Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Are You Their Friend AND Parent?

Have you seen this quote lately?  

  Every time I see it, thoughts run through my head.   (Don't ask me what those are).  The thought that sticks out mainly is...Why can't moms and dads be both; parents and friend?

I looked up the definition of both words:

be or act as a mother or father to (someone).

"the warmth and attention that are the hallmarks of good parenting"
synonyms:raise, bring up, look after, take care of, rear

1. A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.
2. A person whom one knows; an acquaintance.
3. A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade.
4. One who supports, sympathizes with, or patronizes a group, cause, or movement: 

So, thinking through this statement of "I am not your friend, I am your parent" really doesn't make sense when raising children.  I understand we are going to protect our children and teach them to make wise decisions, but parenting is not stalking, hunting them down or even being their worst nightmare!   Parenting is advocating for your child when needed, helping them through mistakes they make and guiding them to make correct decisions.   

Yes, as they get older, they may think you are a bad nightmare (and I'm sure that is basically what this statement is about) but, if we discipline and teach with a caring heart, children will learn more and show more respect for you.  Respect should be from both child AND parent.  The statement above is not a statement of respect from the parent.  

My father had boundaries and guidelines for me to follow.  Did I like them all?  No!   Did I think he was my worst nightmare? No!   I may not have agreed with him, maybe even have been mad at him at times, but never did I think of him as a stalker, or an enemy or nightmare. 

So, ideas on how to be the parent your child respects?  ( doesn't mean always agrees with, but respects you and your boundaries).   Let's rewrite this statement!

"I am your friend AND I am your parent!  
I will walk beside you and guide you.
I will discuss with you your concerns and mine.
I will listen to you always, in turn I hope you listen to me.
I have you in my dreams and I hope your dreams are happy, too.
When mistakes are made, I want you to know you can come to me!  ALWAYS!  This way we can learn together, to make it better next time.
Because I love you!"

I like this statement so much better!  The only problem I see with it, is it doesn't fit on a decorative board like the other one!  :)

So, can we be friend AND parent?  Of course we can!   

As the definition of the words friend and parent states, we can "be and act as a mother or father" and "be the person our child knows, likes, and trusts!"  


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Lying Game

Have you ever told a lie? When you did, why did you do it? Most people will tell a lie to protect themselves from embarrassment, punishment, rejection or disapproval. As adults, this is interesting to think about. Now, I’m not saying that most adults lie, I try to be honest in my life as I’m sure you do also, but as I think over my many years I have told a lie and they were for the above reasons. (Now is the time to be honest with yourself! You have too )

Now, about our children. How do we teach our children to be honest? Children are going to lie for the reasons we read above. If you put them in a situation to experience embarrassment, punishment, rejection or disapproval, they will lie. Is there a way to discipline without making our children lie to us? Let’s start with the following situation that happened with one of my grandchildren…

D.K. had been picking the paint off the walls by her bed. Her mother had asked her several times over a period of days, not to pick the paint off. One day mother walked in and more paint had been picked off.

Mother: “D.K., did you pick at the paint on the walls again?”

D.K.: “No, I didn’t”

Mother: “I can see you have, it’s not nice to tell lies. Lying hurts and makes you feel all yucky inside”

D.K.: “Well telling that lie didn’t make me feel all yucky inside!”

Although this was really a funny answer, Mom got caught in the trap that time. Now, I think my children are great parents, but we have all set up our children to lie to us at one time or another. Do we ask them a question when we already know the answer? This will invite a child to lie if they feel trapped. Here are a few ways to help children learn that lying really does hurt themselves and others, we do feel “yucky” inside and that telling the truth is best.

1. Don’t ask questions that can set up lying. As explained above, our questions often set up a child to learn to lie. They get caught in the thought
of embarrassment, punishment, rejection or disapproval. We can be disappointed in what happened, but our conversation around that will teach them how to handle a critical conversation. The best way may be:
“I see you have been picking at the paint on the wall again. Do you think we can talk about something else you can do with your hands while you are trying to go to sleep?” You could also tell them why peeling the paint off the wall isn’t good and there may even be a consequence of helping to repair the wall (what that may be will depend on age and what they can handle).

2. You can ignore the lie and continue on with the consequence for the action.
Mother: (after D.K. told her the lie) “I see that there is more paint off the wall. What can we do to fix this?”
Mom had set the situation up for her child to lie, but ignore the lie and went on with information or consequence. Nice recovery!

3. Deal with the problem, not the child. Help children learn that it is ok to make a mistake. Sometimes that is all it is, a mistake and they had forgotten. By using discipline and consequences they can learn from those mistakes and move on. If you don’t overreact, they will know that mistakes happen and they won’t have to lie to you when they do.

4. You don’t always have to find out what happened. Sometimes when it involves two children, you will never get the right answer. They have a tendency to blame each other (sound familiar?). Remember, you don’t have to question and you don’t have to know the answer. Deal with the problem at hand, teach a better way to do it or use a consequence for them to learn a lesson.

5. Watch what is going on in your child’s life. Are there outside influences that may lead them to lie to you or others? Are they lying to teachers at
school? Is it because of teasing or bullying or anything else that you may see? Does your child show signs of low self-esteem?

6. Watch what is going on in your home. Is your child tired, sick, lonely, sad, embarrassed etc?

7. Watch how you react to your children when they do something they shouldn’t. Do they feel like they need your approval for love? Children need to know you love them no matter what.

8. Teach the importance of telling the truth at another time. A family meeting is the best time to teach this. Get the children involved by asking them how they could tell the truth in different settings, even when they know that what they did wasn’t right.

9. Problem solve with your child if it is an ongoing concern. State your concern, listen to your child’s solutions, give your solutions and let them help you come up with a plan when they feel like they are going to lie. If a child is involved in the solution, they will be more aware of it and want to follow through with the plan.

10.Always tell your child you appreciate the honest answer when they do tell you the truth. Consequences may still be appropriate, but self-esteem is not lowered when you let them know you appreciate the honesty.

Now, think back on my first question. Have you ever told a lie? Did you feel all “yucky” inside? The ones I remember did hurt me, as I still remember them and the “yucky” feelings I had when I did tell them. I am an adult now and understand that I was trying to protect myself, but it doesn’t make it right. The hurtful part comes in remembering how I felt at the time. Lesson learned for sure. Let’s teach our children those lessons with understanding and acceptance. Teach them how to express the truth without worrying about the results.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Raising Awesome Kids

I saw a sweet little girl wearing this shirt the other day: 

We all think our children are AWESOME but how often do we tell them? How often do we show them? Are we caught up in the "so much to do" life that we forget to take a few minutes to tell our children? Do they really know? They probably know you love them but do they know you think they are AWESOME

In my work with families, I will go into homes that are having behavior concerns with their children. I watch the interactions between family members. Often there is yelling, back talk, and no respect. Believe it or not, this is coming from the parent! So, why is the child having behavior concerns? Hmmm... 

A child will seek for attention from anyone who is willing to give it. Especially from parents. If the only attention they are getting is negative, that is what they will seek. When a child sees mom or dad being unkind or disrespectful to them or others, they will do the same.  

A child who feels like he/she is AWESOME will want to get that attention from their parent. How do we show them this? Telling them is a great way! Just walk up and tell them at a time that they are playing or when they are doing homework. Simple to do really! They don't need to be doing anything special at the time, just walk up and say "have I told you how AWESOME you are?" How do you feel when you read those words? How do they feel when you say them? 

My daughter and daughter-in-law each send AWESOME notes in their children's lunch kits. Great idea! A simple statement of love and telling them they are great! Children need that reminder in the middle of their school day. My oldest grandson was in 2nd grade and his mom wrote him notes on the outside of his lunch sack. One of the kids at school teased him when they saw it. He came home crying and was really upset. His mom tried to discuss it with him and his reply was " I don't care what they say, I am upset because I don't want you to stop writing them!" He knew his mom thought he was AWESOME! A simple solution to the problem.... mom started writing the notes on the inside of his lunch sack so that he could still read them. By the way, she did this with her daughter in kindergarten also and her friends loved reading them with her at lunch! What a boost of self esteem for both children! 

Simple acts of kindness tells them they are AWESOME! One night as a teenager, I remember going to bed and my feet hit something in my bed. My dad had put a can of beef jerky (which I love) in my bed. What a way to tell me I'm AWESOME! All the pressures of the day were gone. All I could think about was how much he loved me! I still remember those feelings to this day!  
So, what can you do to tell you children they are AWESOME? Comment below to share your ideas with the rest of us! We would love to read them all! Laurie  

PS. I think all our followers are AWESOME! 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Aha! and Haha! Moments

We've all heard of “Aha! Moments” where we realize something or understand something. (Webster's Dictionarya moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension)  I want to talk about “HaHa Moments”.  Those moments when you just have to laugh! 
Here’s a great example shared by a friend of mine, Rachelle, that happened with her 5 year old son.   The pictures that are included are actual pictures of the event.  When I saw these, I laughed out loud!  It was clearly an example of a HaHa moment!

 “I had asked my son to clean up his room one night. When I went upstairs to check on him I walked into his room and noticed his room was completely empty!

I had expected to find everything shoved under his bed and in his closet,  but to my dismay as I turned around I noticed my own room was barricaded with all of his belongings!

My son was standing there in the doorway and then he turned to me and said "No Mom! You go clean your room!"  I didn't know if I should be furious or impressed, however, after a discussion about how if he couldn't take care of his belongings and put them back where they belong they would be given to another boy, he understood the gravity of the situation. 
And then he was asked to clean up the proper way!”

HaHa moment for sure!   Mom certainly handled the situation the right way.  Sometimes you just have to laugh.  Did he have to take the time to put it all back?  Of course he did.   Would yelling at him or punishing him in anyway have solved the situation any better?  Of course not!   Would he have learned more if she had spanked him?  No, in fact it would have had a negative effect on the whole situation!   He was trying to be funny and use a HaHa moment himself.   His self-Esteem would have gone down, respect for child and parent would have diminished.  Was it funny?  YES!  His personality was in play at the time!   Could mom laugh?  Of course she could (and did!).  The rest of us laughed too!   Did he have to take care of the whole mess?  YES… there are consequences to our actions!  Yet, mom certainly used her sense of humor.
 Using your sense of humor in parenting, easing the tension, leaves self respect intact and can even be used as a teaching moment.    As a family, my adult children still talk about the times that humor was used in teaching a lesson, rather than punishment.   Longer lasting lessons are learned when you use your sense of humor.
Think of someone you know that has a good sense of humor (not sarcasm, that is different.  We will talk about sarcasm at another time).  When you think of that person, doesn't it make you want to be around them?   My father has a wonderful sense of humor and my children and now my grandchildren talk about him all the time with love in their voices as they do!  Everyone wants to invite Grandpa B to all our events.  We love to be around him.   Your children will think the same of you if you use your humor in a way to teach.
Caution again:  We aren't going to use a joke or a sense of humor in all teaching.   You can go overboard.   Also, don’t make fun of your children or use sarcasm when using your humor.  This will backfire!   You do need to always use your kind and understanding self, even when not laughing!
 So… try to change your view of things.  Laugh WITH your children!  Find those “HaHa moments” in your parenting!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Yes or No?

Here's an interesting question to ask yourself... Can you say YES instead of NO?  
There are several ways to say YES to our children instead of always saying NO! Let me give you an example...from my own interaction with my grandchild. Now keep in mind I teach these skills to parents all the time and I blew it this time! ( a good lesson that we all make mistakes!)
We were enjoying a fun family evening around the camp-fire eating s'mores. (A favorite treat around a fire). My grandson C.A., had eaten his quota of two s'mores that evening... 
C.A.: "Grandma, can I have another s'more?" 
Me: "No, you have already had two" 
(C.A. Goes into 3 year old mode of crying and slight tantrum to view his disappointment...) C.A.: "I want another one, I want another one!" 
(Enter his mother to the camp-fire at this moment. She hadn't heard anything that had happened yet) 
C.A. runs to his mother and says: "Mommy, I want another s'more" 
Mother: "Yes, C.A., tomorrow!" 
C.A.: "Okay"
He then runs off to play! 
Whoa, what just happened here? I teach these skills all the time and I totally missed this time! Mom answered yes... That he could have one and told him when. He was completely satisfied!Now, does this mean we never say no to our children? Of course not. Often no is required and a simple no should do. You can explain why once, but you don't have to explain over and over. Yet too often we say no without even thinking. It can sometimes be an automatic response. We do know better, we do know that two s'mores is enough for a three year old, but rephrasing it into a YES response would have saved me and my grandson from the power tantrum! 
"Yes, we will go to the park when it stops raining!" 
"Yes, you can play with your friend, after you do your homework." 
"Yes, you can watch a movie, after you help me with the dishes." 
"Yes, you can take my car to the mall, but I would like you to pay for some gas." 
Saying YES some of the time (or most of the time) will ease the disappointment and might even tame a struggle. One note of caution though, make sure you follow through with what you say. If you don't, children will soon learn (very soon I might add!) that you don't mean what you say and the struggle will happen even when you say yes! 
So remember... You can often say YES instead of NO! Try it and see if it works for you. It may take more than once, they need to trust you will follow through.  
Comment below and let us know of your successes!

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