November 2008

a pay it forward of...

Author: Mary Frances

I decided that today’s blog will be a pay it forward of some of the best tidbit parenting advise I had either been told, read or witnessed. So here it goes:

Never ask a kid why unless you want to hear a lie. When a child makes a mistake and we ask them why did you do that? Expect to hear some made up answer or expect to hear that they don’t know why they did it. Kids make mistakes (we all do) and instead of waiting to hear an answer that they think you want to hear – just get to the point. Tell them that their behavior was wrong and do not do it again.

Take the word “IF” out of your statements. It leaves the door open for them to make the wrong choice. For instance, If you push your sister then you will not have dessert. Instead say, When you push your sister then there will be no dessert for you.

Follow through on your punishments. When your kid still chooses to push his sister then you must follow through with no dessert. Otherwise, your words mean nothing. Kids are really smart and they know if you mean what you say.

When talking to a young child squat down to their level and look them in the eye. Your message and their message will be heard.

When you drive through the car pool line or pick them up from a friends house, turn off your cell phone and actually talk to them. Make them feel special. As parents we are suppose to be their safe place to fall.

When your kid does something good ask them if they are proud of themselves. Teach them to seek approval from themselves. I will ask my kids, “Wow! That is great! Aren’t you proud of yourself”? They will start to learn that feeling of being proud of something they accomplished not the feeling of seeking someone else’s approval.

Periodically write your kids notes. My dad travelled a lot in his job. And every once in a while a letter or post card would arrive addressed to one kid. He would tell us about something he saw or ask about how we did on that test or competition. The letters are things I still have and phone calls are so easily forgotten. In my kids lunch I have drawn with a permanent marker on their snack bag either a drawing, a letter, a shape when they were in preschool and as they have learned to read I have written knock knock jokes or words of praise. When I do not pack their lunch or I forget they tell me about it after school. It is the little stuff that goes a long way.

Read to your kids, even when they get old enough to read to you. I know a group of ladies that have a book club with their adolescent daughters. I think that is so cool. And what a great way to keep your daughters talking to you.

Ask yourself when the last time you played a board game with your kids? When was the last time your actually rode bikes or played soccer in the yard or drew a picture? If it seems like a long time then break out the playing cards and teach them a game you played as a kid.

Give your kids a heads up time line. This will eliminate a lot of power struggles. It is bedtime and they are playing with their toys, or watching TV or playing on the computer. Instead of just saying it is time to go to bed show them a little of respect and say, Hey bedtime is in 10 minutes. When I come back I need you to have your teeth brushed, and PJs on. Do it quickly and you can probably still have 8 more minutes of TV, computer, etc. Then walk away. When you come back follow through with what you asked. If they have not done it already then there should be a consequence. Just an FYI…it has always worked for me. I give them an instruction and a time line and walk away. I do not nag and wait for them to do it. I walk away and when I return they have done it. I guess if I am there then I will hear the whining but if I am not they have no one to complain to.

Say I love you. Everyone likes to hear it. When you say it, touch their shoulder and look them in the eye. It is very simple and VERY powerful.

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