Thursday, March 25, 2010

What did YOU just say?

When it comes to a clear and concise definition of back talking and sassy attitude, each one of us has a different answer: it’s kind of like describing to someone else how spicy is this? The answer will depend on many different variables. I think most of us would agree though, on some basic, generic behavior that we have seen in either our own kids or maybe on our friends’ kids: rolling of the eyes, twisting of the mouth, hands on the hips, dirty looks combined with the “duh mom” look.

Have you noticed that this kind of behavior seems more and more prevalent and showing up at earlier and earlier ages? “It’s clearly happening with younger kids,” says Michele Borba, author of Don’t Give Me That Attitude! “I’m constantly in the schools as an educational consultant, and teachers, who have the upper hand on seeing the new trends with kids, can tell you that it’s escalating. We’re not talking about just being impolite, but swearing and flippant behavior. It’s like pollution; it didn’t happen overnight.”

I won’t spend too much time arguing about where this behavior comes from: media, friends, and even family members! Disrespectful behavior is a “trend” on most popular sitcoms where back-talk is viewed as humorous while disrespect for authority is comical. I also know I have been guilty of a sarcastic remark that I heard “replayed” out of my child’s mouth later on.

I know that you may be surprised at your child’s behavior and may even be tempted to think that she didn’t get that from you. We are indeed our children’s first teachers and we definitely have a part on this wave of disrespectful behavior. It’s crucial that we behave in the way we expect kids to behave! No more, do as I say not as I do!

Since we have no real control over what other people say or do, it’s important to consider this task one better addressed at home. It’s imperative that we model respectful behavior to our kids and remember that they are always watching how we deal with the lady at the grocery store, the clue-less driver on the freeway or the annoying telemarketer on the phone. Are we using sarcasm as a means of communication or humor?

What goes around comes around. What are getting back? Your words, attitudes and actions are like boomerangs: they will come back out of your kids’ mouths!

If you want more support, ideas and tools to deal with back talk, join me on Monday April 5th and 12th  from  6:00 to 7:15 PST (9:00 to 10:15 EST) 
for an open and frank 2-part teleseminar!

More details by clicking here

Monday, March 22, 2010

Voting with your dollars, your words and your attention!

I had a really nice conversation tonight with a very good friend of mine, someone who I admire and respect and who always bring a smile to my heart. I always like to “pick her brain” and hope to learn from her wisdom and experience, even if only by osmosis!

I shared with her that sometimes I felt a little helpless when I thought about all the things I wanted to do with my life, with my time and with my skills: all the ways I wanted to change the world. I feel so passionate about the work that I do with the families I serve that I get frustrated that the day only has 24 hours when I need more like 36 to give my work and my family life all the time they deserve.

Without getting into too much rhetoric about the many ways one can get involved in making the world a better place, my friend shared some of her thoughts on it: she told me that I may be surprise that simply well-placed “votes” can effectively improve the quality of my life and of life on Earth.

Instead of thinking of dollars, words, actions and minutes as such, we can choose to think of them as our very own, personal votes. It hit me that every time we use our money or give our attention to something, we are in effect “voting” for those thoughts, ideas, businesses, products, services or activities, imparting life into them and allowing them to grow. The reverse is also true: when we withhold our money and time from those same things, like a plant without water and food, they eventually wither and fade away for lack of nourishment. We must then “cultivate” and nourish with our very powerful votes those things we want to see grow: our children, our communities, our personal lives.

If we decide as parents, to stop focusing and talking incessantly about how much our child is irritating us and instead, choose to speak about whatever is inspiring, funny, loving about our kids, we start seeing them in a different light: they are not a problem to solve but a life to guide and grow. We are voting for loving relationships with our kids!

What are you voting for today?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A parenting road map

Our children grow up way too fast. I remember when our daughter was first born: everyone would tell us “enjoy her, it goes by fast”. At the time it seemed like an obvious platitude. There were many endless nights when no one was getting any sleep and I wondered if my life would ever be the same again.

Now, as she’s nearing 9 years old, I realize more and more the importance of living in the present and avoiding the future painful “what ifs” and “if onlys”. I am learning that it’s easier to parent from a place of responding rather than reacting to your child, attempting to ensure and experience colored with courage, grace, humor and flexibility.

If you have lost touch with your dreams for your family, entangled in guilt and feelings of inadequacy, it’s not too late to recall the reason why you feel in love with that little person that is your child and claim that dream back.

If you need help getting a hold of that family dream again, ask yourself some very simple questions:

1.    When was the last time your kids made you laugh?
2.    What do you love to do with your kids now?
3.    What do other people tell you is nice about your kids?

I believe that entertaining the answers to these questions can help you find your way back to the joy of parenting, as it was meant to be.  I invite you to honor where you are in you parenting journey; be gentle with yourself.

Remember you are really OK just the way you are even as you learn to become the parent you were meant to be!

What dreams do YOU have for your family? I'd love to hear anything you want to share!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The lord (or lady) of the Wii game!

There’s a lot that makes parenting a challenging endeavor: I believe that’s not so much whether a piece of advice is good or bad, but how to sort it all out that becomes a struggle sometimes.
When we establish rules in our home, things like limits on screen time or what constitutes healthy snacks for example, we can find ourselves setting up precedents we don’t really want for our kids. In our home, screen time (i.e. TV, computer games or Wii) are privileges that our daughter earns as a reward for appropriate behavior and effort. We have decided that for our family, sitting in front of a screen for long periods of time (truly, long periods of time depends on who you ask and most importantly, how old your kid is!) is not the ideal way we want to spend our time. A few days ago, I was a little out of sorts. I was a little tired, cranky before it became time to go get our daughter from school.
When we got home, I managed to guide her through doing her homework and her chores. She was “stalling” when it came to the chores and I was running out of patience. She finally finished and had her hour of playing Wii, a reward that she gets when her stuff is done. The hour was up and she asked me very sweetly (as only an cute 8-year-old can do!)if she could have one more hour of Wii play time. And you know what? I said yes!

Now you may be asking, what’s wrong with that? The kid did her homework and chores; why not let her play another hour on the Wii? Well, there’s truly nothing intrinsically wrong with my decision. I was too tired to think through an alternative to the extra hour in front of the game. My decision, however, didn’t support my family’s value of limited screen time and it didn’t teach her how to find something else to entertain herself with. I said yes because I wanted to relax and not have to do anything at that time. It was arbitrary. The next day, my daughter asked me again for an extra hour of screen time. Since there was no rhyme or reason other than my own need to have some downtime, it was more difficult to explain even to myself, why that day it wasn’t OK to have an extra hour. There’s a difference between being flexible and being arbitrary. You see, in her mind, the circumstances were the same, the criteria seemed the same.  The truth is, I wasn’t offering the extra hour playing Wii as a reward but as temporary distraction. And when you have a intense, smart, strong willed child like mine, that’s simply an opportunity to “bend” the rules any good-old time!

I know.. you are probably thinking, then what was I supposed to do? I guess what this requires of me is looking at my parenting decisions in the big picture and that’s not always convenient. I’ve decided that our daughter and I will sit down and create quiet time activities that she can do for 30 minutes on her own while I take a break if I am tired or not feeling good. This alternative is more in alignment with what our values as a family are: everyone needs to decide those for their own family.

So I guess it is off to the $$dollar store to find some inexpensive craft items that she finds interesting. Preparation pays off!

When was the last time you found yourself giving in as a “quick fix” and realized later it didn’t really worked for the long term?