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The 4 A’s of Making Mistakes

It’s so important to make our home into an environment where kids feel comfortable making mistakes.

Because our kids will ALWAYS make mistakes!  We still do, right?

Why not teach them strategies on what to do after a mistake is made?  Teaching them these steps will not only show them that it’s OK to make mistakes but it also equips them and empowers them on what to do when they know they’ve blown it…when they’ve really messed up…or even when they have a small “Oops”.

Here are the 4 A’s of Making Mistakes we can teach our kids:

  1. Admit Your Mistake–Everyone makes mistakes.  No one is perfect.  Admit what you did.  Build trust instead of break it.
  2. Apologize–Say: “I’m sorry.”  Ask for forgiveness.  Be sincere.
  3. Always Offer to Help Fix It–Take ownership.  Solve the problem.  Figure out a solution and follow through.
  4. Avoid Making the Same Mistake–Learn from your mistake.  Mistakes build character and can make you stronger and more wise.  Learn, grow, and move on!

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Wouldn’t it be so wonderful if we all did this?

After we teach these steps and we walk our kids through them over and over, then we just have to be there for them without judgement…without punishment…and without any “I told you so’s”.  So the next time our kids come to us with a mistake, we can say—

  • “Thank you for admitting your mistake. That really builds trust between us.”
  • “Thank you for apologizing for it and yes, I forgive you.”
  • “Thank you for offering to help fix the broken window because yes, you will pay for it out of your own money.”
  • “And I know you feel badly and will not throw the ball in the house again.  I love you.”

Lord, check our hearts for perfectionist ways and perfectionist expectations of ourselves and of our children.  Fill our hearts full of grace–especially in our words and our reactions.  Remove the pressure of perfection and remind us that Your word and Your ways are perfect and flawless NOT OURS…and certainly not our children’s. 

Here’s to building better families–
Christine

3 Ways to Help Our Kids Be Good Mistake-Makers

Spills, homework errors, unmade beds, forgotten backpacks, lost sweatshirts, classroom warnings, and sassy tones.  These are just a few ways my kids have messed up this week alone!

Kids make mistakes!  Heck, we make mistakes too.

It’s hard for this perfectionist to admit, but EVERYONE makes mistakes.  And it’s so important that we teach our kids how to deal with them because they have, do, and always will make them.

3 Ways to Help Our Kids Be Good Mistake-Makers…
1.  Keep a calm voice:  Don’t lose our cool.  As much as we want to yell (and I have made that mistake many times), let’s try to take a deep breath and stay calm.  Sometimes just our reaction alone can create fear and anxiety over mistakes.  They may even try to hide them from us if we go all crazy on them.  Mistakes help them learn.  Mistakes are simply teachable moments.  Let’s repeat that to ourselves over and over.  It certainly helps me!

2.  Use teamwork:  What if they forget their backpack?  Do we rush it to school for them? No. We let them forget it and ask:  “I noticed you forgot your backpack today.  How did you solve that problem?  And how can you solve that problem for tomorrow?  Can I be helpful in any way?”  This puts the problem-solving power on them but also lets them know that you are there to help if they need you!  Kids must learn to figure out how to fix their own mistakes.  Teach them.  Don’t punish them.  Empower them.  Don’t embarrass them.  Oh and my favorite checklists are perfect for helping with forgetfulness by the way.

3.  Admit your own mistakes:  One of the most beautiful things my kids have said to me when I’ve apologized for a mistake I made (which is often, I might add) is:  “It’s OK, Mommy.  Everyone makes mistakes.”  Adults are mistake-makers too and the more kids see how we tell the truth, apologize, and problem-solve to “fix” our mistakes with confidence and without panic, the more they will become great mistake-makers too.

Lord, you call us to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave us. (Ephesians 4:32)  As we guide our kids in making mistakes, give us grace to be kind, patience to be tenderhearted, and love to be forgiving.  And always give us the wisdom to teach.  Mistakes help us learn and grow to be more like You!

Here’s to building better families—

Christine

5 Ways to Help Our Kids Feel Important

Besides “I love you”, our kids need to hear two more things from us…

“You belong.”  
and
“You are significant.”  

For some kids saying “I love you” isn’t enough.  And you guessed it, for some kids saying “You belong” and “You are significant” just isn’t enough either.

In these cases, actions truly do speak louder than words.  As parents, how can we show our kids that we love them, that they belong, and that they are significant?

Well, I wish I could say I could give you the exact formula that every child needs, but I can’t.  What I can do is offer you just a few simple actions to get you started…

1.  Pray for them:  First and foremost, they need to know that they are children of God.  Ask Him to open their eyes to see how they are loved by Him, how they belong to Him, and how significant they are to Him–that they have a special purpose that only they can fulfill!  Ask God for wisdom for each child.  He loves them (even more than we do).  He created them and knows exactly how they are wired.  Pray for Him to guide your words and actions for what each child needs.

2.  Have Special Time:  To kids, our time means significance.  Our time means they belong…they matter…they are important.  Our time means love.  Make it a goal to not let one day go by without connecting with your child in some way. Whether it’s reading a book, asking them bedtime questions, rubbing their back, throwing a ball, etc.  Find something that works for each child and your schedule.  (And if your schedule is too busy to connect, ask yourself what you can cross off your to-do list so that you have more time to connect.)

3.  Have Monthly Dates:  One idea a mom shared with me is for the day of the month that each child was born, do a special date night with that child.  Oh my goodness do my kids LOVE this and look forward to it each month!!!

4.  Put Them Above Things:  Your kids need to know that they are more important than a broken glass, a broken toy, a stained shirt or even our phones!!  You can always replace those things but your kids are irreplaceable.  Help them clean up the mess, fix the toy, or put stainstick on their shirt.  No big deal.  And when they talk to you, put your phone down and give them the eye contact and respect they deserve (I’m preaching to myself here too!)

5.  Work as a Team:  Ask for their opinions when appropriate—meals, restaurants, vacations, movie for family movie night, etc.  Do things as a family—clean up the house together, serve the community, pray, eat meals, etc.  Work together to figure out how to solve problems in your family–too much fighting, back talk, disrespect, yelling, etc.  “Kids-this isn’t working for our family.  I would love to hear your ideas of how we can do ______________better.  Then, we will come up with a plan and work together!”

Lord, give us moments to show our kids we love them.  Give us opportunities to teach them that they belong to You and to our family.  And challenge us to put our kids above the things of this world.  Help us plant seeds that grow significance in their hearts.  

Here’s to building better families—

Christine

When Our Kids Don’t Want to Go to School–2 Things to Try

My daughter is really struggling being away from me every day for Kindergarten.  She loves it once she gets there and gets her day going in her classroom but dropping her off is just heartbreaking.  She’s the kid screaming and crying and running back to hug me one more time and clinging to my leg.  Today, they had to have two teachers pull her down the hallway to her classroom.  She was screaming and crying the whole time.

It’s HARD!  That’s how my day starts…every day!  It totally brings me back to the days when I didn’t want to leave my mom for school either.  In fact, my mom reminded me of the time when I locked her out of the car.  Of course, she was wearing a robe and curlers in her hair in her version of the story.  School was a struggle for me, and now it’s a struggle for my little girl.

In praying for wisdom, here’s what I’ve done, realized, said, or tried.  If you have kids struggling with school or any kind of separation anxiety, I hope these tips helps you too…

First of all, our job as parents isn’t to change our children’s emotions.  Our job isn’t to convince our kids to want to do something.  Our job isn’t to be pushy and demanding nor telling them they should feel a certain way.  “School is fun!”  “You should be happy to go!”  “You love to see your friends.”  “You always have so much fun once you get there.”  Not helpful.

Our job isn’t to make them feel shameful for how they feel or compare them to other kids “Look–all your friends are going in without crying.”  (You definitely don’t want to get that started!!) “Stop it. You are the only kid crying.”

We want to be a safe person who our kids can come to no matter how they feel.  I don’t like it when someone tries to change how I feel.  I just want to be listened to and understood.  Our kids need the same from us.  Our job is to empathize with them and teach them strategies for what to do when they do feel anxious.

1.  EMPATHIZE…

  • “I totally understand how you feel.”
  • “You don’t have to want to go.  You don’t have to like _______but you canchoose to make the best of it. “
  • “I know how you feel.  I used to feel upset or a little nervous about _______too.”
  • “It’s ok to be sad.”

2.  TEACH…

  • PRAYER:  “Let’s pray together.”  Remind them that God’s love and presence is always with them.   They are never alone.  He is always there to comfort them when they are sad or feel lonely.
  • SCRIPTURE:  Help them find comfort in God’s word.  Give them empowering Bible verses to memorize or write them down and put them in their backpack. The verse I used for separation anxiety was from Joshua 1:9–Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. For the Lord, Your God, is with you wherever you go.
  • LOVE:  Remind your kids that just like God, you love them and are always in their heart wherever they go.  Let them know that they can always give you a “heart hug”.  And that you would be giving them “heart hugs” throughout the day too.  You could even put your picture or a picture of your family in an envelope for them to look at when they miss you.
  • CONFIDENCE:  Reassure your kids that they are safe, capable, smart, confident, and ready to go–wherever it is that they are going.

I can’t be pushy with my daughter even though I want her to go in the school without crying.  Pushing her–or any strong-willed kid–before she’s ready will only make things worse.  It’s certainly not easy, but I do have peace that this is her journey, and I’m just there to help her through it.

Lord, give our kids the confidence they need in You.  Bring peace to their anxious hearts and help us to be there to pray for them, bless them with Your word, love them, and encourage them.  

Here’s to building better families—

Christine

When It’s Hard to Let Them Go

How is it possible that my daughter started kindergarten today????  It’s not the first time we’ve been down this kindergarten road, but it wasn’t any easier.  I think I’m just struggling with how fast it all went.

She didn’t do preschool so this is the first time she is going to be away from me for this long…ever!

Choosing to keep her home with me for so long, I figured I had so much time and I would be ready, but then Zip…zing…bam!   One minute she was a little baby burrito with a sleep sack that I was rocking to sleep and the next minute, she’s a big girl with a backpack that I was walking to school.  I thought I would be ready, but I wasn’t.

My heart was pounding when my husband and I took her into her classroom.  I just wanted to stay and watch her and see what she was doing and learning and saying and experiencing.  With one last hug, I didn’t want to let her go…ever!

She was my little boopy, my little snuggle bug, my little shugs.

I didn’t want to walk out of the classroom.  I held back the tears until I was out in the hallway and then the flood came.  My husband and I hugged each other and we cried.   I felt so helpless.

Whether it’s to a day care provider, preschool, grade school, middle school, high school, college, work, off with friends, or on their first day of kindergarten… anytime our kids walk out the door…anytime we let them go, there is definitely a sense of powerlessness.

  • Will they make good choices?
  • Will they be safe?
  • Will they be bullied?
  • Will they stand up for themselves?
  • Will they be strong enough to stand up for someone else?
  • Will they be kind and loving?
  • Will they respect others?
  • Will they respect themselves?

The questions and worries can be overwhelming but we have to learn that no matter what phase of life our children are in, we can always trust them in the loving Hands of the One who created them.

As I walked home, leaving my little girl in that big school…all I could do was pray (and cry).

Prayer—a powerful act all of us parents can do for our kids all day…every day…and especially in moments of powerlessness.

Have you prayed for your child today? 

Let me share a prayer I pray every day over my kids…

Lord, bless them.  Keep them safe and healthy.  Watch over them and guide them.  Help them to make kind and loving choices for themselves and for others. And may they know that they have a very special purpose in this world and so does everyone else.  Remind them that they are Your love and light!

Here’s to building better families—
Christine

12 Ways to Teach Kids to Fail Well

Tired of being walked too many times in Little League, my son decided that he was going to swing the bat.

He learned very quickly that swinging…although it can result in getting a hit…can also result in getting an out.  And that…he didn’t like so much.

I watched him make a great hit only for it to get caught…out.  Then, the next time he was up to bat, he got another great hit only to get caught again…out.

I wish I could tell you that he took it well, but he didn’t.  Every time he got an out, he came out of the dugout, with his hat over his eyes, and sobbed in my arms.  “I wish I didn’t even swing the bat!” he grumbled.

Oh dear.

I am more of a “get over it kid” kind of mom, but this time, I just hugged him and let him cry and be upset.  In his world, I knew this was important and I just needed to be there for him…not lecture him like I wanted to.

Then, after the game (the slaughter) was over and it was time for his team to walk through the line of high fives with the other team, I watched as my son refused to give them high fives.  I was mortified as we have always taught him to be a good sport and no matter what–whether you win or lose–you always, always, always shake the other team’s hands and say “good game.”  And HE DIDN’T DO IT!

Well, let me tell you, I wanted to run out there and drag him over to the other team and make him shake their hands..no, hug them all and embarrass the crap out of him, but I didn’t.  Maybe I should have.

I wish I could tell you that I wasn’t angry at him, but I can’t.  I was angry. I was disappointed and I felt like I hadn’t done my job as a parent.  I felt like somehow I had failed.  But then I realized…yes, I have worked with him on losing…yes, I have worked with him on being a good sport…but I just simply needed to review.  More teaching…more training…more praying. That’s all.  It wasn’t failure on either of our parts.

At bedtime that night, we reviewed my son’s value beyond the hits, catches, pitches…beyond the strikes, balls, errors, and outs.  We reassured him that what mattered more than any of those things was what was in his heart.  God lives in his heart and makes him special and loves him no matter what…and so did we!  We also informed him that he would be writing an apology letter to the other team as well as to his own team for showing poor sportsmanship.  And we added “Failing Well” for our next family meeting’s agenda.

Teaching our kids to fail well is tough, but it’s also our job.  Training our kids to accept defeat, make mistakes, and move on should start early and never stop.  No matter how old they are, our kids are always needing introductory courses as well as refresher courses on everything–and I mean everything!  In fact, we just had to have a Hand-Washing Seminar review at our last family meeting.  🙂  So failure needs to be our focus once again.

Because in life, it’s not a matter of “will our kids fail” but “when will our kids fail.”  And we want them to grow in confidence in who they are and in who God created them to be so they will continue to not only step up to the plate, but also swing the bat.

Here are some practical ways to teach kids to fail well…

  1. playing board games or kick ball as a family so they have opportunities to win and lose.
  2. having them color outside the lines.
  3. building blocks together and knocking them over.
  4. celebrating when they at least try.
  5. encouraging them to try something new.
  6. Building something together and then making improvements on it.
  7. laughing together over silly mistakes.
  8. watching our own anger level when mistakes are made–remember to teach more and yell less.
  9. asking “What did you learn from this?”
  10. saying “Uh oh.  Let’s try again.”
  11. saying “I’m so proud of you for trying.”
  12. Asking “What can you do differently next time?”

Lord, you are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. (Psalm 86:15).  Fill us with compassion and mercy when our kids make mistakes. Help us to be slow to anger and quick to teach and love.  And even when they may fail, remind us that Your love and faithfulness never does.

Here’s to building better families together-
Christine

When Your Child Asks: “What’s My Purpose in Life?”

Every day, I walk my son to the corner for school.  We chat about the weather and make observations about nature around us.  And I always tell him how much I love him and pray for him.  It’s the same prayer I pray every day and it’s the same prayer I pray for him at bedtime:

“May God bless you and keep you safe and healthy.  May He watch over you and guide you and help you to make kind and loving choices for yourself and for others.  And may you always know that you have a very special purpose in life and so does everyone else.”

Today, as I put my arm around him and prayed as we walked, he asked me a question…

“Mommy, what is my purpose in life?”

I’ve prayed that prayer for him every single day this school year and this is the first time he has asked me that question.  And it’s a good one…one for all of us to ask ourselves.

I said, “Well, God will reveal specifically how He wants to use you with the gifts He has purposely given you as you grow older, but while you’re waiting, you are called to love God, love yourself, and love others.  And in fact, that calling on your life will never change.  No matter how old you are or what you do with your life or what your circumstances are, you can always love God, love yourself, and love others.  Isn’t that awesome?”

I’m not sure if he truly understood how awesome that is, but his “Ok” told me that he at least understood a little bit.  After all, he’s only almost 9 and it took me almost 40 years of my life to truly understand that.

But today, at least a seed was planted.  And I just pray it grows as he grows.  And as life gets messy and confusing and uncertain at times, I pray that he will always know with certainty his very special purpose in this world…loving God, loving himself, and loving others…no matter what!  And that will bring him contentment and even joy in all things.

What a great lesson for all of us.

Lord, Your greatest commandment to us is to love You with all our hearts and with all our souls and with all our minds and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. (from Matthew 22:37-39) That is our greatest purpose in life.  We can all do this no matter how old we are, what life stage we are in, or what our crazy circumstances bring.  Help us to love You, love the person we see in the mirror, and love the people you have placed right in front of us.  And give us wisdom to teach our kids to do the same.  

Here’s to building better families together!
Christine

When Our Kids Complain

My oldest complains about everything.  Seriously, we could tell him that we’re going to a park or going out for ice cream and he would find something to complain about.  It’s really frustrating.

Of course, I want my son to be able to express his opinions about how he feels.  Of course, I want him to know that it’s OK to have thoughts and feelings that are different than everyone else.  Of course, I want him to know that it’s OK to not want to do something or go somewhere.

But complaining about everything was getting exhausting.

When kids are babies, they “complain” by crying or throwing a fit when they have a need or don’t get their way, and it’s our job to teach them to use their words instead of melting down.

We guide them by giving them their “lines.”

“Mommy, could I please have more juice?” 

Not that they will get more juice, but we are at least giving them the right words to say to be kind and respectful when they make their request.

When kids can use their words as they get older, then what?  Do we still give them their lines?

Absolutely, we do!  Not only do we give them the words, we give the tone at which to say those words too, right?

The tone we use means just as much, if not more, than the words we say.  

So when my son does complain about going to get ice cream (as crazy as it is), instead of getting angry and frustrated at him like I used to, I calmly and respectfully say:

  • “Can you try to say it again in a respectful way?”  This gives him an opportunity to think about how he is sharing his opinion if he didn’t share it respectfully with his words and tone the first time.   I will happily give him his lines if he can’t think of what to say or how to say it.
  • “I understand that getting ice cream may not be your favorite thing to do right now.”  This validates his feelings.
  • “And you don’t have to want to come.”  This respects his opinion and lets him know that I’m not out to change it.
  • “But you are a member of our family and we love you, so you will be joining us but you don’t have to eat ice cream or have fun if you don’t want to.”  (Can you believe that I actually have said these words???)  This again respects his opinion not to eat ice cream.  This also reinforces our unconditional love for him and our desire to spend time with him no matter what!

We may not always understand why our kids complain about things that don’t need to complain about or why they have the opinions that they have.  And we sure can’t make our kids want to do something.

In fact, it’s not our job to change our kids’ opinions at all. It’s our job to respect their opinions and to teach them how to share their opinions in a way that respects us.

And more importantly, it’s our job to show them that we love them unconditionally and want to be with them…even if they complain and don’t want to eat ice cream with us.

Lord, thank you for the gift of our words and our ability to express them in a way that honors You.  May we always model gracious words to our children.  May they be like a honeycomb–sweet to their souls.  May they bring health to their bodies (Proverbs 16:24).  Remind us that we say matters.  Guide us in teaching our kids about the power of their own words and expressing their own opinions without complaining but with respect and with love.  

**And by the way, when I’ve learned to respect my son’s opinion and not try to change it, my son has eaten ice cream with us every single time.  🙂

Here’s to building better families–
Christine

14 Ways to Love Your Wife Like a Girlfriend Again

Ok husbands…can we be real for a moment?  How have you changed since you got married?  Do you still woo your wife with cards, letters, flowers?  Do you still shower her with love and affection?  Or has kids, bills, stress, and life gotten in the way a bit?

We get it!

Well, here at Real Life Families, we believe very strongly in the power of teamwork in families.  And the best way to build a strong family team is to first build a strong marriage team.

Starting February 1st, we are inviting all husbands to join us in a 14-Day Challenge to love your wife like a girlfriend again by bringing some fun and romance back to your marriage in easy, practical ways.  If you’re not sure what that looks like, don’t worry.  Every day leading up to Valentine’s Day, we will send you a short email with a fun idea!

Let’s focus on our wives and build stronger families!

THIS CHALLENGE HAS ALREADY BEGUN.  WE WILL DEFINITELY DO THIS AGAIN NEXT YEAR.  IN THE MEANTIME, YOU CAN SIGN UP TO RECEIVE OUR WEEKLY EMAILS WITH PARENTING TIPS INCLUDING OUR POWERFUL TEAMWORK PARENTING APPROACH.

SIGN UP HERE!

 

14 Ways to Love Your Husband Like a Boyfriend Again

How different were you to your husband before you got married?  Admit it…weren’t you just a little bit more flirty…easy-going…fun when you were a dating couple?

Well, Real Life Families is all about helping families work as a team and we believe that a strong family team begins with a strong marriage team.  But let’s be REAL for a minute–sometimes our husbands can take a back seat to the craziness of life–taking care of our kids, and the house, and the meals, and the shopping, and the laundry, and the laundry, and the laundry.  Is it just me?  Or do you ever look at your husband at the end of the day and think…”And you are???”

Well, no more (at least not during this 14-day challenge!)  Let’s focus on our man.  Let’s show him a little bit more love and attention.  Let’s take a little time to be more flirty and giddy and agreeable and available!  Let’s take some time to build that marriage team…14 days…14 emails…14 fun and practical ideas are coming soon!

 

 

THIS CHALLENGE HAS ALREADY BEGUN.  WE WILL DEFINITELY DO THIS AGAIN NEXT YEAR.  IN THE MEANTIME, YOU CAN SIGN UP TO RECEIVE OUR WEEKLY EMAILS WITH PARENTING TIPS INCLUDING OUR POWERFUL TEAMWORK PARENTING APPROACH.

SIGN UP HERE!