We Use Teamwork Words

Our words matter.  Whether we want to admit it or not, the power of our own words matters in our homes.  Our kids are listening.  The scary part is just how closely that they are listening.

Just to give you an idea…the other day, my oldest son was working on his Math Stars homework.  I heard him say to my husband:  “Daddy, I don’t like to do this work.  It’s like: ‘Great! You’re smart in math…let me give you more work to do!” 

I just chuckled in the other room because I had said that exact thing…word for word…about his Math Stars homework the other day.  And my son was listening.  I only said it once and yet he could quote me WORD FOR WORD!  And he said these words as if they were his own.  I could share more stories like this…could you?

That’s exactly what happens.  Our words become their words. 

The Modeling Tool is so important in our parenting. We must model the kind and respectful words we want our kids to use. When we talk to our spouse…when we talk to our friends…when we interact with strangers…when we make comments, observations, and pretty much say anything about anything, they are listening…and learning!

In our home, we focus a lot on being a team.  That’s why we created the Teamwork Parenting Approach. We want our kids (and every kid) to have a sense of belonging in family.  We want them to value unity and togetherness.  And we are well aware that this starts with our words!

Any change in our homes that we desire to make must start with our words.  First and foremost, words of prayer.  That’s how true change will happen.  Then, we must be mindful of the words we speak on a daily basis.  If we want our kids to speak life, our words need to speak life.  If we want our kids to speak kindness, love, respect, compassion, joy, and peace, our words need to do the same.

We want more teamwork in our home, so we model Teamwork Words.    Teamwork words are always welcome in the Leeb home.  And through the Modeling Tool, we intentionally use them.  And our kids are learning to use them too.  That’s just how it works.

And that’s just the power of our words.  Our words matter!

Lord, death and life are in the power of our tongues. (Proverbs 18:21)  Let us speak words of life.  Set a guard over our mouths, Lord; keep watch over the door of our lips. (Psalm 141:3)  Give us wisdom to use words that reflect You to our children. 

Here’s to building better families together–
Christine

The 5 P’s for Family Meetings

“That’s it!  Family Meeting RIGHT NOW!”  This is how our Family Meetings used to come about.  They were mainly a we-can’t-take-this-anymore type of meeting where we basically ripped them a new one.  Our Family Meetings used to be more out of desperation for control in the chaos than anything else.  Now they are more intentional.

Over the past few years, as we have developed the Teamwork Parenting Approach, we have been implementing The Family Meeting Tool by having regularly scheduled Family Meetings.  Every Monday night after dinner, bath, and pajamas, we gather around the kitchen table for a little snack and our weekly team meeting.

They have been so helpful and powerful–especially with the 4 P’s we focus on each time to help our team…our family…be stronger…

  1. PRAISE:  It’s so important for any strong team to focus on what they’re doing well.  This is simply a time to focus on the positive things about our family.  We all take turns sharing what we’ve enjoyed doing together, what we feel has been going smoothly, or any ways we have improved as a family over the past week.
  2. PLAN:  Strong teams take time to plan ahead.  Families who know what’s coming up in their week can work better to get the things done that need to get done.  We share any events, birthdays, special occasions, school outings, or activities. We also make a point to have one special family time on the calendar. I truly believe that the key to a strong family is spending time together.  Oh and we also share with our kids when we have a date night coming up too.  It’s so important for our kids to know that we invest in our marriage and make it a priority.
  3. PRACTICE:  All great teams need practice.  Our families need practice too. I keep a Family Meeting Agenda sheet on our refrigerator so that any family member can jot things down that our family needs to practice.  Some recent items on our agenda? Respecting the “No”, Things I Can and Can’t Control, Listening and Obeying, What To Do and NOT Do While We Are on the Phone, What To Do Instead of Losing Your Cool, etc.  It’s been incredibly helpful to give our kids these tools in advance during calm times instead of feeling out of control and resorting to anger and yelling during the crazy times.  It’s really about being more proactive instead of reactive.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been able to keep my cool and say: “Remember what we practiced at our Family Meeting. How can you Respect her ‘No’?”  And then they remember that they have the tools to Respect her ‘No’ by saying “Ok, I’m disappointed you’re not going to play.  If you change your mind, I will be in the basement playing something else” because we’ve practiced it together in advance!  How awesome is that?  Giving kids the tools they will need to resolve conflict, stand up for themselves, solve problems, and respect others will help them in our family teams, but will also help them in life!
  4. PRAY:  A family who prays together…stays together. I love it when my team…my family…holds hands around the table and prays over our week.  We take time to pray over the skills we practiced, over any requests the kids have, and we always pray that the Leeb family would be God’s love and light in this world.
  5. PLAY: I also believe strongly that a family who PLAYS together…stays together. After each family meeting, we play a game together. It’s a great way to end our meeting–laughing and having fun together.

After our meeting is over, we always huddle together, put our hands in the middle and say: “Go Leebs!”  Then we do a big team hug.

Our meetings aren’t perfect.  Sometimes we’ve had to end them early and send the kids to bed and try again the next night, but we keep going.  We keep meeting.  We keep gathering together as a team each and every week.

If you’d like to get started on your own Family Meetings, here are a few quick tips:

  • Let your kids know that these meetings are a chance to make your family a better and stronger team.
  • Start small–especially while your kids are small. You can start with just 3 P’s–Praise, Pray, and Play and build from there.
  • Assure your older kids that they will have a chance to share what concerns they have too.
  • Set up clear and firm expectations and consequences for behavior at the meetings in advance.
  • Keep the meeting on the same day and time each week if possible.
  • Keep it short, light-hearted, and as encouraging as possible.
  • Always have a snack.  LOL!

Lord, Your word reminds us that where two or more are gathered together in Your name, You are with them. (Matthew 18:20) Provide the opportunity for our families to gather in Your name and unite, talk, share, laugh, learn, and grow to be all that You created them to be.

Here’s to building better families together–

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 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

The Giving Box

Several years ago in our family, we started The Giving Box. What is The Giving Box, you ask?  I’m so glad you asked!

Raise your hand if you have too much stuff.  Me, me, me!  It seems that no matter what I do, I just can’t keep up with all the stuff in our house. Every gift-giving holiday brings a little anxiety as we don’t have room for the stuff we already have…especially toys.  We are so blessed but too many things can feel burdensome–especially when I think about those who have nothing or very little.

I want our kids to understand how blessed they are. I want them also to understand that having more and more things is not what this life is about.  If we have abundance or too much of something, we should give it to those who could use it or appreciate it more than we do…enter The Giving Box.

Every December, we put out a Giving Box (plastic tub or laundry basket) and see how many times we can fill it with things we can donate.  Last year, we filled it four times!  I’m challenging my kids to fill it more times this year.

Teaching our kids to have a heart to give doesn’t take much…

  • always having $1 handy for the Salvation Army bell ringer.
  • bringing a homeless man a meal.
  • participating in toy drives, book drives, or canned food drives.
  • bringing chicken soup to a sick friend.
  • putting $1 in the offering plate at church.
  • volunteering at a soup kitchen.

But teaching our kids to have a heart to give does take us.  We have to be the ones to set the example.  We have to be the ones to place an importance on giving.  We have to give first and then they will follow our lead.

You can work as a team with your family to teach the beauty of giving to others too.  Giving is about love, thoughtfulness, and compassion.  Giving is about understanding that there is a world outside of ourselves that our kids can be a part of helping.  Giving is about God in motion.  We are His hands and feet and so when we teach our kids to give, not only are we modeling teamwork, but we are modeling a calling to give as we are able.

How to use The Giving Box with your family:

  1. Get a box, laundry basket, or large tub or storage bin. Attach a sign that says “The Giving Box.”
  2. Bring your family together and share how blessed that you are as a family to have each other and that people are more important than things.
  3. Let them know that together, as a team/family, you are going to see how many times you can fill The Giving Box with things from around the house.
  4. Choose a local charity where you will be donating your items. Research the charity together so you know how your things are going for the greater good.
  5. Work as a team to go through every closet, every cabinet. Clean out toys, books, clothes, shoes, hats, gloves, coats, pots, pans…everything you own should be gone through!
  6. Keep track of how many times the box is filled and do a family hug each time you’ve filled it.

The Giving Box–what a great way to get rid of things in your home, bless others, and be blessed as you work as a team to give!

THE GIVING BOX SIGN AND DIRECTIONS
Lord, you say to give as we are able.  You say to give generously.  Open our hearts to the ways you want us to give generously using the gifts you have given us.  Show us ways we can use our time, our resources, and even our prayers to help others.  And may our acts of giving reflect your light and love onto our children so that their hearts would beam with the desire to give.

Here’s to building better families–

Christine

 

 

 

Here’s to building better families-

Christine

3 Reasons Our Kids Need Routine

Kids need routine.  I’m not talking about planning out every single minute of their day to the point where you rob your kids of all creativity, freedom, or spontaneity.  I’m talking about having a plan that kids can follow during certain times of the day in order to help them be more productive and help your life be less crazy.

During the school year, it is especially important for kids to have routines.  In our home, we have a morning routine, an after-school routine, and a bedtime routine.  We have checklists everywhere to make sure that they know exactly what to do.

Here’s why routine is so important…

  1. Routine creates security:  When we do the same things over and over in the same way, kids feel more secure.  That’s why little ones ask us to read the same books over and over and over and over and over.  I had Brown Bear, Brown Bear memorized because no matter how many times I read it, my kids wanted me to read it again and again.  There is security in familiarity.  Routines help the day become familiar.  And kids become more confident when they know what to expect and when they can predict what comes next.
  2. Routine encourages responsibility:  It is important for kids to know what is expected of them.  Whether it’s chores or homework or what they need to do at bedtime, establishing a routine allows them to take the responsibility for getting the job done.
  3. Routine fosters independence:  It is not our job to do everything for our kids–after all, we do want them to grow up to be self-sufficient, responsible adults.  But it is our job to teach them what to do, how to do it, and then let them go from there.  We want them to eventually be able to do everything without our guidance.  And routine helps.  With a solid routine in place, kids feel more empowered to manage their own time and their own responsibilities.

So, how do you create strong routines in your home?

  • First of all, identify “problem” areas or times of day where your family would benefit from a routine.
  • Write down everything that you would like for your kids to do.
  • Create a short, simple checklist (use pictures for younger kids) to help get their routine in order.
  • Read through the checklist with your kids to check for understanding.  You can also ask them if they have anything to add (this makes them feel important getting to share their thoughts and opinions).
  • In the beginning, have them practice going through the checklist with your guidance.  Remind them to look at their checklist.  “Have you done everything on your after-school checklist?”  Check their “work”.
  • Once they have learned the routine, you can give them some space.  You may need to remind or encourage them every once in a while.  And by the way, it’s OK to let your kids forget things from time to time–there will be natural consequences–especially when it comes to school work.  Or for frequent forgetfulness, you may need to introduce a small, fair consequence to boost that responsibility factor.

Hopefully, with practice, you will be able to watch your secure, responsible, independent children flowing through their routines and checking things off their checklists.  And eventually, you will find that your kids will know their routine so well, they won’t even need the checklists anymore.

And then, maybe…just maybe, you will have more time to just sit back, relax, and enjoy a brownie!  🙂 Ha.

Here’s to building better families-

Christine

Family Fun Summer Challenge

Truly, they may drive you crazy–as my kids already are and summer break has only just begun—but taking time to connect with your family and have fun together can make a big difference.  My kids love our “Family Fun Summer Surprises” as we call them.  We write them on our calendar once a week and don’t even tell them anything about them.  We make them wonder what we are going to do and where we are going to go.  Building memories together is what it’s all about and Real Life Families wants to help your family do it too.

Starting June 6th, we will send you a short and sweet email once a week for 10 weeks throughout the summer with a super simple family fun idea to do each week.  That’s it.

Are you ready to connect with your family this summer?

Sign up for our Summer Date Night Challenge too!