Why doesn’t your child sleep well?

Why doesn’t your child sleep well?

The two mistakes you may be making during your child’s bedtime routine.

By Dr. Lynelle Schneeberg, PSYD

The bad news: you may be making two common mistakes during your preschool- or elementary-aged child’s bedtime routine that are keeping your child from sleeping well.

The good news: both mistakes are easy to fix!

Mistake number one: Staying with your child until he or she is completely asleep. 

Parents often ask me, “Why does my child fall asleep quickly at bedtime but have difficulty staying asleep?” This issue is incredibly common and is most often due to the fact that you may be staying with your child at bedtime until he or she is completely asleep. Perhaps you don’t leave your child’s bedroom until those little eyelids finally close even though you’d love to knock off one or things on your to-do list or, better yet, watch some episodes of (fill in your favorite bingeable show here).

However, if you stay in your child’s room each night until your child is truly and deeply asleep, your little one will soon wake up again during the night (as all children do, usually after a sleep cycle or two). He or she will almost always call you back to his or her bedroom (or show up like a silent little ninja in yours) because he or she only knows how to fall asleep when you are present.

Mistake number two: Granting too many extra requests after the bedtime routine is (supposed to be!) over.

If your child is like most other kids, he or she will make lots of additional requests or trips out of the bedroom after the bedtime routine is over. Your child might ask for “just one more…” story or hug. She might want lots more escorted trips to the bathroom, or he might ask for another check under the bed or even ask to get up to have another snack. My daughters love theater, so I’ve nicknamed these extra requests callbacks (if your child calls you back to the bedroom) or curtain calls (if your child leaves the bedroom to find you).

You may think that if you grant all of these callbacks and curtain calls, your child will finally fall asleep. But in reality, granting all of these extra requests after lights out actually gives your child lots more of your attention which rewards your child for staying awake (not a great plan!)

How can you fix these two mistakes? 

Make sure you and your child have a cozy, comforting and consistent bedtime routine with a very clear endpoint (maybe a final kiss on the forehead). Then leave while your child is still fully awake. Remind him or her to play or read quietly in bed independently until drowsy enough to fall asleep. If your child starts making callbacks and curtain calls, try using bedtime tickets to manage these. Give your child one or two bedtime tickets when the bedtime routine is over and quickly grant a callback or curtain call or two. After the bedtime tickets are gone, remind your child that there are no more tickets but that he or she can play or read quietly in bed until drowsy enough to make the (solo) trip to dreamland.

This plan should allow you to cross off one or two of those things on your to-do list (but I think you’ve probably earned the right to collapse on the sofa and catch up on those seven episodes…)!

Good luck and good sleep! 

Help Your Child with ADHD/ADD Get Ready for College

Is it common for teens with ADHD/ADD and executive function deficit not to accept the resources to learn how to become organized? Also how do they get the help they need once in college?

A common reaction to feeling disorganized, anxious, and out of sync is avoidance. To support your child who may be avoiding helpful resources, start with a conversation about where they see themselves and what their goals are. Try to keep an open mind and put your agenda aside. These conversations can go in surprising and enlightening directions you may not expect when they aren’t adult directed.

When having a conversation about goals try to focus on process rather than product and reward effort. For example instead of “get straight A’s” a more attainable goal might be “do my best work for 30 minutes on a project, and not feel anxious.”

Most colleges have a student services office. You can help your child get started with the process but FERPA laws will prevent the school from sharing information with you if they are over 18 so it will be important to keep communication strong between yourself and your college student child.

Written by Aaron Weintraub, MS, Director of Kids Cooperate in Tolland CT and behavior specialist at Holiday Hill Day Camp in Mansfield, CT. Aaron is a Peace At Home teacher and coach. You can reach him at Aaron@kidscooperate.com. Join his live online class, “Parenting Children with Special Needs” in December or listen to his recorded classes for parents of children with special needs here.

 

Preschool Perspective: Girls have long hair and boys have short hair, right?

Concerned mom submitted the following question to Peace At Home:

Feeling super disappointed as I write this… It’s the first week of Pre-K for my almost 5-year-old, and at drop off today, the teacher pulled Todd aside to let him know that our son was being mean to a little boy in his class yesterday. This particular boy has very long hair that he wears in a ponytail. Our son was telling him that he was a girl because he has long hair.

I am feeling so sad about this because we are trying hard to raise our boys to be accepting of others, even if they are different from them. I’m also feeling pretty angry that my kid was being mean. I feel that there is a difference between being curious about differences – which I would think would be a normal thing that is going on at this age – and making fun of those differences.

Cora Megan, MA, Peace At Home teacher offers a response:

Until about age of 6 or 7, children base gender perceptions entirely on broad assumptions of appearance. For example, anyone with short hair must be a boy and anyone with long hair must be a girl. Much of the conversation that happens around these topics in a Pre-K classroom revolve around simply trying to sort this stuff out, while learning how their words influence others.

I would not make a big deal out of this at home. I would focus on the facts: “Your teacher mentioned that you told your classmate with a ponytail that he was a girl. Tell me more about that.” Your child might respond something really innocent like “Yeah, because he has long hair and girls have long hair.” This opens up the opportunity for you to have a conversation about that. “Sometimes girls have short hair and boys have long hair. Sometimes boys wear pink and girls wear blue. It’s OK to be different. Next time you could ask, “are you a boy or a girl?”

You could also pose to your child, “When you said he was a girl, how do you think that made him feel?” This is an opportunity to encourage empathy and explore the cause and effect of your child’s words.

We (parents and teachers) have a tendency to project our own adult emotions and perceptions onto very simple child interactions, when the best response is usually to stay unemotional and matter-of-fact. Be careful not to jump to conclusion that your child was being mean, and assume that he was being a typical 4 year old, trying to figure out how this very interesting world works!

Join Cora Megan in our upcoming interactive, online class “Positive Discipline for Toddlers and Preschoolers: Challenging Behaviors and Setting Limits” coming up at 8:15 PM on Monday, 9/23/19.

6 Steps to Successful Lunchtime: Help Your Kindergartener Get Ready for School

Your child is already (or finally) off to kindergarten. Did you go back to school shopping? Maybe purchase a new lunch box? If this is your child’s first time with lunch away from home, help her get ready in both practical and social ways. I’ve borrowed a few ideas and added a few more I learned along the way.

Practice opening everything. Everything. Containers, lunchboxes, water bottles, juice boxes. If they can’t open it, don’t send it. There are not enough teachers on duty to open things, and really we want teachers focused on other things anyway—like eating their own lunch and helping kids navigate the chaos.

Speaking of chaos, most elementary school students don’t have much time to eat and a lot is happening in a short amount of time. Practice with a timer (about 15 minutes!) so your child has a sense of how much time they have to eat. This will also give you a sense of how much they can eat so you don’t over pack or under pack.
Practice eating at the table. If you have gotten in the habit of distractions while eating, like tablets or books, it’s time to put them away. Practice the expectation of staying in the seat with bottoms on the chair. This is very hard for many kids, so do gentle reminders of what the expectation is. This is hard for me too. Can someone come remind me to stay sitting while I eat? Set the expectation that school lunches are not chatty lunches. I 100% disagree with the punishment of silent lunch, but I do understand that the kids are so tempted to spend their lunchtime talking instead of eating. Recess may come before or after lunch, so they will have time to get in some socializing.If they can open their containers, eat their food, and stay focused long enough to get the job done, that might seem like enough. However, there are a few things you can do to help them be the best elementary citizens they can be.
Introduce your child to new foods and cultures. This might only be in theory if he eats 6 things. That’s ok. The main thing is openness to the idea that a classmate might have a different lunch and like it. One of my favorite books about this is “The Sandwich Swap” by Queen Rania of Jordan Al Abdullah. In case you are all running to the same libraries, I will include a list of other books at the end of this post for more options.

Introduce your child to the concept of food allergies. If they havenever come across a food allergy, the idea that some foods are safe for him or herbut not a friend, it will be mind blowing. It will helps children understand if they can’t bring certain foods to school or swap foods. Sometimes a friend will have to have a different treat when someone brings in food, and knowing ahead of time prevents some of the jealousy. It will also help any food allergy kiddos out if you ask your child to direct questions to the teacher or you. They will thank you for not having to field another set of, “Don’t you wonder what peanuts taste like?” questions.

That is enough to get your little one started. You might find yourself having other conversations down the road, perhaps around food insecurity, why some kids have hot lunch, why so-and-so can bring x and your child can’t, and more.

And double check that lids are on. Take it from someone who has made this mistake too many times.

Books for Starting the Conversation about School Lunch

“The Sandwich Swap” by Queen Rania of Jordan Al Abdullah
“Everybody Cooks Rice” by Nora Dooley
“Everybody Bakes Bread” by Nora Dooley
“All Are Welcome” by Alexandra Penfold
“A Bad Case of Stripes” by David Shannon
“A Normal Pig” by K-Fai Steele
“On the Day You Begin” by Jacqueline Woodson

Becca Limberg lives in North Carolina with her husband and two girls, ages 9 and 6. Her kids have been in public school, and now one is in private school and one is homeschooled. She is a stay-at-home mom, part-time student, and apparently now a 6U soccer coach. She worked for Barnes and Noble for 10 years, so if you ask her, she will probably give you a book recommendation.

Want to get some ideas for helping your kids thrive in school, check out Peace At Home recorded class “School Success: Inspire Motivation” for parents of children in Kindergarten through 8th grade.

Next Q & A Session

Thu, Feb 28, 20198:15 PM – 9:00 PM EST

Q&A Sessions are free for all parents and caregivers who participated in one of our live online parenting classes. Participants will have a chance to ask questions about the new approaches they are practicing as well as other issues if time allows. They will have a chance to connect with other parents, share challenges, and celebrate successes.

Presenter: Ruth Freeman

Peace at Home Parenting guidance does not stop when this live online class is over. After class, you will be invited to join our private Facebook group. There, you will have unlimited access to our team of parenting experts, who will share tips and answer parents’ questions. This Facebook community is also a place to connect with other caring parents, like you. We welcome parents to share challenges and celebrate successes.

In addition, you will receive access to free monthly “Question and Answer” sessions. During these sessions, you will be coached in applying the skills you learned in Peace at Home classes and again you will connect with other parents working to improve skills.

9 action steps towards handling your child’s school performance

Portrait of cute boy raising hand at workplace with his classmates behind

Worried about your child’s school performance?

When your children, especially teens, struggle with school, parents can easily fall into nagging, coaxing and hassling or even punishing when in reality none of those things work and sometimes actually make it worse. One mom wrote to us about her 13 year old son whose grades starting going down in the previous schoolyear and hadn’t improved. She and her son communicate well and she is looking for guidance on how to keep the lines of communication open while addressing her concerns Here are some action steps toward handling the problem while staying connected:

Step 1. Ask your son if he is willing to talk about school with you.

Step 2. If he says yes, ask about his goals for each class – what would he most like to be learning and does he have any ideas about grades he wants to achieve in each.

Step 3. If he says no, ask him if there would be a time in the future when he might feel comfortable talking about it. If he says no, back off for a good while. If he says yes, try to schedule a good time for both of you to chat.

Step 4. If he articulates any goals for any classes, ask him what is helping him be successful in the cases where he is achieving his goals and celebrate that with him. And then ask what he understands to be the barriers in the cases where he isn’t achieving his goals.

Step 5. If he begins to reflect on the barriers he may be experiencing, be curious about how he experiences those barriers. Try to understand them from his point of view. Ask what he has done to address the barriers in the past, any ideas he has about how to address them now. Maybe watch this hysterical TED talk on procrastination together and ask him if that is true for him in any way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arj7oStGLkU&fbclid=IwAR2dU06yb1nO9WwdRaJASTY_zM4JJ2v4S-3H2R5TQgj553VmmYYBbUlg0Jk

Step 6. Ask him if he’d be interested in your thoughts about addressing the barriers.

Step 7. If together you come up with any ideas about how to proceed, discuss how effective each of you believes those ideas might be. Ask him what he anticipates would be the outcomes of those ideas.

Step 8. If he decides to try one or two, make a time 2 – 3 weeks in the future when you might talk together about how it is going. Ask him if there is anything he wants from you during that time period in terms of support and decide if you can offer what he wants. Refrain from reminding and coaxing during that time period unless he specifically asked for that kind of help.

Step 9. Do your best during this process not to catastrophize in your own mind or with your son. See this as a challenge to address together and remember to consistently celebrate his positive behaviors and contributions. And listen, listen, listen.

Clearly your child may not engage at all. In that case, go back to ground zero and continue to focus on keeping lines of communication open. Or you may go through a few of the steps and he may just stop there. Keep in mind that homework and school progress belongs to your child and you will best remain a consultant and cheerleader. If you see more of an academic decline going forward, express your concern and try a meeting with teachers that includes your son. If all else fails, talk with the school psychologist or social worker to make sure you aren’t seeing symptoms of bigger concerns. If indeed you do suspect bigger issues, press your school to complete a comprehensive assessment to get clear about what is needed.

My 2 year old is jumping out of her crib…

climbing out of cribAre we ready for a big girl/boy bed?

When a child climbs out of the crib, it can be a safety challenge. This can be hard to prevent and some parents use this as a cue to transition to a toddler bed, which is lower to the floor. Parents need to consider what their long term goals are for their toddler:  If you want him/her to stay in his/her room, you need to be ready to help the child stay there. Access to the door is increased with a toddler bed. Sleep experts recommend parents purchase a doorknob grip to help prevent this.  Sitting outside the door for a time may be needed to redirect a toddler who is reluctant to stay in the new bed.  Redirect calmly, limiting contact to a few minutes, repeating a routine phrase, such as:  “I need to keep you safe in your bed. Lie down in your bed, honey.”  Hum a quiet melody for a minute or two; gently rub his/her back. Leave quietly, without speaking, and close the door. Be prepared to stay by the door until the child has settled.

 

7 Fun Internet-Based Activities for Educating Kids When They’re Stuck Indoors

7-kid-fun-activities-peace-at-home-parentingPhoto via Pexels

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When the weather takes a turn for the worse, children often turn to video games or television for their entertainment. Instead, take advantage of your kid being stuck inside to educate them with fun activities. Thanks to search engines and online platforms such as YouTube, there is a never-ending wealth of ideas to keep your child entertained while teaching them valuable academic and life lessons. Make their learning fun with some hands-on interactive education that your family can enjoy.

1. Get Out the Musical Instruments

According to Parents, learning an instrument can help improve children’s academic skills, develop their coordination and motor skills, refine their self-discipline and practice patience. There are numerous websites providing online music lessons for almost any instrument imaginable. You and your kid can even learn an instrument together, helping each other as you follow tutorials online.

2. Let Them Stretch Their Artistic Muscles

Kids love to draw and craft. These artistic activities let them work with their hands, express themselves, and explore their imagination. Luckily, there is no shortage of fun DIY ideas online to get your kid involved in art. You can even look up some drawing tutorials for kids to help them hone their fine motor skills. Also, painting videos for kids can teach them about color mixing and palettes.

3. Get Them Moving

Keeping kids active will improve their academic performance, cognitive abilities, and help them keep a positive attitude. When it’s raining, try out one of the fun indoor activities suggested by Today’s Parent. Or, look up some kid-friendly exercise videos on YouTube. Kids love dancing, yoga, and bouncing around as they follow the instructor in a fun exercise video. Continue reading “7 Fun Internet-Based Activities for Educating Kids When They’re Stuck Indoors”

How to Get Kids to Listen: 7 Simple Gems to Win Cooperation

By Joe L. Freeman, LCSW.

Parents often ask how to make kids listen and follow directions, how to stop yelling and nagging, and how to teach children respect. The truth is, the way parents speak impacts children’s ability to listen. Here are seven tips to help you get kids to listen without yelling. Continue reading “How to Get Kids to Listen: 7 Simple Gems to Win Cooperation”