1) Do acknowledge them
Talk to them when they come in. Show some interest. Get to know them.
2) Do show respect
Kids want to be treated like an adult, this is one area in which that works.
3) Do provide food
Food always works. Feed them. Even let them have access to the kitchen.
4) Do be some fun
Do something unexpected from the normal routine. Be a little playful.
5) Do avoid confrontations
This isn't the time to correct your kid. Do that later, where you can discuss.
6) Do remember them
Names, siblings, & unique things about them. Also, how your kid knows them.
7) Do make it peaceful
An environment that's void of contention makes a place people want to be.
8) Do leave a little space
Give them some room. Not the bedroom. But, some talking space to be private.
9) Do like them
Everyone has annoyances. Overlook them. See what your kid sees. Be open.
10) Do keep long hours
It doesn't have to be 'open all night' but kids like late nights. Especially weekends.
Bonus: Do treat them like family
Everyone wants to belong. Somewhere. Make it you and yours that they think of as 'family' when they need to connect. How you interaction with your kid's friends, and your kid, will benefit everyone.
What do you do?
If you've got going back to school on your mind, here is an article at OnlineSchools.com that might give you some inspiration. It also happens to quote me and tell a little about my experience going back to school. (I'll share a few more tips another day, after I know which ones aren't going to be used for another article.) Going back to school was really hard but very worth it. An investment in me and our family.
PS Other articles I've contributed to.
Last year I read an article and did a post about my New Year resolutions going in a new way. Here is part of what I said in 2011, "...after reading this article I realized that Christine's idea of picking a word as a guide for the year, something to "become", was a better fit for me now." This year I am looking back on that to see how it went.
My guide word last year was "FOCUSED" and I found that is was simple and it became a sort of mantra for me. With whatever I did I went back to "focused" for guidance because that's what I was looking for in my life. It was helpful and the first 8 months went really well. The last few got a little, unfocused. I think the thing I would do differently to avoid that is to put the word up for me to see, somewhere, and so I could remember near the end of the year. Maybe by the 8th month "focused" was just more ingrained and less conscious. Whichever way, I liked it and I'm going to try it again this year. So I have a new word for 2012...
It's "finish". On New Year's Day I went through many words thinking about what I wanted to have guide me and I am really in a need of finishing things. When I think of this guide word it makes me think about what I am going to take on, because I have to finish it. It makes me think that if it will help me be more thoughtful and balanced. It makes me think of what is on the table now, and finish it.
Kind of ironic because this post sat here for several days before I actually finished it, to post it. So, my guide word "finish" is very fitting.
I can't believe it's December. DECEMBER. This so snuck up on me this year.
As you know, it's the gift giving season! So I'm thinking about gifts, what fun they are and that I need to get busy getting mine together. One of my favorite types of gifts to get/give are kits. (ok, besides the expensive jewelry, clothes, and art categories.) Kits are so delightful. They're a surprise within a surprise. I love the feeling of being surprised again and again as I look through what was put into the kit.
Friendship Bracelet Kit • A To Do Kit • (click image for link)
Kits can be designed around any conceivable topic or theme. Like a Snowman Kit. Who knew I wanted a Snowman Kit. It's about as creative as you want to be.
Snowman Kit • How totally clever! (click image for link)
And kits don't have to be expensive. Which is such a bonus. Some of the items might not be so great on their own (like embroidery thread) but when combined with other inexpensive items and packaged up in a fun way it says I care. Which is what gift giving is all about.
They can also be done straight from home. Like from your own kitchen. How convenient!
Goodies Kit • Baked Goods in Cello Bags • click image for link
I've already created one kit for one of my kids on a regular shopping trip. You can create a kit too. You don't even have to think up your own kit contents, there are so many great ones out there already. I have a whole pin board of them, so you can go here and just pick an idea out. Remember it's December, the gift giving season.
I haven't mentioned it but in August I started teaching 5 classes a week of kindergarten art. Since I haven't taught in the school systems as a teacher I need to get an alternative teaching certificate. Which means more college classes. One of my classes' assignments required a lesson plan with a book and my content area (art). Art & Books are a great combination. I really enjoyed doing this lesson plan and thought I'd share it here. It has Missouri's educational standards but it still might be useful for a class or home activity. Share any feedback you have so that I can improve on it.
I have 8 children and have been in a waiting room (or stuck at some other unforeseen place) a time or two with a toddler. In fact, often with several toddlers at a time. I found that these situations were not just the regular-boring-kind but the outburst-boring-kinds for kids.
One of the things that worked for me was the Mini Kid Kit. It was just a small bag in my purse that had travel size things, (tiny flashlight, metal play keys, mirror, bracelet, heavy necklace, hair clip, etc), items they never got to play with under normal conditions. Basically, anything that they were curious in and weren't allowed to play with; or small toys that they usually couldn't touch because they were "mine", kept their interest when they were outburst-bored in a public place. It helped to keep them quiet on many occasions.
This helped me not become the outburst mommy of the outburst toddler. If I felt like there was something in my power to do I became less frustrated and more in control of the situation. Toddlers, especially on the verge of tantrums, definitely need a mom in control of herself and the situation. The Mini Kid Kit was a tool for me to do that.
But there are 3 keys to the Mini Kid Kit
1) You don't give the child the whole bag, bring out items one at a time
2) They don't see the bag in its entirety so they don't fuss for the next item before they've explored the first
3) You take away the toy (and give them the next one) before they get bored with it
Rotate and re-rotate them around.
Hopefully, this little tip will help you. Go ahead. Grab a ziplock bag, add a few things in it, and put it in your purse. Done.
I do not know where people, religious people in particular, get this idea in parenting but it exists - If we do this (whatever it is) then we are guaranteed to get that (whatever is attached to this). Okay, I kinda do know where the idea comes from, religiously speaking. But, how did we start applying it to parenting? And in "apply it to parenthood" I mean - If I do 'this' then my kids will (guarantee) to do/get 'that'. By espousing that application we've created a parent trap - satisfaction guaranteed.
Parent Trap: Satisfaction Guaranteed
How do we know if we are in this trap? It's framed in our real lives something like this, "We've taught her/him better than that, this shouldn't be happening." Try this, "We've never done X in our home, how could (s)he get into that." Or this, "We've gone to church every week, I don't know how this could happen." If you've heard or said that, it's the snare of thinking that our efforts at being good or doing good as parents are somehow guarantees that our children will be good and do good. As parents we want an outcome (great kids) so bad that we walk willingly into this trap.The reality is that there are no guarantees in parenting. Let me repeat that -
Parent Reality: There are NO Guarantees in Parenting
Let that settle in a little.
That can be an overwhelming realization. Which is naturally followed by thoughts of "why bother", "what's the point" or "I can't win" in parenting. But that's just looking at the problem from one point of view. Albeit a compelling one. But, to truly know where you stand on something you've actually got to move around it a bit. Let's look at it from this angle - Knowing there are no guarantees of good kids gives you permission for freedom. This is kind of cerebral but I'll try my best to explain my thoughts.
Now that we are released from the previous parent trap we can switch it around a little, get in a different mental position. What about this - "since nothing is guaranteed I am free to try whatever I think might bring about what I am hoping for." Or, "If I do this and it's not guaranteed to come out that way then I am free to try something else." If the "input" doesn't guarantee "output" then you are free to add other things, omit things, and be creative in what we bring to the parenting table.
For example: You want spirituality for your youth. You take them to church thinking that the action will "guarantee" spirituality. When you realize there are no guarantees from that act then you can add other ideas (like surrounding your child with spiritual friends, having one on one discussions about your spiritual journey, or give them instructions on how to personally pray) thus increasing the possibility, not the guarantee, of a spiritually strong youth.
It's not being good or doing good as a parent that's the problem. It's the unrealistic expectation that what you do guarantees what they will be. Now, that doesn't mean just give up on things that have been proven to give the greatest benefit to children. We always want to increase ours, and their chances at success. But, to unequivocally expect certain results, regardless, is a parent trap.
Here are 5 tips to help get past the trap and increase the likelihood of satisfaction.
Checklist for Change • 5 Tips
1. Release yourself from the trap. Acknowledge that what you do may not produce what you want. There are no guarantees to parenting outcome. Free yourself from that thinking.
2. Release your child from being the maker for your parent satisfaction. Your child's behavior shouldn't be how you judge your efforts as a parent. Your parental expectations should be independent of their choices.
3. Do things from a different angle. Keep your eyes on what you think is helpful or needful for the child, not the intended outcome. Listen to your parenting instincts.
4. Don't let other's set the trap for you. Don't be held to someone else's expectations of "should", "shouldn't", "would" or "wouldn't". And don't succumb to the pressure of other's comments or criticism, instead, deliberately dictate the direction you want your parenting to take.
5. Be patient with yourself and your child. It takes time to get out of a trap. Sometimes we're wounded in the process of being trapped and it takes time to nurse and heal the wound. Take time to let the process happen.
All we get when we do something, is increase our chances of an outcome a bit. Add to the likelihood that something could happen. I know what I do doesn't guarantee satisfaction. And I'm good with that.
Add another tip to keep out of this trap.
When my older children were young we decided to omit certain words from our family vocabulary. Words like "stupid" and "shut-up" we felt weren't respectful of each other and shouldn't be used toward each other.
On one particular day I was frustrated with something and called it "stupid". Oh man, my children were indignant. They didn't differentiate between things and people and were convinced that my behavior didn't match up with our established expectations. And when they went to church the following Sunday they reported my bad behavior to their teachers - "my mom said the 's' word!"
Luckily for me, I learned to control those words, even toward things, and their trust in me was restored. Though this may be minor on the scale of moral mishaps the idea of hypocrisy can be very destructive. Before we continue I like to define the critical words in the conversation so that we start out on the same terminology page, so to speak.
the practice of professing standards and beliefs contrary to one's real character
a pretense of having a virtuous character contrary to actual behavior
a pretense of moral or religious belief that one does not really possess
a pretense of having some desirable or publicly approved attitude
an act or instance of hypocrisy
To sum up, hypocrisy is practiced pretense. At times kids, teens in particular, have a real problem with their parents because of this practiced pretense or hypocrisy. Parents who don't act as they preach fall into this parent trap. The integrity trip-up, hypocrisy. And teens hate hypocrites! It doesn't have to be "major" deviations from professed piousness, minor detours will accomplish parental captivity. For those of religious belief, we automatically set ourselves up. We are preachers of something and when we fail at what we teach we are by definition hypocrites.