Archive for November, 2010

“I’m bored!”

November 18, 2010

It didn’t happen often, but I remember times when I was irritated when my children would say, “I’m bored.”  And, this usually prompts a word from me or some other adult like:  “Well, why don’t you go to your room and __________.”  And, the blank contained some activity that the children could reject and just a short time after the rejection of our suggestion, the child says “I’m bored!” as if they have forgotten that we went through this just a moment ago!

So, I’m borrowing some thoughts that I think are worthwhile from Fred Smith, Jr. who has a column every now and again giving people like me sound advice.  His suggestion for an adult response is “So, what are you going to do about it?”  (Note the word ‘you’!  Not what should “I” do, but what are ‘YOU’ going to do?) Fred tells us that the cure for boredom is our responsibility, not a job for others.

So, what can we do when our children try to dump this responsibility on us?  1)  Make it very clear that you are NOT going to do anything to cure their boredom – that’s their responsibility!  2) When the child moves toward some activity that will fill this ‘boredom space’, offer to work with them, to share this new experience.  And, as soon as you believe your child is ‘hooked’, withdraw – go about your own business!  3) Expose the child to something new and let that child make a decision about whether this is something he/she would like to do.  and once again, from Fred: 4) Remember: the more bored the child is, the less energy that child has for getting started on some worthwhile activity.  The less bored he/she is, the more energy they will have to begin a new activity!

The vacations are coming!  The kids will miss school and a close association with many friends and some adults who really care for and direct them (They are called ‘teachers’), and they may come to you with this:  “I’m so bored!”  Be prepared for that!  Teach them as soon as you know they’ll ‘get it’ that they are responsible for getting out of that state and into something they will enjoy and something which will help them to grow into self-directed adults!!

Good luck!!



Work as Play When They’re Young!

November 15, 2010

From Heloise, who writes a column begun by her mother:  “Dear Readers:  Here is a letter of thought from the Heloise Files that was printed many years ago.  I hope you find it heartwarming:

‘Dear Heloise:  Gather your children around you and teach them how to enjoy work.  My three children and I can clean the house four times as fast as I can by myself, and they are all elementary school age.

‘I see no better way of saving both time and energy and at the same time, helping children to learn how to happily accept responsibility than to teach them when they are young.

‘The world will be a much happier place for them as adults.  And, one added plus:  I know they will save time and energy as parents themselves by teaching their children to do the same.  What better legacy could I give them to pass on? –Janice’

Each of you can do that!!


Why my dog doesn’t run away!

November 5, 2010

We live in South Texas on a relatively large lot – large when one considers the 1/2 acre or less lots upon which most homes in the US exist!  We do not have a fence around our property!  And, we live in a neighborhood which will impose a fine on ‘dogs-running-loose’!  We also have a dog, Ollie, who is allowed outside much of the day, and he doesn’t run away!  As I prepared to write this morning’s entry I asked myself why my dog doesn’t run away and I would like today to illustrate the wayward behaviors of some of our kiddos through the relationship we have with our Ollie and his responses.  He doesn’t need to misbehave or run away.

Let me start by asking you a question:  “Why would he want to run away from here?”  1) He receives two nutritious and, I believe, tasty meals every day!  Occasionally we add something like peanut butter to make the meal a special treat for him!  2) He receives an unlimited number of ‘atta-boys’ every day not only from me, but from Denise and many of our guests!  3) We speak to him in a normal tone and with low volume – as in the case with most dogs, Ollie is not ‘hard-of-hearing’ so speaking loudly makes no difference at all! 4) Since all of the people in Ollie’s world know that ‘hands are for lovin’, not hitting’, he is often petted and scratched in loving ways by many!  5) He has responsibility to do his job when called upon to perform!  6) We are teaching him to know many words spoken in English to him.  7) Where else could he find these things to make his life complete?  He knows he’s well-off here!

So, let’s see how this applies to our raising our children.  1) Mealtime can be a time of tremendous joy and sharing, and as adults we have a major part in creating those joyous times.  This can be a relaxing time of sharing, of informing, of listening to our kids while they take in nutritious and tasty food.  We never work toward ‘rushing’ Ollie to finish his food – if he doesn’t eat it now, it can be consumed later on!  We also are careful to avoid over-feeding.  2) Encouragement and recognition of positive behaviors do more to shape or change a child’s behavior than punishment.  Punishment, for the most part, does NOT do what we hope it will do.  Rather than changing a child with punishment, we will more than likely drive the child away from us and will ignite in the child some resentment toward the punisher.  How many ‘atta-boy’ or ‘atta-girl’ comments do your children receive each day?  As many as our Ollie receives!  It’s just a bit over one hour into today, and I know Ollie has heard ‘atta-boy’ more than twenty times.  3) At least once every day Ollie will come toward me wanting some stroking or scratching or ‘loving’ and he’ll put his chin on my lap.  After I’ve met his request for some loving, I say in a quiet tone, “Get down now!” and this dog gets down.  Have you ever heard a dog owner shout at the dog?  Do you suppose that volume is not the determining factor in having kids listen to us and obey us?  Hopefully, your children are not ‘hard-of-hearing’ and you can speak to them in normal, even quiet, tones and they will respond positively.  4) Since Ollie was a ‘rescue’ dog, we don’t know what kind of treatment he received in the first seven to ten months of his life!  I’m suspicious based on some of his early responses to us that he has been mis-treated, but since he’s made his home here, he has learned that our hands are for lovin’, not for hitting.  The only time Ollie even perceives a threat of hitting comes during one of our daily ‘play-times’.  I pick up a long, slender stick and walk toward him threatening to swing it at him.  With his tail wagging  back and forth, he barks at me and runs from left to right, sometimes around a building, often running close enough to me that I could strike him, but he knows that I will NEVER strike him with that stick!  If I act like I’m tired of the game, he’ll ‘flirt’ with me by coming up in front of me and howling as if to say, “This was fun!!”  5) We really  heap on all kinds of loving when he barks at any unfamiliar person or vehicle entering our property – that’s his job to warn us of potential danger.  6) I really don’t know how large Ollie’s vocabulary is, but I do know that it’s increasing.  One of the first words he learned was ‘No’!  That means that he is to stop that behavior now!  After that we taught his the meaning of ‘Stay’!  That means he’s not going along this time, but we will be back.  And, after he knew those words, we began to expand his vocabulary.  I have evidence that he understands, “Let’s get the paper!”, “Let’s go for walk!”, “Let’s go in!”, “Penny”, “Carli”, and “Where’s Denise?” His vocabulary will never come close to the size of your child’s vocabulary, but I’m surprised every day at his response to another statement one of us makes.  Do you work to encourage your child to expand his/her vocabulary every day?  When I taught all those many years ago, I used a little technique of expanding my students’ vocabularies – I called it “Kern’s Word Wealth”, and I’ll wager that there are still some kids who remember the day they learned the meaning of ‘tenacious’.  7) There is no place on earth where Ollie will receive more love, more encouragement, more indication that he’s important and more security than he receives right here!  When we brought him into our home, we purchased a cage and placed a comfortable mattress inside it!  (I had previously been opposed to ‘caging’ an animal as I thought maybe the animal would see it as punishment!)  That cage almost immediately became Ollie’s security place!  During a thunderstorm shortly after Ollie moved in, he retreated to the back of his cage.  When our Stitch, the only cat we’ve had, came to announce her place in this home, Ollie went into his cage.  At bedtime he’d go into the cage without any coaxing and after five days, we didn’t even close the front door of that home of his.

Why in the world would any dog want to run away from all of this?  Why in the world would our children want to leave a place where they learn hour after hour, day after day, year after year, that they are loved, they are important, and they are safe?  And, just in case you haven’t noticed, kids will give back what they receive from us!!


“Things To Do . . Today!”

November 1, 2010

Let’s give some thought today to the ‘Little Things’ which eventually become the ‘Big Things’!!  I read today words of a wise lady who said that from her ‘things to do today’ list she wrote, “Make my bed!”  She told the readers that she’d put this on a list over fifteen years ago and still has it on her list these many years later.  And, she poses the question, ‘. . why is making my bed such a big deal?’  She tells us that she frequently walks through her bedroom in connection with the day’s activities and if the bed is unmade she feels a little guilty – loses some positive feelings about who she is.  However, when the bed is made and so neat and orderly, she feels good about who she is and what she’s doing in life.

Now, we can all do some little thing which when we look upon it, we give ourselves a pat on the back – sometimes just a tiny pat, sometimes a flood of big pats!  When we carry around the knowledge that we’ve done one thing and done it well, our attitude toward ourself and our life will be more positive.

So, let’s give this valuable piece of information to our kids – let’s encourage them to do at least one thing EVERY DAY – something that they can look back on and enjoy that feeling of accomplishment.  And, our children will eventually know that success in the little things will lead to success in ever bigger things!  (As a matter of fact, when we do something, we sometimes don’t know if it’s a ‘BIG’ thing and important, or a ‘little’ thing and just routine.)

Now is the time to start this daily list of ‘Things To Do!’ for our children!  What can they do?  You are limited only by the size of your imagination!!

PS:  You could have a list for yourself as well!  Think about that!!