Caroline’s Exerpt when asking the experts
CAROLINE RADFORD RN RM CHN BNSG
DOES A CHILD NEED RULES? OH YES…
I am sure we all agree that our children need simple rules and guidelines. Most of us all understand that our children don’t actually come with a rulebook and that sometimes their behaviours can be random and really stretch our limits.
What many of us sometimes forget in our busy parenting world is how much our children can grow and develop with our nurturing, positive role modelling, love and respect.
We believe children want and need to be introduced to simple, basic, clear rules by their parents. Young children are beginning to understand themselves as their own separate person with their own thoughts and feelings. During this stage, it is vital a child has a clear set of rules, or operating procedures to help them feel safe and to help keep them safe.
As a parent you have the power to guide and nurture your child’s behaviour and help to set the scene for them to begin to know what is expected of them both within the home and outside within society. You can make a fabulous start by provide a building block that your child can launch new skills from. We all agree that without the basics of healthy, appropriate foods, sufficient sleep, warmth and loving family we cannot go on to develop relationships, learn new skills and be who we eventually want to be!
So, easy step! Think about what your child eats each day and record their dietary intake (including snacks) for up to a week to gain a good honest picture. Crosscheck and see if your child ate these foods each day:
- 2 pieces of fruit
- 5 serves of vegetables
- Whole grain cereals
- 3 serves of dairy
- One tablespoon of protein
If you panicked when you saw that list or you thought it was not achievable think about doing a bit more research into ways to introduce these foods into your families’ diets. For example, with vegetables, there are many different vegetables available. Try varying the range of vegetables you provide. Make sure you are a positive role model for nutrition yourself. Serve the vegetables differently to what you usually do, for example, serve them raw, or cold with a hummus dip.
Next, think about the amount of sleep your toddler is getting in a 24 hour period. Most children between the ages of 1 and 5 require about 13 – 14 hours sleep in total. We recommend aiming for bedtime by 7pm and encouraging sleep until 6 – 7am – this provides the best quality amount of Non-REM sleep. Also a daytime nap sometime between noon and 2pm of 1.5 – 2 hours is needed.
A wise lady once told me that if you have no playful/fun relationship with a person they will never be able to relate to you when there is a serious situation at hand. With this in mind take time to just play and enjoy your child. When you develop a strong playful relationship with your child this provides you with the platform to set limits and you know the strength of your relationship will handle conflict.
Be a positive role model: Role modelling is your most effective parenting strategy. You will most likely grow up learning to do what your parenting figures have done rather than what they have said. If you action the behaviours that you wish your child to leave your home with they more than likely will.
If your aim is for them to speak respectfully, role model respectful behaviour to them and others always. Similarly, if you do not want them to learn to use aggression to resolve conflict then do not be aggressive towards them!
Diverting your child from a behaviour that is inappropriate is such a simple technique to use and so very often overlooked. Distracting your child from a behaviour that you believe is inappropriate is one of the most simply effective strategies that you can use. Distraction as a strategy tends to work best for younger children however can work well for any 1 – 5 year old.
Young children are referred to as single channeled – this means when they engage in an activity they tend to become very focused on just that activity alone, even if it is for a short period of time.
Let’s imagine the activity is pushing rolls of toilet paper into the toilet. You will need to approach your child and get to their eye level. Touch them on the shoulders and make face-to-face contact with them to make sure you have their attention. If you are shouting at them from across the room you are wasting your energy, you are only going to get worked up and they will not hear a thing you said.
Value add by stating a rule, for example: “Only used toilet paper goes in the toilet!”.
Take your child to another part of the house and engage them into another activity – this will take you about 10 minutes. If you find that your child keeps returning to the trouble spot it may be because you have not provided enough time to re-engage your child in another activity.
It may also be because your child is very curious about developing concepts for example, spatial awareness and what fits into where. In this instance look for activities that your child can engage in that develop this skill. For example, slots made into disused cereal boxes or ice cream containers and then providing appropriate objects to slot into them.
How much water fills up into various sized containers. This approach also endorses the believe that your child is not naughty, rather they have a natural sense of exploration using play to learn.
Rules work best when they are short and to the point. Start by saying exactly what you want rather than what you don’t want. Rules can be extended and developed as your child develops and in keeping with the behaviours that you want to work on.
The following is simply a list of common rules and how to phrase them.
CAROLINE’S ANGELS TOP RULES
- Keep your hands and feet to yourself – also known as – keep hands feet and objects to yourself
- Recommended for children who use often use physical touch in a rougher way with other children, for example, hitting. If your child was a ‘biter’ you could alter this to “Keep your hands, feet and teeth to yourself”
- Each time you are preparing to play alongside others remind your child of this simple rule. Make it like a mantra that you sing or repeat before play dates.
- Make sure they have space around other children. Often play spaces can be crowded making it hard to apply the “no hands” rules. Role model making space near or around your child, show him how to keep about arms length from others and share space.
- If any physicality occurs, move in close near your child and demonstrate how to move away and make space. If needed apply a logical consequence and move away from others for a short period or go home early
We hold hands when we leave the house: Especially useful if you have a more independent child whose tendency is to move away from you. Make sure as you are preparing to leave that you discuss the expectation that we hold hands. Do not leave the house until you are holding hands. Distract your child with, “Which hand would you like to hold today? Left or right” this way they feel like they have a choice and not holding hands isn’t one of them!
Place a cut out of holding hands on the exit to the house. Each time you approach the exit as your child to tell you what the holding hands sign means. That way they think they thought of the rule all by themselves.
If you are out and they won’t hold your hand the result would be that they have to ride in a pram or perhaps leave an event early.
We sit to eat our meals: Especially useful for children who are distracted easily from meals and get up and down or move around the house with food. Let your child know before each meal that the rule is “We sit to eat”. Then distract them with the idea of where would like to choose to sit. Again, the distraction can help to buffer from the idea that they may not want to sit, as that isn’t an option. Offer the choice between 2 or 3 dining chairs, or high chair or low table.
Wait for your child to sit before you serve their food. A hungry child will always sit! Role model that you sit as well.
We use inside voices inside the house: Recommended if you have a toddler who has a loud, shouting or high-pitched voice role model using a quiet voice. As your child’s voice raises lower and continue to lower your voice until you are speaking either in a whisper or not speaking at all. When your child speaks to you in a volume that you are happy with, then reply back in a normal speaking volume.
Beds are for sleeping on (or sitting on): Recommended if your child has a tendency to jump on the bed. This could also be adjusted to “Beds are for sleeping and chairs are for sitting” if they jump on furniture. If your child is an active jumper it would be helpful to give a place where your toddler could jump safely and appropriately, cushioned area or trampoline. Each time your child attempts to jump on the bed (or couch) remind them that beds are for sleeping and guide them to another activity to distract them. If needed move them to another area away from the beds or lounges.
Food goes in your mouth! Or stays on your plate: Especially useful for children who test boundaries by spitting their food. They may do this to see what reaction it gets. Logical result is meal time stops temporarily, then resumed and then if behaviour continues meal discontinued
We use listening ears for stop signals when we play outdoors. Like holding hands we when are outdoors this rule is especially useful for children who are more independent and have a strong tendency to run in open spaces. Logical result may be leaving park earl.
Balls are for throwing outside: useful if your child tends to throw household objects. It is important to offer plenty of balls and a safe place to throw them to redirect the behaviour appropriately. Logical consequence could be that ball/toy/object is not accessible for a short period of time.
Being woken every night by a crying baby in the first months of parenting is a rite of passage, but one that most people keenly anticipate coming to an end.
Not Leanne Girdwood. For almost 20 years she’s been working overnight in private homes, feeding and settling other people’s babies while parents catch up on sleep.
Girdwood says there’s a range of reasons clients book her services. Parents may need help settling twins or triplets, while others struggle with postnatal anxiety or depression. For many though, Girdwood simply provides respite from the sheer exhaustion the early days of parenting can bring.
“Nothing can prepare you for the bone-weary tiredness you’ll experience when providing for the needs of a newborn, and the flow-on effect that tiredness has on every aspect of your daily life in those first few months,” Girdwood says.
She began her career in the 1980s as a trained mothercraft nurse, working with babies and parents in postnatal wards. After becoming a mother herself, Girdwood identified community need for more home-based support and began working overnight with families through a nanny agency. She now takes bookings directly through her Melbourne-based business, Mothercraft Care.
“As a society, we should be much more prepared to provide support to new parents,” she says. “There’s so much pressure to be the perfect parent, with the perfect child and a pristine home.”
While working nights doesn’t suit everyone, Girdwood says the only issue for her is staying quiet while everyone in the house is asleep. After settling a baby, she reads or knits using the dim light from her phone. “I guess it seems like a long time to be awake and alone and responsible, but I’m used to it.”
If parents do surface during the night, they often pick Girdwood’s brain for advice. “Some mums with anxiety have trouble sleeping and I’ve had some great middle of the night chats about life with some of them over the years.”
A lack of social support combined with the intensity of the newborn period prompts some parents to reach out to Perth night nanny Caroline McMahon. She says some of her clients are so socially isolated, they don’t have anyone to call up for a coffee and a chat.
“They don’t have that little village around them to come in and help.They just get quite fearful of that lack of support.” In some cases their distress is very apparent. “I’ve come to women who are waiting on the front doorstep with a screaming baby, and just thrust the baby at me.”
McMahon was working as a midwife when she noticed the mothers she’d supported in hospital kept calling her for advice after they’d gone home. She started up an in-home baby sleep support business, Caroline’s Angels (with business partner Caroline Radford), which quickly became busy.
McMahon says her midwifery experience and links to the medical community are invaluable in her night nanny role. At times, she’s the first to suspect a parent may have severe postnatal mental health issues.
“We might have been told there’s a bit of depression, and in actual fact we’ve got quite a non-functioning mother. It’s then up to us to support them in seeking further help.”
McMahon extends her expertise to expectant parents too, running workshops for parents-to-be to help build realistic expectations of how chaotic life can be with a new baby.
“Look, it’s a really unsettling time. It’s a process. [Becoming settled] just doesn’t happen quickly and we educate our families that it’s quite normal,” she says.
But while there’s still a need for overnight care, McMahon will continue helping exhausted parents get a good night’s sleep. “We’re like Father Christmas turning up. We get such a lovely response. It’s a beautiful job.”
The next you can see Carolines Angels live are
- Perth Baby Sleep Workshop Event – Wednesday October 11th 10am Telethon Speech and Hearing Centre
- Melbourne Baby Sleep Workshop Event – Tuesday October 17th 10am Abbostsford Convent
Thanks to Dymocks Whitford City for hosting us at our book signing for ‘5 Steps To Sleep – For Babies and Toddlers’ at the reopening
of Westfield Whitford City – Saturday 23rd October. It was great meeting lots of new faces and very cute babies and toddlers!
We look forward to seeing you at Dymocks Whitford City for our book signing event on Saturday 23rd September at 1.30pm.
Come and say hello!
We loved being part of this week’s “Yin and Yang” feature in ‘The West Australian”. Thanks William Yeoman for the great pic and for telling the story of who we are.