Anger and Consequences Versus Empathy and Solutions

It’s natural to feel angry when children misbehave. However when we respond with harsh words and consequences, the children’s focus turns to our response instead of their poor choices.

While responding to your child with anger will usually stop the behavior in the short term, it damages your relationship and does a poor job of preventing the same behavior in the future. The more serious the misbehavior, the more you need to figure out and fix the underlying problem.

If you're interested in understanding how empathy can be used to find real solutions to problem behaviors, check out the new online class "Anger and Consequences Versus Empathy and Solutions".

Child care providers and preschool teachers may take this class to receive two credit hours of continuing education.

(Kathy Slattengren teaching the class)

Teaching Kids to Successfully Join Playing With Other Kids

If your child asks other children, "Can I play?" the answer will be "No!" about 60% of the time according to researchers. The other children are already engrossed in their play and it's easier to say "no" than to figure out how to include someone else.

A better question to teach your children to ask is "How can I play?" This invites the other kids to figure out a way to include, rather than exclude, the new child. It's a simple way to rephrase the request and increase the likelihood of being welcomed into the play.

Talking to Tots Through Teens About Sexuality

You are your children's primary teacher about their bodies, relationships and sex. It's one more important thing on your to-do list as a parent!

Around age 3, young children will begin asking basic questions about where babies come from or the differences between boys and girls. Kids are curious about their world and ask questions to gain a better understanding of it.

If you'd like a little help thinking through how to discuss these topics with your kids, the site "There's No Place Like Home ... For Sex Education" is a wonderful resource. They offer age appropriate information for kids from 3-years-old to 18-years-old.

Reading through this information can help you clarify your own values and approach to discussing those values with your kids. Teens report wanting to hear more from their parents regarding relationships and sex. Unfortunately, without enough information teens often underestimate the likelihood of contracting a sexually transmitted infection or becoming pregnant.

When a teen becomes pregnant, the parents pay a heavy price. The U.S. Census 2010 figures show that 3.1 million grandparents had grandchildren living with them. While these aren’t all cases of teenage pregnancy, this data certainly motivated me to talk
to my two teenagers about sexuality and the incredible responsibility involved in having a baby.

Start these conversations early and plan to have many small talks throughout your children's growing up years.

Discover the Secrets to Successful Parenting

You love your children. You work hard to provide them healthy food and a happy home. You try to teach them right from wrong. You know you need to set limits on inappropriate behavior.

You have all the right ingredients and yet sometimes your interactions with your kids don’t live up to your expectations. There’s too much yelling and stress – not enough fun and enjoyment. When you’re in the middle of it all, it’s hard to figure out what needs to change so there’s less conflict and more cooperation.

This reminds me of my experience of making Red Thai Curry. I had all the right ingredients, followed the directions and yet it never tasted as good as a restaurant’s version. Finally after enjoying the Red Thai Curry at the Bangkok Thai Restaurant in Enumclaw, I asked the chef the secret to her delicious sauce. She told me to cook the red curry paste in oil for a few minutes to bring out the flavors and then add about 1/4 can of the coconut milk and cook it another 10 minutes before adding the rest of the can, soy sauce and brown sugar. Wow - cooking the paste in oil first made all the difference!

Likewise, you’ve got the right ingredients for being an awesome parent. Now you just need to fine tune your approach to bring out the best in your kids. Learn how in our online parenting classes:

If you live in the Seattle area, you are invited to join me for a 6-week parenting class at Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland, WA. Two sessions are available starting:
  • Jan. 11 to Feb. 15, 2013 9:30 - 11:30 AM (ages 1 to 5)
  • Jan. 11 to Feb. 15, 2013 noon - 2:00 PM (ages 6 to 12)
Space is limited. You can learn more and register today.

Reducing Tantrums for Babies and Toddlers

A mom wrote "This week my 10 month old has started throwing terrible tantrums when she doesn't get her way. I read its a normal part of development but its like I have a completely different child these days. How long does this phase usually last? I think she doesn't feel understood and throws a tantrum about it. Is there anything I can to do ease her frustration? Thanks in advance :)"

I responded back "It is normal for young children to throw tantrums. They don't gain enough emotional regulation to 'hold it together' until they are somewhere between 3 and 5-years-old. Even at that age it is still a developing skill so if they are tired, hungry or coming down with a cold, they may have a meltdown.

One idea is to teach her some sign language so she can communicate what she would like. The Baby Sign Language site has a bunch of free videos showing how to make various signs.

The mom replied "She doesn't sign yet but when I sign what she wants she has the biggest smile on her face since I 'understand' her. I will encourage her to start signing and hopefully that will relieve some of her frustration. Thank you so much!"

Resolving Conflicts using Collaborative Problem Solving

Do your children exhibit any challenging behaviors? If so, you probably have tried numerous things that haven't worked: time outs, grounding, withholding privileges, taking away toys, taking away the computer, TV or cellphone, and talking about the problem. Nothing has helped!

By definition, challenging behavior is difficult to solve. If it were easy, the simple consequences should have worked. The reason nothing has worked is because the underlying cause of the problem is not being addressed. The trick is figuring out the root cause of the problem behavior.

Forcing Children to Behave

While it is tempting to try to force children to behave through the use of punishments or rewards, these attempts often fail. Children realize that you are trying to control their behavior and may respond by doing just the opposite of what you'd like.

Dr. Ross Greene talks about three approaches to misbehavior in his book The Explosive Child. "Plan A" involves trying to impose your will on the child.

He writes "If you respond to an unsolved problem by imposing your will - by saying things like 'No,' 'You must,' or 'You can't' - you're using Plan A. If your child often has trouble completing homework and you respond by insisting that the homework be completed, you're using Plan A. If your child often doesn't brush his teeth with the frequency or diligence you expect and you take away screen time until your expectation is met, you're using Plan A."

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

Get Your Kids to Happily Drink Their Fruits and Vegetables

Is it a hassle to get your kids to eat their fruit and vegetables? Try having them drink them instead!

When we added delicious fruit and vegetable smoothies to our meals, it helped our kids significantly increased their intake of these healthy foods. If you've never tried a green smoothie, Kris Carr is just the person to show you how good it can be.

Her latest book Crazy Sexy Kitchen: 150 Plant-Empowered Recipes to Ignite a Mouthwatering Revolutionwill give you plenty of ways to make eating fruits and vegetables fun!

She also provides some free smoothie recipes on her website. Yum!

You Must Versus You Can

The words you choose can make the difference between getting cooperation from your children or getting resistance. When you start a request with “you must”, it invites kids to think “No I don’t!”

Read the statements below and see what difference you feel:

"You must brush your teeth." versus "You can brush your teeth and then we'll read a story."

"You must use the bathroom before we leave." versus "You can use at the bathroom before we leave."

"You must pick up your toys." versus "You can pick up your toys before dinner or after dinner."

"You must wash your hands before lunch." versus "You can wash your hands and then join us for lunch."

"You must study harder." versus "You can choose how hard to study."

In each of these situations, the children are ultimately in control of their behavior. When the statements begin with “You must”, it is an attempt to force the children to comply. However, just trying to force this compliance can send kids in the other direction just to prove their own sense of control.

photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc

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