Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Show Faith

Show Faith is the Positive Discipline tool we are looking at this week.  The Tool Card says "When we show faith in our children they develop courage and faith in themselves.

For me there are two aspects to this tool.  The first, and most obvious, is to be used in an encouraging way.  Telling your children that you believe in them and know that they can do whatever it is that they are attempting gives them the confidence to go forward.  When they are faced with challenges, having faith in them allows them to face the tough stuff head on with courage.  My parents were great at this.  I never once thought that there was anything that I wasn't capable of doing.  They gave me confidence by believing in me 100%.

The second, and not so easy use, is to be used when our children are dealing with problems, conflict, loss, or failure.  To have faith at these times can be more difficult.  You are not necessarily telling them that you know they can do it, because they may be in a situation where they can't.  They might lose the game, or fail a test, or fight with a friend, or  get into trouble with an authority.  These are typical problems that all children will face at some point.  It may be at the park when another child steals their toys, or in middle school when another guy steals their girlfriend.  It may be due to a bad decision that they made, even after you showed your faith in them to make the right one.  Bad things happen, on occasion, to EVERYONE.  Life is not meant to be about avoiding all possibile mistakes or troubles, it is meant to be about learning and growing from those that you do face.

When we rescue our children, instead of letting them face their problems head on, we are not allowing them to develop the skills that are necessary to deal with hardships.  Writing a note to the teacher when your child doesn't do his homework isn't helping the child.  Standing up to another child who is not being as kind to your child as you would like does not help your child.  As Jane Nelson always says, "Children need to develop their disappointment muscles."  When your children face disappointment, they have the opportunity to learn from it.

I am not saying that you should completely abandon your children in their time of need.  Instead of rescuing them, trying to fix their problem, or even worse lecturing them about their mistake, you could let them know that you have faith in them to handle the situation.  You can show compassion, they learn this from you too.  Tell them that you can understand how they are feeling.  Share stories of when you have faced a similar situation, or just offer a hug or a shoulder to cry on.  Being there lets them know that you believe they are strong enough to overcome the obstacle.  Show your faith in them and allow them to learn, grow, and most importantly have faith in themselves!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

One Word

The Positive Discipline Tool we are working on is One Word.  This one is simple; instead of using lecturing and nagging, use a one word reminder.

To be honest, this reminder couldn't have come at a better time for me.  Recently I have found myself going on and on with my children.  While this is not effective with a six year old, you can only imagine how well it works on an 18 month old.

Here are a couple examples of one word working out much better then many.

My six year old comes home from school each day, has a snack, then does some homework, or self directed writing/coloring at the dining room table.  I cook dinner at the same time.  Once she is finished, she needs to clear her snack items away, and put her homework and writing/coloring materials away.  If she does not put her things away, then we are not able to set the table and have dinner.  We have discussed this at length and she understands what needs to be done.  I have also taken time for training, so she knows how to clean up after her snack and put her things away properly.  For the last week month, I have been having to remind her over and over again, as I find her off playing while the table is still a mess and it is time to set it for dinner.  I found myself going on and on with lengthy explanations, something like this, "If you leave things out on the table there is a chance that dinner could spill on your work and then it would be ruined, and if you don't get everything put away, then we have to spend time putting it away when dinner is already ready and our food will get cold and we will end up eating dinner later, and that will cut into your special time with daddy..."  It is exhausting just typing all these words!  Imagine hearing it over and over.  I would tune me out for sure.  This week I decided to try one word.  On Monday when she walked away from the messy table, I said "table"!  She "hmphhhed" and cleaned it up!  Tuesday went about the same and the rest of the eek she either cleaned up without a reminder or did so pleasantly when reminded!

My 18 month old loves to climb.  Now that he has mastered climbing up onto the couch, he enjoys standing up, jumping, and running on the couch.  This does not work for me, because if he were to fall off he would most likely hit the edge of a table and get very hurt, and because couches are for sitting.  We try to avoid using negative language with him.  Instead of constantly saying things like, "no", "don't", "stop", etc, we try to tell him what we would like him to do.  When he climbs onto the couch and stands up, we say, "please sit down", "put your feet on the floor", or "the couch is for sitting".  Let me just tell you, once you have said one or two of these phrases 17 times in the matter of a few minutes, you get sick of hearing yourself speak.   While we often have to distract and redirect, our toddler at this age, I thought I would give One Word a try with him too.  On a few occasions, as soon as he stood up on the couch, I said "sit"!  To my surprise it did work a few times.  If I followed that up with a distraction, such as a book to look at on the couch, he often stayed sitting for a bit.

Of course no tool works all the time, but if you find your self really harping on one specific thing frequently, and you know that your child understands what is expected and is capable of doing it, try One Word.  You just might be surprised with its simplicity and effectiveness!  It is easier for you and more respectful to your child then lecturing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Closet Listening

Closet listening is a valuable Positive Discipline tool for bringing yourself into your child's world.  The idea is that you take some time regularly to spend some time in close proximity to your child without an agenda or conversation directed at them.  If your child talk, just listen without judgement, or approval or criticism.

As children get older, they begin to have more and more of a life independent of their parents.  When we question them about this aspect of their life, even in a friendly way, they are often reluctant to open up and share great detail.  My 6 year old is already demonstrating some of this.  When we ask her questions about school, friends, play dates, etc. we are often given one word answers.  Sometimes when I pick her up from school I feel like a detective trying to get some clues out of her regarding her day.  I sometimes find myself telling her that I want to hear about her day and then I think she feels obligated to tell me something even if she didn't really feel like sharing.

Other times my husband or I will try to make conversation with her at dinner by asking about specific parts of her day.  If we accidentally get the name of something or someone wrong she seems really irritated.  I guess a little less talking and more listening would serve us well in this situation.

The other day when I picked her up from school, I decided not to ask anything other than, "How was your day?"  As we walked she sand some songs, asked what was for dinner and then skipped along quietly.  When we got home she sat down at the dinner table to work on her homework while I prepped some things for dinner very nearby in the kitchen.  It was only about five minutes before she started telling me all about her day.  She shared much more than I usually get from her during my usual after school interview.   What a difference!

This is a simple tool, but I can see how this could be very effective as my children grow more and more independent.  When they feel as though they are in control of the conversation, they feel less interrogated and more like a respected member of the family.  In the end we are all happier, we get the info we want and our children feel respected and safe in sharing with us, knowing we aren't judging them.

Friday, October 12, 2012

I feed my kids real food...

So you can feed them junk!

It has come to my attention lately that what we feed our children varies immensely from home to home. And I'm not talking about cultural differences, I am talking about standards.  What one family considers healthy, another wouldn't even touch, and another does not even consider whether or not it is healthy to begin with.

I openly admit to being a good snob.  I only buy meat at Whole Foods or from a local ranch/butcher, and even then we only eat meat/fish about once or twice a week.  I never buy anything from the dirty dozen list that is not organic, including when these items are added in as ingredients in another product, applesauce being an excellent example.  I buy free range, vegetarian fed, organic, omega-3 eggs, for at least three times as much as other people pay for eggs, questioning my decision each time.  I spend an immense amount of time reading and learning about our food system, nutrients, pesticides, fertilizers, supplements, etc.  I volunteer to bring "treats" for my daughters class for every celebration, so that I will know what goes into those snacks.  For the same reason I avoid potlucks and eating "other people's food".  I know I sound crazy.

I am crazy in fact.  I am not the hovering mother type, and I try to let my children have as much freedom as they can developmentally handle, plus a little bit more!  But when it comes to food I am much more conservative.  I am not 100% convinced that all the precautions that I take are necessary,  but I continue learning and changing as I see fit.

Every night, or just about,  I make a heathy, well balanced meal for our family.  I make 99.9% of our food from scratch and enjoy doing it.  We serve dinner at the dinner table and we all sit and eat together, talking about our day.  I try to always make sure that there is at least one component of each meal that is familiar and well liked by the children, because what I make for dinner is for everyone and that is all there.  I don't do separate meals for my children, and if they don't like what we are having then they go to bed hungry, and I know that they will eat a big breakfast the next day.  I also know that they will not starve or suffer from not enjoying one meal with us.  On the rare occasion that this does happen, I try to make sure that breakfast the next day is something that they really like, to fill their bellies!  We love the motto, "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit!"

Thanks to this strict policy in our home, my children are both very good eaters.  Of course there are things that they do not like, and they go through picky phases now and then, but we stay the course and  everything usually works itself out.

So the other day I offered to bake the cupcakes for the cupcake decorating part of the fall festival at my daughter's school.  I suggested pumpkin cupcakes, and was quickly informed by the room parent that most children do not like pumpkin and that chocolate and vanilla would be preferred   I was surprised by this response.  In my house any dessert is well received  and my kids love pumpkin cupcakes.  The room parent later admitted that her kids have probably never really tried them,  but she doesn't think they would like them.   I see where they get their tastes from.  I agreed to do chocolate and vanilla cupcakes and make the frosting from scratch to avoid canned stuff.  I am okay with treats, I just prefer them to be homemade with good stuff.

I know I can't control everything that they eat, but I do what I can.  I also educate them what kinds of things are in some of the packaged and prepared foods, so that they are aware what they are putting into their bodies.  They also know that a little bad stuff now and then isn't so bad, it is just when you eat that stuff all the time that your body gets sick.   We strive for "everything in moderation"!  The point is that I feed my children healthy, wholesome food the majority of the time, so when they are faced with junk, I  will know that: 1-It won't kill them to have it so infrequently, and 2-It is often so different tasting from what we eat at home that they don't really like it anyway.  This is what works for us.  How do you feel about packaged, processed, artificially flavored and/or colored foods?  Do you think about this stuff as much as I do?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Win/Win Solutions

This card says "Focus on Winning Children Over Instead of Winning Over Children!"

As parents we are so often set on being right and "in charge" that we lose the cooperation of our children.  It is sometimes easier, when facing a problem with your child, to decide for them instead of with them.

The ways that we can win children over are:

- Involve them in the Problem solving process
- Allow children to make Mistakes, then be there to help them learn from the mistakes
- Follow through
- Motivate and Empower them
- Teach children what to do
- Listen and Make Agreements
- Make a connection before corrections
 - ComplimentEncourage and Validate Feelings

These are some of the great tools that i have written about this year.  I hope you enjoy this little refresher and find a little something that will help you to win your children over!

Next week we will take a look at Closet Listening!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Letting Go!

Letting Go is a very simple tool, but seems to be very difficult for many parents.  The card says "Letting go does not mean abandoning your child.  It means allowing your child to learn responsibility and to feel capable."  It is so funny how one mother's version of letting go seems like allowing her child to learn and grow while another mother would see it as neglect or lazy parenting.

I feel like so many parents these days are hung up on being "perfect" parents, and to them that means doing everything for their child.  What they don't realize, is by doing for their child all the time they are not only not allowing their child to learn how to do it himself, but they are also constantly sending him the message that he is not capable.  Once again I will share my favorite quote of Montessori, "Any unnecessary help is a hindrance to development."

I know I harp on this point a lot, but it is probably the single most common parenting mistake that I see being made in a variety of settings.  With helicopter parenting becoming more and more prevalent, we need to take a look at what we really want for our children.  If we just want them to get perfect grades and participate in many extra curricular activities and stay out of trouble, then helicopter parenting might be the answer.  I personally want more.  I want my children to not only get good grades, but love learning.  I want them to participate in activities that will open their eyes to our culture, enhance their physical health or enrinch their lives in a way that school and home don't.  I want them stay out of trouble, but not because they are scared of the consequences that I will enforce, but because they know right from wrong and have a strong enough sense of their place in this world to make good choices.

Letting go is a tool that must start from birth.  Montessori talks about the various transitions that our children go through as they develop.  Immediately after birth they learn to drink milk, breath air, and cry.  Before we know it they are learning to communicate with smiles, eye contact, and different cries.  Then they sit, and eat solids.  Not long after they crawl, then walk and soon they run.  We cannot hold them back or they may physically or emotionally suffer.  Children are constantly changing and growing and we must follow their lead and allow them to develop along their natural path.  Even if what they do scares us a bit, we must allow them to explore and grow independently.  That means not following them around at the park, not constantly telling them what to do or not to do, and not scooping them up and coddling them every time the get a little scrape or bump.  As they get older, their independence will take the shape of new friendships that will begin to become ever more important and influential in their lives.  Another moment we must let go a little and trust them.

As they grow, we take time for training and we take small steps toward letting go.  Then we have to put our trust in our children and let them be who and what they will be.  Knowing that your child has the knowledge and ability to be successful makes it easier on you to let go.  In Montessori we say knowledge precedes choice.  Children cannot be given freedom of choice without knowledge to guide them.  So take time for training and then have faith in them.

Don't think that you are a bad parent if you do not rescue your child in every challenge that they face.  Children need to deal with problems and difficulties and even failure, because that is part of life.  As I have heard Jane Nelson put it many time, children need to strengthen their "disappointment muscles", so when they face more serious problems later on in life they are capable of dealing with them.  Allow them to make mistakes and learn from them.

The final, and possibly most important tip that comes with this tool is: "Get a life so your identity does not depend on managing your child's life."  You are not just  "Mommy"!  Find things that interest you and inspire you outside of your children.  Fullfilling yourself will make you a better parent.  It also allows you to model the importance of taking care of yourself and nurturing your hobbies.  A great lesson for your children.  Here is an article I found about detaching from loved ones!

Letting go is much harder for some parents than it is for other.  It doesn't happen over night, but if you take the time to teach, put faith in your children and be kind and firm, you will be able to slowly let go and let live!

Next week we will look at Win/Win Solutions!