When building a bond with children, it’s good to remember that it is a two-way street. We sometimes think it has to solely be up to us to keep our relationship with our children strong by finding activities to do, creating crafts they may like, sharing our childhood memories with them, taking them to fun places, and so on. Basically sharing with them pieces of us as little building blocks. This is not a bad thing as that is how we build relationships with people. Sharing what is important to us, what we have learned, and things we have discovered. We do that with friends and family all the time. We talk about old memories with our spouse. We take our friends to restaurants we have recently discovered. We share books and recipes. But, like with any good relationship, it goes both ways. We need to be the recipient of that sharing in order for the other person to also build a bond with us. We need to let them tell us stories and share what they have discovered. This is what we are going to focus on for this #WeeklyKidChallenge, letting our kids connect with us.
Simple things to do this week.
- Let them choose
- Let them decide
- Let them pick
- Let them take you on an adventure
- Let them tell you stories
- Let them read their favorite book to you
- Let them tell you about their interests while you listen intently
- Ask them questions about their favorite things
- Let them pick out a meal and help cook it
- Let them teach you something
- Let them tell you jokes
- Play their favorite games
- Let them talk, and talk, and talk
Other important aspects to remember when building a bond with your children.
- Be careful to not be insulting to them or what interests them
- Try not to be easily distracted
- Be encouraging
- Be open to what your kids want to do (within reason, bungie jumping at 11 may not be a good idea)
- Try not to cut it short, plan for the time to spend with them
Sunday was one of many bitter-sweet days I, as a parent, faced (as I’m sure many of you have as well). My oldest left for camp. For a couple of days before he left, he would just randomly give one of us a hug and tell us he will miss us. This is his third year going and even though it was easier this year than it was the first, it was still hard to tell him good-bye knowing it will be a week until I see him again.
For this #WeeklyKidChallenge, we will actually being working in a couple of different areas since I will have more one on one time my daughter. One being what she has come up with one her own. She wants us to tidy up her brother’s room while he is gone since he left it in a mess trying to get all of his stuff packed before he had to leave. She also wants to make him a world in MineCraft and have a huge “Welcome Home,” banner and fireworks in the world. I love that she is thinking of him and is willing to spend some of her time and energy doing something for him because she knows it will make him happy. It is good to teach kids to think of others and to do random acts of kindness. It helps them grow as a person and teaches them to be thoughtful of others. Something like this shouldn’t be forced because it may cause bitterness towards the idea. But it can be encouraged.
- Tell them you are thinking of doing something nice for someone else, like a sibling or another family member, and ask if they want to help.
- Do something nice for them.
- Draw names out of a hat, like Secret Santa, and have them make a craft for the other one.
- If you have followed along with #WeeklyKidChallenge and have made notebooks (CLICK HERE TO READ) then have everyone draw a picture or write a note in another one’s notebook.
- Think big. Volunteer in your community as a family.
Another area we will be working on this week is teaching my daughter that she can catch more flies with honey than she can vinegar. My daughter is not only the youngest in our house, she is also the youngest out of her close cousins that she sees regularly. Sometimes it seems like she feels she has to be forceful, borderline rude at times, to be heard amongst the older kids. When she was younger, she followed along with whatever they wanted to do. Now, she has her own ideas and wants when they all get together. I’m hoping to work with her this week to teach her that being rude is not how she should go about getting what she wants. I’m going to give her tools and go over different situations with her.
- It’s all about compromise. In any relationship, it is up to all parties to take the other one’s feelings and wants into consideration. On more than one occasion I’ve noticed with my kids and their cousins that they want to play together, but not do the same thing. One will want to play dolls, while another wants to go outside, while another wants to watch a movie, and another will want to play a video game. They all end up doing their own thing and are upset that at least one of them didn’t want to play with them. I’m going to go over this situation and teach her that as much as she may want to play with dolls that her cousin may want to go outside just as much and it is better to compromise by both of them playing outside for a while then playing with dolls later, or vice versa.
- Ask, don’t demand. Like in the situation above, how she asks her brother or cousins may determine how they’ll respond. I know personally I wouldn’t want one of my cousins demanding that I go watch a particular movie with them while what I want to watch gets put on the back burner until the next time. Neither would she, her brother, or her cousins. So I’m going to role-play with her some so it will become natural for her to ask rather than demand.
- Don’t forget manners. Another thing I’ve noticed with her is that when she starts to feel pushed aside by the older kids, she starts to get rude. She will tell them to move rather than to say “Excuse me,” and things like that. I know it’s because her feelings are getting hurt and she is still unsure on how to handle herself when she feels rejected. But, it is still not an excuse. So, we are going to work on her still keeping her composure and not forgetting her manners even if she feels hurt.
I hope you join us this week by either having your kids preform random acts of kindness for others in your family or community, or working on manners with them this week.
Image Credit: James Thompson via Flickr
What does united front parenting look like? It is something so simple, yet can mean a great deal on how your children respond to your teachings. United front parenting is just that, a united front. Both parents, standing together with the same values, principles, and goals for their children. They will follow the same reward and consequence standards; they will be in unison when it comes to discipline and teaching. Being in a united front with your spouse can greatly increase the effectiveness of your parenting by creating a stability that your children need.
Many complications can occur when parents do not stand united.
- It can cause confusion in the home.
- Kids can learn how to play one parent against the other parent to get what they want.
- It can cause unnecessary arguing in the home.
- One parent may be viewed as lenient while the other one is viewed as being too harsh.
- One or both parents may try to over compensate what they feel is lacking, whether it mean being stricter or more lenient, creating an unbalanced atmosphere.
- It can cause division in the home.
Here are a few steps to help become a united front.
1. Don’t undermine the other parent
It can be difficult to see your spouse being either too harsh or too lenient when dealing with your children. You may want to speak up against your spouse and right the wrong you see him/her doing. DON’T. It will tell your children that you don’t value your spouse’s parenting, taking away creditability and loosing respect for both you and your spouse. Does that mean you completely stay out of it? No. They are also your children and you should have a say in the matter. But don’t contradict your spouse in front of your kids, especially in an argumentative way.
If your children are younger, simply ask them to go to their room while you two discuss the situation.
For older children, it can actually be beneficial for them to stay in the room while you guys talk it over because they will learn from your example on how you can disagree, but still come to a decision together.
Another way you can undermine your spouse is by going behind his/her back and letting the kids do something you both have agreed against. If a household rule is to not let your children have any desert if they do not eat all of their vegetables, yet when your spouse is not looking you hand over a candy bar with a warning, “Don’t tell,” you have just let your children know that rules do not apply when you are around. They will be looking to you to do it again and again and eventually not listen to either one of you. If you honestly felt like this was a situation where the rule could be bent, say your child really tried to eat the vegetables but had truly gotten full, then talk to your spouse about it and let it be a decision you both make together.
2. Don’t make one out to be the bad guy
There may be times when you and your spouse do not come to an agreement, either in a big situation or a small one. In the example above, where one parent feels like a rule could be bent, the other parent may not feel the same way. Maybe your child, who could not finish his vegetables, got full as the result of him getting into some snacks right before supper. So, your spouse feels he should not be rewarded. The last thing you should say is “Well, son, I tried. But your dad’s not being a nice daddy tonight.” This will immediately create division.
3. Have set punishments
Often times, it will be up to just one parent to give a punishment. It is not necessary to have a discussion with your spouse for every little infraction. By having a standard that you both agree on and stick to, it will let your kids know that when they are with just one parent, the punishment would be the same as if they were with both and discourage them from trying to act out thinking they can get away with it. A few time I’ve heard a parent say to their child, “Wait until your mom gets home and hears what you’ve done,” or, “Do I need to call your dad to come home and deal with you?” By saying that, the child knows that that one parent is the weak link. There is no real threat and the child will continue to act in the same manner until the other parent comes home. But, by having set punishments that both parents use when necessary, the child will be less likely to take advantage of one parent being gone.
4. Back the other parent up
No matter how strict or lenient a punishment may be, chances are your kids will think it’s mean. They may come running to you telling you how mean the other one is being. Don’t give into it. Doing so will result in them becoming a tattle-tail on their own parent and put you in a bad position. Instead, back your spouse up.
5. For big situations, talk before making a decision
When kids get older, they want more freedom and the ability to do more than they had when they were younger. They will have opportunities to go to parties, go to week long camps, go on dates, drive, etc. When the time comes and your children ask to do something that you and your spouse have normally not allowed, it would be best to discuss it rather than one parent just saying yes and the other one not agreeing and getting upset. By getting into the habit while they are younger of talking about the bigger situations, your children will be accustom of you two making these kind of decisions together.
6. Be the example
Often times it is hard for one parent to discipline their children over an occurrence if the other parent is the one teaching them to do it. It is confusing to the children and will cause them to view the disciplining parent as just a stick in the mud, someone not to listen to, not to trust, not to respect. One great example of this is a family sitting around the dinner table and one parent is showing great lack in table manners. This will usually result in the children following suit, wanting to join in, and the other parent trying to teach their children better with no success at all.
I know many of you just had an image flash through your head of when you were a child seeing that around your own dinner table. For others, it may have been as recent as last night. I know it probably happens with just about every family and it may not seem like that big of a deal. Partially, it may not be. Eventually, the kids will learn that manners at someone else’s home or in a public sitting need to be stricter than they are at home. But, notice I said, eventually. By having this kind of division, it may take the children longer to learn that it is really not funny to belch at the table, grab food with their hands or blow bubbles in their milk.
But that means no fun at all! Not completely. It does not mean that both parents have to be extremely strict, sitting at the table with their backs straight, napkins on their laps, fork in one hand, knife in the other, and the only acceptable topic for conversation is the weather. What it means is that both parents can have a little fun but that BOTH parents also need to teach them that in a public sitting it is not acceptable to blow their straw wrapper across the table or to take a big bite of broccoli and then with a huge grin ask “Is there something stuck in my teeth?” (We are civilized people, I promise.)
This is what we will be working on for this #WeeklyKidChallenge, discussing certain areas of our parenting to make sure we are standing as a united front.
Boy, Daddy has really been getting a lot of attention around here lately. He has been doing even better than he was last week, walking around with a cane now and many times just on his own. I’m sure in a few more weeks he’ll be able to get back to work. But, in the mean time, we are going to take advantage of him being home. Yes, home, completely stuck at home to where if the kids want to tell him hour long stories, he has no were else to go. It is great.
Father’s day is coming up real soon, so we are going to make him some presents. CLICK HERE for some great ideas. I’ll post a new blog featuring what we make along with the tutorials. I would love to see what you guys make! Post your pictures here, on my FaceBook page or on Twitter using #WeeklyKidChallenge.
My husband is doing much better than what I had expected him to do only a week and a couple of days after surgery. The first day in the hospital they had him up and walking around just eight hours afterwards, though it was very painful for him. He has been getting himself around the house with the aid of a walker and doing better every day. However, he is starting to go stir crazy. He has not left the house since we got home last Sunday. Even though it has only been a week, he is starting to throw words around like ‘cabin fever.’
Last week we took a break from school work so that we could be readily available to help him. The kids were extremely helpful by getting him drinks, ice packs, keeping him company, and helping me move his knee bender on and off the bed when needed. Even though this week they need to get back to hitting the books, we are going to make this #WeeklyKidChallenge a week to really spend time with daddy by playing games, talking to him, and my daughter will continue to read him bed time stories. Last week we were really more concerned with his physical health. This week we are going to concentrate on his mental health by keeping him entertained and engaged. Today, while I had to run a couple of errands, he stepped up (figuratively speaking) and helped the kids with their schoolwork. I’m going to also get him more involved with what we do during the day on top of the games and that we will be playing with him in the evening.
If you have been keeping up with our #WeeklyKidChallenge, this will be a great week to spend time playing games inside or outside as a family.
For this Weekly Kid Challenge, my kids are learning bedside manners. My husband had knee surgery Friday, so he is in need of some extra TLC. My kids have stepped up to help out. We made a chart to keep up with his prescriptions, they have gotten him drinks, taken food to him, my son (the strong boy he is) has been helping me with the knee bender and my daughter has enjoyed staying in our bedroom to keep him company while I do other things around the house. So far, they have been a great help. I’m hoping by the end of this they will have learned more compassion and understanding for others in need and have a better ability to step up when needed. Plus, all this extra time with daddy will be great and hopefully their relationship with him will be even stronger.
If you’ve read my other post, As Simple as a Note, then you know my daughter LOVES writing little “I love you,” notes all the time. It’s hard keeping up with the little post it notes, or ones ripped out of a notebook. In the last few days I’ve received several little colorful “I love you,” pictures. Just the other night, while the kids were having quiet time in their rooms before bed and I was winding down in the living room, my daughter brings me one of her lovely notes. After thanking her and giving her a hug, I sat it down on the coffee table intending to take care of it when I got up again, but forgot. The next morning, she discovered it on the floor under the coffee table. I could tell it hurt her feelings even though she did understand it just fell off. So, I’ve decided for this week we are going to make our own notebooks. We are going to take copy paper and cover it with construction paper which we will color and decorate. Click here for ideas. The notebooks are for others to write or color in and the pages are intended to stay in the notebook. This will be a great way for us to still exchange notes, but it will be easier to keep up with.
If you guys also make your own notebooks, I would love to see them! Post your pictures here, on my Facebook page or on Twitter using #WeeklyKidChallenge.
Image Credit: Geneva Vanderzeil via Flickr