to finish what she needed. He was being what he was supposed to be. A two year old.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Interesting thinking

Student: I learned so much about the poor outcomes for couples that live together before getting married and when you said that students typically say, "that is all true except for my case, I agree. I live with my boyfriend and we are different."

Teacher: So what made you choose living together over marriage?

Student: Because I am a good Catholic girl and my mother would rather see me living with someone than getting divorced. You just can't imagine how hard that would be, to tell my mom that my marriage didn't work out. This way if we break up she will be okay with it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Playing Keep-a-way with two year olds

A friend asked the other day about how to handle t when her two year old takes something from her younger sister and then when told to give it back seems to do exactly the opposite of whatever she was told to do. Surprise!

Here are some basic facts for dealing with two year olds.
If you say "No" or "Don't" then all they hear is stop. But not stop doing that. They hear stop moving or freeze. So they wil stop moving for a brief time and then they will go right ahead with what they wee doing because they don't have the ability to think in terms of reversing their actions. When you say something simple like, "Don't take the baby's toy." it is asking the child to understand that don't means something like the reverse of what follows. Any word that they don't know what to do with they lop off of the sentence ans so what youa re left with is, "Take the baby's toy."

Another thing is that they love it when you play games with them and they like the interaction. The problem is that they don't know how to initiate the interactions. So if they take something and it illicits a response from you, they think, "oh, I got their attention, I will now do >>>> and we will be playing." This is just a part of development so you have to consider where they are and work them gradually into your world.

Two-year-olds also get centered on objects. So once it is in their hand they have a hard time separating what you are saying from what they are wanting. This means you have to physically get engaged and not just verbally. It also helps if you help them to do a positive thing like handing them something to give to the younger child. Model what you want rather than demanding what you don't want to stop.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Moody Teenagers

Ever been around a moody teen? Think back to when you were that age or your children were that age. Share what it took to snap you out of it.

Parents laughing about children's misdeeds

Often when children go astray it is because of a lifetime of parents and relatives laughing off inappropriate behavior. "Watch thing, he is so cute when he hits his brother." "Look at my little man, 6 years old and he has his first tatoo." "Church is boring son, let's go sit in the car." "Go sneak me a cookie and don't let your mother catch you."

Sometimes it is from watching parents repeatedly do something that crosses the line. "No officer, I thought I was going the speed limit." "Put your snacks into your coat and walk in the theater holding them so they don't fall. No one will ever know." "Go ask them for another and tell them you didn't get the first one."

Recently I was at a meeting where a woman said that entering the country illegally is no bigger than driving 5 miles over the speed limit. It was technically probably not right but the greater injustice would be if we didn't let in anyone who wanted to be here. Besides, it is only illegal if you get caught. Maybe it is time to go back to read D&C 134.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Say you are "sorry"

Say you are sorry. Ever hear those words? Parents often tell their children to say they are sorry when they do something "wrong." The only trouble is that as hard as it is initially for children to say them is inversely related to how much they mean them. In fact as it gets easy to say them children end up meaning them less. Parents need to keep in mind the basic principles of repentance. Can you say - Restitution! Saying "I am sorry" is not restitution. In fact, children's aggressive behavior actually increases if they learn that saying "I'm sorry," is a get out of jail free card. Keep thinking of what your child can do to make restitution and if that includes saying "I'm sorry," along with doing something else then it is to be encouraged. Keep in mind that children are concrete learners and they need to do something for it to mean anything.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What age to send children to kindergarten

This might seem like an easy question but for parents it is one that they have to consider depending on where they live. More and more middle class and upper class parents are keeping their children out of schools until their child is older. The rationale is that 1. their child will be one year or more older than their peers so they will be one year more mature and compete at a higher level for scholarships and academic honors. 2. their child will be more physically mature and compete at a higher level in athletics. 3. that they live in an area where everyone else is keeping their children out of school an extra year and so if they send their child at 5 years old their child will be significantly younger than the rest of their class.

On the other end in some communities are those parents that see the school as taking care of their child care concern because their are not parents at home and they have been paying for child care. School districts are even getting into the act by making the list of skills and knowledge tat children must have to enter kindergarten similar to what children knew and could do when leaving kindergarten.

It is important for parents to learn something about their school district. Ask about the age range and average age of children entering kindergarten for the prior three years. Talk with your child's preschool teacher (these days children who do not attend some kind of out of the home preschool experience are often found to be behind other children socially and in their independence and problem solving abilities). Look at a typical kindergarten readiness test and judge for yourself how you think they measure up.

The time to start thinking about these issues is in January and not in April or May as the testing starts. With most of the areas on the kindergarten readiness tests, time is not the answer. Children do not just get more knowledgeable and skilled just because they are more mature. There may be work for you all to do.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

5th Sunday Lesson

Today was the Fifth Sunday lesson. Funny I think it ought to be a 5th Sundae on the Fifth Sunday. Anyway, he used the book "25 Mistakes LDS parents make and how to fix them." This is a very good book. You can pick out people in your ward that they apply to. It can be like playing bingo.

It is a good book with some excellent counsel for parents. Unfortunately people rarely recognize themselves.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

just b-in kids

Someone asked why it was called just "b-in kids." The reason is many fold.

One is that parents of today are so uptight about their children and are over concerned about everything their child does. If our parents were are fearful as many of today's parents are then we would all be in need of more therapy.

Another reason is that I spend a lot of time explaining that what parents are worried about is actually just normal development for that age range.

Another answer is that as adults we need to not lose that sense of wonder about the world. Share those moments with your child.

What are the "family things" that you all agree on or are interested in? In our family it is anything about space, science, most sports, jokes, and the Ten Tenors.

Christmas shopping for young children

Every year there is the latest and hottest toy out there that is for sale. Parents want their children to feel special and so they often buy those toys for their child. Then the toy is used and is great for a limited period of time and then the child loses interest. The other thing that happens ins that at Christmas time there are so many toys that either one buried all the rest or the one gets buried by all the rest. What is a parent to do?
1. Buy less
2. Give the gift of doing things together (movie, park, camping, dinner, etc.)
3. Don't for get the want and if you want to get the "hot toy" you can still do that for a birthday or just because it is fun to share those moments.
4. If it is a present that has no real age you might even consider getting it for the two of you (mom and child, dad and child) for no apparent reason.
5. Buy donuts with your child for a Saturday morning. Get up early and bring them along. Also be sure to buy more than you need. When buying donuts you should always get at least two for every person and at least one of every kind that looks interesting.
6. Don't try to teach a lesson to your child by the present you give. Present time is not the time to teach about frugality.
7. If it is something big that the whole family wants then chip in a little extra for each person.
8. Quality costs.
9. Get a few things from each price category.
10. Enjoy both parts of Christmas.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Biting and very youngs

Children when they are in the 18 month age range don't have the words yet to respond to others at their level (other children). Here is a list of things that work with this age range.
1. When you see a child looking frustrated and in a situation where biting is likely get there quickly and calmly. Use words to fill in what you think the child would say to the other child and use hand signals to help send the message. Direct the child to hold up their hand and say "Stop."
2. If you have a child that just appears to like biting things then it is helpful to give the child a biting cloth (small knotted washcloth) that they can pull out and chew on when they are stressed (For the old folks think of Jerry Tarkanian).
3. Sometimes biting is a reflection of a child having tooth issues. Remember the earlier years when the child was teething. They got relief from chewing on one of those cool biting things.
4. So what if you have a child that seems to bite others around the same time of day? I had a boy named David that would bite someone just before snack every day (okay he didn't bite every day, but when he did bite that was when it was). We learned to make him the first one in to wash his hands and head to the snack table and the problem disappeared.
5. With the example of Caroline and Patrick, it was a rare occurance. Biting for that age should be thought of as an aggressive act that can fit easily into one of the four types of aggression. In his case it was instrumental aggression. What he wanted was to get her to stop. After he bit, she stopped.
6. I have only had two children that would look at you and tell you they were going to hurt a specific person or tell that child themself that they were about to get hurt prior to launching an attack. Both cases were children with multiple other issues that they were dealing with and it was important to deal with the individual behaviors while also searching for a more global understanding of what would work. One of these children is now graduating from college with a degree in special education and he wants to work with young children with emotional problems. In his case I had him for two years and the consistency of the methods used to help him made the most difference in his progress.
7. I just thought of another child. This had more to do with the child who was the victim than the biter. She had three different children bite her over a period of a few weeks. They were all about 30 months old and they really thought she was the most wonderful child in the room and they couldn't get enough of her. This was of great concern to her mother who worried that her daughter from an early age had "victim" pinned on her. In that case where we focused on was making her more assertive and developing play skills. That made the difference.

When looking at biting it is important to consider all of the factors and make a judgment. Think about age, developmental abilities and inabilities, situation, who was involved, time of day, location where it happened, where did the bite take place, was it in response to anything or apparently isolated, etc.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What to do if you have a biter

Over the years I have dealt with a few biters. The first thing to do is to consider the age of the child and the time, place and reason for the biting. Here are some simple guidelines to identify the size of the problem.

If the child is between 18 months and 30 months, biting is usually a communication issue. Children of this age do not have the language skills to communicate their wants. I have known children of this age that will bite if someone is approaching them too quickly, if they are frustrated, tired, or upset. This is when it is critical to know the context.

One of my favorite biting stories happened many years ago with a girl and boy in my three year old class. Patrick was a child who often teased, picked on, bullied others (in a minor way that only three year olds can do). Caroline was a little girl that had so many ideas in her head that she loved to share with others what they could do and how (some would call it bossy, but she was really helpful to the more timid children). Patrick was trying to make Caroline leave his favorite play area one day and he was trying just about every idea he could think of. It was early December. Caroline stood in front of him and stated, "Patrick you are a bad boy. You are so bad that you are not getting anything for Christmas this year." Patrick looked worried because Caroline controled a lot in the classroom. he said, "I am too." Caroline responded, "No you are not because I know Santa Claus and I am going to tell hi how bad you are any you are not getting anything." Patrick was looking distressed. Caroline went in for the kill with, "And you know what, you are so bad that even Jesus doesn't love you either." Patrick on hearing that grabbed Caroline's hand and he bit her on the arm.

Some older children bite because it is a strategy that gets them what they want. It is an ultimate response. Infant bite because it is part of exploring their world. Put anthing near their mouths and they will bite, gum, or taste it.

Of the more than 50 biters I have dealt with I have really only had one that totally perplexed me and that was really difficult in making a behavior change and he is a young man with PDD (Pervasive Developmental Delay).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

One child's toilet training story

I had a little boy in my preschool class that was about 30 months old. He had been wearing diapers and never made any movement toward wanting to wear underwear. I had a routine of asking children when they were on the changing table if they wanted a diaper or "big boy pants" which I always kept a large supply of for the class. In this case they were Spiderman underwear. He looked at the underwear and said he wanted to wear them instead of a diaper. So I put them on him and off he went to play. Normally I would then check with the child throughout the day to have them use the bathroom but in this case I forgot. In fact I ended up sending him home with his mother and forgot to tell her what he was wearing.

Two hours later I got a phone call from his mom. She said that she thought I had her son confused with someone else. I asked what she meant and she replied that her child was not toilet trained but he had underwear on. Then it hit me. About three hours had gone by since I had put the underwear on him and I was sure she was dealing with a mess. I apologised to her about not letting her know and asked what had happened. She explained that after school they had gone to the mall. I was really getting worried as I could just imagine what had happened. Surprisingly he made it through all of that dry and they were now at home and she wanted him to take a nap, but he would not take off the underwear and put on a diaper. She explained that she was not ready to make the change as it is just easier for her to have him go in the diaper rather than to look for a bathroom for him.

Interestingly that was the last day he wore a diaper. Not that there were no "accidents" but within two weeks he was fully through the process. Sometimes parents are not ready for the changes that children are ready for.

Making memories

A common problem is the bedtime routine for children. Children go through various stages that impact their behavior. When a child gains the understanding that life goes on whether they are involved or not it usually triggers attempts to stay up after bedtime. Parents can help children by having a set routine that includes a final bathroom stop, stories, prayers, tucking in, quiet music in the background and a closed door. Then parents need to make an effort to keep the talking and TV sound level down so that it does not become a distraction as the child is working on sleep. Parents need to be consistent and firm. however also sensitive to children's reactions to nightmares and problem issues they are facing. It is important that parents have a clear understanding of accepted behavior. Children getting up repeatedly is common. If a child can't sleep they need something to quietly occupy their time. Parents also need to check in on their children periodically during the evening.

If a child keeps getting up you need to realize that they came up with their understanding of what they can get away with over a period of time and it is common that it will take a while to get it back into a routine.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Teaching children responsibility

Remember back when your children were little and they wanted to help? What happened to dampen their enthusiasm. Both see the task in their own world view. Parents wanting to have the child do it right and not to create more of a mess. The child sees it as play or "helping" and may need guidance, acceptance, and encouragement. They may also needs to stop and start up again far more often. The child gets distracted easily and without a lot of encouragement and acceptance of effort they will gradually deminish in the interest in doing any task. Eventually jobs such as this are no longer fun or interesting.

Recently in my class a group of students were talking about things such as what direction the toilet paper should hang on the roll, can you squeeze toothpaste in the middle, and is there a right and wrong way to vacumn a floor. There were some in the group that looked like they could come to blows to defend their belief that their way was right and anything less than that was not only wrong, but it was not helpful as they would need to redo the job to make it "right." Then I brought up the loading of the dishwasher and washing clothes. Those are two that even more had views that there were rules about those areas that had to be followed or else the world as we know it might not go on. Who is the problem, the one who has a different way or the one that can't accept another person's helpfulness?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Christmas is coming

Situation: A parent is in Walmart with a child of any age and the child wants to look at the toys. Off the parent goes as he/she likes toys also, or they know that the need ideas for future presents. Often what I see is children begging their parents for a toy right then rather then getting something on a birthday or Christmas. Children need to learn to delay gradification. Parents need to be smarter than their children. Anytime a child finds something they want, encourage them to put it on a list for the future. You will find that not getting it will allow you to judge the child's interest over a period of time. If the want persists then the parent might either consider getting it for one of those special occasions or share the child's interest with others, siblings, grandparents, etc. Parents who walk out of regualr shoping trips with toys, candy, etc. if it was not on the list going in have just told the child that if they ask enough they get what they want. They are taught that they don't need to delay gradification, they just need to keep at it. By making shopping lists you also will learn that you can delay your own sense of "needing" it right now.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

How to get kids to whisper?

The best way to get kids to whisper is to whisper when talking with them. Look at them when talking and shorten the distance between you and the child. Then if children are talking to you reverse the process. Bring them close and tell them to tell you quietly. If kids are talking with each other and are too loud then have then practice at the dinner table for a meal as they pretend they are in sacrament meeting. Also parents can help by understanding that 90% of church is boring to children and all they see is the backs of peoples heads. What they have to look forward to is sleeping like the HP.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Finding humor in parenting

Many parents become so upset at their children's thinking that they become trapped in trying to get their point across and forget that they once were where they children are now. This is particularly true when dealing with adolescents. Did you know that all of the information on adolescence now had it lasting until the age of about 24 if the person in question is not financially and emotionally independent from their parents. As adults we expect that our children will begin thinking as we think. Some basic things to think about is that it is OK to make choices that might not be the best "according to you" and that the world will continue to exist. Share your thinking but do not expect your children to thihnk as you do. That way they won't reject it but will include it in how they process information in making their own choices.

Back to the humor. Laugh at yourself and laugh with your child. Find a time for hugs and allow yoourself to be wrong sometimes. Your decisions might have been right for your life but if they can't make their own choices and live by the consequences then they will never learn to trust their own thinking and have much to give to another person and to the world. My kids know most of my dumb stuff I did when I was their age. It lets them know there is still hope for them.

Monday, October 26, 2009

How do you teach or modify the behavior of a child to whom consequences have little or no meaning?

Well, this is a tough one but the answer really doesn't vary much by the age. However the consequences vary greatly by the age. The place to start is with "building meaning" Have you ever taken a puppy for a walk using one of those retractable leashes? The more line is given out the more the dog thinks he/she is in control and the wider he/she roams. When parenting there are two basic approaches. Give more leash and then reel in as necessary or keep a tighter leash and lighten up when possible. What parents need to do is know their child and what will work best. Of course always having to hold the leash and keeping it short takes a lot of time and effort but it really is the only way that children learn about consequences.

Now if the child is older and you try to impose greater restrictions then they will fight it more so it is best to start when they are younger and you can see which methods are likely to be needed whith which child. keep in mind that what is equal isn't fair and what is fair might not be equal. Sit children down and let them see the big picture. Help them to chart the course but then you be the one on the wheel and let them take turns learning the controls. As children get into their teens they begin to recognize some of their own problem areas so it is good to have them identify for you what they want to work on and how you can help them.

Keep in mind that the child with the biggest problems is still just a kid first and someone struggling with coping second and not the other way around.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Spanking versus yelling

The question was asked, "Which is worse, spanking my child or yelling at them?"

It was interesting because the person asking the question was basically saying, "Yes I know that both are not good, but I am going to be doing one of them so please give me something I can do that will not be as bad as if I did the other one."

My answer: Both are not good and I will not give you permission to hit or yell. There are times when each might be an effective strategy, but the problem comes when anything is overused. I tell parents that they can spank their child three times. Not three swats as one person wanted. "You mean I can hit them anytime I want as long as I limit it to three hits?" I mean save it for the big things and you will be surprised how creative you can be when you don't want to waste one of those times.

Now the problem with yelling is that itto sets a model for what is acceptable. If you yell then you will have your child learn to yell back at you, at their friends & siblings, at the pet, and at grandma and grandpa if they get upset. So neither strategy is really effective for the long run.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Parenting question of the week

Do the Little Einstein products and other things marketed to make your child smarter than everyone elses really work?

We are living in a society of the Lake Wobegon effect. Everyone is gifted, everyone is talented. In reality we have for years created the most creative people in the world over the past 50 - 100 years. Part of what builds creativity is non-standardization. Yet what do we try to do, package things, more hours in school, less recess, more tests, etc. Parents are having fewer children and a by-product becomes that they feel more pressure to get it right. Keeping up with the Jones was all about material things and now it is about kids competing. I had a parent ask me if his two year old would be at the top of his class so he could go to Harvard for graduate school.

So do the products help? They impact, but they impact the parents far more than they impact the child. The parent is laying the groundwork for what they value and on what the interactions with their child will be based on. Time would be better spent playing with your child and providing a broad range of experiences. Turn off the TV and play games. Turn of the DVD/VCR and go for a walk, visit a museum, have a picnic. Walk away from the computer and go out for ice cream sundaes.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Class this week

This week class has been on marriage and what you would be willing to do to improve the chances of staying married more than 5 years. It is interesting that few "educated" and fewer "uneducated" people want to learn more about improving marriage. Oh well, they keep paying me to spread the word.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Talking about kids

Is it okay to talk about children?

I get this question a lot in classes as there was a period in teaching where it was common to single out the child who was behaving and use them as the "model" child for others to try to be like. The problem with that is that most often the child was a quiet girl who was not very interactive or ever cause any problems. My belief is that you have to understand that there is a wide range of normal and as the adult you need to adapt more and work with children as individuals.

One cardinal rule for parents and teachers is: Don not talk negatively about children in their presence. Generally I have tried to also not say negative things about my children to anyone. not that they are perfect and that I don't have stories that might cast them in a negative light, but why would I want anyone that meets my children to think first of some story that I have told about them that might prove embarrassing now or in the future. In the era of Twitter, where everyone shares everything, I have a challenge for parents. Start with a 5 to 1 policy. You cannot say or write anything that may be viewed as a "problem" until you have shared 5 good things. Catch them being good. That way when you do share those moments where children are not at their best, then people see that as the anomaly rather than the good behavior as the time that stands out. The same rule goes for spouses. Focus on the good stuff.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Question: My young child takes things away from her siblings just because she can. What should I do?

Answer: Two things come to mind. First, that this child might have an older sibling or other older child that they spend time with that is often taking things away from her. If this is the case then just dealing with your own two year old is not enough. Second, she is exerting her ownership and assertiveness. Neither are bad traits and the time will come that you will value these as well. For now focus on teaching her to ask for what she wants. Return objects and tell her to ask the other child if she can have it next. It is important that the goal is for her to replace actions with words and not to get ownership right then, but for her to be able to delay getting what she wants. Say to her, “You want Bobby’s pail. I see he is still using it.” “Say to him, I want the pail next.” Then help her wait. You will likely need to tell Bobby that when he is finished to give it to her, but over time they can handle the whole transaction themselves.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Aggressive children

Situation: My child is aggressive toward his siblings and does not seem to understand what it means to have hurt someone else.

There are four kinds of aggression and it helps to figure out which kind it is because each are a little different in how you would handle it. The place to start is to look back over the situation or situations and see what matches up best. below is a description of each type.

Accidental aggression: This is where random things happen and there is no intent to do harm. The examples for children are endless. It could be a child steps on another child's fingers, runs over toes, hits someone with a ball, or falls into someone after having tripped. It also would include something much more serious such as if he tries to carry a younger sibling and drops them. There is no intent to do harm and what is needed most is for parents or other adults to go into their "narrator mode." This is where the child needs to hear a verbal description of what happened and to have both children involved and the parent to understand that no harm was intended. Using the examples above: A child steps on another fingers. Your response would be. You are upset because he stepped on your fingers. I know that he did not see you there. Bobby, watch where you are going. You hurt Katie when you stepped on her fingers. It also helps if you can have the offending child do something to make the offended feel better. Keep in mind the principles of Repentance. It includes the concept of restitution and that is critical for these times. What could the child do to help make the one that is hurt feel better.

Expressive aggression: This is where a child is caught up in the feeling of the situation. An example of this might be the child who loves to wrestle with a parent and seeks to engage another person in that but they don't know how to initiate the action, how to control it or how to end it. Those are all things that the adult manages for the child. This child needs help with learning each level. however when damage or a hurt has taken place it is important to have them focus on the outcome. You direct the child to look at the one who is in distress. Here is a sequence. "Billy, you like wrestling with Aaron. She did not know you were playing. look at her face." "You hurt her when you ...... When you want to play with her, use your words." "Aaron. If you want Billy to stop, put up your hand and say Stop!." "Billy, if she says Stop. you have to stop."

The next type in Instrumental aggression: This is what is used when there is intent or a purpose such as to get control of an object or control a situation. The intent is still not to hurt but that is a common by-product. A child might be trying to take something away from another child and they are so focused on the object that they may not recognize it is being used or is even in another child's hand. Football is a good example of instrumental aggression. both the offense and defense have a goal and they engage in physical actions with the intent of reaching their goal. Hurting someone is not a part of the plan but it happens. This is one that can be explored in far more depth based on individual situations.

The last type is Hostile aggression. This is rarely seen in children under 8 years of age and is rare even for older children, but many people mistaken the other types as being this type. Hostile aggression is aggression for no other reason than to hurt someone else. This is the type of aggression that time-outs work best for addressing as well as a variety of other things used in conjunction with each other.

The last thing that I will address related to aggression is how children tend to act after hurting another. Yes it is possible for a child to be embarrassed over their actions or the impact of their actions. I have seen children try to do things that in their mind made sense but in the adult's mind is incomprehensible. I have had children regress in their toilet training, become more aggressive, fall apart into fits of crying or other uncontrollable or inconsolable behaviors, etc. Usually it is loosely related to how the adults respond or concern about how the adults will respond.

Well, my fingers hurt now so I will stop for now.

Child safety

Situation 3: My two year old runs away at Wal-mart.

Answer: Safety is the issue here. If a child won’t stay by you then he/she stays in the cart. But that also means you have to not only take the cart with you as you shop, but you need to stay in the back of it and not wander off from it. Many adults use their shopping cart like a base from which they walk away and come back with “treasures” or at least that is what it looks like to a toddler. The adventure to them is leaving base and coming back. Set limits for your child and give them a job to do. Have them help finding items. Talk with them while you shop. It is interesting how many people take their children shopping, but never actually say anything to the child. Boring! I have seen people talking non-stop to someone on their cell phone but ignore the child right in front of them that is trying to get their attention. Also do not trust your child to be down on the floor if you have any concerns about them disappearing, breaking things, knocking things over, etc. Also do not go shopping when your child is hungry or tired.

I am still figuring things out.

How best to answer questions or post situations.
I will try another way.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


A toddler takes toys away from other kids just because she can.


My two year old likes to pick the tomatoes before they are ready.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Purpose of the Blog

There are so many parents that are questioning their own abilities and are finding parenting to be a handful. Parenting is really easy if you don't let things throw you and if you know what to expect. Many of todays generation of parents are losing track of the fact that they once did the same things as their children are currently doing. Relax and enjoy the little things. On this blog I will use it as a record of how I answer parenting questions within workshops on a variety of topics. My knowledge comes from 28 years as an early childhood faculty member with a background in parent education, parenting, human development, child development, family relationships, etc. I have worked with infant programs, toddler and preschool programs, early elementary programs, Head Start, etc.