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. 


Stop the Summer Fighting

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Stop the Summer Fighting!

For most of us, our kids have been out of school for about a month now. What does that mean? It means our kids are probably fighting with one another, a. lot. Because this is a problem we all deal with, summer break or not, let’s take the next few posts and talk about our kids fighting.

First, kids are not always going to get along. We can’t expect perfection. It doesn’t exist, so let that notion go right now. :)

Second… a few “usually true” statements.

  • Children who are closer in age and the same gender are more likely to argue and fight.
  • Two -Four year olds have a conflict every ten minutes.
  • Three-Seven year olds have a conflict 3-4 times an hour.

Remember, young children don’t have the maturity to solve problems, they are too impulsive. Cut them some slack.

When do kids fight the most? Between five and eleven.

-5 year olds are always trying to care for and tend to younger siblings.

-6 year olds struggle with compromise and are overbearing. They are also competitive and their favorite saying is “it’s not fair.” I think our son said that 1 billion times when he was 6.

-7 year olds are less aggressive and more protective of younger siblings.

-8 year olds argue and are not very good at forgiving. 8 is when kids usually start asking for “private time” away from younger siblings. At the same time, they always want to tag along with older siblings. Ironic.

-9 year olds are looking for peer acceptance and want space. Be sure to give it to them. They really need it. They also need to have time with their friends, without younger siblings. They also love to tattle tale and tell you “who started it.”

-10 year olds start to get along better with their siblings.

-11 year olds like to tease.

-12 year olds start to mature and this is usually when you start to see big improvements in the arguing and fighting department.

-13 year olds want to be friends with their siblings and arguments are usually over items that are borrowed or things that get ruined.

Keeping a good perspective is really helpful when we are trying to “endure” our kids fighting. Remember, kids are constantly learning and figuring out. They are trying to navigate the unknown. They have zero experience and are doing the best they can with very little understanding of how emotions work.

Relationships take experience, maturity and patience on our part. For example, when our son was 6, he was so competitive it started to cause many arguments. He was competitive about every.single. thing. It was silly. Understanding that that was part of his development and that it would pass was very helpful. We were patient, waited it out and sure enough, it took care of itself.

Once we have a better understanding of how our kids are developing, it is time to try and figure out why they are fighting.

1. Do their personalities or priorities clash? Different genders usually have different priorities. Our son thinks army men, legos and mystery books are priorities. Our daughter’s priorities are pink, purple, playing house and American Girl Dolls. Most of their arguments are because they can’t agree on what they should do together.

2. Do you and your spouse fight? Your kids are just mimicking what they see.

3. Do they not have any time alone? Kids need alone time. Every day.

4. Do your kids get to express their feelings? If they don’t feel like anyone is listening to them, they will get frustrated. The frustration will build up and they will explode. Is is usually a sibling that gets hit with the explosion.

5. Are there stresses at home? Marital problems, money problems, sickness, stress? Kids respond to stress by loosing patience and fighting. They don’t have enough life experience to know other ways to deal with it.

6. Could it be that your kids are just too young to express how they feel? They are not old enough to solve the problems. This can be especially true when it comes to toddlers who don’t have the language skills necessary to communicate yet. Out of frustration they fight us and their siblings.

Over the next week or so, take some time to watch your kids when they are fighting and arguing. See if you can pinpoint the root of the problem.

While you are at it, spend a few extra minutes with each of your children also. The extra one-on-one time will make a world of difference.

In Part 2 of Sibling Fighting, we will talk about what we can do as parents to help with all the arguing and fighting.

Do your kids fight? Is that a trick question?

What do your kids fight about the most?

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. 

 

Family Game

Fill the Cup for The Idea Room

The last few weeks here in Utah have been hot hot hot. Regardless, our kids still want to be outside. All day. long.

In order to hang out with them, and not worry that they are “bak’in like a toasted cheeser”, we have had to get creative, beyond the sprinkles and water guns.

Here is the perfect game for you and your family to play while you are trying to beat the summer heat.

It is also perfect for family reunions, neighborhood parties, and birthday parties! And it will keep your kids busy for hours. Which is always a bonus. Just don’t be surprised when it turns into a big family water fight.

You Will Need…

Blindfolds

Clear Plastic Cups

Small Handheld Mirrors (1 mirror for every two people)

Pitchers (we use really big plastic cups when I don’t have enough pitchers)

Water Supply (hose works great)

Side Note: I like to get my mirrors at the Dollar store. I picked up a bunch of pitchers and plastic cups there also. Saves a ton of money.



To Play…

Split your family or group into teams of 2 people each.

Give each team a plastic cup, mirror, and pitcher of water.

One person from each team will sit down on the ground, and using only one hand, hold the empty cup on the top of their head. With their other hand, they will hold the mirror in front of them.

The second person on each team will stand, holding the pitcher of water, blindfolded. They will be standing above their teammate who is sitting on the ground.

And now for the fun part…

The person with the mirror, who is sitting on the ground, has to use the mirror to direct their blindfolded partner. They are trying to give them directions to fill the cup up with water that is ON THEIR HEAD! Needless to say you will get wet in this game. But isn’t that the fun?

Teammates are not allowed to touch one another, and can only direct with verbal feedback as to what their teammate needs to do to pour the water from the pitcher into the empty cup on the top of their partners head.

When the cup is full, it is time for teammates to switch places and play again. The teammate who poured the first time is now sitting on the ground. And the one sitting with the mirror, is now standing up, blindfolded.

The first team, where each team member takes a turn at both sitting and standing, WINS!

Remember, families that play together, do stay together. Enjoy playing and laughing with your family this summer.

What is your family’s favorite summer game or activity?

Has it been hot this summer where you live?

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

 

11 Tips For Taking the Stress Out of Family Vacations

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vacations-with-kids
 
*** Be sure you share your favorite family vacation destination with us in the comments.*** 

Tis the season for Family Vacations! And although we look forward to them and they are a lot of fun, they are also stressful and a lot of work.

As mothers and women, family vacations tend to feel less like a vacation and more like work, than play.

Here are 11 tips to help take the stress out of your vacations and make them more enjoyable for everyone.

Take your time.

Rushing causes stress,and stress ruins vacations and raises tempers. Be prepared so you don’t have to rush to the airport. Give yourself enough time to get to new destinations in your travel city. Don’t over schedule your vacation time.

Be willing to take breaks.

Although it sounds good to drive all 14 hours non-stop, sometimes it is better to break up the travel. Let go of the notion that you have to do it all in one day. Too many hours in the car makes kids (and adults) a little crazy. Stop every few hours and let the kids stretch their legs, have a snack, and even play at the park for a half hour. It will be worth the rejuvenation.

Have reasonable expectations.

In our minds, family vacations are all roses and rainbows. We see it working out so perfectly. Making memories and taking pictures. Laughing and sharing time together. But… the reality is that most family vacations have arguments, crying babies, and lack of compromise. We need to have reasonable expectations. Just because we are on vacation doesn’t mean that all of a sudden every family member is going to turn into a perfect saint.

When possible, leave the work behind.

Try to get things in order so you, and even your spouse, can leave the work behind. That way, you can more fully enjoy your family’s time together. If you can’t leave the work behind, set aside scheduled time to handle it each day, so you can enjoy the rest of the vacation and experiences.

Be prepared

It might mean that you have to pack a little more, prepare a little more, and prepare a little sooner, but take what you need. Don’t leave things behind if they are going to make your trip more enjoyable, or help you manage situations. If you think you need the extra wipes and diapers, take them. If you want the floating tubes in case you go to a pool, then pack the tubes.

Recognize your childrens limits.

It is easy to push our children too far on vacations, and then we wonder why they are acting up. Just like us, our children have limits. 10 museums in one day would push anyones limits. Mix in a park or something that your children choose to do. And, work to keep meals and even naps as regular as possible.

Make Time to exercise

There is something about just a few minutes to ourselves that is very rejuvenating. Schedule in a few minutes for you to exercise each day you are on vacation. It will help you take care of everyone else, and yourself.

Don’t be surprised.

You know your brother is going to make the silly joke about the guy you dated in high school. You also know that your uncle is only going to want to play golf the entire vacation. Instead of being surprised about how family vacations go, just accept it. Love your family and extended family anyway, and don’t be surprised by the situations that arise. They are most likely the exact same situations that have been happening for years.

Talk about expectations.

Everyone goes on vacation with expectations. My husband expects that we are all up early, out exploring. My expectations are that I might actually get more than 4 hours of sleep in the same night, and be able to relax for a few days. Our kids expect lots of running and playing. If you don’t talk about these expectations before hand, no one will be satisfied.

Remember it is worth it.

Regardless of the stress and work, family vacations are where our children learn values, build identity, learn to adapt and negotiate new situations, make memories, and that is just the beginning. The hard work, packing and patience is all worth it.

Have a say in the planning.

If you are going with other families or extended family, speak up. You know what is best for your family. And it is okay to voice that opinion.

With a little planning, we can turn our family vacations into the wonderful experiences they were meant to be.

What is your very best tip for surviving family vacation?

If you could go anywhere for a family vacation, where would you want to go?

 

Have a question or just want to say hello.

Six Things Fathers REALLY Want For Father’s Day

Parenting-Tips

With Father’s Day just a few days away, we are probably all looking for the perfect gift for the men in our lives. Ties, electronics, and sporting equipment seem to top the list of gifts we give to make the fathers in our lives feel special. But….Being a father is about more than golf clubs and it is important that we make dads feel special year round.  Here are 6 suggestions for ways we can make the fathers in our lives feel special, all year long. You can’t wrap them up in paper and ribbons, but they will make the men in our lives feel much more like the great dads they are.

Father's Day for The Idea Room

Fathers Want… to do Things Their Way. As women, it is easy to feel there is a right and wrong to the way things should be done around the house, and with the kids. The dishwasher should be loaded a certain way, putting the kids to bed should be done a certain way, and folding the children’s clothes should be done just so. But that is not the case. There are lots of ways to load dishwashers, fold clothes and make kids feel special at bedtime. Instead of making our husbands feel like they have to do things our way, step back and let them be dads their way. They come with a whole life of experiences and expectations they want to apply to parenthood also. So let them. We should never make them feel guilty or wrong because they do things differently than we do. Plus, if we are constantly unwilling to accept the effort they are putting in, they will stop putting in the effort.

Fathers Want… to Teach and Share. As a mom, I want our kids to learn and love all the things I did as a child. I want our kids to learn to play tennis, and swim and doodle and draw. But we need to realize that fathers want to teach their kids what they know and love too. I recently learned this the hard way as I was talking to my husband. He grew up hunting, I did not grow up in a family that participated in that type of recreation. If we are being honest, it scares me. The two of us were talking two weeks ago and he mentioned it was time to teach our son to shoot a gun. I tried to be understanding, but couldn’t help but express my concern. After we went back and forth, with me questioning why it was necessary for these skills to be taught, things got a bit quiet. Then my husband spoke up. “You know, I would love to teach our kids things I did growing up too.” Ouch! I know this concept, but had neglected to live it. I had never even thought about it that way in our home. Don’t learn the lesson the hard way like I did. Realize that they are excited about sharing themselves with your kids also. We married them after all. We need to trust them and let them.

Fathers Want… Us to Love Them. It is easy over time to let the little quirks or habits our husbands might have, start to bother us. But remember, it is probably those little quirks that we fell in love with in the first place. We have plenty of our own quirks and habits. I know I don’t want my husband pointing them out all day. Love the father of your children just the way he is. Even if there are socks on the floor. There are much more important things in this life, than that.

Fathers Want… to Help. Take all the help they give and ask for help too. I am horrible at this. The kids will ask my husband for help with something and from the other room I holler, “it’s okay, just bring it here, I will help you,”…or “come here, I can do it.” There is no need for that. I don’t need to take away opportunities for him to help and for him to be a dad. Nor do I do it any better than he does/would. I have noticed I tend to jump in more when they are asking him to do things that usually fall under my “mother role”. Help getting dressed or getting something to eat, or making their beds. Or I feel guilty because I didn’t get it done first. I also catch myself not wanting to burden him. But he does’t see it that way. Don’t take away their opportunities to be a dad and ask for help.

Fathers Want… Credit. We have to be careful with the words we use. Saying “my children” all of a sudden takes dads out of the equation. Or “I have four children.” It is a really simple thing, but they are his kids too. When we are talking, use “ours” and “we”. “We have four children”. “This is our son.” Even if he isn’t around.

Fathers Want… You to Stop Saying Mean/Embarrassing or Critical Things About Them. It can be easy to be with girl friends and start sharing critical things about the father of our children. We say them out of jest, or to be funny. But if roles were reversed, we would be really hurt if our husbands talked about us that way. Don’t get caught up in the conversation. Always say positive and kind things to others about dads. A nice new tie or sushi dinner will make my husband happy this Sunday. But he will feel even more special if I can remember to treat him like the great dad he is, year round. Happy Father’s Day to All The Wonderful Men in Our Lives!

What are you giving your Father/Husband for Father’s Day this year?

Anyone else a little afraid of what your hubby wants to teach the kids?

Have a question or just want to say hello.

Tips For Surviving and Enjoying Summer Break with Kids

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Tips-for-surviving-summer theidearoom.net

A friend and I were talking a few days ago. Both in disbelief that the kids only have a week of school left and then it will be summer break. Where has the past school year gone?

Moms seems to have a love/hate relationship with summer. They are excited to have their children home more, excited to not have so many responsibilities (places to be), but feeling anxious about all the time that will need to be filled. “Mom I’m Booooooorrrrrred” seems to instill fear in mother’s around the world.

There are lost of resources and ideas for activities and things to do during the summer months, but here are some general thoughts to help ease the anxiety that might be threatening your summer fun.

First, it is easy to get overwhelmed by all the grand ideas floating around the internet about how to spend your summer. Don’t let yourself feel bad if you don’t have a list of 1000 things to do. One of the most beautiful things, and my favorite part about summer, is that it allows families to have down time. Isn’t that what summer break is for? Allow your family to have down time also. Every minute of every day does not need to be scheduled or planned.

Plan unscheduled time for your children this summer. 

Don’t abandon routine. A completely unstructured summer will lead to stress, boredom, and a very crazy messy house. Just because school is not in session, doesn’t mean routine and responsibilities should go out the window. Give your children responsibilities that are appropriate for their ages and abilities and be sure those things are taken care of each day. We have found that the best time for chores and household responsibilities are first thing in the morning. Help your children understand that when things are in order at home, it leaves more time for your family to do all the fun things summer has to offer.

Consider service. One of the best things we can do for our children, is teach them the importance of serving and helping others. While you are planning your summer activities, be willing to focus more on service oriented activities. Seeing the needs of others and finding ways to help those around us is a lifelong skill we want our children to develop. Summer is the perfect time to start working on it.

Plan ahead. Take a few minutes to do some research about all the fun things your city has to offer over the next few months. Most places you will want to visit, do promotions, two for one days, kids free days etc… These are good things to know in advance and great to put on the calendar. That way, you have planned ahead and saved money too. There is nothing wrong with calendaring your next few months. Plan in your vacations, and experiences so the whole family can see not only what is coming up, but what available time your family has to do other things too.

Ask for input. Ask your children what they want to do this summer. They have been dreaming about it too :). They are certain to have opinions, and including them will help them feel in control and assume ownership over their actions throughout the next few months. They will also be much more likely to take care of their chores and responsibilities when they know they are getting to participate in things they are excited about, because they helped choose them.

Regulate Screen Time Early. Don’t let technology get the best of your family. Set your screen time guidelines BEFORE the summer gets under way. Otherwise you will find yourself fighting the TV fight every day. Can your children watch an hour a day? Only a certain show each day? 30 minutes a day on the computer? Lay down the technology laws early and you will have a much smoother summer.

Don’t forget the books. One of the best activities for your children to be involved in over the next few months, is continued reading. It will help them retain what they learned in school, and keep their minds and imaginations sharp. Whether they can read themselves, or you read to them, it is worth spending the extra time to help them read each day. Reading seems to fit really well into summer mornings. It’s a great thing to get it done right around the same time children are taking care of their chores and responsibilities. I also like to have the kids take an afternoon break to slow down and read.

Needs and Values. Want to know what to plan this summer? Sit down and write out a list of the needs your family has, and the values that you want them to learn or work on. Once you have identified those things, start plugging in activities that help you accomplish those goals. You will find this simple exercise brings meaning to your summer plans and gives you a great focus in your planning.

Love them. Instead of thinking about how stressful it might be to entertain our children over the next few months, think about how wonderful it is going to be to see their smiling faces each day. Take the time to get to know them, talk to them more, laugh with them more, and share more experiences with them.

Here’s to making many summer memories!

Does summer vacation make you anxious?

What is your favorite thing to do with your children in the summer? 


Have a question or just want to say hello.

Toilet Training Part 2

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Last post, Toilet Training Part 1, we talked about helpful guidelines to follow when it comes to preparing your child for toilet training, and also helping you to gauge if your child is ready to be trained. Now….
Toilet-Training-Part-2
 
Recognize, that no matter what the age, but especially if you are struggling to train an older child, it is usually not about their ability to be trained, it is all about CONTROL.
 
We can control or force everything upon a child, but, Going to the bathroom is the one thing that children have ultimate control over. Ultimate Control. They decided where and when they will go, and there is little, if anything that we can do about it. Some children will hold on to this for as long as they can. The child feels like they don’t have control over their lives so they try to gain control by hanging on to the one thing they are ultimately in charge of. Their bowels. It gives them control over something, and they know that, and it gives them attention and power. Refusing to train is an outward expression of those inward feelings.
So how can we get kids to give up this control so that they can be trained? I offer two suggestions.
  1. Give the child control in other areas. The goal is to have them feel in control of their lives. Give them two choices of what to wear in the morning, let them choose. Let them choose what they want for lunch. Let them choose their vegetables. Let them choose what park you will play at, or the routine they would like to follow for bedtime. Let them choose the jobs they will do around the house or where they want to sit in the car. Give them opportunities to lead and to be in charge. As they begin to feel control over other aspects of their environment they will relinquish control of their bowls.
  2. Give your child more one-on-one attention. To a child who is seeking attention, it doesn’t matter if the attention comes from positive or negative actions, it is still attention. When a child does something wrong, even if you scold them, you have had to “deal” with them, you have paid attention to them. Set aside extra time to be with your child. Time everyday to play, with no restictions, or interuptions. Let your child choose what they want to do. Pretty soon the extra positive attention will help them let go of the need to gain attention by being unwilling to train, or by going in their pants. They wont need you to change their diaper to get attention because they will be getting plenty of attention in other ways. 

Refer back to what we talked about last post with a stubborn child. If you have a child that is stubborn, use those techniques to deal with them before you try and train them.  

 
Next, as a parent, when you decide to train, stick with it. In many cases the parents were not committed to training the child and that is why it was unsuccessful. It sends mixed messages to your children if you are willing to go back and forth from diapers to underwear to diapers to underwear. Why are children going to put forth effort when they know their parents will just give in and let them go back to diapers? Parents need to be ready for toilet training also. Don’t dabble in it. Wait until you and your child are ready to do what it takes and then go for it, don’t look back. Stay the course. 
 
When a child becomes toilet trained it gives him/her great confidence and a feeling of mastery. These feelings will generalize into other aspects of their lives. They will have more confidence and desire to do things on their own, like feeding themselves and dressing themselves. This new confidence will buoy them up and push them to face new challenges and tasks. 
 
MY FAVORITE METHOD
Whether you are just starting to think about training a child, or you have a 5 year old who is long over due for “big boy pants”, my favorite technique for toilet training is “Toilet Training in Less Than a Day” by Nathan Azrin and Richard Foxx. You can find the book online or at your local book store. 
 
Not only does the method work, but your child is trained in a day, and oh how the stress is alleviated. It will be a pleasant experience for everyone involved. 
Much of what we have talked about in yesterday and today’s posts comes from basic learning strategies that can be found in “Training in a Day”, as well as most psychology books. These learning theories really work, and not just with toilet training. They are vital to raising children, regardless of the challenge. 
 
A word of advice. This method is successful, but it takes parental commitment. You must be willing to get the book and read it, know it, and then be prepared. You will need to committ a day to training. To staying home and teaching the method. When you are done, not only will you have a child who has dry pants and goes in the toilet, but they will be able to do it themselves, and they will be happy. It is wonderful. And remember, if you have an older child that you have tried to train without success, consider having someone else use this method and train them. Their father, or a close friend, even a responsible teenage sibling. Don’t deviate from the process and you will see amazing results.
Disclaimer: Just because a child has been trained, doesn’t mean they are perfect. Accidents can still happen. I have helped countless numbers of families use the method with 100% success. I have used it on three of our 4 children, and in the next few months will use it on our fourth child. I train them in the morning and by the afternoon, we are out running errands without diapers.

What ages do you usually train your children?
Any success stories with this method?

 

Have a question or just want to say hello.
 

Toilet Training – Part 1

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Toilet Training Part 1

For Part 2 of the Toilet Training series with Heather Johnson, go here: Toilet Training Part 2
Summer is just around the corner, and in our house that means…..time to toilet train the two year old. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

For most moms, just the thought of toilet training makes us anxious and stressed. But it doesn’t have to. With some preparation, patience and planning, toilet training can be a great experience for the whole family.

Today, in Part 1 of the two part series, we are going to talk about ways to know your child is ready to be trained and what you can do before you train them to help them prepare.

Our goal in training our children should be more than just getting them to go in the toilet. Our goal should be to teach them to go to the bathroom by themselves. We want them to have the same independence as an adult, and be able to go without the need for reminders or continual help.

There are a few things you can start to do when your child is very young, 12 months +, to help them prepare.

  • Teach your child to follow instructions. Very young children CAN follow directions. Give them the opportunity. Give your child instructions to follow and don’t let the instructions go unfulfilled.  Offer praise when they obey.
  • Teach your children the words you are going to use when you train them, and be consistent. Simple words and commands like dry, wet, stand up, sit down. This is also a good time to make sure you and your spouse, or anyone else who is going to be around while you are training, use the same words so there is no confusion. It is important for everyone to use the same words so your child doesn’t get confused. Will you say potty, pee pee? What words will you use for body parts? These are good conversations to have in advance so you can start using the same words from the beginning.
  • Let your child help dress and undress themselves. Especially when it comes to pulling up and down their pants. They probably wont be able to do it themselves, but allow them to be part of the process and encourage them to help.
  • Let your child watch you and other family members, use the bathroom. Explain to them what you are doing. “Mommy is pulling down my pants so I can go to the bathroom.” When you are done, let them close the lid and flush the toilet. Get them excited about the process.

One thing that is always tricky, is figuring out if your child is ready to be trained. Training too early can cause problems, and training to late should be avoided also.

Research shows that as a child grows older, the lack of toilet training causes greater strains and tensions on family life and on the relationship between mothers and their children.

And, when you have older children who have yet to be trained, this usually means that there have been past training attempts that have failed. Past failures can lead to children going in their pants on purpose so they can get attention. (We will talk about this more in the next post.) When a mother sees that her child has wet their pants again she is usually upset and expresses disappointment to the child. The disappointment causes the child to feel they are no longer a source of happiness to their parents, but instead frustration.

There can be a lot of baggage in the relationship if past attempts have failed. If you have had unsuccessful attempts toilet training a child, it is a good idea to consider having someone else train your child. Grandparent, father, close friend…) Handling toilet training the wrong way can lead to parents having to “mend” past hidden damage.

How do you know if your child is ready to be toilet trained? Most children 20 months and older can be trained. But every child is different. There are three readiness tests you can use to determine if the time is right.

1. Bladder Control

* Does your child urinate all at one time, or “dribble” throughout the day?

* Does your child seem to know when they are about to go to the bathroom?

* Does you child stay dry for hours at a time?

If your child does all three, they have passed the test. Even if your child doesn’t tell you they are about to go, they might still be ready to train if they do the other two.

2. Physical Development

* Can your child walk from one room to another easily and without assistance?

* Does your child have enough coordination to pick objects up easily?

3. Understanding and following directions

* Ask them to follow you to another room.

* Ask them to copy you.

* Ask them to touch their nose, eyes, and mouth.

* Ask them to bring and object to you.

* Ask them to stand up

* Ask them to sit down

If your child isn’t able to follow the above instructions, you will want to work with them on following instructions before you start training. It could be that they are too young so they don’t understand yet. If they are older, then it could be that they are being stubborn. If you know they understand what you are asking, but still refuse to follow the instructions, address this before you start to train.

Here are some tips to help you teach a stubborn child to follow instructions.

  • Be sure you have the child’s attention before you give instructions.
  • Make sure you are next to your child before you give instructions.
  • Do not give a second instruction until the first one has been completed.
  • Provide gently manual guidance within a second or two after the instruction is given if the child doesn’t follow on their own. (Help them)
  • Don’t let a temper tantrum stop you from seeing that the instructions are followed.
  • When they follow instructions, be excited and enthusiastic.
Use these rules as you go about your everyday life and tasks. When your child follows instructions, give them the readiness test again and if they pass, they are ready to be trained.
Toilet Training Part 2 will get juicy.  For Part 2 of the Toilet Training series with Heather Johnson, go here: Toilet Training Part 2
We will talk about….
  • What toilet training and control have in common and how to get kids to give up the control.
  • The importance of parental commitment. We can’t turn back.
  • My very FAVORITE method for toilet training.

 

 

Have you had a good or bad experience with toilet training?
How did you know your child was ready to be toilet trained?
 

Have a question or just want to say hello.

 

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