Thursday, May 31, 2012

Knowing the Difference Between Unsafe Secrets and Fun Surprises

Do your kids know the difference between fun surprises and unsafe secrets? Helping them understand this distinction can provide guidance to them in tough situations.

Surprises are usually fun and have an ending when they are revealed. One of my favorite surprises growing up was when my mom, my brothers and I would make Gingerbread Man cookies as a surprise treat for my dad when he came home from work.

My younger brother had a tough time keeping the surprise until dessert time. My older brother and I encouraged him not to say anything so it would be a surprise. Much to our chagrin, he found a way around this by announcing to my dad upon his arrival home "We didn't make gingerbread cookies today!"

Surprises typically have a good intention like birthday presents or surprise parties. The surprise ends when it is revealed.

On the other hand, secrets are something meant to be kept indefinitely. Teach your child that if an adult says something like “Shh … don’t tell.” or “This is our little secret.”, this means they should tell you or another trusted adults. Even if the adult threatens to do something bad to your child or someone else, your child needs to know that they should tell.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Developing Your Kids' Positive Body Image by Avoiding "Fat Talk"

Your kids' ideas about their bodies are greatly influenced by what they hear you saying. The more "fat talk" they hear from you, the more likely they are to develop a negative image of their bodies instead of a healthy one.

Shawna Kelley works at the Emily Program which provides personalized treatment for eating disorders. According to Kelley, parents often engage in fat talk without really being aware of it and the impact it has on their kids. Some examples of fat talk are:
  • "I need to lose 10 pounds."
  • "Do I look fat in this?"
  • "That dessert isn't good for me."
  • "I might as well just stick this sweet roll on my thighs because that's where it's going to end up!"
  • "I really need to start watching what I eat."
When your kids hear you making these types of comments or similar comments about their bodies, they are at risk for developing a negative body image. The Emily Program reports that among adolescents, the prevalence of eating disorders is 14 percent among females and 6.5 percent among males.

Rather than focusing on weight and dieting, focus on eating healthy and getting exercise. Kelley emphasizes teaching your children that people come in all different shapes and sizes; being thin does not necessarily mean being healthy.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Struggling to get started on homework? Go for a run!

If your child is struggling to get started on a homework assignment, an exercise break might just be the answer.  This is especially true if your child is feeling angry, frustrated or overwhelmed. 

In the book, The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive, Siegel and Bryson explain why this works from a brain science viewpoint.  "Research shows that when we change our physical state - through movement or relaxation - we change our emotional state. ... The next time your children need help calming down or regaining control, look for ways to get them moving." 

They tell a story of a 10-year-old boy who successfully used this strategy when he was feeling extremely frustrated with all his homework.  When his mom tried to coax him into getting up from underneath his beanbag chair and sitting at his desk, he decided to go for a run instead.  The act of running as fast as he could for as long as he could helped him calm down.  When he came back home, he was ready to have a snack and start on his homework.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

10 Ways to Achieve Rock Star Status as a Parent

Do you want to be an awesome parent? Here are 10 ways you can show up for your kids and be a rock star parent!

Rock star parents …
  1. Know that they are human and make mistakes. They don’t expect perfection from themselves or their kids.
  2. Every day they do their best to provide loving care for their children.
  3. When their children make mistakes, they help them learn from those mistakes and make amends.
  4. They take care of themselves so that they are not running on empty but rather have bounty to share with their children.
  5. They spend some time every day really listening to their children.
  6. They focus on their children’s strengths instead of their weaknesses knowing that their children will ultimately build their lives on their strengths.
  7. They expect their children to be contributing members of the family by helping out with the tasks needed to keep the family running.
  8. They focus on building strong, loving relationships with their children so that the kids behave because they want to behave, not because they are afraid of their parents’ wrath.
  9. When they make promises to their children, they follow through on those promises.
  10. They allow their children to do whatever they are capable of doing and teach them the skills needed to launch successfully on their own.
What other ways do you think parents become rock stars? Add your thoughts in the comments below!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Making Excuses for Bad Behavior Encourages it to Continue

Sometimes it seems easier to ignore poor behavior by dismissing it with an excuse. Janet complained bitterly about another mom who let her son get by with hitting Janet’s son. When he hit, she’d just look on saying something like “Oh, he’s such a boy.” She did nothing to stop his hitting. 

You give your silent approval to your children’s behavior when you ignore it or excuse it. By ignoring poor behavior, you can expect the behavior to continue and escalate. Excuses parents sometimes give for poor behavior include:
  • It’s just a phase. 
  • Boys will be boys. 
  • Girls are just like that. 
  • All teens have bad attitudes.
Ideally, the parents of the child whose behavior is out of line will intervene. However, if those parents don’t act, you may need to in order to not add your own silent approval.

Megan described being at a buffet restaurant where a family of rambunctious children were running around. While the kids jumped off chairs, the parents just sat there. The kids then decided to use knives to spray sticky pop out of the soda machine.

This inspired Megan to get up to tell them that it wasn't a toy and that they needed to wipe up the mess they had made. The kids calmed down and cleaned up the mess. Although these children’s parents glared, other restaurant patrons applauded the fact that Megan had addressed their poor behavior.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

5 Ways to Avoid Raising Rebellious Children

How you parent your children influences how likely they are to act in rebellious ways. The more you try to control your children’s behavior, the more likely they are to rebel in order to exert their own sense of control.

Rebellious children need something to rebel against. What types of things do kids like to rebel against?
  • Being treated unfairly or abusively 
  • Rules that are perceived as too strict 
  • Being constrained 
  • Feeling forced to behave in ways that don’t match the child’s desires 
Here are five ideas for giving your children enough independence so that they have little need to rebel: 
  1. Allow your children to do whatever they are capable of doing. 
  2. Let your kids to make their own decisions whenever possible. 
  3. Guide them in solving their problems but don’t just solve it for them. 
  4. Expect your children to make mistakes and help them learn from those mistakes. 
  5. Encourage your children to develop and follow their own passions.
By giving your children the freedom to make their own age-appropriate decisions, they will have little need to rebel.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Are You Happy with the Way Your Family is Operating?

Take a moment to think about how your family has been operating in the past week. Consider times when you felt happy and content. Also think about times when you felt frustrated, angry or sad.

When you reflect back, what do you see that has gone well? What parts are out of alignment? If you could have your way, how would your family change?

 Is your child's behavior a source of stress?

The mom of 18-month-old Emma recounted how frustrated she was with her daughter's hitting. When Emma was 9-months-old she started sometimes hitting her mother. Her mom would gently take her hands saying "no hitting" while rubbing them gently on her face.

Well, this didn't stop Emma. Now she was hitting, scratching and pulling hair too. She didn't just do this to mom any more but other kids, daddy and the dog.

Mom knew that what she was doing in response to Emma's behavior was not making it better. She decided to try using time outs whenever Emma hit or scratched and was pleasantly surprised when Emma's behavior improved. Emma realized if she wanted to be with everyone else, she needed to not hit and so she stopped hitting.  

What is keeping you up at night?

Knowing that something needs to change and knowing how to make that change happen are two very different things. One mom knew exactly what she wanted to change in her family. She tearfully described how distant her two children and husband had become. Each one spent a majority of their time at home in their own worlds of TV, computers, cellphones and video games.

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Speaking Softly Carries More Power than Screaming

Many parents have told me that yelling is the only thing that really works to get their kids' attention. One mom stated “When I yell, then they know I’m serious.”

Have you accidentally taught your kids that it’s fine to ignore you until you’re yelling? Years ago I was in a child care situation where a number of the adults raised their voices at the kids in order to get their attention.

One day a leader from a different group came to visit. When she called the children together for circle time, she kept her voice soft. Actually, the kids had to quiet down to hear what she was saying. Guess what? Her quiet voice actually got much better behavior from those kids!

A mom told me this same technique worked like magic with her kids. She typically shouted orders at them to get them ready for bed each night. Tired of her own yelling, she decided to try out whispering instead.

That night when it was time to get ready for bed, she whispered to her children that it was time to get their pajamas on and go brush their teeth. They actually leaned closer to hear what she had to say! Even better, they went and got their pajamas on and brushed their teeth. Afterwards they all enjoyed reading a book together. Whispering got the message through more loud and clear than all her previous shouting.