Over-scheduling: Megan’s Story

You might know the phrase, “the bad news is time flies; the good news is you’re the pilot.” This is so TRUE. Luckily, we can navigate our own time and choose how we spend those moments we hold dear to our hearts. We can easily become too busy to experience life together, to share those special moments and our hearts with one another. I am a busy mother of 3 beautiful girls and my priority is to give my family the ultimate gift… each other. Giving them the “time” to truly know and understand one another and to explore life enabled them to develop STRONG relationships in our family. The key to making all of this a reality is simple—I didn’t over-schedule my family.

PWA Dec Family Spotlight Megan

In today’s society, kids are overloaded with activities that are robbing them of their childhood. They are constantly on the go, trying to experience every interest that each child may have. I didn’t want to force a “theme” on my daughters at such a young age. I have noticed kids seem to act as if they are programmed when life gets too busy. I encouraged my girls to pace their interests so they could develop into their own authentic selves. Giving each child one activity allowed them the necessary time to live in the moment and truly focus on other important things, which helped form crucial values and mold their morals. Activities such as eating dinner as a family, playing with each other and having those special times as a family are all essential to developing healthy values.

An astonishing fact that blows me away is that 40% of families eat together only three or fewer times a week, with 10% never eating dinner together at all. Family meals nurture my family and provide us with a unified experience which connects each one of us with love and security. I feel connected with each one of my girls and because we have established a close relationship, I feel they know they can come to me with any life obstacles that come their way. I owe this to the consistent bonding that we have, and feel my relationship would not exist if my daughters were over booked.

In addition, time has allowed my girls to develop an imagination. Having time to create their own activities and to explore their inventive side inspires my girls and molds them into beautiful young ladies. A strong imagination does not make you impractical, it’s a wonderful tool in life that gives you unlimited opportunities! In fact, people who lack imagination are inclined to think negatively and to be unhappy.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For Knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while Imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

-Albert Einstein

Extra time can also play against us as parents these days. Today, kids are not always choosing to play board games and go outside to play. They are glued to screens and are using the tech world for their enjoyment. Some kids may spend hours at a time staring at a screen, resulting in missing out on life. Although, technology can be a good thing. Not all screen time is bad, and it can actually be a great resource and building block in our children’s education. However, as with anything, moderation is key. One time, by choice, my girls decided to give up all electronics, and I was amazed at the difference in their attitudes! Since they had given up all of their gadgets, they were forced to nurture their imaginations, enabling them to find more happiness and contentment within themselves. This goes back to how important imagination is. I believe it is one of the foundations which creates happiness and peace within.

To sum it all up, not over-scheduling my family gave them time to use the gift of imagination and for them to experience life at a pace that is enjoyable. Every child and family is different, and finding your own groove as to what works for you is ultimately the best. What I do know, is time is extremely precious. Each time we share our moments together, we create precious memories we will all cherish for a lifetime!!

Megan

Ask Amy: How Do I Help My Child Feel Safe Despite the Recent Paris Attacks?

My child is asking lots of questions about the recent attacks in Paris. I’m not sure how to address it with her. Any suggestions?

Such events can leave all of us feeling sad, mad and scared and children may be particularly reactive, which makes them feel unsafe. When children are directly exposed to such events, they can become traumatized, and the emotional impact of trauma can last a very long time if it goes unnoticed. Some children who may not experience the trauma directly may be exposed to it nevertheless through sensationalized newscasts, and there is evidence to suggest that children can be just as traumatized by this kind of indirect contact as well. It is important that parents have information about the impact trauma has on children and how to help them understand and cope with these events.

PWA Dec Ask Amy 5

First, when something traumatic occurs, it is important to give children an honest, yet age appropriate explanation of what happened. They will almost certainly hear about it through television, schoolmates, etc., so it is best that children receive information from their parents. Second, it is imperative to reassure children, that you will do everything you can to keep them safe. It is wise to limit children’s exposure to newscasts. I don’t mean shield them from it entirely, just limit. Children do not have the reasoning abilities or coping mechanisms to deal with what they might see or hear. It is important to permit children to talk about their feelings and reactions. Although such conversations can be painful, especially if we’re experiencing our own reactions to the trauma, they do help all of us in the long run. One of the worst things we can say to our children is “get over it,” or “you can’t talk about it.” Denial of the child’s reactions can lead to larger problems later. Give them the facts such as, “the bad guys are in jail.”

Sometimes traumatized children look quite “normal” on the surface after the event, and then experience post-traumatic symptoms, weeks, months, or even years later. Many children are quite resilient when dealing with traumatic events, but it is good for parents to know what to look for when their child might be struggling. Here are some signs that might indicate problems for your child: nervousness, agitation, difficulty concentrating, refusing to go to school, angers quickly, aggression, nightmares, won’t sleep alone, startles easily, reverts to younger-age behaviors, fears separation, personality changes. Although these signs could be related to other things, they might indicate your child has been traumatized. The sooner it is treated, the better the outcome is likely to be for the child.

 
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.

Self-Esteem Versus Self-Worth

Is there a difference between self-esteem and self-worth? You bet there is! Most people use these two interchangeably, yet they are hugely different. We usually speak more about self-esteem, and the importance of making sure our children feel good about themselves, than we do self-worth. If you’ve never thought about this, you might be asking, what is the difference?

Self-worth is about being, or who we are; while self-esteem is about doing, or what we do.

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Self-worth is a core belief in myself. It doesn’t change and is much deeper than self-esteem. The beginnings of self-worth are rooted in… are you ready for this… our experiences in childhood. During the first year of life, a baby learns if they cry, and someone listens to that cry and meets their needs, they feel important. A stronger self emerges. This means pressure, dear parents, to get this right during the formative years!

This confirms that the parent-child relationship is extremely important! Later on, peers become the primary influence, which is all the more reason for us to be intentional early on. We surely want them to be more influenced by us than their peers. Agree?

We are able to make statements like this, if we have a strong sense of self:

I am of value, simply because God created me.
I believe in myself.
I am loveable.
I am capable.
I can make a difference.
I am enough.
I am competent, even when I mess up.

Self-esteem is what I think, feel and believe about myself. It can change in a moment and is dependent on our accomplishments and performances. See if this resonates. You are feeling fairly confident about your parenting abilities until your parents and in-laws give you their unsolicited opinion about how they think you should be parenting. Wham! In a flash, you feel totally inept and begin to second-guess yourself.

How to foster your child’s healthy self-worth:

  • Respect their feelings and opinions
  • Encourage them
  • Let them fail
  • Let them make decisions whenever possible
  • Love them unconditionally

We want to be the biggest encourager they have ever encountered! This means giving them kudos from time to time. Saying things like “good work” is better than no praise, but what is most important is giving them credit for the process, “you knew just how to manage your time so you would be finished with your project by the due date.”

Kids need to fail, and we need to allow it. As hard as this is to watch, be reminded failure contributes to a healthy sense of self.

They need to be adept at problem solving, so let them make decisions whenever possible. This means to refrain from telling them what to do, or how to do it. The message this sends to them is you have confidence in their ability to come up with the solution that’s right for them. Talk about a confidence booster!

Respect them enough to let them share their views and opinions even though they might be different from yours. Ask them what their thoughts are on certain things. This is particularly true with teens.

Give them your time and undivided attention in some way each day. You don’t need to spend money to do this. Play with your young children, go get a coke with your teen or spend one-on-one time together before bed.

We know the way we feel about ourselves affects the way we live our lives – specifically, how we act, how we treat others and even the decisions we make. All the more reason to be mindful about helping our children embrace the fact that they matter!

 
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.

Chores: The Great Debate

I’m not going to lie. When the girls were growing up, there were some days it was just easier and faster for me to do their chores for them.

Have you ever been guilty of this? Most parents I know have. Some parents cave in to avoid confrontation while others don’t have the energy, patience or time to hold their children accountable. I also know plenty of parents that don’t want to inconvenience or impose on their already over scheduled kids.

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None of these are good options because chores are, or should be, a necessary part of growing up.

Benefits:

Responsibility – holding children accountable for chores can increase their self-worth because they will feel good when they meet their obligations.

Life skills – cooking, cleaning, laundry, taking care of a pet and yard work are all skills they will need when they leave your home.

Hard work – life requires work… house work, school work, job work, etc. Chores provide the training ground for these essential life skills.

Here’s what you can do:

Model positive behaviors. If you whine about doing the laundry or mowing the yard, your children are more likely to complain about cleaning up their rooms.

Be patient. If you tell your son to put away his video games before dinnertime, then don’t complain if he hasn’t started the task by mid-afternoon. Give him the opportunity to complete the request without begging, pleading or nagging.

Compliment cooperation. Acknowledge when your child completes a task—even if the toys aren’t on the right shelves. You’ll get more cooperation if you refrain from criticism.

Start young and start small. A one-year-old can start age-appropriate chores, such as picking up books and blocks. And it’s okay for you to help them! Make it fun. “I’ll put my block in here, now it’s your turn. My book goes right here, yours goes next to mine.” By the time our children are six or seven, they should be able to do their chores unassisted.

What is the state of the parent-child relationship? Keep in mind that kids want to please but the connection has to be there. Also, they will be more apt to embrace your values regarding chores as well as your work ethic if the parent-child relationship is strong.

What if?

The ever-present question from parents is “What if they don’t do their chores? What consequence should I give them?” I don’t believe there always needs to be a consequence, especially if they are younger. Remember, you are training and teaching them—be positive and supportive and work alongside them until they are done. Yes, this does take more of your time, but if you can put in the hard work and training at the front end, the ultimate result will be that as they grow up, you should be able to say it’s time to do your chores and they will be able to do just that.

For older kiddos and teens, yes, a consequence might be in order. When they complete their chores then they can go out with friends. Say “feel free to go to Haley’s house when your chores are done.” This teaches him to govern himself and enables you to parent in a positive way. The more negative approach goes like this “No, you can’t go to Haley’s. I’ve told you a hundred times you have chores to do. You always wait until the last minute and you’ve known all along what you were supposed to be doing.” This kind of reaction doesn’t encourage cooperation.

Of this one thing I am certain: Your children will not thank you for insisting they do their chores while they still live in your home. Hopefully, they will thank you someday… after they are living on their own.

 
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: Can I Learn to Connect to my Child?

Jeni writesYou always talk about the significance of the parent-child relationship and how important that connection is. I’m not sure I know how to really connect because I’m pretty sure I never experienced that from my parents. Could you talk about ways to connect and stay connected to my child?

Great question Jeni! You’re right, if you’ve never felt really connected to your parents, it’s highly unlikely that you would know how to do it. The good news is, you can learn!

Ask Amy Nov resized

Connection takes time. Your time. Your undivided attention is the best way to let your kids know how much you value them. Why not start by playing with your child if they are younger or just hanging out with them if they are older? These times of connection are not times to teach, lecture or nag. They are times for letting the child lead the play or conversation. It’s on their terms and their choosing. You’re just along for the ride doing and talking about things that are of interest to them, not you.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Peek a boo
  • Hide and Seek
  • I Spy
  • Chase
  • Go on a walk
  • Ride bikes
  • Cook
  • Wrestle
  • Tickle games
  • Sing and dance
  • Board games
  • Cards

Hopefully, these ideas will get you started. Thirty minutes, one time a week, is what I like to suggest for this kind of one-on-one time. No distractions from technology, siblings, spouses, friends, chores, etc.

Of course, it’s also important to connect in a quicker way each day. Take 5–10 minutes to check in and see how their day was, what they are feeling and if all is well in their world.

I can promise, if these times are done correctly, you will have a child that is more compliant, cooperative and happy.

I’d love to hear how this works for you, Jeni!
 
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.

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,

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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.

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.

The Battle For Power

When I hear a parent say “she argues with me about everything,” I immediately start to wonder is it Mom or Dad that is controlling and likes to hold the power. You see, I have yet to meet a power hungry kid without at least one power hungry parent.

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We all need to feel powerful and have some control in our lives and our children are no exception. When we don’t give them any control, or even if they have control but don’t perceive they do, they begin to fight for it and power struggles ensue.

We usually begin to see kids fighting for power and independence around 2 years of age. This is healthy and normal and what they are supposed to be doing at this stage in their development. If we know and accept that and learn how to handle ourselves appropriately, then we can better help them manage themselves. The more we can give them developmentally appropriate ways to be in control and feel powerful, the less power struggles we are going to have.

Contrary to what some parents believe, when we argue with our children, we abdicate our role as parents and put our kids in control. This is way too much power for them and they can’t handle it emotionally. They become angry, resentful and overwhelmed and their behavior escalates. Parents feel the same emotions, and now everyone is in a bad place.

So, what’s the secret you say? You are. Yes, you. You hold the power!

Here’s what to do:

  • Just stop it. Bow out. Do not engage. Doesn’t that sound easy? In theory it is, however, practical application proves different.
  • Give them choices. Only give two options and make certain they are both acceptable with you.
  • Pick your battles. We know this but it’s so hard to pull off. Is it really necessary to engage about whether she should put on her coat? No. After you suggest it, and she resists, let it go. Trust that she will come back for the coat when she gets cold enough.
  • Make sure the parent-child relationship is solid. When they feel disconnected from us, they behave much worse. Take time to do a little nurturing if they are fighting for control.

If you can be mindful of these suggestions and implement them, I’ll just bet you will not encounter as many battles as you normally do. It’s sure worth a try!

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.