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Science says parents of successful kids have these 11 things in common

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  • There isn’t a set recipe for how to raise a successful child.
  • However, research points to several factors that could help.
  • Some of those factors might be totally out of your control: research has shown that being wealthier and a college graduate are two big influencers of your children’s success.

Most parents want their kids to stay out of trouble, do well in school, and go on to live successful lives as adults. 

And while there isn’t a set recipe for raising successful children, psychology research has pointed to a handful of factors that predict success.

Unsurprisingly, much of it comes down to the parents. Keep reading to take a look at what parents of successful kids have in common.

Drake Baer contributed to a previous version of this article. 

They make their kids do chores

 

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“If kids aren’t doing the dishes, it means someone else is doing that for them,” Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen at Stanford University and author of “How to Raise an Adult” said during a TED Talks Live event.

“By making them do chores — taking out the garbage, doing their own laundry — they realize I have to do the work of life in order to be part of life,” she previously told Business Insider.

Lythcott-Haims believes kids raised on chores go on to become employees who collaborate well with their coworkers, are more empathetic because they know firsthand what struggling looks like, and are able to take on tasks independently.

They teach their kids social skills

 

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Researchers from Pennsylvania State University and Duke University tracked more than 700 children from across the US between kindergarten and age 25 and found a significant correlation between their social skills as kindergartners and their success as adults two decades later.

The 20-year study showed that children who could cooperate with their peers, be helpful to others, understand their feelings, and resolve problems on their own were far more likely to earn a college degree and have a full-time job by age 25 than those with limited social skills.

Those with limited social skills also had a higher chance of getting arrested, binge drinking, and applying for public housing.

“This study shows that helping children develop social and emotional skills is one of the most important things we can do to prepare them for a healthy future,” said Kristin Schubert, program director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the research, in a release.

“From an early age, these skills can determine whether a child goes to college or prison, and whether they end up employed or addicted.”

They have high expectations

 

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Using data from a national survey of 6,600 children born in 2001, University of California at Los Angeles professor Neal Halfon and his colleagues discovered that the expectations parents hold for their kids have a huge effect on attainment.

“Parents who saw college in their child’s future seemed to manage their child toward that goal irrespective of their income and other assets,” Halfon said.

The finding came out in standardized tests: 57% of the kids who did the worst were expected to attend college by their parents, while 96% of the kids who did the best were expected to go to college.

This falls in line with another psych finding: The Pygmalion effect, which states “that what one person expects of another can come to serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy.” In the case of kids, they live up to their parents’ expectations.

They have healthy relationships with each other

 

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Children in high-conflict families tend to fare worse than children of parents that get along, according to a University of Illinois study review.

A nonconflictual single-parent family is better for children than two-parent families with conflict, according to the review.

But, conflict between parents before and after a divorce can affect children negatively.

Another study in this review found that 20-somethings who experienced divorce of their parents as children still report pain and distress over their parents’ divorce ten years later.

They’re educated

 

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2014 study from the University of Michigan found that mothers who finished high school or college were more likely to raise kids that did the same.

Pulling from a group of over 14,000 children who entered kindergarten from 1998 to 2007, the study found that higher levels of maternal education predicted higher achievement from kindergarten to eighth grade.

A different study from Bowling Green State University suggested that the parents’ education levels when a child is 8 years old “significantly predicted” the education and career level for the child four decades later.

They teach their kids math early on

 

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A 2007 meta-analysis of 35,000 preschoolers across the US, Canada, and England found that developing math skills early can turn into a huge advantage.

“The paramount importance of early math skills — of beginning school with a knowledge of numbers, number order, and other rudimentary math concepts — is one of the puzzles coming out of the study,” coauthor and Northwestern University researcher Greg Duncan said. “Mastery of early math skills predicts not only future math achievement, it also predicts future reading achievement.”

They develop a relationship with their kids

 

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A 2014 study of 243 children born into poverty found that those who received “sensitive caregiving” in their first three years did better in academic tests in childhood than those who did not receive the same parenting style. 

Those children also had healthier relationships and greater academic achievement.

“This suggests that investments in early parent-child relationships may result in long-term returns that accumulate across individuals’ lives,” coauthor and University of Minnesota psychologist Lee Raby said.

They value effort over avoiding failure

 

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Where kids think success comes from also predicts their attainment. 

Over decades, Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck has discovered that children (and adults) think about success in one of two ways. Over at Brain Pickings, Maria Popova says they go a little something like this: 

A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens that we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.

A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of un-intelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. 

Dweck’s mindset theory has attracted valid critiques over the years, but the core tenant of believing that you can improve at something is important to encourage in children.

The moms work

 

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According to research out of Harvard Business School, there are significant benefits for children growing up with mothers who work outside the home.

“There are very few things, that we know of, that have such a clear effect on gender inequality as being raised by a working mother,” Harvard Business School professor Kathleen L. McGinn, who led the study, told Working Knowledge.

Daughters of working mothers went to school longer, were more likely to have a job in a supervisory role, and earned more money — 23% more compared to peers raised by stay-at-home mothers.

The sons of working mothers also tended to pitch in more on household chores and childcare, the study found. 

But, working mothers aren’t necessarily spending every waking minute outside of work with their children

 

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Women are more likely to feel intense pressure to balance child rearing with workplace ambitions. Ultimately, they spend more time parenting than fathers do. 

A 2015 study found the number of hours that moms spend with kids between ages 3 and 11 does little to predict the child’s behavior, well-being, or achievement.

In fact, the study suggests that it’s actually harmful for the child to spend time with a mother who is sleep-deprived, anxious, or otherwise stressed. 

“Mothers’ stress, especially when mothers are stressed because of the juggling with work and trying to find time with kids, that may actually be affecting their kids poorly,” study coauthor and Bowling Green State University sociologist Kei Nomaguchi told The Washington Post.

It could be more beneficial to spend one fully-engaged hour with a child than spend the whole evening half-listening to your kid while scrolling through work emails.

They have a higher socioeconomic status

 

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One-fifth of American children grow up in poverty, a situation that severely limits their potential.

It’s getting more extreme. According to Stanford University researcher Sean Reardon, the achievement gap between high- and low-income families “is roughly 30% to 40% larger among children born in 2001 than among those born 25 years earlier.” 

As social scientist Dan Pink wrote, the higher the income for the parents, the higher the SAT scores for the kids. 

“Absent comprehensive and expensive interventions, socioeconomic status is what drives much of educational attainment and performance,” Pink wrote.

 

This article was written by Rachel Gillett from Business Insider and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Why You Should Let Your Kid Fail (Sometimes)

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Is your child resilient? How do you, as a parent, support your child while also bringing out their strength and bounce-back for the days ahead? You let them fail. Sometimes.

“At any age, humans are hardwired to have coping skills,” says pediatrician Edward Gaydos, DO. “The real question is, how do we help our children shape and interpret experiences? I think one thing we need to do is give kids a  comfortable space for failure, and then empower them to try again.”

How kids learn from failure

Today, many kids feel the invisible but heavy pressure to be the best, to stand at the top, and to collect the most awards, scholarships or trophies. The truth is, we can’t all always win king or queen of the mountain every time we play.

Parents with unrealistically high expectations can unwittingly create anxiety and fear in their children. Rather than creating an environment where they feel the need to win every time, it would be healthier and more realistic to expect setbacks sometimes — especially because we all tend to learn more from our mistakes than from success,” he says.

For example, if you take a quiz, you tend to remember the answers that you got wrong rather than those that were correct.

A parent’s role

Part of this process of building resilience is about ourselves, the parents. We are the ones waiting eagerly at the sidelines, rooting for our favorite little people.

Check in with yourself and see if you are living any of your own dreams through your child. If so, this can create a lot of pressure and expectation, making kids feel self-conscious or even inadequate. Instead, we need to be supportive while giving children room to breathe.

“Children shouldn’t be the center of attention, but rather treated as part of a special community, your family and those you invite into your circle,” Dr. Gaydos says.

He offers the following tips to parents:

  • Validate your child’s fears or concerns.
  • Let kids figure some things out on their own.
  • Encourage children to be in situations where they interact with others and learn social cues.

Fail, learn and try again — it’s all OK

When children are allowed to have a variety of experiences in which they are allowed to fail and try again, they naturally learn more.

“You can help their kids by teaching them that life is about learning, making mistakes, and then working hard not to make the same mistakes again. This, to me, is how you define wisdom.”

He says it’s OK to tell your children that you are learning from your own mistakes. It helps children to trust you and to understand that we are all in the journey together.

 

This article was written by Children’s Health Team from Cleveland Clinic and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Entrepreneur Mom’s Secret for Controlling Chaos Will Give You More Time with Your Kids

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Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

It might seem crazy, but it’s totally worth it.

It’s 7 p.m. on a Wednesday night, and my phone rings. I interrupt my midweek recap with my assistant and best friend, Erin, to take the call. We’ve closed on 12 homes this month, and I have the late-night call log to prove it. This is my busy season, as spring and summer usually are. Business aside, I have one daughter moving into college this week, I’m planning my Nan’s 90th birthday, and I have a radio segment this weekend to discuss the market.

This is my life in all its chaos. Among my many titles: multi-million-dollar real-estate producer with Coldwell Banker, owner of real estate brand the Pittsburgh Property Diva, fashionista and animal lover, but I am first and foremost wife and mother. Together with my husband, Chris Klein, we have a blended family of SEVEN children ranging from the ages of 10 to 25, three dogs and three cats. That’s right. There are nine humans and six furs in this modern Brady Bunch.

While my career is flexible and allows time for my family, it’s demanding. There are no set office hours, and we work around the clock. Just this week I’m launching five new listings along with my property showings, and I have a closing scheduled for Friday and seven open houses on Sunday. Seven open houses! I wasn’t lying when I told you we work around the clock.

Real estate doesn’t exactly offer a set schedule, and the time when you’d like to wind down for an evening with your children doing homework, running errands or carpooling is often overlapping with business. A set schedule isn’t offered, but it’s what I’ve had to create to juggle both roles as mom and agent. So, what’s my secret? How do I keep the chaos in order? I have a plan of action and stay routine-oriented each day. But I’ll let you in on the real secret … boundaries. Unapologetic boundaries.

Women seem to fear this word. So many of us struggle with boundaries out of guilt, fear or mere pride. Reason being that today’s woman is simply expected to be it all. We live in a world where we’re no longer “homemaker or working woman;” usually we’re both. We’re the modern-day superwoman rocking many hats as mom, wife and career woman. These expectations we put on ourselves forbid us from setting healthy boundaries, sometimes to our own detriment.

When I learned that the secret to being it all really was dividing and conquering, these barriers I set didn’t seem as crazy. Over the years, I had a really strict schedule in order to accommodate my children’s needs. I’d only show houses on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for many years. Sometimes that meant seeing four different clients in one night just so I had openings throughout the week. This term gave me some sense of normalcy and routine in an otherwise fast-paced industry.

When my children were really young, I had to learn not to be afraid to ask for help. There are plenty of people who would love to just sit and hold a baby for two hours while you take a nap and that doesn’t make you any less of a mother. Our health and wellbeing is most important as moms, so when your kids nap or are at school, try to be easy with yourself: rest, eat, exercise, connect with friends. How else will we run the show if we’re not revitalized, ourselves?

The thing is, moms, sometimes life has to be on your terms. The way I see it, we’re the ringmaster of this circus, and it’s our job to coordinate and collaborate to keep things running smoothly. Is it always easy? No. But balance and boundaries run hand in hand. I haven’t exactly mastered the natural “zen” we all seek from in life, but I can say that things run fairly smoothly at Diva HQ after years of experience. I manage to juggle life as mom, wife and agent while still making time to treat myself to a spa day here and there, guilt-free.

Setting your own guidelines can be a scary thing. I get it. The mom guilt is real. But if we want to breeze through this world without losing our sanity, we have to drop the guilt and get used to the word boundaries. The take-all? Take time for you. Time for your children. Time to connect with your hubby. Just two weeks ago, Chris and I fled off to Chicago to see Pearl Jam for our anniversary. Maybe I wouldn’t have that luxury now without those years of practicing the balance. Or maybe it’s all because I gave up cooking three years ago. You make the call.


Lauren Klein is a multi-million-dollar real estate producer with Coldwell Banker, and the owner of Pittsburgh Property Diva. Her successful real-estate career lit a passion in her for mentoring and empowering women in business, and she does so with her new networking series #DivasDoingBusiness.

 

This article was written by Lauren Klein from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

This Trick for Getting Kids to Do Their Chores Just Blew Our Mind

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Some parents pay kids to do chores. Some wouldn’t dream of paying them. After all, helping out around the house is as non-negotiable as brushing their teeth—and no one gets paid for that. Some families weave table clearing and toy pickup into the fabric of daily routines. Others prioritize homework and getting to bed early, so they choose to just live with Magna-Tiles strewn across the living room rug. But no matter what your stance on chores, everyone can agree that kids suck at them—at least when they’re little.

This, it turns out, is something we must get over ASAP, if we want to raise competent, capable adults. Here’s why:

“Sure, toddlers may want to help, but let’s face reality here,” writes NPR’s Michaeleen Doucleff. “They can be clumsy, destructive and even enraging. Their involvement in chores often slows things down or makes a mess. For this reason, many parents…rebuff a toddler’s offer to help.” Some of us have even been known to stick kids in front of a screen so we can do dishes or a load of laundry. This is the mother lode of missed opportunity. Even if kids pour half a bottle of detergent into the dishwasher, even they drench you while watering the garden, even if you have to scream into a terribly folded towel, you need to let them help.

The moms who understand this see the momentary frustration “as an investment,” writes Doucleff. “Encourage the messy, incompetent toddler who really wants to do the dishes now, and over time, he’ll turn into the competent seven-year-old who still wants to help.” She quotes University of New Hampshire education professor Andrew Coppens, who says: “Early opportunities to collaborate with parents likely sets off a developmental trajectory that leads to children voluntarily helping and pitching in at home.”

Stick them in front of Netflix so you can wash glitter glue off the dog and you’ll be de-glittering things on your own for the next decade. Warns Doucleff: “If you tell a child enough times, ‘No, you’re not involved in this chore,’ eventually they will believe you.”

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Parents Are Sharing Their Best Hacks For Streamlining Their Morning Routine

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Because nobody wants to be completely stressed out that early.

Between getting yourself ready for work and getting your kids ready for school, mornings can be a real nightmare for parents. But as one mom on Reddit shared, even small shortcuts can help make a world of difference.

In a thread on the r/Parenting board, user sandarthegreat posted her tip for freezing pancakes in advance to make breakfasts simple and easy. The mom also asked other parents to share their best hacks for streamlining their morning routine. “Now that I’m a single parent, I need all the help I can get,” she wrote. “Parents who’ve been here before, what are the tips and tricks you can’t live without? What is something you wish you’d known? What’s one thing that always makes your mornings run smoothly?”

Fellow parents then replied with their own smart strategies to minimize the pre-work madness. Here are some of the best pieces of advice from the thread:

Freezing ahead is your friend.

Give your kids more responsibility.

Take a tip from boxers.

Have your kids race against a song.

Defrost breakfast AND lunch.

Plan a “menu” for lunches.

Take care of as much as possible the night before.

Start the week on a high note.

Invest in an Instant Pot.

Skip PJs.

Trick your kids into eating healthier (and quicker).

Meal prep for the whole family.

Have all of the small tasks taken care of.

Get a head start on your kids.

 

This article was written by Joseph Barberio from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The Only Cleaning Trick You Need to Know If You Have Children

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There’s a Magnatile between your couch cushions, a rubber ducky under your pillow, a SpaghettiO stained rash guard on your bathroom floor. You definitely have kids (or a really, really messy spouse). Here’s a nifty trick for getting everything back to its rightful home stat.

What you need: A colored tote bag for every room in your house.

What you do: Walk around with all the bags on your arm, picking up items and dropping them into their relevant tote. Magatile? Playroom bag. Rubber ducky? Bathroom bag. Rash guard? Jason’s room bag. Then, once you’ve got everything picked up and sorted, bring the bag to its room and put everything away.

Bonus points: If you can get your kids to actually do this all for you.

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Fast Ways to Subdue Your Child’s Worst Temper Tantrum

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Help your kids calm down without losing your cool.

Tantrums occur when a child’s system of managing her feelings and thoughts collapses. It’s an expression in external action of internal feelings over which the child is seeking control. The best thing you can do as a parent is learn to understand the reason for the tantrums, to face the outburst without losing your composure and to help your child find a better way of displaying her intense emotions.

Temper tantrums may look similar, but the reasons for them vary considerably. A typical sign of a problem is when the child has trouble tolerating being told “No” in response to something he wants. This is often seen as the cause, but it’s usually evidence of inner difficulties that need to be deciphered in order to help the child. A tantrum that follows a parent or caregiver saying “No” is usually just the tip of the iceberg. Internal and external stressors prior to that have paved the way for the tantrum. Look for meaning beyond how the child reacts to the word “No.”

Children with ADHD, learning disabilities or sensory problems deal with additional frustrations compared to other children, so they’re more likely to have tantrums. Similarly, children with anxiety, phobias, depression, experiences of traumatic events or a tendency to feel over-stimulated may fall apart when they’re overwhelmed with excessive worries and fears.

Use these tips to help interpret and subdue the emotions behind your child’s temper tantrums:

1. Help your child name feelings. Early on, teach youngsters feeling language, like happy, sad, mad and glad. As they grow older, give them the nuances of anger, such as irritated, frustrated, disappointed, annoyed and hurt. Vocabulary is important in helping the child to assess how angry he feels and why. Naming the emotions gives him the opportunity to express himself in words rather than physical actions when he’s upset.

2. Acknowledge the anger. It’s important that you tolerate angry feelings and not try to dissuade your child or teen from having these feelings. Your child or teen shouldn’t feel that you’re afraid of his emotions or that you’ll judge him harshly for having them. A child or teen needs to know that having and expressing anger doesn’t make him a bad person.

3. Remain calm amid the storm. As a parent, the best way to help your child during a tantrum is to remain calm. Children need to know their tantrums aren’t so powerful and scary that you can’t withstand them. It’s important for the child to know that her anger doesn’t overpower you and that you’re able to hear and endure the anger. Experiencing anger can actually frighten your child, and she needs to know that having and expressing such emotions doesn’t frighten you, too. This will help her to know that she can share her feelings with you.

4. Teach self-regulation. When the tantrum behavior slips outside the home, embarrassment becomes a part of the equation. You may need to take fast action in order to prevent humiliation for both you and your child. If possible, attend quickly to what the child needs or remove the child from the situation. Leaving a public place is not a way to punish the child—it’s a way to quickly reduce the 
stimulation and stop the outburst. Later, when everyone is calm, speak to your child about the situation. If the child is very young, her attention span is likely to be short, but a quick description of the problem along with a simple and easy rule like this can work: “Being upset belongs at home where we can solve problems.” Containing her anger and delaying its expression until a more appropriate time can only be internalized by a child if the parent also follows the tenets of self-regulation.

5. Help to ease transitions. Children who have difficulty with unexpected or planned transitions between activities may tantrum at those times or immediately afterward. You can prepare a younger child for a planned transition by advising him there are five minutes left before the change. You can give an older child an idea of the sequence of activities for the day so he feels prepared for what’s ahead. 


Tantrums that last more than half an hour and are unusually intense with flailing limbs and shocking shrieks where the child or teen seems to be unaware of the world around her may end in the youngster being exhausted, falling asleep, and later not remembering the tantrum. These actions and emotions, especially in children four years and older, are not typical and need special attention. Some young people who have tantrums, particularly later in life, may have a neurological disorder such as a bipolar disorder.

Laurie Hollman, Ph.D, is a psychoanalyst with specialized clinical training in infant-parent, child, adolescent, and adult psychotherapy a unique practice that covers the life span. Dr. Hollman is widely published on topics relevant to parents and children such as juried articles and chapters in the international Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, The International Journal of Infant Observation and the Inner World of the Mother. She is the author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence—Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior, winner of the Mom’s Choice Award, and the Busy Parent’s Guides series of books: The Busy Parent’s Guide to Managing Anxiety in Children and Teens—The Parental Intelligence Way, and The Busy Parent’s Guide to Managing Anger in Children and Teens—The Parental Intelligence Way (Familius, Aug. 1, 2018). Learn more at lauriehollmanphd.com.

 

This article was written by Laurie Hollman Ph.D from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Tips for a Child to Overcome Dental Phobia

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Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

If you are out of the house for more than 8 hours a day, it can be quite difficult for you to control your kids’ dental anxiety, fear or phobia. TV, YouTube and conversation with other kids can be prospective sources of such phobias. However, it is very important for you to remove such apprehensions of the child for their own good. There are many emergency dental specialists in Brisbane, who can cure oral health issues among kids with anxiety without causing them any additional pain.

Dental anxiety can happen for a variety of reasons. Some children are afraid of their first visit to the dentist mainly due to a fear of the unknown. For others, a past experience can be responsible for a child’s refusal to visit the dentist’s clinic. However, there are a few steps you can do that can help your child.

Recognize the Fear: Talk to your child and observe its behaviour. Note down the causes of phobia you see. Once you understand them, it will be easier to find ways to get out of them.

Find a Good Dentist: While looking for the right dentist focus your search on a person who is specialised in treating anxious patients. Call them first and try to understand whether the communicator on the other side is accommodating or dismissive. The moment you are assured of the doctor’s attitude, you can decide to pay a visit along with the child.

Discuss the Cause of Anxiety: If your doubts are not completely gone after calling the clinic, it is time for you to talk them over with the doctor. Try giving the dentist a direct call to clarify all your suspicions. Confirm an appointment, only if you are completely convinced that the treatment procedure is tailored for children. Pain is the reason most children are afraid of the dentist as cartoon and TV have shown the dentist as a person who is always drilling teeth which is only a small part of what a dentist does.

Accompany Your Child for The Visit: Never send an apprehensive child for a dental appointment alone. Always accompany them. If possible, get the appointment at a time favourable for you to be with them. The child will be more confident if a parent is around.

Resort to Relaxation Exercises: Controlled breathing and different other exercises can help the child remain calm during the treatment. You can find the relaxation exercises on different relevant websites. Distractions can also be helpful in keeping the children relaxed during the treatment. As an accompanying parent, you can try and distract the kid. Note that most experienced dentist will know how to distract the child and make them feel comfortable.

It is always a tough exercise for a working mother to juggle between work and understanding child psychology. Hope the tips offered in this post will be of much help to the parents.The dentist is one of those things that your child might never enjoy as people rarely do. This hygiene will allow them to have a great smile and avoid costly dental procedures later in life.

 

This article was written by Emily Green from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Ways to Head Off a Discipline Problem So It Won’t Derail Your Day

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Why making space for kids’ feelings can be a game-changer.

It’s that familiar scene. Child care pickup. Your child is thrilled to see you and then 20 minutes later, he melts down because you cooked chicken for dinner instead of pasta. As a working mother, tantrums can feel all the more painful because they’re ruining those precious few moments you get with your little ones.

It doesn’t have to be that way. In the past five years, I discovered dozens of new discipline ideas, while reporting my book The Good News About Bad Behavior: Why Kids Are Less Disciplined Than Ever—And What to Do About It. Here are just a few of the winning strategies I found for stopping a discipline problem in its tracks. The next time you’re at a loss, try one of these.

1. Pause

First of all, shed any guilt you may feel about not spending enough time with your kids, as compared to your mother or your mother-in-law. The truth is, modern parents spend more time with kids than at any time since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping time use data. Even as women flooded into the workforce between 1965 and 2015, mothers’ time spent caring for children rose from 10 hours to 15 hours a week. Dad’s time on child care leaped from 2.5 to 7 hours in that same time period.

Take a breath. Or two. When we pause before responding, we’re giving our nervous systems a chance to regulate. Then, we can better access the part of our brains that is creative and solves problems. We can find better strategies than yelling or ordering a time out. We might even lead our children into a more regulated state themselves.

Use that pause to shift your perspective. Yes, the family’s priority is getting dinner on the table and moving into the bedtime routine. But your child’s interests and preferences also matter. It doesn’t cost you that much time to take a minute to empathize and say, “I know, you really love pasta!” before moving smoothly on with your evening. That moment of acknowledgement is more likely to ease your child out of a tantrum than saying, in an annoyed voice, “We had pasta three times this week already!”

2. Deploy Humor

Children are sometimes so … childish! They giggle at farts and still half-believe that possibly, monsters may inhabit the patch of woods down the street. Harness their love of humor! If you tickle their funny bone, you can distract them out of a power struggle before they dig in too deep.

For example, when our children were just learning table manners, my husband Brian made up an alternate family—the Bewis family—that was filled with badly behaved boys. We could invoke the Bewis boys when we saw a child eating with their hands, or leaving the table without picking up a plate. “I hear the Bewis boys never clear their plates,” we would say. They’d giggle and retrieve their plates while making up their own stories of terrible goings on in the Bewis household.

You can also use make believe to empathize with a child’s impractical yet deeply-held desire, rather than trying to force him or her to comply with yours. For example: “Oh, if I had a magic wand, I would wave it so we all could go to Disneyland tomorrow! That would be so much more fun than school.” Being understood defuses your child’s growing upset. You don’t need to be the one to rain on your child’s parade—life will do that soon enough.

3. Give Choices

This is such common parenting advice, it’s almost a cliché. Bear with me. Often, when we give a child a choice, we’re only offering two things that we want the child to do—neither of which they want. As they grow, they see right through that farce.

Instead, open your mind to what your child wants. Sure, it may be impractical. Consider whether it’s truly impossible. Be creative about whether you can accommodate their wishes. If there’s no harm done … say yes.

Who cares if they wear the same favorite pants three days in a row, as long as they’re not obviously dirty? And if French toast is a healthy meal for breakfast, why not have it occasionally for dinner? Does it really matter whether your child gets dressed before coming down for breakfast? Maybe it’s okay for him to pop back upstairs to change out of pajamas—or even sleep in the clean sweats he’s going to wear to school. A child who’s doing what he wants moves a whole lot faster than one who’s being forced by mom.

I’m not talking about becoming a short-order cook or a servant to your child’s whims. But as your children get older, they increasingly want to contribute ideas and influence what the family does. If your children always hate what’s for dinner, invite them to suggest some meals, or even go shopping with you. Create a rotating schedule of dinners that everyone has agreed to in advance. The more they’re involved in the process, the less they’ll object. Yes, this takes more time at first, but your hard work will pay off when you have an 11-year old who can plan and cook the family dinner.

 

The Good News About Bad Behavior

 

Katherine Reynolds Lewis is a Washington, D.C.–area journalist, mother of three and author of The Good News About Bad Behavior: Why Kids Are Less Disciplined Than Ever—And What to Do About It, *available from PublicAffairs, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Courtesy of PublicAffairs

4. Connect

There are so many opportunities to connect with our children. The drive to school or walk to the bus stop. The time after dinner when we’re all full and happy. An early morning snuggle before the rest of the family wakes.

But often we fail to take advantage of these fleeting moments. The to-do list or the window to check email seems more pressing. Resist this temptation. Work when you need to work; be with your family when you can. Don’t let the two contaminate each other unintentionally.

Every time you focus just on your child—playing Candyland or listening to a long story about a favorite YouTuber—you are depositing into the bank of your relationship. That undistracted time will serve as a reserve for you to draw on the next time there’s conflict in your relationship, or a power struggle starts to loom.

It doesn’t have to be a half hour or hour of your time. You’ll see the pay-off from even five minutes throwing the ball, or a sincere thank you for something they did to help you. Start keeping track of the times when you truly connect with each child, and see if you can boost that number over time—like a plank challenge or other goal you set for yourself.

5. Plan Ahead

Sometimes, all of our best efforts fail. A hungry or tired child simply cannot do what’s needed in a situation. Or something unexpected happens and your little one spirals out of control. Maybe everyone screams—or cries. That’s not a disaster. It’s an opportunity for you to learn.

Take stock of the experience at a later time when everyone is calm. If your kids are old enough, ask them what it was like for them. Brainstorm what might help in the future to prevent such problems. Routines are a huge boon to smooth family life, and keep discipline problems from erupting even before they begin.

An earlier bedtime can help with the morning routine. Reminder signs on the wall can spark a child’s memory without Mom nagging about backpack or teeth brushing. Small children can help make signs for the daily routines, either taking photos of each step or crayoning their own interpretation.

Don’t worry about having a consequence or a reaction for every instance of childish misbehavior. You can usually count on the same problem cropping up again, by which time you’ll be ready with your brainstormed solution.

 

This article was written by Katherine Reynolds Lewis from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

This Shockingly Simple Move Stopped My Kid From Constantly Interrupting Me

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If you’ve had enough of “Mom, mom, mom, mom, mooooom!” this little trick is for you.

We’ve all been there: You’re at the playground trying to chat with a fellow parent, when your kid unceremoniously interrupts the conversation because he wants to tell you something urgent about squirrels. Or superheroes. Or whatever else he’s thinking about. You discuss the rules of conversation, and he agrees to wait patiently for his turn to speak next time, but the excitement of his thoughts is overwhelming and he’s soon interrupting again.

I’ve been in this boat for years. No matter how much we discussed it, my seven-year-old son just couldn’t help himself. It was like Pavlov’s dogs—the moment I got on a phone call, he needed to talk to me. So I asked my friend Cheryl Butler, a mother of 8 (eight!!) well-behaved, polite children and host of the Mighty Mommy podcast, for her advice.

Cheryl suggested this simple trick: “Teach your child to place his hand on your wrist if he wants something while you’re busy talking to another adult. Then you put your hand over his to acknowledge him and continue your conversation without stopping to ask what he wants. After you finish, turn to your child and give him your full attention. This way you reinforce two critical life skills: good manners and patience.”

It’s a technique that avoids lengthy lectures and is based on cognitive behavioral therapy: After training your child to wait for you to finish what you’re doing, you’re rewarding him with your undivided attention.

It seemed almost too simple to work, but I decided to try: The first few times, my son chafed against having to wait, bouncing up and down excitedly saying “Mom, Mom, Mom, but Mom, I need to tell you something.” I did my best to ignore him, even taking a few steps away to put some distance between us. Then after I was done, I turned toward him, crouched down to his level, and gave him my undivided attention, making sure to commend his patience.

It took a few tries—Cheryl warned me that I’d have to stick with it—but within a few weeks there was almost no interruption. For the first time, I can actually finish an entire conversation with a friend before learning that fascinating fact about squirrels.

 

This article was written by Beata Santora from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.