Thursday, December 31, 2009

What kind of child do you want?

Parents often ask me questions about their children and the "misbehavior" that they are having a hard time dealing with. What they laugh off in private becomes of concern when it takes place in public. Here are the keys to getting what you want.
1. Be a role model of what you want from your children in thought, action and speech. Don't be surprised when they act and talk like you.
2. Take advantage of the teachable moments, but do not think there is a lesson in everything. How would you have liked it if your every action had been an opportuntity for a lesson from your parents. This generation of parents is seeking to counter every ill of society and children are the victims.
3. Do things as a family. Figure out what you and your family value. Is it travel, sports, reading, swimming, service, etc. My children have been in about 40 of the 50 states. Pretty cool.
4. When you want to change a behavior look deeper than the obvious. Watch, listen and think.
Kids are only as good or bad as you raise them.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hair pop or pants pop?

My son reminded me yesterday about the question, "Hair pop or pants pop?"

Many years ago at what was I think one of my children's birthday party I had a 2-liter of 7-up and a 2-liter of orange and when I asked what they wanted they all said orange. I was not sure if I would have enough of just the one kind so I rephrased the question. I as you know have orange (red) hair and one of the kids was wearing green pants. So I asked, "Who wants hair pop and who wants pants pop," (tieing the color of the bottle to something else). Like I expected the kids adjusted their choices and about half wanted hair and about half wanted pants. Ever since then my kids have continued to call them that. With a little creativity parents can head off potential problem situations.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Children with special needs

When dealing with children with special needs remember two things. 1. They are kids first and they will have many characteristics of all children for or about their age. 2. Look to their abilities and not to their disabilities. Go to and click on the link to watch the video. I promise you it will give you a whole new view on working with children with special needs.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

How to deal with children after turning 18

A parent recently asked me about dealing with her 18 year daughter who still lives at home but is in her freshman year in college. The daughter likes to be out with her friends and may give her mom a list of 5 different places she "may" go after work. her daughter worked from 8 - 5 then went to a friends house, then out to dinner, then over to another house to watch a movie and then over to another friends house for a late night (10:30 pm) ugly sweater contest and holiday party. At 11:15 the mom gets a text on her phone that says, "Have not left yet, will be really pregnant." The mom tries to get a response and no one answers. She has no phone numbers for any of her daughter's friends. She asked what I would do.

Turns out her daughter and her friends were watching some cable show about women who give birth that didn't know they wee pregnant and she was texting at the same time. She had meant to write "Have not left yet, will be really late."

And teens wonder why parents worry. I said I would have texted back, "don't worry, I called the and they are on the way."

Monday, December 21, 2009

The child just keeps on crying and will not stop

What do you do with a young child who just keeps crying and you can not get them to stop? This was a recent question and I was around at the time so I could see the whole part rather than just taking the mother's word for it. The mom was stressed and in a hurry as she whisked him from place to place as she tried to get everything on her list done. he was stressed, tired, it was past his morning snack and normally he would have been resting a little bit before a quick nap. Instead he was not home or at his child care so the environment was different as well. Surprise, he was cranky. He would start to quiet down a little bit until him mom looked at him and then he would break out in more loud crying. Interestingly he was having a hard time manufacturing tears. That is a good sign that he is more mad than anything else. After 15 minutes of battle, mom pulled out his blanket and laid it out, gave him a soft toy, talked quietly with him for a minute and gave him a cookie. Before the cookie was 1/2 gone he was a sleep and she had 30 minutes that were uninterrupted to finish what she needed. He was being what he was supposed to be. A two year old.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Interesting thinking

Student: I learned so much about the poor outcomes for couples that live together before getting married and when you said that students typically say, "that is all true except for my case, I agree. I live with my boyfriend and we are different."

Teacher: So what made you choose living together over marriage?

Student: Because I am a good Catholic girl and my mother would rather see me living with someone than getting divorced. You just can't imagine how hard that would be, to tell my mom that my marriage didn't work out. This way if we break up she will be okay with it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Playing Keep-a-way with two year olds

A friend asked the other day about how to handle t when her two year old takes something from her younger sister and then when told to give it back seems to do exactly the opposite of whatever she was told to do. Surprise!

Here are some basic facts for dealing with two year olds.
If you say "No" or "Don't" then all they hear is stop. But not stop doing that. They hear stop moving or freeze. So they wil stop moving for a brief time and then they will go right ahead with what they wee doing because they don't have the ability to think in terms of reversing their actions. When you say something simple like, "Don't take the baby's toy." it is asking the child to understand that don't means something like the reverse of what follows. Any word that they don't know what to do with they lop off of the sentence ans so what youa re left with is, "Take the baby's toy."

Another thing is that they love it when you play games with them and they like the interaction. The problem is that they don't know how to initiate the interactions. So if they take something and it illicits a response from you, they think, "oh, I got their attention, I will now do >>>> and we will be playing." This is just a part of development so you have to consider where they are and work them gradually into your world.

Two-year-olds also get centered on objects. So once it is in their hand they have a hard time separating what you are saying from what they are wanting. This means you have to physically get engaged and not just verbally. It also helps if you help them to do a positive thing like handing them something to give to the younger child. Model what you want rather than demanding what you don't want to stop.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Moody Teenagers

Ever been around a moody teen? Think back to when you were that age or your children were that age. Share what it took to snap you out of it.

Parents laughing about children's misdeeds

Often when children go astray it is because of a lifetime of parents and relatives laughing off inappropriate behavior. "Watch thing, he is so cute when he hits his brother." "Look at my little man, 6 years old and he has his first tatoo." "Church is boring son, let's go sit in the car." "Go sneak me a cookie and don't let your mother catch you."

Sometimes it is from watching parents repeatedly do something that crosses the line. "No officer, I thought I was going the speed limit." "Put your snacks into your coat and walk in the theater holding them so they don't fall. No one will ever know." "Go ask them for another and tell them you didn't get the first one."

Recently I was at a meeting where a woman said that entering the country illegally is no bigger than driving 5 miles over the speed limit. It was technically probably not right but the greater injustice would be if we didn't let in anyone who wanted to be here. Besides, it is only illegal if you get caught. Maybe it is time to go back to read D&C 134.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Say you are "sorry"

Say you are sorry. Ever hear those words? Parents often tell their children to say they are sorry when they do something "wrong." The only trouble is that as hard as it is initially for children to say them is inversely related to how much they mean them. In fact as it gets easy to say them children end up meaning them less. Parents need to keep in mind the basic principles of repentance. Can you say - Restitution! Saying "I am sorry" is not restitution. In fact, children's aggressive behavior actually increases if they learn that saying "I'm sorry," is a get out of jail free card. Keep thinking of what your child can do to make restitution and if that includes saying "I'm sorry," along with doing something else then it is to be encouraged. Keep in mind that children are concrete learners and they need to do something for it to mean anything.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What age to send children to kindergarten

This might seem like an easy question but for parents it is one that they have to consider depending on where they live. More and more middle class and upper class parents are keeping their children out of schools until their child is older. The rationale is that 1. their child will be one year or more older than their peers so they will be one year more mature and compete at a higher level for scholarships and academic honors. 2. their child will be more physically mature and compete at a higher level in athletics. 3. that they live in an area where everyone else is keeping their children out of school an extra year and so if they send their child at 5 years old their child will be significantly younger than the rest of their class.

On the other end in some communities are those parents that see the school as taking care of their child care concern because their are not parents at home and they have been paying for child care. School districts are even getting into the act by making the list of skills and knowledge tat children must have to enter kindergarten similar to what children knew and could do when leaving kindergarten.

It is important for parents to learn something about their school district. Ask about the age range and average age of children entering kindergarten for the prior three years. Talk with your child's preschool teacher (these days children who do not attend some kind of out of the home preschool experience are often found to be behind other children socially and in their independence and problem solving abilities). Look at a typical kindergarten readiness test and judge for yourself how you think they measure up.

The time to start thinking about these issues is in January and not in April or May as the testing starts. With most of the areas on the kindergarten readiness tests, time is not the answer. Children do not just get more knowledgeable and skilled just because they are more mature. There may be work for you all to do.