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!

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”

All They Need is Love through Power and Attention

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

Power and Attention

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

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

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

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

The Connected Child by Purvis, Cross, and Sunshine

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

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

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...

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”.

 

 

Nasty Gets Nothing

Let’s define nasty behavior…
Hurting: with words and tone, hitting, pinching, biting …
Fussing: screaming, yelling, talking back, whining, tantrums…
Naming these STOP behaviors is the first step.
No Hurting and No Fussing are the only rules you really need.
Now that we know what we are dealing with, lets get to work on eliminating these poor choices.

It’s hard to help your child overcome their nasty behavior if you are busy making excuses for it….
He only BITES when he is tired.
She is so sweet but sometimes she SLAPS her sister when she doesn’t feel like sharing her toys.
She’s two so she SCREAMS and YELLS to get her way.
He WHINES all through dinner only when I make things he doesn’t want to eat.
… After we name the behavior the next step in getting rid of it is to get rid of our excuses.
There is NO excuse for nasty.

Are you ready to Rumble?

Our  two boys love to wrestle.
We have to provide lots of time for this kind of rough housing during these cooped up winter months. It helps them to release tension and regulates their sensory systems.
So here are some things we do to keep their bodies active:
Pillow pile up where we let them run and jump into a huge pile of pillows and blankets, pillow fights, and rough and tumble football (w…atch the breakables;) with a small nerf football and dad as the referee.
Although the thought of indoor rough housing may give you a headache, it could save the day and allow your kids to get their aggression and sensory systems in line.
Make sure you monitor the play, set up specific boundaries and don’t let it go on too long or else they will get too revved up.  When it comes to wrestling a little goes a long way;)

Don’t be a such a sucker….

What child doesn’t love a trip to the bank?  It’s one of the many errands on Mom’s list of places to go that kids simply don’t mind attending.  Why is this? SUCKERS!!!

Here’s what happened the other day: 

 I was in the drive-through line at our bank…

It was one of the final days of summer, and so I had a car full of kids.  There were big kids and little kids and everyone knew what their prize would be if they stayed quiet while I tried to hear the teller’s directions over the speaker. The teller asked, “Do you have children in the car and are they allowed to have a sucker.”  These questions were her typical questions.  She was so kind to ask them, and I responded, “I have four children in the car, and yes, they are allowed to have a sucker, thank you so much.” 

      However, the teller went beyond her call of duty with her next question… With one quick question she opened up a can of worms instead of that yummy jar of dum dum suckers.   She said, “And what flavors do they want?”  My children’s eyes lit up because not only did they get a sucker, but they got to choose the flavor! Holy Moly! Life is good!

       What I want to know is :  When did things change?   When did we move from offering a special treat to appeasing our children’s every want and desire?  This shift (I fear) is what is creating havoc in many of our homes.  This question of “what do you want?” changes the road ahead in our families as it puts the child in the driver’s seat.  I think the question stems from our need to avoid having our children suffer. 

Maybe parents are thinking these things…

“My children have a mind of their own, and why would I want them to have to suffer through eating a sucker they don’t like.”

“Wouldn’t it be tortuous to expect them to sit quietly while I speak to the teller, and then give them a black raspberry sucker when they really wanted a watermelon one?” 

“What a horrible mother I would be if I didn’t give them what they wanted! Shouldn’t  I give them what they deserve?   Which is …. Which is…”

Well, I guess that is the million dollar question.  

What do our children deserve?

 Do children deserve special treats or are special treats an added bonus to their expected behavior?

This may sound radical, but I say:  children don’t deserve anything for making good choices while you wait at the bank or when they act as they are expected to act. 

     Now, if the teller is nice enough to offer you a sucker, then you may have one, but the deal is: You get what you get and you don’t have a fit.  If you don’t like the flavor you have received, then you kindly pass it on to your brother, and ask if he would like to swap flavors.  If no one wants to swap, you keep the sucker to share with your poor mother who has driven you all over town, or you simply throw it away when you get home.   

 Is this logical or am I crazy?  

Crazy is:  dooming our children to a life filled with constant pleasure and no suffering.  This is because eventually life will deal them a “Yucky Sucker”, and they won’t know how to suffer gracefully because they’ve never had to do this before. 

Back to our bank story:   I kindly responded, “We are okay with whatever flavor we get,” (as my children cringed and groaned at me in the back seats).  Then the teller said, “Thank you for being so easy going. I just had a mom drive back through the line because the sucker I gave her wasn’t her child’s favorite, and she didn’t want to hear him cry about it all the way home.”

YIKES!    Are you kidding me? Is this what we’ve resorted to…? 

 Are these the Life Rules for children in 2012

1.  Get a treat for doing nothing out of the ordinary. 

2.  Cry as hard as you can when you don’t like the treat. 

3.  Then your mother will beg for another free treat so that she doesn’t have to listen to you suffer.   

Here are  my final thoughts…

  1. When  it comes to freebies like suckers at the bank,  there is no fussing… You get what you get and you don’t have a fit.  If children are allowed to throw a fit and get what they want, their parents are supporting negative behaviors.
  2. If you do throw a fit, then you will get nothing.   Mom or dad will not contrive the perfect scenario to make your wishes come true.  They will not coddle you until you calm down over your “horrible experience”.  Although this will be a challenge for parents,  they will simply say, “Let me know when you are ready to join us or if you change your mind about your treat.” 
  3. Then mom and dad will tune you out and not react to your fit so that you learn to regulate your emotions on your own.

Ahhhh isn’t life with children so sweet?

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.

 

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.

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.