I’m sure we’ve all heard that rewarding good behavior is more effective than punishing bad behavior. Like most parenting solutions, that can be a lot easier said than done sometimes.
- Be clear on the behaviors you are rewarding. Is it cleaning their room every night, taking out the trash, or saying “thank you” when appropriate? I suggest talking with your kids, writing it down on a chart, or posting a picture of the behavior.
- Younger kids need immediate rewards, even small ones. Using behavior charts with stickers, marbles in a jar, and so on are good small rewards. You can decide how many stickers, marbles, etc. they need to earn the big prize.
- Post a visual of the reward to keep them motivated.
- Kids love verbal praise from their parents too, so let them know “Good job!” and “Yea!” when they do something good.
Reward Charts Online
Free Printable Behavior Charts is a great site to find dozens of free behavior charts. I access this site regularly when working with parents to develop an effective behavior modification program for their child.
Association for Comprehensive Neurotherapy is an overall good website for tips and techniques on working with a variety of issues.
RewardingKids is another good website for reward charts. These cost around $9.95, but if you compare, they are a lot more colorful and interactive than the free ones out there. I have not personally tried this out though. If someone has, I would love to hear some reviews.
iEarnedThat, by Kidoc, is a motivational app for kids. You can upload a picture of the reward your child is working for and the app creates puzzle pieces of the picture. You get to choose the number of puzzle pieces too. So, if you want to give credit for every morning your child gets ready for school on time, you can set it for 5 puzzle pieces.
iReward Chart, by Gotclues, allows children to earn stars for behaviors. You can write your own, or choose from their list of abstract behaviors, such as sharing with others, eating their vegetables, and so on.
Time Timer, is a visual timer so your child can see how much time they have left. This can be used for time to clean up or time remaining in time out.
Ever since my son turned 1 year old (I know, to many of you this is still young), I have really been treasuring my time with him, realizing how fast they really do grow up. Today was his last day at our work daycare, where I have been spoiled to be able to spend lunches with him, love on him, and snap a quick picture of him, anytime I wanted. As we left my office together today for the last time, I couldn’t help but feel of an ache in my heart that the phase of infancy has slipped away so quickly. I have no doubt every mom an dad out there has experienced this same feeling. While I know there are endless memories to look forward to, I am going to accept these feelings of reflection and longing for tonight because tomorrow I will wake up to another wild and crazy day. This, as I am coming to realize, is part of motherhood and I don’t want to miss a moment!
Deciding to medicate your child can be a very difficult decision for parents. My toddler has recently been put on antibiotics to treat a respiratory infection. I trust my pediatrician and do not feel she would prescribe these without need, but I am still hesitant and do not like the idea of any medications for my baby.
Antibiotics is a very common prescription for children and I still struggle. Yet, I talk with parents on a regular basis who are facing the difficult decision of putting their child on one or more medications for behavioral and psychological reasons. As a parent, we want to trust the professionals involved in our child’s care, but medications can have lasting and unanticipated consequences. For one, every child is different, so you cannot be sure of the side effects until you try it. Once on the medication, the side effects may also be difficult to manage, such as changes in appetite and sleep patterns. So, how does a parent know what the right decision is for their child?
Here are a few key points I share with any parent dealing with this issue:
- Consult the professionals involved, including your child’s pediatrician, psychiatrist, and psychologist/counselor. Ask questions about their diagnoses and the reasons for choosing the medications they chose.
- Make an appointment with a Pediatric Psychiatrist. For medications affecting your child brain chemistry, I recommend seeing a doctor who specializes in disorders and medications affecting a child’s mental health. These include attention, antipsychotic, emotional disturbance, and behavior.
- Do your research. Learn everything you can about the diagnoses given to your child and the medication(s) recommended. Some helpful websites are below.
- Consider all treatment options- Counseling and behavioral intervention, diet and exercise changes, and social/environmental changes. Whether your child takes medications or not, these interventions can make significant changes to your child’s mental health. For example, stimulants may improve attention, but it cannot teach them behavioral skills to improve their study habits. Antipsychotics can stabilize emotions, but it cannot teach them anger management.
- Commit to ongoing medication management. All children are unique in their symptons and body chemistry. Therefore, it is likely that you will need to visit the doctor regularly to adjust the medication. And once you have found just the right medication, frequency, and possibly combination of medications for your child, follow up appointments are key to making sure this works for your child over a period of time.
Whatever you decide to do, make the best decision you can, armed with information and support, and always know that you can make changes any time you observe your child needs something different.
For more information, I have found these websites helpful:
HealthyChildren.org on Psychiatric Medications
www.KidsHealth.org has Parent, Teen, and Child sites to search.
I would love to hear from some of our readers. Have you had to make a similar choice as a parent and what was the outcome? Or, are you in the middle of this difficult decision now?
Today I had a personal issue come up and it was time to dial some friends for support asap. I needed someone who knew the history behind my circumstances, and someone who would listen and empathize, rather and help me to solve a problem. It got me to thinking about all the people in my support system I could choose to call and how important they are to us.
As parents, there are plenty of days when we feel overwhelmed, too busy, stressed, and in some kind of crunch. During these times, it sometimes feels like we are alone to face our stress. But the truth is, most of us have at least a short list of people we count on for different things in our lives and each one may offer something different to us than the others. For example, one friend may be a good listener when it comes to your marriage difficulties, while another friend may be better at helping with childcare crunches.
Identifying these people in our lives can be comforting in times of stress. Your list may be long or short, but having a list is the key. An easy exercise to do is list the names of people in your life that you consider supportive in some way. Then, describe how they are helpful and when you can call on them. Be sure to write these down because the act of writing and visually seeing your support network is important. I attached one below as an example.
Example of a Completed Support Network
If you find you don’t have much of a support network, then it is imperative you get one. Think about what relationships you can foster more, reseach local support groups and play groups, or make efforts to meet some other parents at your child’s daycare or school. A support system is important for your health and therefore, your child’s health!!
I would love to hear how this worked for you or if you have any other suggestions on this topic!
After having my first baby, I checked out the audio book for Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina. I loved it so much, I went out and bought the hardback. Now that I am pregnant again, I’m reading the book again! It presents current research on brain development for children under 5 years of age, starting with prenatal development. As parents we hear so many old wives tales about what is good for our kids and what is not. This book looks at some of those rumors and presents the research on the topic. I know, just the word RESEARCH is putting you to sleep. I wouldn’t recommend this book unless it was interesting enough for you to flip through and take a few ideas from. For example, did you know that babies who watch TV before the age of 2 have low IQ scores than those who do not? This includes the Baby Einstein videos! After some further research myself, I also found this was backed up by the American Pediatric Association. There is a ton of valuable information in the book. Just like any other source out there, take the information and apply it for what you know is right for your own baby and your family. That’s how I look at things.
A sand tray does not have to be purchased from an expensive therapy store. My husband made this sand box for me and the best part is that it’s made with love! After sanding it down really good so as not to cause splinters, I painted the outside a hunter green and inside a blue color. I bought play sand at a local Home Depot. Kids will often use this for pretend play while I am sometimes more directive in the activities with teens.
I learned this activity from my colleague, Jennifer Methvin, LPC a couple years ago and have loved it ever since. Thanks Jenney!
In this activity, kids are asked to talk about various emotions. I will often have 4-5 emotions in mind and will allow the child to add emotions to our list if they want. For each emotion, I ask the child two main questions: 1. What does your body feel like when you are happy, sad, etc.? and 2. Tell me about a time when you recently felt this emotion and what was happening. The child can then choose the color they want for that emotion (I take notes for a key later on). The child will then use that color to paint or color where on their body they often feel this emotion.
As you see in the pictures, kids will have many variations. An interesting notation to make is that the first pictuer was done by a child who was struggling with high emotions and extreme expression of those emotions (aggression) and the picture below it with the dots was done by a child who was internalizing their emotions. Notice how the child internalizing the emotions only used small dots to represent their emotions as they are not used to expressing their emotions outwardly.
Wow, life as a mom is everything and nothing like I expected! People were right… I could never imagine loving someone as much as I love my little boy. As I’m writing this blog, I have a precious little girl on the way. Thinking of names is so much fun!
Being a mom has given me a new perspective on counseling and play therapy and on the children and their families that I work with every day. I want to share my experiences, lessons, and advice with the world, as well as gain new insights from fellow parents and professionals. So, I have decided this blog is just the avenue I needed. Comments and questions on this blog are welcomed and encouraged!