You've heard it a million times before: self-care is important. You know you need to take care of yourself. You know you should. But, it's hard to get started. Where can you find time? What can you do? I'm not an expert, but let's chat.
It's important because it's hard to care for others if you are depleted yourself. How can you be happy when you tired, hungry, and bored? It's hard. I'm might even say impossible at times.
Okay, I'll cut to the chase. Here are some things you (should) do for yourself:
Transitioning from summer vacation back to school can be super hard on kids. They get used to the lazy, busy, fun, summer way of life and school seems like a run through the gauntlet for most. Although many are okay with this change, there are some kids who are just not having it. It's an issue when behaviors pop up because they are refusing to go back to school or even talk about it.
Here are some things you can do to help your child make a smooth transition back to the education machine we refer to as school:
1. Talk about it: Bring it up everyday. What are you looking forward to? What do you think will be hard? What can we do about that? What are some things you need to do or have to be successful in school this year? What do you think your teacher will be like? Are you excited to make new friends or are you content with your current friends?
2. What's really bothering them?: The hard work involved in school and home work? The other kids? The teachers? Not knowing what to expect? If you know why they are balking about going back, maybe there are steps you can take to get them ready. Is it a bully? Dress it. Is it the work? Reassure them that they've always been able to do it before. Practice some math and reading in the car while you're on vacation. Is it not knowing? Schedule a visit to the school. Sometimes seeing who and what can make the difference for a child who's worried.
3. Make it seem awesome: Talk about school like it's the best thing since sliced bread. I bet you can't wait to see your friends! I heard school lunches this year are going to be awesome! Maybe I can come eat with you sometime. I'm going to surprise you in your lunchbox with something cool every week. I can't wait to see what you think!! I bet your teacher is going to love that you can (insert cool talent, knowledge here). Let's go to the playground at your school. You'll know how to play with everything before school starts and you can show your friends.
Just remember that everyone feels differently. Maybe you can remember when you were a kid and it was time to go back to school. Were you excited and nervous at the same time? Were you dreading it? Did you count down the days until you could be back because you loved it so much? Maybe you can relate to your child, maybe you can't. Either way, it's important to let them know that you understand that they feel a certain way and you are there for them. What can you do to help your child go back to school feeling safe and successful? Happy Behaving!
Dealing with challenging behavior is, well, challenging. It can be overwhelming to say the least. It makes you want to stay at home and avoid public adventures as often as possible. But, there comes a time when you must go out with your child. Here it comes: listening to your child scream and yell and flop on the floor; or having your child yell about all the times you've beaten her when you've never even spanked her; or refusing to move when it's time to go.
What makes this worse is when others stare and point. Don't others realize that it's hard enough dealing with this behavior without having to worry about others making things worse? Some behavior in kids can be reinforced by this kind of attention from others. It might even make your child more angry to see people stare.
These outsiders looking in don't know the circumstances surrounding the situation. Your child may have a diagnosis that causes these behaviors or makes dealing with situations difficult for them. You could be working on decreasing the behavior, which sometimes causes it to get worse before it get better.
The point of this rant is to not let what other people do affect how you treat your child's behavior. If you need to ignore the tantrum so it will eventually stop happening, do it! Let them look. If your child is yelling and you need to escort them outside, let them look. People need to mind their own business. It doesn't matter the reason for the behavior, but gawking is never helpful. So when you see a parent dealing with their child's challenging behavior, don't do anything. They don't want your pity or your help. They just want to move on. You should too.
Does your child fuss about almost everything you cook or offer him to eat? Does he change his mind about what he likes to eat on a regular basis? Does it have to look a certain way?
If you find that you spend most of your meal planning crying in frustration and most of your meal time bribing your child to eat, then you may need to take a deeper look at the situation.
There are a few reasons why your child may be a picky eater. One reason could be a sensory issue. It could be a matter of texture, smell, or some other sensory concern. If you think sensory issues could play a role in your child's pickiness, call the doctor to talk about the options you have.
Another reason could be anxiety. Will your child only eat food made at home? Only food made by a certain person? Only certain foods? Anxiety could make your child feel nervous about new foods and new places to eat foods or any other food related activities that he is unsure about.
Children also become picky eaters for behavioral reasons. If it's not his favorite, he doesn't feel like eating it. Do you feel like a short order cook at times? Making five different meals for everyone at the table?
To deal with anxiety related pickiness, try charts, rewards, and baby steps. Sit down with your child and make a list of things that he will eat now. Make a goal together. It could be that he will eat one new food each week, or month, or quarter. Now, what reward will be get for trying the new food? Maybe his favorite supper the next day? A small edible treat after he tries it? Make sure you write down any foods on a chart that you make. Keep track of how many times he tries it. Have him rate the food on a 1-10 scale. It can take up to ten times of trying a food to know if you like it or now. And, when he likes a food, put it on his 'I eat these foods' chart. That way when you make it and he says bleh, you can point to the chart and say, "Well, too bad, because it says here you like it and you'll eat it." And, when something ranks a 7 or higher on the scale, to us, it means that it can be eaten, but it's certainly not a favorite. Maybe he could have less of that food on his plate than everybody else.
If restaurants are scary, you can ease into it. Talk about what's available at the restaurant, order it, and bring it home to eat. The next time, choose what you will order before you leave home. Let your child choose the restaurant (unless it's always McDonalds), but encourage him to choose a different one once in awhile. After your child gets comfortable with the first restaurant, choosing another one may still be hard. Start over with the new restaurant if you need to, by ordering out first and then eating in the next time. Take it slow. Don't be surprised if he orders the same thing every time. That's okay. After awhile, try to encourage him to try something different, even if it's a different drink or a different kind of fries.
Now, if pickiness is behavioral, you'll have to be firm and consistent. You can use the chart mentioned above for starters. Then, when you know your child likes what you've cooked, you can remind him that it's on the chart. Make sure the food is the only one you offer (if he likes it). If he declines the meal, say you'll save it for later when he's hungry. You aren't denying him food, just saving the same meal for later. He's not going to like it. He may tantrum and cry. But, stand strong. You know he likes it and there's no reason he can't eat it. Try having each person in the family choose a meal on a particular night of the week. This will give your child control over meal times on his day.
1. Look up recipes together.
2. Have your child help prepare or cook the meal.
3. Make small changes to meals you already cook: for example, choose shoe string fries over crinkle cut fries.
4. Have only one fallback meal for your child. If you do cook something you know your child doesn't like, have an alternative such as peanut butter toast or beans; something that offers nutrition but isn't a completely different meal that you have to cook.
5. Leftovers can also be an option.
6. Be patient. Sometimes kids are just picky eaters. It took me until I was nearly an adult to be able to try new foods and eat more of a variety.
Join us next week. Have specific questions or concerns? Let us know and we'll tackle them here at ABC Behave! Sign up for our newsletter. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Happy Behaving!
The way you talk to your kids is super important in managing behavior. It can mean the difference between a power struggle and your kid doing just what you want. Check out these two examples: (Which one do you think will get better results?)
You also need to remember manners. You are your child's first, greatest, and best teacher. Make sure you are showing her how you want her to behave. Use please and thank you and don't forget to watch your tone. Using manners is how we show that we respect our children and how we show our children how to respect us.
Be specific with your child. Don't use "Don't." Or Stop. Or Quit.
Make sure your child knows exactly what you mean when you give her a direction.
Check out these examples:
When you use words such as 'don't,' 'stop,' or 'quit,' you are tell her she can do anything but what you just said not to do. But, when you tell her what you want her to do, you are telling her exactly what to do. There's no room for interpretation here. When you say, "Walk," she doesn't here, "Skip" or "Jump." She hears "Walk."
Here are some phrases that can be lost in translation:
Be nice: Clarify what this looks like. Being nice can mean a lot of things. Make sure your child knows what you mean by 'be nice.'
Find something to do: Do you really want to leave that direction wide open? Give them more direction than that. Tell them what to do. Give them choices. Help them figure out what to do.
Wait till your father gets home!: What? Why? Consequences should be immediate and related to the behavior. And, it takes respect away from you when you relinquish that "power" to the other parent. If she does something that requires a consequence, give her one that relates to what she has done. Keep that respect. And, make her earn hers by following through on the directions that you give her.
Praise: Make sure you are praising your child. Use specific phrases that tell your child what was good about what she did.
"Wow, you worked so hard on that assignment."
"It's so helpful to me when you set the table."
"I bet your brother loves it when you play ball with him."
Sometimes we tend to tell our children when they are 'misbehaving.'
"Pick up your clothes."
If you never praise your child, all she'll hear from you will be negative scoldings. It's okay to tell her what not to do, but make sure you're telling her what she's doing that makes you proud.
Also, make sure your child hears you and understands your directions. Get her attention and make eye contact. Tell her exactly what you want and follow through. Soon the mutual respect will be seeping out the windows of your house, car, camper, or whatever you're living in that has windows!
I'm going to get a little technical today, but I'll do it first, just to get it out of the way. Antecedents. It's not a common word, but it is one that we've dealt with plenty of times, especially if we have misbehaving children. An antecedent is anything that happens before a behavior occurs. It could trigger a positive or negative behavior or nothing at all. Most of us call antecedents triggers. The only difference is that some antecedents won't trigger behavior.
But, I digress. Here are some examples of antecedents (triggers):
Antecedent #1: "Time for a snack," Mom yells. Kids come running to the table and sit for a snack.
Antecedent # 2: "No, it's not time for a snack," Mom tells them.
"I'm HUNGRY! I WANT A SNACK!" the kids yell while they cry.
Antecedent #3: "Are you hungry?" Mom asks.
"No, not really," the child answers.
We sometimes refer to antecedents as triggers because they trigger a behavior to happen.
Saying "no" may cause your child to tantrum. Taking a toy away may cause your child to cry. Going to a loud party may cause your child to withdraw. Giving your child a hug may cause her to relax and smile.
Sometimes triggers aren't obvious, such as when we go out in public and sights, sounds, and touches may cause the behavior to surface. Sometimes we don't see it because we aren't in the same room.
Once we do figure out what the trigger is, we can try to fix the situation. There are times when we can get rid of the trigger and try to ease into the situation so the trigger isn't as affecting. An example of this might be using a warning to let your child know she has five minutes left until it's time to leave.
Other times, we can't remove he trigger. People will say no; we will have to go to the store at some point; or we just can't control everything. That's when we need to help our children learn what to do when this happens.
Example: Mark always gets upset when he has to stop watching TV. Here are some suggestions.
Think about what triggers your child's challenging behavior. Is there anything you can do to prevent it? If not, how can you help your child deal with the situation when he doesn't like it?
If it helps, write down your thoughts and observations and see if you can find a pattern. Things aren't always as they seem! Join me next week :) Happy behaving!!
Sensory issues can cause many behavior challenges. Being overstimulated or having aversions to many things in the environment can cause children to over-react to simple tasks or activities.
Google says that 'sensory' is an adjective that means relating to sensation or the physical senses; transmitted or perceived by the senses. WebMD says that when a person has a sensory processing disorder (SPD), his brain has trouble receiving and responding to information from the senses. Mayo Clinic says that children who have problems tolerating or processing sensory information are affected in areas such as touch, balance, and hearing.
SPD is NOT a medical diagnosis. Some occupational therapists will incorporate sensory activities within their sessions. There are many names for SPD, varying forms of it, and some treatments implemented for it, such as Oral Tactile Technique (OTT), Deep Pressure and Proprioceptive Technique (DPPT), as well as Tactile Defensiveness and 'sensory overload.' Although research has NOT shown any effectiveness in receiving sensory therapy, many children see benefits from participating.
Children who have been diagnosed as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) commonly experience sensory issues. But, any child can present with symptoms of a sensory challenge. Any parent who has a child with sensory processing difficulties can tell you that it is a daily frustration and struggle to help your child. They yell and have tantrums because things don't feel good. They avoid places and activities because it's too loud, too bright, or they worry about what they'll have to do their. Behavior due to sensory challenges is often seen as defiance.
When my son was younger, he would cry each time I cut his fingernails. He said it hurt even though I knew I wasn't doing anything that would hurt him. He hated having his hair washed; water on his face was a disaster. He didn't like his hands to be dirty especially with slimy things and I had to cut the tags out of all his clothes. For awhile, he would only wear 'soft pants,' (sweat pants, workout pants, etc.).
I finally was able to get an Occupational Therapy evaluation for him (mostly due to the fact that he also had many food aversions such as not eating any fruits or vegetables; not eating a cracker if it was broken; etc.). They recommended the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol (WBP).
I was skeptical at first, but after just a few times I almost cried with joy! I could cut his fingernails and wash his hair! And, he didn't even cry. I don't know why it worked but it did. It's been years now, and he is much better than he used to be. I only used the WBP for the recommended few weeks. We still struggle with aversions to food but it's better than it was.
If your child has a diagnosis, please follow your doctor's instructions. Work with your child's team of Occupational, Speech, and Physical Therapists. Learn as much as you can about the disorder and stay current on new approaches. Ask the therapists to teach you and watch them, so when they are gone, you can help your child. Find support groups where like-minded parents can share and listen to your challenges.
Other families try art therapy, music therapy, or even special diets. Find what works for your child. This could change at some point so stay aware of your child's behavior before and after the therapies.
Here are some things to look for:
If you have concerns about your child's sensory needs, please speak with your pediatrician or family doctor. It's important to find out what is causing these challenges and, if possible, have a professional team assisting you in treating your child.
Here are some activities that have worked in our house:
Disclaimer: I am NOT an OT, PT, or Doctor. I cannot give medical advice. This blog is about what works with my children and some other children. Only you and your doctor can decide what works best for your child and your family.
Please see mymundaneandmiraculouslife.com for more great information on sensory challenges.
Go to www.abcbehave.com and sign up for the weekly newsletter to find out more tricks and tips you can use to combat sensory challenges that cause unwanted behaviors.
We all know routines are important. How important? Well, we have routines at work, in classrooms, at the doctor's office, and at the grocery store. Even athletes have routines. If they are important enough for all these instances, then why don't we use them more at home?
Your kids come home from school and other than getting their homework done, is there anything else you expect of them? Do they just watch TV, go outside and play, or talk or text on the phone with a friend?
Leaving activities to a whim can open the door to conflict, fighting, and trouble-making (and whining and complaining about boredom,too). It doesn't always, but do you want to take that chance?
Children like knowing what to expect. Actually, I like knowing what to expect! It's calming and gives a sense of control.
It's easy to incorporate a routine. Just think about how you want your day to go and write it down. Do the kids have three hours between getting home and supper time? Fill it up with constructive activities: snacks, homework, outside time, TV, and setting the table. Write it down on a chart you can pick up from the dollar store. Now, everyone knows what to expect and everyone has their sh@*t done!
1. Involve the kids in creating the routines.
2. Make is visual: Pics, lists, and charts.
3. Make it work for everyone!
Check back next week: Next on the schedule: Sensory!
Chores have generally been part of a great deal of households around the country for quite some time. Children in the first part of the twentieth century helped with farm chores. Decades later, children cleaned their houses, delivered newspapers, and watched siblings. Today, the lines have been blurred between what children should be doing and what they are doing.
Blah, blah, blah. I won't bore you with gibberish you already know about. You obviously feel that giving your children chores is a good thing or you wouldn't be reading this. So, to save time, here are some tips for getting the job done:
Join me next week for info about Routines.
Is it worth it?
Most kids hate chores, mine included. We've tried doing chores in the past, but I get lazy and don't follow through. Then the chore-doing sorts of fades out like a used sparkler on the Fourth of July.
Fast forward. They are 9 and 11 and I feel as though they should help out more. I'm not going to lie: it bugs the crap out of me to see them watching tv or playing the wii or fooling around while I'm busting my butt cleaning and picking up. I mean, I definitely do my fair share of cleaning, but shouldn't they help set the table that they'll be eating supper on? Shouldn't they empty their backpacks when they get home from school? Shouldn't they do a lot of things?
Instead of just telling them to go find something to do while I cleaned up, I enlisted the help of a chore chart. Ms. Chore Chart was helpful; to a point. I still had to put effort in to getting the kids to start and finish their chores. I reminded them at 7:00 p.m. that I'd be coming around at 8:00 p.m. to 'inspect' their chore-doing. And, when I came and checked and the chores weren't done, I'd tell them to come do __________ while I stood there. I didn't leave until the chore was done.
This last time around, we were off to a great start. They finished the chores everyday before check in time. That lasted about 2 weeks. Then they apparently decided that the $2/week I offered them for chore doing wasn't worth it.
What was I to do? I could make them and listen to whining and fussing and put lots of effort into nagging them to do it. Or I could just do it myself. It would be a lot easier. But, what would that teach them? Absolutely nothing. My purpose for chore doing is to teach responsibility and follow through.
So, I told them that the chores were mandatory. They have to put their clean and dirty clothes away, keep their rooms picked up, read, and do their homework. There are a few other optional chores that can get paid for such as setting the table and helping to clean up after dinner. My new rule is: you have to do the mandatory chores (hence mandatory) but if I have to ask you to do them or stand around while you do them, you don't get paid for it. So essentially, you are working for free if I have to tell you to get your chores done.
There have been a couple of nights when one or the other of the kids couldn't write their initials on the chart for chore-doing. But, those days are far and few between. I guess they appreciate getting paid for what they do.
And, someday when they have their own place, I'll rest easy knowing they are at least capable of cleaning it. Whether they do it or not, well, that's another question.
Click on the button for more ideas on how to get your kids to do their chores.