Monday, March 29, 2010

Guidelines for Child Behavior Improvement

This is the first of several Child Behavior Posts to come.
As I mentioned before, all of these principles were taught to me by my good friend, Marsha Lima.
This is simply my attempt to share what I believe to be amazing parental information with anyone who is interested.
Basic Guidelines for Behavior Improvement

In nearly EVERY situation there are 3 guidelines that can be used to help improve your child's behavior.

Once these have been implemented into your daily routine, specific 'rules' can be added to work on individual situations and to improve the overall progress of your child's behavior.
(These rules will be discussed in upcoming posts)

The 3 guidelines are:
1) Know what YOU want
2) The 'Yes' Mode
3) First this - Then that

#1: Know what you want
Most of the time, your child know's exactly what he wants.
You need to know what YOU want.

Think of a situation where your child often acts out of line; ie: screaming in the middle of church, running away when you try to change a diaper, complaining about not wanting to brush teeth, etc.
You need to know specifically what you want to have happen in that situation.

Ask yourself: What do I want _______ to be like?
(What do I want church / diaper changes / bedtime to be like?)
Do not concentrate on the "dont's".  Ie: "I don't want Cannon to throw a fit".
Knowing what you don't want doesn't necessarily mean you know what you do want, so be specific.
Ie: I want Cannon to sit down quietly and eat.

If you know exactly what you want, you are on the right track of getting your child to actually DO it.
If you focus on what you don't want, you are unaware of what you are trying to get your child to do.

#2: The 'Yes' Mode
Once you know what you want, you need to get your child into the 'yes' mode, so he/she will be willing to cooperate.

This is when you figure out what your child wants.

Be specific.
Don't ask "what do you want?"
Ask Yes/No questions:
- Do you want to get down?, - Do you want to play with your toy?, etc.
Once they have answered 'yes', they are in the yes mode.

So... now you know exactly what YOU want, and exactly what THEY want.

#3: First This - Then That
Once you have gotten your child into the 'yes' mode, this strategy helps them willingly accomplish what it is you would like them to do.

For example:
"Do you want to go outside?"
"Okay.  First we need to finish lunch"

It is really important that you say the work "okay" before you tell them what they need to do.
This assures your child that you are agreeing to give them what they want.
Then you tell them what they need to do first.

This gives your child the choice.

Just remember: if they don't give you what you want, they don't get what they want.
Soon enough they will realize that they get what they want only after they do what you ask. 

Don't expect this to work right away, because I can guarantee that it wont!
When I first started doing this with Cannon it literally took me over an hour to even get him into the 'yes' mode.
Especially in the beginning stages, everything you are doing is going to be new to your child, and that in and of itself is going to throw them for a loop.
Be consistant, and don't give in.
Anything worth while is going to take work.
Even after I was able to get Cannon to cooperate, it took a few days for him to realize that this was the new way things were going to be handled.
Breaking habits are much harder than forming them, and that it what you are going to be doing for the first little while.

Some important things to remember:
- The whole point is to let your child make the decision.
If he decides to do it, he will do it without force (not always willingly, but he will do it).
Ideally, both you and your child get what they want, so everybody wins.

- Your kid is going to do EVERYTHING he can think of to stretch your limits and find a weak link.
Don't give up!
They will catch on soon enough and it will be so much better after that!

- Also, if it isn't an option, don't offer it as one.
If they can see that the family is packing up to go out the door and you say something like "finish your dinner or you are staying home", be prepared to stay home!
Kids are smart enough to know if you mean it or not.
False threats are only going to set you in the opposite direction.

Finally, start small.
Think of one situation at a time to work on, and move up from there.
I hope this was helpful.
It really is much harder to explain without being able to talk back and forth, but I use this strategy every day of my life, and it really works!.
Please please please feel free to ask if you have any questions!

Now go teach some behavior improvement skills!

Friday, March 26, 2010

An Introduction to Child Behavior Notes

We have an amazing family friend named Marsha Lima.
She is a child behavior specialist (my husband calls her the 'Chid Whisperer').
Truly, she is amazing.
She has over 40 years of experience working with children.
Any parenting/behavior question I may have, she is sure to have an answer.
And the best part? It always works. Always.
I was lucky enough to get to work with her when Cannon was with Kids on the Move, and now we get to have her again!
Different children, different problems, and she teaches the same principles.
I just love it.
I began (literally) taking notes from her years ago.
Attending her class was one of the best things I've done as a mother.
She is not interested in writing a book (or writing anything down for that matter), but I need that sort of thing to remember.
And so... I am going to be writing posts on some of her
basic principles of child behavior.
All of which I have tried, personally, and found them to work.
My hope is that they will help in whatever situation you may encounter with your kids!
I am a firm believer that children can be molded into whatever we want them to be (not in a bad way).
Most of the time they act a certain way because we, as parents, are teaching them to do so (subconsciously or not).
Everything she has taught me has made major improvements in my parenting skills.

My biggest disclaimer in writing about any of these is that it may portray me to be somewhat of an expert, and I am not!
I want that to be perfectly clear before I even begin.

All of these ideas are from my friend Marsha - I will simply be writing about my personal experiences and how they have helped me.
They truly have been a remarkable blessing in my life as a mother.

I have decided to write one post per week (on Monday's) focusing on individual rules/principles that she has taught me, so check back in a few days for the first one!

Make it a great day!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pasta Pets

The boys had a fun time with these.
Not that they really made anything; but they enjoyed watching and telling me what to make.
I think they just liked the feel of the pipe-cleaners.
And of course they enjoyed the end result.

Pasta Pets

Materials Needed:
- different colored chenille stems (pipe cleaners)
- dried noodles (we used penne)

 Here's How:
- Just shape the chenille stems into whatever animals you want to make.
- Use the noodles to help support the structures, or make animals without noodles.

**My favorite part: you can always straighten out the chenille stems and start over if you (or you chillins) mess up.  Hassle free.

I think they enjoyed playing with the chenille stems more than they did the animals, but either way they thought it was pretty cool.


This activity also requires them to thread noodles, which is always a good fine motor activity, as well as naturally allowing them to be creative.

Have fun!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Color Sorting Tray

At a recent 'parent teacher conference' I was going over some of Cannon's goals.
One was to be able to sort things - by shape, size, color, etc.
I am working on a Sorting Train at the moment (coming soon).  
Until I finish with that, I had to improvise.

This idea came to me a few days later.

Color Sorting Tray

I just took two rows and cut them out from an old egg carton flat.
I colored in each hole with a different marker:
red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, white, brown and black

Fast and easy - and nobody cares when it gets thrown out!

I have a big jar of multi-colored beads that I thought would work perfectly...

Buttons or marbles would also work well.
Just use whatever you have on hand.

He had fun with it...

It also ended up being a great fine motor activity.
Especially if you are working on the pincer grasp

Either way, this is a quick project you can put together to keep your kid occupied for at least a few minutes.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Star Finger Puppets

Need a quick craft idea?
One that doesn't need a ton of materials or time?
This is a perfect solution!

Star Finger Puppets

Materials Needed:
5x5" piece white cardstock
5x5" piece printed paper
Black magic marker
Tape or glue

Here's How:
Free hand or trace a star (or whatever shape you wish to use) on the printed paper, and cut it out.
 Trace or draw two small holes (for the fingers), and cut them out.

Free hand or trace a slighter larger star on the white cardstock, and cut it out.

With the extra scraps of cardstock, draw and cut out eyes, and two 4-point stars for the smile.

Tape or glue the printed start to the white cardstock, and cut the holes through the cardstock as well.

Attach the eyes and the stars, and draw a line connecting them to make the smile

And you're done!

Once I explained to Cannon what it was, he thought the idea was pretty cool.

However... he had a slight heart attack when he realized that mom cut the holes too small, and his fingers were hurting, and he couldn't get it off...

My hubby was able to get a good picture through the tears...

Good times...

A day or two later and he was ready to try again!
Until then he preferred to use them as Chinese Ninja Stars, throwing them all over the house, accompanied of course with his own sound effects.

Not exactly the reaction I had in mind, but it provided some good entertainment.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Feeding Ducks

The weather has been fairly wonderful lately, and I am trying to take advantage of the outdoors.

My kids love to visit the ducks.

We live right next to a small pond where these two ducks were let loose by a former owner.

They don't take very long to come to you...

If Cannon wasn't chicken they would eat right out of his hand.
They usually end up chasing him... 

 He ends up getting scared and tossing his stash of bread

See him trying to escape?  That's my boy!

Lincoln on the other hand, ends up chasing the ducks.
They find him to be a bit too friendly.

I have spent well over an hour at this location more than once.
My kids love it!