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Coping With Your Child's Personality - All about Parenting Toddlers , Issue #011
May 22, 2003

Shaping the life of your precious ones

All about Parenting Toddlers
Issue #011
22th May 2003

In This Issue:

1. Coping With Your Child's Personality
2. Mealtime capers
3. How to encourage your child to read

Coping With Your Child's Personality

Ever feel frustrated by your high-energy baby? What can you do about a child who screams himself silly when he doesn't get his own way? A youngster who gets overexcited when a playmate come over? The experts tell us that there's probably not a lot you can go about changing the way a child tends to reach if that tendency is inborn but there are ways you can help him manage his impulses better - and spare yourself lots of grief along the way.

Realize that your child's immature behavioral style is not your "fault" because temperament is biological not something he learned from you. Still it is within your power to help your child cope with his temperament - and eventually to understand himself better instead of feeling sorry for yourself for having a noisy, distractible or shy child. Learn to accept this as his nature and then develop a strategy to help him adapt in a socially acceptable way. Replace a victimized mind-set with an adult resolve to help your child ameliorate his difficulties. Above all, remember that all temperamental qualities can be shaped to work to a child's advantage if they are sensibly managed.

To become a "manager of your child's temperament, make sure that you step back from his objectionable behavior for a minute and remind yourself that his shrill shriek of excitement or his irregular sleeping habits are not deliberate reactions but one he can yet control. The key is to switch on the objective part of your mind rather than to become emotionally embroiled in his temperamental difficulties. Through this emotionally "neutral" stance, you'll be better able to help him modify his reactions because you'll be thinking rationally.

Develop specific plans ahead of time to cope with troublesome behavior and then enforce them in a sympathetic but consistently firm ways. If your child tend to get wild on family occasions or when he's with friends, be sensitive to this tendency and take steps to quiet it before it escalates. (Decide ahead if this activity is one he can handle. With younger children avoiding potential problem situations may be the best solution). With a baby you may want to tell your host that you will want to leave the party early. You can also take your child into a quiet room and sit with him until he falls asleep. Follow similar procedure with an older child, either by removing him from the activity, distracting him with something quieter such as a story hour or a snack or calling a "time out" period.

An infant with irregular biological rhythms will need special structuring from you so that he eventually learns to sleep through the night, to eat at the usual meal times and to control his bladder and bowel function. In this case, a doctor or child-behavior expert may be able to help to develop a schedule for your baby.

For an older child who resists going to sleep, you may have to make special distinctions between bedtime and "sleep-time." To help him settle down, you can insist that the youngster get into bed at a certain time but permit him to read or play quietly until he feels sleepy. In this way, you are regulating his schedule but still allowing him to relax at his own pace.

Learn to distinguish between behavior that is temperamentally induced and that which is learned. If a child knocks over your best vase by mistake because he is a high-energy child and was running gleefully through the living room, your response should be different than if he broke your vase deliberately.

In some instances you will probably be upset and may express your displeasure. But the action you pursue should be different. In the first case you may have to give some thought on how to prevent your child from running through the living room and remembering other ways he can work off his energy while in the house. In the second scenario, you will probably want to punish the child for his deliberate destruction of your personal property to impress upon him that this behavior is socially unacceptable. With temperament, the goal is always to manage rather than to systematically punish.

By the same token learn to distinguish between a tantrum that is temperamentally determined and one that is deliberately manipulative. Both may look the same because in both instances the child is crying or screaming loudly but the reasons for them are different. A strong-willed and intense child may react to a disappointment with a tantrum but the parent should understand that in a sense the child really can't help it - that this is his innate behavioral reaction. This is in marked contrast to the less intense child who screams and cries in the same way when you say no because he has learned that such behavior will weaken your resolve and make your give into him. Becoming an expert on your child's temperament will help you distinguish between the two types of tantrums - and then you can react to the tantrum appropriately.

Finally remember that one of the most important jobs a parent can do is help his child develop self-esteem. That doesn't mean over-inflating his ego but rather helping him develop a positive sense of himself with a fair sense of his strengths and weaknesses. Understanding a child temperament is the first step toward enhancing his self-esteem because you will be able to deliver praise sensitively in accordance with his innate tendencies and help him build upon those traits in a positive way.



Teach Me, I'm YoursTeach Me, I'm Yours - by Joan Bramsch
If You Want Your Child To Be Smart, You Be The First Teacher. An outstanding resource for parents of children aged 2.5 - 7 years. Endorsed by educators and tested in "real life", for increased skill levels, concentration ability, attention span, and self-confidence. It can even raise a child's IQ!




Mealtime capers

Getting toddlers to sit still for a meal is always a hassle. When parents seek cooperation from their toddlers during mealtimes, they are really trying to get their children to obey. When mothers and fathers insist that their toddlers sit quietly and learn good table manners, they are not encouraging positive behaviour in their children. No amount of coaxing, forcing and giving of rewards will work as long as the demand is to obey rather than to cooperate.

To cooperate means the child has to work alongside the adult to meet the needs of a situation. This does not mean that the child will do what the adult says.

For the child to cooperate, he is doing it because he wants to, not because he is forced to. Learning to cooperate is a gradual process for children which require patience and understanding from adults.

Toddlers are active explorers. They are becoming more aware of cause and effect. They know that when they refuse to eat, the adults will fret over them.

When your child refuses to do what you want of him/her, you will try many ways to convince him/her that it is important. Your many antics in getting your child to sit at mealtimes must have given him/her endless amusement.

Toddlers are going through a stage of negativism. According to experts, they are learning about their individuality and ability. They are also developing a sense of independence. At most times, just to show that they can refuse, they will not do what you want of them or give their cooperation. It is really quite simple for a toddler. When he says “No” to you, he is taking control over himself.

By refusing to do what is expected of him, he is showing you that he is different from what he used to be when he was a baby. Now he can actually get down from the chair and remove himself from the dining table. He knows that his behaviour can actually change what is going to happen and affect his caregivers.

Toddlers can move very fast and show no fear of possible dangers. They need physical boundaries to protect them from harm. At the same time, they will also explore social behaviours. They are interested to know what is acceptable and what is not. They start to understand the messages directed at their behaviour. Your child understands that you get upset with him when he does not sit quietly at mealtimes.

It is important to set limits for your toddler’s behaviour. The limits must recognise the child’s developmental needs and interests. If you require him to sit and eat, this is because you do not want him to choke if he should run around with food in his mouth. Remember that toddlers can sit quietly for a meal only for a short time.

However, teaching him table manners at this age is going to be an uphill task as he is still far from able to understand the importance of having table manners.

Your child may learn a little about table manners when he observes his parents display good table manners during mealtimes. He will remain at the table when he enjoys being with those around him. When you invite him to join you for a meal, extend a warm invitation rather than force him to obey you. Your toddler will be more inclined to sit down with you at the dining table when he feels happy and secure.

Toddlers like to do things that adults do around the house. They prefer routines. You can get your child to help you prepare for a meal. He can help lay the table or carry small plates to the table. Give him positive feedback on his helpful behaviour. Tell him that you appreciate his help. You can say: “You are helping me by putting the forks and spoons on the table. I am glad for your help.” This reinforces his good behaviour, setting the right mood for mealtimes. Toddlers like to say “No” just to take control of the situation. This can be quite unnerving for parents. You can deal with your child's negativism by turning his negative behaviour into positive behaviour. When your child handles tasks that he can do well in and gets recognition for his effort, he will become more cooperative.

Be creative. You can set themes for your meals so that your child will find the varied food presentations fascinating. I am sure he will be delighted when you prepare a Hawaiian dinner with rice in a pineapple boat instead of a plate. Children enjoy routines but they also like some novelty now and then.

Give your toddler several small meals rather than force him to eat three big meals. Children who are active cannot sit still to finish up a big meal even though they are hungry. They would take a few mouthfuls and leave their chairs as soon as they have had enough.

More often than not, the toddler will say “No” rather than “Yes. But it is not only the toddler who refuses to cooperate. Even the parents are using more “No”s during these toddler years. Children who are opposed to will also learn to do the same. So whenever possible, redirect your child’s negative behaviour to something positive and try to use “Yes” as often as possible.

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How to encourage your child to read

Here are some ideas to spice up your reading and sharing books with your child :

Make a special routine
Routines build stability and motivation. Create a regular and special time – it shows your child how important this is to you. Turn off the phone, settle into your favourite spot, put on a storytelling light. Mark this as a very special time for a very special person.

Make it purposeful
Purposeful reading engages children. Have Reading Evenings during which children read aloud to an audience of family and friends. Choosing what to read and who reads which bits involve children in browsing, thinking and talking about books. Rehearsing motivates children to read expressively and accurately – especially if you perform too. Record or videotape them reading (or sharing reading with you) as a gift for relatives or friends far away.

Let your child lead
It’s not as important to finish reading the book as to enjoy it together. Children, especially those not reading yet, often get drawn into talking about the pictures rather than moving on with the story. And why not? Enjoy exploring the book together. If your child’s book experiences are positive and fun, she’ll want more. As she develops interest in the idea of a story, she’ll naturally want to get through the whole book.

Talk about the story and pictures
If you just read the words, you miss a wealth of information and enrichment. The wonderful illustrations in children’s literature stimulate observation, thinking and imagination. Encourage conversations about pictures. When you read stories, stop and predict what’s going to happen next. This engages your child directly in the story, as well as stimulates sequencing and inferential thinking.

Using repetitions and alternating reading
Use books with repetitive words, phrases and sentences. Young children pick up repetitions easily and gain confidence when they can ‘read’. When you come to the repeated word or phrase, stop and let your child say it with you, or by herself. Children love this game of joining in and feel very accomplished in helping you read. Even more motivating and empowering is helping you read to a younger sibling.

Reading aloud alternately is great for children who can read independently, but may not have the concentration to finish an entire story – natural enough when you’re little! (This is also when many get turned off books.) Sharing reading helps maintain their motivation until they build up concentration.

Take turns to read alternate pages or sentences, or even (this is hard!) words. In fact once your child gets the idea, she’ll make her own choices: “I’ll read the action words”, or “words with a ‘c’ in them”, or “the lines said by this character”.

Some stories have words with sound effects and children love to read these with great effect! The aim is a seamless reading, so each must be ready to come in without losing his/her place. The bonus is this builds concentration as well as eye coordination or tracking skills, which support reading competence.

There is no substitute for reading aloud. It takes such a little time but it gives your child so much. Best of all, you also build a strong bond of shared experiences and ideas. Your child is not just a reader but a friend, for life.




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See you in the next issue. :-)

All the best,
Charis-Jo
http://www.parentingtoddlers.com

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