# Math In Everyday Life

Parents fre­quently ask what they can do to help their child with math. I find that the most mean­ing­ful method is to seize upon those teach­able moments in every­day life. The fol­low­ing are some exam­ples that may or may not work for you and your child. It’s impor­tant to keep your child’s con­fi­dence level high. Pushing a child beyond what they are capa­ble of will do more harm than good, so take your cues from them and have fun with math in every­day life.

In an ele­va­tor
Notice the but­tons- Use the but­tons as a num­ber line, and ask

If the ele­va­tor stopped on the 4th floor and we hadto walk to the  6th floor, how many more floors would we have to walk?

Would we walk upstairs or down?

What is the biggest num­ber?

Compare sev­eral num­bers and put them in order from least to most and most to least

Walking in NYC
Looking at the street sign- we are on 14th street. How many blocks away is 10th street?

How many do you want?
What if I gave you
1 more/ less
2 more/less
3 more/less

Pretend Purchase
Pretend your child is buy­ing some­thing. Ask them how much they have? Then make up a price and ask if they have enough? Then ask how much more they need or how much left over money they would have.

Use actual pen­nies to work it out.

Sports

Compare points: who has more, how much more?

How much more does the los­ing team need to get to be equal or win?

Money

Teach the value of penny, nickel and dime.

Count by 1’s 5’s and 10’s.

Count by 5’s and 10’s and then add pen­nies.

In the Kitchen

Your child may not be ready to add frac­tions but expos­ing them to units of mea­sure will be help­ful.

Do they know the dif­fer­ence vetween a tea­spoon and table­spoon? Show them how many tea­spoons equal a table­spoon. If your child is ready see if they can fig­ure out how many ways to get 4 tea­spoons. Play with mea­sur­ing.

Food

Pizza or pies – ask ques­tions involv­ing a cer­tain num­ber of peo­ple eat­ing a slice and then how much will be left­over?

Throw in the word “each” as in if each per­son ate 2 pieces how much will be left­over. This requires three steps and under­stand­ing what “each” implies. First they have to count how many slices are in the pie, then add how much was eaten and finally sub­tract from the total. Using the real thing will teach this con­cept with rel­a­tive ease.

Cut things in half and dis­cuss equal parts.

Introduce halves and quar­ters.

Setting the Table

Ask your child to set the table but don’t give them enough. Then ask them how much more they need.

Games

Board and card games are won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ties to incor­po­rate math. You prob­a­bly do not want to inun­date your child with ques­tions and take out the play….. but once in a while ask

How much more does one per­son have than the other?

How many more spaces to get to the end?

What do the num­bers on the dice add up to?

Sharing

When you share some­thing with your child say: I have ___. If I give you ___ how many will I have left?

.….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….…

Once you see the oppor­tu­ni­ties you will under­stand that there are end­less ways to teach math in every­day life. Keep it REAL, keep it FUN and keep it going.

# Our High Tech Kids

Our High Tech Kids

Today I am writ­ing about hand­writ­ing, but it is just one more ingre­di­ent in this high tech world that has neg­a­tive impli­ca­tions for our chil­dren. Handwriting is even­tu­ally going to be a thing of the past. There are so many more high tech ways to com­mu­ni­cate and schools are begin­ning to focus on those alter­nate meth­ods.

As a stu­dent I have found that writ­ing notes helped me to remem­ber impor­tant details much bet­ter than if I had typed them. My own chil­dren found the same strat­egy to be true. Conversely, I can write more cre­atively when I type. I teach writ­ing to young chil­dren to facil­i­tate read­ing. It helps them to sin­gle out let­ter sounds and sight words in iso­la­tion and then apply it to text. Clearly, the act of writin,as well as typ­ing, has an impact and now we know more about why that is.

In a recent New York Times arti­cle it was said that:

Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain bet­ter able to gen­er­ate ideas and retain infor­ma­tion. In other words, it’s not just what we write that mat­ters — but how.

When we write, a unique neural cir­cuit is auto­mat­i­cally acti­vated,” said Stanislas Dehaene, a psy­chol­o­gist at the Collège de France in Paris. “There is a core recog­ni­tion of the ges­ture in the writ­ten word, a sort of recog­ni­tion by men­tal sim­u­la­tion in your brain.

And it seems that this cir­cuit is con­tribut­ing in unique ways we didn’t real­ize,” he con­tin­ued. “Learning is made eas­ier.”

2012 study led by Karin James, a psy­chol­o­gist at Indiana University, lent sup­port to that view. Children who had not yet learned to read and write were pre­sented with a let­ter or a shape on an index card and asked to repro­duce it in one of three ways: trace the image on a page with a dot­ted out­line, draw it on a blank white sheet, or type it on a com­puter. They were then placed in a brain scan­ner and shown the image again.

The researchers found that the ini­tial dupli­ca­tion process mat­tered a great deal. When chil­dren had drawn a let­ter free­hand, they exhib­ited increased activ­ity in three areas of the brain that are acti­vated in adults when they read and write: the left fusiform gyrus, the infe­rior frontal gyrus and the pos­te­rior pari­etal cor­tex.

By con­trast, chil­dren who typed or traced the let­ter or shape showed no such effect. The acti­va­tion was sig­nif­i­cantly weaker.

Dr. James attrib­utes the dif­fer­ences to the messi­ness inher­ent in free-form hand­writ­ing: Not only must we first plan and exe­cute the action in a way that is not required when we have a trace­able out­line, but we are also likely to pro­duce a result that is highly vari­able.

In a study that fol­lowed chil­dren in grades two through five,Virginia Berninger, a psy­chol­o­gist at the University of Washington, demon­strated that print­ing, cur­sive writ­ing, and typ­ing on a key­board are all asso­ci­ated with dis­tinct and sep­a­rate brain pat­terns — and each results in a dis­tinct end prod­uct. When the chil­dren com­posed text by hand, they not only con­sis­tently pro­duced more words more quickly than they did on a key­board, but expressed more ideas. And brain imag­ing in the old­est sub­jects sug­gested that the con­nec­tion between writ­ing and idea gen­er­a­tion went even fur­ther. When these chil­dren were asked to come up with ideas for a com­po­si­tion, the ones with bet­ter hand­writ­ing exhib­ited greater neural acti­va­tion in areas asso­ci­ated with work­ing mem­ory — and increased over­all acti­va­tion in the read­ing and writ­ing net­works.

We live in an age where mod­ern con­ve­niences are chang­ing at light­ning speed. The way we com­mu­ni­cate, watch TV, use computers……………………….all dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent than just two years ago. Even the food we eat is less whole­some than in years past. Our brain and other organs are still the same and requires proper stim­u­la­tion and nour­ish­ment. It scares me to think of how we may be hurt­ing our chil­dren as a result of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy.

I urge all par­ents and teach­ers to be fully mind­ful as we pre­pare our chil­dren towards their future.

# Kindergarten in New York City

Kindergarten and Play

Last week, in yoga, the teacher inno­cently instructs us to be play­ful with our pose. Pretend that you are in kinder­garten she relates. I fume. Kindergarten has very lit­tle to do with play these days…..though I wish it did.  And why do peo­ple still think it does? There are schools that still value a less struc­tured and aca­d­e­mic cur­ricu­lum but those are few and far between. Many preschools, as well as par­ents, encour­age learn­ing basic skills such as the alpha­bet and num­ber recog­ni­tion as a way to give their child a leg up. The value of pre­tend play, exer­cis­ing fine and gross motor skills (small and large mus­cles,) and build­ing a child’s capac­ity for com­plex learn­ing tasks are sig­nif­i­cantly diin­ished. Instead, kinder­garten cur­ricu­lum goes straight to hard core aca­d­e­mics with limit­ted time for a five year old to be emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally free. Easels are gone…too messy. Fingerpainting is out. Clay is rarely used and soon crayons will be sub­sti­tuted for iPads. Worksheets are fre­quently used.

Many edu­ca­tors believe that this push to teach kinder­gart­ners in this way is inap­pro­pri­ate and inef­fec­tive. Children who are allowed to explore and exper­i­ment are more likely to be moti­vated to learn. Critical think­ing, which is at the heart of the new com­mon core cur­ricu­lum, is increased and chil­dren develop their social emo­tional skills in a sup­port­ive set­ting.

Parents who strive to give their chil­dren the best edu­ca­tion may look for the most rig­or­ous set­ting. In my opin­ion, a school that pro­vides great stim­u­la­tion for a child’s nat­ural curios­ity and then sup­ports them with a flex­i­ble envi­ron­ment in which to explore will be most effec­tive.

New York City pro­vides many options in both the pub­lic and pri­vate arena. Tests such as the ERB for pri­vate schools are impor­tant to some schools but not oth­ers. The G&T pro­gram may be an option but is often unac­cept­able. Hunter Elementary School is a great school but your child must per­form excep­tion­ally on the Stanford Binet Exam which is an IQ test. There are many gen­eral pub­lic schools that are won­der­ful options if you live within the school’s bound­aries.

As you explore kinder­garten for your child’s next aca­d­e­mic step be aware of the trap­ping of the so called “top ten schools.”There is more to look at than a school’s rank­ing. Observe well and seek the advice of edu­ca­tors you respect.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/parenting/2007/05/kindergartens_not_just_play_an.html

# Enabling Our Children.….Why?

Why do we enable our chil­dren?

Are you a par­ent who thinks they are doing too much for their child?

Is your child lack­ing in moti­va­tion or respon­si­bil­ity?

1- Is my help truly nec­es­sary?

2- What is my moti­va­tion for help­ing?

Many times par­ents help or enable their child because they want their child to suc­ceed. This will usu­ally help in the short term as the child com­pletes tasks, gets to appoint­ments on time, is well pre­pared and turns in ele­vated assign­ments. Does the par­ent feel pride as their child excells? Would the child have excelled with­out their help? What mes­sage is the child get­tinng from this help?

The prac­tice of enabling becomes more appar­ent as the par­ent feels obliged to inter­vene for the child’s con­tin­ued suc­cess. The suceess of their child becomes a goal for the par­ent when it should be a goal for the child. The con­tin­ued assis­tance by the par­ent cre­ates a sys­tem whreeby the child depends on the parent’s help and there­fore becomes a pas­sive par­tic­i­pant. There is dimin­ished moti­va­tion and often the child resents the par­ents for their input. In the long term the par­ent must decide whether to con­tinue this sup­port or demen­strate trust in their child.

Think about that for a moment or two. Would you ever con­sciously want to con­vey to your child that you don’t trust them? Demonstrating trust in your child is huge. If you are faced with the option of demon­strat­ing to your child that you have faith in them and you choose to involve your­self to insure bet­ter results then you must look in the mir­ror and ask your­self if your motive is ulti­mately self­ish. Yes, self­ish. That may sound harsh but it is imper­a­tive that you sep­a­rate your own ego from your child’s suc­cess. Parents nat­u­rally feel proud of their child. It is unhealthy for both the par­ent and child when the need to see a child suc­ceed trumps the abil­ity to do what is nec­es­sary to raise a respon­si­ble child.

Give your child the gift of inde­pen­dence, con­fi­dence and respon­si­bil­ity by show­ing them that you have faith in them.…and walk away.

As a par­ent edu­ca­tor and a tutor for early read­ers, I am pleased to announce the first book authored by my youngest stu­dent.

Once a child has a solid foun­da­tion of let­ter sounds then they can begin to use inven­tive spelling to rep­re­sent words. Photographs or  their own illus­tra­tions add the fin­ish­ing touch.

As a sea­soned and now retired kinder­garten teacher, I am able to pub­lish a book that has con­trolled vocab­u­lary, repet­i­tive and pre­dic­tive text with pic­tures to pro­vide a solid clue to the unknown word. The result is a book that the author is very proud of, as well as a book that can be an inst­pi­ra­tion to young read­ers and writ­ers in gen­eral.

I am proud of this first book and will soon be announc­ing his sec­ond in this series. Karate Is My Sport.

# The Myth of Gifted Education in New York City

As an edu­ca­tor I can fully appre­ci­ate the needs of highly gifted chil­dren. They see the world dif­fer­ently and often require unique strate­gies and oppor­tu­ni­ties for learn­ing and reach­ing their poten­tial.

In New York City chil­dren enter­ing kinder­garten are required to take a stan­dard­ized test if they want to be part of the Gifted and Talented Program. Many par­ents see this as an oppor­tu­nity for an ele­vated edu­ca­tion. The real­ity is that the chil­dren who test into these pro­grams are usu­ally not the excep­tional chil­dren edu­ca­tors con­sider gifted. They are bright, they are inquis­i­tive, they learn more eas­ily than some oth­ers, but they cer­tainly do not require spe­cial­ized instruc­tion. What they do need is an atten­tive and nur­tur­ing teacher, a rich cur­ricu­lum that respects their devel­op­men­tal stage and an envi­ron­ment that is safe and stim­u­lat­ing.

In California, where I taught for over thirty years, there were two lev­els of gift­ed­ness. The sem­i­nar pro­gram was solely for highly gifted stu­dents. The for­mula for the “clus­ter pro­gram,” the sec­ond tier of gift­ed­ness, was that 25% of the class needed to be iden­ti­fied as gifted while the rest of the class was not. This shifted the focus of the instruc­tion to a higher level and was meant to raise the bar for the entire class of chil­dren. Differentiated teach­ing was still nec­es­sary and any decent teacher knows that dif­fer­en­ti­ated teach­ing and indi­vid­u­al­ized instruc­tion must always be part of the plan. Children all learn at dif­fer­ent speeds and modal­i­ties. Attention must be paid to these dif­fer­ences.

In my opin­ion, the major ben­e­fit of a gifted class is not the teach­ing style or the cur­ricu­lum. It is the stu­dent. The ben­e­fits of a class that is com­prised of high achiev­ers are that a teacher can move quicker and delve deeper into all sub­jects. Class dis­cus­sions are richer and stu­dents are moti­vated by their peers. In classes that lack bright stu­dents there is a greater chance that chil­dren will have learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties as well as behav­ior prob­lems. The teacher’s time may be skewed d to the most chal­leng­ing stu­dents and a bright, well behaved child may get a poor aca­d­e­mic expe­ri­ence.

In New York City, where I was born and raised, and now live, I am wit­ness­ing many frus­trated par­ents who are unable to enroll their child in a good school. Their child may have tested high on the G&T exam but denied a slot due to lack of open­ings. Also, their child may not have received a high enough score and there­fore their choices were lim­ited. Some chil­dren may get into a gifted pro­gram but the com­mute may be so long that it would be unac­cept­able to even con­sider. Many chil­dren have no choice than go to a neigh­bor­hood school even though those schools are floun­der­ing. Teachers, par­ents as well as school admin­is­tra­tors are frus­trated and there is no solu­tion in sight. Throwing money at schools has not been shown to make a dif­fer­ence. Testing has become a new source for cor­rup­tion and neglect as schools find them­selves being dri­ven to raise test scores at the expense of qual­ity instruc­tion.  Charter schools can be won­der­ful but, more often than not, are poorly man­aged and must report to a board who are overly inter­ested in their finan­cial invest­ment.

Benjamin Disraeli once said: “Upon the edu­ca­tion of the peo­ple of this coun­try, the fate of this coun­try depends.” Can we afford to con­tinue to let our pub­lic schools floun­der and die? We con­tinue to explore and strate­gize solu­tions but what if the solu­tion is not found within the school sys­tem but the child who enters it? What if that child came from a home where par­ents were involved, had ele­vated par­ent­ing skills and part­nered with the child’s teacher? Early edu­ca­tion for chil­dren and par­ents as well as ongo­ing par­ent­ing sup­port  is a path  to change the fate of our pub­lic schools. Every class­room should have a pas­sion­ate teacher and stu­dents who are eager and capa­ble of learn­ing. All schools should be good schools. Anything less is unac­cept­able.

The Failure of The American Schools:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/06/the-failure-of-american-schools/308497/

No Rich Child Left Behind:

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/no-rich-child-left-behind/

Whining (verb)

To give or make a long, high-pitched com­plain­ing cry or sound.

Complain in a fee­ble or petu­lant way.

If you are a par­ent there is no need to read the def­i­n­i­tion of whin­ing. It is some­thing chil­dren do nat­u­rally and par­ents seem to just get used to…. and yes, we often get annoyed or VERY annoyed. Some par­ents learn to deal with this and almost tune out the sound. Others find that it intol­er­a­ble and can lose their tem­per and see things spi­ral down­ward.

Learning to con­trol our reac­tion is not the only way to go. If your chil­dren learn to wine it can become an issue for them as teach­ers and friends may also find it an irri­tant. Whining becomes an impor­tant issue if it causes us, as par­ents, to behave in a less than accept­able way.

Recognizing the need to decrease whin­ing is the first step and it is a giant step. This arti­cle will help you to under­stand how whin­ing orig­i­nates and will pro­vide spe­cific steps to dimin­ish it. It will make a huge dif­fer­ence in your lives.

1.       Evaluate.  Is there any­thing spe­cific that brings out the whiner in your child? Take notes about the time of the day, their phys­i­cal and emo­tional state and the kinds of things they whine about. Don’t just take men­tal notes, write it down. You may gain a great deal of insight.

2.       Understand.  What does whin­ing accom­plish?  It is usu­ally a learned behav­ior from a child that is used to hav­ing to beg r make repeated requests for what they want. They are feel­ing pow­er­less and defeated and there­fore resort to whin­ing. Pretty soon it can become their main way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing or request­ing.

3.       Model and prac­tice.  Your child is prob­a­bly unaware of their whin­ing and will require time to replace this behav­ior. Ask your child to prac­tice ask­ing for things in a reg­u­lar voice and then when whin­ing does occur, ask them to use that reg­u­lar voice.

4.       Praise. Catch them speak­ing in a non-whin­ing voice and praise them by say­ing how nice and sweet their voice sounds. Be care­ful not to give a “back handed com­pli­ment,” by com­par­ing it to the neg­a­tive.

5.       Awareness of YOUR behav­ior. Are you part of the prob­lem or solu­tion?

Child: They get frus­trated and then they start to whine.

Adult: Be respon­sive to their frus­tra­tion level and inter­vene before they start to whine. If they are ask­ing you for some­thing be aware of a ten­dency to ignore and only respond when they whine. Respond ear­lier, even if it is to say I heard you and you need to wait.

Child: Whines when they talk to you.

Adult: You ignore the whin­ing and respond to them. If they whine ask them to please repeat their mes­sage in their reg­u­lar voice.

Or…..

Child: Whines when they talk to you.

Adult: Gets angry.  A child that can make a grown up lose con­trol has learned a pow­er­ful tool. React calmly and your child will respond in kind.

Congratulations for read­ing this. It shows that you want to ele­vate your par­ent­ing skills. Stick with it and you will see the results you want. Remember, revers­ing bad habits may be a lot of work in the begin­ning but care­ful atten­tion to these areas has big pay­offs in the end. Teachers and other adults will have a more pos­i­tive view of your child if they com­mu­ni­cate well. Confidence is boosted and so is per­for­mance. It’s HUGE and there­fore well worth your time.

# Science Inspired By Groundhog Day

Though Ground Hog day is basi­cally a silly cus­tom that makes lit­tle sense, it is a great time to teach chil­dren about shad­ows and have fun with them as well.

The phi­los­o­phy behind Groundhog Day is that if the ground­hog comes out of their bur­row and sees their shadow it means a longer win­ter. Six more weeks to be exact. If there is no shadow then the ground­hog feels com­fort­able hang­ing around in the field and then we know Spring is “just around the cor­ner.” The premise is silly for so many rea­sons but most impor­tantly, it implies that the pres­ence of a bright, beau­ti­ful sun, which is nec­es­sary for a shadow, could pre­dict cold weather ahead.

Then inside you can play with a flash­light which imi­tates the sun. If the flash­light is straight above your child’s head, or any other object, the shadow will be min­i­mal. As the sun goes down or the flash­light makes an arc down­ward, the shadow gets longer. That is why shad­ows are longer in the morn­ing and evening and short­est at high noon.

With that con­cept being demon­strated, take notice of shad­ows in your every­day life.

Bringing atten­tion to the won­ders of sci­ence stim­u­lates your child’s curios­ity and thirst for knowl­edge.

# Increase Responsibility Using A Checklist

There’s A Checklist For That

Everyday rou­tines can be exhaust­ing.

You know the kids are going to:
Ignore you
Put up a fuss
Do it slowly or poorly

You are tired of get­ting aggra­vated so you:
Yell
Nag
Give up and do it your­self
Or learn to let them do it it their own way

Many sit­u­a­tions fall into this dance of par­ent and child:
Bedtime
Coming home from school
Homework
Helping with chores
Cleaning room

Though there are many things that we try to ana­lyze and per­fect, for many rea­sons par­ents often resign to the stan­dard
prac­tices that come nat­u­rally but may not be effec­tive. When we take the time to eval­u­ate we can make big changes. A check­list, com­bined with bet­ter under­stand­ing can pro­vide har­mony in the home and more respon­si­ble chil­dren.

Example:
Sarah was a mom of 3 dar­ling girls ages 2, 4 and 6.
She fre­quently com­plained that the girls ganged up on her and it was espe­cially ter­ri­ble at bed­time.
Gymnastics in the bed­room includ­ing jump­ing on bed and using the win­dow sill as a bal­ance beam was their rou­tine. Once in bed the party con­tin­ued, start­ing with soft whis­pers and soon esca­lat­ing into wild laugher. Often the girls would sneak out of bed and get mas­sive amounts of food with­out the par­ents hav­ing a clue, only to find the remains under the bed the fol­low­ing day.

1- Examine and trou­ble shoot
What might be inter­fer­ing with your intended goal?
When we exam­ined the sit­u­a­tion we saw that the girls had got­ten into a rou­tine that needed to be stopped in order to see change. The 6 year old, deprived of night time rest had resorted to tak­ing a long nap in school which made it harder for her to be tired at night.

The plan was to cre­ate a new look to bed­time. The fam­ily, includ­ing the girls and I made a check­list of what needed to hap­pen once the bed­time rou­tine was ini­ti­ated. Since one of the prob­lems was the amount of time mom spent talk­ing and read­ing at
bed­time we added a time com­po­nent so cud­dling and read­ing was rea­son­able. Talking would be saved for day­light hours, at least till things fell into place. I took pic­tures of them to fur­ther invite buy in. The neces­sity of sleep was explained. They knew that most flu­ids would stop after 6:00 and the restroom would be used prior to bed­time so access to the bath­room was not going to be granted. They also knew.…..and this was super impor­tant.…. that mom would be sta­tioned out­side their door and would know if there was any talk­ing or whis­per­ing.
2- Create a check­list
Think about what it would look like if your child inde­pen­dently, or close toin­de­pen­dently, began and fin­ished the cho­sen rou­tine. A bare bones approach is just as effec­tive as one that gives lots of details. Logic and the par­tic­u­lars of your sit­u­a­tion will guide your deci­sion. Do a run through to check for accu­racy.
• Let your child be involved with the sequence of events
• Have your child pose for pic­tures for each step. iPads make insert­ing pics very easy
exam­ple for Going to Sleep:
Take a bath
Put on paja­mas
Eat a snack
Brush teeth
Toilet
Story time:15 min­utes
Cuddle time: 5 min­utes each
Close eyes, think of some­thing nice

The reward for a suc­cess­ful bed­time would be a prize that they had already picked out.
After many suc­cess­ful bed­times the girls tran­si­tioned to a star chart which trans­lated to a fun fam­ily trip. Now it’s just their rou­tine and rewards are unnec­es­sary.

The day we began mom and dad made sure the girls were tired out from the day. The check­list was brought out and the girls coop­er­ated. Once they got into bed the lights in the entire apart­ment were turned off.
Mom made sure they could clearly see her right out­side the room tak­ing away the temp­ta­tion of get­ting out of bed to assess the sit­u­a­tion.
They had rel­a­tively few issues and after only one bath­room request (which was ignored) and one warn­ing about whis­pers, they fell asleep
within min­utes.
Mom kept expect­ing the drama to start but the evening was unevent­ful, with the excep­tion of the silent cheers of a relieved mom and dad.

As the days unfolded the girls con­tin­ued to embrace this new rou­tine. The effect of har­mony at bed­time had pos­i­tive effects in the day­time as well includ­ing increased respect and coop­er­a­tion. School time naps ended and the teacher reported bet­ter focus.
I know that this sit­u­a­tion was extreme but the same process can be applied to more mild issues.
A mom I worked with was mis­er­able about how her child kept com­ing home from school and dropped their stuff all over.
She said she’s tried every­thing but a con­ver­sa­tion with her child which resulted in a jointly cre­ated check­list solved the prob­lem.

# Plan For Misbehaving

Children will mis­be­have and par­ents will give warn­ing, after warn­ing , after warn­ing. If this sounds too famil­iar, you are not alone. Parenting is non­stop but if we put effort into prepar­ing for mis­be­hav­ior and imple­ment the plan con­sis­tently we can relax more and put aside the headache rem­edy.

When we make a plan that includes our children’s input we gain way more than peace of mind. Our chil­dren become more respon­si­ble, respect­ful and resilient.

The fol­low­ing gem from the beloved Jane Nelson illus­trates how mak­ing a plan can gain the coop­er­a­tion of our chil­dren.

1. make a plan

2. imple­ment the plan con­sis­tently

3. ignore atten­tion get­ting behav­ior that devi­ates from the plan

The Jones fam­ily is very excited. They have just fin­ished plan­ning a day at the beach. Seven-year-old Jason and five-year-old Jenny have promised that they won’t fight. Mr. Jones, has warned, “If you do, we’ll turn around and come back.” “We won’t, we won’t,” promise Jason and Jenny again.

The Jones fam­ily haven’t gone two miles when a loud wail is heard from the back seat, “Jason hit me.”

Mrs. Jones says, “What did we tell you kids about fight­ing?”

Jason defends him­self, “Well, she touched me.”

Mr. Jones threat­ens, “You two had bet­ter cut it out, or we are going home.”

The chil­dren cry out it uni­son, “Nooooooo! We’ll be good.”

And they are — for about ten min­utes. Then, another wail is heard, “He took my red crayon.”

Jason replies, “Well she was hog­ging it. It’s my turn.”

Mr. Jones says, “Do you want me to turn around and go home?”

Nooooooo. We’ll be good.”

All this mis­be­hav­ing should be no sur­prise. It hap­pens rou­tinely but always met with an “I don’t know what to do with them” response.

And so the story goes. Throughout the day Jason and Jenny fight, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones make threats. At the end of the day, Mr. and Mrs. Jones are angry and threaten never to take the kids any­where again. Jason and Jenny feel bad that they have made their par­ents so mis­er­able.  They are begin­ning to believe they really are bad kids—and they keep liv­ing up to their rep­u­ta­tion.

Now let’s visit the Smith fam­ily. They have just planned their trip to the zoo dur­ing their weekly fam­ily meet­ing. Part of the plan­ning included a dis­cus­sion about lim­its and solu­tions.  Mr. and Mrs. Smith have told Susan and Sam how mis­er­able they feel when they fight. The kids promise they won’t. Mr. Smith said, “I appre­ci­ate that, and I think we should come up with a plan for what will hap­pen if you for­get.” The kids keep insist­ing they won’t fight. Mr. and Mrs. Smith know their chil­dren have good inten­tions, and they are also very famil­iar with the pat­tern of good inten­tions gone awry. So, they have decided what they will do and they will fol­low through.

Mrs. Smith says, “Well then, is it okay with you if we stop the car if you do for­get? We don’t think it is safe to drive when you are fight­ing, so we’ll just pull over to the side of the road and wait for you to stop. You can let us know when you are ready for us to drive again. How do you feel about that solu­tion?” Both kids agree with inno­cent enthu­si­asm.

Typically, it doesn’t take them long to for­get their promise, and a fight begins. Mrs. Smith quickly and qui­etly pulls off to the side of the road. She and Mr. Smith take out mag­a­zines and start read­ing. Each child starts blam­ing the other while protest­ing his or her own inno­cence. Mr. and Mrs. Jones ignore them and just keep read­ing. It doesn’t take long for Susan to catch on that Mom and Dad must mean what they said. Susan says, “Okay, we are ready to keep dri­ving.” Mr. Smith says, “We’ll wait until we hear it from both of you.” Sam says, “But, she hit me.”

Mom and Dad just keep read­ing.  Susan hits Sam, “Tell them you are ready.” Sam cries, “She hit me again.” Mom and Dad just keep read­ing. Susan real­izes that hit­ting Sam won’t help, so she tries to rea­son with him. “We’ll have to sit here for­ever if you don’t say you are ready.” Susan fol­lows her parent’s lead and starts to color. Sam holds out for about three more min­utes before say­ing, “I’m ready for you to start dri­ving.” Mom says, “Thank you very much. I appre­ci­ate your coop­er­a­tion.”

About 30 min­utes later another fight starts. Mom starts to pull over to the side of the road. Both kids cry out in uni­son, “We’ll stop. We’re ready to keep dri­ving.” There was no more fight­ing for the rest of the day, and the Smiths enjoyed a won­der­ful day at the zoo.

What is the dif­fer­ence between the Jones fam­ily and the Smith fam­ily? Are Jason and Jenny really “bad” kids?” No, the dif­fer­ence is that the Smith fam­ily is help­ing their chil­dren learn coop­er­a­tion and prob­lem solv­ing skills while the Jones fam­ily is help­ing their chil­dren learn manip­u­la­tion skills. Mr. and Mrs. Smith demon­strate that they say what they mean and mean what they say by using kind and fol­low through. Mr. and Mrs. Jones don’t. They used angry threats. This had a tem­po­rary effect, but the kids would soon be fight­ing again.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith stopped using words and instead fol­lowed through with kind and firm action. It took a lit­tle longer for the kids to catch on, but once they did it had a longer last­ing effect. Because they are kids, they just had to test the waters one more time. When their par­ents started to fol­low through again the kids knew they meant what they said. They were left with the feel­ing, not that they were bad kids, but that they were clever enough to fig­ure out a solu­tion to the prob­lem and that coop­er­a­tion was the most effec­tive alter­na­tive.

Misbehaving will hap­pen. Plan for it.