Successfully establishing a co-parenting plan

Going through a divorce is certainly difficult and when kids are involved it is even more challenging. One key to regaining structure under the new circumstances is to document which parent has responsibility for the children on a daily basis including holidays. After going through a divorce herself and realizing the importance of a documented parenting plan, Beth Fischer, CEO of Kidlink, created a comprehensive Parenting Plan document plus a one page Parenting Time document. According to Fischer, "To establish a parenting time schedule is to regain structure for a broken family. It is the most important thing that can happen in any court case involving children."

She has kindly provided both the Parenting Plan and the Parenting Time documents in a Word format that can be downloaded and completed. The Parenting Plan includes the parenting time schedule plus a broad range of other information: judge’s name, court address, children’s names, social security numbers, schools, who has decision making authority over things like medical care, how expenses like school meals will be divided, locations/times for exchanging the children, health insurance information, income tax deduction, photographs and thumbprints of the children. These documents can help establish important boundaries for co-parents.

Teens thinking through important decisions

My daughter went to her high school’s homecoming dance a week ago. It’s a big event filled with much anticipation including how someone will be asked to the dance, who will go to dinner together, where they will eat dinner and what they will do after the dance.

I wanted my daughter to have a wonderful time and of course I also wanted her to come home safely. That’s why I was especially pleased to hear that the girls in her group got together to decide which boys they trusted to drive! Driving safely is a critical issue and I’m thankful they took it seriously.

Problems with bed-wetting

A mom recently wrote asking for suggestions regarding her 4-year-old daughter’s problem with wetting the bed. She has tried a number of things like limiting drinks after 7:00 but nothing seems to be helping.

According to Pediatrician Dr. Scott Cohen, bed wetting is very common in children up to six-years-old. He explains some of the causes and possible interventions in this video on bed wetting.

Realizing this is a common problem which most children outgrow will hopefully help ease your anxiety if your child wets the bed.

Gaining cooperation by using choices

One mom taking the Priceless Parenting class commented that she didn’t think her two-year-old son would really understand the concept of choices. However, she tried anyway with choices like “Do you want to wear your tennis shoes or your sandals?” and “Do you want to gallop or walk to the bathroom?” She was surprised that he not only understood the choices, he delighted in making the decisions!

She also reported that if she had been giving him choices, he was far more likely to be cooperative later on when he really didn’t have a choice about doing something. If she hadn’t given him enough choices, he was more likely to have a meltdown. Although it felt a little odd at first giving him so many choices, she figured that the pay off was well worth it!

What was my teenager thinking?

Teenagers can act in ways that leave parents exasperated! Teens are often impulsive or take risks without fully understanding the consequences of their behavior.

Recent research has shown that it takes about 25 years for a person’s brain to fully develop. If you’re interested in how the brain develops and the impact of this on teenage behavior, watch this video by Dr. Ken Winters:

Parents can help prepare kids for being teenagers by allowing them to have plenty of responsibility and make mistakes when they are younger. Learning to think through choices and possible consequences is an important skill for pre-teens to develop.

Helping children handle their emotions

Children will often feel more understood if we identify with their feelings. One mom explained that her 4-year-old daughter would often get upset when challenged by something like trying to tie her shoes. However, she responded really well if her mom said “You look really frustrated”. Her daughter would launch into an explanation of how she was feeling very frustrated.

Helping our children process their feelings is an important part of parenting. If you are interested in learning more you may want to read Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child written by psychology professor John Gottman. Gottman describes a coaching process that teaches children how to recognize and address their feelings.

Go back to your old way of parenting!

I’m in the middle of facilitating a seven week Priceless Parenting discussion group. Parents with older children are reporting that their children are noticing the difference and asking their parents to stop taking the parenting class! When parents change their behavior, it’s a common reaction for the children to work hard to get them to return to their old behaviors. Even if the old parenting behaviors involved lots of yelling or nagging, at least the kids knew what to expect.

For example, one mom said she had taken on a lot of responsibility that she realized her children really should have. When she started turning over responsibility for things like remembering homework assignments and bringing the correct sports equipment to school, her kids complained. Her son was especially frustrated when he had to play soccer after school without his cleats and shin guards. However, the next time there was soccer practice after school, he remembered to bring his cleats and shin guards!

Although this mom is working on guiding her son to ultimately becoming a responsible adult, he isn’t thanking her for this. Anticipating the resistance to your new parenting skills can help you stay the course even when the sailing isn't always smooth.

How many demands do preschoolers make per hour?

According to Alyson Shapiro, Ph.D., of the Gottman Institute, "Research shows that this age group places up to 50 demands on their parents' attention per hour". Parents of preschoolers need to develop new parenting skills to deal with these increased challenges. As preschoolers are busily trying out their independence and testing limits, parents need to be able to set limits in loving yet firm ways.

One mom described her frustration when her son would start splashing water out of the bathtub. She finally solved the problem by gently taking him out of the tub and drying him off whenever he started splashing water. She was amazed at how well this worked. She didn’t get angry but instead calmly told him that bath time was over. She reported that he quickly learned to not splash in the tub so he could enjoy more time playing in the water.

Whose Responsibility Is It?

Children are often capable of more responsibility than we give them. When parents take on responsibilities which their children really should be handling, they are likely to feel overwhelmed and underappreciated.

One mom complained about all the extra work she was doing now that her 3rd and 6th graders were back in school. Read about all the extra tasks she did in just one day.

What tasks are you doing for your children that they could be doing?

Fostering Growth using the Mentoring Parenting Style

What is your normal parenting style?  Do you give your kids orders?  Do you do a lot of things for them that they are capable of doing thems...