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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Liar, Liar pants on fire!

There are very few things that I have a hard time forgiving, the top two things I struggle to forgive are Stealing and Lying. The reason I have such a hard time forgiving these two things are that they both deal with trust. When you steal from me how can I trust you? When you are constantly lying to me how can I trust you? It is impossible. Trust is the core of every relationship, it is the first stage in Erikson's eight stages of man and without trust you cannot have a relationship.

With all of this being said, I do not have a hard time forgiving a child who lies or steals because every child goes through a lying/stealing phase, and the length and severity of the phase depends on us as adults! Now when an adult lies to me it is an entirely different situation because they are adults and know better!

When it comes to lying the main thing to remember is that people lie to protect themselves. They lie because they don't want to get in trouble, they don't want you to judge them, they don't want you to dislike them, etc. When it comes to kids it is important to realize that kids will lie to get out of trouble, especially when parents over discipline and punish extreme regardless of whether or not the child is honest! Take the following scenario for example:

Cassie got into mom's make-up and made a huge mess and completely ruined her lipstick, she knows she isn't supposed to get into mom's make-up without asking so she tries her best to clean it up which only makes a bigger mess so she leaves it and hopes her mom doesn't get too upset. Cassie's mom then goes into her bathroom and sees the mess that is made and becomes very angry, she yells for all of her kids to get in her bathroom and demands to know who made the mess. It is obvious that mom is extremely upset and the kids are afraid of how she is going to react so the natural reaction for them is to lie and act like they do not know who did it. Eventually after mom yells and threatens and yells some more Cassie admits to making the mess. Mom is now even more upset that Cassie didn't confess earlier (even though it is completely mom's fault for her not feeling safe enough to confess her wrongdoing) so she punishes Cassie for not only making a mess of her make-up but also for lying to her. Cassie has to clean up the mess, work to earn the money to replace mom's lipstick, write 100 times on a piece of a paper that she will not lie and spend the rest of the day in her room.

Now what are the chances that the next time Cassie's mom asks her if she did something is she going to be honest right away? She isn't because her fears were reinforced and there was no benefit for being honest. Now let's take the same situation and change mom's reaction

Cassie got into mom's make-up and made a huge mess and completely ruined her lipstick, she knows she isn't supposed to get into mom's make-up without asking so she tries her best to clean it up which only makes a bigger mess so she leaves it and hopes her mom doesn't get too upset. Cassie's mom then goes into her bathroom and sees the mess that is made and becomes upset. Mom knows it isn't going to do anyone any good for her to allow her emotions to run rampant and so before she confronts any of the kids she takes a deep breath, counts to ten, and realizes that had she been paying better attention to her kids the mess wouldn't have happened in the first place (after all it is our job as parents to keep an eye on our kids and when we aren't paying attention to them and they make a mess it is partly our fault because well kids are kids and they are going to make messes when unsupervised). She then calls her children into the bathroom and says, "Does anyone know who got into my make-up?" when no one answers mom then says, "I am not mad, I just need to know who made the mess and I promise it will be a lot better for you to be honest about it now than for you to lie to me" (In that one sentence you took care of two of the child's main fears the first being your anger and the second the reassurance that it is better to be honest.) Cassie then admits to making the mess, and mom gets down on her level, looks her in the eyes and says, "Thank you for being honest. Now you know you aren't supposed to get into my make-up without asking, and I am very disappointed that you chose not to ask me first so I need you to help me clean up this mess." Mom and Cassie then work together and clean up the mess.

Now what are the chances that Cassie is going to be honest right away the next time? 100%! Why not, she was thanked for being honest and was only given one consequence that related directly to the crime that was committed. Now for those of you who may be thinking - yeah right like that happens - to those I say, come and spend a day in my house and you will see that happen over and over again. In fact M says to me before she tells the truth, "it will be better if I am honest than if I lie right?" and the answer is always yes. The lying phase in my house lasts at most a week because I constantly reinforce to them that it will be much better for them if they are honest than if they lie.

Now what do I when they lie? I tell them that I am sorry that they chose to lie and I am disappointed in their choice, I then give them their logical consequence for whatever misbehavior there was and then I will add a little more to it that is still in conjunction with the crime because they lied. For example, in the case of the make-up I would say "you now need to clean up this mess and I was going to help you clean it, but because you chose to lie me about it you will now have to clean it up by yourself and I am going to watch you." This way it is still logical and I have stated that because they lied their consequence is worse, but not much worse. They also hear what would have happened had they chosen to be honest. Then when the cleaning gets "hard" I say, "I am so sorry it is hard to clean up, I really wish I could help you, unfortunately you chose to lie to me and so now you have to clean it up all by yourself. Maybe next time you will tell the truth right away and I will be able to help you"

This is all wonderful when you handle the lying right when it begins (which is typically between ages 4 - 6) but what about those of you who didn't know how to handle it and now your kids constantly lie? You need to realize that not only do your kids need to earn your trust BUT they need to earn your trust. You need to do the above suggestion, consistently over and over and over again until they feel safe enough to be honest. Kids lie because they are afraid of your reaction to the truth, so control your reaction and make sure you make a HUGE show of how much you appreciate their honesty every time they are honest, even if they are being honest that they poured all of their legos down the toilet!

The other thing to be aware of is your own level of honesty with them. Are you keeping your word to them? Are you always honest with them? Are you honest with others around them or do they hear you lying to your spouse/friends? Kids will do what they see you do and if they watch you lie then they are going to lie.

Speaking of adults lying - my husband likes to say random things to the kids that make them question if it is true or not, it is always off the wall unimportant stuff but it jacks my kids up and they always look to me to see if dad is telling the truth or not. One night he told the kids that the hamburger for tacos were our dogs - we killed them and used them for the meat, I have no idea why he would think that would be a funny thing to tell the kids, but he did; and of course they looked to me and I told them that daddy was being silly and that it was hamburger not the dogs. So now M tells T all the time . . . "Don't tell naughty lies dad!" He never thought of them as being lies, he thought of it more as being funny and telling stories but to the kids he is lying! Kids are very in tune and very aware of the importance of honesty and lying, especially when it is reinforced the value of being honest!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

No posts this week

Sorry for the lack of posts this week, my inlaws are coming to town tomorrow so I have been getting ready for that and I am busy trying to put myself into labor - with no such luck so far! Have a great week and enjoy your kids!

Monday, March 21, 2011

It takes two

Let me start off by saying that parenting is a lot of work and I admire all of the single parents out there who are working every day to not only put a roof over their child's head and food in their bellies, but also giving their child the time and attention they need and taking care of all of the responsibilities of a home and a family on their own, I don't know how you do it and I give you mad props for what you do!

With that being said, most kids have two parents - whether they live together or are divorced - and those two parents need to find a way to work together in raising their children. I grew up in a home where when my dad was home he was the boss and we wouldn't dare step one toe over the line or we risked getting a serious butt whipping and the minute he was gone my mom would say do whatever he isn't here to stop you just don't tell him I let you go play or do whatever. My mom was in a hard spot because she wasn't strong enough to really stand up to him and say that he was out of line because my dad was "the head of the household" and yet she saw how unjust his discipline was and wanted to make it up to us kids, and because of this parenting dynamic there were a lot of mixed feelings and messages and a lot of resentment on everyone's parts. It was really bad with my younger brother and he is paying the consequences for that now, because the message was sent to him early on that mommy would take care of everything and ignore everything your father said, because the minute he went to work she would let him cave. He is now 18 years old, is a high school drop out, no ged, no license, no job and very little understanding about how the real world works. Believe me when I say it doesn't do your kids any good to not have mom and dad on the same side working together to raise their children.

With that being said, it is often easier said than done to get parents to agree on a set way of parenting their children. As I mentioned before we all have pasts and were raised very differently and therefore we all have different ideas on what works and what doesn't work and we all have different views on what matters the most. The key to working together is to bring those ideals to the table and really discuss them with each other and come up with a plan that works. And in order for this to really work, both parents have to be open-minded to the ideas of the other parent and respectful to each other. Just because parents are divorced it doesn't mean they cannot find a way to work together in raising their children. Here are some things that I have found work best in my relationship and hopefully they will work in yours as well.

1. What is my attitude towards my spouse? This is the number one most important aspect of any successful relationship - what is our attitude towards that person and what do we expect from them? I have friends whose husbands dictate a lot of the aspects in their life - like how much tv they can watch, whether they can go out with friends or not, how much time they can spend on the computer - and the only reason it is like that is because those friends have chosen to place their spouse and father of their children in the role of master of the house and he is the head of the house and that is all there is too it. I then have friends who refuse to be under a man's heel and therefore go to the extreme of micromanaging all of the details in their home to ensure things are done their way and their husbands don't have much to worry about except for go to work come home and eat. Then you have people like me - and I will say a majority of my friends are like this - where I look at my husband as my partner in everything, he is not above me and I am not above him. He is not smarter than me and I am not smarter than him. I look at him as a teammate whose opinions and values are just as important as mine and he knows that I will support him and I know he will support me. I never ask my husband "permission" for anything. I let him know my plans for the week, he lets me know his and if there are conflicts we work together to figure out how to make it work. My husband would never dream of telling me I wasn't allowed to do something because he wouldn't want me to do the same to him. There is a quote given by an LDS prophet that our marriage is based on and I think it is the foundation to having a good working relationship as parents, the quote is,
"Women was taken out of man - not to be trampled underfoot, but out of his side to be equal to him . . . under his arm to be perfected and near his heart, . . . to be loved." President David O. McKay

I love this quote because it really shows that we as women were not sent to men to be their slaves or their mothers, but to be their partners and if we have that attitude towards them when deciding how to raise our children and they have that attitude towards us, then things are a lot easier to figure out and compromise on than if you are not equals in your relationships.

2. How I approach the issue is key! I have a lot more knowledge about the "right" way to raise a child than my husband does because of my degree and the fact that I read more parenting books and articles than he does, but I will never approach him with a concern I have in a way that reflects I know more than he does. If I have an issue or a concern that I need to address with my spouse, it is done in a way that promotes communication and open-mindedness and encourages him to share his opinions and thoughts and together we come up with a solution. Here is how a typical parenting discussion goes in our home.

Concern: T is yelling at the kids more than I feel is necessary.
Me: Hey I feel like WE have been yelling at our kids a lot lately, in fact the other day M asked me something and then immediately covered her ears because she thought I was going to yell at her, and I really don't like that, I think it is something I need to work on to be better at, how do you think you are doing with yelling?
T: I hadn't really thought about it, but now that you mention it I have been yelling a lot lately. I just get so frustrated when they don't listen or they are bothering me.
Me: I get bothered too, I just think that there has to be a better way to express OUR frustrations without resorting to yelling, what do you think WE can do instead?
T: I don't know, I guess I can just try harder to not yell.
Me: well that is great in theory, but I really think WE need to decide now what WE are going to do instead of waiting until WE are frustrated and want to yell to try to figure it out.
T: That's a good point, well I guess instead of yelling I could . . .

And the conversation follows that path until we have come up with a plan that works for both of us. This doesn't necessarily have to be something I want T to be better at, it could be a behavior issue I notice in our kids like J only wanting to watch TV and play video games, or deciding on a bed time routine that works for both of us - are we going to read one story per kid (that's 3 stories a night) or just one story, are we going to have a bath every night or every other night? Do the kids get to have sippies and snacks in their room or is that a no no?

Notice the emphasis on we and our, by using those two words it lets him know I genuinely want his opinion and input and I view it as a joint issue and not attacking him. T definitely feels like the majority of the parenting decisions falls on my shoulders because I am with the kids more than him, but he needs to be aware of my discipline plans and my routines so that when he is home our kids lives aren't disrupted and they can't play us and so I ALWAYS include him in all parenting decisions because if he isn't willing to do something it will not be as effective as both of us doing it together.

3. Compromise is essential! I know that I will not always get the final say in a discussion about raising kids because different things are important to me than to my husband. For the most part my husband and I have the same ideals and there isn't much need for compromise but every now and then we disagree and one of us has to budge. In order for us to do that in a way that doesn't leave the other person bitter we will ALWAYS ask the other person, "why is that so important to you?" This gives me so much insight into my husband and his past and the way he thinks and vice versa and that is how we will decide on who is going to compromise, if his reason is just that he doesn't want to do it and my reason is that I have read up on it and all the research shows that children who do . . . are more likely to do  . . . then I win. If it is important to him because he feels as a father it his responsibility to teach . . . then he wins. It is never that because he is the head of the house, or that I am the one with the kids all day, it is more on the importance and value to each parent.

4. Respect, respect, respect! Growing up when there was a disagreement it was UGLY, let me tell you. There were a lot of unkind things said, fists thrown, objects thrown, yelling, and just a whole lot of unhurt feelings. Then I got married and had a disagreement with my husband and I didn't know what to do! He didn't yell, he listened to my arguments, expressed his thoughts in a kind, calm voice, and we just kept talking until we came to an agreement. I was in shock and I told him I didn't know how to fight with him because he didn't fight dirty. He fought with respect and never lost his cool and I have learned to be a lot more like that. Even when I get frustrated because he isn't listening to what I am trying to say or he is misinterpreting what I am saying it is never done disrespectfully, it never turns to yelling. No matter what though I know my husband cares about my opinion and I care about his.

This post is inspired by Kristine's comment about D feeling like she bosses him and hopefully this helped. In regards to putting E to bed and you and D doing different routines maybe you could sit down with D (I know easier said than done) and approach it by saying:

K: I am really frustrated with putting E to bed because you and I are doing it differently and so she uses that against me every night. I really feel like we need to come up with a bedtime routine that we both are o.k. with, so what are things you feel like we need to every night when putting E to bed?

and then let D say what he feels is most important and why it is important to him and after he has expressed his feelings THEN acknowledge that you heard what is important before saying what you feel is important. After you and D discuss you can then sit down as a family and talk to E about what the new bedtime routine is going to be and ask her if there is anything in there that she wants to add, maybe she really does need five minutes of cuddles at the end of the day because your days are so busy. Then when it comes to bedtime and she starts fighting you can say, E remember how we all sat down and agreed that this is how we were going to get ready for bed, I remember you agreed to this and I am sorry that you are not happy about it now but this is what we as a family agreed on and that is what we are going to do.

I hope that helps and let me know how it works out!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Giveaway winners

So the winners of the giveaway are Kristine and amazon_mom! I decided that since I only had two people comment and they were both great comments that I would hook both of you moms up! So look for a package from amazon!!
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How to give logical Consequences

Ok now that you understand what a logical consequence is I am going to explain to you the best way to give a logical consequences. The first thing to remember is that you are not trying to punish your kid, but are teaching them to accept responsibility for their actions. This is key because when our goal is to punish our kids we tend to have the attitude of "I'll show them whose boss" and when we look at it as a way of teaching we are kinder, and tend to be more respectful to our kids and for me I find it easier to come up with consequences when I am using it as a teaching moment.

The next thing that is key is to be respectful, when you are yelling the consequence at your kid they are probably feeling unloved and like their opinion doesn't matter. I am far from perfect, but I try really hard to not yell at my kids - but I am the first to admit that when I am really frustrated I do yell but you will also always see me apologize to my kids for yelling at them and telling them that it is my fault I yelled not theirs.

On that note it is all about the approach and the way you phrase a logical consequence that makes all the difference. Take a look at the two different approaches to the following misbehavior.

Misbehavior: Jill leaves her toys lying all around the house and doesn't pick them up.
Approach 1: Mom says "Jill, pick up these toys right now or they are going in the garage!"
Approach 2: "Jill, you can either pick up your toys yourself or else I am going to pick them up and put them in the garage. It's up to you."

Which approach do you think is the most effective way to give a logical consequence - the second one! You always want to use either/or choices or when/then choices because it puts all of the power in the kids hands, which is where we want it to be! An example of a when/then choice would be: Johnny wants to play outside but his room is a mess so you say: "when your room is clean then you can go outside and play."

We also want to involve our kids in choosing the consequences as often as possible. My in-laws did a form of this when their kids were growing up and it made for some pretty hilarious stories. Here are a few of them that you might find amusing as well:
1. My sister in law said that if she didn't clean her room her mom could poor water on her head. Some friends of hers were going to the mall and she wanted to go, even though her room wasn't clean, and as she was walking out to the car her mom came running out with a pitcher of water and dumped it on her head in front of her friends - she then chose to clean her room.
2. My brother in law said that if he didn't clean the bathroom he would sleep in the bathtub, he didn't clean the bathroom so to the bathtub he went to sleep!

Now those aren't really what a professional would call "logical consequences" but they worked for that family, and that is what matters most. None of us have cookie cutter lives and what works for my family might not work for yours, the important thing is that you find a way that does work and teaches responsibility not punishes!

Which brings me to the next step - ONLY GIVE A CHOICE YOU CAN LIVE WITH! It doesn't do you any good to punish yourself with the consequence given to a kid. I have a friend who always threatens their kid "either do this or you don't get to go . . . " and all that does is punish both a kid and a parent because now the parent doesn't get to go either! If you can't live with a messy house don't give them the consequence to not clean up after them, if you can't handle your kids going to bed without dinner don't give them that as a consequence.

Finally make sure you always follow through because your kids are going to test you! State the consequence one time and then if they choose not to do what is expected dish out the consequence. Kids will test you to see what you are going to do all the time, they want to know how much they can get away with so if you tell them that when their room is clean they can go outside and play, but you get tired of them crying about cleaning their room so you cave and say fine go play outside - well guess what next time they are definitely not going to clean their room. Now on the other hand if you say, I know you don't want to clean and that's o.k. it just means you can't go outside then depending on how badly they want to play outside will determine how quickly their room gets cleaned. I always reinforce to them when giving their consequence that they chose it, not me and that I am not the bad guy and hopefully the next time they will make a different choice. In this way I am not the bad guy, I am just the enforcer of rules.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Being grateful

I was just checking on my kids and they are all safely tucked into their beds and sound asleep and I was just overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude that we are all safe in our homes tonight. I don't know if you have been watching the news or reading any of the news updates on what has been happening around the world, most specifically Japan, and seeing how much devastation there is now, but I have been and it just makes me so grateful for my family and my children.

There were definitely times today when I would get frustrated with my kids or just wished they would leave me alone for a few minutes, and as I am sitting here thinking about the people in Japan whose children may be dead or missing or whose children are now orphaned all I can feel is a huge amount of humility and am filled with a huge sense of gratitude that I was able to be frustrated with my kids today and that I was also able to sing silly songs for an hour with them and teach J how to spell his name and receive lots and lots of hugs from all of them throughout the day.

I encourage all of you to just take a minute and really appreciate the fact that you know where your kids are right now and that they are safe and alive.


So the other day I was thinking about a comment made on my logical consequences post about it being hard to think about a misbehavior until it is happening and I thought how true is that! It is often hard for me to sit down and think of all the ways my kids misbehaved throughout the day, often all I can think about are the funny or good things they did throughout the day. So I am going to give you and myself an assignment with a promise of great reward.

In order for this blog to be as effective as I want it to be I want to be able to use experiences of my readers and address issues that they are concerned with. So here is what I want from you: Watch your kids throughout the day and write down 3 or more things your kids did to "misbehave" or that was something you are frustrated/concerned with. Even if you already know how to handle the situation write it down, because one of my readers might be struggling with the same thing. It can be anything from your child hitting to your child refusing to read out loud. Then leave a comment listing the things your child did and for each issue you post you will be entered into a drawing for my favorite parenting book Active Parenting Now and is the book I go to the most for answers on how to help my own kids. Share this link on facebook (the little button on the bottom of this post) and leave a comment saying you shared this post and you will receive 2 extra entries (but you also have to post a concern/misbehavior).  I will announce the winner on Friday morning!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Natural and Logical Consequences

This morning when I woke up I looked at the clock and saw that it was 8:00 and I thought wow my kids must be playing so nicely since they let me sleep in so long - usually I am being woken up at 6:30 with demands of food, tv, diaper changes, cuddles, etc. So I come out of my room and the first thing you see when you turn the corner from my room is our playroom which is still spotless so I am really impressed with how well behaved my kids have been this morning, then I turned the corner again and this is what I see . . .

At this moment I just stood there and thought "Oh wow! Huh, not what I expected" What you don't know by seeing this is that there was a tie on the doors of the game cabinet to keep this mischievous 2 yr old out of the game cabinet. What I didn't know was that he could bypass that tie and still manage to get into the games and puzzles, and when I say get into I actually mean dump the games everywhere! This mess is actually a lot bigger than the picture shows because there were literally games and puzzles strewn across my entire living room.

At this point I have a couple options as a parent in regards to disciplining O for the huge mess he made. 1. I can spank and yell at him and really show him who is boss (while also teaching him that when people do things we don't like it is o.k. for us to hit and yell at them and encourage him to feel unloved) 2. I can have the attitude of saying well he is 2 and that's what 2 yr olds do so I will just send him off to play and clean it up myself (which teaches him to not take responsibilities for his actions and that he can make as big of a mess as he wants and mommy will just clean up after himself) or 3. I can come up with a consequence that fits the crime and will teach him responsibility, still feel loved and will last him a lifetime. I obviously chose option 3, which is to have O help clean up the mess he made and not be allowed to play until the entire mess is cleaned up.

If you were ever to spend a day with me at my house you would see the use of a lot of what "experts" call natural and logical consequences being used. I do not believe in time-outs as mentioned in a previous post and I do not believe in the use of physical discipline (spanking, slapping, kicking, etc. etc.) Sure those methods work to instill fear in children and teach them to obey or else . . . but why not teach them to make good choices because that is what is the right thing to do and also teach them that when they make bad choices there are consequences that make sense and that they can understand. There are a ton of great parenting books out there that explains this concept and one of them is called "Parenting with Love & Logic" by Foster Cline and Jim Fay and they have an amazing website full of helpful advice that you can check out here.

The basics of logical and natural consequences are simple to understand but not always easy to come up with. My sister in law told me once that she has a lot of friends who call themselves love and logic dropouts and I think the main reason for that is that this is a hard way to be a parent - not hard in the sense that it is impossible, but in a sense that you as a parent HAVE to THINK beyond the reach of your arm (or wooden spoon for my wooden spoon motivators out there) and be involved as a parent. How hard is it really to send a kid to time out? Not very, sure it might take up a few minutes of your time to make sure the child stays there and you have a nice little chit chat afterwards about why they are in time out and then it is done. How hard is it to spank a kid, actually really easy just reach out your arm and swat them until all of your anger is relinquished and they are properly demoralized and you can get right back to whatever it was you were doing before the child interrupted you with their misbehaviors. But coming up with consequences that fit the crime are a lot harder but also a lot more effective in teaching kids how to properly behave. So what do I mean when I say logical and natural consequences?

According to Active Parenting by Michael H. Popkin (by the way I LOVE this book) a good definition of logical consequences is: "discipline that is logically connected to a misbehavior and applied by an authority to influence a child to behave within the limits of the situation." Now you might be saying, huh? to that definition but basically when you think of logical consequences think of the Law of Moses - you stole something so they cut off your hand, you lied they cut out your tongue - only not as severe as cutting off our child's limbs!

Here are some examples of logical consequences:
Children are arguing over what to watch on tv so no one gets to watch TV
Child makes huge mess in living room, child cleans up huge mess in living room
Child refuses to clean up toys, child's toys get taken away until they can show that they can clean up their toys
Child hits brother, child has to help brother feel better
Child refuses to eat what is made for dinner, child doesn't get to eat dessert and may possibly go to bed hungry.

The main idea is to make sure it fits what they did wrong, if they aren't eating dinner what sense does it make that their punishment is to go to the room for the rest of the night? It makes more sense to say o.k. you don't get to eat anything else later. I don't believe in making a child sit at the dinner table all night either when I am done eating my dinner my kids may also get down from the table and the food gets put away and if they ask for a snack later all I have to say is "did you eat your dinner?" and if the answer is yes then they can have a snack, if the answer is no then they can't have a snack but I can reheat their dinner for them at my earliest convenience. Does this make sense to you? Do you have any questions? I know I also mentioned Natural consequences but this post is already long so I am going to save that for another post. But please leave your thoughts on logical consequences, and it would be great if you put examples of what logical consequences you use in your house if you use them!

Thursday, March 3, 2011


The other day I was catching up on my shows and I was watching an episode from Supernanny that is the inspiration for this post. On this particular episode it was a military family with four adopted children. The children all had come from other countries and had very traumatic lives before they were adopted and because of this the mom didn't want to over discipline for fear of making the children feel unloved. Her husband had been deployed to Afghanistan and so she was raising these children as a single mom.

In this episode the mom showed Jo (that's Supernanny's name in case you didn't know) that instead of putting her kids in time-out she would put their toys in what she called "toy jail." Jo was flabbergasted by this and basically made fun of the mom for putting the toy in time out and not the kid. Jo then taught the mom the Supernanny's way of time out which is putting the kid on a naughty stair for a set length time that is based on the child's age and every time the kid gets off the stair the timer starts all over and after the child has sat through the time limit quietly they then talk to their child about what they did wrong and the punishment is over.

This is not necessarily a "bad" thing except for the fact that you are really relying on a child's comprehension skills for this to be an effective way to eliminate a behavior and it can be way overused. I personally do not believe in time-outs in the traditional way that many people do and I do put toys in "time-out" if that is what you want to call it.

Parents typically begin employing the time-out form of discipline at around the age of 2 because well let's face it 2 yr olds are "terrible." They are terrible because they are finally figuring out that they can say no and they can do things for themselves and they have a very hard time understanding that even though they are becoming a big kid and are able to do a lot for themselves there are still a lot of things that they cannot do for safety reasons or because it is time to do something else. One of my biggest struggles with my 2 yr old is transitioning from one activity to the next. He gets in his mind that he wants to play cars when it is time for bed and therefore he becomes very upset and very frustrated and takes out that frustration by either screaming, hitting, throwing the cars or by completely ignoring my requests to clean up and get ready for bed. Now I could put him in time-out because he isn't listening to my words, he is hurting others or he is refusing to clean but what do you think is going through his mind while he is sitting in time-out for 2 minutes? I can't say for sure what he is thinking about because I am not in his mind, but knowing that 2 yr olds are egotistical and don't think beyond themselves and their immediate wants and needs I am going to make an educated guess and say that they are probably thinking about how crappy it is that they are in time-out and not so much about why they are there. 2 yr olds also have a very hard time thinking about the "past" or even the future and tend to think more in terms of right this minute. A 3 yr old is much more capable of processing the facts and understanding the fact that they are in time out because they made a bad choice however this is not the most effective way to discipline kids in my opinion.

I prefer to discipline my kids by the use of logical and natural consequences (this will be a post for another day) over time-outs. My kids toys get taken away when they choose to not clean them up, when they choose to play with them improperly (throwing them, using them to hit others) and also when they are fighting over a specific toy. Along with the toy being taken away is an explanation to them about why their toy was taken away. For example, M and J both want to play with a Woody doll (from Toy Story in case you were wondering) and neither one is willing to let the other one play with it first so they are fighting. I will tell them that they need to figure out who gets to play with it first or else no one will be able to play with it. They then have an opportunity to make a better choice and resolve the issue on their own by working out how they are going to share a toy. I always give them atleast 2 - 3 minutes to figure it out before I intervene, and will only intervene earlier if the fight becomes violent. If they choose to continue fighting then I will walk over and take the toy and tell them that because they chose not to agree on how to share the toy I am choosing for them and no one gets to play with it. I will then take the toy and put it where none of them can reach it. If they get upset I tell them that I gave them plenty of time to decide how to share it and they chose to fight instead and therefore no one gets it. I don't put them in time out for not sharing because I don't think it is the most effective of teaching them how to share.

The only time I will put my child in "time-out" is when they are so upset that there is no way I will be able to talk to them and they just need to cool down for a minute and then I will take them to their room and tell them that when they are calm and ready to talk to me in a polite and respectful way then they can come out. I don't set a timer, I just close the door and walk away. When they are calmed down they will come out and then I will talk to them about whatever is upsetting them and help them figure out a way to handle the situation. Sometimes they are in their room for less than 30 seconds and sometimes they are in their room for thirty minutes it just depends on them and how long they feel they need to calm down. For my 2 yr old I put him in his bed and because he doesn't understand come out when you are calm I wait for him to stop crying and then I get him out because I know he is now calmed down. I feel that everyone including adults needs time to get away from the situation and calm down before they can reasonably deal with an upsetting situation and my kids have heard me say that mom needs a time out and have watched me go into my room lock the door count to ten or a hundred and come back out a lot more levelheaded than I was before my time out. My kids also know that they can send us to our rooms when we lose our cool (this is mostly my husband for yelling when we have a rule to not yell in our house).

What are your thoughts on time-outs? Do you use them and find them effective and if you use them what is your time-out procedure?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


This past month we celebrated two birthdays, my oldest daughter turned 6 and my youngest son turned 2. Because of this I have been thinking a lot about celebrating birthdays and all of the different ways that people choose to celebrate birthdays. My husband and I both have VERY different opinions on how we should celebrate them and I must admit that my husband has made more concessions than I have in this department. A lot of our attitudes stem from our childhood and how our parents treated our birthdays.

  My husband's family is not gift oriented people at all. My mother-in-law thinks that getting flowers is a waste of money because they are just going to die and is much more appreciative of a person weeding her garden than giving her flowers. On top of them not being gift people they also didn't have a lot of money and so their birthdays consisted of cake and ice cream and a small gift. They didn't have a bunch of people over either, it was just his parents and siblings celebrating most of the time. Aunts and uncles didn't give gifts and didn't come over for the birthday celebration. The gifts also were not extravagant, one year his sister received a jar of pickles for her birthday. However, as small as the celebration was and as few as the gifts they received their mom made sure they felt special (or embarrassed?) on their birthday by singing Happy Birthday to them either on the school bus or on the baseball field.

  My family celebrated birthdays very differently. My family is a much more gift oriented family and even though we were also dirt poor my parents made sure we received a nice birthday gift for our birthday. We had friends over for small birthday parties where it was nothing extravagant, mostly us playing around the house and having cake and opening presents. My aunts and uncles and grandparents sent us cards with money for how old we were and we would occasionally get together for cousin's birthdays and have big parties. We went over to our friends houses for slumber parties and other birthday parties. My parties were never as big or as fun as my friends, and often my parents would take my birthday money for gas or groceries and so even though they tried it was more often than not that our birthdays left us feeling unimportant and unloved.

 Now take both of those pasts and you can see why it is such a struggle for my husband and I to come to an agreement on how birthdays should be celebrated. Here is how we have decided to compromise on the issue. We have a set budget for each birthday and if we want to give our kids a birthday party then the cost of the party comes out of that budget. We also do spending money every week where each week we take out a set amount of money and that is the money we use for groceries and clothes and going out to eat and whatever other miscellaneous things we want to buy, so if I have extra spending money I can use that to spend more on the birthday if I want. My husband still thinks it is unnecessary for my kids to have big birthday parties but because they are budgeted for already I get to throw them and make them as big or as small as I want. This past month we didn't have big parties for our kids because I am 8 months pregnant and my husband just had hernia surgery so for the 2 yr old it was just my husband and I and our three kids and we did things that we knew O would like, and it was really nice to have that family time - but he is also 2 and could care less about his birthday and is just ecstatic about the Toy Story book he received. My daughter is older and cares a lot more about her birthday then O does and it was harder for me to not give her party where she received a lot of presents and got to play with friends. We had a few people over for cake and ice cream and gifts and it was a whirlwind of craziness and within an hour everyone had come and gone and I felt like my daughter got screwed on feeling special for her small party. She still had fun and received nice gifts, but it wasn't like her previous birthdays.

My husband and I got into quite a heated discussion after her party about how I felt about the attitudes of the guests and the gifts that she received and it made me curious to know what other people think about their kids birthdays and how they celebrate it. So I am asking you to leave a comment and let me know how you celebrate your kids birthdays and how you handle giving gifts to other kids and other family members!