Monday, June 20, 2011

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Liar -- Liar Pants on Fire…..
It’s a familiar child rhyme originating from a poem by William Blake.

“Deceiver, dissembler -Your trousers are alight
From what pole or gallows -Shall they dangle in the night?...”

While we are not exactly sure what pants on fire has to do with lying, it springs up in play when one child accuses another of lying. Today’s society offers many examples, such as doctors giving vague prognosis, politicians making campaign promises, and family members providing other "reasons" for tardiness at the family dinner. EtiKids is here to shed light on a not-so-positive social skill that continually re-emerges throughout history... The preschooler and the tall-tales. Yes, the start of school often causes many false stories to emerge from our favorite little friends. Although seemingly amusing when a three-year-old does it, it is not so funny when that same person does it twenty years later.

Fact: Preschoolers have great imaginations. However, in their fantasy worlds, it becomes difficult to transition between real-life and make-believe. There is no doubt in their minds that "a monster did it."

For some, the imaginary friend, Jennifer or Jack, is involved in mischievous capers. Wet pants, spilled juice or missed cookies are always Jenny’s fault. A few weeks ago, when a dangling ceiling-fan pull broke, a mini family member swiftly claimed, “I didn’t do it! It just happened!"

Lying is a behavior that all children will try at some period in their lives. If one is lucky, it is attempted at an early age and quickly discouraged. The most important tool a parent can use is to react appropriately and set a positive example for the child. A loving and trusting relationship can begin as early as preschool age.

In the article, Why Kids Lie (and How You Can Encourage Honesty) by Deborah Bohn, Dr. Michele Borba, a nationally renowned educator and author of Building Moral Intelligence: The Seven Essential Virtues that Teach Kids to Do the Right Thing, describes this behavior as "wishful thinking." She reminds parents that three-year-olds don't think the same way that adults do, and they ACTUALLY WISH that someone else broke your favorite lamp!

Some tips for when your munchkin looks up at you with enormous brown eyes and says, “I saw the little mouse knock over the cookie jar, and it broke.”

1. With a positive response, let the child know the truth is appreciated, offer a warm hug and smile; and then assist in the clean-up of the mess. As it is merely wishful thinking, it is important to address the child calmly. Dr. Borba would even ask the child if he/she wishes that a little mouse would have broken the cookie jar.

2. Avoid asking the obvious question, Did you break this lamp with the soccer ball? This provides a child with the perfect opportunity to lie. While they are standing amidst the shattered ruins of a lamp, ball in hand, one can say, “I see the lamp is broken. We do not play ball inside the house. Please get a dust pan and broom. No more ball playing today.” As a grownup, it is possible to set limits without punitive measures.

3. Finally, set an example as a role model. Children learn by modeled behavior, and they are mindful of all habits good and bad. Lying to a spouse about the price of a new power tool or the purchase of another pair of shoes sets a double standard that children do not understand. If a child consistently tells fibs, it is often helpful to think about what behaviors a child may be observing in and out of the home.

Lying is not a virtue worth keeping and can be stopped. Preschool children are not in positions to discriminate good lies from bad ones; therefore, it is helpful to be consistent. Starting early sets into motion the idea of positive and negative behavior. Most important, it creates a solid foundation for a trusting relationship in the family.

As always, EtiKids is here to help. If your tall-tale-teller (say that 5 times, fast!) is way too inventive, contact us for more information on how to positively reinforce good behavior!

And for conversation purposes: What was the most crafty excuse that your child invented? How was it handled?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Divorce vs. Child

Research has been done about divorce and its effect on children’s development for quite some time. Although this article seems to relate to common sense, it was a surprise to find out that children are most susceptible to "side effects" of the separation during and after the divorce. Even more interesting was that math scores and social skills are those most affected by the unfortunate situation. The article, "Children of divorced lack in math, social skills" by Reuters cites time split between parents, psychological impairments (such as depression and anxiety), and parents not spending enough time with their children as reasons for the diminishing of these pertinent skills. It discusses how children are becoming increasingly more anxious and unable to focus on the tasks at hand. In today’s society, which still has an incredibly high rate of divorce among parents, this information can hopefully lead to some changes for the greater good of children. Rather than focus on what is not being done, it is important to recognize behaviors that can be changed immediately:

1) Make a schedule with children present, so they know when they will be spending time with each parent. By involving children in the process, they will feel more in control and comfortable with the situation as they will be able to predict the changes in routine.

2) Help them establish new routines in each house- and stick with them. Although divorce seems like a reason to never speak again, it is important to communicate (amicably) about the child. Attempting to create similar structures and routines in each house will help children feel safe in both locations.

3) Keep a notebook of school assignments. Each parent should be responsible for reading it. Ask the child’s teacher to contribute as well, so everyone can have information about the child. This will help all responsible parties monitor areas that are potentially becoming problematic.

4) Make sure to eat meals with together with the child. Meal time is a great way to model appropriate social skills (eye contact, table manners, reciprocal conversation). By setting the expectation that positive social behaviors should be used always, the child will begin to utilize them in situations in and out of the home. It is important to be consistent and reinforce the social skills as often as possible!

5) Nobody ever wins in divorce, but the children do not have to be the biggest losers of all. Through the use of these techniques, the child can continue to develop without negatively impact the cognitive and social growth. Contact EtiKids for more information.

Monday, June 6, 2011

We're Baa-aaack!!!

Ok, ok, we know it's been a quite a while.
EtiKids blogs haven't been able to make you smile.
We've missed you tons and couldn't stay away.
We're back to give tips on using manners every day.

Social skills are important as kids get older- even more than before.
They will help your child be leaders in the classroom, on the playground, and on a school tour!
The summer has just started, so it is time to prepare.
Help your child succeed and show them you care.

Before next school year starts with a bang-
Let EtiKids help teach social skills to your gang!
So contact us with stories, comments or questions-
We are always hear to listen to and share suggestions.

Looking forward for what's to come, be prepared to hear a lot.
Just remember... It is not too early to teach your tot!

Julie and Co.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Good Sports...

Good Sportsmanship On and Off the Field…

“You cheated.” “Did not!” “Did too!” “Did not!” “Did too!” The biting words are common, endless and universal. Usually viewed during an exchange between children on the playing field, one can easily transfer a similar outburst years later in an adult setting (such as a boardroom). Often the stakes are greater and can lead to dangerous accusations and severe consequences. When is a game so much more than a game?

While there are many forms of cheating, none of them are acceptable. Breaking of rules intentionally or unintentionally for one’s benefit is not a tolerable behavior. The violation can be specific to a game or a more subjective breach of societal norms, customs, values, ethical and moral standards. Permitting the conduct to continue sends a message of acceptance while encouraging the formation of a negative pattern of behavior.

Cheating is not good at 5, 15, or 55 years of age. Sally bamboozles during a game of Candyland without penalty. Johnny secretly deceives while playing cards. Later, both feel that cheating on exams or homework is okay since no one is hurt. Sally is later surprised when she is fired from her job for not providing the proper services for clients, and Johnny is appalled to be fined by the IRS for inconsistencies on his tax return.

Overlooking the negative behavior from a preschooler lets them believe it is all right. EtiKids' curriculum is based on a standard of integrity and quality. Children are expected to be truthful and display sportsmanship. Fostering the social skills that will make them functional members of society comes with practice and expectations. These can be cultivated using a few helpful hints.

1. Learn the rules of the game. Children’s games have rules to follow; adults follow the culture of an institution or customs of a society. Teach children how the game is played. Focus on good behaviors, sharing, listening and playing fair.

2. Learn from mistakes and provide opportunity to do better by practicing. The blame game makes teammates feel bad. Think of how the situation could be avoided and a better way of accomplishing the goal.

3. Learn to lose graciously. There are winners and losers in every game. Losing provides valuable lessons for all. After all, there is always next time...

4. Be polite on and off the field, in and out of work or home. Leave the whining for babies. Showing off is not necessary. Good players are recognized and respected even more for setting a positive example. Trash talk is just that… garbage for the can!

5. Point out the positive. Catch children at their best! Children naturally want to please their parents. Recognize actions that emphasize good moral values and judgment. Simultaneously, it is good to express disapproval of unacceptable conduct; be careful to focus the remark on the behavior, not the child him/herself.

The grownups need to model the behavior for kids. Teaching children to play fairly in the sandbox now will be extremely helpful for them once they grow up. After all, imagine a world filled with love, truth and mutual respect. The dream can become a reality if the kids learn it now.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Please Sneeze Into Your Sleeve

Winter brings colds, runny noses, sneezes and coughs. Too few layers
outside, lots of clothing for inside, too much heat on in the room and insufficient warmth all raise the chance of becoming chilled and catching a bug! Stress, lack of sleep, holiday overindulgence and viral exposure may increase the odds that a cold will develop. While it may not be possible to live in a sterile environment, there are ways to minimize the damage and not further the virus chain!

An EtiKids favorite, Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo! by Rosetta Stone is a reminder of how easily something as small as the sneeze of an insect can have a greater impact. “You may not believe it, but here’s how it happened. One fine summer morning… a little bug sneezed…..”

There is no need to pass along the germs that can cause a cold or worse yet, the flu. The Center for Disease Control highlights the importance of making sure the mouth and nose are covered when sneezing or coughing so infectious droplets stay clear of the mouths or noses of nearby people. To lessen the chances of becoming sick or passing an illness on to someone else, the following suggestions can be added to your list of good health manners to remember:

1. Throw used tissues into the garbage, safely out of reach of an innocent passerby.
Keep soiled tissues off the counter, desk or any other surface readily accessible and easily contaminated.

2. Use an upper sleeve or elbow when tissues are unavailable. EtiKids teaches children to cough or sneeze into their sleeve. A CDC publication states, “Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth”.

3. Wash hands often. Use soap and water to wash hands vigorously for at least 20
seconds. Sing the alphabet or birthday song to estimate the time. Hand sanitizers are a
handy substitute in the absence of soap and water.

4. Don’t share if you care! Like a secret, personal items like a toothbrush, glass or eating utensils are best kept to oneself.

5. Stay home. The easiest way to transmit a cold is close contact with others such as at work or in school.

Winter time keeps more people indoors in closer contact. Be vigilant and mindful of
others with lower levels of resistance. Social skills includes good health habits too! Be cheerful and stay healthy!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Etiquette with Food Allergies

Food allergies are becoming more common in society, as better medical tests are able to identify the source of a person's discomfort. Although they are more prevalent, the person with the "ailment" needs to become his/her own advocate in order to ensure that surrounding foods can be eaten. It might seem an uncomfortable situation to announce that anything with peanuts cannot be consumed at the dinner table, but it is better to refuse a food than go into anaphylactic shock. As a host or considerate citizen, there are several things that a person can do to prepare for such challenges ahead of time:

1) When inviting guests to a dinner party, ask invitees ahead of time if anyone suffers from food allergies (peanuts, sesame, gluten, dairy, eggs -to name a few). Those with eating difficulties will be thrilled that they will be able to participate in the meal without having to worry.

2) If a person with the allergy offers to bring an allergy-free food to the party, don't hesitate to accept the offer. That way, the person knows what is in the food and won't get sick, and others will have the opportunity to sample a new dish!

3) It is alright to ask about the allergy. For example, a person with Celiac Disease is oftentimes extremely happy to share details about the allergy/disease, as it raises awareness of the problem. Every question is a good question!

4) Consult with cookbooks or online recipes for easy meals that are allergy-free. It is a win/win situation, as new foods get to be sampled and everyone can eat!

5) Ask before eating suspect foods in front of others- especially children. So many children have severe peanut/nut allergies and can suffer from a serious allergy attack if they touch something contaminated then stick their fingers in their mouth.

Eating in front of children can be a difficult situation, as they often do not fully understand their "ailment." When participating in an event with kids, consider all allergies that a child might have and potential alternative snacks. At EtiKids, we recognize that this is a challenge, so we often try to provide two choices: fruit and vegetables. Dips are often provided as well, so the kids can experiment with healthy snacks in a way that can work for everyone. Best of all, no one is left out of the fun!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cell Phones and Manners

They are everywhere… No longer just a means of communication, they have often become appendages that cover ears. Found all over the world, they vary in size, width, color and shape. Some have bling, others sing and almost everyone will ring! Yes, the cell phone is here to stay.

Holiday cell phone gifts must have been on the rise. People were checking and texting at the movies. A wedding was the location for individuals glancing at sports scores and online searches to bide time until the conclusion of the ceremony. The dinner table took on a special ambiance as phones rang and conversations ensued. Laps were the area of visual focus for twitters, tweeters and Facebook addicts in the family room. There was the woman yelling into the phone at her sister in the department store. The car became a prime place for filler-time conversations. With such widespread use and availability, are what constitutes proper cell phone etiquette?

1. When asked, please listen. Movie theatres, playhouses, museums, doctors’ offices and other public places often make special requests for patrons to turn phones to off. Ringing phones break concentration, change the tone and interfere with the need for quiet.
2. Be respectful of others sharing the space. One cannot always enjoy the privacy necessary for a conversation. When space is at a premium or there are too many people, (ie. the elevator) turn off the phone. Or at least put your conversation on hold for those few moments.
3. Adjust all volumes, phone rings and speaking voice. It’s frightening to have a phone break the silence with a ring loud enough to wake those in Australia! The other no-no is speaking in a voice loud enough for others to hear. Keep your conversation brief and speak in a low voice when absolutely necessary.
4. Turn the phone off with loved ones, friends and during meetings. Everyone is important. No one is cooler or busier because they are talking on a cell phone while socializing with other people. Try not to interrupt an engaging conversation by taking a call mid-sentence, during dinner, on a date or even job interview. The call can go right to voice mail and returned at a more convenient and private time.
5. Driving and texting don’t mix. Multi-task at home or at work, not when it can impact the lives of others. Many laws have been created regarding the use and limitation of cell phones. Check your state regulations. If there is urgency for a call, pull over to the side of the road. After all, the life you save could be mine!

Cell phones are a remarkable invention; however, there can be a point when they are overused, abused, an annoyance, a bother, an irritation and a nuisance. EtiKids classes offer children the opportunity to learn the etiquette of cell phone use. Kids learn how to answer, leave messages and explore the manners and responsibilities that are necessary to use and own a cell phone. It’s a social skill for all ages... Set an example for others, starting now. Courtesy is contagious!