Posted in Parenting

To Argue or Not to Argue (in front of your kids) + 10 Rules for Fair Fighting

All couples disagree/argue/fight. It happens, whether people want to admit it or not. And guess what? It’s healthy to argue and disagree, if you can do so appropriately.  So let’s look at the pros and cons of arguing in front of your kids.

  • Pro: It normalizes arguing. If your child NEVER sees their parents disagree or argue, they may grow up with unrealistic expectations and think they should never argue with a partner/friend/spouse.
  • Con: It can cause stress on kiddos. I’ve had lots of kiddos disclose to me seeing parents argue or fight, and feeling worried about it.
  • Pro (if you can argue in a healthy way): you get to model for your kids what healthy disagreements and resolutions look like – having you as an example makes it more likely that they can be healthy arguers.
  • Con (if you can not argue in a healthy way): you set a bad example of arguing, which makes it way more likely that your kids won’t learn how to argue or disagree in a healthy way.
  • Pro (for caregivers): it might help you argue in a more healthy way if you have an audience. Knowing that the children are watching might motivate you to disagree appropriately.
  • Con: if the kiddos are around, it can be easier to pull them into the argument, which can have a negative effect on the child’s emotional state.

 

So to argue or not to argue (in front of your kids)? My opinion is that it’s Ok to argue/disagree in front of kids, ONLY as long as you can do so calmly and appropriately.  What does “appropriately” mean?  I like these rules I found online:

10RulesForFairFighting1

IF you can argue and stick to these rules, I don’t see anything wrong with arguing in front of your children.  As mentioned before, everyone disagrees and argues.  If you can do so following the rules above, you’ll be setting a good example of disagreeing appropriately.  IF you CANNOT stick to the rules above, table the discussing/arguing/disagreeing for later.  IF you find yourself in the middle of a disagreement in front of the kids and realize you (or your spouse) is not capable of following the rules above, STOP and take a break.  You can say something like, “I cannot talk about this calmly right now.  Let’s talk about it after the kids have gone to bed.”  A statement like that is also a great thing to model for children!

Posted in Parenting

Twelve Things I Hope For My Daughter

1. I hope that she will be kind to everyone… regardless of who they love or who they voted for, regardless of the color of their skin, regardless of if anyone is watching.

2. I hope others can see God’s light, joy, peace, and LOVE when they interact with her.

3. I hope she makes smart financial decisions and isn’t burdened by debt.

4. I hope she loves to travel and makes it a priority when she’s grown.

5. I hope she is strong enough to accept help from others when she needs it, whether physically, financially, or emotionally.

6. I hope she never doubts that she is loved.

7. I hope that (someday a long time from now!) she finds a partner who will accept her, respect her, love her, value her, and support her.

8. I hope she doesn’t hold back from trying something due to fear of failing or fear of what others might think.

9. I hope she can remain optimistic about the world, despite daily news of violence.

10. I hope she has a desire to help others in some capacity.

11. I hope she chooses a career because she is passionate about it, not because of money/salary/benefits.

12. I hope she has a healthy balance of introversion and extraversion… that she can easily make friends, but enjoy solitude.

Posted in Uncategorized

Each One of Us Matters: A Poem About Acceptance

I wanted to share a fun little poem I wrote after reading multiple news stories about people being intolerant of differences.  The style is partially inspired by all the Dr. Seuss books I’ve been reading my daughter.  It presents the differences people may have in a silly way, which I think might help kids to understand that our differences don’t have to be a huge barrier to accepting each other.

 

People come in all sizes and shapes
Some love strawberries, some love grapes

Some are boys and some are girls
Some have straight hair, some have curls

Some have red hair, others have blonde
Some have lots of hair, some have none

Some have dark skin, some have light
Some need glasses, others have perfect sight

Some have two moms and others two dads
Some watch the football game, some just the ads

Some have tattoos, some have scars

Some see figures when they look at the stars

Some are friendly, others are shy
Some prefer cake, others prefer pie

Some walk on feet, some roll on wheels
Some ride on bikes, some in automobiles

Some like burgers, others never eat meat
Some have messy homes, others have neat

Some eat peanuts, some eat none
Some like the cold, while some like the sun

Some like donkeys, while others like elephants
Some work at schools, while a few will be president

Some are fast, while others are slow
Some like to sleep a lot, some are always on the go

Some sleep on their tummies, others sleep on their backs
Some live in mansions, some live in shacks

What’s important is not what sets us apart
What’s most important is what’s on the inside, in our heart

We should always be kind to everyone we meet,
Whether they like their food salty, sour, or sweet

Each one of us matters; we all are unique
Whether we have few or lots of freckles on our cheeks

Posted in Emotion Identification, Emotion Regulation

Inside Out Feelings and Calming Strategies Worksheets

love using Inside Out when working with kids on emotion identification and emotion regulation.  It’s a fun movie and kids generally have a positive response when they see any of the characters from Inside Out, which mean the activity usually goes rather well.

I have created this worksheet to help kids identify how they’re feeling, how their body might be feeling, and some calming strategies they can use to help calm down.  This is similar to the Inside Out Feelings Book that I posted, but this worksheet is all on one piece of paper… and the reason for that is that I thought it would be nice to print this worksheet out and put it somewhere in the home (on the fridge, maybe?) as a visual prompt from kiddos.

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Download it here: Inside Out Feelings and Calming Strategies Worksheet

What I would do is sit down and help your kiddo fill in the blanks on the worksheet – for each of the four emotions (joy, anger, fear, sadness) there are 3 lines to write in body signals (how their body feels when they feel that emotion) and 3 lines to write an appropriate calming strategy.  Some of the body signals and calming strategies might overlap, but it would probably be beneficial to make sure there’s some variety!

Once it’s all filled out, put it somewhere your kiddo can see it.  Then, when you notice your child getting upset, prompt them to go find their Inside Out Feelings Worksheet, identify how they feel (help them, if needed due to age or development), then identify a calming strategy to use to calm down.

Posted in Emotion Regulation

Push-Pull-Dangle for Emotional Regulation

An amazing kiddo that I work with taught me a new calming strategy that can be used at while sitting in a chair.  I love this idea for two BIG reasons.  First, it can be done at school without being disruptive.  Second, it can be done discreetly – I have worked with lots of kids who don’t want people to see/know that they’re trying to calm down.

So the strategy is called “push-pull-dangle” and there are 3 steps.

  1. Put your hands on the top of your chair seat and push as hard as you can.  Depending on how long your arms are and how strong you are, your bottom might come off the seat.
  2. Put your fingertips on the underside of your chair and pull, so that you’re pulling your bottom/body into your chair seat.
  3. Let your arms dangle loosely at your side.

This seems to be a form of a muscle tension/relaxation calming strategy – you tense your muscles by pushing and pulling, then relax them by letting them dangle.

Give it a try yourself, and maybe teach it to your kiddo to give them another tool to use to help them stay calm when overwhelmed with negative emotions!

Posted in Parenting

Finding Balance: It’s Ok To Do Some Things For Your Child, But Maybe Don’t Do Everything For Them

An article came out a while back (I don’t remember specifically who wrote it or how/where it was published) suggesting that parents not do things for their children once their children are old enough to do it themselves. When I read the article, I took it as meaning that children should be able to complete some daily tasks themselves. Being responsible for chores and tasks can promote independence and teach valuable life skills. It can also reduce parental stress by putting some small responsibilities (e.g. making lunch, folding laundry, picking out clothes) on your kiddo.

I didn’t think much more about it until I saw a response article… basically, the author who responded felt “called out” because she still brushed her daughter’s hair, even though the daughter was old enough to do it herself. This article suggested that parents continue doing things for the child, even when they’re capable of doing it.

So who is right and who is wrong?! Neither?  Both?  I think both.  I think it’s all about finding a balance that works for you and your family.  The rough thing about parenting advice is that what works for one child/family may not work for another.  When my husband and I were preparing for the arrival of our daughter, everyone we talked to said babies love to be swaddled.  So we bought a ton of swaddle sleep sacks.  Guess what?  Our little girl HATED them.  She was so angry, from day 1, if her arms weren’t free!

What I got from these articles is that you want to teach your child new skills and give them some responsibility by having them complete some tasks, but that doesn’t mean you cannot do ANYTHING for them.  Acts of Services is one of The Five Love Languages.  My husband and I do things for each other all the time as an act of love.  I’m a grown woman and my mother still does nice things for me sometimes, even though I’m capable of doing them.  It’s absolutely Ok to do some things for your child as an act of love!  Again, it’s about finding balance.

The mom who wrote the response article gave me the impression that brushing her daughter’s hair is a bonding moment for the two of them.  I wouldn’t want to let that go either!  If I were that mama, I’d probably want to continue that tradition for as long as my kiddo would let me.  But on the other hand, parents who do every. single. thing. for their children might regret it later when their child grows up and cannot do anything for themselves (think college student who can only cook Easy Mac…).

As my daughter grows older, I want to teach her how to do things around the house and I want to teach her to bake and cook.  I want her to be able to bathe herself and paint her own nails and brush her hair and maybe even braid her hair.  But that doesn’t mean I’m going to expect her to always do everything for herself once she knows how.  I want her to be able to and I want her to have some responsibilities, but I’m her mom and I also will want to do nice things for her.