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
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
The joy of reading is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. Letting your imagination go as you read through the words is an amazing feeling. Get your child into reading early on. You can start introducing books at a very early age, as young as 3 month. Here are some tips on how to choose appropriate books for your infant, toddler and preschooler. With a list of some of my favorites for every age. Enjoy!
Reading with Baby
Birth to 6 months
At this age try to choose books that are either cloth or board books. Avoid paper pages, they’re difficult for babies to turn and will tear immediately. Look for books with high contrast colors with simple, clear and big pictures with a character or two in each page. While reading through the book remember to point your finger at the object you’re describing. This way your baby understands what you’re talking about. Books at this age don’t need to have any text, you can improvise each time you read the story making it a new experience every time! Make sure to give your baby the opportunity to look through the book on his own as well and practice turning the pages.
Fuzzy Bee and Friends (Cloth Book) by Roger Priddy
Is a soft and colorful cloth book. Your baby can enjoy touching and squeezing the different insects in the book.
Baby Animals Black and While (Board Book) by Phyllis Limbacher
These high contrast black and white images will grab your baby’s attention while you talk to her about the animals.
6 – 18 Months
Babies at this age start enjoying more color in books as well as feeling different textures. Again stick to cloth or board books and include books with colorful and simple images. Add more books with textures, tactile experiences add pleasure to your baby’s reading experience and foster sensory exploration. Introduce books that encourage object labeling and everyday life.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? (Board Book) by Bill Jr Martin and Eric Carle Your baby will enjoy reading this book into her preschool years.
Touch and Feel Baby Animals by Dorling Kindersley
This book has beautiful and clear photographs of different animals. As well as different textures for each of them that your baby can enjoy touching.
Reading with your Toddler
18 Months to 2.5 Years
At around 2 years children start experiencing a language boom when words just start flowing and your toddler starts expressing himself easier. Toddlers can understand everything way before they can express themselves. Books that have more detail, a story line and encourage participation are perfect for toddlers. Lift-the-Flap books are great fun for kids and help develop fine motor skills. Encourage your child to lift the flaps and guess what’s under. You’ll soon find your child joining in with load exclamations of “YES” “NOoo” “It’s a LION” as you read along. Look for books that label familiar people and emotions, as well as books full of rhyme and rhythm. Point out objects that you see in your life. Try rhyming funny and made up words. Remember to often point to the text and images as you read.
For a great list of books for toddlers Click Here!
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss
This classic is full of fun characters and Dr Seuss signature rhymes. New editions are available as Lift-the-Flap books as well.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Watch how this caterpillar make it’s way through all sorts of yummy items and transforms into a butterfly.
Reading with Your Preschooler
2 .5 to 5 Years
Your child is developing very fast now. Language both expressive and receptive is increasing, your child is picking up more and more words and mimicking your sentences. At this age children also start enjoying dramatic and imaginative play. They are also developing skills like sharing and empathy. Books with imaginative and make belief characters are great for this age. Try to include books that foster creativity and imagination as well as those that represent real life situations your child can relate to. Books with a story-line and carry a message like sharing, kindness, etc can be engaging for children. Include your child in the storytelling experience by asking him what will happen next or to make up his own story.
For a great list of books for your preschooler Click Here!
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
A beautiful and imaginative classic.
Things That Go! by Richard Scarry
Your child will spend hours enjoying Richard Scarry’s illustrations and discovering new details every time!
I hope this gives you some tips on choosing books for your child at different stages. These are just guidelines for choosing books that children will generally be interested in. Remember to consider your child’s interests and developmental abilities when choosing books.
What do you think ? What are your child’s favorite books?
Picture from Toddler Lesson Plans
This article was featured on Mother & Child Magazine in English and Arabic
Every parent has been in this position where you are tired, hungry, just came home from work and need to shower, make dinner or just take a break! Problem: Your baby is asking for entertainment. Solution: the TV!
A little amount of TV never hurt anyone. However, television has become the “virtual nanny” for many parents. Children eat, play or read while the TV is on. Often resulting in hours of television viewing,
What's the Problem?
The problem is that television viewing takes away from human interaction, which is how your baby is designed to learn and develop. Actually the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV exposure for children under 2!. A recent study showed that every hour of TV that a child under 3 watches per day increases the chance of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnosis by 10%.This is most likely because of the fact that in those early years your child’s brain is still developing. The frontal lobes which are important for working memory and keeping things in mind are not yet fully developed, TV programs with changing scenes or those interrupted by commercials may seem like separate scenes with no coherent link to your child.
Remember the huge Baby Einstein and “educational videos” craze? Well, in reality there is no scientific research to back up that these videos benefited children at all! On the contrary research has shown that exposure to such “baby videos” among infants 8-16 months was strongly associated with lower scores on standard language development test. While on toddlers ages 17-24 months no significant effects, either positive or negative, were noticeable.
It’s worth mentioning that in 2009 the Walt Disney Company offered refunds to parents for all those “Baby Einstein” videos that didn’t make their children smarter!
However, reading to your child daily and storytelling were found to be associated with somewhat higher language scores for toddlers. Young children need human interaction for learning. This coincides with Dr. Kuhl’s findings on language development in a very interesting experiment showing that babies lean language sounds from a person not a video recording of a person. In the experiment she exposed babies to a person reading a story in Mandarin or the baby would listen to a tape recording of a person reading the books. A third option was watching a video of a person reading a story in Mandarin.
The results? The babies only learned the Mandarin sounds from the live person!
So,What Can You Do?
- Read stories and sing songs with your baby. This well help develop your child’s language and attention span. As well as being a first step to literacy.
- Use an activity center with your infant. Exploring, pushing buttons, grasping and pulling objects will help develop your baby’s cognitive skills, fine and gross motor skills, understand cause and effect and just have fun.
- If your child is a fussy eater, try feeding her during meal time. Seeing Mom and Dad sitting and eating at the table may influence her eating habits.
- Have your toddler play with some Tupperware while you are in the kitchen. This activity helps foster spatial visualization ability by placing objects inside each other and fine and gross motor skills when grasping objects and putting the lid on and off.
- Involve your toddler or preschooler in everyday household activities. While cooking your child can peel an onion for you or help you pour. If you are going shopping he can help point out where items on the list are on the shelves. There are so many options! Remember that what you do in a few minutes can be endlessly entertaining and a fun learning experience for your child.
I have to say that not all TV watching is bad. There are wonderful shows that do have an educational aspect to them.
How to Choose an Appropriate TV Show?
- First, monitor what your child is exposed to. Avoid shows with violence or upsetting scenes. Research has shown that children who are exposed to TV violence may become numb to it and gradually accept it as a way to solve problems.
- For very young children below 3, choose shows that don’t have too many changing scenes or a cluttered background. A show were there is a static background and a main character talking directly to your child about objects that pop out onto the screen clearly is a good option. This format helps your child stay focused on the character and can understand clearly that when she hears the word “banana” and sees a picture of a banana on the screen that these two are related.
How to Watch TV with Your Child?
- Television watching can be an active experience not just a passive one. Watch programs together and encourage your child to sing and dance along with the characters on the show.
- Ask your child about what’s going on ? what does he thinks will happen next? point out new objects. This well help turn TV watching into a shared activity and is an opportunity for your child to learn new words.
- Use new and funny words that you learnt while watching TV. “Supercalafragalisticexpialadoshus” from the movie Mary Poppins comes to mind 🙂
- After television, come up with activities like drawing or outings around things seen in the show.
I hope this gives a new perspective to the use of television with your children 🙂