Parenting Hack #3: Stop, Drop and Breathe

relaxedOkay, I copied this title from a genius: Laura Markham.  You can read her post here http://www.ahaparenting.com/ages-stages/school-age/Emotional-intelligence-examples.

I, however, am posting this Zen Frog to remind you to “get down” 🙂  Not the “and boogey” kind, but, when I am feeling annoyed with a child, I may remember to stop (moving, usually, away from the child, to do some “thing that needs doing”), drop (down, to a squat, or maybe right down on the floor, to eye level), make eye contact and listen a bit more.

At this point, I often discover that I have missed the boat, or the lily pad, to go back to Zen Frog.  The child is not feeling heard, in real need, upset, confused, and I need to tune in.  Otherwise, quite often, something will fall into the pond, and that “thing that needs doing” will not get done at that moment, anyway. hugging frog

At this point, you might need this image: a hug might help.  Try it!

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Parenting Hack #2

expert-tips-on-child-anger_364x200_107668795#2 Decide what you will do:  This can also be called “be prepared, like a Boy/Girl Scout” ! Okay, a story from my own parenting, just to let you know I am real.  My daughter loved shoes.  Loved, loved, loved, loved them (still does; now she can buy her own shoes).  We went to the local shoe store, needing shoes, and looking forward to the full-service of this old-fashioned Boone institution.  Knowing the pitfalls of shopping with a shoe-loving 3 year old, I told her: “We are only buying one pair of shoes, okay?” (Well, there is that asking thing; I shouldn’t have asked!  See “Parenting Hack” #1)  She agreed, and we had a lovely time trying on shoes.  My secret weapon: I had decided that, if she balked at the “only one” rule, we would just leave.  Right then.  No talking; no choices.  I knew that there was at least a 20% chance that that day, or that issue, would be a great one for a science experiment called ” Does Mommy mean it?”

She picked a pair, and then another one.  I reminded her: one.  She proceeded to explode, melt down, erupt, whatever verb you like.  The nice sales ladies all said : “Awww, poor little thing!” (They must have meant me!)

So I said, sadly: “Now we have to leave.”  We left, no shoes.  She was under my arm in what I call the “football” or “sack of potatoes” hold.  Screaming and kicking (the “sack of potatoes” minimizes being kicked).  I didn’t say a thing (no one likes to be “I-told-you-so-ed”).  The bad news was that we had to do it all again.  The good news is that she was very impressed that I seemed to mean what I said.  The next time went better.

It makes ME feel better/safer/less crazy/less afraid of my own reaction if I know what I will do(or what I will NOT do).  Perhaps because I am not second-guessing myself, I am more likely to empathize, and less likely to be angry or react in ways that will do damage to our relationship.

Something Julie quotes is that it “lets us see our child as our beloved, instead of the enemy”!

Parenting Hacks

Listened to a podcast from Tim Ferriss (4 hour work week) about “life hacks”: tricks to make you proficient with less work, and thought about the parenting classes we teach (5 sessions, 2 hours a session).  They are already “Cliff Notes”, but wondered if I could hit the highlights, so here goes….

#1 Tell, don’t ask.  That is, don’t set yourself up for getting mad by asking a child something that is not optional: “Do you want to put on your coat?” Instead, we often use “After….”.  “After you get your jammies on, we can read that book.”  Or “When..”; “When you have your shoes on, you can have your other piece of toast.”  I think of it as leapfrogging over the possible power struggle to the thing wanted.  Some children love the attention or power of unneeded discussion.  This is no fun for parents.  Pants, shoes, teeth brushing, time to leave should not be up for conversation.  Leapfrog over those suckers, baby!tree picture

How to get your kid in daycare

photo (5)Yesterday I had a man show up at my school and stand at the door looking at the coded lock, trying to figure out what to do, reading the “Trick or Treat for UNICEF” sign to see if that would help.  I opened the door, and he said: “My wife sent me here to get the registration.”  I said (bamboozled): “You must have the wrong school; we don’t give out registrations here.”  (What I meant was : “Wait, who are you?  We are full!  We require an observation and a meeting before we would give out an application!  Are you at the wrong place?  I don’t know what to say!”)  He left, even more bamboozled.  I felt really badly for him, so I am writing this.

If you have a kid, you might want daycare some time (childcare, preschool, PreK).  If so, you might want to go visit some local places.  Instead of going through the phone book, or asking your friends, you might want to start by talking to childcare Resource and Referral for your area (Google that, and you will get something.)  Resource and Referral will tell you: what programs there are in your area, who is half day and who is full day, who has 24 hour care, if you need that, what ages they take, what kind of licensing they have, who they are affiliated with, who is bilingual, who takes state subsidies, who is Montessori, Reggio, Waldorf, and, very importantly, who has openings.  This will save you a lot of time and hassle.

In some places, you need to get on a waiting list when you are pregnant/waiting for adoption.  Really.  My program is generally full the spring before the school year starts (March).  So it is good to explore this earlier than you would think.  Baby/toddler care is harder to get than care for older children, so consider that as well.

When you get your list, you can contact schools/daycares/programs to go observe.  If they won’t let you observe, run away.  Ask what the criteria are for observation; many will not want you to bring your (mobile) child.  It is much harder to observe if you are watching your child, in any case.  You can arrange a separate visit with your child, if you want to pursue enrollment.

The next part is my opinion.  Many people seem to think that it is important that their child “like” (help pick out) the program.  I understand this, as you would think that your child liking the program would make his/her adjustment easier.  However, unless your child is over 6, I would say their input, in the decision stage, is not very helpful.  Remember how they are about which bowl to have their cereal in, or which side of the car their car seat is on- is that rational?  What if they are having “princess day” or “Star Wars” day at the day care that you think is horrible.  Too late!  My advice is to vet every part of the program that you care about, then announce it to your child(ren).  If you feel good about it, your child will come to, as well.  Follow up with the director by email or phone or both.  They are busy, and sometimes they space something out.  Ask to be on a waiting list if you are willing to/can.  An opening may appear the next day!

If you have an emergency situation, go to Resource and Referral.  If they cannot help you, you may need to join a local mommy/parent internet or Facebook group to find someone who could keep your child, maybe short term, in their home while you wait for an opening.  If you have a University/College near you, maybe the Student Employment program can help you out.  Maybe the local OB/GYN office or midwifery office will have some information.

P.S.  Since I wrote this, I discovered Indeed (http://www.indeed.com/hire).  It is a free site for hiring qualified folks.  I did a search when I first heard about it and found about 3 local folks to whom I would love to talk (had Montessori experience, had cool references.)

Family Meetings

family meetingsPositive Discipline (and Adlerian psychology) describes four “mistaken goals” that children have: undue power, undue attention, revenge and assumed inadequacy.  By this they mean that all children want connection and belonging, but are not good, always, at getting it.  (Think of how they went about learning to walk!)

Family Meetings address all of these: they provide appropriate power, attention, a chance to input into family decisions (“Where should we stop on the way to the beach?” “What kinds of things do you want me to buy for lunches?”) and give a sense of empowerment.

Here are some more guidelines:  http://blog.positivediscipline.com/2012/01/family-meetings.html

For young children, Jane Nelson recommends starting with only affirmations at first, and having them be very brief (15 mins) followed by a fun family activity.

Good luck and have fun!