You probably remember visiting the apartments of college friends who never had to clean up after themselves as a kid (and maybe you were that college kid!). But skipping the housework when you’re young can lead to one icky, unhealthy apartment when you’re grown up. So besides saving you, Mom, time and energy – which we all know are rare commodities – having your kids help clean now teaches them valuable survival skills they’ll one day need when they’re living on their own. But let’s face it: Getting kids to help clean can be hard. So sometimes you’ve just got to get creative.
Our family starts off our chores by playing a “categories” game, where we make a list of tasks that need to be done per room. Each of us, including my husband and me, then chooses the chores we’d prefer to do.
Most of the time, if our kids get to choose something they like (or at least don’t mind), they’re fairly happy to do it. If it comes down to a few chores no one wants to do, sometimes you just have to play parent and allocate – then stick to your guns.
Set a Timer (and Reward!)
Once the jobs are assigned, I set a timer and offer a small reward for the first one finished – as long as they’ve done a good job. I’m a firm believer in rewards. As adults, we work much harder when we get paid or rewarded in some way, and so do our children. Sometimes I don’t offer money at all; I might give my kids a special privilege instead, like staying up later, going to a friend’s house, etc.
One good thing about a timer: If your children are small, you can set it for a short time and give them very small chores. Once they see how easy it is to complete a task, they’ll be more willing to help in the future.
If All Else Fails: Allowance Rules
If the categories game doesn’t work at your house, you can also allocate a weekly set of chores for each child and offer them a set amount of money for completing their cleaning. Think of it as an allowance; if it’s work well done, it’s money well deserved.
Children with poor self-beliefs often have bombarded themselves for so long with a steady stream of derogatory messages. Their potential for success is greatly limited, because they don’t believe in their capabilities.
Self-talk is a critical part of how children acquire beliefs about themselves. One of the most powerful ways to help your youngster develop a firm belief in himself is to teach him to practice positive self-talk. If he learns the skill now, he’ll use it forever.
But what if you have a child who is a pessimistic thinker or has gotten into the habit of saying negative self-statements? Don’t despair, there are strategies you can use to turn negativity around.
Here is an example of how I helped a mom and dad turn their child’s negative thinking around and develop more positive inner dialogues.
FROM MY FILES: Meet Jose, His Parents, & How We Turned Negative Thinking Around
Six months after Jose appeared to adjust to his new school, the eight-year-old suddenly began protesting he didn’t want to go to school and complaining he had no friends. His mom noticed how often he reacted to situations by saying, “I can’t,” or “why bother?”, as though he assumed he’d fail.
Jose’s teacher confirmed he was using the same negative self-talk at school. His teacher and parents agreed that Jose’s new pessimistic attitude would be disastrous to his self-beliefs as well as to his learning, behavior and social competence.
But what could they do?
Jose’s teacher suggested that the parents call me for a visit and we arranged a time. I observed Jose, talked with his teacher’s and then chatted with his parents. It was obvious that Jose’s self-esteem was taking a steep decline due to his negative self-talk and beliefs. I explained to his parents the importance of children’s positive self-talk, and its potential to enhance self-confidence. I then offered six ideas that would help switch Jose’s negative thinking into more positive self-statements. I stressed that change takes time, but if they were consistent and encouraged Jose, change would happen.
We spent time reviewing each strategy. His parents decided to try the ideas, even though they knew it would take time and hard work. I stressed that they should try only one new idea at a time and provide many opportunities for Jose to practice the strategy so it would become a habit and he would finally be able to use it without their reminders.
A few weeks later, when Jose’s teacher called to say he seemed so much happier, was trying harder, and even making friends, the parents realized their efforts had actually paid off. Jose’s new behavior meant one thing: he was developing a more positive picture of himself. But the real golden moment came when I met with the family. Jose was the one who admitted the change, “No more stinkin’ thinkin’,” he said. “Now I catch myself!” Believe me, all four of us were wearing big smiles that day.
6 Ways to Turn “Cant’s” Into “Cans”
Helping a child break the habit of using negative self-talk is not easy. Like trying to break any habit, you’ll need to be consistent in your efforts to help change your child’s behavior usually for a minimum of three weeks.
Here are the six ideas I suggested Jose’s parents use to help their son develop a more positive self picture and reduce his negative self talk.
1. Model Positive Self-Talk
Recognizing that kids learn much of their self-talk from listening to others, Jose’s parents deliberately began saying more positive messages out loud so Jose would overhear them. One day his mom said, “I love the recipe I used today. I’m really liking how it turned out.” The same day his dad’s said: “I like how I really stuck to my ‘To Do’ list today and finished everything I’d planned.” At first they felt strange affirming themselves, but when they noticed their son praising himself more, they overcame their hesitancies.
2. Develop a Family “I Can” Slogan
Whenever someone in the family said, “I can’t,” they learned to say to the person: “Success comes in cans, not in cannots.” The simple little slogan became an effective way of encouraging family members to think more positively.
3. Point Out Stinkin’ Thinkin’
To remind Jose negative talk was not allowed, they created a private signal of pulling on their ear whenever he said a negative comment in public.
4. Confront Negative Voices
The boys’ parents gently encouraged him to talk back to his negative voice. They began by explaining how they confront their inner negative talk. His dad said,
“I remember when I was in school. Sometimes right before I’d take a test I’d hear a voice inside me say, ‘This stuff is hard. You’re not going to do well on this test.” I used to hate that voice, because it would take my confidence away. I learned to talk back to it, so I’d just say, ‘I’m a good learner. I’m going to try my best. If I try my best, I’ll do okay.’”
5. Turn Negatives Into Positives
The family developed a rule to combat negativity they called: “1 Negative = 1 Positive”. Whenever a family member said a negative comment, the sender must turn it into something positive.
If Jose said, “I’m so stupid.” His parents encouraged him to say something positive: “I’m pretty good at spelling.” Consistently enforcing the rule gradually diminished Jose’s use of negative statements.
They also taught Jose to reduce his self-defeating talk by helping him learn to say positive phrases instead. It’s best to help your child choose only one phase and help him practice saying the same phrase five or six times a day until he learns it.
Here are a few: • I know I can do it. • I can handle this. • I have confidence in me. • I’ll just do my best.
6. Send Positive Self-Statement Reminders
Their final step was to privately remind him to praise himself inside his head when deserved. The day he brought home a good spelling test, his mom said:
“Jose, you did a great job on your spelling test today. Did you remember to tell yourself inside your head what a super job you did?” After his soccer game, his dad said, “Jose, that was a great side kick you used today. I hope you praised yourself, because you sure deserved it.”
The technique took awhile for Jose to feel comfortable using, but gradually his comfort level increased as he slowly erased his negative thinking patterns.
Remember, change is possible but it takes consistent effort and a good plan.
Don’t give up!
Dr Borba’s book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, is one of the most comprehensive parenting book for kids 3 to 13. This down-to-earth guide offers advice for dealing with children’s difficult behavior and hot button issues including biting, tantrums, cheating, bad friends, inappropriate clothing, sex, drugs, peer pressure and much more. Each of the 101 challenging parenting issues includes specific step-by-step solutions and practical advice that is age appropriate based on the latest research. The Big Book of Parenting Solutions is available at amazon.com.
Happy Thanksgiving! Whether you had your turkey yesterday, or (like us) yours is delayed until today to accommodate friends and family, this is a time to give thanks for the good in our lives and to think about the plight of others who may be less fortunate. It is also a time when many of us parents reflect on how well our kids are developing the skills of gratitude and empathy. These are important skills year-round as they play critical roles in personal happiness, prosocial behavior and emotional intelligence or EQ.
Based on my reflection this week, we have some work to do in our house on both gratitude and empathy. Most days our son complains about his classes and the other kids at school, and focuses on the negative that happened. One bad experience can “ruin” a whole day. He also recently complained about “tension in the house” (among his parents) – but couldn’t seem to understand our situation and how his recent behavior issues (e.g. not getting his homework done on time, not doing what he’s told in a timely manner, arguing with us on almost every request – ah, the joys of tween-dom!) contributed to said tension. Don’t get me wrong, Elliott is generally a happy and sweet kid, but he’s definitely not seeing enough of the bright side of life these days. However, based on my conversations with other parents of kids his age at recent sports events, we aren’t alone in this experience. Why is it so hard to help kids, especially in the tween and teen phases, learn gratitude and empathy?
Well, first of all these skills require a life-long learning process. Who among us adults couldn’t express more gratitude and empathy? But for our kids it’s an even bigger challenge since the frontal lobe, the part of the brain responsible for higher-order thinking processes – including empathy (which requires imagining and understanding another’s perspective) – isn’t fully developed until young adulthood, about age 25. This is also partly why kids and teens are more impulsive and have trouble considering the consequences of their actions.
So what can we do in the face of this biological reality? Well, practice now can help kids maximize their cognitive abilities, and lay the foundation for future development:
- Model it – demonstrating gratitude and empathy ourselves is one of the best ways to teach kids these skills. Try to talk about the positive things in your day before mentioning the negative. When discussing issue with someone in your life, make sure to speak about the other person’s perspective and what they might be experiencing.
- Emphasize the positive – one of the best ways to cultivate a focus on the positive is to keep a gratitude journal, listing 3 things at the end of the day – whether big or small – that were good. Or you can make this a part of the discussion over family dinners. One thing I do with Elliott is ask him to tell me both the good and bad that happened during his school day. Once he’s done a more balanced assessment, most days are getting at least an “OK” rating.
- Build a warm connection – studies have shown that connection and warmth between parent and child, developed at the youngest ages, result in greater empathy as children grow. Spend time with your small children, mimic their experiences, and demonstrate your love and affection.
- Show empathy to your kids – when they are feeling down or talking about the bad things that happened, it’s important to fully acknowledge their experience and feelings. But then it can help to ask them what they learned from the situation, what they might do differently, or what another involved might be feeling.
- Celebrate the successes – recently our son helped out a kid at school who was upset over a bullying incident, and was very affected by this boy’s experience. We really emphasized to him how proud we were of his actions and his concern for another person. Hopefully this will encourage more of this type of behavior in future.
As you probably know, there’s no cure for the common cold. And it’s hard to prevent, especially in children who are in school or daycare. Keeping your home’s germ hotspots clean and boosting your child’s immune system with plenty of sleep helps. Even so, few moms get through the sneezin’ season without having to deal with at least one bout of sniffles and a sore throat.
So how can you help a sick child feel better?
1. Offer an ice pop.
Water, juice, warm broth or lemon water with honey can help loosen congestion and keep your sick one hydrated. (Just don’t give honey to infants.) If your child’s throat hurts so much you can’t convince him to drink, offer an ice pop instead.
2. Create a steam room.
Cold viruses thrive in dry conditions, which is part of the reason why colds are more common in winter. Mucus membranes will dry in dry air conditions, which can cause a nose to be stuffy and throat to be scratchy. To help loosen mucus, have your child sit in a steamy bathroom for 10 minutes before bedtime. A humidifier can also help; just be sure to keep it clean, otherwise it can make mold spores spread, doing more harm than good. Change the water every day and follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions carefully.
3. Get them to gargle.
This can be hard to do with a younger child, but if you have a tween or teen, suggest she gargle twice a day with warm salt water (1/2 teaspoon of salt mixed into 1 cup warm water).
4. Heed Grandma’s advice.
As for her famous chicken soup remedy, good news: It’s a valid meal choice for a child with a cold. Studies have shown that both the homemade and canned varieties have anti-inflammatory properties, easing swollen nasal membranes. Plus, it’s another (tasty) way of helping your child get valuable fluids, and it can replace lost sodium if your child is vomiting or has diarrhea.
5. Try saline nasal drops and sprays.
Combat stuffiness and congestion with over-the-counter saline nasal sprays and drops. For a baby, squirt a few drops of saline solution in your baby’s nasal passages, then gently suction with a rubber bulb syringe. This is important, as babies are “obligate nose breathers,” meaning they have not yet learned to open their mouths to breathe when their nose is stuffed.
6. Watch for signs of strep.
If your child’s sore throat is accompanied by a fever, headache or chills, or her discomfort seems extreme, give her pediatrician a call. It might be strep throat, a bacterial infection that you’ll need antibiotics to treat.
Every year Toys R Us puts out a gift guide for special needs kids featuring a celebrity on the cover, safe play tips and other information from experts, and gorgeous photos of children playing happily. This year Gabby Douglas, 2012 gold medalist is on the cover and on the pages inside. Gabby is now working with Special Olympics to inspire young athletes.
The guide is divided many different ways; by gender, age groups, brand and also into categories including Auditory, Creativity, Fine Motor, Gross Motor, Social Skills, Tactile, Language and more. This can be very helpful for relatives who don’t know the lingo that special needs parents and caregivers use daily.
One nice thing about the guide is that the toys are not specifically therapy toys – they are the same toys kids are seeing on the holiday commercials, and the same toys their typically developing peers will be getting as gifts. They are the same toys kids will see at playdates, literally giving kids a level playing field.
Another added perk is that the site allows parents to set up a wish list. If your child’s teacher or therapist recommends an item, friends and family living far away can order it online and have it delivered to your child.
You can pick up a hard copy of the guide at any toys R Us store, or view the clickable online version.
Happy Shopping!Pin It