Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Parenting discussion group

Last night I had the privilege of meeting with a group of enthusiastic parents to lead a parenting discussion. We’re meeting for seven weeks and each week discussing one of the Priceless Parenting lessons. Parents are going through the lesson prior to attending the discussion so we can jump right into questions/comments and sharing parenting stories and struggles.

I was definitely inspired by the level of positive energy generated by these parents and their commitment to being excellent parents. If you are interested in forming a Priceless Parenting discussion group in your community and would like information, please email me.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What’s better a threat or a promise?

One mom was exasperated with her preschool daughter after she pitched fit for 45 minutes upon learning that her little brother was going swimming while she was at preschool. When mom was completely fed up with the whining and crying, she threatened to let her daughter sit in her room all day missing both preschool and a dance class. Her daughter stopped crying and got ready for school.

In this case, the threat got the girl to stop her tantrum. But what if she would have continued the tantrum? Does mom really want her daughter to have the choice of skipping school? Probably not.

The problem with threats is that we often make them when we are angry and therefore threaten things that we really don’t want carry through on. Instead of using a threat, mom could have used a promise when her daughter started protesting like “I’ll be happy to take you swimming next week if I don’t use up that energy listening to you whining and crying.”

The benefits of this promise over the previous threat:

  • The daughter goes to preschool regardless of whether or not she continues to whine and cry.
  • Mom can take son swimming as originally planned.
  • If the daughter stops her whining and crying, she receives the positive benefit of going swimming at a later date.

We want our children to be able to trust that we will follow through on what we say. Therefore, we want to avoid threats made in anger since those threats tend to be extreme and not well thought out. It is far better to choose promises we’d be happy to fulfill rather than angry threats that will deteriorate our relationship with our children.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Intervening when children are hitting

Many young children will try hitting their parents. One mom wrote about how her daughter started hitting her when she was 9 months old. Mom was very surprised and responded by calmly saying “no hitting, nice” and rubbing the girl’s hand gently on her face. However, she continued hitting her mom and mom resorted to sternly grabbing her hands and saying “No hit”. This also didn’t change her behavior.

She is now 18 months old and hits, scratches and pulls hair too! She does this with mom, dad and other kids. When she hits mom now, she immediately says “nice” and rubs her hand on her mom’s face. She’s learned something but not what mom had intended!

When parents respond to misbehavior in a way that doesn’t effectively set a limit, children’s misbehavior usually not only continues but escalates in an attempt to find the limit. In this case, the consequence of hearing “no hitting” and rubbing her mom’s face did not discourage the girl from hitting. Instead, it actually encouraged her to try pushing the limits even further.

It’s important for parents to respond in a kind yet firm way to discourage hitting. Read this article on stopping toddler hitting for other ideas on how to deal with this situation.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Whiny, arrogant, rude, violent – not my child!

In their article titled "Why Our Kids Are Out of Control", Child Psychologists Jacob Azerrad and Paul Chance explain why they believe American children have become increasingly whiny, arrogant, rude and violent. They site one research study that found “On playgrounds, French youngsters were aggressive toward their playmates only 1 percent of the time; American preschoolers, by contrast, were aggressive 29 percent of the time.” They suggest that child rearing practices that encourage parents to pay special attention to children when they misbehave contribute to more misbehavior.

They point out that many popular child-rearing books “repeatedly urge parents to hold, soothe, comfort and talk to a child who bites, hits, screams, throws or breaks things, ignores or refuses parental requests or otherwise behaves in obnoxious, infantile ways. Common sense and a truckload of research argue solidly against this practice.”

Feel free to share your comments on this article. If you’re interested in learning parenting skills that will actually reduce misbehavior, take the Priceless Parenting online parenting class!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Please, please, please can I have it?

The shopping center near our house has carefully placed several large glass containers filled with a variety of colorful candy right near the doors. This display is especially good at catching the eyes of young children. It’s the perfect situation for practicing parenting skills!

Yesterday as I was walking out, I noticed a grandpa with two grandchildren, a boy about 4-years-old and a girl about 2-years-old. The boy ran up to the bright candy containers and excitedly told his grandpa “Look, look!” Grandpa replied “Oh”. The boy then pleaded “Please, please, please can I have one?” Grandpa told him “No, we have treats at home.” The little boy then angrily hit the top of one of the candy containers with his fist. Grandpa made an empathetic “Ooow” sound implying “Boy, I bet that hurt and I can see you’re really mad.” Grandpa continued walking to the door holding the girl’s hand and the boy eventually stamped along behind.

What I thought but didn’t say was “Way to go Grandpa!” Grandpa set a firm limit in a loving way. His grandson is learning that begging doesn’t work very well with grandpa.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dad of Divas reviews Priceless Parenting class

I was honored to be approached by Chris Lewis, creator of the Dad of Divas blog, to review Priceless Parenting, an online parenting class. Chris has two young daughters and works as Assistant Dean for Student Services at the University of Wisconsin – Manitowoc. He and his wife went through the lessons and tried out the new techniques.

Here are a few quotes from the review:

"The lessons are narrated by Kathy and use down to earth, real life examples which truly makes the training that much more pertinent.”

“I already find myself using the knowledge from this course with my eldest (Diva-J). One of the biggest things that I have been trying lately from the training is the idea of choices and providing choices for Diva-J to allow her the freedom to make mistakes and offer learning moments.”

"I whole-heartily encourage all of you to check out Priceless Parenting to become an even better parent!"

You can read his complete Priceless Parenting review on the Dad of Divas blog.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Missing the bus to school

There’s nothing that messes up an otherwise smooth morning like a child missing the school bus! However, it’s much less stressful if you’ve already discussed how to solve the problem with your child before it happens. The more responsibility children have in resolving the problem, the less likely the problem is to occur.

Here are some ways children could resolve the problem:
  • Walk to school. This is an ideal option if the school is close enough and the walk isn’t too dangerous.
  • Pay someone to drive to school. It’s important to establish ahead of time who may provide a ride to school and what rate will be charged.
  • Ask a parent for a ride to school and then do extra chores to reimburse the parent for the time spent driving to school and back.

Knowing how the situation will be handled reduces the stress for everyone.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Getting Dressed All by Myself, All in Due Time!

Young children take pride in doing things for themselves like getting dressed. However, sometimes their sense of urgency in completing a task doesn’t always match their parents’ sense of urgency. Parents quickly learn that encouraging their children to “hurry up” doesn’t work well.

One mom complained that she would often find her four-year-old son playing with toys or jumping on the bed instead of getting dressed in the morning. She nagged him repeatedly and sometimes even helped him get dressed just to get out the door on time. This constant battle was causing mornings to be stressful and she wanted a new approach.

In order for her son to be self-motivated to get dressed quickly in the morning, he needed to see a benefit in doing so. The benefit could be eating breakfast, being able to dress at home instead of at preschool or having time for a story. Whatever the benefit, mom should let him know ahead of time and then follow through on it.

Read the complete article for details on how mom could present each option.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Watching children shine

Last night we were at a friend’s house for dinner. I asked her 11 year old son about his favorite part of a recent trip he took with his dad to California. He told me the best part was learning to drive a boat on a small lake where they stayed. I asked him what it was like to drive a boat. He explained all the details of how to handle the boat including when to put it into neutral, forward and reverse, how close to get to rocks and how to avoid tipping the boat over!

I told him I had never driven a boat but would like to learn (true) and since I couldn’t drive a boat, I always had to ask my husband or brothers if I wanted to go out fishing (pathetic but true!). He reassured me that he thought I could learn to drive a boat and explained what I needed to do. What I really loved was how he was just shining telling me about this. He was so enthused and delighted in sharing his knowledge with me.

This week see if you can get a child to shine. Ask them about something they are interested in then listen carefully with your full attention and watch them shine!