Archive for May 2011

How to manage carnal emotions & behavior

May 23, 2011
The best way to discipline toddlers, teens, school age and tweens and children is to change your behavior. You cannot change their bevhavior. Spanking, yelling, threatening, and getting angry are fruitless. Children respond to kindness, firmness, love and consistency. They're very hard to provide. "Alfred Adler" "Jane Nelsen" and "Love and Logic" all say to give plenty of love and to change YOUR BEHAVIOR. Parenting is about being a behavior manager. Start by managing your behavior
The family dog Gonzo and her biggest fan, Kristen, share a moment of unconditional love. Managing a pet’s behavior is a lot like managing children’s behavior.

One of my favorite reminders is this: manage your emotions.  Easy to say, hard to do, especially when our children know how to push our emotional buttons.

The art of management is to get other creatures to do what you want them to do. HOW you do this depends on your style.
An article in the Boston Globe’s G section May 21 about cats, which are notoriously hard to manage, led with the headline, “You may think your cat’s the problem, but maybe it’s you.”
SO TRUE!  The excellent article gives five ways to manage your cat’s behavior that will help parents to manage their behavior and emotions so they’re more consistent and less frustrated.
1. Have fun together.  I’m not sure how cat owners can hunt, catch and kill with their owners. However, parents can transform their relationship with their children by investing five to 15 minutes a day of positive time with their children, with no electronics, nagging, or criticism.
2. Get the cat a Netflix subscription to give her something to do when you’re not around. Watching movies together can be good family time, although I prefer more interactive and active ways to enjoy being together.
3. Serve meals. “Cats thrive on the daily ritual of meals.” So do humans. Have family dinner or breakfast together as many days of the week as possible. Research shows kids with more family dinners have less drug, alcohol and tobacco use. They’re more connected to their families, the single most effective way to manage your offspring to do what you want them to do.
4. Be positive. “Your can always say ‘no’ but there has to be a ‘yes’ directly behind it,” says cat behavior expert Jackson Galaxy of Animal Planet. Kids need parents to say “NO” to set boundaries so they feel safe. Don’t feel guilty about it or the need to follow it with a  “YES.” Kind, firm and consistent boundaries are a gift and a parental obligation. It’s the verbal put-downs, threats, sarcasm, whining, nagging and criticism from parents that erode the relationship. Parents must manage their emotions, thoughts, words and deeds around their children. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all.
5. Understand your cat. This is critical for the parent-child relationship. Don’t expect too much or too little from your children. They will rise or sink to your expectations. This is where reading books, parenting skills groups and super nanny coaching can help. I can help you with all three 🙂
Parenting skills groups, books and other mothers helped me manage my emotions and children so motherhood became a joy and challenge, not a source of angst and frustration.
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Free workshop Wedesday night, May 18

May 17, 2011

Join us for a free parenting skills workshop at 6:30 pm Wednesday, May 18 at Lifelinks Inc., 285 Mill Road in Chelmsford.

Find out how to cut out half of the yelling at your home by using encouragement, family meetings and mutual respect. Hear the story of my journey from yelling, punishing, threatening, nagging and praising to learning how to use positive parenting techniques.

No pre-registration necessary. Email or call me for more information – 978-772-3930, susan (at) susantordella (dot) net.

Bad seeds become weeds

May 16, 2011
working alongside of parents is about good parenting that teaches children skills for life. If you want your child to have high self esteem and a work ethic, follow the advice of "Dr Alfred Adler" and "Dr Rudolf Dreikurs" and have them do chores. Home chores will prepare your children for life.
Kristen is spackling a basement wall with Bob when she was about 7 years old, before Bob started his business.

My husband Bob is a contractor with a small crew. He occasionally hires young people — usually male — to train as his assistant. Recently Bob estimated a job with a typical new customer who lives in a comfortable house in a good neighborhood where the children are expected to be above average.

Bob mentioned to the woman of the house that he needs to hire a new crew member for the summer spike of renovating kitchens and bathrooms in and around Routes 495, 2 and 3 in Massachusetts. (Shameless plug.) This how the conversation went.

Mom: Oh! My son needs a summer job.

Here KRisten and Bob of www.renovationsredoak.com finish some tile work.
Here’s Kristen at age 21 finishing a tiling job with Bob in Littleton.

Bob: Really?

Mom: He’s 19. (They move towards family room where Bob sees two feet hanging over the edge of the couch in front of a 72 inch screen.)

Mom (in a happy voice): Junior, Bob needs summer help. Come and meet him.

Junior: Mflgsh.

Bob: (Thinks: No way will I ever hire this guy.)

Mom: Junior, this is an opportunity. Come and say hi.

This is an example of Kristen's custom designed tile work in our bathroom. She is halfway through a MFA program in sculpture that requires a dedicated work ethic.
This is an example of Kristen’s custom designed tile work in our bathroom. She is halfway through a MFA program in sculpture where she works 60 and 70 hours a week teaching and doing art.

Junior: (Wearily) No. I don’t feel like it.

Mom: But Junior, you need a summer job.

Junior: I don’t want to.

Mom gives up in exasperation.

Bob has hired one or two other young men like Junior who showed up late or not at all, showed little initiative, and showed great interest in cigarette breaks.

Bob’s best workers come from families where they worked along side of parents doing yard work, using their own set of junior-size tools, and developed a positive work ethic.

At age 19, Junior is nearly a lost cause.

Don’t let your kids become like Junior. Plant the seeds NOW of working around your home and yard, and water them regularly. It’s an investment of time and effort that will pay off for a lifetime with the priceless gift of self-discipline.

Let them mess up the kitchen

May 11, 2011

Making cupcakes can be messy. Let children get their hands in the batter, lick the pans, and experiment in the kitchen. Here's a parenting tip: cook with them.

It has been at least a decade since I made cupcakes. I needed a hiatus after sending cupcakes to school to celebrate many birthdays of my four children for years.

Sadly cupcakes are banned in many schools today.

Kids still need to be encouraged to cook. As I managed the batter in and out of the bowl and made the icing, I remembered how hard it was to make cupcakes when I was in elementary school. It was hard to follow the recipe, divide up the batter neatly and evenly and to ration the icing. They had to be baked them the right amount of time and I tried my best to not spill the ingredients.

My mother never complained about the mess we made when cooking. She encouraged us to cook, even sweet treats. It saved money off the family grocery bill — always a concern when you have nine children — and gave us the life skill of cooking confidence and self-esteem.

Because she gave us free rein in the kitchen and coached us, I have the attitude that I can cook anything if I follow the recipe. I’ve saved thousands of dollars by knowing how to cook and not needing to eat out regularly.

Cooking together is an excellent way for families to bond and to encourage cooking skills in children. STart with simple recipes- especially "betty crocke"r.Today I hate to cook alone. I miss having the kids around to break eggs, mix up the batter,  lick the bowls and appreciate the results.

I licked the bowls this morning and started the day with an excellent chocolate/sugar surge.

I wish these cupcakes were destined to celebrate a child’s birthday at school. They are for a reception at a memorial service, the father from a family my children grew up with.

Life is short. Do what matters. Make cupcakes with your kids today and relish the moment. You’ll be giving them a gift that will last them a lifetime.

The most you can spend on anyone is time

May 9, 2011
Thinking about others is a big part of motherhood. Mother's Day is a critical day to think about MOM and do something special for her. When our children do not think of us, we mothers can feel hurt and not understand what we did wrong to nurture such a self-centered individual.

Celebrating Mother's Day with two of my four "children," now 28 and 30.

This is a phone call I had with a friend yesterday. The names have been changed.

Mike: What are you doing for Mother’s Day?

Me: Casey and Noah are coming over. We’re making pizza together, a family tradition. What are you doing?

Mike: Kate and I may end up going out to dinner alone, unless Junior wants to come with us.

Me: How old is Junior?

Mike: He’s 23 and still lives at home. Junior always complains that he doesn’t have any money. He probably won’t get Kate anything, or make her anything for Mother’s Day.

Me: I always like certificates — like for cleaning my car, building things, or artwork.

Mike: I’ve always told Junior that we like things that he makes.

Me: Huh. (Thinking how easy and low-cost it is to make a home-made Mother’s Day Card or pick a few flowers from the yard.) Where are you going out to dinner?

Mike: We’d like to go to an Indian restaurant. But if Junior comes, we’ll choose somewhere else. He is not an adventuresome eater.

Me: (speechless. Hard to respond tactfully. It’s Mother’s Day. He’s getting a free meal.)   There must be something on the menu of an Indian restaurant that he would or could eat.

Mike: No, no. His sister is more adventuresome. He’s not. We’ll go somewhere else. IF he comes with us.

Me: Okay. Enjoy. Bye.

Mike is puzzled that his son is so self-centered. I wonder if Junior has ever done a chore for the common good without getting paid for it. This is one of many ways to teach children teamwork and to get them outside of ME-ME-ME.

Children and most people are naturally about ME-ME-ME. Which is why parents’ job is so important. We socialize human beings for life in the world with others. Our teachings take a long time to install, and last a lifetime, even beyond–to the next generation.

Mike could have said to Junior, “It’s Mother’s Day and your mother wants Indian food. We would love it if you would join us. I’m sure
you can find something on the menu to eat. If you don’t want to come, your mother will be disappointed. I hope you come. We’re leaving at 5:30 pm.”

Fathers can model how to put Mom first. Junior likely gets to choose the restaurant he likes on his birthday, and I bet Mom goes along with whatever he wants. Junior can do the same on Mother’s Day. It’s a first step to teach him consideration, a hard lesson to learn, especially at age 23.

Self-discipline comes in many packages

May 2, 2011
Chores develop self-discipline in children which is useful in life for learning musical instruments, school, work, love, life, savings, self-restraint and more. Chores are one of the most important gifts you can give your child. Use family meetings, according to "Alfred Adler" and "Jane Nelsen" to figure out who does what chore. Jobs around the house will teach your child more than you think and set her up for lifelong success. Parenting is all about being consistent and following through. Doing chores is all about being consistent and following through.
Learning an instrument requires self-discipline, learned through chores.

Showing up when you don’t feel like it is required many places in life, like work, school, relationships, exercise, and learning a new skill. Self-discipline is pretty much essential.

A longitudinal study — meaning the subjects were followed up on over a long period of 20 years — showed that the young people who did chores when they were 4 years old did better later than peers in the same study who had no chores, according to Dr. Marty Rossmann, professor emeritus of the University of Minnesota.

The kids don’t have to get up at dawn to milk the cows, but such discipline instills a life-long ability to make good decisions, according to an in-depth study done on children from age 3 until their mid-20s.

Kids learn responsibility, competence, self-reliance and self-worth that sticks for life, says Dr. Rossmann. She found the young adults who had done chores were better adjusted and more successful than non-chore-doing peers in the study.

This kind of long-term research and correlations are hard to come by in psychology. The research even more convincing because the original data by Diana Baumrind analyzed parenting styles — authoritarian, permissive and authoritative. So the research contained no biases about chores and long-term success in life.

The real gem in this study is that the earlier the kids start doing chores, the more it is pricelessly embedded in their psyche. My kids started pushing laundry into the dryer and shoving around a mop before they could talk. Next, they emptied wastebaskets from the bedrooms, and sorted the silverware from the dishwasher — an excellent pre-reading skill of learning to distinguish differences. Their chores got more complex a they got older.

Yes, it’s easier to do the chores yourself. Yes, it will get done faster and better if you do it. Yes, you’re hurting your kids in the long run if you do everything for them. It creates a monster called entitlement.