Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Friday, April 10, 2020
The Marriage During Quarantine Edition
Fatherhood, Co-Parenting and Child Support information. Get a better of understanding of your rights as a parent before you go to court. We will also give you information on how to be a better father and co-parent with the mother. Our goal is to increase father's involvement in the family structure.
Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Friday, April 10, 2020
The Marriage During Quarantine Edition
Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Tuesday, January 28, 2020
1. Time and tolerance.
The most important thing you can do is simply spend time with your newborn. Serious research about fatherhood is only a scant 30 years old, and what we know is that the more time fathers spend with their infants the better. Researchers in the early years of father-infant bonding couldn’t find fathers spending enough time with their infants to study them. In other words, dads weren’t spending an adequate amount of time with their baby to even start measuring the impact. What we know now is that the time you can just be with your infant is valuable.
Along with time, you will need to have some tolerance for you and your new creation to get to know one another. This is your first time being a father and your son or daughter’s first time being a human being. Be kind and gentle with yourselves. Allow for some learning, experimentation and mutual tolerance. Give yourself time to learn and grow into the role.
2. Eye contact.
We have known for a long time that infants are drawn to the human face, but with computer-enhanced research we were able to realize what they look at: the eyes. Babies have a preference for the human face in general, and eye contact in particular. The one thing to remember about this is that they can only see clearly about a foot in front of them, so remember to smile, stay close, and look ‘em in the eye.
3. Repetitive sounds.
Particularly something called the bilabials; Pa-pa, Ma-ma, Ba-ba are the first and most common sounds infants can make. They are simple because the two lips are pressed together with a puff of air pushed through them. That is why most first utterances around the globe for mother, father and bottle use these sounds. They are easy to make and the infant can get some quick language control and feedback from their environment in this way. (Trust me, the first time your little one says Pa-Pa to you will be a peak experience.) To strengthen the connection, when you hear them making the sound, make it back. Eventually the two of you can start your own bilabial chorus.
4. Infants are fans of motion.
They love it and crave it, and need it. They love to be held, jostled, bounced and jiggled. There is good reason for this. Movement helps infants develop everything from their brains to their sense of balance. When you hold your baby, give them a feeling of security, but not too tight or too loose. Don’t be afraid to hold and sway and bounce and cuddle. Learn what he or she likes and cultivate that motion. You want to be the one with that magic touch when baby needs a motion magician.
5. Change that diaper!
Researchers early on found out that the fathers who helped diapering their baby had stronger, better, and more long-lasting marriages. So if you want to score points with mom and with your baby — learn the art of diapering and treat it as a shared duty with mom. If you don’t want the feces to hit the oscillator in your relationship, learn to deal with it at the source.
6. Make a play date with baby.
Maybe Tuesday is girls night out, or you don’t start work until noon on Thursday, but whatever the schedule can permit, have planned time to be the one and only caregiver for your baby. One-on-one bonding is important. When mom is in the room there is typically a preference by the infant for her to be the one in charge. Take time to figure out what your relationship is with your newborn — just the two of you. This is important. You need to be able to manage this baby thing solo, and there is no other way to get this experience.
The above point having been said, you also need to realize you are part of a team. You and mom are a tag-team. This may be a different set of skills than when you are one-on-one. As an example, when mom was out and I was joyfully bottlefeeding my daughter with breast milk we had pumped for her, everything was wonderful. But the moment mom came home from her classes, my daughter wasn’t in the mood for Mr. second-best. She could hear and, through the magic of pheromones, smell mom and wanted to be with her. This was the transition time. Recognize that the three of you function like a mobile hanging from the ceiling and are in balance with one another. As the infant’s needs change, the balance of mom and dad will need to change along with it.
8. Keep your promises.
As your child grows and as you develop as a family, remember that dads have to be absolutely certain to do one thing: keep their promises. If you promise your spouse you are going to be home at 6:30 p.m., make that the priority in your life that day. As your child grows, these promises to him or her become the backbone of your relationship. Deliver on what you promise and the ease and security of the relationship will evolve. Renege on these consistently and an insecure bonding, something you definitely do not want, can happen. I encourage parents I work with to only make commitments and promises they can keep. I’d rather them keep one promise than make three and only keep two.
Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Friday, January 24, 2020
Fathers parent differently.
Fathering expert Dr. Kyle Pruett explains that fathers have a distinct style of communication and interaction with children. By eight weeks of age, infants can tell the difference between their mother’s and father’s interaction with them. This diversity, in itself, provides children with a broader, richer experience of contrasting relational interactions. Whether they realize it or not, children are learning, by sheer experience, that men and women are different and have different ways of dealing with life, other adults and children. This understanding is critical for their development.
Fathers play differently.
Fathers tickle more, they wrestle, and they throw their children in the air (while mother says . . . “Not so high!”). Fathers chase their children, sometimes as playful, scary “monsters.” Fathering expert John Snarey explains that children who roughhouse with their fathers learn that biting, kicking and other forms of physical violence are not acceptable.John Snarey, How Fathers Care for the Next Generation: A Four Decade Study (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993), p. 35-36. They learn self-control by being told when “enough is enough” and when to settle down. Girls and boys both learn a healthy balance between timidity and aggression.
Fathers build confidence.
Go to any playground and listen to the parents. Who is encouraging kids to swing or climb just a little higher, ride their bike just a little faster, throw just a little harder? Who is encouraging kids to be careful? Mothers protect and dads encourage kids to push the limits. Either of these parenting styles by themselves can be unhealthy. One can tend toward encouraging risk without consideration of consequences. The other tends to avoid risk, which can fail to build independence and confidence. Together, they help children remain safe while expanding their experiences and increasing their confidence.
Fathers communicate differently.
A major study showed that when speaking to children, mothers and fathers are different. Mothers will simplify their words and speak on the child’s level. Men are not as inclined to modify their language for the child. The mother’s way facilitates immediate communication; the father’s way challenges the child to expand her vocabulary and linguistic skills — an important building block of academic success.
Fathers discipline differently.
Educational psychologist Carol Gilligan tells us that fathers stress justice, fairness and duty (based on rules), while mothers stress sympathy, care and help (based on relationships). Fathers tend to observe and enforce rules systematically and sternly, teaching children the consequences of right and wrong. Mothers tend toward grace and sympathy, providing a sense of hopefulness. Again, either of these disciplinary approaches by themselves is not good, but together, they create a healthy, proper balance.
Fathers prepare children for the real world.
Involved dads help children see that attitudes and behaviors have consequences. For instance, fathers are more likely than mothers to tell their children that if they are not nice to others, kids will not want to play with them. Or, if they don’t do well in school, they will not get into a good college or secure a desirable job. Fathers help children prepare for the reality and harshness of the world.
Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Dads, you’re not alone if you’re feeling out of bounds with your newborn. I know life with a new baby can be overwhelming, particularly for new dads. This Father’s Day, I want to emphasize the importance of daddy-baby bonding with your newborn. Daddy-baby bonding is a topic that is not discussed enough but needs to be addressed. Did you know father-infant bonding is just as important as a mother-infant bonding during the immediate postpartum period? It is vitally important for a father to interact and bond with his newborn to help the infant’s development and to reduce the risk of paternal postpartum depression. That’s correct. Postpartum depression is not exclusive to new moms. Delayed bonding over the course of the first couple of months can increase the risk of paternal postpartum depression.
According to a new study published in Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing (JOGNN), from the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), when fathers delay bonding with their newborns, they risk altering the long-term course of paternal involvement as the infant progresses throughout childhood and adolescence. In addition, fathers “reported that they didn’t start to experience fatherhood until birth” while, mothers reported that they started to experience motherhood as soon they received news that they were pregnant. This difference influences the amount of time it takes for a mother and a father to feel a loving connection and bond with their newborn. Most fathers enter parenthood expecting an immediate emotional bond with their newborns, but many reports that forming that bond takes time.
Moms can help by encouraging dad’s involvement with their newborn. As a mom, I know that we have a ‘take charge” approach with our infants but this attitude can have negative effects on dads. Fathers have reported delayed onset of feeling bonded with their infants for as long as 6 weeks to 2 months after birth. In an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the authors reviewed 43 studies on depression in new fathers. They found that prenatal and postpartum depression was evident in about 10% of men in their studies and was relatively higher in the 3- to 6-month postpartum period. We can help fathers reduce the risk of paternal postpartum depression by getting them more involved with their newborns from the time of birth.
Successful father-infant bonding during the immediate postpartum period has been shown to have several benefits for the infant: it reduces cognitive delay, promotes weight gain in preterm infants, and improves breastfeeding rates. Dads can start to bond with their newborns by practicing these tips found in AWHONN’s magazine Healthy Mom&Baby:
● Jump right in. Don’t be afraid to begin immediately caring for and loving your baby. The more you hold your baby, the more comfortable and natural it will feel
● Take a night shift. Once mom is breastfeeding well, she may want to let you give the baby a nighttime meal. This way she can get more sleep and you will have the opportunity to bond with your newborn
● Read your newborn a book. Your newborn will enjoy the rhythm and pace of your voice while you read a book. In the early months, it’s not about what you’re reading; it’s about reading itself
● Initiate the bath. Bathing your newborn will enhance bonding and provide a multi-sensory learning experience.
● Create a bedtime ritual. Infants will learn to depend on the consistency and predictability of a nighttime routine.
Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Helping our children to develop healthy eating, exercise and screen-time behaviours is an important public health goal globally.
This is because behaviours established early in life often track into adulthood. And these behaviours have a big impact on a person’s risk for chronic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
However, many Canadian children are not establishing healthy habits early in their lives. National data suggests that 70 per cent of four- to eight-year-old children do not consume the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables and close to 80 per cent of three- to four-year-olds exceed screen time recommendations
Because children’s health behaviours emerge early in life and in the context of their family, engaging parents in health promotion is critical.
Fathers are largely missing from this picture. A 2017 review of family-based health interventions found that fathers made up only six per cent of all parent participants.
It matters how Dad eats and moves
Emerging research suggests that fathers are critical stakeholders in the development of children’s health behaviours.
International research studies have found associations between fathers’ eating and activity behaviours and those of their children, suggesting the important influence of fathers’ role modelling.
Research with families in the Guelph Family Health Study found that modelling by fathers, but not mothers, of healthy food intake was associated with a healthier diet among their children, which points to the unique role of fathers.
Given the important role fathers play in the development of their children’s health behaviours, it is important to include them in health-promotion interventions.
Research supports involving both parents to maximize impact. One review of parenting studies found that programs including both mothers and fathers resulted in better child outcomes than those programs with only mothers.
Healthy eating is not ‘women’s work’
Despite men’s increasing involvement, women remain responsible for the majority of house and family work in Canada. On average, Canadian women spend one hour more each day than men on unpaid household work, including caring for children and meal preparation.
By including only mothers in our health-promotion efforts, we may inadvertently reinforce these inequitable gender norms and practices — for example, the notion that providing healthful foods is “women’s work.”
It could also result in less effective family-based interventions, as families may be less likely to implement and sustain behaviour changes that reinforce these inequalities
Fathers matter to health research too
It is important to engage fathers in family-based research, so that public heath interventions are informed by those with lived experience of fathering.
We recently hosted a conference that brought together international experts, students, health professionals and community stakeholders — to identify effective strategies to engage fathers in family-based health and obesity-related research.
The recommendations include targeting recruitment specifically at fathers. Research has shown that fathers are interested in participating in child health research, but report that they often don’t participate because they do not feel like they have been asked. Researchers need to use the words “father” or “dad” rather than non-specific words such as “families” or “parents” when recruiting for child health studies.
It is also important for researchers and public health professionals to honor the diversity among fathers and families, incorporating differing cultural traditions and recognizing that fatherhood varies along with ages, ethnicity, location, sexual orientation, country of origin and socioeconomic, marital and custodial status.
Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Tuesday, October 08, 2019
Posted by Ave Mulhern from National Fatherhood Initiative
At a recent conference on Maternal Health and Infant Mortality, a new concept was presented—a good concept I might add—as it asked health care providers to ask women of child bearing age about their plans to become pregnant in the future. For example, at an annual well woman visit, the provider would ask if in the upcoming year the woman is planning a pregnancy. If the answer was no and the woman did not plan a pregnancy in the near future, the health care provider might discuss various birth control options and also go over some steps to prepare for a healthy pregnancy if in her future plans.
If the answer was yes, the provider would proactively discuss a series of 11 topics and make suggestions that would help the woman have a healthier pregnancy and ultimately deliver a healthy child. That, of course would be the goal. It is a good and proactive step in increasing the health of both the mother and the child. But there was something in particular that captured my attention about this list.
Here are the 11 topics the provider would go over with the woman and in this order:
What captured my attention was that the healthy relationship question was 8th in the order of the 11 questions. Based on what we know about the importance of father involvement, the first question to ask after determining pregnancy intention should be the healthy relationship question. What is the relationship with the father or potential father? Is the woman in a committed, healthy, preferably a married relationship with father or father-to-be? Statistically, children do better overall in that kind of setting so why would we rank that question as less important than maintaining a healthy weight?
With all the data we have on hand around the importance of father involvement to children, it’s critical to educate women on the value and importance that the relationship with the father can bring to her and the child, with an emphasis on a healthy relationship!
A recent article from the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ), Fathers: Powerful Allies for Maternal and Child Health shares good information and research on the impact, the positive impact fathers have on maternal and child health. It states, “Maternal and child health programs and professionals have become increasingly more cognizant of how fathers, specifically, affect their children’s health and development,”… “Moving this conversation forward, and highlighting strategies that support father engagement and involvement, is a critical opportunity to improve children’s health outcomes in the decades to come.”
The article discusses some of the significant barriers that fathers still face and provides links to some creative partnerships to help promote father engagement. As we learned from the research, fathers may not be aware of the impact they have on their child, and for those that do know their importance, they still may face societal and institutional barriers, or even barriers from the mom.
The article continues that we need to empower fathers as advocates for their children’s health: “I think many fathers know they’re important and their presence matters,” says Berns. NICHQ President and CEO, “But we should do more to impress upon them just how big of a difference they make—not that they are just a supportive addition but that their actions and attitudes really will affect the lifelong health of their children. Intentionally talking to fathers about their impact and what they can do at every stage of their children’s lives will empower them as champions for children’s health and well-being.”
Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Thursday, September 05, 2019
By Lizzy Francis Updated May 03 2019, 1:40 PM
Parents, understandably, don’t want to raise pushovers or kids who avoid confrontation. Kids who don’t know how to stand up for themselves grow up into kids who constantly apologize or don’t know who they are. So how can a parent help their kid be self-assured, strong physically and mentally, and have a strong sense of self? Well, it’s not as easy as teaching the ABC’s. But it can and must be done, says child psychologist Gene Beresin, who runs the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Kids need to tolerate emotional swings. From bad grades to successes, strength requires emotional control and balance of emotion,” he says. But parents can’t go too hard on the strength lesson. It’s important to teach kids strength without letting them err into problematic forms of aggression and selfishness.. It’s good to raise a kid that’s slow to back down. It’s bad to raise a kid who feels compelled to square off with peers or constantly compete. In a profoundly competitive culture, teaching a kid to weather confrontation but not seek it out is a difficult task. Here’s what parents who raise strong, self-assured kids do:
For the most part, the first brush kids will have with mortality will likely be when their family pet dies. While young kids might not understand the permanence of death or what it means to die, the experience of talking through it with kids is a fundamental part of teaching their kids inner strength and resiliency. Beresin says that parents who want to raise strong kids can and should be visibly sad over the situation, but not be debilitated by their grief. This teaching moment, in which parents should go through the grieving process with their kids, mourn their pet, and model emotional strength without withdrawing completely or being cold about it.
Being an adult often means doing a lot of shit that sucks. Shoveling snow, raking leaves, deep cleaning the fridge: these are all things that come with adulthood and being a parent. Parents who teach their kids strength tend to do these tasks both without constant complaint and without breaking their backs over it, says Beresin. That means that when they do the work, they take breaks, they go to bed the night before, they vocally prepare for the tasks, and, when they’re done, they say they are proud of themselves.
Parents who want to raise kids who know that what happens to them at work is often out of their control, and therefore have a strong sense of self, try to keep their cool in the face of seriously rocky work situations. Work stress gets to us all, eventually, and it’s important that parents feel they can complain to their spouse about their job at home. But what parents need to remember is that their kids are often listening. So parents who stay level-headed, talk through what’s bothering them, and come up with a meaningful plan of action while also talking about their strengths as an employee and a person. Teaching kids to be honest and thoughtful about their situations in work and life will help them be self-reflective, and know who they are. Parents who do this raise strong kids.
Strong kids are strong kids mentally and physically, and parents that have kids who promote their physical health engage in activities that promotes physical health themselves. Even after a long day of activities, parents should make sure they still hit that 5-mile-run they talked about or go to the gym early, and they should also talk to their kids about it. While eight-year-olds don’t need to lift weights, getting out on the baseball diamond with them, playing catch, or racing them, is a great way to spend time with kids in a way that prioritizes their physical health.
Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Tuesday, September 03, 2019
By Lauren Vinopal Jul 25 2019, 2:25 PM
Chores are good for kids. Like, this-is-going-to-get-my-kid-into-Harvard good. Research shows that kids who do chores grow into happier, healthier, far more successful adults, and the sooner parents start them on them, the better off they are. But why? It seems to all boil down to acclimation. To succeed we all need to work and working hard takes some getting used to. Social scientists suspect that when children are expected to put their toys away, make their beds, or just wipe down the counter around at a young age, they get comfortable with these tasks long before they realize it’s work. When they grow up and inevitably have to accomplish these things, they’re less likely to rail against them. Instead, they get things done and are better off for it.
“The skills that kids learn early will last most of their lives. Chores teach kids skills that they will need to survive on their own and to get along with others,” psychologist Dr. Shane Owens tells Fatherly. “From an evolutionary perspective, chores teach kids how to take care of themselves and to be a cooperative, productive member of the tribe.” And yet in the age of Roombas and screen-based play there’s evidence that kids these days are doing fewer chores than ever before. Parents need to take matters into their own hands, make chores a priority, and follow this expert-back advice on how to get make the most out of chores.
Let’s face it, young kids don’t have a deep practical skill set (coloring within the lines doesn’t count). Completing small tasks around the house is a good place to start. Chores are one of the first opportunities for children to take on basic, low-stakes responsibilities so they can learn to do them right. Unfortunately, this means that giving children chores does not necessarily translate into less work for parents. It likely means more work, not just because kids may resist responsibilities at first, but they might be bad at them. Sure, if moms and dads want something done right, they can do it themselves and that might seem more efficient and easier in the moment. But if kids are going to ever make their bed instead of jumping on it, it’s worth the time and effort at the front-end. “Kids cannot learn to do that unless they are provided the opportunity and expected to do chores like cleaning up after themselves and helping with cooking, doing the dishes, and laundry,” Owens says.
“Kids who do chores learn to organize their time and to delay gratification. Both of those are vital skills for later success,” Owens explains. More specifically breaking bigger projects like cleaning the house into smaller, more manageable tasks like putting toys away, shows children how much time and effort certain tasks take. They also learn that sometimes they have to wait before they’re free to go play, which is a reward after getting the job done. In doing this, kids figure out something most people struggle with in adulthood — it takes a little time to improve their surroundings and make life a little easier, but the investment pays off. Want to really drive home the time and effort with a visual representation for your kid? That’s what chore charts are all about.
Twenty years of research from the University of Minnesota reveals that the single best predictor for future relationship success with family, friends, and romantic partners is doing chores at the age of 3 and 4 years old. However, for children who were not given chores until they were teenagers, the exact opposite was true — they tend to struggle in close relationships across the board. Scientists suspect that when it comes to chores, parents might want to start sooner than later. Owens says parents can start as young as 2 years old, before kids see helping mom and dad as an actual chore, so they are more eager to imitate what their parents do, even if it is as simple as sweeping.“A kid who learns early to do chores will be a more generous and cooperative partner,” he says. “It’s easier to live and work with a person who has learned to take care of his own stuff and to be responsible for some of the boring work that adult and family life requires.”
Along with childhood chores being the strongest predictor for relationship success, the same University of Minnesota study found that they are significantly correlated with academic and career success as well. Data also indicated that early chores were linked with higher IQs. This echoes the results of the longest-running longitudinal study in history, spanning 75 years, where Harvard scientists found that success largely depends on individual work ethic, which is correlated with participation in housework as children. To Owens, this connection isn’t surprising. “Chores teach kids important self-regulation skills — organization, discipline, and work ethic — and vital relationship skills like cooperation, teamwork, and respect for others. So kids who are expected to do them are more successful.”
Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Wednesday, July 31, 2019
By Julia Savacool Jun 03 2019, 5:50 PM
When kids’ regular routines suddenly change, sleep is usually the first thing to suffer. Different times zones, unfamiliar beds, the tantalizing opportunity to explore someplace new: It’s easy to see why sleep is not a priority. But it should be, since kids ages 4 to 7 are at a critical point in their development that requires nine to 13 hours of shut-eye a night to fully rest and recover for a new day of activity. Without enough sleep, your little ball of energy and enthusiasm will turn into a clingy, crabby, tantrum-prone monster. While nothing is a perfect substitute for the comfort of sleeping in their own bed, there are ways to help kids adapt their routines to whatever new situation arises. Here are some essential tips to help kids sleep soundly, even when they’re away from home.
This one is simple: If you’re traveling, pack your kid’s essentials in your carry-on. All the best preparation for sleep aids is useless if you stash them in luggage that was sent to Cincinnati while you’re spending the week in San Fran; you should know exactly where the sleep aids are at all times. When you need them, you should have them on hand.
Starting about a week before your trip, sit down with your child and describe some of the new things they will encounter during their summer travels. Describe the fun parts: Picking out a meal on the airplane, watching movies, meeting new people. Also talk about some of the other new experiences, like sleeping in a small space on a plane or in a hotel and waiting in line for just about everything. If your child struggles with bedwetting, talk about how you will ease his anxiety by using GoodNites®, NightTime Underwear and GoodNites® Bed Mats should problems arise.
You might not have to pack a crib anymore, but you may still find yourself doing some furniture rearranging if your child’s anxiety keeps them from being able to sleep. In hotel rooms with double beds, for example, drag their mattress on the floor over next to your bed to help them feel safer.
A Favorite Stuffy: Stuffed toys, technically called “attachment objects,” mark an important phase of your child’s development, one where they are learning to self-soothe at night when Mom or Dad’s not around. Snuggling close with Mr. Elephant in a strange new room reassures him that he can close his eyes and still be safe.
A Favorite Pillow: The familiar smell and feel of her pillow from home can help your child sleep better on the road or plane, as well as in her guest bed once you arrive.
A Nightlight: Unfamiliar rooms can be scary in the dark, not to mention the practical issues of finding the bathroom in the pitch-black in a new space. Pack one from home, or if you’re purchasing one for the first time, look for lights that have friendly animal-shaped covers and emit a warm glow.
GoodNites Nighttime Underwear: Bedwetting is one of the most common side-effects of having a routine disrupted. When it happens, kids feel confused and ashamed as they are well past potty training. With a smile and a hug, send them to bed wearing a pair of GoodNites® NightTime Underwear. It looks like their regular undies, but offers absorbency and odor-proofing in case an accident occurs.
Bedtime Books: Reading together is an evening ritual many dads share with their kids. Pack a few favorites from home that are familiar and well-loved. It’s fine to read from your tablet for convenience, but if your kid likes to follow along, skip the electronic devices as they emit a blue light that interferes with sleep signals.
Soothing Music: Before your child’s friends arrive for a sleepover, download a playlist of soft instrumental music, or a white-noise app that plays a steady stream of noise-blocking nothingness. Once the kids are in bed, hit play: The background sounds will help keep them from fixating on every whisper or sigh their friend makes.
A Fan: No wifi access? Borrow an old fan from the house you’re staying in and set it up on a windowsill near your child’s bed. The whirring of the blades helps drown out unfamiliar sounds of creaky floors or doors opening and closing, easing your child into dreamland.
GoodNites® Bed Mats: These absorbent pads are the perfect peace of mind if you’re worried about your child soiling a friend’s guest bed, or if your child is worried about having an accident when a friend sleeps over but is embarrassed to wear nighttime underwear.
A Kid-Friendly Clock: No kid wants the fun to end, but setting up an easy-to-read digital clock allows you to stick to a bedtime schedule. You can either put tape over the minute numbers, or simply say that when the first number on the clock says “8,” that means everyone must be in their beds.
Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Thursday, July 11, 2019
By Jonathan Stern fatherly.com Updated Jul 09 2019, 4:34 PM
Yelling at kids often occurs unconsciously. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel effective. After all, yelling often feels like the best technique for getting a kid’s attention, punishing them, or simply expressing feelings of anger. But all of the shouting, screaming, and yelling at kids is deeply unhelpful to parenting.
According to Dr. Laura Markham, founder of Aha! Parenting and author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting, yelling is clearly a parenting “technique” we can do without. But she’s also a realist. You get three hours of sleep a night, you’re going to lose it. The good news is that the psychological and emotional damage to a kid is minimal when parents yell (assuming it’s not true verbal abuse). The bad news is that those who are doing it constantly are setting up more shouting matches later in life.
The power parents hold over young kids is absolute. To them, their folks are humans twice their size who provide things they need to live: Food, shelter, love — Nick Jr. When the person they trust most frightens them, it rocks their sense of security. And yes, it’s truly frightening for a child. “They’ve done studies where people were filmed yelling. When it was played back to the subjects, they couldn’t believe how twisted their faces got,” says Dr. Markham. A 3-year-old may appear to push buttons and give off an attitude like an adult, but they still don’t have the emotional maturity to be treated like one.
Nobody (except for a small percentage of sadists) enjoys being yelled at. So, why would kids? “When parents yell, kids acquiesce on the outside, but the child isn’t more open to your influence, they’re less so,” says Dr. Markham. Younger kids may bawl; older kids will get a glazed-over look — but both are shutting down instead of listening. That’s not communication.
Dr. Markham says that while parents who shout aren’t ruining their kids’ brains, per se, they are changing them. “Let’s say during a soothing experience [the brain’s] neurotransmitters respond by sending out soothing biochemicals that we’re safe. That’s when a child is building neural pathways to calm down.”
When a toddler with underdeveloped prefrontal cortex and not much in the way of the executive function gets screamed at, the opposite happens. “The kid releases biochemicals that say fight, flight, or freeze. They may hit you. They may run away. Or they freeze and look like a deer in headlights. None of those are good for brain formation,” she says. If that action happens repeatedly, the behavior becomes ingrained.
“Normalize” is a word that gets thrown about a lot these days in politics, but it’s also applicable to a child’s environment. Parents who constantly yell in the house make that behavior normal for a kid, and they’ll adapt to it. Dr. Markham notes that if a child doesn’t bat an eye when they’re being scolded, there’s too much scolding going on. Instead, parents need to first and foremost be models of self-regulation. In essence, to really get a kid to behave, grown-ups have to first.