Drop off drama

If you're the parent of a young child, you play a huge role in how your child reacts to being left in someone else's care. Your child looks to you for clues on how to respond in various situations.

You've probably seen your child look at you after falling down to see how big a deal it is. If you react with fright, your child breaks into tears; if you say something like "Oops, you fell down." your child gets up and continues playing.

Similarly, when dropping your child off at somewhere like preschool, your child looks to you for how to respond. Recently, two-year-old Ben's parents were dropping him off at church school. Ben happily began playing with the cars.

Mom and Dad both asked Ben if he needed anything before they left. He continued playing. Dad asked "Do you want a hug?" Ben continued playing without responding. Dad asked again and then finally said "Well, Daddy needs a hug!" At that point Ben gave both his parents a hug and guess what? Ben was no longer feeling confident about being left behind!

Ben's folks had added drama to the drop off. He picked up on their discomfort with leaving him and now wanted to go with them! A short good-bye given in a matter-of-fact way would have worked better in this situation.

Giving thanks for children

Last night my 18-year-old daughter arrived safely home from her college in Spokane. What a blessing! Given the blizzard conditions in Spokane and the snow in Seattle, I am so thankful to have her safely here!

My husband, our 14-year-old son and I dropped her off at college at the end of August and this is her first time back home. She's so happy to be home and we're so excited to have her back!

She was just beaming last night ... hugging, eating, laughing, playing cards ... looking around to see what has changed ... not much ... "it feels like I've never left". Being able to go home and fit right back in, it's a wonderful feeling.

"When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses." ~Joyce Brothers

Happy, happy Thanksgiving!

Getting preschoolers to take a nap

You know your child needs a nap but instead of falling asleep he just keeps coming out of his room. Every time you put him back in his room he just comes out again in a couple minutes. What do you do?

One mom told me what worked with her son. She decided to give him five pennies when he went into his room to nap. If he came out of his room before naptime was done, he needed to give her one penny. After naptime, he could turn his pennies for jelly beans.

This simple idea motivated him to stay in his room during nap time and saved her a lot of arguing with her son!

"I don't have the time" or "It's not my priority"?

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the things you need to get done each day?  Children make a lot of demands on our time.  It can certainly be challenging to fit everything we'd like to do into our days.   Do you ever find yourself telling your kids that you don't have the time to do something?

What if instead you replied "It's not my priority."?  One mom explained the impact this change in thinking made for her.  She often found herself telling her preschooler that she didn't have the time to play with him right now.  When she tried substituting "it's not my priority", it made her realize that she sometimes had her priorities wrong! 

Great Parenting Stands the Test of Time

Some parenting ideas come and go like fads. Others stick around for decades. The ideas that last are those that work well in the long run to help parents with the challenging job of raising children.

The common foundation for many current parenting ideas is Alfred Adler’s (1870-1937) philosophy of treating each other with mutual respect. Parent education pioneers like Rudolf Dreikurs, Jane Nelsen and Adele Faber extended the Adlerian ideas into practical parenting tools.

Guess what year a child psychiatrist wrote the following: “The problems that our children present are increasing in frequency and intensity, and many parents do not know how to cope with them. They somehow realize that children cannot be treated as they were in the past; but they do not know what else to do.”

This statement appeared in Dr. Rudolf Dreikurs and Vicki Soltz’s book, Children the Challenge, written in 1964. That book is filled with practical ideas that form the basis for many current parenting programs. Their ideas include using encouragement, using natural and logical consequences, relying on action instead of words, avoiding power struggles and staying out of kids’ fights.

For example, they describe a few situations of siblings fighting where a parent tries to intervene with little success. They go on to explain “Whatever the reason behind the children’s fights, parents only make matters worse when they interfere, try to solve the quarrel, or separate the children. Whenever a parent interferes in a fight he is depriving children of the opportunity for learning how to resolve their own conflicts.” I can attest that staying out of my children’s fights worked like magic in decreasing their fighting!

Below are a few more examples of parenting ideas that have stood the test of time.

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

You’re not my best friend anymore!

Words really can hurt and even preschoolers know how to wield the power of words. When young children are upset with another child, they may express their anger by saying things like “You’re not my best friend anymore!” or “You’re not invited to my birthday party!” Ouch!

These words are often spoken when children are at the end of their emotional rope. They are a way of communicating frustration or anger. Ideally, parents or teachers can intervene before kids reach their boiling point and start spewing threats. Children need help learning to express their feelings in more appropriate ways.

For example, if you notice children beginning to argue over a toy or how something should be done, you can state what you see. “I see there are two hungry dolls and only one highchair. I wonder how you can solve the problem so that both dolls get to eat.” Encourage the children to come up with a solution agreeable to both of them rather than just telling them what to do.

Eventually the children will learn to problem solve without your help. Then you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Why did you do it?

If you ask your children a question like “Why did you do it?” they are likely to interpret it as an attack and respond defensively. The question implies that they acted without thinking or were inconsiderate. No wonder they get defensive!

When children’s behavior causes a problem, it’s better to help them figure out a solution rather than focus on defending their actions. Let’s pretend a child is coloring a picture and proceeds to do some coloring on the table instead of the paper. You could simply state “I see you’ve got some crayon marks on the table. Do you know how to clean that off?” With this type of question, you are guiding your child to finding a solution.

Asking children questions like “What were you thinking?” or “How could you do that?” encourages them to defend their behavior. When you can help them focus on finding a solution to the problem at hand, they learn to make amends for their mistakes instead of excuses for their behavior.

Kids and guns don't mix well

A recent story in the Seattle Times about a 4-year-old who accidentally shot his mother prompted this video.

Verbal judo

Verbal judo is a training program developed for police officers. What does this have to do with parenting? When I listened to Mike Manley, Verbal Judo instructor, speak to Ross Reynolds on National Public Radio, I realized the techniques he teaches are also good for parents.

On the radio program Manley emphasized the basics of using empathy and good listening skills when dealing with someone who is experiencing a problem. These are the same skills that work well when your children come to you with a problem!

He also discussed being in control of your own emotions so that you don’t add fuel to the fire. This is another skill I teach in my parenting classes.

Manley explained that they recommend officers ask somone to cooperate rather than commanding them. He gave some examples of commands and the unspoken message that goes along:

“Sit down!” Idiot is implied at the end of it.
“Stand over there.” Stupid is implied at the end of that command.
“Sir, could I ask you to stand over here.” Rather than saying “Hey, you, stand over there.”
To ask someone is much more courteous.

These Verbal Judo ideas are great for parents as well as officers!

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