Posts belonging to Category learned behavior



Overcoming Bedtime Battles with Your Toddler

bedtime_toddler_battles

Bedtime is a battle of the wills for many parents of toddlers.

Does this sound like a familiar scenario? You read your child a story, kiss her good night and put her to bed after a long day. You’re looking forward to some time to relax or finish evening chores — but instead, you spend the next several hours answering your child’s calls, putting her back to bed and spending time in her room. By the time she falls asleep, the only thing you feel like doing is falling into bed yourself.

Most young children see bedtime as a time to establish their independence. This puts eager-to-please parents who have trouble laying down the law in a difficult situation. In addition to a need for independence, toddlers’ sleep can be disrupted by the increase in cognitive, motor and social skills that comes with their age. Some toddlers also experience nighttime awakenings, nightmares and nighttime fears that make them apprehensive about going to bed.

Despite all these barriers to a good night’s sleep for your toddler, there should be no room for negotiation between parent and child when it comes to bedtime. According to the National Sleep Foundation, toddlers need 12 to 14 hours of sleep each day. Insufficient sleep can have a negative effect on a child’s development, emotions, behavior and immunity, and may even contribute to obesity later in life.

Instead of being held prisoner to their toddler’s bedtime issues, parents should follow these tips for a peaceful bedtime routine:

Maintain a consistent bedtime schedule. Help your child establish a regular sleep pattern by putting him to bed and getting him up at the same time each day and even on weekends. Help your child begin to wind down at least an hour before bedtime by encouraging quieter activities and limiting use of television and the computer.

Create a relaxing bedtime routine. The transition from activity to sleep can be eased with bedtime rituals that help your child relax. Many parents find that a warm bath, quiet conversation about the day and reading a story all send a clear signal that it’s time to go to bed.

Limit your returns. It’s important for your toddler to learn how to fall asleep alone. If your toddler gets up after you say good night, return her to her bed. Let her know that you’ll come back once or twice to check in, but don’t fall victim to being called back several times.

Encourage use of a comfort object. Favorite blankets and stuffed animals are time-honored comfort objects for children. Help your child cope with separation by encouraging attachment to a favorite object that he or she can take to bed.

Bedtime is one of the most important times to remember that you are the parent. Avoid engaging in power struggles, and stand your ground if your toddler pleads and whines. Instead, comfort your child if he has fears or nightmares, assuring him that everyone sleeps at night and that you’ll be nearby in case he needs you.

When toddlers learn to fall asleep on their own, they are better at getting back to sleep when they awaken in the middle of the night. It may not be easy, but helping your toddler master the skill of falling asleep will help ensure that he or she gets a good night’s sleep throughout childhood.

Today’s article is written by Mandy Fricke. Ms. Fricke is the community bedtimemanager for Georgetown University in Washington D.C. Nursing@Georgetown, a Master in Nursing program, as well as acontributor to the Nursing License Map. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and yoga.

Added Benefits of Taking Music Lessons in Childhood

musicBeyond the obvious benefits of learning music, a new study gives a few more reasons to take music lessons in childhood.

The study, published in the Aug. 22 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, states that adults who took music lessons as children have a heightened ability to process sounds and are better at listening.

Northwestern University researchers looked at 45 adults who had music training in childhood and compared them to those with no musical training during childhood. Those with even a few years of musical training in childhood had enhanced brain responses to complex sounds.

The participants were divided into three groups: those with no musical training, those with one to five years of lessons, and those with six to 11 years. Most in the study had begun music lessons at about age nine.

The study found that those who had music lessons were better at hearing fundamental frequency. This is the lowest frequency in sound and is crucial for speech and music perception. It enables recognition of sounds in complex and noisy hearing settings.

In a university news release, Nina Kraus, a professor of neurobiology, physiology and communication sciences, stated “Musical training as children makes better listeners later in life,” She continued, saying, “Based on what we already know about the ways that music helps shape the brain, the study suggests that short-term music lessons may enhance lifelong listening and learning.

Many children take music lessons for a few years, but few continue with formal music instruction beyond middle or high school. We help address a question on every parent’s mind: ‘Will my child benefit if he or she plays music for a short while but then quits training?”

Note: While the research showed an association between musical training and better listening skills, it does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

(SOURCE: Northwestern University, news release, Aug. 21, 2012)

More Information: The American Music Therapy Association: other benefits of music.

 

 

Are Bullies Born or Raised?

In an article by psychotherapist, Katie Hurley, she writes that children are not born bullies; bullies are something they become.

Ms Hurley believes that bullying is a learned behavior that is used in response to stress.  Bullying is an attempt to gain superiority or control over another.

bulliesShe states that while some studies indicate that some bullies have naturally aggressive and/or hyperactive personalities from the start; that should not be taken to mean that all “spirited” kids will bully while all kids who are mellow or laid back will not become bullies.

Her premise is that bullies have immature social skills. They see threats where there are none and identify other kids as hostile when they are not.  Bullies lack compassion and empathy. They have difficulty understanding how others feel.

Ms. Hurley states in her article that while it is hard to find compassion for a bully, it can be useful, however, to understand some of the reasons why kids become bullies:

1. Strained parental relationships.  Bullies often lack warm, caring, and involved parents.  Parents of bullies tend to be highly competitive and place unreasonable demands on their children to be superior to other kids (academically, socially, athletically, etc.).  These parents often have prejudices based on race, sex, wealth, and achievements.  They teach their children to compete at all costs, and to win by whatever means.

2.  Inconsistent discipline.  Bullies often lack consistent discipline at home.  Their parents tend to have difficulty setting limits and/or struggle to hold them accountable for their behavior.

3. Poor academic performance.  Some kids bully in response to academic stress.  When they struggle in the classroom and feel that they are not being helped, they may begin to lose hope.  When hope is lost, children act out.  This can translate to bullies seeking “revenge” on the higher achieving kids.

4. Unsupportive peer networks.  Children who are isolated and feel disliked or unsupported by peers often turn to bullying to gain some social control.  Their distorted thinking causes them to believe that controlling other kids = having friends.

5. Child abuse.  There is ample evidence that children who are physically abused by their parents turn around and bully other kids.  Abuse is cyclical.

6.  Victims of bullies.  Many bullies have actually been victims of bullies at another time.  Due to lack of support, poor social skills, and relying on learned behaviors, these kids use bullying behaviors to try to gain superiority and control so that they will no longer be victimized.

7. Low self-esteem.  When you add up all of the possibilities, it should come as no surprise that bullies tend to struggle with self-esteem.

There are steps to take to avoid raising bullies. Below are a few tips to work on building positive relationships:

  • Praise your children often.  Praise their big accomplishments as well as the little things that make them great every day.
  • Listen when they need to be heard.
  • Help them problem solve.
  • Encourage positive peer relationships.
  • Build positive sibling relationships.  Avoid comparisons, as this breeds unhealthy competition among siblings.
  • Set limits and hold them accountable for their behavior.
  • Teach empathy every day.
  • Carve out special time with each child and spend that time doing something that you both enjoy.
  • Talk often, even when you think they are not listening.
  • Stay calm; model appropriate conflict resolution skills.
  • Decrease exposure to violent TV, movie, and video content.
  • Be present.

Ms Hurley finishes her article on an up note, reminding the reader, again, that bullies are not born; bullies are raised. 

She states that we all have the opportunity to raise children who will choose to be empathic, kind, and loyal friends.  All we have to do is teach them those skills.

Katie Hurley blogs at Practical Parenting.