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Family Routines…Time to Take Another Look!

August 28th, 2013 by admin Posted in Uncategorized

Family-routineRoutine and schedules; schedules and routines. If you are a parent, you are hard-pressed to go anywhere without someone talking to you about sleeping schedules, eating and bedtime routines, and how very important they are to your child’s growth and development! So, what do you need to pay attention to when it comes to your child’s schedule and routine? Here are some ideas:

 

1.  Sleep, Sleep, Sleep.  Whether you have a newborn, a toddler, a kindergartner, an elementary or middle school-aged child, sleep is of paramount importance. It affects everything: appetite, ability to focus, energy-level, mood, weight-management, school performance and behavior management in school, as well as your child reaching their basic developmental milestones.

Your family’s schedule needs to be based around the sleep needs of your children. Something I often talk to my clients about is planning the bedtime routine around when they wake up the next morning. What do I mean? Well, if the family needs to be awake by 7:30 AM, and you have a three-year-old, you back up bedtime 12 hours to 7 PM.  Some families aren’t eating until 7 PM, pushing the bedtime back to 8 PM or even 9 PM, and leaving the toddler exhausted, under-rested and cranky. Is pushing dinner and bedtime earlier inconvenient for busy working parents? Yes, but I like to remind parents that it won’t be like this forever! Before you know it, your child will be staying up later, and you will be missing those “early-to-bed” days!

 

 2.  Eating. Sometimes I hear, “But my child is not hungry,” or, “They don’t eat the food I make!” And I get it. Feeding kids can be tough. Their taste buds are more sensitive than ours, and they really do taste food differently! But this doesn’t mean that meals cannot be prepared and enjoyed together as a family. Don’t succumb to making a steady diet of mac-n-cheese and nuggets! When kids are young, the food may be basic yet wholesome with some nights designated as “try-it nights”! You put out foods that the kids have picked and some that are new and exciting.  Kiwiskumquats and kale are nice options for new “try-it” nights.

The most important thing to remember is that keeping regular meal times (especially dinner) is an antidote to negative behaviors, both now and in the future. Study after study shows that family meals are critical for both communication and a sense of family belonging. It can be a challenge to do this in the early years, all work and little payoff, but the investment will be apparent in years to come! So, make mealtime a priority in your house.

Kids-playing-with-pots

Photo Source: Thinkstock/Comstock

3.  Doing nothing. Yes, you read it right. In this day and age, you need to schedule “doing nothing”.  If you have paid for it, signed up for it, have to check-in or buy a gift for it…that is doing something. Doing nothing allows for boredom and the all-important slowing down. Now, I am not going to bash technology (I am typing this on an iPad with an iPhone next to me). No, I think our brains can handle far more than we even think, but I do know our kids need to learn how to be bored. Why? Out of boredom comes creativity. Unique ideas spring forth, and kids are allowed to follow a true interest. This interest rarely involves money or complex toys.

For some kids, doing nothing is going to involve playing a sport, or climbing a tree, building Legos, or coloring and drawing. Some may stare at the sky, and some may recreate their classrooms. Doing nothing looks different for every child…so don’t judge it when you see it. As a parent, find your own doing nothing: napping, reading, listening to music you actually like, talking on the phone to a relative or friend, enjoying a glass of anything you like, cooking, writing a letter, practicing your golf swing, shooting hoops, etc.  “Yeah,” you think, “with what time?” Well, that is why you need to schedule it! Doing nothing will not happen spontaneously, at least for most families.

It may feel like there are a million components to your family and the schedules and routines you keep.  Try not to get too bogged down in too many details, and remember to stick to the basics!  Good food, rest and relaxation can take a family far!

Photo Source (upper right): Thinkstock/Goodshot

I SWEAR!

August 21st, 2013 by admin Posted in Mother, Parenting, Swearing

After this reading this, I had to admit to swearing in front of my kids.

They don’t swear.  I don’t swear in public (mostly), and I never swear at them.

But if I drop a can on my toe, you can bet I am not saying, “Oh GEEZ.”

My mother swore.  Often.  And colorfully.  They are strange and fond memories, listening to her swear the leaves that would build up in the city gutters, or hearing her curse out someone who was unkind to the elderly or a child. I was embarrassed AND proud.  My mom didn’t (and doesn’t) take shit off of no one.  She taught me to be fair, tough, and not mince words; not verbally dance around what is important.

Living is DC to taught me to not mistake “proper” language for morals, strength, erudition, or sincerity.  Some of the most under-handed behaviors come from the most curse-free people (politicians?), and well, I ain’t buying it.

Where I grew up, adults peppered their language with words, phrases, and stories that would make a sailor blush.  I picked up a good bit of it.  It didn’t stop me from becoming an English major, a teacher, a counselor, a coach, and a public speaker.  And yes, I curse when I speak (to right crowd and in the right story, it is crucial).

I call ‘em as I see ‘em, and sometimes that is with an F-bomb.  I have tried to stop, and it hasn’t worked.  So, I am embracing my swearing, Goddammit.

NOT another back-to-school blog

I intended to write something great about sending your little ones back to school.

But, geez…isn’t that boring?  Here is a standard blog in a nutshell:

Kids need more sleep, good food, a little more sleep, and some gently nudging back into an organized lifestyle (it’s tough for all of us, isn’t it?)  Sprinkle some stuff about making friends and making time for homework, and BOOM, you have yourself the standard back-to-school blog.*

YAWN.

As I frittered away my time, trying to not write the above, I came across this:

 

No longer forward nor behind

I look in hope or fear;

But, grateful, take the good I find,

The best of now and here.

 - John Greenleaf Whittier

 

Now this, this is saying something.

You see, a couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to find myself with some amazing people at The Omega Institute.  There was Susan Cain, who talked about the beauty of the introvert, as well as Sil Reynolds talking about the beauty of mothers and daughters.  But the real reason I drove to Rhinebeck, NY?  To hear Dr. Gordon Neufeld talk about his book, Hold on to Your Kids”; a book that has left an indelible impression on me as a parent and a coach.

He talked (and talked) about attachment and “you see,” he would laugh, “you all already know how to do this.  There are no secrets here, secrets of how to attach to your children, of how to connect, of how to love.  You know how…it is your parenting birthright.”

I got chills and I knew that I would be learning from this man.

So, I suppose this blog is about going back to school…for me!  As Shakespeare said: “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.”

After all, I know enough to know that I know some about life, a bit about parenting (and nothing when it comes to cooking).  I know the best I can do is “take the good I find, the best of now and here.”  And Dr. Gordon Neufeld is “the best of now and here.”

Learning never ends.

So, as I start to learn again and make myself vulnerable to change, let us remember that our children are vulnerable, too.

They have grown over the summer, changed, made mistakes, had adventures, and forgotten their schoolwork.  They will again (and courageously!) head off to school, meet their teachers, see old and new friends, hope people like them, and worry that they are pretty/smart/athletic/funny enough.

This is brave stuff.

 We, the parents, we get to love our children for the now and here.  We will have gratitude for their very existence, without condition.  Not because they are on the team or in the play or running for office.  Parents get the “just because” love.

It’s the best kind there is.

A new school year is always my “new year.”  I cannot shake the old feelings that come rushing back when I used to teach; it was the best.  And nothing is quite as lovely as summer drifting into autumn.

I hope you have a lovely start to this new year.  I hope you take your pictures, smile your smiles, hug your big hugs, and cry your goodbye tears.

Life doesn’t get any better than this…

Bye Summer!

 

 

 *And here is some info you may want about going to back to school.

Children and Allergies…a problem that persists

August 8th, 2013 by admin Posted in Uncategorized

Peanut-allergyLet’s face it. If your child doesn’t have a food allergy, you may have sighed that long sigh when you realized you were in the “wheat-free, egg-free, dairy-free and nut-free” room in preschool.

You may have heard or even made statements like:

“These allergies NEVER existed when I was a kid.”

“I think some of these parents are jumping the gun a little here, don’t you?”

“It is unreasonable to expect everyone not to eat ANYTHING…what am I going to pack for lunch?”

And I knew that food allergies were prevalent, but imagine my surprise when my research showed thatfood allergies are the number one reported “special need” by parents (closely followed by ADD/ADHD).

A little poking around, and I found these shocking numbers from the FAAN (The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network):

  • Nearly 6 million or 8 percent of children have food allergies with young children affected most.
  • Boys appear to develop food allergies more than girls.
  • Food allergies may be a trigger for or associated with other allergic conditions, such as atopic dermatitis and eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases.
  • Although childhood allergies to milk, egg, wheat and soy generally resolve in childhood, they appear to be resolving more slowly than in previous decades, with many children still allergic beyond age five. Allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish or shellfish are generally lifelong allergies.

And a quick trip around the interwebs gives us many theories, but few concrete reasons for this huge spike in food allergies in children. The main theories seem to be:

  • Our environments are now too sterile, thus not allowing our children to develop the “gut flora” our immune system is used to having (as seen in other parts of the world where the rates of food allergies in children are much, much lower)
  • There have been some studies that correlate our increased C-Section rate to the rate of food allergies in children.
  • And there is some thinking that we are not treating food allergies correctly. Scientists are working on introducing the “Dangerous Eight Foods” (peanuts, egg, wheat, milk, shellfish, fish, soy, and tree nuts) to children earlier rather than later, with the thinking that many children will develop healthy resistances to these foods. In keeping children away from the allergic foods, some scientists think that we are prolonging the severity and likelihood of the allergy.

Food-allergies-graph
Graph Source: Meghan Leahy

Whatever we may think of food allergies, and however annoyed we may feel that our child cannot eat her peanut butter and jelly everyday, food allergies are clearly here to stay.

So, to get a better sense of what people are going through, I asked some Facebook followers of mine to tell me about their experiences. People started writing immediately, with the predominant message of “THANK YOU.”  Their experiences range from the food allergy being an annoyance to multiple ER trips!

Serena K. says of her seven-year-old and her food allergies (milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, flax, lentils and mustard): “Our children grow up a little faster than the average kid because they have to learn to take on responsibilities and manage a potentially life-threatening disability. This disability is invisible, so people rarely can tell who has food allergies. On the flip side, our children are more resilient, mature and articulate because they have to communicate VERY important information to everyone around them.”

Then there is the idea of intolerance and high levels of sensitivities to artificial ingredients and colors in foods, setting off asthma attacks and chronic diarrhea. Joyce S. encourages parents to, “Trust your gut as a parent.”  She sought medical advice from multiple doctors, in different specialties until they found the right diet for their son, now 10. Joyce S. also strongly suggests helping the child to self-advocate in school and always includes snacks so that he can join in and feel part of the school parties.

Finding the right doctor is a common theme amongst parents of allergic children. Christine P., whose three-year-old son has a milk allergy says, “We are very careful about exposure, but at the same time, doubt the severity of the allergy. He had no reaction to his accidental exposures, and there is some conflicting research (for some dairy allergies) about no exposure versus limited exposure. We’re in the process of finding a doctor who we think is more up to date on the research to get a second opinion.”

As a parent coach, there is much empathy to be found in these stories. All you have to do is imagine sending your sweet three-year-old, so excited and ready to play, off to school. Trusting and praying that others will help you in keeping him safe and healthy cannot be an easy leap of faith, but it is a leap these parents must make in order for their children to learn and grow.

Milk-allergy
Photo Source: Thinkstock/iStockphoto

We can all help these families by, yes, adhering to the dietary restrictions placed by the schools, but more importantly, include these families into your circle.

More Tips:

  • Invite them to play dates at your home, and make the environment safe for them.  Ask the parents what is required, and do it!
  • Let the other family know you are happy to drop your kid off at their home, too!
  • Find environments that are safe for everyone (the more natural, the better), and invite bigger groups of children. Have the party centered on playing games and cooperation, not food.

Above all:

  • BELIEVE the parents when they tell you about the food allergy. LISTEN to their stories. APPRECIATE what they need to do to live a normal life. There is no need for pity. An open heart and a listening ear are all that is needed.

Photo Source (upper right): Thinkstock/iStockphoto

Why Don’t my Kids Listen to ME?

July 27th, 2013 by admin Posted in Uncategorized

As a parent coach, one of the chief complaints I hear from parents is: “Why won’t my children listen to me anymore?  Things were going so well and now they ignore me, say “No”, or even do the opposite! I am so tired of it.”

But as a parent with young children myself, I know what opposition feels like and it isn’t pretty. As adults, we have a certain idea of how things should proceed and when your kids don’t march along nicely, this can be very frustrating.

So let’s take closer look at some of the reasons our kids don’t listen to us!

1. Developmentally, your child is right on track. It is normal and expected for all children to say no at different ages.  For example, two year olds, four year olds, late six year olds…it is completely normal for changes to occur in both the body and the brain that can lead to an increased rate in irritability, sensitivity, and negativity. “Wait” you say, “my child is three and says no all of the time!”  Every child is different, and your child may be on a different developmental track. The point is, be open to the idea that your child may not be trying to be disagreeable! They are trapped in a rapidly changing brain and body, and cannot get out! Realizing this will help grow your compassion and forgiveness for the child, as well as find solutions.
2. Your child says no because you are not allowing her or him to grow and change. What do I mean by this? Every child, no matter their temperament, is naturally inclined toward independence and real work. Each child wants to contribute in a real way and see the fruits of their labor. So, when a child is trying to dress herself, for instance, and we continue to step in and interfere, the child will begin to struggle to assert their independence. Try simply allowing the child to try something…what your child can do will surprise you!
3. Your child is saying no because you are asking too many questions. Parenting 101? If you don’t want to hear “no,” don’t ask a question that gives the child a chance to say it! For instance, you know the child is happily putting together a puzzle…so what do you think the answer will be when you ask, “would you like to get in the bathtub?” Of course, that child would rather puzzle away! So, don’t ask the question! Instead, create a transition and don’t offer a choice! Get down on the child’s level, look them in the eye, and say, “Bath time is in 3 minutes. I am setting an alarm. When the alarm goes off, the puzzles are over.” Alarm goes off, you gently and firmly lead the child to bath. Will they struggle? Maybe. But it will be far, far better the “fake choices” struggle!

Whatever you decide to do, remember that the more you struggle, the more you struggle!  

 

Talking to your Children about S-E-X

July 8th, 2013 by admin Posted in Uncategorized

Mother-daughter-talk-smIs there anything that makes parents feel more uncomfortable than having to talk to their young children about it? You know, S-E-X?

The mere mention of the word makes even the most outspoken of people blush and change the subject, and it isn’t really surprising. We live in a culture where we are debating how and if women should have access to birth control, yet the American porn industry is a multi-million dollar business. We are confused about how to talk to our kids about sex because, in large part, we are confused about sex.

So, let’s not pass that confusion to our children. “Fine,” you say,”but how?” I am a big believer in common sense, so let’s start there.

Talking about your reproductive body parts isnot the same as talking about sexuality.  Would you think twice before talking to your four-year-old child about how his heart works? What about lungs? Fingers? Of course not. Well, a uterus, a penis and a vagina are also just that: body parts. They have specific and important roles in the body, and they aren’t all sexual. You need a penis and a vagina to urinate! When we talk about body parts with our children, try to think of it as a biology lesson: body parts and their functions.

Children are born as sexual creatures. As soon as a child realizes their hands are attached to their arms and that they can control those hands, they start to touch everything, including their genitals. Many a parent will share stories of little baby erections, and how, as they watched in horror and amusement, the boy seemed to be quite pleased with it. Little girls and boys can start to masturbate as young as two and well, let’s face it…that never really stops, does it?  For young children, masturbation most often occurs unconsciously, as well as when they are relaxed and happy. Some children also use it as a coping mechanism for when stress sets in. This is all normal and healthy. Yes, you can teach them that there are appropriate times and places for touching (their rooms), but a gentle distraction is the best way to handle a child who is masturbating.  “Who wants to play Zingo?” or “Time for a bike ride!”  You get the idea.

Talking to your kids about their bodies and sexuality can help prevent sexual abuse. A child is most likely be sexually abused by someone they know (a coach, a teacher, a person in your religious community, a family member, a friend, a neighbor). Adults who sexually abuse kids are counting on that child to not understand his or her own body. If a child is confident and knowledgeable about private parts, they stand a greater chance of knowing that “no one is allowed to touch me, except me.” And this is not a one-time message! You have to remind your child, as they grow, develop and change that his/her body belongs onlyto him or her and no one else. Talking to your children about their bodies (frankly and often) is an important tool to help protect them from predators!

Father-son-talk

When you start a dialogue about sexuality and their bodies with your young children, you create a trusting, open and honest relationship for down the road…when it really matters. Maybe you have a strong outlook on issues of teen sex, or maybe you aren’t sure how you feel about it. In any case, if you don’t speak to your children about your values, they are going to turn to their peers and the larger culture for how to feel about their bodies and what to do about sex. And as I’ve mentioned, that can be some pretty tough terrain for your child to navigate alone. Do you really want all sexual information to come from a sex-ed class in school and their peers? Your children may understand how sex works (or how to stop it, so to speak), but will they understand your family values? Study after study shows that these conversationsmatter. So, start it youngBecome a source of reliable, measured and caring information! Let your children know that you will always answer their questions. Let them know you will not judge them if they are worried about something. Your child will have missteps and worries, broken hearts and their own sexual discoveries, but your values and how your family discusses sex becomes the template that lasts for years to come. Silence and embarrassment are not values, so start now, and start young!

The good news? There are many resources and guides to help you in these conversations, so don’t go it alone! For reference books, I recommend Sex and Sensibility by Deborah Roffman, Everything you Never wanted your kids to know about sex (but were afraid they’d ask) by Richardson and Schuster. Books you can share with the kids:  What’s the Big Secret by Brown and Brown, and It’s NOT the Stork by Harris and Emberley.

And if you ever feel as though your child is not in a “normal” realm of sexuality, please speak to your pediatrican. There are many resources, therapists and doctors who can help! 

Photo Sources: Thinkstock

 

Kids in the Kitchen

July 8th, 2013 by admin Posted in Uncategorized

So often, parents think that meals are only about eating food, and yes, consuming calories is important. But is very helpful to remember that meals are a good time for the family to come together in conversation and cooperation.

ThinkStock.comIf your dining room feels more like a battleground than a friendly place to break bread, it is time to change things up.

So, let’s try something a little out-of-the-box. This idea is meant to cultivate some cooperation, collaboration, and interest in food, as well as responsibility, and fun! This day can be altered to simply one meal; do what is right for your family!

The “Kids Rule the Kitchen” Day!

1) Two days before the Big Day, tell your children that they are going to be in charge of feeding the family! Let them know that there must be nutritious choices (2 fruits, 3 veggies, proteins, etc.), and then help them plan the menu. IT MUST BE FOOD THAT THEY CAN MAKE OR MAKE WITH ONLY A BIT OF ASSISTANCE FROM YOU, THE PARENT. Otherwise, why bother? Also, don’t judge the choices too harshly. If it is waffles and grapes for breakfast, cream cheese and jelly sandwiches with baby carrots and pretzels for lunch, and chicken nuggets with frozen peas and mac-n-cheese for dinner…it’s okay. It’s one day.ThinkStock.com

2) Write down the menu for the day and hang it up where everyone can see it.

3) Go shopping with the kids and their lists. Allow them to find the items (and tailor this for the younger set). If you have readers in the house, they should manage this fine.

4) The night before the big day, remind the children that they are making the food the next morning, and you cannot wait!

5) Don’t overmanage the day. As safely as you can, allow the children to work out their issues and make the meals. Yes, help cut veggies and toast waffles, but stay out of the way as much as you can, and don’t criticize. Stay positive, smiling, and say that everything is delicious. As the parent, offer to set the table and get the napkins for the family.

6) Enjoy the meals together! Mention the details of what you notice. Show gratitude for the food and the preparation. Offer to clear the table.

7) Above all, let this be a fun experiment. Notice how your child handles this fun challenge. Is your child afraid to fail? Does your child ask for your help constantly, because they are accustomed to you jumping in? Is your child thriving under a bit of pressure, and have a creative flair? A day like this shows you a good bit about your child’s temperament, as well as your own parenting strengths and weaknesses. Watch and take note.

8) Plan another one! No matter what, declare it is a great success and schedule the next one. Everything that children do is practice, so allow this to be practice. Your goals are not about food here. They are about fostering confidence, cooperation, fellowship and fun. Get brave and give your children a chance!

 

You are not a “good enough” parent.

June 28th, 2013 by admin Posted in Uncategorized

Lately, I have been reading a lot of parenting blogs that are focused on being “good enough.”

 

You yell at your kids, all of the time?  Well, that’s okay.  That’s good enough.

You feed your kids frozen pizza five out of seven days of the week, pretty much all of the time?  That’s okay!  That’s good enough.

You sit and stare into your iPhone while your kids play at the park, day in and day out?  No worries, that’s good enough.

Your child spills his energy drink into his iPad during his fourth hour of play?  That’s fine; that’s good enough.

Your child does four hundred activities, twelve months out of the year, leaving him exhausted and you half-crazed with the driving:  good enough! 

Your child watches TV before bed, every single night.  Good enough. 

Your child eats more sugar and artificial ingredients than you would ever admit to?  Good ‘nuff.

Your children fight to the death some days, and you go hide in the car?  Good enough.

You don’t want to host play dates because you don’t want to watch your own kids, let alone anyone else’s.  Good enough.

You go to bed exhausted, angry, lonely, and anxious about your parenting?  That’s cool.  It’s just good enough. 

 

The more I read, the more my head spins.

It head spins from this idea:

 “I am telling the world how I think I suck as a parent, but don’t judge me…it is good enough.”

 

Frankly, I don’t care about much of what people judge as “good enough.”  Everyone is going to probably damage their kid’s psyche somehow, so beyond beating and shaming him or her, I withhold judgment about much else you do as a parent.

What I care about is this strange pride in shouting out your suffering, like a bizarre badge of dishonor.  

Do moms really care about serving frozen pizza, four nights in a row?  I don’t.  And if you really do care, then stop telling people you are good enough and cook some real food.

Do moms really care if they yelled in the parking lot once this week?  I don’t think you are a bad mom.  Or do you yell until you are hoarse, every single night?  You know that this life of constant yelling, well, it is not good enough.

And do you really care that you are too tired to fake the smile at fifteenth red circle drawn by your four year old?  Or are you so tired that everything is drudgery, but you are labeling it as good enough.

 

I don’t feel badly for working when I am in the park with my kids.  I tell them I need to work and I answer e-mails.  And when I consciously spend time with them, I don’t look at my phone.  That is not good enough.  That is good.  That is fine.

 And when, two months ago, my husband and I had lost it one too many times with one of our children, we called our parent coach and said, “help.”  That yelling, that fighting, that anger, it was not good enough.  We needed to work on it.

 

How about we (me included) stop flying our fake flags of failure and have two categories: “good” and “needs work.”

Personally, I am all “good” with setting boundaries.  I “need work” with celebrating and remembering to smile.  Boom.  Done.  I know I need to smile more.  I am not going to continue to grimace and tell everyone it is good enough.

 I really don’t think you have to call yourself good enough anymore.  Frankly, I think that is a crappy way to parent and live.  It minimizes the good you do, and it gives you a free pass to be a miserable parent when you know you need to take responsibility for your behavior and get it together.

If being a “good enough” parent means a faux acceptance of poor parenting behaviors and a disavowal of the good parenting choices, than that is not good enough.  That is treading water.

 And another thing (she hollers from her soap box)!  I don’t hear dads referring to themselves as good enough.  My husband virtually sends himself flowers for dressing all three of the kids.  Men seem to be generally good.  Maybe they could stand a parenting tune-up here and there, but I want Moms to stop it with the good enough.  It’s enough already.

Salmon Dinner

June 5th, 2013 by admin Posted in Uncategorized

So, if you follow me on FB, you saw the process.  Which is to say, I posted that I bought some salmon that my kids would never eat.

Then I realized that, “Shit, I should do something about this  This is why people hire me.”  Huh.

So, I had a cup of coffee and thought.

The word that appeared was EXPECTATIONS. (Which is, yes, how things happen to me.  They appear.  Words. Images. People.  My dead father-in-law comes to me when I meditate.  Crazy?  Maybe, but you are already reading this, so hang in…)

I often assume (is there anything more dangerous in parenting?) that my children know what I am thinking and wanting from them.

Yeah…ummm, they don’t.  I needed to make it explicit.  Again.

And I have been quite busy helping other people have great meals with their kids…and guess what?  I have been blowing off my own family.

Oh sure, we all sit together and have a cursory dinner.  “What are you grateful for?”  Blah blah blah.  I have been checking it off the list, half-in (which means half-out), and frankly, making some pretty shitty dinners.  Who wants to celebrate Kraft?  Not me.  Not even my kids.

So, the letter.  The letter was about setting about some expectations for them.  Sure.

Letter to my kids

It was really for ME.

“Hey, kids.  Mom is going to make you a real dinner.  It is going to have antioxidants and vitamins and it cooked in way that demonstrates care and skill!”

“Hey kids, I want you to know I am taking this seriously.  And yes, it is $22 a pound, but that is not why I care. I am taking it seriously because I have forgotten to show up for dinner properly.”

 

The nine year old declared dinner, “Not disgusting.”

The six year old took a bite and dramatically spit into the trash (I appreciated the theatrical nature of her disapproval).

The almost three year old only wanted to know what her father was going to do.  When he ate it with gusto, she decided to eat it with tacit acquiescence.

The lovely outcome?  NO ONE ASKED ME FOR WHEATIES.

They always ask for Wheaties with bananas when they don’t want whatever is served for dinner.

The answer is always no, unless I am too fucking tired to hear it.

So, everyone sat there for about ten good minutes.  Everyone ate the rice and vegetables, and picked at the fish.

Success.

 

Book Give-Away! Woohoo!

May 31st, 2013 by adminTags:
Posted in Nagging, Parenting, Patience, Resilience, Silence, Uncategorized

Day threeLast fall, I (luckily) found and read the book Duct Tape Parenting, A Less is More Approach to Raising Respectful, Responsible, and Resilient Kids by Vicki Hoefle.  Talk about a game-changer!  It instantly spoke to me about the power to staying quiet, as well as allowing our children to grow resilience by figuring things out on their own.

I instantly decided to band-aid my mouth shut for five mornings in a row.  It was fascinating, eye-opening, and yes, oddly relieving to stop the nagging, reminding, and constant talking.

 

So, in the spirit of LOVING this book, Vicki has been gracious enough to allow me to do a BOOK GIVE-AWAY!

I want all of you to read the following FIVE DAY CHALLENGE, leave a comment below, and I will pick a winner JUNE 7th!  

The lucky winner will win a copy of Duct Tape Parenting, A Less is More Approach to Raising Respectful, Responsible, and Resilient Kids!

If you are interested in listening to an interview Vicki and I did about my “Say Nothing, Do Nothing” Experiment, listen here!

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Duct Tape is not Just for Quick Fixes, Anymore!

That’s right, you’ve guessed it. I’m going to change how you look at Duct Tape. I am going to suggest you start thinking about what ONE roll of duct tape can do for your parenting experience.

First, let’s take a second to think about you and your kids. I don’t know your children, but you know them very well, so go ahead and think about them in action. Now think about you in action as the parent. What seems to go smoothly (bedtime routine?) and what seems to fall apart every single time (morning routine?). Now, think about your favorite parenting strategy. Do you have one? I bet you do, but you might not even know it. You might think, well, I don’t use anything consistently, but yelling, nagging, reminding, lecturing, and all those reactive habits are strategies that you use every day to try and change your children’s behavior. How is it working for you? Are you implementing strategies that are creating long-term change, facilitating strong independent confident, capable children? If not, here’s where the duct tape comes in handy.

Another use for Duct Tape

Imagine sitting down with your kids and telling them you are sorry. You are sorry for all the bossing, dictating, controlling and micro-managing you have been doing and that you are really sorry for treating them as though they are incompetent. Tell them you are going to step back for five days and observe and watch what they can do by themselves and identify where they could benefit from some training. Ask them how they would like to wake-up in the am. An alarm clock, alarm on a phone, the sun streaming in the window? The choice is theirs. Tell them you will be taking a piece of duct tape and putting it right over your mouth, to help you break your old habit of jumping in and nagging, reminding, lecturing, bribing and so on. What would happen if you were unable to remind them what to be doing, thinking, or saying all day long? Now sit in a chair. Imagine you’re duct taped there. You cannot run into the living room with every little spat. You can’t carry backpacks, or bring shoes for kids who left them at home. You can’t clean the entire house. In fact, all you can do is sit there, accept what’s happening around you, learn what your kids are capable of, where they could use some training and where you will start on your journey to raising respectful, responsible, & resilient kids.

When and why would a parent do this?

When your child decides to wear fleece pants to school in August and learns a valuable lesson, you can nod and say nothing (instead of “I told you so”), because personal experience is the BEST teacher.

When your child has a temper tantrum in the kitchen, you quietly leave the room, instead of getting down on the floor and joining her. (We all know adult temper tantrums are much worse.)

When your child forgets his lunch you quietly have faith that he has what it takes to be a little hungry, solve the problem, and remember the next time. (If we want children to believe in themselves, we must believe in them first.)

This, my friends, is the best gift you can give yourself, and it’s the gift that you can give your children. I challenge you to learn to “duct tape” yourself out of all the nonsense that goes along with raising children. With this one gift of duct tape, you can give your kids the golden gift of learning independence, problem solving, failure, forgetting, learning, asking, remembering, discovering, unfolding, realizing, trying something new and creating a life that is their own. In one year, imagine the difference.

Consider the Duct Tape Parenting pledge

As a Duct Tape Parent, I pledge to

  • Do my best
  • Zip it
  • Shut it
  • Think first
  • Avoid quick fixing
  • Not feed the weed
  • Quit my job as the maid
  • Avoid interfering
  • Let the kids handle it
  • Forgive and move it along
  • Model behaviors
  • Pass on the cheap drama
  • Stay emotionally available
  • Stay cool, chill, and calm
  • Allow new thinking
  • Invest in the relationship
  • Allow natural consequences
  • Train my kids in self and life skills

 

If this all seems a bit radical and overwhelming, pick up a copy of Duct Tape Parenting, A Less is More Approach to Raising Respectful, Responsible, and Resilient Kids (Bibliomotion 2012) at your local bookstore or Amazon.com or enter to win this giveaway. Learn more about the foundational philosophy behind this parenting approach and the strategies that will help you to invest in the relationship with your child, to trust your child to navigate his life, to train your child in life and self-skills necessary to lead a healthy fulfilling adult life, to provide the opportunity for your child to practice and master these skills while living at home with you AND to still manage to get out of the house on time in the morning without tantrums or tears.

Enjoy the Journey! – Vicki