Archive for August, 2010

“Why?”

August 31, 2010

How many times have you heard the question ‘Why?’ from your children?  Have you ever become impatient upon hearing this question time after time?  Have you ever resorted to your parent’s response to you when you used this one word question:  “Why?’ and your parent, in exasperation said, “Because I said so!”?  Why do you suppose you hear that question so often from young children – well, the answer is simple and your response is important!  The answer is ‘. . because they are young children . . ‘; and your response turns this into a battle or a chance to teach your child.   They don’t have the experience necessary to be able to reason.  So, they are going to need to take advantage of what you’ve learned – and that’s why we answer the question, “Why?”.

So, you’re tired, things have not gone well today, and your child has not cleaned up a mess that was made this morning!  “You have to clean it up!” you tell this little one of yours, and the answer is a question: “Why?” You’re running late this morning, and things have not gone smoothly in preparation for the day!  You remind your child:  “You have to brush your teeth?”  Why?” The child has promised to care for the kitten that you didn’t want to bring home anyway, and you remind him/her:  “You have to clean that litter box!” “Why?”

Do you need more examples? “Why, why, why? All the time, “Why? And, you’re running out of patience!  Can you hear those words coming up?  “Because I said so!”

What could we do in these situations?  This is a perfect time to teach your child some valuable lessons for his/her future behavior.  Can you take a deep breath and see some positive answer for that question which will be helpful to this young person as he/she grows through adolescence and into adulthood?  You can be the most influential person in the life of your child when you commit yourself to providing answers to this question that will help the child to learn about this world we share with many others.  From experts we learn how to answer these questions so that you can exert a positive influence rather than threatening the child or posing ultimatums!  A couple of guidelines for you to consider as you provide information to your child in a positive way:

  1. Be a kid again and give a Kid’s answer to that question.  Tell the child how behaviors will affect them.
  2. Keep your answer short and to the point!
  3. Remember that ‘Repetition is not a bad thing!’  Sometimes we need to tell adults more than one time.

Now, it’s practice time for you!  Talk with someone you love and trust as you go over what you might say to the ‘Why?’ in considering: -the mess that needs to be picked up, -brushing your teeth, -the care of the kitten.  Getting together with other parents who are facing the same frustrating situations will allow you to share ideas and to gather ideas for providing information to your children.  You can do this!

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Growing with your child – One Step!

August 27, 2010

Getting everything in place!  On Tuesday I discussed some things we all need to attend to as our children start their new school year!  Today, I’ll begin a process of change that each and every one of us can use!  It all starts here:  “You know how to eat an elephant, don’t you?  One bite at a time!”  Like so many changes we need to put into our lives, we approach this new school year in the same way – one small step at a time in turning this year into the best year ever for your son or daughter and for you!

So, today you decide that one thing you ARE going to do this year is take time to be with – REALLY WITH – your child!  Very often our children do not ask for days or hours or even many minutes.  You will be surprised at how much you can accomplish with your child in just ten minutes each school day!  Set a time, go to a comfortable place and give ten minutes to each child alone!  (You will likely discover that sometimes both of you will become immersed enough in talking that you’ll forget about the time – this is wonderful!!)  A healthy snack might be in order, too!

So, that’s your first little step toward many positive outcomes – a child develops a feeling the he/she is important enough to command your attention discussing positive, growth oriented things!  As much as possible, let the child take the ‘lead’ in your discussion!  You can ask a couple of leading questions:  “What happened in school today?”  or “Did something happen that you’ll be remembering for a long time?” or “Is there something that happened today for which you’d like to have a ‘do over’?  You get the idea!  Then, listen, listen, listen with your ears and your eyes and your heart!  Give your child the idea that he/she can handle whatever happened and make it even better tomorrow!

Now, you’ve taken your first ‘bite’,  you’ve taken that first little step in helping your child grow into an independent, confident, fun-loving adolescent and eventually a successful adult!  You can do this!

Friends!

August 24, 2010

Friend: A person with whom we share a mutual affection or close relationship.  As our children start school for this year 2010-2011, they will have a chance to cultivate new friendships.  For many kids, their friends came from other children in the neighborhood, or the children of our parents’ friends.  Now, a whole new world opens, and our children will have a chance to work with and relate to people with whom they may spend the rest of their lives.  My wife still maintains close friendships with many who were in her school experiences!

So, what do we need to consider in working with our kids as they find new relationships with kids far from where we live and kids who are not the same as our own children?  And, with the popularity of new technologies, our children can communicate with people they really don’t know from far-away places.  I’ll start the conversation here, and as you read and things occur to you, perhaps you might share your ideas with me and I’ll work to include them in this space.

First of all:  Get to know your children’s friends.  As mature adults who want to both support and protect our children, we want to position ourselves to guide our children in their choices without driving them into the arms of potentially harmful people!  Invite your children to bring friends home so that both you and your children can see them in a familiar environment.  Together you can discuss the characteristics each of you wants to depend upon in close relationships and this can lead to parents sharing with their kids some characteristics they would like them to cultivate.  Two lesson we can impart with assurance that they have merit are these:  1) You are what your friends are; and, to have a friend, you must first be a friend.

Secondly: Give your children increasing freedom to visit in their friends’ homes. Getting to know the friends’ parents will help you in freeing your children to be away from their own familiar surroundings.  Once again, guidelines and proper attention to your children through listening to their reports of the visits will help you to decide what is best for your kids.

And, now it’s your turn!  I’ve made two suggestions for laying the foundation for the development of close friendships and finding pathways moving toward your children’s independence.  What other things do we need to do as parents to continue this growth?

My friend, Christine, sent me a little verse she sang as a young person that provided a set of guidelines in growing into friendships – she recalled it from her days as a Brownie Scout.  Remember these wise words:

Make new friends, but keep the old.

One is silver, the other is gold.

“A circle is round, it has no end.

That’s how long, I will be your friend.”

School Starts – Yippee!

August 20, 2010

School will soon be underway with a brand new start for every student to learn the many things necessary for success in this 21st Century.  And, parents will be pleased to know that their children are given an opportunity, at a bargain price,  to have access to all that schools offer:  books, teachers, guidance people, a ride to school, a healthy lunch, playtime with peers, and many things not nearly so visible!  The newspapers will give us a notion that parents are ‘free’ of the obligations of raising children and some will believe that their work is over, for the time being.  Nothing could be further from the truth – a parent’s job is NEVER finished.

So, what can parents do now:  1) ask at the end of every day what happened in school: here’s the question:  “What did you learn today?”  Every day parents can ask that – let it become a habit!  2) find some time for reading – reading to your kids, letting them read for themselves when they’re ready, letting them read to you and you listen (trouble finding books? Visit your library and get a library card!) 3) Establish routines which include bedtime, meal time, reading/study time, and ‘get up’ time.  Routine is essential.  Limit as best they can the amount of time a child spends in front of the TV!  4) Show your child in every way that you support the schools and are interested in their becoming the best person that they can be!

For now, ‘school’ is your child’s ‘job’!  Help him/her to succeed and to learn as much as they can about as much as they can!  Down the road, you’ll be very happy that you ‘invested’ now in your child’s life and welfare!

Mistakes/Accidents

August 6, 2010

Yes, our children are going to make mistakes and have accidents!  They spill, they drop things, they mess things up, they say things they don’t mean, they sometimes seem to be ‘an accident waiting to happen’!  And, yes, we make mistakes and have accidents as well.  Let’s take a look at these potentially harmful situations to see how we might handle them in such a way that we enhance the child’s growth and development and help them face their mistakes and accidents in the future.

You, Mom and Dad, have much influence over your children – much more than you might think!  These kids are watching you and in some secret way coming to determine their lives based on what they’ve gleaned from your reactions – your behavior. So, when you make a mistake or have an accident, how do you handle these things?  Do you explode with anger?  Do you punish yourself unreasonably?  Do you blame others, conditions, situations??  Does your response result in growth and maturity?

Question:  Have you learned from a mistake or an accident?  Have you at least learned to avoid things which brought forth that result so that you don’t need to repeat it over and over again?

What if you could condition yourself to remain calm during these mishaps and say to yourself: “Well, Good!  I’m smarter now!”  If your child could see this in your behavior, he/she might adopt that for their own mental well-being.  And, when children apply this, they will not try to hide accidents or mistakes from you or from anyone (including themselves through denial), and they can learn from their mistakes and find ways to correct them!  Through the years we worked with our kids to ‘ . . . always tell us the truth . . ‘ even if at times they feared what might happen.  At the same time, we resolved that we would turn all mistakes and accidents into learning experiences.  I remember the day when Jamie was little and hitting a tennis ball against the garage doors – doors with four panes of glass each (there were three doors)!  When I said that he could break one of those glass panes, he assured me that he wouldn’t do that!  Well, you know the rest of the story – he punched one ball  right through one window scattering glass all over the inside of the garage.  He  told me about it immediately and together we cleaned up the glass, and he took about $4.00 out of his savings to buy a new glass pane and we put it in together!  I learned; he learned; and we had one pane of glass that was so very clean and new!

Think about that:  “Well, Good!  I’m Smarter Now!”

Patience

August 3, 2010

Every day I receive a message sent forth from the Oak Hills Church written by the Pulpit Pastor of the Church, Max Lucado!  I thought this message would be important for all parents who read this:

“Love is patient.”  I Corinthians 13:4)

The Greek word used here for patient . . . means “taking a long time to boil.”

Think about a pot of boiling water . . . Water boils quickly when the flame is high. It boils slowly when the flame is low. Patience “keeps the burner down.”

Patience isn’t naive. It doesn’t ignore misbehavior. It just keeps the flame low. It waits. It listens . . . This is how God treats us. And, according to Jesus, this is how we should treat others.

As a parent, I believe we must be patient with our children – all of our children – as well as our pets, our neighbors, all forms of living things!  (Sometimes it behooves us to be patient with our plants!) Don’t you know that we must also learn to be patient with many things in our lives which may be beyond our control –like other drivers while driving around, for example! -like other shoppers in a busy shopping place! -like our neighbors when they do things which irritate us (remember who their neighbors are!!)

Yes, Love is Patient!