Get a Handle on Technology in your Family Life

When you look through your child’s Holiday Wish List, do you see mostly technology toys?
DVD’s
Video Games
Gaming Systems
Tablets
Laptops
Phones
itunes gift cards
Cameras
Adding in more technology may end up subtracting more from your family time. Don’t let technology rob your family of crucial teachable, positive growth moments that involve people to people connections?

KEEP THESE THINGS IN MIND

Parents Need to Model Moderate Tech Time
Avoid being on your smart phone constantly. This includes: texting and constantly connecting to social media (Facebook or instagram) and looking things up when your child is around.
Avoid being on your phone at transition times within your day (for example: at pick up or drop off from school, dinner time or bed time)
Just be present. BE THERE with your child… eye to eye, ready to hear them and connect to what they need from you. Give them the attention they crave so they don’t seek attention in negative or inappropriate ways… this goes for ALL KIDS ALL AGES (especially teens… They STILL need you)
Compartmentalize your time on tech and put a solid boundary on when you yourself are on it. Let no email, phone ringtone or text beep interrupt your conversations with your child. It can wait!! This is crucial to modeling that technology is not allowed to rule the house and that parents won’t choose tech over personal relationships!
Fill Your Home and Their Life with “Anti-Tech” Options... so they are less likely to rely on technology to entertain their brain.

Are you stuck on what to buy beyond tech? Take your child to the gift shops at local museums (Cincinnati Museum Center, Art Museum, Cincinnati Nature Center) and see all the really cool toys, books and gifts they have to offer. Take note of the things that your child is interested in make sure these things fill the space under the tree on Christmas morning.
Follow their tech lead... If they love to play doll dress up games on their iPad then buy them a real life doll with lots of real life buttons and snaps and crazy outfits to keep their little hands busy and their minds creating. If they like games like Mind Craft then buy them architecture sets or real life mini tools to build things… Kids brains cannot truly bloom on tech experiences. To really grow in knowledge and skills they have to touch, feel, and move their bodies while they learn.
Limit tech time in general by limiting tech experiences when you are out and about… Children DO NOT need to be watching tv everytime they sit their tush in their car seat. They SHOULD NOT be playing on your phone every time you sit down to dinner at a restaurant. Going through the grocery store SHOULD NOT be a “total tech” experience for your child as they get sucked into games on your phone. We should use these mini parts of their day as opportunities to teach patience, creative play, and engagement with their world and the people in their family. Save tech time for a small portion of your day not as the GO TO option in all situations. If you have never tried taking your child out and about without the phone to keep them busy this will be very tough at first, but hang in there as you and your child get more practice you will begin to see them grow.

Monitor your Child’s Tech Experiences
Parents need to be consistently checking in on their tweens and teens as they open themselves up to more texting and social media.
It is not an invasion of privacy to read through your child’s phone and get a heads up on what the chatter is about… look for signs of cyber bullying, inappropriate language (from your child or their friends) and apps that encourage connections with strangers and inappropriate content.
Don’t freak out or harp on what you find just slip the things you want them to know into your next teachable moment or crucial conversation. We want to build open conversations with our kids about the realities of the tech world they live in. It is here to stay and it is our job to teach them the boundaries around it.
Find out as much as you can about the new apps that are coming out daily… use websites like www.awiredfamily.org or www.aplatformforgood.org or The Big Disconnect

 

If you are worried that your child is spending too much time on tech they most likely are. Think real life first and use tech as a LAST RESORT!!!

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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 🙂

 

 

The Big Little Moments of our Day

Why is it that smallest parts of our day lead to the BIGGEST MELTDOWNS?

Moving from bed to getting dressed
Moving from breakfast to packing up back packs
Moving from car to preschool drop off
Moving from tv off to homework time
Moving from playtime in the backyard to dinner….

Where is your BIGGEST MELTDOWN?
It is very likely that it is happening in the time between events or the TRANSITIONS.

These little moments should be short lived.
Yet, they tend to be the sticking points where kids put up a fight & whittle your time away.
If you find yourself taking too much time correcting behaviors between events in your day, transition issues is probably the culprit.

Here are some quick transition tips to make them positive, teachable moments….
Within in each transition:
-Pause 
Before you head into the next event. 
-Review 
the previous scene (positively and negatively)
“Even though you were upset last night before bed, you fell asleep and slept all night!”
-Connect 
to your child (hug, pat on the back, listening ear)
“Can I snuggle a little in your bed with you before you have to get up?”
-Preview 
(setting up the agenda, expectations and boundaries)
“Okay, we are going to head to breakfast…
I will work on getting it ready and you will work on getting your clothes on and be at the table by the time the food is ready…”
“Remember my car is leaving at 8:30 so if you are not ready for school you will come as you are… clothes or no clothes, breakfast or no breakfast”

Other pointers… 

-Remind them that you’ve seen them succeed before
“I was so excited to see you come down the stairs yesterday just as I was putting your oatmeal on the table… You are really getting good at this”

-Give Grace for Choice and Space (NO HOVERING)
“You will need a short sleeve shirt and a long pants… you choose something that fits those rules or I can choose for you”
“I wonder if you will meet me at the top of the stairs when you are ready or surprise me at the kitchen table when I least expect it”
“I will head downstairs and not bother you while you make your choice and do your job”
Always give a “you do this______while I do _______” statement to help you avoid too much mommy controlling/lingering/hovering

-Preview the Agenda ahead… first we will___, second____, third___
-Use visuals to lay out the storyline/agenda/rules/checklist of items to do
-Use simple/less language and more clear cue words
First Clothes, Second Meet me at the Table, Third pack up to go
-Avoid Please?, Okay?, or Yes/No questions.  They make kids think that all this is optional
-Positives Positives Positives... avoid too much gushy positive just simple I noticed statements
-Offer a well placed HELP or a well placed YES these are special because you are helping or saying yes with something you usually say no to
Can I help you do that today because I know you are running a little behind (this makes your help special and not all the time)
Mom can I have an extra cup of juice this morning… YES I know how fast you were running around to get ready so quickly
-Add fun and excitement to the transition: 
music on the radio in the kitchen as we clean up our plates
racing to the top of the stairs like bunny rabbits
counting off like a rocket ship as you buckle them into their seat belts and head on your way

WOW! That’s a lot of stuff to jam pack into a tiny little transition time!
So just try one new thing from this list of ideas.  Add it in consistently before adding in another idea.
Soon your transitions will run much more smoothly and you will avoid wasting all that time coaxing them from one event to the next.

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!

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.

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…

 

How to Have A Child in Bloom

carrot seedHow to Have a Child in Bloom

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Step Up your Time Out Strategies

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

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

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

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

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

I really can’t say this enough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Avoid the Noid…

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

Surviving Family Parties

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

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!


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.

Goodbye to Good Job and Way to Go

I want to be clear that using the praise phrases listed on this chart are a great start, but they’re simply not enough.
NOT ENOUGH? NOT ENOUGH? How can that be…?
What about all those trophies they’ve received?
What about all those times I’ve bought them a treat?
What about all those times I’ve told them how terrific they are?

Praising you kids is important. It’s just that most praise statements are waytoo general. If we want the praise to be effective, we need to be clear and specific about how we praise.

When we praise, we usually do so in order to change behaviors. If this is our plan, then we need to connect the praise to what they are doing or how they have specifically shown growth.

Here are some examples of how you can shift your praise from general to specific…

Instead of “Wow!” you could add, “You tied your shoes all by yourself and no one told you to do it.”
Instead of “You’re the best!” you could add, “You did your best to include your brother when your friend came over.”
Instead of saying “You did a fantastic job,” you could add, “I saw that you cleaned up all the big stuff first and then you went around your room and gathered all the little things.”
Instead of saying, “You are a real trooper,” you could add, “I know it was hard to wait for mommy to get off the phone, but you waited on the couch quietly and you didn’t interrupt.”

Adding specifics to your praise statements makes them concrete, relevant and meaningful. It gives your child proof that you have paid attention, and they will be more likely to do things to repeat this kind of positive attention in the future.

One simple praise statement that goes a long way is… “I’ve noticed… ” If you add a specific positive comment after this simple phrase you can begin to let your child know you are watching and paying attention to the good choices they are trying to make. Try to add in a few more specific praise statements into your day and watch the good choices increase.
They don’t need trophies, awards, special treats, or meaningless praise statements.
They just need you to be specific about how their behavior matches your expectations.

Play it Safe

Your number one house rule should be “We are Safe”. This is the one way to make sure that no one gets hurt or humiliated. This means that adults will not hurt or humiliate a child and children will follow suit. It also means that they will make choices that are safe.

Of course being safe means being in control of our bodies, our words, and our choices. Parents get to be the guardians of what is safe and unsafe and they have to stick to this number one rule as they practice a zero tolerance approach to dangerous play, unsafe decisions or harmful behavior.

Think about the things around your house and the routines in your daily schedule as you decide upon safety standards that will support this number one rule.

Use key words to show you mean what you say…” Danger!” is a great quick phrase that can let even the littlest child know that they are nearing an unsafe zone. Change the tone of your voice when you say this phrase so they can tell you mean it. Get down on their level and point to the danger item as you redirect them to another safer choice. Give them an alternate behavior to take the place of the dangerous choice.
Here is an example of what you might say…”No jumping on the couch. Danger! We can sit or lay on the couch, but we cannot jump on the couch. If we want to jump we can jump on the pile of pillows on the floor. ” Here is how we could say this same statement to an even younger child in a more clear and succinct way, “Danger! No Jump on Couch. No No. We can sit. We can lay. But no Jump. Jump on Pillows. Yes Yes. “

Practice makes perfect, so you might have to demo or role play how to play and be safe. Tell them the story of what could happen if they were unsafe. Talk to your child outside of the moment about these things because having an in depth conversation in the heat of the activity will most likely be unsuccessful.

Break It Down

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

Who Tells The Stories

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

A Processing Pause

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

Flexible Perspective

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

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.

How Do We Teach Self Control

“Teach your child to show strength by self control, not by controlling others” —-John Taylor PH.D and author of From Defiance to Cooperation
How do we teach self control?
Discuss choice making…. Positive and Negative
Acknowledge positive choices and self control when you see them
… Give tools for self control like: a chance to rewind or a chance to take a break
Model using these tools as the parent saying ” I think I want to rewind and say this again in a calmer voice” or ” I am going to take a break before I talk to you about this…”

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;)

Teach your child to take a look at themselves…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allow your child a chance to look at their progress.

 

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

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

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

They could do this self assessment through:

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

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

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

           “I took turns when I…” 

           “I did not take turns when I…” 

           “My friend took turns when she…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you feel like a Mommy Monster?

 

We all have an inner Mommy Monster lurking within us. 

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

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

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

Here are some quick tips for taming your Mommy Monster…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rule of Thumb When Making Rules…

                              

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

 

LET CHILDREN KNOW WHAT IS EXPECTED

  First, State the positive expectations…. 

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

   Be Nice   Be Helpful    Be Honest   Be Gentle   Be in Control

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

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

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

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

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

 

LET CHILDREN KNOW WHAT IS NOT ALLOWED

 “Zero in” on Zero Tolerance Behaviors

No Fussing      No Fighting      No Hurting     No Whining    No Lying

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

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

 

GIVE YOUR CHILD TOOLS TO HELP THEM REGULATE BEHAVIOR

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

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

Remind them that… Nice gets nice and Nasty gets nothing

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

 

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

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

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

 

The child gets the chance to succeed on his own!  

 

The child gets the chance to stay  and play.

 

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

 

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

                            

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?

A Pin-prick of Progress

            When parents ask me to step in as they try to make a change in their child’s behavior, I often say that things will probably get worse before they get better.   In other words, you might see your child’s behavior escalate as they try to wriggle out of your new set of boundaries.  Your child may test you to your last drop of energy so that they can ensure you really mean what you say.  

        When you are trying to make a change in your child’s behavior, your days can be dark and dismal, and it can be difficult to find the light at the end of the tunnel.  You might wonder if these horribly explosive behaviors will follow your child into their teenage years and end up wrecking your family.  These frustrations may make you want to quit before you even begin to make a difference, but I say, “Hang on and zone into the smallest moments of growth”.

       It is essential in the midst of this kind of turmoil for parents to identify the smallest, pin prick of light or growth when they see it in their child’s behavior. 

     If all day they have tested you, but for one short second, you witness an act of kindness you have to nab the moment and call it like you see it… “I noticed  when I asked you to get your coat on, you listened on the first time.” “I noticed you allowed your little brother to sit beside you while you played with your trains.”  “I noticed that earlier today, you didn’t cry when it was time to leave the park.” In the midst of a crazy day it can be so easy to overlook these small moments of success because they are out numbered by bad choices and because frankly, the bad choices are usually noisier and more apt to catch your attention.        

        So force yourself to be on the lookout for these shining moments (even if they seem to be the smallest deed or action).  I believe that the more you see and recognize their good choices, the more these positive behaviors will repeat themselves. 

        Eventually you might have trouble finding a bad choice in your child’s day because the good choices will shine so brightly.  Wouldn’t that be a wonderful problem to have?

Is Discipline a Four Letter Word ?

Discipline doesn’t have to be a dirty word in your home.  In fact, when you think about it, there are several positive four-letter words associated with discipline.

1. NEED   Children don’t know they need discipline, and they may not act like they enjoy your boundaries especially when you are in the heat of a battle, but the right kind of discipline involving structure, routines and expectations gives a child a clear path to follow.  

How can a child begin to do what is expected in his home if the guidelines of his family life are fuzzy?  How can a child know his responsibilities around the home unless these jobs and roles have been thought through and explained to him?  How can a child know not to make bad choices if he doesn’t know the clear implications of the choices.  Children NEED discipline to understand their world and their place within it.

2. SAFE   When children know what their days will bring, they feel safe.  They know they can count on Mom or Dad to follow through on what they say (good or bad), and that makes them feel secure.  Sure, the negative consequences of making a bad choice can make a child feel like they are suffering, but this kind of suffering helps to instill a boundary on what they can and cannot do.  They feel safe in knowing that every time they make a specific choice an identified consequence will follow.  There will be no room for question, no room for worry, and only a clear understanding of expectations and boundaries.  Their little world will feel predictable and SAFE.

3. LOVE   Yes, you can love your child and at the same time and put boundaries on their behavior.  When you shape your parenting with structure, you are giving your child what they need to be safe.   Giving them these two gifts will make them feel loved.   It is not a love that is conditional on behavior but one that is rooted in understanding of what is best for them.  This kind of love does not change. It stays the same and so does the behavior expectation.  They can trust it and feeling safe in these expectations makes them feel loved.   You can help ensure that they know they are loved no matter what by letting them know that you love them even when you don’t love their choices.

So, now that we see that discipline is an essential part of any good parenting practice, think about where you can add structure and secure boundaries to your child’s life?

Do you have a plan for how your children should act at the dinner table? Does your child know the list of rules for behavior when friends come to visit?  Have you clearly stated the general guidelines for being polite, responsible and caring individuals?   When you go to a new place do you set up “on the spot” boundaries for behavior?

What routine in your day needs a little more discipline or structure?

 Go through each part of your day (from breakfast to bedtime), and think through your expectations on how these routines will run.   

Make a list of expected behaviors and go through them with your child over and over again until they become a part of their thought process for this routine.

Make your expectations crystal clear by actively role playing the postive behavior you expect, verbally expressing what you would like to see, and then visually drawing out the plan for behavior using charts and pictures. 

Soon you will see them make choices based on these plans you have set forth, and if you follow through with clear consequences then your child will stear clear of negative choices and head toward the positive ones. 

In the end, you will have created  “mini -disciples” that follow your family’s plan for behavior.   As disciples of your family’s plan, they will gain everything they need to feel safe and loved. 

Family Game Night

      Hurry !  Before the rush of back to school events begins to take over your calendar, plan a weekly game night.  Book it on your calendar. Then, turn off the tv and video games, put away your phone or IPAD, and leave the dirty dishes in the sink.  Meet your family at the kitchen table or some cozy spot around your house and play an old favorite. 

       Even your littlest ones can join in on a more advanced game if you choose a game where they can have a job to do or a modified version made just for them.   Allow yourself to bend the rules, and make the game fit your family’s style, time frame, and specific needs and interests.  Let the kids get creative and allow them to add new rules to the game.  This can mean simply tweaking the smallest procedure or objective so that you get to play it with a new spin, and the kids get to feel like they are in charge of the fun.

      If you meet weekly for your family game night, allow a different family member to pick the game for next week and book it on the calendar so it is “planned in stone”.  If you’re consistent your kids won’t worry that they haven’t had a chance to choose the game because they will know their turn is right around the corner. 

        While you play together, keep your eyes open so that you can see new skills you didn’t know your child had… (Maybe that third grader is an aspiring banker, or maybe your preschooler has fine motor skills that help him succeed at building great Mouse Traps).  Let them see you relax and focus on them while you smile and engage in the fun.

        While you play, observe their behavior.  Catch them when they are acting respectfully  or when they have followed directions.  Be specific and note exactly what you see that is positive.  For example:  “Kerry, I noticed you asked your brother if you could help him move his game piece when it was out of his reach,” or “Tim, when you found out that Mark was the winner of the game I noticed that you were upset but you didn’t yell or scream you just said, ‘good game’.”  Tell them you noticed their good sportsmanship and polite behavior, and then watch them try to repeat the positive behavior over and over again. 

      When it comes to winning or losing,  allow them to suffer through the losses naturally so that they learn it is a part of life.  Set boundaries from the beginning for sportsmanship and consequences for the inevitable fussing, hurting or quitting.  Write these boundaries/rules or consequences on paper or draw a picture to depict what will happen when kids don’t make good choices.  When and if the those negative behaviors come up simply point and state…”The rules say ‘no fussing or you will lose a point’.”

   And by the way, it doesn’t have to be a board game … What about a game of freeze tag or capture the flag in the backyard on these crisp end of summer nights?  What about making up a new game with the gigantic blow up ball your kindergartener got for his birthday?  The only rules are family and fun…   

     Soon enough your schedule will be booked with homework, parent teacher conferences, and holiday plans so make a date weekly to connect on a positive level with your children.  Use these moments with your children as “parent-able moments” where you show your child how to play nicely and let them see that your family knows how to relax and have fun together… Make it a Game Night tonight…

Cute doesn’t Cut it…

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

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

I say simply… CUTE doesn’t CUT it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Honest Truth about sibling emotions…

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

+ The “Positive” Parent

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

-The “Negative” Parent

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

“The Child in Bloom” Parent

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

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

 

Your Parenting Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sibling Paradox

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

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

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

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

So many ways to say you’re sorry…

Even as adults it can be difficult to say those three little words… “I am sorry.”

When it comes to siblings who have a built in competitive nature it can be down right impossible to form those words on their lips.  Even when Mom and Dad , threaten to take dessert away for weeks,  the child in question can hold on without apology and overlook the promise of an ice cream sundae after dinner(in an effort to save face).  He knows what he did was wrong he just can’t give his sister the pleasure of knowing he made a bad choice.   It becomes a control situation, and no matter what, he will not budge.

When this happens parents can give their child a fresh perspective.  By making a list of the options they have in terms of apologizing, we can give them the control they desire and options that will make them feel safe as they step out on a limb and admit they made a mistake…

Together with your family take some time during the day (when everything is peaceful around your home), and make a list of all the different ways you can say your sorry.  Chime in with ways you have said you are sorry through actions or other words in your own life.  Let them know that it can be hard for adults to say sorry, too, but it is something that has to be done.  Let them come up with creative ways to say they are sorry to friends or siblings.  When the time comes (And we know that time could be anytime soon, especially during the summer months when siblings spend lots of time together) they can refer to the list and choose the way that makes them feel most comfortable.

Here are a few ideas to get your family’s list started…

1.  shake hands

2. smile and nod

3. write a note

4. give a gift

5. make up for what you did

6. pat the person on the back

7. help their sibling’s “boo boo” feel better

8. ask what you can do to help them feel better

9. tell a joke

10.  make a picture

11. Say it in a different way:   ” I shouldn’t have done that.”  “I wish I could take it back.”  “I feel bad about what I did.” “I did not want to hurt you.”  “I’m not going to do that again.”

The list can go on and on and can be determined based on what feels natural in your family.  When you use this list of options regularly it can allow the power struggle to go away and peace to re-enter the sibling relationship again.  In fact, the next time you or your husband have to say you’re sorry to someone, you might want to steal an idea from the list of options.

There is No “I” in Parent

There is no I in PARENT…

 

When you are talking to your child about their behavior, try to avoid the following  “I” statements…

I don’t like it when you scream in my face.”

I am going to take away a toy.”

I want you to make a good choice.”

I am going to put you in timeout.”

All of these statements put you (the parent) in the driver’s seat.  You will spend your day regulating their behavior instead of encouraging them to be in control of their choices.  We want them to recognize the benefits of their good behavior; the ways that good choices influence their lives for the better.  So next time you find yourself in a tug of war with your child try statements that give the ownership back to them like these:

“When you scream in my face you are telling me that you are too angry to a make a good choice.  Take a break and come back when you are ready to talk nicely without screaming.” (The child should find a spot to cool down and take enough time to get their anger under control.  They should return on their own time but only when they are ready to talk nicely without screaming)

“When you play with your toys too roughly, you are telling me that you aren’t taking care of them and you need a break from the toy.” (The child will have to put the toy in a break because they did not play nicely with it.  The point is they caused it to be taken away and they can also cause it to stay put if they turn their behavior around).

“If you make a good choice you can stay at the park. If you do not you will have to go home.  I bet you can make a good choice that will turn your day around.” (The choices they make affect their day.  When we act “non affected” by their choices then it is the child’s problem to turn it around so they can get the positive consequence they desire).

Once we take the “I” out of the discussion with our children, they have to take the behavior on themselves and not wait for us to reprimand and deliver consequences. It becomes their problem to fix, not ours.  When we allow them to have the power to change their own behavior, we have helped them to see that they can control their responses and therefore control their day.  By taking ourselves out of the equation it allows us to be less emotional about the choices they make. 

Then the only “I”statements you will have to make will be positive reinforcement statements like these:

I am proud of you.”

I love you.”

I knew you could do it.”

I noticed you turned your day around.”

I caught you making a good choice.”

I like how you are playing nicely with your toys.”

Obviously all this is easier said then done.  Here are some quick steps to better parenting…

1.Start out by paying attention to your responses to your child’s behavior.

  2.Begin to put them in the drivers seat when it comes to regulating their behavior.        

3.Choose positive reinforcing “I” statements that let them know you have faith that they can turn their day around on their own.

 Give it a try!  I know you can do this!

Message for Moms

It is your day!

Celebrate… Acknowledge…Forgive…Remember

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

Celebrate by finding your own inner kid…

 Laugh !  Leap !  and  Learn! with your children.

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

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

Forgive yourself for the mistakes of last week.

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

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

Remember that you are not alone!

Remember that these crazy days soon will pass.

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

Celebrate!  Acknowledge! Forgive! Remember!

Laugh! Leap! Learn and Love!

It’s your day!

Say “Tootles” to Tattling

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

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

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

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

Here’s a typical tattling scenario: 

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

What if the scenario went a different way:    

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

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

Here are some steps to make it a success: 

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

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

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

Toot your child’s horn today!

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

 

Rules Rules Rules…

Rules for your city

Rules for your church

Rules for your library

Rules for a classroom

Rules for a school

Rules for eating

Rules for traveling in a car

Rules for riding a bike

Rules for…

The list of rules in our world could go on and on, but the rule of thumb is that every part of our day runs smoothly when there are expectations set up in advance and when everyone knows what is going on.

What if a library did not set up rules to govern how we borrow and return books?  What if once we get food was on the table there were no rules that labeled how and where you were suppose to eat it?  What if when driving in our car we did not clearly know the rules of the road?  There could be utter chaos, no one would feel safe and there would be no order.

The same chaos and mess could end up taking over your home if you do not begin to take a step in the right direction and devise a list of your house rules…

If using the word rules bothers you then simply call them systems, expectations, boundaries or your house motto.

Start with what you expect.  These should be the three basic over arching goals for behavior such as: be nice, be a good listener, and be honest.   You should then detail what this does and doesn’t look like. Next you should identify a system as to how these rules will be followed and how mom’s and dad’s responses will try to increase positive behavior and decrease negative behavior.  

Give your child a clear list of zero tolerance behaviors including basic statements that cover a lot of territory…

There will be no: hurting, fussing, or fighting

Then give them tools to work through the inevitable mess ups… 1. Allow them to rewind when they feel like they want to retell something in a nicer way, or when they want to redo an action or word that came our of their mouth.  2.  Tell them that taking a break and coming back ready to make good choices is what adults do all the time when they say things like… “I will be taking a quick walk and then I will be right back to talk this through”.  Let them know it is a possible way to help them get their behavior back on track. 3.  Alternative ways to solve the problem.  If you are fighting over homework, allow the child to decide where they will do their homework… Inside the play tent in the basement or at their desk in their room. 

By giving them tools for success that could help them turn their behavior around, you are giving them a chance to redo the behavior and  learn from it.  They will begin to repeat the positive behaviors and omit the negative behaviors once they know the systems, consequences, expectations,and rewards of following through on your house rules.

Better things to do…

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

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

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

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

Baby Steps to Better Behavior

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

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

Take it in Baby Steps!

Chugga Chugga Change

The following was a favorite rhyme around our house when our two oldest children were still into reading board books.  It’s gone by now, and we are onto Harry Potter and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but the rhyme rings true to me as I think about the rhythm of life with kids in tow.

Train chugs… clickety clack ,

Engine upfront… caboose in back

Passing cows… Moooo

Over the river… Whooo Whooo

Continue reading “Chugga Chugga Change”

How does a child bloom?

  1.  Sprinkle seeds of love (a love that lasts “No Matter What”).
  2. Ground them with roots of understanding ( that allows each child to have their unique strengths, interests, and needs met).
  3. Provide warmth (that surrounds the child in comfort and trust).
  4. Provide water and safety (that cleanses the dirt and harm away).
  5. Let the growth begin.
  6. Each flower will take on their own stem and their pace of growth will be unique to them.
  7. Provide them with care and experiences that lead to physical, cognitive, social, emotional and linguistic growth.
  8. Factor in all the people and experiences which surround and support the child.
  9. Suddenly, you will see the whole child bloom.

How Does a Parent Bloom…

  1. Sprinkle their lives with resources (books, websites, people, and tools) that positively support their mission as a parent.
  2. Ground them in roots that connect to the values and expectations they have in their heart.
  3. Surround them with people who have similar values, interests, needs and strengths and who can support their parenting cause.
  4. Provide them with time to reflect on what they have learned from their resources and what they know in their hearts.
  5. Design a plan that connects resources and reflections.
  6. Decide on how they will respond to their children and use flexible thinking to sway peacefully between what they expect and what their child needs.

The Three R’s of Parenting

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

One Shining Moment

Don’t miss your child’s one shining moment… it could be your moment to shine too…

It’s march madness around our house, and time to cheer on our teams to victory.  In the end there will be one team that gets the title, wins it all and has the big moment. The song that they will play to commemorate this season of madness will focus on all the little moments that mean a lot and add up to one great season of basketball. Continue reading “One Shining Moment”