How to Raise a Polite Preschooler

How to Raise a Polite PreschoolerIt seems that politeness and courtesy have gone out of style, and the teaching of such things has gone right with it.  Everywhere you turn you see temper tantrums, and children running with abandon through stores and restaurants, their hapless parents seemingly unaware or unconcerned that their offspring are behaving atrociously and annoying everyone simply trying to eat or shop.

The problem is rampant permissiveness to do as they will without consequences, either because it is too much work to correct or too little courage to enter into a battle of wills with a child, but parents who won’t teach politeness are doing their children a disservice.

Respect

Children must be taught to respect others – their property, their space, their right to eat without being stared at by the child in the next booth.  Realize that respect is a two-way street.  One way to teach respect is to offer it in return.  I cannot tell you the number of times my children have nearly been run over by a shopping cart steered by some adult who thinks it is acceptable to push a child aside or cut them off.  This is a great opportunity to point out that such behavior is rude and should not be done by anyone.

If I am going to instill respect for others, I must be the example.  A couple of rules of the house are as follows: if my bedroom door is closed, you must knock and await an invitation to enter; children are not allowed to take or use something that belongs to another person without permission.  These rules are not only for the children but for the parents also to lead by example.

Please and Thank You

The teaching of polite behavior must begin as early as possible in order to be retained and ingrained.  When someone offers you something, be it a cookie, a compliment, or a seat, say thank you.  I have heard others denigrate this method, saying it is not teaching politeness but rote behavior with no association of a social obligation attached, but I disagree.  If you are making a request, say please.  This shows the concept of equality between the parties involved.  A demand signifies entitlement as does receiving a gift or service without acknowledging it as such.

Social Graces

A parent’s job is to instill good values and societal graces.  Your child needs guidance, not a best friend.  Failing to teach good manners is setting up a child for failure in relationships with other adults and children.  There seems to be at least one child in every group that no one wants to play with because of the child’s attitude and one that defies teachers and administration personnel as well, which can cause isolation – from others and from the class as disciplinary measures escalate, eventually leading to suspension and/or expulsion.

What sort of adults will these children be?  Becoming socially acceptable can very well come later in life when the results of bad behavior lead to a desire to be accepted, but it is a long hard road that no parent wants to subject their child to.  A parent who teaches good manners and polite behavior are setting their children up to succeed in life and polite society.

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The Challenges of Parenting a Child with Asperger’s

Aspergers Syndrome

Having a child with Asperger’s Syndrome is difficult but not impossible.  While the symptoms are certainly not a result of anything your child did or didn’t do, he will still feel the consequences of his actions and behavior.

Here are some tips that will help you relate to your child with Aspberger’s.

Patience

One of the hardest things for parents to do is step back and try not to nag their child.  If there’s something that’s bothering you, try to explain your concerns to your child when she’s able to listen not in the middle of a meltdown.

Part of patience in this instance is to not cloak your child with your wisdom.  When she’s having a particularly difficult day, try to decide if this is a battle that needs to be fought or something that can be left for another day.  If you think that professional intervention is the only way to go, certainly make an appointment with your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Celebrate

This may seem like an unusual suggestion, but see if you can celebrate your child’s humor, passion and, especially, creativity.  There will be plenty of times when his solution to a problem wouldn’t be one that you would choose but if it works for him, praise him and let him try.

Negotiation

This is particularly important with teenagers.  In order for your child to see the beauty and joy of negotiation, parents must model that for their child.  This goes for all parents but most particularly for parents of Aspberger’s Syndrome children.

When your child displays negative behavior, it’s usually because your kid feels like the world is spinning out of control.  Learning how to negotiate a truce will go a long way.

Forgiveness

The effects of Asperger’s is not something your child signed up for.  Forgive her every day and forgive yourself while you’re at it.

Try to defuse and cut off any fights that may begin.  Conversations with your child can only happen when the tantrums have stopped.

Rewarding Good Behavior

This idea is very similar to one used in dog training.  Now, we’re not suggesting for a minute that your child should be compared to a dog.  What we are suggesting is that you give praise and reward the behavior you want your child to exhibit.  Make sure that this reward is immediate and consistent.

Planning

One of the things that trips up an Asperger’s child the fastest is change.  Make sure that you give plenty of notice before something in the house changes especially with routine.  Have a chat with your kid about what’s going to happen and what you expect of her as a result of those changes.

For Asperger’s children there is no past or future, only now.  There will be plenty of issues as you go down the road and the way to prepare your child for a successful and fruitful adulthood, is to set good behavior patterns early and often.

Asperger’s Syndrome is challenging at best and heartbreaking at worst.  But with some pre-planning and thought, you can help your child grow from adolescence to adulthood and live with Asperger’s successfully.

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Talking to Your Teen After Her Friend is Arrested

Friend Arrested

Being a teen is a rite of passage and sometimes that includes pushing the edges of the envelope so far pieces fly off in all directions.

But what happens if your teen tells you that one of her BFFs just got arrested? Time to talk about what happens with an arrest and what your teen should remember if she is ever in that situation.

Work Through It Together

The true time to talk about what happens if your teen is arrested should occur beforehand but that’s not always practical.

The most important thing you can do is listen. Ask questions but try not to make any judgments about the friend or the friend’s family because that’s a sure way to get the open communication door slammed in your face.

Find out what the arrest is for. Drinking? Stealing? Drugs? The answer to this question will shape the remainder of the conversation.

Discuss together what the consequences should be for criminal behavior and work out a plan together if she is ever arrested. Ask her what she would do if she was her friend’s parent.

Talk about right and wrong and ask if she has eve engaged in the kind of behavior that got her friend arrested.

Talking to Her Friend

Your teen will probably want to support her friend and help her talk things through. While this could certainly be helpful for the friend, it could also put your teen in a precarious position if the friend admits any kind of guilt.

It may be best to keep them apart for a while until things cool down. And your kid can certainly be friends but just not talk about the arrest.

What should you do if your teen is arrested?

Lawyer Up?

Depending on the situation, having a lawyer come in and represent your child may be the best option. Some attorneys suggest that an arrested teen should never say anything. Talking to police first and an attorney second may be a mistake because you can’t go back and change what you said based on an attorney’s advice without losing credibility.

Know Your Rights as a Parent

You have every right to help your teen. If the offense is lower level, the police may just handle the matter with you and leave it at that.

Something like underage drinking will typically result in a fine and perhaps community service depending on the judge.

She’s Innocent

If you find out that your teen is innocent and did nothing wrong, it’s important for your child to speak up to help the officers figure out what really happened.

Cooperation

While admitting guilt may be what eventually happens for your teen or her friend, tell your daughter that cooperation is important if she is ever finds herself in hot water.

If it turns out that your teen’s friend goes to trial, take her to watch the proceedings. Sometimes seeing what happens in a real courtroom is the best deterrent.

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Kids and Pets: What to Do if Your Pet Turns Mean

Pet Turns Mean

Shelters are wonderful places to find your next furry BFF. And you’re helping give an animal a forever home. But what happens if the dog or cat starts showing signs of aggression?

The solution is all about noticing the warning signs and managing the behavior before it escalates into something you can’t control.

Dogs and Why They Act Out

Dog aggression can show up in separation anxiety and destruction, biting, and fear among other things. One of the first things to do is remain calm.

Dogs pick up on panic in a human which can increase their anxiety. Your dog didn’t come out of the womb as an aggressive pup. That behavior happened over time.

Defining Canine Aggression

Aggression is a catch-all term for a whole host of behavior issues. Know that things like teeth baring, lunging or growling is the precursor to a bite. Take a good look at what is upsetting your dog. Is it a male or a female human? Is it another dog and he is guarding you and his new territory?

Determining the cause will help you deal with working out the problem. Call your vet and get a recommendation for a behavior expert. If you have adopted a senior dog, he may be suffering from confusion and that could make him lash out because he feels insecure.

Can Dog Aggression Be Cured?

It can be managed, certainly. If you are afraid your dog will bite, a way to manage this is to use a soft muzzle and work with a trainer.

Some behaviors can be minimized and even eliminated especially when you understand the warning signs and cut off the behavior before it escalates.

Cats: How to Handle Feline Aggression

Cats can show the signs of aggression just like dogs and there are signs to pick up on just as you can with dogs. For cats, aggression can show itself in a couple of ways.

Play Aggression

We’ve all laughed at cat videos watching kittens rock back and forth, move sideways and pounce. This is part of their normal hunting behavior using an element of surprise.

The best way to short cut any aggression that is tied to play is to distract the cat before she moves into attack mode. Using play is helpful to disengage her but keep your hands and feet out of the way.

Petting Aggression

Has this happened to you? Your cat is perched on your lap, you’re petting her and bam! She turns, bites you and jumps down.

You may be scratching your head wondering what just happened and here’s one answer. Cats feel static electricity in a big way. Your hand could be creating that static and it’s painful so she lashes out.

If your cat’s aggression turns intense, reach out to a cat behaviorist for help.

Aggression in your pet isn’t fatal. Put a plan in place and work to read the signs and short circuit the behavior.

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Is Your Kid Drinking? How to Open Up Lines of Communication

Kids and Drinking

Kids and drinking. It’s happened long before this blog and will happen long after. But how can you give your child or teen the benefit of your experience without sounding preachy?

Here are a few tips to open up that all-too-important line of communication.

Just the Facts?

When we’re uncomfortable with a subject, it’s really easy to lapse into spitting out facts and figures and even tinging them with a little threat here or there. Make sure to answer their questions thoughtfully.

Many states in the U.S. have carved out 21 as being the legal drinking age. Be ready for your kid to ask why that number was chosen. What makes a 21-year-old any better equipped to handle alcohol and the choices that go along with it?

The answer? It’s pretty arbitrary but governments had to use a benchmark and 21 is the time when most kids have reached adulthood.

Listen Well

When talking with your kid about drinking, start by being a good listener. Peer pressure to drink or do other drugs heightens as they get older and go to high school and college.

The scary factoid that exists today is that studies done on underage drinking show that the average age when kids experiment with alcohol is 11.

Yup, you read that right. Sixth grade.

Ask your kid why he wants to drink. What worries him most? Is it not fitting in with his friends who are drinking? Does she drink to feel better about herself?

Role Playing

Many teens … and adults, too … have trouble saying no to peers. Do some role playing and get your kid in the habit of saying no, confidently, to drugs or alcohol.

It’s not easy to do but if you practice enough with your kids they’ll get the hang of it.

Make Sure They Know Your Family Values

We know someone who has handled her teen’s beer drinking really well. She’s a single mom and sat her senior in high school down to chat about what her friends were doing when they got together. While she didn’t condone drinking, she knew that there was also not much she could do to stop it short of locking her daughter in her room and that would shut off the communication she had worked hard to build.

What did they do? They made a plan together. Mom agreed not to scream at her daughter if she had been drinking as long as the kid called her if she needed a ride home because she over-indulged.

Since this plan was set, the daughter has never come home drunk nor has she had to call for a ride. It has helped her make smart choices including saying no to alcohol even at college.

Be a Good Role Model

If you as a parent reach for alcohol the moment you step through the door every evening, that is sending a message to your child that the only way to unwind at the end of the day is by drinking.

Remember, your behavior reflects your beliefs and values and your saying no to the regular use of alcohol will help them do the same.

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