Posts Tagged: Alyson Schafer

Fear of Water

Some children fear the water. This fear is very real. But children are not born with fears. Fears are developed when a child’s healthy and natural reluctance is responded to by an over-reacting, well-intentioned parent.

A child comes into this world knowing little of how it works. As they explore, they encounter things that shock or surprise them. Their reaction is to be startled, not afraid. Parents often over-compensate by; reassuring that everything is okay, giving the child special attention, soothing with excessive expressions of concern, or cajoling.

The next time the child encounters a new situation (such as water) they are faced with three choices:

◾Look to the adults to see what they are doing and follow their lead (face the challenge),

◾Retreat or withdraw from the new experience (avoid the challenge) or,

◾Control the situation with fear, thereby paralyzing themselves and gaining parental involvement (get others to deal with the challenge).

The benefit of grooming our children to face small challenges is that they develop the psychological muscle to deal with greater challenges in the future. With each success they learn they are capable and further believe they can handle more.

As parents we want to prepare our children for life, not protect them. So, this summer when your tots scream as you lift them up over the dark waters of the lake, keep in mind these suggestions:

◾Don’t minimize the reality of their fear (“Oh come on, it’s just like the pool, don’t be silly.”)

◾Don’t be overly impressed with their fears (“Oh honey, I’m sorry, let me get you a freezie. Let mommy wipe your tears.”)

◾Don’t over-emphasize reassurances (“It’s just water, it’s okay, you’re safe, mommy has you, nothing will happen.”)

◾Don’t expect your child to be fearful of the water, as children will live up to our expectations!

◾Don’t be a slave to their fear. If they only go in the water “their way” and that doesn’t work for you, the more you go along with it, the more you’re actually supporting their belief.

◾Do be matter of fact and unimpressed (“That’s okay. If you don’t like the water you don’t have to go in.”)

◾Do continue having a good time yourself. The best way to grow an interest in swimming is to be a swimmer yourself.

◾Do have faith and show encouragement (“I am sure that one day you’ll decide you’d like to be swimming in the lake so much, you won’t let your fear stop you.”)

Enjoy the water!

 

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.

MASFIC – Mothers Against Siblings Fighting In Cars

“What can I do to get my kids to stop fighting in the car? I know my yelling is wrong and they don’t listen anyway, but I have no idea what else to do. HELP!”

- Frazzled mother of two, ages 3 and 5.

All Behaviour Serves a Purpose

Usually sibling fighting serves to get attention (albeit negative) from parents. Kids don’t mind negative attention if it is all they can get. It is like the old adage: bad press is better than no press.

Do other parents complain to you of their fighting when they are in their care? I’ll bet the answer is no. The fighting is for OUR benefit as parents! When we are out of the picture, it loses its purpose. That means children can decide to either fight or not fight. And it takes two to have a fight. Fighting is, in fact, an act of cooperation; it’s just that it’s on the negative or useless side of life rather than the positive or useful side.

Strategies

Eliminate the Mistaken Approach

If you want the fighting to disappear you have to make fights an ineffective way of getting attention. That means you must ignore them. That is hard while you are in a car, and I am sure that is in fact why children chose the car as the ideal place to fight! They have a captive audience who cannot help but give attention in the form of ineffective verbal corrections, such as:

“Stop that”, “You’re driving me crazy” or “Enough. I have had enough!”

After all, if you weren’t busy saying those things you’d be free to talk to your spouse, listen to the radio, or any other number of things besides paying attention to the children. Let’s face it – well behaved children are ignored! We figure they’re set, so let’s do something else.

In fact, we train them – if they want us, all they have to do is act up. We need to train them in the reverse. Give attention when they are acting appropriately and ignore them when they are not. They’ll quickly learn to come about in their strategy.

Firm and Friendly

The trick is to not cave in to the demand for undue attention while staying calm and aloof (I know this is the hard part – especially with fighting). You do not need to ignore the children, just their fighting. If you only step in and get involved in their fights when they are really intense or physical, then you are unknowingly teaching your child to fight louder, longer and harder to be effective!

So, ignore the fighting. 100%. Cold turkey.

Here’s how:

Offer Choice

Mom: “It is not safe for me to drive with this noise and distraction. Can you two stop fighting or do I need to pull over?”

Tip: You only need to explain and offer choice the first time, all subsequent times if they start to fight simply pull over.

Watch the Feet Not the Mouth

Regardless of how the children answer your question (“We’ll stop fighting, honest” – kick, punch, poke) their real decision or intention is shown in their choice of behaviour not their words. Respond to what they do, not to what they say.

Follow Through – Action Not Words

If the children continue to fight then simply pull off the road, put the car in park, pull out a book and start to read. This will relax you and it demonstrates that you are not paying attention. After all – when was the last time you had time to read? Relish the opportunity! If you look upset or concerned they’ll know you are paying attention and continue.

If things get too wild, you can read from outside the car.

Mom: “I’m going to read on the grass here – let me know when you are ready for me to drive again”.

TIP: Don’t interfere with the learning by talking or rolling your eyes! This is not about you and your approval or disapproval. The lesson will be learned through the simple connection that when we fight – the car stops. Therefore, to make the car go we need to cooperate. The children see that they hold this power and mom is just following through on simple rules for social living in a respectful manner.

Your car trips should be much more joyful in no time. So, pack a book on your next trip and let me know how it goes!

 

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.

Runaway Kid

If your child bolts away from you at the first moment of freedom, then you have a real safety issue.

Here’s how you can change this situation.

Purpose of the Behaviour

As always, we must start by trying to understand the child’s motivation. We ask ourselves, “Why do they do it?”

To answer this, we look at what YOU do when then THEY run. Whatever it is, stop doing it. Chances are you’re chasing after them.

Strategies

STOP participating in this misbehaviour when the situation is safe enough to allow it. You can do this by no longer agreeing to play the “chase me game”.

For example, if your child likes to bolt from you when you are helping them get dressed or when you are changing their diapers, don’t chase them. It takes two to play this game. Let them know “I am not willing to play ‘the chase game’. When you want to get dressed come let me know.” Then go about your business.

TTFT (take time for training)

Practice walking together side by side. Yes, practice walking.

In some safe place practice offering this choice:

“We need to walk together now. Can you walk beside me on your own, or do we need to hold hands?”

Tip: If you are practicing this with preverbal children, assume they’d like to walk alone if they don’t answer.

Then, let go of your toddler’s hand and see if they stay beside you. If they bolt, grab their hand and say calmly “I see you need me to hold your hand”. Walk together holding hands for a short distance and then offer the choice again. Keep repeating this choice until they see that if they would like the freedom of walking alone, they may have it when they also take responsibility for walking safely beside you.

Watch out for the most common pitfall – talking, lecturing, and reminding. If you say anything beyond presenting the choice, you are interfering in the training process by either further discouraging the child with your doubts and disappoints, or by provoking a power struggle.

Give Responsibility

Increase the number of places you let them walk independently and comment only on the success, and say nothing about the times they “make a mistake”.

Give More Responsibility

Help them learn that it is their responsibility to know their parents’ whereabouts. Children have the belief that mom and dad will follow and watch for them, so they need not pay attention.

Of course this is not a safe belief. To help them see that they must watch where YOU are, you can set up a safe learning situation by finding a safe place, safe time and a safe distance to let your toddler experience for a brief moment the effects of wandering away from you. Of course you should be vigilant and know exactly where they are at all times. By letting them experience a small controlled version of “being lost” they will see the benefit of paying attention to where you are.

 

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.

Related Posts with Thumbnails