Helping Children Prepare for End of School Year Testing

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parenting-tips

Hello Idea Room readers, it’s Heather from Family Volley. With the end of the school year right around the corner, it’s time for end of the year testing. Here are a few tips for helping our kids handle test week.

1. Explain to our children why we take tests. Help them understand that tests are used to show how much we have learned. Encourage your child to do their best, but don’t put so much emphasis on them that they feel stressed. Help your child understand that they are not meant to trick or trouble your child. Only an opportunity to share what they know.

2. Practice the test format ahead of time. For example, your child might have to read a paragraph and answer questions. Using one of his text books, have him look at the questions at the end of the section first and then read the passage. That will help him know what to read for and how to find the answers. Maybe the test is going to be multiple choice. Put together a few fun multiple choice questions for your child to answer. Help them understand how you mark the correct answer and how to work through the process of elimination. This will take much stress out of test taking.

3. Limit activities the night before the tests. Most of our children’s teachers are really good about letting parents know ahead of time, when tests are going to be taken at school. But, if your child’s teachers are not sending that information home, ASK. Know when tests are going to be taken and limit the activities that your child participates in the day/night before. Avoid having guests over for dinner the night before, or even consider having your child skip their siblings sporting event if it means they are going to get home late.

4. Get a good night sleep. Although this is obvious, it is a good reminder. Sleep is one of the most important ways we can help prepare our children to take tests. And not just the night before. Sleep builds on itself, so be sure that they few days before those big tests, children are getting enough sleep and rest.

5. On test day, give them a good breakfast, full of energy. Try to include both protein and carbohydrates. So eggs, yogurt, milk and fruit, oatmeal and toast.

6. Ensure a stress free morning. The morning of a test is not the day you want to point out how slow your child is at getting ready for school, or fill the morning with stress and contention. We never want to send our kids to school that way, but on test day in-particular, steer clear of arguments and disagreements before kids head out the door. It will be hard for them to concentrate on their tests, when they are replaying arguments and trying to make sense of the disagreement you just had. It is also not the morning to have to rush. Be sure there is adequate time to get ready and get to school so no one has to rush and push.

Take a few minutes to think about ways you can make end of school year testing less stressful for your children. The extra preparation will help them get ready for the any test questions thrown their way.

Have a question, or just want to say hello? You can find me at FamilyVolley.com. On PinterestFacebook, and Twitter. Or send me an email. I love making new friends.



Parenting and Time Outs

kids-and-timeout

It goes by a million names. “Time out”, “Go to your room”, “stand in the corner”, “sit in the time out chair”… The list goes on and on. What ever phrase you use to send your child away when they are misbehaving is what we are talking about.

About 30+ years ago, in an attempt to get parents to step away from spanking, “time out” was introduced. The goal was to have children sit in time out, so that they weren’t getting parental interaction and so they could take time to work through what they were upset about. It is now a common parenting practice that when children disobey, start to cause problems, and refuse to listen, that we send them away to be alone, in a time out.

But, The next time you are ready to send your children to a time out, take a minute to think about a few things. Time outs aren’t nearly as helpful as we think they are. Nor do they strengthen our relationships with our kids or teach them long term skills that are helpful as adults. (Now, don’t misunderstand, there are obviously times when distance and space is necessary, but here are a few things to think about. A new perspective.)

First, when we send our kids to time out, we are sending a message that how they feel doesn’t matter. We are telling them we don’t care about how they feel, we want them to shut their feelings off and go away.

Second, sending kids to time out sends a message that you want your children to get away from you. (I know, sometimes we really do feel this way, but…) This message says “I don’t care about you, please leave.” Our children need to feel love and when we send them away, the last thing they feel is love.

Lastly, time outs don’t teach our children to deal with their problems. By sending them to be on their own, they don’t get any help learning how to manage their feelings and emotions. By acting out, it shows they already don’t know how to handle how they are feeling and the situation they are dealing with. Sending them to time out doesn’t help them learn to manage anything.

This might sound silly, but let me suggest an alternative to a “time out”. It is time for a “Time In.”

What is a “time in”? A “time in” is gathering your child into your arms and giving them a big hug, instead of sending them away. When their behavior is horrible, when they start throwing a fit, or they hit, or they won’t listen, instead of sending them to their rooms, go to them, get down on their level, and  gather them up in your lap and hold them. Just sit and hold them. As you wrap your arms around them, let them experience the feelings. Let them be angry or sad. And let them say what they want to say.

How are you going to hug a child that is causing so much trouble? Entertain a new perspective…Maybe they are throwing a fit, or talking back. But think of it this way. Instead of getting angry, think… my child must be really really upset to be acting out this way. They must be hurting in some way. Distraught in some way to be willing to throw the fit and talk back. So instead of sending them away, realize that they are in some sort of distress and are just asking, in fact yelling, for help. Simply changing our perspective will make us want to keep our children near instead of sending them away.

Imposing a “time in” will show your child how much you love them. It teaches them you want to be connected and care about how they are feeling. It also gives you an opportunity to teach them how to deal with their emotions and feelings.

Now, it might not work right away. You might try to hug or hold your child and they pull away, or fight or yell “don’t touch me”. That is okay. It will take time for your child to accept this new practice also. Don’t quit. Stay close to your child, and express “you are having a hard time right now aren’t you. That is okay, let me hold you and we can talk about it.”

Remember that as you are working through a “time in” with your child, they will have a hard time expressing themselves for fear it might get them in trouble. Be open to their true thoughts and allow them to be honest. The more they push you away, the more they need you to stay close. Just continue to stay as close as they will let you and ensure them that you won’t leave them alone, feeling this way.

SO… the next time you are ready to call for a time out, STOP, don’t send them away. Instead, wrap your arms around your child, hold them close and give him/her a minute to regroup, feel loved and understood, and start over. Let the love pour out over them and watch their behavior change. In fact, you will see much greater and more successful results by disciplining with “time in’s” than “time outs”.

When it comes to discipline, love will always prevail.

When was the last time your child was misbehaving and you gave them a big hug instead of getting mad at them?

Do you think it would be hard to use “time in’s” instead of “time out’s”?

Have a question or just want to say hello.



Bullying – Parents Can Help

It’s time once again for Heather from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her “Parenting Tips Series with Heather Johnson” here on The Idea Room. I for one, really enjoy all her great tips and advice on things that most of us as parents struggle with. Here’s Heather in her own words…

–Amy

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One of my biggest concerns as a parent is our children being bullied, teased and made fun of. We have all experienced bullying to differing degrees and know how horrible it feels. It is a real problem that will most likely happen to all our children at some point in time.

Studies estimate that almost one in three American school children is either a bully or a victim and that 160,000 children a day skip school because they fear being attacked or intimidated by other students.

As parents the statistics can make us feel helpless. We shouldn’t wait until our child is bullied, or leave it up to the schools to teach them. There is much we can do to help our children avoid, prepare for, and deal with bullying. We need to start our preparations early.
First, we need to realize that bullying comes down to conflict management. OUR KIDS WILL FACE CONFRONTATION in their lives. In school, at the park, in church, in college, in the work place, in their neighborhoods, in marriage, in parenting. Dealing with conflict is a life long skill.
Second, we need to help our children understand that it is never okay to fight. For the most part, nothing good comes of fighting. Fighting is not the answer. When our children are 40 and they have a disagreement with a coworker, they can’t use their fists to solve the problem then. Why would we teach them that is how to deal with conflict now. It is not a skill that will serve them through their lives.
 
That said, we need to teach our children that they stand up for themselves in self defense. They should know that if they need to defend themselves because they are being, or going to be physically attacked, then they defend themselves. And, that if they do have to fight in self defense, that you will understand. They need to know that they always defend themselves if/when things turn physical.
Then, we need to…
Talking to our children young
Waiting until our kids are bullied is not a good time to start addressing the issue. Children who feel embarrassed or humiliated about being bullied are very unlikely to come home and share how they feel. Instead they will withdraw and suffer alone. Make it clear to your children that you are always there to listen, and that you know bullying can happen. Use situations and find ways to bring up the subject and discuss it when they are young.

Role Play (start children young)

Give your children different scenarios and teach them how to handle them. “What do you do if…?” (someone calls you a name, makes fun of you, someone takes your lunch, someone hits you). Go through each situation and teach them what to say and do. It will empower them, and when they are faced with the bully they wont be as intimidated because they will have had experience and practiced what to do.
Role play simple verbal and non-verbal cues…
  • Stand Straight and Tall
  • Keep shoulders back
  • Don’t show emotion
  • Use firm strong voices

Teach Conflict Resolution

We have to teach our children how to deal with conflict and confrontation. Teach them to manage their anger, listen and communicate. Teach them how to be patient and compromise. This is done through everyday life situations and role play. As conflict happens in your home, between siblings, use it to teach. We also must be good examples of conflict resolution in our own adult lives.

Let kids work things out on their own.

As parents we can be very quick to step in and stop the arguing and disagreements between our children. We decide who we think is entitled to “winning” and then go about our business, happy with ourselves because the arguing and disagreeing has stopped. We need to let our children work out their own disagreements. If we will sit back and watch, they will almost always be able to solve their own problems. These family situations are the perfect place for them to practice working through conflict when dealing with others.

Listen to our children

When our kids try and talk to us, we have to listen. They will drop little hints when there are bullying problems. It is easy to miss the cues when we are not really listening to what is being said. When our kids talk to us, we need to put everything else aside and really be in the moment to listen. Kids will tell us there is a problem long before bullying turns physical, listen to them.
Verbal Abuse is abuse.
Just because the bullying is verbal, doesn’t mean it hurts any less. Verbal bullying leads to the same negative effects as physical bullying: high levels of emotional distress, loneliness, lower self esteem, depression and anxiety. Acknowledge your children’s complaints and concerns.
Give them a hobby, interest, sport, talent, where they can excel.
We should involve our children in healthy activities where they find success. Something they like, that challenges them and where they can excel. Whether it is sports, a hobby or an interest. These activities will boost their self confidence. They teach children how to deal with success and failure, solve problems, deal with others and speak their minds.
Research teaches us that helping your children build their self confidence is one of the best defenses against bullying. 

Model Empathy

As parents, we need to model kind, gentle behavior for our children. They learn by watching us. Be sure that the other adults and kids that are around our children demonstrate empathy as well. We need to teach  our kids to try to understand other’s points of view and to feel compassion towards others. If we are always raising our voices, showing impatience, and arguing, they will do the same.

Dad can make a difference.

Involved dads make a huge difference in the confidence of their children. Dads need to not only model strength and confidence, but sympathy and empathy. If there is not a dad that fills this role for your children, seek out a strong male role model who can help.

Have your kids been bullied? How did you handle the situation? 

Were you bullied as a child, or as an adult?
Have a question or just want to say hello.

 

 

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