Biting

Everyone is challenged by frustration, viagra buy no matter what his or her age may be. Frustrated kids physically attack their siblings; frustrated teenagers talk back to their parents; and frustrated adults say and do all kinds of things they later regret. However, recipe no one except for toddlers has any excuse for engaging in hurtful behaviors! Toddlers lash out because they’re too little and too verbally challenged to handle their upset in more mature ways. Still, it is the job of parents to teach their small children both how to refrain from aggressive behaviors and also how to express anger in acceptable ways.

Frustrated Toddlers
The first lessons in frustration management begin when a child is just out of babyhood. Babies get frustrated due to fatigue, hunger, tummy upset, physical discomfort, wanting to be held and so forth. The only thing they can do about it is cry. Once a child learns a few words, he has a few more options. Instead of just crying, he can say things like “no want” or “want Mommy.” By communicating his or her needs, the child will be less frustrated and will be able to release a bit of the frustration that he or she encounters. As the toddler acquires a more elaborate vocabulary, it becomes more and more possible for him or her to reduce and relieve frustration.

However, the baby ways will still persist for a while as well. For example, frustrated toddlers will still sometimes be at a loss for words and just cry in frustration instead. Sometimes they will thrash about like earlier versions of themselves, flailing and stamping their feet. Often they’ll throw an item (a toy, some food or other object). Although these early expressions of frustration are normal in toddlers, parents still must intervene with “frustration education.” Even little kids can begin to learn to express their frustration in words.

Discovering that Biting “Works”
Many toddlers learn quite accidentally, that biting or otherwise hurting someone, is a particularly satisfying way to release feelings of helpless anger and frustration. At first, such a behavior is the product of desperation, adrenalin and infantile problem-solving skills. However, learning occurs rapidly when the toddler discovers the “power” of his or her violent action. The victim screams in sudden pain! The toddler realizes that he or she can actually use violence on purpose in order to communicate strong emotion.

Although many toddlers limit the use of their power to other people their size, they can and do also try it out on their caregivers. While they will sometimes attack teachers and babysitters, their favorite targets are often their parents. How should parents handle a biting/kicking/scratching/hurting toddler?

Helping Toddlers Stop Biting
Toddlers are too young for “real” discipline. Although some two-year-olds seem to understand the concept of negative consequences (i.e. “if you hit Mommy you’ll have to sit in a thinking chair”), most very small children do not really benefit from formal discipline. Discipline becomes more effective after around the age of 3. Even then, parents are just introducing the structure of discipline in tiny steps to these youngest candidates. Although many parents put a child in a crib for a few moments for biting, this strategy usually acts only to stop the present moment aggression. It is a “time-out” that  does virtually nothing to prevent the biting behavior in the future. Discipline that doesn’t “cure” the behavior is not discipline at all and should not be used (the word “discipline” means “to teach” – if the strategy is not teaching the child not to bite, there is no point in using it). However, there are always exceptions: if you’re child is biting less often because you have given him or her a time-out or another punishment, then your intervention IS working and you can continue to use it.

Most parents of toddlers will have to refrain from using discipline for biting and instead, address the misbehavior by managing attention. This means that a parent gives strong, positive attention to desirable behaviors and little or very mild attention to undesirable behaviors (like biting). (Distraction can also be used in these early years to simply steer a child away from undesirable or unacceptable activities that are not aggressive or hurtful.) There is a natural tendency, however, for parents to give LOTS of attention to undesirable behaviors. For instance, they may actually yell at a child who is biting. That yelling is an overdose of attention, sure to encourage lots more biting! Parents have to overcome their natural tendencies in order to restrain themselves when their youngster bites them, other adults or other children.

When Toddlers Bite Caregivers
It is essential that a child be stopped immediately from being aggressive toward his or her caregivers for several reasons. Parents must be seen as benevolent authority figures. This allows them to lovingly guide the development of their youngsters, teaching them right from wrong. A child must therefore learn early that he or she is not to attack the parent either physically or verbally. It is just as out-of-line to do so as it would be for an adult to attack a police officer physically or verbally! In addition, children need their parents’ affection in order to develop optimally. However, parents don’t tend to like their aggressive, violent youngsters as much as they like their cooperative, respectful ones. Teaching the child to be respectful is therefore in the child’s best interest – for this reason as well as myriad other reasons. The lesson begins right at the beginning; even small children are not permitted to behave obnoxiously. Of course, toddlers and pre-schoolers will all behave quite badly at times, but parents must step in and begin the process of gentle, but firm, loving guidance. It’s just not O.K. to bite parents, babysitters, teachers or other caregivers.

Toddlers can be discouraged from biting adults by experiencing the withdrawal of positive attention. Parents can display a strong differentiation between their normal, pleasant, kind, loving selves and their very displeased, uninterested self that comes forth when the child bites or hits. Thus, they may be playing happily with the child when something happens that causes the child to become violent. Now the parent looks seriously displeased, uses a very brief stern reprimanding “NO!” and quickly moves away  from the youngster. The parent should not engage in any sort of lecture or education (this actually provides too much attention for the misbehavior which can accidentally reinforce or encourage more of that behavior.) The parent should also not use a sing-song, soft voice, gently breathing out “no-o-o-o-o, don’t bite Mommy.” The voice must be short and firm (not angry). The facial expression should not be  friendly or gentle, but rather very business-like. This sort of “rejection” (really, more a temporary withdrawal of otherwise flowing positive affection) should not be used for other types of misbehavior, but only reserved for a child’s physically hurtful, aggressive actions (like biting). The trick here is to reserve the icy cold rejecting voice for this one behavior only. The child must immediately see that this is a behavior that the parent doesn’t like. It is essential that the contrast between this harsh face of the parent and the parent’s normal, regular, routine and consistent pleasant face be strong and clear. If the parent is routinely displeased, regularly irritated, often angry, etc., then there will be insufficient contrast to be able to effectively use this technique. Most toddlers who are used to a parent’s gentle, loving ways, will quickly learn to refrain from biting and hurting when this differentiation strategy is employed.

When Toddlers Bite Other Children
A similar use of withdrawal of attention can be used when a child bites another child. If the biting occurs in the school setting, parents should ask the teacher NOT to speak to the child about the biting behavior. Remember: one-on-one time with the teacher, intense direct eye-contact and a few minutes of speaking to the child all constitutes a highly reinforcing form of attention. With all that “quality time” with the teacher, the youngster is much more likely to bite again. Instead, the teacher should say only two words – “No biting” – and have the child sit in a time-out chair facing away from the classroom activity (i.e. facing a wall) for a couple of minutes. The other, non-biting children will be getting the teacher’s attention and the little biter will have lost a few minutes of attention.

The same sort of intervention can be used at home: everyone else remains “part of the scene” but the biting toddler is given the cold shoulder. As discussed above, the “thinking chair” can be used with children 3 years old and up.

If the toddler bites another child, the VICTIM should be given all the attention. The victim’s parent or caregiver should be given lots of apologies in the form of “I’m so sorry – we’ll be doing something about this after the play-date – we’re working on preventing this behavior.” If it is O.K. with the parent or caregiver, the victim can be offered a treat as compensation. Meanwhile the little biter gets virtually NO attention and certainly no treats! Minimizing words, eye contact and physical contact to a biting toddler is one way to strongly discourage the behavior in the future.

Frequent Biters
Consider Bach Flower Therapy for a child who frequently bites others. The remedies Impatiens, Cherry Plum, Chestnut Bud, Holly and Vine can be used. However, it is best to consult a Bach Flower Practitioner to create an appropriate, individually tailored remedy bottle that can help reduce the biting tendency in your toddler. You can find more information about Bach Flower Remedies online and throughout this site.

If your child is not responding to your interventions and is so aggressive that he or she is being “expelled” from nursery schools, then consult a mental health professional for further guidance.

Toilet Training

Learning to use the potty is a huge developmental milestone for a baby. Putting the little guy in underwear even changes his look from “baby” to “kid.” It makes him or her “one of us.” The baby is usually as proud of this accomplishment as the parents.

There are many ways for parents to help their babies learn how to use a potty or toilet. However, there are some important parenting principles that will apply no matter what method of toilet training is used. Every child will eventually get out of diapers and start to wear underpants. What most parents don’t realize is that the way they train the child teaches him much more than how to use the toilet!

When is My Child Ready for Potty Training?
Parents are teaching toddlers how to be people, how to handle life, how to show love and approval. They do this teaching through feeding, holding, diapering and—yes—toilet training! It’s the way  parents do all this that conveys a wealth of information about life to the tiny tot. Is the parent a gentle teacher? Or rough? Rushed or patient? Calm or stressed out? Does the parent respect the child’s feelings or trod over them with a steam roller?

Potty training is a powerful venue for all of these lessons. To begin with, the very timing of potty training shows whether or not parents are in tune with their youngsters’ rhythms and emotions. Parents who start before the child is ready may have their own agenda that they are trying to impose on the baby. It’s more about what the parent needs or wants than what is actually right for the child. In some cultures, this is simply a practical need of parents—in places where there is no easy way to wash diapers, for example. In our culture, it can be about desiring a “natural” way of parenting or it can be a desire to show off one’s baby’s “talent.” Whatever the case, attempting to train a child before the child is physically ready (which typically occurs somewhere between 18 months & 24 months) is not acting in concert with the child’s development. This can also be the case when parents wait too long to start toilet training a youngster. Some parents are not eager to train their babies because they know that the process itself can be time-consuming and messy and that it will rob them of some sense of control of their own schedule. Having to run to the bathroom all day with a toddler-in-training is indeed inconvenient. Parents can change diapers more or less according to their own schedule and convenience. Parents who feel overwhelmed with the demands of their other tasks may therefore decide to wait awhile in the hopes that the child will train himself eventually. Unfortunately, many parents miss the toilet-sensitive period this way. They are out of touch with their child’s stage of development.

Tuning into the child’s readiness level is an important parenting skill. It applies to everything that a parent wants to teach a youngster. The optimum time for teaching is when the child shows the prerequisite skill set. Waiting too long can mean that the child will have more trouble learning the skill or may never quite get it. This is as true for teaching children how to clean their rooms as it is for toilet training!

When is a Child Ready to be Trained? There are Several Signs:

  • The child is dry for longer periods of time during the day
  • The child has a couple of well-formed bowel movements during the day instead of frequent loose movements
  • The child stops having bowel movements in her night diaper
  • The child has the dexterity to run to the bathroom and to pull off clothing
  • The child already knows how to follow simple instructions and is cooperative (i.e. is not thick into the defiant “no” stage that is typical of early toddlerhood).

Most of these developmental tasks occur naturally around 2 years of age. Although there are individual differences, the order of control usually goes like this:

  • The child stops having night-time bowel movements
  • The child attains daytime bowel control
  • The child attains daytime bladder control
  • The child attains night-time bladder control

Parents can help a child get ready for training by teaching some potty words. For instance, when the diaper is wet, a parent can say, “Oh you made a pee.” When it is dirty, the parent can say “Oh you made a poo (or word of your choice).” When the child is obviously having a bowel movement, the parent can say “You’re making a poo? O.K. when you’re done we’ll change your diaper.” During this stage, the parent can begin to bring picture books home from the store or library that show babies going through the potty-training process. This “bibliotherapy” (use of books to help reduce anxiety and create readiness) can be very helpful. Toddlers love to look at picture books and read them over and over and over again. The frequent exposure helps them become familiar with the steps they will soon be going through. Once you start formally training your baby, the books will provide added educational support.

Introduce the Function of the Potty or Toilet Chair
When you feel that your child is ready to be toilet trained, you can but a potty chair or a smaller version of the toilet chair designed specifically for toddlers and young children. (Some parents skip the potty chair and goe straight to the toilet; this is fine too.) Start the lesson by encouraging your child to sit on the potty chair, even with his clothes on, so that he can feel comfortable with it.

Then you can begin introducing to your toddler what the potty seat is for. For example, you can get the contents of a soiled diaper and dump it into the potty. If you notice from your child’s movements and/or expression that he or she is about to pee or move bowels, then you can take him or her to the seat or toilet to perform the task there.

One method for encouraging use of the toilet or potty is to allow the child to run about the house naked for a few days. When the child begins to urinate or defecate, scoop him or her up and let him or her finish the job on the toilet or potty. Although this method is a bit messy (the floor or carpet may get soiled), it is also very quick and effective. The child quickly learns the right place to deposit his or her goods.

Another trick that some parents use is to show a child how to control the flow of urine in a bathtub. This is particularly suitable for little boy toddlers. When the child wakes up dry from a nap (or, does not have a soaking diaper after a night’s sleep), take the child to the bathtub right away. Turn the tap on to let a little water run. Have the child standing in the middle of the tub, with legs slightly spread. He is most likely to start to urinate. Show pleasure! Tell him that he is making pee-pee (or use whatever words you like). This can serve as the little guy’s introduction to the functions of his body and the control he can exercise over it. After doing this once or a few times, simply take the child straight to the toilet or potty when he wakes up in a fairly dry state.

Consistency is the Key
As in other aspects of parenting, consistency is the key. Once potty-training starts, it needs to be seen through to the end. You can’t put a diaper on the child one day, underpants the next, a diaper when going out, nothing when running around the house. The best way to avoid even wanting to do this is to start potty training when you really feel the child is fully ready. Then, the diaper goes off and it stays off (at least, during the daytime). Some parents put the baby in cloth diapers for a couple of months just so that the child can feel the wetness that he won’t feel in a disposable diaper. This encourages kids to want to stay dry and fresh. Once potty training begins, thick training pants can be used to help avoid large messes while continuing to let the child feel wet.

At first, the parent must guess when the child needs to go to the bathroom. This guess can become fairly accurate by observing the child before training commences and once it begins. How long after eating or drinking does the child typically wet a diaper or the floor? Just before that time, take the child to the potty to try to use it. Don’t make her sit there for more than a few minutes. This just teaches sitting behavior! If nothing happens, take her off and bring her back every 20 minutes until she has been able to produce something. Acknowledge the accomplishment with happy praise. This will be sufficient. Children are very pleased with themselves for managing to use the toilet. There is no need to offer treats for good performance.

Bring the child to the potty as often as you feel you need to in order to avoid having wet clothes or furniture. After a few days, he or she will get the picture. However, it can be months before the child reliably tells YOU that a bathroom break is in order. Praise the child for interrupting himself to go the bathroom. Praise him for having dry underpants throughout the day. Keep the pressure off but keep the expectations up. This means, avoid any show of anger or displeasure but ignore all requests for diapers with a firm “no more diapers.”

Toilet Training Accidents
There is no one smooth accident-free path to toilet training. Along the road to independence from diapers are plenty of accidents—wetting and soiling clothes, floors and furnishings. For parents, this can mean lots of frustration. It is essential that parents remember that they are always teaching their kids more than how to sit on a potty: they are also teaching them everything about how to be a human being, including how to handle setbacks, frustration and upset.. If parents get irritated and impatient and show their frustration in unkind ways (yelling, looking mad, threatening), then little people learn that “it’s my way or the highway; things must go the way I want them to or I become nasty.”On the other hand, if parents just shrug and say “Oops. You’ve had an accident. Let’s clean up.” the child learns that mistakes are not the end of the world, solving a problem is more important than having a problem, people can stay calm in the face of things going wrong and, most important, learning is a gradual process, all about trial and error.

The younger a child is when he starts the training process, the longer it may take him to become accident-free. This just means that parents must be patient longer. Sometimes children develop anxiety around toilet-training. Sometimes it happens because the child is being trained at a late stage where his bowel habits have become entrenched. Most often it occurs in toddlers who have a bit of an anxious streak in their genetic make-up. This group may be fearful, phobic or anxious about other things besides toilet training. The anxiety is almost always about letting go of a bowel movement. Somehow, the diaper provides a safe, familiar experience whereas the potty or toilet seems threatening. Anxious kids often benefit from taking Bach Flower Therapy for a few weeks (you can find more information about Bach Flower Therapy online and throughout this site). This eases the anxiety and then a carefully structured toilet-training process can be undertaken.

Even when a child has been fully trained, accidents will still occur. Even after a child is mostly toilet-trained he or she will often continue to have accidents for a year or two. Just as commonly, a child will be predictably clean and dry for a year and then start to have accidents. This confuses parents who thought that the child was way past the stage of having accidents. However, it often occurs as the child becomes more involved in the world around him and just doesn’t want to interrupt play or activities in order to go to the bathroom. Kids of 5 or even 6 still behave this way on occasion. Don’t use shaming or anger to help cure this behavior. Instead, remind the child to go the bathroom a little more often. Also, when the trained child has an accident, take him or her to the bathroom afterward and make him or her sit on the toilet for a few minutes. This teaches the child that no time will be saved by not going to the bathroom, since he or she will end up having to go in any case.

Nighttime toilet training tends to occur spontaneously. Most kids just start waking up dry. However, many children will not be trained at night till a year or longer after they are daytime trained. And some kids will continue to wet the bed for a very long time, even into adolescence. For concerns about nighttime wetting, talk to your pediatrician. There are various treatments that can help.

No matter how many accidents your child has, keep in mind that your child WILL be completely toilet-trained sooner or later. But most importantly, your child will be emotionally trained as well. Your style of doing potty training gives your child the tools he or she will need for every learning experience.

Baby Wakes Up at Night

You can’t blame exhausted parents for trying – they want their 8 hours of sleep back! So they read every book on the market and scour the online resources. “Rock your baby, don’t nurse her,” “Walk your baby till she falls asleep and then gently lay her in her crib,” “Sing to your baby while patting his back until he drifts off,” “Don’t pick her up again, just talk to her,” “let her cry 10 minutes before you come to her and then don’t pick her up,” and so on and so on. Many people offer advice about how to get a baby to sleep through the night because somewhere, for some baby, this advice actually worked at least once. However many, if not most, babies will defy your get-him-to-sleep strategies and continue waking up several times a night for—brace yourself—several years.

Why aren’t people aware of this fact? Because the popular culture suggests that if parents just do it right, their babies will be sleeping through the night by 4 – 6 months of age. Feeling embarrassed and inadequate, most parents with wakeful 8 month-olds or 2 year-olds simply don’t tell the truth to anyone. “Is your baby sleeping through the night?” the mom at the Moms & Babes group asks.  “Oh, yes. He sleeps quite nicely,” lies the other mom for fear of admitting what a failure she is at this tender stage of the game. Her lie only goes into the large pile in the sky that makes other normal parents feel guilty and ashamed. She should have answered, “Gosh no! Babies aren’t supposed to sleep through the night! Yours doesn’t, does he?”

Why Do Babies Wake Up?
Infants need things in the night. Their little bellies empty every couple of hours and for the first year or so, they actually get hungry in the night. In addition, when babies cycle into light sleep, they “realize” that they are alone; they crave warm body contact and cry out for it. In the second year of life, nursing babies suckle for the same reason—no longer just out of hunger (because their tummies have grown and can hold more food), but now out of longing for physical contact. Some babies are sensitive to the sensations of their own bodies and will wake with discomfort from a wet or dirty diaper.

All of this waking has been programmed into babies for their survival. If you were a paraplegic without a wheelchair or other equipment, unable to speak the local language and unable to get yourself from point A to point B,would you want to be left alone for 8 hours at a time? Probably not. You would want to know there was someone near by who could meet your needs. Have you ever been stuck in a dentist’s chair or other restraining medical device for 15 minutes without someone in the room? Did you feel a twinge of the panic of helplessness in that situation? What if you needed something? What if you wanted to tell someone something?

Babies are in that position until they become toddlers. They are helpless. To top it all off, they are like foreigners—unable to speak the local language. They open their mouths but they cannot put their needs and wishes into words; they can just make noise.  For all these reasons, babies are programmed to be distressed about finding themselves alone. It just isn’t safe for them to be alone. There are serious survival issues going on. They wake up for contact to in order to assure that they will be looked after. This is not something that we want to program babies out of any more than we would want to program adults out of their scream response when faced with life-threatening danger.

Training Babies to Sleep Through the Night
Nonetheless, removing survival instincts can be accomplished, if we only persevere long enough. By ignoring a baby’s cries consistently, the baby will learn that no one will come and there is no point in crying anymore. If this experience only occurs at night, the baby learns that there is no point waking up at night. For parents, this translates into a baby who sleeps through the night. If it happens both day AND night, the baby goes into a hopeless depression (as seen in “failure to thrive” syndromes), since he “realizes” that he has been abandoned and there is no further hope of getting his needs met (and therefore no further reason to keep trying to bring help through crying). Fortunately, for most babies, the “abandonment” experience is happening only at night. However, the newly subdued baby has still learned that there is no point in crying. This will not lead to hopeless depression. In fact, in babies who are now enjoying a better night’s sleep, we may even see improved daytime mood.

Here is the problem however: if a baby quickly catches on to the idea that crying at night is a waste of time, there is minimal suffering on the baby’s part. However, if the baby has the “not-so-good sleep genes” that cause him to put up a royal battle, screaming for weeks or months  before he finally submits to the new regime, then it could be that the child is truly suffering. What this does to his long term development is simply not known. Some say it does nothing. Others say that it causes trauma. More research is required before we will know the truth.

Tired Parents
Even if parents do not want their babies to feel abandoned, it is not clear that responding to their every cry at night is the action of choice. After all, tired parents also pose a risk for babies. Tired parents have less patience with their children and are therefore more likely to engage in poor parenting techniques like snapping at the kids (including the baby), yelling or speaking in a harmful way. Fatigue causes more daytime errors including driving more dangerously, forgetting to turn off electric elements and putting the baby down in unsafe locations “just for a moment.” Exhausted parents can even dose off during the day when they need to be alert. Therefore, it is essential that parents find a way to balance their own needs for sleep with their babies’ needs for night-time wakings. This is especially important because night-time waking happens, as stated earlier, in the majority of homes—not the minority. And, it continues for the early years of childhood in many homes. Therefore a coping strategy is badly needed!

Here are some strategies that parents have found to be helpful. Not all will be practical for your own situation, therefore simply choose any that might fit into your own lifestyle:

  • Keep the baby in bed with you and DON’T get out of bed the entire night (see Dr. Sears’ books on attachment parenting for details of co-sleeping techniques and strategies). Although you’ll still be waking in the night to tend to the baby’s needs, you’ll need to expend less energy doing so.
  • Keep toddlers on a small crib-size mattress on the floor near your bed. At first, they can start in your bed and when they fall asleep, you can gently place them on the floor mattress beside you.
  • Have the baby or toddler sleep on a large mattress on the floor in her own room. When you wake up, go to the child’s bed and sleep there the rest of the night.
  • Tend to the baby in his crib when he cries at night. In the daytime, hire a daily baby-sitter and take a nap for a couple of hours. If the baby is in play group or daycare and you are at home, take your nap during those hours.
  • Alternate “baby duty” with your spouse. Whoever tends to the baby at night, gets a one or two hour evening nap the next day while the sleeping spouse takes responsibility for house & childcare.
  • Alternate night-time shifts with your spouse so that neither of you gets completely exhausted. For example, one answers cries until 2 a.m. and one answers cries after 2 a.m.
  • Use weekends to catch up on sleep. One spouse sleeps in late on Saturday; the other sleeps in late on Sunday.

As you can see, all of these strategies address the problem of night-time waking by assuming it is going to happen, parents are going to be tired and they will need to make up the sleep somehow. This approach is more in line with reality than trying to get babies and young children to stay asleep all night long. But here’s the good news: once kids are around 4 years old, there are effective strategies that can be used to really keep them in their beds throughout the night. By the time a child is this age, he can speak and walk; he is no longer totally helpless. He is familiar with his world and is achieving a level of competence. No harm will be done now by insisting that he stay in his own bed. So just hang in there. Sleep is coming. That is, until your child turns 15. Then you’ll be up at night again—waiting for him to come home. Sigh.

Bed-Wetting

Bed-wetting (also called “nocturnal enuresis”) is not a “behavior problem” – rather it is a physical problem. There are many possible reasons for nighttime accidents, including:

  • Small bladder. If a child’s bladder isn’t fully developed, it may not be big enough to hold all the urine produced during the night.
  • Genetic factors. Parents who were bed-wetters themselves have a higher chance of having children who are bed-wetters. When nocturnal enuresis is genetically inherited, the problem can persist for longer than usual. For instance, it can be a family tendency that the kids still wet their beds past 7 or 8 years of age. Indeed, in some cases bed-wetting can continue right through adolescence (and even into adulthood). Medical treatments can usually provide significant relief.
  • Poor signals. The child fails to awaken when the bladder is full because the brain is not registering the “full” signal.
  • Slow or delayed nervous system development.

Bed-wetting may also be an indication of another medical problem, including sleep apnea, diabetes, urinary tract infection, problems with the urinary system, or constipation. If wet nights are consistent, talking to a doctor about the problem is recommended. Bed-wetting can also result from emotional stress such as occurs when parents are fighting frequently, someone in the family is ill, there are significant changes in the child’s life, he or she is being bullied or abused, a new baby is born into the family, or when any other form of stress is present in the child’s life.

Distinguishing between Normal and Not Normal Bed-Wetting
Bed-wetting is common in households with young children. At which age can parents expect bed-wetting to stop? How can parents tell if their child is going through a normal developmental phase or if their child has some sort of problem that requires professional attention?

Bed-wetting is common and normal for children under the age of 5. However, by the age of 6, bed-wetting should be a rare occurrence. If it is still happening twice per month in this age group, it can be considered a medical problem that should be attended to. Although the doctor may find that everything is perfectly normal and simply prescribe “patience,” it is important to rule out possible medical issues at this stage.

In addition, if a child starts wetting his bed after long periods of dry nights, or if he experiences pink or painful urination, unusual thirst, or snoring, he should be seen by a doctor.

Stopping Bed-Wetting
Bed-wetting in young children usually stops on it’s own so it’s best not to start any treatment until the child is six or seven years-old (although it is sometimes started earlier if the bed-wetting is damaging the child’s self-esteem and/or relationship with family/friends). Helpful treatments and techniques may include:

  • Bed-wetting alarms – these sound a loud tone when they sense moisture and can help by conditioning the child to wake up at the sensation of a full bladder
  • Decreasing the consumption of liquids before bedtime
  • Praising the child when he has a dry night
  • Avoiding punishments, reprimands and other signs of disapproval
  • Waking the child at night  to empty his bladder
  • Encouraging the child to go to the bathroom before bedtime
  • Diapers, pull-ups or absorbent underwear can be helpful in managing bed-wetting (and is especially helpful in avoiding embarrassment at sleepovers or similar activities)

Some medications such as anti-diuretic hormone nasal spray or tricyclic anti-depressants may also help. If the bed-wetting is occurring due to emotional stress, consulting a child or adolescent psychiatrist or psychologist can be helpful.

Child Hurts the New Baby

It is common for toddlers and small kids to be rough with a new baby.  They sometimes hug the infant a little too long or a little too hard (or both). Sometimes they pinch, squeeze or even hit the poor little baby. What prompts them to behave this way? What can parents do about it?

If your little one is hurting the new baby, consider the following tips:

Don’t Ask Why
Toddlers don’t know why they hurt the baby, so don’t bother asking them why they are being so rough. For instance, don’t say, “Why do you do that? Don’t you love your new sister?”  Your youngster has no insight into the matter. In fact, when your child approaches the baby to touch her soft skin or look at her big eyes, he generally has no intention of hurting her. However, within moments, “something” overtakes him and his arms lash out as if they are running on their own power. When his parents start yelling at him for hurting the baby, he is often genuinely surprised at the sudden turn of events. Why is everyone mad at him again? Why did his arms do that?

Inner Conflict
Since it isn’t the conscious mind that is misbehaving, there is really no point in talking to the toddler’s conscious mind. That is, don’t waste your time telling him to be nice to the baby or not to hurt the baby. Don’t ask him why he is hurting the baby. None of this will help at all.

Instead, it’s more helpful to work with the unconscious mind. The toddler’s behavior is showing what the unconscious mind is feeling: anger. The youngster has been replaced with a special little bundle that is demanding everyones attention. This is making the toddler feel displaced, ignored, neglected, sad and jealous. But it is also making him mad. He wants to get rid of this intruder who is ruining his party.

Parents can speak directly to the unconscious mind by naming the anger. “Oh, I see that there’s a part of you that is mad at Baby Jenny.” (This statement is very true. Only part of your toddler resents the baby. Other parts of your child are both loving and intensely protective of the infant.) After naming the feeling, you can try to help the mad and hurting part: “We can’t hurt the baby. What we CAN do is make your mad part feel better.  Would you feel better if you could sit in Mommy’s lap for awhile? Do you need some more stories or maybe a treat?” and so on.  Acknowledging, accepting and addressing the pain of the hurting part helps the hurting part to calm down.

Avoid Punishment
Interestingly, direct interventions like punishment generally have no positive effect on rough toddler behavior. In fact, the more the parents punish a toddler for hurting a baby, the more the toddler tends to hurt the baby. Sometimes, giving positive attention for GENTLE behavior can be helpful in reducing rough behavior. Try using the CLeaR Method – comment, label, reward (see Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice for details). “You’re touching the baby so softly. That’s so gentle of you – what a good brother you are. I think that deserves a big kiss/extra story/etc.”

Help the Child Bond with the New Baby
Allowing your older child to still be a baby can help reduce feelings of anger, insecurity and jealousy. Refer to your little ones (the new baby and the other children) as “little ones” – as in, “Good Morning, Little Guys! How are all my little people doing this morning?” By linking the other small children with the baby, the children feel that they haven’t lost out – they are still loved in that special baby-love way. In fact, be careful not to promote the small children to “big boy” or “big girl” now that the baby is here – unless they’re teenagers, they aren’t big yet! Let the whole group be little and you’re more likely to see a strong, loving bond forming between the children and the baby and a little less likely to see physical aggression.

Interestingly, it’s best NOT to give an older child more individual attention at this time because this behavior sends the message that there is not enough love to go around. Instead, try to include the older ones with the baby in one big, happy family. “Let’s take the baby to the park with us,” or “Let’s let the baby read the book with us,” or “Let’s let the baby watch us bake today” are all inclusive statements that show the child that you will not abandon the baby and you will not abandon him. Inclusiveness increases the older child’s sense of security and reduces his feelings of insecure competition with the baby.

Consider Bach Flower Remedies
Bach Flower Remedies can often help reduce aggressive and jealous behaviors. Just add two drops of this harmless tincture to a bit of liquid (juice, soda, water, milk, chocolate milk or anything else), 4 times a day until the behavior is no longer a problem. The remedies are available in health food stores and on-line. Of the 38 Remedies in the Bach system, try  Holly (for jealousy) and Vine (for aggressive behavior). If you like, you can mix both together in a Bach Mixing Bottle (an empty glass bottle with a glass dropper, available where the remedies are sold). Put two drops of each remedy in the small mixing bottle along with water and about a tsp of brandy (to help prevent bacteria in the bottle). From the mixing bottle, drop 4 drops in liquid, 4 times a day until the behavior is no longer a problem. Read more about Bach Flower Remedies on this site, online and through self-help books. Alternatively, call a Bach Flower Practitioner to help select individually tailored remedies. Bach Remedies are excellent to try when you are worried that your toddler may really hurt your baby – particularly because toddlers are usually too young for therapy.

What to Do In the Moment
Speak slowly and firmly when correcting your youngster, but refrain from showing real upset. Of course, protect the baby! Try not to allow the older child to be alone with the little one. However, as you probably know all too well, your toddler can hurt the baby even while the baby is being held in your arms! When that happens, stand up and move out of the child’s reach without saying a word.  Withdrawing attention by this quiet move is more effect than looking the little one in the eye and shouting “NO!” Don’t actually ignore your child – just lightly remove yourself and the baby for a few moments. You are trying to keep the infant safe while you are minimizing negative attention to the older one. Make a simple rule and repeat it as necessary: “Gentle with the baby.” Refrain from the negative version (“We don’t hurt the baby”) because this is likely to get translated by the toddler’s highly emotional brain as an instruction TO hurt the baby!

Patience is Required
It’s unpleasant but normal for toddlers and preschoolers to hurt a new baby. Showing your understanding is an important way to help start building your child’s emotional intelligence. Although a child’s rough behavior is very upsetting to parents, it’s important that parents not make matters worse by showing anger or becoming very punitive. Patience is required! With your gentle approach, chances are that your toddler will move through his upset feelings and aggressive behavior much more quickly.

New Baby in the Family

The arrival of a new baby can be threatening to an older sibling. After being the sole apple of parents’ eyes, a new “creature” suddenly taking all the attention can trigger jealousy, anger and sadness. Younger children may fear that parents will no longer love them once the new baby settles in. They may also develop resentment over having to give up certain things, like sole use of a a bedroom or a particular game or activity.

What can parents do to help their young children adjust to the arrival of a new baby? Consider the following tips:

Prepare Your Children
The best way to buffer a child’s anxiety is to not blindside them with the changes that are coming. In the last trimester of pregnancy, inform your children what to expect. Show them pictures and videos of infant development – your library and the internet are great resources! Emphasize that babies are helpless, and therefore will need a lot of mommy and daddy’s care (just as they did at that stage): they need to be fed, held, changed, burped, dressed, bathed and all the rest. Let them know that it won’t always be that way because babies turn into toddlers and kids who can feed themselves, dress themselves and use the toilet.

Give Your Children Responsibilities
Kids may feel less left out, if they know they have a role to play in the new family structure. New responsibilities can make children feel needed – indispensable and appreciated –  unlike the baby who just cries and cries! Kids can assist in many ways; during feeding, bathing and dressing the baby. Just remember to thank and compliment them for a job well done! Also, if these “helpers” are little guys themselves, make sure to allow them to continue to be little in their own right. A two year old, for instance, is not a big girl! She is “Mommy’s best little helper.” When a toddler or pre-schooler is allowed to enjoy the benefits of littleness even though a baby has entered the family, the young child suffers much less. She is not “de-throned” or promoted beyond her stage of life. She continues to be loved and coddled as the little person she truly is, even though there is now an even littler person in the house as well.

Highlight the Positive
It’s fine to talk about the benefits of siblings that will eventually come. Remember – it takes a really long time (especially from a child’s perspective) before a sibling can become a fun playmate. However, it is certainly something to look forward to. “Just think – one day you and little Joe will be able to play ball together! Won’t that be fun?”

Explain Why Rules can be Bent for the Baby
One of the common causes of resentment against a new baby is perceived preferential treatment. A 7 month old baby who accidentally breaks his or her older sibling’s toy is not likely to be reprimanded; after all, what does the baby know? Instead, the older sibling may even get the brunt of the blame, for handing the toy to the baby to begin with! It’s important then for parents to explain to their older children that babies are not accountable for what they do, and it’s up to bigger people to make sure that they do not get in harm’s way.

Spend  Quality Time with Your Older Children While You Hold the Baby
Jealousy can be minimized if parents ensure that they don’t neglect their older children. It’s understandable that parents are overwhelmed and exhausted after bringing a new baby into the family. However, the other child or children still need so much parental attention. Put the baby on your lap and invite the others around for storytime. Or, put the baby in the stroller and take the others to the park. Or, wear the baby in a carrier and take the others to the mall. Babies just need to be held, and older children just need to be interacted with – so it can all happen at the same time. There is no need to leave the baby at home while you take the others out. In fact, this can increase insecurity in the other children as they see for themselves that you are willing to abandon your infant. Little kids are more than happy to have the baby come along and be involved in all their activities. They love the feeling of being one big happy family.

New Mothers Need Extra Rest
Sometimes this temporary absence leaves toddlers and pre-schoolers feeling abandoned. One way around this is to invite little ones to lie down for nap time in Mom’s room (if they’re the cooperative types) or to make sure they are with a favorite babysitter or engaged in a special activity while Mom naps. This may be the time to invest in a new toy, craft kit, computer game or video.

Remember to “Gush” Over the Toddlers as Well as the Baby
One way to do this is to talk to the baby “through” the toddler. “Look Tara! Do you see that cute face baby Jon just made? Isn’t he funny?” This is preferrable to ignoring Tara while talking directly to the baby. In the latter scenario, Tara is likely to feel ignored or less important or less adored; her “solution” might be to try to get your attention inappropriately.

Cut Them Some Slack When They Act Out
When there is a new baby in the household, kids may act-out to demand your attention. They may regress behaviorally, and act as if they are infants themselves. They may misbehave at home or school. Understand that all these mini-rebellions are just means of expressing their upset feelings (confusion, fear, sadness and anger); be extra patient and ignore the bad stuff as much as you can for a couple of months. Once the baby has become “old news,” you can return to normal standards of discipline.

Fear of Doctors or Dentists

Some babies, kids and teens have fears of medical professionals. This is highly inconvenient because all people need to see doctors and dentists at least occasionally. Moreover, some people require acute medical or dental attention – being terrified of the helping professional only adds stress to the already intense stress of injury or illness.

If your child has a fear of doctors or dentists, consider the following tips:

Babies are Smarter Than They Look
A baby often figures out rather quickly that the doctor gives – ouch – needles. If your baby develops “attitude” about doctor’s visits, it means that he or she is smart. Even though the doctor smiles and seems so friendly, he or she pokes and prods and pricks during those first-year visits. You can validate your baby’s feelings by saying things like, “I know you don’t like the doctor. It isn’t fun to get that needle!” Even if your baby doesn’t understand your speech, your validation of his or her experience is good practice for the validation that you’ll need to be doing for many years to come. Moreover, the baby can feel your sympathy and understanding even if he doesn’t understand your words. This helps establish a strong parent-child bond that builds trust while also helps to soothe and calm your baby. Once the doctor’s visits become more pleasant, the baby will usually develop a warm relationship with the doctor. In other words, in most cases, the problem will go away by itself within some months or, in more difficult cases, in a couple of years. Just wait it out. Alternatively, it may help a little if you can pair a doctor’s visit with a treat or privilege of some kind. Don’t bribe the child; simply give the child a treat or privilege when you leave the doctor’s office. This can help the child associate the doctor with pleasure and this can reduce his upset, despite the pain.

Persistent Fear Requires Intervention
If your baby doesn’t grow out of the fear of a white coat or the smell of the doctor’s office by toddlerhood, you’ll definitely want to help him along. Young kids can benefit from “bibliotherapy” – the use of picture books to help reduce anxiety. Your local library may have a selection of picture books for young children that focus on what exactly happens at a medical or dental office. Reading such books can help prepare and calm the youngster before a visit for a check-up or treatment. Older children – those beyond the picture-book stage of life – may benefit from specific stress-reduction strategies. If you know some, teach them to your child or teen. If you don’t, one or two visits to a mental health professional may be all that your child needs in order to learn some coping tools for fear. If the child has a true phobia, full treatment can take a number of weeks or even some months. One thing that you might teach a child is how to focus on his breath while the doctor or dentist performs an examination. Tell your child to pay attention to the breath going in and out of his nostrils, or pay attention to his chest rising and falling as he breathes. Alternatively, teach the child to “daydream” effectively – to use visualization to take himself to a safe, fun place while the doctor is performing his examination. A different kind of tool is “mindfulness meditation.” In this technique you teach your child to name his thoughts and feelings and physical sensations as they are occurring during the examination or treatment. For instance, the child might say (silently), “scared, nervous, don’t like this, don’t want to be here, cold, uncomfortable, want to go home, relaxed, sore, sad, upset, mad, happy to be going home now,” and so on, throughout the medical or dental visit. Even though the child is naming negative thoughts and feelings, he will actually feel more in-control and calmer by doing this exercise. Try it yourself first to see how it feels. Another tool that helps many children and teens is EFT – emotional freedom technique. You can learn about this self-help tool online. It is excellent for removing or minimizing feelings of fear.

Try Bach Flower Therapy
On the day of the medical visit, and right beforehand, try giving your child Rescue Remedy. This pre-mixed Bach Flower Remedy is available at health food stores and on-line. Rescue Remedy helps to calm feelings of overwhelming fear and panic and can be taken right before, during and right after a very frightening experience. It comes in liquid (drop 4 drops in water or any other beverage) as well as spray and candy form. In order to help ease the fearful tendency out of the child and thereby prevent on-going fear of medical professionals, use Bach Flowers regularly for some months. Try the remedies Mimulus (for fears) and Rock Rose (for panic). You can speak to a Bach Flower Therapist to get a specially designed formulation for your child or you can look up the remedy descriptions online and select up to 7 remedies to put all together in one dropper bottle. There are online resources to learn how to prepare the remedies for use.

Seek Professional Help
If you’ve tried everything and your child is still afraid of medical or dental professionals, enlist the help of a professional therapist. Do this as soon as possible to make healing easier and to save your child many years of unnecessary pain and distress.

Fear of Animals

Most children love the zoo, but there are some children who virtually tremble at the sight of animals. In most cases, a child’s fear of animals is naturally outgrown. But there are also cases where fears persist into the teenage and adult years, and even become lifelong phobias.

How can parents help their children manage or overcome fears of animals or fear of a particular animal?

Accept the Child’s Fear and Empathize
It’s important that parents try to see animals from their kids’ eyes. A Labrador puppy may not look intimidating from an adult’s point of view, but the pet can easily be the height of a 2 or 3 year old. A domesticated cat may rarely bare her claws — but kids can still feel fear about how sharp they look.  And farm animals are usually a bit more frightening – just think of a chicken suddenly flying towards you. Let your child know that his or her fear is understandable: “Yes, horses are really big! Even though I’m sure they’re pretty friendly, they certainly look scary, ” or “I see you’re scared of the puppy. That’s O.K. You don’t know him yet so you’re right to be a little wary. Let’s get to know him better and see if we can trust him.”

Show a Calm and Relaxed Disposition among Animals
Young kids often take their cues from the adults around them, so model how to properly approach and pet an animal. Smile and act relaxed. Whatever you do, don’t fool around and pretend that you are being attacked. It may be funny to you, but it’s likely not amusing to your terrified boy or girl.

Visit a Vet, an Animal Shelter or a Pet Store
One way you can lessen a child’s fear of animals is to get them into a setting where interacting with animals is just part of the day. Let them interview your local vet, who may be invited to provide interesting animal trivia that usually gets little kids hooked. You can also take them to an animal shelter or a pet store and explain to them that animals do need a loving home too. If they can see animals as creatures that need care and support just like they do, they might feel a little less intimidated by the little critters.

Consider Self-Help Treatments for Fear and Phobias
If the child is panicky around animals, give him or her Rescue Remedy when visiting zoos or people who have pets. Rescue Remedy is a Bach Flower mixture available in health food stores and online. To help the child eventually get over the fear, you can use other remedies in the Bach system such as Mimulus for phobias and Rock Rose for panic. In this case, give the child these remedies four times daily until he or she no longer expresses fear of animals.

Also, consider teaching your child EFT (emotional freedom technique) – a form of accupressure that can often heal fears and phobias. More information on EFT can be found online and throughout this site.

Aim for Gradual Desensitization
If your child is really upset at the sight of animals, then go slowly and patiently.  For example, bring home some library books about the animal or animals that your child fears. There are beautiful picture books that teach everything there is to know about pets and farm animals, explaining the parts of the animal’s body, the food the animal eats and the way it typically behaves. Next, show some educational films on the same kinds of material – i.e. a film about cats or dogs or horses or zoo animals. Next, take them to a pet store where the animals are contained in locked cages. Eventually, try a small section of a local zoo.  Then, take your child to LOOK AT a petting farm – don’t make the child participate by walking among the animals and actually touching them.  Instead, have the child watch other children having fun with the animals. Eventually, you might be able to assist your child within the petting zoo itself (not on the first visit, but maybe after several such visits). You might be able to bring some goldfish into your home after awhile.  Invite a friend to bring a puppy on a leash to your house and let your child observe the animal without having to be close to it. Only when the child is comfortable and wants to get closer should you help the youngster come near the pet while it is still on the leash. Eventually see if you can help the child to touch the dog while you are holding the animal –  you can hold a puppy in your arms and get tyour child to touch the tail today, the body tomorrow, and who knows, perhaps the head in a few weeks. After the child gets to know the puppy, you might let the animal walk about without the leash and just let the child watch (possibly while sitting in your lap!). Soon, the child will want to walk freely where the dog is and eventually, if all goes well, play happily with the dog like other kids do.

Consider Professional Help
If your child is not responding to your interventions and is suffering from fear of animals that impedes with his or her daily life (i.e. child is afraid to go to school or other places), then consult a child psychologist. Mental health professionals can help people of all ages overcome their fears and live a more relaxed and happy life!

Head-Banging

Seeing one’s child banging his or her head against the wall or a wooden bed is alarming for parents, especially if the child is a baby or toddler. Parents are not only concerned about the possible pain and injury that may result from such an activity – they are also worried about the child’s psychological well-being. “Is something wrong with my baby?” is a reasonable question for parents to ask when their child deliberately harms himself.

In fact, in most cases, a child’s head-banging is caused by a normal desire for stimulation or soothing (as we will discuss below) — not by underlying mental health issues. Additionally, young kids rarely hurt themselves during head banging enough to cause considerable pain or head damage. Head-banging may also occur in certain developmental syndromes such as autism. In these cases, there will be other neurological and behavioral symptoms besides head banging. In an otherwise healthy child, head-banging is not a matter for intense concern.

What’s Behind Head-Banging?
Head banging can be a way for kids to get stimulation. The habit can relieve the discomfort of boredom or stress. Remember that during the toddler years, kids are in the process of understanding and appreciating different body sensations such as sights, sounds and  even feelings of pain and discomfort. The sensation that comes when we bang our heads against a hard surface is new and foreign to a child, and understandably, the child is curious about it. Thus he may repeat head-banging so that he can explore the sensation better.

It’s also possible for children to head-bang in order to soothe themselves when they are anxious, in discomfort or otherwise distressed. In these cases, head banging is no different from thumb sucking or nail biting. It’s ironic, but it’s possible that children find the pain of head banging a distraction for their current discomfort or unease. Some kids may also find the rhythm of soft head banging comforting, in the same way that a slow and steady drum beat can be soothing, rhythmic head banging can be reassuring to a child.

What can Parents Do?
Safety is always a primary concern. Even if head-banging is usually harmless, there’s nothing wrong with taking a few extra precautions. As much as possible, keep young children away from hard surfaces like walls or bed posts. If there’s a risk that they will run into a hard surface, protect your child by putting a soft pillow or foam padding as insulation. If you can make it impossible for your child to head-bang against something hard, then you can worry less about head-banging behavior.

It may also help to provide your child with stimulation and soothing when you feel that he or she needs it. Toys of different shapes and colors, as well as materials of varying comfortable textures and temperatures can provide stimulation to a child. Rocking, singing a lullaby or a soft massage are also positive ways to provide soothing.

When parents suspect that unease, discomfort or stress is causing the head-banging behavior, they can offer their child the Bach Flower Remedy Agrimony. Two drops in liquid four times a day can be used until the banging diminishes. Or, for a more complete treatment, call a Bach Flower Practitioner. You can find more information about the Bach Remedies online and throughout this site.

Older children who are banging their heads may need more than Bach Remedies (although these should be tried first). Stress reduction through professional psychological counseling may be very helpful. If very young children are stressed, family counseling may be preferable. Parents may be able to make environmental changes that put the child more at ease.

When Should Parents be Concerned?
While head-banging is generally normal and harmless, there are occasions of head-banging behavior when parents need to provide their children with stronger interventions and/or professional help.

One situation is when kids use head banging as a way to get negative attention, punish themselves or release anger and frustration. When head banging is a deliberate action to achieve an end, parents should arrange a consultation with a child psychologist. The psychologist may help the parents intervene in more appropriate ways or he or she may work with the child directly in order to reduce underlying tensions.

But a second situation is when parents suspect an underlying medical or psychological condition behind the head banging behavior. If head banging is seen alongside symptoms of social withdrawal, delayed speech and motor development, and inability to empathize, parents should consider consult their pediatrician. A referral to a mental health professional for assessment can confirm or rule out a diagnosis of autism or pervasive developmental disorder. Head banging that seems beyond a child’s control may be a symptom of Tourette’s Syndrome. Various seizure disorders may also account for head banging behavior. To be certain, it’s best to get a child diagnosed by the appropriate medical or mental health professional.

Rocking and Shaking

Babies often rock back and forth in their cribs starting around 6 months of age and are usually growing out of it by around a year and a half. The motion of their own bodies is soothing; babies love the sensation of being rocked by themselves or others.

Some children (and adults!)  also use rhythmic movements to “calm their nerves.” Rocking back and forth or shaking their legs helps to relieve stress. The behavior may be done almost subconsciously (without conscious intention or awareness) – it just seems to happen on its own. In other words, the child or teen does not actively think to him or herself, “I’ll rock now” or “I’ll shake my legs now.” While the child is sitting in a chair working or talking, the movements occur. Other people can interrupt the process by pointing it out: “Stop shaking your legs!” At that point, the child becomes aware that he or she was moving his legs. However, just a few minutes after stopping the movement, it usually starts again.

If your child is a “mover and shaker,” consider the following tips:

Rhythmic Movements are Usually Harmless
In otherwise normal children and teens, rocking and/or shaking is a harmless “nervous habit.” However, like other nervous habits, it can become socially unacceptable. Excessive movements disturb other people, even though they don’t seem to bother the rocker/shaker. There is an annoyance factor when someone keeps moving his or her body. If your child’s teacher reports negative peer reactions or other disturbances in school as a result of rocking or shaking, it’s time to help your child lose this habit and find more appropriate ways to self-soothe. When rocking and other rhythmic behaviors occur in a child who has other neurological or behavioral abnormalities, be sure to get a complete medical or psychiatric assessment. In these cases, the rocking may be part of a medical syndrome that requires attention.

Nagging Doesn’t Help
Telling a child to stop rocking or shaking is not an effective way of curing the habit. Although the child may stop for a moment or two, he or she will start again. Since the behavior is out of the child’s awareness, he or she is not exactly aware of when it begins or even that it is happening and therefore, has no effective way to interrupt it on a regular basis. It is annoying for the child to be told repeatedly to stop moving. Since this strategy causes tension between parent and child and does not effectively treat the problem, it cannot be recommended!

Stress Reduction May Help
Anything that helps the child relax his or her nervous system will help both directly and indirectly. The direct form of help is that it may relieve the tension and therefore the need to self-soothe. The indirect form is that it may make it easier for the child to successfully apply behavioral strategies. Herbal remedies or Bach Flower Remedies that calm the body and mind can be very helpful in both regards. See a professional herbalist or naturopath to assess your child and make up the appropriate herbal remedies. Alow time to see the results. Similarly, see a Bach Flower Practitioner to make up an individually tailored treament bottle for your child. Consider remedies like Agrimony and Impatiens and others that address your child’s personality. A homeopath or other natural healer may be able to help as well. In addition, it may be possible to teach the child stress reduction techniques like yoga or even breath-based meditations (or, for teens, mindfulness meditation). In some cases, regular, intense exercise will be helpful. Of course, reducing stress in the house is always helpful so anything you can do to keep calm, enhance your marriage and de-stress yourself, will help as well.

Behavioral Therapy
When rocking becomes dysfunctional (excessive, bothersome, embarrassing or otherwise disturbing), consult a behavioral therapist – someone who is experienced and skilled in the treatment of habits. There are also habit removal workbooks (i.e. The Habit Change Workbook by Pedrick) that you may be able to work through with your child or that your older child or teen can work through indepedently.