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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*** 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

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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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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.

 

How to Talk to Our Children About Strangers

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Throughout our stint as parents, there will be plenty of tough conversations we will have to have with our children. One that is always tough for me is talking to our kids about strangers. I don’t even want to think about it, let alone have to talk about it. In fact it makes me nervous typing about it. I worry about being able to teach them without scaring them. Never the less, it is a conversation we MUST have. More than once in fact.

With summer around the corner, our kids are going to be outside more, riding their bikes around the neighbor and playing with their friends. Now is the perfect time to start talking to them about strangers and what to do if they are ever faced with the situation.

Let me help you with the conversation.

The first thing we want to do is help our children understand what a stranger is. We need to help our children understand that strangers don’t have to look evil and mean like portrayed on TV and in movies. A stranger is anyone that your family doesn’t know very well.
The first time we sat down with our daughter to talk about strangers, I explained to her what a stranger was. Then she said, ” okay, but we don’t know policemen, so are they strangers”?

Uh, I wasn’t really expecting that. But I am so glad she asked.

We need to distinguish between bad strangers and safe strangers. Safe strangers are people that our children can go to for help. This would include policemen, firemen and teachers. Take time to talk about the difference between safe strangers and bad strangers.

Once your child understands what a stranger is, it is time to talk about dangerous situations your child might face. (Add any others you feel are appropriate).
Dangerous situations include (but are not limited to)…
    •  When someone asks them for directions or help. This would include being asked to find a missing dog etc…
    •  When someone asks your child to keep something a secret.
    • If someone does or says something that makes them uncomfortable. 
    • If someone encourages them to disobey you, break family rules, or do something wrong. 
    • If someone asks them to come up to a car window or follow them somewhere.
    • If someone tries to grab or touch your child.
In these situations they need to get away and tell an adult immediately. We also need to explain to our children that they will never get in trouble for telling an adult about the situation. It is not tattling and they will not get in trouble for “telling on” an adult. We also want them to know that they will not get in trouble for disobeying or saying “no” to an adult in a dangerous situation.

Once our children understand what a stranger is, and what a dangerous situation is, we MUST role play situations that our children might be faced with. Role playing is one of the most powerful parenting tools we have. It prepares our children so that when they are faced with the situation, they have confidence in their abilities, because they feel like they have already handled the situation. It also helps them know just what to do. They don’t have to waste precious time trying to decide how they should act because they already know.
Role playing also lets us as parents see how our children will respond, and then trouble shoot.

Some role play examples might include… 

A stranger asks your child if they want a ride home.

A stranger stops to ask if your child has seen their missing dog.

A stranger asks your child for directions.

A stranger asks your child if they want a treat or candy.

A stranger tries to grab your child.

A  strangers tells your child they are supposed to take them home.

Teach your child what to do in these situations.

  • Never get close to the car, or the stranger. Keep your distance.
  • Yell “No” as loud as you can and run away from the stranger.
  • Kick and scream and thrash if necessary.
  •  Tell an adult, or safe stranger what has happened right away.
We have to have these tough conversations with our kids. Role playing what could happen in these stranger situations will help our children know what to do. This will give our children confidence and will give us a little peace of mind as we send them out the door every day.
How do you talk to your kids about strangers?
Is the “stranger danger” talk hard for you?

Have a question or just want to say hello.

Getting Children to Eat Their Vegetables

kids-and-vegetables

Veggie battles are about much more than just carrots and peas. They are power struggles between us and our children.  Today I am sharing some tips that can teach you how to get kids to eat vegetables.

Remember…

Kids have very little say in their lives. We tell them when and what to eat, when to sleep, when to play, what to wear, everything. They are looking to have control over their lives. As parents, if we are always ordering our kids around and demanding they do certain things (like eat their vegetables), we are taking away their personal independence and power. They will act out and try to regain some control.

There are essentially two things that children have ultimate control over, going to the bathroom, and eating. They will use both of these things as “power tools.”

Kids will test us. They are looking to get a response and reaction out of us. They will exert power (like refusing veggies) to see how we respond.

When our kids feel trapped or helpless, they fight back. They know they are dependent on us and that we make the rules, so the helpless feeling leads them to negotiate, talk back, argue, refuse and fight.

Our kids are always looking to exert their independence. Regardless of their age.

That said, we can be pretty hard on ourselves when our kids won’t eat their veggies. But just because your son won’t eat his broccoli, doesn’t mean you are a bad mom. I can’t get my husband to eat pickles or olives. That doesn’t make me a bad wife.

So what CAN we do?

One of the best things we can do when it comes to vegetables is give our children a choice. Yep, give your child two different vegetable options at meals. One option will make our children feel forced. “You have to eat carrots.” Two options gives them a choice. When we give our children choices, even if they are small choices, they feel in charge of their lives. They feel responsibility and ownership. Your child will be more likely to actually eat the vegetable because they chose it.

Instead of telling them what to eat, they get to choose what they want to eat. Now, I am not implying you become a short order cook, or start cooking them different meals than the rest of the family. Instead, explain the importance of eating vegetables and then ask if they would like broccoli or peas and let them choose.

Giving them this choice will help them feel in control, strengthen your communication and give you a better understanding about your child’s preferences and how to deal with them.

Often times as parents we get so caught up in trying to do the “right things for our children”, that we miss the fact that our children are people just like us, with thoughts and feelings and preferences.
In my mind (and sometimes out loud), I say things like, “I worked hard to cook this for you, now eat it”, or “I am trying to be a good parent and help you grow healthy and strong, now eat it”. Or, when we are with other people I worry what they will think of me as a parent if my kids refuse to try their vegetables. Throw those thoughts out the window.

Respect your children’s opinions and they will respect you. DON’T GIVE UP. Allowing choice doesn’t mean your kids have won. It means you really love them and treat them as you would want to be treated. We can’t let our egos, take over our parenting.

Don’t let your kids throw their food, or shove their plates across the table. Don’t let the situation escalate to that point. If our child is young, ask them to use their “words” to tell you they don’t like something. When they tell you they don’t want to eat it, respect their opinion and thank them for talking to you instead of throwing a fit. Then, take the food they don’t want away, and move on. If your child feels you are listening to her and respecting her opinion, she will start to come around and maybe even try the veggies she rejected.

We don’t want veggie battles to ruin our family dinner either. We are trying to create memories and rituals that stay with our family long after the “vegetable battles” are over. Make dinner enjoyable and fun for everyone. If our children know that every time your family sits down to eat there is going to be stress over the food, they will not want to be there. “One bite” or “just one carrot” is not worth it. We don’t need to get frustrated, loose our temper, or get worked up. When we act that way, we are letting our pride overshadow our love for our child.

We have fought the veggie battle in our house. Our son has always been very willing to try every single vegetable we offered him. Then we had our daughter. She would sit tight lipped, refusing to even open her mouth. It has taken time, but the more respect that I show her, the more she is willing to try new things. The more I listen to, and respect her opinion, the more she is willing to try new things. The more I give her choices, the more she feels in control and the more she is willing to try new things.

Other ideas…

Remember that children have to be exposed to food approximately 10 times before they will accept it. What ever you do, don’t stop offering the vegetables. Always offer them, always.

Try veggies in all different forms. Raw, cooked, add some butter, salt, pepper, teriyaki sauce, pasta sauce, even a little ranch dressing could change things. Most kids will eat anything with “dip dip sauce”. There is nothing wrong with spicing things up a bit. After all, most adults don’t even eat vegetables without “something” on them.
Try every vegetable you can get your hands on. Think outside carrots and peas. When our daughter was two she would only eat raw zucchini. Who would have thought.
Let them help you cook. Get them involved in every step of the process.
Grow some vegetables. Children love to plant and tend to gardens. Teach them about the process and they will want to taste what they have grown.
The favorite in our house. When our children are little, I add small pieces of cooked carrots and peas in my children’s cheese quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches. Cook up a few carrots until they are nice and soft. Slice them very thin and layer them with canned peas, amongst the cheese.
Use all the tricks, dice veggies up very small and add them to your hamburger meat, your spaghetti, anything. Find ways to add veggies in his favorite foods.
If, for nutritional reasons you are still concerned. Be sure your children are taking a vitamin each day. Along with that, make him a smoothie each day with vegetables mixed in with some fruit, ice, and a little yogurt. he will love it, and never know that he is eating spinach and carrots from dinner the night before. The goal is to find the vegetables they like and work with it.

Remember, this is bigger than just zucchini and carrots. We are building relationships of trust and family memories. Don’t let the vegetables become more important than your relationship with your children.

Do your kids like vegetables?
How do you handle “veggie battles” in your house?

Have a question or just want to say hello.

Teaching Values Through Children’s Books

It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley to share some of her amazing Parenting Tips on Teaching Values Through Children’s Values from childrens story books as part of her “Parenting Tips Series” here on The Room. Here’s Heather in her own words.

–Amy

best-childrens-books
We love children’s books at our house. You probably do too!
 

But children’s books aren’t just for kids, they are great tools for us as parents too. A good story book can be one of our best allies in parenting. 

Children’s books are a great resource we can use to teach our children. They can help our children through new stages of life. They can teach our children how to handle experiences that are unfamiliar and new. They are a great way to teach our children values and appropriate social behavior. Children’s books can even help ease anxiety and help children cope with situations like moving, bullying, or starting kindergarten. 
Good books also allow our children to hear messages from someone else, so they don’t feel like they are constantly hearing reprimands and counsel from us. 
We have favorite books at our house. Our favorite series is the Berenstain Bears. One of our favorites is “Forget their Manners.” The book is a great example of how we can use children’s books as teaching tools.
In “Forget their Manners”, Sister Bear is in Brother Bear’s way, and instead of getting mad; Brother says, “No harm done.”
After reading this to our kids, we started saying “no harm done” around the house when similar situations happened. It helped our kids remember what they had been taught in the book and reiterate the principles in our every day experiences. It is this reiteration that solidifies the values that books teach.
Books have the power to teach our children life skills and values. They have an amazing way of emphasizing principles we are already trying to teach our children. Principles like using good manners. They can help shape our children’s character. Books are also a great way to help our children understand topics that we might not know how to explain.
There are MANY great book choices out there. Here are a few of our favorite children’s books that teach values. (Some are older, some are very common, some you might have never heard of, and some you will have to find in your parents basement.)
· “The Empty Pot” by Demi – From looking at the cover of this book, it wouldn’t be the first one you pulled off the shelf, but it is a MUST read for every family. The life lessons are endless. A MUST read! Find this one, acquire this one, check this one out.  
· “Berenstain Bears” by Stan and Jan Berenstain – There are a number of Berenstain Bears books. Every one teaches valuable principles. The older books by Stan and Jan are my favorite.
· “I Like Myself” by Karen Beaumont – Teaches self-esteem and self confidence.
· “Why Do You Always Have To Say Please” by Wendy Rosen and Jackie End – Teaches proper manners, especially when you eat at a restaurant. Manners make things better for everyone. 
· “Power Series” – 12 different books on a number of subjects (values and life skills. The power of Courage, The Power of Perseverance, etc…). These will be hiding in a basement next to the Encyclopedias and Childcraft books. Find them!
· “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Suess- We probably all have this at our house. It is a household favorite that teaches our children to try new things and eat their vegetables. Have you ever thought to apply it to your children’s lives that way?
· “The Little Engine that Could” by Watty Piper – Teaches perseverance and the importance of not giving up. My husband likes the clown, and likes to talk to our children about support and cheering for others. 
· “If I Obey I’ll Be Happy All Day by Peggy Barton – One of the very best books about obedience. This is very old, and almost impossible to get your hands on, but if you can find one in a relatives basement, don’t let it get away. 
The next time you are reading a book to your child, take a minute to think about how you could use the message to teach your children. Draw parallels and correlations and then incorporate those into your everyday life. 
Bond with your child and teach values and life skills at the same time, by reading together. You will never regret it.

I shared these books with Studio 5 (a lifestyles show here in Utah) a few weeks ago. Watch the video for more details about each of the above books. Especially “The Empty Pot.” have I mentioned it is a must read?! The video lets you see each of the books, so you know what you are looking for. 

Do you have a favorite children’s book? Share it with us!

Have a question or just want to say hello.

 

 

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