Parenting children

Parenting Solutions: 5 Tips to Helping Your Child Learn to Problem Solve

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There are several tools you can use to help your children learn how to be problem solve:

1.  Let your child handle the little problems on their own. When your child looks in the fridge and complains their brother ate the last piece of pizza, don’t automatically suggest a solution for them. Answer, instead, “Wow, that’s a real bummer! And you especially saved it until after you finish studying!” Sympathize, look and act concerned, but don’t step in with a ready answer.

Your kids will probably get annoyed with this initially, since they’re used to having all of their problems solved for them:

 “Where are my shoes?”

 “I don’t know, I haven’t seen them.”

“But I need them!”

“Maybe you can wear your sandals.”

“No I can’t wear my sandals! Nobody wears that kind anymore!”

As you probably remember, many times kids aren’t happy with the solution we give them anyway. By not giving them an easy answer, you force them not only to work through the problem on their own, but also to take responsibility for the choices they make.

2. Lead them to the water, but don’t make them drink. If you find your child absolutely seems stuck, ask leading questions to help them along. In the above example, you could respond, “What do you think you will do? Will you eat later or do you think you might eat something else?”

Asking a question is very different than making the same suggestion of, “You could eat later or you could eat something else.” In the latter, the child will often reject it, simply because they are in a bad mood, and a statement is easier to reject. A question on the other hand, begs to be answered, if not right away, then after they have finished ranting and raving about evil siblings that should be ejected into outer space.

If they continue to rave and insist you find a solution for them, you can redirect their attention by asking, “What did you decide to do?” This puts the ball right back in their court.

3. Encourage them to evaluate their choices. The second most important thing to making your own choices is to periodically evaluate how those choices are working out. If you know your child was faced with making a choice -even an easy one like the example above- ask them a few hours later what their choice was, and how it went. This teaches them that choices are not something carved in stone. They are meant to be examined, evaluated, rolled about on the palate like a fine wine.

You can help your child learn to evaluate the effectiveness of their choices by asking questions like: What did you decide to do in the end about that boy who was bothering you?” Is it working out? Is it helpful? Is there anything you’d rather do differently?” Be careful not to be judgmental about a choice they’ve made.

Remember, it’s their choice, and if it isn’t a good one, they’ll find out soon enough. Your child will be better able to accept the consequences of a poor choice, and consider making a new one, if he views it as his own. Your job here is to reflect his answers, and show that you understand, sympathize, and support him.  

Don’t give advice unless your child truly asks for it. Try and respond, “If it were me I would..” Be as brief as possible, and keep a careful eye on how your child receives the information. Deep down most children view their parents as all powerful. Sometimes even if you give them a great solution they might feel that they are not powerful/smart/strong enough to implement it. In our family I often send the child off to a sibling, suggesting maybe they have an idea of what to do.

4) Give your child more responsibility. Encourage your child’s independence by giving him responsibility consistent with his age and level of maturity. Many parents underestimate exactly how much responsibility their child is capable of handling. For example, in the country that I live it is very common for children as young as four to go to the store on their own and buy bread, milk, or some other basic commodity.

Even though there is no danger of kidnapping, child predators, etc, I was still very reluctant to let my children attempt such a feat. I grew out of it soon enough when I realized how self-sufficient those children were. They knew the value of money, they knew how much change to expect, and they were rightfully proud in helping out their families.

I did a complete turnaround, and by 12 my daughter was able to do a complete weekly shopping for the entire household. She learned how to comparison shop, look for good bargains, and would often on her own add items that were needed but that I had forgotten to put on the grocery list.

You may not feel comfortable going that far, but there are plenty of other small “jobs” you can give your children. A 3 year old can help separate out her clean clothing, and a four year old would be thrilled to wash out his plate and fork. A 6 or 7 year old can learn how to sew on a button, and as long as he can read, is more than capable of doing his own laundry.

Most parents make the big mistake of waiting until their children are older before the give them responsibility. Those same kids who at 3 and 4 were begging their parents to help will take a lot of convincing at 11 when asked to help pitch in. Why should they want to help? They’ve had it easy until now.

Try making a family meeting. Write down all the jobs that are done in your house, including things like working and changing the baby. Explain to them that you need their help; it’s impossible to continue as things are. Give examples to back up your case. Then show them how everyone will benefit by helping out. Then let them choose which jobs they will take over. There will be some jobs that they will not be able to do-like nursing the baby-but that’s okay. Having them down on the list will help them see that it too counts as a job, since it needs to get done.

5) Start out small, and add on as you go. With both younger and older children, your best bet for success is to start out small. Don’t expect your child to solve all of his problems on his own, or clean his whole room by himself, if he has never done it before. Not only will he lack the technical know-how to get the job done, but he will feel overwhelmed by just the thought of having to do all that work.

Giving children responsibility is a lot like teaching them to get dressed when they are small. You never start teaching them by giving them all of their clothing and walking away. Instead, you let them finish zipping up a jacket, or pull up their pants. Next time you might let them help with a button or two, or pull up their underwear on their own. And then before you know it, they’re getting dressed completely on their own.

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Are You a Slave to Your Children?

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I just had a very interesting conversation with a very good friend of mine. She is a single mother who homeschools her 3 children (the oldest is 15 and already in her first year of college), runs several businesses, and still manages to go on exotic vacations and get the housework done- all on a budget that most of us would consider frugal, to put it mildly.

So I asked her, "How do you do it? How in the world did you manage to juggle all of that work and still get everything done?" Having had a child with a learning disability home for several months, I know I found it difficult to help him with his daily lessons, deal with my private clients, do housework, take care of my other 6 children, and maintain this site.

Our conversation was so interesting that in the near future I plan on interviewing her so you can hear her in person-her advice is practical, to the point, and so true. In the meantime, I"ll share with you a statement that really hit the bulls' eye: " I taught my kids to be independent, because that's my job- everyone's job- as a mother. And besides, why should I be a slave to my kids?"

Her point was that most parents do too much for their children: instead of teaching them how to do it themselves, they take away the chance to teach the child to be independent and responsible (and make it easier on mom) by doing it for them.

Now I don't know about you, but I am definitely guilty as charged! And my kids are pretty independent (or so I thought). The older ones have been doing laundry since they were about 10, they often cook lunch or dinner, shop, pay bills for me, and a lot more.

But still, when it came down to it, if there was a pair of someone's shoes on the floor, and I asked them to pick it up, some of them would answer, "But it's not mine! I didn't put it there!" Of course I gave them the answer that " it doesn't matter who put it there, it just needs to be put away," but I must admit I was bothered by the fact that this was their response.

After we talked about it, I realized that this all started when they were 2, and tried to help me fold the laundry. Sometimes I would let them, and sometimes I would do a slick redirect: "why don't you go play with your blocks honey?"

Dumb and dumber. If you read Maria Montessori, you'll see one of the fundamental principles she explains is that a child's work is to master the world around them. What do children spend their time all day doing? Trying to be like Mommy and Daddy. Anyone who has been around children longer than an hour will tell you that even 12 month will try to put away the groceries -especially if you've got plenty of breakables (LOL).

And an 18 month old will fight you to the death just so they can do it "alone," even if they don't quite possess the skills to get the job done.

So when you complain that your 11 year old won't help around the house-heck, won't even clean up after himself, well you hit the party just a little too late. That is a child who at 18 months should have carried his folded clothing to his drawer and put it away. That's the 3 year old who should have been allowed to make his own sandwich (with a child-friendly knife, of course).

That's the 5 year old who could have helped you make grilled cheese sandwiches-first preparing the sandwiches, and then learning how to tell you when the sandwiches are ready to be turned over.

That's the seven year old who should have washed, folded, and put away his own laundry.

I think you get the point. As my friend put it: every other animal in the world (insects too) has to work to survive. Why should my child be any different?

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Parenting children

Parenting Solutions:6 Tips to Creating a Great Family Culture

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You hear a lot of talk about creating a great family culture these days. So much, in fact, that "family culture" seems to be either a political tool from the right or a hang-on from the great washout known as the '60s.

In reality, having a great family culture is an important factor in helping the members of your family stay strong and able to resist outside influences. It's about realizing that you are all on the same path, working towards the same goals, albeit in different ways.

Here are 7 tips you can use to help your family understand and appreciate the things that make your family special:

1. Spend time together doing fun things. It's easy to get lost in day to day tasks of running a household. Spending time together haing fun allows you to step out of the taskmaster role and see your children in a different light.

    Choose activities that not only entertain, but that offer an opportunity to work together, or to be challenged. You may be surprised by the   strengths that are revealed.

    2. Know what you stand for. Be clear about what is okay and not okay for your family. Even more importantly, make sure you spend time "talking the walk and walking the talk." Every member of your family should know what values are important to their family. Furthermore,these should be values that are lived by all members of the family - including you.

    3. Know where you're going to. An important part of growing as a family is having a set of goals that everyone is working towards. This can be range from knowing how cook for the family, to making sure to give back to the community.

    4. Be respectful to other family members. It's not uncommon to see family members speak respectfully to the next door neighbor, and then turn around and deride another family member. Make sure every family member learns how to speak and act respectfully towards each other.Establish a "zero tolerance" rule for physical or verbal abuse.

    5. Hang up your family's rules. Whether you sit together and decide the rules together as a family, or whether you as the parent (s) decide  and then present them to your children, actually hanging up the rules makes a tremendous difference.

    Not only are they a reminder of  what is important to the family, but it's a lot harder to argue "I didn't know" when it's right there up on the wall.

    6. Be an agent of change. Instead of blaming others for their lousy behavior, look and see what you can do to change the situation. Accept that you cannot change someone else's behavior. You can try to influence, persuade, or pressure, but ultimately you can only change your behavior.

    So the next time you have a problem with someone in your family (or anyone for that matter), ask yourself, "What can I do to improve the situation?"

    None of these 6 tips are a quick fix: they take time, effort, and a  willingness to carry things through until the end. The results, however, are changes that will be felt not only in your family, but your children's  families as well.

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    What Are Your Expectations For Your LD Child?

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    One of the things that makes a huge difference in raising a child with learning disabilities is how high you set your expectations for that child. I know that many parents say they believe their child can achieve great things, but when push comes to shove, it becomes obvious they are just kidding themselves.

    I'm talking about parents whose son has a reading problem, let's say, and so they make excuses and say, "Well, you know he has a reading problem; there's no way he'll be able to do that. " Then they start talking about teaching their child something more "practical," so that he will be able to make a living.

    Or how about the parents of an ADD child, who say, "Well you know he has ADD. You can't expect him to be able to pay attention for that long." I'm not talking here about making accommodations: this goes way beyond that.

    Accommodations are like a person who breaks their leg needing crutches, or a wheelchair, or ramps in public buildings. These parents, though, have given up on the idea of walking altogether- at least for that child.

    And I'm sure that parents don't do it intentionally. I know I didn't. It's a thin line between acknowledging your child's disability, and finding yourself (and your child) within a box that was created by the doctors' diagnoses, society's expectations, and your own desire not to be disappointed.

    I first realized I had been doing this when I overhead a discussion between my LD child and his older brother. They were talking about what they were going to be when they grow up. The older one had a whole variety of careers he was interested in, but lo and behold, his LD brother only mentioned things like an EMT, a store owner, etc.

    Now don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with these occupations if that's as far as a person can go. Those are legitimate occupations, and there's nothing at all wrong with them. But what if he is meant to be a great thinker, whose ideas could revolutionize a particular field? I was reminded too much of all of those studies in the '60s of black children whose opinion of themselves was so clearly shaped by how others thought of them.

    This is a child who everyone around him agrees has wonderful self-esteem. He is very popular, and has a lot of friends. He doesn't love school, but he doesn't hate it either. If you asked him how he does in school, he would honestly answer, "Okay."

    I had always thought that the culture of our house was to do the best they can do. I always emphasize that I don't care what grades they get, as long as they can show me they tried their best. And I've stuck by that.

    What that overheard conversation revealed to me is that even though I thought I was giving him the same message, somehow I wasn't. The family culture may have said, "You are okay no matter what grades you get," but the subculture was saying something different.

    How many times have we felt frustrated when our child couldn't understand something? Sure, we told ourselves we were tired of explaining the principle of negative numbers for the fifth time. But maybe we were really thinking, "I know this. Lots of other people know this. It isn't so hard, and you should be able do this too. "

    Oh really? And are we better people because we know the principle of negative numbers? Is the world a better place because we know about negative numbers? We can't even lay claim to the fact that we understand that principle, since the strengths we have that enable us to understand it are purely a gift.

    There's no reason to be proud of the knowledge we have, because unless you are a Nobel Prize Winner there are lots of other people out there who know the same thing. And there's no reason to be proud of the brains that helped you acquire that knowledge ; that's just the brain you were given.

    You could be proud of the amount of effort expended in acquiring that knowledge, but we know that nobody really appreciates that. Children with learning disabilities often expend a tremendous amount of effort, yet their grades rarely reflect that effort.

    So right then and there I changed my mindset. I examined myself deep inside, and put out all the dirty garbage for the world to see. And I found that those of us that are fortunate enough not to have to struggle with learning disabilities often have some sort of superiority complex, whether we realize it or not.

    I spent the next few weeks giving a lot of positive messages to my son. I would praise him on very specific things, and then add, "You really have a way of looking at these things. That is exactly how engineers think."

    Lo and behold, after a few months, I started hearing him talk about all the possible things he could be.

    What are your expectations for your child? How have you communicated them to him or her?

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    Defiant Child

    Defiant Child: How to Discipline Your ODD Child Part 2

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    Now that you understand why your ODD child is especially difficult, it's time to get down to brass tacks, by creating a behavioral program to implement with your ODD child.

    The program is based on three main components: building a positive relationship with your defiant child, developing a point system, and establishing authority.

    Let's focus on the first component, building a positive relationship. Usually it lasts about a week, and it is critical to the program's success. You'll spend this time noticing and commenting on the positive things your child does. That means that when you notice your child does something positive, however small, you will verbally praise him.

    For example, if  his little brother makes an obnoxious remark, and your ODD child simply ignores him, you could casually remark, "I like how you ignored what your little brother said. You could have hit him or said something back, but you didn't. You were really in control there. "

    Sometimes a gesture, such as a smile, or a thumbs up, are enough to show your approval.There's no need to make a big fuss about it, and in fact you'll need to be careful not to overdo it. If you do your child will become suspicious, or feel manipulated.

    This step is important since it's quite common for parents of defiant children to be stuck in a pattern where they spend most of their time nagging, berating, or lecturing their ODD child.This creates an atmosphere where your child expects every word you say to be something he is not interested in hearing.

    At the same time that are working on increasing the positive things you say to your child, you will also work on reducing the negative things you say to your child as well. This doesn't mean, of course, that you're going to let your child do whatever they want.

    It does mean, however, that you will pick one or two things to work on, and leave the rest for later. This could mean that you will choose to focus on reducing the amount of physical fighting, or verbal name-calling.

    The next step involves changing how you point out your child's misbehavior. Instead of criticizing, making character judgments, or stating that this is the hundredth time you've warned your child not to do this, simply state the behavior that you see, and tell the child what behavior you expect to see next time.

    For example ,let's say your child is swearing at his sister with language even a hardened prisoner would blush at. First, you need to defuse the situation. Remove the sister from the room, and if possible, the child. If the child refuses to leave the room-and this is entirely possible-you can make yourself unavailable to him. Go to the bathroom, go mow the lawn, start tackling that garage sale you've been thinking about.

    The most important thing about this strategy is that you are removing yourself and other bystanders from the area, and you are absolutely not engaging in any arguments or discussions with your ODD child.

    Take my word for it; this will be difficult. Defiant children are simply masters at drawing you into a discussion with them so that they can get what they want. This is exactly what you want to avoid. If they talk to you, you can simply say, "I will not tolerate verbal abuse in this house. I need to see people speaking respectfully to each other."

    If your child persists in discussing the issue -and they probably will-you can add, "if you want to talk about it later, we can do it at (pick a time)." Whenever your child continues to bring up the topic, you simply repeat what you said earlier.

    This is the broken record approach. Even if your child insists on coming back to discuss things with you, it ensures that you won't get entrapped in another argument with them.

    At the appointed time, you should approach your child to talk about what happened. Explain to him that you have a limited amount of time you can speak to him, and that after that time the subject will be closed. Ten minutes is usually more than enough time, but if not you can always agree to meet with them the next day.

    You should also explain that half of the time will be spent on hearing his version of what happened, and the rest will be spent on trying to make sure it doesn't happen again. Be careful not to let this situation turn into a gripe session. You want your ODD child to learn how to problem solve, not just complain.

    During the problem solving component, you'll help your child focus on what they can do to. If they say, "Kiersey should stop touching my stuff and then I'll leave her alone," you'll respond: "I need you to tell me what you will do, not Kiersey." If they give you a response, even if it is a lousy one, just accept it and say, "okay, that's one possibility, let's think of one more." Then help them think what might happen if they carry through with both possibilities.

    End the session by explaining that you expect your child to try out one of the solutions the next time the a similar situation occurs, and that you will meet with them and talk about whether or not it was a workable situation. Even if the session ends without any real workable solutions, your child will have learned that the situation does require one-and that they are responsible for finding it.

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    On the Home Front

    Seeing the Potential

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    I thought I got used to having a learning disabled child and all that it entails. Everyone out there with a learning disabled child, especially one who is in the mainstream system, knows what I mean: explaining to the new teacher that your child really isn't lazy, even though his performance is erratic. Trying to convince your child to tackle that last chunk of work even though he is sick and tired of trying and failing. Trying to explain some bit of knowledge that everyone else his age already knows.

    I think the worse thing is thinking that you've made a lot of progress, and then finding out one tiny thing that seems to mar all the progress you've made so far.

    This happened today with my son. I asked him to pick up his little sister from nursery school, since I was running late. We moved just last week, so I was prepared to give him really good directions, even though he is quite talented spatially.

    So I tell him to step out of the house, and make a left. The key word there folks is left. I suppose even without the Jeopardy theme music you can probably guess that my 12 year old son turned right.

    How frustrating. Over the years we have worked on all kinds of things, and I remember once tackling this many years ago. I guess I didn't get back to it, or thought he had it down pat. And no, it didn't t help me at the time this happened to remember that it is common for kids like him to reverse things.

    At the time I was thinking, "So has it come to this? Thousands of dollars of therapy, thousands of hours of my time and his, bit after bit of progress painstakingly pieced together with teeth gritted and hands crossed behind my back-and it all comes down to left or right, right or left.

    I had a similar moment a few weeks back with my foster daughter. She and her sister came to us about a year ago, after severe neglect, and let me tell you, there was a lot of work to be done there.

    It's nearly a year later, and I'm finally thinking that maybe we've reached a big milestone, maybe things are not so bad after all. Of course immediately after that thought, she got upset and started to bite herself.

    Well, so much for that. I realized that there was a lot more work to be done than I thought.

    Truth be told, that's just how it goes. You know the old

    one step forward, two-steps back deal. Sometimes though it's hard to really internalize that you're in for the long haul, lock, stock, and barrel.

    Sure, I'm long past the point where I expect a miracle cure. I know that being learning disabled is something that permeates that child's life-and the life of everyone around them.

    I can live with that.

    But I get tired of having to tell everybody else that. I know my children will do something great some day-heck, every day they get up and face the discrimination and impatience of others who don't understand, yet keep going, is an act of greatness.

    Funny, despite everything, when I look at these children-anybody's, not just mine- I just see the potential. Every child can progress forward, no matter how far behind they are when they start off. Every step, no matter how small, follows the next, until you see that the long journey you took wasn't so much a matter of miles covered, but steps taken.

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    Defiant Child

    Defiant Child: How to Discipline Your ODD Child – Part 1

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    Defiant children are definitely not for the meek. Although there are many characteristics that define a defiant child, probably the one that makes your defiant child hardest to deal with is his incredible level of persistence.

    For example,  a typical child when told no would certainly argue with you, or otherwise attempt to persuade you to change your mind. They might bring up the issue two, three,  or maybe even seven or eight times. After that, most children will give up, unless it concerns an issue especially important to them.

    Children who are ODD, however, not only don't give up after the seventh, eighth, or tenth time, they are able to maintain the same level of energy at the thirtieth request as they had at the first. In fact, many ODD children, after they see their request has been denied, will deliberately up the ante by yelling, threatening, or worse. Many parents simply give up just so they can maintain their sanity.

    A second characteristic of children with ODD is their seeming inability to learn from their actions. Defiant children seem oblivious to most punishments, whether they are smaller punishments like time-out, or larger ones like being grounded for a month. To the frustrated parent, they appear to be willing to "do the time." After the punishment ends, they often go right back to repeating the same behavior that got them into trouble only a day (or even a few hours) ago.

    A third characteristic is the ODD child's tendency to seek excitement. The defiant child often complains of being bored. Some have even admitted to picking fights with parents or siblings just so they have a chance to liven up things a bit. They also tend to engage in risky behaviors in an attempt to satisfy their need for stimulation, which can lead to illegal or otherwise dangerous activities.

    These three characteristics are the main reasons why ODD children not only are so challenging for parents and other caretakers, but they also explain why defiant children are at such a high risk for criminal behavior.

    The question is, what can parents do in order to help their ODD child accept their authority, and learn from consequences? Stay tuned for Part 2, where I'll discuss tactics you can use that directly address these issues.

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    School Tips

    School Tips: 3 Signs Your Child Might Be Failing In School

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    The hustle and bustle of the new school year are over now, and your child has finally settled down at school. He knows who all of his teachers are, which teacher gives easy A's, and has finally found a group to sit with at lunch. Give or take a few minor issues, everything, you think, is okay. Or is it?

    During this time of year, it's easy for parents to be  less vigilant when it comes to how their children are doing in school. After all, it' s not quite time for parent-teacher conferences, and just enough time has passed to assume that most children have adjusted to the back and forth of school life.

    Actually, now is the time you should take a close look at how your child is doing in school. There are many reasons why your child could be struggling in school, without you being aware of it. Your child may be having trouble adjusting to a new grade or a new middle school, but feels too shy to bring it up with you.

    Or, the son who made dean's list all through elementary school may be overwhelmed with the sudden complexity and depth of the material, but be worried about being thought of as "stupid." Your daughter could be struggling with finding her place in a social landscape that shifts more rapidly than the San Andres fault line.

    Early intervention in all of these cases is the key to success for your child. Dealing with these problems now- while they are relatively small- gives you the time and resources to tackle them head on, before they become tsunamis.

    Here are 5 warning signs to look out for:

    1) Avoiding homework. By now your child should have gotten the idea that she has to do homework, even if she doesn't enjoy it. But if you find your child lying about whether or not she has homework, insisting that you help her through every step, or flat-out refusing to do homework, then this may be sign something more serious may be at work.

    There are several reasons why this may be occurring. It could be that the teacher is assigning new material for homework, in an attempt to cover more ground; a group of parents may need to approach the school administration.

    Or perhaps your child has difficulty following or remembering instructions, and so doesn't know exactly what they are supposed to do; she may need help learning how to use a planner.

    Don't rule out learning difficulties; even a child who has done well up until now can still have difficulty. As Dr. Mel Levine, a top pediatrician and learning specialist explains, the demands upon children as they progress through the system change, and new neurodevelopmental skills may be required. A child who until now relied on is strong memory might find himself at a loss when deeper analytical skills are required.

    Of course if your child has always had problems doing homework, then now is the time to address that issue. Homework is important not only because it gives children a chance to review material, but also because it helps them develop discipline, as well as learn how to sustain effort even when there is no immediate reward.

    Your first step should be to ask your child why this is happening. If if this is too volatile a subject, then a close family member might have better luck uncovering the reason for your child's intransigence.

    After you've identified a possible reason, work together with school staff to implement a solution. Most importantly, don't forget to evaluate how things are going after a week or two. If it isn't working as expected, reevaluate the situation. This is a critical step, but one most often overlooked.

    2) Over or Under Involvement with friends. If your child has just started a new school, then you probably already have your eye out for this. But did you know that even well-adjusted kids can experience occasional, but serious, problems in this area?

    There are two ages when this may occur: around nine, and later as teenagers. In the former case, children shift from being family-centered to peer-centered. Up until now your child probably looked to you as the most important figure in his life. It was your opinions he valued, and your thoughts he was interested in hearing.

    Now, however, his friends have become the all powerful force that rule his life, for better or for worse. No longer will you be able to soothe him with a "don't worry about what they say, it doesn't matter." Your child will look to his peers first, and to you second.

    This is true even if you have a good relationship with your child. A natural part of your child learning how to find his place in society is his seemingly blind dependence to what his friends think. Though frustrating at times, he is using his peers to experiment with different aspects of himself. He may even rely on his friends to viscerally share experiences he might not otherwise have had the courage or creativity to try out on his own.

    Especially common at this age is the GROUP. Children between 9-11 are very into forming clubs, teams, gangs, and cliques. Part of the attraction is not only who is in the group, but also who is not.

    Some children have trouble fitting in to a particular group. They may have always been at the edge, not ignored but not actively recruited as a friend. Other children may be what is called "controversial,"  meaning children either love them or hate them, with very little in-between. These children may shift rapidly from group to group as their popularity waxes or wanes.

    Beware too of the "popular" child. She may find her place easily, but you'll want to know if she has decided she is the Queen of fourth grade. At home she may be the bees' knees, but watch out for power plays, backstabbing, and courtesan shopping. You will need to help her learn how to use her leadership skills in a positive way.

    Teenagers experience many of the same ups and downs as the earlier age, often for the same reasons. However, while previously the groups were much more fluid, with membership changing from week to week, as teenagers the groups are fairly fixed, and the stakes much higher.

    Furthermore, teenagers are faced with decisions that involve real responsibility, with far-reaching consequences. All of this is complicated by rapid physical and hormonal changes.

    3)Your child suddenly develops an over interest- or conversely, complete lack of interest, in her body. It's normal for pre-teens and older to be interested in how they look. These days, even children as young as nine are quite aware of how they look, and make a concerted effort to look "with it."

    However, if you notice that your child spends too much time talking about food or losing weight,  knows how many calories are in everything she eats, wears baggy clothing to hide their shape, or avoids eating with the family, they may be developing an eating disorder. If you have any doubt about whether your child has an eating disorder, talk with your child, or consult a specialist if necessary.

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    Freeing Your Child from Anxiety: Powerful, Practical Solutions to Overcome Your Child’s Fears, Worries, and Phobias

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    Is your child suffering from worry and anxiety?

    Empowering and insightful, Freeing Your Child from Anxiety , will help you give your child the tools he needs in order to take charge of his anxiety.

    With techniques that are down to earth and user-friendly, you will learn how to teach your child to see worry as a problem to be solved.

    Order now, and start helping your child take charge of his anxiety- and his life!

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    Thinking Skills

    Hands-on Learning Games: Improve Your Preschooler’s Thinking Skills

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    You can improve your preschooler's ability to think creatively by playing "Secret Square." You can also make this game at home  inexpensively with just a few materials.

    One of the best ways to help your child learn to exercise his thinking skills, is to give him open-ended problems that require him to consider possible solutions. While some children find it easy to free associate, often coming up with their own unique solutions, others have a hard time when the answer isn't fed to them or is not immediately obvious.

    This game, although based on a traditional 20 questions format, is helpful for children like this since it uses a picture that serves as a visual clue, and helps them to stay on the right track.


    You will need pictures of items in common categories: food, transportation, clothing, tools, animals, toys, and furniture are basic categories you can use for a beginner. You will need about five pictures for each category.

    Glue each picture to a piece of heavy cardboard or plastic.

    You will also need a coin or colored disc.

    How to Play:

    Variation One:

      1. Mix up the cards.
      2. Lay the cards face-up.
      3. Have the child close their eyes, and place the coin or counter directly under the card that you choose.
      4. Your child needs to guess where the secret counter is. For example, if you placed the counter under an ice-cream cone, your child will need to guess where you hid it, but he is only allowed to ask indirect questions.  For example, he can ask: "Is it something you wear?"
      5. If the answer is no, then he needs to turn over all the things you wear. This part of the game is nice since it sneaks in a little categorization as well.
      6. If the answer is yes, then he turns over all the things that you don't wear. He must then ask more specific questions, like "is it something you wear in the winter?" Th eony restriction is that the child may not ask directly, "Is it a chair?"
      7. When the child locates the secret counter, then he is the winner, and he gets to place the counter under one of the cards, while you guess.

    Variation Two:
    In this variation, you turn the cards face-down. You still place the counter under one of the cards, but this gives an added dimension involving memory: your child will now have to remember what types of things he saw, as you will not take away any cards until he hits a "yes."

    He will have to remember which cards he chose and asked about, in order to find the secret counter.

    Tip:You could make this game even more challenging by using less common categories. For example, you could choose to feature different types of vehicle parts: i.e. a boat engine, truck engine, motorcycle engine,etc. Your child would then have to identify the item as an engine, and would also need to know what it does.

    You might call this a Gold Challenger round, and involve the whole family.


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