Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Ideal Father is...

Imagine a loving father who is encouraging and supportive.  One who actively participates in his children's lives.  A father who takes the time get to know his children.  Spends time with them.  Plays with them.  Listens to them.  Counsels them.  Laughs with them.  Imagine a father who's face lights up at the sight of each of his children, equally.  

Think of a father who doesn't raise a hand to them in anger, but patiently sets limits and teaches his children self control.  Imagine a father who respects the personality, likes and quirks of each of his children.  Imagine a father who models strength and comfort and protection.  Imagine a father who loves the mother of his children and one who is proud of his children.  Imagine a father who's words   carry weight and meaning.  Who uses his words to build his children up.  Who teaches his children to trust in his matter what.  

Imagine a father who is the ideal father.  The one who instructs his children about life and love and happiness.  Imagine a father who encourages his children to dream and helps them learn to accomplish those dreams.  A father who has high expectations of his children, and helps his children learn to work hard, set goals and achieve success.  Imagine a father who lives his life in such a manner that his children want to grow up to be just like him.  Imagine a father who is a hero to his children.

Now be that father.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

5 Do's and Don'ts of Parenting

Parents are the gardeners of their children's lives.  Do you grow an over tended bonsai child?  Do you pick and prune incessantly?  Do you overwater your child?  Too much attention, too much stepping in to his/her life, too much anxiety, too much everything resulting in a child who feels weak and

Or are you a naturalist?  Do you free range your child? Let him/her go and do and drift and float where he/she  chooses.  Don't concern yourself with the media messages he/she is picking up.  Don't worry about the friends he/she hangs with.  Let him/her decide what choices work, what limits to self impose. What boundaries to keep or cross.  He/She will grow into the person that he/she is meant to become without your input.  Without your guidance.  Without your wisdom.

Neither of these methods will result in a happy, self sufficient and well adjusted child.  And isn't that what you are trying to accomplish?  So what is a parent to do?

Here are the do's and don'ts:

1.  Don't over manage your child's life--Do allow him/her to make decisions (simple ones at tender ages and larger ones at older ages) and require him/her to stick with the consequences.  But also have faith in him/her.  Hold high expectations.

2.  Don't constantly criticize your children--Do let them know that your love for them is unconditional and support them in growing into the people they were meant to be, not what you WANT them to be!

3.  Don't give them everything they ask for--Do help them appreciate things by making them work and earn privileges and material possessions.

4.  Don't allow your children to do whatever they want--Do set boundaries and have rules.  Young people raised without any boundaries or limits will continue to push the limits of behavior in an effort to find where their parent(s) will finally draw the line.  Young people interpret a lack of boundaries as a clear message that they are not cared about or loved.

5.  Don't ignore your child's friendships but don't engineer them--Do get to know their friends and help them understand what makes a true friend and a valuable friendship.  This area is a tricky one, as sometimes children need your support and guidance when it comes to friendships, but also you can become too involved and should strive for the role of coach on the sidelines not referee in the middle of the action.

Growing a child to adulthood is exhausting, exhilarating, damn hard work!  Keep in mind that an unattended garden results in weeds choking back the true beauty and essence of a flower, and an overwatered garden becomes soft and weak.  Balance is the key to both gardening and parenting!
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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Self Assess Your Parenting

The beauty of a rainbow reminds us of the power of reflection!  Take a moment to reflect on your parenting.

 Being a good parent requires some thought.  We all fall into patterns or habits that work when our children are a certain age, but good parenting requires change and adaptation.  If we stick to what worked before and never look at if it is working now, we are doing a disservice to both our children and ourselves.  Good parents evolve as your children grow and develop.

Often when I am giving my parenting workshops, I can see that as parents begin to reflect on the job they are doing, they discover some areas that need "tweaking".  They may come to realize that it is time to try a new strategy or idea in order to help their child grow.  So I have put together a simple assessment that can help you decide where your parenting might need a little attention and/or a fresh approach.

1.  What are your goals as a parent?  Do your children know these goals?

2.  Do your children know the rules in your home?  Do you have any rules?

3.  Is yelling your most frequent method to get your children to do what you want?

4.  Do your children have age appropriate chores?

5.  Do you treat your children with respect?  And do they respect you?

6.  Are you proud of your children?

7.  If you have a spouse or someone who co-parents with you, do you both have a common understanding of discipline and expectations?

8.  Do you use effective consequences when your children misbehave?

9.  Have you taught your children morals and values?

10.  Do you often feel love and affection towards your children?

By honestly answering these ten questions, you can begin to see areas that might need some attention.  If you are at a loss as to where to start, read some of my earlier posts on chores or positive discipline.  Those can be found here:

Teaching manners
5 Tips to better parenting

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

How to End Whining...Forever!

I love to study young children and I have learned a few things over many years of being a teacher and a mom.  Young children use what works for them.  If they realize that whining adds drama to their speech, and mom and dad respond more quickly to dramatic speech patterns than to normal, conversational speech tones--you can bet your next lotto ticket that they will use whining voices to get what they want more quickly.  Young children are SO MUCH SMARTER than we adults give them credit for.

Often times these behavior patterns are so established that mom and dad don't even realize that their children use whining to get what they want.  But Grandma and Grandpa do!  And preschool teachers do, too!  So what can a parent do to curb the whining?  I have a fail proof and light hearted solution. First, have a simple conversation with your child about what whining sounds like to your ears.  Pick a time when you and your child are calm and alert...not during an argument or before bedtime.  When you have the right moment, it is time for the whining discussion and role playing to happen.  Speak in a normal tone and then speak in the "Whining Voice" and let your children hear the difference.  Have them mimic both the normal voice and the "Whining Voice" back to you, so you can be sure that they understand.

Now for the lighthearted part.  Help your children give the "Whining Voice" a name.  Our family always used "Wendy and Wayne" but any name that your children want to assign to this character will work.  Then, whenever you hear your children slipping into the dreaded "Whining Voice", calmly ask them to restate their request because you cannot understand "Wendy Whiner" or whomever they have named their "Whining Voice".  If you consistently refuse to acknowledge them during their whining and playfully use comments to remind them that you cannot hear or understand them when they are whining...I promise you it will not take long for this behavior to extinguish itself.
Case closed--in a fun, simple and hugely effective manner.  Try this and let me know how it works for you!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Angry Words

I was in a parking lot today as a mom was walking out of a building with a crying preschool aged child. She didn't see me in my car but I could hear her loud and angry words as she opened the doors to her van.

"Stop your crying. You are being such a baby. Grow up for God's sake! Buckle your seat. Hurry up!!"  Clearly she was exasperated, annoyed, displeased with her little girl.  I have been there.  Every parent has been there.  

But as I heard her words, I felt the guilt and shame of ever acting like that towards my children.  And I'm guessing that if I was to play a recording of this back to this mom at a later date, she would feel the same way.

Please use this story as a reminder.  Give your children your best self.  Be the adult in any situation. Don't use sarcasm and humiliation to discipline your child.  You are better than that and your child deserves better from you.  Don't fall into a pattern of disrespecting your child and his/her feelings.  

A calm and measured response is always a better idea.  And for those times that you fall short, remember to be the adult and apologize.  Your relationship with your children will be built on the foundation of your behavior.  Make it a strong and solid one.
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