The Four “F’s” of Summer Parenting

26
Jun
2014

Summer-Parenting-Strategies

I brought back a popular post from a few years ago to share with you.  I am away at the International Young Living Convention in Salt Lake City and honestly, I had all good intentions about writing a blog post for you all – but it didn’t happen.  I am sorry.

There is so much learning going on for me, about new oil blends released and amazing new products that I am trying soak in every single minute of learning so I can share more ‘oily news‘ that I know will bless your family.  So I pray for grace and for the new readers you will see this as new information and for my lovely treasured blog followers, let this be a gentle reminder for you.  :-)

Here are my four F’s of parenting for a  summer full of fun and less frustration, and yes, they are good all during the year too!

Be Firm

Clearly state expectations and consequences and adhere to them when your child acts inappropriately.  It can be easy to allow behavior to escalate or get out of control in the summer when you do not clearly state expectations and also remain consistent.  We tend to slack off a bit when things are more relaxed, but we all know the end result – not necessarily good.  Make sure you keep consistent and your kids will have a much better idea of how much they can trust what you say and if you mean it.

Fair

Consequences should fit the crime.  Have a few consequences that are in your back pocket so that you can easily respond to situations rather than allowing things to slide by.  In the case of recurring behavior, consequences should be stated in advance so the child knows what to expect and your consistent follow through is key to your child making better choices.

Fun

Even though summer can often lead to more work for us moms, find your own groove to create a routine that will allow you to be the “fun mom” and enjoy making those great memories instead of always being stressed over wet kids running through the house or eating s’mores for dinner!

Flexible

Learn to go with the flow – you will provide a great example to your children when they see things not going as planned and you are willing to quickly change gears.  If you have an outside activity planned and you wake up to rain, make sure you  have a back up plan you can quickly engage without a lot of drama!

Summer is a time to enjoy a change of pace from the school year. It’s an opportunity to focus on different interests or activities that you don’t have as much time for during the rest of the year.  

15 Ways to Connect With Your Child

5
May
2014

15-Ways-Connect-Your-Child

We all want to make our kids feel like they are special to us.  It can be challenging with busy schedules, different personalities and seasons of life.  But when it all comes down to it, there are some simple things you can do, taking only a few minutes a day to help your child feel special, important and appreciated.

Here are 15 real tips to connecting with your child that take less time than you may think:

1. Listen to them when they talk.   Actively hear what they have to say when they are talking.  Stop what you are doing to tune in.  

2. Ask about their day at school.   When they get in the car, ask what they did, how they felt and what is going on in their life.  Instead of the “How was your day,” where you get the typical, “Fine,” answer, ask “Tell me about your day,”  instead.

3. Share a family meal.   Many families eat dinner together as a way of catching up on each other’s lives.  I find when I am parenting on my own, when my husband it out of town, it can seem ‘easier’ to skip this time and just eat while I am multi-tasking.  Oops, I do it too!  Prioritizing this time for conversation and connecting is important.

4. Make time for family time. Have a family game night or just a set aside time when you discuss current events and what is happening in the family.  I’ll just shared about Family Nights in last week, did you see it?

5. Look at them.  Maintain eye contact when you are talking to them.  This lets them know that nothing else is holding your attention but what they have to say.  You feel they are important.

6. Ask follow-up questions.   If they give you a one-word answer to your first question, ask another.

7. Show respect.  Speak to them with respect no matter what their age, this helps train them in having courteous conversations and setting up boundaries around the way to treat and speak with all people.  Knock before entering their room even if the rule is no locked doors.

8. Learn to read body language.  Your child may say they are fine but their mannerisms may suggest otherwise. Be aware of their normal behavior and be keen on knowing when things might be off a bit.

9. Tell them you love them.  You can never say it enough when you mean it – really – even when they are teenagers.  I admit, I was not very good at this and still find it hard to express heartfelt emotions with my older children.  {I am a work in progress!}

10. Encourage them to talk.   Children have opinions, too.  Ask them their opinion, allow them to disagree with you – truly take the time to listen to their side even if you only agree to disagree.

11. Be honest.  Kids can catch you in a lie and it will break trust with them.  Avoid hypocrisy.

12. Encourage emotions.  Accept their right to their emotions and let them express their emotions in a healthy way.  In their book, “How We Love Our Kids,” by Milan and Kay Yerkovich, I understood that how I was responding to my children when they needed to express themselves was not a positive response.  I was parenting as I was parented and I needed to change the pattern.

13. Encourage and share in their interests. Find ways to be involved and interested in the things that interest them.  This is challenging for sure…..but the end result will be something that will connect the two of you an build memories.  I don’t necessarily enjoy the type of music my teen listens to, but it won’t kill be to try to share in that interest by asking to listen with them once in awhile or go throw the baseball with them too. 

14.  Let them help cook dinner.  I knew you would like this one!  But really, have them help in the kitchen, having an activity that you can do side by side engages conversation and will also help with building life skills.  We all want our kids to be responsible when they leave home and that means learning some cooking skills!  

15.  Be Mushy!  Give hugs, kisses and high fives – depending on the age of your kids and what level of comfort they have.  Even when they give you a frown, know deep down that they really like it!

What are your tips to connecting with your kids?

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Improving Parent Child Relationships

21
Apr
2014

 Improve-Parent-Child-Relationship
There are those days were it can feel like all the communication we have with our kids is to give instruction, deal with discipline and shuffling them on to the next task.  It can be exhausting and leave you feeling a bit empty, as well as your child.

Creating relationships with our kids is extremely important – it is necessary to be intentional, focused and be curious about who they are and what they think.

One of the biggest take aways I got when I went to the Hearts at Home Conference a few weeks ago was this revelation to me given by Dr. Kathy Koch – who by the way is an extremely talented author, speaker and plain full of incredible wisdom for parents.  She co-authored Jill Savage’s new book, “No More Perfect Kids,” and has several of her own on my reading list!

“We need to learn to raise the kids we were given, not the ones we wish we were given.”

This really struck a cord for me and the relationship and struggle I’ve been having in my own mind with my youngest.  I just have not been the type of mommy that he needs and I am determined to change.  Actually when I think about it, I have had the same struggle at different times in my life with different kids.  Why does it seem we often desire something other than what God felt was right for us?

I am great at coming up with routine, setting expectations and getting things crossed off the list, but when it comes to really getting inside his little mind……not a strength for me.  I think there was a time where I was much better at this with my older kids than I am now.

Perhaps I am not alone?

The Importance of Communicating with Kids

Often, as parents, we talk to our kids but it is frequently a one-sided conversation.  We talk at them….but are we really having a back and forth conversation?  Rarely.

There are those days were it can feel like all the communication we have with our kids is to give instruction, deal with discipline and shuffling them on to the next task.  It can be exhausting and leave you feeling a bit empty, and I am sure your child feels the same.

Creating relationships with our kids is extremely important – it is necessary to be intentional, focused and be curious to know who they are and what they think.  Two-way communication is much better because you will have:

  • Less chance of risky behavior
  • You know what your child is thinking
  • You know what your child is doing
  • You can influence your child
  • You teach them healthy emotional behavior

There is that saying – we as parents don’t ever want to be “friends” with our kids, rather we want to be their parent.  I agree with that phrase, but I know for myself…..I do need to be their friend in a certain sense of the word.  I need to learn to connect with them on their level, to show interest and engage. 

I can easily become wrapped up in my day and what I need to accomplish and completely forget or neglect  {Hangs head} the relationship with my kids.  Ugh, that is ugly to admit, but I do.  I find myself just a little too busy to stop and listen or sit down and play that game of Candyland.

So what can you do?  Maybe a few of the ideas I am working in will help you?

1.  Set aside 10 minutes intentionally to do whatever THEY want.  This can be so very hard for a task orientated driven mom.

2.  Read together, regardless of their age – maybe it is a book, perhaps a newspaper or article on the internet.  But sit next to them and connect and converse about a topic, depending on their age.

3.  Linger at the table – don’t always be in a rush to move onto the next thing.  Some of the best conversations we have as a family are around the dinner table.  It is true…. we just are more relaxed and everyone feels included.

4.  One on one time.  This is not a new idea, “dates with your kids” is something that has been around for awhile.  But when you have more than a couple kids, it can seem a bit daunting, especially when you factor in scheduling.  But it is important and I am trying to rebuild this into my schedule.

Kids are people too and when we treat them as such, they gain a positive sense of who they are and also respect for what we have to teach them.  The relationship we can create while they are living inside our four walls will truly blossom once they leave our protection too….one thing I am learning by having one already flown the coop and another one on his way very quickly.  :-)

The Need for Consistency in Parenting – 5 Tips

17
Dec
2013

Consistency-Parenting-Tip

Consistency: how many parents sigh or roll their eyes when they hear that word?  I know, I get it a lot.  That’s because consistency is tough, and most parents don’t feel like they are nearly consistent enough.  This is probably the most critical topic that I cover when I begin coaching a mom and we work out a plan to get things back on track in the home.

I thought that it might be a good time to cover a few basic guidelines when it comes to parenting our kiddos, especially with us embarking on Christmas break soon, having the possibility of traveling, visiting family and getting things out of ‘whack’!  We all know what no routine does to everyone’s behavior!

No one is consistent 100% of the time. But aiming for consistency the majority of the time is not unreasonable or impossible.  As Hal Runkel says in ScreamFree Parenting and what I share in my online coaching program, we need to be ridiculously consistent!  It is hard, but it is worth it!

Here are some tips on how to be more consistent as a parent and understanding why it is important.

Why Be Consistent?

What’s the big deal about consistency anyway? The point of all this consistency talk is simply this: if kids know the consequences of a behavior, and there’s no area of doubt, then they’re probably more likely to modify their behavior. BINGO!  That is what you are trying to help them learn, to make better choices!

Consistency puts action behind your words; it shows your kids that you do mean what you say. It gives your words power, and prevents you from having to take action every single time (often a different action every single time, which gets exhausting). So it pays to deliver!

“It comes down to integrity: meaning what you say, saying what you mean, and following through with what you promise.”   –  Hal Runkel

The Role of Planning

Planning ahead is important for consistency. Determine what your expectations for your kids are, from the broad (doing well in school) to the specific (behaving in the grocery store). Armed with your knowledge of your kids’ idiosyncrasies – you know what sets them off and you know the “problem areas” – come up with a plan of action based on their behavior and the behavior you expect. Then calmly implement your plan…consistently.

This strategy has helped me immensely over the years.  Different children, personalities and unique issues are prone to wear us down as moms, but we can use our minds and think ahead to trouble areas and try to avoid them.

Involve the Other Parent

Whether you are in a traditional marriage or not, if Mom and Dad are both in the home, it’s important for them to be on the same page regarding discipline and expectations. So a good idea is to sit down with the other parent and discuss your plans of action. Having both parents on board with the plan of action, expectations, and consequences just adds to the consistency.  If you do not have this, do not think things are doomed.  You will just be doing what you decide to do and cannot worry about the actions of the other parent.   Allowing them to dictate what you do is not a good idea.

Involve the Kids

Really? Yes, involving the kids is a healthy idea. Let them have a voice in the consequences, and make sure they understand the expectations. It’s not really fair to spring the consequences and expectations on them unexpectedly; it makes more sense for kids to follow rules if they know the rules (and the consequences of breaking them) ahead of time!  Having a family meeting to set up expectations is a great way to get everyone on board.  Allowing discussion on family rules and expectations as well as consequences for not following them is a great way to share in the process of working together for the whole good.

Consistency Is Not the Same as Inflexibility

There’s really no need to be rigid and inflexible for fear of appearing inconsistent. Sometimes, flexibility is required, and that should not undermine your consistency if you go about it the right way. For example, explain the change to your child – if it’s an exception to the usual rule, let them know why and that this is not going to be a habit. Or maybe one of the consequences does need to be adjusted; talk it over as a family and agree to make the change together.

This is not being inconsistent; it’s being flexible and willing to make changes where necessary, which is likely as good a model for your children as being consistent!  Learning to be open and allowing for different circumstance to enter into your thought process is one way you show your children that you can be realistic and reliable as well.

“Consistent enforcement of consequences is the single most effective application of authority in the parent-child relationship.”  Hal Runkel

Do you have trouble with consistency?

Just One More Thing – Before You Leave Home – Review

15
Nov
2013

Just-One-More-Thing1

Just One More Thing – Before You Leave Home

I was given a copy of this book for my honest review, which you will find below.

Did you ever wish you had a manual telling you just what you really need to impress upon your kids before they leave home?  As a parent, we can often question ourselves and our ability to equip our kids with what they need to succeed.  If you need some parenting input from a couple who’s been there, you won’t want to miss this book!

Now, I have already had one child leave home and go off to college, things have went fairly well with all things considered.  But after reading, “Just One More Thing – Before You Leave Home” by David and Bernice Gudgel there are a few areas I wish I would have concentrated on a bit more to make things even smoother as my daughter left home.

It can be a daunting process of preparing your child to leave home and really be a “grown up” and ready for adulthood.  Hopefully you’ve been already sharing your perspective on life, morals and values as your child matures, but this book gives a specific outline of topics to cover which are a perfect gauge to make sure you are on the right track and not missing any big points

The book is outlined as a resource for parents, but also written with the goal of a parent and child working through the book together, with some discussion questions in a “think if through” section, which I love.  Practical questions and thoughts to really bring home the message of the chapters.

Just One More Thing is filled with practical advice to help teens transition out of the house and into the rest of their life as capable and responsible adults.

In the book, the Gudgels use stories, perspectives, and dialogues to discuss 30 indispensable topics.  You’ll find chapters on a variety of chapters, including:

  • Choices
  • Convictions
  • Love
  • Money
  • Spending
  • Lie Purpose
  • Priorities
  • Moral Dilemmas
  • Failure
  • Practical Skills
  • and Sex 

This book is like a “life manual” and I even found it good to review some of the topics the author was sharing – even at my age of 46!  

If you have a teenager in the house and are wanting to prepare for the years to come with allowing your child to mature and grow and become an adult ready for adulthood, grab a copy of this book and set aside some time to read it.  Then as your child approaches the time to venture out on his own, spend some time reviewing the material together.  

I certainly wish I had this book before, but I have it now – and still have 3 kids at home!

For more information on this book and the author, please click here.