Follow Your Baby’s Lead

We’re talking about babies. Try not to worry about failing as a mom. Babies have built in triggers to make sure that we know what they need. So mom, just listen to your baby and enjoy this special time in your child’s life.

Video: Listen To Your Baby

Video Transcription


It’s time to talk about babies. Babies are so awesome. They’re so little for such a short time, and you know as a young mom I know I was really nervous; am I doing it all right, am I okay, and really trying to meet all of my little precious daughters needs and do it just perfectly. For one, you’ll never do it perfectly, but I really encourage you to just sit back and relax. Babies naturally get what they need.

They cry, I mean they have built in radar’s to make sure that they get what they need. They’ll cry until they get what they need. That is their number one alarm that you can listen and watch for.

So, the other thing that if you’re just wanting to do it all right, the best thing you can do is look deeply into your infants eyes, and do lots of facial contact, lots of eye contact, and lots of physical touch with the baby, and then just follow your babies lead, and you won’t fail as a mom.

You look into the eyes, you do physical touch, and you follow that babies lead, respond to the cries, and I know there’s a lot out there about sleep training etc, and you’re not going to be responding all the time to a babies cry, but under two years of age it’s really important to respond to those cries, because your child is telling you they have a need.

After two years then we get into some wants and we definitely need to set limits against wants. Under two years of age children basically just have needs. They need eye contact, that physical communication, and touch for bonding. They need to be fed, they need to be cleaned, and the need to have vocabulary given to them.

So, anything that your baby’s asking for under two just a really good rule of thumb, give it. Enjoy that infant, it won’t be little and cute forever.

Kids, Manners, and Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time we set aside each year to step back and count our blessings. This is a lot easier to do when our kids use manners! I recently met with a mom in the seattle area for parent coaching; she asked a great question: “How do I teach manners?” She shared she had read a blog that modeling is the best way to teach manners. She took the words right out of my mouth! But I also added.

  1. Praise (when warranted) and give choices. Praising your child when they use their manners is also a great way to guide them. Catch your child doing it correctly, and they will actually increase doing the behavior that is being praised. It is so fun to practice this at home for one week. Give choices instead of commands for saying “hello”, “goodbye” or other manners. Here is an example:A Parent and child walk into Aunt Cindy’s house for Thanksgiving. Hugs are exchanged between adults and then all attention is on the child.Parent: “Bobby, do you want to give a hug or say hello to Aunt Cindy?”Child: “Hug” Child hugs aunt.Parent: “Good decision!”

    For children who are a bit shy, the above scene could be stressful. Be sure to offer choices that will be easy for your child. Such as “Do you want to give your eyes to Aunt Cindy or give her a high five?”

    You could even say, “Do you want to say hello or have me say it for you?”  This is good for kids who freeze under pressure.

    Here is a handout to help you deal with the “what ifs” when using the tool of choices.

  2. Practice. Many times children don’t use their manners because there has been little experience using them. Many families don’t pass food around in a typical “family meal style” so when big family meals happen, they simply don’t know how. Take some time leading up to Thanksgiving Day, practicing the key manners you want your child to use. Here are some examples:
    • Saying “Hello/Goodbye”
    • Saying “Thank you”
    • Passing food to another person at the table.
    • Taking turns talking at the table.

    Be sure you make the practice fun. It is very important your child gets a “sweet” taste in their mouth from manners. It will be soooo much easier than telling and yelling!

  3. Give strategic attention. Kids need their parent’s attention about 1 minute per year old. For example:  If you have a 4 year old, give them positive attention every 4 minutes. It is a simple as saying, “I like how tall you made your tower” or “I like how many colors you are using to make your picture”

The key is to give the attention on your terms and consistently – or mark my words, they will DEMAND your attention and it will not be positive.

Here is another great resource from Love and Logic.

Sometimes Love Doesn’t

I’m reading a great book called “Love Does” by Bob Goff. Bob outlines how to love people through what you do, not what you say. As a Christian, this hits home because, let’s face it, throughout history Christians’ words don’t match up to their actions.

I also think that part of the reason this message is interesting to me, is because like many parents, I am a “doer”. I have a tendency to want to be involved, and “fix” things. Admittedly, I’m a recovering Helicopter Parent, and often struggle to not “do” too much as a mother.
The book really connects me to the action person in me who likes to take care of everything and serve those around me. That is how I love. BUT when it comes to children and teens, this is not a good quality, because as Jim Fay teaches, it sends the message that my children can’t make it in life without me. Which in turn decreases their self-concept (here’s a great self-concept product).

So what’s a mom to do?

In the video “Simple Parenting Strategies for raising great kids in complicated times” by Jim and Charles Fay, Charles outlines when it is OK to rescue in two circumstances:
  1. When the situation is dangerous. Be careful here when you are evaluating the danger. Many recovering helicopter parents like myself, will twist the assessment of the danger – “If he doesn’t turn in his math assignment, he will be living on the streets.” That’s a little far fetched right? Because actually if he experiences the natural consequences (poor grade, etc…) he will learn from the mistake and have a better chance of not living on the streets. A real danger is more in line with – when a child is young, you simply don’t let the natural consequences of running into the street happen.
  2. When your child/teen/ young adult is acting responsibility.  IF your child is being responsible with remembering their homework, but forgets it once in a great while, you CAN bring it to them at school. IF your young adult is doing well in college, not using drugs, has a job AND is respectful to you, etc… let them live with you or help them buy a car, etc.
In the same video Charles outlines two reasons NEVER to rescue a child, teen, or young adult:
  1. If they are irresponsible in THEIR life.
  2. If the child demands you help them.
So the book “Love Does” is great! But I think there are times when “Love Doesn’t”
Sometimes as parents we have to step back and allow our kids to experience the hard consequences of life, and as a result they learn they are capable! The worst message we can send is “you can’t make it in life without me.”
Also, remember how you communicate while stepping back is important! Be sure to use a lot of empathy, with “I” statements and choices such as, “This is hard, I need you to move out, it feels to me that is time. What works best for you to move by the end of the week or the end of the month?”
How can you let Love “do”, by NOT DOING this week?

Back to School Parenting: PRIDE Skills for More QUALITY Time

In this video, we are going to talk about PRIDE parenting skills. It’s a handy acronym that can help you gain more quality time with your child.

Video: How to Have More Quality Time with Your Child

Video Transcription


So, today I’m going to talk to you about a really great tool that you can use if you have a child in kindergarten through maybe third or fourth grade, and I know we’ve talked about it before in written blogs, and it’s called Parent Child Interaction Training, and it’s great. It’s a great resource, and we generally use PCIT, or Parent Child Interaction Training, the skills that I’m going to outline in just a few minutes with kids that are between two and seven.

But I’m going to give you a little twist to it, because now that we’re back to school, and back to school for kids, or actually back to school for families means kids are in a more structured time away from parents, and most of the time parents also go back to a more rigorous work schedule. Which, amps up just like the, the… you’re all spread out, and stressed, and family dinners aren’t happening as consistently, bed times are you know a little faster, there’s less time together.

So, I’m going to give you some handy hints about how you can really increase the quality of time, because you are naturally decreasing your quantity of time, because kids are in school all day. So, handy hint for kids that are really in that structured education time, and you probably want to back off it third or fourth grade, but… so here’s the tools.

These tools are called Pride Skills, and what you want to do is you want to be connected with them for five minutes every day. You can be strategic and use these skills in the car, or you can do it in a special playtime, just one-on-one, maybe when your tucking your child in at night time, you know on the bed, or maybe on a small table in their room, maybe it’s right after school on the way home and they have a snack, and you do some special playtime.

Here’s how it goes. Here are the Pride Skills. The first communication tool that you’re going to use to connect deeper with your child is praises. You want to use labeled specific praises, “Wow, I like how you made that tower,” if they’re playing with some Lego’s. “I like how you put the red one on top of the green one, and you made it really tall.” Instead of,
“Oh, I like what you made,” or, “I like… Awesome job buddy.” Nope, get more specific, dad. You want to go deep and specific with your praises.

When they’re out on the soccer field instead of saying, “Yeah, great job.”
it’s, “Good job kicking that ball so straight.” If you’re driving away from soccer. You want to actually say what they did in a very specific way. Whether it’s a structured playtime or just in the car uses these skills. So, labeled praises that’s the first letter in our acronym of PRIDE, praise.

Next, reflections. Here’s the thing, kids always hop in the car and they tell you about the day, the ups and the downs, sometimes they don’t even stop in their sentence, “I did this, and we went to the playground, and then I kicked the ball, and then we had a math test,” and they’re just jabbering, and jabbering. That’s a great time for you to reflect.

Say what they say instead of asking a question, because catch yourself, and, or better than that is asses yourself. When you’re in the car and you’re doing question after…”How was school? What’d you do today? What was that? Did you hand in your paper?” All of sudden you’re really in charge and you’re pushing that child to be answering you.

So, so much better to just reflect, “Oh, you were on the playground and played soccer, awesome.” Maybe the child is saying, “I had a math test it was so hard.” All you need to say is, “You had a math test and it was hard.” Now, the older the child is you want to paraphrase, because they might say, “Why are you talking like I’m talking? Quit doing that.” You just need to paraphrase it a little bit more, but young kids love to hear exactly what they say. So, that’s R in our acronym of PRIDE.

The next letter is I, imitating. So, they’re playing with blocks after school, or right before bed, you’re playing with blocks, or the Lego’s. Just do what they do. Sit down with them and play what they want to do following their lead.

The next letter in our acronym of pride is descriptions, D. Describing what they’re doing, because in a few minutes I’m going to tell you what you can’t do, and I’m telling you when you can’t do what I’m going to tell you what you can’t do you will say, “What do I do? How do I fill this space?”
It’s with descriptions. You need to describe what they’re doing, “Oh, you’re putting the red block on top of the blue block, and you made it four high. I really like how tall you made it.” See how you’re describing, and then adding a labeled praise in there.

So, describing what the child is doing really fills the time, because you can’t ask any questions when you’re focusing on following your child’s lead. Every time you ask a question of the child you’re dominating it and you’re also putting some judgment in on it in your conversation with them. So, rule of thumb for special playtime, or that special connection time is no questions, and it’s hard, but descriptions really help to fill that.

Our last letter in the acronym of PRIDE is E for enjoyment or enthusiasm. You want to have that five minutes that you’ve set aside every day to really connect deeply with your child fun, enjoyable. If they’re whining, and crying, and pushing, “I don’t want to do this.” Don’t… Just back off. Give them some space. Give yourself some space, and then come back and use these skills again.

So, again quick little recap praises, reflections, imitating, describing, and enjoying your time with your kids. Using those PRIDE skills, whether it’s a structured playtime or in the car, right after school, or on the way to soccer really will help to deepen your quality of time, because your quantity just got taken away, right? Because of school.

So, enjoy it, and try it. We’ll attach the handout that really explains the PRIDE skills in more detail. Have a good night.