28
May

Positive Talk With Children

Positive Talk with Children

Positive talk with children can be elusive.  Often, we get lost in the busy "to do list' of our lives.  When our children don't follow directions or listen to us, we fall into the usual negative talk.  "Stop that now."  "Don't touch that." "Leave me alone." Arguments, yelling, and fighting can take place. 

 

Positive Talk with Children

Positive Talk with Children - Photo by Anna Kolosyuk

It's impossible to stop all the frustrating times with our children.  However, remembering that sometimes we can change our reaction or approach, can prevent us from feeling bad.  And positive talk prevents some of the negative feelings our children develop from constant negative talk.  In addition positive talk with children involves the crucially important skill of listening.  Other important aspects of positive talk with children include remembering that you're talking with a child, asking questions, acknowledging feelings, teaching alone time, giving praise, and making apologies.

 

Remember That You're Talking with a Child

Talk to children at eye level.  When children are always looking up, especially when they've done something wrong, this is intimidating to them.  Plus talking at eye level shows your children you have some respect for them.

 

Speak simply.  A short sentence can go a long way.  Responding to questions or misbehavior with one simple sentence will help a child stay on task and understand more clearly.  Avoid a lecture.  Avoid going on and on.  At some point, they aren't listening.

Offer two choices, either of which you approve.  When children are given options, it encourages independence.  When you approve of either of the two choices that you offer, it creates an opportunity for happiness and not frustration.  For example, "Would you like to eat peaches or pears?"  They still may want chocolate chip cookies, but you have not asked them, "What do you want to eat?"  which incorrectly leads them to believe they can pick their meal or snack.

 

Ask questions only if you want your child's opinion/answer.  Asking, "Are you ready to go now?" gives a child the impression that if they are not easy, then you will wait.  If you are not willing to wait, then tell them, "It's time to go now," so that there is no confusion.  This allows them to know that there are times when their opinion matters.  Accordingly, it lets them know that other times you are the one in charge, making the decisions.

 

Listen To Your Child

Stop and listen.  We are often busy.  Day in day out, there's a lot to do.  There's laundry, meals, dishes, hosehold cleaning, work outside the home, family needs, and more keep us busy.  However, none of those tasks help us to listen.  Intentionally making the time to listen to our children can have a huge impact.  There are techniques on how to listen to your child that can be learned easily.  Our children can learn they are important by our interactions with them, not just what we do for them.

 

Set aside a time to listen.  When we don't have the time to talk, then it's good to be honest. We can let our children know that, "Right now is not a good time for me to talk with you.  I want to hear what you have to say.  I'll make some time to talk with you later."  Remember to tell your child a specific time when you will talk.  then stick to your word.  That way they will respect your time.  And they will still feel important.

 

Repeat or restate what you heard.  Often, we hear what our children said, but we interpret it incorrectly.  Other times, when we repeat it to them, and they realize that they misspoke.  This encourages our children to develop great communication skills.

 

Ask Questions

Ask open-ended questions.  "How are you feeling?" allows our children to express whatever is on their mind.  "You didn't like that, did you?" limits what they will say.  sometimes we need to hear all aspects of what their thinking, so that we can best help them.

 

Ask specific questions.  If there is a specific issue, open-ended questions may not give a parent the answer needed.  "What was your favorite part of today?"  "What upset you the most?" "Did you understand what you learned in math class today?"  These are some examples of questions that allow our children to narrow the conversation enough so that they know their specific positive or negative emotions and experiences are important.  You are less likely get short answers, such as "Good," "Okay,"  "Bad," which are conversation enders.

 

Feelings Are Important

Encourage all feelings.  It's okay to feel sad.  We often say, "Don't be sad," as if it's a bad thing.  This is hard to watch.  Sometimes children just need to be held until the emotion passes and/or they express their feelings.  Instead of pushing away unpleasant feelings, they will learn how to deal with their emotions, making them healthier children.  Encouraging our children to feel their emotions gives them mental strength as adults too.  

 

Share your feelings.  "You made me sad when you lied to me."  "I had a hard day at work today."  This teaches them to think of others.  It also shows them you are human too.  However, make sure you keep this simple, as a child can easily be overwhelmed by adult emotions and their wish to please their parents.  You want to share your feelings without making them feel responsible for your complete happiness.

 

Teach Alone Time

Teach our children to play by themselves. This will encourage independence which is essentially for their growth and development.  It will also allow parents to act independently while getting our own tasks done.

 

Teach children that parents need alone time too.  If you've ever been interrupted while on the toilet by your child, then you know the importance of your alone time.  Shouting, "Leave me alone!" is not pleasant.  Our children don't like it, sometimes getting their feeling hurt.  And we don't feel good about ourselves afterwards.  Explaining to our children that we need "alone time" for a certain amount of time and to carry out a specific task is important.  Our children will model after what we do, not just what we say.  They will learn from us that our time is valuable which will lead to the eventual realization that their time is valuable too.  It also teaches them that they are not the center of the universe.  We will not stop to fulfill their every need every moment of the day.  It teaches them that there is a time and place for everything.  Lastly, it also teaches them to appreciate everyone's need for alone time.  In addition, this helps teach them to be considerate of other people's time.  This form of positive talk with children explains actions and validating our children.

 

Praise Children

General praise is good.  "Good job!" is a form of positive talk.  However, it leaves some room for interpretation.  What exactly made it a good job?

 

Specific Positive Praise is better because it is an improved form of positive talk with children.  Let them know exactly what behavior or speech that did that you liked and why you like it.  This helps encourages positive behavior, and decreases negative behavior, improve self-esteem, and improves the parent-child relationship.  "I like how you sat quietly and completed your homework," is more likely to result in the child repeating the same specific behavior.  

 

Apologize

Admit when we are wrong.  There are times that we have gone too far.  We have said something that we shouldn't have said or did something we shouldn't have done.  Children seem to know exactly how to overwhelm us when we are already overwhelmed.  Simply saying, "I'm sorry.  I was wrong to say/do that specific behavior."  Then offer the change you'll make next time.  "I'm sorry I yelled at you.  Next time, I will tell you to stop playing video games or else I will turn off your device."  In addition, consider asking our children what consequence they would like for their behavior.  Usually kids know what they've done wrong.  They will come up with an appropriate consequence.  This is self empowering because they came up with the consequence.  This helps our children know what to expect and the consequences of their action if they don't listen.

 

Apologize simply.  "I'm sorry.  You were right and I was wrong.  And I'm so sorry."  This validates our children.  They learn that they have good behaviors.  Then learn their parents are human, make mistakes, and apologize when appropriate.  They also learn that it's okay to make mistakes.  No one is perfect.  In addition, parents are role models on how to apologize when we make a mistake.

 

Additional Resources

• Winning Ways to Talk with Young Children by Virginia State University, Cooperative Extension Service - Dr. Valia Vincell, Child Developmental Specialist.

 

• 25 Ways To Talk So Children Will Listen by Dr. Sears

• 20 Ways To Talk So Your Kids Will Listen by Robert Myers, PhD

 

• This blog also has information on Children & Affirmations and Daily Affirmations & Quotes that are helpful in general.

 

14
Jan

New Logo

Dr. Silva: Tots, Tweens & Teens - New Logo, tree, growth, lifeI am proud and very pleased to announce the new logo for Dr. Silva: Tots, Tweens & Teens. The tree demonstrates the blessed and special journey that we are able to share with our children.  A tree is a symbol of life.  The strong roots represent the growth in our children and our inner selves. The colorful and vibrant leaves represent the bustling energy and potential in our children and ourselves. The yellow leaf is the brightest leaf which is reaching upwards as is the most special and positive aspect of every child inside.

24
Nov

Oh Christmas Tree!

‘Tis the season to be decorating! Many families celebrating Christmas have already or will soon decorate the outside and inside of their homes, celebrating in style. But for some of you, safety may be a concern. Both infants and toddlers can become injured by electrical outlets, ornaments and even a Christmas tree. This may be the first year you’ve had to think about safety issues at Christmas either because you are a first time parent or because your toddler has started developing an interest for these lovely decorations.
 
If your stories include, “I woke up to find all the ornaments smashed all over the floor,” or “My infant had a glass ornament break in his mouth,” then here are my top 10 suggestions for you:
 
1. Use plastic ornaments.
Learn to see the world through a child’s eyes. These shiny and sparkling ornaments attract your child like a moth to a flame. Glass or sharp/pointy ornaments in his/her mouth can cause injury.
 
2. Use garland instead of lights.
Remove the temptation to play with the light bulbs or the electric light sockets.
 
3. Keep electric sockets covered.
If you have not already purchased these, these covers are available at a number of local pharmacies and stores.
 
4. Keep lights out of reach from all children.
Depending on the bulbs used, this can hurt sensitive little fingers or hands. Not to mention, older toddlers can pull the bulbs apart from the light set. They can chew on them or offer them to the younger children in the home. In addition, the light set can be pulled causing the Christmas tree to topple onto your child.
 
5. Avoid ornaments & lights at the bottom of your tree.
Some families decorate the top ½ or ¾ of the tree to help their child resist temptation. Again, for the same reason that when pulled, the Christmas tree could fall onto your child.
 
6. Use play yard gates to surround your Christmas tree.
To avoid direct contact all together, these gates are the best. You can find them at your local store or by doing an internet search for Superyard XT Pay Yard.
 
7. Keep candy dishes out of reach.
Your child can choke on a lot of traditional candy. In addition, if they pull the candy dish, it may fall & shatter onto the floor. Then, your child might get glass or ceramic cuts on their hands, feet, or elsewhere.
 
8. Avoid marshmallows.
This is a fun treat if used appropriately. However, small children and even older children have choked on this. Some have even died. Marshmallow does not dissolve. So, it would be very hard, if not impossible to get this out of your child’s throat, even if you know how to use the Heimlich maneuver.  Two very famous cases involved the death of a 12 year old girl in 1999 and a 32 year old woman in 2006 while playing the "Chubby Bunny" game (http://bit.ly/1sqHoWR).
 
9. Ask for help; have someone watch your child while you decorate.
It’s hard to keep your children away from all the decor while still trying to decorate. A watchful eye is especially needed if you are decorating the outside of your home. Children have a way of getting into trouble or hurting themselves whenever you are not looking. As a pediatrician, I commonly hear, “It was only a minute.” Then, injury occurs.
 
10. Lastly, be careful when you gift wrap.
Even wrapping gifts can result in an injury. It may only be bags, wrapping paper, ribbon, tape, & scissors to you, but it’s a gold mine for your child. If left unattended, small children can suffocate in plastic bags and cut themselves with scissors. Keep these items out of your child’s reach at all times.
 
A Christmas tree and Christmas time decorations can be a wonderfully fun time at home, as long as you keep safety in mind.
5
Aug

First Day of School

school, home, family, childrenThis is a Flashback post!  Somehow, I never published it, but seeing as school starts this month, it's quite appropriate.  Not to mention it's filled with memories for me.  This still applies to everyone's first day at school.   Enjoy!
 
Our son just started Kindergarten. It was really exciting! I didn’t cry, but was amazed by the flashbacks of when I was little girl in school. I loved to learn. It was great to be with other kids. Kindergarten was filled with playtime.
 
Kindergarten sure isn’t playtime anymore. And everyone doesn’t have the same experience anymore either. Previously, regulated daycares & pre-K classes didn’t exist. As for my son, he has been in daycare since he was 3 months old. You’d think he’d be ready. But it’s just as hard for him as the other kids who have stay at home mommies. He had to say goodbye to his old routine, his old friends, his old teachers, basically to the life he knew for over 5 years. Now, playtime is over; it’s learning time with a little bit of playtime. After school, there’s the bus ride to daycare too. He has a long day. That’s hard on anybody.
 
Did I mention it’s hard on us too? No one likes change. And this was a lot of change. This house wakes up earlier. He has to eat breakfast within a certain timeframe. Lunch bags need to be prepared. How is a 5 year old going to carry a backpack, a lunch bag & a snack bag? How is he going to put it all up, repack stuff, coordinate all those little things? I don’t know; but it’s been done by others for years. It’s just my turn this time.
 
Technology has changed as well in schools. My son’s teacher has his homework schedule on her blog which is very convenient. She also offers communication via email. Remember when it used to only be notes and/or phone calls? Even the PTA is modernized. The PTA has its own website with many helpful links. They even have a Facebook page. If we want to know what the PTA school functions are, we may refer to the website and Facebook. For example, Family Bingo Night was run by the PTA with details online. Relying on technology, a lot can be accomplished. I must say, I’m amazed that this school is using technology as a part of communication, not a replacement for it. It’s a public school that has family at its heart.
 
Despite all the changes, there is one thing that doesn’t change … the human experience. Letting go isn’t easy. Trusting others to teach your kids & care for them isn’t easy either.
 
Yet, somehow, we are surviving. He’s starting to make friends, but it’s not as easy as in daycare. And he feels it. Positive affirmations and pep talks are given. Reviewing the day, homework, and coaching are done. Clearly, our roles have expanded. I must admit I’m feeling more tired than before. Great news is that he is excited. In the end, that’s all that matters.
So, this Pediatrician, this Mommy, is going through growing pains along with my patients’ moms. It’s nice to bond with families at this special time in our children’s lives. It’s nice to share in the difficult times and the joyous ones as well. After all, being a parent is the toughest and most rewarding job of all.
 
Here's a helpful resource.  Being prepared for your child's first day of school with this checklist should help to minimize your stress (http://bit.ly/1xGZO8E).
14
Jul

Music is Good for You

We saw Despicable Me 2 last summer.  I must say, the fun has continued this summer even after we saw the movie.  My son loved the "Happy" song in it.  (Click here for the YouTube video, http://bit.ly/1c7vfBJ.) He asked me to get it for him.  As it turns out, I downloaded the entire soundtrack.  There were several good songs that he & I each liked.  It was more cost-effective to download it in its entirety. I didn't think we'd benefit from the whole soundtrack, but I downloaded it anyway.
 
Funny thing is, we've been singing and dancing a lot to it.  Well to be honest, I do most of the singing, while he does most of the dancing.  Our favorites are "Happy" by Pharell Williams, the "Irish Drinking Song" & "I Swear," both sung by Minions. "I Swear" is a cover of the Boys 2 Men song.  It's hysterical partly because it sounds like they are saying "underwear." Seeing my son act out moves while belting out "underwear" makes me laugh and brings a smile to my face that lasts quite a while.
 
Music definitely has mental and physical benefits (http://bit.ly/15KC9qK). Laughter does too (http://bit.ly/17voulc). Music & laughter increase our antibody production. They also decrease our cortisol levels.  Cortisol is a stress hormone, so lowering it naturally decreases your stress level. These are great boosts to our immune system. Other benefits include improved blood pressure and flow, positive impact on blood sugar, less aggressive behavior, increased coping skills, and improved socialization.
 
Personally, There are many great aspects of laughing, singing, and dancing.  The best part is the happiness together.  It's fun, silly, unscripted quality time together.  It's super funny when my husband joins in, all 6'4" of him hopping and spinning in a circle on one foot while clapping at the same time.
 
My favorite lyrics of "Happy" are:
"Clap your hands, if you feel like a room without a roof.
Clap your hands, if you know that happiness is the truth.
Clap your hands, if know what happiness is to you.
Clap your hands, if you feel like that's what you wanna do."
 
In these serious times, it's important to have a reminder to be happy.  It can be as simple as a song.  It cost $1.29 to download.  And I can honestly say, it's definitely worth it. Simple silly times filled with song and dance, are happy priceless moments.
7
Jul

Home Is Where the Heart Is

Ahome, familys a working mom, it's been a delicate balance to juggle work and home every day (http://bit.ly/1odULFX).  I've admired stay at home moms; raising children and caring for your home, exclusively, is a tough task indeed.
 
Like many of you, I'm at the point in my life where my family needs me home. Recently, were blessed to have another child. With the addition of our daughter, it became clear, that each family member had their own unique needs that weren't being met.  In addition, with my husband's growing practice, it became harder to justify each of us spending less and less time with our family.  After all, what's it all for, if not for family? As part-time work was unavailable, we discussed our options...continue to work or stay at home.
 
The decision to stay home was a difficult one for may reasons.  I had practiced at the same site for 12.5 years.  I have attachments to many of the families I've helped, even forming friendships along the way.  I've seen many children grow up into lovely young ladies and men.  Undoubtedly, I would miss them.  In addition, being a one income home would mean many changes were in order.  Such a big life change required close scrutiny of finances, creating a detailed household budget, & most of all the cooperation of each member of our little family. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that I need to pause my career, placing a priority on my family.  And so, for now, I'm a stay at home mom.
 
The transition from being a full-time Pediatrician to a homemaker is exceedingly difficult, as I imagine it would be for any working mother. It's a huge adjustment to a very different life.  I miss the atmosphere in a pediatric office; I sorely miss the spirit of the children. In addition, being a homemaker is hard work.  While it is true that the demands of the office and hospital are no longer present, it is also true that the personal demands of home life are much more than those at work.  After all, there is an end to a work day.  However, there's never an end to the work at home.  As many of you homemakers know, being a stay at home mom is a seemingly never-ending unappreciated and undervalued job. There's lots of repetition of cooking, cleaning, caring, organizing, and being supportive of each family member, while somehow learning and trying to find time for yourself.
 
On the other hand being a stay at home mom has its great joys.  I'm happy to know that I am here for my husband, our children, and our home life.  For the first time, I am able to dedicate myself completely to family and home. At the end of the day, I must say that it feels pretty darn good to set aside my doctor's hat for a while and be a mommy, a wife, and take care of myself.  Staying at home is difficult, but it is very rewarding and fulfilling.
 
2
Aug

Fun Affirmation

Fun Affirmation

Fun Affirmation

30
Jul

A Silly Song and Dance for a Kid's Smile

Yesterday, I had the funniest experience during a physical exam. The 10 yr old thought he was going to receive shots.  Good news was he didn't need any.  Bad news was he didn't believe me. I literally told him five times in different ways that he wasn't getting shots. Yet, he still didn't believe me.  So, finally, I asked him, "What do I have to do, to make you believe me? Do I have to sing & dance?"  He silently stared at me.  So, I did.  I sang, "There are no shots today" and topped it off with my hands up high for the finale.  Guess what?  He smiled.  He believed me.  Then, he said, "You mean I worried all that ... for nothing?  We all laughed a lot with that comment.

Sometimes, it takes a silly song & dance to do the trick.  I am so happy that I made him happy 🙂 That's one of the perks of being a pediatrician ... You can be a kid, be silly, get away with it, and even win a kid over.  Awesome! 
7
Nov

Asthma In Single Parent Family

Asthma Wrose in Single Parent Family Homes

Asthma Worse in Single Parent Family Homes

Single Parent Family Homes

Asthma is worse in single parent family homes.  This past Saturday, the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center presented a study that revealed that children in single parent families are 50% more likely to return for hospital care of their asthma than children in two parent homes.  The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) annual meeting in Boston had a presentation regarding tis finding. 

The study also revealed that children were more likely to return for hospital care for their asthma, if their family's annual income was less than $60,000 a year.

 

Children with Asthma Need Family Support

This study, presented at the ACAAI annual meeting, has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.  Therefore, this is a preliminary report.  However, pediatricians see this every day; there is a definite socioeconomic impact on childhood disease.  In general, single-parent families are more overwhelmed and have less of an income than two-parent families.  Who is there to take turns when it comes to missing work, administering medications, and catching up on much needed sleep when caring for a sick child?  This is yet another reminder that single parent families need more support.  Support can come from other family members, friends, and in some cases the employer.  Inevitably, where there is more parental support, the child with a chronic disease is healthier.

For more information, go to http://bit.ly/rF1NGI & on single-parent families, go to http://bit.ly/toBaiG.

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