Save Your Sanity during Quarantine

Don’t get me wrong…I’m ALL about family time and as a parenting coach and educator, I always stress to every parent I meet the importance of spending more time with their kids and as a family. Now is a critical time to build those strong relationships with our kids and create memories as a family, but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard. And being together all day every day under the circumstances we’ve all been through makes it even harder.  But we do the important things even when they are hard, right?

During these close-quarter times, let me share a tool that has saved my family and my sanity…The Rewind Tool.

Because our kids mess up a lot, I mess up a lot, and my husband messes up A LOT (just kidding, honey). In all seriousness, we all mess up a lot. Let’s just be real about that.  And when are all together so much…so, so much…the frequency of the mess ups seem to be much, much for frequent.  Whether it’s a snotty attitude or spilled milk or saying the word “butt crack” one more time even when they’ve been asked repeatedly not to say it, the mistakes are endless and boundless.

But it’s how we handle ourselves in those moments that matters.  In some cases, like the spilled milk, it’s just a simple: “No big deal. Grab a rag and some vinegar spray and clean it up please.”  (little kids might need some teamwork here, but it’s never too early to teach them the responsibility of cleaning up a mess they made).  But with the snotty attitude or the disobedient “butt crack” remark, you have some choices to make.  You can either let them turn it into a big power struggle followed by issuing consequences with fighting and yelling…or you can simply do The Rewind Tool.

The Rewind Tool is POWERFUL.  It’s simple.  It’s on-the-spot training which gives me, my kids, and my husband a chance to try again…to practice getting something right without making it a huge issue.

For the snotty attitude, it’s just a simple:  “Can you please rewind and try that again with respect?” Sometimes it takes more than one rewind, but I don’t give up because it’s the character trait of respect at stake. So I stay calm and keep saying: “Try that again with respect, please.”

When they get it right, I can say: “Thank you for speaking to me respectfully. Remember, we are the Leebs and that’s how we treat each other.”

But kids aren’t the only ones who need The Rewind Tool to get things right.  Parents do too.  One time, my oldest and I let our discussion raise to a level of argument.  We both said some disrespectful and uncalled-for things.  We were both at fault.  He stormed upstairs and slammed his door.  Immediately, I knew that I shouldn’t have escalated like I did.

I gave us both some space and time to cool off and then I went upstairs and said:  “You know what? Neither one of us handled ourselves in a respectful way. Leebs treat others with respect and we didn’t do that, and I’m very sorry for my part.  We let an argument happen instead of our normal discussion. How about we both rewind and try again so we both can get it right…so we both can listen better…so we both can respect what the other person is saying. Sound good?”

One of the best rewind moments in our family to date.

My authority wasn’t lost and our relationship was restored.

During this time of quarantine, The Rewind Tool continues to show its strength and effectiveness…saving our sanity and more importantly, preserving our relationship with our kids.

The Rewind Tool allows our kids to get things right. It allows them the grace to have a do-over. It gives them the opportunity to practice the life skills and character traits that we want them to learn. It frees us from constant punishments or arguments and allows us to be the teacher that our kids need us to be. Because they can try again and again and sometimes again and again to get it right…and so can we!

Lord, thank you that in parenting, there is grace. Thank you that this Rewind Tool reminds us that Your mercies are new for us every day and we can do the same for our kids every day and even every moment. Bring us peace in our parenting as we give our kids the opportunity to be more like You even in times when they mess up. 

Here’s to building better families together–
Christine

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

Respecting the “No”

The Phrase Tool is an important tool in parenting. Using the same short phrases over and over to teach a character trait can help us be able to be more effective in our parenting. Instead of reaching for the right words to say or instead of using long lectures, we can just use the same words and phrases over and over and then take time to practice what they mean.

  • “Gentle hands, please.”
  • “Use kind words, please.”
  • “Work as a team, please.”

“Respect the ‘No'” is a phrase we have had to use a lot lately in our home.

Why is “No” such a tough word for our kids to hear? Sometimes when I say “No” to my kids, you would think that I told them that I was going to pluck every hair off of every square inch of their bodies with tweezers.

Why is “No” so difficult for kids and how can we help them respect it more without melting down and losing their minds…and making us lose ours?

Here are 5 ways to use the Teamwork Parenting Approach to teach our kids to “Respect the ‘No'”:

  1. Use “No’s” Sparingly:  I’m certainly not a “Yes” parent, but I do watch how often I say “No”, and I also make sure that I’m not just saying “No” because it’s an inconvenient or annoying request.  Sometimes I will go out of my way to say “Yes” more often even if it is just in saying:  “Yes, in a little while…” instead of “No, not right now.”  See what I did there?
  2. Respect their “No”:  When we respect our kids “No’s” and their own personal boundaries, they will be more likely to respect ours.  When they ask us kindly to stop doing something, we should stop.  In fact, we can also say:  “You’re right.  I’m going to Respect your ‘No’.” What a great example we can set!
  3. Help kids recognize the different kinds of “No’s”.  The two phrases we use to teach our kids the different kinds of “No’s”are: “Never No’s” and the “Not-Right-Now No’s”.  A “Never No” can be more difficult to overcome, because what they are asking for will most likely never happen and that can be devastating to a child…even when their request is to run out into the street naked.    A “Not-Right-Now No”, however, is a great “No” to get because our kids will be able to do what they’ve asked to do…eventually.  Learning the difference will help them discover that they actually receive more “Not-Right-Now No’s” than they do “Never No’s.”
  4. Teach coping strategies:  With a “Never No”, you can empathize with them and teach them strategies to cope:  taking deep breaths, asking for a hug, getting some space in their room, washing their face, getting a drink of water, etc.  With a “Not-Right-Now No”, focus on the wonderful opportunity they have to exercise the skill of patience.  We even keep a Patience List  with some ideas of constructive things they can do with their time while they’re waiting.  We even say: “Thank you for Choosing Patience (another phrase we use often).  What did you choose to do with your time while you waited?”
  5. Teach them what to say:  Time and time again, “Respecting the ‘No'” is on our weekly Family Meeting agenda because our kids need constant practice in what to say when they hear a “No”.  We will give them this example:  “You ask your brother to play and he says ‘No’.  How can you Respect his ‘No’?”  We listen to their ideas and lead them to say something like:  “Ok, I’m disappointed.  I’m going to play something else.  Let me know if you change your mind.”

No matter what kind of “No” our kids receive from us, from others, or from this world, let’s equip them with some powerful strategies to handle to be able to “Respect the No.”

Lord, you ask us to wait often.  We don’t always get what we want when we want it and neither should our children. Remind us that we are not only teaching our kids about living in this world when we teach them to Respect the “No’s”, but we are also teaching them about living a life of faith.  We are not just teaching them to live under our loving authority, but we are teaching them to live under Yours—respecting Your “Never No’s” and “Not-Right-Now No’s” too. 

Here’s to building better families together-

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