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Serious Child

Parents… Please don’t Punish Your Children

Recently I’ve been presenting some ‘123 Magic and Emotion Coaching courses’. This is a 3 session course which provides parents with simple and effective ways of managing their child’s (aged 2 – 12 yrs) challenging behaviours – things like nagging, yelling, throwing toys etc. We know these are often ‘normal’ responses which children do when they don’t get their way; when things go wrong; or when they are tired or hungry. The sessions give parents the best tools to get positive results without the need for them to bribe, justify or yell, and importantly it’s done in a manner which respects the child’s ‘right’ to assert what they are experiencing. It is our job as parents to ‘Calmy and Consistently’ (The Parenting Cafes’ motto) assist our children to learn what is acceptible behaviour and what is not.

One thing which always comes up for discussion in the course is ‘punishment’. The dictionary definition of the word ‘punish’ is to: “Cause to suffer for an offence.” Have our children committed an ‘offence’? Do we want our children to ‘suffer’ for this?

Surely what we want, is that they ultimately learn what is acceptable or not.

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You Do What You Gotta Do

You’re a booonk head iPad! You’re not my best friend ANY more’.

Possible response: ‘That’s not very nice calling me that, and I like being your friend’.

Actual response: ‘Good’.

The response generally depends on the time of day, day of the week time of the month, number of coffees consumed, the weather, time of wake up that morning and especially what it is in reference to. Example: I’m a ‘booonk head iPad’ because I have carelessly put the grapes into a blue bowl instead of a green one, and they are purple grapes not green ones. You can hazard a guess at the response (with a possible expletive muttered under the breath).

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Image by Mindaugas Danys via Flickr

No, No, No – Do you ever feel like that’s what you say all day?

Some days with our toddlers and children feel like they are filled with events which aren’t going well… the children are yelling at each other, or smearing paint on the floor, or hassling the cat, or jumping on the sofa. And we hear ourselves saying ‘No’ for the umpteenth time today… And the children don’t really seem to be listening to us!

Most of us ‘zone out’ if we hear words repeated over and over – meaning that they become less effective in their message because they are overused. ‘No’ may one of those words your child hears too often, and they lean to ignore it.

Do you wish there was another way? Well, here are some other ways to give the message ‘No’, without using that word!

  • The first is to tell the child what you want them to DO rather than what to ‘stop’. Instead of saying: ‘No, don’t jump on the sofa’… instead say: ‘Sit on the sofa, chairs are for sitting. If you want to jump let’s go out to the trampoline.’
  • Use distraction – Instead of saying: ‘No, don’t do xyz’ instead, ask them could they please get the cloth from the kitchen or get your glasses from the bedroom – most young children are keen to help.
  • Give them a choice. ‘Would you like to play Lego blocks now, or go out to the sandpit – you choose’ (to get them away from the dolls they are hassling over.)
  • Ask him to move away – ‘Please come here and help me with….’ Or ‘Please move away from Sarah and let’s read this book.’

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A Story for Parents

Come and sit down parents, your fairy godmother wants to tell you a timely story…

Once upon a time a beautiful baby was born. The parents loved her dearly and took great care of her. They put boundaries around her, to keep her safe. They noticed her signs for when she was tired, and put her to bed, even though they wanted to hold her and play with her longer.

As she grew, the boundaries changed. They instilled rules about saying ‘ta’, limiting the TV time, putting in safety plugs and ensuring that the back fences were strong so that she could play safely in the backyard – all to raise a happy, well-adjusted child.

Then one day, a few years later, something different happened. When the parents said it was bedtime, she asked for another story. The parents happily read another one. The next night she wanted 2 extra stories, and the parents were pleased that she loved reading so much! The following night she wanted 2 long stories and then a drink of water, and then the toilet, and another cuddle. The 15 minute night routine was now 50 minutes!

But how did this happen, wailed the parents (who actually had enjoyed their night times together one their daughter was asleep).

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Superman as a 3yr old

Superman is a 3 year old!

You know how Superman wears a disguise, as the ordinary Clark Kent?

Yesterday I saw Superman in another disguise – as a 3 year old boy!

I was in a department store, in a very long queue of people, waiting to make our purchases. Ahead of me was a Mum, with her 3 year old son (aka Superman). She had a large purchase, with a few smaller items sitting on top and was pushing it along in the line. Superman was looking at all the items which shops insist on putting just at children’s eye level – lollies, chocolates, drinks and small items. He picked various ones up and carefully replaced them.

Then, waiting in a long line became less appealing for him, and he started playing a game with the soft drink bottles – pushing them over, one at a time. Mum noticed and asked him to stop. He promptly decided to ignore her, and pushed another couple over. At this point Mum said: “If you don’t stop that, you can’t have this toy” (the one about to be purchased). He continued pushing them over, and she said: “Okay, no toy.” At this point Superman had a mini-tantrum, which stopped quickly when no-one took any notice. Great work Mum!
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The Influence of Media

The Influence of Media

A few years ago, I heard Dr Catherine Neilsen-Hewitt from the Institute of Early Childhood at Macquarie University speak on the topic, “The Effects of Media Violence on Children.” She spoke about the statistics of media violence, the reactions of children and how media violence affects children’s development.

Following is a snapshot of what I learnt…

Children watch an average of 2 – 4 hrs of TV daily. This means by the end of Primary School, they will have seen 8,000 murders, and 100,000 acts of violence – this is from the news you watch, the shows you watch, the ‘cartoon’ violence in kids shows etc. A horrifiying statistic. Over time children become desensitized to it – meaning that they can see a violent act being committed (on TV or in real life) and have no response to it.

Just as every exposure to cigarettes leads to an increase in the risk of developing cancer, every exposure to violence leads to an increase in the risk of behaving violently. (due to the desensitization mentioned above).

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hugging-child-by-subharnab

Does your child know you love them?

When’s the last time you said: “I love you Jasmine/ Steven/ Amy, or hugged your child for no particular reason?

Children need and thrive on regular doses of unconditional love.

What is Unconditional Love?

This is love expressed or shown, which isn’t related to a particular act or behaviour (like doing their homework, or picking up their toys) – it’s ‘just because’ love!

Ultimately we all want to know that we are loved, for who we are, not for what we do.

Many parents say that soon after the birth of their baby, they ‘get’ what love is really about. You love that child, just because they exist. You nurture and nourish that baby – you gaze lovingly into their eyes, and connect!

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little-sponges-little-ears

Little Sponges, Little Ears – How we talk in front of kids

Young children are like little sponges – they copy what we say and do:

  • we wash the dishes, they want to wash up too;
  • we read a book, they want to read too;
  • we’re cranky and they become cranky too!

You can use a kitchen sponge to wipe up water, oil, or dirty spills – the sponge just ‘sucks’ it all up. Young kids are like this too …. they just absorb what is around them – they don’t stop to think about whether it’s good or not. They figure, ‘if Mum/Dad/Nan is doing it, I can too!’

This includes the language they hear. Kids learn words and emotions from what you say. If you regularly smile and laugh when talking to a friend, kids think this is what you do with friends. If you have someone who you are regularly angry and swearing with, kids think this is something to copy too.

If you want kids to not swear, then the first thing to do, is to check what they are hearing on a daily basis. As adults and parents we need to protect young children from all sorts of things which aren’t good for them, this includes swearing, and conversations which might scare or worry them.