Posted by Alina on Thursday Nov 19, 2009 Under communication, useful tips

sharingI recently went to a workshop organized by some of my mama friends about “positive discipline”. I found it quite interesting and thought I’d share one of the things I learned. My question to the instructor was about sharing, and what is considered proper playground etiquette. When my 19 month old son and I are out at a park, I feel this pressure to make him share his toys with kids who come up and are interested in them. My son, however, usually resists and sometimes gets to tears, which is when I just leave the issue alone.  I don’t know why I feel this pressure, perhaps because other parents are making similar requests of their kids, or because it seems like a “nice thing to do”.

The instructor answered it with a great metaphor. She said, “Imagine you are getting ready for your day. You’re feeling groggy, just stood in a line, finally got your long awaited cappuccino, and as you are about to take the first sip, someone tells you that you have to hand it over to the person next to you…”  Her point was, that until kids are in their 3’s, they don’t really get the whole sharing thing. She said not to MAKE him share, but rather to PRAISE him when he does so of his own volition. She also said this is a good age to be working on turn taking, and the same logic can be applied to toys. “It’s Henry’s turn to play with the toy right now, but you can have a turn when he is finished”.

One big point of this lecture was PRAISE . To be most effective it should be immediate, include touch (on the shoulder, pat on the back, a kiss, whatever you choose….), and be specific. Praise seems to be the positive reinforcement that makes the greatest difference when trying to alter a behavior, whether with kids or adults.

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Communication and Deciphering Cries

Posted by Alina on Monday Jul 21, 2008 Under communication

Although mainly concerned with communication technology, the Shannon-Weaver model can be applied to human communication. There are six main components; a source, an encoder, a message, a channel, a decoder, and a receiver. Communication breakdown may occur at any point in this chain.
As an example, my latest challenge has been communication with a newborn. My son Henry (the source), mainly communicates through crying. He encodes his message via use of vocal cords, lungs, facial muscles, and often his limbs and trunk. This is the only way he can communicate at his age of a few weeks, so the message he sends out for hunger, is a slightly different cry and body language than one for a wet diaper, boredom, or fatigue. The hunger cry sounds like he’s saying “nah” and is usually preceded by smacking his lips or sucking on his fist. He also keeps his fists tight when he’s hungry and relaxes his hands once he has eaten. The fatigue/ exhaustion cry is best described as a “fourth gear”, inconsolable cry with a cough, which lasts about 1-2 minutes after which he falls into a deep sleep. During this cry, his whole body tends to straighten out completely, and once he falls asleep, he curls up. The channel he uses to send his message is vocal/auditory as well as tactile. The decoder in this case, I think is my increasing experience as well as knowledge I have gained from reading books on the subject, which is allowing me to differentiate between different cries and his various body gestures. Thus, I (the receiver) am now better able to understand his messages and quicker attend to his needs than in the first two weeks, when all cries seemed like a mystery and just made my husband and me nervous.

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