One of the points I’ve found parents have trouble dealing with is how to talk to their children while disciplining them. Should they be calm or loud? Should they tell their child or ask? Through my experience with kids and their parents I’ve found that how you talk to your child can make a world of difference. Positive parenting techniques also encourage certain techniques to help you communicate more effectively with your child. Here are a few tips that can help you communicate positively with your child and as a result help you reduce or eliminate power struggles or conflict and have a relaxing home environment.
1. Get down to your child’s eye level. Your body language is just as important as your verbal language when communicating with your child.
- What you can do:
Make sure you are at your child’s eye level when talking by having eye contact or by getting down to your child’s height. He/she is more likely to listen to what you have to say when you have eye contact then when you are shouting overhead or from the end of the room. Speaking over your child can also make him feel intimidated or scared. However speaking at your child’s eye level lets him know that you take him seriously and that it’s a two way conversation.
2. Be firm and calm. Shouting usually comes from a source of anger which can causes irrational thinking and saying things we’ll later regret. Your child deserves the same respect you expect him to show you and the best way to do that is to model the right behavior. Shouting
- What you can do:
If your child is safe and isn’t harming himself or other children you can afford to give yourself a few seconds before reacting. These few seconds can help you calm down and think about how you’re going to react. Keep your tone calm but firm when talking to your child about his misbehavior. You shouldn’t be mean or aggressive but avoid using pet names, this is a serious situation and should be handled accordingly to send your child the right message.
3. Avoid saying “No”. Saying “No” too much will lose it’s effectiveness, after a while your child won’t pay as much attention if you say “No” which will probably lead to you escalating your response and possibly resorting to shouting or more aggressive behavior to emphasize the point
- What you can do:
First, keep “No” for few important rules that have to do with safety or important household rules like touching the oven or standing on the table. Second, when you want to tell your child that he can’t do something phrase your message positively. Check point #2.
4. Avoid negative phrases. When you start with a negative statement that just makes your child feel guilty but doesn’t tell him why you’re upset.
- What you can do:
Start your sentence positively, let your child know why you’re upset and most importantly redirect to an acceptable activity. Instead of “Stop grabbing my paper!!!” try “I can’t read my paper while you grab it, you can get a story and read it next to me or you can wait till I’m done and we can play together”.
5. State don’t ask. It’s important to respect your child’s individual wants and needs but in certain situation asking your child to behave just sets you up to accepting “No” from your child as an answer!
- What you can do:
Children pick up on subtle differences in speech, if you phrase your sentence as a question your child has the right to say No as an answer. I’m not telling you to instruct or force your child but you can try phrasing your sentence as a statement or option. Give your child choices that are fair to her and acceptable for you. Instead of “How about you stop banging on the table now Sweetie” you can try “Sarah, you’re banging too loud and it’s hurting mommy’s ears. You can stop banging or we can go outside where it’s better to have loud noises ” if going outside isn’t an option then redirect your child to other acceptable behavior you can read more on redirection here. Remember not to overuse this technique so it doesn’t turn into instructing your child about everything.
6. Always show love. Even though you might be furious with your child for whatever he’s done don’t let that interfere or get confused with showing him that you love him. Often when parents shout or ignore children on purpose their child starts feeling guilty and may fear you won’t love him anymore. Which probably results in low self confidence or more misbehavior to get your attention.
- What you can do:
Make it a point to let your child know you still care, even when your addressing his misbehavior. Acknowledge his feelings that he was hurt, angry or tired and that’s why he acted out. Separate his misbehavior from him as a person. Using phrases like “stop being naughty” tells him that he’s the bad person not that his behavior is bad. Make sure you are clear that you are talking about his behavior “It’s not OK to hit others”.
Listen to his side of the story. Don’t automatically go into punishment mode, it’s important to understand why your child misbehaved and for him to explain himself. This helps you avoid similar situations in the future and lets your child know his feelings matter.
Instead of enforcing consequences help your child reach a conclusion to why his behavior is not OK. How would he feel if someone hit him? What could he have done instead?
Remember that it’s important to acknowledge and respect that your child has her own opinion and interests and work towards a situation where everyone leaves satisfied. The goal is to have a mutually respected relationship between you and your child that fosters her independence and confidence. I hope these tips help you enhance your positive relationship with your child.
Photo from Allparentstalk.com and blendedfamilytoday.blogspot.com
Using time-out has become a regular disciplinary method that most parents use, but is it really effective? How many times have you put your child in time-out for misbehaving only to have him do the same thing you told him not to after he’s done with time-out? Who hasn’t struggled with making a toddler stay in time-out? You keep on putting him back but he keeps leaving the time-out space and pretty soon it’s turned into a game for him and frustration for you.
Why time-out doesn’t work
There’s actually a very good reason why time-out doesn’t work. Young children under 5 find it extremely difficult to control and regulate their feeling. So when they are asked to go to time-out and clam down they simply can’t do it. Whatever feeling your child is going through at that moment just seems too much to handle for him. He needs you to help him, he simply can’t do it alone. Another reason is that children need immediate consequences to help them learn. Prolonging punishment isn’t really going to help you emphasize your point. When a child is asked to go in his room and “think about what he’s done” that doesn’t give him any idea as to what he did wrong or what he could have done instead. Young children are still learning and exploring, everything is new to them. What might come naturally to you may be a skill your child needs to be introduced to. This doesn’t mean you should be permissive with your child and just let him do whatever he wants. Time-out can also be an effective tool when used positively.
What you can do
- Remove your child from the situation to a calm spot if he is misbehaving or is having a meltdown
- Remind your child of house rules like “no-hitting” depending on the situation
- Use time-out as a calming space and not punishment. Don’t leave your child alone in time-out and don’t associate it with something negative. Instead provide your child with support and comfort to help him recognize his feelings, listen to why he misbehaved, discuss with him why his behavior was inappropriate and explain the kind of behavior you expect from him.
- With repetition time-out can become a place for your child to regulate his feelings. Instead of threatening to send him to time-out you can enable him to use time-out to calm himself. If you start seeing signs that your child is feeling frustrated and agitated you can ask him if he needs some time-out. As your child grows older and learns to regulate his emotions on his own he can use time-out by himself.
- Don’t overuse it. Like anything else don’t resort to time-out every time your child misbehaves. Find out why your child is misbehaving or feeling frustrated and choose an appropriate solution for that specific situation.
- Distinguish between your child’s behavior and your child. Avoid using words like “stop being naughty”. Labeling your child tells him what to think of himself not his behavior. Instead explain what behavior was wrong “stop jumping on the sofa”. You want to send a message about your child’s behavior not himself to help him find an alternative and maintain his self confidence.
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Photo from Sheknows.com
This article is available for free in Arabic on Supermama
Around the time your baby becomes mobile, discipline issues start becoming a daily concern. Parents find themselves correcting and punishing their child more often to keep him safe, clean or stop him from destroying something. Most of us find ourselves suddenly saying “No” much more often which usually leads to tantrums and tears (from both parent and child).
Are there alternatives? Yes! there are ways you can correct your little one and avoid these daily conflict situations as much as possible. The answer is positive discipline.
“Discipline” shouldn’t be confused with “punishment”
Punishment is based on causing some discomfort, fear or loss for the child which forces him to do something. However, it doesn’t tell your child “why not?” or the alternatives. Positive discipline is about teaching your child, helping him understand his boundaries, abilities and encourage him to communicate with you and think for himself. Your child will learn to view himself and the world through the experiences he has with you! What he learns now will set a pattern to how he acts as a teenager and adult. That’s what makes these early years so important in developing the child’s ability to make choices and communicate with others.
So why do children misbehave?
- They feel inadequate: children naturally start developing a need for independence around 18 months which is great for their self esteem. However, if too much is done for them they start believing that they can’t do it.
- Power struggles: another factor of feeling independent, children start defying parents and saying “No” back. Conflict most often occurs when parents are inflexible and too strict. While strict rules may sound good now, think about this: do you want a weak-willed child?
- Attention: If your child mostly gets attention when he misbehaves, he will continue to misbehave because this is the way he knows to get his parents’ time and attention. Make sure you compliment your child in the positive situations as well to show him there are alternatives to getting your time.
Here are some positive discipline tips that you can start implementing today
- Set few clear rules. Rules are needed to let children know what they can and can’t do. Let your child know the limits and explain the consequences. Setting few rules makes it easier for your child to remember and follow. Prioritize safety rules like not touching the oven or crossing the street alone.
- Get down to your child’s eye level. This makes it easier to get and maintain your child’s attention. Most likely when you’re shouting out something overhead your child will have completely missed that you’re talking to him.
- Take a moment before reacting. If your child is misbehaving there is no need to jump in right away unless he is harming himself or others. Giving yourself a few seconds to grasp the situation and approach it calmly can make a world of difference. Remember to keep your voice firm but low when speaking to your child.
- Provide an appropriate environment. Your child may sometimes have difficulty controlling his impulses so make sure your setting is child friendly. Put away tempting objects and bring along a story or box of crayons when going out to give your child age appropriate alternatives.
- Express yourself and offer alternatives. Use sentences that express how you feel. “I can’t read the paper when you crumble the pages. You can get your story and read next to me”. This way you’re expressing yourself positively and sending a clear message to your child. At the same time you are offering an alternative which will redirect your child to an activity that is appropriate for the moment.
- Offer Choices. Giving your child choices fosters that feeling of independence and enables your child to make decisions. “You can have your bath now or after dinner”, “Do you want your blue T-shirt or the red one?”. Try to limit choices to just two items at this stage to avoid confusion.
- NEVER use physical punishment. There is absolutely no benefit from using physical punishment like spanking to discipline your child. This method instills fear and low self esteem in the child instead of an internal ability to be good. It also teaches him that this is an appropriate way to handle disagreements and as an adult may result in abusive relationships between spouses or friends.
Things to keep in mind:
- You need to realize that children are different; each child has a different personality and temperament. There is no “one rule fits all”. As parents, you need to look at your child(ren) and adapt what works best with his character.
- Your toddler isn’t out to get you! It may seem that your child “just isn’t listening“, however you should know that at this age impulse control is still a developing skill and is very difficult for your child to control.
- Take time to reflect on your parenting strategy; how is your current communication with your child? do you find yourself saying “No” and yelling more than you would like?
I hope you find this information practical and useful in your daily life. Let us know what experiences you’ve had with your own child.
Photo from Parentclass.org
Children’s misbehavior is often unintentional or has a reason behind it. A child’s natural way of learning is exploring. Everything is new for them and the one way they can figure things out is by trying. Children get a lot of feedback on their behavior by how we (adults) react. If something gets minimal attention it’s likely a child won’t do it again unless he personally enjoyed it. On the other hand, if he gets your attention then he’s figured things out! It’s the same reason we naturally clap and make a big deal when baby takes his first step or says his first word. All that encouragement tells him he’s doing something right. It also has the same effect when we react to misbehavior and say “No!”.
You’re thinking “I can’t say No??”. That’s not what I’m saying. Using “No” is an effective way to immedietly get your child’s attention and have him stop what he’s doing..for a minute..then what? Let’s think of this from your child’s perspective; he’s banging with the spoon on the table. It’s a new experience and the sound is interesting and he’s doing something. Here comes Mommy, I’ll show her what I can do…Bang! Bang!…I’ve got her attention now! Naturally you reaction is to stop that annoying banging, anyone would do the same. You say “No banging with the spoon!”. He stops for a second, looks at you with his spoon midair, it looks like he got the message but a second later he’s at it again.
Why “No” alone doesn’t work
While “No” sends a message to your child to stop, it doesn’t tell him what to do instead. This is where redirection comes in handy. Even after you’ve told your child to stop banging the spoon, he’s still interested in doing that. Show him what he can do instead. Swap the spoon for something with a soft top or show him how to bang on something less.
Using redirection once doesn’t mean your child will get the message right away. Keep at it and redirect several times. Children learn through repetition and patterns. The more consistent his experience is, the more he’ll understand what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t.
How to redirect
It all depends on what you are distracting your child from. If your child is doing something that can harm him you have to be firm and remove him immediately. Safety comes first. However, in everyday safe situations you can gently redirect your child to a more appropriate activity.
- Speak to your child in a calm voice. Like we said, giving too much attention will only reinforce the unwanted behavior
- Give your child an acceptable alternative immediately
- Offer choices. This can help your child accept the new option. Limit choices to two acceptable options to make it easier for your child.
- Model acceptable behavior. If you don’t want your child throwing things then think twice about tossing your keys, the TV remote or a pillow at your spouse. Watching and learning is one of the key ways children lean about social interaction.
- Remember, don’t use food as a reward or distraction. Food is a basic and necessary part of our lives which children should learn to use in a healthy manner. Avoid using it as a form of emotional replacement or an alternative activity.
Remember that each child is different. What works with your friend’s child may not work with yours. Your child is unique so try to find out what he enjoys so you can redirect him to an acceptable activity that will match his interests.
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Photo Thanks to Mariam El Mofty Photography
Bedtime struggles are a common problem with toddlers and preschoolers. It can be exhausting and frustrating when your child refuses to go to bed at the end of a long day. The good news is that there is usually a solution. The key is figuring out what the problem is and why your child is refusing to go to bed. Even though it might be a daily struggle that most children do, there can be a different reason on different nights with different children.
Here are some common reasons for bedtime struggles and why your child may not be going to bed, what you can do and finally general guidelines to peaceful bedtime.
1.Rushed or Chaotic Bedtime, if bedtime is rushed or loud it can be hard for your child to go from playing to falling asleep in a few minutes. Other distractions like the TV being on or older siblings playing in another room are a constant reminder to your child that others are still up and “playing”. Naturally, he still wants to be a part of that and will refuse to go to bed or will find it hard to fall asleep.
- What you can do:
make sure you give bedtime the time it deserves. It might be tough after a long day but making time before bedtime can save you a lot of time and energy and help you avoid the power struggle at bedtime. Make sure bedtime is a quiet time, give your child some notice that bedtime is near, try to establish a bedtime routine to prepare your child for bed. Turn off the TV and put away all toys in the last hour before bedtime. Dim the lights and try to have the family do quiet activities like reading. Make sure that bedtime is as boring as possible.
2. Your Child doesn’t want to Go or Stay in Bed, If your child doesn’t want to go to bed he may be distracted by other sounds in the house or just not exhausted enough to go to bed.
- What you can do:
Like the example above, make sure bedtime is a quiet time. If your child keeps on bouncing in and out of bed and is full of energy, he might not be getting enough activity during the day to tire him out. Make sure he gets enough physical activity during the day, scale back daytime naps or wake him up a bit earlier in the morning. Remember that quiet time is important. If your child is very active before bedtime make sure to give him some extra time to wind down. Don’t turn bedtime into a power struggle, if your child keeps getting out of bed simply put him back into bed, wait a few minutes and assure him you will be back to check on him in a few minutes. Check on your child from the doorway every few minutes and tell him what a good job he’s doing falling asleep. After a few times when he feels safe and reassured he’ll start to fall asleep.
3.Your child won’t go to sleep alone, Your child may also find it difficult to sleep alone and may need some extra comfort to go to bed. He might not want to fall asleep on his own because he feels insecure. At this age children have a very active imagination and shadows and sounds can be scary.
- What you can do:
Encourage your child to fall asleep alone. You can help him feel secure by giving him a favorite comfort object like a stuffed animal to sleep with. You can leave a night light on or keep the bedroom door open. If your child is afraid of “monsters under the bed” take these fear seriously and play along by “kicking the monsters out” of the room. This can sometimes be more effective than saying that there are no such things as monsters. Remember to start with a calming bedtime routine. You can also promise your child to check in on him every few minutes like the example above.
4. Your Child wakes up during the night,most children wake up during the night and fall back asleep. If your child is having difficult falling back asleep during the night it might be because he is too stressed by the time his cries reach you. Usually by the time a child’s cries reach the parent he’s already gone through a series of anxious reactions. The initial part of waking up and being alone, then waiting for the parent’s attention, then probably some mild stress and crying which would be easier to comfort then finally full stressful cries that reach the parent. By this time can make it more difficult for him to calm down quickly.
- What you can do: If you want you can give your child access to get out of bed and come to you during the night. If your child wakes up during the night and needs reassurance he can simply come over to your room and will usually fall asleep without too much fuss. If you can’t do that then try to install a baby monitor so you can hear his initial cries, give him a couple of minutes to settle himself back to sleep. If you feel he is reaching that stressful point then try to go comfort him. You can first try by just being at the doorway so your child doesn’t try to get out of bed and offer reassurance that you are there and can hear him. If that isn’t comforting enough then try standing by your child’s bed, offer reassurance and remind him softly that it’s time for bed. It will take a few times till your child develops a pattern of secure experiences and feels OK when he wakes up alone.
Suggested Bedtime Routine
- Try to have a similar routine every night. Not only is the routine important but it’s important to stick to the time schedule so that your child’s biological clock gets used to it. Remember that your child is still growing so his sleep routines and patterns will need adjusting. He may need to wake up earlier or need to stop napping to sleep through the night.
- Give your child a heads up that bedtime is after your last evening activity; dinner, playtime, etc.
- Make sure the TV is off and the house is quiet within the hour before bedtime. Most importantly make sure you are calm and not rushed. Children can pick up easily on adults’ emotions.
- You can give a warm bath or read a story in bed before bedtime to calm down your child. Each child is different, you need to figure out which activity calms your child best.
- Spend a few minutes next to your child just lying there. Make sure bedtime is as boring as possible. Put away any toys or distractions from the bed. You can try humming some songs or softly speaking to your child about his day. This can help him relax and fall asleep.
- Make sure your child has his favorite security toy next to him in case he wakes up or leave the door open. Use which ever method you choose that works best to help him fall back asleep. If you don’t mind letting him come to your bed at night then make sure he can easily get out of his own bed and walk to your room if he wakes up.
- Remember be consistent and patient. If you give in that sends a message to your child that if he whines or cries long enough then he gets his way. It can be hard and exhausting, try to approach each day with a new perspective, there could be a different reason why he’s having trouble going to bed. Figuring out the problem can help you save time and energy to avoid a power struggle and bedtime tears.
Suggested Bedtime Reading
Goodnight moon is a classic and the perfect book for bedtime. Say goodnight to everything in little rabbit’s room; the mittens, the mouse, the porridge and the moon. You can include your own goodnights to things in your child’s own room or people who were with you in your day.
Photo from isayx3
Article reference from Mayo Clinic