Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why Kids Choose The Friends They Do

Do you remember when your mom and dad warned you to stay away from certain kids? And then maybe pushed you to make friends with others? Now that you are a parent I’ll bet you find yourself doing that same thing--mostly without success.

Between the ages of 5 and 12, making friends is one of the most important missions of childhood - a social skill that will endure throughout their lives. Developmentally, school-age children are ready to form more complex relationships. They become increasingly able to communicate both their feelings and their ideas. At this age they are no longer so bound to the family or so concerned mostly about themselves. Friends are important because they share with one another the pleasures and frustrations of childhood.

Choosing friends

A number of factors can come into play as your youngster selects his friends. If he feels good about himself, and if he has been loved and respected within the family, he is more likely to make good choices of friends. If you and your spouse relate to each other well, and if your child has caring and supportive relationships with his brothers and sisters, he will have seen and experienced positive examples of how people can relate, and he will carry these impressions over into his own friendships, including the friends he chooses. On the other hand, if those family experiences have not been supportive and confidence-boosting, he is likely to seek out peers who have similar types of troubles. Make sure your home environment is healthy.
There is a reason children choose the friends they do. As a parent, it is helpful to be aware of what these reasons are and why your child chooses them. Sometimes they pick friends who have personality traits they desire. For example:

Personality Trait Why This is Enticing
Fun Seekers---------Use it to improve their happiness level
Popular----------------Raise their own status with others
Gregarious------------Help them to lose their own shyness
Smart-------------------Makes them feel smarter or help with their grades
Funny-------------------Others want to be around or make them laugh
Cute older brother---Date to the prom
Negative influence---Rebel against their parents

Once you understand why your child has chosen a particular friend, take some time to help your child understand why he has chosen a particular friend. This is will also give you an opportunity to discuss his own values, feelings, and behaviors.

Healthy friendships

A healthy friendship is one in which both children are on an equal footing. Neither child should dominate the other to make all the decisions on what activities to pursue. They should share and make an effort to please each other.

Negative peer influences

Dealing with negative peer influences is a challenge, but there are solutions. Some parents may demand that their own youngster stop spending time with this "bad influence," but this is not the best strategy. Your kids have to find out for themselves who their true friends are and who are people that are using them or just passing through their lives. If you interfere too often, you’ll lose the ability to guide them and you’ll likely make it harder for them to make critical decisions that they need to as they’ll be rebelling against you when choosing their friends rather than using their own judgment.

At the same time, do not hesitate to express your displeasure over the less desirable playmates. Speak calmly and rationally when you explain why you would prefer that your child not spend too much time with them. Let him know the natural consequences if he ends up adopting the unacceptable behavior that you have seen in these other children, while still not absolutely forbidding the friendship. This approach will teach your youngster to think more logically and assume responsibility of his actions, and show that you trust his growing capacity to make the right decisions.

Encourage Self Expression

You want your child to enjoy healthy friendships, but you also want her to have a mind of her own. Teach your child that sometimes friends can disagree, or have different interests, beliefs, or tastes in clothing, music, and hobbies. Encourage her to seek her own path, and give her the confidence to say "no" to a friend whose trying to lead her down the wrong path.

Your child’s preoccupation with people and events outside the family is natural and you should respect her boundaries, but it is imperative to remain actively involved in your child's life. Too often, peers end up filling the vacuum left by parents who are overly critical or largely absent.

So what is a parents role? Stay involved, but remember: You would never want your child to choose your friends, so do not attempt to pick the people your child will associate with.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How To Get Kids Out The Door On Time

School is back in session. The excitement of the first few weeks is over and now you are falling back into old habits of previous years. It seems like there is always something that stops the getting-to-school-on-time momentum cold. It could be you hit the snooze button one too many times and now you are running late. Maybe your son cannot find his backpack or your daughter has changed her outfit ten times. You know all calm has left the house when you’re screeching and threatening “If you’re not out the door in five minutes, no Xbox tonight!”

It is time for a back-to-school morning intervention. Before I mention practical tactics to make your mornings positive, lets understand why it is not a good thing to start every day totally stressed. Studies have found that children who are often tardy have lower GPAs, lower standardized test scores and lower graduation rates. What studies cannot show is the damage that is done to a child’s self esteem when mom is yelling as they leave the house. I guarantee your child will not be performing at his best if your home is a battleground in the mornings.

So lets de-stress your mornings. When your children hear “Hurry up!”, “We’re late!”, “Let’s go!”, they dig their heels in and slow down. It is a natural reaction. Your goal is to be positive and not freak out in the mornings. Preparation begins the night before. Try to get clothes laid out. Plan lunch. Fill backpacks and set them by the door.

If your child has a difficult time waking up in the mornings, instead of walking into their room and barking “get up”, try something different. For younger children, get up 5 minutes earlier and go cuddle with them in bed. It is a delightful and peaceful way to start the morning. When it comes to older children, let your child be self reliant. Most kids will be thrilled to let mom and dad off the nagging track of school on-timeness. Take them to the store and let them pick an alarm that lets them wake up to music. Prepare yourself that there will be late days filled with anxiety. Be there to help, but let them experience it. Eventually, they will figure it out.

Throughout this process, give them positive feed back. Tell them how good they are at getting up on time, or how proud you are of them for preparing their backpack the night before. They will not be perfect everyday, but your goal is to find one thing they are doing right. You no longer need to be the drill sergeant. When you see your child walk out the door with a smile on their face in the mornings, your day will be complete!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Time Out for Families

Time Out

“Slow down and enjoy life. It is not only the
scenery you miss by going to fast...you also
miss the sense of where you are going and
why” Eddie Cantor

The accelerating pace of society is not only hurting our health, it is destroying our families. A balanced life of work and play is necessary to stay in touch with who we are and what our families are about.

When life becomes too busy, it is hard to enjoy anything. As a parent, when you are in a constant rush, it takes away the opportunity to get to know the people around you...your family. You cannot effectively parent if you are always in a hurry accomplishing task after task. It is imperative to put the brakes on and slow down. You must remember that children would much rather have your time than anything else you could possibly offer!

Finding time and slowing down is difficult. It will take some ingenuity on your part. But by realigning your goals and readjusting your priorities, your relationships with your kids (and your health) will improve. Here are some ideas.

Work Less
You may not be able to quit your job, but maybe it is possible to cut back on the number of hours you are working. Quit work at 5 and don’t answer calls or emails.

I realized the importance of slowing down this while attending a little league football game. That particular game day, it was my responsibility to drive the team players to the football game. We were asked to arrive an hour before the game was to begin. It had been a busy day and I was running behind schedule. I was stressed and in a hurry to pick up each boy and get there on time. Once we made to to the field I realized I had forgotten my cell phone and laptop. What was I going to do with my free hour? The field was all the way across town, too great of a distance to run home and grab whatever I needed to keep myself busy. I was frustrated, but there was nothing to do but take a deep breath and relax. I began observing what was going on around me. It was around 5 PM. Many of the opposite team members were from Polynesian families. Entire families were arriving together. They were setting up for an early evening barbeque. They were laughing and talking with their children, thoroughly enjoying themselves. As the parents from our team arrived, they looked stressed. It looked like they had just arrived from work each in their own cars, with their dress shirts buttoned tightly and intense looks on their faces. I watched as they paced the sidelines talking on cell phones, putting it down long enough to holler at their sons. What a difference.

It made me realize what crazy things we do to ourselves. This is no way to live life and no way to be an example to your child!

Kill Distractions
Shut off the television, the phones, the computer. Don’t be the noisy family who cannot stand quiet. Their bodies slumber, but their spirits do not rest. When their hearts cry out for rest, they answer back with entertainment.

There was a conference on children and television at the White House. The Clintons and the Gores were there. All the guests were asked to present a 7-8 minute thought. Mr Rogers was there. In his presentation he asked for a few minutes of silence. When he left the room one of the military guards, dressed in white and gold thanked him. “For the silence and the time. I though about my grandfather’s brother who just before he died gave me his fishing pole. I’ve loved fishing all my life and that silence reminded me of him today.”

Let it Go.
It is impossible to finish every task everyday. We often don’t relax because we are programmed to keep mental checklists. In our own minds, we are not productive unless we are accomplishing the tasks on our lists. Don’t try and be a Super Family. Super families are only as good as their latest report cards or athletic scores. They never miss a lesson or activity. One parent is always absent due to work. The other is always stressed but will make time to get the kids to their multiple activities. They push themselves and their children from one victory to the next. They are a family with much pride, but little joy.

Get rid of the lessons and activities that you can do without. Especially the ones that send you driving across town at rush hour. Make sure your child is participating in activities that he enjoys. As a parent, you should be enjoying your kids. Lay in the grass and watch the clouds float. Fry an egg on the sidewalk when its hot. Discover a four-leaf clover. You are not wasting time, but investing in your relationship. Children are always learning from your example. Reevaluate the values you want your kids to emulate.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Motivating Your Child

Children love life. Every child before self-consciousness sets in, acts spontaneously with total abandon and full involvement. Everything interests them. Have you ever watched a toddler? They whirl until they’re dizzy. Run until they fall. Paint wildly. Sing unconsciously. We all felt like that once. Life realities inevitably intruded. Maybe it was the arrival of another sibling, a bad grade, or friends laughing at us. We became afraid or lost our sense of safety. When we are scared, defensive, threatened or feeling inadequate we loose a bit of this feeling of aliveness. The results... we quit trying new things, our zest for life is tempered and motivation slows.

While it is impossible to shield your child from life’s problems, it is important to provide the safest environment possible. A child’s motivation is sacred and needs to be protected. Parents are the best ones to protect their child’s dreams because they are the ones who understand, love and believe in their children.

Keep as much fear and frustration out of your child’s world as possible. You want them to retain curiosity and have an excitement for learning. You have much to offer your child. No one can encourage and protect your child like you. The support, protection and love you give your child are far more important than the discipline.There will be plenty of disapproving people in your child’s life. Don’t add your name to that list.

What is the best way to go about motivating our children?

Step One: Improve the attitude you portray
Your children should feel the spirits of love, respect, trust and safety when they are near you. They need to know you will protect them, have positive comments for them and will always tell them the truth (gently). If you can keep this type of aura, your children will want to be around you and they will be blessed from your wisdom and good judgment.

Step Two: Introduce New or Creative Activities
Pay attention to your child’s abilities and introduce them to activities you enjoy or think they may enjoy. Teach them new skills like throwing a baseball, cooking, literature, horseback riding, music, video games, tennis, swimming, etc. Do not expect them to be perfect or learn it on their own. They need your help and guidance.

Step Three: Set Your Own Standards of Success
Don’t let others set the standards by which you will succeed. Protect your child from being overwhelmed. When a child is given more than they can handle, they quit trying. It kills motivation. A quick example: In grade school it is common practice for children to be given weekly spelling words. If your child struggles and continually fails the spelling test, work with your child. Don’t let them get discouraged. Figure out how many words she can realistically learn to spell in a week. Talk with her teacher. Adjust the number of words on her test. Let her have the satisfaction of getting 100% on a spelling test. Her motivation will soar. When your child has success, she will push herself and ask for more words.

Step Four: There is not a timeline or creative path that fits everyone.
Each child is unique. We did not all learn to walk at the same time or read at the same time. Let your child progress through life as ready. When your children are allowed to progress on their own timeline, they become excited about learning. Maturity affects motivation. Don’t push your children...let them grow at their own pace.

As unique individuals, none of us will travel down the same path or accomplish our goals in the same way. Help your child, but step back as they begin to discover their direction.

Another example of learning to be open to your child’s motivation: Too often as parents we are told that we must protect our kids from computers.( We all know there is a lot of garbage on the internet) My sons spent many hours playing games, using social media and browsing the internet. It took a lot of trust along with many conversations about the negative influences they would encounter online. Out of fear, I made sure our computers were located in rooms where traffic flowed. I knew I could not stop or control their curiosity and excitement for the technology they were inhaling. I had no idea where this interest would take them. I must admit, it has led to motivation and success in college. The skill and knowledge they obtained in their youth is leading to success in their careers. In fact my son is using social media to promote the new Hobbit movie that is currently in production. Go to: roadtotheshire.com and take a look.

Coming next blog..Have you tapped into your own creativity? It may benefit your child to unblock your own creativity:

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Parenting Through Mistakes

 A mistake is never a mistake if you learn something.  

How many of you actually believe that statement?

I do...especially after I have done something stupid. To take away the guilt, I vow I will never do that again. It becomes a bit more difficult to have a strong belief in that statement when it comes to the nitty gritty of parenting children.

Kids are bound to make many mistakes throughout their lives. That is one of the sureties in life like death and taxes. Making mistakes is one of the best ways children learn. Add in the natural consequence that accompanies the mistake and learning through mistakes probably teaches great lessons that are never forgotten. If you were the child who took a piece of Bubble Yum from the store, put it in your pocket and had mom accompany you back to the store with an apology and money for the manager, you will probably never steal again.

So the next time your child makes a minor faux pas, try to remember that is what he is supposed to be doing...making mistakes and then learning from those mistakes. Step number one in parenting through mistakes is acknowledging that your child is going to make mistakes. As much as we would all like to have children who are mistake free, our children need to learn life lessons and mistake-making it one of the best ways for them to do that. As I was raising my brood, I found it was extremely helpful to watch the mistakes made by other people’s children that were a few years ahead of my children. Not only does this make you feel better about your “special”child, but it prepares you for the possible mistakes your child might make when they reach that age. Acknowledging that your child will make mistakes keeps your child’s development in perspective. It also helps you to be a calm, more patient parent.

The second step in parenting through mistakes is to pre-plan your response to the mistake. None of us as parents want to think that our child will do the same thing as that awful ‘Johnny down the street’, but it is better to have a plan in place than be caught dumbfounded. Talk to other parents. Find out what solutions worked for them. Take a look at the outcome of their kids. If you don’t like what you see, I would suggest you find another parent with another solution. It is important to remember that no one’s kids are perfect and your best ally will be another parent who has struggled with some form of the same issue. Those parents are out there. Search for them.

Your reaction when you discover the mistake makes all the difference. Which leads us into the third step.
Parents often get hung up on the mistake instead of realizing that the way they handle the problem adds to the lesson their chid will learn.

Let me give you a bad example. Lynda witnessed her daughter Julie hitting her friend. Lynda grabbed her daughter, spanked her multiple times while yelling, “Julie, we don’t hit!” What has Lynda taught her child? We do hit in this family. Julie will most likely continue to hit in a variety of forms throughout her life. In the future, she will disguise it so her mother will not witness the attack.

Lets change that negative into a positive. How should Lynda have handled this situation? Lynda should have figured out why Julie was hitting her friend. Together, mother and daughter could have come up with a more appropriate solution.

Here is the good example: Lynda walks up behind Julie putting her arms around her gently and hugging her. This not only calms her daughter but stops the hitting. “Julie, your friend wants to play with your doll. Do you think you can share for a few minutes?” If Julie does not think she can do this, Mom can help her find another toy to share. Or mom can make it a game to time how long each girl gets to play with the doll. It is all about negotiation until both children are happy. The lesson Julie is learning is how to get along with friends. Which will become a great asset in Julie’s future.

In the future, don’t get mad at your children when they make a mistake. It does not show you are a bad parent when a mistake is made. Show them you understand and care enough to help them through it. Let your children make mistakes and learn from them.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How to Help Your Children THrive in a "Mean" World

Unfortunately, the society our children are growing up in is rooted in meanness. Although, this is not a new phenomenon, it does seem to have escalated in recent years. Parents should be concerned when their kids are being mean and also when people are mean to their kids. In today’s world many of the adults and peers your child must deal with use sarcasm, teasing, name-calling or other behaviors that is degrading. Much of this behavior might be considered close to or akin to bullying behavior.

It seems that in today’s society you cannot get away from it. Many of today’s television programs thrive on meanness. Much of the humor on TV these days is mean-spirited stuff; a lot of anger and dysfunction disguised in family sitcoms and reality shows. If kids continually see and hear it, they will mimic it. Television is not the only cause, but it does add to bad behavior.

It is important that your children can distinguish between the positive and the negative. Once they understand and feel the difference, they will strive to fill their lives with positive influences and surround themselves with uplifting people. This knowledge not only helps them through the teenage years, but as adults when dealing with co-workers, bosses, friends and raising children(your grandchildren).

How do you help your child not emulate this edgy behavior?

1. Make sure in your home you do not use sarcasm as a form of humor. Too often the negative behaviors our kids imitate begin in the home. As parents we may not even realize it, but our humor may be mean. Humor is important in our families, but it is important to make sure when we laugh it is at the situation, not making fun of another person. The attitudes and behaviors of our children begin with the parents.
2. Help your child be aware of meanness and where it is coming from. You do not want your child to feel bad about themselves when they are bullied, made fun of or belittled. It happens to everyone at some point in their lives. So help your children understand this meanness is not about them. Rather, it is showing the insecurities about the person who is attacking them.
3. Monitor the programs your child is watching on television. Script writers are taught to create conflict. There is deliberate casting and deliberate provocation because it boosts ratings. Because it makes the show funnier, often this meanness is disguised in nice family sitcoms. Watch programs with your children and point out the meanness. Your child is capable of understanding how a comment or an incident can hurt someone’s feeling, even if it is funny. Help your kids understand what is appropriate and not appropriate behavior.
4. Teach your child to walk away. If someone is treating your child in a negative manner, they need to know it is O.K. to remove themselves from the situation; that includes a friend, a teacher, a coach, a boss...anyone who affects them in a negative way. You want your child to know they are of value and not allow anyone to treat them this way.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Belief Windows

Belief Windows

As I do parenting workshops or work one on one with parents, I have found many parents are struggling to create a peaceful environment in their homes. It seems there is constant bickering between family members and relationships with their children or their spouse are so negative. Often the problem lies within the parent and their Belief Windows. Belief Windows affect the decisions we make and the actions we take with our families.

What are Belief Windows?

You cannot actually see your Belief Window because it’s invisible, but we all have one. It is figuratively attached to your head and hangs in front of your face Every time you move, that window goes with you. You look at the world through it and what you see is filtered back to you through it. Our outlook on the world around us is determined by our belief windows. We begin forming these belief windows from birth. Some of the belief statements are good, some not so good. These windows change as we change and improve.

How do these Belief Windows form?

The Beliefs on our windows:
*Come from previous experience.  Example: As a child you have had a bad experience with a dog, you might believe that all dogs are vicious. 
*Come from what people have taught us when we were young or from cultural messages.  Example: As a child you take candy from the store and parent makes you go back and pay for it.  You learn stealing is bad.
 *General observations of life  Example:  Growing up, you watch as your father always takes out the garbage, you  assume it is a husbands responsibility to take care of garbage

Some of us can barely see out of our belief windows because they are so crowded with
statements of how we believe things should be. The smaller the viewing area through our window, the less willing we will be to test our assumptions and beliefs.

Examples of destructive Family Belief Windows:

*Good moms have a clean house at all times
*Successful children get all “A’s” 
*Children should be reading by the time they start kindergarten
*If we have money, or a big house, or a nice car, we will be a happy family.
*Child should attend a particular college
*Daughter should play tennis/Son should play football
*Children should never talk back to their parents

(Something is wrong is you have too many “shoulds” on your window. Be wary of “should” behaviors)

So, how well can you see out of your belief window?
Is it streaked with lots of untrue, outdated, or damaging belief statements
that limit your options in life?
Or is it clean and easy to see through, framed by tested and true belief
statements that keep your options open?

We can clear our belief windows. 

First, we need to recognize and acknowledge the very existence of these belief statements and that some of them might be wrong and stopping our progression.
Second, look at the results you are getting in life. Are these results bringing you happiness or do they produce pain in your life.
Third, Ask yourself what beliefs might be on your Belief Window that could be changed. Talk to a friend or a professional to get an impartial opinion.
Fourth, Implement a new behavior and evaluate the results. A correct belief on your belief window should bring peace and happiness into your life and your family.

Examples always help:

I recently worked with a young couple with small children. They constantly argued and the children were always fighting. To the husband this seemed to be normal behavior because that is how life was for him growing up in his home. The wife was very unhappy in this environment and uncomfortable with what was going on at home.  This is not how she was raised. She expressed her concerns to a dear friend who assured her that she was right. Her home was dysfunctional and it did not need to be that way. This cute, young mother stressed to her husband that they needed help. She convinced him to go to counseling. Through counseling and group therapy, the psychologist was able to show the husband that his perception of what goes on in a normal family home was not correct. The couple was able to make the necessary changes and is now experiencing a new level of joy at home.

When you come up against a situation or problem within your family. Examine your belief window. I find when parents are open to change, their lives improve!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Moms Need Friends

One of the greatest things about having children is the grandchildren that eventually bless your life. Many of you who read my blog are young mothers and have never had the time to process this joy that is yet to come. While raising my kids,I never even thought about it. I can promise you one thing...it comes fast! Lets even go for two promises in this first paragraph. On your most difficult days as a mom, I can promise you will be rewarded for the effort you have put into your parenting in the form of grandchildren. Oh, the joy grandkids bring! I cannot even describe it. It is one of those things you have to experience.

My daughter Stacie just gave birth to her first baby. I was lucky enough to be invited to see little Ozzie born. At the moment this little guy made its way into this world, I was overwhelmed. Standing on the sidelines as Grandma, assisting with the birth, gave me an entirely new perspective. When I was giving birth, I was the one on the table watching as doctors and nurses scurried around. I know this is crazy, but I sometimes think it is easier to be the one on the table because you have such trust and faith in the doctors. As a mother watching her daughter bring this soul to us, I was a nervous wreck. I pride myself on staying calm. But I was ready to pounce on any doctor who messed it up! It was such a relief to see all the right parts in all the right places. Now it is over, I must thank the medical professionals for paying attention in class during med school and spending all those years honing their craft. They did an excellent job.

Birth is like death. I believe it brings the best out in people. My daughter and her husband live far away from ‘gammy’. As hard as that is on us, my kids are lucky because their friends are there for them. While I was there, these friends took the time to let me know they would be taking care of my kids and this new grandbaby. It is from these thoughtful gestures that I decided I needed to blog about friendships and how as parents we need the help of friends.

Whatever the crisis, we all get by with a little help from our friends. But we may need to lean a little harder on them when we have kids. True friends are hard to come by. We all have a variety of friends that meet our needs at different times and in different ways. When I talk about a true friend, I mean someone who will tell you the truth. Someone who will be there when you are depleted. Someone who knows what you need before you ask. Someone who treats your kids as their own. Believe it or not, there are people out there like this. The key to finding them is to emulate all of these characteristics in yourself.

Here are just a few suggestions:

A Sympathetic Ear:Listen to your friend without judging. Give her your time
and your understanding. Don’t try to solve her problem. Focus
on what your friend is feeling and validate those feelings.

A Helping Hand: Offer to watch her kids. Fill her refrigerator with
goodies.Help with the house. Mow her lawn. Fold the laundry.
Whatever you can see needs to be done...do it.

Offer Emotional Support: Check in with a phone call, an email or a card. Make
play dates with the kids. Go on walks to the park together.
Shop together. Tend each others kids while you take turns at
the gym.

One of the greatest gifts we can give each other is the opportunity to lend a hand. Chances are good that your friend will return the favor to you or someone else down the road. Don’t try to do it alone. Try to help or allow yourself to be helped through friends.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The "D" Word

What is the correct way to discipline your child? Just mentioning the word discipline brings up controversy. Spank or not spank... rigid or relaxed... force or freedom...tough love or abuse; there are many opinions. All families are different. Parents have their own personalities. Children are unique. No family situation will or can be the exact same. So it is difficult to set hard and fast rules about what kinds of discipline will work in your home. Having said that, I must emphasis that there are certain truths about discipline that must not be ignored.

The word discipline comes from the Latin word disciple, which means to teach or to learn. Discipline was never meant to be used as a form of punishment. If your chosen method of discipline does not teach your child how to improve, it is absolutely wrong! Your role as a parent is to nurture your child. Children need time, care and parental involvement in their lives. They need to be allowed to make mistakes and not be punished for making those mistakes. Things can go very wrong if a child doe not receive positive messages when they do something wrong. Don’t call it a failure, call it an education.

Many professionals claim that a lack of strict discipline is the problem with today’s kids. This is simply not true. In fact, just the opposite is true. If your home environment involves overly strict parents with rigid discipline, your kids will at some point rebel, publicly or privately. When parents use a rigid form of discipline, they are parenting out of fear. Why are they fearful? There are multiple reasons:
*Parents are frightened they are losing control of their child.
*Parents are frightened they are losing power over their child:
*Parents are frightened they are not good parents and do not know how to handle a situation.

When you discipline out of fear you eventually use control to discipline. Control is often referred to as tough love. Tough love is a lazy parenting technique that exhibits itself when a parent is tired or not willing to put in the effort to figure out what they need to do to help a child. From personal experience with my own children, when I got tough, they quit trying. Children do not need toughness. They need love, understanding and help.

Anger usually accompanies tough love or control. When a parent uses anger as a form of discipline they believe they are commanding respect from their child, Anger is often used by parents because it gives an immediate response, stopping a child from a particular behavior. Do not fool yourself as a parent. When you use anger in your discipline, there is always damage to your child. A child who is fearful or acts out with violence is a child who has been raised with an angry parent. As an adult you are in charge of your emotions. Calm yourself when you are disciplining your child.

So if control and rigid rules are not the best way to discipline, what is the best way to discipline your child? Ask yourself how you like to be reprimanded. At work, do you learn when a boss or co-worker yells or sets rigid rules when you make a mistake? No. Don’t you learn more when someone communicates with you in a gentle manner? That is the exact way you will have success with your child.

I learn best from examples, so let me give you a positive example. Say your son is playing baseball too close to the house and a ball breaks the window. You may have already asked him to be careful and he probably knows better. If your response is to scream at your son or take away his baseball or ground him, has he learned anything? When you humiliate your child, you have robbed yourself of the opportunity to teach. Your goal with discipline is to help your children learn from their own experiences in a positive manner. Your child has made a mistake. He knows he has made a mistake. The shattering of the glass makes anyone cringe. Begin by helping your child clean up the glass. This gives you an opportunity to do something physically and also gives you time to calm down. This is a great time to gently
talk to your child about the expenses involved with a broken window. Give your child opportunities to earn small amounts of money to replace the window. When a difficult situation is handled with love and understanding instead of punishment and degrading, a great lesson is learned that will stay with your child for the rest of his life.

It is important as parents to learn about the stages of development and recognize that certain undesired behavior may be normal for a child at a given age and maturity level. Such knowledge can help a parent respond lovingly when a child pushes an anger trigger. Practice expressing concerns calmly and with an attitude of respect, without attacking or blaming your child. If you can change your attitudes about discipline from one of punishing to teaching, you will be amazed at the maturity and growth you will witness in your child. Your child will be confident, happy and successful. Isn’t that what we all want as parents? Give it a try!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tiger Moms

Have any of you paid attention to the recent article "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior?" That was the headline of a Wall Street Journal essay excerpted from Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, the new book from Amy Chua. Battle Hymn is a memoir on Chua's experiences as a mother describing a very strict and rigid style of parenting. I must admit as I was raising my kids I wondered how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. It seemed as if there wasn’t a dumb one in the bunch They were all either math whizzes or Suzuki prodigies winning every honor at the high school awards ceremony. After reading this article and doing a bit of research, I feel I need to blog about my findings so none of you are led to believe this might be a better way to raise children.
First, I respect that Chinese parents give everything to their children and also many of their values such as a strong work ethic. I believe all good parents, Western and Eastern believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they're capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no one can ever take away. What I disapprove of are the methods suggested in this article used to make children successful. Amy Chua never allowed her daughters to:
attend a sleepover
have a play date
be in a school play
complain about not being in a school play
watch TV or play computer games
choose their own extracurricular activities
get any grade less than an A
not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama
play any instrument other than the piano or violin
not play the piano or violin.
Western parents might believe they are being strict, they are nowhere close to Chinese mothers. They believe nothing is fun until your good at it. Practicing the piano every day for 30 minutes is what Western parents do. Eastern moms believe 2-3 hours is a must. I could continue with more examples, but this blog would be too long. I have included the link to this article if you would like to read it.

One of the reasons we live in the Western World is for our freedoms. What are we doing as parents if we take those choices away from our children? Sure our kids may not always be number one in their class. They may even fail on occasion. I happen to believe that some of the most important lessons I learned in life came from my failures.

As many of you know from reading ParentFix and this blog, I believe it is important for children to find their passions. They need to learn how to socialize with other kids. I also believe it is important for your child to try a variety of talents, not be dictated too, or forced, even belittled by their parents (calling them “fat” or “lazy”) when they fail. Not every child has the ability to get straight “A’s” . When did getting a “B” become such a bad thing?

I must admit you will find success stories with this kind of parenting. But I believe if we could track the data, there is more negative that comes from too much pressure put upon a child. There is one fact that must not be overlooked. The suicide rates for Asians are much higher, in some areas of the U.S. as much as 50 %.

The reason I chose this topic is because I would ask you to reevaluate your goals as parents. What is more important for your child? A high level of success or happiness?