Archive for the ‘act don’t yak’ category

What I wish I knew as a young mom

September 6, 2012
What I wish I knew as a young mother- spend more time, less worry. love them, set limits and love with logic. Limits set kindly and firmly are the most important. I had NO IDEA how much parenting support groups would help me be a better mother

This is three families at a cottage off the coast of Maine. My family is in the front two rows. Our friend Bruce is on the second row in the plaid shirt and Colin is wearing the baseball cap.

There’s so much to know to be a good mother that young moms can’t know it all. They can learn it from their kids and from other moms. Here’s ten things I wish I knew, or I discovered along the way.

1. Time is short, even though it feels long when they’re young. Cherish their childhood. It will be gone faster than you can believe. I know everyone says this and the days are long.  Go the extra mile even when it’s hard.

2. Motherhood means sacrifice. You will eventually have more time for you. See #1. Learn to give as much as humanly possible. They’ll always want more anyways!

3. Take care of yourself. It took me a few years to learn this one. Self-care makes you a better mother. Spend some time and money on YOU. Then you have more to give.

4. Don’t fool with regret and guilt. Do your best. There is no perfect mother out there. As long as you get it right at least half the time, you’re good. Get help! See #5.

5. Other mothers and experienced mothers can help. Parenting support groups saved me and showed me how to have a respectful and healthy relationship with my kids, without yelling, threatening, spanking, bribing and punishment. It was an investment of time and effort that paid off.

6. HAVE FUN. Your kids will cherish the good times and hopefully forgive and forget the not-so-good. Kids thrive on fun. Laugh, play games, tell stories, play Charades together.

7. Kids don’t have to have it all. Learn to say “no” in a kind and firm way. Encourage them to earn money to buy more stuff. Show them how to have fun without spending a dime.

8. Kids are wonderful teachers. They are patient and kind. They will reflect back who and what we are. Sometimes the reflection is painful. They are flexible and can learn from us, especially through our actions. My kids let me make the same mistake over and over again until I figured out a different way.

9. Having family meetings and having kids do chores and family dinners are like putting money in the bank, an investment in everything you want your kids to become in the future.

10. Don’t sweat the small stuff. When my two young sons discovered a mud bath and got really dirty, my choice was to reprimand them or surrender and get out the camera, quickly, and laugh.

Kids fighting: Let them work it out

June 11, 2012
Sibling rivalry is a time honored tradition and challenge for parents. When kids fight they are learning so much. Letting kids fight and sibling rivarly roar is the best way to let kids learn how to get along. Sibling rivalry is right with lessons. My kids fighting taught them valuable lessons.

Sometimes my kids needed a boxing ring to work out the challenges.

Kids fighting is a common complaints from parents. Here’s a story from a reader who solved it by letting her two kids work it out. Their ages are irrelevant. What matters is Mom’s calm encouraging approach.”Cora needed new clothes, and Joe didn’t want to go shopping. We had a day off (from school), so it was convenient. We went to to three shops, and Joe ate the chocolate bars I had in my bag, drank the water and was super-patient.

“Afterwards, Cora wanted to go to the shoe shop, but Joe was fed up. I told her that she would have to convince him to go herself. They had a private tete-a-tete, and the next minute they both started walking towards the shoe shop.

“I asked them how that happened, and they told me that they agreed that he could look in the toy shop as long as he liked after we went to the shoe shop.

“We went home happy with three bags of clothes, sensible shoes and no fights. What more could a parent ask? They have learned to see the other guy’s point of view and to work on the individual they need to change. They both seem to have twigged (British slang for understand) that I never wanted to be the big boss, I just go along and advise and drive the car and don’t want to be the referee all the time.

“When we got home it turned out that Cora also said to Joe ‘If you go to the shoe shop, I’ll tell you where the switch is on the router.’ This has irked Joe for ages.”

What worked: Mom encouraged, expected and empowered them to work it out. Mom respected Joe’s tolerance. Brother and sister will be closer and get along better now and in the future. Having a sibling includes rivalry and learning to work it out. By solving their problems, they become resilient, creative, confident, capable and develop “people skills.”

Email me your challenging situations — that you’ve solved or would like an a Raising Able /Adlerian suggestion for. I love to solve parenting challenges! Tell me what is driving you crazy — susan [at] susantordella [dot] net.

Let kids feel the impact of their decisions at the mall

June 4, 2012
Tweens and teens love to go to the mall and hang out. A mall is an ideal hangout place for tweens and teens- mingle, mix, shop, eat, laugh, see and be seen. Tweens and teens live for the mall. Allow them that freedom and to learn to spend and shop within limits and their budget. Tweens and teens can learn the natural and logical consequences of their spending decisions.

Tweens and teens love to go to the mall independently. It’s a fairly safe venue to practice independence, spend wisely and have fun with their friends.

“Owen called from the mall and said, ‘Dad, would you bring me money?'” said a friend at a party, when parents kibbitz about our favorite subject — kids.”I had dropped him off at a friend’s house and didn’t know he was going to the mall. Now he wanted one of us to drive 20 miles each way to deliver the money. I said, ‘Hit your friends up for a loan.'”

Hurray to Dad for setting a boundary and encouraging his only child, age 13, to solve his problem and learn better planning. With an only child, it’s easy to fall into the trap of indulgence because you have the time and money, and want to avoid guilt, the parental poison.

It’s okay to say “No” and allow him to learn from poor planning. It falls under “natural consequences,” also known as “giving him enough rope to burn but not enough to hang.”

The little “burns” of an empty pocket and asking for a loan, teach tweens and teens to take responsibility and better manage their affairs.

Avoid undermining the lesson by saying, “I told you so.” Asking questions or I-messages will preserve the relationship. “I was surprised you were going to the mall. Did you know that was the plan?” Or, “My Dad taught me to always leave home with money in my pocket, just in case.”

Teens can revel in the the freedom of independence and the responsibility that goes with those first mall expeditions. It’s an excellent opportunity to make spending decisions, and find out which friends can be counted on to share their resources.

A true “natural consequence” means that parents do not have to interfere with one of the most powerful teaching tools. If needed, encourage kids by saying, “I bet you can solve that problem,” or  “Do you have any ideas?” or “Ask someone for a few bucks.”

You can do it. So can your kids.

Raising Able Workshops this week

January 21, 2012

Come and get it — get a dose of positive parenting this week by Raising Able at these locations.

Act Don’t Yak – how to cut the yelling in half. Monday, Jan. 23, 7-9 pm at Roudenbush Community Center. $25. Call to register 978-692-5511 or go online.

“Do I have to?” How chores teach the priceless gift of self-discipline. Wednesday, Jan. 25, FREE at the Pollard Middle School 200 Harris Avenue, Needham. 7-9 p.m. Sponsored by the Needham Women’s Club.

Act Don’t Yak — how to cut the yelling in half. Thursday, Jan. 26, Harvard, Mass. Community Education, 7-9 pm. Email jcavanaugh@psharvard.org to register. $25.

Hope to see you at some of these workshops this week. Repetition helps when learning new habits. Bring a spouse or friend, ready to laugh as you learn.


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