Ask Auntie Artichoke

Expert on Parenting and Family Relationships

Ask Auntie Artichoke - Expert on Parenting and Family Relationships

Stress Triggers for Kids-How To Help Them Cope (EXPERT)

How do you know what is stress and what is a temper tantrum? How do caring adults help them to cope with school, friends and disappointments?

How do you know when your child is too stressed? Gain tips to help them deal with healthy stress. Artichokepress.com

How do you know when your child is too stressed? Gain tips to help them deal with healthy stress. Artichokepress.com

How do you figure out if the stomachache is from too many tacos last night or the math test scheduled today?  Why would your six year old be stressed when you are the one who lost the job?  Why would your eight year old suddenly hate Little League and begin wheezing as it nears time to go?

 

At times all parents are confused by what are normal growing pains and what is a genuine fear or stress in their child’s life.  The three standards to judge the situation are:

 

  1. Duration.  If the child just started complaining about being sick before the bus comes, it may be something happening that can be easily explained.  If it is not a bad day, but an on going behavior some calm conversation and reassurance is in order.
  2. Is it age and developmentally appropriate?  Transitions are hard for anyone, but a two year old who clings is different than a nine year old who refuses to get out of the car.
  3. Degree of intensity. If the behavior is disrupting family life or is becoming a major stumbling block to growth or happiness, intervention may be indicated.

 

Typical stressors

 

Babies: Over stimulation, too many care givers, any major change.  They pick up on your stress.

Toddlers: Separation anxiety, transitions, being abandoned, Television shows and videos

Kindergarten/First Grade: Not being picked up after school, wetting their pants, not being chosen for games, being teased by bullies or not understanding what a teacher wants them to do.

Second/Third Grade: Report cards teased or called names by older students, not being invited to parties and sleepovers, not fitting in, teacher’s discipline and parent’s disapproval.

Fourth Grade: Being thought of as “dumb”, losing a best friend, being chosen last, not getting school work done and any major change in family structure.

Fifth/Sixth Grade: Body changes, afraid they are abnormal, strange, and unlovable. Bad grades.

Jr. High School: Identity, peer pressure, standing out from the crowd, having others see their body.

High School: Popularity, appearance, lack of money or clothes, SAT tests, what to do with life.

 

 

Children and adolescents handle stress better when they are attached to at least one adult who will make them feel safe, secure and loved.  Being able to trust an adult to look out for their best interests pulls them through stressful times and helps build a resiliency for all areas of life.

 

Let your child know you are always there for him to talk, console and support.  While you won’t solve the problems, the two of you can brainstorm solutions without judgment or criticism. The best antidote for solving stress related problems is to have fun!  Go play at the park. Take a hike in the mountains.  Laugh, giggle, wiggle, dance, sing and just remember that this too shall pass.

 

Judy H. Wright is a parent educator and author of over 20 books on family relations, wellness, and abundance. Free articles and a newsletter are available at www.ArtichokePress.com   You will also find afull listing of books, podcasts , eBooks and teleclasses.

To schedule Judy for a workshop, please go to http://www.judyhwright.com

Quality Time or Quantity Time

The truth is quality time just needs
to be time spent. Going to zoos, movies or museums
can be wonderful time spent together. But if you
are merely cramming the activities into your life
in a frenzied rush, you and your children won’t
experience a real sense of relaxed camaraderie.
In all actuality, they may prefer some time working
side by side with you on a family project or task.

Picky Eaters– Common Sense Parenting with “Auntie Artichoke” (EXPERT)

Picky eaters get that way for a variety of reasons. Some are very sensitive to taste, texture and smell. The more your child is involved in planning and preparing the meals, the more he or she will enjoy them. Statistics say families who enjoy regular meals together have better job and school performance, less stress and more happiness. Never make a battle around food. Encourage good conversation and connections at the dinner table.

Time Out for Adults

“Get down from the table top right now! What are you doing? Floors are for standing on, tables are for eating. You need a time out, young lady. You go to your room and think about how you have been acting today.”

So little Mary, 4, goes to her room with a sulky look on her face, but is quickly lost in a game with her dolls and toys. When her mother comes to tell her that she can come out, she is so engrossed in playing that she barely looks up, completely forgetting why she was sent to time out in the first place.

So, does time out work for children?

Yes, but only when it is age appropriate (one minute for each year of age) and then followed by a discussion at eye level of why the action was unacceptable. There has to be some conversation or connection to the actual event or misbehavior for it to be used as a teaching tool. It has been my experience that the consequences need to be tied in some tangible way to the mistake in order for the discipline to become long lasting. Perhaps a more effective teaching discipline would be to have Mary scrub the table and chairs.

When the room is in chaos, the kids are fighting, the phone is ringing, the potatoes are burning and the baby is crying all at the same time, the natural reaction is to explode. Even the act of seeing the bike in the driveway, again, is enough to make the blood boil and the steam come out of our ears.

However, I am convinced that parents need to step back at times and reflect on the fact that they are teachers who are training the next generation, instead of giving in to the impulse to scream, smack or threaten.
Step back to see a new perspective.

It is better by far for you to give the child some warning and say ” I am so angry right now that I am afraid I will say or do something that would make both of us sorry, so I am going to go in the bedroom and calm down for a few minutes. Meet me in the living room in 15 minutes and we will discuss it. But, in the meantime, I strongly suggest you not bother me and that you spend the time thinking about solutions to the problem.”

When you feel tense, try saying calming things to yourself aloud: “Things will work out, it is not worth a stroke” “I want to have the misbehavior stop, but not damage my child’s spirit” “That was a rotten thing for her to have done, but she is not a rotten child” “She is a good child who made a bad choice” “Is this worth ruining the evening over?” “This too (or two, in the case of toddlers) shall pass.”

Relax somewhat by taking a deep breath to the count of four, hold for the count of four and release to the count of four, while you are thinking or saying aloud “Be calm”. Now, do it again at least three times. You can feel your muscles unwind and your head clear somewhat. You will feel more in command of your voice and your actions.

Focus on solutions, not excuses

In 15 minutes (often you don’t get the luxury of one minute for each year of age, but wouldn’t it be nice?) you will have calmed down some and the child will be ready to offer solutions. Do not allow him to offer excuses, only solutions. Allowing him to own the problem and the consequences makes it a much more effective learning experience for both of you. Taking time out before a discussion gives both the parent and the child time to regain some perspective and come up with a much more meaningful solution than one handed out in a moment of anger.

An example from one mother

Sandy, Mother of 3 shared with a parenting class some excellent advice on dealing with children;

“Many times when the kids seemed to have ‘an attitude’ that I knew could rapidly lead to a confrontation, I made them go in the kitchen and have a peanut butter sandwich or some cheese and crackers and then meet me in 20 minutes to discuss things. Frequently, they were simply hungry or thirsty and needed to get some protein and carbohydrates in their body to regulate the blood sugar. It is amazing how many arguments were forestalled by a full belly. Finding out that active 11-13 year old boys needed 3,000 calories a day to operate and grow, explained why they were cranky a lot!”

Take an adult time out to regroup

You have my permission to take a time out whenever you need it. Children need firm and kind discipline and we can’t offer that when we are angry or out of control ourselves. A few minutes of reflection, prayer or deep breathing can give us a new prospective on life and the crayon drawings on the living room wall.

You do the most important work in the world and twenty years from now, it will be a funny family story about Mary on the dining room table. In reflection you will both realize that tables can be washed or even replaced, but close relationships and respectful guidance are priceless.

Judy H. Wright© 2005 www.ArtichokePress.com

Judy H. Wright is a parent educator and PBS consultant whose passion is working with Head Start staff and parents as well as child care providers. She wants to encourage a climate of mutual respect and nurturing to all. She salutes those who work with children, either in their home or as a profession. For more a complete listing of articles, books, cd’s, workshops and speaking engagements, see www.ArtichokePress.com. Be sure and sign up for the free ezine, “The Artichoke, finding the heart of the story in the journey of life.”

Use Encouragement Instead of Criticism to Help Children Improve

Criticism is punitive

Our children judge themselves on the opinions we have of them. When we use harsh words, demeaning adjectives or a sarcastic tone of voice, we literally strip a child’s core of self-confidence and make them less likely to try to please us.

Studies have shown that verbal abuse is more likely than physical abuse to damage children’s self esteem.

Not only does it damage their soul, it is counter productive to cooperation and lasting change.

Encouragement is uplifting

Encouragement is the process of focusing on your children’s assets and strengths in order to build their self-confidence and feelings of worth.

Parents need to convey though words and gestures that we appreciate their efforts and improvement, not just their accomplishments. We need to make sure they understand that our love and acceptance is not dependent on their behavior or winning the prize in soccer.

Positive correction that changes behavior

A very effective way of communicating is create a verbal Encouragement Sandwich:

1 Start off with a slice of the bread of life. For example, “I really admire the way you are learning to take better care of your things.”

2. Next, add a little mayo spread lightly, “I felt happy when I saw you hang up your new jacket last night.”

3. Then, the slice of sharp cheese, “However, I noticed you left your bike outside in the rain again.”

4. On top of the cheese, a little spicy mustard to catch their attention, “Please put it away every night or we will have to lock it up for a week each time it is left out.”.

5. Finally, another slice of bread, “All in all, you are a responsible kid and I have confidence you will choose to take better care of your bike.”

Do they get the message of the mistake of leaving the bike out? Yes, but it is not by attacking them personally and this method of correction gives them an incentive to do better.

Nurturing better behavior

Some parents and care givers, particularly those who did not receive much love or encouragement in their childhoods, often fail to see the importance of nurturing the inner core of a child. The sad part of this is that encouragement and kind feedback will bring about positive change, whereas criticism brings about rebellion, anger and loss of self worth.

Encouragement Works

Zig Ziglar, an internationally known motivational speaker, has said “When we have positive input, we have positive output, and when we have negative input, we have negative output.”

As a parent educator, mother and grandmother, may I suggest that you need to be very careful of the words you choose to motivate your children?

It helps if you break up the word to read “en” courage, which means giving a gift of courage: the courage to keep trying, to keep up the good work, to focus on next time and not give up. This courage helps the child realize that they can make mistakes and they will still be loved and valued. Where as “dis” courage or criticism takes away the courage to try new things or work harder for fear of getting in trouble and displeasing the adults.

What choices could you make next time?

Help the child and yourself recognize that mistakes are never final and frequently we get a “do-over” or a second chance. The past is done; we can learn from it and then focus on the future

For a listing of encouraging words and phrases, please check out the website http://www.ArtichokePress.com.

Thank you for doing a great job

Those of you working with children on a daily basis do the most important work in the world. I applaud your efforts and “en” courage you to choose your words carefully when you want the children you care for to improve their behavior. Words have the power to build up or destroy. As caring adults the goal is to strengthen the character of the child as well as get the jackets, bikes, toys, etc. picked up on a consistent basis.

© 2005 Judy H. Wright, Parent Educator

www.ArtichokePress.com

This article was written by Judy Wright, parent educator and author. Feel free to use it in your newsletter or publication, but please give full credit to the author and mention the contact information of JudyWright@ArtichokePress.com,             406-549-9813      .

You will find a full listing of books, tapes, newsletters and workshops available on finding the heart of the story in the journey of life by going to www.ArtichokePress.com

Water! Water! Everywhere!

What one word best sums up summer fun? Water. I bet your favorite memories as a child involved getting wet, running through sprinklers on a sweltering afternoon, water fights in the backyard, wading at the beach, playing on the slip & slide, and skipping rocks across the river. Your kids will relish the same experiences if they share them with you.

The real secret to having fun with kids is to be easy going enough to enjoy their company. Be sure to appreciate the little things like their suggestions for other games, their planning other times for play and the compliments that are sure to follow!

The memories will be of a parent who made the time to play with them, talk with them and laugh with them. More than anything else children want time with loving, relaxed parents, something they cannot get from a television program, video game, or anyone else in their lives.

Water cools kids down but also encourages spontaneous enjoyment. Because water does make kids a little wild, parents have to be aware of safety issues as well as fun.

Here are some ideas for a fun time in the water.

o Sprinkler: this is a win- win situation! The kids get cool and the lawn gets watered.

o Hose: adjust the nozzle so it shoots a thin stream of water. Have kids jump over it or limbo under it!

o Water balloons: any game played with a ball will be more fun when you substitute a water balloon but be sure and pick up the bits of balloon afterwards. They can be a danger to toddlers, wildlife or your family pet.

Water Piñata

Fill a large garbage bag with water, tie with a rope and hoist it over a branch of a tree. Blindfold the child, give him a stick & watch out!

Water Music

You can make music without expensive instruments. All you need are some glasses (eight for a complete musical scale), some water and a spoon.

Fill the glasses with water – a lot in the first glass, not quite so much in the next, a little less in the next, and so on, until in the last glass there is just a little bit of water. Now tap each glass gently with the spoon. Each one makes a different sound. Add or subtract water until each glass becomes a musical note. With a little practice and “tuning up, you can play a song. Try Happy Birthday or Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Maybe you can make up some songs of your own!

Water Fights

Nothing is more fun on a hot summer’s day than a water fight with buckets. Choose up sides and find a “time out” space for the old grouches (they will want to join when they see how much fun you are having). Invite the neighborhood and then have a watermelon bust afterward.

Floating Down the River

We are blessed to live in an area with beautiful rivers and streams. The absolute joy of watching nature from an inflatable raft or inner tube while floating is an opportunity to teach your children to appreciate all the earth has to offer us. Be sure everyone is wearing life jackets and then enjoy the day and each other. It is almost impossible to worry when you are splashing in the water.

Being a playful Parent means you have to incorporate fun and laughter into your day. Are you are the type who thinks a parent’s job is to worry, fret and work, work, work? Trust me, your children would much rather have a happy, smiling, fun loving parent who will interact with them joyfully than any toys from the store.

Enjoy the Trip

Everyone tells you to enjoy your children, because they grow up so fast. It is true! But the joy of playing is that you have an opportunity to be a child again with them. So grab your bucket and I’ll turn on the hose and we will meet in the back yard for a little fun in the water. It doesn’t matter if the clothes get wet and the floor gets muddy, because we are busy making memories.

©2005 Judy H. Wright, Parent Educator

www.ArtichokePress.com

This article was written by Judy Wright, parent educator and author. Feel free to use it in your newsletter or publication, but please give full credit to the author and mention the contact information of JudyWright@ArtichokePress.com,             406-549-9813      .

You will find a full listing of books, tapes, newsletters and workshops available on finding the heart of the story in the journey of life by going to www.ArtichokePress.com

What Are Reasonable Expectations Of A Child

To have reasonable expectations of our children is an important aspect of wise parenting. Reasonable expectations leave room for a child to be a child but understand they are on the road to learning to be a mature adult. Often I see parents who try to hold their children to a much higher standard than the child is able to accomplish or just the opposite, ask almost nothing from the child. Many parents who were forced to work hard as a child, either because of financial reasons or over-strict parents have vowed that their children will be allowed to just be “kids” and enjoy life. May I tell you that there is a happy medium?

EVERY ONE IN FAMILY SHOULD HELP

All members of the family should be expected to contribute to the upkeep of the home and to making life run as smoothly as possible. That said, you cannot expect a 4 year old child to make dinner or an infant to quit crying just because you told him too. You can avoid discouragement by setting realistic and clear goals and expectations.

Don’t expect the beds to have military corners, the dishes to be spotless or puzzle pieces never to be lost. We are all human beings and make mistakes. This is a learning ground and as such we all need to be free to learn and change on a daily basis.

LEARN ABOUT CHILD DEVELOPMENT

I have always wondered why child development was not considered a core competency for high school students. If it were done, I think that the next generation of parents would have some ideas of what each age and stage of childhood is about.

Please check out a book at the library or pick one up at a yard sale on the natural stages of child development. It will give you an insight into what most children at each age are able to accomplish physically, emotionally, intellectually and socially. That doesn’t mean that your child won’t be a little behind or a little ahead of the statistics. However, you will be more aware of what he or she is capable of and not be so frustrated.

BE CAREFUL HOW EXPECTATIONS ARE PHRASED

We think in pictures and your child must be able to visualize what you are asking for. When you say to your daughter, “Please be good today when we are visiting Grandma who is very sick.” This leaves the words open to the child’s interpretation. After all what does “good” mean? Didn’t she just have a “good” time playing in the sink or outside with the dog. It is very confusing. If, instead you say “While we are at Grandmas I expect you to play with your toys quietly and ask permission before you touch anything that doesn’t belong to you. Do you have any questions?” you will be painting a much clearer picture in her mind.

ALL CHILDREN ARE UNIQUE

Most parents expect their children to grow steadily in a diagonal line that constantly goes in an onward and upward motion. They want improvement on a steady basis with no backsliding or “I forgot!” The problem is that children don’t grow that way, either physically or in skill building. They grow and develop in spurts and surges. I have heard child rearing described as the ocean tide, where the family moves forward, retreats, move forward again, retreats again, etc. You would tend to get discouraged if you didn’t realize that every time the tide comes in, it comes in a little ahead of where it was before.

Good luck and God Bless. You do the most important work in the world.

© Judy H. Wright, Parent Educator, www.ArtichokePress.com

This article was written by Judy Wright, parent educator and author. Feel free to use it in your newsletter or publication, but please give full credit to the author and mention the contact information of JudyWright@ArtichokePress.com,             406-549-9813      .

You will find a full listing of books, tapes, newsletters and workshops available on finding the heart of the story in the journey of life by going to www.ArtichokePress.com

Consistent Boundaries Make Discipline Easier



Homes should be run by parents, not children. So many times, however, either the children are in charge or the parents are so eager to be liked, that whatever rules and standards are talked about, few are enforced, especially on a consistent basis.

Children, whether they are two or 18, feel more confident when they know
that you, the adults, are in charge and that their environment is predictable and safe. They need to be taught what is right and wrong, what is acceptable and what is unacceptable, what is appropriate, and what is rude and out of place.

Though they will get mixed or conflicting messages from the television,
magazine and friends, they need you to set and enforce clear, respectful rules and limits. They need to know that you expect them to do and be their best.

By providing this guidance you will help them learn how to be responsible,
contributing members of society.

Consistency in discipline is the number one factor in successful families:
It is important that love, respect, cooperation and expectations are unconditional.

Consistent boundaries within the family are pretty predictable; for instance:

* They will grow up knowing that mom and dad must know the 4 Ws
before they are allowed to leave with friends. WHO are the friends,
WHERE are they going, WHAT are they doing, and WHEN will they be
home.

* A child can count on dinner being at six o’clock or there about.

* They need to know that bedtime is 8:30 on school nights and that
homework is done before playtime.

But sometimes in life, opportunities come up that make boundaries and rules
flexible. A relative visits from out of town, so it might be okay for the kids to stay up till 9:30 one night to enjoy the experience. Rules can bend
occasionally, but if they get broken, we are all in trouble.

As long as the family knows that in general, there is a structure that they can count on and limits to what is accepted and what is not, they will flourish in a system that gives them guidelines and direction.

Consistent boundaries and standards give a child and the whole family a feeling of security and safety. It is within this environment that self-discipline and life skills begin to flourish and develop.

When we, as a community as well as a family, give consistent messages to our children concerning dangerous and unkind behavior, it will be easier for them to forgo temptation to participate. It is our responsibility as adults to help them learn and live by the basic rule that actions have consequences.

Those children who develop a habit of thinking about the connection will be in a position of strength. Their choices will be immeasurably easier to make because they have been given a framework for decision-making.

Repair or rebuild the boundary, if necessary

I encourage you to be firm, consistent and kind in your discipline. It is vital to always follow through. Don’t make threats, make promises. If you take away TV privileges the first time he doesn’t take out the garbage, but ignore it the second and third time, he will soon learn that you don’t always mean what you say. The child will learn how to be a manipulator, and you will still have the misbehavior to deal with. You are the adult, and
so it is your job to repair the fence when it is broken or stretched out.

Boundaries don’t fence us in but rather they allow us freedom to grow and develop, knowing that we are safe and loved unconditionally. It is never a guessing game of what will happen but rather a sure foundation.

You can do it. I believe in you. You are doing the most important job in the world, raising self-disciplined, thoughtful and contributing children.