Posted tagged ‘family meetings’

5 positive parenting resolutions for 2012

January 2, 2012
Act Don't Yak from "Dr. Sam Goldstein" is a fundamental principle for happy families. If you have a behavior problem with your toddler, preschooler, school age, tween , teen, teenager or adolescent, acting not yakking is a positive parenting resolution for 2012. You can do it. start with baby steps.
Act Don’t Yak is an easy-to-follow 2012 resolution.

NOTE: Join us at a Positive Parenting Seminar, “Act Don’t Yak” on Monday Jan. 9, 2012, 7-9 pm in Littleton. Click here for info.

“It’s so hard to make new habits,” parents say in my parenting seminars and private practice. It’s true — ANY new habit is challenging to establish and maintain.

Think of a habit as a groove on a record — yes, an old-fashioned LP. When you are stuck in a groove, the record keeps getting deeper as it replays itself. Parents sound like a broken record when they threaten, punish, praise, reward and spank. These negative parenting practices do NOT develop long-term good decision making, and they erode a parent-child relationship.

Take the lead from your kids and start with small steps. Rotate practicing one of the habits each week for three months. Write them out on index cards or 8 x 11 sheets as in the photo at left, and post them on your bathroom mirror as a reminder. They are deceptive simple, extremely effective and will bring results for tots-to-teens.

1. Have regular family meetings to connect, communicate, share the load of housework, empower children, and practice mutual respect. Set the goal of having them weekly, every-other-week or monthly. They create the foundation for everything you want your family and child to be.

2. Act don’t yak [Dr. Sam Goldstein]. This one habit can transform your family communication from horrendous to harmonious. Stop threatening, yelling and repeating. Say it ONCE and then take action. This applies to kids of all ages. Otherwise kids tune parents out and become mother-dear and father-deaf.

3. Be kind, firm and consistent. No one is perfect in this department. However, you can learn new language. “I’m sorry Brittany. I know you’d like to me to give you money to buy that XYZ. Remember at the family meeting we agreed that you would use your allowance to buy such things? I’m sure you can save up for it.”

4. Learn the art of encouragement, also known as constructive praise. GIVE UP using “I’m so proud of you,” which creates external motivation and can only be used after success. Start saying, “Well done! How do you feel about it?” “Look at what you did. Tell me about it.” Encouragement can be given after failure. Ask, “What did you learn?” “What would you differently next time?” Give them courage to try again and cultivate intrinsitic motivation.

5. Use natural and logical consequences that follow the three Rs-   Related, Reasonable and Respectful [Dr. Jane Nelsen]. Otherwise your kids will resort to the negative three Rs– Resentment, Rebellion and Revenge. These get uglier and more dangerous as children mature into teens and have more freedom.

See free tip sheets on encouragement, natural and logical consequences and family meetings, or order the book for reinforcement.

These positive parenting practices are built on a foundation of mutual respect — where everyone has rights and responsibilities and is treated with dignity. Mistakes are looked upon as opportunities to grow and learn NOT as reasons to punish. Accomplishments, pride and new skills belong to a young person — NOT to parents.

You can do it. Start small. Encourage yourself by noticing progress. Any progress is improvement. Comments always welcomed.

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Presents or Presence?

December 19, 2011

your presence is the best gift you can bestow upon your children. Forget presents. Give them 3 from santa. Encourage your entitled kids to give each other gifts of time. This will require slowing down and spending time with each other without electonics. Kids can learn to play, spend time together without video games.When my oldest daughter began spending time with her high school boyfriend’s family, she announced, “We don’t have any traditions.

The best gift you can exchange in your family is time.  Some of my favorite gifts of all time have been certificates for experiences and deeds done together.

Give them three gifts from Santa and spend the rest of the day cultivating a holiday tradition that will last long after the batteries die out from the high-tech gifts. Here are some of my favorite simple traditions.

  • Take a long walk in the woods or in a park on Christmas Day.
  • Make a special treat together, like cinnamon buns, Christmas cookies or hot cocoa.
  • Build a fire inside or out and sing carols and other songs. Kids of all ages LOVE fire. Even if it’s frigid outside, spend some time together gathering firewood and creating the fire pit. This memory will last much longer than any gift you will ever purchase.
  • Play some games together that don’t require electricity. Cards, dodge ball, ping-pong, board games, charades, make up a skit, let your imagination go.
  • Do a craft together, even if it’s messy. Keep it simple or not. Have fun.

Be present with your kids. SHUT OFF your electronics when you’re with them and ask them for the same courtesy.

Slow down and make the days last. It might seem like your kids will never grow up. The days will morph into years, and they will leave home sooner than you can believe. Childhood will be sealed in a time capsule that can never be revised. The special memories can be retrieved and relived.

What are some of your family traditions?

PS — If you have a difficult child, spending 5 to 15 minutes a day with him or her can dramatically change your relationship and their behavior. Choose the positive attention as prevention, instead of negative detention afterwards.

Thanksgiving Day can last all year round

November 21, 2011
family dinner is one of the best ways to connect with each other at tHanksgiving and every other day of the year. Family dinner with toddlers, preschoolers, school age, tweens, teens, teenagers and adolescencts means less drug abuse, less alcohol and tobacco abuse. Family dinner is one of the best ways to connect with your teens and children and keep them off the street and out of trouble. Family dinner is  place to absorb manners, values and behavior.
Family dinner isn’t only for Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving on Thursday is the ultimate family dinner of the year. Thanksgiving is a reminder to keep family dinner — or breakfast — sacred, even if your kids/teens resist.

Every family dinner will not be perfect. I can remember many the argument among the kids or me falling prey to a power struggle with my oldest daughter during a family dinner. Family dinners are worth the effort even if they’re not Thanksgiving Day-perfect because they keep kids connected to us.

When kids have a strong connection to parents they are less likely to use and abuse drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Study after study has demonstrated the efficacy of family dinner. This study is famous and persuasive.
Having family dinner or breakfast three or more times a week connects families AND it insures kids receive better nutrition.

Family dinner benefits kids socially, psychologically and physically. How can you go wrong? Start with the goal of having one family dinner a week. Use a family meeting to get the kids involved in planning, preparing and cleaning up the dinner so it doesn’t all fall on mom’s or dad’s lap. Encourage your kids to cook something for the dinner, either with you or independently, depending on their age. Make it their responsibility to help clean up.

Make family dinner or breakfast a habit. Turn off the electronics (parents, too), tell stories, look at each other, enjoy and appreciate each other and the food. Fight if you must — it shows you are emotionally connected. Take the time to resolve it, too, and come up with a plan to keep the peace during dinner.

Thanksgiving Day tips for families

1. Remember to involve the kids and teens when getting ready for the big meal this week. It won’t feel like a chore when they are contributing with the adults to create a wonderful meal, day and memory. The kids will feel connected, capable and creative.

2. Don’t force them to eat anything. Offer new foods and keep a neutral expression if they reject them. You can say, “Taste buds change.”

3. Teach them before Thursday how to say, “No thank you,” instead of, “Yuck, I hate that!” and how to say, “Aunt Sue, please pass the butter,” instead of standing up to get it. Even little kids can learn basic manners when parents model them.

Thanksgiving: The ultimate family dinner

November 14, 2011
Manners are a big part of family dinner. Children tweens and teens can learn to behave at family dinner table at Thanksgiving. Good manners start at home. Make it a game. Make it fun. Thanksgiving can be a relaxing time for families. Manners are a good chore to have in Mass., CT, MA , NH, RI and VT.
Children can live up — or down — to our expectations.

Just looking at the table pictured above would have given me a stomach ache if I had to bring my four kids there.

The best way to prepare for such a situation is to practice. If you’re worried about Thanksgiving at the home of a friend, relative or to a restaurant with your kids, start with a rehearsal.
Have a family meeting. Ask the kids for ideas on how to behave at a fancy meal. Write down every idea, however ridiculous, and take the best ones seriously. Then announce you’re going to have a rehearsal for Thanksgiving, using their suggestions. Would they help? Set a date and plan a simple meal, maybe a roast chicken.

Enlist their aid in getting out a nice tablecloth, the best china, silverware and glassware. Remember, a broken spirit is more permanent than a broken goblet. Let them drink from a special glass and use cloth napkins for the evening. Propose some toasts. Exaggerate. Go overboard on the manners. Use an English accent. Make it fun. Kids love fun. Whenever you can make something fun, you will have them eating out of your hand.

Parenting is all about setting reasonable expectations and managing people’s behavior — getting them to do what you want, when you want, just like at work. The best managers are kind, firm, clearly spell out what they expect, and if necessary, train you on how to do it.

Clearly spell out what you expect from your kids on Thanksgiving at Aunt Sue’s. Then practice it. Encourage the behavior you like by saying what they did. “What a nice way to ask for the mashed potatoes, Megan! Of course I’ll pass them to you. Where did you learn such lovely manners?”

They won’t be perfect, and you always remind them on Thanksgiving when they slip, “Remember how we practiced? How can you ask nicely for the mashed potatoes?”

A dress rehearsal combined with realistic expectations from parents will make the day go more smoothly.

Make allowances pay

October 17, 2011
Managing money for family vacations is critical for kids and money. An allowance for children and tweens can be used to teach them how to budget and save, and to NOT spend more than they have. It's OK to say no. Money and children is a complex topic that can be simplified through allowances. Children and money often comes up in the media. Let kids experience not having money or having to delay gratification. De-emphasize buying THINGs. Can you live without things? Go to yard sales to teach kids how to spend money wisely.

These kids on vacation carry their own backpacks -- hopefully with lunch inside. An upcoming vacation or holiday are excellent opportunities to teach kids how to save money.

While watching the Patriots yesterday, I took note of commercials because I rarely watch TV. “Aunt Sue, how do you know what to buy unless you watch TV?” my nephew asked dryly.

I don’t need to buy much. I might want to buy more than I need. Managing my emotions around my wants has been critical to money peace.

Spending less than you earn is a valuable life lesson that parents can teach kids from age five on.

Five year olds can learn to manage small amounts of money through a weekly allowance not tied to chores. Give her 50 cents and allow her to lose it, give it away, save it or spend it on whatever she wants. Introduce the idea of saving for a special occasion, such as an excursion, day trip or holiday.
When she gets in first grade, increase the allowance so she can choose whether to buy lunch a few days a week or make a brown bag lunch and save money. Put “allowance” on the family meeting agenda. Kids as young as 3 years old can participate in a 10 minute family meeting that includes compliments, new business, a snack and family fun. See my tip sheet on family meetings.
Talk about how they can budget their allowance, plan, donate and save for special occasions. Don’t do it for them. Allow them to experience spending all of their money and your kind firm refusal to be a money machine. Unless you want to undermine their money management by showing them that you’ll always bail them out of financial problems, and they should be able to buy everything they want.
Award allowances without tying them to chores because they contribute to the family welfare, they also share in the benefits. If you bribe them , you’re teaching them to manipulate people with money, and to work for money.
According to research, money is the LOWEST form of motivation. Have you ever worked only for the money or had an employee only in it for the money? Both are bankrupt.
It takes time to learn to manage money and develop internal motivation to contribute to a family and society. Allowances teach children to manage small amounts of money with guidance, and to patronize yard sales.
By the time children are old enough to “want” things, they are old enough to earn money outside of the family by pet care, yard work, mother’s helper, lemonade stands and more creative ideas. I discourage the practice of paying kids to do special chores to earn money for special purchases.
Do not feel sorry for them! They can work outside of the family for what they want. Delayed gratification encourages the priceless lesson of self-discipline and avoids addiction to “stuff.”
My husband bought his third new car ever on Friday. The first new car was in 1981, the second — a work truck — was bought in 2005. Bob drove used cars while we paid for food and housing, shoes, braces, school trips, fun things, teen beater cars, and college education for our four children.
At the end of the day, it’s nice to have a new car that we could have lived without. One of the things I appreciate about him the most is his healthy and generous relationship to money. You can nurture this in your children by your example, encouraging them to live within their means, and setting kind and firm limits.

Make friends with money from the start

October 10, 2011
Children doing chores is an important part of growing up. Children should NOT be paid for doing chores unless they pay parents for doing chores. Children can learn to manage money by being given an allowance and learning how it feels to run out of money. Children, tweens and teens can learn to budget money, plan for special occasions and trips, and spend money carefully. They can learn by having an allowance, but not tied to chores
My daughter Kristen, then about age 6, is painting the basement playroom. Kristen did not get cash for doing this. Her rewards were much more valuable: being connected to our family (the BEST substance abuse prevention) teamwork, learning a work ethic, developing a skill, nurturing self-esteem, self-discipline and competence. Today, Kristen is earning a Masters in Fine Arts in sculpture.

Money. Can’t live without it. Seems like there’s never enough. Many a marriage has failed over money. The challenge is how to teach children the golden rule: spend less than you earn.

You can convey this to children so they grow up to have successful relationships with money, and their life partners.

DO NOT pay children to contribute around the house, also known as chores. Do not pay children to work for money at home unless you want to:

1. Guarantee that you will always have to pay them to do that task, earn that grade, or practice that instrument;

2. Teach them that money can be used to manipulate others; or

3. Teach them that work ought only be done for money. Research shows that money is the LOWEST motivation to do anything.

Parents must be creative, have a plan and work together to make teamwork fun to motivate kids without money, fear or punishment.

This takes time. Pay, praise and reward and punishment are quick and dirty. Creating an environment where contributions are encouraged and appreciated takes time and patience — like most aspects of good parenting.

Start with a family meeting.  This is where to reinforce positive parenting and mold your child into the adult you envision. Or at least to manage their behavior to live peacefully until they leave home 🙂

Make a list of everything parents do around the house. Ask every child, tween and teen to make a list of what s/he does. Self-chores do not count, such as, “make my bed, clear my dish, put my toys away.” We’re looking for contributions for the common good: emptying the wastebaskets, setting the table, making the salad or dessert for dinner, mowing the lawn, painting a room. Notice how those chores increased in complexity, as they do as a child gets older.

Ask them what responsibilities they’d like to take on. Write them down. Expect them to do the job in the coming week, month and year. Encourage and appreciate their efforts. Hold them to their agreements by being kind, firm and consistent. This is how they develop the precious gift of self-discipline — doing something we don’t feel like doing at that moment.

Do not pay them by the chore. Do not withhold allowance if they don’t do them. DO give them an allowance that is NOT tied to money. They contribute to the common good, they enjoy the rewards of being in a family. Don’t you have bad days/weeks at work where your performance was lacking?

Here’s a true story about how to handle requests for payment of chores.

Me: (Fixing dinner.) Noah, it’s time to empty the dishwasher. (Notice I didn’t ask him. He agreed to do to the job at a family meeting.)

Noah (age 8): Mom, will you pay me for emptying the dishwasher?

Me: (Pause. Thinking quickly.) Sure, Noah. I’ll pay you $3 for emptying the dishwasher.

Noah: (eyes light up.)

Me: But dinner is $5.

Next post: How to use allowances to teach children how to manage their money.

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.