Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Lessons learned from my young students...

My preschool class has welcomed four new students in the past few weeks.  My heart always goes out to these little ones entering a new environment for the first time that is abuzz of activity.  But the reactions of my long time students to the new classmates is often times what leaves me humbled and speechless.

These little three and four year olds are capable of demonstrating such empathy and compassion.  I see them ushering our new friends to circle time, making room for them on our carpet, helpfully showing them where to hang their school bag or how to find their mailbox.  I see them eagerly taking these new students "under their wing" to help them understand what is going on in the classroom and eagerly approaching them at play time.

Our world is so full of negativity.  We have gotten so complacent about mean spirited behavior.  We accept it from our politicians.  We are entertained by it on social media, movies and television.  We practice it in our daily lives by passing judgement on others, and filling our days with gossip and snarky backstabbing behaviors.

Our world would be a better place if we reconnected with openness, kindness and empathy that our little ones possess.  They give me hope for the future, and we all should take a page from their playbook and adopt it into our daily lives.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

#RewritingTheCode for International Women's Day!

In honor of International Women's Day
Good Parents focus on education...Lucky Parents have it available to All of their children!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Effective parenting requires a balance of these two elements...

There is wisdom in balance.  Keeping the elements of life in balance leads to a calm and peaceful existence.  Life with children is rarely characterized as calm and peaceful and with each additional child the chaos can multiply.  But balance is an extremely important element of good parenting.

Research has shown that the most effective parents over time are those who combine nurturing with authority.  In other words, parents who are responsive and emotionally connected with their children, but who also play the important role of authority figure in their children's lives have been shown over time to raise the most emotionally balanced and less destructive children.  For further reading on this research see below*

Many parents struggle with the authority figure role.  Does your child listen to you?  Do they follow your rules?  Do they respect your words?  Do they know that ultimately you are the boss of them until they grow up and leave your house?  If not, you have some work to do.

Children are master manipulators.  They know how to push our buttons for sport.  They are not as emotionally engaged when we are really angry.  And they have an easy time tuning us out if they have learned that we really don't mean what we say.  So how can this dynamic be changed?  Here are some tips that my husband and I found worked after years of practice.

1.  Have high standards for behavior and communicate those expectations to your child.  This means teaching manners and polite social behavior, expecting your child to respect you and his/her teachers and coaches, and in general behaving in a manner that brings happiness and joy to others.

2.  Only say what you mean.  Children quickly learn that idle threats mean nothing.  If you consistently say that you will do something and then don't do it, you are actively teaching your child to tune you out and worse, not trust your words.  Words are so important...spend them wisely.

3.  Don't allow bad behavior to spiral.  Nip it in the bud.  If your child has begun to back talk or be sassy, you may find it cute or not a big deal at first, but then you get used to it and somewhere along the way you stop noticing it.  And then it becomes a problem.  We found that it is much better to be proactive about little behavior slips than reactive when behavior has gotten out of control.  Make sure that your child knows what it is you expect and then do not tolerate anything less.  (for more ideas on positive discipline read this:  splashparenting.com/2013/03/six-steps-toward-positive-discipline

4.  Authority Figures Don't Negotiate!  My husband taught me to not accept arguing and whining when we were giving one of our children a consequence for bad behavior.  He would calmly remind our child that if he/she argued about the consequence, the consequence would be doubled.  This tip worked like magic.  If your child knows that a punishment could be doubled, he/she usually reflects on whether the whining and arguing are worth the risk, and the answer is always no!

Children want and need you to be the parent and for them to be the child.  They need their parents to be loving and kind and yet strong enough to earn their respect and teach them self control.  It is counter intuitive--we want to give in to our children and let them do, be, and have anything that makes them happy...but by always giving in to their desires we are not teaching them the important skills of self control and showing them that we care enough to set limits--it is a fatal swap--peace in the present for contentment in the future.  Giving in to your child's tantrum is teaching your child that tantrums work, and always giving your child everything they want will set them up for a future of discontent.  Good parenting requires the healthy balance of loving our children enough to act as the authority in their lives.  This means being strong enough to set limits on our children's behavior. Through limits, our children learn self control, and respect for us.  Without limits, children continue to push the boundaries looking for where we will finally set the limits.  And if we never set limits at all, our children believe that we don't care enough to set them.  So practice that balance for healthy and effective parenting.  Be the loving, authority in your child's life.
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