Category Archives: Parenting Advice

Good-Bye Disney Channel

I’ve never been big on cable, or in this case Dish, TV until we moved to the outskirts of town and it was the only option to get any reception. In the beginning, I was excited to see some of the channels which came with the package, like the Disney channel, but after a year of seeing what my 8 year old daughter was watching, I understand now why she is growing up with a bad attitude.

The shows on Disney that I find my daughter watching have no parental figures in them. If there are adults or parents in the shows, they are usually portrayed as stupid, immature, and lacking in any type of real authority. Shows such as Austin and Ally and Shake It Up rarely show parents at all. The kids are running the show and living the good life. The main characters treat everyone─friends and enemies alike─terribly.

Jessie, Shake It Up, A.N.T Farm, Austin and Alley, Good Luck Charlie, Dog with a Blog, Victorious (just to name a few) seem to lack the real-life lessons children actually encounter.. They are a far cry from the shows that used to teach lessons in morality and kindness. Now it is all about rudeness, sarcasm, poor jokes, mean-spiritedness, posturing, and a lack of parental guidance.

I know I am guilty of allowing my daughter to watch these shows and should have stepped in sooner. It is easy to get busy and not give your children the attention and guidance they require but if the TV. is left to raise them, then you’re probably not going to be very happy with the results. I know I’m not. Undoubtedly, there are people out there that will disagree with me about the Disney Channel but for this family it is time to say good-bye to the Disney Channel once and for all.

One Stepping Stone at a Time

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all that demands our attention. Recently, I found myself hyperventilating whenever I thought about my schedule for the an upcoming week. My wife was in 5 showings of South Pacific, my daughter had dance practice, a dance rehearsal and 2 performances – all of which were taking place Wednesday through Saturday. Just the thought of my evenings being this busy was freaking me out.

Every time I thought about the week my anxiety level would go through the roof. I had to manage my busy week at work, prepare all the meals, ensure homework was done, make sure everyone was where they needed to be – on time, make my appearance at a couple shows and helplessly watch the grass grow as it screamed, “mow me” every time I pulled into the driveway.

Tuesday evening, slouched over with my head in hands, heart beginning to pound and dreading what was to come it suddenly occurred to me. If I take this week one day at a time I can get through this even if that meant not getting to the lawn. So that’s exactly what I did, I took the next few days one stepping stone at a time only giving thought to the next day and not beyond.

As I did this I found my stress level went down and it was much easier to manage everything I had to do. When I was able to ‘X’ out each day on the calendar I looked back and thought, “That wasn’t so bad.” Eventually, Sunday came and I was still standing (to my surprise) I even found time to mow the lawn. Watching my wife and daughter during their performances was a blast and I’m glad I was there to support and help throughout the week.

This is simply another case of living in the here and now. When we focus too far down the road it can cause a lot of unneeded stress. If we treat life’s journey as stepping stones we are focusing on our next step, one at a time. Heck, I only have one wife and one child. I can’t imagine how it is for people with more than one, child that is. However, I think taking life one step at a time is the secret to their success. The further we put ourselves in the future only creates more stress. Will I have enough money to retire? What if I get sick? Will my children grow up happy and successful? What if I lose my job? There are countless “what if” statements you can conjure up and most won’t have an answer. To live in the future leads to worry which will rob you of your present joy. Parent by example and show your child what it means to live in the here and now, taking life one stepping stone at a time.

Cost of Being Right

Have you ever tried to reason with a child that thinks they know everything?

I would venture to guess that every parent has experienced such an event. Where do children get this stubbornness from and why must they be so unwilling to change their point of view? I remember when my daughter was 7, she got on the Justin Bieber band wagon however, she constantly referred to him as Justin Beaver. No matter how many times I corrected her she refused to listen. She was right and I was wrong, what does dad know anyhow?

Children can develop a “know it all” mentality at a very young age and they can become upset if challenged. It is difficult for them to see things from another perspective, especially since they are so absorbed in themselves. As parents, we can expect this to some degree. The child is asserting their individuality and independence but the problem occurs when the behavior is carried into adulthood.

I think one of the biggest mistakes a parent can make is to argue with their child about what is right and what is wrong. Often, it only makes matters worse and it teaches them to arguing is okay and usually whoever yells the loudest wins. Some things are worth letting go and sometimes it takes a third party to come in and say, “It is Bieber not Beaver.”

Children are different and we want them to grow up with their own opinions but we don’t want them to be so entrenched in their beliefs that they never look at things from a different point of view. Consider the old saying, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” Why anyone would want to skin a cat is beyond me but at some point it must have been a popular thing. Regardless, there is usually more than one way to get things done.

As our children mature they should grow out of the need to be right but if they don’t you need to examine why they haven’t let it go. First start by looking at your family dynamics, do you have the need to be right? Are you and your spouse constantly arguing about who is right and wrong? When we get older the need to be right may indicate self-esteem issues or low self-confidence. If you want to change this behavior in yourself or your children it needs to be understood that there is a cost involved with always being right. When we come across as a know-it-all we alienate people and eventually become isolated.

Begin breaking the cycle in your child by looking at how you interact with others. Imagine how it must feel to be in their shoes and see things through their eyes. Is there anything that you could do differently? Look for opportunities to teach your children that being right all the time is impossible and that it is okay to say, “sorry” from time to time.

Being righteous and being self-righteous are at opposite ends of the spectrum. The difference is; being full of one’s self or doing the right thing. Teach your children the difference and that they can choose how they are going to live. There is a cost of always being right and it’s up to each individual to decide whether that cost is worth it.

Teaching Your Children about Failure

As a parent I often avoid using the term failure around my daughter. I don’t want my child to think I am a failure or worse yet that she is one. However, without ever talking about failure or letting her see that I fail from time to time I am not doing a very good job teaching her about failure.

Plain and simple – there is no avoiding failure. We all experience it, struggle with it, our kids struggle with it, no one is immune from failure. Failure is a very important part of life. If everything came easy we wouldn’t have the stress we need to push on as humans. Many of us may think we know it all but in reality most of us know very little and will make mistakes. Each day we are faced with several opportunities to fail and each day we are given the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and succeed.

If we shield our children from failure they won’t understand what it means to learn from our mistakes. They won’t have the challenges that spark new ideas and create new opportunities to help them achieve their goals. Instead they will grow up as victims thinking that life (and everyone else) is out to get them. The last thing this world needs is more ‘victims.’

What Parents Should Teach Their Children about Failure

We should teach our children that failure is a part of life, it is a test. Failure builds character, makes people stronger and if a lesson is taken away it can make us wiser.

Sometimes there are negative consequences that come with failure and we should teach our children that these consequences are different than those for disobedience. We should never punish our child because they failed, instead we should lift them up and help them come up with a better plan of action for the next time.

One of the best ways to teach your child about failure is to allow them to witness your failures and then follow-up by showing them how to take away key points that will possibly lead to success the next time.

Behind every story of success there are dozens of stories about failure. Through failure we learn and achieve greatness – this is what we should be teaching our children.

Kids Make Mistakes

Kids make mistakes! Sometimes very BIG ones but they still require love, patience, understanding and fairness when dealing with the choices they have made.

As parents we are well aware of the fact that kids make mistakes. No matter how much we tell them right from wrong, good from bad they still find ways to give us a scare from time to time. I remember when my daughter was 8-years old, her and a friend decided to skip the bus and walk home from school (over 3 miles). At some point, they deduced that with how long the trip felt and all the stops the bus had to make they could easily get home quicker walking than riding the bus.

You can easily imagine the terror I felt when my child did not get off the bus as expected. The media has conditioned me well to think the worst. Quick note about our media; they typically show the exceptions, the worst that happens in our society. It isn’t the norm because the norm doesn’t get people worked up or increase ratings. Okay, back to the story… luckily while I was walking back from the bus stop my phone rang and it was a good samaritan who found our children a mile from the school. On a positive note; at least the kid knew my cell number.

Obviously, everything worked out and we had a long heart to heart talk about why this was a bad decision. Once I was able to get over the fear and anger I could see the so called logic behind her decision. When I tried to explain the time, speed, and distance relationship my daughter looked at me as if I were crazy. At least she is trying to figure things out on her own. Her heart wasn’t in a bad place, she wasn’t doing a bad thing, what she did was make a bad decision. Did she get punished? You bet! But she also got hugs, kisses and reassurance that she is a great kid.

We can’t live in fear or put our children in plastic bubbles but we can love them unconditionally, teach them and be there to help when they need it. It is impossible to protect them from everything, they will have to learn some lessons on their own. Just because our children make mistakes it doesn’t make us bad parents and it doesn’t mean they aren’t listening – they are. They are also simply trying to figure things out on their own.

Takeaways:

  1. Children make mistakes.
  2. Stay calm until the crisis is over.
  3. Wait until you calm down to deliver punishment.
  4. Listen to what your kids have to say.
  5. We can’t protect them from everything.
  6. Children do listen to what their parents tell them.

5 Great Ways To Teach Your Toddler How To Share

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could remove the word “mine” from your child’s vocabulary. Unfortunately, you can’t, and your child will use the word “mine” often.

It seems as if children instinctively don’t like sharing their toys with friends or family members, even if they’re not playing with that said toy at the moment. But you know that you cannot allow your child to hoard all the toys, and you know that you cannot allow them to scream and cry and throw a fit just because someone else wants to use something of theirs. This is why it’s important to teach your child how to share, and even though it may seem like a challenge, the following five tips are great ways to help your child learn how to share.

1. Start early.

There’s no appropriate age to teach your child how to share, but the earlier you start, the better it will be. Teaching a younger child to share will prove easier because the child doesn’t know any better. They’ll think of sharing as a part of their everyday routine, and this can help it be successful. If you wait until your child is much older to teach them about sharing, you’ll now have to break the habit of not sharing, and this can be harder to do.

2. Show them.

Your child mimics what they see, so if they see that you or your family members are never sharing their possessions, it will make your child less likely to do the same. Instead, make sure that you’re showing your child how to share. Make sure that you share things with your child, whether it’s food or a possession, and make sure that your child sees other members of your family sharing. This will help them realize that sharing is an appropriate way to act, and your child will be more willing to share if they see you doing it.

3. Praise them for sharing.

When your child does share, praise their actions. Give them lots of hugs and kisses, tell them that you’re proud of them, and even do a dance. It doesn’t matter if you look or act silly, your child will enjoy all the attention, and knowing that sharing made you so happy can be all it takes to get them to share on a regular basis.

4. Talk to them.

You may also need to talk to your child about the importance of sharing. Make sure that you tell them that sharing their belongings makes other people feel happy, and let them know that when they don’t share, it makes others feel sad. Your child knows the difference between being happy and sad, and if they know how bad they felt when they were sad, they may not want to make someone else feel that way.

5. Take baby steps.

If your child is having a play date, pick out a few toys for the kids to play with and tell your child that they’ll have to share those toys. If your child has certain toys that they absolutely love, you may want to put them away for the playdate. Eventually, you’ll have to allow your child to share those toys too, but by starting with a smaller group of toys, you can ease your child into sharing by showing them that nothing bad will happen to their toys if someone else plays with them.

Stacey Margaret is a freelance writer and mother who loves to share her experience and tips on toddler training with new parents through her blog.

5 Ways To Become An Even Better Parent Than You Were Yesterday

Who is the best parent you know? It could be your mom, your husband, the little lady who lives across the street, or anyone else you know. Chances are you’ve noticed someone’s parenting skills and been rather impressed by them. The reason people are good parents isn’t because they were born that way. I bet that person has worked really hard and been through a lot before you decided they were a great parent. Today is about you improving your parenting skills so you become one step closer to amazing at the end of every day.

Parenting is one of the easiest and hardest jobs you will ever undertake. There is obviously going to be fun times, but you’ll also come up against things that will push you to the edge. That’s only natural and it happens to be best of us, but it’s the way that you learn from things that make you a good parent. Let’s take a look at some valuable things people have improved on in the past so you can learn from them. Your child is lucky to have someone who is always looking to be better.

Protect Them from Online Danger

Something you don’t hear much about is protecting your children when they are on the Internet. Keylogging software is a good way to do this because it gives them the freedom to do what they want, but you still get to read everything they type so if something is going on you will find out. You could also install parental control software and the only websites they will be able to go on will have been chosen by you in advance.

Be More Organized

When you’re a parent, wife, worker, home owner, plus thousands of other duties it’s sometimes hard to squeeze everything in. When you’re more organized you almost create time out of thin air and when you have more time it means you get to spend it with your family. Becoming more organized is definitely no walk in the park and it’s going to take a considerable amount of effort on your part, so get ready for hard work.

Be Calmer Starting from Today

Look at your kids right now and think about how great you feel. Now think about the way you act when your kids wind you up the wrong way. You probably get so angry with them, but they are only doing what all kids do because they wind everyone up. The only person who suffers when you start going crazy over little things is you, so do yourself a favor and even if you’re being wound up try to think of the children as you do right now.

Keep Them Fit and Healthy

This would probably be assigned under the ‘obvious’ category in the past, but obviously it’s harder for parents than we think. Please understand that if your child is overweight you’re the only person who can help them. The reason for this is because you cook all the food at home and you get to decide what goes in their mouth. To make it easy for you it’s maybe a good idea to save some money and learn to cook a few healthy meals by taking a course.

Have More Fun

You can never have enough fun. Remember that fun doesn’t need to cost money all the time and you can think of ways to make your children smile without spending anything. The world is a hard place when you get older, so do yourself a favor and do your best to make your children smile as much as possible. When you don’t think it’s possible for them to smile anymore you should make them laugh instead.

About the Author: Pete Newman says that parents must bond well with children to make sure that they don’t harm themselves. He also says that key stroke logging is one of the best ways to keep a check on your kids online activities.

Fire Safety: What Your Kids Know Could Save Their Life

The risk of fire in your home is present in almost every room, from the stove in your kitchen, the electrical cords in your bathroom, to the lamps in your living room. Although it is nearly impossible to eliminate the risk of fire completely, with a little foresight and planning, you can make your home environment a safer place for the ones you love. The best course of action is to not only teach your kids about fire prevention, but also show them what to do should a fire ever occur. There are three main fire topics you should discuss with your children.

Fire Prevention

Smoke detectors are one of the greatest ways to help save your life during a fire. To keep your children mindful of fire safety, ask them to remind you to test your smoke detectors monthly. Your children should be well aware of the piercing sound the smoke detector makes. Teach them that this sound means FIRE and that they must escape immediately. Also, tech your kids about the fire risk in your home and create rules for your children about “adults only” items such as matches, electronics, candles, heaters, and ovens. Some great tips/rules for the home are: 1) Never throw anything over a lamp (such as a blanket), as it can catch fire. 2) Don’t touch matches. If you see any within reach, tell an adult. 3) Don’t stick anything into an electrical socket or play with anything that has a cord. 4) Don’t play around in the kitchen. Ask an adult first before you cook anything. 5) Be careful around stoves, heaters, radiators, and fire places. These things can be extremely HOT and can burn you.

Preparation

The most effective way to getting out of a fire alive is to have an escape plan prepared. Practice your escape plan with your children in every single room in your home, and practice it frequently. Your children should know of at least two ways to escape from each room. The two most important things for your children to remember are: DON’T HIDE, GO OUTSIDE and FALL AND CRAWL. It is easier to breath during a fire on the ground. Additionally, tell kids to test the doorknob with their hand before they open the door. A hot doorknob indicates that a fire is close and that they should consider an alternative route of escape.

Fire Safety

If your child does catch fire, they should know to immediately STOP, DROP, & ROLL until the fire is extinguished. They should NEVER run while on fire because running causes the flames to burn faster. You should discuss a safe meeting place for you and your children to meet after a fire- this could be a landmark or a neighbor’s house. Kids should also know to NEVER GO BACK INSIDE A BURNING BUILDING. The may be tempted to do so if pets or loved ones are still inside, but assure them that that is the job of firefighter.

Remember: prevention, preparation, and safety.

About the Author: John writes for Essential Fire Safety, a leader in home fire safety equipment.

Are You Ready for Kindergarten

I remember when my daughter was close to entering Kindergarten. I had a recurring nightmare that I would forget to register her and show up to school the first day and say, “Here you go.” And hear them say, “Sorry we are full.” It wasn’t until the second grade that this almost happened.

Nevertheless, preparing your child for Kindergarten isn’t as hard as you may think. Children pick up on things as they grow and as long as they can sing their ABCs, count, hop, skip, and jump they are good to go. Reading with your child and providing learning opportunities with other children will prepare them for what’s to come.

As the first day of school quickly approaches there are a few things you may want to do in preparation.

Preparing for Kindergarten

School Registration – This is where I almost got myself in trouble. You think that just because you live near a school your child will get in (okay maybe I am the only one that thinks that). Before you can register your child you first need to determine which school they will be attending. Don’t assume it’s the closest, you never know. Some schools have a limited number of students they can accept so don’t waste any time getting the school’s procedures and policies.

Gather School Information – Learn a few things about the school. Do they have a good report card? Who is the principal? Who will your child’s teacher be? What forms need filled out? What does the Kindergarten program consist of? Can your child take the bus? What food services are available? There are many questions to be answered and you can get most of them before school begins or by attending the school’s Back to School Night.

Child Expectations – Prepare your child ahead of time by knowing the school’s expectations. Sometimes the parent’s expectations and the schools’ differ, for example, the academic program isn’t strong enough. You can meet with the teacher to discuss or consider a different school. If you know what the school expects from your child you can help them meet those expectations.

Visit the School – It goes without saying that you can learn a lot by visiting the school. When you do visit, go with your child and walk the halls, visit the gym, cafeteria, class room and library. Don’t worry about your child getting lost on the first day, or any day for that matter, there are plenty of helpers directing these new students to where they need to go.

Talk with Your Child – Let them know that going to school is a big deal. It is an exciting and special event for both children and parents! BTW – from my experience children are wired to respond to the questions; “How was school today?” and “What did you learn?” with “Good.” and “I don’t know.”

Get Involved – There are plenty of opportunities to get involved with your child’s class. The teacher is always in need of helpers for various activities, field trips and parties. It’s a neat thing to see your kid in the school environment and being the perfect little angel you wish they would be at home.

Starting school is an exciting and nervous time for everyone. It will require adjusting for the whole family but it will be rewarding as your little one just seems that much closer to adulthood.

Dealing with Child Arguing, Complaining and Questioning

At times children can be so well-behaved and then seemingly in an instant, they turn into little monsters. Children are exposed to a variety of influences. School and television are big influences in our kid’s lives but we are the biggest influence and since we cannot always control the messages our children are hearing from television and friends, it is imperative that we are a positive influence.

It feels as if your child is being very disrespectful when they argue with you about everything you say. You could tell them the sky is blue, point to it and they will still find a way to argue. Some children can really push their parent’s buttons by going into auto-complaint mode or constantly questioning and negotiating to the point where the parent hastily, and later, regrettably yells, “SHUT UP!”

Children are naturally curious and want to learn and try things their own way but there is a line between becoming independent and being disrespectful and it is important that they know where that line is and if they cross it there will be consequences.

Before getting into what you can do to help your child you need to first take a look at yourself and ask these questions:

  1. Are you spending enough quality time with your child?
  2. Do you spoil your child?
  3. Are you parenting by example; that is do you handle things in the house by arguing and complaining?

To help your child, evaluate your role as a parent and see what you can do better. For example, Madalyn, age 7, has a tendency to get really nasty, argumentative and bossy after she gets home from childcare. When her parents are preparing dinner she will whine about how hungry she is and gets angry easily. She throws a tantrum when she is told she can’t have the various unhealthy snacks she gets out of the pantry. However, shortly after sitting down for dinner, she becomes a perfect little angel. Madalyn is acting out because her blood sugar is low and she is hungry but her parents are feeling frustrated and disrespected.

It can be difficult dealing with this kind of outburst and attitude. It definitely takes longer to make dinner when you are trying to figure out what is wrong or you have to discipline your child. In cases like this there are some things the parents could do to mitigate the problem. They could give her a healthy snack as soon as she arrives home or send her out to play while preparing dinner. They could also encourage her to help by setting the table, chopping vegetables and getting drinks ready.

Try not to let your emotions overcome you and make you do or say something you will regret. Your child may not be controlling their emotions but as parents we should be able to keep ours in check most of the time.

If your child constantly challenges everything you say and talks back to you, you need to take steps to break this habit. First, realize that children aren’t fully capable of managing their emotions and don’t know how to process fear, anger, anxiety and rage. Any of those emotions may be driving the behavior. Make sure that your child knows that you love them unconditionally, encourage them to talk and listen to what they have to say. Do not immediately shut them down if you are hearing things that are uncomfortable or inappropriate as it is important that your child feels heard and knows it is safe to come to you if they need to talk.

Additional methods for dealing with your child’s behavior include:

  • Taking things away for a period of time such as watching TV or playing the Wii.
  • Time outs – have a certain spot in the home where your child goes for time out.
  • Behavior charts or chore charts are great tools. As your child completes their chores and exhibits appropriate behavior, they are rewarded with a sticker or magnet on the chart. These stickers or magnets can then be used for allowances or special outings. When your child exhibits undesirable behavior, you remove a sticker or magnet.

Children Learn What They Live

Parent by Example because children really do live what they learn.

Children Learn What They Live

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.

If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with jealousy, he learns to feel guilty.

If a child lives with impropriety, he learns to feel shame.

If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.

If a child lives with encouragement he learns confidence.

If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.

If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.

If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.

If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.

If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world.

With what is your child living?

Author: Dorothy Law Neite