Monday, May 11, 2009

How do your children grow?

It is hard for parents to ask for help addressing problem behaviors of their child. For some reason we feel that we are incompetent parents if we don't have all the answers. Many problems have been addressed in many ways by many parents; we can learn from this. However, we must always keep in mind that even though the problems may be the same, the children are all different. This is what makes it such a challenge. Children are not Rubik cubes. How blessed we are as parents to have very unique individuals to marvel at. Sometimes we can be so lost in the magic of it all that we forget we need to teach children every basic skill.

Children do learn to eat but eating healthy is up to us to teach. Children will sleep but to be able to identify their body's signs of fatigue is up to us to teach. Even eliminating waste is automatic but learning to do it in a way that is accepted by society is up to us to teach. These are really difficult skills to teach. A parent needs to be patient and understand when their child is developmentally ready to learn. This can be very different from child to child and no one knows this better than I.

The means in which I taught Jess were very different than my approach to Melissa. I will tell you, one thing I needed to develop and be very strong with was consistency. That is what I have discovered works for any child. A parent who is inconsistent confuses their child. A confused child is an apprehensive child, never really knowing what the outcome will be. They act a certain way one day and elicit one response, and another day a different response. A child's psyche is very fragile and needs parameters. Some call it discipline, which should never be confused with punishment.

I have cared for many children who thrived when I responded the same way every time a certain behavior was displayed. They loved the way I would balance catching them when they were good and disciplining them when their behavior was inappropriate. They could always count on me to do what they thought I would. It became very easy to increase the appropriate behaviors while decreasing the inappropriate. But I hinted at the following in my very first blog, I heard what they wanted. I could pick up their vibes as to how I could get the response that I wanted from them.

I could visit a home and right away pick up how a child was feeling. A parent might mention that the child was never taking naps, and look how active the child was, obviously the child was not sleepy but I say to you that I knew the child was exhausted. I saw a child who was heading towards the point of no return. They had no control over what they were doing. Maybe the child became destructive, violent, weepy, whiny, overactive, under active, there are so many signs but it all boiled down to exhaustion. Sleep is extremely important in a child's development and should never be left up to the child to decide when, where or how long. A parent needs to take control and assist the child to develop healthy sleep habits.

I have always wondered if a child who never learns to sleep through the night ever suffers from insomnia as an adult. Look at the child who doesn't learn healthy eating, this can have an effect on if this child will suffer from eating disorders or obesity. It is so simply complex!

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