Friday, December 4, 2009

Managing a Meltdown

So I know I said I was going to blog everyday, but since when have I followed through on anything? Well, I guess I follow through on some things. Lets just say I change gears alot. But I will at least try to get a little more regular, so here is something for the Holidays:

Managing a Meltdown

With all the excitement and stress of the holidays, it is prime time for children (and occasionally their parents) to have emotional meltdowns. What is the best way to handle it?

First, remember anger does no good for you or your child. Anger will only cause a bigger meltdown! To get a child calm, they must believe you are their ally....ready to help them meet their needs.

For young children: When a meltdown occurs, get down on the same level with your child so you can see eye to eye. Speak in a soft voice. Your demeanor will calm the child. In calm, reassuring words, ask them why they are upset. Then ask what you can do to help. When your child feels he is being understood, he will calm down. Let me give you an example.
Two children in a busy shopping mall are tired, crying and attracting attention. One mother, is embarrassed and demands the child stop crying immediately. The child knows that his feelings are not being heard and he continues to cry louder. The second mom sees that her child is genuinely upset. She focuses on the child, not on what others are thinking of her. She gently touches the child and asks, "What's wrong?" Then reassures "It's all right, I'm here. The mother's actions calm the child immediately.
Why does this work?
The mother is meeting the needs of her child. There is no threat to the child because he knows his mother's intention is to heal. The first mom is meeting her own needs. The second mom is meeting the needs of her child. When a child has this type of positive reaction from his parents over and over, the meltdowns happen less frequently. As a parent you are not only meeting your child's needs, but teaching them how to eventually calm themselves (by example)as they grow older.

For teenagers you handle the situation differently, but with the same goal in mind. Let's use the example of a teen battling with you over not wanting to attend an extended family Christmas party; instead, wanting to 'hang-out' with friends. Again first, remain stay calm. Let the child tell you why she does not want to go. Listen listen, listen and be understanding of her reasons. Ask and listen again to the details of what she and her friends plan to do. Then tell her every detail of the family party: who will be there, what will be going on, what food will be served, how long it will last. Express your love to her and how she will be missed if she chooses not to go. If you have shown a true understanding for your child's wants and needs, she will be more willing to negotiate with you. Maybe an hour at the family party and dad will drive her to meet up with her friends later. Teens are much more willing to agreeably join the family if they are not being forced.

The solution to meltdowns is to meet the needs of the child. This does not mean you are spoiling your child. Think how you feel when another adult listens and understands you. It gives you the confidence to move forward and accomplish the task at hand. Remember, when you meet the needs of your child, you are also strengthening the relationship.

The name of the book is
ParentFix by Maggie Stevens
Sold at The King's English, Frost Book and online at Amazon

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Relationships First

Isn't it interesting that we gain the most happiness in our lives through our relationships. Yet how often do we spend time learning how to improve those relationships. We usually just muddle through them and wonder why we can get so frustrated with the ones we love. It seems there are so many other things that demand our attention. Important things, like our jobs, our church responsibilities, preparing meals, cleaning the house, yardwork...the list goes on and on. Family relationships just get pushed to the side. It is time to put some effort into improving our relationships. This week, tell someone close to you why you appreciate them. Read a book that will give you new ideas on how to improve your life. Do an act of service for someone close to you, without them asking. Anyone have any other ideas? I would love to try them out on someone I love!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mean Girls

I was talking with my book distributor about parenting. He asked me this question, "Do you think it is easier to raise girls or boys?" Without thinking, I immediately answered, "Why boys, of course." He nodded his head in agreement. He has 3 girls. Now let me explain my response, especially to my daughter Stacie. Stacie, I loved raising you. I needed you in that sea of testosterone we lived in. I will always be grateful to have you as my daughter. What I found difficult in raising the one daughter I had,was watching how mean girls are to each other. It breaks my heart to watch some of the dastardly things girls do and say about one another. Boys aren't perfect, but they seem to fight it out and then move on. Most times, they seem to accept the people in their lives for what they are and do not continue finding fault. So lets unite women. We should try to be nicer to our gender. Love them and accept them for who they are!

I must add a comment to Stacie's group of friends. You are loyal wonderful friends. I am glad she found you or you found her.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I don't wanna talk about it!

How often do you say those words...or think them? One of the biggest breakdowns in communication comes when denying yourself the priviledge of talking things out, or talking things through or talking all the way around and back. When something is bothering us, why do we refuse to talk about it? Sometimes it is painful. Sometimes it requires effort. Most times we just put up a guard and refuse to discuss.

If our goal in this life is to progress or improve, we must re-evaluate the "I don't wanna talk about it" issue. I believe strongly in the forces of good and evil. If we are not progressing forward,we are letting a negative behavior control us. Don't let that evil influence stop you from figuring out what you need to do to improve your life. Talk about it. Find someone you can safely talk to. Someone who will give you honest feedback. Do what you have to do to make yourself open to solving a problem. Stop thwarting your own progress by not talking!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Parenting Adult Children

I have had many friends ask me to write a parenting book on parenting adult children, since many of us have adult children living at home. It is difficult because as parents we want to parent our kids like we did when they were younger. The one thing I can tell you is there is no way you can parent your adult child like you did when they were teenagers. One very important thing to remember is that your child knows you. That statement means they know how you think, what you think. what your responses are and what your expectations are. You don't need to give them your opinion, unless they ask.

Many of our adult children are living at home I believe because life is more difficult than it was for us. Most are not just graduating from college in four years, but working towards master's degrees. Jobs are not plentiful. Housing is expensive. With the divorce rate so high, I think many are taking their time to commit to another person. What our adult children need from their parents is love, support and respect. They need to know you have confidence in them. You must remember that your child is an adult and when you give them that respect, they will in turn, respect you.

Friday, September 25, 2009

You mean I'm responsible?

I am still having a great time in Atlanta. Yesterday we visited the Georgia Dome, CNN and hiked to some incredible waterfalls. We were lucky enought to avoid additional rain, but they say more is on the way.

I would like to recommend a book that should help with parenting and assist you to create your best self. The book, The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, M.D. It is fantastic and it goes along with what I have been discussing in my blog. He states: "No problem can be solved until an individual assumes responsibility for solving it. When individuals blame someone else--a spouse, a child, a friend, a parent, an employer--or something else--bad influences, the schools, the government, racism, sexism, society, the 'system'-- for their problems, these problems persist. Nothing has been accomplished. By casting away their responsibility they may feel comfortable with themselves, but they have ceased to solve the problems of living, have ceased to grow spiritually, and have become dead weight for socity. They have cast their pain onto society. What we are and what we are not responsible for in this life is one of the greatest problems of human existence. For the entirety of our lives, we must continually assess and reassess where our responsiblities lie in the ever-changing course of events.

So I guess that means none of us are off the hook. (including me) We must always be questioning ourselves and continue working on that path to eternal perfection!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Today I am in Georgia doing a little book promoting and visiting my son who is working hard on an internship. One thing I know for sure...I love the south! It is so green and the people are so friendly. I am enjoying myself.

On my mind today is a comment a dear friend made. "People are going to be upset with you for stating in your book, ParentFix, that parents are responsible for their kids behaviors." She is right. A lot of people don't want to believe that statement. I have had a few angry parenting workshops where moms would have strangled me if they could. It would be a lot easier as a parent to blame your child's friends for their negative behavior. Or blame the dealer for your child's addiction to drugs. Or the teacher for the lack of motivation at school. But my belief, along with many professionals, is that as parents we need to be continually observant of our kid's behaviors. From their behaviors, we can determine their needs. When we can help our children meet those needs, the negative behavior disappears. I believe strongly in this because I have had such success with it with my own kids. I also have seen many other parents thrilled with watching this principle work.

The beauty of this principle is that it is never too late to start. So don't waste your time being angry at me, give it a try!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Senseless Discipline

The third most common mistake made by parents has to do with discipline. Did you know the word discipline comes from the Latin word disciple, which means to teach or to learn. Discipline was never designed to be a form of punishment. As parents, we often put more emphasis on punishment rather than focusing on teaching correct principals and behaviors. Remember, a mistake is not a mistake if a child learns something. When parents try to meet the needs of their child, instead of getting angry and inflicting senseless discipline, negative behaviors will disappear.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Second most common mistake

Most parents know this is a problem in their home, especially if they have teenagers. The second most common mistakes parents make is verbal abuse, which comes in the form of nagging or criticism. Too many parents are destroying their relationships with their children. Your children will not want to interact with you if they know that every conversation they have with you will be something they do not want to hear. As a parent, when you criticize your child, nag or speak negatively, you are making your child feel terrible about themselves. Bit by bit, when you demean your child in any way, shape or form, you are destroying self-esteem. In order to recover, they will find another way to feel good about themselves again. Negative behavior such as drug and alcohol abuse occur when a child feels bad about himself. When your child is confronted with critical decisions, it is the strength of your relationship that will make the difference in your child's ability to resolve them. Parents need to change this ugly practice and let love be the language that is spoken in their homes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Common mistakes parents make #1

As parents, we all make mistakes. The beauty of raising kids is the unconditional love our children have for us. If we continue to make mistakes and don't improve as parents our kids may give up on us and rebel when they are teenagers. To prevent that I came up with three of the most common and damaging mistakes we as parents make. Here is number 1:

1. Too Much Control Control is a major problem in today’s
families. Control creates battles between parent and child and
causes an immeasurable breakdown in family communication.
If we are to be successful in our families, we need to find a
compromise with control. Control is so commonplace we often do
not recognize when it is being used on us, nor are we able to stop
ourselves when we inflict control upon our children. A good
definition of control: When you take away someone’s rights or
freedoms, you are using control. Parental control takes away our
children’s choices. Not only does control take away trust in the
parent/child relationship, but children will seldom ask for your
advice or respond to your requests. When the behavior your child
is exhibiting is rebellion, there is too much control in your home.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Let's go with another question today:

Q: I have read and loved your book. My only question is about discipline. I understand that it is unnecessary if I am doing the right things, but how should I react when say, my five year old kicks my three year old? I don't really know how to handle that. I explained that kicking is not okay and that it hurts people, but they are at each other's throats these days. What do I do?

A: What you are experiencing with your son is very normal and happens in every home. Even though it drives parents crazy, occasional fighting and teasing for kids is a form of play. Having said that, you don't want them to do it all the time. Here is how I would solve it. First, change your thought process when your children do something you think you should discipline them for. Most disciplines make the child mad at the parent and does not teach them how to change the behavior. Ask yourself why your 5 year old would want to kick the 3 year old? (If you can figure out the behavior, you can help him meet his needs and that will stop the bad behavior)

With kids this age lots of time they need more individualized attention. They can get kind of cranky when they feel they have to share you (or Christian) so they blame their siblings..thus the kicking. Doing this does takes time, but you will see an immediate change in your child's behavior and attitude towards their siblings. If you can spend time with them alone or make sure they get your undivided attention on a regular basis, it is amazing much more pleasant they become.

Another reason is they can be jealous of the younger sibling, especially if they younger child does everything right. Watch yourself and see if you are being more critical of the older one(which is easy) and then try finding ways to give them more praise.

It also might be that he is frustrated with something they can't accomplish so they will lash out at something or someone and usually the younger sibling takes the brunt of it. Try and observe what happens right before the kicking takes place and that should give you some idea why it is happening and how to solve it.

Sorry this is such a lengthy answer, but it is a process and once you start using it and have success it will come more naturally. The key comes in trying to understand the behavior. Your child doesn't understand why he is kicking. As you do this with your kids you are teaching them how to meet their own needs. As they get older, they will do it on their own naturally because you have done it with them. It goes along with Joseph Smith's statement of "teach them correct principles and they will govern themselves"

So in the end, it makes life easier for you! Let me know how things go.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I found as a parent it was difficult not getting angry when my kids displayed inappropriate behavior. Coloring on the walls, cutting the neighbor kids hair, picking their nose while on the front row during a school assembly, taking a nap on the class room floor during school...the list goes on and on. I have learned as a parent that behavior is key to parenting. I found the behavior of your child is an exhibition of a need that requires fulfillment. My first reaction and the most common reaction from most parents was to punish my child to try and make them stop the behavior. No matter how often I had them take a time out, sit in the corner or ground them, the behavior continued, often escalating to a higher level. When you punish a child for bad behavior, you are punishing them for having needs. That doesn't make sense. So I started trying to figure out what the need was, meet that need and voila, the behavior disappeared. For example, when I bought an artist's pad for my son, the coloring on the walls never again occurred. It is amazing how much easier it is to focus on understanding behavior rather then spend my time coming up with new forms of discipline!

I have a lot more examples of bad behaviors and solutions in the Behavior Chapter (Chapter 5 pg.76) in my book ParentFix. Go to for more information

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tough questions

I receive parenting questions on my webpage that I thought I would use as my blog today. That is always helpful for me when my brain is dead.

When problems occur with our children, we sometimes ignore, hide or pretend they don't exist. Better to ask the question when you are nervous about your child's behavior. It is also good to find out that we all struggle with kid problems. I have found it is best to face them head on for a solution...rather than ignore and have them surface years later in a more difficult format! Here goes:

Hi Maggie,
I am recently faced with a challenge my nine year old son has placed before me. He dared his 5 year old brother and his 4 year old cousin to take their clothes off and he thought it would be fun to take pictures of them (without thier clothes) with my brother's cell phone. I am not sure how to talk to him about it. I have talked with him several times about our bodies and private parts, and not letting anyone touch or see them. please help.

Hi Rie,
If it is an isolated incident, you can probably chalk it up to young boys inquisitiveness. I wouldn't be overly concerned. It gives you the opportunity to once again explain body parts and why it is not a good idea to expose yourself (or your brother) in pubic or in front of the camera. Explanations like this will need to occur often during the life of your child. Although I'm sure it is not something you look forward to, having open discussions with your child will strengthen your relationship. This is a teaching opportunity. Make sure you talk simply, anger free and with no punishments. Talk to him alone. Also, talk with your 5 year and explain this is not something that we do. And that our bodies are private, sacred and we don't touch each other. Assure them both that they should talk with you if anything like this ever happens to them. That you are there to protect them. Make sure to hug each boy and let them know you are not angry with them. You will have to apologize to your brother and assure him you have addressed the problem.

Now, if this is not an isolated incident, and has happened multiple times, this behavior may be a sign that your son has been abused or introduced to pornography. If that is the case, I would strongly recommend visiting with a child psychologist.

Please feel free to ask additional questions. I would like to know how things go.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Since I will be driving home from Northern California all day on Friday, I figured I had better post my blog tonight. I committed to blogging every week day and although I have no idea how long I will keep this up, I need to blog at least two days in a row!

After spending a few days with my daughter in the bay area, I would like to pose the question "How much do you do for your child?" "How much is too much or not enough?" So many parents differ on their answers to this question. Many parents believe we do too much for their children. That we need to step out of their lives and let them do for themselves. I personally believe that what you do for your kids differ with each child. And what they need will change at different points in their lives. I try (and I am not perfect) to let the child be the deciding factor. When they need me they will ask for assistance. Or I have asked if I can help them in a situation. If they are stuck and need help, they will readily say yes. Consequentially, when they don't need help, they will state boldly that they can do it on their own and I am no longer needed. The later is the tougher of the two to accept. But accept it I must!

Welcome to my blog....

I am creating this blog for all of us involved in parenting or should I call it nurturing. After 31 years of parenting, I have all kinds of tips to give and I am sure other parents will want to join in. Once you find something that works with your own children, it is natural to pass the good news on to others who might be struggling with the same kid problem. So I will start out with a few of my ideas and try to do it daily. Join me!