Reflective Parenting

Respond rather than react to your children


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I Don’t Want to Go to School, Mom!

Dear Parents,

Children in B.C. have been in school a week now.  School is children’s work, and there are several children who don’t like school for numerous reasons.  Some of those reasons include anxiety, boredom, routine (too much or too little)…  And some just don’t like school.  I was one of those kids.

How do you cope with a child who fights going to school? Here are some suggestions which may prove helpful.

  • Acknowledge your child’s feelings by giving empathy and showing compassion.
  • State that going to school is a natural part of growing up.  It is one in a series of adventures that life offers.
  • Check your own attitude about school.  If you are voicing negative comments about school or going to your own work-place, remember that kids “catch” your attitude!
  •  Accentuate the positives such as learning new skills, making new friends, and learning how to be more independent.
  • Encourage your child to focus on serving others and looking for ways to make school-life better.
  • Teach your children how to deal with anxiety by focusing on their breathing, visualizing e a pleasant scene, thinking of a calming song, hymn, rhyme, verse.
  • When your child grumbles about school, listen to their concerns calmly.  Then help your child turn the negative into a positive.  Every negative has a positive!
  • Don’t take your child’s complaints too seriously.  A complaint made to you on Wednesday will probably be forgotten the next day!
  • Help children understand that change has its hard and uncomfortable moments..  But  familiarity with the routine comes security, safety and confidence.
  • Make sure you hug your child before school, wish him well, put a loving note in his lunch-box and assure your child that doing his/her best is all that is expected.
  • Make sure that your child has whatever s/he needs to do well at school (nutritious food, proper clothes…)

Yes, school can be scary at any age, any grade.  The majority of children adapt well.  Some need more encouragement.  Your attitude is vitally important.  Be calm, be positive, be realistic and be solution-focused.  These qualities will go far in helping your children become resilient, independent and skilled socially, physically and academically!

Warm Wishes,

Judith


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Encourage Rather Than Criticize

Hello Parents,

Many of us were brought up knowing more about what we did wrong rather than what we did right!  Has this pattern carried into raising your children?  If you are ready to change your belief from commenting on the negative to encouraging the positive, you will see huge rewards in your children’s behavior.

  1. Encouragement helps your children develop a positive inner voice.  When your voice is encouraging, their internal (self-talk)  and external (speaking with others) voices are encouraging, too.
  2. Encourage what you want your children to be and to do.  All of us have a vision of the character qualities we want our children to develop.  For instance, if cooperation is one of yours, then comment positively every time you see cooperation in action.
  3.  This third point piggybacks on the last point.  When you consistently encourage that which is positive and praise-worthy in your children, they internalize those beliefs and expectations which are clearly seen in their behaviors.
  4. Be specific when you encourage.  Rather than saying, “Good job” make your comments specific.  “I like it when you set the table without being told.”
  5. And, the BEST result of all, is that encouragement is contagious!

Listen to what your children say about themselves when they make mistakes.  Do they say, “I’m dumb” or “Hmmm, that didn’t work out the way I wanted.  I’ll try it this way and see it it works better.”  If your child is making derogatory remarks about him/her self, there are a few things for you to think about.

  1. How do you react when you make a mistake?  Do you judge yourself or give yourself compassion?
  2. Are you criticizing your children more than encouraging them?
  3. Are you catching them “being good” or “being bad?”

If you criticize yourself, it is likely you are doing the same to your children.  I encourage you to attend to these issues.  Remember, you are the MODEL for your children.  “Nuff said.”

Blessings,

Judith


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Ten Strategies to Calm Children

Hello Parents,

Parents often use time-outs to help young children calm down.  Many times, though, time-outs only fuel what are already big emotions.  I believe there are other strategies, such as the ones listed below, that parents can use to  teach children how to manage their emotions in wholesome and mindful ways.

  • Connect…Use empathy to emotionally connect with your child.  For example, if your child trips and falls on the sidewalk, a comment such as, ” Oops, I bet you didn’t expect to fall.  You must feel a bit shook-up.  Would you like to take a moment to catch your breath?”  Once you have acknowledged the child’s feelings, the child feels “heard” and  is more likely to put the incident in perspective.  Not acknowledging or ignoring the child’s feelings (“That didn’t hurt.”) will keep the child “stuck” and you’ll probably be deluged with lots of whining, complaining, and crying.
  • Re-direct…Once you have shown empathy (seeing the child’s perspective), it’s easier to re-direct the child to another activity.  For instance, “I know that your sister wrecked your picture by colouring all over it.  And you’re right, it’s not fair she should do that.  She’s younger than you and she hasn’t learned how to value your things.  Let’s think of ways to keep your things safe.”
  • Boundaries…Even though your child is angry, keep your boundaries and resist giving into demands.  For instance, if a child is screaming for candy, you can say, “I understand you want that candy, but I’m not going to change my mind even if you choose to keep screaming.”  Continue to soothe the child and calmly repeat the message.  It helps to touch the child lightly on the back, shoulder or arm while giving and/or repeating the message.
  • Humor…Use humor to diffuse uncomfortable and frustrating moments.  Actions such as making a funny face, moving in unexpected ways, singing a made-up silly song often break the tension.
  • Setting Expectations…Let your child know your expectations.  For example, “I can read you one more story and then let’s think of two or three quiet activities that you can do while I’m making dinner.”
  • Keep Calm and Carry On…There is something to be said for the British saying that has recently come back in vogue.  Sometimes, it is necessary to focus on what needs to be done, regardless of the commotion that your kids are causing.  When children sense that you are calm, positive and purposeful, they will follow suit.
  • Touch…A hand on the child’s shoulder, back or arm, many times, is just enough to let the child know that you are “with them” and ready to be encouraging and supportive.
  • Move…Move and change the mood.  Often when young children are cranky, they have been sitting too long and need a break.  Jumping jacks, running on the spot, and other such activities will transform negative emotions into more positive ones.
  • Chill…When anger is present on anyone’s part, it is NOT the time to discipline or solve problems.  It’s the time to calm down so you can make reasoned and good choices.  No matter what age you are, you LOSE intelligence when you are angry.  For instance, if you like your home neat and you come home from work to a messy living room, it’s best to sit down, breathe and just “be.”  When you are calm, then is the time to decide calmly on how to manage the situation.
  • Repair…All parents make mistakes.  When you do, do whatever you need to do to calm yourself.  Then go to your child and apologize.  “Daddy lost it when he shouted at you.  I wish I would have spoken to you calmly.  Please forgive me.”  With older children, ask your child his/her version of what happened and apologize for your part in what went astray. It’s helpful to let your child know what triggered you and how you are going to better manage it..  As well, ask your child what both of you can do to avoid the same situation again.  Children come up with many good solutions when asked!  Make a plan for positive change.  When children see their parents change, it inspires them to do the same.  It also teaches your child that you are open and flexible to change.  Great modelling!

And, remember, BIG emotions, like thunderstorms, don’t last forever!

Calm is a quality that seems elusive in our busy world.  What strategies articulated above would help you to increase the peace in your relationship with your children?  I would be happy to hear your replies.  As always comments are welcomed and encouraged!

Blessings,

Judith

Website:  www.judithbarnard.com

E-mail:  judith@judithbarnard.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Judith-Barnard-MSW-RSW-Therapy-for-Families-and-Women/138948412847061?ref=tn_tnmn


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Tips for Setting and Enforcing Consequences

Hello Parents,

Let me assure and reassure you that consequences DO work.  Let’s take a look at how you, as parents can make consequences work for you.

Consequences are a natural part of life for all of us, and the sooner children learn that their actions result in either positive or negative results, the better.  Providing consequences sets boundaries, and kids like boundaries.  With boundaries, they feel safe, cared for and secure.

It takes CONSISTENT WORK on the parents’ part to enforce consequences, especially when they are negative.  Many times I have heard parents say that they tell their kids over and over again what they want them to do, and their children do not follow their instructions.

FIRST POINT:  Tell your children your EXPECTATIONS of them clearly and specifically.  Example:  ”Please have the table set in 15 minutes.  Make sure you include the salt and pepper shakers, butter, napkins, and salad dressings.”  It is important that the child has the ABILITY to complete the set expectations.  Be sure your expectations are REASONABLE.

SECOND POINT:  Give REASONS whenever possible for your expectations. For example:  ”We all like to sit down to a hot rather than a luke-warm dinner.  Having the table set on time makes this possible.”  Kids often fulfill your expectations when they know the “whys” behind your requests.

THIRD POINT:  Follow up with a logical or natural consequence.  When the task is completed appropriately, let your child know you appreciate their willingness to complete the task.  A hug, a pat on the back, a word of encouragement lets your child know you have noticed their efforts.  If something is missed, you might say, “The table looks great, but we need the salad dressings to season the salad.”  In this way, you are stating what they have done (noticing the positive) and encouraging them to finish the task.

If dinner is nearly ready and the table is not set, give one warning and a logical consequence.  ”Jane, I need the table set now.  If I set the table, you’ll be totally responsible for clearing up after dinner.  And if that’s the case, it’s going to cut into your computer/homework time.  It’s your choice.”

FOURTH POINT  Follow through on the consequence.  Following through is often the most difficult part.  Children will engage in debate.  ”But I always set the table.”  ”You’re being mean.”  ”If I have to clean up, I won’t have the time to finish my homework.”  Some of the reasons may have some validity; however, your child made a choice.  And with choices come consequences.  If homework isn’t finished, then it’s the child’s responsibility to explain to the teacher why it isn’t finished.  Following through on consequences teaches responsibility, resilience, cooperation and independence.

FIFTH POINT:  Don’t cave in to your child’s requests, often stated angrily or sarcastically, to avoid the consequences.  Taking responsibility for one’s actions is a life skill.  And one of your responsibilities as a parent is to prepare your child for life.  Feeling sorry for them, thinking it’s easier to just do it yourself, saving them from the consequences of their actions results in dependency.  Dependent children are not happy children.

SIXTH POINT:  Talk with your child about consequences.  Make sure you and your child are calm when you talk.  Anger accomplishes nothing.  Explain the necessity of consistency, cooperation, teamwork, choices and consequences.  Make sure your child knows s/he is loved unconditionally even when behaviors are unacceptable.

How helpful is this post for helping you, as parents, enforce consequences?

Until next time,

Judith