Archive for the ‘enjoy not endure your kids’ category

Savor the next few days

November 23, 2011

The following came from Tracy Harrison’s e-newsletter on wellness As you can see, Tracy takes a positive approach to healthy eating. To her sage words, I add: have patience with your kids and teens in the next few days. Remember you’re their greatest teacher, your greatest tool is your example. Set kind, firm and fair boundaries that relate to the present moment and you’ll all feel better, with no need to yell and apologize later. Manage your emotions for a harmonious holiday.

From Tracy:

This holiday season, I invite you to explore the lost art of savoring.  Actually seeing and then relishing the things in your life that you appreciate.  Whether it’s a particularly delicious bowl of soup.  Or a hug and a charming smile from a little one.  The kind nature of a coworker.  Some spectacularly comfortable pajamas.  The stranger who lets you know your car headlights aren’t on yet.  An energizing hot shower on a cold morning.  The reassuring touch of a friend who truly hears your story.  The fact that your car cranks on the first turn – every time.  A warm cat who snuggles in your lap.

We have so much to be grateful for – to savor, to celebrate.  Use this time of Thanksgiving to actually SEE in your life the things you usually zoom through and take for granted.  Pause.  Smile.  Allow gratitude to well up in you.  Send that Thank You card you’ve been meaning to put in the mail for months.  Slow down and truly savor your Thanksgiving feast, like it’s your last meal.  Hug your spouse like it’s the last time you can.

Live on purpose.  Make your moments matter.

Thanks Tracy. Subscribe to her newsletter here: http://www.eatonpurpose.com/.

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Mirror mirror on the wall

June 9, 2011
Parents are about the only people responsible for their child's behavior. Their children mirror back their parenting style. The most effective way to solve a discipline problem for a toddler, preschooler, school age, child, tween or teen or teenager is to change the parents behavior. My book Raising Able will give many great ideas on how to solve common discipline problems, which usually stem from the parents.
When our three little children reflected our poor parenting skills, it was motivation to learn positive parenting skills. I found out that I WAS THE PROBLEM .

Do you have a problem child? A difficult discipline problem? A toddler, child, tween or teenager who regularly challenges, aggravates and frustrates you?

I can relate. I had three children in 3.5 years and I yelled at, sometimes hit and often punished them and STILL didn’t get the results I wanted.

Then I found out about parenting support groups and joined one. And then another one. I kept going until I began to lead of parenting groups. We teach what we most need to learn. I learned I was the problem — not my kids! I had to learn different ways to respond to them. It took time, attention and effort — that were worth the investment. Workshops are also fun!

Experts agree.  The most effective way to change a child’s behavior is to change the parent. See this article: http://www.washington.edu/news/archive/uweek/18654

If you have problems with your child’s behavior, then you — mom, dad, whoever is raising the child — must learn to be consistent, show mutual respect and to act, not yak about setting kind and firm limits. Take time to invest in your family’s future with family dinner, family meetings and family chores. Learn how to deal with morning and bedtime routines, homework, sibling rivalry, tantrums, mealtime, power struggles and more.

The best way to improve your child’s behavior is to improve yours. You can read a book — I have one for sale. You can take a course. A
4-week parenting skills course starts tonight — Thursday, June 9, 2011 at Roudenbush Community Center in Westford, Mass. from 7-9 pm. It could change your life . Come tonight for the introduction, no charge, no obligation. If you like it, sign up. Hope to see you there.

If you can’t come, contact me for phone coaching or at your home in the Boston area. Parenting is THE most important — and difficult — task most of us will do in our lifetimes. You can learn to manage your child’s behavior by changing how YOU set limits, follow through, and establish a democratic family where parents and children have rights.

How to manage carnal emotions & behavior

May 23, 2011
The best way to discipline toddlers, teens, school age and tweens and children is to change your behavior. You cannot change their bevhavior. Spanking, yelling, threatening, and getting angry are fruitless. Children respond to kindness, firmness, love and consistency. They're very hard to provide. "Alfred Adler" "Jane Nelsen" and "Love and Logic" all say to give plenty of love and to change YOUR BEHAVIOR. Parenting is about being a behavior manager. Start by managing your behavior
The family dog Gonzo and her biggest fan, Kristen, share a moment of unconditional love. Managing a pet’s behavior is a lot like managing children’s behavior.

One of my favorite reminders is this: manage your emotions.  Easy to say, hard to do, especially when our children know how to push our emotional buttons.

The art of management is to get other creatures to do what you want them to do. HOW you do this depends on your style.
An article in the Boston Globe’s G section May 21 about cats, which are notoriously hard to manage, led with the headline, “You may think your cat’s the problem, but maybe it’s you.”
SO TRUE!  The excellent article gives five ways to manage your cat’s behavior that will help parents to manage their behavior and emotions so they’re more consistent and less frustrated.
1. Have fun together.  I’m not sure how cat owners can hunt, catch and kill with their owners. However, parents can transform their relationship with their children by investing five to 15 minutes a day of positive time with their children, with no electronics, nagging, or criticism.
2. Get the cat a Netflix subscription to give her something to do when you’re not around. Watching movies together can be good family time, although I prefer more interactive and active ways to enjoy being together.
3. Serve meals. “Cats thrive on the daily ritual of meals.” So do humans. Have family dinner or breakfast together as many days of the week as possible. Research shows kids with more family dinners have less drug, alcohol and tobacco use. They’re more connected to their families, the single most effective way to manage your offspring to do what you want them to do.
4. Be positive. “Your can always say ‘no’ but there has to be a ‘yes’ directly behind it,” says cat behavior expert Jackson Galaxy of Animal Planet. Kids need parents to say “NO” to set boundaries so they feel safe. Don’t feel guilty about it or the need to follow it with a  “YES.” Kind, firm and consistent boundaries are a gift and a parental obligation. It’s the verbal put-downs, threats, sarcasm, whining, nagging and criticism from parents that erode the relationship. Parents must manage their emotions, thoughts, words and deeds around their children. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all.
5. Understand your cat. This is critical for the parent-child relationship. Don’t expect too much or too little from your children. They will rise or sink to your expectations. This is where reading books, parenting skills groups and super nanny coaching can help. I can help you with all three 🙂
Parenting skills groups, books and other mothers helped me manage my emotions and children so motherhood became a joy and challenge, not a source of angst and frustration.

Encouragement is the fuel that powers children, tweens & teens

February 10, 2011

“A misbehaving child is a discouraged child,” and “A child needs encouragement like a plant needs water,” according to Rudolf Dreikurs, MD, an Austrian physician and child-whisperer.

When yelling, punishment and bullying my children failed, I started to read Dreikurs’ book, “Children, the Challenge,” published in 1960 with Vicki Soltz, RN.

It took months, even years, for me to experience how encouragement led to improved behavior and a more positive mother-child relationship.

Encouragement is preventative maintenance that is different from praise. Encouragement is like an apple; praise is like candy.

Apples — good for you, not too sweet, versatile, store well, natural, un-processed.

Candy — not so good for you, so sweet you can get a headache, a treat, gets stale, processed and usually laden with high fructose corn syrup and artificial preservatives and colorings.

A little praise every once in a while is okay. Daily overdoses of praise will give a child a headache, set up unrealistic expectations and teach her to perform for parents.

“Molly, I’m so proud of you for getting an A on that test!” Oh yeah, here’s another problem with praise. It can only be given after success. Encouragement is so potent that it can be given after failure.

“Alicia, You must be disappointed you didn’t make the travel soccer team. Do you want to sign up for a soccer camp or try another sport? You can also play town soccer.”

“Brian, these lemon squares are good. It doesn’t matter that you combined the topping and the crust. It’s hard to hurt homemade food. Can I have another one?”

“Alexa, you put away half of that mess you left in the family room. Good start. Do you need some help with the rest?”

Can you see that encouragement is specific and focused on the deed, not the doer. Praise is general and high-energy. Encouragement is low-key.

Some of my coaching clients report that their children cannot tolerate praise. They feel uncomfortable and mis-behave within 10 minutes after a sticky-sweet praise-ful overkill: “I’m so proud of you for finishing your homework before dinner.” Children and especially teens, don’t like to be seen as too good.

Children with ADD and ADHD can especially benefit from regular doses of encouragement, especially because encouragement acknowledges effort. Children with ADD/ADHD can also suffer from low self-esteem as a side-effect of their disorder.

Encouragement is a solid sustainable way to nurture a child’s self-esteem and promote the behavior you want to see in a youngster. It takes time and effort to learn and use. See my tip sheet on it.

I’ll be giving two workshops on Encouragement and ADD/ADHD Youngsters next week. Tuesday Feb. 15 at Roudenbush Community Center in Westford, Mass. and Thursday, Feb. 17 in Concord-Carlisle Adult Education. Both start at 7 pm and are in the Boston, Mass. area.

The how and why of encouragement is worth reviewing regularly and practicing daily. Hope to see you at a workshop.

By the way, “thank you” is a powerful form of encouragement. Just witnessing children is encouragement. Encouragement is just as potent when used on adults and in the workplace. It’s very versatile.

Make a New Year’s resolution to practice encouragement

December 27, 2010

When I realized my parenting skills were making my children’s behavior worse instead of better, I made a commitment to learn a positive approach based on encouragement.

First, I had to admit that yelling, time-outs, punishment, spanking [yes, I have spanked and regretted it] reward and praise were bankrupt techniques to get my three children under age  4, to behave better.

My family environment changed when I learned how to use the art of encouragement. I discovered the four most powerful words in the English language- You can do it.

My children began responding differently to me. They began making better decisions. The need to yell, punish or praise, faded away.

Encouragement is different from its evil cousin of praise, which is extrinsically focused. Encouragement is intrinsically focused — on how the child thinks/does/feels, versus how the authority figure thinks and feels. 

Praise can only be used after success. I’ve never heard a parent say, “Meg, I’m so proud of you for coming in last place in the swimming race!” Instead, say, “Your stroke looked stronger. Did you improve your time?”

Notice that encouragement can be used after effort. “You have put away one truck. Can you pick up all the red trucks now?”

Or, on a test the teen failed, “You answered question 3 right, that’s a start.”

To the child responsible to empty the dishwasher, “You put away the silverware. What’s next? The plates?”

Encouragement focuses on the deed, not the doer. Encouragement is low-key. Praise is always high energy. Encouragement requires a parent to be specific and look at what the child has done. “Nice combination of colors in that painting, Mike.” Praise is general and often inflated. “I’m so proud of you! You’re going to be another Picasso!”

Make a resolution this year to practice the enjoyable art of encouragement. It’s especially useful with children who misbehave. “A misbehaving child is a discouraged child,” according to Rudolf Dreikurs, MD.

“A child needs encouragement like a plan needs water.” Alfred Adler, MD.

My third child was my most difficult child — I loved him while not liking his behavior much of the time. He was only 2 years old and could really annoy me and his older brother and sister. By learning how to encourage him and see the positive in what he did, set limits and spend a small amount of time with him daily, our relationship totally changed.

You can learn the art of encouragement in 2011 one step at a time. Start by encouraging yourself and noticing effort made. Make one encouraging statement to your difficult child each day. Make sure it’s specific, about the deed or effort and how they feel/think about it, not about how you think or feel.

I guarantee results. There’s a tip sheet here and a chapter on it in my book. Practicing is the best way to learn it.

The yin-yang of school vacation

December 15, 2010
yin yang of college students brings changes for parents and children. LEarning to roll with the developmental stages of college students and teenagers and life is a skill. Discipline and family meetings and structure are a part of getting along with college students who come home.

Kristen prepared this delicious dinner of macaroni and cheese, carrot raisin salad and a green salad. Yum.

One of the hardest parts of life and parenting is the constant development and change, and eventual growing up and leaving home by children. When parenting is hard and we have to put our own needs second, it’s hard to stay in the present moment and enjoy the age and stage of our children.

Childhood sometimes feels like it moves like a turtle, then all of a sudden, it has flown away like an eagle and the nest is empty.

When Kristen, 22, comes home from graduate school for holidays and Ian, 26, temporarily roosts here between seasons of organic farming, it feels wonderfully familiar and good. That’s the Yin.

The Yang is, “They left the kitchen dirty AGAIN! What happened to my routines and my food!?” And again after they leave, “I have way too much food in the fridge,” “I’ve gotten used to them being here. The house and my heart feel stripped, quiet and abandoned.”

The Yin-Yang of children living with us and growing up is part of the constant change of life’s seasons. Adjusting to empty nest is often under-rated in significance. It is a HUGE change.

For those of you with little ones, you have regular milestones where they don’t need you as much. Giant steps in development accumulate regularly. My mother said, “Babies need mothers less and less every day from birth forward.” Very true.

They stop nursing, start walking then start school and day care. Later on, their friends become more important and they stop talking to parents as much. Tweens and teens spend more time at school, work and with friends. The increasing separation during the high school years prepares us for the final separation.

The four to six years of revolving door to and from college is fraught with adjustment. As soon as I get used to them being here, they’re gone.

The good news is that we have some agreements on living together, will share in the cooking and cleaning, and enjoy the present moment for as long as we have it. It feels good to have family dinner together again.

The past is history         The future is a mystery

So we must celebrate the gift of the present

Recognize your patterns — then refrain & relax

October 18, 2010

 

Pema Chodron Buddhist Nun leads parents in conscious life, conscious parenting, waking up to our patterns so we can be all about parenting. Becoming aware is crucial in parenting and discipline. We tend to discipline how we were raised. Waking up and recognizing our patterns can make a big difference to mothers and fathers and families, and our discipline style for children and teens.

Pema Chodron, Buddhist nun, has incredible insight, wisdom and wit, sprinkled with humanity and humility.

 

One of the greatest challenges in parenting is when children and teens use their expertise about us to “push our buttons.”

Typically, we respond as they expected and feel anxious, mad, guilty, out-of-control, and [add your own emotion here].

Becoming conscious to our patterns is hugely helpful. I call it “name and tame it” in my book. When I woke up to the power struggles I danced with my children, particularly my oldest daughter, I was able to change.

Change takes time and awareness, and baby steps — often one step forward and two steps back. Children will test our resolve, and things might get worse before they get better. So we cannot “try” a new approach. We must “do” it.

Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun in Canada, offers four words on how to change our patterns in her remarkable recording, “Getting unstuck.”

The advice is simple and can be learned in a minute.

It takes a lifetime to live it:

Recognize

Refrain

Relax

Resolve

When you catch yourself about to yell at a young person, RECOGNIZE it and ask, “Am I in present time?”

REFRAIN from your first impulse.

Take a deep breath and RELAX.

Then figure out a different way to RESOLVE it.

Put these four words where you can see them every day and practice being more aware of managing your emotions around your children. Only when you manage your emotions [at least half the time 🙂 ] can you expect your children to improve in their behavior.