Parenting Lesson 28 - Shaping your child's behaviour for tomorrow part I

Topics covered in this lesson-

  1. What's the difference between normal activity and hyperactivity?

  2. How can I help my child get along with other kids?

  3. Should I get involved if my children are quarrelling?

  4. How do we stop bullying (or survive it)?

  5. What are the signs of stress in children?

  6. What are some ways to deal with aggressive behavior?

What's the difference between normal activity and hyperactivity?

Kids are naturally active and inquisitive – some more so than others. I wouldn’t consider that a cause for concern. This could just be a normal part of your child’s development or personality. But if teachers or others are gently trying to tell you that there are problems with your child’s behavior, or if other issues are present, it’s worth taking a closer look.

One of the main differences between a normally active child and one with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD, is that the disorder really interferes with a child’s ability to function and get along well in school and social situations.

To determine whether or not a child has the disorder, a doctor will examine a long list of behaviors, not just a couple. ADHD may be suspected when many of these behaviors occur often, not just occasionally, and when they are considered inappropriate for the child’s developmental level.

How can I help my child get along with other kids?

You can cut down on violence toward other children by appealing to your child's growing sociability. Your three-year-old wants to get along with others, to make friends, have fun, and learn with other children. The importance of maintaining friendships with other children should increase your child's willingness to accept suggested solutions to conflict.

If you have given your toddler ample opportunity to play alongside other children, as a preschooler she may shift over to playing with them relatively easily. But even if your child has had little experience playing next to other children, she will almost definitely become interested in playing with others and forming friendships at this age.

Even if your child has had lots of playdates in the past, but especially if she hasn't, she may have some trouble getting along with others. Indeed, until your child appreciates the benefits of playing with others, she will probably put little effort into adopting prosocial behavior.

Should I get involved if my children are quarrelling?

Parents want their children to love each other, and they find it hard to see their children quarrel. Yet sibling rivalry can be positive - sibling relationships provide opportunities for children to stand up for themselves, compromise and get along with others.

Sibling rivalry is a normal part of life in families with more than one child. Brothers and sisters do fight, but parents don't have to stay and listen to them! Kids should be allowed to work out their problems on their own, and parents should intervene only if the battles get physically or verbally abusive.

You can establish rules for getting along with others, such as no name calling, hitting or teasing. You can set an example through their own behavior but should remember that it's normal for siblings to fight.

The way you respond when your kids argue influences the way the kids will behave toward each other.

How do we stop bullying (or survive it)?

Bullying is a particular problem with adolescents and pre-adolescents. Unfortunately, bullies can cause lasting psychological and physical damage to other kids. Because youth typically do not bully others in front of adults, teachers and parents are often unaware of bullying. As a result, they rarely step in to stop bullies or to help children cope with being bullied.

Here are some actions to take if you suspect your teen is being bullied, or to help him or her avoid being bullied:

● Ask questions. Ask how he or she is spending lunch break and time before and after school. Ask what it’s like riding the bus or walking to school. Ask if there are peers who are bullies without asking whether your teen is being bullied.

● Listen to your teen’s reports of being bullied and take them seriously. Encourage speaking out.

● Report all incidents to school authorities. Keep a written record of who was injured and how, and those you reported it to.

● Teach your teen how to avoid the situations that expose him or her to bullying. Direct your teen toward experiences tailored to improve his or her social skills.

● Teach your teen how to respond to aggression. With bullies, they should be assertive and leave the scene without violence. Role-play with your teen how to react and respond in non-aggressive ways.

● Do not tell youth to strike back. This gives the message that the only way to fight violence is by using more violence. It also makes them feel that parents and teachers don’t care enough to help.

● Avoid watching violent games, TV shows, and movies as much as possible.

What are the signs of stress in children?

Stress can affect anyone who feels overwhelmed — even kids. In preschoolers, separation from parents can cause anxiety. As kids get older, academic and social pressures (especially from trying to fit in) create stress.

Many kids are too busy to have time to play creatively or relax after school. Kids who complain about all their activities or who refuse to go to them might be overscheduled. Talk with your kids about how they feel about extracurricular activities. If they complain, discuss the pros and cons of stopping one activity. If stopping isn't an option, explore ways to help manage your child's time and responsibilities to lessen the anxiety.

While it's not always easy to recognize when kids are stressed out, short-term behavioral changes — such as mood swings, acting out, changes in sleep patterns, or bedwetting — can be indications. Some kids have physical effects, including stomachaches and headaches. Others have trouble concentrating or completing schoolwork. Still others become withdrawn or spend a lot of time alone.

Younger children may pick up new habits like thumb sucking, hair twirling, or nose picking; older kids may begin to lie, bully, or defy authority. A child who is stressed also may overreact to minor problems, have nightmares, become clingy, or have drastic changes in academic performance.

What are some ways to deal with aggressive behavior?

This is just a normal phase. It is upsetting if your preschooler hits, bites, or kicks, but it's likely her behavior will improve in time. She's just got a little growing up to do.

You can help her along by being aware of what's likely to trigger her anger. Your child's more likely to act aggressively when she's tired, or when she's feeling hungry, thirsty, or generally out of sorts. For example, you may notice that she’s grumpy and prone to lash out at the end of a long afternoon of shopping, or just before lunch.

Make sure your child gets food when she's hungry and rest when she's tired. If possible, you may also want to avoid times and places where you know she's likely to have trouble staying calm.

Aggression may also happen if your preschooler feels overwhelmed or frustrated, or when she’s in an unfamiliar situation, such as starting nursery. She may act aggressively if she can't find the words to express the strong feelings she's having.