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The Benefits of Being Surrounded With Positive Social Support

A positive environment provided by parents, nannies, babysitters and child carers help to bring up well-adjusted children

A positive environment provided by parents, nannies, babysitters and child carers help to bring up well-adjusted children

Life has endless challenges. It’s a truth that we can never deny. Even those of us who are strong-willed have their times of being down and weak. We get those moments of thinking negatively and sometimes even tell ourselves that we are incapable of doing something. We seem to think that we are not smart enough or highly skilled enough to accomplish something that truthfully could have been even easier for us if we just tried. This negativity most often leads us to not being successful. When we think negative, we become stuck somewhere and not progressing and the lack of progression leads us to more failures and shunning opportunities for success. The cycle just goes on and on. This is why we need to be surrounded with positive social support to be able to avoid being eaten up whole by our negativity. This will help us get back on our feet and strive for success in life. Let’s take a closer look at how we can actually apply this kind of idea to parenting.
One of the most common problems of kids is when they haven’t mastered a successful potty training. For example your kid still doesn’t know how to do the right thing even at the age of 4. You start getting this negative thought into your head thinking that you’re not doing well enough in teaching your child. One of the most often resorts that most parents do is to run to their parents for help thinking that they might be able to do something that you’ve failed to do when training your child. The worst thing that it could ever make you feel when you’re not able to accomplish something in your childcare training is that you’d feel like you’re a failure. When you stick that idea of being a failure into your mind, other negative side thoughts would soon come after that. But if you have a good positive support, you won’t be led into frustration or any other negative feeling even more – you will only get otherwise.
If you have a good positive support from people, it’s easier to get rid of the negative feelings. For example, one of your friends may say, “I had the same problem with my son when he was 4 years old too. Sometimes they just need a little more patience from us to help them successfully learn it. If you stay patient and positive, it won’t take too long before he’ll be able to master that. Just give him a longer chance to learn.” Another friend may also say, “I have read a great book about potty training before when I was trying to train my child with it. It has really helped me a lot! I would be more than happy to let you borrow it and learn from it. I am sure it would help you as well!” There are also other types of friends that would make you feel better by making you look at the positive side of things. For example, a friend may say, “Even if your child is already in College, who cares if he still doesn’t master his potty training? Cheer up! I’m sure a lot of other people are struggling with the same thing even if they are older than a college kid!” When you hear this from your positive-minded friends, it’s easier for you to get rid of the negative feelings and anything else that may come with it. Their positivity will not cause you to give up but actually feel encouraged and even more determined to help your child through. Hearing these and having the positive support that they are giving you will help you walk your way to a successful potty training with your kid.
Another problem that you would possibly go through with your kids is their attitude problems or how they are becoming too liberated even with the way that they dress. They tend to forget modesty as something that is crucial and think that they can just wear or not wear anything they want. You want to teach them how to do this but then they keep failing to obey you that even your nanny can’t get help from you in helping your kid change this behavior. So what do you do? You go to your positive minded friends and tell them about it. Hear out what they would like to say if they went through the same situation or can relate in any way when they were younger. One friend may say, “I went through the same problem with my oldest daughter. She’s been badly influenced by the fashion culture of the outside world in a really wrong way and it was very hard for me to deal with it. But I kept my cool and stayed patient with her. I would take her with me on a mom-daughter dates and help her shop for clothes that would make her still look very nice without making her immodest. Try it with your child, I think it will help.” Or another friend may say, “I didn’t have that sort of problem with my kids but I do remember when I was younger of how rebellious I was to my parents and did the same thing. I did not care what was right or wrong with what I was doing just as long as I want it I do it. But you know what? My parents were very patient of me and they actually stick with me through the rebellious times I had towards them. They showed me love, care and compassion that just broke me into realizing that I did wrong and that led me to change. Trust me, if you do that with your child she will realize one day.”
Both of the examples mentioned showed how much help having positive social support can help you with your parenting challenges. This will provide you a way out from your negativity thus helping you embrace the encouragement and eagerness to succeed. Also make sure that you fully inform and teach your babysitter or your nanny with these kinds of tips so that they too can help you accomplish that success.

How to Give Feedback to Your Nanny

feedback

feedbackYou employ a nanny.  Your nanny is like any other employee: in order for her to do her best, she needs to know what you expect of her.  She needs feedback to know how she’s doing . . . what she’s doing well, where there’s room for improvement, etc.  Here are a few tips on giving performance feedback to your nanny.

*Feedback should be provided promptly.  Don’t wait months after an event before providing your nanny with praise or redirection about that event.

*Feedback should be specific.  Ensure that she knows exactly what she did right or wrong.  If you are redirecting her behaviour, you must tell her not only what she did wrong, but what doing it right would have looked like as well.

*Positive feedback may be public or private.  Negative feedback should be private.  People like to be praised, so feel free to provide your nanny with positive feedback both publicly and privately.  (Public feedback is feedback that is provided in the presence of others.)  Negative feedback (also known as redirection) should only be provided privately.  You (or you and your spouse) should pull the nanny aside and have a private conversation about the behaviour to be redirected.

*You may wish to keep a nanny journal.  A nanny journal is a log of communication between nanny and parents . . . a record of each day’s events as recorded by the nanny, with room for parental feedback as well.  For example, the nanny may write, “9:00 a.m.:  Johnny is crying.  He has a fever of 39C.  I applied a cold wash cloth to his forehead and gave him medicine to help him sleep.  He woke up at 11:15 a.m. feeling much better.  No fever or tears.”  The parents, when reviewing the nanny journal that evening, may write next to that entry, “Susan, if Johnny has a fever over 38C going forward, please call one of us at work.  We’ll need to decide whether to take him to his paediatrician.  The cold wash cloth and medicine were good ideas, and that may be the solution on future occurrences as well, but with a fever of 37.5C or more, we want you to call one of us so we can decide if a doctor is necessary or if the cold wash cloth and medicine approach is best.”

Your nanny is like any other employee: in order for her to do her best, she needs to know what you expect of her.  In order for her to know that, you must provide her feedback on her performance.  You must tell her what she’s doing that is meeting or exceeding your expectations, what she’s doing that is not meeting your expectations, and how she can improve her performance to meet your expectations where she is not currently doing so.  As her employer, you owe her no less.

Encouraging Your Child’s Creativity While Helping Them Embrace Reality

Let Children Dream
Let Children Dream

Let Children Dream

Children have wild imaginations and big dreams. As a child grows older and learns more of the world, he will start to ask questions, seek answers and visualise what the future may hold. When a child first starts to dream and let his imagination go wild, reality and practicality will not be something that he will be concerned with. But as he grows and his thought processes mature he may the widening gap between his big dreams and the limitations of reality troubling.

There is a great need for you as the parent, or nanny, or child-carer to help him maintain his dreams while keeping them anchored in the real world.

How to Do This

There are ways to keep encouraging your kids in their dreams while helping them learn to incline their thoughts with the real world. You can do this by applying the following steps:

  • Ask your child what he/she wants to be when he/she grows up and allow them to speak their minds out to you. Give them time to describe it even if it’s not perfectly clear how it should be. Give them the freedom to express their thoughts and feelings about their dream. When you find anything that’s said or thought right, give praises and appreciation. Let them know that they were correct in something that they said and encourage them to stay on that line of thinking. If they say something that sounds funny, let them know that they made you laugh. Make them feel as comfortable with you as possible so that they will feel that freedom while sharing their dreams with you.

  • Get creative in your conversation with them by asking questions. Get onto the “what if’s” and hear out what they would respond you with. If you have anything in mind that you think would make them participate, ask away. For example, if your child tells you that he wants to become a doctor, ask him why he chose that to be his answer. Let him freely speak. Give him options if you have anything in mind. For example, ask your child if he’d be interested in taking up another profession related to it. Offer facts and let them think and speak out what they think about it.

Get Your Child onto a Variety of Experiences

  • Get your child involved in music lessons, art classes, dance classes and other types of short classes which will enhance his or her talent or encourage a talent that he/she haven’t discovered yet.

  • Take him/her to places like the museum where he/she can appreciate arts and creations that are on display. You can also take your child to festivals, state parks and even to concerts that are appropriate for his/her age. Anything that would allow him/her to learn and embrace as a part of the culture.

  • You may also take your child somewhere where he/she can appreciate other people’s culture that is different from your own. This will help in avoiding culture shock and such effects.

  • As a child grows older, their curiosity increases. Make sure to cultivate their curiosity by allowing them to ask you questions. Answer these questions with a good illustration and explain it to your child how it works. For example, he/she wants to know how breathing works. You can go online and look for resources that would help you elaborate this to your child in a way that he/she could easily understand. If your child wants to get creative and express it, allow him/her to use his/her fingers when it comes to painting and teach them how to use colors as well as mixing them together.

  • Always encourage your child to do very well in school and aim for a high mark. Teach them to want to soar high in their class standing. When your child grows a little older, encourage him/her to take classes that would develop his/her perspective on things of this life. This will develop his/her mind and make him/her embrace school in a good way.

Keeping Your Child’s Dreams Grounded in Reality

  • When your child reaches the age where he/she can already go to school, take a step by step grounding of your child’s dreams. When you get into a conversation with your child about his/her dreams for the future, give some praises and encouragement. Make your child feel that he/she is making the right choice by complimenting them. You can say that they picked the right profession for their future. If he/she wants to be a doctor, you can say, “It’s a good thing that you chose that! I think you would make a really good one!’. After that, you can start asking what he/she thinks would be good skills to develop in order for him/her to reach that dream in the future. This will help your child think and engage in a brainstorming process.

  • As your child grows older and reaches a higher level in his studies, most ideally when in middle school, you can increase your grounding of his dreams by asking him questions and offering more of reality. For example, your child wants to become a singer. You can say, “I think it is good that you want to pursue that in the future. A lot of people love living out their passion more than just as a profession. However, not everyone stays on top of their popularity and their fame goes down sometimes. And there are other things involved in that such as having no privacy in your life as people will be taking note of your every move. However, you know I would love to support you in whatever you want to do in life that would be good for you. I just have to tell you honestly that I’m not that comfortable of the idea.”

Getting Your Toddler to Share

Toddlers Sharing

As parents we feel pleased when we see our toddler willingly and graciously sharing her toys, disappointed if we observe selfish behaviour, and appalled when somebody else's child is overly possessive with his toys.

As parents, nannies and child care professionals though we need to understand that sharing is not an innate behaviour, but something that is learned at a particular stage of development.

Before sharing, toddlers must first comprehend the concept of ownership. You'll know that she is working on this when she starts saying "Mine", this will probably start around the age of two years old. Ownership demonstrates autonomy and a sense of self, and as paradoxical as it may seem, she needs to develop this before she can begin to understand sharing. In between developing a sense of self and a willingness to share, toddlers will begin to show their toys with others but without actually letting the other take possession. When you see your child showing a toy to another, you can gently encourage sharing, but don't force it. She will share when she is ready.

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Saying Goodbye to Your Toddler

Just about every mother has been through that difficult task of leaving your toddler somewhere, either at home or childcare. Some situations are really tough and I still cringe when I think back on the moments when I would try to leave for work. My toddler would form herself into a cross barring all passage through the front door, and when I finally did get past her, she would cling to my skirt or blouse all the way to the elevator.

Only a mother knows the kind of guilt that follows on from an ordeal like that.

It was my husband's turn when she started attending play school. He used to drop her off and try to leave without being pulled back by the crying. We also enlisted uncles and aunties and grandmothers to take turns in dropping her off and picking her up. I think one of her uncles spent quite a few full-length lessons in her play school.

If you are not able to use a grandparent or other relative, then the next best thing is her familiar maid, nanny or babysitter who often can help making saying goodbye almost painless.

Here are some tips which should help:

  • Having a household routine helps to give a sense of order and allows your child to feel safe and confident that her parents will return and that the world is a predictable place.
  • Follow the same pattern each time you leave. Again, a routine suggests predictability which assures your child you will return.
  • Usually, it is best not to sneak out unnoticed, unless your child has a very strong bond with the relative, nanny, babysitter or maid looking after her. It could easily lead to mistrust every time you go into another room and are out of sight for a while.
  • Say "goodbye" confidently, cheerfully and quickly. Drawing out the process could lead to an escalation which might have otherwise been avoided.
  • Set-up a pleasant situation for your child to be immersed in after you leave. A good babysitter can make the world of difference here, but just starting a favourite DVD movies, or playing one in the Resource section on this website, may be enough to prevent a melt-down.
  • Get the babysitter to come half an hour before you need to leave. A new person coming and the parents leaving all at once is too much, too quick. Let the changes happen gradually.
  • Do your best to convince yourself that your child will be OK while you are away. There is not much point in going out for a nice evening if you don't enjoy yourself. After all, it is easy for the nanny to call you if something is not right.

Managing The Terrible Twos

The terrible twos have a terrible reputation but, perhaps I was just lucky with my daughter. I breezed through it, and still think of it as one of the most enjoyable ages to mother a child through. Many parents approach their child’s second birthday with an air of trepidation — after all, the phrase “the terrible twos” does not exactly fill one with confidence. In fact, the twos need not be terrible at all. Your child is entering her late toddler years, an incredibly rewarding stage when she is learning at a rapid pace and is increasingly developing into a self-possessed, unique individual.

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Stopping Thumb Sucking

Thumb-sucking
Thumb-sucking

It's common for infants and pre-schoolers to indulge in thumb-sucking

Many parents worry about their infant's thumb sucking behaviour. While it is true that it can cause backward alignment of the teeth and an overbite as well as thickened skin on the thumb, all of these are reversible and not permanent provided the habit stops around the years of 4 to 5. Most children stop sucking their thumbs on their own, mostly due to peer pressure. I well remember what motivated me to stop sucking my thumb: On the walk home from kindergarten there was a beautiful velvety blue-green hedge which I could not resist running my fingers along as I walked past. The trouble is, it left a bitter taste on my fingers and I was over the thumb-sucking habit in just a few days!

Here are some tips for parents, nannies and babysitters to help the child in their care break the habit

A Guide to Stopping Thumb Sucking

  • Never coerce your child to cooperate. Do not press the issue by using forceful methods, such as pulling the finger out of your child's mouth. This will only reinforce and encourage the behavior.
  • Avoid teasing or embarrassing your child to try to get him to stop thumb sucking.
  • Use encouragement and positive reinforcement, such as a reward chart or star calendar. Every day that he refrains from sucking is rewarded with a star. Discuss an appropriate reward for when he has gone for a few weeks with stars pasted on every day of the calendar.
  • Try to distract your child and keep him busy Some children suck their thumb when they're bored. Avoid activities that stimulate the behavior, such as watching television.
  • Many children are not even aware of the fact that they're sucking their thumb. Use an adhesive strip or bitter-tasting medicine to remind him not to suck his thumb.
  • Nighttime sucking will be difficult to stop. You can try applying a sock or glove to the child's hand.
  • Enlist the help of your doctor or dentist to encourage your child to give up the habit because he is "growing up."
  • Buy a book or take one out from the library that you can read to him about breaking the habit.
  • As a very last resort, your dentist can make a plate that prevents thumb sucking.

Positive Reinforcement and your Child’s Behaviour

Childrens Star Chart

In the previous two posts (Using Time-out on the Kids in Your Care and  Strategies for Managing Time-out Sessions) we talked about the technique of giving your child time-out as a way to control his difficult behaviour. It teaches children that there are consequences to bad behaviour. It is a form of disciplining which is effective without being unduly harsh, however it does have a degree of negativity to it. So now we'll discuss other, positive, ways to encourage your child to do the right thing. It's called positive reinforcement, and it it really powerful.

Of course most parents are already aware of positive reinforcement in an intuitive way. You encourage good behaviour through praise, rewards and shared activities which gives them the incentive to carry on behaving well. It helps to strengthen family bonds and build self esteem, trust and respect between family members, which is what we are aiming for.

Like any other technique, there are some traps to avoid. It is easy to unwittingly give positive reinforcement to a child and strengthen bad behaviour. An example of this is if a child throws a tantrum in a store, an easy way out would be to buy some candy or a toy in an effort to get him to behave. The result of course, is that the child soon learns that he will be rewarded for bad behaviour.

Another thing to be wary of is that there is a fine line between reward and bribery. Bribery is a quick-fix method of getting the desired behaviour. So a promise of a trip to the cinema and a bucket of popcorn if homework is completed within a certain time is getting pretty close to a bribe. A warm smile, a hug and a compliment shows how delighted you are with what your child has done and helps to ingrain the correct behaviour and ensure it continues. On the other hand, when the bribing stops, so does the behaviour.

Some people (my MIL) seem to think that too much praise is a bad thing and you will spoil the child (I hate that word, what does "spoil" mean?). If I tell my daughter too many times how pretty she looks, or how nice her finger-painting is, or how nicely she played with her friends, will she become conceited? No, I don't believe she will, but she will get a warm glow that will stay with her for a while.

You have to be careful to give praise appropriately. Kids can see right through praise that is condescending, not genuine, or is misplaced. So you have to give it honestly and appropriately.

Childrens Star Chart

Childrens Star Chart

One method of giving rewards for the very young, is to use star charts or reward charts. These are good because the child can observe, and get delight in watching the progress  towards the goal or reward on a colourful chart. Watching a star get removed for bad behaviour may fill them with remorse, but seeing two more added as rewards for doing good, will fill them with pleasure and help to keep them motivated.

Strategies for Managing Time-out Sessions

The time-out Spot
The time-out Spot

The time-out Spot

Giving time-out as described in the previous blog post is an effective way to control anti-social behaviour, but if you are just starting to implement the technique, you may run up against some difficulties. This blog post is to help you overcome them, and keep the program going.

One thing that is very important is the warning. You may think that the child should already know that what she is doing is wrong. But actually, since she is caught-up in the heat of the moment, she is only thinking of the situation, and not realising she is behaving badly. That is why the parent, nanny or care-giver must step in quickly and firmly, describe what is unacceptable about the behaviour, and remind her that time-out will be given unless it stops immediately. The warning is a sudden stop-and-think punctuation mark which sometimes jolts the kid out of the behaviour making having a time-out unnecessary.

If you were to immediately grab the child and march her off to the time-out place, she won't have had a chance to think about what she is doing, and you have not given her a chance to stop it. She will be resentful that you acted so hastily and so harshly, and this may ratchet-up her bad behaviour.

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Bullying: Ideas for Parents & Childcare Professionals

The Damage from Bullying
The Damage from Bullying

The Damage from Bullying

People can be cruel, you only have to watch news programs on television to realise that evolution has endowed us with a potential for viciousness which still simmers beneath the veneer of civilised behaviour. All parents and childcare professionals need to be  aware of the damage bullying can do to our precious children. No child should be a victim of bullying as it can lead to lasting psychological problems including depression, anxiety, low self esteem, and thoughts of suicide.
Let's define bullying: A bully exhibits repeated aggressive behaviour which causes another person hurt or distress. Bullying can be physical, verbal or more subtle actions such as cyber-bullying using the Internet or mobile phones or other digital technologies to harass. The person being bullied usually cannot defend his or herself, and in most cases does nothing to cause the bullying.

Bullying can happen anywhere, but often it will be in the school building or yard, the school bus, the child's neighbourhood or on the Internet.
I have heard some people saying that bullying is inevitable and is just an experience children have to go through. But it should not be tolerated, it is not a passing phase that children will grow out of. It can and does cause lasting and serious harm.

As parents, nannies and childcare professionals we have to be  aware of the warning signs of bullying. The signs that a child might be the victim of a bully are:

  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Lost, missing or damaged personal possessions
  • Frequent claims of illness. such as headaches.
  • Pretending to be sick in order to avoid school
  • Falling academic results and general loss of interest in school work
  • Listlessness, the appearance of helplessness and loss of self esteem
  • Negative and self-destructive behaviour such as harming themselves or talk about suicide
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Sudden loss of friends.
  • Change in socialisation habits.

More often than not children do not ask for help. bullying can make them feel helpless and may be telling themselves that they can manage the situation on their own so that they will be able to feel in control again. Also children may fear reprisals form the bully if he believes that his behaviour has been reported to an adult. Being bullied is very humiliating to the victim, they often do not want to repeat the things being said about them and they may be worried that it will appear trivial to an adult.

What should you do if you suspect you child is being bullied?

Immediately contact your child's teacher and explain your fears. She may have noticed some bullying behaviour but is unaware of the extent of it. The teacher may recommend that your child sees the school counsellor, or you can make that request yourself. If you feel that you are not getting satisfactory answers take it further by contacting the school principal or even the Department of Education. If you feel that you are not getting the full story from your child, talk to his friends and the parents of his friends. Do listen to your parent's intuition as the damage caused by even relatively brief episodes of bullying can last a lifetime.

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