Thursday, July 8, 2010

Testing 1, 2, 3

Is this a test?! Something to remember about a child that likes to test you, push your buttons, throws gauntlets at you, well that they like to test you, push your buttons, and throw gauntlets at you! And I have one of these types of children in my house!

Just tonight, again with the getting out of bed, throwing toys, turning on the light and turning off the sound machine...and then taking off all her clothes...all to get a reaction out of me. And what did I do? Nothing! I stayed cool, calm and collected. I did take things up a notch and told her (in a cool, calm, collected way) that I won't be opening her door until she picks up all the toys, gets dress, turns the sound on and lights off. And again, she did it right away. The one thing I have learned with testers like this, is that it WILL get worse before it gets better! I promise you that and I have personally experienced the "worse" before the "better". Also it is very, very important to stay consistent and don't forget about being cool, calm and collected!

I think it was in the book "The Well Behaved Child" by John Rosemond (I read so many books that I have a hard time keeping them all straight...) but he actually says not only does it get worse before it gets better. But he says that once things are better for a few days, watch out because your little tester is going to re-test you to see if you pass. And you better pass or you'll be at square one before you even know it! And if you're like me, I rather be moving forward with things than falling backwards!

So watch out if you have a little tester at home and make sure you are passing those tests by staying cool, calm and collected and yes, consistent! The little testers have a way of knowing when you are tired and had an exhausting day and that the last thing you want to be doing is passing their little tests. But the more tests you pass, the less tests you'll have -- in other words, your child will stop testing you because they aren't getting any reactions out of you and what fun is it to test someone who is consistently cool, calm and collected?

Do you have a little tester at home, too? What has seem to work or not work when it comes to passing their tests?

Cool, Calm and Collected

I don't know what the temperature has been like in your area over the past few days, but over here it's been very hot and humid! And honestly I don't do well when its too hot or too humid. All I like to do is laze around, taking things slow and try to be very intentional about what I do. In other words, with the temperatures being so hot, the last thing I want to do is to feel even hotter. I like to try to stay cool, calm and collected!

This made me think about my children and when they do things that make me feel hot...when my blood starts to boil and I can feel the sweat dripping down my face. Okay, maybe its not that bad, but they really do know how to push my buttons sometimes! But there is hope for all of us when it comes to getting hot and bothered by our children's behavior.

A few months back I did a mini teleseminar with Susan from The Confident Mom. (Check out her website at She lead a great series through the book "ScreamFree Parenting" written by Hal Runkel. Basically the whole premise of this book is controlling your own emotions so you can better parent your child. Plus the book provides lots of great tools to help you be that better parent. And with Susan's teleseminar you even get personal Q&A time after each presentation. It was a great month of study and I highly recommend signing up for her class.

My most favorite chapter in the ScreamFree Parenting book was "Resistance is Futile; Practice Judo Parenting". The section on "refusing to pick up the gauntlet" was just wonderful and was much needed information for me. My daughter is a big gauntlet thrower or button pusher or pushing the boundaries. Call it what you like, but these things really make me hot and frustrated! But now I really stop and think and try practicing being calm, cool and collected.

Take the other night for example. My daughter, after specifically being told to be quiet for bed or the door will be shut, decided to push her boundaries and continued to playfully scream and be loud. So I followed through with what I said I was going to do (have I mentioned before the importance of doing what you say you will do? Um, sounds like another post...) and I shut her bedroom door. No sooner was the door shut that she got out of bed (she repeats her bedtime rules before bed, and the first one is "stay in your bed") and she tried to open the door. I know that this is her natural tendency so being prepared (have I mentioned the importance of having a plan...okay, I'll post about that later too!) I was standing on the other side of the door holding onto the door knob so she couldn't open the door. So now comes more gauntlets. She starts screaming. I continue to hold the door shut and I just stay cool, calm and collected. She then turns her bedroom light on and turns her white noise machine off. I stay cool, calm and collected. Then she starts throwing her toys off the table. I continue holding the door shut and continued to stay cool, calm and collected even though inside of me I was wanting to throw open the door and start yelling at her for her behavior and for not throwing toys and to get back into bed - but then who's being the one out of control and now being the child?! So, I stayed cool, calm and collective...Finally, she calmed done and it was quite. I calmly opened the door and in my most cool and calm voice, I said to her "Anna, pick up those off the floor." And guess what, she did it right away. She did it because I was being cool, calm and collected. If I came in there like some crazy lady yelling and screaming out orders, she most likely wouldn't have listened to me. I mean seriously, would you do what a crazy lady was yelling and screaming at you to do? Then I calmly told her to turn her white noise machine back on and turn her bedroom light off. Right away she did it. And then finally I calmly told her to climb back into bed and pull her covers back on (this is another HUGE gauntlet we have worked on and occasionally she likes to test where we stand...) and to stay there until her blue star goes off (see previous post on our "magic blue star").

In the end, I didn't get hot and my blood didn't boil because I choose to stay cool, calm and collected. I felt good about myself that I remained the one in control. One of my favorite saying from the ScreamFree Parenting book was "if you're not under control, then you cannot be in charge". In other words, you need to be cool, calm and collected to be in charge! So remember that next time your blood starts to boil and you feel the sweat dripping from your forehead - just take a deep breath and repeat "I am cool, calm and collected" then follow through with being that cool and calm and collected mom our children truly need! If I can do it, you can do it too!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Training Time Tuesday: coming when name is called

Hi Everyone -- I'm starting a new bi-weekly series called "Training Time Tuesday" where every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month, I'll feature a quick and easy training time tool you can practice with your children during non-conflict times. In other words, take some time during the day when everyone is in a great mood (even for you mom!) and practice some of these tools with your children. You'll be amazed at the results you will see!

Do your kids run the other way when you call their names? When it's time to leave the playground do you have to call your child's name over and over and over again? Well, practice this great tool and soon you'll be having your child coming to you every time you call their name!

Coming when mommy or daddy call you

Training Time:
Take some time each day or even throughout the day, say 5-10 minutes, practicing this great tool. First start off by telling your children that when Mommy or Daddy call your name, they need to come to where you are at, right away. Stress to your children that you will only call their name one time and that they are to come to you. Make sure that you in fact only call their name one time! Also, make sure when calling their name, you are actually close enough (or loud enough) that they in fact can hear you. After you have explained the expectations, then it's time for training time! Tell your children it's time to practice - or in our house, we actually call it training time! Have your children go to different areas of the house. You stay in a different area then where they are at. Then call your child's name, once, and wait for them to come to you. Praise them for obeying your instructions. Do this several times over and over again. Make it fun and exciting and show lots of enthusiasm. Also have your children go into different areas of the house and call their names again for them to come to you. After a couple of weeks of doing this, you will notice a difference when you are out that your children will come to you when you call their names!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Shrek the Donkey vs Mary & the Donkey

"Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." (Deuteronomy 6:7)

What does this verse mean to you? To me it means that in every opportunity I have, I should be talking about and showing my children who God is and His unconditional love for us. All the time!

Now this may seem like a HUGE task - but really it just takes a change of mindset to start focusing on and sharing/talking about all the wonderful things that show God and his love for us. For example, if your child excitedly points out the beautiful big moon - remind them who made the moon and how much Jesus loves us. If you find a tiny ant in the backyard, talk about how even the smallest of animals Jesus loves and watches over. There are just so many different ways to always bringing back the attention of God's love for us.

One recent example that really made me stop and think was the other day when we were visiting the zoo. We were waiting to take our train ride and across the train tracks was an animal exhibit for the donkeys. I proceeded to bring attention to the donkeys and started to retell the story of Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus. And how Mary rode a donkey into Bethlehem just like that donkey here in the zoo. No sooner did the words leave my mouth did I hear another mother say to her children, "hey kids, there's a donkey like in the movie Shrek." Just a different mindset...

I challenge you to find ways to change your mindset in order to bring attention to the things of God and not things of this world. We have been told to do so in the Bible - "when we sit at home and when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up" we are to be teaching our children about God. And if this is a challenge for you to do, remember all of our wisdom comes from God. Pray and ask Him to show you the ways to teach your children about His love.

What are some of the ways you spend teaching your children about God and His love for all of His children?

Friday, July 2, 2010

What is TV teaching your kids?

Owen and Anna you need to stop doing that right now. "Oh Man!" (Dora the Explorer)
You need to give me that toy. "Swiper no swiping" (Dora the Explorer)
It's time to go now. "But, mom - can we, can we, can we, please stay." (Dinosaur Train)
You need to get some self control. "I'm so angry. I'm so mad." (Ni Hao Kai Lan)
Use your words. I don't understand what you are needing. "Cup, Cup, Cup" (Max & Ruby)

Have you ever stopped and noticed the behavior of your kids and just perhaps the things they are saying or the things they are doing have come from TV shows you let them watch? The above are some recent examples I have heard in my house from my kids which are basically direct quotes from cartoon shows - mind you, I thought harmless shows - they have been watching.

These responses I've gotten from my kids are not the correct way I want them responding to me or reacting in given situations. Yet, some how the TV shows have taken over my training. So what is a mom to do? Well, my solution has been two fold. First, in some cases, we have all together stopped watching some of these shows. I work hard enough instilling positive behavior into my children that I don't need a 30 minute show teaching them negative behavior.

The second solution is to actually sit down and watch the shows with your children and talk about the behavior you are watching together and perhaps what would be the better way to respond or act. Just yesterday, Owen and I were watching an episode of Chuggington, where the one character flat out lies about the wash station being broken. And the show had no moral consequences for his lie. It was just all fun and games trying to find the train. When they realized he lied, there was nothing said about it at all. So now, when I saw that part I made a big deal about how he lied and we aren't to lie. And now when Owen watches that same episode, he comments on how the train was being bad because he lied.

Also, my kids know what type of shows I allow them to watch. Owen knows that he can only watch Y shows and when he sees Y7 or G, he actually tells me it he isn't to watch it. It's important to teach your children what is acceptable TV for them to watch and why certain shows are off limits. (Makes me think about what potentially inappropriate shows I watch and how they impact my life? hmmm....)

We have to be very careful with what shows we allow our children to watch. Sometimes we think the shows are harmless and fun. But children at this age can't tell the difference between a cartoon and real life. To them, the cartoon is real life. So if a show is teaching your children different responses or behaviors then you want your children demonstrating in their real lives, you may want to think again on what you allow them to watch.

I came across this great little article awhile back with more tips on some great questions to discuss with your kids when it comes to shows they are watching: "When a character is advised to follow her heart, use the opportunity to ask questions such as: why would [the character's name] want to do that? What if [the character] feels like she should [give a good option]? What if [the character] feels like she should [give a bad option]? How will this character know what to do? What might happen if this character prays first, then asks mommy or daddy? Walk your child through the ways the character could honor God and her parents and learn to do what is right (Philippians 1:9-11)."

I do think also, it is so important that you know what your children are watching and that you actually sit down, preferable beforehand to view any new shows. Making sure that they are teaching your children the things you want them to be demonstrating in the lives. Remember our children are little sponges and they are soaking up EVERYTHING they see and hear. I know I've let my kids watch things and have just heard what was going on, but once I actually sat down to watched it, I decided it wasn't something they were going to watch anymore. And remember, you are the parent and so you have the power to decide what they do or don't watch!

Have you come across shows/videos that you particular like for your kids to watch?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

To Share or Not To Share?

So recently we were at a playgroup and a lesson in sharing and well maybe to some, not some much sharing unfolded before my eyes...

Owen found a toy that he had just started to play with. No sooner did he start playing with said toy, another boy came over and tried to snatch the toy away from Owen. The mother of the boy came over and told her son to use his words and not to snatch toys away from other people. So the boy asked Owen if he could play with the toy. And Owen said "no, not yet." Well, the boy was upset and started to cry. Then the mom says, "Owen just doesn't want to share right now" and told her son to find something different to play with.

This really got me thinking. Does sharing really mean that my son needs to give up a toy he just got to play with to some other child who is wanting it right away? Is that really what sharing is all about? Why was I feeling like my son was doing something wrong by not giving up the toy. Why did I feel he was being the "bad" child because he wasn't ready to share the toy with the other boy. A toy that he had just found and just started to play with.

In our house, I really try to teach my kids to ask "may I play with that when you are done" vs snatching toys from each other or insisting they give the toy up to the other person regardless if they were done playing with it or not. To me that is what sharing is. Sharing doesn't mean that you have to give something to someone right away. Sharing to me means that you take turns - you share something...

The wonderful thing about this approach is you are teaching two very important lessons in one. First you are teaching the importance of sharing things with others. The other thing you are teaching is the importance of being patient and having self control while you wait for your turn.

So, if your child is wanting to play with something that someone else has - teach them the importance of asking for a turn and what it means to be patient. Don't focus on the behavior of the other child as not wanting to share, because that's not really what sharing is about. Also, those types of comments are really just said to make the other person feel guilty and honestly I feel should never be said to another person's child. And just in case you are curious, when Owen was done playing with the toy, he did seek out the other boy (with a little help from me) and gave him the toy and told him he could have a turn. Now, that is what I consider sharing!

What are your thoughts on sharing? How do you handle similar situations in your home or at playgroups?