Rough Play for Kids Teaches Respect, Ethics and Boundaries

My two sons love to rough play and when they first started out with rough play, let me tell you what, I cringed! I really had to get used to the idea that rough play was fun for these too rough n tumble boys, and figure out ways to supervise that allowed them the fun with rough play. Through watching my two sons play rough, I have seen what it is that rough play actually teaches these boys and I am now an avid promoter of rough playing.

What Life Lessons Kids Learn from Rough Play

Many parents who come around, that are not parent to boys cringe at the idea that I allow my boys to play so rough. I have to explain this same scenario out to everyone who hasn’t had this experience; with rough and tumble kids. I want to be clear, girls can be just as rough and tumble as boys, they can learn the same skills that boys learn from this rough and tumble play so please be aware that this post may be focused on my sons, this pertains to girls as well.

What Kids learn from Rough Play With Supervision

Many nights a week my sons wish to wrestle before we start our end of night bedtime routine. If both boys are game, I allow them to wrestle which really involves some major rough housing. Take note: this is not hyper rough play, it’s calculated rough play where they each work to win the other. The goal, I believe, is usually for one of them to be pinned down over and over again. Poor Aj who lacks some fine motor skills, ends up on the ground more often than not. One rule to rough play for me, as the parent supervising, is I want to see that each have a smile on their face – meaning they look as if they are enjoying it. Rough play is for enjoyable fun, not for one to have a blast beating the other one up.

My little man started off these rough play adventures with a very arrogant side, he is my most self absorbed child which I feel is somewhat normal for his age group. I have had to work really hard to teach my little man to respect the boundaries of Aj and to really learn the cues Aj puts out there when he is genuinely hurt or simply not having fun anymore. Little man has come so far in learning his brothers cues and 99% of the time he does respect those boundaries. Each listen to ensure that they are not physically harming the other but boy do they take a beating.

Each love to grab and throw the other around, karate chop each other and simply run in a circle giggling a lot. They get rather rough to a point where I have to shut my mouth, the Mom in me will probably never be used to this rough play stuff, but it’s so important because it teaches some important life lessons and helps the boys learn how to handle testosterone boosts they will experience most of their lives.

Kids Learn life lessons with Rough Play

What Kids Learn From Rough Play

Sportsmanship - If supervised properly your children will learn sportsmanship through rough play. Each allowing the other to take turns, each respecting the other winning and being happy the other one. Each attempting to compete in a healthy way with each other.

Boundaries of Other People – If supervised properly your children will learn the boundaries of the sibling they are rough housing with. For example, the boys know when to be rougher with each other and when to be a bit more careful as they have learned to read each other as well as their sister when rough playing.

How to Handle Frustration – If supervised properly your children will learn how to healthily take out frustrations and testosterone boosts, your sons will have boosts of testosterone and frustration being of the male species, rough play has actually been researched and proven to help teen boys handle testosterone fluctuations better as well as learn to handle conflict properly.

Friendship, Bonds and Sibling Love – If supervised properly your children will learn to have a sibling bond of love and friendship with their rough playing partner, each having learned the three skills and lessons above, will eventually have a larger level of trust for each other, as well as the outside world.

Do you have rough and tumble kids? Do you feel they are learning some important lessons through this play? What lessons do you think they learn?

My Juggling Act – Making Time for All Children

I have three children, for some that seems like a lot to keep up with while others have far more children than me and see it as less of a challenge. Having children, no matter how many can always lead to a juggling act. Some are juggling work, family and home while others juggle home and family only. Whatever you are juggling, we all know as parents that a 12 hour day doesn’t ever seem long enough. I am here to share with you what I do to ensure I make time for each of my children, specifically  my youngest, as well as share a few tips on how I make it all work!

How to Make Time for Each Child

With my  middle child being different than my other two, having a previous mood disorder & anxiety diagnosis but awaiting an autism evaluation, you can imagine my hands are full. It’s often difficult to realize I haven’t paid one ounce of positive attention to my other two children because Aj had me so preoccupied tending to his needs. Due to Aj needing so much of my attention, energy and strength I have to be very conscious of paying positive attention to my other two children; why? Because it’s important that my other two children know I do love them just as much as Aj and that they are just as important. It’s also important to pay positive attention to my other two children because I don’t want them to start to have bitter feelings towards myself as a Mom who may not pay them enough attention nor having those feelings about their special needs brother. It’s not Aj’s fault he requires more attention and time from me, it’s no one’s fault.

How To Juggling Your Kids

For my youngest it’s easy to spend positive attention time with him because he is pretty simple. At age 5 the most important thing you can do for K-man is to pay attention to what interests him. K-man doesn’t really care if you are truly interacting but he does care that you are physically and mentally there in the moment playing cars, Legos or blocks with him. Our most recent time together involved him setting up his many vehicles in his room and me attempting to make a race track for him. We had a blast and it only required about 15 minutes of my time before dinner. That’s another good point; the amount of minutes per child doesn’t seem to have mattered to my children. Just a simple 15 minute time allotted for each child to have your undivided attention makes for the difference between a child acting out to get any form of attention versus a child who can have patience knowing they will get the positive attention at some point that day.

Making Time for All Children is Important

I must admit spending a minimum of 15 minutes positively interacting with each of my children really changes their moods. My K-man tends to enjoy any attention he can get and if you are not giving him enough positive attention, he will seek out the negative attention. Aj is more simple, he doesn’t seem to feel the need for a lot of one on one time but I am working on getting him to be more interactive at a comfortable-for-him level. My oldest and only daughter tends to drift off the grid a bit when her brothers are requiring more time from me, but I do ensure that my daughter and I get a Mom/Daughter day every so often and I also make sure to spend 15 minutes minimum with her at end of day after her brothers are asleep. This has helped us build a bond stronger than a herd of elephants.

Four Tips on How to Ensure your Children Get Positive Parent Time

  • Know Your Children – Out of everyone in the whole world you should be the one person who knows what makes your children happy.  If they enjoy Legos, play Legos. If they enjoy chatting about their life, listen to them chat. If they want to read books, pretend play or so on, do that with them. Ensure you are engaging in one on one time that is based on an activity your child loves to do.
  • Realize It’s Quality not Quantity That Counts -  Spend a minimum of 15 minutes each day with one on one time. The magic number I have found that works best is a minimum of 15 minutes each day per child. Be sure to set a timer so that when it beeps they know their time is up. Also be sure to set aside your cell phone and give your child your 100% undivided attention. Kids know when you are not “really there”.
  • Remind Your Children to Respect Their Sibling’s One on One Time – Be sure to get your other children engaged together or individually with something that will allot you the 15 minutes with their sibling. Remind each child that they too will get your undivided attention on their turn. This teaches the skills of manners, family bonding, and taking turns.
  • Get in Touch with Your Inner Child – During these one on one time sessions remember, while you are this child’s parent, that this particular time with your child is all about having fun, being silly and connecting with them on their level. Have fun with it, be silly and creative, should I dare say be goofy?! It’s suppose to be fun one on one time, make sure that it is!

There you have it, a few ways I have ensured that I am raising my children to be happy and healthy. I hope these tips will assist you in gaining more positive one on one time with your children which will increase the bond you two have from now to forever.

Sometimes The Battle is Harder than You Ever Dreamed #bipolar #mooddisorder #parents

My son has a mood disorder, I can honestly say Bipolar but the clinical diagnosis is one of two things; his counselor says “Mood Disorder – NOS” meaning he has a mood disorder not otherwise specified, his new psychiatrist is trying to diagnose him with “Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder”. Either way, he clearly has a mood thing going on and since bipolar is what runs heavily in the gene pool as well as what I grew up watching my younger sister (and only sibling) have; I will tell you he is by far bipolar. At age 7 and even younger though, they won’t diagnose such a mood disorder because he is so young. On average it seems bipolar doesn’t get diagnosed until closer to age 12, that’s just based on my own personal research.

Based on working with a counselor then a psychiatrist and now back to dealing with both, it’s clear my son has an issue with moods; they switch off and on like a light switch when not properly medicated, he’s easily irritated, he has some sensory sensitivities, he also has irritability and other symptoms that put altogether make it difficult for me to parent him as his primary caregiver and him lead a normal seven year old boy life. Don’t get me wrong ,he’s a fighter and since he also has anxiety, he is able to play sports, do well in school and function in society. The thing is that when his medication is off, his anxiety comes out more, he is more easily provoked, he melts down more and his routine driven and very serious can’t take “sayings” as just saying’s personality comes into play more. It’s difficult because we all use metaphors in our world but Aj can’t really deal with metaphors, when it comes to Aj, what you say is what you mean and what you get is what you get. There is no grey area, it’s black or white only.

When Aj is really having issues with medications or things are going a bit off kilter, I usually text my friend Dwan, because she is the one person who has been in my life for many moons and knows all too well most of what I’m dealing with. Dwan is who can easily help me in some ways when it comes to Aj because maybe she has tried something I haven’t with her own child or maybe she has learned something from a professional that I haven’t yet. It’s all about my online community of friends and I have a pretty good mix of them that can assist when times like yesterday happen.

Recently the psychiatrist added Prozac to Aj’s abilify treatment for medication. This was meant to help with his anxiety that he still sort of has in school situations, but his anxiety wasn’t anything major, he is just a bit more reluctant to act out aggressively in school because it’s not his “comfort zone”. At home, Aj is who he truly is and honestly isn’t that normal for most people? So we went along with the Prozac idea because, well we didn’t know what other option to try at this point because the abilify wasn’t working the way it should. I will be honest, I am insanely angry about putting him on Prozac. His moods are worse, he is more irritable and he is not happy at all.

Yesterday …. he had a dentist appointment so I took him there and we had a decent morning, he had a mini meltdown of anxiety when he had to go alone (which is the norm) back with the hygenist to get ready for his silver cap to be placed on his molar. I was able to be strong and be brave for him and encouraged him to go with the lady and he did so with a bit of tears in his eyes, but he did it. Then on our way home he decided he was angrily hungry, like OMG the world is going to fall apart if he didn’t eat right in that moment. We were in the middle of a city I am not going to drive around in to find food. I had to have him wait, he had eaten a great breakfast and snack earlier, he was fine. I also had a drink in car for him so he could drink that while he waited for me to happen upon a food place closer to home.

Then it happened, we got to the school to wait to pick up his brother and it was rainy outside. Aj decided he could no longer wait in the van, he had to get out. I told him that he could get out of the van if he wanted to, I could see him from where I sat in my van and I had an umbrella he could use. The next thing that happened took me by complete shock; my son jumped from his back seat and wrapped both arms around me, had me pinned to my driver seat in a fit of rage/anger and I could barely get his arms off of me. (yes I was parked with van off at this time, he didn’t do this while vehicle running) I nearly broke. The thing is when parenting a child with a mood disorder you have to be the stronger one, the smarter one, the patient one and when I say these words, you have to be those things both mentally and physically. Which is why I need to start working out again, my seven year old is and has always been one BUFF boy. He is starting to get stronger than me.

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Siblings: Dealing with a Child who is Different

The DaughterI tend to not like the word different or normal as it pertains to children or even people for that matter. After all, each of us is unique but I am having difficulty coming to form another word that makes sense right now. All I can say is that my middle child is different than my other two children; sure my oldest and youngest are different from each other as well, but not as much as my middle is to them. My middle child has the biggest heart, just like his siblings he loves with all his might. Unlike his siblings, it takes more time to earn and keep that love and trust. My middle child is sometimes guarded, anxious and unable to trust right away. My middle child has a huge bond with me, which is why when last week he had a bloody nose at school and I had to bring a shirt to school, the school nurse brought it to him. The school nurse and I both knew if I brought that shirt to him, he would have an issue. The anxiety he has would kick in because a familiar “safe” person would be there and his anxiety would flood over the fact that he had a bloody nose at school. When I am not visible, he fights better, harder and knows he doesn’t have a choice other than to do that. Essentially his anxiety helps him stay bottled up at school, so his moods don’t show when at school.

What I am having an issue with at this time is that my middle child’s medication dose seems to be off a little bit, sadly with a growing boy, his medication doses need to change often. Combine the fact that this child, Aj, has always been the type to have a high tolerance for medication, meaning his body metabolizes it quicker than most people. So when Aj’s medication is off, his moods are off, when his moods are off, everything is off. It’s a domino effect. When you have a child who has a mood disorder or something “different” going on, it plays a toll on that child and the family as a whole. Since we are a very close knit family, it plays a hard toll on us deeper than those who are not as close knit.

IMG_1128My oldest understands Aj has a mood disorder, she has lived this much longer than her little five year old brother. My daughter knows when Aj is off what to expect and how to keep away to ensure she isn’t hurt. While my daughter still tends to instigate her brother, which baffles me, because when his manic moods come into play – he won’t think twice before reacting. He has close to no control and sometimes he has no control. He has a chemical imbalance in his brain, it’s not something one can control except with proper medication and therapy. I don’t have to explain to my daughter what is going on with Aj when he is off, she just knows. This is a child who, before Aj was medicated, was found on occasion in a corner crying huddled up because her little brother was so insanely angry that she couldn’t bear being near him. It wasn’t safe. That was years ago and since then we have done a lot of therapy and worked to ensure Aj gets proper help.

My youngest on the other hand, has no clue what’s up with his brother. To my youngest it’s all about “monkey see, monkey do” and so it’s harder because I have to spend time making sure my Aj isn’t off his rocker and going to hurt someone while at the same time teach my youngest that Aj’s behavior, while not acceptable, isn’t something he is doing on purpose. Aj cannot control it. Aj has medicine that is not working right and he doesn’t mean to be this way. Don’t get me wrong, Aj still has consequences for his actions; he has to for two reasons 1) no matter if his medication is off or not, we can’t go backwards in parenting just to “keep the peace” and 2) his siblings, especially the little one, needs to know this is not tolerated behavior no matter what.  I am having a hard time figuring out how to explain to my youngest that his brother is “different’, that his brother has a condition that makes his moods be up and down. His brother loves him but he doesn’t love the same as sissy and little brother does. It’s different.

IMG_1159Like I said, my oldest grew up with Aj not on medication, then on different kinds of medications until finally we had a person diagnose the mood disorder and use child mood disorder medication to see if that worked, and it did. My oldest has seen the ups and downs and has lived through it. She has seen it play the toll on me as a single Mom, a married Mom and a dating Mom. My oldest has experienced this for longer of a time and she is older so she gets it and she tries to accept it because she knows I will fight to fix this. Always.

I am at a loss on how to work with my youngest so he understands what’s up with his brother. I don’t want their bond broken because Aj’s medication is off and his current psychiatrist intern isn’t really hearing us. She is too new to him and so we have to start over because of this new person. Starting over isn’t an option because 1) we have worked too hard to get here and 2) it’s a negative domino effect to the family as a whole.

How do you work with siblings to ensure they understand what’s up with their sibling who is “different”? Open for advice and suggestions for what worked for you.

 

Sibling Playtime: How to Combat the Inevitable Fights

Despite the blatant balking, once siblings are encouraged to play together, they will realise how much fun it can really be. The problem is trying to get them to play nicely without the inevitable squabbling, screaming and fighting.

As soon as another child enters your family, it’s up to you to encourage their older sibling to get involved. From the off, if they are included as much as possible, they will automatically build a bond with the new baby which will stand them in good stead for when they’re old enough to play together.

While little ones may not find the idea of sibling playtime appealing, especially if there’s a bit of an age gap between them, there are various ways in which to ensure the process runs smoothly rather than ending in fights.

Role Play Games

Encourage role play between them so that they can take it in turns to be who they want to be. Not only does it stimulate the imagination but it will also bring them closer together by making sure that they have plenty of fun.

Add a few role play toys to their toy selection if you haven’t already. Items such as the Laugh & Learn Say Please Tea Set that would be fabulous for younger children.

A well-stocked dressing up box will give siblings hours of pretend play opportunities too – you don’t have to spend a lot on fancy costumes either; there’s plenty in your wardrobe that could be added to their chest full of goodies!

Messy Play

Make some time for some creative play together. Having a draw packed full of arts & crafts materials, such as play dough, paints and pipecleaners will encourage them to sit and spend time together creating their own little masterpieces (and making a mess while they’re at it!)

Gardening

It may be an extremely loose term for what young children do in the garden, but there’s nothing better than enjoying the outdoors together. Whether it’s helping you to plant vegetable seeds or you leave them to their own devices with a trowel and a watering can, the last thing they’ll do is fight – they’ll be far too busy getting muddy and digging up worms!

Baking

A perfect activity for a rainy day, baking can bring families together. Your children can all have their own responsibilities and they can help eachother to make some fabulously delectable goodies. These sorts of activities help with cognitive development, language and social interactions – perfect for siblings to get together and enjoy eachother’s company.

By providing plenty of options for games and activities that will include all of the children in the home, you will be able to reduce the chance of any sibling rivalry that could exist and will have a nice, calm (and probably still not quiet) home.

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