• May 21, 2018, 05:58:10 PM

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Author Topic: Books on dealing with children who need extra attn? (s/o Salon "Brat" thread)  (Read 3021 times)

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Ehellions seem very well read, so I’m wondering if you can help. I have a few different kids in my life with troubled backgrounds—or, mostly just unstable backgrounds—that have led to odd behaviors.

For instance, my SO’s nephew (7) reminds me to (a much lesser extent) of the "brat" from the recent Salon Advice column thread. Mostly in that he acts out because I think he wants affection and assurance, and seems to think that acting out will get that (which it does, to some extent—he definitely gets attention then, when he often doesn’t otherwise at home).

I know to start with I need to change how I react, and I’m hoping perhaps a book can help me understand how and explain how to model good ways to get that attention. Do you have any suggestions?

In general, do you have good recommendations on reading material for dealing with the minefield of children who may not get behavior correction at home and how to help guide them into respectful behavior with you without obviously correcting their behavior in front of their parents? A sort of model-parenting without parenting other people’s children, if that makes sense?


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I would be careful here. as much as you want to "parent" or model - it can be sticky, especially within a dysfunctional family situation.

I would use books (only because I am a  bookworm who raised a bookworm) for their added value of being a book/literature and all that reading/reading together entails, and not specifically for the actual content. IOW - yes to books, no to books that have a specific (and very clear) message (in this case).

so - classics; adventure; books that use rhymes; books that use "big words" that will encourage the child to find out what that means. Books that show positive traits like loyalty and honesty without being preachy. kids see right through those preachy type books ("see kids, if you tell the truth all with be well").

Books about heroes - I still remember reading books about Hellen Keller, Florence Nightingale, and so on. DS - who really needed books as his early life was chaotic - loved Jules Verne and Asimov when he was younger (ah, who are we kidding - he still loves 'em!), as well as all those enid blytons, books about greek gods and mythology. James and the GIant Peach. Charlie and the Chocolate factory. The borrowers (I think that's what it was called).

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Ooops, I should have been more clear. I mean books for me to read—not to give to the kids. I don’t want to call them "self-help", but I guess it would be. Sort of like the Toxic Parents and Toxic In-Laws ones that everyone suggests now and then.

I’m all about just giving kids great, imaginative fiction—my oldest niece and I totally bond over YA sci-fi/fantasy.


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  • Posts: 2013
I don't have a book, but here's a technique that works wonders with attention-seeking kids.
Periodically, make a comment about what the child is doing- not in a sense of praising him, or evaluating his behavior. 'Oh, you've built a really tall tower!' confirms that you're paying attention to him, without making him try to perform to earn approval. Just toss out the comments periodically, giving the child the information that you are paying attention, and then you can spread out the intervals.

Be sure to thank him for doing helpful things (even if you're not sure he did them to be helpful!) It's sad how often a child's efforts are ignored by adults, or written off as 'he's just doing what he's supposed to do'. Well, guests are supposed to offer to help their hosts fix dinner or clean up afterwards...but I'd be a little annoyed if I offered and the hosts didn't express any appreciation for what I did. And I'm an adult.  ;D

Kids like to answer 'what if' questions. Here's a sampling of questions I use while interviewing kids (I'm a social worker)
  • If you could have 3 wishes, what would you wish for?
    If you could be a superhero, what would your name and special power be?
    If you had to pick one dinner to eat every day for a month, what would it be?
    If you could change anything about your bedroom, what would it be?
    If you could change anything about how you look, what would it be?
    What sorts of jobs have you thought you'd like to have?
    Would you like to learn to play a musical instrument? Which one?
    If you could have any animal as a pet, which animal would you pick?
While you're doing this, you have to put your entire attention on him. While he may want attention, there's usually a limit to how long a child wants to sit and answer these questions. And you can always terminate it with,'How about some popcorn? You wanna make some popcorn?' or ice cream, or whatever snack is appropriate. :)