Posted tagged ‘good parenting advice’

Don’t expect a silk purse from a sow’s ear

March 25, 2013

Perhaps one of the most valuable gift from other parents, parenting books, workshops and experience is adjusting your expectations and knowing the capability of your toddlers, preschoolers, school age, tweens and teens. 

 One of my guidelines for toddlers was, “Sharing is a 3-year-old trait.” The study from today’s Boston Globe might refute that. I know adults who have a hard time sharing! Imagine if someone told you, upon receiving a brand new i-Phone, “Share that with your little sister.” 

NOT!

Having high expectations is critical in nurturing kids and teens toward independence, making good decisions and guiding them toward the people you want them to be. 

AND having reasonable expectations for their age is even more critical. Talk to other parents, read books, go to workshops and discern what is “normal.” Then take a deep breath and practice one of the most precious gifts my kids gave me, which took years to develop, PATIENCE.

Study reveals that when it comes to sharing, young children are hypocrites— and they know it

It’s both a scientific mystery and a parenting conundrum: How do children learn to share?

Children as young as 3 understand the concept of fairness. Fair means one child should get the same number of stickers as another. But put a young child in charge, and fairness seems to go out the window — young children tend to hoard when they are the ones who are deciding how much of their own candy or toys to hand over.

New research is beginning to untangle the disconnect between knowledge and behavior, with a surprising finding: Young children asked to predict how they will divvy up stickers already anticipate they will tip the scale in their favor. When it comes to sharing, the 3 – to 6-year-old set is — scientifically speaking — a bunch of selfaware hypocrites.

“They were surprisingly honest and self-aware. They said, ‘I realize I would keep more formyself,’ ’’ said Peter Blake, an assistant professor of psychology at Boston University and a co-author of the work. “Anything that involves giving up resources brings us into an evolutionary context, where kids might have a bias to be more selfinterested” in order to survive to reproduce.

The study, published Wednesday in PLOS ONE by Blake and colleagues from Harvard University and the University of Michigan, recruited participants from visitors to the Museum of Science in Boston.

First, researchers gave each of the children four stickers with carefully researched qualities that would be desirable to children ranging from 3 to 8 years old: their favorite color, smileyfaced, scratch-and-sniff. These stickers belong to you now, the researchers told the kids.

Then, they asked them to divide up the stickers, to share them with another boy or girl. Next, they asked the children how many of the stickers another boy or girl should share.

Children of all ages agreed that other children should split up the stickers evenly. But when it came to their own sharing, younger children were far more likely to keep more for themselves. To test whether this was a problem of impulse control, the researchers ran a gauntlet of tests designed to probe how well the children could inhibit impulses, seeing whether they could, for example, view a picture of the sun and say the opposite word, night, in a short time frame.

The ability to inhibit their first impulses seemed to have nothing to do with their decision to keep more stickers. The biggest difference that emerged was how children explained why they or another child did or did not share. The youngest kids talked far less often about sharing being fair as the reason for a decision to share, and far more often about their own desires.

In a second experiment, researchers changed the question slightly. They asked another group of children to imagine how many stickers they would give to another child. Despite the fact that children of all ages had made it clear they understood that splitting the stickers was fair, the youngest ones predicted they would hoard them — which is precisely what their peers had done in the first experiment.

It wasn’t amatter of trying to do the right thing and failing; those kids knew what they wanted. Stickers.

Now, Blake would like to test the behavior more broadly, in children from different cultures. He wonders whether in societies that place responsibilities on children earlier in life, the younger children will start splitting resources fairly.

He’s interested in understanding the cognitive processes, the mental machinery, that underlies behavior. But he says there may be a practical application, too. Understanding the behavior could provide an opportunity to improve behavior or education, by finding ways to teach kids to share more effectively at a younger age.

After the sessions at theMuseum of Science, “the parents seem relieved, to some extent,” Blake said. “They say, ‘I’mglad that they know what the right response is, but how can I get them to be more fair?’ ”

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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.

 

One more thing on a parent’s TO DO list

May 29, 2012
Children, tweens, teens, teenagers and preschoolers can learn about manners at home from parents. it takes repetition. It takes family dinners. Parenting is about repetition. good parenting is about doing things over and over. "manners and kids" is important. Do not underestimate it. Teach manners at home during family dinner.

Teaching your kids manners takes repetition, modeling and reinforcement. Nothing about good parenting comes easy, free or cheap.

Yesterday a young visitor shook hands when we were introduced. “Wow, a firm grip and you’re looking me square in the eye,” I said, returning the courtesy to the 15-year-old.

I turned to his parents and said, “Nice job. He knows how to greet people. My brother Jim taught me a long time ago, Firm grip and square in the eye.” This simple gesture says, “I care about how you feel.” That’s the essence of manners.

My seventh grade science teacher Mrs. Lewis used to bemoan about misbehaving students, “Lack of home training.”

I agree. Don’t go overboard, either like a manners cops, demanding a please-and-thank-you every other minute. All I ask is for kids to make eye contact and pleasant conversation; to unobtrusively say, “No thank you” if they don’t something; and to chew with their mouths closed.

Like most good parenting habits, teaching manners requires role models, repetition and reinforcement. Family dinner is an ideal place to model, repeat and reinforce consideration for each other and the cook. It’s not a chore to teach manners, it’s a practice.

When the snacks were gone and the gathering nearly over at 4 pm, I set out a wedge of gourmet cheese. An 11-year-old asked nicely, “Is there any real food?”

I offered my standard option to those who don’t want what is served. “Would you like a peanut and butter and jelly sandwich?”

Hungry from swimming, she accepted. I put some frozen bread in the toaster and got out the peanut butter and jelly. She assembled it, said, “Mmm. Good jam!” and ate it unobtrusively.

That’s my kind of kid. Appreciative, asked nicely for what she wanted, and accepted what was offered. She showed good home training.

Manners are like exercise — do regularly for the best results. And keep at it.

Missing Mom

May 7, 2012
Mothers of large families with five or more children have a special place in the world. There were many big catholic families in the 1950s and 1960s. Not so much anymore. Now mormons have the corner on big families. My mother was an incredible woman. I honor her on Mother's Day.

Our family in 1962. I’m sitting on my father’s lap in this annual holiday photo tradition.

No matter what your relationship with your mother, you will miss her when she dies.The ache is doubled if your mother was like mine, with whom I felt connected, accepted and respected. Mildred has been gone for six years now. I still want to call her when I feel up or down.Motherhood for Mildred was not about if her children made her look good or feel good. I never remember her saying, “I’m proud of you.” Her objective was not how she felt/thought/looked about us, but how we felt/thought/looked.

Mother's Day is a day to remember our mothers- what they did for us, what they didn't do for us, and how they loved us. Mother's Day will not feel the same this year without my mother, who influenced me so much. I still mis her. Mildred was a remarkable woman.

Mildred Mary Margaret Theresa Rees Tordella, 1921- 2005. Mother of nine, grandmother to 25, great-grandmother to 11 and counting, and friend to countless.

Parental pride/praise sends the silent virulent message of, “I love you best when you make me look good and feel good. Don’t let me down.” Praise and pride can motivate children to achieve for parents. One unfortunate outcome of parental pride is for a young person to choose a career parents want, which eventually lands them in the psychiatrist’s office, miserable.

Without the risk of “letting Mom down,” it freed me to call her when I had been fired from a job, yelled at my kids or fought with my spouse. She held me in failure and celebrated my joys. I long to call or visit her one more time, to bask in that kind of connection, acceptance and mutual respect.

Mother's Day is a special day for parents and children, especially mothers and daughters. I really miss my mother, who inspired so many of us to be independent and loving. She believed in chores and self-discipline and cultivating responsibility. She showed me encouragement and mutual respect. On Mother's Day, I still miss her. If only mothers could be perfect, but we can't so we have to accept them the way they are. and forgive them for not being perfect.

Mom in her early 20s.

My parents never referred to their posse of grown children as “the kids,” a common practice, often justified because “You’re younger than us.” Yuck — what a barrier that sentiment erects. One of the most difficult aspects of motherhood is knowing and seeing we are setting up lifelong habits and forming personalities. Ugh! What a responsibility — and opportunity.

My mother mastered the art of encouragement. She stayed out of our way and let us find our own way. Five of us have our own businesses. We all have high degrees of internal motivation, thanks to the chores we were expected to do, that taught us self-discipline.

Mildred specialized in listening with an open heart and asking questions. Questions pointed my needle in the right direction.”What do you think? How did that happen? What are you going to do next?”  I trusted her to listen objectively, not make me wrong, or risk disappointing her. When whining about my marriage [what marriage is perfect?] she inevitably sided with Bob, much to my annoyance. She was usually right, too, because I had failed to manage my emotions around whatever petty annoyances.

Even though her parents had been dead for years, Mildred often said, “My parents are with me every day.” I scoffed at that sentiment when she was still alive, and like much of her wisdom, I’ve come find out she was right.

Mom, you’re with me every day. Thanks for everything. I love you and miss you.

Source: www.buynaturalgarciniacambogia.com

FREE talk by Dr. Ned Hallowell Monday, 3/12/12 in Westford

March 8, 2012
"Dr. Ned Hallowell" and ADD expert, will speak on this book he wrote, "The childhood roots of adult happiness" in Westford, Mass. on March 12. he is worth hearing.

"Dr. Ned Hallowell" will share a great deal of insight about positive parenting and what parenting is all about -- slowing down and taking the time to be with children instead of constantly rushing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell is speaking in Westford next Monday night, March 12. He has written several books on ADD and ADHD. My favorite book he has written is “The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness.”I LOVED this book. I heard Dr. Hallowell speak in fall 2010 in Ayer, and he shared many good stories, insight, and advice with humility and humor.

Whether or not you have read any of his books, this talk is worth hearing. You will come away with some good ideas about how to be a better mother or father.

The Westford Parent Connection is sponsoring the free event – The Distracted Family: Overstretched, Overbooked, And About To Snap at The Westford Academy Performing Arts Center, 30 Patten Road, Westford, MA  7:00-9:00 pm.

For more information go to: http://www.westford.com/wpc/events.htm or to www.drhallowell.com.

Bad seeds become weeds

May 16, 2011
working alongside of parents is about good parenting that teaches children skills for life. If you want your child to have high self esteem and a work ethic, follow the advice of "Dr Alfred Adler" and "Dr Rudolf Dreikurs" and have them do chores. Home chores will prepare your children for life.
Kristen is spackling a basement wall with Bob when she was about 7 years old, before Bob started his business.

My husband Bob is a contractor with a small crew. He occasionally hires young people — usually male — to train as his assistant. Recently Bob estimated a job with a typical new customer who lives in a comfortable house in a good neighborhood where the children are expected to be above average.

Bob mentioned to the woman of the house that he needs to hire a new crew member for the summer spike of renovating kitchens and bathrooms in and around Routes 495, 2 and 3 in Massachusetts. (Shameless plug.) This how the conversation went.

Mom: Oh! My son needs a summer job.

Here KRisten and Bob of www.renovationsredoak.com finish some tile work.
Here’s Kristen at age 21 finishing a tiling job with Bob in Littleton.

Bob: Really?

Mom: He’s 19. (They move towards family room where Bob sees two feet hanging over the edge of the couch in front of a 72 inch screen.)

Mom (in a happy voice): Junior, Bob needs summer help. Come and meet him.

Junior: Mflgsh.

Bob: (Thinks: No way will I ever hire this guy.)

Mom: Junior, this is an opportunity. Come and say hi.

This is an example of Kristen's custom designed tile work in our bathroom. She is halfway through a MFA program in sculpture that requires a dedicated work ethic.
This is an example of Kristen’s custom designed tile work in our bathroom. She is halfway through a MFA program in sculpture where she works 60 and 70 hours a week teaching and doing art.

Junior: (Wearily) No. I don’t feel like it.

Mom: But Junior, you need a summer job.

Junior: I don’t want to.

Mom gives up in exasperation.

Bob has hired one or two other young men like Junior who showed up late or not at all, showed little initiative, and showed great interest in cigarette breaks.

Bob’s best workers come from families where they worked along side of parents doing yard work, using their own set of junior-size tools, and developed a positive work ethic.

At age 19, Junior is nearly a lost cause.

Don’t let your kids become like Junior. Plant the seeds NOW of working around your home and yard, and water them regularly. It’s an investment of time and effort that will pay off for a lifetime with the priceless gift of self-discipline.

Taking care of something else is good for the soul

April 25, 2011
Taking care of pets is an excellent chore for children. Children and pets teach self-discipline because pets need daily care. Taking care of pets teaches children responsibility because it must be done every day, whether they feel like it or not. Here, my husband and teenage daughter are washing the dog. They're also learning teamwork here. The water is SO COLD when they rinse her off.
Gonzo the dog gets a good cleaning from a father-daughter team.

Gardening can be good for the soul according to research reported by the Boston Globe today. Scientists figured out that digging in the dirt, planting seeds, weeding and even watering a jade plant is good for young and old patients in a hospital.

I think the patients feel better because they’re doing something worthwhile. Most people in hospitals are receiving treatment. They’re passive. They don’t do anything for anyone else. Gardening gets them out of that rut.
Gardening provides a plethora of regular chores, as does pet care. A human being must keep plants and pets alive or else they will die. Call it chores, jobs, work, gardening or pet care. Call it anything you like. Just set up a system for your children — starting as early as age 2 — to contribute to the greater good of the family.
Have a family meeting. Make a list of everything you do around the house and have them do the same. Compare the two lists of very different lengths! Ask the youngsters what they would like to do around the house to get some of the chores off your list and onto theirs.
Get someone to take notes. Record the jobs the children volunteer for, and post it on the refrigerator. Make sure you ask them by what time and date they will complete the jobs. Then parents must follow through with as few words and NO nagging. Point to the job that needs doing. Leave notes — “This toilet stinks.” Ask questions. Take action or don’t act.
For example, if a child neglects to set the table after one request, put the meal down on the table, sit down and wait for the utensils and plates to appear. If a child neglects to feed the dog after a question, “Did you feed Gonzo today?” Say without sarcasm, “Gonzo must be awfully hungry today.” And leave it at that.
Act, don’t yak (source: Dr. Sam Goldstein). These three words are useful in many areas of parenting.  Get off your duff and take action. Restrain or remove. Parents have the responsibility to teach accountability. It’s not easy. It takes time, patience and follow through using the magic of kindness and firmness.