KEENER! Don’t jump on the couch. KEENER! No more playing with your food. KEENER! Stop making that loud screeching noise. How much time do you feel like you spend telling your children what they can’t do — and feeling frustrated yourself while doing so? For most of us, our natural reaction is to watch them, notice what they are doing, and then tell them they can’t do that. The undesired behavior stands out and we immediately tell them no, don’t, or stop. The first time we might be calm, but the more times we say “don’t,” the more annoyed we feel. But there is good news — I’ve found that by retraining myself, I can calmly present my kids with options for what they can do, which greatly reduces the undesired behavior.
There’s a Time and a Place for Everything
I taught in NYC for four years, teaching 5th grade special and general education students. My school was in Midtown East and I had an incredibly diverse group of kids — some 5th graders were still sucking their thumbs while others were ready to date. My hat goes off to middle school teachers.
I worked with incredible colleagues who helped me build my teaching foundation and became lifelong friends. One of our guidance counselors, Trisha, is a true blessing to the children she works with. I remember collaborating with her about a particularly challenging student who had a difficult home life and had much more “life experience” than any 10 year old should have. He had gotten in trouble for using inappropriate language at school and Trisha told him, “There is a time and place for everything.” Those words have stayed with me.
The teacher in me can’t help but evaluate the toys my kids spend their time playing with. I look for toys that serve multiple purposes such as developing motor skills, promoting social interaction, language development, etc. What are your kids into? Please share in the comments below.
January 20, 2019 Read More
*For a pre-verbal or newly verbal child, please see this post about expectations.
Expectation – a strong belief that something will happen or become the norm in the future.
Identify your expectations, model them, and step in when your kids need help meeting them. Set high expectations and watch your kids not just meet but exceed them independently.
While we should have higher expectations for a verbal child than for a child who is just learning to talk, we still should have reasonable expectations regarding a pre- or newly verbal child’s language and behavior. This is the time to build a strong behavioral foundation. As both a mom and a teacher, I have always found it easier to train from the beginning, even with the additional support required early on, than it is to retrain an older child down the road.
Being mindful about praise
I stopped writing this entry to take Keener to the bathroom and found myself saying “good job” unprompted. Why did I say it? I was truly proud of him for going to the bathroom. Although we started official potty training six months ago, it has only been a month since he consistently initiates using the bathroom. Since it is still a relatively new skill, I wanted to praise him because I was proud of him. I also want this behavior to continue.
Providing our kids with specific feedback
“Good job!” How many times per day do you find yourself saying that to your children? While writing this, I was especially focused on how many times I was saying it — oh my. I first realized I said this too much while teaching first grade. My students would show me their work and my response was generally “good job,” which really meant, “go sit down.” My principal, the mastermind behind the dead mouse story, has us currently focusing on student feedback, prompting me to think about feedback both in and out of the classroom.Read More