General Parenting


I got this awesome email parenting tip yesterday and I can’t find any way to tweet, repost, etc. So I am pasting below. This is not my writing, but I hope my readers will find it helpful. The credits are after the article.

Parenting Tip
October 30, 2012

When you feel overwhelmed by the poor behavior of your children, here’s an exercise that will give you some direction. In fact, this activity is good for any parent looking for ways to help children grow, but it’s especially helpful when you’re confused and overwhelmed by a problem’s complexity or deeply rooted nature.

Take out some paper and make a list of the offenses committed by your child or the problems you’ve seen in your child in the last few days. This isn’t a list to show to your child but is a working list so that you can gain some perspective in your discipline. You’re looking for examples of problems that need to be addressed. In this step, you’re simply gathering data and making observations.

Next, group the offenses around character qualities. That is, look for common threads in the offenses that are an indication of a bigger heart issue. Grouping offenses around character qualities is freeing for many parents. First, it provides parents with some perspective. Instead of working on 50 different negative behaviors, now you can focus on three or four positive character qualities. Furthermore, once you develop a strategy for character development you begin to see many of the offenses in your child’s life as opportunities for growth.

This approach also helps parents focus on what their kids need to be doing instead of simply focusing on the wrong behavior. In order to keep character training practical you might want to develop a working definition for the quality you’re focusing on. Here are some examples to get you started, but the best definitions are ones that you develop that are targeted specifically to your child’s needs.

  • Obedience is doing what someone says, right away, without being reminded.
  • Honor is treating people as special, doing more than what’s expected, and having a good attitude.
  • Perseverance is hanging in there even after you feel like quitting.
  • Attentiveness is showing people you love them by looking at them when they say their words.
  • Patience is waiting with a happy heart.
  • Self Discipline is putting off present rewards for future benefits.
  • Gratefulness is being thankful for the things I have instead of grumbling about the things I don’t have.

Finally, develop a coaching attitude with your child as he or she has opportunity to learn and practice this new quality.

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This parenting tip comes from the book Parenting Shifts, 50 Heart-Based Strategies to Keep You Growing in Your Parenting by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.

First, I want to make it clear that is is a general parenting article.  Overcoming negative self-talk in children is by no means indicative of only children.  My biggest ally in dealing with negative self-talk in my perfectionist child, is a mom of 2 children. Her oldest has experienced some of the same issues. Here are 2 of Joshua’s:

He feels bad getting an answer wrong in front of the class.
If the teacher calls on him and he doesn’t know the answer  – it makes him feel bad.  Negative self-talk dictates that if he feels bad, he must be bad. I tell him, no, it is ok to make mistakes.  It doesn’t make him bad or unloveable. Even King David made mistakes and God said he was a man after his own heart. Mommy and Daddy make mistakes all the time like “_____”.

He beats himself up for getting 1 or 2 wrong on a paper or test.
We are not talking about doing poorly – we are talking about getting 1 or 2 wrong on a paper with 10-20 questions.  As soon as he gets in the car at the end of the day, he would whip open his folder and proceed to beat himself up for every answer he got wrong. I asked him, how do you think I would feel if someone talked to you like you are talking to yourself?  Mad, right?  I don’t like hearing you talk to yourself that way either.  I love you so much and God loves you so much more. My friend told me, “You are the mom.  If he can’t handle looking at his papers without getting upset right after school, take the folder from him until he can handle it (i.e., after a snack).”

After doing some research online, I found some additional helpful hints to combat negative self-talk on Dr. Michele Borba’s website and at Priceless Parenting.

1. Don’t focus on it.
I found myself doing this…giving him a ton of focused attention when he was sad about his day.  Day after day after day.  The school counselor suggested I be aware of this.  I do listen to him when he has a bad day, but I also make sure to give him focused attention when he is well behaved, relaxed, etc.

2. Confront negative voices.
Gently encouraged your child to talk back to his negative voice. Tell him, “I remember when I was in school. Sometimes right before I took a test I’d hear a voice inside me say, ‘This stuff is hard. You’re going to get a lot wrong on this test.” That voice took my confidence away.  I learned to talk back to it.  I’d say, ‘I’m going to try my best. If I try my best, I’ll do just fine.’”

3. Turn negatives into positives.
We started following the 1 Negative = 1 Positive” rule in our family. Whenever someone says something negative, they must turn it into something positive. If your child says, “The weather is so yucky today,” encourage him to say something positive: “The grass will be greener from all this rain.” Consistently enforcing the rule will diminish the use of negative statements.

4. Send positive self-statement reminders.
This one has been particularly helpful for Joshua.  I remind him to praise himself in his head when it is deserved. The other day, he brought home a perfect math test.  I said: “That’s great! Did you remember to tell yourself in your head what a super job you did?” He said, “No, I’m just good at math.” I reiterated that he needs to give himself kudos when he does something good.  He beats himself up for getting 1 wrong – he should congratulate himself for getting a 100 in math!

5. Negative thoughts are like a naughty monkey.

I love this one…there is a Zen concept called the Monkey Mind. It’s the part of your brain that races from one idea to the next, chattering endlessly, craving things, being unsatisfied and judgmental. Dr. Alison Arnold uses this concept to explain negative thinking to the kids.  Negative thoughts are like a naughty monkey running away instead of focusing on the task at hand.

What can you do once you notice your Monkey Mind is off on a tangent? Stop your negative thinking in three steps:

  • Take a deep breath.
  • Think to yourself, “Stop. Relax.”
  • Say something positive to yourself like “I can handle this.”

By following this process, kids can learn to stop their negative self-talk and replace it with positive self-talk. The Bible says we are to take every thought captive in 2 Corinthians 10:5.  We must stop negative thoughts in their tracks before we accept them as true and go on to have a bad day because of them.

One final note.  The most important thing we can do to help our children overcome negative self-talk is to pray for them. Not just, “Dear God help Joshua today.” Pray specific prayers for specific issues with their name inserted into scripture.  Today, Joshua was afraid we were going to be late for school.  When I got home after dropping him off, I prayed the following prayer according to Psalm 56:3-4:

“When Joshua is afraid, he will trust in you. Oh God, whose word he praises, in God he will trust, he will not be afraid.  What can mortal man do to him?”

We he got home, he told me he had one of the best days this week. Woohoo! That’s what I’m talking about! : )

Helicopter Parent

Foster W. Cline, M.D. and Jim Fay coined and defined the term “helicopter parent” very precisely in a section on “ineffective parenting styles” in their 1990 book Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility. It has since become a common term in the 2000’s as parents attempt to sweep any and all obstacles out of the way of their child(ren)’s path. I am sure you would agree that this is not an effective way to parent any child, especially an only child. Only children need to know that they are not the center of the universe…our universe or the universe at large.  I used to feel guilty when I worked at my desk on my home business and my son Joshua wanted to play.  Now I realize I may have done him a favor.  Don’t get me wrong, I spend lots of time with him, but there are times when I need to do something on my own. There are times when my husband and I need to go out on a date without him or (gasp!) have a private conversation without him. LOL

I recently found a wonderful article that does not use the term “helicopter parent” but describes the phenomenon in detail. It is a light-hearted look at a parent who worries about everything and trusts her children with nothing.  Enjoy and allow it to reshape some of your over-protective tendancies.  I know it helped me!

Boston Magazine – Welcome to the Age of Overparenting

After moving from PA to TX, my only child Joshua started to whine and complain constantly.  It was his reaction to the huge change in his life.  Even though I understood the reason for his bad attitude, I still couldn’t allow him to act in a way that was unacceptable for our family. I had purchased “Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining and Bad Attitudes” by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller several months ago.  Now was the time to read it.

This is from the inside flap of the book:

“Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller offer a thorough program for establishing honor as a basis of family life — not just children honoring parents, but parents respecting children and children honoring each other. Even if honor seems a long way off in your household, you will find practical suggestions here to bring that goal a little closer — suggestions for kids of all ages. Honor is the biblical value that will bring about good behavior. It’s more than just changing what kids do; it’s changing the deeper issues of the heart that triggered the behavior.”

The book has a lot to offer and I have no doubt it will change the way our family relates.  It talks about honoring our family members in every interaction.  Give the gift of treating them well.  You wouldn’t give your friend a bag full of dirt, would you?  Neither should you give your family harsh words or bad treatment.  The bottom line is that we should treat each other with honor – as valuable treasures. Parents AND children. I have no delusions – my son has learned bad relational habits from mommy and daddy.  The buck stops here.

There are 2 methods you can use for teaching honor to children.  The first one is “Obey First and Then We’ll Talk About It.”  I don’t know about your child, but mine has a bad habit of trying to “get out” of everything I ask him to do.  He doesn’t just say “no” which would be easier to deal with.  He tries to debate giving me 10 reasons why he shouldn’t do it.  Now, when I ask Joshua to get ready for bed and he starts telling me all the reasons why he should be able to stay up, I tell him to get his PJs on and then we will talk about it.  It teaches him that while he does have some say, there are also times when he needs to follow instructions.

When children learn to follow instructions without arguing, you can progress to the second method – “The Wise Appeal.” Ben comes home from school exhausted from a long day.  All he wants to do is sit and listen to some CDs.  As soon as he walks in the door, his mom asks him to skim the pool for the guests that are coming over later tonight.  His first thought is to argue that it isn’t fair – then he changes his approach.  He tells his mom that he understands the pool needs to be skimmed but he is really tired.  Would she be ok with him skimming the pool in a hour before everyone arrives?  Everyone’s needs are met and everyone is happy.  “The Wise Appeal” says:

“I understand that you want me to…because…”
“I have a problem with that because…”
“Could I please…?”

Children need to learn to appeal in an honoring way when they don’t agree.  It is something they will take with them into their jobs and their families when they get older. Do your family a favor – teach them about honor early in life.  They will thank you for it later!

I recently discovered the National Center for Biblical Parenting.  They give biblical-based parenting advice, their advice is also just plain good sense.  I got a free article called Tightening Your Action Point that I think gives a lot of insight into how to obtain obedience in your child or children.

You’ve all heard about counting to 3.  Kids learn that when you start counting, they are 3 counts away from being disciplined.  For some, this works great.  My son doesn’t need me to count to 3.  All I have to do is say “this is your warning” and he stops what he is doing.  My niece Emily, on the other hand, is a little less compliant.  I was talking to my brother the other day and he said when he starts to count, she just does whatever she is not supposed to be doing faster so she can finish before he gets to 3.   LOL

According to this article, getting to 3 would be the action point.  The kids know that when you get to 3, you will take action.  The key is getting to your action point before you get angry.  Kids react to anger and will likely do what you asked, however, it doesn’t address their heart or intentions.  Do you really just want blind obedience or do you want them to do the right thing because they know it is the right thing?  Take a look at the article – I think it is profound.  If you like what you see – take a look at the website. They do parenting seminars in churches across the country if you learn by listening, this might be a good option.  Enjoy!

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