When looking for some material for the website I found this list that I wrote as a handout for patients many years ago. It is interesting to me that although I have more experience as a parent, clinician and researcher, these tips are still valid. Using a tool to track these things is always helpful and the THOUGHTFULLBOARD captures the essence of these…….
- Children need limits – discipline helps them feel that life is under control – don’t feel guilty! They see limits as an expression of love and support. Remember you are on the same team-remind kids of that!
- Children need routine – predictability is calming; a predictable daily routine may take weeks to establish but is very important to all children, so keep trying!
- Children need consistency – they need to know that the rules are always the same day-to- day, and all of their caregivers will apply the rules the same way, and that the consequences are predictable each day and between caregivers
- Touch more, Talk Less – touch your child’s arm/shoulder, make eye contact, tell them what you want them to do in as few words as possible – have them repeat it back to you. Use visuals wherever possible to set goals and track achievement - it is more meaningful to the developing brain.
- Show your love – be affectionate, even if your child has made poor choices, let them know that disappointment doesn’t mean that you don’t love them.
- Try to find a quiet time each day for you to spend alone with your child, it doesn’t have to be for long, just time with undivided, quality attention. Before bed is often when children will talk most about worries, fears, school……unplug and listen up. If you listen to the small stuff, your kids will turn to you for the BIG stuff.
- Use a checklist on the fridge at home so your child can refer to the things they need to accomplish each day-the THOUGHTFULLBOARD is just the tool for this
- Catch them being good! Look for decisions you can praise.
- Do not punish when you are angry; never punish to get even. Natural consequences are the best way to learn.
- Allow your child to take short breaks and/or self-requested time-outs - this teaches self-regulation.
- Practice patience – if you stay calm, it will help your child stay calm, too. You will be modelling self-regulation.
- Establish a regular time and place for homework, preferably earlier in the evening, leaving relaxation until closer to bedtime – siblings, phones and TV’s should be removed if at all possible. Often music can help if your child is easily distracted.
- Do things that the child enjoys and/or excels at – extra-curricular activities can be very helpful for your child’s self-esteem
- Find ways to help your child organize his/her time, space and activity – a daily agenda and regular homework time are both helpful.
15. Make sure your child is getting enough rest. A consistent time to get up every morning (including weekends) will help your child settle more easily at night.
- Encourage your children – they will learn that you have confidence in them, this builds self-esteem.