I need resources on how to be more organized and how to stay on schedule.
Time management and organization are two skills that many people struggle with, so we're happy to see you are reaching out for help with this. These skills can definitely make life a lot easier and less stressful if used effectively. Here are a few basic time management tips:
Tip #1 – Take time to write things down and use a planner to schedule your events and appointments.
Tip #2 – Make lists of things you need to remember or tasks you need to complete. Then assign a date or time when you would like to have those tasks completed. Check this list every day to remind yourself of upcoming tasks.
Tip #3 – If you struggle with time management and following a daily routine, create a schedule and allow yourself a certain amount of time for each task you need to complete. For example: 5 minutes to brush your teeth, 10 minutes to get dressed, etc. Then set a timer in the morning for each task to help you stay on schedule.
My 17-year-old daughter is not making friends at school. She does fine academically but she doesn’t hang around with her old friends because they’re doing drugs. How can I help my daughter develop new friendships so she has a social outlet without seeming like I’m trying to control the issue?
Your daughter has made a good decision to stop spending time with friends who are doing drugs. Unfortunately, that decision has come with the consequences of not having any friends for a time. You may want to encourage your daughter to get a part-time job. It could help her to adjust to a new routine and provide the opportunity for her to meet a new set of people who are different from her old friends at school.
The more social settings your daughter experiences now, the better she will be able to handle things when she is on her own, perhaps in college or supporting herself with a job. Help your daughter identify her God-given talents and interests. Then, help her find activities that involve those interests. A club, group or job that is centered on her interests will help her develop her natural abilities and make new friends.
My 5-year-old niece is struggling in school. She's defiant, pitches fits and has been told by her teachers that she will need to wait another year before starting kindergarten. She acts up at home as well. How can my sister improve her daughter's behavior?
Teaching our children social skills is one of the earliest and most important jobs we have as parents. Social skills can be taught at home differently from how they’re taught at school. Consistency is the key. Your sister should teach her daughter the behavior she wants her to display and practice that behavior every day. Games like “Mother May I” and “Simon Says” are fun for young children to play and help them learn social skills like “Asking Permission” and “Following Instructions.”
For example, your sister can use “Simon Says” to teach your niece the skill of “Following Instructions” by telling her there are three rules:
- Look – Stop what you are doing and look at the person who’s talking
- Say – Say “Okay” so the person knows you are listening
- Do – Do what you are asked immediately and in the best way you can
As adults, we have to show the child what we want her to do so she understands what is expected of her and sees that she can do it. This means prompting her throughout the game to do what is being practiced.
Your sister can incorporate play throughout the day to reinforce the skill she is teaching. For example, before telling the child to come to the table, she can hold up three fingers and prompt the child to review the three steps required for the skill of “Following Instructions” (Look, Say, Do). Your sister also can give praise like high-fives, claps and encouraging words to reinforce positive behavior when the child does what she is asked to do. If your sister is consistent with her teaching and expectations, she should see positive results.
My 18-year-old daughter has “checked out” of life. She quit school in the tenth grade and is continuing her schooling via online courses. She does not have friends and shows no interest in making any. She sleeps most of the day and stays up late reading Internet blogs.
Her father and I were divorced 10 years ago, and she blames most everything on the divorce. I am remarried and have a second child who is 5 years old. My older daughter will have nothing to do with her half-sister and is rude to her.
I have suggested counseling, but she has declined. I have tried to help her get a job, make friends and sign up for more schooling. She lacks social skills and refuses to help around the house. I am afraid for her future.
Your daughter’s online schooling is an unnatural social setting for a teen. Without interaction with her peers, she is missing out on the discussions that teens share about preparing for their future and transitioning into the next phase of life.
At 18, your daughter would typically have a job, be making plans for college, maybe considering entering the military or receiving training to enter the workforce.
She needs responsibilities and chores around the house. Put her in charge of preparing the family’s evening meal once a week. Make the Internet and other electronic communication off-limits for the entire family at a certain time of the day. Help her become more adapted to normal work and school schedules. Have her explore viable job options. Insist that she get this vital experience while you are still supporting her. She cannot wait until she is out on her own and financially responsible for herself.
Your daughter can decline counseling if she can prove that she does not need it. So, let her know what she is required to do to prove her normalcy and if she does not comply, ensure that she attend counseling sessions. This is not optional.
My 2-year-old started going to a Montessori school and adjusted very well at first. But with time, she has not shown the development that her classmates have demonstrated. In fact, it seems that she has regressed. She can sing her assigned poems at home, but in school she just cries and clings to me. I want to be a better mother and teacher at home. How can I help her be more social and responsive at school?
We have a few questions for you to consider. Is your daughter the same age as the other children in her class? How many children are in the class? Are other parents involved in the class? Does your daughter have separation issues? Does she respond in a tearful or shy manner in other social situations?
As parents, we often compare our children to others. But each child develops at a different rate, so please try not to compare her to her peers. It may be that at age 2, she is not ready for a classroom setting. This does not mean that she will never be ready.
How your daughter responds to certain social situations is not an indicator that you need to be a better parent. You obviously are a good mother who is involved in your daughter’s learning and development. She is responding to you at home, which shows that she is learning the material. She just may not feel comfortable at this time in this type of classroom environment.
Talk to her teacher. He or she has most likely had similar situations occur in the past and may have some suggestions for you. You may also seek recommendations from your daughter’s pediatrician. Another possible option is to continue the Montessori curriculum at home or with a smaller group of children with which your daughter would feel more comfortable participating.
If this is not possible, consider other types of activities in which to involve your daughter, such as story time at the library, music classes and play groups. These types of activities afford your daughter the chance to interact with other children in perhaps a less stressful way for her.
I am afraid that my nearly 9-year-old daughter might have a mental health problem. I’ve noticed the following behaviors for a few years, but they are getting more pronounced as she gets older.
She is overly sensitive and cries quite a bit. She is extremely self-centered. She wants to decide what game to play, and when her friends voice a different opinion she quits and sulks. She engages in attention-seeking behavior, such as demanding that everyone watch her dance. She talks incessantly and makes untrue statements. She is overly affectionate, often hugging her friends while they pull away.
Her behavior is resulting in her being excluded from peer groups. She says nobody likes her and she doesn’t know why.
She also excessively worries and is afraid to be alone. She won’t even go into a room by herself. Instead, she follows me around the house day and night. She needs a lot of praise, but when she gets it she only criticizes herself. She complains of physical ailments, but her doctors cannot find anything medically wrong with her. On the plus side, she is very bright and is doing well in school academically.
If you have not done so already, we encourage you to talk to your daughter’s pediatrician regarding a referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist for a mental health evaluation. This evaluation can help determine if your daughter is struggling with a mental health issue and if further intervention is needed, such as counseling.
It is important that you discuss with your daughter how her behavior affects others. Do not shy away from it out of fear that it will hurt her feelings. Be kind, but be direct. She already knows that her peers are responding to her negatively, but she does not seem to understand why.
It is important to teach her skills such as having a conversation, getting along with others, accepting criticism, listening to others, etc. Acquiring these skills will result in more positive social interactions with her peers. She will come to learn what is and what is not acceptable behavior.
Is your daughter involved in extracurricular activities like sports or dance? These activities provide a sense of accomplishment and bring her into contact with other children who share her interests. Volunteering is another good option. It causes your daughter to think of others’ needs rather than focusing on herself so much.
You might want to consider a parenting class to help you deal with your daughter’s behavior. You could also read the book “Common Sense Parenting: Using Your Head as Well as Your Heart to Raise School-Aged Children” by Ray Burke, Ph.D., Ron Herron and Bridget A. Barnes. This book contains information on the social skills previously mentioned and how best to teach these skills.
My 10-year-old is very defiant. I have tried rewards and taking away privileges, but neither seems to work. He does not care if he loses privileges. He is becoming physically aggressive. I have tried counseling, but it has been ineffective. What else can I do?
There is a technique you could try called Corrective Teaching. Giving consequences is part of this practice, but it also includes teaching appropriate behaviors. This is an element that is often neglected with a strict reward or punishment approach.
Children often know what they are NOT supposed to do, but they are unclear as to what their parents expect of them instead. Corrective Teaching combines clear messages with consequences, and allows for opportunities to practice the appropriate skills to help parents respond to problem behaviors.
First, describe the problem behavior to your son and firmly tell him to stop. Give a negative consequence, either taking away a privilege or assigning a chore. Next, describe the positive behavior he should use instead of the misbehavior. Have him practice the positive behavior you have described. If he practices the desired behavior with sincere effort, he can earn back part of a privilege. This “carrot” should motivate him to continue to replace poor behavior with appropriate behavior.
Do not expect immediate results. This will take time, patience and encouragement. In the meantime, if you are interested in counseling or parent support groups, we have a database of referrals. We are also available 24/7. Call us at 1-800-448-3000. You can also visit a section on parenting.org called “Social Skills.”
My 10-year-old son was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 6. He is constantly crying and stealing things from school. He does not take responsibility for his actions when he is in the wrong. Is this a symptom of ADHD? We have been to counselors and have changed his medication, but nothing seems to help.
Daily skills that are easy for us are not always easy for people who have ADHD. This frustration often leads to higher emotions (crying) and impulsive decisions. That being said, stealing itself is not a specific behavior typically associated with mental health disorders. What you will need to focus on during treatment is impulsive behavior and poor decision-making skills.
ADHD is something that requires constant intervention. This involves using different parenting styles to break down instructions and tasks, counseling to teach him additional social skills and extra support and attention at school to help him be successful. It is important that these interventions remain in place until he is able to manage independently. Understand that there will be struggles, which are frustrating for him as well.
If you feel like your son is not “clicking” with his counselor, it is appropriate to find a new one. Once you find a counselor who works well with your son’s needs and personality, you might notice improved behavior and skills. He must feel comfortable with his counselor before change will occur.
I am a 32-year-old mother of four boys. I discipline by yelling and arguing, and I want to change this pattern. I just get frustrated when my children don’t listen and refuse to do their chores. How can I get my children to listen without resorting to yelling?
When you speak to your sons:
1. Get at their eye level so you can look into each other’s eyes.
2. Remove distractions by turning off the TV or electronic devices.
3. Be aware of your body language and tone of voice. Kids read meaning into them as much as the words you use.
Teach them the following listening skills. They will need to know these social skills throughout their lives. Social skills have behavioral steps, meaning that when your children use them, you will be able to see those behaviors and reinforce them or encourage them to use the ones they have left out.
LISTENING TO OTHERS
When someone is speaking, you should:
1. Look at the person who is talking.
2. Sit or stand quietly.
3. Wait until the person is finished talking. (Don’t interrupt; it will seem like you are being rude or are uninterested.)
4. Show that you understand. (Say “OK,” “Thanks” or “I see.” Ask the person to explain if you don’t understand.)
At a neutral time, remove distractions and teach your boys these skills. Describe what you want them to do (the steps above). Give them a good “kid reason” for doing it that way. A “kid reason” shows the benefit to them and not the adult. Have them practice what you have just taught them. Practice frequently, keep it brief and make it fun.
Give them reasons why listening is an important skill to learn. It shows that you are polite, pleasant and cooperative. It increases the chances that people will listen to you. Listening will also help you do the right thing since you are more likely to understand what the other person has said.
When you observe your sons using these skills or even some of them, reinforce them, praise them for using the skills and describe specifically what they did well. It may sound like this: “Way to go! You are using your listening skills. When Mommy started to talk, you stopped what you were doing and looked right at me. That’s great! Next time, remember to wait until I am finished talking before you ask a question or say OK.”
My daughter has been having a difficult time fitting in this year. She says that she initiates conversations, and she is either ignored, told to shut up or just looked at like she’s from another planet. I don’t know what I can do to help her. I have spoken with the school counselor, but nothing has changed. Each passing day it gets worse, and my daughter is becoming severely depressed. She doesn’t want to go to school in the mornings, and she locks herself in her room at night and on the weekends. She is a kind-hearted little girl who loves life and everything in it, but I can see the joy draining from her daily.
Thank you for reaching out for help for your daughter. It is difficult to watch our children be unsuccessful at anything, whether it is academic, athletic or social. You did not share the age of your daughter, which makes it somewhat difficult for us to make age-appropriate suggestions.
Without going into other symptoms of depression, you have enough valid concerns to make an appointment to have her evaluated and begin counseling. We would also encourage you to do some things right away besides making that call for an appointment.
First, identify what your daughter is good at and what her interests are. Find a way to promote those interests and help her get more involved in them. Go to the library and check out books on the topic of interest. Find activities or events where others who have similar interests gather to share ideas or enjoyment of their hobby.
Without being too forceful, invite her out of her room in the evenings to share some time with you. Talk about weekend plans and what you can do as a family. Do not allow her withdrawal to continue. Some private time is OK, but all evening or all weekend is not emotionally healthy.