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7 Tips to Stay Cool when Your Child Acts Up

(Taken from ahaperenting.com)

 “Let it go. The moment you feel your hackles rising, let it go. If you let it upset you, what follows is anger, and to quote Yoda, that leads to the dark side…. Notice … and interrupt it. Find your own way of accepting things with grace.”  — Steve Errey 

All parents get angry at their children. There’s nothing wrong with feeling anger; anger is a message. The problem is that we can’t hear that message clearly while we’re angry. In the heat of the moment, we’re in fight, flight or freeze. And when we’re in “fight,” our child looks like the enemy. So we think the message is that we should vanquish the enemy — our own child!

In fact, the message when your child gets upset is that he needs your help, even if he’s being totally difficult. Maybe we need to put him to bed an hour earlier, or connect with him more, or simply make it safe enough for him to cry and show us all those tears and fears that are making him act out. But we can’t understand or act on that message when we’re triggered. Staying cool is essential to actually solving the problem, instead of making it worse.

So how can you stay cool when your kid acts up?

1. Notice that you’re getting annoyed. 

Sometimes, we don’t notice until we’re already on the dark side. But usually we can see our annoyance building, because we start gathering kindling. What do I mean? We start reviewing all the reasons we’re right and our child is an ungrateful brat. Once you start gathering kindling, it’s hard to avoid the firestorm. So as soon as you notice that your mind chatter about your child is negative, STOP. Drop your agenda (Just temporarily.) Take a deep breath to stop the runaway train of your anger.

2. Use your inner pause button. 

Even if you’re already well down the wrong path and you’re yelling, STOP. Take a deep breath and hit the pause button. Close your mouth, even in mid-sentence. Don’t be embarrassed; you’re modeling good anger management. Save your embarrassment for when you have a tantrum.

3. Take Five. 

Don’t try to address the issue with your child while you’re angry.  Calm down and get re-centered so you can actually hear the message behind your anger. Are you frightened about your child’s behavior?  Resentful toward your partner?  Exhausted and stressed out so you’re over-reacting to your child’s normal age appropriate behavior?

4. Feel the emotions in your body. 

I’m not suggesting that you swallow your anger, just that you resist acting on it. Instead, notice the anger in your body. Really feel the tightness in your belly, that suffocating feeling in your throat. Breathe into those tense places. As you simply open to the feelings in your body, you’ll feel them beginning to shift and melt. That’s the secret of mindfulness — once we sit with those emotions, just accepting them with compassion, they melt away.

5. Shift your state. 

Now, reframe your thoughts about the situation and you’ll find that you have different feelings. If you’re thinking that your child needs to be taught a big lesson right now, you won’t be able to calm down. If you remind yourself that she’s acting like a child because she IS a child, and that she needs your love most when she seems to deserve it least, you’ll be willing to shift out of anger.

6. Try a Do-Over. 

Tell your child that you’re sorry you got so upset, and the two of you are going to try a Do-over. This time, stay calm. Empathize. Listen to your child’s feelings and try to see things from her perspective. Resist the urge to blame, and instead look for solutions that work for both of you. If your child has damaged something — including a relationship — ask her what she might do to repair it. But always start by listening to her upset and empathizing.

7. Practice, Practice, Practice. 

I’m not going to lie to you. This is really hard work, one of the hardest things anyone can do. If you’re used to flying off the handle, you’ll be teaching your brain new patterns of self-discipline. That takes practice. Luckily, every time you resist acting when you’re angry, you’re rewiring your brain, so managing your anger gets easier every time you do it.

Sure, you’ll lose it sometimes. But if you just keep practicing, holding yourself with compassion and noticing the emotions, you’ll find that even when your child acts up, you’re more able to stay cool. At some point, you’ll realize that you rarely lose your temper any more. You’ll still have childish behavior as long as you live with children, but your reaction will be different. A lot less drama, and a lot more love.

 

Dinner: 30 Minutes to a More Connected Family

“Surrounded by the people who matter, gazing into the faces we love, we count our blessings and share our burdens, reliving the daily dramas of missed buses and skinned knees. We raise jelly glasses and champagne flutes, toasting accomplishments in classrooms and boardrooms. The table is where we mark milestones, divulge dreams, bury hatchets, make deals, give thanks, plan vacations, and tell jokes. It’s also where children learn the lessons that families teach: manners, cooperation, communication, self-control, values. Following directions. Sitting still. Taking turns. It’s where we make up and make merry. It’s where we live, between bites.”

-Doris Christopher

You’ve probably heard that having dinner together as a family is a good thing for your kids, but you may not realize that it could change your child’s life. Dinner is the best predictor we have of how kids will do in adolescence. The more frequently kids eat dinner with their families, the better they do in school, and the less likely they are to get involved with drugs or alcohol, suffer depression, consider suicide, or become sexually active during high school.

Why? Maybe because families who eat together talk more, which helps them stay connected and build better relationships.

  • Maybe because parents who show up to eat with their kids are more likely to express their love constructively in other ways, too, in the form of both attention and supervision.
  • Maybe because families who offer kids more structure are more likely to keep kids attending to their homework as well as out of trouble.
  • Maybe because dinner transforms individual family members into a “group,” which gives parents more clout to rival the power of the peer group.
  • Or maybe because children, even more than the rest of us, need something to count on every day, the tangible security of belonging and being nurtured that is represented by the ritual of sharing food with those we love.

Whatever the reason, dinner is a pretty easy insurance policy to build into your home life. If you’re too busy to have dinner as a family on a regular basis, it’s worth re-examining why, given how important it is.

“What’s a regular basis?”

The research shows that the more meals together, the better, meaning that two is much better than none, and four is much better than two. Obviously, it’s ideal if both parents — when they live together — can have dinner with their kids every night. But we don’t live in an ideal world, and by definition no human is an ideal parent. So we do what we can, which can often mean one parent holding down the fort at many weeknight dinners. That gives Friday, Saturday and Sunday a celebratory tone as everyone sits down to savor the meal together.

“I eat with the kids every night, but my husband can’t get home till later. Does that matter?”

Sometimes that’s the best a family can do during the week, and you make it work. But it becomes all the more important that the whole family have time together on the weekend. There’s something magical for building family identity when all members of a household share meals together, at least some of the time.

“What about kids’ sports schedules that keep them away at dinner?”

Once a week of dinners on the run is inconsequential, but if conflicting schedules mean your family can’t sit down at least a few times during the week for dinner, it’s worth some creative thinking. Can the schedule be changed so that you all eat earlier or later? Can a child switch to after-school rather than evening activities? Can you all at least gather together for fruit and tea before bedtime so that you get some family time that evening?

“We eat together, but we eat in front of the TV. Does that count?”

Does it make you feel more connected to your family? Not as much as a conversation, I suspect, so the short answer is No. It’s challenging to make dinner fun and relaxing when everyone is pressured and tired, so it can be a lot easier to turn on the TV at the end of a long day than to interact with your kids. But eating in front of the TV builds your relationship with the screen, not with each other.

“I’m so wiped out at the end of the day that I don’t have the energy to make dinner into anything special.”

After work and sports schedules, parental exhaustion is the single biggest obstacle to family dinners. The secret is to minimize the cooking, and to nurture yourself as well as your kids. This should be a time for everyone in the family to recharge and reconnect, not just another obligation for you.

We lose an important opportunity to check in and connect if we lose dinner, especially if we work away from our kids all day. Dinner seems so important to me as a foundation for family culture that I would rather think of it as a cherished family tradition, and skimp somewhere else, if I have to.

“What about date night?”

While your kids are young, you may want to sit down with them for Saturday night dinner before the babysitter arrives and you head out for an evening with your partner. Of course, if you have dinner as a family most of the other nights of the week, this won’t feel necessary. And if you don’t, then consider this first part of your Saturday evening “date night” with your kids.

“As my kids have gotten older, they don’t want to have dinner with us on the weekend.”

Again, if you have dinner as a family most other nights, you can feel comfortable exempting Saturday night as “party night” for everyone. But if you don’t, then your family needs the connection time — even if your tweens and teens don’t know that!

Naturally, as your kids get older, they’ll be the ones having date night. But if you open your doors to your kids’ friends for dinner, tweens and even teens often enjoy a delicious free, home-cooked dinner — and are willing to engage in an interesting discussion, if you don’t embarrass them — before they head out to a movie or party. That may seem hard to believe, but my children’s friends have commented that they love hanging out at our house because the conversations are always so interesting. With some discussion ideas in mind and a little energy, you can create a dinner hour that will have the teens almost wishing they didn’t have to head out. (I said almost.)

How do you create a dinner hour that’s so nurturing that everyone in the family — including you — looks forward to it? Here are 15 ideas to get you started. 

  1. Put on your own oxygen mask first.

If you walk in the door from work exhausted and have to rush to get dinner on the table, you won’t have any internal resources left by the time you sit down. Try putting out healthy snacks (carrots and hummus, cheese and crackers) as the “first course” while you take ten minutes to wind down. After that, you’ll be more relaxed while you get dinner on the table and sit down with those people you adore.

  1. Consciously cultivate sacred space.

There’s nothing magical about exhausted parents, cranky kids, and take-out food. But with minimal effort, we can create a daily, short but restorative, celebration of family, which offers refuge from the trials and tribulations of ordinary life. Some families do this by lighting candles, which seems to set the time apart and make it special. Some say a short blessing, which may or may not be religious in nature, but reconnects us with our gratitude for simply being alive and together.

The most important component, though, is the attitude of celebration and appreciation. Parents will need to set the tone by overlooking trivial issues like table manners and whose turn it is to (fill in the blank), and focusing instead on what really matters. Which isn’t, by the way, the food.

  1. The food is not the point.

I’m considered a health food nut by my family, and not a day goes by without my urging more vegetables on them. But I try to remember that the point of sitting down to dinner is to connect with each other, not what we eat. I never knock myself out with an elaborate meal on a weeknight when it’s just our family eating. There are plenty of easy, healthy, kid-pleasing options out there, and my advice would be to eat simple, and save your energy for making the dinner table pleasant, rather than cooking a meal that leaves you even more exhausted at the end of a long day.

How simple can you eat? Your call, and my admiration to the chefs out there, but I rely heavily on spaghetti with sauce from a jar and salad from a bag (ok, cut up some red pepper and cucumbers), organic chili from a box (accompanying healthy corn muffins from a mix always makes this a crowd-pleaser), and scrambled eggs with raw carrots out of the bag. Make soup on the weekend and eat it on Monday and Wednesday. And of course, there’s always pizza and take-out. The point is that decent nutrition does not require a long prep time, and stressing about the food sabotages what you really want, which is connection with your family.

  1. Turn off the TV and radio.

Some families resist the temptation to turn on the TV during dinner by situating the TV where it can’t be seen from the table. Many impose a rule that no one answers phone calls, even if Mom or Dad gets an important work call, and turn off cell phones so they can’t be heard. Protect this special time with your family from interruptions. As the U.S. President said recently about prioritizing dinner with his daughters, the world will still be there in half an hour, even if you’re the President.

  1. Establish fun rituals and routines.

Some families take turns choosing appropriate background music or being in charge of dessert. Some rotate who says the blessing or chooses the discussion topic. In some families, Tuesday is pizza night and Friday is family game night or the Jewish Sabbath. It’s the fact that you always do the same thing that reinforces the ritual aspect, and creates the feeling that this is home, and family, and regardless of the day’s difficulties, life is good.

  1. Use blessings to create a sense of gratitude and connection.

For some parents, saying grace is a time-honored tradition they wouldn’t think of overlooking; for others it feels foreign and artificial.

I often hear “I don’t believe in God, so we don’t say blessings at dinner!” But blessings are not about God, necessarily. Blessings are about us: our gratitude that we are able to sit down to a meal when others are hungry, our appreciation of each other, our honoring the person who prepared the meal and the bounty of nature that produced it, our awareness that in this moment we have everything we truly need. Blessings don’t have to be traditional prayers to “God.” Blessings are a way of marking the meal as a sacred time together, a way of connecting us together in the deliciousness of shared appreciation. You might try holding hands while each person says one thing they’re thankful for.

  1. Make the discussion interesting for everyone,

rather than just adults talking about their jobs. Some families rule job talk off-limits, but I personally think there’s much for kids to learn by hearing sometimes about their parents’ days as well as their own. We usually start with a quick check-in round of “So how was school/work today?,” which often leads us into a topic. Many families formalize this with “rose and thorn” in which each family member shares the best and worst of their day.

You might then explore something that was raised in the check-in (“Alice said she has to choose her Science Fair Project. What are you considering?”) or talk about an upcoming family decision, such as what to do during the school spring break. Ask kids their opinions on the issues of the day, or ask them for input on a decision you have to make. Pose ethical problems that don’t have easy answers and let different family members tell how they would approach them and why. Share a poem you stumbled onto today, or a mistake you made, or a decision you have to make. Jokes can be fun, but be careful, because kids’ humor can easily degenerate into a dinner you won’t enjoy.

  1. But what do we talk about?

Write possible agenda items on index cards and put them in a kitchen drawer, so if you’re just too tired to think some evenings you can still have a rewarding and re-energizing discussion by just pulling out a topic. Some ideas:

  • Name five reasons you’re glad to be alive.
  • If we could go anywhere we wanted on vacation where would you choose, and why?
  • Tell each person in the family why you’re glad they’re part of the family.
  • If I could have a conversation with anyone in history, it would be _____, and I would want to ask ______.
  • What is your biggest fear?
  • What would you do if all the other kids were planning to cheat on the final and you knew that not doing so would lower your grade? How common do you think cheating is at your school?
  • What’s the best thing about our family?
  • What do you think are the most important qualities of a good parent?
  • What do you think makes a happy family?
  • What do you think makes a person popular? Are wealthier kids more popular? Kids who mature faster? Are you popular? Why or why not? Would you like to be?
  1. Make sure everyone participates.

Families who have already created a culture of discussion will have an easier time with this than those who introduce it to older kids, but don’t give up. Kids who don’t speak up can often be coaxed to talk by asking them specific questions about their interests. “What makes rap music special to you?” will be more effective than “How was school today?”

Closed-mouth teens whose families haven’t made a habit of dinner table conversation may take special wooing. Be prepared for some wise-cracking (“The most interesting thing about me is how corny my family can be!”) and keep your sense of humor, and your teen will probably engage on his or her own terms. Facilitating a positive discussion can be a challenge for parents, but is infinitely worth it for the communication and closeness it fosters in your family.

  1. Listen.

Middle School teacher Michelle Trujillo, in her book Why Can’t We Talk?: What Teens Would Share if Parents Would Listen, says that tweens and teens want desperately to talk to their parents about things that are worrying them, but parents don’t listen.

Don’t offer advice unless asked, and your kids will be more willing to bring up what’s bothering them. Kids often gain insight into solutions just by talking. Your kids won’t always say things in ways that are easy for you to hear, but try to see it from their perspective. Bite your tongue or cover your mouth (literally, if you’re like me) if you need to, so that you don’t interrupt, and hear them out. Breathe deeply so you stay calm. If a topic feels inappropriate for the dinner table, thank the person who brought it up, and ask if you can talk about it more after dinner, privately. Just keep reminding yourself how lucky you are to have kids who are willing to talk with you, and breathe!

  1. Protect the dinner table as a nurturing, happy, safe space.

Defer unpleasant topics. Kids who begin to squabble can be asked to come up with five things they really love about the sibling with whom they’re fighting. Adults who start to complain about their day can be asked to add “and my life is blessed” to any complaint and fined a dollar toward ice cream cones on Sunday evening. If you’ve tolerated a family culture where teasing is allowed — which seems to be the norm among many families with teenage boys — proclaim the dinner table a safe space exempt from comments that hurt another’s feelings. (You might also want to re-examine the role of teasing in your household culture to make sure it’s benign;  The key is cheerful, relaxed, and kind parental leadership so that everyone’s contribution is valued and no one feels criticized.

  1. Agree on which nights you will all eat together and make it a big deal to miss those nights.

Most families can’t eat together every night. Sometimes an adult is out of town, or a child has a school event. Some parents try to keep one night as date night to keep their bond with each other fresh, and many families routinely socialize on Saturday nights or have Sunday dinner with extended family. But you can create the expectation that on certain nights, everyone comes home for dinner. Start small, if you need to, with one or two nights a week. Even those limited by a long commute or odd hours can often manage a night or two, and those nights become extra-special for everyone.

  1. Play with your food.

Or at least play with your family while you’re eating your food. Creating a sense of fun and play at the dinner table is the single best way to make everyone look forward to that time together, and sets a wonderful tone in your house. Laughter really is the best medicine after a grueling day.

How? Impersonate each other. Talk in rhyme. Guess what each person’s mashed potato sculpture is. Make every comment refer to food (“I’m fried.” “Guess your day wasn’t a bowl of cherries?”) Have a joke contest, where everyone is required to bring a joke to the table, which once a week you add to your family jokebook.

  1. Work toward having everyone help get the dinner onto the table.

Once the kids get used to the idea, the group effort can be fun, and of course it’s a great learning experience for them. Most important, it changes the dynamic of one adult (usually the woman) serving everyone else. Teenagers, especially, often enjoy the power of deciding what the family eats one night a week; learning to cook is good practice for when they go solo. Obviously, this won’t happen every night, and busy weeknights are the hardest because kids have homework, but you might want to talk as a family about whether everyone could help get dinner on the table one night a week to start. And you can start small, with everyone gathering to set the table together and get the food onto the table. In many families where only one person takes responsibility for cooking, that person is exempt from clearing and clean-up.

  1. Celebrate whenever possible.

Make a big deal out of birthdays, accomplishments of any kind, seasonal changes, and famous people’s birthdays (what a great opportunity to talk about why you admire Ghandi, or Harriet Tubman!) There’s always something to celebrate. Just making it through each day intact as a family is worth celebrating!

– Dr Laura Markham | http://www.ahaparenting.com

Why an assessment can be the best gift you can give your child

Many parents hear the word ‘assessments’, but are unsure of what it entails.

There are various assessment processes which are based on the nature of the assessment. Each assessment evaluates a certain area of functioning, for example scholastic or cognitive. At Budding Minds, we spend a significant amount of time conducting the assessment and analysing the results in order to produce an overview of the child’s current level of functioning and what their optimal functioning could be.

An assessment is valuable because it provides a clearer understanding of your child’s current level of functioning in terms of their strength and growth areas. When planning interventions, we take into account a child’s strengths, and how these can be used to help their growth areas. We believe that children can be empowered to develop to the best of their potential when the appropriate interventions are in place. Interventions are therefore catered for the specific needs of your child, with a focus on the home and school environment.

This means that assessments are not only for children who experience barriers to learning but are for all children. Assessments can help all children because they provide information on how to better promote their learning environment so that they can reach their full potential.  Assessments can positively impact the learning environment, as children will have all the tools necessary to succeed because you and your child will know how their brain learns. Assessments can therefore be one of the many gifts you can give to your child.

For more information about the types of assessments we offer, visit our assessment page. To see what other services we offer, visit Services on www.buddingminds.org.

A Parent’s Guide to Play Therapy

What is play therapy?

  • Play therapy is individual intervention, which means the child has their own private space and someone who is there just for them. It offers the opportunity to work through difficulties through play, as well as talking. In using play, one engages the natural means through which children learn and express many of their feelings.
  • Therapy is not magic. It involves work for the child and the support of the parents. It can help to loosen the grip of emotional difficulty and lighten the weight on a child’s ongoing development. When needed, therapy is one among many gifts that parents can give a child who is struggling with his/her emotional world.

What is my child discussing in sessions?

  • You will naturally be curious about your child’s sessions and progress. The time in the play room is a special private time for the child and children should not feel that they need to report back to anyone, even parents. This can be difficult, but try to refrain from quizzing your child about a session.
  • Like all clients, children need confidentiality. You will receive some feedback, but your child also needs his/her own therapy space. It is likely that you will have to continue to support therapy, without knowing exactly what is going on in the sessions. You will need to trust the therapist.

Practical considerations

  • Play therapy is likely to mean a significant, fairly long term, financial, practical and emotional commitment on your part. This commitment should be thought about at the beginning. Sometimes the therapist will agree to a limited number of sessions, after which a parent feedback will take place and ongoing therapy will be discussed. For many children, a longer or more open-ended approach is recommended for the child to benefit from therapy.
  • Things may get worse before they get better. The child may be working through difficult feelings and sometimes it takes courage to ride this out.
  • Part of what is helpful about play therapy is the continuation of the relationship with the therapist and the reliability and regularity of the sessions. Therapy will take place once a week for 45 minutes. It is important for the child to arrive on time. This is a significant way in which parents can contribute to the therapy working well, otherwise the child may feel short-changed or that the therapist is not someone who is available for them.
  • If you have questions or concerns, rather arrange a meeting with the therapist than try to deal with it just before or after the child’s session. Talking about issues ‘over the child’s head’ may be upsetting for the child and there is often limited time between sessions.
  • Ongoing emotional assessment in the therapeutic process will result in an understanding of when therapy should be terminated. Termination of therapy is planned and may take place over a number of weeks. It is helpful for children to know how many more sessions there are before the goodbye session.
  • Therapists understand that parents have far more influence over their child than they do. That is why parent feedback sessions are important. An improvement in, or a continued good relationship between yourself and your child is a very much desired outcome of therapy.

The Difference Between Sensory Processing Issues and ADHD

When doing assessments, we often find that children are diagnosed with ADHD when in fact it is a sensory processing issue. Have a look at the article below to learn more about sensory processing issues and ADHD and how to distinguish between the two.

_________________________________________________________________

By Peg Rosen

Constantly fidgeting and squirming. Invading personal space. Melting down in public. These can be signs of both ADHD and sensory processing issues. While they’re different issues, they have some overlap and can occur together. This table breaks down some of the key differences between ADHD and sensory processing issues.

 

ADHD Sensory Processing Issues
What is it? biological condition that makes it hard for many children to concentrate and sit still. An over- or undersensitivity to sensory input such as sights, sounds, flavors, smells and textures.
Signs you may notice ·       Seems daydreamy or confused

·       Appears not to listen

·       Is prone to tantrums and meltdowns due to lack of impulse control

·       Struggles with organization and completing tasks

·       Gets easily bored unless an activity is very enjoyable

·       Has trouble following directions

·       Struggles to sit still during quiet activities

·       Is impatient and has trouble waiting his turn

·       Is constantly moving

·       Fidgets and needs to pick up and fiddle with everything

·       Interrupts people and blurts things out inappropriately

·       Doesn’t understand the consequences of his actions

·       Plays roughly and takes physical risks

Oversensitivity:

·       Has trouble focusing; can’t filter out distractions

·       Dislikes being touched

·       Notices sounds and smells that others don’t

·       Has meltdowns, flees or becomes upset in noisy, crowded places

·       Fears for his safety even when there’s no real danger

·       Has difficulty with new routines, new places and other change

·       Shifts and moves around because he can’t get comfortable

·       Is very sensitive to the way clothing feels

Undersensitivity:

·       Constantly needs to touch people or things

·       Has trouble gauging others’ personal space

·       Seem clumsy or uncoordinated

·       Shows a high tolerance for pain

·       Plays roughly and takes physical risks

Possible emotional and social impact Trouble following social rules can make it hard to make and keep friends. Frequent negative feedback for acting out or not paying attention can impact self-esteem and motivation, making a child feel he’s “bad” or “no good.” Feeling anxious in or avoiding crowded and noisy places can make it hard to socialize. Peers may avoid or exclude an undersensitive child because he plays too roughly or doesn’t respect their personal space.
Professionals who can help ·       Pediatricians, developmental behavior pediatricians, nurse practitioners, child psychiatrists: Diagnose ADHD and prescribe ADHD medication. Psychiatrists will look for other issues like anxiety.

·       Clinical child psychologists: Provide behavior therapy to teach kids skills to manage their actions and interactions. Provide cognitive behavioral therapy to help with emotional issues related to their ADHD. Diagnose ADHD and mental health issues that may co-occur, such as anxiety. May also evaluate for learning issues.

·       Pediatric neuropsychologists: Diagnose ADHD and common mental health issues that may co-occur, such as anxiety. May also evaluate for learning issues.

·       Educational therapists and organizational coaches: Work on organization and time management skills.

·       Occupational therapists: Help kids learn coping skills for challenging situations. Provide sensory integration therapy that helps kids respond to sensory input in an appropriate way.

·       Clinical child psychologists: Provide behavior therapy to teach kids skills to manage their actions and interactions. Provide cognitive behavioral therapy to help with emotional issues related to their sensory processing issues. Diagnose ADHD and mental health issues that may co-occur with sensory processing issues. May also evaluate for learning issues.

·       Developmental behavioral pediatricians: Prescribe medication for anxiety to relieve panic responses.

What the school may provide Accommodations under a 504 plan or an IEP. Child might be eligible for an IEP under the category of “other health impairment.” Examples might include:

·       Extended time on tests, including standardized tests

·       A seat close to the teacher and away from distractions

·       A larger, more private work space to get work accomplished

·       A signal, nonverbal cue or picture card to get the child’s attention

·       Long assignments broken into smaller chunks

·       Worksheets with fewer questions

·       Written or picture schedules for daily activities

·       Movement breaks

Accommodations and/or occupational therapy, under a 504 plan or an IEP. Child might be eligible for an IEP under the category of “other health impairment,” especially if he also has ADHD. Examples of accommodations might include:

·       A seat away from distracting sources of noise

·       Sensory breaks

·       Physical activity to help regulate emotions, behavior and need for movement

·       Noise-canceling headphones or ear buds to reduce stimulation in busy places like assemblies

·       A chair that is a good fit for him so he can put his feet flat on the floor and rest his elbows on the desk

·       An inflated cushion or pillow so he can both squirm and stay in his seat

What you can do at home ·       Set rules and stick to them to help your child think before acting.

·       Create daily routines and rituals to provide structure.

·       Break tasks into smaller chunks.

·       Use visual prompts like checklists, visual schedules and sticky notes to help your child focus, stay organized and get things done.

·       Allow for breaks during homework and study time.

·       Create an organized homework and study area.

·       Help organize his backpack and check that it’s cleaned out regularly.

·       Give advance warning about changes in the schedule and explain what he can expect in new situations.

·       Track your child’s behavior patterns so you can anticipate tough situations for him.

·       Prepare your child for social gatherings or new situations so he knows what to expect.

·       Keep earplugs or ear buds handy.

·       Find outlets for your child’s energy such as exercise routines, sports or music.

·       Teach your child about dangerous situations he may not be sensitive to, such as bitter cold and burning heat.

·       Buy divided plates if he’s bothered when different foods touch.

·       Install and use dimmer switches or colored bulbs to modify lighting.

·       Shop with your child so he can pick out clothes that are comfortable for him.

·       Look for tagless, seamless clothes in super-soft fabrics.

 

Anger Management For Kids: Tips For Dealing With Explosive Children

– The Huffington Post Canada  |  By Alyson Schafer

Most parents are equipped to get through the inevitable tantrums and meltdowns of little kids. As children grow they gain patience, develop more skills, learn problem solving and then low and behold the tantrums subside. Or they don’t.

For some children the anger or explosiveness only gets worse as they age. It was one thing when they were 30 pounds and stomping their feet, but now they are big and can hurl a chair across the family room.

There seems to be real rage in their bellies. Scratch the surface and BOOM -– they go off. The frequency, intensity and duration of these episodes goes beyond the explanation that your kid is simply having a bad day.

If you have a child who is destroying property, physically attacking others or repeatedly berating themselves, take matters seriously. Here are some ways you can deal with the situation.

Educate Yourself About Anger 
Anger is called “the fighting emotion.” We activate our anger when we want to go to battle to fight and win. The fight, flight, freeze (F3) response in our nervous system kicks in, which increases our heart rate, sends blood to the muscles so they are stronger and accelerates our breathing so we are good and oxygenated.

These massive bodily sensations are enough to overwhelm a child. It’s a big biological event that can even feel scary -– like they are out of control.

Anger is actually a secondary emotion. Your child feels another emotion first, which is the primary emotion. And that is the one you need to discover and learn from. It’s likely one of these five triggers:

  1. Threats to self-esteem (rejection, victimization, rights removed or infringed on) that come from these common childhood experiences:
  • The feeling a sibling is preferred
    • Inconsistent enforcement of rules (this is not fair!)
    • Public correction that embarrassed or humiliated them
    • Offering help or instruction when it wasn’t needed (micro-management)
    • Seeing an injustice done to another
    • Loss of sense of control or a sense of autonomy
    • Lack of understanding of others (low empathy)
    • Others reject or deny what the child is genuinely feeling (misunderstood)

    2. Biology: hunger, low blood sugar, tired, in pain

  1. Stress/Anxiety (illness, impending divorce, moving schools, new caregiver, upcoming test)
  2. Sadness (due to death or big change in their life)
  3. Frustration (communication problems, lack of dexterity or knowledge, perfectionism and hatred of mistakes, believing that asking for help is failure or inadequacy)

If you can identify and solve the primary feeling, your child’s need to fight with anger would not be necessary.

Basic Health Check
Double check your child is eating well, sleeping sufficiently (Do she snore? Could it be undiagnosed sleep apnea?) and reduce their stress.

Is he over-scheduled? Is he feeling undue pressure to excel? Parents are notoriously blind at seeing childhood stressors but they abound.

During a Blow Up, Be Calm and Empathetic
It’s very easy to get pulled into a child’s state. Instead, you have to act in calming ways to help her de-escalate.

It’s very easy to look fed-up and roll your eyes. You are so tired of their antics. But a cold, terse composure that is meant to brace yourself for the storm only adds fuel to her fire.

Instead, communicate calm, loving support. Watch your body language. Keep your tone sweet and quiet. Your facial expression should be one of empathy and compassion.

If he will allow you to offer comfort touches (rubbing his back or a hug), do it. Show that you understand he must be deeply upset to be this angered, but keep your words sparse. Give him space and time to re-group.

Keep a Log Book 
Write a log after each blow up. Record the events leading up to the angry outburst and how it finally resolved. Be sure to record not only what your child did — but also what you and others did.

Assign an intensity rating from 0 to 10. Watch the clock to see how long the blow up lasted and record that, too. After a week or a month, can you see a theme?

As you embark on making changes, you’ll want to know things are improving. The blow-ups won’t go away over night, but if they are less frequent, less intense and shorter then you are making headway! Don’t give up too soon.

Talk About Triggers In A Time Of Calm
When children are angry, it is not a good time for productive discussions. You’re best to save your talks for a time when she is calm. Re-visit the incident that made her so mad and ask her to help you understand what was so distasteful that got her so angry. Then listen.

Listen with a goal of understanding your child and her perspective. Don’t defend or correct.

For example, if your child shares: “You let Bella go on the iPad first. She always gets to go first”. Instead of correcting and defending yourself with “that is not true, you went first last time” simply acknowledge her feelings and beliefs.

“So you feel you get passed over for your sister all the time? That I give her more privileges than you? Like going first on the iPad yesterday? Is that right? Well that would not feel very good at all! If I thought that, I would be hurt and hopping mad too!”

Proper Modelling 
Children need to learn that using aggression is not the best way to resolve issues. If you use anger as a means to get your child to listen or behave, stop immediately. You are modelling this behaviour and he is imitating you.

Teach Problem Solving
Teach your child how to solve the problems he is having through positive means. “Besides getting mad, how else could you share that you feel unfairly treated, and how else could we assure that each child gets their turn going first on the iPad?”

Try to generate a few solutions: alternating days, mark turns on the calendar, leave a sticky note on the iPad saying whose turn is next, rock paper scissors, roll dice, etc. Decide on one solution to try for a week and see if things improve. If they don’t, try another solution.

They Have Control Over Their Anger -– It’s A Choice.
Children believe that other people make them angry and that they are just innocent victims of these strong emotions that take over their bodies. Teach your child about the fight, freeze, flight response so they can recognize when they are getting triggered.

Teach her relaxation techniques: breathing exercises, taking a warm shower, going for a walk around the block, listening to calming music, tensing and releasing their muscles.

Challenge Rigid Black-And-White Thinking 
In a time of calm, help your child to challenge his own rigid thinking. Young children often see the world in black and white with no grey scale. Things are right or wrong, good or bad, always or never. It’s part of growing up to see more sides to things and add complexity to our beliefs.

“You are not either a good boy or a bad boy — you are just lovable you, wonderful the way you are.”

“Instead of rigidly thinking your sister is always beating you, you can choose to think an alternate softer thought: many times my sister gets her way, but sometimes I do, too.”

Encouragement 
Children who get angry are discouraged and we need to help fill their bucket so they feel good about themselves and improve their relationships with others in the family.

Look for their strengths and share your appreciation for what they bring to the clan. Increase your positive interactions and have fun together. Notice their gentle side.

If things don’t improve, seek out the help of a family counsellor. You’d be amazed what a few sessions can do to improve matters.