Archive for the ‘belonging’ category

Allow the opportunity for connection, exploration and “I’m bored

February 9, 2013

The weather outside is frightful today in New England. Many families are holed up. Some parents may be dreading a day of entertaining and refereeing the kids.

My suggestion is to treasure this day as an opportunity to connect. Spend some time together shoveling, making hot cocoa or cookies, or playing a game for a while. Get outside and revel in the snow together.

After spending some positive attention at a neutral time when the kids are not whining, fighting or complaining, go your separate ways and check in with them every hour or so. The younger they are the more frequently you check in.  Notice what they’re doing and offer encouragement by offering observations or asking questions. You can simply watch quietly and do not disturb a good thing.

Things might get worse before they discover the art of self-entertainment. Allow them to learn the joys of having a brother or sister. Boredom can lead to creativity. It is not parents’ job to solve a child’s lack of initiative. Encourage them by saying, “I’m sure you can find something to do.”

Remember the three steps to empower kids to self-entertain and avoid boredom:

1. Spend positive attention at a neutral time every day — at least 15 minutes. This type of connection can solve MANY larger behavioral issues.

2. Expect them to find something constructive to do independently. Allow them to do nothing and feel the stillness, even boredom. This is Zen! Do not solve complaints or bickering with TV or a video. Expecting them to find something to do will probably generate a mess. Allow it. Plan on spending time cleaning up together. The blanket forts, spilled flour, and toys spread all over the floor are evidence of creativity, initiative and cooperation (if you have more than one child).

3. Encourage their efforts in a quiet, low-key manner. Just watch silently.

As I tell my kids, YOU CAN DO IT.

 

A private parenting workshop in a book

June 8, 2012

Image of "raising able" a book on how chores empower children, toddlers, tweens and teens to be more responsible and develop self-discipline. This adlerian-based approach to good parenting will help parents of children of all ages. Good parenting is all about good habits. Family meetings and encouragement along with family dinner and family chores are the holy trinity of good parenting of all ages of children.If you haven’t read “Raising Able” yet, this review by Bookworm Mama might persuade you to pick it up, read highlights to your spouse, and create a positive parenting plan for summer.

If you’ve read it already, re-reading it will remind you of parenting habits that need attention.

When I learned new parenting skills, it took years and re-learning. “Oh yeah,” I’d say after a parenting workshop or re-reading a good parenting book. “I need to work on encouragement. Oops, we haven’t had a family meeting in a while.” It’s easy to slide. Parenting requires diligence.

Bookworm Mama said she wanted more examples from raising my four kids. I didn’t want to brag too much in the book. My best examples are my failures and wisdom gleaned. That’s what parents enjoy hearing when I speak at workshops and conferences, because it reminds us all how difficult parenting is, and no one is perfect. It’s too big a job to fail at.

I have my share of regret and guilt — even more so with four kids. Learning parenting skills changed MY habits and taught me positive ways to steer kids in the right direction, without begging, bribery, sarcasm, criticism, praise, reward or punishment. It took more time and creativity to use family meetings, encouragement, mutual respect and natural and logical consequences.

Today I have the long view and can realize what really matters — family dinner, family chores, family meetings, family walks in the woods with the dog, playing Spud in the yard, cooking together. Simple pleasures.

I gauge success by adult-to-adult relationship with my grown kids, ages 24-31, and with their partners — a new challenge!  They call home regularly, but not for money, and live independent lives. They are following their own paths, not one I dictated for them. What more can I ask for?

chores made our family connected. family chores were a daily part of growing up. Chores taught my kids self-discipline and nurtured their self-confidence and self discipline. Positive parenting gave my kids a sense of mutual respect.

Chores developed self-discipline in my kids. Working together gave them a sense of teamwork, taught them skills and gave us greater family connectivity — the name of the game to get kids to make good independent decisions as they mature.

Let kids feel the impact of their decisions at the mall

June 4, 2012
Tweens and teens love to go to the mall and hang out. A mall is an ideal hangout place for tweens and teens- mingle, mix, shop, eat, laugh, see and be seen. Tweens and teens live for the mall. Allow them that freedom and to learn to spend and shop within limits and their budget. Tweens and teens can learn the natural and logical consequences of their spending decisions.

Tweens and teens love to go to the mall independently. It’s a fairly safe venue to practice independence, spend wisely and have fun with their friends.

“Owen called from the mall and said, ‘Dad, would you bring me money?'” said a friend at a party, when parents kibbitz about our favorite subject — kids.”I had dropped him off at a friend’s house and didn’t know he was going to the mall. Now he wanted one of us to drive 20 miles each way to deliver the money. I said, ‘Hit your friends up for a loan.'”

Hurray to Dad for setting a boundary and encouraging his only child, age 13, to solve his problem and learn better planning. With an only child, it’s easy to fall into the trap of indulgence because you have the time and money, and want to avoid guilt, the parental poison.

It’s okay to say “No” and allow him to learn from poor planning. It falls under “natural consequences,” also known as “giving him enough rope to burn but not enough to hang.”

The little “burns” of an empty pocket and asking for a loan, teach tweens and teens to take responsibility and better manage their affairs.

Avoid undermining the lesson by saying, “I told you so.” Asking questions or I-messages will preserve the relationship. “I was surprised you were going to the mall. Did you know that was the plan?” Or, “My Dad taught me to always leave home with money in my pocket, just in case.”

Teens can revel in the the freedom of independence and the responsibility that goes with those first mall expeditions. It’s an excellent opportunity to make spending decisions, and find out which friends can be counted on to share their resources.

A true “natural consequence” means that parents do not have to interfere with one of the most powerful teaching tools. If needed, encourage kids by saying, “I bet you can solve that problem,” or  “Do you have any ideas?” or “Ask someone for a few bucks.”

You can do it. So can your kids.

How chores & family meetings have changed everything

May 14, 2012
This young girl is showing the value of family chores. She is washing windows. This task gives her connection to family, self esteem and self-discpline, all of which cannot be bought at K-Mart or Wal-Mart. Yes, it takes more time for mom to involve the kids. Yes, the kids won't do as good as a job. Yes, it requires family meetings and encouragement. it's worth the investment in your family.

Love the action in this photo as well as the reflection in the windows. Appearances can deceive. This 9-year-old is gaining self-confidence, skill, self-discipline, self-esteem and connection to her family.

This post is from a mom in Ireland who read “Raising Able: How Chores Empower Families” and began applying the practices with her two kids. 

Somebody tell Hallmark that we already had mother’s day. It was a few weeks back.

We started family meetings in January. We have had a weekly family meeting for three months. As a family, we have cleaned out the shed, scrubbed the carpet, and had a stall at a carboot sale [flea market]. The children have cleaned the bathroom, washed windows, hoovered, worked a huge amount on the dishwasher, washed the dogs, brushed the dogs, cooked frozen sausage rolls with no help, lit the fire, made firelighters, and swept the floor: All since we began chores.

This young man is hanging out damp laundry to dry. He is doing a green chore, which is common in Ireland. Such a simple chore for a child that brings complex benefits, such as self-esteem, self-confidence, skill, connection to family and self-discipline. These are priceless. All through family meetings, family chores and encouragement. Mom does the chores with the kids. that helps enormously.

Hanging out the laundry instead of hanging out with his friends brings priceless self-discipline and counteracts entitlement.

We have gone bowling, had lunch in various venues, made trips to the playground, played cute family games of hide and seek, become expert at Connect 4, and even camped for one night in April in Ireland.The children have learned to work together and to enjoy their jobs. It was a joy to see my son busy with the hoover [vacuum cleaner] and singing a song. He seems to particularly enjoy telling the boy next door that he can’t  come out now because he has his jobs to do!

My daughter is 9, and she had never really done chores before. I explained to her that I needed her help, and that she had to work for our family the same way as the rest of us do. She likes when I work with her. She now tells me more about her feelings and her life. She seems so much happier since we put her to work. She likes to tell me that other girls are princesses. We are not princesses, we are women who are useful and the dad in our house likes us just the way we are.

As a parent, family meetings are hard work. It is totally worth the trouble. We are so much more together as a family, and I wouldn’t have missed that game of hide and seek or seeing that baby lamb at the campsite, for all the tea in China. “Raising Able” has given me the ideas and skills to make memories my family will always cherish. Thank you Susan.

This little guy is making scones. His mother is allowing him to make a mess in the kitchen. This is how children learn to cook - by making a mess. Cooking is not a chore. Cooking is a fun exploration by combining ingredients. Let kids discover the joy and excitement and satisfaction of cooking for famil members. Start them cooking early and often. Do not baniish kids from the kitchen.

This little guy proves that cooking is not a chore. Combining ingredients and transforming them into something delicious is an adventure that brings pleasure to family members. It will require parents to allow kids to make a mess in the kitchen. Go with the flow!

Family dinner: drug & alcohol abuse prevention

June 28, 2011
pizza making former adolescent. Family dinner is the anti-drug. Family dinner prevents drug abuse, alcohol abuse and cigarette addiction. Family dinner is the best and most effective way to prevent drug abuse
Difficult children eventually grow up and become interesting. I have many “Ian” stories because he was so challenging. He was the third child born in 3.5 years, and has a younger sister. Ian is making pizza dough here. Making pizza together on Friday nights and watching a movie together was one of our family traditions.

I can still see Ian, above, then 17 years old, standing in the kitchen, looking down at me from his 6’2″ height, arguing in a tortured voice.
Ian: “Why do I have to eat family dinner?”
Me: “You must have dinner with us tonight.”
Ian: “It’s stupid.” Shakes hands and shoulders. Sighs.
Me: “It will only take 20 minutes. Then you can go out with your friends.” Some things are non-negotiable. Every fiber of my being sent the message that I was not going to budge from this expectation.
Ian: “I don’t see why I must have family dinner.” I give him the last word. No worries. He came to family dinner and got a dose of connection, values and love.
The primary reason to have family dinner:
Research  shows that regular family dinner (breakfast works, too) three or more times a week results in lower use of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes among teens and tweens.
Family dinner interrupts the time between 2 pm school dismissal and midnight, when junior operators must be off the road. So it limits the distance and trouble they can get into.
The worst trouble one of our teens ever got into was when that teen should have been home for family dinner. Bob and I had become permissive. We immediately got back on the family dinner track.
Our family made pizza together on many Friday nights and watched a G or PG-rated movie together. Everyone put toppings of their choice on a small pizza. By middle school, they could make and roll out the dough so it was a team effort. We all pitched in to clean up. My “kids” request pizza when they come home to visit and we share an enjoyable family dinner.
And Ian? When he celebrated his 26th birthday a few months ago, do you know what he served for a bunch of friends? A dozen homemade pizzas. As they devoured the delicious gourmet pizza, friends commented, “You MADE this? Man, this is really good!”
Get some pizza pans. Connect to your kids. Look how fast they’ve grown already. They will leave home — and this will make you happy. Family dinner reduces the likelihood they will stray towards drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. This will make you happier.

Families are all about connection

April 4, 2011
Relationships are the foundation of every family. Family meetings promote relationships, as does encouragement, mutual respect, natural and logical consequences, family dinner and family chores, according to "Alfred Adler." and "Rufolf Dreikurs." FAmilies depend on relationships. RElationships make the world go round. Parents have a huge responsibility to facilitate relationships among its members. A Big part of that is to put down the electronics and look at each other.

Kristen and Ian relive our weekly Friday night pizza tradition.

At left, Kristen and Ian are having fun with pizza dough during a visit home. Friday night pizza was part of our family tradition for many years.

Someone made the dough – me, one of them, or we purchased it. Everyone got to make their own personal pan pizza with their choice of toppings, including leftover bits of vegetables, cheese and meat. It’s a good way to clear out the fridge. After the pizza operation we watched a family movie together. We were connected, working as a team and satiated.

When my 20-somethings come home for a visit, they often request pizza for dinner. It’s a wonderful tradition that connects us. Research has shown that connection is one of the most vital gifts parents give children.

The challenge in parenting is to establish a connection based on mutual respect in which every member has rights and responsibilities.

In some families, parents have all the rights and responsibilities, and children have none. In other families, children have all the rights and none of the responsibilities. This is called entitlement.

Setting a positive family atmosphere depends on mutual respect, parents being kind, firm and friendly in setting limits, and having fun together. PAY ATTENTION to having fun together. Fun cements together the bricks of family meetings, family dinner, family chores, mutual respect and natural and logical consequences.

Family meetings, family chores and family dinner plant deep roots underground for your family tree to flourish and grow strong. Have them once a week, two or three times a month or once  a month, but have them. Always keep an open agenda on the fridge to place agenda items when issues arise.

Parents must model how to use the family meeting by placing items on the agenda and rotating the roles of facilitator and scribe. Make sure you take notes and save them for posterity. Kids have to be about 10 years old in order to be able to write fast enough to take notes. See my free tip sheet on family meetings. And have a family meeting this week, followed by family fun.

Money and kids

March 31, 2011
This flyer reflects how much initiative children can take to earn money. In my talk last night at the Cup and Top on "Adlerian Psychology" and "childhood chores" how to earn money was a hot topic. I had to explain that "allowances" are essential, and that allowances NOT be tied to chores. Chores develop self-discipline, "self-esteem" and teamwork. "Family meetings"  "family dinner" and "Family chores" are part of the three-legged stool that plants roots deep for the family

This flyer is posted every week at the Cup and Top Cafe in Florence, Mass. It's wonderful example that if children want to earn money they can get very creative and learn marketing skills, customer relations and initiative.

LOVE this poster from the bulletin board at the Cup and Top Cafe in Florence, Mass. [just west of Northampton, next to the famous Look Park that has a zoo and mini-railroad]. The Hilltown Parents sponsored me. What a fabulous friendly group. At least 25 moms and dads came out to hear about my favorite subject — CHORES!  We covered everything, starting with the holy trinity of family meeting – family dinner & family chores. These three activities form a lifelong bond for a family. Topped off with encouragement and allowing the child to discover the rules of the world and make mistakes without shaming or blaming, it’s a pretty good guide for parents.

Of course there was plenty of discussion about how to handle money. I realized that when kids are eager to earn money, they manipulate parents into paying them to do chores. Once the kids have earned the money, the interest in pitching in disappears, and the kids will always expect to be paid for doing those tasks.

My philosophy: if the kids want me to pay them for working around the house, they’ll have to pay me.

This scene happened in our house.

Mom: Noah, time to empty the dishwasher before dinner!

Noah, age 8: Mom, would you pay me to empty the dishwasher?

Mom: Sure, Noah. I’ll pay you $3. But dinner is $5.

There are other problems with paying kids for chores. It teaches them you can use money to manipulate people. Money is THE lowest motivator to do ANYTHING. In fact, many research studies have proven that rewarding kids is the fastest way to insure they lose interest in a task.

In the famous magic marker study, the kids who were rewarded for drawing with magic markers quickly lost interest. Those in the control group kept using the markers and getting more creative.

Sadly, we live in a world structured around reward, punishment and praise. Changing paradigms is tough. It can be done at home.

And YES – doing housework yourself is always easier, faster and better. And YES – doing it all yourself makes you the house servant and denies your child a valuable opportunity to learn self-discipline and experience teamwork, connection to family and self-esteem.

The holy trinity of family meetings-dinner-chores plants deep roots that provide the foundation for a long-lasting and beautiful family tree.