Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Find a New Year's Resolution Partner

My dog Gracie and I go on a morning walk EVERY day! We are like the postal service. Neither rain, sleet or snow keeps us from our morning walk. In fact, I'm certain that we have missed fewer days then the postal service the past 3 years.

My commitment to my morning walk with Gracie has little to do with my dedication and discipline. It is mostly because I have a very persuasive walking partner. Dogs love routines and they have surprisingly accurate internal clocks. Every morning Gracie is waiting (not so patiently) for me to finish breakfast. Then she waits outside my bedroom door while I get ready. Then she leads me to the hall closet to get her leash. On those rare occasions when a morning walk is not possible, the disappointed and confused look on her face is heartbreaking. That is why I don't like to miss too many days.

If going on a morning walk was my new year's resolution, I would have the perfect resolution partner. So regardless of your new year's resolution, find a persuasive resolution partner and you will be guaranteed success!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Single Dad Summer


Have you every wondered what Summer looks like for a single dad? It's Sunday evening and I am mapping out my week. Here's a glimpse at Monday.
  • Wake up at 4:30 a.m.
  • Eat breakfast and drink coffee. (Drinking coffee is a VERY important step.)
  • Take the dog for a walk. 
  • Shower and get ready for the day. (Sometimes I skip this step.)
  • Drive my son to his driver's education which starts at 6:00 a.m.
  • Take my daughter to cross country practice which begins at 7:30 a.m.
  • Pick my son up from driver's education at 8:00 a.m.
  • Pick my daughter up from cross country practice at 9:00 a.m.
  • Work
  • Take my son to Summer school at 12:15 p.m.
  • Pick my son up from Summer school.
  • Work
  • Take my daughter to violin lessons.
  • Answer the question "What's for dinner?" by saying "I don't know."
  • Pick my daughter up from violin lessons.
  • Decide what to get for dinner.
  • Go get dinner. (I don't make dinner very often.)
  • Eat dinner and feel guilty for feeding my kids fast food.
  • Laundry
  • Dishes
  • Work
  • Sleep! Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Monday, June 4, 2012

Hugs - A Single Dad's Perspective

Last week Dr. Jane Nelsen posted the parenting tool of Hugs. I wholeheartedly endorse the concept of hugs and I've had some success in the past with this parenting tool. But hugging is not something that comes easy for me. As a single dad with a son, I can relate to the Verizon commercial below.

http://www.adforum.com/creative-work/ad/player/34475750

My son and I don't go around hugging each other very often, but we manage to show each other that we care in other ways. The key concept is the connection you create with your children. So whether that is a hug or a high five, your children will feel the connection and know that you love them.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sibling Rivalry from the Perspective of a Younger Child

"Putting Kids in the Same Boat" is the most difficult Positive Discipline principle for me to grasp. Mainly because I had and evil older brother who constantly persecuted me while we were growing up. As a result, I have the perspective of the younger sibling with a victim mentality. I'm sure my older brother had issues he was dealing with such as; being dethroned by a younger brother, feeling less belonging and significance, etc. I don't know if picking on me and establishing his dominance over me ever made him feel better, I just know that if his goal was for me to live in fear...it worked.

So now that I am a parent, I have very little sympathy for the older sibling who bullies the younger sibling. Intellectually I understand the concept of "A Misbehaving Child is a Discouraged Child". I just don't seem to be able to put that theory into practical application.

Below are the suggestions from the Positive Discipline Tool Card "Put Kids in the Same Boat".

Instead of taking sides when children fight, treat them the same.

1) Give the same choice: “Kids would you like to go to the peace table or the wheel of choice?”
2) Show Faith: “Let me know when you have identified the problem and have ideas for solutions.
3) Leave. Fighting will diminish significantly when you stop taking sides-so long as you are having regular family meetings to teach problem-solving skills.

I have never been comfortable staying out of my kid's fights. My mantra has always been "we don't hit in this house". I also don't like abusive language and I won't stand for that either. My son is certain that these rules have been put into place so his younger sister can get away with anything. I know he feels that I favor his younger sister, which is probably true because I can relate with the younger sibling and she is a girl. I am trying to teach my son to treat women with respect.

I can't tell you what would happen if you stay out of your children's fights, because I have never done that. But I have used the method of "treat them both the same". That has worked best for me. If the kids are fighting I will tell them to go to their separate rooms until they can get along. Or if they are fighting over the television, I will turn off the television until they can get along. Regardless of the reason for their fight, I do my best to treat them the same.

The only time I stray from that formula is when I am right there in the same room with them and I witness the entire event. For example, when my son walks by my daughter while she is quietly drawing a picture and just smacks her in the head completely unprovoked. I don't have any patience for that kind of behavior.

I would love to hear how other parents are dealing with sibling rivalry and fighting.



Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Agreements and Follow Through

Making agreements with children is easy. Following through with those agreements is HARD!!!


Dr. Jane Nelsen explains that children do not share the same priorities as parents. As a parent, my priority is managing the household. This includes such things as laundry, dishes, trash, recycle, vacuuming, grocery shopping and preparing meals. Good heavens!!! No wonder children don't have the same priorities as adults. I don't even want those things to be my priorities! But the fact is...life involves managing the priorities of a household.

During family meetings I will make agreements with my children regarding chores. But my children usually don't follow through. So follow through becomes another one of MY priorities. The problem is, following through with children is more difficult than just doing everything myself. For example, if I am upstairs preparing dinner and the trash can is overflowing because my son forgot to empty it. I can spend 30 seconds emptying the trash can myself or 10 minutes tracking down my son and getting him to follow through with our agreement. I'm sure most parents can relate to this dilemma.

So does that mean we should give up and stop following through with our children? Absolutely not. But when do we get to reap the benefits from our efforts of following through? Based on my experience and observation, the benefits of following through with our children usually takes effect when our children move out of the house.  That's not very comforting right now, but Positive Discipline is based on long-range results.

Occasionally we will catch a glimpse of success when our children surprise us by following through without any reminders. That happens in my home about once a week and those little successes make it all worthwhile and remind me that my children might just make it in this world on their own someday. 

 


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Limiting Screen Time

I'm sitting here staring at my computer screen preparing to write a blog post about limiting screen time. My kids are in the other room playing video games. All of you are staring at your computer screen reading this post. What's wrong with this picture?

The fact is...we live in an age of technology. When most of us were growing up, we didn't have computers or cell phones. We did have televisions and I'm sure a lot of us spent our fair share of time watching Gilligan's Island, Star Trek, The Brady Bunch and (_________ fill in the blank of your favorite childhood television show). But we only had five channels. Eventually we got bored of watching TV and found something else to occupy our time.

Do you remember spending all day playing Monopoly? Creating a tiny city for your matchbox cars? Sleeping outside on the trampoline? The Slip 'N Slide? I could go on and on. The point is, we spent a lot less time in front of screens and we found other ways to entertain ourselves.

So why is it so hard to limit screen time today? I had this conversation with my children and my son said "That's because you didn't have all this cool stuff when you were a kid." And you know what? He's right! Video games finally appeared when I was a teenager, but I had to pay a quarter every time I played. It didn't take long to run out of money and then my friends and I left the video arcade and played basketball. But I'm sure if I had unlimited access I would have been like a gambling addict in Vegas. I probably would have never seen the light of day.

Just because our kids have unlimited access doesn't make it right. Or does it? I'm really not sure on this topic. Even though I would prefer that my kids spent less time with technology, they have well rounded lives. My kids both participate in sports at school. They both get straight A's. They have good friends. So why am I so worried about their screen time? Is it just "The Good Old Days" complex?

I've tried having "screen free" weeks in the past and those were the most miserable weeks of my life! I didn't get anything done, my kids were grumpy and expected me to entertain them. They fought with each other more and we all started getting on each other's nerves. I know you would like to hear a motivational success story, but it just didn't happen for me. Maybe that is because we are all screen addicts and those are the symptoms of withdrawal.

The truth is...I don't have the answer on this one. Maybe somebody else can provide some ideas for me or a success story. I'll be staring at my computer screen waiting to read all about it. :-)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Problem Solving with Positive Discipline


As I have been going through the Positive Discipline Tool Cards on a weekly basis, I am starting to find my favorite tools. One of my favorite tools is family meetings. We have been using the Family Meeting Album which helps me stay organized and consistent. Problem Solving is a big part of each family meeting. I find it difficult to problem solve effectively during our hectic weeks, but on the weekend during our family meetings we have more time to brainstorm for solutions.

I have included a sample problem solving page from one of our family meetings. As you can see, it helps to have a format for finding solutions. My daughter Emma was our scribe and both the kids participated in brainstorming for solutions. The following week we followed up to see how the solution was working. Both the kids agreed that it was working and Emma wrote "A++".