Currently browsing parenting tips posts

8 Tips to Help Overcome Your Child’s Behaviour Problems

There are lots of possible reasons for difficult behaviour in toddlers and young children. Often it’s just because they’re tired, hungry, overexcited, frustrated or bored.

How to handle difficult behaviour

If problem behaviour is causing you or your child distress, or upsetting the rest of the family, it’s important to deal with it.

1. Do what feels right

What you do has to be right for your child, yourself and the family. If you do something you don’t believe in or that you don’t feel is right, it probably won’t work. Children notice when you don’t mean what you’re saying.

2. Don’t give up

Once you’ve decided to do something, continue to do it. Solutions take time to work. Get support from your partner, a friend, another parent or your health visitor. It’s good to have someone to talk to about what you’re doing.

3. Be consistent

Children need consistency. If you react to your child’s behaviour in one way one day and a different way the next, it’s confusing for them. It’s also important that everyone close to your child deals with their behaviour in the same way.

4. Try not to overreact

This can be difficult. When your child does something annoying time after time, your anger and frustration can build up.

It’s impossible not to show your irritation sometimes, but try to stay calm. Move on to other things you can both enjoy or feel good about as soon as possible.

Find other ways to cope with your frustration, like talking to other parents.

5. Talk to your child

Children don’t have to be able to talk to understand. It can help if they understand why you want them to do something. For example, explain why you want them to hold your hand while crossing the road.

Once your child can talk, encourage them to explain why they’re angry or upset. This will help them feel less frustrated.

6. Be positive about the good things

When a child’s behaviour is difficult, the things they do well can be overlooked. Tell your child when you’re pleased about something they’ve done. You can let your child know when you’re pleased by giving them attention, a hug or a smile.

7. Offer rewards

You can help your child by rewarding them for behaving well. For example, praise them or give them their favourite food for tea.

If your child behaves well, tell them how pleased you are. Be specific. Say something like, “Well done for putting your toys back in the box when I asked you to.”

Don’t give your child a reward before they’ve done what they were asked to do. That’s a bribe, not a reward.

8. Avoid smacking

Smacking may stop a child doing what they’re doing at that moment, but it doesn’t have a lasting positive effect.

Children learn by example so, if you hit your child, you’re telling them that hitting is okay. Children who are treated aggressively by their parents are more likely to be aggressive themselves. It’s better to set a good example instead.

Things that can affect your child’s behaviour

  • Life changes – any change in a child’s life can be difficult for them. This could be the birth of a new baby, moving house, a change of childminder, starting playgroup or something much smaller.
  • You’re having a difficult time – children are quick to notice if you’re feeling upset or there are problems in the family. They may behave badly when you feel least able to cope. If you’re having problems don’t blame yourself, but don’t blame your child either if they react with difficult behaviour.
  • How you’ve handled difficult behaviour before – sometimes your child may react in a particular way because of how you’ve handled a problem in the past. For example, if you’ve given your child sweets to keep them quiet at the shops, they may expect sweets every time you go there.
  • Needing attention – your child might see a tantrum as a way of getting attention, even if it’s bad attention. They may wake up at night because they want a cuddle or some company. Try to give them more attention when they’re behaving well and less when they’re being difficult.

Extra help with difficult behaviour

Don’t feel you have to cope alone. If you’re struggling with your child’s behaviour:

  • talk to your health visitor (*child-care nurse or midwife) – they will be happy to support you and suggest some new strategies to try
  • visit the Family Lives website for parenting advice and support, or (within the U.K.), phone their free parents’ helpline on 0808 800 2222
  • download the NSPCC’s guide to positive parenting or (within the U.K.), call their free helpline on 0808 800 5000

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.





Trampolines & Jump Centers: Fun but Risky, Parents Beware

By now I am pretty sure that all of us have either seen the ads for or been to one of the many trampoline centers popping up in a town near you.  Or you are one of the many homes in American that have a trampoline in the yard. While I personally have nothing against trampolines, being in the EMS field I am always aware of the dangers they pose and what kind of injuries they would present with.  While your own personal trampoline or the ones at the jumping center are a lot of fun there are some numbers I think you should have and recommendations you should be aware of before letting the kids bounce away.

The Statistics.

Nearly 100,000 people a year were sent to the ER with trampoline related injuries from 2010- 2014 and about a third of those were with broken bones and 92% of those were in children under 16.  Injuries of the head and spinal cord were also reported in that time and represent the smallest amount but the most severe.  In an American Academy of Pediatrics study they found that fractures were more common in younger children than adolescents and children under 6 years of age actually had the highest percentage of fractures with 47.8%. The study also revealed that while trampoline injures at home stayed around the same average per year, there is a growing and alarming number of injuries at trampoline parks with the national trend getting higher and higher.

The Recommendations.

The safety recommendations for trampolines are the same over a number of different studies.  The American Academy of Pediatrics went to far as to recommend against the recreational use of trampolines for children in 2012, But seeing as how people are jumping now more than ever, they have put together a list of things you can do to keep your children and yourself as safe as possible while jumping.  The recommendations are:

  • Adult supervision at ALL times.
  • Only 1 jumper on the trampoline at a time. Most injuries occur with multiple jumpers.
  • No Flipping. Safety rules may vary at trampoline centers. Please check the rules before jumping.
  • Adequate padding on the trampoline, all of its exposed parts. Frame, springs, poles.  As well as Padding on the floor around the trampoline.
  • Checking all equipment before jumping.
  • Having the trampoline at ground level if possible.
  • Having the trampoline clear of any overhead obstructions:  Trees, Lines, Poles, House.

What to do.

Should an injury occur on a trampoline what to do will depend on the severity of the injury, but as I always tell people, if the thought to call 911 crosses your mind, go ahead and do it.  Some injuries may be minor and require nothing more than some ice and elevation, but should the injury involve the head, neck, or spine, a loss of consciousness, or broken bones, then please let EMS handle it.  They are trained and prepared to deal with these types of injuries.

As, always I hope you have a fun and happy summer and above all be safe!

What You’ll Want to Have In Your Baby’s First Aid Kit

More than 1 million children a year are involved in an accident in the home. Most aren’t serious, but it’s sensible to make sure your first aid box contains the essentials.

Choose a waterproof, durable box that’s easy to carry. It’s much easier to take the box to the child than the child to the box. The box should have a childproof lock and be tall enough to carry bottles of lotion.

Keep the box out of the reach of children, but handy for adults. You don’t want to be hunting for your first aid kit when a child is injured and frightened.

Either buy a first aid box, which is green with a white cross**, or, if making up your own box, write “First Aid” on it so that, if you aren’t around, other people know what it is. If someone else is caring for your children, let them know where the kit is kept.

First aid manual

An easy-to-use guide can help refresh your memory when panic and a crying child make it hard to remember what to do. Or you could print out a first aid guide and keep it with your first aid box.

Painkillers and babies

Make sure you have an age-appropriate painkiller, such as paracetamol (*acetaminophen) or ibuprofen, which can be used for headaches and fevers. You will also need a measuring spoon or, for younger children, a no-needle dosing syringe. Always follow the dosage instructions on the label.

Dressings for babies

  • Sticking plasters (*Band-aids). Buy them in a variety of sizes for minor cuts, blisters and sore spots.
  • Adhesive tape (*Medical tape). This can hold dressings in place and can also be applied to smaller cuts.
  • Bandages. Crepe (*Wrap compression) bandages are useful for support or holding a dressing in place. Tubular bandages are helpful when a child has strained a joint and needs extra support. You can also buy triangular bandages that can be used for making a sling.
  • Sterile gauze dressings. These are good for covering larger sore areas and cuts.

Antiseptic cream or spray

Antiseptic cream or spray can be applied to cuts, grazes or minor burns after cleaning to help prevent infection. Some may also contain a mild local anaesthetic to numb the pain.

Antihistamine cream

This can reduce swelling and soothe insect bites and stings.

Thermometer

  • Digital thermometers. Digital thermometers are quick to use, accurate and can be used under the armpit (always use the thermometer under the armpit with children under five). Hold your child’s arm against his or her body and leave the thermometer in place for the time stated in the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Ear (or tympanic) thermometers. Ear thermometers are put in the child’s ear. They take the child’s temperature in one second and do not disturb the child, but they’re expensive. Ear thermometers may give low readings when not correctly placed in the ear, so read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and make sure you understand how the thermometer works.
  • Strip-type thermometers. Strip-type thermometers that you hold on your child’s forehead are not an accurate way of taking their temperature. They show the temperature of the skin, not the body.
  • Mercury-in-glass thermometers. Mercury-in-glass thermometers are no longer available to buy**. They can break, releasing small shards of glass and highly poisonous mercury. If your child is exposed to mercury, get medical advice immediately.

Calamine lotion

This can help to soothe itching irritated skin, rashes (including chickenpox) and sunburn. There are gels and mousses available for chickenpox rashes as well.

Baby first aid accessories

  • Pair of scissors for cutting clothes, and also plasters and tape to size.
  • Tweezers to remove thorns and splinters.
  • Ice packs or gel packs can be kept in the fridge and applied to bumps and bruises to relieve swelling. A packet of frozen peas is just as good, but wrap it in a clean tea towel before applying it to skin. Direct contact with ice can cause a “cold burn”.
  • Saline solution and an eye bath. This is useful for washing specks of dust or foreign bodies out of sore eyes.

Antiseptic wipes

Antiseptic wipes are a handy way to clean cuts and grazes and help prevent infection. To use them, take a fresh wipe and clean the wound, gently working away from the centre to remove dirt and germs.

Remember to keep your first aid box up to date. Replace items when stocks have been used and check use-by dates of all medicines. Throw away anything past its use-by date. You can take any out-of-date medicines to a pharmacy to be disposed of safely.

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.

** U.S. First Aid Kits are often white with a red cross or red with a white cross

** Mercury-in-glass thermometers are not available for purchase in the U.K. and in a number of States within the U.S., however they may still be purchased legally in some States.  For more specific information about individual State’s mercury laws, click here.

 





How to Overcome Sleeping Challenges with Your Young Child

Lots of young children find it difficult to settle down to sleep and will wake up during the night.

For some people, this might not be a problem. But if you or your child are suffering from lack of sleep, there are some simple techniques you can try.

Every child is different, so only do what you feel comfortable with and what you think will suit your child.

If your child won’t go to bed

If your child won’t go to sleep without you

More sleep tips for under-fives

Help your disabled child to sleep

Help with children’s sleep problems

If your child won’t go to bed

  • Decide what time you want your child to go to bed.
  • Close to the time that your child normally falls asleep, start a 20-minute “winding down” bedtime routine. Bring this forward by 5-10 minutes a week – or 15 minutes if your child is in the habit of going to bed very late – until you get to the bedtime you want.
  • Set a limit on how much time you spend with your child when you put them to bed. For example, read only one story, then tuck your child in and say goodnight.
  • Give your child their favourite toy, dummy (*pacifier) (if they use one) or comforter before settling into bed.
  • Leave a beaker (*cup) of water within reach and a dim light on if necessary.
  • If your child gets up, keep taking them back to bed again with as little fuss as possible.
  • Try to be consistent.
  • You may have to repeat this routine for several nights.

If your child won’t go to sleep without you

This technique can help toddlers (over 12 months) or older children get used to going to sleep without you in the room.

It can also be used whenever your child wakes in the middle of the night.

Be prepared for your child to take a long time to settle when you first start.

You can use strokes or pats instead of kisses if your child sleeps in a cot and you can’t reach them to give them a kiss.

  • Have a regular, calming bedtime routine.
  • Put your child to bed when they are drowsy but awake and kiss them goodnight.
  • Promise to go back in a few moments to give them another kiss.
  • Return almost immediately to give a kiss.
  • Take a few steps to the door, then return immediately to give a kiss.
  • Promise to return in a few moments to give them another kiss.
  • Put something away or do something in the room then give them a kiss.
  • As long as the child stays in bed, keep returning to give more kisses.
  • Do something outside their room and return to give kisses.
  • If the child gets out of bed, say, “back into bed and I’ll give you a kiss”.
  • Keep going back often to give kisses until they are asleep.
  • Repeat every time your child wakes during the night.

See more tips from Barts Health NHS Trust on helping young children to sleep (PDF, 219kb).

More sleep tips for under-fives

  • Make sure you have a calming, predictable bedtime routine that happens at the same time and includes the same things every night.
  • If your child complains that they’re hungry at night, try giving them a bowl of cereal and milk before bed (make sure you brush their teeth afterwards).
  • If your child is afraid of the dark, consider using a nightlight or leaving a landing (*hallway) light on.
  • Don’t let your child look at laptops, tablets or phones in the 30-60 minutes before bed – the light from screens can interfere with sleep.
  • When seeing to your child during the night, be as boring as possible – leave lights off, avoid eye contact and don’t talk more than necessary.
  • Avoid long naps in the afternoon.

Help your disabled child to sleep

Sometimes children with long-term illnesses or disabilities find it more difficult to sleep through the night. This can be challenging both for them and for you.

Contact a Family has more information about helping your child sleep.

The Scope website also has sleep advice for parents of disabled children.

More help with children’s sleep problems

It can take patience, consistency and commitment, but most children’s sleep problems can be solved.

If your child is still having problems sleeping, you can talk to your health visitor.

They may have other ideas or suggest you make an appointment at a children’s sleep clinic, if there’s one in your area.

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.





How We Praise Preschoolers Can Impact Character Development

How many times a day do you find yourself saying, “good job” to your young child? I know for me, this cliche phrase slips out numerous times a day. We all know that praise and encouragement (especially for good behavior) can be a strong motivator for children, especially around the preschool years. Preschoolers are in a stage of development where they are learning what it means to be them—self-concept.

Research is showing that the particular ways in which parents praise their children can influence, at least to some degree, how children come to understand themselves and their efforts. The key, it seems, is to help kids develop a “growth mindset” rather than a “fixed mindset” when it comes to how they think about their intelligence and ability to grow and learn. A “growth” mindset is one in which the child believes their efforts and trying new skills are what helps them learn and conquer new challenges. In contrast, some kids learn to think that their skill and intelligence are “fixed” and cannot be expanded with effort.

According to researchers, the preschool years are a key time to help kids understand this difference and how parents’ use praise may play a role. The commonly used comment, “good job” is generic praise in that it doesn’t inform the child what specifically they did well. On the other hand, “process praise” like the comment, “good job sharing with your friend” is the type of praise that helps the child understand what they did right so that they know what to focus on in the future.

In research studies, this difference in the types of  praise used by parents was predictive of children’s “motivational framework” years later. That simply means that the children had more of a mindset of growth. Process praise that emphasized the child’s effort, strategies, or actions helped the child understand that their intelligence is not fixed but they can achieve new skills by trying.

This growth mindset is all part of a larger set of “non-cognitive skills” that help kids learn and achieve. These skills, like resilience, self-control, and persistence have little to do with their innate cognitive ability. Many researchers in the last few years have begun to emphasize these skills. In his recent book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character, Paul Tough explores many of these traits. He cites many research studies that illustrate the value of helping kids deal with failure and overcome it to move on with a task or class. Perhaps most importantly, he explains the difference between helping kids develop self-esteem and character,

“I think there is a real difference between developing self-esteem and developing character, and in the past few decades we’ve become confused about that. Yes, if you want to develop kids’ self-esteem, the best way to do it is to praise everything they do and make excuses for their failures.

But if you want to develop their character, you do almost the opposite: You let them fail and don’t hide their failures from them or from anybody else – not to make them feel lousy about themselves, but to give them the tools to succeed next time.”

What a gift we can help our kids develop! I think this message is so powerful because it can apply to so many aspects of life. In school, kids need these skills to persist in a hard class or sport. Consider later in life, when your adult child is faced with a tough job situation or even a difficult personal relationship. I can easily see how these character traits like persistence, dedication, and passion can serve them well. Even in their own personal development as a person, these traits are crucial to overcoming bad habits or staying healthy.

So the next time you’re are tempted to say, “good job” to your persistent preschooler, try pointing out how well she/he stuck with the task at hand. The language we use really can make a difference in our children’s future mindset.

Helping Your Fearful Child Feel Comfortable With EMS

We have all seen the scene at the mall. The child is put there with the mall Santa Clause or Easter Bunny and is absolutely in terror and crying their eyes out.  How can this be? Santa and the Easter Bunny are friends and would never hurt them.  Having done many Firefighter presentations at various schools, events, and EMS safety weeks, I have seen these same children have the exact same reaction to me when I put on my firefighting bunker gear. I can’t say I blame them completely. A guy in a bright red suit, a 6 foot tall bunny, and a guy in a bunch of gear with an axe in his hand and sounding like Darth Vader are not easy things to get used to.  The good news is that kids learn pretty fast that both Santa and the Easter Bunny are friends and bring them stuff they want. The bad news is that teaching them that the Firefighters are friendly as well will take some extra work.

In previous posts (Protect Your Family From Fire), we have talked about having a plan for exiting your house in case of fire.  In addition to this activity I would like to encourage you to take a trip to your local fire station, attend an EMS or Fire safety week demonstration, schedule a demonstration at your child’s school, or at the very the least look at some pictures and videos online about firefighters and their protective clothing.

Here’s a great video to watch with your kids.  It’s a little long, but they cover quite a bit about what your child needs to know about interacting with EMS personnel in the first four minutes. The last nine walks your child step-by-step through an example, from calling for help through the ambulance ride.

Teaching your children that the scary looking people moving around in the smoke are there to help and not to hide from them is a key in surviving a house fire. Having led demonstrations where the firefighter starts out in plain clothes, just talking and answering questions and gradually progresses to being in full gear, on air, and still talking as he/she has been to the children makes all the difference in the world. The children can start to understand that the person underneath all that gear is the same one that started the demonstration and that they are there to help them.

In the end, teaching your children about how firefighters dress and how they will look in all their gear will be a good experience for everyone and will deliver some valuable information for all.  And while EMS may not be Santa or a 6 foot bunny, we still might have some goodies for the kids.

I hope you have a safe summer.

Next Page »