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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Disciplining with Love

Disciplining with love sounds good, right? But it's so very hard in the frustration of the moment! How can it be done? Here are a few ideas.

1. Set clear expectations. If you expect your child to obey the first time he's asked, then set a consequence if he doesn't. If your expectation is that he comply by the time you count to three, set your consequence based on that standard. Whatever your expectation, make sure he knows and understands it before an infraction occurs and let him know the consequence. Be consistent in whatever you establish.
2. Make the consequence fit the crime. If Jr.doesn't pick up his toy when you ask, the toy gets put away where he can't play with it. It ties the infraction to the consequence. It tells the child, "You can't play with the toy if you won't put it away." Tell him when he can have it back and stick to it, regardless of whining or complaining. Did he hit his friend? He must apologize and may not continue playing if he won't be kind. Did he talk back to you? A time out may be necessary until he is ready to say he's sorry. Be matter of fact when you explain these things to him. No need for anger. These are simply the rules and you must follow them.
3. Don't raise your voice. Children will listen better and feel more respected (and therefore more likely to respect you back) if you stay calm and have a conversation with them. If they've disobeyed you, sit them down and tell them how you feel. Explain why you need them to do what you asked. Tell him you need his help by obeying. Remind him your family is a team and you all need to work together. He's an important part of the team.
4. Don't shame. When you correct your child, don't shame him. Instead, encourage him. Tell him what he did wrong. Assure him you understand he's still learning and wants to do what's right. Give him the opportunity to make a better choice. Help him figure out what options he could do next time.
5. Always hug your child after disciplining him. This shows him you love him even when he's less than perfect. Remind him we all make mistakes and the main thing is to try not to keep doing the same wrong things over again.Tell hiim there's nothing he could ever do to make you stop loving him. This gives him a firm foundation of love so he doesn't have to act out so often.
6. Apologize. No matter how good your parenting skills, you will always have moments where you "lose it." Give yourself some grace. God does! Remind yourself that you're still a good parent even when you make mistakes. We all do the best we can at that moment in time. Above all, go to your child and tell him you're sorry for getting angry. It models humility and doing what's right even when it's hard. When you apologize, you let your child know it's okay to be less than perfect and lets him be more honest around you.

If your child is simply unmanageable, you may need to get family counseling. There could be deeper issues that require professional help. Don't be afraid or embarrassed to seek it out.

How do you discipline in love? Do you believe in spanking? What alternatives are there to it?


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Always Assume the Best

Imagine that while you're unloading the dishwasher, your child goes through the kitchen and opens every cabinet door and drawer he can reach. 

You have no idea what he's doing, but it's a little annoying. All those open doors make it hard to move around in the kitchen and you keep running into them. You can react in one of two ways. Tell him to please close the doors because you're trying to put away the dishes and the open doors are in your way. Or thank him for his help in opening all those doors for you so you don't have to as you unload the dishes. Though it may be a bit more inconvenient, I suggest the latter response.

Any time you can put a positive spin on something your child is doing, as long as he's not deliberately doing something wrong, then do it. When in doubt, always assume your child was trying to be helpful or kind or good. It will help him see himself in a better light and he'll try to keep doing things to please you. 
Or how about if your child pulls out every DVD on the shelf, opens each one and lays them all on the floor? What a mess! But what an awesome opportunity to thank him for his help in matching all the DVDs to their correct cases as you work together to pick them up. It becomes a fun matching game instead of a battle of wills to clean them all up.

There's an interesting by-product of assuming the best about your child. It affects the way you see him, too. 

It is so easy to notice the things a child does wrong. After a while, it's hard to see what he does right. But if you make a habit of seeing the good things he does, pretty soon, the wrong he does fades into the woodwork. The whole parenting world seems a little less hopeless and daunting. You find delight in raising this amazing child! 

So train your eyes to put a positive spin on your child's behavior. He'll be happier and so will you.

Have you tried this? What effect did it have on you and/or your child?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

5 Ways Raise a Good Kid

I recently saw this poster on Facebook and it really struck a chord with me.

Why? Because I was so often guilty of it when I was raising my kids. I'm on my last child now, and she's already sixteen. I've done most of the child rearing that I'll need to do. And guess what? She's a really good kid!

Here are some things I wish I'd remembered more when I was in the thick of raising my kids:

1. Reflect to your children who you want them to be, not necessarily who they are right now. If you want them to be kind, tell them what a kind person they are. Helpful? Praise their helpfulness, even if they initially complain about helping. If you see a germ of a positive character trait in them, tell them they're so good at being that way. They'll eventually start seeing themselves as you do and living up to your expectations. You're holding up a mirror for them to see themselves as the best person they can possibly be.

2. Give them purpose. I was terrible at this. I was a mom who didn't like making my kids do much in the way of housework or any other work, really. I figured they're only young once and they'd get their share of adult responsibilities soon enough. The only problem with that is it deprives them of a sense of purpose. Kids need to be given chores so they feel useful and valued. By helping out, they feel a part of the family team. It also helps them prepare for adulthood, so they  can enter it confidently, with the skills they need to succeed.

3. Teach them to serve. Contrary to what your kids may think, it's not all about them. They need to learn to think of others as much or more than themselves. Point out others who are in need and ask them what they think could be done to help them. Then help them take action and do it. Soon, they'll be able to make this association on their own without your prompting. Let them make cookies to take to an elderly neighbor or make cards to encourage someone who's sick or lonely. Have them do someone else's chores just to surprise them. Talk with them about the great feeling serving others brings.

4. Give them something to believe in. Kids learn very quickly that people aren't perfect and will unintentionally disappoint them. Believing in a Supreme Being is both a huge comfort and an anchor in their lives. How wonderful to know that when humans let them down, there is a God who can always be counted on and is completely trustworthy, even in the worst situations. Studies show that when children are raised in some sort of spiritual upbringing, their faith grounds them in a way nothing else does.In rating kids' happiness,  spirituality weighed in more heavily than temperament and it lessened specific health related issues. You can read more specifics about one such study here.

5. Teach them to laugh at themselves. How? By laughing at yourself. Children often learn their sense of humor from those around them. They also learn coping mechanisms by observing others. So when you're in an embarrassing situation or one that is awkward or uncomfortable, laugh it off. Show your kids how to lighten up, not take themselves so seriously. It immediately takes off a lot of pressure and tension and often diffuses difficult circumstances.

Obviously, there aren't any sure-fire ways to guarantee your child turns out happy, responsible, successful--in a word, great. But doing these five things as consistently as possible will get them (and you!) off to a good start.

What other tips can you give for raising great kids? Share them with the rest of us in the comments below.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Preparing Your Child for Their First Day of School

In most places, a new school year is about to begin. If you're sending a child off to school for the first time, here are a few tips for getting him ready, physically, emotionally, and spiritually for that big day. 

  • Make sure your child has a say in what he wears. It's important he feels comfortable and confident. 
  • Serve him a healthy breakfast with plenty of protein.
  • Get him to bed early the night before so he's well rested.
  • Buy school supplies such as backpack, lunch box, pencils, etc. the week before. That way he won't have to wait too long to use them and he’ll knows he’s prepared for school, which provides him peace of mind.
  • Meet your child's teacher and visit the classroom ahead of time if possible to help reduce fear of the unknown.
  • Talk only in positive terms about her going to school, even if you feel sad about sending her. 
  • Acknowledge your child's fear if she says she's nervous about going. Assure her it's normal to be nervous about new things. Give her something tangible to take with her as a token of your love. Some parents kiss a handkerchief or the palm of their child's hand  and tell her she has one of their kisses with her if she needs it. Others have given a small rock for her to stick in her pocket to remind her that God is her rock and her strength. 
  • Build your child up throughout the week before she starts school. When you see her being responsible, helpful, smart, funny, or a good friend, mention it and use it as an example of how she’s so ready for school. This will increase her confidence level.
  • Pray with your child about starting school and choosing good friends in the days leading up to that first day. Then pray together before you leave the house that first morning, and if possible, every morning. Be sure to thank God for how smart and ready your child is, as well as asking Him to help her have a great day and school year.
  • Encourage your child to find someone in his class that seems to need a friend and try to play with him or her or eat lunch together. Start early to grow a heart of compassion in him, keeping his eyes off himself and on others and their needs.
  • Remind your student that God will be with him at school and that he can pray silently by just thinking his prayers and God will still be able to hear him. Tell him you'll pray for him from home or work, too.
  • Talk to your child about choosing good friends that will help him stay out of trouble and living like God would want him to.
Sending your little one off to school that first day can be an emotional time. But with proper preparation, you can rest assured you've done all you can to guarantee his success. After that first day is behind him, celebrate with a special dinner or an ice cream treat. He did it! And so did you.

How are you (or did you) preparing your child for their first day of school?