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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look for books on Conflict Resolution

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

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

 

 

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!

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?

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.

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

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

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?