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.