Have a question, concern or problem regarding your child's behaviors? Send me an email and I will do a blog post about it! You will always remain anonymous! tkmiller81002@yahoo.com

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Is your child easy, slow to warm up or difficult?

A while back I mentioned that I would do a post about temperament and then life happened and I haven't had a chance to sit down and write a really good post about it. Well right now N is sound asleep for atleast another hour, my laundry is going, M, J, and O are playing nice so here you go!

Understanding temperament is HUGE in my opinion because it helps you establish expectations of your children that are reasonable and that your child can meet. If you have a child with a difficult temperament then you are not going to be disappointed in them when they don't behave in an easy way. Temperament is not something that is learned, but rather is something that all children are born with. A child's temperament is visible as early as 3 months of life. Temperament is similar to the idea of personality traits except for the fact that a temperament trait (shyness or aggression) is not learned where a lot of personality traits are (honesty and humility).

In a classic study called the New York Longitudinal Study (NYLS) researchers found that "each newborn has distinct traits that are coded in the networks of his or her brain" and from this study we receive the categories of easy, slow to warm up, difficult and hard to classify. In the study they also discovered nine dimensions of temperament which I am going to discuss in this post! As you read the following dimensions answer right down which one suits your child best for each individual dimension:

1. Activity level: motor activity and the proportion of active & inactive periods. An example of a child with a high activity level would be then when a friend comes to visit your child immediately starts a game of running around wildly. An example of a child with a low activity level would be that given a choice of activities, your child usually selects something quiet such as drawing or looking at a picture book.

2. Rhythmicity (Regularity): The predictability or unpredictably of the timing of biological functions such as hunger, sleep-wake cycle, and bowel elimination. An example of regularity is if your child's big meal is always lunch time. An example of irregularity would be if your child sometimes fall asleeps right after dinner and other days she is up until 9 or 10.

3. Approach or Withdrawal: the nature of the initial response to a new situation or stimulus. Approach would be when you go to a playgroup and your child jumps right in and withdrawal would be your child started preschool and taking a week before beginning to participate

4. Adaptability: what is the nature of a child's long-term responses to new or altered situations? Here the concern is not with the nature of the initial response. High adaptability would be a child who moves from playing to having lunch, adjusts to new surroundings right away, leaves school willingly, eats chicken even if promised burgers without complaint. A low adaptability would be a child who doesn't like school at first and takes the entire fall to become content with it, protests when new children enter a game, protests loudly when having to stop playing when it is time for lunch, protests loudly when they are given chicken instead of promise burgers, cries when has to leave school.

5. Sensory threshold: what is the level of stimulation it takes to evoke the child's response to sounds, smells, sights, movement, textures, other people's stress, etc. A high sensory threshold would be whether clothing texture is smooth or rough doesn't make a difference, she seems comfortable in every type and a low sensory threshold would be that she complains about any pants if the waistband is the slightest bit tight.

6. Quality of Mood: is her typical mood positive (expressing pleasure, joy, optimism and friendliness) Or is it negative (more serious, analytical, less joyful and friendly) A positive quality of mood would be getting new shoes and running around showing them off to everyone and a low quality of mood would be coming home from school full of complaints about the other children.

7. Intensity of reactions: the energy level of response, both negative or positive. A high intensity would be that as soon as she has trouble with a puzzle, she screams and throw pieces. She gets so excited when she finds something she likes. A low intensity would be that you know she likes a new toy because she smiles quietly.

8. Distractibility: how easily an outside stimulus can interfere with the child's ongoing behavior. A high distractibility would be that your child will ask for cookies once or twice and if you don't have them they will accept a substitute. A child will have a low distractibility if she decides to go out and play but can't because it is raining, she will fuss and won't accept any substitute.

9. Persistence and Attention Span: persistence is the continuation of an activity in spite of difficulties. Attention span refers to the length of time a particular activity is pursued without interruption. A high persistence level is if a child's wagon gets stuck they will struggle with it until it moves again and doesn't give up. A low persistence would be asking for help in drawing a dog and then losing interest after the first try.  A child with a long attention span would get absorbed in playing in the sandbox for almost an hour and a child with a short attention span would like to play with a new toy but concentrates on it for only a few minutes at a time.

"Easy children are typically happy and outgoing most of the time, and adjust quickly to almost any change. Difficult children are the opposite, irregular, intense, unhappy, disturbed by every noise, and hard to distract . . . Slow to warm up are unwilling to adapt to new people and experiences at first but they do adapt with time and patience." (The Developing Person)

You cannot change a child's temperament it is who they are and has nothing to do with nurture but is solely nature. However as a parent you can learn what your child's temperament is and teach them to cope and handle situations in a more positive way. M, O and N are all my easy children. They make being a parent incredibly easy because they are just go with the flow kind of kids and don't make a lot of waves. J, however, has gone from being an extremely difficult child at birth to now a difficult child because I have remained patient with him and taught him ways to manage his emotions and feelings. He still challenges me daily but it keeps me on my toes! It is so important that if you have a difficult child you learn to maintain your cool, and keep your patience because the more you reassure them that it is o.k. and not pressure them to be something they are not then the easier they become. It is also important to not cave and just give the difficult child what they want so you don't have to deal with it, because by doing that you will ALWAYS have to deal with it. I will go more into ways on how to handle a slow to warm up child and a difficult in another post, but I am curious to know what your kids are so leave a comment and let me know if you have a slow to warm up, an easy or a difficult child! If you aren't sure leave a comment and I will help you figure it out!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Natural consequences at its best

Lately my kids have been experiencing A LOT of natural consequences. If you don't know what a natural consequence is, it is when you as a parent don't have to dish out the consequence, it just happens naturally. I know that sounds confusing so I will give you some examples:

1. Your kid refuses to wear a jacket in the winter, so they go outside and they get really cold
2. Your kid hits a kid and the kid they hit hits them back.
3. Your kid refuses to eat dinner and then they are hungry.
4. Your kid lies and they are no longer trusted.

Those are just some examples, the key here is that as a parent you are not dishing out the punishment but letting the natural flow of life discipline your child. When your kid doesn't eat dinner and then is hungry an hour later that is nature teaching your kid that it is important to eat dinner so you don't have to be hungry. Does that make sense?

I LOVE natural consequences because I remain the good guy and my kids learn that sometimes mom is right and they should listen to me. So here is an instance where my kids have experienced natural consequences.

The other day we had a very busy shopping day planned so we knew we would be eating out. One of the stops we had to make was to Costco and so my husband and I decided the best deal we could get for the family would be Costco's hot dogs and drinks. We of course asked our kids if they were ok that or if they wanted chicken nuggets from McDonald's. They chose Costco's hot dogs. So we are in line waiting to order and M says that she wants pizza. Now at Costco they have HUGE hot dogs and a 20 oz soda for 1.50, or a very large slice of pizza for 1.99 with no soda. Granted their soda's are only .60 the point is it costs more for a pizza and soda than for a hot dog and soda. T and I already decided that we would buy everyone the same thing and so I told M that she could have a slice of pizza, however, she would not get a soda with her pizza but I had bottled water and she could drink that, she then said that she wanted a hot dog. J then said that he wanted a slice if pizza so I told him the same thing I told M. Well T was right there and he said, No, everyone was getting a hot dog. I politely disagreed with T and told him that if J wanted a pizza he could have it I just wasn't going to get him a drink because I thought it was important for J to choose what he wanted for lunch, I wouldn't want someone dictating what I could have for lunch! T agreed and told J the same thing I already told him (don't you love when you are handling a situation and the spouse jumps in to help and not always in the best way). So J agreed and said he wanted a pizza and no soda. Great! So I go up and place our order thinking all is well with lunch. The cashier gave us our drink cups and I handed them over to T to fill up. J quickly realized that everyone but him was going to get a soda and quickly ran over and said, "Wait mom I changed my mind, I want a hot dog now." I told him, "I'm sorry J I already paid for our food and you chose pizza knowing that you would not get a soda. You may ask O if he will share his soda with you, but I am not ordering you a hot dog now that I have already bought you a slice of pizza, and maybe next time you will make a different choice." He was livid of course and refused to talk to me or anyone else and was very angry that I didn't budge and buy him a soda. But you know what, once he started eating his pizza and O shared his drink he was happy as can be. He then told me thanks for the pizza and that next time we go to Costco he is getting a hot dog! Lesson learned and all I had to do was keep my word! How awesome is that.

The key to natural consequences is to stick to your word, what do you think would have happened if I just bought him the hot dog - after all it was only 1.50 I have that in loose change in my car. I will tell you what would have happened, he would have learned that if he throws a tantrum he can get what he wants and he wouldn't respect me, he wouldn't learn how to make a right decision, and he wouldn't learn that our choices have consequences!

Natural consequences are an everyday factor life. As an adult we experience natural consequences all the time - we choose not to do the laundry we don't have clean clothes, we choose not to wash the dishes we don't have clean ones. We choose not to nurture our relationships with others and those relationships fizzle out. We choose to gossip and people stop telling us things. The same is true when it comes to our kids, if you can let your kids experience a natural consequence they will be better for it!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Having a newborn baby in the house has really brought some insight into parenting for me. The main insight I have had is that everything involving kids can be solved by asking the magic question, why! As I have been caring for N I found myself often asking myself why is she crying? Why isn't she pooping? Why is she not sleeping better? By asking myself why, I found myself coming up with answers to the why and being able to correct the situation. For example, when she starts to cry I would think why is she crying, then look at the clock and notice that it was time for her to eat so I knew to feed her. When she would keep waking up after I laid her down I would ask myself why she was doing that and I noticed that as soon as I laid her down Owen would run over and bump the bassinet to see her so I would move her into my room where no one would disturb her sleeping and then she would sleep!

I then realized I often ask myself why when it comes to my older kids as well. I have been struggling a lot with O and J lately, the two fight constantly! I could have just gotten upset with them, yelled at them, spanked them, taken things from them and that would have stopped the fighting for oh about five minutes, but by asking myself why they were fighting it forced me to really pay attention to what was going on. I discovered that often time J wants to be left alone and O wants to play with J so J will get frustrated and he has never been a big talker so he uses his fists to express his frustrations and then O gets mad and hits him back. So now that I know what is going on I can work with J on learning how to better handle his anger. I also noticed that I would discipline J more often than O so J was feeling picked on and like O could get away with murder so now O is getting disciplined as well as J. It is going to take time and patience and consistency on my end to help them stop fighting so much, but had I not asked myself why they were fighting I wouldn't even be close to fixing it.

By asking yourself why your kids are behaving in the way you do, you can find ways to help fix it. Here are some common reasons why your kids might be acting up:

1. They are tired
2. They are hungry
3. They are bored (especially now that is summertime)
4. They are sick
5. They don't feel safe (big reason kids lie and hurt others)
6. They want your attention
7. They want to have more power over their life
8. They are scared
9. They don't know how to express themselves and their feelings in a healthy way
10. They have been given too much power over their lives
11. They are insecure
12. They are behaving like a typical child (especially when they are 2!)
13. They are over or under stimulated

So look at your biggest parenting struggles, is it that your kid is constantly lying, or do they refuse to listen to you, or are they really whiny? Why do you think they are being that way? After you figure out why they are doing something what can you do differently to help them?

Another important thing to note, never ask your kid why they did something. By asking your kid why they did something it automatically puts them on the defensive and you are not going to get a clear answer. Instead ask them what happened, what they were feeling, what the other kids did or said, what they were thinking. By asking what you show them that you aren't blaming or accusing them but are just trying to find out what happened. You will get much more honest and open answers when you ask kids what instead of why!

Monday, June 6, 2011

"Choose your love. Love your choice." -Thomas S. Monson

I have been thinking a lot about marriage lately and wanted to share some of those thoughts with you guys. I have been married for almost 9 years and I can honestly say that I am still head over heels in love with my hubby! He is an amazing husband, friend, father, provider, and every day I strive to be a better wife for him. Our marriage hasn't always been perfect. When we first got married we both had very different ideas on what a marriage looks like. T is a checklist kind of guy, he has a to-do list that NEVER ends! When we came home from our honeymoon he literally sat down and wrote out a schedule for our week and he scheduled me in at 10:30 at night because he felt that he was finally able to check "get married" off of his to-do list and now he needed to focus on his other life goals. So after he wrote up this schedule and showed it to me I walked over, picked it up, ripped it to shreds and threw it in the garbage. He was shocked and a little bit bothered that I would do that until I told him that a marriage isn't something you check off your list and pencil in to fit into your life. A marriage is a partnership where his goals are my goals and my goals are his goals and we work together all the time, we spend more time together married than we did dating, we support each other and we have to work at it every single day to keep it going. He quickly agreed and our lives have been better for it. Over the years we have had our ups and downs like most couples, but we have approached our struggles with a positive can do attitude and have been able to grow closer because of it. Here are some of our success secrets:

1. Love your spouse more than you love yourself. I never think about what is my husband doing to show me he loves me, but I always think about what I am doing to show my husband I love him. Literally from the time I wake up in the morning until the time I fall asleep at night I am always thinking about how my actions will affect my relationship with my husband. I know T appreciates a clean house and so before I ever sit down to read a book, or get on the computer, I make sure all of the main rooms of my house are clean, so when he wakes up he won't have to worry about cleaning and he can spend more time with the family and less time cleaning. And guess what, because I am so focused on showing him that I love him, he constantly shows me he loves me! In all of the marriages that I have seen that have problems the root of their problem is that they love themselves more than their spouse and they are more concerned about what their spouse is doing for them than what they can do for their spouse.

2. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! My husband and I are not psychics and we can't read each others minds so we have to tell the other person what we are feeling, what our plans are, what our expectations are, etc. If I am upset about something that T did or did not do it is my responsibility to let him know I am upset and why and vice versa, and then I need to be willing to listen to him explain his actions, reasoning, etc. Just because I am mad he did something doesn't mean he was wrong, I might have misinterpreted his actions, or had a different perspective than him. There have been times when I have been upset and after talking with him him about I have been the one to apologize because I might have overreacted. My husband and I are both extremely busy people so it is also extra important for us to communicate our plans to each other. Every day we ask each other, what do you have planned for the day, and whenever we make plans we let the other person know right away. If we both make plans then we compromise and decide which one is the most important. Church is always number one priority and trumps all other plans. If the other person still wants to go out then it is their responsibility to make arrangements for our kids. This way there is minimum fighting.

3. Be a support to one another. I have a dad already and so I don't need my husband to be my dad. He already has a mom so he doesn't need me to be his mom either. What we need is a supportive spouse whose main goal in life is to ensure that we are happy. So when T gets a crazy idea (which is very very often) he doesn't have to worry about me telling him yes or no, but instead we talk about how we can make it work. If I want to go out with my girlfriends once a month I don't have to ask him permission I just have to let him know I am planning on doing it and I know he will support me and take care of the kids so I can have some me time. We never ask each other for permission, we simply ask for support.

4. Have friends outside of your marriage. I think it is important to remember that we were friends with other people when we were dating and it is important for us to have friends outside of our marriage. Friends can be a great support to your marriage, they can give you an outlet that your spouse can't. Let's face it your hubby will never be a great girlfriend, he doesn't understand the intricacies of how the woman's mind works and you will never be a great guy friend because you don't have a male brain. So it is important that you each have friends that can fill that need. However, your friends should never be more important than your spouse and they should never encourage you to do things that would harm your marriage.

5. Teach other how to be the spouse you need. Before our wedding day I had never been a wife and my hubby had never been a husband so we had to learn and what better way to learn than from your spouse! I have heard so many friends complain about how their husbands treat them, and all I can think is that you taught that to them. I look at controlling relationships, where the husband tells the wife what she can and can not do and I blame the wife for part of that controlling relationship because she has allowed her husband to control her. If my husband ever told me what I could or could not do I would let him know that he can shove that notion up his you know what. I am a grown woman and I can decide for myself what I can and cannot do. But too often the wife or sometimes even the husband is too nonconfrontational and even though they are upset that the spouse is dictating their life they allow it because they don't want the fight. But believe me your needs and wants are always worth the fight! If you don't teach your spouse how to fulfill your needs then they never will and you will live in an extremely unsatisfied marriage. A great book about this is called His Needs, Her Needs - I swear by that book!

7. Teamwork! My husband and I are a team. We work together to raise our children, save money, clean the house, and build our relationship. My husband is amazing in this regard! He never complains about doing the dishes, vacuuming the living room floors, cleaning the toilets, taking the kids with him to run errands, taking care of the kids while I take a nap, etc. Our attitude is that we both live in the house and it is both of our responsibilities to keep it clean. We both chose to have kids and it is both of our responsibilities to take care of them and ensure our needs are met. His contribution to their life is not just his sperm and yet too often I see dad's having that attitude. Heaven forbid they have to take care of their own children every once in a while so their wife can have a break! We are also a team when it comes to our spending habits. I know my husband works hard to provide for our family and keep us out of debt so I work hard to manage our money in a way that doesn't add stress to him.

8. Always look for the positive. If I look for the negative aspects of my husband's personality then I will find them and focus on them and that's all I will see of him and I will miss out on a lot of positive aspects of his personality. The same is true if I focus on the positive aspects of who he is and what he does for our family and our marriage and that is what I will see. I encourage my friends who are struggling with their marriages to every night think about ten positive things about their spouse - maybe they remembered to put the toilet seat down for you, or they helped put the kids to bed. Maybe they gave you a kiss when they walked in the door and told you you looked beautiful. Focus on the good they did and they will do more god things. I also think it is important to tell them the things you love about them. I love hearing my husband tell me all of the things he loves about me, or when he first walks out of our room from sleeping and he immediately tells me how nice the house looks. It makes me want to keep doing those things.

9. Always be honest with each other. I believe in honesty in all aspects of my life and if you want to know the truth about something you can come to me and I will tell you. There is no bigger marriage killer than deceiving one another - just don't do it, no matter how much you think the truth will hurt them, lying will hurt them 10 times more.

10. Respect one another and not just to each other's face but behind their backs as well. How would you feel if you found out that the person you love was trashing your name behind your back? How would you feel if he treated you like an idiot or called you insulting names? Treat your spouse the way you expect to be treated!

There are lots and lots of more things my spouse and I do, but these are the main things. How do you keep your marriage alive? What is something you struggle with in your marriage?