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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Parenting Tips: Ups and Downs

Tuesday I talked about a way foster parents can help kids see the balance of good and bad in their lives, but all parents sometimes bump into this on a smaller level. Kids often have spells when they get discouraged.  Sometimes it becomes real depression.  Real depression needs professional help.  But even the regular ups and downs of childhood [especially during adolescence] go better with a little help from parents.

Most of us can remember times when we felt like the old sing-song: "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I think I'll go eat worms!" When in that mood, it seems never-ending.  If you feel your child needs help recognizing the balance of good and bad days try this:

1. Grab a cheap wall or pocket calendar and help the child put it someplace they will be able to use everyday. [Maybe get one for each of you...see note below.]

2. Explain a system system of Good Day [happy face], Bad Day [frowny face] and OK day [OK sign].

3.Talk about a time of day when they will decided how to rate the day. Maybe supper, maybe bedtime, or maybe you will rate the previous day the next morning.

Choices:  [Depending on how accurately your child seems to be  labeling the days.]
A- Just keep track to a stretch and talk about it after a week or so, to talk about what you see.
B-Each day talk about why it was good, bad, or ok.
C-If you need to get your child more involved, have THEM do the labeling. They can draw the faces OR buy some fun stamps to use in labeling if that will get them more on board.  [Teacher stores or catalogs usually have a variety of inexpensive stamps and even some office supply stores. ]

NOTE: You may even want to do a calendar for yourself and make a point of doing yours with your child to model by talking out loud as you evaluate your day.  Some children may really need this example.

This activity is a win-win.  You will learn whether the problem is in your child's perceptions, or their experiences. Your child will learn that you really care about how their day goes.  Probably most important: You and your child will develop a habit of talking about good days, bad days, and ok days openly. And last but not least, even the fact that they have the three choices shows them that ALL people expect to have good days, bad days, and just ok days.  Give it a try!

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