Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year!

A new year is a time to make changes, set goals, and restart!   Before you quit reading because you have heard that over and over again and you have no time as a parent to renew each day, let alone set goals for a whole year (whew) let me suggest something simple and easy..... And it doesn't matter when you start!  New year, middle of February, end of June, whenever!   ( kinda takes the pressure off huh?)

Each week we will have a simple goal for you to work on for the week.  A simple word or thought to remember for the week as you strive to be a better parent. Our goals will be posted each week...Feel free to print them out if you would like.

No need to worry, We will still post our regular fun posts, parenting advice and other thoughts.

So bring on 2016 with encouragement each week from the Parenting Piece!

Laurie and Christie.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Attitude of Gratitude

Ahhh... My favorite time of the year!   I have always loved December and Christmas!   A time for sharing, teaching children about giving and service.  We also teach them to think of others and about kindness!  I LOVE this!

I believe it is also a good time to teach our children about gratitude.   In a world of instant gratification, it is easy for a child to forget to be thankful for what they have and receive.   We need to step back in time when it comes to gratitude.   Let me give you a few suggestions.

- take time to write thank you cards
- take time to make a phone call to thank those not present at the moment
- send an email with a special thank you from your child
- say thank you when receiving a gift
- talk with them about the importance of a simple thank you and being grateful
- model gratitude
- say "you're welcome".  ( our society is forgetting this piece.  You will hear "no problem" or something similar.   Teach children and remember yourself to say "you're welcome".
- if it is gift they may not appreciate or like, teach them how to say thank you in a polite way.

Saying thank you seems simple, but it doesn't come naturally for most children.     However, gratitude and saying thank you will come naturally when it becomes a habit.   Make it a habit in your family!

Merry Christmas (Happy whatever you celebrate) and THANK YOU 😉 for being a part of the Parenting Piece family!

Laurie and Christie

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Different Kind of Mother

Christie here. I haven't ever really introduced myself on the blog. I am Laurie's daughter, and am the "tech" side of the blog here. Mom writes the awesome content. I try and keep the blog as awesome as her content.

This post is going to be a little different. Mom suggested I post this, as it has been shared a few times now on social media (which I am extremely honored about). She thought it needed to be posted on the blog. It's not about your typical "motherhood". It is about a whole different kind of mother - the one you never really know about, or know exist unless someone tells you. In addition to being a mother of 3 beautiful kids, I am also the kind of aforementioned mother. I am a birth mother. I placed my son for adoption when he was born, after painstakingly choosing his forever family. He just celebrated his 9th birthday. Below, is the snippet of my story, the one that was shared on social media a few times. I never knew the impact it could make, but I'm so grateful for the chance to tell my story in a small way. 

Please feel free to comment and ask any questions you may have about adoption, birth mothers etc. 

"My birth son's (adoptive) mother sent this photo, of my birth son right after he was born, to me. I remember that day so well. His wide, bright eyes as he opened his eyes for the first time. His unwavering stare at the world around him. The little bubbles he was creating around his mouth. His 'amazed' expression as he glanced at his forever father. And the first 'coos' he gave to his forever mother. I will never forget my birth son's smell, his cries, and his soft skin as I held him. How we fell asleep together. How I sang to him.
Josh Groban's, 'Awake,' was my song for my birth son. I remember how well that song fit how I felt that weekend he was born: 'Keep me awake to memorize you. Give us more time to be this way. We can't stay like this forever, but I have you next to me today... We'll let tomorrow wait, you're here right now with me. And all of my fears just fall away, when you are all I see.'
I will remember the love we shared that day, today - I love you baby boy. I will always love you. Happy Birthday.
The relationship that I have with my birth son's parents is amazing. I am so thankful that I can be a small part of my birth son's life, and watch him grow. I see him at least once a year (when schedules permit), and he and his adoptive parents even attended my wedding. Open adoption is such a beautiful thing." - Birth Mother, Christie from Canada

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

It's Not Fair!!

"That's not fair!"  "She has more than me!"  "You love him more than me!"  Have you ever heard these words?   In a child's is true. They are all or nothing.... if you give your love to them, there is nothing for me!   That is natural for them to think this way...but they are teachable.   They can be taught to look at fairness in a whole new way.  Fair doesn't always mean equal.   There can be enough for everyone.

It's not always your job to fix the problem.  If you let your children learn to talk it out and not get you involved, it teaches problem solving.  Too often we don't want children to feel disappointment or jealousy in the family.   I think children need to feel this emotions at times, to learn how to deal with them.   It's O.K. for them to be upset about something they don't see as fair.   A nice conversation when things have cooled down might be the best way to help them understand.   Having said that, it's not always necessary.

If one child is overpowering another too often, a talk with both at separate times and at a calm time is appropriate.   To the one being "taken advantages of in sharing", possibly ask them what they could say or do the next time that happens.  Empower them to stick up for what they deem to be fair.   You could ask the same thing to the child who seems to always get their way.   A simple conversation can change the way THEY handle it the next time.

I know one parent who says "I don't do fair". It seems now the number of "not fair" comments have decreased.  Dad doesn't buy into it or let it push his buttons.

Other ways to handle the NOT FAIR attitude in your home could include:

-Validate their feeling without solving the problem.
-Let them know you have confidence they can work this out and praise them when they do
-When they say "it's not fair"  you can explain your decision, but only once.  (Use your best judgement as a parent on this, you don't always have to explain!)  If they continue, you ask them to explain back to you.  They usually calm down at this time.
-If it is an on going problem, sit down with that child and do scenarios to help them with problem solving.  Make it fun as you teach the lesson.
-And as always my favorite parenting technique ever is to spend one on one time with each child.   Develop that relationship!  As you do this, the jealousy and fairness attitudes will decrease as your child learns that he/she is important to you no matter what another child or person receives.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Daily Reminders

I really want to talk about one of my favorite quotes that I have in my is a daily reminder of what is important in my life.

"Never let a problem to be solved be more important than a person to be loved!"  Thomas S Monson

I love these words.  If each of us used this in our parenting, then more compassion, more empathy, more understanding, more forgiving and more teaching would be felt.

Short post with a huge thought!   Share with us how you could or already do use this in your life!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Laughing Matters

Happy thoughts today!   So no teaching today.... I just want you to enjoy your children!  PLAY!
  • Build a fort, 
  • sing a song, 
  • do a puzzle, 
  • play a game, 
  • blow bubbles, 
  • face paint,
  • read, 
  • finger paint with pudding, 
  • pull them around on an old blanket, 
  • dance, 
  • play dress up, 
  • paint a fence with water, 
  • build an obstacle course with pillows and boxes, 
  • living room picnic, 
  • build a spaceship.

Best advice for today?  LAUGH!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Two Words to stop yelling, rudeness, meltdowns, and more!!

Two calm words to stop yelling, rudeness and power struggles (and more!)

I have to tell you that this idea came from my daughter.  Where she heard it first, I have no idea, but I LOVE the results she sees when she uses these words.  I now teach them in every class I teach on discipline.  Parents come back with positive results!   I would love to flood the world with these two words!

 "Try again"

Wow!   Two simple words.  

When are children are speaking rudely, excitedly, not using manners, yelling, meltdowns, not sharing, hitting, eye rolling, bad language, loud, anxious......(the list goes on) then try "try again".

Think of what results you can get.   It is a reminder that their tone, body language, or words are not appropriate and they need to stop and try it all over. When they "try again" and it's appropriate, then answer calmly with your response. Don't remind them that they were wrong the first time.  They already know this from your "try again" response.  

These words work well with all children.  They work even with the most challenging situations you and your child may be experiencing. My four year old grandson has been diagnosed with sensory processing disorder and the words "try again" help him to stop and regroup and focus on what he wants to say.

The 2 word simple phrase also works with all ages; toddler to teen.  

One reason (among many) that I love these two words is because they respect both you and the child.   

Words of caution:   You may be doing this over and over throughout their childhood/teenage years. This will be common as our children are still learning.  

Good news is you will find having to use it less and less as you don't engage in power struggles.

REMEMBER:  You are actually encouraging and teaching more by using these two simple words than any lecture or yelling or power struggle ever will teach!  

Side effect: this keeps YOU calmer too and less stress and anxiety in the home.  

So....Try "TRY AGAIN" 😉 *Editors note* - Christie here (Laurie's Daughter). My son (he will be 5 in January) was diagnosed recently with Sensory Processing Disorder (read about it here!). Not only are most of his senses overloaded with more stimuli than the average person (their brains do not block out the stimuli that normal brains block out because it is unimportant or irrelevant to their current situation) he also sometimes do not receive enough stimuli to certain senses, causing SPD kids to SEEK it (you will commonly find my son watching TV upside down, simply because it adds more stimuli to his brain).The emotional reactions to said stimuli (or lack thereof) is also hard to manage for him, because his brain is trying to hard to manage all the other stimuli going on around him. Sometimes, he just gets WAY too excited about something, and usually ends up yelling too loudly, or running up to Nana and crashing into her on his way to one of his rare hugs (hugs aren't a thing usually because he doesn't like the way it feels - stimuli thing again... touch is a hard one for him). Sometimes he just doesn't know why he is sad or overwhelmed so he tries to make up reasons that he is.
ANYWAY, one time while on a trip to visit my sister, I heard her use her "try again" with her children. It worked so well! I came home and started using it on my kids (specifically my son, who was not yet diagnosed). It is WONDERFUL! Sometimes due to lack or too much stimuli around him, he doesn't know how loud his voice is, or too whiny, or too mean, or rude, etc. But if I simply say "try again", he stops and thinks "oh... how did I say that? why do I have to try again?" and it helps HIM to realize what he is doing. If I simply tell him, he can't tune out other stimuli enough to listen to me. But if HE figures it out, he does a much better job at correcting the problem himself! At first I had to explain to my older kids what I meant by try again. But once they caught on, all I have to say is "try again". And now my 2 year old knows what I mean by it, because she has seen me use it with the older kids. Awesome! Seriously, try it for a while. It will change your life!

Friday, November 20, 2015


In light of recent happenings and events in the world, this word has been on my mind as I think of children.  My thoughts are on our children and those who live in the areas that are bombarded with hatred.    I see the courage these children have on a constant basis.  Going to bed at night, some looking for food for their families, others watch friends and family die, some are dealing with death in their “peaceful” countries.  
I believe OUR children need to learn this word, COURAGE.   They may never have to deal with a war torn country (we hope, we pray) but it is around their world constantly.   Technology shows us what is happening all over the word in an instant!  We all know this.   Some of our children see this and don’t understand where these events are happening and it causes great anxiety and fear.
We need to shield our younger children as much as possible.   These little ones aren’t reading the news or going on the internet, but they see and they hear.  I learned this a few years ago when there were devastating floods in our area.  I had picked up some of my grandchildren that very day to stay with us for a week.  It was all over the radio and tv.   We watched the news all day.  As adults we are aware that often the same event is shown over and over on the news.   To my grandchildren, as they heard it while playing or saw it on tv, they thought it was happening all over again.  Every time they saw a broadcast of the floods, it was new to them.  Turn off the tv, or watch when they aren’t around.
The same thing happens when we watch events all over the world.  It may be the same event, but to young children this is happening again and again.  
Children who are in school are going to hear and see things.  They may even study these events.  This can frighten some children.  Teenagers, of course, know what is going on and there are those that are afraid (although they may not express this).
Communicate with your children.  Watch their expressions, the things they say and even the things they don’t say.    LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN to them.
I would like to add another suggestion:
We need to teach our children to have courage; courage in the words they use, courage to stand up for that which they believe, courage to face another day, and courage to look at the good in the world.  They need to have courage on the playground, courage in their families, courage in the schools, courage in their workplace, courage on the sports field, and courage in the world.
This starts with telling them what courage means.  Talk about the word often, point out times they had courage, read books, tell them stories of courageous people (including yourself).  Children may surprise you at some point how courageous they can be.  One of our young grandchildren stood up to a bully who was picking on a friend with a disability.  That is COURAGE.  If they learn courage in their little world, it is easier to have courage in the big world.  When children feel courageous they will have power within themselves; power to change the world, power to stand up to those that are mean or evil, power to do what it right.
Model courage yourself.  Be a change in the way people talk about others.  Have courage to say something when you see someone who is not being treated fairly.  Have an attitude of courage.
Having courage, even just an understanding of the word, gives our children hope in whatever circumstances they are in.   It gives them power to handle the situations they see in this world.  For some children, it gives them life.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

American Thanksgiving

The American Thanksgiving Season is upon us (Canadian Thanksgiving for us was in October). With that in mind, here is a link to an adorable Gratitude Tree! I love this idea for Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or Hanukkah, or whatever you happen to Celebrate this season!  Such a cute idea to help get your kids in the grateful mood, no matter what you celebrate. Have you kids help build the tree, find a place for it, and have help them cut out the leaves (under parental supervision of course). Have the older kids help write the younger kids' ideas. Love it! Thanks to The R House for this adorable idea!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Bridges of Communication

“Mom, are you listening?”  “Dad, can I please, please, please?”  “No one ever listens to me!”  
Does this sound familiar?  If so, then let’s talk about communication and listening.  Listening  to your children shows respect.  Why is it that we expect them to always listen to us, yet we sometimes tend to ignore the things they are saying.   Granted, I will give you the fact that you are busy, you are possibly trying to listen to many young people all day long.  I get that.  Having said that, sometimes just listening to what your child is saying is enough to stop them from constant pleading or talking.
When communicating with others, we can set up barriers or bridges.  We want the communication in our homes constantly flowing, so building bridges is ideal.  Barriers such as dams in a river, will stop that flow.  Let’s look at some examples:
Threats – “If you don’t stop yelling, I’m sending you to your room!”
Lecturing – “If you don’t finish your homework, you will never get into university, and if you don’t get into university, you will never be able to support your family.  Get that homework done because you need to get those good grades.....”
Questioning – “Why did you...”  “How come you....”
Always giving advice or solutions -  “You should do this...”
Orders – “Take that trash out now!”
Blaming – “YOU ALWAYS make a mess...”
Denying feelings-  “Don’t feel bad...”
Can you see how each of these will stop communication?

Now let’s talk Bridges of Communication:
Stop what you are doing and listen with your whole self.  Look them in the eyes.  This takes time at the moment, but may save you plenty of time when there is not power struggle or whining.
Don’t blame the child,  look at the problem –example... “I see there is a mess on the floor!”  This gives the child a chance to tell themselves how to solve the concern.
Use the correct tone/body language – When we use a good tone with our children when making requests or speaking to them,  we are showing them respect.
Often just a word or two is better than a lecture.  Children will listen better is you just say something in a few words.  “boots off”,  “clean bathroom”,  “keys please”,  “homework”.
Watch your questions.  -  It’s ok to use questions such as “how could you have handled that differently...?”  “how do you see it...?”   If you use questions at all, make them thought provoking and not questioning why they did something.
You don’t always have to have a solution – “guiding them by listening and acknowledging is often the best route to take”
Understand that they are feeling the way they do – Acknowledge they have a certain feeling, even if you don’t think they should.  They will tell you how they feel if you let them.
Remember... after listening your answer may still be “no”.  If this is the case, simply state... “I heard what you said, and my answer is no.”  The acknowledgment that you heard may be enough to stop the whining.  (They may be mad you sad no, but that is ok.  Disappointment is an emotion that children need to learn to handle)

These bridges of communication are goals we all need to strive for in relationships.  Believe me,  you want your children talking to you... not their peers.  If you don’t feel like you have that communication now, use these techniques and I guarantee you, it will get better!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Problem Solving!

Hey all... back to the parenting blog!   Life seems to have its ups and downs and lately that is what we have been experiencing.   Taking my own advice on resiliency, we have decided to continue with the blog.  Hopefully we can reach more parents out there and help you solve that parenting puzzle we all seem to work on continuously.
Let’s start today with PROBLEM SOLVING!   This is a skill that every child can and should develop.   It is not one that happens naturally with most kids, in fact, it is a skill that is learned.   A child who can problem solve is less likely to engage in a power struggle with you.  
Teaching problem solving skills isn’t difficult.   You need to just back away and give your child the opportunity to think about a solution.  These moments come every day.  When a child is able to solve their own problems, he/she is more involved with that solution and will likely follow the plan rather than engage in a power struggle with you.
Let’s talk toddlers:   When my granddaughter, M was born her parents had a problem with older sibling J always wanting to pick her up.   Her parents sat down with her and guided the problem solving into a solution.  Every time she wanted to hold baby, she could ask mom or dad and they would help.  J remembered the solution because she was involved in the discussion.   If she was just told no all the time, she wouldn’t have been so invested in the solution.

Let’s talk kids:   You child continuously forgets homework at home.  It would be wise to sit down with the child and let them help you problem solve.  Listen to all the ideas for solutions.  Don’t discount them, even if you know that won’t work.   Come to an agreement and commit to that.  It could be your child has come up with the solution to put the homework right in the backpack after completion.  They have asked you to remind them one time.   You agree on this, with the stipulation that you will only remind once and then if they forget, the problem is theirs to deal with at school.  Your child is now invested in the solution.
Let’s talk Teenagers:  Curfew, the dreaded curfew!   Problem solving steps can be taken at this time.   The following guideline is an example of problem solving WITH your teenager.
  • Talk about the problem/concern
  • Discuss solutions (listen, listen, listen and write down ALL their ideas!)
  • Talk about each idea and come to an agreement on which one works best
  • Put the plan in action
  • If it fails, TRY AGAIN!!!   
Think of your child and his/her success as an adult if they learn as a child how to solve problems.  Think about what you can do each day to encourage this.  When they ask you something, encourage them to think of the answer or solution.  Model problem solving skills.  Talk out loud as you try to solve a problem.  Set an example that they will see and follow!

You will solve a significant amount of the parenting puzzle if you teach your children to be problem solvers!
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