Monday, December 30, 2013

Is Respect a Part of Your Discipline Method?



I have been asked to speak about positive discipline for only one hour.  As I prepared my presentation, I wondered how I would accurately cover such an important and detailed topic in only one hour.  I come from a generation that grew up with negative discipline and I know that changing a viewpoint based on our own childhood experiences can be difficult.  In order to address my audience and show them that you can teach behavior in a positive way, I realized that I had to find the core of my beliefs about how children should be guided.  When I peel away the layers of philosophy and technique, I realize that I am left with three concepts based on one word:  Respect.

Respect that your children are people with real feelings.   For many generations, children were told not to cry or that they would be given a reason to cry.  If you child is crying, your child has a reason to cry.  No one enjoys crying.  When a newborn baby cries, it is a yell for help.  The same is true of your toddler, preschooler and even your teenager.  The youngest children can feel defeated by your attitude and words.  Every time we invalidate a child’s feelings, we chip away at self-esteem, self-worth and the doors of communication.  When children are frustrated, angry, sad, embarrassed – whatever emotion that is hard for them to handle – it is our job to acknowledge their feelings and give them the tools to cope.  Help your children to calm down from a place of respect and love.  Then discuss the situation.

Respect your child’s viewpoint of the world and his/her ability to learn.  Young children are very egocentric.  They see the world from only their point of view and they assume that everyone else does too.  If they want a toy and try to grab it, they don’t understand why you won’t allow that.  They want the toy – surely you must want them to have it.  Young children cannot understand that their actions impact other people. Unfortunately, we all know adults who have never learned this important lesson.  When we understand and accept that our children see the world differently than we do, we can help teach them.  Our lessons should include coping skills and patient explanations about how other people feel.  Most children gradually become less egocentric and will remember those lessons repeated calmly over and over.  It may not seem like your children are learning when you have to repeat yourself.  They will.  And they will learn more from calm, instructive adults than punitive adults.

Respect the power of positivity and know that negativity only leads to the negative.  A wise person once told me that you cannot fill the air with negativity and expect to get positive things back.  You cannot yell at children, send them to an isolating time out & make them feel demeaned and expect them to grow into self-aware, positive adults.  You cannot send young children to their rooms when you don’t like their feelings and expect them to grow into teens who confide in you.  You cannot stop speaking to your children and expect them to respect you.  You cannot spank them and then get angry when they hit or bully people.  You must live what you want from your relationship from the time your children are infants.  Never forget that you are the adult and you set the tone.  You are the example of self-control, coping skills, calm and communication efforts.  When you view and demonstrate that teaching behavior is as positive as teaching reading, writing & math, you will foster a more positive family environment.

We are teaching and raising children in a time of heightened awareness.  We know more than past generations about how children learn best and how they can develop a healthy self-esteem.  Simply defaulting to ways of the past is not our job.  There was a time when children were seen and not heard.  Subsequent generations learned better.  There was a time when punitive discipline was seen as the only way.  That time is not today.  Consider how your actions and reactions impact your children’s emotional growth. 

All that being said – How will I teach this in just one hour?!



______________________________________________________________________________

Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators on my website - www.helpingkidsachieve.com
                                                      
Copyright 2013 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved
Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.                

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Treasuring Time Off with the Kids



Parenting is forever.  Parenting young children is not.  While we are in the rush and mayhem of running children here & there, completing homework and meeting our own responsibilities, it is easy to forget that we are given one chance to spend winter break  with our children at the age they are today.  Your child will spend one year as that engaging 3 year old or witty 8 year old or maturing 15 year old.  Your children’s world expands every year and, if you do it right, they become more independent all the time.  You cannot go back when they are adults and have this winter break, next weekend or the upcoming summer again.  There are no do-overs.
                          
Treasure the time you have with your children.  I am always sad when parents bemoan school breaks or days off.   I am sad for those parents.  The children will do what children do – they will find ways to play and have fun.  The parents who dread the breaks are the ones who are missing out.  In this hectic world, we all need to take a step back from time to time and remember what it is like to just enjoy what we strive to have – a happy family life.

This year, with Christmas and New Year in the middle of the week, the winter break in many school districts is longer than usual.  I hope you will:

  • Turn off the electronics and talk.  With new video games as holiday gifts, it is going to be tempting to spend time in front of the flat screen, but don’t.  School break is a great time to talk.  When my boys were younger, I remember literally saying to them, “Let’s talk.”  Yes – their eyes sometimes rolled to the back of their heads but I was not afraid.  I asked questions about school and their friends.  I told them about my work and told funny stories.  We smiled, laughed and took time to look each other in the eye. Now that they are grown, that open door of communication has paid off.  You can be the first person they want to go to tell their stories.  Use the days off as a time to build communication.
  • Take family trips – even free, local ones.  School breaks are the perfect time to peak your children’s curiosity.  Visit museums.  Explore local sites and cities.   Take a walk together.  If the weather doesn’t permit outdoor activities, go on an indoor adventure at the library.  Children think it is great fun to have an adventure – no expense is required.  No matter what you do – costly or free – you will be creating a shared memory.
  • Include your children in your responsibilities.  With no homework to do or class to run to, your children can meet your responsibilities with you.  You can cook together or clean together.  Young children feel very grown up when they are asked to help with chores that they associate with their parents.  When they help, be sure to praise their efforts.  Your living room may not be perfectly clean but your children will feel so proud. 
  • Enjoy play with your children.  Not only should the children do what you do, but you should participate in their activities.  Time off from your everyday activities means time to make animals out of Play Doh or paint beautiful watercolor pictures.  Build with blocks.  Feed the baby doll.  Pretend to be superheroes.  While you have matured and cannot pretend with the same level of belief as young children who cannot separate fantasy from reality, you can wonder at their imagination.  When you allow young children to steer the activity and you really listen to them, you learn a lot about how they view their world. 
Enjoy this winter break and all the weekends & days off to come.  Each time you look at your children, remember that every day they grow and change.  They will only be who they are today for a short time.  Don’t miss it.


______________________________________________________________________________

Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators on my website - www.helpingkidsachieve.com
                                                      
Copyright 2013 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved
 
Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.                

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

When Should Your Young Child Stay Home for Illness?



This time of year, it seems that most children are coughing and sniffling.  Coughs and runny noses can linger making it difficult to know when a young child should stay home from school. It is important to remember that when your children are fighting illness, their immune systems are weakened.  They risk not only spreading germs but contracting additional illnesses.  When you are unsure, consider the following:

  • Children who have had fever, vomited, or had diarrhea within the past 24 hours should not be sent to school.  Period.
  • Children who have a rash, symptoms of pink eye, lice or any other contagious diseases should be examined and cleared for school by a physician.  Preschools and public schools can provide you with the list of reasons that students are not permitted in school.
  • You can tell a great deal about how your child feels by observing behavior.  Children who are lethargic, not eating, not playing and/or are unusually cranky or annoyed by symptoms are not well enough to be in school.  When children play and behave normally when not on any medication, they are feeling better.  The temporary relief provided by Tylenol or other medication will not last and gives a false impression of your child’s well being.  As soon as the medicine wears off, the children go right back to being lethargic. 
  • Whenever you are unsure, ask yourself if you would be able to function at work with your child’s symptoms.  It isn’t true that your child will feel better when distracted at school.  Just like you try to function at work when feeling ill but don’t quite succeed, children have a hard time in school.  Once they are running around your house normally, they will do the same at school.  The ability to function doesn’t change from place to place.

As a parent when my boys were young, I learned through trial and error that my instincts were usually right.  When I was unsure and sent them anyway, I would inevitably get a phone call from the school.  Follow your instincts. 


______________________________________________________________________________

Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators on my website - www.helpingkidsachieve.com
                                                      
Copyright 2013 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved
 
Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.                

Thursday, December 5, 2013

What Ever Happened to “For the Love of It”?



When I was a teenager, I took tennis lessons.  The instructor told my parents that I had a strong backhand.  He did not suggest that I would be making it to Wimbledon nor was that any sort of expectation.  I took lessons because I enjoyed the sport.  Being a champion wasn’t the goal.  I knew many kids who played recreational sports, took dance lessons, voice lessons and a plethora of other activities.  We did it because we enjoyed it.  We went to school and were encouraged to love learning.  Our teachers had the freedom to tailor projects and lessons based on the students’ needs.  I remember standardized tests being administered every few years but no one taught to them.  We were taught to think and analyze.  That was what enabled us to pass.

What has happened to doing things for the love of it - for the love of the sport, the challenge, the knowledge?  What has caused a shift in the tectonic plates that has so many people believing that the goal is to be paying (yes paying – not a typo) for elite teams, competitions and endless tutors?  Some children are more talented than others.  Not everyone is a potential Olympian who will also dance his/her way to the Broadway stage.  If I had a dime for every parent who came to me to tell me that their child was selected for an elite something – well, you know the rest.  Some children are more academically gifted than others.  It’s always been that way.  It wasn’t always a competition to see how many Advanced Placement classes they can survive.  I understand that the price of college is exorbitant and scholarships are a necessary goal for many.  I don’t understand when teens tell me that perfect isn’t good enough.  What are we doing to them?

Depression, anxiety and stress related illnesses are on the rise. We have an obligation to this generation and future generations to figure out why and what we can do to bring back “for the love of it.”  When we do things for the love of it, we are fulfilling our purpose and feeding our soul.  When all we do is compete, we miss the whole point of living.  I believe that studies will show the following have played a role in the demise of doing things for enjoyment:


  • Reality Shows – Anyone can be famous and become wealthy for absolutely nothing.  They require no talent.  One good story pitch, a hook that will make people leave their own issues to watch yours, a particular look or previous scandal and voila! You will make more money than you could imagine.   If they can become famous, surely our little ball players and dancers and singers can be rich and famous too! 
  • An Educational System Based on Standardized Testing  My heart goes out to the teachers who want to teach.  Teaching is a creative process that should spark the creativity in others.  The focus on standardized testing has vacuumed all of the creativity out of the process.  Far too much time is spent teaching to tests when we should be fostering critical thinking skills.  We should be letting students build their knowledge by being creative participants in the learning process.  We should be encouraging students to be the next inventors, innovators and explorers, not the next best memorizers.
  • The Change in Employment Needs in the USA – So many jobs no longer exist in the United States. The job market changed drastically as manufacturing jobs left and technology took the place of humans.  Many industries are flooded with too many qualified applicants and too few positions.  The job market changed so rapidly that we couldn’t change course quickly enough.  With manufacturing all but gone in this country, having a college degree has become essential and the norm.  Competition for college acceptance and the realities of unemployment have caused such fear that students are pressured far beyond their developmental ability to cope.  There is no time for pleasure, leisure and exploration.  They must produce.

Competition has its place.  It is good to have goals, strive, succeed and even fail.  All of that prepares children for the ups and downs of adult life.  While we recognize the good, we must also examine what we have lost.  There was a joy in playing ball just for fun.  There was a purpose to those school trips and projects that emphasized the learning process.  We can love activities without being the best, the Olympian, the record holder.  Even more important, we are better able to help our children prioritize, set realistic goals and understand quality of life when we acknowledge the need to do “for the love of it.”
______________________________________________________________________________

Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators on my website - www.helpingkidsachieve.com
                                                      
Copyright 2013 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved
 
Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.