CAPS is a non-profit organization whose mission is to prevent child abuse by valuing children and strengthening families in Elkhart County.
CAPS - Child And Parent Services FAQ
Q: All my child wants to do is play! How can I get them to learn?
A: Young children learn in ways that are different than older children. Although they may at first want to do “homework” as their older brothers and sisters do, the novelty of that will soon give way to things that are active and fun. Young children learn through play. Play is their “work.” They use the senses of touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste to actively connect with their environment. Parents can provide many opportunities for fun, exploration, and creative expression for children, and they will continuously learn new skills. They will learn even more when parents join in their play, creating a special time together. It’s a wonderful time to laugh, hug, encourage, and give positive attention to your children. The Value of Play WHEN YOUR CHILD LISTENS TO STORIES OR LOOKS AT BOOKS: He learns to listen. He is increasing his vocabulary by hearing new words read to him. He learns about concepts, people, and places. He learns to enjoy books and reading. His mind is stimulated, visualizing all the things he is hearing about. WHEN YOUR CHILD PAINTS: She is more concerned with the process she is going through than with the finished product. This is how it should be for her stage of development. She learns about colors and how she can use them. She learns about her imagination and transfers her ideas to paper. She learns how to use small muscle coordination to handle a brush. She learns to make choices and decisions. WHEN YOUR CHILD BUILDS WITH BLOCKS: He learns to use his imagination to create something. He has the satisfaction of making something when there is no right or wrong way. He learns about sizes and shapes, weights and balances, height and depth, smoothness and roughness. He is exercising his body. He learns to play with others. WHEN YOUR CHILD PRETENDS: She learns about the roles of mothers, fathers and children. She understands what it feels like to play at being somebody or something other than herself. She learns how to use her imagination. She learns how to cooperate with other children. WHEN YOUR CHILD PLAYS OUTDOORS: He learns how to use his body effectively. He experiences joy in achieving skills such as running, jumping, and climbing. He has fun and relaxation found in bodily movement. He learns what he can do and what is difficult. He learns safety and caution. He develops strength and coordination. He learns to take turns and share a piece of equipment. WHEN YOUR CHILD MAKES A GIFT OUT OF PAPER AND PASTE: She learns about doing things for others. She learns how to use materials like markers, scissors, paste and glue. She learns how to use her imagination to make the kind of present she has in mind. She learns about sizes, shapes, colors, and textures. WHEN YOUR CHILD PLAYS IN THE SAND: He finds it soothing to bury his hands in sand and pour sand in and out of cups, buckets, and other containers. He is able to relax and center on his task at hand. He learns to play alone or enjoys the company of others. He learns about size and measurement, experimenting with measuring spoons, cups, and different size containers. He is not concerned with a final product, so he does find it frustrating. WHEN YOUR CHILD COOKS: She learns to follow directions. She stimulates and uses all five senses. She learns to recognize colors and shapes from different kinds of foods and kitchen utensils. She uses different tools and equipment to improve small muscle coordination. WHEN YOUR CHILD WORKS WITH PUZZLES: He might play alone or together with other children. He gains satisfaction in completing a puzzle and builds his self-confidence. He is improving his hand/eye coordination and small muscle development. He will use puzzle skills later when he learns to read - putting letters and sounds together, making words with letters, and making stories with words. WHEN YOUR CHILD LISTENS TO MUSIC, SINGS, OR DANCES: He learns to appreciate music from different countries, cultures, and time periods. He learns to express himself and his ideas. He increases his vocabulary. He gains satisfaction from participating in an activity that can be fun, physical, and enriching. WHEN YOUR CHILD USES MANIPULATIVE ACTIVITES: She explores new concepts, practices new skills, and reinforces what she has already learned. She develops fine muscle skills. She learns about classifying, sorting, predicting, problem solving, and analyzing results. She develops her knowledge of the world around her using real objects and concrete examples. She learns patience and taking turns. * Information from kinderteacher.com
Q: How is my child impacted by the media they observe – TV, computer and video games?
A: Children are not adults and thus go through their life experiences differently and interact with their world according to their age and developmental stages. This is true for their experience with TV and media games. Did you know that, on average, young children: • Watch TV for 2 to 4 hours per day. • Spend 35 hours per week of screen time with TV, video, and computer games. • Watch 4,000 hours of TV before entering kindergarten. • By the end of elementary school, will have seen approximately 8,000 murders and 100,000 other acts of violence on television. • Are exposed to 20 to 25 acts of violence per hour on Saturday morning TV programs intended for children. • 60% of the cartoons and children shows contain violence. • By age 70, will have spent 7 to 10 years watching TV. • Of the 10 most popular video games (based on sales) 80% contain violent content. Have you thought about what research tells us? • Young children cannot judge reality versus fantasy. They think that what they see is really happening. • They are attracted to highly vivid scenes, rapid movement, sound, and color. In other words, most children pay the most attention to the most violent scenes on the screen. • Young children do not think about the consequences of the actions on the screen. • Elementary school age children believe that TV reflects real life and will become more active and show more aggressive behavior after viewing violent scenes. • The more children see violence and actively take part in it through games, the more likely they are to devalue human life. • Schools are seeing increases in aggressive and violent behavior at all age levels. Many experts attribute this increase to children’s exposure to violence through TV, video and computer games. Families can play an important role to reduce the impact of media violence on young children. The following strategies can help families accomplish their important role: • Monitor what children watch and play. • Watch TV or play video and computer games together as a family when possible. • Limit the number of hours your children watch TV and play video and computer games. • Keep TVs, computers, and video games out of bedrooms, because it makes supervision more difficult. • Learn to understand and use the rating system for films, videos, and games. • Watch programs for mature audiences after young children are in bed. • Clearly communicate family media rules to children. Inform others who visit your home such as babysitters, relatives, and friends about your family media rules. • Share all this information with relatives and friends who have young children. Parents can teach children that: • There is a difference between make-believe and real life. • Real-life heroes should be people who are looked up to for such qualities as courage, bravery, and doing good things to help others. • Real-life violence hurts the person who gets hurt (e.g., kicked, punched, hit). • Real-life violence hurts the person who does the hurting (e.g., gets punished, loses friends, and may feel bad after hurting someone). • Bullets shot on TV shows and in video and computer games are not real. Guns and knives used on TV are not really able to hurt people. Real bullets kill or hurt people. Real guns and knives can hurt or kill people. • Children should never touch a gun, bullets, knife, razor, or needle. Make it clear to children that if they find a weapon, to leave it alone and tell an adult. • If children see violence on TV, they should change the channel or do something else. • Violence is never the best way to solve a problem; it only creates more problems. • If children are confused, scared, or afraid about something they see on TV, they should tell an adult about it. This information was taken from the website – ActAgainstViolence.org Visit the website for more information about media violence, anger management, conflict resolution, and discipline, available in English and Spanish.
Q: How can I create a positive home environment?
A: On a daily basis, children will do things that we, as parents, wish they wouldn’t do… and for very good reasons! The reasons could include things that are rude, impolite, annoying, and even things that are dangerous. There are two ways to let our children know what we expect of them. The first way is to tell them what NOT to do. An example of this would be to tell a child, “Quit picking your nose!” The other way is to tell the child what you DO expect of them. An example of this would be, “Use a tissue.” This may sound to you like it is “just a bunch of words,” but consider how it feels to you as an adult when someone tells you not to do something. One of my favorite past times is to knit. I could knit all night and not think anything of it. If my husband walked into the room and said, “Would you just quit knitting for one night?” I would be tempted to knit a blanket… all in one night! However, if he stated to me what he did want me to do, I might hear a different message. If my husband said, “Come sit down with me, and let’s watch a movie.” I would be much more open to hearing his request. Stating expectations in the positive accomplishes many things: • It helps our children to be more cooperative. • It keeps us and our environment calmer. • It communicates clearly to our children what our expectations are—not just what they are not. • It allows us to show respect to our children. Stating in the positive is like learning a new language. We are conditioned to react to our children’s behavior… after the fact. • “Quit jumping on the couch!” • “Don’t talk back to me!” • “Don’t hit!” Start thinking of the behaviors your children do that you wish they wouldn’t do. Make a list of these behaviors. Look at your list and write down what behaviors you desire your children to do instead. Figure out how to communicate what your expectations are (in the positive) so that you will be ready when these behaviors do occur. • “Put your feet on the floor or your bottom on the couch.” • “Use a respectful voice.” • “Play gently” or “Use your words when you are angry.” When you begin stating your expectations in the positive, you will notice that you are parenting with much less stress and your children will be happier, because they will know exactly what you expect of them.
Q: How can I help my children become responsible people?
A: Being responsible means being dependable, keeping promises, and accepting the consequences of what we say and do. Children need to learn that being part of a family, a team, or a class involves accepting responsibilities. The importance of failure. Letting children face the consequences of their choices should start when children are young when mistakes are less expensive to make. If we wait until children are older to experience the consequences of their mistakes, the price of failure is often too high. Learning cause and effect through success and failure is part of a necessary maturing process. Intervening can interrupt that process. Kids can't become responsible adults without failing sometimes. When my daughter was about 11 or 12, this is one example of how I helped her learn responsibility. I asked her to set her own alarm clock and to get up by herself when it rang. I was tired of getting her out of bed (which was often a struggle). If she missed school, she would have to suffer the consequences, which could mean detention after school and makeup assignments. It was difficult to not intervene -- no parent enjoys seeing their child get into messes — but I resisted. It didn't take long for my daughter to learn to discipline herself each morning. The short-term pain of her bad decisions was much easier on her than the long-term power struggle that often happens in families. We had no more nagging or heated arguments . . . just consequences. We do our children a disservice when we cover for them or alleviate the consequences of their choices. Parents who write a note to the teacher explaining why their child once again failed to finish his homework set up the child for a lifetime of seeking special treatment and, ultimately, frustration when it isn't given. Parents who push for their child to get the lead role in a play — even when he or she doesn't deserve it — deny the child the opportunities for growth that come with failure and disappointment. Kids never learn how to cope with life when parents do all the coping for them. They enter adulthood without the confidence that they'll be able to handle whatever comes their way. To make it in this world, kids need to know how to struggle. They need to learn how to persevere for a hard-fought victory and how to handle disappointment when victory doesn't come. They need to understand that they reap what they sow and that life isn't always fair. In order to learn these things, they'll have to experience a lot of bumps and bruises. Some will be self-inflicted, and others will be imposed on them by the world. But all of their wounds can become a lifelong lesson in how to stand strong. Kids will have to learn these hard lessons sooner or later, and sooner is better. Once they become adults, the world won't clean up after their mistakes, and it won't nurse their wounds when they are treated unfairly. If they've learned wisdom and responsibility early, they'll reap the benefits for a lifetime. A parent's job is not to make sure a child has a smooth or comfortable life. Our role is to put safeguards around them when they're young to keep them from ultimate harm; to gradually widen those safeguards as they mature; and to help them to grow into a responsible, caring adult.
Q: How can I avoid getting into power struggles with my kids?
A: One dynamic that occurs often between kids and parents are power struggles. Power struggles occur when children do not feel like they have the power to make their own decisions. It is natural and healthy for all of us to want to have some control over our lives. The struggle occurs when parents don’t recognize this need and find healthy ways to nurture it. Often when a power struggle erupts parents respond by punishing their children or getting into a verbal argument with them. One of the best ways to avoid power struggles is to give kids positive power by giving them limited choices. Are any of the following scenarios familiar to you? • You give your toddler the blue sippy cup and they yell they want the red sippy cup. • You tell your five-year old it is time for bed and they run the opposite direction. • You ask your nine-year old to dust the living room and they stomp off saying they hate that chore. • You tell your teenager they can only accept one invitation a weekend from friends and they slam the door when you tell them which one they can accept. These are all power struggles. Now imagine these scenarios: • You offer your toddler a choice between two sippy cups and they get to choose which one to use that day. • You ask your five-year old if they want to brush their teeth or put on their pajamas first to get ready for bed. • You describe to your nine-year old the chores that need to get done and ask them which one they would like to do. • You talk with your teen about their schedule for the weekend and tell them they can choose which one invitation they want to accept. In each of these scenarios children have power. They are getting to help make a decision. Most of the time giving these types of choices from the get go, avoids a power struggle all together, because the child has been given power so they don’t try to vie for it. My eldest son once said to me, “mom, I’m just glad to know that you and dad are always going to give me at least two choices.” This comment confirmed the positive power kids feel when they get to help make decisions that affect their lives.