How to deal with a defiant toddler

The other day, I ran into my next door neighbour, a lovely lady with three adorable kids. After the first few minutes of social small talk she blurted out her immense exasperation with her two defying toddlers. She asked me, more rhetorically than literally, about what she could do, as losing her cool had not been helping the situation. Being a teacher of 20 years has equipped me with experience of handling young children, but not toddlers. What do you do when a toddler looks you in the eye and does something you have explicitly told them not to? Losing your temper is a justifiable reaction , but is it the best? This got me thinking and researching about writing this post. Read on for the best strategies to deal with a defying toddler.

how-to-deal-with-a-defiant-toddler

WHATEVER YOU DO DON’T LOSE YOUR COOL: You guessed it, all the research shows that you must not lose your cool. As soon as you do that, it’s game over. Defiant behaviour comes down to boundary testing and gaining power. Think of it as a power game, if you lose control the power is in your toddler’s hands, look at what their behaviour can do to you. The more they continue the more you lose it and boy does that feel good, they know how to control and manipulate you.

BE THE EXAMPLE: Children look to adults to model and copy behaviour patterns. If you get angry often, then chances are that your child will do the same. Model the behaviour you want your child to have when things go wrong, or when they get upset. Teach them strategies to calm themselves down, like counting or going somewhere by themselves until they are ready to return.

SET CONSEQUENCES FOR THEIR MISBEHAVIOUR:  There should be consequences for their behaviour, for example a time out system. Give them 2 chances to correct their behaviour and then give them time out. Have them sit alone for a few minutes, it needs to be something immediate and effective. Time out should be a minute for every year of their age.

BE SYSTEMATIC: Whatever you do, be systematic. Your child will know what to expect and will stop being defiant if they reach the same time out spot again and again, without you getting angry. Do not get into a long conversation about it and expect an apology. You are teaching your child about consequences, obedience and remorse in an effective calm manner. I repeat do not lose your cool.

PRAISE GOOD BEHAVIOUR: Just as misbehaviour should have consequences, so should good behaviour.  A reward is a consequence of good behaviour. Good behaviour should be rewarded with praise, affection or extra privileges. Every time your child reacts and responds in a good way, make sure you make them aware of it and praise them. Rewarding them in such a way  encourages more good behaviour.

These strategies are closely linked to the 1-2-3 Magic. I highly recommend that all parents read this book  ‘1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12‘ by Thomas W. Phelan, as it has foolproof strategies for dealing with misbehaving children.

I hope this post helps you. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below to let me know.

Till next time…

Peppi Orfanogianni

 

Benefits of learning joined-up handwriting

Is it important for young generations to learn how to join up their handwriting, especially in the age of iPhones and pads? I’m sure this question has crossed many pupils’ parents’ and teachers’ minds.

Evidence is mounting that putting pen to paper has benefits that typing cannot replace. – CursiveLogic

Benefits of Joined-up Handwriting

CURSIVE Vs JOINED-UP

Is there a difference between cursive and joined-up? According to Wikipedia, cursive is any style of penmanship in which some characters are written joined together in a flowing manner, generally for the purpose of making writing faster. Formal cursive is generally joined, but casual cursive (joined-up) is a combination of joins and pen lifts. So basically it is the same thing, the only difference is one joins up all the letters and the latter has some lifts of the pen.

CURSIVE Vs PRINT

According to neurologist William Klemm, the neurological benefits of writing by hand are compounded with cursive writing.  He states that cursive writing, compared to printing, is even more beneficial because the movement tasks are more demanding, the letters are less stereotypical.  Diane Montgomery posits that the connected letters and fluid motion of cursive handwriting are especially beneficial to students with disorders such as dyslexia and dysgraphia. Brain imaging studies show that cursive activates areas of the brain that do not participate in keyboarding.

HANDWRITING Vs QUALITY OF COMPOSITION

Researchers Steve Graham and Tanya Santangelo found that teaching handwriting is strongly correlated to the improvement in the quality of writing, not just the legibility of the handwriting, but the quality of the composition. Fluent handwriting allows the student to freely concentrate on higher level skills needed for good writing and to write at a much faster speed.

Do you think handwriting should have a slot in the taught curriculum?

Till next time…

Peppi Orfanogianni

Sources: 

Children and Lies

Most parents like to think of their children as angels. “My child never lies,” is a statement that is reiterated and believed by many parents. It usually comes as a huge surprise when parents discover that their children are after all human and do lie. It is within human nature to lie, and research shows that lying even to one’s parents, is a natural and important part of growing up. However at what point is lying a normal part of the growing up process and when is there a need to show concern.

children-and-lies

Arnold Goldberg, a professor of psychiatry at Rush Medical College in Chicago says that “Lying is as much a part of normal growth and development as telling the truth, the ability to lie is a human achievement, one of those achievements that tends to set them apart from all other species.”

Psychiatrists see lying as pathological when it is so destructive it affects the liar’s life and those to whom they lie, writes Daniel Goldman in his New York Times post, Lies Can Point to Mental Disorders or Signal Normal Growth.

Research shows that infants start misleading their parents very early in life. Infants mislead their parents through fake cries, concealing mistakes, and pretending to be injured, just to name a few.

Between the ages of two to three, children start lying when they break established rules and by age five children get quite adept at being able to successfully lie to others. Not only are children predisposed to using deception, but more often than not, children learn this behaviour at home and socialising with others.

Children watch their parents lie and they are explicitly taught to lie by their parents; what we call white lies. It is a social skill that has to be mastered, for positive social interaction, as it is intrinsically linked with good manners and a good upbringing.

According to Daniel Goldman, children lie for the same reasons adults do: to avoid punishment, get something they want or make excuses for themselves. However, preteen-agers usually have not yet learned to tell the white lies of adults, which work as social lubricants or to soothe another’s feelings, researchers say. Those with higher IQs are more likely to use deception.

 

 

As children grow up, deceptive behavior tends to get worse, especially during the teenage years, when children are trying to assert their independence. To make matters more complicated, teenagers tend to put rewards ahead of risks, causing them to act more carelessly and often more deceptively than adults would like.

While there is no one full proof method to deal with lying, if you discover that your child is lying stay calm. Talk to your child about the underlying issue and try to get the whole picture, remind them that you value honesty in your relationship with them. Have consequences that correspond with the child’s age and type of lie. On the other hand, if you are dealing with a child who lies even when there is no reason to lie, or a child who is constantly putting themselves at risk, seeking out professional help may be the wisest course of action.

Till next time…

Peppi Orfanogianni

Further resources: Children and Lying

The importance of hugging your kids

Hugging is SO incredibly powerful, it’s not just beneficial for kids, but for all ages. Whether you’re wrapped up in the arms of your beloved, greeting a friend or saying goodbye, hugs have a way of making us feel special, protected and loved. This simple gesture can do wonders for our well-being and the emotional development of our young ones. Below, are just a few of the many benefits hugging our loved ones gives – be it a bear hug, a cuddle or a warm embrace.

hugging

  • It makes children comfortable with receiving and showing affection toward others
  • It increases good chemicals in the brain which in turn lower stress, promote healing, lower
    blood pressure and make us feel happy
  • It’s a way to communicate love and affection without words
  • It can be a good exercise, rocking, carrying and holding your kids
  • It promotes bonding
  • It creates a healthy sense of personal boundaries
  • It encourages calmness and relaxation
  • It improves immune functions and sleep patterns
  • It lowers anxiety and stress
  • It reduces discomfort from teething, congestion, colic and emotional stress
  • It strengthens the digestive, circulatory and gastrointestinal systems

Research shows that adults need an average of 5 hugs a day. So what are you waiting for? Start those hugs! Just make sure the person on the receiving end is as eager to get them the person giving them. ❤

Till next time…

Peppi Orfanogianni

Special thanks to R. Centeno for the featured image photo. 

 

Taking a closer look at the theory behind dyslexia.

umbrellaDyslexia, a wide umbrella term used to describe a range of difficulties a person may have with reading and phonological awareness. Dyslexia is a  highly controversial term because research has been carried out for different purposes and this has resulted in different findings. A major consequence of this, is that there isn’t a clear conception of dyslexia, making it still quite an unclear term for many. Uncertainty as to how to help someone with dyslexia and what being dyslexic entails are issues that arise within the educational system.

Firstly, it is important to distinguish between what causes dyslexia and what the description of dyslexia is. Descriptions don’t necessarily trace back to the same cause and vice-versa. A great analogy, I read during my Masters course in SEN, was that of an “allergy” – the same allergy can lead to different symptoms depending on the individual. I’m by no means saying that dyslexia is an allergy, I am clearly stating that it is vital to determine the true cause of it, so to administer the appropriate intervention. Someone with dyslexia, needs the appropriate intervention based on the cause of their dyslexia and not only by their symptoms.

Research shows that there are three levels of theory of dyslexia. These are: 

Behavioural – which can be seen as ‘symptoms’ poor reading, spelling, rhyming etc

Cognitive – which can be seen in slow infornation processing; phonological awareness; deficits in short/working memory etc

Biological – how the brain functions, cerebellum, abnormlities in language areas of the brain etc

These levels of theory could be the underlying cause of confusion when it comes to understanding dyslexia. Fawcett notes that one of the reasons of tensions in dyslexia is the different agendas of the individuals or interest groups researching. Practitioners are concerned with the treatment, educational psychologists focus on the symptoms and researchers are concerned with uncovering the cause. Nicolson (2001) mentions other reasons such as marketing issues and increasing ranges of ‘treatments’ for dyslexia. ‘Research’ may confuse and mislead practitioners if there has been claim for the success of a particular so called ‘treatment’.

Firth believes that a causal modelling framework involving all three levels can solve problems and confusion. The integration of all three is essential to support improved student learning.

Dyslexia can be defined as a neuro-developmental disorder with a biological origin and behavioural signs beyond written level. 

Interactions with cultural influences occur at all three levels. When we consider these influences on the clinical demonstration of dyslexia, the difficulties encountered by the individual and possibilities for remediation, only  then can a precise definition of dyslexia be formed.

You will find many definitions of dyslexia by doing a simple search on the internet. Here I share with you just a couple.

In October 2007, the British Dyslexia Association approved the following definition:

“Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that mainly affects the development of literacy and language related skills.  It is likely to be present at birth and to be life-long in its effects.  It is characterised by difficulties with phonological processing, rapid naming, working memory, processing speed, and the automatic development of skills that may not match up to an individual’s other cognitive abilities. It tends to be resistant to conventional teaching methods, but its effect can be mitigated by appropriately specific intervention, including the application of information technology and supportive counseling.

Often there is a negative feeling about having dyslexia because we concentrate on the disadvantages and difficulties it causes. The situation can be turned around to harvest the positive aspects of having dyslexia.

This post hopes to bring more awareness on the theories behind dyslexia. Only by keeping positive and focusing our attention on somebody’s uniqueness can we help them to fully develop into the person they really are.

Till next time…

Peppi Orfanogianni

Bibliography:

Nicolson, R. I., Fawcett, A. J., & Dean, P. (2001). Developmental dyslexia: the cerebellar deficit hypothesis. Trends in Neurosciences

Back to School Checklist for Parents: your 2-week guide.

Before you know it, it will be back to school time and your little ones will be off! Avoid the last-minute drama with this step-by-step guide to ensuring you get everything done in time, in the two weeks leading up to it. Read on to see the checklist that will leave you readily prepared! 

Back to School Checklist for Parents

2 weeks before school starts: 

  • Familiarise yourself with the school website.
  • Purchase the school uniform from the appropriate stores.
  • Label all items of clothing with cute labels that you can get here.
  • Make a list of school supplies you’ll need to purchase as well as any other necessary school related items such as: a new bag; lunch boxes; water bottles etc.
  • Form a plan of the shops you will need to visit for that week.

1 week before school starts: 

  • Organise after-school child care arrangements.
  • Organise routines and enforce bedtime curfews as well as waking up times each day.
  • Shop for groceries for next week’s school lunches, choose healthy food.
  • Label the lunch boxes with your child’s name.
  • Wash and iron school clothes.
  • Discuss any procedures your child should expect.

The night before the first day of school: 

  • Lay out clothes ready for the morning.
  • Have your phone ready for some cute first day morning pictures.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Prepare lunches for the next day.
  • Prepare backpack.

Hope this post helps to get you, dear parents, to a super organised start!

Wishing everyone a great year! ❤

Till next time… 

Peppi Orfanogianni

Related posts: 

8 ways to get your child to eat more fruit and veg

How does extended screen time affect your child?

Screen time – today’s reality – with people of all ages spending hours of their time in front of iPads, computers and touchscreens. These can be educational if used in moderation and in the right way however, overexposure can pose danger, especially for young brains. Read on to find out how they can be affected.

How screen time affects your child's brain?

Research connects delayed cognitive development in kids with extended exposure to electronic media. Between birth and the age of three, the brain develops at a very fast pace, and is particularly sensitive to the environment around it. Changes, which happen in the brain during these first years are critical as they become the permanent foundation of later brain function and development.

In order for the brain’s neural networks to develop normally, specific stimuli from the natural environment is needed. These cannot be exchanged with those found on today’s screens. When a child is overexposed to screens at a tender age their cognitive development can become stunted.

As seen on http://www.psychologytoday.com, Dr. Aric Sigman, an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society of Medicine, states that too much screen time too soon is the very thing that can impede the development of specific abilities that parents are so eager to foster through electronic media. Their ability to focus, to concentrate, to sense other people’s attitudes and communicate effectively with them, to enrich their vocabulary, can be harmed.

Excessive tablet use at a very young age doesn’t allow cognitive muscles to develop,as the device does the thinking for them, thus leaving them week. For example, a story told on-screen, feeds images, words and pictures all at once to a young reader. On the other hand, a story being told live, makes the person hearing it, use their brain to process the voice into words, visualise pictures and exert mental flow to follow the story.

Research has also shown that screen time at a very young age can cause them to have trouble interacting socially, have difficulty making friends and sustaining relationships. Our brains start to decode and comprehend  social interactions at early childhood. Taking non-verbal cues, understanding the tone of voice used and facial expressions is learned at a very early age. If a child spends all this period in front of a screen, these abilities will be dulled, possibly for life.

In a nutshell, screens can be educational when used appropriately and in moderation. Never overdo it and always allow limited, timed access. The older your child gets the more time they can be allowed on it but make sure they power off regularly. This is necessary to help your child understand the set boundaries between the real and virtual world and to avoid taking extreme measures, such as the ones below, at a later stage. 🙂

Till next time…

Peppi Orfanogianni

 

 

My preteen is lying to me…What can I do?

Adolescents and preteens tend to lie more than children and that is simply because they are at an age where they yearn for freedom. Lying is a quick and easy way to gain access to that freedom but it is very deceptive. Your preteen will realise that deceiving others soon proves to be increasingly complex and hurtful. Once the lying yarn has been unwound, then there is no end to the endless tangles and the mess caused. Read on to find out what you, as a parent, can do.

Preteen lying

The first step to dealing with lying, is to make sure there are consequences that are age appropriate. Telling them they cannot have ice-cream for example just won’t do it, at that age. These consequences need to be predictable, that means your child must know what they will be. They should also be proportional in size, to the lie itself, for example if the lie told is a minor one, then the consequence should be small and vice versa.

It is important to realise that the effectiveness of the consequences is not directly related to the length of the punishment. Consequences need to be long enough for your preteen to understand the seriousness of the situation, yet short enough for them to be able to earn back their privileges. Ideally, they should also be directly linked to the offense as much as possible. For example if your child has been staying up late playing on the computer and lying about it, then access to the computer should be denied, and an agreement should be made until the trust can be gained back.

Be reminded to always praise any positive behaviour, even if it is an expectation. It’s not always easy to do, especially if your child has disappointed you. Children who don’t get enough positive attention from their parents, will get it in a negative way.

In a nutshell, if your preteen is lying to you, it is important to balance praise and consequences. Establishing firm boundaries, your child is aware of, and sticking to them is a healthy, positive way to keep your preteen from lying to you again.

Till next time…

Peppi Orfanogianni

Image downloaded from www.onlineparentingcoach.com and modified. 

Parenting around the world

“We do not have a handbook to go by and we may make mistakes, but we do our best to do what we think is best for you.”

Possibly slightly paraphrased; my father’s reason for why my parents would not allow me out one evening, during my teenage years. I do not have kids myself, but I do come in contact with parents on a daily basis, many of which are from different countries. I love this part of my job! ❤  It is true that every family has its own parenting ways, some are down to individuals and others according to nationality and customs. But, one thing all parents have in common, no matter where they come from, is their desire to do what is best for their child.

It is interesting how different cultures affect parenting.  What might be the norm for one culture, can be completely unheard of elsewhere. Read on to find out some fun facts about parenting around the world.

Potty training in China

Believe it or not, in China they start toilet training babies in the first few weeks of their lives. They use a low whistle or similar sound and hold the baby over the potty or sink or wherever when they judge infant is ready to go. This conditions babies to go only when they hear this sound.

image: amazon.com

image: amazon.com

Baby in a pram

Kenyan mothers do not use prams to take their babies on walks. Instead they carry their babies on their backs. Not only because it’s convenient in a country full of dirt roads, but also because it is comforting for the baby to be close to the mother.

40 days

In Greece, it is believed to be unsafe for the baby and mother to leave the house for 40 days after the baby is born. This is in order to avoid infections as well as to allow time for the mother to recover from the birth. It’s a practice that is not carried out as strictly any longer, especially from younger mothers. Children will often wear a little blue bead with a black dot inside of it to protect them from the evil eye, adults will also be seen wearing them.

image: evileyestore.com

Parental leave from work

In Sweden, parents are entitled to 480 days of paid parental leave, when a child is born or adopted. Of those, 90 are reserved for the father. The aim of Sweden’s gender equality policies is to ensure that women and men enjoy the same opportunities, rights and obligations in all areas of life. I wish other countries would follow this, too. When I visited Sweden, I was amazed to see fathers with prams, spending quality time with their children and establishing an even stronger bond. A fourteen year study has shown a direct link between father and baby and the long term mental well-being of the child.

Grandparents

Today the role of the grandparent differs massively depending on where you are. For instance, Native American grandparents play a huge role in raising their grandchildren and educating them in cultural ways. It is more of a cultural norm for Italian and Asian grandparents to live with the family. In Shanghai, China, 90% of children are looked after by one grandparent. In the west, many grandparents help out financially and with childcare.

Till next time…

Peppi Orfanogianni

Bibliography:

Planet Parent, Mark Woods

How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm, Mei-Ling Hopgood.

8 ways to get your child to eat more fruit and veg

We all know that fruit and vegetables are good for us, but how many adults actually eat them regularly? Foods contain combinations of nutrients and other healthy substances. No single food can supply all nutrients in the amounts you need, and that is why you need a variety. Even more so than adults, children who are growing up, need that variety.

Being a class teacher, one can’t help but notice the foods that children consume on a daily basis. It is interesting how some children favour fruit and vegetables while others don’t even go near them. Wondering why this is the case and in search of the answer to it, I did some reading, talked to parents who seemed to have their children’s food choices under control and came up with the following 8 proven ways that will get your child eating more fruit and vegetables. Read on to find out what they are.

8 ways to get your child to eat fruit and veg!

1.Set the example.

What all the parents I talked to had in common was that they ate fruit and vegetables themselves and their house had an abundance of these food choices. Kids favour bland and sweet tastes and will stick to the tastes they are familiar with. Being adventurous with food is something that usually comes later on in life, if as a young child, one has been exposed to different flavours. Usually children will follow their parents’ eating patterns, so make sure you practice what you preach, if you want your child to eat wisely.

 

2. Get them involved.

Actively involving children in the preparation of their food will get them more interested. Taking your children to the supermarket to pick out a few things to cook, will make them excited about dinner time. Cook a recipe together and if they are older have them cook something for themselves.

3. Enforce the “one bite rule”.

Research shows that children who have initially rejected a food must be exposed to it at least 8-10 times for the food to be accepted. After enough exposure, the food will be more familiar to the child and they will begin to rate it more favourably. Tastes are acquired and parents need to be consistent and persistent.

4. Create positive food experiences.

Fighting and punishments create bad feelings and the child will associate healthy eating as a negative experience. Be insistent but try not to start a fight. Research has shown that praising a child for trying one bite of a rejected food, will make it easier for them to try it again and more likely to rate the food positively in the future.

5. Eat the colours of the rainbow.

Working in your favour, is that children prefer colourful food. Expose them to more colours and variety by adding more vegetables to their plates. Get them to notice the colours and point out the goodness of each one, so that it stays in their mind as something good, that they should aim for, too.

6. Make food fun. 

Cook different vegetables separately and place them around the plate in a pattern. Let your creativity run wild and create scenes or faces. Children love it when their food is designed into patterns on their plates because it instantly makes it more fun.

7. Educate your child. 

Guide and empower your children, educating them about the food they eat and its benefits. Telling them to eat it because you say so, won’t hack it. Explain to them that broccoli helps them grow, that carrots help with their eyesight etc. This will make their own food choices more meaningful. In addition, it will help them stick to the right choices in the future.

 

8. Be persistent. 

Some children will be more difficult than others to convince. What is important is that you show patience and persistence. Do not give up . Habits that develop at a young age will remain with them into adulthood and will help them shape their future selves. Your persistence will pay off.

Till next time…

Peppi Orfanogianni

Featured image downloaded from http://www.wholeparent.com and modified for this post. Visit this site for some food preparation ideas for your kids.