Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Punishment versus Parenting

(source: huffingtonpost.com)

I love what Elaine Mazlish says about punishment.  She says, "There is no room for punishment in a caring relationship."  I agree.  Punishment does not actually make children want to change behavior, it just makes them mad, and it robs them of the guilt needed to actually make an internal change because they have "paid the price" already for their "crimes."  Also punishment usually just drives the undesirable behavior underground, rather than changing it.  Or it inspires passive-aggressive behavior which you want to avoid at all costs.

A better way, I think, is the way Elaine describes.  She says first you listen to the child's feelings that motivated the behavior and acknowledge them.  Then you state your beliefs/position (teach them a better way, or ask them what a better way would be)  and give them a way to make amends or "fix" what they did.  This hopefully, because it is like a partnership with the child, helping them to become successful, will inspire the healthy guilt that will make them want to change internally.  It actually strengthens the relationship rather than destroys it.  And the relationship is a huge motivator for the child's actions, along with their internal moral compass.

If the child still doesn't change his behavior after you do the above, then you just link a privilege to what you want to change, saying something like, "Well, as soon as you get all your assignments in you can go back to soccer practice, because school work is the most important thing before you add more activities to your life.  But I know you'll figure it out."  This is a much more positive way of doing things rather than saying, "You're grounded for a month!"  It gives hope, and leaves the control in the child's hands.  They can get soccer back whenever they want it badly enough to change their behavior.

So, teach rather than punish.  Offer a way for them to make amends.  You'll find this to be a much more effective way to make the internal changes you are looking for and to shape their moral compass for life.

Here is another article on the effects of punishment from a child psychologist.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Best Teen Parenting Book Ever!

(source: breakthecycle.org)

I just finished reading, "How to talk so TEENS will listen and listen so TEENS will talk", and it is the best book ever!  If I could buy this for every parent of teenagers I would.  If you read this book your life will be MUCH easier.   I will be exploring some of the topics from this book in the next couple of posts because I think they are so important.  But read the book!  It will help you so much!  These are the methods I use on my teens and they are the ONLY things that work, along with the 5 languages of love.  I know because I've tried it all.  Hope it helps with your teens too!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Getting Kids to Be Active

(source: lifefitness.com)

In today's world it's harder and harder for kids to stay active.  With cell phones, internet, ipods, and television, kids have a lot to do before they even think about moving.  The good news is....children like to exercise.  They get grumpy without it, so it doesn't take much engineering to help them become more active.  Here are some tips we have used in our own family.

1. Limit electronics.  We limit this to 30-60 minutes per day and we use it as a reward for getting their jobs done.  Kids are not motivated to move if they have the option of t.v., so we have to limit this so they will find other things to do.

2. Have them exercise while they watch t.v.  I know one mom who doesn't let her kids watch t.v. unless they are on the exercise bike or treadmill.

3. Have exercise equipment around.  We have a trampoline and that helps get the kids motivated.  Swing sets, kiddie pools, sprinklers, and even a good climbing tree are all things that kids love to do.

4.  Make exercise one of their jobs to do each day.  We like to put it on our job chart.

5. Go to the park.  Take your kids to the park and you can read a book while they run all around.

6.  Be a good example.  Kids learn that exercise is important when they see you doing it.

7. Send the kids outside often.  If they have trouble coming up with things to do, write a list of outside activities that they can choose from.  The list always gets their brains fired up and they think of things.

8.  Have a family night at the local track.  My kids think it is so fun to race and to jump in the pit.

9. Take them swimming.  I use swimming at a local pool every day to reward them for getting their jobs done.  I take them and read a book while they swim.

10. Do active things as a family.  Camping, hiking, fishing, biking,skiing, and sledding are all active things that you can do as a family.

11. Go for a family walk in the evenings.

12.  Take your teens on a run in the morning with you.  This is great "talk" time!

(Source: parentsforhealth.org)

Here are more articles on getting the family active!

Make Family time Active Time

Eight Tips to Get your Kids Active

Active Families

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How to be Angry Less

(source: imperfectfamilies.com)

I finally have some time between vacations to post, and I've been wanting to talk a little bit about how to prevent anger when you are parenting.  Anger happens to every parent.  Do not feel bad about all the times you've been angry.  It is a hard, tiring, and stressful job and so it happens, and sometimes quite often.  It is important to realize however, that anger is harmful to children....and that we, as parents, should try to discipline and speak to them without anger as much as possible.  Here are some ways to prevent anger and see it rear it's ugly head less and less in your parenting.

1.  Take time for you.  Make sure that you have just a little bit of alone time each day to ponder, meditate, commune with God, or whatever makes you feel peaceful.

2. Take a shower and get dressed.  You will be surprised at how good this makes you feel!  And how you feel will directly influence how you act with your children.

3. Have a schedule where you can feel like your house is in a little bit of order.  Even if it's just one job a day.  Having a sense of order makes you feel better about yourself.

4. Make sure to listen before you jump to conclusions.  Try to believe the best of your children.  Assume they have good intentions.

5. Work on having a good relationship with your spouse.  This will directly impact how you treat the children and how secure they feel.

6. Do the five languages of love with your children, because they will act better and stress you out less.

7. Slow down.  Simplify.  Try not to plan too much in one week so that you feel stressed out all the time.

8.  Wear a pair of tennis shoes.  This seems like silly advice but you'd be surprised how much better you feel when your shoes are comfortable.  And you'll feel like working more and getting more done.

9. Listen to soothing music throughout the day.

10. Give yourself a time out.  When you feel yourself getting stressed or upset.  Go in your bedroom and close the door.  Breathe, count, pray, read, or do whatever it takes to feel calm again.

11. Talk to a friend.  This always reduces stress and makes you feel happy.

12.  Get outside.  Make sure you are getting sunshine every day.  This will really affect your mood.  Also going on outings with the kids gets rid of some of their energy so your house doesn't feel like such a pressure cooker.

13. Take a day off.  Every once in awhile I give myself the day off from chores and read books all day while the kids play around me.  This makes me feel more relaxed.

14. Get away.  Once a year or so, make sure you get away with yourself or your spouse for a short vacation without children, even if it's just for a day.  This really helps your perspective.

15.  Develop a sense of humor!  Laugh about it.  Many things that we take seriously just don't matter that much.  And laughing about it helps to ease tension.

16. Get enough sleep!  Don't forget that things always look better when you've had enough sleep.  Force yourself to go to bed on time!

Hope these tips help!  And I hope you are having a wonderful summer vacation!  I'll try to keep posting in between our trips this summer!  Here is another great article about anger.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Healthy Eating for the Family

No time to post until next Monday as I am babysitting my sister-in-law's kids, but hope you enjoy this site with a ton of great articles on healthy eating for the family that I found interesting!  See you next week!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

How to Listen

(source: childs-play-healing.com)

Listening is a huge part of parenting.  I would say parenting is 60 percent listening and 40 percent teaching.  Many parents rush to judge or lecture when their child starts to talk to them, but if you hold yourself back from lecturing (I know it's hard, sometimes I have to bite my lip to stop myself) you'll be surprised how often they can and should solve their own problems.  And it is always more effective if they do, because they listen to themselves more than they listen to us.

You, of course, can ask guiding or leading questions, but try not to give them the answers.  Let them figure it out as they talk to you.

Here are some tips on a type of listening called reflective listening which is really effective with kids and with your spouse.

1. Listen to the whole problem.  Let them finish.
2. Reflect back to them what you heard.  Say, "So what your saying is that you don't have time to clean your room, and do your homework, and hang out with friends?"
3.  Let them correct you if you are wrong.
4. Reflect it again, and see if you got it right.
5.  Ask them how they think the problem could be solved to make both people happy.  Hold back from giving advice.
6.  Just listen.  Be willing to try solutions even if they aren't your first choice.  Be supportive.  Let them try things even if you think it won't work, then re-visit the issue in a couple of days.  Use your reflective listening skills again.  Ask them what they've learned and what new thing they think they should try.

I promise this will work better than any lecture than you can give and it will make them feel loved and supported and empower them to solve their own problems and work toward compromises...which is what we all want for our children!

Here is a book that explains the process in depth, and is really fun to read:

How toTalk so kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Here is a link to an article on "Active Listening" that is also really informative!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

Warnings help prevent Tantrums

(source: intellegentnest.com)

Yesterday as we were driving home from vacation, I realized a huge practice I use in order to prevent tantrums.  I give the kids 5 minute warnings for almost everything.  If they are sharing the Ipad, and one starts to say, "It's my turn," I usually respond, "Okay, in five minutes it will be your turn."  Not only does this help the child to learn to wait their turn instead of getting things right when they demand, but it also helps the one who has to give up the toy have some warning, so it doesn't take them by surprise.

Taking kids by surprise with change is, I would say, the main cause of tantrums, along with hunger and tiredness.  So, in order to have to deal with less sadness, I usually give five minute warnings for things like: going to bed, leaving someone's house, going on an outing, stopping their computer time or t.v. time, sharing toys, eating dinner, and any change in activity.  I say something like, "Ray, you have five minutes before your friend has to go home."  And magically, this makes it all okay.  Sometimes I give a two minute and one minute warning if I think it's going to make them really sad, and if they are really young.  So try 5 minute warnings if you haven't already.  You'll find it reduces many of the tantrums at your house!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Aaah! Vacation!

(source: tropicalvacationspotsblog.com)

We're on vacation for the 4th!  Check back next Monday for more fun!  Hope your family has a happy 4th of July!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Guest Post Humor Essay

Today I'd like to welcome author, Rebecca Jamison, to this blog about many random parenting thoughts.  Rebecca has written THREE awesome novels called, "Persuasion:  a Latter Day Tale", "Emma: A Latter Day Tale," and "Sense and Sensiblitiy: A Latter Day Tale".    Her website is www.rebeccahjamison.com, if you want to check her books out and read her blog.   I am so excited to have her here!

Just for A Passion 4 Parenting, Rebecca has composed a humorous family essay about her own family life that I wanted to share with you!   Here it is:  Enjoy!

Homework and the Child Abuse Hotline
By Rebecca H. Jamison

My son, Owen*, wasn’t much for doing homework. Every afternoon after school, I’d sit with him, coaching him through the hour-long ordeal. I tried setting timers, giving rewards, and withholding privileges. Nothing seemed to help, but I stuck with it. For three long years—from first through third grade—Owen completed every homework assignment.

I knew Owen was smart enough to do the work on his own. What I didn’t know was that his mind was occupied in a much grander scheme—a way to get out of the homework hassle altogether. Everything clicked for him one fateful day when a police officer visited his school to talk about child abuse and said these magic words, “If an adult ever does anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, call the child abuse hotline.” He then handed Owen a little pamphlet with the hotline number.

That afternoon, Owen came home with a gleam in his eye and the pamphlet in his fist. When I asked him to sit down with me for homework time, he quoted the police officer, “Officer Murphy said that if you do anything that makes me feel uncomfortable, I should call the child abuse hotline.”

“He didn’t mean homework,” I responded.

“Officer Murphy said that if my parents did anything to make me feel uncomfortable, I should call,” Owen said. “The way you force me to do my homework makes me uncomfortable.”

This tactic wouldn’t have worked on most parents, but Owen knew my shameful history. I had already been accused of abusing him. It all had to do with his sister drawing a fake purple birthmark on his bottom (because, you know, every child should have a birthmark.) Someone thought the “birthmark” was a bruise and called child protective services. The officer had cleared me immediately, but I still lived in fear of another report.

So we had a long, psychology-based discussion about how my son felt about homework. I concluded that maybe I was being too hard on him. “Okay,” I said. “I’ll try to be nicer about it.” Because of our long discussion, my son got very little homework done that day.

The next day went about the same. My son wanted to discuss how homework made him so uncomfortable, and I found myself wishing there was some sort of parent-abuse hotline I could call to report Officer Murphy.

A week later, I still hadn’t convinced Owen that making him do his homework was simply good parenting, not abuse. “You know what, Owen,” I said, going out on a limb. “Why don’t you call the child abuse hotline and ask them whether making you do your homework is abusive?”

Owen’s eyes grew wide. “I lost the number.”

Without much effort, I found the pamphlet in a drawer. “It’s right here. Just call and ask them whether making you do homework is abusive. I really want to know.”

I handed him the pamphlet. He didn’t move.

“Here,” I said, picking up the phone for him. “I’ll dial for you.”

Before I got three numbers punched in, my son grabbed the phone from me. “Don’t make me call them, Mom.”

I paused, watching my son. Trying to be as sensitive as possible, I asked, “You mean calling the child abuse hotline makes you feel . . .uncomfortable?”

“Yes,” he answered.

“Well,” I responded, “I wouldn’t want you to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.” I hung up the phone. “Get to work on your homework.”

Owen sat down, pencil in hand, and did his homework without argument. Thanks to Officer Murphy, I’d found a solution to the homework dilemma.

*Name changed to protect the not-so-innocent.