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.