Archive for Parenting
1. My son, age three, cries over everything. One could clearly label him a “cry baby”. Is this something he will grow out of or can we teach him to not cry over the drop of a hat. I’m worried once he starts school, his peers will make fun of him.
Answer: The ‘sensitive child’ is often seen upset or crying over small things in life. We can talk to them, reassure them, or even punish them and none of this will help. But let’s be clear, and not dance around this behavior pattern. It does not tend to just go away. And, this will never serve them! Never! It will only make them vulnerable to the normal challenges of life.
Instead, we have to teach them how to get stronger, by believing that they are stronger! The good news is that this requires a simple solution. At these early ages, such tendencies are continued primarily because we keep responding to them. We keep giving it attention!
Remember: Their energy flows where your attention consistently goes!
In this situation, if your attention repeatedly flows into their crying, then this is where their energy goes. They become upset over the smallest of issues, and the more you keep trying to calm and fix-it, the more drama you see unfolding as they get older!
So, in short, just stop responding. You must trust your own instinct about whether the situation deserves your efforts to console and calm. Most do not.
Thus, just ignore and walk away. Will they get more upset? YES! They will. And, you must not respond to this.
Now, once the drama stops, return to normal. No discussion or efforts to explain. Just re-engage as if nothing had happened. Very shortly, you will witness more resilience and strength emerge, after a few days of very serious drama and tears. Just be prepared for it!
2. What is the best way to teach young girls (8) to be assertive, stick up for yourself and still remain kind? My daughter is always afraid she’ll hurt someone’s feelings, even if they are clearly picking on her.
This is a great question, and a situation often worked with in my coaching practice. There are several ways we can address this. However, this is a lesson that takes a bit of time. Unlike the situation above, this is not resolved in days or weeks. We have to be patient, and let the lessons and methods unfold over time.
Answer: First, we must look at the primary role model your daughter is watching: mom. What are your tendencies, and proclivities? Do you tend to model the behavior you are asking of your daughters? Are you strong, assertive and clear with others, or are you a ‘people pleaser’ who tends to soften and give-in when you should stay strong?
If the answer is ‘people pleaser’ then this is the most important place to start. For some, this may be true. For others, this is not relevant. However, please just know that it is very difficult to escape the model you set for your child. All the coaching and tools won’t help if we fighting against the tide of our own parenting actions!
Next, we want your daughter to develop a clear sense of their own internal voice, so that they can ‘know’ what they really want. For such children, they often experience a weak internal voice, so then they really don’t know what to say or what they really want. We can easily help with this by making sure that we are not constantly over-riding their opinions, or in essence…devaluing their voice. Also, we can make sure we offer them choices, but not too many. Give two or three options, and wait for them to choice. This sets up the really important part, where we get to support their choice. “Sweetheart that will be great for you!”
Finally, when it comes to social situations, nothing works better than role playing. Talk is cheap, when it comes to changing social behavior. Instead, engage your daughter in role playing situations, where she can ‘practice’ staying strong and trusting her internal voice!
By role play, let me be clear. These are situations where you go to the playground, for example, when no one is there. You get on your knees, and ‘pretend’ to be a pesky peer. Then, perhaps dad or grandparent, or friend, then coaches your daughter in how to respond. Then, practice a few similar situations.
You can do the same thing at home, but the closer you get to the real environment, the better. You daughter will learn the lessons more completely.
In a week or so, do another practice session where you practice in the back yard, as if friends were over. Repeat this every week or so, with less and less direct coaching…and more of just allowing your daughter to voice her opinion respectfully and clearly.
This is real magic, and yet few take the time to invest in this life changing process!
Final note: Your goal here is to have your daughter learn to honor her own voice! While doing these practice sessions, every time your daughter is strong and clear…just remind her gently, “Sweetheart, see! You can trust your own voice!” In this way, we can build her confidence in her wishes and views on life.
Both of these brief answers are pointers that will get you on the right path. If you have more questions, please feel free to email me at DrRandyCale@TerrificParenting.com.
As we are moving into summer, many parents find that they need to ‘tighten’ up the rules at home. Perhaps…the house is getting sloppy, the kids are sleeping in till noon and Mom is working harder and harder, while kids seems to show less respect and do not help out at all
Often new household rules grow out of frustration and exhaustion, as Mom or Dad see the momentum of things heading down the wrong path.
Depending on your family, you may decide you need a rule about picking up your stuff, or a rule about not playing ball in the house. Perhaps it’s a rule about bedtime or getting up in the morning. Hopefully, there are rules about doing a few chores, and staying engaged in some reading and math during the summer.
Rules Establish Structure and Kids Need This
A well implemented set of simple rules establishes a structure and rhythm at home, that actually helps reduce anxiety and calm children. Children need to a have a clear sense that someone is in charge, who knows what to do.
Do they like rules? Do they ask for rules? Of course not!
Most will argue and fight about your rules. That’s their job! When you understand this, then you expect them to complain and argue about your new rules. Ignore this. Do not engage or justify your choices, when it comes to rules about the home.
Simply understand this: Your children cannot know what is good for them. If you let them choose, they will eat pizza every night, never touch a veggie and watch TV or play video games till they fall asleep.
Do not be deceived. Your child’s wishes are a barometer for what they WANT, not what they NEED. Repeatedly following our impulsive wants (i.e., the tendency of most children) will only make us overweight, lazy and, in the end, unhappy.
Most Rules Are Just Wishes: Avoid This Mistake!
The biggest mistake made in setting rules at home is quite common. You get frustrated, decide to change things, and sit the kids down to explain the ‘new rules.’ And then, you expect them to follow the rules.
Your rules are not really rules. This is simply a ‘wish list.’ Why?
Because rules are only wishes, unless they have a consequence attached. In other words, your rules typically mean very little unless you attach consequences WHEN there is a violation of the rule. This is how most children learn new rules, when mom or dad starts to change things at home.
The rule is useless, unless this formula is followed. The truth is that most rules actually make things worse because it causes more bickering and fighting between parents and children. So the bottom line is this: Only set new rules if you are willing to stick consistently to a consequence when the rule is broken! Then, you will see that your children are capable of learning quickly.
Often, I have parents expressing something like this, “My kids should just listen, and follow the rules. What’s wrong with them?” My response is usually along these lines:
Children should not just listen. Instead, get with
reality. Children must be taught to listen and follow the
rules! That’s our job as parents…to learn how to teach effectively!
This is the false thinking that is harming our children, and undermining their future. We cannot just follow the moment of society, and the direction that video games, media forces and fast food are taking us. If we do, our kids will continue to argue and fight for the most convenient, most immediate rewards. These are rarely the most valuable. These rarely teach discipline. They never work our muscles or our minds in productive ways.
Our children need a few rules. Not too many, but the important ones are ESSENTIAL. I cover these in my programs, but for now…please accept the need to teach rules with consequences. And expect the drama and whining and complaints. It’s normal. Just ignore, and carry on!
Okay. Summer is officially on… and the kids are on summer-time schedule. And yes, it’s been a rush! Hectic and crazy at times. Everyone is ready for a breather.
Here’s the dangerous and often tempting thought process: “Oh, the kids had a tough year. They need a break. We will just take it easy…no chores…go to bed late…get up when they want. No big deal.”
Start Weak…Life Gets Harder!
If you decide to start summer with no structure, and abandon most limits, everything is smooth and sweet. The kids love it. It seems easier and everyone is happy.
At least for a few days! However, as time goes on, weaker limits simply get pushed harder. The kids will want to stay up later and later. They will want more and more video time. They will fight responsibilities more and more. Their disrespect or talking back increases the moment you start to ask them to help out a bit.
This is the nature of things.
Children and adults thrive on structure and limits. Oh yes, we fight it. Kids fight it. But the proof is overwhelming. When we abandon this in favor of weak limits and little structure, life simply gets harder to manage.
Start Strong…Life Gets Easier!
The secret is to go against the tide. Instead of starting off the summer weak, start strong. In the long run, you will have more joy, more fun and more easeful times this summer.
How do you start strong? I’s not too complex. Let’s go over the basics.
• Set clear limits on bedtime (not more than an hour later than school year times)
• Get the kids up at a standard time, regardless of their whining.
• Serve breakfast at a regular time, and don’t adjust.
• Require a few morning chores before video, phone, TV, pool, friends or computer.
These are just the basics, but it gets you started. Remember this: your strength as a parent stems from how you manage yourself and how you manage the home (particularly the goodies in your home!).
If you manage your emotions poorly (i.e., are reactive and easily upset), you will lose the respect of your children over time. You will see your authority erode, despite your desire to show strength. The critical solution is to keep your calm and have a game plan, rather than believing that yelling or getting upset should get them to listen.
Secondly, the game plan comes in the way that you manage your home, and the goodies the kids really care about. During the summer, there are goodies everywhere: the pool, baseball, soccer, playground, biking, camping, TV, friends, phones, computers, day trips…and the list goes on.
These ‘goodies’ represent leverage. It is critical to manage this leverage every single day! I am often reminding my clients, “Never give up your leverage! It’s your key to sanity.” |
That’s why the day begins with the some structure and chores, before the children can get to their goodies. If they get up, start to play a game, turn on the TV and then you discuss breakfast, you can see it all turns ugly. They are eating in front of a video game, and you can’t get them to pick up their room. This is weak approach, and the summer will get harder!
So instead, start strong and watch the summer eat easier! Keep routines in place, and don’t argue or negotiate about that. And NEVER give up your leverage!
When it comes to money and children, here are common concerns.
• How can you teach your children to handle money responsibly?
• What are the strategies that help adolescents to value the effort behind money?
• Do you pay kids for doing their chores?
• Should you threaten to take away allowances if they are acting poorly?
While perhaps one formula does not meet all needs, the strategies I have outlined below will help guide your children to a responsible attitude toward money.
1.) Responsible Understanding of Money Is Not An Accident. It Must Be Taught.
Too often, we hope that our children will get the message. We talk and talk about money and how important it is to value what we give them, but this is often quite useless. Instead, we need a strategy. We must approach these lessons seriously.
2.) Don’t Purchase Behavior With Money.
Using allowances as a tool to “purchase behavior,” will end up with you TRYING to purchase their compliance and cooperation with fundamental chores and household responsibilities. Bad plan. I do not recommend that you pay children for completing basic tasks around the house. If you pay or give an allowance for basic chores done in the house, you will only be buying the appearance of responsible behavior. Manage daily chores with a better parenting plan, not with money! This is the key to getting on the right path.
3.) Commit To A Regular Allowance Instead Of Giving Out Money When Asked.
Give the kids an allowance that does not depend on their behavior or chores. They should know that they get an allowance because you love them and you want them to learn to take care of their own money.
Let them know that it’s their money to manage each week, and watch them learn from their choices. Begin early on, to allow children to experience the consequence of good judgment, as well as poor judgment in their use of their money.
Come up with a reasonable amount of spending money for your children, and include monies for treats that you might typically buy them. For example, if you normally buy the kids some juice when you are getting gas, include that portion in their allowance. As they get older, include their lunch money in their allowance.
With age and maturity, include some extra spending money, for the small “stuff” they often want and that you pick up for them. Then, when you go to the movies, for example, you have already explained that they need to buy their popcorn (if they want it) because it was included in their allowance.
The key here is to incrementally add to the allowance, as your children age and become more capable of managing the money. Let them experience wasting it all, and then having to go without the extra treats for a few days. This is valuable learning early on.
Are you in the race for the most spoiled and indulged? The true brat of all spoiled brats? In this obvious satirical article, I thought it might be helpful to provide some coaching for those parents who are in the race for the most spoiled and entitled child on the block.
During the school year, there are practical limits to how much one can pamper a child.However, the summer opens the door to new levels of indulgence. By the end of the summer, we would set some high goals. For example, you must raisefirst graders who expect to play while others read, 2nd graders who show up 90” late each day while carrying a supersized iced coffee to class and by 5th grade, a true superstar brat will demand to carry their cell phones to class and text their mom about how mean the teachers are being.
Three Key Lessons to Raise the Most Entitled, Spoiled Child
Here are my top three
mistakes, oh… I mean lessons… that will help your child to master the art of entitlement.
Lesson #1: Allow your child toknow more than you do about parenting.
The truly spoiled are raised in a home where the child is viewed as the ultimate authority. Lessons you may have learned from your parents, books you may have read, advice from psychologists, as well as your “common sense” must be thrown out the window when faced with a child who is objecting to your wisdom, your consequences, or your limit setting.
Remember: Assume they know more. When it comes to what’s healthy, of course…they should choose fast food. When it comes to mature video games, like Call of Duty, of course they should own it. When it comes to bedtime, unquestionably your kids know better what is good for them.
This is a great start…but really, it’s only the beginning…
Lesson #2: Work harder at your children’s happiness; work harder at your children’s success and work harder at your children’s lives than they do.
This lesson is one of those “insider secrets” that must be considered carefully when in the race for the GOLD. If your child is given homework, made sure that you prod, push, negotiate… and ultimately work harder at solving their homework problems than they do. For any serious projects, you must stay up late while they go to bed. If your child is unhappy, negative, and asking you to ‘fix-it’ so they can be happy, then you must go ahead and fix-it. Do this repeatedly!
Work harder at solving their problems. Work harder at everything in their life.
Brat building lesson #3: Never set limits, and teach them that reality will always conform to their whining, demanding and complaining.
This is really an ultimate brat building secret…a true foundation of the spoiled and entitled. In the real world, effort is related to results. This is reality.
However, the truly entitled child must be protected from these rules of reality. If exposed, they might begin to realize that effort is required, and that consequences come with choices. At all costs, if we want a child who is fully indoctrinated in the ways of entitlement, we must give them what they want when they whine or complain. Please, never insist on real effort or contribution!
The best of the entitled are raised to presume that the limits that apply to others do not apply to them. They shouldn’t have to follow the rules, and if they break the rules, mom and dad MUST rescue them from the consequences.
They shouldn’t have to work when something is difficult. They should have no chores. They should get paid for taking their plate to the dishwasher, or picking up their room. And when disrespectful, just surrender and given them what they want.
Those are my three key lessons to raising the spoiled and super indulged. However, if brat building does not appeal to you, then simply do the opposite! And smile…as you do so!