No Cry Discipline Solution Questions
What to do
Pick the right restaurant.
Choose a restaurant based on its level of child-friendliness. What’s important? The availability of a children’s menu that includes food your kids will actually eat. The absence of a long wait for a table. Booster seats or high chairs. Private booths or eating nooks as opposed to one large open room. And a noisier, family-friendly atmosphere.
Teach restaurant manners at home.
If you are casual about mealtime manners at home, don’t expect your children to miraculously develop table manners because you happen to be sitting in a restaurant. Practice good manners at home for every meal, and your children will be prepared when you eat out.
Have longer sit-down meals at home.
Typically, at home we call our children to the table when all the food is ready, and then excuse them as soon as they are finished eating. If you want to practice for restaurant visits it’s a good idea to have them come to the table a few minutes earlier. Then sit and chat for a bit after you are finished with the meal. Make it fun by telling stories or jokes or talking about upcoming plans. Not only will this be great practice for eating out, it’s a wonderful ritual to introduce into your home.
Dine out at your regular meal time.
When possible, stick close to your routine. Plan to dine at a reasonable time, before the kids become famished and tired. If you must go out later than your usual time, then provide your children with a snack at the normal time, and allow them to have a smaller meal at the restaurant, or to eat half the meal and bring the rest home.
Review your restaurant rules before you go.
Be very specific and leave no stone unturned. A sample list of “restaurant rules” might be: Sit in your seat. Use a quiet inside voice. Use your silverware, not your fingers. Have nice conversation, no bickering. If you don’t like something, keep your comments to yourself and fill up on something else. If you have to use the restroom, ask me privately and I’ll take you.
Ask for an immediate appetizer.
Many restaurants automatically bring bread or chips to the table as soon as you are seated. If this isn’t the case, ask for something to be brought out for the kids.
Bring along a few simple toys, like a deck of cards, plastic animals, or small quiet toys that can keep the kids occupied while they wait.
“We ask for to-go boxes and the check at the same time we order our food. This way, if we have to leave because of a tired or whiny child, we can make a fast get away.”
Reagan, mother to Hailey, age 2
What not to do
Don’t imagine that eating out with kids is the same as dining without them.
When you take children to a restaurant the focus is not the cuisine or the atmosphere. It’s all about controlling the excitement and boredom, teaching your children formal manners, and having quality family time.
Don’t stay too long after eating.
Keep your post-meal conversation short. The longer you stay, the more likely your children will run out of patience and act up.
Don’t make them eat what they don’t like.
Stick with familiar foods when possible. If the grilled cheese sandwich your child ordered turns out to be Swiss cheese on sourdough allow your child to eat the French fries and pack up the sandwich. A restaurant is not the place to battle over new and unfamiliar foods.
Don’t stay if you’re not having fun.
If a child’s behavior gets out of hand, take her to the restroom or out to the car for a time out so that she can calm down. If she continues to misbehave, don’t be afraid to ask for doggie bags and leave the restaurant. But don’t give up. Review your expectations and try again.
Controlling their emotions
Most often these behaviors are caused by a child’s inability to express or control his emotions. Tiredness, hunger, boredom, frustration and other causes that ignite The Big Three can frequently be avoided or modified. When your child begins a meltdown, try to determine if you can tell what underlying issue is causing the problem. Solve that problem and you’ll likely have your sweet child back again.
Handling tantrums, fussing and whining
No matter how diligent you are in recognizing trigger causes, your child will still have meltdown moments. Or even meltdown days. The following tips can help you handle those inevitable bumps in the road. Be flexible and practice those solutions that seem to bring the best results.
You may be able to avoid problems by giving your child more of a say in his life. You can do this by offering choices. Instead of saying, “Get ready for bed right now,” which may provoke a tantrum, offer a choice, “What would you like to do first, put on your pajamas or brush your teeth?” Children who are busy deciding things are often happy.
When you make a request from a distance your child will likely ignore you. Noncompliance creates stress, which leads to fussing and tantrums – from both of you. Instead, get down to your child’s level, look him in the eye and make clear, concise requests. This will catch his full attention.
Tell him what you DO want
Instead of focusing on misbehavior and what you don’t want him to do, explain exactly what you’d like your child to do or say instead. Give him simple instructions to follow.
Validate his feelings
Help your child identify and understand her emotions. Give words to her feelings, “You’re sad. You want to stay here and play. I know.” This doesn’t mean you must give in to her request, but letting her know that you understand her problem may be enough to help her calm down.
Teach the Quiet Bunny
When children get worked up, their physiological symptoms keep them in an agitated state. You can teach your child how to relax and then use this approach when fussing begins.
You can start each morning or end each day with a brief relaxation session. Have your child sit or lie comfortably with eyes closed. Tell a story that he’s a quiet bunny. Name body parts (feet, legs, tummy, etc.) and have your child wiggle it, and then relax it.
Once your child is familiar with this process you can call upon it at times when he is agitated. Crouch down to your child’s level, put your hands on his shoulders, look him in the eye and say, let’s do our Quiet Bunny. And then talk him through the process. Over time, just mentioning it and asking him to close his eyes will bring relaxation.
Distract and involve
Children can easily be distracted when a new activity is suggested. If your child is whining or fussing try viewing it as an “activity” that your child is engaged in. Since children aren’t very good multi-taskers you might be able to end the unpleasant activity with the recommendation of something different to do.
Invoke his imagination
If a child is upset about something, it can help to vocalize his fantasy of what he wishes would happen: “I bet you wish we could buy every single toy in this store.” This can become a fun game.
Use the preventive approach
Review desired behavior prior to leaving the house, or when entering a public building, or before you begin a playdate. This might prevent the whining or tantrum from even beginning. Put your comments in the positive (tell what you want, not what you don’t want) and be specific.
When it’s over, it’s over
After an episode of misbehavior is finished you can let it go and move on. Don’t feel you must teach a lesson by withholding your approval, love or company. Children bounce right back, and it is okay for you to bounce right back, too.
Our children bring us incredible joy. Yet, there are times that they can bring out the anger in us. It is helpful to identify the things that provoke your anger so you can make positive changes in your household.
What sets you off?
Most parents get angry over issues that are insignificant in the grand scheme of life, yet happen on such a regular basis that they become blown out of proportion. Some of the most common parenting issues that trigger anger are whining, temper tantrums, sibling bickering, and non-cooperation. Determine which behaviors most bother you and set about making a plan to correct each problem that sets off your anger.
Notice your hot spots
In addition to triggers, there are “hot spots” in the day when anger more easily rises to the surface. These are typically times when family members are tired, hungry or stressed. These emotions leave us more vulnerable to anger. This can happen in the early morning, before naptime, before meals, or at bedtime. You may also encounter situations when misbehavior increases, and so does your anger: grocery shopping, playdates, or family visits, for example.
Set a plan
Determine if there are things you can do differently to ward off some of the issues that spark your anger. For example, if the morning rush brings stress, you can prepare things the night before: set out clothing, pack lunches, collect shoes. Then create a “morning poster” that outlines the daily routine step-by-step.
If you find that tempers are shorter in the hour before dinner, set out healthy appetizers, enlist the kids’ help in preparing dinner, get the kids involved in a craft activity, or plan an earlier meal time.
Doing things the way you’ve always done them and expecting different results only leaves you frustrated and angry. Instead, identify your anger triggers and take action to change things for the better.
Learn something new
Once you’ve identified a problem, consider several options for solving it. Jot down possible alternatives on paper, or talk it over with another adult. Read through a few parenting books and check the indexes for your topic. Visit an online parenting chat group or posting board. There’s no reason for you to make decisions in a vacuum – I guarantee that the problems you are dealing with are common and there are lots of sources for solutions.
Anger is not something that can be dealt with once and then will go away. Your children grow and change, and new issues appear. From time to time take a fresh look at the issues that create negative emotions in your family and take action to change things for the better.
Let love help
And, finally, at times of anger, hold on to the feeling of love that is the foundation of your relationship with your child. Take time every day to bask in the joy of being a parent. Take time to play, talk and listen. Hug, kiss and cuddle your child often. When you build up this foundation of positive love and emotions you will find yourself less likely to experience intense anger.
Intercede before it happens
Watch your child during playtime. When you see her becoming frustrated or angry – intervene. Coach her through the issue. Teach her what to do, or model what to say to her friend. Or if she seems too upset to learn, redirect her attention to another activity until her emotions level out.
Teach and explain
It’s one thing to tell a child what not to do or to step into an argument and solve it yourself. It’s another thing entirely to teach her what to do in advance of the next problem. This can be done through role-play, discussion, and reading a few children’s books about angry emotions.
Examine hidden causes
Is your child hungry, tired, sick, jealous, frustrated, bored or scared? If you can identify any feelings driving your child’s actions you can address those along with the aggressive behavior.
Give more attention to the injured party.
Often the child who hits gets so much attention that the action becomes a way of gaining the spotlight. Instead, give more attention to the child who was hurt. After a brief statement, “No hitting!” turn and give attention to the child who was wronged, “Come here and Mommy will give you a hug and read you a book.”
Teach positive physical touches.
Show your child how to hold hands during a walk or how to give a back rub or foot massage. Teach a few physical games, like tag or cat’s cradle. Under direct supervision, children who are more physical can gain a positive outlet for their physical energy.
Teach the clapping method
Tell a child to clap his hands whenever he feels an urge to hit. This gives him an immediate outlet for his emotions and helps him learn to keep his hands to himself. An alternate is to teach him to put his hands in his pockets when he feels like hitting. Reward with praise anytime you see he’s successful.
Give your child a time out
To use Time Out when a child acts out aggressively, immediately and gently take the child by the shoulders, look him in the eye and say, “No hurting others, time out.” Guide the child to a chair and tell him, “You may get up when you can play without hitting.” By telling him that he can get up when he’s ready, you let him know that he is responsible for controlling his own behavior. If the child gets up and hits again, say, “You are not ready to get up yet,” and direct him back to time out.
Avoid play hitting and wrestling
Young children who roughhouse with a parent or sibling during play time might then use these same actions during non-wrestling times. It can be hard for them to draw the line between the two. If you have a child who has trouble controlling his physical acts then avoid this kind of play.
Don’t lose control
When you see your child hurting another child it’s easy to get angry. This won’t teach your child what she needs to learn: how to control her emotions when others are making her mad. You are mad at her, so she’ll be watching how you handle your anger.
Don’t let your child watch violent TV or video games
Children can become immune to the impact of violence, and they may copy what they see depicted on the screen. Avoid viewing shows that portray aggression as an appropriate way of handling anger.
Don’t assume your child can figure it out
If your child comes to you about a difficult situation, don’t send him away for tattling. But don’t step in and handle it for him, either. View his call for help as an invitation to teach him important social skills.
Don’t focus on punishment
More than anything your child needs instructions on how to treat other human beings, particularly during moments of anger or frustration.
Give lessons and examples
Teach your children how to determine if something warrants an interruption, as they may have a hard time deciphering when interruptions are justified. Discuss examples of when it’s okay to interrupt, such as when someone is at the door, or if a sibling is hurt.
Coach proper manners
Teach your child how to wait for a pause in the conversation and to say, “Excuse me.” When she remembers to do this, respond positively. If the interruption is about something that should wait, politely inform your child of this.
Don’t answer the question.
Many parents admonish kids for interrupting, but in the same breath respond to the child’s interrupted request, which just reinforces the habit.
Watch your manners
Parents sometimes jump in so quickly to correct their child’s bad manners that they don’t realize that the way in which their correction is delivered is itself rude. Use your own good manners to model appropriate communication skills. Pause, look at your child, and say, “I’ll be with you in a minute.”
Teach “The Squeeze”
Tell your child that if she wants something when you are talking to another adult, she should gently squeeze your arm. You will then squeeze her hand to indicate that you know she is there and will be with her in a minute. At first, respond quickly so your child can see the success of this method. Over time you can wait longer, just give a gentle squeeze every few minutes to remind your child that you remember the request.
Create a busy-box
Put together a box of activities or games that can only be used when you are on the telephone, working at your desk, or talking with an adult. Occasionally refill it with new things or rotate the contents. Be firm about putting them away when you are done. Your child will be look forward to your next conversation, which will be interruption free!
Before you make a phone call or have a visitor, let your child know what to expect. “I’m going to make a phone call. I’ll be a while, so let’s get your busy box ready to use while I’m on the phone.”
Give praise when deserved
Catching your child doing the right thing can be the best lesson of all. Praise your child for using good manners, for remembering to say “excuse me,” and for interrupting only for a valid reason.
Think about it
Children live according to a much slower clock than we adults do. They don’t give a moment’s thought to what they might be doing next. They prefer to enjoy each moment for what it is. They pause as they watch the cat sleep, examine the color patterns in the carpet, and ponder the reasons for having toes. If you think about it, it’s a shame that we can’t all live on “kid-time.”
What to do
Give specific step-by-step directions.
Make incremental requests that your child can easily follow. Give your child one or two tasks at a time, and when complete, assign the next. “Please put your puzzle in the box and go to the bathroom.”
Make a list.
Write down the sequence of tasks to be completed and give the list to your child with a pencil to cross things off as they’re done.
Give an incentive to finish.
Encourage your child to finish the task with a “When/Then” statement, such as, “When you get in the car, then you can have your crackers.”
Analyze your own daily schedule.
Determine if you are trying to do too much. If you are, see if you can make some changes. Start focusing on the priorities in your life, eliminate some of the unnecessary time-wasters, and slow yourself down a little bit.
Check your child’s nap and sleep schedules.
Children who aren’t getting a proper amount of sleep will lack energy and tend to move slowly and dawdle.
What not to do
Don’t rush your child with the words, “Come on!” or “Hurry up!”
These requests tend to frustrate children and then they rush to the point of taking extra time to make up for the mistakes that happen when they move too fast.
Don’t reinforce the pattern.
Children often dawdle out of habit. A parent will announce, “Time to go” and then be distracted by a phone call or a household task (so then it really isn’t time to go.) Children come to expect that you’ll repeat yourself numerous times before they have to respond. Practice this: think before you speak, make a very specific request, and then follow through.
Don’t expect speed.
Allow a reasonable amount of time for your child to meet your request. Watch your child to learn his pace. Just because you are in a hurry doesn’t mean your child will move any faster than his usual speed.
Make clear, specific statements that don’t leave room for misunderstanding. As an example, instead of the vague statement, “Get ready to go,” clarify by saying, “Right now, would you please put on your shoes and your coat, and get in the car.”
Think about it
Sharing is a complicated social skill that takes guidance and practice to develop. Young children get very attached to their possessions, and they don’t understand how sharing will affect them or their toy. In order to get a better understanding of these feelings, think for a minute about one of your most prized or important possessions – perhaps your computer, camera, car or boat. Now think of having a friend take it away to use for a day. That feeling of apprehension and uncertainty, plus inexperience, may be at the root of your child’s reluctance to share.
What to do
Demonstrate how to share.
Share things with your child and point out that you are sharing. For example, “Would you like a turn on my calculator? I’d be happy to share it with you.”
Encourage your child to share toys with you.
It’s often easier for a child to share with a parent, since the child knows you’ll be careful and that you’ll give the toy back when you’re done. It makes for good sharing practice. When you hand her toy back, explain what she just did, “You shared so nicely, thank you.” That way she has a good feeling about what it means to share, since her young friends probably won’t treat it the same way.
Give your child choices.
Instead of demanding that your child share a specific toy, give her some options. For example, “Sarah would like to play with a stuffed animal. Which one would you like to let her play with?”
Create situations that require sharing.
Your child can get good practice with sharing when given toys or games that require two or more people to play, such as board games or yard games (like badminton or ball games.) Also look for activities that have plenty of parts for everyone, such as modeling clay, coloring or art projects, or building with blocks.
Let your child know what to expect prior to a sharing situation.
Before a friend’s visit let her know how long the friend will be there, and reassure her that all her things will still be hers after the friend leaves. Allow your child to put away a few favorite things that do not have to be shared. Never require a child to share a special toy that is a frequent plaything or bedtime companion.
Praise good sharing moments.
Watch for good things that happen – no matter how briefly – and praise your child for sharing nicely.
“My children were constantly fighting over toys, even if there are two identical ones. My husband bought one of those label making machines, and now if one of the children has a special toy we label it. My son, Daniel is into spelling things right now, so he types his name onto the label maker, prints it out and sticks the label on his toy. We help my daughter label her toys, too. They both beam at seeing their names on their special things, and they respect each other’s toys as well.”
Ezia, mother to Daniel, age 4 and Sedona, age 2
What not to do
Don’t shame your child for not sharing.
If your child isn’t willing to share he needs to learn more about the process. Teach, rather than punish.
Don’t embarrass your child with a public reprimand.
Even if you’ve given lessons, prepared your child and set up a good situation for sharing, your child might still refuse to share. When this happens, take him to another room and discuss the issue privately, and set a plan.
Don’t force your child to share special toys, gifts or lovies.
Some things should be exempt from sharing rules, such as a favorite doll, a stuffed animal he sleeps with, a fragile toy, or a gift recently given to him.
Think about it
Often it’s not shopping that young children object to, but the stressful, business-like approach that parents adopt when running errands. In addition to that, many adult events are uninteresting to children, and the length of most shopping excursions tends to exceed a child’s limited amount of patience.
What to do
View shopping trips as an event rather than an errand.
This is a great time to achieve two things at once: get your shopping done and have some quality time with your child. If you are a busy, multi-tasking parent you’ll find this mindset helps you have a more patient, pleasant attitude which will easily rub off on your child.
Plan more time to shop.
When you are not in a rush, you and your child will be more relaxed and have a more pleasant time. If you must hurry, make a list in advance and stick to it. Roaming the store for random purchases makes it a much longer trip.
Engage your child.
Most children love to be helpers at the store. They can carry things to the car, choose produce, and find items on the shelves. Children who can reader might enjoy having their own short list of items to find.
Ask him for input.
When you can, pick two similar items ask your child which one you should buy. Having a say in what you put in the cart is very exciting and empowering for children.
Acknowledge your child’s desires.
“Yummy. Those cookies do look good.” Follow this with a statement of why you’ll not be buying it, without sounding reproving, such as, “But we’re not buying any cookies today.”
Create a written or an imaginary wish list.
Whenever your child says, “I want this” tell him that you will remember that he likes it. You can even jot it down on paper and call it his wish list.
Prevent the constant gimmees.
Let your child know in advance what you will or will not be buying that day before you enter the store. If you can allow him to choose one treat to put in the basket each time you shop he will know not to ask for an endless list of things. Having to decide on his one thing also gives a purpose to the trip.
Have consistent rules.
If you shop frequently it will help to write out the top five or six shopping rules and put the note card in the car. Review the rules each time before you shop.
What not to do
Don’t take a hungry child food shopping.
You might not intentionally plan this, but it happens. If it has been an hour or two since your child last ate, the first item on your list should be a snack your child can eat as you shop. A box of crackers, a bag of pretzels or a corn dog can work wonders to take the edge off. (Just remember to pay for it – even if it’s an empty bag.)
Don’t take a tired child shopping.
Avoid scheduling shopping trips too close to nap time. Tired children are absolutely more fussy and impatient.
Don’t shop at the store’s busiest hours.
When possible schedule your shopping times to avoid the biggest crowds. More people in the store mean longer lines and more complications. A quiet, less-populated store will also help you feel less stressed. A cashier or manager can recommend good shopping times.
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Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The No-Cry Separation Anxiety Solution (McGraw-Hill, 2007).
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