Spring Clean Your Attitudes!

Get rid of those mistaken beliefs and attitudes that interfere with you being a better parent.

1. Get rid of the crazy idea that in order to make your child do better, first make him feel worse.

DO YOU FEEL LIKE DOING BETTER WHEN YOU FEEL HUMILIATED? When you use shame and blame techniques you set up a cycle of resentment and revenge between yourself and your child.

INSTEAD: Encourage, encourage, encourage!

Use encouragement rather than praise.

Acknowledge your child's efforts whether successful or not. Address the deed rather than the child, “Wow, you are really trying to get that shoe on. Look! you've already gotten it half way up your foot!”

When your child shows you art work, ask questions or make broad nonjudgmental comments. “I see a lot of red. What can you tell me about this design?”

2. Shed the notion that it is your job to fix your child's feelings.

When you try to change or fix your child's feelings you teach her to look outside herself for something to fix how she feels, this leads to addictive behavior down the road.

INSTEAD: Allow her to have all her feelings.

Create a soft, cozy nest where she can go to process how she feels.

Model taking care of your feelings. Announce out loud what you are doing to help yourself.

Be available to problem solve when and if your child is ready.

Trust that, over time, she will learn how to take care of herself.

3. Discard the idea that your winning power struggles with your child teaches him to be obedient and respectful.

When you win your child loses. This sets up a cycle of rebellion.

INSTEAD: Own your part. Let go of your end of the rope.

So what if your child wears pjs out in the world, or has mac and cheese for breakfast, or cereal for dinner.

Ask yourself: Does this really matter in the big picture? What did I do to add to this problem? Share your discovery. What is more important? His wearing pjs, or our relationship? Do I want to be happy or right?

When you make a mistake: Take it back! Say it out loud.

4. Release your mistaken belief that children learn social behavior simply by playing with each other.

When you leave them to learn through trial and error you are not setting them up for success!

INSTEAD: Take time for training.

In a Mom's group: Choose an area to work on for each session. Tell the children what the focus is and practice. Take turns supervising the children. Remind once. go home after a second infraction.

During a Play Date: Decide with your child what the focus is for the date. Have your child choose what toys she is willing to share, only these are available. Inform your guests when they arrive. When the children forget: Remind 1 time. On the second incident, the play date is over, guests go home.

At home at neutral times: Role play different scenarios.

In the car: Play “What do you do when.”

Remember: Children must learn possession before they can share: Children will learn to share on their own by 3 1/2 to 4 years. DO NOT ASK OR EXPECT YOUNGER CHIlDREN TO SHARE.

5. Jettison the idea that “TIME OUT” works.

When you punish a child with a time out your child is figuring out how to get away with the behavior the next time or how to get back at you in the future.

INSTEAD: Set up feel better times and spaces.

At a neutral time practice going to different areas and doing something to help yourselves feel better. Go and do this with infants and toddlers. Preschoolers can take care of themselves after lots of practice. Do it yourself every time you need to feel better. Afterwards work together on ways to do things differently.

6. Abandon the idea that focusing on your child's mistakes will keep you on top of things and not let her get away with anything.

What you focus on grows.

INSTEAD: Think of mistakes as opportunities to learn. Ask your child: “What can we learn from this?”

Remember the 80% that IS working. Acknowledge that out loud. Make sure the message of love gets through. If your child breaks something, what is more important, the item or you child? Be sure your child KNOWS that she is more important than any “thing”

7. Rethink the feeling that spending most of your home time with your child, playing and entertaining him is the right way to go.

What this does is makes your child dependent on you, or some other external person or activity to keep him busy and happy.

INSTEAD: Strive for a balance where some of your time is spent playing with your child, and some of your time is spent working on your own activities.

Schedule play and work alone times throughout the day when you and your child play/work on your own activities. Start off side-by-side, move onto being apart in the same room and then branch out into separate areas of the house. Start with 5 minutes and add 5 minutes until your child is able to self-direct for 20 - 30 minutes at a sitting.

Spend special time with your child. Schedule 15 minutes per day for 0 - 4 year olds. 1 hour per week for 4 years and up. Call it special time, make it the same time each day/week. Alternate who chooses the activity.

8. Re-examine your getting involved in your children's sibling rivalry.

When you do you are encouraging your children to fight to get your attention.

INSTEAD: Tell your children you are going to let them resolve their own issues. Be sure to butt out.

OR: If your children are young (infants and toddlers) or have not developed impulse control, or if you can't stay out of it, have each child experiences the same consequence, ie. getting separated and directed to their own feel better areas, this includes infants.

Do something together until you all feel better and then follow through with problem solving.

9. Discard the idea that you are the authority and must be the judge, jury and executioner.

When Mom and Dad are the only ones to come up with solutions and consequences you rob the children of wonderful lessons in communication and problem solving.

INSTEAD: Have family weekly meetings.

Keep them short and fun. Share gratefuls and compliments. Present issues. Limit to one adult issue, one child issue. Find solutions together. Agree to try the solution till the next meeting. Sing a song. Have dessert. Play a game.

10. Release your expectation that your children will be able to keep their rooms and play areas orderly. When all their stuff is out you are asking too much.

INSTEAD: Spring-clean the number of toys and activities.

Setup a separate shelf unit with room for 12 - 15 activities for each child. Store the cool stuff. Rotate their items monthly. Toss all broken or incomplete items. Donate anything they've outgrown. Adopt a one thing at a time rule. Schedule a daily clean up time, during which everyone helps each other.