Babywise Week: An Attitude of Adventure

We’re finishing Babywise Week with a post from Claire at My Devising. Claire’s son is only 2.5 so she hasn’t quite gotten into the years when we really deal with attitude, but she has some great advice. One thing I gather from her situation is that it’s important to think about potential parenting issues before you run into them. It’s always best to have a plan, a roadmap of sorts, to guide us in our parenting and help us aim for a goal. So it’s great that Claire has had thoughts about attitude. When her son starts displaying problems with attitude, she’ll be ready to deal with it.

Here’s an example of how Claire is thinking about attitude in parenting: “I want to create little humans that look at hardships and hurt as a challenge, an adventure, and an opportunity.”

It’s so true that attitude makes all the difference. When our kids face difficulties in life, we can help prepare them by teaching them how to face them with grace. I know of some people who face hardships by pointing fingers. It’s always the other person’s fault. It takes real character to point to ourselves and see hardships as an opportunity for self improvement.

Head on over to Claire’s blog to read her post in its entirety. And if you haven’t had a chance yet, check out everyone’s posts on attitude from this week. It’s a real treasure-trove of parenting advice!

Babywise Week: Teaching Appreciation in an Entitled World

It’s Babywise Week. Today, we hear from Emily at Journey of Parenthood. This week, we’re talking about attitude, and Emily offers tips on how we can teach our kids to be appreciative in our entitled world. Entitlement seems to be running rampant in kids these days. Whether it’s from excessive (and unwarranted) praise or the “every child gets a trophy” philosophy, kids are being taught that they deserve everything their little hearts desire.

As Emily says, “Our kids are constantly made to feel so special, so perfect, and are so accustomed to the our worlds revolving around them that they no longer appreciate any of it. They expect praise. They expect rewards. They expect to have us catering to their every whim.”

Emily offers specific tips on how to ensure our kids don’t grow up to be entitled. They include:

  • Remain the parent
  • Don’t always give what they want
  • You get what you get (and you don’t get upset)
  • Let them lose
  • Praise when appropriate
  • Limit rewards
  • Don’t be fair
  • Have honest talks about reality
  • Model appreciation
  • Keep the focus above

Emily does a great job explaining what each of these means. Head on over to Emily’s blog to read her post in its entirety. And be sure to follow us all week:

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Babywise Week: A Parent’s Best Instruction Manual

Babywise Instruction ManualEverything we buy these days comes with an instruction manual. These manuals include specific instructions on everything from how to toast bread to how to install a car seat (diagrams included). I was washing William’s coat the other day, I looked to the tag to find out what the manufacturer suggested. There were six “pages” of washing instructions sewn into his coat, all in about four or five languages. It was maddening to find simple instructions in English!

I can toast bread or wash a coat without an instruction manual. But raising a child? I need an instruction manual for that! Didn’t you feel this way when you left the hospital with your first baby? You go in with nothing but a few forms filled out, and they let you leave with a precious, fragile human being.

Some people take the advice of their parents. Others fumble their way through it. But we Babywise moms read! Babywise is our instruction manual.

Prepping for stages to come

Whenever I’m approaching a new phase with my kids, I prep and give myself a refresher course on where we’ve been and then look ahead to where we need to be going. The Ezzos have written books for every age range, and it’s best to be ready for changes before they happen.

I’m currently making my way through the videos for “Parenting Through the Middle Years.” It’s for kids ages 9-12. My oldest is 9.5 right now, so we’re definitely in the middle years. In fact, I’m probably a little behind and should have those videos finished by now.

Getting back on track when things go awry

In addition to prepping myself for stages to come, I love that the Babywise books keep us on track when we veer off course. I’m experiencing some attitude from my youngest, Lucas, these days. It’s really thrown me off. What do I do about it?

I know, first of all, that I don’t need to accept it. In fact, I shouldn’t accept it. Second, I know that I can open my worn, dog-eared copy of Childwise to figure out what’s going on and what I can do to fix it. Kids crave structure, and usually, any misbehavior we see stems from a lack of structure.

Our world has turned upside down lately. My husband is working a lot. I’m working a lot. And we have a new nanny who brings her toddler son with her. Lucas is not happy about the whole arrangement and has been very vocal with his discontent. So when I step back and examine his attitude issues, I can see that they’re just an expression of the insecurity he’s feeling from all of the changes in his life.

Knowing I have the power to effect change

Understanding our problem is one thing. Making the changes to fix it is another thing altogether. Without Childwise, I might feel defeated with no power to change our situation. But with Childwise, I know I can always turn to my book for the answers to our problems.

If I can see that Lucas is unhappy with all of the changes in our lives and the lack of structure that may stem from it, I know that if I create more order and structure in his life wherever I can, he will likely come around. He’s just asking for stability and structure. It’s unfortunate that it comes out with a bad attitude, but at least I can see it for what it is.

Having the power to effect change in our lives is amazing. I know that if I hadn’t been introduced to Babywise before my kids were born, I would have muddled my way through. I would be parenting from the hip, with little plan or structure. Babywise gives me power.

True, my kids are human beings, but rather than blaming them for their misbehavior and throwing my hands up in the air, I can stop and truly examine what’s going on and make the changes to fix any issues we may have. If creating more structure doesn’t resolve our issues, then maybe my kids need more sleep or maybe they need independent playtime. Whatever it may be, I know I have the tools in my parenting toolbox to create the change we need.

And it’s all thanks to my trusty instruction manual.

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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!

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.

How Do Your Kids Act When You’re Not Around?

Source: blendedfamilymoments.com

Don’t we all wish we could be a fly on the wall when our kids are in social situations with their peers? The way that our kids react when we’re not around is so important to their moral fiber. It’s also indicative of how we parent. If we tend to control our kids rather than guide them and let them learn, we are more likely to end up with kids who are outwardly obedient, yet inwardly defiant.

The Ezzos offer this as a warning flag in Parenting the Middle Years, the book that comes after Growing Kids God’s Way and On Becoming Childwise. (It’s directed toward parents of kids ages 8-12.) This is what they say about this warning flag:

“Warning flag one: your child does not follow the family standard outside of your presence (or the presence of others who know and represent your family values) …. When your middle years child becomes characterized by not caring who sees him or what he is doing, especially when he is around people who are familiar with your family’s values, then the child’s problem is one of shame — the lack of it,” (Parenting the Middle Years, p. 75.)

Essentially, our kids — no matter their age — should care what people think. If we know we have done our job in teaching them the way we think they should act, we can expect that they will carry this with them wherever they go. Some indiscretions will happen for sure. But on the whole, we should be able to expect that our kids behave appropriately.

So I suppose the question becomes, How do we find out how our kids act when we’re not around? Our friends can be very helpful in this endeavor. But more than that, listen intently when anyone comments on your child’s behavior. Ask questions. A mom from our homeschool co-op came up to me recently and told me how polite my kids are. Of course, I was appreciative of the comment. But I had to ask more. I wondered what the scenario was that helped her come to this conclusion. We are working on “thank you” at home as my kids seem to have forgotten the value of this phrase. But they almost always say “please” when asking for something, especially from a near-stranger. She also commented on how patient they were when or before they were asking for something.

You might also call upon other people in your child’s life: teacher, coach, scouts leader, etc. Ask them to tell you honestly how your child acts when you’re not around. Then ultimately, if you hear anything negative, you can make that priority number one in what you teach the child.

What TV Do You Allow?

Little Bear!

I think we all know that we should limit the amount of time that our kids spend in front of the TV. But do you think twice about the quality of TV they watch? I don’t know about you, but my kids and their media habits seem to be maturing much faster than I’d like! They’d watch all of the Star Wars and Harry Potter movies if I allowed it! If I had it my way, they’d watch only Little Bear. It’s such a sweet little show with absolutely zero negativity. Even all Disney movies have some sort of villain. There’s no villain in Little Bear!

Despite the infatuation I have for Little Bear, I realize that my kids have graduated beyond the Little Bear age. There are times that I can get them to watch it still, but they would always choose something else. But it means there’s a job for me in this. My job is to watch the various shows they would want to watch and decide whether I should allow them. I’m fairly strict with what I allow my kids to watch, which I think is a good thing. It’s far better to be too strict than not strict enough.

Here’s what I don’t allow:

  • Harry Potter movies after the third. We require that the books be read before the movies can be watched.
  • Star Wars movies. They’ve only seen the first, and that was a special birthday treat.
  • Anything on Cartoon Network. I hate this channel. All of the cartoons available on this channel are dark and violent.
  • Any movie that I haven’t previously reviewed and approved
  • Spongebob Squarepants. Super annoying and mindless.

Here’s what I do allow:

  • Phineas and Ferb. This is their favorite show. I try to look past the tattling aspect of the big sister.
  • Johnny Test. I’ll admit that this isn’t my favorite, but it’s not violent, and they really do like it.
  • Anything educational. Think Super Why, or even documentaries/biographies on history topics like the Paul Revere one William once watched.

There are just two shows that we watch as a family:

  • The Amazing Race. We all LOVE this show and it’s pretty benign. Great for the whole family.
  • America’s Funniest Videos. We watch this on Hulu and Netflix.

And there are a few movies that we own, that I always approve of. (We wouldn’t have purchased them if I didn’t approve.) They are:

  • How to Train Your Dragon (great movie!)
  • Cars 1 and 2
  • Toy Story 1, 2 and 3
  • Horton Hears a Who
  • Curious George
  • Wall-E (a few scary elements, but okay overall)
  • A Bee Movie
  • Ratatouille
  • Up

I’d love to hear if you have any great (and innocent!) TV shows or movies you would recommend!

How’s Your Child’s Heart?

Source: ourprincessdana.com

There’s a little problem that occurs when we focus on our children’s obedience (or disobedience). We forget to check the status of their hearts. And if there’s anything we want to be careful of it’s that we not raise children who are outwardly obedient but inwardly defiant.

When you see your child obediently pick up his toys, does he do it happily? Does he obey your command because he’s knows it’s right? Or does he simply obey because he’ll face a consequence if he doesn’t?

Now, I think it’s important to realize that we can’t expect happy hearts all the time from toddlers and preschoolers. The Ezzos are frequently quoted as saying, “Actions precede beliefs.” For example, we need our kids to share with friends before they understand why they should do so. But if we have sufficiently taught our children the need for happy obedience, then we can expect that the correct attitude will accompany the obedience.

I expect William, age 8, to obey with a happy heart. He doesn’t have to love whatever chore I’ve given him, but he must do it correctly and without complaint. He’s at an age where I know that he knows why I expect him to clean up his toys. I know that I’ve sufficiently taught him. In fact, just yesterday, I reminded him, “We have to take care of our things. If we don’t take care of our things, then we aren’t responsible enough to have them.”

Ultimately, we need to check our kids’ hearts because our primary goal in parenting is shaping their moral compasses. If we allow them to get by with outward obedience but don’t require a good attitude, how will we know that they won’t adopt a similar attitude with teachers, bosses, and other authority figures?

We can teach a child how to sweep and do dishes, but if we neglect to teach them why it’s important to keep a clean house, what will he do when he’s living on his own? He may view chores simply as something his parents required but that he doesn’t see the need for.

This idea extrapolates to much more important moral considerations like lying, stealing, cheating, hard work, kindness, selfishness, etc. We want to not only teach them HOW to be good people, but WHY they should be good people.

So whether they’re two or twelve, we should expect a happy heart. If in the early years, after a timeout, you go through the motions of getting an apology and seeking forgiveness yet your child remains grumpy about it all, leave him there! If in the preteen years, you see a defiant heart, take stock and figure out where you may have forgotten to explain the importance of the action you’re requiring.

If at any point you see a blip in your child’s moral radar, go back to teaching the moral lessons behind everything you expect. Use every opportunity possible to mold their little hearts. And never stop at obedience.

Lucas Got a Medal!

Lucas with flag football medalLucas got a medal today for his great work in flag football today! Last week, I posted about the “every child gets a trophy” generation that our kids are apparently a part of. Both of my boys are playing flag football. At the beginning of the season, William’s coach told us that he has medals for every player on the team but that he’s decided to hold on to them until the last day of the season when he can hand out one to every child on the team. Lucas’s coach, on the other hand, is handing out medals to the best player (or two) from that day’s game.

Well, today, Lucas was one of two kids who got a medal. We are all so proud of him. We know he played hard and earned recognition from his coach. And the best part about receiving a medal this way is that it actually means something. When every kid gets a medal, it doesn’t mean a thing. And the kids know this. Lucas knew that his medal meant something, and he was so proud of himself.

After today’s events, I can now say I firmly believe that not every child should get a medal, at least not all at once. I like the way Lucas’s coach is handling the medals. Last week, I was a little unsure. In theory, I believe that kids should work for the appreciation they receive. But the mama bear in me is a little protective and wants to keep my kids’ feelings from being hurt if they don’t receive a medal. Last week was Lucas’s first game, and another kid got a medal. Lucas played really hard and ran really fast, but he didn’t get one. Did he care? Not in the least.

Did he care about getting it today? Absolutely! When he came home with it, he had a huge smile on his face. And I was able to give a heartfelt “good job!” and a high five. I was excited for him because I knew that it was special. He worked hard, and he earned the appreciation. He also knew it meant something. I asked the boys if they wanted to join me on a trip to the grocery store, and Lucas jumped up. He wanted to show off his medal. Luckily, we ran into a former neighbor who was impressed. He also got a few smiles from strangers in the store.

Honestly, though, if either child’s coach decided to hand out medals all at once at the end of the season, I’m glad it’s William’s coach. William is not the sportiest kid. Truth be told, he’s a little bored by the whole thing. He’d rather be reading a book or playing with Legos. He even told his coach today that he wanted to go home. Granted, it’s the hottest day of the year (81 is hot for us), but even so, sports just don’t interest him. Lucas, on the other hand, wants to be a professional football player when he grows up. He’s a super sporty kid and is really competitive.

So even though handing out medals to every kid at the end of the season could protect William’s self-esteem, I’m not sure he would care. If another kid walked off the field with a medal around his neck, I don’t think his ego would be bruised in any way. I think he knows it’s not his thing. If he really wanted to earn a medal, he would try hard. I think that’s what Lucas set out to do when he started playing today. And he was rewarded for his determination.

 

Taking Initiative

Source: family.go.com

I don’t know about you, but one of my biggest parenting endeavors is getting my children to take initiative. When our kids are motivated to please and when they’ve been taught what we expect, we can encourage them to take initiative. The biggest benefit in getting them to take initiative is that we don’t have to nag! But even more than that, working by internal motivation will serve them well through school and into adulthood.

I’ll admit that we aren’t there yet, at least not in all areas. But I will say that I’m seeing progress in school. On Wednesday, I talked about the reasons we homeschool. One of the reasons we left a private school was that it was too lax and William lost his internal drive to do well. In fact, his teacher noticed this drive and called him “industrious” early in the year. I attribute this industriousness to the rigid structure his Kindergarten teacher brought to the class. But by about mid-year in first grade, that industrious spirit was gone. I was very sad. No matter how little he may have learned that year, losing that internal drive was the most upsetting. However, I’m happy to report that I’ve gotten it back! William does his math and daily writing journal first thing in the morning, every single day, and he’s gotten so good at finding his own motivation to get it done.

Early last week, we took a day and a half off school to go to a water park. (Have I said how much I love homeschooling?!) Before we left, I told William I wanted him to finish his math and journal. As our friend was about to arrive to pick us up, I was running around to finish packing. Quickly, I looked into our school room and saw William writing furiously in his journal. He knew we were about to leave, and without me there even paying attention to him, he was working hard to get his work done. Not only did it fill me with pride, but it completely validated my reasons to homeschool.

But unfortunately, this internal motivation hasn’t carried over into every area. Until recently, I have had my boys do chores only when I needed their help. I didn’t have a very consistent approach. Well, we’ve started doing chores every weekend, and when they’re done, they get an allowance. Even with the money sitting on the table to entice them, my boys needed a little nagging to get their chores done. They’re still learning, though, so I completely understand why William was so frustrated that he couldn’t sweep. The only thing I can do to improve the situation is to keep prompting and encouraging and do the same thing consistently, week after week.

Take a look at this excerpt from Growing Kids God’s Way. It’s not only educational, but motivating:

“The highest and most desirable level of initiative is self-generated initiative. At this level, a child responds to needs without prompting or instruction. When Nathan saw the laundry basket filled with clean clothes, he began to separate his personal items, fold them, and put them away so Mom and Dad did not have to do it later. For a younger child, it may be as simple as putting away a toy left out after playtime. When a child responds without being asked, parents should give plenty of verbal and physical affirmation. In addition to affirming the child, parents may choose to reinforce the behavior with a reward. It doesn’t need to be expensive. What the child finds value in is the appreciation that the reward represents,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 128).

So as you give this idea more thought, think about the various chores you can assign to your child. Keep them age-appropriate, and make sure you are patient as he learns to do them. And always, throughout the day, be on the lookout for any time the child takes initiative. “Catch him in the act” and give huge praise!