Saturday, February 28, 2015

When Toddlers Hit...

Toddlers hit sometimes.  They are expressing frustration.  They may have seen other people hit each other and so they think that is what people do when they are upset.  They may simply have no other tools to express themselves.  When toddlers hit, it is a teachable moment.  It is our opportunity to teach about kindness, respect for others and personal space boundaries.  Adults need to be intentional in their reactions to children hitting.  
  • Remain calm and concentrate on what you must teach your child.  It is embarrassing when your child is the one hitting the other children at a playdate or a birthday party.   Adults worry that no one will want to invite their child again.  We worry about the wrong thing.  Popularity shouldn’t be our primary concern.  Addressing the behavior and teaching our child should be the goal.  No child is perfect.  No parent is perfect.  Yours might be in the spotlight right now but in five minutes, another child will be crying or grabbing or running under the clothing racks.  Know that reacting physically to frustration is a typical toddler behavior.  Getting loud and upset will not help.  Take a deep breath and be aware that you are your child’s role model of self-control.
  • Make eye contact and calmly state the facts – “Hitting is not allowed.”  Keep your statements short, simple and consistent.  Anytime a behavior is not allowed, say that.  It’s simple and to the point.  Adults tend to talk too much and our children tune us out.  Today, you may be saying, “Hitting is not allowed” or “Running from me is not allowed.”  Someday, that will become, “Staying out past 10 pm is not allowed” or “Driving to the beach after prom is not allowed.”  You will spend many years setting boundaries.  The words that you use matter.  They should be factual, non-debatable and to the point. 
  • Replace the behavior with another, more acceptable option.  You cannot stop a behavior without replacing it.  You can tell your toddler not to hit, but that doesn’t tell them what to do when they are frustrated.  They hit because they had nothing else at their disposal.  Even the most verbal toddler may not be able to find the words they need when they are emotional.  Have you ever been so shocked or so upset that you are speechless?  You need to tell your toddler what to do next time.  Tell your children what to say in different situations and make them say it.  Teach your child to ask for items, tell others to stop or call for help.
  • Offer your help.  In our quest to raise independent children, we often forget to tell them that we are here to help.  That is an adult’s job – parent or teacher – to help.  We are their role models and guides.  No matter the situation, always tell your children that they can ask for your help.  They will ask if they know that you will be calm.
  • Do not teach them that touching gently is acceptable.  Have you ever seen an adult trying to teach a toddler to be gentle?  Often, they take the toddler’s hand and have them stroke the arm of another child.  The adult says, “This is nice.  Make nice.”  No.  It is not nice.  Young children do not understand personal boundaries and the adult is teaching them that crossing into another person’s space and touching is nice.  It is not nice to touch another person by hitting or by stroking or “petting” them gently.  Touching other people without invitation is not nice, period. 
  • Do teach children that their hands are for their own bodies, not other people’s bodies.  Gently take your child’s hands and bring them to their body.  Say, “Your hands are for your own body.”  Bring their hands to their chest so they can physically feel their hands at the core of their own body.  The multi-sensory lesson – hearing you say it and feeling it – will help them to remember.

Remember that your approach to your toddler’s behavior will set the stage for future interactions.  You want your children to know that you are approachable in good times and on difficult days.  When we yell, become emotional and intimidate our children when they are young, they are far less likely to come to us when they are teens and are upset or in trouble.  The pivotal moments in our relationships are when times are tough.  That time that your child hits another child at a birthday is a pivotal relationship moment.  Remain calm, instructive and helpful.  You will be glad that you did.

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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators - Helping Kids Achieve.
For information about private coaching for adults, youth, teens and families -  Helping Families Achieve with Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC

Copyright 2015 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved


Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.                                                                                             

Saturday, February 7, 2015

How Many Times Do I Have To Say It?

“Put the toy away.”
“Walk in the hallway.”
“Don’t slam the door.”
“Garbage goes in the garbage can.”
“Our hands are not for hitting.  Hitting hurts.”

How many times do I have to say it?  Many, many, sometimes hundreds of times.   Say it simply and kindly….and say it over and over again.

Young children are egocentric.  They see the world from only their point of view.  They will remember what they care about though, when you think about it, that’s true of all of us.  I can attend the same wedding as my husband and come home with different memories of the event.  Some things mattered to me and others mattered to my husband.  Thus, we have two different sets of memories from the same 5 hour span.  Children do not care about walking when they are in a rush to get somewhere.  They do not care about picking up their toys.  They hit to express frustration, and because it is their only way to communicate it.  We are here to teach them about appropriateness in different settings and about being kind, respectful of people & property and how to stay safe. It is our job to repeat ourselves.

“Hold my hand in the parking lot.”
“Don’t push people.”
“Be kind.”
“Don’t knock down the other person’s blocks.”
“Cover your mouth when you cough.”

How many times do I have to say it?  Over and over and over again.  Say it nicely and respectfully to model the respect you want to receive.

One day, one bright shining day, the child will realize that the day goes nicely when he/she makes a right choice.  You don’t know when that day will be and that’s the trick.  You have to say it over and over…until you don’t because you have seen the child do the right thing.  That is a joyous day and should be celebrated.  When the choice is a good one, notice and praise it.  In the meantime, keep saying it and wait for the sun to shine and for birds to sing and for "the day of the right choice" to be today.

“Let me know when you need help.”
“You are a fantastic person.”
“You should be so proud of yourself.”
“I love you.”

How many times do I have to say it?  Always and forever.  Repeating behavioral boundaries will morph and change with age.  Eventually, they will integrate the lessons and be adults who, hopefully, make more good choices than questionable ones.  Repeating their value in your life and in this world is never ending….

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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators - Helping Kids Achieve.
For information about private coaching for adults, youth, teens and families -  Helping Families Achieve with Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC
Copyright 2015 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved


Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.                                                                                             

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Teaching Children to Ask for Help


Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if everyone simply asked for help when they needed it?  There are so many stigmas attached to asking for help.  It is so hard for adults to accept when they need help that they suffer instead.  People don’t need to struggle alone with mental health issues.  There are professionals that can help.  Students don’t need to struggle with learning issues.  We live in a time of progressive special needs therapies and accommodations.  Adults drown in debt before they might be willing to reach out for financial counseling. 

I can’t help but wonder if resistance and feelings of fear & shame actually started when they were very young.  In our quest to make our children or our students independent, are we forgetting to teach them that we are here to help? 

In our preschools and at home, we should make “Come to me for help” one of the first strategies that we teach children.  Too often, I hear teachers and parents tell their children to go and figure it out without saying, “And I am here to help.”  As much as it is our job to teach our children to think and act independently, it is also our duty to teach them to accept assistance. 

The next time you are with a child and there is a dilemma, be mindful in your advice and reactions. Pay attention to the words you use, your tone of voice and body language.  Someday, that child might be an adult with a problem that seems so big that there seems to be no way out.  Teach children from the time that they are very young that they can come to you and go to other trusted advisors. Keep in mind that the lesson can only be learned if:
  • You advise without judgment.  When you judge and shame, children learn to keep their problems to themselves.  Discuss with your children what they might have done instead without demeaning them.  Remember that we all make mistakes and childhood is all about growing from them.
  • You are an example of accepting help.  As with all other things, we have to act as we want our children to act.  When I was a girl, my father would tell me not to smoke while he held a cigarette in his hand.  It was hard to take that advice seriously.  “Do what I say, not what I do” isn’t reality.  You cannot expect your child who is struggling with anxiety to seek support when you never did.  You cannot expect your child to accept extra help with school work if they’ve never seen you ask someone else to teach you something you didn’t know. 
  • You respect the privacy of children.  Children need to know that their private lives are not always being discussed among adults or being posted on social media.  There should be no stigmas attached to needing help while, at the same time, we are all entitled to privacy.  My children’s stories are their own to tell, not mine.  I ask permission before posting about them or writing about them.  Children who are growing up in a world where everyone knows everything about each other may end up being more afraid to seek help.  We cannot control the judgment and gossip of others.  We can merely ensure our children that their lives are their own to discuss or not.

Hillary Clinton popularized an African proverb when she said, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  The truth is that it takes a village for all of us.  I know that I don’t gather my own food, cure my own illnesses or even repair my own car.  The willingness to reach to others for support should know no limits.


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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators - Helping Kids Achieve.
For information about private coaching for adults, youth, teens and families -  Helping Families Achieve with Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC

Copyright 2015 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.