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.

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.

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.

Great Tips from Gretchen Greenawalt

GretchenG.R.O.W.
As a seed grows into a flower, so a child into an adult. Watching people develop amazes me and helps me to see that all things are possible with little bits of support. That’s why I’ve loved coaching people through the years whether it be the students in my classroom or the college students I worked with on the campus of Ohio State University.

One of the strategies that I implement in my coaching conversations is based on the acronym G.R.O.W. Throughout my career coaching college students, on any topic from dating advice, to addictions, from parents to academics, I help my coachee first set a Goal for the conversation. After listening to the Realities of their situation, I help the individual identify and set a feasible goal. Then the coachee and I discuss all the Options for action that they can plan to take as a means to reach the goal. Finally I help the coachee pick one of the options and decide to act on it. The conversation would end with the coachee having a next step that they WILL complete before our next session.

It’s as simple as that…
G.R.O.W. = Grow, Reality, Options, and Will do.

These coaching moments have proved to be life changing moments for the people I have coached in the past and I am excited to extend my coaching reach into the realm of helping parents Bloom and GROW. With my background in child development and education and my experience coaching adults, parent coaching through Child in Bloom seems like a natural next step. As I talk with Moms and Dads about the realities of their situations, we will be able to devise goals, identify options and tools to support the progress towards the goals, and with regular meet ups the parents will be held accountable for what they will do to begin to shift their parenting approaches.

Great Tip from Gretchen!

Use only three to five words at a time to communicate to your children in the heat of a power struggle…

The other day, my husband and I were going to the movies with our daughter. My husband was attempting to describe with lots of words why our daughter had to go potty before the movie started. The description was simply not sinking in and a fuss was about to ensue. She wanted to eat her popcorn and go into the movie but she DID NOT want to go potty… The back and forth between her fussing and his description went on and on until finally I said clearly (with less than five words at a time)

“Go Potty … Get Popcorn
No Potty… No Popcorn.”
I also showed her these two choices by putting my two hands out (showing choice one or choice two).

Giving her these two simple phrases made it crystal clear to her and with in seconds she simply said, “I want to go Potty so I can have Popcorn!” Wow! Magic!

Diffuse a Temper Tantrum with Signs By Shannon Buckner

Shannon Buckner

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

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

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

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

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

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!

One Kind Word Can Warm Three Winter Months

bb87d432-e783-42c7-bfc3-80076f5f6eed-3It’s  freezing outside and we are all having dreams of summer days spent poolside.

What if we could warm up these chilly days by saying or doing something kind and teaching our children that one small good choice can melt someone’s heart.

If you’ve attended one of my group presentations, then you have probably heard me talk about “pennies in my pocket”.

One of my former teaching positions was a pretty rough setting where I felt like all day long I was saying… Stop that! You can’t do that! Quit it! Enough! I was so busy policing the bad choices that I didn’t even recognize all the good things that were already happening in the classroom. My classroom aide in this setting was very wise and helped me to see that if I rewired my focus and put more of my energy into noticing the good choices I may change the whole classroom dynamic.

I decided I needed some help in this venture so I made up a system to train my brain to focus more on the positives. I would put 10 pennies in my pocket and every time I noticed a positive behavior (even the smallest bit of progress and believe me this was not an easy task), I would shift a penny to my other pocket. I had to move all ten pennies in one hour and this practice really forced me to change my approach. I was forced to find good stuff happening and overlook some of the negative behaviors in the process. I did this regularly for a month and soon my brain had a new habit. It began to focus first on what was good about my situation and then zero in on what needed fixing.

Not only was this new approach changing me, the kind words and positive feedback started to rewire my students’ brains too. Many of my students had been stuck in a negative storyline where they were the central character. They acted out the expected behavior which was getting them into tons of trouble. Bad choice making was their story and they were sticking to it…

Here’s how the the story would go…
They would act up,
I would call it out,
They would assume this is who they are (the bad kid who acted up) and then of course they would fulfill that role in the classroom one more time
I would call them out again
The cycle would continue.
This was who they were and who they had always been so they were staying “in character”. When I started to notice positive bits of progress instead of all the bad stuff, they suddenly had a new storyline. They were getting attention for sitting quietly instead of constantly getting my attention for calling out. They began to work to catch my attention in new and positive ways and the whole class dynamic began to shift.

One kind word or positive affirmation changed their whole day…. It warmed our classroom and we began to settle into a whole new dynamic. Try catching your child when they are “doing it right”. I know throughout their day there has to be a few times when they are making good choices… So notice these moments more than you notice the bad and maybe you will warm up your whole house!

By the way… you can pass this positive focus onto your kids too and have them start to point out what their siblings are doing right… We call it “tootling” at our house when we tootle instead of tattle and toot our brother or sister’s horn!

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.

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!

Happy Father’s Day

Here are few things my husband Toby has taught my children and the best part is he has taught them these things not through long drawn out conversations or dissertations but through his example…

He’s taught them…
…How to be a supportive son as he calls on his own parents and loves them unconditionally.

… How to be a great big brother as he continues to positively connect with his own little sister

…. How to be a loyal friend who takes life seriously when he’s suppose to and adds a dose of laughter and humor to all situations

… How to be a loving,devoted, and prayerful husband who recognizes we are walking through our marriage hand in hand with each other and alongside a greater power

For all these things his parenting has given great gifts to our kids.

Happy Fathers Day from Child in Bloom…Photo: Here are few things my husband Toby has taught my children and the best part is he has taught them these things not through long drawn out conversations or dissertations but through his example...</p><br />
<p>He's taught them...<br /><br />
...How to be a supportive son as he calls on his own parents and loves them unconditionally.</p><br />
<p>... How to be a great big brother as he continues to positively connect with his own little sister</p><br />
<p>.... How to be a loyal friend who takes life seriously when he's suppose to and adds a dose of laughter and humor to all situations</p><br />
<p>... How to be a loving,devoted, and prayerful husband who recognizes we are walking through our marriage hand in hand with each other and alongside a greater power</p><br />
<p>For all these things his parenting has given great gifts to our kids.  </p><br />
<p>Happy Fathers Day from Child in Bloom...

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.

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.

Don’t Go “Chicken Little” On Us

Some say we’re raising our children in The Age of Information, and who can argue with this?  If we need  any insights to support our parenting, it’s literally at our fingertips within seconds. 

Like an acorn falling from the tree of knowledge tree, all this information can be a blessing and a curse.

Maybe a better name for this generation of parenting would be…The Age of Information Anxiety   

As moms of the new millenium, we have so much to worry about: car seats, flu shots, preschool sign-ups, IQ testing, brand names, bullying, peer pressure, screen time, perfect party planning, and more. 

A quick web search on topics like these (below) could send our heads spinning and cause any mom to “Go Chicken Little”…

 

The effects of high fructose corn syrup on children…    “Help! The sky is falling; the sky is falling!!!… I just read that I may doom my child to obesity because I allowed him to put ketchup on his broccoli to get him to eat it.  What should I do???? Skip the broccoli or risk obesity???”

How to properly perform time out procedures with toddlers…Help! The sky is falling; the sky is falling… I can’t get timeout to work for my child… There must be something wrong with me because it’s not changing my child’s behavior.”

Is it ever okay to take away a child’s “lovie”?… Help! the sky is falling; the sky is falling… Yesterday I took away my 4 year old’s favorite bear because he’s been hitting his baby brother over the head with it… Did I wreck his self esteem forever?”

Reasons we should avoid too much screen time… “Help! The sky is falling; the sky is falling… I’ve been letting my youngest child watch tv while I cook dinner EVERY NIGHT, and I just read that too much tv can cause ADHD…. AHHH”

Best bets for three year old birthday bashes …”Help! The sky is falling; the sky is falling… I saw the cutest ideas on Pintrest for a three year old birthday party, but the prize baggies have to be sewn, and the cake has to be made from scratch.

 If you start searching, there are thousands of opinions all claiming to have each parenting topic perfectly mastered. 

 Don’t be fooled so easily… YOU are the only one true expert on your parenting situation.

  You know exactly what you can handle and what will and will not work in your home.  So, don’t let the internet become your Foxy Loxy.  It will only add to the fear and anxiety and cloud your natural instincts.  

Leave the worrying to Chicken Little,  and reflect on the questions below to help you figure out what matters most to you.  Once you have done some inner reflection, your little acorn (or family) will grow into the great big oak tree it was meant to be. 

What routine parts of the day cause trouble for your kids?

Are my husband and I on the same page with our methods of parenting?

If not, how can we meet in the middle?

What is one new response that is doable for my family?

What are the things that are most important to me and my spouse?

How can I avoid getting sucked into worries about how my parenting compares to the rest of the world?

 How can I remember to catch my children being good?

How can I encourage my child to be independent and self regulated?

What are the real safety concerns I need to be aware of for my child’s age level?

 Can we live moderately as a family and stay afloat in this sea of information?

 

R U Working On Your Parenting

WHY do we want to be better parents?…to improve how our children RELATE to their world and the people in their lives..
HOW do we become better parents?… Gathering REAL RESOURCES, having REAL time to REFLECT, and using RESPONSES that REALLY work.
WHAT happens when we become better parents?… We start to REGULATE our thoughts, emotions, and actions, and so do our children.

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.