Food battle.

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The dining table is yet another place where a battle can issue between an uncooperative and unwilling eater and an aggressive feeder! But the golden rule to remember here is ‘food should not chase a child!

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Most child experts advice against force feeding a child. To which most parents respond:

“But my child does not eat anything, how will he/she become healthy?”

Experts say that children will eat when they are hungry so instead of forcing them and constantly chasing them with a spoon in your hand, just leave them alone and they will come to eat when they are hungry.

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feed u and me

 

Some points to remember when dealing with eating problems:

  1. Never force feed a child-as this will only make him throw up or cause a tummy ache.
  2. Don’t try to make him/her hungry, to fit into your routine! Just because you want to watch an interesting program on TV today or are tired and want to sleep early , the child may not be hungry at your time as his tummy clock has been set to the daily routine.
  3. Don’t give in between snacks when the child is hungry. Once these snacks are stopped your child will automatically eat and feel hungry at meal times.
  4. You may tell a story at eating time, but avoid scary tales, as digestion will suffer as your child  will not chew the food properly. When fear is induced, Adrenalin is secreted and blood supply will be redirected elsewhere in the body and hence digestion will suffer. Digestion starts right from our mouth, where the enzymes present in the saliva in our mouth start the digestion process, so if a child does not chew the food adequately, he/she will throw up or have a tummy ache.
  5. Threatening and frightening a child into eating also has to be avoided for the same reason.
  6. Try to eat with the child-“I will eat one spoon and you will eat one too.” Or “I will feed you and you feed me.”

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7.Try to make eating a fun event by using the following ideas-

  • Arrange the food in the shape of a car or a castle and say, here is a food cake, so “now lets see what does ‘Little Alice ’  want to eat  first.”
  • Or you can create an imaginative outer space ,and say,“we are on the moon, or the stars and name the food  accordingly.”
  • Or tell the child that he/she has come to eat in a kiddie’s restaurant and you act as the waiter,etc.
  • Or arrange the food as cars or aeroplanes and let the food zoom in and fly in .!

So try the above and get rid of table tantrums and food battles.

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Know your baby.

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Young babies are such a sensory delight! They look cute, smell good and feel good too! We are so enamoured with their cuteness that we forget that there are millions of neurons in their brains just waiting to make connections and that we can help make those neural connections. Well, here are some ways to ensure that you are a ‘brain builder’ for your baby.

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During this period your baby will be able to –

  • Identify Sounds: will turn and look at you as you approach or talk
  • Produce Sounds: like cooing or babbling.
  • Starts Interacting: appearance of social smile and like to interact
  • Starts paying attention : to toys and words or songs
  • Rolling Over: from the back to the stomach
  • Grasping and Banging: loves to grasp objects, hold one in each hand and sometimes even bangs them together.

So here are some terms for parents to remember and use in daily parenting with infants –

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  • Reciprocity- This is the period of the onset of social smiling, which means your baby now consciously smiles to get your attention or to engage you, it is important to remember and practise reciprocity in all your daily interactions with baby. Talk or coo to your baby and then pause and give a chance for your baby to respond. Sometimes it will be with a smile, or cooing and babbling. Reciprocity will be the foundation of social development for your baby.

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  • Tummy time –We tend to keep babies on the bed or cot or baby bags, but we must give tummy time to the baby too. So place your baby on its tummy often during play time. Remember to sleep on the back and to play on the tummy. Putting your baby to sleep on the back is important from the point of view of SIDS- sudden infant death syndrome, in baby cots. That is why I love the Indian cradle made of cloth, it not only takes the baby’s body shape, but keeps baby safe from SIDS and gives baby the feeling of being safe and coddled just like in the uterus. So time to bring back the Indian cloth cradle.

 

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  • Floor play- Infants and kids today are spending more and more time in baby bags, feeding chairs etc, which needs to change. Floor play helps infants move and touch freely and also gives them the necessary feeling of free movement which restrained chairs etc are unable to provide . This is beneficial for brain development and overall physical growth and will also improve your baby’s eating and sleeping cycle.

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  • Face to face play- It is so tempting to leave babies to play with toys on their own, but at this crucial stage it is important that you engage your baby in face to face play, sing songs, peek a boo etc. This helps your baby bond with you, nurtures a sense of trust and communication in your baby.

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  • Receptive and expressive vocabulary- Your baby’s language development has two parts: first is receptive language skills which means before learning to talk, your baby should be ‘talked to’, so your baby ‘receives’ language much before than your baby is able to express. How much your baby will talk and how early depends on the receptive language that your baby is exposed to. So talk, describe and engage your baby’s vocabulary development.

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  • Grasping and releasing – Before 6 months your baby’s grasping was almost reflexive. Now there is focused grasping of objects, though releasing will still be slightly primitive. So they might ‘dump’ objects instead of releasing them. So play games that help baby grasp and reach for objects. Give different objects and toys for baby to grasp. Remember not to push for handedness, many parents want the baby to use the right hand and so offer toys placed more towards the right side of the baby. Always place toys or hold out toys in the middle and let baby choose the hand to use.

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  • Mouth the ‘lab’ of your little scientist – Everything that your baby grasps will first land in your little scientists ‘lab’, the mouth! This is because the mouth of young babies has more sensory points than the hands or feet. So actually they feel with their mouths. Try not to stop them, instead choose toys that are safe, non toxic for your baby and help your baby to use the ‘lab’. Remember the brain thrives on sensory stimulation so the ‘lab’ is directly connected to brain growth.

Happy parenting your young baby and  becoming your baby’s ‘neural connector’!

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Why does my child not listen to me?

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In today’s world teachers and mothers need to be leaders and not bosses. In Piaget’s words they must work for the goal of ‘autonomy’ (intelligent and ethical decision making) rather than obedience.

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There should be no such thing as ‘discipline’; it should be behaviour management or modification. Discipline, is fixed, like in the army, but behaviour can vary and with it varies the methods of handling misbehaviour.

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Children in the first 6 years lack impulse control, they react without thinking.  Impulse control is developed with the growth in the pre frontal cortex of the brain, so the more the pre frontal cortex develops, the better will be the logic, reasoning, attention, focus in children. Play games to develop impulse control, simple games like ‘Simon says’, ‘Red light, Green light’, all develop impulse control. In Simon says, the child has to concentrate and wait for the word ‘Simon’ to do the action, so he controls his impulse to do the action, until he hears the word.

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After the age of 6 behavioural problems continue sometimes because kids lack self control. It is important to understand that-

  • Children are able to focus only on one thing at a time. And so during a tantrum they are unable to see the other point of view.
  • They are unable to figure out the impact of their actions on others in a logical way.
  • Kids have a hard time working out how to get from one state of affairs to another. So it takes them time to work out their emotions.

 

The best time to change children’s behaviour is not during a tantrum, as the brain is in a shut down mode during a tantrum.  It is often when children are not in the heat of a tantrum that they are best able to think and learn about it.

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It would be ideal to have an agreement of behaviour both at home and school- rule # 1 hitting and hurting is not allowed and so we will use words instead.Show kids a socially accepted avenue to show their anger and frustration; don’t stop them from experiencing these emotions. Use sentences like,’ I know you are angry because I did not give you the toy, but instead of beating me, you can beat the pillow’. Don’t react to kid’s misbehaviour with your own, if we are telling children, not to hit others when they are angry, then how can we hit them when we are angry?

 

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Any form of whacking or smacking is still child abuse. You may justify spanking by saying you love your child and want him to improve but you are only teaching the child that hitting is a form of showing love, and they will then grow up accepting violence and violent people. Domestic violence stems from such childhood experiences. Children who are smacked associate love and violence to be the same and so they turn violent or accept violence towards themselves.

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What works is conflict resolution. Conflict resolution can be taught in the following steps-

  1. Seeking help– by calling for an adult or going to an adult and informing him that someone is troubling him. Here adults need to understand that this is not tattling and the child should not be blamed for coming for help as this is the first step of conflict resolution, when the child’s efforts at this step fails then he ‘fails’ to believe in any kind of resolution and will then resort to violence.
  2. Taking turns or sharing– an important social skill that is needed to survive with friends and siblings and children should be motivated and complimented for doing it.
  3. Using language instead of hands– teaches children to talk about their needs, their likes, and dislikes. Teach them to communicate it to their friends and siblings. ‘Please don’t push my toys’, please don’t push me, you are hurting me’. Etc.
  4. Teach children to walk away– a very important technique that can be very helpful when dealing with bullies, instead of standing and arguing or appealing to the bully, walk away from him.
  5. Discussing and planning with adults– telling the parents about a certain bully or how some of her friends tease her etc. then the parents can sit with the child and help her plan what to do and when. This helps the child understand that there is always a way out of the problem and also helps herself-esteem and confidence as she is assured in the safe feeling that her parents are there for her.

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For repeated instances of misbehaviour, it is important to see children who experience repeated serious conflict not as problem children but as children with problems who need guidance.

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So try the following-

  • Identify and specify instances of misbehaviour
  • Observe what happens before and after the behaviour
  • Measure how often it happens
  • How long does it last
  • Find a pattern in the behaviour
  • Bring about the Change and implement it.
  • Continue measuring the behaviour
  • Every time the child exhibits the new behaviour, encourage new behaviour.

How we modify our kids behaviour when they are at their most vulnerable has a tremendous impact on their personality, coping skills and our dreams for them. When we believe in positive behaviour management it fosters emotional growth and logical thinking is nurtured. They learn about cause and effect, they learn to trust adults and respect and love themselves.

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Adults should remember that children do not misbehave we misinterpret their behaviour.

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Shape my life!

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Recently I was waiting for my flight at the airport, when I noticed a small boy excitedly pointing to various shapes around the airport and squealing with delight every time he was able to spot a shape and name it. It was a game that he was involved in and was enjoying the success of naming each shape. Till the mother got involved! ‘O.K., now mummy will point to an object and you have to tell me the shape’ said mummy. ‘What shape is this?’, and the same question followed again and again. One could see that the child had lost interest and soon told his mummy, ‘I want to go to the toilet’. What a clever way to finish the game that was no longer interesting!

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Well, the above example is to drive home the fact that shapes, colours, numbers and letters interest children naturally and one does not have to make the world of knowledge a drill and learn activity. Keep the joy and wonder of learning intact and then see your child soar to the peak of success.

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Shapes are in all things and the learning of shapes first begins with common and simple shapes like round, square and triangle. Do not introduce the rectangle and square together as children get confused. First children learn to recognise the shape in the picture books, then in blocks and then in the objects around them. Some times a square block of different colour may confuse the child but that is fine, soon the child will understand that the colour is different but the shape is same. Involve children in the winding up activity of putting the blocks away by asking them to collect all the round blocks, then all the triangle ones etc once they have mastered the shapes then make it a little more intricate by asking them to pick up only the red rounds, or the blue rounds etc.

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Then play games like ‘touch the shape’, in which you name a shape and the child has to go and touch anything in the room that best resembles that shape.

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This kind of learning and understanding of shapes is good for your child’s keen observation skills, counting skills etc. Your child understands the sense of shape, depth and form while understanding the shape and form of objects. Playing these kind of games not only helps your child’s  logical and mathematical skills but also helps your child develop descriptive language skills and will help in future geometry, drawing, architecture etc.

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Some simple shape games to play with your child-

  1. Touch the shape- name a shape and the child to go and touch anything that looks like that shape
  2. Find two of a kind- here the child is given a shape name and asked to find any two objects that best look like that shape, you can increase the level of this activity by increasing the number, so find four of a kind etc
  3. Hide the shapes- take three different shapes like round, square and triangle and hide them in the room in such a way that a small part of it is seen, now the child has to guess whether the shape peeping out is a square, triangle or round, or to make it simple you name a shape and the child goes and looks for it. For older children, make it slightly more intricate by asking them to not only find it but describe where it is.

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You can make your own games or better still ask your child to create new games and you will be surprised how many ideas they will have. But remember three things-

  1. Don’t make it boring
  2. Take turns which means, you also need to play and they will lead.
  3. Don’t take away the fun element.

So go ahead ‘shape’ your child’s future with fun and learning.

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Disciplining your child as easy as ABC.

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Who is screaming and shouting? The parent or child?- Disciplining your child can be child’s play-

Children misbehave when they are-

  • Hungry
  • Tired
  • Upset
  • Ignored

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Most of the time parents look at the misbehaviour and either scold, punish, threaten the child for the misbehaviour and do not look into the reason that lead to the misbehaviour. This means adults do not try to understand children. They try to have patience with children, and then they always run the risk off running out of patience

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We understand children, when they are babies. We  don’t blame them for crying, we try and understand why they are crying and try to resolve the reason so that they stop crying. But as the child grows older, he/she acquires language, movement and the ability to act out his/her needs and hence now does not only rely on crying, but resorts to angry behaviour or tantrums and now instead of looking into the reason, we either blame him/her for having the reason or we blame him/her for the ‘act’ he/she chose to get our attention.

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Where discipline is concerned always remember a golden mantra- “Happy children will never hit, bite, scream, shout or misbehave.” Think about it, if you are happy with life, with the people around you, would you feel like hitting someone? or throwing things? or hurting someone? No. you will not.  Similarly with a child, when ever a child misbehaves or throws a tantrum understand that he/she is upset and something or someone is making him/her unhappy. Try to find the reason , maybe, any one of the ‘four causes’ mentioned above are troubling him/her.

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Hungry-

  • its not only related to pure and simple hunger, sometimes the body requires special food and so the child can be cranky, irritable or the child is getting too much of a particular food (could be salt, sugar) and behaves or rather misbehaves to draw attention to his/her need.
  • Children are also known to be fidgety and inattentive when they are thirsty.

tired

 

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Tired-

  • they can be tired physically or tired of concentrating, like on doing too many worksheets etc
  • or tired after coming from school and need to just sit for 5 minutes but we harass them to change, eat, and go down to play.
  • Tired, can be of too many activities one after the other, and need to just sit and maybe do nothing.
  • Tired can also be of ‘being always told what to do’, no choice , no freedom etc.
  • And this kind of tiredness can lead children to be irritable, angry, and also make them throw things, bawl, scream and bite.

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Upset-

  • upset can be because,’I did not get what I want’,
  • or upset can be an upset stomach,
  • upset can be a feeling of fright, fear, and separation anxiety.
  • Upset can be ‘I fell down and you scolded me, instead of hugging me and reassuring me that it is o.k. to fall, be careful the next time’.
  • Upset can be that you promised me something and did not give it to me.
  • Upset can be that you gave me two choices and then made me do what you want.
  • Upset can be a lot of reasons and upset generally makes me throw a tantrum, or wail and cry or I beat you the adult because I am so frustrated that you cannot see and recognise my need.

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Ignored- 

  • A new baby can make children feel ignored.
  • A new guest in the house can make them feel ignored.
  • Even a new appliance in the house can make them feel ignored.
  • Ignored can be that I drew a lovely picture and you did not ask me about it.
  • Ignored can be that I wanted to chatter and talk all the way to the market or school and you kept talking to others.
  • Ignored can be that I wanted some company while I did my homework and you were busy on the phone.
  • And when I am feeling ignored I will do all I can to get you to pay attention to me.
  • When nothing else works I do negative things that get you to scold me or shout at me, because that too is attention.

Discipline, behaviour, behaviour management, whatever you call it, it must be intrinsic and not extrinsic. This means the child must feel loved enough to know how to express his/her needs. He/she should not feel fearful or threatened. The more you scold children, threaten them, beat them you are putting them into a vicious cycle of negative feelings.

Children need to be taught ways of expressing their feelings and how to deal with them. Children need to learn what to do when others upset them. Children learn by imitation, so it is we adults who should show them the acceptable ways of behaviour. If we are going to shout and scream to get their attention, then they learn the same. If we are going to bang things when we are angry, then they learn the same.

For very young children, say under three years, the best way to handle them when they are upset or angry or throwing a tantrum is in three ways-

  • Ignore
  • Distract
  • Change activity

 

Ignoring 

-helps when children have fallen into a habit of crying to get attention. Over a period of time with consistency if you ignore them when they cry etc but give them attention when they do not cry and the child learns that the negative behaviour is not working and will slowly adopt the positive behaviour. Ignoring is not to be used only after the child completes one year.

Distraction

works even in the biggest tantrum. ‘ look what I found in this box’ followed by an action of covering your hand over the box, makes the child intrigued enough to stop the crying or the tantrum, and helps in distracting him, most children forget the tantrum once distracted. But it also depends if the distraction was interesting enough, because if it was a let down then ‘I will resort to a bigger tantrum’. So work on your distractions! And by the way, ‘look the crow took away your bottle’ etc does not work on this generation! Be more creative.

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Change of activity

is like redirecting his/her attention to a new activity. Maybe he/she is tired of the situation etc and needs to forget about it by getting involved in something else. So a change of activity works well.

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Should we whack and smack children?

I am sure if you were to truthfully to answer this question, you would say sometimes.And then you will justify it by saying, ‘sometimes it is important there is no way out, so it is o.k. if it is done in extreme situations’.

Well , it isn’t.

Any  form of whacking or smacking is still child abuse. You may say that I slapped my child because I love him/her and want him/her to improve, but you are only teaching the child that hitting is a form of showing love, and they will then grow up accepting violence and violent people, domestic violence stems from such childhood experiences. CHILDREN WHO ARE SMACKED ASSOCIATE LOVE AND VIOLENCE AS THE SAME. AND SO IN FUTURE EITHER THEY TURN VIOLENT OR ACCEPT VIOLENCE TOWARDS THEMSELVES.

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Some guidelines for making discipline child’s play-

  1. Threats, punishments and shaming, release stress hormones which are harmful for the brain.
  2. Focus on the positive all the time rather than always correcting your child for the negative behaviour
  3. Know when to give in and when to pull back.
  4. If you beat, the child will learn to hit.
  5. If you shout, the child will learn to yell.
  6. If you nag, the child will learn to ignore.
  7. If you force, the child will learn to rebel.
  8. Give opportunities for the child to be in control. When everything is done and decided by adults, then children tend to feel frustrated and may throw a tantrum.
  9. Set limits for the child, which are consistent and understandable by the child.
  10. If all other things fail, try child whispering. This is to be done at bed time, just as the child’s eyelids droop down to fall asleep, the mother or father should whisper in the child’s ear, and tell him how they want him to behave and how proud they would be if he behaved in this manner. Do this for 15 to 20 nights consistently and it has known to work for many children.

Remember, the way you react when you are angry or upset will reflect in your child’s behaviour and tantrum, after all children are born imitators because their brains have mirror neurons!

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