Do you have any idea on how much information there is on the internet telling you ‘how to be a mom’?
I realized that I was going round and round and deeper and deeper into the realms of the internet while I was thinking about what to write. I began to be overloaded and confused. What seemed to be such a simple task became overwhelming with so much information.
Isn’t that what being a mom ends up being? A seemingly simple parenting task can become overwhelming because of information from so many places and sources.
So what do we do? Here’s what I did. Pushed my chair back from the computer. Picked up the picture of my girls on my desk. Smiled. Took a deep breath. Deleted my search engines. And went back to the place I knew research was solid and strong. www.extension.org And then I started again.
Sometimes as parents we have to remember that we need a strong foundation of one or two credible resources instead of a whole ‘favorites’ list of lots of opinions. I hope you enjoy searching the eXtension website as much as I did!
education, mother, parenting, Uncategorized
Admittedly I am going to be completely biased on this topic However, I am including the research information so you can look for yourself.
I LOVE pets. All kinds of pets. Lots of different pets. I have had – fish, dogs, cats, spiders, mice, hamsters, rabbits and I’m really trying to convince myself I need a horse! Now I haven’t had them all at the same time nor would I recomend it! But having a pet does have some very important benefits.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry lists several benefits. They state:
“Children raised with pets show many benefits. Developing positive feelings about pets can contribute to a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Positive relationships with pets can aid in the development of trusting relationships with others. A good relationship with a pet can also help in developing non-verbal communication, compassion, and empathy.” Facts for Families: Children and Pets
How have pets enhanced your children’s lives? What have they learned from them? Share with us!
I considered myself a lucky kid. I grew up on a farm with lots of space for animals. Pets were just a normal part of life. The fish, turtles, and hamsters shared our home. The cats occupied the back steps while the chickens and dogs roamed the yard. They were our companions and playmates. It was never a question if we were old enough to have a pet; they just kept coming!
But for most parents these days, the question of when to get a child a pet is worth some discussion. One point for consideration is what is your purpose for having the pet. Is it for companionship and play? Or do you want your child to take responsibility for part or all of it’s care?
Let’s start at the beginning. Babies aren’t old enough to handle or take care of pets. Toddlers want to touch and grab pets. As the kids grow into the preschool age years, they are able to better understand how to handle a pet and fill the water and food dishes. I suspect that the “I wanna dog” (or whatever) gene really kicks in during the elementary years.
The good news is that school-age kids are old enough to assume some pet chores and can play with the pets responsibly. The bad news is that this age children may have short attention spans and change their minds often. So that dog wanted now may be not so much fun three months later. Preteens and teens have the capabilities to be responsible. But they are also getting into the “busy” years and pets will have to compete for their time.
No matter your decision as to when to add a pet to your family, realize that as the parent you have the final responsbility for its care and well-being.
Note: Check out the ASPCA web site for some good thoughts about the right pet for your child’s age.
Of course kids get angry. Parents get angry. I get that and know what to do to help children learn to express anger in appropriate ways. But when should we get concerned that there is more to it – that a child might have anger issues.
Here’s a list of warning signs. If your child exhibits several of these behaviors for at least 6 months, it’s time to take action.
- frequently loses temper
- defies or refuses to follow adult rules
- is touchy, easily angered
- often annoys and upsets people on purpose
- often bullies, threatens or scares others
- often starts physical fights
- is physically cruel to people or animals
- is often spiteful or wants revenge
- purposely damages people’s things
If you think there could be a problem, talk to a professional. Make an appointment with a mental health professional, doctor, school nurse, or school counselor. They can do an evaluation and determine is there is a problem. And together you can decide on any needed action or treatment options.
bullying, social-emotional, Uncategorized
“Don’t talk to me that way.” “Quit slamming the door.” Isn’t it amazing how the first words that often come out of a parent’s mouth is a description of what our kids are doing wrong. Then we threaten and soon we’re in the middle of an argument. Taken too far, we may resort to harsh punishment like a slap to the face or a spanking. Later when we cool down, we may realize that nothing was learned and the same problem is apt to happen again and again.
This is where discipline enters the picture. When we want to change behavior, we need to do more than describe what kids are doing wrong. We have to name specifically what we want them to do. Kids do better when we use positives. Here are three simple examples.
- “Don’t slam the door.” — “Please shut the door quietly.”
- “Don’t yell at your sister.” — “Talk to your sister in a pleasant voice.”
- “Don’t be late tonight.” — “Be home by your 10:30 curfew.”
Some parents find they can improve problems with their kids by helping them earn privileges and rewards. This is kind of like the flip side of giving penalties when kids misbehave. It goes like this: instead of grounding your teen for getting home late, you extend her curfew 15 minutes if she gets home on time for two weekends. Or if you son eats what is served for supper during the week, he gets to choose what’s for supper on Friday night.
Your child needs to help decide what the privilege will be. And it shouldn’t be something you can’t afford or takes too much time. Obviously it needs to be something your child wants or values and must be something he can earn soon.
So what do you think? Would this work with your kids?
corporal punishment, discipline, spanking, Uncategorized
First we celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends. Everyone is on their best behavior and we return home with full tummies and counting our blessings. Then comes Black Friday! The news will be filled with reports of people pushing and shoving and fighting – all in the name of buying gifts for the holidays. Am I the only one who sees the disconnect?
So parents, think about what you are teaching your children – both in words and actions. The simple niceties – waiting your turn, saying please and thank you, letting someone else go first, being patient, having a sense of humor – are good manners. They are also ways we show respect to other people. And these people are not just our family and friends. The respect is also extended to the tired clerk, the overwrought young mother, the waiter working extended hours, and the mall police person. If we stop and think for just a minute we can empathize what it is like to be in their shoes. We can appreciate the work they are doing and how it impacts our lives.
During the craziness that can bubble over this holiday season, lead by example. A smile and a kind word will make everyone feel better. And while you’re teaching your children, you are also teaching other adults that manners, empathy, and respect are important in a civilized society.
positive parenting, social-emotional, Uncategorized
Teach children manners and they’re more likely to grow up to be respectful and develop empathy for others. Join us in Novembas we focus on offering tips to helg children learn manners and how they connection to respect and empathy.
Listen to the Podcast here: Teaching Manners Leads to Respect, Empathy
Podcast: Play in new window
We’ve all been there – cheering at the game and having fun watching the kids play. Then somewhere out of the stands comes that loud voice yelling, “What are you thinking, take him out,” or “Ref, how could you miss that call?” Then the tirade continues for the entire game alternately aimed at the coach, kids, and referees or umpires. Embarrassing – yes. Helpful to anyone – no.
I’m going to tackle (ok, its football season) the sensitive topic of adults and sportsmanship. It’s easier and safer to focus on the kids. But the truth is that adults can become overly involved. I am including all adults, not just parents, in this discussion. There’s no age limit, gender, or relationship that precludes an adult from “losing it” at a sporting event.
So what’s an overly involved parent or adult? Here are some questions to ask yourself.
- Do I get in arguments at my child’s sporting event?
- Do I object to calls and possibly cuss at the referees or umpires?
- Do I insist my child go to practice or play in a game even if she is sick or hurt?
- Do I complain to the coach about the amount of my child’s playing time?
- Do I insist my child is much better than others on the team?
- Do I tell or show my child how to play dirty?
- Do I show more approval when my child plays well?
Ok, it’s gut check time. Did any of these questions make you squirm just a little? Did some of them hit close to home? We’re not perfect and it’s easy to get caught up in an intense game.
But remember, as a parent you are ALWAYS a role model for your child. Sports help character development and what are you teaching your child when you lose control of your emotions and actions. What do you do to keep calm at your child’s games?
grandparenting, positive parenting, social-emotional, sports, Uncategorized
You just picked your kid up from volleyball practice or your teen is home from an early morning football scrimmage. With the beginning of a new school year just around the corner, practice for fall sports is already in full swing.
You’re curious about how things are going but Cassie is texting a friend or Jonathon is ready for a shower and nap. What’s a parent to do? How can you be supportive but not overly involved?
Most kids need a little down time after a practice or game. Then over a snack or meal, you can initate a conversation. There’s a great question I found useful with my daughters and I now use with the grandkids.
“What did you work on today?” This question requires more than a “yes, no, or okay.” Let’s say Cassie answers with, “We worked on serving the ball.” Then you can follow up with, “Are you serving better than last year?” And even, “Do you want to practice some after supper? I should be pretty good at serving.”
Encouraging – helpful – appropriate. What great adjectives to describe a sports mom or dad.
What have you found that’s a good conversation starter with your child when it comes to sports practices and games?
positive parenting, raising teens, sports, Uncategorized
The hot weather has sent people scurrying indoors to the AC. It’s just been too uncomfortable to enjoy many of the usual outdoor family fun activities. The temps normally cool down in the evenings so maybe we could look for some fun under the stars.
I remember my mother talking about when she was a child back in the 1930s. It was so unbearably hot in the house that at night they pulled mattresses outside to sleep, hoping for a cool breeze. When our girls were young we laid blankets in the front yard. Then we would stretch out for some rest punctuated by lots of giggles and interesting conversations.
This is a family fun activity that parents and kids of all ages can enjoy. Grab some blankets, cool drinks (maybe even a snack), and head outside. Allow everyone to get situated and then see what happens.
Use this as a chance to talk about the stars. Don’t worry if you’re not up on what is where – there’s an app for that on your computer or smartphone or stop by the library for a book.
As the mood quiets and the night grows deeper, just be present and allow the conversations to go where they may. There is something almost magical about a beautiful summer night that allows people to share their thoughts and feelings.
When was the last time your family spent time under the stars? Why not tonight?
family time, nature, positive parenting, Uncategorized
If you haven’t had a chance to listen to this month’s blog I would highly encourage it. I have placed below a great resource from the eXtension website. Stay tuned for more conversations the rest of this month.
Parenting During and After Divorce
Parents help children adjust to divorce better when they show respect for the fact that the child is now a member of two families.
Parenting through and after divorce is different than parenting when both adults are in the home. Normal parenting challenges become harder during this time. Life is thrown out of balance. Parents and children may experience feelings of stress, loss, guilt, and/or anger. Most family members overcome this stressful event, but the process takes time.
Parenting Behaviors that Help and Hurt
Making the transition through divorce is easier for the child when parents look at things through the child’s eyes. It’s important to remember that the child is now a member of two families.
Children do better when they are able to maintain their relationships with both parents (when it is safe for them to do so).
Children whose parents have a lot of conflict after the divorce have the hardest time. Parents can support their children best by keeping their arguments private, away from where children can hear them. This includes phone conversations.
Experiencing negative emotions about the other parent is normal. But it’s important to avoid making negative comments about the other parent in front of the child. Children often feel a negative comment about the other parent reflects on them. After all, half of their DNA is from that parent! If a parent needs to vent, a good strategy is to seek support from another understanding adult.
For the rest of the article click below…
divorce, social-emotional, Uncategorized
Or is it – I WANT it? For many of us, spending is the fun part of having money. Sometimes we do a good job of making spending decisions and other times, we probably could do better.
Our kids are no different. It’s hard for them to understand what you’re talking about when you start sharing ideas about making decisions. But what they will catch on to is how you make your choices.
So – listen to yourself. How often do you say, “I need this _____” when really you are saying, “I want ________”? All of us have lots of needs and wants. And young kids are apt to think they need everything and want it right now.
Here are a couple simple definitions for needs and wants.
- Want – something you wish for very much but could live without
- Need – something you have to have to live every day
Usually kids (and us adults) have more wants than needs. Here are four questions I used with my daughters when they wanted to spend money.
- Do I really want it?
- But, do I really need it?
- Can I get along without it?
- How can I pay for it?
Try using these questions when you want to spend money. See if you’re spending your hard earned money on needs or wants. Remember, your child will learn the most by simply watching how you spend your money.
How are you teaching your child the difference between needs and wants?
money, positive parenting, Uncategorized
I’m texting my daughter wondering when she needs me to pick her up. I’m writing my blog on my laptop. And I listened to the podcast on an iPad. Technology is important to me.
I listened with interest to what Dr. Susan Walker and the guys had to say… I was curious. I wanted to know where I fit in. I was hoping they weren’t going to tell me I was too ‘plugged in’. They didn’t. They made me feel like I was using the technology in a way that really supported my parenting. How refreshing for once! Instead of being told it’s too much I was told…think about how you are using it to support your family life in a positive way.
I started to wonder how I would share with you positive impacts it has made on our family… I hesitated to share this particular story but then decided that maybe there was someone else who wants to know if they ‘fit in’….. Technology can help parents find that emotional and social support they need when they have a child with special needs.
My daughter as Aspergers. She has difficulty in social situations. She is disorganized and struggles with self-confidence. She has amazing in-depth thoughts and ideas but struggles to express them verbally. We got her a phone for her 12th birthday. We initially wondered if she would be able to utilize the phone because she is intimidated to talk typically. But we were ‘hopeful’ that she might take to texting.
The child amazed us in a matter of hours. Her texts were stunning. Long full thoughts with CAPITAL letters and EXCLAMATION points!!!! She was thrilled to be able finish her thoughts without losing her confidence like she does when speaking. We were thrilled! And admittedly annoyed when she would correct us or impatiently text again and again waiting for an answer.
Technology supported her in a way we never guessed. The iPad has given her big imagination and a place to listen to/read books, as well a place to create The cell phone has give her a voice. As parents we struggled with the idea of ‘plugging her in’ wondering what others might say because she is 12.
Technology supported our parenting. It supported our child. It’s boundaries are limitless so it is up to us to set boundaries and find boundaries. Make sure that technology does not ‘replace’ your child’s learning but supports it. Also that it is appropriate for your child’s current development. Support groups and websites for parents of children with special needs are a fabulous place to let technology build us up as parents and fill our parenting tool box.
What ways has technology supported you or your family? How have you benefited from getting your family ‘plugged in?
Aspergers, education, positive parenting, social-emotional, special needs, Uncategorized
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…
bullying, education, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional, Uncategorized
As we come into the busy-ness of the holiday season, we asked a special guest blogger (Kristi Cooper) with expertise in stress relieving techniques, to help us share some thoughts with you on how to breathe more through the next couple of months.
I remember being so frustrated at not being able to calm a crying baby that I walked outside and around the house several times before I was calm! Stress levels rise for parents and children for a variety of reasons. Children take their cues from parents and when parents’ are feeling out of control, children will sense the stress and respond with clinginess, crying, and other comfort seeking behaviors. As a young parent, I knew that removing myself and calming down was important. I just wish I had had a few more self-calming tools in my repertoire at the time!
Now I know that some very simple breathing techniques can lower my heart rate and take the stress down a notch! To calm yourself and a child, start by noticing your heart beat. It is probably racing like your child’s! Now take a deep cleansing breath and pay attention to each inhale and exhale, slowing down each exchange for about 10 breaths. To help you pay attention you can silently count to 4 on each inhale and count to 6 on each exhale. This will slow down your breathing and heart rate and bring down your child’s anxiety level at the same time. You can teach your child this technique as well, asking them to imagine their belly as a balloon blowing it up gently on each inhale. On the exhale, they can imagine blowing a cloud across the sky. Pinwheels or blowing bubbles are also good ways for a child to regulate their breath, thus reducing the stress response.
Breathing . . .