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The Child Manual
Our children did not come with a manual and as parents have to feel our way through situations wondering if we are doing the right thing. Here are some ideas that will help you to deal with everyday issues.
1. Ask - Tell - Act. A pathway to compliance
Your child may be used to a special 'dance' when you want them to do as they are told. Mum or Dad nag, plead, fuss, fume and threaten.
Take a new stance. Ask nicely. "Chloe please put your school bag away."
Tell firmly. "Put your school bag away."
If your child refuses, be calm and keep the problem with them.
"Chloe your afternoon tea is ready when your bag is away."
Remember you are the big person. Prepare yourself to ask your child to do something and ask pleasantly then wait. Then tell and wait. Then act and follow through.
Let the consequences do the teaching is the principle for discipline. Consequences work best when the child knows ahead of time what will happen if a rule is broken. Communicate the consequence calmly. If the rule is broken you can offer empathy and emotional support but don't step back from following through.
"I'm sorry that you won't be able to go to your friend's place to play because I know you love it there. I hope that you will be able to make a better choice next time so that you get to go."
3. Positive Boundaries get Kids Thinking
Hearing the word no doesn't have to be a disaster for kids if Mum and Dad are positive about sometimes having to be negative. Encourage budding negotiators with statements like;
"No, I'm not happy with that suggestion for these 2 reasons; ......., Why don't you think up another one and bring it back for me to reconsider?"
Or for a younger child; "Yes, you can do that, as soon as you've done......."
A boundary can be an invitation to put the brain in gear and think win-win for kids and parents.
4. Stay Calm When Your Child Is Upset - Tantrums
Recognise the two types of tantrums:
· One is where a child is battling against their own inability to do something and they need support and comfort from you. When kids are tired, hungry, dealing with transitions or over stimulated, they can become frustrated or overloaded and break-down
· The other is a battle to get their own way. In this instance they need to be given emotional distance from you. This type of tantrum occurs when your child tries to manipulate you to giving in to his screaming, foot stomping or dramatics. If a child is in this type of tantrum because he doesn't want to put his shoes on, sit at the table etc, use calm words like "You are not ready yet. I will come back when you are ready."
You will be able to pick the two types of tantrum. If you try to cuddle a child who is in the middle of a control tantrum, he will push you away.
What can you do with anger? You could repress it into passive aggression; or you could blow up, or reprocess it. Choosing to reprocess will help you turn it into either useful action or a more appropriate emotion.
Anger from our children often brings out the anger in us.
Our response to them models what to do with anger.Give your child the gift of processing anger so they know they have got options. When they feel angry they can go somewhere to cool off.
Be available for your child to talk about their feelings. Forcing a child, especially a boy, to talk while they are still flooded with hot emotions might escalate, rather than calm and clarify the situation.
Go over the steps of what to do next time they feel so mad
6. Authority And Discipline
Our children are our most precious resource. They come to us with one request: "During our short eighteen years with you, please teach us the truth about life and prepare us to be responsible adults when we leave home and enter the real world." Let's grant our kid's request. Let's love them enough to allow them to learn the necessary and crucial skill of responsible thinking and living.
Queen Christina of (Sweden 1626-1689) abhorred fleas and declared war on them, determined to exterminate personally each one in her household. To this end she had a special miniature cannon built - four inches long with tiny cannonballs. Whenever she saw a flea, she aimed and fired her Lilliputian cannon at it. This midget cannon is today on exhibit in the Stockholm arsenal. The fleas had obviously got up her Royal nose, hence her odd behaviour.
The Queen's behaviour was irrational. Often parents do equally idiotic things like grounding a teenager for six weeks when they break a curfew (one weekend is enough to make the point). So here are a few points on family discipline that I hope will reduce parents' odd behaviour. The Oxford dictionary defines discipline as follows: "bring under control, train to obedience and order, drill; punish; chastise.' Tough stuff! But many parents fail at discipline because of inconsistency. If you expect to be obeyed the first time you speak, discipline must begin immediately if obedience doesn't.
Children are pretty smart - patience, repetition and consistency are all it takes for them to learn what you expect. The alternative is children who know that they can avoid obeying until Mum or Dad loses her/his temper and starts screaming. A child who never learns to accept any authority without first trying to negotiate will have problems later in life.
7. Because in real life there are such creatures as crotchety teachers, demanding bosses and unsympathetic flatmates. A parent who disciplines consistently teaches the child how to live in the real world.
Anti-social behaviour should be tackled early in life. For instance, when a toddler strikes a parent, grab their hand, hold it, and say "No. Do not hit Mummy!". Even if the child can't understand the words, they can understand the displeasure in your tone. This contrasts with the times you smile, laugh and reward positive behaviour. Toddlers are explorers, but their exploring can often be dangerous or expensive. Some parents clear the breakables and turn homes into a desert. Others put away their valuables or dangerous household items, but leave out items which enhance the home environment. Toddlers can then be taught "the out of bounds' areas or items in a room. Consistent, firm discipline coupled with reasonable demands does not restrict curiosity, but instead teaches that in a real world there are things you do not touch.
When children forget or defiantly step across an established boundary, it is usually because while they have intelligence, they often lack wisdom. Loving discipline is a valuable teaching aid for parents teaching wisdom. Part of wisdom is learning that actions have consequences. It is better for children to learn that their actions have consequences by breaking a vase when they are toddlers than by getting pregnant when they are teenagers! So if your teenager calls you a "bleeding female dog' (or words to that effect), tell them you do not want to be spoken to like that. Later when they ask you to drive them to the shops, say with a smile in your voice, "What a shame. "Bleeding Female Dogs' don't do such kind things!". One of the sad things I hear from parents at our seminars are statements like, "I thought they would grow out of their temper tantrums, but they only got worse. Now as a teenager they are out of control." I believe the only way children will grow out of such undisciplined behaviour is by the actions of a parent-coach who says, "If you continue with this behaviour, you will be on the bench!"
When parenting with "Love and Logic' we strive to offer our children a chance to develop that needed positive self-concept. With love enough to allow the children to fail, with love enough to allow the consequences of their actions to teach them about responsibility, and with love enough to help them celebrate the triumphs, our children's self-concept will grow each time they survive on their own. When "Love and Logic' parents talk to their kids, they always:
· Ask questions
· Offer choices
8. Messages that Lock in Love....
· You do a great job of thinking for yourself.
· You are always a good helper when I need you.
· There's always a lot of love here regardless of what happens.
· It looks as if you will always be able to solve your own problems.
· I bet you feel good when you do such a nice job.
9. Be Specific With Your Goals
Children become discouraged when we do not set specific, achievable and reasonable goals.
· Telling them that they will not be getting a treat if their behaviour does not improve, is vague and hard to measure.
Let your child know exactly what you want to see and what outcome you plan if they work hard.
· "When you have shown me for one week that you can keep consistently to your bed time routine, I will be happy to discuss a later bedtime."
10. Do You Inspire or Discourage?
Words can be incendiary embers fanning resentment or they can produce calm, remorse or at least a solution.
Your eleven-year-old has been rude to you. You are all ready to blast him with, "Don't expect to be going anywhere with that sort of an attitude!"
Check yourself. Breathe deeply. Will those words really help the situation or inflame it? Are you responding wisely or just reacting out of hurt pride? Dig deep and, instead, choose to inspire your child.
"I know you can talk to me respectfully. As soon as you are ready to ask me politely we can discuss this."
Children want to be inspired
11. Let Your Children Think For Themselves
If you don't let your child know that you believe they can think for themselves and come up with a good plan, they will have to rebel or become dependent and clingy.
If they make mistakes that are not morally threatening or physically threatening, like spending all their allowance on a dress they never wear again, then the natural consequences of not having anything to spend for the rest of the month will kick in. If they lose their library book for instance, encouragwe them to think of a good plan to sort the problem.
Refrain from lectures and nagging. It undoes the lesson they could learn.
12. When Kids Fight
Adults are there to give children justice. Even though children should have the freedom to resolve their own differences, they are also entitled to adult intervention when necessary.
· If one child is being abused by another, either physically or verbally, we've got to step in.
· If there's a problem that is disrupting the entire household, we've got to step in.
· If there's a problem that keeps coming up that hasn't yielded to their solutions, we've got to step in.
But the difference is: we intervene, not for the purpose of settling their argument or making a judgment, but to open the blocked channels of communication so that they can go back to dealing with each other.
13. How to handle the fighting
1. Acknowledge their anger.
"You two sound mad at each other!"
2. Reflect each child's point of view.
"So Sarah, you want to keep on holding the puppy, because he's just settled down in your arms. And you Billy, feel you're entitled to a turn too."
3. Describe the problem with respect.
"That's a tough one: Two children and only one puppy."
4. Express confidence in the children's ability to find their own solution.
"I have confidence that you two can work out a solution that's fair to each of you and fair to the puppy."
from Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, (Avon Books)
14. How to give support to the child who asks for it without taking sides
JIMMY: "Daddy, I can't finish my map for school. Make her give me the crayons!"
AMY: "No. I have to colour my flower."
1. State each child's case.
"Let me get this straight. Jimmy, you need the crayons to finish your homework. And, Amy, you want to finish colouring."
2. State the value or rule.
"Homework assignments get top priority."
3. Leave the doorway open for the possibility of negotiation.
"But Jimmy, if you want to work something out with your sister, that's up to you."
4. Let them solve it
"I'll be very interested to hear your solution."
15. Use Rewards Carefully
Use rewards as special treats, not as bribes to buy co-operation.
Reward a child when they go above and beyond expectations, e.g. taking care of a younger sibling or helping out with a big chore. Rewards can be useful in kicking off a new pattern of behaviour, such as learning a new chore or breaking a habit like thumb sucking.
The trick is to, as rapidly as possible, wean the child off 'external' rewards and onto 'internal' rewards, where they feel good about doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do.
Praise, encouragement and gratitude from parents can be the best reward.
"That is a real big job - fancy you can now do that all by yourself! You're a real helper."
Your gratitude is sweeter than any biscuit!
Rewards don't have to be sweets. They can be an outing to the park with Dad, or half an hour later to bed. Avoid making rewards always about food.
16. The 80%/20% Rule
A good rule of thumb to measure the family atmosphere is the idea that 80% of the interaction with your children and teenagers needs to be positive. This leaves 20% to spend on pulling them up, addressing problems and correcting.
A wise parent will need to decide what is worth fighting for and what is simply the 'small stuff'. For example - Is the messy bedroom important today when she is in the middle of exams? What may be important, at exam time, is putting a curfew on texting after 7pm.
The other 80% of interaction should be invested in encouragement, warm drinks of milo, affection, ensuring
needs are met and being a listening ear.
17. Nagging - Let The Whiteboard Do The Talking
Want to save your voice and your head from doing the thinking for your kids?
· Get a whiteboard and write up everyone's daily tasks.
· Let each child check and monitor his or her own progress.
· Then you only have to remind them to look.
· A Friday night celebration dessert comes out when everyone has ticked all their boxes.
18. Establish the boundaries and make them stick
Children can wear you down! They know exactly what gets on your nerves and will push you to your limit, if you let them. Realise this: you only need persist with your limit one time more than your child makes her demand. If she challenges your request three times, you only have to stand firm and make your request four times. That's all you need - one more. Have some cheerleader friends who will help you hold that line. As you do, children understand that Mum really does mean it this time, and they begin to de-escalate their efforts.
Try the cracked record technique, "Yes, I know that makes you sad, but we are not going to the park until you make your bed." "I'm sorry that you are angry, but I am not taking you to the park until you make your bed." "I hear what you are saying, but I have decided not to take you to the park until you make your bed." By all means empathise with their feelings, but gently restate your boundary.
19. Don't be a rescuing parent
Don't be a chronic rescuer when it comes to your child, but occasional 'grace' will build strong bonds of love.
We all need someone to come to our rescue occasionally. Let your children know that they have one free delivery per term (that is the 'grace' bit). Whereby you will deliver to school, or the important function, what they have forgotten.
Apart from that your children must live with the consequences of their own forgetfulness. If they leave their lunch at home, they will have to borrow or go hungry etc. The consequences will be the best teacher of remembering next time
20. Build Strong Characters
Model what you want your children to learn.
Let them see you apologise when you are wrong. - It is OK to be wrong.
Let them see you being kind and generous to others when they need your help. - It is OK to have empathy.
Let them see you stand up for what is right. - It is OK to be strong
21. Greetings and Goodbyes
Always communicate when you leave and when you arrive home. Come and go with an expression of love.
Let your loved ones know when you are leaving home and when you have returned. It sets a positive tone and atmosphere in your family. It tells each member you care about them and are glad to be home. When parents model the courtesy of letting each other know where they are going and when they will be back, then it will be easier to get the children to do the same thing.
Ideas by The Parenting Place
For more detailed information go to: http://www.theparentingplace.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=16&Itemid=35