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What doing the opposite taught me…#givegrace

“Just do the opposite….right now, whatever you are thinking, just do the opposite…”

I was chatting with a friend who had stopped by to pick something up. It had only been a minute when the screaming from inside could be heard on the porch. Not the someone is hurt crying, which evokes a panic in any mother, but the screeching of two small people who just want what they want. They must think that their volume will determine the outcome.

I heard the noise and I felt the frustration building. Frustration fueled by the why in the world are they at it again?! The why do they do this over and over… The why is it when I have one minute of conversation time with another adult that they have to argue. Fueled by the why am I here, standing on my porch holding the door shut as my two daughters are screaming at each other while trying to pull the door open. All that. Building & growing.

I must have had that look. You know the one. When you can feel your heart break a little at the same time your eyes flash with the crazy frustration of parenthood.

My friend took a look at me and said, “Just do the opposite…”

I turned my head toward my friend, the snap of “what?!!” sitting on the tip of my tongue. What did she know. I was so tired. My girls were fighting for the hundredth time that day. I hadn’t had time to shower, I hadn’t had a single moment of peace. I was at the end of a very thin rope.

My friend gently touched my arm and said, “Do the opposite of what you are feeling right now…”.

I felt the tears well up. The opposite….I wasn’t sure I could.

I wanted to fling the front door open and yell. with as just as much volume as my 4 1/2 & 2 1/2 yr olds, for them to just stop yelling. I wanted to scream that screaming wasn’t necessary. I wanted to stomp and slam my way into the house with as much force as I could feel welling up inside me.

I looked at my friend.

She looked at me and said, “You can do it”.

In that moment I broke. I knew she was right.

She is also mom.

She knows.

She could feel my angst and as all moms know, she knew that any negative reaction I was thinking of could only end in hurt feelings and more heartache. Sometimes we forget in that moment.

She walked back to her car. I stood there a moment. I took a deep breath and I quietly opened the door. I knelt down and I opened my arms. Both of my girls fell into them.The screaming stopped.

As my tears fell I finally had my moment of peace.

Looking back, I see that in that moment my friend had offered me grace. She allowed me to feel all my feelings. She didn’t judge. She understood and she gave me grace.

I in turn opened the door and gave my children grace. And with that I found peace.

In a single moment I understood that when we do the opposite of what we are feeling when we are in the midst of fear, frustration or anger, we are in turn offering and receiving grace.

For this, I am forever grateful.

So parents, give yourself grace. Share grace with your children & others. Breathe & just do the opposite…..

❤ Megan

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A new look at the idea of Parenting

I am starting a new business offering parent education classes, community building activities and parent coaching. I am hoping to create the missing village feel for parents to be supported and have a safe place to share. It is taking up a lot of my time, which is why I haven’t been blogging much. I am busy building a website, working on curriculum, creating brochures and setting up class dates, times and locations. There is so much to do and my to-do list is long!

I am having fun though and feel like I’m in my element. I have a bachelor’s degree in education, taught in elementary schools for 6 years and teaching is my passion. My feeling is teaching doesn’t mean you know it all about a subject, it’s more that you have learned how to research, process and share information. I am really getting into the Breakthrough Parenting model which is what I recently received my parenting educator certification in.

One part of this model I connected with very strongly is the idea of perfectionism. Plato, the Greek Philosopher, explained that people think in the world of ideas. We have images of this ideal. It’s all related to what we personally think perfection is. It’s just how humans think. Unfortunately for us we are destined to feel let down because these ideals are in reality impossible to obtain with our children. The idea we have of who our child is going to be, what they will do, how they will act, will all be false.

Children will constantly surprise us as they show us their true selves. The truth is we do not know who these little beings are. Some people have an easier time letting go of their ideals, but others need a little help realizing that their child isn’t living up to their expectations because they can’t. It’s not to be hurtful, spiteful or with any sense of malice. It’s just impossible. Every child is their own person, they each have their own soul and have a destiny that no one can really understand or control.

Children struggle along this path and we as parent see the struggle. Sometimes we feel the struggle, we take part in it and we feel like we might be the struggle. This is where old parenting ideas get in the way. If we throw those out and view ourselves as a steward, a guide in our childs life, the struggle lessens. There are no specific expectations. We see our children in a new light. They are individuals and we are learning about them as they learn about themselves. We guide and help give information, teaching responsibility and lending support while always showing love.

Our children ultimately are the only ones who will live their lives and it will be up to them what they make of this gift. As a steward we can let go of any control we feel we need to have over our children. It will not work. Compassion, love, respect, understanding and acceptance will allow everyone to feel happy and worthy.

Ahhh….the learning continues 🙂 BusinessCardLogo

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A Manifesto: The Need For Emotional Intelligence

I know with the news of Robin Williams suicide running rampant over the internet and in the news that mental illness has taken a front seat and it’s about time. It’s unfortunate he is gone, he was a talent and a man who will be greatly missed. But his death has gotten people talking. For now anyway. My hope is that people will keep talking, long after the news has died down. People die from suicide everyday everywhere. Famous people, average people, old and young, rich and poor. Mental illness just like cancer has no specific requirements as to whose life it attacks. Just like cancer genetics can play a part. So can diet, life style and just bad luck of the draw. Mental health should start at an early age and be available and deemed as important as going for a yearly physical check-up or to the dentist every 6 months. Why is our brain, the control center of our body, put on the back burner only to be looked at when things go wildly awry?!

Feelings are real. We all have them and we need them, so why are we not supposed to show them or share them or sometimes even feel them? This weeks WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge is to create a Manifesto.

Here is my Emotional Intelligence Manifesto

1. Acknowledge that everyone has feelings and they are normal.
2. There are a wide range of emotions we feel and one is no less important than another.
3. All feelings have names. Anger, Sadness, Frustration, Jealousy, Pride, Anxiety, Fear, Happiness, Excitement, Confusion, Love, Pain, Resentment, Loneliness, Isolation, Hope, Guilt, Peace…(to name a few) Use them!
4. Use “I statements” and share your emotions. If you are angry say “I am angry because…” If you are sad say “I am sad because….” Talk about what you are feeling!
5. Feel comfortable talking about emotions.
6. Build a toolbox full of strategies to cope with the wide range of emotions you will undoubtedly feel at some point in your life.
7. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
8. Have a list of people or professionals who you can call to talk to if you need to. A good friend, family member, your doctor, counselor…
9. Seeking mental health help is normal. (See my post The Stigma of Mental Illness)
11. Children, adolescents and adults need to be taught about their emotions and learn skills to deal with those.
12. Emotions we feel should not be hidden, stuffed down, or let become something that control us.
13. No-one should tell you not to feel the way you do. Own your feelings.
14. Let people own their feelings.
15. Listen when people talk to you. Don’t try to fix their feelings. Let them feel them.

Your Emotional Intelligence is more important than your I.Q. It’s never to early to start building up your Emotional Intelligence …It’s also never too late!! Embrace and learn about feelings. With education and coping strategies in place they won’t seem as scary or powerful. whether they are yours or someone else’s.

For more on teaching children about feelings see my posts Kids and Feelings and Children and Depression

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Kids and Feelings

Kids have lots of feelings. LOTS! (well, actually just all the same ones we all have, plus a few they seem to combine together)  🙂 Their feelings come on quick and strong and wildly. I think it’s our job as parents to help foster their emotional intelligence, their understanding of their feelings and healthy ways to deal with them. I think of it as we try to help teach our children to walk, feed themselves, potty train them…We also need to teach them about all those big powerful feelings so they can get a head start on mainly talking about them and secondly having coping strategies in place to deal with them. I think it’s never to early to start (or too late!) 🙂

One way to do this is to label their feelings. Identify their feelings with them. Being Angry, frustrated, sad, jealous, anxious, afraid, excited, happy, surprised, scared, lonely, embarrassed, shy, (add any feeling here) are totally normal. Kids need to know that their feelings are ok. They shouldn’t feel shamed by having their feelings. I can’t emphasize this enough. Give those feelings names. Make them normal. We all have feelings and it should be ok! It’s how we deal with them that can be the problem, but those problems (I believe) stem from a lack of understanding or what to do with those big feelings once we are feeling them.

When your child is crying because they can’t get their building blocks to stay up verbalize their feelings to them. By telling them you see they are frustrated you are validating that it’s ok and normal. Teaching the child that being frustrated is a feeling we get when we want something to go our way and it isn’t. That to keep trying and then at some point they will succeed and feel proud. Do this for any feeling your is showing. If they are really little you can name the feeling for them. If they are able to tell you ask them how they are feelings and listen to their answers, validating those feelings.

Sharing examples of when you have felt certain feelings will help them to know they are not alone. My daughters are often surprised when I share examples of when I was little and frustrated or sad. They’ve said, “You felt like this too?”. I always say “YES!! Absolutely. And you will feel better. It’s ok, I’m here and we will work through this”. I want them to know that feelings pass and there are always solutions. I also share when I am feeling a certain way as an adult. My children have seen me cry. I don’t hide it. I explain that I feel sad and the reason (briefly, I don’t go into the specifics because I don’t want them to feel responsible for my feelings). I may say only that I’m sad because my feelings were hurt, or because I miss my grandma who passed away and something reminded me of her. I explain that sometimes we feel sad and we may cry but that can help you feel better. That by talking about it I feel better. When you do this use ‘I’ statements leaving any blame out of them.

A big one to work with kids on is their feelings of anger. This is a hard one for me. I don’t like anger. It makes me uncomfortable to feel angry and to see anger. I’m not sure why. My personality type of wanting to do things just right and avoid any confrontation probably has something to do with it. I think I tie it to someone being disappointed or having done the ‘wrong’ thing. I don’t want my kids to feel like that. Again we label our feelings of anger. I say “I see you are angry. It’s ok to be angry. What choice will you make while you feel that way?” We have talked about healthy ways to deal with anger. Taking a break by ourselves is one way. Breathing in and out deeply blowing the ‘mad’ out is another. Counting to 10 or screaming into a pillow are ways we let our anger out here at our house. There are many ways to healthily deal with anger. Then we talk. When we aren’t angry anymore. We talk about how it feels to be angry. We read our book Everyone Feels Angry, by Jane Bingham, QEB publishing 2006. These are great ones too, Bombaloo by Rachel Vail, Scholastic, 2002 and The Way I Feel by Janan Cain, Parenting Press, 2000. There are many books about feelings and they can be very helpful!

Along with labeling feelings verbally, reading about them is an excellent way to talk about them. Also having a feelings chart handy asking your child to point out how they are feeling is helpful. Or having your child draw how they are feeling. Angry scribbling looks very different from calm looping lines. You will be surprised how feelings can come to life on paper! Talking about feelings when they aren’t feeling them is great as well. Kids love to play any “let’s pretend” game about feelings. For example, ask “How would you feel if ______” questions about different scenarios. Let your child tell you and talk about why.  My daughters Art Adventure Preschool would do an opening song about feelings. It went like this, “Hello _(name)__, Hello _______, Hello ______ How are you today?” Then the kids could fill in how they are feeling with any feeling real or imagined. For example “I feel silly”. Then the teacher would say “Show me silly.” The child would then make a goofy face or silly body. It was an exercise to connect facial and body expressions to feelings. We played this at home and it was really fun and a great way to teach emotions and expressions.

By making feelings ok and normal we allow children, teens and adults the freedom to express them in a healthy non shameful way. One of the causes of depression is the internalizing of our feelings, especially feelings of shame, anger, resentment, frustration, hopelessness or not being ‘good enough’. By allowing children to express their feelings without making them feel ‘bad’ or wrong in having them they will be more likely to be able to cope and move on knowing those feelings will pass and they aren’t tied to them as a person. You are still a good person even if you feel angry or sad or frustrated or jealous (just to name a few). Everyone has all those same feelings at one time or another and kids need to know this. Their feelings may be big and loud and wild, but we can help them gain the skills to tame them and express them in a healthy way.

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Children and Depression

Everyone feels depressed at one time or another, even children, of all ages. There may be an obvious cause, the loss of a loved one or a pet, an argument with a friend, a major illness or a divorce. You may see your child (or someone elses) acting in a depressed way and it’s very likely it is a normal reaction to a hard situation.  But when the behaviors continue or don’t seem to have a reason there may be an underlying mental health issue.  It is important to get professional help for both you and your child to map out a clear plan of action.

Here are some ideas to help understand your child and their feelings. First it’s very likely that “depression” can be a mix of many feelings such as anxiety, fear, anger, helplessness and more. Be careful to not just group them all under the umbrella of ‘depression’.  Another tip is to not try to talk your child out of their feelings. Let them own those. Everyone reacts to situations differently and something may really feel like a big deal to your child (even if you may think they are over –reacting).  Keep communication open allowing your child to feel safe knowing they can tell you how they feel without any judgment on your part.

Children have a wide range of emotions and they can move through them extremely quickly seeming happy one minute and sullen the next. Children get angry, jealous, hurt, sad and have anxiety and fears just like the rest of us. Emotional education is very important. Teach your child about emotions and coping strategies and healthy outlets for their feelings.  There are many books out there for parents and children about emotions and how to handle them.  (I will be posting a series about different emotions and tips and resources to help teach them to your child this month).

Talk to your child. Sometimes all it takes is an open ended question to be the invitation to open up. If your child is younger you can ask silly questions to get them to talk about the issue, such as “Are you sad because bunny rabbit didn’t play with you today?” Or more specific questions like “Are you angry because I had a lot of work to do today and you feel left out?” But be careful to not assume (without asking) why your child seems upset. Often their reason is very different from our perceptions.

Parenting is hard work and we try our best, but there are some behaviors that can add to a child’s sense of helplessness which can lead to depression. Being over controlling, over protective or having extremely high expectations can add stress to you child which can lead to feelings of anger or resentment which may be internalized leading to depression in your child. It’s always a balancing act to motivating your child and not pushing them…all children are different and it will take trial and error. If you notice mood changes in your child then you may evaluate what you role could possibly be and make a slight adjustment. Also try not to take sides in your children’s arguments or compare children by saying anything along the lines of one should be more like the other.

Some young children will mention suicide although it is more prevalent in adolescents. If a child talks of dying or ending their own life or ‘wishing they could disappear’ it is important to take these words seriously. It is very important to get professional help right away.  Find a therapist who offers drug-free therapy. Children and adolescents need to work out their feelings not mask them. Medication may turn out to be a component in their treatment later on but they first need time to discuss and process those feelings so you and the professional can get to the core of the issue. Mood swings are very real and children need coping strategies to deal with these.

It is important to use the words suicide and death when talking to anyone who has said they wish to die (or any variation of that idea).  Don’t shy away from the realism of the situation. Ask if they have a plan or what they are thinking of doing. If there is any sort of a plan get help immediately (if you haven’t already). Ask the child what they think would change if they killed themselves. Most times what they tell you will give you an insight to their troubles.

Make sure you spend quality time with your child letting them know you are there and willing to listen no matter what. Teach your child that mistakes are just a way to learn and that no matter the mistake suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The perfectionist mentality is often a common piece in the reasons for suicide. Make sure you are open and honest with your child about any struggles you or family members have had emotionally. Most mental illnesses are genetic and there often is a family pattern. Make sure they know their feelings aren’t their fault and that there are solutions available.

Emotions are complicated. Growing up is hard and feels like a roller-coaster of ups and downs. Parents need to take the time to talk to children about feelings and have strategies available to help their children foster emotional intelligence.  The more understanding children have at a young age about their feelings the better they will get at being able to handle them as they mature.

In memory of Robin Williams and the many others who felt alone and unable to cope with how they felt. My hope is that we as parents can start a trend in not just wanting intellectually smart children but emotionally smart ones as well.

*Resources read to gather info related to this post: Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D, Positive Discipline for Preschoolers by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D,Cheryl Erwin,MA, and Roslyn Ann Duffy, Positive Discipline A-Z 1001 Solutions to Everyday Parenting Problems by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D, Lynn Lott, MA,MFT, and H. Steven Glenn

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Parenting Tip: Toy clean-up

Hmmm….toys, books, crayons, stuffed animals are everywhere…if your children are anything like mine they have an amazing ability to dump baskets of toys in the 5 minutes you leave to use the bathroom.

I know that I need to remind my children to put away what they have out before they get out new toys, because they never seem to remember for themselves… 😉

Well, I’d love to tell you that your preschooler should be able to clean up their mess all by themselves, but that’s not the case. If your child is between 2-5 years old, they actually do need your help cleaning up. But! do not clean it all up yourself, ask them what they would like to pick up and then leave that for them. Encourage them to do their part while you help with the rest.

Kids love a good clean up song and there are many to choose from. We do “Clean up, clean up everybody everywhere, clean up, clean up everybody do your share.” Timers also work well, my oldest loves to try to beat the clock. She is a very speedy picker upper when she thinks she can be the ‘winner’.

If your kids are between the age 6-12 they are able to pick up their toys themselves. You are welcome to work out a system that works for you both as to how this happens. One idea is they can pick it up or they can choose for you to do it, but…your way is what is on the floor goes into a bin and they get it back in an agreed upon amount of days.

The key is to have had a family discussion about the expectations of toy clean-up and what will happen if toys are not cleaned up. Then there are no surprises and fewer tears or power struggles.

Also take a quick look at the amount of toys available for your child to get out at one time. There might be too many available. A good idea is to keep some in a closet or shelving system and rotate them in and other toys out.

What are your best tips for getting kids to help clean up their toys?

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Parenting tip: Whining Help

Definition of whine (v)

Bing Dictionary
  1. complain peevishly: to complain in an unreasonable, repeated, or irritating way
  2. make high sorrowful sound: to cry, moan, or plead with a long, plaintive, high-pitched sound
  3. utter something in whining voice: to say something in a plaintive high-pitched voice

Whining for most parents is crazy-making! Like hands over your ears run away screaming crazy 😉 Here are some tips to help!!

First try to notice when the whining starts…is the child tired? hungry? needing attention? Once you see the reason behind the behavior the easier it is to know how to react and/or respond.

Here are some ways to respond to the unavoidable whining…

1. Know that all kids will whine at some time or another and some more than others. It just is. Once you accept that it is bound to happen it won’t at be a shock. 😉

2. The hug method. When a child whines pull them onto your lap for a big hug. Don’t mention the whining just say “I think you need a hug”. When in doubt, hug!

3. Make a joke. Be funny. Turn into the tickle monster. Anything funny and smiley to redirect them.

4. Let the child know that whining is hard for you to understand or hear and when they use their normal voice you will be able to help them. If you need to you can tell him/her that if they continue to whine you will need to go do something else (like empty the dishwasher or fold laundry or just sit on the couch with a book) and when they are ready to come get you. Sometimes it’s best to explain and then move away.

5. Try not to let it bother you. It may be a stage. It may be because they are tired, hungry, any number of reasons and it’s ok for some children to work it out on their own. Just smile.

6. Set up a goal and a reminder word/signal for when kids whine. But have this discussion when they aren’t in whining mode. Talking with our child/ren about how we will help them notice when they have slipped into the whiny tone. Maybe set a goal for no whining in a 2 week period and reward with a fun family outing to ___(park, dollar store, beach, ___) . Then the next time the whining starts, just smile and say, ‘Ooops, that was kinda whiney…’ and usually the child will smile and say, “Oh, oops…” and try again. Or maybe pull your ear as a code that you need them to re-say their request.

7. Give Encouragement. Some children whine when they are feeling discourage. They may whine “I can’t do this”, or “I never get to ____”. At these times a hug and some encouragement and self-esteem building is a good strategy. Say, “I can hear you are frustrated, I’d love to help you. Explain what you need help with…

8. Give extra attention. Sometimes kids just need more attention. It may be because they are in a new developmental stage or they are stressed for some reason, or they just feel like they need us more. This can be hard for parents when we have so many other tasks that feel like they need to be done. Don’t worry about the dishes or the laundry for a few hours. When we give our child/ren the needed undivided attention, after a while they will begin to exhibit more independence and push us away (in a sense) to have some self time. The laundry can wait 🙂

9. Say “I love you!” Sometimes just those 3 words can break the whine. It causes the child to pause and start over. Then we can say “I’m sorry, I interrupted you, “I just wanted you to know I love you, what do you need?” This should shift the tone.

10. Try any of the above different times and see what works for your child and you. Know you are not alone and that all kids will at some time whine. You may hear your self whine every so often… 😉 We’re all human, no matter our age.

Hopefully these 10 tips help keep the crazy-making at bay and we can all sit back and have some cheese with our whine. Sorry, I just couldn’t resist 😉

What helpful tips do you have to not let whining become the norm and help keep the crazy out of it for us parents??

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Parenting Tip: Children & Quarreling

When we see kittens nip, bite and roll on top of each other it’s cute and natural. We don’t worry about it often saying “oh, that’s just what kittens do”. But when it’s my kids quarreling nipping, biting and rolling on top of each other, that cute natural reaction is not what comes to mind. Ok, well my daughters don’t nip or bite, although my three-year old will make snapping motions with her mouth at her 5-year-old sister just to get a reaction, but they do roll over each other and they do bicker, scream and quarrel. It is far from cute!! But unfortunately it is just as normal 🙂

I hear the quarreling start and I want to jump in, be the referee, make it a teachable moment, but… what I need to do is see it for what it is. They are trying to establish their relationship boundaries, grow socially and quite possibly are vying for my attention. Positive Discipline for Preschoolers (by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D, Cheryl Erwin, M.A and Roslyn Ann Duffy) offers these three possible solutions for when children argue.

  1. Beat it: Leave the area. Your children may stop if they don’t have an audience or they may follow you. Go into a room such as a bathroom and lock the door. (See my post The Bathroom, My Mommy Sanctuary)
  2. Bear it: This one is hard because you stay in the same room but don’t say anything. don’t try to fix it. Don’t referee, don’t try to fix it. Let it go out on its own.
  3. End the bout or boot ’em out: If it’s too intense or you are worried someone may get hurt you can sent both children to cool off or go outside. Or they can end the bout. An option that is available at any time!

They do offer one other option: A Big hug! Yes, just go up to both arguing children wrap your arms around them and squeeze. A reward for fighting? Nope,  just they may be wanting your attention so fighting is how they seem to get it. Instead of giving them the ‘don’t argue talk’, hug them and say something to the effect of “You may both want my attention, next time use your words to me instead of hurting each other”.  Don’t be a judge or a jury worrying about who started it. Just let them know that hurting anyone is not ok.

We are also big on apologizing in a meaningful way. See A 4 Step Apology to see our favorite way to do this 🙂

Offer children a cool-off spot where they can take a break. When they are ready is the time to talk about feelings, trying to identify them, giving feelings a name (angry, frustrated, sad, jealous…etc.) and discuss positive solutions for next time. When we leap in, rescue, blame or lose our own tempers we are not helping. (But these are easy to do!! I am guilty of all at one point or another).

Our calm down space

Our calm down space

*If kids are hitting or pulling hair they should be separated  and told that it’s not okay to hurt anyone. After the cool off/calm down time then a discussion about other ways to act when they feel frustrated or angry should be initiated. *

Here are some ways for a child to work out their frustration or anger.

  • Go lay down. Breathe deep calming breaths. Count to 10.
  • Go to your room and scream into a pillow.
  • Talk it out.
  • Get creative. Draw or paint about their feelings.
  • Get active. Run around outside or do jumping jacks.
  • Do a quiet independent activity like a puzzle or reading.

Teaching our children about emotions and how to express their feelings is a huge job. It’s hard especially when their feelings seem to react with ours so often. Reading about feelings/emotions is a great way to do this. Here is a list of some we have at home:

  • Everybody Feels Sad, by Jane Bingham
  • When I Feel Angry, by Cornelia Maude Spelman
  • The Feel Good Book, by Todd Parr
  • Happy Hippo, Angry Duck a book of moods, by Sandra Boynton

 

It is hard to remember that these sweet little beings who can so quickly turn into screaming little monsters need us to teach them positive ways to deal with their feelings without rescuing them. Just like most things it takes time, repitition and diligence. A plan and  a set of skills to draw from. These are just a few that work for us.

What books and tips have you found to help ease the quarreling between children and teach emotional intelligence?

 

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Parenting Tip: Getting Kids to Listen

I’ve written about My Gift (or curse) of Gab. I like to talk. I talk a lot. When I actually listen to myself I hear how many words I use when I’m trying to get my girls to cooperate, or clean up, or get ready to head out the door. More is better right?

According to Positive Discipline A-Z (by Jane Nelsen, ED.D, Lynn Lott, M.A., and H. Steven Glenn) 75 % of parent child conflicts would end if parents used less words. Their theory, children tune out because parents talk too much.

WHAT?! But I’m so thorough describing why, how, where, and when we need to be doing what we’re doing at every given second of every single minute. I’m educating them, it can’t be me. Here’s an example “Ok, girls we need to get going. Put on your shoes, because they protect our feet, make sure you choose proper foot wear for the day, open the door and see how the weather looks today, is it raining? Sunny? What shoes do you think would be best? Should you wear your boots? Oh, get your jacket, the rain coat, no maybe just the light one, do you have your backpack, snack, oh get it off the counter…Why isn’t anyone ready to go?!!” Too much? No, really…you think so? Oh.

Ok, I see it. I would tune out too. it’s exhausting for me and them. Leaving should sound like this. “Girls we need to go. Choose shoes and jacket. Get you backpack and stand by the door.” If I am really worried about their shoe and/or coat choice I should only have what I want to be options available. I can put the Summer sandals into a closet if it’s Fall. I can set the rain boots next to the tennis shoes and only those two pairs as choices. I can hang the rain coat and a light jacket and make those are the only options. It really is easy. I have learned that with good clear instruction for children less is more.

When you ask your kids to do something, use the positive action words “Do this….” instead of saying “Don’t do….”. It’s better to give them the positive action command so they have a clear action to follow. It’s too much to explain what a child shouldn’t be doing. And sometimes it just gives them new ideas on how to be naughty 😉

Acting instead of talking is a huge help sometimes. There is nothing wrong with taking your child by the hand and leading them instead of nagging or counting to three when trying to get your child to do a task. Say for example it’s bath time. Instead of yelling, nagging or giving them the count of three to get upstairs and into the bath, just scoop them up and carry them or gently lead them up the stairs. Act instead of talk.

Also when we are talking to our kids we often think that giving choices builds their independence. The options feel like we are being respectful of their feelings. But when we use wording such as “Will, would, or could”, we are leaving the option wide open for a resounding “No!” If we need our children to do something such as put on a shoes, we need to say, “It’s time to put on your shoes”. There is no negotiation. If you really want to give options make sure the outcome is what you want regardless of the choice, “Would you like to put on you shoes by yourself or have me help you”. Both choices have the same outcome. Shoes on. If we say “Can you, or will you…put on you shoes”, it becomes a question to which the answer is usually No.

In a nutshell 5 tips to get your kids to listen to you:

1. Use less words
2. Be clear
3. Use ‘Do This’ instead of ‘Don’t Do That’
4. Act, don’t talk
5. Don’t ask

*Quick tip: make sure you can see your child’s eyes when you try to direct them or ask them something. They need that visual connection to focus 🙂

 

Hoping these tips help 🙂 They have helped me for sure!! Happy parenting!

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This mom pleads …keep me label free!!

Paint kitHere’s my thoughtsviewopinion…ok I guess rant about this ‘all or nothing’ mentality I seem to be witnessing all around me. It seems that these days you are either a ‘crafty’ mom or ‘pinteresty’  or ‘old-fashioned’ or ‘hippie’ or ‘relaxed’ or ‘strict’ or ‘simple’ or ‘helicoptery’…or…get my point.?…I’ve even been buying into it. I have heard myself saying, “Oh, I wouldn’t do that because it’s just so….” and I’m  calling B.S. What’s with the boxes and the labels?! Truth be told there is no label or box that fits me perfectly and I don’t think there needs to be.science

Free paintI am ANY of these on a given day depending on my mood, sleep, interests, requests from my kids…and more. I am ‘tired’ and ‘energized’, I am ‘lazy’ and ‘productive’, I am any variation of mood that life swings at me that day. Wait…I meant my mood swings vary with what life is handing me that day. Hmmm… still not quite right, but you get the point! There are situations that require different levels of parental attentiveness. There are days I have more to give. Days I am spent. I am NOT one type of person, or temperament, or style of  mom. tech

I have made a fruit tray look like a rainbow complete with marshmallow clouds. I have also handed my kids an unpeeled carrot straight out of the fridge, biting the end off spitting it to the dog while herding them outside in one fluid motion. I pin on pinterest and I journal in a notebook. I tweet and text and send handwritten postcards and thank you notes.

I have had my hair highlighted and toes manicured…I have also not showered for (gasp) three days. I send my kids out to use the yard as a playground complete with leaf piles and mud pies. I take them to the park to play with the rainbow-colored rainbow fruitplastic toys. We build forts in the woods, on the beach and we go to LegoLand on vacation. LegoLand

We paint rocks and canvases. We use our imaginations and pre-designed crafts from places like Kiwi crate and the craft store. My kids love to paint those plaster figurines for $1.00. I have impromptu play dates and I have sent evites for ‘special’ summer fun complete with a bouncy house. I have bought cupcakes and made gluten-free ones. I don’t discriminate. I will use all of the resources available to me and choose what feels right at that moment without ANY guilt.

poolI have been a vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, raw foodie, meat-eater and any combination of those at any given time. I do prefer organic food but I will and do eat items that are not. I’d like to grow some food for my kids to experience a garden. I also love the farmer’s market and fruit stands. We go to u-pick farms and the grocery store. I am happy that I have so many options!beach fort

I like technology, but I like turning it off too. I read my kindle and real books, oh and a good trash magazine, you know the kinds…the ones that tell lies about movie stars and spread Hollywood scandal. Yeah, those. I also like Psychology Today. I conserve energy by leaving all lights off until the last possible moment as it gets dark but love a long hot uninterrupted shower where I actually get to shave my legs. I don’t think about the environment at that moment. I use plastic bags to pick up my Saint Bernard’s poop (I mean have you seen a 146 pound dogs messes?) but I have re-usable bags for my daughters lunches. It is a cliché but in my mind it’s all good…princesses with tools

digging for wormsI will give my kids the summers I had playing in the woods and swimming in the lake, going camping and on road trips, along with the summers my husband had spending most of his in Croatia and traveling Europe, to the summers we create together finding exciting new crafts and goop recipes on Pinterest, being with our friends, running barefoot and with bejeweled fancy sandals my daughter loves. We will be free and wild and probably have manicures somewhere in there too. We will be a combo of princess and wood sprite.

parkWe will read lots of books, not because of a summer booklists but just because I love books and we always have a list since there are so many we love. We will watch T.V and movies, but there will be some days we don’t because no one remembers it’s even there to turn on. We have those days now. We will do science experiments and play math games. Not because I think we have to but because we LIKE to.

plastic tunnelWe will be busy and lazy and sleep in and get up early. We will stay up late and have a scheduled bedtime. It will depend. It always depends. My life doesn’t seem to have any ultimatums. I’m open to  and we will try many new things along the way.

My point is there doesn’t need to be one way, one box to be in. Be fluid, move around, try new things, stick with the things you love. There is no wrong way to do life. Keep making mistakes and keep learning. It just has to be your way.

You get one life. Make it the one you want! I just want mine to be meaningful ❤ smiles

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