All posts in Birth 0 – Age 9

Never Underestimate a 2 YO!

This is usually her 6-year-old brother’s job, so I set the silverware basket on the counter for him to do when he got home from school. She pointed at it, said her name, pulled a chair over to the counter, and started putting things away. My iPhone was right there, so I was able to catch her in the act. Since it was the very first time, we had not worked out the kinks, like how she could reach all the compartments – but that’s all figured out now.

You’ll see her putting the utensils in the correct compartments, separating out the plasticware, which we keep in another drawer, and handing me the pieces that didn’t go in those compartments. At one point I tried to help her when she hadn’t asked for it, she said “No!” – and then when she couldn’t reach, she did ask for and accept help. You will also get to see her coughing on the silverware.

I was very impressed with her ability to do so much of this job, only having learned from watching, and totally on her own initiative. We are big into training around here lately – and questioning assumptions about what our kids can and can’t yet do. Getting ready for a talk with my son’s teacher about what she might see as he takes on more and more independence. Love watching MomTV – you really ramped it up this week!

Anyone else have kids on video that you would like to share?? Please send them to us, so we can celebrate with you!!

See Hazel Put Away Dishes!

Why Train a Toddler?

Balancing checkbooks, time management, college essays, jobs, friends, family and more. These are just a few of the things our teens are juggling every day.

How they manage the ever more challenging aspects of daily life, is up to us as their parents.

When we take the time to invite children into their lives from the earliest ages, take time to train them and nurture their independent spirit, we ensure that they will enter their teenage years eager to take on more and more of what life has to offer.

What excites me about the Parenting On Track™ program and in particular our chapter on creating a Timeline for Training, is the benefit for every single member of the family.

If you’d like to rest in the confidence that YOUR child will not only be prepared for life beyond your home, but enjoy all that life has to offer, bring the Parenting On Track™ Program home today.

When do you start training?

  • Are you a parent who thinks kids can’t do much?

  • Do you think kids have to be 13 before you can begin teaching them how to take care of themselves?

  • Do you think kids might be resistant to doing things for themselves, after they have had a bit of training?

  • Did it ever occur to you that four-year-olds can make a decent peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

We’ve got news for you – they can – they do and this one DID. Check it out.

If you are hesitant to start training, I encourage you to rethink your ideas on training kids for independence and self sufficiency. Or then again, you could be packing lunch for an ungrateful 13 year old. Its up to you- you choose.

The Morning Routine

overparentingThe morning routine has long been one of the “challenging” times in the life of a family. We’ve all had those mornings when kids don’t want to get out of bed, they find their clothes “just aren’t right”, or maybe their breakfast lacks appeal and all these moments add up to power struggles, stress and a bumpy start to the day. As parents, we understand that the morning routine sets the tone for the rest of the day, so it is important to start on the right foot.

Parenting On Track™ offers families access to proactive, sustainable, age-independent strategies to help you parent from your best – which, inevitably, brings out the best in your child. Grounded in teaching “long-term-sustainable-solutions,” the program teaches parents how to support children as they implement and practice life skills that will help them maneuver their way from childhood through adolescence into young adulthood with confidence and enthusiasm. The fundamental principles of Parenting On Track™ focus on training and the understanding that parenting is a journey and there are no quick fixes.

However, there are things we, as parents, can do right away that have a significant impact on the attitudes of our children as they start their days, face daily challenges and navigate their lives, regardless of whether those challenges are deciding what to have for breakfast, standardized state tests, or a fight with their BFF.

Here are a few simple tips that will remind your kids that you believe in them and love them – this, of course, translates into a relaxed, confident and enthusiastic kid. You know, a kid with a “can do” attitude, the one who enters school with a smile, a swagger and a “bring it on” look in his or her eyes.

1. Appreciation:

Identify specific character traits in your child that you admire and make an observation about one every morning.

Imagine being greeted each morning by someone who clearly knows you and appreciates you.

These appreciations might sound something like:

  • You always wake up in a good mood.
  • You are such a curious kid.
  • You can make your mom and I smile even when we are upset about something.
  • You are incredibly patient with your siblings.

2. Participation:

Invite your children to do more for themselves.

Imagine being treated like a capable, competent person by the people most important to you – your parents.

Try some or all of these suggestions:

  • If you have been getting them up, ask them if they want to get an alarm clock and get up on their own.
  • If you have been making their breakfast, ask them if they want to make pancakes with you this morning.
  • If you nag them to get ready, try being quiet and see what happens.

3. Connection:

  • Create a final connection with your kids in the evening.
  • Have faith in your children and show them that no matter what happens – you love them.
  • Ask questions that are relaxed and open ended (and not about the upcoming test.)
  • Sit quietly at the bottom of the bed and tell them you just want to hang out with them for a few more minutes.
  • Do something unexpected (like paint toenails, or give a back scratch.)
  • Create a positive affirmation together.

By utilizing these three strategies – Appreciation, Participation and Connection – on a regular basis with your children, you can eliminate some the current challenges you face each morning and replace them with a smooth routine that will have all of you out the door on time and ready to face the day.

For more information on inviting your children into the process of orchestrating a smooth morning routine, see our Parenting On Track™Home Program details.

Working and Having Fun

  • Have doubts about what kids can REALLY do?
  • Wonder if a 3 year old is capable of doing anything other then making messes?
  • Cautious about asking your kids to help out on a regular basis?

Well check out this video of my favorite 3 and 4 year old and see for yourself what young kids who have been encouraged to help because their mother took me seriously when I said “If they can walk, they can work” can do for themselves.

Doesn’t training look fun?

So no more stories about how kids: Won’t Work – Can’t Work – Don’t Work

Take a page from K’s book and invite your kids into the process of helping around the house. You could send one of these video’s to all your friends or better yet, have children who have had so much time to practice life, that they enter into adolescence with confidence and enthusiasm!

Play Date Gone Awry

“How do you tell a mother that her kid is more than a handful and that you’d rather HALT all future play dates?!” (NYC Moms Blog).

playdate-gone-awryIt’s part of the parenting landscape, a dilemma most moms and dads face at some point in their parenting life. Play dates that turn into a nightmare. Sometimes that nightmare is the result of your child’s behavior, often times it’s the other child’s behavior, either way it ends badly. Parents feel stressed and frustrated. What’s worse is that sometimes a perfectly good friendship ends because – (HMMM, so why does a perfectly good friendship end?)

First of all, who ever heard of kids under the age of five knowing the first thing about play dates, the purpose of play dates, the rules of play dates, the expectations of play dates or anything else having to do with play dates. I have talked to enough parents after the fact to know that what most moms and dads wanted, was either

  • Time with another adult so that they kept their vocabulary at a 12th grade level (they are still paying off college loans that paid for that impressive vocabulary and no 2 year old is gonna steal it)
  • Time away from their kids so they can…..you name it. Life with small children is exhausting – emotionally, physically, spiritually, and intellectually. It’s smart to make time for yourself if you plan to go the distance from 0 to 18.

Now, it would be easy to blame the demise of a perfectly good friendship on the standard – “the kids just didn’t mesh”, but we all know there is more to it than that. What we do tend to do is start looking for advice AFTER the play-date for answers to, “Should I talk to my friend about their child?” or “How many times can I apologize before they stop inviting my child over to play?” or “What discipline strategy should I use to solve the problem the next time the child comes over?”

It seems to me, that this whole mess could be avoided if parents took the time to implement a few simple, proactive steps BEFORE the play date was even arranged.
For instance:

  • Identify the GOAL of the play date:

    Is it for adult company, or that much needed break?

    Or Is it to help teach kids how to interact socially and to adequately represent to the kids what they can expect from the outside world when they choose to hit, bite, scratch, pout, cry, scream, etc?

    Or is it to establish that play dates can be a great training ground for the next generation of community members and leaders?

  • Set clear expectations for reaching that GOAL.
  • Identify how you “discipline” each other’s kids and still respect each other’s different parenting styles.
  • Identify what you will you do to solve a problem between the children once it happens.
  • Identify what you will do if either of you decides that play dates just aren’t working

By having a conversation, creating a clear set of goals, and then coming to an agreement about how to handle potential landmines, you and your friend(s) are much more likely to avoid disaster all together. Instead, you will quickly create a community of support, acceptance and you can watch as your children navigate the often treterious slopes of social interaction.

The choice is up to you – take your chances, or be pro-active and ensure a better play date for you and your kids.

For more information on The Parenting On Track™ program and Proactive Parenting.

Parenting is a Journey? I Think I Need Directions!

journeyHave you ever felt more like a firefighter than a parent? You don’t seem to have time to put any real thought into caring for your children because you are too busy putting out small fires all day long, hoping that you aren’t faced with a wildfire that consumes the family before you make it out the door to school.

Or maybe you feel like a referee, putting one child in the penalty box while the other one gloats on the sideline? And I’m sure you have all, at one point in time, felt like the maid: too busy picking up toys and doing laundry to enjoy the small moments of fun with your children. None of these images is all that positive when associated with the job of caring for our small children, so I am going to ask you to remove all of those negative images in order to leave room for a new, “improved” positive vision of what your life as a parent could look like.

Parenting is a journey. The journey begins when you bring your first-born child home and continues until your youngest reaches 18 and moves into his/her second phase of life. And every journey requires a ROADMAP. The journey of parenting is no different because, without a roadmap, it is impossible to parent from your best.

A Parenting Roadmap can look like any map you would use to plot a course from Point A to Point B. I like to imagine myself up on a hill with a birds-eye view, visualizing the road below as it winds its way through mountains and valleys and through my child’s life from 0 to 18. Maybe your map looks like a board game, or an ordinary roadmap.

No matter what image or map you decide to use, remember that each one has three things in common:

  1. The starting point
  2. The final destination
  3. The distance in between

As a parent, designing your Roadmap, you want to make sure you:

  • Identify your starting point (where are you today?)
  • Identify your final destination (where do you want to go?)
  • Plan for the distance in between (what will it take to get there?)

I’m pretty sure that when you began your parenting journey (or thought about beginning it!) your images did not include feeling frustrated, stressed, confused or discouraged. I’m asking you to put aside those negative feelings and attitudes and focus on answering a few simple but powerful questions:

  • How do you want to spend your time with your kids? (The choice is yours.)
  • What are your values and how can you better live into them?
  • How can you enjoy the experience of your children’s childhood with them? (This includes more than playing with playdough and make–believe.)

Those may seem like tough questions to answer, but creating a Parenting Roadmap will help you focus on the outcome, evaluate and track your progress, and enjoy more and worry less. The choice is yours.

For more information on creating a Parenting Roadmap, see Ch. 5 of the Parenting On Track™ Home Program.

Traveling with Toddlers

Traveling as a Litmus Test

I just returned from Flagstaff, where I visited our oldest child at school. It was a glorious experience, but that’s not what I am writing about today.

Having traveled, coast to coast, numerous times with all five of my children when they were young, I consider myself to be tolerant, patient and accepting of how difficult it can be to travel in a confined area with wiggly toddlers.

But when three out of the four stewardesses suggest that Benadryl might be in order, you know it’s bad.

As it turns out, it wasn’t just one very rowdy, loud three-year-old—it was twins.
I could tell you all about their antics, but you either have a child that has left you breathless, exhausted and at times mortified at his/her behavior or you have witnessed such a performance firsthand, so the details of the story really aren’t what’s important.

What’s important is, if you think for one minute that your little terrors will magically turn into darlings because you brought them out in public, do yourself a favor and

  1. Face the fact that you have been indulging your children at home and they will expect the same when you travel with them—and more.
  2. You have been controlling them and they are smart enough, even at three, to figure out that you can’t and you won’t control them while you are in public, so this is their chance to exact revenge on you.
  3. They will continue to do MORE of what they do at home, with more intensity, perseverance and volume than even you can imagine.

At one point, I looked around and watched a few of the other passengers and realized that most of them were giving the “hairy eyeball” to the boys. If anyone deserves the “hairy eyeball,” it’s the parents.
So, who cares right? Here is my point:

  • Imagine these three-year-old boys as nine-year-olds and you begin to wonder: Will anyone, including their peers, tolerate their selfish, demanding, uncooperative behavior?
  • Parents may get by on these road trips by giving in and bribing, but at the end of the day, it is the kids who really pay the price.
  • Kids don’t grow out of, they grow into—confirmed to me by a 13-year-old on the same plane who was behaving just as badly as these twin three-year-olds.

The bottom line—choose not to be those parents on the plane. Have the courage to find out what your children need to learn in order to travel calmly, agreeably and respectfully towards other passengers. And then, train them.

You can start by taking a two-hour ride on a bus, a train or a plane and find out firsthand how much training you still have to do in order to feel confident, excited and relaxed about traveling longer distances with your children. This “research trip” will give you a starting place on which to base your training.

Once you have a starting place you can:

  • Begin to build a Parenting Roadmap. (Not familiar with this concept? Check out Chapter Five, in the Parenting On Track™ Home Program.) This Parenting Roadmap will allow you to clearly
  1. Identify a starting place;
  2. Identify a destination; and
  3. Plan for the distance in between.
  • By following your Parenting Roadmap, you will be able to track your progress, keep things in perspective, and enjoy the process of training (rather than worrying about it.)
  • By taking the time to train (further discussed in Chapter three, in the Parenting On Track™ Home Program), you will be able to recognize and celebrate small victories on your way to your final destination.

Check out these and other strategies, so that you can look forward to having those cute children that everyone smiles at (and continues to smile at) during your travels.

Quiet Car Ride. No Duct Tape Required.

Quiet Car Ride. No Duct Tape Required.My business partner, Jennifer, walked into work the other day looking like ‘Tigger’. You know, big smile, bouncing up and down. I had to ask, “Okay – What gives Tigger?”

Her face lit up as she started to recount her morning drive.“I was driving home from the dentist,” she began, “and Jessie (4) and Elizabeth (7) were in the back seat of the car giggling and laughing and cuddling, as best they could in their car seats.”

Still looking like Pooh Bear’s bouncy buddy, she continued on, “Then, all of a sudden, Elizabeth decided she was bored with the giggling and began teasing Jessie. I had about 30 seconds to grab hold of a strategy that would keep the whole situation from turning into a screaming match with those two.”

When I heard this, I knew exactly where this classic parenting story was coming from… and where it might end up!

Here is what it looks like in most families:

  • The kids start to fight
  • Mom (or Dad) starts yelling at the kids to stop fighting
  • Now the parent and the kids are fighting
  • The kids get dropped off at school feeling miserable (but only until they find their friend on the playground)
  • Mom or Dad cools down and starts to feel – well – guilty about the way the morning drive went and often confused and frustrated about all the fighting
  • Mom or Dad arrives at work upset and looking more like Eyeore then Tigger.

These same parents might spend the next 2 hours calling each other or friends, confessing how awful they feel about the fighting, admit that they don’t know WHY they snapped and promise NEVER TO DO IT AGAIN.

Of course, the real problem is that so many parents out there who experience car rides that include fighting have no idea what the root causes are and are, therefore, clueless on what to do the next time it happens… and we all know, there WILL be a next time!

OK, OK. So What Happened Already?

Jennifer continued, “I know Elizabeth is a power child and often looks for a way to feel capable. And, I remember you explaining that she could either pick a fight with her sister, or I could give her another option to focus on. So, I went back to the Crucial Cs.

The rest of the story between Jennifer and her loveable power child went something like this.

“Hey, Elizabeth… I forgot exactly where we are going. Do you remember?”

“What?” Elizabeth asked with a confused but curious look on her face.

“I know we’re heading home, but did we have to stop somewhere along the way?”

And, so it began. The shift which allowed the very capable child to forget all about teasing her sister, and shift her focus to something useful, which keeps ALL of them out of the Rabbit Hole.

The Crucial Cs Are Powerful, Proactive Tools for Parents

The shift occurred because Jennifer understands the power of one positive, pro-active strategy introduced in the Parenting On Track™ Home Program, —The Crucial C’s.

A fundamental component of this program is that you can discover why your kids do what they do and when that happens, the mystery is solved. When, once you understand why your children do what they do, you are free to create a plan which you can use in a multitude of situations – a plan that helps your children move their focus from a useless behavior to one that is useful today and on into the future.

All Elizabeth wanted was a job – something to do that would keep her from being bored and would allow her to fill her need to exercise her capabilities. Teasing was an option until her equally capable, and increasingly confident mom, provided her with something more interesting and more important to do.

And thus a happy end to Tigger’s tale.

We would like to acknowledge Drs. Betty Lou Bettner and Amy Lew for developing the Crucial C’s. More information on the Crucial C’s can be found in their book Raising Kids Who Can.