“As soon as…”

It is more motivating to tell a child they can do something more desirable, “as soon as” they do something you want them to do, rather than to tell them “not until.”  An example is to say to the child that you will read them a story as soon as he is under the covers, or that you have something for them to look at as soon as they are fastened into the carseat.

Key idea:  Stating a request or directive in a positive manner can increase motivation to comply.

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Tattling vs Telling

Most parents know to tell their children not to tattle.  It is not always clear what tattling is.  It can be helpful to explain that tattling is when the child reports something that doesn’t hurt them and doesn’t hurt the child doing the behavior.  An example of tattling is saying to a teacher that someone else said a “bad word” on the playground.

On the other hand, it is extremely important for children to learn when to tell a grown up.   A child should tell a grown up when the child needs help, or when they, or another child is in danger or needs help.  An example of telling is when a child tells a teacher that another child is talking to a stranger, or tells a parent that baby sister is touching an electrical outlet.

Key idea:  The more clearly parents explain instructions to children, the more likely the child will be successful in complying.

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Unconditional love

Love the child you have rather than wanting him, or her to be like a sibling, or like someone else’s child. Look for the best in your child.  When your child misbehaves, be sure to be clear that you love the child even when you really dislike the behavior.

Key idea:  Love the child you have.

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Competition vs Cooperation

Many children are naturally competitive or naturally cooperative.  It is part of in-born temperament.  Both characteristics are important and desirable.  Be sure to teach naturally competitive children when and how to be cooperative, and naturally cooperative children when and how to be competitive.

Key idea:  Children, and adults need to learn how to be both cooperative and competitive.

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Family Rules

1.  In our family we keep people, and other living things’,  bodies safe.

This means no hitting, pinching, pushing; anything that would hurt the body of ourselves, or another living being.

2.  In our family we we keep people’s feelings safe.

This rule means no name-calling, blaming, put-downs, blaming, shaming or sarcasm.

3.  In our family we use things the way they are supposed to be used.

This rule means means that we don’t throw books or baseball mitts.  We write and draw on paper rather than on walls and furniture.

4.  In our family children do what their grown up tells them to do.

Please note that the rule sates “their grown up” not “a grown up.”  “Their grown up” is their parent, always, their nanny, sitter or grandparent when their parent says so, and their teacher when at school.

It is more effective to tell children what you want rather than what you don’t want.  It is also more effective to tell children when you really want them to do something, and only ask them if they want to do something when they have a choice.

Key idea:  Having and posting these four family rules helps children remember what to do.  After they learn these rules, they can be reminded which rule they need to follow.  When they misbehave, they can be asked what rule they needed to remember.  When they are asked what rule they need to remember the desired behavior is reinforced rather than asking them what they did wrong, which reminds them of the unwanted behavior.

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“Is My Child Autistic, Gifted or Quirky?”

Olivia, at three, has memorized every dinosaur in the book which she is beginning to read, by the way. Eli dresses in a different costume every day of pre-school and will respond if you address him by whatever character he is that day. Lee plays endlessly with every clock he can get his hands on, and disassembles them if he can. Well-meaning friends and family ask concerned questions about Asperger’s and autism. Others assure you that your child must be gifted. When your child is with other children, your don’t know whether to be pleased or concerned. If your child is developing in an atypical pattern, ask yourself first if he or she seems happy most of the time. Does he or she get along well with other children, even if those children are a different age. If teachers or other professionals offer labels or diagnoses, politely ask if they have training in that area, or if they are speculating. If you are concerned, find a child development or psychology professional who has ben trained to recognize the nature of those differences. Ask them about their training, because they might not have training in recognizing the differences and similarities among autism, giftedness and, quirkiness. In case you are interested, Olivia grew up to be a gifted scientist. Eli is in graduate school in International Relations, and Lee is a materials engineer, and still pretty quirky.

Key Idea: Children are born with different temperaments and styles. If you are worried, consult a child development professional.

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The Yellow Lego Story

The Dad placed a yellow lego on top of the blue lego tower he and his son had just built, and announced it was a “searchlight.”. The pre-schooler wailed, “No, No, just blue.” What is a good parent to do? After all, why do we play with our children, other than to make them happy? Well, another reason we play with our children is to teach them how to play well with others. If the Dad removes the yellow lego, he has taught his son that he gets to control the play ideas of a playmate. Ideally the Dad might say, “I really like the idea of a searchlight. When you play with other people they get to have ideas too.” If the child persists in removing the “searchlight” and the Dad quietly says, “Okay, I guess you would like to play by yourself,”and leaves without reprimand, the child learns an important life lesson: playmates will go away if there is no room for their ideas.

Key Idea: Every misbehavior shows a parent what the child needs to learn.

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When children misbehave

When children misbehave they are showing you what they don’t know how to do, and what they need to learn. Their misbehavior is not because they are “bad” or “defiant” but rather an opportunity for you to teach them what they need to learn.

Key idea: Children show you what they need to learn, when they are ready to learn it.

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