The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: February 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Parenting Lessons from Pirates?

Excellent advice from my friends at ...

The popularity of the Pirates of the Caribbean films have led to a surge in pirate popularity in the last decade; themed parties for kids and adults alike, novelty items and a flood of books and films have appeared to cash in on the pirate craze. For parents of pirate-crazy youngsters, here are a few childcare lessons one might take from the canon of pirate legends.
  1. Travel With a Like-Minded Crew – Solo pirate ships often created alliances with a fleet of other ships in order to reduce the chances of being taken down in an attack. This safety-in-numbers approach is easy to apply to parenting; banding together with a group of like-minded parents can be a great way of trading childcare and building a support system.
  2. They Had Rules, Too – Pirates operated under a strict code of rules and regulations; though certainly different from the rules of the law-abiding set, they carried their own consequences for disobedience. Creating guidelines that work for your family is much more important than arbitrarily using a one-size-fits-all approach that may not be effective.
  3. Pirate Ships Were Organized Outfits – Though most tend to think of a pirate ship as a group of ne’er-do-wells with no organization, this wasn’t the case. Each ship had a routine and a battle plan in place; running your home like a well-oiled machine might be a good parenting method. Children need structure, and to know what to expect each day.
  4. Everyone Played Their Part – Each person aboard a pirate ship had clearly defined roles and were expected to perform certain duties. Similarly, being sure that each member of your family knows what’s expected of them from day to day is important for a child’s well-being and happiness.
  5. Women Were Pirates, Too – Teaching gender equality can be as simple as pointing out that some of the most feared and successful pirates of their time were women. Though encouraging little girls to become sea-faring criminals might not be the intended result, this can serve as a great jumping-off point for a discussion about equality.
  6. Marooned Pirates Had to Make Their Own Way – Inspiring a measure of self-reliance and independence in kids by telling tales of pirates marooned on deserted islands can be exciting and encouraging. Using survival as a parable for overcoming great odds is an entertaining way to impart valuable lessons.
  7. Most Pirate Stories are Myths – The things that most of us think we know about pirates are purely fictional; similarly, many of the things that new parents expect to encounter or think that they know are based on old wives’ tales. Take a hint from pirate lore, and research what you’re told on your own.
  8. Mutiny Was Typically a Calm Discussion – Another pirate myth is that mutinies were always bloody, violent business. In fact, they where generally very calm discussions in which a captain was simply replaced by someone the crew felt was more suited. Encouraging your children to feel comfortable approaching you with grievances and discussing them calmly is a great way to stave of mutinous youngsters in your own home.
  9. There Was Nothing Glamorous About Piracy – Explaining the very real dangers and hardships that pirates faced can be a good way to open a dialogue about glamorous depictions versus reality. Gently explaining that many things aren’t what they appear can be easier, using piratical life as a template.
  10. Work Was Distributed Among Many – Pirates understood that tasks were completed much more quickly when they were split among everyone aboard; this example is a great way to show kids that working together to accomplish something they’d rather not do can make the time and task pass by more quickly.
And I'll add #11 ... Find the gold wherever you go - So often, parents look for and recognize the bad things their children do (poor grades, disobedience, destructiveness, etc.)  Instead, find the good things your children do and reward the positive behavior with a simple hug, kiss, star on a chart, etc.  I think you'll find that gold is more valuable than rusty metal!

Happy Parenting!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

On kicking your child out of the house

It seems I've met more than my fair share of reject parents this week.  Yesterday, while waiting in the chiropractor's office, one woman chatted with the receptionist after I explained that I had just returned from a lovely trip to visit my newest granddaughter.  Here is that woman's story...

She said that her grandchildren used to live with her.  I commented how nice that must be since mine are in two different states.  She proceeded to say that she just kicked them and their mother out of her house last week.  The older one, age 5, apparently told her teacher that they "get to" live in a motel now.  The younger child is 3 and stays in the motel room with mom during the day.  I thought, gee that sounds like tons of fun for an active child.  So, then the woman said that her daughter walked in the door this morning, dumped a load of laundry on the floor, and asked (no - told) her mother to get it done by the time she has to pick up her son from kindergarten. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  The lady in the waiting room, told her daughter, "Sure, after I go get X-rays done, see the chiropractor, and visit your brother in jail."  WHAT?  The picture became very clear.  Apparently the mother did everything for those kids while they were growing up, including telling them when to wipe their behinds, apparently, so when they grew up, they were unable to think or do anything for themselves.

And don't get me started about kicking a child out of the house.  Too often, I "rescued" my children's friends whose parents kicked them out as teenagers! Where do you think those kids would go? Certainly not to the honor student's house.  Each was headed to a known drug user when I intercepted the intentions.  Some stayed at my house for a few weeks, others for a few days, until the parents realized that the best place for their children was at home.  You think?

Lesson learned here, folks:  Help your children to achieve independence by encouraging them to do as much as they can for themselves.  Kids can do their own laundry around age twelve.  They can keep their own rooms clean.  They can help with household chores.... all without benefit of an allowance.  They should cooperate because they are members of the close family and happy to share the burden.  Another way to encourage independence is to offer choices.  How often have I mentioned that in my blog? Only about a bazillion times!  When kids can make little choices as little people, they can make life-threatening choices as big people.  It's a very simple, balanced equation. 

If you want more information on raising independent, self-sufficient children, read
Raising a Self-Disciplined Child: Help Your Child Become More Responsible, Confident, and Resilient  You'll be glad you did! (PS - It's not my book, but I wish I had written what's in there!)

Happy Parenting!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Double Jeopardy

Recently, I spoke with a man who punished his daughter for hacking into another child's Facebook page and writing an insulting status to get even for a similar incident on her own page.  The punishment: Taking away the computer for two weeks.  While that may appear on the surface to be a fair disciplinary measure, I don't agree for three reasons:
  1. His child was already punished at school because that's where the incident happened - in the school computer lab.  Apparently the children involved knew each others' passwords and were fooling around as only kids can do!  They had their school computer privileges suspended indefinitely. 
  2. The father was guilty of double jeopardy - punishing the same crime twice.  The child lost computer privileges at school and at home for the same misdemeanor. That's rather redundant, don't you think?
  3. Taking something away DOES NOT teach a child a lesson. 
Here's what I might have done in a similar circumstance...
Since the incident happened at school, I would let the school handle the discipline.  At home, we would discuss the reasons why what she did was wrong - it's unkind, illegal, and an example of cyberbullying.  We would also discuss the wisdom of using revenge to prove a point. Then, I would turn the negative event into something positive by asking her what she could do that would be kind to the person she had wronged. We might develop a list together of all the things she might do, and then narrow that list to something she could handle.  That list could range from baking a batch of cookies to a letter of apology ... or both!  Notice that I wouldn't tell my daughter what she should do, I would ask her to figure out what she could do.  That is SO much more effective because it puts the discipline ball back in her hands.  AND, it is so much more effective than shooting holes in your child's laptop!

So the next time your child gets in trouble at school, let the school handle the punishment.  Your job is to manage the feelings associated with that punishment to help your child learn from his or here mistake.

Happy parenting!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

10 Tips for Disciplining Children in Front of their Friends

The guest blogger is from  I couldn't have said it better myself!  This applies to both parents who must discipline their children in front of siblings and friends, and to teachers who must discipline in front of classmates.  I ALWAYS pulled the student out of the classroom for a reprimand to avoid further humiliation.  What the rest of the class imagined was always worse that what I said in the hallway, which generally turned into a conspiracy between me and the student!

There are times when parents are forced to discipline their children in the presence of others, which can be quite tricky. This delicate situation should be handled as such, in order to avoid damaging a child’s self esteem and leading to taunts from the observing classmates. These ten tips can strike a balance between effectiveness and overly harsh when your child is acting out in public.
  1. Acknowledge the Behavior – Immediately acknowledging inappropriate or naughty behavior in a calm voice lets your child know that you are aware of the situation, and that their behavior isn’t acceptable.
  2. Pull Them Aside – If at all possible, separate your child from his or her friends before doing anything more than acknowledgment; explaining to them in a one-on-one setting that there are repercussions for making poor behavioral choices is much more constructive than berating the child in the presence of their peers.
  3. Inform Them of Impending Discussions – When it’s not possible to pull your child aside, simply inform them that you’re aware of what they’ve done, and will be discussing it and the resulting disciplinary action when you get home.
  4. Keep Your Voice Down- Never shout at your child, especially in a group setting. In addition to creating the impression that you’re an angry parent, it also embarrasses your child by attracting more attention to the situation.
  5. Avoid Humiliation – Belittling a child is never acceptable, but it’s certainly not the right track when they’re surrounded by others. It is possible to be respectful of your children while expressing disapproval for their actions, and it’s the best possible route in public.
  6. Don’t Talk About Behavior While Driving – If you’re at an event or away from home when the behavioral problem occurs, avoid the temptation to discuss it on the way home. In addition to the risk of distraction-related accidents, the trip will give you time to sort your thoughts and cool off.
  7. Don’t Make Threats – Threatening your child with a punishment in front of their friends definitely falls under the “Humiliation” header for them, but it can cause other parents to become suspicious.
  8. Avoid Commenting on Their Friends’ Behavior – Even if you know that one of your child’s friends was the ringleader, it’s best not to engage that child or attempt to scold them. Emphasizing the importance of making the right choice when others aren’t is the key to instilling a sense of self in your child.
  9. Don’t Be Critical – Making criticizing remarks about your child’s behavior or abilities is hurtful anytime, but that pain is compounded if the remarks are overheard. Choose your words carefully, and avoid “You always…” and “You never…” statements.
  10. Keep It Short and Simple – Long lectures will leave your child’s mind wandering and can also create an opportunity for their peers to tease them later.
Regardless of your parenting style, disciplining a child in public is bound to be awkward for both parties. The most important thing to keep in mind is that humiliating your child will only lead to more behavioral problems; try to solve things as quickly and constructively as possible.

Happy parenting!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How to get your kids to take medicine

Some children take the bubble-gum or grape-flavored medicine with no trouble, perhaps too eagerly.  You may worry that he'll find the refrigerated bottle somehow and chug it down.  Other parents beg, plead, bribe, and use the pinched nose routine to get medicine into their children.  Here are a few tried and true ways that don't involve brute force to get medicine into your kids...
  • The bitter taste buds are in the back of the mouth.  Take the dropper and place the medicine in his cheek, rather than on his tongue.  He'll be less likely to taste it and subsequently reject it.
  • Place the medicine in food - applesauce, ice cream, yogurt - anything soft that will disguise the taste. However, don't use too much because your child must eat everything in the bowl to get all the medicine.
  • If your child uses a pacifier, invest in the Kidz Med Pacifier Medicine Dispenser or Safety 1st Hospital's Choice Bottle Medicine Dispenser, depending on your child's nipple preference.
  • If your child is old enough ask your doctor for the chewable variety rather than the liquid.  Your child may think it's simply another vitamin.
  • Bribery works!  Offer a sticker or some other incentive for taking the medicine.  Create a medicine chart and when the ten days are up, the child can get a "prize" for taking all her medicine.
  • Use a positive attitude - if you wrinkle your nose at the medicine, it's a safe bet that your child is picking up on your attitude.  Be cheerful and happy, even taking a sip of something similar to show your child it's okay to take medicine.
  • Try different flavors.  Most pharmacies have an assortment of flavor supplements for liquid medicines.  If your child doesn't like cherry, he might prefer grape or peppermint. 
  • As an alternative, try spraying your child's mouth with Yo Gabba Gabba! Medicine-Time Flavor Spray  before and after he takes the medicine to mask the flavor.
Happy Parenting!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day, the time for romance and love.  Most kids think of Valentine's Day as yet another occasion for candy - candy hearts, candy kisses, and chocolate hearts.  But think about the opportunity you have as parents and teachers to show your children how to celebrate love on this special day.  Here are some ideas:
  • Create a family or classroom heart made of little hearts signed by everyone in the family or class, showing their love for the people in their lives. (Teachers, you'll need to monitor the messages on those hearts!)
  • Make a Valentines Box.  Children create a Valentine for each person  in the family and put it in a sealed box.  (Only a slit in the top allows the family members to insert their cards.)  On the big day, probably after dinner, ceremoniously open the box and distribute all the Valentines.  Include cards sent to the family from faraway grandparents and other relatives.
  • Start a family Valentine's Day tradition.  Ours is having Cherry Berries on a Cloud with the clouds in a heart shape.
  • Write "love letters" aka letters of appreciation to military people, seniors in nursing homes, and other shut-ins.
  • Turn Valentine's Day into a learning day by categorizing Valentines the children receive in school - all those with animals in one pile, superheros in another pile, etc.  The make a chart to see which Valentines are most popular.  Or ask your child to create a story about the image they see on the Valentine's card.
Happy parenting!  Happy teaching!  And Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

10 sounds that put kids to sleep

Today's article is from Ken, a guest author from  It's good advice for parents whose little ones fight sleep:

Sleep disturbances and difficulty falling asleep are such a common issue for infants and children that there are dozens of products on the market to combat the problem. If your little one has difficulty sleeping, here are a few sounds that can help soothe them.

  1. White Noise – If your child’s difficulty sleeping is the result of noise disturbances, a white noise machine can do wonders for them. By masking sounds in other parts of the house, white noise can keep your little one sleeping soundly.
  2. Womb Sounds – Before birth, your baby could hear womb sounds such as mom’s heartbeat. In early infancy, these sounds may still be associated with comfort and can help a baby fall asleep.
  3. Soft Lullabies – Many little ones prefer the sound of a softly-played lullaby to monotonous white noise. Playing a lullaby for a child who’s put down while still awake can help them associate the sounds with putting themselves to sleep.
  4. Flowing Water or Falling Rain – The soft and seamless nature of moving water can be relaxing for children and adults alike. Many noise-makers designed for aiding in sleep feature a rain or ocean setting.
  5. Whale Sounds – Another favorite of sound-machine sleep aids, whale songs and dolphin sounds are relaxing to children of all ages. They’re also believed to stimulate brain activity by some researchers.
  6. Washing Machine Sounds – The combined elements of swirling water and white noise from a washing machine is among the most often recommended soothing sounds from sleep experts. Avoid wasting water and energy by purchasing a recording of washing machine sounds.
  7. Car Rides – Many companies that specialize in recordings of soothing, sleep-inducing sounds offer a car ride option, complete with a humming motor, rhythmic windshield wipers and the pattering of rain. This is a great way to recreate the tried-and-true car ride method of soothing your youngster to sleep without wasting gas to drive around aimlessly.
  8. Blow Dryer – Like the Washing Machine and Car Ride options, there are many recordings of a humming blow dryer commercially available. The sound is thought to even ease colicky babies.
  9. Nature Sounds – The soft sounds of blowing breezes, chirping birds and flowing water are perennial favorites of those who find it difficult to sleep, regardless of age. Many sound machines have a nature setting, due to the popularity of these sounds.
  10. Nighttime Sounds – Anyone who’s ever lived in a rural area can attest to the soothing quality of chirping crickets, croaking bullfrogs and faint hooting of a faraway owl. Even city dwellers can bring the sounds of the country to their little ones’ nurseries with a recording of nocturnal sounds.
When choosing musical sounds to help ease your baby, keep in mind that simple melodies are best for inducing sleep. The complexities of jazz or most classical music can be too stimulating for sleep, though many experts recommend playing these types of music during waking hours for that very reason.

Here is one CD that seems to have many of the sounds he recommends:
The Happiest Baby on the Block New "Super Soothing" Calming Sounds CD.  Use it after watching Dr. Karp's video: The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Baby Sleep Longer

Happy parenting!
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