Tag Archives: behavior

Catch Them Being Good

During the holiday season, growing excitement and exhausting festivities can take a toll on a child’s behavior and a parent’s state of mind, but it is important to be consistent in regards to what is expected from both parents and children.

Praising children at appropriate times is one of the most important things a parent can do. It will nourish your child’s mind and self-esteem. It will also reward you, as a parent, with good behavior from your child on a more consistent basis.

While holidays may lead to occasional chaos, they also open the door for unique teaching opportunities. For example: the Elf on the Shelf.

What is the Elf on the Shelf?

For those of you who haven’t heard of the Elf on the Shelf, it is a nationwide phenomenon that answers the age-old childhood question: How does Santa know if I have been good or bad?

A month or so before Christmas, the family elf journeys from the North Pole to supervise the home. He or she sits on the shelf (able to listen to and watch, but not talk to, the children), and every night he returns to the North Pole to give his daily report to Santa. When the children awake, they get to search the house for where the elf will be watching from for the day.

How can You Use Elf on the Shelf?

The Elf on the Shelf isn’t just a game for the children, it provides a holiday break from the norm for parents as well!

  • Reference the elf in your praises. Join in the holiday magic and tell your child how the elf told you that he or she caught your child sharing with a sibling, cleaning up after dinner, etc.
  • If your child is acting up, a calm reminder that the elf is watching may be enough to modify the behavior.
  • Have fun with how you set up the elf and where you hide him. There are some great ideas on Pinterest and blogs.

The Elf on the Shelf is a fun holiday tradition, but it is important that parents keep the rules for effective praise in mind. When praising your children:

  • Make sure that you are genuine. Children can see through false compliments, exaggerations, and flattery. On the other hand, earning genuine praise makes children feel good.
  • When giving praise, make sure your children know exactly what they did that pleased you, so they can repeat the behavior.
  • Be sure to tell them why you think what they did was good and how it will benefit them and others.
  • Finally, make sure your child responds to your praise in a way that lets you know he or she understands why you are pleased with a particular action or behavior.

There are certain times where you may want to consider adding reward as a fifth step. Rewarding your child with a special privilege when you are especially pleased with his or her behavior or when an outstanding improvement has been made in a problem area will help to ensure your child will repeat the positive behavior.

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ADHD

September 24, 2013 by

One of the most common neurobehavioral disorders found among children is Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And rates are on the rise.

Dr. Ashley Harlow, psychologist at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, believes that this spike in diagnoses is due to a combination of factors. “Parents, teachers, and [health care] providers are more aware of the signs and symptoms and, therefore, are investigating this diagnosis as a possibility,” he says.

Because ADHD is so prevalent, there is concern that children are being misdiagnosed.

Misdiagnosis can go many ways, explains Dr. Harlow. “I think misdiagnosis is a problem, although I think it is important to consider misdiagnosis as both diagnosing another condition as ADHD and diagnosing ADHD as another condition.

“I see kids who have been diagnosed with ADHD because they do not like their teacher, they do not listen to their parents, or they do not follow through on what their parents tell them to do,” says Dr. Harlow. “These behaviors do not necessarily indicate ADHD.”

Also complicating the issue are instances where children have ADHD and are instead diagnosed with another disorder, like Autism Spectrum Disorder, or when high-school and college students use ADHD medication to support studying. “In these cases of students seeking study aids, misdiagnosis might occur because of misrepresentation of the symptoms by the patient,” adds Dr. Harlow.

Dr. Harlow says that visible signs of ADHD can include behaviors like “difficulty sitting still in the classroom, disorganization in completing homework or turning it in, making careless mistakes, staring off into space, interacting with peers in immature ways, or starting chores but not finishing them.”

Many children may demonstrate these behaviors, so Dr. Harlow advises careful consideration before jumping to conclusions. “[Health care] providers, in consultation with families, work to determine if enough symptoms are present and impairment is at a level to warrant a clinical diagnosis.”

The CDC states that “children with ADHD do not grow out of these behaviors. The symptoms continue and can cause difficulty at school, at home, or with friends.” Therefore, it is important to treat children who are afflicted with ADHD.

Treatment of ADHD focuses on reducing the impact of the symptoms, not eliminating them. “It is important to remember that ADHD is a neurologically based disorder, and so improving behavior likely means learning to manage symptoms rather than removing the symptoms entirely,” explains Dr. Harlow.

He recommends a combination of medical and behavioral health interventions, including setting up the environment (classroom or home) to be predictable and organized for the child and to make consequences immediate and consistent.

Children’s Hospital & Medical Center offers free parent education sessions related to topics surrounding ADHD. For more information, visit ChildrensOmaha.org/BehavioralHealth.

Why Kids Need Sleep

Sleep is as necessary to your child’s overall health as proper nutrition and plenty of exercise. Sleep gives the body a chance to rest. It is a time in which the events we experience during waking hours are integrated into our memories, as well as a time for our bodies to make repairs from daily wear and tear.

Children who do not sleep well do not learn as well and have a higher rate of behavior problems. Additionally, they may experience more illness because their immune system is not as effective.

How Much Sleep Does Your Child Need?

So how much sleep is enough for your child? Well, it depends on your child. Some kids need more sleep than others. Boys Town Pediatrics recommends:

  • Kids 5-12 years of age get between 10 and 11 hours of sleep each night
  • Teens 13-14 years of age get between 8 and 9 hours of sleep each night
  • Teens 15 and older get around 8 hours of sleep each night

You will know when your child is not getting enough sleep if he or she is tired or cranky, has difficulty following directions, is unable to concentrate on school work, or is abnormally clumsy when participating in activities in which he or she normally excels.

Tips for Helping Your Child Sleep

The best way to help your child get enough sleep is to develop a regular sleep routine and a consistent schedule for bedtime and waking. Stick to this schedule during the week and on weekends.

Other ways to make sure your child gets the right amount of sleep include:

  • Spending 20-30 minutes before bedtime relaxing. Have your child take a warm bath or read during this time.
  • Not keeping a television in your child’s bedroom. Watching television before going to bed can make it harder to fall asleep.
  • Keeping caffeine to a minimum (i.e., soda, chocolate, coffee).
  • Monitoring your child’s television viewing. Scary or disturbing programs can interfere with his or her ability to fall asleep.
  • Not exercising before bedtime.
  • Designating your child’s bed a “sleep only” area. Reading, doing homework, playing games and talking on the phone should be done in a separate location.

When to Call a Doctor About Your Child’s Sleep Problems

If your child is having trouble sleeping, there may be an underlying cause. It is possible that a more serious condition is the cause for your child’s lack of sleep. Such problems include depression, substance abuse, or sleep apnea. If you suspect that your child is suffering from something more serious than simply not being able to go to sleep, schedule a visit with his or her physician.

Boys Town Pediatrics has offices in four locations throughout Omaha that offer weekday hours as well as extended evening and Saturday hours in some locations. Visit boystownpediatrics.org for a full physician directory where you can watch introduction videos and meet a pediatrician before you visit.