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Parenting

Want To Be A Foster Parent?

Being a foster parent can be a delightful and satisfying adventure and will definitely be a difficult challenge that requires your full attention and patience. Even so and if your heart is truly into the adventure, it can be wonderful for both you and your foster child. There are many aspects to being a foster parent; but for now, let’s think a while together about a few of the behavior and adjustment concerns that may develop while the child is with you.

Your foster child comes to your home with her strong points and special problems. It is hard for any child to adjust to a new family; but for your foster child, it is extra tough. If her past family experiences had been positive and healthy, being her foster parent would be fairly easy. Loving her and giving her a chance to live in your home would be enough. It is sad but true that love and a good home are not enough for her.

Your foster child is with you because she (or he) could not stay where she was. Maybe she was abused. She may have been neglected. There might have been other problems that made it impossible for her to stay with her family. Whatever happened, she was not safe, happy, and getting her needs met. She now has more problems than most children.

Learning about her special problems is your first step. You will love her, care about her, and encourage her. That’s just the way you are. At your home, she also can count on help with her problems, whatever they are. She will get what she needs, whatever it takes.

Let’s think about children who are abused and neglected. Abuse and neglect cause lifelong problems. Being mistreated hurts children in ways you can see and in ways you cannot see. They suffer at the time and will have problems at later life-stages. Although the harm done may not be easy to see, it is there.

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Parenting

On Comes Family Violence

It started with a temper tantrum. It didn’t amount to much. He was only 3 and the truth of the matter is that it was kind of cute. Then he was 15 and it was actually out of hand, but still not worth the hassle and expense of getting some outside, professional help. Then he was 20 and there was no hope for it. He was just going to be difficult. And then along came family violence. I don’t understand. He certainly didn’t grow up that way.

Sure, substitute she for he and the sad story is unchanged. In this episode of Audio Tidbits Podcast, I revisit temper tantrums and the importance of managing them gently and thoughtfully when your child is very young. Please listen and think about it along with me.

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Parenting

Starving Children … On Purpose

First, dieting is never a good idea for your child under twelve or thirteen, unless directly supervised by a physician. Even a day or so of eating little to nothing is dangerous for pre- adolescent children. While your child’s food is severely restricted, he does not grow. Even worse, he may never make up for the time he was not growing. This is very serious. A young child should never diet unless medically supervised. It is as simple as that.

For a teenager, watching his weight is usually not a problem, although checking with a physician is a good idea. Your adolescent’s eating little to nothing for a day or two once in a while usually does not hurt anything; but be sure the dieting is not extreme. Further, be sure it does not go on for more than a couple days at a time and does not happen more than once in a while. If your child has a weight problem, arranging for him to talk with his physician is the place to start.

This sign is part of an eating disorder called anorexia and has little to do with dieting or normal weight control. Your child exhibiting this sign is starving himself. The first thing you notice is his losing weight. Next, you notice his getting thin and eating little to nothing. He might tell you he is watching his weight, is not hungry, or does not feel well. Whatever his reason is, he is not eating enough.

Even though your child is already thin, he thinks he is fat or at least thinks he is overweight. How he looks to you does not fit with his perception of himself. His self-perception is distorted or does not fit with how he really is. He has lost his ability to judge himself and feels fat no matter what the truth is.

If you see this sign in your child, his need for specialized help is urgent. You nor your child can handle the problem without help. Your child can die from the behavior. It does have to do with depression and low self-esteem; but it is much more complicated. Specialized care is always necessary.

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Parenting

Does Your Child Have Trouble Making Or Keeping Friends?

Some children are more likely to exhibit this sign of relationship problems than others. For example, if a child has changed neighborhoods and schools, difficulty making and keeping friends is more likely; or if his life-experiences have not taught him good interpersonal and relationship skills, having the problem is nearly inevitable. A child who has low self-esteem and deals less well with the give-and-take of friends and the social scene likely have this problem to some degree.

Most children move out from a solid base at home into other relationships, enabling them to try many relationships while always having those at home. Children who do not have this solid base will certainly have this problem. Because of this, relationships they do find are more important to them. For example, they can easily become too possessive and smother the other person; or they may try too hard to please and to be part of the group, making them very vulnerable to mistreatment and exploitation.

Your child needs to be taught about friends and relationships. Approach your teaching task like this. “Getting a friend starts by hanging around with people who are like you want to be. Pick people who seem to value what you value. Next, talk and join in without being pushy. After a while, you’ll notice you talk more with some of them than others. There’ll be two or three you talk with the most. You and they are becoming friends. There’re also some ways to keep friends and ways that turn them off. We can talk about that as time goes on.” By talking to him like this, you are modeling an example of friendly behavior and are teaching him relationship skills. It is a slow but rewarding process. …

Be sure you also make a point to include him in family activities, at church, in the neighborhood, or in community organizations. This gives him a chance to see other healthy families and to make friends. Although child-only activities may be too stressful for him at first, family activities are safe and provide good opportunities to observe, coach, and support him.

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Parenting

Children’s Low Self-esteem

Your child persistently feels very unhappy about his or her physical and sexual development:

Low self-esteem starts with worrying and fretting about failing. It grows into giving up quickly. This leads to shutting down and not trying. If parental or other adult reactions are too harsh, your child goes through the motions for fear of even harsher consequences. He or she simply plays the game. This is a very sad way for him/her to think and feel about success, achievement, and interpersonal participation. Nonetheless, low self-esteem can get still worse for your child. …

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Parenting

Who Wants To Play?

How do you help your children develop a growing sense of independence and autonomy by the age of seven? How do you deal with the increasing independence of your adolescent? The process begins as your toddler learns about play and social activities. However, your child is not able to play unless he knows how to play. He learns the idea of taking turns from people who allow him his turn and insist on their turn. He learns to be appropriately assertive without being excessively self-centered and aggressive from you and other adults who deal with his temper tantrums. He learns not to be too passive or compliant when you and other adults encourage him to stick up for himself, to speak up when it is his turn or when his rights are infringed upon.

Social development begins when you relate to your children as friends and playmates. Yes, you are a parent first; but part of the time (especially with your small children) you are friends and playmates. Within this playmate relationship, your child learns how to ask someone to play with her. She develops a feel for situations in which people do not want to play with her. She learns to accept an invitation to play. Occasionally, you may ask your toddler or preschooler if she wants to play a video game, accepting your child’s judgment about whether or not to play. Similarly, your child learns to ask you to play, accepting your judgment whether or not to play. Peek-a-boo played with your infant becomes hide-and-seek when she is a toddler or grade schooler. Working puzzles with your preschooler becomes assembling models or playing X-Box with your grade schooler or adolescent. Helping your preschooler fix her bicycle becomes helping your adolescent fix her car. Playing Fish with your preschooler becomes playing Scrabble with your adolescent. Making mud pies with a preschooler becomes helping prepare supper with your teenager. Friend and playmate relationships begin quite young and continue throughout your lives. Establish the playmate relationship with your child while remaining a good parent, and the fun and good times can go on for a long time. …

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Parenting

I Forgot or perhaps The Dog Ate My Homework – Audio TidBits Podcast

Real memory problems are uncommon. But forgetting or not remembering to remember is very common. If it only happens once in a while and seldom involves important things, it is no big deal. It is a problem if forgetting is a regular reason for not doing things. It does get to a point when “I forgot,” is not just one of those things.

It is tempting to accuse your child of lying or not paying attention. Either may be true. If so, they are themselves problems needing your attention. More likely are several other explanations.

First, your child did not see the assignment or expectation as important enough to remember. He thought it did not matter that much. Dealing with this is not complicated. It also is a good place to start when you first notice the sign. Talk with your child about how important you think the assignment or expectation is. Stress with him how important you think it is for him to treat it as important. This often helps a lot all by itself. …

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Parenting

Children Get Bored Too – Audio TidBits Podcast

Boredom is a condition seen in infants, children, and adults of all ages. Much of the time, your infant entertains herself. She really seems to enjoy just being alive and involved in the world. At other times though, she becomes fussy, irritable, unhappy, and generally discontent. What is wrong with her? She is bored.

For your infant and toddler, boredom is a frequent state of affairs. This fact is partly why your toddler is always getting into everything and always under foot. Nothing holds his attention very long. He is always looking for new things to get into and novel ways to deal with boredom. Further, he spends a lot of time trying to get you to relieve his boredom.

Your preschooler experiences boredom less often, since his attention span is longer. Nonetheless, he becomes bored fairly easily, especially on rainy days or when he is sick and has to stay in his room, or when he is full of energy and has no good outlets for it. You understand what boredom is (an uncomfortable low level of stimulation) and understand it is a problem for children when they do not have enough to occupy their active minds and bodies.

When children are bored, then, what should you do about it? You have three options for dealing with children who are bored.

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Parenting

Toilet Training – Audio TidBits Podcast

When should toilet training begin? First, it should not begin until your child seems to know what the potty is for and can relate the idea to “making messes” in her clothing. For most children, this relationship does not become clear until they are about twenty-four months old. By that age children have enough bowel and bladder control to participate in the toilet training process. If you wait until your child is about thirty months old, she will probably start training herself.

Some parents have children sit on the potty immediately after meals, as if they will eliminate the food just consumed. But since it takes several hours for foods and liquids to pass through their systems, it makes more sense to encourage your child to use the potty when you use the bathroom. She likely will be willing to try to “go” while you are in the bathroom modeling appropriate toilet behavior. Even if she does not use the potty, she will enjoy the attention and verbal interaction.

Since people typically use the toilet immediately before going to bed and immediately after getting up in the morning, encourage your children to try to potty at those times. It also helps to encourage them to sit on the potty a few minutes every four or five hours. Once in a while, they urinate or have a bowel movement when sitting on the potty. At such times your enthusiastic approval reinforces the behavior. If your child wants you to look at what he has done, it is only fair to visually inspect the product of his efforts.

In addition, consistently help your child change clothing after each accident. Tell him calmly he has made a mess and has to put on clean clothes. If you disapprove of the mess, so will your child. Infrequently, children discover messing or wetting their pants is a very good way to upset you. If this happens, simply ignore the behavior for a few days. Even so, you have gotten into quite a bind with your child. …

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Parenting

TOUCHING AND PHYSICAL CONTACT – Audio TidBits Podcast

All infants have a strong and very real need for physical contact. Without it, the deprivation is very real and may be permanent. Your baby’s need for touching and cuddling is like food for physical and emotional growth. Your infant’s need for physical contact strongly suggests this physical/emotional/social being also needs to be “fed.” Without such contact, your child “starves” physically, emotionally, and socially.

What to do? That is fairly simple. Pick up your baby, cuddle him, talk to him and make noises at him. Try to spend a lot of time talking with him and physically interacting with him. When giving him a bottle, hold your baby instead of feeding him in the crib or playpen. Several times a day, pick him up and walk around, sit in a chair and rock, and be sure his playpen or walker is not in a room by itself. It’s better for him to be around other people than to be by himself. Talk with him and encourage other people to do the same. If someone says, “What a nice baby,” ask them if they want to hold your child. Your baby needs maximum physical contact and interaction with a variety of people. …