Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Resist Rescue


Children and teens need to make mistakes, and you need to let them.  Many parents think they are showing love by helping their children avoid the consequences of their actions.  For instance, perhaps your teen doesn't turn in his assignments, and you intervene and talk with the teacher for him.  It would be much better if the teen were allowed to work it out with the teacher himself, or actually get a bad grade in order to help him "wake up."

This worked with my oldest daughter.  I was constantly reminding her to turn in her practice sheets, and running them to school when she forgot.  And she kept forgetting her assignments in other classes as well.  One day, I realized what I was doing.  My child was not learning because she never had to experience her own consequences.  So I quit reminding and told her my plan to not rescue her anymore.  That semester she got an "F" in Orchestra (this was Junior high).  That grade shocked her so much that for the rest of her school career she worked extremely hard to make sure it never happened again.

Another example of not rescuing is letting your children get detention when they are late for school and to quit sending in excuses for their tardies.  Of course they won't be happy about it, but they will learn.  And you can show an increase of love to them each time they make a mistake.  Talk to them about what they are learning and why you aren't rescuing them:  because you LOVE them.  Tell them you are helping them learn to be successful in the real world.

Now there are some children who don't care about natural consequences such as grades (sometimes this is because of problems in the home and that they are acting out their anger/insecurities, or sometimes they just aren't motivated by those things).  When this happens, I think it is important to give them the extra incentive to do better by linking their privileges to their responsibilities, as I talked about in the previous post.

However, remember through all these things that LOVE is the main motivator for good actions.  And that if children aren't getting enough love and stability at home, then they will act out no matter what consequences they experience.  So make sure you are doing those love languages.

It's important to let your children make mistakes and to let them fix them themselves, even when they are young.  They will really learn to be independent and happy this way, and you will be happier too.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Helping teens Obey


As important as it is for your children to know how to follow rules, it's even more important for your teens because they have the potential to get into more dangerous trouble if they don't.  If you've taught your child when they were young, this should be easier than you think.  However, if you treat your teens like you treat your little ones, you may have a full blown rebellion on your hands.  Teens want to be treated more like adults.  They want more freedoms and you can help them learn responsibility through this desire.

 Keep in mind that the best way to change behavior is using the "Love languages" I've mentioned before.  But sometimes teens may need a little extra incentive to work with the family instead of in their own interests.  The best way to help teens continue to obey rules that will help them to be happy is to link their freedoms to those rules.  In real life, privilege comes with responsibility.  So you can teach your teen in your home that they only get to "drive the car", or hang out with friends, have a cell phone, or be on the computer if they are following the rules.  You can teach them that freedom comes with responsibility this way.

You will be amazed how well this works.  You don't have to get mad.  You don't have to lecture.  You just set up the rules and the freedoms that come with following them.  And when they don't do it, you take away the freedom linked to the rule for that day or until they follow it again.  For instance, if they are late to school, you take away their cell phone for the day (tell them, "I'm sorry you chose to lose the cell phone by being late.  I hope you'll do better tomorrow) (Make sure to show an increase of love throughout the day to help them know you love them).  Then if they are on time the next day (and they will be) you give it back.

You can talk to your teens about how they are getting more freedom as they grow more responsible.  Make sure you give them more trust and freedom as they show their responsibility and point it out so they have some positive reinforcement of their good choices.  For instance, as they prove that they are responsible about getting homework done and being on time for curfew, you can give them more time with their friends.  You should be eventually helping them to become completely independent as they show their competence.  You want them to be able to leave home and be independent eventually, so you'll want to give them more and more freedom and independence as they grow.

You'll find that your teens are much happier when they can control themselves and are following the rules.  They have higher self esteem and they'll do better at home and in school.  This method has worked wonders for our kids and if you are consistent even when they are not happy about the consequences, you will find it works great for you too.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Teaching Children to Obey


This is a tricky subject because every child is different, but I am going to recommend the system that has worked well for me with my own children and the children I have taught in classrooms.  I even use it with my teens when they have trouble doing what I ask.  Here is the step by step method that has worked wonders for me without me having to get angry.

1.  Ask the child nicely to do something that you need them to do.  Do not command.  Commands will make them feel like rebelling.  You will be suprised how much asking them will work.

2.  If the child doesn't listen, see if there are obstacles such as hunger, being overwhelmed, distracted, or tiredness that are inhibiting their obedience.  If so, take care of that first, if not...

3. Tell them you will help them to obey, and physically go over and help them to do what you ask.  Do not get angry, just cheerfully help them.

4.  If they still will not obey, then you can use the 123 magic method which is where you count to three and if they are still not obeying on three you give them a logical consequence (without anger) that the child will care about.  (You must ALWAYS give the consequence if you get to count three, otherwise it won't work and the child will test you to see if you are serious all the time).

This method really works, and if you are very consistent, and using the love languages too, you will have to get to step four less and less over time.

It is very important though that children learn to obey....the younger you teach them, the easier it will be for you and them.  Also when children can control their bodies and make themselves obey, they will have more self-esteem, and learn how to function well in society and in school.  So this is one of the MOST important skills you will teach your child.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

What to do when you lose your temper


Ha!  Why am I writing on this subject?  Because I lost my temper with some tantrum-throwing child just last night, and it reminded me that I've learned a lot over the years about what to do when that happens.

So sometimes you just get tired, or sick, or overwhelmed....and it happens.  You lose your temper.  And then you feel terrible. What should you do?

Usually when this happens the first thing, is to calm down and gain some perspective.  I usually go to a different room and think about what happened, why it happened, and what the real problem is. One woman I know retires to her bedroom to pray her bad feelings away.  This works too.

The point is anger is a secondary emotion, triggered by something stress.  It is a protective alarm clock for your body, telling you "something is wrong."  So the trick is, to stop everything, figure out what the problem is, and then calm down, so the anger goes away.  (Anger can be very damaging to a child, so it is important to understand how to deal with it, and not indulge the emotion after it strikes) (I'll talk more about anger and prevention of it and the proper expression in another post).

There are tricks to calming down.  Some people like to hit their pillow, some people like to listen to music or talk it out with a safe person, and some people just like to count to 100.  All these things work.

Once you have figured out what the problem is, apologize.  It is important for you to model the behavior you want your child to learn when he makes mistakes.  If you apologize and then show an increase of love to him, this will help him feel better and learn appropriate behavior for when he makes mistakes.

You also need to find a time to discuss the problem if he needs to make a change.  Ask him how he would solve the problem.  Kids come up with some amazing solutions!

Lastly, research has shown that it takes 4 positive experiences to erase one negative experience in a relationship.  So as long as you keep doing those love languages to the child you will be fine.  Make sure you show an increase in love to him.


Hope this helps!  My tantrum-thrower forgave me last night and I am glad.  I know your children will forgive you too.  That's the nice thing about children....they love us no matter how many mistakes we make.  We just need to keep trying.  So don't feel bad....just work on it.  We all have to....and you are not alone in this struggle.  It takes time...forgive yourself and move on, just trying to do a little better each day.  Over time, you will get better at not losing your temper.  I know because it happened to me!

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Five love Languages

I mentioned in a previous post that one of my favorite books is "The 5 Love Languages of Children" by Gary Chapman,Ph.D.  (The book on teens and the one on marriage are also really great).

I wanted to list the five love languages.  The first love language is "Words of Affirmation." 
This is a great article about complimenting children.


 Words of affirmation are when you say nice things to your child like, "I really love it that you put your backpack away when you come in the house every day.  That is so helpful!"  You can tell your children need this when they just shine after you give them compliments.  Also they will compliment you a lot.

The next love language is "Quality Time."

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 Some children really need a lot of one on one time.  This is where you take them on a date, or play a game with them, or read to them at bedtime.

The third love language is "touch."  

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Many children need lots of hugs, pats, back scratches, wrestling, whatever form of touch is most comfortable to them.  You can tell this if they are always hanging on you wanting hugs or to be rocked and held if they are little.  Some children will always hit and tackle you, and that is also a sign that they need touch.

The fourth love language is "Service."

 This is where you do things for your child, like make their lunch for school.  We all know we shouldn't do everything for our kids.  They need to be independent, but we should show them love by doing some acts of service for them.

The last love language is giving "gifts."  

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This is when you give your child a present like a souvenir from a trip.  Some children treasure gifts more than others.  It is interesting to see how they cherish and put them in special places and take them out often to look at it.  A gift can even be a special rock found at a beach.

The main point I want to make about this is that every child will have one or two "main" love languages that they need the most.  But I have discovered in my own family and through working in classrooms that ALL CHILDREN NEED ALL LOVE LANGUAGES.

Each of my children have a main one, but they crave all of them, so I have to do them all for each child, while being mindful of the one they crave the most.  As soon as I started doing the love languages with my children and trying to figure out what each child needed, my whole family improved.  I stopped having to discipline almost ever because their behavior was so good.  It was amazing.  Now usually they just do what I ask them to do.  If they don't, it usually just takes a small discussion to remedy it.  This is because they are so full of love and security that they want to do what is right.  The reason children act out is because they may feel unloved and insecure.  Not that they aren't getting love, but they may not be getting it in "their" language that they need.  So it is worth researching.

Here is a website to help you figure out your family's love languages.  It is worth the time and effort because it will make your life so much easier and your family so much happier!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Parenting with a sense of Humor

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How can I put this?  You need to laugh more!  All parents do.  Parenting is HARD sometimes.  And if you can find the things to laugh about during the day, it will diffuse stress and reduce your anxiety...making you a better parent.  So go ahead...laugh when you have to practice saying your teenagers name over and over to find which way will not offend her.  Laugh when your baby smears honey all over himself and the cupboards and the dog.

 You will be glad you did.  And your kids will thank you for being a much more relaxed parent who is able to keep things in perspective.  It's going to be okay in the end. It really will!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Stable Marriage: The best gift to your Children

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I just wanted to share with you today what I think is one of the most important principles in raising a family:  A stable marriage.  This is not easy.  It takes work.  And there are many times when although ideal, it just isn't going to happen because of death, divorce, abuse, or apathy of one partner.  These are things that exist and I do not mean to make anyone feel bad, because we are all doing the best that we can, and there are things that cannot be helped or fixed.  But if it is a possibility for you, it is worth the time to put a lot of work into making your marriage stable.  Nurturing this relationship should be a priority even over nurturing the children (although both are extremely important).  This will give your children the most happiness and the best chance at success.  You can do every other thing for your child, but if your marriage is not stable then things may be harder for the children, they may act out more, and whatever you do may be undermined by the insecurities they feel.

So I wanted to share with you today my favorite marriage books.  They have helped me so much to understand my partner and to get my marriage stable so that my children can thrive.  The first is called,

Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, by Dr. John Gottman.  This book is life changing!!!  It even helped one of my friends improve her relationship with her mother-in-law!

And you can probably guess the 2nd book I am going to recommend: because it works!

I promise you these books will change your life!  They changed mine, and my husband's and my relationship is still going strong and happy after 20 years!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How to criticize less

I said in the previous post that criticism is the destroyer of relationships and that is true...especially when you criticize someone's character.  This is really true when working with children. We all need to do better at this, including myself.  I went to a class at a women's conference one year and the teacher taught some great principles on how to help yourself stop criticizing.  These tips have really helped me over the years!  (Please don't feel guilty if you have a problem criticizing...we all do, especially on bad days...I just think the problem can be worked on, and I have gotten better over the years by following these guidelines).

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1. Keep in mind that many times criticism stems out of not feeling good about oneself.  And so many of these tips are about getting your own world in order, so that you can feel good about others.

2.  Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep.

3. Eat nutritious foods and try to avoid junk.  Exercise!

4. Carve out a specific time for yourself for alone time each day.

5. Make sure you are having time each day to commune with God through prayer or scriptures or however you do it.  (This can be difficult with little ones, but it, and number 4 are extremely important even if it is only 10 minutes.  I think this tip helps a lot!)

6.  Keep this mantra in your head, "Teach, don't criticize.  Remember that you are "working with" your kids, not against them.

7. Listen listen, listen, before you speak.  Find out what the real problem is first.

8. Go somewhere and calm down if you are angry.  Then talk about it with the person after you think about what the real problem is.

9.  If you do have to give a consequence, give it in private.  Avoid shaming in front of others.

10. Simplify your life, so that you are not overwhelmed.

These tips have really helped me to keep calm and not criticize.  I hope they will help you too keep a strong relationship with your children!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Nurturing Self-Esteem

A friend of mine posted on facebook that she didn't have time to hide the Easter Eggs for the kid's egg hunt yesterday and so she decided to have the kids hide each other's eggs.  It was a great success and the kids loved it even better than when mom hid the eggs.

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This reminded me of how we need to give our children self esteem.  Many parents of today think that self esteem comes from giving their child praise for everything they do.  While praise is very important, the real way a child gains self esteem is through trying to do things for themselves and eventually learning to succeed at it.  They learn great lessons when parents will let them do things for themselves, mistakes and all.  When a parent teaches a child a skill, and lets them practice, making mistakes and learning from them, and eventually getting better at it over time, the child's self esteem will grow.  This takes more time than praise, and so is a little harder to do, but so worth it.

I remember when we took care of a foster child for a little while.  We taught him how to make himself french toast because it was his favorite breakfast.  He was so proud of himself.  At first it was a huge mess, but eventually we could see the confidence he was gaining just from this one experience.

When you do praise your child for their efforts, make sure it is true....and specific.  Otherwise it will be pretty meaningless to them.  You can always find things good about what they are doing, even if mostly they are just making a mess.  If they are scribbling all over the page they are coloring, you can tell them that you love the colors they chose, for example.  Also, be sure as you are teaching them new skills that you hold back the criticism.  Criticism is a destroyer of self-esteem and relationships.  Teach, don't criticize.  You can say, "You did such a great job cleaning the sink.  Look how white it is.  Now let me show you how you can make the faucet really shiny."

But basically most of the ways my own kids have gained self-esteem is by learning to do things for themselves, understanding their relationship to a God who loves them, and also by having opportunities to develop their talents.  (I will talk about developing talents in another post).

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Easter!

Couldn't resist reposting this from my friend's facebook post! 

Happy Easter!!

Hope you had fun dying eggs with your little ones!

TIME: The magic word in families

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A wise man named Deieter F. Uchdorf once said, "When it comes to families love is spelled, T-I-M-E."  This is very true.  Time is one of the things your children most need, but it is also one of the least things we, as mothers have to give.  I used to spend time with all five of my children quite often: going on picnics, to science centers, making playdough.  However, I found this was not enough.  Children don't count it as a show of love unless it is "one on one" time.  This is extremely important to accept.  It took me awhile to really believe this concept because I didn't want to do it.  But the minute I began giving each child a "Mommy date" once a week, their happiness increased and their behavior improved, by miles.  They started to be golden children, and I am not exaggerating.  Quality time is one of the languages of love, and it is important to children...all children, even if it is not their main "Love Language".  I'll talk about love languages next, but I wanted to highlight this one because it is so important.  Our dates are not long.  I just run them to McDonald's for a dollar menu treat or to the dollar store, and talk to them about how they are doing while we do it.  It takes probably 15 minutes.  But to them, it is the most important 15 minutes in the world.  Try it.  It will transform your family almost overnight.  I guarantee it!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Mistakes are okay

One thing I want to make known right away is that mistakes are fine.  We came here to learn and make mistakes.  The key is to fix them and move on.  No worries!  Kids are very resilient, they will let you know when you've made mistakes by their words or their behavior, and it's our job as parents, to figure out what is going on, and to fix the relationship or the problem.  The books in the previous post are REALLY helpful at figuring out why kids aren't acting the way you think they should.

Children will bounce back almost the minute you fix things....if not the minute, then very soon.  They are sponges for our love, and need it constantly.  When they are getting enough, you will notice a huge improvement in their behavior.  We will explore some trouble areas and some preventative measures on this blog, but just know....if you haven't been doing this all along...IT'S OKAY!  I didn't start to "get it" until I was about 40 years old, so you are probably faster on the ball than me.  And my kids are doing great.  So don't worry.  Just enjoy the process of becoming the best parent you can be.  It takes time, and luckily, kids are good with that!

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

My favorite parenting books

I've read a lot of parenting books over the years, and I mean A LOT!  I feel like it's important to study methods and ideas in order to be successful in parenting.  You need to find out information and then try it out on your own family.  And so over the years I've gleaned a list of three parenting books that have worked amazingly well with not only my family, but in the classrooms where I have taught other people's children as well.  I've taught children for about 15 years in church classrooms and so have developed lots of ideas about what works with children and what doesn't.  So as you read this blog, many ideas probably originated in some ways from these three books I am about to share with you.

The first book is very popular, and all I can say is that it's probably because the principles in the book really work!  When I read this book and tried it out on my family, the kids went from doing pretty good to doing outstandingly well.  This book transformed my family.  The title is "The 5 Love Languages of Children" by Gary Chapman,Ph.D.  (The book on teens and the one on marriage are also really great).

My next favorite book is written by the co-author of the above book.  I'ts called, "How to Really Love your Child," by Ross Campbell, MD.

It was life changing for me.  I really learned a lot from it.

And last but not least:  My favorite book for helping small children learn to obey.  It really does work like magic, and without you having to get angry or yell or whatever you hate about getting kids to obey.  I still use it on my teens when I really need to.  Although, truthfully, because of the above two books, I rarely have to do more than ask nicely.  I'm telling you...the above two books REALLY WORK!  The book that I use with my young children to help them learn to obey when they need help though, is called, "1-2-3 Magic," by Thomas Phelan, PhD.

And that's it.  These are my parenting bibles.  And they work.  Try them out!  You'll see amazing changes in your family!

Why I'm writing this blog

As I sit here wondering why I am adding more things to my already gigantic to-do list, I realize that the reason I want to do this is simply that it is my passion.  I have passionately wanted to be a good parent, and over the years I have studied and experimented and worked through so many things that have worked and not worked, and I know many parents struggle with the same things I did.  I wanted to share my experiences, my mistakes, and my successes, so that maybe someone else might benefit from what I have learned.  It may just be my children, as I plan to make a book for them of the things I write on this blog, but I hope what I have to share will benefit the families of the world in some way that may give help and hope, and bring joy to people's lives, helping them to enjoy the fruits of being a good parent.  Please feel free to comment or send questions about parenting, and I will share my experiences with you, and hopefully you will share your own experiences in the comment section.  Together we will help the children of the world to succeed through strengthening families.  I hope to post every day so come back often!


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