Archive for the ‘Make good decisions’ 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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Homework hassles, headaches and happiness

February 18, 2013

Homework is the source of great angst between parents and children. Take the example of John, 8, and Mom (names changed to protect the real people).

John, 8, is highly intelligent with many behavioral issues and learning disabilities. “When he wants to, John can do his homework in a snap,” says Mom. “When he’s at school, under supervision, he can do it in a snap.”

Well, then, what happens at home? We parents get snared in the complex web of parent-child emotions, power sharing, and time management.

Here are suggestions to give your children the opportunity to learn responsibility through trial and error, free parents from this onerous task, and free up time and energy for positive parent-child time.

Q: Whose problem is homework?

A: The child is responsible for homework. The hare-brained schools that assign homework to children younger than third grade assign parents homework, setting up the bad habit of making homework a parent’s problem.

Unfortunately, until your child is in third grade, parents must share the responsibility. From third grade and up, schools have excellent structures in place for miscreants and parents can step back.

Q: How do parents encourage children to do homework?

A: Put “homework” on a family meeting agenda. At a quiet, neutral time when everyone is in the problem-solving mode, say, “Let’s talk about homework. When is the best time for you to do homework? Where would you like to do homework? What role do you want mom/dad to take in homework? I will expect you to ask for help if needed.”

You get the idea. Talk about it. LISTEN to their suggestions. Decide on a plan. Implement the plan for at least a week, to show you respect them, take them seriously and expect them to take on homework as their problem. Expect three weeks to learn the new habit.

At the family meeting, say, “I’m going to let you [kids] take on this responsibility. I will support you however you need it. Let’s follow your suggestions for this week and we’ll meet again to talk about how things are going.”

You are now promoted to “consultant,” not a parent, homework cop or nag.

Q: How to follow through?

A: You must allow time for children to learn new habits, for them to realize that you are serious, not just “trying” something new.

YOU MUST BE PREPARED to allow them to fail. To ignore their decisions that might cause them to miss a homework assignment. 

Schools have built-in structures for students who do not complete homework assignments. Allow your child to make decisions about when and where to do homework, or not, and allow him/her to feel the cause and effect of his/her decisions.

Q: How can I allow my child to fail to turn in homework?

A: Perhaps you’re reading this blog in desperation, exhausted from struggling with homework every day. Let it go. Think of the valuable lessons you have learned through mistakes and failure. Do not deny your child this opportunity to learn cause and effect.

Keep reading, unless you want to continue to go crazy by forcing kids to do homework on your terms.

Q: How do I motivate my children to do homework, without nagging?

A: Daniel Pink, author of “Drive: the surprising truth behind what motivates us,” says humans are motivated by three things: Mastery, autonomy and purpose. Notice what’s not in the top three: money, recess, good grades, or pleasing parents. Money, according to Pink, is the lowest form of motivation.

Mastery means to feel good about doing something. Autonomy translates to freedom. Purpose means that there’s a reason to do something, which could be to avoid punishment. True motivation comes from within. It’s your job to nurture it through mastery, autonomy and purpose.

Q: What will other parents and teachers think and feel about me?

A: Most other parents will be jealous that you’re no longer going crazy over homework every day, and that you can use the time and energy to connect with your child in a positive way. Teachers will understand, especially if you privately mention your new stance. Ask him/her for support for a few weeks until your child learns the new habit of taking responsibility and choosing when and where to do homework.

Teachers and parents can recognize school projects completed by parents, not children. Your kids’ efforts will be more realistic and rough around the edges. They can feel the mastery, autonomy and purpose from doing projects independently.

Q: Am I totally absolved from my kids’ homework?

A: No. You are a consultant. You will ask questions, provide encouragement, and guide them to make good decisions. If your child does not complete a homework assignment and gets punished at school, do not inflict additional punishment at home. Let him/her handle school, where experts know what children are capable of.

I like to share with parents a list of famous high school dropouts. School isn’t for everyone. There are alternatives, like the General Equivalency Diploma, home schooling, charter schools and community college for older teens. Academic success is a child’s choice, not a parents’ demand. Unless you want them to work for your praise.

Remember that childhood is a process of letting go, of transferring power and responsibility from your side of the seesaw, when you do everything, to the child’s side of the seesaw, when they take over responsibility and power for their lives. Homework is an excellent example of a safe place they can experiment with power, success, failure, mastery, autonomy and purpose. They can take on this responsibility.

See more in my book, “Raising Able: How chores empower families”  [available on Amazon in print and Kindle] on family meetings and encouragement, the most potent ways to foster everything you want your child to do and become in life, and establish a positive lifelong connection.

Bully-free parenting

December 5, 2011
my child is the bully, anti-bullying, positive parenting, positive discipline, hitting, spanking, yelling, parenting about, teens, toddlers,preschoolers, teenagers, tweens, elementary age, "alfred adler" , natural and logical consequences, encouragement, family meetings,
Many bullies are made at home

As the young mother of three children born in 3.5 years, I thought “discipline” meant “punishment.” Through parenting workshops, I learned that “discipline” means “to teach.” Parents are teaching every minute of every day by our example, and how we manage others. To manage people means to get other people to do what we want.

My question to you today is How do you manage your children? Do you yell, spank, praise, reward and punish? Or, are you their friend and set few limits?

Children feel unsafe in both extremes. The greatest challenge for parents is to manage our emotions because children try our patience. When they don’t do what we want, when they make bad decisions and put their safety at risk, we feel anxious, worried and frustrated that they don’t listen to us. Therefore we are justified in punishing them.

The problem with punishment is that it often breeds resentment, rebellion and revenge, and ironically, NOT the behavior change we wish to see.

Tots to teens need limits set with respect, love and logic. Children need to experience the results of their decisions. My favorite line is “Give them enough rope to burn but not enough to hang” so they can learn to choose well and find out life’s rules.

Here are some examples of how tots to teens can learn from their decisions.

a. A 10-year-old spent his allowance on candy on Saturday and asks Dad on Sunday, “Can you buy me this video game?” “Son, I bet you can save up your allowance for a few weeks and buy that game.”

b. A 3-year-old refuses to eat his favorite vegetable at dinner and has a tantrum because his parents won’t give him dessert. “You’d really like some dessert. You know the rule in our family. People who eat their vegetables get dessert.”

c. A 15-year-old doesn’t clean the bathroom as promised by Friday at 7 pm. Mom explains in a kind and firm voice, “When the bathroom is cleaned, I’ll give you the ride.”

d. A 7-year-old forgets her mittens on a cold day and her hands get chapped.

e. A 12-year-old chooses not to pick up his room. It becomes difficult to walk in the room and it l from dirty clothes. He has trouble finding clean clothes to wear to school and doesn’t care.

In the first three examples, can you see how the parent explains the logic behind the decisions and in the last two, the parent can allow the youngsters to experience the results of their choices without intervening. The first three are “logical consequences” because they require parental action. The last two are “natural consequences” because the outcome happens without parental action. These are the most powerful and respectful ways for children to mature that sustain a positive parent-child connection.

Here are some bullying responses to the same scenarios, that teach children those who are bigger, meaner, verbally or physically abusive, louder and stronger will win. Verbal abuse can be as devastating as physical abuse.

a. “You’re never going to learn to manage your money.”

b. “Go to your room, you’re being a bad boy. I’m going to spank you if you don’t stop crying.”

c. “What do you think I am? The maid and the driver? You’re lazy and self-centered. All I ask is that you clean the lousy bathroom once a week. I’m going to take away your video games for a week.”

d. “How many times did I tell you to bring your mittens? You’re going to catch cold and die of pneumonia. What will your teacher think if you go to school without mittens? You always make me look bad. I want to be proud of you.”

e. “You must clean your room today or else you’ll be grounded for a month. I’m sick and tired of you disrespecting the house your father and I work so hard to get. You’re going to amount to nothing if you don’t learn some respect. What will your friends and teachers think when you go to school with the same dirty T-shirt day after day?”

In the last two, parents can allow youngsters to live with the consequences of their decisions. This shows mutual respect. Parents model problem solving and behavior management without punishment, reward and praise.

Parents can teach children to choose wisely by being kind and firm, saying as little as possible and using natural and logical consequences that are related, reasonable and respectful (thanks to Jane Nelsen for the Three Rs of natural and logical consequences).

The great outdoors is fun, frugal and local

July 18, 2011
Family fun can come in all sizes and shapes. Family connection is one of the most important aspects of summer vacation. Fun Frugal family times can be found in nature. Nature and kids seem to go together.

That's me, about to take a swing on the rope swing.

I want to jump back into this picture when we found this rope swing while on vacation with another family on Bustin’s Island in Maine. It was better than an amusement park, closer and cheaper, too. We made our own fun together. Bustin’s Island is an 80-acre island off the coast of Freeport, Maine — no cars allowed. Everything must be hand-carried or put into one of the few pickup trucks that meets the small ferry and taken to rustic cottages. When we went there in the 1990s, most cottages had outhouses, gas lights and gas refrigerators. It was one step above camping and we loved it. The kids and dog could roam free. We found non-electronic things to do like this rope swing, canoeing, playing volleyball, picking blackberries and biking.   Getting outside and playing together is one of the best methods for family connection and a mental health remedy.

It can be as simple as  slowing down for backyard fun, a walk in the neighborhood park, taking a day trip, or going camping. Nature is therapeutic according to multiple studies. Nature is a conduit for family connection — one of the best ways to protect your kids against making bad decisions as they become tweens and teens.

A strong parent-child/tween/teen connection is the BEST insurance that they stay away from the bad list — you know that list of parental angst that only grows as they grow up. Find some time to get in your backyard, bike around the block or plant a few seeds. Your kids will remember these activities for a long time. It’s an investment in positive parenting because you can act like a kid and have fun with them.

Have a family meeting and make a list of simple outdoor activities your kids want to do this summer. Let loose and take a turn on the rope swing. Bring the camera.  Time passes fast.

Biking together is a great way to get eveyone in the family on the same page. Good parenting is all about Family connection. The easiest way to connect is to have fun together and act like a kid with your kids, tweens, and teens. Use summer vacation to find fun frugal cheap family adventures. You don't have to spend a lot of money to have fun together.

Dad on the tandem with Ian and Kristen in the last century.

Firm friendly follow-through

March 21, 2011
Kids having fun in the snow, playing, learning natural and logical consequences, how to make good decisions, going 60 miles away, 60 miles an hour. Parenting: about. How to parent, Teenagers, tweens, toddlers, school age, how to parent, parenting teenagers, setting boundaries. related, respectful, reasonable, "Dr. JAne Nelsen, Ph.D. " "Dr. Alfred Adler" "Dr. Rudolf Driekurs" Learning to make good decisions is really important. Parent/child relationship, "tough love" starts early. playing in snow is fun.

Teach kids NOT to skate on thin ice!

On Saturday a scout leader at the Polar Bear Derby (rescheduled from January) told me that he had repeatedly warned his son and the other kids to stay away from the half-melted pond.

Alas, his child got wet.

“I had to take him home for dry clothes and bring him back,” the scout leader said, shaking his head with disappointment.

How wonderful to know Dad will bail out Junior no matter what.  

Or is it wonderful?

Kids who never experience the related outcome of their decisions do not learn to take responsibility for their actions.

Junior learned:

  1. He doesn’t have to listen to Dad — even when his safety is at hand;
  2. Dad will bail him out and he still gets to participate , despite his poor choice.
  3. He can continue to make bad decisions because good ol’ Dad will bail him out.

I’m interested in the big picture and what precedent Dad set. Tough Love is a group of parents of young adults who have realized they constantly enable their child to make bad decisions. The parents must learn  to say No, I won’t bail you out again from the poor choices you made, which often involve substance abuse and addiction.

It’s hard for parents to say “NO” or to deny Junior the Polar Bear Derby.

Dad could have let Junior experience being wet and cold. Junior could have asked to be taken home or gone inside the lodge to warm up.

Ideally, Dad could teach Junior to listen at home, BEFORE the Polar Bear Derby. It takes time, patience and consistency to teach children to listen and make good decisions. Investing the time, patience and consistency in making small decisions may someday save your child’s life.

The goal is for children to become teens who will make good decisions when they become teenagers and they’re 60 miles away, going 60 miles an hour.

Will the young person who is 60 miles away, going 60 miles an hour:

  • Be driving the speed limit?
  • Wearing a seatbelt?
  • Be with friends you know and like?
  • Sober and focused on driving?
  • Have told you the truth about where they are and what they’re doing?
  • Made good choices around sexuality?

Start now to teach good decision-making by giving children enough rope to burn but not enough to hang. Let them experience small repercussions, like being cold and wet during the Polar Bear Derby, forgetting homework or mittens, not being able to find their sporting equipment because they didn’t put it away.

It will pay off in the long run.

Dogs training is a lot like child training

January 10, 2011

 

These three dogs have taught me a lot about dog training and child training. They have a lot in common. When disciplining children you must be kind and firm and consistent. The same with dog training. They respond to kindness, firmness and consistency. Raising children is similar to raising dogs because they both want to please. They both respond to encouragement. They both depend on the kindness of their owners and parents. Parenting is all about being kind and firm. Parenting is all about training - and training relies on consistency. You can raise a good dog without hitting it or being violent. Dogs pick up on our cues. The same with children. The way to raise a child without bullying it or making the child into a bully, in essence, anti-bullying, is to be kind and firm and to use natural and logical consequences and to take action. This is a lot like raising a dog. Dog's don't understand many words. They only understand ACTION and a few words. The same with children. Fewer words, more action.

Lily, the puppy on the left, always wants to play. The older two dogs don't always want to, so they ignore her.

 

 

these dogs have taught me a lot about dog training and child training. When disciplining children you must be kind, firm and consistent. The same with dog training. Dogs respond to kindness, firmness and consistency. Children and dogs both want to please and they both respond to encouragement. They both depend on the kindness of owners and parents. Parenting is all about training and consistency- which requires energy. Parenting is all about being kind and firm. Dog training is all about being kind and firm. The way to raise a child without bullying it or making the child into a bully, in essence, anti-bullying, is to be kind and firm, use natural and logical consequences and the triple e - encouragement, expectation and empowerment. Dogs don't understand many words. They understand only ACTION and a few words. The same with children. Fewer words and more aciton.
Like children, these dogs often fight to establish a hierarchy. Let them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m taking care of two extra dogs this week. In addition to the extra dog hair, licking, and exuberance when the front door opens, the dogs show the rules of the kingdom are also useful for children and families.

Here are the rules.

1.       Someone must be boss.  The boss must be bossy enough to prove it. As in sports, there is a home court advantage and size matters.

2.       Turf is important. Don’t take what isn’t yours. My dog, Gonzo, likes nothing better than to go into Lily’s crate, just to annoy her.

3.       Relationships are important. Be aware of who belongs to who. Gonzo is so insecure that she can’t tolerate it when I show affection to Lily or Kasha.

4.       Jealousy erupts over turf and relationships. It’s difficult to manage one’s emotions over limited resources. Gonzo growls, intimidates and playfully bites to communicate dominion over turf and relationships.

5.       The dogs can work it out. Or not. We adopted Gonzo when she was 2 years old, so she has intrinsic insecurity. She grudgingly shares her resources with others, and complains while doing it, no matter what I do.

The dogs prove that it’s best for children and dogs to be allowed to work out their conflicts over turf, relationships and jealousy without interference from authority figures.

The dogs show that some conflicts can never be resolved, even when Mom and Dad  intervene. It is best to let dogs/children/teens establish their own hierarchy, define their turf, manage their emotions over jealousy – even when growling, intimidation and physical altercations are involved. They will find out that life isn’t fair and how to manage conflict without a referee.



Parents can prevent teen drinking

January 4, 2011

According to research presented on NPR this morning: “The teens who were being raised by so-called indulgent parents who tend to give their children lots of praise and warmth — but offer little in the way of consequences or monitoring of bad behavior — were among the biggest abusers of alcohol.

“They were about three times more likely to participate in heavy drinking,” says Stephen Bahr, Ph.D., author of a study of 5,000 teens on drinking. “The same was true for kids whose parents were so strict that no decision was left to the teenager’s own judgment.

The key is to develop good decision-making in children from ages 2 to 12, so when they become teenagers and they are 60 miles away going 60 miles an hour, they will choose wisely.

Cultivating good decision-making starts when children are young and they experience consequences that follow the Three Rs — related, reasonable and respectful. Thanks to Jane Nelsen, Ph.D. for the Three Rs of natural and logical consequences.

For example, when a youngster misbehaves in a restaurant, when Dad says, “Stop or there’s no X-Box for a month,” it does not inspire the child to make an informed decision because it is not respectful, reasonable or related.

A consequence that meets the three Rs would be for Dad to say, “Behave yourself or we leave the restaurant now.” Then they leave the restaurant. It’s requires less talking and more action.

Parents who sign up for my workshops fall in one of the two extremes described above. They set too many limits or too few limits. Democratic parenting allows for power-sharing and for children to learn to make good decisions by experiencing the natural and logical consequences of them.

It takes time, training and thinking. Parents just have to be slightly smarter than the teens and tweens and children, and have a plan.