Healthy Independence.

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shoes

Our jobs as parents are to mold and teach this little person that was given to us to be a functional adult.  One way that we do that is by teaching independence.  Now, I do not mean that you kick your six year old out of the house to fend for himself.  I mean preparing your child to function as an adult on his own when the time comes.  Here are some helpful tips to start teaching independence.

1. Give children appropriate responsibilities.  As adults we all know that responsibilities are one of the things that we all have day in and day out.  Your children are going to have those as well.  Having a sense of responsibility makes you feel that you have a purpose.  It makes you feel that you are needed and wanted.  Children need to feel that way as well.  When we give out responsibilities make sure it is a task that your child can successfully handle.  Do not set them up for failure. Also let them do it.  You can instruct them on how it is done but let them do it.  If Brad is responsible for the trash and he may not be coming home, it is his responsibility to get some one to take out the trash for him.

2. Let them find their way.  I know that Savanah may not make up the bed with those sharp military corners that you like. But she does get up every morning and makes up her bed to the best of her ablity.  Please do not go back and remake her bed because it is not up to your standards.  I saw a post the other day that said that 8+1=9 but so does 5+4.  We are getting the same answer but using different methods.  Same thing with your child.  They get the job completed but they may do it their way.  That is what you want for your child, for them to think for themselves.

3.Be consistent.  This is always a big thing in your parenting journey.  Children pick up on inconsistencies and they start becoming inconsistent themselves.  Be an example.  Let your yes be yes and your no be no.

4. Help them make healthy decisions.  Let them decide on what they want to wear shorts in 30 degree weather explain to them why this is not a good decision.  Then let them show you what would be the best thing for them to wear. Celebrate their good decisions.

5.Help your child talk through solutions. Be a listening ear.  If you let your child talk through situations they will be able to find suitable solutions or almost suitable. They may need a nudge here and there but let them come up with the solution to their problems.

6.Create opportunities for your child to be independent.  Let them choose what is for dinner one night.  Give them a part of the grocery list and let your children go in pairs to pick those things out.  Let them redecorate their room.  Give them an opportunity to be independent.

7. Set some clear expectations.  Let them know that they are an important part of this family and with that comes expectations that they must follow.  Such as curfews, unplugging at the dinner table, or cleaning their room.  Let them know what that means to you and what those things look like. Also give them instructions and make sure that they understand fully, even if you have to repeat it a couple of times.

8.Be Open.  Be open to them figuring out the world on their own.  Give them some healthy space.  Let them work through tough situations.  When they ask you what you think about something.  A good thing to say is “I will always have advice for you and I am so glad you came to me.  However, I first want to hear what you think you should do.”  This creates dialogue between you and your child creating a strong bond between you two.

9. Let them fail to their way to success.  I know that you have been through so many life failures however those things helped to groom you into the person that you are today.  The same goes for your child.  I know that it breaks your heart to see your child hurt, disappointed, or sad.  However those emotions and situations builds character.  So sometimes you have to let them fail but be right there to comfort, talk to them about what they can do differently next time, and listen to them. Which brings me to number ten.

10. Let them know you are there for them.  You are their support system.  They look to you as an example and as a sounding board throughout their life.  Let them know that you are challenging them to be the best them that they can be, but you will always be there when they need you.  You may not always pick up the pieces however you are there to give encouragement or to be their rock.

What sort of ways do you help your child become and independent child?  I would love for you to share.  Comment below or connect with us on facebook and/or twitter.

Are you time in or time out??

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time outToday I read an article on ahaparenting.com that was about a fairly new to me concept of “time-in” instead of a “time-out” approach to discipline. The article spoke on how having a space for a child to have cuddle time if she is acting out her emotions in a negative manner. Time-in says that you should let the child know that you recognize that she is having a hard time and that you understand that she is feeling some type of way. You reiterate over and over that you are here for her and that you love her. Ok great. Then the article goes on to disprove the time-out approach. It stated that it does not allow the child to properly express herself, it creates power struggles, it makes children feel as if they are bad, and it adds or gives abandonment issues. This was my summarized version you can read the complete article here.

There are some things that I agree with when it comes to time in. I like the fact that you acknowledge that your child is dealing with some feelings and emotions causing her to act out. I like the fact that it forces you not to ignore the behavior and take out some precious time with the child while it is much needed. However I do have some issues with time-in. My issues with time-in are:

  1. Most of the time acting out behaviors in a negative way has something to do with gaining attention. This teaches your child that anytime that she may be craving attention from you she can just act out in a negative way and here you will come to hug and cuddle with her. It creates an unhealthy pattern.
  2. She is ultimately getting a reward for acting out. So rules and boundaries does not matter. Do you think when she gets old enough to drive the police is going to care if she had a bad day if she is doing 98 mph in a 55 mph zone. That is why we have to teach them about self soothing. Do you think he is going to take her to a cuddle spot? It may be a cuddle spot alright.. That is why we have to teach them about self soothing.  Teach your child that there are consequences to every action.
  3. Letting your child continue to yell and speak disrespectfully to you because she needs to move herself to cry to cleanse her of her emotions. I will never tolerate disrespect. You can express yourself, even as a child, without being disrespectful. It is not a power struggle because there will be no struggle when it comes to that topic. You think that as an adult your child is going to be permitted to talk to her boss disrespectful without some type of repercussion?

I also like some aspects of time-out. I like the way that the child can clearly recognize when she has made a poor decision to negatively act out their emotions.   However I do have issues with time out as well.

  1. You most of the time are dragging the child to time out.
  2. The child sits there without any instructions and it is just a waste of time. (I do not like wasting time)
  3. Time out is not a constructive consequence.

I can look at both sides of the time methods and some things I do not agree with and some things I totally get. However I want to share my method that somewhat combines both time in and time out. I would like to call it going to the thinking chair. This is how it works.

  1. The child does some negative act of emotional expression in which boundaries have already been set and expectations have been made clear.
  2. You look at the child in her eyes. Explain to her what she did that was unacceptable. Then you let her know that she needs to spend time on the thinking chair.
  3. The thinking chair is equipped with paper, pencils, and crayons at all times.
  4. While in the thinking chair the child will think about what she has done wrong and will answer these questions with words or a drawing.
  5. The questions are: why do you think you are in the thinking chair? Why did you choose to act in that way? What made you feel like acting in that way? If you ever feel like that again how will you let mommy know about your feelings? How can mommy help you with your feelings?
  6. After these questions have been answered they will bring you the paper(s). You then sit with them with undivided attention and actively listen to what they have to say.
  7. Address all necessary concerns and validate their feelings. End with a hug and an “I love you”.

See best of both worlds. The child knows clearly that the behavior is not acceptable. You are teaching boundaries and behavior limits. You have set expectations. You have given them positive undivided attention. You have given them a way to learn how to problem solve. You are empowering them to take responsibility for their actions and to think before reacting.

Try this method and let me know how it works for your child. Please share with us on twitter and facebook.