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

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.

pwa_feature_chores_3

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.

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

Entitled or Responsible: How to Raise a Self-Sufficient Child

At the end of the day, most parents I know want to be able to say that they are the proud parents of a responsible, confident and independent adult. If that’s true for you, then the goal is to raise a child who wants to do the right thing, can think for himself and is ready to leave home at 18 years old equipped for the real world.

Let’s be more specific and consider a few different kinds of responsibility.pwa_feature_responsibility

Personal responsibility – taking care of yourself and becoming the best person you can be.

Moral responsibility – doing what is right by friends, family and others.

Community responsibility – volunteering, serving and contributing.

Legal responsibility – following family rules, school rules and becoming law-abiding citizens.

Financial responsibility – starting early with allowances to teach them about money management.

Exactly what does it mean to hold your child accountable? It means that you expect and require them to do what they are supposed to do at all times. Responsibility is at the foundation of lifelong success and a necessary component for being able to navigate and function in this convoluted world. To teach our kids about accountability is ongoing and doesn’t happen overnight.

Be warned, though. The exact opposite of this is raising an entitled child. It means doing things for them, allowing them to get by with wrong-doing, not requiring them to contribute to the family, managing their life for them and the list goes on…

What are some ways you can guide them down this road of responsibility?

Give them choices. How are they going to practice being responsible if we don’t give them opportunities? Start early offering choices. Little kids get little choices, “do you want milk or juice” and big kids get big choices, “do you want to start your homework before or after you return from gymnastics”?

Let them fail. The biggest mistake parents are making these days is not allowing their kids to experience adversity. So many parents tell me: “it just kills me to see them struggle” “but she’ll be upset” or “I just can’t stand it when she loses.” Fixing things for our children is innate within most parents, but it robs them of the opportunity to learn about responsibility and independence.

Give them chores. Without a doubt, one of the best ways to begin the process of instilling responsibility is with chores. Children experience what it’s like to contribute to the greater good of the family. Doing chores with a parent builds a sense of pride. Let them be involved in the process of deciding which chores they would like to do. When they get to decide, they have ownership and the chances of compliance will be greater. This is opposed to us dictating that they clean their bathroom, wash their clothes and unload the dishwasher.

Say it once, just once. I’ll bet I talk to at least one parent daily who says to me “I have to tell him over and over to go do what I asked. He just won’t listen.” My response is the very same each time. He knows he doesn’t have to. You see, his mother has a history of not holding him accountable when she asks the first time. Nothing good ever comes out of this scenario. With each request, mother gets more irritated and loud; the child gets frustrated that his mother is nagging. Most importantly, mother is not holding him accountable.

Set a good example. Are you a blamer? Do you condemn your son’s baseball coach for what was your child’s error or do you criticize your daughter’s teacher for requiring that she redo her paper? Do you own your mistakes and correct them? Your attitude and behavior will be what influences your child.

So, there you have it—some ideas about how to stretch and grow your children as you guide them into adulthood. You will be equipping them with one of the attributes it takes to make it in this great big world: responsibility.

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.

 

 

Is Character Lost? How to Get it Back!

You have the chance of a lifetime … the privilege to shape and mold your child’s character! You don’t have many years to do it either. Developing character is an ongoing endeavor and not something you can teach them about once. We have to be intentional in times like these, because our society makes it more and more difficult to instill these important qualities in our kids. With the internet, television and social media spewing all manner of inappropriateness, we are working against the societal grain.

We live in exciting times that point us to emerging research that confirms what I’ve always believed. When it comes to predicting our kids’ success in life, more important than intelligence is their character.Character_Pic

  • Can they self-regulate, handle disappointment and persevere?
  • Do they tend to have a more positive outlook on life, are they kind, caring, respectful and so on?

I happen to think that many parents today are way too focused on grades, performance, competition and scholarship possibilities more than they are in helping their kids become good humans with a strong moral compass. By the way, the spin-off of all that pressure is causing unnecessary anxiety in our children.

The optimal time to help our kids and teach them these all-important skills is during their preschool years, so start early. And, get this, during those early years it’s through play that they learn the best!

Having said that, let’s talk about what we can do to help them.

  1. The first place to look is us. Are we modeling and living out fairness, compassion, respectfulness, honesty, love and patience or any other character quality that is important to you. Children first begin to learn about virtues from us, so we determine which traits our kids will see modeled.
  2. It’s not enough for them to just see us live out the virtues we want them to espouse. We need to be positive and encouraging when we catch them exhibiting moral behavior. Bring it to their attention. Tell them you noticed how fair they played that board game. As we know, if we want repeat behavior, we give them the positive attention it deserves.
  3. Teach them to serve others. Involve your family in community service activities. Churches offer many opportunities to serve and you could also show them what it’s like to be available for family and friends when they need a little help.
  4. It’s advisable to let your sweet things struggle and even fail at times. Just think, they will get opportunities to practice managing frustrations and failures because we know that life is full of disappointments. This is one of the ways they become strong and resilient. Sell them on the idea that with effort they can improve. When they are struggling with grasping a new concept, say multiplication, encourage them as they practice until the light bulb comes on. Self-esteem and confidence is the result.
  5. Identify their strengths and bring them to their attention. Let her know you noticed she extended forgiveness to someone that was really mean to her or that he was so patient with his annoying younger brother as he was learning a new game.

A thought to hold on to and be hopeful about … the fruits of your labor and diligence in modeling and teaching these skills will probably not be evidenced right away. You will likely see this much later and it might not be until your child is in adulthood. But don’t give up. Have faith that many kids eventually espouse the virtues your family values.

Wherever you are in the world, I’m just a phone call away!  Over the last year, I have developed custom packages that walk you through the most critical issues parents deal with today.  Grouping them into 4 stages has now made my one-on-one consulting time even more affordable than before!  Click Here to read more about my Parenting Packages.

There’s Always Hope,

PWA_sig_amy