Archive for March 2012

Power-sharing can defuse conflict in families

March 26, 2012
tweens, teens, school age, toddlers and preschoolers all need the experience of feeling powerful. Parents must learn to share power through "family meetings" "encouragement' and "mutual respect" as well as natural and  logical consequences. Power balance is important. Use chores for positive power. Avoid power struggles. there are no winners or losers, only competetitors.

Giving kids a little leeway can go a long way to make peace at home. Instead of scolding my kids for being on top of our van, I got out the camera. Children develop personal power when they can take risks, have fun and occasionally break the rules in life.

Here are some excerpts from a letter from a mother in Ireland who read my book and implemented many of the practices and an attitude of mutual respect. I added emphasis.

“Eating was a particular problem for my daughter. She is 9 years old and tiny. I, too, was a small child. Some days she did not eat enough and was hungry and angry. This was a huge worry because she is really into fashion and her paternal grandmother is depressed.

“I realize now that I was bullying my daughter and not eating my food was the only way she had of showing me her power. …She is enjoying her food without need for any further intervention. …

“I asked her early on after reading your book “Which is better, to be loved, or to be loved and needed?”

“She answered that it is better to be loved and needed. She enjoys the chores and we have bonded in a new way while cleaning the bathroom. I do the toilet and she does the bath and sink. I admire her work and she enjoys working with me.

“If I had been thinking about it until doomsday, it would never have occurred to me that this is how my daughter wanted to spend time with me. Your book gave me the idea of helping and my husband has used this stunt since then to get the kids working. They have clean bath and sink on their chore list from the meeting and when we work with them it makes it into a prestige job.

“I don’t know why it works, but it does. Prestige jobs and doing something unique to you are some of the best points in your book, I think.”

This letter blew me away because it connects the lack of personal power — a core issue around anorexia, and how to create personal power through chores. We are such flock animals, that we seek prestige any way possible, including by cleaning the toilet.

I hated sharing power with my kids. I wanted to do it MY WAY!  I didn’t like backing down from power struggles and feeling like I lost. I learned to quit showing up on the battlefield and occasionally let kids climb on the van with the hose. Some parents go to the opposite extreme and kids live on top of the van with the hose. This is too much power.

Find a happy medium to share power through mutual respect, trust a child to make decisions, listen to them during family meetings, do family chores together, and use encouragement.

Investing the time and attention in this will bring results. Parenting is not cheap or easy. It is worth the effort because it’s good for everyone.

The Hunger Games

March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games

Parents have a tough decision on whether or not to allow tweens to view “The Hunger Games.”

From Judy Arnal, a fellow parenting educator from Calgary, Canada.

Tips for parents of children watching The Hunger Games Movie

Ideally, see the movie before your child does! However, if attending a midnight movie is not on your fun list, at least be present for processing this weekend!

Talk to your child about the movie – what did she like, dislike?

Ask your child to draw pictures of what she thought of the movie. Give her plain paper, markers and don’t judge. Accept all responses.

Temperament matters more than age. If your child is sensitive and empathiseswith other children, re-consider if this movie is appropriate.

Realize that reading the books is different from watching the images. Reading allows a child’s imagination to interpret the scenes according to their experiences. Watching a movie forces a child to accept an adult’s interpretation of the scenes which can be much more intense and frightening.

Gauge your child’s ability to handle complex subject matter. The onset of puberty allows children the ability to handle abstract thinking and examine the grey areas of right and wrong. Pre-teens are not able to think critically yet, and see things in absolutes or black and white. This is the reason for the PG14 rating.

–Judy Arnall, the Professional Parent

From Raising Able

Talking about “The Hunger Games” and getting them to write and draw about it will reduce the impact of those powerful images. Read the book, too. The book is always better than the movie. It’s one of those books that tweens, teens and parents can read together and talk about.

Difficult children respond to encouragement

March 19, 2012
Difficult children are often more intelligent. LEarning encouragement and positive psychology saved my relationship with ian. he is creative. Difficult children are often more creative and intuitive. Parenting is about learning to love children even when they are difficult.

Ian, 3, with his favorite dinosaur. Today at age 27, Ian teaches kite-boarding, is an organic farmer, and can play five instruments, including the fiddle, which he taught himself to play.

My son Ian was the third of our four children, born in just under seven years. At age 2, he was difficult: stubborn, vocal and committed to get what he wanted. I didn’t like him much.At seminars today, I describe Impossible Ian, how encouragement transformed our relationship, and how you, too, can learn the art of encouragement.

Another term for encouragement is “positive psychology,” pioneered by authors Martin E.P. Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

This book is about how to have a positive outlook on life without drugs and therapy. It will help you with parenting and work and love. I'm listening to it on cd, and love his approach. It's all about love and logic, adlerian, parenting tips, parenting advice."Martin E.P. Seligman" "Mihaly-Csikszentmihalyi" optimal experiences, flow, positive psychology, encouragement, family meetings, power of language, discipline, parenting: about,

"Flourish" by Martin E.P. Seligman is worth reading. I'm listening to it as a recorded book.

In “Flourish” Seligman presents research that shows positive comments must outnumber negative remarks by 3-to-1 for a company to succeed. For a marriage to succeed, the ratio must be a mind-boggling 5-to-1.If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it!

I teach parents to say something nice that will get kids to learn good judgment, the cause-and-effect of behavior choices, and nurture the parent-child connection.

The first task is to give up praise. I know this is heresy because Americans  give everyone a trophy for breathing so their precious self-esteem won’t suffer. This leads to what I call self-excess-teem, and young people with no work ethic because they want a standing ovation for showing up.

Here’s a comparison between praise and encouragement devised by parents in a workshop last week. You can see which one wins.

Encouragement might feel awkward at first. Practice self-encouragement — notice what you’re doing well — to get past the awkward stage. Remember it takes three weeks to establish a habit. This is a fun habit to learn that is useful for everyone in your life.

Praise                                             Encouragement

Similar to candy                                Similar to an apple

General                                               Specific

Given after success only                  Given anytime, including after failure

About how adults think/do/feel    About how children think/do/feel

Creates external motivation           Creates internal motivation

Hollow, insincere                              Authentic, descriptive

Promotes unrealistic self-beliefs   Nurtures genuine self-esteem

Obedience is the goal                       Questions actions/beliefs/authority

Patronizing                                         Respectful

High energy, excited                         Low-key, balanced

Exaggerated                                        True

Celebrates accomplishment only   Notices efforts made and progress

Highly verbal                                      Can be silent

What’s your encouragement score today with your kids and your spouse? Have authentic positive statements outweighed the negative? You can do it 🙂 And enjoy using encouragement. Start with yourself.

Barbie Dolls, toy guns and the cocoon

March 12, 2012
The writing on this poster made by the Body Shop to raise money to eradicate violence against women reads, "There are 3 billion women who don't look like supermodels and only 8 who do." Mattel sued The Body Shop and forced them to stop selling this poster.

The writing says, "There are 3 billion women who don't look like supermodels and only 8 who do." Mattel sued The Body Shop and forced them to stop selling this poster intended to raise money to end violence against women.

My pledge to ban Barbies lasted until my oldest, Casey was 2.5 years old and the landlady of a vacation rental gave her Barbie doll abandoned by a previous tenant. Casey fell in love with the plastic icon of everything I didn’t want her to be: a sparkly, skinny-to-a-fault, sex object. It launched a sickening decade-long investment in all things Barbie.

Had I snatched the toy from Casey’s little hands or banned toy guns from our toy chest, I would’ve created forbidden fruits. Instead, I put up the poster at left, in our family room over where Casey and her sister Kristen played Barbies for hours. We talked about gun control and weapons and kept no real guns. I helped gussy-up the girls like Barbie dolls for prom nights, even though that racket contradicted my principles.

Sometimes moms have to go with the flow and relinquish control. Our protective cocoon starts breaking apart from birth on, when land-ladies, relatives, friends and society start giving gifts of Barbies and toy guns. Ban guns and your kids will make guns out of sticks and Legos and grab every gun at their friends’ houses.

Why? Because guns, like Barbies, epitomize power in our culture. Our kids need to play around with that power so they’re comfortable with it, whether they reject or accept what goes with it. Barbies don’t cause anorexia Families ought to pay more attention to how they handle power and beauty instead of a plastic toy doll.

Have a family meeting, give your kids the opportunity to run them regularly, encourage them to speak up. Listen to what they say and implement their ideas. This will empower them more than shooting a gun or showing their cleavage to the world. Give girls the gift of being seen, heard and respected for who they are, not how they look.

The owner of this ankle LOVED to play with barbies and still loves to get dressed up. She does not suffer from anorexia and has a very positive body image.

The owner of this ankle damaged by playing floor hockey LOVED to play with Barbies and still loves to get dressed up.

Instead of perpetuating an artificial cocoon without sexist toys, weapons, knives, scissors and fire, it’s far better to allow our kids to experience them and make their own decisions. They will eventually do that — no matter what we say, and more importantly, what we do.

Casey is the unicorn -- a costume she made. Visit her blog at http://smazzle.blogspot.com/

They need venues and toys to act out what they observe in the adult world — full of warfare, highly sexualized women and men in a consumer culture. Their only crime is reflecting us and the world we inhabit and perpetuate, and we don’t like it.

Kristen became an artist. Some of her work contradicts the image of woman in society. I love that she’s comfortable enough with Barbie images to use them in her work.

That’s a hammer Kristen is swinging in this performance art.

FREE talk by Dr. Ned Hallowell Monday, 3/12/12 in Westford

March 8, 2012
"Dr. Ned Hallowell" and ADD expert, will speak on this book he wrote, "The childhood roots of adult happiness" in Westford, Mass. on March 12. he is worth hearing.

"Dr. Ned Hallowell" will share a great deal of insight about positive parenting and what parenting is all about -- slowing down and taking the time to be with children instead of constantly rushing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell is speaking in Westford next Monday night, March 12. He has written several books on ADD and ADHD. My favorite book he has written is “The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness.”I LOVED this book. I heard Dr. Hallowell speak in fall 2010 in Ayer, and he shared many good stories, insight, and advice with humility and humor.

Whether or not you have read any of his books, this talk is worth hearing. You will come away with some good ideas about how to be a better mother or father.

The Westford Parent Connection is sponsoring the free event – The Distracted Family: Overstretched, Overbooked, And About To Snap at The Westford Academy Performing Arts Center, 30 Patten Road, Westford, MA  7:00-9:00 pm.

For more information go to: http://www.westford.com/wpc/events.htm or to www.drhallowell.com.

How long can the cocoon last?

March 5, 2012
empowering children, when to have a knife? how safe is safe. Keeping kids safe. Chores, discipline, how to decide, using family meetings and encouragement for toddlers, tweens, teens and school age

Bree is cutting cantaloupe with a very sharp knife. At what age should children be given knives to use?

This picture caused a stir among the workshop room full of parents, day care providers and child-health professionals at a conference I presented at in February in Rhode Island.Comments included: “Just looking at that knife makes me nervous!”

“I’d never let my preschooler have a sharp knife.”

“Is she standing on a stool?

Later, I called my nephew Sean, father of knife-wielding-3-year-old-Bree and reported the women’s response. The audience was female except for one man, who didn’t object. Sean chuckled and said, “Some of my friends’ kids live in a safety cocoon. They never touch knives, scissors or fire.”

Wow. Why deprive children learning about the power of knives, scissors and fire under a parent’s guiding hand? They must live in a sterile bubble where parents hover, ensuring Junior never encounters danger, challenge or failure.

One of the best things we can do for our children is to let them play with knives, scissors and fire — talking about and taking safety measures, teaching how to use knives and matches safely, and how to operate kitchen appliances and basement tools.

I remember the intense heat of a huge campfire my brother Danny built on a camping trip when he was 17 years old and I was 12. The four of us kids compared all subsequent campfires to that glorious blaze, created with our parents nearby, silently watching. Danny, Mary, Brian and I worked as a team to gather wood, stoke it up and make a bed of coals that lasted until morning.

When another nephew and niece visited our home a few years ago at age 16 and 11, they lamented the ban on fires at the summer community on the Chesapeake Bay. I gave them permission to build a fire on our waterfront, and they were thrilled. Fire, knives and scissor have power.

Kids need practice at living life. Practice includes risk and sharp objects and gaining confidence and competence that “I can do it.” When we make too many decisions for our children, protect them from all things lethal, and intervene when hazards lurk, how will they learn what it feels like to hold a knife and use it responsibly?

What do you think? Are your kids allowed to build a fire in the backyard, cut cantaloupe with a knife, and play with matches and candles while you’re around? How do you handle danger?

Source: www.bestautolenders.com