Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Creating Your Own Traditions ~ Now That You are the Parent!

Creating Your Own Christmas Traditions:
Now That You Are The Parent!

By Julie Jenkins Sathe
Author of Enlightened Discipline ©


I recently had the opportunity to be in the audience for the filming of a TV Show. I was there for a show on holiday problems. After listening to several parents who were on the show, I realized many times we feel trapped in our traditions and then circumstances arise that cause our trappings to fall down on top of us.

For instance, one such couple was in a bit of resentment that their young children were so grateful to Santa Claus for Christmas gifts and not very aware or appreciative since these gifts come from Santa. Another mother was truly unraveling because this year her finances won’t allow her to buy her child at the level and scope she had in Christmases past.

A third child wanted to celebrate Hanukkah. Not because she had changed faith, but because she thought she’d get eight days of gifts.

Well… first things first.

Holidays are always richer if they are about the experience, the time, the environment, the moment. If you, as adults look back into your childhood you will not really remember many gifts. You will remember the feeling of Christmas or Hanukkah that you liked or alternatively you did not like. We, as a nation have indeed become quite focused on the material stuff. But this is a different article….

As you are starting your families, while your children are young make a conscious decision how you and your partner will celebrate with gift-giving, with the myth of Santa Claus and so forth.

My first piece of advice comes from my upbringing. My parents were middle class. They were probably not middle class by today’s standards because they never worried about bills. They never bought on credit and they never bought brand name stuff. So, honestly they felt middle class without acting as if they were upper class. Anyway, as children all four of us got two things from Santa. We got a filled stocking with trinkets, candy, fruit and inexpensive needs like underwear and socks, toothbrushes and combs. Santa filled our stockings with what Mom and Dad would need to buy later, anyway. Then, right beneath each stocking was one gift from Santa. Did you hear that? One gift. The Santa Gift.

We always hoped it would be what we wanted. Sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn’t. Did you hear that? We didn’t always get what we wanted! I know I believed it was what Santa wanted me to have. But the really big, big, big gifts might come from my parents, if there were any. Then my parents could remind me of the cost. They could teach me how to care for my possessions. When I reached the age of eight or nine, I began to recognize it was truly not from Santa of course we all held the magic, the illusion of Santa for many years.

Whether by intention or accident, my parents who had been children of the depression knew how to imposter the “big guy” in a healthy way. My parents gave us all of the other wrapped presents under the tree. Santa, by the way, never wrapped presents. (No worries about wrapping paper hints!)

As a parent, myself I had one truly hard financial Christmas. Not hard, but impossible year. I am blessed that it was only one. That year, in the aftermath of financial crisis, bankruptcy and losing my home even the Santa Gift was meager. My family stepped up and bought a few inexpensive gifts for me to give to my two kids. These were the only gifts my two children received. I must tell you this because it is important. Although my children, ages 3 and 6 had gifts under the tree….I felt like a fraud that I had not chosen them. I had not done anything for them. I smiled through my tears and life moved ahead. I always remember that year. So do my kids, though vaguely. The year before, by contrast Santa had planted a swing set in the back yard. On the hard year, they both got a big, cuddly stuffed animal as their “Santa gift”. But they both lived through it. And I learned a very big lesson.

So, to all those parents who wonder if their childhood will be crushed if your kids don’t get a Wii…….oh, come on! I think of all of the Hanukkah families who hid from the Nazi’s in Germany daring to light their candles and make gifts from those items in their small living space, fearing for their lives but making a holiday!

So, the whole point of this article is to help parents of babies and young children truly look at their holiday traditions. We don’t have to follow the course that someone else laid out, or even our own course. The magical thinking of Santa Claus is short-lived in the life of a child. Give them the magic without giving all the teaching moments of money, gratitude and giving away from your children.

Here is a note for grandparents. Unless you are in the sole role of parent, you are not the parent. Please allow your adult children to be the Santa. Please let them come from their means to provide for Christmas. There are many of the younger generation adults want to live at the economic level of their parents. Well, too bad. You haven’t got there, yet. That’s why you have no credit or it’s ruined. You need to earn those points, those dollars and that credit rating. It takes years. You are not your parents. Grandparents, this might be your fault. You must allow your children to parent. Quit thinking you are the only one who can.

DO’S AND DON’T’S

Do:
Keep the element of surprise.
It is a huge part of Christmas. Never open before Christmas morning. Never give in and give gifts early. Teach your children that peeking at gifts ruins their surprise. It’s a good lesson. They will feel it. Chances are they won’t like it and will never do it more than once.

Don’t:
Buy everything on the list. Use good sense and judgment for what your child wants and what is good for them.

Do:
Savor it.
We open gifts one at a time. Watch each other, thank one another, ooh and ahh at the gifts. Delay gratification while teaching good manners and gratitude. Tidy as you go to slow the process down, and keep the house from being wrecked.

Don’t:
Use Christmas or Holiday gifts as leverage or punishment. Keep some things sacred. These are off limits. Be more creative than that.

Do:
Slow down. Take a moment. Hold the surprise. Live and gift well within your means.

Stay safe. Love each other. Balance your checkbook and create a holiday practice that suits your life. Remember that this is merely one day. Gifts aren’t love, experiences are.

Oh, and Happy Holidays.

Monday, June 8, 2009

They say, "Yes" and you say, "No"

They say, “Yes” and you say, “No”
Why is Parenting always a Conflict?
By Julie Jenkins Sathe
Author of Enlightened Discipline ©

I have many friends who come to me and say, “Julie, help me with this.” “How do I handle that?” Each time it seems so clear to me and they, despite being well educated, bright people seem at a loss….or more likely at the end of their rope.

It doesn’t appear to be the BIG things that confuse them; it is parenting the little things over and over and over again.

For instance, a friend of mine was at a loss because her 4-year-old daughter wanted to eat Chinese food that had been left in the car in the hot sun and was on its way to the garbage can. The child, I will call Emily continued to whine and moan and plead with her mom. Mom was at a loss and felt compelled to make her child quit whining.

She asked me to intervene. I obliged. “Emily, that food is not safe. If you eat it, it will probably make you sick. Either you can throw it away or I can. Do you want to throw it in the trash?”

It’s really that simple. Remember that Enlightened Discipline always heralds back to the three basics: Safe, Kind and Clean. In this case, the food is not safe, period.

What is the next step with unsafe food? Certainly not arguing about it. Parents are sometimes so absorbed in the argument that they fail to move the disagreement with action. The action should include the child.

Kids love being in control. Give them some control and some limited choice. “Do you want to throw it in the trash, or shall I?” Now you have asked Emily to participate instead of stand by without involvement, or feel helpless and victimized. You have also taken away the choice that she was not capable of making because she is a child. Set your child up for success. The choice to eat the food is not available. “Which garbage can shall we put it in, this one or that one?” “Who should throw it away, me or you?” These are choices that are appropriate for your 4-year old. “The metal garbage can? Okay. Thank you.”

The why behind your “no” is the teaching part of Enlightened Discipline.
As parents and teachers if we only say “no” and never say “why”….what have we taught our children?

We have taught them that: that only we are smart, that only we have the answers, they don’t, and they must rely on us. This might be the way a parent feels, but not how enlightened parents want to raise their children. We want children to grow up and use good judgment, know what is healthy, avoid danger, make wise decisions, take care of themselves and respect others. How can they learn this when we do it for them and don’t tell them why? Well, most kids will eventually learn the whys. But it’s a bit like a guessing game. Or more apropos, a process of elimination: they see what we do time and again and make conclusions based on silent information.

Now, clearly this could backfire. How many times have I heard, “do what I say, not what I do”? If parents are saying little that is verbal teaching and children are watching all the decisions, bad and good that their parents make, they may simply get it wrong.

So keep it simple. Talk and teach. When you are saying no, which of the three principles does it break; safe, kind or clean? Tell your child in one clear statement. “Nope, that’s not kind.” Or, “we can’t do that, it isn’t safe.” It doesn’t require much explanation beyond that to teach and be very effective. No negotiation and certainly no debate is needed. In Emily’s case it was easy to teach that old food left in a hot car might make her sick and that is why it isn’t safe.

So, let’s break it down to easy to remember steps:
1. Talk and teach using Safe, Kind and Clean principles.
2. Take action.
3. Give child a role in the action.
4. Provide two choices within the boundaries that you create.
5. Congratulate or thank your child on their decision and their action.

It’s helpful to watch other parents and their children. When we are less attached to the emotions, it is almost always easier. If we watch others and play it out in our head how we would handle it our own your child, we will begin to practice new techniques and build creative solutions that can apply with our own kids.

Happy parenting!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Laugh, Play & Have Fun with Your Child ...On The Cheap!

by Julie Jenkins Sathe

Okay, yeah…yeah…we all have heard the news, the budget, the economy, we are balancing our checkbooks and buying groceries and it feels like spinning plates in the air. Okay, so things were feeling a bit more flush a few years ago….but these are the years of childhood that your little ones have. Don’t let them go because you are stressed over STUFF. Kids don’t want stuff; they want to do what we all should do more of: living in the moment, laughing at what is silly, exploring the world right in front of us.

With preschool kids and toddlers, this is so easy and you have everything you need right where you are. Nothing to buy, no lessons to sign up for….just a slight adjustment to you and your environment.

1st: Start by putting on your comfy clothes and deciding to have fun.

2nd: Stop bragging about how much knowledge or data or skills your child has developed and just let them enjoy and explore their life, their world.

3rd: Look around your kitchen, backyard and look back into your own childhood. There are probably some clues you will glean.

4th: Quit trying to make a product. Make something, do something just for the sake of the action. Nothing to keep, nothing to perfect, no end result to accomplish. This one shift in your behavior alone will remove the adult pressure that we adults sometimes place on our child’s actions.

Ideas, ideas, ideas


*One bowl, rice and a flour scooper.
From your kitchen drawers, pull out these items. Just sit your preschooler or toddler in a chair and lay out the items. You don’t have to say a thing. In fact, it’s more fun…it’s like a surprise! Your little one will begin in a flurry, or slow and steady depending upon their personality. Stay nearby to see if your child requires some parameters, i.e. “try to pour the rice into the bowl, not on the floor, Johnny”.

* Big bowl, water, liquid soap and a whisk.
Who needs directions? Just sit the child on the floor, table or on the porch and watch ‘em GO!

* One fresh orange, an old fashioned manual juicer and shallow bowl.
You may have to get this started, but a preschool child will revel in making their own real orange juice while developing some curiously new skills and understanding of fruit.

* Two, liquid measuring cups, water and a sponge.
Fill one of the measuring cups (you can substitute for an ordinary creamer) with water. Sit your child at the table with the cups and water and a sponge or rag. Eventually the sponge will be filled and the cups will be empty. Great attention builder and develops very good eye-hand coordination skills. If you want, use a tray with a lip around the edge to collect spills or place all on a folded bath towel.

* Boxes, tubes and cans
Before you recycle, fill up the kitchen table or floor with some recyclables for building and creating. Sit on the floor with your child, perhaps you can provide some engineering assistance.

* Go for a walk
Take a paper sack for your walk with your child. Along the way create a game of collecting things. Maybe you want to start with a theme: leaves, shells, feathers, flowers or even litter. You can make a teaching opportunity out of carefully watching for dangers, washing hands and so forth. When you return home your child’s treasures can be displayed or glued onto a piece of cardboard. Take a photo of your collection and add a caption “Jenny’s Tuesday Trash Hunt” or “Matthews Feathered Friends”. Take a photo and release the collection whenever you feel done.

* Turn off the TV and pack a picnic.

Lay a cloth on the front or back lawn and have a picnic at home. If the weather is gloomy, do it inside! Make eating a fun, memorable time. Don’t let those calories get lost in cartoons or movies.

* Color.

* Paint with water on the sidewalk.

* Play with shaving cream on a Formica counter, tile table or kitchen tray.

* Scoop, pour, stir, whisk…..


Put away the bills, turn off the tube, shut down the computer. Smile, laugh, hold hands and sing songs. These years will fly by, create some memories that you and your child will never forget.




Monday, May 11, 2009

"DISCIPLINE vs. PUNISHMENT" updated

“Discipline vs. Punishment”
Julie Jenkins Sathe
Author of “ENLIGHTENED DISCIPLINE”

I walked into the room and heard a teacher say, “So, I know you don’t believe in discipline, so what do you do when…..”

The rest of the sentence was lost to me. We don’t discipline? I don’t discipline? What?

It occurred to me that this is not really a question of practice, but a question of semantics. I must admit that I even hesitate to use the word discipline when speaking about my book. Originally the title was, “Safe, Kind and Clean: Behavioral Education”. Behavioral Education was a phrase that I liked, a phrase that I coined and used for the past 20-something years. I spent hours teaching my preschool staff to use it. I spent hours enrolling parents in our program and used that term to clearly underline the unique difference between our child care center and so many others. But, people are creatures of habit and it takes a long time to change people’s perceptions. When I wrote “Safe, Kind and Clean” I thought that would be a turning point to the readers hearing it and getting it. Then, I realized when people asked about my book and topic, I struggled to pitch the concept to them while shaking their hand.

You know how it is; someone shakes your hand and asks,  "What you do for a living?". You have a two second window to cordially respond, “I’m a contractor" or "I’m a fourth grade teacher.” Similarly when people shake my hand and say, "What is your book about?" They want a response like “Quantum Physics" or "Remodeling the Farmhouse”. But when people asked about my book my response was unclear, too lengthy and not easy to introduce. I wanted to convince the listener of this new concept of Behavioral Education. What I heard was the rambling of my voice that never really answered their question, took much too long and left me feeling less competent than I know myself to be.

A year or so later, I was at the wedding of a friend and colleague. He, one of the two grooms, introduced me to a table of his colleagues. They all worked for the Department of Education and would certainly be people I would want to know. My friend Norman said, “This is Julie Jenkins Sathe. She has written a wonderful book on DISCIPLINE.”

Internally I felt the swell of objection begin to rise within me. But externally, I saw comprehension, respect and poof…..I was shaking hands and done with the awkward introduction. Wow. This was a Zen moment. Go with the flow. Be here now. All of those lines I know began to fill my mind.

It didn’t take long for me to recognize that others must understand and label your ideas into something familiar before they can give them their due individuation. Even my friend, Norman at his wedding was one of the grooms. His partner, yes, a man was the other groom. Someday this will not be rare. Today it still is. But it is still a wedding. They are still grooms. We understand these roles and identify with the terminology. Then, we can modify the uniqueness of the situation as is required.

Needless to say, it was time to rename the book. So, I did. The new name came very easily for me, “Enlightened Discipline: the Safe, Kind and Clean Philosophy and Techniques". Those couple of zen moments led me to the title, itself a bit zen.

So, I will clearly state that we do discipline children in our care at my preschool, Caring Connection Children's Center. We use Enlightened Discipline. I state with confidence that my book is a discipline book, teaching adults a new set of techniques and a new philosophy of discipline. The title? "Enlightened Discipline: Safe, Kind and Clean".

Staff meetings continue at my preschool as we teach incoming teachers the nuances of Enlightened Discipline and massage and correct our own skills all the time. Parents continue to enroll their children and I have given myself permission to explain to people in the language that they understand the uniqueness of our discipline philosophy. I will say, “Our discipline philosophy is so unique, I like to call it Behavioral Education, as we teach children a way to behave that serves themselves and others.”

Perhaps the reason that the word discipline bothered me so much is that people tend to mix and match discipline with the word punishment. Enlightened Discipline will not ever be confused with punishment. There are consequences and there is punishment. Allow me to share my definitions: Punishment is imposed by someone else, someone in a position of power, authority or rank.

Consequences occur. Consequences are the responses that the universe, laws of science and laws of society and humanness provide without provocation. When you throw something, it will come down. How successful you are -and you feel- is determined on where and when you throw something. If you speak unkind words, you may have an unfavorable response from the person whose feelings have been hurt. If you cause another person harm or property is damaged the harm or damage must be repaired or remain damaged.

In the Enlightened Discipline environment, the teacher or parent is able to use the consequences to teach the child how he/she can better work this life to avoid unfavorable results. Also, they can teach the child how being a participant in the outcome they will feel a sense of personal success. Ahhhhh! That’s the enlightened part.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

15 Tips for Creating Success for Your Preschool Child

15 Tips for Creating Success
for your Preschool Child
By Julie Jenkins Sathe
Author of “ENLIGHTENED DISCIPLINE”
www.safekindandclean.com
  1. Begin your child’s day with a healthy breakfast. Avoid quick foods with a high sugar content. Balance carbohydrates with protein by adding peanut butter to a graham cracker or a banana. Stay away from fast food. Really.
  2. Begin your day and your child’s day fresh. Avoid “left over” arguments from yesterday. Let it go! This is old news and not developmentally appropriate for you to expect your child to even remember yesterday’s news. In addition, you have more to concentrate on than yesterday’s bad news. Move on.
  3. Be sure your child is dressed comfortably. Ensure that he/she is wearing clothing that focuses less on fashion and more on weather. This means dress him/her in layers with comfort in mind and freedom to be expressive within his/her day.
  4. Do yourself and the preschool a favor and label your child’s clothing. Even after labeling, don’t send anything to preschool that you love. It’s too great a risk. These clothes are your child’s equivalent to ‘work clothes’.
  5. Be happy and excited with your child about their school, friends and teachers. It's okay that they are happy to go to school and like the other people there. Parents sometimes feel that they must seem concerned, even worried so their child senses their loss and therefore their love. Phooey! Children want you to be happy; then they will be happy! So why are earth wouldn’t you find happiness in the joy and experiences of their life?
  6. Be sure to take a few moments to visit your child’s classroom or teacher. This is a very personal time and an intimate inter-relationship. Don’t fall into the trap of not knowing who your child is connecting with and then waiting for something to go wrong before you try to make a connection.
  7. Volunteer or visit in the classroom or during extra curricular events. Be interested in what your preschooler is trying to share with you. As parents, you are busy and preoccupied with your own job and household routines. Put them away for a few moments. Turn off your cell phone. Quit text messaging. When you are at preschool and with your child before and afterward, be interested in what you preschooler has to share…a new song, a never-ending story….be there. You will enrich both of your lives.
  8. Ask about the ways that you can add to the preschool program from home: an activity to expand at home or something for your child to bring related to the theme or season. Maybe you can save plastic water bottles for a craft or bring in recycled office envelopes for a new dramatic play office area. It takes so little to add a lot.
  9. Take time to read the preschool’s lesson plan so that you can better understand what your child is trying to share with you. They haven't the vocabulary of an adult, so use the adult's plan to help you piece it together.
  10. Be a part of whatever is available to you at school for parents. Perhaps there are parent groups, newsletter photos, articles, work parties or fundraisers. Take photos and send them to the school.
  11. At home, turn of the TV and just visit each evening before bedtime with your child. Not for hours, just 5-15 minutes. You can do that.
  12. Turn off the car radio and cell phone on the way home and to school. Sing with your child; listen to their stories, plans, excitement. This time will be gone so quickly.
  13. Be sure your child is well-bathed, combed with clean teeth and comfortable for a good night’s sleep. This will follow them through their lifetime as the precious, safe time. It will also create for them a vision for how to parent their own children.
  14. Take care of yourself. Make sure you have a few moments each night and every morning to yourself. Make sure your child is safe. Maybe you must wake up early, but make the time. It is well worth it for your peace of mind. Teach your child to understand you require alone time for a hot bath, a warm meal or a good read. Close the door and remember who you are. A better YOU makes a better parent.
  15. Create boundaries with your child. Permissive or inconsistent parenting is very confusing to a child. Make some simple rules and insist they are followed: Bedtime, bath time, how we eat, what words are used, etc. Read more in Enlightened Discipline (c) creating your personal foundational beliefs.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

PARENTING....IT'S A BALANCING ACT

PARENTING …. THE BALANCING ACT

It’s every parent’s first job, to strike a balance between home, work, children, personal time and recreation. It is not only important, but striking a balance is the most self-less thing a parent can do. Well rounded parents who are actively involved in more than doing for others (yeah….all you mother-martyrs, I’m talking to you!) are just better.

Parents who find time to play, to rest, to be with other adults are better at being parents when they are parenting. Adults who make the time to go and spend time with other adults, those that they actually like (not at a PTA board meeting) are going to be better parents. So have I made my point? Parents, whether married or single, must find time to rest, play, be a grown up, continue growing themselves and also parent their children. This is the balance that will make parents the best that they can be.

Sometimes parenting and managing a household, whether there is outside employment or not can be overwhelming. The following article will give some simple ways to trick yourself into starting new habits and breaking old ones.

Get a kitchen timer.
While you are at home, allow one hour for the chores that are likely to consume you like housecleaning, bill paying that can consume you. Set the timer and make yourself stop and change to another activity. This will help reduce your stress level and ensure you aren’t spending unnecessary time dawdling or getting lost in the details of a task.

Get a book.
Turn off the t.v. and read. It is important that your mind has the opportunity to upgrade, and rest at the same time. Find some enjoyable reading material, a novel or personal growth reading…..(hear this as NOT a work related topic). The wonderful side benefit of this is that you are modeling great habits for your children, toddlers to teens will benefit from the TV or computer going mute and watching a parent read, in quiet.

Move.
Whether you work and parent…or are a stay at home parent, you must make time to move your body, preferably in the fresh air. Stretch, dance, walk, stroll, bicycle….take the children, push the stroller, walk the dog or fly a kite. Dance to 3 songs on the radio, rake leaves, play basketball, play hopscotch, go on a nature walk and pick up leaves, rocks, pine cones or pick up trash. Find a way to move and do it regularly. If you find yourself being resistant here is an idea: write a list of ideas of simple movement like the ones above. Ask your child or a friend for their ideas if you can not think of any others. Write all of them on a piece of paper and cut each one into small strips (or use a small note paper for each). Fold them and drop into a jar or can. Set your timer for the one hour (or half hour to begin with, start with; 15 minutes. Just start.) Draw one of the movement ideas out of the jar and DO IT! Make a game with yourself and your children. Of course, never leave young children alone. If you can include them, even better, Be aware that some parents may find this a great time to be alone. If you have the support of another adult, take this time to be away from the kids if you know it will do you good.

Eat well.
Mom was right. You are what you eat. But mom’s food may be the ones that you need to avoid. Make small changes to your diet and you children’s menu plan. Cut out fast foods, eliminate sodas and sugary drinks. Replace with water. Splash in lemon slices, mint sprigs and so forth. Go to the farmer’s market in your neighborhood. Get fresh fruits and vegetables. If you just start with these changes, it will significantly change your health and your children’s nutritional intake.

Environment matters.
Where you live makes you feel a particular way. If it is cluttered and dirty, it feels cramped and stifling. If it is cozy and lived-in, it feels good and well, like home. A parent can be overly focused on housecleaning to the point of stressing out the children in an effort to be perfect at all times. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a house that is not fresh, smells of smoke or other household odors is not healthy. Every home can be aired out, wiped down and swept. Homes do not need to be new or sparkling to feel good.

Fun.
One of the most important things parents can do with their children is laugh, play and actually enjoy themselves. Two things to know: it is never too late and….start now. Having fun does not mean spending money. Set up the environment for easy, silly times that will become your family memories. Play board games, get out the deck of cards, watch a silly movie and eat popcorn, play twister, Yahtzee, bingo, pin the tail on the donkey, charades, write poems, have a jingle contest, bake and decorate, go fishing, ride bikes, take a nature walk……the list goes on.

Be still.
Whether it is for five minutes or one hour, every parent must seek solace, peace and quiet regularly. If it is possible to run a bath and light a few candles once the kids are in bed, I highly recommend it. Unplug the phone, step away from the TV and computer and close your eyes…..breath. If you have access to a yoga class, sign up and learn techniques for relaxation. Pick up a quiet CD with no words, just relaxation music. Use this to help young children settle down before bedtime, and again you can model relaxation as a practice for your kids. Remember, all the chores will be there when you are done.

Balance is the way to remember who you are and to know that you will keep growing and maturing, yourself. It isn’t just your children that will grow. Adults need time to grow and stretch themselves. The better adults we are, the better we are in balance…the better we can parent our children.

Monday, May 4, 2009

HOW PARENTS CAN unSTRESS THEIR PRESCHOOLER

C’mon, Mom…Let Me Play!
By Julie Jenkins Sathe
Author of “ENLIGHTENED DISCIPLINE”
www.safekindandclean.com

To a child, adult approval means everything. Children who are worried about the routine occurrences that can happen during the course of a normal day may run into real problems. Let’s look at it from a child’s view.

I’m small, too short to reach many things that are offered to me, so I miss them, they fall. …spill and there is a mess.

My fingers don’t always hold onto things like a grown-up’s. My small hands don’t fit all the way around the cup that Grandma hands me….it spills. Or the plate that Daddy gives me to hold is much too heavy for me…I drop it.

My arms don’t always know what is behind me and I forget that I have to turn around and look. I knock things off…sometimes things break.

My legs are running so fast because I am so excited to go play. Maybe I will even get to be on that special swing! But, my legs went so fast that I slipped into the mud….now my clothes are all wet and yucky.

My mind didn’t realize that the pee was coming out RIGHT NOW! I wet my pants…again.

As parents, we need to remember to dress our children so that they are ready for play and LIFE as a kid. They will wash after preschool or their play date. Parents need to be gentle with their criticism and think of it from the child’s perspective.

J Do dress your child in “play clothes”. Go to the Goodwill or any second hand store in your town and pay pennies for good, sturdy clothes that won’t bother YOU if they are stained.

J Do make sure children can fasten and unfasten their clothing on their own. They can only be successful with the skills they currently have. Avoid buckles and snaps, trendy zippers and overalls.

J Do make sure you provide a change of clothes for every day. Make life more comfortable mentally and physically for the child who has a mishap.

J Most of all…curb your criticism. They have waited all day for you….maybe all week if you have shared custody. They want your hug, your kiss, your approval. Love them up!

DOG TALK? Stop It!!

DOG TALK?
STOP IT.
Julie Jenkins Sathe
Author of “ENLIGHTENED DISCIPLINE”

“Stop it!” is a perfect example of what I call Dog Talk. It is really quite startling to parents when I reprimand them on their speech pattern by referring to it as Dog Talk. But they sure do get my point.

Dog Talk is the use of short, clipped commands. There is really no teaching, no compassion and no patience in this style of speech. It is clear that Dog Talk is the use of commands rather than directions. If we really look at the difference to us adults it is a matter of perhaps 3 seconds that sets Dog Talk apart from Teaching Speech. But the difference to a child may be life changing!

Here the difference:

DOG TALK: “Get down!”
TEACHING SPEECH: “Samantha, standing on the table is not safe.”

DOG TALK: “Stop it!”
TEACHING SPEECH: “Jennifer, that noise is too loud. Be kind to your baby brother’s ears.”

Remember that our goal as parents is to teach and re-teach. If you seem to be repeating yourself, recognize that your child needs to hear the directions that many times to learn successful behavior. I’m sure that in your job or household life, you have had to practice skills again and again. That is what children need. Somehow, we adults think these skills should be known. Not true. They must be taught, practiced and learned.

As a parent, if we choose to use short commands (Dog Talk) we are only teaching them OUR desires. Many of us were raised that way and we did learn something. We learned what would make the adult mad. We learned (through trial and error) how far we could cross a line. But there is a better way than this fear based style of discipline. This abrupt style misses the best opportunity we have to teach children the real life reasons why a particular behavior is better, so that the child has the skills to make these decisions for themselves in their future, without you nearby.

As parents, we really do have a reason why we are seeking a certain behavior. But do you ever get caught up in it and actually forget why? This style makes you remember your reasons. I guarantee that your reasons will always lead you back to one of the foundational words that I use in the Enlightened Discipline philosophy: Safe, Kind or Clean.

Go back through the examples above. If you need convincing, think of your spouse or coworker talking to you in Dog Talk fashion. How does that feel? Would you accept that? I hope not.

PROMISES TO CHILDREN...a Slippery Slope!

Julie Jenkins Sathe
Author of “ENLIGHTENED DISCIPLINE”
www.safekindandclean.com

For anyone who has children or works with children, making promises is something we adults must all consider. Really consider.

If you watch yourself, the reason that you are making a promise may have motivations that are questionable, at best. Run your commitments by the Promise Meter:

Are you making a promise as a prepayment for something you want? Ex: “Susie, I promise that I will take you to the park if you clean up your toys.” (otherwise known as a bribe)

Are you making a promise because you are paying off a debt of failure? Ex: “Johnny, I know that I promised you that we would go to the park, but now I have to work so I promise you I will take you tomorrow.” (notice this is a new promise on a broken promise)

Are you making a promise for a failure of your character? Ex: “Susie, when I am not so tired I will take you to the park.”

Are you making an unrealistic promise because you don’t want to disappoint your child? “Sure, someday we can go on vacation to Disneyland.”

If you go back and reread all of the potential scenarios and get very honest with yourself, you may recognize some of your promises fit into the above categories. The interesting point is that they are really the same. Promises are creating expectations of children that misuse your power, your personal limitations, and your failures. They are simply manipulation.

If and when an adult chooses to do something for a child or with a child that that child would like, it should be completely clear of any pay off. The adult is in complete control of these relationships and is teaching their child to use promises as currency. A promise that is a commitment and is done on time, all the time is simply lifestyle. A promise that is made verbally and not done is a debt. Debt of any kind is failure and will only lead to disappointment. Most parents try very hard never to lie to their children, but because promises are currency, they are a deadly recipe for lying. Your child may not notice the first time, but eventually he/she will see you for what you are. They won’t call you a debtor; they will call you a liar.

Parents must learn to create a clean ledger page with their child. Do what you can, when you can. Do not make promises of time, activities or property that you cannot immediately deliver.

Adults have a much better understanding of time than do children. “Tomorrow” or “later” to a young child is a concept that they simply cannot yet grasp. Don’t use your power and intellect this way.

Children benefit a great deal from understanding that “things change” in life. A child can understand something like, “maybe we can go to the movies later. I will decide after shopping if we have time to go or not.”

The parent should further explain “Maybe means ‘maybe yes’ ‘maybe no’.” Have your children repeat this back to you any time you say maybe. “What does maybe mean?”

Stop Playing the Maybe Game:
If you have no intention or you are unable to do what your child desires, tell them the truth. Don’t use maybe as a new way to lie. Children will get that quick, too.

Ex: “Mommy, can I have ice cream”. We don’t have any ice cream, Susie. You can have a banana.” This truthful NO answer will be an easier truth for your child to deal with than hearing, “maybe later if I can buy some”. That is a lie and you will be caught.

Quit Negotiating with your Kids:
Give children clear limits and what they can expect of you. Ex: “Mommy, can I have ice cream for breakfast?” “Ice cream is not healthy, how about a banana and scrambled eggs?” “”No I want ice cream?” “How about a Pop Tart?” “No. I want ice cream.” “How about hot chocolate and a donut?” This could go on for days and make you crazy.

When the answer is NO it should not be watered down by negotiations. If you are open to suggestions, make that clear, too. Children can benefit from working through alternatives, but not whittling your decisiveness down. The most successful option for young children is a two choice alternative. “Do you want oatmeal or scrambled eggs?” Now, stick to it parents!

The truthful, strong parenting answer would have been “no.” A no answer will be an easier message for your child to understand what is appropriate and what your word is worth. Parents must consider that the little things, like words do make up their character in the eyes and ears of their children.

Children are smart and will learn from their primary caregiver. They will learn honesty or deceit. They will learn trust or skepticism. They will learn reality or fantasy. They will learn strength and ethics.

Keep in mind that children until age five, or so are still “magical thinkers”. They still believe in fairy tales, in Santa Claus, in monsters under the bed and in daddy coming back from wherever he went to…. Avoid at all costs confusing being gentle or letting them down easy with lying to your children. Remember, liars are always caught. Trying to be too easy on them may end up being hard on you!