50 Ways to Love a Child

Sunday, October 18, 2015 No comments

We have such a deep love for our children. Everything we do, every decision we make from the time they come into our lives, we do because we love them so very much. The question is, though, how much do they feel our love? We may say it a hundred times a day, but are we really speaking their language?

In The 5 Love Languages of Children, authors Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell outline the 5 different ways children receive love. All children receive love through each language, but for each child, there is one particular that has the loudest voice. This personal love language fills their tank the fastest. This is important because when a child’s tank is full, when they feel loved and connected, they are happier, more cooperative, and they take in what we teach much more readily.
If you aren’t sure what your child’s love language is, you can take the assessment here.
Don’t have time for the assessment? Ask yourself these three simple questions:
  1. How does my child show love to me?
  2. What do they often request?
  3. What makes their eyes light up?
When speaking your child’s love language, attitude is everything. When doing an act of service or giving a gift, for example, it must come from a genuine place of wanting to show love and never be for the purpose of bribing or manipulating a child. It’s important to communicate genuine, unconditional love to fill their tanks with.

Physical Touch – Physical affection is an easy way to show our love. Most children are receptive to this language, and for some, it speaks the loudest.

Here are 10 ways to show love to the child whose love language is physical touch.
  1. Hold hands when you walk side by side or when you tell stories.
  2. Give high fives.
  3. Offer lots of hugs and kisses.
  4. Sit close or invite them on to your lap.
  5. Give back rubs or foot massages.
  6. Touch their shoulder when talking or making a request.
  7. Ask often if they need a hug or cuddle.
  8. Offer hugs and cuddles after correction.
  9. Play Twister, roughhouse, or other physical games.
  10. Make up a special secret handshake between the two of you.
Words of Affirmation – Every child blossoms with words of encouragement and positive guidance. These kind words nurture a child’s sense of worth and feelings of security. For some children, this is how they receive love the best. Be aware that criticism and a harsh tone of voice or negative body language are particularly hard on children whose primary love language is words of affirmation.

Here are 10 ways to show love in this language.
  1. Give the child a sweet nickname.
  2. Leave notes in their lunchbox.
  3. Say “I love you” first and often.
  4. Tell them why you like them.
  5. Verbally affirm their positive actions.
  6. Tell them you’re proud of them.
  7. Offer sincere, heartfelt compliments.
  8. Verbalize your love after correction.
  9. Write notes, cards, or letters.
  10. Find something off of this list of 64 Positive Things to Say to Children to say each day.
Quality Time – Spending time with our children when we are intently focused on them, pushing aside our agendas and distractions, is a beautiful gift. Quality time says “You are important to me. I like spending time with you.”

If Quality Time is your child’s love language, here are 10 ways to fill her tank.
  1. Play with them without distractions.
  2. Read together.
  3. Go on mommy/daddy dates. Here are some ideas.
  4. Let your child choose how to spend the time together.
  5. Cook together or have dinner together regularly.
  6. Tell them stories of your childhood.
  7. Laugh and tell jokes.
  8. Practice active listening.
  9. Create traditions.
  10. Spend quality time together after correction.
Gifts – All children like gifts, but for the child whose love language is gifts, it’s not about just collecting objects. The gift is a symbol of the thought behind it. It says, “I was thinking of you.” The cost is not important.

Here are 10 meaningful ideas for speaking this language. Finish reading this article at CreativeChild.

For more of my Positive Parenting articles featured in Creative Child Magazine, click here.

7 Ways to Stop Misbehavior

Children behave the way they do for a reason, and rather than simply looking to punish the behavior, positive parenting is about looking for and addressing the reasons behind it. Below, I’m outlining 7 top reasons children misbehave and to address each one, so as to stop the misbehavior.
Remember, punishing a misbehavior may stop it temporarily, but it doesn’t solve the problem underneath, and often times, that problem will just manifest in other ways until it is addressed and solved.

Reason #1: Attention

It’s a simple fact that children need a lot of attention, yet we tend to get frustrated at them when they display certain behaviors “just to get our attention.” I love what Dr. Gordon Neufeld says about this: “If we see a child who wants attention, why wouldn’t we give it to him? Why wouldn’t we meet this basic need?”

In today’s buzzing and distracted world, we can spend the entire day in the presence of our children and still not give them much attention. It can be difficult to juggle all the balls we have in the air. It comes down to prioritizing. If you give most of your focused attention to your child when she misbehaves, that’s likely what she’ll keep doing. On the other hand, if you give plenty of positive, loving attention, there will be no need to misbehave to get it.

If you suspect attention is the reason behind your child’s misbehavior, try these tips:

1. Practice active listening whenever you can.
If your child is speaking to you, make a point to stop what you’re doing, make eye contact, and listen with the intent of understanding. If you cannot do so at that moment, say, “I’d love to hear what you have to say. Give me a few minutes, and I’ll give you my full attention.”

2. When your child is engaged in positive behaviors (is being helpful, kind, or cooperative), offer genuine, descriptive feedback. This is not the same as “good job.”

Descriptive feedback says:
  • “I see you. I’m paying attention!”
  • It means you notice the effort, not just the outcome.
  • It’s “Thank you for being patient while I was on the phone. I see you were wanting to show me your drawing, but you waited. I appreciate that” rather than “good job not interrupting.”
3. If you have more than one child, you already know they can compete for your attention.
Solve this by carving out one-on-one time with each child. It doesn’t have to be a really long amount of time; even a few minutes of focused attention a day can have a positive impact on behavior.

Reason #2: Independence /Control
Your toddler always responds with “NO!” Your preschooler refuses to leave the playground and a tantrum ensues. At some point after our little people realize they are separate beings from us, they start wanting to exert some independence. They want control over which cup they use, what they eat, what they wear.

This can be frazzling for parents who just want their children to drink out of the cup that’s clean without crying about it, or to eat their healthy meal, or to not wear the Batman costume to the grocery store…again!

So how can you stop misbehavior caused by a desire for control? Try these tips:

1. Know when to concede.
Does it matter if she must have the red cup? Will wearing that mismatched outfit cause a problem? Will it hurt to be washed off standing up rather than taking a full bath? Yes, sometimes children must go by our rules. Ultimately, we have the final say, but it’s good to give away control where you don’t really need it. Besides, these small doses of independence now is training ground for making bigger choices later.

2. Be clear about what is non-negotiable.
If you’re giving up control over the small things that don’t matter, your child will be more likely to comply when it does. Be firm during the times when there is no choice by not leaving it up for debate. There is only a power struggle when both people are pulling, so don’t pull. Instead, take action. If you asked your child to pick up his toys and he didn’t, calmly walk him over to the toys and point to them. If he still resists, try a when/then statement. “When these are picked up, then you can go play.”

3. Teach your child to say “no” respectfully.
It is important to retain the ability to say “no.” Your child will need to be comfortable saying “no” all through life, so teach her how to say it respectfully by offering a reason and an alternative. “I would prefer to clear the tablet after dinner than to set the table now because I'm in the middle of this game.” Of course, this takes time to teach, so be consistent and model this when you must say “no” as well.

Reason #3: Copying Others
He repeats a bad word he heard on television. She tries out the name-calling she heard from her BFF. If your child is copying the poor behavior of others, it’s time to be more stringent about what they’re exposed to. Monitor online activity, television shows, and music. Pay attention to their peer relationships.

You can’t have complete control over what they’re exposed to, especially once they’re older and in school. However, it is the parent’s responsibility to both protect them from as many negative influences as possible and teach them how to make good choices when those negative influences are present.

Here’s how to stop copied misbehavior:

1. Realize that some copying is normal.
It’s just part of growing up and learning. Stay consistent about your family rules and expectations.

2. Minimize exposure to the bad influence.
If one particular friend seems to be the bad influence, limit playdates or be the one to host them so you can keep a watchful eye.

3. Banish hurtful words.
If your child picks up negative language, set clear rules about appropriate language and help her express herself in a more appropriate way. “It hurts your brother’s feelings when you call him ‘stupid.’ Hurtful words are not allowed in our family. If you're upset with him, say ‘I’m upset with you right now, please leave me alone’ but don’t call him names.”

Reason #4: Connection
A strong connection is what gives us influence with our children. If that connection is strained, they are more likely to misbehave. Even if your bond has taken a downward turn and your child is acting out, you can stop the bad behavior.

Here are some ways you can stop the misbehavior and strengthen your relationship:

1. Make sure you’re speaking your child’s love language.
Their particular love language is what fills their tanks the fastest. Ensuring that your child feels deeply loved, speaking their language, will help your connection flourish.

2. Make time for play.
Go into their world for a while and let them direct the play. This kind of focused attention builds connection fast.

3. Find reasons to laugh together.
Watch a funny movie, tell jokes, dress up in goofy costumes, or play a silly game. Laughter brings us closer together and helps dissipate any negative feelings we may be carrying.

4. Check out these resources for other ways to connect with your children:
Reason #5: Lack of Skills
...continue reading this article at Creative Child.

For more of my Positive Parenting articles featured in Creative Child Magazine, click here.

10 Super Stellar Sensory Activities

Tuesday, October 6, 2015 No comments

In their new book, Sensory Processing 101, the authors describe the 8 sensory systems. These are:
  1. The auditory system (sense of hearing) 
  2. The olfactory system (sense of smell)
  3. The oral sensory system (sense of taste)
  4. The vestibular system (how we sense where our bodies are in space)
  5. The proprioceptive system (our sense of the way our bodies move)
  6. The tactile system (sense of touch)
  7. The visual system (sense of sight)
  8. The interoceptive system (general sense of our body’s physical system, such as hunger).
These sensory systems work to take in information from the child’s surroundings and send it to the nervous system, which processes it and generates a response or reaction. Sensory processing, then, is the way the body receives, analyzes, and responds to the information received from the environment. The authors say that, “Thoughtful, guided exposure to playful sensory experiences is the best way to promote healthy development of the sensory systems.”

From Sensory Processing 101, I’ve chosen 10 of my favorite sensory activities that will help your child develop these systems well. There are many more to choose from in the book so be sure to check it out!

Activity 1: (Oral Sensory System Activity) Mouthercises:

Demonstrate each of these sounds and movements and ask your child or children to imitate.
  1. Buzz like a bee.
  2. Make a clicking noise with your tongue.
  3. Pucker up and make loud kissing noises.
  4. Open your mouth wide and say “AAAHHHH!”
  5. Press your lips together tightly and say “MMMMMMM!”
  6. Blow up your cheeks big like a bubble and then use your hands to “pop” the bubble.
  7. Stick your tongue out as far as you can.
  8. Have a silly face contest.
Activity 2: (Auditory System Activity) Blindfold Navigation

Set up a simple, safe course to navigate. Take turns being the leader and the follower. The follower gets blindfolded and the leader gives verbal directions to move around the course, such as “take 3 steps forward and turn right.” You may want to start practicing without the blindfold first, and make sure this activity is always supervised by an adult.

Activity 3: (Visual System Activity) Doodle Guessing Game

Cut out pictures from magazines or use photographs. Gather dry erase markers and clear plastic sheet protectors. Place a picture and a clear plastic sheet protector side by side on a table. Tell the child to find a specific object in the picture.

For example, if it’s a photo of children playing on a playground, ask your child to find the slide. Give him a marker and ask him to outline or circle on the sheet protector where he thinks the object would be if the sheet protector were placed on top of the image. Then place the plastic sheet protector on top of the image and see how the circles match up with the objects.

Activity 4: (Olfactory System Activity) Smell and Feel

For this activity, you’ll need empty containers, cotton balls, scented oils, and objects to match each scent to, such as a lemon and an orange, and so on. Add 1-2 drops of oil to a cotton ball. For very young children, start with familiar scents, like orange and berry. Place one cotton ball in each container, and place the real objects on the table in front of your child. Talk about the items on the table. Then blindfold the child. Give her one of the scented containers with a cotton ball inside and ask her to feel her way around the table to find the matching object.

Activity 5: (Auditory System Activity) Repeat My Rhythm

Tap a simple rhythm on the table and ask your child to imitate it. Then let your child tap the rhythm and you try to imitate it. Start with just a few beats and get increasingly more complex.
Get creative and use household items to create a beat!
  • wooden spoons
  • pots and pans
  • plastic bottles
  • pens and markers
Activity 6: (Vestibular System Activity) Donkey Kicks

Start in a standing position. Lean over and put both hands and feet on the ground. Make sure nothing is behind you! Keep your hands on the ground and jump with your legs kicking behind you.

Activity 7: (Proprioceptive System Activity) Hot Lava

Scatter pillows around the floor. The floor is lava and the kids must jump on the pillows to stay safe. For added fun, mom or dad can be the “lava dragon” who chases them around!
And of course when there are pillows, there will be a lot of fun to be had!

Activity 8: (Proprioceptive System Activity) Bubble Wrap Stomp Art

You’ll need washable tempera paint, large paper, and various sizes of bubble wrap. Squirt the paint on the paper in drops or lines. Cover with bubble wrap and let your child jump all over it with bare feet. Slowly pull off the bubble wrap to see the results.

Activity 9: (Visual System Activity) Mirror Mirror

Have kids pair up (or you be the partner) and designate someone to be the leader of each set of partners. Each set of partners should stand face to face. When the leader changes position, the partner has to mimic the position. The leader continues changing position with the partner mimicking. Switch partners and repeat.

Activity 10: (Tactile System Activity) Mess-Free Finger Painting

This activity is great for children who are hypersensitive to tactile input. Fill a plastic freezer bag with a few drops of two different colors of paint. Tape the bag to the table on top of a white piece of paper and let your child paint without the mess.

Check out Sensory Processing 101 for more great activities plus check lists, reference guides, and even an index of behaviors! These playful activities not only help your child develop healthy sensory systems, but they’re a great way for you to play and connect each day.

Have fun!

As published at Creative Child

For more of my Positive Parenting articles featured in Creative Child Magazine, click here.

31 Days of Play: October

Thursday, October 1, 2015 No comments

Play is an important part of maintaining connection with our kids, but with so much to do every day, it can be difficult to find the time and energy. Here are 31 ideas, one for each day of the month, that don’t take a lot of time or money. Commit to playing a little every day and see what a difference it makes in your home!

  1. Make a fall-themed sensory bin and explore it with your child. Check out these 10 fun bin ideas for some inspiration.
  2. Grab a few leaves from the yard and do leaf rubbings or do one of these leaf crafts.
  3. Make a fun treat together. These ghost cookies are easy and really cute!
  4. Rake a pile of leaves together and jump in them.
  5. Play a card game. We like Uno the best.
  6. Make sculptures with toothpicks and miniature marshmallows.
  7. Go pumpkin bowling! Make ghost faces on 6 rolls of toilet paper and stack them up. Drill holes in a pumpkin like a bowling ball and see who can knock down the most ghosts!
  8. Start a new read aloud and read for 30 minutes before bed every night. Our favorites are The Chronicles of Narnia books. Here is a great list.
  9. Decorate pumpkins. For a fun alternative to carving, try cookie cutters and a rubber mallet to pound shapes into the pumpkin, or pick up a craft kit at your local Dollar Store.
  10. Have a drawing contest, or play Win, Lose, or Draw!
  11. Dress up and a photo shoot.
  12. Amaze your child with a simple magic trick, then teach him how to do it too!
  13. Get out the pots and pans and make your own band, and perform!
  14. Have a dance party.
  15. Make an indoor obstacle course.
  16. Play hot potato.
  17. Build with wooden blocks or Legos together.
  18. Play indoor hopscotch using masking tape on the floor.
  19. Play Simon Says, Red Light Green Light, or Musical Chairs.
  20. Make paper airplanes and fly them.
  21. Make 10 sticky notes and put them on the walls in your child's room. On each one, write one thing you love about them. If they're too small to read, draw them little pictures, and tell them what you drew.
  22. Play a board game like Candy Land or Scrabble.
  23. Make dinosaur fossils with playdough and toy dinosaurs. Imprint and let dry.
  24. Go on an evening hike through the autumn trees.
  25. Go on a ghost hunting adventure with white balloons and NERF guns!
  26. Set up a scavenger hunt.
  27. Go geocaching! Great resource here!
  28. Grab your pillow cases and have a sack race.
  29. Stay up late and watch a family friendly scary movie.
  30. Drive around a nearby neighborhood to look at Halloween decorations.
  31. Bake apple pies together.
  32. Have fun with your family and enjoy all 31 days of October! Show us some of your fall photos in the comments below!

This post was originally published at Creative Child.

For more of my Positive Parenting articles featured in Creative Child Magazine, click here.