Thursday, March 31, 2011

Paddling in School is Not OK

I recently learned that there are still 20 states that allow corporal punishment in schools. According to a New York Times article, when Tyler Anastopoulos skipped detention he was spanked by the assistant principal.
Tyler, an 11th grader from Wichita Falls, was sent to the assistant principal and given three swift swats to the backside with a paddle, recalled Angie Herring, his mother. The blows were so severe that they caused deep bruises, and Tyler wound up in the hospital, Ms. Herring said.

I would be irate if my children were hit by school personnel! There are so many better ways to deal with student’s behavior. School leaders have an obligation to learn these more effective approaches.

One effective approach is Dr. Ross Greene’s Collaborative Problem Solving. According to their website "Lives in the Balance has a dual mission: to advocate on behalf of behaviorally challenging kids and their parents, teachers, and other caregivers... and to provide free, web-based resources to help people understand and help these kids in ways that are more compassionate, accurate, and productive."

There are better ways to deal with children's challenging behavior. The information is freely available. It's time for all school personnel to learn approaches that are both respectful and effective!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Growing Your Child’s Mind

What life skills do all children need to succeed in life? Ellen Galinksy has spent her life researching and understanding child development. Her latest book, Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs pulls together this research showing why these skills are important and how you can help your children develop these abilities.

The first essential skill discussed is focus and self-control. She explains, “Take the words often used to describe the world: complicated, distracting. Or the words about time: 24x7, rushed, time starved, too much to do and not enough time to do it. To navigate this world, children need to focus, to determine what is important and to pay attention to this, amid many distractions. Focus is one of the essential skills we need to promote in our children.”

The other essential skills are
  • Perspective taking
  • Communication
  • Making connections
  • Critical thinking
  • Taking on challenges
  • Self-directed, engaged learning
She provides plenty of research and ideas for building these skills in children. Her suggestions allow you to have fun with your kids while growing their minds!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Skills Needed for Kindergarten

What skills does my child need before entering kindergarten?  Plenty!  Luckily for parents the Foundation for Early Learning has put together a 20 page, free "Getting School Ready" guide covering the skills needed for success in kindergarten.

The skills are group into these categories and include ideas for helping your child in each area:
  • Social and Emotional Skills
  • Being Ready for Learning
  • Using Words and Numbers
  • Support for Family, Culture and Language
  • Safety and Health
  • Healthy Bodies
This booklet can be viewed online in nine different languages or paper copies can be ordered.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Delaying tactics when it’s time to leave

When you drop your child off, she cries and begs you not to leave. However, when you come to pick her up, she dawdles and doesn’t want to go. Does this sound familiar?

Or perhaps your child is older and enjoys going to over to friends’ houses to play. When you come to pick him up, he finds many creative ways to delay leaving. You find yourself feeling frustrated and embarrassed as he refuses to even come when you call him.

One way you can help solve this problem is by explaining to your child ahead of time your expectations. You can tell your child it needs to take no longer than 5 minutes to do these things:
  • Help clean up.
  • Say “thank you”.
  • Put on shoes and jacket then leave. 
You can then ask your child to repeat back to you these expectations in his own words. If he’s missing some of the key concepts, discuss it further until you have a mutual understanding.

Once you agree on the pick up process, if he still dawdles you can remind him of your agreement. You may also need to go take him by the hand and lead him out. If you end up feeling hassled by his behavior, you can let him know about your disappointment as you drive home. You can also add a related consequence like that you probably won’t be taking him to a friend’s house in the near future because leaving was so difficult.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Figuring Out How to Fit In

We all have a deep need for connection with other people. Psychologist Alfred Adler declared that belonging, feeling a sense of connection, is one of the primary motivators of behavior. Your children are no exception; they too need to feel a sense of belonging.

Threatening to Remove Connection

When children want to hurt others, one of the primary ways they do it is by threatening to remove connection. Even young children know the power of saying things like:

  • "I'm not your friend anymore"
  • "I don't want to play with you."
  • "You're not invited to my birthday party!"
  • "I hate you!"

Words can really hurt. Children need help learning to express anger or frustration in healthier ways rather than threatening to no longer be friends. group of children

Learning to Fit Into Peer Groups

One of the most complex tasks of growing up is figuring out how to fit into the peer group. If your child struggles to fit in, it can be agonizing for both you and your child. You would like to protect your child and yet you really have limited abilities within your child's peer group. One mom told of the terrible experience her middle school daughter, Samantha, had when planning her birthday party.

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)


Monday, March 14, 2011

Grieving After a Tsunami

The recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan have left all of us deeply shaken. As we struggle to find ways to help, we realize just how fragile life is and how quickly all that we have built can be destroyed. Whole villages have disappeared along with thousands of lives. The grief of this tragedy has quickly spread across the world.

How can we help our children process the feelings and effects of a major disaster like this? One excellent resource is The Big Wave by Pearl S Buck. This award winning children’s story is described on Amazon.com. “Kino lives on a farm on the side of a mountain in Japan. His friend, Jiya, lives in a fishing village below. Everyone, including Kino and Jiya, has heard of the big wave. No one suspects it will wipe out the whole village and Jiya's family, too. As Jiya struggles to overcome his sorrow, he understands it is in the presence of danger that one learns to be brave, and to appreciate how wonderful life can be.”

This was one of the books I read as a child that deeply touched me and that I’ve read to my own children. Sally Mandy commented that this story became her 6-year-old daughter’s favorite bedtime book adding “Pearl Buck presents a deep reverence for life, death, and living with danger and uncertainty that permeate the story in an accessible and real way. The end message is hopeful and joyous.

Although The Big Wave was published in 1947, it is a real gift to us today.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Stop fighting over that!

Two preschool girls were writing on a chalkboard. Both decided it was time to use the eraser. They each picked up an end of the same eraser, started pulling and demanding that the other one let go. One of the parents closest to the girls told them “You can’t fight over this!”

However, the girls were already fighting and telling them they couldn’t fight didn’t change their behavior. While it’s tempting to simply lay down the law and order kids not to fight, it rarely works. A better approach is to help the girls learn from the situation by saying something like “I see that you both want to use the eraser but there is only one eraser. What can you do to solve this problem?”

A question like this puts solving the problem into the girls’ hands. They may need additional guidance to come up with a solution; however, it’s amazing how often children figure out how to solve the problem without additional help. This is a skill worth developing!


Monday, March 7, 2011

What’s worth shouting about?

When are you the most animated and emotional with your kids? Is it when they are misbehaving and doing something they know they shouldn’t be doing? Or is it when they are doing something right?

Most parents show their dynamic, expressive side when they are responding to misbehavior. For kids it’s like watching fireworks going off! How exciting!

One dad told me how he turned his relationship with his son around by changing when he emotionally reacted. He realized he expressed the most emotion when his son was misbehaving. He decided to get excited, including jumping up and down, when his son did the right things – getting dressed in the morning, putting his dishes into the dishwasher, cleaning up toys or sitting down to do homework.

At first his son thought it was a bit of an odd reaction. However he was delighted with the positive attention and his behavior improved!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Non-abusive discipline

When I was a teenager I took care of children whose parents were attending Parent Anonymous meetings. These parents had abused their children and were now learning effective, non-physical techniques for dealing with their children’s misbehavior. The children I watched had a lot of behavioral issues due to the fact they had been abused by their parents.

One little boy, Joel, especially etched his name on my heart. One day when I wasn’t watching, he painted all over a mirror. I was definitely angry when I saw the mess. Later he wrote on the chalk board, “Kathy, do you still love me?” I reassured him that of course I still loved him; my love for him would always be there even if he misbehaved.

I've never forgotten him and he's part of the reason I created online parenting classes. I wanted to help parents so that children everywhere could experience unconditional love in a home that was safe and welcoming. By now Joel is probably a parent and I hope he is enjoying many wonderful times with his own children!