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Your Teen

Stop Yelling at Your Teenager!

2.30 to read

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that anyone who has a child has yelled at him or her at one time or another. As parents, we’ve all lost our patience when we believe our child is misbehaving. If ever there is a time when parents and kids are standing at the crossroad of “Listen to me” and “I don’t need to”, it’s during the teenage years.

Tempers often ignite with harsh words being said.  

While you may be trying to make an important point, aggressive yelling and screaming only pushes your child away and may be doing much more harm than good according to a new study.

An analysis involving nearly 1,000 two-parent families and their adolescent children suggests that such harsh verbal lashings not only don't cut back on misbehavior, they actually promote it.

The end result: an uptick in the kind of adolescent rage, stubbornness and irritation that escalates rather than stops or prevents disobedience and conflict.

"Most parents who yell at their adolescent children wouldn't dream of physically punishing their teens," noted study author Ming-Te Wang, an assistant professor with the department of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education. "Yet, their use of harsh verbal discipline -- defined as shouting, cursing or using insults -- is just as detrimental to the long-term well-being of adolescents," he said.

"Our findings offer insight into why some parents feel that no matter how loud they shout, their teenagers do not listen," Wang added. "Indeed, not only does harsh verbal discipline appear to be ineffective at addressing behavior problems in youth, it actually appears to increase such behaviors."

Wang and his co-author, Sarah Kenny of the University of Michigan, report their findings in the current issue of the journal Child Development.

The researchers were particularly interested in kids between 13 and 14 years old so they focused on 976 primarily middle-class families in Pennsylvania with young adolescent offspring, all of whom were already participating in a long-term study exploring family interaction and adolescent development. A little more than half the families were white, while 40 percent were black.

The teen participants were asked to disclose recent behavioral issues such as in-school disturbances, stealing, fighting, damaging property or lying to their parents.

Their parents were asked how often they used harsh verbal discipline such as yelling, screaming, swearing or cursing at their child. Most importantly, if they called their child names like “dumb” or “lazy.”

The teens were also asked to what degree they felt “warmth” in their relationship with their parents. Researchers inquired about the amount of parental love, emotional support, affection and care the kids felt like they received from their parents. Both teens and parental depression were tracked.

The study points out that the children who were on the receiving end of the harsh verbal attacks experienced an increase in anger and a drop in inhibitions. Those two reactions prompted an intensification of the very things that parents were hoping to stop – such as lying, cheating, stealing or fighting.

"Parents who wish to modify their teenage children's behavior would do better by communicating with them on an equal level," Wang said, "and explaining their rationale and worries to them. Parenting programs are in a good position to offer parents insight into how behaviors they may feel the need to resort to, such as shouting or yelling, are ineffective and or harmful, and to offer alternatives to such behaviors."

Parents get frustrated with their children and vice versa. None of us behave perfectly all the time. Raising your voice because you are frustrated is one thing, name calling and screaming is quite another.

Imagine if you were at work and your boss screamed at you, called you names and cursed at you because he or she didn’t like how you did something. That may have actually happened to you – remember how you felt, or think about how you would feel. Humiliated, angry and sad are the most common reactions people have.  

Children are trying to find their way in life; parents are their guides. The next time you feel you’re on the verge of screaming or saying hurtful things to your child - walk away. Give yourself time to cool down and find a better way to communicate.

People say kids are resilient and get over things quickly. Many are able to bounce back when bad things happen, but that saying is too often used to excuse bad behavior on a parent’s part. If you’ve crossed the line with your child, say you’re sorry and come up with better ways to handle your frustration and anger.

Words and tone matter and the best teaching method is by example. You can help your child learn what love, patience, tolerance, compassion and respect are by being an example of those very qualities.

Source: Alan Moses, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/misc-kid-s-health-news-435/yelling-at-insulting-teens-can-backfire-on-parents-study-679863.html

Daily Dose

Timeout!

1.30 to read

When I am seeing toddlers for their check ups, the topic of behavior is usually at the top of both the parent’s and my list for discussion.  Once a child is walking and beginning to talk, all sorts of new behaviors seem to occur! 

Parents ask, “how do I stop my child from hitting or biting?”  “What about misbehaving and not listening?”  The toddler years are challenging for behavior as a child is gaining independence, and testing as well.  Toddler and teens have some of the same attributes and it is important to begin behavior modification during the toddler years. 

Time out is the most commonly used behavior modification and not only will parents use this method at home, but preschool and day care teachers begin using this technique as well. This is the age that children begin to understand rules and consequences. 

So how do you “do” time out and when?  I usually start using time out when a child is between 15 -18 months of age. While I try to ignore and distract tantrums, I use time out for biting, hitting and those age appropriate yet inappropriate behaviors. 

I pick a chair in the house (we had a small set of table and chairs which seemed perfect) and every parent needs a kitchen timer to use for time out.   It is important to get at your child’s level when disciplining them as well. Tell them why they are going to time out and then have them sit in the chair for 1 minute per year of age.  (Trust me a minute sometimes feels like forever!)  

Here is the trick, if your child will not just sit in the chair (and many won’t), go behind them and hold them in the chair as if you were a human rope.  In most cases the child will be crying and trying to get up out of the chair, but you calmly hold them in the chair from behind. No eye contact!  Once the timer goes off, you let go of them, go back around so that you make eye contact again, get down to their level, and explain once again that they had to sit in the chair because they (fill in the blank).  

Time out takes time and patience.  If you are consistent about using time out for misbehaving, your child will learn to sit in the chair.  For some it may only take 1 time and others are more head-strong and it may take months of “human rope” before they decide to sit alone. 

Don’t give up!!!  This is a very important lesson for children to learn and you will use time out many times, not only in that little chair, but in other venues as your child gets older.    

Your Toddler

Making Time Outs Work for You and Your Child

2:00

It’s not going out on a limb to say that at eventually, mom or dad will resort to the “time out” rule when their little one is behaving badly. And that’s a good thing. 

Time-outs can be very effective in helping children learn how to change their behavior as long as they are not overused and handled correctly.

What is a time-out? Basically, a time-out is when a child is separated from others for behavior that is unacceptable such as throwing a full-out tantrum, continuingly refusing to obey a command, or biting, hitting or kicking someone. 

When used correctly, a time out can teach a child how to modify his or her behavior in a more acceptable way. However, problems can arise when parents don’t know how or when to use time outs effectively.

Time outs should be used as positive and consistent discipline, not as a form of punishment. Time outs separate a child from positive feedback when they are intentionally acting up. It gives them the space and time to settle down and associate the behavior with the consequence.

A time out should consist of a designated place in the home where the child is safe and can be seen. The place should be quiet and away from the activity that caused or included the behavior. Many parents have a stool, chair or step on standby for time outs. The area needs to be boring and not have “reward” objects such as TVs, toys, or computers present.

How long should time outs last? Many follow conventional wisdom that when a child demonstrates unacceptable behavior, he or she should be separated from the activity for a number of minutes equal to his or her age.

Time outs should be used to help a child calm down and think about the behavior that got them there.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says it's okay to give children as young as 1 a time-out – but it's best only as a last resort. Until he's a little older, your child may not have the self-control and reasoning skills to make a traditional time-out effective. Instead, think of a time-out as the "quiet time" your toddler needs to calm down and get his or her emotions under control. It’s also a time when parents can get their own emotions under control as well.

If you’re child is capable of understanding that certain behaviors are not going to be tolerated, and yet they are right in the middle of acting out one of those behaviors, that’s when a time out should be implemented.

You want your child to associate the behavior with the consequence. Calmly tell your child in no more than 10 words why they are in time out. As soon as he or she calms down, reward them with positive attention.

Children whine, cry and sulk – those are not reasons to put them in time out. Time outs are for intentional behavior such as biting or continuing to break rules.

What's helpful about a time-out is that it can defuse and redirect an escalating situation in an unemotional way. It lets you teach your child without setting a negative example, the way yelling or hitting does.

Parents tend to over explain a situation to a child, that’s why it’s important to keep the wording simple and direct. Over-talking the problem also tends to make the parent more agitated when the behavior doesn’t change. Being calm when putting your child in time out not only de-escalates the situation but also helps your child relax and think about their behavior. If you’re screaming and jerking your child to the time out area, they are more likely to be frightened and / or defiant than contemplative.

When the time-out is over, give your child a hug. A sign of affection demonstrates that he or she is still worthy of your love even though the behavior is unacceptable.

What if your child won’t stay in the time out zone? Toddlers are going to give you a challenge- that’s their nature. Power struggles can easily get out of hand. Until your toddler can appreciate the need to follow rules, limit the use of time-outs. Otherwise he or she won't understand why she's being corrected, and you may get frustrated and abandon the strategy prematurely.

You might actually consider “practicing” time outs with your child. Say your little one is revved up and on the edge of losing it- this might be a good time to grab a favorite book and sit down together. This is more like a “time-in” that associates positive attention to calming down before the behavior gets out of control.

When your child can follow simple directions and has a slightly longer attention span, they’re ready for a more traditional time-out. Between ages 2 and 3, you'll probably notice that he or she is better able to understand cause and effect.

But don't spring the tactic on them in a burst of frustration – a time-out works best if it's explained ahead of time. Use simple terms: "When you get too wild or act in a way that Mommy and Daddy don't think is a good idea, I will call, 'Time-out.' That means you will sit in this chair for a little while until you can calm yourself down."

Some parents find it useful to act this out or to use a doll or teddy bear to demonstrate taking a time-out.

Time outs are not miracle cures for unacceptable childhood behaviors. They are one tool parents can use to help educate their children about cause and effect. Parenting is a balancing act between positive reinforcement and consistent discipline.

When a child is very young, redirecting their attention to something more appropriate or fun may be the best approach. The key is to always keep your expectations realistic.

Sources: Paula Spencer, http://www.babycenter.com/0_time-outs-how-to-make-them-work-12-to-24-mo_12252.bc?page=1

http://www.news-medical.net/news/20150320/Time-outs-can-train-children-to-behave-better.aspx

Daily Dose

Paddling in School

1:30 to read

I just finished reading an online post from a pediatrician in another state whose daughter has just started kindergarten. It seems that in her state, and her school, they may still “paddle” children for misbehaving. WHAT?!?!

In fact, the school sent a note home with her child that re-iterated the “school rules” surrounding paddling and asked that the parent sign the note that they agreed to paddling. Are you kidding me…what parent would sign a note agreeing to let someone HIT their child?  Parent’s have been arrested for spanking their children in a public place….but now you can let someone else paddle your child? 

I talk to parents about discipline even before their child turns one. Many a parent will tell you I am “the strict” doctor.  From the beginning, I discourage spanking (although I will admit to spanking my own children several times during their childhood - usually out of total frustration and never felt good about it) and begin with some simple strategies. For example when your 6-7 month old learns that they can make a new shrieking sound to get attention “ignore the behavior” and it will often go away.  Or, what about telling your child that you “will not pick the food up off the floor if they throw it” and then following through….they will not go hungry I assure you.

As children get older I discuss re-directing, time-out, taking away a toy.  For the older child it may be taking away screen time, missing a birthday party and for the teens taking away the cell phone,car or being grounded at home with parents.  But spanking and paddling is never part of the discipline/behavior modification discussion. And now I find out that there are still 19 states that allow paddling in their schools!! 

The mother of this child had not been aware of this rule. She could not believe that she was asked to sign a form to allow her child to be paddled. In this case we are also talking about 5-7 year olds who are just starting school where they will begin to learn school rules and expectations of kindergarten and 1st graders. Every teacher seems to have many strategies for discipline and behavior modification. Not one that I spoke with mentioned spanking or paddling. I am not sure that I even agree with taking away “recess” for misbehaving from this age group…(another conversation)  but certainly not corporal punishment.

The interesting part of this story is that the behavior issues were related to little boys “playing guns”  while they were on the playground. The school has a “zero tolerance for acting out play with guns”  but allows you to hit a child???  What kind of mixed message is that about violence? I know that while raising our three sons, despite our protests about violence and guns,  they seemed to turn anything we gave them into a “play gun” and that was long before they were ever even given a Nerf gun. 

Do your schools have policies regarding corporal punishment? I feel as if I have gone back in time 50 years - only all of this information came from that entity called the internet!!!

 

Daily Dose

Timeout!

1:30 to read

When I am seeing toddlers for their check ups, the topic of behavior is usually at the top of both the parent’s and my list for discussion.  Once a child is walking and beginning to talk, all sorts of new behaviors seem to occur! 

Parents ask, “how do I stop my child from hitting or biting?”  “What about misbehaving and not listening?”  The toddler years are challenging for behavior as a child is gaining independence, and testing as well.  Toddler and teens have some of the same attributes and it is important to begin behavior modification during the toddler years. 

Time out is the most commonly used behavior modification and not only will parents use this method at home, but preschool and day care teachers begin using this technique as well. This is the age that children begin to understand rules and consequences. 

So how do you “do” time out and when?  I usually start using time out when a child is between 15 -18 months of age. While I try to ignore and distract tantrums, I use time out for biting, hitting and those age appropriate yet inappropriate behaviors. 

I pick a chair in the house (we had a small set of table and chairs which seemed perfect) and every parent needs a kitchen timer to use for time out.   It is important to get at your child’s level when disciplining them as well. Tell them why they are going to time out and then have them sit in the chair for 1 minute per year of age.  (Trust me a minute sometimes feels like forever!)  

Here is the trick, if your child will not just sit in the chair (and many won’t), go behind them and hold them in the chair as if you were a human rope.  In most cases the child will be crying and trying to get up out of the chair, but you calmly hold them in the chair from behind. No eye contact!  Once the timer goes off, you let go of them, go back around so that you make eye contact again, get down to their level, and explain once again that they had to sit in the chair because they (fill in the blank).  

Time out takes time and patience.  If you are consistent about using time out for misbehaving, your child will learn to sit in the chair.  For some it may only take 1 time and others are more head-strong and it may take months of “human rope” before they decide to sit alone. 

Don’t give up!!!  This is a very important lesson for children to learn and you will use time out many times, not only in that little chair, but in other venues as your child gets older.    

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Discipline

Discipline Kids That Are Not Yours?

Daily Dose

Tackling the Toddler Tantrum

Toddlers and tantrums go together like salt and pepper, you typically can't have one without the other.Toddlers are so cute and sweet. They are learning new things every minute. Most of a toddler's new tricks are endearing, lots of video camera moments. But just as quickly as you get the video camera ready to capture a treasured toddler moment, the dark side of toddlerhood appears as a tantrum.

Temper tantrums are a normal part of childhood development. I like to say that they "age appropriate, inappropriate behaviors." The peak age for tantrums is between 15 months and 3 years. A tantrum can look like a scene from The Exorcist so be prepared. Tantrums are usually caused by a toddler's frustration as they seek independence, and are trying to have their physical and emotional needs met, often without a lot of verbal ability (now fast forward to teens!) Meltdowns and tantrums may occur for the littlest thing, and as a parent you may sometimes not even know what triggered the tantrum. Children often have a tantrum when they are tired or hungry. If your child has a tantrum and you are somewhere that you can ignore their behavior, calmly tell them that you will listen when they stop screaming and walk away. Once the tantrum has stopped you may try to distract them by offering an alternative to the demand that started the tantrum in the first place. Don't give into their demands or tantrums, as this will reinforce their behavior. Once the tantrum has ended praise them for regaining control and offer encouragement for handling future outbursts. Tantrums usually do go away, but we can all think of some adults who never learned how to deal with frustration in an appropriate manner. As a parent, remember that while you are guiding your toddler through the temper tantrums it is teaching them lessons for a lifetime.

Daily Dose

Toddlers & Tantrums

1.15 to read

I see toddlers for check ups nearly every day and for both the 15 month and 18 month visit, there are many challenges for parents and the pediatrician (and of course the child). Toddlers are not at what I would call an EASY age.

As you know if you have a toddler, they are quite moody (just wait for teenagers) and they can “stop, drop and roll” into a tantrum in the blink of an eye.  So while I was examining an 18 month old this week ( she is one of three adorable girls), she suddenly became infuriated (her mother and I were really clueless as to what triggered this) and she jumped off of her mother’s lap and fell to the floor kicking and screaming. 

Now, for a first time parent this might be alarming behavior, but for a seasoned mother of three it was really no big deal. Appropriately, we all just ignored her as she laid on the floor and screamed (no, the mother was not worried about germs on the floor either) and we continued our conversation about her child’s less than stellar sleep habits.

After a few minutes her daughter calmed down, the older sisters got her a sticker and she left without a fuss. Her mother had already learned, like we all do, that the best way to stop tantrums is by ignoring them and letting your toddler have some time to “express her emotions” with age appropriate (although inappropriate for older children) behavior.  

Several days later, her mother sent me an email with another picture attached of the same child having yet another tantrum after she found her in her diaper with a sharpie pen happily marking all over herself (the photo above). Of course, the minute she took the marker away her daughter fell to the floor again to express her outrage! So funny that her mom thought to document it and send me another picture.

By the way, she also told me that she had taken practical advice and was working on having her daughter cry herself to sleep and it was working well!  Both the tantrums and sleep were improving by just ignoring her behavior. Back to those laws of natural consequences.  

Daily Dose

TV Show "The Slap"

1:30 to watch

I was intrigued by one of the new “winter replacement shows” on TV, entitled “The Slap”. After watching numerous ads promoting the show, my interest was piqued and I did a bit of research on the background of the show.  Seems that this was a book that was the made into a series in Australia, and now is a new TV drama for the states. (It does have a lot of good actors).

 

If you have not heard/seen anything about the show it is based on the premise that a child is misbehaving (really awfully I might add) while at a party with several families and their children. When this child gets totally out of line and his parents seem to either be unaware of his behavior or ignore the behavior, another parent (also a Dad) slaps the child.  And so it goes....the real question, “is it ever appropriate to physically discipline someone else’s child?”.

So, resounding answer is NO!  But at the same time this has illicit a great deal of discussion about parenting.  While there is no “right way” to parent, most of the parents I asked agreed that they have been in the position when they felt that a friend’s child was behaving inappropriately, and the parents of said child did not seem to react or discipline their child.  What do you do then?

Some say that while the child “deserved a good spanking” by their own parent, they would never physically touch another person’s child. But, sometimes you do find your self either telling the child’s parent to do something, or at least reprimanding the ill behaved child. It is always a slippery slope.

While it seems more and more parents are taking the “I choose to ignore the behavior” approach, or tell me, “I don’t want to use the word NO with my child”, children do need to be disciplined.  Everyone who has been a parent for at least a year should understand this. Children are like “cavemen”, they do not come out of the womb and understand social mores and behavior. We are all innately ego centric, self centered and want our own way....but parents are there to teach children that the world does not revolve around them. We are all in this society together.  That is what parenting is about...while there is not one way to get there, discipline is a must.  

Limits, boundaries, redirection and a clear cut “NO” teaches children how to behave....whether from a parent, a teacher or a family friend. A “slap”....never in my book.

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What can you do if your child stinks?

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