It is said that the sign of great parenting is not the child's behavior but the behavior of the parents. Parenting isn't a practice but a daily learning experience. I am passionate about helping parents on this journey.
Manners Matter: Four Easy Ways to Teach Kids How to Behave
By Dr. Charles Fay
In all parts of their lives, children with great manners have a powerful advantage over those who do not. They make friends easier, get along better with their teachers, and eventually make much better employees and spouses. Here are four techniques that will give your child this life-long gift:
Tip No. 1: Make a list.
Sit down with your kids and make a list of the specific behaviors polite people display. Have fun with this activity. Your written list might look something like:
• Say “please” and “thank you”
• Eat with their mouths closed
• Burp in the privacy of their own rooms
• Say “excuse me”
• Hold doors open for people
Tip No. 2: Model these manners.
Children learn much more from our actions than from our words.
Tip No. 3: Provide kids what they want only when they use manners.
When parents use Love and Logic, they don’t waste their breath lecturing about good manners. Instead, they very politely refuse to provide what their kids want unless they hear a sweet “please” or “thank you” and see the other behaviors on their “manner list.”
For this to work, parents must respond to requests with polite sadness instead of anger or sarcasm. For example, a parent might say in a sad tone of voice, “This is
such a bummer. We can’t go to the movies today because you need more practice with manners first.” A parent who sets this limit, avoids anger or sarcasm, and holds firm by staying home will see a very upset child in the short-term and a much happier, more responsible one in the long-term.
Tip No. 4: Expect them to repay you for any embarrassment they cause.
If your child continues to be rude, he or she may need to repay you for the embarrassment or inconvenience created. With genuine empathy and sadness, a parent might say, “How sad! Your rudeness at Aunt Mary’s house really drained the energy out of me. I’ve been too tired to clean the bathrooms. When you get them done, I’m sure I’ll feel a whole lot better.”
If the child refuses or forgets to do the chore, wise parents don’t lecture or threaten. Instead, they quietly allow their child to “pay” for their bad manners with one of their favorite toys.
Thousands of parents have transformed manner monsters into polite kids who are a pleasure to be around. At one Love and Logic seminar, a parent commented, “When I used these tips, my boys almost immediately started to shape up. They even warned one of their rather rude friends who was visiting: ‘Better stop burping... Our mom’s gonna make you do chores.’”
Give these Love and Logic tips a try, and see how much fun parenting can be!
Dr. Brene Brown--professor, author, and speaker said after sixteen years of research, “I am sure of one thing: Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives…Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard and valued: when they can give and receive without judgement.”
Intuitively, we already sense what we need in order to feel emotionally fulfilled and happy. We see evidences of it in the unifying theme of most literature, movies, magazines, and even our commercial advertisements. More than anything else, what we all need is love, relationship and connection.
Scientific studies have demonstrated that from early childhood our brains are molded by love and connection. Without it, infants literally die, even though their basic needs are met. Later in life, those lacking connection experience higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, dementia, depression, accidents, addictions and suicide.
As parents, our connection and relationship with our children are the building blocks for their future relationships. Connection is key! Children learn how to interact with others by watching and relating with us. Plus, strong family connection supports more cooperation and harmony in the home.
This can be a lot of pressure for parents juggling work, school, family, and competing with extra-curricular activities and all media devices. The best approach is being intentional about making opportunities for connection. Experts recommend scheduling family time: conversations over device-free dinners, one-on-one time with each child even if it is running errands or walking the dog, family meetings once a week, establishing family traditions and weekend outings. For more ideas to get you started, click here: www.aha-now.com/creating-family-connections/
Control is a basic human need. All of us fight to gain power and feel in control of our lives. Most parents first experience this power struggle with their child around two years old. From this young age, children begin to establish their own individuality, recognizing themselves as separate from their parents and the world around them. Although this is a necessary process of learning to make decisions for themselves and exert their own will and authority, these can be trying times for us parents. Often a battle of wills begins that lasts throughout childhood and the teen years.
Parents can turn these difficult times into opportunities for growth. Instead of viewing children’s willful behavior as “bad” and reacting in a way that overpowers the child, we can view this as a healthy positive sign of our child’s development and find ways to empower him.
One way to do this is to offer choices instead of making statements or giving commands. Every choice you give becomes a “deposit” into your child’s sense of healthy control. Even when the choices seem small or a bit silly, they can be very powerful. The more choices parents give, the more chance of having cooperative kids.
Some basic guidelines are:
For example, instead of asking your two-year-old if they are ready for a nap, ask, "Do you want to walk to your bed or do you want me to carry you?" If your 18-month-old is resisting a diaper change, ask, “Do you want me to change it on the floor or on the bed?” When it is time to leave the park or a friend’s house, don’t simply say that it is time to go. Prior to your desired departure time, ask your child if she would like to leave now or in 10 minutes.
Sharing control through choices can be effective with older children as well. Some examples of choices include: “Would you like to wear your coat or carry it?” “Are you going to clean the garage or mow the lawn this week?” “Will you have these chores done tomorrow or do you need an extra day to finish them?” “Are you two going to stop bickering or do you want to pay me for having to listen to you?”
Control is like love. The more we give away, the more we get back. Choices gives the child plenty of practice at thinking and solving problems. To discover more about how to apply this in your family, check out my upcoming webinars: Webinars
In families, parents are tasked with the responsibility to lead. If we want our children to learn self-control, respect, responsibility and love, we need to model it in our daily lives. Greg Baer in “Real Love in Parenting” says “Our children can’t achieve those qualities…until they feel more loved, and that is our responsibility, which requires that we find Real Love for ourselves and then share it with them. It all starts with a desire to change ourselves.”
Kids’ greatest sense of security comes from the confidence that the people that they love the most—their parents and family—love each other. It has been said that the family is the school of love, the place where loving relationships are meant to be learned. Through our examples as parents, we can teach and show that happiness comes from being loving. We also model accepting and loving other people that we interact with and talk about—employers, co-workers, store clerks, neighbors, friends, relatives and other drivers on the road.
The way that children learn to be responsible is the same way they learn to play an instrument or ride a bike--practice. Give them plenty of practice and opportunities. We model through our actions but also, we can think out loud saying things like: “I feel so much better when I keep my desk neat and organized.” “This task is difficult, but I know I can finish it.” It is important for children to know that we sometimes have to work hard at tasks that we don’t like.
We can teach our children respect, self-control and so many other qualities through our relationships and daily interactions. The entire goal of life is to be happy, a feeling of profound peace that does not come and go with changing circumstances. Real happiness comes from feeling loved and from loving other people, and that feeling stays with us through struggle and hardship.
As parents, we are responsible for loving our children and teaching them to love others. All of us are doing the best we can but we need the support and love of others to become more loving ourselves. I invite you to check out my upcoming webinars to find out more about Real Love. Webinars
By sharing the thinking with our children, we provide them the opportunity to grapple with the consequences of their choices. When our child misbehaves or makes mistakes, we can hand the problem back to her by asking, “How are you going to solve this?” Giving a child some guidance and allowing him to struggle to find a solution builds responsibility and self-esteem. For the child, having the satisfaction of saying, “I did it!” is key.
Thinking is just like any other skill—it takes practice. The key is asking lots of questions instead of telling your child what to do. Questions cause children to think, commands cause them to resist. Wise parents choose thinking over resistance any day.
The five-step process from Love and Logic Parenting listed below clearly hands the problem back to the child and gives the message that he is capable. With this tool, parents can look forward to the poor choices of their children as learning opportunities. After all, the road to responsibility and wisdom is paved with many “affordable” mistakes!
Guiding Children to Solve Their Own Problems—Love and Logic Parenting
Step One: Empathy.
“I bet that hurts.”
Step Two: Send the “Power Message.”
“What do you think you’re going to do?”
Step Three: Offer choices.
“Would you like to hear what other kids have tried?”
At this point, offer a variety of choices that range from bad to good. It’s usually best to start out with the poor choices. Each time a choice is offered, go on to step four, forcing the child to state the consequence in his/her own words. This means that you will be going back and forth
between Love and Logic steps three and four.
Step Four: Have the child state the consequences.
“And how will that work?”
Step Five: Give permission for the child to solve the problem or not.
“Good luck. I hope it works out.”
Have no fear. If the child is fortunate enough to make a poor
choice, he/she may have a double learning lesson.
Imagine that you are an athlete and as your trainer, I’m concerned that you might overexert or injure yourself during training. Each time you show up for a practice session, I do all the exercises and routines. I spare you a lot of sweat and pain, but when it is time for you to perform in a competition, you will discover that you are not prepared. In fact, I have crippled you.
Our children need to gain their own experience, wisdom, strength and confidence through making their own choices. If we make their decisions for them and rescue them when they make mistakes, they will not learn the important skills needed for their future. Of course, as parents we need to be available to encourage, support, guide and challenge our children as they develop these skills. Let’s think for a moment about different parenting styles.
Love and Logic Parenting describes three basic parenting styles. The helicopter parent hovers, protects and rescues his/her child from any kind of harm. In doing this, such parents don’t allow their child to fail or make mistakes. Helicopter parents steal the learning opportunities in the name of love.
Drill sergeant parents bark orders and expect blind obedience. They can be heard saying, “Do it or else.” This style of parenting often uses punishment as a consequence. Punishment breeds resentment and keeps children from pausing for self-examination of their mistakes. Drill sergeants are great in a battle but difficult as a parenting model.
Consultant parents allow their child to experience the natural consequences of their choices. By asking guiding questions and offering suggestions, they help the child find a solution and own the problem. Instead of telling them what to do, consultant parents help establish time frames and guidelines within which to work, allowing the child to be responsible. Children who grow in responsibility also grow in self-esteem, a prerequisite for achievement and happiness in the real world. Consultant parents have discovered that it is key to model the kinds of characteristics that they want their children to inherit.
God gave each of us considerable freedom and that includes making mistakes. Failure and success are two sides of the same coin. The older the child gets, the bigger the decisions become and the graver the consequences of those decisions. It is wise to allow our children to make many mistakes when they are young and the consequences are “affordable.” As painful as it is to stand by and allow our children to learn through the natural consequences of their choices, this is the price that we must pay in raising responsible children who grow into amazing young adults.
To learn more about becoming a consultant parent with your children, visit my website and check out the upcoming webinars Blog and Young Parent Coaching Group Young Parents' Coaching Group
As we begin 2019, I would like to offer a series of article about gifts that we can give our children. For some of these gifts, you will see immediate evidence in your relationship with your child. For other gifts, the impact may not show up until far into the future.
Empathy opens our children’s mind to learning. When we emphasize with the challenge or mistake that our child is facing, we create a supportive connection. Sincere empathy expressing our sadness and sorrow works wonders. It allows the parent to remain the “good guy” and the poor choice the child made to be the “bad guy.”
If we respond to our child’s mistakes with anger, lectures, warnings or sarcasm, it creates a fight-or-flight response. There are two parts to the human brain: frontal cortex where thinking, reasoning and impulse-control happen and the brain stem which is responsible for our basic survival and the “fight-or-flight” response.
When we deliver consequences with anger, children’s brains go into “survival” mode rather than “learning” mode. “Fight or flight” response exists in all of us and is a basic part of our survival. Children in flight mode are thinking more about how to escape or maybe how to get revenge. Anger backfires every time and short-circuits learning.
Therefore, responding with empathy prevents fight or flight and allows children to learn from their mistakes. The child has a harder time blaming their parent for the problem and is forced to look inside to learn from the consequence of his poor choice. When we use empathy, we allow our child’s reasoning brain to turn on. It promotes the development of a healthy voice or conscience that can ask, “How will this decision impact my life? Which choice is wiser?”
As parents, we can give our child the gift of empathy by turning mistakes or misbehaviors into a learning opportunity. By giving a strong dose of sadness or empathy before delivering a consequence, we allow our child to gain wisdom from the consequence instead of having a meltdown of anger, frustration or resentment. Empathy maintains lifelong loving relationships.
To learn more about how to apply empathy and other gifts to the relationships with your children, visit my website and checkout the upcoming webinars Webinars and Young Parent Coaching Group Young Parents' Coaching Group .
Recently I heard the heartbeat of my unborn granddaughter! Separated by several thousand miles from her parents, this miracle came to us in a text.
Michael and I are eagerly anticipating the birth of our first grandchild. We first heard the news last Mother’s Day when our son visited us on a business trip. Joined by his wife on the phone, we unscrambled letter tiles to discover the exciting news: “You are grandparents.”
I was fortunate to know and spend time with all four of my grandparents. However, we lived across the country from them and visits were special but infrequent. With my grandchildren, I want to be a more integral part of their lives.
Our world today has changed in so many ways from my youth. Today’s grandparents live longer and are younger, healthier and more involved than ever before. As a result, we can see a greater number of three- and four-generation families.
As grandparents, we can enjoy an expanded role with our grandkids. We can reconnect with the joys of discovery and play and give our most valuable gift--time. In the words of Rudy Giuliani, “What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.”
There is a certain magic surrounding the belief in Santa Claus for young children. And we can feel a twinge of sadness when they get old enough to question if he is real or declare that they no longer believe in Santa. I would like to share a couple of ways that other parents have come up with helping their children to retain the heart of giving as they mature.
Son: Dad, I think I’m old enough to know now—is there a Santa Claus?
Dad: (Stalling to figure out an answer) Ok, I agree that you’re old enough. But before I tell you, I have a question for you. The truth is a dangerous gift. Once you know something, you can’t unknow it. Are you sure that you want to know?
Son: (After a brief pause) Yes, I want to know.
Dad: Ok, I”ll tell you. Yes, there IS a Santa Claus.”
Dad: Yes, really but he’s not an old man with a beard in a red suit. That’s just want we tell kids. You see, kids are too young to understand the truth Santa Claus until they are as old as you are. The truth is that Santa Claus isn’t a person, it is an idea. Think of all of the presents Santa gave you over the years. I actually bought those myself. I watched you open them. And did it bother me that you didn’t thank me? Of course not. In fact it gave me the greatest joy. You see, Santa Claus is the idea of giving for the sake of giving, without thinking of thanks or acknowledgement. When I saw that woman collapse in the grocery store last week and call for help, I knew that she’d never know that it was me who called the ambulance. I was being Santa Claus when I did that.
Dad: So now that you know, you are part of it. You have to be Santa Claus also. It means that you can never tell a young child the secret and you can help us select Santa presents for your younger siblings. Most importantly, you have to look for opportunities to help people all year, not just at Christmas. Got it?
Son: Yeah, I think so. Thanks, Dad.
Anonymous-adapted from an internet posting
In our family, we have a special way of transitioning the kids from receiving from Santa, to becoming a Santa. This way, the Santa construct is not a lie that gets discovered, but an unfolding series of good deeds and Christmas spirit. When they are 6 or 7, whenever you see that dawning suspicion that Santa may not be a material being, that means the child is ready.
I take them out "for coffee" at the local wherever. We get a booth, order our drinks, and the following pronouncement is made: You sure have grown an awful lot this year. Not only are you taller, but I can see that your heart has grown, too. (Point out 2-3 examples of empathetic behavior, consideration of people's feelings, good deeds etc, the kid has done in the past year.) In fact, your heart has grown so much that I think you are ready to become a Santa Claus.
You probably have noticed that most of the Santas you see are people dressed up like him. Some of your friends might have even told you that there is no Santa. A lot of children think that, because they aren't ready to BE a Santa yet, but YOU ARE. Tell me the best things about Santa. What does Santa get for all of his trouble? (Lead the kid from "cookies" to the good feeling of having done something for someone else.) Well, now YOU are ready to do your first job as a Santa!"
Make sure you maintain the proper conspiratorial tone. We then have the child choose someone they know--a neighbor, usually. The child's mission is to secretly, deviously, find out something that the person needs, and then provide it, wrap it, deliver it--and never reveal to the target where it came from. Being a Santa isn't about getting credit, you see. It's unselfish giving.
My oldest chose the "witch lady" on the corner. She really was horrible--had a fence around the house and would never let the kids go in and get a stray ball or Frisbee. She'd yell at them to play quieter, etc--a real pill. He noticed when we drove to school that she came out every morning to get her paper in bare feet, so he decided she needed slippers. So then he had to go spy and decide how big her feet were. He hid in the bushes one Saturday, and decided she was a medium. We went to Kmart and bought warm slippers. He wrapped them up, and tagged it "Merry Christmas from Santa."
After dinner one evening, he slipped down to her house, and slid the package under her driveway gate. The next morning, we watched her waddle out to get the paper, pick up the present, and go inside. My son was all excited, and couldn't wait to see what would happen next. The next morning, as we drove off, there she was, out getting her paper--wearing the slippers. He was ecstatic. I had to remind him that NO ONE could ever know what he did, or he wouldn't be a Santa.
Over the years, he chose a good number of targets, always coming up with a unique present just for them. One year, he polished up his bike, put a new seat on it, and gave it to one of our friend's daughters. These people were and are very poor. We did ask the dad if it was ok. The look on her face, when she saw the bike on the patio with a big bow on it, was almost as good as the look on my son's face.
When it came time for Son #2 to join the ranks, my oldest came along, and helped with the induction speech. They are both excellent gifters, by the way, and never felt that they had been lied to--because they were let in on the Secret of Being a Santa.
Shared by Lesley Rush in an internet posting
This year as I unpacked ornaments and decorations, I was flooded with many memories of Christmases past. The ones that stand out the most are not the presents I received but the experiences that we had together as a family.
As a child, I remember the annual outing to get a live tree from a family friend in Oregon. He planted and sold trees on his land and he generously offered our family the opportunity to cut our own tree for free from one of the second-growths that sprouted up from the stump.
One year, my three siblings and I accompanied my dad on a damp Saturday morning. As my dad tells the story, finding a suitable tree and sawing it down was not the biggest challenge. As we made our way back to the car along the muddy path, my brother Eric who was three, was having a difficult time keeping up. My dad, pulling the tree with one hand, grabbed my brother around the middle and lifted him up. Unfortunately, his boots remained stuck in the mud. For me, the highlight of the adventure was the retelling of the story to my mother back at home—how my dad had gotten all of us, the tree and even the boots safely back to the car.
Although we lived across the country from both sets of grandparents, we were able to spend some Christmases together with them. I remember the opportunities to spend time talking with them, the annual jigsaw puzzles, getting reacquainted with cousins, and eating the cookies and special Christmas treats.
One Christmas, we were in Plevna, Indiana with my paternal grandfather. My grandmother had been gone for several years and I am sure that it was a source of great happiness to have several of his children and their families spend the holidays together. On Christmas Eve, all of us cousins decided to bundle up and go caroling in the small town. I remember having a feeling of joy sharing carols with my grandfather’s neighbors who we had never met before. My dad reminded me that this was special because it was the last Christmas that my grandfather alive. I am glad that I helped to make it memorable.
The Christmas with my own children that stands out is the one we spent in Puerto Rico. The trip was to celebrate my parents’ sixty wedding anniversary which was in June. But December was when everyone was available. Renting a small villa with separate rooms for each family, we cooked meals in the outdoor kitchen and enjoyed the sounds of the tree frogs and tropical birds. We had our Christmas meal on a rooftop patio enjoying an incredible sunset. My Christmas wish that year was fulfilled as my children had the opportunity to spend time with and reconnect to their grandparents as young adults.
What memories will you be creating this holiday season?