Archive for the ‘boundaries’ category

Why Choose Unisex Clothing – Guest post by Jenni

July 1, 2014

The benefits of genderless apparel on the general well-being of children

children's clothing can be gender neutral

Some rights reserved, tippi t via Flickr Creative Commons

It’s a sad reality that we now live in a world where parents now believe it’s acceptable to spend thousands of dollars on their children’s wardrobes. Sometimes mothers even end up spending as much as $170 on a single item of clothing that their kids will soon outgrow anyway, while they themselves end up scrimping on their own wardrobes, and even feeling bad about purchases for themselves.
There’s also a worrying trend emerging: parents dressing their kids to look like miniature adults – stylish, hip, and fashionable. But while it may seem tempting to dress our kids in the latest trends, is it really what’s best for them? Should LBDs become the next priority purchase for little girls, and high-cut sweaters for little boys? Or should responsible parents, in fact, start turning to something much more practical, like unisex clothing?
Cultivating a Culture of “Letting Children Be Children”
Katie Holmes often came under attack for letting her daughter Suri dress in clothes that seemed to be inappropriate for her age, wearing makeup and heels while she strutted down New York City streets. But the reality is that playing dress up is a long-established form of childhood play, and as long as children aren’t dressing in wildly inappropriate clothing or putting themselves at risk for hypo- or hyperthermia, then we should let them be.

Conversely, Angelina Jolie also received some backlash for letting her daughter Shiloh dress like a boy. “She likes tracksuits, she likes [regular] suits. She likes to dress like a boy,” she told Vanity Fair magazine. “She wants to be a boy. So we had to cut her hair. She likes to wear boys’ everything. She thinks she’s one of the brothers.” But this problem isn’t exclusive to girls either. Earlier this year, news broke out about a little boy who was taunted for wanting to dress like Sleeping Beauty for a schoolmate’s birthday party. Often, we end up imposing our own set of rules to our children, and forcing them to dress in what we think is appropriate.

This, however, shouldn’t be the case. Instead of basing our decisions for what our kids should wear on current trends, unisex children’s clothing designer Katie Pietrasik, founder of Tootsa MacGinty, tells Wales Online that decisions should be made based on the idea that “Clothes for children should be built for sturdier purposes than the changing vagaries of style – to be passed from sibling to sibling, or friend to friend regardless of gender.” As Clutch Magazine is quick to point out, while it’s nice to play dress up and photograph kids wearing stylish clothing, we have to ask ourselves, “are these outfits practical for everyday kiddie life?”

Unlike designer brands, unisex clothing is made with children’s lifestyles in mind. Comfort and practicality are key to unisex brands, allowing children to dress in appropriate styles, and still climb trees and play in jungle gyms. Rather than imposing stereotypes like “girls should sit at tea parties and play with dolls” and “boys should be little monsters”, unisex clothing encourages them to be themselves, and play at their own comfort levels. A child dressed to the nines in skinny jeans, a cropped top, or a little black dress may feel too intimidated to play at recess lest they dirty their clothes, but a child dressed in unisex clothing will feel confident enough to take on any and all of the day’s activities.

Let’s not forget that one of the most important things to remember when trying to build confidence in our kids is to let them make their own decisions. Sometimes, this could mean something as simple as letting them dress themselves, as Katie Holmes has often done with Suri. While her struggles with making sure that Suri dresses in clothing appropriate for the weather is all too real, investing in unisex clothing keeps these incidents to a minimum. Unisex clothing is easy to mix and match, and key pieces can be worn at all seasons. With items being made from quality, sturdy material, and most of them even being made to be adjustable to adapt to growth spurts, spending $170 on one outfit for our kids should soon be a thing of the past.

WrittenbyJenni

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Kids fighting: Let them work it out

June 11, 2012
Sibling rivalry is a time honored tradition and challenge for parents. When kids fight they are learning so much. Letting kids fight and sibling rivarly roar is the best way to let kids learn how to get along. Sibling rivalry is right with lessons. My kids fighting taught them valuable lessons.

Sometimes my kids needed a boxing ring to work out the challenges.

Kids fighting is a common complaints from parents. Here’s a story from a reader who solved it by letting her two kids work it out. Their ages are irrelevant. What matters is Mom’s calm encouraging approach.”Cora needed new clothes, and Joe didn’t want to go shopping. We had a day off (from school), so it was convenient. We went to to three shops, and Joe ate the chocolate bars I had in my bag, drank the water and was super-patient.

“Afterwards, Cora wanted to go to the shoe shop, but Joe was fed up. I told her that she would have to convince him to go herself. They had a private tete-a-tete, and the next minute they both started walking towards the shoe shop.

“I asked them how that happened, and they told me that they agreed that he could look in the toy shop as long as he liked after we went to the shoe shop.

“We went home happy with three bags of clothes, sensible shoes and no fights. What more could a parent ask? They have learned to see the other guy’s point of view and to work on the individual they need to change. They both seem to have twigged (British slang for understand) that I never wanted to be the big boss, I just go along and advise and drive the car and don’t want to be the referee all the time.

“When we got home it turned out that Cora also said to Joe ‘If you go to the shoe shop, I’ll tell you where the switch is on the router.’ This has irked Joe for ages.”

What worked: Mom encouraged, expected and empowered them to work it out. Mom respected Joe’s tolerance. Brother and sister will be closer and get along better now and in the future. Having a sibling includes rivalry and learning to work it out. By solving their problems, they become resilient, creative, confident, capable and develop “people skills.”

Email me your challenging situations — that you’ve solved or would like an a Raising Able /Adlerian suggestion for. I love to solve parenting challenges! Tell me what is driving you crazy — susan [at] susantordella [dot] net.

The long-term benefits of family meetings

February 20, 2012
Here Ian is shovelling snow, an excellent activity for a 20-something who lives at home. Adults who live at home can be expected to pitch in. Use family meetings to stay in contact, set expectations and encourage each other. Mutual respect is key to discipline for teens, tweens, school age and toddlers

Ian shovels snow -- when we had some last winter -- during a long visit. Family meetings are key to setting expectations and open communication with "kids" of all ages.

My son Ian, 27, left, has no health insurance. We’ve had several discussions about the merits of health insurance.

During his last visit home, he said calmly, “Mom, I don’t want to talk about health insurance any more. I have decided to pay later instead of paying before.”

I listened. I didn’t like it. I heeded his boundary, set respectfully. I was grateful that he told me, instead of calling his girlfriend and complaining, “My mother won’t get off my case about health insurance! I can’t wait to leave.”

I credit our tradition of family meetings for Ian’s ability to respectfully communicate his feelings to me.

When I ask parents to list the attributes they want their children to develop, the list usually looks like this. Happy. Have good friends. Good social skills. Have a good job. Good relationship with me. Confident, capable. Don’t abuse substances. Find work they enjoy. Good self-esteem. Live independently and not in my basement.

I guarantee that family meetings will provide the foundation for every one of those attributes. Family meetings are the most effective discipline method  for toddlers, school-age, tweens, teens and young adults.

Notice I didn’t say “speediest” or “easiest.” Discipline means to teach. Family  meetings teach children the skills, attitudes and attributes we want them to absorb and use for life.

Read the attached notes from a first Family meeting held by a single parent and her two daughters, ages 13 and 10. Their agenda is on the second page. They held the meeting at 8:30 am on a Sunday morning, the time the 13-year-old agreed to in advance.

Here’s what worked about their first family meeting.

  • Mom asked what time they wanted to hold the family meeting, and then followed through even though the 13-year-old was lying on the couch during the meeting. (Teens can’t been seen as too cooperative.)
  • Mom posted the agenda in advance, which gave the kids time to post items, such as “Star Wars symposium outfit for Johanna.”
  • Johanna also posted, “Spend more activities together.”
  • Mom didn’t overload the agenda with problems and demands. She started small.
  • Mom followed the format. Someone took notes to keep for posterity, (humor later on), and to record their agreements. They had a snack and family fun.

Two big wins: Johanna posted two items; the 13-year-old showed up. It’s easier to set up the habit of family meetings when kids are 3 to 12 years old.

Kids will want to come to the meetings when they have a turn to run the meetings, there’s a snack, and family fun. Fun is like a magnet for kids, and long-term family glue.

You can do it. Family meetings reap huge rewards forever. They are worth the time and effort. See my tip sheet on how to get started and read about them in my book “Raising Able.”

Help! My child is the bully!

November 28, 2011
setting limits for kids who are out of control. Discipline is about relating their behavior to children's and teen's decisions. Good parenting and positive parenting are about being kind firm and consistent. Parents can encourage accountability to children by using this book. Schools can encourage misbehaving kids who are discipline problems by reading the book "Schools where everyone belongs" by Stan Davis and Julia Davis. School bullies can learn to change their behavior when principals use this book. Bullying can be ended at schools by "Schools where everyone belongs."
This book has ideas for educators and parents for children who are regularly  in trouble at school.

Perhaps you saw it over Thanksgiving — a child running wild with no limits set by parents. Perhaps it was your kid who was out of control and you feel guilty, ashamed and don’t know where to turn.

Positive parenting can be learned. It’s all about how we set a limit and let children make their own decisions. I really like the approach in”Schools Where Everyone Belongs,” by Stan Davis, with his daughter Julia Davis, who write about how to eliminate bullying behavior at schools. They emphasize the power of encouragement, guiding children to write and reflect on how their behavior impacts others, the importance of adults keeping a positive and neutral tone, and how to come up with a plan for adults and children.

For example, when a kid is sent to the office and avoids taking responsibility for his/her behavior, the adult in charge asks, “What did you do?” and “What was wrong with that?” Kids don’t always own up to their behavior. If kids are reluctant to acknowledge what they did in the “reflection room,”  the adult can say, “Are you saying you’re not ready to do this today? You can do it in detention tomorrow instead.”

This approach is so much more effective and respectful than pronouncing, “I’m giving you another detention tomorrow!” which will come across as punishment, and can lead to resentment, rebellion and revenge. And you still haven’t achieved your goal of guiding the child to make better decisions.

Parents can learn from this constructive approach to better manage our emotions [usually anger and frustration] and to empower children to make choices and live with the outcome.

Maybe your child is the bully. This book will give you great ideas on how to handle him/her at home, what questions to ask to encourage reflection, and what you can say and do. Bullies are usually regular visitors to the school principal, so buy this book and give it to your kids’ school principal.

FREE talk tonight at West Elementary in Andover, MA

November 16, 2011

Come for a free talk on positive parenting 7:30 pm, West Elementary School, 58 Beacon St. in Andover, Mass., sponsored by the Andover townwide PTA.

The focus is how chores teach self discipline, nurture self esteem and strenthen the parent-child connection for life. Hear more about encouragement, family meetings, mutual respect and natural and logical consequences.

You will go home with some new ideas and reminders about creating and maintaining positive parenting practices.

Bring friends!

Sibling rivalry? Let it rip.

November 7, 2011
Sibling rivalry is a fact of life. Doing chores together is one way to learn to get along. Not interfering in their arguments is another way to deal with sibling rivalry. you can teach siblings to get along with going crazy. Sibling rivalry is part of family life that teaches children about relationships and life, and themselves.

There are a lot of relationships in this group. My parents are in the middle, surrounded by their eight surviving children and their spouses and children. More children equals more rivalry. I'm in the maroon dress seated, second from the left.

If you have more than one child, sibling rivalry is usually one of your biggest challenges, and the best way for kids to learn to get along with people in the world. Disagreements, jealousy and wrongs are committed among people all the time. The question is, how to resolve them?

An adult friend who is an only child said she hated fighting with her friends “because they always had the option of going home. If you have siblings, they can’t go anywhere. You have to work it out eventually,” she said.

Your kids’ relationship will provide the foundation for the most difficult and rewarding relationships of their lives. Sound familiar? Getting along with siblings is preparation for marriage and work.

The more parents take sides and punish for sibling rivalry, the worse it will become because the kids will use it as a way to manipulate parents. They’re still learning from that, too!

Here are some techniques to encourage them to get along.

1. Put them all in the same boat. Fighting over a toy? Remove the toy. Then encourage them:  “You can have it back when you’re ready to figure out how to take turns/share.”
2. Get them to sit down in two chairs, knees touching, looking at each other. Ask questions. “What’s the problem? Who has an idea on how to solve it?”
3. Take all fights outside or to basement –because audiences make fighting better. Cold weather makes short fights.
4. Make sure your kids are getting sufficient attention from you at neutral times so they’re not using sibling rivalry to get negative attention.
5. Don’t feel sorry for younger and weaker siblings. They have excellent defense and offense tactics. They can also learn the valuable lesson that annoying bigger and older people can result in pain.
6. Use a confident voice and body language when saying, “You  can do it. I know you can work it out.” Then walk away.
7. Put the conflict on the family meeting agenda. This “parks it” for a while and allows time to come up with reasonable solutions. Get locks for doors, put toys out of reach, take responsibility for putting your special stuff away. Etc.  free tip sheet on family meetings at www.raisingable.com
8. Some problems never go away until childhood goes away. This is life & parenthood. They will grow up and leave home. When you allow them to work it out, they grow closer.

Is my child deaf?

October 3, 2011
These boys are under water and can't hear their parents. They have become mother deaf. "My kids won't listen" is a common complaint of parents. Part of discipline and disciplining is to teach children how to listen. This means you must ACT not YAK . The more you yak, the less they listen. If you do not follow througn in a kind, firm friendly and immediate manner, you will train your child NOT to listen. This is a parental problem.
These boys really can’t hear what their parents are saying.

“My child doesn’t listen” is the most common complaint I’m hearing during my fall parenting skills workshops. One parent described it brilliantly when she said, “It’s like I’m not even here. I’m invisible.”

The good news is that this situation can be changed. You can restore your child’s hearing abilities.
The bad news? Mom and Dad have trained the child to be parent-deaf. As with many discipline issues, the problem is the parent. Trust me, I’ve been the guilty party a hundred times and had to change MY behavior. Then the kids change.  As you know, we cannot change them. We can only change ourselves.

Here’s the roadmap on how to eliminate parent-deafness.
1. Start with awareness and determine what is most important. Notice I didn’t say, “Choose your battles.” This sets the stage for power struggles. They are ugly, trust me, I’ve been in enough of them.
2. When you say something to your child, get his attention. Look him in the eye. Say it once. Do not repeat it. Make sure what you are saying is worth following up on. If he doesn’t respond, ask, “Did you hear what I said?”
If he says “What?” to everything you say, he might have the “what disease.” Then you need a pretend vaccination against it. Give it to him, right in the arm, with humor. Say “I’m vaccinating you against the ‘what disease.'” From then on, whenever he says “What?” say, “I think you heard me.” or “What do you think I said?” or ask, “Do the vaccination wear off? Do you need a booster?” Then grab him close, laughing, and give him another what-disease shot in the arm.
3. If your child has heard you and chooses not to respond, you must ACT not YAK. (Thanks to Dr. Sam Goldstein for the brilliant Act Don’t Yak.) Do not repeat what you said unless you want to continue to train her to ignore what you say.
Can you see how it is imperative to follow through immediately by acting? Make sure you are kind, firm and immediate. You will have to get up, interrupt what you’re doing and prove you mean business.
Here are some examples.
1. “Pick up your toys.” If you have kids under 24 years old, get used to picking up. The younger they are, the more you will have to act by picking up with them. Endless picking up is a fact of raising kids. It is not fair. Get rid of some toys or rotate bags of toys to the attic. Yakking, “Clean up your room” is like saying to you, “Go clean up K-Mart.” Where do you start?
2. “Go brush your teeth and get ready for bed.” Most normal children will ignore this. You must ACT and do it with them. Establish a bedtime routine where you are with them every step of the way, which also insures they will stay in bed.
3. “Get ready for school!” You can only take preventative action on this one by preparing a plan. Talk about the morning routine at a family meeting. Read my free e-book “Are you ready yet?” After educating them on how to take responsibility in the morning for getting ready on time, have an ACTion plan. Have your little diva choose her clothes the night before. Be ready  to go out to the car with her clothes in a bag if she is not ready at the agreed upon time. She will inevitably choose the coldest wettest day of the year to test your resolve.
Parenting is not for the faint-hearted. Parent-deafness can be deadly. Start with awareness and begin the new training today. Allow three weeks to three months to develop a new habit. You can do it.