Parent | Kay Trotter

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Boston Marathon Bombing Helping Children Cope

Boston bombing 4-15013

After yesterdays (April 15, 2013) trauma events at the Boston Marathon its important for adult and parent to know how to help children reeling from the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing especially since many children are easily overwhelmed with fear. In response to a  some children react with severe emotional responses — fear, grief, post-traumatic stress. Moreover, such experiences and other events that threaten a child’s sense of worth and well-being can produce intense personal distress.

Until things calm down after yesterdays bombing, it will be normal for your child to show signs of worry and fear. They may have trouble eating or sleeping.

Two weeks from now, if your child still isn’t eating or sleeping normally, or shows other warning signs such as extreme irritability, melancholy, lethargy and reluctance toward or fear of activities he or she once enjoyed, call your pediatrician or seek counseling for your child.

Its important for parents to create a sense of safety for your children 

Provide Caring and Support – Listen to your child’s concerns and answer their questions in direct, factual, age-appropriate ways. (Be careful of giving TOO MUCH information, especially with younger children.)

Children around 5 and younger don’t need to know. Very young children will only recently have mastered the skills of walking and talking, and they may not be able to express their anxieties and fears. Although you may think they are too young to understand what is happening, even very young children can absorb frightening events from the news or from conversations they overhear. Don’t let them watch news stories while they’re in the room. Wait for them to ask about what happened. If they don’t ask, continue business as usual.

Older children are likely to ask questions. You can initiate a conversation by saying, “I know you’re hearing and seeing a lot about what happened at the Boston Marathon bombing. How does this make you feel?” Or select pictures in a book or ask the children to draw pictures to express feelings. Then talk about the pictures. Take the lead from the child as to how much they need to talk about and know about the situation. Keep answers to questions simple, giving only what is needed.

Listen to comments of children as they play. 

Are there clues here that need further conversation?

When there is a situation outside of the home that is frightening, limit the amount of news your children watch or listen to. You don’t need to hide what’s happening in the world from your children, but neither do they have to be exposed to constant stories that fuel their fears. Children may have trouble distinguishing between TV shows that blow up buildings, and the factual news reports of a tragic event. Explain, “Yes, this really did happen. It is a sad time, but we will come through it.”

Realize that extra stresses may heighten normal daily stresses. Your children might normally be able to handle a failed test or teasing, but be understanding that they may respond with anger or bad behavior to stress that normally wouldn’t rattle them. Reassure them that you just expect them to do their best.

Two main questions children are likely to think about, whether they actually ask them or not, are: “Could this happen to me or to someone I love?” Remember that a young child cannot understand, “We just have to trust in God.” They trust in parents, and parents are supposed to protect them. So, while the answers are never easy, again try to keep them simple. “We don’t expect this to ever happen to you or anyone you love. You are always loved and have a loving circle of family and friends.” People sometimes choose to do bad things.”

Be careful what you say in front of children. Keep your emotions in check. If we are lamenting the state of the world and saying things like “I’m afraid to go anywhere anymore,” children will start to feel the world is indeed a scary place.

Expressing Feelings – Provide opportunities for your child to express their feelings. Use toys, puppets, books, music, water play, play dough, painting, and puzzles (creating order out of chaos). Let your child know that you have some of the same feelings they have. Be honest about your feelings, but temper them. Encourage your child to communicate their thoughts and feelings. But balance is again the key: Don’t let the talk escalate and overwhelm children.

Provide Opportunities for Meaningful Participation – Help your child come up with ways they can address the crisis themselves: i.e., raising money, sending cards and letters, forming a Peace Club. Participation gives children a sense of purpose and competence in their own lives and a belief that they can make a positive impact on their own lives and influence and change the lives of others – their peers, family and community.

Increase Pro-social Bonding – Provide your child with positive activities to do together that give them a sense of purpose and mastery in the situation.   Through mastery – a child develops self-efficacy by mastering their environment and learning that what he/she does makes a difference in the world.

Set Clear, Consistent Boundaries – Strike a balance between addressing concerns and getting back to a normal schedule. Boundaries are important to children because they give clear messages about what’s expected. Children need the safety of familiar rules and routines.

Set and Communicate High Expectations – Express your certainty that your child can cope with the situation and faith in their strength and inner resources.  When children have clear, consistent boundaries and high expectations, the are more likely they are to grow up healthy, because boundaries and expectations provide children with the support they need.

CHILDREN REACT DIFFERENTLY AT DIFFERENT AGES

In a crisis, children have similar feelings to adults. They often show their feelings in actions rather than words.

1–4 years: Thumb-sucking, bedwetting, fear of the dark, clinging to parents, nightmares, not sleeping or broken sleep, loss of bladder or bowel control, speech or feeding problems, fear of being left alone, irritable, fretful

5–10 years: Aggression, confusion, competing for attention, avoiding school, nightmares, poor concentration, tummy aches, headaches, fear of the dark, fear of being hurt or left alone

11–13 years: Changes in appetite, broken sleep, antisocial behavior, school problems, anxiety, aches and pains, skin problems, fear of losing friends and family, acting as if it hasn’t happened.

14–18 years: Physical problems (rashes, bowel problems, asthma attacks, headaches), changes in appetite and sleep, lack of interest in things they usually enjoy, lack of energy, antisocial behavior, poor concentration, guilt. Some of these are part of the ups and downs of this age too.

Here are some helpful books to ready to children

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A Terrible Thing Happened – A story for children who have witnessed violence or trauma

When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death

 Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss

 

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group you can contact her at: Kay@KayTrotter.com or 214-499-0396.

Dr Trotter also post regularly in her FaceBook fan page http://www.facebook.com/DrKaySudekumTrotter.

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A girl’s father is one of the most influential people in her life

Josh and Emery Widener

A father’s influence in his daughter’s life shapes her self-esteem, self-image, confidence and opinions of men.

What matters in the father-daughter relationship is that Dad seeks to live a life of integrity and honesty, avoiding hypocrisy and admitting his own shortcomings, so that she has a realistic and positive example of how to deal with the world.

He should try to model a reflective approach to life’s big questions so that she can seek to do the same.

To learn more on how to build a positive meaningful relationship with your child contact Dr. Kay Trotter at: 214-499-0396, Kay@KayTrotter.com or visit her web site http://www.KayTrotter.com

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Create a Sense of Safety After a Crisis

Child in crisisWhen reeling in the aftermath of the Connecticut school shooting, many children are easily overwhelmed with fear. In response to a crisis some children react with severe emotional responses — fear, grief, post-traumatic stress. Moreover, such experiences and other events that threaten a child’s sense of worth and well-being can produce intense personal distress.

Until things calm down after yesterdays school shooting, it will be normal for your child to show signs of worry and fear. They may have trouble eating or sleeping.

Two weeks from now, if your child still isn’t eating or sleeping normally, or shows other warning signs such as extreme irritability, melancholy, lethargy and reluctance toward or fear of activities he or she once enjoyed, call your pediatrician or seek counseling for your child.

CREATE A SENSE OF SAFETY 

Provide Caring and Support – Listen to your child’s concerns and answer their questions in direct, factual, age-appropriate ways. (Be careful of giving TOO MUCH information, especially with younger children.)

Children around 5 and younger don’t need to know. Very young children will only recently have mastered the skills of walking and talking, and they may not be able to express their anxieties and fears. Although you may think they are too young to understand what is happening, even very young children can absorb frightening events from the news or from conversations they overhear. Don’t let them watch news stories while they’re in the room. Wait for them to ask about what happened. If they don’t ask, continue business as usual.

Older children are likely to ask questions. You can initiate a conversation by saying, “I know you’re hearing and seeing a lot about what happened at the school in Connecticut. How does this make you feel?” Or select pictures in a book or ask the children to draw pictures to express feelings. Then talk about the pictures. Take the lead from the child as to how much they need to talk about and know about the situation. Keep answers to questions simple, giving only what is needed.

Listen to comments of children as they play. Are there clues here that need further conversation?

When there is a situation outside of the home that is frightening, limit the amount of news your children watch or listen to. You don’t need to hide what’s happening in the world from your children, but neither do they have to be exposed to constant stories that fuel their fears. Children may have trouble distinguishing between TV shows that blow up buildings, and the factual news reports of a tragic event. Explain, “Yes, this really did happen. It is a sad time, but we will come through it.”

Realize that extra stresses may heighten normal daily stresses. Your children might normally be able to handle a failed test or teasing, but be understanding that they may respond with anger or bad behavior to stress that normally wouldn’t rattle them. Reassure them that you just expect them to do their best.

Two main questions children are likely to think about, whether they actually ask them or not, are: “Could this happen to me or to someone I love?” Remember that a young child cannot understand, “We just have to trust in God.” They trust in parents, and parents are supposed to protect them. So, while the answers are never easy, again try to keep them simple. “We don’t expect this to ever happen to you or anyone you love. You are always loved and have a loving circle of family and friends.” People sometimes choose to do bad things.”

Be careful what you say in front of children. Keep your emotions in check. If we are lamenting the state of the world and saying things like “I’m afraid to go anywhere anymore,” children will start to feel the world is indeed a scary place.

Expressing Feelings – Provide opportunities for your child to express their feelings. Use toys, puppets, books, music, water play, play dough, painting, and puzzles (creating order out of chaos). Let your child know that you have some of the same feelings they have. Be honest about your feelings, but temper them. Encourage your child to communicate their thoughts and feelings. But balance is again the key: Don’t let the talk escalate and overwhelm children.

Provide Opportunities for Meaningful Participation – Help your child come up with ways they can address the crisis themselves: i.e., raising money, sending cards and letters, forming a Peace Club. Participation gives children a sense of purpose and competence in their own lives and a belief that they can make a positive impact on their own lives and influence and change the lives of others – their peers, family and community.

Increase Prosocial Bonding – Provide your child with positive activities to do together that give them a sense of purpose and mastery in the situation.   Through mastery – a child develops self-efficacy by mastering their environment and learning that what he/she does makes a difference in the world.

Set Clear, Consistent Boundaries – Strike a balance between addressing concerns and getting back to a normal schedule. Boundaries are important to children because they give clear messages about what’s expected. Children need the safety of familiar rules and routines.

Set and Communicate High Expectations – Express your certainty that your child can cope with the situation and faith in their strength and inner resources.  When children have clear, consistent boundaries and high expectations, the are more likely they are to grow up healthy, because boundaries and expectations provide children with the support they need.

CHILDREN REACT DIFFERENTLY AT DIFFERENT AGES

In a crisis, children have similar feelings to adults. They often show their feelings in actions rather than words.

1–4 years: Thumb-sucking, bedwetting, fear of the dark, clinging to parents, nightmares, not sleeping or broken sleep, loss of bladder or bowel control, speech or feeding problems, fear of being left alone, irritable, fretful

5–10 years: Aggression, confusion, competing for attention, avoiding school, nightmares, poor concentration, tummy aches, headaches, fear of the dark, fear of being hurt or left alone

11–13 years: Changes in appetite, broken sleep, antisocial behavior, school problems, anxiety, aches and pains, skin problems, fear of losing friends and family, acting as if it hasn’t happened.

14–18 years: Physical problems (rashes, bowel problems, asthma attacks, headaches), changes in appetite and sleep, lack of interest in things they usually enjoy, lack of energy, antisocial behavior, poor concentration, guilt. Some of these are part of the ups and downs of this age too.

For more information on crisis response and counseling, check out these resources:

How parents can help children through traumatic events

Roles Play Therapist plays Post-Disaster Engagement and Empowerment of Survivor

The Teachers Role When Tragedy Strikes

Here are resources that I find helpful for talking to children about violence and death: 

The American Academy of Pediatrics on School Shootings

University of Minnesota on Talking to Kids About Violence Against Kids

National Association of School Psychologists on Talking to Children About Violence

What I consider to be one of the best articles on talking to children about death (by Hospice)

Explaining the news to our kids from Common Sense Media.

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group you can contact her at: Kay@KayTrotter.com214-499-0396, or visit her web site http://www.KayTrotter.com.

Dr Trotter also post regularly in her FaceBook fan page http://www.facebook.com/DrKaySudekumTrotter.

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Parenting Your Teenager

By Dore Quinn, MEd, LPC – Dore is a licensed professional counselor, who works with those who are striving to overcome depression, anxiety, effects of sexual and physical abuse, grief, marital and parenting issues. Dore uses many different counseling modalities including traditional talk therapy, expressive art therapy, experiential therapy and play therapy (for the young ones).

I have often heard parents with young children lament the time when their child turns into a teen. For some reason, many look on that time with dread (could it be, perhaps, that many are thinking back to when they were a teen?). I have found the teen years to be fun, and quite different from having small children. There are many things we as parents can do to build a relationship with our teen.

To me, it begins with learning to allow our children to be his or her own person within the rules of the home.  I have often thought of how much easier this whole parenting thing would be if each child came with his/her own manual, but we all know they don’t.

I remember before having my first child thinking, “Wow…we are going to have it so easy between my easy-going personality (which I have since learned isn’t so easy-going) and their dad’s easy-going personality (which really is easy-going)!”  Yes, those of you with kids know how UNTRUE and naïve that thought is because what I didn’t realize at that time is that each child comes with his/her own personality.

Our children are not combinations of us, nor where they meant to be.  It took me a few years to recognize that I was trying to turn my oldest into a “mini-Dore” because the way I thought was the right way to think or else I wouldn’t be thinking it, right?   And yes, we clashed quite a bit until I realized what I was doing.  As I was going about trying to make her into a mini-me, I completely overlooked her own person.  The message I was sending without intending is that there was something wrong with her.

So then what was my job?  I determined that my job as a parent was not to turn her into a mini-me, but to love her, protect her, and teach her right from wrong.  It’s also important to not expect our children to be like their siblings.

In order to have a good relationship with your teen, home needs to be a safe haven from the rest of the world.  A saying that I have repeated over and over (and my kids can recite it verbatim) is that not everyone on the planet is going to love them, but their family will ALWAYS love them!

A good way to foster a “Home is a safe haven” environment is to NOT ALLOW sarcasm and nastiness among siblings.  We need to be sure we aren’t engaging in it as well, whether it is with a spouse or with our children.

Another important component of building a relationship with your teen is to learn to laugh.  Don’t be afraid to play and be playful.  We don’t always know the impact that having fun in our homes will have.  During my son’s first year of college out-of-state, he posted the following status on Facebook:  “To either Mom or Dad…whoever sees this first:  I was on Facebook with my iTunes on shuffle and “Love Will Keep us Alive” by The Eagles came on and it made me think about how a while back at the Buckner house on Saturday nights we would open all of the windows and the front door and play music on Dad’s stereo and dance around the living room…I’m tired of growing up.”  I had no idea that fun times such as that would be important to my son.

Lighten up!  Discipline on a “lighter note.”  For example, when your teen asks to come home one hour after his 12 o’clock curfew, instead of going into a long lecture on obedience, say something such as, “So what I hear you saying is, “Mom, I REALLY want to come home at 11:00?”  This is a much less intense confrontation.  Another example would be my son and I were joking around on the way to school, and he said something that was over the line.  We were pulling up to the school and I said, “Sorry Mom….” And he completely ignored me.  After he took two steps towards the front door of the school, I rolled down the window and said, “That’s okay…as soon as you get to the door I’m going to shout out to you if you remembered to take your anti-diarrhea medicine this morning.”  I got a prompt apology without offense being taken.

Another way to build a relationship with your teen is to learn to criticize less.  There is a distinct difference between consequences and criticism.

A CONSEQUENCE WOULD LOOK LIKE THIS

“Gee, since you chose to come home after curfew, you chose to not go out tomorrow.”

A CRITICISM LOOKS LIKE THIS

“Did you EVEN stop to think I would worry about you?  You are so irresponsible and don’t care about anyone but yourself!”

Criticism doesn’t address the actual problem; it merely makes a global statement about the other person’s character.  The problem with criticisms is that it elicits defensiveness, and seldom results in behavior change.  Especially be careful to not nit-pick the small things.

An example of nit-picking the small things would be giving your teen a hard time because he/she got a “B” on a test instead of an “A”.  Nit-picking results in a teen believing they can never do anything right in the eyes of the parent, so why bother?  Eventually they give up and then there are bigger problems.

Building a relationship with your teen can result in many years of joy and can offset the tough times that are bound to come along with your kids growing up

Keys to Remember

  • Allowing your children to be themselves
  • Not allowing meanness at home, learning to laugh
  • Disciplining with a lighter touch
  • Criticizing less

These are just a few ways to achieve a meaningful and fun relationship with your teen.

If it seems like a daunting task, pick one area and work to make one small change.

Even one small change will impact your relationship and your family in a positive way!

You can contact Dore at: 214-499-0396, Dore@KayTrotter.com or visit our web site www.KayTrotter.com.

Teen Depression is on the rise be sure you know the Warning Sings of Teen Depression 

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STAYING CONNECTED WITH YOUR TWEEN

Recently, I was asked to speak at a Middle School Parenting University and I wanted to share with you my 25-minute talk titled, “STAYING CONNECTED WITH YOUR TWEEN: 5 Keys You Need to Know”

As I prepared for my talk, my husband shared how, when our daughter was a pre-teen and in middle school, that he quickly learned he needed to be flexible during this time. Because, just like her developing hormones, one day she might act like she was 25 and the next day she would revert back to being his little girl.

HERE ARE THE 5 KEYS

1-Acknowledge vs. Dismiss

Many times parents dismiss their child’s feeling without even realizing it – How many times have you said:

“It’s just silly to feel that way.”

“You’ve been mad long enough.”

We would not like it if an adult said that to us and children are no different. If you dismiss a child’s feelings they don’t feel heard and they definitely don’t feel understood.

Instead, acknowledge how your child feels.

HOW?  By simply putting a name to what you see.

If you see they’re angry and frustrated put a name to it.

“You know what, it looks like your really frustrated.”

Acknowledging what it is they are feeling validates what they are feeling and lets them know that they have been heard.

By acknowledging them, you give them an awareness that you understand

2-Step Into Your Pre-Teen’s Reality

What this means is you are just going to LISTEN. Anything you try to do to fix things will just feel like an opinion or judgment to them. So, all your going to do is LISTEN and don’t try to fix it.

You’re going to actually  “step into what it feels like for them.”

Then you’re going to say, “Wow this sounds like a really difficult situation, and I can tell your trying to figure it out.  If you want or need my help on this one, please let me know.”

3-Teach Your Kids How To Manage Their Life

In the beginning stages, when children are younger, parents definitely manage their lives: we tell them what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. But, when they start entering into the pre-teen and teenage years, they start to pull away, (which is normal), and they don’t want you to always manage their life any more.

The problem is, they do not have the tools to manage their life, and so someone has to manage it for them. So, as you start to release the reins a bit, you need to start teaching them how to manage their life.

What this looks like is more of conservation. So, instead of getting angry with them because they are making mistakes, you talk about it. Ask them questions about the situation.

I’ve had parents ask me, “What if my daughter makes a mistake?” I tell them she is going to mistakes, we all do. But, knowing they are going to make mistakes, and that mistakes are good, they have a chance to learn though this process. Remember: you need to teach your child how to manage their life while you stop the process of managing it for them.

4-You Need Boundaries and Your Child to Be Able to Set Boundaries Too

The boundaries you set for your pre-teen are critical. They need to know that their weekday 9 o’clock bedtime means 9 o’clock. Not 5 minutes after, not 15 minutes after, and it does not mean they can try to negotiate it, 9 o’clock means 9 o’clock. Doing this is good for them so they really know where they are with you.

At this stage there is a lot of difference between a 6th grader and an 8th grader. I would suggest weekday bedtime curfew for 6th -7th graders be 9 o’clock. And most 8th graders are ready for a 10 o’clock bedtime curfew. On weekends you can extend their bedtime curfews by looking closely at each child’s individual sleep patterns. For example, say your child is night owl, like my nephew, so a weekend bedtime curfew an 8th grade night owl could be 1 o’clock in the morning.

Your child also needs to be able to have their boundaries for you as well. Just because they are pre-teens does not mean they don’t have rights. So, if they ask you, “Mom is there any way you can knock before you come into the bedroom?,” you need to respect that. Respect that they are setting a boundary.

If you want to teach your child to have boundaries, then you need to let your child to have boundaries as well. It’s really important that you have firm boundaries and they get to have boundaries as well.

5-Don’t Let Your Feelings Muddy the Water

Dealing with your own feelings around your pre-teen’s behaviorsIf you allow your fears to come into your child’s behavior you’re going to react to “your fears” and “not your child’s behavior” and it’s not going to be a good situation. Let’s say your child stayed up playing on the computer 45 minutes past their bedtime curfew and, when you discover this, it’s late, you’re tired, you’re worried too much computer time is hurting your child, you’e worried that if they are breaking this rule what other rules are they breaking that you don’t know about. So, you just react and say to them “You’re grounded from the computer. Get to your room and go to bed.” What do you think your child is thinking about when they go to their room? They are not thinking about what happened, their thinking about how their parents misunderstand them and how they don’t like their parents.

We don’t want that to be the lesson. We want the lesson to be – “When you say you’ll be in bed by 9, it’s really important that you keep your word and be in bed by then. If you want to develop a relationship based on trust and you want me to keep releasing the reins so you can manage your life, then you have to be a person of your word.” So you just sit with them and talk about that, so that the lesson comes out of it instead of their thinking about something different. It’s really important that you keep your fears out of it.

The first thing you might say to them is:

“Is everything OK? You’re 45 minutes past your bedtime.” And if they say, ”Yes, something did happen and this is what happened.” You give them the opportunity to explain what happened and then you can go into a teaching with them.

Or, if you choose to wait and address it with your child the next morning when you know you’ll be calmer, you might say this:

“It was very late when you finally went to bed last night.  It was past the time we agreed on.  I need to be able to trust you to follow thru on the things you say you will do.  It is important now and will only become more important as you get older.  We have to be able to trust each other.”

Here is a real-life situation from my sister and her pre-teen son that she shared with me:

“…. I got up to go to the bathroom and he was still up and it was way past bedtime curfew.  The first time, I just reacted and did the ‘mad thing’ and I do mean reacted; a gut response.  The next time it happened, I realized I was responding to ‘my fears’ and not ‘his behavior’ so, I took this approach…. he was in the other room on the computer and immediately turned it off and stealthily got into bed and feigned sleeping, once he realized I caught him.  I chose to let it go until the next day.  It was the weekend, so I knew I’d have time to speak with him the next day, which we did.  That was better because by then my gut was no longer in control, my heart was.  I sat down next to him so we were at the same level and we had a real conversation about trust.  I wasn’t mad and I spoke to him person-to-person; it was not a heated discussion or a one-way discussion.  We talked how important trust was, how it’s easy to lose and hard to earn back and why it was so important to me and to our relationship.  He shared how he felt as well.  I was heard and he was heard and he was reminded (because he already knew) how important the trust component is to our relationship and to his place as an upcoming young adult as well. 

“Thru our discussion I saw how important it was to him that I be able to believe the things he tells me; to trust he is telling the truth.  I also learned it is important to him that he doesn’t disappoint me.  We also discussed his ability to trust me.  He wants to trust I won’t cross his personal boundaries and trust that he is capable.  He wants to trust that I don’t read his email, for example.  I have his email password and he knows I could read his email at anytime, but he doesn’t want me to read it and needs to be able to trust me that I won’t.  I agreed I would not read his email without his permission but there may be a situation down the road that I would need to check his email, and I would ask for that permission first and with his full knowledge and I will stick to that.  I won’t break that trust, his trust of me is just as important as my trust of him. The conversation continued on from there, it actually went past the bedtime incident and into other things that were on his mind.”

OK PARENTS, THE 5 KEYS ARE:

  1. Acknowledge your child’s feelings
  2. Step into your pre-teens reality
  3. Help them learn how to manage their own life
  4. You Need Boundaries and Your Child to Be Able to Set Boundaries Too
  5. Don’t Let Your Feelings Muddy the Water

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group you can contact her at: Kay@KayTrotter.com214-499-0396, or visit her web site http://www.KayTrotter.com.

Dr Trotter also post regularly in her FaceBook fan page http://www.facebook.com/DrKaySudekumTrotter.

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Tasks of Childhood – Late Childhood Development Ages 8-11

“Communication and understanding are especially important at the late childhood stage of development”

Cognitive Stage: Children in this developmental stage use logical thinking but with a very limited ability to extend logic to abstract concepts (e.g. the disdain for imaginative and illogical thinking of early childhood). At this point, they have accumulated a lot of general knowledge and have gradually developed the ability to apply learned concepts to new tasks. They also have a frequent interest in learning life skills from adults at home and elsewhere (e.g. cooking, fixing things, etc.).

Moral Development: Children age 8-11 are predominantly focused in the needs and wants of themselves, although they have developed a conscience and move from thinking in terms of “What’s in it for me?” fairness (e.g. “If you did this for me, I would do that for you.”). They now want to gain social approval and live up to the expectations of people close to them. They tend to have a ”Golden Rule” morality where they can take the perspective of others and may place the needs of others over their own self-interest. However, their moral thinking abilities are not always reflected in their behavior.

Psychological and Emotional Traits: Children at this stage have a need to develop a sense of mastery and accomplishment with frequent interest in making plans and achieving goals. They learn from what parents and others do to make and fix things and have a tendency to be disorganized and forgetful.

“Early onset of puberty is associated with lower self-control and emotional instability.”

Self-Concept: Influenced by relationships with family members, teachers, and increasingly by their peers, often relatively, 8- to 11-year-olds have a low level of concern about their physical appearance (especially boys), although this is influenced by peers as well as the media. Many boys experience pressure to conform to “masculine” stereotype. Girls’ body image declines precipitously with puberty, especially with early onset puberty. Early onset puberty is also associated with lower self-control and emotional instability, especially for boys.

Relationship to Parents and Other Adults: Children in late childhood development tend to be closely attached to parental figures and parents increasingly need to involve these children in decision making while increasing responsibility with age. Most frequent conflicts occur over sibling quarrels and forgetfulness with respect to chores, schoolwork, and messiness, especially of their bedroom. Parental listening skills becomes increasingly important as the parent-child communication patterns can change with puberty. Many adolescents report that (a) they cannot talk with parents about issues related to sexuality, and (b) they do not get needed information in sex education courses at school.

Peer Relationships: Friendships among 8- to 11-year-olds are often with their same-gender peers and are usually based on proximity, common interest/hobbies, or other perceived commonalities. Girls usually have fewer, but emotionally closer, friends than boys. Formation of exclusive “clubs” and shifting peer alliances is common at this age and media influences and popular culture increasingly affect the child’s peer activities and relationships.

You can download the complete “Task of Childhood” brochure

4 Blog Series 

  1. Task of Childhood Development
  2. Tasks of Childhood – Late Childhood Development Ages 8-11
  3. Task of Childhood – Early Adolescent Development Ages 11-14
  4. Task of Childhood – Late Adolescent Development Ages 14-18 

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about her counseling practice, you can contact her at: Kay@KayTrotter.com214-499-0396, or visit her web site http://www.KayTrotter.com.

Dr Trotter also post regularly on her: Facebook Fan Page and Pinterest.

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The Task of Childhood Development – Ages 8-18

Boys on a forest road with backpacks

“The major task of childhood is to become “your own person”

The main tasks of childhood require children to learn, and this kind of learning is not just a matter of getting the right answer. Most important is to understand the meaning of the right answer. This is truly difficult work and it absolutely requires support from parents, relatives, and neighbors.

To help children grow up, parents need to be aware how their child is changing, growing, and developing. It is easy for a middle-aged adult to forget this fact, especially when confronted with a difficult problem. However, parents who are working on their own growth are in a good position to understand children and to respect what they are doing as they struggle to grow up and become good people in their own right.

Children progression through these stages is determined not only by biological growth and change, but also by temperament and personality, adult expectations, and social influences. Children learn to make choices and commitments, follow through with them, and stand up independently in the world. They need to be respected for taking on these tasks. After all, we respect adults who can do these things. They are complicated and courageous actions. However, children swing back and forth between dependence and independence as they work on these tasks. It is easy for parents to get frustrated. It is also easy for a parent to assume that if the child would simply follow the plan that makes sense to a parent, things would be all right in the end.

“Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them.”
-Richard L. Evans


Understanding your child’s moral, emotional, and self-development – the main tasks of childhood require children to learn, and this kind of learning is not just a matter of getting the right answer. Most important is to understand the meaning of the right answer. This is truly difficult work and it absolutely requires support from parents, relatives, and neighbors.

To help children grow up, parents need to be aware how their child is changing, growing, and developing. It is easy for a middle-aged adult to forget this fact, especially when confronted with a difficult problem. However, parents who are working on their own growth are in a good position to understand children and to respect what they are doing as they struggle to grow up and become good people in their own right.

My next blogs will include the characteristics of the “typical” child during each developmental stage from ages 8 to 18, including: Late Childhood 8-11, Early Adolescents 11-14, and Late Adolescents 14-18. Illustrating how children’s progression through these stages is determined not only by biological growth and change, but also by temperament and personality, adult expectations, and social influences.

You can download the complete “Task of Childhood” brochure

4 Blog Series 

  1. Task of Childhood Development
  2. Tasks of Childhood – Late Childhood Development Ages 8-11
  3. Task of Childhood – Early Adolescent Development Ages 11-14
  4. Task of Childhood – Late Adolescent Development Ages 14-18 

† Source: Middle Childhood and Adolescent Development, Oregon State University Extension Service.

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about Kaleidoscope Counseling please call 214-499-0396

Dr Trotter also post regularly on her: Facebook Fan Page and Pinterest.

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Does your child watch DVDs in the Car? It could be hurting their vocabulary?

No DVD Please

By Laura Hickman

Guest Author – Laura Hickman lives in Linden, VA and is a homeschool mom of 4 children, aged 6-12.  She graduated from The George Washington University in 1992 with a degree in Business Administration and a minor in Psychology.  She is an aspiring Equine Specialist and hopes to have her own farm in the near future.

Four years ago, we decided it was time to purchase a new vehicle for our family of six.  After weeks of researching the type of vehicle, it was time to negotiate price and options!  There were only two things I knew I had to have, and one of them, to the astonishment of our dealer, was NOT a DVD player!

With four active kids “test driving” each car in the showroom, our salesman must have thought we’d lost our minds!  After all, weren’t TV the greatest babysitter and bearer of peace known to parent-kind?  Conceptually, I’d have to agree.  Television IS a convenient device for the tired and mentally weary parent.  And maybe, even more so for the tired, weary, home school parent of multiple children!

Obviously, there are good, wholesome educational programs available.  But if we are constantly plugging our children into a TV, or any electronic device for that matter, what are we teaching them?  What are they missing?

I contend that we are teaching them at least two things.  First, we are teaching them to just do the easy thing.  Reading, thinking and communicating are work!  A child has to not only learn to decode 26 symbols in a dizzying number of combinations, but he or she has to put those seemingly random combinations into context, and finally, they have to take the context of the material and apply it to themselves.  “What does this mean to me?”  With TV, all the work is done for them.  They are told what the pictures are and what the information should mean to them.  The TV becomes their source of truth, rather than mom and dad.

Secondly, I believe we are teaching them that they are not worthy of our investment.  As parents we are all tired at the end of the day.  Whether we spent the day in the workforce, or whether we spent the day educating our own children at home.  We are not as young as we used to be and constantly answering questions and repeatedly disciplining for the same behavior is mentally exhausting.  We want ‘mommy time’!

There is a time and a place for ‘mommy time’, (or ‘daddy time’ as the case may be) but as with all things, it must be in balance with our responsibilities as parents

As we are driving along, I grab the disk case, slide the disk into the player and breathe a deep sigh of relief as peace settles over the van.  Another audio-book begins to work its magic.

‘An audio-book?’ you question.  You’d be surprised how well they will capture the attention of your children.  Not only will you experience peace and quiet as they are drawn into the story, but your kids will benefit as well.  There have been many a time when my youngest boy garnered praises from complete strangers.  The first time was just before he turned 4.  The Staples employee, with whom he had struck up a conversation, could not believe he was able to have such a coherent conversation at age 3!!  I think he must have been explaining centrifugal force (his favorite conversation starter at the time).

Does this mean we never watch movies in the van?  Of course not!  But we do limit it to long trips (more than 2 hours), and we limit the number of movies allowed.  But by not having a permanent DVD player in the van it is much less tempting for me to give into their desire to watch TV wherever we go!!

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