Posts Tagged ‘teaching values’

Motivate Your Child to Be More Self-Reliant

June 10, 2009

motherclipartMost experts agree that the earlier children start assuming some individual and family responsitbilities, the easier it will be for them to “take charge” of their lives as they grow up.  The most important thing to remember, as you give your child duties and schedules, is to shift the focus away form the work and towards working together.  Do this by showing and stressing daily concern for all family members and their activities.

To motivate your child to help himself and others even more try to:

1.  Impress upon your child how much of a difference his help, no matter how small, makes in your life.  Do this by consistently and genuinely complimenting him when he is actively involved in some aspect of school or home responsibilities.  Encouragement is a key to self-reliance.

2.  Establish a home routine in which all family members have work to do.  Don’t just tell your child what to do.  Gently teach and reteach the specific steps in his chores.  If you pay your child for chores, stress that it is for being self-reliant and that we don’t do things only for money.

3.  Show flexibility about home duties.  Most children get tired of doing the same chores.  So, for example, clean your child’s room while he cleans your room.  Also, don’t nag about exactly when chores get done as long as they are done to meet basic family demands.

4.  Make home and school work as enjoyable as possible.  Designate a special pleasant area for homework and have your child help you shop for his own cleaning supplies, soaps, shampoos, etc.  Also, always schedule a special fun time such as a game or story after family work is done.

5.  Let your child face the consequences of being lazy or forgetful.  For example, late library books mean he has a library fine, not you.  Children do learn from their mistakes.

6.  Provide a scheduled time for free-play every day.  Too many after school activities will cause your child to resist home and school duties which demand self-reliance.

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Parenting and Professionalism: The Myth of Having It All

April 20, 2009


Adapted from the article by: Robin B. Thomas, Ph.D., R.N.
Individual and Family Therapist, Seattle, Washington for ZerotoThree.org

motherSaying no to a professional challenge was a skill I lost in graduate school and one that I am with difficulty regaining. Until the fall of 1989, my most formidable coping strategy, denial, was firmly in place. I wanted to retain the roles I had fulfilled before I had children. Although I spoke of making choices between career and parenting, I believed at that time that I really didn’t have to sacrifice either. I believed I could work half time, parent my children, be a part of the preschool car pool, bake for school parties, be a good partner to my husband, and continue the level of research, teaching, consultation and publication that I engaged in B.C. (before children). Clearly, that is not a logical or realistic perspective, yet I would guess that many of the women reading this continue to pursue equally insane lifestyles. Those of you who are partners to professional women have probably seen it in the women you love.

Still, I think it was easier for me to pursue all my goals than to admit that I had to give up something. It took time, frustration, and a second child to help me realize that choices must be made. I wanted to believe that I could have it all—family, career and time to myself. In a sense, I achieved these goals. I have it all. Two wonderful little girls, a caring partner for a husband, and a stimulating and demanding career. It is not the life I planned for or the career I was “groomed” for before I became a parent. I have had to put my career on hold, at least for now. I think often of the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it.”

In the process of writing this article and talking extensively with my friends and colleagues, several themes concerning parenting and professionalism became clear (at least my qualitative research skills remain active). These issues serve as a frame for my relating the challenges I faced in adapting to parenthood. The themes include Paradigm, Painful Choices, Balance, and Consequences. The challenge of adapting to parenthood does not affect only parents. Our professions and institutions need to become more supportive of the transition to, and the experience of, parenthood among professionals.

Paradigm

Every person holds a unique view of the world, his or her paradigm. It determines how individuals perceive events, what they think about their experiences, and how they respond to family and social demands. While I share some feelings about parenting with other women, my models for parenting also differ in many ways from theirs. Each woman has a model for parenting, and this model shapes her decisions about parenting and professionalism. Several conflicting social and educational forces influenced my parenting paradigm. The first was the climate of the 1950’s and early 1960’s, in which a mother’s primary role was as homemaker. Ozzie and Harriet served as role models for parents and their children. A contradictory force shaping my paradigm came from my mother, who lived the 1950’s style but wanted something else for her daughters. She had been left a widow with young children and virtually no work skills. The message was “Be prepared to do it all”. This message was not uncommon for young women of my generation, who enrolled in schools of education, nursing and social work, preparing for careers in the “helping professions” that could, we thought, be combined easily with family life.

Another major influence shaping my world view was the blossoming of the women’s movement as I grew into young womanhood. The woman’s movement told us we could “have it all”, a career and a family, if only we wanted it badly enough. Remember Helen Reddy’s recording of the song “I Am Woman”, and the commercial showing a beautiful, energetic woman singing about her ability to “bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and still remind my husband that he’s a man”? (How did she do it?).

The fourth major influence on my parenting model was years of education in the field of mother-infant interaction and careerwoman3the family system. Researchers have now documented and explained some of the magic that transpires between parent and child. But it is not research findings, quite honestly, that are involved in my inability to tolerate the thought of another person fulfilling that role with my children. I know that from the child’s perspective others can offer her the foundation on which to build a strong self-esteem. It is my issue that I want to be the person who, for better or worse, provides the feedback my babies need to grow and develop. I don’t see this as an issue of being a good or bad parent; rather it involves awareness of my needs and desires to be physically present in my children’s daily lives. I have had remarkable good fortune in finding a child care provider who is a true partner in my children’s care. But despite my professional awareness of the importance of the children’s attachment to their caregiver, it took some time before I could observe the love between our nanny and my girls without a twinge of sadness, or perhaps jealousy.

These experiences and others contributed to my paradigm as I entered the world of parenting. I thought I could, and should, do, and have, it all. As a result, I spent three years trying to keep advancing my career while being an almost full-time mother. Actually, I did fairly well at the game when I had one young child. My first daughter, Katie, accompanied me on monthly trips for presentations, conferences or consultations. There came a time, however, when I decided that the cost of “having it all” was too high.

I found it interesting, as I struggled to “fit” my professional and parenting goals together, that I no longer “fit” the paradigm of my nursing discipline, at least the way it is expressed in academics. An example of the emphasis on producing that conflicts with helping our professionals care for themselves and their families stems from a discussion I had with a senior faculty member about my struggle to continue to contribute to our university while putting my family first. We were talking about finding time to publish the results of my research. This compassionate mother of one suggested that the solution to my problem was to “find the 5 a.m. time”. She explained that by getting up at 5 a.m. I could get several hours of writing time in before heading to work for the day. Obviously, this caring woman failed to realize that I am incapable of thinking at 5 a.m., and that my young children were often awake by 5 or 6 a.m., ready for play time. I know my colleague meant well, yet her response to my struggle was essentially for me to work longer hours. It is one answer, and that is how some colleagues in my, and other disciplines, handle their need to blend career and parenting. There are other ways to help individuals continue to contribute to their field. We need to develop new approaches to people, especially women, to contribute more at some times in their careers and less at other times, when family demands are greatest. When we set up an either/or situation, we lose the potential these people could contribute.

Painful Choices

I guess I’m a slow learner. One colleague has gone as far as telling me that I am stubborn. I prefer to value what I call my persistence, as a tool that facilitated my completion of doctoral study and continues to support my roles as mother, wife, friend and professional. I will admit that I strongly resisted (stubbornly?) the knowledge that I needed to give up some goals in order to accomplish my major objectives for parenting.

At this point I began to experience the strain and conflict between parenting and professionalism as inevitable. I had avoided a number of professional commitments—leadership on major grants, a tenure track position—that I knew would be too demanding at this point in my family life. I had made more than one attempt to carve out a meaningful, but manageable, professional niche. Yet there always turned out to be more than I bargained for. I decided at that time to leave the university setting entirely. Instead, I am in private practice as an individual and family therapist and continue to consult in the areas of family assessment and family centered care. It is interesting that many colleagues do not accept that my career choices were based on my desire to be present for my children, which I found to be incompatible with an academic career. I see my life as sequential now, with a time for career now followed by reduced contributions to my field while I parent young children. I know a time will come when I can again offer a great deal of energy to the academic side of my discipline. I hope there are opportunities to do so at that time.

Balance

When I think of balance I remember the graceful tightrope walker in the circus as she effortlessly performed astounding feats of daring and skill. That performance requires training, constant concentration and courage. It is not unlike balancing parenting and a professional career. I feel like a novice tightrope walker, consciously attending to the small movements that help maintain my balance. I am in a constant state of adaptation to the many demands of family, career and social obligations. Perhaps attaining a balance will become easier over time as I complete my tightrope walker training. My friends who are home full-time tell me they envy me my opportunity to work. My full-time working friends envy my parenting time. In truth, the life I have chosen of part-time career and almost full-time mother holds the best and worst of both worlds.

I bake cookies with my children and attend all preschool events. We go to parks and have friends over to play. Several mother2times each week I pile three little girls into my car for the giggling ride to preschool. We have a garden where we grow potatoes, squash and flowers. Tomorrow, I will help herd twelve preschoolers into a muddy pumpkin patch to find their ideal jack-o-lantern. On alternate days I frantically write promised articles, prepare presentations or see clients in my growing practice. When not engaged in these activities I shop for groceries, children’s clothes, household necessities, diapers or birthday presents. Somehow it doesn’t feel balanced. I have two careers, mother and professional, both valued, satisfying and demanding.

Consequences

The result of this struggle is that our family is well, happy and healthy. The strain of my “having it all” cost us a lot in the past. Now, I have exciting career that I control, and am able to spend a good deal of time with my children and husband. With all my strengths and flaws, I am the major influence in my children’s lives. It is not a stress-free lifestyle. There are still conflicting pulls of parenthood and professionalism, but they are fewer, now that I own my business. I continue to search for a peer group, and have found some women who are also blending family and career. I am learning to fit into the world of full-time mothers, and find it a more complex world than I expected. I am also physically healthier than I have been in years and don’t have to constantly monitor my diet.

The losses I feel are the companionship of my colleagues and the adrenaline of presentations and teaching. I was unaware of the meaning my academic career held for me. Perhaps that was naive, or once again evidence of my denial. I underestimated my response to the loss of invitations to speak at conferences or to participate in expert panels. Luckily, I am human, and humans adapt fairly well. In short, I am getting used to my new lifestyle and do not for one minute want to change the past or my choices. This is obviously not the solution for all professional women as they transition to parenthood. It is only one approach to coping with two deeply held drives, the desire to be the best parent I can be to my own young children while continuing to contribute professionally to the well-being of many infants, toddlers and their families.


Edited from the , December 1990

How to Grow Appreciative Children

April 17, 2009

Unspoil Your Child

Source: article by Marisa Cohen for WebMD

A trinket here. A toy there. Somehow it’s all adding up to a kid who expects to get whatever she asks for. Here’s how to unspoil your child.
spoiledWho hasn’t bought a few moments of peace from a screaming toddler with a lollipop or splurged on a pair of sneakers just to hear your son say, “Mom, you’re the best!” When you’re busy or stressed, it’s tempting to buy your 2-year-old that stuffed pony just so you can get through Wal-Mart without the Embarrassing Public Tantrum. Or let your kid eat candy and bread for dinner so you can eat your own fish and veggies in peace. But if your child rarely has to wait between “I want it” and “I have it,” then he may be missing out on the chance to develop the emotional tools he’ll need to be a happy and successful adult. “When your child doesn’t have the opportunity to deal with the little disappointments in life by your saying no to her, you may be giving her poor preparation for dealing with the small or large difficulties that may come her way,” says Diane Ehrensaft, Ph.D., author of Spoiling Childhood: How Well-Meaning Parents Are Giving Children Too Much — But Not What They Need. It’s not too far a stretch to see how a child who is given every new video game the day it comes out can develop into an adult who gets frustrated when he isn’t given the corner office on his first day of work, notes Steven Friedfeld, a family therapist in New York City. But you can put an end to the gimmes — whether it’s your child’s inflated holiday list or her insistence on treats or snacks as prepayment for good behavior. Here’s how to go about implementing the despoiling process:

STEP 1: Acknowledge where the problem starts.

As much as we hate to admit it, spoiling is mostly about us parents: “We often try to compensate for what we didn’t have as children, to assure ourselves that our children love us, or to make up for any parental guilt we feel,” says Ehrensaft. Teresa Sellinger, a mother of three in Sparta, NJ, readily agrees with this: “I came from a huge family and grew up wearing hand-me-downs,” she says. “So I’m always buying my daughters the most stylish, matching outfits to wear to school. I know that’s more about my issues than theirs!” Giving your kids whatever new gizmo they want as soon as they want it is also a way to show off how successful you are, both financially and as a supermom. How many times have you heard a mom “complain” about how many Webkinz her kid has, as she simultaneously glows in the knowledge that she was able to buy them for her? Try to figure out where your need to spoil is coming from. Ask yourself a series of questions: Are you tired, overstressed, and trying to find a quick-fix solution? Are you feeling guilty for not spending enough time with your kids? Are you getting more of a kick out of this gift than your child is? Once you figure out what’s driving your tendency to spoil your kids, you’ll be better able to kick the habit.

STEP 2: Set rules and consequences.

There is a slippery slope in parenting, where the initial “If you behave, I’ll buy you a treat” turns into “Here, take this treat, and hopefully you’ll behave.” To wean your child off this demand-reward pattern, you’ll have to set the new rules in stone. “Observe your child for a few days to notice when she is really being demanding and refusing to take no for an answer — whether it’s with staying up past her bedtime, asking for new toys, or wanting candy,” suggests Lisa Forman, a family counselor in Sleepy Hollow, NY. Let’s say you recognize a pattern: Your daughter refuses to sit still at the dinner table unless she is promised her favorite dessert. The next step is to come up with a rule and a realistic consequence — such as taking away TV or computer privileges — for her behavior, keeping in mind your child’s age and tolerance level. And make sure your partner’s on board with the new plan; kids are experts at playing one parent off the other. Then, sit down and explain the rules to your child: “In our house, we get ice cream on Friday night if we have behaved at dinner all week. If there is whining for candy during dinner, you will lose the ice cream privilege.” Ask your child to repeat it back to you to make sure she understands — or better yet, make a chart together that she can decorate with stickers each time she follows the rules.

STEP 3: Don’t justify your decisions.

The other night, I told my 4-year-old daughter that she couldn’t have any cookies before dinner. Somehow, she managed to turn this into a 10-minute discussion about why. I realize now that she had no interest in listening to my explanation about the sugar content of the cookies — she was simply doing her best to break me. “Parents have this illusion that if they give their children the reason why they can’t do what they want, the child will stop wanting it, and as far as I know, that has never happened in the history of parenting!” says Nancy Samalin, a parenting educator and author of Loving Without Spoiling. Instead of trying to reason your child into obeying you, simply say, “No, and that’s the end of the discussion.” If she comes back at you with, “Why?” remind her, “In our house, that is the rule.” And as your child repeats her “But why?” refrain over and over, keep this statistic in mind: A survey by the Center for a New American Dream found that kids will ask for something an average of nine times before the parents cave. So stay strong and repeat your simple “no” on the ninth, tenth, and eleventh entreaty. Eventually, your child will realize that her attempts are futile, and she’ll move on.

STEP 4: Resist peer pressure.

When all their other tactics fail, children will inevitably resort to the one sentence that has been used to guilt parents since that first annoying caveman next door gave his son a shiny new rock: “But all the other kids have one!” Unfortunately, there is no magical response that will definitively shoot this argument down, but there are a couple of strategies that can be successful. “You can say to your child, ‘That’s interesting. Let’s talk about it,'” suggests Ehrensaft. “There may be a good reason for your child wanting what the other kids have: It might be a great new game everyone is playing at recess or a new book they’re all talking about. Tell your child that you will look into it, and see if it’s something you want him to have.” If the book/toy/game seems worthwhile, you can add it to his birthday list — or together you can come up with a strategy for how he can “earn” it, whether that means helping him calculate how much allowance he’ll need to buy it (perhaps he needs to save half the price, and you’ll kick in the rest) or suggesting it as a reward for a good report card.

STEP 5: Brace yourself for the meltdowns.

The first few times you stick to a new rule and say no, it will be painful — for you, your child, and everyone else within hearing distance. “There will be meltdowns at first, so fasten your seat belt and react to them in a very calm and neutral way,” suggests Ehrensaft. “If you hold to that line every day, your child will learn that this is not the way to get something that he wants, and he will eventually stop.” In fact, experts compare this part of the despoiling process to sleep-training your baby: a week or so of stress and tears, and then one blissful night your baby sleeps till morning — or your kid finally understands the word no.

STEP 6: Share the thrill of anticipation.

I remember being 8 years old and running up and down the stairs in my house, screaming with excitement because the once-a-year TV showing of The Wizard of Oz was about to begin. Today, when my daughters want to see Dorothy and the Munchkins, they simply pop in a DVD.
While our instant-gratification culture has made life easier in many ways, it has also diluted the joy of looking forward to special experiences. Just think about the buildup of excitement you get when you plan a vacation a month away — there’s the thrill of planning it, packing for it, talking to your friends about it. When you finally get there, the joy is magnified. But if there is no wait, no period of dreaming about it, the thrill is often less intense. “When kids are accustomed to getting things right away, nothing excites them anymore,” says Friedfeld. “The bar has been raised so high that by the time they’re teenagers, they might start looking toward other things — like alcohol and sex — for thrills.” Friedfeld also points out that teaching your children to wait for fun and treats helps them sustain focus and attention, two very important skills for success in school.

One of the best ways to teach anticipation is to give your child an allowance and let him save it toward the item he covets. My daughter, for example, knows that it takes exactly three weeks of saving her $2 allowance to have enough to buy a new Rainbow Fairies book, and seven weeks to save for a new Webkinz. For those few weeks, she talks about the book or animal, draws pictures of it, and discusses it endlessly with her little sister.
Other parents have found wish lists to be a powerful tool. Small children can cut out or draw pictures of toys they want for their birthday or Christmas/Hanukkah; older kids can create electronic wish lists on amazon.com and other websites. And make the list finite: She can keep 10 items on it at any given time; to add a new wish, she has to eliminate an old one. This not only helps her prioritize what she truly desires but also shows your child that a toy she swore she couldn’t live without in April may seem less important in July.

STEP 7: Indulge in nonmaterial joys.

By now, your child should be behaving so wonderfully that you will be tempted to smother him with tons of treats. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can bestow in abundance without running the risk of spoiling: snuggling on the couch and reading books; saying “I love you”; popping a bowl of popcorn and watching the football game; listening to her tell an elaborate story about a princess and her magical purple rhinoceros without even once checking your cell phone. And don’t forget those weekly rewards for good behavior — if your child has followed all the rules you set, go ahead and share an ice cream sundae or do each other’s nails. Because when you strip the parent-child relationship down to its core, it’s pretty simple: Most kids would forgo another stuffed animal in favor of time with you. And that’s something money can’t buy.

Get Grandma on Your Team
Your children know that all they have to do is bat their eyes at your mom and that talking Elmo doll is theirs. How to get your parents with the program:

SET LIMITS
One mother of two in Minneapolis told REDBOOK she had present overload after the holidays last year. “We donated the extra toys to charity, but this year I’m asking the grandparents to buy just three gifts per child: one outfit, one toy, and one book.”

GET COLLEGIATE
“Ask your parents to be moderate in their gifts. If they would like to make additional contributions, ask them to consider starting a fund or a trust for your child,” says Ehrensaft.

REQUEST THE GIFT OF TIME
Encourage your parents to spend the day with the kids at the botanical garden or baking cookies together, instead of buying them a giant dollhouse or stuffed animal. “Love is spelled T-I-M-E,” says Samalin. “Remind your parents that your children love them, and not just things they give them.”

New Year’s Resolution: “Grow” with your Teen

January 5, 2009

Grow with Your Teen and Teach Values:

According to research, teens say that the beliefs, values, and actions of their parents or close adults sink in.  These are the values teens come back to as they grow and develop. 

As you and your teen grow together, here are some values you can demonstrate to them:

1.  Love them no matter what and let them know it.

2. When your teens mess up, teach them how to do better next time.

3. Tell your kids what’s good about them – and tell them often.

4. Give teens opportunities to earn your trust and build trust with them.

5. Show your teens that you respect them and that you respect yourself.

6. Help teens belong by becoming involved in your community.

7. You don’t have to raise teens by yourself.  Ask for help if you need it!

8. Don’t give up.  It takes time to build solid relationships with teenagers.

9. Keep your sense of humor.  Being able to laugh together and make mistakes really builds a family. 

Every teen deserves to be included, encouraged and to experience unconditional love.  Enjoy your teen and remember what is important in their life and in your own.

 

Source: University of Minnesota Extension Service