Posts Tagged: toddlers

Outsmarted by a toddler and a cookie.

Cookie? What cookie?

I can clearly remember the exact moment I realized my toddler was getting too smart.

When my 4-year-old daughter was not quite 2 yet, the little buttertart pulled me by the hand to the kitchen one day and pointed to a tin sitting on our counter. A tin she has never seen before.

“Coo-ee!” she exclaimed, over and over again.

Yes, there were cookies inside. But how the heck did she know?

So I did what Moms do sometimes. I lied to my kid. (The right kind of little white lie doesn’t hurt that much, right?)

“Sorry honey, the cookies are all gone. No cookies! All gone! Cookies all gone!”

She looked at me with a furrowed brow. I got down to her level (as I’ve been told by experts to do to help her understand what I’m saying) and repeated myself.

“No cookies, honey. Sorry.”

She looked at me and started saying something I couldn’t quite understand. I kind of stared at her for a moment… Just enough time for her to get frustrated with me. “Mommy! Coo-ee!!” she yelled while pointing at my face.

“I don’t know what you mean, sweetie.” I replied.

So she touched a spot on my face. And when she pulled her finger away, there was a brown spot on it.

Chocolate.

I wiped my mouth and realized I had a huge blob of chocolate chip on my face.

Awesome. I had just been caught red-handed. So I grabbed the tin and gave her a cookie. “Here you go, honey. Have a cookie.”

She smiled and trotted off.

I stood in the kitchen for a moment, watching her walk away happily, realizing I had been found out by a 23-month old.

The kid. She’s too smart for her own good.

Mama’s in trouble.

 

About the Author:

Heather Dixon is a copywriter at Mabel’s Labels, a smoothie aficionado, a runner, a wife and a Mom to two – soon to be three! – highly advanced little girls (according to her husband and her).

Strategies for Kids Who Refuse to Keep Their Sun Hats On

The weather is getting warmer and many parents are heading out into the sunshine with their fair skinned tots.  Wise parents know it’s sun smart to wear a hat when outside. Unfortunately, most kids simply think sun hats make good Frisbees! It’s infuriating trying to get a wee one to keep their hands off their hats!

Here is an alternative solution to nagging our children about keeping their hats on during the next stroller ride.  No tape required!

Natural Consequences

While lessons taught by Mother Nature (the “natural laws of living”) are the best teachers, they are not suitable if the consequence:

• Is too severe –> like heat stroke

• Is too distant –> like skin cancer

• Involves many others –> like an entire day camp having to leave the park because one child is unprepared for the sun.

So, while I love natural consequences as a tool for teaching very young children, they can’t be applied for sun hats.  In such cases we must instead turn to the next best parenting tool: logical consequences.

Logical Consequences

Logical consequences help children understand that there are also “social laws of living”. They teach children that their personal freedoms also include taking responsibility.  In order for a logical consequence to be effective it must meet the criteria of each of the “4 R’s”.  A consequence must be:

• Related

• Respectful

• Reasonable

• Revealed in advance

A simply stated logical consequence for sun hats would be: “You need to wear a hat to be in the sun. If the hat comes off, you need to come inside.” Meaning, if you would like the freedom of going out in the sun, you must show me you can also assume the responsibility of wearing a hat which is required.

Remember that consequences must be logical to the child’s thinking. And the child learns from experiencing the consequence; not from the threat of the consequence, so lectures are not needed. Action is.  I know what you are thinking… Won’t it be too inconvenient to come inside whenever hats come off? Sure, initially you may have to haul them in repeatedly, however if you plan for this step (training the child by having them experience the consequence repeatedly) you’ll come to see it as ” teaching time” and not an inconvenience.  A trained child does not need constant correction.  You will spend more time correcting a child than taking time for training them in the first place!

Here is how it will look in real language and actions:

When you are getting ready to play in the sun say: “We need our hats on. If hats are off, we need to come in.”  Proceed to play in the back yard with your child.

When the hat comes off, take them by the hand and state: “Your hat is off. I guess you’ve chosen to be inside.” Extend your hand to lead them inside.

If they do not take your hand, offer a choice: “Can you come in on your own or do you need my help?”

If they resist you can lead them by the hand, stating calmly: “I see you need some help getting inside.”  If they refuse to walk, carry them in.

If they repent and ask to stay outside with their hat on, continue inside saying: “The time for deciding has come and gone – you hat off tells me you already picked going inside.  No worries, you can decide again when we come out to play later.” You must follow through on going inside or the consequence is lost.

Mistakes are Opportunities for Learning!

The child now realizes they don’t like their decision.  They feel they have made a mistake because they are inside and would prefer to be outside in the sun. But, it’s okay to make mistakes. They are just opportunities to learn. Keep the situation positive by telling them they’ll manage and can try again later.  Stay positive. Don’t rub their noses in it.  It’s hard, but imperative that you drop your desire to lecture and remind. These moves hurt the learning process by putting attention on the parent’s words instead of the child connecting the dots between their choices and the outcomes they produce.

Give them lots of opportunities to try again.

After coming inside, find a brief activity (even as short as 5 minutes) and then try going out again. You want to give your child lots of opportunities for trying out the consequences of their own choices.   Hat on, stay out.  Hat off, go inside.   Period.

After experiencing both of these outcomes repeatedly, cause and effect will be learned and your children will decide for themselves that it is better to keep their hats on, without nagging and scotch tape.

Try it – let me know how you do!

Alyson

 

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.

 

Related Posts with Thumbnails