Archive | Parenting

The Message of Love

IMG_1440Over dinner recently, my dear friend Katie, a graduate of one of my very first parenting classes, shared her biggest take away from the series:  THE MESSAGE OF LOVE. I asked “What effect does this concept have on your parenting today?” She answered,

“For me, the message of love means continually focusing on the big picture with my kids and letting them know that I love them. I apologize for my behavior when I lose it with them. They’re used to that. Even though I make plenty of mistakes and am not a perfect mother, I’m certain they know how much I love them. Every day I’m aware of the value of communicating that love, even in the smallest interactions.”

Today’s message is simple.

How do you show your love within and beyond the many daily acts of caring — the chauffeuring, cooking, laundering…?

Ironically, the hectic pace of Thanksgiving, with all of the preparations, attendant traveling, cooking, and socializing, can distract us from a grounded connection with our kids.

Remember for a moment, someone from your own childhood who you knew cared about you. How did you know? What did they do?

Maybe they spend time with you, listened to you, taught you a skill or game.

Below is a list of ideas, with concrete examples, for communicating the message of love. This list is a beginning. Please share your ideas in the comment section below!

Shared experiences

• Play a game together (we’re into Sorry right now – especially the 14 year old!)
• Cook together (favorites: eggs, lemon squares, help with prepping anything)
• Learn to do something together (friendship bracelets)
• Work together on a project (put together an Ikea desk, replay chess champion game moves, garden)
• Wrestle and rough house
• Walk the dog or take a hike

Empathetic communication

• Deeply listen to your child – no devices, no interruptions.
• Use phrases that convey empathy, such as:

  • You seem__________.
  • You look___________.
  • You sound__________.
  • You are____________.

Body language/tone of voice/alignment of internal and external energy

Be aware of how loving you feel on the inside. Notice how this is reflected on the outside by your facial expressions and body language. When these match you’ll come across with

  • Soft face & open heart
  • Warm, relaxed tone of voice
  • Sincerity and empathy
  • With an older child closet listening is a great option.

Katie reminded me – THE MESSAGE OF LOVE is powerful!

Take the time to BE with your children and communicate the message of love in your own, imperfect way. (Maybe it’s about not sweating the small stuff).

Take a moment to share in the comment section below how the MESSAGE OF LOVE is communicated in your family!

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A Sliding Door Moment

A favorite time of day for me is when my family has gone to bed. The children are all tucked in, I crawl into bed, and get to chose from my IMG_2902stack of great reads.

One recent evening, my 13-year old son came into our room. Just as I was settling into cozy contemplation, about to nod off, he asked “Mom can you come and lay with me while I go to sleep?”

I’d been reading Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly, a powerful book about relationships, parenting and life.  On the pages I’d just finished reading Brene referenced John Gottman’s “sliding door” moments. The sliding door moment is when we come face to face with a choice, exactly the moment I experienced with E standing next to me.

In this moment, we have the possibility of connection or turning away.

Of course it doesn’t boil down to one moment but rather the trend established over time. Gottman says that trust erodes very slowly if we continue to turn away.

Now let’s return to my moment. I so wanted to turn back to my book and the warmth of my cozy bed. However, in front of me was a clear choice. Did I choose to connect with E, or turn away from him? What would you do?

I realized my thirteen year old son was offering me a precious moment to build trust and share affection. I pulled myself out of bed (with some effort & audible moaning, I confess), and padded down the hall after him. I’d made my choice.

Next time you have a sliding door moment and your first instinct is to turn away, take a moment to observe yourself and see what happens when you choose to connect with your child.

CONSIDERSHAREACT

Notice when you say no and when you say yes to a sliding door moment.

What is a moment you are going to say yes to this week?

Share your thoughts here in the comments and pass this on to a friend.

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Transforming the Little Moments to Bring in the Light

Wouldn’t it be great to have a “before” and “after” parenting show?

Last month I traveled on swanky Virgin America and enjoyed the guilty pleasure of watching “What Not to Wear”. Are you like me? Loving the transformation of the frumpy working gal into the self-confident put together chick? (Hint: I’m a great candidate – waiting to be nominated).

I’m drawn to the details of improvement – the way a crowded, gloomy living room, rearranged with better light, pillows, and plants becomes a welcoming space for activity and life. Powerful.

Let’s bring this analogy home to my role as parent. Here’s a situation I’m sure you’ll relate to. Notice the before and after scenes – I’m the same, loving mom in each. The difference is, in the second scene, I have a deeper understanding of Positive Discipline and with a few tweaks, the interaction with my daughter is transformed at the core.

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The scene: I’m putting my 6 year-old, S, to bed and have just finished reading her a bedtime story.

Before:

S: Mom, I’m afraid.

Me: What are you afraid of? (a bit annoyed and really thinking “what could you possibly be afraid of?!”)

S: I’m scared to go to bed.

Me: There’s nothing to be scared of – you’re in your cozy bed and your family is home with you. (My annoyance is building.)

S: I’m still afraid.

Me: That’s silly cause you are perfectly safe. (I’m determined to leave and stop this conversation.)

As I leave the room a jumble of thoughts go through my mind:

  • What have I done to make her so insecure?
  • What’s wrong with her that she can’t simply go to sleep?
  • What’s her fear going to become as she gets older?
  • It’s simple, she hasn’t had enough hardship in her life – if she’d had more trials, like me, then she’d know what fear really is!

After (with a Positive Discipline approach):

S: Mom, I’m afraid.

Me: What are you afraid of?

S: I’m afraid to go to sleep. I’m afraid of all the normal stuff that people are afraid of.

Me: Where do you feel that in your body?

S: My heart. It’s like I have butterflies fluttering in my heart and frogs jumping in my stomach.

Me: Oh, that doesn’t sound good. (I place my hand on her heart).

S: Do you ever get scared?

Me: Yes. Remember last week when we were on the airplane and it was really bumpy and you were laughing and whooping it up? I was really afraid – I didn’t like how that felt AT ALL.

S: I was scared too but it was also fun and funny.

Me: People get scared of different things – I LOVE GOING TO BED.

I left the room, my daughter fell asleep. I wasn’t worried about her future. I felt close and connected to her.

Let’s look at some of the obvious differences in how I felt and acted in the two scenes.

BEFORE:

  • Worried
  • Fearful
  • Stuck in limited “role” of mom
  • Focus on how I’ve failed as a mom

AFTER:

  • Curious
  • Open
  • Interested in our shared human experience
  • Willing to share my vulnerability
  • In the present
  • Faith in my daughter to figure it out

While there’s no perfect way to parent, we can make small, subtle shifts that bring in the light to reveal our higher self. When we allow this to happen, we truly sparkle. The end result? An intimate moment of precious connection with our child. There’s nothing more beautiful than that.

We have much to learn from each other.

CONSIDERSHAREACT

In the comments below share what motivates you to go from scene 1 to 2? What helps you sparkle?

Next time you’re in that #1 scenario, stop, breath, connect, wait. Let us know what happens.

Contact me to learn more about parent and life coaching and future Parenting with Positive Discipline Classes.

 

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Weekly family meetings – your lifeboat!

Have your kids plunged into the sea of school yet? Do the homework, sports, music lessons…. all feel like huge waves crashing onto the shores of your once calm, summer life?

Today’s blog is a lifeboat to help you stay afloat. Maybe after you read this you’ll be inspired to ride those narly waves and find some grace and connection with your kids.

The lifeboat I’m talking about is a weekly family meeting. Yes, the family meeting is THE single, most powerful Positive Discipline tool.

During parent coaching and classes, I’m often asked, “How old should children be for family meetings?” The answer is, as young as 3 and as old as 30! Seriously. I know someone who started family meetings after all of their kids were grown and married. The meetings transformed the dynamic of their family and created the space for profound love and healing.

Truth be told, my kids don’t exactly clamor for family meetings. Sometimes my kids complain, resist or try to rush through them.  So the meetings are imperfect and messy . But that is precisely the point. The impact is felt by our commitment to make the meeting happen, not by their being done right (whatever that means).

Family MeetingNow let’s get this baby started. As you read this, make a commitment to try one small family meeting for starters. You can do it. Here’s the low-down:

What:  Call it a family meeting, forum, council, rendezvous, whatever suits you. Have your kids make up a name for this special time (10 to 40 minutes, depending on what’s on the docket and what comes up in the moment).

When:  Once a week. Pick Sunday evenings and make it part of the routine. If you miss a week or two, don’t throw in the towel. Simply start up again.

Where:  Usually at home but my family has held them in the car during road trips or even while out to dinner.

Why:  This is an opportunity to teach and practice Positive Discipline parenting, such as routines, encouragement, follow through, responsibility, leadership, communication, listening, empathy, patience, problem solving and SO MUCH MORE. Each family member feels an increased sense of significance and belonging within the family. In the long-term, family meetings create connection and unity.

How:  Always start with a round of compliments given by all, to all (don’t forget to include yourself!). Other topics could be problem solving, meal, trip or family fun planning. Be flexible but always include appreciations.

See? It’s not so bad! In fact, it’s awesome!

For more on Family Meetings sign up here to get a free download of my super duper parenting tip sheet, “Unlock the Power of Family Meetings”.

The waves of life will keep on coming but now you are prepared. Inflate the family meeting routine and start floating with intentional, scheduled connection. Family meetings are simple, uniting and powerful.  Join me in taking this small but courageous step toward lasting and profound change in your family relationships.

Your kids will thank you for it!

Now it’s your turn! Remember, your comments remind us that we’re not alone, that we’re part of a community in the toughest job of all.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below.

CONSIDERSHAREACT

What difference have family meetings made in your life?

What gets in the way of holding family meetings?

Commit to holding 1 this week!

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What I did when my daughter said “You’re the boringest and I HATE YOU!” on our first day of summer.

My husband texted me “Just rode our first coaster – Colossus! [Crazy face emoji.]”

Little does he know I’ve been riding one at home and it’s not nearly as thrilling.

He’s taken E and two friends off to Magic Mountain to celebrate E’s 14th birthday.

I’m home with our newly hatched 1st grader and experiencing the breezy joys of the first day of summer!

Not…IMG_2449 - Version 2

After two late nights her eyes are at half mast and simply put, nothing is right.

She demands to go to the pool. I say, that’s not going to work today.

And the tirade begins – I’m sparing you many of the gruesome details but these quotes will give you the flavor.

I want daddy!

I wish I were dead!

(she repeats this last one several times I think because she’s startled that I’m not reacting)

I’m not as composed as I want to be. Being a parent educator can really inflame feelings of parental inadequacy. My self talk that thankfully doesn’t come out my mouth is, S you’re acting like a spoiled brat and

what have I done to create this monster? How can I possibly say I have any answers for parents when my kid is acting like this!

I successfully take it down a few notches, not perfect but better, when I say to her, you’re tired. Maybe you’re even sick because this is how you act when you’re sick. There’s not much sympathy in my voice as I say some other not so choice words that infuriate her.

On the upside, I bear lots of her rage and both of our discomfort. Bearing it is good. Breathing through it is great. I give breathing a try and it helps.

As far as I can tell, along with deep breathing, the following are key elements that finally shift the energy.

There’s no substitute for time. It feels like a good hour of our back and forth. She pleads, I ignore, she rages, I stop and give her some kind and firm attention, she storms off, I fold laundry, ignore and finally I ask for her help.

One my favorite Positive Discipline sayings is children do better when they feel betterWhen I ask her for help, I tap into her desire for significance and belonging. While we’re not always aware of it, all of us are looking for significance and belonging.

Notice how imperfectly I handle this yet how important it is that I persist.

First, I suggest she pick up her room – she says NO – (admittedly a knee jerk bound to fail request on my part).

Second, I suggest she help clear the living room of her toys –  NO!  That’s two strikes….

Third, I ASK how she’d like to help and I LISTEN when she says she wants to help in the kitchen. She gets a stool and I fill a basin with warm soapy water.  Singing quietly, she scrubs dishes for a solid 15 minutes. (I’m in another room).

Like roller coasters inevitably do, it feels like this one is coming to a surprisingly smooth and sudden stop.

Now she’s done scrubbing and she’s disappeared.

I hear a harmonica in the distance.

CONSIDERSHAREACT

Here’s your chance to support another parent! Share in the comment section below.

We ALL lose it as parents. On those days when you’re able to remain calm when your child presses your button, what’s different?

How will you make space for these calming features of life?

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