This is the last of three columns focusing on the best of Family Matters parenting strategies discussed during 2009.

This is the last of three columns focusing on the best of Family Matters parenting strategies discussed during 2009.


- Building sibling relationships: Nurture relationships by setting sibs up for productive play. Tell each child how lucky they are to have such a wonderful sister or brother. Refer to children as “your sister/brother.” Set them up for successful playtimes, in short time increments, which you monitor. When one sib is unkind to another, an apology is necessary, followed by an act of kindness toward that sibling. Help your child think of what would be a nice thing to do for his brother/sister to show how sorry he is.


- Through the eyes of a 2-year-old: Every age brings with it different stages of cognitive development. We sometimes get angry with our child when he does something that is actually very age-appropriate. Every age brings with it tremendous joys and endless challenges. Those are called teachable moments.


- Misbehaving or misunderstood: Some children truly cannot tolerate loud noises, bright lights or the feel of a piece of clothing. One or more of their senses may be heightened, causing them to act out or shut down when overexposed to that sensation. Look carefully at how your child responds to noise, smell, touch and visual stimulation to monitor sensory integration disorders. Respond with sensitivity and patience, not intolerance.


- Right on schedule: Children thrive on consistency. They learn by doing, over and over. Make a photo schedule book with photos of your child completing his morning and evening routines. Your child will participate with enthusiasm because children love to look at pictures of themselves. Eliminate the nagging and have him tell you what’s next on the schedule as he flips through his personal schedule book.


- Making sandwiches: Direct communication can be easy when we think of making a sandwich. With your bottom piece of bread, identify your child’s emotion (“I can tell you are really upset”), which provides empathy and helps to diffuse anger. Next comes the precise message (“I’d like to be able to help you but I cannot understand you when you are screaming.”), which is the meat of the sandwich. Finish your sandwich with a soft piece of bread by saying, “When you are able to come to me and whisper what you need, I will be able to help you.” Add a loving touch to make a really great sandwich!


- Get up and go: When you want to send a clear message of praise or redirection, get up and go! Touching your child while speaking provides a multisensory message. One parent called it “a miracle,” while another referred to it as “a Kodak moment.” A firm but loving touch on the shoulder communicates something important; a redirection, while a soft, gentle touch communicates our love or praise of a behavior. Reinforce as many positive behaviors as you can (with a touch added to your words) throughout each day, and watch your child's misbehaviors decrease.


Diana Boggia, M.Ed., is a parenting educator in Stark County, Ohio, whose column appears weekly in The Repository. Send your child-rearing questions to FamilyMatters@cantonrep.com or The Repository, c/o Family Matters, 500 Market Ave. S, Canton OH 44702.This column is the opinion of the writer and not of the newspaper.