Tag: temper tantrums

Five Ways to Stop Preschool Drop Off Separation Anxiety (Yes, They Really Work!)

CryingThe hardest part of my day used to be prying my preschooler and kindergartners arms off my legs when I had to drop them off at school. My sons’ howls of protest hurt my heart at the same time it made me wonder what I was doing wrong or what was wrong with them. All three of my boys did it at some stage or another. I can reassure you that this does pass…. my oldest son did absolutely no leg-holding or crying when he left for college last week.

After surviving three kids’ separation anxiety, or “drop off dramas” and talking with many parents about what has helped them, here are a few ideas to experiment with. Please let me know how they work!

Drop off drama usually follows hot on the tail of “Getting Ready in the Mornings Drama” which for many families is the worst time of day. Drop off drama is about a young person experiencing a painful transition from their beloved parent to a room full of new kids and adults. This is very stressful for some little people, especially those who prefer to be at home.

1. Fill the Bucket!

If mornings are stressful, drop offs are bound to be stressful as well. I love the idea of taking a few minutes right before drop off… either in the car or while still at home… to “fill the bucket” of your little one. Imagine if you said something like this, “I know that saying goodbye is hard some days, so how about if we take some time to snuggle and get you all filled up with mommy/daddy-time?”

2. Acknowledge the Sadness and Encourage Communication

Acknowledge your child’s sadness. Invite her to “get her sad out” while you are there to hold her. This can be a good time to read one of the children’s books that address the pain of goodbye The Kissing Hand, The Invisible String, Love You Forever, Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You). It can be fascinating to ask your little one to get out all of his/her sadness while you are together. She might cry, he might protest. You can just be there and say things like, “I know, it’s hard to say goodbye, isn’t it?’ “I love it when you can say how you feel.” You can even invite some fit-throwing. It sounds counter-productive but I promise, it has helped many parents tone down drama and end tantrums in some children. Encouraging your child to feel all his feelings and share them ahead of time lets them feel strongly but do so in the safety of your presence and the privacy of home.

3. Teach Self-Soothing

When it’s NOT the critical drop off moment, have a conversation with your child about what he can say to himself that will help drop offs go better. Hint: He won’t have a clue. That’s when you get to teach positive self-talk by saying something like: “Some kids find it helps to say, ‘I can have fun at school even when I miss my daddy.” Or, “It’s ok to feel sad and mad about saying goodbye. I can handle it.” Or “My mommy/daddy’s love is with me wherever I go.”

4. Give Choices from a “Go To School Menu”

Give them three choices for the three days they go to preschool and each week they can pick which day they use each style. Write them on a simple chart.  No repeats are allowed in a week.

The choices are:
1) Scream and cry and hold onto Mommy’s legs all the way into the classroom.
2) Scream and cry in the car and then walk in holding mommy’s hands, give a big hug and say “goodbye.” 
3) Snuggle with a book before getting in the car and play follow the leader into school, blow kisses and smile.

On the days they chose the scream and cry model, really encourage them do it as intensely as they can. If they start to cry on a non-cry day, warmly remind them that they already had their crying day for that week. After all the build-up and permission to do some good fit-throwing, some kids simply no longer feel the need to do “Drop-off-Drama” and the situation can resolve itself fairly quickly.

5. Make a Fun “Going To School” Book Starring Your Little One

Take them to preschool on a day that they don’t actually attend. Take pictures of them every step of the way. Since there is no impending good-bye, there won’t be any drama. Photograph them smiling in their carseats, smiling in front of the school, walking down the hall holding your hand and standing in the classroom waving a pretend goodbye. Then leave the school, go for a treat and talk about how it felt to go to school so happy. Next, print up the pictures and make a super simple little little book with your child’s name in it: For example: “William Goes to School” book.

Each morning after that, ask your child if they want to go to school happy or sad and let them look at the book. This reinforces that they were able to go to school happy and by looking at the pictures, they will remember the experience of going in peacefully. This technique worked so well with one mom that her child never fussed after that.

Important Things to Remember:

Show compassion for your children who fuss at drop off — saying goodbye to their “home-base” is painful for them. It’s a life skill they must learn, but acknowledge that it’s a hard one.

Have no expectation that this should be easy for them or you. If it’s not, it’s not. It can be a great opportunity for you to teach them different ways to master this important skill.

Put some time and effort into switching up the pattern and you could save yourself and your child a lot of drama and heartache in the long run.



Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

Rowdy at Dinner

I frequently receive letters and emails from my readers sharing their successes and failures as parents. While I prefer reading the success stories, I also find value in parenting failures because it gives me an opportunity to reach out and offer advice on a topic that I’m passionate about, Love and Logic® parenting. I look for opportunities to encourage parents to reward good behavior instead of punishing bad behavior. My advice seemed to pay off for this mother and in the following letter, she shares her success.
Boy has mouth full of pasta in kitchen

Dinnertime Dilemma

Dear Kerri,
I just had to share my recent success story and offer a big “Thank You”. I’m a fan of your work and a big believer in the reward system you teach so I decided to give it a try. Suffice it to say, I was thrilled with the results. I have a 5-year old son who is a non-stop little ball of energy. Although this energy is wonderful to watch, there are times that I wish he would sit still and mind his manners.
That said; dinnertime has always been a challenge. This should be a time for our family to come together and share the events of our day, express our thanks for food and family and enjoy each other’s company. Lately, it’s turned into a time that my husband and I dread. The delight has been drained from our family time due to the poor manners and temper tantrums of our 5-year old. It’s a constant struggle to get him to eat, sit still, use his napkin and clear his plate. I was so tired of being frustrated that I decided to change my method of parenting and enlist your reward system.

Instead of focusing on his bad behavior, I offered a tangible (and immediate) reward for his good behavior. Every time he responded to a request, he would receive a token. When he was asked to come to the table, sit still, eat his dinner and clear his plate, he was given a token. I also made sure to tell him how proud I was of his good manners. I saw an immediate change in his behavior.
Every now and then I would allow a “bad manners night” to let him enjoy dinner without feeling like he’s constantly under a microscope. On these nights we would make dinnertime fun and not worry so much about table manners. Within a short amount of time he was responding to all my requests and using table manners that any mother would be proud of.

Since starting your reward system I’ve noticed a positive change in my son’s attitude. He looks forward to acting like a well-mannered little gentleman and really likes the positive reinforcement (and tokens) that accompany his good manners. He’s anxious to please me and he knows that, when he exhibits good manners at the table, there’s an immediate reward for his good behavior.
Thank you for your parenting advice; it’s worked wonders for our son!

Sincerely,
Lillian H.
Boise, ID



Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2013 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents


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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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Happy Starts to Preschool

Dear Kerry,
I’m a stay at home mom of twin boys and I knew that starting preschool would be difficult for them to deal with. New places, new faces, a new routine and the absence of mom would be a lot for them to digest so; I decided that instead of dreading this wonderful event in the lives of my boys, I would embrace it with Love and Logic® parenting. Following are some of the ideas that were a success for me and my boys; I hope your readers find them useful.

Loads of Love

Before we head to class, I gave each of them plenty of hugs and kisses. Not just a few, I overloaded them with lots of love, snuggles, hugs and kisses while asking them if they had gotten enough to last until pick up time. I also asked if I could give one more kiss on their nose, forehead, cheek, chin, etc. just to make sure that they were covered from head to toe in love. When they decided that they had received enough loving to make it through the day, I would take them into class.

Practice Makes Perfect

In order to get my boys accustomed to a new experience, I decided to practice the preschool routine in an effort to turn their jitters to joy. I held preschool practice sessions on days when my boys didn’t have to go to school. From walking out the door with backpacks in hand, to walking into the classroom and saying goodbye, my boys became familiar with the process and what to expect. I made sure to document this process with lots of pictures in order to remember our practice routine and show my boys how to successfully arrive at preschool with zero anxiety and fuss.

Preschool Platter

Another great idea that worked well for my boys was a menu board. The board showed pictures ranging from a crying and screaming child that’s holding his mother’s leg to a happy and hopping child that’s glad to be going to school. There was enough variety on the board that my boys were able to plan out their week of going to school, which allowed them to decide how they wanted to arrive at school. If either boy started to fuss on day one, I would offer a reminder that we’re “happy and hopping into class today” and that “crying and fussing” isn’t on the menu until Wednesday. This was a perfect way to create a positive experience while having fun.

Lastly, I found the following books to be helpful; “The Kissing Hand”, “The Invisible String” and “I Love You All Day Long”. They were great tools that prepared my boys for preschool while helping them to understand and enjoy the experience. I hope these ideas are helpful!
Thanks,
Jan
Auburn, CA
Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2013 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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How To Turn Your Words from Garbage to Gold

Little boy with shoes on

TWIN TERRORS CAN CAUSE DOUBLE TROUBLE

Every parent knows how exhausting it can be to raise a child, especially toddlers. For parents of twins, that exhaustion is enough to make you see double, literally. What do you do when faced with temper tantrum throwing twin terrors at dinnertime and how do you elicit a positive response from one or both when they seem to feed off each other? It’s not easy but, with a little Love and Logic®, this mom turned her misbehaving minions into terrific toddlers.

DINNERTIME DISASTER DUO

The day was winding down and, as the sun sank low in the sky, mom thought it would be a perfect fall evening for a dinner on the patio. The only problem was her defiant 3 year old that refused to put his shoes on before joining them. While mom sat patiently at the dinner table, this twin toddler put up quite a fight. Refusing to put his shoes on and causing quite a scene was enough to send this mom over the edge. Luckily, her toddler’s tantrum didn’t throw his twin into the same tizzy. As they both sat waiting for the storm to calm, mom had an idea. She decided to try an enforceable statement in hopes of turning his tantrum into a lesson of love and patience.

With a calm voice and a steady gaze, mom simply said “anybody who has their shoes on gets dinner” and turned her defiant son’s seat away from the table. While mom and the rest of the family began to enjoy their supper, her surprised son decided that he wanted to join them for dinner and, if it meant he had to put his shoes on to do it that was OK. As mom watched, what had become a customary dinnertime meltdown, turned into an easy fix. Her son put on his shoes and joined his brother and mom at the table. Mom couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride for the actions of her baby boy.

ENFORCEABLE STATEMENTS THAT STICK

When mom decided to use an enforceable statement, she sent a message to her son that his actions or inactions would warrant a response. This type of enforceable statement can reinforce to the child that what they’re doing is unacceptable and that there is a repercussion for their behavior. Additionally, using enforceable statements can also let the child feel that they are in control of the situation. By forcing the child to claim control of his actions mom allowed him to make the decision to put his shoes on and join in dinner, while letting him know that his actions would not be tolerated. Enforceable statements are a great way to elicit the response you want without all the fuss. This mom took care of business without losing her cool.



Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2013 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents


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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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Getting Kids to School On Time

Young girl refusing to get ready for school

DAD’S DILEMMA

After a busy morning of diapering, feeding, bathing and dressing his 7 and 3-year olds and tending to the needs of the baby (with a few temper tantrums thrown in here and there), dad was hoping for a little help from his toddler and oldest son. Little did he know that they had other plans. After posing the request to “get in the car”, dad returned to find the 7 and 3 year old sitting in front of the TV. Not only were they in the same spot where he left them but, the 3 year old had removed his pants, ensuring that dad would have one more thing to do before leaving the house for school.

If you’re a parent you know how hectic mornings can be, especially when you’re attempting to get somewhere on time. When this dad was dealt a healthy dose of groundhog parenting, he managed to keep his cool and teach his children a valuable lesson about personal accountability and getting them to listen.

GROUNDHOG PARENTING AND HOW IT CAN MAKE YOUR ALREADY BUSY DAY SEEM ENDLESS

Dad uses the term “groundhog parenting” to describe what seems like a never-ending cycle of asking for something specific (“clean up your mess”, “get in the car”, etc.) with zero results. This type of cycle makes simple tasks seem endless, repetitive, and…like Groundhog Day, over and over and over again.
This type of parenting is not only ineffective; it’s the perfect recipe for a frustrated parent. Instead of continually repeating the same request with little to no response dad tried the new method of Love and Logic® parenting in hopes of eliciting a different response.

DAD TO THE RESCUE

Since Dad’s request to “get in the car” was ignored, he decided to employ a new technique. His new strategy will make cents…probably from his son’s piggy bank. After Dad asks his sons to get in the car, he’ll make his way to the car and charge the 7 year old .25 cents per minute that he has to wait. Hopefully, this strategy will encourage his son to listen to Dad’s request and respond the first time. However, dad also wants to make sure he’s rewarding positive behavior and not simply punishing bad behavior so, dad will also offer the 7 year old .25 cents per minute for every minute that they’re early arriving to school.

With a positive reinforcement in place, dad is ready to tackle getting to school on time with minimal hassle. More importantly, the 7 year old will feel a sense of reward when he’s given positive reinforcement for his positive actions; it’s a win/win situation and Dad is the hero of the game!



Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2013 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents


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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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My 1.5 Year Old Hates the Car Seat

assorted sweets in a square box
My 1.5 year old son didn’t want to get in his car seat.  He wasn’t responding to the choices I was giving him and instead was fighting me.  I finally got him buckled in and wondered what  Love and Logic skills I could use for a consequence for his sad decision. 

He is too young for a delayed consequence, so I used an enforceable statement.

I had a bag of M&M’s that I opened up and shared with his 3 year old brother saying  “ I only give treats to boys who get in their carseats for their Mommy.”   Yes, of course he started crying and screaming.  But I know that it worked because later that day when I needed him to get in the car seat, he jumped right in!    It felt good to have some skills to use.

–Margaret

Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2013 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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Success Story! Love and Logic® Works with 3 Year Olds

This mom shares her success story using the  brain dead statement “I know” over and over again…..

My 3 year old didn’t want any of the two choices I gave him for breakfast, so I picked one for him.  He was not happy and kept throwing a fit.   I empathetically used “I know” about six or seven times before he finally took a deep breath, slumped his shoulders, and started eating quietly.

Going “brain dead” began to work faster and faster the rest of the week.  It only took saying it 2 or 3 time for him to chill out and do what I said!

Shelly Moorman
©2010 Shelly Moorman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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Does That Mean “NO”?

DoesThatMeanNO
Here is a story of a mom in my class who learned a new skill to not engage in a battle with kids when they’re protesting a limit.

That skill is called going “brain dead.”

This works with kids of all ages. See what happens when she uses it to neutralize the “buy it for me” battle.

My 9 year old daughter and I were at Walmart In the middle of the afternoon rush when she asked for a bouncy ball (regression anyone?) I said “no.” She protested, fussed and whined. I got to whip out my “brain dead” phrase for the first time, “Love you too much to argue.”

She looked at me with an expression of shock and confusion. He then asked me incredulously, “Does that mean no?”

The element of surprise using a new phrase was great! She accepted the “No” without further protest and we moved on. I had to laugh to myself when in the car driving home she said, “Mom, don’t say that again.







Shelly Moorman
©2013 Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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Temper Tantrums Aren’t Just for 2 Year Olds

This year has brought a new experience for John and I …temper tantrums.

That moment when Hailey clenches her fists, shakes uncontrollably, and squeals like a pig…randomly throughout our day.  Tantrums could be triggered over a number of different things in her “high-stress” day.  As adults, we talk about temper tantrums like they are a phase and disregard any logical explanation for why they happen.  Personally, if someone twice my size deprived me of another serving of ice cream or tore me away from my favorite show to go grocery shopping…I’d get pretty upset too.  I might even shake uncontrollably.

We often say, “Oh well, whatcha gonna do? It’s the terrible twos.”

We recently took a Love and Logic parenting class (highly recommend this) and it has helped immensely.   Temper Tantrums for adults and kids are mainly caused by our lack of control.  Give a child or an adult a choice and they feel more in control. Hailey now gets several choices a day regarding everything she does…”do you want to wear pink shoes or red shoes…pants on first or shirt on first…dinner in this chair or that chair…”  It has added a lot of humor to our day and keeps things in perspective.  She also has “a calm place” where she is instructed to go if she “loses it.” It’s an area in her room with pillows and stuffed animals.  Now that she knows how to use it, she will frequently go there on her own after “losing it.” Wouldn’t it be nice to have a “calm place” at work after a bad meeting? How about a “calm place” at the airport?

Shelly Moorman
©2009 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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