WHOOPS!

Posted April 14, 2014 by raising able
Categories: Uncategorized

Hello Raising Able subscribers,

Apologies about the previous post with Rep Niki Tsongas and ending mass incarceration.
The two blogs got crossed in blog-land.
This site is about parenting to keep your kids and you out of prison!

–Susan

“You’re perfect…” And other lies parents tell

Posted April 25, 2013 by raising able
Categories: Uncategorized

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As you can tell from my blog, my goal was for my children to become independent, resilient, hard working [thus the emphasis on chores] and capable.

They were far from spoiled. Lone Coombs book, “You’re perfect…” and other lies parents tell; The ugly truth about spoiling your kids caught my eye at the library. Hurrah, someone else besides me is against praising kids’ every breath, crayon scribble and effort.

She believes in family connectivity  and offers 13 steps to build a better family, including some of my favorites. Number 1 on the list is Eat together, then establish a regular family night. I call these family meetings. Others include: build a family identity, schedule family service projects [one more thing on the to-do list, but valuable], laugh together [essential - I add PLAY TOGETHER], create one-on-one parent-child time [I regret not following this at least once a month], never play favorite, build traditions, share values, and know when to seek outside assistance.

Author Coombs is a lawyer, mom and step-mom who isn’t afraid to tell the truth about how over-coddling leads to dangerous and destructive teenage behavior.

Treasure and take advantage of the first twelve years to connect with your kids, teach them how to handle disappointment. Expect them to sweep the floor and scoop the dog poop. Allow them to experience cause and effect of their less-than-perfect decisions.

Coombs warns that pampered kids who are given everything Mom and Dad never got “are setting up an insidious mentality in their kids, instilling in them both an overwhelming sense of entitlement and a lack of empathy for others. The combination of these two factors can pave the way to completely ruin a child’s life because it robs them of two crucial influences: the concept of rules and consequences and a concern for other people’s feelings.”

Get this book and read it, no matter how old your children are. Then follow the suggestions. Fear is a great motivator. I lived on the fear of messing up my kids and the guilt that I was too … whatever. Today, my kids might be too independent. They are not entitled, drug-addicted, or living in my basement. We have the foundation for a life-long relationship, in part, thanks to family meetings.

Schedule your family time TODAY. Put up a blank family meeting agenda [see tip sheets]. It’s worth the investment and prevention of future problems.

How to talk to kids about tragedy

Posted April 16, 2013 by raising able
Categories: Uncategorized

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Here are some resources if you’re struggling with how to explain to children heinous violence, like we did yesterday at the end of the Boston Marathon.

The Riverside Trauma Center offers tip sheets on Talking with Your Children About Traumatic EventsChildren and Trauma, and Practicing Self-Care After Traumatic Events

Below is a brief list of resources from other reputable organizations:

 The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) offers Resources in Response to the Bombings.

 The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) offersTips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope after a Disaster or Traumatic Event. This document provides specific information for talking to children of different ages.

 

 

A Letter to Victoria’s Secret From a Father

Posted March 26, 2013 by raising able
Categories: Uncategorized

A Letter to Victoria’s Secret From a Father.

Yes, I agree. Victoria’s Secret is wrong to introduce a line of underwear for young girls called “wild.”

 

Don’t expect a silk purse from a sow’s ear

Posted March 25, 2013 by raising able
Categories: Uncategorized

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Perhaps one of the most valuable gift from other parents, parenting books, workshops and experience is adjusting your expectations and knowing the capability of your toddlers, preschoolers, school age, tweens and teens. 

 One of my guidelines for toddlers was, “Sharing is a 3-year-old trait.” The study from today’s Boston Globe might refute that. I know adults who have a hard time sharing! Imagine if someone told you, upon receiving a brand new i-Phone, “Share that with your little sister.” 

NOT!

Having high expectations is critical in nurturing kids and teens toward independence, making good decisions and guiding them toward the people you want them to be. 

AND having reasonable expectations for their age is even more critical. Talk to other parents, read books, go to workshops and discern what is “normal.” Then take a deep breath and practice one of the most precious gifts my kids gave me, which took years to develop, PATIENCE.

Study reveals that when it comes to sharing, young children are hypocrites— and they know it

It’s both a scientific mystery and a parenting conundrum: How do children learn to share?

Children as young as 3 understand the concept of fairness. Fair means one child should get the same number of stickers as another. But put a young child in charge, and fairness seems to go out the window — young children tend to hoard when they are the ones who are deciding how much of their own candy or toys to hand over.

New research is beginning to untangle the disconnect between knowledge and behavior, with a surprising finding: Young children asked to predict how they will divvy up stickers already anticipate they will tip the scale in their favor. When it comes to sharing, the 3 – to 6-year-old set is — scientifically speaking — a bunch of selfaware hypocrites.

“They were surprisingly honest and self-aware. They said, ‘I realize I would keep more formyself,’ ’’ said Peter Blake, an assistant professor of psychology at Boston University and a co-author of the work. “Anything that involves giving up resources brings us into an evolutionary context, where kids might have a bias to be more selfinterested” in order to survive to reproduce.

The study, published Wednesday in PLOS ONE by Blake and colleagues from Harvard University and the University of Michigan, recruited participants from visitors to the Museum of Science in Boston.

First, researchers gave each of the children four stickers with carefully researched qualities that would be desirable to children ranging from 3 to 8 years old: their favorite color, smileyfaced, scratch-and-sniff. These stickers belong to you now, the researchers told the kids.

Then, they asked them to divide up the stickers, to share them with another boy or girl. Next, they asked the children how many of the stickers another boy or girl should share.

Children of all ages agreed that other children should split up the stickers evenly. But when it came to their own sharing, younger children were far more likely to keep more for themselves. To test whether this was a problem of impulse control, the researchers ran a gauntlet of tests designed to probe how well the children could inhibit impulses, seeing whether they could, for example, view a picture of the sun and say the opposite word, night, in a short time frame.

The ability to inhibit their first impulses seemed to have nothing to do with their decision to keep more stickers. The biggest difference that emerged was how children explained why they or another child did or did not share. The youngest kids talked far less often about sharing being fair as the reason for a decision to share, and far more often about their own desires.

In a second experiment, researchers changed the question slightly. They asked another group of children to imagine how many stickers they would give to another child. Despite the fact that children of all ages had made it clear they understood that splitting the stickers was fair, the youngest ones predicted they would hoard them — which is precisely what their peers had done in the first experiment.

It wasn’t amatter of trying to do the right thing and failing; those kids knew what they wanted. Stickers.

Now, Blake would like to test the behavior more broadly, in children from different cultures. He wonders whether in societies that place responsibilities on children earlier in life, the younger children will start splitting resources fairly.

He’s interested in understanding the cognitive processes, the mental machinery, that underlies behavior. But he says there may be a practical application, too. Understanding the behavior could provide an opportunity to improve behavior or education, by finding ways to teach kids to share more effectively at a younger age.

After the sessions at theMuseum of Science, “the parents seem relieved, to some extent,” Blake said. “They say, ‘I’mglad that they know what the right response is, but how can I get them to be more fair?’ ”

Homework hassles, headaches and happiness

Posted February 18, 2013 by raising able
Categories: cause and effect, Family meetings, homework, Make good decisions, natural and logical consequences, related, respectful and reasonable

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Homework and children, parents and homework, how to solve homework. Help, my kid won't do homework. My kids refuse to do homework. "Homework" , "homework and kids"Homework is the source of great angst between parents and children. Take the example of John, 8, and Mom (names changed to protect the real people).

John, 8, is highly intelligent with many behavioral issues and learning disabilities. “When he wants to, John can do his homework in a snap,” says Mom. “When he’s at school, under supervision, he can do it in a snap.”

Well, then, what happens at home? We parents get snared in the complex web of parent-child emotions, power sharing, and time management.

Here are suggestions to give your children the opportunity to learn responsibility through trial and error, free parents from this onerous task, and free up time and energy for positive parent-child time.

Q: Whose problem is homework?

A: The child is responsible for homework. The hare-brained schools that assign homework to children younger than third grade assign parents homework, setting up the bad habit of making homework a parent’s problem.

Unfortunately, until your child is in third grade, parents must share the responsibility. From third grade and up, schools have excellent structures in place for miscreants and parents can step back.

Q: How do parents encourage children to do homework?

A: Put “homework” on a family meeting agenda. At a quiet, neutral time when everyone is in the problem-solving mode, say, “Let’s talk about homework. When is the best time for you to do homework? Where would you like to do homework? What role do you want mom/dad to take in homework? I will expect you to ask for help if needed.”

You get the idea. Talk about it. LISTEN to their suggestions. Decide on a plan. Implement the plan for at least a week, to show you respect them, take them seriously and expect them to take on homework as their problem. Expect three weeks to learn the new habit.

At the family meeting, say, “I’m going to let you [kids] take on this responsibility. I will support you however you need it. Let’s follow your suggestions for this week and we’ll meet again to talk about how things are going.”

You are now promoted to “consultant,” not a parent, homework cop or nag.

Q: How to follow through?

A: You must allow time for children to learn new habits, for them to realize that you are serious, not just “trying” something new.

YOU MUST BE PREPARED to allow them to fail. To ignore their decisions that might cause them to miss a homework assignment. 

Schools have built-in structures for students who do not complete homework assignments. Allow your child to make decisions about when and where to do homework, or not, and allow him/her to feel the cause and effect of his/her decisions.

Q: How can I allow my child to fail to turn in homework?

A: Perhaps you’re reading this blog in desperation, exhausted from struggling with homework every day. Let it go. Think of the valuable lessons you have learned through mistakes and failure. Do not deny your child this opportunity to learn cause and effect.

Keep reading, unless you want to continue to go crazy by forcing kids to do homework on your terms.

Q: How do I motivate my children to do homework, without nagging?

A: Daniel Pink, author of “Drive: the surprising truth behind what motivates us,” says humans are motivated by three things: Mastery, autonomy and purpose. Notice what’s not in the top three: money, recess, good grades, or pleasing parents. Money, according to Pink, is the lowest form of motivation.

Mastery means to feel good about doing something. Autonomy translates to freedom. Purpose means that there’s a reason to do something, which could be to avoid punishment. True motivation comes from within. It’s your job to nurture it through mastery, autonomy and purpose.

Q: What will other parents and teachers think and feel about me?

A: Most other parents will be jealous that you’re no longer going crazy over homework every day, and that you can use the time and energy to connect with your child in a positive way. Teachers will understand, especially if you privately mention your new stance. Ask him/her for support for a few weeks until your child learns the new habit of taking responsibility and choosing when and where to do homework.

Teachers and parents can recognize school projects completed by parents, not children. Your kids’ efforts will be more realistic and rough around the edges. They can feel the mastery, autonomy and purpose from doing projects independently.

Q: Am I totally absolved from my kids’ homework?

A: No. You are a consultant. You will ask questions, provide encouragement, and guide them to make good decisions. If your child does not complete a homework assignment and gets punished at school, do not inflict additional punishment at home. Let him/her handle school, where experts know what children are capable of.

I like to share with parents a list of famous high school dropouts. School isn’t for everyone. There are alternatives, like the General Equivalency Diploma, home schooling, charter schools and community college for older teens. Academic success is a child’s choice, not a parents’ demand. Unless you want them to work for your praise.

Remember that childhood is a process of letting go, of transferring power and responsibility from your side of the seesaw, when you do everything, to the child’s side of the seesaw, when they take over responsibility and power for their lives. Homework is an excellent example of a safe place they can experiment with power, success, failure, mastery, autonomy and purpose. They can take on this responsibility.

See more in my book, “Raising Able: How chores empower families”  [available on Amazon in print and Kindle] on family meetings and encouragement, the most potent ways to foster everything you want your child to do and become in life, and establish a positive lifelong connection.

Allow the opportunity for connection, exploration and “I’m bored

Posted February 9, 2013 by raising able
Categories: attitude, belonging, boredom, connection, empowerment, Encouragement, You can do it

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The weather outside is frightful today in New England. Many families are holed up. Some parents may be dreading a day of entertaining and refereeing the kids.

My suggestion is to treasure this day as an opportunity to connect. Spend some time together shoveling, making hot cocoa or cookies, or playing a game for a while. Get outside and revel in the snow together.

After spending some positive attention at a neutral time when the kids are not whining, fighting or complaining, go your separate ways and check in with them every hour or so. The younger they are the more frequently you check in.  Notice what they’re doing and offer encouragement by offering observations or asking questions. You can simply watch quietly and do not disturb a good thing.

Things might get worse before they discover the art of self-entertainment. Allow them to learn the joys of having a brother or sister. Boredom can lead to creativity. It is not parents’ job to solve a child’s lack of initiative. Encourage them by saying, “I’m sure you can find something to do.”

Remember the three steps to empower kids to self-entertain and avoid boredom:

1. Spend positive attention at a neutral time every day — at least 15 minutes. This type of connection can solve MANY larger behavioral issues.

2. Expect them to find something constructive to do independently. Allow them to do nothing and feel the stillness, even boredom. This is Zen! Do not solve complaints or bickering with TV or a video. Expecting them to find something to do will probably generate a mess. Allow it. Plan on spending time cleaning up together. The blanket forts, spilled flour, and toys spread all over the floor are evidence of creativity, initiative and cooperation (if you have more than one child).

3. Encourage their efforts in a quiet, low-key manner. Just watch silently.

As I tell my kids, YOU CAN DO IT.

 


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