Posted tagged ‘helpful tips for parents’

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.

 

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Free kids from technology this summer

July 9, 2012
Kids can learn to go without technology during summer and any time. Give them opportunities to think , read and daydream

A group art project from http://www.beamcamp.com/ where the slogan is, “Kids making things happen.”

 

“We have a rule when our grandsons visit. No technology,” said my friend Carolyn about when the boys, ages 7 and 9, visit their grandmothers’ pond-side home. “They put the video games away for the week and find other things to do.”

The boys’ older sister and a friend came also came to visit the two grandmothers, Carolyn and her wife Carole. The teens were allowed to communicate by cell phone with friends back home, 200 miles away.

“The cell phone is such a big part of teenagers’ social connections,” said Carole. That’s a decent compromise, especially because the teens agreed to visit to grandmas’ house.

All four kids enjoyed old-fashioned pass times, like playing hide-and-go-seek with kids in the neighborhood, playing board games and splashing around in the pond.

The boys are normally glued to gaming consoles.

Some camps have a similar ban on video games, cell phones and portable devices. Technology is prohibited at  Beam Summer Camp in Strafford, NH, just east of Concord. The remote location and lack of plugs make technology use nearly impossible.

“I couldn’t get cell phone reception,” said my daughter Kristen, 24, who led two afternoon “domains” at the camp where students choose what project to work on every afternoon. Beam Summer Camp oozes creativity — without technology.

Some families have technology-free Sundays. What would happen at your home if everyone — parents included — took a break from technology for a set time each week?

How do you manage technology use in your family? Have you brought up the issue at family meetings and asked for input? Are TVs and computers in common areas of the home and not sequestered in bedrooms? Do your kids self-monitor agreements made or are you judge, jury and police officer?

When you shut down technology, be prepared to allow boredom, from which creativity emerges. Daydreaming, reading, and staring at a spider’s web calm the soul.

The helicopter parent has landed!

June 22, 2012

Why Failure is Good for Your Kids.

BookWormMama and I collaborated on this post. Nic loves reading and has a 17 month old baby. When she kindly reviewed my book, “Raising Able:,”  Nic was intrigued by the chapter  “Beware of Helicopters.”

We co-wrote this post and are publishing it simultaneously today (Thanks Nic — this was fun and you wrote most of it 🙂 so readers can understand how failure can benefit children. Crazy, but we all need to learn from our mistakes or continue to repeat them.

Helicopter parenting explained. Many confuse helicopter parenting with being an involved, concerned parent. In reality, textbook helicopter parents are involved in and concerned about their children’s lives to the extreme. These are some of the characteristics of helicopter parents:

· They avoid use of the word “No”

· They intervene to ensure their child’s success

· They overly protect their child from experiencing pain or disappointment

· They prevent their child from experiencing negative consequences of the child’s actions

· They do not give their child the chance to solve their own problems

The issue with helicopter parenting. Experiencing the consequences of their actions in situations where they are not in danger allows children to develop confidence, self reliance, and good decision making.

Take a child who regularly forgets to take lunch money to school. Parents might leave work to take money, nag and remind the child each day, ask the school to run a lunch tab, and a whole host of tactics so that the child does not experience the natural consequence of their own poor planning. It might seem cruel, even criminal, to allow your child to miss a day of chicken Tetrazzini. But the child won’t suffer much from one missed lunch and the “ordeal” will likely sting enough to teach the lesson. It’s a good example of how to give a child enough rope to burn but not enough to hang.

Think you might be a helicopter parent? When your kids have play dates, do you give them space to work out their disagreements? Or do you swoop in with mother hen wings flapping? “We can’t let them hurt themselves,” you argue.

Giving children room to resolve disputes does not mean you stand by while they duke it out. One simple solution is to offer, “If you can’t figure out how to take turns with the truck, I can take it for a while.”

You’ve taken action before the situation escalates and before you got mad.

Choices empower kids to feel the result of their actions and takes you out of the role of judge, jury and executioner.

How to avoid helicopter parenting. Perhaps at this point you have assessed yourself as a helicopter parent, or just want steps for giving your child some space to grow.

Pema Chodron, a Buddist nun, says, recognize, refrain, relax, resolve. To that, add “Revise” and create a plan to be prepared the next time your child engages in a predictable situation. YOU are the one who has to change and give them the gift of space and opportunities to learn.

Think about your greatest lessons in life. They likely came from failure. If we deny our kids the opportunity to fail, feel pain and disappointment, they never learn resilience; how to keep going when things don’t go the way they planned. It takes great courage to start over after failure, and it’s the only way to insure success in work, play and relationships. Kids need failure!

Note from the BookWormMama: I know it will be a challenge for me to watch my daughter as she gets older and experiences pain and disappointment. I’ll have to try to manage my “mother hen wings” so that she grows into a capable young woman.

Do you find it hard to let your kids fail? What life lessons have you learned from failure?

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.

How long can the cocoon last?

March 5, 2012
empowering children, when to have a knife? how safe is safe. Keeping kids safe. Chores, discipline, how to decide, using family meetings and encouragement for toddlers, tweens, teens and school age

Bree is cutting cantaloupe with a very sharp knife. At what age should children be given knives to use?

This picture caused a stir among the workshop room full of parents, day care providers and child-health professionals at a conference I presented at in February in Rhode Island.Comments included: “Just looking at that knife makes me nervous!”

“I’d never let my preschooler have a sharp knife.”

“Is she standing on a stool?

Later, I called my nephew Sean, father of knife-wielding-3-year-old-Bree and reported the women’s response. The audience was female except for one man, who didn’t object. Sean chuckled and said, “Some of my friends’ kids live in a safety cocoon. They never touch knives, scissors or fire.”

Wow. Why deprive children learning about the power of knives, scissors and fire under a parent’s guiding hand? They must live in a sterile bubble where parents hover, ensuring Junior never encounters danger, challenge or failure.

One of the best things we can do for our children is to let them play with knives, scissors and fire — talking about and taking safety measures, teaching how to use knives and matches safely, and how to operate kitchen appliances and basement tools.

I remember the intense heat of a huge campfire my brother Danny built on a camping trip when he was 17 years old and I was 12. The four of us kids compared all subsequent campfires to that glorious blaze, created with our parents nearby, silently watching. Danny, Mary, Brian and I worked as a team to gather wood, stoke it up and make a bed of coals that lasted until morning.

When another nephew and niece visited our home a few years ago at age 16 and 11, they lamented the ban on fires at the summer community on the Chesapeake Bay. I gave them permission to build a fire on our waterfront, and they were thrilled. Fire, knives and scissor have power.

Kids need practice at living life. Practice includes risk and sharp objects and gaining confidence and competence that “I can do it.” When we make too many decisions for our children, protect them from all things lethal, and intervene when hazards lurk, how will they learn what it feels like to hold a knife and use it responsibly?

What do you think? Are your kids allowed to build a fire in the backyard, cut cantaloupe with a knife, and play with matches and candles while you’re around? How do you handle danger?

Source: www.bestautolenders.com

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.”

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.