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Effective Communication for Better Discipline

January 13, 2011

I noticed one of my girlfriends was having a difficult time disciplining her son. She asked my opinion about her approach. Cautiously and somewhat fearfully, I shared my opinion.  What I noticed was that she was fairly effective in most parts f her discipline, but that she was failing in one particularly important aspect of it.  She was not getting her son's attention before giving instructions.

She gave the instructions clearly but since her son was delayed in hearing her, he was missing the important parts of her directives. Her son’s disobedience caused her to punish him immediately. This cycle continued because neither one of them knew that he was missing the beginning part of her instructions.

After she and I talked and I shared my point of view, she started employing little attention grabbing techniques like flicking the lights, counting, or simply moving up close to her child to get his attention. Once she has his attention, she gives her instructions and now he is a much better listener.

Failures may be due to one very small factor in an approach. It’s amazing how a small changes can have a huge impact on the outcome.

Steps to lessen disobedience.

1 Getting the child’s attention before giving instructions.

2 Give clear and detailed instructions. Demonstrate what you want the child to do if this is the first time the child will perform the task.

3 Give the child a specific amount of time to listen. Setting a timer or using a buzzer is helpful to a child.

4 Give positive affirmations for successes.

5 Punishment is a last resort for me.  Only after a child has been properly trained should you punish disobedience.

Comments: 3

Physical Objects to Explain The Abstract

January 27, 2011

 We planned a family day at the park on our usual Sunday family fun day:)  My husband does not like waiting so we all hurry to get ready to go. My husband is done first so he started to work on a project while waiting for the rest of us to be ready. When I finish, I notice my daughters scrambling so I sneak in some sweeping as I wait for my daughters to finish getting dressed.  My daughters finish up, unbeknown to me, and go upstairs since they see mom and dad working on something else. At this point, each one of us is ready, waiting for the others, and moves on to another activity. This goes on for over an hour.

My husband announces that if we are not all in the car in the next ten minutes he is not going! We all scramble in the car. After some frustration, we realize we could have left an hour ago had our communication been effective. Nobody knew the others were ready.

Now I don't typically resort to using tickets but I decided just for once to try to create a physical element to represent each person's readiness level. Each person got a ticket with his or her name on it.  Once a person is ready to leave, he indicates his readiness by putting the  ticket on the kitchen counter.  Now each person can  check the family status of readiness at a quick glance. We only did it once to realize the importance of proper communication.

There are numerous other ways that physical objects can be used to represent abstract ideas. It can be a challenge to communicate or teach something that is not tangible; things like feelings or attitudes.  You can try to put them into words to start and then later give a more visual description.  The associate between your feeling and a tangible object give the abstract a workable state of being. 

A great example of using physical objects to represent abstract ideas is represented in the book Have You Filled a Bucket Today: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids, written by Carol McCloud. The idea behind it is that  you fill someone's bucket with love.

Comments: 3

Giving Children Choices

February 08, 2011

 

My life-long friend Chere had children several years before me. Being able to watch her parenting skills provided me with a plethora of knowledge to use on my own children.

When her son Zachary was eight, I recall his rebellious nature started to kick in. At first she struggled with his his behavior, but thru trial and error she eventually figured out how to tame it.  It was all about choices. When she gave her son options, it made him feel more independent and less controlled. His whole attitude changed and in general he was more agreeable. Thinking back to my years of teaching high school students, I recall the same effect from giving my students choices. Students were empowered when they had some say in the outcome.

There are so many other benefits to giving our kids choices. It gives them practice in decision making, it can help nurture their creativity and it teaches them some level of independence.

 

Comments: 5

Drama used as a parenting tool

March 15, 2011

My husband always tells me that I have a flair for the dramatic.  He points out that I always say I am starving not just hungry; or I am exhausted not just tired.  Maybe he is right, but I like using extreme examples to make a point.  When teaching children, using an extreme example can be quite effective.  Extremes are not what you actually expect to happen but actually serve as boundaries for the best-and worst-scenarios.  By defining the boundaries, you are able to show the spectrum of possibilities.  Once the extremes are understood, children are able to grasp scenarios that are "most common" or "most likely" to happen.

Comments: 3

Stop Your Children From Being Greedy, Selfish, Self-centered…

March 24, 2011

 My daughter is sitting at the dinner table. My whole family loves my chicken enchiladas.  (The recipe is from the cookbook Spread A Little Joy -- but I replaced the cumin with an extra dose of cilantro.)  I love having a meal that every member of the family loves. I know they love it because there are rarely any leftovers.  But I digress...

My daughter announces that she wants to eat three enchiladas and she proceeds to put three huge ones on her plate. Now there are a lot of developing personality traits in our children that if left in their raw form will become character flaws. We obviously have the most influence on our children when they are young...which is why  I am trying to squeeze in as much as I can now!

Now back to the dinner table.  If my daughter asks for more food before she’s finished with what she has, to me that is a form of  greed. So I gently announce that there is no reason to take more before you are finished with what is on your plate. Then we discuss the meaning of greed.  To make sure she fully grasps this new behavioral concept I make a mental note to check up on this with her periodically.

Some others behaviors to consider:

  • Taking the rest of something without asking everyone else at the table if they want more - selfishness.
  • Talking about yourself without listening to other members of the family -self-centeredness.

You get my point.  I am always looking for suggestions so please feel free to share any of your thoughts.

Comments: 3

Embarrassing Moments

March 29, 2011

I was in the grocery story with my daughters, 2 and 3 years old at the time.  All of a sudden I hear my oldest yell “Mommy, where is his leg?”  In a panic I scramble to see what she is talking about.  A man in a wheelchair has lost his leg from the thigh down.  I am mortified!  I hush her and she screams, “WHY?”  I walk down the next aisle and quietly explain that you should not ask things about people in front of them.  It may hurt the man’s feelings if he thinks we are talking about him.  Then I explained that he may have had an accident and lost his leg.  While I know sometimes it is tough to demonstrate the right tact in these instances, don’t shy away from taking the time to explain these delicate situations to your children.  Understanding why people may be different breeds acceptance.    

 

I know every parent has been embarrassed by something their child has said in public.  What is the most embarrassing thing your child has said and how did you handle it?

Comments: 5

Esmeralda

April 04, 2011

There was a little girl that my mom used to baby-sit. Her name was Esmeralda. Her parents were stark atheists. Wanting their daughter to get a good education, they still sent her to private school. Her father did not want her to pray and insisted she was never to participate in prayer with the others at school. Esmeralda obeyed and refused to partake of the morning prayer. One day my mom asked Esmeralda what they said for morning prayers and she confidently answered, "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come..." and she recited the whole prayer verbatim. Let there be no doubt that "repetition is the mother of learning." 

Comments: 3

Children Picking Up Bad Habits: Funny or Embarrassing?

April 11, 2011

Children Picking Up Bad Habits: Funny or Embarrassing?

Think about how much time and energy we invest in teaching our children manners. It is always (or at least always should be) on our minds. As we live our daily lives we are constantly reminding our children to say please & thank you, use a napkin, chew with your mouth closed, leave the room when passing gas and if you accidentally show bad manners at least say excuse me. We say it over and over and over again like an annoying broken record. But this is what it takes to engrain good behaviors.

I am reminded of something my niece would do when she was seven. She picked up this strange habit and I can still visualize her acting it out. Every time a person passed gas, she put her thumb on her forehead, opened her hands wide and wiggled her fingers. It was hilarious at first but then when she did it in public, I would shrink with embarrassment. My whole family worked to break the habit which took way too long to undo. Who taught her this awful habit? How could her good manners be undone so quickly?

 

Moral of the story: Be careful who influences your children. It can be hard to undo the damage.  

Think about how much time and energy we invest in teaching our children manners. It is always (or at least always should be) on our minds. As we live our daily lives we are constantly reminding our children to say please & thank you, use a napkin, chew with your mouth closed, leave the room when passing gas and if you accidentally show bad manners at least say excuse me. We say it over and over and over again like an annoying broken record. But this is what it takes to engrain good behaviors.

I am reminded of something my niece would do when she was seven. She picked up this strange habit and I can still visualize her acting it out. Every time a person passed gas, she put her thumb on her forehead, opened her hands wide and wiggled her fingers. It was hilarious at first but then when she did it in public, I would shrink with embarrassment. My whole family worked to break the habit which took way too long to undo. Who taught her this awful habit? How could her good manners be undone so quickly?

Moral of the story: Be careful who influences your children. It can be hard to undo the damage.  

Comments: 7

Role Playing as a Teaching Strategy

April 14, 2011

Role Playing is a teaching strategy. It works for real life situations, controversial topics and really just about anything that can be acted out.

I was playing with my daughter one afternoon. She wanted me to play with her dollhouse and little people. Not only did she want me to play with her but she also wanted me to come up with the role-playing and character dialogues.  Now I love my daughter and I try to make time to play with her, at least a little bit, every day. This, however, was hard. I found it increasingly difficult to think on her level for an extended period of time…I know you all have been there.  What light and creative way could I teach my daughter lessons at play?  Then it hit me—sitcoms.  I could think of all the things I want to teach her and use silly plots to deliver my point. 

Simply enough use some of the enduring sitcoms of our time like Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm or The Office as a template for your lessons. These funny shows teach social norms. They help us define what is normal and abnormal and show us what is acceptable to others. As an adult we mostly know what is appropriate and that is what makes these sitcoms so funny. A child is still learning.  Knowing right from wrong or what is strange or acceptable behavior can still be somewhat foreign to them.  Use creative play to show the appropriateness, benefits and consequences of certain behaviors and habits.  Your child will listen and enjoy the plot and be impressed with your “borrowed” creativity. They will not even realize they are learning since nothing is aimed directly at them.

Not up to snuff on your sitcom themes?  Use your knowledge of old wives’ tales or even popular fables to teach a lesson.  Whatever your inspiration, exaggerate the consequences for the effects of humor and teaching.  Your children will learn valuable lessons and you will have a lot more fun playing with them.    

Comments: 1

Top 10 Ways to Increase Communication with Children and Family

April 25, 2011

1 Every evening I ask my children to tell me five things about their day. Given open-ended questions, they tell me what was most important to them. I learn facts about their day as well as learn what they value enough to discuss.

 

2 Keep a family journal where people write important events or thoughts. This can be something you only take out on Sunday and have everyone write their highlights for the week or you can have it out daily. My sister and I meet at a beach house once a year with our families and there is always a journal that the owners leave out for the guests to add special memories of the week at their house. I thought this was such a great concept that I have borrowed the idea to use on a more regular basis at home. It helps children practice writing and teaches them to share their ideas. It’s like a private family face book. Keeping separate journals is also a very effective way to communicate with each of your children individually.

 

3 Use family question cards. Michelle Weber sells them in her family enrichment kit. These cards promote discussion at the family dinner table.

 

4 Repeat what you think your child is saying to make sure you understand his point. If you don’t get what your child is saying, give him a chance to explain it better.

 

5 Adjust your nonverbal cues to be more communicative: use good eye contact, get on a child’s level (kneel or sit if necessary), move closer to child, touch shoulder or hand if applicable.

 

6 I know this will sound a little extreme, so only use it in cases of communication problems. Tape your conversations so you can reflect on the information shared. Sometimes a conversation gets too confusing or too heated to share information properly. Reflecting over the words spoken will give both parties a better understanding of the other person’s perspective.

 

7 LISTEN, LISTEN AND LISTEN…then jot down information about your child that you think you might forget. From my experience, children will tell you more if they know you are listening and remembering.

 

8 Be supportive. Avoid being judgmental or lecturing. I find that I hold back my advice unless my child asks me. Then I write down my concerns for a later discussion. I don’t want my child to associate "opening up" with a negative response from me.

 

9 Reward your child for communicating with you. Sometimes a simple "thank you" is enough. This reinforcement will increase the likelihood of a child communicating more frequently.

 

10 Be available to your child. This will increase the likelihood that you are there when the child has something important to say. 

Comments: 3

Top Ten Back To School Things To Do

August 19, 2011

My children are starting school soon and I’m planning every detail of our morning, pick-up, after school, homework, evening ritual and bedtime. My thinking is to be proactive and plan before hand so the school year starts on a positive note.

Here are some things I put on my “to do” list

  1. Get school supplies. Most school websites have a list and some office supply stores carry lists for the neighborhood schools.
  2. Schedule the flu shot for yourself and the kids.
  3. Review bus, class, and bell schedules, as well as school policies. 
  4. Research and plan for extracurricular activities for children if it’s applicable.
  5. Plan an approach to getting children to sleep at the proper time. My girls have been staying up too late. I plan to  gradually set their bedtime earlier over a period of two weeks so they acclimate to their new schedule.
  6. Discuss the following issues: bullying, making friends, the value of education & learning, and finally the importance of good communication.  Let them know you are always ready to listen and be available to them. 
  7. If you children are new to the school, let them tour the school and meet their teacher. If your school has a social event, attend.
  8. Clothes shopping if necessary.
  9. Help children get and stay organized.  Provide a designated area of your house for homework and storing school materials.
  10. Prepare a list of healthy lunch choices in advance. This will make shopping and planning easier. 
Comments: 3

Back To School - Part II

August 23, 2011

These are my first five safety tips for Back To School.

  1. Children should have their home address and phone number memorized
  2. For extra assurance, keep a note in children’s bags containing their home address and phone number.
  3. Keep your children’s names off their backpacks, jewelry, and clothing. If a stranger sees their name, he could use the information to manipulate children into thinking they know the stranger.
  4. Children should memorize their bus number if they take the bus. For children who walk to school, remind them to avoid talking to strangers. For more safety tips on traveling to and from school, go to http://www.rd.com/family/back-to-school-safety-tips/
  5. Keep backpacks as light as possible so children don’t injure their backs from carrying heavy loads

Here are additional Back To School issues discussed in the following articles:

http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Back_to_School.shtml

http://safekids.org/safety-basics/safety-spotlight/back-to-school-safety/

http://www.nsc.org/safety_home/SafetyObservances/Pages/BackToSchoolSafety.aspx

This site has great tips on how to deal with bullies. Scroll down the page to find these tips at  http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/augschool.cfm

RESPECT

August 29, 2011

Here are my top ten habits to gain children’s respect.

  1. Let children know you care about them
  2. Have age-appropriate and realistic expectations of children.
  3. Show consideration and respect to children. They will return what is modeled.
  4. Do admit and apologize if you have done something wrong.
  5. Have fun every day.
  6. Avoid comparing children.
  7. Avoid discussing children’s misdeeds with other children.
  8. Discipline in a way that is consistent and fair.
  9. Make sure children really understand why they are being punished.  Give children a chance to explain their part if necessary.  
  10. Avoid threats and follow through on consequences.
Comments: 1

Accountability

September 07, 2011

I have been a stay-at-home, work-from-home mom for over seven years.  This is my first year back in the classroom and my daughters go to school.   Our mornings are busy and rushed but we are getting acclimated to our new schedules.  The checklist shown below is how I make my daughters accountable for getting themselves ready.  Try it.  It really works!

Stay tuned for more ideas on how to make your children accountable.  Coming Tuesday, September 13!

 

 

Comments: 2
 
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