Forcing Kids To Say “I’m sorry”

Have you ever heard a parent demand that a child apologize? What happened after that parent said something like "Now that was not nice! You tell him you’re sorry."? Sometimes children will apologize and other times they will dig their heels in and refuse to say they’re sorry.

Demanding children apologize has a couple big problems. First it sets you up for a power struggle since your children are ultimately in control of what they say. Secondly, forcing kids to say "I’m sorry" when they’re not teaches them to say what other people want to hear even if it’s not the truth.

A better approach is to help your children see the impact of their behavior on others and find a way to make amends. For example, "When you grabbed the shovel from Sam, he started crying. He looks really sad. What do you think you could do to help Sam feel better?" Asking questions helps your children do more of the thinking and learning from situations.

Asking Questions Rather Than Issuing Commands Leads Kids to Thinking

Do you ever get tired of constantly telling your kids what to do? Does it seem like you have to say the same thing over and over before they finally do it?

It’s easy to get into the habit of telling kids what to do:
  • Brush your teeth.
  • Get your shoes on.
  • Say please.
  • Put your car seat straps on.
  • Eat your breakfast.
When you order your kids around by saying things like “Go wash your hands.” you are doing the thinking. You can help them to start doing more thinking and decision making by asking questions instead of giving commands. “What do you need to do before we eat so that you don’t get sick from germs that might be on your hands?”

Next time you’re about to give your kids a command, see if you can turn it into a question. Look for the difference in how you feel and how your kids react.

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Embedding Small Homework Successes for Easily Distracted Kids

Julian hated doing homework. It seemed to take all afternoon and he often ended up feeling frustrated and angry by the end. His mom realized that part of the problem was that Julian was easily distracted.

When Julian sat down at his desk to do his homework, he was usually up within a minute or two doing something else. He might be bouncing a ball, petting the dog or looking out the window. What he was clearly not doing was his homework!

When Julian and his mom sat down to brainstorm possible solutions, they came up with setting a timer to go off every 3 minutes. If Julian was still working on his homework when the timer went off, he put a tally mark on a piece of paper otherwise he just reset the timer. If Julian was able to get 10 tally marks in a day, he earned 30 minutes of playing with his favorite video game.

The fact that Julian could feel successful every 3 minutes by focusing on his homework really helped him out. If your children struggle with homework, how can the task be broken down into smaller steps where they can feel successful?

No Name-Calling Week Starts Today

What if there was no name-calling in schools? That's the aim of the annual "No Name-Calling Week" which starts today. Schools across the country are planning lessons and activities to help end name-calling. These efforts are also aimed at eliminating bullying.

The "No Name-Calling Week" web site has lots of resources and lesson ideas. From art projects to a creative expression contest, there are many ways to participate.

How about also making your home a No Name-Calling zone? Increase the respect in your home by eliminating name-calling!

Reminding Yourself of How You Want to Parent

A mom taking an online parenting class called to discuss how it was going. She loved the new ideas she was learning. These approaches were quite different than how she was raised in India where her parents gave her orders and she simply obeyed. Giving her own 6-year-old daughter orders wasn’t working well so she took this class to learn new approaches.

She discovered ideas that worked really well with her daughter. However, she quickly learned that it was easy to accidentally switch back to her old parenting ways. She decided to help herself and her husband remember how they wanted to parent by writing some key ideas down on notes. She then posted these notes throughout her house.

She’s found that having the notes around really help her out. She removes the notes when they have guests over and then puts them back up once the company leaves. These little notes are doing a great job reminding her of the new skills she wants to use with her daughter.

How to Parent In Ways That Are Truly Helpful, Not Hurtful

Many parents wish their children came with an owners manual to tell them how to handle the tough situations without breaking a sweat! While that manual doesn't exist, there is a universal body of research and knowledge about how effective parents raise respectful, responsible children.

The new How To Parent In Ways That Are Truly Helpful, Not Hurtful book captures this knowledge. Practical ideas for building a positive family life are presented through real parenting stories. Below are some of the ideas you'll find in this book.

Chapter 1: Guiding and Encouraging Children

Creating a positive tone in your home (p. 13)
Identifying conversation roadblocks (p.15)
Guiding children to solving their own problems (p. 23)

Chapter 2: Parenting Behaviors to Avoid

Replacing yelling at children with calmer responses (p. 45)
Understanding problems caused by bribing children (p. 48)
Finding out how to avoid food battles (p. 51)

Chapter 3: Responding Positively to Misbehavior

Getting children to respond the first time you make a request (p. 66)
Discovering how to stay out of power struggles (p. 70)
Shaping the desired behaviors you want (p. 74)

Chapter 4: Building Your Kid's Life Skills

Developing habits to succeed in school (p. 87)
Helping children figure out how to fit in (p. 93)
Replacing negative self talk with positive thoughts (p. 95)

Habitually Responding in Helpful Ways to Parenting Situations

You are bombarded with making many parenting decisions every day. From deciding what to serve for dinner to responding to your children when they don’t want to eat what you’ve made, you’re continually assessing situations and making choices.

Primarily these are little responses, small decisions that you make multiple times each day. How much does any single response matter? Generally not much, but it’s the accumulation of all these little responses that create your family culture.

Assessing Your Current Habits

Step back for a moment and pretend you are an invisible stranger observing your family. What do you see? Where is the most tension? Do you hear a lot of yelling? What happens when the children misbehave? How do disagreements between children get resolved?

When you look at your current family environment, what do you see is working well? If you could change a couple things, what would they be?

The current family environment you are witnessing is the result of your current parenting habits. It’s the little things you do daily without much thought that have created your family atmosphere. Making changes will involve establishing new habits.

Creating Habits for Challenging Situations

When you go to Starbucks, you are expecting a pleasant experience in return for paying a premium price for their coffee. Have you ever noticed that their employees maintain their friendly, cheerful attitude even when it’s hectic? How do they do this?

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

Challenging Children to Do Hard Things

Are your children getting enough opportunities to struggle with solving difficult tasks? As a parent you may want to pave a smooth road for your children to walk along so that they aren’t likely to stumble or get hurt. However, in doing this you may be unintentionally denying your children the ability to learn from handling a difficult problem or situation.

In his book How Will You Measure Your Life?, Clayton Christensen writes "The end result of these good intentions for our children is that too few reach adulthood having been given the opportunity to shoulder onerous responsibility and solve complicated problems for themselves and for others. Self-esteem – the sense that “I’m not afraid to confront this problem and I think I can solve it” – doesn’t come from abundant resources. Rather, self-esteem comes from achieving something important when it’s hard to do."

When you allow your children to handle tough problems without jumping in to rescue them, you are providing a valuable learning experience. Your children will see that you have confidence in their ability to handle it. Regardless if it goes roughly or smoothly, they will learn from it.

Sugared Cereal Is Not Healthy For Kids

Did you know that  sugared cereals have more sugar per serving than frosted cakes or donuts? Yikes! Dr. Michael Greger's article, &qu...