Parenting Blog

Your Guide to Happier Families & Well-Behaved Kids

Dad Shoots Laptop in Video Rant – Parenting Hero?

You’ve probably already seen the video of the Dad who posted a YouTube video rant to his daughter in response to her recent Facebook tirade. In her Facebook post, the daughter spews her disgust for being required to do so many family chores, to the point where, “I have no idea how I have a life.” Dad’s emotional YouTube rant ends with him shooting bullet holes through her laptop. As I watched the video, my heart broke for the whole family.

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Teaching a tattler – Part 2

Understanding the difference between tattling and informing

In Part 1 of Teaching a Tattler, I talked about the difference between tattling and informing. In this post, we’ll discuss training and follow up strategies.

Take time for training

boy dressed as policeman

After explaining tattling versus informing, role-play scenarios to reinforce the difference to your kids. For example, you could start by saying to your child, “Let’s pretend that you and Sam are playing outside, and Sam won’t let you play with his basketball. You come to me to tell me that Sam won’t share the ball. Is this tattling or informing?” This scenario is a prime example of tattling, as the goal of the action is to get Sam in trouble. Follow up each scenario by helping your child brainstorm ways that she could solve the problem on her own, instead of tattling.

On the other hand, what if your child told you that six year-old Sam was playing in the street with his basketball? Informing is the correct response this time, as Sam’s actions put him in a dangerous situation.

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Teaching a tattler – Part 1

Understanding the difference between tattling and informing

“I’m telling!”

Wait for it…

“MOOOMMMMMMM!!”

a little girl tattling to her mom

Sound familiar? Dealing with tattling can be tricky. After all, we appreciate being “in the know” about little Peyton’s tendency to stray into the neighbor’s yard, or Aaron’s lying habit. But that doesn’t mean we want to hear about every nitpicky complaint your eight year-old can come up with in regards to her little brother. How and where do we draw the line?

First, we should understand that children tattle for several reasons. At times, they just want our attention. Other times, kids play the “parent” to their siblings as a way to feel more important or mature. At the heart of many tattling situations, however, is that your child simply doesn’t have the skill to solve the problem by herself.

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Good Study Habits

Good Study Habits: Making Change

good study habitsIf you’ve followed the advice from my previous post, you’ve broken the habit of paying for good grades. But oddly enough, your child still isn’t jumping for joy to study her geography lesson. Fortunately, we have a variety of other strategies at our disposal to help your kids stick to good study habits without relying on rewards.

Identify and remove the distractions.
What things are stealing your children’s attention away from their homework? By removing the commonplace distractions – especially the Internet, cell phone, iPod, and TV – your student can truly concentrate on the task at hand. Fewer distractions means higher quality work and less time spent doing it!

Use a When-Then Routine.
Things run smoothly when homework becomes a part of the daily schedule. Structuring the routine into a “When – Then” format allows homework to be completed before the distractions come back into the picture, or before your child pursues other activities he enjoys. You can present the schedule as “When you’ve finished your homework, then you can use the phone.” or “When you’ve practiced your spelling words, then you can play outside.” Give your child some input into the daily “then” activity, and then stick to the routine every day.

Be constructive.

pencil and test

Reviewing your children’s homework with them is a great way to acknowledge their hard work, while keeping an eye out for any difficulties they may have with it. If you choose to do this, be sure to keep the focus on the effort put into the work, not just the mistakes she may have made. Use this time to turn a wrong answer into a learning opportunity!

Stay resolved.
These techniques are designed to improve your kids’ study habits – but even the best ideas can’t guarantee that they will love doing their homework. When the whining starts, you can empathize so they know you’re on their team: “I get it! It’s no fun to stay inside doing homework on such a nice day!” If the whining won’t let up – tune it out. Ignore the fussing and complaining about homework. Complaints will happen, and responding to them will only encourage your kids to keep them coming.

By fostering internal motivation through encouragement and connecting effort to results, we can help our children approach homework more positively. When you help create an environment to support good study habits, your kids can learn a new way of approaching homework – one that puts the focus on the books instead of the piggy bank!

Paying for Good Grades: Taking the money out of motivation

How do you get good grades without breaking the bank?

good grades

Book report or soccer practice? You can probably guess which one your child would prefer. Each year, our kids have more opportunities in school, more sports to play, and more clubs to join. How can we prevent studying from falling to the bottom of their to-do list?

Many parents take the seemingly logical approach of rewarding children when they earn good grades. And nothing says “Nice work!” to a kid like money. After all, what’s wrong with paying for a job well done?

Unfortunately, these monetary rewards – and all rewards in general – have more negative effects than positive ones. To begin with, when we offer rewards, we are letting our kids know that we don’t have the confidence they can achieve good grades without being rewarded for it.

No only that, but a cash payout rewards the outcome of the work, rather than encouraging the good study habits themselves. A growing body of research is finding that rewards diminish – rather than encourage – the behavior with which they are associated. Students end up becoming less intrinsically motivated to do their studies and don’t develop a love for learning. Instead of an internal drive to do something, they now simply expect an external payoff.

Well-intentioned parents need not worry…there are simple steps we can take to develop good study habits without robbing our wallets.

Use encouragement, not rewards.
Regardless of what system you’re currently using in your home, it’s not too late to make a change. The first step is to introduce the new policy to your children. Your message should reinforce the fact that they are old enough to put forth their best effort without needing to be rewarded for it. Be sure to also let them know that you are confident this is something they can handle.

school boy

From here, we need to resist the temptation to reward. Instead, switch the focus to identifying and encouraging the good study habits. For instance, it’s Tuesday night, and Sarah has been studying for Wednesday’s history test for the last few days. Rather than reaching for our pocketbook when she gets her test result, this is the perfect opportunity to encourage the good study habits she’s showed. Take a moment to tell Sarah, “You’ve been studying hard for this test tomorrow – you should be proud of yourself!”

Connect good habits to good grades.
Sarah takes her history test and brings home an “A” the next day. This is great news! Now is the time to follow through on our new rewards-free system, and tie Sarah’s grade to her work. “Sarah, you planned ahead and studied hard for this test. That “A” represents all your hard work – you really earned that grade!” Sarah has learned that while an “A” is great, what matters most is the effort behind it.

By using encouragement instead of rewards, and by linking good effort to good grades, we set the groundwork for our kids to develop positive study habits. In our next blog post, we’ll look at a few more tips to keep the hassle out of homework.

When Parents Disagree on Discipline

5 Strategies to Bring You Together

parents disagree on disciplineWhat do you do when Mom and Dad disagree on a discipline philosophy? Dealing with difficult behavior from toddlers or teens can be challenging in any family, but when Mom and Dad are at different ends of the discipline spectrum, everyone loses.

Fortunately, there are 5 simple strategies to bring you closer together in the discipline debate:

1. Start by identifying the aspects of parenting and discipline in which you DO agree. You’ll be more successful by beginning with a foundation of where you do agree rather than focusing energy on the many areas where you disagree.

2. Explore the underlying reasons why you disagree on parenting and discipline issues. Often, the differences relate to how you were raised or they come from a place of fear. Once you understand WHY you disagree, you can work towards common ground.

3. Start small. Begin with the non-negotiables for your family. These will typically involve the health and safety rules (wearing bike helmets, driving before dark, etc) and other areas your family values, like education (homework before playtime) or respect (name calling not tolerated.)

Agree on the limits and expectations for the non-negotiables and clearly communicate those to everyone. Be sure to follow through each and every time on the non-negotiables so your kids see that you are a unified front.

4. When tackling the day to day discipline dilemmas, ask yourselves the question: “What do we want our child to LEARN from this experience or discipline opportunity?” That helps you focus on what will be most helpful to your child. It’s not about winning – it’s about teaching your child to make the best possible choices in the future and learning from his mistakes along the way.

5. Seek support. If parents continue to disagree on parenting and discipline issues, consider a parenting education course or an objective 3rd party resource such as a family therapist. There is nothing more important than your family – find the support to help you align as a team.