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Monday, April 17, 2017

How to Combat your Child's Defiance

A defiant child is often viewed as a "problem child", when really all they are is misunderstood and doing what they naturally want to do. As a child, kids naturally want to explore, climb, move, seek attention, get involved, and constantly stay in motion until they drop from exhaustion. Realizing this is always helpful when trying to combat your child's defiance towards you and others. Your child is curious about everything, so why should you raise your voice when they climb the chair to touch the thermostat? This is among many of the tips that will be shared below for how to recognize and combat your child's defiance.

Before the tips are given, we should talk about what exactly defiance is and how you can recognize it in your child. Defiance is seen as any behavior where the child is boldly disobedient. This can be recognized as a number of behaviors:
• temper tantrums
• blaming of others for their own mistakes
• argumentative
• aggressive behavior
• consistently negative
• easily frustrated
• has few friends
• lack of respect for adults and authoritative figures

If your child has some of these traits, don't worry. Many of these traits are normal and expected for certain ages. The difference is, you may have a defiant child if these behaviors are constant, last for more than 6 months, and are excessive or abnormal for behaviors of children their age.

Combating your child's behavior comes with experience. If you know your child is defiant, you may feel useless, discouraged, and frankly exhausted. It is so tiring having to constantly argue with your child for every little detail of your daily routine. Don't fret; you will slowly learn what works with your child as you go off this list. If something isn't working, try a new strategy or a new reward or a new form of discipline. Something will work, it's just the working down the list that is exhausting at times. 

Now, a few ideas:

• Stick to your guns: This is probably one of our most important tips and one that we strive for parents to understand. Imagine if your boss says that you can't wear jeans to work or else you'll get a write-up. Then the next day you wear jeans to work and you don't get a write-up. You continue to wear jeans for two weeks and then your boss fires you. Obviously you'd be very confused and upset that you were able to wear jeans for two weeks and never got a write-up and then got fired on the spot. Now imagine this from a child's standpoint. If you say stop doing something or else they won't get dessert, they continue to do it and you give them dessert. That's super confusing. Now next time you warn them about a consequence, do you think they're going to take you seriously? No. Stick to your consequences. If you say you're going to do something, do it. If you say they won't be able to go out to eat that night for dinner, stay home and make them dinner. A child's mind is amazing and they understand these simple cues. They remember what you said an hour ago and they realize when a consequence wasn't given. As a parent, you are in charge, not them. 

• Reward good behavior: This is something that has worked well with some friends at school. Recognizing positive behavior is a way for the child to realize what they are supposed to be doing and how they can get positive attention for it rather than constantly get negative attention about things that they shouldn't be doing. If you're only giving your child the over-the-top attention when they are doing something negative, they'll continue to do negative things so they can get attention. If you give them the positive over-the-top attention, they'll do good things to strive for attention. One thing that we usually do to help the child see this physically is a reward jar. When the child does something good, they get a marble. They can never get these marbles taken away if they do something bad, so they're always getting the positive reward which means positive attention seeking children.

• Keep calm: Nothing good is ever said when you're angry. As frustrating as your child can be, never get out of control as that will only increase your child's want to be defiant. If you don't think you can think clearly in a situation, you are always allowed a moment. Tell your child, "we will discuss this in a few minutes," and walk away. Remove yourself from the situation so you can think about what happened and how you can best approach it. 

• Allow them choices: A defiant child always wants to be in control or in charge. One way to allow them that without getting out of control is giving them choices that you choose. For example, instead of telling them "it's time for bed," say "would you like to go to bed now or read a book first?" This way the decision is on them and they feel in control rather than feeling like they are being told what to do.  

• Explain rules + expectations: As parents, things can be hectic. The "because I said so" rule gets thrown around more often than you'd like just because it's quicker. When in reality, to a defiant child, they won't settle for that explanation. It's best for them to know what the rules are, what happens if they break the rules, and what your expectations are of them. If they don't know these rules and such before they get in trouble, they'll be confused and even more defiant than before. If you thoroughly explain the rules and your expectations of them prior to them breaking that rule, they will understand better and feel that they are in control of their own consequences. 

• Pick your battles: With a defiant child, it's easier to pick your battles sometimes. If your child says it's Saturday when it's really Thursday, there's no reason to argue. Just say okay and be done with it. It saves them the anger of arguing and getting upset and you the exhaustion from arguing with your child. That's a simple example, but as long as something isn't hurtful, it may save you all some time and energy just picking what's important to get upset about. 

• Ignore non-aggressive behaviors: Sometimes all a child wants is attention, and they'll use negative behavior to get there. If your child is doing something that isn't hurtful to them, others, or the environment, try your best to ignore it. For example, a child is making a sound that they know is bothersome to some people but they continue to do it. It's not hurting anyone, so just leave it be. Wait until they do something positive and then talk to them. If you ignore the negative behaviors that aren't hurtful, they'll eventually get tired of it and stop. Obviously, address those behaviors that hurt themselves, others, or the environment because something like that is never okay to do. 

• Humor: Humor can be used to save your child from a defiant outbreak or you from losing your wits when dealing with your defiant child. For example, your child gets mad about something, goes to kick a chair, misses and falls on his bum. You look at each other and begin laughing. This breaks the tension and helps your child forget about what he was so mad about in the first place. Humor can also help you in situations, where for example your child could say something absurd in the middle of a tantrum. You walk away, realizing their silly thing they said, and laugh to yourself privately. This gives you a small break from the craziness and anger that your child is protruding towards you, and lets you take a step back and see things from an outsider's prospective. One thing to keep in mind though is to never laugh at your child, always laugh with them. 

• Validate their feelings: This is something that works with all children and is a great idea for all ages. When your child is upset or sad or angry, tell them that you see that. Say, "I see that you are angry. Tell me why so I can understand and help you." This allows your child to see that you can tell what's going on in their head and you're ready to listen. They need to know that you're on their side before they open up positively towards you.

• Affection: Hugs are one of the most powerful and easiest ways to stop a tantrum in its place. There have been so many times where we have had children in the middle of a screaming fit, and we say, "do you need a hug?" and they nod, quit the screaming, and give us a hug. It's so much easier to talk to them once they're calm and they feel safe rather than trying to coerce them into listening while they're in the middle of screaming. If they continue to scream or use mean words, just hold them and say, "I'm hugging you because I love you and want you to feel safe." All they may need is affection to calm them down.

• Safe environment: I'm sure you're tired of saying "Don't touch that" or "Put that down." Instead, create the environment where they can touch and pick up anything around them. This may be annoying or silly to you, but creating the space where they can be a kid without someone constantly nitpicking at them gives them the freedom to be curious and satisfy that curiosity. This goes for if your child needs to move more. Create that environment where they can run and climb and move their body so they don't feel the need for an outbreak.

These are just some ideas on how to handle a defiant child. Even if your child isn't defiant, these are all great ideas for any child for you to build the best relationship with them. There's definitely more information than what I've given, so do your research. There's no reason for you to be stressed out and not knowing what to do. Do your research and get knowledgable about your child and what works best for them. And if you ever have any questions or need some assistance, we're always here. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

POTM: Holidays & Birthdays

The following is taken directly from our handbook. Let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Jellybean Daycare & Preschool takes time to celebrate all of our children and the days they celebrate. For birthdays, parents are welcome to bring in a snack/birthday treat to share (please be aware of your class allergies). We do not allow treats such as cookies, cupcakes, or cakes. We encourage parents to bring healthier or non-food items. If you would like some ideas for alternative items to bring in, we have a list that we can send you. As for holidays, we celebrate all holidays that our children celebrate. If you are celebrating something at home we would love to learn more about it and your culture and celebrate it here too. Let us know when you enroll so we can be sure to include it in our plans. All the things that we celebrate will be posted on our calendar so you know what we are doing. We believe that the more culture that children are exposed to the more enriched their lives will be.