‘Safety Seeds’ to Plant In Your Children
Susie E. Caron © 4/29/16
"You’ve Got To Talk About It Now!" That's what I told a young mother. She was worried about her little ones growing up in a world full of temptation to do drugs, and other things. However, she said she 'didn't want to scare them too soon.'
So I explained why she needed to talk with her kids no matter how young or old, and for as long as she can about the tough things like drugs, alcohol, sex, to keep them safe. I gave her some guidelines and examples and she seemed ready to try.
The problem is
that most parents wait until it is either too late, or their kids have already become confused by their culture of peers who think “it’s all good.” I know that no one wants to bring up these tough subjects, especially with toddlers and preschoolers. No one wants to 'scare' their children. So parents put it off, and put it off.
You know that you ‘should’ be talking with them, but maybe you put it off because you don’t know what to say.
Let me help you with that.
Even at the youngest ages you can talk about safety in happy, loving ways that make kids 'want' to keep themselves safe. This isn't fool proof, but it's far better than doing nothing. It worked for me and my children and for many others.
This week I’ll teach you some positive ways to plant' safety seeds' to help them stay away from drugs and alcohol, Then I’ll continue over the next few weeks to help you teach them how they can keep their bodies safe from other things.
Kid's are exposed to drugs and alcohol at every age.
Today’s children are ‘growing up’ way too fast. While many of them still believe in Santa Clause, they are exposed to drugs, alcohol use, sex and abuse. It’s all too much for them. Developmentally they cannot process and make wise decisions for themselves about these things, without your help.
You may not want to bring these subjects up at all. However, I guarantee that your kids are being exposed, often as young as preschool ages. That’s why it’s imperative that you begin to plant healthy 'safety seeds' in them now, especially in your babies.
During your children’s first 5 years, what you say really sounds like ‘gospel’. From age 6 years on up, little by little, you begin to lose your power of persuasion. However, it’s never too late to begin. So use these ideas and google for others and begin today to plant safety seeds about ‘staying safe.’
How do you plant seeds so your kids will stay away from drugs and alcohol.
The best way is to introduce the concept of staying safe in very positive ways, no matter what the topic. To do that you ‘hook’ safety words with happy experiences and good feelings.
For example, while diapering your wiggling, giggling child, you can plant safety seeds by say things like, ”You are my sweetie and Mommy (Daddy) will keep you safe and I want you to stay safe.”
That’s not too young to begin, because even before your child mentally understands, the words you say, will be planted in memory along with all the good feelings that come from wiggling, giggling, and smiling between the two of you.
This is what you seek: Good feelings connected to the words ‘stay safe.’
If your child is preschool age then you can be more specific. For example: While eating with your child, preferably one of their favorite foods, you can smile broadly at her and say, “I’m so happy to see you love good food and I know you’ll never put anything into your body that could hurt you.”
Once again you’ve coupled a happy feeling experience with seed words like ‘good food’ and 'not putting anything into her body that could hurt her'. Of course, your child won’t know what you mean, and may look at you funny and think about food she doesn’t like, but that’ okay. Say this from time to time, but don’t overdo it. Just stay positive and plant the seeds.
With Elementary School Children.
What if your child is already elementary school age? From 6-10 children really like to feel important. So if you suggest to your child “We have something very important to talk about after lunch today.” That peaks curiosity and motivates the desire to find out what this is about. Again you’ll want to make lunch pleasant and offer something your child really likes. Then stay at the table together and fold your hands like this is really important and serious (because it is).
Now say something like, “I’m so glad that we can talk about this because I want to keep you safe and I want you to be safe always. Maybe you’ve heard about people putting things into their bodies that could hurt them. They could be eating them, swallowing them, and so on. I just wanted to make sure that you are always safe and would never put anything into your body that could hurt you.”
Watch their eyes and body language.
If they smile and make eye contact with you, things are probably good at the moment. Ask a few questions and repeat, “I’m glad you’ll never put anything in your body that could hurt you.” Then let them go play. Stay vigilant about their play and sleep behaviors, because that’s what will change if they become exposed. Have this conversation again from time to time to let them know they can talk with you about anything.
If they get fidgety or avoid eye contact with you then ask, “Do you know anyone who has been doing something that could hurt them?’ Be caring and non- accusatory and just listen. Encourage them to tell you more by saying, “No matter what you tell me I want to keep you safe and I won’t be mad at you because you trust me.” They may tell you about someone else, and that may be true, but it could also be about themselves, even though they put it out to you as if it was ‘a friend.’
However, this is not the time to challenge their honesty. Continue to be caring and listen. Ask them questions, “Do you think is a good idea?” and say things like “Wow, I’m worried that is hurting their bodies.” Eventually, your kids may tell you if they have been exposed or have tried something themselves. When they do reveal something, thank them for trusting you and for telling you. Tell them you want to help keep them safe always. Next you can work on a plan together, or tell them you need to think about how you can help. Then you’ll talk some more with them about this.
If you discover something that is scary, concerning, or you have questions about what to do, please contact your medical doctor and mental health professional for guidance.
These conversations also apply to your teenagers. However, if you think your teens are getting involved in substance abuse. Don’t wait, thinking, “It’s a stage and it will pass.” Talk with your medical doctor and mental health professional and get whatever help is needed for you and for your teenager.
Start planting safety seeds in your children today.
I’m aware that this is not what every parent wants to discuss with their children. But hopefully I’ve given you some idea how you can start today to plant some positive 'safety seeds' that will help keep your kids away from drugs and alcohol and continue to build their relationship and trust in you. That is what really counts.
Thank you for reading this important article. Tell me what you think about this topic in the comments below.
Twee’ means you and me
Planting 'Safety Seeds' in Our Kids
Little Red Steps
Susie E. Caron © 4/21/16
I was not yet 3 years old when I painted the steps. However, I remember like it was yesterday.
We lived in a second floor apartment with outdoor steps to the ground. In my memory, I can see myself in short coveralls and bare feet, inching down the wooden stairs. I’d been told to ‘go play outdoors’. (Things were different in 1952.) To my surprise, about ¾ of the way down, I came upon an open can of red paint and a big wide brush. I figured that our landlord was going to paint the stairs, so I took the opportunity to help him.
While I struggled to manage that big, big, brush, which became very heavy when I dipped it into the paint, the Landlord arrived at the foot of the steps.
“Oh no, little lady,” he said, as he took the now sticky brush from my red stained hands. He carefully balanced the brush on the edge of the can. Then he took my clean hand into his, and helped me climb back up the stairs. “Your Mother is not going to be too happy about this.” He said, shaking his head.
She wasn’t. When she arrived to the other side of our screened in, green, wooden door. She smiled weakly at him and told him thank you, but immediately began scolding me.
She commanded me to ‘stand right there, young lady,’ and added ‘don’t you move.’ Suddenly afraid, I wanted to bolt down those steps, but I stayed rooted to the spot and began to cry. In a moment, she returned, still yelling at me, with rags and a can of something that smelled so bad it stung my nose as she opened it.
On our open deck, she roughly stripped me of my short coveralls and Tee- shirt. Next she plopped me upright into the small, empty, wading pool. Apparently I was a total mess, and the worst was yet to come.
Mother began scrubbing me; my legs and feet, hands and arms, face, head and neck with a rag dipped in turpentine. (Back then there was only toxic oil based paints, so she had to remove it with turpentine.)
She was rough and she kept yelling at me about paint, and money, and you'll be sorry and other scary things that an almost 3 year old could never understand. I remember that I was terrified. My mother was very angry and my skin stung from the turpentine and from the harsh rubbing it took to get it off. I remember when she finished that, she filled the small pool with the hose and commanded me to stay while she bathed me in the cold water, along with some soap. I don’t remember much about the rest of the day.
Please note: I was not abused. My mother did what she had to do to get me cleaned up. If she hadn’t, I could have suffered lead poisoning or even died. I am retelling this story as I perceived it in my child’s mind, because I want to illustrate how it affected me then and what I gained from that experience.
As I grew up I recognized that my Landlord and my Mother had reacted very differently.
Every time I recalled that event, I wondered “Why?”, "Why did the Landlord and my mother react differently"?
I was the same child. The steps were the same steps. The paint was the same red paint.
(Except that it wasn't. I was informed that it was actually green paint, but I believe that it changed in my mind because my legs and arms stayed red for quite a while after the scrubbing.)
Anyway, the only thing that was truly different were the reactions of my Landlord and my Mother. They had each responded in different ways to my behavior.
As a result of my experiences, studies, and work with children and families I've uncovered some basic truths.
Adults don’t understand children and children don’t speak ‘adult’.
Adults can choose how they respond or react to children’s behaviors.
At almost 3 years of age, I was already a person who wanted ‘to help people.’
I still do.
That’s why I write parenting articles and podcasts. I really want to help you understand your kids better, connect with them, gain their cooperation and have more fun.
That’s also why I write picture books for adults to read with their children. I want to illustrate how children think, how their perception of their world develops, and encourage you to talk about these important things with them. You can find them at SusieCaronOnAmazon.com
Do you like what I’m sharing? Is this helpful? Give me an idea what issues you struggle with and I’ll answer you. Just email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember, Twee’ means you and me
Choosing wisely how to respond to children
Don't Paint the Children
Susie E. Caron © 4/15/16
Write, Ride, Paint!
Yep. That's what I'm doing from now through the summer months. All winter long I write blogs, podcasts and work on the books I'd like to publish. Come spring I am chomping at the bit, just to get out and ride my horse Apple. However, recently I've also rekindled a passion I had acquired earlier in my life: I love to paint.
Currently, I'm painting some small items that will become Christmas gifts. I feel happy about these because I hope they will give their recipients some pleasure. However, I am learning how funny paint, canvas and brush can be.
Paint, for example, has its own mind and will often behave in unusual or unexpected ways as I lay brush to canvas. Sometimes, it's dry and goes on thick. Sometimes the tiny brush has hidden extra water in its housing and spills out when I least expect it. Sometimes it blends very nicely and sometimes it simply misbehaves. But I love it no matter what.
Brushes? Don't get me started on brushes. Why, just this morning I was telling my husband how I remembered that brushes each have their own personality. So, I am learning how to get along with each and every one, even the ornery ones.
This reminds me of the kids I've known. I never met a kid I didn't like. They're a lot like paint and brushes. Like paint, each child has a way of going about day to day life. Like brushes, each one has his or her own distinctive personality.
In my experience, (and life-long career) I've discovered that raising (or working with) children is a lot like applying paint to canvas with a bush. When I paint I can guide but I cannot change how each brush leaves its own distinctive - unique marks. I think it's important for parents to recognize that sometimes they're painting their children rather than letting their children paint.
Teaching children is necessary. Without it children, like wet paint, run wild all over the place.
However, attempts to make them into personalities of our own choosing, does them unnecessary harm.
As parents we must guide (teach) our children while at the same time, strive to create a life in which we encourage the development of each child's unique personality. This is more like teaching them to paint. However, to unleash their creative natures, they need something more.
Children require encouragement in order to develop their uniquely individual personalities.
Without your encouragement and support, children can develop damaged self-concepts. They can feel like they were painted with ugly colors or the wrong sized brush.
So, as parents, we must be certain to not paint our children. Instead we need to teach them how to use paint and brushes, but then we must admire, encourage and support their artistic expressions.
Do you paint with your children? That's a good way to support them. What do you do to support and encourage each of your children so they develop and express their own wonderful personalities?
Twee’ means you and me
Teaching children , then letting them paint.
Does Anyone Care?
Susie E. Caron © 4/8/ 16
Have you noticed? We're on a runaway train. Our lives have sped up and sped up, going faster and faster. Where are we headed? Why are we in such a hurry to get there?
One Bible passage says "Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures..."
Think about that! It's not a long time.
This same scripture continues to say this. "yet the best of them [years] are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away." Psalms 90:10.
Do we ever consider this? Do we care? What do we care about, or whom?
Here's a quick look at a human life span from 0-70.
Yes, life is short, very short. What makes life 'worth living'? "Does anyone care?
He tells us what's important. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27. [FYI, Your 'neighbor' doesn't mean next door. Your 'neighbor' applies first to your spouse and kids, as well as to others.]
I care and show you, through my blogs and podcasts, how to develop better, stronger, sweeter relationships with your kids. I want you to know how important that is. I want you to recognize that, on this runaway train called "life", everything else is just 'stuff'.
I guarantee that all the 'stuff' will "fly away" along with the years.
When it does, and you find yourself in the last car on that train, who will be there with you? This is important because only our relationships count, especially those good connected relationships with God, our spouse, our children and each other. Only when we care about one another can we sit in the Caboose of our lives, knowing that we have loved, and we have been loved, and hear these words from Our Lord.
"Well done, good and faithful servant. Matthew 25:23
Today, I urge you to make priority #1, to develop better connections with God and with those you love, especially your spouse and your kids. If you're struggling with how to do this, please seek help from a pastor or counselor. If you want to gain more confidence and add some skills, read my blogs, and listen to my podcast because I care about you.
I'd love to hear from you and to know if you feel 'cared about' by me. Tell me if I've helped you or touched your heart in some way? Please tell me.
Post a comment here or on my podcast cafe' page, or your can write to me here: email@example.com
We're really in this life together,
Twee' means you and me
Caring about each other and especially our children.
Get “Real” With Your Kids
Susie Caron © 4/1/16
Are you for real? I mean, are you authentic with your kids. Why is this important? Why do you need to be upfront and honest with them? Let me explain and give you a few tips about getting real with them in age appropriate ways.
First let’s get “real.”
Someone said, “You may as well be you, because everyone else is taken”. That applies to your thoughts, feelings and behaviors even when you are with your kids. Just be yourself! Yes, you are the parent. Yes, you have responsibilities of your own to manage. And all of this, while at the same time, you are responsible to do your very best job of raising your children. But you still need to be really you and honest with your kids for some very good reasons.
What are two main reasons you need to be real, (upfront, honest, authentic, matter of fact) with your kids?
First, when you aren’t being real with them they think something scary is going on and it’s their fault.
That’s because Kids have invisible ‘antenna ’, that come out when they feel like you are keeping something from them.
If you and your spouse aren’t getting along, they feel it.
If something is going on in the extended family that you don’t want to talk about they feel it.
If you don’t really like your kids, (even though you love them) they feel it.
However, they don’t interpret these ‘feelings’ correctly.
Nope! This ‘feeling’ settles in the pit of kid’s tummies and they translate that to mean these:
Right now you may be wondering, “Well, what they think is certainly better that the awful thing I’m keeping from them. Isn’t it my job to decide what and when to tell them?” Of course it is, and those are very important parenting decision. However, you can still find ways to be ‘real’ and talk with them about something you are ‘carrying’ that will dispel their personal fears.
Here’s an example of something I used that helped our kids.
Whenever my husband and I argued about anything, and raised our voices, the kids flew into wherever we stood. As soon as they appeared, wide eyed, and looking a little worried, I’d turned physically toward them, made eye contact, lowered my voice and said,
“We’re okay and you’re okay. This argument isn’t about you. We are arguing over an adult thing. But you are okay and we are okay. So, you can go back to what you were doing.”
Most of the time, that’s all it took. Sometimes, if they’d just heard a friend’s parents were getting a divorce, I’d add this:
“And we are not getting a divorce, so you can go back to what you were doing.”
After I said those words, they’d shrug their shoulders and run off to resume their activities again.
Here’s another example: If my little ones saw me crying, really hard I’d keep crying, but I’d offer a reassuring hug and say,
“I’m crying because I’m having ‘adult sad today’. You’re okay and I’m okay, I just need to feel my feelings right now.” Often I’d get a hug back, and sometimes one child or another might stay for a while with me. However, pretty soon they realized I was ‘doing my thing’ and ‘it wasn’t about them’ and they ‘could just go back to playing.’ Of course, if they were older I’d tell them a bit more.
This bring us to the second very important reason you’ll want to find ways to talk about the difficult things that distract you, and keep you from ‘getting real.’
Here's the second reason to 'get real.'
Kids read your inauthenticity as ‘secret keeping’ and when it happens often enough,they stop trusting you. Then, later they’ll keep things from you.You can imagine how dangerous that could be. So you need to be real with them in age appropriate ways.
Here are some hints for how to do that.
Tell the little ones, something like what I used above: 'that you’re having adult feelings but that they are okay and so on.'
Tell school aged children a bit more, but make sure they know that you are ‘handling’ the situation. In other words that it’s your adult responsibility to take care of things, and that you will tell them more as you know more.
For teens, it’s important to explain in more detail, but again reassure them that the adults are managing. It’s also good to add that you shared this with them because you understand and respect that they’d want to know.
Here's a brief summary of the reasons you want to be upfront and honest with your kids.
You owe it to yourself to be You.
They can tell when you’re faking it anyway.
They can feel when you aren’t being ‘real’ (authentic, open, honest).
They believe it means something scary is going on, and it’s about them and it’s their fault.
They think you’re keeping secrets from them, and they stop trusting you. (In turn, they start keeping things from you.)
Remember, when you are ‘real’, open, honest, and decide how much to tell your kids at each age, they learn to trust you more, and by your example they stay more ‘real’ (honest, open, authentic) with themselves and with you.
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it's helpful. Please let me know .
Remember Twee' means you and me
Getting Real with Kids.
Susie E. Caron MA,
Author, Blogger, Podcaster,
Christian, Wife, & Mother, helps build parent-child relationships, 1 blog, book & podcast at a time.
Welcome! I recently retired from combined careers in teaching, psychotherapy, and parent coaching to spend more time writing.
When I'm not busy creating books or articles, you might find me looking for dark chocolate or riding my beautiful horse Apple in the woods and fields of Vermont.
These articles are for educational and self-help purposes only and are not intended as psychotherapy.
If you experience unusual symptoms or discomfort please see your medical or mental health practitioner.
No patent liability is assumed for use of the information contained. The author disclaims any responsibility for loss or risk for use or application of this material.
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Blog Reviews & Thank You!
July 13 at 7:17pm ·
Just wanted to say that I love your posts about the different ways to connect/relate/understand your child. It has given me a new approach towards understanding my daughter and allowing HER to tell me how she feels instead of me suggesting to her how she should feel. Thanks Susie!