Author Archives: parentsfriend

Family Meetings Fizzling? Here’s Help

Well run Family Meetings improve communication, let every voice be heard, save time, ease decision making, and are far too rare.

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Every time I talked about family meetings at workshops or with parents seeking help, three responses predominated. Some parents said:

“Tried that. Didn’t work. No way I’m trying again.”
“Go to too many meetings at my job; all a waste of time.”
The third response would be a facial expression screaming “No, no.”

If I was lucky enough to get a family to talk about why their family meetings failed, the answers were pretty much the same:

“Too much complaining, too much whining, too much venting.”
“Took too long to get everyone to agree.”
“The kids sat silently and later complained we were first class dictators.”

I don’t blame the parents for failing; I blame the parent advice experts. Some of the advice mirrors my own: set an agenda, use go-round discussions, build fun into the process, have opening and closing rituals. Good advice.

However, is a sample of advice that made me screech like someone stepped on a sore toe; it is from an article in Parenting Magazine:

The best approach to planning family meetings is probably to set up the expectation that the whole family will meet to try to make decisions and solve problems together.

Hog wash, humbug and a set up for dissent and difficulty. Mostly a plea for democracy. However, democracy works when there are strong, caring leaders who know what needs to happen, who know what is possible, and who don’t let the kids vote until they are at least eighteen and in many places, twenty-one.

Contrary to popular opinion as reflected in most of the parenting advice floating around, a family run as a democracy does not work. Let me repeat that: A family run as a democracy does not work.

Families work best when parents take on the role of benign dictators. Be very clear, I am talking about benign dictatorships not the ones invested in getting the trains to run on time and the masses bowing or saluting un-elected and cruel leaders.

Here are my tips for becoming a benign family meeting leader and having half a chance of running a successful family meetings:

1. Repeat and believe the following mantra. For two parent families: “Us, our house, our wallet, our rules.” For a single parent home: “Me, my house, my wallet, my rules.

2. Do not work to keep everyone happy, allow everyone to vent, or allow full participation in the problem solving process. Your job as a parent is to  pay the bills, assure children kept safe and properly cared for, not to assure happiness.

3. Make the rules and punishments are clear,  fair, just,  realistic, and work for the betterment of all, are

4. Allows a few decisions to be reached by consensus or vote, but do so carefully, and if dissent arises,  exercise the benign dictator’s right to rule.

5. Do not allow pop-corning. Pop-corning lets participants speak at random. Instead use the go-round facilitation style. The facilitator asks the questions or poses a comment for discussion at the start of each go-round; the others respond one by one. As each person responds, the facilitator merely nods or say “Thank you.”

If during a go-round someone speaks rudely, speaks about another person’s view instead of their own, the facilitator says “Please stay on topic, and repeats the question or item for discussion.

A Reality Check: If you have been following the “Siblings Without Rivalry,” soft love ideas that parents are responsible for their child’s feelings and happiness becoming a benign dictator model will not be easy.

Moreover, the kids will protest. Wouldn’t you if someone instead of focusing exclusively on your happiness, started to tell you a variation of “Suck it up, Buttercup”.

What to do? Announce the change in parenting styles. Reframe it as the next step to adulthood. Say something like this:

“You are at the age, when you need to learn what it means to be an adult and that means attending and participating in meetings like a grown up. We are going to have Family Meeting and I am going to run them like a hard-nosed boss.

Second reality check: If your parenting style has been that of Marine Commander ala The Great Santini, meaning you either don’t have family meetings or use them to issue edicts to your sullen or frightened subjects. You will need to reverse tactics and follow the more usual advice of letting your subjects make more decisions, and giving them more rewards. Your mantra needs to be “Their life, their needs.”

Final reality check: Expect stress whether this is your first attempt to hold a family meeting or a renewed attempt. If switching parent styles is part of the process that will add more stress. Here’s an introduction to EFT’s Self-soothing skills. So a tip or two about dealing with that stress.

Tip one: Keep your expectations realistic. Hold six meetings and then figure out if they are working. If working, take everyone out for ice cream or to the movies as a reward. If not working, think about having a parent coach come and help get things on track be possible?

Tip two: Work to improve your self-soothing skills. Practice my Daily Twelve Emotional Fitness Exercises. Here’s an introductory link. For more on self-soothing, consider buying my eBook, Self-soothing To Create Peace In Your LIfe. It costs less than a latte and lasts longer.

Tip three: If all family times are mad or sad times, consider seeking a competent professional consultation.

Thank you for all you do

Practice kindness. Remember to share all you find of value on the internet.  All who post crave recognition. A like says “Thank You.” Comments say you have read and thought about the post. Sharing is a gift to three people: the blogger, the people you share with, and you for your kindness blesses you.

Stay strong, it takes some effort for life can be a painful struggle.

Katherine

Post Inspiration: This post was not inspired  by the WordPress Daily  Prompt:  Clean.

Go here to learn more about the Daily Prompts.

Links of Interest

These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.

Disclaimer two: Take all advice even mine, carefully.  Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, listen to your heart.  Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others.  As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest.

Disclaimer two: Forgive my grammatical errors

If  you need perfect posts, you will not find them  here;  I will understand if you don’t follow, like or share what  like me.  Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability,  Some of my posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense.  If  you want to hang in with me, thank you; you are kind. If a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, stop reading, I will understand.

 

 

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Are Your Children Angsting Over the Election Results?

Image by Ad Week

Image by Ad Week

A BITTER FACT: Unless you control your upset about the election, you are passing your feelings on to your children. Not good.

I rarely say parents are at fault, but am hearing far too many complaints about how children are upset by the election. Then there was learning that my grandson’s first grade class held an election and the kids whose candidates lost were upset. Well, no child likes to lose, but no child who is just learning to read knows the difference between POTUS and the man in the moon and the Tooth Fairy.

Do I sound cranky, well I am. I do not like to see children hurt or parents misguided and much of today’s parenting advice and  the  media promote the idea that  children are as wise or wiser than adults. Not true. Children are not little adults and their thought processes are not like ours.

As Thomas Phelon, author of One, Two, Three Magic, notes, “Adults who believe in the Little Adult Assumption are going to rely heavily on words and reasons in trying to change the behavior of young kids. And words and reasons are going to be miserable failures much of the time.”

Moreover, the younger the child, the more your feelings become their feelings. So if your child is upset about the election, check your feelings and deal with the angst in ways that will not harm your children.

Emotional Fitness Training Tips for Parents

Tip one: Remember age and stage.

Children learning to read are just moving to what some call “The Age of Reason.” Before then their thinking is what Piaget, the leading researcher in this area call Sensory Motor and then  Pre-operational

Pre-operational thoughts are often described as magical. Piaget says they are based primarily on what the child sees and perceives on his or her own. Best example: Children of this age think the people on television are actually living inside your tv.  Dolls and toys come alive during make-believe play.

The next stage is generally entered into as the child’s brain develops enough so s/he learns to read which why many calls it “The Age of Reason, ” but as Piaget notes, thinking is limited to what the child can see and touch.  The child can begin to think about other people’s thoughts and perspective, but this ability is limited; the child’s interpretations are based more on their own thoughts and rarely extend to one or two other possibilities.

From puberty on, the capacity to think abstractly develops. The abstract thinker is no longer bound by the concrete or their ego-centric views. S/he can imagine countless possibilities which is why abstract thinking teen embrace the occult.

Two problems exist with regards to abstract thought.  Not every one gets there. Estimates vary but probably slightly over 50% of all adults are abstract thinkers. More over trauma dumbs down the ability to think abstractly.

The other problem relates mainly to teens or those first acquiring the ability to think broadly, judgement may be limited. Why teens will take risks that thinking adults will avoid.

Tip two: Use knowledge of age and stage to guide you and keep your angst from affecting your child in all the wrong ways.

Do not discuss or expose children under the age of ten to political talk either yours or the media’s.

If the child asks why you are unhappy, or seems concerned about you, do not deny your feelings but leaven them for the child with a comment like the following: “I’m upset about grownup things, try not to be bothered.” Then divert the child with something s/he enjoys. “Lets play Uno, that will cheer me up.” “Lets make cookies, that is always good to do when upset.”

With those moving toward abstract thought, you can say the election results upset you and invite discussion about what they know about who won, who lost and why some people including you are upset.

It is probably a good ides to also admit that part of your upset is illogical, mainly because you are awfulizing (imagining the worse) and trying to predict the future which is not possible.

Tip three: Get involved in one or another civic activity and let your children know you how you are taking action to counter your fears and upset. Doing any of the following strengthens you that helps your children:

  1. Stay informed, avoid faux news, bias reporting. The disputed issues are always complicated.
  2. Stay calm.
  3. Promote calm in others.
  4. Seek support for your views from groups allied with your beliefs.
  5. Offer moral and financial support to groups and people allied with your beliefs.
  6. Condemn violence and calls for violence even when you agree with the source’s political agenda.
  7. Protest by respectfully stating your views via phone calls and letters to politicians  and media sources.
  8. Seek common ground from those who do not agree with your politics.
  9. Stay focused on the common good.

Tip four: Improve your self-soothing skills and teach your children how to seIf-sooth.   My eBook, Self-soothing To Create Calm in Your Life will help you do both. It is on sale not for $3.06. Buy it now.  It will do you more good than a latte and costs less.

Tip five: If you cannot control your feelings enough to do the above, get therapy.  Also my book Parents Are People Too, An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents strengthen therapy outcomes. Buy it now to read on your computer or kindle.   It is also available for a penny and on up in the used paperback edition. 

Thank you for all you do

Remember to share all you find of value on the internet.  All who post crave recognition. A like says “Thank You.” Comments say you have read and thought about the post. Sharing is a gift to three people: the blogger, the people you share with, and you for your kindness blesses you.

Stay strong, it takes some effort for life can be a painful struggle.

Katherine

Post Inspiration: This post was not inspired  by the WordPress Daily  Prompt:  Echo, but by the repeated (echoing) posts and thoughts about how the recent election was hurting children.

Go here to learn more about the Daily Prompts.

Links of Interest

These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.

Disclaimer two: Take all advice even mine, carefully.  Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, listen to your heart.  Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others.  As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest.

Disclaimer two: Forgive my grammatical errors

If  you need perfect posts, you will not find them  here;  I will understand if you don’t follow, like or share what  like me.  Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability,  Some of my posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense.  If  you want to hang in with me, thank you; you are kind. If a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, stop reading, I will understand.

 

The STOP Plan – A Giant Tool for Eliminating A ChildBad Behavior

The Stop Plan

Parents need lots of tools when it comes to controlling negative behavior, for as Abraham Maslo noted, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”

Sometimes, behavior is so unacceptable, it must be stopped immediately.  The STOP plan is designed for those times.  Use the STOP plan when someone is :

  • In danger or putting others in danger.
  • Hurting another including pets
  • Breaking the law
  • Destroying valuable property.
  • Bullying
  • Doing something others would find disgusting.
  • Stepping on your last nerve as a parent or care-giver.

Parents and care-givers have limits.  The experts talk a great deal about boundaries, but mostly in terms of parents not violating a child’s boundary.  Parental and care-giver boundaries also need protecting, and so “Stepping on someone’s last nerve” is included in the mix of unacceptable behaviors.

Here is how to use STOP:

  • S = Say the word stop. Say it loud, even angrily.
  • T = Tell the person what to stop.
  • O = Offer an alternative more positive behavior.
  • P = Physically forcing compliance if necessary, but add a positive even if obeying had to be forced.  Physically forcing compliance if the child does not comply with your command means using you hands.

More examples of the Stop Plan

  • STOP running toward the street, run to me instead.
  • STOP hurting your sister, go to your room and calm down.
  • STOP pulling the dog’s ears, pet her instead
  • STOP crossing the street when the light is red; obey the law.
  • STOP pounding the wall, go to your room and pound your pillow
  • STOP bullying your brother, apologize or go to your room.
  • STOP spitting on the ground, use a tissue instead.
  • STOP making me crazy with that noise,  go outside to play before I really flip out.

Stay In Control 

Behavior that makes it necessary to use the STOP plan usually finds a parent angry, afraid, or super stressed. Having strong self-soothing skills dampens those reactions, so you can enforce the STOP Plan more calmly and easily.

To strengthen your self-soothing skills: buy my eBook Creat Calm in Your Life. Costs  only $2.99 which is less than a latte.

Two Warnings

  1. Use physical force carefully. With the preschooler, just sweeping them up in your arms and giving a gentle hug works. With an older child, try a  hand on their shoulder. With a teen who is bigger and stronger, you may need a second person to help get compliance.
  2. Do not over use this plan. Lots of other tools work better and over use of any tool diminishes its effectiveness.

Thank you for all you do

Remember to share all you find of value on the internet.  All who post crave recognition. A like says “Thank You.” Comments say you have read and thought about the post. Sharing is a gift to three people: the blogger, the people you share with, and you for your kindness blesses you.

Katherine

Post Inspiration: This post inspired  by the  WordPress Daily  Prompt: Giant.

Go here to learn more about the Daily Prompts.

Links of Interest

These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.

Even the most learned researchers and therapists quarrel about much.  Take their advice and mine carefully.  Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, listen to your heart.  Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others.  As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest.

Disclaimer two: Forgive my grammatical errors

If  you need perfect posts, you will not find them  here;  I will understand if you don’t follow, like or share what  like me.  Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability,  Some of my posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense.  If  you want to hang in with me, thank you; you are kind. If a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, stop reading, I will understand.

Teach Your Children The Value of A Not-knowing Philosophy

Thank you

That should also read, “Every Mind…..”

Our minds get filled with lots of stuff as we grow from baby to adult. The beliefs we create are part of what forms our being.  Beliefs are based on our genetic heritage, what other’s tell us, and what we accept as fact based on our experiences.  Which explains why siblings can be alike or different and also why some twins raised in separate home turn out to have similar tastes and beliefs.

Fact:  There are what some call “Brute facts.” These, however, are not necessarily scientific truths. Think of the solid paths we walk across  without thought:  floors, cement, hard packed dirt, rocky cliffs. What seems solid enough to be called a Brute fact, might be anything but, and could in a second cast you down, cover you with lava, or pull you into a pit of sand.

Learning to accept a “Not Knowing  philosophy is the stepping stone to becoming  a critical thinker.  And critical thinking is the doorway to emotional intelligence.

Here’s a fact that is forgotten in today’s youth oriented world. While  young children have poetic moments, thinking that makes great thinkers could get them killed.  Why we make our small children hold our hands crossing the street or in parking lots and discourage playing with matches.

Another forgotten fact: Children and many adults think with their feelings and not their brains. Emotional Intelligence means thinking about what your feelings are suggesting and knowing when to act on those suggestions and when not to.

The good news? Studies show that Emotional Intelligence is more important in living the good life than intelligence in general and is more important than money, education or social class in getting ahead.

More good news: .Emotional Intelligence is learned, not gifted and can always be improved. That is best done by helping a child develop an inquiring mind. a mind that thinks “Maybe” not “For Sure.”

PARENTING TIPS

Tip one: Work on you first. Add the word “Maybe” to your vocabulary. Do not be afraid to say “I don’t know” or that is “Only my opinion”

Tip two: You need to keep age and stage in mind.

  1. Pre-school aged children cannot think beyond  the feeling of the moment.
  2. School aged child cannot think beyond what can be seen, heard, or touched.
  3. Starting with the preteens children  become more and more able to think about abstract things like possibilities and  varying points of view. This shift in thought explains why teens are often so critical of parents.
  4. As the child moves into adulthood, life experiences  improve judgement, something teens often lack; however, there is a comfort in holding to earlier beliefs.

Warning: The guidelines are general and some never become critical thinkers; others do it earlier than the above parameters.

Tip three: Do not worry  about a pre-schooler’s fantasies; at the same time, point out the make-believe stuff. Label play and make-believe as pretending or imaging. Do so in a calm matter of fact way.

Tip four:  Keep the fun in fantasy.  Saying “It is fun to believe in make-believe” when hanging up the Christmas stockings will not in any way diminish the child’s pleasure, but does pave the way for when s/he begins to understand what is real and what is not.

Tip five: Allow as much choice as possible, but label choices  “You have two choices” works well when  you can let the child pick one or the other.  Then label the child’s choices; “A wise choice.”  or ”Not the best choice.”  Also hold to safety and other major rules as “Not a choice.”

Tip six: Once the child stops believing in the Santa Claus or similar myths, start asking as you watch movies or media together “What’s real about that?” or “What’s fantasy about that?”

 Also be quicker to point out twisted thinking and label it as such.

12 Examples of twisted thinking aka #fallaciousarguments

Thank You For All You Do

Thank me by remembering sharing is caring; so is liking, or commenting. Your caring keeps me going.

Also, if you did not find it helpful, comment and tell me what might have made it more useful.

Katherine

This post was inspired by this WordPress Daily Prompt  Maybe  

Go here to learn more about the Daily Prompts.

LINKS OF INTEREST

These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.

Emotional Intelligence (en.wikipedia.org)
The five components of Emotional Intelligence (www.sonoma.edu)
Emotional Fitness Tips for Parents  (parentsarepeopletoo.com)
An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents(amazon.com)

Stay strong, diligent practice of my exercises will help.

Katherine

 

Too many expect too much. Life is a struggle and relationships difficult. Mad, sad, and bad feelings are inevitable. As novelist, Robertson Davies noted, “Happiness is always a by-product. It is probably a matter of temperament, and for anything I know it may be glandular. But it is not something that can be demanded from life, and if you are not happy you had better stop worrying about it and see what treasures you can pluck from your own brand of unhappiness.”
Stay strong, diligent practice of my exercises will help.
Katherine