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.