How To Give Kids Choices Without Giving Away Your Power!

Who Has Control Now??

Who Has Control Now??

Have you ever wondered who is in control you or your child? Children love having control. They have so many areas in their life where they have no control, when they find an opportunity to take it they will go for it every time. Their favorite person(s) to control is their parent(s)! They master it from a very young age. Even as babies they innocently use different cries to get our attention. Then as they grow into toddlers they use tears, temper tantrums and relentless pleading or whining to get what they want. It is like a tug of war and if we give in once they have won the battle and learned our breaking point which they will remember and use for a very long time. Giving a child choices in life gives them power and a bit of control without having them take over. As parents though it is good for us to learn how to offer our child choices to create win/ win situations instead of arguments and tears.

For instance, if you know you have to work the next day and your child needs to be in daycare by a certain time it might be good to offer the right choice to them. If you ask, “Do you want to go to Daycare tomorrow and play with your friends?” it gives them the power to control the situation and could be setting you up for a big argument. After all what do you do if your child says, “NO!!!!”? You could maybe stay home from work or spend half an hour convincing your child why they have to go to daycare. A better choice to offer could be, “Mommy has to work tomorrow and you get to go to Daycare, do you want to leave at 7:30 am so you can play with your friends longer or 8:00am so you can sleep in a bit more? This is win/win it doesn’t question the fact they have to go to daycare, it allows them to control what time they go or maybe even suggest a time in between so they get a bit extra play time and some extra sleep-in time.

When my kids were little I always found bedtime a challenge. There were so many areas that could start conflict, bath time, snack, teeth brushing, and story time so coming up with some good choices helped the night go a bit smoother and more peaceful.

If bed time was at 8:30pm I would always start at least a half an hour or an hour before when possible depending if it was bath night.

  •  On Bath Nights – “Do you want to take your bath before or after your bedtime snack?”
  • Snack time – Offer a choice between two different healthy snacks. (if my kids got what they wanted it would probably have been Ice Cream)
  • Teeth Brushing – “Time to brush your teeth, do you want to use mint or berry flavored toothpaste?” When my son was two he hated brushing his teeth and would refuse to open his mouth so he also got the choice of brushing the easy way (standing nicely with his mouth open) or the hard way (flipped over on the floor, pinned and rib tickled to get his mouth open) Sounds a little harsh but the job had to get done one way or the other. Funny enough being a boy he loved the hard way getting flipped and tickled was his favorite and we always ended up in a giggle fest afterwards.
  • Pajama time – “Do you want to wear the red or the blue pajamas tonight?” (this one works with a couple of outfits for getting dressed in the morning too)
  • Story time – Would always come last after they were ready and settled in bed. How long they took to get ready for bed would determine the length of story. If we only had 5 minutes before bedtime the story would have to be very short. If they were speedy that night and had 20 minutes left they could pick a longer book. If we didn’t have a favorite book we were reading that night I found it easier to narrow the choice for them and lay out 2-4 books to choose from for their story.

Choices work great in every situation from crossing the street – “You can hold my right hand or my left hand” to leaving a favorite activity – “We can leave now or in 5 minutes?” The key is to come up with choices that meet the end goal and one where both the parent and the child feel good about themselves afterwards.

Start each day with a positive note!

A Positive Message is a Great way to Start the Day!

A Positive Message is a Great way to Start the Day!

Wouldn’t it be nice to start each day with a loving note from someone? Writing fun, positive notes to your child can help them start their day in a positive way. It could be a simple “I love you”, a fun “Happy ‘Whatever’ Day!” or any words of wisdom you felt your child needed to hear.

When my children were little I bought them each a white erase board for their room. At night when they were asleep I would slip quietly into their room and write a message on their board. They loved receiving a note from their mom each day.  It would usually be a positive message to help start their day off right or a behavior reminder note like “Peace starts with me not my Sister” for them to think about throughout the day. If they were struggling with an issue at school or having trouble with a friend I would write them some tips that might help.  Sometimes I would write a list of things they needed to do that day on the side of the board as a gentle reminder of what was coming up. When they were learning to read it was extra reading practice for them too. I would ask them questions so they could write a reply to me and vice versa. Lots of times they would surprise me by leaving a message for me after I had tucked them in. It became a fun tool for communication and helped start each day off with a good feeling inside. 🙂

Does your child have Trouble sleeping? Teach your child to Meditate!

Meditation Stories can help sooth a child to sleep.

Meditation Stories can help sooth a child to sleep.

It’s tough for kids to get to sleep sometimes and if a child has just had a nightmare it can take a long time for them settle again. When my children were little and had trouble getting to sleep after our nightly routine of stories and prayers I would talk them through a guided meditation.

A guided meditation is like a mind journey or a story to help settle their mind and relax their body for sleep. There is a great book called “Starbright Meditations for Children” by Maureen Garth that gives some excellent guided meditations for children. Maureen has written step by step meditations with different stories to choose from so there is something to catch the interest of any young child.

I made up my own guided meditations for my children loosely based on the “Starbright” books.  First I would say goodnight to them and remind them to keep their eyes closed so when I was finished telling them the “story” they could play in it until they drifted off to sleep.

Then, in a soft voice I would say, “Close your eyes, take a deep breath and let it out slowly feeling your body relax into your bed. Take another deep breath and visualize a beautiful white light coming in through the top of your head and slowly working its way down through your body, through your mind releasing all your thoughts into the universe to be taken care of. Another breath and the white light moves into your face and chest then into your tummy area releasing all your tight muscles and stress. Another breath and you feel the white light flowing down your legs, arms and out your feet into the earth releasing the remaining stress in your body and continuing to flow freely from the top of your head to your toes soothing and relaxing your body.”

Then I start their story, “Imagine walking down a beautiful garden path until you come up to a golden gate. Just outside the gate is a great gentle tree with wonderful branches and leaves called the Grandfather Worry Tree (pg 20). You can give anything that bothered you about your day or anything you are afraid of to the Grandfather Worry tree and he will take care of it for you so you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Now I want you to hang up all your troubles on the tree.” (I give them a couple of seconds pause before I continue), “Now slowly push open the garden gate and walk into a beautiful garden, there are flowers of every colour and butterflies flitting everywhere. Just inside the gate is your glowing Tree of Gratitude. I want you to decorate your tree with all the things in your life you are grateful for.” (I help them out by listing off a couple of things like their wonderful family, toys, friends, brother or sister etc. Then I pause for a second so they can add their own list in their minds) “Maybe step back and bask in the light of your Gratitude tree and all the wonderful things in your life. Now I want you to walk down a short path and as you come to the end it opens up into ____________________.

I would fill in the blank with a journey of whatever my child loved to do, sometimes we went to Barbie land, Fairy land, Lego Land, Mermaid land  the list could go on and on. All of my children loved going to Chocolate Land where everything was made of chocolate from mountains and rivers to flowers and butterflies. They would go swimming in the chocolate-rivers, pick the flowers to eat and play with chocolate animals.  I would take them into the story and they could invite a friend to share in their journey if they wanted company. Then I would tell them to enjoy their time in Chocolate land or wherever they were, whisper goodnight and quietly leave the room.

You can make the meditation as long or as short as you like. It would usually take me from 6-8 minutes to finish one. I did not have to do one every night but it sure helped when one of my children woke up with a nightmare and couldn’t get back to sleep or was so wound up from their day they wouldn’t settle down at night.

Fear where does it come from?

Which thoughts will we choose?

Which thoughts will we choose?

Fear is all in our heads. It is our Thoughts!  We only start feeling afraid after we have started thinking of something we are afraid of. For children with their vivid imaginations fearful thoughts can seem very real especially at night. A short prayer can help them release their fears and feel safe while alone in their beds.

Growing up I attended Unity Church where I learned about the power of our thoughts and about the “Prayer for Protection” by James Dillet Freeman. My mom would say it with me at bed time and it helped me to feel protected if I had fearful or negative thoughts and to focus on something positive while I drifted off to sleep. When I had children of my own we included the prayer as part of our bedtime routine to help them feel protected too. The prayer is as follows….

Prayer for Protection

The light of God surrounds us;

The love of God enfolds us;

The power of God protects us;

The presence of God watches over us;

Wherever we are god is and all is well.

by James Dillet Freeman

To me a prayer is one way to take what is troubling me and pass it over to something or someone bigger than myself to deal with. When using this prayer you could replace the word God with the higher power you or your child believe in and it would be just as powerful. My children always felt they were being taken care of and were safe when we said this prayer together as I tucked them in at night. They liked to end the prayer by putting a box of white light all around their bodies, their bed and their house to heal and protect them throughout the night. White light is the universal energy for healing and protection, my children would visualize it as an imaginary warm blanket of white energy around their body keeping them safe throughout the night. My son who loved to stall bedtime as much as possible would put white light around everyone and everything he knew so we eventually shortened his list to include the whole world. He liked the idea that while he was sleeping everyone in the world was safe too.

Bedtime Routine: Children Settle Faster and Feel Safer When They Have One!

A Good Bedtime Routine helps your Child look Forward to Going to Sleep.

A good bedtime routine helps your child look forward to going to sleep.

Bedtime can be a challenge for young children. They have spent their day running, playing and doing exciting high energy things and then we expect them to just turn off and go to sleep? Good luck Mom and Dad 🙂 A lot of children’s night time fears come from daytime stimulation. Images from TV shows or video games stay with a child especially if they were scary images. Turning off all electronics at least one hour or more before bed can give a child a break from stimulation and start to prepare them for sleep.

When my kids were little it helped to have a relaxing bedtime routine to settle them down for the night. It usually took from 10 to 45 minutes depending on how much time we had at the end of our night. If it was still light outside I would first go around the house and close all the blinds so it felt like night inside. It is harder to go to sleep when the sun is still shining in their bedroom window. (I would highly recommend black out blinds in your child’s room for those long summer nights).

Hungry kids have a hard time falling asleep because all they can think of is food. We would start our routine with a light snack my kids were always hungry around bedtime, a sliced apple, banana, piece of toast or small bowl of yogurt or cereal would fill them up till morning. If we were out and late coming home I would bring a snack so they could eat it on the way home and save some time. Bath time could be a relaxing, playtime however; if we were short on time it could be a quick in-out bath or even left to the next day. Pajamas, teeth brushed, potty break and we were ready for story time.

Story time is a great way to relax for bed. Nothing like a snuggle with mom or dad on the couch and a good book to calm an excited child and settle their mind for sleep. (Just reading the story puts me to sleep.) If we were running late I would save story time to the end and make up a story for them while we had our 5 minute tuck in time in bed. My son loved my made up stories and I could usually think up some lesson that related to his day be it sharing more with his friends or being nice to others.

Tuck in time was my children’s favorite part. I would tuck in the blankets snug all around them and lay with them for a few minutes saying our nightly prayer, talking quietly about their day, telling stories or giving them a back massage. Sometimes if they’d had an upsetting day and could not settle I would walk them through a mini meditation at the end to help them let go of their thoughts from the day and relax. Then I would turn on their night light or leave the door slightly open with the hall light on and place a couple of picture books on their bed they could look at if needed until they went to sleep.

Children love routine, it helps them feel safe. However, it is also good to keep it flexible so they don’t get too stuck with the same thing and then have trouble settling for someone else like the babysitter when mom and dad finally get a date night.

The Dark, my child is afraid how can I help?

Is your child afraid of the Dark?

Is your child afraid of the Dark?

The Dark

The Dark! The Dark! I’m afraid of the night!

Mommy please, leave the door open for light.

I see so many things in the dark.

Images and shapes

On the bedroom drapes.

Spiders floating down,

All around my night-gown.

I feel them crawling on my skin,

“AcK!”  One just landed on my chin.

Mommy their web is all over my bed!

Please, may I sleep in yours instead?

Oh why must it be so dark?

Why can’t I have my sister’s spark?

Now she, She’s not afraid of the dark.

She loves the door closed,

As she sleeps in bed posed,

Like a baby in the womb.

NOT ME! I’m in a Tomb!

My sister sees fairies.

Their sparkling light

Must dispel her fright.

For it is nowhere near,

As great as mine I fear.

The Dark, The Dark

Please let it be day

So all my fears will go away.

                     By Karen ©2005

The dark can be a very scary place for children. Their imaginations run wild and can create all kinds of creepy visions in their darkened rooms. Then because the last thing we think about can sometimes influence our dreams they may have nightmares like the one in the poem. One night my oldest daughter Maria who was terrified of spiders, came running into our room whispering frantically, “Mommy, Mommy I am so scared. There are spiders all around my bed! Please make them go away!”  I went into her room and she fearfully pointed to her top bunk and the spiders she could still see surrounding her bed. I couldn’t see anything but it was very real for her.

I opened her window and made sweeping motions to sweep them all out the window while she pointed to the ones I missed until she could not see any more spiders. We said a quick prayer to keep them away, then made her a cozy spot on the floor beside my bed for her to sleep as there was no way she was going to go back to sleep in her bed in case we missed one.

Sometimes the best place for a child to feel safe is right beside their mommy. I used to keep the kids old baby blankets in the hall closet so when one of them had a nightmare we could make a quick, cozy bed for them beside mine and they could sleep there the rest of the night. It was much more comfortable for them than me trying to squeeze into their bed and my bed was too small to fit three especially when one was a squirming child.

Over the years I have come up with a number of ways to help my children feel safe. A lot of it is mind over matter. When a child is scared they need a positive or happy thought to replace the fearful one. Over the next few weeks I would like to share some of the methods I have tried when my children have been scared. If you have some suggestions that have worked for you and would like to share them please feel free to leave a comment. I always found the more ideas the better as what works with one child may not work with others.

Check It Out!

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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