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Friday, 02 January 2009 11:30

Beloved Stranger - Page 7

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Regularity measures how predictable or unpredictable a child's biological functions are, such as hunger, fatigue, or bowel movements. Irregular children may not be hungry at regular times. Parents should resist both nagging a child about eating at mealtimes and becoming a short-order cook. A reasonable solution is to make acceptable, healthy snacks accessible on a pantry or refrigerator shelf. Children who are very regular are easy to predict (which helps with toilet training) and to put on a schedule. They tend to do well in the structured, predictable environment of school, whereas irregular children may have more difficulty. By contrast, children who are more irregular may handle a chaotic or spontaneous home life with greater ease than more regular children.

Persistence, or Frustration Tolerance measures a child's ability to complete a task in the face of obstacles. Children who are low in frustration tolerance tend to give up easily when faced with a challenge, such as trying to reach a toy, build with LEGOs, dress a doll, tie a shoe, or learn a new task. Infants who are low in frustration tolerance often protest being left to sit, lie, or play by themselves. Parents sometimes measure their child's persistence by how much he or she pesters them. However, children who pester their parents relentlessly to get or do something for them are actually more likely to be low in persistence, unable to try patiently to finish a task or get something themselves, and reluctant to take on challenges by themselves.

Children who are low in frustration tolerance can be helped to increase their persistence by gradually stretching out the adult response time to their demands for help and, for older children, by breaking tasks down into smaller pieces, so they're less likely to be overwhelmed. Parents can set the timer repeatedly during cleanup time, telling their child to pick up only the blocks during the first five minutes, only the books during the next five, and so on. Children high in frustration tolerance will persist in the face of difficulties and are comfortable entertaining themselves. They may, however, be resistant to leaving an activity before they're finished. Giving them warnings about upcoming transitions and telling them when they can get back to their picture or project can be helpful.

Distractibility measures a child's tendency to be diverted by noise, interruptions, and other environmental stimuli. Children high in distractibility are acutely aware of everything that's going on around them. They may seem a bit like hummingbirds, flitting from one distraction to another, especially if they're also active. Easily distractible infants tend to be easy to soothe, whereas infants who are low in distractibility are often hard to soothe: they want what they want. Simply observing to a distractible child, "You're getting distracted," may help her become more aware and regain her focus. Children low in distractibility can focus even in challenging environments, and tend to work well in school.

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Last modified on Sunday, 11 January 2009 16:26

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