10 Simple Calm Down Strategies For Teens

 

Adolescence is a time of major development marked by significant changes.  One change that is often recognized during adolescence is an increase in emotionality.  Some teens can be negative, moody, and difficult to communicate with.  Furthermore, hormonal changes during this period of life can lead individuals to experience strong and sometimes unpredictable changes in affect.

Due to these changes in the emotional lives of adolescents, it becomes increasingly important to help your teenagers learn to appropriately cope with discomfort.  In today’s blog, I write about strategies that teenagers can employ to help themselves calm down when feeling upset.  Feeling upset can come from a variety of stressors (and teens have lots of them!).  Different individuals respond to stress in different ways.  The strategies listed here are intended to be starting points for you and your teenage son or daughter to consider.  It’s important to remember that what works well on one occasion may not be as effective the next time.  As teens continue to develop and mature, they acquire a better sense of how to take control of various emotional states.  As humans, while we can’t always change the way we feel, we can consider our typical responses to stress and engage in strategies that can help us cope with uncomfortable emotions.

10 calm-down strategies for teens:

  1. Talk it out- Unlike younger children who are still learning to use language effectively in a variety10 Calm Down Strategies for Teens of situations, teenagers have increased cognitive and language skills that help them think about their situations and explore potential solutions. If your teenager is upset, it may be helpful to give him/her the opportunity to talk it out.  This can include identifying the problem, discussing why it’s a problem, potential solutions, and other thoughts/feelings/reactions to the current situation.
  2. Draw – Drawing is a form of expression. Sometimes when individuals get very upset, talking (as suggested above) can be challenging.  Instead, it may help some teens to draw a picture of something they enjoy, or to express on paper how they are feeling at the moment.  Some research has suggested that coloring shapes (such as mandalas) can have calming effects on people.
  3. Write – Writing is yet another form of expression. Teenagers can write about whatever they’d like.  This can serve as a distraction as well as an outlet.  It may be helpful for some individuals to keep an ongoing journal or diary and write about their day to day experiences.
  4. Read – If you’re a reader, then you know that reading can be a soothing or calming activity. Some teens, on the other hand, may hate to read.  Remember, there are many things that one can read: books, magazines, comic books, graphic novels, books on tape, etc.
  5. Music – This is one of my personal favorites. The experience of music can touch the emotional side of many individuals.  Teenagers can chose to listen to a song that describes how they feel.  Or perhaps they can listen to calming, instrumental music while lying down.  Playing an instrument can serve as a great feel-better activity as well!
  6. Exercise – Regular exercise is good for us for many reasons, including mental health. This suggestion, however, speaks to exercising as a form of directing angry or upset energy.
  7. Focus on the positives– For example, make a list of things to be grateful for, or of kind acts you noticed today. During times of stress, our outlook is often clouded which makes it easy to only focus on the negatives.
  8. Change up the setting- Don’t get stuck in a rut. This suggestion is a follow-up from number 6.  It’s easy to get caught in a cycle of negative.  So, when needing to calm down, move to a different room, change the TV/music in the room, adjust the lighting, etc.
  9. Take a step back from the situation – Reflect on what is really making you mad. Often times our minds can become clouded with the many stressors of life.  It’s common for one to displace their anger/frustration on someone close to them.  (for example- A sixteen year old got in trouble at school and upon arriving at home “goes-off” on his younger brother for accidentally bumping into him.  This sixteen year old isn’t really upset at his brother, he’s upset at getting in trouble earlier in the day.)
  10. Say what you need (in a respectful yet assertive way) – Teenagers are continuing to build their self-advocacy skills. Advocating for one’s self includes speaking up when necessary and being able to appropriately request what one needs.

Lastly, parents reading this blog are urged to take a close look at your own calm-down strategies and habits.  Be sure to model how to stay in control of yourself even in the face of frustration or upset.  Do you have more ideas on ways for teenagers to calm themselves?  Please share below!


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Is It Bad Behavior or Sensory Processing Disorder?

A behavior is an action that can be observed or measured. This can include eating, running, jumping, laughing, screaming, kicking or punching. With such a broad definition of a behavior it is hard to decide whether a behavior is adaptive or maladaptive. In order to determine this, you must decide what the function of a behavior is.

Functions of a Behavior:

Attention maintainedIs It Bad Behavior or Sensory Processing Disorder?

  • Receives positive and negative attention contingent on the behavior occurring
    • Ex: Mom on the phone/tantrum
  • This means that the child always gets attention immediately after the behavior – good OR bad attention.

Escape maintained

  • Escapes the instruction/task given contingent on the behavior occurring
    • Ex: Time to brush teeth/tantrum
  • This means that the child always gets out of a direction/task after the behavior occurs

Access to tangibles (items)

  • Receives item (toy, electronic, food, etc.) contingent on the behavior occurring
    • Ex: iPad
  • This means that the child always gets some object after the behavior occurs

Sensory maintained

  • Receives a good “feeling inside” contingent on the behavior occurring (A bit different than Sensory Processing Disorder-SPD) This means that the child is not getting much else out of the behavior other than the feeling itself.

If the behavior can be classified by one of the first three categories of behavior, then it can be modified by changing your response to the behavior.

Remember that Sensory Processing Disorder can result in behaviors that are a result of a difficulty or inability to process sensory information. These behaviors may also be unconscious and used as a form of “relief”. For children with sensory integration dysfunction, consider their behavior as defensive, rather than defiant.  They may be pushing themselves to the limit of their processing capabilities, rather than challenging authority.

If it is a “bad behavior”, create a proactive and reactive plan. A proactive plan is one that gives access to the maintaining function of the behavior through the use of an appropriate behavior. A reactive plan is one in which you do not allow the “bad behavior” to access the maintaining function. Here are examples to help identify a proactive plan and a reactive plan for the four categories of behavior.

Proactive and Reactive Plans for Encouraging Good Behavior:

Attention Maintained:

Proactive Plan Teach your child the appropriate way to get your attention, and highly reinforce each time he or she uses the appropriate behavior

Reactive Plan Do not give ANY attention (or at least as possible) after the behavior occurs.

Access to tangibles:

Proactive Plan- Teach your child the correct way gain access to items.  At first you may need to reinforce asking appropriately, but as your child is successful, fade bake reinforcing instances of appropriate requests for tangibles.

Other Ideas:

  • Give your child a 5 minute warning as to putting toys away
  • Let your child know the expectations when going to a store (no toys)
  • Use a timer to indicate a transition from preferred items

Reactive plan Do not allow the child to gain access to the item as a result of an inappropriate behavior.

Escape Maintained:

Proactive Plan create reinforcement system that the child can earn reinforcement for completing tasks.

Other tips:

  • Use first/then (first brush your teeth, then we will read a story)
  • Visual Schedule of tasks to do
  • Help with difficult tasks

Reactive Plan The child needs to follow through with the task given, regardless of the behavior occurring.

Sensory Maintained:

Proactive Plan – Allow the child to access the feeling in a more appropriate way. Reinforce the amount of time child goes without engaging in the behavior. As child is successful with not engaging in the behavior over a short amount of time, expand the amount of time slowly.

Reactive Plan The huge focus is on the proactive plan with sensory maintained behavior

Always give the least amount of attention to the behavior, make sure the child follows through on tasks given, and the behavior doesn’t inadvertently allow the child to gain access to items.

The behavior could turn into a “bad behavior.”

Other tips:  Time outs don’t typically help nor does yelling at the child.

Information for this blog was taken from the webinar: Is It Bad Behavior or Sensory Processing Disorder? Click here or below to watch the full recorded version.


Is it Bad Behavior or SPD?

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

raising a good sport

“Good Game!” Smart Strategies for Raising a Good Sport

“Good game, good game, good game…” The image of teammates lining up at the end of a sporting event to acknowledge one another and give a hand shake is one that is well known to most. Go Hawks! Although the sentiment may not be the same for all players involved at the end of a tough game, it is a ritual that has lived on and is a vital component to being a “good sport”.

Being a good sport may be something that comes easily for some, but others could use a few pointers. As a parent, there are a few things you can do to work with your child in becoming a better sport. In Fred Frankels book, “Friends Forever: How parents can help their kids make and keep good friends,” he outlines some easy steps to helping your child master the art of sportsmanship!

Tips for raising a good sport:

  1. Take the game seriously – when first joining a team or group of friends, it’s important to take the gameStrategies for Raising a Good Sport seriously with the others involved – goofing around could show the kids that you aren’t ready to play by the rules!
  2. Avoid refereeing – instead of arguing about the rules and pointing out mistakes other kids have made, let someone else do it!
  3. Let others have fun, too – If your child is MVP, teach them to let others have a chance to win, too.
  4. Give praise – it’s important to teach (and MODEL) to your child that winning is not the most important thing- it’s having fun! Learning different ways to praise his friends and teammates is vital – things like “good shot”, “nice try” and the ever-popular “good game” are just a few examples!
  5. Suggest a new rule instead of arguing – instead of shouting out when someone does something wrong, suggest that from this point “the white line is out”.
  6. Don’t walk away if you are losing or tired of playing – teaching your child to stay until the end of a round or talking to the teammates about maybe playing something new is important before just walking away!

As a parent, if you are able to watch your child in action at the park or on the field, it can be vital to remind your child of these rules and address them as they are or aren’t happening. If possible, it is ideal to be able to call your child over and talk with them briefly about what you saw and gently remind them with specific examples. Remember, as in learning any new skill, it takes some practice and reminders! Be patient and let the art of sportsmanship live on!

Click here for more tips on raising a good sport!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

calm down strategies

10 Simple Calm Down Strategies For Young Children

Calm down”, “Just relax”, “Cool it”, “Chill out”, “ Take it easy”.  Throughout the years of working with parents and their children, I’ve heard all sorts of ways that parents attempt to help their children gain control of themselves.  As children develop from infants, to toddlers, to preschoolers and on, they constantly improve their understanding of various emotional states.  Early on, children have limited resources and knowledge of how to soothe themselves when upset or uncomfortable.  When it comes to children gaining control over their emotions, parents and 10 Simple Calm Down Strategies for Young Childrencaregivers have complicated task.  This task is two-fold.  The first task (as mentioned in a previous blog about the consequences of coddling) is to give children the space to experience upsets and frustrations inherent in life.  The second (and related) task is to provide the nurturing and support necessary for their children to effectively manage the day-to-day upsets and frustrations.

Below is a list of 10 “simple calm-down strategies” that can be used with children as young as toddler-age.  However, before reading on, beware not to be fooled by the word “simple” in the title.  The task of helping your little ones learn to calm themselves in the face of agitation is not simple at all.  On the contrary, this task involves knowing your child and constantly attending to the evolving relationship between you and your child.  It is important to note that the strategies listed below will not have the same impact on all children.  Likewise, a strategy that works well for your child on one occasion may not work as well a different time.  After reading the remainder of this blog, I encourage you to choose a few strategies that seem promising, try them with your son or daughter, and as always, please share your feedback below.

10 simple calm-down strategies for young children:

  1. Color/draw: This can serve as both a distraction as well as a way to express one’s self. With very young children you may just want to set them up with some paper and crayons.  For children a little older, they can draw a picture of what made them upset, or a picture of a time when they were feeling calm and happy.
  2. Music: Music can be used in many different ways. If your children are more active and need to get out some energy, maybe they can have a 3 minute dance party.  Other ways to use this strategy include listening to a favorite song or playing calming instrumental music.
  3. Drink water or have a snack: Being hungry or thirsty can certainly contribute to our emotional state (no matter how old you are!). Parents are advised to closely monitor the use of food as a way to soothe uncomfortable feelings as this should not become a primary tool for coping with stress.
  4. Count to 10: or 50, or 100.  Counting in itself can be calming because it focuses the mind on something else (which means that the mind isn’t focused on the stress).
  5. 5 deep breaths: (Diaphragmatic breathing or “belly breathing”): True relaxation breathing is a strategy that takes practice. To begin, have your little one take deep breaths so that their stomach is pushed out upon inhale and relaxes during exhale.
  6. Bubbles: Closely tied to strategy number 5, blowing bubbles can help children feel calmer on a few different levels.  First, for very young children, simply seeing and popping bubbles can be distracting enough from whatever originally triggered the upset.  For children a bit older, blowing bubbles can encourage the deep breathing that will help bring about a sense of calmness.
  7. Bear hugs: Your little ones can be encouraged to wrap their arms around their body and give themselves a hug. This can feel comforting for young children and it can also serve as a reminder to be kind to one’s self, especially during times of stress.
  8. Play with putty: Putty, sand, Play-Doh, or similar materials can also serve as effective calming tools. Young children should be supervised while using this strategy to ensure safe use of the materials.
  9. Change the scene: During the throes of a tantrum (or even a less intense state of agitation), kids can become stuck. They can become stuck in negative thinking and stuck in maladaptive behaviors.
  10. Take a break: We all need a break sometimes, and children are no different. If it’s a particular task that became too frustrating (for example, a puzzle), encourage your child to walk away from it and return at a later time.  If your child has been on-the-go all day, you can expect that his/her patience will run out faster than usual.

Last, but certainly not least, consider your own calm-down strategies.  Your children learn so much from you simply by observing.  Take some time for personal reflection, do you yell and bang on the steering wheel when you get stuck in traffic?  Are you quick to raise your voice, or do you remain more even-tempered, despite experiencing agitation?  As with all skills you teach your child, don’t forget to model the behavior you wish to see in your little ones.  If you have more ideas regarding calm-down tips for toddlers or young children, please share below!


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10 Keys to Positive Parenting

Positive parenting, sometimes called positive discipline, gentle guidance, or loving guidance, is simply guidance that keeps kids on the right path. The goals of positive parenting are to raise children who want to behave appropriately, and to raise children who turn into well-adjusted, productive adults. Listed are 10 keys to positive parenting that are easy to follow and incorporate into your family life.

10 Steps to Positive Parenting:

  1. Promote problem solving skills – If your child is faced with a problem, allow them to come up10 Keys to Positive Parenting with solutions to the problem before jumping in to help them.
  2. Say “no” sometimes – It is important for children to learn they can’t always get everything they want, and to be able to wait and/or earn desired items.
  3. Create a daily routine – Children respond very well to structure and routine. Daily routines can make things like getting ready in the morning, dinner, and bedtime a smoother process for everyone.
  4. Be a good role-model – If your kids see you responding by yelling or raising your voice everything something goes wrong, they are most likely going to start responding the same way. Kids often model the behaviors of their parents, so remaining calm in times of crisis will help your children learn do the same.
  5. Avoid spanking or other physical discipline – This can lead to your child being fearful of you and/or teach them that being physical with other is an appropriate response. There are many alternative consequences for negative behaviors other than physical discipline. If your current consequence is not decreasing the behavior, then keep trying different ones until you find a consequence that works.
  6. Be consistent with consequences If you punish a negative behavior one time, but not the next time, that negative behavior is going never go away. Being inconsistent can cause confusion in your child and they will not know what is expected of them. Also, make sure all family members are on the same page and addressing all behaviors in the same way.
  7. Provide natural consequences – This will help your child learn that their behavior can have both positive and negative consequences. If they break a toy, don’t run out and buy them another one. Doing this will teach your child there are no consequences for their behavior. Conversely if they get all A’s on their report card you want to provide some type of reward and praise.
  8. Reward and praise behaviors that you want to see again in the future – For example, if your child cleaned their room the first time you ask, reward that behavior instead of letting it go unnoticed. Rewarding and praising appropriate behaviors will increase the likelihood of these behaviors occurring again.
  9. Follow through – If you ask you child to do something, make sure they do it. If you ask and then never follow through, your child will learn they don’t need to listen to you. Even when your cries or gets upset, it is very important to remain firm and ensure they follow through with what you asked them to do.
  10. Give your child freedom to make their own mistakes and learn from them – It is natural to want to protect your child and prevent them from making mistakes, however it is important for children to learn from their mistakes and take steps to prevent those same mistakes from occurring in the future.


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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Reference: http://www.positive-parents.org/2011/06/positive-parenting-what-why-how_15.html

 

psychological effects of spanking

The Psychological Effects of Spanking and the Most Effective Way to Discipline Instead

The Psychological Effects of Spanking:

Although it may seem like spanking has been the oldest and most common form of discipline, it certainly is not the most effective. In fact, corporal punishment can be physically, emotionally, and cognitively damaging. Spanking can actually increase aggression in children as this form of coping becomes legitimized. Additionally, it has been noted that spanking can lead to an increase in a child’s acting out behaviors and challenges in school. The use of spanking provides a temporary release of anger for the parent and for the time being, terminates the undesired behavior. However, this “consequence” does not eliminate the undesired behavior long term, but instead installs a sense of fear, hostility, and lack of trust in the parental figure.

To better eliminate undesired behaviors while maintaining trust in the parent-child relationship, the parent should adopt a more communicative and calm approach to rectifying negative behavior.

The Most Effective Way to Discipline:

  1. Recognize your feelings about what is happening. If the parent is angry, the response willThe Psychological Effects of Spanking  and the Most Effective Way to Discipline be angry. Engage in deep breathing and step away from the situation, if possible, to calm down. If you cannot step away, simply close your eyes and count backwards from 10 before approaching your child to resolve the conflict.
  1. Remove your child from the scene of the crime and discuss what was incorrect or non-preferred. Explain why the action was inappropriate, unsafe, etc.
  1. Have the child re-enter the situation and implement the discussed correct behavior in the triggering environment to learn how to effectively solve the presented problem.
  1. Depending on the nature of the situation, the use of a time out or loss of privilege can serve to cease the negative behavior.
  1. If there is continued implementation of negative behaviors, consider the use of a motivational incentive program to track progress with challenging behaviors. The use of positive reinforcement to reward good behaviors can more effectively eliminate undesired behaviors.

Teaching kids what was wrong and what is expected to be right does more for a child than spanking as it outlines for the child what they can do differently. Having them re-do behavior is the learned experience that can help the child translate the current experience to future similar situations to truly eradicate negative behavior.

Click here for more tips on using reinforcement and punishment at home.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Frustration-Free Communication With Your Toddler

There’s no question about it, and there’s no reason to feel guilty for thinking it: communicating with a toddler can be frustrating. To repeat: communicating with a toddler can be frustrating. Every parent feels this frustration at some point, as do many toddlers! Toddlers are aware of what they want, but they often have trouble conveying these desires to care givers. It is important to remember: it’s ok! Toddlers acquire language each and every day as they are exposed to new words, and, with that, their vocabulary grows.

During this time of rapid language development, there are a few tips to support and encourage language, while also reducing frustration for BOTH communicative partners.

Tips for Frustration-Free Communication with Your Toddler:

  • Reduce the demand: When a child is trying to explain wants and needs, she may feel pressuredFrustration-Free Communication with Your Toddler to verbalize her choices or may just not feel like talking. That’s ok! If a parent is unable to elicit a verbal response, he or she may try reducing the demand! Accept pointing as an alternative, so long as the child is staying compliant with what is being asked of him.
  • Approximate: When a child is attempting to verbalize with a parent, words may often be distorted or syllables may be missing, resulting in immature speech. This is expected in toddlers, but parents can encourage approximation. For example, if a child attempts to say “door,” but instead says “do,” parents can praise their child for trying and respond with “yes, let’s open the door!” Similarly, if a toddler requests “oo na,” parents can reply, “oh, do you want fruit snacks?”
  • Model: When children are acquiring expressive language, parents should be modeling appropriate requests and verbal turn-taking throughout the day. During play, parents can express “my turn,” to encourage toddlers to initiate taking turns and labeling actions. Parents can also model requests, for example, “I want more, Molly. Do you want more?” in order to encourage toddlers to imitate.
  • Provide choices: Offering choices can help to limit toddler frustration during communication. If choices are finite, toddlers won’t have to search through their growing—but sometimes inadequate—vocabulary to retrieve words. If offered, for example, apples or bananas, toddlers will feel the independence to make the decision that they desire. Simultaneously, parents are able to quickly and efficiently learn what their toddlers want.
  • Gesture: It can be frustrating for both parents and toddlers when language demands are placed. If a toddler doesn’t feel like saying “hi” to Uncle Andrew or giving him a hug that day, accept a wave of the hand or a high-five. These gestures are still intentional communication; that is, they still promote social development. Just encourage socialization and more verbalization the next time!

These tips can help to reduce frustration for both parents and toddlers. If parents find that they are unable to understand 50% of what their toddler is trying to communicate, a licensed speech-language pathologist (SLP) can help! This time with your toddlers should be fun, and SLPs can help to make things easier for toddlers to express their wants and needs. Comment below if you have any other frustration-free communication tips!

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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

ADHD and medication

Medication and ADHD

As a pediatric psychologist, I am often asked the question: “Do you think medications are over-prescribed in children with ADHD?”  The question is a valid one and the numbers are pretty clear: the rates of stimulant medication prescriptions in children rose dramatically in the 1990s (from under 1% to 2.7%) and have been rising at a more modest rate ever since (Zuvekas & Vitiello, 2012).  The most recent rate of prescription in children and adolescents was 3.5% in 2008 (nimh.org).  This sounds like a lot but the truth is, this number is still lower than the 5% prevalence rate of ADHD (American Psychiatric Association, 2014).  What this suggests is that, while the majority of children with ADHD are on medication, there remains a large number who are not.

Medication and ADHD-What We Know:

What we know about stimulant medications is that they can be very effective in treating the coreADHD and medication symptoms of ADHD (inattention, distractibility, and hyperactivity).  What we also know about these medications, which is equally as important, is that they do not do much to impact the long-term course of ADHD (Molina, Hinshaw, Swanson, Arnold, Vitiello, Jensen, Epstein, Hoza, Hechtman, Abikoff, Elliott, Greenhill, Newcorn, Wells, Wigal, Severe, Gibbons, Hur, Houck, and the MTA Cooperate Group, 2009.)  Furthermore, for reasons that remain unclear, the maintenance of medication treatment over time is not well sustained despite the fact that we know ADHD tends to be a chronic condition (Molina et al., 2009 and American Psychiatric Association, 2014).

Other Treatment for ADHD:

This is where additional intervention approaches are vital to supporting children with ADHD and thus far the consensus is a prolonged multi-modal treatment approach that adapts as the child progresses through differing developmental stages.  Such approaches include behavior therapy with the child that focuses on specific skill building and self-awareness, parent training and psycho-education, teacher consultation, and classroom accommodations.  As children enter middle school, it can also be beneficial to spend time with an executive function tutor to begin to lay the foundation for keeping oneself organized, compensate for weaknesses, and feel a sense of control in their lives.

Medication is often an essential part of the treatment plan but to just treat the core symptoms of ADHD, without attention to the functional impairments it creates or the additional psychiatric conditions that often accompany it (learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, and conduct problem), would be remiss.

Click here to listen to Dr. Amy Wolok discuss ADHD and medication in an interview on Bloomberg radio.


ADHD

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

better bedtime routines

A Better Bedtime Routine

Bedtime.  For many adults, bedtime means it’s finally time to shut down and rest.  How peaceful!  However, if you’re a parent of young ones, the simple statement, “It’s time for bed.” likely carries a very different meaning.  In my experience working with families of children of various ages, it is not uncommon for bedtime to be a time of stress, arguments, and frustration among the entire family.  I write this blog not because I have the clear, simple answer for solving the “bedtime problem”, but to inform you of the importance and benefits of having a bedtime routine.

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you know that I strongly believe that there is no one “best” or “correct” way to do things when it comes to raising children.  Consider the individual needs of your family and children as you read on.  While this is not intended to be a prescriptive, step-by-step “how-to” guide, considering the information below can help you instill healthy sleep habits in your children and ease the transition into bedtime.

Building a Better Bedtime Routine:

  • Yes, you have to go to sleep!better bedtime routines
    • Many individuals have a false understanding of what exactly happens when our bodies go to sleep.  Although we think of sleep as a time to shut off, our body and brains are hard at work during sleep, especially during childhood.  Sleep is a critical activity for healthy brain development beginning at infancy.   As infants grow into children and adolescents, sleep remains an important aspect of growth and development.  According to The National Sleep Foundation, “sleep is an active period in which a lot of important processing, restoration, and strengthening occurs.”  The experts go on to state, “Our bodies all require long periods of sleep in order to restore and rejuvenate, to grow muscle, repair tissue, and synthesize hormones.”
    • Lack of sleep can contribute to increased difficulty problem-solving, controlling emotions, paying attention, learning, and effectively communicating one’s needs.
  • How much sleep is needed?
    • While adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, one-year-olds need roughly 11 to 14 hours, school age children between 9 and 11, and teenagers between 8 and 10. (sleepfoundation.org)
  • OK, so sleep is important. But bedtime is always such a challenge!
    • Have routines- When things are predictable they are less stressful. Having a before-bed routine will reduce stress and promote healthy sleep (falling asleep easily, staying asleep throughout the night, and waking up refreshed).  For some, it may be helpful to have a visual schedule.  Activities like reading a book, brushing teeth, and bathing can be easily depicted through pictures.
    • During the hour before bed, have your child engage in a calming activity. This will help encourage the body’s transition to sleep mode.  Realize that there is no one perfect calming activity for all children.  For some it may be playing with Legos, others it’s drawing, reading, or writing.
    • In continuation of the above bullet point, it is recommended to avoid certain activities before bed. Participating in activities that are stressful or exciting are likely to make the transition into bedtime more difficult.

What do bedtime routines look like in your home?  Do you have other tips to share with readers regarding children’s bedtime routines?  Your comments are welcome below!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

the consequences of coddling

The Consequences of Coddling

coddling

What’s happening above?  Why did it used to be the student’s fault for bringing home a poor grade?  Why today is it the teacher’s fault if the student brings home an F?  One way to understand this shift is to consider the idea that many children today are coddled by their parents.  Oxford Dictionaries defines coddle as “treat in an indulgent or overprotective way”.  So, the question is, what constitutes “indulgent” or “overprotective”? What are the consequences of coddling?

Parenting is tricky, we know this.  Often it is a challenging task to find the balance between pushing our children to realize their full potential, and providing them with a caring, nurturing environment so they can experience unconditional acceptance and love.  The ways parents raise their children is closely connected to the parent’s culturally-embedded goals for childrearing.  In the United States, goals of autonomy and independence are generally highly valued.

What are the Effects of Coddling?

As children develop from infants to preschoolers, to young children, and then adolescents, they continuously acquire and refine their abilities to meet life’s challenges.  Because of this, the amount of support or “protection” needed from parents also evolves.  If parents provide too much instrumental support by not allowing their children to fall, or avoiding challenging tasks all together, they are implicitly sending a message that their child is unable to handle difficulties.  While I’m certain that even these parents are well-intended, creating such an invalidating environment may be accomplishing the opposite of their intended goals (according to, Hardy Power and Jaedicke et al. (as cited in DeHart et al., 2004)).

In general, parenting characterized by warmth, support and a reasoning approach to discipline is consistently associated with such positive child characteristics as cooperativeness, effective coping, low levels of behavioral problems, strongly internalized norms and values, a sense of personal responsibility and high levels of moral reasoning. (p. 428)

As readers are already well aware, disappointments, frustrations, and discomforts in life cannot be avoided.  The trick when it comes to raising children is not to sidestep such experiences all together, but rather to help our young ones learn to manage these upsets effectively.  Remember, there is no one right way to support, encourage, and nurture your children.  My hope is that after reading this, you are armed with additional considerations to guard against coddling your little ones.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Sources: DeHart, G. B., Sroufe, L.A., & Cooper, R.G. (2004). Child Development: Its nature and

course (5th ed., p 411-441). New York: McGraw-Hill