Category: Parenting

My Parenting Resolution – a Hazard Free Child’s Bedroom

Maybe it was slipping on the piles of drawing paper left by the dresser, or maybe it was the puncture wound from stepping on the tail of a miniature airplane; as I hobbled over to my son’s clothes basket, I resolve that this year my child is keeping his room clean! I’m not unreasonable; he is seven, obsessed with cars, planes, and drawing. I don’t expect eat-off-the-floor clean. I just want a room clean enough that, in case of an emergency, a firefighter won’t break his/her leg and add to the casualty count.

I’ve been lax until now. Being a single mom, going to college full-time, and dealing with an autistic, hyperactive child at times strained my patience to the breaking point. A clean bedroom wasn’t as important as studying, doing homework, or avoiding my son’s frequent meltdowns that could last an hour, leaving both my son and I emotionally exhausted.

Looking at my son’s room, I realize it isn’t going to be as bad as I feared. He groups his toys. Cars are separated from planes, monster trucks from his trains. I just need a place for everything off the floor. I have a plan.

A visit to second hand stores is in order. A multi-shelf entertainment center will be perfect for the airplanes and the hundreds of cars he owns. My son likes to line up his toys and he likes to decorate; I can already see his cars filling the shelves in neat rows, like a car dealership’s lot.

A will hold his books. The only one he “reads” right now is a coffee table book that has all the airplanes ever made in it. He has worn this one to tatters. The rest of the books are “work”, which is how he refers to anything that resembles school assignments.

A plastic container will be perfect for his drawings and paper. I go through them occasionally, weeding out the “masterpieces” from the average. He is a prolific artist, and can go through half a tablet of drawing paper at a sitting. A smaller plastic container, slid inside, will keep all his pens, markers, and pencils neat and easily at hand.

The clothes basket has to go. A hamper is more visually appealing, and, unlike a basket, will keep it from becoming a repository of cast-off toys.

I’m not going to sweat the bed. My son likes to sleep with his favorite toy, which at this time is a two foot aircraft carrier. Better on the bed then on the floor!

The only thing left is to schedule the cleaning time. My son is a visual learner, and a clock with hands helps him transition from one activity to another. I will schedule a quick “cleanup time” from 7:00 to 7:30 p.m. This will emphasize play time is over and bedtime is coming.

Wish me luck! It is time to get this party started.

My Parenting Resolution for 2020 is Academic Accountability

Each January, I announce to my children that we are having a meeting. All four of them file into the dining room and slink into a chair, some eyes are rolling, some are whimpering and whining on the way to their seats, in anticipation. The oldest with his extra years of wisdom has the mentality of "let's just listen and get it over with". It is the annual event of "what needs to change because it made me crazy last year" family meeting.

This year's theme is Academic Accountability. I would love to change my children's habits of leaving dishes where they don't belong or brushing the dog more. ( I could go on and on) But you don't want to overwhelm them with too many changes, because kids are pretty set in their ways and if you try to change everything you have been doing for years, it's all going to be ineffective and you will have even more chaos in your house than you did before.Changes need to be made slowly and only a few at a time. I have learned that I tend to be overambitious in my changes, hoping that I will go from a messy house, kids screaming at each other, dog barking to my children coming home to milk and cookies and elevator music on throughout our sparkling clean house. But after 15 years of parenting, I have given up on that idea and I will almost settle for just getting my youngest son to stop peeing on the toilet seat despite the fact that I have told him 4 million times how to avoid this. I would indeed be thrilled with that change!

This year's major parenting resolution for me is to better help my children achieve the best grades they can. When I say that, I am not holding them to getting straight A's, which I know each of them can do, but I am for the most part asking for A's and B's. This past fall, I had 3 of my children begin a very big school transition, one went into first grade, one went into middle school, and my oldest began his first year in high school. Each of them ending up with report cards that could have been a whole lot better, and were much worse than the year before, which I anticipated slightly with the big change of a new school and a new system. This is not to say that I have not already been checking their grades and monitoring their school and homework, but I need to do a better job at it and stop allowing them to skate by in some ways.

I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mother who can devote the time needed to this, because this is not as easy as some may think. Between my 4 kids, they have 16 teachers. Each teacher has their own website, or blog or something they want me to check, usually daily or weekly. I also have one child with ADHD so a structured plan is helpful for him. A great tool my school district provides is a website that my middle school and high school students are able to check on their assignments and grades. This enables me to monitor their weekly progress, test scores, missing assignments, due dates, upcoming tests etc. This is an invaluable tool that I need to utilize more for their best interest. I noticed that my children's major problem was missing assignments. My children are very smart, my two oldest are each taking one honors course this year, but they fail to understand the consequences of not turning in an assignment in and what it can do to their grades. They often say things like "it's just 10 points". Yet at the end of the grading period they have missed 7 assignments for 10 points, they are now down 70 points. One of my children does extremely well on tests, but fails to turn in notes or writing assignments. I explained to him that he got a 90 percent on a test that he worked hard on, but wasted it basically because he was missing a 100 point essay!

Therefore, I vow to be more effective in my parenting methods as far as being their academic supporter and advocate for the year. I will do a better job of making sure everyone sits down to do their homework after school and not putting it off until "later" or after dinner because in my house this is code for "it's never going to happen". I will implement a new system in my house that makes them understand that their education and schooling is our number one priority. Which means that if they show a missing assignment on the website, they have no privileges until it is turned in. No video or computer games, no cell phones or texting friends, no free time on weekends until it is completed and I have seen it. I will no longer fall for the line, "yeah I did it, I'll turn it in next week". My children already are not allowed to play video or computer games on school nights because they need to focus on their homework and cleaning up after themselves and taking care of their pet. When video games are allowed on school nights, there is always fighting and crying to share games in a short amount of time and they rush through homework I have found. So when the weekend comes they are starved for screen time, so weekend game time is pretty important to them. We are a family who loves our games so I think this will work as long as my husband and I keep it up. I will also be making sure that each and every one of my kids reads every school night before bed for at least 20 minutes up to 30 minutes for the older ones. Even though I model this behavior by reading several books a week and my kids are all exceptional readers, I don't think they read often enough anymore now that they are older.

Our Parenting Resolution for 2020 is " Academic Accountability".
1. No missing assignments or homework not turned in on time or no privileges until it is completed & turned in!
2. They must study for all upcoming tests. (Even if they know everything already, which is what they will say)
3. Everyone must read Monday-Thursday Nights for 20-30 minutes before they go to bed and keep track with a reading log. (Which are needed for school for almost all kids)
4. They are to do their very best work, no more sloppy writing to finish quickly.
5. They are to be responsible for their work, keeping track of their books, backpacks, library books, checking assignments, knowing when their homework is due and bringing home the required items needed to do their homework or projects. If not they will have one weekend day of privileges and screen time taken away.

It is my parenting resolution but also a resolution for each child as well. It is showing them that they need to be accountable for their education. It will teach them that missing assignments are unacceptable even one time. It is hard enough to get an A turning in all your assignments, because no one is perfect. I hope they learn that they need to be accountable for their stuff and their lives and responsibilities and that they can count on me to support them and guide them, but I won't be enabling them and doing things for them or making excuses for them why they didn't have time to get things done on time. I will make their education my number one priority in hopes that they follow my lead and make it their number one priority for the rest of their school years. When they go on to college, these habits will be beneficial to their academic success and survival. When they have careers they will understand that not completing all your work or slacking off is unacceptable and it negates any hard work you did on other tasks. You need to be consistent in your work or whatever you do in life because you are just making things harder on yourself by selling yourself short. I encourage my children to not only learn as much as they can in school, but to dream big and be something in this life that will help others or change the world. I hope that one day my hard work and sacrifices pay off for them which will be a reward beyond measure and that I will eventually have a clean toilet seat!

Turning Negative Parenting into Positive Parenting

Since we are not handed a magical how-to-book when we bring our children home from the hospital, all we really have to go by is what we were taught in our childhood homes. I believe my parents did a lot more right than wrong, but there were a few things I believe I have improved upon.

Yelling. My mom was a yeller. My brother, sister and I loved to fling the couch pillows all over the living room floor. Squeals of laughter tended to soon turn into yelling at each other, as we tried to navigate the 'bridge' over the hot lave. Mom would enter the room calm. At first, she would tell us to quite down and clean up. In typical kid fashion, we ignored her. To gain our attention she began to yell at us and eventually we were sent to our rooms, while she cleaned up.

Getting down to their eye level and speaking clearly. The hot lava game is a favorite with my kids as well and sometimes the kids get out of control. I come into the room same as my mom, but I walk over to the kids and get down on my knees. I look directly at them and firmly tell them what my expectations are and what the consequence to not listening will be. This may take a time or two, but I never lose my cool and they clean up their mess.

You are grounded. Growing up we were grounded from television, to our rooms, to our yard-you name it and we've been grounded from it. My parents would ground us for a week or more at a time. We were usually ungrounded within a day, because we knew if we whined enough they would give in.

Mean what you say. As a mom, I get the immediate result I can get from uttering the words, 'you are grounded.' The truth is, we knew we could press our mom until she would cave. I believe grounding is a good tool, but how I changed it up is with realistic time frames. If I warn my six year old he will be grounded from his Wii for the rest of the night, I know I can follow through. He learns mom means what she says, so next time I might say two days and he believes me.

Parenting Strategies: Making Sure Our Son Behaves in Public

After a long week at work, my wife and I love going out on Friday and Saturday nights to enjoy some time together. We always bring our son with us so we can spend that time together as a family. It gets very hard to relax, though, when things go wrong in the restaurant. We often see kids misbehaving. While we understand that young kids will act up in public, it bothers us to see their parents allow it. We will not allow our son to act up at home, let alone in public.

Recent outing

In mid-September 2012, we decided to enjoy a Friday night out. We went to a new sports grille that just opened in our neighborhood. We got there early, so it was not yet crowded. We had a chance to look around and see the game room. We sat near the game room thinking we might play a few games after we eat. We changed our minds quickly when two families came in together. The kids ran straight for the game room, and the parents all sat down and began to drink.

Kids misbehaving

We knew to expect noise in a sports grille but not the kind of noise we heard. The kids kept running right past us back and forth to their tables and screaming as loudly as they could. We could hear their screams just as well from the game room. I finally got tired of the noise, so I went in to see what they were doing. Two boys were sword fighting with the pool cues, and the other two were wrestling for the pile of quarters on the table.

Parents doing nothing

I tried to let the parents know about their kids, but they ignored me and went about their business. No other adults seemed to care, either. The adult in the game room with the kids kept reading his newspaper. At least by this point, we had finished our meal and were ready to leave, so I decided not to push the issue any further. I had tried.

Make sure our son behaves

We would never allow our son to misbehave in any way. We go to restaurants to relax and enjoy ourselves. We respect those around us enough to keep our son quiet. We engage him in our conversations and do not use the game rooms as dumping grounds and ignore their behavior. I will usually go to the game room with him and play together. We do allow him to talk too loudly or run through the aisles. If he does, we remind him that other people do not want to hear it. Continued misbehavior brings penalties. We have no trouble correcting him in public and then discussing matters with him at home.

Compliments received

One night when I was very young, my mother took my five brothers and me out to eat. A lady complimented her on how well we behaved even without our father there. We knew to behave or Mom would discipline us right then; we would then get to talk with Dad when he got home. My wife and I expect the same behavior from our own son, and we have received similar compliments. We enjoy hearing them, and we have given them to other parents as well. However, we teach our son to behave not to hear the raves but to show respect for people around him who want to relax after working all week – just as we do. Even he agrees that parents need to make sure their kids behave in public.

Grandma Gives Three Old Fashioned Parenting Rules a Fail

Not all old fashioned parenting rules work. Some get a fail from this Grandma. Either they don't make sense in the modern world or they never made sense at all. Some rules might not fit your personal parenting style. Others are just plain cruel. Parenting is not a dictatorship. It's about raising kids who are mentally and physically sound. Just because your parents or grandparents subscribed to these three rules, doesn't mean they'll work for you.

  1.  My way or the highway. This policy is a great way to drive your kids right out of the house. That might sound good if they're teenagers. Problem is, you might drive them out before they're prepared to be on their own. Giving kids the tools they need to survive in the adult world means letting them make occasional bad choices. That's how they learn. (Just like you did.) Remember that? So give advice, but unless they're making dangerous choices, let them give their ideas a test run.
  2.  Don't speak unless you're spoken to. Where do I begin? Do you want to raise kids who are complete social misfits? These days, socialization is a ladder to success. How will your kids learn to socialize if you don't let them speak their minds? How will they ever think for themselves if you're always lording it over them? Your right to free speech is important. Theirs is no less important. We all have an opinion. Don't teach kids to be afraid of theirs.
  3.  Spare the rod and spoil the child. In a sense, I agree with this statement. I just think the meaning of the rod was misinterpreted. Shepherds used rods to guide their sheep, not to pound on them. After all, a dead sheep produces no wool. In the same respect, a bruised and battered child has no hope for their future. Stop keeping your child down by beating them into submission. Work to build them up. Use the rod and staff to guide them through life. It's a rocky road. They need someone they can trust to lead the way. They don't need someone who pummels them for every wrong move.

On a personal note:

I was raised by two of these rules. My parents had good intentions, but they parented just as their parents did. I don't blame my parents, I blame the rules they were taught. Yes, I came out alright. It did, however, take me a considerable amount of time to conquer a couple of issues.

*I went through a period where I had trouble making good decisions. Could it be that's because I never was allowed to practice? Once I gained the privilege of deciding my path in life, I had no sense of direction. There was nobody to tell me what to do. I'd never been allowed independent thought. Luckily, I've found my way. Unfortunately, it wasn't without a lot of unnecessary stumbling.

*As a young adult, I had a truly difficult time speaking my mind without considering who I was speaking to. Why is that so bad? Well, shouldn't your opinion be the same, no matter who you're addressing? To this day, I have a hard time in social situations. I never really had any conversational practice as a child. I'm taking the social falls now that I should have taken then, as practice for adult life.

There is some merit in these old fashioned parenting rules. They sound great on the surface. If you delve deeper, though, you'll find there are many flaws. Do you want your kids to fear you or respect you? There is a huge difference. To gain respect, you must first give it. That old fashioned rule is a keeper.

Using Positive Parenting to Combat Behavioral Issues

Your child comes home from school in a mood (again) and everything you say or do seems to set her off on a tirade. There could be underlying issues. But most likely she is just going through a phase. I've authored a book on positive parenting and use the technique in parenting my own kids. In my experience, positive parenting helps combat behavioral issues more effectively than negative discipline techniques, such as spanking or yelling. In some instances, kids may need professional help. However, these tips are geared toward children with common behavior-related issues. If your child is having extreme behavioral symptoms or has been diagnosed with a mental or behavioral condition, it is best to consult a professional.

What is positive parenting?

Positive parenting is a method that involves a strong relationship between the parent and child. This involves active, constant, and consistent communication and teamwork. Because this style of parenting often does not use punitive discipline, it requires a great deal of patience and creativity on the parent's part. The goal of positive parenting should be to teach children how to solve problems through compromise and kindness rather than through anger and hurt.

How can positive parenting combat misbehavior?

Many times when children have behavioral issues, it is related to lack of understanding or attention. Consistently using positive parenting methods can help parents to be more in tune with their kids. This helps avoid issues where no one understands each other. It also can create a strong bond, which helps fight frustration from lack of attention.

1.Your kids are individuals with their own ideas. Treat them like a part of your team. This is very important to remember in establishing a line of communication. Kids are people too. They might be smaller than you, but they still have their own thoughts and opinions that should be considered. Work together with your kids, instead of commanding them to do things. If they can see that their opinions matter, there isn't much reason for misbehavior. Most kids have a natural desire to please their parents. When they aren't allowed to express their feelings, frustrations can build up. Listen to your kids and use their ideas wherever possible.

2.Let kids make mistakes. Yes, it can be hard to stand by and watch your kids mess up. But that's how they will learn. It's fine to offer guidance. But ultimately, unless your kids are in danger or hurting someone else, many decisions should be theirs. Making too many decisions for them can lead to negative behaviors, such as aggression and rebellion. This positive parenting technique is not going to be easy while in the process. But the benefits can last a lifetime. As parents, we want to jump in and save our kids from every little issue. However, they also need room to grow. People learn things by experience and mistakes make excellent lessons.

3.Talk and listen often. Keeping an open line of communication is important for several reasons. As mentioned above, it lets your kids know you care. But it also helps them feel comfortable enough to come to you when there is an issue. If they know you will listen, there is no reason for negative behaviors, such as screaming and temper tantrums. Talk to them about your childhood experiences and listen to theirs. Sometimes you'll need to just listen and not say anything and other times you can give your advice.

4.Follow your child's cues. Kids need a great deal of attention. But they also need space. Know when it's time to back off for a bit and when extra attention is warranted. Giving extra attention when your child needs it is not spoiling him. It's showing compassion. On the same token, when you need to walk away, it is not neglect. It's giving your child freedom to think or play or whatever is needed at that time. Paying attention to your child will clue you in on what do to do at the right time. Memorize facial expressions and other actions that may be a lead-in to certain behavior. Figure out how to redirect them before they get out of hand.

Note: The author's positive parenting method has evolved into what she calls Upstream Parenting. 

Raising Daughters: My Three Biggest Parenting SurprisesChallenges

As I have mentioned in the past, I am the father of two beautiful girls (ages 9 and 4). And, I would not trade them for anything in the world. However, there are days when being their dad can be challenging and even somewhat frustrating.

One of the biggest reasons for this is the fact I was pretty much unprepared for some of the challenges that have popped up, both because I grew up in a family of boys and because, while the issues themselves weren't completely unexpected, they happened much sooner than my wife and I thought they would. In fact, I was caught completely by surprised by three of those challenges.

First, the hormones kick in much sooner than expected. Even my wife was caught off guard by our oldest daughter's mood swings which, as we later learned, were related to her approaching her pre-teen years. One moment, she loves us. The next moment she hates us. And, I won't even go into the subject of boys. While this is something we knew would come eventually, we weren't expecting it for at least a couple more years.

Second, body image becomes important early on. Our oldest daughter (who we think needs to eat more) has already been inquiring about calories and how many she can eat without becoming fat. And both girls are already trying to steal their mother's makeup. This, of course, has led to plenty of conversations about how beautiful they already are and the dangers of starving themselves. Again, we knew this would likely happen one day. But, again, we also weren't expecting this to happen until they were teenagers.

Last, it's really hard to find positive role models. This probably would be the case if we were raising boys too. But, this is something we have struggled with a bit. Our oldest daughter, for example, used to love Miley Cyrus and now we can't even let her watch one of her concerts. We've had similar experiences with other celebrities. Yes, they have other positive people, like teachers, their mom, the older girls they ice skate with, etc. But, both of my daughters are at an age where celebrities are much more interesting.

As I said before, I wouldn't trade my daughters for anything and, even if I had known I would have to face these challenges, would have still chosen to be a dad. However, had I known some of these things ahead of time, I think I also would have been better prepared.

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