Parent Coaching Blog

Aug
8

Taking Care of Your Tiny Humans…

It’s hard to instill a moral compass in our kids’ lives when we follow what the world values.  And what does the world value?

Humans Having….. or …. Humans Being?
Having Lots of Friends …or… Being a Friend to Many?
Having the Championship Trophy… or… Being a Good Sport?
Having the next Best Thing…or… Being Satisfied with what you have?
Having Access to the Best Cars, Schools,  & Sports Trainers or Being a Life Long Learner?

When raising your little humans, pay attention to what you really desire for your child’s future… Do you want them to be Humans Having or Humans Being?  It is so easy to fall into line with what the world is telling you to value.

All the other moms are signing their kids up for soccer at 3 years old…All the other families are working like dogs so they can have fancy cars and fancy homes… All the other families are putting their kids into specialized camps to increase their academic and sports skills.

Make sure your personal values come first not the world’s values and design your parenting goals around what matters most to you and your family…

If cars and houses and trophies and elite schools and camps are what you value then so be it.

BUT if a moral compass is what you want for your children,  then you have to focus your family on making good choices.  They have to  understand that less can be more, tiny teachable moments happen all day long, and  friendship skills and good sportsmanship can lead to a fun filled social life.

These lessons are all your child needs to have a valueable human life.

Feb
16

You’re Hired!

youre hired

In one of my latest one on one coaching sessions, we were dealing with a little guy who wanted lots of attention and power around his house. Mom and dad were feeding the attention that was negative and it kept repeating until they shifted their attention on catching him being good. Yeah!!! Mom and Dad!!! Action plan one accomplished.

However…

They were still struggling with behaviors and it usually showed up when they were busy doing their mom and dad “work”… He wanted attention and they were too busy working around the house to give it to him. We decided that this little guy was like his mom and dad in many ways including his need to stay busy and feel purpose… So we Hired him!

We’ve all been there… Your child wants your attention and you are have a “laundry list” of things that you HAVE to get done. Kids love work and these moments are the best chance you can get to kill two birds with one stone. Involve your child in your work. They will get the attention and purpose they crave and they may even learn a few new skills along the way.

Remember these tips when doling out work:

You have to make the work involve choice where the child get’s to choose what they do.

Do you want to shred mommy’s mail after I go through it?
Do you want to be my delivery boy and walk all the laundry to the bedrooms?

He might say neither, so you can say, “I am doing my mommy work and if you would like to come up with another way to help me let me know. Otherwise, I will let you know when I am done so we can do something together.” Then get busy doing a little more of your work. Maybe he will come towards you and you can say, “Are you ready to choose something to do to help or do you just want to be near me?” If he stays near you involve him in your thought process or engage with him while you work.

You can’t expect him to wait forever… Chunk your work so you can take a pausing break in the middle and try to reconnect offering him another job or taking five minutes to connect (read a book, play a little legos, help him set up a race track).

Make sure not to be too critical or expect perfection. They will do work that mirrors their skill and developmental level of understanding. Know that with each new job experience they will make little bits of progress but this will not happen overnight.

Make sure to add in the positive specialized attention time too, to balance out their need to play and work…

Make the work pretend or silly and you will be more likely to get a positive response from your child.

Giving kids mini jobs really helps them in their search for purpose and attention and power. They get to control their day a little and act like a big person who is important and needed, and you get a chance to give them positive feedback on how they are doing.

Dec
24

A Constant Mess…

A friend of ours is a writer.  He is doing a piece on Love and asked Toby and I to contribute our own perspectives on: What is Love?  Getting this question posed to us at this season of Christmas has been a true blessing because it has allowed us to see the connections between the love we have as parents and the love shown by God at Christmas.  So here goes my shot at the question… summing it up in two main truths.

LOVE IS… Saying Yes to the Mess

Do you remember the Velveteen Rabbit?  When the worn and torn up plush bunny realizes that being loved means being a little shabby.  Well, in the story of Christmas, God shows up with Love in Hand the shabbiest of places.  He chooses a simple young girl to be his vessel to house His Saving Son.  This child arrives into a sticky and messy situation with a confused husband-to-be and questions all around.  And of course that manger scene… It couldn’t be more messy.   All these things were God’s version of true love.  It was one giant mess of a situation, but Mary said YES to it.   I wonder sometimes: How did she do it? She must have turned her focus on the little bundle of LOVE that sat right smack dab in the middle of it in order to get through.  She did not focus on the dirt and the crowded stable, she had to focus on what mattered most and that was the LOVE and her faith in God’s support along the way.

Raising children is a messy business.  Sticky table tops, crunched up pieces of cookie on the floor of your car.  Just think about what your Christmas morning living room will look like… not to mention all the messy sibling squabbles you are going to have to deal with over the next few weeks of break and what about all the sick kids at your house…

OH THE MESS!!!

But here’s the deal:  You’ve said YES to all this.  You’ve made the choice to enter into the messiest of lives and if you can do it with joy and peace and understanding it can be the greatest version of love.  Hang tight through the mess letting it go a little.   Try focussing on the love that sits right smack dab in the middle of it… and keep in mind they are growing and learning and need your support along the way.

LOVE IS …  A Constant that cannot be undone

Just like the Veleteen Rabbit learned once your real you will always be real.  Once Love shows up it does not shift or change.  God again shows us this through Christmas.  There is no give and take of HIS love… it is all give and we continue to be the recipient of this love year after year  no matter what… NO MATTER WHAT!   That little phrase means so much and helps to show LOVE in that steady constant stream that does not ebb or flow with negative or positive emotion but stays the course and never ends.  

This kind of love is the same we have for our own children.  Yes of course there are behaviors and situations surrounding our children that we cannot stand but the LOVE part… it stays steady.  You cannot change it.  It isn’t an emotion that runs high or low depending on the moment.  It is long living, never changing and just there… NO MATTER WHAT.  Knowing this helps us keep our emotions at bay and helps us to deal more matter of factly with the ups and downs that come our way.

So that’s it…Love is a Constant and Love is a Mess…

You might be saying… “Love is a Constant Mess”.

I say, “I’ll take it!”

Although things will shift from toddlers with sticky fingers to teen-agers with sticky situations the mess goes on.   I will keep steady keeping my emotions in check and knowing that I love them no matter what  just as God has shown me His LOVE through the gifts of Christmas that go on and on.

Through my family’s growing years, my house will not be perfectly clean, my bank account will not be overflowing, and my nights will be a little more sleepless.   These things shall pass and I will survive.   But the steady stream of LOVE and LEARNING that we pass on to our children will go on and on reaching into the far depths of our family’s future.

Know that Child in Bloom is constantly here to help you as you work through your family’s growing years.  Don’t go it alone… contact Child in Bloom to get the support you need and make the most of your mess 🙂

 

 

Jul
17

Talk Talk

Too Much TalkingWe spend so much time talking to our kids.

 

Lecturing them about why bonking their brother over the head with a block is not a good idea.
Debating with them about whether 8:00 PM  is too late for another snack.
Giving them a spiel on how to be polite at Grandma’s house
Completing a discourse on how to make a bed
Barking Commands
Shouting Directions
Reciting the Golden Rules of our home

When all is said and done,  parents can  feel like they are talking in circles and going nowhere fast…

Children can easily get lost in all the language that comes at them, and
odds are, you are losing them  after the first few words or statements.

So, if you need to catch  your child’s attention and do it quickly (within the first few seconds of communicating with them),   keep it simple, direct and clear.   This is especially true if you are in the heat of a power struggle with your child.  Keep your words short and clear.    Your phrases should be key phrases that you use regularly and you should repeat them a few times in order to get their attention instead of going on and on in lecture format.

Here’s a quick example of WHAT NOT TO DO…
Tommy!!,  what are you doing?  Don’t  hit  the doggie on the head.  Be nice to the doggie and pat her on the head nicely like this or stay away from the doggie and go play with your toys. 

If we really need to get our point across without a lot of words and emotion, then
try to bring it down to a more direct approach like this:

No No Hit the Doggy
Yes Yes Love  the Doggy
Yes Yes Pat the Doggy (gesturing gentle patting)
No  No Hit the Doggy

Make sure to repeat the same phrase and actions every time that situation arises again.   If you repeat the same phrase every time it happens,  your quick key phrases will become  THE STANDARD, the predictable routine, and your “policy” for the situation.  Your child will come to count on these phrases as cues, and at one point, they may even begin to say it back to you before the words leave your mouth.

When you are dealing with schedules and routines, you can use the same kind of simple phrases and avoid the long drawn out dissertation that describes your schedule.

Here’s a common example of WHAT NOT TO DO:
After you eat your breakfast and put your clothes on, we are going to go to Grandma’s house, but first ,we will drive by daddy’s office and drop off something for daddy.  At Grandma’s house we are going to go swimming and have fun.

Try this approach instead and add simple images drawn on  a scrap piece of paper for even better communication.
First Breakfast (with image of #1 and breakfast foods)
Second Get Ready (with image of #2 and kids getting ready)
Third Drive to Daddy’s Office ( with image of #3 and card driving to Daddy’s office)
Then GRANDAMA’s to go SWIMMING
!  Yeahhh FUN FUN FUN ( with image of #4 and grandma’s house)

This may seem like a cold and simple minded communication style approach, and you may worry that it won’t help foster language skills in your child, but I have found that the opposite is true.  When a child can clearly hear you and clue in to what you are talking about (even the brightest child), they can successfully maneuever through their day in more positive ways.  In turn, this  will open up more opportunity for positive language interactions with them as you read books, share stories with description and help them describe their emotions.   This is not how you will talk to them all day long.  You will  just use this style  when it is important that they listen.

Here’s one more thing to consider…
Support your simple phrases with “EXTRAS”.

-change in voice tone and inflection to catch their attention
– simple visuals (like pictures of routines or how they should act),
-repetition,
-rhyming,
-gestures,
-sing song tones

Add all of these things so you can avoid adding… MORE WORDS!

Jun
17

No More Why?

 

Stop asking Why
and Start asking What

Your 10 year old crashed her bike into your new car.
Your toddler threw his toy at the puppy.
Your son whacked his sister over the head with his toy train.
And you say…
“Why in the world did you do that?”

This question assumes your child was thinking, and odds are there was no thinking going on at all.

We use this phrase to get more information but all we end up getting is more headache.   I guess we assume this phrase will cut the perpetrator some slack, let him have his chance to tell his side of the story, or help him come up with a good excuse for being nasty.  By opening up the conversation with questions about the child’s “thought process”, we set ourselves an emotional debate.

 

Let’s think this through…
Is it debateable that his brother deserved a whack over the head?  Maybe.
BUT  if we stick to the WHAT we can focus on the behavior and not the emotions that caused the behavior.
Simply put… WE DONT HIT… even if our brother annoys us.
There is no need for you to focus on:WHY he did it.

If we really want to know why they did it,  simply ask more WHAT questions instead of delving into the WHY. The WHAT questions will yield more of the info you need as they help you gather the facts.

Start with these FACT collecting questions :
WHAT HAPPENED (to your brother, to the car, to the puppy)?
WHAT HAPPENED FIRST, SECOND, THIRD?
WHAT happened just before?
WHAT happened just after?
WHAT were you feeling just before?
WHAT were you felling just after?
WHAT else could you have done when you feel ______?
WHAT are the house rules?
WHAT can you do to show you are sorry?
WHAT are you going to do next time?

WHY questions lead to excuses, emotions, tattling, debate, finger pointing and zero resolution of behavior.  They also lead to waaay too much conversation and we lose our children in the language.  Parents and children may end up fussing and screaming at each other and a second layer of yuck enters the scene.

When you stick to the  WHAT questions it helps the parents work through this without getting accusatory and emotional.  They stay matter of fact:

“I love you I can’t stand what you did”  (to your brother, the car, the puppy).

It also allows parents a chance to actually hear the child and may help you pause enough to give all sides and perspectives of the story.  The WHAT questions lead to the facts,  the problems, the solutions, the alternatives, and they help our kids learn to rewind, restart and regulate their choices which might help them when this situation arises again.  And unfortunately we all know it will arise again.   Remember their growing and so are we…

 

Feb
24

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

Oct
24

Caution Don’t Feed the Monsters

feed the monsterDo you have monster-like-behavior lurking in your house?  Whining, Screaming, gnawing at your emotions and patience?  Like any monster, in order to survive, this behavior has to be fed a daily dose of sustenance.  What are your giving to your child’s behavior that helps it survive?  Is it a dollop of good old fashioned attention that feeds the wild beast? Is it your emotional reaction that this behavior gobbles down and then begs for more?  Is it conversation and debate that helps this behavior linger around your dinner table a little longer?

How do we put an end to the monster behaviors and replace them with civilized, well mannered, regulated princes and princesses?
First:  In order to put an end to the monster we need to name it… I don’t mean calling it Godzilla, King Kong, or Snufflelufogus… We just need to say what it is: biting, pushing, talking back, arguing, tantrumming, or refusal to do something.  If we don’t name it we can’t get rid of it.
Second:  Once your monster has a name, you need to go on the search for this behavior around your house and throughout your day… This is a bold and scary step, but you can’t take care of a monster until you know where or when it shows up and find the patterns to the behavior… So be on the look out for monster behavior hiding in the shadows of your day.
Third:   When you see the monster stop feeding it.  That means stop talking so much, stop the back and forth tug of war which Monsters love to compete in, stop reacting to the monster with shrugs, screams or emotional breakdowns.   Monsters can only survive when you feed them.   Start to be aware of how you as the parents might be contributing to the life of the behavior.
Fourth:  Visualize peace in your kingdom and decide what you would like to replace the monster behavior with… sharing, caring, using words or kind actions and then train your monster on how to replace the yucky behavior with more appropriate behavior.   What would you like to see more of? And how can you teach them how to do it right?
Fifth: When a little prince or princess shows up feed them with positive reinforcement.  Let your kids know that you would like to see more of the positive behaviors in your kingdom and do this by saying a quick, “I noticed….” sentence.

Follow these steps and you will begin to turn this scary script into a fairy tale.

Quick Tips for Monster Slayers!
Give them the tools and practice they need to learn to take a break and melt away their Monster emotions.
Lay out the procedures for what will happen when they just can’t pull it together (will they take a break, take a loss or take a timed out?)
Preview that monster behaviors are zero tolerance : no hurting, no fussing, no disrespect
Remind them that nice gets nice and nasty gets nothing: no attention, no emotion, no drama
Give them chances to rewind and say something or do something in a more royal fashion…
Give them opportunities to take a break and rejoin the social scene when they are ready to be nice.
Take a break yourself when you need it and pause before you enter into the Monster’s territory.
Walk away and tell them to let you know when they’re ready to make a better choice… don’t engage a monster!!!
Take yourself out of the storyline… Let them be the character in this show so that they can be in charge of how it ends…

Make a vow to stop feeding the monsters in your house and you will find that your home is filled with waaaaay  more treats and a lot less tricks!


Oct
8

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.

Sep
3

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

Sep
3

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.