Child practitioners know how to interact with young children, they ask them direct questions and wait for a response. It's very easy for parents, standing with their child, to hear a question, whether it be asked by a childminder or teacher, or a friend or relative, and to answer the question on behalf of the child. It's so easy to do this that it can be pretty difficult not to. Try to avoid doing this though, it really is important that children learn to engage in conversation and that they learn to listen, interpret and respond to questions in their own right.
As a parent, you don't want to show up your child, or have them stuck in an awkward situation where they don't understand a question. This is such an important part of language development though that you really aren't doing them any favours when you respond on their behalf.
When granny asks 'What have you been doing today?', or the childminder asks 'Is it sunny outside?', there's a really high probability that they already know the answer. Adults are sympathetic to the knowledge of young children and don't ask searching questions requiring a comprehensive, in-depth, analytical response. They are asking in order to engage with the child, to help build a bond and in order to allow the child to practice language. The enquirer isn't usually looking for a definitive answer, they probably aren't even interested in the correct answer; instead they simply want to hear the answer in the child's own words. If parents wade in with the answer then they are denying the child the opportunity to speak for themselves.
If you recognise this behaviour in yourself then try to spot it in your interactions with those around your children. If you are aware that you are doing it, then you will be able to pause, think about it, and then stop before giving an answer. If it's a deep rooted habit that you have developed then it may take a little time to coax yourself away from it, but you will get there eventually.
There's nothing more distracting than your having your children misbehave, particularly when out in public, but what can you do to improve their behaviour? Here are a few tips to help guide them back to begin good, before things get out of hand!
So many people claim that children's unruly behaviour is down to them having 'ADHD' but can bad behaviour in a child be simply explained away by labeling them with such a tag? For some children the diagnosis of 'Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder' is accurate, but for so many it's just not the case.
What is it? ADHD is a medical term which originally comes from the North American Psychiatric Association.
It is said that ADHD effects up to three percent of the population. It is usually associated with boys rather than girls.
A child has ADHD if:
But even children who demonstrate all or some of these things are not necessarily suffering from ADHD. It needs to be repeated, unintentional behaviour and diagnosed by a professional. If you think your child might be suffering have a chat to the teacher, doctor or health professional for advice and help.
There is obviously no single answer to the question of why children bully one another, but usually it comes down to being someone who is blind to the needs of others and overly sensitive to their own needs. Bullying is a type of behavior and with that in mind, it can be either inherent or learned. Inherent behavior is what a child is born with. Learned behavior is something that the child has learned from others.
If your child is a bully, you need to think about whether he or she is a born bully or has learned this behavior. It may be a mix of both.
Born Bully - A born bully starts bullying when he or she is a toddler. It can be only occasional and only mild bullying, but nonetheless, if there is evidence of bullying from an early age, and there is no apparent case of learned bullying from other sources, it can be concluded the bullying is inherent. The solution is to seek guidance from a therapist, child psychologist or psychiatrist.
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) manifests itself through impatient, impulsive, energetic and aggressive behaviour. This may take the form of bullying but is slightly different.
Learned Bully - A calm child may turn into a bully once he or she learns bullying from another source and copies.
Non Permanent Bully
Some children bully occasionally: they may have recently suffered a trauma such as a death of a parent, a divorce, the birth of a new sibling or being under pressure.
Long Term Bullies: why do they do it?
Many children go through a stage, as they develop, where they take to biting objects, but worse, they start biting you and other children. This can be caused by a number of different factors:-
What can you do?
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is a neurobehavioural condition affecting up to 3% children and is more common in boys. The symptoms of ADHD can be highly disruptive and have a severe impact on early development, they fall into three main areas:
To get a diagnosis of ADHD symptoms must
This is where a child:
Low self-esteem as children don't want to play with them
Isolation because friends seem not to be accommodating and lose interest/patience
Educational success can be impacted as they don't hear lessons or understand instructions
The child often:
socially clumsy as they speak without thinking
barge into games so spoils other peole's fun
have mood swings and be volatile
lash out when frustrated
embarrass parents or hurt them with their words and actions especially in company
underachieve at school because they rush or don't listen to the whole question
The child often:
Forgets rules of a game and makes silly mistakes so other children avoid them
Exasperates parents when they do not do as told
Inattention at school could lead to inability to grasp handwriting or doing structured work
However, there is evidence to suggest that early diagnosis and management of the condition may help avoid long term consequences. The main challenge for professionals is to diagnose, treat and support the children and families.
Every child is different, every parent is different, moods change, circumstances change, we all react differently; so why should positive parenting work in all cases for all children of all ages?
Positive parenting means dealing with a child's behavioural in a calm and fair way. It means focusing on the good rather than the bad behaviour and rewarding accordingly. Does your child get more attention when they are behaving well or when they are being badly? If the answer is 'when they are being naughty', then you may wish to read on and look at some ways of addressing this and putting a more positive spin on your parenting.
Why does it work?
It works because it builds on a child's desire to please you. They remember how they feel when they pleased you, and they like it and they want it to continue. It may work slightly differently for different children or ages, but in principal its the same for all.
How does it work?
Tips for Positive Parenting:
Don't resort to severe punishment in every case. Keep in mind that the children are learning and pushing boundaries to see what they can get away with. It's our responibility to show them what they can and can't do, and to help them learn this so they make their own decisions about behaviour.
Children learn from their surroundings, and are informed by the people the interact with, parents, teachers and carers - make sure that your children are being given a model example because otherwise they will pick up traits and habits that you don't like!
Table manners present a host of unwritten rules that we want children to abide by: remain seated until everyone has finished; finish all the food on your plate; no toys at the table; eat with your cutlery; arms and elbows off the table. You may wish to impress some or all of these rules but whatever your stance, make sure that you follow them yourself. Your children won't understand if they aren't allowed toys at the table but that you use your mobile phone at the table. Why should they eat everything on their plate if you don't finish everything on yours? Why should they remain seated if you disappear mid-meal to make a phone call, start washing the dishes or take on another chore?
This illustrates just how easy it is to contradict yourself, and can is mirrored in many other areas of a young toddlers life! Be aware of such contradictions in any regimented environment where we expect our children to conform to rules or manners, and especially to the language that we use and the ways in which we address others. If we lead by example then our children will naturally follow.
It may seem draconian to institute 'house rules', but if children are expected to behave in certain ways, you have to let them know what the rules are! House rules are those simple rules that ask your family to comply in certain ways, such as always taking shoes off when you get home, washing your hands before meals, remaining at the dinner table until you have finished your meal, keeping your bedroom tidy and so on.
When teaching your children the discipline you wish them to follow, you need to state your rules clearly. There's no need to write them down, indeed, young children won't be able to read them even if you do! But giving clear guidance as to what they should or should not be doing makes it easier for your children to learn and abide by your rules.
House rules might be based on manners or good behaviour; growing children learn by knowing what the rules are or where boundaries lie. Once they have a clear set of rules in mind, their broader behaviour will also be guided by these principles. Many rules will be obvious and simply reinforce good behaviour, you may have your own quirky rules that other parents might not apply; there's no harm in that at all, but do ensure that you apply any such rules consistently in your own home.
It is quite legitimate that parents be exempted from rules - children must learn that adults enjoy privileges that they one day will also grow into. However, if the rules don't apply to yourself or other adults in your home, then make sure that your children are aware of this so that they don't see non-compliance from adults as a green light to ignore rules themselves!
What's the best way to handle the situation when your toddler says a bad word and why did they say it in the first place?
Using bad language is fairly common in toddlers. They pick up new words from other children at nursery or school and suddenly you hear them say things you've never heard before! Using a bad word is a way of expressing frustration or anger. They may say it because they think it's funny or because their best friend at school said it. But, what ever the reason behind saying that word, your reaction is the most important thing.
How to react
Make sure you don't use bad language either... watch what you say because they will hear, copy and think it acceptable to be like you!
Most parenting books tell you about the "terrible twos" - those crazy, unpredictable days of unannounced tantrums, yelling and screaming in the shopping queue for no apparent reason and the sensational throwing oneself to the floor in an anguished rage! Fast forward three years as your child has just started school and you may discover some of those dreadful memories coming back to haunt you. Five year olds with "attitude", answering back, rolling their eyes in despair. It is probably more frustrating for parents: a two year old is just a baby; a five year old should know better. But, it seems common.
The reasons behind this strange character change could be numerous. Your five year old has just started school and is discovering their own independence. They want to act grown-up in front of their friends and are being exposed to more grown up behaviour from school friends. They are realising that they have an opinion and that they can make themselves heard.
What can be done to ease the tension? Give them the chance to feel in control of some situations. Let them make a few decisions: dinner menu, which park to go to, where to shop. This will make them feel empowered.
Reward them when they are good. Positive enforcement is very valuable and has great results. Even get them a reward chart and make sure you stick on a sticker each time good behaviour is spotted. For free customised sticker charts log in to ToucanLearn.com and go to Fun Stuff! Get your child to choose the picture to illustrate the chart and even go with you to buy the stickers.
Use avoidance tactics to avert a problem before it happens! Try and distract a potential bad mood with something fun or constructive to do together.
Children certainly know which buttons to press to annoy us. But, shouting and losing control (however tempting) is not the way to deal with a child who is misbehaving. There is one technique that can bring excellent results: the humble sticker chart!
The sticker chart is a great way to give positive attention to a child when they have been especially good. Simply add a new sticker to a chart each time you see good behaviour and remove one if you see bad behaviour. Display the chart somewhere your child will see it: on the fridge or a wardrobe door.
Firstly, explain to your child what the chart is about. Children love stickers: they are colourful, easy for them to use, and when they are awarded a sticker they always feel special. Perhaps allow your child to choose which stickers they can use for their chart. Write their name clearly on the chart or add a photo. Make sure they understand how it will work!
Sticker charts work for all sorts of occasions: potty training, eating well, doing school homework or just being good! In the run up to Christmas sticker charts are especially popular! Will Father Christmas see a chart full of good stickers and leave lots of presents?
Sign up at ToucanLearn and log in for some great sticker charts that you can customize yourself and a super sticker chart ready for Christmas. The kids will love them!
Here are some tips:
Should you be concerned if your child has an imaginary friend? Absolutely not! Many children foster imaginary friends at various stages of their childhood, sometimes the same friend will persist for years. Research suggests that imaginary friends are created by intellectually and intelligently superior children, although not all bright kids will create them. There is speculation that imaginary friends assist with the adoption of language and help to develop social skills because children will interact with their imaginary friends more than they might interact with their peers.
Imaginary friends will most usually be given a name and be attributed personality traits that may be quite different from those of your own children. Hollywood indulged in the behaviour of imaginary friends in Drop Dead Fred (1991), currently being remade for release in 2011, and even more famously, Harvey (1950), where the friend took the form of a giant 6-foot rabbit imagined by Elwood P. Dowd in the film and stage play of the same name.
Listening to your child interact with an imaginary friend can offer a wonderful insight into their feelings, concerns and interpretation of the world. Your children will allude to people, places and events in ways that they may not talk about openly with you. This could be the closest exposure you will have to their mind.
Make sure that imaginary friends don't form a barrier to your children socialising with other children and don't let your children use imaginary friends as an excuse to do things that they know are wrong but think they can get away with by apportioning blame onto their friend.
Now if you still have an imaginary friend, that could be a different matter...!
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