Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category


(Parenting) Doop! Doop!

There is an age-old debate on how to respond when your child gets hurt. You can tell them that it didn’t really hurt and to brush it off or you can overflow with sympathy about something that really wasn’t that big of a deal. In either case, you are telling for the child how they should feel. That leaves the child completely unable to assess his own mental, emotional, or physical state. He feels instead that he has to look to others to tell him. Our goal as parents should be to teach them to examine the way they feel and then learn how to appropriately respond.

Our family has established a response for when one of our children gets lightly hurt, and we have found it to be fairly effective in giving them the opportunity to evaluate minor mishaps. When we see our child have a small mishap, before they begin to cry, we declare in a sing-song voice, “Doop! Doop!” It doesn’t set out any expectations and conveys without words, “I see you got hurt. That’s a bummer!” The little distraction is just enough to make them smile or giggle a little bit. If they do proceed to cry, then we know that they really were hurt and we give them the hug of reassurance that they need. Otherwise, the simple acknowledgment of the mishap might be all that they need.


(Parenting) Concept of Time: Kids vs Parents

Kids have a very different concept of time than adults.

Adults are all about efficiency and practicality. If we do not have an urgent deadline, we manage to make it seem like there is one.  In contrast, kids find whatever is in front of them to be significantly more important than meeting any ol’ deadline. When they are asked to get into the car and buckle their seat belt, it may take them three times as long as you think is reasonable because they find a worm on the ground, an old cracker wedged between the seats, or they are simply lost in telling you a story of how their friend spilled milk on their shirt. While you may just be loading up for a morning trip to the grocery store, their childish dawdling can be frustrating.

Instead of demanding that they see life and time through your eyes, stop and take a moment to see life through your child’s eyes. Show excitement over their little worm discovery or gently move them along and help them buckle without shutting down their story-telling. Sometimes we need to acknowledge that our deadline is not really so important. In other cases, it is often possible for us to keep our kids on track for our necessary deadlines without demanding that they abandon their developmentally appropriate childhood mindsets.

When we hurry life along, we risk missing some significant moments with our children. What will you discover about life or about your child when you take a moment to see time through their eyes?


(Parenting) Alternate Form of Affection

Brothers and sisters can sometimes be overzealous in their demonstration of affection toward their siblings. It can provide the parent with a difficult dilemma when they watch their child protest their sibling’s well-intended hug or the playful tackle. We know that it does no good to tell the recipient to just deal and it is important for the kids to learn to look for and respect the other child’s boundaries. However, when there is a positive attempt towards affection from one of the siblings, it can also be damaging to shut the giver down. Relationships grow through giving and receiving and interacting and that must be encouraged.

Alternative solutions are sometimes more obvious than others, but when you witness one of these interactions between your kids, do your best to rechannel the affection. Suggest an activity that they can participate in together, give them a common cause, or simply suggest another way that physical affection might be demonstrated. If the recipient is old enough, they could also be a part of the conversation.

Another important key in these tricky parenting situations is to keep your parenting positive. You correcting them with frustration or irritation in your voice or by using punishment will only succeed in growing resentment between the kids. Not only will their attempt at affection or interaction have been rejected by the desired recipient (their sibling), but they will have been punished by you for even attempting it. Affirm them for their desire to interact with their sibling and help them to learn how to interact in ways that they will both enjoy.


(Parenting) Dollar Store Treasures

The joy found in giving is a life lesson that we all desire to impart to our kids and there is no substitute for first-hand experience. Christmas provides many teaching opportunities, one of which is right under your own Christmas tree.

The joy of giving comes to life in a child’s heart when they are able to give a family member a gift that is from them. One that they picked out, that they wrapped, that they were excited about giving, and that they handed to the eager recipient.

It can be hard, though, on our already tight Christmas budgets to add in another level of gift-giver funding, and depending on the age of the child, unrealistic to expect them to foot the bill. Younger children can also become frustrated by their lack of understanding the impact of price tags in a large store.

Take your child on their own little shopping spree…to the dollar store! Here everything is within budget. Your child can browse the aisles and find gifts for everybody on their list. With the ability to choose anything in the store, they are freed from restrictions and given lease for creativity. It is absolutely wonderful to watch them get excited as they find items that they believe fits what the recipient loves and then eagerly anticipate the giving of the gift. It is a simple opportunity that can bring the joy of giving to life for a child.

Tip: Be sure to choose a dollar store where everything truly is one dollar.


(Parenting) Counting to 3

We have all witnessed or experienced first hand the classic parental warning of counting to three. While I have sometimes seen it to be effective, I have more frequently seen the child try to push their limits as far as possible (i.e. waiting until “3” to do what has been requested) or the parents displaying increasing emotion as the count goes up. The rapid “1, 2, 3″ warning gives the child only enough time to feel either panic or rebellion, but not enough time to truly reconsider their actions. Ultimately, these behaviors usually do not produce the desired or effective response and the cycle continues.

Adding a simple twist to your count can introduce clearer communication and a calmer, more effective response.

If your child is not responding to something you have asked of them, simply state, “That’s a one.” Give them a moment to respond. If they still do not respond appropriately, give them a second warning with a calm, “That’s a two.” Give them a moment to respond. If they still do not respond appropriately, calmly state, “That’s a three”, immediately followed by the parental action you judge to be fitting in correcting the behavior.

This approach keeps the spirit of the interaction calm, yet clearly defined. The clear plan keeps the parent’s emotions low and the effectiveness up. For the child, it gives them defined and predictable guidelines as well as a brief opportunity to reflect on their action and change course.

*Tip – Give you and your child an adjustment period as the new count and expectations are established. Changes can take a little bit of time before becoming truly effective. Before long, you will find your child changing their behavior at the count of 2, and often even at the count of 1.

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(Parenting) Quality Toys

As our thoughts turn towards holidays, many of us start to think about gift ideas for our kids. Yet as we look around at our full closets and overflowing toy boxes, we see piles of cheap and broken toys and the much-coveted, yet short-lived toy wonders. Most of us parents would agree that we would rather have quality over quantity when it comes to toys, but the application of that ideal often gets lost between the pleading eyes, the desire to shower our kids with with everything good, and well-meaning grandparents. But ultimately, quality does trump quantity. Most fad toys and almost anything with batteries won’t make it through the year, let alone turn into an treasured toy that lasts through the rest of the children or even grandchildren. As adults, we look back lovingly on what we refer to as “classic toys” because they come from an era where quality did prevail over quantity. They are from a time when children had fewer toys.

Here are a few tips to help direct your steps as you try to gradually build your supply of high-quality toys:

1. Lay out a long term vision for your toy collection.

2. Buy toy collections that can be added onto such as Legos, Playmobil, Little People, dollhouses, dress-up, etc. This gives gift-givers a general guide for purchases. It also allows the child to develop more focused play. By expanding their options within an already-existing collection, they will return more frequently to that toy set to expand, grow, and tweak their previous play experiences. This ultimately enhances creative play.

3. Find a couple of websites that sell toys of the more classic nature and forward those to extended family gift-givers. Additionally, you can usually request a free catalog from the company and pass those on to your children to look through. This helps direct your child’s thoughts away from the advertisements of this year’s popular toys and towards more classic toys.

4. Select toy collections that can be used across multiple age groups and can grow with the child.

5. Ask yourself if the toy requires the child to create something (mentally or physically) and move away from toys that simply entertain.

As you focus more on building a collection of quality toys, you will probably find that it grows more slowly, but look around you again. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.


(Comic Relief) Consistency is Important

It would be horrible the be caught liking something that you previously fought to hate.


(Comic copyright The Family Circus)


(Living Love) Saturday Solitude

Moments of solitude become rare once you enter parenthood. We adore our children, but those quiet mornings of sleeping in and waking up slowly while sipping coffee are often missed. Sometimes as we wish for a few quiet minutes to ourselves, we can forget that giving some time of solitude to our spouse just might be the breath of fresh air that they need.

Arrange to give your spouse a Saturday morning of solitude. Get up with the kids, close the door, and let your spouse catch up on some much needed sleep. And then take it a step further. After letting them get some extra sleep, sneak in with breakfast, coffee, and the newspaper and create an atmosphere for them where they can relax and have an easy morning away from demands and expectations. By allowing them some extra time tucked into the sanctuary of your room, you will breath a little bit of life into them, and certainly a little bit of love.


(Deep Cleaning) Answering Machine

Take a couple of minutes today and clear out your voice mail or answering machine. Messages have a way of accumulating. We don’t delete a message initially because we need some information from it or we think that it will provide us with a reminder if we leave it on the machine (Note: myth). If there is information that you need to save, transferring it to a written format is usually more effective.

Happy message deleting!


(Parenting) Completely Present

It is so easy to get lost in our to-do lists, whether they are written or mental. And it isn’t even always that we are accomplishing so much, but more about how our minds and spirits become completely wrapped up in what we need to do or what we are failing to do. When this happens, we slip into a highly task-oriented mindset and often neglect relational interactions, especially with our children.

Now, tasks need to be accomplished. That is just a fact of life. Phone calls need to be made, the house needs to be cleaned, bills have to be paid. Our days are full. However, when we are interacting with our children, we need to turn our full attention onto them whenever possible. When they ask you a question, make an intentional effort to turn and look them in the eye. Or in the moment when you sit down to read or play with them, be completely present in that moment. Enjoy the interaction, answer their questions, squeeze them a little bit tighter, tickle their toes, or simply absorb the moment. This doesn’t take any more time from your day. It is simply a state of mind.

Frustrations occur when there is a conflict in goals, whether it is between people or within yourself. In the moments when you are able to be completely present, you will find so many of your frustrations with your kids melt away. In that moment, you have one focus, one goal: to be interact with and love your child. You can focus on being completely present and intentional about your to-do list in then next moment.

In whatever you do today, be completely present. Absorb the moment and apply yourself. Life is so much more than a to-do list.