Goal Setting for Kids

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There is no great genius without a mixture of madness.-Aristotle

Last week we did our yearly Family Meeting in which we talk about Family and Personal goals. We talked about what goals are, how to set a specific goal and work towards it step by step, and what can help to be more successful like setting a specific time of the day and making the goal very specific. We discussed how goals should help us have good habits;  we consistently do good things until they become good habits. We also talked about how as disciples of Christ we constantly want to try to improve and each time we become better and more like Christ we have more help from Him to move forward and improve even more (Proverbs 4:18)

To make the process more visual and help the kids keep track of both their goals and progress we made up this GOAL SETTING WEEKLY STAIRS on which they could write their goals and each time they complete it for the day they move up a stair step. We had the kids choose a cartoon face of a child they thought looked like them from this Multicultural kids faces Clip-Art to use to “climb” the stairs. Elf chose one of the little Asian girls:)

 

goal setting

 

Mommy said so….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou probably thought I had forgotten about it….but I don’t think any parent EVER forgets about the topic of discipline;)

Nope, sorry my writings are so random, it’s therapy for me as it helps me put my ponderings into more concrete insights, so I can actually make change….thanks for your patience:)

Anyway, so along this more recent in-depth study of discipline you know what thought keeps coming back?

“Meg, until YOU change, there will be NO change.”

Well that’s a bit disheartening for me, but it’s true. I’ve read and studied discipline since before having children and for the type of household and family culture I’m striving for, it is just NOT going to happen with my current habits.

Here the low-down:

I’m a control freak

I’m a perfectionist

I’m nearly OCD when it comes to planning and organization

I’m bossy

I’m NOT touchy/ feel-y nor do I deal well with high-emotional situations

Can you see where these traits might just cause some conflict in any home? But especially in a home where the other members are:

Care-free

Fun-loving

Impulsive

Independent

Fearless

High-emotion and physical affection oriented

Its a precarious mix to say the least.

Now, looking at it from a big picture standpoint (and considering my last post🙂  I think we have a lot to learn from each other. That being said, no one is going to want to listen to me if I’m a witchy, party-crashing, beast that only talks to give orders and demand obedience.

Besides my theological research, which I’ll share in a separate post, my latest VERY helpful book on the topic of discipline has been this book
What I love about it is it shares how societal culture has led to a shift in family culture, thus creating a need for different discipline approaches. Also, it helps YOU as the parent, define your parenting style and explains why that can cause conflict or future discipline issues.

What I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE about the incredibly smart author is that she’s created a whole step-by-step/systematic approach to tackling the subject of discipline AND she has a great website (www.positiveparentingsolutions.com) that offers free webinars, free trainings, and free surveys (to find your parenting style).

One of the very first things that this discipline approach suggests is to spend more quality time individually with each child, actually at least 20 minutes each day per child. This is something that I’ve been thinking about for awhile, even before reading this book, especially when I noticed that quality time and physical affection were so high on the “love languages” for my kiddos (you can find out more about love languages and discovering those of your family here) But when I heard the reasoning and statistics for the quality time, it motivated me more to try for more consistent individual time with each child.

Now, maybe it’s not a big deal for most, but when I think of 20 minutes each child, each day I think….”How in the….?”

So I figured I’d start with 10 minutes each day each child…but even that was too much and crazy/stressful for me, so I switched to once a week. We call is our “date night” each kid gets one night that they get to stay up 20-30 (sometimes more) minutes up past bedtime to have a date with me. Each child chooses what they would like to do (except for T.V ). This means Engineer usually chooses his latest project, we are currently working on a hot-air balloon. Fiesta usually wants to do nails and/or makeup or color pictures (Wanna see when she gave me a makeover? ). And Elf often does nails too but likes to read stories a lot as well.

Honestly, some nights it’s hard for me to calm my to-do list going in my head, but by the end of the date I’m always more relaxed and refreshed.

Even more rewarding has been the immediate changes I’ve seen in my kids, especially Fiesta. Most notable the day right after their date, they are more compliable, talkative (in a good way), understanding, compassionate and overall in better spirits. It has really been a blessing for everyone. Now I just need to work up to more time, on a consistent basis.

I’ve especially noticed that Elf really needs time every day, so I’ve been trying to be more creative with “dates”. We cook, bake, read, sit and talk, make something, have a tea party, go to the park or on an errand drive (if Marvel is home so we can go just the two of us). I’m really hoping it will become more natural to me as time goes on so I don’t treat EVERYTHING like a check-list. But step-by-step, here I go.

You can see other posts on my discipline journey here.

So please do share….What changes in your discipline approach have had immediate changes?

By the way, I’m not getting paid for the “advertising” on Amy McCready’s book nor website, I just love it and thought someone else might find it helpful. The link to the book is an Amazon Affiliate link, however, so if you do decide to buy the book I would greatly appreciate you using that link to support this site. Thanks!

An Atmosphere of Discipline

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As promised, here’s some more thoughts from my personal “unit-study” on discipline.

When it comes to discipline “training” it’s helpful to use a medical perspective. Prevention is better than medication. I think that most of us would whole-heartedly agree with that train of thought. It is SO much easier and more enjoyable to train ourselves and our families to be disciplined in the present, rather than dealing with all the numerous hosts of consequences and misbehaviors down the road.

Daunting task? Yep. Easier said than done? Absolutely. Complicated? Not really.

The thing is we’re all going to have our weaknesses and different personalities and cultures to deal with but even given all those variables, discipline training really boils down to two key concepts. Model and Method.

#1 The model:

“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

We HAVE to model self-discipline.This is absolutely essential in discipline training with children. They are still learning all the nuances of language for one and may not completely understand WHAT you are saying. Or maybe you’ve caught yourself like I did with myself the other day yelling at my daughter, “Stop speaking so rudely to your sister!!” Hmmm….see anything wrong with that picture?

But there is even more to self-discipline than anger control and obedience. I’ve been thinking about questions like this:

Do we buy everything we want, right when we want it?

Do we make others in our family wait on their wants to meet our own?

Do we barrage our families with every bad mood/day?

Do we complain and whine whenever we don’t want to do something or are inconvenienced?

Do we eat like there will never be food again?

Do we avoid exercise?

Do we avoid reading/ learning new things?

Do we avoid planning because we don’t want commitments or expectations?

Do we lie? Cheat? (Kids usually can’t tell the difference between a “white” lie and a “lie”)

Do we neglect our family or other important responsibilities because we are thinking of ourselves (ie: “me time”, career development, etc)?

Do we avoid budgeting because we don’t want to have the responsibility of managing our funds?

Well then….what exactly are we expecting from our children?

Now, obviously with some of these questions there are things to consider such as disability, health issues, etc. But when I honestly took a look at myself with these questions in mind I started to realize how much a disciplined home begins with me.

#2 The method:

This encompasses both Work and Patience Training.

For Work, we typically use Stewardships. Ok, I guess they are more commonly known as chores or jobs but to me those words had such a negative connotation that we use “stewardships” at our house instead.  The basic premise is that these jobs create responsibility which gives them a feeling of belonging and significance. They feel needed and wanted. Their contribution matters.

Also, when introducing the “whys” to our kids we explained that God gives us everything we have and in order to show gratitude and have further “responsibilities” we have to take care of the ones we already have.

This should be a step-by-step, little-by-little process. It requires training too! You can’t expect anybody to read your mind. Be honest and specific about what is expected and then follow through with instruction and continued “check-ups”.

Since the world is becoming less and less agricultural we may have to be creative, but find a way to make sure that everyone has something that they are responsible for and that they FEEL it is a responsibility. Work creates self-discipline because one must put off the natural man and train their mind and body to do something they many not WANT to do, but they know it is necessary and good.

This step ties right back in to modeling as well. If you’re not taking care of your responsibilities then….?

Patience Training happens naturally while training your children to work because they have to be patient to see a desired outcome. We can enhance patience in our children pretty simply: Make them wait. And often: Make them work for it. This doesn’t mean withhold needed things. We’re not creating stoics. Although we can make them wait even temporarily to eat, sleep, attention, etc.

This starts in infancy, we can soothe a child with our voice to let them know we will meet their needs but we don’t have to do it in the moment. This is especially true when the “need” is really a “want”, kids must learn from the get-go what is a need and a want and that they will have to be patient for both and generally work for a “want”.

Just like anything else, you CAN have too much of a good thing. Discipline does not mean you should become like a machine. Everything will NOT be perfect. I should make this my mantra 🙂 Sometimes, life happens. BUT, “training” in any sense of the word is an incremental process. Every morning I wake up I’m striving for a “better-than-before” kind of day!

When Mama’s not happy….

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Ok, I promise I’m still talking about discipline, but let’s finish the sentence shall we? Well, in truth we could put a myriad of phrases but the one I’m thinking of is, “When Mama’s not happy, NOBODY IS!” Yep, sad, but true.

The truth of the matter is ladies, that a million other variables contribute to a happy home but one of the MOST IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTIONS IS YOUR ATTITUDE! You. Mom.   Youhave the majority of the say when it comes to what kind of spirit will be found in your home! I know! So amazing and overwhelming at the same time.

Fortunately, we have some amazing examples of the woman’s equivalent of Job. These ladies are AMAZING! They are a pillar of light not only to their own families but to the world.

But I’ve noticed that these ladies of Patience and Optimism seem to becoming about as rare as the pearls of which their lives reflect.

Now, what in the world does this have to do with discipline? Well, let’s remember that Proverbs tells us TWICE (21:9 and 25:24, must have been important!)

“ It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman [and] in a wide house.”

Oh dear…..again, sad, but true. I mean, have you ever been around a brawling woman? Unfortunately, I, myself, have been that brawling woman more times than I care to count and I don’t even like to be around myself when I’m like that!

So let’s think of that brawling woman in the arena of discipline….Well, there are two very important factors here:

1.)    If your kids don’t even want to be around you, they are definitely not going to want to listen to you or respect you either (unless it’s out of fear and do we really want that?)

2.)    If YOU are NOT DEMONSTRATING SELF-DISCIPLINE than how can you EXPECT it of THEM?

So what’s the deal? What is our attitude problem? Well, I think it’s as different women are but I think generally speaking the root of a bad attitude can be found in one (or a combination) of three places:

1.)    Skewed Priorities

Why didn’t I put “overwhelmed” or “on overload”? Well, cause to me that sounds like someone “put” those responsibilities on you. The majority of us, women in today’s world, choose their activities, obligations and responsibilities. We could argue on this a lot I’m sure, but all I will say is that even if you didn’t out-right choose something, you chose it by not choosing something else.

2.)    Bombardment

There are times in our lives that life just happens. The choices of others or other situations of which we have little to no control over become a main or the main obstacle to overcome. This can shape us in the way we choose to let it.

3.)    Health

There are also times or even life-times that are brought off-keel by health issues. These issue’s can be brought on by ourselves, others and sometimes by things that we can’t explain or control. This can be tricky because there are times when MORE than an “attitude adjustment” is needed.

So, now what do we do? We know there is a problem and maybe we can pin-point it and maybe we can’t. But how do we CHANGE? Well, this is what has worked for me:

1.       God

You may think I’m redundant on this but really, wouldn’t you want someone to help that knows all about you, even your potential AND can see the WHOLE picture? Asking for God’s guidance and help can lead you to finding the cause of your attitude issue, and also the solution for it. Sometimes the situation can’t or won’t change but WE can and with God’s guidance and strength, WE WILL.

2.       Slow Down

Ladies, why are we here? What is our purpose here on earth? Yes, our own potential must be reached, but I would argue that we will learn and grow more through our roles as wives and mothers than through any other endeavor. I know for myself that this is true. I have to remind myself that my priorities are my God, my husband and my family. Everything else can wait. I love this quote:

“What do you suppose pilots do when they encounter turbulence?… Professional pilots understand that there is an optimum turbulence penetration speed that will minimize the negative effects of turbulence. And most of the time that would mean to reduce your speed. The same principle applies also to speed bumps on a road.

Therefore, it is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions.” Pres. Dieter F. Uchdorf, Counselor in the Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

3.       Get Help

If you have yet to find the cause of your bad attitude then it’s time to seek professional help. There is just no reason for you and your family to go on suffering. No worries! There is nothing to be embarrassed about. Sometimes is simply a matter of “re-wiring” and balancing hormones and chemicals in the body. The body is like a machine, sometimes it needs a little adjusting.

Believe me, as I started studying these aspects of discipline I felt as if someone had knifed my heart and then wrenched it around in there for good measure. Ladies, I’m not preaching cause I have no room to talk. This is a daily and sometimes minute to minute struggle for me (You can tell cause posted before on it:) . But let’s rally together, as women and as mothers and make the world a better place, one home at a time.

Fill ‘Er Up!

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So I promised in my last post that I would explain the crazy card-stock people standing on my kitchen counter….well, would you believe that they are part of our discipline training?

I’ve used various methods for teaching discipline training but it usually turned out that when it all came out in the wash I was using a punishment/reward program that was only an extrinsic motivation. I didn’t and don’t want that. I want my kids to WANT to OBEY, to WANT to be GOOD. Not because they want something in return or are trying to avoid a bad consequence. I want them to do good for the sake of BEING good. To FEEL what is the right thing to do. Does that make sense? Yes, its ideological and asking a lot of small children but I’m also all about reaching for the moon and at least catching some stars along the way.

One night as I was washing the dishes ( when I do my pondering 🙂 The thought came to me (yep, can’t take credit for it:) of revamping an idea that my husband had used for his team-training modules at work. For his example, he had used buckets and each team member was to fill it will nice things they noticed about others (there was more to it than that but you get the jist). Anyway, I thought that if I could help my kids visualize what their behaviors caused (or contributed to) in themselves and others than maybe it would help them want to make better choices.

So over the course of several Family Counsels this is what we did. Note: when referring to “good” and “bad”, it was based on our family rules and religious beliefs.

FC 1: Had a discussion/devotional on covenants or promises that we make to our Heavenly Father. When we are Christian people what do we commit to do and be?

FC 2: Go rock hunting!

FC 3: Make our own “mini-me”. Using manila folders the kids (and I) drew and cut out a picture that we made of ourselves and taped it to an glass jar full of rocks/beans (we couldn’t find enough rocks)

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FC 4: Discuss how our spirit can FEEL good choices and bad choices. Also, when we make good choices we can have the Holy Spirit to guide us and we have more happiness as a result of both.

FC 5: Discuss that our jar is like our spirit, when we do good things it fills up, bad things take away. Explained our goals of trying to keep our own and others jars filled up during the next week. If someone makes a bad decision then they must take rocks out of their own jar and anyone else that was involved in the decision (sometimes the whole family!). Then they need to think of a way they can fill those jars back up (“I’m sorry” is a start but more action is required). Also, if someone is “caught” doing good things without being “motivated” then they get to add to their jar and anyone else involved in their making a good decision (usually Mom is happier!)

Of course, this isn’t a perfect model of life. Also, the first day was a bit of a hassle trying to manage all the jar nonsense. I really thought about giving up in the first couple hours but even though it was involved and seemingly fluffy…. For us, I think it fulfilled it’s purpose.

By the third day, I could see my kids realizing how their behaviors affected not only them, but others. This time they could SEE a model of what happened to their spirit. For the first couple of days we really focused on how someone FELT when they made a good or bad decision so they could recognize that they could be guided, if they chose to be. I was especially impressed with how much understanding my 3 year old gained in this process- it seemed that  a light bulb went off for her when she saw that SHE could choose how her day would go.

We still have such a long way to go and this is only the beginning of what we’ve been doing as we concentrate on discipline (stay tuned for more posts on our triumphs and failures!), but it was a step or two in the direction we want to be going and that is always so encouraging!

So, what types of activities have helped your family understand or become more disciplined?

Love Gone Wrong?

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So I’ll tell you what this picture has to do with this post on my NEXT post….hehehe!

This is the beginning of what I’ll call a “Unit Study” on Discipline. Funny how every few years I have to read up on things I thought I had already read up on! Discipline is a struggle for me. I want to have things run like the meaning of the word implies…learning, guiding, following….Discipline and disciple have the same root word!

Unfortunately, I have a tendency to punish rather than discipline. I’m a control freak and perfectionist and I expect a lot from people, especially my children. I also am not naturally inclined to showing affection. So you can imagine what this combination can concoct….I’ll quote my sister, “One hot mess!”

When my first child was still an infant I read up on discipline and thought I had found my methods. I refreshed my reading every year but felt mostly comfortable with how things were going. Add a few more kids, different stages, several multi-cultural moves and other fluctuations and over the past year I’ve felt like I’m back on step one of the stairs.

Needless to say, I’m reading, praying, searching, pondering, and listening a lot and in a lot of different arenas to once again hone my skills and find what will work for our family. I’m finding that mostly I’m just needing to re-prioritize and slow down and remember that being a Mom is really the most important thing I can do right now.

To start on my journey I went back to “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. Have you read this? I would say it’s a must read for all married couples and especially if you have children. The 5 “love languages” are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, physical touch and quality time. The theory is that each person “communicates” and feels love in different ways. For example, since I first found this book I have always been a “Acts of Service” kind of gal. All the other languages are nice and some very important, but if you DO something for me, especially without being asked, I feel incredibly loved.

The website: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/ is wonderful as well. It explains the basics and also has an assessment that you can do with your spouse and children (I help my kids take it) that will help you determine what your main “love languages” are. I try to do the assessment every 6 months with both my husband and children, it is amazing how much can change in 6 months!

Each person in my family is very different and thus the way they feel loved is different too. This is a very helpful tool for me especially since I have one child that has a primary love language as physical touch and another as receiving gifts….these are on the bottom of my list! It’s been so good to remind myself that just because it is not a priority to me does not mean that I can ignore them. Actually, I must make them a priority so that those members of my family feel loved in the way that best fits their needs.

It is simply amazing to watch the immediate difference and spiritual uplift that comes into your life and home by focusing directly on showing love to people in the way they love it the most! I’ve found that when this is a priority, discipline flows much more naturally and everyone is happier.

So, what’s YOUR love language? Have you found that showing love in a specific way helps your relationship(s)?

Monkey See, Monkey Do

ImageOne of my son’s first words was “Crap”.

One of my daughter’s favorite things to do with her dolls is put them in “Time Out”, not always nicely.

When my children have a disagreement among themselves, more often than not, yelling is involved.

When my oldest daughter doesn’t agree with you she gives you a face that looks like she could slap you upside the head.

So why did they or do they do these things? Take a guess….

Yep, when my son was little I used the word “Crap” about as often as I said “No”. My daughter gets “time out” frequently of late, and I’m not always nice about it. I yell…..WAY more often than I should.  That look on my daughter’s face? Well, it’s like looking in the mirror for me.

The nice thing about this phenomenon is that it IS like a mirror that MAKES you face your weaknesses. The bad part is seeing those weaknesses ALL the time and facing up to them and THEN having to train it out of your child as well.

So, why the confession? More of an analysis for me really. I would say about 95% of the time, when I encounter a behavior and/or pattern in my children that I do not like I can trace its beginning back to teaching and training done in the home.

I’ve been thinking this over as I consider our character training for this next academic year. Thinking about what I MUST DO and BE in order to me the mother God and my children are expecting of me. The thing is, I can teach and train ‘til I die….but if I’m not talking the talk and walking the walk, there is very little likelihood that my children will have the character that I aspire them to have. No one listens to a hypocrite.

Does personality matter? Yep. Absolutely. That’s why the teaching and training cannot be identical for each child. That is also why it gets so complicated when you have more than 1 child in the home to deal with.

It’s just like a chemical reaction. There are some chemicals that we don’t mess with too much because they are so volatile. The same goes in the home….there are some personalities in our family that should not be corked in the same bottle for too long. There are also things we know that in our family we just steer clear of….our main triggers are over-scheduling/fatigue and “bad” (for us) eating habits. I know that when we start mixing in one or both of those ingredients there is bound to be a blow-up with someone.

Then I have to consider needs. Physical yes, but mental and emotional more. We cannot listen and learn if our needs are not met. Just think about when you are physically ravenous….can you do calculus? (Well, I can’t do calculus anyway, but you get the point). It’s the same chemical reaction mix. If my kids are not “fed” with all of THEIR needs then very little learning will happen. This is also a tricky one because every child is so different and thus their needs are as well.

It’s tricky, no doubt about it. There are times I feel discouragement start to trickle into my soul, leaving deep black valleys that can quickly fill up with despair. I may have made changes but I have light-years yet to travel on my road to perfection. If it were just me that would be one thing, but I have these little angels in my home that I must guide along the way.

But I am not alone. YOU are not alone. What great trust God must have in us to lend us HIS children to teach and train. He will not leave us alone to do it. I have been running across this message in my devotionals all week, one of my favorite verses of scripture says in beautifully,

Matthew 7:7-8:

aAsk, and it shall be bgiven you; cseek, and ye shall find; dknock, and it shall be opened unto you:        8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that aseekethfindeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Whenever I feel alone, whenever I feel like I’m the only one working….I stop and reflect….God NEVER  leaves us alone….WE walk away from HIM. It’s a promise….we seek, we find….we knock, the door opens….we ask, we receive. Yes, I have a lot of work to do. I have a lot of changing to do. But I have peace, knowing that the One that knows all, will be my guide….IF I but LET Him.