Tag: school

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.

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.

When Kids Complain About Their Teachers

How does a wise parent respond when his/her youngster says, “My teacher is mean!”?

Because we care deeply for our kids, there are two traps that are far too easy to slip into:

Trap #1:
Mary’s well-meaning mom says, “Don’t worry, honey, I’ll give her a call and get this straightened out.”
Is Mary learning how to solve her own problems?  No!

Trap #2:
Freddy’s well-meaning dad says, “Well, if you would just work a little harder on your homework, I’m sure that she would get off of your case.”
Uh, oh! What are the chances that Freddy’s dad will end up in a run-down nursing home some day?

The Love and Logic way:
Sam’s parents know that empathy is the most important skill. They also know that kids need to learn how to succeed with nice teachers…and demanding ones, too.

These parents respond, “That’s got to be rough. Would you like to hear how some kids get along with tough teachers?”

Kids learn to solve problems and be responsible when we resist the urge to rescue or lecture.


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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Be Careful About Taking Away What Your Kids Need the Most

When we’ve got a seriously underachieving youngster, it’s awfully tempting to resort to taking away all sorts of things in a desperate attempt to motivate them to do their schoolwork.

Sadly, this often backfires, leading the child to become even more resistant about learning.

Most of us wouldn’t feel that motivated if our spouse said, “Ok, that’s it! No more golf [or whatever else we might love to do] until I start getting some better reports from your boss!”

While it’s entirely reasonable to set some limits on TV, video games, and other entertainment activities when kids are doing poorly in school, taking them out of their favorite sport, Boy Scouts, music lessons, etc. is a bad idea. The research is clear:
Children who are involved in a healthy extracurricular activity are far less likely to get involved in drugs, sex, gangs, and other high-risk activities.

Kids who are struggling in school need at least one natural high…so that they aren’t so tempted by various artificial ones.


Dr. Charles Fay
©2009 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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How to Get Kids to Lie

Rex had been terrorizing the other 5th graders at school. The other kids were beginning to refuse to play anywhere near him during recess.

Rex’s teacher was often convinced that he was behind most problems that happened when her back was turned. She explained it to his mother one day with, “I never see him cause a problem, but when there is one, he’s the kid who knows all the details and looks more innocent than anyone else.”

Finally the playground supervisor saw him punch one of the girls from behind, knocking her to the ground. However, when told about this, his mother refused to believe the story.

Her response was, “I asked Rex if he did it, and he said no. I have to believe my child.”

Mom fell into a trap occupied by many parents who don’t realize that it is human nature to deny responsibility. The best way to get anyone to lie is to ask, “Did you do that?”

What is the solution? Once you know something happened, don’t ask your child if he/she did it. Do this instead:

“Rex. I know that you hit the girl. Here is what I’m going to do about it.”

Rex will still say, “But I didn’t do it.”

“I’m sorry, Rex. That’s not what we are talking about. We are talking about what’s going to happen.”


Jim Fay
©2009 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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Thinking for Himself

After reading Parenting with Love and Logic™, Tim’s mom instituted a new bedtime policy. She told Tim that picking a sleep time was his decision. He was expected to be in his room at 8:00 each evening, but he could decide when to go to sleep. In addition to this, everyone in the family was to have “feet on the floor” at 6:00 a.m. No exceptions.

Tim slept through his alarm the next morning, only to discover that the family was leaving the house without him. A rather unpleasant babysitter took over and charged him for her services.

Needless to say, he was ready the next morning. This continued through the last four weeks of school. All during summer vacation, much to his liking, he got to sleep longer.

Now that school was soon to open, Tim came to his mom with an idea. “Mom, I’m going to run some experiments. I’m going to set my alarm for 6:00 a.m. Will you get me out of bed no matter how much I complain?”

“Now why would you want me to do that, Tim?”

“I’m running some experiments. Each night I’m going to go to bed a little later until I figure out how late I can go to sleep and still wake up in time. Since it’s my decision, I better learn how to make it a good one.”


Jim Fay
©2009 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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The Love and Logic™ Vaccination Plan

Our world is getting more complex and dangerous for kids every day. How do we best protect them so that they will survive?

Resist the urge to overprotect!

Like vaccinations for physical disease, parents who apply Love and Logic allow their kids to develop decision-making “antibodies” by being exposed to plenty of small temptations, by being allowed to make plenty of small mistakes, and by being loved enough to be held accountable for their poor decisions.

It makes sense that if our child is about to run into a busy intersection or jam a fork into an electrical outlet, we’re going to step in. But how do we respond when the temptations they face have much smaller, more affordable price tags?

Lucky is the child whose parents are brave enough to let them make the mistake of wasting their allowance on bubble gum. Even luckier is the child whose parents also hold them accountable by refusing to give in when they beg for more cash.

Lucky is the child whose parents are brave enough to let them make the mistake of watching TV instead of finishing their science fair project. Even luckier is the child whose parents love them enough to resist the urge to do the project for them.

Yes! Lucky indeed is the child who understands through experience that every decision has its consequences.

Thanks for reading.

Dr. Charles Fay
©2009 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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Connor Forgets His Snack

We had been struggling to keep second grade Connor focused on his “morning school routine” list as he is a major dawdler, as most are. So one morning I realized both my husband and I were reminding him of checking his list, “Do you have your snack? Have you made your lunch?  Where’s your water bottle, etc”. Annoying for us and him I’m sure. I told my husband that we needed to let him fail and so we decided to stop reminding and let him focus on his tasks.

Last week was a perfect Love and Logic teaching moment. We had the “set him up for success” conversation the day before, discussing what tasks needed to be done in the morning and then put our plan into action.

The next morning I modeled out loud,  “Ok, what do I need to do this morning?” Connor was wandering around. I made breakfast, we ate. I said “I’m done, so I put my dishes in the dishwasher. Now I am going to brush my teeth.”

Connor was still eating. I got ready and sat in the chair where he still was and announced “Bus is leaving it 10 minutes”. He finally got up and went to his room and then went to the bathroom. I announced, “5 minutes”. Then the doorbell rang and it was the two neighbors that we walk to school with. I told them to go ahead without Connor since he was running late.( I am now laughing inside because this is going to go just as planned.)

He came out of the bathroom, wandering around, and said “Who was at the door?” “The neighbor’s,” I said. He said “WHAT! WHERE ARE THEY?” So I calmly told him that since you weren’t ready, they should go on ahead since I didn’t want them to be late for school.  He said “MOM! WHY DID YOU DO THAT?”  “Well you weren’t ready, so I’m waiting on you”.

You have never seen a 7 yr old move so fast! As we head out the door he starts to get in the car and I say “We’re walking.” “WHAT, we’re going to be late!” he says. I say “probably so” and calmly start walking up the street. He is now running and wants me to run too but I don’t.

We get to school with five minutes to spare, but here’s the best part. He is unpacking his backpack and realizes he forgot his snack and water bottle.  He says “Mom, we forgot my snack and water bottle!”. His voice tapers off a bit as he says water bottle. And then just looks at me, hangs his head, and knows it was he that forgot it. I said, “Yeah, what a bummer, love you, have a great day” and walked away, smiling. I just wish I had a camera to capture the look on his face.  As I walked out of school I was laughing and patting myself on the back for allowing him the experience of this logical consequence.

Then next morning and since every morning since he is proudly telling me or his dad that he’s got everything ready.

Shelly Moorman
©2009 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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School Success

I’ve lost count of the number of phone calls I have received from frustrated educators telling about a student who appears to have no motivation for schoolwork.

When I ask about the child’s home life I often hear that the family is in turmoil, or that the child has few, if any limits at home. Seldom do I hear that the child does his share of the household chores.

It is typical for the educators to say, “I know that he has a bad situation at home, but we’re expected to get him to be successful at school.” This is like a building contractor saying, “I know that the foundation is crumbling, but I’ll guarantee to build a sturdy building anyway because that’s what’s expected of me.”

The foundation for success in school is laid down at home with a secure home life, which includes loving limits, affection, quality time with parents, and expectations that everyone in the family does their fair share of the household chores.


Jim Fay
©2009 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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