Parent Workshop

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Once upon a time when I was a young mom and an ele­men­tary school teacher I felt pretty sat­is­fied with my abil­i­ties and accom­plish­ments. I was doing it all well. I was doing my best. But I was wrong. It was when I took a course to help stu­dents become more respon­si­ble that I real­ized how easy it was make things bet­ter. I was taught spe­cific strate­gies that impacted the qual­ity of my life in a huge way. I real­ized the impor­tance of par­ent edu­ca­tion and it was then that I started on this jour­ney to make par­ent edu­ca­tion more com­mon­place. In my expe­ri­ence, both per­sonal and pro­fes­sional, moms and dads who are aware of par­ent­ing strate­gies enjoy more peace­ful par­ent­ing and most impor­tantly, raise chil­dren that are bet­ter adjusted, resilient and inde­pen­dent.

I recently became cer­ti­fied to teach a par­ent­ing pro­gram called SYSTEMATIC TRAINING FOR EFFECTIVE PARENTING or STEP. It is well respected and evi­dence based. The train­ing I received reminded me of sev­eral strate­gies that I knew, but had for­got­ten. I have since employed some of those strate­gies with my cur­rent stu­dents and was very pleased with the results. Children became more coop­er­a­tive and worked with greater moti­va­tion. It’s just a reminder that we all need refresh­ers. Elevating our par­ent­ing skills needs to be a high pri­or­ity. I know you agree. STEP has renewed my pas­sion to edu­cate par­ents and I am thrilled to share this knowl­edge with you.

I will be host­ing work­shops on an ongo­ing basis. Exact dates and times will soon be announced and will be flex­i­ble to accom­mo­date busy sched­ules.

Beginning work­shops will meet in my liv­ing room so it will be an inti­mate set­ting. The cost is $250 for the entire 7 week pro­gram with a 30% dis­count for your par­ent­ing part­ner. The only addi­tional cost is the par­ent hand­book which can be pur­chased on Amazon or directly from STEP pub­lish­ers http://www.steppublishers.com/.

Please let me know if you are inter­ested in attend­ing. We will then set a time that works for every­one. I promise you a most valu­able expe­ri­ence.

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If Only I Knew: Parents and Children Benefit From Parent Education

Reach your full parenting potential so your children can reach theirs.

 

If Only I Knew:Parents and Children Benefit From Parent Education

 

No one is per­fect but oh…………..how I wish I had known about the array of tools that could have helped me be a bet­ter par­ent. I didn’t know. I was con­fi­dent. I was edu­cated. Parenting would be nat­ural for me.

I don’t take on all the blame. Family sup­port, par­ent edu­ca­tion, par­ent­ing are all almost taboo in the United States and per­haps around the world. Looking back all I can say is, if only I knew that I did not know. If only.

 

But I did not know that there were sim­ple solu­tions and I strug­gled, like so many of us. Parents who strug­gle; it’s a big club with par­tic­i­pants that cross all bound­aries. We are young and old, edu­cated and high school drop outs, rich and poor, opti­mists and pes­simists, all reli­gions are included and gen­der is not a fac­tor.

 

Here is a list of the strug­gles my fam­ily endured. Struggles could have been avoided. If only I knew that I did not know. 

1–      Emotional chal­lenges on mar­riage due to hav­ing and rais­ing a child

2–      Insecurity was fos­tered from lack of parental unity

3–      Confidence was decreased from start­ing kinder­garten before five years old.

4–      Excessive wor­ry­ing due to lack of sep­a­ra­tion from my child and myself

5–      Reckless behav­ior as a result of enabling

6-      Nagging rather than com­mu­ni­cat­ing effec­tively

These strug­gles caused harm to our entire fam­ily and most impor­tantly, to the chil­dren. Thank good­ness there was enough good stuff that allowed my chil­dren to grow up rel­a­tively happy and healthy. They are not per­fect. Neither am I. But what if? If I only knew. 

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How We Encourage Arguing

 

How We Encourage Arguing

Ever see par­ents going back and forth with their chil­dren about the impor­tance of some­thing?

The par­ent comes up with all sorts of log­i­cal rea­sons why the child should do some­thing and the child responds with their own rea­sons why they don’t want to. Very often and clearly depend­ing on the age, the child’s ONLY rea­son is:

 I     DON’T     WANT TO

which is usu­ally accom­pa­nied by a well refined whine and those hard to resist sad eyes.

The other day a par­ent was telling me how their child wasn’t so into being tutored any­more, yet her tutor­ing was super impor­tant as she almost had to repeat a grade and was just reach­ing grade level per­for­mance. Giving up the tutor­ing was not an option.  The mom, try­ing to change her daughter’s mind, kept on point­ing out the impor­tance of read­ing and how much she will love get­ting lost in books. The daugh­ter had her own set of argu­ments which included……I don’t want to. The dance con­tin­ued. The mom, when asked if she were will­ing to stop the ses­sions, said no. I explained that by respond­ing to her daughter’s protests she was indi­cat­ing a will­ing­ness to change her mind.  I advised her to stop engag­ing in the argu­ment and repeat clearly and firmly, I love you but the answer is no.

I, as an adult had a sim­i­lar expe­ri­ence when I was forced to stop my own argu­ing and coop­er­ate. We were stand­ing in line for a play at Delacourte Theater in Central Park. The tick­ets are free and the rules are clear. Get in line, friends may not join you, do not leave the park. It is not unusual for peo­ple to begin lin­ing up for these won­der­ful free per­for­mances as early as 5 AM.

My friend and I got in line at 6:35 AM and were fairly close to the front. At 9:30 AM we took a walk in the park, leav­ing our chairs and bags to be watched by the peo­ple in front of us. Upon our return we were told that the employ­ees guard­ing the line were ask­ing where we were. About an hour later they returned and ques­tioned us about our dis­ap­pear­ance. When I finally asked what they were get­ting at, I was told that we would have to move to the end of what was now a very long line. As ridicu­lous as this was, they made it clear that this ver­dict was not chang­ing. Once I real­ized that my fate was sealed I did what they asked. Was I angry? Sure. But I stopped argu­ing. The deliv­ery of their deci­sion, the tone of their voice and their body lan­guage, sent the mes­sage that noth­ing I could say would change their mind. By the way, we sucked up our indig­na­tion, were relieved that we still got tick­ets and saw an incred­i­ble show later that evening.

Discussing pros and cons with your chil­dren are part of the daily con­ver­sa­tions that teach val­ues and encour­age inde­pen­dence. They are valu­able. But when a par­ent makes a deci­sion the child will ben­e­fit from the clar­ity that no amount of argu­ing is going to change the sit­u­a­tion. The child can move on with respect for their parent’s author­ity. Once the pout­ing if over a more pleas­ant con­ver­sa­tion can be enjoyed.

 

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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
Getting ready for school
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.

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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

 

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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. 

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Family Dinner

dinner table

Importance of Family Dinner

What goes on at the din­ner table in homes across the world has been a topic of increas­ing inter­est. Research has even shown a cor­re­la­tion between fam­i­lies that eat din­ner together and accep­tance by Ivy League schools. There is some­thing spe­cial that goes on when peo­ple share a meal. We choose to dine out for many rea­sons other than  food. Sitting across from each other in a relaxed envi­ron­ment allows us to open up and com­mu­ni­cate with qual­ity.

 

Time Constraints and Other Options

Many house­holds must jug­gle the real­i­ties of ath­letic prac­tice, after school or work meet­ing etc. Parents decide how many evenings they can let go of the com­mu­nal expe­ri­ence of a fam­ily meal. In my opin­ion it’s impor­tant to keep fam­ily din­ner time a goal that is met with at least some reg­u­lar­ity. If this is a pri­or­ity for you, but just won’t work in your par­tic­u­lar sched­ule, I sug­gest try­ing a dif­fer­ent sce­nario with sim­i­lar goals.  Perhaps dessert or a weekly fam­ily game night. The impor­tant thing is to build the foun­da­tion of your fam­ily through reg­u­lar oppor­tu­ni­ties for open com­mu­ni­ca­tion dur­ing plea­sur­able and shared expe­ri­ences.

 

Why We Avoid Family Dinner Time

I don’t like broc­coli. Use your nap­kin. Stop bug­ging your sis­ter. Who would want to sit down to a steady bar­rage of those com­ments? That is one of the rea­sons many fam­i­lies avoid sit­ting down to din­ner together. It is so much eas­ier to relax in front of our favorite shows or hide behind our own indi­vid­ual screens. If this res­onates with you then you are not alone. The din­ner table reflects the dynam­ics of your fam­ily struc­ture. If it is unpleas­ant then you prob­a­bly need to explore what the issues are and make some adjust­ments. It will be dif­fi­cult but very worth­while.

 

Our Soundtrack

I know a fam­ily with four chil­dren. Each child is incred­i­bly com­pet­i­tive with each as well as their cousins and friends. They have no prob­lem inquir­ing about how much money the other makes and what they may make in the future. Absent from the con­ver­sa­tion is the sta­tus of their hap­pi­ness and con­cern for the world in which they live. Success is money and money is every­thing. Through fur­ther explo­ration I learned that this was the gen­eral topic at the din­ner table. Which neigh­bor was pro­moted, who made a killing in the stock mar­ket and what expen­sive item was next on this wish list. Money was a con­stant topic and there­fore it became an impor­tant fea­ture in their children’s lives.

 

Barbra Streisand sings a beau­ti­ful song called “Children Will Listen.” Often times the most pow­er­ful mes­sages are the ones the chil­dren learn from lis­ten­ing to their parent’s sound­track. I encour­age all fam­i­lies to mon­i­tor their casual con­ver­sa­tion and decide for them­selves if that is what they want their chil­dren to be influ­enced by, because thy will for sure be lis­ten­ing. We can’t change who we are but becom­ing aware will cer­tainly inform some adjust­ments

 

Food For Thought

So clearly fam­ily din­ner is more about fam­ily time. Quality fam­ily time is the foun­da­tion for your child’s future. Make those min­utes count and com­mu­ni­cate with care. 

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