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Posts Tagged ‘Child’

Three questions to help guide you when disciplining your child

December 4, 2010 Leave a comment

After disciplining one of the kids, I often catch myself evaluating whether I did it “right”.  Part of that feeling is generated by whether I am following my values or whether I just reacted to the situation without thinking.  Of course, as parents we are human and we will never do things perfectly. We are going to lose our cool from time to time and not respond in ways that we wish we had in retrospect. But it often helps to be prepared for situations.

Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker, authors of Attached at the Heart, discuss the following three questions to ask yourself as you interact with your child.  At times when it is easy to lose your cool, these three questions can help you be effective in your communication with your child:

  1. Am I treating my child the way I would want to be treated (=take your child’s perspective)
  2. Will my words or actions strengthen my connection with my child?
  3. Will my actions give my child an opportunity to learn from this experience?

I think number 3 is especially key.  I remember reading a story once about a boy who broke a glass vase after having been asked repeatedly to be careful not to run around the house. The boy’s father calmly asked his son to help him clean up the broken vase and save money to contribute to a new vase. The father never yelled or punished the boy. It always struck me how, in that story, the child probably learned many lessons but the connection between the boy and his father was never affected. It is not easy to be that reflective and not let emotions of anger or frustration get in the way, but it is something to strive for.

The Myers-Briggs Test for Kids (free version)

November 17, 2010 Leave a comment

While on the topic of testing temperament, I also thought I would mention that there is a free version to test your child’s personality based on Myers-Briggs. It is intended for children 7 to 12 years old and is very fun to do:

http://www.personalitypage.com/cgi-local/build_pqk.cgi

Test Your Child’s Temperament (and it’s free!)

November 16, 2010 2 comments

In addition to reading a lot of books about parenting, I also like to read blogs. So when I find interesting elements, I will share those here as well. If I find the entire blog interesting to following long-term, I add it to my blog roll to the right of the screen.

While browsing tonight, I found an interesting quiz to improve your understanding of your child. Psychologists Alexander Thomas and Stella Chess have come up with nine typical traits that make up a person’s temperament (a few other theories exist as well):

1. Activity level (physical energy)
2. Distractability (tendency to get distracted by events in environment)
3. Intensity (energy level of a positive or negative response)
4. Need for physical routine (predictability in biological functions)
5. Sensory sensitivity (reaction to sensory changes in environment)
6. Initial reaction (approach/withdrawal to a situation)
7. Adaptability (how long a child takes to adjust to a new situation)
8. Persistence (attention span)
9. Usual mood (general tendency toward happy or unhappy demeanor)

You can test your child’s temperament for these 9 traits here:
http://www.readyforlife.org/temperament/quiz

You can also test your own temperament to see how it matches your child’s. The site (http://www.readyforlife.org) also has other interesting information on temperament. Knowing your child’s temperament can help you reframe how you look at your child’s behavior and address their individual needs.

How to get kids to do boring but necessary tasks

November 10, 2010 Leave a comment

The week is getting super busy so I have not done much reading to talk about. I would like to continue posting, so today I am sharing an article that I found some time ago from the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley entitled How to Get Kids to Do Boring but Necessary Tasks

The best part of the article I think is the final conclusion (based on this one and several previous related articles):

“Rewards work in the short-term because they provide us with a nice feel-good Dopamine hit. But unfortunately, rewards tend to have a negative effect on kids’ motivation over the long-term. The answer is to motivate kids to do those not-so-fun things that are necessary in life with the particular kind of encouragement described above. That way, their brains deliver those feel-good chemicals in response to their feelings of mastery and autonomy (intrinsic motivation) rather than in response to receiving a material reward (extrinsic motivation).”

Based on other things I have read, this means rewards are helpful when you want to make a change in a temporary behavior, for example, sleeping without a pacifier. But when it comes to long-term behavior, such as working hard in school or instilling honesty, it is better to motivate using the strategies discussed in the article above.

Parental control and children’s intrinsic motivation

November 7, 2010 4 comments

Since becoming a parent, I have always been fascinated about how parental control and motivation of children are interrelated.  Many mainstream parenting books have touched upon the subject and discuss the spectrum of parenting techniques based on work by Diane Baumrind (authoritarian, authoritative, permissive and everything in between). I happened upon a book a few years ago that delves into this issue in much more detail: The Psychology of Parental Control: How Well-Meaning Parenting Backfires by Wendy S. Grolnick. I am going to share a few items from that book in my next few posts, although I highly suggest reading the book. It discusses many research studies on the topic of parental control and its effects and many of the results are counter-intuitive and incredibly insightful.

For example, the book quotes studies by Dweck et al.(1998), which found that found that when children were praised for being smart after successfully completing an assigned task, they did not enjoy a subsequent, more challenging task as much as kids who had been praised for effort. Furthermore, on the second round, the kids praised for intelligence were more likely to choose the easier problems that would make them look good.  These kids also were more likely to attribute mistakes to a lack of ability and gave up trying more quickly. Those praised for effort, however, tended to pick more challenging problems and also enjoyed the exercise more. The kids praised for effort were also more likely to see intelligence as linked to improvement, rather than a static trait. My own interpretation of the research is that praising for intelligence versus effort results in kids who feel trapped to have to live up to the label, which makes them afraid to fail. The beauty of failure is that you learn that you can get up and try again. Kids who are praised for effort aren’t pressured to perform to an expectation and can relax and focus on learning.

It such a simple concept, but a potentially very important and powerful one.

Negotiating and parenting

November 5, 2010 Leave a comment

About 6 months ago, I was researching the renowned developmental child psychologist Jean Piaget, and I came past this article:

Intellectual and Moral Autonomy: Operational Implications in Child Development. Aids to Programming UNICEF Assistance to Education. June 1984.

While many parts of the paper were great food for thought, I liked this piece the most:

“Children who thus negotiate mutually acceptable solutions day after day develop their ability to think logically because they have to make sense to others if they are to be convincing. This ability to think logically is an important foundation for learning to read, to do arithmetic, and to organise every other kind of knowledge in and out of school.”

I loved this paragraph because it is definitely a core belief of our family to allow negotiation and to always listen to a child’s viewpoint. However, sometimes I am (very) worn down by the negotiating done in our house (especially at the end of the day, simultaneously by all 3 kids!). However, it helps to remember that it is useful developmentally and this reminds me to stick to our belief.

Simple Words

November 5, 2010 2 comments

I picked up a book at the library recently entitled The Book of Nurturing by Richard and Linda Eyre. Having read some of their books before, I knew I would enjoy it.

This past week I shared an excerpt with my husband from the book (as I often do) that struck me as something so simple for parents to do, but which most of us probably have not thought to do. It struck me as so simple and so easy, yet so impactful.

In the excerpt that I shared with my husband, the authors recount running into the daughter of a family they used to know and they were struck by her poise and self confidence. They asked her what parenting techniques she remembers her parents using. And here is the amazing part – she said they did not have much time for parenting methods, but that they made her feel that she mattered. At bedtime, her father would take her face in his hands, look deep in her eyes and tell her that he loved her and that she is his first priority. That he is completely committed to her and the rest of the family and always will be. The girl says she still can recall those words and that they warm her even now.

Of course, action needs to back such words, but what a great way to go to sleep!