I found this old cartoon I drew on the sideboard at my neighbor Meryl's house last night when we were eating dinner. I had forgotten all about it, I told her. I can't seem to part with it, she replied.
Three years later, and I can tell you all my attempts at passing off propaganda as the best advice for children ever have a very short shelf life, but still. I can't help but love the non-violent nature of at least trying to teach kids how to self-evaluate where they are on the cooperation continuum.
What do you think? The power of positive thinking or skirting the issue--listen or else!
We arrived at our family doctor yesterday for a regular check-up only to find people and small children waiting outside the door. The office was so packed with sick kids, the receptionist asked me to wait in my car and she would call me when they were ready. Yowsers! I felt for all involved. The staff was patient but looked a little haggard, the parents had wrinkled brows and the kids just wanted to be held.
"It seems like winter came early this year." Our pediatrician said. With all this flu talk and sickness going around, it might be good to have a few things in our parenting back pocket for such a time.
Here are a few ideas for your trip to the doctor:
1. Keep kids busy. Put tiny journals and color pencils in your bag for the office visit wait. Bubbles, stickers and tiny plastic animals can distract a worried mind. Play thumb wars and twenty questions with older kids.
2. Turn off the TV. The news can be quite scary for kids, heck, for me too. H1N1 news is a hot topic but little ears can be spared from the latest statistic. Information can pour in even when kids don't appear to be listening.
3. Talk straight, but be positive. Let your kids know what is going to happen (depends on the age/personality about how much information), and then remind them of your presence and support.
4. Let your child have as much control as possible. Let your child ask their own questions to your care provider. Introduce them to all staff that will be caring for them. Tiny decisions like what color band-aid they want and what you should do/play after the experience can help when they are feeling so powerless.
Do you have any tips for helping kids deal with the doctor, shots or general anxiety about medical care? Let us know in the comments.
Check out Sid The Science Kid too! He has a new episode about getting shots. This is also an awesome guide to how to talk to your child about going to the doctor and dentist.
There are pretty much only two rules in our house. Well, there might be a few more but they are pretty minor. You must be kind and grateful. If you aren't doing those two things, it will send you to some place of talking to figuring out why. Let's be honest, maybe a long lecture or the occasional raise-your-voice kind of moment.
This subject got me to thinking. What are the rules in your house? Those spoken or unspoken, the things you really want your kids to take with them beyond the walls of your house and into adulthood.
Tell us what your family rules are in the comments. My nosy self wants to know.
Also, check out Jen's guide to passing down your values to your kids.
I'll admit it, I put off helping her cleaning her room. There are moments when my tricks work but often times this dear girl requires me to be even more creative still. The only problem being that I had no creativity in my heart this particular day. I just needed her to do what I asked. Just do it.
I feverishly picked up toys while she laid on her bed, her forearm to her head, crying dramatically. "I just don't wanna clean up my room, I can't do it, I just can't do it."
She looked like a queen that had just been asked to clean the stables, with a toothbrush.
"I know you don't, but we must, I'll help you." I replied with little emotion in my voice.
I gave her a very clear and easy task, there was more wailing. I explained we will need to pack up some toys and put them away if she is unwilling to pick them up. Logical consequence, still no dice, just more drama.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry I'm not cleaning my room." she wailed. I wanted to laugh but instead told her it was okay because there was still more to do and she had another chance. She said she needed a break and laid down once again. The room was almost done at this point, after almost 45 minutes, what felt like a very long 45 minutes. All was picked up except for a large pile of dirty clothes in the corner of the room. Out of no where, she got up and started picking up the clothes and carrying them to the hamper. I stood in shock while she came back for another trip until the pile was gone.
"I'll get these too mom." She picked up the laundry in the bathroom.
"Thank you." I said.
She left to play, the storm passing as quickly as it came. Some days it isn't pretty, but it is a victory, no matter how small.
Having meltdowns at your house too? Got a drama mama like me? Check out this guide to help tackle the stickier moments of parenting.
I was feeling guilty enough for being at a fast food restaurant, let alone letting my kids play in the ginormous playland which could double as a petri dish of disease. Having gone so far over the edge, I broke down and bought them a kid's meal. Because it really means the world to them for their mother to buy the toy car for $4. I was so exhausted that I didn't notice they had taken their cars to play on the slides, which is always a recipe for disaster.
Ethan came over crying a few minutes later.
E: Momomomomomomomom. I sent my CAR down the SLIDE and now this BOY has it.
Oh, I can do crisis intervention. I turned around to see which surly child had deprived my precious son of his most prized possession. There was a little baby walking around with the car in his hand. His face said, "I can't believe this car fell right into my hands." Or more accurately, "CAR!!"
He was only about 15 months old. I told Ethan that this was just a baby with the car and that I would get it back. With Mason balancing on my hip, I went over to the little boy.
K: Hey, buddy. Can I get that car back? It belongs to Ethan.
He toddled away, completely oblivious to me. It was a classic boy moment. Look, shiny!!! I reached out with my flat open hand, trying to talk him into giving me the car back. He wasn't having any part of it. Because he was a baby and didn't understand. I toddled behind him with the open hand, trying to get him to offer it up. It was downright comical. I was busy trying to figure out what I could offer him to get the car back and I just kept offering my hand to get the car back. Suddenly his mother stormed up. And I do mean stormed.
She snatched the car from her son and slammed it in to my hand.
"You should have just ASKED ME AND I WOULD HAVE GOTTEN IT FOR YOU."
I was stunned. I stuttered back, "I was just asking him kindly for it." She slammed out of the restaurant with her poor child who hadn't even noticed what had happened because he saw a balloon painted on the window.
It's not like I screamed hysterically and yanked the car out of his hand. It's not like she used it as a teaching moment ("here, buddy, let's give this car back because it isn't ours), if you can even teach a BABY like that. It's not like I put him in time out or called Fast Food Security and reported a theft.
No less than 20 kids were in that playland. I'm sure there are some people that think I should have identified his mother (who was clearly not paying attention) to obtain this corrective action. I didn't because I didn't think I needed to. I was pretty sure I could get him to give the car back willingly. No harm, no foul, no big deal. I don't think I should have to ask a parent if I can ask their child for my son's toy back. If he hadn't given it back, we might have been in a different situation. I think that we have all gotten just a little too self-important and if our baby needs such protection, we should probably avoid fast food playlands in the future. It seems to me like this is a trend in parenting that heads down a wrong path.
Is it really a good idea for your mother to refuse to allow anyone to question you, even when you are a baby? I'm thinking if you feel that way when your baby is a baby, you probably won't be veering far off that program when your child gets older. The problem is, when you grow up, your boss isn't going to call your mother to ask her to break it to you gently that you have done something wrong or you could do better.
Although come college application essay time or salary negotiation for the first job, I'm sure she is going to be the best mom around to have.
We are at that point in the summer where everyone has been together nonstop and we are going a little nutty. Everything feels annoying from everyone to everyone. Throw a little heat in the mix and it's pretty much a recipe for miserable living. This is the moment for intervention, or maybe not, whatever your personal solution might be to one of the biggest parenting struggles, sibling rivalry.
It's been pretty bad over here so I came up with a few strategies. Don't know if they will work for you but maybe it's worth a shot?
1. Give Them Something To Do. Many a conflict start out from being bored. Bothering your sister is something to do when you have run out of all other ideas. Sometimes a project can bring them back together, other times doing the same project in separate spaces is called for. Pull out small art kits and other special things might be in order.
2. Stop And Spend Time Together. The last thing I want to do is spend time with fighting children but it is often the very thing most needed. I find when I disengage and enter their world for just awhile it diffuses the angst floating around. Reading a book to them in bed, watching a movie together, playing a game of tag makes them forget they can't stand each other for a bit.
3. Do An Intervention Dance. Sometimes, doing very little or nothing at all is the answer. Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish wrote the best book on sibling relationships called Siblings Without Rivalry. They talk about a strategy of how to help kids navigate their own conflicts by "stepping in so you can step out". Helping kids identify their feelings in the moment (stepping in) and then allowing kids to work out (stepping out) how they are going to deal with them.
There are times when children can navigate their own conflict but it might take longer than we prefer, other times they need us to set up the navigation just a bit. I find it helps to have the kids face each other at eye level, allow each other to say what is bothering them and then ask each child if they have any ideas for solutions. After a few times, kids can actually do this themselves. If no one is ready or willing, I let them go to their own spaces until they we can come together for another try. It can be a bit of a dance figuring out which is needed when.
4. Get Some Playdate Parties Going. Everyone needs a little time away once in awhile. Now is the time to call your best friend and ask to trade various kids for the day. Absence makes the heart grow fonder? fingers crossed.
5. Forget Fair. "It's not fair!" Have you heard this? Can I get an amen from the middle child in the house? Switch verbage to needs. Things are not always fair and never will be but we can do our best to meet each others needs. When we are deep into the "mine isn't as big, she got more, etc..", the need question helps loads. "Is there something you are worried about or need?" More about this in the book mentioned above.
6. Put Everyone In Time Out. Start with yourself. When things are bad and you are spent from screeching and yelling, hide for awhile. I used to lock myself in the bathroom for 10 minutes (making sure all was safe first if you have littles) or run errands when my husband got home at night. Even being in the car by myself in silence felt like a luxury. If I could re-group, I could help the kids too.
When we were kids, my mom banished us to our rooms to "work it out". We hated it and I don't know if it always worked but somewhere in that time we decided to gang up against her. We came out annoyed with her but somehow fine with each other.
7. Start An Acts of Kindness List. See how documenting kindness can change the vibe in your family.
Got any other good tips for sibling relationships? Please, please share them. This is definitely a topic where two heads are better than one.