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While I was preparing for my upcoming parenting course I started wondering why some parents don’t take advantage of such opportunities.

Busy familyThen I remembered, so well, my struggle with my inner critic before I updated from my simple cell phone to an expensive smartphone, that required a more expensive “data plan”. I didn’t even know what a “data plan” was! I questioned myself endlessly, as I tend to do over expensive purchases. “Do I really need it? Is it worth the expense? And yes, I even answered myself! “I’ve gotten along just fine without it.” “Other people seem to be doing fine without these gadgets.” “It will take too much time to learn about it.” Truthfully, I even felt shame that I knew nothing about smartphones. I felt embarrassed and stupid that I didn’t even know what questions to ask.

When I finally decided to ‘just go for it’—to find out about these smartphones—I remember so well my sense of awe when the salesperson, Stephen, wisely and patiently took his time to show me all the features of what became my first smart phone. A couple of times I even exclaimed, “Wow!” Compared to my boring cell phone this smart phone was definitely SMART—and could make me smarter! These days successful, effective business leaders know that updating is a smart move.

So what does this have to do with parents not taking advantage of parent education opportunities? Well, I wonder if some of the reasons why parents don’t attend parenting workshops are the same reasons why I was reluctant to get a smart phone. I have heard parents say, “Parents should know what to do. It’s just common sense.” “It’s only parents in trouble who need parent education” or “I don’t have time.”

Yet, many of my clients know that keeping updated on the latest information about how to help children grow up to be happy and resilient is a smart move.

For instance, our parents could only have dreamed of the tools available to parents today — tools like learning the skills to become your child’s emotional coach, tools for discipline that promote a child’s self-discipline and self-motivation, strategies for dealing with tantrums effectively. Just learning this one thing—how not to be a “helicopter parent”— whose kids grow up to feel “entitled” or feel too scared to grow up and go out into the real world of work—could prevent a lot of future suffering.

Both parents and children have less stress and enjoy their life together so much more when parents learn such skills.

Just like the smart phone helps us cope with the digital age and the fast pace of our lives,  research-based parent education can help you to prevent your child from going down the slippery slope of internet addiction, a growing, serious problem with youth today. (This is just one of the parenting problems parents, in the past, didn’t have  to worry about.)

Being updated on the latest information on helping children grow up to be happy and resilient is a smart move. For example, some styles of parenting are outdated and make parenting harder. The authoritarian style and the permissive style—or as Barb Coloroso, author of “Kids Are Worth It” called them, the Brick Wall and Jellyfish models of parenting—are outdated and costly to you and your child. You can still use them but they are ineffective and time-wasting, producing poor results. They are as outdated as the typwriter! As with a smart phone, there are more options and more applications in parenting to make your job effective, enjoyable and efficient.

To carry this analogy just a little further, there is so much to learn about raising kids. As I have often said, “Parenting is all learned, not inherited.” The bad news is that learning on the job is inefficient and outdated. The good news is that you can learn how to talk so kids will listen (Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlich), and how to be respected and connected to your children even when you set limits. And you will smile, knowing that not much else in the world really matters more than raising children who believe in themselves and have the gifts of self-respect, inner strength, and a strong moral compass that will guide them throughout their life—even through the hazards of adolescence.

Stephen Covey once commented “There is so much good we that we can do in the world and it all starts in the home.”

 


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Getting Kids’ Sleep Schedule Ready for School

Back to School

Back to School

Summer has its own pace, but school in September demands more routine. It will be easier for both parents and kids to ease into their new school year bedtimes and wake-up times if parents start, two weeks before school begins, to implement a plan.

  1. Start making both wake- up time and bedtimes earlier. Gradually move these times earlier, in small increments, (about 15 minutes every other day, time permitting) as the start of school approaches.
  2.  Plan to do activities earlier in the morning. I encourage outdoor activities as much as possible. It doesn’t help kids to be cooped up inside, and couch time watching screens doesn’t promote good sleep either.
  3. A parent’s mood is contagious. Be calm and cheerful. Avoid interruptions such as answering your phone. This is a valuable time to connect with your children.

Preparation for sleep:

  • The bedroom needs to be dark, quiet and comfortable.
  • Eliminate screen time before bedtime. TV and computers are too stimulating right before bed. Even light from a sleeping computer can make sleeping difficult.
  • Avoid exercising or doing anything too thought-provoking.
  • Limit any caffeine intake in the afternoons and have a healthy diet because quality meals set the stage for successful sleep.
  • Do something quiet, like reading. This sends a signal to the brain that it is time to wind down.

Be prepared to listen to your child’s concerns. When children have an opportunity to voice their concerns they are able to sleep better.

Don’t talk about going back to school too much, especially if your child tends to be anxious.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 60% of U.S children ages 5 to 17 feel tired at some point during the day and 1in 4 feel tired most of the time.
Sleep deprivation diminishes mental performance. Lack of sleep causes temporary loss of I.Q. points (National Institute of Health).

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The National Sleep Foundation suggests the following guidelines for children:

6- to 9-year-olds need about 10 hours of sleep a night.
10- to 12-year-olds need a little over nine hours each night.

Teenagers should aim for eight to nine hours per night.


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The Countdown Begins!

I’ve been teaching/coaching parents for more than 30 years. Yet when the countdown begins for my next workshops my heart still bubbles with joy and anticipation. I look forward to meeting everyone, new faces and old. Even more so, I look forward to sharing the research, information, and resources that have  helped so many amazing parents to be the parent they dreamed of being — calmly managing the most difficult situations.

Knowing that we all want the best for our kids, I teach skills that will help you to stop yelling and shaming. We all know the intense pain of being shamed as a small child, feeling like we are flawed and unlovable.young girl trying to block out sound of parents arguing When we shame our kids we promote behaviours like lying because many kids would rather lie than feel the pain of being shamed.

Children are people too.

The primary difference between healthier families and controlling or permissive families is that parents in healthier families allow children to grow up as persons in their own right.

“If you bungle raising your children, nothing else matters much in life.”

—Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

I enjoy giving parents up-to-date tools that work. I relish parents’ comments afterwards, like “I did that, Win, and I was amazed — it really worked.” These simple tools do work, and perhaps more importantly, they leave your child’s self-esteem intact too. I love to use the analogy that just as you would never use a typewriter again — once you’ve used a computer — you won’t want to  use outdated parenting tools again either, once you learn about these effective, time-efficient tools that truly make parenting easier and more enjoyable!

canstockphoto-2It’s just amazing how — if you make what seem to be small changes — you can change your relationship with your child forever. It will be calmer and more peaceful. And your child will want to co-operate, and listen to you because your child will trust you more. These skills and resources will hold you steady right through the adolescent years.

 


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How to Make Shopping With Young Children Easier

Little Girl Shopping

Children need help to get their needs met.

Remember those spur-of-the-moment, leisurely shopping trips before you had kids? That was then. Now your opportunities to shop are fewer, time allowances are shorter, and rarely is shopping  an “adult only” event.

On a recent shopping trip, I was standing in line, waiting for the next available cashier, and behind me were a mother and her daughter who looked to be about 3 years old. I had met them earlier in the store, when the little girl was trying on a new pair of shoes. Greeting the mom once again, I noticed the little girl taking a bottle of water from a nearby upright cooler. (The cooler had been so strategically placed by the merchant! It was noon. Feeling thirsty and hungry, I too considered buying a cool drink while waiting.) When she asked her mother if she could have it, her mother said, “No, your water is in the car.” When her daughter said, “I want this one,” I heard her mom tell her, “There are things in this water that are bad for you.” Then the child returned the bottle to the cooler and fetched another bottle of water with a different colored label. I thought, “How smart is she! She probably thinks that this one won’t have bad things in it.” When she asked her mother if she could have that one, her mother, sounding irritated, said “You can’t have that water either. I am not buying any water for you, so don’t think that I am! Put it back!” Her daughter looked sad and confused.

I wondered why the mother was mad. This little girl wasn’t doing anything wrong. She just wanted some water and needed her mother’s help. Small children need help from adults to get their needs met. (I wonder if the mother would have responded differently if she had been with an adult friend who was thirsty, and wanted a bottle of water.) Considering that they had been shopping for some time and it was noon, it’s possible that both the mom and her daughter were thirsty, perhaps hungry, and tired from shopping.

Of course, it was the mother’s right to set limits, but this situation was more complicated than simply setting a limit.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Reflection, preparation, and planning make shopping with children more enjoyable. As well, the practices of prioritizing and protecting your child’s schedule for meals, sleep, and playtime make parenting easier, and children happier and more cooperative. For example, this situation may have been prevented if the mother had planned to stop shopping before the child’s lunchtime. Children who are hydrated, fed and rested make happier shopping companions.

Of course, there are some circumstances when parents decide that more flexibility is needed so the child’s routine is set aside. But when parents let go of the child’s routine, the outcomes are more unpredictable. Therefore, more time is needed for preparation and planning for possible outcomes. Parents need to prepare for extending the time for shopping by packing drinks and snacks that will be available when needed. Grown ups are able to wait, children find waiting more difficult. It is age-appropriate for children to feel stressed and irritable when they are thirsty and hungry.

When this kind of preparation and planning doesn’t occur, a shopping trip can, as my girlfriend put it, “turn ugly”. But there are still things that parents can do that may help their children to cope with unmet needs like hunger, thirst, and fatigue — for a short period of time.

  1. Be self-aware. Are you hungry? Tired? Do you feel like blaming your child? Stop immediately and take a deep breath and another one, until you feel calm. The beauty of being the grown up is that you don’t have to be the victim of your feelings. Getting mad at, and blaming, your child for your upset makes everything worse.
  2. Remember that: all children have good intentions and — just because they are children — they all have difficulty waiting, and delaying gratification.
  3. Keep your options open. Reflect and decide if a limit is needed. This is an important decision, but there is no urgency. If you choose to set a limit, then, before voicing the limit, think about how you will support and help your child to cope with the limit. For example, with a positive demeanor you can recognize the child’s wish: “I know you are thirsty and you wish you had some water right now. When we get to our car you will have a refreshing drink of water. You will feel better. Right now, will you please help me and carry your shoes?”
  4. Or, you may decide — just as you already decided to make an exception regarding the child’s schedule — to make another exception and share a bottle of water, relieving stress for you both.
  5. In all situations, let the most important parenting principle be your guide: connection. Look into your child’s eyes, show empathy and stay connected to your child.


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