Article If you are having difficulty getting your child to eat a meal or going to bed here some tips that will help. 0 2013 Life coaching Family coaching life coaching Lifecoachhub Pty Ltd LifeCoachHub

Behavioral Issues in Children Under Five: Tackling Meals and Bedtime

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Having a difficult time with your child? Many parents say that their child is difficult and they cannot control them. 

For a lot of parents it is hard to balance everything including looking after their child. Parents often work and if one parent is a stay at home parent he or she will be looking after the children full time.

Behavioural issues in CHILDREN UNDER FIVE

Under 5s are exploring and testing parents in what they can do and cannot do. They say you need a lot of patience to be a parent but I would say you need to also understand the child and even get down to their level sometimes to get the best out of them.

Here is a story of someone I know who claims to have a problem child. If you read this and you feel this might be like you I have a few tips at the end.

A friend of mine has always had difficulty with her child Rhiannon who is now aged five. My friend had a difficult birth and suffered after with depression. Some people say they did not bond due to this depression and that might be true. Rhiannon is lively and like most children who are five will run about all day, want to have her parents all to herself, and will get tired and then upset.

The problem my friend has with Rhiannon is getting her to eat food and bedtime.

The relationship between Rhiannon and her dad isn’t as good as it could be. Dad is at work all day and usually comes home tired. When he gets home, he will just spend time on his computer and not pay much attention on Rhiannon, so she will get upset and start to misbehave because her dad is not giving her any attention. It is then difficult for the whole family to do activities, and usually Rhiannon will turn to her uncle who is playful and will give her attention she needs.

Rhiannon will usually not comply with her parents when it comes to dinner time or bedtime. Rhiannon will pick at her food, leave the table, shout, ask for other food and sometimes just run about. At bedtime she will avoid and take no notice of her parents when they ask her to get ready for bed. It will take 30 minutes to get her ready for bed with Rhiannon running about and both parents shouting and getting stressed.

Let’s look at this situation many parents are in and some ways of avoiding it.


1. Set clear rules and boundaries

Always do these with the child, making sure they come up with few themselves as the more they make up, the better they will follow them. Remember to make a list and put it on the wall where the child can see these rules. You can be creative if you want to, asking the child to draw, or you could draw pictures yourself and have your child colour them in, like a sign saying "No football in the house."

2. Bedtime Behavioural issues in children

Follow the above rules and make sure you set a bedtime. Bedtime should include getting ready for bed as well and getting into bed. Most children like to have a story told to them and this is much better then listening to music or watching TV (don’t allow screens in their room or as part of bedtime as it will not help them get off to sleep). If your child has difficulty getting ready, allow this in your bedtime ritual, so it could the whole process might take as long as an hour and half. It might seem long but once the child knows this is time to go to bed, they will, and in time the hour and half will turn into 30 minutes. Patience is key here. 

3. Mealtime behavioual issues in children

A child's hand is much smaller than yours, and they only need as much as will fit in it.Eating food can be fun and if you follow some simply rules here your child will eat and enjoy food. A lot of parents find meal times hard as the child may refuse to eat or just play with the food. What size is the child plate? Should your child have the same size portion of food as you? If your answer is yes then this must change right away.  Look at your child's hand and see how small it is compared to yours, and this is how much food should go on their plate.

Final tips

The other tips would be that if your child wants a desert then they have to eat their meal before any other food. Rewards are a good tool to have and the more creative you are the better. Sit at the table and have no TV on during meal times. Talk to your child. Aviod telling your child off when eating, wait and be patient and when they do eat something praise them.

This is the idea for 5 and under.

There are many more ways you can start to change and the above tips do work, but you need to repeat all of them in order to get it right, and don’t worry if sometimes it doesn't go to plan.

For more information please contact me for your very own coaching session!

Photo Credit : Lisa L Wiedmeier


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