Archives for March 2013

Logical Consequence Grab Bag: Say Please!

Source: ladcblog.org

In our everyday parenting, it can sometimes be difficult to come up with the perfect logical consequence. We always want to strike the balance between teaching a lesson without being too harsh. Having our children say “please” and “thank you” is so important, yet it can be so difficult to ensure they do it consistently.

What can we do to encourage our kids to say “please” and “thank you”? First, be sure to explain the importance of being polite. Explain that we are not put on this Earth to serve their every desire. And expressing thanks is the first step toward instilling a heart of gratitude in our kids.

When our kids forget, there’s a great way to handle it. If your child is asking something from you, never give it to him unless he says “please.” This can be anything from a meal that you are expected to provide no matter what or a special treat. If he asks without saying “please” tell him no, and that he can come back to you in 5 or 10 minutes when he’s ready to ask appropriately. He’ll probably ask again right away. Simply walk away knowing you have told him what you require.

With an older child, you might leave it at that. Make note of the time on the clock and don’t allow the child to come back until 5 or 10 minutes have passed. For a younger child, set a timer. Set it for a solid 5 or 10 minutes so he gets a true sense for how long that is.

This is much more powerful than simply reminding our kids and having them ask again right away. As with all consequences, the “pain” of the consequence must equal the weight of the infraction. If the child says “please” and “thank you” 90% of the time and forgets once or twice, a verbal reminder with no wait might be sufficient. If it’s a consistent problem, a longer wait might be more effective. Always gauge the effectiveness of the consequence by the child’s behavior. If it works, great. If not, try again with a more “painful” consequence.

How To Praise Smart Kids

Source: uci.edu

On Monday, I discussed the idea that parenting influences a child’s brain development and that potentially, Babywise parents have an easier time at this because we naturally tend toward establishing structure, self-control, and sleep. But just because we set our kids up for success doesn’t mean life will be smooth sailing. In fact, parents of smarter kids often have a more difficult go at parenting.

But if there’s one thing you need to learn when parenting a smart child, it’s how to offer praise. Praise is important. It encourages our children. It motivates them. It builds their self-esteem. But there’s a right way to praise and a wrong way to praise.

It comes down to this: don’t praise a child for qualities that are beyond his control. Even when you’re amazed by your child’s memory or his early abilities in math or reading, bite your tongue whenever you’re tempted to say, “You’re so smart,” or “You have an amazing memory.”

For praise to hold any weight, it must speak to the child’s effort. Better than praising characteristics, praise his actions. It should sound like this:

• You worked so hard on that puzzle.
• I like how you persevered on that task. Sticking with something when it gets hard is so important.
• I see you chose a more difficult book to read. Nice!
• Your homework tonight was tough. I like that you never got discouraged.
The reason this type of praise is important for smart kids in particular is that life typically comes easy for these kids. They can very easily skate through life. They often don’t have to try hard or learn the meaning of the word perseverance. It’s nice that life will be easy for them, but no child (or adult) will get very far if they never learn the value of hard work.
This idea has been studied and tested. In 2007, Po Bronson wrote an article in New York Magazine about how not to talk to our kids. The article’s subtitle is “the inverse power of praise.” In the article, he discusses the importance of praising a child’s hard work over his innate intelligence:

For the past ten years, psychologist Carol Dweck and her team at Columbia (she’s now at Stanford) studied the effect of praise on students in a dozen New York schools. Her seminal work—a series of experiments on 400 fifth-graders—paints the picture most clearly.

Dweck sent four female research assistants into New York fifth-grade classrooms. The researchers would take a single child out of the classroom for a nonverbal IQ test consisting of a series of puzzles—puzzles easy enough that all the children would do fairly well. Once the child finished the test, the researchers told each student his score, then gave him a single line of praise. Randomly divided into groups, some were praised for their intelligence. They were told, “You must be smart at this.” Other students were praised for their effort: “You must have worked really hard.”

Why just a single line of praise? “We wanted to see how sensitive children were,” Dweck explained. “We had a hunch that one line might be enough to see an effect.”

Then the students were given a choice of test for the second round. One choice was a test that would be more difficult than the first, but the researchers told the kids that they’d learn a lot from attempting the puzzles. The other choice, Dweck’s team explained, was an easy test, just like the first. Of those praised for their effort, 90 percent chose the harder set of puzzles. Of those praised for their intelligence, a majority chose the easy test. The “smart” kids took the cop-out.

So you can see how praise plays a pivotal role in a child’s determination to succeed. No matter how smart, a child can still fail in school if he refuses to do his homework or push himself with the work gets tough. The ability to persevere and work diligently is very possibly more important than innate intelligence.

Are Babywise Kids Smarter?

Source: whizbit.com

It’s been a long-held belief that IQ is a static thing. A person tests at a certain IQ level and maintains that level for the rest of their lives. Many say IQ is genetic, and there’s not much we can do to influence it.

I’ve been reading a bit about brain training lately, and I’m convinced that IQ is not a static measure of intelligence. Our brains are living, breathing organs that grow over time. Our brains have the ability to adapt and reorganize neural pathways and even build brand new ones. These neural pathways form the basis of our cognitive skills. And our cognitive abilities, quantified by IQ tests, measure our ability to not only hold knowledge, but also to process information. So because the brain is always adapting and building, our cognitive skills, and our IQ, never stay the same. The brain’s ability to adapt and grow is called neuroplasticity. When our brains are characterized by plasticity, they are by definition malleable, elastic, flexible, and pliable.

I can personally attest to this idea of neuroplasticity. In college, I could almost feel my brain growing. I learned so much in such a short period of time. I was surrounded by people who were educating themselves and professors who were experts in their fields. I was challenged intellectually like never before (or since). And not only was I taking in and storing information, I was learning the skills to study and process information.

So if our brains are so malleable, it seems entirely possible that parenting plays a huge role in the development of a child’s brain. And if that’s the case, is it possible that Babywise kids are smarter?

Babywise Moms are Typically Type A

We Babywise moms are typically type A personalities. We like things to be in their place, and we think nothing of making the effort to actively teach our children. From what I see on message boards and in my “real life” Babywise friends, we actively engage with our children, read to them religiously, think critically about what we should be reading to them, engage their imaginations, teach them basic academics before they enter school, and supplement school if we see that it’s lacking. I know of no Babywise mom who thinks it’s okay to plop her child in front of the TV and think nothing of the child’s cognitive development.

We Teach Self-Control

Another reason I think Babywise kids might be smarter is that they’ve been taught self-control. If I had to choose between teaching my child early reading skills or teaching self-control before Kindergarten, self-control would be it. If a child has no self-control, he’s not going to be able to sit and learn. His mind and body will be so busy doing other things, things guided by his impulsive brain, that his learning ability will be diminished. So much of early learning is about form and structure. Teaching a child to work diligently is immensely valuable. The habits of learning form the foundation of all future learning. And since Babywise kids are raised on a routine and are taught the benefits of structure, they are much more likely to work diligently than the child who is left to his own devices.

Babywise Kids Get Lots of Sleep

Does anyone disagree that sleep affects the brain’s ability to process information? We all know how we feel when we haven’t had enough sleep. Unless we’re loaded up on coffee, we’re in a fog all day. This very idea is addressed in Growing Kids God’s Way:

“Children who have established healthy sleep habits are optimally awake and optimally alert to interact with their environment. Having observed a generation of these children now, we see some common threads among the school-age population. In classroom settings, I have consistently found these children to be more self-assured, happier, less demanding, more sociable, inspired, and motivated. They have longer attention spans and become faster learners because they are more adaptable. Mediocrity among this population is rare, while excellence is common,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 253).

I love that the Ezzos describe these children as happier and more social. It’s not all about academics, folks. I don’t think the Ezzos would encourage us to give our kids 5 hours of homework every night for the sake of getting ahead. No amount of academic advancement is worth the risk of creating undue stress. In fact, when we push our kids too far too fast, we run the risk of burning them out. A child who’s burned out at age 10 may be academically ahead, but will it serve them well in the future? Will they even want to go to college? This says nothing of the effects on a child’s character when he believes he’s smarter than all of his peers.

It’s all about balance and priorities. And I think the Ezzos have it right in teaching Babywise moms to give our kids the skills and foundation to effectively learn. But they also place a huge priority on developing our kids’ moral foundation. In fact, they may even say that this moral foundation is more important than any skills that enable them to learn. But the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

If you are a Babywise mom, you can walk away from this post knowing that you’re giving your child the skills he needs to succeed in school. And not only can you trust that you’ve prepared him for school, but you can also trust that you’ve instilled important values that will serve him well in school and beyond.

Is It Obedience or Controlling?

Source: beinglatino.us

Many people outside Babywise circles hear the term “first-time obedience” and immediately (and wrongly) think that we are teaching our children to obey because we want to control them. They think we want them to act like little robots doing everything we say, simply because it’s convenient for us.

I’ll be the first to say that my life would be easier and much more convenient if my kids were robots and did every little thing I said. But I didn’t go into parenting expecting easy or convenient. Parenting is hard work! And that’s exactly as it should be.

There is nothing about obedience training that is convenient. In fact, I feel like if our first-time obedience slips, it’s more likely than not that it’s my fault, not theirs. If I forget to call their names before giving an instruction, then they will forget to obey me the first time. If I forget to get eye contact while giving an instruction, they will assume that I’m talking to somebody else. And if I don’t take the time to cultivate a loving relationship with my kids, they won’t have motivation to obey. There is SO MUCH that goes into training our kids — and ourselves — in first-time obedience. I could write a whole book about it! Oh, wait, I did! Haha.

I do not simply spout out my instructions to my kids and then discipline with a heavy hand if they refuse to comply. That, my friends, is controlling.

The line between obedience training and controlling is very fuzzy. It’s easy to slip from one to the other. You tell yourself that you have reason to believe that your kids are capable of obeying your every word. You believe in setting high standards for your kids, and so you set out to have them obey every instruction you give — without thinking whether it’s age-appropriate, developmentally appropriate, or just plain fair. This is where we set ourselves up for failure. It’s these tricky little expectations that fool us into believing that we could create robots out of our children.

And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want robots. I want children. I want my kids to be the unique individuals that they are. If that means that Lucas likes to sit in his chair with one leg hanging off the side, then so be it. If that means that William likes to chew on his sleeves, then so be it. They are not disobeying me when they do these things. Do these things sometimes bug me? Yes, absolutely. But I wouldn’t trade these quirks of theirs for a child guided by fear. I want my kids to love me and cherish our relationship. I don’t want them to fear me. If that means that I have to put up with their little quirks, that’s fine. Oh, and by the way, when they do these little things, they aren’t disobeying me.

I suppose that’s our litmus test for whether we are requiring obedience or trying to control our kids. Are we trying to train their little quirks right out of them? What is our motivation in our obedience training? If you’re like me, your main motivation in obedience training is to work on the big stuff. We want to create good, moral people, not people who sit straight in their chairs or don’t chew on sleeves. The little stuff doesn’t matter.

But maybe, on the other hand, it does matter. Because if your parenting is guided by training the little stuff, then your relationship will suffer. When you harp on their little quirks — the qualities that define who they are as people — you’re telling them that you don’t accept your children for who they are. You’re telling them that anything less than perfect is unacceptable. I find that utterly terrifying, both as a parent and as I look at it from my child’s perspective. I want my children to accept and adopt my values because they’re important, not because I’m trying to control their every move.

And you know what happens when we try to control their every move? They rebel, big time.

Think about the following quote when you ponder your reasoning behind obedience:

“Obedience teaches children to have self-control in all matters of life. Obedience moves children from extrinsic [external] motivation to intrinsic [internal] control. Eventually, a child will no longer need a fence on the outside for his own protection, because his parents have helped him a moral and ethical fence on the inside,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 96).

So do your work to build that “fence” inside of them, but stop there. Accept and embrace their little quirks!

Okay, I’m leaving…

Source: school-crossing.com

How many times have you been in a store and overheard a parent say these words to their child? “Okay, I’m leaving.” Some will go so far as to say, “We’ll see you when you get home,” or “Let’s hope they leave the lights on for you tonight.”

Often, these words are said in jest, but not always. You can imagine a child who’s engrossed in whatever toy or book has caught his eye. If he hasn’t been trained in first-time obedience, he has learned that it’s okay to ignore his parent’s voice. Then what is the parent left to do?

My issue with the “Okay, I’m leaving…” crowd is that it’s a giant, empty threat. Our children know that we wouldn’t leave them in the store. This empty threat might work the first two or three times, but after that, our kids figure us out. They know that these words are meaningless. They know that we won’t walk too far away or turn a corner and leave their sight.

The problem with this scenario is that the child isn’t listening to the parent in the first place. By issuing empty threats, we are only making it worse. Whenever we say something we don’t truly mean, we are teaching our kids that our words mean nothing. We are teaching them that it’s okay to say something you don’t mean. We are teaching them not to listen.

So what is a parent to do in this situation? Unfortunately, there is no quick fix in parenting. The solution is to train your child to listen, to obey. Before you enter the store, explain what you expect, and have the child repeat it back to you. Give the child some empathy and say that you know how hard it is to tear ourselves away from the things that interest us. If you still have an issue with the child not coming when you need to leave, simply pick them up (if they’re little) or take them by the hand. Then if you meet resistance, use your stern mommy voice, and simply say, “It’s time to go.”

If you’re having this problem with a child who’s too big to pick up or guide sternly by holding a hand (perhaps beyond the age of 6 or 7), then you might have bigger problems on your hands. And rather than leaving the child home whenever you leave the house, work on your obedience training at home.

Babywise Week: An Activity a Day

It’s Babywise Blog Network Week again! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

· Monday: Valerie Plowman, Chronicles of a Babywise Mom
· Tuesday: Maureen Monfore, Childwise Chat
· Wednesday: Bethany Lynch, The Graceful Mom
· Thursday: Emily Parker, Journey of Parenthood
· Friday: Jessica Cook, The Mommy Teacher

Our surprise blogger this week is Jessica Cook, co-author of The Mommy Teacher. It’s a super-cute blog that is a wonderful resource for activities for moms to do with their kids. The blog’s tagline is “schooling parents to teach their children, one activity at a time.” That pretty much says it all!

Jessica’s post for today is about how real moms in real life can do just one activity a day to make a big impact on our kids. I know that I personally feel somewhat overwhelmed when it comes to creating activities for my kids. I know activities can be so important to their little developing minds, but I’m just not a crafty person. I’m getting better though, now that I’m homeschooling my boys.

I’m always on the lookout for fun activities that will make our schooling a little more fun. As a case in point, we just got home from our local consignment shop where I found a kid’s microscope for $15 (originally $50)! I’m a sucker for a deal, so I was worried it wouldn’t make the impact that I was after, but my kids couldn’t keep their hands off the thing! As I think about our school plans for next week, I’m going to have my boys create their own slides that we can view on the microscope. And I’ll see if I can find a book from the library that talks about magnification or atoms and molecules. It’s this gentle introduction to a complex topic, with a hands-on activity, that is the foundation of our homeschool.

But I digress… Here’s my favorite quote from Jessica’s post:

I give myself lots of grace because I believe there is a huge learning curve when it comes to raising these little impressionable people.

It’s so true. It can be so easy to put so much pressure on ourselves given that they are so impressionable. And really, they’re only little once, so we get one shot. But that’s not the point. The point is that we do our best while giving ourselves grace, knowing that we always do the best that we can.

Babywise Week: Putting Baby First during the First Year

It’s Babywise Blog Network Week again! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

· Monday: Valerie Plowman, Chronicles of a Babywise Mom
· Tuesday: Maureen Monfore, Childwise Chat
· Wednesday: Bethany Lynch, The Graceful Mom
· Thursday: Emily Parker, Journey of Parenthood
· Friday: Surprise guest blogger

Today we hear from Emily Parker, author of Journey of ParenthoodEmily offers a wonderful post about family priorities during baby’s first year. As Babywise moms, we often have different priorities than other moms. We make sure we’re home for naps and stick to our schedules. It’s also about sacrifice because we know how important it is to have our babies on a schedule.

For you new moms I think it’s good to be warned: the first year is NOT easy. But by putting in the work now and making the sacrifices needed during that first year, it WILL make the second year (and third…and fourth…) such a joy! Hard work pays off and it pays off in a BIG WAY! Do not be discouraged. Do not feel guilt at the sacrifices your older children are having to make. Do not worry about your husband not getting as much quality time with you. This season of life is short. And by putting the needs of your baby first, your entire family will be greatly blessed!!!

This is my favorite quote from Emily’s post. She’s so right!

Babywise Week: In High Demand

It’s Babywise Blog Network Week again! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

· Monday: Valerie Plowman, Chronicles of a Babywise Mom
· Tuesday: Maureen Monfore, Childwise Chat
· Wednesday: Bethany Lynch, The Graceful Mom
· Thursday: Emily Parker, Journey of Parenthood
· Friday: Surprise guest blogger

For today’s Babywise Week post, we hear from Bethany, author of The Graceful Mom. Bethany is a mom of two who works outside the home. Her blog is a wonderful resource for working moms who want to do more than make it through the day. Although she’s not with her kids all day, Bethany has high expectations of them and doesn’t compromise on her expectations simply because she’s too busy.

In her post today, she talks about being in high demand as a professional, a mom, and a wife. It’s a challenge to maintain a balance and ensure that everybody gets what they need, Bethany included!

On days where I am feeling needed all around, I build in some time to sit down and reflect. I realize how difficult that can seem, but creating time to consider your expectations and re-prioritize or re-organize will most likely give you a whole new perspective.

This is my favorite quote from Bethany’s post. When we all feel like we’ve been stretched thin, stepping back and taking stock gives us great perspective.

Make Time for Your Relationship

Source: yourneighborhoodtoystore.org

Based on the title of this post, you may be thinking that I’m going to talk about making time for your relationship with your spouse. I wholeheartedly believe you need to make time for your marriage, but that’s not what this post is about. Today, I’m talking about making time for your relationship with your child.

You may be asking yourself why you would need to make time for your child. You probably spend all day every day with them, if you’re a stay-at-home mom. Even if you work outside the home, you still have plenty of evening and weekend time together.

But you know how easily life gets in the way. We’re all so busy with school, work, life, and whatever other activity might be filling our thoughts and actions. When our kids are in school, we rarely have much time with our kids. By the time they get home from school, there’s not much free time between homework, dinner, bath/shower, and bed. Busy, busy, busy. Even if you are home with your kids all day, you may be present physically, but are you really there for your children mentally and emotionally? You may be thinking about the next meal, any nap problems you’re struggling with, or what you are doing to train the child in first-time obedience. Even when we’re at home, the busyness of life takes over.

So it’s important to take time for your relationship with your child. The interesting thing about this is that when we build a relationship with our children, we give them motivation to do the things we want or need them to do. Perhaps that nap problem you’re struggling with is really your child’s attempt to spend more time with you or to get more attention from you. And I speak from experience when I say that our children are much more likely to obey when we have a healthy, loving relationship with them.

I once heard of a story that told of a family who left a busy life in New York and traded it for a more peaceful existence. Their primary reason? They noticed their son had stopped trying to please them. For whatever reason, he had lost a connection with his parents and no longer felt the need to do as they asked. I don’t know about you, but this idea frightens me. Parenting is nothing without that innate desire in the child to please us. And if we don’t take the time to build or maintain a relationship with our children, they may lose that desire.

This goes beyond simple nap struggles and obedience training. This strikes to the core of all that we aim to do with our children. We all hope that our children will grow up holding the same values that we hold ourselves. We all have high hopes for our children. We hope that they will grow to be adults guided by honesty, integrity, persistence, grace, love, and any other positive character trait you can think of. But if we have no relationship with our children, how far will we get with this?

As you think about making time for your relationship, think of it as another activity to schedule into your day. It can be something as simple as one-on-one reading time or a family game night. The only thing you must be sure of is to be present throughout the entire activity. Look in your child’s eyes. Live, love, and laugh together.

My husband and I read to our boys (separately) every night. And while I treasure this time with them, I’m often not giving them my full attention. We do it at the end of a long day when I’m often motivated to turn out the light and close the door.

We just had family game night again recently, and now that my boys are getting older, it was a lot of fun! Lucas struggled with losing, so we need to work on that. But all four of us were very engaged in the games and spending time together. The other benefit of family game night is that it allows me to give my husband a chance to make time for his relationship with the kids, something I’m not sure he’d do with much excitement otherwise. With a simple pronouncement by me that we’re having a family game night, he joins in and builds his relationship with our boys. So when you think about scheduling time for your relationship with your kids, see if there’s a way to schedule time for your husband and children to build their relationship. It’s always best to do this without being super obvious about it.

Let the idea of this post sit with you for a few days. Mull it over and give honest thought to how much time or work your relationship with your child might need. Have some impromptu one-on-one time in the morning, reading a book or playing a game, and see how it affects your day. See if your child acts more obediently or whether you have an easier day overall. You will have your proof that it works. Then you can schedule your daily reading time, weekly game night, or any other activity that helps to build your relationship.

 

Babywise Week: Teaching Life Skills

It’s Babywise Blog Network Week again! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

· Monday: Valerie Plowman, Chronicles of a Babywise Mom
· Tuesday: Maureen Monfore, Childwise Chat
· Wednesday: Bethany Lynch, The Graceful Mom
· Thursday: Emily Parker, Journey of Parenthood
· Friday: Surprise guest blogger

We kick off Babywise Blog Network Week with a wonderful post from Valerie about teaching our children those important life skills. She features a precious picture of her oldest at three years old pushing a vacuum. Valerie’s post offers a detailed explanation as to why it is our responsibility to teach our children important life skills and how to do so. For a time, it does take more work to teach a child to sweep the floor than to simply do it ourselves. But the goal is not having a clean floor. The goal is having a child who knows how to sweep. And as our kids learn these skills, it’s all about practice. Valerie reminds us that our kids need to practice their chores just as they do to learn to play an instrument, a sport, or any other activity that doesn’t come naturally.

“Your child is not going to learn how to cook and clean just because it happens in your home any more than your child will learn to read just because you have books in your home.” ~Valerie Plowman

This is my favorite quote from Valerie’s post. Its a great analogy!

To read her post in its entirety, head on over to Chronicles of a Babywise Mom. And check in here all week to see what the other Babywise bloggers have in store for us!