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7 Tips to Successfully Introduce the New Puppy to Your Young Children

Came across this gem today as I was posting articles to Pinterest. As a dog owner and advocate of the family pet, I really liked how the author talked about meeting the dog’s needs as well as the kids’ benefit to helping with the new pet, like reading books, keeping the area free of debris, taking turns, assigning chores, etc. I read lots of good articles about this topic but this one jumped out at me as one that really thoughtfully summed up the steps to take and the reality of having puppies and kids.

Enjoy,

Katherine

 

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What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents

A teacher friend of mine posted this article on Facebook.  I really liked how it played out situations that happen too often in parent-teacher conversations.  The best take away advice I got from this article,”We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don’t fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer.”

Have you had conversations like this regarding your child?  How did you resolve the issues with the teacher?  How did you come to terms about your child’s behavior?  Do you have a partnership with your child’s teacher and school.  Chime in and let me know.

- Katherine

 

Keeping Rules and Expectations Consistent when you have Guests

Note:  This week I will be re-posting an earlier blog.  I feel that the topics covered will especially help families during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Good Afternoon,

Today I will be talking about hosting guests at your house.  I remember when I was growing up…if we were bad under normal circumstances, we would get the “usual” punishment, but if we were bad when we had guests or were guests, the punishment was so much worse.  I knew the second my mom made “that face…” I was doomed.  I am laughing as I write this, just thinking about my parents and how mean I thought they were.  A little fun turned into a lot of trouble pretty quickly.

Below are some basics for preparing your kids to host guests, whether it be their friends, out-of-town family, or your boss.  The ideas here cover families with kids ranging from toddler to school age.  Use the ideas that best apply to your family.  While I understand that you have had guests in your home before now, a quick reminder is always nice on how to handle talking with your kids about hosting guests.  If you are struggling in this area, now is the perfect time to institute some of the below before the holidays.

Communication
Obviously you want to let your children know that you are having guests.  Start by telling them who is coming.  If it is someone they do not know, tell them how you know this person.  Talk to them about what it means to have guests.  This means talking about the expectations of their behavior, including how they act, where they play, and what they say.  If there are other kids coming remind them of the importance of sharing their toys.  Give them feedback throughout the evening about how they are doing.

Consistency
If you have followed this blog at all you should by now see a common theme: consistency.  Above all else, the rules should not change no matter what.  It ultimately does not matter who is at your house.  If your kids break the rules, follow through with the usual punishment.  Many parents, like mine, even increase the punishment when there are guests at the house.  Ultimately, you want for people to feel welcomed and safe in your home.  Keeping the same high expectations for behavior lets your children know that they cannot get away with unacceptable behavior when guests are over.  I have turned down a few invitations to homes where I know that the kids are wild and the parents do nothing about it.

Involvement
As always, get your kids involved in preparations for guests.  If you are hosting out-of-town guests have them help clean rooms, make beds, and prepare meals.  Kids love to show off their artwork.  To keep them busy while you get ready, have them create pictures and clay sculptures to show off or give to your guests.

Guests come to your house to see you and your family.  Make it easy for them during their visit by keeping routines and rules consistent.  Talk with your kids before, during, and after, and give them feedback on how they did.  Throw in special treats if they met or exceeded your expectations.  Always involve them from start to finish.  If they know the plan and how they fit in, they will have a great chance to live up to your expectations.

I am certain that all of you reading this will either have guests or be a guest this holiday season.  Have fun!

If you found this blog helpful please subscribe/like/re-tweet/share it.  I have also added lots of good pins to my Pinterest boards, so check them out too.

Good Luck,

Katherine

When Your Child Lies

Good Morning,

At some point in life everyone has lied.  It doesn’t matter who you lied to or what you lied about, the fact is we have all done it.  Maybe we lied out of fear?  Maybe we got away with a lie and felt that it was a good way to handle a stressful situation.  Kids lie about all sorts of things.  For most kids lying is like a coat that they try on and take off when it doesn’t fit.  For others it becomes more of a lifestyle.  How do we get kids to stop lying, while simultaneously building a trusting relationship where they feel secure in their actions and words?

Over the past few weeks I have followed other bloggers and family professionals.   I would like to showcase some of their ideas as they relate to this blog and the families that I professionally support. I feel that their work goes hand in hand with my own and that they bring clarity to specific situations while offering concise strategies.

Dr. Bryan Post of the Post Institute has worked with families that have adopted children from abused and neglected situations.  His breakdown of why kids lie and how to handle a situation is very closely related to my own thoughts and process.

  • Kids often lie because they feel stress, fear, confusion, or are overwhelmed
  • Look to the emotion behind the lie to determine the cause
  • When you determine the underlying emotion you can ignore the lie and help the child deal with the emotion
  • When a child lies, check your own level of stress to handle the situation calmly and effectively
  • The goal is to build a trusting and secure relationship where your child feels that they do not ever have to lie

What to do when you are in the situation

  1. Check your stress level: are you able to approach your child in a calm and controlled way?
  2. Approach your child and let them know that everything is going to be ok and things will work out.
  3. Walk away and give your child some space.  Allow them to process your words and body language.
  4. Come back to them after some time and let them know that it hurts you when they lie.  Tell them that they can always trust you and that their safety and well-being is your priority.
  5. Let it rest.

There is no need to bring up the lie, because it doesn’t matter what they lied about.  Becoming upset about the lie teaches your child to become a better liar.  What matters is that your child knows that they can come to you when they are feeling stressed, sad, angry, overwhelmed, etc., and that you will help them through their emotions.

This video by Bryan Post plays out this situation and shows you how to approach your child when they lie.  If you have caught your child in this situation, it is worth taking a look.

As you may have noticed I will be cutting down on the number of posts per week.  I would like to spend less time blogging and more time with my clients.  As always, if you would like my support or strategies for a handling a difficult situation please contact me directly.

Good Luck,

Katherine

 

Kids and Chores

Good Morning,

Whether you stay-at-home or are a working parent, it is nearly impossible to keep all aspects of family and life moving in the right direction.  The picture that comes to mind is that of a juggler trying to keep the balls in the air.  The more balls they add to the mix, the harder it is for them to keep track of and anticipate their next move.  I think many parents can relate to a juggler.

Personally, the first thing left undone when I have too much on my plate is housework.  I tell myself that I will do it after work or put in a little extra time on the weekend, but I never seem to get ahead of the mess.  Many of my clients look forward to the day that their children are old enough to help around the house.

I would like to suggest some ideas to consider regarding chores, and give some tips on getting your kids involved when it comes to housework.

Things to Think About

  • Are the jobs appropriate for your child’s age, ability, and free time?
  • Will they receive incentives for helping around the house?
  • How often are the jobs performed?  How much of a reward do you provide?
  • What lessons do you want them to learn?
  • What priority do you assign to chores?  Kids are juggling school, sports, and family commitments…
  • Will there be consequences for not doing chores or performing poorly?

Chores are a great way for kids to feel helpful around the house and take part as a responsible family member.  It also teaches teamwork and allows them to see how they affect the bigger picture.  Present the idea of chores early in life, when helping mom and dad is still seen as a positive treat.  Proffering rewards for help is up to you.  If you are planning on rewarding chores, below are a few ideas other than money.

  • Earning playdates with friends
  • Special outings for ice cream, movies, shopping, etc.
  • Additional free time with an activity of their choice
  • Staying up late
  • Sleeping in
  • Picking special breakfast, lunch, or dinner foods
  • One-on-one time with a person of their choosing
  • They get to pick the next week’s chores

Expecting kids to pitch in and help around the house is very appropriate.  How or if you choose to reward them is up to you.  Both systems work well, as long as you keep the rules and expectations consistent and fair.  If you are starting a new system and your kids are old enough, invite them to take part in the conversation and give their ideas for handling chores.

Sites with great chores lists:
Toddler Chore Chart

Chore Chart for Multiple Children

If you found this blog helpful please “like” us on Facebook!

Good Luck,

Katherine

 

Classifying Consequences

Good Morning,

I was explaining different types of consequences to a client the other day and thought that it might be helpful to take a step back and give some definitions and examples.  A consequence is the result of something that happened earlier.  In the case of children it is usually the result of a behavior and seen as a negative result.  There are two main types of consequences, natural and logical.  Here are explanations of both and ways to make them work.

Natural consequences- you go out into the rain and get wet

  • Once you’ve stated the consequence do not rescue the child
  • Allow your child to experience their choices, safely
  • After the situation talk with your child about making a different and better decision the next time and what that looks like

Logical consequences- ones we create e.g.: if, then.

  • Positive logical – if you get these toys picked up quickly, we can have more time to play
  • Negative logical – if you don’t pick these toys up, I am going to put them away for a few days
  • Make sure the consequence is related to the child’s behavior and their actions
  • Be as immediate as possible
  • Match the intensity of the consequence to the intensity of the behavior

Allow your child to take responsibility for their actions and learn from them.  Talk about ideas to help the situation ahead of time, like a checklist.  Make the consequence something that YOU can follow through with.  This takes time as well as practice, so be patient with yourself and your child.

Sites to check out:
Natural and Logical Consequences

The Natural Child Project

Why You Should Let Your Child Fail

If you found this information helpful please subscribe/like/tweet/pass on.

Good Luck,

Katherine

 

Tech Gadgets and Kids

Good Morning,

Holiday shopping has begun and the most popular gifts are always the newest tech gadgets.  Electronic games and portable players are on the top of most kid’s wish lists.  While tech toys and games are commonplace among children, you need to manage a balance between face time and tech time.  How do you find time and enforce this balance?

Many parents use portable games to ease their child’s boredom and keep their behavior in check.  I agree that for situations when you expect a kid to sit and behave for an extended period of time, like on an airplane, a game or movie is nice to have.  At other times, when a conversation or family time is the goal, leave electronic games and devices at home.

Keep control over tech devices by:

  • Starting with a plan that the family follows.
  • Determining when you want to allow kids to have tech devices and gadgets.  Stay consistent.  Put these times on your daily calendar/schedule where kids can see them.
  • Using gadgets as an incentive for kids when traveling.
  • Never replacing good parenting with tech gadgets. Gadgets should not be present at the table or any other family gathering.
  • Taking gadgets away as a disciplinary method if behavior needs to improve or if grades drop.
  • Keeping the conversation going about tech use and expectations.  Consistency and control are key here.
  • Purchasing age appropriate tech gadgets for your children.
  • Talk to your kids about internet safety and online use.

If you have not had a conversation with your family and partner about tech use, now is the time.  Don’t let your kids’ lives be run by their phones, gaming devices or iPods.  Remember that you are the authority and should always be the gate-keeper for more or less time with their tech gadgets.

Sites to check out:
Technology and Our Kids with Jennifer Jolly
(video)
Kids and Tech: How Much is Too Much?

A Study on Media Usage and Kids from Kaiser Family Foundation

Antisocial Networking?

If you have found this information helpful please subscribe/like/tweet/pass on.

Good Luck,

Katherine

Discipline and School Age Children

Parayar School Children

Image via Wikipedia

Good Morning,

A few weeks ago I blogged about having a conversation regarding discipline.  This dialogue can occur at any point in your kid’s life, and will likely happen multiple times throughout childhood.  Discipline should change as your child does.  As they begin making more mature decisions, they will be capable of having a more mature relationship that hopefully entails less discipline.  If you have been consistent with your discipline methods to this point, chances are good that you have established good patterns of communication and discipline with your child.  Their behavior changes when they hit school age.  Toddlers tantrum, while older kids slam doors, lock themselves in their rooms, give the silent treatment, and talk back.

Now is a good time for you to evaluate your discipline methods and make sure they fit the crime as well as your child’s personality.  The line between too little and too much is very thin and is worth some extra thought and effort.  Because school-age children are able to think for themselves, they should.  Many times, discipline measures take place because they have not thought about the long-term consequences of their actions.  At this point in their lives they are becoming young adults and the decisions they make are more permanent.

Take a look at what has worked in the past and revamp those methods.  Many methods that work for toddlers simply need tweaking to fit an older child.  Did the time out method work for you in the past?  This same idea plays out when a child has to miss an event with their friends.  Grounding a child is merely a slightly evolved manifestation of a time out.

By this age they are probably involved in extra-curricular activities such as sports, music, and the arts.  Schedule their days such that there is little or no room for trouble.  They should still have free time to do what they want, but their days should be pretty full between school, activities, homework, and family.  If you are running into problems with behavior, one potential solution involves increasing their activity level.

Another way to fit the discipline method to your child is to look at what they really enjoy doing.  The take away method has been around forever and is very effective.  Do they love sports, hanging out with their friends, or tech gadgets?  If you have invested money in these things, e.g. you have paid for sports teams, have them work to pay you back.  Hard work is also a great form of discipline.  Did they cost you time or money with their misdeeds or carelessness?  The punishment can fit the crime.

Another way to employee this method is to have them choose the consequence.  Many times kids are harder on themselves than we are.  If they choose to have something taken away for a specified period of time, they are more invested in the result.  This is another form of the idea that when you buy something with your own money, it is more valuable.  Respect your child’s choice and stick with it.  Let them know that you appreciate their involvement in their consequences.

Ultimately, the idea is to teach your children that the choices they make have consequences.  When kids are young, the most important thing to teach them is that they must listen to you for their safety and that they must depend on you for their survival.  As children mature they are able to do more for themselves.  They may not need you to feed them or keep them from running into the street.  Therefore you need to change your behavior to match theirs.  Change the discipline to match the lesson you are trying to teach.

If you have not been spending as much one-on-one time with your kids as you would like, now is the time to fit that in.  It is exceedingly valuable to know your kids at these times and allow yourself to see them as young adults and kids, not babies.  Ask them questions, tell jokes or stories, and interact any way that comes naturally.  This one action will cut down on discipline more than anything else.

Go with what works for you and your kids.  If you are struggling with discipline, change methods or seek help.  Asking teachers, doctors, counselors, and family coaches are a great way to implement some new strategies.  It is important that you stay in control of your child as they learn to make good decisions for themselves.

Sites to take a look at:

Discipline:  A Parent’s Guide for School Age Children
Discipline:  Teaching School Age Children Social Skills

Age-Appropriate Discipline Techniques

If you found this blog helpful, please subscribe/like/tweet/share.

Good Luck,

Katherine

Time Out Method for Kids

fearfull and crying child before dental treatment

Image via Wikipedia

Good Morning,

For many parents, one of the most difficult days experienced is the day they realize that they need to start a more structured, more serious discipline plan.  As I mentioned a few days ago, it is important that you and your partner go into a discipline plan with a method that you have agreed upon.  Tailor your plan to your child’s needs and be sure both of you are able to consistently enforce the plan.

There are numerous discipline plans.  Today I am focusing on the time-out method.  I have always liked and followed the plan offered by Love and Logic.  Today, I aim to give you the best parts of their method in addition to adding some strategies of my own.  I believe that this method is very effective if you remain consistent.

Follow the below steps when using the time-out method of discipline:

  1. Communicate with your child that you will be using a new plan starting today.  Let them know that when they make a bad decision you are going to put this plan into action.
  2. Designate a cue word or phrase.  I like to use the word “bummer.”  I simply say the word “bummer, ” and they know that they are going to time-out and that they have made a bad decision.
  3. Remove your child from the situation.  Designate a place in your home, like their bedroom, or a corner for them to sit in.  If you are out of your house, simply remove them from the situation where they cannot be distracted by their friends.  Allow your child to sit alone for a few minutes.  If they are throwing a tantrum, let them work it out on their own.  It is very normal for them to be angry at themselves for making a bad decision.  Calmly and authoritatively escort them to the designated area and leave them for a few minutes.
  4. Allow them to sit and calm down or think for a few minutes.  Do not let them get up or leave this area until you let them.  You may need to close the door and keep it closed by force (if necessary).  Do not talk to them or interact with them in any way until they are out of time-out.
  5. When you are both calm, open the door and have a quick chat about the situation and why they were in time-out.  “It is dangerous when…,”  “It is never acceptable to hit/kick our friends,”  “I need you to listen to me the first time I ask you to…”  Tell them what response you expect in a situation, and ask them if they would like to try it again.
  6. Finish with some positive words.  Tell them that you know they will make a different/better decision next time, or that you love them no matter what and will always help them in stressful times.  Let them know that you care about them and their well-being and move on.
  7. Allow them to make the situation right.  They can clean up a mess, apologize to a friend, show you that they know what to do.  When they make the right decision, praise them.

Other tips to make it work

  • Act immediately upon the situation.  Do not wait until you get home or until there is someone else to enforce the punishment
  • Use the time when your child is in time-out to regroup and calm down.  A child’s misbehavior is equally frustrating for the parents.  Give yourself a chance to make the best decisions for your child in a calm and controlled way.
  • If you choose to give a warning, stick with it.  No discipline method will work if you are not serious about acting upon your words.  I think it is great to allow your child to make a good decision right then, but if they do not, stick with the plan.

Give your child a structured and controlled environment to live in.  For many kids, guesswork leads to mistakes.  As their environment and decisions become better-defined, their behavior improves.  If you provide well-established boundaries as well as the consequences for straying outside the lines, they are more likely to choose to stay within those lines.

More information regarding the time-out method of discipline:

The history of this method at Wikipedia
Easy to follow plan from the University of Minnesota
The Center for Effective Parenting has a ton of information
Time-in or Time-out at WebMD

If you found these tips helpful please subscribe/like/pass along this blog!

Good Luck,

Katherine

The Joy of Siblings

Two Sisters

Image via Wikipedia

Good Morning,

As a child growing up with siblings, I am not sure how we all made it to adulthood.  There were a few fights that I felt lucky to survive.  While there is some hyperbole here, this is a common sentiment for most people with siblings.  It always seemed that my only-child friends were the lucky ones.  They got all the attention, all the presents around the holidays and did not have to share anything.

My sister has been a major part of the best times of my life as well as an accomplice in the worst decisions of my life.  I am lucky to have her even though I didn’t always think that way.  At times, I know that my parents struggled to treat us equally while encouraging our individuality.  It is not easy being a parent in any circumstance.  Below are some strategies for keeping the peace while maintaining equal and unique relationships with each of your children.

Give each child their own space
Provide a room for each child or a spot in a shared room that is all their own.  It is important that kids have a place where they can go to get away from the rest of the family.  Let them keep some personal possessions there.  Do not let other siblings bother this space, and be sure to treat it with respect.

All kids are equal but not the same
Allow each child to share their strengths with the family.  Foster individuality and self-worth by encouraging each child to seek out and pursue their own interests.  Also, each child may not need the same type or amount of discipline.  Act upon your knowledge of each child in order to tailor your behavior and discipline methods for each.

Model the behavior you would like to see in them
It is absolutely essential to insist on good communication and the respectful treatment of each other from your kids.  Model this behavior by communicating with them and your spouse in a mature way.  Not only should you ask this of them, you should be sure you show this to them.

When to jump in and when to stay out
For many parents with multiple children, the yelling, bickering, hitting, and general fighting can get old.  Help kids by giving them an opportunity to work things out themselves.  Encourage them to talk it out or separate themselves.  Verbally encourage them to do this.  If they cannot work it out or they get physical with each other, step in and mediate or provide discipline.  They should never be allowed to physically fight without consequences.  If you wouldn’t allow your child to hit, kick, bite or hurt another child, you need to maintain consistency when they engage in this type of behavior with their siblings.

What is good for one may not be good for all
Disciplining all kids due to the behavior of one creates undue anger and resentment between siblings.  If one child is not able to behave properly, remove them from the situation or keep them from the event.  Unfortunately, this is not always possible.  If one of your children misbehaves and you are by yourself, my advice is to go home and put the offender in their room while you create a fun activity or treat for the other one.  Don’t allow the well-behaved child to brag or tease the offender.

Take time alone with each child
A few weeks ago I wrote about the importance of spending one-on-one time with your kids.  This can be a reward and it can also be a time for you to catch up.  It is extremely important for each of your children to get your undivided attention now and then.  Special dates should be put on the calendar and honored as you would any other appointment.

Having siblings and creating good relationships with them is one of life’s greatest gifts.  Help your kids get past sibling rivalry while forging a meaningful relationship.  It takes time and energy, but is well worth it.

For more help dealing with siblings check out these sites:

Girlie’s Blog has way to reduce sibling rivalry
Great post over at Simple Kids
Suite 101 gives some ideas about Fostering Sibling Love

Good Luck,

Katherine