The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: December 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Looking for a new way to energize your budding authors into submission? (Hah - I actually planned that pun for this post!)  Started in 2010, Boomwriter is an engaging creative writing website that has students reading, writing, and assessing content in ways they’ve probably never done before. 
Here's how it works:
  1. The teacher selects or produces his or her own story start, and the students let their imagination and writing skills take over.
  2. One chapter at a time, the students write, read, and then vote on the submissions they like the most. The winning chapter is then added to the story and the process continues.
  3. The teacher determines the total number of chapters to be completed, and when the competition is over a new book is ready to be published
In Bloom’s Taxonomy of cognition, the highest levels of thinking and learning are “Creating” and “Evaluating.” BoomWriter guides students to do both... and have fun in the process!

Teachers also have the option of providing instruction for students in the form of “Guiding Notes” prior to the creation of each new chapter.

BoomWriter is standards-based and can be used for “in action” practice of specific genres (from Science Fiction to Drama), and even for test preparation: collaboratively creating a top-scoring essay.

NOTE TO PARENTS AND HOME-SCHOOLERS: BoomWriter is extremely safe for your children. The site is password protected for teachers and students, and only the teacher is able to have direct communication with the students (for the purpose of instruction). Students’ individual identities are protected by the avatar that they create, and this allows them to have a persona without compromising their identity. All student chapter submissions are screened by the teacher before being submitted for the peer voting process.

If I were still teaching 7th grade language arts, I'd definitely use this program to motivate my students.

And did I mention this is a FREE website?  They make their money by selling the books that kids create.  What fun!  I can also see this being used in other classrooms to satisfy the writing across the curriculum requirement.  The possibilities are endless!

Watch the video of real teachers using this program with real students: 

Happy Teaching!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

'Tis the Season for ... Poisons!

In order of poisonous interaction: Mistletoe ( The berries can cause excessive salivating, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive urination, heavy breathing, and a fast heart rate.), holly (The berries can cause gastric intestinal distress, vomiting and diarrhea in small children and pets), and poinsettia (The sap around leaves can cause skin irritation and vomiting). These three plants, while holiday staples for decorations, are also poisonous to humans and pets.  The longer these plants sit around in a heated home, the more likely they are to drop leaves and berries. If ingested, call poison control immediately.

It's also the season when parents and other caregivers become preoccupied and don't watch their children as closely as other times of the year.  Here are the nine most common household poisons posted by

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional poisoning results in almost 82 deaths per day in the United States, and an additional 1,941 emergency room visits. Proper storage and handling of poisonous materials is a common-sense approach to safeguarding your family and pets, but do you know all of the poison hazards in your home? Of all the potentially dangerous products in the average home, the following are the 9 most common household poisons:
  1. Medicines – If not kept out of the reach of children, or if not taken as prescribed, common medications in the home can be poisonous. Cold and flu medicines, and analgesics account for a large number of poisonings.
  2. Cosmetics / Personal Care Products – Among children under the age of 6, who account for more than half the cases of unintentional poisonings in the U.S., these products are most commonly involved. Perfumes, nail polish remover, mouthwash, even toothpaste are poison risks for children.
  3. Cleaning Products – Bleach, ammonia, solvents, furniture polish; drain cleaners, oven cleaners, lye and detergents all need to be stored properly and kept out of children’s reach and away from pets.
  4. Pesticides – When treating the home for pests, it is important to take care in what areas are treated and to observe the label instructions very closely. Rodent poisons should never be placed within reach of children or pets, or in food storage areas. Always wear gloves when handling pesticides.
  5. Paints / Paint Thinners – Whether via fume inhalation, ingestion, or lead poisoning, paints and thinners are potentially hazardous products. Care should be taken to use proper ventilation when using these products.
  6. Plants – Some household plants can be toxic when ingested by pets or small children. Around the holidays, hazards include such common decorative plants as mistletoe, poinsettias and holly.
  7. Small Batteries – The combination of their size and chemical composition makes these miniature batteries, like those used in watches and hearing aids, a serious choke and poisoning risk.
  8. Antifreeze – Can be fatal if swallowed. This common household item is particularly dangerous because it has an attractive smell and taste to pets, and is readily accessible to them if spills are not cleaned thoroughly.
  9. Hydrocarbons – These products include gasoline, kerosene, motor oil, lighter fluid, and lamp oils. They are not only a choke hazard, but pose a risk to the lungs when ingested. Another leading cause of poisoning death in children.
Happy Holidays and Happy Parenting!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What to do when a student dies

Unfortunately, if you've taught long enough, you've encountered the situation when you must return to class the day after a student has died, whether that child was in your class or in a school somewhere else.  For those of you in this sad position, I offer you a synoposis of advice I found around the web:

When the student who has died was in your class or one of your classes this year, it will be a very emotional and difficult time for you and your students. The first days that you come back to class will be very different and emotionally charged. Here are some tips and ideas for you and your students.
* Share your emotions and memories. Make sure that you are the first one to speak in the beginning of the bell that first day back, and always make sure that you are sharing what you are going through with your students. You should be modeling what effective grief looks like.

* Have a new box of soft tissues available.  School-issue boxes aren't very comforting. 
* Sometimes, teachers want to be the "pillar of strength" for their students and think that it will be best to stay strong, not share their feelings or allow themselves to cry in front of the students. It is hard to be emotionally vulnerable in front of your students, but if they do not see you grieving, they will not think it is okay for them to grieve. Sharing what you are thinking and the emotions you are feeling is one of the most important actions that you need to take in those first days back at school.
* Allow the students to write a note or create a memory board.  This will provide closure.  Memory board instructions:
  1. Have long white paper spread out in a hallway or in your classroom
  2. Have colored markers spread out along the paper.
  3. Explain that our memories are important to hold on to after our classmate and friend has died and sometimes it makes you feel better to make a physical representation of those memories.
  4. Allow each student to decorate the paper in any way they want. They can draw pictures, write memories, write a letter to the student that died, or just sign his or her name. Anything appropriate can go on the paper.
  5. When the students are done, ask them what they want to do with the paper. Should it be hung up somewhere in the class? Should it be given to the family? The choice is theirs.
* Go to the funeral and encourage your students to do the same. Every student and teacher should have the opportunity to go to the funeral. It is very important for you, as the student's teacher, to go to the service. It will mean a lot to the family and your surviving students. The opportunity to go to the funeral should also be extended to your class.
* Send home any of the student's work you still have in your graded pile.  Make sure the paper you sends is memorable for some reason and put a personal note at the top.

*Try to resume normal classroom procedure as soon as possible, even on that first day.  The subject matter will help you and your students to go beyond your grieving and into the thoughts about your subject matter.

* You also have the unpleasant task of what to do with that student's desk. If you are in a grade school where the child is in the same desk all day, you might make a simple sign or collage for the desk. If you are in a middle school or high school where students switch classes every bell, you are going to want to discuss with your students if there is anything special they want to do with that desk. Also be aware that the first time you switch seating arrangements will be difficult for some students.

* Never judge a student's grieving process. One of the principles of grief is that every person grieves differently and for a different length of time. As long as your student is grieving in a safe way, the way they're grieving is okay. Some students will never cry and some will not be able to stop crying.  If a student is out of control, send him or her to the guidance office where there will likely be an army of counselors from other schools to help with your students.

* Take care of yourself. Make sure you are talking to someone about what you are feeling and how this death is affecting you. As a teacher, you may want to just focus on your students and how they are doing, but you must take time for yourself. If you find a time when you just cannot teach, go to an administrator and explain how you are feeling; tell them how you are being affected and just need an hour break. They should understand, because everyone will be in the same boat.

Friday, December 16, 2011

On the value of music education ...

Most research shows that when children are trained in music at a young age, they tend to improve in their math skills. One particular study published in the journal Nature showed that when groups of first graders were given music instruction that emphasized sequential skill development and musical games involving rhythmn and pitch, after six months, the students scored significantly better in math than students in groups that received traditional music instruction.  Therefore, Once considered dispensable during budget cuts, music education is back on the agenda at school board meetings in many communities.  Read more studies here - they're truly fascinating:

Given that research and my own firm belief that classical music education increases a child's ability to concentrate and develops coordination, I offer this guest blog from

Studies abound regarding the effects of music on children. From the Mozart Effect to the question of violent lyrics, scientists are working to find out what exactly happens when the brain is exposed to different types of music. Most of the studies are still inconclusive but one thing is certain – music is an integral part of life, and for children, the older they get the more important music becomes. Schools have cut music programs due to budget deficits, so teaching music appreciation to children is often left to the parents. Here are some ideas to help you teach your kids to appreciate music more.
  1. Start early – Studies show that even in infancy music has an impact on the human brain. They have also shown that classical music can lower the blood pressure and calm an upset infant. Singing simple songs to your children is the beginning of music appreciation.
  2. Teach your child to sing – Fun little rhyming songs are very easy for children to learn, even with a very limited vocabulary. They will pick up the words and tune quickly and find that singing is a great way to lift their own spirits.
  3. Music and dance – Expose your kids to different types of music through the avenue of dance. For example check out your local college or university to see if they have a dance series. This can be a wonderful way to show your children how culturally diverse music is, and they will enjoy seeing the different dance forms from a variety of cultures. Dancing to different styles of music is fun and an added bonus is the exercise it provides. You can teach the kids different rhythms as they move their feet to the beat of the music, and you can talk about the different types of music used in the dancing.
  4. Show good music videos – Some kids enjoy watching music videos. There are also music videos that are inspiring, uplifting and just plain entertaining, such as Disney’s Fantasia and Fantasia 2000. Animusic has been featured on PBS and is a company that specializes in unique 3D computer generated music videos. Kids are intrigued by the images they see moving to even the subtlest of musical nuances. Many teachers use these videos to teach about tempo, harmony, rhythm, anticipation and other related concepts.
  5. Introduce your child to an instrument – “If you make friends with an instrument you will have a friend for life.” Many great musicians will attest to this credo. Learning to play an instrument can lead to a life-long love of music. When possible, create opportunities for your child to see a soloist playing her particular instrument for inspiration. Keep in mind that the voice is an instrument also. Voice lessons can bring out a shy singer and work miracles for the tuneless. Always encourage your child even when you must suffer through the squeaks of the strings and squawks of the woodwinds or the wrong notes on the piano. Practice makes pretty good, if not perfect!
  6. Sing in the car – A long trip can be made shorter and more fun by singing. Old standards can be enjoyable and teaching your kids some of the songs you grew up with can also be fun. Try harmonizing and singing to different rhythms. There is a plethora of sing-a-long CD’s and downloads available, so create a travel mix, and not only will your children appreciate the music more, they will also appreciate the fond memories of the family singing together on the trip to Grandma’s house.
  7. Make a date – Many orchestras have children’s programs throughout the year. Take advantage of these opportunities and make a pleasurable date with your child. Dress up, attend the event, then go to lunch or dinner and have a discussion about the music. Find out what your child liked or didn’t like or what had the most impact. High school musicals, local church or community choir events and chamber concerts offer inexpensive alternatives to the more formal orchestra setting. The main thing is to choose an event that you feel your child will enjoy.
So, turn up the volume (just a little!) on the car radio and enjoy the effect on your children!

Happy parenting!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

CPR for Babysitters

Around the holidays, children tend to get into more serious trouble than any other time of year - there are small parts, poisonous plants, and preoccupied parents.  Most parents, I would hope, know the basics of CPR, but does your babysitter when you're out at your Christmas party?  Below is a guest blog post from

You may think that CPR training is not important for a babysitter, who is only going to be taking care of kids for a few hours at a time. This is far from the truth. CPR training is very important for babysitters to have, no matter how infrequent their babysitting jobs and how short the time is that they are in care of the children. Here are five reasons why.
  1. Caregiver – Any caregiver needs to know CPR. Being a caregiver means that you are the person responsible for the well-being of those you care for. In the case of a babysitter, you are responsible for the care and well-being of other people’s children. This is a very weighty responsibility and should be entered into with training that will cover as many different scenarios as possible.
  2. Kids get into trouble – Kids do not fully understand all the dangers around them and seem to manage to find ways to get themselves into dangerous situations, no matter how hard you try to keep them safe. They find their way to water, which could drown them. They swallow things that can make them choke. They ingest things that can be harmful to them. They wrap things around their necks, put bags over their heads and shut themselves in small spaces. When a babysitter has more than one child in her care, at one time, it is especially easy to lose track of the most adventurous one. Even with just one, it is amazing how fast they can disappear, when you turn your back.
  3. Emergencies cannot be predicted – To think that ‘nothing’ is going to happen in the few short hours that a babysitter is caring for children is na├»ve. Although, the risk may be lowered, it still remains. Emergency situations can happen at any time. They only take moments to develop; they cannot be predicted.
  4. Time is of the essence – When a person has stopped breathing and/or their heart is no longer beating, you cannot wait for someone else to arrive; CPR needs to be started immediately. The longer a person’s brain is deprived of oxygen, the lower their chances of being revived and recovering. If a child should require CPR, while in a babysitter’s care, the babysitter is most likely the one who will need to provide it.
  5. The only ‘adult’ in the house – The children are not the only ones, whom a babysitter may need to administer CPR to. Unexpected situations can arise where a babysitter may find themselves giving CPR to a parent, prior to or upon returning to the home. In other cases, it may be a neighbor who is in need of emergency assistance.
CPR training is important general knowledge for everyone once they reach their teenage years and beyond. Emergency situations can arise at any time and in any place. You never know when the sitter will be the only one available to administer CPR.

Here is a link that you can share with your babysitter and use as a refresher for yourself:

Happy parenting!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Really, Mom?

I was just coming into the women's locker room when a mother and her four-year-old daughter were leaving.  Daughter had a pouty mouth and Mom had a furrowed brow.  Neither was happy.  Mom said, "So do you want to spend the rest of the day listening to what Mommy says or spend the rest of the day in your room?  Which one would make you happy?"  Obviously the mother didn't actually look for an answer because when the daughter failed to respond, Mom didn't press her for the reply.  It's no wonder!  If I had the choice of working for Hitler or staying in my room, I'd pick staying in my room!  And I'll bet that poor little girl couldn't even opt for the room scenario.  If she had, I can pretty much guarantee that Mom would yell for her to come downstairs - NOW!  Mom was on the ultimate power trip and daughter was having a very bad day as a result. 

Those of you who have been reading my blog regularly or who had me as a teacher would probably know how to change this from a dictator parent to an effective parent. Right - guided choices.  I don't know what pouty mouth did or didn't do to deserve Mom's wrath, but let's assume she was dawdling, which I see frequently in the locker room.  Mom could have said this:  "We need to hurry so we can pick up your brother on time.  Do you want me to help with your shoes or your shirt?"  Hmmm... Pouty mouth gets a choice, angry mom gets some cooperation, and everyone leaves the  locker room in a much better mood, offering the blogger little fodder for her blog!

This was a classic case of offering an ultimatum rather than a true choice.  What's the difference, you ask?  An ultimatum usually gives the child nothing she can live with (eat spinach or go to bed) when the parent knows which answer will ring the right bell with her.  A guided choice will give the child the information she needs to comply (finish dinner) with the choices that BOTH parent and child can accept (one more spoonful of spinach or sweet potatoes).  Granted, the child may not like either of those choices, so the parent should make sure he or she knows the child's taste before giving a choice like that. 

Parenting isn't easy and it doesn't come with a step-by-step list of instructions, but with a little patience and creativity, offering guided choices will make your life easier.

Happy parenting!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Is your child moody?

One day your child is happily skipping down the street to visit a neighbor.  The next day, she's moping around the house, seemingly apathetic.  Yet another day, she eagerly asks to help make cookies with you.  Is there something wrong with this picture?  Perhaps. 

The first thing you should do is determine a pattern.  Keep a mood calendar using specific words to describe your child's mood.  Use the emotion thesaurus at this website if you need help putting your child's mood into words:  This will help a professional if you need a consultation.

When you plot the pattern, you can see whether you have a problem worthy of a professional intervention or one that you can treat by removing a trigger.  That trigger might be a specific babysitter, a day when your child goes to the other parent, or a certain day of the week when he must stay after for extra help. 

If you have a child who is moody to the point where she causes problems in school, at home, and with her friends, she needs professional help.  Consider the likelihood of drug or alcohol abuse if the moodiness has a sudden onset. 

Also called manic-depression, bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes a person to cycle through abnormally high and low moods. It was once thought to be rare in children, so little attention was paid to the issue. But the latest research shows that not only can bipolar disorder begin very early in life -- as early as age 5, though it typically manifests in kids around the onset of puberty -- it’s much more common than ever imagined. In fact, according to the Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation, the condition is now diagnosed in close to one million children and adolescents in the United States each year.

While a trip to the pediatrician may be the first stop, parents should realize that he or she probably isn’t trained to pick up on the symptoms of bipolar disorder, many of which mimic other more common disorders. Since bipolar has a strong genetic link, they should ask for a referral to a child psychiatrist or a psychiatrist who specializes in bipolar disorder, particularly if they know the illness is present in their family.

Be very careful.  Consider the circumstances around your child's moodiness and try to determine if it's environmental before you consult a physician who may prescribe strong drugs to counteract an alleged physical problem.  After all, parents know their children better than the professional.  Notice your child's habits and see if you can talk through the source of the moodiness before jumping to any conclusions that will result in drastic intervention.

Effective parenting works!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Eight no-fuss ways to get kids to leave the park

Today we have another guest blogger from  I couldn't have said it better myself!

How many times have you been at the park and seen a parent dragging a kicking and screaming kid to the car? They are screaming that they don’t want to go home. It’s no picnic to watch and witness another parent going through this with their child and it’s certainly no fun to go through it yourself. Are you destined to do battle with your child after every trip to the park? What can you do to get your kids to leave the park with no fussing? Check out 8 no-fuss ways to get kids to leave the park. These ways can probably help with leaving other places as well, but we’ll concentrate on the park.
  1. Set expectations: Before going to the park tell your child that you will be walking (or driving) to the park and they will be allowed to play for an hour (or whatever you decide). Let them know that when you say it’s time to go that they will need to get up and leave without fussing so that they will be allowed to come back and play another day. Once you lay out the plan with your child they will be better prepared and no how they are supposed to act when it’s time to leave.
  2. Buy in: Some kids do better if they get to have input in what is happening. You can give them 2 choices and make sure that either choice is good for you. You and the child can either feed the ducks at the pond or play at the park for an hour. Let your child choose and then explain that then that when it’s time to go they won’t throw a fit. Wait for them to agree that they won’t throw a fit when it’s time to go. Some children respond better when they are empowered and don’t feel like they never get to do what they want.
  3. Warnings: No, not the kind of warning that you use to threaten your child, but warnings to let them know that it’s almost time to go. “Okay Johnny, we will be leaving in 15 minutes. Ten more minutes Johnny. Okay Johnny, start cleaning up because we are leaving in 5 minutes.” When the child knows what to expect then they are better able to cope with leaving.
  4. Dangle a carrot: A real carrot is not necessary unless your child just loves to eat carrots. Often time’s kids will throw a fit when leaving the park because they feel like their fun is over. Letting the child know that when we get home we are going to have a cookie and some milk, or we are going to get out the Playdough, is enough to get them excited about leaving instead of dreading it.
  5. Limit the time: Sometimes fussing is more a result of being overly tired than just about leaving. Make sure that you only stay for the amount of time that is appropriate for the age of the child. If the child is under 3 then maybe only stay 30-45 minutes. If the child is only you can extend it to an hour and if they are 5-7 maybe an hour and a half. That’s probably the most a young child can play and not be overly tired at the end.
  6. Positive reinforcement: Give your child a gold star or something else that you come up with when he/she does what she is asked without fussing. Once your child collects 5 stars they will get to do something fun. Have lunch out with Daddy or have a friend over. Make sure that your child knows that they will earn a gold star on their chart if they leave the park without fussing. I would still give them a 10-minute warning just so they can be prepared that their time at the park is coming to an end. Remind them again at the warning that they will earn a gold star for their chart if they leave without fussing.
  7. Avoid being out at naptime: Often children will be less able to deal with the disappointment of leaving if they are ready for a nap. Taking them to the park first thing in the morning when they are fresh is the best time to avoid tantrums when it’s time to leave. It’s still a good idea to let them know how long you will be there and not stay too long as well as giving them a 10-15 minutes warning that the time to go is approaching.
  8. Bring a snack: Some children are more likely to throw fits when they have low blood sugar and are hungry. Sometimes it’s best to build in a snack time to your trip to the park. Let you child play for 30-45 minutes and then have them come over and get a snack. Let them know that after they enjoy their snack that it will be time to go. The snack serves a few different purposes here. First of all you are making sure that their blood sugar is not low when it’s time to go. Secondly, you are giving them a bridge activity between playing and leaving that will give them time to adjust to the idea of leaving. Thirdly, the snack is a fun thing to look forward to so you can say, “Okay, playtime is over, it’s time for a fun snack.” If the snack is indeed fun then the child will look forward to the next thing.
Happy parenting!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Twin Connections

As the mother of twins and a singleton who are now all grown with homes of their own, I can look back fondly and remember all the fun times I had raising my girls.  Gone are the less than memorable moments of cleaning soiled bed linens, midnight croup treatments, boyfriend rejections, and a myriad of other problems.  So, I thought I'd make the lives of the twin parents a bit easier by filtering some websites and links for your review: - Lots of parent-to-parent advice about the day-to-day effort of raising twins.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Twins and More  - Inspirational reading for those times when you know you've added five gray hairs for every waking hour!

Juggling Twins - Well not really, but you get the idea! - Advice from a doctor who is also the mother of twins.  You can't argue with those credentials! - Tons of advice and links to more advice.  If you can't find the answer here, it doesn't exist! - The National Organization of Mothers of Twins clubs.  What? You're not a member?  Start a chapter in your area. - Yes, even twins can have their own special laws, especially if parents want to have their childen separated (or together) in certain school districts.

Raising Twins: From Pregnancy to Preschool - Common sense solutions to some uncommon problems.

Raising twins is really no different from raising two children born at different times.  Parents need to be careful that they raise their children as individuals, rather than as a subset of each other.  This leads to lifelong dependency on another person, which is not emotionally healthy.  I dressed my girls differently, put them in different classes through elementary school, and even gave them separate birthday parties on succeeding weekends.  I would have done the same for two children born a week apart in two different years.  So, when I found one of my twins becoming the non-dominant twin, I sent her to one of those Outward Bound style camps in the Adirondacks to develop independent thinking.  She joined five other tweens and two leaders for a week of intensive orienteering and self-reflection.  To this day, my daughter says it was the best thing I ever did for her.  The experience was rather expensive at the time, but worth every penny in producing the strong, independent woman that she is today.  Maybe I should write one of the resources I've linked you all to above!

Happy Twin Parenting!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Consider your child's motivation - Part 4: Withdrawal

Adults have exhibited this form of misbehavior for generations -- quite literally!  You know them - the people who say they haven't talked to their parents for years becuase of an arguement they had when they were twenty-five.  Or then there's the classic case of the Hatfields and McCoys.  When people determine that they don't like another person, they decide that they don't need to talk to them - ever again!  Let's see how that works with children.

WITHDRAWAL - When I was a child, this was my favorite form of classic misbehavior.  My mother would yell at me for something I had allegedly done wrong, so I'd stomp up the stairs to my room and slam the door behind me.  I'd stay there for hours, sometimes through my mother's continued reprimands outside of my door.  But I was safe inside the sanctuary of my room.  Years later, that same behavior showed up when I had my own children.  We'd have an argument about something and I'd get in the car and leave for a while to calm down.  The car became my new sanctuary.  Perhaps this was more of a defense mechanism than misbehavior, but it's still considered mis-behavior because it's not what should have been happening.

Why is this considered misbehavior?  Because it's simply not emotionally healthy to withdraw from the situation.  Psychologists will agree that talking through a problem with another person is the best way to solve that problem.  Walking away solves nothing.  Counting to ten before opening your mouth definitely has its advantages in discretion, but total withdrawal from the situation is unhealthy and can lead to lifelong abandonment from family and friends.

Sometimes children just give up when they think they can’t get the attention they need. They may not do what you ask, or they may do it so poorly that you won’t ask them to do it again. They may offer excuses like “I can’t” or “That’s too hard.” They may simply withdraw from you or the family so that you won’t ask them to do anything. If you feel helpless or like you don’t know what to do, your child’s motive of misbehaving may be withdrawal.  Help your child to understand that he or she can always come to you with problems.  When they're teenagers, you'll be very glad for the open lines of communication!

Happy Parenting!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Consider your child's motivation - Part 3: Revenge

Ah, sweet revenge! It is a crime of imitation and offers a momentary catharsis, but the feeling is not long-lasting. If somebody hurts you, your knee-jerk reaction is to hurt that person right back. If a child feels wronged or hurt by others, he or she may seek revenge. It may be simply by saying, “I hate you." Sometimes children get revenge by destroying something that belongs to you or to the person who hurt them. If you feel hurt, disappointed, or shocked by your child’s actions, your child may be seeking revenge.
REVENGE - Consider this scenario: When my twins were about four years old, they were responsible for making their own bed after they got dressed.  Their rooms looked relatively neat throughout the day and their beds welcomed them again at night.  One day, I must have blamed the wrong twin for a misdemeanor (I really don't remember the cause of this scenario now 27 years later!). To get even with her sister for not speaking up about being blameless, she did the ultimate revenge on her sister.  Yep, she UNmade her bed and messed it up.  I tried not to laugh at the simple act of retribution, however it was that act that showed me who actually should have been blamed for the initial problem.  As I recall, I sat both of them down and discussed revenge with one and apology with the other.  The rest of the day went much better!

According to child psychiatrist Rudolph Dreikurs, "A child who seeks revenge is really hoping to find love. Their vengeful behavior is showing us that they feel so bad about themselves, and so misunderstood, that they are resorting to wanting others to feel what they feel. Respond with affection and caring.  'I really care about you and I didn't raise you to be vengeful. That's why I have asked you to go to your room now until you can treat us better.'  Don't engage in the power struggle, remove the audience (siblings, friends, etc), and insist on a logical, dispassionate consequence."

I firmly believe that if parents help children to understand that revenge is not an acceptable form of retaliation, that our prisons would have many empty cells.  What are alternatives to revenge? 
  • Communicate - if you tell the other person how you feel and why you were hurt, the other person will be emotionally hurt by the explanation. 
  • Walk away - By denying the other person the negative attention, you are thereby cancelling the other person's wrongful intent. 
  • Re-think - When you restructure your thinking and tell yourself that the other person needs your help more than your revenge, you'll feel better about the situation. 
  • Forgive - Forgive the other person for the hurtful behavior and redirect your activities to something more positive.
The alternatives to revenge are not easy becuase of our natural fight or flight reaction, but with practice, you can help your children to eliminate revenge from their emotional vocabulary.

Happy parenting!
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