Stress-Free Parenting with easy 8 steps

Stress free parenting with 8 East Steps
The fact about being a parent is that our children are always watching us, taking their cues about how to manage life’s ups and downs from what they observe us doing. Whether we’re gripping the steering wheel on a red light because we’re running late, or shouting at someone who took the parking space we had our eye on, our kids are always observing. Whenever we manage stress in unhealthy ways – with anger, blame, yelling and so forth – basically we are teaching our children to do the same. Sometimes it is hard to manage life’s difficult moments but we should always look for healthier ways to relieve of your stress. Below are some tips that should help to reduce your stress:

  1. Make your life simple: Most of the time we take on more than what we can handle, and then feel stressful about having said “yes” when we wanted to say “no.” Trimming your commitments down to those that are either important, bring you pleasure or satisfaction of some kind.
  1. Don’t take it personally: Have you ever thought why a particular incident can cause one person to feel awfully hurt, while another thinks it off as no big deal? People who are more laid-back don’t take things as personally, and are less caught up in winning approval. Rather than letting your blood boil when your mother-in-law suggests that she never had problems getting her children to clean up their toys (really?), allow her comments to roll off your back without turning them into a assertion about your worth as a mother.
  1. Get good sleep: One of the best ways to increase your ability to deal with stress is to get more rest. The average person needs 7 to 8 hours a sleep to recharge. When we don’t get enough sleep, we can experience problems with mood swings, focus, memory, tiredness and stress. If you need to take an afternoon nap with your toddler instead of tackling the dirty dishes, take the nap. The more rested you feel, the better you’ll be able to deal with life’s challenges. 
  1. Be social and get help: For many parents, the tasks involved with raising children are never-ending and makes them keep running from morning to night. If you’re tired, exhausted or need a break, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Meet a few other parents who will swap school drop offs, pick ups, or even join a rotating homework club that moves from house to house. We are meant to raise children in a tribe or with the support of an extended family. If you don’t have a network of helpful, trustworthy people to depend upon, sure it’s time to create one.
  1. One thing at a time: Many of us as parents try to juggle far too many errands at once, in the name of efficiency. Slow down and focus on the one thing you’re doing at a given time – whether it’s serving a meal or giving a bath to your toddler. Even more important to give your children your undivided attention for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day when you aren’t trying to get them to do something. Getting your positive attention will have the extra benefit of motivating your children to be more supportive.
  1. Exercise and long breathing: One of the best ways to strengthen you against stress is to exercise regularly. I understand not all of us can make it to gym, but think about what you loved to do when you were a child. Did you like to jump rope? Ride your bike? Choose something that you really enjoy, and consider finding an exercise buddy to make it more fun. A few slow, long and calming breaths can immediately reset your stress-clock. Some people like to recite a word or phrase like Ommmm… or Buzzzz.. or sing while breathing deeply. You may want to explore meditation as well. Whatever gets you breathing and physically relaxed will help you manage your difficult moments with more grace and peace. Not only will you be better able to manage with stress – you’ll be in better health, too.
  1. Play with your kids: Remember your childhood what it was like to have fun? For many parents, life is about crossing things off a to-do list. Without time built into each day for nourishing our spirit, we become more vulnerable to frustration and stress. Laugh, tell jokes, draw, have a dance contest with your children. These small acts can make a big difference in your stress level by helping you reconnect with the playful and happy parts of yourself that can get buried under the list of things-to-do.
  1. Imperfection is ok: Most of us have internalized someone else’s voice in our head – a critical teacher or parent, perhaps – and feel that we’re never good enough. Aiming for constant perfection creates constant stress. If you’re too tired to clean your house before your guests come for dinner, allow your best to be good enough.

In today’s fast-paced world – life can wear you down, causing you to be ever more helpless to stress as you feel burdened by the never-ending demands placed upon you.  Consider these steps and take time to reconsider where you can make adjustments in your daily life that will help you handle those difficult experiences more easily. You’ll not only be doing yourself a favor – your children will benefit from seeing their mom and dad takes care of themselves. Teach them they can also learn to manage life’s frustrations in much healthier ways.

5 Steps to Keep Your Child Disciplined yet happy

Discipline is as much an important ingredient of having happy children as nurturing. As a counselor I see so many problems are the result of parents not implementing consistent rules and consequences. The boundaries created by rules and structure help make kids feel safe, as much at age 16, as at age 2. Another problem happens when a parent is so sensitive to discipline that the parent’s feelings of frustration build up. And then parent ends up yelling at the child or even spanking him/her, and nothing makes a child feel more inferior, than, being yelled at or being spanked. Here are five steps for healthy discipline along with love and nurturing — they are essential ingredients to a child’s happiness and growth.

1) Parents should have same views on disciplining their children
Most couples, when they get married, don’t discuss their views on disciplining their children. So they often find that they have different parenting styles, with one of them fairly strict and the other more soft and easygoing. Sometimes it takes family therapy or marriage counseling for parents to agree on how to discipline their children. Having parents who aren’t on the same page is a major cause of childhood and teenager behavior problems. Parents need to set rules together about meals, bedtime, homework, sleepover etc.

2) Discipline peacefully without raising your voice
Giving children a count of 3 to do what you are asking is a good way to avoid raising your voice. The child will probably test the count of 3 but if parents are following the rules and give the child a time out or other penalty after the count of 3, then the child will learn that the parents are serious about following the guidelines they set.

3) Age appropriate rewards and timeouts for their behaviors
Rewards for toddlers/preschoolers can often benefit e.g. simple sticker charts. School going children can benefit from knowing that if they earn enough points they get to choose to read to someone, can go to playground or monitor the class. For older kids have the privilege of spending time with friends on the weekends. Only allow a teen to borrow the car if he has done all of his chores on time throughout the week.

Time-out area should be easily accessible and in such a location that the child can be easily monitored while in time-out. Generally for younger kids it is considered more effective to have short period of time-out (about 5-10 minutes), rather than long periods such as half an hour to one hour.

4) The “3 Fs” of positive discipline outcome
FIRM:
 Rules should be clearly stated and then followed when the inappropriate behaviors occurs. For example: Giving children a “count of three” to do what you are asking is a good way to avoid problems. The child will probably test the “count of three”. (Our kids would push us to 2 ½, 2 5/8, and so forth). But if parents are consistent, and give the child a time out or other consequence after the count of 3, the child will learn that his parents mean business.

FAIR: The punishment should fit the crime. Also in the case of inappropriate behavior, penalty should be stated in advance so the child knows what to expect. Harsh punishment is not necessary. Using a simple Time Out can be successful when it is used every time the inappropriate behavior occurs.

FRIENDLY: Use a friendly but firm message when letting a child know they have misbehaved. Encourage them to try to remember what they should do instead to avoid future penalty. Work at “catching them being good” and praise them for appropriate behavior.

5) Don’t pressure anything that you can’t implement:
When a parent creates pressure out of anger such as “You are stuck for the rest of the summer,” it is unrealistic. When parents calm down and think about what penalty they can practically implement (e.g. “You are grounded this weekend”), discipline will be more consistent. Use helping chores as penalty when your child misbehaves. Children and especially teenagers expect to be punished when they break the rules. They will actually feel better when they know they are helping their mother with her household chores.

1-on-1 Time with Your Child

1-on-1 time‘One on one time’ means, spending quality time with just one child, making time to connect, giving them personal attention and filling their emotional bucket. It has proved to be the best parenting tools. When a child is out of sorts, struggling, pushing buttons, or losing it left and right – even if you can’t figure what is going on and how to fix it – understand that “one on one” time will help to communicate, and deal with issues before they become overwhelming for the family.

Apart from being a great parenting tool, it’s also enjoyable. I like my children (even when they are driving me crazy), I like spending time with them especially without the interruption of others.

The more kids you have the more important one on one time is. So start making that calendar. Start planning that ‘Mom and son date night’, and that day out for your daughter. It doesn’t have to take lots of preparation, cost money, or even take hours of your time. It can be just as valuable in small snippets, as part of daily life.

5 ways to spend 1-on-1 time with our children, despite other commitments.

1) Take Your Child’s help.
No one said one on one time had to be all outdoor fun and playing board games, and just because you really need to make dinner or do the grocery shopping doesn’t mean you don’t have time for a little quality time with your child.

One of my favorite one on one time activities is to take one child with me to do the grocery shopping. I get a helper, we get uninterrupted time to talk while we drive, they get the perk of choosing what food we buy, and we enjoy time just the two of us.

Cooking meals together is another good one on one time. Folding the washing works too, even if you are the one doing it and putting it away while your child sits and chats next to you, that still counts as one on one time.

2) It Doesn’t take Lot of Time.
Spending ten minutes with each child at bed time is my secret parenting weapon. I have a chance to check in with each child, talk about the good stuff from that day, and the not so good stuff, and just generally have a snuggle and reconnect. I know bedtime can be hectic but for us ten minutes each night is time well spent.

Look for other snippets of time during the day – a few minutes snuggle on the couch, ten minutes outside throwing a ball, a quick board game together… none of these things take long but they all add up.

3) Driving Time is the Best.
When there isn’t much quiet time to talk, driving my children somewhere is the perfect time for a talk. On the way to an appointment, a quick trip into town, on the way to school or an activity or play date, there is something about sitting in the warm, quiet car together that always gets my kids chatting. Or sometimes we just turn up a favorite song really loud and sing at the top of our lungs!

4) Family members Help.
Sometimes, when I can see that one of my children really needs to be looked after and there is just no room in my schedule to manage it, I bring in reinforcements. A day with a grandparents or favorite aunt/uncle can help fill your child’s bucket.

Even though it’s not the same as being with a parent, but it does have it’s own advantages – having adults other that their parents that my kids trust and feel connected to is important and something I want to encourage, and a grandparents always know how to make kids feel special.

5) Just Do It!
We know this one on one time is important, we know it has benefits for all of us, so sometimes, you just need to make it happen. Make it a priority, find time in your schedule, mark it on the calendar and just do it.

12 Tips for Positive Parenting Your Strong-Willed Child (Part 2)

.. continued from Part 1

7. Side-step power struggles by letting your child save face.  You don’t have to prove you’re right. You can, and should, set reasonable expectations and enforce them.  But under no circumstances should you try to break your child’s will or force him to acquiesce to your views.  He has to do what you want, but he’s allowed to have his own opinions and feelings about it.

8.  Listen to her. You, as the adult, might reasonably presume you know best.  But your strong-willed child has a strong will partly as a result of her integrity. She has a viewpoint that is making her hold fast to her position, and she is trying to protect something that seems important to her. Only by listening calmly to her and reflecting her words will you come to understand what’s making her oppose you.  A non-judgmental  “I hear that you don’t want to take a bath.  Can you tell me more about why?” might just elicit the information that she’s afraid she’ll go down the drain, like Alice in the song. It may not seem like a good reason to you, but she has a reason.  And you won’t find it out if you get into a clash and order her into the tub. So next time your child balks, say “I hear that you want…..Tell me more…”

9.  See it from his point of view.  For instance, he may be angry because you promised to wash his superman cape and then forgot.  To you, he is being stubborn.  To him, he is justifiably upset, and you are being hypocritical, because he is not allowed to break his promises to you, but you broke yours to him.  How do you clear this up and move on?  You apologize profusely for breaking your promise, you reassure him that you try very hard to keep your promises, and you go, together, to wash the cape.  You might even teach him how to wash his own clothes! Just consider how would you want to be treated, and treat him accordingly.

10. Discipline through the relationship, never through punishment. Kids don’t learn when they’re in the middle of a fight.  Like all of us, that’s when adrenaline is pumping and learning shuts off.  Kids behave because they want to please us.  The more you fight with and punish your child, the more you undermine her desire to please you. If your kid is upset, help her express her hurt, fear or disappointment, so they evaporate. Then she’ll be ready to listen to you when you remind her that in your house, everyone speaks kindly to each other. (Of course, you have to model that. Your child won’t always do what you say, but she will always, eventually, do what you do.)

11. Offer him respect and empathy. Most strong-willed children are fighting for respect.   If you offer it to them, they don’t need to fight to protect their position.  And, like the rest of us, it helps a lot if they feel understood.  If you see his point of view and think he’s wrong — for instance, he wants to wear the superman cape to church and you think that’s inappropriate — you can still offer him empathy and meet him part way while you set the limit. “You love this cape and wish you could wear it, don’t you?  But when we go to services we dress up, so we can’t wear the cape.  I know you’ll miss wearing it.  How about we take it with us so you can wear it on our way home?”

12. Focus on the positive. Instead of getting stuck in your fear about what you don’t want, which just pushes your child into opposing you, focus instead on what you DO want. So instead of saying “NO” or “Don’t” try to rephrase it as “You may do this now” or “Let’s do this” or “I need you to do X so we can then do Y.”

12 Tips for Positive Parenting Your Strong-Willed Child (Part 1)

1. Avoid power struggles by using routines and rules.  That way you are not bossing them around, it’s just that “The schedule is to lights-out at 8pm.  If you finish things in time, we’ll have time for two books,” or “In this house, everyone must finish homework before screen time.”  The parent stops being the bad guy.

2. Remember that strong-willed kids are experiential learners. This means they have to see for themselves if the stove is hot. So unless you’re worried about serious injury, it’s more effective to let them learn through experience, instead of trying to control them. And you can expect your strong-willed child to test your limits repeatedly–that’s how she learns. Once you know that, it’s easier to stay calm and avoid wear and tear on your relationship–and your nerves.positive_parenting

3. Your child wants mastery more than anything.  Let her take charge of her own activities.  Don’t nag at her to clean her desk “Is there anything that needs to be organized before the next day?”  If she looks blank, give her a short list: “Every evening we make beds, clean desk and ready the backpack. Now, what do you still need to do before we hit the bed?”  Kids who feel more independent and in charge of themselves will have less need to oppose. They may take responsibility early.

4.  Give your child choices.  If you give orders, he will almost certainly bristle.  If you offer a choice, he feels like the master of his own destiny.  Of course, only offer choices you can live with and don’t let yourself get resentful by handing away your power.  If going to the dentist is non-negotiable and he wants to keep watching tv, an appropriate choice is:  “Do you want to leave now or in ten minutes? Okay, ten minutes then and please no fuss. Hope you will switch tv off 2 minutes early so we are not late.”

5. Give decision-making authority over their body. “I note you don’t want to wear your blazer today.  It’s cold so I am definitely wearing mine. You are your own boss but I’m afraid that you will be cold once we are outside, and I won’t want to come back to the house again. How about I put yours in the backpack in case you change your mind later?”  Once she won’t lose face by wearing her jacket, she’ll be begging for it once she gets cold.  It’s just hard for her to imagine feeling cold when she’s so warm right now in the house, and a jacket seems like such a hassle. You don’t want to undermine that self-confidence, just teach her that there’s no shame in letting new information change her mind.

6. Don’t push him into opposing you. Force always creates “push-back”  – this is true with humans of all ages.  If you take a hard and fast position, you can easily push your child into defying you, just to prove a point.  You’ll know when it’s a power struggle and you’re invested in winning.  Just stop, take a breath, and remind yourself that winning a battle with your child always sets you up to lose what’s most important: the relationship.  When in doubt say “Ok, you can decide this for yourself.”  If he can’t, then say what part of it he can decide, or find another way for him to meet his need for autonomy without compromising his health or safety.

See Part 2

Manage ADHD Naturally

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects 3 to 5 percent of school-age children, causing symptoms such as inattentiveness, frenetic activity, anxiety and forgetfulness.

Kids with ADHD typically respond to drug prescriptions designed to provide calm and focus, but some of these can cause unpleasant side effects like appetite changes and muscle spasms. Experts suggest considering these natural options to complement an afflicted child’s integrative treatment plan.

Managing Behaviortreating-adhd-without-drugs

1. Set boundaries: ADHD kids are often sensitive by nature. Many parents and teachers consider boundaries may be harsh or limiting. But these children can actually thrive with boundaries. Rather than offer kids unlimited choices, give them two or three options. This helps a child feel safe. Regard a troubled child as scared, rather than angry—this will enable parents and caregivers to speak to them with compassion.

2. Work with teachers: Some children with ADHD may have trouble fitting into traditional schools. When speaking with teachers, use collaborative words such as “partnership” to obtain healthy cooperation. Teachers have an entire class to attend to, not just this child; address them with respect and understanding, and everyone will ultimately benefit.

3. Lead by example: Parents have more power to handle their child’s ADHD than they think. Model the desired behaviors—if children are not allowed to eat in the living room, the rule should apply to the whole family. Maintaining consistent rules is vital.

Managing Nutrition

1. Omega-3s: According to University of Maryland Medical Center’s recent studies, kids with behavior problems have relatively low blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient vital for brain health. Children’s daily diets should contain omega-3-rich foods such as chia, hemp, nuts and fatty fish. For children 12+, supplement with fish oil containing 1,200 milligrams (mg) of (DHA) docosahexaenoic acid and (EPA) eicosapentaenoic acid combined.

2. Vitamin Bs: Vitamins B6 and B12 are considered important building blocks for brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Deficiency can impair nerve cell communication, hindering memory, focus and attention. Encourage children to eat B-packed organic foods like eggs, poultry, bell peppers, yams and spinach.

3. Magnesium: Low levels of magnesium can be associated with restless legs, anxiety and irritability—all of which can exacerbate ADHD. For kids ages 4 to 8, start with 130 mg of magnesium in the morning. If the child has trouble sleeping, another dose before bed may help. The dose must obviously be given after due consultation with physician.

4. Reduce gluten: Gluten is a complex assembly of many proteins that sticks to the digestive tract. This can stimulate behavioral issues. When gluten inflames a child’s digestive system, brain inflammation likely occurs, as well. Look for gluten-free pasta, bread, crackers and cookies made from rice, quinoa, flaxseed and non-GMO (genetically modified) corn.

5. Pair fats with food: Healthy brain function requires a proper ratio of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats to the more common inflammatory omega-6 fats (found in canola, soybean and corn oils). Encourage balance by eating omega-3 foods at mealtime, when the gallbladder releases bile into the digestive system, allowing better omega-3 absorption.

6. Avoid processed foods: High-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors such as Yellow 5, Blue 1 and Red 40 are linked to increased hyperactivity in children. Choose whole, real foods like whole grains and organic meats, vegetables and fruits. Use maple syrup rather than white sugar to sweeten foods – it’s full-flavored, so a little goes a long way.