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Your Child is Hitting!! …3 Steps You Can Take to Stop This

Boys are brother punch and fightingOur children hit to express themselves and get their needs met. If they had another way to manage their feelings and relationships, they would do so. Most children and adults do the best they can, in the moment, with the skills they have. The reasons for hitting vary for each child, you may wish to consider whether the child is experiencing anger, upset, frustration, boredom, disappointment, loneliness or other related emotions.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:  Here is a video along with three steps you can take to help modify this destructive behavior:

      1. Manage the moment. In the moment of the intensity we focus not on speaking but on calming. The emotional brain responds to limbic strategies not lots of words and instruction.  

        First ~ You are your children’s best teacher. How you manage their hitting impacts their developing skills. So quietly step close to them and express confusion over what is happening. “Boys, I am confused about the fighting.” This engages the “Thinker” the frontal lobes in their brains. Then provide a solution. “It’s a good time for us to go play outside.”  When you use Bloom, eventually, you will have an entire list of strategies, words and actions to use Cope - bloom graphicwhen the moment is intense, for now, the very first time, it is helpful to change their setting. Next time, you will better manage their space as they play.

        Second ~ Then, when the children are calm and safe, we circle back to prepare and prevent future mishaps by developing strategies including “Calming Cues” and “Anger Toolkits” so that the children are empowered to choose another behavior next time.

      2. Create a culture of kindness.When the children are calm, circle back to teach them that we live in a family where we respect one another with our words and our bodies. We are kind to one another. The first three chapters of The Family Coach Method can REALLY help you here.

 

    1. Focus on feeding the children whole real organic food.There is ample research that what we eat impacts how we feel and behave. If we are not feeding our bodies quality proteins, fats and complex carbohydrates, the body and brain cannot do their best. We love 100dayofrealfood, you might as well.

Few children hit when they are happy. Hitting is a way of saying, “This really is not working for me right now.” “My feelings are TOO BIG.” “I do not have the skills to work this out in a more cooperative way.” A child who is hitting is asking you to help them!

The magic is in using the mantras to help you calm the children now and then Managing The Moment to help everyone find a new way to manage their feelings when an impulse to be aggressive appears again.

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bloom cover - 140x208Written for real parents with anxious, angry and over-the-top kids, Bloom is a brain-based approach to parenting all children. Taking its lead from neuroscience and best practices in early childhood mental health, it offers parents, teachers and care providers the words, thoughts and actions to raise calm, confident children, while reducing the need for consequences and punishment. The first book of its kind, it provides pages full of printable mantras you can carry with you, hang on your fridge or use in your classroom to raise emotionally competent kids. Stop second-guessing the way you handle misbehaviors, and learn why they occur in the first place. Bloom is available at amazon.com

Squirmin’ Wormin’ Kids? …3 Ways You Can Help Them

Kids-SwingsBrain development happens over time. As the brain matures, children often gain better control of their attention, motor inhibition and their emotional responses to social situations.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:  Here is a video along with three resources for YOUR CHILD’S BUSY BODY

  1. Kids who move a lot are often seeking brain stimulation. Creating days filled with a variety of calming and alerting activities is just the ticket. For calming activities, yoga, listening to music, drawing, crafts and art are body calmers. You can find an array of activities on Lynne’s community FB. For alerting activities consider 15 minutes outside several times a day for little ones and longer periods of time for older kids.
  2. Research tells us that children who exercise remain calm longer, think better and socialize with less impulsivity. So playing outside, jumping rope, playing tennis in the drive-way, walking to day camp, shooting hoops or kicking a soccer ball are all good movement morsels to sprinkle throughout the day. SPARKPE is a terrific resource for schools and families.
  3. Music can be both calming and alerting, so it’s pretty magical. Playing piano (even if you aren’t very good at it) for 10 minutes at a time can re-organize the brain and the body. For your kid’s listening pleasure visit Kiboomu or Stressfreekids.com.

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bloom cover - 140x208Written for real parents with anxious, angry and over-the-top kids, Bloom is a brain-based approach to parenting all children. Taking its lead from neuroscience and best practices in early childhood mental health, it offers parents, teachers and care providers the words, thoughts and actions to raise calm, confident children, while reducing the need for consequences and punishment. The first book of its kind, it provides pages full of printable mantras you can carry with you, hang on your fridge or use in your classroom to raise emotionally competent kids. Stop second-guessing the way you handle misbehaviors, and learn why they occur in the first place. Bloom is available at amazon.com

Why Does Your Child Bite …And What Can You Do?

Zwei Mädchen streiten auf dem SpielplatzWhile it’s shocking and probably embarrassing when your child bites, it’s not unusual behavior for young kids. When children are overcome with feelings such as anger, fear, frustration or disappointment, for example, because another child has possession of a toy they want, they don’t have the language to express it.

IN A NUTSHELL: 5 of the 10 reasons in Bloom – WHY KIDS BITE.

  1. They do not have the language, words or ability to express what they need to say.
  2. They are frustrated, upset or irritated, and biting seems to be the quickest way for them to communicate this.
  3. The child is overwhelmed by sensory input when several other children are present.
  4. Even though the child “knows” biting hurts on a cognitive level, he may not have developed the emotional maturity to control this urge when frustrated.
  5. At a young age, biting is normal and needs to be redirected.

YOU HELP THE CHILD by stating how he might feel and providing him with the solutions (new words, thoughts and behaviors) the child cannot find on his own. It’s important to help the child figure out, what thought, feeling or perception caused their escalation because awareness provides the opportunity to make a different choice next time.

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bloom cover - 140x208Written for real parents with anxious, angry and over-the-top kids, Bloom is a brain-based approach to parenting all children. Taking its lead from neuroscience and best practices in early childhood mental health, it offers parents, teachers and care providers the words, thoughts and actions to raise calm, confident children, while reducing the need for consequences and punishment. The first book of its kind, it provides pages full of printable mantras you can carry with you, hang on your fridge or use in your classroom to raise emotionally competent kids. Stop second-guessing the way you handle misbehaviors, and learn why they occur in the first place. Bloom is available at amazon.com

Teen Narcissism is Worse: Is Social Networking The Cause?

Teen Narcissism Is Increasing – But Just What is Narcissism?

facebook focusedA growing number of researchers are finding a link between social media web-sites and anti-social narcissistic behavior among certain users. So we can be on the same page as the researchers,  narcissism is defined as “self-centered, arrogant, and entitled.”

It’s not just attention-getting or wanting to be liked, but a “pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration—an exaggerated sense of self-importance where the person believes they are special and require excessive admiration from others.”

The phrase, “so-and so is such a narcissist,” is often used in our culture and generally means just a self-centered person. But there is a clear difference when narcissism rises to the level of being a true psychological problem.

The worry is that too hefty a dose of narcissism and an unhealthy overriding belief and exaggerated view that “I’m better than all” can turn into a personality disorder robbing a person’s psychological and emotional well being. So there are two big dangers for our children:

  • First, the narcissist generally has an inability to form healthy, long-term relationships because narcissists  are so focused on themselves.
  • Second is that narcissism diminishes and even shuts down a person’s capacity to empathize or feel for others.

That last danger is the crux of why many child development expert and parents alike are on edge and it’s why I’m very concerned. A landmark report released by Common Sense Media in November of 2015 found that “teenagers (ages 13-18) use an average of nine hours of entertainment media per day and that tweens (ages 8-12) use an average of six hours a day, not including time spent using media for school or homework”. And let’s be real, it’s a rare parent who wants a kid who feels entitled (I’ve yet to find one anyway). It’s why we all –parents, mental health professions, educators, and medical professions–need to dig deeper and review these results carefully and then take an honest look at our children’s needs. Here are facts you need to know:

Study Ties Social Networking to Narcissism…Or Does It?

One study, published by Mary Ann Liebert suggested a link between narcissism and (in this case the social network) Facebook. The researcher concluded that Facebook users with narcissistic behaviors could be clearly identified by contents on their Facebook pages.  The research received quite a buzz in the news.  Here was my take:

While it was an interesting study and worth discussing, more data was needed before drawing conclusions. The research used in the analysis was only a small sample size  (only 100 students were involved), all students were from the same university, and the researcher herself compiled the ratings so results could be biased.

But the results came on the tail of two previous studies that also found a connection between narcissistic behavior and social media and those results should clearly raise our parenting radar.

Study#1: College Students Agree their Generation Is More Self-Centered

Jean Twenge, an associate professor of psychology from San Diego State University and author of Generation Me, conducted fascinating research about kids’ narcissistic behaviors both on and off line. Tracking over 37,000 college students’ personality profiles, Twenge found a most troubling trend.

REALITY CHECK: Young people’s narcissistic personality traits are steadily rising from the 1980s to the present. By 2006, one out of four college students agreed with the majority of the items on a standard measure of narcissistic traits; in 1985 that number was only one in seven.

Twenge’s national survey of 1068 college students also had interesting results. Results found:

REALITY CHECK: 57 percent of college students admitting that social networking makes them more narcissistic and that their peers used social networking sites for self-promotion, narcissism and attention-seeking.

What’s more, over two-thirds of those adolescents surveyed said their generation was “more self-promoting, narcissistic, overconfident and attention-seeking” than others in the past.

Study #2: College Students Are Less Empathic Than Previous Generations

Twenge’s results come on the tails of yet another troubling report. A University of Michigan study of 14000 college students found these results:

REALITY CHECK: College students today show 40 percent less empathy toward others than college students in 1980s and 1990s The researcher hypothesized that because there are fewer face-to face interactions (largely due to the rise of net connection) empathy is also declining.

Put all of those studies together. Results from three large scale, longitudinal studies lead by major researchers at major universities found a decrease in kids’ empathy and an increase in narcissistic, self-centered-like behavior. Now it is time to be concerned…very concerned.

Don’t Put the Blame All On Social Networking….Just Yet

If there is a growing narcissistic streak among teens and young adults, let’s not put ALL the blame on social networking sites. (Note: As of 4th quarter 2015, there were over 1.5 billion monthly active Facebook users and not all are narcissists – or at least I hope not.  This number does not include Periscope users, Instagram users, Snapchat users, etc.).  What a social network DOES provide is a great place for a teen who feels a bit more entitled to draw attention to himself, self-promote, and show the world just how great he is.

So let’s not put all the blame on social networks for how our kids are turning out. In that regard, I fear we have only ourselves to blame.

Trendy girl make a selfieThe more probable causes to the dawn of the “Self-Annointed Kid” is a parental style that pushes too much entitlement, too many trophies too soon, too much “ME-ME-ME”, too much “center stage” and not enough good ‘ol “NOs” and focusing on “THEM.”

Researchers also point out that a celebrity saturated culture that emphasizes the rich and famous, is another culprit along with the breakdown of face-to-face connection, and a society that seems too often to be under-stressing those good old home-spun virtues like kindness, cooperation and helpfulness.

So what’s a parent to do? What do you do if you think you are the proud owner of a budding little narcissistic–or at least a kid who feels entitled-on your hands?

Your first step is to recognize the problem.

Your second step is to use research-based parenting solutions to curb your child’s self-centeredness, and do so pronto.

Tell-Tale Signs of a Budding Kid Narcissist

Researchers say there are a few indicators that could indicate narcissism in youth who are social networking.

Keep in mind, it’s not one sign but a combination of behaviors your should watch for in your teen. You should see these same narcissistic behaviors both off screen as well as on. Here are ways to start observing:

  • Be Where Your Teen Is. Your first step is to make sure you have an account on the same social networks as your teen and that you have befriended him or her so you can follow your teen’s presence. You do NOT have to post on your teen’s account (usually a HUGE turn off, but you do have to be where your teen is online so you can monitor your teen’s presence.
    This isn’t spying (get over it!), this is parental monitoring. You announce ahead to your teen that you will be monitoring. It’s part of being a parent. See the Internet as virtual extension of your child’s playground. You monitored there, right? So monitor your teen online!
  • View Online Presence Together. A great exercise to do with your teen is to view his or her online presence together. Ask: “What does this say about you to someone else who may not know you?” “Why did you choose that photo?” etc. Don’t be judgmental (you’ll get nowhere) but just inquisitive. It might be a great eye-opener.

4 Possible Signs of Teen Narcissism 

  1. All About Me: Tune into your teen’s primary motive for using a social network. Is it primarily for connection to be with others or a place to self-promote? Young narcissists are all self-promoting and not to use their social networks as an opportunity to commiserate with peers.
  2. Read and listen to those pronouns: Is the teen using those “Me, I and My” pronouns so every entry is about how “I’m doing” and rarely about “What are you up to?” Does she always refer to herself and her needs and delete the other population? (Teens are egocentric so expect some Me-Me-Me verbiage. Be concerned when it’s exclusively Me-Me-Me and little Her-Him-Them.”
  3. Self Promotion: Narcissists are more likely to choose glamorous, self-promoting pictures for their main profile photos, while those who are not so inclined are more likely to use simple snapshots. But also check your teen’s offline presence. Look at those screen-savers and ask yourself what they tell about your teen.
  4. Competition: Researchers say a key sign is the teen who constantly (multiple times daily) checks into the network to count his FB friends and then announces that number. The studies found that the more teens checked in and the more they announced their FB friends the higher the narcissism. But off-line is your kid doing the same (checking or comparing her abilities verses others).

Countering the Teen Narcissism Epidemic

If you suspect your child is a budding little narcissist, the cure isn’t pulling their social media accounts. Chances are high that your teen earned that “entitlement” image before logging onto a social network. Center your parenting efforts on these strategies instead:

  • Refocus Your Praise Temper those oohs and ahhs that focus only on your kid. Watch out for lavish sugar-coated, undeserved praise and giving out a trophy for every little thing.
    Instead stress your child’s inside qualities like kindness, cooperation and reinforce “selfless” acts so your child starts to become aware of the rights, feelings, and needs of others. Sigh!
  • Lower the Curtain Ask yourself if you always single out your teen’s performance in a group activity over the other participants. If so, watch your focus and start emphasizing your teen’s teammates.
  • Teen Girl Helps the HomelessNurture Empathy Narcissistic, entitled kids shut down their capacity to understand where other people are coming. Because they only focus on “ME,” it’s hard to put themselves into someone else’s shoes and feel how they feel. So nurture your teen’s empathy. Point out other people’s feelings. Ask, “How does the other person feel?” The best antidote for selfishness and entitlement is to boost empathy.
  • Boost Face-to-Face Interaction Boost face to face interaction opportunities to help him see beyond himself. Help him focus on the views of others. You don’t learn empathy by facing a screen. Keep in mind that this is the generation who prefers to text than talk and all that screen time doesn”t develop those key skills for emotional intelligence, social competence, empathy and moral development. Set up sacred “unplugged” family times. Hold family dinners! And grab those cell phones and put them on hold during key times your family is together.

The best way to learn benevolence and selflessness is not lecturing about it but providing kids with real opportunities to do for others. So find ways your family – and particularly your teen – can do community service and emphasize others not themselves: Work at a shelter. Deliver gently-used possessions to charity. Pitch in to help the elderly neighbor rake her leaves. Find real and meaningful opportunities tailored to your child’s passions!

The real parenting goal is for our children to learn one wonderful life lesson: Doing good for others is one of the greatest ways to feel good about who you are as a person. And doing good for others is also has a hidden benefit: it’s one of the simplest and best ways to boost happiness.

Resources for this report:

  • Ypulse survey of 1068 college students was done with Jean Twenge, associate professor of psychology at San Diego State when asked about narcissism in a poll on social networking sites in June by Ypulse, August 2009.
  • University of Michigan study culled 72 studies that gauged empathy among 14,000 students over 30 years. They found college students today have 40% less empathy than students in the 1980s and 1990s. The researcher suggested its because there are fewer face-to face interactions. “Empathy is best activated when you can see another person signal for help.”

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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

Raising Optimistic Children

A 2011 study in Pediatrics, examined optimism in 5,634 children who began taking part in the research when they were 12 to 14 years old. The researchers found that the quarter of kids who were the most optimistic had almost half the risk of showing signs of depression compared with those who were least optimistic. Being highly optimistic only had a “modest” link to less heavy substance abuse and antisocial behavior. Likely because substance use and antisocial behavior have strong genetic correlates.

Raising optimistic children has been meaningfully explored by Dr. Martin Seligman since he studied learned helplessness in the 1970’s. In 1991, Seligman published Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. Since that time, his influence on the field of Positive Psychology has been instrumental in teaching the public that what you think and how you reframe your life experiences impacts your life view as well as your health. People who rate high on optimism live longer, have better mental health and are physically healthier than people who rate high on pessimism.

If you are wishing to encourage optimism in your children consider these time-honored strategies:

  1. Help your children set themselves up for success. Participating in tasks, academic activities and physical sports that are within your child’s ability will provide them with positive experiences increasing their self-esteem and allowing them to see themselves as capable.
  2. Give specific feedback on what your child does well. Instead of offering general praise, be specific. “You practiced so many multiplication problems that you earned an A on your recent test.” “Your effort and practice earn you better grades.”
  3. Validate their feelings offering some strategies for looking more hopefully at the circumstances. “It didn’t feel very good to miss the goal at soccer, but your footwork on the field was excellent. Daddy and I will play more with you in the backyard so you are better prepared for the next time.”
  4. Use positive not negative labels. Negative labels lead children to believe they are the label. So use positive labels when talking with and about your child. As an example, when your child exhibits a behavior that is unsuitable such as whining refrain from calling your child a “whiner” and practice using a new tone with your child. “Joey, when you ask for what you want in a positive tone, I can respond better to you.” “Let’s use a happy tone as we talk with one another.”
  5. Comment on the bright side. “I know it’s raining so we must play indoors, this is our chance to make a huge train station today.”

Raising optimistic children begins with you. Seeing the positive side of life experiences, learning from mishaps and practicing positive thoughts leads to happier children. You can find more ideas and strategies for raising the optimism quotient in your family by reading Martin Seligman’s book The Optimistic Child.