Car Time

The longer I’m a parent, the more I realize how precious time in the car with my children can be!  We are in the car a lot and I used to dread the rides when my children were little because they would mostly cry or fight.  I wanted to give them media devices or install TV screens in my car so I could just have some peace and quiet!!!  Then I decided there were better options.  I started with Books on CD.  My children were quite young when I played them the reading of “The Polar Express” for the first time. I will NEVER forget how quiet and mesmerized they were by a deep voice reading a book to them in the car.  They were a captive audience because they were buckled in and there was nowhere else they could go, but it kept them quiet, entertained and was teaching them all at the same time. They couldn’t do the really long chapter books at first, so we did some fun Disney stories, Jumanji, and other short ones we could check out from the library.  We would have the cutest little conversations after the book was finished.  As they’ve grown a little older we’ve transitioned into listening to chapter books and it has surprised me how well they listened and retained.  We have listened to:  “Old Yeller”, “Little House, Big Woods”, “Where the Red Fern Grows”, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, Prince Caspian”, and several other great classics including the Old Testament (for children).  If we come to a part in the book they might not understand I pause the reading and explain and they can ask me question.  We have had so many amazing discussions in the car because one question would always lead to another. Often times I don’t even turn the book back on because we get so caught up talking. I find out so much about my children and their curiosities during these conversations in the car. I talk to them about so many things, ask them questions and they can talk to ME about anything.

Now that some of my children are older and can read on their own I love to have library books in the car next to them so they can read to themselves instead of just listening.  Some of my friends have kids who get carsick easily and can’t read in the car so that’s where the CD’s would come in handy. Did you know the public library carries a book/CD combo that enables the kids to be able to listen and/or follow along in the book?

I have learned that the car is also a great time to introduce good and uplifting music to my children. Everybody has their favorite kinds of music however I try to feed my children a variety of all kinds of music. I love playing CDs from musicals or great Broadway shows and explaining the basic story to my children. They love hearing the stories behind each song.  It’s fun to see what type of music each child prefers. I let them each choose their favorite track on the particular CD we are listening to and even my little 4 year-old has a definite preference.

Sometimes at home, there is too much going on to have a good long conversation with my children. Our car rides have become our uninterrupted conversation time. My husband and I don’t even bring a video player on long road trips anymore and my kids don’t expect it because they know we will either read, talk or listen to great music.  I never thought that could be possible!!

Our time in the car is so precious!  Listening to good books and music has completely changed the way we fell about out time in the car.

Thanks to my daugther-in-law Karlie for contributing this post!

Soft, Soft

 

When I was a young mother I was standing in the foyer at church with a friend whose youngest child was the same age as my oldest child. She was an experienced mother who had raised several well-behaved, happy children. We were in the middle of a conversation when her 4-year-old son kicked her in the shin. My first thought was, “My child will never get away with that”, and felt like she should stop talking to me and punish him right then. But she just looked down at him, made a sad face and said, “Oh, please don’t kick me, that hurts”. I thought, “What…” she didn’t spank him or even get really angry with him.

Side note: she also told him that she knew he was ready to go home because that was the reason he was trying to get her attention. Likewise hits can also be a result of an underling, unresolved problem that needs to be addressed.

Now that I’ve parented a little longer I realize that if a child is yelling it is ineffective to yell, “stop yelling”. Or if they hit someone it’s not a good example to spank them and tell them to not hit. So what should you do what should you do when your child hits?

Modeling appropriate behavior and teaching empathy can be ways to teach a child to be kind and not hit. Empathy is defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of others”. If your child hits you, or another child let them see how it made you feel. Make a sad face and tell them it hurt and made you feel sad. If they are old enough to understand ask, “Do you like it when someone hits you”? “How do you think it makes your brother feel when you hit him”?

Once when I was holding my toddler while he was being really rough he hit me on the jaw. It really hurt and my natural instinct was to feel angry or physically punish him. Instead I tried something different. I made a frowning face and kindly said, “Oh no, don’t hit, be soft” and then, smiling I softly stroked his cheeks and repeated, “Soft”. He imitated what I did and said “boff”. After that when there would be hits he’d remember and say, “Soft” and he’d want to gently stroke some ones arm or cheek.

Now, the bad news is that this is not usually a quick fix. It can take a long time for a child to learn not to hit when they are feeling frustrated, mistreated or uncomfortable. But if you are able to muster enough self-control to not strike back, or get angry, they will eventually learn by example to be kind and not hit.

To learn more about how to teach children to appropriately deal with feelings in a kind way, take a look at the last post Lindsey wrote titled, Feelings.

Feelings

Growing up my mom used to say, “feelings are not right or wrong, they just are.”

I think that it’s easy to see how others respond emotionally to a situation and think, “they shouldn’t be feeling that way.” But you know what? Their feelings are not wrong.  Many times we can’t help how we feel.

I talk to my students a LOT about feelings.  We talk about how our actions might make others feel.  We talk about how good choices make us feel good inside and bad ones make us feel bad inside.  We also talk about how it’s okay to feel mad, or sad, or hurt.

I remember one day a few months ago our lesson talked about getting mad and how we deal with those feelings.  As I told the kids that it’s OKAY to get mad every child became perfectly still and all eyes were on me.  There are times when kids are listening completely and absorbing every.single.thing you are saying.  It doesn’t happen often, but when it does if feels almost magical! I told them that feeling upset, mad and angry was normal.  I told them that even I feel that way sometimes.  I told them that feeling that was is okay.  They took it all in.

I took the opportunity to take it further.  I then proceeded to talk about what we do with those feelings.  I told them that while it is okay to get mad it’s not okay to react certain ways.  They listened as I told them that it’s not okay to hurt someone, or break something, or yell at other people.  We proceded to talk about some acceptable ways to deal with anger.  The kids shared how they cope with those types of feelings.  One student said he liked to hug someone.  Another student said he likes to go to his room and be away from everybody.  Another student talked about how it helps relieve his anger if he can run or move his body.  I let them know that those were all great ways to deal with anger.  I told them that there have been 3 or 4 times in my life when I felt so angry that I couldn’t take it.  I told them that I liked being alone, just the way that one of them had talked about.  I also told them that those few times I put my face in my pillow and I screamed!  I screamed as loud and as long as I could.  The kids chuckled, but I knew they were really thinking about it.

It’s healthy for kids to hear that adults have feelings just like them.  It’s good for them to know that they aren’t alone in the way that they feel.  It’s also really good for them to hear the right way to deal with those feelings.

I read this article the other day.  I thought it was really good.  That’s actually what got me thinking about all this.

Talk to your children and students about their feelings and reactions.  Just remember that the heat of the moment is not the best time to talk about it.  Talk about it afterwards or when you have time in the car.  It’s hard to think and take in new ideas when you are feeling emotionally charged.  Let your kids know that their feelings are normal and brainstorm good ways to deal with them.  Hey!  You could even talk to your peers or spouse about it since everyone has feelings–they are a part of life and aren’t going anywhere.

6 by 4

Jack be nimble,

Jack be quick.

Jack jumped over the candlestick.

He jumped so high he touched the sky,

And didn’t come back till the fourth of July.

There was an old woman….

Mary, Mary quite contrary…

Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater…

How many nursery rhymes do you know?

In my job I work with children 3, 4 and 5 years old and part of my work involves literacy. This week I was working at a library and saw this poster on the wall:

6 by 4

I have always liked nursery rhymes but I never considered them to be so educationally beneficial. So I did a little research and found that some benefits of teaching children nursery rhymes are:

  • Builds vocabulary
  • Language development
  • Creates phonemic awareness
  • Teaches memorization skills
  • Teaches how language works
  • Teaches rhythm and patterns of language
  • Teaches kids how to memorize

So to help your child be ahead teach them nursery rhymes, read books that are written in rhyme, or sing nursery rhyme songs with them. As they get older do activities that teach rhyming skills.

Nursery rhymes can be fun AND have educational value.

This is the end from the parent-writing partner of our team, the teacher partner, Lindsey adds:

I use “eenie, meenie, mynie, moe, catch a tiger by the toe…” with my 2nd grade students. Every time I do it they are SO INTRIGUED! Some of them have tried to learn it and it’s so cute to hear them say.

Your Child IS Your Work

One of my fellow grandma friends told me that her daughter-in-law would always ask her to babysit her child when she went to the grocery store. My friend was trying to figure out if it was really necessary because she had always taken her son to the store with her.

That said, I know that it’s a LOT easier to do things without having a little helper or two around. But I think it’s important to remember that your child is not in the way of your work, rather your child is your work. We need to go to work to have money to buy the things our families need. Making healthy meals is important for our families. It’s nice to have a clean, organized house and cute job chart for our kids. However we do all of those things because we have kids.

In the book Letters of CS Lewis he suggests that a housewife’s work is the most important in the world. He writes, “What do ships, railways, miners, cars, government, etc. exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes?… So your job is the one for which all others exist”.

So next time you’re trying to do the dishes and your 2 year old is hanging on your leg, pull a chair up to the sink next to you, take off their shirt, put an inch of soapy water in the sink with a few plastic cups and let them help you do the dishes (throwing a towel on the floor to mop up all the water they spilt was often my version of mopping my floor). If you’re trying to fold clothes and they are unfolding faster than you can fold, dump out the clothes, put your child in the basket (my kids loved to sit in and be pushed around in laundry baskets), put the clothes on top of them and call out what article of clothing you want and have them throw it to you as you quickly fold it and put it on the couch behind you. If you’re mopping or sweeping get them a toy mop and broom and let them imitate what your doing while you’re doing it. I’ve heard it said a child’s play is their work – that’s how they learn. So let them play house cleaning while you are working. You get the idea, rather than think of what movie you can put on for your child while you work, try to figure out how they can be constructively involved in what your doing.

I know moms cannot do this 100% of the time. At some point you are going to have to stop and sit down and read them a book or play a game for a few minutes. But just remember that your children are the reason you’re doing all the housework in the first place.

For more ideas on grocery story trips: A Little Helper at the Store or Now What Do I Say?

 

Classroom Jobs

It’s good and healthy for people of all ages to work! Many of you readers work full time (in or out of the home). Today I want to talk about helping kids learn to work. I don’t have any kids of my own yet, but I do work with lots of children every day and I am helping them learn to work.

In my classroom we have class jobs. Obviously my job is to teach, but I want to help my students learn to be responsible and learn to help.

Most kids naturally love to help. I will often say, “Who wants to help me…” and before I can finish my sentence lots of tiny hands shoot into the air. Kids want to help and feel useful and jobs can fulfill that need. (It also makes my life easier, so that’s a benefit too!)

I have seen many different job charts in people’s homes and classrooms. There are lots of places you can buy classroom job charts, but I just like to make my own. In my classroom I have found a system that works best for me. I make a big pocket chart. Each pocket has a job written on it. Then I write my student’s names on popsicle sticks. I slide a stick into each pocket and I am done! I choose to rotate my jobs weekly, so when class is done on Friday I just shift each stick over one slot.

My students can hardly wait to see their new jobs on Monday. They rush into the room and huddle around the chart. They look to see what job they have, what job their friends have and who has their favorite job!

Not only does giving my students jobs help them have a chance to work, but it also helps me have less to do at the end of each class and day. I no longer have to go find stray pencils around the classroom or straighten the books on the bookshelf. I don’t have to pick up trash or erase the whiteboard. My kids love doing their assigned job and helping remind their friends to do theirs as well. They enjoy it and I have less to do. It’s a win-win situation!

Sharing – An Argument Free Method

Have your kids ever fought over sharing something to eat? “He got more than me”, “His piece is bigger than mine”, or “That’s not fair”. Sound familiar? If so, here’s an idea to try. Assign one kid to cut and the other one gets to be the first to choose which piece he wants. This method assures the one doing the dividing tries to be exact and the one choosing first feels the power of getting just what he wants. Using this method we almost always came out with two satisfied children.

 

Less Stressing About Morning Dressing

Do you ever find yourself scrambling to find one of your child’s shoes 2 minutes before the school bus pick up? Or it’s a cold morning and your child needs some long pants to wear and they are nowhere to be found? A friend recently told me of her system I thought was a great idea that I’d like to pass along to help your mornings be a little less chaotic.

She bought a hanging fabric shoe rack; the ones with rows of individual pockets. After her Saturday laundry day she takes complete sets of school clothes for her son – pants, shirt, underwear and socks and rolls them up and puts a set in each pocket. That way in the morning he can grab them and dress quickly. If you have a child who likes to choose their own clothes, they could even be in charge of choosing the outfit for each day. If you have a daughter who is a fashionista she could help choose her outfit for Saturday.

Shoes can also be put in the bottom row for a quick find. I don’t know about you, but for me anything that helps save time in the morning and make for a little less contention is a great trade off for a small Saturday job.

Runny Noses

Little kids + cold season = runny noses. Whether it’s a constant, clear runny nose or the kind where they wake up in the morning with a thick crusty mess that makes it hard to breath, it’s not fun for the child or parent.

Kids always seem to run away crying when they see the tissue coming toward them. Why? I think it’s because often we pinch and wipe too hard.

Recently my 21-month-old grandson had a runny nose. I got a tissue and said, “Come here and let me wipe your nose”. I half expected him to turn the other way and take off running. But instead he walked over to me and tipped his head back and let me gently wipe his nose. I surprised myself when I realized how softly I needed to pinch to get his upper lip clean when he held still. His cooperation made me realized that part of my hard nose wiping must stem from the ritual of me chasing the snotty nosed child around the house, hog tying them to immobilize their flailing arms and legs so I don’t get wacked, and then chasing their face around to be able to reach their nose. By that time my adrenaline is so high I WIPE HARD so I won’t have to do it again for a while.

Next time you have a runny nose notice how much pressure you use when you’re wiping your own nose. Next, try pinching hard and see how much it hurts. It does not take much pressure to clean a runny nose. If your child’s nose is crusty try laying a warm washcloth on the area for a little while to make cleaning less painful. Also applying a little Vaseline under a clean nose makes the next wipe easier. Nose wiping does not have to hurt.

One… Two… Three… Then What?

While I was at the store last week I rounded a corner just in time to see a little boy pick up a plastic sword he saw leaning against the return counter and heard his mom say, “Anthony! One”.   At that moment I had several questions come to my mind,

“Will she get all the way to three or will her young son know that hearing “One” means he better stop what he’s doing immediately”?

“What will happen when the mom gets to “three”? Then what will she do”?

“Perhaps the kid knows that if he hurries he can play with the sword for three seconds before his mom does anything”.

            Actually, this whole counting to three thing has always been mysterious (or silly or interesting) to me. As parents, what are we really doing when try to terminate a child’s actions by counting to three? Are we giving them time to consider what to do? Do they know what’s going to happen if they don’t conform before we say, “three”? It’s all so arbitrary to me.

I think we should throw the whole counting thing out as a discipline technique. Rather, we should tell our child what we would like to have happen, or give them a choice. For example, the mom could have said to Anthony, “Son, we did not pay for that so we should not play with it” or “Put it back because if you play with it and break it, we’ll have to pay for it and we don’t want to buy a broken toy”. These type of comments help a child understand what’s happening better than just hearing, “One, two…”.

Of course, the tricky part comes when we give some nice explanation and they still choose to continue with the undesirable behavior. There are so many ways to explain what you would like your child to do, which do not contain any numbers or counting. For more on this see: Set the Expectation and Consequence and You Have Two Choices.