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This one piece of powerful parenting advice will help you be a better parent—now

This one piece of powerful parenting advice will help you be a better parent—now

Recently, I saw a funny meme about the multiple benefits of coconut oil. It said: "Frizzy hair? Coconut oil. No shaving cream? Coconut oil. Dry skin? Coconut oil. Bad credit? Coconut oil. Boyfriend acting up? Coconut oil."

When it comes to parenting, we have our own magical coconut oil. It's called: special time.

Child having multiple meltdowns a day? Special time. Child whining incessantly? Special time. Child repeatedly antagonizing his sibling? Special time. Jeans too tight? Special time. Don't know what to make for dinner? Special time.

Okay fine. Special time won't exactly get you into a smaller pair of jeans, but I'm convinced it's the antidote to most parenting-related issues.

What is special time and why it's important

Special time is a daily scheduled and specified amount of uninterrupted one-on-one time with your child. During this moment, your child gets your complete, undivided attention for at least 15 minutes.

They are in charge—leading and directly the play. You are physically, emotionally and mentally present. No phone, computer, chores, television or daydreaming. Your child chooses the activity and you become immersed in their world.

In order to feel loved, children need us to feel and express joy when we're with them. They need to know that we take delight in spending time with them. Often when they're acting out, what they're really expressing is their need to be seen. Their unwanted behaviors are their way of getting our attention.

When I became intentional about special time, I realized that it's a lot more difficult than it sounds. Parents are busy and stressed. On any given day, we're juggling caring for our kids, making meals, doing laundry, cleaning up and working on our marriage. It's no wonder that it can be incredibly difficult to carve out one-on-one time with our kids.

Creating special time is doable. Here's how to create one-on-one time with your child:

1. Plan ahead.

Put Special time in your schedule just like you'd put a dentist appointment or soccer practice. It is just as important. Start by creating weekly special time and then advance to daily time if necessary.

2. Explain special time.

When you're putting your child to bed, tell them that tomorrow the two of you are going to have special time. Explain that after they get home from school the two of you are going to have 15 minutes (or longer, up to you) of special time when you will do whatever they want to do. Build it up. Tell them how excited you are and prompt them to start thinking about how they want to spend the time.

3. Set a timer.

The most important thing about special time is that your child is in charge. By using a timer, you relinquish your control of the time. When special time is over, it's because the timer went off, not because you determined that it was time to stop playing.

4. Let the fun begin.

Turn off all electronics, put your to-do lists aside and immerse yourself in your child's world. For many of us, playing in their world is the last thing we feel like doing. But, it's only 15 minutes. Just do it.

5. Channel your inner child.

Drop your judgments, reframe your negative thoughts and let yourself delight in your child's interests. Instead of learning and exploring with an end-goal in mind, try learning for the sake of learning.

6. Show genuine interest.

Again, this can be challenging and may require a bit of reframing on your part, but adopting a curious mindset can be helpful. Taking the opportunity to tune in to what interests your child and how they enjoy spending their free-play can be helpful in building a stronger connection. Showing genuine interest while our kids lead the play is one of the most powerful ways to convey our love for them.

 

source: mother.ly

How to Foster Healthy Sibling Relationships

How to Foster Healthy Sibling Relationships

As a mom of six kids, I have witnessed my fair share of sibling disagreements. I have also had the pleasure of witnessing the heart-melting moments when siblings stick up for each other, cheer each other on, and generally love being together. While sibling fights are normal, and even healthy, as kids learn to work through disagreements in an appropriate way, most parents want to foster strong sibling relationships that will stand the test of time. Here are some tips to help your kids build healthy, lasting friendships with one another.

Encourage teamwork

Working towards a common goal can help people feel connected and build stronger relationships. This is why companies spend time doing team building exercises with their staff. The same is true in families. Give the kids a project, like cleaning the toy room or freshening up the landscaping in the yard and have them work on it as a team. You can even try making it a competition such as challenging the kids to clean a room faster than their parents. Playing board games or backyard sports with teams can also have the same team building effects.

Have fun together

Spending time together as a family doing things that you enjoy is a simple way to build sibling bonds. Pick something that everyone can participate in such as a bike ride, a movie night, or a fun outing that builds memories and relationships. “My kids love having sleepovers in each other’s rooms each weekend.” says Stephanie Loux, mom of three. “It makes a mess and it’s not always convenient for us as parents, but we love and encourage their excitement for spending time together.”  

Healthy conflict

Settling disagreements in a healthy and respectful way is a tool that all of us need to learn to be successful. A sibling is usually the first person in our lives that we disagree with on a regular basis. This  gives parents an opportunity to teach kids how to handle conflict. “We teach them to tell each other when they are hurting emotionally or physically.” says Abby Vanden Hull, mom of four. “In the beginning that means helping them find the words and talk to each other kindly. It also means stepping back and letting them sort out their problems whenever possible.” Teach your kids to listen, take turns speaking, use kind words,refrain from criticism or physical violence, and come to a compromise whenever possible. These skills will serve them well in all areas of their lives.

Do not compare

As parents, it can be difficult not to compare children. Each child has their own unique gifts to foster and challenges to face as they grow. Try to focus on acknowledging and appreciating their gifts and encouraging everyone in the family to do so. When they are struggling with behaviors that other kids may not have found challenging, be patient and help them work through it as a family. When kids feel like their parents are comparing them, it can cause jealousy, competition, and resentment.. Alternatively, when they feel like their gifts are cultivated and appreciated they feel loved, valued, and secure. It also helps kids to understand that all of us are different and that is okay.

The importance of family

Our siblings are our first friends. They have a unique perspective and relationship to us because they have experienced nearly everything we have during childhood. This often leads to a relationship that includes deep understanding and support for challenges we may face in the future. This concept is difficult to explain to small children, however the importance of family is something that can be shown through actions rather than explained using words. Do you have a good relationship with your own siblings? Do you support them in times of need and enjoy spending time with them? Your kids will notice. Over time, they will realize that there is nothing like a sibling who is also a friend.

 

source: creativechild

What is snowplow parenting?—and what we can learn from them.

What is snowplow parenting?—and what we can learn from them.

The term "snowplow parent" is creeping into our feeds and conversations, and like its predecessor, "helicopter parent" the phrase paints an unflattering portrait of the type of parents it tries to define.

The phrase has been floating around the internet for years but was popularized by writers Claire Cain Miller and Jonah Engel Bromwichba, who, in a New York Times article, defined snowplow parents as "machines chugging ahead, clearing any obstacles in their child's path to success, so they don't have to encounter failure, frustration or lost opportunities."

All of us want our children to be happy, successful and have opportunities, but the college admissions scandal involving actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin showed what can happen when so-called snowplow parents take things too far.

Most of us don't have $500,000 to spend clearing an effortless path to college for our children, but plowing obstacles out of their childhoods can cost us even more. When we take all the hard bits out of the road to adulthood, our kids have no idea what to do once they arrive.

If we do everything for our kids, we rob them of the resiliency that children develop when they overcome obstacles, and of the important life skills they develop when they pick themselves up after a fall and pick up more responsibilities. And we also rob ourselves of a future in which we're not parenting an adult.

A poll by The New York Times and Morning Consult found that three-quarters of parents with children between 18 and 28 are doing things like reminding kids of deadlines at college and making appointments for their haircuts and doctors visits. A shocking 11% said they would contact their child's employer if they had a problem at work.

Most of us do not want to be booking haircuts for a 20-year-old or calling our child's boss when they're old enough to vote and legally drink. Instead of vilifying snowplow parents (most of whom likely had the best intentions) let's learn some lessons from them so that we can raise a generation that grows up ready for #adulting.

Here are five lessons we can learn from snowplow parents:

1. We need to let our kids fail so that they can overcome

It is hard to see our children disappointed, hurt or sad when a choice they made backfires, but as one mama, Tunde Wackman, once wrote for Motherly, "I have to remind myself that consequences are gifts in disguise, though, not a dereliction of my motherly 'duty' to protect my children from challenges."

If we pick up the blocks when they tumble, or correct their homework before they hand it in, or rush home to grab the book report they forgot, our kids don't have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes, and more importantly, they lose an opportunity to learn that they can bounce back from one.

2. We need to say 'no' to our kids and let them feel their feelings

It can be hard to look at your crying child and tell them "no" knowing that a "yes" would protect them from feeling bad, but sometimes we've got to let them feel their emotions, even when it is hard.

"If we never take off the bubble wrap and rarely say no, our children may become incapable of tolerating or managing the inconveniences of life—they'll demand instant gratification and, over time, develop impulse control issues," Ilene S. Cohen, Ph.D., a psychotherapist, previously wrote for Motherly.

According to Cohen, "Research shows that children who have been overly protected from their own emotions lack a sense of agency over their own lives and are more prone to develop unfulfilling relationships in the future."

When our child breaks their toy or drops their ice cream, rushing to buy a new one can numb the pain temporarily, but letting them feel the disappointment or frustration and teaching them that it is okay to feel that way also teaches them that these are feelings that they have the power to overcome.

3. We need to praise effort as much as results

Our children need to know that trying is important. We need to praise our children for doing things that are hard and tell them often that they can do hard things. This promotes a growth mindset, where kids know their abilities and skills aren't fixed and can grow with practice, and helps kids feel confident in their ability to overcome challenges. When a child is praised for not giving up, they're more likely to keep going when times get tough.

4. We need to give our children increasing levels of responsibility

When it comes to household chores, like making the bed or loading this dishwasher, sometimes it feels like it would be more efficient if we just did it ourselves rather than letting a 3-year-old try, but we have to let them try. Even very young kids are capable of taking on small responsibilities, and it's so much easier to start when they're three than when they're 22.

5. We need to get our kids thinking proactively

As Dr. Laura Markham previously wrote for Motherly, it's not enough to tell our children to do something, we've got to train them to be thinking about what they need to do. "For instance, to the dallying child in the morning, instead of barking 'Brush your teeth! Is your backpack packed? Don't forget your lunch!' you could ask, 'What's the next thing you need to do to get ready for school?' The goal is to keep them focused on their list, morning after morning until they internalize it and begin managing their own morning tasks," Markham writes.

If we don't want to be calling a college senior to remind them their essay is due, we should stop reminding our children about their responsibilities and instead ask them which one comes next.

 

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