Archive for the ‘Responsible’ Category

I am sure that you have already discussed the topic before, but now is a good time for a bit of a refresher course. Rather than bringing up stealing randomly and making your child think that they are in trouble, get the conversation started by reading a children’s book together like Ricky Sticky Fingers, by Julia Cook, or watching a movie together like Despicable Me. Then ask your child what they think about the behavior of the characters. Remind them what stealing is, Stealing is taking something that belongs to someone else without asking permission. And also let them know why it is wrong. Stealing makes the other person feel sad. It may help if you give a specific example of stealing. Tell them that taking a toy car from the store without paying for it is stealing. Then see if your child can determine if certain scenarios, like putting the teacher’s pen in their backpack, borrowing a book from the library, or taking papers from Dad’s briefcase are considered stealing as well. Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your family and friends. Remember to always praise your child.

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Stealing

Let us talk about it. Third grade is a time where it starts to get exciting at our school. The kids are allowed to walk home alone. When Jenna first asked me if she could, my gut told me to say “no.” I was a bit overwhelmed by all the risks: The school is more than a mile away, there are busy intersections, what if she gets lost or hurt, what if a stranger approaches her? It felt much easier to keep her safe and close.

But instead of giving in to my primal instinct, I followed some sound advice, “Hmmm let us talk about that.” I came up with three key questions. One: “Why is that important to you? (Jenna explained that everyone who walks home from school says it is fun, and she wants to have a little freedom). Two: “If I say ‘yes’ to your request, what are some important things that you need to remember to do?” (We sat down together with a map going over the route she would take and pointing out crossing guards and sidewalks). Three: “What can I do to help you be more successful?” (Jenna’s answer was simple: “Trust me.”) Once you know your child has covered all the bases, express confidence in her and let it happen.

On the first day, I allowed Jenna to walk home alone, I admit that I hid behind a tree in my yard until I saw her round the corner. Relieved, I ran inside so she wouldn’t catch me spying and gave her a hug when she proudly walked through the door. Though I mourned the loss of a piece of her childhood. I knew that I had made the right decision.

Sometimes we do not have the luxury to consider every request and have to say ‘no’. But it is crucial to let your kids know that you are taking their needs and desires into account and really considering them. Then they too, are more likely to feel they are being heard. Did you miss part 2? Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your family and friends. Remember to always praise your child.

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walking

When you finish X, you may enjoy Y.

As is the case in just about every household I know with kids, no two weekdays look alike. But every day, at some point, I allow my kids to watch one TV show. It is the some point that causes the problem. My first grader, David, has difficulty figuring out when he is going to be allowed his precious TV time. Every day, the minute we walk into the house, whether it is 2 P.M. or 6 P.M., he wants to know “When can I watch TV?” And I can not stand the daily barrage of begging, whining, and pleading that inevitably leads me to say no over and over again.

This is where I instituted the when/then strategy. When all the must do activities are finished, then David can have TV time. Because David’s TV time also depends in part on his siblings’ commitments, I lay out the full schedule for the day for him. “Jenna has gymnastics today, so when we get home from dropping her off, you and Joe need to clean up the playroom, and then yes you can watch a TV show.

Once David has the information for the day, he does not feel insecure about whether TV is going to happen or not. He is no longer constantly checking in with me because he now knows exactly what needs to happen, and I find I am saying yes a lot more often. I am successfully using when/then at other tricky times of the day too. For instance, when you brush your teeth, then we can read a book together and at mealtime when the dinner plates are cleared, then we will serve dessert. Here you can check out part 1 of this series.

Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your family and friends. Remember to always praise your child.

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tv

So after careful consideration and realizing that I do have good, generally well-behaved children. I am not struggling with any major issues with my kids, just normal everyday stuff. Still, I must confess that sometimes I can not handle all of their requests, and saying “no” works. Simply saying no or barking orders about what kids should be doing can be expedient in the moment. However, it does not foster their sense of capability or independence and can make the situation ripe for power struggles. If I want to achieve the goal of being more positive, I would have to give more power and responsibility over to my kids. Positive discipline does not mean that kids always get their way or that you say yes to everything. It means giving kids opportunities to have some age appropriate control over their own world, within the firm and loving boundaries you feel comfortable with. Sounds like a good plan, right? In our upcoming posts, we will give you 3 strategies to use when you struggle with no the most. Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your family and friends. Remember to always praise your child.

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A consequence is most likely to teach a useful lesson when it is related, respectful and reasonable.

Related of course, is the exact opposite of random. So that means if your child makes a mess, then the consequence should be that he has to clean it up (not that he can’t play on your phone).

Respectful means that the consequence does not involve shame or humiliation. Your child already feels bad enough when they do something wrong. If you say things like, “I told you so,” or if you shame them afterward, you will lessen the potential learning because he will stop processing the experience and instead focus on the blame. When my 7-year-old David wanted to take his favorite superhero ski mask to the library, I knew it was a bad idea. I reminded him that it was warm outside and that I would not hold it for him. But he just says, “Do not worry, I will take care of it.” So he brought the mask and continued to lose it. It was very tempting to say, “I told you not to bring that mask!” But I could already see that he knew he had made a mistake and was very disappointed. Instead, we helped him retrace his steps in hopes of finding the mask. When the mask did not turn up, we agreed to take him to the store another day and he would contribute his allowance to the cost of buying a replacement. By staying calm and choosing words wisely, he learned a valuable lesson about being responsible for his things, and his choices.

Reasonable implies that the consequences should be something that your child can handle. Take into consideration their age and know how and that it is proportionate to the misbehavior. This will help them concentrate on what they have done rather than being mad at you. If your 3-year-old is clowning around and knocks over a gallon of milk, do not expect him to mop up the entire floor by himself in order to drive your point home. Instead, wipe up the spill together. If he refuses, gently put your hand on top of his and physically do the motion with him. If he is screaming uncontrollably, you can hold them until at least part of the mess is cleaned up. When his crying stops and you feel his muscles relaxing, praise him for being able to calm down and just move on. An older child might give you back talk instead of having a total meltdown, but resist the urge to get angry or let him weasel out of things. You can help defuse the arguments by mentioning a consequence ahead of time (“I have noticed a lot of gum wrappers laying around the house, please put the wrapper in the garbage or the consequence will be no more gum”). When the advanced warning is not given or not possible, help him brainstorm solutions for a problem he has gotten himself into. For example, you might say, “You must be upset that you forgot that your project is due tomorrow. I understand that you would like me to go and buy you those materials now, but it is late and I am not willing to do that. Do you need help figuring out something you can make with the supplies that we do have.”

Check out our past posts on Discipline. Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your family and friends. Remember to always praise your child.

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Now that she has graduated from the basics, your cook in training is ready to make a real meal. Besides having tons of fun, making quesadillas will teach her how to grate cheese, assemble ingredients, work at the stove and take the first step at developing spatula skills. For kids ready to take it a bit further, carefully teach them how to use a sharp knife to whip up a batch of guacamole.

Set Up For Success: What is mise en place? It refers to the practice of preparing and arranging everything you will need for a recipe. It is a great starting point for assembly line dishes, such as this one. Help your chef line up the ingredients. Open the can of beans, grate the cheese and put them in bowls. A rotary grater is a good place to start, but more experienced kids should learn how to use a regular grater. Keep your cheese cold, remove it from the refrigerator right before you grate it. Grip it at the top, leaving enough room between your fingers and the grater. Pretend your are petting a kitten, soft easy strokes.

Warm Things Up: Make sure you go over the rules first. Then show her how when the pan is hot enough, a drop of water flicked onto it will dance and evaporate. Tell your child to always keep a close eye on anything that is over heat. Sometimes a recipe will call for medium-high heat, but don’t be afraid to turn the heat to low or even remove the pan from the stove.

Flip and Serve: A long, skinny spatula makes for flipping much easier for your trainee. Show your child how first, then give her a try. Give her the kitchen shears for cutting the quesadillas into serving portions. If she can use scissors, she should be able to cut the pieces easily.

If your child is not quite ready for this yet, then check out our post on the novice chef. Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your friends. Remember to always praise your child.

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Cooking

There will come a day when you will be lying on the couch relaxing, offering helpful suggestions to your children as they make you dinner. It is not even a special occasion. Are you laughing yet? I get it. Two of mine are teenagers now and just they other night they prepared a meal of grilled chicken breasts, boiled red potatoes, fresh green beans and a salad. But when they were little, I never thought that this day would come.

Of course, there is a learning curve. At first, it gets worse. Instead of just making food, you are making food while someone else dumps flour all over the floor. They confuse salt with sugar or hold a knife in a way that makes your heart skip a few beats. Then it gets better and your kids actually become competent. They will learn the pleasures of mixing and cutting, seasoning and tasting. Making food is a blend of chemistry, magic and play. Oh and lets not forget the glamour and drama thanks to various cooking shows. In addition, your kids will eat anything that they make, even if it is loaded with healthy ingredients.

Cooking is also a good teacher of the techniques themselves, but also a host of other intangibles like problem solving, creativity, improvisation and adventure. Not to mention the lessons in failure. A deflated cupcake, lip puckering salad dressing or quesadilla flopped on the floor is the gift of new knowledge in leavening, balance or spatula handling just waiting for your child to unwrap it. The most important thing is that cooking together means quality time. The kind that makes lasting memories, even those mini disasters will make us laugh someday.

I have organized a guide by skill level and enlisted a few of my favorite experts in family cooking to offer you helpful advice as you move through each lesson. Scan the recipes to see what your child might be ready for now, then together roll up your sleeves, tie on your aprons and get to work. I will be on the couch reading my favorite magazine.

In our next post we will give you advice for your little novice chef. Leave us your comments. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let us know what other topics you would like to have discussed. Share this post with your friends. Remember to always praise your child.

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Cooking