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The challenge of children

Thursday, January, 3, 2019

Let’s face it - kids can be jerks. They’re sticky, they’re loud, and they don’t listen. As caregivers we are responsible for helping mold the leaders of tomorrow, but sometimes it’s hard to look past the sass and goop.  However, under the sticky and occasionally obnoxious exteriors are little hearts of gold that are ready to learn and explore. They want to touch everything, put everything in their mouths, put jackets on by themselves, and test the boundaries of parental patience and we start to feel angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed we forget that it’s all part of the childhood experience.  As caregivers it is OUR responsibility to guide those strong willed kids to find appropriate ways to express themselves. So if you’re a caregiver who finds yourself frustrated with your child’s behaviors here are some little things to try:

1. When working with a little one: 
a. These guys are a lot smarter than we give them credit for so it’s important to get down on their level.
b. Ask them to verbalize why the problem behavior is indeed a problem.
         i. For example: “Taylor, why do you think it’s not a good to choice to hit your brother?”
c. Compliment sandwich: 
         i. Taylor, you’re an awesome big brother, hitting your brother hurts him, I know you can do a great job so lets practice gentle touches!

2. Working with adolescents:
a. Work with your child and identify the problem behavior. Keep in mind that we want to reinforce the message that the behavior, NOT the child, is the problem.
b. Identify appropriate consequences. A consequence only works when the child has the incentive to be relieved after good behavior. Extended time periods on consequences can result in loss of interest and a reduced desire to do well if they don’t think they’re ever going to “get out of the hole.” Remember - a natural consequence is the most effective and it is a natural result to the action. 
c. Compliment sandwich:
         i.“Grace, you’ve always done a great job following your curfew, so when you missed this last one I was worried about you. Next time I need a phone call/text when you’re going to be late otherwise we will need to revisit our agreement for your curfew. I love you and want you to be safe so let’s make it work!”

No matter what the age group, kids want some semblance of control on their lives. It’s hard when you’re surrounded by adults always telling you they know better. So encourage a sense of team work, give your child some control over their lives, and let them know you’re working with them, not against!
-- Sarah Sohail, LPC