What is the most important single thing you can do for your children?
Pray for your kids.
by Susie E. Caron (c) 9/21/2014
Most parents work hard to prepare their kids to grow up healthy and strong, to become productive and happy in adulthood, build a career, have a family and bring them grandchildren. That's all very important and necessary. But, your kids are only really yours for a very short time. Your 'instructional impact' is actually shorter than the first 18 years of life.
From 0-5 years, you have the greatest impact because they figure you are God's right hand
and everything you tell them is absolutely true.
From 6-9 they sort of believe you, but they begin to believe others too - peers, teachers, coaches, etc. (Your fall from grace has begun.)
From 10-13 years, your 'teaching' impact is greatly reduced because they want you to be invisible and they pretend that no parents were involved in their appearing on this earth. (However, they want you to show up to cheer at all the events in which they participate.)
From 14 years and up, your actual ability to impart new teaching is dismally low. Teens are proud of themselves for having survived your earlier tutelage. However, they continue to want your approval of all their endeavors, but without your interruption or interference. (They wish!)
The reality is that parents and other well meaning adults who work with kids, actually only have about a decade in which to have the greatest impact to teach children what we want them to know about themselves, family, friends, religious, moral, ethical standards, about life and country. How can you prepare them for more? There is a way to hold far greater impact, and an influence that lasts much longer- even into eternity.
You can pray for your children. Yes, pray.
Pray for their health and well being. Pray for their teachers, coaches and future employers. Pray for their decisions, standards and choices. Pray for their relationships, especially with themselves, with God, and their family. Finally, pray, because it is possible that your kids are all that you have on earth that you may see again in Heaven.
Twee' Means You and Me
Susie E. Caron
Help Kids Build the 5 House Rules That They Will Follow
by Susie E. Caron (c) 9/13/14
Kids love rules because they love fairness. Any child over the age of 5 will benefit by taking part in constructing a list of family rules to live by. To do this, first you have to gather the kids in a family meeting.
Parents are often skeptical about holding a family meeting and letting the kids decide on a list of important family rules that everyone will follow. Maybe you are skeptical too, because you struggle to get your kids to do their chores, their homework, eat dinner, and go to bed without a fight? Here’s a more peaceful way to get kids to cooperate- Help them to build house rules together.
First, hold a family meeting. Tell your kids that you want to discuss making up a poster with them. Set a time when you all can meet. Make sure it’s at a time when you are in a good mood and serve some of their favorite snacks.
At the beginning of the meeting tell your kids that you know they really want to get along and you want to be nicer too. To make this possible, you want them to help you to write up a list of about five family rules that everyone will follow. Tell them you will post it where everyone can see it.
Watch your kid’s faces, because they will love the idea. Kids love fairness and they understand that if they get to make up the rules, then everyone has to follow them. Tell your kids that your part will be to help with the wording so the rules will fit on the poster. During the meeting let each child have a turn to suggest a rule. Repeat what the child says and then re-word the rule if necessary. After you have a list, go over it with your children and see if they all agree, or if something needs to be added, reworded or removed. When you are all satisfied with the established rules, write them on the poster board. If your kids are old enough, they can even write out the rules themselves. Decorating the rules is also ok.
Here are some important considerations before you hold that meeting. I suggest writing the rules in a positive manner. Rules that are positive are far more likely to be remembered and followed than rules that say no, don’t, and can’t. For example instead of “No one eats in the bedrooms.” Change it to “Food must be eaten in the kitchen or living room.”
You also have the right of veto. For example, if one child names another child and makes up a rule just for that child, you need to re-word that rule to fit everyone. For example; Instead of "Sally cannot come into my room without permission,” you can write: “Ask permission to enter anyone's room.”
One notable exception to making all rules positive may be for things like hitting, or swearing etc. For example: If your family needs a no hitting, kicking, or biting rule. (This is necessary sometimes.) The rule could be stated more strongly like this: “No, hitting, kicking or biting allowed.” But when this behavior is not as much a problem it could read “We keep our hands to ourselves.”
One more note: Usually, kids (and parents) follow the rules that they have helped to build. However after the first few weeks it seems everyone begins to ‘forget.’ It’s very important at that time to hold another family meeting to discuss how everyone feels about the rules. Maybe one rule is not a problem anymore and can be discarded. Possibly, another rule must be added. That’s OK because as your children grow they will internalize the family rules over time. Old rules become obsolete and new ones can be developed. What is important is that you and the kids have fun with these meetings. When you hold a family meeting and allow your kids to share their thoughts, they understand that they are important to you and what they think actually matters.
I write articles so you can teach your kids to grow up great. Remember to comment and share!
Twee' means you and me!
Susie E. Caron
Ask Kids “What” Not “Why”
by Susie E. Caron (c) 9/7/2014
Parents want to understand their children and help them, but that often seems truly difficult. Whining, crying, complaining, and throwing tantrums are examples of children’s behaviors that adults don’t understand or want in their kids. However, in order to correct the cause, and hopefully to eliminate the behaviors, adults often ask the wrong question. They ask “Why?”
When faced with an unhappy, angry or temporarily out of control child, parents often try to ‘get to the bottom of the problem’ by asking the child “Why….?” If you have asked 'why', you may have recognized two things: there is often no ‘clear cause’ and punishing the child for the behaviors often makes matters worse. When this happens you are left wondering what to do. I suggest a much better way to handle kids when they seem agitated, before they become overwhelmed and ‘act out’ their feelings:
Notice early, validate the feeling, and ask questions beginning with 'What'.
1. NOTICE initial behaviors that indicate a growing state of upset in your child. In a heightened state of agitation, your child cannot ‘use words’ to tell you what is going on. So it’s important to NOTICE early when your child is showing the initial signs of being upset.
[If you miss the early signs, it is important to help your child to become calm before proceeding. With preschool, 1st and 2nd graders, I recommend a ‘time out’ for the purposes of self-soothing. (This is the actual purpose for time out in this situation.) It also works for later elementary school aged kids if necessary. Either way, once the child is calm, move to step two.]
2. VALIDATE your child’s FEELINGS. After you NOTICE your child is carrying some difficult feelings, it’s important to VALIDATE those feelings. To validate your child’s feelings you simply say what seems obvious to you. For example :“John, you appear to be upset.” Or “Mary, you look very angry.” “Chuck, I hear that you sound sad.” Don’t worry, your child will tell you if you aren’t correct about the feeling. The act of validating the child's feeling helps you to connect at a meaningful level and begin to gently ask questions.
3. Ask questions that begin with the word ‘WHAT’. This will help you to gather information to understand your child's struggle. If your child agrees with the feeling you used in validation, or mentions a different feeling, then use that feeling and ask questions that begin with the word ‘what.’ For example: “John, what is it that upset you?” “Mary, what happened that made you feel angry?” “Chuck what makes you so sad right now?”
[However, do not begin by asking “Why, are (or were) you feeling (or acting) that way?” The question “why” puts kids on the defensive. A defensive child is not what you are after. You want to ask questions that open the conversation. That way you can understand the difficulty and help your child develop more 'words to use' to describe feelings.]
Here are the reasons this is useful and helpful for both kids and adults.
1. You are more likely to intervene before your child feels so overwhelmed that adverse he/she behaves badly.
2. You are more likely to receive answers and to better understand your child.
3. Your child will be more likely to feel connected with you and that you really understand and care about him/her.
4. With your help your child will develop more awareness about his/her feelings.
5. With your help your child will develop and a ‘feeling’ vocabulary to use as he/she grows.
Remember young children cannot think about their feelings before they react to them. So when you first see, hear or notice grouchy, moody, or feeling-loaded behaviors, that’s the right time to begin to intervene, by gently noticing, validating and asking questions that begin with the word 'what'.
I love writing these articles to help you connect better with your children. If you found this or any of my other articles helpful please comment and share with your friends. Thank you.
Twee' Means You & Me
Susie E. Caron
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!