Sunday, February 26, 2012

Take Time for Training

The Positive Discipline Parenting Tool for the past week was Take Time for Training.  This tool is primarily related chores/cleaning.  The idea is this: before you expect children to do chores properly they need to be taught how to do them properly.  This happens by first modeling the appropriate method, then working with the child together to complete the chore and then finally laying out expectations clearly for the child to complete on his own.

This tool had slipped through the cracks in my house, and I was so glad to bring it back into light this week.    We have had a difficult time the past few months with our five year old, and until I started considering this Tool I was kind of at a loss for ideas.  It was great to be reminded that sometimes a little training or teamwork is neccessary to get the job done with a child.  I have been constantly telling her that she needs to get her room clean before we get in bed to read stories, or before we go to the park.  The problem was that I would go into her room 30 minutes later to check on her and she would be playing with toys, or going through old art work, or reading a book etc.  Not much of the room would be "clean".   Then she would be frustrated because I would be asking why she wasn't finished, and I would be frustrated because she still had so much work to do.  Many times she would want me to help her, but I felt like that would be giving in and letting her off the hook.  She should be responsible for her room right? Maybe not!

After some thinking I decided that we needed to go back to square one.  We spent Monday afternoon cleaning her room together.  Not only was I modeling how to clean the room, but we were also making sure that all of her things had a specific place and that she knew of and agreed on that place.   We had fun organizing the room and working together, all the while talking about how it seems easier when we just do one part of the job at a time.  First we picked up clothes, then we cleaned up the closet and organized her shoes, and then we went shelf by shelf and organized her toys and homeschool materials.  We both felt great when we were finished.  We also agreed that this was a job she could do herself if it wasn't too messy, so to keep the mess at bay she decided she would clean up every day at the end of the school day, instead of just once a week.  We also brainstormed ideas to keep her room from getting messy in the first place: don't play with any toys, give toys away to charity, sell toys at a yard sale, put things away as soon as they are done being used, etc.  She decided the ideas that would work best for her were giving some toys away and putting away things as soon as she was finished using them.

The rest of the week I reminded her, as she finished up with something, to put it back where it belongs.  At the end of our school day I asked her to go and do a room check to determine what needed to be done to make it clean.  We did the check together the first couple days.  We pointed out the things that weren't as they should be and then talked about the two or three steps that it would take to get it done.  For example: organize shoes in closet, put away coloring books and markers, and make bed.  She had clearly laid out tasks and she knew how to do them.  Things went really well.  I can honestly say we didn't have any fights about cleaning her room the whole week.  We had the best week we have had in a long time!

I can't wait to start working on next week's tool - Validate Feelings!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Special Time

The Positive Discipline Parenting Tool we explored this past week was Special Time!  Special Time is quality time that you reserve to spend with another person.  This time is very important for maintaining personal relationships.

Many parents schedule date nights, an evening away from the kids just for them.  This time set aside for being "alone"together is a valuable part of any adult relationship.  Just as date night nurtures a marriage special time is an essential part of a parent child relationship.  The Parenting Tool card says that children ages 2-6 need 10 minutes per day and children 7-12 need 30 minutes per week, and after age twelve to try to schedule something once a month that they can't resist.   As you can see this isn't an unmanageable commitment.  I am pretty sure most parents could commit 10 minutes a day to their little ones.

When I first thought about this tool, I honestly thought to myself "I don't need this one, I am a stay at home mom with both my kids all day everyday".  With this thinking I first approached my husband.  I suggested that he arrange a special time for he and our 5 year old daughter each day.  He thought that it was a good idea.  We also agreed that it would be a good way to let her know that daddy needed to have a little one on one time with our baby boy.  Once we approached her with the idea of special time with daddy each day she was thrilled and quickly agreed that she would help me with getting dinner ready so that daddy could have some special time with her brother too!

So far this week their special time went really well, and I can tell that they both look forward to that uninterrupted time together!  Now I think I will try to schedule a special time with her at least once each week, where we aren't doing school or chores, just having fun-girl time!  I can tell that this Special Time is really very special to all of us.  I also think that it helps when there are times that she wants to play with us or do something with us and we want to have some quiet time, knowing she will have her time later makes it easier to take.    Yet another simple idea that can mean so much to your child, and can make such a big difference in your relationship, even the adult ones.

On to the next week:  Take Time for Training!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


It is that time in our house!  Our baby boy turned ten months yesterday.  For some reason, sort of explained below, this is when we really begin with toilet training!

This will be our second time around with this task.  We are practically pros.  We have done it once, we can do it again... right?  These are the encouraging words I have been vocalizing in preparing myself and my husband for this.

First, let me tell you about our first experience, and then we will get to my thoughts and plans for the little guy.  When our daughter was born, I was working full time at a Montessori school.  Within the Montessori community there are, of course, some varied ideas of how, and more importantly, when to start with toilet learning.  In the end, toileting is another step toward independence, and that is something ALL Montessorians can agree on.  Working in the Montessori community gave me some inside connections and insights when it came to parenting, including toileting.  I knew that I would start early, use cotton diapers and eventually underpants, and make toileting a regular part of our life.  I had seen many schools starting children in training pants/underpants as early as one year, so I knew that I would need to have supplies and a plan by then.

The first thing I did was purchase the book Diaper Free Before Three by Jill Lekovic.  It is a great book on toileting, because it offers medical evidence as to how, why, and when you should potty train.  It also provides statistics about the shifting average age of starting and complete toilet training here in the US.  It is pretty interesting that before the 1960's people didn't believe that children needed to reach specific milestones to prove their readiness for toilet training.  This resulted in most children being completely trained(dry during the day) before they turned two.  Nowadays people wait for their child to "show an interest" in toileting before they even begin training.  Doctors even make parents believe that they could harm their child by trying to train them too early.  In my opinion that is CRAZY, but that is just my opinion.  By the way, the average age of complete training (dry all day) is now closer to three and a half!

I was convinced that I needed to start early.  It was also pretty clear that disposable diapers and pull-ups don't help the situation at all.  I used cloth diapers as much as I could in her first year.  At ten months, right after reading the book, I bought a tiny potty for my daughter.  The potty has to be the appropriate size for the child to feel stable. We started sitting her on it and reading a story every morning after nursing.  She loved books, so it was a breeze to keep her there as long as we were willing to sit with her.  She often urinated and even had an occasional bowel movement (bm) on her new potty.  We continued this for about a month and then added in a potty time right before her evening bath, which was right after dinner.  This was an even better time to catch a bm.  When she turned one we gave up diapers, at least during her waking hours.  We put her in plain old cotton training pants after she sat on the potty each morning.  If we went out from the house we would put a plastic cover over them.  We continued to use diapers at nap and night time.  We developed a schedule of potty times. We would sit her on the potty for at least five minutes each time, or longer if she desired.  She hardly ever tried to getup right away, so that made it easy on us.  Potty times coincided with her meals, naps and activities.  Anytime she wet herself we would take her to the bathroom and have her sit on the potty, then help her get cleaned up and changed. Doing so helped associate urinating with the potty.  We were pretty crazy strict about this schedule.  When we went out, we took the potty with us in the car, so as not to miss any scheduled potty times.  In the beginning there were a lot of wet underpants.  By around 15 months we were starting to have some dry mornings or afternoons, and we were catching pretty much all the bm's in the potty!  By 18 months she was completely day trained.  She continued to were diapers at nap and night until we went for a full month without a wet one, that was probably around two and a half years, maybe before that, but I was just extra cautious.  This mama doesn't like to change sheets and jammies in the middle of the night!

Now here we are at ten months again.  It seemed to work for us last time to start here, so here we go.  We had sat him on the potty a few times over the past few months just to let him have the experience, however  he never really seemed very interested.  Now we have started sitting him there right after his morning snack, as that is when he usually has a bowel movement.  So far he hasn't been very happy to sit there.  If we bring in some sort of distraction, like a play cell phone or camera, he will sit there for a bit, but his patience is not the best.  When he stands up we sit him back down and tell him it is time to sit on the potty, if he gets up again we let him get up.  He hasn't yet urinated or had a bm on the potty.

In the end I know this isn't the only way to help your child to learn to use the toilet, and it certainly isn't the easiest or the quickest.  It does follow a couple of rules that I like to stick to when working with children: it is respectful and it responds to the needs of the child.  Allowing a child to start using the toilet early gives them independence and allows them to learn before they are aware of the situation.  Using the toilet is more comfortable for the child.  They don't have to sit in wet diapers, and having a bm on the potty with feet flat on the floor is more natural and comfortable.  It can prevent diaper rash and constipation.  Once using the potty becomes a regular part of their routine, it becomes easy and sometimes even fun.

I always tell new parents that this method takes longer, but is done sooner than the wait for interest method.  It is harder for a while, but easier in the end.  AND most importantly it is the best thing for the child!

Sunday, February 12, 2012


The Parenting Tool of this past week was Routines. We are big into routines in our house!  We start with routines in infancy.  It really seems like babies do so much better when they can predict what comes next in their day.  We follow the same general routine each day.  Naps, meals, potty time, errands, etc are done around the same time and in the same order each day.  Bedtime is the most specific routine for us.  We bathe him, sing the same song while messaging him, then jammies, story, and bed.  Even if our whole day has been off routine we try to come back to the bedtime routine.  It makes for a much more peaceful night.

With our 5 year old we continue to use routines.  Now that she can read and write she creates her own routine lists and check lists.  When she was younger we used pictures and guided her a bit in creating the chart, but that is not necessary any more.  She actually likes to change her routine chart frequently to suite her mood, but I figure that as long as she gets it all done that is what is important.  Routine charts take the argument out our of the day, not all arguments of course, but some at least!  They provide us with a general "rule" of what is to be done, and since she created the "rule" it is much easier to follow.

The Mary Tamborski Blog has a great description of the use of routines with children between the ages of my children!

I think the overall thing to remember is that routines need to grow and develop with your child and they need to be created with your child once the child is developmentally ready!

This week we will work with the Parenting Tool: Special Time!

Sunday, February 5, 2012


The Positive Discipline Parenting Tool I focused on this week was Compliments!  I had a few experiences with compliments this week, all were positive!   The tag line on the Compliments tool card says "Compliments and appreciations bring us closer together."  I found this to be SO true.

At our first family meeting last week we ended with the mention of starting our next meeting with compliments.  Throughout the week I tried to take opportunities the arose naturally to give compliments to my family members.  I also helped my daughter with forming compliments from ideas she came up with.

Later in the week I came across a blog post from a blog that I follow called Simple Marriage about Compliments!  Sean Marshall, author of the post, gives a few reasons as to why we should make compliments apart of our married life.  He basically claims that complimenting your spouse benefits you both.  Not only does your spouse feel appreciated and valued, but it also helps you not to take him/her for granted.  By bringing to the light the things that you appreciate and value in your spouse you are reminded regularly why yo chose him/her.

I think this goes for your relationship with your children as well.  It is easy to get caught up in our daily routines with children and miss the beauty/value that they bring into your life every day.  Compliments make you take time to appreciate your children and you both benefit from that!

We finished the week with week 2 of our Family Meeting Training Plan.  The focus this week was, you guessed it, Compliments.  Isn't it amazing how the stars all align occasionally to send you a clear message.  Compliments were our tool card this week, in the marriage blog I read and the new skill we were practicing in our family meeting.  We went around and shared our compliments.  As I suspected, it felt just as good to receive the compliments as it did to give them.  We even went around a second time and did silly compliments, because we decided even silly compliments were fun to give and receive.  This is a tool that I really hope becomes a regular part of our everyday life!

Our next tool to work on is: Routines.