Archive for January 2012

Happiness as the pot of gold at the end of childhood

January 30, 2012
I highly recommend "The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness" by "Ed Hallowell, MD"

I highly recommend "The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness" by Ed Hallowell, MD

Dr. Hallowell is a super writer and has much insight into childhood and childhood happiness. It’s about positive parenting and our overall approach to parenting. Dr. Hallowell tells some marvelous stories and shares research about childhood and how to have a happy childhood, the roots of happiness. Dr. Ned Hallowell has written a number of books on ADD and ADHD. This book isn’t about ADD or ADHD. It is a good parenting book. Good parenting books are hard to find. I like his tone, his ideas and his approach.” When I ask parents to list the highest aspirations for their children, many often say “happiness” and “to be happy.”

We must turn to a leprechaun to find this elusive and pot of gold — Dr. Edward Hallowell. His book, “The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness” contains stories, research on happiness, and insight from raising three children and advising families for several decades.

Here are the five childhood roots of adult happiness: connection, play, practice, mastery, and recognition. Notice the absence of the words discipline, consequences, praise, reward and punishment. Dr. Hallowell gives many wonderful examples of the importance of connection and how to get more of it without instilling fear and punishment.

Hallowell’s research on happiness adds credibility to the book. Even though happiness is subjective, many researchers have studied this enigmatic state. The fundamental fact that he uncovered is this: a strong parent-child connection is the foundation to happiness.

Hallowell’s book and my parenting approach nestle together like two spoons. What I call mutual respect and encouragement is called by Hallowell creating “confident can-do kids” by allowing them to try, to fail and to recognized efforts. This foundation for a positive parent-child connection also nurtures resilient children.

Kids who are allowed to fail and who are encouraged to practice more will find more happiness because they can bounce back from setbacks. Kids can take risks when they are confident they can fall back the mattress of unconditional love because they are not beholden to please parents or make them proud.

Dr. Hallowell gives many examples of how to nurture the parent-child connection. Here are a few key ideas we share:

  • to do family chores — without pay, with an allowance that’s not connected to chores;
  • to foster free play time — which could lead to the next possibility;
  • to allow boredom and to encourage the child to figure out what to do next;
  • to recognize effort and accomplishment without praise;
  • to share family meals, rituals and traditions;
  • to read together as long as possible; and
  • to nurture the belief that “you can do it.”

This book will make you feel good about how you connect to your children now and how to improve it. I loved reading it because of Dr. Hallowell’s informal writing style. It feels like he is talking to you and sharing what he has learned — from a not-so-perfect childhood and not-so-perfect parenting, that we can all relate to.

BTW — Come to a one-night positive parenting workshop tonight, Monday, Jan. 30, 2012 in Acton, Mass. Act don’t Yak. Walk-ins welcome. 7-9 pm at the R.J. Gray Junior High on Charter Road, off Route 111 in Acton.  Hope to see you there.

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Mother guilt & father guilt are delivered with the baby

January 23, 2012
every mother and father, mommy, mom and dad have experienced guilt when we realize we have messed up with our children. It goes with the territory of parenthood. Parenting is about learning and forgiving our selves even when we're not perfect.
Every parent strives to be good and create happy memories like the one above. All we have to be is good enough. There is no perfect parent or perfect childhood.

“I’m a bad mother,” said “Zoe” a  young mother of three children, 7, 5 and 2, at my “Act Don’t Yak” workshop on how to cut the yelling last week in Littleton.

“Zoe” repeated that statement several times during the workshop on positive parenting techniques. “I’m doing so much wrong,” she said sadly.

I empathize with Zoe’s guilt, pain and desire because I have lived it. I started taking parenting workshops when I recognized what I was doing wasn’t working.
RECOGNIZING is about 80 percent of the process. Buddhist nun Pema Chodron says that after recognize comes refrain, relax and finally, resolve.
This means we parents must manage our emotions — including guilt. We only have to be parents for 24 hours when the guilt sets in, along with new empathy for our own parents. It hurts to realize that WE have messed up because we care about our kids so much and we want the best for them. We all mess up.
I usually start my programs with a story of one of my major mess-ups. My story of a horrible-no-good-terrible-day frees up parents to share theirs. And all parents have those moments, words and days that we regret.
Zoe resolved to start the journey to change, to take more workshops and improve her parenting skills. It will take time, attention and worse, backsliding and starting over again after failure.
That’s where self-encouragement comes in. Sarah, the mother of six, shared at a workshop how she handled a difficult situation with her teenage son. We gave her feedback on what she did right — which was a lot. Sarah walked away feeling better about how she responded to the situation. This is priceless. We can practice self-encouragement when we recognize-refrain [the hardest two to achieve] then find the path to relax and resolve.
Taking a step back from parenting at a workshop allows insight, camaraderie with other parents, laughter, forming a positive parenting plan and starting self-encouragement to better manage the inevitable parent guilt. I hope to see you at one — with a friend.

Raising Able Workshops this week

January 21, 2012

Come and get it — get a dose of positive parenting this week by Raising Able at these locations.

Act Don’t Yak – how to cut the yelling in half. Monday, Jan. 23, 7-9 pm at Roudenbush Community Center. $25. Call to register 978-692-5511 or go online.

“Do I have to?” How chores teach the priceless gift of self-discipline. Wednesday, Jan. 25, FREE at the Pollard Middle School 200 Harris Avenue, Needham. 7-9 p.m. Sponsored by the Needham Women’s Club.

Act Don’t Yak — how to cut the yelling in half. Thursday, Jan. 26, Harvard, Mass. Community Education, 7-9 pm. Email jcavanaugh@psharvard.org to register. $25.

Hope to see you at some of these workshops this week. Repetition helps when learning new habits. Bring a spouse or friend, ready to laugh as you learn.

Earn new habits through repetition

January 9, 2012

working out at the gym is good for mental health for mothers and fathers and parenting because good parenting is all about taking care of a family, and the family starts and ends with moms, usually. Mommy care is essential. Creating good parenting habits is part of being a positive parenting and positive discipline with adlerian methods. "Dr. Alfred Adler" knows how to advise parents, 100 years later. If you have a difficult child or teen with a behavior problem, super nanny susan can help with private consultations. You can learn to improve your child's behavior through positive parenting, encouragement, family meetings, and natural and logical consequences.NOTE: Join us at a Positive Parenting Seminar, “Act Don’t Yak” on Monday Jan. 9, 2012, 7-9 pm in Littleton. Click here for info.

I joined a gym in November to get in shape. Many people are joining gyms this month as part of a new year’s resolution. We all know that words [and resolutions] are cheap — watch the feet [and the follow-through].

The same is true for parenting.

Pumping iron is repetitious and sometimes boring, much like parenting. With a positive attitude and eye on the long-term goal, pumping the iron of parenting habits will bring rewards.

Dads are very important for parenting skills. Fathers give self-esteem, support the mother and provide a backbone to a family. Mother & fathers and parents need to take time to nurture their relationship by going on regular dates and away for at least one weekend a year. Take care of your marraige or else it will go away.

Bob is the best. While raising the four kids, we made sure to carve out "we time" to keep our marriage going. It was a good habit, like going to the gym.

I’m headed to Paris for a week with my starter husband of 31 years. (We started young) and I’m worried about keeping up my new exercise and eating habits.

The same is true for parenting. Vacations interfere with setting up good habits. Dessert looks too tempting. We skip a few days of our new routine. The days and desserts pile up and we give up. The new habit is forgotten.

Which is why we need to read blogs, connect with parents at parenting workshops, read parenting books, evaluate what you’re doing, co-parent from the same playbook, and get parenting coaching.

A couple I’m coaching privately, I’ll call “Meg and Mike,” long for a closer family. They’ve crossed the first of four hurdles described by Buddhist nun Pema Chodron: Recognize, Refrain, Relax, Resolve.

It takes courage to recognize that what you’re doing isn’t working. In seminars, I tell the story of hitting a low point over a pair of green boots with my son Ian, then 2 years old. His brother was 3 and a half, and his sister 5 years old. The green boots incident motivated me to get serious about new parenting habits — in spite of excuses — holidays, sliding backwards, missing days, messing up and beating myself up for past mistakes.

The bottom line: there are no perfect parents, perfect people or perfect bodies. We go to the gym because we feel better and make incremental progress, that isn’t always easy to see. We know it’s good for us and will protect us if we succumb to that dessert and miss a few days of workouts. So we keep at it and look at the long-term goal.

As it is with parenting. The long-term goal is important. We will slip and slide along the way. We must have faith in ourselves and our kids while building better habits for a positive family environment, and a healthy lifelong family connection.

5 positive parenting resolutions for 2012

January 2, 2012
Act Don't Yak from "Dr. Sam Goldstein" is a fundamental principle for happy families. If you have a behavior problem with your toddler, preschooler, school age, tween , teen, teenager or adolescent, acting not yakking is a positive parenting resolution for 2012. You can do it. start with baby steps.
Act Don’t Yak is an easy-to-follow 2012 resolution.

NOTE: Join us at a Positive Parenting Seminar, “Act Don’t Yak” on Monday Jan. 9, 2012, 7-9 pm in Littleton. Click here for info.

“It’s so hard to make new habits,” parents say in my parenting seminars and private practice. It’s true — ANY new habit is challenging to establish and maintain.

Think of a habit as a groove on a record — yes, an old-fashioned LP. When you are stuck in a groove, the record keeps getting deeper as it replays itself. Parents sound like a broken record when they threaten, punish, praise, reward and spank. These negative parenting practices do NOT develop long-term good decision making, and they erode a parent-child relationship.

Take the lead from your kids and start with small steps. Rotate practicing one of the habits each week for three months. Write them out on index cards or 8 x 11 sheets as in the photo at left, and post them on your bathroom mirror as a reminder. They are deceptive simple, extremely effective and will bring results for tots-to-teens.

1. Have regular family meetings to connect, communicate, share the load of housework, empower children, and practice mutual respect. Set the goal of having them weekly, every-other-week or monthly. They create the foundation for everything you want your family and child to be.

2. Act don’t yak [Dr. Sam Goldstein]. This one habit can transform your family communication from horrendous to harmonious. Stop threatening, yelling and repeating. Say it ONCE and then take action. This applies to kids of all ages. Otherwise kids tune parents out and become mother-dear and father-deaf.

3. Be kind, firm and consistent. No one is perfect in this department. However, you can learn new language. “I’m sorry Brittany. I know you’d like to me to give you money to buy that XYZ. Remember at the family meeting we agreed that you would use your allowance to buy such things? I’m sure you can save up for it.”

4. Learn the art of encouragement, also known as constructive praise. GIVE UP using “I’m so proud of you,” which creates external motivation and can only be used after success. Start saying, “Well done! How do you feel about it?” “Look at what you did. Tell me about it.” Encouragement can be given after failure. Ask, “What did you learn?” “What would you differently next time?” Give them courage to try again and cultivate intrinsitic motivation.

5. Use natural and logical consequences that follow the three Rs-   Related, Reasonable and Respectful [Dr. Jane Nelsen]. Otherwise your kids will resort to the negative three Rs– Resentment, Rebellion and Revenge. These get uglier and more dangerous as children mature into teens and have more freedom.

See free tip sheets on encouragement, natural and logical consequences and family meetings, or order the book for reinforcement.

These positive parenting practices are built on a foundation of mutual respect — where everyone has rights and responsibilities and is treated with dignity. Mistakes are looked upon as opportunities to grow and learn NOT as reasons to punish. Accomplishments, pride and new skills belong to a young person — NOT to parents.

You can do it. Start small. Encourage yourself by noticing progress. Any progress is improvement. Comments always welcomed.