Archive for ‘Parenting’

February 24, 2014

Parenting is a lot Like Going to Disneyland…

Come on Mom - CopyToday I realized something. I realized that parenting is a lot like going to Disneyland with your children.  You think that you are going for you kids’ enjoyment.  But at the end of the day (if you go on a non-busy day), you realize you had just as much fun, if not more fun, than your kids did.

Children will never fully realize what you have done for them.  Even though I am a parent now, I still don’t fully grasp or give credit or even ample gratitude for what my parents have done for me.  I just know it comes down to, “They love me and I love them back.”

As a parent it can be a little daunting to think, “Why should I toil and sacrifice for these little ones if they are never going to fully appreciate what I have done for them?”  But then I realized that raising my children is not just for them, it is for me too.

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February 2, 2014

Thanks for Being a “Piece”-Maker

IMG_4600Being a peacemaker is something we talk a lot about in our home.  My husband and I are trying to teach our kids how to lower their voices, apologize to end a fight, not moan or make a fuss when asked to do something, and the list goes on and on.  You know, all of those things you work on daily to maintain or bring peace to your home.  I was thinking about Valentine’s Day coming up and trying to come up with a way to bring more love into our home, and this play on words popped into my mind.  I’ve tried it out a few days and the kids love it.  They really feel good when I have caught them being a peacemaker and ask them to please help themselves to a piece of candy.  I think I’ll pull this jar out at other holidays as well.  Heaven knows, peace is something worth striving for all year long.

May 24, 2013

The Most Effective Parenting Technique for Young Children (Hint: It’s not Time-Outs)…

IMG_0759Meet “Quackers,” a common guest in our bathroom for the past year-and-a-half.  He visits almost every night to chat with my 5-year-old daughter as she goes to the bathroom.  Yes, maybe I am the one doing the talking for him, but it is definitely Quackers who is telling me what to say.  If he is lucky, my daughter will feed him a pretend Oreo as she sits down to go to the bathroom.  This is Quacker’s favorite treat.

Why, you may ask, do we talk to our shower curtain every night?  Well, I’ll tell you. My daughter (then age 4) would hold off going to the bathroom as long as she could.  One day, to entice her to come and give it a try, I started to pretend that Quackers (whom she later named) was talking to her and wanted her to come visit him.  Sadly, he could only talk once she was on the potty.

I’ll give you another example and introduce you to Cordelia.  This same daughter has to have a monthly contact placed on her eye by a technician.  We moved and our new technician had a difficult time actually getting the contact in her eye.  For two months in a row it took three individual hour-long sessions to finally successfully get the contact in her eye.

When the third month came along, the technician and I devised a plan where the contact was held in a taco shape that would open and close to act as a mouth to ‘talk’ to my daughter. We quickly decided on the name “Cordelia the Contact,” and the two just really hit it off.  Cordelia pleaded to please be allowed in my daughter’s eye, where she would have great fun.  My daughter decided to hold her eye open just a moment longer, and the contact went in her eye.  It took only three tries as opposed to three full hour appointments.

Utilize your children’s imagination.  This is a magical time.  Not only does it motivate your children, they enjoy playing make-believe with you.  You might feel silly, but give it a try.  Anything will do.  Most of the time when I use this technique, I grasp at my limited creativity and come up with something that is utterly ridiculous.  But it still works.  And you know what?  I always come away feeling really good inside. For explanation’s sake, let me provide one more example.

Let’s say your son needs to clean up his toys.  You can act startled and say, “Do you hear that?!?  A toy-eating dinosaur is coming.  Oh no!  I heard another foot-step!  Hurry, I’ll help you.  We can’t let him eat your toys!”  Notice that I said “I’ll help you.”  That is key.  The reason this technique works is because you are doing it with your child.

Our Quacker visists are less frequent now, but just this past weekend while visiting her Grandpa my daughter noticed a duck-shaped soap dispenser in his bathroom and said, “Look, Quackers came with us,” and had a nice conversation with him.

Your children love you and love to spend time with you.  Your children also love make-believe.  Why not utilize this to help you with your parenting needs? Don’t miss out on this magical time of your children’s lives.

February 13, 2013

Love Note Journals

This morning my friend and her older daughter (in the “tweens”) noticed the love note journals I have with my two daughters.  I explained we just write each other notes back and forth.  YesThe daughter said, “That’s cool!” And her Mom replied with, “Should we start to do that?”  That’s when I realized this idea might be worth sharing.  I’ve been doing this with my girls for a few years now, and this is what you do:

* Buy a hard-bound spiral notebook.  Our first journal was flimsy and didn’t last very long.

* Every few days, weeks, months or whenever, write your child a note.  It helps to end your note with a question.  Be sure to date your note because it is fun to look back on.

* Place the journal open to the latest entry in a place your child will find it.  Make sure there is a pen nearby.  I find that I usually think to write a note late at night before I go to bed and leave it waiting on the breakfast table.

Enjoy the sweet notes from your babies.  It really is the simple things in life.

January 21, 2012

“Mom, can you take these Legos apart for me?”

My daughters have been given a Lego set two Christmas’ in a row.  They love Legos, and I have to admit they are pretty awesome.  However, secretly they are a bit of a pain.  If I am not accidentally stepping on one, vacuuming one up, or helping my child find a specific piece that is probably lost, I am being asked “Mom, can you help me take these apart?”  You know what I’m talking about – those two pieces stuck together by what seems like super glue.  I have tried using my nails, my teeth, and my brute strength, all producing mediocre results.  That is until my husband thought up a fabulous idea requiring a cutting board and a knife.  Place the cemented Legos on their side.  Gently ease the point of one of your least favorite knives into the space between both Legos and they will pop apart every time.

So next time your child asks, “Mom, can you take these Legos apart for me?”  You can say, “Bring it on!”

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December 12, 2011

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

When your children are young, say age 2,  you read them books that they won’t be able to read for themselves until they are at least 5 or 6.    Why do we stop doing this?  When your children are older and can read to themselves, we stop reading to them.  Why?

If you are anything like me, when I starting teaching my oldest her letters, sounds, and then words, I began reading her more and more books that were closer to her reading level than to her listening level.  I hadn’t realized what a mistake I was making until I read the advice provided in Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook.  In fact, Trelease goes as far as to say, “You are insulting a 6-year-old’s brain cells if you are still reading them Cat in the Hat or Hop on Pop.”  Notice the logo on these books that says, “I Can Read It All by Myself.”  They should be practicing reading it to you, not vice versa. These books only have 225 words–words that your children have understood since they were 4.  Your 6-year-old has a 6,000 word vocabulary and can listen to stories with more intricate plots.

I’m sure you probably need no encouragement to read to your child; we all can agree that it is important.  What I want to share are concepts I learned from this book when I read it over a year ago that have absolutely bettered my life as a parent and strengthened my bond with my girls.

Take-Away #1: Read 3-4 years ahead of your child’s grade/age.  Their “listening level” is much higher than their “reading level.

I didn’t really believe this concept when I first read it, but I thought it was worth a try.  I first read a great book called Stone Wolf by Robert Gardiner to my then kindergartener.  Not only could she understand it, she never wanted me to stop.  We went on to read the first three Little House on the Prairie books.  This created a lasting change in my oldest.  She is “such a Laura,” as she puts it, and wishes she could live on the prairie.  She also became much more grateful for gifts when she realized how very little Laura, Mary, and Carrie were given for Christmas and how grateful they were to receive it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love picture books and we read them every night.  But after a few, our night has just begun and we move onto something with a bit more depth. If you have a preschooler, I find this quote helpful in figuring out what Trelease is advising: “I’m not suggesting we abandon picture books.  Instead, add a few novel pages and then a daily chapter to the picture books you read to preschoolers.”

Reading books equal to their listening level builds background knowledge so that your child will be better equipped at school.  Simply stated, they will bring more knowledge to the table. Trelease finds that a child’s listening and reading level normally even out around 8th grade.  The one thing to consider is if the subject matter matches their maturity level.  If you start to read a book and realize that is not a good choice (too mature, boring, etc.), he encourages abandoning it and trying a new one.  Reading should be enjoyable for everyone.

Take-Away #2: Read all the time for as long as you can.

Reading doesn’t only have to occur at bedtime.  For example, you can read at the dinner table or while your children are eating their afternoon snack, and you can also provide books all around the house and even in the car.  If you have more than one child, plan to read to each at the appropriate level, and be prepared for this to take more time.  One of my favorite quotes from Trelease is, “Parenting is time-consuming, time-investing–but not time-saving.”  One time we read Old Yeller by Fred Gipson, and my husband really got into it and did most of the reading.  Since it was a classic that he had not read, it was not hard to find the time to read because he wanted to read it as well.

Take-Away #3: Keep reading-aloud to your child through all the grades.

I always figured that you stopped reading to children once they could read by themselves, but this is not so.  The Commission on Reading has said, “Almost as big a mistake as not reading to children at all is stopping too soon.  Reading should continue through the grades.” Reading together is an experience that will only strengthen your bond as you continue this tradition throughout your child’s life. I’m sure the amount of time you give it or the time of day you do it might change, but it should be part of your relationship.  I have little experience with this concept so far since my oldest is 7; however, I am glad to have read this book to help me realize this is something I want to incorporate into my parenting.

My Personal Experience:

I have been practicing these concepts for over a year now, and hands down, this book has proven to be the most important parenting book I have read.  Utilizing Trelease’s suggestions has increased my children’s vocabulary, reading level, and attention span.  Also, it has strengthened our bond and created a comfortable forum where I can talk with my girls about anything.  And even if none of the above were true, it is just plain fun.  I enjoy reading these books as much as they do, and look forward to reading many more with them in the future.

August 27, 2011

The Law of the Harvest

I learned early on that if you “harvest” food with your children, they are much more likely to eat and enjoy that food.  “Harvest” can mean having your child garden with you, go to U-pick farms with you, pick out the food at the grocery store with you, or cook with you.  I have seen this principle work time and time again with my children.  For example, today I made Sushi with my 4-year-old daughter.  I was using canned wild salmon.  She looked at it and said, “Oh, is that tuna? Can I have some?”  Now first of all, she does not even like tuna.  So I said, “Here try some.”  She liked it, so I decided to tell her it was salmon and she said, “Oh, I LOVE salmon!”  She kept eating it out of the can.  I couldn’t believe it.  I know this was all because she was “harvesting” the food with me.

I knew this principle worked on children, but I did not realize it worked on adults as well.  We recently went to a nearby U-pick farm to pick blueberries.  I like to eat frozen blueberries every day in my smoothie, but I do not like them raw.  I was encouraged by the owners to eat what I wanted while picking.  I hesitantly tried one, just to make sure I was picking them at the right color, and it was really good.  I couldn’t believe it, I ate more and more.  I was sure to tell the farmer how his blueberries had converted me.  The law of the harvest worked on me (as well as the law of how much better fresh produce tastes).