10 Simple Tools from Parenting and Psychology Experts that will Make You a Better Parent

This is part of a two piece series I did for a Positive Parenting Conference. It is FREE from May 22nd until May 26th. All the speakers are amazing and have really learned a lot about how to help my children become successful, happy, and intelligent adults. It is well worth your time.

10 Simple Tools from Parenting and Psychology Experts that will Make You a Better Parent

Why does parenting have to be so complicated!?!

There are so many things to know! And not just know, but to be an expert on. During my almost 12 years of parenting I feel like have had to become an executive assistant, strategic planner, dietician, psychologist, nurse, and wizard. (If only that last one came with a wand!)

And I’m constantly searching the Internet for ways I can be a more effective parent. That’s why I go looking for simple and easy tools. I don’t have time for complicated and hard!

I was helping Sumitha summarize the “deep dive” talks for her FREE online Positive Parenting Conference and I found myself jotting down note after note about the simplest things I can do to help get through my most complicated parenting issues.

Like handling school stress. Just last night my oldest called me into his room at bedtime and let out all his anxiety and anger about these Basic Skills Tests that he and his class have been taking for the last 9 days. It turns out that he’s so anxious his feelings are leaking into his relationships with his friends and coming out as anger.

Because of all these amazing experts I was able listen to him and then help him to express his anxiety and reframe these tiffs and hard words with his friends into something not quite so scary. (You’ll read more about all that below!)

I’ve put together a list of these simple tools from 10 amazing experts that helped me with the parenting issues I feel most at-sea about. I know they will help you, too!  —> CLICK HERE

6 Simple Perspective Shifts that Will Transform Your Parenting

One of my latest gigs was to help out Sumitha Bhandarkar, the editor of AFineParent.com summarize some interview she did. These weren’t just any interviews. These were interview with experts in the parenting field: Psychologists, Parentologists, Therapists, and Counselors. The talks were about everything from bullying to emotional intelligence to getting cooperation to how the Dutch parent/see the world.

I also did two round-up pieces for her. This one below is from the Perspective Shifting segment of the conference. And I have to say they did shift a lot of my perspectives on different bits of my parenting.

This conference is from May 22 – 26th and is FREE!!!! But only for those dates, so mark them on your calendar. (If you miss it you can buy copies of the talks.) So I highly encourage you to read through and see what advice these experts have to offer you.

And some of the talks aren’t just for parents. They are for anyone who has to get along with people. (So that makes 99% of us, right?)

6 Simple Perspective Shifts that Will Transform Your Parenting

Here’s a parenting conundrum for you…

Sometimes you chug along… Everything flows smoothly. You are on top of your game. Every time you see your friends struggling with this particular aspect of parenting, you wonder: Why? What is the big deal?

And then there are other times when you just can’t seem to get something right. It doesn’t matter how hard you try or how many new “techniques” you test… some issues that bothered you when your kids were 3, are still issues when they are 13. And you’re just stuck and spinning your wheels.

Case in point: I have a tween. Some days we are getting along great. He wants to spend time with me. We are having deep conversations about what is going on in his life. I’m rejoicing that we have such a close and loving relationship. And then I’m suddenly on a tilt-a-whirl! Suddenly he’s mad and shouting and then I’m shouting and then WHAM! He’s stomped up to his room and slammed the door. It doesn’t matter how many times we go through this it’s always the same and I just can’t figure out why.

What gives? Why is it that we are so good at a few things, and suck at others?

Turns out there is a simple explanation – perspective.

I was putting together the summaries for the talks at the FREE online Positive Parenting Conference that Sumitha is working on, and every now and then the speaker would say something that made me go “Aha!”

These are fundamental shifts that knock down some long held belief or value. Or makes you see things in a completely different light.  It’s these that make the difference between whether we ace an aspect of parenting, or struggle with it endlessly.

I’ve put together a few of these perspective shifts for you to consider. Take a look. Who knows… maybe one of these will transform one of your “I don’t know what to do” items into a “I’ve totally got this” item!

Alright, here we go –

Parenting Bravely

I wrote this shortly after we’d arrived back to the US from Switzerland. Being here I realized how much parenting in the US is driven by fear. Fear of what could happen. Fear of what will happen.

So I wrote How to Parent Bravely in a Culture of Fear. I hope it resonates with you, too.

How to Parent Bravely in a Culture of Fear

I long, in a romantic, nostalgic way, for the days of my childhood.

Running in open fields. Biking down the road with my friends. Building forts and dams down by the creek. Camping in the woods.  With nary an adult in sight.

But that nostalgic longing isn’t about me.  I am sad my kids can’t experience the wild freedom of my childhood.

And why can’t I give my kids have that same carefree childhood that I had?

Fear.

I fear for my children. For their safety. I fear that they will be kidnapped. Hit by a car. Harmed by doing something because they didn’t think through to their consequences.  I fear the consequences will be more than I can bear.

Parenting isn’t for wimps. It is soul-wrenchingly awful to let your heart out of your body and go walking around where you have no control and can’t protect it.

Before I had even realized it, I had forgotten the carefree joys of my childhood. And had turned into a clichéd helicopter parent.

I would strive to shield them from all consequences. I would hold their hands tightly as we crossed any street. I would stop them just as they were about to jump off the playground equipment, a mere 2 feet in the air.

It takes a lot of guts and bravery to let our children go and live their lives. I used to think that moving across the country alone with 2 suitcases, no job, and $1000 was the bravest thing I ever did.

Nope. Now I realize, that pales in comparison to parenting.

Parenting has been the scariest thing I’ve ever attempted. I think I was more terrified than my kids on their first day of pre-school. And that was only the start!

I couldn’t keep going down that path though. Because soon I realized, as kids grow older, so do the number of things I could be scared of. Continuing down that path of fearful parenting would someday have lead me to a nervous breakdown.

I chose to learn how to parent bravely. It hasn’t always been easy. And it’s a conscious effort. Here are 4 key things I learned along the way.

How to Make the Most of Visiting Grandparents who Love Spoiling Children

This article appears at A Fine Parent, the online parenting blogazine.

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You know what they say about too much of a good thing?

Yeah, that’s kind of what visiting grandparents is like for us.

Every summer and winter holiday we go to the Midwest for a long visit with both sets of grandparents.

My kids love it. Which isn’t surprising at all considering how much both our parents love spoiling grandchildren.

My kids eat more ice cream in those few weeks than they do all year round. They’re allowed to stay up late. They consume more television than is humanly possible. They play all day, every day.

On one hand, it’s lovely. I love that my kids get to do this.

But it also drives me crazy.  No homework gets done. Kids are tired and cranky from missing bedtimes and getting up early. Vegetables are a distant memory.

And I end up with the unsavory task of wrestling things back to normal when we get back home.

Time at Grandma and Grandpa’s is special. It should be. I don’t want to get in the way of that.

At the same time, I don’t like how out of balance my parenting feels by the end of the trip.

So for the past couple of years now, I’ve been trying out a few tricks to make the most of the fact that my kids have such wonderful grandparents, while at the same keeping it from straining my own relationship with my parents, or my kids.

Here are 4 things that have really helped:

How to Help Your Anxious Child

This is an article I wrote that has been published on the site www.AFineParent.com. We all have have moments of anxiety. Here is how to help your child, and even yourself, through those anxious moments.

How to Help Your Anxious Child Grow Up to Be a Happy Person

That knot in the pit of your stomach?

That hand squeezing your chest?

That voice telling you this is all going to go horribly wrong?

That is anxiety, my friends.

It’s hard enough to deal with that feeling of dread and worry in myself, but it’s heart breaking when my kids look up at me with big blue eyes full of worry and tears and tell me, “I just can’t do it, Mommy.

Both of my boys have struggled with anxiety.  My oldest was bullied in 2nd grade. The constant verbal assaults on him resulted in stomachaches, headaches, begging to be homeschooled, not sleeping, and going to the bathroom every 30 minutes. All are on the menu of classic symptoms of acute anxiety.

My youngest just seems to be a worrier. About once a week he comes out with some new thing to worry about. Currently his greatest worry is that he won’t make enough money from his art to support himself.  He is 6.

My kids aren’t alone in being anxious worriers. Every child experiences some anxiety. Before tests. At concert performances. The first day at a new school.

Anxiety and nervousness are normal as long as it doesn’t get in the way of their everyday lives. Once that happens it’s time to seek some professional support.

So if your child is a worrier who does not need professional intervention, how can you help them process through these moments of chest-tightening, stomach churning worry and learn to lead a calmer, happier life?

Here’s what I’ve found –

 

How to Raise a Good Sport – especially when you have a competitive child.

This article was just published at AFineParent.com. I am thrilled to be a contributor to this web magazine and share my parenting experiences with all of you.

How to Raise a Good Sport

Good game, high-5; Good game, high-5; Good game, high-5; Good game, high-5…

At 8 years old, being a good sport was about hiding your disappointment when you lost and not bragging too much when you won. It was exhibited in a line of little girls delivering hand-slaps and “good games” before running to the coolers behind the bench to claim grape sodas.

As I got older, sportsmanship became about more than losing a game without throwing a temper tantrum. It became about handling yourself, on and off the field, with style and dignity no matter what the outcome.

Now I’m a parent with a super-competitive child and sportsmanship has never been more important.

My oldest has always been highly competitive. He needs to win. He must be first. Otherwise he can get very frustrated. He has always been this way. In pre-school he used to bolt down as much food as he could and then say he was full, even though he had half his lunch left, so that he could be first to the washing up station.

This is terribly ironic considering that from the minute we decided to have children my husband and I were determined to raise our children to be non-competitive good sports.

None of this “Second place is the first loser,” or “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing,” mentality for us. We emphasized fun over winning, asking him “Did you have fun?” before we asked anything else.

Yet, here we are with a 10 year old who will do anything to win – including cheat – and cries like his heart is broken when he loses.

Nature vs. Nurture. The struggle is real, y’all.   (To jump to the whole article, Click Here!)

How to Teach Your Child to Curse

My latest parenting article is out and published at AFineParent!

It’s called How to Stop Your Kids’ Swearing “Experiments” from Becoming Habits.

(Caution: This article contains salty words)

“Bitch!”

The shock I feel when I hear my sweet little child swear never quite goes away.

Who said that? I think, still jolted off balance.  Where did he learn that kind of language anyway?

In our case it was the tram: a treacherous place where my children are receiving their first exposure to the Real World.

In our urban Swiss life-style, our ride to school comes complete with teenagers making their way to the English language high school. It makes me cringe every time I hear a high schooler drop some “colorful metaphors” (as the late, great Leonard Nimoy called them in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home).  I always look at my children to see if they are listening.

And, of course, they always are.

Swearing. Curses. Profanities. Obscenities. Vulgarities. Expletives. Everyone uses them at some point. Some people have perfected the art of speaking complete sentences made entirely out of expletives.  Comedians thrive on the titillation they create with salty language.  For example, George Carlin’s most popular routine was his Seven Words You Can’t Say on TV.

Our society is fascinated with swearing. From explicit lyric labels to FCC regulations, it seems we spend a great deal of energy thinking about colorful language.

Is swearing ever okay though?

Studies have shown that when you drop an F-bomb or two after smacking your shin against the coffee table you actually experience less pain.  Swear words are also highly effective for expressing strong feelings.  “Jerk!” doesn’t quite have the same punch of emotion as “Asshole!”

However in both examples above, the relief or release felt is lesser for someone who uses expletives all the time than for someone who hardly ever does.  And company you’re in determines whether the repercussions of swearing are worth the temporary relief. So it does pay to be judicious with your swearing.

People also swear as part of mastering a language.

Think about all the babbling your child did as a baby. Amongst all the cute cooing and babbling they began making meaningful connections between those sounds and objects around them. Suddenly mamamama became Mama!

Once they mastered the vocabulary they began to understand nuances like irony and sarcasm. Then came experimentation with alternative meanings to words. And in the final phase of developing linguistic mastery we hear swearing.

Understanding the nuances of swearing, when and where it is acceptable, is a crucial part of becoming indoctrinated into a culture and developing maturity.  Because it’s taboo, kids swear with peers whom with they feel safe. Swearing with friends is a sign of acceptance and equal standing within the group.

So ok, hard as it is for me to admit as a parent, there is a time and place were swearing might be okay.

But I definitely don’t want my kids swearing experiments to turn into a habit.

What can I do? Here’s what I’ve found helps –  —>