Tag: modeling

Dear Kerry: “Unwinding After School”

Dear Kerry,

My first grader really needs some “down time” when he gets home from school or else he falls apart if we do any other activities. I’ve started letting him have half an hour to curl up and watch a show. It seems to be helping. Any reason that I shouldn’t be letting him do this?

Regards,
Karen

 

Dear Karen,

I’m glad that you can recognize that your son does best when he has some down time after school! That’s great. What I would suggest is that you expand the ways that you encourage him to “unwind.” If you always let him watch TV, then it’ll likely become a pattern that could stick with him into adulthood. The downside of watching a show to unwind is that when we watch, we turn off our brains. We get to stop feeling and thinking. That’s why we like it! But that is so limiting.

I’d rather see your son have an “Unwind Box” with options he can choose from. Imagine if each day, he picked a different way to unwind after school. Here are some possibilities:

  • Write “TV” on a tennis ball
  • Music: put in an iPod or something for him to listen to and possibly sing along with, music.
  • Art: put in various art supplies such as playdough, stuff for drawing or painting.
  • Sports: how about a few balls that he can throw outside, throw in his room, a ball to shoot baskets, a photo of the trampoline to go jump?
  • Cooking: For an older kid, you could put a measuring cup in which gives permission for him to bake or cook for pleasure.
  • A stuffed animal to represent that you will snuggle with him that day.
  • Books
  • Puzzles
  • Mazes
  • Building toys
  • Figures for imaginary play

If he gets to (or has to) select from all these options for how he unwinds, you will be raising a kid who can feel relaxed and happy doing a wide variety of activities. He will be much less likely to be addicted to watching screens or playing video games as his way to tune out and shut out the world.

 

Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
©2017 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.

“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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And Then My Daughter Said.. “You’re Not a Rock Star!”

I started using my new Love and Logic® skills of empathy and going brain dead.  My 4 year old daughter wasn’t too happy when I set a limit about eating snacks before dinner.  She started arguing back and I calmly said “I know.” 

I could tell she was trying to figure out a way to get me to engage with her.

You had told me in class that kids would escalate their comebacks to new levels, but when she said “You’re not a rock star!” I burst out laughing as I agreed with her saying,  “I know.”  

It was great, it broke the tension and she laughed too.  The argument was over and we hugged and went on with our day.

In addition, I now know that when she tells me “I’m not a rock star” after a couple of “I knows” that she will soon give up and we will move on to other things.

–Katie K

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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When is it Okay to Rescue?

Young girl with life ringThose who know Love and Logic™ know the damage done by C.H.P.S.
“Chronic Helicopter Parent Syndrome.”

Parents who chronically rescue their kids from the consequences of their poor decisions create kids who are chronically irresponsible and chronically unhappy.

“You are so weak that you can’t survive without me” is the unintentional yet very real message sent by this parenting style.

While this is true, are there any circumstances when it’s okay, or essential, to rescue our kids?

Absolutely! Foster W. Cline, M.D. provides some “rules for rescue.”
• Don`t hesitate to rescue when life and limb are in danger.
• It’s fine to occasionally rescue really responsible kids.
• It’s typically a big mistake to rescue irresponsible ones.
• It’s often okay to rescue when your child doesn’t expect it.
• It’s almost always unwise to rescue when your child demands it.

Good parents rescue their kids from time to time. Why? Because they realize that some day they may need to be rescued by their kids!

The great challenge for all of us is to determine whether doing so fosters love and mutual respect, or dependency, resentment, and irresponsibility.

Dr. Charles Fay
©2010 Jim Fay, Charles Fay, Ph.d.& Love and Logic® Institute

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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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Three Different Parenting Styles

Drill Sergeant | Helicopter | Consultant

Different Parenting StylesWere you raised by a “Drill Sergeant” always telling you to “Jump,” and you asking, “How high?” or were you raised by a “Helicopter” always hovering, ready to swoop in and rescue?  Did you ever think about what kind of a message these parenting styles send to your kids? Drill sergeants are communicating these messages:  “You can’t think for yourself.  You can’t make it without me.”  Helicopters send these messages: “You are fragile. You need me to protect you.”

Are these the kinds of messages you want to send to your precious children?  If not, what can you do instead?

Consider adopting the “Consultant” approach to parenting.  Consultants send this message to their kids:  “You do your own best thinking.”  How do consultant parents do this?  One way is to offer choices and alternatives instead of giving orders or commands.  Commands give something for the kids to fight against.  Choices keep kids in thinking mode.  Here are some guidelines for giving choices effectively:

Give only 2 choices, either of which you are happy with.

“Do you want to do your homework before or after your snack?”
“Do you want me to change your diaper over here or over there?”

If the child doesn’t decide in 10 seconds, you decide for them.

Only give choices when things are going well and before any resistance.

Build up your choice savings account so you can make a withdrawal.

“Sweetie, don’t I usually give you choices?  It’s my turn now. Thanks for understanding.”

Kids Cooperate Better When They Have Choices

Many of the parents in my classes have been happy when they report how they’ve gained their child’s cooperation by giving choices.  Parents report their toddlers successfully choose which bib to wear or which shoe to put on first or what song to sing when getting into the car seat.  Parents share that their school age kids choose between washing the plates or the glasses first, going to bed now or in 10 minutes, or brushing their teeth before or after putting on their pajamas.   Adding the tool of choices to your parenting toolbox can be just what you’re looking for to adjust your parenting style to the more consultative approach.

Shelly Moorman
©2010 Shelly Moorman, 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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Teaching Our Kids to Be Happy

Teaching Kids to Be HappyAll of us want our kids to grow up to be happy adults. So, what’s the secret to raising kids who see the glass as half full rather than half empty?

Teaching our children that happiness comes from within is probably the most important piece of the puzzle.

In other words, happiness has more to do with how we think about our circumstances than with our actual circumstances.

Much of this optimism is taught through modeling.

When the car has a flat tire, teach your kids to be happy by saying:
“Well, the good thing is that it’s only flat on the bottom!”

When it’s rainy outside, teach them to be optimistic by saying:
“That’s the liquid sunshine that makes flowers grow.”

When you make a mistake, smile and say:
“Wouldn’t it be annoying if you had perfect parents?”

When your kids blow it, pat them on the back and say:
“The great thing about you is that you’re a chip off the old block…you’re great at solving problems.”

Positive parents raise positive kids!

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.

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Getting Kids to Pick Up – With No Nagging!

A dad I work with just announced to his 3 little boys that he has a new plan for a “Sunday Shelf.”

Getting Kids to Pick Up Their ToysHere’s how it works:

• When the kids don’t pick up their stuff as asked, dad picks up for them and puts everything on the “Sunday Shelf.”
• On Sunday, he pulls it all out and charges them x cents for each thing he picked up.
• If the kids protest, he says with empathy, “This is how it is in the real world… you can either pick up after yourself or hire someone to do it.  Looks like you chose to hire someone.  There’s always next week and you can do it differently if you’d like.”

After Dad explained the new deal, 7 year old Ethan complained, “That doesn’t sound like such a good deal for us, Dad.”

Words like that are a great indicator that you are giving your kids opportunities to be responsible and well-prepared for the real world as an adult.

And one more thing….

Dad does the “Sunday Shelf” fee collection just moments after giving them their weekly allowance to make sure they are able to pay their fines.



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 Do I Get My Kid To Do The Dishes?

Getting Kids to Help With ChoresFirst, it is important that children contribute to the household. Not only does it send an important message to our children –

“You are a valuable member of this family and we count on you to make our family function”

– but it gives them a sense of accomplishment and self-worth.  Studies also show that kids who contribute at home do better at school and are more responsible with their homework.

How do you get started?

Call a family meeting. Announce that you are going to talk about each family member’s contributions.  Start with Mom and Dad’s roles.  Ask, “Who is going to pay the mortgage?”  Write it down in Mom & Dad’s column.  Then move on to who will pay the electric, gas, phone, cell phone, internet, and food bills. Continue by asking who will shop for food, prepare food, etc.  Then, when the parents’ list is nice and long, ask, “Who could set the table?”  “Who will clear the table?” “Unload the dishwasher?” “Vacuum?” “Dust?” You will be surprised with how willing the kids are to discuss what “contributions” they will volunteer for and how they decide to split them up among the siblings.

One dad reported that his 6- & 9-year-old boys argued about who got to take out the trash.  “I should, I’m older.”  “No, I should because you have more chores than I do,” said the younger. Another mom found out that her 7-year-old daughter was upset that mom got a housekeeper because she liked cleaning the bathrooms!

How do you implement?

Give kids a deadline.  Ask them to have a chore done by Friday dinner, tonight before bed, or before soccer practice.  Don’t demand.  We adults don’t like it when our bosses treat us like that!  Then, go on with your business.  Don’t harp, don’t remind, don’t nag.  If the contribution is not done, then you say, “This is so sad. I’m going to have to do something about this, but not now.  Try not to worry.”  Then the kids worry while you have time to come up with a plan for a logical consequence. If you want more information on how to come up with good consequences, I teach classes and offer parent coaching on this skill.

Should you pay them?

Don’t pay for their contributions.  You want the little voice in their sweet heads to say, “I’m doing this because I’m a valuable member of the family,” not “I’m doing this because I’m getting 5 bucks!”

Should they get allowance?

Yes. Just like you give them books to practice reading, give them money to practice spending and saving. Just don’t tie the allowance to their contributions. The general guideline out there is $1 per year of age, so a 10-year-old would get $10 a week. However, you should do what makes sense for you, the child, and the family budget.  Let them spend it and pray they make bad decisions and buy things that break easily.  Better they learn the lesson when the cost is low than in the real world when the cost is expensive.  Some parents like to have the kids set aside a certain percentage of their allowance for savings and a certain percentage to give to charity.

At what age can you begin?

You can start as early as 3-4 years old.  That’s the age when you start the association between the job, fun, and you!  Get the little guy to walk with dad as he takes out the trash. He gets a high five and a “good job” from dad.  Now he associates trash with love!  And at age 6-7, you step out of the picture and the child still has the job and the fun!

Parents who try the family meeting, contributions, deadlines and allowances report amazing stories of participation and cooperation.

Isn’t it at least worth an experiment to see if these steps will get your kids to do the dishes?


Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2012 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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Little Kids Want to Be Big Kids

Little Kids Always Want to Be Big KidsLittle kids want to be big kids, and parents can leverage that desire to get cooperation when behavior problems arise.

In one example, 4-year-old Emma’s mom asked her to blow her nose. “No!” Emma shouted. Remembering how important it was for Emma to feel like a big kid, Mom said, “Oh, that’s right, I know that only big kids can blow their noses by themselves.”

Emma grabbed the Kleenex from her mom and said, “I can too blow my nose! I’m a big kid,” and proceeded around the room showing everyone in her family how she was a “big kid” and could blow her nose.

6-year-old Jack’s mom told him it was time to take a shower. He yelled, “I’m not doing it!” and ran out of the room. Mom’s Love and Logic parenting skills sprang into her mind as she called out, “That’s okay, I’ll run a bath for you because I know that only big kids shower.” She laughed when she told me this, “I hadn’t even finished my sentence and he was in the shower. He was showing me he was ‘big’.”

This parenting strategy also works when you’re dealing with a toddler who is a picky eater. Make a big production out of how you and your spouse are eating “adult food” and how your child is eating “boring little kid food.” As you eat, talk to each other about how tasty your food is. Really “Ooooh,” and “Awe,” over it. Ask for seconds.

If your picky eater’s curiosity gets peaked and he asks, “What’s that you’re eating?” respond, “Oh, this is big people food, you won’t like it. You only like kid food.” If he asks again, one of you say, “What do you think, should we let him taste it?” and have the other answer, “Nooooo, he’s too little, he won’t like it.”  Keep this up and pretty soon he’ll be begging for a taste.

This parenting strategy might not work with every kid, but it’s sure fun to experiment with it. And isn’t it better than the lectures, threats and bribes that you’ve tried before?


Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2012 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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