5 Ways to Connect as a Family this Spring

family sitting on grass near building

The weather has been pretty crazy…hot, cold, windy, rainy, and completely and totally unpredictable.  Kind of like a child’s moods, right?

Mood swings are hard to predict, but one thing that can help kids regulate and feel more in control of their emotions is to feel more connected to us!  At their very core, a child deeply desires to feel connected to their parent/guardian. They want to be seen…heard…valued…listened to…understood…loved.  They want to be noticed and they will do ANYTHING to get us to notice them…including misbehave.  Behaviors like…

  • doing things they are not supposed to be doing
  • getting into things they are not supposed to be getting in to
  • whining
  • complaining
  • throwing tantrums
  • fighting with their siblings
  • doing poorly in school

are all behaviors that get our attention.  And some kids do these behaviors JUST to get our attention.  They are saying…”see me”…”notice me”…”pay attention to me”.  

But what if we set aside time each day just to play with them…hang out with them…talk to them…just be with them?  How would their behaviors change?

Well, definitely for the better. 

  • smarter choices
  • calmer emotions
  • higher self-esteem

are just some of the benefits of children feeling connected to their parent/guardian and to their family. 

Here are 5 Ways to Connect as a FAMILY this SPRING…

  1. FAMILY GO-TO-THE-MOVIES NIGHT:  Surprise your kids by taking them to the movie theater to watch a movie together.  NOTE: To cut down on cost, go before 4pm and bring your own popcorn, candy, and drinks like I do! ūüôā
  2. FAMILY BAKE COOKIES NIGHT:  Bake some cookies together and then enjoy eating them together too!  You could even bake a few extra to share with a neighbor. 
  3. FAMILY HAVE-A-PARTY-FOR-NO-REASON NIGHT:  Any night can be a reason for a party. One mom of 8 shared that she would randomly do a “Nacho Birthday Party” and have nachos and give each kid a little gift for no reason.  How fun is that? 
  4. FAMILY PLANT FLOWERS NIGHT: Now that the weather is getting nicer, you can plant some flower together and you can water them and take care of them together and watch them grow all throughout the spring, summer, and even into the fall.  Impatiens are $5-$10, and they bush out and grow quite a bit.  You could even get a seed packet for a few dollars and plant seeds and watch them sprout and grow! 
  5. FAMILY KICK BALL NIGHT: Grab a ball and head to an open area for a friendly game of family kick ball.  We just use jackets and shirts for the bases and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. 

Pick one of these to try this weekend and put Family Time on the calendar each week throughout the spring and do something to connect.  If you use none of these ideas…that’s OK. Find YOUR own way to connect as a family.  So even if the weather isn’t predictable this spring season…your child will know that Family Time will be!

Here’s to some fun Family Time this spring…
Christine

CHRISTINE LEEB

Child Development Specialist


We strengthen families and promote positive parent-child relationships. 

For parenting questions, concerns, and support, call or text our non-emergency Parent Support Line: 920-7FAMILY (920-732 6459)

3 Tips to End Bullying

Did you know that Bullying Prevention Programs in the schools often don’t work? Why is that? Well, there are several reasons…

1.  They focus way too much on bullying—what it is, what it means, ways you bully—which then ends up teaching kids how to bully.  Research has shown that bullying increased after some school anti-bullying programs and some students have shared that they actually learned more ways to bully!!

2.  They post signs everywhere that say: END BULLYING or DON’T BE A BULLY.  What does a kids’ brain see?  The words BULLY and BULLYING.

3.  Bullying starts and ends at home more so than anything else.  If there is no parent involvement, than nothing is going to last long. Even if a bullying prevention program “works”, it will only be short-term. 

So, what’s the answer?  I have a few suggestions…

  • Kindness is the opposite of bullying so we all need to stop talking about bullying so much and start focusing on kindness!  Teaching kids about kindness—what it is, what it means, and ways you can show kindness.
  • Post signs EVERYWHERE about being kind.  In fact, every school, grocery store, gas station, restaurant, and home should have a sign that says BE KIND.
  • Recognize the power of OUR influence as parents.¬† Bullying may start at home, but kindness does too.  When we focus on teaching kindness in our homes…we can make a BIG difference in spreading more kindness in this world.¬† ¬†When we…
    • set boundaries around being kind…
    • watch things that promote kindness…
    • read books about kindness…
    • do kind things for others…
    • thank our kids for being kind…
    • ask them every night how they showed kindness in their day…

Focusing more on kindness is how bullying ends, so parents, let’s do this!!¬† Because, together, WE can be the GREATEST Bullying Prevention Program out there.

Here’s to spreading kindness together–¬†

Christine Leeb

Child Development Specialist

4 No-Yelling Strategies

Parent Question:¬† What if I’m constantly yelling at my kids because they won’t do anything unless I yell??

Answer: We are human.¬† Our kids are human.¬†¬†And because of that, we will all have our moments.¬† (Trust me, I’ve had many!!)¬† Every single one of us will lose our cool at some point because parenting is HARD.¬† Finding enough patience is HARD.¬† Life is HARD.¬† And kids can be…well…HARD to deal with.¬†¬†¬†

The key is to put things in place so that yelling doesn’t become a habit because it’s when we yell constantly that it becomes damaging to our relationship with our child.¬†Trust is broken, respect is lost, and eventually kids will stop listening altogether and may even rebel.¬†

Here are a few no-yelling strategies to try…

  • Be proactive:  Identify times of day when you yell the most and put a plan in place in advance.  Maybe it’s getting up a few minutes earlier…maybe it’s starting the bedtime routine a bit earlier too.  Maybe it’s setting clear expectations and consequences BEFORE you go to a restaurant or grocery store. 
  • Use a checklist:  Checklists can empower kids of all ages to do their jobs so we don’t have to constantly remind nor lose our cool if they aren’t listening.  They have a job to do and when the checklist is in charge, you can help them and encourage them and even offer small incentives for completing them (an allowance each week or extra screen time) or clear consequences for not completing it (dock in pay or loss of screen time).
  • Take care of your Emotional Balloon:  Often times we yell at our kids simply because we are stressed about something else.  In other words, our Emotional Balloon is already full even before they misbehave and then we “pop” when we may not normally have lost it, right?  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve yelled because I was stressed about something else that had nothing to do with my kids and they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Taking care of your Emotional Balloon means finding healthy ways to release negative emotions and stress like walking, yoga, playing a sport, counseling, mindfulness exercises, journaling, prayer, having a date night, finding a hobby, or a night out with friends. 
  • Stay connected:  When kids feel connected to us, they will be more willing to listen and obey us and follow our advice, but did you know that when WE feel more connected to our kids, then we will have more patience with them and be more willing to speak or treat them respectfully? Plus, it just helps us like our kids more—get to know them better, understand their personalities, see their side, hear their thoughts and opinions, and build our respect for them. 

When we give ourselves grace each day–recognize that we are human and our kids are human too—then we can be willing to learn new strategies, find what works for us, and make tomorrow a better day…even if it’s hard!¬†

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT–Looking for more no-yelling tips and tools?¬† GREAT NEWS!!¬† We have launched our On-Demand Parenting Workshop Program where you can take our workshops¬†free¬†ANYTIME online!!!¬† And guess what?¬† Our first workshop is:¬†¬†NO MORE YELLING

You can watch the full workshop all at once or scroll down the page to watch it part by part if you just have time for a few minutes here and there.  Plus, there is a notes packet you can print out if you’d like (but it’s not required).  Go at your own pace and rewatch any parts as needed.  And there will be more workshops to come!   CHECK OUT NO MORE YELLING ON-DEMAND NOW! 

Here’s to no more yelling at our kids–

Christine Leeb

Child Development Specialist

What If My Child Says “No”

Question:  What if my child says “No” to me?

SUGGESTIONS:  Parents ask me this question often—especially parents of toddlers.  When kids say “no”–no matter what their age–it can feel super irritating and make us parent out of our Parent Ego which says:  “YOU CAN’T SAY “NO” TO ME!!!”, which only creates an even bigger power struggle and soon our child turns into a “No Monster” and they will use that word over and over and over to irritate us, get a rise out of us, and create a lot of conflict and chaos.

My biggest suggestion is to: Focus on the goal:  Ignore the “no” completely.  Take away its power.  If you ask your child to pick up their toys, take out the trash, or do their homework, etc. and they say “no”, focus on the goal only of getting them to do what you have asked. I know it feels disrespectful when they say “no”, but YOU have power over how much power it has over you. Does that make sense?  Otherwise, you’ll be angry about 2 things and dealing with 2 problems–them not doing what you asked them to do AND them saying “no” to you.  Let’s just focus on the goal and ignore the “no”.  

Here are some other suggestions for you to try and see what will work for you and your child…

For Preschoolers and Grade schoolers…Let’s say you have asked them to clean up and they say “no”…

  • Make it a game:  See if you can engage your child in a race to see if they can pick up the toys before the timer goes off or before a song is over.
  • Offer teamwork and power:  “Can you clean up the toys all by yourself or would you like some teamwork? or “Are you old enough to clean them all up by yourself or do you need mommy/daddy to help you?”
  • Use When/Then:  “When the toys are cleaned up, then it will be time for Family Movie Night (or snack time or going to the park or having a tickle fight or playing electronics, etc.).  

For middle schoolers and high schoolers…this age group is a bit trickier with the “no”, but remember that we still want to focus on the goal and not give the “no” any power nor let it create a power struggle.

  • Use humor:  I heard you say “no”, but I know what you really meant to say is (and then use some silly high-pitched voice): “Sure thing, mom. I’ll get right on that.”  Then you say: “Thanks, son!” 
  • Rewind and Give them Their Lines:  “Can you try that again without just saying ‘No’. That doesn’t feel respectful. Can you say: ‘Do you mind if I finish up this TV show and then I’ll put the dishes away?’ That respects you and me. Thank you.'”
  • Empathize and Compromise:  “I know you’re playing something you’re enjoying and taking out the trash isn’t your favorite thing in the world.  How about I’ll set a timer for 5 more minutes so you can finish up and then you can take care of the trash?”
  • Offer power:  “You don’t have to do your homework right now, but what is your plan for getting it done on time?” Let them tell you their plan and then you can just hold them accountable for their own plan. 


When we refuse to give the “no” any power and we focus on using other strategies to get the goal accomplished, not only can we avoid LOTS of power struggles, but more importantly, we can protect our relationship with our child…and destroy the “No Monster” for good!

Here’s to focusing on the goal…not the “no”…
Christine

Christine Leeb, Child Development Specialist

Celebrating Black History Month with Your Kids

Black History Month kicks off this February. With any celebration or awareness-raising days, I believe their message should be carried with us throughout the year!¬† With Thanksgiving, for example, we should be thankful and grateful EVERY DAY…not just on one day of the year.¬† Or when my kids and I slept in a box one night a few weeks ago to raise money for the homeless, I want them to be aware, compassionate, and giving towards the homeless every night…not just one night.¬†

So with that in mind, let’s celebrate and learn about different cultures and people—-who they are, how they contribute to our society, the very real struggles they face, and even ways we can help—as often as we can.¬†

With respect to Black History Month, here are some ideas to learn and grow as a family…


THE TEACHING TOOL—Our primary job as a parent is to be our child’s greatest teacher.¬† Their views of themselves, of others, and of the world are shaped by our own views.¬†

EDUCATE OUR KIDS—Set a positive example.¬† Take time to talk about and teach about contributions and positive role models in the African American community.


For example, did you know…

  • that George Crum, chef and restauranteur, invented the potato chip? 
  • that George Washington Carver not only invented peanut butter, but also resourcefully used sweet potatoes and peanuts to invent 518 new products like ink, dye, soap, cosmetics, flour, vinegar, and synthetic rubber?
  • that Marie Van Brittan Brown filed a patent for the first home security system?
  • that Madame CJ Walker became the first self-made millionaire with her invention of hair care products for African Americans?

And there are SO many more!  

In fact, this book is AWESOME: 100 African Americans Who Shaped American History

EDUCATE OURSELVESBe willing to learn.Take time to educate yourself, as a parent, on the real struggles some African American families face. 

No matter what color your skin is or what your background is, take time with your family or on your own to learn about and understand your own culture or those of another.  And that’s what will bring more unity to this world, not just one day or one month out of the year…but EVERY day! 

Lord, You are the God of peace…of harmony…of unity.  Allow our hearts to align with Yours to bring light where there’s darkness…hope where there’s hopelessness…peace where there’s conflict…harmony where there’s discord…and unity where there’s division.  

Here’s to bringing more unity to the world together—Christine

Sibling Rivalry–3 Ways to Promote Kinder Sibling Interactions

3 Ways to Encourage Kinder Sibling Interactions
“STOP LOOKING AT ME!!!!”¬† Classic sibling line.¬†¬†

Since when did looking at someone become the most annoying thing in the world?  My guess was when siblings were invented.  LOL!

I remember growing up when my brother would draw a line in our velour car seat and tell me not to cross it (and I always would just to tick him off).¬† I remember shouting at him to “GET OUT OF MY ROOM!!!!”¬† I even remember us fighting over who had the most Captain Crunch Berries in our cereal bowls.¬†¬†

If you’re kids fight with each other…they are normal.¬† If they argue…they are normal.¬† If they bicker and pick and peck and poke at each other…they are normal.

Sibling rivalry is normal.  It is. 

Now, not to say that we can’t make it better.¬† Not to say that we can’t put some teamwork tools in place to make it better…because we can!

But I just wanted to start by saying that it’s normal. And it’s healthy–to a certain degree–especially if we use this rivalry as a teaching tool for life.

Because there is no greater place to learn to resolve conflict, to grow in cooperation, to work with different personalities, and to understand the art of compromise than in our families!

I truly believe that’s why God brought our families together.¬†

Sibling Rivalry gives us an opportunity to teach and encourage our kids how to work together as a team…and that’s something they will carry into their future jobs, friendships, marriages, and even into their own parenting.

So before you make a wish to the next genie you meet that sibling rivalry would just end…I hope you can see it a little differently.

And learn to handle it a little more effectively.

Here are 3 ways to encourage kinder sibling interactions…


1.¬† Teach more…punish less:¬†¬†When siblings fight constantly, it can be so easy to get caught in the trap of just policing their behavior and dishing out punishments left and right. It’s exhausting and not our job.¬† Our job is to teach. Let’s be proactive.¬† Let’s identify the problem, pray about it, get ideas from our spouse and kids on how to solve the problem and work as a team. Then make a plan.¬† And practice!¬† Yes, practice sharing. Practice riding in the car without fighting.¬† Practice using kind words with each other. Practice kindness in whatever area that they are not choosing to show kindness. Teach them what to say and what to do…even when someone looks at them funny.¬†

2.¬† Let them work it out:¬†¬†Once you’ve involved your kids in making a plan on working more as a team, give them space and time to work it out together. In fact, when I hear an argument going on, I just stay away.¬† If someone comes running to me for help, I say “Work it out please. I know you can solve this problem as a team.” And then give them more space. It’s not easy and yet it’s so freeing. Eventually, they do work it out and then I can come in and thank them for using teamwork to solve the problem! It’s great.¬† Now, let’s get real here…obviously, we all know to step in if there are any safety concerns, but if it’s just good ole’ normal sibling rivalry…let them work it out. And if they need more practice…practice more. Don’t settle for their disrespect.¬†¬†

3.¬† Provide more time together:¬†¬†When kids fight all the time, the first thing some parents want to do (and understandably¬†so)¬†is try to separate them as much as possible. Instead, let’s provide opportunities for them to spend time together as much as possible.¬†It is so important that kids see each other as being on the same team, and in my opinion, nothing says “team” more than time.¬† Give them more time together as a whole family like serving the community, or doing a movie night or game night. And give them more time just as kids like letting them stay up a little later after bedtime to play a game together in one of their rooms or build a fort and watch their own movie.¬†

Obviously giving them space is great and sometimes much-needed (especially to parents who are dealing with constantly annoying interactions), but find balance. Separate them in the moment if needed…give them time (especially those introverts) to just be alone, but always make sure there are plenty of opportunities for togetherness and fun too.

Until our kids stop looking at each other just to annoy and until our kids can stop being annoyed at someone’s look, there will always be sibling rivalry.¬† But I hope that after you apply some of these teamwork strategies, you will hear more laughter than loud shouts and a lot less annoyance from annoying looks!

Lord, Just as You instruct us and teach us in the way we should go and counsel us with Your eye upon us (Psalm 32:8), lead us in doing the same for our children. Allow your kindness and love to flow through our homes creating brothers and sisters who respect and live in peace with one another. 

Here’s to building better families–
Christine

Stop Labeling Our Kids

I don’t often write about what “other parents do” for many reasons…

  1. I know that no parent is perfect (including me).
  2. I know that we all have our moments and make mistakes (including me).
  3. I don’t want parents to be afraid to be around me thinking that they are being judged or that their parenting mishap will show up in my next email or blog. ūüôā (I promise I have learned that no one wants unsolicited parenting advice).

But I have to share this one…

One time I overheard a mom tell another group of parents that her 8-year-old daughter was in the “Awful 8” phase of life.

Awful 8?¬† ¬†What is that?¬† I had never heard of it! I had heard of the “Terrible Two’s” and “Threenager Three’s” and the “Fighting Fours” (which I’m never a fan of negative labels for our kids) but Awful 8?¬† What the heck?¬† I cringed…not just because this mom spoke these words about her own daughter, but because she spoke them¬†in front of her daughter.¬† It was her “label.”¬† And let me tell you…this little girl was living up to it.¬†

Because as I observed their interactions with each other, her daughter’s behavior was whiny, disrespectful, ungrateful, “complainy”, negative, and well…pretty awful.¬†¬†

But then I realized something, she wasn’t awful at all (because NO CHILD IS AWFUL…I repeat…NO CHILD IS AWFUL), she was just a product of her label.¬† She was living up to her mom’s expectations.¬† And she was desperately seeking her mom’s attention and only getting it in negative ways. ¬†

At one point, I observed this little girl tell her mom:¬† “Hey, mom. I didn’t complain about what kind of drink I got.”¬† Her mom, without even looking up from her phone, says: “Uh huh.”¬† No acknowledgement that her daughter chose not to make a complaint…no smile to say thank you for choosing gratitude this time.¬† Nothing.¬†This mom missed her chance for a positive interaction!! I saw the little girl deflate a little wanting some sort of positive exchange from her mom for her good (and from what I had witnessed, uncharacteristic-like) choice.¬† But nothing. So guess what happened?

Her daughter went right back to griping, moaning, complaining and rolling her eyes about everything again and guess who looked up from her phone to berate her.¬† “Quit your griping.”¬† “You’re such a diva.”¬† “Stop annoying me.”¬† It turned into quite a back-and-forth exchange with her mom’s full energy and attention on her daughter’s negative behavior. I was sick to my stomach. This girl has realized that she won’t get any attention for making a good choice, but she will get a TON of attention and interaction for her bad ones.

So what has this little girl learned about herself? 

  • I’m awful.
  • The only way to get my mom’s attention is if I act awful.

I wanted to look this mom in the eyes and say—“You’re missing it. You’re missing an amazing opportunity to connect with your daughter…to have a close, positive relationship with her…to teach her to be a respectful, grateful, optimistic and resilient woman and guide her to be all that God created her to be.”

But her label stuck and she was called awful again and again. I had to move away from them and pray for them (again because I knew my advice wouldn’t be very well received. In fact I may have just been punched in the face!!)

Listen—NO CHILD IS AWFUL!

They just haven’t been taught the right tools or responses.  

Or they aren’t getting the attention they desperately need and want when they do act appropriately.

So the lesson here is…how often do we label our children? How often do we take a label and use it to define them and their behavior?¬† How often do we miss out on seeing the good choices they ARE making? How often do we focus too much on the label we have given them and not enough time teaching and training them to have different, better, more respectful behaviors?

Because if we really think that our kids are “divas”, or whiny, or “complainy”, or bossy, or always have to have things their way, then¬†we have a job to do.¬† And it’s not labeling…it’s not arguing…it’s not berating…it’s TEACHING!

Taking time each and every day to build a healthy relationship with them and teach them, train them, and model for them the positive skills and character traits we want them to learn and take with them into the world.

And this takes time. So let’s take the time.

Whatever we focus on, that’s the behavior we are going to see.

Whatever we label our kids, they will live up to it.  

Our words will become their inner voice and that voice will be in their heads for the rest of their lives.

So let’s see the good, speak the good, and if we ever do label our kids, let it be about their good character!

Lord, help us to see our kids the way You see them.  Open our eyes to their unique qualities and characteristics that You have given them.  And reveal to us any unhealthy labels we have put on our kids–whether we are aware of it or not–and give us a new focus for how to train them in Your goodness. 

Here’s to building better families–

Christine

5 Ways To Avoid Adult “Fits”

Have you ever just lost your ever-lovin’ mind on your kids? I have. It’s actually quite embarrassing if you think about it—these little kids, these tiny human beings, these people that are decades younger than we are know exactly how to push our buttons so well that can push us over the edge. 

We are adults for cryin’ out loud! But yet, I find myself acting like a child sometimes…yelling, crying, pouting, dirty looks, eye rolls, sighs, slamming doors, being annoyed, wanting them to just leave me alone and get the heck away from me IMMEDIATELY!!  I don’t know how they do it, but those little button-pushers know how to push so hard that they release anger I never even knew I had! 

I’m not excusing these behaviors in our parenting, because I know there are better ways…more loving ways…more Godly ways for us to handle ourselves, but I am giving us the grace we need to accept that we are human. We are not perfect. We will make mistakes.  And so will our kids!  And the sooner we realize that, the better we will be able to not only bounce back from our adult fits but hopefully be able to avoid them altogether.

Here are 5 strategies I’ve tried that have helped me…I hope they help you too:

1. Take-10 STAT:  When kids are in the button-pushing mode, there’s always a reason. And did you know that the reason is almost ALWAYS to get our attention? So instead of losing our cool or allowing them to push anymore of our buttons, look at their nasty attitude as a ATTENTION EMERGENCY!  “I’m noticing some grumpies are coming out in your attitude right now, let’s just stop what we’re both doing and do something fun together for 10 minutes. What would you like to do?” Even if the least of your desires is to spend time with them or even be near them, taking 10 minutes of your time can revive your relationship!

2. Positive Self-Talk: If buttons have already been pushed and your mood moves too quickly to anger, try taking a deep breath and say this over and over: “I am calm and confident.” Positive self-talk will help YOU remember with confidence that you are in loving authority over your child. Your reaction does not have to mirror their reaction. They can be as upset as they want for as long as they want. You made the right choice and you can remain calm about it.

3. Get space:  Remember do not engage. If they are strong-willed, they will want to try to pick a fight with you (sometimes just for fun), but you can remain calm and confident. If you do feel anger rising, simply excuse yourself and say: “I need a little space to calm down. Please respect my space. We can talk when we are both ready to be respectful.” And when it’s not a yelling and slamming door moment, it’s OK to go to your room or a bathroom and lock the door to get away for a moment.

4. Pray: If they continue to engage…even if they are banging on your door…just say a prayer. Pray for YOUR peace but also pray for THEIRS. It’s OK to let them be upset until you are both calm. And don’t forget the powerful When/Then Tool. “When you’re done being upset, then we can____________(play a game, read a book, go to the park, etc.)  Then on your way to the park, you can calmly talk to them about the situation, share ideas about what you both can do differently next time, and hug.

5. Encourage: “We’ll both get better about talking instead of yelling. I just know it! Let’s keep encouraging each other and practicing how to have a respectful conversation, OK? I love you and when two people love each other and are on the same team like we are, it’s important that we learn how to speak respectfully to each other…even when we’re angry.” 

One final thought—through that kid who is driving us crazy…God is doing something in us…to shape us and change us to be more like Him.  Parenting is a process of growth. Let’s ask ourselves: “Lord, how are you trying to grow me through this child?”

Lord, remind us that we are not children anymore. Yes, we are Your Children and we belong to You. Yes, we can have a childlike faith believing so whole-heartedly in You and Your goodness. But we do not have to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child (or throw fits like a child). We can choose to do away with these childish things. (from 1 Corinthians 13:11)  Through You, we can disarm those buttons our kids push so that they will no longer have any power over us! And instead of being buttons that trigger anger and yelling, they will simply release confidence, a calm spirit, and a kind heart.


Here’s to building better families together–

Christine

The Helpful Experiment

Whatever behavior we expect out of our children, we should expect that same behavior from ourselves. As parents, we have a wonderful privilege of being our child’s first and most important teacher, and no matter how old they are, they are learning from us every day. 

THE MODELING TOOL reminds us we always have little eyes, little ears, and little brains watching, listening, and learning from our every move…every day.  Even as our kids grow and their eyes, ears, and brains aren’t so little anymore, they are still learning from us.  They see how we treat our spouses.  They listen to how we talk to the dog.  They are learning how to resolve conflict, handle disappointments, solve problems, overcome adversity, speak respectfully, and love and serve others.  

No matter what we do, what we say, how we react, they are learning from us.  And they will take these behaviors out into the world—in their classrooms, in their friendships, to work, to their marriages, and ultimately to their own children.  

What we model matters. 

I remember years ago, I was having trouble with my kids doing things to be helpful.  They would do things if we made them or if there was a consequence to go with our request, but doing things just to be helpful wasn’t happening.  It made me very frustrated!

But I knew that to teach my kids to be more helpful, the answer wasn’t harsher consequences or raising my voice a little louder when I asked them to do something.  The answer was to model helpfulness. Helpfulness had to start with me.  So I did a little Helpful Experiment for a week…

  • I started being more helpful. “Hey, I noticed your laundry basket was full, so I threw in a load for you…just to be helpful.”
  • I started asking how I could be more helpful.  “How can I be helpful with your chores today?”
  • I started thanking them for being helpful.  “I noticed you took your plate to the sink–thank you for being so helpful.”
  • I started pointing out others who were being helpful.  “Did you see that man open the door for that lady?  That was really helpful.”

I started saturating our conversations with the word “helpful” and I made sure to do things to be more helpful to them. 

And it worked!!!

In just one week, my kids started being more helpful—to me, to each other.  Hmmmmm….very interesting!

Observational learning isn’t a new concept, but it is a powerful one.  If you want your child to be more helpful, you have to be more helpful.  If you want your child to be more respectful, you have to be more respectful.  If you want your child to stop yelling, you have to stop yelling.  

No matter what changes you hope to see in your child, start with you first.  Do your own experiment and see what positive changes YOU can make in your family. 

Lord, remind us how much our children are looking up to us, learning from us, and modeling whatever they see.  Help us to be a reflection of Your love and light into their lives!

Here’s to building better families together–
Christine

Fall Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt

One of the greatest ways you can provide a child with a sense of belonging and establish a team environment in your home is to do fun things together.  Whether it’s establishing a new tradition or trying something new together that you may never want to do again, it’s always a good idea to connect as a family. Family connection time allows you to not only be together, but create fun memories together.  Talking, laughing, exploring, teamworking (yes, I just made that up), fighting (wait, what? Let’s just be real here–anytime you get family together, there is going to be some of that). But even the fighting within our families provides an opportunity for us to grow as a family and learn how to handle conflict and differences in opinions in respectful ways.  

Because family connection is so important, over the next few weeks, I will be sharing a fun fall outing or activity for you and your family to do together.  This weekend, how about a Neighborhood Fall Scavenger Hunt. We have done these in our own neighborhood, but we may shake things up tonight and go to another neighborhood to try this one out.  

PRINT YOUR COPY HERE

This fall, take time to connect as a family as least once a week!  Your relationships will grow; your laughter will increase and maybe…just maybe, the fighting will be minimized. ūüôā

Here’s to building better families together–
Christine