Sunday, February 26, 2012

Take Time for Training

Isn't it amazing that with almost every task in life we need to be shown what to do? The older we get, the easier an explanation may be; but when it's even a little complex or requires some greater expectation, it's better to see a demonstration or to have a little hand holding (especially in the beginning). Taking time for training may be one of the more important tools, but I often forget that my children are only 3-years and 5-years-old and they need to be taught/trained over and over.

My husband has always disliked it when I remind him that we need to "take time for training." He replies, "Honey, they're not dogs." So I've needed to alter my language by reminding my husband and myself that with almost every task, chore, job, manner, behavior, etc., we need to show, teach, demonstrate, model and of course "train" our children.

My first example for the week was taking the time to train them on how to clean their rooms. So many times, I'll threaten, bribe, make a game out of it, beg, nag and then usually end up cleaning it by myself while I resent them and every toy we've ever given them. I always wish that they could just appreciate a clean room the way I do. I know it's wishful thinking, but have any of you ever noticed that when your kids’ rooms are clean they immediately start to do gymnastics, wrestling, or wanting to have a dance party. The free space always invites them to have movement. And after all, isn't that the best kind of play--especially because there's no clean-up involved.

Early in the week I took the time to go "train" my boys how to clean their rooms. I noticed during this training I was using all kinds of Positive Discipline tools, for example, Asking vs. Telling, Encouragement vs. Praise, Validating Feelings, I Love You And_____, Sense of Humor, just to name a few. In the end, this was the best experience we’ve had cleaning their rooms. I asked them when we were done how it felt to have a clean room as well as reminding them how much I appreciated their help. I also went on to say that I had full faith in them to clean it next time by themselves (I'll be sure to keep my expectations low).

Another example I had this week was taking the time to train them when I'm on the phone. This seems to be one of my most frustrating moments as a Mom. I think I've "trained" my kids with no manners, consideration and respect when it comes to me on the phone because for so many years I wouldn't talk on the phone when they were awake or around. I've never been a phone person anyways so to be on the phone for more than 5 minutes isn't usual. Of course the time came when I had to speak with someone on the phone just recently to set up swim lesssons for them. I knew my kids were being loud and annoying when the lady asked, "would you like to call me back at a better time?" I needed to leave the room to finish our conversation. I immediately realized this was nobody's fault except for my own.

Instead of being upset with them, I was humbled to know that this was my opportunity once again to take time for training about how to be when I'm on the phone. I agreed to be respectful by keeping my conversations short and they agreed to return the respect by staying quiet..."if I kept it short." We then went on to role-play it. The next couple of conversations were quiet and short.

Just as kids need continuous training in academics (reading, writing, math, etc.), I’m sure their training in cleaning and manners will be an ongoing process.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Special Time

Growing up with “Special Time” with both of my parents are some of my fondest memories of my childhood. We would take turns each week and have a “Date Night” with our parents. For example, my Mom and me would do something together while my Brother and Dad would do something together. We called it “Date Night.” Then the next week we would switch. The third week we would have a family date night, and the final week would be just my parents date night.

Many of our date nights didn’t even consist of going out or spending money. A couple of memories were when my Brother and Dad built a fort in the house and when my Mom and I baked cookies. But the fort and the cookies were our ideas that my parents enthusiastically agreed to—another reason why it felt special.

I have continued this tradition with my family and my boys, although we haven’t been as consistent as I’d like to be—especially now. My oldest son and I use to have our special time at least once a month when my youngest son was still in his crib. It was easy for us to put him to bed and then have our date night, even though we weren’t actually going out anywhere. Our date nights usually consisted of a game together, followed by a movie and popcorn in bed.

A key factor in having special time is making sure your child knows in advance that it’s their special time with you and getting them involved in planning that time. My husband and I made a mistake this week. We had special time with each of our boys, and although it was special to us, I don’t think either of the boys really noticed the time apart from their brother or even cared for that matter that they were with just one of us. If they did notice, it wasn’t as big of a deal as it could’ve been had they been more involved in the planning of the day.

We both learned that even a movie and popcorn in bed may not seem that special to us, but to call it our date night, and then to have all the planning and anticipation has made it more special for my son.  When we would plan it ahead of time, he would ask me all week if tonight was Saturday “our date night?”

I’m going to start doing special time the way my family did when I was growing up. Plan it at the Family Meetings. Get a calendar. Pick the days and who they’re with, and then let them decide, where and what you’ll do. I can just imagine how special that will make them feel. I want them to have the special memories that I have.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Help children create routine charts to encourage self-discipline.

1) Create routine charts WITH your child.
2) Brainstorm tasks that need to be done. (bedtime, morning, homework, etc.)
3) Take pictures of your child doing each task.
4) Let the routine chart be the boss: "What is next on your routine chart?"
5) Do not take away from feelings of capability by adding rewards.

Many people miss the point of this tool card. The operative word is “WITH.” Many of us create routines for our children that make our lives (and theirs) easier, but the point of creating routine charts WITH our kids is to help them feel capable; to teach them skills, and to invite more cooperation because they are empowered by being respectfully involved.

One of my favorite stories about routine charts is the bedtime Routine Chart created with my son, Greyson, who at the time was 3-years-old. I prepared him for a few days simply by discussing it and telling him about it. He got excited when I told him we would go to Michael’s craft store to pick up some items, and then we would take pictures of him doing all the tasks he does before bedtime. He was more than ready when we finally sat down at the table with all our supplies.

First I asked him to tell me about all the things he needed to do before he went to bed. I explained to him that I would write them all down and then he would be able to pick the order that he wanted to do them. Luckily for Dad and I he picked the order that he was used to doing—like bath before pjs and teeth before books.

After we made our list I told him we were going to take pictures of him doing everything. He was so enthusiastic and was happy to pose for a photo doing each task. Then Greyson (with just a little help from me) stabled each photo to the ribbon we had purchased at the craft store. I made a number for each photo (Greyson was just learning his numbers) and he got to stick the numbers on the photos.

He loved running to his chart to check out what to do next. If and when he'd get side tracked, I'd simply say, "Greyson, what's next on your chart?" He would run to the back of his door where it was hung and then run to do the next task.

Bedtimes are peaceful, stress free, and I can now say that I enjoy our bedtime routine!

Monday, February 6, 2012


It’s absolutely perfect that compliments was the tool card for this week. I recently reminded my husband how important it is for me to receive compliments from him and to be told how much I’m appreciated.  I know I never get tired of hearing how beautiful or wonderful I am. Or what a great Mother and wife I am. Doesn’t every woman like to hear these sorts of compliments?  When I hear these compliments, I instantly feel better about myself and therefore want to be and do even better. After all, I was raised with Positive Discipline parents that were full of compliments and appreciations. I even had the opportunity to hear them from my brother once a week during our family meetings.

Following are some examples I used this week, which I believe helped our family be more peaceful and cooperative.

One of the things that instantly make me lose my cool and “flip my lid” is when my boys fight. Fortunately, they give me opportunities daily to practice many Positive Discipline tools. This morning they were playing really well together. But, I knew it was only a matter of time before they’d start arguing. So before they did, I complimented them by saying, “Look at how nice you boys are playing together!” “I really appreciate it.”  I went on to say, “Greyson, I love how nicely you are speaking to your brother, and how patient and calm you are being with him.” And to Reid, “I notice how well you’re working with your brother—what great teamwork.”

Another situation that invites me to lose my cool is getting out the door without having to nag them several times. Again this morning, because they were having so much fun playing together and having their morning dance party, I set the timer for 20 minutes. I “asked” them all the things they would need to do to be ready to go before the timer went off. Surprisingly, they named off a few more things than I was thinking—what a bonus! Naturally, they waited until the last 5-minutes before they made a mad dash to beat the buzzer. I was sure to use compliments by stating how “quickly they were cleaning up” and “how fast they were getting dressed.” I then went on to ask if they thought they’d be able to brush their teeth and comb their hair within 3-minutes? When they did—I told them how much I appreciated it and how excited I was for the day we had planned together.

The best thing about compliments is that when you give them to your children, you’re also teaching them how to give them back. Selfishly, just as I had reminded my husband how important it was for me to feel appreciated and to hear compliments—I now get to look forward to my two boys giving me compliments too—yahoo!!