Communication

Why telling your child to "have fun" is counterproductive

child-black-and-white-.jpg

Each day as we say goodbye to our children many of us impart our wish for them to have fun.

"Have fun" we say, each and every day. We do this because we want the best for our children and we want them to enjoy the things they do. However if you think about it, it's just not possible to have fun every day. And even if it were, is it really what you want for your children?

Creating the expectation that each day, each activity will be fun-filled sets the child up for failure and disappointment. 

Returning home, their experiences are then examined against the harsh, unrealistic measure of the fun scale. "Did you have fun?"

If children are taught to expect each and every experience to be fun they are going to encounter a great deal of disappointment and distress. 

Is that really how you want to teach your child to measure the worth of an activity? To teach them that fun (every day) is what we aim for, that's our main goal? 

What will happen if your child begins to reject anything or everything that's not fun to learn?

A lot of necessary skills and enjoyable activities take effort and perseverance to learn, they are not and can not be fun every step of the way.

Sending your little one off with the expectation of having fun every day puts everyone under so much pressure, the child cannot help but fail and by failing will often feel as though they are disappointing the parent who so clearly wants them to have fun. 

What can we do instead?

Surely there are many meaningful ways to measure the worth of our experiences? 

Using instead the phrase "have a good day" is very different to "have fun. A good day can be (and very often is) one where you achieve something worthwhile, you master a new skill, you persevere and make progress, you overcome a difficulty - it may not have been fun but it was satisfying and rewarding. 

When our children return home at the end of the day we could say something like, "Hi, it's great to see you, how are you?" and leave it to them to report their day as they wish (often you will find out much more by waiting than you will by grilling them).

"How was your day?" is far more open-ended than "how was your day, did you have fun?" which automatically tells the child what the parent wants to hear.

If you ask, 'how was your day?' please be prepared to accept, OK, all right, boring, horrible or good or any other words the child chooses to describe their day.

 Very often if you accept the child's answer, reflect it back and wait, children will begin to spontaneously talk about their experiences in their own way, in their own time. If no additional information is offered up it's a great idea if you offer some of your own, talking about your day. This then becomes a conversation rather than an interrogation.

Conversations, where we are free to discuss our experiences and our feelings, are the basis of a great relationship.

One more thing, do you know about the Free Taster? 

An introductory session, absolutely free.

No obligation, nothing to lose and potentially much to gain.

Click here for more details and booking link.

 

One simple way to get kids to do what you ask

bath-1677843_640.jpg

For safety reason it’s important children can do what their parents ask when they ask.

So what should parents do when they ignore them or does the opposite to what is asked?

Is there really an effective way to get kids to do what they’re asked?

There is, the key is to use natural consequences. Not punishment, not anger, not nagging but natural consequences.

"Isn't that just another (nicer)way of saying punishment? What's the difference?"

"If you don't pack up your toys there will be no swimming tomorrow" is a punishment and not a natural consequence as the packing up of the toys has nothing at all to do with swimming.

A natural consequence looks like this: 

I will use the bath example I often use as it explains this approach so clearly and parents can use the principle in many different situations.

Here's the scene: It's bath-time, parents have been concerned about the child standing up and jumping about in the bath and have now decided that when in the bath the child must sit.

How then to implement this using a natural consequences approach?

When getting your child ready for the bath state clearly that when in the bath the child must sit. 

Once that direction has been given what happens if they continue to stand?

Using natural consequences the child if not sitting, gets out. 

So let's look in a little more detail as to how a natural consequence might work in this practical example.

Before the child gets into the bath you explain that they must sit. For example, "sweetheart when you get into the bath you must sit down (as it's slippery and therefore dangerous...)" make eye contact and touch the child gently ensuring that you are connecting and engaging with the child.

Put the child into the bath and if they are standing wait a few moments and then say " remember what I said about sitting down?  Would you like me to help you sit down or can you sit down all by yourself?"

Again wait a moment for the child to respond, if nothing happens ask , "have you decided to get out now?" If they continue to stand remove them from the bath. Do it gently and kindly.

Here is where tone is really, really important, do not admonish the child, merely acknowledge their decision. "OK you decided to have a very short bath tonight so let's get you dried and dressed in your pyjamas so we can choose a story (or whatever is the routine)"

The child is not being punished,the parent is accepting the child’s decision to get out. The parent’s decision is that the children may not stand in the bath.

If your little one screams and wants to get back into the bath you can on night one or two as they are learning the new routine pleasantly say something like ..."Oh you would like to sit down in the bath, let's try that shall we?"  This only applies on night one and two (at most).

On subsequent nights do not give a 'chance' as this will just become the established routine just say pleasantly "oh bath time is finished tonight,  you can decide tomorrow if you want to sit and play in the bath"… then move on quickly to the next part of your evening routine. 

Don't go on about it, don't explain it all over again, move on - all the while keeping a light pleasant tone.

The next evening start anew, simply state "sweetheart remember what we talked about, when you get into the bath you must sit down (as it's slippery and therefore dangerous...)" again make eye contact and touch the child gently. No reference to not sitting or consequences. Again you can say something like 'shall I help you sit down or can you sit all  by yourself?" Wait a moment for the child to comply. If the child continues to stand again take them out and move on, just remarking gently that you see they've chosen to have a very short bath.

No repeated warnings, no threats or admonishment just respect for the choice the child makes within the clear boundaries you have provided.

Once you state clearly that when in the bath the child must sit, the natural consequence is that the child if not sitting, gets out.

The same principle applies to many many situations, sitting on the swing, getting into bed for story-time, sitting at the table while eating, sitting during story-time at the library, washing hands before eating, wearing a sunhat to play outside.

It's really important that once you have decided that something is (or is not) to be done that you follow through.

If you don't mean it, don't say it, if you do mean it follow through.

Following through is the secret to getting a child to do what you ask.  When you follow through with natural consequences, delivered lovingly, your child will know you mean what you say.

Using natural consequences increases your credibility and emphasises your trustworthiness (the child can trust you mean what you say) and who doesn't want that! 

Holidays - your golden opportunity to evaluate family life

If you dread school holidays, thinking there will be more pain than pleasure, then it's time to have a long hard look at your family life.

If things in your family are not as you'd like them to be, what's going wrong?

If you could transform your family dynamics into what you'd like them to be, what would they look like?

It's likely you know how you'd like your family to function but not why it doesn't, or how to change it.

If you are ready to make some changes I would love to guide and support you through a process of evaluation. Neutral eyes always see more clearly.

Together we can work through the available options and choose the path that's right for your family.  

I can then support you for as long as you choose.

Contact me for a free chat about what you'd like to change and I'll explain the ways I can help you to reach more of your parenting goals. 

Natural consequences are not punishments

My approach to parenting encourages the use of natural consequences rather than punishment however sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between the two so here is an example of each.

"If you don't pack up your toys there will be no swimming tomorrow" is a punishment and not a consequence. 

A natural consequence looks like this: 

It's bath-time, you have been concerned about your child standing up and jumping about in the bath so have decided that when in the bath the child must sit.

How then to implement this using a natural consequences approach?

As you are getting your child ready for the bath state clearly that when in the bath the child must sit. 

Once that direction has been given what happens if they continue to stand?

Using natural consequences, the child if not sitting, gets out. 

So let's look in a little more details as to how a natural consequence might work in this practical example.

Before the child gets into the bath you explain that they must sit. For example, "sweetheart when you get into the bath you must sit down (as it's slippery and therefore dangerous...)" make eye contact and touch the child gently ensuring that you are connecting and engaging with the child.

Put the child into the bath and if they are standing wait a few moments and then say " remember what I said about sitting down?  Would you like me to help you sit down or can you sit down all by yourself?"

Again wait a moment for the child to respond, if nothing happens ask , "have you decided to get out now?" If they continue to stand remove them from the bath. Do it gently and kindly.

Here is where tone is really, really important, do not admonish your child, merely acknowledge their decision. "OK you decided to have a very short bath tonight so let's get you dried and dressed in your pyjamas so we can choose a story (or whatever is your routine)"

You are not punishing the child you are accepting their decision.

If the child screams and wants to get back into the bath you can on night one or two as they are learning the new routine pleasantly say something like ..."Oh you would like to sit down in the bath, let's try that shall we?"  This only applies on night one and two (at most).

On subsequent nights do not give a 'chance' as this will just become the established routine just say pleasantly "oh bath time is finished tonight,  you can decide tomorrow if you want to sit and play in the bath"… then move on quickly to the next part of your evening routine. 

Don't go on about it, don't explain it all over again, move on - all the while keeping a light pleasant tone.

The next evening start anew, simply state "sweetheart remember what we talked about, when you get into the bath you must sit down (as it's slippery and therefore dangerous...)" again make eye contact and touch the child gently. No reference to not sitting or consequences. Again you can say something like 'shall I help you sit down or can you sit all  by yourself?" Wait a moment for the child to comply. If the child continues to stand again take them out and move on, just remarking gently that you see they've chosen to have a very short bath.

No repeated warnings, no threats or admonishment just respect for the choice the child makes within the clear boundaries you have provided.

Once you state clearly that to be in the bath the child must sit, the natural consequence is that the child if not sitting, gets out.

3 simple steps to calm your frustrated child

 Photo by Harald Groven on Flikr

Photo by Harald Groven on Flikr

"Help me to do it myself"

is often used as a slogan in Montessori centres, because it's the plea of young children everywhere.

The child, through their actions, tells us over and over they want to do things for themselves and that they experience enormous frustration when they are restricted in their efforts. 

Where do we start to help our young children to do things themselves? It's not always practical is it?

So how can we minimise their frustrations and help them on their journey toward independence and help ourselves too?

Well let's get started:

First: 

Create a work-space specifically designed to meet the needs of your young child.

  • Ensure there is enough child-height open shelving and comfortable child-sized table and chairs.

Then we begin the process:

  • Clear out the clutter - be ruthless

  • Remove everything that's broken or incomplete

  • Evaluate what's left, too easy? too hard? Remove and store

  • Find trays/containers/baskets for each item on the shelf

  • Make sure each activity is complete and the tools (such as scissors) are efficient and the correct size for the child to use

Now you are ready to create some activities. I'll start by giving a few examples of activities that provide your child with the opportunity to develop, refine and enjoy the skills of everyday life. :

  • Make practise examples of the things your child is trying to master such as spooning, pouring (dry or liquid depending on age/ motor development), cutting a banana, putting on their shoes or brushing hair

  • Think carefully about the skills of the child and ensure the activities are within the child's capabilities.

  • To maximise the child's chance of success each new skill or activity is introduced by first showing the child how to do it (sit beside the child not opposite them) and where to replace it.

  • Store the new activity on a shelf easily accessible to the child so they can choose and use this activity at a time of their choosing and repeat it as often as they wish.

You can replicate this approach with almost any activity/toy.

Making changes to be a better parent is not easy, but it's much easier with support.

Become an even better parent

The warm days of Summer are coming to an end and most of us are firmly back in our daily routines.

Often, during a break we get time to think about our lives and the changes we wish to make yet when the break is over and we once again face the day to day reality it's so easy to slip back into old patterns and we realise change isn't always easy.

Having a clear goal, a practical plan and appropriate ongoing support greatly increases the chances of success.

If you would like to make some changes, I can help you.

I have more than 30 years of experience working with young children and their families, experience assisting parents create and implement practical plans to achieve their parenting goals, helping good parents become even better. 

I can help you too.

Paulene Richardson

Lay good strong foundations early

Montessori, building strong foundations

Foundations need to be strong to be effective and long lasting.

 Right from the earliest interactions with their baby parents begin to create the the framework on which the on-going development of the child is built.

  • Have you established a  pattern of communication which is effective, open and honest?
  • Are you are really saying what you mean and can the child  understand clearly what is meant?
  • Does your child listen and respond well to your directions, if not, what might you do differently?
  • Are you, unknowingly, communicating a belief that the child cannot cope with disappointment or the belief that that they can, and will, overcome disappointment and adversity to become strong and resilient?

All of these topics are covered in practical detail in the presentation:

hand .jpg

Developing Resilience and Establishing Good Communication

This presentation is most suited for the parents and caregivers of children aged between (approximately) 18 months and five years.

If your organisation (or group of friends) would like to hear more on this important topic contact Paulene Richardson to arrange a presentation.

email: paulene@evenbetterparenting.com.au

mobile: 0403 226 733

Expressions of interest/queries can also be sent via this form.

Name *
Name