Is There A Perfect Parent?

Perfect Parent? Ha Not Me!

Perfect Parent? Ha Not Me!

Let me just dispel all the myths right now… “There are No Perfect parents!” From the first moment as a new parent when we hold our new born baby in our arms until they grow up and move out of the house our life will be filled with First Time Experiences. As a first time parent we are all new to the game. So, what does anyone do when they are new they make mistakes and learn from them and try, again, again and over again throughout their child’s life. Of course by the time the second child comes along (if there is a second) we have a little more knowledge and experience under our belt and can make different choices. Even then sometimes the methods that worked with one child may not work with the second.

The hardest moment in parenting to deal with is when a child is really upset or having a temper tantrum. Kids can push us beyond our limits and when you have an angry parent and an angry child sometimes not all the best decisions are made as my kids love to remind me. One time when my daughter Anya was little and totally out of control I was at a loss on how to help her calm down. Then I remembered a show I had seen where they put a hysterical person into a cold shower clothes and all to calm them down. The cold water shocked the person and chilled them out of their hysterics. I had tried everything else to no avail so thought it might work. Lets just say what works on TV doesn’t always work in reality. As soon as the cold water hit her body she totally lost it and was so mad she came out of the shower kicking and screaming then threw all her clothes and toys out of her drawers and all around her room.

What I didn’t understand at the time was what triggered her anger. She would lose control when she felt disrespected. She had already been feeling disrespected by whatever happened in the first place to upset her and the cold shower was definitely not respectful to her. After she calmed down I apologized and we talked about what we could both do differently next time.

It took some trial and error but I eventually learned what she really needed was to be heard and understood. If I could catch her before she lost control, sit with her and hear her side of the story she would feel heard and calm down. When she did lose control we found Cool Down Time worked better than cold showers. I would give her some paper and crayons or pencils in her room and ask her to draw me a picture of how she felt. She did draw some very angry pictures but it gave her a more positive way to vent her feelings and art became her escape and passion.

Anya also taught me a very valuable lesson. When disciplining a child remember, they are just like you. If you wouldn’t want to be treated a certain way yourself do not treat a child that way and if you do over react a bit like putting your child into a cold shower it is always ok to say you’re sorry after all we are only human. Sometimes it is better for you both to walk away for Cool Down Time rather than carry on. As a mom on more than one occasion I gave myself a cool down time until I calmed down enough to be able to help my child deal with their emotions.

Being a parent I guarantee you will make mistakes or if your children are older you have already made mistakes. What is important to remember is we all, even our children are doing the best we can with what we know in this moment. So be gentle with yourself and your child. When our knowledge changes through experience or parenting books or courses we will learn a different way to handle the same situation for the next time and as parents we know there will always be another opportunity to try again.

Am I Really A “Helicopter Parent”?

The Helicopter Parent... Could You Be One???

The Helicopter Parent… Could You Be One Too???

I had never even heard the term “Helicopter Parent” before until my daughter in grade 12 at the time accused me of being one after I came home to pick up and deliver my son’s school project to him that he had forgotten. Slightly embarrassed, I had to ask her what it was to which she smugly said, “Mom, a Helicopter Parent is a parent who takes care of everything for their child! They hover over their children like helicopters making sure everything is always just fine. How is James ever going to learn to remember to take his homework if you keep bringing it to him?” She had a good point. When I read up on it a bit more I didn’t think I had all the traits of a Helicopter Parent but there were a few. Sure maybe I requested certain teachers each year for my children or I helped them sometimes a little too much with their homework when they asked or maybe brought their forgotten lunch and homework down to them once in a while, …ok, all the time.

Was I really being a Helicopter Parent? I didn’t do Everything for them; I wasn’t following them around hovering and watching over their every move so they never got hurt or experienced disappointment? I didn’t control everything in their life only a few things. I started to think about it. Maybe I was a bit of a Helicopter Parent. After all how was I really helping my child to learn for themselves if I was doing all these things for them? How was I empowering them to make their own wise decisions in life or to learn from their mistakes? Maybe if I stopped delivering my son’s homework to him he would smarten up and pack it the night before. If he didn’t get my idea of a perfect teacher maybe he would get the experience he needed with a different teacher.

In reading more about it I read about College professors complaining about parents coming in to tell them they are giving too much homework to their child and their child was overwhelmed. There were managers telling stories about parents coming in to ask for raises for their children, complaining their child was being worked too hard or treated unfairly and they wanted the manager to make changes to improve their child’s work experience. I know being a parent we all just want the best for our children in life and if we could, we would fix everything for them but when is enough, enough!

Sometimes it is tough to know the difference between guiding our child and taking over for them. When we take over we send the message to our child that we don’t think they can do it themselves. Not only do they not learn how to make decisions for themselves but they lose their self confidence and coping skills relying on us or others to fix things for them. If a parent fixes everything the child may never learn how to deal with their own mistakes or disappointments in life.

I realized as hard as it was to watch my babies make mistakes sometimes I had to let them fall on their own so they would know how to pick themselves up again and keep going when I wasn’t around. By rescuing them all the time I was not letting them experience their life lessons so they would keep repeating their mistakes knowing Mom would take care of it instead of getting the lesson and moving on. The next time James called me from the school to bring down his homework I told him he would just have to run home at recess and get it as I was out. He never forgot it again. It wasn’t as much fun going back for it himself as it was to inconvenience mom to bring it down to him.

I learned something very important through my daughter’s simple comment. We can guide and teach our children the best we can but ultimately they will have to figure things out for themselves. If we keep preventing situations from happening in their life they will never learn their life lessons and will always be fearful of taking risks and failing in life. I wanted to empower my children and teach them to have enough confidence in themselves to take risks. To do so I had to take a step back and watch, sometimes guide but ultimately let them experience the natural consequences of their behaviour and do it themselves while they were at home so when they grew up and left they would have the knowledge to take on lifes challenges on their own!

For more information on Helicopter Parenting check out this recently published article “How to avoid being a Helicopter Parent” by Jennifer Chung in the Toronto Star.

HOMEWORK BLUES!

When It Comes To Doing Homework Does Your Child Feel Overwhelmed?

When It Comes To Doing Homework Does Your Child Feel Overwhelmed?

Does your child get overwhelmed when facing a pile of homework? Do they sometimes melt down and take forever to get it finished? Do you sometimes wonder if you could do it for them just to avoid the stress of them doing it? If you answered yes to any of these questions then please read on…

 

The first couple of years in intermediate classes can be tough for kids.  The work gets more challenging, teachers assign more homework and projects expecting more detail, things are harder to understand and grades really start to matter. It can be overwhelming for kids to go from having a little bit of homework in grade 3 to a lot in grade 4 depending on who their teacher is.

I remember when my kids were in grade four and five. They would get so overwhelmed with homework that sometimes I wished I could just do it for them so I could stop fighting with them and  just get it out of the way. Of course that wasn’t the answer, the answer was to help them establish a routine so the homework would get done and not feel like such a chore.

Homework Routine:

Make sure your child brings everything home:

Right when you pick them up from school, before they get to play on the playground have a quick read through their School Planner to see what homework your child is supposed to bring home that day. Then have your child check his/her backpack to make sure it is all in there.

This routine has always paid off because 9 times out of 10 my kids have had to run back into the school to get the books or homework sheet they had forgotten. Five minutes on the playground saved me countless trips back to the school after we got home to retrieve the missing pieces of homework and believe me when we forgot to check, we did have to go back.

Give your child a break:

Kids are tired when they first get home from school. They have been working hard all day so having them sit down again and do homework as soon as they get home might not produce the best results. Every child is different some children will need to have a run around break outside or some downtime maybe watching a quiet show or computer time for half an hour before they get into their homework. Other children will want to get started right away and get it done so they can do what they want later. Let your child help plan their evening so they can be the most productive with their time.

Make time for a Healthy Snack:

Making time in your child’s break for a healthy snack is so important. A healthy afterschool snack will rejuvenate your child and give them the energy needed to get started on their homework.  Sit together and have tea or hot chocolate and some healthy brain food snacks like fresh fruit, granola bars, mixed nuts or my kids favourite a grilled cheese sandwich. The time together will give you the opportunity to discuss your child’s day, any homework they have and together you can come up with a plan to get it finished.

Getting down to business The Homework Zone:

It helps to set your child up for success. Have a quiet area for them to study in and preferably at this age somewhere you are close by if they have any questions. The kitchen table was and the most popular spot in our home. I could make dinner and my kids could ask questions if they didn’t understand something. Make sure they have all the papers necessary to do the work in front of them before they start.

Review the instructions with your child:

Before starting their homework review the instructions with them so they are clear on what has to be done. Kids will work much faster knowing exactly what they are supposed to be doing than if they have to continually go back to the instructions and figure it out. This is especially important when tackling math homework. If you review the examples of the questions at the beginning of the chapter in their textbook before they start their math homework everything will be fresh in your child’s mind as they work through the problems. Teach them to focus on one subject at a time with a 5 minute mini break in between subjects so that they can re-energize themselves for the next subject.

Having trouble getting your child to study their spelling words? Try putting a little dry “Jello” powder mix on a plate or tray, spread it out and let them practice writing their words with their finger. Worked for my kids every time.

Get everything ready for the next day:

Once your child is finished their homework have them place it immediately into their backpack ready to go back to school the next day. Nothing will get forgotten at home and they will have it ready to hand into their teacher.

Remember Good study skills are an excellent practice for your child to learn now and will only benefit them in the long run. When they get to High School and have to study for exams they will thank you. The more study skills you can teach them now the better prepared they will be later on in life.

Take Your Children To The Garden!

Nothing Like A Beautiful Garden To Bring Joy Into Your Day!

Nothing Like A Beautiful Garden To Bring Joy Into Your Day!

Summer gardens are so beautiful and they have amazing energy. They are alive with bug adventures and blooming flowers. Ever felt a little down and then wandered into a garden with all the flowers blooming, butterflies dancing, and a cool breeze to sweep away any sad feelings. It is hard to have any emotion other than joy when you are in a pretty garden. One time I was walking down the street and came up to a flower store with a beautiful display of fresh cut bouquets. Just standing in front of the display lifted my spirits.

When my children were little and fussing I would sometimes pick them up and take them outside. We would walk around checking out the flowers and trees in our yard and area. They would stop crying and look around calming down almost instantly. Children live so in the moment they can shift moods very quickly. They would totally forget about what was bothering them and move into enjoying the nature around them. Nature is a great mood booster.

It doesn’t matter if you live in an apartment, townhouse or house there are gardens everywhere in every city. Take a walk around the block to enjoy the neighbour’s gardens or go visit local parks & gardens in your area as much as possible. It is always a relaxing outing and everyone will feel energized and happier afterwards.

Children Are Our Energy Sponges…

Kids Are So Innocent, What We Feel They Will Feel!

Kids Are So Innocent, Emotions We Feel, They Will Feel!

Ever wonder why when you are having a bad day your child/children seem to do everything they can to make it worse! I used to wonder if my kids acted up on purpose just to make my day go down hill. Then I started to pay attention to when they were misbehaving and how I was feeling at that moment. I noticed that when I was feeling angry or impatient about something my children behaved in the same way I felt. If I woke up in a bad mood, I would usually have a bad morning with my kids. When I was relaxed and happy my children were happier and didn’t act out or fight either. Maybe it wasn’t my children making my bad day worse at all. Maybe it was my own frustrated energy rubbing off on my children and making their day awful.

People are so in tune to energy that sometimes we pick up other peoples energy and then all of a sudden we feel different ourselves. We maybe having a totally great day then walk by someone who is feeling anxious or fearful and all of a sudden our mood changes and we are not even sure where it came from. Think about it, have you ever walked into a room and knew people had been arguing before you entered. I have and I could feel the tension in the room like it was solid matter. It can go the other way too like being around someone who is infectiously happy and everyone around them is happy too? We feel their energy and share it without even knowing we are doing it.

Once I started observing my energy changes I became more aware of my children’s. Children are so in tune with their environment they are like energy sponges. They feel our feelings coming from us and because they don’t know the difference they believe it is their own feelings. Our frustration makes them feel frustrated our joy makes them feel joyful. Over time I noticed that when I was having a good day my whole family had a good day. My kids hardly fought and everyone was much happier. Then too, when I had a bad day my frustration seemed to drag everyone’s energy down and my whole family was cranky. In being aware of my energy I was able to catch myself when I was feeling irritable and do something about it. Sometimes I would go for a walk with the kids outside to the park or if we were having a really bad day we would all do some down time together and meditate or rest. Everyone always felt better after a good nap.

So next time you’re having a bad day, try being aware of where your energy is at and do something to shift it into a more peaceful, happier place. If we take note of how we are feeling when our kids are misbehaving or cranky we can try doing something to help everyone feel better. Taking some quiet time to meditate, reading funny stories or having a family nap will help. Going outside for a walk in the forest or to a park in your neighbourhood will help because we pick up the good energy from the nature around us. Even sitting down and watching a funny show together can change the energy of the day to be happier and more joyful. One person’s awareness can make all of the difference in the world to the outcome of  your day.

Is Your Child Afraid of Going To The Dentist?

How Does Your Child Feel About Going To The Dentist?

How Does Your Child Feel About Going To The Dentist?

Is your child afraid of the dentist? Ever wonder how you could help make the trip to the dentist a little easier on them and on you? Let us start with how you feel yourself about going to the dentist? What are you thinking and what emotions do you have as you drive your child to the dentist? Maybe you are nervous or anxious about dentists yourself and worried how your child will react to getting their teeth cleaned or cavity filled. A totally normal reaction by the way, as we all know the dentist’s office is hardly anyone’s favourite place to be. Our children are energy sponges though, and whatever feelings we have when we are with them they experience those same feelings themselves even though they may not know where the feelings are coming from. They hear our anxiousness in our voice and feel it in our energy and become anxious and nervous themselves without even knowing why. Most dentists will not even let the parents in the back with their child because the child is more likely to act up with the parent there than when they are not. It is also worth it to take the time and find a dentist who is really good with children because they will know how to help your child feel comfortable during the appointment.

When my children were little and had to go to the dentist I always took the three of them together to save multiple trips back and forth. I simply told them it was time to get their teeth cleaned and if they were good the dentist would let them pick out a toy and give them a goodie bag at the end. I never spoke to them about what would happen, other than the dentist was going to use her special polisher and they would come out with nice clean teeth and a goody bag. Even though I wasn’t fond of the dentist either I would focus my energy on staying calm, keep my thoughts on visualizing my children having a good experience at the dentist and seeing them being peaceful and happy to go.

The dentist loved my kids. The three of them would walk into her reception area and fight over who could go first. I think it was a refreshing experience for her, one that didn’t happen very often. Of course it helped that she was a very good dentist and excellent with children. She also had a fun selection of toys for the kids to choose from so they couldn’t wait to finish their appointment to choose one.

Even when they had a cavity they loved to go. My oldest daughter Marie was 13 years old before she realized the dentist actually used a needle to freeze her mouth before drilling on her tooth. She thought it was just a little cotton swab with the freezing on it numbing her tooth all that time. The dentist used numbing gel on a cotton swab to numb the gum where the needle would go. Then she used her “Magic Wand” to inject the freezing into Marie’s mouth. The Wand as it is officially called is a computer guided anesthesia system. A small needle, easily hidden by a dentist finger is connected to an injection system to pulse the freezing into the gum so the patient barely feels it. The needle was so tiny Marie did not even realize she was being given one. I even requested the “Magic Wand” for myself and you really do not feel it as much as the needle. If your dentist doesn’t have one I would highly recommend suggesting they get one for their patients comfort.

We would always finish a trip to the dentist with a special treat. Sometimes I would take them to the Dollar Store near by and they could pick out a small toy or they could choose their favourite treat at the Starbucks to eat later. The treat gave them something to look forward to afterwards and ended the visit with some mommy time, something every child enjoys!

When Should I Get My Child a Cell Phone?

Cell Phones - When Is Enough, Enough!

Cell Phones – When Is Enough, Enough!

When is the right time to get my child a cell phone? I am a big advocate of having an emergency cell phone for my child. However, I am puzzled when I see teenagers and younger children who no longer seem to communicate other than with their cell phones. I have seen groups of teenagers walking or hanging out together and no one is talking, they all have their heads bent over their phones. What has social communication come to if everyone ignores one another when they get together and just play with their phones? Why even get together when they could just sit at home and text each other? Coming from an age where we didn’t even have cordless phones never mind cell phones I just don’t get it! (Not that I am dating myself here and from my parents point of view they probably wished they could have given me a cell phone sometimes)

I totally understand the parents reasoning for getting their child a cell phone. It is important for us to know if our child was ever in need of help they could call someone and get it. With all the cell phones around these days it can be very difficult to even find a pay phone so sending them with quarters would be a waste of time.

When my kids were 9 or 10 and were starting to walk to school on their own with their friends I felt they needed some means of communicating with me, especially if there was a problem on the way home or if they wanted to go over to a friends house after school. I searched around for a cell phone plan that would be economically reasonable and would not encourage them to be on the phone all the time.

I discovered that 7eleven has a speak out, pay as you go phone plan and in it you can buy a phone for $50 then buy $25 worth of minutes and they last for 365 days. So, for roughly $25 a year my kids had an emergency phone that they could use to communicate when needed. The phones were nothing like the tablet phones out now so it was more challenging to text. Texting also cost .30 cents each so they were discouraged from texting or making a lot of phone calls. Our deal was if they went through the minutes too fast they had to contribute to the next purchase of minutes for the phone. What the 7eleven phone did provide was an emergency phone when needed and it allowed me to get in touch with them if there was an urgent message.

People miss out on a lot in life when they walk around glued to their cell phone. Face to face Communication with others becomes a challenge. There is a great YouTube video on a Poem called “Look Up” by Gary Turk that sends an important message to everyone on how cell phones are affecting our lives. I would highly recommend checking it out especially if you or your child are already addicted to a cell phone. Is it not better to teach our children to communicate face to face rather than text to text? I believe it is and the face to face social skills they learn today will better equip them for the real world when looking for their first job or going to a college interview.

Teach Your Child To Be Themselves!

Be Yourself! Following The Crowd Never Makes You Happy!

Be Yourself! Following The Crowd Never Makes You Happy!

Every child wonders to themselves Who Am I? Parents, teachers, friends, coaches, grandparents and everyone they come in contact with all have different expectations of them. No wonder children are confused as to who they should be at different times with different people. They switch masks from the good boy or girl for the teacher, sometimes the scared or hurt child on the playground when other kids pick on them, the tough kid among their peers putting on a brave face, the joker making their friends laugh, or the perfect player for their coach doing their best for the team. Not to mention all the roles we as parents expect them to play at home; brother, sister, responsible, hardworking, studious, well behaved child. No wonder kids have a tough time figuring out who they really are.

Being with their peers can be the most challenging place for them to be themselves. Peers sometimes expect certain behaviours from them in order to fit in with the group. If those behaviours feel wrong or uncomfortable it takes a strong person to say “No, I don’t need to behave like you to be accepted”. I have always taught my kids to be their own best friend. If a friend of theirs is not treating them with respect then they are not a true friend.

Grades 3-4 can be challenging social years in school, especially for girls. When my daughter Anya was in grade 4 a couple of the popular girls in her class started playing a mean game. It was the “Friend today, Ditch you tomorrow” game with some of the other girls in the class. The “popular” girls would talk about who they were going to be friends with and who they were going to ditch at recess, lunch or walking home that day. The game would rotate among the group of girls changing each day as to who could play and who couldn’t. For the girls who really wanted to fit in it was a very hurtful game.

One day when Anya went out to play at recess they would tell her, “we are ditching you today so you can’t play with us”. The next day they would play with her like nothing had happened. My daughter being the strong-willed child she is did not tolerate the treatment for long. As she was walking home from school one day with her best friend of many years her friend told her, “I am sorry Anya I am ditching you as a friend to be with the more popular girls”. Anya was so hurt and fed up with the whole game she said to her friend, “You know what, fine, I’m not going to hang out with you anymore!” then she walked away. We talked about it when she got home and I was so proud of her for standing her ground. She had another friend she could hang out with and they respected each other. She would not tolerate any more cruel games. A couple of weeks later her x-best friend came back to her and wanted to be her friend again because the popular girls had ditched her. Anya stood her ground and told the girl she had hurt her too many times and Anya was not willing to let it happen again. After that Anya was always polite to her but would no longer consider her a good friend.

Anya and her friend who was also tired of the ditching game started their own group where everyone was accepted for who they were as long as they were respectful with the others. If girls joined them for lunch or recess and we’re disrespectful Anya and her friend would walk away. They were still nice to everyone they just didn’t tolerate disrespectful behavior. By her grade 6 year Anya and her friend’s group had grown into a cluster of 6 to 8 girls who would hang out every lunch and recess and were always respectful to each other. They would play card games or on the playground including anyone who wanted to join and have fun. They didn’t care what anybody else thought of them they were just happy to be themselves.

Teach your child it is always better to play alone than to hang around other children who do not respect them or expect them to do things they feel uncomfortable doing. There are lots of nice kids out there just like them who would love someone to play with. If our children expect respect from their friends they will get it. They will also have the courage to stand up to a friend and say “No” when they don’t feel comfortable doing something their friend wants them to do.   ©

 

Truth or Lie – What Do I Do When My Child Lies To Me?

For A Child Telling The Truth Can Be Hard ...How Can We Make It Easier?

For A Child Telling The Truth Can Be Hard…How Can We Make It Easier?

Has your ever child lied to you? Honesty is important in all relationships. How can we encourage our children to tell the truth even in situations where they might get into trouble by being honest?

Being honest is tough for children. Think about it from their perspective, if you just did something you know will get you into trouble and now this big angry adult is asking you to tell the truth about it, what do you do? Lie and say someone else did it or tell the truth and face the consequences from the angry adult? Hmmmmm, in the mind of a young child I think the natural instinct would be to protect themselves with a fib and keep out of trouble. Where does that leave the parents? Angry or disappointed their child won’t tell them the truth and unable to trust what the child tells them next time something happens. Not the best basis for a parent-child relationship especially as their little girl or boy eventually grows up to be a teenager.

Everyone will try to fib their way out of a situation or embarrassing moment at one point in their lives. Why would it be any different for a child? Whether it is over accidentally breaking something, playing sick to get out of school, getting into something they shouldn’t have (Mommy’s makeup or Daddy’s tools), or who started the fight that led to the lamp shattering on the floor. It is scary for a child to admit their part in what really happened because they fear the consequences from mom and dad.

When my kids were little I used to read them the story “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” by Aesop (an ancient Greek story teller) where a boy herding sheep keeps crying for help about a wolf attack on the sheep until finally no one believes him when there is a real attack on the sheep. I found videos with similar stories to let them watch (now there are even videos online). Afterwards we would discuss the importance of telling the truth and how it was more important to mommy and daddy that they tell the truth than what actually happened.

When a situation would come up be it something broken or a mess mysteriously appearing out of nowhere I would call the kids in and we would talk about what happened. I always made it clear to them that if they told me the truth right away the consequences would be less severe than if I had to find it out on my own. If I caught them in the lie everything tripled. Time out or cool-down time was longer, privileges were taken away and they would have to do an extra long service for me to make up for betraying my trust on top of paying for whatever was broken. If they could look me in the eye and tell me upfront what happened the cool-down time would be waived or shorter, no privileges would be taken away and no service would be required. They may still have to contribute to replace what was broken depending on the circumstances but because they were brave enough to tell me the truth the consequences would be much less severe.

My kids very quickly learned that it was easier and less effort to be honest with me than to spend their time making up for lying to me. Knowing they wouldn’t get into as much trouble if they told the truth has built a trust between us over the years. As my children became teenagers it has kept the communication open between us so when more difficult challenges came up like skipping school or getting into trouble with a friend they knew I would hear them out before judging and be more understanding because they were honest with me.

Discipline and Consequences – Sibling Squabbles

With No Toys There Will Be Nothing to Throw!

Consequence – With No Toys There Will Be Nothing to Throw!

So, now we have established the difference between punishment and discipline let’s talk about discipline and consequences. Discipline is when we correct our child’s behaviour. It sometimes involves yelling (no one is perfect), timeouts or cool down time as I like to call them, taking privileges away or grounding our child from going outside or using electronics. Some methods of discipline work and some don’t. A Consequence in the dictionary is something that logically follows an action. Consequences with children can be a blend of discipline as well as letting the natural consequences of a child’s behaviour affect them providing they are not doing something that would seriously hurt themselves or others physically. For example if a child throws their toys in anger the consequence could be to take all their toys, bag them in a large garbage bag and put them away for a few days. No toys, nothing to throw!

Anger is a very difficult emotion to control especially for a child. When my daughter Anya was little she had a very hard time controlling her anger. One time in her temper she broke one of her brother’s toys, hit him, then ripped out all the linen in our linen closet throwing towels and sheets everywhere. She was put in her room for cool down time, given a big pillow and told it was ok to hit pillows but not people. She cried for about 10 minutes and punched the pillow angrily then I went in to talk to her.

Sometimes a hug is the best medicine so I sat down beside her and held her until she stopped crying. We talked about what had happened, what she did, what she could do differently next time and what she could do to help make everything better. Her brother was partly at fault too as the instigator of the fight but Anya was the one that over reacted. It was not ok to hit someone or to throw the linen around and break a toy.

The consequence of her actions was, she had to pick up and fold all of the towels and sheets she had thrown around (we put a sliding lock on the linen door to prevent future incidents). The toy she broke cost $10 so she had to pay to replace it out of her savings. Anya and her brother had done a disservice to each other in choosing to fight so, they apologized and had to do each other a service of folding the others laundry to make it right. (The service could be anything from helping pick up each other’s toys, or doing a chore for one another.) Then because it had taken half an hour of my time to sort everything out they both had to do me the service of helping to complete the chore I had been working on and fold some of my laundry.

As with any discipline or consequence in order to work there has to be follow through so neither child was allowed to do anything else (TV or play) before the service to each other and me was complete. Consequences may take more time but they are worth it. Doing services for each other is a great tool. It can be any service from cleaning toilets to scrubbing tile grout with an old toothbrush, laundry is a good one for young children. The child who overreacted feels better in the end because even though they hurt someone they did something to make it up to the person. The child who was hurt feels better because although they were hurt, their sibling did a chore for them to make up for it.  Both children will hopefully think twice before having another fight and temper tantrum again because neither of them want to do their siblings chores as well as their own and clean up the mess they made. I stress the word hopefully because we all know kids will be kids. Just think how many chores you can get done with all those services. 🙂

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Disclaimer

The information on this site is based on the personal experience of the author. There are no guarantees of a perfect method to raise a child, it is all trial and error. Please feel free to try some of the suggestions on this site and let me know how you make out. If you would like to use any words or pictures from this blog please contact me for written permission. © 2013

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