Monday, July 16, 2012

Mom's 5 Year Old Loves to be Outside...

Today's post comes from one of my radio interview listeners~

"I'm a stay at home mom with a 5 year old who loves to be outside. After a few hours, I'm tired and want to come inside; he cries and throws a fit. Help!"

As with most of my responses, I feel it's important to try and discover the reason for the fit; then it's typically easier to find the fix. In this case, we are thinking that this mom's son is having too much fun playing outside, and he equates going inside to putting the brakes on the fun.

With that said, perhaps it would work if, before going outside to play, Mom does a little pre-planning ...

Since we are talking about a five year old, we will use the outdoor activity of digging in the dirt as an example; however, you will be able to restructure this around many playtime activities. Before going outside, explain to your child that you are going to play together, and that you are going to plant some veggies or herbs or whatever ...

In advance, set up a play station (notice there are no title caps there!) inside by covering a table with newspapers, and arranging clay pots or plastic containers from last night's take-out. Then, head outside with some plastic containers and digging equipment. Remember to have fun with this ... and make it last for as long as possible. Look for worms, bugs, whatever ... and remember, it's OK to be grossed out by them, Mom!

Then, carry the fun (bug-free dirt, seeds, or small plants and roots) into the house. Now you can spend as much time as possible inside ... but still playing and having fun together. This will accomplish several things; my three favorites for this scenario are:

1. Distracting from the fact that you are coming inside,
2. Slyly demonstrating an indoor/outdoor connection, and
3. Teaching by turning this into a 'disguised' lesson in agriculture!

Later, as you watch your plants grow, you can build in nutritional lessons. And even later, cooking lessons as you use your homegrown ingredients!

Hint: if you are like me, and don't have a very green thumb, herbs are a great option ... especially hearty ones that grow under almost anyone's care :). I loved to do this with mint which grows like the weeds most people try to get rid of! We experimented with fresh-squeezed lemonade, fresh-brewed iced tea, and even cooked dishes!

Have fun with this, and please let me know how you spin this to work for you!

Meanwhile, happy digging~

Monday, July 2, 2012

Is Your Antenna Up? ... What is Your Parenting Style?

(OK, for those of you who don't recognize the image here ... they were called 'rabbit ears' back in the 'dark ages!' ... I will now choose to ignore the fact that I just dated myself, and will start right in to my article ...)

I don't know about you, but I believe that we have a tendency to make the simplest things in life so darn difficult! Parenting is one of those things ... and, well, perhaps it is at the top of my list because I am a Parenting Coach; however, it does seem to be a very common issue. With that said, I think it is important for us to acknowledge that we are all just doing the best that we can. And, for those of you who are looking for ways to improve that, kudos! Your antenna is up, and you are tuned in ... so, what exactly are you supposed to be listening for?

If you are like me, 'information overload' does one main thing ... it shuts me down. Once my brain gets over stimulated, it seems like there is no returning to rational thinking. As a result, I like to break things down into a simple formula, with a clear goal at the end.

Perhaps our goal here should be to merely get to know the different types of parenting, and try to fit yourself into one of those categories. Once you do so, you can then decide if that is where you want to be; if not, you can see what you might want to do differently in order to get the results you'd like to see in your child.

That might sound simple enough until you begin researching ... Well, I've done a little of that, and simplified it so that I could apply it to real life instead of the clinical studies. Here's what I've come up with:

While psychologists have designated three main types of parenting (Authoritarian, Permissive and Authoritative) in real life, we see that some parents are a combination of 2 or all 3, given the circumstances. Sometimes, you will have different methods between parents under the same roof, or with a split family.

This morning, during a radio interview, the show's host asked me the difference between Authoritative Parenting and Positive Parenting. I thought this would be a good time to lay this one out for a quick read. By definition, Authoritative Parenting is basically a form of Positive Parenting.

It is not my goal to debate parenting skills here. Again, instead, I am merely outlining the information, and giving you pause for thought.

Of the three types of parenting styles, the Authoritarian parent typically enforces strict rules with no input from children, their emphasis is primarily on bad as opposed to good behavior, and punishment is usually severe. Children rarely receive rave reviews for good behavior and may tend to have low self-esteem or may turn out to be very aggressive later in life.

Permissive Parenting is where parents let children have free rein; rules made are not consistently adhered to, and the parent gives freedom to the child without proper guidelines on what is right or wrong. As a result, children may find it difficult to follow rules in a different environment like school.

Authoritative Parenting is where the parents set rules and involve their children in making those rules. They reinforce good behavior (rewarding it), while correcting in a positive vs. focusing on repercussions of bad behavior. They monitor their child’s behavior closely, finding opportunities to "catch" good behavior as often as possible, and they communicate in a clear manner what is expected from the child so they understand the difference between good and bad behavior.

Again, Authoritative Parenting is really just a good example of positive parenting. With this approach, children tend to grow up with appropriate behavior ingrained in them, which helps enable them to fit in most environments and perform well in whatever they undertake. They also demonstrate traits like honesty, respect, and integrity, and are less likely to break rules. Benefits of positive parenting are clearly important in molding children to live up to their full potential and become worthy members of society. These are characteristics of a child with high self-esteem.

As a Certified Self-Esteem and Parenting Coach, I can go on and on about the benefits of raising a child with high self-esteem; however, the purpose of this article was merely an opportunity to get your wheels spinning and raise your antenna a little more. Once you are able to tune in to what is going on around you, and examine how you are reacting, you can choose whether or not adjustments are needed to help ensure that you will get the results you are hoping for.

When you are satisfied with those results, you've got a happy child, and well ... that makes for a happy parent!

Here's to happy parenting~