Thursday, March 29, 2012

You Are Not Responsible for Your Children's Behavior

It’s easy to feel bad about yourself as a parent when your children misbehave – especially if it takes place in public. If your child has a tantrum at the store or hits another child at the playground, you may feel embarrassed by this behavior. While you might wish you could control your children’s behavior, ultimately they are in control of their own behavior.

Letting go of feeling responsible for your children’s behavior can feel liberating! Once you stop feeling responsible for their behavior you are freed up to focus on your own behavior – something you actually do control.

What is your response when your children throw a tantrum, refuse to share a toy, hit another child or make a huge mess? By focusing on how you want to react, you are in a better position to help your children learn from their mistakes and make better choices in the future.

For more ideas on responding to children’s misbehavior in ways that are ultimately helpful, not hurtful, check out Priceless Parenting’s online parenting classes.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Baby Sign Language

One of the more frustrating things for parents of babies and toddlers is trying to understand what it is they want. The older they get, the more frustrated they also become if you aren't able to understand them.

One thing that has helped many parents is teaching their babies and toddlers basic sign language. A simple way to start is with Baby Sign Language's free "Top 10 Starter Signs". Each sign is demonstrated in a short video and shown with a sketch. Once you and your child have mastered those, you can move onto their entire dictionary of words!

If you prefer flashcards that you can carry with you and quickly reference, you might enjoy these:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

For Many Dads, There is No Room for Weakness

I was recently giving a presentation about the power of using empathy instead of anger when dealing with kids’ misbehavior. Afterwards a dad came up to discuss how conflicted he felt around not yelling at his kids when he’s angry.

Growing up he had learned that if he didn’t want to be bullied, he needed to stand up and fight for himself. Backing down was a sign of weakness and the other kids would jump all over him if he did that. Likewise he felt that if he didn’t stand up to his children by yelling at them when they made a mistake, they would walk all over him.

Researcher Brené Brown has found that for men the biggest thing that triggers feelings of shame is to be perceived as weak. There is an unspoken expectation for men that they cannot be seen as weak. For this dad, this expectation translated into feeling he needed to yell in order to appear strong to both his wife and his kids.

Even though he saw that yelling at his kids often shut them down and didn’t really improve their behavior in the future, he struggled with the idea of trying out a different response. However, if he does try using empathy instead of yelling, his underlying beliefs will begin changing to match his new behavior. Changing your own behavior is never easy, especially when it involves challenging a deeply held belief.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Striving To Do It All, Including Raising Perfect Kids, is a Recipe for Disaster

Are you feeling overwhelmed and under appreciated as a parent? If you are a woman, you are especially vulnerable to getting stretched too thin between your obligations to your kids, work, family and other commitments. Trying to do it all is a recipe for a breakdown.

In BrenĂ© Brown’s TED talk Listening to Shame, she explains “For women shame is - do it all, do it perfectly and never let them see you sweat.” She refers to the commercial for Enjoli Perfume where the jingle says “I can put the wash on the line, feed the kids, get dressed, hand out the kisses, and get to work by five to 9:00. I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan and never let you forget you're a man.” Trying to reach these unrealistic expectations can make you feel crazy!

If you’re feeling stretched too thin and don’t change anything, you’re likely to snap. The tricky part is figuring out how to reduce the tension. Something needs to give so you don’t break down. By reaching out to other mothers or professional counselors, you’ll learn you’re not alone – there are no perfect parents or perfect kids. There are just people striving to do their best.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Teaching Your Kids to Set Healthy Limits

One key skill all kids need to learn is how to set limits for themselves. For children whose parents have always set the limits, leaving home for the first time can be a wild experience. So much freedom, so little experience!

How do children learn to say "no" to themselves? Like everything else, they need practice.

Learning to Set Their Own Limits

When our daughter was in elementary school, she was allowed to choose how much dessert to eat after dinner. You'd think that would have brought her great pleasure - but in fact it was quite the opposite. She wrestled with just how many pieces of candy she should have and she wanted us to decide - not her!

She would ask us how many pieces she should have. We responded "Take what you think is a reasonable amount." At which point she demanded back "Well, what is a reasonable amount?" It went on this way night after night. Eventually she developed the ability to decide for herself and set her own limits without checking first with us.

Helping Your Kids Develop Moderation

Messages pour into our children about all the wonderful things they should have - from the latest video games to the best tennis shoes. Do our children need all these things? No, but they certainly want them!

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Children Bloom When Basking in the Glory of Your Undivided Attention

Your attention is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children. In fact, if your kids don't get enough attention, they will definitely behave in ways to get your attention - even if it's negative.

Knowing that your children have a great need for your attention, try focusing your attention on your children’s positive behavior. Notice what happens.

When you take time to give your children your undivided attention, you can almost see them blooming before your eyes. Whether you're holding them like the mom in this picture or watching their latest feat on the playground, they soak up your attention like flowers soaking up the sun. Try it today and watch what happens.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Replacing Nagging with Motivating Kids to Remember on Their Own

Monica was complaining about her 11-year-old daughter, Lillian, not picking up after herself. She was tired of having to remind her to clean up. The latest incident was when Lillian left candy wrappers and an empty popcorn bag on the couch.

Lillian was sitting on the couch watching TV when Monica noticed all the trash on the couch. Monica asked Lillian to clean it up and she responded “Fine!” while proceeding to just sit there. This made Monica angry and she yelled at Lillian for being lazy and having to be constantly reminded to do simple things like pick up after herself.

While Lillian eventually did pick up the wrappers, she did it with an attitude. Monica wanted a better way to handle this situation so that she could stop nagging Lillian to pick up after herself.

The thing Lillian looked forward to the most was the quiet talking time she and her mom had before bed each night. Monica explained to Lillian that from now on, they would start their quiet time together just as soon as she had everything picked up. When Lillian forgot to clean up, Monica just said “clean up first” and Lillian quickly got to work so that not too much of their time together was used while she picked up.

By figuring out what Lillian was motivated by, she was able to attach this to getting her chores done first. Monica found that this was less stressful and more effective than the nagging.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Helping Kids Identify Their Hot Feelings

Your kids have big feelings just like everyone else but may not have the vocabulary to describe their feelings. You can help your children identify their feelings by making a guess at how they are feeling. For example you might say, "I can see by the way you are stomping your feet that you are really mad." If you guess wrong, they will correct you.

Being aware of their feelings provides your kids with lots of useful information. You can print this free feelings chart to help your children identify some basic feelings:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Stop being a brat!

Anna was typically kind to her baby brother. However, one day 8-year-old Anna knocked her baby brother over with her foot. When her aunt saw this, she reprimanded Anna scolding “Stop being a brat!”

Anna then gave her a look of contempt indicating “I don’t have to listen to what you say.” This made her aunt even angrier and she yelled at Anna “You are such a little snot!”

While it certainly was not okay for Anna to knock over her baby brother, her aunt’s reaction in criticizing Anna’s personality rather than just her behavior added fuel to the fire. By calling her a brat and a little snot, she negatively labeled Anna as a person.

Making children feel bad about themselves does not lead to better behavior. Instead she could have held Anna accountable for pushing her baby brother down by having her find a way to make it up to him. By reminding Anna that she is a loving person and this behavior was less than who she is, Anna would have a chance to redeem herself and choose to treat her brother better in the future.