THE PEOPLE SOLUTIONS NEWSLETTER
VOLUME #4, FOCUSING ON:
COACHING FOR BETTER PARENTS AND STRONGER KIDS
© Dr. Carol Renaud Gaffney
Originally printed 1996 - reissued 2003, All Rights Reserved
1. IN THE NEWS
2. BETTER PARENTS
3. STRONGER KIDS
4. COACH CORNER
5. HEALTH AND SAFETY
7. COACHING TIP
IN THE NEWS:
The world seems upside down at times. As written about last month, 6 year olds are being detained for sexual harassment as though they were adults. This month there is evidence that adults who are acting like kids are off the hook. Most of you have probably heard about Roberto Alomar of the Baltimore Orioles, a 30-something acting like a 6 yr. old, who spit on, insulted and demeaned a baseball umpire. When the dust settled and the adult judgement was in, Alomar continued to play in the American League Championship series and will miss some games next season (with pay).
It is somehow encouraging to know that in this vacuum of good adult judgement, some kids are getting the picture and are willing to call it as they see it: One boy, who I think spoke for many kids said: "How could he get away with that? If someone on my team had done that my coach would have him out of the game and probably off the team." "Way to go" to this kid and the coaches around him who must be putting "how you play the game", including social responsibility, ahead of the final outcome.
The more you Know Yourself and what is typical of yourself in various situations, the
more you can pay attention to responding rather than reacting.
The holidays are coming quickly and that means the accumulation of "have to", "shoulds" and "unexpecteds" that result in being in overload with the resulting short circuit. Planning ahead and evaluating what you want can help reduce frustration and disappointment. As you think about Thanksgiving, answer the following questions:
What do I like about this event?
What don't I like about this event?
What do I expect from the celebration?
Do I expect what is reasonable (based on history) or are my expectations really wishful thinking?
Why am I going to celebrate this year?
What can I change from what I usually do to make it easier and more enjoyable?
Knowing your intention and attitude for the holiday without being attached to the outcome (is the turkey ever really moist and tender?) can take you a long way to being satisfied with the experience regardless of what happens.
Every time we give our kids opportunities to solve the part of a problem that is theirs to own, we increase the chances of their becoming independent capable people. And remember, the more they are involved in a solution the more they are committed to the outcome.
Kid involvement can work very well during the holidays. It just may not work as well if you are doing this on Wednesday night before Thanksgiving - but then there is a place for learning crisis management.
From the youngest to the oldest, there is a place to help out. The young children can carry the apples for the pie, decorate the table with a homemade art project. Groceries can be carried in, the table set, dishes cleared. Someone can be responsible for finding music, pouring water, entertaining the younger kids.
Young children can push a broom and be pleased with the outcome as long as mom or dad realize that the process of being involved is more important than the absolute cleanliness of the floor.
When there are visitors the laundry piles up quickly and kids can take responsibility for rounding up towels, starting a load of laundry or getting the folded towels to where they belong. There are hundreds of details to attend to when the routine changes. Each person can pitch in to help.
When planning the menu include the kids and their favorite foods, even if they aren't on Martha Stewart's holiday menu.
There are many ways of figuring out who does what. You can have a family meeting where the various tasks are listed. You can have a job jar where all the stuff to be done is listed on sheets of paper, put in a jar and each person has an opportunity to pull one out. How about a chore lottery. Be creative - let the kids figure out who does what.
What I don't recommend is for mom or dad to decide what each person is supposed to do then tell them to do it or else.
There are as many creative, effective ways of distributing work among the family members as there are families, so whatever works for your family is fine. I'd like to hear from you so your ideas can be shared for the December holidays.
Although holiday preparations may be heading up this month's "to do" list, the daily routine has to continue. Just when holiday planning is in full force, the pressures at school are building as the work is harder and the expectations for performance increase.
Q. My 10 year old son has stopped doing his homework. I have had several calls from his teacher saying that he has zeroes. This is really affecting his grades. What should I do? L.R.
Start with simplicity. You can say something like "I have received a call from your teacher about your homework. You know that we expect you to do your best at school and that includes doing your homework. How can I help you get this straightened out?" If that doesn't do it continue with more specific planning.
1. What is reasonable to expect from a 10 year old. Ten year olds are generally nice people to be around but many are in the initial unsettling phase of development that leads to adolescence. Hormonal changes can effect sleep, attitude and mood. Parents and kids alike need to be educated on what to expect so they can be ready to deal with the changes rationally.
2. Does he have the skills to do homework? Completing homework requires a group of skills that are learned, not simply innate attributes. Kids must know how to read, how to learn and how to deal with frustration. They must also have a place to work, an organizational system that gets the homework home and then back to school again, and family support.
Having difficulty doing schoolwork can be the result of problems with the perceptual skills that transport information in and out of the brain. Many bright, able kids are able to compensate for weaknesses in perceptual abilities until 4th, 5th and 6th grades. Be sure to have a visual and auditory screening if you have any questions about reading competence, vision or hearing.
Stress can interfere with using skills that he already has. Check out what is going on in your son's life. Does he have his first crush, is he having trouble with friends, how stable is the home environment, have there been any losses recently, has he just been relegated to second string or no string on his sport team?
How well does he get along with this teacher? Many kids get angry with grown-ups
and when they don't know how to handle their feelings they can start misbehaving or not doing the work. Kids usually don't understand that the only people they are hurting are themselves. They are just satisfied thinking they are getting back at the person they are angry with.
3. Who owns what part of the problem? With a homework problem, you, the parent, are responsible for providing a study place and quiet time, providing the right tools (paper, pens, pencils) and providing loving support to your child. You are also responsible for coordinating with the teacher to determine whether your child has adequate skills to do what is expected. If he does not have the skills, it is your responsibility to provide the opportunity to acquire them.
Your child is responsible for getting the assignments, completing them and getting them back to school. He is responsible for developing the skills he needs to get the job done.
4. Solve your part of the problem. Check and make changes to the homework area, study schedule and family support. If you decide that an appointment with the teacher is necessary have the appointment include parents, child, and teacher. Keep the format of the meeting positive and solution focused.
Remember that a meeting is an opportunity for working as a team for the benefit of the child. Both parents and teacher serve as role models for commitment and problem-solving.
This meeting is not an opportunity for complaining and blaming the teacher or school system or parent for being inept. If parents and teacher have disagreements these are discussed without the presence of the kids.
5. Support your son in solving his part of the problem. Be sure to involve your son in the solution to the problem. You can say something like "what ideas do you have for getting the homework done? What has worked for you in the past? What kind of help do you need from me? Let's put some time aside in the next 2 days to write down a plan for this."
He needs to be involved in the solution in order to be committed to the outcome! Give the plan about 2 weeks to work. If the plan is not working by then start the problem-solving again.
6. Acknowledge his success. Pay attention to your son's efforts to solve the problem. Pay attention to the small gains which will add up to a huge win!!
HEALTH AND SAFETY
The November 1996 issue of Parenting Magazine has an article on the presence and effects of lead. According to this article lead is the #1 environmental enemy. It can be found in paint dust, paint chips, soil, tap water, ceramic glazes, vinyl mini-blinds and playground and school equipment. One of the problems is that there are no obvious signs of its presence and its symptoms are not obvious until damage has been done.
I personally had thought that the problems with lead were in the past but I did hear two weeks ago about a local school district that had found lead in the paint in the playground equipment at their schools. Lead contamination can be determined from a blood test. If you have questions or concerns, check the article, your local authorities and your physician.
AIR BAGS: Passenger side air bags have been determined to be dangerous to the health of young children because of the force with which they engage. Parents are encouraged to have their children properly secured in car seats in the rear seat of the car rather than the front.
Conversations with God
by Neale Donald Walsch, ISBN 1-57174-025-2, 12.95
From the back cover: "I have heard the crying of your heart. I have seen the searching of your soul. I know how deeply you have desired the Truth. In pain have you called out for it, and in joy. Unendingly have you beseeched Me."
This is not a typical parenting book, but a provocative book for parents. One problem we can often have as parents or teachers is making a decision on how to relate to the children around us. This book certainly addresses the questions of who we are and once we have a perspective on who we are and who the other is, decisions on how to be with that other person come more easily. Sound confusing? It's not really as Walsch and his source dialogue this and other questions.
by Terry Brazelton, M.D. Dr.
Brazelton is one of the most respected and knowledgeable pediatricians available to parents as a resource about development - especially with young children. His book Touchpoints is a treasure of information on development for preschool children. Most everything parents need to know about what is happening with their children is available here.
Be unconditionally loving and constructive - There have been other coaching tips on
how to stop, breathe, think, respond and then how to use masking tape to remain
quiet even when you would like to speak.
But there does come a time when parents do have to say something. When that time comes speak in such a way and with the words that you might like to hear if you were in a similar situation. Speak from your heart in such a way that if you heard these words being said to you, you would feel loved, cared about and accepted unconditionally.
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Dr. Carol Renaud Gaffney
32 Cole Street, Suite 5
Warren, RI 02885