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.

Give your Child the Gifts they Need…

Give attention to your child in the smallest ways every day and all day…
– catch them being good
-catch them when they need you and look them in the eye and listen
-put your phone down or distractions away and be there and be present
-lead them side by side coaching them as they build independence on new and different tasks
-spend time doing what they are interested in, connecting to what they love even if it is just for 5 minutes
CONNECT CONNECT CONNECT
Give attention to your child in the smallest ways every day and all day
So, when they need BIG attention you will be ready
Give law, order, rules, routine, boundaries and correct your child with rules and routines in small ways every day and all day
-zero tolerance for hurting, fussing and disrespect
-nip the small behaviors like: rolling eyes, talking back, ignoring
-set up rules and boundaries on day to day procedures and routines
-keep a tight ship on what matters most even if it seems small
CORRECT
Give law, order, rules, routine, boundaries, and correct your child with rules and routines in small ways every day and all day
So, when they mess up in BIG ways they will be ready and know that you mean what you say.

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.

A Clean Slate by Rachel Caswell

We all make mistakes and need second chances. We give our friends, coworkers, loved ones do overs. We offer forgiveness and a chance to try again.

As parents, we need to give our kids that same opportunity. We need to give them the chance to fail and try again. But, I know it can be tough when we get caught up in the frustrations of misbehavior.

Our two year old daughter has had a tough weekend for a number of reasons. She’s starting to test the waters to see what she can get away with. When we asked her not to touch our coffee cup, she stared at us and kept tapping it. When we asked her to sit at the table to eat her breakfast, she reached for her bowl, looked us in the eyes, and turned it upside down.

Parenting is hard, but we can offer second chances.

I heard my husband talking to my daughter in the other room. He said, “How about a clean slate?” “Let’s start over.” As I listened to him, I smiled. It had been a tough morning, but he was at a place where he wanted our daughter to get a second chance. A clean slate. A do-over.

Child in Bloom teaches parents the importance of letting kids rewind and try their behavior again. What a valuable lesson for our kids and us big kids too. Sometimes we just need a clean slate.

Let’s all go into this week giving our kids a chance to rewind and try again to succeed.

Summer Musings from Anne Jaroszewicz …

Summer…the best time of year, and three warm, glorious months to take a break from the routines of the school year and recharge.   It’s a time we encourage our children to take walks in the woods or simply lie in a hammock and daydream!  But, when was the last time WE took that walk in the woods or lay in that hammock and daydreamed about our hopes and dreams for our children?

I was reminded of the importance of spending that time in the hammock and  “thoughtfully wishing” a future for our children when I recently re-read Hal Edward Runkel’s book, “Scream Free Parenting”.   In it, he takes us through an exercise of visualizing our children as the adults we hope they will be.  He asks us to consider questions such as, ‘What is the content of (your adult child’s) character?  How self-sufficient is he/she?  Does he/she take responsibility for his choices?  Is he/she physically healthy and active?’  You get the picture.   Once we answer these questions, we realize, in order for our children to become the adults we hope they will be, they need practice….practice making choices (even bad ones!) and learning that choices come with consequences (good and not so good!).  And they need to start practicing NOW, when they are young!

So, in addition to spending that time in the hammock this summer, look for opportunities to give your kids practice in, Decision-making (PB&J or grilled cheese? Blue or Pink shorts? Swim or bike ride?), Responsibility (chores first, then fun), and Choices have Consequences (follow through when they break the rules…EVERYTIME).  No, the Summer won’t be without fights, meltdowns, and tough parenting moments, but thanks to your “thoughtful wishing” you will know it is all part of Helping Them GROW!

Add List Making to your parenting practices and see how you can change your family dynamic this month…

Who doesn’t feel better as they check things off their list?
Putting all this info down on paper, helps us to set goals and remember what we don’t want to forget.

Here are some list ideas to get you started…
The Training List…. What are the social and emotional skills you need to teach your kids?  When you see a negative pattern of behavior from your child, note it on your training list.  This list is simply a list of the things you have recognized as something you need to go over with your child outside of the moment.  Keep this list in mind when you have a teachable moment with your child.  Use your child to help problem solve the situation and don’t forget to do most of your teaching and training using visuals (draw or act out what you would like it to look like next time) and avoid the long lecture or emotional ranting and raving.

The Stop and Go Behavior List:  What are the Stop Behaviors that you would like to see go BYE BYE?  What are the replacement behavior options that you need to train (teach, model and practice)?

The Leverage List:  What are the positive things that your child wants that you could use as leverage for good choice making?  What are the things they love and already have that you could take away if needed?  These “things” don’t need to be things at all… They can be simply adding in an extra five minutes on the iPad,  a special trip to the library with mom,  a walk around the block with dad…. Whatever makes your child soar… Let’s work towards it!  Or If you feel like your child has so much already,  let’s start working towards earning these things instead of just handing them over without good choice making.  This list will be fluid and ever changing as your child’s interests and development ebbs and flows.  So add to it whenever you see a window of leverage,  and make sure you run to it when you need to secure a solid and meaningful consequence.

The Calming List:   What are the things that help your child calm themselves?  If you have a list of these, look at it and use it to help them calm down when they need to PAUSE.  Each child in your home will have different things that work, so your list should be specific to the child.  You can also post images and/or words to have the options readily available for your child when they need to choose how they will calm down.   This list can be ever changing too, so keep adding to it as you see your child new methods to regulate their emotions.  If there is something that really works to help calm them, make sure to purposely plug these calming strategies into their day.  If you are like most parents you might want to think of a list of things to help you calm when you are upset.

The Elephant List:  When your child wants to do something right now, but it just isn’t the time or place to do it, use your elephant list to write it down and help your remember.    The Elephant list helps  you remember  what you promised.   The list becomes your reminder and your child will feel safe knowing that although the answer is NO now it might be YES later.    Good News:   your child will feel like they are being heard… Bad News:   you actually have to play that 100th game of Candyland sometime in the near future.

Solutions for …”MEAL-TIME MELTDOWNS”

These are some of the best tips and actions plans we have used to support families with children who are picky eaters, fussing at the table, or simply making mealtimes miserable…

1.  Give Kids the Power they are “Craving”  through choice and voice and purpose
Choice:Offer more than one vegetable. Offer two options on the number of bites
Voice:Listen to their opinions and work w/ them outside the moment to problem solve it
Purpose: Give kids jobs around the kitchen… “The pastry chef” “The salad master”

2.   Change it up
Eat in different space (move to the fancy dining room or outside)
If your kids are squirming all over their seat why not try a new kind of seat
Add a special treat to dinnertime like candlelight or music or conversation cards

3.  Do Something Different with Dessert
Put it on their plate as part of the meal & let them choose to eat it 1st if they like
Put it on a fancy serving tray in the middle of the table (even if it is just fruit or oreos)
Save it for a special treat after so many days of good meal manners
Get rid of it all together and just add it in as a special surprise for good choices

4.  TEACH MODEL PRACTICE  (TMP)
Draw out or video tape a plan for how you want dinner to be… allow the kids to help with this
Read and watch what to do and what not to do at the table
TMP  specifically about how many bites are expected, what kinds of food choices
TMP   specifically about how we speak to parents and siblings at the table
TMP  how to listen and not interrupt
TMP  what the consequences of poor choices will be and follow through

5.  Have Rules and Cues for eating posted…these become the bad guy
Use the pictures to point so you don’t have to use words…
Point to the rules (no interrupting) when they try to step into conversation
Point to the number one when they are taking their first bite, 2 for second…
Point to the dinner rules before getting started…

6.  Be happy with the smallest “bit” of progress when it comes to sensitive “buds”
Maybe they will move from yuck!!! to smelling the new food
Maybe they will progress from smelling to licking the new food
Maybe they will progress from licking to sucking on the new food
Then… biting it and chewing it and swallowing it…

7.  Allow little guys to alternate back and forth between eating and fun…
First Take a bite then color on your picture page
First Take a bite then tell me a story from kindergarten
First Take a bite then we will read a short poem…
Whatever works… at least they are eating!

8.  Keep it consistent…
We drink Milk at dinnertime
We have three bites for three year olds
We try everything…
We do not hurt the cook’s feelings with nasty words

9.  Think about set up…
Provide Healthy Appetizers so you have another chance to get in the good stuff
Provide more choice by offering taco bars, potato bars, pasta bars and more
Get them involved in the set up so they get excited about the choices

10.  Be flexible with where and when they make their healthy choices… 
Could we add more healthy snacks into their lunch box?
Could we sneak it into their smoothies after school?
Could we offer it as a power snack in the middle of playing super heroes?

Action Plan for Getting Grumpy Kids out of Bed…

Serve your little one “breakfast in bed.”  

Many kids wake up starving especially those finicky picky eaters who refused to eat the night before.  So why not have a granola bar waiting for them at their bedside when they wake up to help them get their blood sugar flowing and help them to start off on the right foot?  One client recently told me how this worked so well for their oldest child that they have begun to use it with all their kiddos.  Their son was extremely slow to warm up to the idea of getting out of bed, but with a yummy snack ready for him he was more apt to jump out of bed.  That boost of energy helped him be less moody and more ready to accomplish his early morning routines… Of course like all our action plans, this is just an idea but one worth trying if you are at your wits end.  If you do this or any new response with your parenting, remember you have to TEACH MODEL and PRACTICE the expectations. You can’t just “willy nilly” start this plan tomorrow without boundaries and expectations.   They need to know the procedures so they can follow them.  

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!

Give kids Choices you both can live with…

We know that Choice is one way we can give children the power they are trying so desperately to gain.  When setting up your choices keep these things in mind:

  • Give them two viable choices that you can live with.
  • Make one of the choices a more preferable choice that they may desire more.
  • Giving them a Choice takes them off the Power Playing Track and onto the Decision Making Track
  • When giving them a choice start with a fact question :  Where? When? With Whom? What? How?

Here are some examples:

  • Where will we put your lego project when we leave for grandmas… on the table or on the counter?
  • When will you brush your teeth… before pjs or after pjs?
  • Who do you want to bring with you into the tub… your super heroes or your pirates?
  • What veggie will you eat…salad or asparagus?
  • How many things will you clean up… 10 or 15?
  • How will you go upstairs… crawling up the stairs like a baby or running fast like cheetah?

These choices can work for tweens and teens too… See examples below:

  • Where will you do your homework… on the couch or at the kitchen table?
  • When will you start your social studies project… Friday night or Saturday morning?
  • Who could you call to help you with your homework… neighbor or grandpa?
  • What outfit will you wear to church…  the blue polo or the long sleeve oxford?
  • How many math problems will do before dinner…   5 or 10?
  • What time should we meet up at the entrance to Kings Island… 5 or 6?

Whatever you do avoid the Why questions because they put the focus on feelings and lead to debate and power struggles.

Make a Parenting Mental Checklist

If there is a behavior that is driving you crazy, run through our Parenting Mental Checklist to see if you have covered all your bases…

Did you…

  • Teach, Model and Practice before this situation came up?
  • Fast Forward and give the child a chance to see and visualize how we behave?
  • Pause and Remind before transitioning into this situation?
  • Did you set a clear boundary and consequences for their choices?
  • Did you follow through on what you set up?
  • Did you use minimal words (3-5 words at a time)?
  • Did you stay calm without getting emotional?
  • Did you catch them being good (even if it was small bits of progress)?

If not,  no worries… there is always tomorrow.  Just by changing one of these parenting behaviors you might start to see a change towards positive behaviors!!   Make a sign with these cues and hang it somewhere in your house so you can use it to help you remember the parenting tools you want to use next time.

Sibling Success

Sibling Success?
Is it even possible?

Here are some quick tips to help you think about the sibling relationship a little differently…

1.  They ARE different… PERIOD… so don’t lump them all together and expect them to react the same way, enjoy the same things, and have the same talents or needs.   Avoid comparisons that pit them against each other… Let them be their own unique person within the family, in their own race against themselves not against their brother or sister.
2.  Rejoice When they find a common ground (even if it means they found it ganging up on you 🙂
3.  Focus on retelling their sibling story in a positive light and do this by catching them making connections and good choices together… Are there any moments in their day when they actually get along? If so, notice these moments more than you notice the arguing, the shoving and the complaining.
4.  The smallest bits of honest attention might change their day… everyone wants you to connect with them so give them 3-5 minutes of time to be your special kid… allow them to show and tell and lead the conversation without judgement or critque just connect for a small moment of each day with each kid.
5.  Let every kid have some power 

  • Switch roles sometimes (let the little guy be the leader)
  • Give more choices (on how they will do things) while sticking to your boundaries
  • Allow everyone to have a voice and to be heard… “I hear you…..it sounds like”

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.

Behavior Changes for 2016 by Anne Jaroszewicz

Sticking with those Parenting New Year’s Resolutions?

If one of your resolutions was to change the dynamics in your household around PARENTING, Child in Bloom wants to help you get there.  Here are a few tips to help insure your SUCCESS!

  1. Start small – begin by taking on ONE behavior at a time.  When we try to change everything at once, we end up right back in the ‘whack-a-mole’ cycle! Ask yourself (and your spouse), what is the ONE behavior that, if changed, could really improve the day?
  2. Identify a replacement behavior – If they can no longer do X, what CAN they do instead?  NAME IT! This is so crucial to getting everyone on the same page, (and for sticking with your 2016 goals!).
  3. Teach, Model and PRACTICE the NEW scenario.  Draw it out or Act it out – Say,  “This is what ____________behavior looked like in 2015 – This is the NEW WAY our family is going to do this in 2016! If you have never done this type of Parenting (TEACH/MODEL/PRACTICE) this ‘new’ NEW YEAR’s approach should get them to sit up and take notice!
  4. Make it VISUAL!   Write down the ONE behavior you are working on and then POST it EVERYWHERE!  (Over your bathroom and kitchen sinks, at the kitchen table, on the wall in the playroom, on the dashboard of your car, in your wallet!).  When the behavior comes up (and it will!), point to the sign as a reminder of the NEW 2016 plan, and thenREVIEW the plan and let them REWIND and try it again – the right way.
  5. STICK WITH IT!  It’s a NEW “BEHAVIOR DIET”, and it is going to take some getting used to.  Studies show people who make it through the first THREE weeks of a diet have a very high rate of dieting success – but it is HARD to get past weeks one and two!

Think of that grumbling stomach when you are dieting as a metaphor for the grousing and grumbling you will hear from your kids.  REDIRECT them to the replacement behavior, just as you might redirect your food choices from chips and ice cream to healthier choices if you are dieting.CHANGE is HARD!!!  EXPECT it to be hard!  Have a calendar somewhere in plain sight, and cross off each day of the New Behavior Plan.  COMMIT to sticking with it for a minimum of 3 weeks.  IT WILL BE SO WORTH IT!!

Make 2016 your family’s “Year of Change”.  Good Luck, and remember, the coaches at Child in Bloom are here to help give you a Boost anytime you feel like giving up!

 

Hit the Parenting Powerball!

How can some people have kids that are so well behaved?

What is it that makes it look so easy for them?

After four years of working with more than 250 families, I think I finally have some insight into what makes this game of parenting work successfully.

Just like the real lottery, YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO PLAY TO WIN
-you need to show up
-you need to be the author of the rules of the home
-you need to follow through every single time

1.  Literally you have play:   I call this CONNECT CONNECT before you CORRECT… Connect to your child by listening to them, hearing how they want you to engage with them. Then think like a child and get playful and silly.  When you have invested play time with your child it is like “money in the bank” for you. The energy and engagement allows you to build a relationship of trust and genuine connection.  Then when it is time to correct you can more successfully play your “authority card” and follow through on your expectations with success.

2.   You can’t play the game of parenting without a clear understanding of the rules:  Kids don’t show up with a rule book and believe me they will never make a list of the house rules on their own.  They need YOU to do this and if your child is misbehaving odds are his behaviors are trying to tell you to step it up and gather control.  It is super scary for a child to feel like they rule the roost.  They need you to play the role of parent and show your authority by designing a system of HOUSE RULES.  

3. You have to mean what you say and follow through… If you said you will not tolerate certain STOP behaviors and that there are consequences to those behaviors, you better follow through on what you said.  You have to be present and aware to catch those STOP behaviors and that means nipping them as soon as you see them …every single time.  This way the child knows you are present, aware and you mean business.

The most successful parents I know have these three things:

1. A Balance of Connection (Play) time and Correction time
2. House Rules are identified and expectations and consequences are set
3. Follow through on the expectations and consequences every single time

Having a Happy and Healthy Parent Child Relationship is worth all the money in the world… So work on it to  make it happen!!

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!!!

That Darn Purple Dinosaur and his Clean Up Song

40494543_sWhat is it with that song? … You know the one…

Clean Up Clean Up Everybody Everywhere…

Clean Up Clean Up…

Everybody do your share…

That song haunts me sometimes when I least expect it.  Yes, my kids (especially my older kids) loved that Purple Dinosaur and his songs stuck with them and much to my dismay they stuck in my head too.  In fact if Evy or Mick Mattson were to walk in here right now, they could probably sing through any of those wretched songs word for word.  There is something to be said about having a catchy tune to transition a child from a pleasant event (like: playing with their toys) and move them towards a not so pleasant event (like: cleaning up those toys).  The song becomes a cue and the change in pitch of their mother’s voice redirects their brains to fall in line and do that job in a more joyful way.

So, the lesson learned is when you feel like your kids are tuning you out, tune into a catchy song to get them to listen.  It doesn’t have to be one from a popular kids tv show (although if it is a show they are into it won’t hurt).  It could simply be any words put to a common tune.  You could sing about eating vegetables to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  You could sing about making good choices to the tune of Do You Know the Muffin Man?  You could even sing about their emotions or temper tantrums and how to calm down by coming up with a song that goes to the tune of This Little Light of Mine.  Maybe you could even get your kids on board to help you come up with a song.  Whatever works, it is worth a shot to add singing to your parenting toolbox.

The one thing that is sure to happen is that singing might make you steer clear of the heightened emotions that often make behaviors go from bad to worse.  It may calm your own emotions down, keep you from talking and describing too much and singing will most certainly make you in a less serious and more playful mood.  If you are using less words, less emotion, having more fun, smiling more, and more calm you are way more likely to get your child’s attention in positive ways.   So if singing can help you do these things let’s put singing to use more often in our day to day parenting.

Invisible Mommy by Rachel Caswell

IMG_9670Sometimes Don’t You Wish You Were Invisible…
This was a strategy I learned from some random internet search and quickly fell in love with the idea because it worked in my fourth grade classroom. During small group time I would be working with a group of children in the back of the room and wanted to give this group my undivided attention. This meant I truly could not be bothered by simple questions that the other students could answer on their own. So, out came the “I’m invisible” light. This was a simple touch light that looks like these…. (Picture courtesy of aliexpress.com)invisible

On the top of the light, I wrote, “I’m invisible.” When the light was turned on, Mrs. Caswell was….you guessed it, invisible! This means if you were not in my small group at my table you could not ask me a question. One of my favorite memories of this little light was listening to my students in small groups. You would often hear, “Don’t ask her…Her light is on…She’s invisible…” I would peek out of the corner of my eye when they weren’t looking to make sure it was something that truly did not need my attention. Then, I would see them solve the problem on their own and continue their work. Of course, I gave the students lots of examples of times it would be perfectly okay to interrupt me when my light is on. Like a bathroom break, or injury.

So, what does this have to do with parenting?

Well, you can use a light at home too! How? It’s easy. First, buy yourself a little touch light. I found two at Bed Bath and Beyond for just $6.99. Just click here. Then, write “I’m invisible” on the light, but, don’t get started just yet!

Before you use this light, you must TEACH MODEL AND PRACTICE what this is all about. Think about times of your day when you really just can’t be bothered by kid interruptions. Maybe it’s during an important phone call, when you are busy making dinner, or doing emails. Then, teach your kids why you are going to turn on the light. Say something like, “Mommy or Daddy are going to turn on this little light and that means they are doing something very important and cannot be disturbed unless it’s an emergency.” Then, MODEL this new system by roleplaying or drawing it out in a storyline so they can see how it will work. Play a silly game where you turn on the light and become invisible. Then, PRACTICE it for very short increments of time and praise your child for not disturbing you. I would PRACTICE for just a minute or so at first, then slowly go up to your 10-15 minute time period of no interruptions. Have fun becoming invisible, and hey… maybe brothers and sisters could try this out with one another too!

What are your Key Phrases?

phrasesYou probably have certain phrases that roll off your tongue on a daily basis.  In fact, your children could probably tell us what you are going to say even before it comes out of your mouth.  Think about your key phrases and post them around your house.  They will give you a visual reminder of your system and phrases for positive behavior support and the visual cues might help the children to remember to make the good choice.

Here are a few of the Key Phrases that the Mattson kids have heard over and over again…

Me first goes last
(they know this means if you scramble to get the biggest piece of pizza you will get the smallest piece 🙂
Nice gets Nice and Nasty gets nothing
(Notice this doesn’t say Nice gets Nice and Nasty gets Nasty.  When they make the good choice they will get to participate in good times and get the nice attention of mommy.  When they make a nasty choice, they will not get my emotions, or my drama and they definitely won’t get any nice treats.)
Make a good choice
(I used to say this even to my older students as they transitioned back into their regular classroom.  It was my standard phrase, and they came to expect it and of course they had their standard phrase back to me… The long drawn out… “We will Mrs. Mattson”.  These were big kiddos with some heavy duty problems, but they seemed to take comfort in this back and forth between us.  They would  count on me to say it (however annoying it may be to them 😉 and it made me feel like I had one final ounce of influence on them as they  headed out to the real world beyond my small resource room.)
Rewind…
This just gives them a second chance at making the good choice… Would you like to say that again in a nicer tone (REWIND).
Take a break
This just means get it together so you can come back and “join the party”
When in doubt… choose kind…(This is from the book Wonder by RJ Palcio)
This is a new one that has entered our world over the last year because my kids and I read this book.  It is a simple reminder that you are in charge of your choices and your outcomes will be so much easier for everyone if you simply choose the thing that is kind.

How to Have A Child in Bloom

carrot seedHow to Have a Child in Bloom

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss is one of my favorite books to share with children especially at springtime.

 

   This book is a lesson in faith, hope, patience and care.  The boy in the book has faith that the seeds he has planted will eventually sprout.  Patiently he waits as everyone around him says that the carrot plant will not grow.  He takes care of the plant by giving it warmth from the sun and water to grow,  and eventually it grows!!!

 

When we are in the middle or raising our kids, these “growing years” can seem to go on an on.  If we focus on the people and world around us and what everyone else is telling us, we might begin to feel like our little sprout is just not good enough and that our care and concern just isn’t producing the right results.

 

Here’s the good news… In the end our children WILL grow and make it through these tough stages.  All your hard work, patience, faith, care, warmth, and nourishing will pay off.  Your children and family won’t be perfect but they will grow and bloom from where they are now.

 

So don’t give up…
Focus on the things that the boy in the Carrot Seed focused on:

 

Warmth:  Give your child positive experiences, positive feedback, and hugs and laughter galore.  Give them attention when they need it, and room to grow when they need space.  Be a light in their life that models how to control emotions, take a break when you need it and choose kindness mixed with firmness as a means to all ends.

 

Water:  Nourish your child with a variety of experiences that match their interests and gifts.  Don’t fill in every free moment with activities.   Make sure you add in free time to nourish their soul.  Feed them with friendships that give them what they need socially and family time that sets them up with structure, routines and traditions to last their lifetime.

 

Weed:  Focus on what is not working and weed it out of your family life… is it too much screen time and not enough active play? Then get rid of it for a while and add in more running and jumping.  What are your zero tolerance behaviors that you want to dig up and pull out of your child’s life.  Deal with them one at a time digging deep and really getting to the root of the problem.  Weed out friends who are not supporting your parenting style and get rid of events and activities that don’t match up to your family’s values and plan.

 

You are the planter and they are the seeds…
Take care of them and they will Bloom!

Step Up your Time Out Strategies

time outWhat is your current method for dealing with poor behavior choices?Odds are it involves some form of Time Out.

When we look up what the definition of a time-out is we find this:

Time out is a technique in which a child is removed from activity and forced to sit alone for a few minutes in order to calm down.

Time out is usually a punishment or consequence surrounded by negative emotions, words and actions.  It usually involves isolation for a set time and it is always designed and controlled by the  parent.

If Time out is working,  you will know because your child won’t have to go there all day everyday.  If instead,  you are finding that every 15 minutes you are dragging your child to time out only to have him turn around and do it all again, IT’s NOT WORKING!!!

I really can’t say this enough.

If your current method of dealing with behaviors  is not working, then try something else.!

It has been my experience that Time Out (as described above) works best if we include it as one of the set steps within our CONSEQUENCE CONTINUUM.

TIME OUT cannot be THE BE ALL END ALL of your behavior modification plan.

So what other steps should you have on this consequence continuum?  My theory is that we need our kids to begin to regulate self and this needs to be our main concern.  This means that  they will begin to recognize what is not working for them,  think about choices and get themselves together on their own without us dragging them through the Time Out shenanigans all day everyday.

Here are some quick steps to include in your Consequence Continuum…

1.  Give them CHANCES to get it together before we drag them to Time out.
2.  Help them come up with ALTERNATIVE choices for dealing with their world.
3.  PREVIEW and TEACH the new choices through modeling and reminding.
4.  Give them PRACTICE making better choices  in successful small increments of time
5.  Let them REWIND so they can do it better, say it nicer, or try it another way.
6.  Offer a chance to PAUSE and TAKE a BREAK so that they can calm on their own
7.  Choose ZONES or ACTIVITIES that encourage calming and regrouping.   Try to make the TAKE A BREAK ZONE include choices and a spot that is different than TIME OUT… because Time out has usually been a punishment TAKE a BREAK ZONE has to be more positive.
8.  Allow your child a chance to come out of break when they are ready to rejoin the social scene
9.  If they just can’t get it together, or if they have done something that is off the charts bad then they will have to go to a TIME OUT where they are firmly escorted and they TAKE A LOSS

Having layers or steps in your plan will allow the child to taste the sweet success of self control and regulation more often and avoid the defeat of regular time out punishment.   It allows parents more opportunities to catch their child being good and a chance  to tell their child that they noticed that they are growing in their self control.

Remember  in all these, it is the child who has made a choice to go there by choosing the negative behavior.  This takes the pressure off of the parent and it releases some of the emotion tied to consequences.  You love them you just don’t love the behavior and their behavior has led them to the consequence.   If you choose to make a poor choice over and over again you have chosen to go to TIME OUT.  If you choose to get it together through the PREVIEW, REWIND, or TAKE A BREAK steps then you have chosen to avoid TIME OUT.

Hopefully your child will see this play out consistently from you and they will begin to see that getting it together on their own through the first steps is much easier to deal with than going to TIME OUT all day everyday.

Don’t Avoid the Noid…

behavior  noidYour child’s outbursts  in public can make you want to pull your hair out and run for the hills.  They put you and your spouse on high alert and can even cause you to win enemies (the people sitting next to you at church)  and lose your friends (the parents of the kid your child bit at storytime).
The Truth is… You can’t avoid going to the grocery store, visiting the library for story time, or going to restaurants forever.   If you do avoid them,  how will your child ever learn to do it right?   If you are struggling with some kind of public display of bad behavior start by practicing the skills they need at home.  Here are some ideas to get you started:
Practice: Make Believe Style
1. Practice at your dinner table or playtable near your kid size kitchen.  Let them have a chance as  the waitress and give them a “show” of what not to do.  Then talk about the rules for the restaurant table.
2.  Practice going to story time by hosting a story time for your child and all their  stuffed animals.  Let daddy play the part of the disruptive kid and then talk about the rules for story time.
3.  Practice how to go to the grocery store by setting up a model store with your play grocery cart and food.  Go through what is yes and no behavior for the grocery store.
Preview the new expectations and replacement behaviors
Before you get to where you are going, read through a list of dos and don’ts and add in pictures so they can see it and hear it.
Give them the steps for what will happen if things don’t go well.
Give them certain cue words that you will say when you want to get their attention.
Real Life Practice… celebrate small bits of progress
Choose a time when you can go with one child at a time so they get the individual attention they need to learn these public behaviors.
Plan on a visit that will be short and sweet so that you can ensure more success
Don’t make it a high stakes visit to the store or fancy restaurant… start small with a quick trip or a joint that is kid friendly
 Remember they are still growing
Notice the positives and go back to the drawing board with the negatives
Go home and acknowledge how well they did with certain things
Give them more practice and redo your consequences if things aren’t working
All this practice won’t make your next outing perfect,
but it might make it a little easier.
It will set your child on track to continual improvement

Surviving Family Parties

kids tableSpending time with family around the holidays can add extra busyness to the already stressed-out lives we live day to day…
Will our kids be polite?
Will they eat all of Grandma’s green beans?
Will we have to leave early to ward off the ugly behavior?
Use these times as teachable moments to preview expectations and set up boundaries on what we can and can’t act like in public.  Practice the expectations as home and set your child up for success by following their cues that let you know when they have had enough.  Change it up and don’t expect them to last too long.  Have an exit strategy in place so when the time comes you can scoot without a fuss.  Remember you might get an earful from Great Aunt Martha about how you should be parenting.  Instead of brushing it off as “crazy talk”, take it to heart  and be grateful for the fresh perspective… Some of the tried and true methods for raising children are the best and she just might have something to offer your style and situation.

Give your family some legs to stand upon…

If you read my Mealtimes Matter passage from my August Newsletter, then you know how important I think it is for families to gather around a table whether it be for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Call it my soapbox, but I have a few more ideas on how we solidify our families. These essential things can both enrich a family’s mealtime and can strengthen your family in general. When a family comes to me for guidance on their parenting issues we can usually find that one of these essentials is missing from their family life and without it they’re feeling a little wobbly (like a table with only three legs). Having all four of these essentials present in your family life can fill in the gaps of your parenting and give it a solid base to stand upon.

Faith time: Coming together in faith conversations and experiences can support parents by helping them to answer the big questions… Who do we need to model? What do we need to avoid? Why does it matter? How can I survive all this? Faith can help parents come up with boundaries, routines and priorities and can be an excellent starting point when coming up with your essential family rules and procedures. It can be a rock to stand on or a shoulder to cry on when parents are feeling alone, confused, or overwhelmed. Find moments within your week to connect your child to your faith. Share your experiences, add to your own knowledge of your faith by reading and learning about your faith, and then begin weaving it into the fabric of your family life.
Playtime: Coming together to be silly, joyful, and playful gives us a chance to  breakdown the walls that too many boundaries can harbor and allows us a chance to think or act like a child. By playing with our children (I mean really playing not just going to their sporting events), we get a moment to see things from their perspective. You will see that there are so many skills to teach them embedded right into these tiniest moments of fun. Playtime offers us a chance to foster sportsmanship (how to win and lose with grace). It also gives us an opportunity to help our children learn how to wait, take turns, problem solve and plan. Self esteem and taking risks are a part of playtime and creative juices are always overflowing when we step into the realm of play. So get down and dirty with your kids: dress up, act out, roll around and get your sillies out. You’ll see your family bloom from these spontaneous positive playtime experiences.
Book and Learning Time: Coming together to share stories and information gives us teachable moments and conversations that help children understand their world. I don’t mean doing flashcards at the pool in the middle of the summer (all work an no play makes Johnny and Mommy very dull). I mean cuddling up in a soft chair and delving into a great book, or what about, using the characters in a story as models or examples of how to get along in their world.  Let their worries from the day release as they share how the story reminds them of their own experiences and help them to see a fresh perspective when they read or learn about people who are different from them. Sharing books provides a golden opportunity for parents to connect with their kids on many levels… In your busy day don’t let sharing a good book or teachable moments go away.
Rest or Down Time: Coming Together to sit and do nothing or taking time apart to veg-out without a plan can be a very rare occasion in this hustle and bustle world of GO…GO…GO… It’s so easy to flip the calendar and find it suddenly filled from Sunday to Saturday with extra activities and scheduled places to be. In fact, it seems we do these calendar catastrophes to ourselves so we don’t have to hear the dreaded, “I’m bored!!” We think: “ I have to fill up their days with activities so they don’t have a minute to get themselves in trouble.” But being bored can enrich your child’s imagination, bring their stress levels down to a healthy state of mind, and allow time for them to express creative ideas and problem solving strategies. Plug down time into your schedule… Help your child get healthy amounts of sleep and don’t forget to include enough rest and down time into your own schedule so you can consistently be at your best.

Is one of these essential things missing from your parenting plan? How can you add it in?   Weed out your calendar so it’s nearly blank.  Then fill it back up with the essential things that matter most: Mealtimes, Faith Times, Books and Learning time, Playtime and Down time… Put everything else on the calendar as secondary concerns, and I think you will see your family begin to bloom.

Meal Times Matter

Although dinner time at our house may not always run smoothly, it serves as the number one factor that ensures our family’s success. 

Studies show that children who sit down with their family regularly ( for breakfast, lunch, or dinner) are more likely to do well in school, attain their goals, and succeed socially.  This is because the family meal time provides routine, consistency and connection.  The rules and expectations of family life are practiced at this table.  Sharing and caring about each others’ lives takes place here, and it’s also a place to practice socially correct behaviors while trying new things in the company of those who love you no matter what.              

 If we have meals together regularly, we have better odds at having children who succeed.   Even if  the only time we can connect  is during a late night snack or over cereal and milk before the bus comes, make it count, sit down with your kids and pause a bit.   

The world is telling us that sports ,activities, and work matter , but I think we know what really matters. 

 Making connections with our kids THAT’S what matters most.  

Helping them connect the dots of their world is what these connections can do and what better place to do this than around your dinner table.  Make mealtimes matter ,carve out moments around the table breaking bread and uniting as a family.  If you do this regularly you will see your family BLOOM.

If you agree that meal time matters, or if you simply want to find out more about what research says regarding regular family meals,  check out one of my favorite reads:

The Surprising Power of Family Meals by Miriam Weinstein

Win Win situation

We expect our kids to be big kids yet we end up doing everything for them.

By letting your kids have more chances to do things for themselves and do these things with success we can hand over more power and control to them which is all they really want.

Simple things like carrying their own dish to clear the table, holding their own backpack into school, or making their own bed can be first steps to independence for them and freedom for you.

Doing these things on their own without expecting them to be perfect at them allows them to feel like they are contributing and growing in self help skills.

It’s the low expectations on performance that is key for parents to wrap their head around.  We cannot expect our kids to know how to do these things well on the first try.  So give them baby steps to success and repetition with the practice so they feel repeated success before you send them on to the next level of expectation.

For example:  Make your bed can start out by fluffing your pillow and lining them up.  Then once they master this and do it automatically without a cue, add in one more step like, pulling up your first layer or sheet.  Teach them next how to pull it up while flattening out and let them practice these first two steps for a while before mastering the next steps of making the bed.  Always add in one new skill at a time while layering the mastered skills on top of each other.  What I mean by this is if they have mastered how to flatten out the sheet then when they get to the point where they can pull up two or three layers they will have also mastered how to flatten out each of those layers.
These little achievements build their confidence and allow for the control they are searching for. They call for mini moments of praise and the only reward needed is the feeling of accomplishment and contribution to the family system.
It’s a win win situation… We do less. They do more… and everyone is a little happier.

The It Factor…

The “it factor”…
Stop it!
End it!
Quit it!

Are you tired of these phrases?
Whether they are coming from parent to child or sibling to sibling, these phrases have one thing in common… It


Do you know why these phrases rarely work?

Because they aren’t specific enough.
Train yourself to be more specific in your requests by stating the obvious.
Instead of using phrases with a simple “it” start using more specific requests like these:
“Stop teasing your brother with silly faces.”

“End the back and forth bragging.”

“Quit poking your sister with that stick.”

Get specific and teach your kids to do the same…

“Stop coming in my room and taking my things without asking.”

“Quit pinching me in the back seat when mom isn’t looking.”
When we get specific about what we don’t want there’s no dispute over what “it” is.
Just end it!

Child in Bloom’s Top 10

After each workshop, I ask the parents to write down the one tip they are going to go home and try to implement.

Here is a list of the
Top 10 tips chosen by parents this year:

10. Role play or use puppets to act out positive behaviors with your child.
9. Design a list of Stop and Go behaviors that fit your family’s style and needs.
8. Use a visual chart to help your child see and regulate their emotional state.
7. Use phrases like: Nice gets nice and nasty gets nothing,
Let Me Know, Work it out or Walk away, Me First Goes Last,
and Make a Good Choice to support your parenting.
6. Give your child the power they are requesting by offering choices
including the choice to let Mom choose,
or the choice to take a break or take a loss if they aren’t cooperating.
5. Use simple signs to talk to your kids like thumbs up or down.
4. Preview how to behave in certain scenarios using visual stories.
3. Change your tone: using less emotion and a more clear, firm, and kind tone.
2. Use remote control parenting…
Fast Forward (Preview), Rewind (Try it again),
Pause (take a break), Mute(less talk and emotion).
1. Use phrases like, “I’ve noticed…” to acknowledge positive behavior

Its Show Time

It’s Show Time!

What show is playing at your house these days?

Maybe the baby in your family is running the show.
Maybe your toddler’s temper tantrums resemble a horror show.
Maybe your your over-the-top reactions are keeping everyone on the edge of their seats.
Maybe the sibling rivalry has turned into a violent fight scene.
Maybe your child’s emotional rollercoaster is the newest drama.

Whatever show is unfolding in your home these days, it’s your role as the director to make a change in order to make it go away. Each person in your home probably has a strict script that they stick to. Each child finds their niche or storyline and replays that scene over and over again because it’s what gets them noticed. Even as parents we pick roles and settle into it as our comfort zone whether it be the strict enforcer, the lenient side kick or the firm and consistent lead role. The first step you need to take in making a change to a negative scene is to reflect on the following questions and determine all the characters living on your set…

What is the storyline your child has assumed in the family?
What is your part in the drama?
How does your part add to the storyline or take away from the sequence of events?
Does the audience (or rest of the family) feed the negative scripts with their attention?
Do the characters repeat their negative behaviors over and over
because of the attention they receive and because they assume this is their place on the stage?
Can you give people in your family a whole new script with specific tools to help them work through conflict?
Can you rehearse, practice and role play how these new scripts will look?
What changes could you make to help lead this storyline to a happy ending?

If you have drama happening at your home, it’s not too late. You still have time to develop strong leading ladies and gentlemen who have a character sketch that includes civil and loveable behaviors. You won’t win an academy award as the director of this drama, but if you begin to look carefully to see the roles everyone has assumed within your family’s storyline, you will begin to see patterns of behavior. Then you can begin to design a new script that will lead to a happy ending.

Break It Down

Are you constantly nagging your children to accomplish the smallest task?
Could it be that what seems easy to you is overwhelming to  your child?
Think about all the skills needed to make a bed,  pick up toys, pack your backpack…
By breaking tasks down into their most minute parts, we might be able to see where the breakdown in skill is and then focus on how to do each part.
Your child will be more likely to progress to success if they feel like they can master each part of the job.

Who Tells The Stories

“Whoever tells the stories defines the culture.”  David Walsh PhD… Author of NO : why kids of all ages need to hear it and ways parents can say it.
Who is the primary storyteller in your family?
Is it your television? Is it your child’s phone, iPad or video games Is it another adult or their peers?
Is it you?
Define the culture of your family by being the main storyteller in the lives of your children.  That means teaching them lessons, sharing your insights and telling them your expectations.

A Processing Pause

In this rush rush world of busy busy lives, we are quick to expect immediate responses from our children.
When we ask them and expect a response they may take longer to process the request than we expect.
Use this as a pausing moment for yourself.   Walk away saying… “Let me know when you are ready… ” or ” I will know when you are ready when you…”
The pausing, waiting, and walking away leaves the choice making up to them and relieves the stress of the power struggle.
Sometimes all they need is a moment to gather themselves and process the next step.

Flexible Perspective

Do you find yourself in heated battles with your child?
Is it because you’re both stuck on seeing the world in black or white?
What would happen if you tweaked your perspectives and did some flexible thinking to work things out?
Think about what you can and can’t live with, set boundaries around these things but know and show that there are multiple ways to get to the same end.
Make a list of …creative ways to do the same old thing. Ask your child what they think might help solve the issue. Sit with other parents and brainstorm a list of solutions.
When we fade our perspective into gray, we might find a middle ground  that is filled with less perfection and more peaceful relationships.

The “Good Life”

One of my favorite children’s books for helping children understand the reading comprehension concept of cause and effect is a book called That’s Good, That’s Bad  by Margery Cuyler. 

In this book, a young boy, starts his visit to the zoo when his parents get him a shiny red balloon.

 Oh, That’s Good!… No That’s Bad! because…

He is suddenly lifted high above the zoo.  He loved flying high above the zoo so he could see all the animals below him.

 Oh That’s Good!… No That’s Bad! because…

His balloon popped on a tall prickly branch, he fell into a swamp.   Luckily he was able to ride to shore on a roly poly hippo

 Oh That’s Good!… No That’s Bad! because…

Ten baboons were fighting at the river bank and they chased him…

The story goes back and forth between bad and good outcomes until the boy ends up plopping back into his parents arms when a stork carries him across the zoo.  This book helps to open up a discussion with children about how each event in story has an impact on the whole storyline.   When they understand this they begin to realize they can control the storyline in their own writing by shifting positive and negative events and outcomes.

What does this have to do with parenting?????

Wouldn’t it be great if we could help our children connect to the cause and effect of their behaviors and in turn, help them see that their actions affect the storyline of their day.     

 Here’s an example: 

“Hey Mom!”  said the little boy as he walked in the door after school,  “I was able to go outside for recess today because I made good choices during center time.”

 Oh That’s Good… No that’s Bad! because

 “It was 32 degrees outside and everyone was freezing.  I had a heavy coat on and was running around with my friends to keep warm.  We got really excited.”

Oh That’s Good…No That’s Bad ! because

“ I got so excited that I felt like punching my friend in the stomach. I calmed down after I hit him.”

 Oh That’s Good… No That’s Bad! because

“My friend didn’t like it and he cried all the way over to the teacher.  The teacher helped him feel better.”

Oh That’s Good… No That’s Bad! because

“When the teacher saw him crying she made me go talk to the principal, and I have to stay in from recess the rest of the week  and That’s Bad!”

Helping our children experience the real life logical consequences to their behavior can help them see that they have power in their choices and when they make positive choices they can have the “good life”.

 

 

Teach your child to take a look at themselves…

How do we help a child own up to their behavior choices and begin to make a change?

The following  methods encourage a child to be in charge of their good choice making…

Tell them the expectations upfront so they know what they are working towards.

Give them a chance to rewind when they’ve made a poor choice.

Give them a chance to take a break when they’ve made a poor choice and before entering back into the social scene.

Have them look around and recognize what other good choice makers are doing.

The above mentioned skills help children  learn how to start good choice making and stop bad choice making.   Here is one more key skill  that can help a child begin to self regulate and make the shift from negative to positive choices.

Allow your child a chance to look at their progress.

 

Choose one behavior you want your child to focus on and zero in on it.

For example if you want them to practice taking turns while they play on the playground,

you could remind them about this skill before you get to the playground and ask them to pay attention to how they are doing while they are playing.  Then at the end of the playtime, ask them to tell you how they did.  You could try to catch them being good so that you can help them remember their good choices later when they self reflect. 

They could do this self assessment through:

     A simple conversation between parent and child where they tell you what went well and what did not go so well

     A  “picture story telling” where they draw the things that went well and the things that did not go so well.

     A “fill in the blank story telling” where you give them two prompts

           “I took turns when I…” 

           “I did not take turns when I…” 

           “My friend took turns when she…”

           “I felt ___________when my friend did not take turns.”

This could be a drawing or writing exercise that you help them with or they do on their own depending on their age.

       A  simple smiley face chart where they color in how they did and how they felt.

      A sticker chart or some other kind of reward chart where they evaluate their progress.

Of course their perspective could be different than what really happened… This is very normal for early childhood development.  They see their world differently and might need us to be specific about the good and bad choices that we saw them making.  This skill takes practice for your and your child so try it more than one time before you give up. 

 Make self reflection a part of your daily time together and encourage your child to reflect on their own progress as they start to own up to their behavior choices.

Do you feel like a Mommy Monster?

 

We all have an inner Mommy Monster lurking within us. 

It lays low, waiting for our children to push us to our limits.  We try desperately to keep the monster hidden and out of sight, but no matter what, it creeps into our mindset and takes over our approach when we least expect it.

There’s no escaping this Monster when you’ve had a long day.

We’ve all had it happen.  You scream like a mad woman when they’ve messed up your living room for the third time in one day. You roll your eyes back in your head as they  tattling on their brother for the 12th time today.

Here are some quick tips for taming your Mommy Monster…

1. You can love your child and despise their poor choices.  Make sure your statements regarding their behavior choices are not degrading or personal.  Focus on the behavior not the child.  Love them anyway.

“I love you… I can’t stand that your brother got hit over the head with a block.”

I have found that a behavior will not go away until we reach our breaking point with it and until we say we can’t stand it any longer.

2.  Know your limits.  Set up systems that allow you to get the down time you need.   Find ways for your child to play on their own, or do whatever they can independently and safely while you take a rest, regroup or get something done.

Come up with a list of “go to”, safe, activities that give your 5-10-30 minutes of piece. Then “go to” that list when you need a break.

3. Just the facts.  When you list the simple facts and avoid the fluff and circumstance you make your tone more clear.  This will help you to tame the extreme emotions that come with “heavy duty” discussions and battles of wills. Speak directly, with little emotion and simple statements, and your child will understand you better and know exactly what is going on in your mind.

Here’s an example: Johnny you hit your brother.  Hitting Hurts.  We don’t hurt people or things in this house. Hurting is a bad choice.  Because you chose this you have also chosen to take a break from the fun (or take a loss or take a timed out).   

Avoid asking why or else the debate will go on and on… Just deal with the facts of what happened and how what happened doesn’t match your family’s plan.

4.  Don’t take things personally.  Their behavior has nothing to do with you and everything to do with that they haven’t learned to regulate or control their responses.  You are working on getting them to do this on thier own… this is a step in the right direction.   It might get worse before it gets better, so take yourself out of the equation.

5. Focus on what they did well.  Try to catch them in the moments where they succeeded in making good choices.  This positively reinforces what you want to see and helps you to think more positively about the tiny steps of growth they are making.  Focus on the good stuff.

Follow these guidelines to tame your inner Mommy Monster, and hopefully, your mini-monsters behavior will begin to improve too.

The Rule of Thumb When Making Rules…

                              

Children as young as three can think things through using the statements… “If … Then…”  This is called the age of reason where they can judge what might happen next if they choose certain behaviors.  This means at this early age, we can already guide our children to take on the job of regulating their behavior.  Having clear rules and expectations helps us help them make good choices.  Here is summary of how you might start to incorporate your rules and expectations into your family life.

 

LET CHILDREN KNOW WHAT IS EXPECTED

  First, State the positive expectations…. 

When designing your house rules, make sure to consistently state the positive things you want or expect.    Here are a few examples of what you might expect.  Only choose three (at the most) that work for your family and make sure they are general.

   Be Nice   Be Helpful    Be Honest   Be Gentle   Be in Control

 Then, Get specific. Start to think about what each positive expectation covers, and make sure your children understand that each broad expectation has specific parts to it. Children under 7 need to see these specifics visually in order to understand them, so showing them pictures of good choices is a great idea.

Being  Nice = being nice with your body, your words, and your actions

Being  Helpful = helping your family and friends, your home, and yourself (by doing your best)

Being in Control= controlling your body and actions, your words, and your emotions

Finally, Be on the lookout for good choices.  Tell them you noticed when they made a good choice, and reinforce the behavior with your attention to it.  For example state, “I noticed how you were in control of your body when we waited in line at the store. You probably wanted to touch the candybars but you didn’t and that was a good choice.” 

 

LET CHILDREN KNOW WHAT IS NOT ALLOWED

 “Zero in” on Zero Tolerance Behaviors

No Fussing      No Fighting      No Hurting     No Whining    No Lying

Choose a few  items from this list or your own ideas that make sense in your home.  These should be broad enough to cover a lot of ground. Again, visually showing children under age 7 examples of these negative behaviors is a good idea so that we can help them better understand what we are talking about.  For example:

No Fussing means no whining, no screaming, and no wailing

 

GIVE YOUR CHILD TOOLS TO HELP THEM REGULATE BEHAVIOR

Give them a chance to rewind  and do it over again without the bad choices. Parent may have to give them examples of how they could have done things differently like: Say that again in a nice way, Show me how to play nice with your sister, Say nothing instead of saying something nasty.

 Allow  them a chance to take a break.  When they are unable to rewind on the spot and give you an alternative to the bad choice, allow them a chance to take a break away from the group and return on their own when they are ready to be nice. This break is not a negative consequence but just a chance to regroup.  They may take it a multitude of different ways and whatever works to get them to regroup is an okay choice for a break.  The goal is the regrouping not the actual break.  So help your child decide what is going to work and use it.

Remind them that… Nice gets nice and Nasty gets nothing

Come up with a list of the things that are important to your child and take these things away for a designated time period if they do not get their behavior on track after rewinding or taking a break:  tv, computers, favorite toys, snacks, dessert for the day.  Make sure what you take away is something meaningful,  so that they weigh the consequences of their actions.  If you tell them they will lose something, then you HAVE to be willing to follow through.  

 

If we set them up with these boundaries and tools, the child should begin to regulate their behavior without us doing it for them.

Having rules and  system for how they work will give the child the boundaries and expectations they need to feel secure and safe.

Having Tools and a system for how they work will give the child the chance to be in charge of their behavior.

 

The child gets the chance to succeed on his own!  

 

The child gets the chance to stay  and play.

 

The child gets the chance to have special things later in his day.

 

Thumbs up to parents who use rules and boundaries to help their child bloom and grow! 

                            

Cute doesn’t Cut it…

Believe me. I am the first to melt when I see a little girl with ruffles on her tush… or a handsome young preschooler with a Cincinnati Reds jersey to match his MLB hat.   I simply love to find a good deal on great clothes for kids, and my own children know when it comes to a photo opt… cute clothes matter to their mom.   With back to school around the corner, I don’t have to tell you how expensive it can be to ensure your kid is the cutest kid to walk in the door of his classroom.    The children’s clothing market is hot.   There are options all over the web for parents to find  great outfits for great prices,  and then shower their kids with designer labels.

The other day I was at a restaurant and saw the most darling curly haired child dressed in the sharpest duds.  His seer-sucker shorts and designer green polo shirt were so sweet.   His shoes may have cost more than my weekly grocery bill, and his monogrammed belt were one of a kind.  Mom and Dad had obviously spent time, money and energy addressing this little guy’s style.  There is no doubt about it… He was adorable, but his poor choices and out of control behavior were all I could see.  If only his demeanor were as enchanting as his appearance.  He was spitting his food out, yelling words like “YUCK”,  and “I Hate This” .  He was running around the dining area screaming with glee as Mom and Dad sipped wine and smiled at him, “Isn’t he sooo cute?”    

I say simply… CUTE doesn’t CUT it!

I would love to see a world where parents invest in resources that support positive behavior.  It’s time for parents to spend less time surfacing the web for great deals on ribbons and bows and more time finding ideas on how to get their child to pay attention to the rules of their home.  I would like to see more facebook  posts where parents recognize and share their child’s good choices instead of their adorable Easter Bunny photo shoot. 

I say… dig deep into your parenting approaches and decide what matters most to you and your spouse.  Then, set up house rules that mirror what you expect.     Instead of focusing on how great your child looks in the mirror, make sure their behavior mirrors your family expectations.  Are they a friend to the neighbor kids?   Are they accepting of people who are different from them?  Do they help around the house and wait patiently for their turn to talk or play? Can you take them to a restaurant without getting dirty looks from other customers?

 How cute everyone’s child would be if they could all: sit quietly and attend to a task, use kind words, share their things, and listen on the first time.

It is easy to be “caught up in cute”.  The world around us is telling parents that being cute is the most important thing, but Child in Bloom Parents know the difference.  Cute only goes so far, and when parents and their children bloom… The sky’s  the limit.

By the way… here are some quick tips for dining with your little ones…

  1.  Set up a visual storyline before going to the restaurant that tells your child what to expect, how we behave politely, and what the consequences will be if rules are not followed.
  2. Practice these same rules at your own dinner table and when playing pretend restaurant with your child at home.  Practice and remind your child of these expectations over and over again.
  3. Follow through on the first time if your child doesn’t follow the plan.
  4. Find ways to make dining developmentally appropriate… Your child’s attention matches directly to their age and so bring more than enough stuff to keep them entertained.
  5. Ask for a table that is remote and far away from diners who want to have a quiet evening away.
  6. Boothes are always a good choice for spreading out and giving your child the room they need to wiggle and giggle.
  7. Order your child’s food in advance and let your waiter know you might need to leave in a hurry when the child has lost their steam.
  8. Bring food and drinks to offer while you wait.
  9. Have an exit plan that involves getting up to peek at the restaurant’s fish tank, or walk to the parking lot to get a breather.  Never let your child roam a restaurant freely.
  10. Pay attention to your child and put your phones to the side as you focus on this special time with your family.

The Honest Truth about sibling emotions…

Here is the honest truth…  It is the first week of July, halfway through summer and it is clear to me that brothers and sisters don’t always get along.  We have a choice to make as their parents… and what we decide could make or break the rest of our summer.  Here are three responses that parents make when dealing with the brothers and sisters living in their home. 

+ The “Positive” Parent

We can insist on positive relations between our children at all times.  Saying things like: “You are brothers and you will be best friends for a lifetime no matter what”  or “You are lucky to have a sister so hug and make up.”  Or when we hear things like, “I don’t like you!” or “You make me soooo mad!”  we could quickly cut the conversation off and make them feel ashamed for being negative with their words and emotions.  When we choose this approach it may seem like we are helping our kids solidify positive relations with each other.   For the short term it might silence the negative emotions,  but what we might be doing in the long term is creating more  resentment because the honest negative emotions are not allowed to surface.

-The “Negative” Parent

We could settle into a doom and gloom perspective when our children start to fight; assuming the worst.  And we could begin to think that our kids will never get along.    We might say things like, “ My oldest and youngest just can’t get along, I know their personalities just don’t mesh and never will”  Or “All my kids do is bicker.  They will never get along so why bother making them be friendly with each other now.”  When we choose this perspective we emphasize their differences, encourage the negative relationship and avoid honest conversation about how to get beyond the differences.  It can become a situation where we portray them as enemies and they repeat the behavior over and over again assuming it is their role in the family.

“The Child in Bloom” Parent

Here is a third solution for dealing with sibling emotion.  What if we acknowledge the mixed emotions and have our children tell us the truth of how they feel?  Even if the truth hurts (I can’t stand to be around my baby sister, I don’t want him to be my brother anymore, I hate her, I wish he would go away) we can at least allow them to get the emotions off their chest.  We can begin by saying things to them that reinforce the truth of what they are feeling, “ I understand that sometimes you wish you had mom and dad all to yourself” or “I get what you are saying, you are annoyed by your little sister today.”   Once they share the emotion they may begin to problem solve on their own about how to get along.  If they can’t tell you how they really feel out loud then have them express it in another way.  They can do this through: writing, drawing, using puppets, storytelling, or acting it out.  Then start to focus on the positives even  the smallest moments when your children  are getting along.  Allow them to recognize these moments.  Then help them to realize that even though the truth is that they don’t always get along they do have moments when they can connect. These positive moments may begin to happen more often as the children find things they have in common and when we acknowledge the mixed emotions of being siblings.

I will be speaking at the Honeybee bookstore on the topic of emotions.  This blog ties nicely to our discussion last month on Sibling Rivalry and is a great intro into our discussion on how to help children deal with their emotions.   If you like this conversation and want to continue it, join me July 11th from 10-11 AM at the Honeybee bookstore in Madeira. Please  feel free to  share this info with a friend who might want to hear some fresh perspectives and if you are planning to come to the Honeybee bring a friend along.  Children are always welcome, too.

 

Your Parenting Journey

Summer is here, and like many families we have been anxiously awaiting a getaway that we planned months ago.  The plan includes an ending spot where we will park our family for a few days and savor the sun and relaxation that a vacation brings.  I would like you to think about your child’s behavior like you might plan a trip…

When you detail your parenting journey make sure it includes the following:

Choose a destination ….What do you expect to have from your children down the road.  How will they be when they leave your nest and enter the real world?  What kind of college roommate, coworker, boss, husband or wife or will they become because of your guidance. 

       Your goals for your child may include that they will be: compassionate, kind, gentle, slow to compete with those around them,  or maybe it is the opposite, that they will be competitive and have a winning attitude.  Maybe you would like them to be cautious, calm and quietly reflective, or maybe that they will be creative, and open minded.   Whatever your dream for your child’s future, consider it your destination on the parenting journey and know that (like your summer vacation) it will not happen if you don’t first set it in motion. 

Pack your bags: Research what you will need.  Rely on your resources to fill your bags with tools and tricks that work for your child’s developmental stage and temperment.  Connect with great parenting resources  (people, book, programs, and websites) and bring them along on your journey.

Bring a Map: Put your plan to paper and map out alternative routes to the same destination, plan ahead for bumpy roads.  Know that you might have to use visuals to support your plan, don’t spend all your time in the fast lane racing from place to place and at times take the road less traveled (your parenting style doesn’t have to be popular).

Round up your “passengers”: Who is a part of your plan?  What caregivers need to be aware of the plan besides you? Take every “passengers’ ” perspective into consideration (including both parents, caregivers and grandparents) when you plan, so, everyone feels like they’ve been heard and all needs and strengths have been met.

Rest Stops along the way… Give yourself and your family time to pause, reflect, regroup as you think about your plan and take care of your passengers.

Get Lost: On the way, it is okay to get lost or stray from the beaten path.  At times you will have to be flexible in your thinking because all your passengers may have different needs that don’t match up to your plan.  To get back on track you might have to try new perspectives, new ideas and new approaches.

Remember the parenting journey may not always be comfortable but if you keep plugging along you will arrive at your destination.

The Sibling Paradox

If you were to meet my sister or brother you would know right away we were related. You would see the family resemblance in our eyes and our expressions  .  You would listen and laugh along with us as we shared crazy stories from our childhood .    We have many things in common: our mannerisms, our experiences, our family and friends and all the unique stories from our life together.    The longer you spend time with us the more clear it would become to you that we are also very different.   Our interests, talents and needs are specific to each one of us yet we had to live under the same roof, share the same parents and everything else in our home.    It is a paradox that children who are siblings can be so alike in their experiences and yet so different.     This paradox seems to be  the root of what causes sibling rivalry and the mixed emotions of having a sister or brother.

Here are two things to keep in mind when raising sisters and brothers…

#1 Your children will not be alike in all things, and so your parenting approaches will need to be unique to them.  Each child will have their own desires, affinities, and needs and it is very likely that they will be different from your own.  It is your role as parent to foster these things in your child, so, that their true selves can come alive.  When we let our children “shine” individually, we will be less likely to compare them and more likely to show them a love that is equal despite their differences.

#2 Because they live together under one roof and share life experiences,  your children will also have a unique bond that cannot be replicated.  These shared experiences will lead to a common language, based upon similar experiences within your home and family life.   Hopefully these bonds will be the thread that ties them together despite their differences.   They will be connected by their inside jokes and funny family stories that retell their shared experiences.  If we as parents make these connections positive and foster special connections we can help them hold their relationships together. Help your children foster these unique relationships by fostering positive responses to each other, by having open conversations about the mixed emotions of sister and brotherhood and by celebrating both their differences and their common ground.

Message for Moms

It is your day!

Celebrate… Acknowledge…Forgive…Remember

Celebrate the fact that you don’t have to be perfect at parenting. 

Celebrate by finding your own inner kid…

 Laugh !  Leap !  and  Learn! with your children.

Acknowledge the sacrifices you have made to make your child’s life more complete.

Acknowledge the smallest things you do daily to make your family complete.

Forgive yourself for the mistakes of last week.

Forgive yourself for overlooking that one thing on yesterday’s “to do” list.

Remember that you have support all around you waiting to give you a lift when you need it most.

Remember that you are not alone!

Remember that these crazy days soon will pass.

As Moms together in this most important job of parenting let’s:

Celebrate!  Acknowledge! Forgive! Remember!

Laugh! Leap! Learn and Love!

It’s your day!

Say “Tootles” to Tattling

  If your house is anything like mine, you have children who spend their days tattling on their siblings and you spend your day refereeing the arguments.

When we acknowledge the tattling the accusing child gets two bonuses:

First: They reported a negative behavior and “saved the day”

Second:  They feel like they have moved up in the ranks of rivalry because their brother or sister will surely move down after being caught red handed. 

Here’s a typical tattling scenario: 

  • The children are playing a game nicely.
  • All is good in the home… Mom and Dad are smiling… Ahhh!
  • The parent gives no attention  to the children because they think: “Why mess with a good thing?”
  • Suddenly the climate of the play changes…
  • Something is unfair and the dice get thrown across the game table.
  • A child yells, “I quit.  Mom and Dad,  Josh  cheated!” …
  • Momand Dad are  forced to pay attention.
  • Mom and Dad have to weed through the sequence of the showdown.
  • Mom and Dad have to figure out the consequences of the actions.
  • Mom and Dad have a headache. 

What if the scenario went a different way:    

  • Mom walks by the table where her children are playing nicely, and makes a specific comment about something positive she sees them doing. “I noticed that you let your brother go first.”
  • Mom reinforces that they should try to “work out” their differences as arguments come up and make it fair so everyone can continue the game. “What is your plan if someone thinks something is unfair?”
  • Mom mentions she wants each brother or sister to catch their siblings doing something good during the game and report back to her when they are finished.
  • The children’s focus will turn from personal gain to group gain.  They will be able to report how well the game went, how well they worked together to solve problems and Mom no longer has to be the referee. 
  • They will work through problems as they come up and focus on the positives instead of the negatives. All the while they will be noticing their siblings strengths.

This is called positive peer reinforcement, and it is something that teachers are trying to do more and more within their class settings.  Some people call this tootling because it causes children to focus on the positive instead of negative behaviors replacing tattling with “tooting some else’s horn” .(Skinner et al. 2000) You can try this in the home setting too. 

Here are some steps to make it a success: 

  1. Mom and Dad specifically call out positive behavior when they see it and clearly state the positive behavior they would like to see.
  2. Children focus on catching each other making the good choices that match Mom and Dad’s plan
  3. Children report the good choices that others made (instead of tattling on the “bad choices”)
  4. Positive Behavior increases as children work to get the positive attention of their siblings and parents
  5. Shift happens from personal gain to group gain
  6. Children team up to be good
  7. Mom and Dad cease being the referees
  8. Everyone is a little more positive and peaceful

As parents, you might want to tally up the “tootles” at the end of the day and acknowledge the positive choices made.  You could even have your children work towards achieving a certain number of tootles for a family surprise. 

Studies show that the rate of positive behaviors go up when positive behaviors are emphasized, recognized and acknowleged, and likewise, negative behaviors increase when we continue to recognize, emphasize and acknowledge them.  So focus on the positive to get a peaceful home.

Toot your child’s horn today!

Skinner, C. H., Cashwell, T. H., & Skinner, A. L. (2000). Increasing tootling: The effects of a peermonitored interdependent group contingencies program on students’ reports of peers’ prosocial behaviors. Psychology in the Schools, 37, 263–270.

 

Better things to do…

Better things to do…I was recently next to a parent when I heard them tell their child “I’ve got better things to do than to help you with your homework all day.”  The parent and child were at an indoor sporting facility attempting to work through homework while they waited for a sibling to finish their practice.  Guess what the better thing to do was…Yep! Checking their facebook account.  This parent voiced what many of us are showing with our responses to our children.  What are your responses telling your child?  There is no doubt about it… life with kids in tow is busy. Sports, work commitments, schoolwork, home projects and keeping up with our social lives all add to the hectic pace.

The bad news is… many times children play second fiddle to these other commitments and parents lash out saying… hurry up, get going, I have got better things to do as they rush their children from place to place.

The good news is children are resilient and need only the smallest portion of your time… 15 minutes playing catch in the backyard, 10 minutes reading their favorite book, 5 minutes connecting with them about their day,  1 minute consoling them when they are sick, 1 second to pat them on the back.

When looking at your to do list, could you add in small moments like this to your hectic day?  Or do you have “better things to do?”

Baby Steps to Better Behavior

Don’t try to respond to every issue your child presents at once.  Choose the issue that is driving you crazy or affecting your child’s life the most, and focus on it first.

Take one issue at a time-observe and reflect on it, devise a plan or response around that issue, make your plan consistent in all areas and with all people in your child’s life, and then stick with it .  You will see results and possibly the positive results will spill into other areas of their life.  Once you’ve mastered this baby step you can choose the next thing on your list of issues and start working on it.  Many times once we conquer one of the major issues the minor issues might fall into line.  Remember better parenting is a work in progress…

Take it in Baby Steps!

The Three R’s of Parenting

I could never figure out why educators always referred to the three r’s (reading writing and arithmetic) knowing full well that only one of those words starts with an “r.” Why would they use this to help them remember the major components of their field of work knowing full well they might just confuse the children they were working with and create more spelling headaches for everyone? Continue reading “The Three R’s of Parenting”