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Kelly Borchardt column: Positive approaches best way to deal with 'trying' behaviors

6:29 PM, Jan. 25, 2013  |  Comments
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With December being a busy month with celebrations, wintry weather and sickness, January seems to be a good time to focus on behaviors.

At some point, all parents deal with the frustration of having their toddler crying or kicking in the middle of a store or having their school-age child challenge the rules. While these behaviors are difficult for us as parents or caregivers to deal with, they are very normal for children in these age groups. At almost every age, children behave in ways that we will not find easy or pleasant. Generally with time, these "trying" behaviors usually go away.

Typical behaviors for toddlers include: tantrums; saying "No!"; and biting or hitting. Typical behaviors for preschoolers include: testing limits; asking "Why?"; and lying, stealing or arguing. Typical behaviors for young school-age children include: refusing to do something; being bossy; and wanting things his/her own way.

Positive approaches to children have the most favorable impact on their behavior. It is important for parents and caregivers to have a variety of strategies to use when raising and caring for children because not every strategy will work for every child. As children get older, these strategies also might need to change.

Here are a few approaches that might be helpful:

? Tell your child in advance what is happening. Prepare them for any changes in their daily routine. "Today after nap, we're going to the library."

? Respond calmly and briefly. Try not to talk about the "why" until things have settled down.

? Teach what to do instead of what not to do. "Tell me calmly what is wrong" instead of "Stop screaming and throwing things!"

? Offer real choices. "Do you want to wear your red or blue hat to go to the store?"

? Be consistent. Establish regular routines for eating, sleeping, getting dressed, etc.

? Use humor or games. "How fast can you get dressed? Let's set the timer and see if you can do it in 2 minutes!"

? Catch your child being good. "You did a nice job of waiting for your turn."

Lastly, acknowledge that parenting and caregiving are really hard work! Remember to take care of yourself, talk with others and get the support you need in order to successfully care for the children.

Kelly Borchardt is executive director for Child Care Resource & Referral of Central Wisconsin Inc. To reach her, call 800-628-8534 or email ccrrcw@tznet.com.

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