Monday, April 25, 2016

“Stop Whining!” – Tips For Dealing With A Whining Child

I have raised two children and taught many more. If I had a dime for every time a child whined, I would be a wealthy woman.  There is something about whining that makes our ears hurt and our skin crawl.  Adults often over-react because we simply cannot stand the tone of voice.  A child whines.  We get upset and say a little to sharply, “Stop whining!”  The whining just tends to get louder and angrier. We have further frustrated an already frustrated child.  We become annoyed and frustrated ourselves.  When we try to correct behavior and it continues, we need to try another way.

When a child whines and you feel those little hairs stand on end, you may have more success by consistently responding by telling your child:
  1. Take a deep breath.  Your child is whining because he/she is upset.  When we are upset, our breathing becomes shallow and our heart rate increases.  The brain gets a message that something is wrong and it is harder to control our actions and reactions.  Getting your child to take a deep breath will be more effective in teaching self-control than commanding the child to stop.  You might want to take a deep breath to remain calmer, too!
  2. Try again in a calm voice.  Before you get emotional and add to the drama in the room, request that your child restate the sentence calmly.  I have heard many adults say, “Try that again” but they don’t say how.  It is important that young children learn the definition of calm voice and how to regulate theirs.  Tone regulation is a life skill that it takes time to learn.  You need to be sure your voice is calm as their example.
  3. You will respond when the whining is over.  If you respond to the whining by giving in or even by arguing, the child gets a payoff.  When behavior pays off, children will do it again and again.  Do not reply positively or negatively until your child speaks to you in a more appropriate tone.  Until then, keep trying to calm your child and remind him/her to speak calmly.  As soon as your child’s tone improves, then respond to the original dilemma. 

In the meantime, you have a puzzle to solve.  Children often cannot accurately express their feelings so they communicate through behavior.  Tantrums are a form of communication.  Crying and stamping are a form of communication.  Whining is communication, too.  Try to determine:
  1. If a prior event has fueled the mood:  Adults recognize that in our own lives, a tough morning can lead to a snowball effect of an ongoing bad day.  We forget that the same can happen to children.  If something happened earlier in the day, the whining can actually be about that pent up sadness or anger.  When whining persists, you probably haven’t hit upon the real problem.  Ask about the day to see if your child reacts to a broader conversation than about what is going on at this moment.
  2. If feeling physically depleted is fueling the mood:  When a child is tired or feeling ill, some whining is to be expected.  Children have a hard time coping with physical symptoms.  Remember how you feel when you are extremely tired or when you feel achy.  You might not whine because you have learned the boundaries of socially acceptable behavior for adults but you probably want to complain and whine.

Above all else, try your best to remain emotionally neutral.  Yelling and throwing your hands in the air does not help.  Be the example of coping with upset.  If your child’s tone is upsetting, let your child see that though you are not happy, you aren’t going to lose all control.  Children become how we behave.  Behave with kindness and empathy.

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Coming soon - new site where early childhood professionals will be able to get continuing ed hours, participate in Q & A forums & ask the expert sessions and individual Skype/FaceTime coaching. To keep updated about the site and the progress of my book, click here to join my mailing list. You get a FREE video link when you join the list!

Go to my full website for information about webinars, presentations and individual coaching for parents and educators -Helping Kids Achieve.

Copyright 2016 © 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.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Space to Grow: The Importance of Shifting the Boundary Walls Around Children

I once had a fish I won at a carnival.  It was taken home in a small bowl.  My father came home from work one day with a bigger bowl and told me to watch what would happen.  The fish grew!  My father then put the fish in a tank and it grew even more.  He said, “Many things are like that.  They grow according to the space they are in.”  My mother did the same with plants, I noticed.  When she replanted in a larger pot, the plant grew.  Having spent nearly 20 years in the field of education and having raised 2 children to adulthood, I can tell you that the same is true for human beings.  Given the space and healthy environment, they do grow. 

As parents and teachers, it is our job to encourage children to the next level.  That next level is a new understanding of the world.  They may stumble on their way.  They may fall back and have to climb again but, if the walls are too tight around them, there is nowhere to go.  They cannot move.  They do not grow.  They have no chance to rise to the occasion.

It is through our trials, our tough days that we learn courage.  It is from the freedom of making choices that we learn how to do so in a way that is beneficial to us.  It is from knowing that we can try again without great scorn that we learn resilience. 

Children need the space to grow.  Slowly, over the 18-21 years during which they are our dependents, we need to move the walls around them.  We do move the walls about some things easily.  We don’t expect typically developing 15-year-olds to hold our hand while crossing the street anymore.  Teens in safe enough neighborhoods can go to the school bus stop themselves and no longer require an adult.  Little by little we let go of some things and move some walls but too often, our fears keep us from realizing that we can offer the chance to learn and survive peril.

When I do parenting presentations for those with elementary school age children, I tell them to let their complaining children take a zero on the homework.  It’s the way children learn that their actions have impact on their own lives.  Don’t want to do it?  Well, there’s a price for that.  When older children don’t study enough, stop trying to get the school to change the exam grade.  If the child earned that grade, then the child has earned the consequences.  As my husband would tell my sons, “It builds character.”  If your children are unimpressed by the consequences, then you have another problem entirely, maybe a few issues are at play, and you should seek guidance for the negative behaviors.  For most children, knowing that you will not fight the consequences for them is enough to teach some personal responsibility.

Trust your children a little bit until you cannot.  Let them be innocent until proven guilty.  Then trust becomes valuable and something to take care of but let them see it is fragile.  Trust them to go to safe places but have consistent consequences when they do things that break trust – like when they don’t text you to say they have arrived or they return after your curfew.  Most children who have a little bit of freedom don’t want to lose it by losing your trust.  In my experience, the teens who say, “My parents never trust me to go anywhere or do anything” are the ones who sneak and lie to find their space.

Let children choose when you can – both good choices and those that seem illogical.  When a child wants to go to the playground but tantrums about putting on her coat, let her choose.  Put on the coat and we go.  Don’t put on the coat and we do not go to the playground.  Let her figure it out.  Good choices feel better.  When that child gets older and wants to go hang out with friends but is wearing a skimpy, inappropriate outfit, there is a choice – put on something more appropriate and safer and you can go. Stay in that outfit that can encourage danger and stay home.  Even when there has to be walls and boundaries for health and safety, you can teach them to make a good choice and rise to the occasion. 

I once knew a girl whose parents made every choice for her and had very strict boundaries.  She didn’t get a chance to make her own decisions.  She didn’t have ever expanding experiences when she sometimes succeeded, sometimes failed but had room to grow and learn.  I heard years later from a mutual acquaintance that she moved away from home but quickly went back.  I understand that when her parents died she didn’t know what to do because they had continued to tell her how to live even as an adult.  That is not the goal.  The goal is to help our children to be like that fish in the bigger bowl or the plant in the bigger pot.  We want them to slowly grow into the larger space so they make their mark in the world.

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Coming soon - new site where early childhood professionals will be able to get continuing ed hours, participate in Q & A forums & ask the expert sessions and individual Skype/FaceTime coaching. 
To keep updated about the site and the progress of my book, click here to join my mailing list. You get a FREE video link when you join the list!

Go to my full website for information about webinars, presentations and individual coaching for parents and educators -Helping Kids Achieve.

Copyright 2016 © 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.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Family Reset: Purify More Than The House During Spring Cleaning

When spring begins, we naturally start to purify.  We pack up winter wear and start cleaning up the stale air in our homes.  We scrub, buy new items and prepare for newness as the earth comes back to life.  This renewal can be more than steam cleaned carpets and a fresh coat of paint.  It can be a chance for us to renew our relationships.  It can be when we take a deep breath and hit reset after months of emotional hibernation.  There are many ways to hit the family reset button. 
                        
The reset button on a computer breaks out of the usual, routine operation and starts it fresh.  Get out of your daily routine. Take a walk.  Go somewhere fun. Make a plan to spend time together doing something engaging and out of the ordinary.  Break the loop of behavior and reactions.

Computers have an algorithm for starting fresh – a plan to do it without complications. Have a plan for restarting your home life.  Talk to your family members about starting fresh.  Everyone can take a deep breath together and plan to talk more, spend more time together, be calmer.  Decide together what each person can do better.  Even when you ask very young children what they can do better, they do find something.  Ask how they can help the family. They know how they can be helpful family members.

I would imagine that a freshly reset computer has no plan to go back to a state of crisis.  Have a plan so that you don’t easily slip into old habits either.  A plan isn’t real until it is in writing.  Ideas that are not committed to writing are simply that – floating ideas.  Write your goals for the coming months and post them where you can see them.  Have a visual reminder that your spring cleaning included a family renewal for a fruitful, beautiful spring and summer.

For more information about writing goals family goals, read Family To-Do Lists: Not At All About Groceries, Appointments & Errands.

________________________________________________________________________
Coming soon - new site where early childhood professionals will be able to get continuing ed hours, participate in Q & A forums & ask the expert sessions and individual Skype/FaceTime coaching. To keep updated about the site and the progress of my book, click here to join my mailing list. You get a FREE video link when you join the list!

Go to my full website for information about webinars, presentations and individual coaching for parents and educators -Helping Kids Achieve.

Copyright 2016 © 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.