Monthly Archives: April 2012

without distractions

The word is getting out – across the land.  It’s no longer just the Parent Educators at The Parenting Place anymore.  Experts across the country are recognizing and promoting the significance of emotionally connecting with our children in the same conversation as how best to discipline.

That’s what was  fervently delivered by Amy McCready, a nationally recognized certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator who spoke in La Crosse at the Lunda Center, Western Technical College on Thursday, sponsored by the Child Abuse Prevention Task Force.

Ms. McCready is an excellent, animated speaker who shared several tried and true parenting tools but (drum roll here) she insists that the first and foremost discipline tool she promotes is making an emotional connection with your child.  She says if you are only going to use one suggestion she shares  that day, this is the most significant one to choose.  Before you can change any behavior, you must first connect and invest your time on a very personal level.  Connection before correction.

When she asked the audience why this tool is so much more  important than other discipline methods, one mother, sitting alone, answered quietly, “Because everything else has failed.”

Ms. McCready has named this connection time she speaks of, Mind, Body and Soul time.  It’s time spent with each child individually – ten minutes a day – when you are emotionally available and doing what he/she wants to do.

She’s absolute about having no distractions – cell phones, texting, nagging, correcting, criticism, bossing, no personal agenda.  It is a time to get into a child’s world – openly – playing with dinosaurs gnashing each other in a prehistoric fight, or listening to your teen’s music with a clear mind, shooting hoops, painting nails, playing checkers. Whatever it is, your child absolutely knows it is 1-1 time with him/her.

Ms. McCready believes (as do I) that you will notice the difference in your relationship in a few days.  Because when you are connecting in this non-judgmental, personal 1-1 way, something happens, something palpable that you can feel.

Compare this positive step to the overuse of timeouts and taking possessions away from a child.  So often the goal of misbehavior (and there is always a goal) is a cry for attention – to be noticed – to feel significant.  Being sent away or having personal belongings taken is totally missing the point.

When we are connected, when our emotional tanks are full, all of us can feel more ready to listen and to feel more cooperative.

But I have three children – how can I possibly spend this time with just one child at a time? 

Tell the children ahead of time that you want to do something with each of them, alone, McCready says.  Encourage them to start thinking of some things they’d like to do.  When the children realize that they too will also have “their time”, they won’t want to nix this.

“But I spend all day with my children already” .

So true, but this is 1-1 time when we are emotionally available, doing what he/she wants to do and how he/she want to do it, without distractions.

Ms. McCready says it’s important to label this time to let the child know that this ten minutes is especially for him/ her so this specific time you are sharing will register in his/her emotional bank account.

So – why not try it?  The best thing about this is it’s fun, it feels good, and guess what else?  You’ll notice and appreciate your child every day, perhaps in a particularly unique way, that in our hectic schedules  might easily have been overlooked.

Now that’s a connection you don’t want to miss.

If you have questions/concerns about connecting with your child, call Fran at The Parenting Place to set up a Parent Coaching session.

You’ll get 1-1 time of your own – without distractions – I promise!

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shared laughter

The Parenting Place held their Blue Ribbon Ball on Saturday evening. A good time was had by all.  Adding to the festivities was Mike Scott, storyteller and humorist, who entertained the guests with great stories and some reflections of his own personal (and often hilarious) experiences as a stay-at-home dad for ten years.  One memory he shared, though, about his own childhood has continued to resonate with me.

Mike said he remembers weekend mornings during his youth when he and his dad would go down to their basement and watch the Bugs Bunny show together.  Mike’s dad loved Bugs Bunny as much as Mike did and so they would share their laughing – together.  Mike has never forgotten what a special gift this was to have these riotous, but at the same time intimate moments with his dad.

Now in many of  his own stories, he purposely incorporates elements that all can enjoy at different levels  – the funny voices that will make any child crack up and any adult recognize – and join in shared laughter.

Shared family laughter is probably more rare than not.  As parents, we are often so busy with the day-to-day chores and expectations, that funny moments are not usually on the list.  Taking the time to think about how we can add more laughter into our lives will change our family dynamics to a definite positive.

Playing board games and  card games usually  generates laughter – along with active outdoor backyard games, playing in a pool,  batting around an inflated balloon, telling knock-knock jokes, reading a funny book together or watching a comical TV show as Mike and his dad did.

Even more important is to find the humor in those moments that seem anything but funny.  You know the kind of day I mean.  So when the cake that was supposed to be dessert at Grandma’s house that afternoon, slips off the cake plate onto the floor- how much better to give in to laughter.  That would be one memory that would conjure up laughter for many years to come.

Parenting is serious business but should never be without humor.  Often we can evade what might have turned into a “situation” by turning it around to comic relief.  Two children arguing whose ball it is.  What to do?  Grab it and run and you have two children after you, laughing and chasing and the “situation” is avoided and the good endorphins have kicked in.

So give it a try.  Take a careful look at the mood of your family and go for a dose of shared laughter.  After all, they say, laughter is the best medicine.

Thanks, Mike, for making us laugh – together.

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viva la difference

I had an enjoyable evening last night spent on the phone with both of our adult children.  We got on the subject of personality types since our son was reading Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.Thinking about what type each of us are led us into an extended discussion, many shared memories of how they were as children, and much laughter.

Personality type is an interesting method of identifying and understanding one’s true, inherent nature.  The material is based on Carl Jung’s work as well as the work of Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Meyers.  It is based on the identification of sixteen distinct personality types.  We are born with one of these types and remain that type our entire lives.

Recognizing our own personality type and the types of our children allow us to understand how each of us responds to the world around us, how we interact with others, make our choices, and feel energized.

Children in a family can be very different from one another and from their parents.  That’s something that is often overlooked and can be particularly difficult to realize and accept. Because of this,  understanding the way our child’s mind operates can remain misunderstood.

Just knowing and accepting that in our families, we may all be functioning from a different set of inner workings of our mind is powerful.  Paying attention to the way in which a child processes information and expresses him/her self and appreciating his/her individual impulses, drives and motivation can open communication and connection between you.

I like the term – “particularness”.   What is “particular” about your child? How are your children different?  What do they need to encourage them, to understand why one hangs back quietly observing and another child zooms ahead, plunging in to activities and unknown situations.

There’s not one right or wrong personality type but there are significant ways to respond to these different types and help each one to know that the way they are is a good way to be.  The challenge for us, as parents, is paying attention to a child’s type and allowing it to develop in a  strong and healthy manner while also balancing what our own personality types dictate about us.

When we are feeling frustrated and out of sync with a child, the answer may lie in some detective work on our part – what are we missing, what patterns of behavior are apparent, what makes this child operate in harmony, what happens when…and this scrutiny will yield some answers as to how this child engages with the world and how he/she can best thrive.

Nurture by Nature – Understand Your Child’s Personality Type – And Become a Better Parent by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger is a fun and  fascinating read to help parents discover and celebrate the “particularness” of your child.

Viva la difference!

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Just for fun

Just for fun, I thought.  That’s what it should be – just for fun and… I believe it worked.

Let the children find eggs – not for how much candy or treats are inside, or until one reaches the designated limit – but just for the fun of busily running around, amongst the abundantly dispersed eggs and totally enjoying the moment – in their own way.

That’s what happened at The Parenting Place’s Bunny Hop and Egg Roll on Saturday. I believe children innately appreciate open-ended opportunities when they meet them and these children did not disappoint me.  I wanted to provide this kind of experience for them, where children, on their own, could choose how many colorful eggs they would pick up, when they would pick them up, maybe roll a few down the slide or the hill, decide, as one child did, to only look for yellow ones, or, as several children were doing, gleefully hiding the found ones to be re -found again.

Did I mention the eggs were empty?

When we, as adults, can refrain from controlling the ways some things need to be done and instead watch the freedom of creativity and joy burst forth, then our children and perhaps even ourselves will experience the pleasure of being totally absorbed in the moment.

Thanks to all who so playfully participated in the moments spent at our Bunny Hop and Egg Roll.

Just for fun.

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speak their names

Whenever sadness and loss is present in our lives, the world grows dim in our hearts and minds.  For parents going through such a period in their lives over the death of a child, it is particularly poignant.

I clearly remember when my young niece died and my sister-in-law shared one day that people she knew well seemed to be avoiding her – crossing the street – looking the other way – appearing not to notice – so as not to have to be faced with the pain of not knowing what to say.

How best can we help someone who is grieving for a loved one?

My sister-in-law understood this avoidance, but what she wanted, what she needed was to talk about her little girl.

Recently I read a poem that was presented on a site by a mom I know whose young daughter died about a year ago.  I thought it might be good to share this poem to help all of us realize how powerful it is to remember and speak their loved one’s name.

The Elephant in the Room  by Terry Kettering

There’s an elephant in the room.

It is large and squatting, so it is hard to get around it.

Yet we squeeze by with “How are you?” and “I’m fine”.

And a thousand other forms of trivial chatter.

We talk about the weather.

We talk about work.

We talk about everything else…

Except the elephant in the room.

There’s an elephant in the room.

We all know it is there.

We are thinking about the elephant as we talk together.

It is constantly on our minds.

For, you see, it is a very large elephant.

It has hurt us all.

But we do not talk about the elephant in the room.

Oh, please, say his/her name.

Oh, please, say his/her name again.

Oh, please, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.

For if we talk about his/her death,

Perhaps we can talk about his/her life.

Can I say his/her name to you and not have you look away?

For if I cannot, then you are leaving me

Alone …in a room..

with an elephant.

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