Babywise Is a Big-Picture Thing

babywise book

By Claire Westbrook, My Devising

A while back, I wrote about some various Babywise myths I had come across in my first months of parenting. Just like anything else, it’s not hard to google “Babywise” and come up with amazing testimonials as well as a community of anti-Babywisers. There are lovers and haters for everything. I’m not anti-other-forms-of-parenting, but I am pro-Babywise. It has worked for us and I plan on using it again for Nova when she arrives in about a month.

In anticipating the baby phase coming around again, I’ve been thinking about how important that first year is with establishing all of the things Babywise encourages you to establish: eat/wake/sleep cycle, full feedings, no snacking, learning to self-soothe, healthy sleep habits, landing on a schedule, etc. It’s a lot to process in the moment! But having a 2.5-year-old boy who is thriving, loving life, and sleeping well is quite a reward. I’m so thankful we put in the hard work at first so that we could reap the wonderful benefits now.

Think of Babywise like you think of exercise. (I know, for some of us it’s not a fun comparison.) It’s kind of annoying to do, but once you’re there in the gym, it’s not so bad. Or maybe for you it still is bad. But when you get home, you’re always glad you did it. When you get on that scale and realize you’ve lost 10 pounds, you’re glad you did it. When you fit comfortably into those jeans that used to be skin tight, you’re glad you did it. When you cross that finish line that you never thought you’d cross, you’re glad you did it. Most of the time, once we see the results of exercising, we get excited, see the value, and continue moving forward with it because we see its worth.

Babywise is a “in the long run” kind of thing. It’s a “big picture” thing. There are tough moments — when schedules adjust, when naps aren’t long enough, when your baby cries.  But those are things that any mom/baby deals with. With Babywise, however, you have a road map to navigate through them. It’s such a helpful problem solver. And the next time something like it comes around, you’re more prepared. Babywise is a lifesaver when you’re in the thick of those first several months, but the benefits go even further.

If you’re on your way to becoming a mom for the first time, I definitely recommend looking into Babywise. If you read it and thought, There’s no way I could keep up with all of this.  It’s too confusing, don’t worry! It’s hard to apply parenting principles in your mind when you’re not a parent. So you know what I suggest? Don’t even read the thing until you have that baby. I guarantee that once he or she is in your arms, you’ll read it and soak up every word like a sponge. It will begin to make sense. Yes, you’ll be tired and weepy and all the other stuff, but it’s such an easy and quick read. You can go through that thing in one sitting.

If you’re looking for a parenting method that implements and carries out a variety good habits beyond babyhood, Babywise is for you!

Claire is a stay-at-home mom to her 2.5 year old son, Duke. She enjoys teaching piano lessons, songwriting, and blogging at My Devising.

Babywise Week: More Benefits of Babywise

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It’s BFBN (Babywise Friendly Blog Network) Week! We have two more great posts on the benefits of Babywise. Yesterday, Emily from Journey of Parenthood talks about how great Babywise is for different personality types. She refers to the different types of babies, as referenced in Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. She says that her oldest was an Angel Baby, but things changed when her second, a Spirited Baby, came along. But the great news is that she was able to roll with the punches and still get them to be good sleepers.

Here’s what she says about how it all turned out:

Even though I have had two very different personality types, I followed the SAME parenting philosophy with both children. Having gone through everything with Kye I was better prepared with Britt for how to really be a true “Babywise Mom” from the start and that really benefitted her! My “spirited child” is actually a much better, sounder, sleeper than her “angel baby” brother ever was.”

I love it! Head on over to Emily’s blog to read her post in its entirety.

Today, we’re featuring a post from Claire at My Devising. Claire talks about how great Babywise is in helping parents solve problems. It’s so true. I know that whenever I have problems with my kids, I don’t have to just sit idly by and accept it. I can look to my books and figure out what’s going wrong. Then I can figure out a strategy to fix it.

The other great thing that Claire points out is that Babywise kids are typically well-rested and well-behaved. If something goes wrong, we know it’s not the norm. Here’s what she says about this:

“One of the great perks of having a Babywise baby is that you have a child who sleeps.  Sleeping well is the norm.  Short naps and interrupted night sleep are unusual.”

And of course, sleep affects behavior. If sleep is off, then behavior will probably be off, too. But the great thing is that we can see the link and do what we need to do to fix it. Hop on over to Claire’s blog to read her post in its entirety.

Babywise Week: Benefits of Babywise in Older Children

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It’s Babywise Week! Today, we’re featuring a post from Valerie, our fearless leader. Valerie blogs at Chronicles of a Babywise Mom. I honestly think that Babywise would not be what it is today without Valerie. There are certainly plenty of groups and contact moms out there who help Babywise parents, but Valerie’s blog is a huge blessing. She blogs so dutifully, reaches people across the globe, and covers every topic we could ever need in applying the Babywise principles in our homes.

I first met Valerie online when my youngest (now 6.5) was a few weeks old. It turned out that we both had an older boy around the same age. I believe my oldest William is just 6 or so months older than Brayden. Well, I immediately felt an affinity with Val since we seemed to have the oldest kids in our group, and Babywise hadn’t quite hit the Internet in ways that it has since.

Like Valerie, I started my blog in response to many moms looking for support with Babywise. She was the real trailblazer, but I started my blog in 2009, more than five years ago!

But I digress. In today’s post, Valerie talks about the effects of Babywise in older children. I can certainly attest to the claims she makes that Babywise does nothing to harm our kids. In fact, it prepares them for a life of responsibility, respect, diligence, and more. If there’s one caveat to these statements, it’s that it’s not really Babywise that has prepared our older kids. Babywise is great for babies. But so many moms forget to keep reading the series. Babywise sets us off on the right foot, but Toddlerwise, Preschoolwise, and Childwise are really where the hard work starts to pay off. So if you haven’t kept up with your reading, so do now!

In her post, Valerie offers a great description of what’s going on with each of her kids. They’re an inspiration! Here’s what I love most in what she says:

There are so many little things that really have all struck me as common sense when I have read them in the Babywise books that we have implemented that have helped my children grow so far into the delightful people they are. They amaze me each day. I am excited to see them grow and see all they will become. They are equipped with tools to do what they need to do and I have no doubt they will continue to amaze me in the future.

I agree!

Babywise Week: Having Babies Close Together

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It’s Babywise Friendly Blog Network (BFBN) week! Today, we’re featuring a post from Rachel at A Mother Far From Home. Rachel has three kids under age 2.5, and credits Babywise for bringing order and peace to what could otherwise be a stressful and chaotic situation. This week is a tribute to Babywise. We’ll all be discussing what we believe to be the (amazing) benefits of Babywise.

I cannot imagine what Rachel’s life must be like. I’m a quiet person and I enjoy my peace and quiet. My kids are three years apart, and at age 6 and 9, they’re fairly independent. They’re still incredibly noisy, but that’s beside the point.

I’ll discuss my favorite points of Babywise later in the week, but one of my absolute favorite things that Babywise gives our kids is a sense of security. They know what to expect. They know when to expect it. They know that they don’t need to walk on eggshells or live at the the whims of their parents. Here’s what Rachel says about it:

Babywise uses a disciplinary system that helps children learn to trust their parents and draw security from this. Food, sleep, other needs are met in a timely fashion before circumstances become dire. Children are held accountable for their actions and trained thoroughly on what’s expected of them.

This is so true. I honestly cannot thank the Ezzos enough for writing Babywise and being so diligent in helping well-meaning parents figure out their kids’ needs!

Tips for Starting Babywise

 By Emily Parker, Journey of Parenthood

I have had several new mommy friends come to me recently asking how to actually get started with establishing a schedule with their newborns. Babywise recommends feeding on demand until 2-3 weeks old. I totally agree with this, but I also started from birth (yes, while at the hospital!) with introducing Babywise techniques with my daughter. You can read my tips for starting from birth in this post. 

Once the baby turns that magical 2-3 weeks old…then what? 

Here is how I always recommend starting to set up the baby on a schedule:

  1. Pick a start time. It’s crucial to have a start time to each day. I like to go by the book so I chose 7 am for my children since it is what all the Babywise books use in the sample schedules. It can be any time you choose, but your entire schedule revolves around this time. If your baby wakes before the awake time then it is considered a “middle of the night” feeding. Mine would often wake at 5:30. I’d feed, put back to bed, and re-wake at 7 to start my day.
  2. Wake to eat. It is okay to let the baby sleep an extra 15 min, when needed, but if it’s time to eat then you need to wake the baby! I know how hard it is but it’s important in order to establish the routine! Same with feeding early. It’s okay to feed early if you think your baby is hungry but then adjust your schedule accordingly. I always tried to hold my babies off to eat until I was within the 15 min time window of their next scheduled feeding time. Remember that with nursing you need to have 8-10 feedings a day!
  3. Eat-Wake-Sleep cycle. When the baby wakes feed him or her then keep the baby awake for some awake time. In the early days it can often be only just a few minutes but still have some awake time before putting them back to sleep. The only time you don’t do this is in the middle of the night. After the last scheduled feeding for the day then put the baby to bed for the night and cross fingers they let you sleep! When the baby wakes for the night feeding keep it dark and quiet and try to keep them in sleepy mode as much as possible. Don’t do any awake time before putting them back to their nighttime sleep!
  4. Continue to focus on full feedings. During the first few weeks I always encourage new moms just to work hard to get the baby to take a full feeding. Do whatever you have to in order to keep him or her awake while they eat!!! It’s important to continue to do this once the schedule is in place. It will help make sure the baby will stay nice and full (and happy!) until the next feeding time! By this age most babies fall into a natural 2 1/2 – 3 hours between feedings (you calculate that time from the start of the first feeding to the start of the next one).
  5. Keep the sleep hierarchy in mind. This is a big thing for me! Reading this post from Valerie’s blog was truly a life saver. The most important goal is for the baby to SLEEP during sleep times. Ideally you want the baby to be in their crib to sleep but if you have to use the swing, help hold the baby to go back to sleep, etc. then do it at this age in order to make sure sleep happens! My goal was to always keep the baby in the crib if I could so if they woke early I’d go in and simply touch them or make a quiet sound (“shhh”). If that didn’t work then I’d pick up and comfort and put back down once they stopped crying. If that didn’t work then I’d try the swing. If that didn’t work then I’d try me holding them until they went to sleep. I tried to “interfere” as little as possible but kept the ultimate goal of sleep in mind!
  6. Know the “sleepy cues.” My daughter was a slow nurser and would, literally, only have a few brief minutes of awake time after nursing before she went back to sleep. If your baby yawns, gets fussy, rubs eyes, etc. (here is a great post on sleep cues!) then it means get them to the bed and fast! If you miss the sleepy window then you have a baby who is overtired and overstimulated and who probably won’t sleep.
  7. Have a good sleep environment. Make the place where the baby sleeps for naps as much like the night sleep conditions as you can. Get black out curtains to keep the room dark. Use a swaddle if you use one at night. Do the same routine before each nap (such as sing a short song, etc.). Have a form of white noise that you use every time the baby is sleeping. By keeping the pre-sleep ritual consistent at all sleep times the baby will learn when they get swaddled and you start singing that song then it’s time for them to sleep!
  8. Stay home. I know for many people it’s a big sacrifice not to be out and about. I tell family and friends to get their fill of our new babies during the first couple weeks because once it’s time to set up the schedule, we get strict about it! Just like with anything else in life, the more consistent you are with keeping the routine for your baby, the more successful you will be. At this stage the goal is sleeping through the night and it will happen sooner if you work hard these early days to get the schedule in place!
  9. Don’t cry it out. I think often Babywise gets a bad rap about cry it out but at this age it’s not something you need to be concerned with at all. If your baby is crying at the start of nap then 90% of the time it’s probably because the baby is overtired/overstimulated. Help the baby get to sleep (although it’s fine to let them fuss a bit and see if they will fall asleep on their own too!) and know that next nap to make sure to put them to bed earlier! I like to write down when my baby shows sleep cues and try to actually start the bedtime routine process prior to the time when they start to show signs of being tired. That way they are ready to get in the bed exactly at the right time! You also don’t need to do cry it out mid-nap yet. Again, the sleep hierarchy! If the baby wakes mid-nap then go in and soothe to get them back to sleep!
  10. Know the Wonder Weeks. If you’ve never heard of Wonder Weeks then you will be SO glad I just told you about them! It’s so, so accurate! It is times when your baby is going through developmental leaps and knowing when they occur helps to know when your baby might struggle with sleep and be fussier than normal. During Wonder Weeks I did a lot more comforting than usual and just helped my babies get through the stage, once it passed things went back to normal with no issues.
  11. Cluster feed and dream feed. I do a combo of Babywise schedule along with the scheduling recommended in the book The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. I have my feeding times in the evenings closer together. This is typically a fussy time of the day any way for little ones so why not just keep them happy and fed? Plus by “stocking up” on eating close to bedtime, it helps the baby stay full longer in the night. The sample schedule in Babywise has a “late evening” feeding. This is also known as the “dream feed.” You wake the baby to eat, but you don’t have any awake time following this scheduled feeding. While I do a dream feed when first starting to schedule, I do think at a certain point it can cause issues with solid sleep. Both of my children, so far, slept through the night at 8-9 weeks old and it happened for the first time on nights I accidentally slept through the dream feed. Therefore, I typically stop doing them around that age!

Here is a sample schedule from when my daughter was two-three weeks old:

  • 7:00: start of the day, eat
  • 8:00-8:30: awake time then down for nap
  • 10:00: eat
  • 11:00-11:30: awake time then down for nap
  • 1:00: eat
  • 2:00-2:30: awake time then down for nap
  • 4:00: eat
  • 5:00-5:30: awake time then down for nap
  • 6:00: eat (this is a cluster feed, I would feed her close together in the evenings to help her load up on food and stay full for the night time. The evenings are also THE fussiest time of the day at this age so it makes sense to feed her and keep her happy!)
  • 7:00-7:30: awake time then down for nap
  • 8:00: do bedtime ritual (massage or bath) then eat. Put her straight to bed after this feeding
  • 10:30: wake her up for her “dream feed” (this is one extra feeding before we go to bed to, again, help her stock up and hopefully sleep through the night).
  • Feed whenever wakes during the night (typically around 3:30ish)

When I first started Babywise with my first baby I had such a hard time because I felt like the book didn’t go into enough detail. I didn’t have a lot of people I knew personally who used Babywise principals to help me so I’m very thankful I found resources online. My main resources was Chronicles of a Babywise Mom. There is also a great Google Group set up where you can ask questions and a panel of fellow Babywise moms will help answer them! It’s a wonderful tool! Of course any of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network bloggers are fabulous resources as well and I know I personally love to help whenever I can!

Here are some other blog posts that may also help you get started:

Babywise Week: Put Your Marriage First for the Child’s Sake

Does your child come between you and your spouse?

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

This week, many of us are writing on the topic of child-centered parenting. It’s a basic yet fundamentally important principle of the Ezzos’ parenting ideals. They tell us that we are to welcome children into the family without making them the center of it. The husband and wife relationship must stay intact, and we should remain husband and wife even as we become mom and dad. I wholeheartedly believe in this.

First, let me grab a quote from Growing Kids God’s Way that tells you what the Ezzos say:

“We know the tragedy that can befall a family when basic principles of parenting are violated. We have counseled mothers and fathers who, with the best of intentions, started their parenting with love and nurturing only to see their dreams of a beautiful family reduced to a nightmare of survival…. There are two related evils that threaten successful parenting and lead to the demise of the family. The first is downplaying the significance of the husband-wife relationship in the parenting process, and the second is falling into the trap of child-centered parenting,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 31).

I don’t think any parent would tell you that parenting is a piece of cake. Sure there are kids who sleep well as babies and are innately obedient as toddlers, but even those kids require that parents change their way of life. And since parenting can be so difficult, it is bound to put a strain on the marriage. In fact, many times, parents believe that divorce is what is best for the child.

Let me insert a disclaimer: I believe there are many times when divorce is the only option. This is typically in the case of abuse, yet abuse takes on many disguises. If a parent is so beaten down, physically or emotionally, that he or she cannot live a healthy life, happy and secure in their own skin, then divorce may be the right choice. Even in this case, however, I believe every attempt should be made to improve the health of the marriage before seeking divorce.

Now, back to those of us who are happily married, there are many reasons why it’s important to put the marriage first. As already mentioned, chief among the risks of child-centered parenting is the damage it could do to the marriage. Another risk is that it can lead to self-centeredness. The Ezzos say, “The result [of putting the child first] is a society consumed with child-centeredness which is the precursor to self-centeredness,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 31). What’s more, by putting the child first, we aren’t modeling a healthy, happy marriage. It’s important for kids to see how two happily married people show their love for each other.

But beyond this, the main thought that I want to get across in this post is that putting the marriage first is for the child’s benefit. It may seem backwards, but putting the child second is actually putting him first.

I have a few Facebook friends who post inspirational quotes from notable people. I usually enjoy these quotes until they broach the subject of parenting. Often, these quotes say something like, “everything I do I do for my child,” or “my child is my universe.” These quotes get to the core of what it means to be child-centered. And though the people who post these quotes are well intentioned, I don’t think they understand that making their child the reason for their existence is actually detrimental to the child.

What a child needs most–in addition to love, care, and devotion–is a stable foundation. For all the reasons that we put our babies on routines, stability is comforting to a child. When two parents make their marriage the priority, the child knows that the foundation upon which his family rests is solid and secure. On the other hand, when the child is made to be the foundation of the family, life is on shaky ground. It’s anything but comforting for a child to be the ground on which the family rests.

The Ezzos explain it well. This is a lengthy quote, but it’s good, so bear with me.

“As professionals, we cannot overstate how necessary a healthy husband-wife relationship is to the emotional well-being of a child…. Strong marriages create a sense of certainty. When there is harmony in the husband-wife relationship, there is an infused stability within the family. A strong marriage provides a haven of security for children as they grow…. Children know intuitively, just as you and I knew when we were growing up, that if something happens to Mom and Dad, their whole world will collapse. If the parents’ relationship is always in question in the mind of a child, then that child tends to live his life on the brink of emotional collapse. In contrast, when a child has confidence in his parents’ relationship, he is emotionally free to get on with his life,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 37).

Now, I’m not saying that making the marriage top priority is easy, especially when our kids are little and demand so much of our attention. Plus, it’s fun to live life through our children’s eyes and give them all that we can. But it’s so important to keep this in check. Do whatever you can to promote the health of your marriage. Practice couch time, go on dates, and frequently tell your child that his request will have to wait while you tend to your spouse. Find opportunities in your day to make sure your child understands that Mommy or Daddy comes first. As you do so, remind yourself that it’s all in the name of stability and security for the child.

 

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Parenting Inside the Funnel

By Emily Parker at The Journey Of Parenthood

funnelMy biggest struggle so far as a parent is resisting the tendency to parent outside the funnel with my children. Toddlerwise reiterates the importance of avoiding this on page 36: “By ‘outside the funnel’ we are referring to those times when parents allow behaviors that are neither age-appropriate nor in harmony with a child’s moral and intellectual capabilities. To allow a 15-month-old child freedoms appropriate for a 2-year-old, or a 2-year-old child freedoms suitable for his 5-year-old sister, is to parent outside the funnel. Such freedoms do not facilitate healthy learning patterns – they only contribute to confusion.”

When Kye, my now four-year-old son, was my only child I didn’t struggle as much with this issue. The only time I really found myself parenting outside of the funnel was when he first developed the ability to use language. As he was more and more able to express his wants and desires, I caught myself giving him more control and asking him what he wanted, thus putting him in a position of power over me. By giving him too many choices (freedoms) I caused confusion for him which lead to behavior issues. At meal time he’d say he wanted more raisins and I would give him more raisins. But then he’d ask for more raisins and I’d want him to eat his beans first and we’d end up in a power struggle because he was used to making the decision as to what he’d eat.

Thankfully, I realized early on that this was something I struggled with and I took back over the control of meal times as well as all other areas of decision making. There aren’t too many age-appropriate decisions for a toddler to make, right? ;)

Once I had Britt, my daughter, it became much, much harder to parent her within the funnel. Instead of just one funnel to worry about, I now have two. In every situation I have to think about what is age-appropriate for a four-year-old (Kye) and what is age-appropriate for a 20-month-old (Britt). My struggle typically becomes allowing her too much freedom and treating her older than she really is.

Recently Kye became old enough to handle eating whole grapes without me cutting them up into slices for him. Britt naturally wanted her grapes whole as well since that’s how her brother’s were, and she would fuss and fuss about it at lunch time. I gave in, thinking (as I often do with her) that it “wasn’t fair” for her to see him getting something different than she was. However, it’s not age-appropriate for a 20-month-old to eat whole grapes. It’s dangerous and not something I feel comfortable with. I had to have a reality check and remind myself that I am the parent and SHE is the child. Things won’t always be fair nor should they be and that it is okay for her to fuss about getting sliced grapes instead of the whole ones. I went back to cutting hers into quarters and she was FINE about it. Barely any fussing at all and I knew she was eating in a safer way.

I have to often remind myself of the funnel and literally stop what I’m doing and consider whether or not something is age-appropriate for each of my children. Kye being the older child I think I often tend to not allow him freedoms when he is ready for them whereas with Britt being the second child I think I allow her too many freedoms too soon.

DSC06416I also catch myself expecting more from Britt than I should. I have to remind myself of the funnel not only to make sure I have age-appropriate freedoms for Britt, but also age-appropriate expectations. We require Kye to always reply with either “yes ma’am” or “no ma’am” and naturally we expect Britt to respond the same way. Hearing her say “no” gets under my skin and I find myself irritated with her for not saying “no ma’am.” At her age she doesn’t have the language ability to say “no ma’am” so instead of expecting her to say it, I simply repeat “no ma’am” to her every time she says “no.” She has started to be able to say “no ma’am” and we are mindful to shower her with praise whenever she does! At four years old, Kye is expected to say it without any praise but at her age, she needs the praise to be encouraged to say it every time!

Whenever in doubt I refer back to page 36 in Toddlerwise and keep the following equations in mind:

1. Freedoms greater than self control = developmental confusion
2. Freedoms less than self-control = developmental frustration
3. Freedoms equal to self-control = developmental harmony

Thankfully, Kye is not yet at an age where us withholding certain freedoms from him is an issue. I typically will handle sibling issues by lowering Kye’s freedoms down to ones that are more age appropriate for Britt. Kye has a lot of board games he enjoys playing but many of them have small pieces and also require deeper understanding and patience that Britt just can’t handle yet. Kye knows we don’t play with those games while Britt is awake and instead Zach (my husband) and I will play a game of Kye’s choosing each night during the fifteen minutes between when Britt goes to bed and when Kye goes to bed. He is still able to enjoy his age-appropriate game but without it affecting Britt’s ability to stay within her appropriate limits.

I know that Kye does sacrifice for his younger sister in many areas and I’m always mindful of that. I make a special effort to always compliment him and to give him plenty of opportunities to enjoy his well earned four-year-old status freedoms. We go get ice cream just the two of us quite often, I allow him to have some quiet time in his room with his preschooler age toys before she wakes from her afternoon nap, and he attends a half-day preschool where he’s around other children his age every day!

With two children, parenting within the funnel is definitely a greater challenge than it ever was with just one child. I know as we add more children to our family eventually that I will have to readjust and always be mindful of what limits, freedoms and expectations are appropriate for each child at their given ages. I understand how important parenting inside the funnel is at any age and try to always have it at the front of my mind when making any parenting decisions.

Free Summer Planner Download!

Planner Cover image

Click to download

Homeschooling has changed me a bit, for the better, I think. It’s made me crafty! It has also encouraged the planner in me. So I created a free download for you!

Last Tuesday was our last day of school, and we had a very lazy week and tossed all routine out the window. I was feeling guilty about requiring “summer school” from my children, so I let them do pretty much whatever they wanted for three days as long as it wasn’t destructive. Well…it drove me nuts! There was a lot of TV and a LOT of asking for TV and devices (iPad, iPhone, etc.).

Well, it’s a new week! I set my guilt aside and decided to plan out our summer, school and all. As I think ahead to next school year, I want to teach William to be more independent with his studies, so I’m using this planner as a test. I plan to print it out and maybe have it spiral bound. Isn’t it cute?!

Included in the free download are the following:

  • Sample Schedule (Mon, Tues, Weds)
  • Sample Schedule (Thurs, Fri, Sat/Sun)
  • Weekly Schedule (Mon, Tues, Weds)
  • Weekly Schedule (Thurs, Fri, Sat/Sun)
  • Chore List
  • Virtue List
  • Allowance Checklist
  • Allowance Record

Sample schedule image

Click to download

Let me explain the two schedule types. At first, I created our schedule as you see in the Sample Schedule. Then I realized that I’m more likely to get him to follow it independently if he’s involved in the process of creating it. So I then made another version, the Weekly Schedule, which has many more blanks. I’ll go through it with him to fill it out.

You’ll see that the schedules are created for one week, and they have a virtue listed at the top. Again, I’m going to involve William in this. I’m going to have him decide which virtue he thinks he needs to work on for the week. He’ll then write it in at the top. He can refer to the Virtue List to decide.

And to motivate him in all of this, I’ve created a couple forms for allowance. We’ve done allowance in the past, but I’ve never been very consistent with it. This outlines exactly what needs to be done to receive an allowance, and it puts William in the driver’s seat. He’ll fill out the checklist all week long, and at the end of the week, he can come to me for his allowance if all of it has been completed.

There are a few other items I’m including in his planner (that aren’t in the download):

  • Monthly calendars for June, July, and August (just so he can see what we have planned). I created these in Word. Simple with the calendar template.
  • Library’s summer reading program sheet (yay!)
  • Year at a glance

If you have a child who you think might benefit from a planner like this, feel free to download. I’m giving you the PowerPoint file so you can modify it to suit your needs. Or if you don’t give it to your child to use, you might use it for yourself.

Note: This is for personal use only. Please don’t reproduce multiple copies or (gasp!) sell it.

Entitlement: Self-Sacrifice

In January, I wrote a post called “Entitlement.” It seems to have struck a nerve for some of you. The blog was pretty active that day. I can see why. Entitlement is one of those ugly characteristics that we want to avoid instilling in our children. At the same time, it’s difficult to avoid, as evidenced by an entire generation that has been labeled as entitled.

Today, we’ll discuss all that we as mothers sacrifice and how it may lead to entitlement in our children.

They say that motherhood is the ultimate in self-sacrifice. In pregnancy, we give our bodies. In the newborn phase, we give up sleep and pretty much all semblance of free time. In the toddler phase, we give up the freedom to sit and relax (as we chase them around the house), not to mention the freedom to use the bathroom alone. In the preschool phase, we don’t have to give as much physically, but then the reality sets in that we need to start preparing our kids for school. As they grow older, we give less, but we still sacrifice adult time, date nights (that don’t cost an arm and a leg in babysitter fees), and everything else that won’t see the light of day until our kids can stay home by themselves. Plus, we’re still responsible for our kids’ physical and moral development.

There’s a funny thing about self-sacrificing mothers. There are many moms who say that their children give their lives a purpose. They feel needed and they like it. These are the moms who will sacrifice everything for their children, and many of them are self-righteous about it. They give the impression that working moms or moms who have activities outside the home are not fulfilling their duties as moms. Many of them go so far as to criticize those of us who sleep train or have our children sleep in their own beds.

Despite how self-righteous they may be about it, it’s usually these self-sacrificing mothers who end up with entitled children. These kids have been given the world for their entire lives. Then they get to a certain age and start to expect that they’ll be given the world. They act entitled. Why wouldn’t they? It’s what they’ve been taught to do. Interesting how that works, isn’t it?

Realizing that this is the case, it’s important to stop every now and then and examine how our parenting methods may be creating entitled children. In what ways do we sacrifice as mothers? What areas of sacrifice can we give up? Where can we depend on our kids more? What more can we require of them as they grow up? What do we give them that they feel entitled to?

Here are some ideas to think about:

1) Insist that your crawling baby or toddler wait outside the bathroom for you. It’s okay if he fusses for a few minutes.

2) Don’t pick up your baby or toddler every time she cries. Shush her until she stops whining or crying, and only then pick her up.

3) Set aside time for your spouse every night (couch time) and insist that your child not interrupt you.

4) Find a time in the day where your child is awake but you have some alone time. Teach your child that when he sees you reading the paper and drinking coffee, he is to leave mommy alone.

5) Make sure your kids earn every privilege.

6) Track the time your kids spend on devices (computer, iPad, video games, TV), and make it clear that it’s a privilege, not a right.

7) Require chores, no matter how much homework or piano practice she has. Even from an early age, kids can start helping out around the house.

8) If your child starts acting entitled to a certain privilege, take it away. Only give it back when he seems grateful for the privilege.

Keep an eye on all that you sacrifice for your kids. Make sure that you sacrifice less and less as the child grows. Have him do more for himself as he ages and make sure he knows you don’t live your life catering to his every whim.

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.