I know at this time of year the sounds, smells and decorations of Christmas are everywhere. As a parent, there is pressure to make a perfect, magical experience. You want to create lasting memories and give your children the best gifts possible. Sometimes that means a lot of stress on you to get everything done. You may wonder how you can afford to buy all that their hearts’ desires or how you will possibly have enough time to fit everything in.
I want to tell you a secret. Every January, when your children come back to school, they tell me all about the Christmas holidays. I hear about the day that everyone stayed in their pajamas and watched favorite movies. They tell me about walking together in the freezing cold to get something at McDonalds. They remember driving around looking at the best decorated houses and having hot cocoa afterwards.
I hear about the morning that you didn’t have to go to work and how everyone snuggled together in your bed. Or about the days that they stayed at Grandma’s until you came back from work. They tell me about visiting cousins that they haven’t seen for a long time and how they stayed in a hotel with a pool. Sometimes, I hear about how they visited friends on New Year’s Eve and they got to stay awake until midnight. Or how it snowed and everyone had a huge snowball fight!
Usually they mention their presents, but for them Christmas is about you and your love, time, routines and feeling safe. You are their favorite gift!
(adapted from an Instagram post)
by Dr. Charles Fay of Love and Logic Parenting
The “Energy Drain” approach was created to give adults a practical way of creating logical consequences that teach responsibility. Simply stated, the child (or teen) is required to replace energy “drained” from the adult by their misbehavior.
Step 1: Deliver a strong dose of sincere empathy. "This is so sad."
Step 2: Notify the youngster that their misbehavior drained your energy. "Oh sweetie. When you lie to me (or almost any behavior) , it drains energy right out of me."
Step 3: Ask how he or she plans to replace the energy. "How are you planning to put that energy back?"
Step 4: If you hear, “I don’t know,” offer some payback options. "Some kids decide to do some of their mom’s chores? How would that work? Some kids decide to hire and pay for a babysitter—so their parents can go out and relax. How would that work?"
Step 5: If the child completes the chores, thank them and don’t lecture. "Thanks so much! I really appreciate it."
Step 6: If the child refuses or forgets, don’t warn or remind. Remember: ACTIONS SPEAK
LOUDER THAN WORDS!
Step 7: As a last resort, go on strike OR sell a toy to pay for the drain. "What a bummer. I just don’t think I have the energy to take you to Silly Willie’s Fun Park this weekend. OR…What a bummer. You forgot to do those chores. No problem. I sold your Mutant Death Squad action figure to pay for a babysitter tonight."
At this time of year, we are encouraged to think about and express what we are grateful for. Whether it is during a classroom discussion, a sermon on the Sunday before Thanksgiving or around the table before the turkey is carved, we are asked what we are thankful for. Having gratitude is a worthy endeavor. But should it be reserved for only certain times of the year.
All parents want their children to be grateful for their blessings in life. Studies have shown that parents usually focus on what being grateful looks like or what we do to express that gratitude. For example, saying thank you for a gift received or a meal that we prepared. However, in a Raising Grateful Kids project conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, they discovered that gratitude as an experience has four parts:
As we find ways to incorporate it into our daily life, we can model ways to notice, think, feel and express gratitude. It can be a part of our dinner conversations or bedtime routine. You can play the Rose and Thorn game, where each person tells about one rose (a good thing) and one thorn (a challenging thing).
Show appreciation by conveying you paid attention to real effort in your child: "Your room looks so nice with the toys in their bins. I'm so happy that you remembered to put them away!"
Set expectations when shopping by saying, "Today is a 'look' day. Just like going to the museum, we enjoy the beautiful things, but we aren't planning to buy anything today.” And of course, let your children know when it is a ‘buy’ day.
Thank those who serve. Your example of acknowledging those who quietly make a difference in your life, from the bus driver to the person sweeping up the aftermath of a family lunch out, sends a powerful message to your children.
Have them pitch in when they want something. If your kids get an allowance or earn money at a job, have them participate in buying some of the things they want. When kids themselves take the time to save up, they have an ownership stake in the purchase and gain an understanding of the value of a dollar by working toward what they want. It also teaches restraint and encourages kids to appreciate what they have, as well as giving them a more realistic perspective on what you and others do for them.
And be a grateful parent. What an invaluable exercise it is to tell our kids why we're grateful to have them! It goes without saying that we love our kids, and that we're thankful beyond words for their love, their smiles, their hugs and so much more. When we tell them what makes them special to us, their self-esteem is boosted for the right reasons (not because they have the latest smartphone or because they're dressed fashionably). Plus, our example shows them that gratitude extends well beyond material things.
Josh Shipp, author, global youth empowerment expert, speaker and former at-risk foster kid says that every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story. To hear about his own powerful experience with an adult who cared about him and helped him change the course of his life, click here joshshipp.com/oca-lp/. I believe that Josh has some solid advice for parents navigating the often bumpy road of raising healthy, happy children and youth.
As parents, we know one of the challenges that we face in helping our youth navigate healthy boundaries is that of cell phones. The question isn’t really a matter of “if” my child will have a cell phone but “when.” For all of us, the goal is become a well-rounded person who can coexist with technology, not be ruled by it. And of course, as parents, we need to help our kids to this as well.
If you are feeling more than a little freaked out about this, you are not alone. After all, with any smart phone, kids have at their fingertips all that the internet provides including social media, cyberbullying, porn, creepy strangers and more! However, as parents, we cannot let fear rule our decisions.
We need to remember, Josh Shipp says, that our kids are good people who we love and trust most of the time. What we need to do is empower them to make responsible decisions and to help them understand that a cell phone, like all privileges, is a responsibility. He has created a cell phone contract to support parents in having conversations and making guidelines with their youth cell phone use and responsibility.
Josh says, “Self control is like a muscle that can be strengthened and improved. Technology is a great tool to strengthen self-control.” Click here for Josh Shipp’s Teen Cell Phone Contract. joshshipp.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/teenage-cell-phone-agreement.pdf
Are cellphones dangerous to use while driving? Of course, absolutely. Cell phones are also dangerous to use while dining! When you text and drive, the harm is imminent. When you text and dine, the harm is cumulative as it gradually erodes relationships.
Today’s life is busy. For many families, dinner time is the only time of the day when everyone is together. These moments are precious and should be cherished. Yet, instead of connecting with the closest people, right there with us at the dinner table, we often choose to connect with people and events around the world.
When I use a phone at the dinner table, I send those next to me a message, “You are not important. I have more important people to connect with right now. I am not interested in your life. I have nothing to talk to you about.” Most importantly, our children learn from the examples we set. We model conversation skills. Our table manners become theirs.
Technology is a great tool to create connection. However, used at the wrong time and for the wrong purpose, it does the exact opposite--it disconnects us. Used at the dinner table, technology disrupts the flow of family time, becomes a distraction and source of conflict, causing ripples within the loving context of the family. Balancing technology use with our everyday lives is an ongoing struggle for many families, mine included.
If we don’t put a conscious effort into disconnecting from our phones during family meals, the disconnect in our families will grow to the point of no return. We will all become strangers to each other. Here are some solutions that I have tried. What others can you and your family think of to keep the family connected to each other?
Today, almost one-half the world’s population is 25 years old or younger. Ready or not, they will lead our world into the future. Members of Generation Y (Millennials born between 1984-2000) and Generation Z (Centennials born between 2001-2018) are hungry to change the world and as parents, teachers and mentors, we can help them.
Both generations are influenced by less than ideal parenting styles (overparenting, paranoid parenting, permissive parenting, etc.) They also are greatly impacted by the advances in technology: immediate access to world events often difficult to process, availability creating distractions & addictions, loss of real conversations and relationships, instant gratification expectations, and so much more. Simon Sinek, British-American author, motivational speaker and organizational consultant, summarizes how these challenges impact millennials as they enter the workforce in a Ted Talk here tinyurl.com/y7a9txzz
Dr. Tim Elmore, president and found of Growing Leaders, is passionate about understand the emerging generation and helping adults—parents, teachers, coaches—teach them how to become leaders in their families, schools, communities and careers. As an author and speaker, Dr. Elmore shares four proven parenting strategies. You can read the whole article here tinyurl.com/y7jmc2xt
Four Strategies for Parenting Generation Z
By Dr. Tim Elmore, Growing Leaders Ready for Real Life
So, let me suggest some parenting ideas you might use as you lead your kids:
1. Don’t freak out
We need to let our kids take appropriate risks in our “safety first” world. But, when they choose something odd or even crazy, stay calm. Whatever you do—don’t freak out at the seemingly strange decisions teens feel empowered to make today. From tattoos, to piercings, to decisions about friends, to gender fluidity—kids growing up today are living in a very new world. If we don’t react emotionally, but talk to them respectfully, we earn the right to help them think through the long-term implications of their choices. This is our role: wise and steady leadership. Equip them to think long-term; think big-picture, and think high road.
2. Affirm them accurately and specifically
Generation Z kids are privy to the hyperbolic praise Millennials got from parents. Everything was described as “awesome”—even when it really wasn’t. Adult leaders should be thoughtful with their encouragement, praising teens with words that reflect the genuine performance of the teen. They’ll actually believe us if we do. Also, we must affirm “effort”—which is a controllable—instead of what’s uncontrollable. Instead of saying to a female, “You’re gorgeous,” why not say: “I love the strategy you used when you planned your student council campaign. It was spot on.”
3. Be clear about their equations
I discourage having a ton of “rules,” and encourage you to remind kids of life’s “equations.” Equations are simply outcomes for wise or poor behavior: if you do this, that is the benefit; if you do that, this is the consequence. As a result, students begin to learn that life is full of equations. Upon entering adulthood: if you don’t pay your rent, you lose the apartment; if you do pay rent on time, you get to keep it. Such equations will equip Generation Z kids about how the world works. Make the equations clear and be sure to follow up on them.
4. Model consistency
One of the most conspicuously absent elements in our world today is consistency. Nothing seems to be consistent—except inconsistency. Uncertainty is everywhere. Change is happening all the time: couples divorcing; jobs changing; rules are updated; TV shows are terminated…even our Internet connection can be spotty. Parents and teachers must be consistent in their verbal and visual cues. Kids feel secure when consistent leadership is exemplified.
It has been said that the family is the only institution created by God. Ideally, we are meant to learn how to relate to and love each other from the relationships within our family. Love is a gift we give our spouses, children, parents, grandparents and ourselves. Yet, when we look at the world around us, families are facing an overload of challenges—media that makes communicating around the world instantly, wars, terrorism, divorce rates, single parents, homelessness--all impact the nuclear family and how our children view life. It is obvious that many families need help and support in practicing love.
It is important for us as parents to remember that parenting isn't just learning the right techniques, a collection of wise words or the best bag of tricks. We raise responsible and happy children by finding Real Love for ourselves, so we can give our children what they need most. As our children's first teachers, our relationship with our children is key. Regardless of all technological advances, parents will always be the most important source of information and values for their growing children.
The most important role for families is to provide a place where children can feel unconditionally loved and learn how to love others. If our children don’t feel loved, it doesn’t matter what kind of clothes he wears, how well she does academically or what he does on the soccer or swim team.
In order to be happy, a child (actually all of us) must feel loved and learn to love others. Relationships in the family give a wonderful chance to learn how to be loving. Disagreements and quarrels among siblings provide the opportunity for us to guide them in working out differences with respect and love.
I believe that God created us to be an extension of Himself. He intended to dwell among us, to resonate with our minds and hearts and experience all the joys and challenges of physical life and the universe through us. In the relationships in our families, we can partner with God so that He can experience life within and among us.
To gain support and help in creating more Real Love in your family, sign up for the next webinar series starting on Monday, November 5th at 9 pm EST here: Webinars
By Dr. Charles Fay, Love and Logic Parenting, www.loveandlogic.com
Children who’ve spent their first few years of life being entertained by television, exciting toys with batteries, and well-meaning adults lack critical skills for success in school. That’s the bottom line. Children who have spent years playing in the sandbox, coloring with crayons, chasing butterflies, and stomping around in mud puddles have been given a great gift. The skills they develop through these simple yet important activities foster success from preschool through graduate school. That’s the good news.
Unfortunately, too many loving, intelligent, and well-meaning parents have fallen into the trap of believing that “good parents” keep their children entertained and stimulated each and every moment of the day. When they see their children getting “bored,” they quickly intervene with a fun activity or gadget. As a result, their youngsters spend way too much time pushing the buttons on exciting electronic toys, staring at the television, and riding in the car from one activity to another. Sadly, little or no time is left over for running, playing, and being creative.
Children who’ve been constantly entertained grow into adults who are constantly bored.
Love and Logic parents give their kids an advantage in life by understanding that children need plenty of opportunities to find themselves in a rather dull or “boring” situation. Why? Because these situations encourage youngsters to develop and practice creative ways of entertaining themselves… and exploring the vast and exciting frontiers of imagination and creative problem solving.
Where would we be today if Ben Franklin, Albert Einstein or Thomas Edison had grown up believing that it was another’s responsibility to be creative and keep them entertained?
Because they know the importance of creative play and exploration, Love and Logic parents have plenty of “Boredom Training Sessions.” As I wrote our book, Love and Logic Magic: When Kids Leave You Speechless, the “Boredom Training Session” follows these steps:
Step 1: Plan for providing dull periods in your home.
Step 2: Provide plenty of materials and toys that foster creativity.
Step 3: Pray that your child will come to you and say "I'm bored."
Step 4: Place primary responsibility for solving this "boredom problem" on your child.
Step 5: “Notice and describe” when your child is playing independently.
“You built that by yourself?”
“That book looks really interesting.”
“You turned Teddy into a monster.”
“I noticed that you made three pictures.”
You’ll be amazed at how brightly your child’s eyes will shine when you apply this step!
Several thoughts that kept going through my mind as I listened and read the testimonies surrounding the Supreme Court hearings: “Where were the parents in the midst of all these parties?” “How sad that this is the reality for so many teenagers and young adults!”
Neuroscientists tell us that the rational part of the brain isn’t fully developed until 25 years old. Wise parents begin from a young age to offer choices and share control to give opportunities to practice making decisions and living with the consequences. We support our children in gaining a healthy self-concept when we guide them in developing self-efficacy—the belief that my own actions lead to the desired outcomes. To develop their own sense of self-efficacy, they need to do the thinking, planning, hoping, trial-and-error, dreaming and experiencing themselves.
Another key is our response when our child (no matter what age) messes up and makes mistakes. Keeping the connect with our child is the most important thing--loving them mistakes and all. If we respond calmly to problems and mistakes, we keep that connection and allow our child to learn from the natural consequence of fixing the problem. If we respond with anger, the anger becomes the focus instead of the mistake that was made.
Substance abuse doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It is directly related to the parent-child bond of love and good communication. Children, youth and adults use drugs and alcohol to get relief from emptiness and fear. The best insurance against drug and alcohol abuse is a loving and open relationship between parent and child. Our words, our non-verbal cues and our actions need to communicate to our children: You are worthy, you are lovely, you are enough and you have what it takes!
It was a warm summer day and I was getting ready to drive kids to a week-long summer camp. Before loading up the van, we were doing some cleaning—sweeping and mopping the kitchen, loading the dishwasher and vacuuming the living room. After driving the windy road through the Santa Cruz mountains and back, I arrived back home.
Walking through the house to the back deck, my heart sank and I felt sick to my stomach. There was the guinea pig cage which I had moved outside while mopping the floor and had forgotten to move back! In the summer heat, the guinea pigs ran out of water and perished. In disbelief, I cried, yelled and wanted to deny that this was my fault. How could I have been so careless? I wanted to hide my mistake or go back and redo this but of course, this was impossible.
I was reminded about this incident while preparing for one of my webinars on “Real Love in Parenting” by Greg Baer. Mr. Baer says that being inadequately prepared for the job of parenting, we unavoidably make many mistakes. Most of us do not do anything as drastic as my guinea pig example but we often respond in unloving ways. We get angry at other people—including our kids—not because of what they do in any given moment but because of a lack of Real Love we have received and experienced for our whole lives. As parents, we can learn how to give and receive unconditional love and improve the quality of our relationships.
• are in the beginning stages of family life with young children and feeling overwhelmed
• have a relatively happy family and want to find ways to improve what you are doing
• are in the middle of painful challenges with a son or daughter
• want to support your adult children raise your grandchildren
you can find principles and tools to help you raise responsible, loving and happy children as well as find more Real Love for yourself. Check out my next webinar Webinars or the parent coaching tab on my website Parent Coaching.