7 Simple Steps to Handle Any Parenting Situation

  1. Listen. Pause and listen to your child before springing into action or firing back a response. This means zipping your lip, biting your tongue, and accepting that a little parental silence can go a long way.
  2. Let your child know you “get it.” Validate your child by repeating back a bit of what he or she said, even if you disagree or know they’re completely off base! This will open your child’s ears so your great suggestions are actually heard.
  3. Be respectful. Talk to your child the same way you would to a friend or to someone else’s child. Use this rule of thumb: If, in the future, it wouldn’t be okay for your child’s significant other to say it, you shouldn’t say it either.
  4. Set limits and boundaries. Choose limits that you’re willing to keep based on the situation at hand, not what happened yesterday or last year. This teaches your child that limits and boundaries are flexible, necessary, and that he or she can handle them.
  5. Take responsibility. Own your successes and apologize for your mistakes. Give yourself a do-over if you need it. Know that genuinely apologizing to your child is one of the most powerful things you can do, and the best way to teach your child to be accountable.
  6. Have fun! When things get busy, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the routine and overlook the fact that your kids are fun. Don’t be afraid to stop the daily grind to laugh or get silly. Take time to notice the little things your child does or says that bring you joy.
  7. Practice self-care. Take great care of yourself so you can take great care of your kids. Know that even the best parenting plan or strategy won’t work well if you’re always exhausted or depleted. Make self-care a priority and do it unapologetically—your kids are counting on you!

By Stephanie O’Leary, Psy.D., Author of Parenting in the Real World

About the Author:

Stephanie O’Leary, Psy.D. is a Clinical Psychologist specializing in Neuropsychology, mom of two, and author of Parenting in the Real World. She provides parents with a no-nonsense approach to navigating the daily grind while preparing their child for the challenges they’ll face in the real world. www.stephanieoleary.com  

 

How Do You Know When You Are Done Parenting?

5 Categories to Assess Your Child’s Wellbeing

By Erick Lauber, Ph.D.

the-family-unitFor many parents, when their children enter the teen years, things get more confusing. When the kids were younger it was kind of easy, or at least simpler. Keep them safe. Make sure they eat healthy.  Let them know they are loved, etc…

But when the kids are teens, “good parenting” gets harder and harder to define.  Are you supposed to step in and fight their battles for them, or hang back and let them figure it out on their own? Can you prevent heartbreaks or must you only provide counseling afterwards?  And does anyone know exactly what do to about sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll?  When are you done parenting?

If you survey your friends about this question you might get responses like, “when your children are independent,” or “when they can take care of themselves.”  But how shall we define “independent?”  When are our kids grown up? Does it magically happen one day, perhaps, the day they graduate high school or move out?  Those seem like arbitrary dates and not all kids mature at the same rate, right?

If we focus on what really worries parents, that their children will not grow up happy, healthy and wise, we are lead in a different direction. For example, most – if not all – parents have been focused on taking care of their child’s “future self,” not just the present one.  Responsible parents have been denying their children candy in the grocery aisle, getting them up for school every day, and making a thousand other decisions knowing that these choices will be best for their child in the long run.

So, one answer to our question is “when the young adult starts making decisions that are in the best interests of their future selves, not just meeting their current wishes or needs.”

So what does that look like?  How shall we define a “happy, healthy and wise person” and how will we know when our children are headed in the right direction?

Wellbeing

Fortunately, these questions are somewhat answerable. The Gallup organization has been studying life satisfaction and individual happiness for many, many years.  Their concept of the good life is informed by millions of survey responses and top notch social scientists.  Their results support our intuitive notion that we all want basically the same things.  Gallup has combined these few universals into a concept called “wellbeing.”  When we are doing well in each of these categories, we give ourselves very high scores on wellbeing.

For our purposes, these five categories allow us to break down the question “is our child headed in the right direction?” into five more specific questions.  Our child will do well in life and have high wellbeing down the road if they are taking care of themselves in the areas of career, social, physical, financial and community wellbeing.

  1. Career

The Gallup organization has discovered that the single most important element of one’s wellbeing is a person’s self-evaluation of their career wellbeing.  This question is not about how much money you make, but instead about how much you enjoy what you do on a daily basis. Part of our job as parents is to help our children select and get in to a career they will enjoy.  This doesn’t mean we have to find the right job for them, or even select their college major. It means we have to help our children understand enjoying your work is very, very important.  As they understand themselves better and better, they have to be responsible for making their careers, and thus their lives, enjoyable.

  1. Social

Similarly, we cannot make relationship decisions for our children, but we can pull back on parenting when we can see they are taking care of themselves and their future selves in this arena.  Are they forming strong bonds with people at work or school? Does it look like these relationships will last for years?  Are they able to navigate brief disruptions in those relationships?  Are they forward-looking in their choice of a spouse?

  1. Physical

We as parents have been taking care of our children’s physical health for quite some time. How are they doing in that department? Are they doing the day to day things that will lead to a long term healthy life style? Are they avoiding major risk factors that could create catastrophic results for their health and wellbeing? We might disagree as parents in the specifics, but if we step back and assess the overall pattern, is our child on their way to being a healthy, productive adult?

  1. Financial

Can our child manage money?  Many parents will “test drive” their teenagers’ financial decisions by either giving them their own money, maybe as an allowance, or encouraging them to get a part-time job.  Though we won’t agree with every buying decision, we want to know is our child learning about the importance of money, and whether or not they can save for big things instead of spending it all right now.

  1. Community

Finally, the Gallup organization has found a significant correlation in an individual’s self-reported wellbeing  and  their involvement in their community. Volunteering is a significant contributor to our happiness and can inoculate us from stress and other negative emotions.  Does our child show any tendency toward this kind of sacrifice and involvement? Do they belong to clubs or service organizations? Do they understand the importance of volunteering?

To answer the question “when are we done parenting?” we must have a goal in mind. Wellbeing is at least one way of answering and describing what we want our children to achieve throughout their lives. As we begin to think about when our jobs as parents might be winding down, we can use the five categories of the Gallup organization’s wellbeing index as a way to ask more specific questions about whether our child is not just taking care of their present needs and wants, but also their future selves.  Though all of us know our roles are parents will never really be over, it is completely acceptable to say the job can evolve.  The kind of parent we want to be is someone who can celebrate, from the sidelines, our child’s happiness and wellbeing.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erick Lauber, Ph.D. is an applied psychologist and faculty at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He speaks and consults on personal growth and development, life balance and change. He has won 19 educational TV/film awards and is published in numerous journals and psychology conferences. For more information, please visit www.ErickLauber.com or call 724-464-7460.

Are You Doing Too Much For Your Child?

by Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D

lazy-teenOne of my clients, Katherine, came in yesterday and told me that she was feeling frustrated with her son’s behavior. “Today I asked Evan repeatedly to take out the garbage and he just kept saying, ‘Later, Mom.’ I finally did it myself, but I was so angry and resentful,” she explained. “And it’s not only the trash – it’s more important things, like finishing schoolwork. I do virtually everything for Evan – to the point where sometimes I’m exhausted – and he never seems to take any responsibility himself.”

When I asked Katherine why she continued in this way, she said, “I suppose it’s because I felt my parents never did anything for me…and I don’t want Evan to ever feel that way.”

I replied, “I can see this is hurting you – but do you realize you may be hurting Evan, too?”

Katherine’s overprotective parenting style stems from her own sense of neglect, but there are other reasons parents may overcompensate and feel they must do everything for their child.

Fear of dire consequences can cause a parent to step in, e.g., “If I don’t finish the science project for her, she’ll fail the class and never get into college,” or “If I don’t remind him to get to soccer practice on time every day, he’ll get cut from the team.”

Feelings of anxiety about the world in general can drive parents to take control or indulge their children excessively, in the belief that they can keep their child from ever being hurt or disappointed. For instance, “If I let him walk to his friend’s house alone, he may be kidnapped,” or “If I don’t buy her those expensive jeans, she says she just has to have, the other girls will make fun of her and ostracize her from their crowd.”

Although “do-everything” parents have good intentions, they can actually instill their own anxiety in their child. Parents who hover over and micro-manage their children at school functions or during play dates, because they themselves are uncomfortable in social situations, may create children who will mirror that same unease and apprehension.

Studies have shown that an overprotective parent can harm a child by engendering a lack of self-agency, the feeling that they are the agents that can produce a desired outcome, not the parent. Similarly, overprotective parents impede the development of self-efficacy, the sense that one has the capacity to take effective actions. Individuals with diminished self-efficacy are less resilient to stress and underestimate their own resources.

Children who have everything done for them lose the chance to develop valuable coping skills, to gain self-confidence and to learn to bounce back from failure when necessary.

So, if you catch yourself doing too much for your child, step back and give him or her a chance to learn to be more independent –– perhaps at first with a struggle, but later with ease.  Chances are you’ll both feel better about yourselves.

Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D has been a psychologist in private practice for 30 years. She is the director of the Center for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Farmington Hills, near Detroit. www.anxiety-treatment.com

Leading through Effective Communication

by Eric Papp

ear-listenHow to Listen
“You’re not listening to me.” “You don’t understand.” There is a good chance you’ve heard one of these two lines before.

One of the best skills a leader can utilize is their ability to effectively listen and ask questions to their people.

While I was out speaking across the country I discovered something that changed me forever. It was a skill that I had but didn’t master it and utilize to my ability.

Once I started to put it into daily practice my audience evaluations went up along with my sales and I found myself as one of the top management trainers in the country.

What was it?

Well…after I graduated from Notre Dame I looked back on the lessons I learned and one of them came from a house keeper in O’Neill Hall. Her name was Ms. Leitha.

She taught me how to effectively listen.

Great leaders are those that have mastered the skill of listening not talking.

Here is a simple system for Increasing Influence and Effectiveness by becoming a better listener.

Step 1. Listen w/ liking. I have discovered that over 70% of all altercations (personal/professional) are due to some form of a communication mishap. And that is a direct result of poor listening or prejudging the person before they speak.

Miss Leitha listened to everyone and it didn’t matter if you were a popular football player, book worm or a socially shy person. She liked everyone and her listening demonstrated this.

When people came to my seminars I would mainly speak to the people that were friendly and that liked me. I focused just on them and neglected other audience members. If I liked you I would give you time and attention. Ever been guilty of it?

I quickly discovered that some people might not outwardly show their liking and you have to be open to all folks. When I put this into practice of not judging and doing my best effort to connect with everyone I saw an increase in my scores and sales.

What does listening with dislike look like for you?

  • Not fully listening to your co-workers because you don’t really care for them
  • Preaching to your children instead of listening
  • Listening with one ear to your boss because you dislike them

When you listen with liking you are opening up both ears and are not making any judgments before the conversation begins.

Step 2. Listen w/ your eyes. In our society filled with iPhones, Blackberries, and computer screens giving someone our eyes can be a forgetful habit.

Miss Leitha always made eye contact and reflected your feeling with her eyes. It was incredible it’s like her body language said, “I understand you.”

When I was doing seminars I would often multi-task when people came up and talked to me at the break and at the end of the day. Even though I could usually do both, I discovered that it was frustrating to the person who is talking.

When I made eye contact with a person they would open up to me more and we had a more meaningful conversation.

When talking to a small child you’ll often find they will open up a lot more when you are eye level. This way you don’t come off so tall and intimidating.

Ever try and tell your children something when they were in the next room? Do you find yourself having to repeat it? It can be frustrating because you’re not sure they understand you. Our eyes allow us to send a signal of confirmation.

Step 3. I’m not the focus. The next time you are listening to someone see if you can count how many times you say the word I.

When we listen we like to “advice dump” I would do this…, I went through the same thing, if I were you…

This is a great way to frustrate the other person by jumping into I mode without understanding them.

The act of really listening requires you take the focus off of you and put it on them. When people want our advice they will usually ask for it.

Un-solicited advice is like talking to someone in a language they don’t understand.

Even though Miss Leitha was full of wisdom and experience she always put the focus on who she was listening.

During my seminars I found myself referencing my own history rather than making it about them. I discovered I was more influential when I stopped advice dumping and just listened.

Step 4. Another Time. You’ll know you have started adapting world class listening when people come back another time. Your employees will keep coming back if you’ve done a great job at listening to them. This type of connection is key because not only do they enjoying talking to you there is also probably a high level of trust they place in you.

As I became a better listener I was amazed how much people opened up to me. During the breaks from the seminar I would have people share information with me that they wouldn’t tell their boss or other co-workers.

Miss Leitha was also one of those people that you came back for another time.

Start applying these ideas in your life and see how you will not only become a better listener but you will have a better relationship with those around you. Listening is only the first part of the equation. The second part is to start asking more questions.

How to ask questions that will make your child open up

Have you ever asked a question and gotten half an answer from someone? Or do you find yourself asking one or two questions then jumping into lecture mode?

A great way to get people to open up is to think of an onion. That’s right an onion. And no I’m talking about making them cry. An onion contains many layers before getting to the core of the matter. Think of every layer as a question that you ask that will help you to the core of every issue.
onion-asking questionsExample.
Your 16 yr. old son comes home from school and is upset. He tells his mom he wants to quit school.
Mom asks why? He responds, “I got a bad grade on my math test.”
Mom only uncovers one layer and then goes into lecture mode “You need to stay in school.” “Do you know how hard I work to support you?” “When I was your age…
What do you think the outcome will be?
Instead of going into lecture mode, or listening biographically and saying “I would do, When I was your age, I had a situation
Uncover the layers to get to the real meaning by asking questions and keeping your emotional intelligence (your cool)

Another way of handling the same situation with your son is to uncover the layers and asking these possible questions.

  1. What happened at school today triggered this reaction?
  2. So… you want to quit school because you got a bad math grade?
  3. How much did you prepare for the test?
  4. How did other people do on the test?
  5. What would you do differently next time?
  6. Is there anything else going on?

After you have asked all these questions you discover the real reason he wants to quit school wasn’t the math test at all. The real reason your son wants to quit school is so that he can get a job, start making money, and buy his first car to impress his friends.

You wouldn’t figure this out if you hadn’t kept asking questions.

Each question represents a layer of information leading you to the core. The core is the real reason.

Don’t be tempted to jump into lecture mode remember you’ll have a greater chance of communicating if you listen intently and keep asking questions. Good luck and start unpeeling those layers.

More helpful hints on communication can be found in the book “Leadership by Choice” Increasing Influence and Effectiveness through Self-Management. On Amazon.com.

About Eric Papp
Eric Papp is a nationally recognized keynote speaker and management trainer in the area of leadership. He is the author of a new book “Leadership by Choice” His clients include Homeland Security, Nationwide Insurance, FL Realtors, American Dental Association, and more. His website is EricPapp.com.

Who Can Comfort Your Child?

Written by Cindy Pertzborn, author of How Do We Get To Heaven?

When your kindergartener feels alone on the playground, where can she turn for comfort?  When your 8-year-old is embarrassed because he’s the slowest runner in gym class, who can give him a sense of peace and perseverance?  It’s natural for moms to desire being the one who can solve their children’s problems, to comfort them when they are sad, and to give them a sense of peace when they are nervous.  Are you capable of being the perfect mom and accomplishing all you desire to do for your children?

Fast forward now to the teen years.  By now, your teen is well aware that regardless how hard she tries, she can’t solve all her own problems and that life is unpredictable.  And there’s no doubt she’s also aware you aren’t the source of all her answers either!

Release yourself of the stress of trying to be the perfect mom and hold fast to the truth that God is in control.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Psalm 73:26

Nothing comforts me more than knowing God loves my children more than I ever could.  As hard as I try, I will never be able to match the protection, guidance, and peace that Christ provides my kids.

My son, Brandon, became extremely sick when he was 8 months old.  After examining him, the pediatrician told me to rush him to the hospital where a surgeon would be prepared for our arrival.  Waiting for an ambulance would waste precious time and I was forced into immediate action.

Panic rose within me as I saw him go limp in his car seat.  Hands clenched to the steering wheel, I sang the song, Jesus Loves Me, aloud but changed the words to “Jesus loves you”.   Unable to hold and comfort Brandon while driving, I sang the song I had been singing to him since he was a newborn.  I was hoping the sound of my voice singing a familiar song would comfort him as he sat alone in the back seat.

Fearing for my baby’s life, I knew Brandon’s only hope was in God.  And in that desperate moment, as I sped to the hospital, I wanted Brandon to feel the peace of God that I was unable to offer.

God answered our prayers that day.  I arrived at the hospital and two hours later, Brandon underwent surgery.  Although Brandon didn’t understand who Jesus was when I was singing to him, he grew to understand and accepted Jesus as his personal Savior in the years to follow.

There will be many times when your child desires comfort and peace.  It’s important to teach her, when she is young, to rely on God for strength because He will never fail.

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid of terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6

So how do you teach your young child about God?  When showing her a beautiful flower, tell her God made it.  When snuggling with your sweet boy and telling him how much you and daddy love him, remind him Jesus loves him too.   Sing songs about Jesus, attend church to learn age appropriate Bible lessons, and talk about God our Father every day.

We want our children to know it’s okay to make mistakes and that everyone else makes mistakes too.  That’s part of life and being human.  But it’s a tremendous comfort to know there is someone who loves us so much and will never make a mistake; it’s a relief to know God is in control and will offer us His peace.

So how old should your children be when you teach them about Jesus’ love and strength?  Start telling them the day they are born!   Even better, enjoy singing Jesus Loves Me while they’re babies … it won’t be long until those precious children beg you to stop singing!

*New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)

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The Root Word of Discipline is Disciple

by Muriel Drake Ryan, author of The Innkeeper’s Wife

Are you a toaster parent? You watch your child approach something or do something and hope they don’t get hurt.  You hop up to get involved at the last second while you are a little hot around the edges.

Are you a teakettle parent? You keep whistling in their direction and slowly your tone gets louder and then you find yourself boiling over with anger.

Are you a remote control parent? You keep speaking in the child’s direction from a distance and hope that they will instantly do what you want. You keep sending the same message without moving in their direction.

Do you ever find yourself parenting like a microwave?  You count on saying something briefly and only once as you hope you can teach them instantly.

The good news is that by looking at these bad habits we can learn new, stronger parenting skills. The toaster parent waits too long to get involved. You should know where your child is, what they are doing and who they are doing it with. From toddlerhood to teen years, this is a must. Rushing to rescue at the last minute is not good parenting. Be vigilant at all times. Set boundaries which contribute to a safe environment. This includes everything from baby proofing the outlets to setting a curfew for teens.

The teakettle parent waits too long to communicate those warnings and expects anger to communicate. Make your rules clear in your house. They look to you to set the standards. Give the warnings in a strong calm voice.  Make sure you can look eye to eye. Hold those shoulders, but no shaking. Don’t blow. Take control.

The remote control parent thinks once is enough and that shouting orders from a distance works. Much more effective is that eye to eye communication. Children have lots to learn and need direction. Sometimes they need the same direction over and over. Inconsistency in your example or applying those rules undermines that learning. Sticking to the rules lets them know what is expected. Children need a clear picture of what is expected. The clearest picture of how to behave in your family should be you.

The microwave parent thinks parenting gives instant results. Children need guidance and direction every day. They need years of discipling and direction. The good news is that with ingredients of time, patience, guidance and good role models of Godly behavior, children are rich blessings.

It is said that from birth to age five, effective parents get 50 percent of the work done in terms of setting their child on a positive forward course in life. The next 45 percent of the work is done in the years from six to 12.  So start early and stay the course. Effective parenting is worth the effort. Each day, disciple your child.
About the author
Born in Terre Haute, Ind., Muriel Drake Ryan grew up on a small farm with working parents. She attended Indiana State University and graduated from University of Indianapolis, IUPUI, Indiana University and the University of Minnesota with honors. She served in public education as a teacher, principal, and superintendent. After retiring in 1992, Ryan founded Families by Choice with her husband, Bernard Ryan in 2006. Families by Choice provides basic needs to people who are at a distance from their family, either geographically or emotionally. The homeless shelter Ryan and her husband started now has three locations in Indiana and all net proceeds from her books will go to the work and expansion of Families by Choice.