Friday, November 15, 2013

The Doctor Comes to the Rescue

A young family has a very big problem.  Their 5, 3 and 1 year old children are very noisy.

Now stop laughing!  The situation is that they live in an upstairs apartment and the downstairs neighbors are complaining loudly and often – to the point where these folks are facing eviction.  And moving at this time is not an option.

The issue is similar to families where Mom or Dad works nights and needs to sleep in the daytime.  Or a family who has a frail relative living with them who requires quiet.

My suggestion requires some firm parental leadership that is conveyed through significant consequences.
This approach is one of John Rosemond’s most famous ideas – “the doctor”.  It will apply to the 3 and 5 year old; the 1 year old is too young.  But when the older kids quiet down, the little one may follow along too.

First of all, try to schedule as much outdoor time as you reasonably can.  Try to give your kids time at the park or in the yard and encourage all the running, jumping and noisy playtime you can.  It is harder as we move into the cold months, but do the absolute best you can.

Now later today at a reasonably calm moment, sit the kids down and have a brief conversation that goes something like this.  “I had a talk with your doctor today about how noisy you are in the house.  He told me that when kids can’t play quietly in the house, it is because they aren’t getting enough sleep.  So from now on, he told me to tell you once each day that playtime in the house needs to be quiet.  If even once you get too noisy, I will know that means you need more sleep.  So you will go to bed directly after supper that night.  I am sorry I didn’t know this before and am glad the doctor gave us some help!”

Be light hearted, be upbeat, be clear and be concise.  No long explanations about the neighbor’s complaints, the terrible worry that would come with eviction, the outrageous behavior of children who don’t obey – this is too much information and is unlikely to motivate your kids.

Change is only going to happen when their standard of living is seriously affected – and early bedtime is a horrible consequence from your kids’ viewpoint!

Now be absolutely consistent about following the doctor’s instructions.  Tell them about quiet play once each day.  Then no reminders, threats or second chances.  If play becomes noisy, just announce that bedtime is right after supper tonight.

A few days of implementing early bedtime should get their attention and help them get the rest they need to play quietly in the house.  Expect some improvement, some worsening, some improvement and then another test or two to see if the rule is still in place.  But stay the course and hang in there.

This approach works because it is objective, calm and authoritative.  It can help a child get over a hump in his life and for this family, a very significant “hump” for all of them.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Frustration in 3 Year Olds!

As in every second of every day, right?  It is simply the nature of a 3 year old. Until now he has been at the absolute center of everyone’s attention – a place he LIKES and believes he is entitled to.  Suddenly he is being gently moved out of that super special circle.  Whether he is off to preschool or day care or there is a new baby in the house or his family is beginning to teach him some rules, life has become confusing. He also knows more about what he wants.  When he wants something, he wants it RIGHT NOW. 

There are plenty of reasons for a 3 year old to be frustrated.  And furthermore, he was not born with any tools for dealing with frustration so his response is often to hit or scream or bite or throw a tantrum.

What is a parent to do???  Well the first thing he should NOT do is try to talk and reason.  A 3 year old is not a little adult, he is a child.  He does not have the understanding or experience or patience to listen to mom and dad’s lessons about being kind, treating others fairly, taking his turn or waiting patiently.  So please, please save your breath.

When your little one acts out; he hits his little brother, he screams at the grocery store, or he fights you about putting his shoes on, understand that his frustration is natural and it is necessary that he experience it.  You cannot always make things better for him and he NEEDS to learn to handle frustration – from this point on there is going to be some frustration in his life, just like for the rest of us!

So frustration is a good and natural thing.

Yup, it is good and natural.

So back to what to do?

 1 – stop talking!!!!!  It is not going to do any good so STOP!

 2 – When he does something like hit, bite, push, grab other’s toys, pick him up immediately, say “NO – we don’t’ hit” and put him in time out.  Time out doesn’t always work but if it does, it is a good first step.

 3 – if time out doesn’t work for your little one you will still need to stop the behavior by removing him.  Later, when he is calm and the incident is over you should levy a big consequence.  Perhaps he won’t get dessert tonight, or a bedtime story or a favorite tv show.  You will calmly say “because you hit your brother this morning, you are not having dessert tonight”.  “Because you refused to put your coat and shoes on this morning, you are going to bed early tonight”.

 4 – be consistent, stay calm and don’t try to solve whatever the problem seems to be.  Mainly because hitting, biting, screaming is wrong – no matter what the reason was.   Accept that these lessons are going to take some time so just keep on doing what you are supposed to do!

When you consistently deal with his acts of frustration, he will begin to learn 2 essential things. First,  better behavior!  But most importantly the more he learns to solve his problems and deal with his frustration  – the happier he will be!