Thursday, April 17, 2014

Communication is Key

Another Parenting Tip from The National Center for Biblical Parenting…
Communication is at the center of all relationships and is the key to closeness and feeling connected. Emotional connectedness can come in many ways but understanding communication helps us protect closeness in family life. In fact, five levels of communication provide opportunities for increased closeness. Each level serves an important role for growing deeper. If tension and stress dominate your relationship with your child, start working through these communication levels and you’ll begin to see significant change take place.

1. Greetings are the oil that keep relationships cordial. Hugging your children as part of a greeting or welcoming them to breakfast in the morning makes an important statement about the value of your relationship.

2. Exchanging information about our lives helps people know what’s going on and contributes to a sense of connectedness. As you go through your day, think of a couple of interesting things you could share with your child.

3. Sharing opinions and judgments is the next level. Some people are hesitant to share their opinions because they feel like they’ll have to back them up or face an argument. Look for ways to affirm your children. “That makes sense” can be an encouraging statement even if you disagree. “Thank you for sharing your opinion with me,” can be a statement that encourages openness.

4. Communicating emotions takes us another level deeper. Facts and opinions often have emotions hidden behind them. “I bet that hurt” or “I can tell you’re excited about that,” acknowledges feelings your child might be experiencing.

5. Sharing spiritually brings an amazing amount of closeness into a relationship. Praying together, sharing what God is teaching you, enjoying worship together, and having a sense of spiritual fellowship are all ways to enjoy the deepest level of communication. As you strengthen your spiritual lives together, you’ll see more and more opportunities to discuss heart issues.

All five levels of communication are important. Don't think you can skip the first few and still experience closeness. Look for opportunities to enjoy all the levels with your kids.

This parenting tip comes from the book Parenting is Heart Work by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Strong-Willed Children are a Blessing

Another Parenting Tip from The National Center for Biblical Parenting…
There’s a lot of talk about strong-willed kids. These children know what they want and are not easily deterred. They’re often driven, inflexible, and know how others should fit into their plans. They have the determination to face resistance, even if that resistance is some kind of authority in their lives.

The reality is that these kids will likely be leaders in the future, and they demonstrate many of those qualities now. However, all good leaders need to learn how to follow and if not trained, these kids can become tyrants. So, parents of these gifted children have their work cut out for them.

We’re finding more and more that these kids challenge the typical behavior modification system of rewards and punishment. Parents lament, “nothing works.” They say, “He doesn’t care if I take everything away, he won’t change.” “She doesn’t care about the star chart, the trip this weekend, or dessert.” In that reality the key to parenting them is revealed. Children who are characterized as “strong-willed” have an internal motivation toward their agenda, and are less affected by external motivations so a heart-based approach is essential.

A parent’s use of rewards and punishment have less influence on this child because the motivation is coming from inside. So, how do we help this internally motivated child move in the right direction? Since external motivation has little effect, parents must learn to mold and guide that internal motivation.

It starts with a good understanding of the heart. The heart contains the child’s desires, emotions, passions, beliefs, and convictions. As the heart is molded toward Godly character and responsibility, then the strong-willed child develops convictions to motivate right behavior, desires to do what’s right, and an internal sense of satisfaction when being responsible, caring about others, or telling the truth.

If you find your child unresponsive to attempts to motivate with reward and punishment, try to identify a heart quality that needs to develop. Heart qualities are things like kindness, thoughtfulness, generosity, initiative, and diligence.

Talk to your child about the heart quality and build vision for why it will be helpful in life. Then work together to develop a plan for building this quality in your child’s heart. Pray together that God would increase this quality, and then talk about it regularly. Overtime you’ll see your child make right choices due to the change on the inside.

For more ideas about developing a heart-based approach, consider the book Parenting is Heart Work by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Parenting Babies

Another Parenting Tip from The National Center for Biblical Parenting…
Parenting is a complicated job with very few easy answers. When parents try to simplify it by setting policies they think will last for years, they are making a serious mistake.

One mom said about her one-month-old son, "I'm going to stop the teenage rebellion right here." She proceeded to set some pretty strict rules about feeding and sleep times.

An important thing to understand about children is that they grow through stages of development. At each stage their needs are different. A young baby must have physical and emotional needs met continually in order to develop a sense of security and to view the world as a safe place. Teens need something completely different as they try to develop their own value system and decide who they are going to be as adults.

Because children go through stages, parents must make several shifts in their parenting. Just because you allow your infant to eat "on demand" doesn't mean that she'll be demanding when she grows up. Several stages of growth and maturity will take place between now and then. You'll want to change the way you parent according to your child's developmental needs.

If your infant is having trouble sleeping, maybe he needs more love and cuddle time. Getting on a schedule will come eventually but we're not just trying to establish authority in a baby’s life. We're also helping an infant feel good about being in the world and relating to others in it. There will come a time when you recognize that your child needs to develop some independence at night or to get on a schedule for feeding. When those times come then be ready to make the changes necessary.

Before we're able to effectively set limits, we first need to establish relationship. Infancy is a time to bond and learn the foundations of communication. We want our babies to know we care about them and their needs.

Firmness and tight boundaries are important as a child grows but be careful about sacrificing love and security needs in the process.

This parenting tip comes from The Parenting Shifts Series by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN. Each book helps you understand your child's unique needs and abilities at that stage.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Teaching Responsibility

Another Parenting Tip from The National Center for Biblical Parenting…
Teaching responsibility is time consuming because it requires practice. It’s sometimes just easier for tired, busy parents to do things themselves. While this may get a job done faster, it doesn’t teach responsibility. What kids often learn is that, if they resist long enough, they won’t have to do it. Or, they develop the opinion that cleaning up around the house is Mom’s job. 

Children can learn to take initiative, but it takes some practice and different cues. By transferring responsibility to kids and then holding them accountable, you’re able to build internal motivation instead of being the parental motivation for your child.

You might establish a cue for your son to help him hold himself accountable by saying something like, "One of the things I know you like to do when you come home from school is get a snack. Maybe it would be good for you to establish a reminder for yourself that says that you need to put your backpack in your room before you can have snack. Then, if I see the backpack on the floor I can just point out that you're having snack and that will be a reminder to you that you haven't taken care of the backpack yet."

When parents draw attention to these kinds of cues, then kids learn to ask questions of themselves and associate the cue with their own personal responsibility. You might say, "I’ve noticed that when you leave the bathroom there are several things left undone. Remember that when you leave the bathroom, you need to turn off the light. When your hand hits that switch, that’s the time to look around and do a responsibility check before you leave the bathroom." All you need to do now is say, "Did I turn off the light in the bathroom?" and that question means a lot more than flipping the switch.

Kids learn responsibility by developing internal motivation systems. Your job, as a parent, is to require them to develop the systems and then hold them accountable to use them.

An effective way to teach responsibility is to require children to report back when the task is complete. In fact, you might find yourself saying regularly, "The job isn’t done until it’s checked." You then can inspect the work, requiring an interruption to your schedule. But if you consistently inspect, then you’ll be able to set a standard for the work.

Jesus illustrated responsibility by using the word "faithful" to describe stewards who were left in charge of talents while the landowner was away. When he returned, he had each steward report back, and then to those who did well he said in Matthew 25:21, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" You might point out in that Bible story that it's the stewards who were faithful that received more privileges. Much like it is in your home each day.

This parenting tip comes from Cultivating Responsibility 
by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN, one of the books in our 2nd Quarter Special!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Emotional Cues

Another Parenting Tip from The National Center for Biblical Parenting…
Since the heart is where decisions are formed, commitments made, and beliefs established, your child’s emotions become an opportunity for parenting. Look for ways to use your children's emotions to help you understand their hearts.

Many parents are afraid of their children’s emotions and try to minimize them. It’s true that one parental responsibility is to help our children manage their feelings effectively. But, contrary to popular belief, emotions aren’t an enemy. They reveal valuable information about what’s going on in the heart.

Children may express their emotions freely, giving parents obvious cues to guide their teaching and correction in this area. Some children, however, are more reserved, processing emotions internally without outbursts, tantrums, or crying episodes. Parents of these children must be even more aware of small cues, engage their children in conversation more often, and look for ways to help their children work through life’s challenges without clogging their hearts with unresolved emotional residue.

Excitement uncovers what your children get passionate about. Joy reveals what your kids like. Anxiety discloses where your children feel weak or lack control. Sadness pinpoints pain in a child’s life. And anger reveals unmet desires, a hurtful experience, or a violation of what they believe is right.

Don’t back away from your child’s emotional intensity. Instead, figure out what else is going on in the heart. Kids long to connect with others, but many don’t know how. Emotions are an essential tool for understanding and building relationships. Teach your children how to see, understand, control, and relate to emotions and you’ll give them a gift they’ll use for the rest of their lives.

This parenting tip is from the book, Parenting is Heart Work by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Dealing with Morning Dawdling

Another Parenting Tip from The National Center for Biblical Parenting…
Mornings can be a stressful time for families. One single mom told how she addressed this for her children, ages 9, 10, and 11. "I didn't like what I was seeing in me. I heard myself nagging and prodding them along, yelling, "You're going to be late. You better hurry and brush your hair." "Get your shoes on." So she gathered the children together one evening to introduce a new plan.

"You three are getting older. Tomorrow begins a new system in which you're going to manage yourselves. I've been doing a lot of yelling in the morning and I don't want to do that anymore. So here's the plan. I'm not going to wake you up in the morning. Here is a new alarm clock for each of you. You can decide what time you want to get up and it will wake you.

"It's about here in the conversation that they're asking, 'What's the catch?' They knew something was coming.

"You're right, we're going to have check points each morning. At 7:15 am you need to be down for breakfast, all dressed with shoes on, and your bed made. By 7:50 am you need to have completed your chores and have combed your hair. Those are the checkpoints.

"To help you be motivated to meet these check points, I have something positive and something negative. Let's start with the positive. First, if you meet your two check points each morning for five mornings then I will allow you to watch a video on the weekend. However, if you miss one check point on a morning you will have to go to bed a half hour earlier that evening, since you must need more sleep in order to get up and get yourself ready." They ended the meeting positively as the mom taught the children how to set their alarms. They felt in control and eager to manage themselves the next morning.

The following day she was in bed and heard alarms going off and feet shuffling. She wasn't quite ready to get up and began having second thoughts about her great plan. In the end though, it worked. Her children were successful at getting ready and Mom didn't have to nag or be harsh. She replaced yelling and nagging with firmness and a clear plan with clear consequences, all in a positive atmosphere of cooperation.

This parenting tip is from the book, Say Goodbye the Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kidsby Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Be Firm Without Being Harsh

Another Parenting Tip from The National Center for Biblical Parenting…
Some parents believe that the only way to be firm is to be harsh. Firmness says that a boundary is secure and won't be crossed without a consequence. Harshness uses angry words and increased volume to make children believe that parents mean what they say. Some parents have assumed that firmness and harshness must go together. One mom said, "The thought of separating the two is like listening to a foreign language—it sounds nice but doesn't make any sense."

How do you make the change? Two things will help you remove harshness from your interaction with your children: Dialogue less and show less emotion.

In an attempt to build relationship, some parents spend too much time dialoguing about instructions. They try to defend their words, persuade their children to do what they're told, or logically explain the value of obeying. This is often counterproductive. Parents then resort to anger to end the discussion, complicating matters further.

"But," one mom said, "I thought talking and showing emotion are signs of a healthy family, leading to closeness in family life." And that is true when they are used in the right way. Unfortunately, when added to the instruction process, these two ingredients confuse children and don't give them the clear boundaries they need. These are two good things, just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Firmness requires action, not anger. Having a toolbox of consequences is important to help move children along in life. It's not optional. Some parents use anger as their consequence. These parents need more tools that will help their children make lasting changes.

If you find yourself being harsh, take time to reevaluate your response. More action, less yelling can go a long way to bring about significant change.

This parenting tip is from the book, Say Goodbye the Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kidsby Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.