Reflective Parenting

Respond rather than react to your children


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Tips for Resolving Conflicts With School Personnel

Hello Parents,

Conflict is inevitable!  It’s how conflict is resolved that’s important.  As a former teacher, I’d like to offer some tips when your children come home with complaints about educational staff.

  • Expect conflict!
  • View conflict as an opportunity to be curious…curious about your child’s point of view and curious about the other’s point of view.
  • Conflict is a great way to practice many skills such as listening with empathy, patience, and compassion…
  • Conflict helps us practice being reflective (rather than reactive) and non-judgmental.
  • Conflict is often misinterpretation…remember, there are at least three interpretations for any given issue.
  • Almost without exception, conflict can be sorted out when ALL parties involved sit down together and focus on solutions.
  • Talk to the person involved in the complaint.  If your child is having difficulty with an educational assistant, talk with the educational assistant, not the principal!  If there is a rule at your child’s school that all complaints must go to the principal, insist that you will only talk to All parties involved at the SAME time.   If someone objects to that, consider it a red flag.
  • Listen calmly to your child AND do not make judgements about the educator involved.  Show empathy.  Remember, your child is watching how YOU resolve conflicts.
  • Refrain from taking the teacher’s side OR your child’s side.
  • When the situation is resolved, forgive, remember the lessons learned and move on.
  • Take notes, review with those present and send copies to all parties.

Here are three examples that I hope will be helpful.

First Example:

I grew up in a small town, and my father was a principal of an elementary school.  When we came home with a complaint about a teacher, my parents first question was, “What did you do to make the teacher so upset?”

This strategy put all the onus on us, and there were a few times when the teacher was at fault.  However, I gave up telling my parents my concerns because I was pretty certain I wouldn’t be taken seriously.  In grade 3, I was treated badly by a teacher, and it was years before I told my parents.  It was a serious offence, and my father asked me why I didn’t tell him.  I indicated that I didn’t think he’d believe me.  Teachers can make mistakes; they’re human.  Your children need to know that.  They also need to know what is a serious offence.

Second Example:

An experienced teacher, noted for her sensitivity, integrity and honesty, found herself being bullied by a group of Grade 9 students. The teacher was of a conservative religious faith, wore her hair in a bun and dressed plainly and modestly.  Students called her names, ridiculed her religion, ignored her instructions, regularly damaged her art supplies, criticized her until she finally went to the Head and asked for assistance.  The principal, close to retirement, did make some attempts to help her.  Even though this teacher had excellent teaching reports with no blemishes on her teaching report, she finally resigned.  A few years after her resignation, her art work was showcased, and it became clearly apparent to many associated with that school what an excellent teacher they had lost.  She never returned to teaching.

In this situation, the students clearly had control.  It appeared that her “differences” were key to the reasons she was bullied.  Group bullying such as this is becoming more and more “acceptable” in school situations.  Youth want to be accepted by their peers.  Parents, educators, administrators need to be sure that everyone, including educational staff,  models acceptable and appropriate emotional and intellectual intelligence.  Educational staff who consistently refuse to maintain these standards or improve have no place in schools.  Other than their parents, children look to their teachers as models.

Third Example:

I was substituting for a teacher at the same school where my father was teaching.  One of the students left class.  went home to her mother and told her that I wouldn’t let her or other students go to the bathroom.  The parent and the child turned up at the school…irate.  The school principal called several of the students in the classroom to his office.  He pleasantly told me he was conducting a survey so he would be asking several students to come to his office for a few minutes.  I thought nothing of it.  At the end of the class, there was a knock on my classroom door and there was Lizzy and her mother.  Her mother said, “Lizzy, has something to tell you.”  Lizzy told me what she had done and apologized for her behavior.

Wise principal.  He separately interviewed children he could trust and discovered that Missy’s complaint had no merit.  From what I understood later, Lizzy had to face some uncomfortable consequences.  One of the consequences was that her mother indicated that Lizzy would have to work hard to regain her trust.

A Final Note

There are few difficulties that cannot be solved in an non=judgmental environment where calmness and compassion to ourselves and each other prevail.

What can you take from this article to more smoothly resolve conflicts at school?

Best,

Judith

http://www.judithbarnard.com

judith@judithbarnard.com

Comments always welcome!


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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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Making An Effective Transition from Work to Home

Hello Parents!

Do you ever feel when you arrive home from work that you are still at work?  Here are some tips that you can use so when you arrive home, you leave work where it belongs–at work!

  • When you leave work, walk SLOWLY out of your workplace.  Take a few moments to focus on following your breath in and out.
  • Before you drive home, quickly review your day.  What went wrong?  What went right?  What would you like to do better tomorrow?  Forgive yourself for your mistakes and appreciate yourself for the positives.  
  • Driving home, visualize a calm and peaceful time that you experienced recently with members of your family.  Breathe in the joy of that moment.
  • On your way home, think of positive comments you can say to each member of your family.  Think of what you can tell your family about your day.  It’s fine to share a negative; just make sure you end on a positive note…good modeling for your children, especially.
  • Listen to calm music on your drive home.
  • When you arrive home, walk slowly into your home.
  • It’s vitally important to check in with your spouse and children first BEFORE changing your clothes or engaging in any other activity.  Rushing off to change your clothes as soon as you get home creates separation, abandonment  and stress.  This 5 and 10 minute check-in time with your family will set the “tone” for the rest of the evening.  Make sure that your cell-phone is OFF.  After spending this check-in time with your family members, then change into your “home” clothes. Another idea is to change into your home clothes before you leave work.

When you commit yourself to consistently focusing on mindfully transitioning from work to home, you’ll reap the following rewards:

  • calmer family members
  • stronger bonds between you and your family members
  • a better ability to respond (rather than react negatively) positively to issues that may arise
  • more cooperation among family members

What are the rewards for you in making clear boundaries between your work and home life?  Love to hear your responses!

Blessings,

Judith


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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


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Tips on How to Have a Loving and Inexpensive Family Valentine’s Day

ImageHello All,

Valentine’s Day is here again!  Usually the first thing that comes to mind for many is buying chocolates and flowers for your partner and candy as well as gifts for the kids.  I’m not indicating that is bad, but I’m wondering if we can make Valentine’s Day more than a “bought” experience?  Here are some tips that will make Valentine’s Day more meaningful for you, your partner and your spouse.

  • Begin with breakfast.  Slice in some strawberries or raspberries with your breakfast cereal.  Try drinking cranberry juice (it’s pretty and it’s healthy!).  Sing a song together.  It can be as wacky as singing Happy Valentine’s Day to the tune of Happy Birthday!
  • Send your kids and spouse a love note (in a valentine shape, of course) reminding them how much you love them.  Include one or two things that you especially love about them.
  • Cut lunch food into heart shapes.  Try to include as many “red” food items as you can…carrots, tomatoes…
  • Encourage your children to wear something pink or red…it might just be a red scarf, red earrings or red mittens or a red t-shirt.
  • Encourage each other to say, “Happy Valentine’s Day” with a smile to all they meet throughout the day.
  • Encourage each other to do random acts of kindness throughout the day.
  • Ask your family members what they can do to help someone who may be struggling getting through Valentine’s Day.  It’s not the happiest day for some.
  • Parents, write a letter to your children letting them know specific things you love and appreciate about them.  And, children, do the same for your parents.
  • Make a concerted effort to meet together for dinner.  Discuss the loving and kind things you did at work, school and home.  Show your appreciation for each other by telling each member of the family at least ONE thing you love about them.
  • Use e-mail, skype, etc. to contact friends and families with words of appreciation and love.
  • Have fun and prepare a “red” dinner meal.  Spaghetti, red cabbage, tomatoes, apples, are foods that come to mind.
  • Bake simple cookies together (no bake chocolate cookies are a favorite in our family).
  • Read Valentine’s stories or stories about the power of love.
  • Mom and Dad, tell your story of how you met and fell in love.
  • Make home-made cards or pictures for each other and take pictures to remind you of  this special day.

LOVE is a NOUN and a VERB.  How are you going to show your love to family members, colleagues, friends, neighbours, teachers on Valentine’s Day and throughout the coming year?  Acts of love and kindness are always remembered…

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.  May love bond you together more this year than ever.  As the song says, “Love will keep us together.”   Let your love show in word and deed.

Blessings,

Judith


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Tips to Cope with Hallowe’en Candy

Hello Parents,

The big day has come and gone and now you probably have more candy in your household than you want or need.  Here are several tips to cope with kids and candy.

  • You, the parents, are the keeper of the candy bags.  Letting children keep their candy bags in their bedrooms is a recipe for disaster.  Older children may be granted this privilege if you know they will handle the candy responsibly.
  • Go through the candy and discard any candy that looks suspicious.
  • Donate a portion of candy to those you know who couldn’t participate in  Hallowe’en.  Many people, including friends and relatives, live in condos and townhouses which do not allow trick or treaters.  They, especially those living alone, would probably appreciate a small gift of candy.
  • Let your children pick out a few treats to eat at recess OR lunch.  If you find that your children are just eating the candy, then the natural consequence is not to include the candy as snacks or dessert the following day.
  • Avoid giving candy as night-time snacks.  Increased sugar levels will lead to less sleep.
  • If children start to become grumpy, complain about tummy aches and/or engage in disruptive behaviors, it’s time for a candy-free day.
  • Choose to let your children have more candy on the week-ends when they can engage in outdoor activities to run those “sugar highs” off.
  • For after-school snacks, include healthy snacks along with Hallowe’en candy.

Hallowe’en is an exciting time for children, and the thought of having so much candy at their fingertips is an overwhelming temptation for children.  Use this time as an opportunity to teach them about what food their bodies need to function properly (good nutrition) and the effects of eating too much candy.

Teach them that eating too much candy has an IMPACT on them and those around them.  The best thing they can do is to learn how to regulate their candy intake appropriately.  In that way, they learn to show compassion and kindness for themselves and their bodies as well as for others (you, their teachers) they interact with on a daily basis!

What are you going to do this Hallowe’en to teach you children how to appropriately manage their candy intake?

Until next time,

Judith