Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Limit Setting Tips

As promised, here is another 'Tip Sheet' I have to make your life easier!  This one is on Limit Setting..most of this I have posted about before in detail, but it's nice to have it all in one place :)

I. 3 Step Limit Setting:

A) Recognize the feeling:  "I know you'd really like to..."  or " I can tell you're really feeling.." etc.

B) Set the Limit:  "...but you may not_________... because.."  or "but the answer is no"  or "but the cabinet door is not for kicking."

C)  Provide an alternative:  "You can_______if you'd like."  or "What you can do is ________"

Example: I can tell you are really feeling frustrated, but the crayons are not for throwing.  You can color with the crayons on paper, or if you are feeling mad, you can hit this pillow."

* If they disobey again, you can give a final limit: "I can see you really want to throw the crayons when you are mad, but the crayons are not for throwing, if you choose to throw them again, you choose to put them up for the rest of the afternoon."

II. After the 3 Step Process and they still disobey or argue, do NOT discuss: Tell them "I can tell you'd like to discuss this some more, but I have already said no"  or "but I've already answered that question." (This is after you have put the crayons up for the afternoon.)

III.  If they keep nagging about it or whining for it, calmly state "I've already answered that question."

"Do you remember the answer I gave you a few minutes ago when you asked? Go sit down in a  quiet place and think and I know you'll remember."

-If they are younger and you think they don't understand, "I've already answered that question, It sounds like you might have a question about the answer...." and explain further.

Credits: Most of the limit setting comes from my Play Therapy bible, by Gary Landreth, PhD:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Types of Play

I just came home from my children's preschool board meeting, and we were discussing our upcoming Open House for prospective parents.  Ha, the questions some parents asked last year, such as "what is the math curriculum for their 2 year old"? What?  I obviously picked a preschool that is play-based, being a play therapist, so those questions kind of make me laugh. No offense if you are more into the College Prep type preschools.  But I love the environment and the philosophy that 'children learn through play.'

And I can't stress enough about the importance of play in children!  Play is their language and toys are their words.  Sometimes I love just watching my children play at home and at other times I interact with them and 'play'.  Don't worry about feeling like you have to give your child attention 24/7 while they play and having to get down on the floor with them at all times.  They need to play on their own to express themselves, learn, and develop skills.  So relax and take a break :)

If you are shopping for preschools, or need a quick refresher on the benefits of play, here ya go:
(also a great resource on child development and play: Play and Child Development (4th Edition)

1) Solitary Play:  Infancy-3ish
Once a child is born, they are actively exploring the environment around them.  From trying to kick a toy hanging from a mobile, to fitting shapes into holes they are learning while they play alone and develop gross motor skills. Solitary play happens at this early stage, as they play alone or near another child without any interaction between them.  Of course this can happen at any age as most children benefit from playing alone at times too.

2) Parallel Play: Ages 1-3ish

From infancy, children act on the world around them just for the pleasure of seeing what happens; for example, repeatedly dropping a spoon on the floor or pulling the cat’s tail. But by the time they are toddlers, they need playmates, yet they play with them quite differently from the way older children play together. 

Place two 18-month-olds with similar toys near each other in the same room, and you'll note that they don't seem to pay much attention to each other- that's parallel play. They somewhat interact with each other, you'll notice that if one picks up a truck, the other is likely to do the same. If the first child looks at that truck and says, "No" (a toddler's favorite word), the second is likely to imitate him and yell, "No!" as well.

3) Symbolic Play: Ages 2 and up.

To an infant or a young toddler, a block is a block. If she has more than one, she might stack them or pull them apart. But once she's about 2 years old, she can start using blocks for much more and uses them symbolically. In her eyes they can become a house, a car, or anything else she wants, such as picking up a shell and pretending to drink from it like a cup.

4) Imaginary/Pretend/Dramatic Play: Ages 2 and up

This is the type of play when your child throws on the Fireman outfit or Cinderella dress and pretends to put out fires and marry their prince.  An older toddler or a preschooler can fight dragons or fly to the moon, all without leaving his bedroom. If you want to build a child this age a fort, all you need are some chairs and cardboard boxes.

5) Collaborative Play: Ages 3 and older

Preschoolers progress from solitary and parallel play to collaborative play. By the age of 3-5 children begin to engage in more mature forms of dramatic play, in which they may act out specific roles, interact with one another in their roles, and plan how the play will go.  It's at this stage that your child learns to master important new social skills, such as sharing, taking turns, obeying rules, and negotiating. These are all very difficult behaviors for a young child to learn. After all, at this age, your child believes she is the center of the universe!  But don't become alarmed if your child still engages in more solitary play at times.  As parents we want our children to be social and not feel left out, but know that all children benefit from playing alone at times too.

Also remember that children's play sometimes has less to do with other people than with finding out about the world.  Young children naturally explore their environments in playful ways that help them understand the physical environment and their own bodies.

I am giving a school tours tomorrow for our preschool Open House, so wish me luck :)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Do's and Don'ts in Guiding Young Kids

I promised you guys a few posts on simple handouts that I recently found in my old files, so here ya go.  When giving these out to parents, I learned that keeping tips short and sweet and on one page would get the best results. Because as you know as parents, we don't have time for long winded explanations!

This particular tip sheet actually came from my old days of college when I was a child development major and training to work with the children at my school's preschool.  It's a great way to give commands or directives to your child.  They are great alternatives to saying "don't" all the time.  As an adult, I don't like people telling me 'don't' all the time, so as a child I know I would feel much more able to comply and learn correctly if someone gave me 'nicer' directives :)

         Do Say                                                                               Don't Say

Sit down when you slide                                             Don't stand up when you slide
Dig in the sand                                                            Don't throw the sand
Sit in the swing                                                           Don't stand in the swing
Use both hands to climb                                             You'll fall if you don't watch out
Climb down the ladder                                                Don't jump off the box
Walk around the swing                                               Be careful, the swing might hit you

Keep the puzzle on the table                                      Don't dump the puzzle pieces on the floor
Turn the pages carefully                                            Don't tear the book
Talk in a quiet voice                                                  Don't shout
Wipe your hands on the towel                                   Don't touch anything
Chairs are for sitting in                                              Don't rock in your chair
Wipe your brush on the jar                                        Don't drip paint on the floor
Hands are not for hitting                                            Don't hit your sister
Walls are not for painting on                                     Don't get paint on the wall  

These tips I've known for some time now, but I realized how easy it is to forget to also follow through after you tell them what not to do.  For instance, this morning my child was banging her fork on the table because she thought it was funny. So I told her 'forks are not for banging on the table' and then realized I needed to follow through on re-directing.  So then I said, "forks are for eating with.." so she just doesn't hear the negative, but understands what you CAN DO instead and it ends on a more positive note.  Now if I can just remember this all the time..well, maybe 4 out of 10 times :)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Overwhelmed Parenting

Happy New Years everyone!  Are you all feeling a little overwhelmed with gifts, putting away holiday things and getting back to a 5 day routine again?

I started thinking about my resolutions and what this year will bring for me.  The biggest thing is that my 4 year old will be starting Kindergarten in the Fall! What?? When did that happen? She was just a baby the other day and I was crying about lack of sleep from a newborn, seriously. (And that lack of sleep thing never goes away I think as a parent- illnesses, potty issues, nightmares, etc.)  But I digress..

I got to thinking about this blog and ALL of the parenting posts and realized HOW OVERWHELMING IT IS TO PARENT A CHILD in 2015.  And what I mean by that is all of the things a parent has to do to make sure our children grow up well in today's society.  It's from making sure we teach them things like manners to how much screen time to have. I realized I have slacked in posting more about how to help and one page handouts like I had promised a while back, so I have a resolution to do more this year.

But I realized while reflecting that it can sure feel exhausting when you think about all of the things our naive little beings have to learn (or we feel we have to teach them). We want them to be able to be independent one day and leave the house at 18 feeling we did a good job.

It's hard enough to remember to say and do all of the right things to increase their self-esteem, teach them good morals, use effective discipline (which could be like 50 different items here), teaching 'right from wrong', natural consequences, how to be nice to others, how to look both ways before we cross the street, fostering autonomy and independence, how to be a good citizen, social media dos and don'ts, and most importantly: how to not pick your nose in front of others :)

Or how about the dreaded 'where do we come from' questions and good touch/bad touch discussions? "Hands are not for hitting" and teaching them how to take turns.  Do you let them play out in the front yard or back yard alone? How to not talk to strangers.  And teaching them how not to get thrown out of a restaurant for disruptive behavior (or dirty looks from fellow diners at 6pm at night- come on, you are dining during children's hour, what did you expect?).

And speaking of the holidays, a big one this year was how to not tell the relative, "I already have that toy!" Uhm, awkward.  For the record I had this conversation with my child several times prior to gift giving season and I could tell she was about to forget one night, so I quickly told her to say "thank you" before she realized what had happened, phew!

I don't have all of the answers on how to make your life easier raising children, but I do have a resolution to send more of my 'how to' and hand outs this year.  I thought the older my children got, the more time I would have to do things like devote to my blog, but it has kind of been the opposite.

Here's to a Happy New Year 2015!

The Counselor Mom