Tag Archives: bedtime

The Powerful Meaning of Play

Q: Our bedtime pattern seems to be my 4-yr-old daughter pushing limits until there’s a consequence; then she sulks. Two nights ago, for example, she had a couple of little stuffed animals that she was giving voices to that kept interrupting story-time. I said she could hold onto them as long as they didn’t interrupt but they’d have to go downstairs until tomorrow if they couldn’t be quiet. Of course they weren’t. Last night she got a balloon out and was playing with it and wouldn’t put it away. Same thing until I raised my voice. She is getting very silly and defiant around bedtime, often with her older sister’s encouragement. Any ideas?

A. It’s your interpretation that she pushes to get you angry or until there’s a consequence. Almost all kids push or act out to be heard and accepted. Nothing she is doing here is wrong. It’s simply an inconvenience—but it is unacceptable to you.

Read over this question and see that your daughter is being reprimanded for playing. Yes, it’s disruptive to what you want, but it is play. And she wants your engagement in that play.

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Feb. ’19 Q&A – Food Demands, Imagination and Fear, and Religious Doubt

Stop Catering to Food Demands

Q. My kids, 5 and 3, have had catered food of their choice their whole lives, and we can’t figure out how to switch without enduring weeks and months of misery at the table. When we tried a year ago, we gave up after about a week and a half of screaming and crying at every dinner. After a long hiatus, I tried again, thinking the kids would help plan the menu and cook. They agreed to try a homemade mac and cheese. They took a few bites, declared it disgusting, and started crying for their usual (pbj for my son, pizza for my daughter). We also had other items they like on offer—pineapple and bread—but they wouldn’t eat. After 30 minutes of crying, my husband and I agreed to give in but to get advice on how else we might do this more effectively, and less painfully. An additional challenge is that we are vegetarian and tend to prefer healthy, fairly sophisticated foods. Since they won’t eat mac and cheese, they are unlikely to eat barley pilaf with kale, shiitake and marinated tofu. I’m willing to compromise my own palette to aid their development, but I end up feeling quite resentful when I am stuck eating mac and cheese (even with veggies) when they don’t even eat it.

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7 Ways to Start the School Year Off Right
School year

As much as I hate to think of summer ending, it is time to be thinking about the new school year beginning. ‘Beginning’ is a concept worth giving thought to. To begin is to start or start again. A new school year start should not be marred by old expectations.

Whether your kids are going to school for the first time or are in high school, a new school year marks a new beginning. And isn’t it always a new beginning for you as well? Of what, we don’t know, but new hopes and fears emerge at this time of year.

  • If your child is coming off a previously bad school year, you wonder and fear what this year will bring and hope it will be better.
  • If your child had a good year, your expectations are likely a little higher this year.
  • For a child just beginning, you wonder what school years will be like for this one. Will he succeed, will she have friends, will teachers like them? And always: What will my role be? How can I make this a great year for my child?

7 Ways to start the year off right:

  1. Stay present and away from inappropriate expectations. Do your best to focus on right now and let go of past mistakes and old experiences. Your child is different than he was even three months ago. Talk to and plan with who he is now.
  2. Maintain strong connection. Especially in the beginning of the school year, keep quiet tabs on what is happening. A change in your child’s behavior may be a signal that something might be going on at school. Many kids don’t talk about their experiences. It all shows up in behavior.
  3. Don’t ask a lot of questions at the end of the day. The last thing your child wants to talk about at the end of a long, hard day is how it was and what happened. She wants to chill, play, call her own shots for awhile. Be patient. When she’s had her own time, she’ll be in a better place to tell you about her day.
  4. Make contact with your child’s teacher. Even if you don’t have a special needs or strong-willed child, it’s always a good idea to set up a time with your child’s teacher about a month into the year. Talk about how your child responds best at home and what tends to set him off. Be sure to share any family issues that could cause disruptive behavior in the classroom.
  5. Set up a homework schedule and school-day rules and expectations WITH your child. Each year is different. Establish a sit down time to talk about what time and place your child wants to choose for homework acknowledging when you will and will not be available for help. Decide on media times and rules. Make sure to include both your child’s and your desires in the discussion. Whatever you come up with must be agreed on by all parties involved. Create a weekly calendar and a contract if appropriate.
  6. Keep bedtimes and routines consistent. The younger your child, the more important is the consistency of routine. Keep after school activities minimal and consistent. Start the bedtime routine early and keep the order of things the same so your child gets into the sleep mode. Make sure all media is done an hour prior to going to sleep as it stimulates the brain and can create stress. Any roughhousing or physical play should end a half hour before sleep (sometimes it helps for a child to wind up before winding down).
  7. Set goals. Ask your child how she would like to end this next school year. What she hopes to accomplish, what grades she would like to have, etc. Ask her what she would like to hear her teacher say about her if she overheard her teacher talking to someone about her.

What are your hopes and fears about each of these topics? Can you share them with a trusted partner or friend and always put them aside when you talk with your child?

Be sure to send your children messages of confidence and competence. Let them know that you trust that they want what’s best for them as much as you do. Give them the opportunity to begin again fresh. We can always begin again.

And don’t sweat the small stuff. Although it may seem huge now, a failing grade, a lost homework assignment, a missing library book, a bad test score is only about right now. Resist the temptation to catastrophize and assume that your child is NEVER going to pay attention, listen to instructions, stop losing things, get organized, care about grades, etc.

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