Mom, you so often tell me “why do you always make a mess?”, “Why do you never share with your brother?”, “How many times do I have to explain things so you understand?” I know you say these things out of your tiredness and impatience. But such sayings do not guide me towards better behaviors; they just harm my self esteem. When I misbehave be sure to correct my behavior and not my personality. Give me specific guidance rather than a general one. For example say: “Your brother shared his cars with you earlier, so now I expect you to let him play with your robot”. This will help me understand what is expected of me and help me build my self esteem.
Let’s play a word game. For example, let’s take the letter “A” and say many words that start with an “A”: apple, airplane, alligator etc. Then we will take “B” and say: bear, beautiful, bath, balloon etc. We can take one letter every day and play with it, and we could then even draw the words we said! This will expand my vocabulary, help me listen to the sounds of the letters, and will prepare me, in a fun way, for reading and writing.
While you were cleaning the house I was running around and bumped into the water bucket. The water spilled out. You told me in an assertive voice that you are angry with me and that I have to help you clean the mess. By not yelling or speaking aggressively, you showed me how we can control ourselves even when we feel angry. I learn from you, and I too will try to control myself when I feel angry.
I returned from school and wanted to play and talk a lot. I did not want to do my homework and you said you were disappointed in me, and that my sister Molly never postponed doing homework and never gave you such troubles. I was so hurt by what you said that even after playing and talking I did not want to do my homework. Mom, please do not compare me to my sister. And please let me rest and unwind a bit after school, and then I will be able to do my homework and be the good kid you want me to be.
When I tell you about fears I have, I need you to let me feel understood and protected by you. Maybe you could tell me a story related to my fear and through the story help me find ways to deal with my fear.
Dad bought a new i-Pad. He came home excited and happy. He showed me the wonders of the i-Pad and we played together a real exciting game! Since then I just want to play on the i-Pad and don’t care to join my friends who are playing outside. Mom, at my age it is very important that I run and play outdoors and do some physical activity. Sitting in front of the computer for long times is not good for me. Set a limited time for me to play on the computer and let me know in advance how much computer time is allowed. And please encourage me to go and play outside.
“Sometimes when Mom reads to me she says words that I’ve never heard before, or ones that I’ve heard but don’t really understand….”
When reading aloud to your child it is good to pause after reading a difficult word and ask your child what the word means. Think with him what the word may mean and how you may be able to guess the meaning of the word even if you don’t know it. This helps your child develop the ability to understand words from their context, an ability that will become very handy and important later on when learning to read.
Mom, when you take me to the park or to play with friends, it would be great if you watched me from some distance to see how I go about playing and interacting with friends. Later we can talk about things that took place during the playtime, and you can teach me how to be a good friend.
Mom, sometimes you act like you’re Sherlock Holmes. Things happen at home and you immediately go about uncovering the mysteries. “Who doodled on the wall?”, “Who didn’t put all the toy cars back in the box?”, etc. My brother and I always deny everything and it drives you crazy. Mom, here’s something to consider: is the point finding who’s guilty, or solving the problem? Maybe instead of asking “Who”, you could ask “How did this happen?” and suggest that we clean up the mess. This will encourage us to find solutions, instead of escaping from responsibility.
A regular routine and clear and consistent rules are very important for your child’s development. These include, for example, a regular bedtime every night and a rule regarding how many sweets are allowed every day. At the same time, it’s good to choose a few rules with which you can afford to be a bit more flexible, for instance: perhaps on weekends you can allow your child to go to bed a little later, or have something sweet before dinner instead of having it for dessert..? While having a clear routine is very important for your child, your willingness to modify some rules on special occasions, will help your child learn about the importance of being flexible.
Children learn about cooperation and shared decision making from watching their parents. Some households hold “family meetings”, during which every family member can take part in making decisions such as what activities to sign up for, or where to go for the next family vacation. Everyone gets a turn to propose an idea and to explain why they think their idea is best. Then, together you can discuss the pros and cons of each potential option. Someone might need to compromise if their idea isn’t chosen, but there is always next time.
Your child increasingly shows more interest in jokes, rhymes and funny stories. Think for a moment: what makes your child laugh? Does she like a certain cartoon character, or have a special connection to a friend or family member who makes her laugh? Humor is a wonderful tool for stress reduction, and significantly contributes to our emotional and mental health. The use of humor enables us to slightly remove ourselves from an unpleasant situation so that we can look at it from a different perspective. Looking at a problem from a new perspective makes it easier to find solutions and therefore helps us relax. So, what do you think makes your child laugh? Could you try to think in funny ways today? Maybe you could make up a funny ending to a famous story? Or ask a family member to tell you funny stories that happened to them? What will make you laugh today….?
Mom baked a beautiful cake for my birthday. The cake was round and chocolaty, with whipped cream and strawberries on top. Mom left the cake on the kitchen counter, waiting for my grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles to arrive. She said I have to wait patiently without touching the cake. I really wanted to taste one little strawberry, but I restrained myself and waited! Mom was very proud of me, and when all the guests arrived she told them how nicely I had waited even though it was not easy for me. This made me very proud and happy. Such experiences of controlling impulses help promote the development of your child self-confidence. When you explain to your child clearly what behavior is expected of him, it makes it easier for him to control himself and meet your expectations
Every afternoon, the same thing happens. My favorite show ends and I start to get antsy. I feel bored and yell and scream, expecting Mom to find the solution! Mom, the problem of boredom is easily solved, and as a side benefit I will also learn something about taking responsibility. Please try to arrange a regular daily schedule for me, so that I know in advance what to expect and therefore will be calmer. Another great idea is preparing a surprise box, which will include things I like, that can help like a miracle. Maybe a part of my daily schedule can be to play with the surprise box. And then every time, when the program ends, encourage me to play a different game. This will teach me how to be independent and will also calm me down.
Sometimes, when we read rhymes, I feel like rhyming, too. I like saying words like loop, stoop and then also poop. I know you don’t like the last word so much, but it makes me laugh, and helps me unwind. Then you can continue with words and rhymes that don’t have bad words in them, like map, nap, and cap. I will learn from you how to think of things without having to say them. The child learns how to refrain from inappropriate responses by watching the behavior of the parent.
You can find more tips and online chat for the parents of infants, toddlers and first graders on the BabyBuzz app.