Are You Frantic with Frustration?

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                 How many times a week do you find yourself overwhelmed by stress? Take a moment to think about all of the frustrations in your life. You probably have bills, relationships, or work-related stressors. But what about your kids? How many of your frustrated moments have stemmed from interactions with your children? Here are some helpful tips to help you reduce your stress!

                    If things don’t go as we expect them to, we tend to feel frustrated. It can be extremely irritating when your hopes and needs fail to be met, but you also need to remember to ask yourself if those expectations were reasonable. For example, if you have trouble getting your preschooler out the door in the morning consider this: preschoolers need help, encouragement, and transition time with morning and evening routines. Making minor adjustments to your expectations as well as your schedule will help you avoid frustration!

                       There are few things more horrifying than when your child decides to start a food fight in the middle of a restaurant. Regardless of whether he or she misbehaves in public or private it can still be extremely frustrating.  Try to remember that there are four big reasons why children misbehave: to get attention, to get even, to feel in control, or because they are afraid. When you have a better understanding of why your children misbehave you can prevent it from happening. If your little one tends to act out while you’re shopping or preparing dinner, it’s most likely because they are seeking your attention. Try spending 10-15 minutes with them beforehand in order to calm them down. By reducing your child’s frustration you will surely reduce your own.

                              Be sure that you’re not contributing to the problem. Even though we would like to think that we can’t make the problem worse, we can. If your child seems to be breaking all of your rules, it’s probably because he or she feels over-controlled. Instead, try limiting the number of rules you have and offer choices to help guide their behavior. During childhood, children develop their own sense of authority. When you allow your child to make decisions for themselves it offers them the freedom they need while still allowing you to maintain important rules.

                             Believe it or not, the same things that trigger stress in your life can actually affect your child. Children are extremely intuitive and can feel tension within a household without it even being mentioned. If you are under stress, chances your child is as well, which may be one reason why he or she is acting out. By practicing simple stress management activities together such as deep breathing or relaxation, you can start relieving stress in your home.

                            Stress and frustration are an inevitable part of life but they should never overwhelm you or your child. By making simple changes to your schedule and the way you discipline your child as well as taking measures to prevent stress you can begin to release yourself from everyday frustration.

Storytime

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                 In all my life I have never met a child who doesn’t enjoy being read to.  I can still remember sitting on the green shag carpet in Mrs. Beirl’s classroom, listening as she read us our first chapter books. There’s certain kind of simple sweetness that comes with reading to children. Their eyes light up, their imagination takes hold, and for a short time they even manage to sit still and pay attention! Making children happy isn’t the only reason one should read to them, although it is a good one! Reading aloud to kids significantly enhances their social, emotional, and academic development. The earlier you begin reading to your child, the better. Here are some ways story time can help your child grow.

             Spending quality time with your child is key to forming a happy, healthy relationship with them. When one gets into the habit of reading to their children it becomes a routine.  As I’ve stated in earlier posts, routines help with establishing trust and stability. Reading to one’s child allows the both of them to slow down after a busy day and cuddle up with a book. Cuddling is a very nurturing activity that builds self-esteem as well as their sense of safety. And come on, who doesn’t love a good cuddle?

            Children strengthen their speech and hearing by listening to others read to them. Toddlers will even begin to mimic different word sounds or “pretend read” books, which is an important pre-literacy skill. Eventually they will even begin to sound out words on their own. Pretend reading also highlights the basics of books by teaching children the difference between words and images and that English is read from left to right

           I would like to clarify that pretend reading is not the same as pretending to read. As a child, I would carry around the book Jane Eyre in an effort to convince all of my classmates that I was smarter than them. So remember that there is a difference between toddlers sounding out nonsensical words and kindergarteners carrying around The Great Gatsby.  Pretend writing can also take place in the form of doodling and letter arrangement. My cousin’s kids love practicing pretend writing all over the walls of their bedrooms. I would caution parents with children in this stage to explain that there is a difference between walls and paper.

         By listening to stories and different experiences children are able to better grasp social dynamics. They begin to relate scenarios in books to events in their own lives. This will help them recognize cause and effect as well as utilize good judgment. When children are transitioning from one stage in their lives to another or experience stressful situations, sharing relevant stories can help put their worries at ease. Reading aloud to children increases their attention span and memory retention while strengthening their self-discipline.

         It’s true that reading to children is fun, easy, and a great way to bond, but it is also so much more than that. Children who are read to are better prepared for school and new experiences. So what are you waiting for? Pick up a book and read to your child today!

Committed to Communication

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The Father Factor is an eight week parenting course that builds off of The Art of Positive Parenting’s value system. Although every man brings a unique set of experiences to his role as a father, there are a multitude of shared struggles that single fathers face. The curriculum was originally designed to increase communication between fathers and their children but class facilitator, Glen A. Harris, is taking things a step further by teaching the importance of having healthy communication between fathers and the mothers of their children.

Co-parenting can be a rocky road and a lack of communication between parents only makes it harder to navigate. Fathers are typically only granted partial custody of their children meaning the majority of their time is spent with their mothers.  By being unable to hold a friendly conversation with mom, you are limiting the access you have to your child. If the two of you can’t talk without arguing then she is far less likely to share any updates or concerns she has about your child. A better relationship with the mother will create a better relationship with your child. The two of you don’t have to like to each other, but in order to give your child the support he or she needs, you have to communicate.

Establishing communication can be a slow process, so be patient! The first step is to practice effective listening techniques. Roadblocks are habitual responses that interfere with positive communication. Some examples are criticism, threats, labeling, blaming or comparing, and preaching. Other forms of roadblocks that may seem less damaging include offering a suggestion too quickly or diverting the speaker off of their issue and onto something else. As co-parents, both points of view should be honored, which requires listening to what the other parent has to say. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget that listening isn’t about waiting for our turn to talk but is instead about empathizing with a person and their situation in order to reach a point of understanding and compromise.

When speaking with the other parent do your best not to bicker or argue. Avoid hostility by using a calm tone and keep your cool even if the conversation isn’t going your way. Even if mom begins to get upset and yell, do not raise your voice. Remember that two wrongs don’t make a right and giving into anger will not get you anywhere. It only takes one person to reduce a power struggle! Although it may take time, the longer you go without giving in to hostility the closer you are to estabishing healthy communication. Set an example for how one parent should respond to the other.

Disagreements are going to happen within co-parenting relationships. To think that two people will share (all) the same views in regards to their child is unrealistic. So, be ready for disagreements because they will happen and when they do they should not be avoided. Never side-step an issue just because it may lead to confrontation. As long as you have the skills you need to handle a dispute with dignity and self-care it really shouldn’t become too big of an issue. When disagreements take place, however, you may feel an urge to become defensive. Defensiveness is another factor that blocks positive communication and prevents growth. Instead, practice listening and use descriptive messages such as “I don’t see it that way” or “I have a different opinion of what is best” to express how you feel.  Treat the co-parent as if you are in a business relationship and leave intense emotions out of the conversation.

Improving communication with your co-parent is key to having a successful relationship with your child. When the two of you fight, he or she is the one who suffers the most. When conflict arises remember that you and the other parent share the same goal, which is the ultimate well-being of your child. In order to fully respect your child, you must respect the other parent as well. If you are a father interested in maximizing your involvement in your children’s lives contact Glen Harris at 614-224-0222 and ask about The Father Factor. Co-parenting can be dramatic but it doesn’t have to be!

Mother Knows Best

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“Mother knows best” is a phrase I’ve heard all of my life. Although some may take it as a compliment on our collective intelligence as mothers, it may also be seen as another expectation that we must live up to. The fact of the matter is that mothers don’t always know best. We’re not endowed with some universal knowledge post-delivery. But this is often how we’re made to feel. I’ve spoken with countless mothers, including my own, who have admitted to feeling ashamed when they are unable to live up to the expectations set forth by our society. In this post I’m going to address some of the expectations that plague us as mothers, as well as share some helpful tips that I’ve pulled from our 8 week parent education course: Mothers Matter.

Mothers are undoubtedly the focal point of their children’s lives. Not only do we teach our children how to behave and interact with others, we teach them how to love as well. As mothers, we are fundamental to the positive growth and development of our children. It’s clear that mothers influence their children, but who or what influences mothers?

“This is your future,” My mother said as she pointed to herself. She sat in the recliner before me wearing her favorite velour jumpsuit, carefully stroking the cat that lay asleep in her lap. “Don’t try and fight it, Elizabeth. In the end we all become our mothers.” I shuttered a moment before realizing that she was probably right. Like most children, I modeled my behavior after my mother’s because she was the strongest female role model in my life. As a little girl I never played “house” and I absolutely refused to pick up a baby doll. Instead I would pull an end table up to our living room couch and talk into the television remote and play “business woman” because this is the behavior I was exposed to. It’s no secret that children will do as their parents have done. This is why it’s critical to set a good example for your children by being the person that you want them to become.

As with most things, the media has played a significant role in our expectations of mothers. From celebrities who shed their baby weight only weeks after giving birth to commercials that reinforce the concept of “supermom” there is mounting pressure for women to do it all. There is a major misconception swirling around that if we are unable to fit society’s idea of a perfect mother then we have somehow failed ourselves and our children. By comparing yourself as a mother to the unrealistic portrayals of women in the media you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Who you are as a mother should never be defined by how you measure up to society’s standards, but by how you influence and support your children.

Personal experiences can shape who we are and influence us as mothers. The way that we were treated as children ultimately affects who we become as adults in some way or another. For example, if you had an unstable home life growing up you may find that it’s difficult to provide stability for your child now. In my opinion, love is something that is learned. Just as in an environment that’s not conducive to learning can cause delays in young children, a home life that failed to provide support and affection can lead to emotional delays. Giving your child the love and affection he or she needs may be more difficult if you weren’t given what you needed as a child. Breaking a pattern like this may be difficult but with support and encouragement it can be done.

There will always be some kind of expectation from your family regardless of its dynamic. My mother is one of nine, so for her, there was always constant pressure to have more children. She chose to combat this issue by ignoring her family’s wishes all together. Of course, for many women that’s not so easy. Family expectations can be either supportive or burdensome and can vary depending on culture and economic status. As a mother it’s always best to listen to your own intuition and needs before addressing those of the people around you. Remember that there is a difference between support and coercion.

Parenting is no easy task but it becomes all the more difficult when we feel pressure from outside influences. When we struggle to live up to expectations that are not our own we ultimately lose sight of what’s really important: our relationship with our children. As mothers we must constantly remind ourselves that we don’t have to do it all and that it’s okay to ask for help when we need to. Societal expectations will try to define what a good mother should be when in reality parenting is much more subjective than that. Techniques that work for some mothers may not work for others because we are individuals and our parent-child relationships differ across the board. When great expectations have gotten the best of you, don’t forget that you are the mother and you define the relationship.

Adventures in Science!

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In 2010, in partnership with AEP, Action for Children created a science centered learning experience for young children. Adventures in Science guidebooks and learning kits were designed to encourage brain development by nurturing children’s natural curiosity through play. Tucked away in a modest blue backpack are a few books, various tools, and endless possibilities for growth. Once developed, these kits were distributed to nearly 1,200 low-income families throughout seven counties in Central Ohio including Franklin and Delaware County. With AEP’s support Action for Children managed to touch the lives of even the most disadvantaged youth.

As 2012 was coming to an end our team member, Laura Julian, was creating new beginnings for disadvantaged kids. Together, she and her husband, traveled through Indiana and Michigan to deliver science kits to six different centers. By the end of their journey they had given away over 2,200 backpacks to kids in need.

Incredibly, 85% of human brain development happens before the age of five. For children, the years before they start kindergarten are especially crucial. At this stage their potential for learning is higher than it will ever be. The United States is one of the lowest ranking developing countries in math and science. At AfC, we understand that if we can reach a child at such an important point in their development and establish a foundational interest in science and math, we can make a real difference. The facts about early learning are clear. There is a need out there and these simple, yet intelligently designed backpacks fill that need.

Earlier this week my associates and I moved around 200 backpacks from our storage space to our home office. By the time the unpacking, loading, and unloading was finally finished I would have been happy never seeing a blue backpack again.  Of course when I was asked to write a piece on these science kits I knew I would have to get to know them more personally. I dragged my feet, sluggishly, down the steps, grabbed a backpack, and then returned to my office. Upon opening it I quickly realized just how full these kits really were. They are filled to the brim with tools and activities for infants, toddlers, and preschool age children. The detail and care that went into choosing each item and book is incredible! So I unpacked the kit and began to play.

I played for a lot longer than I had expected. Work began piling up on my desk and if it weren’t for HootSuite, Facebook would have never been updated. In the midst of playing with magnets and puzzles I realized something. These kits are appealing to both children and adults. Not only are kids being given an opportunity to learn and explore their curiosities but these activities allow parents to bond with their children. Although originally targeted towards low-income families, I can see now that this is something that every child could truly benefit from. Low test scores in science and math are a problem for our entire country, regardless of where you live or where you go to school. Presenting children with activities which encourage wonder and connection in a way that is supported by parent involvement is an absolute recipe for success.

For 2013 we would like to have the ability to distribute even more backpacks to children. If, however, we do not have the means to produce more backpacks than hopefully we can at least perpetuate the idea behind them. Simple concepts like counting, identifying colors and shapes, and even teaching your child how to use measuring cups and then asking for their help in the kitchen are great ways to get them started. Most people who don’t enjoy science and math don’t because they never learned how to. A love for calculating and a wonder of the world doesn’t flourish often because it wasn’t ever given the chance. As parents, become your child’s greatest teacher. Offer support to their growth and development by providing opportunities to learn. Children are our greatest resource and the future depends on their ability to live their potential.

Routines for Resolutions

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2013 has officially arrived and it’s time to give your New Year’s Resolution some thought! Typically the month of January is dedicated to working off holiday weight. For three to four weeks gym parking lots will be filled cars. However, when February 1st rolls around treadmills will be abandoned. Instead, why not make a resolution that will actually last! Make 2013 the year to bond with your kids. Spending quality time with your children is the best thing a parent can do. A great way to accomplish this goal is to establish routines together. Routines provide children with stability and act as anchor points for their days and weeks. Here are five simple ways to introduce routines to your new year!

First Thing’s First:

Start simple. Take a moment to think about which routines you already have and what’s most important to you and your child. Pick one thing and focus on it. It’s important that you remain realistic about what you introduce to your schedule by expanding on the routines you already have. For instance, if your child has difficulty cooperating with bedtime, begin a nightly story time or pajama game that will get him or her ready for bed.

Flexibility Counts:

Do not be afraid to make changes if things aren’t working. Make sure to adjust routines to your schedules by taking into account what has already been planned for that day. Children grow and change quite rapidly. What your child liked one day may not be enjoyable the next. Be open to change and remember that what’s truly important is that you’re spending time together.

Downtime is another important thing to consider. Avoid bogging you and your child down with too many planned activities! School is to children what work is to us and just as we need time to relax children do as well.

Take Baby Steps:

 Don’t overwhelm yourself with the details. Let the extra steps fall away and focus on the basics! For example, let’s say you’ve decided to prepare dinner for your family every night. Avoid serving elaborate dishes that are costly and time consuming. Instead try recipes that are easy enough for your kids to help with but are still delicious! You might find that between work and other obligations preparing dinner every night is too much. Start small by beginning with two nights a week and work your way up! There’s nothing wrong with frozen dinners as long as they’re eaten together as a family.

Remember, Your Family is Unique:

Your family has its own unique rhythm so it’s best to begin routines that are relevant to your life. What is right for your family may not be right for another and vice versa. I would also advice against spending too much time on crafting blogs and cites such as Pinterest. I recently read an article by a woman who claimed that Pinterest made her feel inadequate as a mother because she didn’t have time to constantly bake cupcakes or sew her children’s Halloween costumes. I was an M&M for Halloween three years running. I promise you, I still love my mother just the same. Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses because you will undoubtedly set yourself up to fail.

Stay Organized:

Planning ahead ensures that you will actually accomplish your goal. If you are planning a craft day with your kids, decide what you are making and purchase all necessary items ahead of time. This leads to spending more quality time with your kids and less time running around a crowded craft store. Making sure that routines are carried out is half of the routine itself. Telling your children you’re going to do something and actually sticking to it builds a foundation of trust. Being organized and staying one step ahead of the game is the best way to do it!

As I’ve previously stated, each family is unique and it’s important to base routines off of what works for all of you. We are living in a fast paced society which means that more than ever it’s important to get into the habit of spending quality time with your kids. Routines, however trivial they may seem, builds safety, consistency, and trust for your child. Start this year off right by doing something good for the ones who love you the most!

Top 5 Places for Family Fun Around Columbus

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The days after Christmas mark the end of the holiday season. The presents have been unwrapped, the cookies have been devoured, and you won’t see your in-laws again until after New Year’s. You survived, and for that you deserve a medal, or at least a firm pat on the back. As much as you want to climb in bed and slip into a deep turkey coma, you can’t.  Alas, school won’t resume for another week and your children are filled with an absurd amount of energy. Thanks in part to all of the fudge your mother sent you, they are headed towards a serious sugar crash and it’s important to keep them busy before they turn on each other. So grab your car keys, wrestle the little ones into their coats, and get ready for a family outing because I have the top 5 places for family fun around Columbus!

5.     The Chiller Ice Rinks

It’s winter in Ohio, so chances are we will not have the luxury of enjoying outdoor skating. Luckily, The Chiller has public ice rinks conveniently located in Lewis Center, Dublin, and at Easton Town Center. Rinks are open seven days a week and no reservations are required! Skating is a wonderful winter activity that is fun for the whole family! Not only is skating great exercise but it also strengthens your children’s gross motor skills.

Even if you have never been on the ice, there is no shame in the hugging the wall and allowing even the tiniest of tots to skate passed you. Free Wi-Fi is also available. However, we do recommend that you put down your smart phone and watch your children. Pricing varies daily and can be found on their website at http://www.thechiller.com/

4.     Skate Zone 71

Previously United Skates of America, Skate Zone 71 offers roller skating, arcade games, and laser tag!  Children are less likely to participate in unstructured outdoor play during the winter months which is why it’s so important to make sure they remain active. Between dodging enemy fire during laser tag and skating to their favorite music you can be sure that your children will be up and moving!

Skate Zone 71 provides an interactive environment the whole family can enjoy. Convenient hours and affordable admissions give you a chance to concentrate on spending quality time with your children. At Skate Zone 71 you can leave stress behind and focus on fun! More information is located on their website at http://www.skatezone71.com

3.   Bowling Alleys

When in doubt, go bowling! Regardless of where you live there is bound to be a bowling alley nearby. Bowling provides a quieter, more relaxed setting which allows you more talk time with your children. It’s always important to emphasize communication, especially during their school age years. Bowling offers an opportunity to sit down and engage your children while still allowing them to be active.

Special discounts and events vary based on bowling alleys but more are very affordable. Food and drinks are usually available for purchase, so make a day out of it! Bonding with your children over some friendly competition is a great way to spend a cloudy winter day.

2.    Sky Zone

Although their website eludes that they are a trampoline park, Sky Zone more closely resembles a trampoline world. Angled trampolines from floor to ceiling allow your children to actually bounce off the walls. Pricing is determined by the number of minutes your child spends jumping. Jump times begin at 30 minutes. Can you imagine 30 straight minutes of jumping? Your children will be so exhausted after this outing they won’t even have the energy to fight with each other!

Not only will taking your kids to an indoor trampoline park ensure your status as the “coolest parent ever” it will undoubtedly let your kids release all the energy they’ve acquired over winter break. Located in Lewis Center, Sky Zone is also a great place to hold birthday parties! Pricing and hours of operation can be found on their website at http://columbus.skyzonesports.com

1.     COSI: Center of Science and Industry

COSI offers tons of great learning opportunities for school age children. As a parent, it is critical to help your children develop a love for math and science because they are fundamental to the world we live in. An outing to COSI can encourage your kids to associate science and math with fun which can open doors for them later on in school.

Admission to COSI can be fairly expensive. Fortunately, the last Friday of every month is Family Fun Night. After 5:00pm families are granted admission for only $9.95 per adult and youth ticket. This is a great deal that I would encourage all parents to take advantage of! Scheduled exhibits and events can be found on their website at http://www.cosi.org

Although the holiday season can be time consuming and stressful, it’s important to take advantage your children’s winter break. Seasonal breaks are a great time to bond with your children and connect with them more deeply. Planning time with your kids will mean the world to them. Strengthen your parent-child bond and have fun doing it by treating the family to a day out!

All They Really Need to Know, They Learn Before Kindergarten

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Columbus Kids began providing early learning checkups to children between the ages of two and a half to four years in January of 2010. This United Way lead initiative started with thirty-five community partners and has since acquired over one hundred more. Learning checkups are designed to catch early learning delays in young children so that they will be up to speed by the time they reach kindergarten. If delays are dealt with early on then they are usually reversible, if not they will often follow a child throughout his or her school age years. According to Columbus Public Schools’ research, 40% of preschoolers entering their system require some kind of learning intervention before they begin kindergarten. This program is the first of its kind in the nation and is dedicated to promoting early learning and kindergarten readiness in order to give children the best start possible.

Initially learning checkups are facilitated by Wellness Coordinators. These dedicated men and women will work one on one with families to provide resources and referrals to help young children sharpen their skills and increase their abilities. Learning checkups involve asking children a short series of questions which help determine which areas he or she may be lagging. It takes about fifteen minutes – making it both fast and easy! For every child who completes a learning checkup receives a book and a Kroger gift card worth twenty dollars.

Facilitators look at five key areas to assess your child’s readiness for kindergarten. These areas include social-emotional development, problem solving, communication, and both large motor skills and fine motor skills. As reported by Lindsay Gudesen, a former Wellness Coordinator, the biggest problem area for kids in central Ohio lies within their fine motor skills. For those who may not know, your fine motor skills have to do with the development of small muscles in your hands. It turns out that all that time you spent discouraging your young children from playing with small objects may have actually done more harm than good. Now, I understand advising children against playing with easy-to-swallow toys. I’m sure that I swallowed tons of Polly Pockets and Barbie shoes as a kid! Unfortunately children are unable to develop proper fine motor skills without exposure to these kinds of objects. Feel free to allow children to play with smaller toys, markers, and even safety scissors as long as they are properly supervised.

Assessing these five areas can often uncover more than just minor delays. Checking your child’s large motor skills can tell you if your child’s physical body is developing properly. If your child’s communication is delayed it may mean that the real problem lies in their hearing. Finally, social-emotional development assessments can help us determine if a child is struggling with autism.

Children experience learning delays for a number of different reasons. If your child falls behind in certain areas it usually has nothing to do with your abilities as a parent or caregiver and it most certainly doesn’t mean that your child is “slow”. Let me use myself as an example, I am a perfectly intelligent college educated woman but I still can’t cut paper to save my life. Needless to say this delay set me up for a series of scrapbooking disasters and failing grades in home economic courses all throughout high school. So save your child from the embarrassment of being shamed away from craft projects and consider signing them up for a learning checkup! The most important thing to realize is that if your child is experiencing a delay then it is extremely important that they get up to speed as quickly as possible.

From two and a half to four years old children’s brains are absorbing information like a sponge. It is so important to take advantage of this stage in their development so that they are ready for the years of learning that are ahead of them. Columbus Kids and their over 150 + partners are empowering children by providing them with a foundation to grow from. Spread the word about the importance of early learning and enroll your child with Columbus Kids today!

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

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Two weeks ago I was looking after my cousin’s 19-month-old daughter. Before she left for the day we were both sitting on her couch catching up. Mara, her daughter, crawled along the back of the couch until she had situated herself behind me. I hadn’t even noticed she was there until I felt tiny teeth press into my back. “Ouch!” Alarmed, I jumped up and looked back at her. Mara sat there staring at me or into my soul, really. Wide eyed and amazed she began to squeal and clap. I wasn’t sure which was worse, that she bit me or that she clearly enjoyed it. Embarrassed my cousin ran to assist me, “Oh no! I’m so sorry she’s been biting like crazy lately!”

Mara began to bite frequently a few weeks prior to my visit. According to my cousin this was the reason she had asked me to care for her as opposed to her usual babysitter. “Linda’s much better with Mara than you are but I know you won’t judge me because you’re family.” After choosing to ignore the comment, that stung worse than baby teeth, I advised her that neither she nor her child care provider were at fault for Mara’s biting. Biting is a completely natural part of infant and toddler development. While this may provide little comfort for the parents of biters or their victims the best way to handle biting is to understand why children bite and how to prevent it.

Either in a home or in a center, biting happens. Regardless of whether your child is the biter or the bitten there is always valid cause for concern. Biting is unlike hitting or kicking because it is not usually intended to be a violent act. Infants and toddlers use biting as a form of communication because they don’t have the ability to properly express themselves.  Incredibly, there is a certain type of bite for each of the three developmental stages infants and toddlers experience.

  • Exploratory: Early – 15 months
  • Action/Reaction: 9 – 20 months
  • Purposeful: 18 months and up

When infants bite it’s actually called “mouthing”. They are in the exploratory stage and they are using their oral senses to understand the world around them. For children who are teething, applying pressure to the gums is comforting. Children at this stage will often use anything within reach so it’s a good idea to make teething rings easily accessible.  If you don’t have teething rings, having a washcloth for your child to bite is an easy solution.

Children in the action/reaction stage bite to make an impact. Often a child bites simply because they are seeking a reaction. Biting can also happen when children in this stage are excited or overstimulated. A child who bites when he is very excited will require assistance to help him calm down so that biting can be prevented.

Purposeful biting happens when children are frustrated or seeking attention. A child’s environment comes into play in all stages—but especially in this one. Small spaces within a child care center present opportunities for children to get stuck in them or blocked in by another child. This kind of situation usually results in biting. Too many obstacles in a child’s path or not having enough toys are also examples of frustrated biting. Rather than attempting to understand their environment, as in the two previous stages, children who demonstrate purposeful biting want their caregivers and the children they bite to understand their needs. Children at this age do not have the ability to properly communicate so they are using biting to get what they want.

In any case, be sure to determine why your child is biting because this will help you prevent it from reoccurring. If your child’s environment is causing frustration then change it around so that there is more open space. Consider changing routines and activities if you have to. If children are biting because they are teething, be prepared with objects that it’s okay for them to bite on. Recognizing which triggers cause your child to bite will help you better understand your child’s needs while allowing you to stop the situation before it happens.

The truth is biting hurts and it’s unsanitary. Though it may be a normal part of infant toddler development it is still a problem that must be prevented. The way you choose to handle a biting incident is extremely important. How you deal with biting will impact a child more than being a biter. When a child bites use words like, “Ouch” and simply say, “biting hurts”. Make sure to avoid having a dramatic negative reaction. Dramatic reactions provide the child with the attention they want and reaffirm that biting works. Instead remove the child from the vicinity without emotion. Focus on caring for the child who was bitten and do not allow the child who bit to return to play until after you’ve communicated with him on a level that he can understand. If your biter is frustrated calmly let him know that you understand his frustration but that he “can’t bite because biting is not okay”. If they can, encourage them to use their words when they feel like biting. Reassure them by saying “I will help you not to bite”. When a child is seeking attention through biting calmly turn your back to him while you assist the child who was bitten.

Children who bite have needs they are trying to meet and it is our duty as parents to help them meet these needs or develop ways that they can meet them for themselves. We need to be empathetic towards both the biter and the bitten while still being stern and holding the biter accountable. Even though the emergence of Twilight has made being a vampire tragically acceptable, biting won’t help you get what you want. I would never lean over in a meeting and bite my boss in order to get rest of the staff’s attention because let’s face it, that is not socially acceptable. Although most children grow out of biting on their own we, as parents, must condition our children to behave in ways that meet our society’s ways of being.

Child Care is Just a Phone Call Away!

My first babysitter was an old woman who lived two streets over from the house I grew up in. I am intentionally choosing to use the word “babysitter” and not “caregiver” because she did in fact sit on me once. Accidentally of course, before she realized where I was, but it happened nonetheless. Her home was cluttered with old magazines and clothing from past decades and her couches were itchy and smelled like stale smoke. Even at the age of four I believed that she was a witch. She had long yellowing nails and a sharp cackle in her laugh. She was also the only woman I knew who still swept her floors with a broom. It was the latter half of the twentieth century and there was no excuse for her not to have a vacuum.

In the afternoons we would eat our lunch on unwashed T.V. trays. Some kind of mysterious casserole would be served, usually half cold and partially liquefied. Instead of playing I’d be forced to sit through an hour of One Life to Live because the old woman couldn’t wait to see what “That little tart Blair” was up to. It may come as no surprise that my mother eventually discontinued her services. Out of resources and unable to find a part-time position, she was forced to quit her job so that she could stay home with me. Unfortunately, my mother wasn’t familiar with Action for Children. If she had been then maybe today I would be able to enjoy casserole without feeling an eerie shudder rush down my spine after taking a bite and she could have kept her job.

There are many things to consider when looking for child care. There are child care centers and individuals who offer care within their own homes, known as family child care providers (FCC). Centers can offer more activities for children as well as more stability for parents. Usually centers are equipped with substitute caregivers making it less likely that they will be unable to watch your child because they are ill or have an emergency.  However, centers cater to a larger group size whereas FCC providers care for fewer children at one time. Type A providers are licensed by the state and can handle up to twelve children but must have a second staff member assisting them after six. There are only three Type A’s in Franklin county. Type B providers are unlicensed but are certified or registered through the county. Type B’s are only allowed to care for six children with a maximum of three under the age of two. FCC provides more flexibility to parents who have non-traditional schedules because these providers are able to choose their own hours.

If you are looking for childcare and are unsure where to begin, consider making us your first step! We have referral specialists on staff who are ready to work with you one on one to accommodate your needs. We understand that many parents have unique work schedules with hours extending past five o’clock or even into the weekends. Finding reliable child care that fits into your life as well as your budget is no easy task. Here at Action for Children we have the resources to help you.

When seeking child care through Action for Children there are two options to consider. Those needing assistance can call our office and ask to speak with a referral specialist or simply email them directly at childcareresources@actionforchildren.org. If you choose to email us please include your personal information along with the child’s name, birthdate or age, days and hours of needed care, and the type of care you are interested in. These four basic questions guide our search enabling us to find services that meet your needs. If you make the decision to call, a referral specialist will advise you over the phone before emailing you a list of possible choices for child care. Action for Children does not make recommendations based on the quality of care in homes or centers. This free service generates child care referrals based on your needs.

For over forty years Action for Children has pushed for quality care for children. Our staff consists of educated men and women who are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of young children and families in their community. No child should be forced to watch soap operas during the day or be shoved outside in the cold to “play” with nothing in the backyard but deflated rubber balls and broken dreams! Parents should be allotted the peace of mind they need while working. These are small dreams but they make a big difference! Whether you are looking for care in a home or in a center Action for Children is ready with resources to help you find what you need.

For more information or to speak with one of our referral specialists please call: 614-224-0222