Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Coping with Behavior

Tools for Coping with Behavior

Note, the title of this post: Tools for Coping with Behavior. Not, troubling behaviors, problem behaviors, or disturbing behaviors. Simply, behavior.

What is behavior?

Kauffman and Landrum[1] place great emphasis on the fact that “children and youth arouse negative feelings and induce negative behavior in others”. How others respond, react and treat these children and youth often leads to isolation and prevents children and youth from learning how to behave ACCEPTABLY. 

I wanted to highlight this because behaviors are a “range of actions and mannerisms made by organisms, systems, or artificial entities in conjunction with their environment, which includes the other systems or organisms around as well as the physical environment. It is the response of the system or organism to various stimuli or inputs, whether internal or external, conscious or subconscious, overt or covert, and voluntary or involuntary”[2].

Behaviors are not inherently good or bad, right or wrong. We as people and a society place judgments on behaviors and determine what we consider to be acceptable or “appropriate”. As a parent and professional this bugs me. So many children are labeled and isolated for responding to stimuli in a way that is instinctual to them. Instead of isolating them or labeling them, why don’t we teach them behaviors that we consider acceptable for the given situation. And that’s another thing, rules for behavior change in different settings and that is CONFUSING for adults and children. Let’s be patient, supportive, and provide children and youth with the skills needed to regulate their emotions so they may think about how they are going to respond to stimuli in socially acceptable ways.

How do we do this?

One way, is to determine why a child is demonstrating a behavior. Behavior often serves a function or purpose. For example, a child might tantrum before dinner to avoid eating vegetables, or yell at peers when he or she feels embarrassed, or say “bad” words during a writing lesson to avoid the trouble they have with handwriting, etc. After the function of the behavior is indentified replace it with a socially acceptable behavior that serves the same function. For example, having a special bear to hug when feeling embarrassed to diminish the uncomfortable feelings or allowing the child to help prepare the vegetables to make them seem less frightening or “gross”. 

Another way is to teach children and youth strategies for coping with behaviors that may be out of their control due to a variety of reasons. Some common coping strategies are breathing techniques, taking a cool-down break, squeezing stress balls, bouncing on a ball or trampoline to release tension, manipulating play-doh or clay, painting, drawing a picture, and utilizing children’s literature.

Where can I find more ideas and information about coping strategies?
I have created a board on pinterest (CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE BOARD) that showcases many more coping strategies and I will continually add more resources to the board. I have not tried all of these strategies but feel that readers of the blog can access the information and determine what you feel might work for you. 

Feel free to share favorite coping strategies or methods that did not work for you in the comments bellow.

[1] Kauffman, J. M. & Landrum, T.J. (2009). Characteristics of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders of Children and Youth (Ninth Edition). Columbus, Ohio: Merrill (Pearson).
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavior
*Picture citation: https://www.google.com/search?q=behavior&client=firefox-a&hs=jWE&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=ds2bUc6tO8GyrgGlwIDwBg&ved=0CAoQ_AUoAQ&biw=1366&bih=638#imgrc=0oHbsWWhI-dOdM%3A%3Bddd7D8Mh7TYhzM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252F4.bp.blogspot.com%252F-WXAbCjk4-hw%252FTfbWpDLGAKI%252FAAAAAAAAAA8%252FLTXkthaFs2A%252Fs320%252Fdiscipline.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fnicadez.blogspot.com%252F2012%252F09%252Ffree-behavior-slip.html%3B320%3B265

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mothers in 2013: Still Anchored Down with Cooking, Cleaning, and Childcare?

Mothers in 2013: Still Anchored Down with Cooking, Cleaning, and Childcare?
While women have gained more independence outside of the home, they still seem to be anchored down with more than their fair share of family work (cooking, cleaning, and childcare) inside the home.

Are males doing more work at home? 
While males have slightly increased their contribution to family work, females still perform two times more family work than the average male (Coltrane, 2000; Robinson & Godbey, 1997; Walker, 1999; as cited in McGraw & Walker, 2004, p. 180).

Why is this?

  • Couples with children tend to have more traditional divisions of household work than childless couples (Baxter, Hewitt, and Haynes, 2008, p. 260).

  • Men and women in cohabiting couples experienced greater equality in household work than those in married unions (Baxter, Hewitt, & Haynes, 2008, p. 261).

  • Continued idealization of the traditional nuclear family; we still strive to achieve the roles characterized for the breadwinning father and homemaker mother family model—despite growing diversity in family forms

  • We have created a “gender system” in which men are valued employees who work around the clock with no time for anything besides work and women are restricted to care giving and family work (Williams, 2000; as cited in McGraw & Walker, 2004, p. 177 and Ferree, 2010, p. 430).

  • Children are socialized to conform to the ideals that males are “naturally” aggressive and innate competitors while females are “naturally” nurturing and innate caregivers
  • Males’ “instrumental” activities of providing finances and protecting their wives and children from harm and females’ “expressive” activities of supporting their husbands and caring for children (Kingsbury & Scanzoni, 1995; as cited in McGraw & Walker, 2004, p. 178).
  • Females “specialize” in family work and males “specialize” in paid labor because it is an “efficient” means to obtain the greatest results of household utility (Becker, 1991; Sayer, England, Bittman, & Bianchi, 2004, p. 6).
  •   Our society distributes resources unequally and this theoretically causes the contradiction in gender and diverse family forms (McGraw & Walker, 2004, p. 186).
Okay. So you told me why mothers and women are doing more cooking, cleaning, and childcare but HOW CAN WE CHANGE THIS SYSTEM?

Educating families on the dynamics at play might help them to find balances that work best for them

What might this balance look like?
  •  Creating a family work schedule that divides cooking, cleaning, and childcare amongst mothers and fathers (partners) in a manner that works for both.
  • Do not be afraid to speak up if you feel trapped in a traditional gender role. COMMUNICATION is key. 
  •   Mom takes one day off a week. Other family members take care of the household that day. 
  •  Write household tasks (examples: sort laundry, unload dishwasher, make dinner, take out trash, pick up kids from soccer, etc) down on strips of paper. Place strips in a jar. Family members randomly draw their tasks to avoid gender specific socialization.
On a larger scale, replacing the gender system with a new system that distributes resources to families equally would greatly change society and allow women to overcome some of the barriers plaguing them and keeping them in the domestic role.


*Picture Citation: https://www.google.com/search?q=anchor+home&client=firefox-a&hs=sxn&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=1FWPUZ_RCpHO9gT1r4CwAw&ved=0CAoQ_AUoAQ&biw=1366&bih=638#imgrc=STLwv9jICbFp9M%3A%3BAqX5rJ6dALFkJM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fimages.veerle.duoh.com%252Fuploads%252Finspiration-images%252Fanchor-home-big.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fveerle.duoh.com%252Finspiration%252Fdetail%252Fhome%3B600%3B847

Friday, May 10, 2013

In Our Mothers' House: A Book Recommendation

*I am cross-posting this book review on this blog because it is an excellent resource for discussing aspects of empathy and promoting acceptance of two mother and adoptive families. Regardless of your values and beliefs, it is essential to discuss different family forms with children. For more book reviews please visit Randie’s Book Reviews
and Randie and Dr. Amy’s Bibliotherapy Hangout.

Polacco, P. (2009). In our mothers’ house. New York, NY: Philomel Books.

Genre: Children’s Picture Storybook 

Polacco stepped aside from her usual books based on personal experiences and heritage to write a book for children and families that she has met in schools, at speaking engagements, etc. In Our Mothers’ House is the story of three adopted children and the love and devotion they received from their two mothers in their mothers' house. Polacco’s story highlights the love of this family but also showcases some of the challenges and discrimination that “non-traditional” families face. 

I particularly enjoyed the scenes in which the mothers sewed the children’s homemade Halloween costumes and dresses for a special tea. Despite all the love and support the two mothers offered their children, there was one mother in the neighborhood that was not accepting of their non-traditional family and it is beyond sad that these children had to deal with the hateful confrontation of this cold, bitter woman in such a public manner. Fortunately, Marmee and Meema were loving individuals and they did not let the hateful comments of one person impact the love in their hearts. 

I admire their strength and respectful response to hatred. The book follows the three children into their adult lives. Sharing their marriages at their mothers' house, capturing the first steps of their own children at their mothers' house, and coming together for family events/gatherings after their mothers have passed...this story is remarkably touching and  brought tears to my eyes.

Beautiful, beautiful story of unconditional love. Polacco at her finest!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

RESOLVE's Advocacy Day!

RESOLVE's Advocacy Day is today!
Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What is Advocacy Day all about?

Men and women impacted by infertility are gathering together in Washington, D.C. to raise awareness about infertility issues and offer support for families impacted by infertility.

While, I am not in Washington, D.C., when I heard about this event, I thought I would take part by spreading the word. 

Infertility refers to the inability to contribute to conception. Both males and females can struggles with infertility for a variety of reasons. Infertility can be emotionally, physically, and financially draining for individuals and families...this event is just one way to offer them support and empowerment.

Resolve's Advocacy Day is focusing on two issues that I encourage you to learn more about.
  1. Infertility Tax Credit: A bill to offer a tax credit for the costs of IVF and fertility preservation for cancer and other diseases was introduced in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. The credit is called the "Family Act" and will help thousands of people seek medical treatment that otherwise would not have the resources to do soRead more here about the Family Act.
  2.  Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvements Act: Senator Patty Murray introduced the Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act S 131. "This bill will provide access to fertility treatment for seriously injured veterans and their spouses, adoption assistance, permanent authority for VA to provide child care, and other elements. Read more here about the Women's Veterans and Other Health Care Improvements Act."
    For more info on Resolve's Advocacy Day, click this link.