I’m Glad You Asked!
One benefit of living and working in Richmond for 10 years is sharing my knowledge of local parenting resources for area families. From time to time, I’ll be inviting guests to answer your questions, right here on the CMoR Parenting Page. This month, I've invited Susan Brown, Assistant Director of Commonwealth Parenting, to share her expertise with us. Susan has extensive experience with the early childhood years, and you may have seen her from time to time at CMoR Central answering parenting questions on Member Mondays. ~ Liz
We received another great question about children and behavior this month! Many of us are familiar with sibling rivalry, but it can be very unsettling to see aggressive behavior between sisters and brothers. Read on for great suggestions from Susan!
Q. My three year old daughter has been giving her 20 month old brother (we have 20 month old twins – a boy and girl) a very hard time lately. She immediately runs over and takes any toys he touches and states that it is hers and she wants it. She pinches and bites him (she learned this from him). She seems to be fighting him for our attention. She does not do much of this with her more shy 20 month old very petite sister who is not as advanced developmentally. Any advice? It has made life hard for us. Maybe more time away from them? She will start preschool for the first time in September.
A. First, let me say that raising three children under the age of four would be a challenge for any parent. Having said that, I do have several suggestions:
The first suggestion is to increase your one-on one time with your three year old. Set aside 15 or 20 minutes every day to spend with her. I like to mark a calendar with “Mommy and me” dates so that your daughter sees that her special time with you is coming, and she doesn't have to try to take it with her undesirable behavior.
During your time together make sure to let her know how much you enjoy being just with her and that this is something that you will continue.
In addition, try to use the "catch them when they are good" approach. In other words, when your older daughter plays nicely with her brother let her know that you have noticed and that you are very proud of her.
If she bites or hits you need to respond firmly. Give her a time out immediately and let her know that hitting or biting will not be tolerated.
Another suggestion is to make sure that she is not bored. Is she in any camp or other kinds of programs during the summer? It is important for her to get some stimulation and play with children closer to her own age and developmental level. We are lucky to have many options in our area. If she is busy and happy she will be less inclined to get into trouble.
Last, but not least, make sure that you are getting a break from these three young children. It is vital that you take care of yourself and avoid Mommy burn out. Best of luck to you.
Commonwealth Parenting offers education to families in the Richmond area to enhance and strengthen parenting skills. Visit their website, www.commonwealthparenting.org, to find out more!
Q: Do they have schools just for kids with autism?
A: In the central Virginia area, there are many options for children diagnosed with autism. This is a question I wanted to get more information about before I answered. The short answer is Yes, there are schools just for kids with autism. However, because a diagnosis can have so many variables, the choices for each child should truly be individualized. Whether a person chooses public or private school, families should do a little research, and even reach out for experienced advice and counsel from local support networks. Here’s what I found online – lots of great resources, right here in Richmond:
Good luck, and thanks for seeking answers on this very important topic!
Q: I love my five year old, but what in the world has happened to him/her? This behavior has got to stop!
A: One of the most frequent questions for parenting educators concerns five year olds. There’s so much going on in a five year old brain, and lots of changes are happening physically as well. Check out any book on child development, and flip to the section on five year olds – you’ll see what I mean!
Many times, it’s a regression in behavior (whining or being clingy). Sometimes, it’s inappropriate body humor (usually from the boys – no offense). A replacement behavior could be in order here. How about giving him/her attention for something “parent-approved”, that’s incompatible with the behavior you’d like to see disappear? A five year old is ready for a "Big Kid" discussion to discuss the behavior you'd like to see stop, and what will happen if it continues.
Here’s what I mean by a Big Kid discussion: finding a time (5 - 10 minutes) where you both sit down together, privately, and you use your Serious Face and Firm Voice to tell him the behavior needs to stop now, and if not, that it's going to result in ___________ (fill in the blank, i.e. being sent to his room, time-out, early bedtime or a non-violent consequence works for him/her) Next, tell the child what he/she CAN do for attention.
In other words, this time of development is all about "Hey, look at me!" and it might be wise to applaud his ability to (for example) hop on one foot, turn a cartwheel, jump as high as he can, add numbers together, sing a song, recite his address, manipulate a yo-yo, perform a card trick, dribble a basketball or some other form of "Crowd pleaser", if you know what I mean.
Now, the key to this is consistency, for at least 2 weeks (yes, at least). So, if you see the inappropriate behavior, there must be some form of consequence, swiftly and closely tied time-wise to the event. Out at the grocery store? Time out in the car for 5 minutes. At a park? Walk with him away from the fun crowd or activity and make him face away from the group for 5 minutes. Be consistent, also, in giving attention for the positive "Look at Me!" behaviors, as much as you can.
If you can stick to the plan, it’s likely that the inappropriate or regressive behavior will fade away. Be sure to give lots of reassurance and extra hugs during this time – being five can also be a bit daunting at times… so much Power!!
Thanks for asking!
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