3 Ways To Get Your Kids to Love Reading

21
May
2015

Love-reading

If your child is showing little interest in reading, there is hope. Sometimes we parents have to get get sneaky, but you can still turn your child into a reader, even if he is reluctant about it.

The Earlier Bedtime trick

One of my favorite ways to get my kids to read is something they hopefully will not figure out until they have kids of their own. Two words “Earlier Bedtime”.

You might be wondering how an increase in sleep can help your child to spend more time reading. Well, here’s the trick. Set their bedtime for 45 minutes to an hour before they need their lights out.

Here’s how our bedtime routine goes. My son brushes teeth and uses the bathroom. Then my husband or I will read them a story. This is all done before their official bedtime. Then, I simply give them an option. I say “It’s time for bed, now. Would you like lights out or would you like to stay up and read for a bit?”

Unless my little guy is really tired, he always chooses to read awhile.  I love that he is just learning to read and can’t even read all the words, but he will devour a book, flipping the pages and making up his own little story.  

He gets to choose several books to have for his reading time, I start his bedtime music, his essential oil diffuser (this makes for a great transition time for relaxation!) and tell him I will be back up to turn his reading light off when it’s time.

Summer reading incentives

You can sign up for a summer reading program at pretty much any library in the country. If your local library does not have a summer reading program, then create one at home, with rewards for reading books. You can use a Monopoly (or Life) board and allow your child to move one space for each book he reads. Or if you want to have more fun, let him roll the dice each time he reads a book and have prizes available for passing certain points.

Make sure the rewards are something very desirable. If your child values time with you more than toys, then set a date together doing his favorite thing. If he values a certain toy, let him earn it. Or let him earn a chance to get out of his regular chores. Take him to his favorite restaurant. Just have fun with it and he will, too.

There are some other tips for how to handle summer reading in my 2015 Confident Mom Summer Survival Calendar as well!

Read the book before you can see the movie

When my older kids were younger we did this a lot.  Now we are at wan age where not many children’s movies have books!!  But we will continue this pattern as our youngest grows up, looking for those opportunities.

Family reading of a popular book that has a movie is a great activity.  You can do this with old releases too, by reading the book and then renting the movie. So, if your child is looking forward to seeing the next Chronicles of Narnia movie, the next Harry Potter movie or the next Lemony Snicket movie, they’ll have to read the book first.

What tips have you used for developing a love of reading with your kids?

 

Do Your Kids Write Thank You Notes?

18
Dec
2014

 Thank you notes

Since it is that time of year, when tacking gratitude and thankfulness is at the top of our parenting list, I wanted to share this post I did from several years back.  Enjoy!

I wonder…….do other moms still make their kids write “thank you” notes???  Is this so “old fashion” that I am asking too much?  I mean, does anyone ever get real mail in the mailbox anymore?

I have had my kids write thank you notes for gifts since they could write.  For a long time they didn’t know the difference – they thought all kids were required to do this simple common courtesy, until one day…….

It was the first Christmas that my husband and I were married and now the new step-momwas in charge of the “motherly” stuff in the home.  My step-son had no idea of the “thank you” note policy our family had, so when I just assumed we would all fall under MY guiding, well – it was taken with some resistance.  My husband didn’t quite understand my insistence at having all the kids write thank you notes, even to people that were present when the gift was opened.  I gave my reasoning and you guessed it……we all write thank you notes!

I feel my kids get a great lesson out of this experience whenever  their birthday or another holiday rolls around.  It helps them continue to be grateful – they don’t just say a quick, “thank you” when they open the gift and move onto the next.   Even if the person giving the gift is present when the “present” is opened, they typically send a note as well.  They write a true expression of how they intend to use the gift as well as saying, “thank you”.

I like that my kids have to write an actual card, address it and mail it.  This is rather “old fashioned” some of you would think, but I love getting REAL mail!  I think when someone receives an actual card in the mail it is impacts them in a different way and can touch someone much deeper than an email or phone call.

So if you are not in the habit of having your kids write “thank you” notes, maybe this year is the first.  Think about what you may be teaching your children and what habits they could be developing for when they are no longer living at home.  Call me “old fashioned” but I write thank you notes too – yep – remember they are watching you.  Live by example, express your gratitude and have fun finding creative ways to say “thank you.”

Tips to Writing Thank You Notes:

1.  Set a time:  We have now set a deadline, especially with the older kids to complete the task of writing notes, if they have not completed it by the deadline, we take the gift and hold it hostage!  I know, we are hammer parents!

2.  Help those little ones:  Now that I have a smaller one in the house, I will sit and write the majority of the card with their help and they sign their name.  It involves them but is not overwhelming.

3.  Help kids be specific:  Have your kids specific details about what they like about the gift they received or perhaps how they will use it or look forward to using it.

4.  The Details:  Help them see how to address the envelope, place the return address and stick postage on the card.  These are life skills that they all need to learn!

Remember:

Our children are watching us live, and what we are shouts louder than anything we can say.      – Wilfred A. Peterson

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?

450x90TCM-summercal-2014

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.  :-)