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Parenting

Fun Ways to Teach Children Through Stories and a Deck of Cards

Teaching children is not an easy task. And yet, it is one of the most important responsibilities you hold as parents. It cannot and must not be delegated to others. But then, you may feel lost, inadequate or ill-prepared to teach.

Source: Pixabay

Teaching children is not an easy task. And yet, it is one of the most important responsibilities you hold as parents. It cannot and must not be delegated to others. But then, you may feel lost, inadequate or ill-prepared to teach. Looking at various programs and methods for your child may feel like you need a Ph.D. in this area to succeed. Then there are the other excuses like “I have to work and don’t have the time,” or “I don’t have the patience.”

Well, here is your wake up call. Teaching can be simple, effective and doable. Reading to your children and using stories is a technique that can be done by anyone. When we read to our children, we boost their cognitive, emotional and behavioral learning.

The following are 5 reasons why using stories to teach is effective:

  1. The child doesn’t feel threatened. It’s not another lecture

Source: Wikimedia Commons

When we read to our children, we are able to address a situation in a non-threatening way. What do I mean by threatening? Let’s take a look at some examples of habitual phrases we tend to use when “teaching our lesson”:

“You shouldn’t lie.”

“You are so messy.”

“You shouldn’t be scared. You are just being silly.”

“You are not listening to me.”

Usually, this is done in a blaming or angry tone of voice. When we finger point and use the word “you”, children hear negative and the situation becomes tense. Some may even become defensive. Put yourselves in their shoes. If someone were to start attacking you with words, would you be in a teachable mood? I would think not. Rather than focusing on the solutions to the problems, children are focusing on their feelings of anger, hurt, fear, etc… that they are experiencing at that moment.

Using stories to teach, we take out the blame and place less emphasis on the problem. We talk and discuss solutions and speak positively. So instead of a lecture, we now have a healthy discussion.

2. Working on “prevention” and “cure”.

Source: Pixabay

When we use stories to teach, we help our children to deal with their current situations. It also allows us to mentally prepare them for situations that may arise. Children gain indirect experience through the stories we read. Children are able to learn from these as well as they also learn from real ones. The only difference is that this kind of learning takes place in the safety of your home. For example, you could use a book to teach your child what to do when they face such a situation.

3. The child has a model to follow. They identify with the characters in the book.

Source: Pixabay

Children make connections with the characters of the stories you relate to. You can help them further by asking questions such as:

Is there anyone in the book who reminds you of yourself?

How is that character like you?

Which character would you like to be?

Why would you want to be that character?

Relate the lesson to their own lives and experiences. In the story of Three Little Pigs, for instance, ask them what they would do to make the house strong?

After reading the story of The Little Engine, my daughter began to identify herself with The Little Blue Engine who said: “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” It served to be a good model for her to follow at times when she felt inadequate.

4. Children remember stories better than they remember reprimands. It’s a good way to catch their attention.

Source: Pixabay

In Making Connections: Teaching and the Human Brain (Addison-Wesley, 1994), Renate and Geoffery Caine state, “There is a strong reason to believe that organization of information in story form is a natural brain process… In a nutshell, neuroscience is discovering that the brain is wired to organize, retain and access information through story. If that is true, then teaching through story means that students will be able to remember what is taught, access that information, and apply it more readily.”

This is why children can rattle off dialogs from their favorite shows yet forget what their mom said about picking up their toys.

5. It allows critical thinking.

Source: Pixabay

Stories are a safe way for children to explore emotions and behaviors. A book like Jane Simmons’ Come Along, Daisy, encourages children to think about the importance of keeping close to their parents. Use thought-provoking questions that will lead them to identify problems and feelings. For instance, ask them “How did Daisy get separated from her mother?” and “What was Daisy feeling when she found her mother missing?”

The best kind of teaching you can use is to teach our children to be authors of solutions. Ask leading questions that will lead to the point of the story such as “How can Daisy avoid getting lost in the future?” What a boost it will be for your children to know they can come up with such genius solutions.

Reading and sharing stories with your children can help you become a better parent. It opens a channel of communication and strengthens the parent-child bond. The magic of stories can be a powerful influence for good. Does that magic exist in your home? Start reading to your child today.

Parenting

Strategies for Resolving Conflict with Your Children

Source: Pixabay

Conflicts between parents and children have gone on since time began. As a child starts to learn how to talk, it seems they have likewise learned how to say ‘no.’ And they often say it often about everything from bedtime to eating their vegetables. What’s even more maddening is when they fight you on things you know they do want, like a trip to the park. It begins to seem as though children exist to be contrary.

Thankfully there’s help available. Below is a list of four strategies that will help you resolve conflicts with your child. What’s even more amazing is that these techniques work well whether you’re dealing with a toddler or a teenager.

  1. Don’t get sucked into the tension of the moment. Conflict with children quickly escalates. One demand becomes another until you’re so wrapped up in the whirlpool that you can no longer think or make a rational decision. At that moment you need to step back and take some time away. Take a deep breath and be calm. It might be time to let someone else watch the kids while you step outside and take a walk.
    Walking away from a conflict with your child is something of an art. The last thing you want is for the child to think you’re not listening to what they have to say. But every argument reaches that point where no one is saying anything new. It’s about here that things start to get personal, and indeed uncomfortable. That is the point of taking a break. But even this takes skill. Excuse yourself quietly. It’s not the time for a dramatic exit. Whatever the case, you’re going to have to let your own emotions steady out before trying to help your child to calm theirs.
  1. Calm down. Clearing your head will help you to be both calmer and more rational. Once you’ve removed yourself from the situation, then take a few minutes for yourself. Breathe deeply. Practice mindfulness or even a lot of prayer until you’re in a better place and able to be in control of yourself. Find that inner peace.

Source: Pixabay

  1. Become an active listener. When your child is upset about something, before assuming they’re wrong, ask them to explain why they’re upset. Then listen to their answer. Ask questions. Clarify. And then repeat back to them what you thought you heard them say. It might be that they have a legitimate concern. Or it might be they’ve misunderstood the situation completely. Either way, you’re now in a better position to help find a resolution to the situation.
  2. Practice empathy. Realize that there might be something more going on with your child than there appears to be on the surface. That will not only help you to calm down, but also might show you a possible solution, or at least a new way to address your child in a way that’s respectful and more compassionate. Keep in mind that your insights might well show you that the problem is with you.

    Source: Pixabay

  3. Empower your child. Allow them to make some of their own decisions. For example, rather than getting involved in a long fight over what to wear, allow your toddler to choose at least part of their outfit. It’s about learning how to pick your battles, saving the fights for the things that matter.
  4. Reconcile. Try apologizing. Recognize that it does take two people to get into an argument. Apologizing acknowledges the part that you’ve played in the situation and invites your child to do the same. This is a great way to teach your child how to resolve conflicts in a healthy way.
  5. Reconcile. Try apologizing. Recognize that it does take two people to get into an argument. Apologizing acknowledges the part that you’ve played in the situation and invites your child to do the same. This is a great way to teach your child how to resolve conflicts in a healthy way.

    Source: Pixabay

    You don’t have to live in dread of a conflict with your child. Having conflict is inevitable. What you do need is to learn how to take back control when the conflicts happen. How you deal with conflict says a great deal about you as a parent.

    Remember, it’s up to you to decide how you want to react to these situations. Being able to keep your cool in trying situations is an invaluable skill and one well worth cultivating, especially in parenting.

    By staying calm and practicing these steps and you’ll soon find the road back to a peaceful resolution with your child, regardless of their age. And in the process teaching them the invaluable lesson of dealing with conflicts in a healthy way.

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Parenting

So You Have A Picky Eater?

Source: Pixabay

If you have a picky eater, mealtime can make you feel like you want to pull your hair out. It is frustrating for parents to watch their child only fiddle with their food at dinner or not even touch it, claiming they “don’t like it.” So what happens? Thirty minutes later guess who is hungry? You guessed it. Your little picky eater.

Jamie’s mother was concerned about Jamie’s lack of interest in food. She stated, “Jamie never wants to eat anything I fix for dinner. What can I do to encourage Jamie to eat the meals that I have prepared?” I came up with the following ten tips for her. You may find them useful as well.

TIP: INVOLVE JAMIE. You can have Jamie help with planning the menu or meal preparation. Kids are less likely to “turn up their nose” at something, they had a hand in.

TIP: PLACE A LIMIT ON JAMIE. Let’s think that Jamie is playing with her food at dinner and not really interested in eating it. Mom says, “Jamie, I will be serving breakfast at 7:00 a.m. try to eat enough to make it to then. You decide how much you will need. Oh! We will be clearing the table in _____ minutes.”

When Jamie comes to you later that evening complaining of being hungry. With an understanding tone, remind her that you will be serving breakfast at 7:00 a.m. as usual. Jamie will most likely be persistent about getting something else to eat. It is important that you follow through with the limit you have placed. Otherwise, Jamie learns that you do not mean what you say and you lose your credibility with her. You may have to tell her several times that you will be “serving breakfast at 7:00” until she realizes that you’re not going to give in.

Jamie: “Mom I’m hungry. Can I have some cookies?”

Mom: “Kids who eat all their dinner are welcome to have a snack after.”

Jamie: “But mom I’m really hungry.”

Mom: “I know Jamie. I would be hungry too if I ate as little as you did for dinner, but don’t worry I will be fixing a big breakfast at 7:00 a.m.”

Jamie: “What? Do you want me to starve?”

Mom: “I’ll be serving breakfast at 7:00 Jamie”

Jamie: “This isn’t fair.”

Mom: “I’ll be serving breakfast at 7:00 Jamie”

Jamie: “Fine!”

TIP: NOTICE THE EXCEPTIONS. Call attention to the times when Jamie eats most of her meals. “Wow! Jamie, you ate everything on your plate. Good job. You should be proud of yourself.” Too often, we only notice the negative aspects of our children’s behavior and that is what we reinforce with our negative attention.

Source: Pixabay

TIP: CATER TO JAMIE’S DESIRE TO BE “BIG”. “ You won’t like this halibut, Jamie. Usually, adults are the only ones who like halibut.” Guess what may just become Jamie’s new favorite food?

Source: Pixabay

TIP: PROVIDE VARIOUS CHOICES AROUND MEALTIME. “Would you rather sit by me or by mommy?” “You can eat with a fork or a spoon which would you prefer?” “Do you think you will need more potatoes or is that enough?” “Have as much as you think you will need to make it to dinner.” “Milk or juice?” “Should we eat at 7:00 or 7:30?”

Source: Pixabay

TIP: BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL. “You know dear, although spaghetti is not my favorite, I will eat it because I know how hard you worked to make it.”

Source: Pixabay

TIP: EXPOSURE. Encourage Jamie to try a variety of foods early on in her life before she knows anything different. Some children may have never thought eating liver was gross if it hadn’t been for what someone else had set their expectation to be.

Source: Pixabay

TIP: PROVIDE SOME FLEXIBILITY. Let’s remember there are some foods that certain children can not stomach. If Jamie has a problem with spinach, but it is part of that particular meal, try to have other items. This way she can get her fill up on once everyone has their share. But, this should be the exception rather than the rule.

Try letting Jamie dip her food in sauces, dressings, syrups, and ketchup. It may make them taste better to her.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

TIP: MAKE MEALTIME ENJOYABLE. Try to talk about things other than eating at mealtime. Dinner is a great time to talk to Jamie about how her day went. During breakfast, you can discuss what everyone has planned for the day.

Anyone pitching in to help prepare a meal can teach Jamie an important family value. An added bonus for children is that it can teach them important skills. It can be about thinking skills like timing, measuring, colors, comparisons, counting, and cause and effect.

Be creative in the ways that you dish up Jamie’s food. Mold her mashed potatoes into a volcano. Then, cut her meat or sandwich into bite-sized pieces. Poke toothpicks in them and layout veggies in the shapes of letters or numbers. You can also use a drop or two of food coloring to make it more interesting.

Source: Pixabay

TIP: LIMIT SNACKING. For children to be hungry enough to eat a meal they usually need to go two or three hours without food. However, it is difficult for children to go from noon to 6:00 p.m. without food. A nutritious snack after school would be fine to get Jamie to dinner, still having her appetite.

Source: Pexels

TIP: RECALL PAST SUCCESSES. Think back to the times when Jamie had eaten her meals. What were you doing? Were you placing a lot of emphasis on her need to eat her food? What was she doing? What were you eating? What happened before the meal? These kinds of questions may help you realize some of the things you or Jamie is already doing which assist her in becoming a better eater.

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Parenting

Six Ideas To Help You Discipline Your Kid

Source: Pixabay

Got a kid? Love him or her? Of course, you do. So when he or she misbehaves on a consistent basis, what’s the best way to administer discipline?

Well, as you may be aware, there is a wide range of thoughts on this subject. One school of thought teaches hands-off to let the children figure it all out on their own. No punishment or reward systems. Another extreme says that the Singapore model of “canning” people for littering is a good one.

Most of us find ourselves between these two nutty positions. And the word “nutty” is being charitable. If you don’t think so, then stop reading. You’re a lost cause and should find yourself in a nice rubber room so that you don’t hurt yourself or anyone else.

Every child responds to anything in different ways. Some kids have a very high “pain” threshold. They can take whatever penalties you exact as they stubbornly refuse to do what they should do. There are others who can be easily motivated by various token systems.

So how do you find out what method of discipline will work for your kid(s)?

In a word: experiment! Here are six ideas for proceeding.
#1 – Put on your “scientist hat.”Research what’s out there. No author knows your kid better than you do. Many research studies can lead to various strategies for your kids. So knowing what’s been done before is a very good strategy in and of itself.

#2 – Once you know what you can do, you can now start interacting with your kid(s). Learn to differentiate discipline and abuse as we live in a reality wherein two can be seen as the same thing. So be careful as you try different discipline ideas.

Important note: Remember your main goal in doing these ideas. If you want to raise good and intelligent children, be patient to see if one thing applies to your children.

#3 – When you find something that seems to work, don’t think you can finally relax. Don’t confuse short term hits with long term success. Your child may be responding well to your discipline. But when it wears off, your child may very well revert to the old behaviors that you tried to change. The tough phase will last for more than a few weeks. So give things at least 3-6 weeks to see if the changes are enduring.

#4 – Tweak before you make major changes in your efforts. For example, suppose you are rewarding your kid(s) with pizza at the end of the week if they do something right. You assume that they’re responding to novelty rather than the measures themselves. Rather than junking the measures, tweak them a bit to determine if your suspicion is valid. For example, you might vary the food rewards. Say, “Look – if you do good things, you get to pick what we have for Friday dinner.” You might be on the right track and tweaking gives you a chance to really find out.

#5 – If tweaking doesn’t work, then, by all means, try new approaches.

#6 – Finally, be humble enough to know that you might need professional support. This can be in the form of a therapist or counselor. You’ve got to be careful here because these professionals have different competency levels on how to deal with your case. Some would suggest certain drugs as the initial therapeutic intervention for your child. You have the right to be skeptical in such situations. Listen to your own inner voice here. No matter how good the intentions are, many therapists simply get things wrong. If the one you’ve initially selected isn’t right for your child or your family, try another.

There are also organizations that can help you find a decent therapist that you need. America and many other nations are rich in resources to help families. Look into them if your problems grow too intense for you to handle on your own.

Finally, use common sense. It may sound strange but you’ll be the only one to make the final decision. Regardless of any professional help, books, or online forums that you encounter, you’ll be responsible for your child. Use the best intelligence you can and proceed with caution.

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