Posted in Family, Mental Health, Opinion, parenting, Uncategorized

The importance of ignoring

When I see the breakdown starting; the clenched fists, the low growl, the slanted eyes, my first reaction is start figuring out exactly what happened to trigger her. Sometimes I have to know. We were having such a nice time, and boom. But through the past two years of dealing with emotional disorders in my child I have learned that sometimes it’s best to ignore it. Ignoring is a controversial topic and I’m not here to change your mind about it necessarily, but there are pros to learning when to meddle and when to let be. Image result for preschool tantrum

Last night we had a tantrum starting. It was late, close to bedtime, and she wanted to watch a movie. Of course she knew it wasn’t going to happen but as soon as I start explaining why she fell to the floor, kicked her legs, and yelled at me “no, no, no, movie”. She did this lovely little regression she does when she’s not getting her way. She’s five now, so this kind of behavior is getting to be not age appropriate. I started trying to talk over her but decided to use the ignore tactic instead. It may or may not have helped there were other people there at the time. My husband and mother were both standing, watching her little body flare on the floor.

“I can’t talk to you when you are acting like this so I’m going in the other room until you’re ready.” (Note: I could still hear/see her she wasn’t in any danger for anyone who automatically goes to the worst case scenario). I expected the usual heightened screaming and yelling but I heard nothing. She stayed on the floor and kicked a few

more times, then got up and calmly said, “mommy can I just have my bedtime snack?”

I hugged her and told her how great of a job she did calming herself down and gave her a snack.

Ignoring has it’s time and place. Some people think you are sending the child mixed signals. That ignoring their negative behaviors is showing them you only care when they are being “good”. I used to think that’s what ignoring her would mean. To me though, there’s a difference. If she’s having a panic attack or is uncontrollably upset about something, no I would not leave her alone to figure it out. If she’s angry to the point of losing control, no I would leave her alone to define her inner emotions herself. If she’s having a tantrum or a fit over something like a snack, movie, etc, yes I will. The main argument I have seen, is that the child is trying to get attention and that ignoring will only make it worse or make them feel isolated and

unwanted. I do think this would be the case if that child is ignored daily or if the child is too young to understand. If you aren’t listening to their stories and questions, and then ignoring them AGAIN when they’re having a breakdown, yeah they’re going to feel like they just can’t do anything right. However, there is such a thing as negative attention. I know, *gasp* this is life altering, but in an age of helicopter parenting and children not being capable of ever doing wrong, it bothers me that this is overlooked. I also feel that a one year old having a breakdown and a five year old are two very different things. Look at the age appropriateness of your child’s behavior and don’t ever leave an infant or toddler alone.

The perks and benefits of ignoring:

    1. You won’t lose your sh*t- you shouldn’t yell at a toddler or child having a tantrum. I do think “monkey see, monkey do” is a thing. They see you yelling at them yelling, then they in turn need to yell at you, because they’re yelling, and it’s just so loud. Losing your cool is going to happen but in the case of a mini meltdown, just say “we’ll talk when you’re ready, I’m right over here” and walk away. No yelling, no threats. Related image
    2. End the need for negative attention- once your child realizes ‘hey, mommy isn’t going to sit here and stare at me and give me what I want’, they will stop.
    3. Resist the urge to over explain- if you ignore the tantrum then you are not as tempted to sit there and try to have a reasonable conversation with them while they can’t even comprehend their own feelings. Talking it out only works AFTER the tantrum has subsided.
    4. Teaches appropriate responses- when your child starts to realize that they get nothing when they lash out but conversation and better end results when they communicate, they will try to communicate more effectively. Just keep in mind again the age appropriateness of what you are expecting your child to say/do. “That is not how we behave” is pretty much the staple explanation to tantrums in my house.
    5. Self soothing- again there’s mixed feelings out there but I think self soothing is a HUGE plus for children to learn. I don’t have someone around all the time to hug or hit or yell at or talk to or whatever I may need at that time. You have to learn that sometimes you have to soothe yourself. Children with emotional needs even more so.
    6. It’s not cute or funny- one recommendation that drives me bonkers is to use humor to diffuse the tantrum. I love humor, we use it a lot, but how is that teaching the child to deal with their feelings? “Hey I know you’re angry and sad but let’s just forget that for minute and look at this funny face I’m making ahhhh so great okay let’s go play”. Um, what? That’s not a great life lesson and I don’t want my kid throwing a fit every time they want play and be funny with me. Just you know, say so.Image result for kid laughing then mad gif

AGAIN, you know your child and you know what is a sad cry, angry cry, frustrated cry, and “I just can’t believe you aren’t giving my ice cream for dinner” cry. You can decipher better than anyone else when these tactics should be used. I would use more support and physical contact when the tantrum seems uncontrollable and the child really needs your guidance. I am talking from dealing with emotional disorders but obviously all children can benefit from knowing what to do and when.

The best way to ignore it in my opinion, is to stay close but act like it doesn’t phase you that your child sounds possessed. Start cleaning or straightening up the room next to him/her. Check on them, make sure they aren’t escalating. But don’t give in to the demand. That’s the biggest part of this whole scenario. Make sure they understand that you love them dearly, but reacting that way is harmful and hurtful and most all not effective.

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Posted in Education, Family, Mental Health, Opinion, parenting

What ADHD is really like

I wanted to better explain what ADHD of a small girl is really like. It’s not just chasing butterflies and rambling topics of conversation. There are layers and layers to it.

I wasrecently published over at Scary Mommy! Check it out.

Posted in Family, health, Mental Health, parenting, teen, toddlers, Uncategorized

Other than hyper…

When you think of a kid with ADHD or ADD, you may picture a small child swinging from a ceiling fan while making loud monkey sounds. Or maybe they’re on top of the kitchen counter trying to jump rope. They are, more or less, always hyper to the untrained eye.

Image result for child with adhdHowever, having a hyper child doesn’t mean that they have ADHD. Most children, at least a majority of them, have a resource of energy that adults just don’t understand. The phrase “he/she’s been running all day, how is she not tired” could be for any toddler or adolescent.

On the reverse side, not all kids who have ADHD/ADD act out in a hyper manner. Some are very often caught daydreaming or “in the zone” when doing something. Since children with ADHD get distracted very easily, some sufferers need to completely tune into one thing they are doing. If anything else is going on they will lose focus and not be able to complete task. They may not appear hyper but they are struggling nonetheless.

The difference really comes down to, is it negatively affecting your child’s life? A lot of times ADHD/ADD can’t be identified until they are in Kindergarten or older because their limitations of concentration haven’t really been tested. From what I have seen in work and at home, there seems to be three categories that ADHD/ADD symptoms are lumped into most often: Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.

Inattention:

  • Difficulty organizing
  • Cannot remember directions and has trouble with completing tasks
  • Seems to not be listening when being spoken to
  • Constantly losing things or putting them where they don’t belong
  • Difficulty concentrating on schoolwork or activity for the amount of time it would take to complete it

Hyperactivity

  • Can’t sit still; fidgets or constantly moves feet when sitting
  • Gets in and out of chair when sitting at table or desk
  • Talks excessively and usually loudly
  • Difficulty playing quietly

Impulsiveness

  • Interrupts, even when you are answering something they asked you
  • Struggles to control physical movements
  • Blurts out answers (if in classroom)

I think it’s important to note (since this is how I realized we may have a problem on our hands) that ADHD/ADD is linked with behavior issues. It’s easy to understand why, once you start to think about how a child with ADHD has to process the world around them. Frustration, anger, fear, anxiety, and low self esteem are all very real feelings for kids suffering through this. Parents may be exhausted and beat down but even when your child is screaming they hate you, they are probably going through more emotional turmoil than you are.

Some other symptoms that are not mentioned as much but still may be a red flag are:

  • Aggressiveness
  • Bold and no fear (meaning they will talk to strangers, climb on anything and not care about the idea of getting hurt)
  • Unable to hop on one foot (up to age 4)
  • Complete loss of control (for parents who experience this, it’s like a tantrum on steroids)

 

I am putting this information out there for parents who may be on the fence about whether or not their child has ADHD/ADD. There is a lot of literature available about how ADHD/ADD does not exist. That it is a made-up disease for pharmaceutical companies and to label overactive children as a way to explain their actions and behaviors. In the past three years, I have learned very clearly that is inaccurate. While medicating a child is a separate topic completely, I think we need to realize that mental illness is completely, 100% real, and that it does affect people of all ages, even children. Until that stigma is gone I feel a lot of children who need help won’t get it.

On the same note, I have said it before, I do think it’s also over-diagnosed as well. Do yourself a favor, if you think your child has a problem, go to a doctor. Not your pediatrician, but a counselor of some kind. They will be able to tell you after a few sessions and talks with you whether your child is just very energetic or if there’s something else going on. There are many natural remedies to some of the behaviors you may be experiencing and with just a little tweaking here and there you may see a huge difference in your child at home and at school.

 

Posted in Family, Opinion, parenting, teaching, Uncategorized

Calm Down Box

I have mentioned explosive behaviors once or twice in past posts, and have written about anger in toddlers before, but I also wanted to offer a solution to these breakdowns.

As I mentioned in a past post about discipline, time-outs did not work for us for our daughter. However, the concept behind a time-out (stepping away from your actions and taking a moment to consider them) can be done in a better way. We have a calm down box.

Image result for calm down box

Before starting it, make sure to explain that it isn’t necessarily a punishment, it’s just to help get your child back to neutral. We are working on walking away from anger stimulants (ie someone being mean at school) so my daughter can learn to calm herself as oppose to punching the other kid in the throat (yeah…). I know the anti-punishment movement can seem hippy-dippy to some parents, and I’m not saying certain behaviors don’t require discipline (ie punching the other kid in the throat). The calm down box is simply a way to teach your child how to soothe themselves enough to come back to center before moving on to the next thing.

This has been one of the biggest life savers as far as parenting goes for us. Now that my daughter is 3 and is starting to be able to verbally explain her feelings and emotions better, she realizes that the calm down box is helping her. I have a basic plastic storage box and I rotate the items inside, except for a few standard pieces. Below are some options of things to put in your own calm down box.

Ooooh, the bubbles…

These are still mesmerizing to me, even as an adult. We use one as out calm down timer basically. The sound of a ticking timer can be a little less than calming, so instead we have one of these that I flip over. I tell her she has to play with her calm down box until all the bubbles have fallen. Usually after a few moments of watching them she’s so engrossed in something else she forgets that it’s there. These have also helped with not being able to go to sleep at night occasionally.

 

Stress balls are not just for the office. Kids can benefit from them too. The brighter and the more squishy, I think the better.

 

 

Water snakes are a great sensory toy, as long as they don’t break. I guess it depends on just how mad your kid is at the time…

 

 

I may be the only person the world who still uses CDs more frequently than iPods or MP3 players. For my daughter, the process of finding a CD or Audio Book is kind of part of the calming process. She picks what she wants, puts it in the player, and listens. It’s simple and effective.

 

 

Sometimes the CD player isn’t enough and headphones are required to really help her escape. I think that’s easy to relate to.

 

 

 

 

Music is needed sometimes, but I think audio books are also great to help kids learn how to calm themselves down. They have to focus on what book they want and then really listen to the words that are being spoken.

 

 

Touch and feel books are usually for babies and toddlers under two, with some exceptions. However, if your child is playing alone or learning how to soothe themselves a touch and feel book can be very helpful. The act of “reading” along with the physical processes of touching certain materials, can be very soothing.

 

 

Same token, books like Journey are great because without words the child isn’t intimidated to “read” alone. They just look at the pictures and make up their own story.

 

 

 

 

There are many sites out there with recipes and instructions on how to make your own calm down bottles. They can be a great addition to any calm down box.

 

 

 

 

Some other items that help with restlessness and not being able to sit still can also be useful in a calm down box. If you have tried other things that have worked mention them below!

Posted in DIY, Education, Family, Gardening, health

How to Start a Family Garden

First and foremost do not make this a chore! If you already an avid gardener and you know which plants you like, where you like them, how to perfectly make them grow, you need to kick some of that out the window. Kids are messy and will make a lot of mistakes. They will plant somethings too deep and somethings not deep enough. But let them mess up. Don’t go behind them and fix every single they do. Let them see the outcome; these grew to blossom because you did this…and these didn’t because you did this…Explaining their mistakes is a much better way to improve their gardening and growing skills.

Listen to your children as well. You may be all about some pink and white flowers but your kids want to try and grow vegetables that they can eat. If you can do both great, if not let’s try their idea. Some kids will just never like gardening. There are plenty of children who do not like dirt, the idea of sitting in the mud or grass is not appealing, and there is no way to force them to like it. That’s fine too. They can still participate with things like garden planning, creating labels for the plants, decorating flower pots, and making little animal or fairy houses to put in the garden (talk about more in activities).

You must be realistic when starting this project. Don’t tackle a huge garden filled with apple trees over there, and potatoes over here, and some lilacs over there. Gardening and growing food is a skill that takes time. Good gardeners really don’t get enough credit. Work with the space you have and maybe start with 3-5 plants. Once they are good and growing add another if you can. If working with a small space here are some ideas:

Herb gardens do not need a lot of space and are nice for kids because they get a reward out of it. They get to see their plants grow and then they get to taste new delicious foods! Mint, lavender (which I personally hate to be honest), oregano, and basil are all easy to find recipes for. Chives is also a good one because it repels mosquito (more natural bug repellents here.)

free-standing-vertical-pallet-herb-garden

If you have some more room here are some great resources on garden mapping:

 Kitchen Garden Planner– This site is mostly to sway sales; however, they do have pre-planned maps and interactive maps to help you plan your garden.

Better Homes and Garden- Good article on how to map out your garden.

If you have the space, consider having seating within your garden. You and your child should be able to come outside after a long day and admire your hard work. A table and chairs amidst your plants is a great place for kids to relax or play. If you are starting a porch garden or indoor garden this applies to you too. Make sure you have a seating area near your plants. This will also make it easier to show off your child’s hard work. Some ideas for seating:

Hammock Nook11c769e28ffc5e341783eceef2d97ed9cute little bench...  Budget Backyard: 10 Ways to Use Cheap Concrete Cinder Blocks Outdoors

Dishfunctional Designs has some great ideas too!

Some things to consider:

Always keep your garden a safe area. Have a set place, preferably a locked place, to keep all sharp garden tools.

Use little (or preferably no) fertilizers or insecticides because they are toxic to people. Kids eating dirt isn’t really a big deal, kids eating chemicals can be.

I just want to add that I do not make any money per clicks or via referring companies so any pictures or links that I post are because I found them doing research and thought they would be beneficial to you 🙂

Posted in Education

Explore the Senses

It’s been said that kids are sponges and the more I watch my daughter grow up the more I realize that statement to be true. I will say I think some of the initiatives for teaching for one to three-year-olds are a little…drastic. I don’t think my one-year-old needs to know French. However, I do think introducing fun activities that teach them useful terms and skills which will help them once they get into school is definitely important. Some easy learning subject matter: the five senses.

Reiterate words as much as possible: ears, hear, head, hair, eyes, see, eye color, blink, nose, smell, mouth, tongue, taste, hands, fingers, touch, ect.

wq_senses

For hearing you can do easy activities that show your child different sounds (also you may want to take an Excedrin prior). Make instruments out of old formula cans and metal bells or pots and a plastic spoon. Let them experiment with different sounds. If you have some old plastic Easter eggs fill them with different items and let your child shake away and hear the different sounds. Of course, music party dance time counts too I think. Give your child some scarves or something like this:

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For sight, peek-a-boo is actually teaching them the basics of sight. You can also show them pictures of other people either in books or magazines and ask them to point out the person’s eyes. Ask them what color the eyes are. Play a version of I Spy. Say things like bring me your cup, your shoes, your blanket. Flashlight shadow puppets introduces the idea of light and dark. The cup game is great too! Just get three cups and something small that fits under them. Flip the cups over with the item under one of the cups. Then move them around and let your child try to pick with cup has the item under it.

For taste, lunchtime can always be a learning experience. Give them something salty like a cracker and explain “salty” then give them something sweet like fruit and say “sweet”. If they are a little older you can take a green apple and a red apple. Peel the skin and cut them up but remember which is which. Then give your child a piece and ask “do you think that’s the red apple or the green apple?” They will learn that the sweeter tasting is red and the more tart is green showing the same food can have different tastes.

For touch, a great tool to use are water beads. You have to watch closely on this one (and all of them) to make sure your child doesn’t use the beads as a snack. Most are nontoxic but still. You can put them in a plastic tub that has a little bit of water in it and watch the beads expand. Let your child feel the textures. Cooked noodles are also a favorite to play with. As you can probably tell touch may require the most clean up.

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For all the senses a great, mess-free, way to let your child explore is using sensory bottles. Any sort of clear sealable bottle will work. Make sure your child can’t get the bottle open.  My daughter can open about anything so I had to break out the duct tape. Fill the bottles with little colorful beads, seeds, or thick glitter. Throw in a few larger objects like dice or larger beads. Then watch as they study the materials getting tossed around while they search for the larger items. You can also make some with liquids like oil and water. Use color in the oil so your child can really see the separation.