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Child Prodigy Blog

When Mom has a temper tantrum

05/01/2020 12:00:00


            When Mom Has a Temper Tantrum

By Melanie Howard

Each month, my five-year-old son's kindergarten class compiles a "book of days," in which the children share their daily home experiences with one another. The next month, the book gets circulated to all the parents. Imagine my chagrin when James brought last month's book home, and there—between "Mollie and her mom made brownies" and "Jeremy helped his dad take out the trash"—was "James's mom was angry with him this morning." My temper, in writing, laminated and distributed for all the world to see.

Worse yet, I realized that almost all our recent mornings had degenerated into Mommy screamathons over seemingly minor matters—dawdling, misplaced gloves, sibling bickering. I felt terrible, and obviously James did, too. How could we break this angry pattern?

"Yelling is usually a sign that a parent has no strategy," says Thomas Phelan, a clinical psychologist in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and the author of the popular 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 (Child Management, Inc.). At a loss for what to do, moms may resort to yelling out of anger or frustration. But the end result is that parents feel guilty and children get the emotional message that they are bad.

It's because we love our children so dearly that they are able to provoke such strong feelings of anger in us, according to Nancy Samalin, a New York City–based parent educator and the author of Love and Anger: The Parental Dilemma (Penguin Paperbacks). But that doesn't make expressing that anger through hollering or put-downs appropriate—or effective. Samalin, who has conducted workshops for parents of toddlers through teens for more than 25 years, says the key is to feel and acknowledge your emotions but not let them control you and make you act irrationally.

Samalin and Phelan recommend drawing on these following strategies when your kids are driving you up the wall:

  • Exit or wait. When you feel your anger getting the better of you, briefly withdraw from the situation until you calm down, Samalin writes in Love and Anger. Phelan agrees: He suggests stepping out of the room, counting to ten, going to your bedroom, and closing the door—whatever it takes to restore your cool.
  • "I," not "you." Avoid attacking your child with "you" statements—"You are such a slob!" or "You'll never learn." Instead, think in terms of "I": "I don't like picking clothes up off your floor every day" or "I get upset when we're not on time." These are less hurtful and inflammatory.
  • Put it in writing. If you are too angry to speak, don't. If your child is old enough to read, express your feelings in writing. Sometimes just the time required to find pen and paper will help you to cool off.
  • Stay in the present. When your child makes you angry, don't work yourself into a tizzy by listing every offense he has committed in the past week and is likely to commit in the future. Stick to the issue at hand.
  • Restore good feelings. When you do lose it, reconnect with your child as soon as possible. That may mean saying you're sorry and giving a hug and kiss to a younger child. For an older child, you may want to offer an explanation of why you were angry along with an apology. Don't worry that apologizing will diminish your authority—it won't. It shows your child that you respect him and teaches him that everyone can be wrong sometimes.
  • Recognize what the problem is. Is it really your child's messy room? Or are you sleep-deprived? Feeling overwhelmed at work? Mad at your husband or mother or boss? Be aware of when you are more vulnerable to anger and resist the urge to transfer negative feelings to your child.
  • Make yourself—and all family members—accountable for lashing out. Institute a "no losing it" rule to make kids and parents aware of the times they go ballistic. But do it with a light touch. For instance, make a chart and tack on a sticker when one of you has an outburst. If one family member is accumulating a lot of stickers, it's time to talk about it.
  • Carry a tape recorder. When you feel yourself about to blow, turn it on. If you explode anyway, play back the tape and imagine yourself as the child on the receiving end.
  • Use cognitive therapy. This technique is sometimes used to calm fearful fliers. Analyze your thoughts and put them in perspective—or, as Phelan puts it, "deawfulize" the situation. (Fliers learn that their fear is of crashing, not flying. And since crashing is unlikely, their fear is not reasonable.) Ask yourself—when your children are fighting, say—if it's really that horrible. Think of the situation as aggravating but normal behavior that merits a calm, rational parental response.

Melanie Howard is a writer and a mother of two. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

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The Best Indoor Games for Quarantined Kids and Families

04/02/2020 12:00:00


Need to tire out the kids so you can get some work done? We've got you covered.


By Fatherly Mar 11 2020, 5:34 chief among the many threats posed by the novel coronavirus COVID-19 now sweeping the nation like a 2010 Justin Bieber bop is that of prolonged exposure, specifically to children. As working parents become working-from-home parents, and schools prepare to evacuate themselves forcefully, a considerable number of caregivers are wondering what life will look like under quarantine. The answer? Probably like one of those Family Circus cartoons where Bobby bounces off the walls and furniture and off-puttingly evangelical overtones.


All the $10-dollar, black market double-ply won’t absorb that kind of energy. What is needed cannot be looted from the grocery or hoarded via Amazon Prime. What is needed is a distraction. Fortunately, distractions are free.


For young children, the best distractions are invariably games and the best games are invariably lightly structured exercises in channeling aggression, creativity, or metabolized carbohydrates. The key for parents is having a portfolio of game options that don’t represent massive time or resource commitments. Simple games serve a simple purpose: They kill time. Amid the discussion or mortality rates and viral mutation, the only desirous death is the death of five-minute increments. Here’s how to murder them en masse.


What To Do With Quarantined Kids


The Copycat Game


Think of this as a ‘no-losers’ version of “Follow the Leader” designed to improve toddlers’ motor skills while wearing them out.


Prep Time: 5 minutes


Realistic Time It Will Entertain a Child: 15-20 minutes


How to Set Up: Setup is as simple as clearing out a section of a room so everyone can move freely about and/or explore the studio space ⏤ around 10 square feet should do. Carpeted or grassy surfaces work best, especially if you plan on going crazy and doing movements that require rolling around on the ground. If you use objects like chairs, set yours directly across from your child’s, leaving at least three feet between.


How to Play: As the name suggests, all you’re doing is engaging in an activity or motion, literally anything, and trying to get your little one to follow along. To get things started, I throw out a challenge: “Do you want to play ‘The Copycat Game’? I bet you can’t do what daddy does ….”Start with simple movements ⏤ marching, touching your toes, etc. ⏤ and work your way up to more complex gestures. Then do jumping jacks and push-ups. That’s healthy for everyone. Depending on the age of the child, you can also take turns being the leader.




Chair Hat Toss


Think of this as an indoor version of horseshoes. As simple as it is, though, it’s remarkably entertaining past-time that teaches kids to throw.


Prep Time: 1 Minute


Realistic Time It Will Entertain a Child: 10-15 minutes


How to Set Up: Turn over a kitchen chair so that its legs stick up. Find a hat — baseball is best but winter and cowboy work.


How To Play: Try to throw the hat onto the legs of the chair. That’s it. Want to complicate it a bit? Give each leg a point value. Now we’re learning about counting (but mostly just throwing a hat around). If kids are super into it, have them make DIY rings out of rope or cardboard.




Balloon Tennis


Think of this as a way to play organized sports without taking the time to actually organize yourself or your home in any meaningful way.


Prep Time: 5 minutes


Realistic Time It Will Entertain a Child: 30-60 minutes


How To Set Up: Get two chairs and prop them up roughly 10 feet apart. Tie a strong between them. Inflate a balloon. Hand out fly swatters.


How To Play: It’s tennis. The only real difference is that there needs to be a clear rule about how many times a player is allowed to hit the balloon while it’s on his or her side of the net. Two works for coordinated kids, but three is probably the best bet. If kids are struggling, a game of family doubles will do the trick. Also, tennis scoring makes absolutely no sense so skip it.




The Spider Game


Think of this as a way to chase kids without actually, you know, standing up. It’s basically a classic “cat and mouse” game except that the cat is very tired and doesn’t want to move — in other words, a realistic cat and mouse game. . It’s designed to help you tire out kids who have a lot of extra energy without moving from a seated position.


Prep Time: None


Realistic Time It Will Entertain a Child: 20 minutes


How To Set Up: Find a blanket, ideally something sized for a crib or a stroller. Kitchen napkins or even rags work as well.


How to Play: The player who is designated as the “Spider” (that’s you) holds the blanket like a toreador. The other player (that’s the child) runs in a designated path around the Spider who tries to catch them by throwing the blanket, their “spider silk.” If it touches the child, they are considered caught and the game begins again. For kids, this is a game of boundary testing. Miss a few times and they’ll start moving closer. That’s when you get ‘em.




The Pillow Game


Think of this as a fun after-bath game that expands creatively on the concept of charades while also getting the kid dry.


Prep Time: 0


Realistic Time It Will Entertain a Child: 3 minutes (a bit longer if you’re good)


How To Set Up: Wrap your child in a towel. Have them lay on their stomach and put your head (gently) on their back.


How To Play: After a fleeting moment of peace, your “pillow” will likely start to move. At this point, you will wonder aloud why the pillow is wiggling and ask what it might be if it’s not a pillow. From there, the kid has to act like an animal stuck in a towel, while you guess what they are by feel. (Safety note: You’re gonna get bonked if you don’t secure their arms.)




The Camouflage Game


Think of this as hide-and-go-seek for indoor kids or kick the can family edition. This is not ideal for those living in small apartments but is otherwise well suited to multi-child families.


Prep Time: None


Realistic Time It Will Entertain a Child: Forever, which is a curse in its own way.


How To Set Up: Designate a “Counting Zone.” Stand in it.


How to Play: Count down from 20 out loud while the other players run off and hide within eyeshot. When you hit zero try to find the hidden players without moving and call them out. If you can’t find all of them, call “15!” and put your hands out. The hidden players must run-up, high five you, then squirrel themselves away again. Repeat for 10 and 5 until everyone is found. Don’t play around furniture with sharp edges.


A Silent Tragedy By Dr Luis Rojas

03/02/2020 12:00:00

A SILENT TRAGEDY written by Dr. Luis Rojas Marcos There is a silent tragedy that is unfolding today in our homes and concerns our most precious jewels: our children. Our children are in a devastating emotional state! In the last 15 years, researchers have given us increasingly alarming statistics on a sharp and steady increase in childhood mental illness that is now reaching epidemic proportions: Statistics do not lie:  1 in 5 children have mental health problems  A 43% increase in diagnosed ADHD  A 37% increase in adolescent depression has been noted  There has been a 200% increase in the suicide rate in children aged 10 to 14 What is happening and what are we doing wrong? Today's children are being over-stimulated and over-gifted with material objects, but they are deprived of the fundamentals of a healthy childhood, such as:  Emotionally available parents  Clearly defined limits  Responsibilities  Balanced nutrition and adequate sleep  Movement in general but especially outdoors  Creative play, social interaction, unstructured game opportunities and boredom spaces Instead, in recent years, children have been filled with:  Digitally distracted parents  Indulgent and permissive parents who let children "rule the world" and whoever sets the rules  A sense of right, of deserving everything without earning it or being responsible for obtaining it  Inadequate sleep and unbalanced nutrition  A sedentary lifestyle  Endless stimulation, technological nannies, instant gratification and absence of boring moments What to do? If we want our children to be happy and healthy individuals, we have to wake up and get back to basics. It is still possible! Many families see immediate improvements after weeks of implementing the following recommendations:  Set limits and remember that you are the captain of the ship. Your children will feel more confident knowing that you have control of the helm.  Offer children a balanced lifestyle full of what children NEED, not just what they WANT. Don't be afraid to say "no" to your children if what they want is not what they need.  Provide nutritious food and limit junk food.  Spend at least one hour a day outdoors doing activities such as cycling, walking, fishing, bird/insect watching.  Enjoy a daily family dinner without smartphones or distracting technology, let everyone feel valued.  Play board games as a family or if children are very small for board games, just let the pretend to play it.  Involve your children in some homework or household chores according to their age (folding clothes, hanging clothes, unpacking food, setting the table, feeding the dog, etc.)  Implement a consistent sleep routine to ensure your child gets enough sleep. The schedules will be even more important for school-age children.  Teach responsibility and independence. Do not overprotect them against all frustration or mistakes. Misunderstanding will help them build resilience and learn to overcome life's challenges.  Do not carry your children's backpack, do not carry the homework they forgot, do not peel bananas or peel oranges if they can do it on their own (4-5 years). Instead of giving them the fish, teach them to fish.  Teach them to wait and delay gratification.  Provide opportunities for "boredom", since boredom is the moment when creativity awakens. Do not feel responsible for always keeping children entertained.  Do not use technology as a cure for boredom, nor offer it at the first second of inactivity.  Avoid using technology during meals, in cars, restaurants, shopping centres. Use these moments as opportunities to socialize by training the brains to know how to work when they are in mode: "boredom".  Help them create a "bottle of boredom" with activity ideas for when they are bored. Be emotionally available to connect with children and teach them self-regulation and social skills:  Turn off the phones at night when children have to go to bed to avoid digital distractions.  Become a regulator or emotional trainer for your children. Teach them to recognize and manage their own frustrations and anger.  Teach them to greet, to take turns, to share without running out of anything, to say thank you and please, to acknowledge the error and apologize (do not force them), be a model of all those values you instil.  Connect emotionally - smile, hug, kiss, tickle, read, dance, jump, play or crawl with them.

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