Category: Design


Consolidating Behaviour

Talk to your children first. Make a Family Meeting, without disturbances, after supper, after bathtime, when hopefully everyone is in a good mood. Take a big piece of paper and a thick red and blue felt pen. Make two lists: Do’s & Don’ts (Do’s in blue and Dont’s in red) with a line down the middle.

Tell your children that to have a happy household you need to make a plan and together are going to make a list of things that need to happen and things that you don’t want to happen. Your children (those old enough to participate) should give their ideas of what they think should be on each list. One might say, “no fighting.” Another might say, “no morning rush.” “no arguments.” You might say, “ no clothes left on floor.” “no toys left on floor.” “ Children should help clear the table.” Together agree on a short list of do’s and don’t’s.

Then, you need to talk to the children about HOW you are going to do each task. ( E.g. “no morning rush might need the clothes to be chosen the night before, or cereals and bowls and plates to be on the table the night before.) Discuss each thing on the list and decide together how you will achieve it. “No clothes on the floor” might mean you will buy a new big washing basket for the children to throw their clothes into. “Clearing the table” might mean that the younger children take 2 things off the table and the older ones taking 5 things off the table etc. Work it all out WITH the children and re-write the list with the instructions and put it up on the wall.

Give yourselves a start date and a daily chart so you can keep track of your progress. Tell them that if a whole week goes by and all the things are kept to, you will reward them (could be money put aside to save up for a treat or anything else you think is suitable.

Don’t talk about punishments. No one will be punished if the list isn’t kept to. Success breeds success and the possibility of a reward if they stick to the plan will keep the momentum up.

Have a weekly Family Meeting to talk about your successes and failures. Let the children be part of the programme. You can change or expand on THE LIST each week as it suits you.

This works well for some families and less well with others, but there is no family that cannot improve provided the children are clear about what is expected of them and what will happen if they keep the ‘rules.’ Make sure you are consistent and work with the list.

One family, who were always late, had a list of jobs and times which worked well for them. They bought a big giant size clock and worked to keep their listed times, 7.30 get up, dress, clean teeth. 8am breakfast. 8.30 leave for school. It worked well for them but your family might need a completely different list.

Just remember that telling your children to keep tidy, not to fight, to help clear the table, to go to bed on time without making a list, will not work. A list on the wall has more authority than complaints and are a more effective way of getting your children to follow the rules. You can make a new set of rules for different occasions for example before a holiday or a visit to Grandma. Always do this at a Family meeting so the children are part of the plan. It’s certainly worth a try.


How to teach your child to speak

The best way to teach a child to speak is to teach him to READ. Words floating about in the air are hard to grasp and it’s a miracle that children manage to learn to speak at all. But children who are a bit behind need some help and that help comes in the form of Flash Cards.

This Reading Game can start as early as you like. Two years old is an ideal age to start. Take 10 big cards and write one large word on each card in red low case letters. Choose the words your child hears all the time, Mummy, Daddy, Grandma, Jimmy, dummy… doesn’t matter what words you start with but they must be words that your child understands and hears all the time.

On the first day, show him the card that says Mummy quickly. Say “This says Mummy” and put the card away. Do this four or five times a day as quickly as you can.

After three days, take out the second word, e.g. Daddy. Show him the word and say, “This says Daddy”. Do it four or five times on the first day and at the end of the day show him quickly the card for Mummy, followed by the word for Daddy. This says Mummy, This says Daddy. Say each word clearly and loudly.

For the next few days show both cards, one after the other and say the word. NEVER SHOW HIM BOTH CARDS AT ONCE. After another few days introduce the third word and continue in the same way until you are showing him all ten cards, one after the other, saying the word loudly, clearly and quickly. Don’t try to make him look at the card, just flash it in front of him for a second or two.

Develop this ‘game’ in any language, introducing new words every few days and leaving out one word, so you never show him more than 10 to 15 words at a time. After a day or two re-introduce the left-out words, so they are not forgotten.

I guarantee your child will very quickly recognise all the words, and will start saying them very soon.


Social Skills

Your child may not know how to react in some situations. Perhaps he is too shy to talk, perhaps the words don’t come easily and he may not know what to say. He may not know how to ask the shopkeeper for help if he can’t find what he needs. He may not know how to talk to other children or strangers.

The best way to deal with these and similar situations is: Social Skills Training. You don’t need to employ a therapist, you can do it yourself. This system is easy and effective and fun.

1) Talk to your child and together decide what is the one thing he needs to learn most of all. It may be talking to people, it may be making friends or any other issues he is having problems with.
2) Together decide on the ONE thing that you will tackle together.
3) Tell him or her that you are going to help him.
4) Tell him what you are going to do and make it a game.

Here is an example:

Say his difficulty is being too shy to talk. Talk to him about what could happen if he is shy, he might get red in the face, he might stutter, he might say something silly, other people might laugh at him etc……talk about each one of this possible outcomes. Act them out, make him laugh when you say something silly, when you stutter. Help him to accept the risks, explain everyone has the same fear and yet people still talk, they still say silly things, they still get red but nothing happens. Explain that everyone has the same problem but they get over it by getting used to it. And you are going to teach him how to get over the shyness.

Give him an easy task to work towards overcoming the shyness. Ask him to say “Hello, Good morning” for example to the Lollipop lady who helps him across the road. If he doesn’t have this opportunity, select someone else he can say Hello to. If he manages to say it, give him a warm smile and a hug and tell him it is going to get easier each day……..

When you have identified any problem, find a simple action which will start the process of teaching your child how to overcome it. Develop the skill and get your child used to talking to people by helping him to expand his repertoire – How are you today? It’s so hot today. Any simple short sentence in any language, which doesn’t lead to a conversation but are good practice for him on the road to full communication.

Later you expand the conversation and make little rehearsals, act it out together. You are the lollipop lady, you are the teacher, you are the shop keeper. Act it out and make it a game.

Once he has mastered this, and is comfortable about greeting people you go on to the next stage. This system is very effective and can be used to tackle any social skills problem.


How to deal with Tantrums

Identify the situations that are likely to set off a major tantrum. It could be when you don’t give your little one something he wants. If could be when she doesn’t want to do something you want her to do. Or it could be any number of other things that trigger off her temper. Make a list of the most likely causes. There are some useful strategies that could work (not guaranteed, but worth trying). Let’s call them the Three Ds.

When the tantrum is just starting, you can sometimes succeed to halt it in its tracks before it blows into a major episode. Never say “Don’t cry, don’t scream, don’t be naughty. By emphasising the negative, you are teaching your child to cry, to scream and to be naughty. Emphasise the positive.

If your child is small, immediately lift him up and say something like, “ Look at that spider crawling in the corner. Let’s catch it.” Go down on your hands and knees with him and pretend you are searching for the elusive spider. This can be varied by mentioning something he likes, for example. “Would you like to play ball with me in the garden?” “Shall we telephone Grandma to bring us an ice cream?” This is only limited by your imagination but the most important thing is that you cut short the tantrum and immediately replace it with an alternative interesting thing for him to think about or do.

If this doesn’t work, lift him up and take him into another room, the garden, upstairs, anywhere …. Changing the environment often changes the situation and together with Distraction, can be the most effective way of cutting the tantrum short. A change of scenery or a new activity can often change his mood and make him forget what he was crying about in the first place.

Older children need different strategies. They need a ‘Discussion’ approach where after a major tantrum (at least a few hours later or the next day) you sit your child on your lap, take him for a walk, curl up in bed with him and have a private chat. You shouldn’t say “I don’t like your behaviour, shouting, tantrums, bad behaviour etc. but emphasise that you want peace and quiet in the house with no shouting. Tell her that together you are going to make this happen.

Talk about why he shouts, what would be a better way of getting what he wants (e.g. asking nicely), what does he think you could do to make sure there are no raised voices or bad tempers. You will see that children often come up with a variety of ideas, some of which will open your eyes and make you understand what are the triggers and help you plan out how to avoid or at least minimise tantrums.

Make a plan with your child and let her know what will happen if she has a tantrum in future. You need to have a plan (no threats, no punishments, no shouting) but she needs to know in advance what you will do if she has a tantrum. It always has to be the same action or non-action. You can tell her that any tantrums will result in the same outcome, e.g. having a packet of crisps in her lunch bag or something which is relevant to your child. Think carefully what action or non-action you choose but make sure you always have the same reaction. Be consistent, don’t keep changing your reaction and keep your word.