Thursday, April 28, 2011

Better than Spanking

No parent wakes up in the morning thinking "Boy, I sure hope I get to spank my kid today!"  However, many parents end up doing exactly that in response to their children's misbehavior.

When your children misbehave, it's natural to feel angry and frustrated.  Spanking is a common way to try to correct children's behavior. 

If you could respond to your children's misbehavior in a way that was more effective and powerful than spanking, would you do it?  Most parents agree they would stop spanking if they had something equally or more effective. 

April 30th is International SpankOut Day. It was started in 1998 to raise awareness of the problems with spanking children and to provide alternatives.  Today you can learn those alternatives by taking one of  Priceless Parenting's online parenting classes - Ages 5 and Under, 6 to 12 or 13 to 18.  Start today!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Developing Your Baby's Brain

What do scientists know about the best way to raise smart, happy kids?  If you want to know ... and want a fun, engaging book to learn from, then Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina is for you!

Medina discusses the key elements researchers have found for developing young children's abilities.  He weaves stories from raising his own sons along with other parents' stories to explain various research findings.  Discussing some parenting research, he writes
"They studied families who consistently produced terrific kids, then analyzed what their parents did that was so darned nourishing.  They wondered if perhaps these parents had a few things in common.  In other words: did certain parenting skills correlate so strongly with the hoped-for outcomes that they could predict how any kids turned out?

Yes, it turns out.  Though the data are associative, they are sophisticated.  Regardless of race or income, parents who end up with great kids do similar kinds of things over and over again."
If you're interested in understanding the common parenting elements involved in producing terrific kids, start by reading this book.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Children Lying

It’s a developmental milestone when a child learns to lie. Researchers have found that most children reach this milestone by age 3. Lying only makes sense once children realize that the information they have is different than the information other people have.

The early lies are usually very easy to see through. A child with chocolate on her face will claim she did not just eat a piece of candy. A child will accidentally knock over a glass of juice and then claim he didn’t spill it. In these cases, it’s better to just state the truth as you see it. For example, “I see you spilled juice. Do you know how to use a rag to clean it up or would you like help?”

As children get older, they’ll see many examples of adults lying. Instead of ignoring these lies, it can be helpful to discuss them with your children. The reasons adults lie are often the same reasons kids lie.

I just heard a radio announcer discussing the Greg Mortenson Three Cups of Tea debacle ask “How factual does the truth have to be?” He then paused, thought about what he just said and replied “It’s the truth so it should be factually accurate.”

While he made me laugh out loud, he also made me question the kind of example we are we setting for our children when “the truth” is such an elusive concept.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Magical words to avoid power struggles

When you make an unpopular decision with your children, they are likely to try to convince you to change your mind. If you respond to the content of their arguments, you have taken the bait and will be in a power struggle. Instead, try using a non-engaging response.

Here are some examples of non-engaging responses to what your child says:
  • "It’s not fair!" ~~> "Probably not."
  • "Everyone else gets to." ~~> "Probably so."
  • "You never let me do anything!" ~~> "I hear you’re disappointed and angry."
  • "Why can’t I do it?" ~~> "What was my answer?"
  • "You don’t trust me." ~~> "I can see how you might feel that way."
  • "You’re so mean!" ~~> "Hmmm …"
If you can calmly respond to your child’s protests, you will find it easier to stick with your decision and avoid arguing.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Feeling Overwhelmed and Underappreciated?

There's a parenting trap called "Doing Too Much For Your Kids". It's an easy trap to get caught in because it's created slowly and barely noticeable. In fact, you probably won't even know you've been caught in the trap until you're feeling burned out from too much work and getting too little appreciation.

Setting the Trap

When our children are babies we do everything for them. We are their personal assistants because they need our help to do everything from eating to keeping clean. Gradually they start being able to do a little more for themselves.

As toddlers and preschoolers they are often very excited to do things all by themselves. However, young children tend to be slow and make plenty of mistakes. It takes a lot of patience to help them do it rather than just do it for them. When you let your young children do things like dress themselves or get their own drink of water, you are helping them develop skills while also avoiding getting trapped doing too much.

Escaping the Trap

When you find yourself doing many things for your children that they are capable of doing for themselves, you are in the trap! These are some stories of parents who realized they were in the trap and then escaped:

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Orders are easier

One mom told me about her strong willed daughter, Emily. She had learned that if she wanted Emily’s cooperation, she should give her plenty of control through things like choices. Whenever she just ordered Emily to do something, Emily found many creative ways to refuse to follow the order.

Even though she knew this was true, it took a lot more energy for her to guide Emily rather than just direct her. Some days she just didn’t have the patience or energy to do it so instead she gave Emily commands. Rarely did Emily go along peacefully obeying these commands.

Can you relate to this mom? I sure can! Whenever I’m stressed, my natural response is to give orders. It doesn’t work well but it sure feels like I’m in control at the time! Changing our natural response takes time and patience with ourselves.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Why children love learning in Montessori schools

Do you want your kids to love learning?  Do you want them to be self-motivated and eager to take on new challenges?  If so, Montessori schools are a dream come true!

Trevor Eissler, pilot and father of three children, wanted the absolutely best education for his children.  In the process of researching possibilities, he discovered Montessori schools.  He was amazed by how the Montessori environment allows children to love learning by actively choose their own educational activities.

He's enthusiastically shared what he learned in his book Montessori Madness!  My children attended a Montessori preschool and what he describes rings true for me.  I was truly amazed at how much they learned and how much they loved going.

Eissler dissects just why Montessori schools succeed where traditional schools fail.  
"They learn to solve problems by solving them, not hiding them.  Montessori children learn discipline by practicing discipline, not by having the teacher tell them to be disciplined.  They are naturally self-motivated because they are free to choose their own lessons at the moment they are ready to learn those lessons, and to follow wherever the intellectual thread leads.  These students are not trained to wait for a teacher to motivate them before acting.  They have long attention spans because every day they practice concentrating on some type of work for extended periods of time, not just until the bell rings for the next class.   These students are decisive because they make decisions for themselves - the teacher does not decide for them.  These children learn to respect others because they in turn are respected, not dominated." 
 He creates a compelling argument that the Montessori approach is far better than the current factory model of education practiced in public schools today.  If you want to understand why Montessori schools succeed where others fail, this is your book.  

Monday, April 4, 2011

Knowing when to disobey

We want our children to obey us and generally obey other adults like teachers and babysitters. However, we also know that most crimes committed against children are done by people they know, not strangers. So it’s important for our kids to know that if they are not comfortable with a request someone has made, they have the right to say “No”.

It can help to role play some situations where your child should say “No”.  Role play situations like someone asking for help in looking for a lost puppy or someone wanting to touch them in an inappropriate way. 

It’s also helpful to decode some common phrases someone who might want to harm them could use:
  • “Don’t tell” means tell you or another trusted adult right away.
  • “This is our secret” means tell the secret to you or another trusted adult.
  • “Don’t yell” means yell!
Teach your child that if someone is trying to take them away, they should yell “This is not my father!” This will alert other adults to what is really going on.

Giving your children permission to trust their feelings and act on them is essential for helping them stay safe.