Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Childhood is Precious!

Yesterday at the preschool lunch table, my little ones were discussing Duck Dynasty and the "F" Word.  Now parents, I am sharing this without judging as I stand in the knowledge that my four children had moments in their schooling where I am SURE that their teachers heard questionable things coming from their little mouths.

I clearly remember sharing with a "friend" the fact that her son had been discussing that very word with my daughter in their first grade class, and the woman never spoke to me again! I was not sharing the message with her for any other reason than to let her know and possibly have a conversation with her son.  Just like I had to do with my daughter.  But her defensiveness ran deep, as it does with many of us when issues concern out kids.  But here is my non-judgmental plea.

Please don't use bad language around your kids, or allow your older children to.  Please don't leave it for the teachers to teach what language is appropriate.  And please don't allow your young children unfettered access to any and every TV program that is found on cable.  Just because you find something entertaining doesn't mean it should be shown in front of your little ones.

Preserve and protect your children.  There will be plenty of time for them in the future to watch what ever they like or speak however they choose.  But for now, during this brief time when they are little and innocent and naive, strive to protect them from adult messages, themes and language.  Childhood is fleeting.  Childhood is temporary.  Don't push your little ones into the adult world before they are ready.  Allow them to revel in childhood, with it's simple joys of playtime and discovery.  They will be grown in the blink of an eye.  So today, resolve to honor who they are at this most precious time and protect their childhood.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Does Your Parenting Partner Do Everything Wrong?

In speaking to parents, I often hear the complaint that the other parent does everything wrong.  This my friends, is a lie you like to tell yourself.  Just like the lie that you only ate one of the cookies in the cookie jar.  We have an amazing ability to create untruths and convince ourselves of their merit.  Your child's other parent does NOT do everything wrong, just like you do NOT do everything right.  We all make parenting mistakes.  The key is to learn and grow from them, and also navigate the parenting path with the other parent in the BEST interest of your child.

So here a few tips to help you make this happen, remember it is for your child.  That makes it worthwhile.

1.  Set the Stage:  Have an adult conversation about your parenting efforts at a non emotional, relaxed time.  Hire a sitter and go to dinner.  Examine together what you think you are doing well, and where you might need to tighten up.

2.  Agree on the Basics:   Find common ground about where you want to set limits for your child and how you will reenforce good behavior, and what you will do when your child's behavior is falling short.  The more united you are, the better for your child.  Mixed signals from parents are confusing and also grant your child a license to manipulate you, and play you against each other.  You need to be in agreement.

3.  Look in the Rear View Mirror:  Examine the type of parenting you were exposed to as a child, and have a conversation with your spouse or co-parent about how he/she was raised.  What did your parents do well, and what were their shortcomings.  This exercise can help you both understand why you react the way you do to your own child.  Usually we either mimic how we were raised or we swing way to the opposite side of how we were raised, in order to "make up" to our kids for any hurt we felt as a child.

4.  Don't Fight In Front Of Your Child:  This kind of behavior is damaging to your kid.  Promise each other that when you disagree, (which is bound to happen) you will relocate to a different room and hash it out.  Remember that you are the adults!

5.  Model Respect:  Respecting each other is key to having your children respect you in the future.  If you call each other names and carry on like preteens, your child will grow up lacking respect for either of you...and that is NOT what you want.

These 5 tips can help your child.  So put your ego aside.  Stop blaming your spouse or co-parent for all of his/her shortcomings and unite to become better parents.  Seek out parenting support if you need it from parenting classes or books or blogs.  Working on your parenting skills will bring a closer bond between you and your child, and a brighter future for all of you.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Four tips for Parenting 3-year Olds

Most people have heard the parenting phrase "the terrible twos" and expect that when their bundle of joy hits the two year old mark, all hell will break loose.  And it does, to a point.  But if the twos are a thunderstorm, the threes can bring on a full blown hurricane.  And how is a parent supposed to deal with a two legged, quick fisted, smart mouthed three year old?  Wasn't this supposed to get easier?

Here are my tried and true tips for successfully parenting a three year old terror.

1.  Change your attitude!:  Why would this be the first tip?  Because often times, in parenting, we get ourselves all wrapped up in what is going wrong and forget to look at what is going right.  With an attitude adjustment of our own, our three year old doesn't seem to be Satan's spawn anymore.  Three year olds are intensely curious.  They delight in learning new things.  So if you look at your little one through a rose colored lens, and find joy in his/her zeal for life. The behavior blips don't seem quite as annoying.

2.  Be Battle Ready:  Two year olds will have moments of defiance.  But defiance can quickly can dissolve into tears and a quick scoop up for a hug or lighting fast diversion technique can leave them giggling in the next split second.  Three year olds are ready to go toe to toe to get their way.  They have learned new techniques to argue and whine and push your buttons.  Revel in their amazing capabilities, (see tip #1) but stand ready to keep your backbone in tact and lay down the law.  Remember they are listening and watching EVERYTHING that you say and do.  So only say what you mean.--and then stand ready to enforce it.  If you tell them that you are leaving the park in 5 minutes, call them in 5 minutes and leave the park.  If you say that you will play with them after you fold the laundry, get on the floor and play with them after you fold the laundry.  By CONSISTENTLY doing what you say you are going to do, you are helping them build trust in you and respect your authority.

3.  Boredom is unacceptable:  Three year olds crave action and stimulation.  They need to be played with, read to, talked to, and cuddled.  They want attention.  They "get into things" when they are bored and lacking stimulation.  Three year olds are a full time job.  Recognize this and revel in this.  They grow up so fast and these precious days filled with simple pleasures will become a treasure in your memory bank.

4.  Good Parenting Begins Early:  The sooner you figure out how to combine being the authority in your children's lives with being the loving, nurturing presence to them, the better!  You will laying the ground work for a successful family life.  Little children crave limits just as teenagers do.  A strong bond and working relationship with your toddler, translates into a child who understands self control and respects you as an authority in his/her life.  These skills will prove invaluable in the years to come.  So don't be discouraged by the difficulty your three year old creates from time to time.  Remember to count it as a blessing for growth, and an opportunity for you to strengthen those ever important parenting skills.

5.  Remember to Take A Break:  Good parents spend some time away from their little ones, in order to recharge their batteries.  This is necessary and important.  You will be a better parent if you see to your own needs in addition to your children's needs.  So call grandma or your neighborhood sitter and plan some time for yourself.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Six Ways to Teach Children About Beauty

The media is guilty of pushing certain ideas about beauty upon all of us.  Our impressionable children are influenced by these airbrushed, retouched, ridiculously unrealistic images of what beauty is.  Recently, shocking photos of teenage models featured in an advertisement for Target Retail Stores were mistakenly run when the editing of the size of their thighs and arms were obviously altered.

What does this say about our culture?  We are obsessed with certain unhealthy beauty concepts and this negatively affects all of us.  Why else would we feel the need to shoot up our faces with Botox, fill our lips with collagen, and endure surgeries that promise to make us appear younger and thinner.  How can we help our children develop healthy ideas about what beauty truly is in the midst of this madness?  Here are my ideas:

  • Share books with them that feature characters from a variety of cultures and backgrounds.

  • Watch movies that contain messages about moral character--and how beauty can radiate from within a person, no matter what their physical being looks like.

  • Talk about character traits such as kindness, compassion and empathy and how these traits can make a person beautiful. 

  • Expose children to beauty in art, architecture, dance, theater, music, poetry and nature.

  • Embrace your own beauty. Smile and laugh everyday, and realize that feeling joyful is beautiful.

  • Limit exposure to magazines and television shows that glorify shallow and inhumane messages that objectify people.  
Please share your ideas on how to raise children who hold healthy ideas about beauty and share this post if you agree with mine.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Invite A Guest To Dinner!

 I have a retro family challenge for you this week.  It is a simple request.  Invite a guest for dinner.  Why am I writing about this in my parenting blog?  Here's why!  Inviting a guest to dinner is an excellent way to help develop your child's social and emotional learning.  Children learn a great deal about socializing when they observe their parents in social settings.  Turn your home into a social setting by inviting someone to dinner.

Having someone to dinner should be a team effort.  Your child should help you straighten up the house, and could even have a vote in what dinner should be cooked and served.  Your child could help buy the groceries and help prepare some of the meal.  This opportunity allows allows you to teach your child about manners and polite conversation.  And then he/she gets the opportunity to practice what you have taught when the guest arrives.

We recently attended a party where the hosts had their handsome and accomplished teenage son answering the door and taking everyone's coats.  It was such a treat to see him and it warmed my heart that our friends had included him in their plans (even though he might have wished to be hanging out with his friends.)  This was the type of social opportunity that too few of us embrace for our children.

Keep the dinner simple, as it is truly not what is important.  The important thing is sharing hospitality and kindness with a guest for dinner.  It is a wonderful family activity and benefits everyone involved.  So start thinking of who might enjoy an evening meal at your house, and pick up that phone!