What 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.
The “it factor”…
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!
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.
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.
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;)