Monday, July 18, 2011

Children Of The Corn: Managing Terrifying Children Series

I attempted to take a cute photo of my children hiding among the cornstalks at my sister-in-laws this afternoon. 

It didn't work. 

The boys refused to cooperate and something that should have taken 2 minutes turned into a half hour drama session worthy of a featured guest spot of The Super Nanny or a cameo appearance in the horror flick Children Of The Corn

I won't sugar coat this, my children misbehave on occasion. 

When they do, it turns into a real life scream fest with no vigilantes or rogue teenager ready to sweep in and save the day.  I am left alone to fight my little demons.

As a daycare provider and mother, I have encountered a WIDE array of anti-social behaviors.  I have seen the biters, kickers, whiners, growlers, food hoarders, and many more "ers".  My own children have been found guilty of a few of the previously mentioned misdemeanors. 

Over the years, I have used my own experiences and my background in elementary education to help iron out these little monsters before they become the Freddy Cougars of our neighborhoods.  I will not quote Piaget, Vygotsky, or Skinner but a lot of my strategies are derived from these forefathers of education and children behaviors.  I am not an expert, but I have a lot of experience in this arena.

We all have our bad days (even me), but it's hard to move past these issues when you don't have the necessary social skills to overcome your hurdles.  As a parent or caregiver, it can be a daunting task to deal with tantrums and undesirable habits.  Unlike the television, we can't click our children off when they misbehave.

Here are a few things I consider when a nasty situation develops:

Contemplate the behavior and describe it. 

Is the child being defiant, bossy, yelling, flailing on the floor when asked to do a chore, or crying when someone plays with their beloved toy?  As you can see, there are a lot of behaviors children possess to describe, but they will help with the next step.  Look closely and be specific when you are considering your child's hurdle. 

Identify what causes this behavior

I try to examine the events that lead up to a child's undesirable trait (biting or hitting for example) and look for possible triggers.  I find this most helpful and you begin to understand what is happening in the child's thought process.

These are a few questions I ask myself: 
  • Did I include adequate transitions between activities? 
  • Do they have the words to tell me what they want? 
  • Was someone too close in their space or did someone take a beloved toy? 
  • Is the behavior caused by something internal- is the child hungry, tired, sick, or showing signs of trauma? 
  • What external factors are influencing these behaviors- is there too much activity in the room, are the lights too bright, how is the noise level, etc.? 

Examine WHY your child uses this behavior.

There has to be something in it for the child.  They probably don't like screaming and yelling until they are hoarse and I firmly believe that biting another grubby child isn't an appealing way to spend your morning free time.  There has to be a reason they use these methods and they usually end up getting exactly what they want.

This is where we need to monitor our responses.  As adults, we sometimes hand all the power and authority over to the child.  I am guilty of this. 

Are we fueling the misbehavior by reinforcing it with our response?  Children may throw a tantrum to avoid cleaning up a mess, get personal attention, or to get that new toy at the store.  A child may bite or pinch, because it immediately let's them get a toy back or stop people from invading their personal space.

Once we have a good understanding of what causes these behaviors, we can formulate a plan of action.  I will post on that later this week.  You can find the second part of this series here .

What scary behaviors are your children exhibiting?  Lately, we've been dealing with whining...


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