Posts Tagged: Alyson Schafer

If You Hit, You Sit

“If you hit, you sit (out)” is a great short and snappy way of remembering and offering a logical consequence to your kids for bad behaviour, such as hitting. Even better, it meets the requisite 3 R’s of consequences: respectful, related and revealed in advance.

If your find your toddler hitting, the consequence must be logical to them: “If you choose to play co-operatively you may stay here with your friends. If you choose to hit, which is unsafe, you must go somewhere else because we need to feel safe when we play together. When you decide to play without hitting we would love to have you back”.

Here’s my advice on how to use a time out (the “sit”) properly:

1. Of utmost importance: the length of time is decided by the child. Whenever they decide to choose to play without hitting they can come back.

2. The emphasis is on participating in the group with safe pro-social behaviours that meet the needs of the situation. It is about safety and other ways to problem solve, not about being “nice” or “not doing what you’re told” which is all about listening to authority figures.

3. I recommend not using the phrase “time out” as it is has a negative connotation with children.

4. I recommend the child stay close to the fun they want to get back to rather than hiking all the way to their bedroom. You want the children to be motivated to quickly decide to act differently and come back ASAP.

5. Do not have a time out chair/area – that introduces a stigma which is punitive, and speaks to having negative expectations for the child’s future behaviour. Very discouraging.

6. “One minute of time-out for every year” (often recommended by time-out proponents) is NOT a good method. If the child decides they want to come back and there is still time on the clock, they’ll spend the remaining time building resentment and anger, and the child may seek revenge.

TTFT: Take time for training

After the time out, try saying the following:

  • “Our hands are for hugging and holding” (Invites the behaviour we want to see)
  • “It is not okay to hit people. We need to feel safe when we play.” (Be clear, not angry)
  • “You need to speak up and use your words – not your hands.” (Help start problem solving through verbalizing)

Once you have said these things once – YOU ARE DONE. They are bright, they heard you. After all, how many times did you have to tell them that cookies are kept in the cookie jar on the counter?

To recap:

Offer Choice: “Can you stay and play safely or do you need to go?”

Follow Through: “I see (because you keep hitting) that you need to go” and guide them to the side of the room or someplace neutral on the sidelines of the action out of the centre of the action.

Action Not Words: Once they’ve been in this time out once, you can just take their hand and guide them to the side. No words needed.

Firm and Friendly: Watch that body language. Stay calm and composed. Your emotions, disapproval, or exasperated looks interfere with the learning.

Remember: When they choose to come back – that is fine. “Hi – I am glad you’ve chosen to come back. It’s more fun when we play all together.”

Tip: Don’t go overboard with this noticing. If you do they may decide that is enough payoff to encourage them to get themselves into time outs just so they can steal the show with a grand re-entrance! And this does happen.

 

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.

Attention Seeking Behavior: Jumping on Furniture

Do your children just love that amazing upholstered trampoline in your living room – the one better known as a couch?  This piece of furniture is home to every toddler’s “Couch Jumping Olympics” training.

This event usually involves parents barking from the sidelines:

“The couch is not for jumping. Get off right now.”

“You know we don’t jump on the couch. How many times do I have to tell you that?”

“Get down this minute – if I catch you up there one more time…”

Whatever your favorite little phrase is, have you noticed it does nothing to get a response until you start walking over to the couch to get them down?

Why is that?

It’s because most often, it’s really just a brilliant way for kids to get our attention. If you get on the phone or start making supper, they simply have to start jumping on the sofa to get you to stop what you’re doing and “deal with them” (pay attention to them, be involved with them, etc.).

You will find that our words are the least effective  parenting tool, in fact the constant reminding and nagging is the attention (albeit  negative) that they seek! When you nag them, you are giving them a payoff for this behavior. You are getting involved with them and that re-enforces rather than diminishes the behavior!

Children learn from what happens. So instead of words, try the following action:

 

DAY ONE – Setting the stage for action

“The couch is not for jumping” (This is educational, so say it once and only once. No need to tell a child something they already know – it’s disrespectful to the child.)

“You may jump on this cushion on the floor, or you can jump outside.” (Redirection)

Child continues…

“Can you get down on your own or do you need some help?” (Offer choice)

Child continues jumping…

“I see you need some help.” (Always respond to what they decide with their behavior NOT their words.)

Help them off the couch in a pleasant manner. (Following through, firm and friendly.)

If they go back to jumping on the couch…

“I see you’re having trouble being in this room with the couch and not jumping on it. Do you think you can manage that or do you need to leave the room?”

If they go back to jumping on the couch…

“I see you’ve chosen not to be in this room – you can try again later. Can you leave on your own or do you need some help?”

Child doesn’t move…

Move the child, and close off the room with a baby gate.

 

*DAY TWO*

Child is jumping on the couch.

Mother goes over and reaches out a hand.

Child doesn’t take the hand.

Mother moves the child off the couch to another room in the house and puts up a baby gate to that room.

No words said – the child understands perfectly.

 

*DAY THREE*

Repeat day two, but child will probably take your hand or race out of the room themselves, they know the deal now.

 

*DAY FOUR*

Child doesn’t jump on couch since it no longer gets the desired result of getting negative attention.

By this time, your days of aggravation should be numbered.

And remember this rule of thumb: for every moment you ignore undue attention-seeking behavior, you need to spend twice as much time being attentive and present and engaged positively with your child when they are not demanding it.

Good luck!

 

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.

Panicked Over Picky Eaters

Is your child a picky eater? If you find yourself nodding yes to any of the following questions, this article is for you:

◾Will your child only eat one or two foods or food groups?

◾Is their idea of a wide range of food everything from french fries to tater tots?

◾Do they push away anything resembling a vegetable?

◾Do they love anything that comes individually wrapped?

◾Do you worry your child might suffer from lack of nutrition?

◾Do you serve different meals to different family members according to their eating preferences?

◾Do you eat your own dinner after your children have eaten because you want “adult” food?

If this sounds like you and your child, I have some thoughts for you.

Most parental concern is about the picky eater’s health since they appear to lack nutritional balance. I suggest that the primary concern should be the life lessons you might be inadvertently teaching by catering to your picky eater.

Parents take their job seriously when it comes to the basics of life and tend to get very busy when it comes to their child’s eating. This concern results in parents giving in to kids’ demands in the name of nutrition and avoiding starvation.

But consider for a moment how truly rare hunger and malnutrition are in North America. Malnutrition in the form of vitamin deficiencies is almost completely unheard of in affluent developed countries that have processed breads, cereals, and milk with essential vitamins and minerals added as a public health measure.

Humans can go seven days without food. And while extended time without food is not recommended, a few hours of waiting for a cracker is not going to be the end of anyone.

On the other hand, sharing food is an essential part of family living and a child must learn how to live as part of a whole. It’s important for them to understand that others have their own individual tastes and preferences too. Sharing and cooperating within the family builds the child’s understanding of how to cooperate in a world where not everyone can have their way at all times.

So look at picky eating as an opportunity to rid your child of the mistaken belief that the road of life bends to their path. Instead, work with your child to find cooperative solutions.

Dealing with Picky Eaters

Keep a Record

Parents think kids are not eating because they don’t eat at meal times. I suggest parents write down everything their children eat for a week before commencing this plan.

You will probably find that there is plenty going in outside of set meal times. It is all the form of juice bottles, raisin boxes, Dunkeroos, and gnawed on bagels eaten in a car seat. These “snack-meals” are displacing meals served at the table. Kids learn to not eat meals at the table and instead choose to wait to eat “snack meals” instead.

Create Routines

The first step in helping your child to be a co-operative eater is serving meals and snacks at predictable times. For young children, three meals a day plus a mid-morning and a mid-afternoon snack (and I mean just a nibble) should do it. If you offer some fruit before bedtime you can feel secure that your child is being offered an opportunity to fuel their bodies healthily every few hours.

Not Eating is a Choice

If you have made and served good food, your work is done. It is a child’s responsibility to eat from the choices served.

Some children will choose NO food from the table, as they may feel everything is yucky. That is okay. They can excuse themselves. You can wrap up their plate and pop it in the fridge.

Don’t concern yourself or make a fuss about what they eat at meal times. Let the natural consequence of hunger do the teaching. Hungry children will eat.

Picky eaters don’t usually get a chance to experience true hunger – their parents jump in too fast and save them through catering to their preferences or compensating with big yummy snacks. Avoid this by following the routine and order without exception.

If your picky eater complains of hunger after the meal you can offer them to eat from their wrapped up plate in the fridge at any time.

Offer Limited Choices

Parents can control the choices by only buying and offering good healthy food choices. Kids can’t sneak and demand food that is not there.

Offer More Choice Through Planning

If your child refuses to eat what is served and demands their own preferred food – they are giving you their input on meal choices, which is okay. But when the meal is put on the table, it’s not the appropriate time to influence the meal plan. Stick with the meal plan and do not make alterations or offer substitutions.

Instead, include your child in planning the family menu so they can pick days everyone eats their choices. You are showing them that you will be okay eating their grilled-cheese sandwich dinner and in return they will have to live through eating your meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Everyone has some give and take in the family.

 

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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