Parenting Mistakes We All Make and How to Avoid Them

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It is really easy to blame our children’s negative behavior on our children. And there are times when their behavior is not a result of something we have done. But… there are also lots, and lots and lots of times when their negative behavior is actually a response to our parenting through some common Parenting Mistakes. Yes, it’s hard to digest, but we actually bring out the misbehavior. We actually bring out the behavior we say we don’t like. Yikes, that is tough to consider. SO, in order to make family life that much better, and if you want to see major improvement in your children’s behavior, avoid these patenting mistakes.

Parenting-Mistakes

Stop the … Paranoid Parenting

Not doubt that there is a lot of negative and horrible things in the world. Many things that could harm and hurt our children. As parents we need to watch over and protect them, but being paranoid is not a good parenting approach. Obsessively controlling our children will not make the world more safe. Constantly worrying about dangers that “could” happen only makes our children afraid. In fact, the tighter the reins we put on our children, makes the more anxious and less confident. It can also make them feel so controlled that they rebel.

Do you hear yourself saying, “Don’t touch that!” “Don’t go over there!” Stay right next to me!” “Don’t do that!” “Don’t go too far!”, “Stay close!, Stop!?

If you are saying these things All. The. Time, it needs to stop. Today’s generation of kids is more paranoid than any other. As parents we need to relax, and let our children deal with life. It is important not to pass our fears on to our kids. Constantly reminding our children of all the dangers in the world is not a good way to parent.

I have been guilty of this. Sometimes more than others. I especially run into this when something horrible happens. A few years ago there was a deadly mall shooting about 40 miles from where we live. My poor kids. They couldn’t even let go of the shopping cart at the grocery store. In fact, if I recall, I made all three of them at the time, get IN the cart. Just so I had them all close. When I watch the local news too much, I become so paranoid I am sure my kids feel like they can’t even breath. Paranoid parenting undermines a child’s ability to make their own decisions with confidence. Not a good way to go about raising kids.

Stop the …. Best Friend Parenting

Kids need parents who set rules and boundaries and don’t muddy the line between parent/adult and friend.  Remember we are their parents, the time to be friends will come later in life when they are grown adults. We need to stop avoiding making the unpopular decisions because we want our kids to “like us.” And stop avoiding disciplining our kids because we don’t want them to resent us. If you want spoiled children, seek to be their “best friend.” If you want kids who are secure, resilient, compassionate and responsible, be a parent.

Set clear limits and boundaries, and be in control. Our children need moms and dads, not best buddies. They will find those at school.

Stop the … Do Everything for them Parenting

Do you solve every one of your child’s problems? Do you finish their homework for them and do their school projects? Are you always swooping in to rescue? Do you finish their sentences and micromanage their lives? Do you answer for them when people ask them questions?

This parenting practice teaches kids to be dependent their entire lives. They grow up to be unprepared to handle life’s difficulties. Kids raised with this parenting technique have trouble developing self-reliance, problem solving and decision making. They also tend to avoid responsibility.

The goal is to be involved, lead, and teach. But not intrude, take over, or do it for them. Then your child can develop independence and live on their own one day.

Stop the … Quick Fix Parenting

Remember last time when you were at Super Target and your child threw a temper tantrum. So instead of leaving the cart and removing your child from the situation, you bribed your child with an ICEE and bag of popcorn? Maybe even a new toy. It fixed the situation that day, but in the long run it will make things worse. We are all guilty of quick fix parenting. We find ourselves willing to do anything, as long as it works right now. We warn, we threaten, and we give in.

Being tired, stressed, and over scheduled can lead to quick fix parenting, as well as being in public. :)

These techniques teach kids to act right…for the wrong reasons. It might be a temporary solution, but never brings lasting change.

We will be most effective as parents, when we take a few minutes to help our children understand what is wrong and make things right.

Stop the … Substitute Parenting

It seems that in this day and age, everything but parents are teaching kids. We are letting someone else parent our children. Media and television. Kids are spending so much time in front of the television, computer, on their phones, and with video games, parents have taken a back seat.

When was the last time you saw a T.V. show you would trust to teach your child? Young children are especially at risk because they believe everything they see and hear.

All this technology means less real time with parents. Technology takes over and as parents we begin to lose power and influence with our children.

This type of parenting makes children vulnerable to outside pressures and teaches them to rely on someone else to guide them, instead of you. They are also more likely to adopt someone else’s values.

As parents, we are the most powerful influence for teaching our children values, attitudes, morales, and appropriate behavior. We need to find more ways to be in our children’s lives. The first place to start, limit technology.

I am guilty on all accounts of the above parenting practices. Some more often than others. But acknowledging I have a problem is the first step, right? Take an honest step back and evaluate when these practices take over your parenting life. And then make a commitment to change some things up. As we eliminate these practices from our families, we will see huge changes in our children’s behaviors and attitudes.

Raise your hand if you have bought ICEE’s and popcorn at Target?

So, which practices are you guilty of? 

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Teaching Children Money Management


Money management is a vital part of a successful family. Keeping an open dialogue about money not only sets our children up for a healthier future as adults, but it teaches communication and relationship skills along the way. Use the following tips to keep your family financially strong.

money-management

First, understand that most disagreements over finances aren’t really about the money itself, but instead a result of miscommunications about expectations. One family member expects that money can be spent a certain way, on certain things, while the other family member expects money should be handled a different way. It isn’t so much about the money itself, but what the money represents and how we feel about it.

The only way to overcome this first obstacle is to make sure you keep an open dialogue and have conversations about those expectations. Be sure that everyone is on the same page. For example, if there is extra money at the end of the month, can it be spent, should it be saved? Can it be used to by “Wants” or only “Needs”? What is considered a want and need. Talk about it and include your children in the dialogue when age appropriate. They have expectations too. Maybe they expect to be able to sign up for any and all extracurricular activities that they want to, while you feel that two extra activities are expensive enough. Or maybe they feel they should be able to go skiing every Saturday, but you feel that money should be spent on other things instead. It can take quite some time for children to really understand that money doesn’t grow on trees. So talk open and often about expectations and keep everyone happy and on the same page.

There will be disagreements about money. Use the situations to teach children how to communicate, handle disagreements, listen to other opinions and compromise. These are life skills they will always need.

Respect Money. I will never forget when I was around 8, I was helping my dad with a project on the kitchen counter. There were scraps of paper and lots of bits and pieces that needed to be thrown away. As he held the trash bag, I used my whole arm to sweep the trash into the black bag. Mixed in with the papers was a penny. I saw the penny, and so did he, but I swept it into the the trash anyway. After all, it was only a penny. Well, not to my dad, he had me go right down in that black bag and find the penny. He helped as we sifted through all the scraps. He taught me such a good lesson that day. One I have never forgotten. Money is to be respected. Even a penny. It is still money and has worth. We never throw it away. We teach our children to respect money by respecting it ourselves.

Set financial goals and include the entire family in setting, working towards and achieving those goals. We all have financial goals for our families. Some of us are trying to pay off car loans, saving for a family vacation, trying to save on groceries, or maybe just trying to keep our heads above water. Although we are not looking to scare or burden our children with our financial woes, we can include them when appropriate it fun and creative ways. Get your whole family excited about what you are doing. This will teach them that handing money is not bad, how to set goals, how to accomplish goals and bring you closer together as a family.

Avoid impulse buying. This is a great way to not only save money, but is also teaches our children delayed gratification. Hopefully as adults, we are good at making smart money choices, but this is a great way to teach our children also. When they want something, instead of getting it for them right away, or letting them buy it right away, teach them to do research, cover all their basis and make sure they know all their options. The delay will not only teach them, but make their purchase even more worth it when they do finally get it.

Don’t use money to control your family members. We never want to use money to control our family members. Using it as a bribe, or holding it over someones head is not healthy. This is often common between spouses, but we do it with our children also. Steer clear of bribing kids with “5 dollars if you get an A”. Or saying, “if you don’t ______ then you loose your money.” etc… Although it might get you the results you want right then, the outcome will be short lived. This will teach our children to use money to control others and they wont do things for intrinsic reasons. (I know this is a touchy subject and there are many different philosophies, but findings are consistent that there are other ways to motivate our children that have better, long term effects.)

Don’t hide money from one another.

Teaching our children to “buy secretly” does not develop a healthy money relationship and teaches them it is okay to hide things from one another and be dishonest. Reminding them “not to tell daddy” as you are leaving Super Target wont help them in the long run. :)

Help them understand how money works. This could be through teaching them to save and spend, or even including them in some of the financial planning for the family. I know with our son, he didn’t understand the cost of things for our family. We laid out basic living expenses and then compared that to an income so he could see how the two worked together. It stopped most of the asking and begging for “wants” because now he has a better understanding of how money works. Knowledge is power.

Above all things, we want our children to understand how money works, and how to have a healthy relationship with money. This comes from setting a good example ourselves, and including our children in the family finances when appropriate.

How do you teach your children about money?

 

 

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7 Tips to Help Keep Your Family’s Resolutions

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New Year’s Resolutions aren’t just for moms and dads. They’re for families too!

 

I know what your thinking. It is hard enough to keep my own personal resolutions and goals. Why would I want to set goals with my family too? Why? Because setting goals together, and working towards those goals, brings us closer as a family. It builds trust, unity, and is a great opportunity to teach our children values and skills.  

 

So, Whether you have a word of the year, make New Year’s resolutions, or just have a few goals you want your family to work on this year, here are a few tips to help your family stick with those resolutions so you can grow and improve together.
1. Make your resolutions something that YOUR FAMILY really wants. Your family’s goals and resolutions should NOT be something you think you should do as a family. Or something that you are doing just to keep up with what you see on Pinterest, the internet, or that your neighbors are doing. Honestly evaluate what is best for your family. One of the biggest mistakes families make is making resolutions to keep up with “the Jones’ “  Don’t worry about what other families are doing.
2. Make sure your eyes aren’t bigger than you stomach. AKA, don’t set too many goals. In fact, two or three is perfect for your family. Too many and they get hard to keep and focus on.
3. Goals should be specific. For example, “Save money”, is a good goal. But it is not specific. “Save 5 dollars a week” is a better goal. Being specific makes the resolutions more do-able and makes it easier for everyone to understand what is expected.
4. Leave room for forgiveness. No family is perfect and there will be many times when we falter on our resolutions. That is normal. The difference between those families who reach their goals and those who don’t, is the way they react to set backs. Instead of throwing in the towel, problem solve. Then you can rebound and get back on track.
5. Include the entire family. It is easy to think that successful family goals are only achieved by the parents. But family goals should include the entire family. Including our children provides opportunities for us to work together, hold one another accountable, allows us opportunities to teach our children, and gives our children the chance to see success and failure. Not to mention, each member of our family has great ideas. I can’t tell you the number of times that our children have come up with the solutions to family situations. Including them also lets them know that they have a voice in your family. Knowing that they are heard makes them feel loved, important and understood. (Which also leads to kids being better behaved.) Not to mention that kids are great at keeping us accountable. :)
6. Create short term goals to keep you accountable. We hear this all the time, because it is true. As a family, set a resolution, and then set short term goals to help you along the way. Your family will be much more likely to achieve your goals that way.
7. Make it fun and celebrate! Whoever said resolutions have to be boring? Find fun ways to achieve your goals and celebrate your milestones along the way. This also helps to keep it fresh in everyone’s mind…because a year can seem like a really long time.
Looking for a fun way to set resolutions for your family? Create a vision board! Have each member of your family sit down with old magazines, newspapers, markers and crayons, even the computer. Have everyone cut out or print off pictures, words, phrases that represent what they see for 2014 for the family. Put them all on a big piece of cardboard. Then, step back and evaluate the themes that are most prevalent on the board. Use the common themes to create two or three resolutions to best benefit your family this upcoming year.
And remember, everyone’s resolutions look different, just like our families. And that is okay.
We would love to hear what your family resolutions are for this year?
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Teaching Children Gratitude

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Thanksgiving Heather Johnson

It is the season of Thanksgiving and we have gratitude on our minds. Unfortunately gratitude is not always on our children’s minds. Gratitude doesn’t come naturally to our kids. It is a learned trait, not necessarily something we are born with, and they need our help to develop the skill.  Today I will share some tips for teaching children gratitude.

Aside from all the fun activities, crafts, and service projects we do with our kids this time of year, here are five things we can do year round to help raise more grateful children.
Start saying “NO”.
Giving our children everything they ask for and want, is not going to help them be more grateful. (This is a good thing to remember with Christmas around the corner.)  Have you ever had your child beg you for a new toy? You finally give in, only to have them play with it for a few days and then start begging for something else?
The more we give our kids, the less they appreciate what they have. So cut back! Kids don’t need treats every time we go to the store, or a toy every time they see a commercial on TV advertising something new. Kids need our love and our time and opportunities to learn and grow, not more things. At first it might be hard to say “no.” We need to do it any way. Even if there are temper tantrums and tears. Over time this will help our children come to appreciate what they do have and realize that happiness is not built on getting more “stuff.”
Don’t compare.
Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of Joy”, and he was exactly right. Comparing ourselves to others teaches our kids that we are not grateful for what we have or who we are.
Stop talking about material things. 
It is easy for our conversations to be centered around material possessions.
“I wish we had that new car.”
“We really need a new couch before we have people over.”
“That new shirt will make you look really cute.”
As innocent as the statements sound, when our kids hear us talking about material things all the time, and how we need them, or how they define us or make us look a certain way, it sends them the wrong message. We have to be very careful with what we say.
Always say “Please” and “Thank you”
Raising grateful children is all about being a grateful parent. Do we use good manners? Do we say please and thank you? Do we write thank you notes when someone gives us a gift or serves us? Kids watch everything we do. If we are complaining about what we don’t have, and how we wish we had more, they will feel the same. If we don’t express gratitude, then neither will they.
Don’t spare them work
As much as we didn’t like chores and responsibilities when we were children, work is a necessary part of raising moral children. Instead of sparing them work, we need to give them opportunities to work. We need to stop teaching that work is bad and play is good. They are not opposites of one another. Work teaches us to appreciate what our bodies and minds are capable of. And teaches us to be grateful for what we do have as a result of the effort we put into getting it. Work teaches us to appreciate.
Grateful children are more polite and a lot more fun to be around. They get along with their playmates and have an easier time sharing with others. Grateful adults are empathetic, see other’s perspectives and solid research has found that adults who are grateful are happier all around. Gratitude is a valuable life skill, no matter our age.
This time of year, let’s remember that gratitude is not a seasonal skill. We teach it to our children each and every day of the year.
What toy have you gotten your child after they begged, that they never played with again? (For us, it was a telescope for our son. In two years I think he has only looked through it 3-4 times :(. But he wanted it sooooo bad.)
Is it hard for you to say “No” to your children? Why?
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How To Build Self Esteem in Your Child

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self-esteem

Over the past few years, a hot topic in parenting has been whether or not parents should focus on building their children’s self esteem.

As a teacher and as a parent, I am a firm believer that part of my parenting responsibilities include helping our children build a strong self esteem. Yes, that is part of our job.

Did you know that kids who have positive feelings about themselves have an easier time dealing with conflict and the pressures of life. They are also happier, more optimistic and find more joy in life. Research is also showing that a healthy self esteem is the greatest defense against bullying.

When children have positive self esteems they feel in control of their lives and know how to stand up for themselves. They feel more confident in making their own decisions and are better able to maintain healthy relationships as they get older.

Children with low self esteem don’t feel like they can handle challenges and feel frustration and anxiety when faced with life challenges. They regularly feel that they are not good enough and can’t do anything correctly. They fell more depression and tend to withdraw in situations. Not to mention that low self esteem leads to behavior problems, poor school performance, trouble with friendships and relationships with adults.

Anything I can do to help our children feel better about themselves, I want to do!

How can we help our kids increase their self-esteem? Here are some suggestions.

Teach Our Children How to Handle Conflict and Failure - Life is full of conflict and we all have to deal with failure. We need to teach our children how to deal with these hard things. It will empower them. They need to know that it doesn’t make them lesser of a person to fail. But instead teach them how to deal with it.

Provide Challenges For Our Children – We have to provide challenges for our children, that they can overcome. When they overcome small challenges, it builds their belief in themselves. They take those beliefs into new situations and feel strong about their ability to do hard things.

Set Our Children Up For Success - Help your child develop talents and acquire skills that they enjoy and excel in. Provide opportunities for them to participate in activities that encourage cooperation instead of competition.

Don’t Set Our Children Up To Fail – Embarrassing our children to “teach” them will not help them feel better about themselves. Imposing unrealistic expectations and challenges so they fail will not make them fell better about themselves either.

Show Love – Always do all things out of love. Be attentive, show affection and when there is need for discipline, always follow with an increase of love. Withholding love should never be used as punishment or as a result of a child’s mistake. Never ever withhold love.

Be Careful With What We Say – Our children are very sensitive to everything we say. We need to be careful with the words that come out of our mouths. 90% of what we say should be uplifting. The other 10% can be disciplinary. Even when our children don’t succeed, we should still praise them for the energy effort and skill they put forth.

Be a Good Role Model – We can’t say negative things about ourselves. If we are always putting ourselves down, and saying negative things about our abilities, we will raise children who feel the same way. We need to be good role models and speak positively about who we are, what we look like, and the effort we are putting in to our own lives.

Create a Safe Home Environment – It is vital that our children feel safe at home. Watching parents fight and argue makes for depressed children. When children bring home problems from school, express concerns and ask questions, we need to be patient and listen. They need to always know they can express themselves at home and they will be respected and cared for, regardless.

Spend time with our children – Stop multitasking. As mother’s we are trying to juggle so many things while we listen and spent time with our kids. We need to put everything down and come down to their level. Look them in the eye and make sure we are in the moment. Kids know when we are pretending to pay attention, but our minds are else where.

Stop Labeling Our Children – All of us are searching for an identity. It defines us and helps us relate to other people and figure out where we belong. Our kids will live up to our labels, good or bad, we need to be careful.

Give Positive and Accurate Feedback.

We cannot underestimate our influence on our children. They look to us for all things. How wonderful to know that we can help them believe in themselves. We can help them build positive thoughts and feelings about their abilities. Starting young will make their lives more manageable and set them up to be strong and adjusted adults.

What an important job we have.

How do you help your children build their self-esteem?

Have a question, or just want to say hello? You can find me at FamilyVolley.com. On PinterestFacebook, and Twitter. Or send me an email. I love making new friends. 

Tips For Helping with the Homework Battle

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Homework-Battles

School brings so much fun and excitement. It also brings juggling schedules and homework. With homework usually comes battles. Lots of homework battles. One of the most common struggles we tend to face, is getting our kids to do their homework, minus the moans and groans and tears.

Given that homework is necessary and an unavoidable part of school life, here are a few tips to lessen the stress and give you some homework help.

First, evaluate your child’s schedule and how much sleep they are getting. Homework meltdowns often happen because our children are over scheduled and tired. With so much on their plate, they don’t have time to be children. They don’t have time to play, to imagine and to pretend. All necessary for a healthy childhood. Not enough sleep will also elicit a quick break down. Kids need sleep. Their bodies are growing and changing and we need to make sure we help them get the rest they need.

Establish a routine.

Work to tackle homework at about the same time everyday. Remember, routines bring predictability,  and predictability brings safety and security. It will help our children when they know what to expect and what is going to happen. This can be different for each child. For example, our son needs time to wind down after school. When he comes home he needs to eat, decompress and tell me about his day. Forcing him to sit down and start on his homework right away creates major homework battles. He can’t focus, drags his feet and is easily frustrated. Our daughter is the exact opposite. She wants to walk in the door and immediately take care of all of her homework. If she is forced to wait, she feels anxiety and frustration. Knowing how they both think and what schedules work best for them is half the battle. This routine should also include clear expectations. No electronics, no television etc… Make that clear long before the routine is challenged.

Join them.

Simply being in same room as your child while they are work can help cut homework battles and the time it takes to get things done, in half. You don’t have to be talking to your children, or doing their work for them, but sending them off to their room to work by themselves usually means hours of battling your child to stay focused.  Kids don’t want to be left alone. Homework is lonely enough. Do something while they are working. Even better, do something that helps your child see that what they are learning and doing is relevant in the real world. Balance a checkbook, pay bills, read, plan your meal schedule or grocery list for the week. What ever you do, try to stay close and be available.

Wrangle the younger kids.

It can seem like torture for a child to be sitting and doing homework while their younger siblings are laughing, watching TV, and playing around them. Why not make it a quiet time for everyone in the house and have younger kids color and look at books. Younger siblings usual long to be like their older counterparts as it is. Make them feel special by including them. Not only will it make it easier for the child doing the homework, but it will start good homework habits for your younger children.

Be helpful.

This doesn’t mean we hover over our children or give them all the answers. But we need to make it clear that there are no dumb questions and that we are available if they need help. When they do come to us for help, we need to be patient. Never make your child feel dumb or silly, or that they should know the answer. This will deter them from asking for help in the future. Not just about homework, but about other topics of discussion too. When we help, refrain from giving them the answer, but instead ask questions that lead them to discover the answer on his own.

Don’t overreact to the Drama.

There is going to be homework drama. There will most likely be meltdowns and even tears now and again. First and foremost, we have to stay patient. We have to keep our cool. Don’t yell or threaten. Refrain from telling your child “you don’t get to watch TV unless you get this done.” Watch how hard you push. Instead reference the possible outcomes. Such as the fact that not doing homework will bring bad grades, which has repercussions. Or ask how they will explain to their teacher that they didn’t do their work. Once you work to calm them down, offer to help.

Helping our children establish good and positive homework patterns when they are young will bring lifelong benefits. With a few modifications and changes we can make it a better experience for the whole family.

How do you deal with homework battles?

 

Have a question, or just want to say hello? You can find me at FamilyVolley.com. On PinterestFacebook, and Twitter. Or send me an email. I love making new friends. 

 

 

 

Tips for Families and Technology

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The school year is underway and families are busier than ever. It is hard enough trying to balance all the activities and homework, but throw the constant temptation of technology into the works and finding time to be together as a family can seem almost impossible.

There are two major drains on our families lives these days, the first being the time we spend outside our home. Families are so busy in individual activities, that we are never home to be together.

The second drain that keeps our families from spending time together is technology inside our home. It is inevitable that our homes are filled with technology. It is that day and age. But just because we are all under the same roof, doesn’t mean we are together. Someone is on the computer, someone is watching tv, someone else is on their phone, the list goes on. Technology keeps us from having “Eye Contact” with our family members.

Given that technology isn’t going anywhere, and “iContact” is inevitable, what can we do to ensure that we still have “Eye Contact” with our families?

First we need to make better use of our time. For example, we all need to eat. Well I know I need to eat. :) And everyone in our family needs to eat also. So, make better use of the fact that we are all going to eat dinner, and do it together!

We most likely spend time driving family members to and from activities. Instead of spending that time watching DVD’s and having kids play on smart phones, turn off technology and make better use of the drive time by talking with one another, playing games and having conversations.

There are benefits that will come to our family, that we can’t receive any other way. Unless we put away the technology and make “Eye Contact” with one another.

Now, I know what you are thinking. “But Heather, there is still technology all around us. Can’t “Eye Contact” and “iContact” co-exist”? The answer is yes, but we need to find creative ways to bring the two together so the technology doesn’t hurt our family relationships.

Here are a few ideas.

1. Gather each family members playlist and play music in the background while your family sits down to eat a meal together or as you work together.

2. Establish rules about how much technology your children can consume each day. Then, while they are watching their favorite shows, make it a rule that they have to get up and run around the house, do push ups, jumping jacks, or sit ups, every time a commercial comes on.

3. Create an online scrapbook that everyone in your family can contribute pictures too. It is so easy to upload pictures these days, most of us do it from our phones. Once a month, sit down as a family and have each person explain the pictures they have loaded and talk about all the fun things you have all done over the last 30 days. This is a great way to chronicle your families life and keep pictures organized also.

4. Take your TV and movie watching one step farther. It is very common that during movies, when family members have questions (especially our children), instead of answering them, we “Shhhhhhhhhhsh” them. This immediately tells them the movie or show is more important than they are. So, establish “TV time outs” during the movie. Every 10 minutes, pause the movie and ask if there are any questions. Then talk together. That way all family members know that they are more important than the movie.

5. Use the technology on everyone’s smart phones, computers and iPads to schedule a family activity in everyone’s calendar. Set up reminders so no one forgets. Then when everyone gets together, have them drop their tech into the “tech basket” where it will stay until the family activity is over. Have fun enjoying the activity you planned together, tech free.

6. When your kids ask questions like “what does an Ostrich eat” and you just don’t know the exact answer, whip out your smart phone and teach your child how to look things up. When you have found your answer, sit down together and draw a picture of the Ostrich eating.

7. When you have an upcoming family vacation or trip (or even a family activity), give each person in the family an assignment to research. Someone could be in charge of researching places to stay, while another person can research places to eat, or the best route to take if you are driving. Come together as a family to report your findings. Talk about all the options, and plan the trip together. Making sure to not let the tech takeover once you are on vacation.

8. Technology is a great way to stay connected to family, extended family, and friends. Establish a time when you come together as a family to skype or google hangout with loved ones. Before you start, sit down together and talk about all the fun things you want to share and any questions you want to ask while you chat. When the call is over, turn off the computer and talk about all the fun things you learned from the conversation. Take it a step farther and write a letter or put together a care package for that person. It will make their day.

9. Use online resources to research your ancestors. Make connections with family members and do genealogy. If time and money permit, plan a trip to visit some family sites and family members. If you can’t physically visit, no problem, use your new found knowledge to create a family tree to hang on your wall. Or gather pictures of ancestors and create a collage in frames as a reminder of where your family came from.

Technology has the power to take over our families lives. Draining us of the most important relationships we have, the ones we develop with our families. Nothing is as powerful as “Eye Contact”, but when we carefully and creatively combine “Eye Contact” with “iContact”, the two can co-exist to enhance our family relationships.

How do you use technology to strengthen your family?

How do you make sure technology doesn’t take over your family time?

 

 

Have a question, or just want to say hello? You can find me at FamilyVolley.com. On PinterestFacebook, and Twitter. Or send me an email. I love making new friends. 

 

Helping Kids Deal with Back-To-School Stress

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Stress of School

Whether your children are in public school, private school, charter school, or homeschool, a new school year can stress out our children.

Unlike adults, kids don’t understand they are feeling stress, or know how to handle it like adults do. In fact, because of their lack of life experiences, they really don’t even understand they are feeling stress.

As parents, it is easy to miss our children’s stress cues. We can mistake signs of stress from our children for defiance and misbehavior. 


The most common signs of stress are…

Increase in crying, throwing fits and temper tantrums

Unwilling to do anything or try anything

Frustration

Anger

Lack of Patience

Misbehaving

Disobedience

Lots of crying

Tired

Behavior that is out of the ordinary

Trouble sleeping

Back to school stress can come from many sources, but the two main sources of stress for our children are unfamiliar situations (like a new school class or when a parent goes out of town) and pressure to perform (such as school tests, social pressures and extracurricular competition). All children feel pressure. Even our little ones. Pressure to share their toys, eat all their food and go to sleep. Both of these sources are very prevalent at the start of a new school year. There is so much uncertainty. I know that uncertainty can stress me out. Why wouldn’t we assume the same happens to our children.
As parents, it is our job to help our children not only deal with the stress, but to also help them recognize what they are feeling so they can start learning how to handle it. 


Here are a number of ways we can help as the new school year gets underway. 


1. Start with Ourselves

When we are stressed out, we pass that on to our families. Did you know that children who are constantly surrounded by stress are more likely to be overweight, and even small babies sense and respond negatively to our stress. We have to evaluate our own lives, make sure we are not over scheduled, get control of our stress and set a good example. Plus, our kids learn from us. They learn how to handle stress by watching US handle stress. What are we teaching them?

2. Give them a Voice

Our children do not understand what stress is. They are limited in their life experiences and knowledge. They don’t always understand what they are feeling, or what to call the emotions they experience because often times, they have never felt them before. It is our job as parents to help them. We need to give them a voice, give them words to express their emotions and help them understand the frustration that overtakes them.

Compare this concept to a time when you have been sick. I know for me, when I head to the doctor, I don’t want something to be wrong, BUT, having a diagnosis makes me feel better. It lessens the stress.

It is the same with our children. We need to give them a diagnosis. Not only will this help them as they experience the stress, but, as they have more experiences, they will be able to pinpoint their own emotions.

3. Role Play

Unknown situations bring stress. Instead of sending our kids into situations blind, take time to act out and discuss situations before they happen. This will help our children feel much more prepared and giving them knowledge will lessen their fears and stress. Take time to role play situations. That way, when they are in the unknown situation it will be like auto response and they will have more confidence in what they should do and say. This is one of the best ways to lessen the stress of a new school year. Talk about and role play all the new experiences our kids are going to face before they encounter them.

4. See their perspective

Consider how we feel when we are stressed. Now imagine being little, with limited understanding and experiences. On top of that, having very little control. If we will put ourselves in their shoes just for a minute we will quickly have sympathy for their situation and be more understanding and patient with their behavior.

5. Listen

Our kids need to talk to us. Not all children are ready to talk at the same pace. We need to be there, ready, whenever they are ready to talk. When our children know they are heard, it relieves stress.

6. Eliminate

Children should really only have one or two extra curricular activities. They don’t have to do it all. And parents shouldn’t be over-scheduled either. Even if our kids want to do a million things, it is too much for them to handle. More importantly we need to make sure they have time to play, to create, to imagine, and to spend time with our family.

7. Be Active Together

It has been shown that exercise helps us handle stress. The same applies for children. But when kids are always in front of technology, that doesn’t leave a lot of time to be active. Get moving together as a family and watch everyone’s stress melt away.

8. Go To Bed

Possibly one of the most important ways to help our children deal with the stress of a new school year, and even avoid it, is to make sure they get enough sleep. Everything is worse when we are tired and life is much harder to deal with. Make sure kids get enough sleep. Get them on a schedule and make it a priority.

Stress is apart of our lives and our children’s lives. A new school year can bring out the worst. Helping our children now will not only lessen the stress they experience as children, but also teach them the tools they need to handle stress as they grow too.

How do you help your children deal with stress?

 

Have a question, or just want to say hello? You can find me at FamilyVolley.com. On PinterestFacebook, and Twitter. Or send me an email. I love making new friends. 

 

Playdough Pictionary Game


While buying school supplies for our older kids this last week, play dough made it into the cart too. Most of us have play dough around the house somewhere. Instead of making pancakes and snakes, put it to use with this fun family game. This is perfect for kids and adults of all ages. In fact, my husband and I love to play after the kids have gone to bed.

 You Will Need…

 PLAY-DOUGH 

Different colors is really fun, but one color will work just fine also. 

 LIST OF WORDS 

I have included a list of words for you at the end of the post to get you started. Add other words you think would be fun, or that would work for your family. 

 

How to Play 

Divide into teams.

Give each team play-dough. We like to give each team a few different colors.

Print off one copy of the words (listed below) for each team.

Cut the words into strips and put them in a bowl or baggie.

When you say “GO”, one person from each team will choose a word out of the bowl. They will attempt to “SCULPT” that word for their team using the play-dough. They cannot talk, make noises, use actions, or anything else. They can only use the play-dough. The rest of their team is trying to guess what they are making.

Once someone on their team has guessed, the next team member pulls another word out of the bowl and begins to sculpt.

This continues, everyone taking turns sculpting, until all the words in their bowl have been guessed. The team to do this first, wins.

*VARIATIONS* 

Instead of going through the whole bowl of words to win, you can set a timer. When time is up, the team with the most words guessed, wins.

Small teams, such as teams of two will work just fine.

If you are playing with just two or three people, take turns sculpting for the whole group, and keep score as individuals. (Set a timer, sculpt, and if your word is guessed in the time frame, you get a point. The person with the most points at the end of the game, wins.)

If your children are small and can’t read yet, instead of words, draw pictures and put those on the different slips of paper. Or even create a separate bowl that holds the picture clues. When it is an adults turn, they pick from the words. A child’s turn, they pick from the picture clues.

If you have a really big group. Put one person in charge of the list of words. Send one “sculpter” up from each team to get their first word. They have to run back and sculpt. As soon as their teammates correctly guess the words, a new person from their group runs up to the person with the list and they given their next word. This lets teams run and move around and adds even more fun to the game. The team who successfully gets through the whole list first, wins.

List of Words (print off one copy for each team. Cut the words into slips of paper and put in a bowl or baggie)

Octopus

Engagement

Ring

Truck

Balloon

Music

Apple

Tree

Cat

Shoe

Telephone

Dragon

Bee

Thinking

Rain

Grapes

Blocks

Rectangle

Group

Submarine

Deer

Igloo

Bow and Arrow

Flower

Dog

Guitar

Rectangle

Blocks

Light Bulb

Door

Train

Wand

Have a question, or just want to say hello? You can find me at FamilyVolley.com. On PinterestFacebook, and Twitter. Or send me an email. I love making new friends. 

 

Stop the Summer Fighting–Part 2

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stop the summer fighting part 2



Don’t forget to check out Part 1 of Stop the Summer Fighting



Now that we better understand how our children are developing and why they might be fighting, it is time to take a look at the things we can do as parents to help with all the sibling squabbles.



First, evaluate your own behavior.

Do you play favorites?

Do you take sides?

Do you expect more from one child than another?

Do you have unrealistic expectations?

Do you compare your children and their accomplishments?



Take a minute (or 10) and really think about these questions. I know for me, I naturally put more pressure and expectations on our son, who is the oldest. I also find myself asking our daughter to give in to her younger sisters because she is a peacemaker. If I am not careful I cause resentment and one of our children gets hit with more than their share. The result, arguing and fighting.



Don’t promote competition.

  • Avoid promoting competition amongst siblings.
  • We shouldn’t label our children. (Remember, you gave them a name when they were born. Use it. Don’t replace it with “the smart one”, “the nice one”, “the pretty one”, or the slow one.”Labels can have terrible, long term consequences. 
  • Have your children work together. But don’t make everything a competition or race. We try to never say, “who can get in bed the fastest?” Instead, if they want to race, it is against themselves, or how fast they did it last time. We also have our children work together to accomplish jobs. Our daughter who is younger holds the trash bag while our son dumps the trash in the bag. Our daughter puts the clean silverware away, while our son puts the plates and bowls away. 
  • Praise your children when they get along.
  • Acknowledge each child’s special talents. Kids are different. That is good. Recognize what each of your children are good at and help them cultivate that talent. It will make them feel special.
What else can we do to keep arguments and rivalries at bay?

As parents we need to butt out. The more involved you are getting with your children’s arguments, the more they will argue. Kids need to figure out how to solve their own fights. If you are going to get involved, do it before the argument gets heated. Look for ways to keep the arguments from happening, but once they do, allow some space and let your kids handle it.If you have to get involved because the conflict is too escalated, be fair. Don’t take sides. Take the middle ground and only share your opinion when your kids can’t figure out a resolution.

Spend alone time with each of your children. A few minutes every day is the best, but at least once a week your child needs just you. Make this alone time special. Do what the child wants to do. Listen, praise, love, enjoy one another’s company. Families are busy so the best way to do this is to evaluate how your family time is spent. I spend one on one time with our daughter when our youngest is sleeping and our son is at school. Alone time with our son is spent each night after our girls go to bed. Most of our alone time is at home. Every few weeks we schedule something special to do with each of them away from home.

Distract. Parents can tell when their children are about to loose it. We know when arguments are escalating, when fights are going to break out, and when buttons are being pushed. When you see tempers are rising, distract and separate.

When there has been a fight or argument, let each child tell their side of the story. Children need to know they are being heard. Give each child equal time to talk and explain. As one child talks the other child or children should be expected to listen and not interrupt. When they are done, repeat what they have said so it is clear that you have heard them. Once you have heard all the versions, ask “What can we do to solve the problem?”. Don’t ask “who started it,” or “what happened.” This won’t help the situation or future situations.

Help your children develop friendships outside their siblings. Don’t let friends take over your family, but kids need sibling AND friends. When one of your children has friends coming over, give them space from other siblings. Especially as your children get older.

Role Play. Ask your children”…. how would you feel if….?” questions? This is important when you are trying to minimize arguments also. Help your children see other points of view.

As families, if we don’t help our kids deal with their feelings they will keep them inside and start to resent their siblings. Holding family meetings is a great way to go about this

. Set a time when everyone can sit down and work through things that “aren’t fair”, or that are frustrating. We have a family meeting once a month. The kids talk about all the things that are bugging them. It is controlled, casual and treats always follow. There is laughing and negotiation. Both are necessary in families. We start the meeting by saying nice things first. At the end everyone gives everyone else a hug. Another way to set these meetings up is one on one with a parent. My husband sits down with our kids once a month also. It is amazing what they tell him. They are honest and open and it provides a lot of insight into what we can do better as parents. Both of these situations allow our kids to express how they feel and to be heard.


Encourage children to solve their own problems.
-To do this, teach children to be respectful. That means no name calling, and take turns listening and being respectful while the other person talks. Everyone gets a turn to talk.
-Teach children to talk about how they are feeling, not blame others. “I get angry when you take my toy.” “I get hurt feelings when you say mean things to me.”
-Teach your children to only state the facts.
-Teach your children to solve the problem. In our house we tease that we don’t want to hear about the problem unless there is blood. :) When they come running to us, we encourage them to go back to the “scene of the crime” and work things out. Funny how they take care of things themselves nearly every time. With some practice they will feel much more confident taking care of their own issues.
Lastly… here are some quick rules for arguing. Consistency with these things will bring positive behavioral changes.

  • Don’t tolerate name calling, hitting or hurtful behavior in your home. Make consequences for these behaviors before hand and ENFORCE them. Enforce them every time.
  • No tattle telling. When my kids come tattling I always stop them and say, “unless this is something nice that will keep your brother or sister out of trouble, I don’t want to hear it.” 
  • Don’t get involved. Unless I was there and saw what happened, I really try to stay out of it.
  • No yelling. Again, yelling has consequences. Enforce them. 
  • In our home we also have a rule that you can’t take someone else’s things unless you ask. This has taken care of a lot of our sibling arguments.

It is hard to accept, but a lot of arguments in our homes are perpetuated by us. Yikes! It would do our families good to take a step back now and again and evaluate our own behavior. It can be eye opening.



Have a question, or just want to say hello? You can find me at FamilyVolley.com. On PinterestFacebook, and Twitter. Or send me an email. I love making new friends.