Category: Sanity Savers

3 Tips for Parenting in December Without Losing Your Ho! Ho! Ho!

It happens every year.  The sweet mother of two young children sat in my office, slouched over, and shared how she dreads December.  “I take on too much,” she sighed.  Then she gets overloaded, becomes irritable with her kids and ends up hating the stress of December.  All that effort for the sake of her family having good holiday memories and she ends up depleted and grumpy.  The impossibly long list of thoughtful, creative things things she expects herself to do overwhelms her.  We all know she’s not alone.

She walked out of her parent coaching session with three assignments:

I. FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU CARE ABOUT

  1. Make a list of every single task you expect yourself to do in December.  Does that mean one task is getting the tree, another is putting on the lights, and another is decorating it?  Yup.
  2. Put them in order by date due.
  3. Circle the ones you LOVE to do.  These are ones that make you happy and have meaning.
  4. Circle the ones you HATE to do.  The ones that make you grumpy when you are doing them.
  5. If you have a significant other, have them do the same thing on the same list.
  6. For the tasks on the “HATE” list, figure out a way to dump the item.  Or at least read Assignment #2 for ways to survive them.
  7. For the ones in the middle, decide if there are ways to simplify or delegate.  For example, I make hot fudge sauce for my neighbors, teachers and relatives. Some years, they were decorated with painstakingly fancy labels. Some years, all I could do was make the fudge and slap on a computer-printed label.  But if it preserved a little of my sanity and left me a little more able to be sweet to my children, it was worth it.  Simplifying can be wonderful.

II. SET REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS

Many of us value holiday traditions and want our kids to grow up with good memories.  But hear me when I tell you this: you don’t have to do every tradition every year in order for your kids to have great memories.  My friend grew up with a memory of her mom doing a cookie exchange.  She remembered that every year, she came home to a group of women in the kitchen who had baked and exchanged dozens and dozens of cookies.  My friend took it upon herself to continue the tradition whether she felt like it or not. It wasn’t until her kids were teens when she friend learned that her mom had only done that a few times ever. Nowhere close to every year.  She did it on the years that it suited.

So as you think about your traditions and how they stress you, what if you consider rotating them?

If it’s going to cause stress, what if you give yourself permission to pass on it for a year?  You don’t have to dump it forever; you can decide year by year.  Sometimes we have to pick:  tradition or calm state of mind.  A grumpy, stressed out mommy is generally NOT what our kids need, so why do we keep setting ourselves up to feel overwhelmed?

III. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX TO MAKE YOUR WORK FUN!

Ok, truth is, there are some things we really want to do and we want to be happy about but it ends up feeling like a chore. To that, I say: think outside the box to find a way to make it enjoyable.

Have a mountain of gifts to wrap?

What if you do it with a friend?  My girlfriend and I used to take turns hauling our stuff to each other’s house to wrap together while we listened to Christmas music and chatted.  It was highly productive AND fun.

Signing Christmas cards or online shopping?

Another girlfriend lights candles, pours herself something good to drink, turns on good music, and tells herself that it’s a treat to sit and think about the people she loves as she shops and/or signs cards. Works for her.

How about having a friend or family member over to bake while your kids play with theirs?

My girlfriend and I have done this for years: the kids played, we baked, and everyone was happy.

While it may well feel like Christmas has become this huge, commercialized machine of expectations, we do have a choice about how we choose to participate. You have a vote in this.

It’s ok to say NO to being overwhelmed so that you can YES to showing up for your kids and yourself.

 

Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
©2016 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.

Dear Kerry: “Sick of all the Whining”

DearKerry_12yoWhiningDear Kerry,

My 12 year old son whines constantly and it drives me absolutely crazy. It’s almost like it’s his default way of speaking. I don’t want to constantly berate him – but I am not sure how to curb the whining?

Sick of All the Whining

Dear Sick,

For better or worse, this seems to be rather common for kids this age. I know that doesn’t make it any less aggravating for you to live with, but hopefully you at least know you are in good company with a lot of other parents.

If you focus on putting an end to the whining, you will end up putting your attention on what you DON’T want.

Focus instead on what you DO want; for example, calm voice, doing what you ask the first time, respectful words, pleasant tone. I call this “Parenting the Invisible” because it’s hard for us to notice when our kids do it.  We tend to take the good, quiet, cooperative behavior for granted.  Our brains are wired to hone in on the undesirable behaviors.  If you pay attention, however, to the little, quiet, good behaviors and nice way of speaking, you’re likely to see that they actually do exist even when it seems like they don’t.  If you can reward those in some way, you are helping your son grow the good behaviors.  Rewards can be small and simple like a smile or nice word or affectionate touch and thanks.  Even better, you can set up a plan for your son to earn something worth earning by having a point system and earning a point with every good behavior.  Dr. Kazdin outlines a specific strategy for this in his book, The Everyday Parenting Toolkit.

I think the only way to really make “Parenting the Invisible” work is to set timers.  When I’m really working it with my 12 year old son, I have to set a timer to go off every 20-30 minutes to remind me that I’m watching for the invisible.  If I don’t set a timer, I forget.  I like to give myself a certain chunk of an evening that I’m focused on being diligent about  parenting this way and during which he can earn points.  It’s not realistic to expect ourselves to do it perfectly all the time, especially if we have other kids and other distractions.

It’s easy to say, “I shouldn’t have to reward this; he should just do it because it’s the right way to act.”

Often times we parents have to give our kids external reasons to do the right things until they develop an internal compass that guides them.

This internal compass kicks in for different kids at different ages depending on their temperament and life stressors, among other things.

Another idea is to stay as calm as possible and simply make an enforceable statement: “I will help you when I hear you ask in a respectful way.” Then go quiet and do not argue or engage with his whining.  If we parents respond and argue and engage when our kids are nasty to us, we teach them that this is an OK way to talk to people.  It’s better for us to let them know that we will be available to provide services, help, time, etc, when they treat us respectfully.  Think “FUTURE SPOUSE.” If you don’t want your son to grow up treating his spouse the way he’s treating you, then do not reward the nasty tone.  Stay calm, go quiet, and be available when you are treated well.

One more idea for you is the Love & Logic® notion of putting an end to whining and arguing by going “Brain Dead” and using a “One-Liner.”  Check out these videos to learn more:



Good luck and please let me know how it goes!

With love and laughter,
Kerry
Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
©2015 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.

Standing Up to Teen Defiance

How to deal with teen defiance, love and logic, parenting classes, denver, co

Big Problems with Teen Defiance

Siblings and rivalry go hand-in-hand so it’s no surprise that 14 year-old Preston taunts and pesters his younger brother, Kyle. Recently, Preston refused to stop pestering his brother and was provoking him by throwing things, hassling him and doing anything he could to elicit a response from his brother just for entertainment. This was much more interesting to him than sitting down and doing homework.  As mom listened to the bickering, name-calling and yelling, she wondered how she would diffuse the situation without aggravating her defiant, strong-willed adolescent even further.

Parenting was so much simpler when the boys were little but now as a single mother of 3 boys, parenting was often aggravating and left mom wondering what to do. After all, two of her three sons were teenagers and had outgrown the parenting strategies that had worked long ago. She wondered how it was possible to reprimand her sons when they became defiant without putting herself in harm’s way.

Taking a Stand Against a Big Kid

When Preston refused to leave the room even when mom demanded it, it was apparent that he had his own agenda. Finally, he left the room but only to return minutes later exhibiting the same behavior that got him in trouble the first time. At that point Preston was worked up and mom was frustrated at her son’s unwillingness to cooperate. Nothing was resolved and mom felt miserable with the state of her family, but it was time for bed. There was no way that this mom was going to try and reprimand her strong-willed teen when he was clearly fired up. She knew better.

Get Out of the Red Zone

Stepping away and allowing her son a chance to cool down elicited a much different response the next morning. After a good night’s sleep, mom decided to tackle her son’s growing defiance when the situation was no longer in the red zone. That morning, she took her son’s phone away for the defiance he had exhibited the night before. Although he was unhappy with his mom’s decision, he was no longer fired up and he begrudgingly handed over his phone.

Be Persistent

After surviving a day without his cell phone and then getting it back, Preston was back to his old tricks. He was taunting his little brother and pestering him for no reason.  This time, however, mom set boundaries immediately for his unwanted behavior and stuck to them. A quick glance from mom along with a calmly executed, “This looks like defiance” was all it took for him to stop. Preston had figured out that his mom was not willing to let his poor behavior be left unchecked..

This was a big wake-up call for her son and a feeling of accomplishment for mom.

She had busted through the fear of angering her teen and was able to take control of the situation with minimal struggle.

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.

Discipline that Makes Cents

Discipline that Makes Sense

Tax Unwanted Behavior

At a parent coaching session recently,  a single dad talked about a real world solution to his parenting dilemma. He charged a tax to his children when they displayed unwanted behavior and paid them a bonus when they displayed positive behavior. What appeared to be a simple solution proved to be a valuable lesson to his children and this reward system worked wonders on bad behavior.

Carpe DIME: Seizing the Opportunity to Change Bad Behavior

This dad shared a story about his 7 year old son and some unwanted behavior. These behaviors included eye rolling and every parent’s favorite phrase, “whatever.”

“It was simple,” he explained, “whenever my son would roll his eyes or say something I didn’t like, he was charged 25 cents.”

He went on to add that, on one occasion, he charged his son $1.00 for an exceptionally crummy thing he had done to his younger brother. After saving their allowances, the boys were given the opportunity to pick a toy at the local Target. The 7 year old had been diligent about saving his allowance and picked out a really cool Star Wars Lego set that he was especially proud of. His younger brother, not being as savvy a shopper, picked out a few cheap toys that were poorly made and not a great value. Although the 3 year old was thrilled with his purchase, his older brother quickly took the wind out of his sails by telling him how stupid his purchase was. The little guy wilted but Dad made sure to turn this into a lesson his 7 year old wouldn’t forget.

Later in the car, Dad told the 7 year old that he would be charged $1.00 for the unnecessary and hurtful actions towards his brother. He told him how much he loved him and, because of that love, he would teach him to be a better person by exhibiting kindness towards his brother. That said, the 7 year old now had his turn to wilt but promptly handed over the dollar to his Dad. The following night, the 7 year old was given the chance to earn back his dollar by treating his brother with love and kindness.

Lessons Learned and Money Earned

The lesson that this Dad was able to teach his 7 year old was invaluable and will serve as a reminder to his son that there are rewards with good behavior just as there are repercussions for bad behavior. With real world lessons such as this one, Dad was able to instill in his son the value of kindness while helping his son to be a better person.
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.

Five Ways to Stop Preschool Drop Off Separation Anxiety (Yes, They Really Work!)

CryingThe hardest part of my day used to be prying my preschooler and kindergartners arms off my legs when I had to drop them off at school. My sons’ howls of protest hurt my heart at the same time it made me wonder what I was doing wrong or what was wrong with them. All three of my boys did it at some stage or another. I can reassure you that this does pass…. my oldest son did absolutely no leg-holding or crying when he left for college last week.

After surviving three kids’ separation anxiety, or “drop off dramas” and talking with many parents about what has helped them, here are a few ideas to experiment with. Please let me know how they work!

Drop off drama usually follows hot on the tail of “Getting Ready in the Mornings Drama” which for many families is the worst time of day. Drop off drama is about a young person experiencing a painful transition from their beloved parent to a room full of new kids and adults. This is very stressful for some little people, especially those who prefer to be at home.

1. Fill the Bucket!

If mornings are stressful, drop offs are bound to be stressful as well. I love the idea of taking a few minutes right before drop off… either in the car or while still at home… to “fill the bucket” of your little one. Imagine if you said something like this, “I know that saying goodbye is hard some days, so how about if we take some time to snuggle and get you all filled up with mommy/daddy-time?”

2. Acknowledge the Sadness and Encourage Communication

Acknowledge your child’s sadness. Invite her to “get her sad out” while you are there to hold her. This can be a good time to read one of the children’s books that address the pain of goodbye The Kissing Hand, The Invisible String, Love You Forever, Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You). It can be fascinating to ask your little one to get out all of his/her sadness while you are together. She might cry, he might protest. You can just be there and say things like, “I know, it’s hard to say goodbye, isn’t it?’ “I love it when you can say how you feel.” You can even invite some fit-throwing. It sounds counter-productive but I promise, it has helped many parents tone down drama and end tantrums in some children. Encouraging your child to feel all his feelings and share them ahead of time lets them feel strongly but do so in the safety of your presence and the privacy of home.

3. Teach Self-Soothing

When it’s NOT the critical drop off moment, have a conversation with your child about what he can say to himself that will help drop offs go better. Hint: He won’t have a clue. That’s when you get to teach positive self-talk by saying something like: “Some kids find it helps to say, ‘I can have fun at school even when I miss my daddy.” Or, “It’s ok to feel sad and mad about saying goodbye. I can handle it.” Or “My mommy/daddy’s love is with me wherever I go.”

4. Give Choices from a “Go To School Menu”

Give them three choices for the three days they go to preschool and each week they can pick which day they use each style. Write them on a simple chart.  No repeats are allowed in a week.

The choices are:
1) Scream and cry and hold onto Mommy’s legs all the way into the classroom.
2) Scream and cry in the car and then walk in holding mommy’s hands, give a big hug and say “goodbye.” 
3) Snuggle with a book before getting in the car and play follow the leader into school, blow kisses and smile.

On the days they chose the scream and cry model, really encourage them do it as intensely as they can. If they start to cry on a non-cry day, warmly remind them that they already had their crying day for that week. After all the build-up and permission to do some good fit-throwing, some kids simply no longer feel the need to do “Drop-off-Drama” and the situation can resolve itself fairly quickly.

5. Make a Fun “Going To School” Book Starring Your Little One

Take them to preschool on a day that they don’t actually attend. Take pictures of them every step of the way. Since there is no impending good-bye, there won’t be any drama. Photograph them smiling in their carseats, smiling in front of the school, walking down the hall holding your hand and standing in the classroom waving a pretend goodbye. Then leave the school, go for a treat and talk about how it felt to go to school so happy. Next, print up the pictures and make a super simple little little book with your child’s name in it: For example: “William Goes to School” book.

Each morning after that, ask your child if they want to go to school happy or sad and let them look at the book. This reinforces that they were able to go to school happy and by looking at the pictures, they will remember the experience of going in peacefully. This technique worked so well with one mom that her child never fussed after that.

Important Things to Remember:

Show compassion for your children who fuss at drop off — saying goodbye to their “home-base” is painful for them. It’s a life skill they must learn, but acknowledge that it’s a hard one.

Have no expectation that this should be easy for them or you. If it’s not, it’s not. It can be a great opportunity for you to teach them different ways to master this important skill.

Put some time and effort into switching up the pattern and you could save yourself and your child a lot of drama and heartache in the long run.



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.

A Teenage Storm Today Makes Way for a Sunny Tomorrow

A Teenage Storm Today Makes Way for a Sunny Tomorrow There are many versions of a “Teenage Storm” – surly, annoyed, resentful, hurtful – perhaps it includes silence or is filled with an angry outburst claiming that you don’t understand. It could be your teen manipulating your emotions in the storm – looking for an opportunity to take advantage of your weakness. Whatever your particular teen brings to the table, I hope you let this parenting story help you remember to consistently stand your ground.

Just two days ago, 15-year old Parker was in a hurry to get out the door and head to school. When I took an extra minute to grab my coffee, he snapped at me in such a loud, angry voice that was so rude and harsh that it startled me. I kept my composure on the way to school. I needed to think about how I wanted to handle but I knew that we were both too heated to discuss it well in that moment. He got out of the car and slammed the door with a sarcastic remark of, “Good job mom, you finally made it.” Bear in mind that this kid could be riding the bus to school, but it’s a long walk and early morning and I generally like the chance to be with him, so I drive him to school.

After school, I calmly told him that the way he had treated me felt bad. He got fired up again and accused me of “going psycho over every little thing.” Of course, this hurt my feelings also. I mean, I am a reformed yeller and rarely raise my voice in anger!

In typical teenage fashion, that same afternoon, Parker wanted me to drive him to get a haircut and to a friend’s house. After putting on some mental armor and reinforcements to endure his inevitable protest, I calmly said to my son, “The way you treated me today doesn’t leave me feeling willing to do you any favors or drive you around.” Then I added a common phrase of mine, “I love you too much to let you learn it’s ok to treat me poorly.”

He was furious. And really disappointed about having to stay home while his friends got together. Fortunately, he kept it to himself. Still, I felt gross, he was grumpy and let’s just say it didn’t feel like the Cleaver household that evening.

The next day, everything changed. During breakfast, Parker was kind and helpful. He seemed calm and collected – the night of ruminating on his choices seemed to have had a positive effect. When he again asked me about taking him for a haircut, I had no problem rewarding his request and we had a nice evening.

Following through with consequences and limits with a strong-willed teen can be daunting. Teens never thank their parents for being firm (can you believe??) and we often feel like we have to run for cover when those particularly surly teens protest our attempts at discipline. But I swear, every time I set a limit and have the nerve to follow through, every time I’m strict with my strong-willed teen, I have to endure the storm, but once it is over, my teen is sweeter and nicer than he was before.



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.

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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Happy Starts to Preschool

Dear Kerry,
I’m a stay at home mom of twin boys and I knew that starting preschool would be difficult for them to deal with. New places, new faces, a new routine and the absence of mom would be a lot for them to digest so; I decided that instead of dreading this wonderful event in the lives of my boys, I would embrace it with Love and Logic® parenting. Following are some of the ideas that were a success for me and my boys; I hope your readers find them useful.

Loads of Love

Before we head to class, I gave each of them plenty of hugs and kisses. Not just a few, I overloaded them with lots of love, snuggles, hugs and kisses while asking them if they had gotten enough to last until pick up time. I also asked if I could give one more kiss on their nose, forehead, cheek, chin, etc. just to make sure that they were covered from head to toe in love. When they decided that they had received enough loving to make it through the day, I would take them into class.

Practice Makes Perfect

In order to get my boys accustomed to a new experience, I decided to practice the preschool routine in an effort to turn their jitters to joy. I held preschool practice sessions on days when my boys didn’t have to go to school. From walking out the door with backpacks in hand, to walking into the classroom and saying goodbye, my boys became familiar with the process and what to expect. I made sure to document this process with lots of pictures in order to remember our practice routine and show my boys how to successfully arrive at preschool with zero anxiety and fuss.

Preschool Platter

Another great idea that worked well for my boys was a menu board. The board showed pictures ranging from a crying and screaming child that’s holding his mother’s leg to a happy and hopping child that’s glad to be going to school. There was enough variety on the board that my boys were able to plan out their week of going to school, which allowed them to decide how they wanted to arrive at school. If either boy started to fuss on day one, I would offer a reminder that we’re “happy and hopping into class today” and that “crying and fussing” isn’t on the menu until Wednesday. This was a perfect way to create a positive experience while having fun.

Lastly, I found the following books to be helpful; “The Kissing Hand”, “The Invisible String” and “I Love You All Day Long”. They were great tools that prepared my boys for preschool while helping them to understand and enjoy the experience. I hope these ideas are helpful!
Thanks,
Jan
Auburn, CA
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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