Have a question, concern or problem regarding your child's behaviors? Send me an email and I will do a blog post about it! You will always remain anonymous! tkmiller81002@yahoo.com

Monday, January 31, 2011

No posts until next week . . .

So I thought I could be superwoman and post each day this week about kids misbehaving, but my husband is having hernia surgery Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. and I am trying to get everything done before then and therefore there is no time to post . . . For now just remember that there is no such thing as bad kids only bad behaviors :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

What is your biggest struggle?

Next week I will be doing more posts specifically regarding discipline and why children misbehave so please leave me a comment telling me your biggest behavior problem and/or discipline problem. Also please tell me the age of the child because age plays a big factor in behavior as well!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

We all bring something to the table

Have you ever been invited to a dinner party where the Host asked each of their guests to bring a part of the meal? Maybe the host is barbecuing and they are providing the meat but they have asked each of their guests to bring side dishes to go along with the meat. Of course everyone who comes to the party brings something, because it would be lame and tacky to show up empty handed. Everyone sits down to eat and even though you only brought chips there is a complete meal laid out on the table because everyone brought something to the table.

Parenting is a lot like that. You bring your own set of  "dishes" to parenting your kids, as does the other parent, grandparents, aunts and uncles, close family friends, babysitters and teachers. Your dishes include everything from your past, your childhood, your knowledge on parenting, your personality type, your schedule, your understanding about life, and your own life experiences.

I am going to tell you about myself and what I bring to the table when it comes to parenting.

I grew up in a home where my father was very authoritarian - it was his way or the highway (or make likely a swift kick in the butt with his steel toe boots on) and my mom was very permissive. My mom knew my dad was abusive, anyone who lived in my house for a week could see how abusive he was, but for her own personal reasons she chose to stay with him and allow him to abuse us kids. She was also abusive in the sense that she never demanded anything of us kids and because she allowed the abuse to happen. Because I was abused in more than just the physical sense but also in the emotional abuse, I was never good enough even though I was always on the honor roll and never did drugs or drank or slept around. I was a good kid but my father wasn't content unless he was making everyone else miserable. I did not have good relationships with any of my aunts and uncles or grandparents because my parents didn't like them - my dad hated my mom's parents and my mom hated my dad's parents. I can honestly say that I was a good kid, but I was a depressed, lonely kid who would pray nightly to die because suicide was a sin and I could not sin. If I didn't have the church I was raised in (I am LDS) I can honestly say I would have killed myself when I was 13, but because I went to church weekly and knew the teachings were true I could not do that, my only hope was for God to take my life. He of course didn't and when I was teenager I was extremely blessed to have great church leaders, friends and teachers in my life who helped me to see that I had value, that I was a daughter of God and that even though my parents were not good parents He was the perfect parent. I turned to God as a teenager and He became my father. I still did not have a very high self esteem (I acted like it, in fact I bet if you ask anyone I went to high school with if they thought I had low self esteem they would say no) but I could put on a good show - school was my sanctuary, I had six solid hours of freedom, sure I had school drama but I would have taken that over the abuse in my home any day! I thought I was valued if boys liked me and so I became a flirt and would make out with almost anyone, I became a "player" because it was easier for me to dump the guys before they had a chance to dump me.

Fortunately for me the Lord put a lot of amazing people in my life who helped show me that life could be better, I dated a return missionary for over a year who taught me that men could respect women, both physically and emotionally. Then I met my husband and between him and his family I have learned to become the person I am today. I remember the first time I had a disagreement with my husband I didn't know how to react because he wasn't yelling at me or threatening to leave me, he was calm, and listened to my points of view and expected me to listen to his as well.

My husband came from a very different family that was very loving, he never saw his parents fight, his parents tried to give logical consequences and taught more by example than by the use of fights or pretending that nothing was wrong. His family was far from perfect but he had something I never had, an absolute knowledge that he was loved by his family no matter what.

When we became married I knew what I didn't want and he knew what he did want and together we created the perfect meal for my family. I knew that my kids would not be raised by spanking, he knew that we needed to respect each other, we both agreed that the word divorce would not be used in even a joking matter because how could I know he really loved me if he was joking about leaving me? It wasn't an easy path to figure out how to become the parents and spouses we wanted from each other - but then again most amazing meals take time to prepare as well.

I would encourage you to look at what you bring to the table in terms of parenting, what was your parents parenting style? Are there things that you are overcompensating for or maybe undercompensating for? Are you more strict or more lenient because of your past? Are there things you will absolutely not tolerate or things you are more likely to not care about? What kind of relationship do you have with your spouse if you are married? Is it one similar to your parents or completely different? The last thing I want you to ask yourself is this: "Are you truly happy with the way you treat your family and the way they treat you?" If the answer is yes then great! But if the answer is no, what can you personally do to find that happiness? Remember my last post - no one can make you unhappy, you choose to be unhappy by not taking the actions to become happy.

Monday, January 24, 2011

No one can make you do anything

Do you realize how many choices you personally make in a day? Everyday we make hundreds of choices, most of them are small, like choosing what to wear today, and others might be huge like choosing what to name your child, or where to send them to school. All day long we are making subconscious and conscious choices and that is why it is essential that we give our kids opportunities to make choices and teach them that our choices have consequences.

It is also important as adults and children to realize that because everything is a choice . . . NO ONE CAN MAKE US DO ANYTHING! This was a very very hard concept for me to accept and learn - but once I finally grasped it I found a new freedom in my life. Absolutely no one can make me feel anything, do anything, or say anything everything is my choice. How often do you as a parent say, "My kids are making me so mad!" Well how do you feel knowing that you are making a false statement? Your kids are not making you mad - even if they just dumped a gallon of milk on your freshly mopped floor - they are not making you mad, you are choosing to get mad at them. How often do you hear your friends complaining about how horrible their husband is treating them? Do you ever tell them that they are choosing to let their husband treat them badly? By realizing that no one can make us do or feel anything we are literally taking our life and it's outcome into our own hands.

I did not have an easy childhood, in fact, it was pretty horrible, and one day in my junior year history class we were given an assignment to write our personal history. After my teacher read my history she looked me straight in the eye and asked me why on earth I was so happy and m answer was simple - "I choose to be happy no matter what." That is what my life is based on - I choose to be happy and I choose to be treated with respect from everyone I meet and come into contact with.

How does this apply to parenting? Every interaction we have with our children is of our own choice and we need to teach our children to accept responsibility for the choices they make. Here are some examples of how this applies to parenting:

Alex asks to play video games, his mom tells him that he can play video games as soon as he cleans up his toys. Alex then has a choice to make - he can either clean up his toys and play the video game or he can choose to not clean up the toys and not play the video game. Alex chooses to pick up his toys and when that is done his mom turns on the video game and tells Alex how much she appreciates him choosing to pick up his toys.

Alex is happily playing with the video games and Alex's little brother is playing with blocks. Their mom chooses to use this time to start folding laundry and watching her favorite show in the other room. After a few minutes of mom watching her show and folding laundry she hears screaming in the other room - Alex's little brother chose to throw a block at Alex and Alex chose to throw it back. Mom's initial reaction is frustration because her kids are interrupting what she was doing and she has a choice to make - she can choose to remain frustrated and go into an already intense situation with her two sons angry and ready to punish some kids - or she can choose to calm down and accept responsibility for leaving her two sons unsupervised and walk into the intense situation already calm and ready to calm down her two hurt children. Which one do you think will have a better outcome? When the mom chooses to calm herself down first it will always have a better outcome than when mom chooses to be angry.

When we learn to control our emotions and acknowledge that it is our choice to be frustrated, sad, hurt, angry, or understanding, calm, or happy we are better able to teach our kids those same skills. Recently my daughter hit my son and when I asked her why she CHOSE to hit him she told me that it was because he made her so mad. When I told her that he could not make her mad but rather she chose to get mad at what he was doing, she became even more upset and kept trying to convince me that he made her so mad that she had no choice but to hit him. After a very long discussion with her about how it was her choice to be upset by what he was doing - she could have chosen to ignore it, or to laugh at it - and how even if she chose to be upset by it she did not have to choose to hit him, but could have chosen to walk away or to call for help she agreed with what I was saying and the next time her brother started to "act like a brother" she didn't get upset but went with it and later came up to me with a smile on her face and said - "Mommy I didn't choose to get mad when he did . . . I chose to think it was funny and it was funny!" Now take that same kid and picture her ten yrs down the road, do you think she is going to be a victim of her circumstances or do you think she is going to be able to accept responsibility for her choices and make the most of her life? I am betting on the latter option, which is why this principle is so important for us to understand and apply into our lives and our children's lives.

I also teach my kids this principle as I am disciplining them, in fact as I was typing this my one yr old hit my four yr old in the face because he wasn't happy with how his brother was setting up Candyland. I do not tolerate hitting of any kind in our home so I immediately picked up  my 1 yr old and while walking him to the crib I repeated over and over again that hitting is not an o.k. choice and that because he hit his brother he chose to go to his crib. I placed him in his crib, left the door open, and walked away until he stopped screaming (i don't time how long the time-outs are because they are only used to help them calm down) I went back into his room and asked him if was ready to make nicer choices to which he said yes. I brought him out of his room and after he told his brother sorry he began to play again and has not hit him once since coming out of his room. As a parent use every opportunity you can to reinforce to them that they are choosing to either make a good choice (cleaning up their room, getting dressed all by themselves) or bad choices (not listening to your words, hitting) and you will see a huge difference in the attitudes your children have towards the consequences they are given and how they interact with you on a daily basis - it will take time but be consistent and you will see results.

Also stop blaming everyone else for how your life is going - it isn't your husband's fault or your parents, or your kids or your sisters fault for how your life is . . . it is YOURS accept responsibility for that and see how much better your life becomes!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

You know you are effective at giving choices when . . .

This is an actual event that took place at my house this morning. This morning my 5 yr old - M came in my room and told me she was hungry - typical morning - so I get up and as I am walking into the kitchen I start to feel nauseous so I run to the sink and throw up (I am in my 3rd trimester of pregnancy and am still throwing up). My kids ran out of the room of course because no one wants to watch someone throw up. When I got done I was still not feeling very good so I just got out a box of Trix and poured two bowls of cereal and told my kids that I was sorry I didn't ask them but that mommy didn't feel good and just wanted to lay down for a minute. M was totally fine with that, she loves Trix anyways, J (my 4 yr old) on the other hand was not so thrilled about me making his choice for him and proceeded to tell me that he didn't ask for that. I apologized to him again and told him to please just eat it while I lay down. So as I am laying down this conversation happens.

J - "I hate that cereal I want the chocolate one"
M - "J just come and eat it, it's no big deal"
J- "No, I am not eating what I didn't ask for!"
M - "You have to eat it!"
J - " No I don't, it wasn't my choice"
M - "Fine, but if you don't eat then you don't get anything until lunch time AND no computer!"
J - immediately finds me, and I have heard this entire conversation and am trying not to laugh, and says, "Mom, M says if I don't eat then I don't get to play the computer, but that doesn't make sense?!"
Me - "You are right honey it doesn't make sense, you can still play the computer but will you please just eat the cereal for mommy this one time?"
J - "o.k. mom." he then proceeded to eat every bite of his cereal.

What would you do?

I am curious to know how you would handle the following situation.

I have a 4 yr old and almost 2 yr old boy who fight non stop. It used to be that the 4 yr old would constantly hit the 2 yr old, but now it has switched and my 2 yr old is now randomly hitting my 4 yr old. So in all honestly tell me how you would handle this behavior.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.5

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How to give choices to kids

Giving choices to kids is a lot harder than it sounds. It is difficult to find a balance between giving too many choices and not giving enough, and giving kids choices that they will actually pick compared to ones that they will fight you over. However, once you understand a few concepts then giving choices to kids becomes second nature.

The first thing you need to do is figure out what you are willing to be flexible about and what you aren't. In my house a few of the things that my kids will not have a choice in are:
  • The time they go to bed, it is 8:00 p.m. every night
  • My 5 yr. old daughter does not have a choice of whether or not her hair is done 
  • Cleaning up after themselves
Now even though they do not have a choice in what time they go to bed they do have a say in the bedtime routine. They get to pick out what story I read to them, what pajamas they wear, and who says the bedtime prayer. I also do not care if they go to sleep at 8:00, they are just not allowed to get out of their bed so they can choose to look at books or play with one toy until they are ready to go to sleep. And my daughter doesn't have a choice in having her hair done, but she can choose how I do it, if she has a pony tail or leave it long. By me deciding ahead of time what I am not willing to budge on I already know what issues I am going to be firm on and what things I am going to be flexible about.

The next thing you need to do to give choices is start out small. Start out by letting your kids pick what they eat for breakfast, or how they do their hair that day, or what they would like to do with you. You don't want to overwhelm yourself or them. Once you are comfortable with giving your kids those choices then you can add other choices into your day.

Another important factor when giving kids choices is to only give them two options and make sure you are o.k. with both options and be firm with those choices. For example your kids want a snack so you say you may either have goldfish or yogurt. If they say they want cookies you say I am sorry that is not a choice right now, right now your choices are either goldfish or yogurt. Be a broken record! They are going to test you to see how many other choices you might give them - stick to the two you start with. If you bend and give your kids the cookie then they will learn that they don't have to listen to the choices they are given and if they fight the choices then eventually you will give them what you want and you are now running a permissive household. Also if my kids haven't made a choice after a few minutes then I will tell them that either they can make the choice or I will make the choice for them, you would be surprised how fast kids will make a choice when they know their chance is going to be gone. If they are fighting my choice - meaning I have to tell them I'm sorry that isn't an option, more than ten times then I will tell them, "never mind you obviously don't want a snack because you are not accepting the choices I am giving you so now you can have no snack" My kids will always say, no wait I want the goldfish! Then I say thank you for making a good choice and I will give them the snack. If they throw a fit then I tell them that they chose not to pick one of the choices they were given and so now they lost their chance, I stress to them that it was THEIR chose to not pick an available option and when they choose to get mad about the consequence of their choice then they can go to their room until they can make better choices. Once they calm down I will give them one more chance to make a choice between the goldfish and the yogurt and every time my kids will pick one of those two options. Kids need to test the boundaries and see how much they can get away with it and as a parent it is important to give kids the opportunity to choose for themselves but also know that in the end you are still the parent and not a doormat.

One reader mentioned that they have a hard time coming up with choices their kids like and that is o.k. Life is full of choices that aren't always great and I tell that to my kids when they don't like the choices I am giving them. For example, my kids have a million toys and a playroom that is full of toys and it is their responsibility to clean up their toys and they have learned that when mom says it is time to clean up then that means it is time to clean up because they have a choice and they have chosen the bad part of that choice more than once and suffered the consequences. My kids know that the choice for cleaning is always at my house you can either clean up your mess or I can and when mommy cleans up she puts ALL of the toys she picks up and puts them in the garage and you can earn them back. There have been several occasions that my kids chose not to clean up and I walked into the playroom with  a big black garbage bag and started putting toys into that, and I always reinforce that I am sorry that they chose for mommy to clean up the toys. They will always run into the room that I am cleaning and quickly clean up before I can grab their favorite toys and put them in the garage. They don't like that they have to clean up, but they really don't like losing their toys and now I just have to tell them that it is time to clean up and they will clean up.

Now with that being said there is such a thing as two inappropriate choices. I had a friend tell me once that she was tired of fighting with her kids over eating breakfast and that she was giving them choices and it just wasn't working. I asked her what the choices were that she was giving her kids and she told me that the choice was that they could either eat every bite or they could go to bed. Hmm I wonder why she was still having problems with her kids eating - the choices she was giving them were very controlling, and inappropriate. A better choice would have been you can eat now or I can put it away and you can eat it later, or my choice is always you can either eat it all and have a snack later or not eat it all and not have a snack later the choice is yours. Make your choices fit the circumstances - her issue was eating so the choices need to deal with only eating - going to bed has nothing to do with eating. Is this making sense?

One final thought for today, make sure you make a HUGE deal about the good choices your kids are making. When you give them two choices and they make a choice make a big deal about it, i.e. "what a great choice!" or, "thank you for making such a great choice." When you see your kids playing great together tell them that you really like how they are choosing to play nice together. When you make a big deal about it they want to continue making those choices!

Does this help? Leave a comment and let me know about a time when you were stumped with giving your kids a choice!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

sick mom :(

I apologize for not posting today. I am coming down with a bug and don't feel like doing much but laying in bed and watching movies with the kids. I will post tomorrow about how to make choices.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Why should I give my kids choices?

Imagine for a moment that you just woke up and are thinking about what you want to wear today, you have in your mind the perfect outfit and then your significant other walks into the room and says this is what you are wearing today. You of course are not thrilled with what they picked out because it isn't what you wanted to wear, but your significant other does not care and tells you that you will wear what they picked out or they will not allow you to come out of your room. How would you feel towards your significant other at that moment? Would you be filled with warm fuzzies and love or would you feel resentful and hurt and angry?

Now imagine that you are planning on having a blueberry muffin with apple juice for breakfast because you are slightly hungry but not starving and as you are walking into your kitchen your significant other is serving up a plate of pancakes, hash browns, bacon and eggs and says that you will eat every last bite or else you will not be allowed to get up from the table. You look at the food and all you can think is that there is no way you are hungry enough to eat that much food, but you can't just sit at the table so you are forced to eat every last bite. How would you feel?

One last example, let's say it is 7:30 p.m. and you are wide awake, you had a soda at dinner and ice cream for dessert and you are experiencing a great sugar high and your significant other tells you that it is time for you to go to sleep or else there will be serious consequences. As much as you would love to not have this fight there is absolutely no way your body is going to sleep any time soon and because you aren't sleeping your significant other just gets more and more upset with you. How do you feel towards your significant other at this point?

Now imagine that every single decision about your day and what you eat, play, clean, wear, and when you can do those things is made by someone else . . . "because they know better than you" how happy would you be? How loved would you feel if you were not able to decide how to run your life?

As an adult there is no way you would tolerate that, and if you are in a situation like that as an adult that would be considered an abusive situation and you are most likely not feeling a whole lot of love towards the person dictating your life. My spouse and I have a relationship that is based on respect and I would never dream of taking away his right to choose what he wants to do with his life. I may not love all of the choices he makes, but I respect them because I know he would do the same for me. If he tried to make every decision for me I would walk right out the front door and tell him to have a nice life, I am a grown woman and am capable of deciding for myself how I want to spend my time as are most adults.

Now you may be thinking well you just said it . . . you are a grown woman and that is why it is o.k. for you to make your own decisions, but kids are not grown adults and they need us to make those decisions for them. And you would be right . . . to a point! There are certain things that all parents must teach their kids, but you can teach your child those things through giving them choices and providing logical and natural consequences.

For example, all kids need to eat throughout the day and as a parent it is your responsibility to provide food for your children, but why not involve your children in the decision making process of what they eat every day. I am not a morning person, in fact I hate mornings, and therefore I rarely make a hot breakfast - which means most mornings my kids are eating cereal, pop-tarts or muffins. Every morning the first thing I say to my kids is good morning, I hope you slept well, what do you want for breakfast, cereal or pop-tarts? Immediately we are starting our day off with my kids having the right to make a choice. This morning my kids all said cereal - which is great because that is one of the options. I then brought them all up to the kitchen table and got out their bowls for them, they get out their own spoons, and I pull out four boxes of cereal.

This is where I struggled as a parent for a while because I grew up in a very controlling house and we were not allowed to open a box of cereal until the other one was completely gone so if one of my six siblings opened up a box of Lucky Charms we all ate Lucky Charms so when I first got married that is how I would view cereal. However, my husband's family is not that way and for the first few years of our marriage I was always shocked that they would have five half eaten boxes of cereal on the breakfast table. It was not easy for me to say o.k. I will allow more than one box of cereal to be opened at a time but after really looking at my hang up I realized that the only reason I wasn't o.k. with it was because that option was drilled out of me as a child and I did not want my children to have the same issues as me over a stupid box of cereal, when there are way more important things to be a stickler about, so I eased up and currently there are six boxes of half eaten cereal in my pantry and I really don't care.

O.k. so back to our breakfast - I pulled out four boxes of cereal and let each kid (I have 3 remember) pick out what cereal they would like to eat. And guess what every single bite of cereal that was poured into their bowls was eaten and there were no fights, there were no tears, there was just three kids eating cereal and talking about what they wanted to do after breakfast.

My daughter and youngest son are always hungry in the morning and therefore they will always eat but my middle son is not always hungry in the morning and therefore there are mornings that he doesn't eat breakfast with the other two. I will ask him what he wants for breakfast and he will tell me he isn't hungry and I will simply say "o.k. let me know when you want to eat" within an hour he will tell me he would like a bowl of cereal and then I give him breakfast. Some of you may be thinking - I am not a short order cook and I am not going to be serving meals all day and neither am I! I have busy mornings just like everyone else, I have to get three kids and myself fed and ready for the day just like other parents but I have learned that if I can avoid a fight in the morning, my morning goes a whole lot smoother than if I would force my son to sit down and eat his cereal whether he was hungry or not - all that would accomplish is hurt feelings, maybe a mess, fifteen minutes taken away from when I could be doing something else more productive and honestly how long does it take to pour a bowl of cereal? Five minutes tops if you count getting the cereal and milk out, pouring it and putting it all away. Even that doesn't take five minutes. He isn't asking for a different meal - just to eat it when he is hungry and I am o.k. with that because if I'm not hungry then I'm not going to eat either.

I also have a rule at my house and all of my kids know this rule and follow it to the letter, the rule is that if they do not eat their meal they will not have a snack, but can have their meal when they get hungry. That is applicable to all meals and because I never budge on that rule they do not even attempt to fight it. In fact there are times when my daughter will come up to me and say, "I wish I could have a snack, but because I didn't eat my lunch I know I can't" and I will tell her that she is correct and that I would be more than happy to get her lunch out for her and she can finish it if she really wants a snack. Sometimes she will ask for her lunch and sometimes she will tell me no thanks - but she takes full responsibility for why she can't have a snack because I make sure I express to all of my kids that it is up to them if they want to finish their food, but when they don't eat all of their food then they don't get snacks. I am not giving them a choice of finish your food or don't finish your food, I am just putting the responsibility completely on them to decide how badly they will want a snack later.

Now what if one of my kids said cereal and the other said pop tart? I would give one cereal and one pop tart because seriously how inconvenient would that be? Is it worth the fight? I gave them two choices and one picked one and the other picked the other and I will respect both of their wishes, because I would like to be treated with the same respect. The only time I do not allow my children to place their own orders is when I am cooking food, for example if I was feeling motivated this morning and wanted to make a hot breakfast I would have asked my kids if they wanted french toast or pancakes and if one said french toast and the other said pancakes I would tell them that I am only going to make one of them so they need to talk to each other and agree on what one they would both like to eat. The power is still in their hand and I just gave them an amazing opportunity to learn how to compromise with each other and come to a conclusion. While they are discussing I can be doing other things, like changing the baby's diaper or getting myself dressed, then when they decide I will make the one meal and they will all eat it because it is what they CHOSE!

Can you see how valuable giving kids choices can be? It literally takes away the fights and the stresses of trying to please your kids. Any questions so far? Come back tomorrow as I give more examples of using choices in your everyday life!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Contrary to popular belief . . .

I know this may come as a shock to you but kids are people too!!! They have their own personalities, likes, dislikes, motivations and turn offs, wants, needs and perspectives. They are just like us adults . . . the only difference is that they have less life experience and smaller bodies! It always amazes me when I see adults treat complete strangers nicer than they do their own kids. How does that make sense, really?

If you were in a grocery store and a complete stranger dropped an item on the ground would you smack them? Would you yell at them? Would you make a scene and insist they pick it up? Probably not because it would be embarrassing and rude, instead you would probably pick up the item think nothing of it, or you would ignore that the item was on the floor because it isn't your problem and keep on shopping. Yet how often do you see parents getting upset with their children for doing just that in the stores or at home on a daily basis?

How about if you were at work and you were working on an important project and your coworker kept interrupting you over and over again, would you yell at them? Would you threaten to lock them in their office? Would you tolerate the interruptions over and over again and put your career in jeopardy because you don't want to hurt their feelings? Or would you set aside a few minutes to answer your coworkers question or listen to their problem and then politely explain to them that while you would love to sit and chat all day you unfortunately don't have the time to do that so maybe after you finish up your project you could talk more. Yet how many times a day do you get upset and yell at your kids for interrupting your TV show, or your Facebook time, or reading a book? Things much less important than doing a major project at work and yet we are kinder to a person who may be in our life for a few years and never see them again than we are to our children who will be a part of our life for forever, how is that o.k.?

Think about how you would feel if every decision in your life was made by someone who was older than you and therefore had more authority on your physical and emotional needs and wants than you do? When you use the authoritarian parenting style that is exactly what you are doing . . . you are refusing to acknowledge that your child is capable of making their own choices and sometimes it is o.k. for your child to be their own boss - you just need to teach them how to do that by giving them opportunities and choices that are appropriate and show them the same respect we expect them to show us.

Now think about how you would feel if you really wanted your spouse/significant other to show some interest in your life and be an active participant in the conversations, frustrations, and wonders of your life. And sometimes when you didn't know what the best thing to do was they could be there to teach you and talk you through it instead of ignoring you or letting you figure it on your own? How would you feel if you asked your significant other to be your biggest cheerleader when it came to losing weight and help you stay strong and focused and the first few days they were great but eventually they got tired of your complaining about how hard it was so they stopped? How loved and appreciated would you feel? Well when you are a permissive parent that is exactly what you are doing to your children - you are letting them know that they are not worth your time, energy or dedication to teach them what they need to know in order to be successful in life. How is that o.k.?

Our children didn't ask for us to be their parents . . . BUT WE ASKED FOR THEM TO BE OUR CHILDREN! We have a responsibility to them that no one else on earth has, and that is to provide a safe, secure, and loving home where they are treated with love, kindness, and respect - even more than what we would give to a friend, a stranger, a boss, or a coworker. They are reliant on us to help them know how truly amazing they are and can be, it is our job as parents to raise our children to their highest potential and we cannot do that by giving up on our discipline plans, by using wooden spoons to motivate them, to teach them that they must be afraid of us in order for them to obey us. It is our job to teach them how to be obedient because it is the right thing to do, that it is o.k. to make mistakes, we all do, to teach them that they are part of a team and every player has a role and if one player isn't playing the team will fail.

We can only do those things if we acknowledge that our children are people just like us, but with smaller bodies and a brighter future and we respect them the same way we would respect another adult.

"Bernard Malamud once wrote, 'respect is what you have to have in order to get'" Active Parenting Now by Michael H. Popkin.

I challenge you to watch how you treat your children, people you brought into this life, compared to the adults in your life and make any adjustments that you need to make so you are treating your children better than the people who will be in our lives for a moment as opposed to a lifetime.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

11 Step Program for those thinking of having kids

My friend posted this on Facebook and I thought it was pretty appropriate for this blog, prepare to laugh like you haven't laughed in a while

by Amy Lawrence on Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at 7:24am
Lesson 1

1. Go to the grocery store.
2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
3. Go home.
4. Pick up the paper.
5. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2

Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their...
1. Methods of discipline.
2. Lack of patience.
3. Appallingly low tolerance levels.
4. Allowing their children to run wild.
5. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's breastfeeding, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior.
Enjoy it because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3

A really good way to discover how the nights might feel...
1. Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to 10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. (Eat cold food with one hand for dinner)
2. At 10PM, put the bag gently down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1AM.
4. Set the alarm for 3AM.
5. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2AM and make a drink and watch an infomercial.
6. Go to bed at 2:45AM.
7. Get up at 3AM when the alarm goes off.
8. Sing songs quietly in the dark until 4AM.
9. Get up. Make breakfast. Get ready for work and go to work (work hard and be productive)

Repeat steps 1-9 each night. Keep this up for 3-5 years. Look cheerful and together.

Lesson 4

Can you stand the mess children make? T o find out...
1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains.
2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed.
4. Then rub them on the clean walls.
5. Take your favorite book, photo album, etc. Wreck it.
6. Spill milk on your new pillows. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

Lesson 5

Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems.
1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.
2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out.

Time allowed for this - all morning.

Lesson 6

Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that.
1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment.
Leave it there.
2. Get a dime. Stick it in the CD player.
3. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Sprinkle cheerios all over the floor, then smash them with your foot.
4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

Lesson 7

Go to the local grocery store. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full-grown goat is an excellent choice). If you intend to have more than one child, then definitely take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

Lesson 8

1. Hollow out a melon.
2. Make a small hole in the side.
3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.
4. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane.
5. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone.
6. Tip half into your lap. The other half, just throw up in the air.

You are now ready to feed a nine- month-old baby.

Lesson 9

Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street , Barney, Disney, the Teletubbies, and Pokemon. Watch nothing else on TV but PBS, the Disney channel or Noggin for at least five years. (I know, you're thinking What's 'Noggin'?) Exactly the point.

Lesson 10

Make a recording of Fran Drescher saying 'mommy' repeatedly. (Important: no more than a four second delay between each 'mommy'; occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required). Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years. You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.

Lesson 11

Start talking to an adult of your choice. Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem, shirt- sleeve, or elbow while playing the 'mommy' tape made from Lesson 10 above. You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.

This is all very tongue in cheek; anyone who is parent will say 'it's all worth it!' Share it with your friends, both those who do and don't have kids. I guarantee they'll get a chuckle out of it. Remember, a sense of humor is one of the most important things you'll need when you become a parent!

Authoritative Parenting: The Assertive Parent

Have you read the other parenting styles and felt that neither of them are you? Then you may be the authoritative parent. This parent is in the middle of the doormat and the dictator. They give their kids freedoms but also limits  and the limits are explained to the children in a way that they can understand and therefore are more inclined to follow.

The authoritative parent:
  • Runs their home like a democracy
  • believe that "children are treated with dignity and respect, even when [being disciplined]"*
  • Believe that "children are entitled to respectfully express their thoughts and feelings to their parents"*
  • Negotiates and compromises with children
Some examples of an authoritative parent are:

  • Before mom makes breakfast she asks Annie what she would like for breakfast, pancakes or french toast. Annie thinks about it and tells her mom that she would like to eat french toast. Mom then makes french toast for breakfast and Annie happily eats her breakfast.
  • Annie makes a mess in the living room and doesn't want to clean up the room. Mom tells Annie that she can either clean up her toys when she is done or mom will clean them up and Annie will not be able to play with them until Annie shows her mom that she can clean up after herself, it is her choice. Annie chooses to clean up the toys because she doesn't want to earn them back, Annie's mom then tells her thank you for making a good choice and cleaning up the toys.
  • Bedtime is approaching and Annie is happily playing with her toys. Mom tells Annie that she may play for five more minutes and then it will be time to get ready for bed. Annie says "o.k. mom." Mom comes back five minutes later and tells Annie that it has been five minutes and it is time to clean up toys and get ready for bed. Mom allows Annie to decide the order of the bedtime routine -pj's on first, then brush teeth, then read a story that Annie picks out and mom approves, then prayers and tuck into bed. Because Annie was involved in the decisions that led up to bedtime she is content to lay down and go to sleep. 
Some of you may have read those examples and thought - "yeah right, no kid makes that many good choices without a fight in a day" but I can guaranteed you that if you go to a home where the parents run the home as though it was a democracy then you will find children who obey their parents not because they are afraid but because they want to, or at least understand the need to be obedient even though they might not want to at the time.

Children who have authoritative parents learn:
  • That there are real reasons for doing things and they are capable of understanding those reasons
  • Their input is valuable
  • They are capable of reasoning and being reasonable
These children:

  • Are able to think for themselves
  • Become problem solvers
  • Are very sociable and have positive social relationships
  • Know how to cooperate with others
  • Know how to lead and follow when necessary
  • Have high self esteem
  • Are highly motivated and therefore become High Achievers
  • Are positive and happy kids
  • Are curious
If you haven't guessed by now this is the "amazing" parent. They understand that children are not slaves or masters and that parents are not slaves or masters either. Their home is a home where everyone has a voice and individuality is more important than conforming. The parents recognize that their children have their own likes/dislikes and strengths and weaknesses. They also realize that they are the parent and therefore they have a responsibility to provide for the child's needs, but they provide for those needs in a way that is individual to their own family. It is a home where respect is not demanded but is given to the children and then expected to be returned. They are willing to be the "bad guy" but do it in a way that the children understand the reason behind it. You will not hear the words, "because I said so" in this home. Children are welcome to question the adult's decisions and express their feelings towards them, but they understand that they will not always have it their way.

The key to this type of parenting is that the parents are assertive and they are teaching their children to be assertive.

If you want to know if this is the type of parent you are then ask yourself if you ever:

  • "involve your children in deciding who will do which family chores
  • give her the full responsibility of her homework, monitoring her just a little
  • show an active interest in her education by discussing her subjects with her regularly and attending school functions
  • involve her in the discipline process by talking with her about your expectations and the consequences for breaking agreements
  • letting him know what you like about him and encouraging him often
  • talking with him about topics - such as drug use, sexuality, and violence - in a calm and non-judgmental manner."*
Also if you find yourself saying to your kids:

"I know you're disappointed, but you can't go. Here's why . . ."
"Sure we can talk about it. What's your idea?"
"I know you can handle it. But if you need some help, just let me know."*

Often times I have friends tell me that this is the type of parent they are, but then as I watch them with their children it becomes very clear to me that while they might have an idea of becoming this type of parent they are still very much another parenting style. In fact, the majority of parents I personally know are not this parenting style but are more like the permissive parent or authoritarian parent. Sure they give their kids choices but the choices are not choices that the child would like, or they are not involving their children in decisions that directly affect their child's life but rather are giving them routines that the parent has decided is appropriate for their child.

Now that you know all three parenting styles I am very curious to know which one you think you are and why you feel that is you. 

The assertive or authoritative parent is the type of parent ALL parenting books strive to teach parents to be because the children who are raised in this manner grow up to become amazing adults, this is the parenting style that is used in my home and hopefully through your reading of this blog you will learn to use this parenting style in not only raising your children but in your marriage and work relationships!

*Quotes taken from the book: Active Parenting Now by Michael H. Popkin Parents Guide which you can buy here

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Until you have walked in my shoes . . .

As I was thinking about this blog and my hopes for it I began thinking about the feelings of my readers. I want to strongly express to all of you the importance of not judging other parents, because that is the least helpful way for a parent to change. I am going to share with you a story about two sister in law's who both had daughters born very close to each other.

Once upon a time there were two sister in laws named Amy and Cathy who both wanted to get pregnant and both struggled with becoming pregnant. Amy had only been trying to get pregnant for a year whereas Cathy had been trying to get pregnant for several years. Amy was able to get pregnant by taking a fertility pill and Cathy had to go through the stressful and emotional process of in vitro fertilization. Both sister in laws were able to get pregnant, Amy becoming pregnant three months before Cathy. Both sister in laws were blessed to become mothers of beautiful baby girls. The two sister in laws did not live by each other, but talked often. Amy had her daughter first and her daughter was perfect in every way. She was beautiful and easy, in fact she was so easy she slept 23 of the 24 hours a day. The only fight Amy ever had to deal with her daughter was her unwillingness to eat, but other than that she was completely content. Amy thought that she was the most wonderful mother in the world because her daughter was such a great baby! 3 months after Amy had her daughter Cathy gave birth to hers. Cathy's daughter was also very beautiful, but was very stubborn and fussy. Cathy would often talk to Amy about their daughters and because Amy was such an amazing mother she would often offer unsolicited advice to Cathy, when Cathy probably just needed someone to tell her that it was o.k. and that she was an amazing mom. 10 months after Amy had her baby she became pregnant with a little boy who taught her a very valuable lesson.

Amy's 2nd pregnancy was very difficult and she was very sick. Her son was born at 36 weeks and for the first few weeks everything seemed to be fine. But once he become a month old Amy was awakened to the realization that maybe she wasn't such an amazing mom after all. Her son would scream for 6 hours every day no matter what for three months straight. Amy had several people tell her all of the things she "should" be doing for her son so he would stop crying and every time someone told her what to do she just wanted to smart off to them that she had ALREADY DONE THAT! It was during those three months of consistent crying that Amy learned to never judge another parent. Amy's daughter wasn't so easy because of Amy's amazing parenting but because her daughter had an easy going temperament. It was then that Amy called Cathy and apologized to her for all of her know it all advice. There were times when Amy wanted to throw her son across the room, she wanted to shake him to make him stop crying, she wanted to lock him in his room and have nothing to do with him. Of course she never chose to do any of those things because Amy was a good parent, but she learned that different people have different breaking points.

Amy learned that until you walked in the shoes of another parent it is not your place to judge them, but to be there for them and be whatever that parent needs right then the most.

As you read this blog I hope that you keep that in mind. I have been blessed in my life to have three healthy children who are what society would call "typical" children. But I also have five nephews who are what society would call "special." I have two nephews who have autism, 2 nephews who have FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder), and 1 nephew with speech problems. Because I have never experienced living in a home where there is a child who is "not typical" it is not my place to judge or act better than my brothers and sisters who do. I can be a listening ear, a babysitter, an aunt who loves her nephews just as much as she loves her nieces, but I cannot judge their parents for the way they choose to raise their children. Just as I do not have the right to judge you for the way you raise your children. I do not know your past, I do not know your current living situation or what fears and anxieties you as a parent have. All I can do is offer a place to educate you on a way to be the best parent you can be, and that is all that anyone else can do.

Please keep this in mind as you read other peoples comments and express your own comments. Also keep this in mind as I share the experiences of others that they are people just like you who are doing the best they can with what they know how to do. There is no such thing as a perfect parent - we all make mistakes and we are all striving to reach our full potential whatever that looks like.

Authoritarian Parents: The Dictator

Before reading this post I want you to make the same commitment as you did with the Permissive Parenting post, commit to look inside yourself to determine whether or not this is you, as you read this do not think about it being like anyone else, only yourself.

Have you ever said "I am the boss of my house" or what about "What I say goes" or "My kids will behave"? Do you find yourself constantly yelling and spanking your kids? If so you are using the authoritarian parenting style. Some examples of this parenting style are:

  • Mom makes pancakes for breakfast and Annie doesn't want to eat pancakes for breakfast.  Mom tells Annie, you will eat your pancakes and you will not leave this table until every last bite is finished even if it takes all morning.
  • Annie makes a mess in the living room and leaves it. Mom wants Annie to clean her mess and when Annie refuses mom yells, spanks, grounds, or physically makes Annie pick up her mess.
  • Annie doesn't want to go to bed and keeps coming out of her room, mom yells at Annie, Annie keeps coming out and mom spanks Annie, and tells her she will go to be right this minute.
 These parents believe that they must be in control at all times and their children will do what is expected of them. They are very involved parents because they want to ensure their children are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing at all times. They place high value on obedience and tend to have a lot of rules that are made by the adult. The rules the parents make are based on what the adult has determined as appropriate behaviors and on maintaining the adults control. Often times the parent operates in absolute terms and views the child's behavior in black and white terms and therefore do not always see the reason behind the misbehavior. The parents standard is always right and they rarely explain their reasons to their children, they are the parent and that is all the explanation that is needed. These parents tend to be more aggressive in their discipline and do not have problems with following through with their disciplines. They discipline by using physical punishment, yelling and time-outs. While these parents are great in the sense that they are willing to be consistent, involved, and diligent they are too strict and too controlling for children to really grow under their reign. These types of parents typically are more abusive than the other types of parents, whether it is through physical or emotional abuse.

These children tend to:

  • Have low self-esteem
  • Don't think for themselves - they either conform or become defiant
  • Have poor social relationships
  • Are not truly happy
  • Are not high achievers
  • Are followers
  • Become rebellious teenagers
This parenting style has been the "norm" for centuries and is therefore the most common type of parenting, and it worked very well when the world didn't focus so much on equality for all, but now that the world is no longer so unequal it works very poorly for raising children. While the parent is getting what they want - what are the children getting?

If you are unsure if this is you as a parent ask yourself if you have ever said or done the following:
"Because I'm the parent and I said so!"
"As long as you live under my house, you will obey my rules"
"When you are the parent, you can decide what to do"
Have you ever picked out your teenagers clothes?
Are you angry or yelling often at your kids?
Do you ground or punish your older (ten and above) children?

If you answered yes to a majority of the above you are an authoritarian parent. Still unsure? Ask your kids who is the boss and if they say you/ your spouse then you or your spouse is an authoritarian parent!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Permissive Parenting: The Doormat

Before you read this post I want you to commit to do the following, I want you to commit to truly look at yourself and see if this is the type of parent you are and not read this and think oh this is totally my sister/mother/friend. Too often we see the faults of others instead of truly reflecting on ourselves. You cannot become the best parent for your child if you refuse to look within yourself and see where your strengths and shortcomings come from. 

Have you ever known a family where the child got everything they wanted and there was little to no discipline? This type of parenting is visible from birth - where the baby literally takes over the parents life and what baby wants, baby gets, up to the teen years where the parents literally have absolutely no control over their teenagers life. This type of parent has literally given complete control of the household to the children in their home. Some examples of Permissive Parenting situations are as follows:

  • Mom makes pancakes for breakfast, Annie doesn't want pancakes so she cries, screams, throws the food on the floor or silently refuses to eat the pancakes. Mom then begs and pleads with Annie to please eat the pancakes, to which the child still refuses to do and so mom asks Annie what she would like to eat for breakfast, Annie says french toast and even though there is a perfectly fine breakfast of pancakes on the table mom makes french toast for Annie
  • Annie makes a huge mess in the living room, mom tells her to clean up, Annie doesn't want to so she doesn't so mom cleans the mess because it is just easier for her to clean than to fight with her daughter over the mess.
  • At bedtime Annie refuses to go to bed and it is a constant battle every night to keep Annie in her bed and go to sleep peacefully and before she can go to sleep she must have her blanket, a bedtime story, a drink of water, her special blanket, her bed made a certain way, etc etc and mom and dad accomodate all of her demands because otherwise she just won't go to sleep.
These are only a few of the examples of a permissive parent, but the principle is the same in all of them, mom and dad must make adjustments all day to keep their child happy and content and the child gets whatever they want. These parents (whether consciously or subconsciously):

  • Believe that the power that they have comes from the power that their child gives them
  • They believe that their child is capable of directing their own life
  • They use very little discipline
  • They believe that what their child wants is very reasonable
  • Avoid establishing AND maintaining control
  • They make excuses to others for why their child's behavior is acceptable
  • They are "martyrs" and often ask advice from others on how to be better with their kids - but don't follow through on the advice and eventually their friends and family members no longer want to be around them.
Children of these parents are "brats" for lack of a better word because they have been raised to be "brats." They act on their impulses and desires and have absolutely no self control. These children do what they want, when they want and if they can't then everyone better watch out because a massive tantrum will ensue, by the way teenagers are just as capable of throwing tantrums as toddlers they just look different. These children tend to be low achievers unless it is something they want to do. They do not want to take care of themselves (refuse to tie their own shoes or get a job) because they know mommy and daddy will do it for them. These children have a hard time with rules because they have been taught that they can be challenged and if they throw a big enough fit they can get the rules to change. These children tend to be more aggressive because it pays off with their parents . . . if they don't get their way they act out until they do.

Permissive parents eventually blow up at their kids because they can't handle all of the demands the child is putting on the parents and therefore they become more controlling, but because it is too hard to maintain that control and therefore they go right back to giving in to their child's demands.

Permissive parenting is in my opinion the lazy way to parent. These parents don't want to take the time or the energy to discipline their kids because it is inconvenient for them, or they are too busy trying to be their kids best friend, or they are too involved in their own life and wants to put their kids needs above their own. Often times these parents just don't want to be the bad guy, but because they are not teaching their kids that life is full of disappointments and it isn't always fun and games they are actually becoming the bad guy.

We all know someone who is a permissive parent, I personally know several of them, the question is are you a permissive parent? If you are still unsure if this is you test yourself: do not do anything different with your kids than you normally do throughout the day and as you interact with your child watch how you react to their demands and watch how they react to your demands - do you find yourself giving in to their demands more than they are giving in to yours. Still unsure? Ask someone close to you who you can trust to be honest with you and ask their opinion or leave a comment and tell me about your day to day life with your kids and I will help you.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What kind of parent are you?

First I want to start off by saying that there is no such thing as a perfect parent! All parents make mistakes because it is a day to day learning process. However, with that being said there is such a thing as a Bad parent and an Amazing parent.

At some point in a parent's life they chose to bring a child into their life, whether it is was from making a baby or from adopting a baby, a choice was made to give a child a life. Depending on the circumstances of how that decision was made, the parent's attitudes are going to be very different. For example, if a couple wants to have children but after going through months to years of tests to try to create their own child and are only met with failures so they choose to adopt a child, those parents are going to have their own set of emotions and attitudes towards that child as opposed to a couple who decides to try to make a baby and the next month the woman is pregnant and nine beautiful months later their child is laid in the mother's arms. And then you have the parents who spend a night of lovemaking and four weeks later find out that, oops they are having a baby and now what!!! No matter how the child comes into a parent's life there was at some point a choice made to raise that child.

Not everyone who makes a baby is a parent, some of them choose to abort the baby, some of them choose to give the baby up for adoption, some of them choose to raise the child on their own and the other person becomes only the egg/sperm donor for that child. A parent is a person who chooses to keep (or adopt) their child, to take care of all of that child's emotional, physical, and spiritual needs and chooses to devote their life to that individual child. It is how well a parent takes care of their child's needs and wants and their attitude towards their child that determines whether or not they are a good or bad parent.

Ultimately there are three types of parents: Permissive, Authoritative and Authoritarian. Only one of these parenting types is a "good parent" while the other two create more problems in a child's life than they do anything else. I will explore each of these parenting styles with you throughout the week and at the end of the week it is my hope that you will know what type is the "good parent" and what types are the "bad parents."