Thursday, February 4, 2010

Frequently Asked Questions And Answers About Children

Cover of "Shy Charles"Cover of Shy Charles My child is shy and has trouble making friends at school. How can I help?
• Plan play dates and invite friends over so she can develop her social skills in a familiar environment.
• Try role playing different social situations with him/her
• Help her anticipate being successful in making friends by emphasizing and encouraging his/her progress
Books to Read:
Shy Charles by Rosemary Wells

My child is nervous about starting school. What can I do to help?
Everyone is nervous about starting school, even teachers! You can help your child by:
• Normalizing the feeling
• Sharing a positive story about what you did when you started school and felt nervous
• Reframe nervousness as excitement and anticipate the fun things he/she will be able to do at school
Books to read:
Tiptoe Into Kindergarten  by Jacqueline Rogers

How can I get my child to tell me about their day at school? Whenever I ask how his/her day went, all I get is grunts!
• Instead of asking a question that elicits a one word answer, ask a question that involves more description. So, instead of “How was your day?” ask, “What was the best part of your day?” or “What was the hardest part of you day?”
• If you still aren’t getting much of a response, try modeling how to describe your day. You could say, “Guess what the best part of my day was?” Then describe something you did before asking about their day.”
• Make sure the tone of your conversation creates a dialogue, not a lecture or an interrogation
• Use video games, movies, cartoons, anything they are interested in, to spark a conversation about your child’s experiences.
 Books to read:
 by Bill Cosby

What do I do if my child doesn’t want to go to school?
• First determine if there is a problem at school that is upsetting him/her and if so help him/her develop strategies for dealing with it
• If it is a separation problem: develop a plan for the morning routine. Structure the morning so there is no time for whining or crying. Go over the plan with your child and get their input before implementing it. Change some aspect of the morning routine that might be causing a problem. For instance, if Mom always takes her to school, have Dad take her and see if there are fewer problems with separation. Or try getting up earlier so there is more time for transitions.
• Create a behavior chart and have your child work toward a reward through good morning behavior. Often the best reward is extra time one on one with mom or dad in the evening.
• Use peer pressure to your advantage. Can your child ride the bus? Carpool with neighbors?
• Use lots of praise for on task, brave morning behavior. Let your child know you believe in their ability to handle difficult things.
 Books to Read:
Mom, What If I Don't Want to Go to School Today?  By Michelle Lautane, Becky Hayes, Neil Shapiro

What do I do if my child doesn’t like his teacher?
• Spend some time talking with your child about what the problem is. Get the specifics: “She's really mean" doesn't really identify the problem.
• If the problem is a misunderstanding on the child’s part, help them see things from a different perspective
• If the problem is a personality conflict, help them develop coping strategies for getting along with people different from them. You will be doing them a big favor if you help them learn to cope with different situations rather than teach them to depend on you to fix things.
• Talk about situations where you had to learn to cope with someone with a very different personality and how you managed it.
 Books to Read:
It Could Have Been WorseBy A. H. Benjamin

What do I do if my child is having friendship problems? For example, she complains of other girls ignoring her or being bossy to her.
• Discuss particular situations with your child and how she handled them. Suggest alternative responses. Encourage her to be assertive and let others know what she wants.
• Role play with your child different ways to handle difficult situations. Ask, “What if” questions. Help him build his confidence to handle a variety of situations.
• Sometimes the best solution is to find new friends. Suggest alternative friendships and ways to build new friendships.
 Books to read:
My Best Friendby Mary Ann Rodman

My child has low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. How can I help?
• Self esteem is important but it needs to be based on self-confidence that comes from identifying and developing strengths. Help your child recognize their strengths and provide opportunities where they can experience success and excel.
• Provide encouragement when your child feels challenged but make sure you don’t do things for them. The best way to develop self-esteem is to try new things even though they are difficult.
• Help your child put failure in the proper perspective. Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply an opportunity to try again more intelligently.”
 Books to Read:

How can I best support my child in doing homework?
• Have a regular time and place for homework. Keep consistent with the schedule so they know what to expect. Have the study area well stocked with necessary supplies.
• Review your child’s agenda and homework assignments with them each day. Help them establish a routine for recording their assignments, collecting the necessary supplies and returning the work the next day.
• Encourage your child to value completing his/her homework each day by comparing it to things you must accomplish each evening. Establishing a positive approach to homework early in your child’s school career, so that it is a learning experience not a chore will serve them well as they move beyond elementary school.
Books to Read:
Homework Without Tears  by Lee Cantor
How to Do Homework Without Throwing Up  by Trevor Romain and Elizabeth Verdick

What do I do if my child is failing a subject?
• Maintain an ongoing dialogue with the teacher about your child’s progress.
• Determine the cause of the problem. Is it a lack of motivation? Do they lack the necessary foundation to learn the material? Do they have a history of difficulty in this subject area?
• Once you determine the cause, you can develop a plan which might include: a behavior chart, extra time spent at home catching up on necessary concepts, a tutoring plan, etc.
Books to Read:
Super Study Skills (Scholastic Guides)  by Laurie Rozakis and David Cain

How do I help my child prepare for standardized tests?
• The best way to prepare for standardized tests is to stay current with studies throughout the year
• Reassure your child that tests are only one way of assessing their progress throughout the year and help them keep the tests in proper perspective so they don’t become anxious or stressed over them
• Make sure your child is prepared with a good night’s sleep and nutritious breakfast the day of the test
Books to Read:

My child complains of being bullied at school. What should I do?
• Spend time talking with your child to clarify the situation and determine if it is a true bullying problem or a friendship problem. Sometimes children call friendship problems bullying when the children involved need to learn better ways to get along and handle conflict.
• All bullying situations should be taken seriously and reported to the teacher and/or administration so it can be dealt with immediately.
• Follow-up with your child daily to determine if the problem is resolved. Maintain open communication with the teacher for follow-up as well.
Books to Read:
Don't Laugh at Me (Reading Rainbow Book)by Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin
My Secret Bully  by Turdy Ludwig
Just Kidding  by Tudy Ludwig

My child gets angry and out of control very easily. What should I do?
• Spend time talking with your child about things that trigger their anger. Make a chart and track it for a period of time to determine what usually leads up to the episode.
• Talk to your child about the self-talk that precedes the trigger situations. What are they saying to themselves that causes them to feel frustrated and angry?
• Help them develop positive and more appropriate self talk to diffuse the situation before they get out of control. Keep it simple and easy to remember.
• Practice prevention by anticipating upcoming events that might be frustrating for you r child and reviewing strategies for handling the situation.
Books to Read:

My child is frightened and doesn’t want to go to bed at night. What can I do?
• Spend time talking with your child about the self-talk that is making them afraid. What are they saying to themselves that is causing them to feel frightened?
• Help them develop positive and more appropriate self talk to help them relax and reassure themselves.
• In addition to developing self-talk that is positive, teach them some simple relaxation techniques they can practice to help themselves relax and go to sleep.\
• Establish and maintain a calm reassuring bedtime routine.
Books to Read:

My child is a perfectionist and this is causing problems. What can I do?
• Help your child set realistic goals. Make sure that you are providing a well rounded approach without too much emphasis on high expectations.
• Reassure your child when they fail to meet their goals and help them see failure as an opportunity to learn how to improve and do better next time.
• Model for them both achievement of goals and coping with failure. Share examples from your life of good ways to cope with both.
Books to Read:
Too Perfect  by Trudy Ludwig

My children fight and bicker constantly. They are driving me crazy! What can I do?
• Use praise and attention for cooperative behavior. Most sibling rivalry is an attempt to gain the parent’s attention so give attention for positive behavior.
• Don’t get caught in the fairness trap. Much of sibling rivalry is an attempt to gain power and status in the family pecking order. Set rules, and give privileges according to age and maturity.
• Do not encourage contests between siblings; instead encourage individual interests and strengths. Much of sibling rivalry is an attempt to gain ownership.
Books to Read:
When You Fuss and Fight: A Guide for Young Siblings, by Peggy S Baltimore

How do I help my child cope with a death in the family?
Every child copes differently with a death in the family, depending on their relatinship to the person who passed away and the child's personality/maturity level.  It is best to be honest and caring in communicating with your child.  They will take their cuues from you as to how to accept and cope with the situaiton.
  • Use this as an opportunity to share your family's faith and values
  • Reassure them that because one person in the family has passed away, this does not mean that he/she needs to worry about others in the family dying
  • Reassure your child that the extreme feelings tthey may have now will decrease over time although they will continue to love and remember the family member
  • Help him/her identify positive memories and rituals for rememberance
Books to Read:

What's Heaven   by Maria Shriver
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