Posts Tagged: Alyson Schafer

The Happy Snappy Goodbye

Who among us doesn’t dread the pre-amble and fall-out that often accompany’s leaving our children in the care of others. They cling to our pant leg and plead for us not to go as we stress about what to do in front of on-lookers.

We worry, we feel guilty, and we wonder if it is the right thing to do. It’s hard – but one of our jobs as parents is to move our children from total dependence at birth to total independence when they leave the nest. It is our role to prepare, not protect our children for the demands of life.  Here is how:

Show Faith

The only way for a child to learn to be away from their parent is to do it. There is no way to “ramp up” to it per se. We learn we can manage – by managing! Your attitude about your child’s ability to manage is everything in this process. If you are not convinced your child should be left, your apprehension will fuel their apprehension. Like wise, your positive attitude will be infectious too!

Start with Respect

Every individual, regardless of age should be informed of things that affect him or her. If a child is starting a new activity or program, they should know this in advance.

Not too much: Don’t go on about it every day for weeks – that only causes the child to deduce that this event must be BIG, why else would mom and dad keep going on about it?

Not too little: Don’t conceal it in order to avoid the child’s reaction. If you do, the child may learn not to trust you and may deduce that there is always some trickery that you are concealing. This creates a perception of a world that is unpredictable, making it difficult to feel safe and secure.

Just Right: In a simple, calm, matter of fact way, let them know what will be happening. If they object, let them know that you have faith that they will manage. Enough said!

Avoid Giving Undue Attention

If they continue to protest, don’t get too involved in trying to sway them to wanting to go. Just stick with a calm, cool, matter of fact response. If you go on and on like a salesmen trying to sway them, they will have discovered a topic you love to talk about and that holds your attention. Once discovered, they will use this topic to keep you busy with them, usually at tuck-in time. I don’t doubt that there will be some fears and apprehensions in children – but dwelling on it can magnify rather than calm the anxieties.

Here are some strategies you can implement!

TTFT (Take time for training)

Decide what you want the drop-off to look like. If you want to be able to drop your child off at the door and kiss them good-bye, then this is what you need to train the child to do. How? BY DOING IT! If you come into the class for 5 minutes and then wait outside for another 5, than that is what the child will want and demand every time. That is what they are learning the “routine” is and we all know that kids thrive on routine. You are teaching them a routine you want to abolish — why bother starting?

Plan ahead

If you think your child will cling – make arrangements in advance with the adult who will be caring for your child to meet you at the door and help “uncouple” the child from you and take them in. With an ally on the inside who is willing to help make the drop-off snappy, and if you both keep your smiles on and proceed with a calm serene air – you will have accomplished both elements to a “HAPPY SNAPPY GOOD-BYE.”

Yes – there will be tears, but the sooner the good-byes are over, the sooner the child calms down and gets engaged in what they are supposed to be doing. To prolong the good-bye actually prolongs the tears and fears. Parents unknowingly are making matters worse instead of better by prolonging the inevitable.

Don’t Reward Expected Behaviour.

And – finally, don’t promise some big treat at pick up time. Offering a treat or a reward just confirms to the child that the place must be horrible because mom feels you need to be compensated for going there!

Long Term

  • It is a gift to let your child learn that they can manage without mom and dad
  • It is a gift to have your child have other adult / child bonds and friendship
  • It is a gift to yourself to have some child-free time to replenish yourself so you can be re-charged as a parent
  • It is a gift to increase your child’s social world
  • It is a gift to practice these skills early

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t MIsbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com.

Two Arm Technique for Hitting, Biting, Pushing and Toy Snatching

One of the most common questions I get asked is how to respond when two toddlers or preschoolers are involved in an altercation. If your child has just been hit, had their toy snatched or pushed, just what should you do?

My answer is called the “Two Arm Technique”, taught to me by Althea Poulos.  Here is how it goes:

When you witness a situation when two young children are in a kerfuffle, begin by asking yourself, “Who owns the problem?”  In the case of a child having a toy snatched from their hands, it is the child who lost the toy. Our culture likes to label this child the “victim”, and we have very strong personal ideas about helping an innocent victim! Our first impulse is to rush over and console the “poor upset victim” and to admonish the “bully” who overstepped his bounds. We pluck the toy from the “bully”, yell at him for his mean behavior and return it to the “victim” to set things right!

The trouble with this response is that it actually grooms a child to become more likely to be a victim, because they have learned by standing still and looking tearful and upset (under-resourced or being incapable), that someone will come and handle their life problems. The successful outcome shows the child that their approach was a good strategy to solve a problem. This does not hold up well as a life lesson.  We don’t want to teach this.

The other faulty notion is to mistakenly believe that the child snatching the toy was in some way being mean and brutal. No, in fact, that child is also deficient in how to solve his life problems. He wants a toy and so he must solve how to get it. Much of what young children know has come from watching their parents deal with them, and they frequently learn from parent-child interactions that “might is right.”

The child takes the most simplistic model he is aware of in his young age and experience, and goes about solving his situation with his peers in the only way he knows.  He has no feelings of meanness, he just wants to solve the problem of getting the toy!  If we punish this boy, he may potentially learn that “life is out to get me”, and that he is a “bad boy”, and he will begin to grow and develop in line with that expectation.  Our responses will actually foster BOTH the “bully” and the “victim” idea we are fearful of and trying to avoid!

The parent or teacher’s role in these scenarios is to train the children in ways to deal more effectively and cooperatively with this life challenge. It is a time to guide and teach (the real basis of discipline), not to punish. Neither is a victim or bully, they are just two children in need of skills development and in growing their “social interest”, as we Adlerians call it (also known as social feeling­/caring for others).

So try this instead:

Drop to your knees so you are at eye level to the children when talking (this is so very important to creating a sense of equality and respect). Being towered over is very intimidating and distancing.

Collect both children up so they are facing one another. After all, this is their problem and their discussion.  The teacher or adult should be physically in a position that is neutral (not holding one child or standing beside one child,­ this gives the feeling of “two against one” and we are NOT here to take sides, or act as police or judge).  The name of this technique comes from the holding of each child, one in each of your arms, gently.

Hopefully in this position you will feel more like a mediator yourself.

Here is the script for the conversation that follows:

Parent to Crying Child: “Did you like that?”

Crying Child: (Shakes head or keeps crying ­ often not verbal or pre-verbal)

Parent to Crying Child: “Looks like you are saying you didn’t like it, but you need to speak up.  Can you say I don’t like that?  Your friend needs to know. He is a good listener.”  (Nice little bit of encouragement there, eh?)

Parent to Crying Child: “Tell your friend, I’m not done yet.”

Either the child will repeat the words you have just given them, and speak up for themselves saying, “I am not done yet”, OR they will say nothing and you can say the words, but the message is coming from the crying child, NOT from you!

Parent to the Toy Snatcher: “You friend is saying they don’t like that, they are not done yet.“

Parent to the Toy Snatcher: “Did you want a turn with the toy?”

Toy Snatcher: (Nods, or says yes, or looks at you neutrally)

Parent to the Toy Snatcher: “Can you tell your friend that? Can you say I’d like a turn please?”

Again ­ see if the child will repeat your words. If not, you say them ­ but don’t fall into the trap of talking for yourself.  There is a world of difference between “Your friend is asking for a turn when you are done” (correct version ­ the message is from the child, delivered by the adult) versus “It’s his turn next” (which is the adult’s instruction, and NOT a message from one child to another other).

Parent to Crying Child: “Your friend has asked you for a turn. Can you find him and give him the toy when you are done?”

Crying child will either be neutral (take that as a yes) or they will nod or say yes to affirm.

Parent to BOTH children: “GREAT ­ looks like you two worked it out!”

At this point I might use redirection to help the child left waiting for his turn by asking him what he would like to do while he is waiting.

Did you notice I did not make them hug or say sorry? I’ll have to write another post on that too. But for now, appreciate the idea of helping children learn language skills so they can handle these situations without an adult in the future.

If you visit an Adlerian classroom, you will often hear children saying, “I don’t like…” and teachers saying back, “Good speaking up!” If you train children to solve their problems, they don’t need to come to the teacher when discourse occurs. This is great preparation for the big world of school hallways and school yards at recess that are soon to come!

Two Arm Technique for Hitting

Parent to Crying Child: “Did you like that?”

Crying Child: (Shakes head or keeps crying often not verbal or preverbal)

Parent to Crying Child: ”Looks like you are saying you didn’t like that, you need to speak up.  Can you say I don’t like that?  Your friend needs to know, he is a good listener.”

Either the child will repeat the words you have just given them, and speak up for themselves saying, “I don’t like that”, OR they will say nothing and so you can say the words, but remember that the message is coming from the crying child, NOT from you!

Parent to the Hitter/Pusher: ”Your friend is saying they don’t like that.”

Parent to the Hitter/Pusher: ”We need to feel safe in (house/ classroom/ play group). Your friend might like to play with you more if he knew he was safe.  Can you tell your friend he will be safe? Can you say I won’t do that again?” (Notice this is a plan or promise for future behavior and not an apology for past behavior.)

Parent to the Hitter/Pusher: ”Is there something you could do to make your friend feel better?” (This is restitution and healing since someone was hurt.)

Hitter/Pusher probably will look blankly at you since they have never done this before.

Parent to Crying Child: ”Would you like a hug from him?” (It’s okay for them to say no but if they say yes)

Parent to Hitter/Pusher: ”Your friend is saying they’d like a hug, would you like to give one?” (It’s okay for them to say no but usually they do just hug.)

Parent to BOTH children: ”GREAT ­ looks like you two are ready to play together safely again!”

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t MIsbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com.

 

Street-Proofing Our Kids: Rules to Protect Your Child from Possible Abduction

When a missing child makes the news, every parent has the same thought flash through their mind: what if that was my child? Unbearable thoughts. This is a good reminder that we should all talk to our children about street safety rules.

First, some facts for parents.  Almost all missing children in Canada are taken by a non-custodial parent who could not gain access through the court system. Random abductions are very rare indeed. Canada is a very safe and friendly country.  Sadly, most harm that befalls children in our society is inflicted by their family and caregivers, not by strangers.

Still, we need to teach our children safety rules and review them a couple of times a year.  I think it’s helpful to approach the subject with children the same way you would fire safety, or Elmer the Safety Elephant.  You don’t need to discuss what happens to children who are abducted.  Simply explain that to be safe when they are away from home, they need to know and apply 5 rules to keep them safe.  It’s NOT their job to decide which people are good and bad, or when something is safe or dangerous. It’s only their job to apply the rules every time!

Here are the rules every child should have en-grained in their heads. It comes from an abridged list from the Protective Parenting program created by one of my mentors, the late Larry Nissan.

1. I Won’t Go with Someone I Don’t Know

This is a rhyme your children should chant in their heads.  Have them say it out loud to you. Have them practice saying it out loud to another adult with assertiveness.  It’s a rule!  Children should not have to decide if a person looks like a nice person or a bad person.  It’s not their job to think, judge and assess. It’s only their job to follow the family safety rules.

2. Adults Should Seek Help from Other Adults ­ NOT from Children

If an adult asks for help, go get another adult to help them. That means that even if they are old and have a cast or crutches and need help carrying their groceries to their car; even if they have lost their kitten and also have a picture of that kitten­ don’t help.  Here is why – adults try to trick children, so children don’t need to think about how “real” the problem looks, they only need to follow the family safety rules. Adults seek help from adults, NOT children.  If you are asked for help, tell the adult you will help, by getting your teacher, or parent or some other adult to help them.

3. Family Code Word

Make up a family code word that ONLY your family knows, and keep it in your heads ­ no writing it down on paper to remember.  If someone needs to pick up your child for you, tell them the password and then create a new one since that one is now used up. Tell your child to always ask for the password if it’s not the pre-arranged parent picking them up.

4. Take Two Steps Back

Always keep two steps back from a car.  If a car slows down and asks for directions, take TWO STEPS back from the car. You can give driving directions from the sidewalk.  NEVER get into a car for any reason. Even if it’s cold or rainy and they can drive you a few blocks home.  Not even if they say your mom was in a car accident and they are supposed to take you to the hospital to see her and she didn’t have time to give the code. Remind them that since these can be tricky, it’s not their job to evaluate the safety of situations, just follow the family safety rules!

5. A Weapon Means SCREAM, YELL, KICK AND RUN

Abductors are also cowards (why else would they be doing this?) and even if they threaten you, they will not chase you if you are running through a parking lot or screaming.  If they touch you, make a scene and shout at the top of your lungs:  “This is NOT my PARENT!”  This is even the case if they hold a gun. They don’t want to fire a gun in public and be noticed.

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t MIsbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com.

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