Category: Elementary

No More Hassles Over Picking Up Dirty Socks

No-More-Hassles-Over-Picking-Up-Dirty-Socks

Dirty Sock Dilemma

After a long and tedious day I finally started to wind down, hours after I had hoped to.  I started to head to bed only to find a heaping pile of filthy clothes, shoes and socks, right in the middle of the family room. I wanted to scream. I wanted to pull my sleeping barbarians from their beds and give them the scolding of a lifetime. I wanted to know why my children hadn’t cleaned up after themselves…they weren’t being raised by wolves. They are very capable of cleaning up after themselves, they just choose not to.

Instead of nose-diving into complete frustration, I decided to try a little trick I learned in a recent Love & Logic® class I attended. I picked up all of the shoes, socks and dirty clothes, hid them in my closet and went straight to bed.  There was no need to get mad or create drama at the end of my long, tiring day. Tomorrow would be a new day and I was ready to try out this technique on my children. They had no clue they were about to be my personal guinea pigs and I was hopeful the experiment would work.

A Penny for Your Socks

As morning broke, the house was full of its customary commotion and, as the kids were almost ready to leave for school, I mentioned that I had picked up their dirty clothes and shoes the night before. Normally they wouldn’t care that I had cleaned up after them, however; when I mentioned I would be willing to sell their items for $.50 each, a look of curious disbelief came over their faces. After all, they needed their shoes for school which put me in complete control. With a wonderful sense of calm and a renewed appreciation for my general awesomeness, I calmly traded shoes, socks and jackets for money. They protested slightly before relenting and pulling out the money I was owed. With little to no fighting or arguing, I was able to teach them a lesson they won’t soon forget and save my sanity in the process.

Underpaid and Overworked: Welcome to Parenthood

Let’s face it, parenting is a thankless job. You’re constantly pulled in multiple directions and expected to take care of everyone else’s needs without considering your own. You cook, clean, bathe, clean, shuttle, console, clean, did I say clean? It’s a never-ending battle of maneuvering the same mess from one location to another. It’s the constant struggle of picking up the same toy 37 times a day, only to step on it 5 minutes later. When you consider all the annoyances of daily life as a parent, it’s no wonder we lose our cool from time to time.

With a little practice, though, it’s possible to stay cool and teach our kids a lesson at the same time.
Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

Improve Your Kiddo’s Bad Sportsmanship in 5 Easy Steps

5 easy steps to help your child become a better team player.  Love and Logic Parenting Classes in Denver, COSeven year-old Elliott is becoming a bad sport at baseball. After his games, he complains about how unfair the ref was, how that throw WAS in, how he really did get that kid out. The ride home from games becomes an open arena for airing every grievance he has with his teammates and with himself. This is driving his parents nuts because they want him to be a good sport but aren’t sure what to do.

Here are a few ideas to redirect negativity about the game into something positive:

Ask Why Playing Perfectly is So Important.

When your child is feeling down about his performance in a game, ask him if he thinks he is more lovable when he plays perfectly. Remind him that in your family, imperfect people are the most lovable kind.  Go through and talk about some of the plays from the game: comment on the successful plays and discuss how every athlete in every sport has their shining moments and their disappointing moments.

Have Them Notice and Encourage the Other Players

At the next game, give your child the task of watching other players closely. Every time he notices that a teammate has a bad play, urge him to go give them a couple words of encouragement. What you want to focus on with this is building good sportsmanship rather than trying to squash bad sportsmanship.

Notice and Empathize Unfair Calls

There are always questionable and downright unfair calls in all kids’ sports. Empathize about how frustrating it is when there is an unfair call. Be specific! Name the kid’s feelings of anger, sadness, embarrassment.

Keep Score of the Good

Tell him you are going to watch him and count every time he handles a tough call with good sportsmanship (you can also use the terms “class” or “dignity”). After the game, celebrate all those good moments (ignore the bad) of good sportsmanship he demonstrated. Perhaps the higher the score, the higher the scoops on an ice cream cone? 🙂

Use Selective Vision

Make the focus on building what you want more of. Look for that with a magnifying glass and get blurry vision about the times he not quite so gracious.

 

Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSWa Marriage and
Family Therapist
 and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapyand parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps
parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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What to Do if Your Kid Leaves Dirty Dishes Laying Around

Teen girl washing dishes at kitchen sinkThere are times when a parent has no clue what to do. This especially happens when our innocent babies and precious toddlers become willful and defiant ‘tweens and teens. Kids capable of making choices out of laziness and disregard for their parents.
Poised, charming 23-year old Annie sat on the couch in my counseling office today and told me a brilliant parenting strategy that her dad pulled on her when she was a young teen.

As a middle-schooler, Annie used to leave her dirty dishes setting out on the kitchen counter.  A very typical problem with kids – but an issue that many parents find hard to put an end to. Her single dad got on her case.  He told her not to leave her dirty dishes sitting out in the kitchen.

Well, she thought she would test the limits and show him he couldn’t boss her around!  She stopped leaving her dirty dishes in the kitchen.  Instead, she started leaving them in her bedroom!  Once he discovered her pile of dirty dishes with crusted-on food, he came up with a plan to deal with his defiant daughter. He went out and purchased the largest package of cheap paper plates that he could find.

The Effective “Opportunity to Learn”

Annie wasn’t allowed to use real plates again until she went through the entire stack of paper plates.  For months, every meal she ate at home, she ate on a flimsy paper plate.  Just think of your experience with cheap paper plates: the sauce soaks through, a knife cuts through the bottom, leaving little bits of paper in your food, and you surely can’t carry the thing around the house for fear it will collapse in half.

Annie hated this consequence.

By the end of the 3 months it took to use all of the paper, she was willing to (begrudgingly) scrape her plate and place it into the dishwasher.

The best thing about her dad’s delivery of this “opportunity to learn?”  He never said a single word about it.  Not one.

Ten years later, Annie admitted that it’s still an effort to rinse her plates and put them in the dishwasher in her little apartment, but she does it.  With the consequence gift she got from her loving, patient, creative dad, she learned a lesson to last a lifetime.
Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

5 Easy Steps to Discourage Lying in Little Kids

5 Easy Steps to Discourage Lying in Little KidsA dad who was in for parent coaching recently asked me how to deal with his 6 year old son’s chronic lying.
Here are five strategies he’s going to experiment with and see how they work.
Please let me know if you’ve had experience with this and what has helped.  Other parents will be grateful!

Celebrate the Truth

Watch…. when you anticipate a lie and get the truth, celebrate! Acknowledge that you love to hear the truth and let him know you love and appreciate it. Little kids love positive feedback! (Don’t we all?!)

Call for a “Do-Over”

When your child does lie, give her the chance for a “do-over.”  Gently explain, “Lying is not something we do in our family and there is a consequence for it. But if you would like to do it over, you can have a chance.”

Then…. Make it Playful!

Comically back up, recreate the scene, and repeat the scenario. Sometimes the sillier you make this, the more likely your son or daughter is to break his/her frame of mind and tell the truth instead. And remember, when they tell the truth… celebrate with tone of voice, touch, eye contact and a smile!

Observe Situations Around You

Look at different events around you and name when people are pretending when they are telling the truth. You could reference a television show and tell your child that people are pretending. That’s ok because everyone knows they are just pretending. But when mom or dad ask a question, then the truth must be told.  It’s ok to teach children that there’s a time and place for pretend and there’s a time and place for the truth.

Use the Wisdom of Dr Suess

Read the book ‘To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street” and talk about how the kid is fibbing. Explain that if kids want to make up a big story, that’s ok, you love their creativity… they just have to let people know that they are telling a pretend story.

Compassion is the Key to 5-year Old Bed Wetting

sleepy boy in blue bedclothesWe all have expectations as parents. One thing we don’t usually expect is for our school age child to still be wetting the bed on a regular basis. So when it happens over and over again, we can forget that they are little people trying hard to learn and we can end up being negative and shaming – which can prolong the bed wetting episodes.

I recently worked with a dad who was frustrated with his 5-year old’s constant bed-wetting.

So we tried a new approach.

“My 5-year old son, Will, still wets the bed at least half of the nights. Each time it happens, he’ll walk into my room in the morning in different pajamas than he wore to bed with his chin tucked and a sad look on his face.  I asked the pediatrician who politely brushed me off, saying that it’s not uncommon and that I shouldn’t worry about it. I try to get Will to use the bathroom every night before bed, I have him help me change the sheets and I don’t get upset about it but I’m just not sure what else I should be doing.”

This is an issue with two levels of solutions: the physical and the mental.

The Physical Aspects

Ensure you are following these steps:

1. No liquids after dinner.
A belly full of water can equal a bed full of regret. Cut off all liquids after dinner, and if a bedtime drink is requested – make it small – 1 -2 swallows is plenty.

2. Use the bathroom right before bed.
Be certain that he goes to the bathroom before bed (make it into a game if it helps).

3. Sleepwalk to the bathroom.
Wake him up right before YOU go to bed.  Keep the lights low, speak quietly, and guide him into the bathroom, even if you have to carry him and help him sit.

The Mental Aspects

Kids are emotional little creatures. They pick up on meaning and subtext that we don’t even realize we’re giving off. With that said:
1. Show no irritation or intensity when he doesn’t make it through; sounds like he’s already bummed about it.

2. Have him set up an incentive to celebrate when he stays dry through the night. When he does stay dry, be happy with him.

3. Be kind and matter-of-fact about him helping put the sheets and pajamas in the washer.

4. Come up with something sweet and reassuring.

Here’s the part that can make potty-training an exercise in developing important life-long skills: have him come up with something sweet and reassuring to say to himself on the days he’s not successful staying dry.  Ask him what a good coach would say to encourage a player.  Some possibilities:

  • “No worries, better luck next time.”
  • “It’s ok, I don’t have to be perfect.”
  • “My body might not be quite ready but it’ll get there soon.”
  • “Lucky for me, people in our family are lovable even when they wet the bed.”

5. Envision the Positive
Each night before he goes to bed, have him say out loud: 1) what his reward will be for staying dry and, 2) what sweet thing he’ll say to himself if he wakes up wet.  Even better?  Have him get in bed and pretend that he is waking up wet.  Have him go through each detail of opening his eyes, checking his pajamas, smiling and saying his kind statement.  Then do the same drill with him pretending that he is waking up dry and enjoying his incentive.

If you do this, not only will you some day have a son who won’t need Pull-Ups but you’ll also have a son who can be compassionate and gentle with himself and others even when things aren’t perfect!



Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

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Empty Threats Make Weak Parents

A father had no less than a gaggle of children in the grocery store…

little girl in supermarketGranted it was a Saturday, granted they were in the toy isle, and granted he was alone. I watched him try to corral all of his kids for about five solid minutes – he would get two listening and then another one was waving a small plastic sword around as if she was fighting some sort of eight-armed dragon. It was funny – but also a bit sad. He was struggling.

He kept saying things like “get over here,” “stop that,” and “c’mon” – pretty typical things for someone trying to gain control of a situation teetering on uncontrollable. And then we heard a large fart noise. It was super loud and all the kids fell into peals of laughter. The middle boy had stomped his foot on a whoppie cushion, which was now lying deflated on the floor.

This sent dad over the edge.

“You know what, now you are going to pay for that! Where is your money?? Get it out RIGHT NOW.”

Now, we all knew he wasn’t going to make the kid pay for it. I knew it, the store clerk knew it, and the kids especially knew it. The kids ignored the dad and all ran down the isle and around the corner – probably to find someone whom they respected.

So, what really happened here?
The kids knew they were pushing dad to the brink.
They knew no matter what they did, he didn’t have any follow through.
They kept testing – and finally found his trigger.
They laughed at his angry outburst and empty threat.
Dad was left feeling ineffective and outnumbered.

When you’re in this situation, take a few moments to form your plan of attack. What reasonable consequence might you propose right now, in this situation, that you will actually follow through with?  THEN DO JUST THAT.

No compromising. No empty threats.

Your kids will be mad. They will backtalk or cry or they might even throw a fit. But in the end, they will know you are a person of your word. That what you say is truth.

And that is something they will respect.

One final note: next time, plan ahead.  Have a game plan in mind since history tells you that the kids are likely to be unruly. Set up an incentive for good behavior. The old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is definitely true when it comes to parenting.
Roxann Blue
©2013 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Roxann is a new mom, graphic designer, and contributing author for Head & Heart Parents. In her spare time she likes to sleep. You can learn more about her at www.roxannblue.com

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“I Overreacted and Gave My Child Too Harsh a Consequence…. Now What..?”

Dad: Kerry, I’m a single dad and wondering how I can gracefully back out from having overreacted and given my son a harsher consequence than I should have?

Clever kidHe’s 4 and was throwing water out of the bathtub. I got mad and told him he had to go straight to bed with no stories. I cooled down a few minutes later and realized I had overreacted. I told him I was sorry that I’d gotten so irritated and I had reconsidered and that he didn’t have to go to bed yet. But now I’m worried that I’ve lost credibility with him. Was there a better way to handle that?

Kerry: Chris, I think the way you handled it was completely appropriate. It’s ok to teach your kids that sometimes we adults re-think things and change our minds. It’s also ok to model that a normal part of being a grown-up is making mistakes and then fixing them.

If you want to bring a little more playfulness into your parenting, you can try a “re-do.” That’s where you tell your son that you didn’t like the way you handled the bathtub scene and that you would like to re-do it. You playfully back out of the bathroom and pretend you are talking backwards. Then you stick your head back in and ask if he’s ready for you to do that scene over. You can say, “Bathtub Scene, Take Two.” You might even ask him to splash the water again! (That’s optional.) Then you go in and handle the situation the way you wished you had done it in the first place.
Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and
Family Therapist
and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps
parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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Rowdy at Dinner

I frequently receive letters and emails from my readers sharing their successes and failures as parents. While I prefer reading the success stories, I also find value in parenting failures because it gives me an opportunity to reach out and offer advice on a topic that I’m passionate about, Love and Logic® parenting. I look for opportunities to encourage parents to reward good behavior instead of punishing bad behavior. My advice seemed to pay off for this mother and in the following letter, she shares her success.
Boy has mouth full of pasta in kitchen

Dinnertime Dilemma

Dear Kerri,
I just had to share my recent success story and offer a big “Thank You”. I’m a fan of your work and a big believer in the reward system you teach so I decided to give it a try. Suffice it to say, I was thrilled with the results. I have a 5-year old son who is a non-stop little ball of energy. Although this energy is wonderful to watch, there are times that I wish he would sit still and mind his manners.
That said; dinnertime has always been a challenge. This should be a time for our family to come together and share the events of our day, express our thanks for food and family and enjoy each other’s company. Lately, it’s turned into a time that my husband and I dread. The delight has been drained from our family time due to the poor manners and temper tantrums of our 5-year old. It’s a constant struggle to get him to eat, sit still, use his napkin and clear his plate. I was so tired of being frustrated that I decided to change my method of parenting and enlist your reward system.

Instead of focusing on his bad behavior, I offered a tangible (and immediate) reward for his good behavior. Every time he responded to a request, he would receive a token. When he was asked to come to the table, sit still, eat his dinner and clear his plate, he was given a token. I also made sure to tell him how proud I was of his good manners. I saw an immediate change in his behavior.
Every now and then I would allow a “bad manners night” to let him enjoy dinner without feeling like he’s constantly under a microscope. On these nights we would make dinnertime fun and not worry so much about table manners. Within a short amount of time he was responding to all my requests and using table manners that any mother would be proud of.

Since starting your reward system I’ve noticed a positive change in my son’s attitude. He looks forward to acting like a well-mannered little gentleman and really likes the positive reinforcement (and tokens) that accompany his good manners. He’s anxious to please me and he knows that, when he exhibits good manners at the table, there’s an immediate reward for his good behavior.
Thank you for your parenting advice; it’s worked wonders for our son!

Sincerely,
Lillian H.
Boise, ID



Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2013 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents


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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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How To Turn Your Words from Garbage to Gold

Little boy with shoes on

TWIN TERRORS CAN CAUSE DOUBLE TROUBLE

Every parent knows how exhausting it can be to raise a child, especially toddlers. For parents of twins, that exhaustion is enough to make you see double, literally. What do you do when faced with temper tantrum throwing twin terrors at dinnertime and how do you elicit a positive response from one or both when they seem to feed off each other? It’s not easy but, with a little Love and Logic®, this mom turned her misbehaving minions into terrific toddlers.

DINNERTIME DISASTER DUO

The day was winding down and, as the sun sank low in the sky, mom thought it would be a perfect fall evening for a dinner on the patio. The only problem was her defiant 3 year old that refused to put his shoes on before joining them. While mom sat patiently at the dinner table, this twin toddler put up quite a fight. Refusing to put his shoes on and causing quite a scene was enough to send this mom over the edge. Luckily, her toddler’s tantrum didn’t throw his twin into the same tizzy. As they both sat waiting for the storm to calm, mom had an idea. She decided to try an enforceable statement in hopes of turning his tantrum into a lesson of love and patience.

With a calm voice and a steady gaze, mom simply said “anybody who has their shoes on gets dinner” and turned her defiant son’s seat away from the table. While mom and the rest of the family began to enjoy their supper, her surprised son decided that he wanted to join them for dinner and, if it meant he had to put his shoes on to do it that was OK. As mom watched, what had become a customary dinnertime meltdown, turned into an easy fix. Her son put on his shoes and joined his brother and mom at the table. Mom couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride for the actions of her baby boy.

ENFORCEABLE STATEMENTS THAT STICK

When mom decided to use an enforceable statement, she sent a message to her son that his actions or inactions would warrant a response. This type of enforceable statement can reinforce to the child that what they’re doing is unacceptable and that there is a repercussion for their behavior. Additionally, using enforceable statements can also let the child feel that they are in control of the situation. By forcing the child to claim control of his actions mom allowed him to make the decision to put his shoes on and join in dinner, while letting him know that his actions would not be tolerated. Enforceable statements are a great way to elicit the response you want without all the fuss. This mom took care of business without losing her cool.



Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2013 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents


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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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Getting Kids to School On Time

Young girl refusing to get ready for school

DAD’S DILEMMA

After a busy morning of diapering, feeding, bathing and dressing his 7 and 3-year olds and tending to the needs of the baby (with a few temper tantrums thrown in here and there), dad was hoping for a little help from his toddler and oldest son. Little did he know that they had other plans. After posing the request to “get in the car”, dad returned to find the 7 and 3 year old sitting in front of the TV. Not only were they in the same spot where he left them but, the 3 year old had removed his pants, ensuring that dad would have one more thing to do before leaving the house for school.

If you’re a parent you know how hectic mornings can be, especially when you’re attempting to get somewhere on time. When this dad was dealt a healthy dose of groundhog parenting, he managed to keep his cool and teach his children a valuable lesson about personal accountability and getting them to listen.

GROUNDHOG PARENTING AND HOW IT CAN MAKE YOUR ALREADY BUSY DAY SEEM ENDLESS

Dad uses the term “groundhog parenting” to describe what seems like a never-ending cycle of asking for something specific (“clean up your mess”, “get in the car”, etc.) with zero results. This type of cycle makes simple tasks seem endless, repetitive, and…like Groundhog Day, over and over and over again.
This type of parenting is not only ineffective; it’s the perfect recipe for a frustrated parent. Instead of continually repeating the same request with little to no response dad tried the new method of Love and Logic® parenting in hopes of eliciting a different response.

DAD TO THE RESCUE

Since Dad’s request to “get in the car” was ignored, he decided to employ a new technique. His new strategy will make cents…probably from his son’s piggy bank. After Dad asks his sons to get in the car, he’ll make his way to the car and charge the 7 year old .25 cents per minute that he has to wait. Hopefully, this strategy will encourage his son to listen to Dad’s request and respond the first time. However, dad also wants to make sure he’s rewarding positive behavior and not simply punishing bad behavior so, dad will also offer the 7 year old .25 cents per minute for every minute that they’re early arriving to school.

With a positive reinforcement in place, dad is ready to tackle getting to school on time with minimal hassle. More importantly, the 7 year old will feel a sense of reward when he’s given positive reinforcement for his positive actions; it’s a win/win situation and Dad is the hero of the game!



Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2013 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents


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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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