New Perspective for the New Year

What if all the things we think are important really didn’t matter at all….?

I know that thinking like this might rock your world but
what if…
your child’s grades & getting inducted into the gifted class or national honor society didn’t matter?
what if…
how your child performed on the STEM classes or AP exam didn’t matter?
what if…
having all the cool people sit with your child at the lunch table didn’t matter?
what if 
scoring the winning touch down or making the select soccer team didn’t matter?
The world is telling you that all this stuff matters.
The world is telling parents that signing our kids up for soccer at age three is important.
The world is telling parents that spending money on expensive preschools is essential.
The world is telling parents that it is key to keep your child busy in all kinds of enrichment.

What if all this didn’t matter because the only thing that mattered was that you
taught your child to behave, 

you 
encouraged your child to be kind and giving
you 
instilled in your child a sense of rules and boundaries and respect for authority
you 
spent quality time with your child undistracted by the hub bub of the world.
you 
allowed your child to suffer through loss and you didn’t give in so they could avoid pain

What if being a resourceful, reflective, and responsive parent was all that mattered?
What if all parents started to focus on this most important job?
What kind of children would show up on the doorsteps of our schools?
What kind of children would be playing and participating on our rec. sports teams?
How would this affect the outcomes at school and sports and extra curriculars?
I believe that in the end kids would do better on their AP exams, be more likely to get good grades, do better on the soccer field and succeed in all those things we mentioned above if they could just learn to behave.

In the end wouldn’t everyone ensure success for our children if we focused more on teaching children to get along and less on the skills that the world is telling us are important.  I truly believe that all kids can do well at all things when they learn to behave, when they begin to get along, when they learn to listen to authority and to their peers, and when we focus on the skills that are more human and less worldly.

Raising them to Leave the Nest…by Renee Mattson, M.Ed.

In 6 months, our oldest child Evy will be turning 16 and be able to drive. She will be behind the wheel as Toby and I sit teeth-clenched beside our little lady bug with her “Temps”.  YIKES!!! I know we will be gritting our teeth for lots of reasons beyond the mere fact that a 15 year old is driving us down the highway with minimal to no skills… DOUBLE YIKES!!!  But mostly because we know it’s the beginning of the end in terms of our time with Evy in our nest.

She has almost 2 years of high school under her belt and here we are with only a few years left with her in our home…I pause as I type this wrapping my brain around how our family will change and did we do everything we were suppose to do to prep her for her way…and the answer is a resounding YES.  Honestly, Toby and I have joked for years that Evy has always been more mature than her mom and dad, but is she ready to face the real challenges that life will most certainly bring her way.

What are the skills we dreamed we would give her…

  • How to be a friend... that is loyal and patient and kind and brings joy to others
  • How to speak up when things are not right... to save a friend or stranger
  • How to work diligently so that you can attain the things you dream of
  • How to bounce back and try try again when things don’t go your way or you mess up
  • How to Pause and take time for yourself... go for a run, take a well deserved nap, regroup
How did it happen that I REALLY feel confident that she is ready to leave the nest?
I can’t quantify it… I can’t qualify it…
I can’t name a time or place where each skill was gained,
but I know she is ready.  I know that we can safely let her go.She knows boundaries and knows her conscience… She knows how to judge right from wrong and listens to her gut…. Maybe at first the gut response was her knowledge of what things fit within the boundaries of our family and so maybe this is where our parenting came in…
We allowed for flexible thinking, but we ALWAYS tried to have clear boundaries of STOP and GO behaviors. 

She knows that actions are always followed by consequences … She realized that she could choose to do all kinds of things and she also realized that with that power in choice she also had to take on the consequences of her choice.
We tried to step out of the way and let the consequences do their job.

She knows she can count on her parents for consistent follow through and support.  If we promise we deliver (positively and negatively).  If we set the boundary and consequence we follow through, if she does something successfully we are there to help her celebrate ALWAYS.  We focused more on her recovery skills than her choices.
We realized that it was inevitable that she would ebb and flow between mess and success and we tried to be the steady current that kept her afloat.  

I can now see that the one thing that mattered most for Evy is that:

We tried!!
We tried and tried…again and again.
Continually messing up
Continually figuring it out as we go along and
Continually using her as our little guinea pig.

So that a year from now she will drive off out of driveway only to head to a friend’s house without us in the car… and then a few years later head down the highway on her way to her dorm room and so on and so on. Continually figuring it out along her way knowing that we are here as a continual steady current of support and we will never stop trying as we ebb and flow through parenting mess and parenting success.

We hope that you will see Child in Bloom coaches as steady current of support as you keep trying…remember that we are parents too, learning along the way and with many tips and tools of support that can help pave the way to positive parenting.

The Problems Just Keep Coming… Give your Child Solutions and Tools to Help

The problems just keep coming…No matter how we try to avoid the road blocks that stand in the way of our child’s life it is bound to happen that they come across a problem and they will need skills to solve around it.

The worst thing we can do as parents is to constantly problem solve for them, instead we need to focus on giving them chances to practice critical thinking skills on their own.

This means we might have to sit back and watch them suffer and struggle a little.  The suffering and struggling is good for them.  It helps them to become critical thinkers and resilient to the point that they can bounce back from the problems easier and easier with each new experience because like we said earlier…the problems will keep coming.

Recently, one of my long time Child in Bloom fans emailed me for some books to use to help kids learn to problem solve.  Here are the books I mentioned to her:

My favorite… Battlefield of the Mind for Kids  by Joyce Meyer (there are some religious, Christian themes to this which goes nicely if you are looking for a faith based approach to problem solving).

Great Ideas and Activities that are Kid Friendly… The Survival Guide for Kids with Behavior Challenges  by Dr. Tom McIntyre  (This is about how to make good choices and stay out of trouble, but I have to admit I DO NOT like the title of this because I think this book good for ALL kids and I can’t imagine any child wanting to read a book titled this way… Still, it is a great book!)

The American Girl Series has some great troubleshooting books for friendship, safety and simply growing up.

Look for books on Conflict Resolution

Here is a great book on parenting that has some wonderful ideas on creating problem solving kiddos… Thinking Parent… Thinking Child

I love this book as a teacher (I used to use it in my classroom way back when…) Teaching Conflict Resolution Through Children’s Literature It is a list of great activities and literature books that support conflict resolution and critical thinking.

 

 

How does your child unwind before bed?

Here are some quick tips on getting kids to sleep…
1.  Meditation:  There are some great apps, CD’s, and books out there that focus on mediations for children and help children reboot their brains as they attempt to fall asleep or calm down when they are revved up.  My favorite are books are by Maureen Garth: Moonbeams, Starbright and Earthlight.  They have make believe stories that parents can calmly read to sleepy kiddos.  The goal is that the child will be able to revisit the meditative scene in their minds when mom and dad are away or when they are trying to cope with stress or worry.
2.  Calming Sensory Tools:  Depending on what your child’s sensory choice is, find something that he can fiddle with that helps to calm his senses.  Oral children might use a calming chewy necklace to chew on.  Visual children might like to count stars on their ceiling or watch a lava lamp. Tactile children may want to lay stuffed animals around their bodies to make them feel snug.  Auditory children may want to listen to a sound machine or a comforting box fan as they fall asleep.  Whatever they need make it part of your bedtime routine.
3.  Storytelling about their day… Catch your child being good throughout the day and send them off to sleep with a recap on all the growing and blooming they did that day.   Don’t spend time lecturing or debating right before bed, but instead spend time affirming how you saw them making progress (even if it is the tiniest bit of progress).  Remember it is our job to help our child retell their storyline so that it is more positive than negative.  As you send them off to dream their night away,  help them to see that you have noticed they are really trying and really BLOOMiNG!
4.  Keep it simple and calm…  Many parents I work with have designed the most intricate bed time rituals.   Do you feel like your list of to do’s before bedtime continues to grow and grow… turn on the fan, rub their back twenty times, sing four songs, tell about your favorite part of their day.  Whatever you do for your systematic bedtime, make is short and sweet.  End with a quick I love you and you love me… come across confident and not nervous about bedtime.   They will feed off of your confidence or anxiety and mirror each back at you.  So keep it less emotional and more matter of fact.  A few steps for each part of the routine should be all you need.
Next Day prep: clothes picked out, backpack ready to go, lunches made.
Bathroom steps: potty, teeth, possibly a bath (but you really don’t have to do this every night!)
Bedroom steps:pjs on, one to two stories and prayer
5.  Visuals and Charts to Support:  If you are using a visual chart to support your bedtime routine, make the children in charge of it.  The reason I like to put the kids in charge is that I am just so busy (like you) and odds are I will forget to follow through on it.   So make it so that they own the chart.  If they want to earn the sticker or stamp they have to remember to do the things on the chart AND remember to give themselves the credit.
6.  Leave your timeframe Open ended:   Who says we need a hard an fast bed time?  It IS best to have a regular bedtime, but who says we have to have a hard and fast bed time?  In order to release the power plays that sometimes go with bedtime rituals, give your child a window of time that they may hop in bed… For Example:  Quiet time begins at 7:30 and lights out will be 8:15.   You can hop in your bed at any time between 7:30 or 8:15.  If you are not following expectations and hurting, fussing, or disrespecting the rules (too loud, too rowdy), then you will go to bed right then.   This open ended approach gives them the pseudo power they love to gain, and helps you have a system for lights out!
7.  If you have an escapee… Whatever works…. within reason and respect and as long as you have given them a preview of what will happen, you have gone through it visually, and you are dealing with it “in the moment” without a lot of emotion.
Here are some tried and true methods that I have seen work!

  • The gate goes up if you get out of bed.
  • The door is open as long as kids are in bed.
  • The light stays on as long as you are on your way to dreamland.
  • Some parents will start by sitting in the room as the child gets calm, then moving little by little towards the door.
  • Some parents put the kids in the bed and then tell them confidently that mommy will be putting a few towels away and come back and check on you.
  • I have even resorted to telling them that their favorite animal will have to sleep with Mommy tonight if you cannot stay in your bed… “Lamby is tired and will come to sleep with me if you get out of bed”
  • If they are 4 or 5 they might have a solid enough sense of time that you could postpone a reward until morning if they fall asleep without problems.
  • Younger than that it might be too big of a time lapse to get them to connect the dots between reward and behavior.

8.  When all else fails design a Social Story/Picture Story detailing how we go to sleep… NO NO’s and Yes Yes’s to help them visualize how this will go.  Read the book during other parts of the day so they can begin to visualize it.

Show and Tell

A teacher could spend their whole day saying NO NO NO.
No running,
No calling out,
No leaning on chairs,
No talking, NO NO NO…
But what works better is to give a child or a classroom of children the YES YES YES behaviors they desire instead of constantly correcting.  So, if you find yourself constantly calling your child out and you feel like a broken record, try calling out the expected behaviors instead.  A teacher who wants her children to walk down the hallway without talking will call out… Walk Walk Walk, Quiet Quiet Quiet to give the group the specific expected behaviors.  By doing this, the teacher is investing more in the positive behavior than the negative behavior.

For parents, this means telling your child what to do… giving them a new replacement behavior instead of correcting what NOT to do.  If you find yourself shouting out all day and using negative correcting methods like:  Stop Hitting!  Don’t Do That!   Quit Pushing!   No! No! No!
Use the phrase, “SHOW ME” to encourage a child to model the better choices. For instance, for a three year old big brother who has a tendency to be rough with his baby sister, use these “SHOW ME ” phrases:  “SHOW ME how you tickle her toes… SHOW ME how you snuggle with her… SHOW ME how you share your toy with her.”    This takes the negative spin off the correction and invites the child to make a better choice.    It lessens the chance of the power play between parent and child because the child gets busy trying to show you the better choice and avoids the repetition of the bad choice to get your attention.

Another way to avoid so much NO NO NO is to encourage a child to TELL you the better choice… TELL ME how you will behave outside with your brother,  TELL ME how you will sit at the table,  TELL ME what went well in the bathtub tonight,  TELL ME How you can talk nicely to your mom.

Have your child use show and tell to improve behaviors.  You can use these methods on the spot or call a family meeting and have kids show and tell their best choices of the day!

Make your Child’s “Drama Behavior” Exit Stage Left…

Do you have a drama king or queen living in your house?
What about a three-nager acting like they rule the roost?
Or maybe you have the “real deal” (teen) causing all kinds of headaches.

Here’s what we have found… When parents get silly, act and think like a child more, and add in positive drama opportunities themselves there tends to be less power plays.    Adding in more silly and fun times might lead to more connection time between parent and child.  This in turn leads to less attention and drama seeking behaviors from the child.   So let your guard down and get dramatic!

We don’t mean you need to mirror  that yucky teen dramatic behavior  (huffing and puffing around the house).   We mean get silly, relax, have fun, add in role playing, funny voices, laid back antics and maybe you will avoid the power struggle.  Laugh more, play more, create more, joke more and connect more.   Don’t be so serious all the time.

If your child wants to play pretend then follow along and join them on their adventure to a different world.  Connect to the child where they are even if they are in make believe ” la la land” .  It is perfectly normal for 3-5 year olds to spend much of their day in the dramatic play world so join them.

Sticking to your guns and trying to forcefully change a child’s mind simply won’t work in the middle of their temper tantrums… So change up the vibe by adding in dramatic responses that are silly and engaging and connected to dramatic play experiences.  These are the things that will help them regroup and get them off the temper tantrum track.

We know you will see behaviors shift and attitudes lift when you get silly and dramatic and mirror back a kid like perspective.

Get a Handle on Technology in your Family Life

When you look through your child’s Holiday Wish List, do you see mostly technology toys?
DVD’s
Video Games
Gaming Systems
Tablets
Laptops
Phones
itunes gift cards
Cameras
Adding in more technology may end up subtracting more from your family time. Don’t let technology rob your family of crucial teachable, positive growth moments that involve people to people connections?

KEEP THESE THINGS IN MIND

Parents Need to Model Moderate Tech Time
Avoid being on your smart phone constantly. This includes: texting and constantly connecting to social media (Facebook or instagram) and looking things up when your child is around.
Avoid being on your phone at transition times within your day (for example: at pick up or drop off from school, dinner time or bed time)
Just be present. BE THERE with your child… eye to eye, ready to hear them and connect to what they need from you. Give them the attention they crave so they don’t seek attention in negative or inappropriate ways… this goes for ALL KIDS ALL AGES (especially teens… They STILL need you)
Compartmentalize your time on tech and put a solid boundary on when you yourself are on it. Let no email, phone ringtone or text beep interrupt your conversations with your child. It can wait!! This is crucial to modeling that technology is not allowed to rule the house and that parents won’t choose tech over personal relationships!
Fill Your Home and Their Life with “Anti-Tech” Options... so they are less likely to rely on technology to entertain their brain.

Are you stuck on what to buy beyond tech? Take your child to the gift shops at local museums (Cincinnati Museum Center, Art Museum, Cincinnati Nature Center) and see all the really cool toys, books and gifts they have to offer. Take note of the things that your child is interested in make sure these things fill the space under the tree on Christmas morning.
Follow their tech lead... If they love to play doll dress up games on their iPad then buy them a real life doll with lots of real life buttons and snaps and crazy outfits to keep their little hands busy and their minds creating. If they like games like Mind Craft then buy them architecture sets or real life mini tools to build things… Kids brains cannot truly bloom on tech experiences. To really grow in knowledge and skills they have to touch, feel, and move their bodies while they learn.
Limit tech time in general by limiting tech experiences when you are out and about… Children DO NOT need to be watching tv everytime they sit their tush in their car seat. They SHOULD NOT be playing on your phone every time you sit down to dinner at a restaurant. Going through the grocery store SHOULD NOT be a “total tech” experience for your child as they get sucked into games on your phone. We should use these mini parts of their day as opportunities to teach patience, creative play, and engagement with their world and the people in their family. Save tech time for a small portion of your day not as the GO TO option in all situations. If you have never tried taking your child out and about without the phone to keep them busy this will be very tough at first, but hang in there as you and your child get more practice you will begin to see them grow.

Monitor your Child’s Tech Experiences
Parents need to be consistently checking in on their tweens and teens as they open themselves up to more texting and social media.
It is not an invasion of privacy to read through your child’s phone and get a heads up on what the chatter is about… look for signs of cyber bullying, inappropriate language (from your child or their friends) and apps that encourage connections with strangers and inappropriate content.
Don’t freak out or harp on what you find just slip the things you want them to know into your next teachable moment or crucial conversation. We want to build open conversations with our kids about the realities of the tech world they live in. It is here to stay and it is our job to teach them the boundaries around it.
Find out as much as you can about the new apps that are coming out daily… use websites like www.awiredfamily.org or www.aplatformforgood.org or The Big Disconnect

 

If you are worried that your child is spending too much time on tech they most likely are. Think real life first and use tech as a LAST RESORT!!!

All They Need is Love through Power and Attention

There are two things that children are usually looking for when they display inappropriate behaviors…the connected child

Power and Attention

The authors of the book The Connected Child do a wonderful job of describing healing and helpful ways to connect to your children.  They designed the book with adoptive children in mind, but their great ideas can help every parent succeed in giving their child what they need.

When it comes to the Power Hungry Child consider that they use Triangulation to protect themselves. Many times a child who has had a disconnected home life has seen that triangulating or tag teaming against someone is one way to gain control in their mixed up life. The author of The Connected Child just calls on parents to see this as normal and as a means of self protection. The child isn’t doing this because they are mean or nasty.  They are doing this because they are trying to feel safe, secure and in control. Reinforce how you their number one cheerleader and that you are on your child’s team and love them NO MATTER WHAT. Reinforce that you want the best for them so they don’t have to draw sides to gain that feeling of security. Being consistent is the one way you can show that you continually are in their corner and that they can count on you. Even if they don’t like the outcome or consequence, they know you will always follow through and that makes them feel safe. Children are begging for that kind of order and consistency.

When it comes to the Attention seeking Child consider the idea of Matching them.
So many times parents try to connect with kids but do it in adult ways that don’t match up or coordinate with the playful nature of the child. Parents who really connect with kids are the ones who get down on the floor with their kids, mirror how they are sitting, follow their lead in the play, restate what the child is talking about, and simply connect through matching the tone or voice level and demeanor of the child. This kind of connecting is non-threatening and playful and eases parents into deeper synchronicity with their child. The child in turn feels that you are not there to critique, boss, or control but instead you are there to simply look them in the eye, listen to them and be truly present in the play.

If you feel like you have a disconnected relationship with your child check out this book. It was written for families who are going through adoption but the ideas can help all parents make solid relationships with their children.

The Connected Child by Purvis, Cross, and Sunshine

We love it!! One of our NKY coaches Rachel Caswell is in the process of adopting a child and she recommended this book to me.  Connect to Rachel rachel@childinbloom.com if you feel like you need the support of someone who understands the process of adopting a child and the fine tune parenting you sometimes need to work through.

Diffuse a Temper Tantrum with Signs By Shannon Buckner

Shannon Buckner

It’s 5:00 in the evening and you’re prepping for dinner. Suddenly, your 12 month old shrieks from the next room. By the time you get to her side she’s thrown herself on the floor, flailing her arms and legs. As you calm her down, you are trying to figure out the cause of her distress. Is she hurt? Is she scared? Finally she slows her crying. Hmmm… No help.You look around but instead decide to distract her with a light snack as you return to your dinner prep. Problem solved?

All behavior is a form of communication. What a parent sees as a tantrum, a toddler sees as a way of letting her parents know of a need or a want or an expression of emotion . By incorporating a few simple signs into your daily conversations, you can start to break down the barrier of communication between yourself and your toddler. Using visuals with children, especially toddlers, is vital for effective communication. These visuals can be in the form of pictures, role playing, or in this case, sign language.

The following four signs are ones I’ve used regularly with my own children from a young age. Their addition to our daily routines have diffused countless events before my son or daughter has become overly emotional.
More (Using both hands, gather your fingertips to your thumb and tap your fingers together several times),
All done (Using both hands keeping your hands open with your palms up, twist your wrists turning your palms down),
Help (Close one hand into a fist and place it on your other open palm, raise both hands together),
Please (Place your hand flat against your chest and rub it in a circle)

Toddlers are able to use these 4 signs for almost any need. Please note that the signs you use in your life don’t have to be “By the Book” in terms of official American Sign Language signs. Just pick an easy to follow sign or symbol and use your hands to help visualize the communication to your child, and then do this consistently with your child so they grasp the concept and begin to use it themselves to help them tell what they need or want.

When my 18 month old wants a drink, she regularly stands next to the fridge and signs ‘please’. If we finish playing a game and she wants to play again, she will sign ‘more’. These signs are just a few of thousands you can use. Eventually it can be helpful to teach your toddler the sign for diaper, milk, hurt or ‘ouch’, thirsty, book, sleepy, scared and Mommy and Daddy. Now, imagine the opening situation with the addition of a few important signs. As you approach your screaming toddler she is signing ‘help’. Quickly you ask her, “help with what?” Your toddler leans down and attempts to reach a ball that rolled under the couch. No luck. She sits up and signs ‘help’ again. You reach under the couch and retrieve the ball, returning it to your toddler and going back to finish your dinner prep. Problem solved? Diffusion of Temper Tantrum? Happier Parents? Happier Child? You bet.