Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mean What You Say

This is another classic rule of parenting from my friend Marsha Lima that will greatly help with the behavior of your child.

Mean what you say

This sounds simple enough.
Until you actually start to pay attention to what you are saying, and whether or not you are acutally doing it.

When I first started paying attention to what I was saying, I noticed that I would constantly change my mind.
If Cannon would continually ask me for apple juice instead of water, I would finally give in - because it didn't seem worth it over something so tirivial.

In reality, all it taught him was that if he bugs me long enough, he'll get what he wants eventually.

Another common example would be false threats.
Something like: "if you don't finish your dinner you are going straight to bed".
Or "stop acting like that or we are going home" (my personal favorite).
How often do they NOT finish their dinner and end up NOT going to bed,
or continue to act out but dont have to go home?

Take the time to show your kids that you are serious.
Another example: letting your child simply ignore you.
One of the best things that Marsha has taught me is that
your words need to mean something.

If you are talking to your child, jokingly/lovinlgly/seriously; do it with purpose.

If they ignore you; even if they simply don't hear you, it is important to get their attention, say it again, and of course - mean what you say.

Letting your child ignore you, subconsciously or not, starts the process of them being able to "block you out".

Which of course brings up another good point: your actions have to match your words.
This is a hard one for me, and I would assume a lot of parents by what I've observed.
It is much easier to keep repeating: "don't touch that", over and over again, louder and louder, until your child finally graps the concept.

Instead, mean what you say; rather than repeating it (which again teaches them to block you out), physically help them to do whatever it is you are saying.
Marsha says that this is so hard for parents, because it requires them to actually move.  Start paying attention... you'll find that she is dead on.

Realistically, why is it so important to mean what you say?
Every time you say something to your child, then end up changing your mind, you give them the impression that they have the ability to alter what happens.
This can easily explain tantrums, tears, and everything in between.

Another important thing you might notice is that you aren't really thinking before you respond.
There have been so many times that Cannon has asked me for something, and I will instinctively anwer "no" or "yes", without thinking.
I will then notice that it is 5 o'clock, almost time for dinner, and I just agreed to give him a snack.
Does this happen to anybody else?
It is not fair to your kids that they have to suffer because of your mistakes.
Thinking first about what I am about to say is something I am constantly trying to work on.
All in all, for me, this rule of behavior has been extremely helpful in getting my kids to obey.
Obviously I am still a work in progress, but the more I start to actively mean what I say, the more my kids realize that that's the way it is.

Which of course can work both ways.
Don't think of this only as a disciplinary rule.
When I tell Cannon to do something, I make sure that he know's that I mean it.
However, when I tell my kids that I love them, I try and make them understand that I really do.

Hopefully someone out there can make sense of my madness... I am obviously not as good at explaining as I want to be.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Community Singing and Story Time

There are a group of wonderful mommy's in my community and once a week we get together for singing / story time with all of our kiddo's.

Mom's can sign up to either host, bring a snack, or read stories.
This past week it was at my house.

The kids always have a fun time, and it is good for the mom's to be able to catch up as well.

Each week the person who hosts picks the music activity.
Here are some that we've done in the past:

Putting scraps of paper on the wall with songs written on the back - each child gets a turn to pick the next song.

Introducing instruments: one of my neighbors plays the violin, so she talked about all of the different parts on her violin and accompanied us while we sang.  She even sent the kids home with a paper violin for them to cut out and "practice" with themselves.

Those that have musical toys or mini instruments pass them out to the kids so they can practice playing, as well as setting the beat to different songs.

Other ideas were introducing the kids to rounds, patterns and beats.

Each week it is a little bit different, but we always follow the same pattern.
We sing songs for the first half hour or so,
Then we set out blankets for the kids to sit on.
They get to have snacks while someone reads to them.
After that, they play with whatever toys are available at the hosts' house.

Here is a list of some of the songs that we sing:

  • ABC Nursery Rhymes
  • Baby Fish
  • Beehive
  • Bingo
  • Book of Mormon Stories
  • Bringing Home My Baby Bumblebee
  • Days of the Week
  • Do Your Ears Hang Low
  • Fire Truck
  • Five Little Ducks
  • Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
  • Hinges
  • I Had a Little Turtle (Tiny Tim)
  • If You're Happy and You Know It
  • Itsy-Bitsy Spider
  • London Bridges
  • My Horse and Buggy
  • Old McDonald had a Farm
  • Poly Put the Kettle On
  • Popcorn Popping
  • Ring Around the Rosies
  • Row Row Row Your Boat
  • Speckled Frogs
  • Suzie has a hat (Introduction song)
  • The Grand Old Duke of York
  • Three Little Monkeys
  • Thumbkin
  • To Market To Market
  • Two Little Blackbirds
  • Wake Up Me
  • When Dogs Wake Up in the Morning
  • Will You Stand Up (the welcome song)
  • Wise Man and Foolish Man
This has been a huge help for my kids personally on many levels, especially with social skills.
Even if you don't have a group of mom's that want to participate, music is a fun way to play and interact with your kids by yourself.
The more we sing and read at home, the more they want to do it!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Asking vs. Telling

This is a simple principle that can make a world of difference...
and it's all about presentation.

The way you present things to your child determines how they are going to react.
In each situation you are either asking them to do something, or telling them.

It is really important that you get it right the first time, and don't switch between the two.

* Rule #1: If you don't care, ask
Anytime you ask your child to do something, you are giving them the option to say 'no'
For example: "Do you want to wear your coat?"

* Rule #2: If you do care, tell
If 'no' isn't an option, don't ask.
For example: "Please put your coat on."

* Rule #3: Respect their answer
If you give your child the option, and they tell you 'no', don't make them do it.
You would simply be punishing them for your inability to present something correctly.
Giving them the option, then taking it away, is completely disrepectful to your child.
Say the correct thing from the beginning, and mean what you say.

* Rule #4: Don't abuse your privileges
Treat your child with respect.
Don't turn them into your personal slave by not providing options just to get them to do everything and anything you want.

Ask them to do things that aren't required: "Can you throw this away for me?"
If they do it, thank and congratulate them for being a big helper.
If they say no, respect their answer.  Don't hold it above their head and act disappointed.

Tell them to do things that are required: "You need to brush your teeth now."
Remember to say thank you.

I hope you find a way to incorporate these principles into your parenting.  It has made a huge difference for me personally, and I have definitely seen the improvement in my kids behavior.

Personally, I have notced a HUGE difference in Cannon's reaction when using these rules.
When he first started saying no when I asked him to do things, I think he felt unsure of himself - not knowing if I was going to be upset or not.
I tried to respond with a care-free attitude, saying something like "okay, I'll do it".

Since he has discovered that he actually has a choice, he is much more willing to help out.
Most of the time he will literally thank me for handing him Lincolns dirty diaper after he agrees to throw it away.
I believe strongly that giving your child respect makes their confidence grow, and I have found that to work wonders when using this simple rule.

Happy Parenting!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Playdough Cookies

Do your kids love playdough?
How about helping you out in the kitchen?
If so they are sure to love this activity.

Playdough Cookies

This is an easy sugar cookie recipe that is dyed to make it look like playdough.
Perfect for the little cooks that live at your place...
You can find the recipe here.

Start by rolling the dough into small balls (be sure to make them all the same size).

Then take one ball of each color,

and squish them together.

Then roll it out (like a snake),

and then wind it up like a lollipop
(good fine motor exercise as well).

Poke a sucker stick in there, bake it, and you're done!

Super easy...
...great results

Saturday, April 3, 2010

General Conference Children's Activities

I realize that this post is ridiculously late,
but I figured all of you procrastinators out there (like me) might find it useful.

This weekend is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
(A semi-annual occurance, where our church leaders give counsel and advice, to say the least).

So... for all of you LDS mommy's out there (and to those non-LDS who might find it influential), here is a link to some children's activities to keep them entertained during the next 3 sessions.

You can access children's activities here,
or you can find some really good youth activities (as well as so many other wonderful things) here at  Sugardoodle.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Respond to the First Positive Communication

Have you ever seen those kids that just walk up to their parent and slap them to get their attention?
Has your kid ever done that to you?
Or maybe they just continue to say your name over and over and over again?
Pretty annoying, right?
Now, did you ever think that the child is doing that because the parent trained them to?

Think of it from a childs perspective.
They walk up to a parent and say "mom"
Mom says: "just a second".
They come back with a louder "MOM".
Mom says "hold on please".
The child continues saying 'mom'.
Maybe he starts shaking his mothers arm or leg.
He keeps getting louder and more obnoxious in his guestures.
(Is this sounding familiar?)

And finally, mom responds:

As a kid, you recognize that the only way to really get mom's attention is to poke, prod, yell and throw a tantrum.
Eventually mom will respond.
The problem: mom is responding to a negative form of communication.

The objective:
 Respond to the First Positive Communication,
so your child doesn't have to resort to negative.

Look and listen for signs of communication, especially in younger children.
Some examples of communication:
- Your child is looking at you, waiting for a reaction
- Your child is whining or crying, but using words (crying out mommy, etc.)  This is a lot different than simply screaming/crying.
- Child slaps, hits or yells to get your attention.

If you take the time to respond to the first possitive communication, you are teaching your child that that is the appropriate way to interact.
Which means it is equally important not to respond to negative signs of communication, becuase that is teaching your child the exact opposite.

The argument might be that mom did respond.
But again, thinking from a kid's perspective, "just a second" and "hold on please" don't mean anything.
Unless your child has a firm understanding of time, with the knowledge of what 'waiting/patience' means, along with the ability to actually do it, you aren't getting through.

I am also not saying that those phrases should never be used.
Mom's need alone time too, and can't just give their undivided attention whenever their children want.
The point is, you have to actually teach your child what you want them to do.
You have to teach them how to wait, which will probably be difficult.

Or, you can teach them about time:
The concept of time is hard for kids to wrap their minds around, so you must find a way to make time tangible (try using a timer).
You can easily teach a child that when the timer 'beeps', mommy can help you.
Start with 30 seconds (that is still a long time for a child to sit still).
Eventually you will be able to work your way up to longer periods of time.

Timers also help keep you honest.  Because realistically, most of the time "just a minute" turns out to be much much longer than that.