Teaching outside of the event and offering a replacement behavior are both effective, while other times clear communication is the key to success. In all of the following, these suggestions were made, the parents followed through, and the problems were resolved.
Below are questions from parents who have found themselves in difficult situations. These problems may seem minor, but the future behavior of each child may depend on how their parent handles the situation. Children learn from our responses, so it is important to respond with thought rather than reaction.
I’m always impressed by parents who ask how to best help their child, as parenting can be both challenging and frustrating. It can be very difficult to decide what to do next, once you have told your child “no” several times. Teaching outside of the event and offering a replacement behavior are both effective, while other times clear communication is the key to success. In all of the following, these suggestions were made, the parents followed through, and the problems were resolved.
Problem: A 14-year-old freshman doesn’t want mom to attend football scrimmages.
Solved: Understanding the emotions of a teen is necessary in building the scaffolding for open communication, and a strong, healthy relationship. Children need continuous guidance to keep them safe and to help build the confidence that leads to good choices. From a parent-perspective, supporting a child by attending scrimmages means you are part of his life and value his activities. From a child-perspective, it may seem as though you don’t understand or honor his feelings. Learn more about his concerns. Scrimmages are the practices before the games. Perhaps honoring his request not to attend scrimmages will build the relationship you seek, so he will welcome your cheers and support at the games.
Problem: Dinnertime chaos with four children under 6.
Solved: Purchase inexpensive aprons for each child, trace handprints on each, and identify with names. A chef’s uniform will help each child feel valued and important in his work. Purchase a plastic place mat for each family member, and trace silverware, plates, napkins, etc. on each with a permanent marker as a model to teach table setting. Provide prompts and encouragement as the table is set. Engage each child with a dinner preparation activity, such as gathering pots, pans or food items, washing or cutting vegetables (with a plastic knife) or setting the table. While enjoying your meal, remark on all the wonderful help.
Problem: Three-year-old uses too much toilet paper and constantly clogs the toilet. Mom wants to allow for independence, but child can’t be trusted.
Solved: Young children should always be monitored in the bathroom, as there are many unforeseen dangers. Identify squares on the roll of toilet paper and tell him that since he is 3 years old, you will let him count and tear off three squares to use. This allows him to be independent and use the appropriate amount each time.
Problem: Single mom with four children under 5 has difficulty going out because her children walk or run ahead while she pushes the stroller with a baby.
Solved: Offer pieces of colorful ribbon, invite each child to choose his favorite color and find his favorite spot on the stroller handle. Tie each ribbon to each of those chosen spots. Practice holding on by calling out colors; “Blue, find your ribbon! Green, grab on! Red, get ready!” Provide plenty of praise for each child who remains holding his ribbon and walks alongside of the stroller. Note: Ribbons can be a danger for children. Be mindful, never leave your child unattended, and remove each ribbon out of harm’s way when not in use.
Diana Boggia, M.Ed., is a parenting expert. Send your child-rearing questions to FamilyMatters@cantonrep.com or The Repository, c/o Family Matters, 500 Market Ave. S, Canton, OH, 44702. Find parenting resources at her website, www.yourperfectchild.com.