Tag Archives: parents

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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How To Teach Kids To Be Kind – Five Tips

Kids are both kind and cruel. Praising the one and stopping the other is every parent’s job. . Kindness strengthens #emotionalintelligence.

#emotionalintelligence poster coach Practice Kindness

There is much talk about random acts of kindness. and these are good. But better still are practicing deliberate acts as well. The two go together.

Parenting Tips

Parenting Tip One: Start with manners . Manners (not the hoity-toity which spoon goes where manners, but the basic ones) are kindness based.  Holding the door for the person behind you, sharing an umbrella, helping someone across the street, thanking someone who helps you, cleaning up after yourself and others are what I mean by basic manners.

You can start teaching these as soon as you child starts to walk.

I pick up trash along the hiking trails I walk and in various parks. My grandchildren have learned to do the same.

Toddlers can also be taught to the ASL sign for Thank you. Hand to mouth and then down toward the heart.

Saying thank you is an act of deliberate kindessParent Tip Two: Encourage charitable giving. Four and five-year olds love to put coins in charity boxes.  do not pass up an opportunity to teaching giving when you see a charity box. Most cash out counters now include one.

Some families have a charity bank at home and have the kids put part of any money they are given in the box.  Then the kids help give it to some one in need.

Parenting Tip Three: Encourage volunteering for good causes. A teen interested in animals can volunteer at an animal shelter; one interested in becoming a health professional can volunteer at a hospital; one interested in making the world more beautiful can volunteer with the local parks department.

Parenting Tip Four: Have family take part in fund-raising events. Walks are the most common, but others abound and offer family time bonding.

Parenting Tip Five: Teach that kindness is its own reward and not dependent on other people’s response.  As parenting guru David Elkind points out, “Self esteem is built by feeling you are a good person, doing good deeds.

STAYING STRONG Exercise

You can get a digital copy of the Kindness poster  free at the EFTI Store.   Download it and post it where you will see it throughout the day. Every time you see it, take a calming breath, recall or plan an act of kindness; feel the warmth kindness creates in your being; take another calming breath, smile, and go about your day seeking always to be kind.

Teach your children to do the same.

Thank you  for all you do

You can practice kindness right now by liking, commenting or sharing. Do so gives me hope that what I do matters and keeps me going.

Katherine

P.S. This has nothing to do with this Daily WordPress Prompt

Give Your Child An Emotional Life Saver – A Pet

A WordPress Daily Prompt asked “What was your favorite plaything as a child?” Mine was not a thing, mine was my dog. Lady was her name. Picture of a dog

I was a shy and lonely child with few friends. Then my mother decided the family needed a dog. She found Lady at the local pound. I found a best friend and was never lonely again.

The post also asked how your childhood play thing remained part of your adult life. I have never been without a pet since Lady became mine.  Most recently, as aging has deadened my hearing, I have become an advocate of service dogs.

Here’s mine:punky

As we were exploring getting a service dog I discovered many were scamming people looking for Service Dogs. For example, I was told by one trainer, he would need 50 hours at $50 an hour to train one for us. Nonsense. Not for a Hearing Assisted fog.

I also discovered, I could buy a badge saying my dog was a service dog on the internet for a whole lot less. Many people do that so they can travel free with their non-service dog. Not honest and a threat to those who really need a service dog. .

Here’s the down and dirty. For seeing eye dogs it does take hours of training. The same for Guard Dogs. But all I and most people need to claim their dog is a Service Dog is a Doctor’s note saying one is needed and way.

That did not satisfy me.   A bit too loose. A well-trained service dog starts by being well-trained and then being socialized to be in public with the best of manners. He or she should also be trained to do three things the person cannot do on their own.

There are service dogs do amazing things. Most of you know about Service Dogs for the Blind, but there are numerous others. The ten most common are Hearing Assistant, Diabetic or Seizure Alert Dogs, Mobility Assistant Dogs and that include Large Dogs trained to help a person’s balance. Mental Health Assistant dogs can be trained to soothe and calm panic attacks and to disrupt impulsive agressive behaviors.  Some also speacialize in helping socialize children.

Lady was not certified, but she moved me away from my shyness, and out into the world.

parenting tips

Parenting tip one: Read this Wiki How  to learn more about service dogs and how to train one.

Parenting tip two. Get your dog from a shelter. Some breeders are scamming the public by charging more than is reasonable by claiming their dogs are bred to be service dogs. Going to a shelter rescues a dog and the people at the shelter will help you find a dog with a temperament suitable for Service Dog Training.

An added bonus – Shelter dogs are already trained and often neutered. We got our Punky as a rescue dog and he was house broken, trained to sit, stay, come, fetch, and heel. He also had all his shots and was neutered.

Parenting tip three: Don’t get a puppy.  Look for a dog between nine months and two years.

THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO

Remember sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness is to share this post if you found it helpful.  Share it even if it doesn’t speak to you, it will speak to some. Didn’t like it?  Comment and tell me why and how to improve.

Katherine

LINKS OF INTEREST

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

5 Tips for Leading Your Cubs to the Good Life

Like it or not, if you are a parent, you are the leader of a pack. You owe it to your children to know the how the best leaders lead. First a laugh.

chicken360feedback

TY Doug for giving me a laugh, something to think about, and something to share.

Did you laugh? Then you know the drill about being asked for feedback and then being keel-hauled.  Bad leadership. Very bad leadership. What to do? These tips and the books mentioned offer the best leadership advice for parents.

Parenting tip one: Learn the difference between abuse and punishment.  I have worked in the Child Welfare field. I know the difference, Many people do not.

What is report-able abuse? Physical abuse involves inflicting harm on a child that leaves marks. Even then there are degrees of abuse. A hard slap leaves a red mark, so that is abuse; but when reported, circumstances may make it unfounded. Why? The mark has usually faded by the time the child protective worker visits. If the slap occurs in public however, and the police are involved quickly, then it may result in what is called founded abuse. The parents will have to go to court and prove their are not abusive.

Spankings are not abuse. Only when a spanking is really a beating that leaves marks  it is abuse. This runs counter to much of the ranting by many parenting gurus, but most spankings do not leave marks and are the sign of frustrated parenting.

Emotional abuse is a bit more complicated and much harder to prove.  Briefly it is  commonly defined as  behavior by parents or caregivers that keeps a child from growing normally. It includes: ignoring, rejecting, isolating the child, corrupting the child. verbally assaulting, terrorizing, neglecting the child’s education,  health or mental health.

Parenting tip two: Remember as Gregory Bateson noted: “Communication is response. ” 

Try this memory exercise; it will explain Bateson’s idea.  Think back to your childhood? Find the times you knew you had better behave or else.  The look from my mother came first and when not heeded, an angry word attack.  Others have reported

  • “Pointing at the closet where the strap hung.”
  •  “A raised hand.”
  •  “My full name.”
  • “Grabbing my shoulder and pinching.”
  • “A mean laugh.”
  • “The words, “Cruising for a bruising?

Effective punishments results in changed behavior. All the punishments are effective, when the unwanted behavior stops.

Parenting tip three:  Remember the three things make punishment less effective:

  1. The child cannot do what he or she is being asked to do. Why age and stage matter, not just physical age, but also chronological or mental age.
  2. The child’s temperament varies the response. A sensitive child may need only “The Look” to obey; a bold child may need much more before he responds positively to a punishment
  3. The child has become habituated to the punishment. We get used to almost anything. Have you heard about the frog put in a pan of cold water that eventually becomes so hot the frog dies?  The more often a certain punishment is used, the less it works. Why it is good to mix things up.

Parenting tip four: These books should be read by all parents.

  1. The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard – A quick read that covers all the basics needed to be a great leader.
  2. Parents Are People Too by Katherine Gordy Levine – My emotional fitness program for parents. You need to stay calm and in control of your emotions is you are going to put Blanchard’s advice into practice.  You can get a used copy for a penny plus shipping or an eBook copy. I think it is a book to keep around and dip into off and on as your child is growing.  I wrote it after realizing as a foster mother providing short-term care to troubled teens that if I didn’t control my feelings it was useless to expect my kids to control theirs.
  3. These three books relate to Age and Stage:
  4. This link takes you to  books and videos by Jean Tracy  She is my favorite modern-day parenting guru and  provides sound problem solving approaches for the many problems and dilemmas facing most parents. Follow her blog.

THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO

Remember sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness is to share this post if you found it helpful.  Share it even if it doesn’t speak to you, it will speak to some. Didn’t like it?  Comment and tell me why and how to improve.

Katherine

Word Press’ DAILY PROMPT inspired this post with this question. Dear Leader: If your government (local or national) accomplishes one thing this year, what would you like that to be?

Train all parents in the above leadership skills.

LINKS OF INTEREST

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