Children who get too much validation for being good find it very difficult to handle the tiniest mistake without feeling they are failures. These children, if they do make a mistake, are apt to lie, or worse, avoid activities that they are not sure they will succeed at to cover the fact they are not perfect.
Is your child being good to win approval? Or are you blessed with a sensible little person who always seems to get it right?
Things to do and say to ensure your child doesn't become an approval seeker:
1. Don't compare. Don't say, 'Look at your sister, she is sitting up well.' Or, 'Why can't you be good like your brother/cousin?' It makes the 'bad' child feel bad and therefore act 'bad' and it puts pressure on the 'good' child to please you.
2. Use encouragement. Notice progress and effort rather than results. Say, 'You are working hard at keeping your room tidy' instead of 'good boy'. Separate the behaviour from the person. That is, keep what people do, separate from who they are, so that a bad behaviour does not make the person bad, nor a good behaviour make a person good. This is very important for self- esteem.
3. Say 'Try again!' to let your children know that it is ok to make a mistake and that they are wonderful opportunities to learn. Create a ritual during car trips/ dinner of having everyone take turns sharing a mistake and what they learned from it.
4. Make sure your children get the message that ANYONE can fall down, but it takes courage to get up and try again.
5. Don't let your children get away with avoiding new activities. Let them know they can decide to stop an activity after at least three or four activities. This will help to reduce the likelihood of your child not taking risks in case they are not the 'best'.
Teach that a mistake is just that, a mis/take. It is impossible to grow and learn without making them..... and that is what being a kid is all about isn't it?
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What's great about this is it can be done at any time. No one will notice. Simply use the thumb of one hand and press around the palm of the other hand. It's very soothing.
By pushing your palms together and holding for five to ten seconds, you give your body "proprioceptive input," according to Brukner, which "lets your body know where it is in space."
It is said that 80 percent of sensory stimulation comes in through the eyes, so shutting them every now and then gives your brain a much-needed break. Highly sensitive people can benefit from staying in bed with their eyes closed. They don't have to be sleeping. Having the eyes closed allows for some chill time and a break from being bombarded with stimulation.
To do this you breathe in to a count of five through your mouth and then you let out a very loud sigh.
Bring your hands, arms extended, in front of you, then bring the arms down. Next bring your arms (still extended) to your sides and then down. Next bring your arms all the way past your head and then swoop down allowing your head to dangle between your knees and hung there for a second. This exercise is extremely effective at releasing the tension we hold in different parts of our body.
Did you know that a ten-second hug a day can change biochemical and physiological forces in your body that can lower risk of heart disease, combat stress, fight fatigue, boost your immune system, and ease depression? You can begin by giving yourself a hug. By squeezing your belly and back at the same time, you are again giving yourself proprioceptive input (letting your body know where you are in space), which can help stabilize you.
Another great exercise to ground kids (and adults) with sensory integration issues, according to Brukner, is the wall push, where you simply push against the wall with flat palms and feet planted on the floor for five to ten seconds. Placing the weight of our body against a solid, immobile surface and feeling the pull of gravity is stabilizing, even on a subconscious level.
If you do yoga, the superman pose is basically the airplane position, except the arms and the hands are stretched out in front of you, not to the sides. Lie on your tummy on the floor. Extend your arms in front of you, and hold them straight out. Extend your legs behind you and hold them straight out. Hold that pose for ten seconds. It's a great exercise if your child is sleepy, overexcited, distracted, or antsy.
Did you know that animals relieve their stress by shaking? Lots of animals shake off their fear after being frozen in panic to escape a predator. So give it a go, get your children to get their shake on!
The Bubble Breath is very simple and calming.
Breathe in for five seconds, out for five seconds.
Imagine you have a wand of bubbles. When you breathe out, be careful not to pop it.
Place one flat palm on your heart, one flat palm on your belly.
Breathe in through your nose and hold your breath for five seconds.
Breathe out a large "bubble" though pursed lips, blow out for five seconds.
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To get children to tune into what you have to say we need to follow the advice of successful advertisers. You've only got a few seconds say the headline only. Coca-Cola doesn't say, we think you'll like Coca-Cola, it is black and fizzy, it was developed by scientists in Germany for medicinal purposes etc. etc. They say: Coca-Cola is the best drink, buy it now!
When a child is misbehaving you're lucky to get their attention at all, so don't push it by trying to explain WHY they have to change what they are doing. They won't be listening. You will be wasting oxygen and words. Teaching, or filling in the 'why' is for later when everyone is calm and not misbehaving.
Giving instructions once, is about being assertive and in charge, repeating yourself actually puts the child in charge. It tells them that you have got nothing else but to keep repeating yourself.
Giving the instruction clearly is about telling the child what you want them to do. We often tell children what we don't want them to do, which is too abstract for a child who is misbehaving.
Children change their behaviour more easily through replacement not erasure. It is too much to expect them to just stop behaviour without giving them something to replace it with.
E.g. Instead of, "Stop running in the house!!" say, "Sam, walk in the house. Thank-you."
Remember: Say thank-you at the end of the instruction, not please or 'O.K?' Saying thank you is polite and sends the message that you expect it to happen. It stops you from raising your voice at the end, which changes your clear directive into a question. Children are clever, if you ask them a question they know they have the right to answer either way!
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Following are some more suggestions to help take the ;scary' out of technology use:
1. Require access to all email and social media accounts and know your children's passwords:
Let them know UP FRONT that you'll check text messages, emails and social media accounts. It's not spying on them you are giving them fair warning that you'll be checking to help keep them safe.
2. Implement a technology curfew:
Phones, computers and gaming devices must be turned off during meals and by an agreed upon time each night. " Technology blackout" times encourage families to do things together and forces children to get creative with their free time. It also means that they are more likely to sleep at night instead of staying up using their devices. Once you have spoken about this with your children, you can use parental control apps to schedule locks on all devices if you think that is necessary. Remember though, that the goal is to help your children learn self- restraint.
3. You can make bedrooms off-limits for technology:
Require that computers and smartphones be used in public spaces and charged in a central area like the kitchen.
Be very clear about the positive and negative consequences. If your child follows your house's standards be sure to find a way to recognize their efforts, verbal encouragement is ok but spending time together doing something your child enjoys is great. If your child won't comply with your technology standards, the devices go away for a break, again for a previously agreed on time. This means they might have to use the computers at school for homework and go back to the most basic mobile phone without texting capability and internet access.
5. Set an example as good digital citizens:
Forty-six percent of kids have seen Mum or Dad use the phone during dinner, and 49 percent don't see anything wrong with it. If the kids witness you doing it, they will assume its approved behavior. That means no texting while driving (not even at red lights!), or it's safe to assume your kids will follow suit when it's their turn behind the wheel.
6. Find apps that encourage impulse control and creativity:
Remember that technology can have a positive effect on children and their families.
This can occur when it is used for a balance of learning, communication and entertainment, when parents are very clear about what they are comfortable with in terms of technology use and when they stick to the boundaries they set .. without succumbing to peer pressure.
Remember that learning using technology is more rewarding and engaging than traditional learning and can be very helpful if your child needs repetition to learn. It can promote social engagement during games if children are playing together or by talking about the games they play. Some apps are being developed now that are designed to increase attention and improve impulse control, thus counteracting the main detrimental effects to development that technology can cause.
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1. Computers, video games and T.V are great, they can be educational and can teach hand-eye co-ordination, but there is a down side. They are actually passive activities that limit creativity. Have you noticed your children will misbehave straight after they finish watching TV or playing on the computer? This is often because their brains are having trouble transitioning from passive to active. They might not be bored; their brain just needs a re-boot. Get your children into the routine of jumping on the trampoline, running around the yard, doing star jumps etc for a few minutes after a passive activity. They will be more likely to be able to think of something to do themselves then.2. In the mornings or at the beginning of each week, brainstorm activities together that they can do when they are bored. Get them to write a list or draw pictures illustrating the ideas. When they come to you to say they are bored, get them to check the list and choose something from there.
3. Listen, and acknowledge that you have heard what they are saying, without trying to fix it for them. Say, 'I'm sorry that you are bored. Let me know what you come up with to do.' Or ' I understand that, I feel bored sometimes myself.
5. Say that you would be very happy to show them how to vacuum, clean the car, wipe the ledges etc. Maybe they will want to, or maybe they will get as far away as possible and find something much more attractive to do.6. Be realistic, nobody is suggesting that children should be left to their own devices the entire holidays, have a routine, one that balances:
Time for household jobs
Time for spending with you when you need to get things done, such as grocery shopping
Time for playing together (spending quality time)
Time for organized activities/ time with friends that they can become engaged in
Time to be independent (but not Bored!).
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