Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How to Raise a Problem-Solver

We want our children to be able to recognize problems and have the initiative to tackle the issue and find a solution. Yet most conventional parenting practices involve parents solving the problem for the child. Methods such as spanking, time-out, and removal of privileges put the problem in the parents' hands, considering the problem solved when the punishment is issued. This causes parents to “police” their child's behavior continuously because the child isn't learning how to solve his own problems or correct his own mistakes.

I believe we need to give the problem to whom it belongs – the child. Otherwise, how will she learn to solve them without constant parental direction? Here are 4 questions to ask your child each time a problem arises that will help her grow to be a problem-solver.

What caused you to do this?

This question gets children thinking about the relationship between their environment and their actions. “What caused you to hit your sister?” “What caused you to get a bad grade this semester?” “What caused you to leave your room a mess?” We want to get children thinking about cause and effect and understand how feelings affect their behavior so that they can learn to make better choices in the moment.

What was the outcome of your choice?

This question serves two purposes. It teaches the child that their behavior is always a choice that they made (whether there was provocation or not, the choice was their's), and it builds empathy because they begin to see the affect their choice has had on those around them. “Look at your sister's face. How did hitting her make her feel? How do you feel about that?” “Would you have lost your baseball glove if you'd have kept things in their place?” “When you don't do your chores, how does it affect the rest of the family?” The point is to help them see their actions don't only affect them but others as well.

What could you have done differently?

Here is where the child brainstorms better options or is taught better options by the parent or caregiver. Here's what this may look like so far:

“What caused you to push your brother down?”

“He took my toy. I was mad.”

“What was the outcome of your choice to push him down?”

“He's crying.”

“Yes, he's crying because that hurt him and made him sad. What could you have done differently?” 

“I don't know.”

“Let's think about it. You could have asked me for help when he took your toy. You could have chosen to let him play with it and picked another toy for yourself. You could have taken a deep breath and asked him to give your toy back. Which choice will you make next time?"

How are you going to fix this?

This question puts the responsibility for solving this problem squarely on the child's shoulders...continue reading at Creative Child

Pin It Now!

The Changing Seasons of Motherhood

I remember the season when I had two tiny ones under my feet all day long, and the days were long. The nights were often even longer. It was a season filled with wild emotions, exhaustion, unbelievable joy, discovery, and what felt like a never­-ending marathon of diaper changes. I was very often bleary­-eyed from another night of waking with multiple children or teary­-eyed from seeing my firstborn son give his brother a gentle kiss on his head while he slept.

I captured a lot of miracle moments in that season, but I also wished too many away. I used to wish they were out of diapers. I used to wish they'd just sleep through the night. I used to wish for a bit of “me time.”

There were nights when I would lie down with them until they fell asleep, and I would be entirely present in that moment, running my fingers through silky hair as I told them story after story. Those were beautiful nights.

Then, of course there were other nights when I just wanted to be done. I felt frustrated that they couldn't go to sleep on their own, and I questioned every parenting decision I'd made up to that point. Those were wasted nights. I accept grace for those nights. I am only human, after all. What felt like the season that would never end suddenly did.

I realized recently that I can no longer pick up my youngest son. He's too big. Too heavy. When did that happen? When was the last time I sat him down off my hip? My oldest son is nearly half way to adulthood now. Wasn't he just under my feet, asking me to play trains while I was trying to feed his baby brother?

If you are in a tough season, I want to offer you some encouragement today. I know it feels like she will never be potty trained or that he will never sleep through the night. I know you wonder if he will ever stop hitting or start sharing. You lie down at night weary from the day, unable to rest because you feel guilty for yelling.

You wonder if you are doing anything right. You are. You're doing just fine because you care enough to wonder. This season will pass, and while I won't tell you to enjoy every second because that is pretty ridiculous. I will advise you to be intentional about being present and capturing as many beautiful memories as you can, because in no time at all, those memories are all you will have of this season.

I'm in a brand new season now – a season of cub scout camp outs and baseball games. My big boys don't need me to get them to sleep anymore. Some nights I kiss them goodnight and go to my own bed, grab a book, and think of how relaxing and nice it is to have some time for me. Oh, but there are other nights, mama. Nights when I lie there listening to them giggle with each other in their room, and tears silently fall to my pillow because they don't need me to get them to sleep anymore. They need me just a little less than they used to. And that's okay – that means they're growing, but I would like for them to grow a bit slower.

These days I find myself making new wishes. I wish they were back in diapers. I wish I could still rock them to sleep .....continue reading at Creative Child

Pin It Now!

8 Tips to Ignite Your Child's Love of Learning

Children naturally love to learn. Unfortunately, that love often gets stripped away by middle childhood as learning becomes competitive, directed, and overwhelming. Whether your child attends school outside the home or is home educated, these 10 tips will help ignite (or fan the flame of) your child's love of learning.

1. Let them see your love of learning! We know that we are our child's first teacher, and we have a tremendous influence on their worldview. Find your own passions and pursue your own interests. Talk to your child each day about something new you've learned or questions you plan on seeking the answers to.

2. Be enthusiastic about your child's interests. This is not only a wonderful way to connect with a child but to also fuel their passions. If you don't understand why your child loves a particular interest, get curious and ask questions. Discuss it in depth so that you really understand your child's view and feelings.

3. Read books - a lot! Reading aloud is especially beneficial as it increases vocabulary and comprehension, improves reading and listening skills, and sharpens your child's focus. Read lots of great classic literature and poetry which exposes your child to a whole wide world of wonder and beauty.

4. Allow plenty of free play. Today's children are often overscheduled and overwhelmed, leaving little time for free play and exploration. Not only does play do wonders for your child's brain, it also offers opportunity for your child to discover her interests. If a child is directed in school all day, and then spends the evening in more directed activities, there is nearly no time to discover what she really loves.

5. Expose him to a variety of experiences. Listen to different genres of music, show her different forms of art, read a variety of books, and play thinking games. Visit museums, see some live shows, and explore parks! When learning is a natural part of living and exploring, your child can't help but love it!

6. Focus on the process, not the outcome. Maybe she's really interested in dance, but struggles with getting the steps down. Let her know that trying her best and having fun matters more than dancing perfectly. Be a supportive encourager, but don't push too hard. It can be difficult not to get caught up in our own dreams and goals for them, which sometimes leads us to push when we should let go. Be mindful of which goals are theirs and which are yours.

Pin It Now!