Archive for November 2010

Transform morning havoc to morning harmony

November 29, 2010
Morning routine, my kids are driving me nuts in the morning, getting children ready for day care, good parenting is about getting children to make good decisions. Discipline can be accomplished without punishment, especially in the morning. If you need help getting your child ready for school in the morning, this book will help for parents of teens, teenagers, toddlers, preschoolers, school age and tweens. Children can learn to manage their time in the morning. Parents will be calmer and empower, encourage and expect their children to get ready for school

Click on the image to find out how to expect, empower and encourage your children to make better decisions in the morning.

Children love routine, which is one reason why this time of year is difficult for them. They are bursting with anticipation. The holidays disrupt their routines.

One routine many parents are challenged by is getting ready in the morning. Parents are frustrated when children dawdle, procrastinate, ignore parents’ suggestions-demands-threats-yelling-sarcasm and more.

Which is why I wrote this short e-book as an introduction to the Raising Able Family Management System to coach parents to set up a system for their children in the morning that empowers the children.

Parents will find out how to teach children to take responsibility for getting up and getting ready in the morning by using family meetings, expectations, encouragement, empowerment, and natural and logical consequences.

The book is easy to read with many examples. It will take three days to three weeks to implement a new morning routine. The older the child/teen, the longer it will take for them to believe that PARENTS have changed.

I look forward to hearing your stories of success and challenges — there’s a comment section on the e-book page. Please share the link with your circle of friends and family.

Remember Yoda’s words — “Do or not. There is no try.”

Happy Turkey Day

November 25, 2010
FAmily time is pizza time. Family dinner is every night of the week not just Thanksgiving. It's where you learn etiquette and manners and connect to your family, and feel like you belong. It is the best anti-drug, anti-smoking, anti-alcoohol strategy. Family time will keep your child out of trouble. Teens, tweens, and teenagers need family time. Making homemade Pizza is a great way to spend time together.

Ian creating one of his specialities -- home-made pizza. I think it is better than Thanksgiving dinner.The view of our kitchen yesterday afternoon. Chaos! Fun! Delicious!

 YAY Thanksgiving! Yay family time! What a great excuse to get together and spend time with each other.
Not everyone’s holiday is as happy today. There is a story in today’s Boston Globe about the cancellation of the annual Maynard-Clinton Thanksgiving Day Game in Massachusetts. School officials cancelled the game after four of the squad’s 16 players were caught drunk over the previous weekend.
People are disappointed and some think the consequence is too harsh. I disagree. How will these young men learn that their decisions have repercussions? That what they do has an impact on others.
The incident is a wake-up call for the players’ parents. How do these young men get the alcohol? Where is the parental supervision? I can only guess that some parents are really angry over the decision and think their teen has been treated unfairly.
By behaving irresponsibly, the young men let their team, school and community down. Hopefully, they will learn from this experience and it will benefit them. When young people never feel the impact of their choices, their behavior escalates. The school’s decision is related, respectful and reasonable [thanks to Jane Nelsen, Ph.D. for those three Rs of natural and logical consequences.]
When punishment is used, youngsters can respond with rebellion, resentment and revenge. When the consequence is fair — I’m sure those players knew the rules — young people learn to accept the responsibility for their behavior.
The way to learn to make better decisions is to feel the pain from bad decisions. If we don’t feel pain, we don’t learn. These young men have gotten enough rope to burn, but not enough to hang. I volunteer in prison where men are serving long sentences for making disastrous, even fatal choices. They have much time to contemplate their mistakes on this special day.
Enjoy your holiday today.
Here is our family working together to get thankgiving dinner all ready. We cooked for a few hours together in preparation. I love cooking with my family, It's a great way to teach children to cook and to spend quality family time. Parenting is all about spending time together and teaching children what you know about life. Discipline becomes not as urgent when you spent quality time with children, tweens and teens, even if they say "leave me alone."

The view of our kitchen yesterday afternoon. Chaos! Fun! Delicious!


The apex of family dinner is Thanksgiving

November 22, 2010
manners, table manners, etiquette, family dinner, conversation skills and consideration all com to a head on Thanksgiving where children show what they have learned all year round. parents can work on manners every day. Family dinner is an excellent venue to teach and model manners on a daily basis. Family dinner is the anti-drug. Regular family dinner correlates to lower rates of drug, alcohol and tobacco use among tweens and teens. Family dinner is worth the time and effort.

Dramatic storytelling is a big part of family dinner, as is laughter.

Family dinner is a sacred tradition in our house. My husband and I both grew up with it and we sustained it through years of soccer practices, concerts, teen work schedules and their objections.Stuck to this mantra: “You will be home for family dinner.”

On Friday nights we often made homemade pizza and watched a G or PG movie together. I can still see my son Ian when he was in high school, arguing with me in the kitchen.

“Do I have to be here for family dinner?”

The answer was unequivocably, “Yes. You must” with no room for negotiation in my body language.

Do you know how Ian celebrated his 26th birthday last month? By preparing 12 homemade pizzas for his friends.

Dozens of studies have correlated the value of family dinner to keep kids connected to parents and family, to reduce the rate of drug/alcohol/cigarette use by tween and teens, and to reinforce family values. My children learned to make pleasant conversation, use pleasant table manners and be part of a group at family dinners.

The worst trouble one of my teens ever got in was at 5:30 pm on a Friday night, when that teen should have been home with us having family dinner. It was a painful price to pay to be reminded of the value of family dinner. Not only does it cut in half the time they can stray between school dismissal and midnight, family dinner anchors them.

Family dinner is worth the time and investment — especially this time of year when our children are “on display” at family and community gatherings. They will demonstrate the cumulative what we have taught them at home every day. 

We had the tradition of saying this non-denominational grace to start our meal. No ne could eat before saying grace. I was reminded of it when my son’s former girlfriend sent me a message on Facebook.

Hi Susan! I was thinking about you guys with Thanksgiving coming up. Your family’s grace was always my favorite, would you mind sending me the blessing?

Here it is Kendra. We hold hands and say the following.

Thank you God/Goddess/Great Spirit/Earth
For the food on our table, the roof over our head and love in our family.
Help us make peace on Earth and at home.
Amen. E tadaki mas. Bismillah. L’Chaim. Namaste.

The end of the prayer is almost as long as the body thanks to spontaneous additions from friends over the years.

“E tadaki mas” – Japanese  for“Let us receive this food” came from Tomoko and Noriyuki, summer visitors through the 4-H summer exchange.

“Bismillah” – Arabic – “In the name of God” is from Zoe of Senegal in the Muslim tradition.

“L’Chaim” – Hebrew, used as a toast — “To life!” Our friend Barry blurted it out spontaneously after sharing in the prayer. I love the guttural feeling of “l’cha” in the back of my throat. It’s fun to say.

“Namaste” — Hindu — “I bow to the divine in you” came from Lezli. She and her son Dontanno lived with us for three months. It ends the prayer in a solemn peaceful note and sums up everyone else’s contributions.

I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Holiday happiness

November 18, 2010
Family time is thanksgiving. Discipline, etiquette, holiday manners, children's behavior, stress, holiday stress, fun, parenting: about. parenting education, families, holiday expectations
We had 27 people for this Thanksgiving celebration from ages 2 to 85. The ping pong table was set up in the garage to give the four teenage boys somewhere to go, “something” to do.

It’s that time of year when families will be convening together in closed spaces and everyone wants children to behave well.

Did you know that recess is one of THE BEST cures for classroom misbehavior? Take a cue and take your children outside to play touch football, take a walk to the park, or play basketball in the driveway. Make sure it’s for at least an hour. Spend time with them. This is an investment in a happy holiday.
After exercise, they will be in a better frame of body and spirit to live up to reasonable expectations of behavior.
Parents, start now by holding family meetings and talk about manners — ask, “What will it look like on Thanksgiving to have good etiquette?” Hear their suggestions and encourage them  to practice during family dinner at home.  Compliment them when they say, “Please pass the salt,” use a napkin instead of their pants. Teach them to say, “This is delicious,” and “No thank you,” to foods they don’t like.
Manners are basically consideration of other people. Yelling out, “That’s disgusting,” or announcing, “Mikey doesn’t eat onions,” or “Can you cook some special pasta for Megan – that’s all she’ll eat,” fall under “lack of consideration” for others.
Manners start at home and by parents modeling good manners at family dinners and constantly reinforcing them. My four “children” are now in their 20s, and even as teens, they despised peers who chewed with their mouths open, made rude comments about food, slurped, didn’t use napkins, and stood up to reach for the salt instead of saying, “Please pass the salt.”
Manners are a lifetime gift you can give to your children — in small doses. If you’re just starting now for next week, you’re a bit late. Take baby steps.
On the big day, be willing to give one warning to younger children then take action by removing them from the situation. Use the outdoors or your car if needed. If they have a meltdown or are out-of-control, consider leaving the family gathering. It might just be too much for them. Go home and have canned beans and carrot sticks. It could be a memorable teaching moment.
Ideally, take time for training BEFORE the big day so children feel confident about the expectations and have boundaries established around reasonable behavior. “Training” includes giving one warning, taking action and possibly allowing the child to go hungry to remind them that sitting at a table is a privilege and certain behavior is expected.
Going hungry for a few hours will show the child you mean business. It takes three days to die of thirst and three days to die of starvation. Missing one meal could serve as a powerful teacher, if you’re willing — or desperate.
Remember to involve them in cooking, setting up for the meal and cleanup. It’s a wonderful time for teamwork and family togetherness.
Happy Thanksgiving!  Above all, have fun!

All play and no work make Jack a dull boy

November 14, 2010

I’ve heard some encouraging stories about the impact of family meetings.

The mother of two daughters, 15 and 11 years old, and her husband have been holding family meetings for a few months since taking the online course Raising Able Family Management System.

“The kids suggested we start doing our own cleaning to save money, and use that money for vacations,” said the mom. “I’m going to give notice to our cleaning service because that adds up to a tidy sum that we can use for our vacations.”

When you calculate the cost of paying taxes on that income, the savings increase. When we had 11 straight years of college tuition, we all pitched in to do our own cleaning and netted at least $2,000 a year towards UMass.

A divorced father of two, a son age 18 and a daughter age 15, said of his family meetings, “They really got into them. They couldn’t wait to volunteer for chores. ”

That’s success! When children pitch in around the house they feel connected, significant and part of the team.

A 15-year study on adolescent health [ADD Health] found a simple recipe to keep teenagers out of trouble. When teens feel connected to home and to school they greatly enhance their opportunities for success in life.

Family meetings, family chores and family dinner provide a critical connection between children/teens and families. The young people might not be as eager as the kids described above, but don’t worry. Young people don’t always want to be seen as too cooperative. Deep down, children of all ages are yearning for connection to their parents.

And secretly, they want to be challenged, to be able to demonstrate competency, and to learn.

In the 1930s, researchers offered misbehaving children this consequence: unlimited recess.

Children who behaved were given the opportunity to learn. The children figured out the system quickly and they wanted to do the schoolwork instead of playing all day. And they did learn, with record-breaking results.

Too bad schools today haven’t used this approach. Let the students with behavior problems run around outside until they’re exhausted and cry “uncle” and they beg for the opportunity to behave properly and  learn in a classroom. The exercise will do them good.

Many people say they don’t want to work, but the reality is that work is where most people find satisfaction, connection and achievement. Home chores set up kids for success at work and in their own lives.

“Pretty smart — for an adult.”

November 11, 2010

I LOVE the feedback the young people deliver to me — through the parents, who are being coached on the Raising Able Family Management System.

Example one: “Freddie” is 14, a freshman in high school, and has ADD. His mother often nags, chastizes, bosses around, reminds, praises, punishes and rewards him for various behaviors. She has trouble keeping track of all of the agreements and punitive measures.

When Mom wanted Freddoe to keep food scraps to a minimum in his bedroom, she got him to comply by taking away his X-box headgear. This is NOT related, respectful and reasonable. We are working on a plan for the two of them to empower him to clean up his area to prevent roaches and mice by using encouragement, expectation and teamwork. 

Freddie likes to stay up late playing video games, and his mother could not figure out how to persuade him to get more sleep. Nagging and threatening did not work.

In desperation, she followed my suggestion, which was this: “Freddie is old enough to start making decisions for himself. Let him experience the natural consequences of staying up late and feeling like mashed mud the next morning.”

“It only took him two months,” said Freddie’s mother. “I told him who suggested it, and he said, ‘She’s pretty smart — for an adult.'”

I think Freddie is “pretty smart” for a teen.

Example two:  The mother of “Emily” came to my six-week class to learn to set limits for her 7-year-old mini-tyrant. Mom started making small changes and implementing plans for chronic situations, like the bedtime routine.

When Emily resists and challenges — as is normal with a new system — her mother says, “I learned about this in my class on the Raising Able Family Management Plan.”

Emily said to her mother, “Tell her ‘That’s enough of that plan.‘”

In the long run, the Emilies and Freddies of the world, and their families, are better off with a consistent plan.

Both of Emily and Freddie are only children — which adds to the challenge. Every time their parents master one stage of development, the child has matured and moved on to something new, and the parents never get to use the knowledge again. The dynamic of two adults to one child is challenging because the child must navigate in an adult world; and three is a crowd. There are many successful “only” children.  It is just a different scenario than having two or more children.

I enjoy the youngsters’ feedback because it means the parents are managing their emotions and expectations, and using encouragement and empowerment to get the children to do what they want — the signature of a good manager.

Plan family celebrations, not stressations by lowering expectations

November 8, 2010
Holiday stress. Coping with holiday stress. Survival tips for holiday stress. holiday season and stress. Self- care for moms is one of the most important things mothers can do for ourselves. When we take care of ourselves, we're more equipped to take care of others. Motherhood is one of the toughest jobs and it is completely overlooked & underrated for difficulty. Moms must take care of themsevles. Reduce stress during the holiday season by taking care of yourself and not doing so much. Don't strive for perfection and the MArtha Stewart look.

Gonzo the dog enjoys a short massage from Cindy, my massage therapist. Gonzo parked herself there while Cindy was stretching after our workout. Getting a monthly massage from Cindy is one way I take care of myself, especially during the holidays. My husband gives me massage gift certificates for Christmas. It's the gift that gives to me all year round.

It’s official. We’re out of the starting gate for the holidays. Unfortunately we women want to emulate impossibly perfect media images of body, home and life.

The Supermom myth comprable to X-ray vision and flying through air: it’s impossible. For example, Martha Stewart’s Thanksgiving meal requires four people some THREE days to prepare it.

To plan a celebration not a stressationlower your expectations and make it a team effort. Do less. Rest more. Buy prepared foods. Simplify.  

We’re having 17 people for Thanksgiving. My goal is to vacuum up most of the dog hair and make  the guest bathroom spotless — because that’s the only room guests will be in alone. My next goal is to have fun with my family and friends. I am planning to a long walk in the woods and to play indoor games on Nov. 25.

We’re doing the turkeys and stuffing, the remainder is up to everyone else.  I’m looking forward to a Wednesday night  cook-a-thon. I enjoy cooking and eating with people I love. We will get every surface, pot, pan, dish and utensil dirty. So what! 

By taking a different attitude towards the holiday, it can be more fun for the women, who are inevitably in charge.

Here’s a radical idea: let hubby be in charge of Thanksgiving dinner. We started this a decade ago when Bob’s family came on Thanksgiving. I became his scullery maid. It cut my stress way down.

My November massage is scheduled this week. It will reduce my holiday stressation. I will keep in mind my bigger goals: enjoy the celebration, our bounty and many blessings in this crazy world.