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Assessing the Needs of Your Child

Aug 18, 2007
Most parents will heartily agree that no child's behaviors are the same, nor are the triggers to negative behaviors. Yet those same parents tend to use the same parenting model for all of their children. It isn't surprising then, that more parents are seeking outside support in raising their kids.

There are thousands of resources for parents to look to when they find themselves at wit's end. Books and magazine articles offer the promise of an answer and anonymity, as do the many websites, newsletters and e-zines that are so common.

For some parents, anonymity is important, mistakenly believing their child's behaviors are a reflection of their worth as a parent. There are also parenting classes, parenting groups, not to mention the latest craze in parenting-Reality TV.

Certain sources of information offer a single parenting technique as the answer (the Time-Out, for example,) while others offer generalized answers. More difficult to find are the parenting sources that recommend child-specific rather than action-specific consequences. This approach is much easier than it sounds.

It involves knowing your child's needs and temperament, your needs as a family, and parenting with all of that in mind.

A child's temperament is the first clue about how they learn best. Mild-mannered or sensitive children may respond to stressing what they did, expressing disappointment in their behavior. A stubborn or reactive child probably wouldn't notice an expression of disappointment is more likely to learn or change behavior when they are put in a separate space with no one to fight against or act out for.

Ideally, knowing your child's temperament will help avoid a lot of issues. With parenting, the easiest way to help a child learn and remain at peace is to avoid those triggers your child will react to. There are some predictable experiences or feelings that will cause over-reactions or negative behavior. And each of these triggers are handled in different ways to minimize negative behaviors.

Is your child: hurt, tired, hungry, thirsty, overdressed/underdressed?

Helping your child deal with these triggers is only one aspect of a good 3 part plan for parenting your child's needs.

The second is to discipline with authority and love, and the third is using opportunities throughout the day to help your child learn about respect, appropriate behavior, and to let them know how much you love, respect, and enjoy them.

When it comes to disciplining with authority and love, there are some basics to keep in mind. Punishing a child through spankings or shame undermines your relationship with your child.

Fear is not a helpful or useful basis for discipline. It may work for the moment, but it fails both kids and parents in the long run. Discipline is meant to teach a child how to behave in the world. This is best done gently, not in anger.

Some things to consider in deciding consequences

Before we can teach a child to behave, and expect them to follow through, we need to know what the rules are and tell them. There are a few things to remember, though.

First, are they hurting themselves or others? If so, remove them immediately. This needs the strongest level of discipline, to help kids learn that hurting is not allowed. This needs to be understood right away.

Second, decide what rules are important in your home. Is it important that the kids only eat at the kitchen table? Are toys picked up right away or at the end of the day? How much responsibility is your child capable of, and what chores will they have?

Remember that any rule, responsibility or chore needs to be within your child's abilities, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Third, decide what consequences are likely to work with your child and what the consequence will be for. Now is also a good time to decide if using rewards is an appropriate method of teaching positive behaviors and enforcing routines.

Lastly, talk to your child about what your expectations are, and the consequences, both good and bad. Use some ingenuity. Tack up reminder signs made of pictures if your kids are not reading yet. Be creative. Have them help.

Remember that it takes the average adult 30 days to create a routine. Be prepared to do a lot of reminding, and only present one new rule at a time. Give everyone time to get used to it before handing out consequences.

And afterward, once the consequence is handed out, let it go. No one wants to keep hearing what they've done wrong. Tell them what they're doing right. Play a game, ask them to help make pizzas or brownies. Take some time to give them your attention and your time. This way they know that good behaviors have their rewards as well.

To help kids learn the rules of your house, what manners you feel are important, or any other specifics to your house, take moments during no-stress times to talk about them.

If you're eating lunch with them, remind them they need to through away their napkin when they're finished. Show them how to behave well by being an example. If children aren't shown what is okay to do, they won't know.

If your child is not responding to your parenting techniques, evaluate your child on your own first. Then talk with your pediatrician. You maybe expecting more than your child is capable of, or there may be other issues to consider. Remember, children want to be good. It's up to us to show them how.
About the Author
The "Daycare Diva", Christine G. Groth, is the creator of "The Guide to Instant Daycare Profits". To learn more about this step-by-step program and to sign-up for her FREE "How to Start a Daycare" tips and articles, visit http://www.ExpertsAtDaycare.com
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