Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Relishing the Joys of Motherhood

After a really hard day I find myself trying to focus on the joys of motherhood rather then the things that could make me go crazy.  Here are some things that are keeping me smiling tonight.

-Tucking my children in after they are asleep.  I just love to see their sweet faces.  This nightly ritual reminds me that they have divine worth and a heavenly father who is watching over us all.

-Baby kisses.  Those open mouth kisses are so sweet

-Catching your kids doing good when you are not around

-Hearing the sweet sounds of siblings in play

-Listening to my children read

-Hearing my older kids remind the younger ones of rules or helping them do something

-Seeing their dad play and laugh with them

These are some of the joys that I will relish forever.  What moments will always bring you joy?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

1-2-3 Magic Questions

So what if I get to count 3 and it's time for my child to have a time-out and they say--ok ok I'll stop screaming or throwing a fit now, or I'll pick my coat up that I left in the front doorway, Do I still put them in timeout? (my sister-in-law asked me this today)
I don't remember Phelan talking about this but I think for the "Magic" to work you need to be consistent and still put them in time out without talking.  I can see a child trying to argue out of time-out and that is completely opposite of what you want.  I could see if you decide to give them another chance everytime they get to a count 3 then they will learn they won't have a consequence.  Kids are smart they will see if you will keep your word.
How do I get this program going at home?
We had a little family council where we explained what we were going to do if the children disobey. After we explained it we asked if anyone had any questions and then we role played and example. The kids thought that was fun and my tester was immediately thinking of whys around the new system.  It took a few days for things to really click.  If your oldest child is 2 years or under I really wouldn't recommend this until they are older.  My two year old does ok with it but I think the whole counting thing is confusing for her so I use the "Uh Oh so sad" for her most of the time when she has behavior issues.  (This is something in the Love and logic Toddlers book which I really like)  
What if I forget my part of the deal and issue out a consequence before I do any counting?
There is a learning curve for both parents and children and you need to be patient with yourself. First, remember that there are times when a child will immediately get a consequence-When they hit you or someone else, or swearing.  So it these cases, I'm sure there may be more, it's ok to give an automatic 3 and timeout for the severity of the action.  But if you are short on patience that day it can be hard to give your children a chance to think about there behavior and change it before laying out the consequence.  When I find myself doing that, I am completely honest with my kids and say, "Hey I'm sorry, lets get back to counting, you can come out of your room and we'll start with a count of 1 for teasing your sister."  This has worked well because then they see you as human and can make mistakes and admit it.  
What do you do when your in the car or in public, like at the store?
This can be very tricky.  In the car I have had to count and have only had to get to 3 one time. We pulled the car over and had our child stand outside for 8 minutes since he is 8 years old.  We stayed right there to make sure he was safe.  He didn't get mad or sad, but after he got back in the car he was golden the rest of the car trip.  This can be a pain especially if you are in a hurry or going on a long drive or your in bad weather.  In this case I would do a time-out alternative.
What are some time-out alternatives for when a timeout isn't appropriate or your child simply will not go do timeout.
Earlier bedtime, loss of computer or video game privilege, no dessert or treat, extra chore, no TV, monetary fine, no friends over, write a paragraph.
My oldest has tested me on time-outs and so we have used some of these time-outs especially when in public.  He has found that he would rather do a time-out then lose out on something else. 
Do you have a situation at home that your stumped on that you want to try 1-2-3- Magic but not sure how?  I'll try to help give you ideas of how it may help.
One thing I know is you can't try something for one day and say oh it just didn't work for us. Anything needs some time for you to test it out and see if you are getting some results.  I would say at least a two week trial.  
Stay tuned for potty training ideas next week.  
P.S. There is only three days left on the survey listed at the top right of the blog.  Cast your vote!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

One Kind Word

Have you heard of the new project called "One Kind Word"?  I heard about it a while ago on the news and was not sure what I thought of it.  Basically it's a project that gives people tools to help children you see in public that are struggling with their parents.  "One Kind Word is designed to give people (particularly, retail employees) the words and actions to offer support to parents and children who are having a tough time and to help defuse parent-child conflicts."  (from website)
I particularly have been in public situations, at the store, park, gas station, church... where my kids have thrown a tantrum or made a scene.  It's can be embarrassing and I'm not sure if I would want a stranger offering support while my child is on the ground screaming.  I guess probably because I would be at a loss of a comforting word to offer a stranger if they were going through the same thing. On the other hand a kind word is much better then the "looks" I have received before, advise given, or even worse--someone offering my child candy (while they are throwing the tantrum).
Just this week, I have had more then one experience where I had another parent offer me their concern for my child's well being.  I should thank them lavishly and move on, but I find myself feeling judged and hurt.  I know my child and their capabilities and I wouldn't knowingly put them in danger.  
I have to tell this story, that happened about a month ago, I was attending church in another ward.  When I went to Relief Society which was the last meeting of church, my baby was tired.  Because it wasn't my ward I wasn't prepared with my usually toys and snacks I bring to occupy her for the full 3 hours.  During the meeting I looked in my bag for anything that might catch her interest and saw a diaper rash bottle.  I knew she couldn't open it and she immediately was intrigued. One lady behind me literally took the ointment from my baby and handed it to me and said, "Did you know that this is poison, please don't give it to her."  I was amazed and stunned that someone would do this.  I just smiled and nodded my head. After the meeting she came up to me and said that she was a nurse and just couldn't believe I would give that to my baby.  My sister in law was also their and we were just flabbergasted that someone could be so rude.  
Some have come out and bluntly (like the above example) tell you their disgust and others are a little more subtle --but both can be hurtful.  After I felt hurt this week I reflected within and thought I have probably done the same thing and hurt someone unknowingly.  So here I am committing to not judge others for the way they are parenting.  I think unless someone asks for advise, it's probably not wanted or needed.  
I believe we are all learning and doing our very best.  We also know how important our role is as mothers and fathers.  I know I do things different with my fourth child then I did with my first because they come different but also because I'm learning to do better.  That's all we can do is try to do better, educate ourselves and do the best with what we have and know now.  For me I'm going try to be more understanding and loving towards other parents learning and doing their best.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Magic?... Is it really now.

First of all I appreciate your comments you have made to my other posts.  I love to hear what is working in your home.  Thank you for your insights and knowlege!

123-Magic by Dr. Phelan is simple but I have found that it works wonders with my kids.  When we first started using counting we were astounded that it actually worked and sometimes so easily that my husband and I would look at each other and smile and thought, "Wow, that was great it's got to be magic =)!"
So what is counting?
Counting is used when your child is doing something obnoxious that you don't want him to do. Examples could be, teasing siblings, whining for something, throwing a tantrum, or arguing.  If you child does none of these things, count yourself blessed and then get a reality check.  I don't know one parent who doesn't deal with these behaviors on a daily, hourly, and often times minute basis. 
Lets give you an example so you can see how it can work.  My daughter is begging for an orange roll at 11:15 am.  I am in the middle of washing dishes and simply and calmly tell her we will be eating lunch very soon and after lunch she can have a roll (11:30 am).  She starts to whine and carry on and I say calmly yet sternly, "That's 1 Samantha."  She continues to cry and ask for an orange roll, after I wait for about 5 seconds from the first count I say "That's 2 Samantha." Where upon she continues to cry so I say after 5 seconds, "Samantha that 3 take 2 minutes of timeout in your room."  Because she is only two years old she will rarely go on her own accord to her room.  Depending on how upset she is I will lead her to her room, or pick her up and take her their.  I then set a timer or just look at a clock for the two minutes.  Once the time out is done, I go tell her that time out is over and usually she is a happy camper ready to play.   
Now this does not always happen like this.  Sometimes I only have to say "That's 1" and she will stop.   The reason I say take 2 minutes is because she is two years old.  The timeout should equal the age of the child.  This is a time out in a safe place.  When timer goes off the child comes out, nothing more is said about the incident, life goes on.  This is very important to not nag the child with lectures, or discussions.  It is important for you to let it go, and carry on unless the child does something else or the same thing that is countable then the counting starts over.  'If the child behaves, praise him, and enjoy his company.(pg 27)'
Now there are behaviors that you don't want them to have three chances to do it.  Behaviors like, hitting you or someone else, or saying a swear word.  In these cases in your opinion the behavior is bad enough to begin with you simply say, "That's 3, take their age and add 15 more for the seriousness of the offense." pg 28
The hard part for me at first was the no lecturing and nagging, especially because I have a child who loves to argue with everything I say.  Here is an example from the book of a parent talking too much and getting too excited while attempting to count the child's behavior.
"That's 1...Come on now, I'm getting a little tiered of this.  Why can't you do one little thing for us--LOOK AT ME WHEN I'M TALKING TO YOU, YOUNG MAN! OK, that's 2.  One more and you're going to your room, do you hear me?  I'm sick and tired of you whining and fussing over every little thing you can't have.  One more and that's it.  YOUR SISTER NEVER BEHAVES THIS WAY...YOUR FATHER'S COMING HOME IN HALF AND HOUR! OK, ENOUGH! THAT'S 3 TAKE 5.  BEAT IT! OUT OF MY SIGHT!" pg 29
Wow that was a parent tantrum.  Who won here?  The child did because he got his mom all worked up, most kids like to know they can have that much control over their world.  'Talk too much and you take your child's focus off the need for good behavior.  Instead, you switch your child's focus onto the possibility of an energetic and perhaps enjoyable argument.' pg 29.
When you count obnoxious behavior you want your children to 1.  learn to think and 2. take responsibility for their own behavior.  
So what if your child will not go to time out.  You can do a time out alternative in this case.  I have had to do this with my eight year old.  Some ideas for time out alternative is 15 minutes early to bed, loss of a privilege or toy for a period of time, money taken from their allowance.  For me when I first starting using 1-2-3 magic the first day was the learning process for my kids to see how it worked and I really meant business.  Then it worked for a week.  After a week my oldest really started trying me and saying he wouldn't go to time out.  Luckily I was prepared for this and we gave him a time out alternative.  Your child doesn't choose this, the parent does because you know what privileges will help your childs behavior change.  I've been using counting now for about 6 months and my hardest child rarely gets to a three and when he does, he would rather have the timeout.  It was worth sticking to it.  
I have really liked this method because I am so much more calm.  Yes I still lose my cool at times but odds are better with counting.  Let me give you another example that happened yesterday. My kids were over at the neighbors house with me visiting.  They were playing with their friends having a great time.  When I could tell it was almost time to go I prepared my kids by telling we only had a few more minutes we could play their.  Then when it was time to go I called them all by name and told them it was time to go.  They didn't come.  I then said Traeden, Conrad that's 1."  Immediately they starting walking home with me.  It was awesome!
That example was not a Stop behavior, it was a start behavior.  You usually only count stop behavior (something you want stopped).  But if their is something that needs to be done which takes two minutes or less to do.  Other examples would be, hanging up a coat, feeding the dog.  
This is really just the basics of what 1-2-3 magic.  Phelan goes into almost every problem a parent encounters in his book and answers many questions because he has seen a lot of parents and children in his counseling center.   If you have a specific question about it I will try my best to answer it with comments before the next post.  
Next post I will discuss the Kickoff Conversation you have before you start using this with your kids.  Plus how to use this in public, in the car, and when your on the phone.   For those of you who have used counting before I would love to hear your success stories and your challenges.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

1-2-3- Magic by Thomas W. Phelan

So I started reading 1-2-3 Magic Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 by Thomas W. Phelan. early this year.  I am not a fast reader but this book intrigued me so much I took it everywhere with me.  I really enjoyed reading it and could make sense of it.  I even took this to the gym and read while I exercised so I could get started using it in my home.  (I really believe if you want to try a new method of discipline you have to know it well and have read the whole book not just bits and pieces).  Just for your reference, they have a great audio of the book that I really liked.  I even got my husband to listen to it in the car on the way to work and he loved it as well.  He told me that of all the disciplines that I have introduced to him he thought this was the one that made the most sense to him.  
Because it's my new thing I'm going to take some points I like and talk about it for the next few weeks.  You may want to just see if they have it at your local library.  We have a Parent Resource Center that has several books and CD's that I got mine from.
The first point I'm going to hit is "The Little Adult Assumption."  This is in Chapter 3 of the 3rd Edition.  After I read Babywise and my oldest got older and started actually misbehaving I started looking into books about discipline.  I read lots of Love and Logic books.  I even went to a full day seminar with Dr. Faye.  I use many of the techniques I have learned from these books all the time at home.  One of the things I really struggled with my kids is the time after time outs.  This always ended up to be a bad experience for child and mother.  After time outs there was talking about such, "Are you sorry for what you did?, what should you have done, What did you do?,"  Most of the time my kids can't remember what they were in time out for and I got so frustrated with them.  Then, like the books say, I would put them back in time-out to think about what they did again.  Well after numerous trials of failures I just thought I might be doing this all wrong.  Well in 1-2-3 Magic it explains why this doesn't work, "The Little Adult Assumption is the belief that kids have hearts of gold and that they are basically reasonable and unselfish.  They're just smaller versions of grownups and when they are misbehaving or not cooperating, the problem must be that they don't have enough information at their disposal to be able to do the right thing."  pg 15  It gives a great example of this, Your 8 year old is torturing his little sister for fifteenth time since they got home from school.  What should you do?  Well, if he is a little adult you simply sit him down and explain the three golden reasons why he shouldn't tease his sister.  After you explain this to him, he will turn to you and say, "Gee, Mom, I never thought of it that way before!" Then he will never tease her again.   Ya Right!
The point of this is that those who believe in this assumption are going to rely heavily on words and reasons rather then actions.  1-2-3 Magic says this Little adult assumption is not right.  Kids are just kids, not little adults.  I believe children come innocent and pure, but they don't come reasonable and unselfish.  That's are job as parents is to help them become, reasonable, responsible and caring individuals.
I don't know about you but this really struck a chord with me because the times when I am trying to correct behavior and I'm talking and talking to my kids, it's like talking to a brick wall. Then it makes me really mad and I want to start yelling, and then if I'm really upset I want to spank them and then I feel really terrible.  
The time to talk about good behavior and what is right and wrong is not when the child is misbehaving.  That just makes you both upset.  I find the best time to talk about the way we should treat others  and such is at the dinner table, family meetings (Family Home Evening), scripture study, story time, in the car (if the kids are not fighting, of course) while your working together, and so on.  
My brother-in-law said he has learned the most about parenting from reading about and training his horses.  I have thought about this and I think it makes a lot of sense.  Horses have this great amount of strength, will, and smarts.  But if it is not reined in,the horse is wild.  A horse trainer uses a lot of patience and most of it is non-verbal skills.  He doesn't tell the horse what to do he shows a horse what to do by guiding him.  My brother-in-law also said that you have to know when to call it a day. (A horse can only take so much training at one time.) If the horse is over trained at one time he starts to resent the training and the trainer and will regress.  I think this is true with our children.  When I am practicing violin with one of my sons and he is working on perfecting something, I have to be so careful not to overwork and extend his concentration or he will get frustrated and it's harder for him to pick the violin up the next day.  
So the goal here for me is to be gentle, consistent, decisive, calm, and not over explain and over train.   Sound hard, well with 1-2-3 Magic it is actually easier.  Stay tuned for more next time.