Class 4 Discussion


Assignment:  Work on helping kids notice AND respond respectfully to others this week.  How can you be a facilitator rather than a referee?  Help your kiddos listen to each other and take appropriate action.

Successes?  Challenges?  Questions?

Please share at least twice during the week, and respond to at least one other person’s post.  When you share for the first time, start your own Comment box.  Then when you give us an update later in the week, press “reply to this comment” on your own original sharing.  This way it helps us keep everyone straight, since we can’t see one another.  And of course when you reply to someone else’s comment, press “reply to comment” on their comment.


  1. Alexis Schrader says

    This is a very relevant topic for me this week! My daughter has a friend we see twice a week for play dates; his mom and I are close and she’s the only other stay at home mom I know in the area. Recently his play has gotten very aggressive and we’ve had a lot of trouble dealing with it. Games will start fun but escalate into something where he hurts my daughter (for example, throwing balls in a fun way to him pegging her in the face with them), or he tries to be affectionate but is too rough (he often tries to hug her but ends up tackling her to the ground). I taught my daughter to say “No, I don’t like that!” Sometimes he listens and sometimes not. We try to prevent him getting too rough before it happens. The problem is we don’t necessarily know when to intervene because play that seems totally fine takes a turn so quickly. He never does any of this intending to hurt her, he is just very high energy and overly exuberant with play and affection. He understands afterwards that he hurt her, apologizes, and “gives gentles” (a gentle hug or pat). But it’s been weeks and the behavior itself hasn’t lessened at all. It’s at the point where whenever we see them my daughter spends a good portion of the time hurt or upset and it’s getting really hard to spend time with them.

    • Kerri Thauby says

      Alexis, I was experiencing the EXACT same situation with my son and a friend of his (also close with the mom, with no other friends in town). So hard when you want to spend time together, but don’t want to put your child in a situation where they are not having fun and sometimes getting hurt. There were times we didn’t go play because my son said he didn’t want to get hit. I don’t have any advice – this did seem to be a phase and the aggression has all but disappeared – but just wanted to let you know that I feel your pain here.

      • Alexis Schrader says

        Thanks Kerri! It always makes me feel better to hear someone else went through the same thing and came out the other side just fine!

      • Alexis, have you had any luck helping him watch her reactions and back off as soon as she starts to frown/pull away/ etc.? Hopefully BEFORE she gets hurt? I know those high-energy kids are often just not good at judging how much is enough and how much is too much. A little help (or significant help) from you will be such a gift to that boy.

        • Alexis Schrader says

          We’ve tried that but it’s hard to get his attention when he’s focused on play. This week I’ll try helping him notice slightly earlier, if I can catch the behavior in time.

  2. Yuanyuan Shen says

    When Justin try to take toys away from his siblings, I teach him to say “can I play with this?” To my surprise, a lot of times the little ones let go. So it seems the little ones often likes to give toys to their big brother; they just don’t like to the way he did. Justin still needs reminder every time. If the little ones don’t let go, Justin usually gets mad in a second, and I often forget what to do.

    I expect some progress with Justin. But as for the twins, they can only say very few words. I don’t know how to teach them to express themselves. And it seems they don’t fully understand the rule “you can only use a toy that nobody is using.”

    Justin like to direct his siblings to play in his way, and they usually like to cooperate. But sometimes they don’t get it, and sometimes they don’t want to, then Justin gets angry very quickly. How I facilitate their play in this situation?

    Sometimes I don’t see who gets the toy first. Especially when the twins are fighting for a toy, and neither of them can talk well, what should I do?

    When kids get excited, they are fast, they are rough, and they are loud. It’s very hard to stop them; they may not even hear me. No one is upset; actually everyone is super excited. But if they don’t calm down soon, someone may get hurt. How to calm down excited kids?

    This is about mealtime. Last time I said the twins wanted to eat after leaving table. Now I stick with “no food after leaving”. My new problem is Lydia takes forever to finish a meal. I wonder how much time is appropriate for a meal for toddlers, and how to let them know the time.

    The last row of the main reading says “put in link on recovering from disappointment, also”. Are you going to put a link there?

    • That’s great that you’re having some success with Justin asking the twins if he can play with their toys. Fantastic! Every little bit helps.

      At 21 months, the twins absolutely can learn to “find toys that nobody’s using.” However, you can’t expect your words to teach them; you have to physically help them find new toys until they really learn it. Yes, it’s work, but the payoff lasts for years.

      In terms of Justin wanting to control the play, let him know that “it’s important to play in ways that everyone can enjoy.” Help him notice and respond respectfully to their facial expressions. “Look, she’s squealing. She’s saying, ‘I don’t want to sit in that chair.’ Why don’t you figure out something that you both can enjoy?” Do you think that’s something he could wrap his head around? If he doesn’t pay attention and gets mad at them, then perhaps suggest that he come and help you until he can find something that they all can like.

      When kids are fighting over a toy and I don’t know who had it first, I will start by seeing if we can sort it out (have one child ask if they can use it), but if emotions are high I won’t hesitate to take the toy away. “It looks like this toy is making everyone unhappy. I think it needs to rest up high until nobody’s upset anymore.” Then I’ll put it up until they’ve forgotten about it.

      When kids are overly excited or rambunctious and I’m nervous that things will fall apart, instead of trying to immediately calm things down, I will join them in a loud(ish) fun way, so I’m taking control. I have a couple of songs I use; I’ll try to remember to sing them on the call: one that’s about running and falling down, then jumping and falling down, then spinning and falling down, etc. Other times I might have them jump, or jump off the couch, or run races; things that are big, but they’re happy to curb themselves a little bit to do it my way. So I join them where they’re at, and then I gradually bring them down, but in an engaging way. So I’m not trying to END the fun, I”m just transforming it.

      For Lydia taking forever at meals, I think that 20-30 minutes is quite long enough for a meal (and too long for many kids). If she’s not eating anyway, then call for “last little nibbles” and “last sips”, and then bring the meal to a close. If she didn’t eat much, then make sure the next meal is perhaps only 90 minutes later. She’ll be more hungry and ready to eat. So, you’re never starving her, you’re just making more clearly-defined times for eating. Does that make sense?

      Yes, I’ll post that link.

      • Yuanyuan Shen says

        I see some progress on Justin today. He started to speak without my reminder. That’s really great! But things don’t go that well with the twins. It seems they always need me to speak for them, or to distract them with other toys. Since they can’t say words like “can I play with this”, I don’t know how to teach them solve their issues by themselves.

        • Hooray for progress!

          Don’t worry that it takes more time with the little ones. In large part this is capacity-building. Although they can’t use the words yet, if you model them for them every time, then as soon as they start to talk, those are the words that they’ll say. Remember, kids learn by DOING, so repetition, again and again and again, is key.

      • Yuanyuan Shen says

        What happens with Justin is sometimes he remembers to ask first, and sometimes he forgets. I will be patient with him and remind him when needed. What I don’t understand is why he needs to learn this at home – when he plays with other children in school or in playground, he clearly knows the rule that do not take away other children’s toy. But I do feel teaching him this will help his interactions with other children:)

        Last week I asked the chores for children under two. You asked me to read the article “High Expectations”. I read it several times, but don’t have a clue. Can you point it out for me, or should I read another article?

        I just bought 3 sets of dustpan and brush from IKEA, one for each child, to avoid any fighting. After every meal and snack time, we together clean crumbles under table. You suggested me choose one child for each chores, but I know no one wants to be left out. When chores clearly turn into play time, like splashing water while washing dishes, I will stop them. Sometimes, I’m not sure where the boundary is. For example, if Justin sweeps with exaggerated moves when the floor is already clean, is it OK? Should I stop him?

        When a child hands me a book and I read it to her, this will quickly draw the other children’s attention. They all come to me, pointing something in the book and expecting me to respond, or wanting to turn the page, or trying to take the book away… If I ask them each to get a book for themselves, which they might do, I often find myself need to respond three children at once. I think reading is something they can share, if they can listen quietly, or raise questions occasionally. Should I ask them to wait their turns, or is there a better way?

        I always have trouble with cleaning up toys. I sing a clean-up song while putting toys back in shelves, expecting children to join me. But the twins seem not to get it. Usually their attention will be drawn to the toys on the shelves, and they do the opposite – throwing books on the floor, or dumping balls from basket. I don’t feel they would understand the imagination like squirrels picking up nuts. What makes me very frustrated is Justin often follows them and thinks it’s a fun thing to do. What should I do?

        I remember you said you hate the phrase “use your words”, but I wonder if I can say it when Justin imitates his siblings not able to talk well, like pointing something with “ah–ah–” when he wants it. He doesn’t need to be taught how to express.

        You suggested when Justin acts like a silly baby, I give him a lot of snuggling, a lot of love and attention, and treat him like a baby. I haven’t tried it, because most of the times, I don’t feel like doing so. Here is an example. On the other day at breakfast, Austin was touching his hair with his hand. When Justin saw me cleaning the crumbs in Austin’s hair, he excitedly touched his hair with both hands and laughed, making crumbs all over his hair. Then Lydia imitated, and Austin did it again. Moments like this, I don’t feel like pouring extra love on him. Actually I was quite mad at him. He knows he shouldn’t do it. And the twins always imitate, which makes things harder for me. Moments like this, I often find myself have trouble to find anything helpful in SMILE.

        • OK, I don’t have time to answer every question right now, but I’ll make a start.

          First, your comment about how you don’t know why Justin needs to learn these things at home, when he clearly knows them at school. Kids know from a very early age that there are different rules in different places. That the way you behave at church is different from how you behave at the grocery store, at Grandma’s house, at home, etc. So he knows that at school he’s not to take other children’s toys. But up until now, that hasn’t been a rule at home. Now you’re changing the rules at home so that things are more respectful. Changing habits always takes work, but the fact that you know that he can do it may make it easier (although still frustrating). It’s extra important that the rules at home are the MOST kind, thoughtful, and respectful, because this is what kids grow up to feel like home “should be” like, and what relationships are all about.

          Sorry about the chores, I thought that it was in there.

          I don’t have any chores that I expect one-year-olds to do all by themselves, but I have a few tasks that I expect them to do every time, with as much support as they need. At Rainbow Bridge, these were: washing their hands before a meal. Clearing their bowl after the meal. Helping to put their linens away after naptime. And that was all. With those chores, I might say, “You may take your bowl to the counter.” Then if they run away, I’d say, “Oh gracious, it looks like you need some help. Come on!” I’ll get up and take them by the hand. Many times I can just lead them over and they’ll take the bowl. Other times I need to take their hand and wrap it around the bowl, and take the other hand and wrap it around too. And then sometimes I’ll even need to help them walk over to the counter with it. If things go that far, then I will do my best to weave some elements of smile into it, having us walk like an elephant, for example. So those few “chores” are things that I expect them to help with whether they feel like it or not. Everything else I do in an inviting way, and they can choose whether to be involved or not.

          OK, that’s it for now. I’ll be back!

        • OK, I’m back for more!

          About having one or more children help with chores: have as many or as few children help as feels comfortable for you. When I had 10 kids per day at Rainbow Bridge, I would often have three or four helping me wash the table, for example, while for washing dishes (that needs more direct supervision/interaction) I limit it to one or two at a time. Except some days when EVERYONE wants to do it, and I have enough energy for it, then I might set up a series of wash-tubs on the table or out on the deck, and the children can wash/play.

          I don’t worry about children “playing” while they help, unless they are undoing work or going to destroy something. So, your example of Justin sweeping with exaggerated moves, I would stop him if he were sweeping apart my piles, or if I were afraid that he’d hit the twins or damage furniture with his broom. In that case, I would say, “Oh, this broom needs to keep its feet on the floor. It can dance, but its jumps are very tiny.” Using imagery will help him be able to follow my instructions. For washing dishes, I don’t mind if kids are really just playing unless they’re splashing water out of the sink, or pulling dishes from the clean area back into soapy water.

          For book reading, it sounds like that is a VERY connecting activity for your kiddos, if they all want to do it whenever they see a book come out. I would definitely continue like you’ve been doing, where all four of you look at the book together. When you have each of them look at a book separately, then they’re not getting that connecting from you that they’re looking for. What you CAN insist on is that everyone sit nicely while you look at books, without jostling, pushing, etc. I rarely (if ever) read to only one kid at a time at Rainbow Bridge, and the only time that they looked quietly at books on their own was when they had finished their pre-naptime snack and were waiting for others to finish so we could tiptoe downstairs and brush our teeth together. So in that case, books weren’t being used to connect, they were being used to help children wait. They could switch books if they wanted to, but they couldn’t talk or ask questions about them.

          We’ll talk about cleaning up in today’s call on Transitions, so I’ll wait on that one.

          In terms of Justin imitating the little ones, if it’s something silly but not destructive, like pointing and saying “Ah-ah” if he wants something, I would absolutely respond with “E” (exaggeration and humor). “What is it, little baby Justin? Are you trying to tell me something? What are you trying to say? You’re pointing…” then I might pretend to misunderstand him. “Oh, do you want…this couch cushion? No? Do you want…that picture on the wall?” This will be fun for a moment, but he’s likely to say what he wants pretty quickly, and then you can say, “Oh my gosh, you can talk after all!”

          For more annoying behaviors like brushing crumbs into his hair, I agree that pouring in love in that moment is not going to be that helpful. Instead, let him know what he CAN be doing, instead. “Oh my goodness, Justin. Crumbs don’t belong in your hair! Why don’t you get your napkin and wipe your head off.” Say he’s laughing and doesn’t do what you ask. “Oh, it looks like you need some help wiping your head.” Finish with Austin and then head over to him. “You know that food needs to stay on your plate or in your mouth. How will Austin learn that if he doesn’t see you doing the right thing?” Wipe his head. “Now, are you ready to keep your food on your plate or in your mouth, or are you all done?” Then if the food goes off course again, you can calmly take it away. “When I see you put food off your plate, that tells me that you’re all done. I already reminded you, so you can try again next time.” Then you can be compassionate that this is a disappointment to him; he’s not used to having his food taken away and this is a new direction for your relationship. Then help him (and everyone else) move on by telling a story, singing a song, or ending the meal.

          The more calm we can be as we correct children, the better they are able to take our direction and let that annoying behavior go. It’s when they see that their “naughty” behavior gets a rise out of us that they are likely to be drawn to try it again and again. But when we respond calmly and firmly (and consistently) with behavior that’s not what we want, while giving the emotional “juice” to behavior that we DO want (by making it engaging), then children will start making different choices about what to do. Does this make sense? Otherwise, getting that emotional rise from you getting annoyed at them ends up being a kind of “false connection” that kids will take if they feel like it’s the most they can get in that moment.

      • Yuanyuan Shen says

        The boys spend most of their time with cars, although there are a lot of other toys on shelves: blocks, stuffed animals, play silks, books… When they play with cars, there is nothing gracious – car racing, car bumping, or monster truck crashing other cars. I’ve tried “no bumping, or the police car will come”. It only worked a few time at first. How to redirect them to gracious car play, or to have more interest in other toys?

        • You might try setting up several different car areas, so that you can say, “Lydia’s playing with cars over there right now. If you want to play with cars, you can play over here.” However, I suspect that crashing the cars into one another is half the fun (if not more). So, you might decide that there are some circumstances in which car crashing is OK to do; you just want to reign it in. So maybe cars can crash while they’re on the rug but not on the wood floor, so that if children don’t want their cars to crash they have a safe place to take them. Or maybe Justin needs to ask if another child wants to crash before he does it (he needs to ask, and needs to respect their answer). “Do you want to crash?” If the other child shakes their head or pulls away, then he needs to drive around them, otherwise his cars need to rest for a bit until he’s ready to listen again. Now, either of these are going to be Rule Changes, and those take quite a bit help on your end to establish those new rules. So if you want to do this, then perhaps you put the cars in a box or basket up high, and then bring them down upon request when you have time and energy to supervise how they are used. Or maybe the cars become outside toys for awhile. Or maybe there are only a couple of cars that are out at a time, until the energy around them shifts.

  3. Angie Kochukudy says

    I think I have just had a lot less time with Sarina this week. Mostly I’ve just had morning and evening routines, and little play time – and I missed Wednesday night altogether. So, not much chance to practice yet. However, on this topic, we have had practice with the kitty, and of course, with hitting mommy and daddy. So I will work on helping to describe the signals that we are unhappy/hurt, etc. I think that’s really helpful. “See? Peachy is trying to run away…she doesn’t like you being so noisy. Can you be gentle and quiet like a mouse?” We’ve been doing that and I’ll ramp it up.

    One “experiment” I’ve tried this week is when she’s been upset, to “mimic her” in a very exaggerated way, and then peep through my fingers to see how she’s reacting. She’s been quite fascinated with my crying, and it has really interrupted her tantrums. Her dad has done it a bit too…kind of fun. Even did some kicking on the floor for effect. I’m not sure exactly how that rationally moves us forward, but it’s been a nice distraction. We’ll see how it works.

    My husband and I are also working on cutting the “negotiations” when we ask her to do something. I’m trying to get us to where we ask her once (well, more or less once), and then, when she doesn’t do it, saying “Looks like you’re having trouble doing x. Mommy is going to help you now. Next time, you’ll do it better.” The reason is that my husband, in particular, was using the “threat” of “Do you need some help?” to make her scramble to comply. I feel like it’s counter productive. We DO want her to ask for help if she needs/wants it, and we DO want her to do what we ask…so it needs to not be a “threat” but just building the habit of doing it. We’re still getting resistance when we “help her” do things, but the negotiation cycle is slowly being reduced/eliminated.

    I find it so helpful to hear, over and over, in class, the words I can say. Takes me a while to use them every time (just like her 🙂 ), but it’s great to see the modeling. I wish I was better about the stories and imagination!

    • Angie, these are all good things to report! Way to go on re-casting the “help” to be actually helpful, rather than a threat. I think this is a move in the right direction. Now, work on making your help as enjoyable as possible. You’re right, you’re establishing new habits, and you want her saying “yes” to be one of those habits.

      I love your description of how you mimic her and then peep through your fingers. You’re not distracting her, you’re CONNECTING with her, lol! Using “E” (exaggeration & humor). Now once you’ve connected, help her move on to something else.

  4. Alissa Moghtaderi says

    A quick update from the Moghtaderi house, where we have one case of pink eye (Miles) and three people with colds (me, Miles, and Elliott), but some meaningful progress on at least one aspect of graciousness this week.

    I cannot take any credit for it myself, but Elliott has made huge strides this week in asking for things politely and saying please. That’s all because of Grandma Ann’s persistence–and the rest of us have been along for the ride–in reminding him to use asking words (“Could you hand me…?” instead of “I need the…”) and he’s giving a lot of pleases without prompting.

    Miles, on the other hand, seems genuinely uncomfortable with the word “please,” and he won’t say it. He’s often slow to develop comfort with new words and ideas (particularly with people’s names–he won’t say new names sometimes for months after he’s met someone), and I think our renewed emphasis on “please” has made him wary of saying it. But he is perfectly happy to change “Give me the…” to “Maman, can you…?” He’ll add the please eventually,

    After a few days of explicit reminders, usually they will rephrase (and re-tone) a request on their own or with a subtle cue from us (touching my ear, to show I’m still listening).

    Grandma Ann and I have also been making a real effort in pointing out people’s feelings and reactions, and we make a great team, noticing the boys’ and each other’s feelings and helping the boys notice, too. Miles really responds to this, but Elliott particularly doesn’t like responding when he’s done something that upset someone else. He needs time to process it and can only really engage after some time.

    And now even though it’s only 7:30 pm, I am taking more medicine and going to bed to try to shake this sore throat!

    • Alissa, this is good progress for three colds and a case of pinkeye! I think the stress of the move is catching up with you guys.

      Don’t worry about Elliot not responding with the words yet. He is soaking in what you say, and it will come out eventually, either in words or in actions. One question I do have is I wonder what he could do to make amends if he’s upset someone. Perhaps he can’t do something as big as get them a toy, or say that he didn’t mean to hurt them. Maybe it’s something much smaller. Could he do American Sign Language for “sorry” if he actually feels bad? Or does he really just need you to say and do the things for him, until he internalizes it? If so, then YOU could say, “Oh dear, I don’t think Elliot meant to hurt you/hurt your feelings. Elliot, what could we do to help him feel better? Should we get a toy that he might like?” Then, without waiting for a response, you look around. “Oh, maybe he’d like this matchbox car. Would you like to give it to him, or should I?” Then either response is fine. But in this way, you’re “doing it together” and he can gradually take over bits and pieces of it.

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