Mealtime: Take the Focus Off the Food

How many meals do you and your family enjoy together each week?

Being together at mealtime can be one of the threads that holds the fabric of a family together. Relationships, specifically family relationships, are at the core of a satisfying life, and sitting down together at least once a day with your family gives everyone time to relax, talk, listen, laugh and find love and understanding. Children have an opportunity to talk about what is on their mind and receive support from parents and siblings. Everyone can engage and the whole family can leave the table feeling satisfied and refreshed.

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What is mealtime like at your house? It can be enjoyable and satisfying or dreadful and stressful. Oftentimes, food can become the focus, and then a big battle ignites! We all want our kids to eat well, but we cannot make a child eat. I was reminded of this again –just today actually. Wilson is nearly one now and he politely pushed my hand away when I tried to feed him yogurt. He did not want yogurt. He wanted blueberries. Wise parents know that trying to force a child to eat can cause problems. Some parents resort to bribes or threats. It is best to focus on things we can control like what we prepare, how much to serve and when to serve it. Food should not become a battle. If they don’t want to eat, that’s their choice. Let them be in control of that. Be sure to let them know if they choose not to eat, that’s fine with you but there will be nothing more until the next meal. They will not starve!

Benefits of eating together as a family:

Better grades Higher self-esteem
Expanded vocabulary
Greater social skills
Fewer behavioral problems
Connection to the family unit

Guidelines to consider:

Unplug – turn off all electronics
Make good manners a part of the ritual
Be attentive and listen
Be respectful to each other
Keep loaded discussions for a later time
Let kids help with the cooking, setting the table and clearing the table
No nagging and lecturing

Make mealtimes a priority, yet be flexible with everyone’s schedule. The family meal doesn’t have to be dinner, and even an occasional family meal is better than none at all. If your family doesn’t currently do mealtimes together, why not consider working one or two into your schedule soon – despite soccer games, baseball practice, piano lessons, dance class, meetings and everything else that gets in the way of this important time.

Remember that food is not the only nourishment that kids get from dinner. They get emotional nourishment just by sitting together with their loved ones. This is good for the soul of family life.
 

There’s Always Hope,

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Need more help?  Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?”  While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services.  Click Here to learn more.

Ask Amy: How do I get my child to shake the shyness?

“My daughter is so shy. She hides behind me when people speak to her and when she gets invited to birthday parties; she is glued to my leg while everyone else is having a great time. I hate this for her and it is embarrassing for me. How can I help her?”

PWA Oct Ask Amy

Relax! If you’re anxious, you’re making things harder for her. She sounds like the kind of child that is slow to warm up. Give her time to scan the room to see who is there or check out the person that is speaking to her.

In your embarrassment and uncomfortableness, do not call her shy in an apologetic way. ”Oh, she’s just shy” is what many parents say. When kids are labeled, often they live up to their label.

Make sure you do not answer for her, or tell her what to say. Things like this embarrass a more introverted child.

Since kids learn best by playing, role-play different scenarios at home with her. It is always a good idea, before going out, to prepare her and set the expectation. “You don’t have to carry on a conversation, but I do expect you to make eye contact and say hello when someone speaks to you.”

Encourage her by pointing out how brave she was when she looked at Macy’s Mom and said hello.

There’s Always Hope,

PWA_sig_amy

 

 

 

Need more help?  Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?”  While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services.  Click Here to learn more.

Principle Vs. Rule Based Parenting

Kris’ Story

You’d think I would have been embarrassed when teachers and parents began questioning the way I was raising my children. In their defense, my approach to parenting isn’t something that many families are used to, and hearing that our house had “no rules” must have come as quite a shock. Let me backtrack a bit, and tell you the story of how my twins left everyone astonished – what some people may have perceived as a “shameful” parenting moment was truly one of my proudest…

PWA Oct Family Spotlight Kris Frodsham

When my twins began 5th grade, their Sunday School teacher was going over the class rules and asked the students, “How many of you have rules to follow at home”? All of the students raised their hands…except my twins. The teacher, doubting my twins’ absence of raised hands, questioned them directly, “Do you have rules at home”? Quite innocently, they replied “No, we don’t have rules, we have principles.”

When it comes to the question of how to best raise our children,
I think it’s important that we first look at what we are trying to achieve in the long-term.

I think every parent would agree that the desired end result is that our children are able to make good choices, leading them on a path of happiness and success. My four beautiful children are truly the joy of my life, but the gift of motherhood can also be hard. And not just physically, but mentally as well. I spent a lot of time thinking about how I could help my kids become the best that they can be. I finally concluded that children either follow or break rules. However, principles become a way of life, defining who we are. I didn’t want to control my children…I wanted to guide them.

Rules vs. Principles

Rules: Cause you to act or behave by someone else’s definition of what’s right and wrong.
Externally restrains you through authority and discipline, usually resulting in defiance.

Principles: Allow you to differentiate between what is good and bad based on who you are.
Internally inspires you to do the right thing.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned as a parent is how to mentor my kids independently. What I mean by this is that each child is their own special and unique person. In order to cement core values within them, you have to approach children as an individual. Core values (principles) are the basics of “right and wrong” and come naturally when children are taught based on who they are. I let my values be their guide, and through example, our family’s principles have become second nature to all of my children.

If ever something “wrong” came to the surface, I let natural consequences be their punishment. For example, one of my daughters cheated on a test. She was so determined to get a good grade, and somewhere along the way she made a poor choice. Because of her strong moral values, the natural consequence of guilt was enough for her, and she corrected her mistake with honesty.

Also, learning how to fail was an important lesson for my children. Robert F. Kennedy once said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” You see, the only real failure in life is failing to TRY. Most kids are taught only about winning and success, but nothing about what leads to these. Teaching my kids that failure is part of the foundation to triumph, that it’s simply a required step in achieving their goals, has proved invaluable to their success as adults.

I wanted my children to “shoot for the stars”
and think nothing less of themselves if they fell short.

I’ve found that in life, limits only sustain people. I knew that limitless potential required my children to be confident in themselves, and I wanted to give them stepping stones of responsibility and control at a pace that fit each child’s developmental stage. So I gave my kids choices…choices that they could handle…choices that would foster independence and confidence. Giving them the power to choose for themselves, was like planting the seed of self- reliance and confidence.

Empowerment gives us such great satisfaction. It allows us to feel like we can conquer anything, and more importantly, that we (not others) have the power to define our lives.

Every parenting technique is different, as well as every child. In my experience, principle based parenting worked for my children. I never worried about them blindly “following the crowd,” because I taught my kids how to act/react based on their principles. I never dealt with typical teenage defiance because there were no rules to defy.

Doing what is best for you and your family is going to look different from mine, but ultimately when it comes to the question of how to best raise kids, the answer is love…hands down.

Kris Frodsham

Ask Amy: My Child Hates Me!

“My 6 year old told me recently he hated me and he wished he had a different Mother. I couldn’t believe it! It hurt my feelings and at the same time made me furious. I told him that was disrespectful and he was not allowed to talk to me that way. I then sent him to his room. I don’t know if that was the best thing to do. What should I do if it happens again?”

PWA Sept Ask Amy

It is hard to hear a remark like this from someone we’ve invested so much into for the last 6 years, isn’t it? You will probably hear it again, so let’s come up with a plan.

Rest assured that most young kids I know that say things like this do not really mean it! It usually comes on the heels of them not getting something they want or things not going their way. In other words, they are mad when we say no! The bottom line is they haven’t learned how to use their words to let us know they are feeling angry.

Here’s what we should do.

Acknowledge the fact that they are mad, give them permission to feel that way and then teach them to use their words appropriately.

The next time you hear “I hate you,” respond by saying “I think you’re trying to tell me you are mad because I said no. I want you to know it’s ok that you’re mad and you can always say, Mommy, I’m mad at you because you won’t let me buy this toy”.

You are modeling for him what you want him to do the next time he’s upset with you. That’s addressing the real issue, which is his anger.

Getting angry with him, telling him to stop talking to you like that, sending him to his room, making him apologize to you are all things that further ignite his anger.

Let me know if this helps!

There’s Always Hope,

PWA_sig_amy

 

 

 

Need more help?  Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?”  While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services.  Click Here to learn more.