Category Archives: Everyday Parenting

Pacifiers / Shyness / Self-loathing
Pacifying an upset baby

Your Questions / My Answers

Should I use the pacifier for calming?

Q. My son is 2.5 years. My question relates to dummy use. He has always soothed through sucking! I breastfed until he was two. Then I fell pregnant just before his 2nd birthday so a drop in supply. I offered a dummy for nighttime comfort only. Lately he’s asking for it throughout the day. My calm, easy going little boy is experiencing lots of tantrums in response to minor incidents, like when we play and my assigned character does something he doesn’t like. After yelling what he thinks should happen, he often hits or kicks me and screams, ‘Where’s my dummy!? Get my dummy! Get it! Get it!!!!’. I’ll stop what I’m doing and find his dummy. He is instantly soothed. Tantrums are exhausting as I am nearing the end of pregnancy. I read your post saying that with a soothing calm presence, children will calm down, at which point we can say, ‘look what you were able to do, etc’ thus showing that they can get through and deal with difficult feelings. Is my son’s reliance on a dummy preventing him from learning he can calm himself? Could my pregnancy be related to his tantrums / need to soothe.

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The Power of Waiting
Waiting to cool
No matter the child, no matter the situation, waiting for emotions to cool and for the situation to pass, can make all the difference in your ability to connect.

The following is a story from the mom of an Aspergers child:

As we drove to school one Monday morning, out of the blue my ten year old son said, “Mum, I want to say sorry for what happened on Thursday.”

My son is an ‘Aspiekid’ – he has traits of Aspergers, meaning he was born with a different kind of ‘wiring’ in the brain than most of us. One result of this is that he sometimes gets very distressed about things that others would consider insignificant or even ‘stupid’ to get upset about. He finds it harder than most people to move past these upsets, and when this happens I call it “getting stuck”.

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How to be a More Confident Parent
confident parents, remarkable kids
Do you want to feel more confident in your parenting decisions and actions? Do you want a mutually respectful and loving relationship with your kids? Do you want a little more cooperation in your family?

Here is the book you’ll wish your parents had — because then you would have more of that confidence you long for.

When a child believes he is bad, he behaves badly; and parents react badly. This reconfirms for the child that he is bad. The age-old cycle of reward and punishment keeps spinning in order to maintain control. But punishment (consequences) is only an illusion of control. Most parents know it doesn’t work, because they end up feeling more out of control, their children “don’t listen” and resistance grows. But they don’t know what else to do.

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Involve Your Child in Choosing Activities
Choosing activities
With summer vacation here, how do you choose the right programs or activities for your kids?

Sometimes it’s clear, sometimes it’s not. Lots of agendas are involved when schedules and locations are important in choosing activities year-round.

When choosing activities, consider:

  • This is for your child, not you. Of course it must work for you, but try not to project what you loved as a kid, or what you wish you had gotten to do.
  • Do not sign your child up for something you think she will like and then inform her what she will be doing.
  • Make suggestions but not directions. “What about…? If I were you, I would love that – but that’s me.”
  • Go over general categories—day or sleep away camp, sports programs, theater programs, horse camps, art or music programs, etc. Then include your child (if old enough) in some of the research. The more your child is involved, the more engaged he will be and the less you will be blamed if it doesn’t work out.
  • Job-aged kids need your help and support during the job search, but not your leg-work. Acknowledge the difficulty, share your experiences, be open to hear the griping, offer suggestions, but do not do the work.

Commitment

Many children change their minds, and fears arise about quitting and teaching commitment. This is not limited to summer activities. What do you do when money has been spent? Or children who begged for a program dig in their heals and refuse to go after a couple of sessions? Others start off resisting but with gentle prodding find that once involved they love it.

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Discipline? Absolutely, as long as it’s positive
Relationship of balance and discipline
What does the word discipline conjure up for you? Takes you right back to childhood, right? Did you like being disciplined? I bet not.

When I talk about the benefits of shared power, connection, and problem solving, parents inevitably ask, “Are you saying that we shouldn’t discipline our children?” or “Isn’t that undermining my authority?” Great questions.

The dictionary defines discipline as “using punishment to correct disobedience”. However self-discipline is defined as “train[ing] oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way”. When you discipline yourself, do you inflict punishment on yourself? A sacrifice may be necessary but only if you want a new habit more than you want the old one.

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Gaming: Hobby or Addiction?
Gaming: Hobby or Addiction?

Do you worry that your child who loves gaming more than anything else has an addiction?

If so, chances are you panic and fear a future for your child that is not pretty. In that emotional state you react in anger and wield threatening consequences when your child resists and get into ugly power struggles that create a wider and wider gulf between you. You feel hopeless and your child grabs for every screen second he can. “Consequences” do nothing.

There is a big difference between a hobby gamer and an addicted gamer — and you need to know the difference.

Gaming is a thrill for many kids. It’s an arena where success and feeling in charge are more easily achieved for children who don’t find it in school or social relationships. It’s easy to connect with others through a game, and mastery is euphoric. It’s the mastery part that can be addictive, especially for the child who finds it nowhere else.

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How to Get to Calm: Lessons from the Oregon Trail
Getting to Calm

What would it take for you to stay calm when it comes to managing your kids’ behavior? Sometimes it feels like a herculean task.

Remember the Oregon trail? One wagon after another followed the tracks made by earlier wagons. The ruts got deeper and deeper as more wagons rode west. In places, a person could stand in ruts up to their waist. It would have been impossible for a wagoneer to veer off in another direction.

When we react to our children the same way over and over, we dig ourselves into emotional and behavioral ruts. Ruts run especially deep when they stem from beliefs we hold about ourselves learned in childhood. If you believe you’re never good enough, a disappointment, or unlovable, etc. from remarks made by parents or teachers, those beliefs stick and can drive your behavior.

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Helping Teens Cope with Stress
stressed teenager

So many parents are concerned about how stressed out their teens are. Helping them cope with stress can be tricky when it seems like they don’t want our help or interference. I asked Jennifer Salerno to write a blog for you based on her book, Teen Speak, an essential guide in communicating with your teen. Teenagers seem like they don’t want us around, but when we connect in ways they can hear, we provide the support they both need and want.

Dr. Jennifer Salerno, founder and CEO of Possibilities for Change and author of Teen Speak writes:

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When Your Child Feels Worry or Despair
Worry, Despair

Don’t go underground when you see worry or despair in your child.

What do I say to my kids when they seem consumed with worry or despair for their futures and when tragedy cuts down innocent lives? When leaders demonstrate behaviors that I work hard to steer my children away from and demonstrate intolerance where I want to teach them tolerance? And in their day-to-day lives when they complain of teachers and kids treating them unfairly or feeling pressured to do what doesn’t interest them? I feel helpless when I can’t answer their questions.

More and more I hear parents describe their children as anxious and angry, who see no reason to strive in school, who seem engulfed in worry and despair. The worry may not be voiced but shows up when they drop out of activities, lose friends and spend more time alone in their rooms gaming and on social media. Is this what’s happening to kids now because we are not tough enough on them or is this a reflection of the world we live in?

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New Year’s Resolutions: 10 Exhausting Things to Give Up
Fun parenting

If you’re making New Year’s resolutions this year, remember less is more. The key to becoming a better and happier parent in the new year is NOT to add on any expectations of yourself that you can’t be successful meeting. You’ll just feel worse. That does no one any good.

Some parents need to spend more time with their kids and actually do more at home so their kids can have a childhood instead of being expected to run the household. My guess is that most parents reading this blog would do better to subtract from what they are presently doing, let go of some of their assumed obligations, know what they are responsible for and drop the rest, and let their children fight or play more on their own with less parental supervision.

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