Posted tagged ‘positive parenting’

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.

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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.

Use the crate when dogs and kids make bad choices

January 17, 2011
This is Lily in her crate, which she likes because she is contained. She gets a break. The crate is like a playpen -- it's safe place to go where you can play and not get into trouble. You can lie down take a nap and no one will bother you. You know what is expected of you. It can be a relief to go in there because it limits your choices. It's safe. Dog Crates and baby playpens are useful when TRaining Dogs and children to behave and to learn discipline. Toddlers, preschoolers, school-age, tweens, and teens can benefit from the "playpen" of their rooms. They can feel safe and contained. Sometimes they need to be restrained and have some time to think about their behavior. Sometimes parents need a break.

Lily goes to her crate voluntarily. It's like a playpen for a toddler or a teen's room. It's her space, a place no one can bother her, and she's safe. A crate is a wonderful place for a puppy.

I believe in using containment when training dogs and children. When Lily the puppy chews on a plant, I crate her with a chew toy. When a toddler puts a fork in an outlet, he goes into the playpen.  “Act, don’t Yak!”  [Dr. Sam Goldstein]  Dogs and children of all ages respond to action. They tune out lectures.

Dogs and tots-to-teens can benefit from containment in a crate, playpen or bedroom. They feel safe in their space. It provides contemplation time for parents and young people.

Even though I shepherded four teenagers through adolescence, I never grounded them as punishment. I did shorten their leash when they made poor choices. I didn’t let them use my car except to get to work.  I said, “You can have your friends over here while I am home” or “You can stay home with us tonight and watch ‘Lassie’ ” or another G-rated movie.

The trouble with grounding and using violent punishment to train a dog or child —  like yelling, berating, belittling and hitting  — is that it breeds revenge, resentment and rebellion. It shows children and dogs that bullying works to get others to do what you want. I used to think children had to feel pain and be punished to learn. I was wrong. They have to feel consequences to learn, but they don’t have to be violent.

Positive discipline always looks for the three Rs — related-respectful-reasonable  [Jane Nelsen Ph.D.] — in a natural or logical consequence. It works for dogs and humans. When Lily doesn’t come when she’s called, she gets put on the leash because she has demonstrated she can’t be trusted.

When young people show they can’t be trusted, their leash gets shortened. They must stay closer to home, in their room or playpen, where they can re-group and feel contained.

Dogs and kids both respond to encouragement, kindness, firmness and consistency. Children and dogs both want to please. When parents bully, children and dogs become bitter and mean. Then they feel hurt and want to hurt back their parents. They can become bullies and/or victims.

When Lily makes a good decision, I shower her with “good dog!” and lots of petting. Tots-to-teens respond to encouragement, too. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a good reminder to work on non-violent parenting skills. Parents, dogs and children can be trained in non-violent discipline.

If you can train a dog, you can train a child

January 13, 2011

The worst thing about taking care of two extra dogs is the puppy, Lily.  When I remember she’s a puppy, I take time for training. It’s the same for children, toddlers, preschoolers, tweens, and teens. Adjust my expectations for their age and take time for training.

Lily had the annoying habit of rushing through an open door. The other two dogs followed her exuberance and created chaos every time the front door opened. UGH!

I took the time to train Lily.

1. I had a plan. Before I opened the door, I told her to “hold it” and used a hand signal. Dogs understand the idea, Act, don’t Yak. [Source: Dr. Sam Goldstein.]

2. When she tried to rush out the door, I used a firm voice, said “Hold it!” or “No!” quickly closed the door and brought her back to wait beside the door. This took a few repetitions. I praised her when she did it right.

3.  I followed the door routine for several days,.  Sometimes she or I forgot and I repeated step two. Lily showed her intelligence by learning quickly. I showed my intelligence by being consistent.

As you can see in “after” Lily has gained some self-control and listens to me, which carries over to other areas and establishes me as Alpha.

Training also benefits children and teenagers.

1. Anticipate difficult situations and craft a positive parenting plan. For older children, use a family meeting to talk about the problem and solutions. For younger children, act, don’t yak, before getting angry. Following this one step can eliminate about 90 percent of all conflicts with younger children.

2. When the youngster forgets the training, remind him/her and use a related-respectful-reasonable [Source: Dr. Jane Nelsen]  consequence in the moment. When the child does it right, use encouragement, not praise.

3. For best results, all adults at home consistently enforce the new training. It’s good to have an adult Alpha at home.

This week, pick one behavior issue in your home and take time for training. The younger the child, and the more consistent you are, the sooner they will learn.

Be prepared with a plan and Act don’t Yak.

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.