Saturday, September 4, 2010

Adding one more to the family mix...

As I answer the following question, I am sure you are going to ask yourself, "what does a teacher know about adding a sibling to a family?" Well, although I might not have kids of my own, I do know how to spot jealousy and how to ease a child a way from "acting out" to get more attention. 

The other day I went to a friends house and visited their son and 2-month year old baby. My friend asked me, "How do I get my son to stop acting out against me and my husband? He is so sweet and helpful when it comes the baby and helping, but has reverted back to some of his old tendencies."

I want to say that his behavior is completely natural, and it is just a phase (it might feel like it is going to last forever, but it won't)! I promise! He is adjusting to having a another living-being in the household and realizing that he is no longer the center of attention. I am sure you are adjusting to having another person to take care of and having less sleep. However, you have more coping skills to deal with the new situation (you've been around longer). Sometimes the way little kids express their wants and needs are to "act out." This my be by hitting you, throwing more tantrums, not using the potty (even though they are potty trained), or countless other ways. 

Here are some solutions to help with the problem

  • Make a special time each day that is just for the two of you. (Mom/Dad and Son) Activities could include snuggling, reading a good book, swinging on the swings, etc. 
  • Give your child feeling words to help them express themselves without hitting or throwing tantrums.  Before your child swings into a full episode, you can say "It looks like you are... (feeling word), I can see how you would feel that way, right now I need you to.... and then when you are ready we can...) These words don't fit in all situations, but hopefully they are a good start. 
  • Create a marble jar. Every time they do a desired behavior add a marble to the jar (going potty in the bathroom, using a fork/spoon to eat, getting dressed, any desired behavior). When the marble jar is filled, they can do the agreed upon activity. (Go get ice cream, go to the pond to feed the ducks, go on a family bike ride, something your child really enjoys and something that you can live with is the key!
Just remember "acting out" is their way of saying "I need more attention." So if you can create situations where they are receiving positive attention, the problem will no longer exist. Be Aware... if you are giving them attention for their negative behavior they are going to continue to do the behavior that gives them more attention. When your child throws a tantrum or hits, put them in time out, tell them why, and walk away. When they are calm and/or a few minutes have passed. Go back explain why they got a time out, say I love you and give a great big hug!

Parents out there, what has worked for you?

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