Tick tick tick tick tick …this is what I hear in my head this week. The tick tick ticking of 2011. I’m not panicked or frantic. I think just mindful that the year is almost over. Reflective about what I thought the year would bring and what the year did bring. Some good, some not so good. But all of it worth reflecting on.
My favorite thing to is to look back with my family over the goals we had for the year. Yes, we sat down and all wrote out some goals for 2011. We started that about 5-6 years ago – maybe more. We all sit down and come up with something we want to do for ourselves, something we want to do with each other, and some place we want to go. It has been as simple as “I want to learn to ride a bike” and as complex as “I want to go to Disney”. We write them down and then we put them in my ‘To Do’ folder.
Periodically throughout the year I clean than ‘To Do’ folder and remind everyone what their goals were and we think about them, possibly edit them and put them back in the folder. At the end of the year we bring it out reflect on the things we did and didn’t do and then we do it all over again for the next year
You know what? We typically meet a majority of the goals… not all of them by any means… but as a family a good majority are met. And most of the time we did it without even trying. Isn’t that crazy?! Funny thing about goals is that if you write them down and date them they suddenly have the possibility of becoming reality. Even the trip to Disney happened!
What does your family do at the end of year? Do you create goals? Do you have traditions that help you celebrate the past year and welcome in the new?
During the holiday season, watch for signs of stress in your children. It can be a time of too little sleep and quiet moments and too much excitement, activity, and food. Is it any wonder the tears and tantrums come easily? No, I’m not talking about you – I’m thinking about the children. So here are five things I’ve found that children need during the holidays.
Children need consistency. Keep bedtime rituals like stories and games. Spend time cuddling on the couch. Extra hugs are in order. If you are away from home during the holidays, pack a special blankie, pillow, or stuffed toy that is a visible reminder of sameness. Children may have trouble sleeping after a big day so having a little gift or treat can help ease them into bedtime.
Children like to be part of what is happening. The “getting to help” is more important than the end product. Remind yourself everything doesn’t have to be perfect. Look for things the children can do and don’t get uptight about messy packages or frosting on everything but the cookies.
Children want to know what is going on. Tell them where the family is going, who will be there, what will happen. Take time to talk with them about the holiday rituals your family observes and why these are special to your family.
Children need their space. Too many people can result in overstimulation. That’s when the tears and tantrums start in. The children may not be used to having lots of extra people around or sharing their bedroom with three cousins. Try involving the children in smaller groups of friends or relatives.
Children need some quiet time. Alternate quiet activities with active ones. You can tell when the children are getting too excited, bored, or tired. Then it is time for a story, nap, or just a few minutes together with you in another room.
Now that I read back through what the children need, I’m thinking maybe it does apply to us adults too! How do you help your children enjoy the holidays in a nonstressful way?
The birthday party invitation that never arrived, the whispers by the hallway lockers, the cruel words written on Facebook – it has happened to us and it happens to our children. We know it hurts to be talked about or excluded from groups or activities. Now after listening to the December podcast I have a name to put with this – relational aggression.
Sarah Coyne defines relational aggression as any kind of mean behavior that aims to harm a relationship or the social structure of a group. This includes gossip, spreading rumors, exclusion and so forth. Do you remember the chant – sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never harm me? Well, wrong! Relational aggression can be just as harmful as physical aggression. The pain can linger and even last for years. I can remember incidents from my teen and college years and suspect you can also.
I think a place for parents to start is by being proactive. You don’t want your child to be aggressive in this way and you don’t want your child to be hurt by relational aggression. Sarah talked about three things that parents need to address – and you may not like these.
Really pay attention to what you and your child watch on TV. Reality shows are popular but research points to the relational aggression that is so common. Being mean is shown in a glamorous way for someone to “win” or become popular.
Next take a look at yourself. How do you interact with other adults in your home? What does your child hear and see? Does she hear you talking “mean” to each other? Does he hear you gossiping or making snide remarks about people? Children model what they see in the home.
Then tune in to your child’s group of friends. Is it a group of kids that practice relational aggression? Are they children with low self-esteem or do they think they are “hot stuff”? Either way, help your child learn how to stand up to the mean behavior.
Ok – I realize I just gave you three things to give your attention to and none are easy. But we are talking about the pain that results from girls and boys being mean to each other. It is worth the effort to help children learn a better way of treating people. I, for one, would like to live in a world with a few less relational aggressive adults!
Listening to the podcast and reading the blog I wanted to make sure that we had more opportunity to really think about the thoughts and ideas presented so I am bringing back Donna’s 3 points. Again – you may not necessarily like these suggestions but I want to dive in a little deeper…
- Really pay attention to what you and your child watch on TV. Reality shows are popular but research points to the fact relational aggression on these shows far too common. Being mean is shown in a glamorous way for someone to “win” or become popular.
- Next take a look at yourself. How do you interact with other adults in your home? What does your child hear and see? Does she hear you talking “mean” to each other? Does he hear you gossiping or making snide remarks about people? Children model what they see in the home.
- Tune in to your child’s group of friends. Is it a group of kids that practice relational aggression? Are they children with low self-esteem or do they think they are “hot stuff”? Either way, help your child learn how to stand up to the mean behavior.
When you look at these suggestions and watch the children around you (yours or others) what are examples that you may have seen (in your children or others’ children) that show these points to be true?
How have you seen acts of relational aggression handled in a way that positively impacted the situation?
We may decide to blog about this topic all month if you would like…
Kids can be mean — whether on the elementary school playground or in the middle school hallway or high school cafeteria. Learn how parents can deal with this meanness, called relational aggression, in this month’s Science of Parenting podcast.
From the Ophelia Project
Learn more about Sarah Coyne: http://fhssfaculty.byu.edu/Pages/smcoyne.aspx
Learn more about Sarah Coyne’s research:
Additional links to be posted with the news release
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