Archive for December 2011

Presents or Presence?

December 19, 2011

your presence is the best gift you can bestow upon your children. Forget presents. Give them 3 from santa. Encourage your entitled kids to give each other gifts of time. This will require slowing down and spending time with each other without electonics. Kids can learn to play, spend time together without video games.When my oldest daughter began spending time with her high school boyfriend’s family, she announced, “We don’t have any traditions.

The best gift you can exchange in your family is time.  Some of my favorite gifts of all time have been certificates for experiences and deeds done together.

Give them three gifts from Santa and spend the rest of the day cultivating a holiday tradition that will last long after the batteries die out from the high-tech gifts. Here are some of my favorite simple traditions.

  • Take a long walk in the woods or in a park on Christmas Day.
  • Make a special treat together, like cinnamon buns, Christmas cookies or hot cocoa.
  • Build a fire inside or out and sing carols and other songs. Kids of all ages LOVE fire. Even if it’s frigid outside, spend some time together gathering firewood and creating the fire pit. This memory will last much longer than any gift you will ever purchase.
  • Play some games together that don’t require electricity. Cards, dodge ball, ping-pong, board games, charades, make up a skit, let your imagination go.
  • Do a craft together, even if it’s messy. Keep it simple or not. Have fun.

Be present with your kids. SHUT OFF your electronics when you’re with them and ask them for the same courtesy.

Slow down and make the days last. It might seem like your kids will never grow up. The days will morph into years, and they will leave home sooner than you can believe. Childhood will be sealed in a time capsule that can never be revised. The special memories can be retrieved and relived.

What are some of your family traditions?

PS — If you have a difficult child, spending 5 to 15 minutes a day with him or her can dramatically change your relationship and their behavior. Choose the positive attention as prevention, instead of negative detention afterwards.

Cultivate holiday happiness and gratitude

December 12, 2011

Cultivate an attitude of gratitude during this holiday season to reduce christmas stress. Teach children how to appreciate what we have instead of going nuts buying stuff. Discipline is tough around the holidays. kids are so excited. Tots to teens can't stand the anxiety of Santa Claus, Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza and whatever else you celebrate. Have a family meeting. TAlk about what holiday traditions mean to you.Readers, you know I love chores and what they teach children. Christmas can be one big chore that leads to stress, depression, and of course, taking out frustration by yelling at the kids.

It’s not their fault that we’re in the midst of one of the biggest marketing campaigns and traditions in the world. They can’t help their excitement and anticipation of the big day because it’s so exciting!

Have empathy that your tots-to-teens are going crazy waiting for the biggest day of the year.

Come to Littleton tonight, Monday, Dec. 12, 7-9 pm for a parents forum on reducing holiday stress. See previous blog post for directions. It’s only $15 if you RSVP to susan @ susantordella dot net. Bring a friend and it’s only $20 for two.

Here are three suggestions to defuse the holiday stress, that we women mostly heap on ourselves, in response to impossible standards set by the media, that we internalize. Martha Stewart has a crew of dozens to create her “effortless” crafts, meals and decorations. No one can live up to those ridiculous benchmarks.

1. Make peace with yourself and quit doing so much decorating, cooking, baking, partying, eating, celebrating, buying and whatever else makes you crazy this time of year. Celebrating Christmas is optional! How much you celebrate it is up to you. Don’t feel obliged to get everyone in your life a gift, especially your kids’ teachers. They don’t need all of that stuff. If you want to give something, give school supplies they might purchase with their own money or donate a book to the school library or to someone who needs it.

2. Have a family meeting. Find out what traditions the kids like and/or want to create, then do it. It might mean staying home and making and decorating Christmas cookies together instead of going to “The Nutcracker.” Simple is best. Make hot cocoa and sing holiday songs by the fire. Play games from last December that are in the closet. Take some time to decorate the tree together. Slow down. Don’t rush. Be grateful. Cook some traditional holiday foods together. You are creating memories.

Remember that holding regular family meetings is the greatest gift you give to your family because they reinforce everything you want your kids to be — connected, capable, confident, respectful and fun.

3. Make a list of gratitudes. At the family meeting, ask everyone to make a list of things they are grateful for. Either put the list on the Christmas tree or near the Menorah, or write the gratitudes down on index cards. You can cut the cards into simple holiday shapes and make a hole at the top to hang them on the tree with a twist tie, yarn or wire ornament hangers. They can be as simple as, “I’m glad we have a dog.” “Visits to grandma.” “My Legos.” “Good health.” “Family.”

There are less than two weeks to go until the biggest day of the year. Enjoy it as it comes and then goes away for another year.

“You better not shout!” How to maintain family peace during the jolly season.

December 8, 2011

Who’s being naughty and nice at your house?

Join a positive parenting session on Monday, Dec. 12, 7-9 pm to remind you how to maintain goodwill during this season of celebration.

Touch base with positive parenting principles and share with other parents.Make the two hour informal workshop a holiday gift to your family. Remember what fun it is to ride the one horse open sleigh of positive parenting.

7-9 pm  Monday, Dec. 12.  RSVP to and admission is $15, 2 for $20 (bring a spouse or friend). Bring payment.

$20 at the door, 2 for $25 Drop-ins and babes in arms welcome. 

Mark your calendar for the January Positive Parenting Forum — Monday, Jan. 9, 7-9 pm, same place, at Exit 31, Route 495 near IBM in Littleton, Mass.


NOTE: It’s CRITICAL to enter the old Mill building through the correct door.

From Rt. 110 in either direction, go to the intersection of Rt. 119 and turn north to I-495.  The building is the first building on the left after the turn. 

From locations South, take I-495 North to Exit 31 at Rt. 119. At the end of the ramp turn left.   The mill building is on the right hand side.

From Boston, take Rt. 2 West, then take I-495 North to Exit 31/Rt. 119. Take ramp right and left at the stop sign.   Mill building is on the right.  

From Boston, take Rt. 2 West to the Concord Rotary, then take Rt. 2A/119 West.  Follow it to Rt. 110 in Littleton center.  The Mill Building is just after the intersection on the left.  This route is shorter from Boston but may be a little slower.

From locations North, take I-495South to Exit 31/Rt. 119. At the end of the ramp, go right onto Rt. 119, over the freeway. The Mill building will be on the right.  

Parking:  The most convenient parking is the lot closest to the intersection of Rt. 119 and Rt. 110 at the sign for Cloak and Dagger.  Go to the back of the parking lot and take the steps up to the loading dock.  Enter the red door on your right with a sign on it that says “Creating Life Studio.”  Take the stairs to the top floor to the studio.

Bully-free parenting

December 5, 2011
my child is the bully, anti-bullying, positive parenting, positive discipline, hitting, spanking, yelling, parenting about, teens, toddlers,preschoolers, teenagers, tweens, elementary age, "alfred adler" , natural and logical consequences, encouragement, family meetings,
Many bullies are made at home

As the young mother of three children born in 3.5 years, I thought “discipline” meant “punishment.” Through parenting workshops, I learned that “discipline” means “to teach.” Parents are teaching every minute of every day by our example, and how we manage others. To manage people means to get other people to do what we want.

My question to you today is How do you manage your children? Do you yell, spank, praise, reward and punish? Or, are you their friend and set few limits?

Children feel unsafe in both extremes. The greatest challenge for parents is to manage our emotions because children try our patience. When they don’t do what we want, when they make bad decisions and put their safety at risk, we feel anxious, worried and frustrated that they don’t listen to us. Therefore we are justified in punishing them.

The problem with punishment is that it often breeds resentment, rebellion and revenge, and ironically, NOT the behavior change we wish to see.

Tots to teens need limits set with respect, love and logic. Children need to experience the results of their decisions. My favorite line is “Give them enough rope to burn but not enough to hang” so they can learn to choose well and find out life’s rules.

Here are some examples of how tots to teens can learn from their decisions.

a. A 10-year-old spent his allowance on candy on Saturday and asks Dad on Sunday, “Can you buy me this video game?” “Son, I bet you can save up your allowance for a few weeks and buy that game.”

b. A 3-year-old refuses to eat his favorite vegetable at dinner and has a tantrum because his parents won’t give him dessert. “You’d really like some dessert. You know the rule in our family. People who eat their vegetables get dessert.”

c. A 15-year-old doesn’t clean the bathroom as promised by Friday at 7 pm. Mom explains in a kind and firm voice, “When the bathroom is cleaned, I’ll give you the ride.”

d. A 7-year-old forgets her mittens on a cold day and her hands get chapped.

e. A 12-year-old chooses not to pick up his room. It becomes difficult to walk in the room and it l from dirty clothes. He has trouble finding clean clothes to wear to school and doesn’t care.

In the first three examples, can you see how the parent explains the logic behind the decisions and in the last two, the parent can allow the youngsters to experience the results of their choices without intervening. The first three are “logical consequences” because they require parental action. The last two are “natural consequences” because the outcome happens without parental action. These are the most powerful and respectful ways for children to mature that sustain a positive parent-child connection.

Here are some bullying responses to the same scenarios, that teach children those who are bigger, meaner, verbally or physically abusive, louder and stronger will win. Verbal abuse can be as devastating as physical abuse.

a. “You’re never going to learn to manage your money.”

b. “Go to your room, you’re being a bad boy. I’m going to spank you if you don’t stop crying.”

c. “What do you think I am? The maid and the driver? You’re lazy and self-centered. All I ask is that you clean the lousy bathroom once a week. I’m going to take away your video games for a week.”

d. “How many times did I tell you to bring your mittens? You’re going to catch cold and die of pneumonia. What will your teacher think if you go to school without mittens? You always make me look bad. I want to be proud of you.”

e. “You must clean your room today or else you’ll be grounded for a month. I’m sick and tired of you disrespecting the house your father and I work so hard to get. You’re going to amount to nothing if you don’t learn some respect. What will your friends and teachers think when you go to school with the same dirty T-shirt day after day?”

In the last two, parents can allow youngsters to live with the consequences of their decisions. This shows mutual respect. Parents model problem solving and behavior management without punishment, reward and praise.

Parents can teach children to choose wisely by being kind and firm, saying as little as possible and using natural and logical consequences that are related, reasonable and respectful (thanks to Jane Nelsen for the Three Rs of natural and logical consequences).